Out of the Blue, a New Cover Strikes

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I’m pleased to announce a new cover for Murderous Decisions. I’m not sure why I changed covers. My book only came out in July. But at a recent sale I found a graphic I liked so well, I simply had to buy it. And once bought, I could not resist using it in a cover.

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The Market’s Shifting

I’m old enough at this Indie Author game to remember when a free book pushed sales nearly through the roof. Perma-free, the big boys called it. That’s the free ebook in a series that sells the rest of the line. Golden days those were. Or so I’ve heard.

I didn’t manage to write quickly enough to capitalize on that particular marketing trick.

Or take another old saw (remember with ebooks, nothing is really all that old) that nothing sells the old book quite as well as a new book. In other words, the trick to selling well is to produce, produce, produce.

But the times, they are a changin’. Today, the even some of the best performing ebooks writers are noting that sales are becoming more of a challenge with each passing day. They claim it’s difficult to become noticed these days. And from what I’ve seen, I suspect they are correct.

Anyway, the mantra now is shifting from a strategy of getting your next book out there to advertising your current works under something I call pay to play. This means you buy advertising on popular ebook recommendation sites to push your work. Bookbub is praised widely. And other sites for book promotion are also mentioned in reverential tones. Once you pay. They include your book on their list, and sales result. Or so both writers and the site owners say.

I do not doubt them. Advertising is a widely respected, promotional game. But ebook margins make pricey ads a wee bit off-putting in some instances.

Then. there’s the other side of today’s complex market. Those reports say the book-selling market is fragmenting. They predict the entry of such awe-inducing names as Wal-mart and Costco into the future mix.

If those predictions are correct, this hungry, hairy, crazy market for ebooks is about to become hungrier and hairier and even crazier.

I believe it. I’ve seen changes occur in this business that I could never have imagined on my own.

I started off this journey three or four years ago, when I learned I could write a book and publish it as an ebook for free. When I learned that I sat back in my chair and said, “I’m going to do that.” (I’d always wanted to write and publish a novel, after all.)

And I did. And it was fun. And the book sold. But today’s books sell a little less well because so many people, I believe, are sitting back in their chairs and saying, “I’m going to do that.”

In sort, the ebook world is a crazy world. But I’m glad I’m in it. And I’m glad I’ve had what success I’ve had. After all, I didn’t even put a price tag on my first book for nearly two years. Why? Because, said I, who’s going to buy a self-published ebook by a no-name writer? But they did and it was good, and I had fun, and thank you all so much.

May the future, whatever direction it unfolds, be half as much fun as the past couple of years has been. And to those of you who’ve bought my books, thank you very much, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have.

WIP Update

In my first attempt at writing a mystery series, I produced very little new content today. Instead, I spent most of my day editing. Editing has become rather interesting now what I’ve invested in a spiffy editing program. It’s amazing the kinds of things I’m learning from using it. I have a tendency to repeat words. This program is marvelous at pointing those errors out to me. Now, if it would only write the revisions for me, life would be a snap. LOL.

I’m at some twenty thousand words in this opus. I’d hoped to put this book out as a novella at around forty thousand words, but it looks as though the thing will extend well beyond that word total. Word count is always a mystery to me. The mantra for success today is to write quickly and publish often. They say doing so will to keep your name before the readers and increase your chances for a sale. To that end, I think a novella looks like a dandy choice. However, other people say longer books sell better than shorter ones. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough books out to test either theory yet.

Which brings me to my last point, my writing commitment. I thought it was fine. I thought I was doing a decent job of plowing forward in this writing attempt of mine, but I’ve begun to suspect I’m a I don’t produce enough words per day. In short, when it comes to book production in this digital age, I’m appear to be a piker.

J. A. Konrath recently posted his statistics for the sales of his titles on his blog. The info was an eye opener for me. Besides the fact he earned some  $1.5 million over the span of three to four years, it was his book count that blew my mind. I only totaled up titles for two years. But one year, he listed ten new titles. The next year, he recorded nine.

So, order to self: Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard. And pick up my pace!

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News, Views and Clues on the Global Ebook Scene – It’s Bigger Than You Think!

I don’t know how many of you consider the foreign book market, but this post should encourage you to have a look. It’s amazing that I can sit here in a very small Illinois town and have books selling in such a wide variety of locations. I hope you enjoy this article.

Mark Williams - The International Indie Author

Welcome to the Ebook Bargains UKofficial Blog.

