Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mailing List and Paperbacks

I've been struggling with the email list - I've been told, over and over, that it's the one tool I need to really sell books.

I'm not convinced.

First it was a blog, then it was MySpace, Facebook, Twitter...Twitter...Twitter and more Twitter. While sending out a tweet will get hits to Smashwords, sales are another story. As far as getting thousands of people signed up for a mailing list...somehow I just don't see it coming.

However, there HAS been enough local interest in my paperbacks to make me want to publish 'The Emissary' to paperback.

Paperback sales ARE up - thanks to Second Saturday where we've been hawking books for the last 3 years. We've been joined by two other authors - D. A. Lawson who wrote 'Always' and a children's author who's name escapes me at the moment. (I hate it when that happens.)

Going to Create Space is a super, super easy choice. I've had nothing but good luck with them. It's my formatting skills that I'm not so thrilled with.

These are novels of the Zombie Apocalypse, not High Art Literary works.

Actually, this could be great fun.

I need some fun.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sign Up For Our Mailing List & Why

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I will not sell your email address to anyone. This is to inform you of new releases, like the new "Horsewomen of the Zombie Apocalypse" ebook coming out soon.

Why on EARTH have I posted the Sign-up Form?

There's a method to this Newsletter madness -- and it has to do with the new Publishing Company I just started. I'll have more time to write my own stuff and publish Mom's stuff if Icy Road Publishing can get a mailing list of readers.

When there's a New Release - if it's one of Mom's or one of mine - I can tell our readers directly - with the addresses from Amazon and Smashwords (Author Pages, not invididual e-book pages.)

My goal is 50 email addresses. 

That's not an arbitrary number - that's the number of e-books that sell when there's a new release. That's the number of hits this blog gets when there's a new post. It's the number of people who've asked to be notified when the new books come out.

So please sign up - I know you are out there.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Icy Road Publishing

I think this is the next logical step - to create a publishing 'brand' via Smashwords instead of pushing each book on it's own. So I've dusted off 'Icy Road' for the purpose of making the new 'system' work for me.

After yesterday's bad case of the Jitters my visit with my Dad went pretty well. He's in good hands, and I don't have to worry about him.

So I'm taking this time to set up Icy Road Publishing on Smashwords. I may have already made a mistake in the way I set it up. I sure hope not.

In a nutshell - this what I'm doing:

Sales of my ebooks have been dismal at best. Mostly because of the turmoil in my life over the last four years - unemployment, family illness, moved parents in, Mom's passing, the grieving period, more illness, more illness, more illness and now - a few days of peace before Dad returns from Rehab.

In a week of relative calm, I've finished 'The Emissary - Arrival,' sent it out to the copy editor and speculated about how to launch it.

Pre-Orders appear to be the best way to go - Apple, B&N and Kobo support pre-orders (as well as freebies) via Smaswords. I can't get that on my own.

For whatever reason, my ebooks don't sell via NookPress and WritingLife - but they DO sell through Smashwords. So I'm slowly removing them from publication on those two sites because I get paid that way.

Apple is my 'money market' so I'm working them as a catalyst. You'd have to either read, or listen to, Mark Coker talk about Pre-Orders and catalysts to under stand them. I fell asleep during Mark's talk, now it's imprinted in my brain. I suspect my Id and my Ego had a fight and Mark won.

The game-changer has been getting acurate sales data from Apple and B&N in a timely manner. Instead of 90 days after the fact...there's a chart that shows daily data.

This way, if something happens on Apple or B&N - like when my e-books go free - I've at least got a chance to make it work out in my favor. That will keep me from second guessing myself five or six times in a month.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Jitters Strike!

I don't remember having the jitters this bad when I published 'Swallow the Moon.'

For 'Let's Do Lunch' - I had a staggering case of the jitters because it was Self-Publishing in 2010 - when there was no such thing as Indie publishing - Self-Publish was Vanity Publishing which was for losers.

