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.