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NY Times Bestseller At Last!

November 20, 2014 1 comment

Yesterday the bundle, A Kiss of Christmas Magic, was listed on the NY Times bestseller list at spot #11. It pegged #31 on the USA Today bestseller list. For those that follow this blog, my newsletter, or website / Facebook page, you might remember the second longest story in that bundle is by Dawn Michelle. Dawn Michelle happens to be the name my wife and I write under (and it’s also her name, if you want to get technical). So, in a roundabout way, that means after five years of being a professional writer, I’m finally a NY Times bestselling author. Queue up the confetti, sirens, parade, and line of celebratory cocktails.

Then I checked my daily sales this morning. On the same day I sold 19 books and Dawn Michelle sold 4. How’s that for taking the wind out of my sails? Or sales…whichever spelling you prefer (see what I did there?)

I have to say that, hands down, the group of writers I worked with where fun, amazing, and professional. Well, a few times we might not have been professional, but it was in a fun and energizing sort of way. The point is, every one of them deserves it, and every one of them is a damn fine writer on their own merits.

What the process also told me is that being a great writer isn’t nearly enough. I always believed that if you write a good book, and write enough of them, the volume and quality of work will speak for itself. The readers and sales will come. Life will be good. After nearly writing 70 books and receiving a lot of outstanding reviews and praise, I’m here to say that enough isn’t enough.

To hit the list we needed the combined might of a whole lot of fan bases, first and foremost. Some of the authors have dedicated fans in numbers that left me staggering. I learned a LOT in the process, including the sheer masses of paranormal romance readers that are out there. I mean…wow! There’s a lot.

But that wasn’t enough, we needed more. That more came in the form of literally thousands of dollars spent in advertising. I can’t begin to grasp where all of it went, but there was a lot of ads out there getting the word out. That was a huge contributer. It bumped us up to our peak of #15 on the Amazon bestselling chart (all paid books).

So this is me being happy and also warning fledgling writers out there. Sure, there will always be exceptions to the rule that skyrocket to the top for no reason other than right time, right place, right luck. The over 99.9999% of us have to bust our asses. It’s a business and there’s no such thing as fair play. Write your asses off and understand it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more to it than that. And if you’re like me without a budget for such extras, that means figuring it out and finding the time to do it yourself.

Good luck my friends – now that I’ve hit the NY Times list my plans are… write another book.

 

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.

Snuggling Up With a Naughty Nook to Read

November 11, 2014 Leave a comment

I was stricken by some inspiration last night to do some data mining. It happens every now and then, I’m a numbers and stats junkie. Hey, admitting I have a problem is the first step to overcoming it, right?

So anyhow, I focused on my 3rd quarter Smashwords results. I’ve been experimenting with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and trying to figure out the best way to reach the most people. Sales have taken an epic leap into a giant brown and smelly sinkhole, so every person reached is bigger than ever.

What I found was very interesting, to say the least. Over the July – September period, I made roughly $800 on iTunes. Whether that’s good or bad is irrelevant for this discussion. Why? Because Dawn Michelle, my wife, made $80 on iTunes in the same period. My theory behind that is iTunes customers prefer science fiction and fantasy over paranormal romance.

The next significant sales figures came from Barnes and Noble. For Jason Halstead (that’s me, in case you’re just joining), I had $0 sales at B&N via Smashwords. Not surprising, almost all of my B&N titles go directly through B&N. They work out to approximately $10 – $30 a month in royalties. Nothing to get excited about. Dawn Michelle, on the other hand, rocked well over $400 on B&N sales for that 3 month period!

There’s really only one conclusion I can draw from this data – Nook readers like smut! Okay, maybe that’s too rough. They like romance. Paranormal romance. With some spice. In other words…furry porn. (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

So what does this mean for me? Well, I’ve moved some of my titles over to strictly being on Amazon and taking part in KDP Select / KU to allow borrowing. It’s saved my bacon so far this month too. I haven’t seen sales this low in 3 years and I don’t know what the hell is going on, but KU borrows are making up for the lackluster sales by averaging 5 – 10 borrows a day. My wife’s books, on the other hand, have done better by being available on multiple venues (especially those naughty nook owners – god bless you folks!), so we’re going to make sure her new series stays as available as possible.

