Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Dispatches from a Tourist Trap now available for pre-order

At long last, I'm pleased to announce the second book in the Jason Van Otterloo Trilogy is available for pre-order on Amazon. It's called Dispatches from a Tourist Trap and will release in Kindle format officially next Tuesday.

What's it all about? Glad you asked. Here's the blurb:

Thanks to his parents' separation, Jason Van Otterloo is starting his sophomore year of high school three hours away from all his friends--including his new girlfriend, Sian. Tiny Icicle Flats is a quaint Bavarian-themed mountain village that has been trapped in time since long before his mother grew up there. That she was willing to return is all down to her new boyfriend--who also happens to be her new boss. And judging by all the makeup found in his bathroom cabinet, Jason's dad isn't wasting time waiting for her to return.

Jason begins a blog to share details of his new life with his old friends, but some news isn't meant for wide distribution. Fortunately, his sage-but-sarcastic best friend, Drew, is always just an email away. Would it be so wrong, Jason wonders, to ask a local girl named Leah to the Homecoming dance? "Just as a one-time date, nothing more, obviously." "Why are you asking me and not Sian?" Drew replies. "Wait, I think I know the answer." If only Jason would ever take his friend's advice, he might spend less time climbing out of the holes he digs for himself.

Pressed into afternoon and weekend duty at his grandpa's hardware store, Jason still finds time to join an after-school book club that specializes in controversial classics. When Leah's brother reports the book club to the school board, Jason and his fellow readers are forced underground--until they emerge again to enter a protest float in the Icicle Flats Christmas parade. The ensuing brouhaha makes for the most exciting holiday season Jason can remember. And for once, it's not his parents' arguing that takes center stage. With the new year comes a new scheme: If the local busybody brigade was upset by a few old books, pirate radio will surely blow their minds. Who ever said life in a small novelty town would be dull?

Told entirely through Jason's email exchanges and blog posts, Dispatches from a Tourist Trap picks up where The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo left off. Come and spend a little time in Icicle Flats--just don't forget to pack your lederhosen.
Well, there it is. Order your copy today for just $2.99. Or read it free if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. And tell all your friends. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Take my book--please! (a.k.a., the review conundrum)

There's a distinct Catch-22 when it comes to promoting a new book. You need reviews in order to run most promotions, but you can't get reviews if you haven't promoted the book. This leads many desperate authors to harangue their family and friends into reviewing their latest release, and some unscrupulous ones into buying reviews, a practice that Amazon has banned, though it's practically impossible to stamp out.

For those who want to play it straight, the options are limited. It would be great to have a big enough mailing list to shoot an email to your followers and simply offer review copies to anyone willing to write an honest review. At the pace I'm building mine, I might get there by 2050. (This is the part where I include a link so you can join my mailing list. Please.) Failing that, you're left to try some of the sites that offer ARCs (Advance Review Copes) to willing readers. The largest of these is probably NetGalley, though there's another called Hidden Gems that may rival or exceed it.

I only recently learned of Hidden Gems, and while I'd love to try giving away review copies there, they're booked through December, so I'd need a time machine in order to set something up. NetGalley is easier to get into, at least if you use the side entrance. For an independent author like myself, the way in is through a co-op, which buys up ARC slots in bulk and resells them to individual authors. This actually puts indie authors on even footing with big publishing houses, because reviewers who use NetGalley will see your book listed among the big press titles. I had good success with NetGalley when I released Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed back in 2015. It was reviewed by a number of book bloggers, who had at least enough of a following that their reviews reached people I couldn't myself.

Unfortunately, I had less success with The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo when I tried NetGalley last October. I got two reviews on Amazon and a couple more on Goodreads. And that was it. Boo.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Print is undead, long live print!

When I first saw the notices last summer that Amazon's CreateSpace publishing arm for print books was going away and I needed to migrate my titles to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Print, I did what I often do when bombarded with unwelcome information: I ignored it.

The notifications kept coming, however. Every time I logged into CreateSpace to check my nonexistent sales, I was hammered with more messages. Move your books now! Eventually, I did click one of the links and made a half-hearted attempt to migrate one of the three titles I had published through CreateSpace. But the options I saw on the screen didn't match what Amazon said I should be seeing and I literally couldn't submit the changes. So I gave up.

After procrastinating a little longer, I tried again, ran into the same roadblock, and ignored the entire thing again, as if it might somehow go away. No surprise, it didn't. Finally, I contacted the KDP Help with my question, was told how to get past the obstacle I had encountered, and ... well, it wasn't so hard in the end. By Halloween I had moved all three of my books.

I'll chalk up my reluctance to bother with the entire migration ordeal to my pathetic print sales. Over the first 10 months of 2018, I had shifted a grand total of six print copies of my three books. Combined. That came after a whopping eight units were moved in 2017. To say print sales were a sore subject would be an understatement. While my Kindle sales were nothing to brag about, the futility of print was downright laughable. So why bother, right?