About dmcclure17

Writing stories infused with the smoky charisma of classic film noir mixed with the pulse-pounding excitement of adventure fantasy and the cagey class of suspenseful espionage, Dan McClure brought the best parts of all of our most cherished pulp together and added his own signature brand of wit. He is currently continuing to write the Adventures of Grant Scotland series, the same stories with which he began his writing career. He currently lives and writes and works in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Notes From the Self-Pubbed (Issue #8)

THE BLOG TOUR ISSUE!

My Virtual Blog Tour ended earlier this month and I’m ready to share the goods and the bads and the ups and the downs. The Tour was arranged by Goddessfish Promotions and began in late December and continued until the middle of April. What would happen was Goddessfish would coordinate with a book review blogger to schedule a day where that blogger would post an advertisement for my book or interview with me or an excerpt from one of the books or some other piece of content relating to Grant Scotland. Then all of that blogger’s followers would see the post and comment on it in order to be eligible for an Amazon Gift Card. Goddessfish scheduled on average about two bloggers a week, generally Tuesdays and Thursdays, but sometimes Mondays and Wednesdays, and each one was pretty good about posting something different so followers were encouraged to “follow” the tour from one site to another.

Sounds great, right? I had been skeptical about the true advertising power of this sort of thing, since I found it difficult to imagine there were that many book-blog sites, not to mention active members who visited them frequently. I mean, do you visit blogs that talk about books on any sort of regular basis? I mean JUST books. This site doesn’t count, since it’s my personal blog where I also talk about being an author – I rarely talk about what I’m reading/have read. I’m talking about “fan sites” for fantasy, romance, sci-fi, etc. Do you ever go to these sites and hang out and talk about books?

 

“Hey, everyone! I just found out about this great book called The Necronomicon! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!”

 

Yeah, neither do I. Nevertheless, a blog tour was something I had to try, since I couldn’t very well claim I was taking this self-publishing enterprise seriously if I didn’t try it at least once.

It turns out once is enough. Probably more than enough. That is to say, I’m never doing anything like it ever again. Not on my dime, anyway.

First off I want to say that Marianne and Judy at Goddessfish were very nice and professional. I have nothing but good things to say about them. However, I can’t recommend their services, because my own results were so disappointing. In fact, so bad was my experience that I feel I have to warn other self-published authors to save their money and keep away from blog tours in general.

So, what was so bad? Well, mainly the biggest problem became apparent fairly early on. After the first few stops on the tour, it became obvious that each time a blogger hosted a blog post about Grant Scotland, the same 6 or 8 people would comment – on every site. That is, there didn’t seem to be separate followers on separate sites. It was always the same names, no matter if it was a site that claimed it mostly liked romance books or mostly liked fantasy books. Oh, and almost all of them mostly liked romance books, judging by their style and sidebar content and advertising.

 

“Where is the ripped bodice? No ripped bodice = no sale.”

 

So, the audience was frustratingly small, but that’s okay, nobody was buying anything anyway. I ran kindle countdown deals on all four books and Goddessfish made sure the deals were advertised on every site where Grant Scotland was featured, but not a single sale was recorded (not entirely true, but let’s just say I noted no “spike” in sales). Well, unless some sales happened during the Bookbub promotion period, but the tour had already been going on for almost two months by that time so I find it unlikely.

But I had heard blog tours were a great way of generating reviews and I had sent out free e-copies of all the books, so I was looking forward to getting a few Amazon reviews at least. Nope. Not one. I did, however, get four very enthusiastic reviews on Harlie’s Books by someone who clearly actually read all four books. So, that was nice, but it would have been nicer if those reviews had made it on to Amazon.

But did I make any new friends, at least? Hard to say. I know I have new followers to the blog and Facebook pages, but whether those people are here for the content or the promise of giveaways, it’s impossible to tell.

Well, I guess it’s not impossible. I could always just cancel the giveaways and see if anyone sticks around. In fact, I think I’ll do that. I’ve been mulling it over and doing extra reading about mailing lists and giveaways and authors and I’ve come to the conclusion that mailing lists and giveaways are GREAT ways to get a ton of followers, but they don’t do squat in terms of building an audience. An audience is composed of readers and they’re not the ones making the rounds from site to site trying to get free stuff. Those are internet gypsies. Additionally, every person I’ve seen advocating for mailing lists and giveaways ultimately turns out to be someone trying to sell me something. Sure, they may also be an author (although I’m highly dubious of this in each and every case) but they always put way more effort into talking up some pay-to-play service instead of what’s cool or interesting about their books, writing, etc.

 

“You want to know about my book? Well, it’s very successful. But wouldn’t you rather know how I made it so successful?”

 

So, no more mailing list. You’re just going to have to bookmark me or sign up to follow the blog by email (although I’ve found in my personal experience that wordpress emails often get filtered to the junk folder) and just keep an eye on the blog. I’m sure at some point in time in the future I’ll give away free stuff in some off-the-cuff contest, but doing the whole Mailchimp/Rafflcopter/Twitter Ads route just isn’t for me.

