Dickinstein & Blind Marketing

DickinsteinAdNow that Dickinstein has been published, it’s time to start marketing and finding readers! Having contracted with a traditional publisher for this title instead of self-publishing it myself, most of this effort will be what I like to call “blind marketing.”

That means I will not be able to see an immediate result from my efforts. Other than reviews that get posted on Amazon or on other sites, or watching my sales rank fluctuate at Amazon, I don’t have direct access to sales reports like I do for my previous works that I published myself.  Believe me, I check those almost daily. So, I’ll have to wait for that royalty statement from my publisher at the end of the month to see if my work is paying off.

This week I scoured the web for review sites and reviewers, listed a copy as a giveaway at GoodReads, offered 3 copies as a giveaway on an Emily Dickinson facebook page, and I took out an ad at Bookmooch.com (pictured to the right).

The GoodReads giveaway runs for a month and so far about 160 people have signed up to win. As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a good way to get readers to add your book to their to-read lists. 66 people have added Dickinstein so far! There’s no guarantee that even one of those people will read the book at all, but here’s hoping they do…and that they post a review of it.

I’ve always allotted a certain amount of money toward marketing. I invested a portion of that this week into an ad at Bookmooch. I’ve been a member of Bookmooch since 2007.  It’s an online book swapping community where you earn points by sending books out that people mooch from you, and then you can spend those points to mooch books you want. About a year or so ago, Bookmooch started running book ads on the side of their site.  I’d always kept this in mind so I took advantage of it and bought a one week ad for Dickinstein. It will direct readers to the book’s page on Amazon, but they can also tweet the ad.  I added my Twitter handle to the tweet feature so that I can see if anyone does it.

Building the ad literally took about 10 minutes and it was bought and paid for in less time than that!  How easy! The only drawback is the price. It was $250 for 1 week. But the way I see it, if I can earn that back in sales from the ad, and hopefully then some, then it was worth it. And what’s more important is reaching new readers.

Fingers crossed the ad is a success!


Back to School and No. 2

Over at Amazon.com today, the following image popped up on their home page and brought back a flood of memories.  Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about going back to school?  I’m sure glad I don’t have to.

But did you ever wonder why we used a No. 2 Pencil?  What happened to No. 1?  Did you obsess over what kinds of pencils you wanted?  I preferred the plain orangeish yellow Dixon Eldorado HB USA No. 2.  It had a nice eraser.  Every once in a while I’d buy one with a design on it (when those later became available), but I preferred that traditional off yellow. Remember those cheapy pencils that always left red streaks when you tried to erase with them.  You always had to buy those colorful square pointy erasers to put on the end.

And let’s not forget the pencil sharpener that hung on the wall and made that whirring sound when you turned the crank.  Someone would always go to empty the shavings and end up spilling them all over the floor, or they’d inhale the dust and start sneezing.  Those long curls of zig zagged shavings always intrigued me.  And who never got stabbed with a pencil and got lead stuck in their finger? And what about those naked brown pencils which someone forgot to paint?  I loved those!

Gosh, that smell alone of freshly sharpened pencils brings back memories.  But as I progressed through school those odd plastic pens claiming to be pencils came along.  Kids now had tiny boxes filled with long thin pieces of lead to to refill their pen pencil.  I hated those things.

Although I haven’t used an actual pencil in years, probably since high school – It’s all blue or black now and my obsession with Uniball Vision pens will have to be another post – it’s nice to see a small piece of my educational history still intact and going for $12.00 for a 96 pack on Amazon these days.  Wow!  Hey kids, you are lucky.  We didn’t have Amazon back then.  We had to go buy our school supplies and Wal-Mart or Target like everyone else.  And why 96?  Is it too much work just to put 4 more pencils in the pack and make it an even 100?

I bet no one ever stabs their classmate these days with a pencil.  They’d be in court with a lawsuit on their hands in no time.  Wow, how things have changed.  In K through 8, there were 35 of us in class, unlike the tiny classes today they have so students can have more attention, and yet they still aren’t learning anything.  But then again, we didn’t have metal detectors to walk through, or knives, or guns in our lockers.  Occasionally, someone got caught with cigarettes.  That was so taboo.  Oh, and we spoke to one another in class and wrote notes and made those little pocket games out of paper where you opened flaps and discovered who you were going to marry and that you were going to live in a castle.  We didn’t have IPods or cell phones, and couldn’t text one another.  We didn’t have Xbox.  Our first game was Oregon Trail and we learned how to play it on an Apple with an all green screen.

