Saturday, December 10, 2016

E-books or Print? My Own Thoughts and Feelings...

With the holidays coming fast, I thought now was the perfect time to cover a topic I'd hinted at many times: Print books vs. E-books.  


I will be the first to say that when e-readers came out I was more than a little skeptical.  I really didn't think they would take off the way they had.  Online newspapers I could see, because for one thing it was a great way of lessening the amount of paper going into landfills (in spite of the fact that me and great number of people out there try to recycle).  However, I also saw it as a chance for less trees to be cut down because let's face it, a number of them were being taken down in spite of all the paper recycling (yes I'm very much into 'green' living and recycling).  But I digress.  At the time I really did not see a lot of benefit coming from making books electronically available.  

Besides, I was already in love with bookstores.  They're like a magnets to me and my wife Helen.  And the books inside are like mint to a cat (catnip for those who don't get the reference), we go bonkers over books.  So you can understand why the concept of electronic books did not really capture my fancy... at first. 

However, things began to change when I tried my hand at writing.  I went the traditional route, looking for an agent, getting rejected, and so on and so forth for three years.  During that time I was told time and again I had something unique and interesting (i. e. my Para-Earth Series), BUT it was too unique.  I had crossed too many genres to the point that even agents who were interested had no idea who to try and sell the idea to.  Most publishers have been quite strict about genres and from what I understand still are.  So I had to take a few steps back and have a really long think about what to do.  


I could go back and whittle certain elements out and make the story a more traditional horror, or a mystery, a paranormal tale, or a work of pure science fiction.  But none of that appealed to me.  The people who had read or heard about what I was creating were fascinated BECAUSE I had created something entirely new and different.  To lose any of those elements would be tantamount to killing the entire series before it began.

Meanwhile, Helen and other writer friends had been talking about going the independent author route and use Createspace or some other print/electronic publishing system.  I'd be responsible for my own marketing, but as I found out through research, most traditionally published authors were responsible for their own marketing these days as well.  Unless you had the power of Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or some other mega-star author, most publishers don't help out as much as they used to.  

So I took the plunge and "The Bridge" saw the light of day.  As expected, I soon found e-sales rocketing while traditional paperbacks were only so-so.  This disappointed me in some ways, but I found the benefit of still having paperbacks available a benefit.  Because there are no substitutes for owning a SIGNED edition of a book in the eyes of even the most devoted e-reader fan.

Still I did not invest in any e-readers.  Oh from time to time I thought about it, just to see how my own works appeared so I could see if the formatting held up to the transition (I'm very particular about my work looking right for my readers).  But I still bought paperbacks and haunted used bookstores left and right.

Then last Christmas something unexpected happened.  Helen and I were given a Kindle by her mother as a gift.  


Helen took to it right away for its photographic capabilities, while I was pleased but slightly hesitant.  I guess a part of me was afraid just touching it would lead to me falling out of love with my beloved books.  But over time I found the internet function useful, but still I resisted trying to read a book on it.  The screen 'felt' too small and I didn't like not being able to see how much was left to read in each volume.  (I've since learned how to know the # of pages left)  But still, I held back. 

Then some of my fellow writers online were offering free copies of their books for an honest review in return.  Some had done this for me and I wanted to return the favor.  Plus, with our finances being so tight, a free-read seemed acceptable.  (also in one or two cases, they only had e-versions of their books) So I began downloading a couple of freebies and proceeded to read.  

I soon became quite comfortable with using the Kindle and even found my reading speed increasing, much to my surprise.  Eventually I started actually buying some new e-books every so often.  

Now, I suspect you're all thinking "That does it! He's hooked. Good-bye paper, HELLO Electronic!"  

To find out, you'll have to tune in next week when I complete this two-part entry.  Please understand I'm not just doing things this way because I'm hoping to really boost my numbers.  This topic is lengthy and I don't want one entry to become as long as the classic "War and Peace".  So please sit tight and I'll be back next weekend or sooner to finish my tale about print vs electronic and what the results turned out to be.

Until then, take care and keep writing!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

**** "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" Just Passed the 10,000 View Mark ****

For those of you who didn't know, I run another blog called "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" which just passed the 10,000 view mark! 

Here's the link for anyone who'd like to check it out:  http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/
 
I started this blog with the sole purpose of introducing the idea of a science-fiction vampyre who was truly similiar to the traditional vampires of lore. Nathan tries to avoid sunlight (although he can step out on cloudy and rainy days, and can actually walk in the light but only if he's loaded up on blood in advance since sunlight can dry him out to the point of becoming dust). He sleeps in the ground (because certain nutrients his body needs can only be absorbed from there). And he can shape-shift becoming a horde of rats, bats, dogs, mist, grow wings... but is restricted to how big he can do these things. He cannot make more than what there is of his physical being (law of mass). And of course, he is extremely long-lived.
 
