Saturday, December 1, 2012

Price - Not Such a Factor in Sales

It's been an interesting discovery. Perhaps it was the lack of pushing the product or maybe it just doesn't matter, but when I dropped the eBook pricing for The Adventures of Reztap to $2.99 I didn't sell a single one. Whereas, in my inital push to get the book out there, I had priced it at $4.99. I sold several at that price, but perhaps that was because of the newness of the book. I really can't say.

I do believe that my marketing leaves much to be desired. It would not appear the price of the book means one wit to whether or not someone will actually purchase it. History suggests if someone has been reached, noticed the book, was interested in that subject and willing to pay a fair price for it then there is a sale. I don't know how else to quantify the results.

I will leave the eBook at $2.99 through the holiday shopping period. After that I will raise it once again to $4.99. It will be interesting to see what the results of this post will be before and after the price is raised.

For your ease of purchasing frenzy which I'm certain will occur after this post, I'm putting the links to both the hard copy and eBook of The Adventures of Reztap below:

Amazon (Kindle eBook & paperback)
Barnes and Noble (Nook eBook & paperback)
Apple (iTunes)

Happy purchasing! Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/WinterSolstice/etc.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Facebook, other progress

Over the weekend, I embarked on another marketing experiment. I created a page for The Adventures of Reztap ( I set a start and end date for the campaign as well as a daily budget. Essentially four days for a budget of $40.

The ad would display on the targeted audiences pagem in the right hand side of the screen like other ads. My targeted audeince for this campaign was those who liked Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Firefly and The Stainless Steel Rat. These were all comparisons one reviewer ,ade for the book, so I thought that would be a great target audience.

I failed to put a link to buy the book on the Facebook page until a day after I started the advertisements. Obviously, I need to make a checklist for future campaigns with different books. I also failed to monitor the campaign to make sure it ended on the date it was supposed to. Guess what? Sure enough, I log in two days after it is supposed to have ended and see that my budget is continuing to climb because the campaign is still going. Frustrating to be sure. I thought I'd been very meticulous on when the campaign was to end, bu the status was still active and looked like it would remain so for a full month, not just four days. luckily, I was able to "pause" the campaign. I'm only in for another $12 and some change, but that was more than I wanted to spend on the experiment.

The page now has 40 likes. I also implored my friends on Facebook for their participation, and probably half of these likes are from them. Any increased sales from the marketing campaign? Not a single sale. In fact, sales appear to have dropped off considerably to a trickle of zero. All in all, the book was well written, has been enjoyed by nearly everone who has picked it up, but without a strong marketing push, no one will hear about it and pick it up.

Lesson learned from this endeavor? The self-published novel and requires a hefty amount of self-marketing. Creating the book isn't the problem. Getting people to hear about it is the problem.

undeterred, I have continued writing on the sequel. I'm somewhere near the end of the second chapter, having completed the synopsis. Part of my time has been spent figuring out who does what on the ship now that the crew has expanded from two humanoids and one android to a crew of around one hundred. There are plenty of surprises still in store for our heroes - I can hardly wait to see what they are.

Marketing hat still on,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tracking the Oiled Ferret (Sales)

With all this discussion about pricing and effects on sales, a sobering thought entered my befuddled brain. These are barely real-time statistics I am referencing for my conclusions.

Amazon and Smashwords are relatively on-time with their notifications of sales and how much that will put in my account. I recently received a nice little sum of money from both of them for sales in May and June. That was the end of the second quarter.

The next payments, no matter how many I sell, won't com until the end of October. I can still track sales for those two sites, but the long-term result is still a quarterly payment.

The real challenge will be tracking the sales for the Premium Distribution channel. All those web sites report sales roughly quarterly. My fancy little price change for testing won't yield any measurable results for those channels until October. That's a very long waiting game.

Advice to the other self-publishers out there - just be ready for a long game - this is not a quick one-handed poker challenge, it's a long yacht voyage around the world.

We'll table the discussion of where the book ranks in sales for another day.

The Paradigm Shift - eBook Pricing

I've seen many articles relating to how to price eBooks. I've had feedback on how The Adventures of Reztap eBook is priced ($4.99) where the paperback is $12.95. That is about a 62% discount - which seems to be in line with other pricing I've seen.

On the high side, there has been some discussion about $9.99 being the average price for a fiction eBook. I would venture that is also an average couple of more pages than my mdoest entry at 180 pages. Still, I don't think there are an average 360 pages to all those fiction eBooks, so the pricing still seems more than fair from that standpoint.

However, I have also seen articles and stories about pricing the eBook at $2.99. This is the minimum pricing at which the author can still get a 70% royalty on Amazon, so I think that is whre this bottom line pricing figure has emerged from. If you go below $2.99, your royalty drops to 35%. On Amazon, you can't price below $0.99. You can get free eBooks onto Amazon by offering them free elsewhere (like Smashwords) and Amazon finds out and "price matches" your eBook. But that's not a tried and true method; it's just what I've heard. If you enter the KDP Select program, that is a zero cost for your eBook for Prime members, while the author gets a piece of a $600,000 pie - really only about $2 per book checkout by the Prime member.