Part of the problem is being a Finalist for Best Novella at the e-Festival of Words.

The majority of the problem is my father is in the hospital with a broken hip and intermittant demensia. I can't concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time.

Spent all day yesterday listening to Mark Coker of Smashwords talk about signing a book up for Pre-Orders with Apple iBook Store, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

I haven't had more than a sale on B&N or Kobo that wasn't via Smashwords in more than 2 years. Kobo owes me money from 2 years ago that I will never see.

Apple, vai Smashwords is my biggest market with B&N via Smashwords second. (The irony of the situation does not escape me.) This is since Sony shut it's doors. My understanding is Kobo took over the Sony market place.

That's the data I have to keep in mind as I decide how to launch 'The Emissary - Arrival' which is sitting on my hard drive as an ARC.

What to do? What to do?

Can't pre-order on Amazon and have no history of sales there for 'The Emissary.' (There was a spike of freebies, but no sales after, nor was there a 'halo' effect on other books.) KDP worked once (for 'Let's Do Lunch') but having my ebooks vanish off other markets for 90 days is asking WAY too much for 1 or 2 sales a month. (It killed my B&N sales - they've never recovered except via Smashwords.)

I launched "The Emissary - Horsewomen of the Zombie Apocalypse' via KDP to the loudest sound of crickets EVER.

The way forward appears to be through Smashwords Pre-Order Program.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Now, excuse me, I need to visit my father at the Rehab hospital.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Amazon vs Hachette - Pits Author Against Author - Why?

I'm not understanding why the spat between Amazon and Hachette is any different than Barnes and Noble against Simon and Shuster.

New York Times headlines on March 22, 2013 say: "Orders Cut, as Publisher and Retailer Quarrel"
A standoff over financial terms has prompted the bookstore chain Barnes & Noble to cut back substantially on the number of titles it orders from the publishing house Simon & Schuster, raising fears among other publishers, agents and authors that the conflict may harm the publishing industry as a whole.
Industry executives, as well as authors of recently published Simon & Schuster books and their agents, say that Barnes & Noble has reduced book orders greatly, to almost nothing in the case of some lesser-known writers. They contend that the move is damaging their sales. Authors say the retail chain has taken other steps, like not giving them display space or allowing book tour appearances in its stores.

So where was the angst? The name-calling? The panels of breathlessly terrified agents and writers waving pitchforks and torches.

I don't know.

According to the above - those hurt worst were 'lesser-known writers' though there is a picture of Judi Picoult's 'The Storyteller' on the page. She's hardly an unknown writer.

Stephen Colbert never flipped Barnes and Noble the bird. (Sigh) I could have used the 'Colbert Bump' then, too. James Patterson never made a peep.

I guess they weren't concerned - as they are Hachette authors not S&S.

A couple weeks ago - 'Swallow the Moon' went free for a glorious run on the Bestseller's List. It's still free at Amazon UK and getting a few downloads every day. That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

I guess that makes me a minon of the Evil Amazon Empire.

I spent years on enjoyed the comradery and reviewed a lot of books. Same with Kindleboards, spent a lot of time and enjoyed myself. Now it's where I drop in a couple times a week to socialize with other authors. I don't think that makes me the minon of any of these boards, or of Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo.

If anything, I've had more sales on Sony and Apple in the last 2 years, does that make me a minon of Smashwords?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

'The Emissary' - Finalist for Best Novella of 2014

I need your vote!

'The Emissary - Horsewomen of the Zombie Apocalypse' needs 20 more votes to win. Right now, it has 5 votes. 

In order to vote, you'll have to register, and sign in here: e-Festival of Words, Welcome, Award Hall, Best Novella.

You are welcome to go to Smashwords, pick up a free copy and read the story before you decide if you want to vote. 

Like all my stories, 'The Emissary' is entertaining and a quick read. But, if you want something a little 'chewier' then you can read it slowly, or re-read it.