As for Blog Tours, Goddessfish offers some very reasonably priced options if you’re a self-pubber and you’re thinking that maybe you can change some internet gypsies into book buyers and fans. I chose the biggest/most expensive option because I figured in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound and obviously can’t at all recommend it. Maybe stringing together a few cheaper tours might yield better results for you.

I just re-read what I wrote and it sounds like I’m down on self-publishing and I’m not. Absolutely not. Although the industry is swarmed by pirates and snake oil salesmen, it’s still very rewarding to have almost complete control over your own work. I am, however, almost certain at this point that a hybrid approach is the best way to go. If I can get some stories or novels traditionally published it will make it much easier to get my self-published stuff in front of a much wider audience. I guess to look at myself as objectively as possible, I’m moving away from being a true self-publisher and towards being an author who self-publishes. True, this really only works for authors who have already attained some measure of success in traditional publishing, but I’m glad I went the self-pub route first. This entire experience has been very interesting and has given me a lot of confidence in my writing that I realize now I desperately needed in order to take myself seriously. Also, I think if I hadn’t tried it first, I’m not sure I ever would have.

I’m still deeply suspicious of traditional publishing, though. I’ve heard many horror stories from many authors about being badly mishandled and then having to live with not having rights to their own work when their publisher drops them. That makes me cringe and it’s something I’ll never let happen to the Adventures of Grant Scotland. I’m way too invested in that series to ever hand it over. Well, never say never, I guess. At any rate, I realize I should start writing a stand-alone novel (not related to the series, but probably a sci-fi or fantasy book) and see if I can attract an agent, but I’m committed to getting AoGS to six books first. Right now the plan is to keep writing Grant Scotland (outline and first chapter of book 5 done so far) but also crank out at least two more short stories by year’s end and put those on the magazine merry-go-round with the other two I’ve finished.

But I might start putting together something for an agent sooner rather than later. Probably should. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Happy spring, everyone! A great time to make new plans and start new projects!

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” – Vernon Law

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A Letter from the President of Malaero Airlines

From the Office of the President, 4/11/2017

To all Employees of Malaero Airlines,

I’m sure everyone has heard about the most recent mishandling of an overbooking situation that took place on board one of the planes of a competing airline. If not, please see your supervisor for full details and while you’re there please take a moment to pick up our NEW employee handbook and sign the NEW Commitment to Customer Service Excellence and Public Nonaggression Agreement. In fact, even if you are already aware of “the incident,” please make sure you get the new handbook and sign the agreement by week’s end.

I just want to take a moment and be very clear that our stance on handling overbooking situations has always been in favor of non-violent solutions. Even if it was not spelled out in the handbook, strictly speaking, it was nevertheless always our policy that overbooked passengers should be invited to deplane and only brutalized and beaten senseless as a very last resort. While it’s not clear if the employees at United had in fact reached that last resort, it is clear that a very thorough and humiliating beatdown was handed out in a very public manner.

This is something I find to be intolerable as I hope you all do. I don’t ever want to hear about anything like this happening on a Malaero flight. This is what we have customs offices and security rooms for. If you do not know the location and accessibility of these rooms, please see our Chief of Airline Security, Brutus D. Bentbody to arrange a tour. These rooms have been specially designed to be windowless, sound proof and easy to clean. A troublesome customer should be lured there with promises of free miles, meals or even cash if need be and only THEN is he/she to be properly insulted, debased and ultimately given a sound thrashing.

Each room comes with a wide variety of tools and devices to make the administration of pain and embarrassment look and feel as professional as possible. If you have not been given adequate instruction on the efficient use of these items, please contact Mr. Bentbody for a demonstration at your earliest convenience. But do not let inexperience deter you from utilizing these facilities! The LAST thing we want – and I can’t stress this enough – is to have our own very public, not to mention very messy, display of naked aggression against one of our customers simply because one or more of our employees had been misinformed about our policies and procedures.

Don’t be afraid to ask! And when you’re in one of our special rooms with your targeted customer, don’t be afraid to experiment! Even if you get carried away and your guest expires, we have many terrifically skilled people ready to help you. It happens all the time, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Again, the important thing here is that the mistake happened where no one outside the airline can see it! If you’d like to know more about how we deal with expired passengers, send an email to our Vice President in charge of Baggage Claims, Vincent Mattresses. Please CC me on all these inquires. While I encourage questions, I don’t like too many questions. Not everyone needs to know everything.

Here at Malaero Airlines, discretion is our watchword!

Thank you all for your hard work and your continued efforts to provide the very best in customer service and disposal. I’ve been proud to say that here at Malaero, we like to make sure all of our passengers reach the final destination each of them have got coming!

 

Sincerely,

Damion Fiendier, President of Malaero Airlines.

P.S. – Please don’t forget to sign the NEW Commitment to Customer Service Excellence and Public Nonaggression Agreement by week’s end. Or else.

Notes from the Self-Pubbed #7 (addendum)

Addendum! Fancy, right? I’m all about the class and the sophistication stuff. But why the addendum? Well, I just got the sales report from Apple and Kobo from my February 6th BookBub promotion of the Grant Scotland omnibus and I’m happy to report they held mother’s milk. I sold enough to recoup expenses and even make a small profit! Read on for numbers! Numbers for the Number God!

