Thursday, March 31, 2011

ebook prices are dropping

Since ebook prices are dropping, I'm trying a new approach. Kind of a mass marketing thing, seeing how this works out. I had no reason to do this in the past but I wanted to make sure you all knew about the special ebook sale I'm doing right now with my 3 horror thriller novels.

A couple of my books have been out for a few years and this month I’ve dropped the price on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. I decided to put them on sale for $0.99. I'm hoping that the price point will encourage a lot of new readers to check them out. I did this for two reasons. Quiet frankly, the ebook price has been dropping, a good thing for us readers. So to keep in line with this rapidly changing market I dropped the price. The second reason was because I just released my forth novel, First To Die. I’m introducing this book at $2.99. Still such a reasonable price compared to where we were last year on ebook prices.

Links to Amazon:

Into the Basement at:  Into the Basement

Into the Spell at:  Into the Spell

Blood Bar at:  Blood Bar

First to Die at:   First to Die

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Amazon Bestsellers Rank Means

Are you curious how Amazon does its ranking calculation? I pulled this from their website. It’s there official explanation.

What Amazon Bestsellers Rank Means
The Amazon Bestsellers calculation is based on sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on
What Amazon Bestsellers Rank by Category Means
While the Amazon Bestsellers list is a good indicator of how well a product is selling overall, it doesn't always indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items. Category and subcategory bestseller lists were created to highlight an item's rank in the categories or subcategories where it really stands out. We choose a few of the most popular subcategories in which the item has a high ranking in relation to other items in that subcategory, and showcase the item's rank on the product page. As with the main Amazon Bestsellers list, these category rankings are based on sales and are updated hourly.
What an Item's Actual Sales Are
For competitive reasons, generally does not publish this information to the public.
What Paid and Free Amazon Bestsellers Lists Are
For the Kindle Store, Amazon Bestsellers lists are divided into Top 100 Paid and Top 100 Free. Items in the paid bestsellers list have a value greater than $0.00. Items in the free list have a value equal to $0.00. Both lists are updated hourly.
Now these are some interesting stats on book sales. Since the algorithm Amazon uses to generate its sales ranking is proprietary, the details below are extrapolated from research and field tests.
I gave credit to the source at the end of the blog.
If the book’s average ranking is:
2,000,000+ Perhaps a single inventory/consignment copy has been ordered
1,000,000+ Current trends indicate total sales will most likely be under 40
100,000+ Current trends indicate total sales will most likely be under 200
10,000+ Estimate between 1 – 10 copies being sold per week.
1,000+ Estimate between 10 – 100 copies being sold per week.
100+ Estimate between 100 – 200 copies being sold per week.
10+ Estimate between 200 – 1000 copies being sold per week.
Under 10 Estimate over 1,000 copies per week
Brent Sampson is the President & CEO of Outskirts Press Publishing at and author of Publishing Gems: Insider Information for the Self-Publishing Writer. Information at

Monday, March 28, 2011

Marketing Checklist to sell more books

Marketing Checklist to sell more...

When was the last time you looked at your site on Amazon? You know, the first place a reader views your work. Does it generate the buying impulse? How about updating your product description? If you’re like me it’s been a while.

I release a new novel last week, First to Die. Realized my Amazon book pages need work.

I Googled. Found a blog. Read something that stuck with me.

Awareness: The most important marketing advice.
You have to get your name out there. Everything else is important. But you have to get your name out there and that’s means devoting time to blogging, Kindle Boards, Facebook, Twitter, you know the list…well I’m working that. So what else can an author do? Here’s where the checklist comes in.

Your Cover: We’ve all heard people judge a book by its cover. Does any body really know what a good cover is and does it make a difference. I tried Googling but didn’t hit on anything that gave me stats. I wanted to know is there a color, font size artwork, something that triggers buying based on the design of the book cover, didn’t find it. Must be an industry secret. Here’s what I believe: The book cover needs to look good as a thumbnail (learning that mistake from experience). Red is exciting, blue is pretty good too. The best color combination for a pay here button on a website is navy blue font on an orange rectangle background bordered by a red line? Doesn’t sound good but I’m trying it out on my website, let you know if that works.