In the interest of testing, I'm going to drop my eBook to $2.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. This first book is all about discovering what works and what doesn't. It may take a while for the price change to filter out to the other platforms that get the digital eBook from Samashwords (Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, etc.) I will let you, my intrepid companions on this ePublishing adventure, know what the outcome of the price change is. Be warned, the price changes set may not take effect for a few days - I've already taken steps to change the prices - for instance, now the eBook is unavailable on Amazon until they review the eBook again, a process which could take up to 48 hours.

Other strategies include giving the first book in a series away free to drive sales of other books in the series. Unfortunately, the other books in my series have yet to be written/published, so it doesn't so much apply to me at this time. In a year, that will be a different story and a different blog post.

Happy Pricing!

You can download The Adventures of Reztap from Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes (look in iBooks on iPhone or iPad), Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Diesel.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

iTunes - Finally!

It is with great fanfare that I announce The Adventures of Reztap is finally available on iTunes! It was a long wait (longer than I aniticpated), but I'm happy it's finally there.

For those wondering exactly how long the wait was, here is the timeline of events for you to reference for your own eBook publishing adventures:

5/12/2012 - eBook first published to Smashwords. Immediately enrolled in Premium channel, but takes a while for approval.
5/30/2012 - Premium status approved. At this point, it is up to the distributors to pick up the electronic data to publish the eBook on their sites.
5/31/2012 - Kobo picks up the data from Smashwords.
6/2/2012 - Opted out of Amazon (Kindle & CreateSpace) since I would be publishing directly there.
6/5/2012 - Diesel picks up the data from Smashwords.
6/19/2012 - Baker & Taylor picks up the data from Smashwords.
6/21/2012 - Sony picks up the data from Smashwords.
7/13/2012 - Barnes and Noble picks up the data from Smashwords.
7/21/2012 - Apple picks up the data from Smashwords.

Every disributor listed here has a schedule for picking up data within a week of its availability on Smashwords - obviously the schedule is a very loose guideline to which they don't adhere very closely. The nice thing is it gives an approximation of when (AFTER picking up the data) you can expect to see the eBook available on the web site and they've been pretty accurate. While it took forever for iTunes to pick up the data for the eBook, it was finally available today (7/26/2012) less than the two weeks it said it might take.

So when distributing through Smashwords, you can anticipate (but not guarantee) that your work will be available with two months of enlisting in the Premium Distribution Channels.

I don't know how other aggregators work, but I look forward to hearing tales of your adventures here soon.

Happy iTuning,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Two Teaser - Sort of...

I began writing the sequel to The Adventures of Reztap. The new book will be titled Reztap and the Quest for the Insane Moth. If you've read the first book, the title makes sense. If you haven't, well it sure is a curiosity isn't it?

Onto the teaser as promised! I completed the outline for Reztap and the Quest for the Insane Moth a couple weeks ago. The outline has been marinating and cooking in my brain while I've been engaged in other pursuits that have nothing to do with writing. On a business trip this week, I finally delved into the world of Tar and Gorth again and completed chapter one and am just starting the writing of chapter two. What I have completed (via the outline) are the chapter headings for the book - some of these were quite interesting in the first book, and I tried to keep them that way for the second. So, you're only real preview of the book before I finish writing it and go through the edit process is presented below.

Chapter 1 – How’d that get there?
Chapter 2 – Moth Bawls
Chapter 3 – Why Rimtikians are so Pissy
Chapter 4 – Witless Protection
Chapter 5 – Hell Hath No Fury
Chapter 6 – The Unattainable Bargain
Chapter 7 – Between a Scarf and a Hard Place
Chapter 8 – Dilo the Traitor
Chapter 9 – No Place Like Home
Chapter 10 – Past Tense
Chapter 11 – That Rock is Hard to Swallow
Chapter 12 – Gorth Takes a Vacation
Chapter 13 – Nothing as Profitable as War
Chapter 14 – Mental Fatigue
Chapter 15 – Magnetic Personalities
Chapter 16 – Scarfing down the next Mission

Of course, only part of this makes any sense if you've read the first book and probably makes no sense whatsoever if you haven't. So get out there and read book one! Book two is on the way, I promise!

Slaving away in a digital graphite mine,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Free - not so powerful

It was a limited test, but still a valid result. Offering the eBook for free did not equate to a flood of downloads of The Adventures of Reztap from the Smashwords web site. It did result in two downloads of the free eBook and an additional sale of the full price version. That means the eBook went from six readers to nine on Smashwords. I'm happy with the promotion - any additional readers is a great thing. But I'm certainly not blown away with the results. I think they are in line with a normal promotion of this type.

My take is that I need to expand the amount of people who see the book offer, think of the word Reztap when searching book web sites, and think of my name when they think of an author they'd like to read. Even with a few retweets from some folks on Twitter, and sharing the news on Facebook, I'm still reaching less than 2,000 people. There are hundreds of millions of people online. My next concentrations for social media will be expanding my reach so to speak.

