Tag Archives: What the Dog Saw

Actually, Go Ahead, Pirate My Books

So yesterday Chuck Wendig wrote this thing about digital piracy of books. The upshot of this thing was that he’d really rather you didn’t do it, because hey, he worked hard on those books and they are not unreasonably priced and he deserves to be paid for his work BUT he’s not going to get all angry at people who do pirate because- Actually, it was kind of a long post. Maybe you should just go and read it.

As a corollary to this Wendig has declared today to be “International ‘Please Don’t Pirate My Book’ Day”. Now I’ve got nothing whatsoever against Mr. Wendig, and for the most part I agreed with his post, but much like the those who choose to celebrate “Singles Awareness Day” instead of Valentine’s I’ve decided to make up my own opposing holiday. I’m calling it “Go Ahead and Pirate my Book if You Feel Like It” Day.

Why would I decide to encourage people to read my work without paying for it? I’m so glad you asked.

1. You Want to Pirate my Book? That Means You’ve Actually Heard of Me!

They tell you not to write for exposure. Don’t put so much of your work up for free that you can’t sustain your writing. But you’ve got to think that if practically nobody has heard of you a little more exposure couldn’t be such a terrible thing right?

If you’re looking to “steal” my book that means you’ve taken at least a passing interest in me as an author. How could I complain about that?

2. Money is Tight These Days

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pinching every penny I can. I’m not living in squalor or anything, but there’s not a lot of extra. I reckon there’s a good number of you out there in the same situation.

It bears mentioning that my books are pretty reasonably priced. Nothing I’ve got out there on the digital marketplace costs more than three bucks. So if you’d like to pay for my work it bears mentioning that this isn’t “Don’t You Dare Pay for my Book and Support me as an Author” day.

3. I’ve Totally Been There

I’ve pirated digital content. I’ve pirated books. Books I liked. Books I wished I had the money to pay for. I buy new when I can, but I’m constantly looking for the deal, the remaindered bins, the yard sale, the book shelves at the Thrift Store. And sometimes I pirate. It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, but it’s there.

4. Piracy isn’t Stealing

This is something that Chuck Wendig said in his original post, but it bears repeating here. When it comes to digital content there isn’t a finite number of possible copies. If you pirate my work, that doesn’t mean you’ve taken that work away from anyone else.

That’s not to say that there’s no moral grey area, but calling piracy stealing is like playing QWOP on your back porch and telling people you’ve been out running.

5. You Can Pay Me Back Later

Piracy today does not necessarily lead to piracy tomorrow. If you like what I’ve written maybe you’ll pay for my next book. Maybe you’ll tell a friend. Maybe you’ll leave a nice review on Amazon. Maybe you’ll just tell me that you like it. There is value in all these things

 

So go ahead, matees. Shiver my timbers and pirate my books. Can’t find a torrent site that’s heard of me? I’ve included some links below to get you started.

The Mulch Pile

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

Shards of Darkness

The Birth Day Giveaway

In the past it was customary to give out cigars to celebrate the birth of a child. However since times have moved on, and since I don’t smoke cigars and don’t know many people who do, I decided to do something else instead.

So for the next few days, my stories A Prairie Home Apocalypse: or What the Dog Saw and The Mulch Pile are available for free from Amazon.

What’s that? Why yes, this does somewhat lessen the incentive to enter and win the flash fiction contest I’ve got going on. I’m just peachy with that. And let me anticipate your next question and firmly deny that this is anything like a veiled attempt to use my newborn son’s cuteness to get you to check out my books.

Just look at the little fella. Look at those cute little duckies on that….cute little sleeping bag with arms? I’m not sure what’s going on with that.

Anyway, what manner of person would dare use the power of such cuteness to suggest you might read his stories and write a nice review (assuming you like them) or maybe click that little “Like” button on the top of the books’ Amazon page? Not this guy. And furthermore I would never stoop to adding that the more books I can sell the less likely it that this innocent little baby will die of malnutrition.  No my friends, I have higher principles than that.