Your Product Description: I’m in the process of updating mine. It feels good. I’ve improved as a writer over the years so has my ability to write something that’s short, quick catchy. So update your book descriptions. This helped me, if you go and look up your blog. You have created a blog in Amazon right? Go to Author Central. The header begins with Home. Select Books. Pulls up a list of your books. Select a book and an editing page opens up where you can update your product description, post reviews, add the back cover description all kinds of stuff.

Your Reviews: I need more reviews. That’s in line with awareness. Makes sense. Good reviews have got to help.

Your Writing: How does a buyer know about your writing? Free download of the first chapters might help. I’m doing that in Goodreads. Have the first chapter of three of my books posted so far.

Price: Talked about this the other day. I’ve seen my sales double by dropping the price to $0.99. Maybe that’s just an impulse purchase. But we want people to read our books, get the word out there. My latest novel I priced at $2.99. We’ll see how that works out.

In summary:
Look at your sites, Amazon, Smashwords your website and work the checklist:
Your Cover
Your Product Description
Your Reviews
Your Writing

Friday, March 25, 2011

Writing Rules

There are so many opinions about what it takes to be a successful author. I recently read an article that reminded me of the rules. I’m sure every agent, publisher or author could tell us the “rules.” Here are some, these are basic, can’t argue with them, so here they are:

1). Write a Good Book:
That’s like a no brainer. But what is a good book? I’m not going to knock any successful author but we know the list spans from poor writing to exceptional and everything in between. So I’m not really sure I can define a good book except to say, do the best you can. Find someone that’s anal. Yup, get them to read your stuff looking for gaps in the story, thoughts unanswered and the stuff we miss because we’re to close to the work.

2). Know the Market:
This one bothers me. I think most of us write in the genre we do, because that’s where we’re comfortable. That’s where we can visualize the story. See it like a movie and then write it. For me, to write in a genre because that genre has the biggest sales doesn’t work for me. I don’t see myself writing YA paranormal romance.

3). A Good Cover and Title:
Can’t help but agree with this one. Nick Grabowsky of Black Bed Sheet Books has done my last three book covers. I love them. Color, graphic blended images that at first you might not notice, yeah they’re cool. For $0.99 they’re almost worth buying just for the covers. For titles, I’ve always enjoyed a book that somewhere buried in a chapter, the title is used in a sentence, just kind of like that. No science behind it.

4). Competitive Price:
Here’s the latest thinking on price. If you self publish e-books and you’re a new author, your highest price should be $2.99. This price point gives the author the 70% royalty that Amazon offers. But if you’re new and like all of us, we need to grow our reader base, your first novels should be $0.99. At that price it’s an impulse purchase, but if readers like your style they’ll buy more. There is even an argument for offering your novels for free. This approach is in the hopes that readers will purchase the author’s other works.

5). The Book Description:
It has to be something that draws the potential reader to purchase the book. I’m sure there are better ones than mine. But here we go. For “Into the Spell,” I wrote this:

Hypnotist, deranged…
Ghost, Madame Blavatsky…
Serial killer, female…
Bent woman, Kim Bennett…

Into the Spell is Norm Applegate’s second book. It’s a paranormal thriller about a serial killer controlled by a hypnotist, who speaks to the dead.

The Mayor's daughter is murdered. Kim Bennett and FBI agent A.L. Hague are catapulted into the dark side of hypnosis, paranormal behaviors, ghosts and the occult. The situation gets worse. A .44 caliber bulldog is found. The same pistol used by the Son of Sam. It sets the clock ticking in an adventure of sex and control.

