Why I Read and Write Horror and Thriller Novels

Imagine this: I’m in line at some social function, standing next to a woman who is my mother’s age. We strike up a conversation, and she eventually asks what I do. “I’m a writer,” I say. Of course, she responds with “Oh? What kind of books do you write?” So I begin to describe my books and she hears words like paranormal, vampires, voodoo, demons, zombies… you get the idea. I watch her face turn from a pleasant smile to one of confusion, then to the verge of repulsion. I’m sure she was thinking that I look like a nice, reasonable guy, but somewhere in our conversation things took a turn from that course.

shocked-old-womanTruth is; I am a nice, reasonable guy. A nice reasonable guy who loves to read and write stories that take the reader away from cozy and comfortable, and to a place where life is more difficult and challenging. A place where danger awaits at every bend in the road, and vile creatures exist who have evil on their mind. A world where you have to stay on your toes to survive, and every breath could be your last.

Perhaps there remains in my DNA, some fragment that was passed on from my distant ancestors. Those ancestors who didn’t need a scary story to get their adrenaline pumping through their veins because a saber-toothed tiger just ate one of their clan. They saw it happen, and they know the beast is still nearby-and still on the hunt. Or from the ancestor who went to war with a horde of barbarians who knew no morals and killed and tortured for the sick thrill of conquest. No, those ancestors didn’t need a guy like me to make up stories to tell around the campfire. They lived in a time when being scared and wary was a way of life, and necessary to stay alive. Those who were not afraid in those times had a name – victims.

Saber-toothBut now things are different. We live in a civilized society, and for the most part, we lead pretty easy lives. We don’t have to walk the path in the forest gathering berries to survive, knowing the saber-tooth is nearby and still hungry. The horde of barbarians has gone the way of the mammoth, but we psychologically have replaced them with hordes of fictional zombies. We need something other than exercise to get our pulse rate up. We need an element of the unknown to keep us guessing, and second-guessing ourselves. We need something to scare us other than the price of gas. We need something for our brains to chew on, in which no answer is right, wrong, or even possible.

The lady I mentioned above will go on to tell me that she reads romance novels and poetry. She may mention that if I ever write a romance novel, she would be happy to read it.

Our conversation has lost a bit of the niceness it began with, but I tell her that I have written a romance story.

Her eyes brighten just a bit, and the smile returns to her face. Then I tell her that in my romance novel, the hero is battling an evil vampire who killed his fiancé, and if he kills the vampire he will free her soul from an existence in Purgatory. But the vampire is protected by a Voodoo Queen who controls an army of Zombies…

The confusion returns to her face, then to the verge of repulsion. She says it’s been nice talking to me, then turns to the person in front of her and starts another conversation, probably about romance novels and poetry. Another lady of about the same age taps me on the shoulder. “Do you really write books?” she asks.

Big Foot“Yep,” I reply. “But probably not the kind of books you read.” She goes on to tell me she’s a huge Stephen King fan, and here I was thinking she looked like a nice, reasonable woman. We hit it off, then we go on to talk about Aliens, Bigfoot and Werewolves.

 

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Does Quality eBook Formatting Really Matter?

Under the Dome

Under the Dome

As an Indie Author, I have become heavily involved in eBook formatting. I have spent many, many hours fretting over my eBook titles, making sure that my CSS is set up properly, making sure my Chapters start on a new eBook “page,” and pouring over my eBooks looking for anything that might have gone awry.

If you are an Indie author, I’m guessing that you too, have been there, done that.

Because I’m not (yet) a “Big-Time, NY Published Author,” I feel that I have to make sure I present my eBooks to the reader in a format that is pleasant to read, stable, and as perfect as the platform allows. I believe that ANY author should strive to offer the best formatting possible. If a reader notices or comments on the formatting of an eBook at all, chances are, you have a problem. Good, quality eBook formatting means that the formatting is “invisible” and it’s the story that stands out. Formatting problems will be noticed, and if there are many of them, they become a distraction to the reader taking the focus off the content.

I know this from experience—as both a reader and Indie author/eBook creator. I have purchased eBooks that were simply unreadable. The formatting problems were so overwhelming that I could not stay focused on the story, as I found myself trying to read around some inserted text that obviously should not have been there, or trying to follow the flow of text that ended in the middle of the line and picked up again halfway across the next line down.