And at the end of the day, we didn’t have a computer to come home to to surf MySpace or write in our blogs.  We did our homework with a No. 2 pencil.  Ahhh, those were the days.

God, I’m old.

Book Update

May was a busy month, and I can’t believe it’s gone! I went through several edits and a completely new cover design for my next book, STEALING WISHES. The anticipated release date was July 1st, but I think it might be mid June now.

I’ve been trying to concentrate on my historical fiction novel but haven’t been able to concentrate on it since early May with all the excitement going on with STEALING WISHES.

I’m back on MySpace now, mainly to promote the new book and make contacts with friends and acquaintances there. I’m also still using my Amazon blog, where readers who bought my previous work can catch up with me and keep up to date. Speaking of Amazon, the Kindle Ebook edition of STEALING WISHES is already available there for just $6.00!

I also signed up for AfterElton.com yesterday, something I can’t believe I haven’t done already. It’s loaded with lots of entertainment information and I spent almost all day yesterday reading stuff there. Check it out and add me as a buddy there too if you want. I probably spend too much time on line, but between writing at the computer, and getting the word out about my new book, the internet is such a valuable tool for an author.

So stay tuned to my blog here, or Amazon, or AE, or MySpace because the release of STEALING WISHES is fast approaching. I look forward to hearing your opinions of the new book, and I appreciate your readership.

Best wishes!

ABNA Still Going Strong

I came across this site today, a forum for participants of the Amazon.com ABNA contest which I was a part of from October to January.  I think it’s great that the community is still thriving and has turned into a nice little website.  And good news for me, the review copy of my own manuscript, Stealing Wishes, will arrive in the mail before the weekend.  So, it should be available in print very soon.  I opted not to use the free Createspace option I earned by being an entrant in the contest, because my book would have only been available through Amazon.com.  So, check back soon for more news on my new book!

The Other Side of Kindle

I’m happy to announce my first book, The Other Side of What, will soon be available as a downloadable ebook on the Amazon Kindle.  I think the price is around five or six dollars. The $399 dollar electronic reader intends to revolutionize how we read, and everyone is jumping in line to buy one.  Despite the 3 and 1/2 star rating, people have been on backorder for weeks because Amazon sold out of the little device that let’s you download books and newspapers right to the device in the convenience of your own home, never having to visit a physical bookstore again!  That’s okay….most bookstores wouldn’t carry my book anyway these days.

Yeah…yeah….I know I told you a few posts ago to boycott Amazon.  That’s okay too.  Chances are the people reading this blog don’t have a Kindle anyway.  So, you are more than welcome to go over to B&N and buy a copy of my book.  B&N is out of stock, but there are used copies for as little as $4.35, and NO, that’s not me trying to sell off copies of my own.  I’d at least sell autographed copies for 10 bucks!

My new friend, www.abebooks.com, has a wonderful array of copies starting at $4.96 and going up as much as $24.93!  Don’t worry…that’s not me either! Again, those are 2nd hand copies from individuals or overstock bookstores.  They probably got their stock from B&N which would explain why they don’t have any.

Or you could prance on over to Xlibris, my publisher, and buy a copy.  $17.84 for a paperback and $27.89 for a hardcover if you are desperate and don’t have to afford gas these days.  I think I’ll get like 10% of that sale; I haven’t earned a royalty from them in years so I look forward to that paycheck.

Or here’s an idea…for a buck you can download it right from my bookstore on Lulu.com.  If you still like the feel of paper in your hands, you can buy a copy there for only $9.99 too.  I think I earn like 40% of these sales, so go on…you can boycott Amazon, get the best price on an E-book version, and support the author all at once.  Go on now….I’ll wait for you.

ABNA Voting Closes Today

Voting for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award ends today, and the winner will be announced in 7 days.  *yawn*  It’s about time this thing was over!

Here’s a quote from judge Eric Simonoff, an agent with Janklow and Nesbitt about one of the entries…”Like the Midwest where Prospect is set, Okita’s language is oddly featureless and bland, even while his narrative veers into the outlandish.”