6). Write More Books:
Don’t know if these stats are true, but what the heck even if they’re not, directionally the logic seems sound. Still think that the numbers are over inflated. But you get the point. The more books an author has for sale the more they’ll sell.
1 book published = 10 books sold per month
2 books published = 50 to 60 books sold per month
3 books published = 200 to 400 books sold per month
4 books published = 1,000 books sold per month
5 books published – over 10,000 books sold per month

Here are some other stats I found:
·      In 2007: according to Xlibris's own internal reports, obtained by Writer Beware, 4% of its titles had sold more than 1,000 copies. That means 96% sold fewer than 1000 copies!
·      A Lulu bestseller is a book that sells 500 copies.
·      The average book from a POD service sells fewer than 200 copies

7).  Market:
Even if you’ve done all of the above, how does a potential buyer find you? You’ve got to market your book. Here’s a short list.  You get the idea.
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, The Kindle Boards and your own blog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Into the Spell, A Paranormal Thriller

I'm posting this because I have a new cover for Into the Spell. Nick Grabowsky of Black Bed Sheet Books designed. I love it. Normally I wouldn't change the cover on a previously published book but here's what happened. My novels for sale on Amazon and Smashwords. Amazon accepts books just like Smashwords. However, Smashwords has a premium catalog. The catalog distributes your ebook to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony and a host of other formats, even for viewing on your computer. For a book to be included in the catalog it has to meet certain quality criteria. My old cover was to small? Don't know what that means. It was rejected.  

Action. Called Nick, told him the situation. He delivered. Here it is. And the price only $0.99

...thought I would throw in a couple of paragraphs from Into the Spell, A Paranormal Thriller

Chapter 1

Car accidents happen. That’s why they’re called accidents. It was eight-fifteen in the evening. Jennifer Bernstein lunged forward. Her white Camry was hit. She was seated in the driver’s seat. Hands clutching the steering wheel. She looked into the rear-view mirror. A car was backing up. It stopped. There was a man inside. He was alone. She stared at him. He stared back. She twisted to her right and popped open the glove compartment.
The parking garage of the Tampa Airport Marriott was dark. It limited her sight. Her fingers searched for the first pen she could grab. Opening a brown leather folder and ripping a piece of paper from the pad, the twenty-three year was thinking about her mother and how angry she would be.
Jennifer sat still for a moment, her heart fluttering. Her mind recalling what just happened. She reached for the door handle. Her fingers were slippery, sweaty. She opened the door and slide out.
A composed voice in her mind softly spoke. “Take a deep slow breath and …relax.”
The voice was not hers. She was puzzled, confused.  She stood silent and stared.
She saw a man. He was too far to have uttered the words. The stranger stood, still, quiet. Looking at her. He was tall and thin, with tanned skin and dark eyes. Mesmerizing. The eyes were powerful.
He was moving, walking toward her. Took a few seconds. He reached out with his fingers and touched her forearm.
“Are you alright?” the voice was confident.
Jennifer, surprised by his presence felt different. Something inside, inside her head. Controlling. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Melting like butter

I was listening to itunes radio, smooth jazz. A song came on and it grabbed me. "I'm Ok," the artist is Lisa Shaw. Im a smooth jazz guy. I like an upbeat rhythm with cool instrumentation. So I bought the album, "Free." Amazing, every song is excellent. I slip on the earbuds and listen to her as I run. Great music to exercise to. Some background on Lisa. She was born in Toronto, my home town. Had nothing to do with me liking her. Apparently she went to New York and her career took off. She has performed live on The David Letterman Show. Was a backing vocalist for Jewel and is a huge success in the late hours of dance clubs worldwide. Being a drummer I listen to rhyme. The electronic drums have a great sound, good rudiments. Nice bass runs and the vocals are sultry, melting like butter. A must have...

A Shout out - this day in History:

The first Stanley Cup was played in 1894 in Montreal Canada

American Revolution

The origins of the Hummer1983


Monday, March 21, 2011

"The sex with Mom was good, and for once, I was in the mood for it."

A few days ago I asked this question in the Kindle Blogs. Got a lot of answers, thought I would share these.:
If you're like me, you look at the cover and go quickly to chapter one, read the opening line and start the decision process. Do I buy it? Maybe you read the opening line of chapter two. It either grabs you or it doesn't. What is your favorite opening line? One that you wrote. And tell us what book please, might want to buy it.

Here's one of mine from my latest novel, First to Die.
A dark SUV slipped through the fog and came to a stop. It was quiet. Almost silent.