Here’s the funny thing: I read many Indie published eBooks, as well as my share of Publisher-created eBooks, and in my experience, I see many of the worst formatting issues from “professional” publishers.

This seems odd to me, and brings up an eBook that I am currently reading, written by one of my favorite authors. The eBook is Stephen King’s, “Under the Dome,” published by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales, Inc (as listed on the Amazon Kindle page).

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. As I sit in my office writing this, I am 3 feet away from a bookshelf that is dedicated to this author and holds a hardcover copy of every novel and non-fiction book he has written. I had not yet read “Under the Dome,” and was looking forward to the experience. By the way, I paid $9.99 for the Kindle version of this eBook, definitely on the pricier side of what I normally buy, but hey—it’s Stephen King. And eBook pricing is a topic for another article…

Hyphenated

Hyphenated

As I began reading the eBook, I first noticed what I thought was some quirky spacing within the sentences. Then I noticed this pattern repeating itself. It appears that there was a space between words and the following punctuation marks, especially question marks and exclamation points. No biggie—it didn’t detract from my reading very much, but it did cause me to pause and wonder why this was happening. Then I ran across a hyphenated word in the middle of my eBook screen. There was no plausible explanation as to why this word was hyphenated, and there were many more of them as I progressed through the book. I also noticed in many cases it seemed like a paragraph break was missing, as dialog from different characters was  jumbled together, making it difficult to follow.

“Under the Dome,” is, by design, laid out in parts, chapters and sub-chapters. I have no problem with that, but it seems that major parts and chapters start on a new page, but the numbered sub-chapters do not, often causing a number to appear at the bottom of the screen I’m on, while the text starts on the next screen. Again, this is no biggie, and the book is readable even with the formatting issues I’ve described.

Broken Lines

Broken Lines

My gripe is that I paid $9.99 for this eBook, and it came from a Big Publisher (with Digital Sales, Inc. in the name no less) and the formatting has some issues. It looks to me like the publisher simply took an electronic document created for print (which would explain the hyphenated words) and then did a quick conversion to an eBook format without really spending anytime to check the results. The spacing issues and unnecessary hyphenation, as well as starting all chapters on a new page could have been done with little effort. Give me 15 minutes with that file and I’d have it fixed—worthy of Stephen King and making the $9.99 price tag more bearable.

I see poor formatting from professional publishers more often than I do from Indie authors. I’ve seen eBooks where the header and footer information, including page numbers, author name, and title are embedded in the flow of the content—page after page—showing up hundreds of times. I find this unacceptable, and will return eBooks formatted like this to Amazon, demanding my money back. When I see these kinds of formatting issues, I know that the publisher simply took the PDF file created for print, and blindly converted it into an eBook format, sans any quality control on the finished product.

In making ready to write this post, I visited the Under the Dome page on Amazon to see if anyone else complained about the formatting for this particular eBook. I did a quick search on the word formatting in the over 1,300 reviews, and found a number of reviews in which formatting was mentioned. Here’s an excerpt from my favorite:

As for Kindle formatting, the publishers must be smoking crack if they think readers will pay $16.99 for such a poorly formatted book (or for ANY eBook, for that matter, but that’s a discussion for another day…). I was completely shocked that such a huge, mainstream book had so many problems. From words that were clearly incorrectly scanned to missing paragraph breaks to basic misspellings, UTD had so many problems that it was actually distracting for me. It was confusing, trying to figure out where one speaker left off and another picked up because their comments weren’t broken down into separate paragraphs.

Apparently, the price of Under the Dome was reduced from $16.99 at some point, so being a little late to this one saved me $7.00.

I know that this Indie author—and thousands of others—spend countless hours making sure that the quality of the eBook they present to the reader is “professional” quality, and can compete with what the New York publishers are putting out there. If the Big Houses continue to put out shoddy eBooks, chalk up another advantage to the Indies.

Ripper's Revenge

Ripper's Revenge

I recently published an eBook titled “Ripper’s Revenge,” with co-author Shawn Weaver. I created a Kindle version, as well as a Nook version, each with appropriate links to my other titles on the respective sites. I checked and triple-checked the formatting, and poured over the results with considerable care.

The bottom line is this: If you rely on a simple “conversion” process to turn an electronic file into an eBook, chances are you will have formatting issues. In the realm of eBook creation, simple, fast and easy rarely equate to quality eBook creation.

