Friday, December 31, 2010

Authors can buy my books (real books) there now

I just published the first three Sexton Chronicles: Sexton, Sexton Spice, and Storm Clouds Over Sexton as paperback books at Authors Den. Authors Den only charges for printing and that lets me charge a little less for the authors den versions of the books than Lulu. Now there are three places you can by my books: Authors Den, Lulu, and Amazon. 

All things being equal, I'd rather you buy them from Lulu or Authors Den. Amazon charges the same price as Lulu, but I make significantly less from Amazon purchases and I get paid (the significantly less) three months after you make the purchase. It could be up to six months depending on when you buy from Amazon, but Lulu is kind enough to pay based on a promise from Amazon. (That only adds to the credibility of Lulu, in my humble opinion.)

I found the process of publishing real books on Authors Den to be a little clunky. I had to try several times to get the covers to look the way I want them to look. I got there eventually, but it wasn't easier. They're new to the game. I assume it will get better with time.

And I really like the covers. Take a look!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Trying to follow my own advice, and it's not easy

"Give it time."

It seems like I've said that a lot lately, especially when talking to myself. In spite of self-publishing 6 books this year, I still look at my sales reports from Lulu, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble's Pubit, and Amazon's Kindle sites on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, I'm never discouraged by what I see there. I cheer every sale. I've had enough goals in my personal and professional lives to know that goals, big goals and little goals, are achieved a piece at a time. Small forward progress adds up.

I set up a Google alert. If "David J. Steele" appears on the internet, Google tells me about it. It's kind of cool. It's also good to know I'm not the only David J. Steele in the world--and I get to keep an eye on those other guys. (Insert wink here.)

"Give it time."

Today I saw that my name and "Storm Clouds Over Sexton" appeared on someone's blog. I've never heard of the individual. I investigated. To my delight, I see that her blog has an advertisement placed there by Smashwords for the third book in the Sexton Chronicles series. I'm excited. Smashwords pays me a royalty for each of my ebooks they sell, and apparently if someone buys my book from an ad placed by Smashwords, they'll receive a portion of the price and I'll get my royalty.

In other news, Authors Den, a promotion site for ebooks and self-published books has launched a print on demand service. I tried to publish my books on it, and after a frustrating day have decided to let them develop their program a little more before I try it again. The server was unreliable and I didn't like the cover program. So...if you should happen to look there and see a Sexton book--the one with the blurb that says "don't buy this"--take my advice: don't buy it. *Authorsden doesn't seem to give the author the power to delete a published work. Having said that...if you buy the book I retitled "123" with the blurb on the back that says "Don't buy this"--you'll get a copy of Sexton.

Shoot--I might have just sold copies of this by having a blurb on the back that says "Don't buy this." We'll call it reverse-marketing.

Have a great night. I'm going to do something productive today--like write another chapter in Sexton Sand.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Merry Christmas...

Merry Christmas to you from Michigan, USA. It's dark and cold outside, but inside it is cheery and warm.

It's a special Christmas for me. You see, I get to give my parents copies of my books. I've been buying them one at a time for the past several months. As I mentioned earlier, I get them at a discount but not for free (which is as it should be because books cost money to product.)

The other night I autographed each copy--yes, in my own lousy handwriting--and will delight in giving the books. I hope they read them and enjoy them, but I know they'll enjoy holding a book in their hands that I wrote.

Now that I have purchased each of the first three Sexton Chronicles books for them: Sexton, Sexton Spice, and Storm Clouds Over Sexton, maybe I can stop being my own best customer.

I promised I would release book 4--Sexton Sand--by the end of January, and that is what I'm going to do. Call it a goal, call it ambition, call it drive, or call it a kick in the seat of the pants by grimy smelly old Ralph the makes little difference.

Merry Christmas! My favorite pastor (I've known many in spite of my lack of regular church attendance) always used to end the late Christmas Eve service by saying: "It is the day."

Indeed, as I write this... It is the day!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ralph the Muse is a fabrication...or is he?

I like to play with the image of Ralph the Muse. Before you place the phone call for the guys with the white jackets that tie in the back to come get me, let me be clear: I'm pretty sure there is no Ralph the Muse. The ancient Greeks liked the idea of muses as a source of artistic inspiration. It seemed a reasonable idea: that there would be immortals responsible for placing creative thought in the minds of men. They're usually portrayed as beautiful women.

If I had a muse, it wouldn't be a beautiful woman. My muse is a guy named Ralph. Ralph is about six foot nine, has brown hair and a beard matted with whatever he ate three days ago, and wears a stained, dingy white robe. He keeps a stringless tennis racket handy and beats me over the head with it to pass ideas through this thick skull of mine.

Old Ralph has been silent lately. He's been sulking in my rocking chair, farting occasionally just to let me know he's still around. I've been working...promoting the books, publishing books, and busy with other things. Oh, I've tried to write more chapters in Sexton Sand, and let Ralph whap me with an idea for a new series (one that I haven't yet begun to write.)