So snap up this offer while you still can. If you need a format other than Kindle, feel free to shoot me an email.

Here’s to you Baby AJ. May you live long and live well. And just between you and me kiddo, I’ve got about as much idea of what I’m doing as you do right about now. We’ll figure it out together, okay?

Of Battling Bloggers and the Zen of “Duh”

I don’t usually like to respond directly to other blogs, but I thought today merited some exception to that rule. See, on Wednesday Kristen Lamb tried once again to whack us in the noggin with the idea that as writers trying to grow an  online audience, blogging about writing is not a good idea.

This is not new. Kristen has been talking about this at least since I started reading after her at the beginning of the year.

Then Austin Wulf, another blogger I like and respect, answered back with a post arguing against Kristen Lamb’s main points. I recommended you read both blogs for yourself if for no other reason than the fact that they represent two very well argued and opposing viewpoints.

But here’s the deal: I’ve been thinking a lot about this blogging thing lately. More importantly I’ve been thinking about audience numbers and how to expand them. Of course I’ve always wanted more readers, but for a long time it was something almost academic, simply a way to fuel my pride about my blogging ability.

But about a month ago something changed. I released an ebook called A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw. Many of you who are loyal readers of this blog bought the book, and I thank you. But about two weeks after releasing the book my numbers basically hit a brick wall. I’d sell one every couple of days, but the numbers just weren’t there. I’d tapped out my audience, and now I was swinging in the wind. And I don’t know about you, but the prospect of making money really makes me perk up and pay attention.

So I started thinking about what I could do about it, and what I came up with was this: maybe I shouldn’t be blogging exclusively about writing.

Because I believe it does limit my readership to a certain extent. Looking back over posts of the past, some of the most popular by SEO numbers have absolutely nothing to do with writing. And now that I’m further along in my blogging career SEO is a big part of bringing in traffic.

Now there are clearly writers that can pull off writing about writing and garner an audience by the boatload, but as far as I can tell all of those writers are named Chuck Wendig. I am not named Chuck Wendig, nor do I have even an iota of the man’s skill in crafting pithy punchy posts.

Which is why you may have noticed in the past few weeks, that I haven’t been writing as much about writing. Instead I’ve been dabbling in other topics that interest me to see what kind of reaction I can get from the audience at large. This is not to say that I’ll never blog about writing again, but after all this time, I’m finally starting to think maybe Kristen was right all along. And even though it did take me a while to realize it, I’m not ashamed.

Sometimes you have to understand something for yourself. You hear it over and over, and one day it finally clicks and you’ll say, “You know that thing everyone tried to tell me I should do for all those years. Maybe I should give that a shot.”

And the people who tried to tell you for all those years are smacking their heads with their palms and saying, “Yes, what a brilliant idea. Maybe you should try that.”

And that’s okay. Because sometimes you just have to learn it on your own.

Addendum: don’t worry. The economics post was a bomb, so you won’t have to worry about seeing Money Mondays anytime soon.

Addendum 2: I have a new/old short story out for the Kindle. It’s a terrifying little tale that mixes science fiction and horror into a delightfully spine-tingling concoction that I call Derelict. Maybe you should check it out.

Zombiefied NPR

Those of you who have read my book, A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw may have noticed something strange about the title. You may have noticed that the book itself does not take place on an actual prairie. This is not a mistake. The first part of the title is actually an offhanded allusion to the NPR radio show, A Prairie Home Companion.

But after I was done writing the book, I thought about it for a while, and I wondered if there might be other NPR radio shows whose names might be zombiefied as well. The following short list is what I came up with:

1. Zombie Talk

2. Wait, Wait, Don’t Eat Me!

3. This American Death

4. Mourning Edition

5. Selected Shots

6. Dead-things Considered

7. The Diane Rehm Show (rimshot! [semi-obscure NPR joke that maybe no one but me will get but I’m still not explaining it])

That’s all I can think of. If you’ve got more leave them in the comments. I’m off into the navy blue and khaki yonder super early today, so I could use a little chuckle. If you cannot think of any jokes then you could always buy my book. That would make me happy too.