The blog has been chronicling short stories about his long life and some of the people he has met over the last 150 years such as Mae West
 
the Marx Brothers,
Silent film stars like Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
 
 
Ballroom dancer turned heart-throb Rudolph Valentino
 
 
And many others he worked with in Vaudeville before they became movie stars, along with others whose lives he's touched such as victims of the Nazi Holocaust and simple everyday people. There are also entries from the supporting cast who allow you to see Nathan through their eyes. Their stories show many sides to him and why he has come to be a guardian angel who has watched over not only them but in some cases their parents, grandparents.
 
To date there are over 41 short and somewhat longer stories on the blog, with many more to come. I plan on bundling some of the stories next Christmas as an anthology, since there are so many entries on the blog for people to wade through these days.



 
 
In the meantime, please share the blog link with everyone you know and then help them to check out Nathan's first full-length novel story "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" where he comes back to his hometown Pointer, West Virginia. He has come back many times but this time its to stay to save the manor he called home from the wrecking ball, as well as the 1000 acres of pristine land which would fall prey to ruthless lumber companies and coal mining corporations.
 
Its a lonely homecoming, as far as he knows, but someone has been waiting for him to come back. Someone who saw him leave to fight in the Civil War back in 1862 and a year later died in his arms shortly after his transformation which occurred in a Para-Earth where he encountered two strange lifeforms. One which kept him alive, while the other wanted him destroyed... and still does. In fact, the latter has found its way into this reality and is now closing in on Pointer to finish him off once and for all for he's the only force that can keep it from absorbing all the dead in this world, even if it has to make more people dead to complete the job.
 
You can find the novel both in e-book and trade paperback form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble: 
Amazon:
 
Barnes and Noble:
 
For Apple and Kobo readers use Smashwords:
 
Thanks again and stay tuned for more short stories to be posted soon, including some new holiday tales involving Nathan and his extended family. Until then, keep reading and writing my friends.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

More About Gifting E-books...

A short while ago, I posted about gifting e-books and how simple it was.  For those who missed that entry, I'll briefly recap the basic idea here.  When one goes to Barnes and Noble or Amazon, you have the option of 'gifting' an e-book to someone and having a notice sent to their e-mail that they have a new book waiting for them.  The e-mail will also provide a link so that person can claim their gift.  Pretty straightforward and simple right?  Of course it is.  But there's also an added feature that allows you to determine when that e-mail goes out to the recipient.  You can schedule the day that e-mail goes out so they can be notified of the present on a specific day such as a birthday...




Christmas... 

Hannukah... 

or whatever the special occasion is.


However, there was one little feature I did not mention at the time I posted that entry and that is, any sales made as gifts will NOT be reflected in your sales report.  



Why?  Because until the gift is actually claimed by the recipient the sale is not considered FINALIZED.  I only found out about this recently myself when a person who had won a copy of "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" in a poetry contest run by my fellow author/blogger Aurora Jean Alexander (blog link: https://aurorajalexander.wordpress.com/).  I knew the sale had taken place from my end and that an e-mail had been sent to the recipient informing them the book was waiting.  But after several days I saw no sign of the sale on my KDP Report.  This confused me and as the weeks progressed I still did not see the sale show up, even though when I had 'gifted' someone an e-book previously the sale showed up rather quickly.

Puzzled, I got into contact with Amazon and was informed that until the gift was claimed the sale was not done and would not show up in the report.  I am following up with Aurora Jean to have her get in contact with the recipient to check their e-mail, specifically their 'Spam' filter, so they can claim their prize.

But this experience was an eye-opener for me and based on the number of thanks and kudos I got from fellow authors about my article on gifting e-books, I felt it important to share this new piece of information here.  I recently ran a 50% off sale on all the e-books in my Para-Earth Series and did not see much sales happening at all.  Then I remembered, I had mentioned in my advertising the benefits of 'scheduling' when the books should arrive and will be waiting until Christmas and Hannukah to see if sales were actually much better than I'd thought.

So the lesson here is patience my friends.  I still highly recommend gifting e-books and that all writers should mention the scheduling feature of when the book is to arrive.  Just don't be discouraged if sales don't seem to be picking up right away.  They may be waiting in the wings to surprise you especially around this holiday season.

So until next time.  Take care, be safe as you shop, and keep writing.