Is it just me or does Eric look like Eugene Levy?


It’s official.

Amazon has announced is reasoning behind forcing POD publishers to use their printing service.  Read their announcement here!

It all comes down to saving fuel and shipping costs.  Those are words I hear everyday at the wholesale book company I work for. I never once thought I’d hear them from a billion dollar corporation like Amazon.

This blow to the POD world saddens me and it will be interesting to see what effects it will have on the industry.  I pray that Amazon will be the one hard hit by boycotting, lawsuits, and POD publishers who won’t back down.  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m still plotting away at an attempt to break into the traditional publishing world, and continuing to support the POD world through my review blog.

The fate of both keeps me awake at night.

I want my POD!

The POD (print on demand) industry has been rocked with the news that Amazon.com has started bending the arms of POD Publishers to force them into using their sister company, Booksurge, for printing or they won’t offer their books for sale directly through Amazon. PublishAmerica has already been hit and the BUY buttons of their books on Amazon have been taken down. POD review sites like Podpeep and Lulu have already started voicing their opinions, and I hope POD authors will as well.

POD authors always looked to Amazon as their #1 online marketing tool. As a POD author myself, I jumped at the opportunity Amazon gave me by selling signed copies of my book at my own set price right on the same page where Amazon sold my book. Amazon also gave me my own blog on their site which would show up right on the page where my book was and then promoted it to those who purchased my book so they could keep up with me.

My book’s publisher, Xlibris, has yet to be affected by this move as far as I know, but who knows what’s to come. I personally hope this will be a poke in the eye for Amazon as they try to monopolize this industry. Hopefully it will send readers somewhere else…into your local physical bookstore, perhaps? As for POD authors, our one friend has stabbed us in the back and so our search for a proper nitch in the market continues. We’re like stray dogs and cats on the streets. Some have room in their hearts for us. The pounds are full of us. But most (readers) just don’t really care. POD books are usually overpriced, most poorly written or edited, and now we’ll be hard to get!

Read more about it here!


Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award ~ Top 100 Finalists

abna.gifYeah, so Amazon.com narrowed down their ABNA semi-finalists to the top 100 this week. Woo……hoo! I’m overcome with excitement….Bueller….Bueller….Bueller…

If you haven’t heard, back in October Amazon.com teamed up with Penguin Publishing and HP for this cool contest where authors could sign up and upload the first 5,000 words of their manuscript. To sign up and reserve your spot, you had to create a CreateSpace account, which is basically a POD service like Lulu but owned by Amazon. PODdy Mouth posted a great blog about the contest here.

The winner (who gets announced in April) gets a nice HP computer and entertainment package and a $25,000 advance and writing contract through Penguin.  Sign me up!

So yeah, I fell for it. I had a completed manuscript and when I saw the Gold Seal ad on Amazon’s home page back on October 1st, I quickly did another edit, signed up, uploaded my goods, and waited. A month later I got my blanket email that I was in! Whoopee! What’s next? Well, me and the other 4,999 entrants had to sit and wait to be narrowed down to 1,000 back in the middle of January. And so, I spent 2 and 1/2 months surfing the message boards, reading the bitch fests, and participating in a few cat fights.

Oh but wait…in December, around 150 of the entrants leaked out on Amazon and you were able to go ahead and download and review them. Ooopsee! Apparently, Amazon was trying to go ahead and get the pages set up for the top 1,000 but didn’t mean for them to go live. I’m sure someone lost their job over that one. The entries were quickly taken down, but when the top 1,000 were finally posted in mid-January, those that had leaked out were indeed there and the reviews they were already given counted.

Happy to say, I didn’t make the 1,000 cut.  Yes, you read it right.  I was happy.  Not sad.  For one, I’d already spent almost 3 months obsessing over the damn contest.  I was tired of waiting and just glad that I could now exhale and move on, which is exactly what I did.  I sat on the manuscript for a few weeks, then polished it, changed the title, and started querying.  Meanwhile, those 1,000 entrants who did make it had to wait another month and beg aunts and uncles to log onto Amazon and vote for them.

However, it’s blatantly obvious that some of those who had top votes didn’t make the cut.  Some of the top 100 have under 10 reviews! So I have no idea what Amazon and Penguin is judging this all on. I’m also highly disappointed in how little Amazon is advertising all of this.  Check out the tiny link on the left side of their home page under Check This Out.

