An Experiment in Book Promotion UPDATE

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Just a quick note to let folks know that I have included the first chapter of Matt Darst’s book FREAKS ANON as a free read in the back of my forthcoming IMMORTAL REMAINS. I’m a firm believer that authors need to help each other out as much as possible in order to get our books noticed. With that in mind, I’ve decided that henceforth, all my self-published books will include the cover art, summary and the first chapter of a recently released or forthcoming book of the same or similar genre as my novel from one or two different authors.

It’s a small thing, perhaps, but in this day and age of “one click self-publishing” it’s getting harder and harder for authors to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. Call it an experiment in book promotion. Who knows, maybe it will catch on with other authors.

Meantime, all three of us authors would love to see if this little experiment can get some traction. Click any of the titles below to order!

Onward!

FreaksAnonDigital IMMORTAL REMAINS (1)

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Kobo Customer Service Hell

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My son is posted to an armed forces base in New Brunswick and doesn’t have an internet connection. He’s got high wireless bills for his smart phone because Canada has some of the highest wireless rates in the galaxy. He’s got no wheels and there isn’t a lot to do on the base in your spare time. So … I bought him a Kobo Glo ereader on June 26th which was his birthday. And … I find out two days later in an email from Kobo that they don’t deliver to PO Box addresses. Never mind that nowhere on their website does it say they won’t deliver to PO Box addresses – see below:

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And so began my customer service hell story, of which, I am currently rotting away on Day 5.

I have been dealing with an offshore call center in the Caribbean where there is very broken English and miscommunication aplenty. First via their online app and then over the phone. Here is my transcript of my interaction on Thursday June 30th.

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I have told them repeatedly that my son doesn’t have a street address and there is no use mailing it to me because I live across the country. And in a bizarre exchange, the “manager” at their Caribbean call center told me after I asked what should I do that I should collect the e-reader for my son and hold it until he gets out of the army.

Yes. She actually said that. I even asked her to repeat it and those were her exact words.

I called yesterday. I am told my “ticket has been escalated to another level. I have no idea when or if I am going to get a refund and I am really fucking angry about this.

I just want my $158 back, That’s all I want. And now, five days after contacting Kobo’s customer service and more than a week after I ordered the product from their website, I still haven’t received a refund.

I am in customer service hell.

UPDATE 8:21 AM MTN, 5 JULY 2016:

Now this …

 

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UPDATE 9:21 AM MTN, 5 JULY 2016:

Refund being processed. Thank you, baby Jesus.

People, I cannot express to you enough in words how I now strongly STRONGLY recommend buying a Kindle. I don’t own one, but I will get one. I have been buying off Amazon for years and have never in my life experienced a customer service screw-up like my experience with Kobo. And I have to express my disappointment in Kobo as it is a Canadian company and as a Canadian, I kind of expect the company would have figured out how to take care of its customers better.

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What to do with POLTERGEEKS

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It’s been two years since Strange Chemistry Books went under and a host of authors were thrown into that terrible dark place we go when a publishing house closes its doors. A bunch found new homes for their books and a few tried their hands at self-publishing. It’s hard to get a new book deal for previously published material. I lucked out with my book THE NORTH which has been selling like crazy with new cover art and a new home at Severed Press.

I never did get to continue and eventually finish my Poltergeeks series because of Strange Chemistry’s closure. I was ready to pitch the third book to them when the end came.

I have a soft spot for Poltergeeks because it was my first kick at the can for YA and it was the book that landed me my first literary agent. It got me two trips to London with my wife. It introduced me to great people like Andy Robb, Sara Grant, Keren David, Katie Dale, Laura Heath, Sam Cook, S.F. Said, book bloggers aplenty. God, the list is enormous. I met so many great people and I possess a treasure trove of great memories from my visits to London that I wouldn’t exchange for a six figure deal from a Big 5 publishing house.