My next focus on writing will be getting the second book written (it's already been started). Unfortunately, marketing and writing are two different activities. Do I abandon marketing on social media (and other types of activities) and concentrate solely on writing? I believe this is a dilemma facing many eBook and traditional authors today. Marketing is largely if not completely on our shoulders for 99% of us. Still, I'm pretty sure having a second book out there is a big draw to potential readers. It lets them know the author is not just a one book wonder.

So, while I will definitely be devoting some time to marketing, my primary focus will be on writing book two. I do have one event at the end of July where I'll be selling the books directly (ArmadilloCon in Austin), but outside of that, my marketing efforts will be limited for the time being.

Good luck with your marketing!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Now on Barnes and Noble - Nook & Paperback!

I admit to be a little shocked. The eBook Channel Manager on Smashwords does not show it has shipped to Barnes and Noble, yet The Adventures of Reztap is available on the Nook ( I do have an explanation, though. Smashwords shipped the eBook to Baker &Taylor, a provider of books & eBooks to libraries and commercial web sites - I can only imagine that is how it filtered out to and got listed for the Nook on Barnes and Noble.

The paperback ( is a real quandry. It's not only listed on Barnes and Noble's web site, but it's on sale! I really don't understand the mechanism at work here. I do have it listed at two other locations ( & as a paperback, perhaps that's all that's necessary to get it listed at Barnes and Noble. I can only assume there's some kind of wholesale thing going on so they can offer it at a 28% discount. Interesting.

So, those of you in the mood for a Nook copy or a sale on the paperback, Barnes and Noble is your place to go!

Fully disclosed and loving it,

First reviews are in (GoodReads)

Two winners of the paperback giveaway from the GoodReads web site submitted reviews of The Adventures of Reztap. Overall, the book receives an average 4.5 out of 5 stars. Really, not too bad if I do say so myself. Of course, it's only two reviews, so I'm not patting myself on the back too hard just yet. Add the positive reviews from the two authors I got blurbs from, and the verbal reviews I've gotten from other readers and MAYBE I give myself a little pat.

To see the GoodReads reviews for yourself, click here:

I will say that does validate the book giveaway - book reviews are a decent return on investment, regardless of if they are positive or negative. I will definitely do it again for the sequel. I may even do it again for the first book.

I would ask anyone who has purchased the book, either hardcopy or eBook, please return to the web site you bought it from and leave a book review. I'm looking for honest impressions, be they positive or negative. Let others know whether or not you feel it was worth your time and money.

Thank you for your support,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Free Test (Limited Edition)

So here's the next test in celebration of my birthday - giving the eBook away for free for a day. Will this ultra-convenient price result in an onslaught of new readers or be a complete non-starter?

To get the eBook for free, you will have to download it from Smashwords and use the coupon code ZH97J at checkout. Here's the link to the Smashwords download:

Of course, I will update all of you with the results of this latest marketing effort. I have seen free giveaways as a means of creating a base readership or just generating some good word of mouth. Several authors appear to have done the same thing, as well as musicians and possibly some moviemakers.

Happy Free Day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

So Far, So Little

I'll admit, this is a very short test. Would it be more effective if it went longer? I don't think so. Luckily, both Twitter and Facebook give you the ability to see if things are retweeted or shared. You can't force someone to share or retweet; you can only ask nicely...which I did! Not much came of it.

So, from what I can gather so far, there is a very small amount of traction to be gained by exposing my followers of 300 or so people to a sale (or just an announcement of the book itself). Lessons learned? Price really isn't that much of a driving factor when it comes to getting the message out about your book or product - at least, not in a single day. Still to come in the product market testing - book reviews (and how many readers actually follow), blog "ads" (via - giveaways, interviews, excerpts - that type of thing), and the impact of multiple books in a series will also be considered. Of course, I have to write the sequels before I can consider that last one.

To market or to write, that is the question! In the short term, I will be doing a little more marketing research, but that will definitely wane by August, when I will put myself fully into the writing of the next book.

Before I close, the jury is still out on whether the book giveaway on Good Reads has been a win for the marketing column, or just a sunk cost. It may prove dividends in the long run, when more books come out and that may help build more word of mouth. I can certainly see where a single book may not garner as much attention as a series (Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter seem to prove the long term marketing strategy works very well there.) I have found there are other similar book reader sites (Shelfari and Library Thing) which I will be checking out this weekend.

Happy Marketing! (yes, oxymoron, I know.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Little Excitement...

Trying to generate a little excitement in the blogosphere with a $1 sale: (It's an Independence Day sale - now through 7/7/2012 get The Adventures of Reztap eBook from Smashwords for just a buck! That's $1 using coupon code ML88M at checkout from on Facebook, Twitter and here. An audience of maybe 300...of which, how many will notice and pay attention? Will they spread the word?

