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Hey, Writers, Guess What? No More Excuses!

So, as most of you know, I’ve been pretty vocal on the whole self-pub/indie publishing wave that is occurring right now. See! There goes another twelve thousand digital books!

I have also made sure I’m not picking sides while the war between the “traditional” publishers and “indie” publishers wages on. It’s not my war and I have zero stake in it. Think of me as Switzerland, but without the Nazi gold.

That’s not to say I won’t take a stand where I think I need to. Now, I’m just as clueless as everyone else when it comes to where publishing is heading. What I’m not clueless about is where writing is heading if folks keep tossing their should-be-rejected-by-God-and-all-that-is-holy digital novels into the marketplace.  That’s a no-brainer.

Which brings me to my point: the no-brainers. The novels written and published without a thought. I’m not going to site specific examples, because I find that tacky. I don’t need to call people out to make my point. I have class. Well, I have the illusion of class, at least.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that if you’re going to publish your novel yourself then, as a writer, you have a duty to make sure it is professionally edited, has a professional looking cover and that you handle yourself in a professional manner. Writers, just like teachers, journalists, lawyers, doctors, architects, etc are professionals. If you want to be a writer, then you must want to be a professional also. No separation between the two exists.

Let me put it this way: would you continue to see a doctor that walks into his office with a lit Pall Mall dangling from her lips? Would you use a lawyer that has nothing but file folders stacked on his desk and not a computer in sight? Would you continue to read a journalist’s work that sites Perez Hilton as a reliable source? No, you wouldn’t. So why, as a writer, would you expect readers to tolerate your typos, your bad photoshopped cover and your author bio that was obviously written by your mother?

There’s no excuse for any of those things!

“But, Jake, I can’t afford to have all those things done professionally!”

That’s not an excuse, that’s a delay. Understand? Wait until you can afford those things. Or figure out how to beg, borrow or steal (don’t steal because that’s wrong) the services you need. There are ways to get what you need done at the price you can afford. You are not ready to be a professional if you aren’t ready to hire professional services.

“But, Jake, I see lot’s of writers publishing novels that have bad covers, tons of typos and their website looks like they developed it on 1997!”

Really? Monkey see, monkey do is your argument? There are some lemmings heading for the cliff over there. Get in line and leave me alone.

“But, Jake, if I don’t get my work out there now while ebook publishing is still new then I’ll be lost in the glut that’s about to happen?”

You do realize there have been MILLIONS of print books released before you were even born, right? Are you whining about getting lost in the glut of all of those? Please, ebooks are a format, that’s all. You were never going to be a single star in the sky before, don’t think you will now.

“But, Jake, I learn better by doing. I’ll fix the mistakes later.”

Uh-huh, right… That’s a good argument actually. After all, Doctors call their businesses “practices” because they must keep learning their entire careers. Of course, they have to go to eight years of college, years of residency, deal with state boards and licenses, keep up their CEUs for re-certification/licensure and literally have their patients lives in their hands. Once again, they are professionals. Teachers have to go through all of this too, as well as lawyers. Sure, you learn as you progress in your career, but you certainly don’t just hang out a shingle stating: “I am a Writer because I say so!” You put the time in to hone your craft to a point where someone says, “Hey, I liked that. You should publish this.” Trust me, your own word is not good enough.

“But, Jake, I’ll lose thousands of dollars if I don’t publish NOW!”

No, you won’t. That’s just stupid. There’s no gold rush, people. The vein isn’t going to disappear. There have been writers since the dawn of written language and there will be writers until society destroys itself in a massive microwaved Peep apocalypse! You aren’t going to miss the ebook train, so calm the hell down!

“But, Jake, some ebook authors have sold hundreds of thousands of books and they did it all themselves!”

