Archive for category Self-Publishing
Here’s an interview that will appear on my new blog tour later this week. I figured you guys couldn’t wait so I’m posting it here. Sales of Scarlet Ambrosia are so strong that we are actually running out of digital copies. If you’ve been thinking about buying the book, I’d do it now. You don’t want to get trampled in the Christmas rush. If you’d like a paperback copy, let me know and I’ll put you on the waiting list for the second printing. (We never did a first printing.)
Good question. Sometimes I wonder. I was born in North Carolina, grew up in New Jersey, and I’ve lived in Florida for most of my adult life.
Tell us your latest news?
I just finished an outline for a science fiction novel that I feel fits together well and is believable if I can execute it properly. It’s a great feeling to finish a rough draft and have it come out better than expected. The bad news is I’ll have to do an ungodly amount of research.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing short stories in high school. I thought I was a genius destined to have a world-wide audience. That hasn’t worked out exactly the way I expected.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It happened about five years into my career when I started to work in marketing. I noticed that writing was the only thing I liked about working. I quit my day job about ten years ago and I still like to write, but not when it becomes a job. I admire people who like to work.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I always dreamed of becoming a successful creative writer. Going from short stories and copy writing to long fiction (novels) seemed like trying to jump the Grand Canyon on Schwinn racing bike. Some daredevils can do it but I’ve never been one. So I took an intermediate step and wrote a screenplay with two characters in mind that I thought would be fun to play with. It was fun. I wrote two more screenplays before summoning the guts to write a novel. I turned the original screenplay into my first novel, “Three Days to Darkness.”
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try not to write with a style. I just write the way I write and hope that someone else will find it interesting and entertaining.
How did you come up with the title?
It just came to me and it really works (I think).
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes. At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him. The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature. The supernatural powers and ramped up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods. He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.
I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being. I’ve been a spiritual seeker for most of my adult life. Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort. What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.
How much of the book is realistic?
I think we have to be careful with the word “realistic” when we’re talking about a novel with paranormal romance thriller tendencies. I always try to create fictional worlds that work logically if the reader accepts the genre conventions. I build my characters with relatable motives, desires, and character traits. Then the story has to evolve believably and the characters have to behave consistently with their basic traits as they grow and eventually make decisions and act in ways that surprise us, but at the same time, we can see where those actions and decisions came from. I hope this is not too much information.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, had a powerful effect on me when I first read it in my late teens. I’ve recently read a series of book on spiritual awakening by Saniel Bonder that have inspired me to open up to a higher purpose.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’d say Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) although I don’t write in his style. His remarkable imagination and sense of humor inspire me.
What book are you reading now?
I’ve just discovered a fine new thriller writer by the name of Jeff Abbott. His books are hard to put down and very good for the long plane rides.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m going to read a new novel by Andy Weir titled “The Martian.”
What are your current projects?
I’m working on an outline for a sequel to Scarlet Ambrosia and I’m exploring a new idea for a science fiction novel as I mentioned above.
What would you like my readers to know?
The book trailer for Scarlet Ambrosia is fun and interesting.
What is a blog tour? I’m not entirely sure, really, but I’m learning. To the best of my knowledge, a blog tour is made up of several “stops” at book review sites, all arranged by an online publicity service. Why am I writing about blog tours? I’m deeply fascinated by them and, purely by coincidence, my first Scarlet Ambrosia blog tour starts today.
A blog tour “stop” is actually a website created by someone who loves to read and review self-published and traditionally (legacy) published books. Often, these independent book reviewers are authors themselves. They promote their own books as well as other books of interest to them. Typically, these independent book reviewers (IBRs) do not get paid to review books. They do it because it’s their passion.
From what I gather, there are three ways to promote your book on an IBR site: (1) a live or written interview (2) a book review or (3) a book spotlight. I don’t know what a book spotlight is but I’ll find out soon because there’s a “spotlight” stop on my tour. Blog tours can last for a few days or a few weeks with optional bells and whistles added depending upon the amount of cash the “emerging” author is willing to pony up.
According to my service provider (Sage’s Blog Tours) “Virtual blog tours allow authors to professionally promote their work without leaving the comforts of their home. Each tour stop enables authors to gain new readers and social media fans, while reaching a worldwide audience.”
As a great Jewish sage once said, “It should only happen.”
I want to thank my good buddy, Joe Canzano, for introducing me to blog tours and to Sage’s Blog Tours in particular. Joe is a talented writer, musician and marketing guy. I’m sure he’s good at a few other things too. Joe has just published his new novel, Magno Girl. If you like humor, action and romance check it out.
A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes. At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with darkness and light. The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature. The supernatural powers and ramped up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods. He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.
