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Posts Tagged ‘bestseller’

Did Amazon Do Something Right?

January 27, 2013 10 comments

I was chatting via email to another writer the other day who was asking for some tips on getting his first book out there. The man was an English Lit professor and here he’s asking me for help with words. I found that ironic. But I shared what few tips I have. It boils down to writing a lot, accepting criticism, writing some more, making sure you find decent editors, and then doing some more writing.

I also touched on the reviewing process (part of the criticism speech) and how bad reviews can sink a book. I mentioned how Amazon is trying hard to eliminate bogus reviews, although they take some good ones along the way. I went on to talk about how my Vitalis series, when I sold them as novellas for $.99 a pop, were butchered by a couple of people that slammed them  in reviews because I was allegedly trying to abuse Amazon’s system and being greedy. Nevermind that the price for buying the Omnibus is the same as it was for buying all seven novella length stories.

I had a possible epiphany while writing that. I took my novellas off sale after the abuse I received for them. Prior to the hateful reviews they were ranked in the top 20 and top 10 in their categories (sci-fi). Was it possible the bad reviews were actually bogus reviews written by other writers? In some cases I even had identical reviews on multiple books from the same person! It got me wondering, with Amazon’s push to eliminate bogus reviews would my novellas possibly stand a chance of being popular again?

With that thought in mind, I’m going to re-release my Vitalis novellas. Book 1, New Beginnings, will remain free. The rest will be $.99. Here are the links if you’d like to check them out – or at least try the first one (it’s free!).

Vitalis books:

Episode 1: New Beginnings

Episode 2: The colony

Episode 3: Parasites

Episode 4: Screamer

Episode 5: Squatter’s Rights

Episode 6: Evolution

Episode 7: Matriarch

or the Vitalis Omnibus (parts 1 – 7)

Vitalis: Resurrection, the novel length sequel

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

Wanted… the Movie?

December 1, 2011 4 comments

I’ve had more than a few people tell me they can see Wanted being made into a movie (with Ice Princess sure to follow). Who am I to argue? I think it would be an awesome movie. Granted there may be a little confusion over the title, given the recent movie of the same name staring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. But hey, that’s negotiable! If you happen to know any screenwriters or have any contacts in Hollywood, send ‘em my way!

In the meantime there are some very important questions I need help with… just what actors / actresses would play the characters in Wanted? My wife suggested Anne Hathaway for Jessie. I’ve got a massive amount of respect for Anne Hathaway’s talent and skill and I’m sure she could pull it off. I’ll admit, I’d be more than a little star struck to meet her too. I’ve admired her ever since she got away from the goofy early Disney movies.

As for Carl, my wife’s vote is for Hugh Jackman. I like him – a lot – but I’m not sure he fits the image. He might, if he tapped into a little bit of the hostility for authority he displayed while playing Wolverine. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, might be a perfect fit for Carl, though he’d need some hair.

Tanya and Dustin…I’m at a loss for these guys. And of course the question remains as to whether or not our picks for Carl and Jessie are optimal or not. Sure, this is just a case of mental masturbation but hey, if you’ve read this far into it, you’re asking yourself the same questions!

Or, if you haven’t read the book yet, hop on over to Amazon and pick it up – it’s free and easy to find since it’s #1 on the Amazon list for science fiction / adventure free Kindle books!

Wanted, book 1, by Jason Halstead
Wanted, on Amazon

Wanted on Amazon UK (not free)

Wanted on Barnes and Noble (not free)

Wanted on Smashwords (free)

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.

Writing Outside of the Box

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I had somebody ask me a while back on this very blog if it was suicide for a writer to write in more than one genre. My feelings are that it should be quite the opposite, and here’s why.

I’m a science fiction writer, but my second most successful series is a fantasy series called Voidhawk. Granted, Voidhawk is a space fantasy, but I assure you there is little to no science to be found in it. I’ve also dabbled in a few other genres, including romance. Only once so far, but it was a fun experience and I may very well revisit it in the future. So with that said I clearly have no qualms about jumping genres. In fact many of my titles cross genres. I’m reckless like that. I’ve been known to let my veggies cross the line on my plate to mingle with my steak as well.

I believe in a story, whether its mine or not. The story, if it’s good, determines how enjoyable a read it is, not the genre or length. So you’ve got astronauts landing on a derelict space ship, neat. They stumble into a locked vault that hasn’t been opened in centuries? Cool. Their are giants entombed in the hold with the bodies of horses? Rock on! They just woke up and sank their fangs into the human astronauts, sucking out their blood and turning them into vampires? Um…sure, why not?

My stories aren’t quite that exotic. If I could find a way to make it work I wouldn’t be opposed to giving it a shot. I do have a series that starts with urban fantasy and jumps heavily into paranormal (Dark Earth). From there it continues to blend in science fiction and more paranormal (The Lost Girls, Voices), and also introduce a heavy dose of mystery / hard boiled detective (The Lost Girls, upcoming release of Traitor).

