Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"HUNTER" is now a "Hot New Release in Romantic Suspense" on Amazon

I couldn't believe it when somebody on Kindleboards called my attention to the fact yesterday that Amazon had listed my novel HUNTER: A Thriller on its list of "Hot New Releases in Romantic Suspense." In fact, she reported it as #30 on the list.

When I checked, sure enough, it was on the list at #36. Since then, I've seen it as low as #24. Currently, as I write, it's #25. Which blows me away, of course.

And the reviews on Amazon have been amazing: No less than a dozen 5-star reviews as of this writing, with only one other review listed -- at 4 stars -- that reads as if it were a 5-star rave!

Same thing over at the book's page on Barnes & Noble, where there are three 5-star reviews, and nothing less.

Until the paperback is available, those without Kindles or Nooks have several options:

* Smashwords has the ebook available in multiple formats for downloading to pretty much any other ereader (Sony Reader, Kobo, etc.) or to any device that can double as an ereader.

* Amazon offers FREE Kindle reading "apps" that allow you to download an ebook like HUNTER to your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, or Windows 7 phone.

If you're not sure you'll like the book, you can also download a free sample of several chapters from the book's sales pages on Amazon (Kindle), on B&N (Nook), and on Smashwords (everything else).

And if you wonder whether to buy, despite the glowing reviews, the $3.99 price shouldn't pose much of an obstacle.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How we'll save the print-book industry

Many readers are lamenting the disappearance of bookstores and dire predictions of the collapse of the print book.

But those of you who love the feel and smell and look of print books on your bookshelves: take heart. The print book has a future.

The solution is already at hand: print-on-demand books (POD). It is a publishing model that can keep the print-book industry alive, but which completely undercuts the current book industry model, which is:

* From your expensive Manhattan offices, try to guess which manuscript, among all those sent to you by hordes of agents, will have a chance to return your investment;

* decide to print only those books, and reject the rest (even including great books that you guess "won't sell");

* offer the author an advance against sales -- then hope the book will sell enough to recoup what you paid him;

* invest gadzillions of dollars into a substantial print run on that book;

* send out a hired sales force to approach all the bookstores and retail outlets to carry it;

* ship the book to distributors like Ingram and Baker & Taylor, and to the big chain warehouses, where the copies are stocked;

* wait for the chains to send them to all their stores, guessing how many copies each might need;

* advertise heavily and expensively for those titles you think have the best shot, while ignoring the rest (and hoping that one or two of them "break out" and become surprise bestsellers);

* wait a month or six weeks to see how well it sells in the stores;

* if it doesn't sell, watch as the bookstores then ship all the unsold copies back to the publisher, and/or...

* stick the unsold copies on "remainder" tables, coast to coast, where they are sold at a fraction of retail to bargain-hunters.

This is an incredibly slow, cumbersome, and wasteful process in the digital age. It rejects, up front, a lot of books of merit because publishers think they won't be profitable, while accepting a lot of books that prove not to be profitable, anyway. It requires huge investments in resources, throughout the enormously expensive book pipeline, costs that jack up the price of books to the point where print-book sales are falling off a cliff, now (see the preceding link). It requires the customer to leave his comfortable home, burn ever-more-expensive gasoline, fight traffic, and to drive to some store, perhaps many miles away; then find parking in some mall lot; then wander the aisles looking for it...often only to find that the store may not carry the title, or may have run out. Then drive home.

In contrast, here's the POD (print on demand) model, used by Amazon's "Createspace" program and others:

* Accept pretty much any book manuscript, letting customers -- not the book industry, the reviewers, and the bookstore owners -- decide whether there's a market for it.

* Have the author send in his manuscript and book cover formatted digitally, so that you can then file it on your big computer.

* Wait for customer orders to come in.

* When they do, push a button, and a fully bound book pops out of a fancy machine, looking every bit as good as anything produced in NYC.

* Mail the book to the customer.

* Offer the author all rights to his work, and much higher royalties to participate than NY publishers do, because this process is so comparatively inexpensive that you can afford to.

Now, consider how many steps, how much time, and how many resources this model saves.

POD will be the salvation of the print-book industry, in my humble opinion. As bookstores close, the current publishing industry model, described above -- which depends entirely on bookstore outlets to hawk their wares -- will collapse, too. It's simply too cumbersome and inefficient in the digital age.

And for those of you who lament the disappearance of bookstores, you know what? POD will offer you more books than ever: not just new titles, but also backlist titles. If you're a thriller fan, like me, you can take heart in knowing that Alistair MacLean and Mickey Spillane will never go "out of print," because they'll live on a computer, waiting for their fans to order them. FOREVER.

When the big, traditional publishers wise up, they'll realize that they can monetize their backlist and out-of-print titles this way, and make untold millions. They are sitting on goldmines of past inventory, which they can't afford to market under the current business model -- but which are easy to release and market as ebooks and POD books.

Oh yes: Everything I just said goes double for ebooks. Which is why Amazon is killing the competition with its Kindle Direct Publishing, and why even J.K. Rowling has made the jump to ebook self-publishing.

THAT is the future of publishing, friends. Yes, books, whether ebooks or "pbooks," have a great future -- and so do authors like me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The face of the Self-Publishing Revolution: mine

On June 22, I joined the Self-Publishing Revolution by "indie" publishing my novel HUNTER: A Thriller. I'm just one of the latest authors to do this. And this trend is changing the face of publishing.

