Monday, February 18, 2019

Exclusivity vs. Going Wide

Putting all of your eggs in one basket. Whenever I hear that phase, it immediately conjures up thoughts of limiting myself in any situation where there are other possible choices to consider. In today’s lingo, the acronym, FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is probably the way most people would describe that same feeling.

Sometimes FOMO will thrust you forward, pushing you to make a choice where the possible positive results, although not guaranteed, will outweigh the negative of not making that particular choice. Sometimes, it simply freezes us in place. We know there are other, perhaps better choices out there, but the fear is not of missing out, it’s of change. The change is not guaranteed success, so the FOMO in this case, is missing out on what we already have if we leave it behind to try something new.

In the world of indie publishing, the fear is leaving behind the comfort of staying exclusive with Amazon, or branching out into the many other electronic bookstores where we can place our books for sale. Think of it as like being a baby bird that doesn't want to leave the nest and venture out into the scary, unknown world. The nest is all we know. The nest has been there for us, perhaps even good to us. But to really learn and grow, leaving the nest may be the best choice. 

As with everything, there are two sides to every story. Most of us got our start as an Indie Author by first publishing our books on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). There is an option to include your work in their Kindle Unlimited program, which allows the customers who pay for that service to download and read your work for free. Our payment comes from the customer actually reading the book. The payout for this is determined by the amount of page reads your book accumulates through the program. It sounds like a great idea. People can read your book for free and you still get paid for all your hard work! The catch? You have to agree that you will not offer the electronic version of your book anywhere else while you are participating in the KU program. Your commitment is for 90 days, and is auto-renewed every 90 days. If you’re not paying attention, you can be in this program for a long time. And just because someone downloads your book, there is no guarantee that it will ever be read at all. I have personally experienced this… you get a spike in your sales ranking when someone downloads your baby, your blood, sweat and tears—the book you possible spent years writing. And then nothing. The line on the graph on your reports page never moves. Why? Because the book was downloaded but never opened or read by that customer. Perhaps they came across it and were intrigued enough by your cover and blurb that they decided to add it to their TBR, and downloaded it right then and there. But it is way down their list of books to read and it may be weeks or even months before you see any reward for your efforts.

Now, some Indie Authors swear by the KU program. They get a ton of page reads and make a decent living being a part of this program. But for a lot of us, it’s just the opposite. So what is the alternative? Keeping your book available for sale on Amazon, because, let’s face it, they are the juggernaut. But if you also opt out of the KU program before the auto-renewal kicks in, you are now free to distribute your book to other book selling platforms, while keeping it for sale on Amazon.

I have recently been trying to make this decision myself. I’ve had my book, Dead is Forever, exclusive to Amazon and KU since it was first published in May 2017. Now, as a first book, by an unknown author, it has fared pretty well overall. Without being specific, I sold over 100 copies of Dead is Forever by the end of 2018, which was about a year and a half from the publication date. It’s not a best seller, and I understand that in the scheme of things, it’s not even a lot of books. But I’ve been happy with the results since a lot of first time authors never sell more than a couple of copies of their first book. And 2019 has started off pretty good. Over time, I’ve had page reads through the KU program, but not enough to keep it in the program.

And now, I feel like it’s time to take Dead is Forever, wide, as they say. Wide, simply means that I am making it available through other digital bookstores. It will still be available at Amazon, but no longer available for Kindle Unlimited download.

This was a decision I didn’t take lightly. As a matter of fact, I’ve let the KU auto-renew happen several times rather than jump into the wider sea of opportunity. Mainly because of that reverse FOMO—Fear of Missing Out on what I already had. I mean, I had page reads. Was pulling my book from the KU program a mistake? Would it eventually catch fire and I would be missing out on profits accumulated from more page reads over time by just leaving well enough alone?

After much deliberation, I finally pulled the plug on the KU program for Dead is Forever. The exclusivity ran out on February 15th and I did not renew.  

There are a few ways I could’ve gone to distribute my book to the other platforms. I could upload my book to each bookstore individually that I wanted to be on, or choose one of a couple of distribution sites to do it for me. I decided that trying to do it individually was more work than I was willing to take on right now. I work a full time job, and have grandkids to spoil, leaving me little time for writing most days as it is, so I decided to let Draft2Digital do the heavy lifting for me on this new chapter in the publishing side of my writing life.

I can’t tell you how awesome and scary it felt to hit the PUBLISH button on the D2D site. There was no turning back as soon as I clicked on that button.

