Tuesday, August 30, 2011

September is here, what do you have planned?

My e-book a day give away is starting and if you haven't signed up, click here to find out how.  There are 30 chances to win and you can sign up any time while the contest is going.

September looks to be a busy month for me.  This coming weekend the county fair starts and is estimated to have 80,000 people attend at some point.  They wanted $400 plus a cut if you sold anything, so I will not be signing books there, but I plan to walk it with my custom shirt I had made at DefCon this year and hand out business cards to anyone who asks me about my book.  On Saturday the 17th, I will be having my second book signing event.  I will be at the Fantastic Flea Market in Hagerman Idaho.  Daily traffic is around 300 people or so, but this weekend is a little different.  There is an Arts and Crafts fair and a Car Show in Hagerman at the same time.  This will draw an extra 6,000 people to Hagerman and I am told about 25% of those people will end up at the Market.  So here is to having a good day!

I am falling behind on my writing goals, so this week and next week I am cutting back on everything to get caught up.  Yesterday I wrote 1,811 words.  Not as many as I wanted to get, but it's more than I have written in a long time.  Last week was just awful.  I didn't get to town until Monday because the water system at my parents place broke over the weekend and there were 40 homes without water.  Tuesday was blogging/marketing day so no writing was done.  Wednesday was spent at the collage helping with the student club SocialGeeks.  Thursday my partner in the insurance business just would not shut up for a second so I finally just left to head back to Hagerman and see if everything worked out with the water situation.  Many beers were drank...

So, goal for this week and next is to just buckle down and put as many words down as I can.  Yesterday I told my insurance partner to leave me alone and I don't plan on going to the river either.  Two weeks of blocking out everything and just write.

I also received my first check from Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon for June sales of Requiem.  It wasn't much but it's almost like getting a dividend check from stocks.  I'm going to be getting these for as long as I am alive.  Investing in yourself feels great.

Last but not least, I took a few pictures of Blue Heart this weekend for Snyder Winery.  The ones they used in a mailer they sent us were inaccurate.  The spring water comes up from the bottom of the lagoon and the sand looks like it boils as the water pushes through.

For now, its back to writing.  Have a great week everyone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The marketing machine moves forward.

As August ends and we start to move into the final stretch of 2011 the pre-holiday marketing continues.  Kids are going back to school, Labor Day and county fairs are in full swing and life gets busy after the long summer days.

Promoting and marketing your work never ends.  It's a full time job if you let it be.  I posted on my blog earlier about the September e-book a day giveaway.  It can be found here if you haven't had a chance to see it yet, and let anyone you know who might be interested as well to sign up.  The giveaway also marks a shift in social networking for me.  I am going to move everything book related off of my own Facebook page to a dedicated page for SBJones Publishing.  Look for that announcement soon when it goes live.

I have set myself an aggressive goal for Guardian.  December 14 is my tentative release date for the second book of The Eternal Gateway trilogy and I am on track to finish well before that.

September also brings my second book signing.  I have been asked several times to have a book signing at the Fantastic Flea Market in Hagerman Idaho.  The venue is nice and every time I have been to the market, it is full of people.  September 17th is the day I decided on setting up a signing table.  The reason I chose this date is because Hagerman is also hosting a Car Show and an Arts and Crafts show at the same time.  The flea market brings in about 300 people every Saturday, but with these two other shows going on, there will be an estimated 6,000 people attending.  From the information I have been told, I should expect about a third of those people to also at some point browse the Flea Market.  How many of those people will pick up a copy of Requiem?  It doesn't matter, it's about getting out there and letting people know.  Of course I will be happy for every copy sold.

So this brings me to a question for the blog readers.  What would you write inside your book to a customer?  I have a couple like "Enjoy the read" and "The Gateway adventure starts here"

September e-book a day giveaway contest.

Starting September 1st I will be giving away one free digital copy of Requiem every day of the month of September.  Also every winner of the book a day contest will automatically be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of Guardian when it launches and there will be one grand prize winner who will receive a signed paperback copy of both Requiem and Guardian.

This contest is limited to residents of the United States.
This contest is limited to Amazon Kindle and Kindle device owners.
Don't own a Kindle? You can still enter with Kindle for PC, iPhone, iPad etc.
The Email registered to your Kindle device is important, this is where the Requiem e-book will be gifted to.
Incomplete entries will be ignored.

To enter, do the following.  Send an email to sbjonespublishing@gmail.com with the following information.

Put "Requiem Giveaway" as the subject line.
In the body of your email have the following information.
1. Name
2. Email address registered to your Kindle device.
3. Yes or No if you care to have your name announced on this blog, Twitter, Facebook etc if you win.