Never before have authors had so many options: traditional publishing, small-press publishing, "indie" (self) publishing, print publishing, audio publishing, ebook publishing, and who knows what else. New technology and free markets are creating a competitive landscape that is putting writers in the driver's seat, perhaps for the first time in history. Big publishers are being compelled to offer better deals, or else they'll lose big-name authors like J.K. Rowling.

Here's the face of the Self-Publishing Revolution:

I wrote my novel on a brilliant creative writing software package, WriteItNow, which cost me a grand total of $59. I finished up on Word, which I've had for years from an old job, and cost me nothing.

Today I filed my Avenger Books paperwork with the state. From a home computer. I have the necessary business account, post office box, (home) office. Paperwork cost: $25.

I contracted out for a first-rate book cover, done for just $250 bucks by a kid out of state. He did a blog header for me, just as cool, for another $250. And a great business logo for just $40.

My ebook and print-book formatting and layout were done by a guy in Britain, who turned around the entire job in 36 hours -- for a total of less than $150.

ISBN numbers were free from Smashwords and Amazon.

My photographer accepted a nice dinner in payment.

My web guy is building a new blog for my fiction...for free, as a showcase of his wares.

Cost of blog hosting: $48 per year.

Cost of domain name for a year: $9.

Cost of ebook uploading to Amazon: $0.

Amazon marketing cost of ebooks: 30%, leaving me 70% royalties.

Up-front cost of Amazon producing my print books: $0.

Distribution cost of print books: $39, for Amazon's enhanced distribution to the book trade, so that people can order the book at their local bookstores.

P.O. Box rental: about $45 for six months.

Ebook distribution costs: $0.

Online marketing costs: Just my time.

Print book costs (if books are bought and shipped by me): several dollars less than the total revenues on sales (i.e., I make a profit).

Bottom line: I've put out a good novel, in formats of a quality comparable to that of most publishers, AND I've launched a self-publishing business -- all for about $1000. I did it years faster than if I had gone through the mainstream publishing "query-go-round." And, if I had not bothered setting up the Avenger Books business imprint and customized blog, or insisted on as good a book cover, etc., I could've gotten away with publishing the ebook and p-book for probably $200-$300.

This is what is threatening the established book industry right now: Their fixed costs are gargantuan, and their business model outmoded. Big publishing houses, book agents, and brick-and-mortar bookstores are rapidly are becoming exorbitantly expensive middle men whose only real services are printing, distribution, and marketing -- middle men that many authors no longer need and whose services they can easily replace with low-cost contract labor.

Which is why print book sales and chain bookstores continue to circle the drain. Now is the time for authors and would-be authors to join the revolution.


Absolutely stellar reviews from early readers for HUNTER: A Thriller, up on Amazon (click the link to read them).

I could not be more pleased with the early reception. Many people are phoning and emailing me saying that the book has kept them up until 3-5 a.m. -- that they can't put it down. Others are making comparisons to books and authors that I admire hugely.

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this. Honestly. Somebody pinch me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You don't need a Kindle or Nook to buy & read ebooks

YOU DON'T HAVE TO OWN A KINDLE OR NOOK to download and read an ebook like HUNTER on virtually any device: PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, etc. Just go to this link and get a free "Kindle app," which will let you buy and read it on your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or whatever.

Hey, the ebook's only $3.99, and the "app" is free. What do you have to lose (except your past respect for me as a writer)?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

HUNTER is now available for sale online

HUNTER: A Thriller is now alive and ready for downloading on Amazon.com, as a Kindle ebook. It is also available in a trade paperback edition at Amazon.com.

Also, for those without a Kindle (and who don't want to download free Kindle apps, to read it on other devices), you can purchase the book at Smashwords. Smashwords supplies the iPad, iPhone, Sony Reader, Kobo, and many more outlets and devices.

Also, the Nook version is now available at the Barnes & Noble online store. The print edition will be available in less than two weeks.

Thanks, everyone, for your encouragement and support.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Who knew that I wrote "Atlas Shrugged"????


I just set up my "Author's Page" on Amazon.com, and by accident they listed "Atlas Shrugged" as one of MY books! Needless to say, I've notified them and I hope that is corrected right away!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My new publishing imprint

Welcome to Avenger Books:

This imprint will publish my future works of fiction. Address all written inquiries about my books to:

Avenger Books
P.O. Box 555
Chester, MD 21619

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wonderful advance reader responses for "Hunter"

I'm back from a week's vacation with The Wife in North Carolina, during which time my "beta readers" have been sharing their feedback with me on the manuscript for Hunter.

I'm tremendously encouraged by their enthusiastic responses, and humbled by their detailed critiques and suggestions. The published book will be much improved, thanks to their invaluable input and insights.

This week, I'll be racing to incorporate corrections and tweaks, kick development of a new "fiction" blog into gear; finalize my marketing plan; and prepare the manuscript for ebook and print-book publication. There are many things to do, so my posts will be limited here. But I hope that the book -- which should be available by the end of June in ebook editions, and early July in print -- will be more than a worthy substitute for blog posts.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Finishing my first novel on June 4th

I've just finished the climactic chapter of my novel, HUNTER: A Thriller.

I can't begin to tell you how I feel about it. Let's just say that I've poured wine and am toasting myself.

I'll finish the final "tying up loose ends" chapter tomorrow, and then my first novel is DONE.

The day before my 62nd birthday. As I promised myself.

The book will be available as an ebook by month's end, and almost immediately thereafter as a trade paperback. Details to come.

Thanks to all of you who have either encouraged or endured me during this process.

UPDATE -- C'est fini...just an hour or so before my birthday. Can't tell you how great it feels.