I got my rights back for both books and I want to get them back out there as new editions. Hell, I want to continue writing the series because Julie and Marcus’ tale isn’t over yet. I’m so pleased that many of my friends who wrote for Strange Chemistry are finding huge success two years later. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for everybody who was published there because I think that in the brief time Strange Chemistry existed, some of the finest young adult books ever … were published.

jamais vuBut it is now two years later and I have a decision to make. Do I self-publish both books and continue with the series or should I wait? I’ve contacted two very good Canadian publishers and inquired as to whether they might be interested in reading the books and considering reprints. Obviously I’m not going to self-publish until I’ve heard back, but it seems to me that both titles could be making me some money and right now they aren’t…. so there’s that.

And there are also the fans of the series. While both books were never anywhere near bestsellers, I had a small and loyal fan base. And in the two years since Strange Chemistry keeled over, I’ve been contacted by a few of them asking when the next book was coming out.

So … what to do with Poltergeeks? I guess I’m in a holding pattern until I hear back from the two publishing houses. No hurries. No worries. I’m currently writing a YA horror project entitled BLACK SKY for my agent. I’m self-pubbing IMMORTAL REMAINS in August.

But I feel that Poltergeeks isn’t over yet. There’s more to do. More to write. More adventures to come.

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Watching Brexit from afar …

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Last night, the UK decided to pull out of the EU.

It’s massive, it;s going to have far-reaching effects on everything from global trade, to security, to the price of milk at the corner store. I’m not from the UK but I have a lot of friends there and I’m concerned about how they are doing amid all the hand-wringing in the wake of last night’s vote. Believe it or not, I can identify with how a lot of folks across the Atlantic are feeling about this gravitational shift in the political and trade structure of Europe. Any Canadian over thirty can probably relate and here’s why: in the last 36 years, Canada has been brought to the edge of breaking apart via referendum, only in our case, it wasn’t a national one, it was provincial.

We are an officially bilingual country (French and English) made up originally of three dominant groups: the English. The French. The people who were here before the two aforementioned groups decided to claim the continent for themselves.

I was twelve when the Province of Quebec had its first referendum on leaving Canada inn 1980. I’m old enough to remember how it dominated headlines, given that it happened on the heels of a separatist provincial government coming into power in 1976. The Partis Quebecois existed then and still exists to get Quebeckers to leave Canada and we in the rest of Canada are always waiting for yet another referendum on separation. Because, you see, after the “no” side won in 1980, by 59.56% to 40.44% we had another referendum fifteen years later that, quite frankly, scared the living shit out of anyone who wants a united Canada that included Quebec.

It was close. It was nail-bitingly close. The “no” side won by a razor-thin margin: 50.58% to 49.42.  I remember watching the returns that night twenty-one years ago knowing that only a handful of votes tipping the scales to the yes side would have fundamentally changed Canada forever.

Here’s a sample of what I watched that night:

So, folks, I get what you are going through right now. All Canadians, probably better than most people completely freaking get it.

And if you’re really interested in our dalliance with breaking apart in 1995, here’s a fantastic documentary that spells everything out.

Brexit means a lot of things to a lot of people. Lots of opinions are flying across social media. Everybody is passionate about what happened. We now hear that Scotland will probably want a referendum similar to our 1995 Quebec referendum – and you guys just went through that.whole experience just two years ago.

Analyst Warren Kinsella has an excellent “winners and losers” posting here – it’s worth a read.

Here in Canada, separatism has simmered down for a while. But we know that one day there will likely be another referendum like the one in 1995. National Unity debating is Canada’s official hobby and for at least ten year’s it hasn’t reared its ugly head. We are right now knee-deep in finally addressing the longstanding concerns of our first nations people – the folks who were here before the French and English. I hope we can solve that. I hope that we can be unified here at home and I hope that across the ocean, people are going to take stock of what has happened and what it all means.

We Canadians know how you feel. Hang in there.