In my humble opinion, eBooks need to be crafted, and require as much attention and knowledge as laying out a good quality print book. If you format your own eBooks, learn what makes them work, and what causes them to fail, and spend some time making sure your eBook formatting puts the focus on your story, not on the mistakes that are inherent in simple conversion process. The internet is full of great articles and support forums on eBook formatting.

At this point, I’m only 80% finished with Under the Dome, but I am enjoying it a great deal. As with virtually every Stephen King book I’ve read, not only is the story intriguing, but it’s a lesson on how to write great stories and keep the reader anxious for more. Thank you, Stephen, for another great story and writing lesson. Hopefully, your publisher and others will learn to put some effort into their eBook titles and create a digital product worthy of your ability.

Or, you might consider going Indie, and having some control over a finished product that has your name on it.

If this particular publisher reads any of the reviews for this eBook, I have to believe they know about the formatting issues. Why have they not addressed it? Is it apathy, or something else? Am I missing something here? Have you ever returned an eBook because of the formatting?  Would you?

Ebook Formatting – Part One – Overview

Ebooks

Creating Ebooks

I’ve been doing a lot of ebook formatting lately, and with each new project, there is a new lesson to learn, or a new barrier to cross. This has given me a lot to write about when it comes to ebook formatting, so I thought I would do an overview of the process, then cover some specific issues I have ran across recently.

Virtually every e-book reader platform utilizes some form of HTML as the programming language. Your goal then, in creating e-books, is to generate the cleanest HTML code possible that can be read by the largest number of devices – dependably. The method described below yields the cleanest, most robust HTML code that I have found.

The Genesis – every ebook in existence started in much the same way – an author recording his thoughts in some fashion. Regardless of whether that author initially wrote on paper, at some point, every ebook was entered into a word processor.

As a writer myself, I spend a lot of time in front of Microsoft Word, carefully crafting my story. I’ve been using Word for years, and I know a lot of the functionality that helps me save time and frustration when I’m writing. But once the story is written and it’s time to create an ebook, my time with Word is almost over.

There are a few good habits to remember when you are writing your book in Word, and a few things that you should avoid. My books will all become ebooks in the end, but I also create print books from my Word file. So, while I’m writing I have three goals in mind:

1) Finish the story

2) Have my Word file ready for ebook conversion

3) Have my Word file ready for print book production

When I’m writing, I do not concern myself at all with the formatting on the page. I set my line spacing to a comfortable level, set my view to page width, and I turn on “show non-printing characters” so I can see the symbols that are encoded into the document. To do so, click the “Pilcrow” button on the “Home” tab in the “Paragraph” section.

pilcrow

My only concern is that there is a paragraph return at the end of each paragraph, and of course, the rest of my punctuation is in place. Beyond that, I’m not concerned with page size, margins, headers, footers, page numbers, Chapter Headings, indents, or anything else.
(*A note on Indents – save yourself time and trouble by NOT using spaces or tabs to indent the first lines of your paragraphs. Word has a function to set this and it’s simple an consistent, as well as adjustable. Look it up…) 
That all comes later and will save me a ton of time if I ignore those things while writing the book. The only “formatting” thing I do is create a blank line before and after the chapter headings, just to create some white space around them, but even that is not necessary. Bottom line is – write the story and don’t worry about making it look pretty, or formatting it along the way.

When I’m finished writing, I’m going to check a few things. I have my copy of Word set up with all of my preferences and auto-correct features, but if I am formatting someone else’s work, I do the following:

  • Using Word’s “search and replace” feature, I’m going to find all occurrences of the double quote marks, (“) and replace them with double quote marks. I know it sounds silly, but this will invoke Word’s “Smart Quotes” feature and replace all double quote marks with proper curly quotes. I get a lot of books to convert that have a mix of quote mark styles, and this will make them all consistent – and – pay dividends in future steps.
  • I will do the same thing with single quote marks.
  • I will then type three periods in the “find” box, and a proper ellipsis in the “replace” box, then hit “replace all.” (There is an actual ellipsis character that is three dots… but when properly done, the dots cannot be separated and become a single character. This prevents the dots from separating one line to the next. Details in upcoming post.)
  • I will then “find” all — double dashes and “replace” with a proper “EM Dash” which is a single, longer dash.