The Mage Council has been disbanded. The ruling class for a thousand years is dissolved after the War of Antiquities and technology gives rise to a new era.

Kail Kelly, a young man who has spent his life on his aunt and uncle's farm, finds himself in the middle of a desperate power grab by the last ruler of the Mage Council and a time traveling mage known as The Guardian who is trying to prevent the world from falling to darkness.

Angela Atagi, the mysterious woman born a thousand years in the past who also has the unique ability to fly, is given a second chance by The Guardian if she plays her part in the prophecy.

With the help of an unlikely group thrown together by The Guardian, including the captain of a prototype airship, they set about unlocking hidden powers on a journey that takes them across the world and to the edge of time.

Brain Melting Awesomeness:
Once I started reading this book I was unable to stop. A very well written story that combines steam punk fantasy and good old fashion butt kicking action. From start to finish this book is a nonstop thrill ride of epic proportions. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good time.

Can't put this one down until it's done:
This book is worth every penny just for the cover art. 
** Disclaimer ** 
Beware, once you start reading this book, you won't be able to do anything else until it is finished!

Fantasy Lovers Must Read!
This book was a great read, loved the characters and action. Highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One listed goal at a time. Advertising study coming soon

There are a million places that talk about the importance of goal setting.  I am sure everyone reading this has had at some point either read or been told this.  I am the type of person who likes to set goals and make lists.  I love lists, it keeps you on track, focused, and lets you arrange things in order of importance or efficiency.

Speaking of lists, my father ever sense I completed my first book Requiem has been trying to give me money.  While flattered, I don't need it.  Sure I budget and the project of writing a trilogy has been more expensive than I originally thought, it has brought in enough these last two months that I'm not broke.  So on weekends he would complain about how expensive it was to maintain the property in Hagerman.  Mostly the complaint was about time, but there are a lot of trees that have died, things break and need to be replaced.  I made a deal with my father,  I would come down one day a week (Friday) work and you can pay me, and that money will go to my book/writing/advertising budget.  This way he can give me money for the book and get something in return.

I told him to make a list of what he wanted done.  His response was that it was obvious what needed done.  While this may have been true to a point, I told him that it needed to be listed out.  The first three weekends were busy, there were a TON of trees that needed to be cleaned up, but once that was finished, the list got shorter and shorter.  This last weekend my mother and I were sitting on the patio drinking beer when he got home and he asked what got done.  I pulled out the list and there were a good twenty items on it.  Problem was none of them were his items.  I had helped my mom all day.  Sorry dad, but it wasn't on the list.

The money that I earned these last six weeks fixing up the place, I have ear marked for advertising.  Half of it is going to promote Requiem and the rest is being set aside for Guardian when it is finished.  Currently Requiem has had a Facebook ad campaign running since August first.  Once it is finished, I plan to write up a report about it.  Its not one of these "I had a $50 voucher Facebook/AdWords sucks" rants.  Its going to be detailed with full disclosure on the results.

Last week I wrote about DefCon 19, but there was another piece of news I wanted to share but it didn't quite fit for that post.  After six weeks, I finally got my first review for Requiem on Amazon.  I have four of them on the Barnes and Noble site but none of those are like this one.

Brain Melting Awesomeness, August 3, 2011
Once I started reading this book I was unable to stop. A very well written story that combines steam punk fantasy and good old fashion butt kicking action. From start to finish this book is a nonstop thrill ride of epic proportions. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good time.

I did make the rounds on a few message boards when I saw the review.  What I did not expect was that after letting people know about it, I had an instant jump in sales.  People were aware of my book, but had not purchased a copy until the review hit.  Sense then I have received a second five star review and a lot of congratulations as well.  I can now cross off the list where it says "receive good reviews".  Also I was able to cross off the list "Sell 50 copies".  Next up: "Sell 100 copies"

How is your list of goals coming along?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The value of attending a conference and other musings.

I got home last night after a long drive from Las Vegas.  The DefCon 19 hacker security conference as always is a three day party.  This was my sixth year attending and every year its gotten bigger and bigger.  So what does this all have to do with writing and being an author?  Simple, go to where your audience is.

The people in this picture not only are into computers at some level, but they also want to stand in the 100+ degree Vegas heat to watch other nerds take hot beer that's been sitting out there, and watch them run it through some home made contraption to try and cool it down to a drinkable temperature.  These people are into everything besides computers.  I have never seen so many guys in kilts, and steampunk getup outside Maker Faire.