We send out a semi-regular newsletter to our advertising authors and publishers with news, views and clues about what’s happening in the world beyond the US ebook market, and the feedback has been great. But until lnow there’s been no opportunity for readers to share their views and news with others. Hence this blog, which is aimed anot just at EBUK advertisers but at anyone interested in the international English-language ebook scene.

This blog launch post is a little (okay, a lot!) longer than the norm, but we think you’ll find it well worth reading through.  Please feel free to have your say, ask questions, point out any errors, etc, in the comments section below.

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Latest Work Progressing

I’m pleased to say my effort to launch a series seems to be working out. My first full book in the Angela and Mickey Mystery Series is progressing nicely.

Of course, the opening scene has been tweaked a time or two since it was originally posted here. Most of my works  are. I’m rarely content with my original effort. I’m almost never sure they’re the best they can possibly be. Plus, I believe my readers deserve no less.

I’m enjoying writing the adventures of these two madcaps. They are, to me, delightful characters. I hope they will eventually please you, dear reader, as well.

This is a new experience for me. I’ve written before of the joy of falling in love with one’s leading ladies. But in this case, a guy is worming his way into the mix as well. He’s fun. She’s fun. I’m having a blast.

More later,

Anna Drake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Excerpt, I

Happy weekend. I’ve decided to post little tidbits on the weekends. Excerpts from my works in progress or even from some of my published works. Hopefully, they’ll give you a glimpse into my style of storytelling and provide you with a feel if were a match as to readers and writers. Today’s offering comes from a work-in-progress. It’s the opening scene from what I hope is a new series for me. So far the book isn’t even titled, yet.

I hope you’ll enjoy.

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I was on my way to visit a client that night when I heard the crash. The sound came rattling down the hall. The noise set my teeth on edge and propelled the jailer onto the balls of his feet.

Ed Bracken, glanced around the hallway, wild-eyed. He looked like he was about to take off in a sprint. His interest obviously focused on the jail and his duties.

My thoughts remained firmly fixed on mine. I was here to visit a client, Gary Gravers. He was charged with assault. I’d represented him in court before. And now it appeared I would be doing so again.

The cops had told me Gravers had gotten himself into a bar fight and had threatened his opponent with a broken beer bottle. The state was unlikely to take kindly to such an act. I refuse to tell you the rest of his story. For one thing there’s the confidentiality part of our relationship. Plus, he, and others like him, help me pay my rent. A fact I don’t take lightly.

I’m Mickey Carter, a spot on criminal defense attorney here in Beaver County, a nondescript bit of land located near Illinois’ western border, somewhere close to where the state bulges out into Iowa and Missouri.

So it wasn’t until I returned from Gravers’ jail cell that I learned the story behind the incredible crash.

“Have I got a customer for you,” Bracken said with a chuckle when I reached his post. “This woman, she drove her car straight into the front of the jail. Can you imagine?”

“Not a bright move,” I said with a shake of my head.

“Yeah,” Bracken said. “Not to mention she probably totaled her car.”

“Anyone hurt?”

“The ambulance hauled one woman away.”

“The driver?”

“Nah. Passenger.”

“I suppose the driver was drunk, then?” Drunk drivers always seem to come out of collisions unscathed.

“Not according to the breathalyzer test.”

“Heart attack? Drug overdose?” Something had to explain the bizarre behavior.

“None of the above. She’s down in the holding cell. You should go take a look.”

What can I say? I’d had a slow month, and a client was a client. Drunk, drugged, or insane. Since the woman had driven her car into the front of the county jail, it seemed likely one of those three choices had to have triggered her incredible act.

So my first glimpse of Angela Clark came as she was sitting in the holding cell of the county jail. She was huddled up in the far corner. Arms wrapped about herself. Glazed eyes focused on the far wall. Face tear-stained and grim.

“I understand you’ve gotten yourself into a little trouble?”

Her gaze shifted. She stared at me without speaking. It was as though she’d heard my words but had failed to grasp their meaning.

“You rammed your car into the building?” I said, making a rounding motion with my right hand. My attempt to engage her mind.

“Oh, that,” she replied, dismissively. “Yes. I was the one..”

“You totaled your car?”

She shrugged. “The front of it. Probably. Do you know anything about Gayle Maiter?” Her eyes registered the first hint of concern I’d seen from the woman. “Is she going to be okay?”

“Sorry. I don’t know. I’m an attorney. I’m here to see if you want legal help.”

“Are the police going to charge me?”

“I would think so. You drove a car into the front of their building. Police tend to take a dim view of people who do engage in such behavior.”

“So I need a lawyer?”

“Yes. I’d say so. Do you know one? If you do, you should give him or her a ring.”