Once this is done and I feel it’s ready for e-book and print book creation, I save two versions of my Word file. One will be called “My Story Ebook.docx” and the other will be called “My Story Print.docx” At this point, we have two versions of the same file, each of which will be formatted differently from this point forward.

I will create my e-book now, from the file designated for the e-book version.

With my e-book file open in Word, I’m going to prepare the text for creating a NEW e-book source file. This file will eventually be an HTML file, but NOT converted to HTML through Word. When word converts a file to HTML, you get a boatload of unnecessary “junk” code added to the HTML that just bogs things down and makes the HTML bloated and slow. What we are shooting for here is a “clean” HTML file, that is free of all the junk tags that Word adds to it. I will then “massage” this clean HTML to create a fully functional “source” file for further e-book conversion. This file will be free of all the formatting from Word, and will perform very well and dependably.

At this point, I’m going to urge you to read on here, but the details of this process have been covered very thoroughly by friend and fellow author Guido Henkel on his blog. Click here for specifics on this process, but I also urge you to read Guido’s entire series, titled “Take Pride in your e-book formatting.”  Read it. Study it. Get to understand it and you will be formatting like a pro.

If you took the time to read Guido’s excellent formatting articles, then you are up to speed. If not, I will continue with a high-level overview of the process, and include more details in future posts, expanding on some of the things I’ve learned from Guido, as well as a few things I’ve discovered on my own.

With Word still open, we are now going to add some HTML tags directly into our Word document, which we will then copy and paste into a programming editor. When we do this, we will lose ALL of the formatting created by Word – all italics, all bold, all headings, all indents – everything but the text. But don’t worry, it will be easier than you might think, and makes for a better e-book.

Again, this is covered in Part VI of Guido’s formatting series.

What we are going to do, is let Word’s powerful “find and replace” feature help us prepare the HTML we need and save a bunch of time, and preserve some of the desired formatting we want to retain. We are going to give Word’s “find” feature the task of finding all italic fonts, and wrap them with the italics HTML tags <i></i>

With the cursor in the Find Box, hit CTRL+i and Word will look for all instances of italic fonts.

find italics

find italics

In the replace box, we type;
<i>^&</i>
Then click “Replace All”

This is a set of HTML tags for italics, and between them is a wildcard search term that will look for all italic fonts and wrap them the the tags.

This will preserve the italics font style when we take this text into the HTML editor.

When you go looking at your text in Word, all cases of italics should now be wrapped in tags.

In Guido’s series, he suggests not wrapping bold text with the proper tags. <b></b>
He has a reason for this – which he explains in the series. Most novels do not make use of bold fonts, except in Chapter Headings. If the only bold text you have in your book are Chapter Headings, then follow Guido’s advice, and we will handle them differently. However, I have formatted a number of e-books that utilize bold fonts – in blurbs, in quotes, in references, etc. If you have bold text in your book, I suggest following the same procedure and wrapping them with tags now. Chapter headings will be handled differently anyway.

To find and wrap all bold text, type CTRL+b in the find box, and <b>^&</b> in the “replace with” box. Then click “Replace All.” Now all bold and italics are wrapped in tags, and ready for the programming / HTML editor.

Now, still in Word, select all text (the entire document) and copy it to the clipboard. It’s time to move to the programming editor and finish the work.

At Guido’s suggestion, (since I’m on a PC) I downloaded a copy of jEdit – a free programming editor that works nicely for this task. Download and install the program, if you haven’t already. You will also want to install an available plugin called “JTidy” which will do a lot of work for you with a single click.

In jEdit, open a new workspace/file. (File/New)

Now paste the entire text from your book into jEdit.

What you should see is that every paragraph of your book is on a single, long line. Don’t worry, in just a minute it will look fairly normal again. While it’s in this state, we need to identify each of those lines as a paragraph for the HTML file. To accomplish that, we will use the “search” features in jEdit. Here’s a close-up screenshot of how it should look:

jedit

jedit

Now we can quickly wrap all of these lines with HTML paragraph tags.

In jEdit, go to “search” on the menu.

Then click “find” in the drop-down menu.

This will open the “Find and Replace” dialog box, and you have a selection to make.