Her new series? It’s paranormal romance again – and the beta readers are saying it’s even better than the Claimed by the Beast series. It picks up after her story in A Kiss of Christmas Magic ($.99 bundle of over 1200 pages written by 20 different authors – it’s available as of today). And it continues the original Claimed by the Beast series by telling Beth’s story after the fur settles. Oh, and this time, instead of shifters, the focus is vampires.

I know, I know, a vampire romance…sigh. But she’s made good on her promise that there will be no sparkling.

Crap, the new series is called Blood Kissed, and the first book (First Kiss) is available for pre-order. Book 2 is called Forever Kiss and is in the editing stages now.

As for me? Book 2 in my Serpent’s War series, I’m shooting to have it out sometime in the Christmas – early January time frame. Even though sales have been abysmal for book 1, it’s a great story and I have to write it. And, hopefully, more people will get into it as time passes.

 

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.

Tools for the Neurotic Writer

Not so long ago Amazon came out with a new tool for writers. A reporting dashboard that shows close to real time sales of their books on KDP. It’s cool, I have to admit, and really helps see how things are unfolding in a meaningful way. Things like promotions, new releases, price changes, etc.. And it helps the neurotic writer that can’t help but check their sales constantly have the data at hand almost immediately.

Me, I got over the addiction to staring at numbers a long time ago. Now I still check regularly, but not for a narcotic buzz. I do it to track progress and have reliable data on what works and what doesn’t. It’s a constant ever-learning process too, so it’s important to know what’s going on. And, I’ll admit, there are times when a big surge will still make me giddy as a school girl. Although I can’t ever remember seeing a giddy school girl, you get the idea.

Last night we (myself and Dawn Michelle, my ravishing wife) released the fifth part of her Claimed by the Beast paranormal serial romance. This morning when I checked a few minutes ago to see if it had gained much traction I saw an amazing thing. Not only is it doing quite well so far, but for the first time in, like, ever we’ve sold more books today than we’ve given away as freebies. The difference is pretty minimal (9 books more sold), but I’ve never seen anything like that before. I don’t expect to see it again, honestly, but it’s pretty cool.

Why not? Well, I have multiple books that are free and the first one in Dawn’s Claimed by the Beast series is free also. Want to know more about them? Here’s the links:

Voidhawk

Wanted

Child of Fate

Isle of the Ape

Vitalis

Dark Earth

The Lost Girls

 

And here’s the cover and blurb from Dawn’s latest serial:

Claimed by the Beast - Part Five, by Dawn Michelle

The life of a teenage girl is never a simple thing. From drama to decisions made without considering the repercussions, Crystal has to live with the consequences. Her mistakes have cost her more than just a normal life, they’re threatening her friends and family as a savage monster stalks the people she loves.

Even her whirlwind romance is starting to fall apart around her, making her second guess herself. Is living the life she dreamed about worth the people that get hurt along the way? It’s a price that her enemies are only too happy to help her pay.

As for me, I’m nearly finished with Voidhawk – Broken Shards. After that I’ll help my wife with her next project, something that is related to the Claimed by the Beast series but is a historical paranormal serial romance (we’re trying to see how many genres we can hit at one time). Then I’ll be back writing more about Vitalis. Or at least that’s my plan so far…

 

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.

Be a Writer, They Said

February 22, 2014 1 comment

I’ve been an obnoxiously creative person since the earliest age I can remember. I played with Transformers and GI Joes way longer than my friends did and during my fragile and formative middle school years I found some like-minded fellows and took up playing Dungeons and Dragons. Good, old school D&D too, not the complicated stuff going on these days. 1st edition all the way.

I picked up writing somewhere along the way and found a passion for writing ridiculous stories. Teachers becoming evil and taking over the schools so that the students had to fight back to survive. Aliens, monsters, whatever. Who knew the concept would turn into Hollywood movies years later that I would never benefit from. :-(

I kept writing, having no clue what I was doing, only that I had to write and get my ideas out of my head and onto paper (or a computer screen). And so I sucked. But I didn’t know I sucked. My friends and family either didn’t know it or they wouldn’t tell me. So I kept on sucking. The places I submitted my stories to denied me time after time. Not hundreds or even dozens, but enough that I figured I must suck.