On Self-Publishing

Last week I put my book A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw out for Kindle on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Since it has been an entire week since my book’s debut and since a number of people who are not my mom bought the book, this means that basically I’m an expert now.

Okay, so maybe that’s stretching things a bit, but you’d be surprised how your perspective on things can change in a week. With that in mind, I’m going to give you the top (whatever number I get to before I run out of material) things I have learned from and about being self-published.

1. People Are Awesome

You think you’ve gotten a sense of this through blogging and tweeting and such, but trust me when I say that nothing you’ve experiences will match the outpouring of support from people who desperately want to help you sell your book. They may not actually buy it, but they’ll jump off a cliff for the chance to retweet your announcements.

This is part of what I love about the writing community. Everyone wants to see everyone succeed. There’s no jealously, no sense of snobbery. If one of our friends puts out a book that we like even a little bit we’re gonna promote the crap out of that thing baby.

So even though I’ve said this before, I’m saying it again. Thank you. To all of you.

2. Being Self-Published is Hard Work

I should clarify here. The actual state of being self published does not require any effort on your part at all. You’re surely welcome to toss your book out into the cold dark digital world and hope that it maybe can get somewhere on it’s own merits. But if you want to have anything like a realistic chance of success you’ve got to promote that puppy.

Over the past seven days I’ve been on a number of different social media platforms, some of which you’ve probably never heard of getting the word out to all my online acquaintances and asking them to help me spread the word. I did my first blog interview. And then there’s all the questions to answer: the “is it out for the Nook yet?” people, and the “I don’t have a Kindle will you send me a PDF?” people. (And for the record, yes I totally will, just shoot me your email, and we’ll make that happen.)

I hope this doesn’t sound like whining, because it’s really been a blast, but all this promotion does take extra time out of your day.

3. Interviews are Awesome

I did my first interview ever with Cynthia Stewart, which should be going up on her website sometime later today, and let me tell you something, that was fun. Maybe it’s just my oversize ego talking here, but I really got into answering her questions and talking about the things that have shaped me as a writer. I really hope I get to do more of these in the future.

4. Self-Publishing is Not a Get Rich Quick Scheme

When I was growing up one of the things my dad told me over and over was this: “There are no honest get rich quick schemes.” And self-publishing has proved to be no exception to that maxim.

In spite of the fact that I’ve had some modest sales, the bottom line is that it isn’t easy to get people to click that “Buy This Book” button. I know this because I’ve been on the other end of that transaction with my wallet in hand thinking, “Do I really want to spend my three dollars on this?” And a lot of times even though I may like the premise and the author’s writing style the answer is still no.

Overall, taking into account the money I spent on the cover, I’m still in the red with this thing. I hope to change that in the coming week or so, but the bottom line is that I’m not gonna be quitting my job tommorow or the day after that.

So yeah, that’s the rundown. Sorry to end on a down note there, but I hope that something I’ve said has been useful to those of you who hope to tread this path someday soon.

Also, if you haven’t bought my book yet, you totally should.

Peace out ya’ll.

Acknowledgements

Some of you may know that I recently released a book.

For those of you who don’t, just so you know: I recently released a book.

My book has most of the normal book things in it. It has a title page, and a copyright page and a Dedication to My Totally Wonderful Wife page. Also there’s a story in there as well.

But one thing I did not include in my book was an Acknowledgements page.

Why? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found those Acknowledgement sections to be dry and boring litanies of people I don’t know doing things I don’t care about. When I see “Acknowledgements” I read “Skip This Section.” (The exception to this rule is Chuck Wendig’s Acknowledgements page for Irregular Creatures which was an absolute screaming hoot.)

But now that I’ve gone through the process of getting something ready to toss out into the cold and crowded world of ebooks I know why all those other authors wanted to include those lists of people who I didn’t know. The dirty secret is this: writing is a social process.