Below the main dialog window, you will see a series of check boxes for search options. We will want to click on the option for “Regular Expressions” for our next search string.

With the “Regular Expressions” box checked, we will now enter in a wildcard “search for:” string and “replace with:” search string.

In the  Search for: window, type ^(.+)$, and in the “replace with” box, type <p>$1</p>

Click on “Replace All” and each paragraph line is now wrapped with <p> tags so that HTML will recognize each paragraph as such.

The next step is to let jEdit know that we are working with an HTML file, so we need to wrap everything with the proper HTML identifiers. One click with the jTidy plugin will do the trick. On the jEdit menu, go to “plugins” and then select jTidy from the menu.

Search and Replace

Search and Replace

On the jTidy flyout, select “Tidy Current Buffer.”

This plugin now has placed the proper HTML code into the file, both above and below your ebook text.

jTidy has also done another task for us that is greatly beneficial: It has converted all special characters into “named entities.” This means that all double-quotes, single-quotes, ellipsis, em-dashes, and other special characters have an HTML name and are now embedded in your document. Using this technique yields the most dependable, cross-platform HTML file that you can create.

Next step is to save the file as HTML.

On the jEdit Menu, go to “file” and then “save as” and select a name and location for your file. Make sure to give it an HTML extension. The name should be “my story.html”

Once you hit save, you will notice another difference in the look of your jEdit file – all of the tags turn blue, and all of the names entities turn magenta. All of your HTML tags are in place, and everything is looking good and ready to make the last tweaks.

Now it’s time to create your CSS “styles” as Guido describes in Part VII of his series. Read that now if you haven’t already.

CSS styles can give you an incredible amount of control over how your ebook displays on various devices, and is well worth playing with and experimenting with to get your ebook just right. Guido does an excellent job explaining styles, and I will create another post to expand on what Guido has explained so well, with examples that I have used to make my ebook formatting the best it can be.

At this point, your HTML source file can be converted by a number of different methods into a number of formats. Again, that will be covered in a post coming soon.

~Donnie

Use E-book Technology as an Editing Tool

fast_N_easy

fast_N_easy

All authors are unique and have developed various ways of producing and editing their work. As a long-time e-book fanatic, I have developed a method of using e-books and e-book readers as an editing tool which speeds up and enhances my editing process.  It only takes minutes to set up, saves a ton of time, and allows me to edit virtually anywhere. It breaks up the process into “identifying issues” and then “fixing issues.” Waiting at the dentist’s office is now an opportunity to edit. Waiting for an oil change is another chance to make progress on my story. Downtime is now productive time, whether I’m in an airport or my easy chair.

I’m sure I’m not the only author who uses this method, although I haven’t heard of anyone else who uses it. I’ll share it with you, and you can decide if this method may yield benefits for the way you work.

I am currently editing the sequel to “Ripper’s Row,” which has a working title of “Ripper’s Revenge.” I just got the manuscript back from my co-author, Shawn Weaver, who has already applied his suggestions and edits. Now it’s my turn to read the story again and smooth it out even further before we send it to our editor, Magnolia Belle, and let her work her magic on it. Some of the Screen shots used are from my horror story, “The Hotel California.”

The story is in pretty decent shape at this point, and what I’m looking for are any inconsistencies, awkward sentences or dialog, spelloids, (my name for proper words used in the wrong context that spell-check won’t catch, like “from” instead of “form,”) and other mistakes that still exist in the manuscript.

The first thing I’m going to do, is quickly create an e-book from the Word document that Shawn sent me. It will take me about three minutes to convert the Word doc to an HTML doc, and using Mobipocket Creator, or Calibre (both free programs) I can turn it into a Kindle e-book and have it on my reading device in short order.

Once on my device, I can start reading and marking up the manuscript. At this point, my goal is NOT to fully edit the story on the reading device, but to make notes and highlights that will call attention to areas in the story that need my attention. Later, I will call these notes and highlights up on my PC where the real editing will take place, only much faster and better now that they have been identified and noted.

Android Touch Screen

Android Touch Screen

As I read the story and find flaws that need work, I have a couple of options. I can either use the “highlight” feature or the “note” feature built into the Kindle app for the reading device. I have also worked out a little system for making my marks on the manuscript that will benefit me later on. For instance, if I run across a comma that should not be there, or a missing comma, I highlight the word before and after where the comma should or should not be. Later, when I see two words highlighted together it means I have a misplaced or missing comma. If I run across an awkward sentence, I highlight the entire sentence. I know that sentence needs further attention. If I run across a “spelloid” I will highlight that single word.