 

 

APPLE: (as reported through Smashwords)

Apple sales are reported in a monthly dump, so no per-day sale info available.

44 Units sold during February at $1.99 each (so we can surmise all sales were during promo period).

60% royalty to author yields $1.20 each less Value Added Tax (VAT) on applicable sales. I think this is about 15% before royalty is figured, but it only applies to select overseas sales. So, to err on the safe side, we’ll call it a buck a book.

44 Units @ $1.00 = $44

KOBO: (as reported through Smashwords)

Kobo sales are reported on a monthly basis with day-by-day break down, but all the days were within the promo period.

67 Units sold during February at $1.99.

60% royalty to author yields $1.20 each. No VAT with Kobo, so we get the full $1.20.

67 Units @ $1.20 = $80

REVISED BOOKBUB PROMO NUMBERS:

Expense of Promo: $261

Total royalties from Promo: $283

Profit: $22

 

 

How do you like that?

 

“You might not be as useless as you were before. But you’re still a long way from an invite to Mar-a-Lago”

 

Now, I know these numbers combined with the Amazon numbers result in a quantity and profit margin that is extremely small in comparison with the sales of most other authors, but that’s how it starts.

 

“But that’s how it always begins. Very small.”

 

Additionally, I’m not including sales beyond the promo period which have been not insubstantial and at full price. So, if you throw those in, the profit margin is quite a bit wider. But now this leaves me in a quandary. Sales of Greedy Villain (the only book NOT in the omnibus) have been slow but steady on Amazon since the promotion, but the book is only available on Amazon right now because I wanted to keep it in Kindle Unlimited library to get the sweet, sweet borrowed page reads. However, those haven’t been that impressive and I’d hate to lose the opportunity to get some Kobo/Apple sales on it. I guess I just decided, didn’t I? Greedy Villain is up for renewal in KU in early April. I’ll decline renewal and see if I can get some follow up sales on Kobo and Apple. I can always put it back on KU later.

As for BookBub, my faith has been restored. I can now confidently tell you that if you’re looking to promote a book it is the best advertising option out there. And their follow-up survey is great! I shared my data with them and I’m hoping since my ROI was pretty low it will encourage them to lower their entrance fee a bit. Regardless, I’m looking forward to trying to get the omnibus on a domestic (U.S. only) BookBub promotion in the near future.

I’m in a good mood!

 

Have a drink? ‘Cause I’m having a drink.

 

Oh, and I’ve started receiving my rejection letters from the short stories I’ve sent out! They’re great! Can you tell I’m in a good mood? No, seriously! I feel even more like an “official” author now. My self-published books are making money and my short stories are being turned down by magazines. This is a very exciting time!

Cheers!

 

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Holy crap! This whole thing might actually pan out! Can you believe that? No, don’t answer that. It’s the suspense that’s delicious, isn’t it?

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

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The Widening and the Warping

Are you ready for me to tell you everything that’s wrong and how to fix it? No? Good, because I can’t do that. How about just one thing? Got time to hear about one thing in our society that needs to change like right now? No? Well, I’m going anyway.

So, it’s been a few weeks and I’m sorry I haven’t updated everyone on what’s been going on, but the truth is there hasn’t been much happening – well, not in the writing department anyway, unfortunately. You see, my OTHER job – that of pizza delivery guy; the modern knight errant – has been taking up more time. When I started this job about a year and a half ago, I made it clear to the boss that I only wanted about 25 hours a week. Just enough work to pay my modest bills and still leave plenty of time for writing. And that paid off as I was able to write Greedy Villain and two short stories and get a start on AoGS5. Recently, however, I’ve had to take on a few additional hours as well as cover other drivers’ shifts on occasion.

And why is that? Well, a couple of reasons. As I mentioned in recent posts, I have recently drained the self-publishing marketing war chest and need to rebuild it. But beyond that, there has also been an undeniable shift in the store’s business. Sales are up. This time last year, I remember we entered a very dark time that stretched from after the football season to the first day of summer where delivery was so slow I was worried about meeting expenses. However, this February and March (so far) have showed no signs of slow down. On top of that, the store is having trouble holding on to good people. Bad people are easy enough to hold onto, but good people have been leaving for greener pastures at a steady rate.

And they aren’t getting replaced, except by more bad people.

This is a sign of a booming economy. It’s perhaps the most reliable one. I forget where I heard this theory before (probably some NPR program) but they say if you notice how difficult it is to get good service anymore at your local eatery, then that usually means the economy is doing well. The over-educated and under-employed people who were working minimum wage service jobs have been able to snag better paying jobs at companies that have decided they feel safe enough to hire on help.

Conversely, if the service improves, it’s a reliable sign the economy is tanking or about to tank.

So, on the one hand, I’m happy that the economy is doing well. My meager investment portfolio is growing nicely and business is good so tips are both qualitatively and quantitatively better. However, the lack of good workers combined with the increase in business creates a dreadful pinch on a service sector establishment like the pizza joint. How to keep good people without being forced to pay them what an office job might pay them?