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Self-Publishing Pay It Forward Time: Authors Cross Promoting

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Book promotion isn’t exactly a precise science. Actually, scratch that: I don’t think anyone, including the Big 5 publishers really possess the secret elixir that makes a book take off and become a best seller.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am self-publishing my new book IMMORTAL REMAINS – A TIM REAPER NOVEL. The reasons for this decision are here, if you care to look so I won’ t get into them with this blog post. What I will say is that I’m trying to think out of the box when it comes to promoting this project. And since it is my eighth book, I am not exactly a stranger to the various methods of book promotion that authors are using these days. Here’s the big four methods that I’ve tried since my first novel was published six years ago:

Blog Tours: didn’t work for me. I didn’t see an uptick in sales. Ever. So I don’t recommend them.

Book Trailer: I made two. They didn’t work though they were fun to make.

Guest posts: Again, didn’t really work either because my posts were limited to the blog I was invited to write on. As well, there was the need to give away stuff which I dislike.

Free Giveaways: I have given away four Kindles, about one hundred copies of my books and other assorted junk over the years. Never again. Giveaways never once created an uptick in my sales and really, we authors make dirt money as it is. Scrimping together the cash to give away electronics in order to entice people to possibly read your book is dumb because the nature of social media being what it is, word travels about giveaways and they really become a chum bucket of free crap for people looking to get free crap. Huge waste of time and money. Never again.

I have also posted links to my work on social media but I’ve kind of stopped doing that because my feed is already filled with other authors (traditional, hybrid and 100% self-publishing) are doing the same thing. Add that to the traditional publishers clogging up social media feeds with links to their authors and you basically have what I like to call “book promo white noise”. Everybody is doing it. I doubt it translates into sales.

So I’m thinking outside the box this time and I had this crazy idea that every author out there has his/her own fan base. It seems to me that authors could kind of “pay it forward” by including something in a forthcoming book about another author’s existing or forthcoming book. (This assumes that authors actually want to cross promote. I think, personally, we could all be doing a better job of it, frankly.)

Anyway, I’m going to conduct an experiment. This past Monday evening I created a PHP page and added it to my website. It’s called SAMPLE MATCH. Here’s what it’s about:

What is Sample Match:

It’s a web forum where indie authors can connect with other indie authors with the overall goal of cross-promotion of each other’s novels.

How does it work?

Create a thread with the title of your book along with cover art, what the book is about, links to your website and how to contact you. When two authors connect, they can provide sample chapters of forthcoming or already published books where one or both authors can add sample chapters to a forthcoming book. Or you cold post someone’s cover art. Or whatever you both come up with.

Why Sample Match?

Because the issue of discoverability is the number one challenge facing indie authors. Amazon is the world’s bookstore. Kindle Direct Publishing allows anyone with an Internet connection to self publish a book in a matter of minutes. That means that it’s harder and harder to get noticed. Sample Match proposes that the best way to promote books is for authors to cross-promote within their fan-base. What better place to cross-promote than by adding a sample chapter of another author’s book complete with cover art as well as buying and social media links.

Does this cost anything?

No.

Why should I try it?

Why not? Book promotion is a massive challenge at the best of times. Authors are not competing against each other – we are all on the same side. We want to write. We want to increase our readership and make some money while we’re at it.

Will it work? Who the hell knows? It’s been live since Monday night and I’ve posted on Absolute Write and on Reddit. Nobody has jumped at it yet. So I will leave it live and see what transpires. In the meantime, I’m going to pay it forward right now. I’ve got a book coming out August 1st. I’m looking for two authors of a similar genre to connect with me on SAMPLE MATCH as I’d like to include a sample chapter from their existing or forthcoming book along with cover art. Might as well lead by example, right?

Maybe this will work. Maybe not. But it’s something new and different and I’m not clogging up the arteries of social media with links to my books. I’m not going to do blog tours which are useless and I sure as heck am not going to give away another Kindle.

Check out SAMPLE MATCH and check out my offer.

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