If I find a flaw that requires a creative change, I will make a “note” in the e-book using that built-in feature. For instance, I may run across an inconsistency where I need to make a note like “Change POV,” or “Change Tense.” I will make that note at the beginning of the sentence or paragraph it pertains to. Notes can be short and simple, or can be more involved as in writing out an idea that would improve the story.

Using this method allows me to quickly identify problems and make a quick note if necessary, without breaking my stride in reading the story. This allows me to get a better perspective on how the story “flows” as well as identifying issues. After I have completed my reading and have made all my marks, it’s time to really edit, only faster and easier using e-book technology once again.

When I have finished my reading pass, I now have an e-book that is all marked up. There is now a file on my reading device that holds all of my notes and highlights. I connect my reading device to my laptop, and find all the files related to my e-book, and copy them to the “Kindle Content” folder on my PC.

Here is where my efforts will pay dividends. Now I open my marked-up e-book using the “Kindle for PC” application on my laptop. I open the e-book as if I am going to read it, and all of my notes and highlights are still intact.  With my e-book open, I can go to View on the menu, and click on “Show Notes and Marks.” This will open a pane on the right side of my screen, with a complete list of my notes and marks, and their location within the e-book! Clicking on any of these notes or marks will jump you directly to the e-book page they pertain to.

Kindle App

Kindle App

Now I will open my unedited document in Word, where I will make my changes while keeping the Kindle app open and running as well.

I’m lucky that I have two screens on my computer, so I will open Word on one screen, and the Kindle app on the other. On the Kindle app screen, I will click on a note or mark and identify the change that needs to be made. Using the “search” feature in Word, I will then type in a few words that appear near the note, and use them to find the same location in my Word document.  For instance, if the sentence that needs attention starts with “William ran across…”  then I will type those words into the “search” window and click “find.” Unless I use those same words over and over in my document, Word will take me right where I need to apply my edit. That’s when I make the required change, and then move on to the next note or mark, and then repeat the process. I type in just enough words to find the location in Word, which only takes a second or two.

If you don’t have the luxury of two screens, you can have both apps open and simply re-size the windows so that both apps are visible at the same time. However, I love having two screens, so consider doing that if you can. It really makes a difference in how I work and my productivity.

Dual Screens

Dual Screens

I have described how this process works for me using the Kindle app on my Android touch-screen phone and on my PC, but it should be adaptable to about any reading platform and device.

I have found this method to be very useful for the way I work. It allows me to escape from my “writing chair” for some portion of my work, while allowing me to concentrate on identifying issues in one step, then quickly finding and fixing them in another. Perhaps it will work for you as well.

So, that’s my process. If you happen to see me in an airport messing with my phone, don’t assume I’m playing “Angry Birds.” I might just be editing my next novel.

Big Week for Indie Writers

John Locke

John Locke

In the past week we have learned two significant things concerning the world of publishing; John Locke became the first Indie writer to sell a million ebooks on Amazon, and author J.K. Rowling is set to release her Harry Potter series as ebooks – from her own website!

First to John Locke and a million ebooks. Only eight authors in total have sold a million ebooks on Amazon, and John Locke is the first Indie author to do so. Soon after reaching this milestone, Locke released an ebook titled “How I sold a million eBooks in 5 Months,” for $4.99 on Amazon. (An amazing marketing opportunity, which he acknowledges in the book)

Well, I had to satisfy my curiosity, so I plunked down the $4.99 and purchased the ebook version. (Marketing strategy at work!) About 3 hours later, I had read the entire book. By reading the book, I felt I got to know John Locke a bit. John and I have never met, nor have we ever exchanged any email or gotten connected through social media. Through this book alone, I got a feeling for John’s determination and discovered him to be a very gifted strategist when it comes to selling things.

John describes his plan in detail in this book, and how the plan evolved that allowed him to become the first Indie author to reach this level of success. The main takeaway from this books was that his achievement was not an accident! It was a well thought-out plan, and John executed it with a degree of confidence that allowed him the success he envisioned.