"The Emissary" is a horse story as well as an adventure tale. The McLeod sisters use their horses to fight, as the Roman's did, and as sentries with a keen sense of smell. I have always thought that horses were a better choice for the Zombie Apocalypse because of their instincts and the fact they eat grass not gasoline. The bow is the weapon of choice for the McLeod sisters because bows are quiet and arrows are reusable. The McLeods prefer stealth and agility over loud engines and bullets. 

"The Emissary" is about how women could survive the Zombie Apocalypse - without the sterotypical roles of helpless-female or heartless Amazon. It's my way of exploring the Apocalypse from a completely female point of view - cooperation, team work, empowering the weak and protecting the helpless, with a touch of humor. 

The McLeod sisters are down-to-earth girls who have complete confidence in their training, their horses and each other. The Davidson clansmen who think they're superior with their trucks and machine guns are in for a surprise.

Please feel free to get the e-book here: 

In a world where the dead walk the land, Bethany McLeod must leave the safety of her fortress home to take her sisters Alexis, Dani and Julie cross-country to Fort Chatten, Kentucky. Alexis McLeod is a healer, nurse and pharmacist, eager to prove herself at Fort Chatten. Led by Bethany, the four sisters risk their lives to help the struggling Davidson clan.

It's just three years since the Zombie Apocalypse. The McLeod and Davidson's clans survive in a world where the muerto viviente - walking dead - infest the cities and towns. Armed to the teeth, the sisters are horse archers, a light cavalry quiet enough to avoid the muerto, or fast enough to outrun them. Militia, marauders and mad-men abound, the stinking dead walk the land, eating everything in their path.

Can four women and six horses make a hundred mile journey through the Zombie Apocalypse and arrive alive? What will they find if they get to Fort Chatten?

This story is suitable for all ages.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Saccharin for the Mind

The old mare and me

Just got done watching an old movie - a gooey saccharin horse story.

You know the kind - Wild Black Stallion can only be ridden by Sweet Young (virgin) Girl. Family farm under attack by the Evil Business Man who will cheat to win.


I've been around horses all my life. Had my first pony at four and still have horses five decades later. In five freaking decades, the story's plot hasn't changed. The tropes are ALWAYS the same.

Wild Horse, Evil Man wants to Break the Wild Horse. Only the Virgin can Tame the Wild horse. In many, many ways this is the Tale of the Unicorn. You know, where the Wild Unicorn can only be Tamed by the Virgin.

I wrote 'Impressive Bravado' because I was sick of the Myth of the (Magick) Horse Whisperer. Well, I'm just about as sick of the Magick Horse, too.

Pop culture has reduced the relationship between human and horse to Magick, where the horse is a Unicorn in disguise. Humans have become so detached from nature, in my lifetime, and horses so Disneyfied, that a true relationship between our species is nearly impossible. (I will stop there with the Disney Rant, I promise.)

The average person can't comprehend the complexity of equine/human relationships.

They are a prey animal. We are a predator. In order to have a relationship, there has to be trust. In order to have trust, there has to be communication.

Words are great, when the horse is trained to recognize words. Most horses don't even know their own names. What horses understand is body language.

They read us, like we read books...or computer screens.

A horsewoman, who has passed now, used to call it "Black Stallion Syndrome" which references a series of books by Walter Farley about a boy shipwrecked with a 'wild' black stallion. The boy 'tames' the stallion - they get off the island and they have an unbelievable racing career that isn't possible for a 'wild' horse.

The only horses who race in Thoroughbred races are...guess hard now...Thoroughbreds.


Later in the series, it's revealed that this 'wild' stallion is actually a registered Thoroughbred, the pampered pet of a Sheik.

Okay...all better now.

My point, and I always have one, is that by passing horses off as 'Magick' creatures we sell them far, far short...and set humans up to get hurt mentally and physically when we interact with this powerful, complex and fundimentally gentle species.

Here's something I wrote after an encounter with a "PETA" person.

