Saturday, May 26, 2012

Things Change - The Only Guaranty In Life

So, for all you indie authors out there, you no doubt are feeling the effects of Amazon's recent change of policy and protocol vis a vis free downloads and the alteration of the ubiquitous algorithm.  Bottom line, that shift force and effect by Amazon has led to reduced sales for all indie authors, yours truly included.  I shall not belabor the theories behind it; there are excellent blogs on the subject by Russell Blake, Phoenix Sullivan and Ed Robertson that can be referred to for in depth analysis.  I include the links now, in order, for comprehensive nuts-and-bolts commentary on the algorithm shifts/sales. For Russell Blake:; For Phoenix Sullivan:  blog on the topic here; and for Ed Robertson: nice rundown on the evidence.

Bottom line, free download promotionals no longer bear the same fruits for actual sales that they did several months ago, due to Amazon's recent actions concerning the promotionals.  Is this a reason to cease utilizing the free-download thing to market your books?  No.  Simply do not expect that multiple-orgasm response to prodigious selling of your product, post-free phase.  At least for repeat product intro into the marketplace as a free entity.  I will be uploading a brand new book to Amazon in the next week, called The Last Harem, and will still take advantage of Amazon's free-promotional venue.  I shall then report if this algorithm shift is as viable for new product as it is for old.  I simply do not know and hope it is not.  If it is, clearly, we indie authors must find other resourceful means by which to market our books.

Is all of the above - and inter-related blog input - cause and reason to despair?  I think not.  As Sullivan alludes in his above-blog, Amazon could again adjust its policy in 30 days to our advantage, and all that is articulated today regarding algorithms could change in that above-stated time frame.  But let's say that does not happen.  Let's say that Amazon is like a bad girlfriend who takes forever to come, and does not help indie writers again enjoy the auspicious days of recent old wherein free promotionals guaranteed massive pyroclastic flow of profits in the aftermath.  What do authors like you and me do to increase sales, or at least maintain a healthy stream of revenue from existing product? 

Well, for one thing, we must find alternative routes to marketing.  Twitter is critical, so is Facebook, and half a dozen other mechanisms for reaching out to the masses.  Also, local radio airtime for exposure, if you have access to it, cannot hurt.  For those of you with disposable bling, television ads are good as well.  I personally believe that the secret to maintaining a steady stream of revenue is to produce more product.

In her recent NY Times article, correspondent Julie Bosman describes by way of a best-selling author, Lisa Scottoline, that the public is like a huge maw that needs to be fed constantly (  That in fact, the author who wishes to produce only one book every year or two may quickly be rendered irrelevant and forgettable.  Which means, we as indie writers, must look to a future where we actually increase our output, rather than just maintain it.  For example, I am currently finishing up two novels to be released in June and July (in addition to The Last Harem) and will augment those books with three other novels I've started, and an anthology novelette.  In this way, I can be assured of a new product introduced into the marketplace at least once every month for the rest of the year.  Why kill myself and aim for this goal?  To feed the public beast of need; the old precept of supply and demand is in full force and effect with the KDP Select Amazon has offered us.  I would advise all my colleagues to look to writing, writing, writing, and publish lest you perish, at an accelerated rate.

You might say:  "Won't that haste in increasing output jeopardize the quality of work generated?"  No.  Don't let that be the case.  Work assiduously, utilize an editor, defy traditional nay saying that to work in haste makes waste.  Stay on the public radar; continue to twitter; continue to Facebook the planet.  Become friends with a celebrity, even better, be caught in the headlights of a scandal with a celebrity, preferably oddly sexual (John Travolta's recent 'gay' harassment issues immediately leap to mind).  Become famous.  Save the planet from space aliens.  Do anything - just stay visible regarding your work. If we follow that mandate, we cannot fail.  Conversely, slack will lead to lack, and unless indie authors step up to the plate willing to accept a hopeless schedule of writing 24/7, mucho hours per day, there is little chance that those writers will sell well, let alone make a marginal profit.

I'll let you all know what happens with The Last Harem.  Now, please, in the words of one of my favorite authors, go out there and buy my shit.  If I have to cease purchasing Grey Goose vodka and drink that urine of a libation, Popov, again, I may just do a Hemingway and leave it all up to the Almighty.

Thank you for reading.  And thank you for not smoking.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vampire Trends and Remakes

I went to see the movie, Dark Shadows, based on the original series in 1970 - a Dan Curtis production.  Great thing about the old series was that it was cheesy beyond belief, and production values were non-existent.  In some episodes, you can see the production assistant shadows and the boom coming into frame.  Hokey, but forgivable.  The acting, too, was borderline dreadful, certainly ludicrous.

Tim Burton's lush remake of that series suffers none of the original show's appalling gaffs.  It is a piece of visual perfection, augmented greatly by a grand score, courtesy of Danny Elfman.  Johnny Depp is predictably unassailable as Barnabus Collins, the titular head of the Collins family that dates back generationally more than 200 years.  He is, of course, a vampire, cursed to the rank of undead status by the beautiful bitch-kitty witch, Angelique, who both wants to fornicate him to death (real death) and destroy him simultaneously.  Add to this the element of an amusing dysfunctional family - the Collins clan of 1972 - and you have a film which is both fun to view, and fun to contemplate, in terms of 'what the hell happened to this bloody family to make them so fucked up.'

Answer of course, is the family curse.  Ghosts, werewolves and vampires are de rigeuer for the Collins familia, and such things are accepted in due course.  After being  forced to watch so many television vampires of late - all of whom appear vaguely sexually detached or ambivalent - yet all telegenically perfect, it's nice to see a vampire movie that doesn't take itself so seriously, and even embraces its own loopiness.  Barnabus Collins, though clearly a genius unto his own right, nevertheless awakens to the year 1972 and muddles through with a kind of pleasant gormlessness that makes you love him even as he slaughters innocents by the dozen to slake his ubiquitous hunger for human hemoglobin.  All other performances are equally laudable.

As I reintroduced my own vampire novel, Monster Vice, back to Amazon, with our old friend, Dracula, I applauded Dark Shadows for what it was:  sloppy fang pleasure, guilty to the extreme.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Humor and Harem Girls

I've just read two very entertaining books that I recommend, both dealing with different subject matters.  One will keep you howling with laughter, the other will be food for thought and make you wonder if life in a modern day harem is all that bad.

First book is Bill Maher's "The New New Rules", a follow-up to his highly successful "New Rules", and is nothing short of genius.  He is able to offend most everyone and most every subject, no matter what side of the political or religious spectrum one may be on.  And yet, his observations, in my opinion, are right on.  Now my opinion is subjective:  I greatly enjoy the Bill Maher show on HBO, as much as I enjoy Bill O'Reilly's Fox show "The Factor".  One occupies the left of center, and one the right.  Both are compelling, and both are well executed.  But Bill O'Reilly's humor and mine, simply don't gel.  Bill Maher, on the other hand, has me screaming with the funnies.  Each of you must decide if his humor is for you or not.  But it is well written, notwithstanding where stands your sense of humor.

The other book I've just completed, and I tweeted on it some weeks ago, but now wish to compliment it again on the blog, is "Some Girls" by Jillian Lauren.  It's her true life experience within the Sultanate of Brunei, as a harem girl, back in the early 1990s.  It is filled with the predictable sexual encounters with royal personages, outrageous sums of money offered as gifts, and hostile byplay between Jillian and the other 'haremites.'  But it is extraordinarily well written, and it makes one wonder if all harem girls must be Mensa candidates, so impressive is Ms. Lauren's style.

Do check both books out.  My next book, The Last Harem, will be introduced to Amazon in late May.