*Blog title inspired by Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
Just in, this review of my new novel, Scarlet Ambrosia, now available on Amazon.com and coming soon to Barnes and Noble and iTunes.
“There’s a relatively new but rapidly expanding genre on the market called “urban fantasy,” that has as its older sibling the vampire novel, born of Anne Rice’s first book decades ago and now a genre in its own right. And then, there’s the classic vampire struggle between darkness and light—a struggle that immerses unwitting victims, vampires, and survivors in a world dominated by blood-lust.
“With so many vampire novels on the market today, one could wonder at the need for yet another; but Scarlet Ambrosia is a vampire story of a different color, seasoned not so much by the drama of blood-letting as by the more universal themes of self-discovery, human nature, and redemption. Ultimately this is what makes or breaks any genre; especially one such as the urban fantasy or vampire story, which too often tends to eschew self-examination in favor of high drama. And this is just one of the reasons why Scarlet Ambrosia stands out from the urban fantasy genre crowd.
“Sure, protagonist Devon’s outward battle is against an ancient evil vampire, Egon Schiller, but it’s also against himself. Devon is no stranger to the dark forces within him after years of therapy, but the darkness he’s confronting now proves far beyond his wildest dreams.
“Scarlet Ambrosia‘s inner light shines forth: a light that starts with Devon’s inner world and expands to embrace the wider concern of disappearances on the city streets.
“This part is predictable as Devon confronts an undercurrent of blood-lust and vampires in Miami’s underworld. What is less predictable is his foray into the drug world in search of evidence that will support an international investigation into one of Egon’s illegal activities, fostered by his encounter with the sly, alluring Mathilde, who harbors her own secret agenda.
“There’s a suggestion of romance between Devon and Mathilde that’s evident from their first encounter but which is suppressed in their growing focus on greater goals, which are developed as the quest progresses, as evidenced in Mathilde’s statement:
“Vanderling fears what Schiller will do every day he roams the earth more than he fears what might happen to us if we fail.” “It’s ironic how Schiller’s existence can matter more in the scheme of things than yours or mine,” he said. “When we first met, I told you I could handle Egon. That was another lie to help you feel more secure in your new situation.
“There is acknowledgement of the forces of light and darkness that occasionally rise up, unfettered, to try to take over people and the world. And as Devon becomes involved in kidnapping and worse, he finds all facets of his life are called into question with a series of decisions that reach out to affect even his relationship with his beloved parents.
“As lies, secrecy, and murders build, Devon finds himself paying for the bad decisions of others, and must come to admit his own inner nature before he can make a proper decision on honing his skills for either greater good or evil.
“The web of lies builds and threatens to immerse everything Devon holds dear, eventually spilling over into something greater than he’s ever known.
“Scarlet Ambrosia is not your usual vampire story. Its intrigue, romance, and thriller writing are all wrapped up in a bigger picture. It offers much food for thought in the course of following Devon’s evolutionary process and decisions, and it’s not a light-hearted romp through a vampire’s realm, as so many such novels offer.
“As such, it’s especially recommended for readers seeking more depth and undercurrents of philosophy in their literary choices. How does a protagonist not become the evil he fights in the process of battle? The classic vampire struggle between darkness and light just assumed a new cloak of complexity here—and wears it well.”
The Midwest Book Review gave “Three Days to Darkness” a “Thumbs Up.” It’s encouraging when anyone other than my wife, daughter, mother-in-law, and best-friend Joe Canzano responds positively to my novel. (My mother read half the book. She liked the writing but not the story).
Here’s the review by Diane Donovan, Mid-West Book Review eBook reviewer:
“The magic number is three. Three days to save the world. Three people to help Darius McPherson succeed. And three important life lessons to learn in the process.
The setting is a war being planned in Heaven itself by a reluctant warrior too young to be in Heaven in the first place, and the mission involves saving humanity from its own follies: no mean assignment for a young man killed in a drive-by shooting and suddenly tasked with saving the world.
Three Days to Darkness is about magic on many levels: the incongruity of Heaven and its purposes, the absurdities of Mankind, and the passionate concerns of a boy faced with apocalypse on a scale that moves beyond singular death and into the destruction of humanity itself.
As if this wasn’t enough, add demons and a road that literally leads to Hell (albeit paved with good intentions) and you have a fast-paced thriller novel that defies the usual genre definitions of fantasy, thriller or action piece and creeps into the realm of the impossible.
Three Days to Darkness darkens rapidly as Darius investigates company clinical trials, angel operatives, and deadly courses of action, spicing his approach with a cocky blend of offense and defense that presumes a degree of training he actually lacks: “Crooking his arm, Darius lifted his hand just below chin level with all five fingers splayed. He reminded himself of David Carradine as Caine in a “Kung Fu” TV episode. A more experienced angel operative would certainly prepare to attack with “way more” subtlety, he figured.”