Here’s more. I’ve included the name of the book and author.

From "A Harmless American" by David Dalglish
Javier watched her swim until she drowned.

From “Pigman's Fingers,” by Ian Fraser
"The sex with Mom was good, and for once, I was in the mood for it."

The Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher
"The day I learnt I was a demon was the worst day of my life."

From “Falling Star,” by Phillip Chen
He was killed by a hit and run jogger.

From “The Mayor,” by Robin Morris
"Everyone knew when The Mayor came to Madame Bob's."

From “Lucifer's Odyssey,” by Rex Jameson
"Lucifer sat down at his usual, dimly-lit spot at the back of the honky-tonk bar."

Anybody have any others. Come on post them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Outlining your novel

I read that a breakout novel can’t be written in a weekend. For most, it takes three to five years to write. I disagree with that. The three to five years part that is. I agree with the weekend. I start my process by writing out maybe forty to fifty sentences. Each one represents a chapter. Some I expand into a few sentences others I leave the headline alone. It’s a plan, a roadmap so I know where I’m headed. For me it’s not a detailed process. Maybe it should be. I haven’t found a book on the subject of writing outlines. Ahhh, note to self, when I’m famous and use an outline write a how to book…
            I have an author friend, David Hagberg he writes CIA terrorist stories. Hit the New York Times last year with The Expediter. Has a new book, The Abyss coming out in June. We have lunch together every few months. We like say we tip a few and laugh. I consider him my mentor. I pick his brain for these little nuggets. Like I have inside information on writing. Things like outlining. He has written over eighty books. I’ve written four. He writes a detailed outline, he even knows the end before he begins. Mine is sketchy at best, never know the end. It discovers me. I think I’m impatient. I want to write the book not plan to write it. But I’ve logged this into my to do’s. Work on creating a detailed plan before writing the breakout novel. Maybe the next book I’ll build a better plan. Let me highlight that so I can come back and read this at a later time, kinda remind myself of something I must work on.

Create detailed plan before starting the writing process.
            The basics:
            What’s the location for the novel?
            Who is the main character?
            What is the main driver to the story?
            What does the main character want?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Found the movie Trailer for Martyrs! Read the earlier post for a review.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You'll feel ashamed of yourself...

Terror. Graphic terror. I watched a horror movie a few weeks ago so violent I was blown away. It is graphic. It's tense. It's exhausting. I’m shocked that so few people are talking about it. So I’m going to. Maybe it’s because the French get a bad name, I don’t know, except to say this is one freaking movie.
If you haven’t heard of it, go get it right now. Order it from Netflix.
Directed by: Pascal Laugier and was first shown at Cannes Film Festival in 2008

This is the best quality horror movie I’ve seen. The French are on a role, with “Frontiers,” another gritty horror. They have found a niche.

I won’t spoil the movie here but…It starts out with an unsettling series of camera angles. A girl, maybe about 11, beaten up, bruised, bloody face, barely dressed running out of a deserted factory. It looks real.
We learn the girl, Lucie was a prisoner. We see a chair, dark dingy cell. The chair has a hole in it. She was tortured. But here’s where the movie is brilliant. You don’t know why she was tortured. You’re thinking oh yeah, seen it before, torture porn. No, No, No. You will never guess what is going on or why Lucie is being victimized. Until the end. And it’s so deep. So physiologically unsettling, it’s genius.

The movie jumps to fifteen years later. This is the story. Throughout the movie Lucie is tormented by an image. A woman, think it’s a woman. Yup, it’s a woman. Naked, starved, bones protruding, female, very creepy. The image attacks her, cuts her up, carves in, carves out, blood, wet painful, cuts her again, and again and again.

I was confused here. I thought I knew where this movie was going, wrong. It fooled me. A different story emerges. One you don’t expect. One you can’t figure out. The pace is fast. You don’t have time to think about where it’s going. You don’t have time to put the pieces together. It’s happening rapidly in front of your eyes.