We think we can do it alone, but we can’t. We need support and advice and all kinds of prodding and poking to make our stories the best they can be.

So without further ado, I’m going to give you my Acknowledgements. These are people who helped to make this book what it is.

Ashley Berg

Is thanking your spouse a cliche? Well, yes, but for very good reason. In my dedication I said she would have loved me just as much if I had never written a word. And that’s the truth. Sometimes you need someone at your back screaming at you to go farther and do better. But sometimes you need someone by your side to tell you that it’s all gonna be okay. Every day I tell her how my writing went and no matter whether it was great or terrible she’s always there to encourage me. Every writer should be as lucky.

Ellie Anne Soderstrom

I’ve mentioned Ellie’s contribution here before, but it bears repeating. Ellie did a fantastic job of cleaning up the snaggling loose ends of my prose and making it all flow like it should. She also served as the projects head cheerleader. Knowing how much she liked the story really helped boost my self confidence about my writing and motivated me to make this release as good as possible.

Piper Bayard

If Ellie was the head cheerleader, Piper was the head coach. She was the one screaming at me in the locker room to get out there and clean up my act. Well, that may be a bit harsh. But she did give me a great critique that helped me clean up the ending of my story. She pitched in and helped to take it to the next level. She’s an awesome lady and a great writer.

Hoover

Because it’s really his story when you get right down to it. For those of you who don’t know, Hoover is my dog. I never had a dog before I had Hoover. My family has had dogs and my wife had a dog when I married her, but Hoover is the first dog that I really felt I could call my own. His pure joy and enthusiasm inspired much of the character of the dog in the book, and it was him getting tangled up out in the hot Florida sun for hours when we were gone that first inspired me to write this story. He’s fine now by the way, chasing a squeaky toy as I’m writing this a generally being his awesome doggy self.

I could probably go on. In one way or another many many people in my life have helped to shape me into the writer I am today. But these are the major players for this particular work. These are the ones who made this book what it is today. If you read it and like it, they’re probably the reason why. If you hate it…well there’s obviously something wrong with you. I mean it’s a story about a dog who fights zombies. How can you not like that?

So again, thanks to all who helped to make this story what it is. And thanks to you dear reader. Without you this would all be in vain.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

So apparently…good things come to those who wait. And wait.

And.

Wait.

Good things also come to those who hit the refresh button over and over and freak out until they make themselves sick. I’ll let you guess which one I am.

Yes, that’s right A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw just went live on Amazon.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

It’s possible that you may be wondering: “Is this book really for me?” If you are I have compiled a helpful reference for your edification. The following is a list of the types of people who may find my book interesting.

1. People who like dogs

Come on folks, give it up for man’s best friend. Not only are they kind and loyal, but they don’t look down on you like those uppity cat things.

Seriously. How can you say no to that?

2. People who like zombies

You know the ones. The walking dead, those lovable reanimated rotting corpses that just want to have a little nibble of your brains. They waltzed their way into the popular imagination with George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, and we haven’t looked back since (except of course to make sure none of them were following us home).

3. People who don’t like dogs

Because um…maybe things might not go very well for our lovable fury protagonist?

4. People who like me

Maybe you can’t stand zombies. Maybe just thinking about dogs makes you itch. Maybe you don’t want to read a groundbreaking work of literary fiction that reimagines the zombie horror genre in a different light. Maybe you just want to an awesome dude how much you like him. Or you can just show me, and I’ll make sure some sufficiently awesome dude hears about it later.

If you fall into any of these categories then I’d suggest that you check out my book. At this very moment it is available for Kindle only, but I’m working diligently to get it up on Smashwords for those of you who happen to have something other than a Kindle (I’m one of these people so I feel your pain).

Also, if you happen to like the book, please help me spread the word. Tell a friend, tweet about it, “Like” it on Facebook. If you do the blog thing, then I’d love to do an interview. Community is the only advertising strategy I can afford. But I’m betting it’s the best there is.

And again, to all of you who have already been so supportive of me and my project…thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.