Then somebody saw past the suck and gave me a chance. I was hooked up with an editor and she let me know I sucked. But, and this is important, she also said there was hope beneath the crap. She helped me take that monumental first step to not sucking. And once the first step was taken, I was anxious to keep on climbing.

The great part is nobody told me how many steps I had to climb. Not just to write decent stories, but to have a snowballs chance in hell of having any commercial success in writing. To realizing my dream – being a writer full time. Well, I’m still not there, but I’m getting closer each day.

If I’d have known how long the odds are and how much work it takes, would I still do it? Probably. I’m thick headed like that though. The numbers I’ve been getting from my Amazon investigation via my web crawler tell me there are well over 2 million books out there. Sampling only 10,000 books, I see an average of 2 books per author. I believe that average is only amongst the more successful end of the spectrum. I’m willing to wager there are a LOT more 1 book writers than there are 2, 3, 5, 10, 40, or 100 book writers out there (even aggregated).

Okay, so, a conservative number at this point is 2.3 million books and 1 million writers. Yes, 1 million. According to my Amazon author rank, I’m around 4500 right now, which is down from previous days (down as in worse). Even with that number, if I were single and hadn’t racked up a ton of student loans and other bills, I could live off of my royalties. I’m neither single nor remotely close to debt free though, but let’s make a wild ass guess and say rank 6000 is the cut off for what’s possible for a frugal person to live off of. 6000 out of 1,000,000. Those are long odds, my friends (.6%). To be where I want to be I’m looking at around .25%.

I’ve published 46 books (47 comes out very soon). I have #48 and #49 on deck and I’m halfway through writing #50. And will those put me where I want to be? It’s possible, but unlikely. Maybe when I get to 60 or 80 books I’ll be there. Or maybe 100. Maybe more. It doesn’t matter, I’ll keep on writing because that’s what I do.

And that’s the moral of this blog article. If you’re not in it for the love of writing and the need to create, then you’re in for a long and very painful road. Success is very much measured by putting food on the table, but there are also intangibles that have to be measured. Are you successful if you’re miserable doing what you do? And are you willing to be miserable learning to get better every day for the time it takes you to rise into that .5% and better you need to be in?

This is not my way of discouraging would-be writers. This is my attempt to inform and to inspire. If you like writing, rejoice! You’ve got a lifetime of it ahead of you.

 

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.

Extra Author Earnings

February 16, 2014 Leave a comment

I talked about http://authorearnings.com in my last blog post and now I’m back to continue the story. I’ve talked to enough people to gain a little more understanding into the results. I edited my post to reflect that. Is the data flawed or skewed? That depends on what you’re looking for. It’s a snapshot of Amazon, nothing more. That’s a powerful thing and it’s a limited thing.

After all, Amazon is the biggest book retailer out there. They do more revenue in books than anyone else, including Barnes and Noble and all it’s brick and mortar stores. B&N may sell more print books, I honestly don’t know and haven’t looked to compare any numbers (if there are any available). Do all the other retailers, brick and mortar and web site, compare when put together against Amazon? I don’t know. Maybe, but I’m really not sure.

So why am I going on and on about this? Simple, I’ve joined the cause. I always thought about using a crawler to browse the web and see what I could get out of it. But I figured it would be pointless or too hard to manage otherwise somebody would have done it by now. Then Hugh and his Data Guy did it. My motto has always been if somebody else can do it, than so can I. So I did.

Last week I put together a web crawler and then over the weekend built up a parsing program to handle all the crawled pages. I’ve been through hundreds of gigs of data so far and I’m closing in on 7,000 books. That 7,000 is all over the place, I’m not aiming for the bestsellers. Having said that, the higher ranked books are easier to find. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a master at navigating Amazon’s website(s), so if anybody has any suggestions to help me crawl through more than bestseller lists I’d appreciate it.

My plan is to put it together when it makes sense (hopefully real soon) and make it available. With any luck I’ll be able to back up the author earnings data with this, or at least offer some different points of view to look at. Stay tuned, hopefully within the week. Trying to figure out by publisher is overwhelming, but a week ago so was the idea of doing any of this. The elephant gets eaten one bite at a time…

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.