I sent my first born out into the world of other bookstores last night. I went to bed wondering if I’d made the right decision. When I awoke this morning, I had several emails confirming publication to several of those new bookstore sites. I immediately went searching for my book. The first one I looked at was Barnes & Noble. I knew I’d made the right choice as soon as I saw my book available for purchase and download on the B&N site.

It’ll still be a few days before Dead is Forever is available at all the other bookstores, but I know in my heart that it was a good decision for me.

Putting all your eggs in one basket, in this case, the basket being Amazon, was not the best choice for me. I am looking forward to seeing how my book performs at the other bookstores. Yes, I know that I will still most likely get most of my sales from Amazon. However, I really like the idea of branching out to these other platforms. I will move Deadly Passion and The Razzman Chronicles off the KU program and onto other bookstore sites as soon as their current 90 day commitment has ended.   

I’ll provide an update on how this all flowed at the end of the year. I’ll let you know if it was a successful move or if I should have ignored the FOMO itch. But for now, for me, the FOMO of what could be with the other bookstores, won out over the realization of what has been with the KU program on Amazon.
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Looking for a new book for your Kindle device? How about a fun, PI Detective mystery?

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Starts Saturday 02/09/19 at midnight PST / 02/10/19 GMT in UK (that's 3am US East Coast)

PI Tony Razzolito pieces together long forgotten clues as he tries to solve the twenty-year-old murder of a young high school grad, that is somehow linked to a recent brutal killing.
But as he works through the list of suspects, he finds himself battling the seasoned homicide detective who couldn't solve the murder the first time around.

Can the two forge a partnership long enough to solve both murders, or will their egos prevent a killer from being caught?

DEADLY PASSION: A Tony Razzolito PI Story

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Regular price: $2.99  
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Starts 02/09/19 midnight PST/ 02/10/19 midnight GMT(UK)
Ends 02/16/19 midnight PST/ 02/17/19 midnight GMT
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Monday, December 31, 2018

A Look Back / A Look Forward

As I sit here writing this blogpost, it is early in the evening on December 31st, and 2018 will be over within a couple of hours. Like a lot of you, I have spent the day reflecting on what I've accomplished, what I liked, and disliked over the past year. Overall, 2018 was a pretty good year for me. I lost thirty pounds in the first few months of the year, released Deadly Passion, book two in The Razzman Files series, featuring PI Tony Razzolito, and we welcomed our second grandchild into the world just a few days ago.

That was the good stuff.

Now in all fairness, some of this good stuff was actually stuff I set as part of my goals for 2017. My doctor told me to lose the weight in 2017. I didn't. I originally had planned on releasing Deadly Passion by the end of 2017. I didn't. Be that as it may, I did both of these things - it just took me a little longer than I wanted. So, I'm gonna refer to those two goals as a part of my two year plan.๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Losing weight is never an easy task. Losing weight as a 59 year old with arthritic knees makes that task even harder to accomplish. I'm very proud of the fact that I lost 30 pounds. My doctor was ecstatic!๐Ÿ˜€ Mostly, I did it by changing the way I eat. But I also crossed over into the dreaded Mall-Walkers club this year. Yes, I am now one of those older folks who walks around the neighborhood shopping mall to get my exercise. And yes, I am one of the people that always thought that dressing up in sweats and putting on a pair of New Balance shoes and then power-walking around the younger people strolling through the mall was just plain silly. I used to think that way. I don't anymore. I am now the guy who the young moms shoo their even younger children away from, as I speed by them donning my sweat pants and New Balance shoes.

I released Deadly Passion in April. I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finished that book. I think it is better than the first book, Dead is Forever. Mainly, I think I'm a better writer than I was when I wrote the first one. I've learned a lot about story, and structure, and research, between the time I wrote book one and book two. I believe I found my writer's voice through the main character, Tony Razzolito, and I knew all of the characters and their personality quirks better this time around. So, the story was actually driven by the characters... I just put their words on paper.

My first grandchild was born in 2017. His personality blossomed in 2018. My daughter and I took him on a road trip back to my hometown, to visit with family and friends in August. It was a special trip for me because I really had a chance to spend some quality time with the two of them. My daughter and her husband were to welcome a new baby by the end of the year, so this would be the last time we would probably take this trip in the way we did, since the dynamic was about to change. That's not to say that the new dynamic wasn't going to be great... because it is. It's just that when my kids were, well... kids, we would take this trip every year. My son, daughter, and their mom would make the trip with me and we would visit family and friends. As time marched on and things changed, those trips also changed. Now that my kids are adults, each has made the effort to occasionally tag along. But, they are both married now and have lives of their own, so they don't come along as much as I would like. When my daughter asked if she and my grandson could go with me this year, it touched me deeply. If you are interested, you can read a bit about that trip here, on an older blogpost. Just click on the summer trip blog under the September tab.

