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Archive for January, 2012

I’m Reviewing Reviews

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

I just read a blog snippet off of a blog by a guy named The Passive Guy. He writes some of his own articles and captures bits and pieces from other useful blogs around the web each day. I’m not sure how he manages it all, to be honest, but I make no claim to technological blogging supremacy. The point is this piece of blog I read focused on writers reading reviews. It strongly opined that they should not do so.

The thought behind it is that when a writer finishes a project and publishes it, it’s like entering a child in a competition. If the kid fails we’re disappointed. If the kid is picked on by the parent sitting beside us we’re likely to throw a punch. That’s my kid, damn it, how dare you make fun of them?

I admit I followed the reviews on my books religiously for a while. Just like the writer in the blog, some of those reviews sting. I can take the sting if its thought out and makes sense, but some of the zingers are not. In some cases it’s a personal disagreement, which seems pointless to me. If you don’t like ‘X’ because you’re a vegetarian – don’t down rate it and bash the book for it, sheesh. It’s frustrating and infuriating, at time. At others it can be a kick in the pants that makes you challenge your desire to write anything longer than your name.

The things that writers need to remember is that I see a review posted between .1% and 1% of the time. Meaning for every 100 to 1000 copies sold, somebody posts a review. In my experience, both as a writer and as a consumer, people tend to be more motivated when something irks them. Anger is easily converted to energy and motivation, and that means quite often people are more likely to read a negative review then a positive one. Our news media thrives off of negative stories – as a culture we love watching a train wreck (e.g. reality TV shows).

My fellow writers, is your book still selling? Are there good reviews and ratings? Ignore the poorly written bad review that is entirely opinion based. Not everybody is going to like you. We can’t expect people to write a commendation that’s opinion based and not write a defamation as well. The best tactic I’ve found is to more or less ignore the reviews.

I still check from an eagle eye point of view, but I focus more on the ratings and number of reviews rather than the specific content. The emotional lurch that can consume me isn’t worth the hours of stewing and negative impact it has on my schedule. I get emails from people that love what I’ve written and want to know where and when they can get something else. That means the world to me. Those people and those kind words are what keep me going some days. Sales suffer from time to time but a simple kind word makes it seem insignificant. Knowing I affected one person in a positive way makes it all worth it.

As for the bad reviews? Screw ‘em. Don’t write a review focusing on the author of the book, write it for the book and for other readers. Picking on my son or daughter because you don’t like me doesn’t show what a thoughtful, intelligent, and morally superior the reader is.

And no, I didn’t write this because I received a bad review on one of my books! This was prompted entirely by the aforementioned blog post that I heartily agree with.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Do You Want To Live Forever?

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This post has nothing to do with the words were first immortalized by Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) before she leapt off the Tower of Set and was followed by Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in the original (and far superior) Conan the Barbarian movie.

This post is about me offering readers the opportunity to be immortalized as a character in one of my books! I can’t guarantee the role of said character, but at this point my intention is to make it a supporting character that is as true to the reader as possible. I say immortalized because I imagine my books will outlive any of us – they’re on the Internet after all!

James Patterson did something like this recently, except I believe there was money involved that went to charity. I’m also not sure if Mr. Patterson only used the name of the lucky lady who won or if there was more to it than that. My intent is to far beyond just a name. I want to try and keep it as true to you as possible, or as true to the person you explain yourself to be. That means this will require some work on my part and on yours, but I think it’s the kind of work that everybody yearns to do.

In an increasingly technological world we find ways to exist by being lonely islands floating in a busy ocean. We’re all so focused on living our own lives and achieving the goals we have for ourselves that we’ve lost a lot of human interaction. Even worse, we feel nobody can really understand who we are. This is my nickle and dime approach to fighting back against that separationism.

The opportunity here is something that I think we’d all really like. I’m offering to listen to you while you unload the things about yourself that you feel are misunderstood. Your fears, your concerns, and your triumphs. We all feel like there are things nobody understands about us – I’m one of “we” too. Here’s the chance to share those things with somebody who promises to listen. I can’t fix anybody, but I can let you unload and we’ll both come away better off because of it. And no, I’m not saying this is just for the winner, this is for anybody who wants to take part in this process.

So how do can you get hooked up with this cool opportunity? Easy! Just send me an email at jason@booksbyjason.com. Include in it your name and some details about yourself. You can focus on why I should pick you or you can vent about something that’s bothering you. I won’t attempt to solve your problems, but I will read what you write and respond to you. I’ll also be honored that you chose to share it with me, provided you don’t claim to be a Nigerian Princess that wants to offer me millions of dollars if I just give you my bank account information.

