As the author of several novels myself, as well as myriad works of non fiction, I know the struggle to write a tome worthy of the audience’s limited physical and mental shelf space. Luckily for me, the company I work at handed out Dan Ariely’s book with the strong recommendation to read and contemplate the ideas within. I can’t thank Kristy enough for lending me her copy. Months later, the man himself was on site for a few sessions where we conducted brainstorms around various business strategies and heard his input. These were insightful, not necessarily for the ideas he shared but the questions he asked. Fascinating stuff.
I’m in the ideas business. For years, I earned a living sharing my ideas, the proof of their worth and packaging them up under a label that encouraged the purchase by the target audience. Writing is no different. It might be fiction, fact or somewhere in between, but the core, root of a book is an idea. Does it spread? Does it grow? Does it spark your imagination to do better, bigger, more profound things which yield more satisfaction? Not every book should provoke you to do bigger, better more profound things. Some books are pure enjoyment, like an excellently prepared meal. Or an afternoon sailing lesson, despite the practicality of the learning, the only real goal to spend time with somebody you love.
Despite my successes in life, I realized a few years ago what I really want to do is inspire people, to motivate them and myself to dream a better future. Dan’s the kind of author that helped me see that, along with Malcom Gladwell, Scott Johnston, Seth Godin and others. Monetarily speaking in my profession, I can win any virtual pissing contest on a number of dimensions. Growing up finally I realize that money in and of itself, is meaningless. Influence, vision and ultimately trust…those are the currencies of the present and future.
A few days ago, I put my novella, The Vampire Hangover, on sale. The promotional price? Free – pay nothing, as long as you’re a member of Amazon Prime. My goal with this test was a few things:
- Figure out if people would want something for free, rather than 99 cents – they do, in spades.
- See how much demand, if there was increased demand, there would be – lots more, I’ll explain more in a moment
- Calculate how much exposure it would take to get more reviews – the only two I got were honest, “friend” or network reviews, by real people who read the book. However, it’s been a lot harder to get reviews from people I don’t know (at least virtually) than I would have thought.
The novella, sadly, was not selling any copies for the last few months. I realized today my error is, in large part, that I said I was working on a sequal with the same characters. However, that was last summer, I’ve made no progress and instead written other things. Well, there will be a sequal, it’ll be even more awesome and I’m happy to say that in two months, those who get the FREE ebook now, will be able to get the first half the sequal in a month. This will be a full length novel, over fifty thousand words when I’m finished. The novel is more than a quarter done already, revised and improved above and beyond what it was a few short months ago.
So if you want to get a free copy of the first half of my debut novel, Ninja Vampire Hunter, drop me a note via my Amazon page. The title is a work in progress, after doing some research, there was a cable TV show that may have had the same name. If this is an issue, it’ll be a different title – and if you have suggestions, I’m open to feedback. I figure if one person returned a FREE ebook (sorry) then the other people either were too lazy to read it (please read – it’s awesome) or they did, and just aren’t the type to review. That’s okay, but, if you review it, you’d be doing me a massively huge favor, I’d be forever indebted to you. If you can help me generate enough reviews, I’ll also figure out how to do an “auction” of sorts to insert a name of your choosing into the next novel. I can’t promise a leading character, but they will be part of a classic and comedic scene 😉
Tomorrow is the last day to get the ebook for free for the next few weeks…after that, it goes up in price to $2.99.
Three months and two weeks ago, I started on my first novella. The result was a mixture of relief, anxiety and angst while checking my Amazon sales stats daily. After publishing a second and uploading the pair to Barnes & Noble, I started checking the sales stats on both sites, truthfully, more often than is probably healthy for me. I’ve cut my Adsense / Analytics addiction down to once per day which makes sense, at least. When you’re only selling a handful of works per month, checking stats daily is OC/DC at best and at worst, counter-productive in the extreme. Distractions aside, I managed to finally finish off my third novella just yesterday and as I write, my amazing wife and business partner is finalizing the cover art. Did I mention she’s amazing?
What’s the optimal number of works to produce as an author?
Not my book, but I’m considering getting a copy of this one. I found it via my linkedin (thanks Robby Kwok) who posted it on twitter (or linkedin, not sure which, but the tracking code indicated a twitter referral to the Harvard Business Review). The blog post is here, it’s worth reading in it’s entirety really. Anybody who’s trying to accomplish new things or trying to get better at doing things could learn something by studying the habits of those people who get stuff done. Important stuff. I’m distracted right now by a number of new things. As a result, there is one very important thing not getting done, which has been weighing down on me a lot in the last few weeks. Continue reading
Having published two novellas of my own (one as me, one under a psuedonym) I feel like with a few dozen sales under my belt, the third and fourth novellas on their way, I can sympathize and understand a bit more about the personality that goes along with being an author. It’s just a hobby for me, a way to soothe an itch I’ve had since childhood and I get a kick out of thinking that what I’ve written was not only purchased but perhaps, enjoyed as well. This guy, I’ve never read, he swears a lot and is probably NSFW on his writing style alone. *However*, the fact that I’ve never read the term ‘penmonkey’ before today forced me to share some thoughts and link to his work. I was giggling over just the descriptions of his posts – the contents of the one I read half way through was also entertaining though, well, not the kind of language you want to use in front of collegues or family. Well, most familys at any rate.
What does being a penmonkey have to do with internet marketing, startups or technology?
Simple: a post I read on Andrew Chen’s blog at one point referenced, “programmer seeks business monkey,” as there has been a frequent (his term) lack of respect in business circles for those who produce code, eg, things along the lines of a tumblr blog I read about “Wharton MBA seeks code monkey.” The whole meme is very disrespectful to every part of an organization’s staff, for many reasons. It does use some lightheartedness to explore the issue and remind us all that it’s a synergistic relationship we have with each other in a team, whether part of a larger organization or small one. You can’t build a great service with out “customer care monkeys” nor can you sell product without “sales monkeys” nor can the website exist in the first place without those “business monkeys” who put together the whole thing in the first place, whether they lacked engineering chops or not.
First a bit of a backgrounder. Then I’ll add more stats about the why’s and how’s of it all in a bit. Suffice to say my earliest childhood dream was to become a published author. A few weeks ago, Widhadh wrote and published a travel guide to Maldives. Imagine my surprise when the project took less than a few days and started selling in less than a week! As a result, I was determined to finally rekindle my love affair with telling stories.
After consulting with so many great companies for the past five years I realized that the part of the work I liked the most was the live presentations to larger teams. I could tell stories, make them laugh and generally feel like I gave them some entertainment as well as insight.
I wrote frantically and edited until the words were bleeding together in my face. I read my novella on the kindle myself, as a preview and then after a final edit by Widhadh, I uploaded it to Amazon.com. The novella is more than 25,000 words long and in print, would run over sixty-two pages. Here’s the description I wrote for the book on Amazon:
A fast paced action adventure story about Jay Williams, a college student who ignores most of his life outside of his martial arts classes. He drinks, he parties and generally skates by in a mediocre life. Until one day he wakes up to find himself in a duel with a master swordsman. After that he gets attacked by vampires, abused and beaten. And that’s just what happens before noon. Filled with action, romance and plot twists, The Vampire Hangover is an novella of more than sixty pages.
Buy The Vampire Hangover on Amazon, only .99 cents.