“No,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Well, I know one, but he does wills and such. I’m not sure he’d want me to call him under these circumstances. Or at this time of night, either.”

“Well, I just happen to be on hand,” I offered, “and I specialize in criminal law.”

“My lucky day, then?”

I shook my head. “I wouldn’t go there, no.”

She took a minute to look around the place, as though she were evaluating her options. Then she pulled her gaze back to mine. “I guess as long as you’re here, you’ll do.”

I’d had better offers, but given the circumstances, I decided to cut her some slack. “You’re hiring me to represent you. Right?”

“Yes.”

Then I wondered what kind of a deal I’d made. I spent a moment assessing this new client of mine. Allowing for the circumstances, she didn’t look too far out of whack. In fact, at that moment, she looked rather fetching. Probably middle twenties. Large brown eyes. Tear-stained cheeks. Disheveled blonde hair. Rather like a stray and helpless puppy in need of a good home.

I sighed. Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for puppies?

“Look,” I said, “maybe we should start by you telling me what happened?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Ed,” I yelled.

The jail keeper popped his head into the doorway at the far end of the hall.

“We need a room. Someplace we can be alone.”

“Sure thing. Follow me.”

“The lady, Ed. She needs to come, too.”

“Oh, right.” He waddled down the hall and unlocked the cell door. The woman rose from the cot and took a few tentative steps toward me.

“It’s okay,” I said, encouraging her.

She nodded, straightened, and stepped through the doorway. Together we followed Ed to a small interview room.

“You got twenty minutes,” he said, swinging the door wide.

I thanked him and waved the woman inside.

The place was your traditional, small, county-jail space. Cinder block walls, a table, a couple of chairs, a stained poster on the far wall advertising sobriety. Dusty, and grimy, but serviceable.

“So,” I said, as she sat, “what is this long story of yours?”

I took the seat opposite her.

She lifted her chin.

Defensive right off, I thought. Never a good sign in a client.

“My name,” she said, “is Angela Clark. Maybe you know of me? I’ve been in the news recently.”

“The wife of Jeffery Clark?” I asked. “The guy who was stabbed to death in the park?”

“Bingo.”

“So how did you go from being a grieving widow to becoming a crazy lady who drives her car headfirst into a building? And not just any building, either, but the county jail, no less?”

“Truthfully?”

“Yes, when you’re speaking with me. As far as other people go, we’ll chew that one over later.”

She pulled a shuddering breath. “I was trying to save my life.”

“Okay,” I said sitting back in my chair. A nutter, I thought. No doubt about it. “What made you believe your life was in danger?”

“I didn’t imagine the threat,” she said, leaning toward me. “Gayle Maiter told me she was going to kill me. She had a knife in her hand.”

“While she was in the car with you?”

Angela nodded. “I’m probably in a lot of trouble, huh?”

“Minimum, I’d guess you’re looking at a felony charge of criminal damage to property.”

“Is the charge serious?” She studied her hands in her lap.

“It can be, yes.”

“That’s not fair,” she said with a flash of hot anger. “I was only trying to defend myself.”

I opened my brief case and pulled out a legal pad. Slipping a pen from the pocket of my suit coat, I said, “How about you tell me this long story of yours?”

She gave me an undecipherable look, then did as instructed, with me transcribing her statement as fast as I could.

Pleased with Smashwords’ Series Management Tool

Had to take a quick moment to post a thought on the new Smashwords’ series tool. Its arrival could not have come at a better time for me.

I was considering starting a mystery series with a bit of a different focus than my current novels, which are basically stand alone books, but all targeted to a certain type of read. That is, Murderous Relations and Murderous Decisions both deal with what happens to  different types of women when murder intrudes in their lives. I plan to write more ‘murderous’ (I know, what was I thinking!) novels. Again, they will focus on individual women as they deal with the thrills and chills murder has brought into their lives.

The new series will differ in that the books will have two recurring characters, Angela Clark and Mickey Carter, who ferret out the trouble and run the criminals to ground. From my early work on book two, I’m hopeful this may prove a good run. The books will be novella length and the first book is basically just a very short story called, A Long Way Home. It may be accessed here.

But while I was stoked on the concept of running the two sets of books. I was unsure how to delineate them from each other. I considered publishing them under different pen names. But I thought that would be clunky and time-consuming and besides, I wasn’t sure I wanted to divide my audience.

Then, along came the new series management tool at Smashwords, and my dilemma was solved. They will now be clearly marked as two different series both under my present name. Thank you, Smashwords. I am so pleased.

Sometimes, all  life requires in this book business is being in the right place at the right time — and a creative partner with bright, new ideas.  😉