Readers are smart people. They know what they like and when they find it, they’ll read it. In most cases they’re not going to view a writer who strayed from their chosen genre as a traitor. In fact, it’s far more likely that they’re probably going to be more likely to step out of their own comfort zone and try something out of the ordinary because of it. I have a few readers who have told me that they’ve strayed into unfamiliar waters because they liked my writing style. The end result was them being excited at being introduced to a new genre.

Now if you’ve got a genre where you’re consistently nailing best sellers with each release it might be prudent to stick with it. Otherwise expand your horizons and branch out. Try something new, you’ll grow from it and more than likely grow your reader pool, rather than decrease 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.

A Readers Dilemma

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I spent some time in the waiting room at the hospital emergency room last night, then later in an actual room in the ER. I brought in my wife’s Kindle for something to pass the time and while browsing through the items on it I had a few discoveries. No, not discoveries like some great reads, rather discoveries that alarmed me. I had a hell of a time trying to find something worth reading! On the Kindle screen the cover is too small to see much of it, plus it’s black and white. The title was all that stood out. So other than a few searches I conducted I mostly browsed through the top 100 lists. I selected a few that found away to pique my interest and downloaded the samples of them to check them out. That’s when epiphany number two struck.

A lot of the books on the Amazon best selling lists suck! Oh sure, there are varying levels of suckage, and in some cases he story was interesting but just not enough to compensate for the errors in flow or the technique (or lack thereof) in which the story was told. I even checked out a story from a Twitter friend of mine and found it to be close, but still a disappointment. How is this happening?!

A lack of control is the answer. Self-publishing is taking the literary world by storm but I can see how the near obsolete publishing companies of old laughed at it initially. It’s hard to believe people will accept the quality found within these self-pubbed books compared to what they’ve grown up on in properly edited print versions. To be fair, some of the problems are conversion issues. Some. The rest…not so much.

And that led me to a moment of controlled anger. Why are these books ranked so highly when mine, which flow far better and have a much more polished look, languish in lower ranks. Am I saying my books are better than these bestselling top 100 lists? Yes, yes I am. Sure, I’m biased, but amongst 11 published titles my lowest review is a 3 and no, I don’t have my wife and family posting reviews for me.  If you don’t believe me I’ll accept that challenge and suggest you try out a couple of my books and compare them to other books in the top 100 list for the same genre. No, not the ones written by the famous NY Times bestselling authors that have been around for years, but the other indie authors out there.

As for how those other guys got on the top lists with only average work, the answer, clearly, is networking. Some of these authors must have people on tap ready to snatch them up in quantities necessary to propel them onto the lists and then, once there, the titles often take care of themselves. My experience with the Kindle proved that the easiest way to buy a book is via the top lists. If it’s not on there an author is fighting for table scraps.

No, I don’t have a suggestion for people to help them find books in a better way. Well, aside from typing my name into the search box, that is. :)  Seriously though, I’d advise readers when they find a writer they like to share the word and give them as much of a boost as they can to help them get up there. Without sales we lose heart (and the ability to pay bills), and that means we can’t write and publish as much since we’ll have to get a real job.

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

How to Advertise

September 29, 2011 3 comments

Happy news, I set a new record for sales this month. Two records, actually – I sold more copies of Wanted this month than ever before and on top of that, I doubled last months sales a day before the end of the month. Ah hell, how about the hat trick – Wanted also broke the 20,000 mark in “all sold books” on Amazon. A couple more sales and it’ll break 10,000 – hint, hint. :)

But this is about advertising. How’d I get to where I’m at? Wanted has two review on Amazon. Sure, they’re both good reviews, but only two. It’s got a striking cover. Not the best, but it’s good. I’m tried my best to make the Amazon page appealing…but again, it’s one of many. So why is it doing reasonably well?

Pricing maybe? I’ve got it at $.99 at the moment. Yes, that helps. But it doesn’t pull people in to look at it in the first place. That’s a combination of me doing my best to make it available as many places as possible, including Twitter.

Ah yes, Twitter. The marketing mecca of the 21st century. I’ve amassed roughly 5000 followers and I regularly send out tweets that promote my books. Not directly, typically. Usually I’m either throwing out a snippet from a review and suggesting people check it out because, damn it, I’m proud of what somebody said in that review. At other times if I think there’s a particularly catchy phrase in a book I’ll tweet that as well. One of the best catch phrases in Wanted, for example, is: “We’re all whores, darling,” he said. “I ain’t judging you, I just don’t care.” If that’s not cool I don’t know what is.

And, of course, if you’re going to give people a reason to check out something, give ‘em a link to do so! The easier you make it for someone, the greater the chance of generating that click. I’m a reader too and if I’ve got to do the extra work to find something like looking it up, odds are good you just lost me as a buyer. It’s not that I’m a prick, it’s that I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’m a busy man, and while my time is not any more valuable than yours is, it is valuable nonetheless. Treat your would-be readers with the same respect you want to be treated with and you’ll get a lot further.

