Friday, February 12, 2016

Buy the Cow!

Only a fool buys what he can get for nothing. Remember the old adage: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? It still stands!

Recently, I tried to promote a short story that I offered as a free download. I found that most promo sites do not accept promos for short stories. In fact, most of the guidelines specify that books must be over 100 pages.

I messaged the admin of a well-known promo site. I asked if it was possible that they could offer a limited service for short stories. I believe there is a market for them, and many authors who hate to give away months of hard work, offer shorts instead.

I received a prompt answer from the site’s owner. He informed me that most readers did not read short stories. He knows that because he has been in the business for six years. He said that his customers expected free books, and that most authors had at least one free offering of a full-length novel.

Now, I had just read an article that stated that short reads are very popular right now. (See article.) The rise of the iPhone and tablet as reading tools has had a great effect on our reading habits because they are so convenient for reading short works. It also stated that the younger people love things they can finish while they ride the train or bus home, sit at Starbucks for a few minutes, or wait at a doctor’s appointment.

It seems to me that this site owner is doing what is best for his business, not mine. Of course he wants full free books. He also wants my money. He has a great business going. He gives away my product and charges me to do it! He buys nothing, stocks nothing, and pays nothing. If I am giving away my work, why does he not also give me a free ride? Why not make money out of advertisements or a minimal charge to the readers? But no, the cost must be all mine.

My opinion is that if a reader will like my writing, he or she does not need a full thirty chapters to do so. Normally, A few chapters into a book, I know whether to finish it or put it away. Everyone can download the 20% sample of my books at Amazon and Smashwords. If the reader is not hooked with that 20%, then he or she will never buy the book or the next.

A few years back, when the self-publishing craze was new, I read a free book by Monique Martin, fell in love with it, and have bought all her other books since. There were then only a few hundred authors giving away a first book as free. It was easy for me to find her.

Today, I do a search for free romance books, and I have to scroll through 100 plus pages of Amazon offerings. A quick search in Amazon using the words “Free books for Kindle” gave me 205,204 books! “Free romance books for Kindle” gave me 13,656 books.

Those are Permafree books. Those results do not include the temporarily free books on Kindle promotion. If your book is not in the first five pages of the search, it gets lost in the multitude.

I could no longer see the benefit in spending $100 dollars promoting my book in several sites to give away another $1,345.50 worth of my work, (450 copies at $2.99 each, downloaded for free) to make back $90 in residual sales. Meanwhile, the site owner makes a killing, and the readers stock piles of free offerings. Most are never opened.

Some people will quickly argue “exposure.” Exposure is the magic word that holds us all prisoners. It is the antidote to the poison. It is the word that holds the self-published author at bay, and keeps him feeding his life's blood to the promotion sites.

My answer is that you can get a lot of exposure without giving your work away. But wait: we are already giving our work away when a reader downloads that 20% sample at Amazon or Smashwords.

When is enough, enough? When do we stop feeding the sharks, those lurking to snatch anything free with absolutely no intention of ever buying or even reading? (See this article.) When do we stop making money for others who have invested nothing in our work?

I have placed prices on everything I have on sale. Even my short stories are now priced at $0.99. I am giving away only a short story, and this in exchange for an email for my mailing list; technically, that is an even exchange, not a freebie.

I now rely on my blog and author sites for that vaunted exposure. One thing I do believe is that I may have markedly fewer downloads, but because the reader paid something, even if only $0.99, he or she is more likely to open the book, to review, and to fall in love with my writing and buy the next book. 

Feel free to agree, disagree, add your own comments, and to try out one of my $0.99 short stories or a free sample of one of my novels. I may be your next favorite author!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Five Foods You Should Never Eat .....

Five foods You Should Never Eat...On a Date!

I just read a post on Facebook that really made me laugh. It went something like this: I never wish death for someone I hate. Instead I wish for them to get explosive diarrhea next time they go on a date. Now, that is hell!

A few months ago, another young lady posted about a personal experience. She was having such a good time on her first date with a young man, that she ate to her heart’s content. Everything. The result was a cauldron of churning gases and pressure that threatened to undo her.

Terrified, she asked to be driven home immediately, hoping to reach her own bathroom. Not only did she not make it, but the telling of how she fought a war with the car’s electric window mechanism trying to let the stench of her flatulence out of the car was hilarious. Of course, had it happened to me, it would be far from funny. 

After I stopped laughing, I got to thinking about the ads we see all over the internet about the six foods you should never eat because they make you fat. Someone should make a list about the foods never to eat on a date, for obvious reasons that have nothing to do with weight gain. Of course, some of us may have a slightly different list, but a general one should not be hard to compile. From personal experience, I would include the following foods.

If the date is part of  a long-term relationship and the possibility of deeper intimacies loom ahead in the evening, be extremely careful. Some foods may be the cause of very embarrassing little incidents that can ruin a romantic evening.