The inevitable question comes to mind. Does this result in an increase in sales? Will anyone, in fact, actually buy the eBook for that price? It is a standard splashy gimmick that many eBook authors use, usually at the outset of their marketing campaign. I will, of course, keep you informed on whether or not this works or even generates any sales at all. The last week has been pretty dry from a sales standpoint. I also haven't been pushing it much. I have the iTunes launch to wait for and I'm anticipating doing a book promo at ArmadilloCon (not yet confirmed...hotel plus convention costs just squeezing the budget a wee bit much right now.)

Book giveaway results - shipped four books. Free books to readers across the globe (well 3 in the US and one in Great Britain). Haven't heard a thing from them. Nary a sale either. Sales, I'll be quite honest, don't concern as much at this point. But generating a little word of mouth, discussion, etc. THAT is what interests me. Haven't had that yet.

Book reviews are still to come this month. Haven't yet selected/found the reviewers, but that should happen this weekend/next week. Will that generate buzz? I'm not entirely sure how to measure how many people will even read a review once posted. Is there a page viewed count on these pages? So many questions - I will figure out the answers and let you know as soon as I find out!

Until then,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Successes & Delays

First I'll start with Smashwords ( - the eBook starting place for my adventure. The inital eBook publishing process was relatively painless. Sure there were some growing pains with formatting and what not, but it was not too bad. Someone with my persnicketiness was boudn to work just fine with fine attention to detail.

The path to many online retailers can only be found through an eBook "aggregator" like Smashwords. You do this by listing your eBook through the Premium Distribution Channel for sites like Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Sony, Kobo, and Diesel. Most of these have gone pretty smoothly, but not all. There have been delays based mostly on the way those sites do business. I put The Adventures of Reztap online through the channel on May 12, 2012. Here is where they stand at the various retailers:

Sony (shipped on June 21st) - should appear two weeks after it is shipped. Why it took five weeks to ship, I don't know. Says it ships every Thursday or Friday.

Barnes & Noble (hasn't shipped yet) - Should appear within a few days of shipment. Says it ships every Thursday or Friday.

Kobo (shipped May 31st - on the site now!) - Should appear within a few days of shipment. Says it ships daily.

Amazon (opted out - it has been put directly on KDP)

Apple (shipped June 26th) - Ships multiple times per day. Manual review will take take weeks or longer before listing on iTunes.

Diesel (shipped June 5th - on the site now!) - Says it ships every Thursday or Friday.

Page Foundry (shipped June 13th) - not sure how to get to this. It's a relatively new add-on to the Premium service.

Baker-Taylor (shipped June 19th) - Says it ships every Thursday or Friday. This is where libraries order from. Not sure exactly how that works.

On Amazon (, I uploaded everything (having to reformat both the book and cover), but it was authorized, cleared and listed within 48 hours.

So directly to Smashwords and Amazon, the process was fairly quick. The slow churn through the distribution channels is frighteningly turtlish. I've been marketing a book people can't get to yet on iTunes (they've asked) or Barnes & Noble's Nook for over a month. That's two of the three premium eBook platforms out there.

Lesson learned - don't believe everything you read about how fast an aggregator will get your book on the other web sites. I think theere was some delay on Smashwords part this time, but I've heard delay horror stories after the bbok has shipped, especially to Apple. that's a bit of a bummer, but this is all about the learning process, right?

Keep writing, mi amigos!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Works To Sell Books? (June 2012 Sales)

Jumping the gun a little bit on June Sales of The Adventures of Reztap, I have gotten a nice bump the last week. Total book (and eBook) sales for June is 17 so far (I don't imagine it will get much higher before the end of the month). Here's a breakdown of how the sales have gone:

6 paperbacks by hand (ordered from Amazon by me - not included in Amazon's sales figures)
5 paperbacks from Amazon
1 eBook for the Kindle (via Amazon's Kindle Digital Publishing)
5 eBooks on Smashwords

Obviously with 17 sales I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. Just the same. it's a nice start and some fellow writers have inquired as to what I've done to get those sales. As I'm doing my best to be transparent with this process for other authors to learn from, here are some details including monetary figures.

Business cards: In late May, I ordered 250 business cards with the book cover on one side and two web sites and a coupon code on the other about where to order the book from. These were originally ordered to be hand out at Comicpalooza here in Houston, but through part of the learning process, I realized I hadn't ordered far enough ahead and the cards arrived several days after the convention ended. I did hand out a small spattering of homemade marketing materials, but they were done at the last minute and hardly had the look of any professionalism to them; I also left out pertinent information like the name of the book. Ahh well.The business cards have been distributed to friends, family and a few comic book and trading card retailers in the Houston area. Have they been a success? Well, no one has used the coupon code on the back of the card, so I can't really tell - someone may have ordered a paperback or the eBook directly from Amazon using the information, but the coupon code is not valid for those sites.

Conventions: The Comicpalooza convention was fun, but without the proper marketing materials in hand, I miserably failed to take advantage of the opportunity. It was a great learning experience and I'm looking into doing a book signing at the ArmadilloCon coming up at the end of July. Of course, I need to contact those folks - I may already be too late to get my name on the program. I will learn about how long a lead time I need for it for next year, when I hope to have two or more books available. Again, this year is a learning experience.