Last night, Ralph had Had Enough. He rose from the chair, snuck up on creaky sandals, and hit me hard enough that my eyeballs switched places. In 10 minutes, I outlined 3 chapters of Sexton Sand. 

And now I'm ready...just as soon as the big guys gets back to his chair.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A book just for me, and some close friends

One of the things I like about is that it allows people like me to order a book and have it be available only to me. I did that today with my first novel manuscript, a winding, twisty, filled with way too many subplots, and too much blood and death. That manuscript has been kicking around for 25 years now.

I always dreamed of seeing Return to Sexton in print. I know it's not a great novel. In fact, I think it's pretty bad. It is, however, important to me precisely because it's the first novel manuscript I ever wrote.

Return to Sexton takes place long after Tom, John, and Andy return to this world. That's part of the the Sexton Chronicles, the guys have shown little or no desire to return to this world. I'm going to keep it that way--though they might change my mind. If you write, you know what I mean by that...

Today I took advantage of lulu's private publishing capabilities. I formatted the manuscript the way I wanted, designed a cover I like, and uploaded it. Lulu also offers me the ability to revise, upload, and buy as many of this private book as I like.

So here's the deal... I am going to order a few copies. Probably less than 10. One will go to my good friend Jeffrey Miller (and if you haven't read his ought to. They're linked to this page). One will be mine. One will go to a third friend. I haven't decided which friend, but I'll pick one.

Each copy will be individually numbered. If you want one, you can ask. I might or might not sell it to you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I could resist no more... I fired the fountain pen.

I don't mean I fired it the way a boss fires an employee. What I mean is that I weaponized it.

   Just like the old Three Stooges bit, I unscrewed the pen. I had recently filled it. I slid the plunger mechanism forward.

   Yeah, boy howdy! A fine stream of black ink shot out. There was a lot more ink in that pen than I thought. I'm glad I aimed it at a piece of paper on a typing stand two feet away.

   I am sorry to report, however, that the above is all I have to report.

   When I improve my distance and accuracy, I'll let you know!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A new series--coming soon

His name is Nick Galizzi, and he's from no place in particular. Not any more. Born in war-torn Italy during World War II, he saw a rough side of life no child should see. He sought escape and found it in a way few do--an exit to another world, a world called Sexton.

Magic he studied, magic he learned...and after years he couldn't count, years in which he grew but did not age...he returned to this world. A wizard. An American.

There is more magic here than we know...and it is not all good. Nick fights to protect us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Uh-oh, I might've messed somebody up

Clearing my throat with a touch of discomfort:

I can see by my blog statistics report that someone--probably a diligent person who believes what they read on the internet--searched for...

"Christmas tree decorating"...probably looking for tips and pointers, etc.

I hope they'll accept my apologies. Their search landed them on my blog entry. You know the one. The one I used to describe how I toss ornaments at the tree?

Uh-oh. I'll probably have to pay a fine to karma for this one...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

As a writer I can control only one thing...

...the writing

  My wife keeps the checkbook and pays all the bills. (Don't be jealous. Trust me. It's better that way. She's got the mathematical mind, and I'm good with words. That means I can usually talk my way out of overdraft fees...if I was allowed to make withdrawals, which I'm not...

Where was I? Oh yeah. Writing. Lately I've been spending more time publishing my work and promoting them. I can't stop the promoting. I'm a self-published author of 5 books. If I don't promote them, they won't get promoted. You nodded. I saw you. Actually, it's only part of the truth. Although I can't stop marketing the books, word of mouth will be the true seller of my stuff.

My wife and I just had a discussion about royalties. I have a couple of bucks coming in now, and she--as the bill payer--expects to treat royalties like any other income. She wants to pay bills with them. You know: credit card debt, mortgage, savings account, etc.

I'm the spender. My gut tells me that royalty money should be hallowed...and spent...on fun stuff.

She's right. I'm not right.

The answer is...I need to make sure I'm generating more revenue than bills. 

That leads us back to my original premise: I can control what I write, when I write, and how much I write. For the past 4 years I have written a minimum of 1,500 new words a day on average. That changed to 1,500 new words a month back in August when I published my first book as a Kindle book. Now I have 5 books generating revenue, and I anticipate the revenue will grow slowly. But lately it seems I'm spending more time trying to generate word of mouth for the books than I am writing.

That's the part that has to change. I need to let the existing books toddle about all by themselves for a while, generating word of mouth sales, and I need to keep my ass in the chair and my head in Sexton.

Tomorrow, my goal is to write 3,000 new words in Sexton Sand, and I'm going to let nothing stop me.

I can be quite disciplined when I want to be, even against odds. I beat childhood epilepsy, kicked Wernickes in the nads, and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout before my 14th birthday. I think I can keep my ass in the chair and my head in Sexton easier than I did any of those other things.