My granddaughter was born on December 21st, and I can't think of a better way to cap off the year. I now have two beautiful grandchildren. I am very blessed.

As the remaining hours of 2018 tick away, I look forward to the new year. 2019 holds a lot of promise, but then so does every bright and shiny new year. What matters most as we cross over into 2019 are the promises kept and the goals achieved throughout the upcoming year, and not the promises made or the goals we set at the beginning. Most likely, the promises, goals and resolutions we take into the new year will change and be modified as we bump into the, for now, unknown challenges that are bound to get in our way. We all usually go into the next year believing that this will be the year we change, the year we prosper, the year we find love, the year where we finally realize all of our dreams, etc. And for some, that's how it plays out. But for most, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to stay on task, or to even remember what we set out to achieve once the year gets rolling. I'm guilty of that, myself. Every year I start out strong, only to let it go in the middle of the year, and then push during the last month or two, trying to accomplish what I promised myself ten months earlier. The third book in The Razzman Files, Dirty Air, fell prey to this. I wanted to release it before the end of the year. I will not be doing that.

But this year is different. At least it is for me. I will mark a milestone birthday in 2019. I turn 60 years old in May. So, the finish line I am now most concerned with goes beyond the end of the current year. I have a lot of stuff I want to do yet. And 2019 is a great time to push the pedal down a little harder and get busy.

That being said, here are a few things I would like to continue, or get done in 2019:
  • Be the best grandpa I can be to my grandbabies
  • Spend less time concerned with things I cannot change anyways
  • Set foot inside a gym and begin the weight training and toning I should have included when working on my weight loss last year - and maybe even lose a few more pounds 
  • Release book three, Dirty Air 
  • Complete a short story that will be included in a WolfPackAuthors anthology book, coming out in the first half of the year - proceeds to be donated to charity (Follow me on Twitter for more information)
  • Start and FINISH the fourth book in The Razzman Files series
  • Write on this blog with a little more regularity - perhaps even hold to a schedule๐Ÿ˜
  • Continue to learn and grow as a writer
  • Read and REVIEW more books than I did in 2018
  • Be the best, supportive partner I can be in the Twitter Writers Community    
I am certain this list will grow and change a bit over the year, but nonetheless, it is the list I plan to follow and accomplish by the time the ball drops on the last day of 2019.

Until next time - Happy New Year!

As always, any thoughts or comments are welcome! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Need to fill up that new Kindle you got for Christmas?

Got the Kindle App on a different device but it's empty?
Here's a GREAT place to start -
FOR ONE WEEK ONLY, you can get the VERY FIRST Tony Razzolito PI Story
for JUST 99¢ US  /  £0.99 UK
Starts Christmas Day 12/25/18 at midnight PST / GMT in UK (that's 3am US East Coast)

It’s hard enough to lose your wife to murder. It’s even harder if it’s your first real case as a PI. How would you handle the secrets you found out along the way? 
• Dead is Forever: A Tony Razzolito PI Story

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Amazon US Site  $0.99
Amazon UK Site  £0.99