I mentioned pride above. As in I’m proud of the reviews I’ve received. I don’t have a massive amount, but so far I don’t have a single bad review. Sure, I expect sooner or later I’m going to ruffle somebody’s feathers, but it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean I’m the next NY Times #1 Bestseller, nor that I’m a marketing genius. It just means I’m doing okay and connecting with the right people who like what I write. This is called targeting my market. I’m no wizard at it – in fact I’d say I’m more lucky than anything, but that luck is aided by trying to find people on Twitter to follow and tweet with who share my interests. Who wants the apple at the top of the tree when there’s one at the bottom that’s just as good and you don’t need a ladder? Pluck the low hanging fruit first!

More on pride. I’ll be honest (for those who don’t know me) and admit that I can be rather full of myself when it comes to a few areas. Weight lifting, in particular power lifting, is something I’ve excelled at (and suffered catastrophic injuries while doing). I figure that earns me the right to talk a little smack. My day job and many prior jobs and college degrees / certifications state that I’m an expert in the IT field, so I can roll my eyes with the best of them there too.

But writing? Writing is personal. Writing is pouring time and effort and life into something that comes entirely from inside. Every character has a part of me in it, and short of reality TV stars, who’s comfortable baring parts of their souls to complete strangers? So a positive review, a positive rating, or even a sale is nothing short of humbling. Every time somebody reaches out to me on Twitter, Facebook, my blog, my website, or via email and says they enjoyed what I wrote I’m filled with a warm fluffy feeling.

Maybe I haven’t become jaded yet, but I have a hard time seeing that ever get old. Reading a book is an investment not only in the money spent buying it but also in time. The time is generally for more valuable. Even at minimum wage a single hour would buy any of my ebooks. Reading them, on the other hand, will take considerably longer. If someone’s willing to spend that much time with a little piece of my soul and then come back and say, “Hey, good job, I really liked what I read!” Well, is there a better compliment to be found?

So to tie that back into the advertising aspect, do little things like this. Share with the world just how damned appreciative and amazed I am that they like what I’m doing. As Lady Gaga figured out, nothing is possible in this type of market with the fans. So for anybody who’s read one of my books or one day plans on it, my door’s open and, so long as you’re not a stalker who wants to wear a bodysuit made out of my skin, I’m always happy to talk.

And now another chance to check out Wanted because, well, it’s a fun book with a main character who reminds us all of how we’d like to act if only we could get away with it. Well, for the most part, Carl can! And when you’ve finished Wanted and have questions, head on back to find the sequel, Ice Princess!

Wanted, book 1 by Jason Halstead
Wanted, on Amazon
Ice Princess, 2nd book in Wanted series, by Jason Halstead
Ice Princess, on Amazon

What Makes a Bestseller?

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Every morning I wake up and do my morning rituals. Those consist of normal routine items and then I head downstairs, where I prepare 3 – 4 meals for myself throughout the day (not including dinner). Then, like a good little addict, I go to my computer and load up that Amazon publishing page to check out how my books did overnight. Secretly I’m hoping for that thrill of a a few additional sales, versus the letdown of no activity at all. Lately that thrill has been there more and more often. I read in a blog somewhere that someone described it as not so different from sitting at a slot machine pulling a lever and hoping for a score.

Well this morning I was shocked to see my sales had jumped a bit. I beat my previous record (set last month) and still have nine days to go in this month. Giddy with that rush of endorphins, I took the extra time to look at every book page I’ve got, curious as to their rankings. I was impressed. Not floating on air, mind you, but impressed. Then I got to the last window and had to reboot my brain. One of my books had climbed onto one of Amazon’s top 100 lists. As I understand it (I double checked to be sure), that’s a bestselling list. One of my books, a bestseller!

The book is Voidhawk, a blend of fantasy and science fiction (space opera or space fantasy, really). Voidhawk is the first in a series. I’ve got three of them written thus far and many more to come. In my opinion, each book is better than the one before it, but that’s just because of the things I learn as a writer every step of the way. Voidhawk was my first book I ever published back in 2009, though I retained full rights to it.

The secret? Beats the hell out of me! I’m blogging and writing it down as I go but until I can see if this persists I’m not going to mislead anyone. It could be an algorithmic fluke on Amazon’s part, or random luck on mine. I’ll take either, of course! When the dust settles if it continues to rise you can be sure I’ll be analyzing the data and sharing it.

Until then, why not go check out Voidhawk and see why people like it enough to elevate it to the top 100 list? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

Voidhawk, book 1 in a science fiction / fantasy series by Jason

Voidhawk - the book that started it all

Update: Voidhawk spent a couple of hours on the bestseller list then dropped off. I’ve tasted it and it was damn good before it was snatched away. Success in something so personal is not a thing that can be cast aside or turned off.

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