Saturday, August 31, 2013

Synchronicity? Fate? . . . Or just a strange coincidence?

We authors will cling to hope wherever we can find it.  In an effort to boost sales and soar to the top of the bestseller lists I decided I needed a little more juice. Bugging my friends and relatives to buy my book will only take you so far. And this idea of leaving my business cards—showing the cover of my book and a short teaser—at every Starbucks I visit is leaving me over caffeinated and a lot lighter in the wallet.
The other day, after an extra hot Venti Caramel Macchiato I went for a brisk walk in the balmy 94-degree weather. Caffeine will make you do that.  That’s why I prefer whiskey. Anway, I digress; I think you may have noticed I do that a lot, again it’s the caffeine. As a matter of fact, I’m drinking another Venti outside my local Starbucks as I speak, so to speak—I do most of my blogging here. Sitting across from me at this moment is an old homeless guy. It was the only spot left and I didn’t want to make him think I was shunning him.  He is babbling incessantly, I can’t understand what he is saying though, could be something profound, but probably not. Should I offer him a venti Caramel Macchiato? I’m torn. I’ve seen him before and noticed cups by his side that other customers have undoubtedly bought for him. But does he really need the caffeine? And if I buy him a decaf—
Wait a minute. He’s getting up and he just said, “Don’t, don’t, no, no . . .” And again something indecipherable. Problem solved, he’s picked up his bags and strolled away. Now I feel really bad. Could have at least offered him an iced tea. I’ll make a mental note to do that next time I see him.
Damn! There I go again with the digressing.
Back to the brisk walk and my synchronistic moment.
As I walked past the storefronts I noticed a stenciled sign in one of the windows: Internet Marketing Campaigns beginning at just $2,000.00 a month. Free 30 minute consultation
That’s what was missing . . . a campaign (have you noticed I love using those little dot, dot, dot thingies?).  For the past three weeks I had just been flailing away: a website here, Facebook page there, Twitter account and this lonely blog which is now viewed regularly by four people—not counting myself.
But $2,000.00 a month? I don’t think so. A free thirty minute consultation I could afford.
I confidently opened the door, and with my head held high, entered. Looking every bit the well-heeled businessman with my cargo shorts, flip-flops and purple tee-shirt (I only wear that one on laundry day) I surveyed the vast office space; a man sitting at one of the desks in this two-desk office jumped up and walked over with hand extended.
He asked—naturally enough—what he could do for me. I explained that I wrote a novel and I would soon be a bestselling author, so if he didn’t want to be left behind he better jump on the bandwagon before this train leaves the station. And to his incredulous and slightly bemused look I quickly added that I had been asked to join a very prestigious writing group.
Well, that stopped him dead in his tracks. His look of scorn turned instantly into one of newfound respect. He asked what the novel was about. I gave him one of those business cards that I leave at the Starbucks.
And that is when the synchronistic moment occurred.
He stared at the card and said, “Isn’t that strange? We have the same name.” And then he gave me his card: William Crawford, MBA. Under his name was one word in all caps: PRESIDENT I had gone straight to the top in this two-man office. The PRESIDENT, my namesake, said his middle name was David. I exclaimed, “Mine too!” It was a lie, but hey, you’ve gotta run with it when you have the chance.
I explained what I had been doing to promote the book, and he said I was doing everything right, just should have started my social media platform months before the book came out. Too late for that.
The good news is that since we have the same name, he took down my email and phone number and said he would brainstorm over the weekend and come up with some new wrinkles for me. He knows I can’t spend $2,000.00 a month, but again, since we have the same name he would work something out. Whatever that means.
Hopefully, you’ll be seeing a link in the next couple of blogs for his company—that means I got a real good deal.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nothing beats the recognition from one’s peers . . . except maybe sales?

Writing is a lonely task. Long hours hunched over a keyboard debating whether I should use an ellipses . . . or maybe an em dash—

Screw it (I’ll use a parenthesis).

For newer authors like myself, this can be an agonizing process. For famous authors? Not so much. They can break whatever grammar rules they want, because . . . well, they’re famous. And besides, they have an editor.

Where am I going with this? I guess I’m trying to say it’s good to be a famous author on the bestseller list, but it’s also nice to have your efforts acknowledged by your peers.

Recently I met an author who is a member of a small prestigious writing group that meets weekly from September through May.  In existence for over sixty years, group members have won numerous awards—the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize, James Jones First Novel Fellowship, William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition and on and on.  She mentioned that the group had a couple of openings and would be accepting manuscripts for evaluation. If you’re writing had merit, they might offer you a chance to join this prestigious group—moderated weekly by a well-known author, I might add.