Regular price: $2.99  
NOW Just 99¢ / £0.99 with Kindle Countdown
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Starts Christmas Day 12/25/18 midnight PST/GMT
Ends New Year 01/01/19 midnight PST/GMT
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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Good Writing
How do you define good writing? Well, there are lots of ways to go when answering this question. Some will define good writing as stories written about subjects that people want to read. Others will say that good writing is performed by someone who writes well. Someone who uses proper grammar and has no spelling or punctuation errors.
For me, good writing is composed by someone who simply has a deep seeded passion to write. Genre doesn’t matter as long as the story being told has the author’s sweat equity attached to it. The words flow from brain, to fingertips, to paper in such a way that even if the reader does not normally enjoy the genre or subject matter, there is an appreciation that cannot be denied. The passion the writer has for the subject transfers to the person reading the story.
I’ve experienced this effect recently. My genres of choice when reading are Mystery, PI Detective, Suspense, and Adventure. However, lately, I have dipped my toe in a few other genres and was pleasantly surprised.
Not long ago, I read a book titled, Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, by Soulla Christodoulou. At its core it is Women’s Fiction. It is also a coming of age story, a novel about strength, relationships, and family. This book took me to a place I’d never been before… and I found that I liked where it took me.
I recently read a short story by Stefan Angelina McElvain. Twelve Nights is an erotic tale that took me by surprise. I had always stayed away from Erotica as a genre because I had the idea that it was mostly raw sex that lacked quality storylines. Yes, people are drawn to Erotica because of the tantalizing, escapism sex, but these books also have substance and storylines that make them a good solid reading experience.
I’ve never been real big on science fiction stuff, and usually stay away from that genre and all its sub-genres. However, I took a chance on a collection of short stories by Claire Buss, titled, The Blue Serpent. This collection was much more than I had originally (pre-reading) gave it credit for. I thought it was going to be all Sci-Fi, Dystopian type of stories, but after I finished the book, I was impressed enough to give her two-book, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian Sci-Fi series, The Gaia Collection, a spot on my TBR (to be read) shelf.
I’ve read several cozies by Kathi Daley, Lucy Quinn, Tonya Kappes, and Ritter Ames. This I find the most amazing as I’ve always thought of the Cozy genre as straight up female targeted writing. Surprise, surprise, I find myself really liking these stories and have gone back to the well several times. It has become my dirty little reading secret.
Of course, I have not been ignoring my first love; Adventure, Detective, PI, and Mystery. I have enjoyed, On the Hook, by Cindy Davis, which is a newer Cozy-style Mystery series. This is a light-hearted series where the mysteries are theft, and caper style plots rather than murder mysteries. The Justinia Wright, Private Investigator Mysteries, by CW Hawes, gives a nod to the traditional detective stories like Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. I enjoyed the first in the series, Festival of Death, so much that I immediately bought the entire series after I’d finished the book.
There are many others, too numerous to mention. But there are a couple of threads that tie all of these books together for me. One; they were all written by independently published authors whose passion for writing was evident in every story, and two; although all are vastly different in genre and style, all are considered, in my opinion, to be good writing. The authors left it all out on the field. They held nothing back as they crafted the words that best fit their ideas. In some cases, the books I’ve listed were the author’s first born, and in others, it was perhaps the first in a new series. But whether it was the first or the twenty-first book written, never did I feel like I was reading something that the author simply phoned in.
I’m glad I decided to travel to these other worlds I’d not visited before. I’ve had a great time exploring different genres and discovering new stories by talented writers I’ve overlooked in the past, simply because of the genre they work within. It has definitely helped me to become a better writer, and what I've found is that there is simply just too much good writing out there to be ignored.
Click on the author's names above to see their Amazon page
And for the specific books I mentioned above, just click on the links below and you will be able to discover these great reads for yourself!        
Broken Pieces of Tomorrow by Soulla Christodoulou
Twelve Nights by Stefan Angelina McElvain
The Blue Serpent by Claire Buss
On the Hook by Cindy Davis
Festival Of Death by CW Hawes

And as always - please check out all my books by clicking on one of the links below:
Find all my books here:

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

WOW! Just 99¢  Great Deal!

Friday 11/02/18 Midnight PTD until Friday 11/09/18 at Midnight PTD (That's 3am on the East Coast)

Passion can be a powerful emotion. It can make you feel wonderful and all tingly... or push you to the deepest, darkest part of your soul.
• DEADLY PASSION: A Tony Razzolito PI Story

Get your copy by clicking here: 

Regular price: $2.99  
NOW Just 99¢ with Kindle Countdown
For one week only! 
Friday 11.02.2018 (12am PDT) - Friday 11.09.2018 (12am PDT) 
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Friday, October 26, 2018

My Childhood - Part II: The Game Around the Neighborhood

   When I was fifteen years old, my brother, our best friend, and his brother would get together with a few of the other neighborhood kids and we'd all play "The Game Around the Neighborhood". Yes - it's not a very inventive name, but keep in mind, it was the '70s... my excuse for everything that makes no sense. It was essentially hide and seek on steroids. We certainly couldn't call it hide and seek, since that is a timeless little kid's game, and we were teenagers.

   We would split up into two teams; me and my friend John against my brother, Tony, John's brother Stevie, and anywhere from three to five other kids ranging in age from eight to twelve years old. The object of our version of this timeless kid's game was simple-- John and I would go off and hide somewhere in the neighborhood, and everyone else would look for us.