I won’t go into details about the plan. If you are interested, my advice is to buy the book and hear about it from the man who thought it up, experimented with it and then made it successful. However, one of my favorite portions of the book is where John tells about what didn’t work  – and the things he tried prior to putting this plan into place.

I enjoyed this book, which in and of itself is a great marketing tool, and which John acknowledges within the pages. $4.99 will get you the story of how he sold a million ebooks, or $9.99 will get you a paperback copy.

Keep in mind that the title is NOT “How YOU can sell a million ebooks in 5 months.” To do that, you would have to approach the plan with the same determination and marketing savvy as John did. However, I think there is a lot of very useful information in the book, and all self-published authors would do well to put this in their knowledge bank and start collecting interest on it…

In other news relevant to Indie publishing, JK Rowling announced this week that she will be launching a new website called “Pottermore” and will be selling ebook versions of the Harry Potter series, along with other works, directly from her own website.  It is thought that the print publishers may have a small marketing role to play, and that retailers are in talks with the author to assure their e-book formats are covered. Details still yet to come.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling

Now this is really big news. The Harry Potter series has never been available in ebook form, so who knows how many readers new to the series will get involved with the ebook versions? And of course, with a fan base the size of Rowling’s, the possibilities are virtually endless. Just image the traffic that can be generated to a site where the Harry Potter books, much less the world of Potter and Hogwarts will be made available along with new works and other value-added materials?

Apparently, the ebook series will be available in various ebooks formats where customers can purchase and download directly from the site.

I say Kudos to JK Rowling. She has played the game with traditional publishing and has come out a big winner. Now she can leverage that success and see where a super-indie publishing can take this idea. I’m rooting for her, and waiting to see how the story plays out.

Ripper’s Row is Coming Soon!

Ripper’s Row  is a novella that I have co-written with author Shawn Weaver (Sense of Honor and Dragon’s Chest).  Shawn and I met last spring at a local book signing, and shortly thereafter had dinner together.  We discussed writing, publishing and marketing, and then hit on the idea of co-writing a short story.  Our intention was to write a short story and give it away as an ebook just to generate a little buzz and introduce us both to new readers.

We then kicked around some ideas through email, and eventually came up with a storyline that we both liked.  We got started, and within a short time, we were both in love with the story and realized it was going well beyond the short-story range in word count.

A couple of months later, we had a first draft of a novella that we titled “Ripper’s Row.”
Since that first draft was finished, we have both been working on editing and refining the story.  I’m happy to say that the final polish is being done now, and the novella is expected to be released around Halloween of 2010!  Just a few days away as of this writing.

I’m very excited about Ripper’s Row, and hope you will take a minute to click the links and check it out. If you like fast-paced scary thrillers – especially ones with unlikely heroes – the Ripper’s Row should be right up your alley.

TEETH by Timothy James Dean

The Bite done Right!

Teeth by Timothy James Dean

TEETH!

I just finished the novel TEETH by Timothy James Dean and was absolutely overwhelmed by the scope of this story. “Epic” may be too small a word to describe the adventure of a small party of military personnel sent on a rescue mission to the island’s interior during World War 2.
Things go terribly wrong as the mission gets underway, and the small team find themselves stranded among hostile enemy forces. Their initial escape only leads them to even more formidable foes, which include the island’s cannibal and headhunter tribes. But most intimidating of all, is “The Father,” a saltwater crocodile of immense size. The team encounters the Father many times as they follow the great river to the coast, where they hope to be rescued.
The author does an absolutely incredible job with every aspect of this book. The characters are so realistic that you will miss them when the story ends! His first-hand knowledge of the island and its inhabitants lend a level of realism rarely achieved in a novel. His descriptions are cinematic, and the action is fast. His treatment of the primary foe, the “Father,” is visceral and engaging, revealing in a very unique way the thoughts and motivations of the great beast in shocking detail.
This adventure tale reveals much about the honorable men involved, on all sides of this conflict. Perceived enemies can become allies when the common goal is survival. A love story also unfolds under the harsh reality of the world at war, and friendships are forged under the most demanding of circumstances.
My hat is off to Timothy James Dean, and I thank him here publicly for bringing this incredible story to the world. This book now ranks among my very favorites of all time, and I look forward to more from this gifted author.

If you have a spare moment and an Amazon account, please click this link and vote YES! that my Review of TEETH was helpful!