Yep, you are right. That’s called The Lottery. Let me spell that L-O-T-T-E-R-Y. Not the Shirley Jackson short story masterpiece, although I’ll gladly stone your excuse-laden ass. No, this is where you have a 1 in 1 quadrillion chance of hitting those kind of numbers out of the gate. Could it happen? Sure, because it has and possibilities are infinite. Will it happen? Well, you tell me. Has your piece of crap, typo-ridden, crayon-drawn covered novel sold a hundred thousand copies yet? Didn’t think so. And neither have the majority of perfectly professional novels released, whether print or digital. Success in publishing is dictated by one thing: luck. Right story, right place, right time. Get used to it.

“But, Jake, what about-?”

Oh, shut up! No more excuses! There are no excuses to do something wrong!

Will you make mistakes? Yes, everyone does. I have books on my shelf  put out by small presses that are like pieces of art and I have books put out by billion dollar companies that have more typos than my eight year old’s book report! Shit happens, folks. But, just because shit happens doesn’t mean you should step in it if you can avoid it! That’s just crazy talk. Why purposely step in a steaming pile of shit? Who does that?

So to sum up: No excuses will be tolerated. You don’t have to be perfect, no one is, but you do have to be professional. Do it right the first time. Don’t fling your poo out there like the other monkey-sees.


You, The Reader!- Your view on ebooks.

So a while back I posted a questionnaire asking readers about their thoughts on ebooks. If you didn’t see the questionnaire then here it is!
1. Have you delved into ebooks? If so, what is your ereader of choice and why?
2. When choosing an ebook, what is the #1 deciding factor for purchase? The #2 factor? And #3?
3. Does DRM (Digital Rights Management) matter to you? Would you choose not to purchase an ebook if it has DRM?
4. Do you look at the “others purchased these books also” selection at the bottom of an ebook page? Does this usually lead to a purchase of a suggested selection?
5. What is the maximum price you would pay for an ebook? Does the stature of the author (King, Koontz, Meyers, Rowlings, etc.) influence what you would pay?
6. If a free ebook is offered by an author and you like it, would you then pay for their other work(s)?
7. How do you usually hear about new books? What starts your search?
8. Free-for-all essay part! Use this portion to sound off and say whatever you want. Any questions you wished were asked? Prefer a different font when answering questionnaires? Go for it, this is your place to vent/crow/cry/laugh/yell!

I was lucky enough to receive nearly forty responses from readers! Thanks everyone!
I shall now, in a very scientific way, breakdown the results question by question. Remember, this is science and there is no room for error or interpretation! What I reveal here is how EVERYONE thinks.
Just kidding. Please use these results and questions as a jumping off point and comment away!

1. Have you delved into ebooks? If so, what is your ereader of choice and why?
Everyone answered that, yes, they have delved into ebooks. The ereader of choice: Kindle or Kindle app on another platform. Those that have an actual Kindle LOVE them. I had several respondents make sure to point this out. Second favorite device for reading ebooks? The iPad using a Kindle app or Stanza. Some Nook readers, but only a couple. Only had one say Sony. I personally use my iPhone with the Kindle app.

2. When choosing an ebook, what is the #1 deciding factor for purchase? The #2 factor? And #3?
#1 reason folks buy an ebook is because of the author. They already know their work, so they are happy to keep purchasing that author’s work. #2 reason is whether it’s been recommended by a friend or if the synopsis/reviews/blurbs catch their attention. I put these two together because they were neck and neck and because they really are about the same thing: word of mouth. #3 was almost 100% about price, but subject matter came close. The next biggest reason? Cover! This wasn’t huge, but it was mentioned quite a bit. As was availability on platform (Kindle store, Nook store, iBookstore, etc.). Oh, and a good sampling. Authors: make sure your stuff is free of typos! This really ticks off those that use samples as a basis for purchasing your book!