Lucie is at a middle class family house. Then something happens. Lucie calls her friend Ann to come help her. Another moment you don’t expect. Then something happens. Again you’re puzzled. Then for the next 30 minutes. You are witness to extreme horror. Only near the end does all this brutality make sense. Clue: Martyr is Greek for “witness.”

All horror movies will be measured against this one!

When you have watched it through to the end. Post you’re thoughts. You will feel ashamed watching this movie. It’s like you’re watching something you know you shouldn’t be watching. Martyrs…

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eric Clapton

I went to the Eric Clapton concert March 5th in Vegas. MGM Grand Casino to be exact.  I had never seen Clapton before so I was pretty hyped up to listen to him wail. And he did by the way. But who would have thought at a Clapton concert the piano player might have stolen the show.  
Chris Stainton, from England is the guy. He was incredible. Here’s the background on him. He played with Joe Cocker in the 60’s. He was on the Mad Dogs and Englishman Tour.  In 1979 he began playing with Clapton. He’s also the guy that did the piano work on the Who’s Quadrophenia album. Pretty impressive. 
Then there was the drummer. I’m a drummer but nothing like this guy. Steve Gadd is solid. At age eleven he played with Dizzy Gillespie. Frank Zappa even lampoon him because he was one of the highest paid sessions drummers around. He has played with everyone. Recorded on over 2000 albums, including one of my favorites Aja by Steely Dan.  
Clapton showed us why he is the greatest. One word,  perfection. Not a note or a beat was overused or out of sync. He did an extended guitar solo in “I Shot The Sherriff,” and two classics, “Cocaine” and “Crossroads.” Surprisingly, he never talked to the audience. I found out afterward that’s how he is, quiet. Lets the guitar do the talking.

This App works "Focus Booster," helps you write more!

So I’m blog hopping and I end up on Amanda Hocking’s blog. We all know who she is. She’s all over the place, this young girl from Minnesota that is a huge success on Amazon, kinda making us indie writers proud. Well, she mentions this app called “Focus Booster.” It’s a timer on your computer. I know from my consulting work, “if you measure it, you can improve it.” I like it. You hit a button it starts a count down. You feel pressured to get things done. You find yourself watching the timer tick away and well, it works. You write more.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Book Out in March

The last book in my horror series for a while comes out in March. My next novel is a mystery thriller. First to Die is set to come out on March 13th. This day in 1965 Jeff Beck replaced Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds. Big fan of both guys, saw Clapton in Vegas March 5th.

The description for First to Die is:

Coherced into a grave-robbing scheme by a group of vampires, Kim Bennett has no idea she's been set up for a grisly murder, her own. Following leads to New York and Paris, Kim battles twisted characters, a killer with a sickening fetish and a society fueled by blood lust. This novel is as much a thriller as it is blunt force trauma. Laced with sexual frenzy layered on graphic violence, this book is not for vegetarians.

Take a look at it!

From Book to Movie

The premise behind Into the  Basement was to revisit the suspense thriller in the tradition of the horror, slasher flicks of the 70’s.

The process of bringing Basement to the screen began with the discovery of the novel written by Norm Applegate in 2006 by J.L. Botelho. Months went by until the winter of 2007 when Norm Applegate and Triad Studios made the commitment to partner and bring Basement to life. Taken by the dark characters and nature of the story, J.L. Botelho created the trailer for the film with Megan Lynn the first actress to be cast in the production.

Unveiled at the 2008 World Horror Convention, YouTube, and Myspace , Basement immediately had a following. Norm Applegate then brought his friend and international horror writer Nicholas Grabowsky, of Black Bed Sheet Books into the project. From their distant offices in Sarasota and Sacramento, the screenplay for Basement was developed. The momentum was picking up.

When the casting search began, J.L. Botelho had no difficulty in finding resume rich actors for the movie; Naama Kates, Courtney Gains, Larry Laverty, David Fine, Jesse Kozel, Jamie McCall, and Johathan Breck all found their way to the Basement. Assistant producer and actor DeeDee Bigelow, cemented the relationships and horror queens the beautiful Nicole Fiore, and the talented Melanie Robel, were added. A brilliant addition to the group is Two Foot Fred as Dr. Moro. The film was cast.