An opportunity for readers

I want to share with you a newsletter from an emerging great fiction writer, Trace Conger, in which he announces a Countdown sale of the Kindle version of his latest novel Scar Tissue. (He also gives my upcoming Kindle Countdown deal for Where Memories Meet a plug.) Tomorrow, for one day only, you can buy Scar Tissue for $0.99, a savings of $4.00, at Amazon. It’s a great opportunity for readers to try Trace’s work.

I met Trace when he joined the writing group I have been participating in for about five years now. I’ve enjoyed reading and providing feedback on Trace’s works-in-progress. He is a talented, entertaining, and highly productive writer. I believe he has what it takes to be a successful fiction writer.

“Conger is known for his tight writing style, dark themes and subtle humor.” (Amazon)

I’ve read everything he’s published so far, and will continue to do so. I’m hooked on Finn as a character. Here is my review of Scar Tissue from the Amazon page:

Trace Conger has done it again, and for that matter, so has his lead character, Finn Harding. Finn is an unlicensed private investigator who gets embroiled with large ruthless criminal organizations. Finn’s bravado, quick wit, command of the internet and research, and generally ingenious and devious mind, as he works to solve the case while saving his own skin, make for a fast-paced and riveting read.

One of the things that sets Conger’s Crime Fiction apart is his integration of the humanity of Finn. We see Finn’s fierce devotion and protectiveness to a precious daughter and his estranged wife, who is not only hot but has the right mix of vulnerability and sass. And perhaps even more entertaining, we get to witness the escapades of Finn’s father Albert and his old codger vigilante friends up at Meddybemps Lake in Maine who provide us with a second, equally fascinating, story line.

With the addition of Finn’s long-lost brother Conner, who plays a significant role in Scar Tissue, we are offered a deeper look into Finn’s engaging character through his family ties. And as we watch the interactions of the Harding brothers, we realize these two apples did not fall far from the tree.

I loved it. I can’t wait for the next. Highly recommended.


An Update on Mr. Finn #3

Hello friends. I’ve received a lot of emails asking about the next Mr. Finn novel. I’m hard at work on THE PRISON GUARD’S SON (Mr. Finn #3) and hope to have it available this fall.

I’m really excited about this book and it’s been a blast to write. As I’ve written the series, I’ve always tried to “up the difficulty” when it comes to Finn finding his man. The first book focused on an anonymous hacker and the second on a nomad criminal banker.

The third book finds Finn trying to track down two individuals in the witness protection program. I think it’ll prove to be his toughest case yet.

I can’t share too much about the plot, but if you want a glimpse into what Finn is up against, I’d suggest checking out a recent piece I wrote for Hardboiled Wonderland, a crime fiction blog. You can find that here.

SCAR TISSUE Available for $0.99
The ebook version of SCAR TISSUE (Mr. Finn #2) will be on sale at Amazon for $0.99 on January 25, 2016. (That’s also my brother’s birthday, so happy birthday, Dave!) 

The ebook price will steadily increase that week until it’s back at its normal sales price. So, mark your calendars if you want the book and want to save some cash.

A Touching Tribute
A good friend of mine recently published a fantastic memoir, WHERE MEMORIES MEET. It’s the author’s story of losing her father to Alzheimer’s as well as her father’s account of the defining moments of his life.

It’s more than a story about Alzheimer’s though. It’s also a touching tribute to a man who meant so much to her. Sure, it can be dark at times, but so can life.

WHERE MEMORIES MEET will also be on sale for $0.99 from February 1 to February 4. Of course, if you want to snag it at full price, you can do that too. Check it out here.

Thanks all.

Trace Conger

“People don’t run out of dreams. People just run out of time.” — Glenn Frey

You can contact Trace and sign up for his newsletter at his website,



Marketing self-published books

Marketing continues to befuddle me as I try to promote Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s. If my book doesn’t cross a reader’s radar, they won’t know it exists, let alone buy and read it.

Most times when I wade out onto the web with all the marketing and promotion advice for self-pubs, I just get discouraged and walk away. There is a lot of book promotion noise out there on the web. But I’m trying to keep in mind a quote I came across recently:

“The universe is infinite; there is space enough in it for everyone to succeed, including me.”

Although I want to make my books available in many formats for anyone who wants to read them, Amazon is making it tough. Several years back they instituted a program called  KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select. This program provides opportunities for authors to offer price promotions, and include your book in the lending library. For example, many authors promote their book for free during an introductory period. This successfully gets their book into readers’ hands, some percentage (and I don’t know how many) of whom will actually read the book and and even leave a review on Amazon. Because of the way Amazon promotes its products, including your book, having a lot of reviews and better yet, sales, gives you more free promotion. Your book will show up during searches. You’ve seen it, “Customers who bought this book (or product) also bought these products. . .” And magically your book gets on a reader’s radar.