Book Giveaways: I did a book giveaway on Good Reads web site ( Four books just shipped today to the winners. DId it result in an increase in sales? Really too early to tell. Honestly, that has been the most difficult part of the process -seeing what tactic works and what doesn't. I have to believe it's been positive for word of mouth, though - over 500 people signed up for the giveaway, none of whom had heard of the book before the giveaway. That is exposure to new potential readers and that's always a good thing. I've gotten one person on the Good Reads web site to rate the book already and 60+ people added the title to their "To Read" list. I'm also writing a blog on the site to invite readers to discuss the book and answer any book or self-publishing questions they might have. This is a potentially huge platform to reach readers and interact with them, build a following for the book and, more importantly, get my name out there.

Hand Sales: OK, this may be a fluke in the numbers. I attended a 50th wedding anniversary for my in-laws and sold all six books to family - two people only and they bought extra copies to distribute to local libraries they support as well. Fluke or not, book sales are book sales. The family members who did buy them from me chided me for not letting the larger gathering a day before know I had books on hand to sell and only handed out cards for where they could order it. Don't discount the value of a family - they can be great advocates for your book, telling their friends about it and generally disseminating your book out there with their friends and you could get a snowball effect. It's especially good if the book is good, which I've had primarily positive reviews about.

Social Networks: While I've had some success driving people on Facebook and possibly Twitter to this blog, I'm not of the opinion that it has generated any sales. However, getting people to this blog and possibly growing a blog readership are good things. There is always the potential that people will read this blog, find value in it, and be genuinely curious about the book too. A future reader is still a reader and I welcome them all! I have been a little concerned that my "pushing" of the book via social networks is viewed as annoying by many people. I'm really not sure how effective it is - it could potentially be turning people off, but then would they have been readers anyway? Hard to say. I'm trying not to use the platforms as sales pitch only. I know I wouldn't like to see nothing but sales pitches on them!

Other Marketing: Is this al the marketing there is? No, I'm about to embark on pursuing book reviews (and possible book giveaways) with several blogging sites through Bloggerdise; this is a blogging source site for bloggers looking for things to review, people to interview and things to giveaway. It's both rewarding for their followers and for me, getting my name and book out there in front of more readers.

I think the conventions will be a nice platform to show of my wares as well, but I don't ever want to be in the position where I need to make money off the convention to make it worth my while. I will only attend conventions I'm truly interesting in participating in from an attendee standpoint. Will there be future conventions that invite me? I hope so and I'll be glad to attend them as long as I have some kind of forum to expose my book to - perhaps do a reading and/or book signing, be on a convention panel, and maybe even be a guest of the convention. Big dreams, I know. I don't expect anything like that too soon. That really will be a future course.

Book signings at book stores is a possible future path as well. I'm aware of this, but haven't really researched how to do it. This is still a part-time endeavor for me, so I'm under no illusions that I'll hit every marketing opportunity.

Press releases are another avenue I haven't pursued. I'm really just not sure how to do this and is it worth my time to pursue it? I may just not find time to attack this.

The Future is Bright: I have put a lot of time into the writing for the first book and I'm under a tighter deadline to produce the second book. I've only just started writing it. I am committed to this being a future career path if it will produce just enough for me to live on. I'm not at the point where I'm willing to swap jobs yet. I still need my normal job to pay the bills and, as they say, support my writing habit.

The Numbers: Enough jabbering - what have I spent so far and how much have I made? The costs are greatly outweighing the returns, but the future returns could easily turn that around. Here are the numbers so far (with the total 17 sales in the plus column):

Business cards: $54.11
Publishing costs (ISBN purchase - $50, proof purchase for The Book Patch - $9.51 including S/H): $59.51
Shipping costs for book giveaway: $32.40
Purchase of books for hand sales: $71.20
Convention attendance and parking: about $50

Total costs: $267.22

Hand sales: $80
Amazon eBook sales: $3.49
Amazon paperback sales: $24.30
The Book Patch paperback sales: $9.61
Smashwords eBook sales: $18.50

Total Sales: $135.90

Analysis: There are a lot of costs that won't repeat here (like ISBN purchases) and there are also things that will reoccur depending on what I'm doing (convention attendance), but most of this is startup marketing costs. I don't know if next months sales will be outstanding, but I will probably need to get more paperbacks on hand for the convention - especially since I'm pretty sure none of the booksellers there will have any in their inventory. I didn't expect to break even the first month, so I'm not concerned about these figures. Heck, they're more optimistic than I thought they'd be. If there are sustained sales by additional cost-free marketing and word of mouth, I will be showing a profit for my efforts within a few months. However, it will have to hit viral hit proportions for me to consider it a new career. We're not there yet...but we could be within a few years!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Having a book giveaway today (6/15/12) thru Wednesday (6/20/12) - enter the giveaway at the Goodreads web site ( - here is a widget to enter that contest that hopefully works!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Adventures of Reztap by Artemus Withers

The Adventures of Reztap

by Artemus Withers

Giveaway ends June 20, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Patch Paperback Reformatted

Once I got it in my hand, I knew I had to change it, and so I have.