Knights, Dragons, and Trolls – Oh My!

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Recently I went on a mini-campaign to brag up my new audiobook, Child of Fate. I encouraged people to check it out because it’s just so darn cool. But let’s be honest – I’m biased. I wrote the book and worked with somebody else who gave the characters an audible voice. I have a vested interest, both in pride and in financial terms.

So what if I took the money out of the equation? What if I said here you go, check it out for free and enjoy it as much as I have? Well, here’s your chance. I’ve got a bunch of free coupon codes available to download Child of Fate (the audiobook version) for free. The ebook already is free, so there’s no excuse not to snatch that up. Go here: http://www.audible.com/at/redeem and enter in a coupon code below.

Try it out and see if you like it. I can’t guarantee you will but I’d be amazed if you didn’t!

 

Child of Fate, by Jason Halstead

 1. H3RR64LDB6AS8
2. CSH9W7LAXUMQD
3. LKR8SD4U27BFE
4. D8B3GFJ56ZQEL
5. TCQX4BF3HFBCU
6. TD2KN22ZBBQYH
7. 56XAT75FGF64J
8. NZQLC5SSTFD4U
9. 5RAACBLBXAMD6
10. H2FJFBCWAP4XZ
11. XFAMQ5J22R47B
12. 8LEKUFZKNK6A7
13. 2H3MEPM3XYG3B
14. RC7QGR7ZG44H8
15. 9GFCPNBWST59J
16. HZZYYAD88WCAA
17. 7JBE8Z8NDTEFT
18. J62G34NPQRYPL
19. 3583KAZFSFYFW
20. Y4N72LPS9FQBS

 

If you try a code and it doesn’t work, move on to the next one and try again. These are usable one time only each, so the first twenty people to check it out are the “winners.” Oh, and the “Oh My” in the title of this post is not related or affiliated with George Takei nor his book in any way, shape, or form (not that I wouldn’t be proud to call him a friend if I were cool enough to be a blip on his radar, I just don’t want any confusion).

 

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.

Categories: Writing Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Definition of Insanity

November 25, 2013 Leave a comment

One of the more colorful definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I remember watching a guy in a meeting many years ago click on a link on a presentation and it kept breaking. So he kept trying it. I finally snapped and shouted that out to him. I think it amused the other people in the meeting. I hope.

I decided to take that to heart and instead of trying to coerce or woo readers of this blog into contacting me or leaving a comment, I’m just going to throw down some codes and first come first serve. The codes won’t give you unlimited lives or the ability to use any weapon imaginable against aliens that have landed and taken over South America, but they will allow you to hear about a new kind of alien life discovered in the future.

I’m referring to my latest audiobook that is available. Vitalis, as read by James Killavey, will knock your socks off. Jim is a great narrator and Vitalis, well, that’s just one heck of an awesome story. No, I’m not biased, why do you ask? ;-)

Jim and I are working on more audiobooks too, so keep checking back. I’ve got Traitor, read by Kate Udall, coming out soon and after that I have Child of Fate, narrated by Sean Wybrant, and Bounty, another book read by Jim Killavey to work through. I hope to get all of my books available in an audiobook format one day, but I write faster than we can get them produced, so it’s going to be a challenge. I’d call it job security except the security is only there if people buy them.

So, with that in mind, grab a code and check out Vitalis for free to see if you like the audiobook style. Then go gobble up as many more as you can! Please note that each code will only work once, so if the one you tried doesn’t work, try another. If none of them work that means you showed up too late. Feel free to contact me though, I have a couple more that were given to me – but once they’re all gone then I’m out and there’s nothing more I can do.

7XWWY252L7YGF
4NGMGTTAZ9C9D
2JMEB555QQ22G
GG63FZ5N3YJGA
WL9CH6GRFPEXC
T38EH8H576NLS
P5P3NA3X8G342
34J8ACL4ELL2D
HT3W7F76JJH23
STNTDK4F5MB2H
MWPWTH2E4TXA3
CRKX6MBXC7TKH
7XWDNDZD69NY7
CNW8NPCRYT6XE
PHNFCG6BQ8XK6

Bonus points if you know what code / game I was referring to above, but keep in mind that the points don’t count and everybody’s a winner.

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.

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