      One of my favorite foods and a dangerous one on a date. Imagine smiling at your
      date with a piece of broccoli stuck in your front teeth! In fact, ANY
      GREEN VEGETABLE should be off the date list.
#2- Enchiladas
      I love Mexican food, but enchiladas, especially when accompanied by sundry
      other spicy foods, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream, have the potential to cause
      intestinal explosions of the mafic lava type! To be safe, don’t do Mexican on a
      date. It can become catastrophic when there is a line to the bathroom and only
      two stalls. Believe me, I’ve been there.
#3- Marinara Sauce
      This brings up the danger of Italian food where dates are concerned. Usually,
      there are buttery bread rolls involved and cannoli and red wine! A delicious
      but deadly mixture of gas-producing carbs. Beware of the early sign: the
      gurgling tummy. What ever you do, DO NOT TRY TO MAKE IT HOME! To be
      safe, forget Italian altogether.
#4- Chocolaty Frozen Drinks such a Frozen Black Irish. The problem with these is
      that they taste like milk shakes, and you are lulled into a false sense of security.
      The resulting combination of intestinal gas and inebriation may lead you to
      conclude that passing gas on a date is funny! Your date will not agree.
#5-  Mozzarella Sticks       
        Long, stringy cheese will only go to your thighs after nearly choking you as you
        try to swallow. In fact, all appetizers should be avoided. Use the time before
        dinner to look beautiful and interesting.

Well, I hope my little list will make a difference to your next romantic evening. Do you have any other foods to add to the list? Or do you have any personal “anecdotes” to illustrate the need for this list? Feel free to post them here.     

Monday, February 1, 2016

Erotica, Anyone?

Sometimes, the lessons learned are not the ones the teacher intended.

I have been deeply concerned from the start, with the quality of my writing. The time I spend editing, running spelling checks, checking grammar, getting beta readers to find plot holes, errors in tense, etc, etc, is probably four times the amount spent writing.

I want to sell my books, of course, but I also want to be respected and admired as an author. I love it when a reviewer calls my prose “exquisite,” as some have done. I get a thrill when readers say that my characters are complex and developed. I get heart palpitations when someone tells me that they wish our world was like Daniel’s Fork. Still, not every reviewer and reader hones in on the things that I consider the “elements” of a good book.

I have a habit that has turned out to be a double-edged blade: my insistence that everything I do, I do to the best of my ability. I firmly hold to my opinion that while I write “fiction,” and that entails a certain degree of creativity when it comes to story telling, my characters should be as true to their nature as I can make them.

My main example is William Evers. I structured him as a non-conformist, a rebel at heart. My crafting of his personality in Daniel’s Fork was done with the objective that he should not be liked by the reader too soon. The reader will like Setiyah best, and then Jonas and Eric. Later, in the sequel novella, Will begins to grow in the reader’s affections. A clearer picture of the protagonist develops. He has, after all, a whole series during which he'll develop and become the man he is meant to be.

Will Evers is amoral, insensitive, arrogant, and ambitious- not good traits for a hero! He is also sexually uninhibited and dominant. The original title of the book was A Whore and a Rogue, and it pertained entirely to him! So, if my lead male is a whore and a rogue, he must be a strongly sexual character, and his sexuality must reflect his amorality!

As a result of William’s character, I knew I had to have erotic scenes in the novel, but I did not want to write a book that was erotica. I opted to include two chapters in the novel that have erotic content. Two chapters out of thirty five is not too much; the novel is a mystery after all. A romance would have much more sexual content.

True to my ethic, the erotic content would have to be explicit and done well. After all, a stallion like Will Evers would have to be true to character, as in great in bed. Each erotic scene took the entire chapter. The scenes came out, in my opinion, well indeed! However, in the overall scheme of things, the prose, the characters, the setting, the humor, the tone, and atmosphere are the things I spent most of my time crafting, and the ones that make me most proud.

Reviewers and readers, however, don’t have the same mindset. I found, to my surprise, that the things most reviewers zoomed into, were the sex scenes! 

A few reviewers commented that the scenes were “gratuitous” and unnecessary. One reviewer called them “as close to pornography” as you could get. Some called them “the best erotic scenes”  they’ve ever read.

A couple of reviewers went as far as saying that they only gave the book four stars because of the explicit sexual content.  Others gave it five stars because of the sexual content. But whatever each one said, one thing was obvious: the scenes made an impact, and any author would be a fool not to use “impact” to his or her own purpose.

It occurred to me that this was something I could turn to my advantage. I could possibly use the erotic content to draw attention to the series. I aimed to do something daring: something I never would have considered two years ago. I decided to use the explicit erotic chapters, not only the ones in Daniel’s Fork, but also ones from the other books, and release them as a separate erotica collection.

Here it is! Ready for your reading pleasure, my first and only book that can be categorized as purely erotica. Daniel’s Erotica is now available at  Amazon. If you like it, you might wish to try the original books. Please, don't leave without joining the VIP List. As a member of the VIP list, you'll be among the first to find out about new books by this author.