Now, the obvious answer is to offer bonus plans, performance incentives and allow tipping for in-store personnel and not just delivery drivers (although that’s more specific to pizza chains). And although I fully support all of those notions and can’t understand why they aren’t adopted everywhere, I think I have an even better solution.

Mandatory service sector enlistment.

 

“You’re not ready to SERVE your country cheeseburgers and curly fries. You’re still waiting for your momma to do it for you, aren’t you?” – “SIR, NO, SIR!”

 

That’s right. Other countries have mandatory military service, but as the most powerful capitalist nation on the planet, this country would be far better served by having its youth forced to staff the Chuck E Cheeses and the Pizza Huts and the Best Buys for a period of at least two years from age 18 to 20. No matter how much money or smarts you have, you still have to serve your time shoulder to shoulder with your fellow countrymen in the trenches of the free market system.

You think I’m joking, but I’m not. I know. You’re thinking “But, Dan. Most people already serve some time faking smiles and punching cash registers when they’re young. What’s the difference?”

Well, just imagine the next Donald Trump slaving away in front of a fry-o-later. Or the next Rex Tillerson asking if you want fries with that. Do you think their perspectives on what happens where the rubber meets the road in a free market economy might be just slightly better informed? I do. In a country that has the most disproportionate distribution of wealth its ever had and is seeing the gap between the rich and everyone else only grow wider, it seems almost a matter of life and death to the egalitarian dream of our society that we force the elite to spend a little time in the mud before they get to assume their mantles of power.

And it would certainly stabilize the quality of service at most establishments if not showing up for work was equivalent to desertion and punishable by imprisonment (or execution!) Okay, maybe that’s going a little too far.

 

“Can I at least have a last cigarette?” – “You gave up your right to a 15 minute smoke break when you called out sick to go to the beach. READY! AIM!…”

 

Maybe.

Maybe the frustration is largely my own. It’s disheartening to work as fast and as diligently as possible to do a simple job correctly during a busy period only to have customers still complain about the service. I swear most of the complaints we get are from people who have never had to flip a burger in their lives.

You see, there truly is a warping of the perception of reality that comes when people go from having no money to having some money. And even more so when going from having some money to having a lot. It seems at each “tier” of success, an individual is changed (quite without any intention of change, I’m sure) in such a way that he/she looks back on the previous tier and sees it as “below them” and people dwelling within it as somehow deserving less. Or perhaps less deserving, would be a better way of putting that.

I’ll give you an example. A little while ago I was listening to an interview with the head of a designer jean label. When asked what motivated him, he had the gall to say “It isn’t about the money. We just want to create a high-quality product and blah blah blah.” Over the course of the interview, however, he reveals that he moved his factory out of the US and over to Mexico because labor was too expensive here with minimum wages and health care. If he produced his jeans here, he’d have to mark up 30-40% to cover costs.

On a $300 pair of jeans.

 

“So… do they give me super powers or something? Like… can I break dance now?”

 

So, I guess it is about the money after all? The mentality that someone who can afford to spend $300 on a single pair of jeans could not afford a $400 or $500 pair of jeans is beyond my ability to comprehend. I doubt I spend $300 on replacing my entire wardrobe over the course of two years, much less on a single pair of pants.

But what’s especially crucial here is the “screw you, Jack, I got mine” mindset that creeps in as one moves up the income scale. Why is it all right to abandon the health and well-being of skilled and semi skilled labor in your own country to instead employ Mexicans who, by the way, also have a guaranteed minimum wage and universal health care? Why are they somehow more valuable to you than your own countrymen?

Can you really still insist that it isn’t about the money?

This isn’t an attack on globalism, although it certainly has its problems. Also, I’m sure there are nuances of business that I don’t understand, but it remains clear to me, especially in times of economic boom, that the zeitgeist we have been calling the American Dream is only about making yourself into some kind of mogul. If you’re not out to conquer the world, then you’re somehow deserving of less. People wonder what happened to the Mom and Pop stores. They disappeared because the limited business model, the desire to stay local and share modest dreams with your neighbors and employees, will always get crushed by the people who don’t mind stepping on other people to accomplish their own “bigger” dreams.

But I’m not an economist. I have no idea if society would be better off if we made everyone live at the bottom rung for a brief time through some mandatory minimum wage service requirement. And I’m no protectionist advocate, either. If your dream gets stepped on, I believe you should pick yourself up, get some new dreams and adapt and move on. But should we give a little more respect to the little guy than we’ve been giving? I think the last general election makes that clear.

And don’t sell me this “it isn’t about the money.” It’s always about the money. You ever hear anyone use that phrase, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that they end their statement with “believe me.” Anyone who says “believe me” is usually someone not to be believed.

 

 

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Did any of that make sense? I have a head cold right now so it’s hard to tell. Besides that, I’m an idea man, okay? I can’t be bothered with details.