The handful that I stuck around and read didn’t make it to the top 100.  Oh well…I wonder how many people have already taken advantage of getting their book published for free through CreateSpace?  I gave it some serious thought, but decided against it.  I’ve been down that road once before.

Good luck to the top 100 though, and to those who were also rejected already….wherever you are!

Bookmooch: A Reason to Read


Someday, I’ll have to tell the funny story about one of my prized possessions: the huge ornate wall sized bookshelf that I have had for several years now which I bought while living in Memphis.  I’ll save that for another post for now because I want to talk about books.  But after being an avid reader and writer, taking writing and lit classes in college, and working in a bookstore, it took no time at all to fill the bookshelf up.  When I was young and had just come out, I snatched up every piece of gay fiction I could find.

In 2006, I had probably only read about half of those books.  Now, booklovers know that books are like your children and extremely hard to part with.  But we were having a moving sale because we’d just bought a house and we were trying to downsize.  So, I went through the stacks and parted ways with about one hundred books including an entire hardback Stephen King and John Grisham collection.  Don’t shoot me!  Books were flying out the door at $1 and $2 dollars each.  In two days, we completely sold out of everything in the moving sale. Yes, I mean everything!

Also that year, I donated about 80 gay themed books to the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Over the years I’ve sold and bought books on Ebay and Amazon.  We all know what that’s like and the used book market is so saturated that most 3rd party books go for a penny on Amazon.  After shipping and after Amazon takes their cut, you can’t possibly make any profit.  The penny seller must be very desperate to get rid of stock.  But that’s not my point here either….

Thank goodness for the internet. Where would we be without it?  In 2007, I came across a free bookswapping site called BookMooch.  I was hesitant, but I joined anyway.  The rules are easy and I’ve had nothing but success with it to date! It’s free to join.  You create your username and password like all sites.  They don’t ask you for any credit card information at all.  Then, you immediately create an inventory by adding 10 books that you are willing to give away.  For every book you add to your inventory, you get 1/10th of a point.  So, I added 20 books when I signed up and immediately had 2 points.

With every point you have, you can mooch a book off someone else.  So, now that you have points you get to go shopping!  You can create a book list of books you want and BookMooch will email you every time one of those books becomes available.  But beware!  That book may be on other’s lists and they might beat you to it.  But it doesn’t stop there…

Everytime someone mooches a book from you, they spend a point.  So when you mooch a book off someone, you will lose 1 point.  But everytime you agree to ship a book that someone wants to mooch from you, you  earn 1 point.  The only money you have to spend is the cost to ship each book.  That’s it.  And when you receive the books you mooched, the site will give you 1/10th of a point to come back and leave feedback saying you got the book okay.

In just one evening after posting my 20 books, the next morning I had 8 mooches of people wanting them.  That’s 8 points for me! I got lucky and 1 person wanted 3 of them, so I saved on shipping and shipped all 3 of those together.  Yes, shipping can get expensive.  That’s why you can “go on vacation” at any time if you need to slow down and take a break; and you have up to a week to ship books out anyway.  To date, I’ve shipped 30 books and mooched 22.  It’s definitely helped to clean up my bookshelf of stuff I know I won’t read, and it’s introduced me to new stuff I think I might like without me having to actually buy it.  Managing your inventory and wishlist on the site, and looking up books from Amazon is easy.

A few other rules you should know are if you choose to mooch a book from someone overseas or in Canada, it will cost you two or three points.  But if you agree to ship a book there, you earn 2 or 3 points.  You can choose only to ship in the U.S. if you want, but if you do, be courteous and don’t mooch from other countries if you don’t want to ship there too.

Also, there is no claim to open for lost or damaged books like on Ebay, if you aren’t happy.  You can leave negative feedback for someone if you wish, but that’s about it.  Even if a book is lost, BookMooch will just give you your point back and the shipper gets to keep their point anyway…end of story.  No big deal!  There are also charities on the site that you can give points to, like churches, schools, and even prisons.

So check it out!  I highly recommend BookMooch.   Look me up there, add me as your friend.  Mooch from me.  I might just mooch from you.  I’m a moocher. You’re a moocher.  We’re all moochers!