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The Universe Works in Mysterious Ways

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m willing to admit that I’m a little scared right now. Ever since Kindle Unlimited came out, my sales have been slipping more and more into the land where good books go to be forgotten. I’m terrible at promotion, I admit it, but my mantra has always been “write more books.” I’m good at that, and I’m closing in on having 70 titles out there now because of it. But with sales falling lower than they were in early 2012, it’s seems like that’s not enough.

The bundle my wife’s story was included in hit the NY Times and USA Bestseller lists (A Cold Winter’s Bite, found in A Kiss of Christmas Magic), but that happened thank to the hard work of a lot of people, as well as a sizeable marketing fun. I don’t have the same resources, so I have to fall back on writing once again.

That’s where the good news comes in. I was planning on writing book 2 in my Serpent’s War series next, but I’ve been smitten with another idea. That and Servant of the Serpent sold approximately 10 copies in the couple of months its been out now, so not many people are clamoring for book 2 yet. If you happen to be one of them, don’t worry – I will write it. Just not yet.

First I want to share my new idea and share my excitement with it. It’s science fiction, to start with, and it takes place roughly a hundred and fifty years in the future. We’ve made contact, you see, and that brought down a whole bunch of visitors.

 

War? Famine? Slavery? Bloodshed? Not exactly. Maybe not at all – I haven’t even considered the first contact story yet. I’m focused ahead of that a bit, after humanity has joined the space race utilizing alien technology. Humans are the minority, but we’re doing our best to catch up fast.

 

This particular story will pit a mixed crew on a mission to explore an undiscovered system in search of a mysterious coordinate. They aren’t exactly sure what they’ll find there, and the creature they are escorting isn’t willing to share.

 

What happens next? Well, that would be giving it away! Arthur C. Clark once set forth the thought that technology so advanced as to defy our understanding would be viewed as magic. To that end, I will say that with the inclusion of alien races and cultures, there is also going to be a fantasy element to the story. Or perhaps it’s merely a new dimension science has yet to uncover? Reality as we know it is going to take a serious twist.

 

Here there be monsters. In Space.

 

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.

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.

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.

Den of Sin

A subject like that implies decadence at the least, with possibly some hedonism and bloodshed mixed in. I suppose that’s not too far from the truth since this post is my attempt to advertise and advertisement. Once your head stops spinning, read on!

Today I’ve got a promotion going out over at Kindle Books and Tips for a book. It’s none other than the book J. Knight Bybee and I wrote together called Devil’s Island. Devil’s Island happens to be the first in the Fallen Angels series, and this promo is our attempt to both advertise the sale price of $.99 in conjunction with the new release of Devil’s Rising, book 2 in the series.

Given the book titles and the title of this blog post, you’ve probably got an idea about the books genre. Yes, there’s a load of occult and religious stuff going on. No excessive preaching or anything of the sort though. Our mission is to entertain, not to make you feel guilty.

And oh yeah, there’s all sorts of entertainment. I really had a lot of fun working on these books (and continuing the project on the next book in the series). So much character growth and development with characters that anyone can identify with.

But enough of me, already! Go check out the promo over at Kindle Book and Tips. Give this page, that page, or any other affiliated page a like to help us spread the word.

Book 1 of the Fallen Angles series by Jason Halstead and J. Knight Bybee

 

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.

 

The Price of Beauty

Our culture puts a premium on aesthetics. Sculpted figures, plucked eyebrows, laser depilliation, and cosmetic surgery. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and it makes a person wonder if it’s all worth it. The great news is, this post has NOTHING to do with any of that!

I’m a writer anxious to find any ethical means possible to sell my books. Part of that means having some outstanding cover art for them. By and large, I’ve surpassed that goal with everything I have. But sometimes there are exceptions to that rule. Exceptions that knock even my personal standards away… but more on that in a moment.

For my 50th title available for sale, I put together my fantasy series, Order of the Dragon. It consists of four books that continue the adventures of the characters in the Blades of Leander trilogy. This comes right after I put out a 4th book in my Wanted series, which meant my trilogy omnibus needed to be updated to a series. More cover art changes!

Willsin Rowe to the rescue! Not only did he make the minor changes to the text for Wanted, but he put into reality some work he’d been dabbling with for 3D style cover art. So now Wanted and the new Order of the Dragon boxed sets show some outstanding cover art! The only problem was the original Blades of Leander omnibus – how could we leave it plain and 2D? Willsin put his creative genius to work and a couple of days later he gave me my answer. A new 3D cover for all 3 of them!