The book I’m working on presently is the sequel to Dark Earth, called Devil’s Icebox. There are plenty of opportunities for supporting characters in it so rest assured if you’re a man, woman, child, or something else altogether I can find a place for you in it!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Inside the Mind of a Writer

January 22, 2012 2 comments

I’m working on Devil’s Icebox, the sequel to my paranormal fantasy, Dark Earth. I know what I want to happen in the book, more or less, and already inside of the first 1400 words my main character surprised me and showed me she wasn’t who she thought she was. I was expecting a cruel and heartless witch (literally – she’s a witch), but come to find out she’s got a soft spot inside of her. The cruel and heartless part is still coming though…

So I’ve got my characters and I’ve got the story goal in mind, but it’s the little things in between I still need to figure out. I was wondering what various plot devices and complication I’d toss along the way. Rather than let those things develop at their own pace in the back of my head, I decided I wanted to speed things up a bit. I’ve got a serious schedule laid out for myself this year when it comes to writing. I’m over a month ahead at present with the early completion of the rough draft of Voidhawk – The White Lady (for those following me, yes, I finally settled on a name). I won’t be letting any moss grow on me though!

So, this post, where I brainstorm up some various ideas to complicate the story and my characters lives! I may use some or all of them, or perhaps I’ll use none of them. The general gist of the story is that a witch from Dark Earth has to come to our Earth through the portal in Lord Baxter’s realm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After that said witch needs to establish a new portal back to her homeland. Then help Lord Nelson (her ruler), launch an assault on our Earth. And don’t worry, I haven’t given the story away with that high level summary – I’ve got plenty of surprises cooked up and that’s without the possibilities below!

Cast:

Lord Gareth Nelson – ruler of a large realm between Lake Erie and most of eastern Ohio / some of Western Pennsylvania

Cassiopia – A witch and the main character from whom the story is told.

Gabriel – Lord Nelson’s right hand man, confidant, enforcer, and protector. He travels with Cassiopia as a bodyguard and to insure she doesn’t do anything inappropriate.

Gwendolyn – A very important person to Cassiopia and someone Lord Nelson has under lock and key to further insure his witch’s good behavior.

Possible scenes:

-An interlude with bandits along the road.

-Running into a camp of third party soldiers / mercs from another realm that seek to cause the new Lord Baxter problems.

-Possible interaction with Lord Baxter, his daughter (who is also coming into her power as a witch), and Lord Baxter’s romantic interest

-Culture shock on our Earth (what, you mean women don’t have to be abused and treated like second class citizens?!)

-Romantic interest / complication on Earth

-Criminal / violent incident on Earth (mugging, attempted murder or worse, bar fight, gang violence, etc.)

-Encounter with someone on Earth who has a touch of the gift (magic).

-Innocent campers / kids / hikers / whatever in the wrong place at the wrong time when attempting to establish the portal.

-Police interference on our Earth.

And the list goes on and on… but those are the ones I had time to think up and jot down. For those interested in the book this does not include the major scenes I’ve got already included in my head. I’m saving those for a surprise – these little snippets are just ideas that could very well influence the course of events through the book. My characters have a way of developing outside of my control. Especially this one, since Cassie already pulled a surprise move on me! I also encourage fans of the series (or people who’ve never heard of it) to respond to this post with any thoughts of their own. It wouldn’t be the first (nor the last) time I’ve included something in a book from a reader who contacted me.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Another Amazon Prime Experiment

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

In a recent post I both applauded the usefulness of the KOLL (Kindle Owners Lending Libary – I think) and challenged the usefulness of Amazon Prime to people who suffer from a lack of enough hours in the day.  None of that has changed from that post until this one, but I’m trying to figure out just what an author can get out it.

For me the greatness of KDP Select (the program through Kindle Publishing where an author enrolls his or her books in to the KOLL program) isn’t about the lending or the borrowing. It’s about the [limited] ability to manage promotions. Each title gets a 5 day collection of days that the book can be offered for free. These can be broken up into 5 separate days, a five day stint, or any combination of lesser time (in full day increments running from midnight PST to midnight PST). That helps books get visibility and exposure, and if everything else is lined up AND the book doesn’t suck, then it can help generate sales.

So with that in mind, I’m releasing the third book in my Vitalis series, Parasites. Parasites isn’t going free but it’s close at only $.99. New Beginnings, the book that started it all, will be free for both Thursday and Friday (January 19th and 20th). Grab it and check it out, it’s got some great reviews and it’s free, what more could you ask for? And after that’s over, you’ll surely want to know more about this undiscovered planet and how the survivors are making do, so check out The Colony and the brand new third installment: Parasites.

Parasites, book 3 in the Vitalis series by Jason Halstead

Parasites, book 3 in the Vitalis series by Jason Halstead

Parasites on Amazon (doesn’t that just sound cool?)

Parasites on Amazon UK

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Sex Sells on Amazon Prime

January 18, 2012 2 comments

I did it again – a bit of word play designed to humor me and strike a ring of truth. For others, it’s deserving of a facepalm. This time around I’m continuing my KDP Select free promotion experimentations. Sex Sells, one one lonely foray into the romance genre, is free today and tomorrow (January 18th and 19th) on Amazon. My wife assures me that calling it a romance isn’t exactly accurate, she thought it was something more likely to get the juices flowing for a reader – creative or otherwise.