A Real Horse Story – What PETA Doesn’t Know


I was reading a PETA pamphlet about horses in a store the other day. A nice young woman came up to me, seeing the pamphlet, started to talk. She echoed the pamphlet's wrath about the treatment of horses by humans. There were a few issues that I agreed with her. But then she said something I found really foolish:
          “Horses are so beautiful, they should be allowed to run free, without humans bothering them. Humans are so cruel. Riding horses is torture! Did you know that they actually pound nails into a horse’s foot? How horrible! Horses are such timid animals, they never would harm a human.”
          I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.
Horses were timid?
They should run free?
Being ridden was torture?
Horses never hurt humans?
I was nursing a couple of small bruises on my thighs where my mare Oppie had tried to buck me off. I’d been thrown into the kneepads of my saddle. I considered myself lucky, the last time she had managed to dump me, I’d gotten a concussion and broken two teeth.
There was a rope burn on my hand where her year old 500 lb., baby Tanamara had tried to drag me down the pasture instead of following me like a lady. I also had a bruise on my leg where my gentle old gelding Ned had objected to the way I tightened the girth around his belly so he had cow-kicked me in the leg.
          I was nice to this innocent person. I swallowed my laughter. “Have you ever owned a horse?” I asked her, already guessing what the answer would be. She was happy to bubble over with her experiences with horses.
         No, she hadn’t. Nor had she ever ridden a horse as an adult; but a pony ride as a child of five had made her fall in love with horses. I guessed it had been one of those carnivals where very, very gentle ponies were put in a walker to go around in a circle. But she had read a lot of books about horses.
In the face of such an expert, I was hesitant to open my mouth.
          At the same impressionable age, I had been given a small, untrained pony as my very own. It took all my eight cousins to train him to accept a rider. As the canny little beast tossed one of us, another had climbed aboard. It had been a rodeo on a very small scale. Only by sheer numbers and adult supervision had we been able to survive the carnage. After a week, the pony had learned to tolerate a rider, while most of my cousins were turned off horses for life.
         Then there was my herd of three registered Quarter Horses. If my horses had been "allowed to run free" they would die horribly.
Ned who stood 66 inches at the shoulder, ate 40 pounds of good hay, a gallon of sweet feed, all the grass he could chew, PLUS drank 10 gallons of water per day, would waste away to a skeleton in a week on a diet of just grass. Who would carefully tend his brittle hooves? He needed special plastic shoes, dietary supplements and twice-weekly treatments with expensive oils to stop his feet from cracking so badly he couldn't walk. Turned out on grass, without my care, he would die.
Oppie, fastidious as any Queen, would be highly insulted if I wasn't around to keep her bedded down properly in straw or shavings. She went so far as to do her "business" in her stall so her pasture wouldn't be dirty. Her kidneys would rupture if she hadn't had a place to potty in descent privacy!
As for our 500 pound yearling Tanamara, she was known to throw tantrums if not the center of attention. She would even try to chase off her "uncle" Ned, twice her height and weight in order to get a human to pet her. She could also be a terrorist; snaking her head and threatening to bite if she thought she would be shorted a treat.
Timid was not a word that I could use to describe any of my pampered herd. But the horse expert from PETA was still talking.
I wondered if she knew how many bales of hay a horse ate in a month or how much grain or how many loads of manure one produced. My herd ate 30 bales a month while on winter pasture, 300 pounds of grain, drank 900 gallons of water, they got their feet trimmed or shoes reset every 45 to 60 days. They also produced about 3 - 100-pound wheelbarrows of "compost" that forked out in 30-pound increments every week.
My life revolves around horse care, feeding schedules, shoes, and vaccinations then once every couple of weeks; I get to ride for an hour or two. I returned to college to get a better job so I could afford to keep my horses. I have worked as many as three jobs to support my horses.
I never told that young lady that I owned horses. It would have been a lie. I am their servant.

The truth is always much messier than fiction.