That was back in June. Of course I immediately jumped on it. Last week I emailed the President of the group and asked if I could submit my novel. She asked about my writing experience; I told her it consisted of writing safety programs, policies and talks, along with a wildly popular Parody Book of the OJ Simpson saga back in the nineties. She didn’t sound too optimistic. Their members all had extensive writing experience, but there was no strict rule requiring it. They wouldn’t read the entire novel, but I could submit the first twenty pages and she would forward it to the manuscript committee. I thanked her and looked forward with anticipation to my “Dear John” letter.

Well lo and behold I heard back from her a few days later and was told that they were interested in my writing. She extended an invitation to attend their group, and see it in action.

Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked. Almost to the point of popping the cork on that bottle of Absinthe. But maybe I should wait until my book sales go through the roof or I get an agent and publisher.  Then I will go the whole nine yards (shouldn’t that be ten?) and get thoroughly and appropriately soused; sitting back in my leather pub chair, looking resplendent in my new tweed jacket, holding my briar smoking pipe. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Building Blocks of Success . . . or a Mixed up Rubik’s Cube?

Today I’m fully wired into the 21st century. Along with a website, Facebook page and this lonely blog, I am now a full-fledged member of the Twitterverse. And my first follower . . . drum roll please . . . The Weinstein Company.

What? Doesn’t ring a bell? Were talking Harvey Weinstein. Famous Hollywood producer. Friend of George Clooney.  Producer of academy award winning films: Inglourious Basterds, Blue Valentine, The Kings Speech and on and on.

And he or rather his company followed my first tweet—a shameless plug of my book and website. 

How does a company follow tweets anyway? That’s a question for Steve my web guy. If you need a website visit:

And Harvey and me are pretty, pretty close. How close? I’m sure you have heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, where everyone is connected to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less. Well Harvey and me have only two degrees of separation between us.

My friend Joe wrote a screenplay which Lorimar Pictures liked—that’s the first degree of separation (or is that two Joe and Lorimar?) And Harvey knows a lot of people at Lorimar—that’s the second degree of separation or third if you’re being a prick about it, or maybe you don’t count Harvey as a degree of separation, I don’t know. All I know is that we are practically related.

So any day I expect that Harvey’s people will be contacting my people and we will soon be inking a major deal for the movie rights to The Floating Man.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

The key to success . . . setting reasonable goals

When I published my soon to be someday bestseller The Floating Man at the beginning of August I knew it wouldn’t be an instant success. In order not to be discouraged, I set the modest goal of selling fifty books by the end of the month. Well I’m ready to pop the cork and celebrate. I smashed through the fifty barrier this morning.

Still haven’t seen any Kindle sales since August 17th. What’s up with that? Sales of my Nook eBook keep coming in every day but not Amazon. And I thought they were the big behemoth that was going to take over the world. I’m still hoping that there is a glitch with their sales reporting system. If that is so, then I could still see a big spike in Kindle sales.

To lend credence to this theory, yesterday my ranking on Amazon went from 270,000 to 57,000. And to throw water on that same theory, this morning my ranking went back up to 127,000.  My Nook ranking is 57,000 and holding steady. I think I’ll stop going to the sales reports every three minutes and clean the kitchen like I promised my wife two weeks ago.

Maybe I’ll wait on popping the cork on that bottle of Absinthe I ordered from France a few months ago. Need a better reason to tie one on and get completely smashed. For now I’ll stick with the Southern Comfort.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

There's Something Happening Here . . .

After sales of my soon to bestseller The Floating Man stalled at twenty-nine I began to get worried. Guess the number of friends and relatives I have is more than I can count on my toes and fingers—barely.

I needed to add some kindling to the smoldering embers that is my book. Fan the flames so to speak. I went to to get a little help. For five bucks you can buy what is called a ‘gig’—but it usually ends up being more with added gigs. It turns out that people will do just about anything for five bucks. I can get someone to paint the name of my book on their forehead and walk around Manhattan for a day, write a theme song for my book, write reviews, give my website a few hundred thumbs up, and even post a blurb and picture of my book on a Facebook page dedicated to 5000 e-readers.

I went with the Facebook posting and contacted Hans through Fiverr. The name Hans should have been a dead giveaway, but I’m a little clueless. Anyway, Hans posted a picture of my book on his Facebook page and allowed me the full 350 word blurb I use to describe the book (my first post has that in case you are interested—it’s towards the bottom. I’m nothing if not humble).