I’ll admit, I seldom write about sex in my books. I may come close on occasion, but that’s a subject I prefer to leave up to the imagination. Describing carnal moments in detail takes the magic out of them. This particular book isn’t about sex, at least not directly. It’s about a lonely average guy trying to make a living without dealing with the consequences. When those same consequences smack him in the face (and worse), the real challenge begins. Add in some kidnapping, corruption, and dash of exhibitionism and you’ve got a unique book that is both entertaining and, ahem, fun.

Sex Sells, by Jason Halstead

Sex Sells, a romantica novel by Jason Halstead

Sex Sells on Amazon

Sex Sells on Amazon UK

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

KDP Select and Human Nature

January 17, 2012 4 comments

Those who know me will groan and realize they expected nothing less at my choice of titles and words. Those who don’t know me will groan anyhow (for the same reason). The Human Nature I’m referring to has nothing to do with our personalities and quirks. This Human Nature is a science fiction book I wrote a while back, but aside from some great reviews it’s never really taken off. Enter KDP Select and Amazon Prime…

I’ve got a blog post coming out in a couple of days about a new release that’s coming out this week (so stay tuned!). This particular experiment took place last week. Using the KDP Select promotions manager I keyed up Human Nature to run free for two days late last week (Friday and Saturday, I believe). I ‘sold’ a couple hundred copies of it. Since then it’s been selling at the regular price at a much improved rate and moving up the charts. At this early stage, it looks like a successful experiment.

There’s a downside though. That being the exclusivity Amazon requires in order to enroll in the KDP Select program. Just this morning I had an email from a reader in Australia who was looking for my books but was unable to get them because of her location and the fact that she doesn’t have a Kindle. I’m trying to help her figure out a way to do so, even if it means using the Kindle App for the PC and reading it on her computer. I’m not sure if Amazon is able to sell books in Australia. Shame on me for my ignorance, but I’m using this situation to eliminate that problem. In the meantime let me point out to my fellow writers that are considering KDP Select that it can be a double edged sword.

And for anyone who’s curious about the stand-alone novel, Human Nature, here’s the cover you click on to go check it out!

Human Nature, sci fi / romance by Jason Halstead

Human Nature, sci-fi / romance by Jason Halstead

Human Nature on Amazon

Human Nature on Amazon UK

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Amazon Prime: Am I Naive or Ignorant?

January 14, 2012 7 comments

I tossed a couple of my books into the KDP Select program back in December. KDP Select allows Amazon Prime members the opportunity to download a book for free and read it at their leisure, then check it back in when they’re finished so they can get another one (free). For each borrow against my books I get an even share of the $500,000 pool Amazon set aside. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending upon what that share is worth.

For December it worked out to be $1.70 per borrow. Considering the books I entered were $.99 books (every book in my Vitalis series is only $.99), if I sold a copy I would only receive $.35. Having them borrowed, on the other hand, was far more lucrative for me. Even better news, the program worked so well in December that Amazon upped the port to $700,000 in January of 2012.

Now the flip side – I had 9 copies of two books borrowed in December. 9 * 1.70 = $15.30. Nothing outstanding but I’ll take every penny I can get at this point. So far almost halfway through January I have 6 borrows. I also slipped two more books into being Amazon only – Human Nature and Sex Sells. No borrows on those yet, but It’s only been three days so far and those aren’t big selling books. I blame the cover art I have on them for starters. I’m told the books are great (I agree, but I’m biased). The other reason marketing tactics, I’ve never used any. Time to put an end to that!

That’s the other benefit for authors in the KDP Select program: promotions. I can schedule 1 – 5 days in a 90 day period for each book to be offered for free. How does that help sales? It slips the book to links where people can find and grab it, and the more people that grab it, the more lists it gets on. That’s exposure, and exposure is what sells books for a little feller like me.

Thus Human Nature has been available for free yesterday and today. I’ll probably try it again next month some time. Sex Sells I plan to have go free on Tuesday and Wednesday of the coming week (January 17 & 18). Not long after that I’ll run New Beginnings (in my Vitalis series) free for a day or two as well as a gimmick to help boost interest in the release of the third book in that series (Parasites). Parasites will also be in the KDP Select program, for the Amazon Prime readers out there.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, WTF is it? I’ll be honest, before KDP Select I had no idea. I live in my sheltered world writing, working, and picking up heavy weights. I don’t get out much and when I do it’s because I’ve been dragged (kicking and screaming) to the mall so my wife can go shopping. I did, however, get a Kindle Fire for Christmas. It’s neat, I really enjoy it and I wish it would have been available a few years ago when I suckered myself into buying my iPad. C’est la vie. Shoppers remorse aside, the Kindle Fire came with a month of free Amazon Prime membership. So I got to see what all the buzz was about.

I still don’t get it. I hear Prime members get free shipping. Great… I’m not selling enough books to do much in the way of shopping yet though. Okay, what about borrowing KDP Select books? I tried it and was surprised to see I can only borrow one book a month, even if I return it. Suddenly it seemed much less worth it to me. It began to make sense why I wasn’t getting more borrows on my books. It’s a work in progress though, both for me and, I’m sure, for Amazon. If there’s more cool features to being a Prime member I’d like to learn about those too. Until then I’ll keep experimenting with trying to get more exposure for my books.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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