But is a new cover art, no matter how amazing, reason enough to buy the book? Well, if you ask me and if it’s about my books – absolutely! But if not, then consider the great deal getting all of these top rated books at once is. How can you go wrong?

Wanted series boxed set, by Jason Halstead Blades of Leander trilogy, by Jason Halstead Order of the Dragon fantasy omnibus, by Jason Halstead

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.

 

Hoping for a Better Tomorrow

Mathew McConaughey won an Oscar the other night for his work in the movie, Dallas Buyers Club. This isn’t news at this point, so let’s move on to speech he gave. It was a speech that I found to be rather peculiar.

Mr. McConaughey rattled off three things that he needed every day. And then he ended the speech with a quote from Dazed and Confused, which I personally considered one of his finer roles. All in all though, the speech left me a little confused and wondering if he and Gary Busey have been spending a lot of time together.

I’m not here to discuss or judge the merits of that speech other than to draw attention to one of his three needs. He mentioned he needs someone to aspire to be. The target of that need is himself, 10 years in the future. It sounded a little cheesy to me in the speech, but the important part is the recognition of what potential the future holds and the fact that with hard work and hope can make for a great tomorrow.

For example, two days ago I would never have guess that my futuristic sci-fi book, Vitalis, would shoot from being in Amazon’s 18,000 – 19,000 ranking to being 2,412 this morning when I woke up. A book about the future with a bright future. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now my book and Mathew McConaughey have nothing in common beyond that tenuous line of logic, but if he wanted to pick a character to portray in a movie of the book, well, I would be open to talk about it. We could even call it the Vitalis Buyers Club…

Jokes aside, I’m very excited to see Vitalis doing so well. So I’m writing this, to try and convince other people to go and check it out and  share my excitement with me. Readers write me about the Vitalis books and I love discussing the story with them. In fact, there’s been a few times where I’ve had new ideas, twists, and even characters arise from those discussions. And for only $.99 for a novel that’s well beyond 100,000 words, how can you go wrong?

So please, give it a look and some honest consideration. Vitalis has metric tons of fast paced excitement involving pirates, aliens, a new world, insufficient resources (including clothing, in some cases), politics, intrigue, and even a few crazy people. And unlike a lot of sci-fi the science isn’t there to be the story, it’s there to sit in the background, be cool, and allow the story to take place. As a few readers have said, Vitalis is a great intro into a genre (sci-fi) that they never had any interest in before.

 

Bestselling sci-fi anthology, Vitalis, by Jason Halstead

Vitalis on Amazon

Vitalis on Amazon UK

 

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.

Is That a Roll of Quarters in My Pocket?

January 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Change. Some people love it, some people hate it. I’ve got a bunch of sliding around in my truck and I’m annoyed by it. I used to use it for vending machines at work, but the place I’m at now is a company that makes micro-markets. They’re pretty cool, you should check them out if you don’t know what they are.

You guessed it though, this post has nothing to do with vending machines. Or pocket change. Or anything resembling a roll of quarters in my pocket. It has to do with necessary changes to move ahead in life and do the things that need doing. In my case, the change involved switching my mailing list for my newsletter. I went from a simple text based email I wrote up every month and sent out via a group of people that had told me they wanted to get emails from me to a fancy mailing list program called Mailchimp.

I’m not getting any kickbacks from any of the links to these companies, mind you – I’m just trying to help anyone interested in learning more. With Mailchimp I have to say I was impressed. The setup was easy, as was importing my existing base of people that had signed up for my newsletter. I’m finding that it offers analytics that are pretty cool too – it helps me learn if I’m wasting my time or not. The answer is not, so that means I push ahead.

You’re possibly thinking that I’m an IT guy and a programmer at that. Of course setting up something is easy. Well let me tell you that I may be able to whip up some pretty cool stuff from time to time, but having to design something for this was not on the plate. I wanted quick and easy. And I got it at a price that was more than reasonable (my level of usage is free – how much more reasonable can you get?). So when I say it was easy I mean it.

So newsletter #1 went out and 40% of the addresses opened it. 3.8% clicked on something in the newsletter. Seem dismal? Well the industry average is 15.6% opening the mail and 1.8% clicking on something contained therein. That’s a win to me, but I’m one of those patient grind it out and achieve success through hard work kinds of people. If you prefer instant success then you probably don’t need to read my books or anybody else’s – you’re living in a fantasy land already!

So there’s nothing exciting about this blog, it’s just a bit of a public service announcement to fellow writers about something I found that seems pretty slick, easy, and affordable. What do I get out of it? Not a darn thing – unless you’re interested in being put on the newsletter mailing list and want to click here to sign up for it.

 

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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