“Believe me.” – A liar (probably)

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Notes from the Self-Pubbed (Issue #7)

I’m conflicted. I’m kind of tempted to just keep the omnibus at $1.99. After all, sales keep happening (albeit a very small amount of sales), so I imagine people keep reading. When I started this I had no problem giving away the first book (Dead Empire) for free, but although many thousands of people downloaded it I never received any reviews or hits to the blog or Facebook page. Upon research, I found it was likewise among others who tried the same tactic – nobody seems to know where all those copies went or whether they were ever read. Even though $1.99 isn’t free, it nets me very little money. Still, it’s something, and I seem to get regular hits to my social pages.

But of course I had to bump the price back up. If I didn’t, I’d never be eligible for another BookBub promo with the omnibus unless I wanted to straight up give it away, which as I mentioned is a loser deal. In fact, I bumped the price up to $9.99 because many moons ago I had increased each included book to $3.99 and had never adjusted the omnibus. So, now it matches as just a bit over the price of two books for three, same as before. It’s been a couple of days and sales have predictably dropped to zero, but that’s okay. We’re not having a fire sale or a going-out-of-business blowout. We’re staying the course.

And the course is looooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnggg. Like, for the rest of my life long. Like, Tolstoy long. You on board? Come on, we’ll walk it together. Won’t be so bad that way.

But how exactly did that BookBub promo go, you may be asking? And I promised I’d tell you, didn’t I? After all, this is Notes from the Self-Pubbed, so I shall dutifully and unashamedly share my trials and travails with you, my beloved and curious readers.

But first things first. HAPPY SECOND ANNIVERSARY to THIS TONE OF VOICE! YAY! Commence with the dropping of the balloons and the throwing of the confetti and the eating of cake!

 

I invited the New England Patriots to my Blog Anniversary Parade. My fans seemed to really enjoy that.

I invited the New England Patriots to my Blog Anniversary Parade. My fans seemed to really enjoy that.

 

Second, I have a blog tour on-going, so I will refrain from comment on that until it is done. It deserves its own post, so I’ll wait until it’s finished. By the way, today Grant Scotland is featured over at Hope, Dreams, Life… Love. Check me out on my good side.

But let’s take a look at those BookBub numbers. As this was a BookBub International promotion, the United States subscribers were excluded from seeing my sale. I don’t really get how they separate the two in a digital universe, but they do how they do. People visiting Amazon or B&N.com in the U.S. could still buy my book at the reduced price, they just didn’t see mention of it in their BookBub newsletters. Anyway, here are the numbers:

 

BOOKBUB INTERNATIONAL PROMOTION

COST: $261 (ZOINKS!)

ANNOUNCED SALE PROMOTION DATES: Monday, February 6th through Wednesday February 8th

VISIBILITY: One appearance on Bookbub’s International distribution newsletter and webpage on February 6th.

 

SALES:

FEB 6th:

AMAZON: 123 units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty

FEB 7th:

AMAZON: 58 units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty

FEB 8th: (announced end of sale date for promotion)

AMAZON: 12 units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty

FEB 9th: (I updated blog and my own newsletter with news I would extend sale another day)

AMAZON: 16 units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty

FEB 10th: (not technically part of the promotion, but just finishing out the week and waiting for price normalization adjustment to appear at stores)

AMAZON: 5 units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty

While I waited for the stores to accept the fact that I had brought the price back up to $9.99, I sold 13 more copies at the reduced price from the 11th to the 13th. B&N was the culprit. They always seem to drag their feet when I tell them I want to raise a price. As long as they resisted raising it, I couldn’t tell Amazon to do the same. Amazon is very touchy about that sort of thing. Ah, these little wars these mega companies wage. Anyway, that’s 13 more units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty – all Amazon.

So, how’d I do?

 

"You're kidding, right? I don't have time for this anymore. I'm THE PRESIDENT.... Okay. Wait. Let me see if I can get Flynn on the phone."

“You’re kidding, right? I don’t have time for this anymore. I’m THE PRESIDENT…. Okay. Wait. I know a guy who’s not doing anything. Let me see if I can get Flynn on the phone.”

 

Okay, fair enough. I’ll handle the summary this time, Your Orangeness.

Total sales:

Amazon: 227 units @ $1.99 @ %35 royalty

Kobo: Uknown

B&N: Unknown

Apple: Unknown

Return: $159

 

Soooooooo, not so great. Looks like I’m out about $100. I know Kobo and B&N and Apple have yet to report in and I won’t hear from them for another month or so (I distribute to those outlets through Smashwords and they usually report sales to Smashwords monthly or quarterly) but I very heavily doubt those platforms yielded enough sales to even bring me to break-even territory. Admittedly, Kobo is huge in Canada, so that might not be nothing. Regardless…. I won’t lie. I’m pretty disappointed. BookBub was supposed to be a guaranteed positive ROI. Everywhere I checked not a single person had a bad experience.