I have read several articles about the value in attending conferences.  Joe Konrath says there is no value in them.  Sure you have the opportunity to meet other writers, agents etc.  But for the non superstar author, in the end its going to cost you lot of money.  I think whats missing from the Konrath rant is that from a non superstar authors point of view, attending a writer/agent/publisher conference or awards show is that your CUSTOMER is missing.  Now if we come back to DefCon you would think that Microsoft or Adobe would want to set up a booth.  Well... no they would get tarred and feathered.  But the vendors that sell lock picking sets and smart ass tee shirts sell out quick.

I did not go to DefCon this year with the intention of selling books.  I did not have a vendor booth or do a book signing.  I took a small handful of books with me just in case the luck factor hit.  Every time I met someone and when they asked what I do for a living, I told them that I was a steampunk science fiction writer.  First, everyone knew what steampunk was, second everyone was thrilled to talk about something other than the latest exploit or vulnerability of Google.  It didn't take me long to realize that there was an unusually high concentration of my customer here.  It would have been nothing to sit at a vendor table and sell books all day long.  So in conclusion, if the conference has your customer, then its worth going to.

There is a lot of thinking time on the road to and from Vegas.  I can see the monetary value of attending the correct conference.  DefCon 20 is less than a year away.  If the trilogy is complete and enough time to secure a vendor table can be had.  That could be a very break out moment.  And Comi-Con, Maker Faire, San Japan, all could be excellent events to attend.  So while it would be neat or even an honor to attend something like the Milford SF Writers Conference, it would simply cost me money.  Everyone there is my competition or someone wanting to make money from my work, not my customer.  So my closing question to you is this.  Think about your work and where can you see being an absolute ideal place to have a lemonade stand set up to sell your book at?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book signing results, becoming a salesman and DefCon 19.

First I would like to thank Rachna's Scriptorium for giving me The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award.  This was a nice surprise and set the tone for my whole book signing weekend.  Thank you again Rachna.

The book signing went very well.  The local paper did a nice write up in their community events page that came out Friday.  But the bigger surprise was the Sunday paper.  It wasn't big, but my book signing was printed on the front page of the paper!  How cool is that!  First my blog wins an award and two days later I'm front page news.

Once the signing started, I was a little nervous.  It's been almost two years since I last did any public speaking of any sorts.  It didn't take very long before the nerves settled and I had a lot of fun.  The part that stood out the most was a couple of ladies came in and one of them gave me a fresh cut rose.

In all I sold and signed 12 books.  For three hours on Saturday and three on Sunday it lands as a success in my book.  There have been several questions people have asked me over the last few days so I will repeat them here.

What kind of marketing did you or the cafe do?
It was setup about 2 weeks in advance, I sent a press release to the local news paper, I tweeted, set up an event on Facebook and plugged it about 4 times.  I told a lot of people in person, and I posted it on the events for our towns craigslist.

Would you be able to give us an idea of the overhead costs, revenue, and profits?
Right now I am still in the red overall for out of pocket expenses to what has come in.  However the book sold for $15 and it costs me $6.30 or so to have it made,  So each one made me about $8.  I made money doing this event, but not when you factor in all of the costs to produce a book.  This is my first book and it has only been on sale since June 20 and I only had paperbacks now for a couple of weeks.

Any weird/awkward/memorable moments?
The fresh cut rose bit stood out.

Any idea if you'll be doing more in the future?
I am working on getting one at the local Barnes and Nobles.  My sister works there but they have changed a lot of things lately.  The big thing is they won't order in POD/Non returnable books anymore w/o headquarter approval.  But what they will do is let you bring in your own books, run them through the register and they end up with a negative inventory.  The store then orders that many copies and gives them back to you and you get paid through your print distributor.

This upcoming weekend I will be attending DefCon19 in Las Vegas.  This will be my 6th year attending the conference.  They moved it from the Riviera to the Rio so it will be a new experience.  One of the ideas that I have is to get a custom tee shirt made that advertises my book.  I am going to take half a dozen copies with me and see if any of them sell.  Also I have some small cards made up that have the necessary information if they want to pick it up from Amazon or B&N.

Looking back, the book signing was everything I expected and hoped it would be.  If I could do anything different, it would have been to practice with friends or family.  Write out a script so when people ask, "What is the book about," or "How did you get it published," and other general questions, I would have had an easy answer for them instead of stopping and having to think of something on the spot.  Also if I had ten or more one liners to use other than "Thank You" or "Enjoy The Read" to write to people.  After the 4th book or so, I didn't know what to write down anymore.

I would like to hear about anyone else's experiences with book signings or if you haven't done one yet any experience that stands out with your book.