The new formatting gives another quarter inch around the edges - should be just enough room for your thumbs to comfortable rest while holding the book open. Also changed the header and footer around a bit, so page numbers now appear at the bottom, author name on even pages, and book title on odd pages. I consolidated designs from several other books and decided what I thought looked best. It was interesting to note that there is no uniform format to be inferred from the many samples I looked at. There seemed to be just as many variations on header/footer configurations as there were book titles.

The reformatting also caused the book to increase in page number. If you were the sole purchaser of The Book Patch version, you will have a unique prize on your hands. It was 159 pages - now it is 197 pages (I think). Point being, there is no new content, just reformatted margins to make it easier to read. I always listen to my readers and it was not just me who thought the margin was too small in the original printing.

Any comments or suggestions, I'm all ears! Well, OK, all eyes...and a bit of nose, if you must know.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Patch Paperback in hand!

My first look at the paperback edition from Thee Book Patch is imy hands. It is a quality book, so i don't mind recommending it to anyone interested in getting it.

Now that I have it in hand, I will be making a few revisions - I would recommend holding off on ordering until next week. I like to have a little more white space on the page given the size of the book, so I will be editing the margins a bit. The cover looks great and the words on white paper inside are easy to read. I already have a few cosmetic corrections I was holding off on making until I saw the book in my hand. Now that I have, I will make the changes and this will be completely ready to go.

How are sales so far? Not counting any purchases I have made to get copies in my hand, here is the breakdown so far:

The Book Patch: 1 copy (to a reader in Dallas, TX)
Smashwords: 4 eBook copies (that is all eBook outlets except Amazon)
Amazon: None so far as I can tell.

It sounds kind of weak, doesn't it? But really, I'm not shy about this - I'm still trying to see what works in book marketing and what doesn't. Why not share that information with you, my loyal blog readers? So there it is. Hopefully, some of the seeds of marketing I've sown so far will take root and flower, but there is so much more in the future out there to try. I'm not at all demoralized by the numbers. Honestly, they're better than I thought they would be at this point - no press release, book review, or inclusion on any readling list. those are my next targets. Business card handouts haven't really resulted in any sales - or at least, no one is using the code for the discount on the Smashwords web site. Everything else so far has been posts on Twitter and Facebook, which is really a random advertisement adn not targeted at any specific audience of people who I think would want to read the book. Not surprised it hasn't had much impact on sales.

There's a lot more to come - stay posted for the next marketing steps so I can share a little about the successes and no-so-successes on that front.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Amazon Exclusive - July thru September 2012

I will be taking advantage of the Kindle Lending Library in July 2012 thru September 2012. The agreement means exclusive digital rights for that period to Amazon for eBook distribution of The Adventures of Reztap.

So what does that me to you, my incredibly large and attentive audience? It means for those three months, you will only be able to view or buy the eBook version of the book through Amazon. It does not affect the print version, so you can still by that from either Amazon or The Book Patch.

It will temporarily prevent the eBook from being distributed to any other outlet. I will be accomplishing this by "unpublishing" the book from the Smashwords site which will effectively remove it from distribution on all other web sites.

You may be asking yourself why I'm doing this. Well, I want to see what it will mean to me financially to have the eBook available in the Lending Library for that exclusive period. How much of a share of the money allocated to that venture will I receive in that amount of time? Will it be advantageous to me or will it be a drag on sales? Will people be coming to purchase the eBook from Smashwords/iTunes/Nook/Kobo/Diesel only to find it missing?

This is all an experiment for me to find ut what distribution methods are best. I need to know if having it in the Lending Library is a plus or minus so I can determine if I want to do that with future books. Will it increase4 the exposure of the title to the world out there, or will it be an obtrusive restriction? I can't know until I try it. This experiment will influence the template of future releases. Will the second eBook in the series debut to only the Amazon Lending Library? It all depends on how much of a following it gets due to the Lending Library. It may be a complete and total non-starter. I just have to try it and find out.

If you are NOT a Kindle owner, then I would suggest getting the eBook from the other web sites without delay - at the end of June it will be gone for three months. Here again are the sites that feature the eBook for sale:

Amazon Kindle:

Smashwords (multiple version of the eBook like PDF, HTML, RTF, text and more):

Kobo eReader:

Diesel eBooks:

Still pending shipping/review/approval: iTunes (for the iPhone and iPad), Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)

Of course, you can always get the paperback print version at:


The Book Patch: (Note: needs a slight adjustment to the print version for formatting issues - that is planned this week.)

I look forward to any comments and thoughts you might have on this direction.


Amazon Update!

Amazon has published both the paperback and Kindle versions of The Adventures of Reztap now. You can search Amazon's web site for Reztap now and see a link to both versions! How about a quick recap of where you can get the book now?

Amazon paperback:

Amazon Kindle:

Print version at The Book Patch: (Note: needs a slight adjustment to the print version for formatting issues - that is planned this week.)