And yet, I’m partially to blame. If I had set the price at $2.99 instead of $1.99, I would have been in Amazon’s %70 royalty bracket, which would have made all the difference in the world if I had achieved the same number of sales. At $2.99 @ %70, I would have a return of $334. About on par with what I was expecting. Again, this is assuming I would have achieved the same number of sales. No guarantee there. Also, BookBub’s international reach is far less impressive than its domestic subscriber base. But, I would have had to pay about three times as much to get a domestic feature, which they didn’t offer to me anyway.

So, am I head-in-the-oven? Am I looking wistfully at tall buildings and wondering how to get to the roof?

Nope.

I may have spent my last dollar-rich marketing bullets on BookBub and Goddessfish, but I’ve got plenty of ammo left. True, the advertising budget is depleted (for now, at least), but the word ammo is plentiful. I’ve finished both of the short stories I promised myself I’d complete this year and even revised them to a level I consider fit for submission. And I love them. They’re of a higher caliber of writing than the Grant Scotland books, but that’s because I’m aiming them for a larger audience. Also, short stories – to my mind – insist on packing more info and subtext into a tighter margin. Words are more carefully chosen and I have to be more precise than what the comparative roominess of a full-length novel allows. Finally, I need someone else to foot the bill for marketing for once, so I need to devote a little extra energy into crafting stories for specific publications.

I think. I don’t know. I haven’t submitted a story to a magazine since I was in High School, so this is all going to be new to me.

Anyway, money’s tight right now, so it’s time to turn to traditional publishing for some help. I’ll be submitting these stories to magazines/e-zines for publication and I’m sure I won’t get much (if any) money from it, but at least I’ll get exposure at no cost to yours truly. I might try BookBub again someday, since selling 227 copies of the omnibus over the course of a week is still the best performance I’ve seen from any promotion so far, but next time I’ll do it at $2.99 and hold out for a domestic distribution. That will be costly, so I won’t even attempt it until next year.

Meanwhile, I’ll try to get these stories published and let you know if I have any luck.

As for Grant Scotland… Well, if you’ve been following the series at all, then you already know he doesn’t let a little thing like lack of dough get in the way of setting the world to rights. Some friends have insisted Grant is me and I’ve resisted the comparison. After all, ALL of the characters are me. How could they not be? But, right now they’re more right than they know. I may have gotten knocked around a bit (again) but as the wise ones say “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

 

 

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“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” – Wise Ones

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$1.99 for The Unlikely Spy

For a limited time only! Actually, a very limited time. Like, just for today.

I actually began the $1.99 promo on Monday with a spot on BookBub’s International Distribution newsletter. I remembered to update the Grant Scotland Facebook community page, but not the blog. I sometimes forget that although the two crowds overlap considerably, they don’t overlap completely.

Anyway, the sale was supposed to end today, but I decided to extend it for one more day because of my gaff. Sorry about that. For those who have been following my (mis)adventures in self-publishing, it should be abundantly clear by now that my sales/marketing skills leave much to be desired.

Nonetheless, I persist.

So, by around about this time tomorrow the omnibus of the first three Grant Scotland e-books, The Unlikely Spy (an e-omnibus?), will go back up to $8.99 across all markets. So don’t delay! If you still haven’t checked out this fun, exciting and humorous fantasy adventure series then now is a great time to dive in and get caught up!

And how did the BookBub promotion go, you might ask?

Welllllll… we’ll talk about that next week. I promise. For now, if you’re a New Englander like me, today is a great day to burrow under some blankets and get some reading done.

 

 

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“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

Review your book, tip your server.

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A Sort of Roundup

I don’t usually do roundup type posts, but I have a few things to tell you about and none of them I felt I could stretch to fill an entire post, so I thought I’d rope them all together and herd them into a corral somewhere on this imaginary dude ranch I call a blog. So, giddy-up those little piggies. Do pigs giddy-up? I told you, I’m no expert at roundups.

Today is the last full day of Obama’s presidency and I hope he does something weird with it, like fill the Oval Office with testicle-shaped balloons or put glue in the First Stapler. You know, just go crazy with it. But seriously, I’ll miss the guy. I’m split about whether or not he was a great president, but he represented the USA very well with his style, grace and gravitas. Although his foreign policy left a lot to be desired and he spent most of his first term struggling with a muddied domestic message, history I think will be very kind to him based on the ACA alone. Yes, it’s a deeply troubled piece of legislation, but it’s the first of its kind and it took serious balls to get that thing passed and then defend it like it was the Alamo. Hopefully, the once impossible dream of national healthcare will remain a reality and will survive and evolve into something we can all be proud of. No matter who else in the future tries to put their name to it, it’ll always be to his credit in my mind.

Thanks, Obama.

 

obama_wave

“No problem. Be good. I’m outta here… I’m taking the jet with me, though. Trump’s got his own. He won’t mind.”

 

In other news, guess who landed a promo-spot on BookBub? ME! Yes, the most influential and successful email marketer of e-books finally selected my Grant Scotland omnibus, The Unlikely Spy, for a spot on their daily newsletter. As most of you probably know, I’ve performed several painful experiments over the past couple of years with other email marketers and came to the conclusion (along with basically every other self and traditionally published author) that BookBub is the only one truly worth it. The entrance price is steep, but everyone who has ever been featured on their newsletter has received a decent return on investment as well as a huge increase in distribution, at least for the length of the promo at any rate. How did I do it? Well, I told them the omnibus would be discounted down to a crazy cheap $1.99 for a few days and would be offered on Nook, Kobo and Apple as well as Amazon. I think that’s the killer combo they like to see.