So now I am on a German Facebook page that reaches thousands of Germans. My post is in English, Danka Schoen, the rest is in German. I hear those Germans love a good mystery and I’m sure they are wondering why in the heck would an American post an English page on a German language Facebook page. They’re probably intrigued. Being intrigued is a good thing—so says Steve my web guy.

As long as I was throwing my money away (it’s all a tax write-off thanks to my Uncle Sam) I decided to throw another five into the log pile. Keep stoking those flames (did I tell you that one of my characters, an elderly man, is always stoking the flames? You’ll have to buy the book because he enters the story on around page 136 depending on if you buy an eBook or softcover). But I digress. I bought a gig that promotes my website and YouTube video.

And then it happened.

What it is ain’t exactly clear. Yesterday I got thirteen orders for the Nook version and this morning three more. But the Amazon Kindle version is still stuck on fifteen—the same number it was three days ago.

What’s up with that?

Here is my theory.

Admittedly an optimistic one, but we all need our little things to cling to. Kindle outsells Nook nine to one. So I should have sold nine times as many Kindle books. But Barnes and Noble gives you a separate figure on their Nook page for recent sales (today and yesterday). After that they transfer over to your monthly totals. My theory (and fervent hope) is that Amazon does not populate their Kindles sales every day; maybe they do it weekly. In that case I can expect nine times as many Kindle sales as Nook. So my sixteen Nook sales of the last two days should translate into one hundred forty-five Kindle sales—give or take a few.

Well now, my German Facebook page doesn’t look so stupid after all. And you know what? I’m going to throw another five into the pile and buy me a theme song for the book.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Showtime!

Today I’m meeting with my web guy, Steve. He says we have to do a YouTube video to promote the book. Something about cross-channel marketing. Steve says we have to drive people to the website. Building upon my previous blog of Rome not being built in a day, Steve says to think of Rome as my website. You want all your marketing roads to lead to Rome.

Steve certainly has a way with metaphors, or is it analogies? Probably a little of both. I like Steve. If you need a website and marketing advice, visit his webpage at:

Steve made me slip in a little cross-channel marketing for himself. He’s a very smart guy. All those ex IT guys are. And hey, if it keeps my costs down, that’s a beautiful thing.

Back to the video. I thought about donning some coke bottle lens glasses and my Billy Bob teeth and pretend that I was a paranoid author disguising my appearance. It would have been funny. But it would also give the wrong impression of the book. So I scratched that idea. Think we’ll go with a scrolling script with dramatic music in the background, instead. Something like:

In 1808 as Napoleon’s armies roamed across Europe, a scientist at a research lab in the little village of Arcueil, south of Paris made a major scientific breakthrough that would tip the balance of power in Europe. This man and his invention would soon become lost to history.

Until . . . two hundred years later.

John Hill, a former investigative reporter for the Washington Post, stumbles upon a story from 1830 about a Frenchman named Henri Richaud, touring the Eastern Seaboard performing aerial maneuvers with his amazing device. As he begins his hunt for the mysterious Henri Richaud, John Hill stumbles upon a government cover-up stretching back across two centuries and continents.

And the hunter soon becomes the hunted.

Will John Hill and his friends discover the secrets of Henri Richaud? Or will they die trying? Follow the epic tale, The Floating Man, now available on eBook at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Softcover available at CreateSpace.  Or read an extended excerpt at:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rome wasn't built in a day

Hmmm . . . this going from eBook to the NY Times Bestseller list is going to be a little harder than I thought. After a week on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and CreateSpace I’ve sold twenty-one copies of The Floating Man.

But I’m not worried. Besides living in my own little fantasy world, I have my own marketing plan. It consists of two words.

Start Small!

Well, I think I’m right on track in that regard.

And today, I expand my little universe and send an email to the members of the writer’s group that I belong to — all eighty members. If you are a believer in multi-level marketing, I think you know what this means: if each of the members spreads the word to ten of their friends, were talking eight hundred people. And if they spread it to ten of their friends, that’s eight thousand more. And on and on.

In fact, if all goes well, within a month I should have reached over a billion people. And if only ten percent of them buy my book, that means sales of over one hundred million. Of which, I should rake in a little over $17, 536.00

Seems kinda small potatoes to me, but my accountant explained it.

And if this multi-level marketing thing doesn’t work out, there is still my friend Biff.
I have to buy him a Kindle though.