Smashwords (multiple version of the eBook like PDF, HTML, RTF, text and more):

Kobo eReader:

Diesel eBooks:

Still pending shipping/review/approval: iTunes (for the iPhone and iPad), Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)

The good news - I don't have any other places to put the books/eBooks, so I've completed my distribution part of the journey (OK, still have a small correction to make to The Book Patch print version). Marketing is another matter. I will be exploring the different channels of marketing and publicity to find out which is most effective.

The bad news - Well, not really bad, but still - I need to continue the marketing/publicity, and work on the next book. Sure, it sounds easy when I put it like that. Writing is definitely enjoyable for me. The editing, not so much. Marketing and publicity are unknowns - I might enjoy it more next time around when I've discovered what works so I'm not wasting time & money on avenues that don't.

More to do!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Proof is in the Pudding

I received my proof today from Amazon (CreateSpace) and I am glad I looked through it. Mind you, there weren't glaring grammatical errors or anything. Well, I don't think there were - after the editing marathon I went through earlier, I just don't have the stomach to go through a real editing session again.

I did find separators being right justified that should be centered. I also found several last sentences in chapters with just a few words strung across the page to fully justify; the addition of a carriage return before the section break took care of those. I even adjusted a word at the end that had a font two sizes too big. I realized as I went through all this that I was not just being a perfectionist, but I was bringing the book to a state where the reader would not be drawn out of the story by a glaring visual disturbance. Much in the same way as a grammatical edit keeps the viewer from getting jarred from the story because of a misspelled word or a funky sentence structure, so too this step in the process was an effort by the author to engage and treat the reader to something wonderful.

The proofing process is more about making things not be there than the writing process is about putting things in. I hope I've taken away enough and left just the right amount in. Here's to interior literary design!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Amazon Delay

Through no fault of Amazon's, there will be a delay in the print version of The Adventures of Reztap there. I received the PDF proof of the book and noticed at least one error. Unfortunately, I'm unable to complete te corrections until this weekend.

Didn't want anyone getting promised something they could not get yet. Bear with me as I work through this process and make sure the launch of the print version is right. Your alternative is to get the book from The Book Patch, where it is currently available in a print version. The error I saw is in this version.

Even though it's just cosmetic, it reminds me there is never a perfect creation out there. It won't affect the story one bit. Perhaps in the end, it should be left alone as a reminder that life isn't perfect, but even with it's imperfections it is worthwhile and enjoyable. Wouldn't it be great if more people thought that?


Saturday, June 2, 2012


The paperbacks are in the store!  Well, the online store.

The not quite yet reviewed one from The Book Patch is available here:

Scroll down to the bottom - I think there are only eight science fiction titles on the web site.

Why "not quite reviewed?" Well, I have ordered a single copy to look at (my own version of a galley proof), but it won't be here for about two weeks. I could've gotten it faster, but cash flow being what it isn't... SO, please be aware that I have not verified the final copy - I don't know if it is a good quality binding and printing yet.

The other version is on hold pending review at Amazon. I don't have a link for it yet, but will share it when I do. The review is supposed to take less than 48 hours. Of course, I've seen things come in faster than the estimate and also take longer, sometimes much longer than the estimate. My first time with publishing through Amazon, so I don't know exactly what to expect.

Mind you, the eBook is much cheaper through Smashwords (, but I know some of you prefer to have the paper hard copy in your hand. I'm trying to accommodate both types of readers.

This was an all-day process, readying the two PDFs for print (Amazon and The Book Patch have slightly different requirements.) I also had to format the book covers. This has been an interesting learning process. I can say the same for the marketing aspect.

I will update you all when I know more. Hope your weekend has been as productive as mine.


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Blurbs Are In!

So I asked two authors for a blurb on my eBook about to be a print paperback (to go on the back cover).

Norman Ray Fitts, ever the teacher, gave me a synopsis and critique. Not sure he was into the whole parody concept. I'm still incredibly grateful for the author blurb he came up with. Here's what his blurb will look like on the back cover:

"A great romp through the galaxy with two well defined main characters and a story that keeps you constantly guessing about what weird thing is going to happen next."

It is a good blurb. Positive and concise. Norman's work (The Sentinal among others) can be purchased here:

Joe McKinney is a pretty well known author in horror circles for the Dead City series of zombie novels, three and counting plus a great number of other novels and short stories ( If you follow his online blog (Old Major's Dream, you'll also note he is fairly well read and educated. Here's what he gave me back verbatim as a blurb:

"No self-respecting kid raised in the 1970s could help but love space opera.  We had Star Wars, we had Space: 1999, we had Star Trek and Isaac Asimov and Harry Harrison and the birth of New Wave.  So when I see space opera done exceedingly and lovingly well, as Artemus Withers does in The Adventures of Reztap, it gives me a thrill.  Discovering a genre anew is a gift, and Artemus Withers gives freely.  Built on a classic rescue story plot, Withers' story proceeds to slay all the sacred cows of science fiction, but does it with such humor, such style, that even a hardened fan can't help but laugh along.  The Adventures of Reztap has got the humor of Douglas Adams, the snappy dialogue of Firefly, and all the moral slipperiness of the Stainless Steel Rat, but it is a unique and wonderful story all its own.  This is the good stuff!"