I’ll update the blog/Facebook page/Twitter etc when the deal goes live.

I made some New Year’s resolutions. I committed myself to writing two short stories and the next installment in the Grant Scotland series by year’s end. One story is almost finished and the other is about 30-40%. The next Scotland book is all just notes for now, but there are ALOT of notes.

Oh, and I resolved to lose weight. Again. Sweet treats, this is tough! Word of advice to anyone still in their thirties – start adopting healthier eating habits than you had in your twenties. Your waistline will thank you in your forties. Your wallet, too. You’ll save a TON of money on the number of forklifts needed to move your gigantic ass around.

 

“Morning, Dan! Where would you like me to place your left buttock?”

 

And finally, the Adventures of Grant Scotland blog tour rolls on! Today, we’re being featured at T’s Stuff. Stop by and read an excerpt from Greedy Villain and a brief interview. Each blog I stop at has a little different dose of excerpts, guest posts and interview questions, so be sure to check them all out. You can find a list of all the stops here. FYI – Some sites have switched dates so you might have to hunt around a bit. You can also find updated  links to all the stops as they happen on the Grant Scotland community page.

That’s it! Are you ready for tomorrow? Are you ready for the next four years? Things are about to get real interesting, that’s for sure.

 

jurassic-park-33-hold-on-to-your-butts1

 

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“When you’re going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Reviewing and tipping is loving.

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Grant Scotland on Tour!

That’s right! I’m taking The Adventures of Grant Scotland on a book tour! A virtual tour, that is. Online-like. Goddessfish Promotions has teemed with all of us (me) here at Dan McClure Publishing (the back office of my apartment) to launch the Grant Scotland franchise into the blogoshere.

For the next few months you’ll be seeing my books everywhere (not available in some locations) on the internet. So be sure to stay tuned to what’s happening both here and on all the sites that will be advertising and talking about the series. If you comment on the conversation on the participating blogs, you are automatically entered to win an Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Goddessfish!

I’ll list the sites and the tour dates that are currently booked below, but be sure to follow Adventures of Grant Scotland Facebook page and Twitter handle to get the most up-to-date tour info and links.

December 27: Books,Dreams,Life
December 29: Christine Young
January 3: The Avid Reader
January 5: Fabulous and Brunette
January 10: Kit ‘N Kabookle
January 12: Writers and Authors
January 17: Lilac Reviews
January 19: T’s Stuff
January 24: BooksChatter
January 26: Book Lover Promo
January 31: Sharing Links and Wisdom
February 2: Independent Authors
February 7: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
February 9: Edgar’s Books
February 14: Readeropolis
February 16: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
February 21: Lynn Crandall
February 23: Dina Rae’s Write Stuff
February 28: CBY Book Club
March 1: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
March 6: Hearts and Scribbles
March 8: Tina Donahue Books
March 13: Welcome to My World of Dreams
March 15: Reviews by Crystal
March 20: Book Giveaways
March 22: Queen of All She Reads
March 27: Am Kinda Busy Reading!
March 29: Harlie’s Books
April 3: Natural Bri
April 5: Long and Short Reviews

 

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The tour will be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it. There’s plenty of fun interviews, blog posts and book excerpts, so be sure to check out all the stops!

Prevent any further premature celebrity deaths – write reviews and give tips.

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We Are Now In Over Our Heads (In Bullshit)

 

A few years ago I heard about this guy who wrote a book (or perhaps philosophical treatise is the better word) on the subject of bullshit. His name is Harry G. Frankfurt and he appropriately titled the work “On Bullshit.” I didn’t read it – reading philosophy makes my head spin – but I’ve heard him talk about it a few times. It’s interesting stuff. The videos aren’t long, so if you’ve got 15-20 minutes, you should check them out.

Bullshit has been on the rise ever since the invention of mass media and the mastery of advertising over that platform. Until recently, it seemed mostly confined to people just trying to sell you something (whether it be a product or an idea), so it was possible – admittedly with some difficulty – to avoid stepping in any if you were savvy enough. The truth, after all, would win out. You just had to be patient or diligent or both.

But at some point bullshit started to creep past the levees of truth and began to slowly engulf other aspects of our society besides marketing and politics. Bullshit began to affect the way we interact with the world and not just the salespersons in it. In order to get a job, just as one example, it no longer is enough to be qualified and professional and somehow manage to not make inappropriate comments and lewd gestures during the interview. No! Now, you have to sell yourself. You have to push your brand.

 

"Why eat someone else's bullshit when you can sell them your own?"

“Why eat someone else’s bullshit when you can sell them your own?”

 

And after a hard day at work of continually selling yourself to your coworkers and bosses, you come home and watch TV shows that are no longer reliably fictitious and news that is no longer reliable at all. Sure, movies and TV have always been bullshit, but they never pretended to be otherwise. Now, however, we have Reality TV! That’s right! Entertainment has taken to bullshitting you about being bullshit!