3. Does DRM (Digital Rights Management) matter to you? Would you choose not to purchase an ebook if it has DRM?
Now, this was very interesting. I had three categories of responses: Doesn’t matter, really. What’s DRM? And, SWEET GOD IF IT HAS DRM THEN I WILL NUKE THIS WORLD!
The majority leaned towards it doesn’t matter a whole lot. I found that interesting. Then it was a near tie between those that had no idea what DRM is (Digital Rights Management means it can’t be shared across platforms, like Kindle to Nook), and those that said they wouldn’t even think about purchasing an ebook with DRM. My take? I make sure I don’t put DRM on any of my ebook releases. Why lose a sale? Am I worried about piracy? No, I give my stuff away for free through my podcast. Plus, pirates are cool!

4. Do you look at the “others purchased these books also” selection at the bottom of an ebook page? Does this usually lead to a purchase of a suggested selection?
This was interesting. Why? Because almost every single person responded that they look at the “others purchased these books also” selection, but that they rarely BUY a book because of this listing. Some do, but most don’t. Hmmmm…

5. What is the maximum price you would pay for an ebook? Does the stature of the author (King, Koontz, Meyers, Rowlings, etc.) influence what you would pay?
So, the range people would pay was from $4.99-$25 for ebooks. No one said $.99. No one. The real surprising part was how many people said they don’t care about price if it’s a book they really want.
As for author status? To sum up with my favorite response: “Status schmatus! I’d rather give an up-and-coming author money than King or any of those guys! I don’t need to fund their new summer house!”. Many respondents pay for what they can’t get. You can get plenty of King used for $2 or in the bargain rack at B&N for 70% off. Gotta love supply and demand!

6. If a free ebook is offered by an author and you like it, would you then pay for their other work(s)?
The answer to this was a resounding YES! IF they like what they read.
Authors: if you’re gonna give it away for free, make it good! Don’t put your crap out there. It’ll do more harm than good.

7. How do you usually hear about new books? What starts your search?
As I expected, people listed many, many different sources for finding new books to read. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, advertisements, friend recommendations, blogs, radio, podcasts, etc. You name it, it has some influence.

8. Free-for-all essay part!
Here are a couple excerpts from respondents. These summed up a lot of what others said.

“We are steaming towards an all virtual world where book shelves are only for show, as we have seen the demise of the CD rack and are seeing the move from DVD to digital download alternatives.
Personally I prefer the ability to carry all of my books with me in one handy device, whether they’re fiction, reference or… er… is there only two kinds of book?”

“Do whatever you can to make sure your ebooks are never priced anywhere near the print book. The big publishers charging $9.99 or whatever are absolutely insane.”

“I’ve read/heard some fantastic stuff and I enjoy the personal accessibility smaller authors give their fans. I feel better as a consumer supporting people who are thankful for it. Not to say that big published authors aren’t grateful, but you certainly don’t get personal thank yous from them, either.”

“I love electronics, that said; the e-book, cloud book, whatever… maybe the future, however, it can not compare to the texture or scent of holding an actual hard copy print of a book… that my friend is intoxicating.”

“I hate Snooki. Why she has a book out, I’ll never understand.”

Quick round-up:
Reading all of these was pretty cool. It was great to hear directly from readers (and some authors that made sure they answered as readers). The #1 thing that caught me by surprise was how many people are willing to pay top dollar for an ebook IF it’s what they want right now. I have to admit I’m one of those people.
When reading all of this it strikes me that the answers are really close to how I feel about buying and reading books in general, whether print or ebooks. What does this mean? Reading is reading is reading. And readers are readers are readers. Doesn’t matter if it’s a tattered paperback or a brand new shiny iPad, it’s about the story and how that story makes you feel.

What all this info tells me is that, as an author, I just need to keep writing and keep improving!

I’m glad I did this and glad everyone responded.

Thank you!

The DEAD MECH Kindle Rush round-up!

Howdy, folks!
I’m sure some of you will be disappointed to hear that there’s no Friday Night Drabble Party tonight. Sorry. My brain is fried after this week and I needed to put all creative energies into re-writes on my YA novel so my wonderful agent can get to shopping it!