To be on KDP Select, you have to sell your book exclusively on Amazon. I have not yet chosen to do that with Dancing in Heaven. But last month I enrolled Where Memories Meet in KDP Select. That means I can, and have, scheduled a countdown promotion where I set the book’s price at a discount for a period of time (a couple of days). Then Amazon notifies customers of the price break and how much longer it will be in effect.

My countdown promotion is scheduled to begin February 1. My normally $2.99 priced ebook will be offered at $.99 until February 4, and then it will be $1.99 for three more days until it returns to $2.99.

I think this is a good sales tactic, but it needs to be promoted. I’ve been researching websites that promote ebooks for a fee. They include but are not limited to Book Bub, Just Kindle Books, Ereader News, and Goodkindles to mention a few. For varying prices, these sites will blast your book out to their fans and followers, and perhaps list on their website for a day or longer. To promote my memoir at a price of $.99 via Book Bub  it costs $720. They are only able to accept 20% of the books submitted to be featured. My book was not accepted.

It’s a bit of a relief because $720 is pretty steep for my marketing budget. Instead I have paid a minimal fee to have my book (with the countdown deal) promoted on Just Kindle Books, and Goodkindles. I am still waiting to hear from Ereader News. I have no idea if promoting my book on these sites will produce any measurable benefit.

Another option I have is to buy advertising on Amazon. You have to bid for the advertising slot by entering a price per click. You set the total amount you are willing to spend. Amazon does not guarantee customers who click your ad will buy your book, but it will get on their radar.

I suspect your head is spinning by now. Mine is. So I’ll sign off from the marketing trenches.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

Here are a few links to my struggles with and thoughts about marketing during my first self-publishing experience:
Now marketing
Promoting in the world wide jungle
How much time should I spend promoting my book?




How much time should I spend promoting my book?

Clock at small rest stop just outside of Sante Fe - 2006

How much time should I spend promoting my book?

It depends on who you ask. Some indie advocates big in the ebook market will tell you to spend very little time promoting your book. Write more books. More titles equals more exposure resulting in more sold books.

Arobbinsiii at You Say Too provides a comprehensive list of promotional activities with associated amount of time recommendations that can be roughly summarized as follows:

1. Post at forums like Kindle Boards and Amazon Authors. Arobbinsiii lists five boards that he recommends you spend 10 to 15 minutes a day per board or 60 minutes total.

2. Search for, visit, and/or query review and interview websites and blogs, spending 25 minutes a day.

3. Post and comment on social sites, like Facebook and Twitter. He lists seven sites, for a total of 60 minutes a day.

4. Pursue links back to your book/site/blog in directories (seven listed), search engines (three listed), blogs, social sites, forums, and on any promotion or publicity you receive for 60 minutes  day.

5. Write a 400 – 500 word blog, devoting 25 minute a day.

6. Blog and post comments for 60 minutes a day.

This all adds up to 4 hours and 50 minutes a day.

I copied this post because I think Arobbinsiii has some good ideas that I might want to pursue, but there is no way I will ever be able (or willing) to devote nearly five hours a day on this activity.

Fortunately, in the Indie Author Guide, that has become my bible on all things indie, April L. Hamilton writes, “If you can spare just one hour a day, seven hours a week, you’ll be fine. If you can scrape together ten to fifteen hours a week, you’ll do great. And if you have twenty or more hours to devote to marketing, even if you have little money or confidence, you can be very successful.”

I still need to determine for myself exactly how much time in a day I can, or am willing to, budget for promotional activities.  I don’t have any idea how much time I am spending right now in this inefficient method I currently employ of randomly searching the web and occasionally commenting or sending out an email.

New Media Promotion

The next question becomes, what activities should I be spending my time on?  April L. Hamilton lists a healthy menu of  both “traditional tactics” as well as “new media tactics.” Her new media ideas focus on an author website, author blog, tagging with keywords on, tagging with keywords on the internet, podcasting, YouTube, book trailers, social media for authors, online communities, and  working Amazon. These are all computer online activities similar to what Arobbinsiii recommends. What I really like about the Indie Author Guide is that Hamilton provides detailed information to help even the most newbie, or computer illiterate, self-publisher to be able to complete the task at hand.