As the level of bullshit rose even higher during this past campaign season, most people retreated to their echo chamber safe spaces so they’d only have to smell their own bullshit. But the bullshit level didn’t stagnate, as perhaps many of us hoped it would. Instead, it has finally overwhelmed us. We no longer can tell the difference between truth and fiction. Our comedy is our news and our news is our entertainment. This has become so much the case that we actually demand more truth in our comedy and less truth in our news.

Those links are worth checking out and considering. What have we done to ourselves that we feel we need to criticize a comedy sketch for not being factual enough? Why are we at the point where a man is so disturbed by what he has been told is true that he takes a rifle into a pizza shop to investigate fictitious reports of a child sex ring? Just how far down the rabbit hole have we tumbled? Is there yet further to go?

 

If we are Alice in this metaphor, we have to be wondering if this is a rabbit hole or a bull's... ummm... hole.

If we are Alice in this metaphor, we have to be wondering if this is a rabbit hole or a bull’s… ummm… hole.

 

People say education is the silver bullet to all the ills of the world. It’s not. Curiosity is the cure. You can’t force someone to learn. They have to be curious. A guy wrote a great piece about all of this talk about people living in “bubbles.” The only bubbles we really need to be worried about are the bubbles of the incurious. In a way, I respect that guy with the rifle. He didn’t harm anyone and indeed seemed intent on not harming anyone who wasn’t obviously raping children. What’s more, he took it upon himself to be curious enough to see with his own eyes. Obviously, I don’t think he should have discharged his weapon at all (nor even carried it into a pizza shop) but since he didn’t harm anyone and didn’t fire until people had fled, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Way to go, Clearly Misguided Dude. Keep on looking for the truth. Except, next time just leave the rifle at home when doing the reconnaissance work, OK? Only Patton was allowed to do a reconnaissance in force. Save the artillery for when the enemy has been located.

 

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I know I promised a Notes from the Self-Pubbed, but it turns out I was just bullshitting you. HA! Actually, I decided I’d hold off on doing another one until after the blog tour so we can get some comprehensive ROI data. Oh yeah! The blog tour! It starts in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Don’t be afraid to contribute to the conversation, but don’t neglect the truth.

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Here’s What I Meant To Say

So, I had this big long post about the election ready to go and for some reason I couldn’t hit the publish button. It was a brilliant evisceration of the left’s nauseating tendency towards self-flagellation after any setback and a biting attack on the right’s hypocritical new “only the government can give me a job” stance. But, although it felt great to write it all down, I could not bring myself to post it.

 

With this button, I thee publish... Actually, let's just take a moment and think about this.

With this button, I thee publish… Actually, let’s just take a moment and think about this.

 

That’s because I realized that this isn’t a political blog, so I owe it to you and to me to stay focused on my writing, my career and the self-publishing/publishing industry. Also, it’s clear to me that several people have already published the things I wanted to say and expressed them much better than I did. Much of my post went too far and was too angry. I lost focus on the thing I really wanted to express, which was simply: Don’t stop caring about what’s important to you and don’t let internet soundbytes that pass along ridiculous generalizations bait you into the trap of contributing to the machinery of fear and hate.

I lost that message in my gigantic, forever-to-be-hidden manifesto. I’ll keep this version of the manifesto short, but I decided I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least communicate that message in response to everything that is going on.

My message is for everyone, on the left and the right. Please stop thinking government is the solution to all the problems of the world. You’re putting way too much pressure on a body of very fallible humans. Seriously, they aren’t lizard people. They’re just like you and me and they are not a monolithic organization. Additionally, some things people hate about the federal government are actually things their state government is responsible for and most people seem to not realize it. Speaking of which, do not excuse ignorance. Let’s not start cozying up to people who disregard facts and disdain intelligence. Some of the bloodiest revolutions in history that lead to nothing but repressive regimes were started by marginalizing and killing off the intellectual elite.

Finally, stay focused on what’s in front of you. Don’t be lazy and shout slogans at groups of cops or bodies of protesters. If someone has done you wrong, then find them and start a dialog about how to fix it. Use a lawyer if you have to, we have plenty of them. If no one has harmed you, only offended you, then ignore them. You’ve got more important things to do in your life than to let someone get under your skin. If someone has harmed a friend of yours and they’re afraid to stand up for themselves to seek justice, then go stand with them. It’s likely that you won’t ever be a victim, but it’s perhaps equally likely someone you know will be. Offer to help in whatever way you can.

It really does not need to be more complicated than that. If you see something on the internet that upsets you and you feel like you need to respond to it, then take the time to research it and figure out the appropriate course of action. Maybe you can write to your representative or maybe you can send money or even volunteer. But, if you feel like the best course of action is to comment on a thread somewhere, just be advised that no evil was ever righted by forwarding a meme.

 

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Okay, that’s good enough. I think that sums up the best of what I had to say. I’ll do you all a favor and save the worst of what I had to say for myself.

Do the write thing!

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