Doses of humor are tossed in for effective comic relief as Darius questions why a Heaven governed by the concept of free will would intervene in the affairs of man – and why it would choose to do so for one event and not another: “Darius sat perfectly still for a while with his hands in his lap before speaking again. “I’m confused,” he said with a solemn expression. “On the one hand, you say everything that happens to a man is the result of free will, and on the other hand, you send me to Earth to stop a pill from going on the market. I don’t get it.” “Good observation, Darius. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s more like a distinction. We have to pick our fights carefully. We try not to interfere with the operation of human free will. We sat by and watched in horror, for example, when Roman soldiers crucified Christ and terrorists flew commercial airliners into the Twin Towers. But there are times when we must take action, when a worldwide catastrophe could result from human failure, to put it in a shorthand manner. We intervened during the two world wars and the Cuban Missile crisis, to cite a few recent cases. We have also been involved when the psychological, moral or spiritual evolution of the species is at risk. A literal example of such a case was our influence on the outcome of the famous ‘Scopes Trial.’”
What lessons will Darius learn in his latest incarnation as a new angel? He has only three days to absorb them – or witness the end of all days.
Three Days to Darkness is a fast-paced, vivid read that incorporates all the elements of a superior mystery, thriller, and fantasy. It’s certainly not a portrait of a predictable afterlife, a conventional Heaven, or a banal post-life mission. All these facets merge to create a uniquely involving story
blending amusing moments with engrossing encounters between disparate forces; each with their own special interests and agendas.
And Darius? He’s in it for the ride, and takes readers along with him in an unexpected journey through Heaven, Hell, and beyond.”
Comparatively speaking, writing a novel is the fun, easy, first step of the self-publishing process. The second step, creating an attention-getting eBook cover (and optional print version cover) offers its own unique set of challenges. The most intimidating undertaking, to most authors, is the third step—marketing. The word strikes terror in their sensitive little hearts because many authors want as little to do as possible with the outside world.
The largest, most demoralizing marketing question is, “Where do I begin?” Guess what? I’m not going to tell you. There are about a billion articles and blogs on “How to Market Your Book.” Go read one. In this blog, I plan to relate the first steps I’ve taken to escort my eBook into this over published world.
There are more than seven billion people alive, but how many of them read regularly? Better yet, how many of them are looking for my book? Answer: None—Zero—Zilch—hence the need for marketing. I carefully packed this thought away in a dark corner of my creative attic upon beginning the journey of writing a first novel.
As I neared the climactic scenes of my first draft, I noticed it became harder to write. After a good deal of soul-searching and hand wringing, I diagnosed the problem. My writer’s block stemmed from the subliminal understanding that it was almost time to say goodbye to my family of characters and their world. That world had nearly ended, but it was far better than my ordinary life and the real world terrors of self-promotion. Excuse me for this digression. I couldn’t help it.
Flash forward 18 months. I’ve uploaded the eBook to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and ibooks. I’ve developed a Three Days to Darkness web site and a Facebook page. After a year-long struggle, I’ve managed to place a hyperlinked image of my eBook in the right hand column of this blog (see “I Finally Did It”).
Now what? Gulp…
This is the seriously hard part—driving people to these outposts in cyberspace.
I started with an ad on Book Daily. Your book is featured for one day per month on Book Daily’s E-Zine. Your first chapter is e-mailed to a combined audience of 25,000 readers (many of them authors). They e-mail your chapter to a subset of readers by genre on three consecutive days during the month. With each exposure, your book is piggy backed with five competitive books. The ad costs $49.00 per month. I sold two books the first month. I cancelled the campaign.
I’m experimenting with ads on Facebook. You can create a campaign budget and target audience starting at $5 per ad. So far, I’ve spent $35 on three ads. I’m having fun racking up tons of likes. I’m waiting for the book sales to come rolling in.
Next, I’m planning a press release on PR Web with a target audience of 30,000 journalists and bloggers. The idea is to drive traffic to my web sites and to generate publicity on major news sites and search engines. The campaign will cost $250. To do it right, I will need a book trailer video as part of the package. A simple video will cost another $250. I am using California Videowork to produce the video.
Wait a minute…This makes no sense.
I will have to sell at least a thousand digital copies of my book at $3.99 each to generate a profit (after deducting advertising and self-publishing expenses, plus a few hundred hours of my valuable time).
The odds of selling a thousand digital copies of my book are probably north of a zillion to one.
You know what? Fuck the odds.
*I apologize for assaulting you with another image of “Three Days to Darkness.” I posted it to get a hyperlinked image of the eBook on my Facebook page. I can’t figure out another way to do it. I think Facebook makes it impossible to hyperlink images on FB pages because they want you to spend money advertising. I could be wrong about this.