Traditional Tactics

In addition to the new media tactics, Hamilton provides some excellent ideas for good old-fashioned promotion like a press kit, a one-sheet, press releases, editorial reviews, articles, appearances, live readings, book signings, handouts, merchandise, word of mouth, and paid advertising. Here again, detailed instructions are included.

How do I score so far?

I am doing fairly well with the Indie Author Guide’s new media recommendations. I have a website and a blog. I’ve tagged my book with keywords everywhere I can. Yesterday I went to the Google Adwords keyword tool, checked the keywords I’m using to see if anyone searches for them, and made a few changes to my Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords sites. (For example: “hospice care” has medium competition with 135,000 global searches a month, while “hospice” has low competition and 823,000 global searches a month. Very few people search for “childhood memories.” ) I’m probably not going to be doing a lot of podcasting, YouTube videos, or book trailers with my memoir, but I have followed most of Hamilton’s recommendations for social media for authors, and have joined several important online communities.

For now, I’m still focusing on getting reviews.

I don’t score nearly as well if I compare myself to Arobbinsiii’s recommendations.

I could also do a lot more with the traditional tactics like one-sheet mailings and press releases. I hope to develop these with time.

I plan to break these ideas down into manageable pieces and let you know what and how I am doing. Stay posted.

Promoting in the world wide jungle

Tuesday, November 15th.

I thought it was just me, but today I started to put together a list of all the self-publication/marketing resources I’ve printed out, bookmarked on my browser, or are presently in my email inbox that I sent to myself or received from a friend.


It’s no wonder I’m stalling out on putting together a promotion plan. Where do I begin? I’m drowning in the helpful advice I’ve collected. You cannot imagine how many blogs are out there telling people what to do to be a successful author. And I’ve saved all of them in one form or another to read when I get the time.

I can’t continue on this path of destruction. This grab-n-go approach is not working for me.

When all else fails, make lists.

Here’s my plan. I’m going to make organized lists of the following:

Author pages or all sites where I have profile information. They include but may not be limited to: My blog, Facebook, Website, Author page on Createspace, Smashwords, Amazon, and B&N (I think. Will have to check), Goodreads, Kindle Boards, LinkedIn, and I will have to see if I can remember where else. The information should be consistent across these sites and right now I couldn’t tell you. Oh, don’t forget about Twitter. (These lists should be complete with user names and passwords. I’m going to type it up and leave a copy on my computer desktop. If somebody hacks my accounts, good riddance.)

Communities I’m signed up in. That would include She Writes, Goodreads boards, Writer’s Digest, I know I’ve signed up for some Indie communities. Will have to track those down.

Blogs with helpful information on promotion. This may take some time.

Reviewers. Probably should focus on this one.

Lists. I think I’ll start with a list of all the lists I need. I’m sure there are more things I need to organize.

Why do I feel like I just spent a lot of time counting the pages I have left to read in my history text book, instead of reading the book?

I think when I’m done figuring all of this out, I will be well on my way to my next non-fiction book: “Finding Readers when you’re over Fifty,” or “Going it alone for Grandmas: a guide to self-publishing for those too old to keep up.”

Thursday, November 17th.

Good news. I finally started to get myself organized after the information feeding frenzy. I’m all over it. Yesterday I bought a little three-section spiral notebook that I’m going to keep as a book promotion journal. The first section I’m listing by date all my promotional activities.  (I had started jotting things down on sticky notes here and there. After I bought the journal, I collected them all there.) So for example, my entries for November 15th:

-Stephanie at Goodreads requested a book for review. I packaged it to mail.

-Sent excerpts to Hospice of Dayton per their request for their website

-Attended free Webinar from Writer’s Digest on the seven secrets to success of self-publishing

-Filled out a contact form at

The second section of my new journal I am devoting to the publicity my book receives. So far I have five entries:

10-24 Blogger dogear review

11-5  Cynthia Robertson review

11-7 Listed on Goodreads giveaways (Five books to be given away after Dec. 7th. So far 201 people have requested it.)

11-8 William Lambers interview

11-15 Lisa Kramer review

I haven’t decided what I will use the third section of my promotion journal for. Yesterday I also created a file of promotion ideas where I placed all the information I’ve printed out. I still need to go through my e-mail and bookmarks and decide the fate of all the information I’ve saved there. I will either print it out, organize it into files, or delete it.

In some ways using the internet is like riding a wild bronco. If you don’t take the reigns and take control, you won’t be able to keep up and you will find yourself on a wild ride and eventually airborne, only to land face down in the dusty soil. Maybe I should switch to the old gray mare.