   My brother and his team of eager bloodhounds would give us a ten minute head start before they would begin their search. Nothing was off limits. Neighboring yards, open garages, unlocked cars, even the woods that butted up against a cemetery at the end of a dead end street was fair game. So, off we'd go. We would spend upwards of two hours hiding and seeking across several different streets and numerous back yards. Since this was all taking place in the mid ‘70s, there was no fear of anything bad happening to any of us. As a matter of fact, it never even entered my mother’s thoughts. Different world back then, and it was a great way to spend a sunny, hot summer afternoon.

   The game was usually nowhere near as exciting as the picture I've painted here๐Ÿ˜, so John and I decided we would spice it up a bit. Rather than spend our ten minute lead time to get as far away as possible, we'd circle back around and spy on team Tony. It was incredibly easy. My brother was busy handing out assignments to the troops and sending them off in different directions, thinking he had the advantage of being able to cover more ground in less time than just the two of us could. It never occurred to him that we doubled back and were behind them.

   Both of our teams had walkie-talkies to communicate. I had the bright idea that my team would keep changing channels which was designed to keep my brother's team from locking in on our conversations. Tony, and his team, being a few years younger, didn't have our level of brain power and intelligence. We were able to lock in on their communication, easily allowing us to listen in on what they were planning. Since the hunted became the hunters, it helped us to formulate our plan of attack.

   One day, during one of these marathon game sessions, John and I decided to climb up into a tree and wait for the search party to wander by. We thought it would be funny to see how long we could stay in the tree without being noticed.

   We situated ourselves up high enough so that the leaves would give us some sort of cover. We stayed in the tree laughing and congratulating each other on our brilliance for a solid twenty minutes before Tony, Stevie, and their posse appeared in the yard that we had planted our rear ends above. And as luck would have it, they took a break from their pursuit and sat around the base of the tree drinking water and catching their breath.

   I thought I was gonna burst with laughter. What a rush! How did they not realize we were right above their heads? We could barely contain ourselves. They were talking strategies and trying to piece together where they thought we were hiding. Meanwhile, we're sitting about fifteen feet north of them. This went on for a while when John suddenly leaned over and told me he had to pee. Since I also needed to relieve myself, I figured we were going to have to give ourselves away, which meant losing the game. I positioned my body so that I could start my descent out of the tree, when I see John unbutton his pants and pull his junk out.

   I leaned over and whispered, "What are you doing?"

   "I told you, I have to pee!" He smiled and began to pee on his brother's head.

   Well, you would think that would be that. The game was sure to end since John was peeing on his brother! Incredibly, Stevie didn't look up. Instead he asked the other kids if they felt raindrops. Everyone on the ground stuck their hands out testing for rain. I thought I was gonna die from holding in the laughter threatening to explode from my gut!

   They all agreed that no one felt any raindrops. Stevie insisted that the top of his head was getting wet. Finally, my brother looked up and spotted us in the tree above their heads. Not able to keep it in any longer, I burst into loud, uncontrollable howling.

   Tony's team was screaming at us. Stevie was screaming the loudest. We shimmied down the tree and started running as fast as we could. The only ones that followed us were Tony and Stevie. We ran all the way back to John's house with them hot on our heals.

   Their mom was not happy. How mad was she? She grounded John for a month for peeing on Stevie. She told me and my brother to go home. She had called our mother before we got there, and I too, ended up grounded for a month. Pretty harsh considering I wasn't the one peeing on my brother! Guilty by association.

   That was the last time we ever played "The Game Around the Neighborhood". Probably for the best. We certainly didn't want to give our brothers the opportunity to revenge the pee incident, as it came to be known.

   My friend John now lives on the other side of the country from where I live, and although my brother lives on the same coast as I do, he is eight hundred miles to the north. The pee incident took place forty-five years ago, and it's still one of the first stories that we all reminisce about whenever we talk. It was funny to us as kids. Now, it's a story that helps us fondly remember Stevie. He passed away due to severe liver damage when he was just thirty years old. He was a troubled young man, but he was a good guy, and his death hit me pretty hard. Even though being peed on was probably not one of his fondest memories as an adult, it had become one of mine. And that story always leads to other interesting, fun, and certainly, fond memories I have of him. The pee incident story certainly helps put a smile on my face whenever I think back to those days. And as long ago as it was, as I sit here and write about it, it feels like it all just happened yesterday, rather than yesteryear.

Well, that's all I've got for this installment of my childhood memories. Now, if you'll excuse me... I need to go pee.๐Ÿ˜‰

More to come in a few weeks.
Thanks for reading... Full disclosure - I did change some of the names to protect the privacy of my friend. 

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