So, instead of The Party, I’m going to give you a round-up of the results of my DEAD MECH Kindle chart rush on March 1st. This may bore those that aren’t into industry info. If you are bored by this then click HERE.

For the rest of you, here is just a quick recap and some of my thoughts on the process.

First, let me say THANK YOU to all the friends, colleagues and family that helped spread the word! I am eternally grateful, and if you know me at all, you know I’m loyal to a fault and I’ll make sure I pay you back in kind someday! You guys rock!

So, the highest point I hit in the US Amazon charts was:

US Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,260 Paid in Kindle Store, #44 in Kindle StoreKindle eBooksFictionHorror, #46 in BooksLiterature & FictionGenre FictionHorror

That #46 in Horror means ALL books that day, print and ebook. That’s pretty cool. I ended up ahead of a few Stephen King books for the day, which is nice!

The highest point for the UK Amazon charts was:

UK Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #855 Paid in Kindle Store, #6 in BooksScience FictionMilitary, #21 in BooksHorror, #43 in Kindle StoreKindle eBooksScience Fiction

That’s pretty freakin’ cool! Top 10 in Military SciFi! Top 25 in Horror! Once again, that’s for all books! Gotta love it.

I know some of you are wondering what those numbers mean in terms of sales. Well, in the US I sold 63 copies of DEAD MECH and 10 copies in the UK. Those aren’t huge numbers in the Kindle sales world, but for a one day rush total they’re pretty good. Got me up the charts, right?

The best part of getting up the charts is it gives my books visibility. I also ended up selling 7 copies of Bethany And The Zombie Jesus, my short story collection. I have since sold at least one DEAD Mech and one Bethany each day. That’s pretty nice.

What else does climbing the charts do? It shows foreign publishers that my work can sell, especially with hard numbers for the UK. This helps my agent shop these titles, and other titles.

You see what’s going on here? It’s about way more than just selling some books, it’s about building the proverbial platform. And, yes, I think by now there’s a proverb out there about the writer’s platform. It probably involves a monkey flinging poo.

Other than all that, there really isn’t more to say. It’s a pretty straight forward process selling ebooks. There’s a ton of promotion, there’s making sure the content is ready and then there’s the all day pimping and updates. The trick is making sure the content you do provide is professional quality: cover, editing, presentation, etc.

Will I do  a chart rush again? Hell yes! It was a lot of fun and, as I’ve said on Twitter, watching the charts is more fun than playing poker! I highly advise you try it if you have a novel to sell in the Kindle store.

Okay, that’s enough of my ramblin’ today. I’ll make sure to post two drabbles next week to make up for the missing one this week. Only fair, right?

Hope some of this info helped. If not at least I provided a link to the Sheen Family Circus! That’s worth something! If you have any questions about the whole experience, please let me know. I’m more than glad to talk about me! 😉

Cheers Y’all!

Oh, and if you didn’t get your copy of DEAD MECH, or Bethany And The Zombie Jesus, yet then click the BUY THE FICTION page at the top and get to it!

The Shadow Publications Interview!

Yes, you read that right, Paul E. Cooley of Shadow Publications, author of the Fiends Collection, has interviewed me.

Now, if you have never heard a podcast where Mr. Cooley and me are on together then you should be warned. Yes, you should be. What’s the warning? JEEZ! You want me to do everything for you? Golly!

In all seriousness, you should be warned.

Okay, I’ll stop. WARNED! Now I’ll stop.

Great interview, great time and great guy. Check out Mr. Cooley’s info at

The show can be found here HERE!


Guest Blogapalooza!

Howdy Y’all!

I totally forgot to post these links yesterday! My Bad!

I have a couple more guest blog posts I have done for other sites and you should go read them. READ THEM NOW!

(sorry I yelled)

The first is for Mr. James Melzer here: CLICK THIS! CLICK IT NOW!

The second, but just as important, is for Buy Zombie here: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? CLICK THE LINK!

Check them out! Read them, learn from them, LOVE THEM!



Thanks y’all.


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