While I'm certainly not under the impression that I'm anywhere near as great an author as those mentioned, it did give me some pleasure knowing the reader recognized a lot of my parody inspiration.

It's interesting the diversity of the two authors and their level of commentary and insight into the writing. Of course, the same will be said for the readers out there. Some will get it, some won't. I can only hope that all will find it entertaining. At least both of the author's who blurbed for me enjoyed it.


* * * * *
You can find the eBook version of The Adventures of Reztap at in PDF, HTML and .modi format for the Kindle - soon to be on iTunes, Barnes & Noble's Nook and the Sony eBook reader.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Biz Cards Are In!

A little marketing talk for this blog. I just got my business card handouts with the book cover on one side and ordering information on the other side including a coupon code for 25% off the eBook. These are exactly what I wanted... four days before they arrived at Comicpalooza.

Now, what to do with cards that have a coupon that expires at the end of the month? It's actually not a big deal. This is, after all, a learning experience. So I have learned I need to order things WAY ahead of when I will need them for a marketing engagement. The faux cards I printed up on my inkjet were nice, but they weren't double-sided - no book cover...and no name of the book either. I slapped them together so fast I just pasted the coupon text from the business cards and blew it up to print.

In my defense... well, actually, it is indefensible. Should have thought about lead times and other things. So, you savvy readers and writers out there, remember to prepare adequately for delays!

The business cards themselves look really nice. Although, next time I'm going to pay the extra for glossy. Personal preference, I just think it will look that much better. Nice size too. I think it will be handy for slipping into your pocket to use later. Too big and you will not want to carry it around. However, if given out at a convention, bigger is better - and everyone has a bag to carry stuff around in. Business card size handier for book counters and casual laying about of the cards. Bigger ones for Cons.

Coupon is a great idea. Putting a nearby expiration date for the coupon, not so great. It gives the cards a limited lifespan at full value. In a month, the coupon is no longer any good. I did design it almost two months out, but still, that was pretty short-sighted.

And so, my friends, I hope you learn from my mistakes and go on to make some of your own! How else will we learn but by making mistakes?


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Sale

For a limited 24 hour period, The Adventures of Reztap is available for only $1.

Use coupon code ZP42X at Smashwords:

Read, enjoy, share!

Obviously, I don't do this every day, but given the holiday and my recent completion of the Book 2 synopsis, I felt compelled to celebrate.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two Authors - blurbs for print version

I've contacted two author friends who've agreed to do a review of The Adventures of Reztap and provide me with blurbs of their impression of the book for the back of the paperback print version. That is awesome!

Great site on Joe McKinney with links to all his books:
Joe is probably one of the top Zombie writers out there - his books are deep and engaging.

Here's Norman Ray Fitt's personal page with links to his books and screenplay services:
Ray (as I like to call him) is a top notch sci-fi writer. He has in depth technical scenarios that are touched with humanity. Very moving stories.

I worked through most of the day today getting the book formatted corrected for print. Funny thing is I originally formatted it for printing and then reformatted for eBook - making all the editorial changes to the eBook version. So I had no choice but to start from the eBook version and work my way back.

Print version of The Adventures of Reztap should be available in June - to celebrate, here is a coupon code good thru the end of June for 25% off the eBook version at Smashwords: JU69W

Please share with all your friends - there will be sci-fi fans among them!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book One is Done!

Book One is Done!

eBook published at Smashwords (, the first of many books about Tar Reztap and his friend Gorth is "in the bag." (

I commission a cover by a nice artist off of Deviant Art (Dragon Lady 212 ( I had a particular look I wanted for the cover, so I searched through the art samples posted there until I found someone who was creating art in the style I wanted. Here is a copy of the cover I commissioned:

This is a science fiction humor book. It has a bit of an irreverent, sophomoric feel to it. The antics the pair get into are comical and sometimes deadly. If you've enjoyed The Big Bang Theory TV show, then you won't be put off by any of the humor in here. I would rate it PG.

I'm working on finding some reviewers for it. Hope to post links to those reviews soon.

If you're interested in a humorous, science fiction tale that pokes fun at many tropes in the genre, please check it out. On the plus side, you can hit up the web page and get a nice preview of the book before you buy. I think that's a nice touch by Smashwords.

The book will soon (hopefully) be available on iTunes (iPhone, iPad), Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook). If you just can't wait, you can purchase the book at Smashwords and view it in a multitude of formats (HTML, PDF, RTF .mobi, and plain text.) From what I understand, the .mobi file is a Kindle format - I just have no idea how you get the file onto your Kindle - if you know how, you can beat the crowds by getting it now before it gets to Amazon.

Always interested to hear comments about the book, your feelings about the book, and booky things in general. However, still not interested in revealing where my book cave is. Don't even mention the bookpole.

Artemus out!