Books and Word of Mouth

You find a book, let’s say you randomly pick it up at the library while browsing the shelves for something new to read, or you do it at the bookstore, and its from a author that you never heard of, and more than likely, most people hadn’t heard of either, but the book’s description makes it sound like something you’d want to read. So you read it. You find that you enjoyed it so much, you tell your friends, family, co-workers, and others about it. Eventually, you read every book this author puts out. You might like some of the novels, you might dislike others, but this once unknown author to you now has a loyal reader all because you decided to try something new.

Or, like many others these days, you see a book mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, or on some message board somewhere online(unless its mentioned on TV and then its an instant bestseller, especially if Oprah mentions it), you ignore what seems like spam a few times, but one day you’re convinced to try it out. You read it, like it, and then tweet about it, like the book’s page on Amazon, like it enough to review it, and even share your new find on one of your many social networks. You do the whole digital word of mouth thing without going anywhere and your small amount of influence convinces others to take notice of those books, who influence others, and so on. Plus, you like the author so much, that you sign-up for the author’s newsletter or blog, follow them on Twitter, and join their Facebook page, where you buy every single novel hereafter.

For a lot of authors, Word of Mouth is the only way they find readers.

Here are a couple of ways to spread the word about a novel you enjoyed and helping the author out at the same time (which you’ve probably seen in one form or another on various authors’ blogs):

1. Mention the book online, like on Myspace (if you’re still there), Twitter,  Facebook, message boards, or wherever you frequent that allows you to mention books, and include a link to the store or author’s site.

2.  If you have Pinterest, create a board, like a “Favorite Books,” or “Book You Read Recently,” and link it to either the author’s site of store where you bought it from. The author might even be on Pinterest, so you could also follow their boards and “like” the book board they created for that particular book.

3. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, church members, etc through e-mail, phone, text, or talk to in person about the book. Include what you liked and why you think they might enjoy it. If you want, give them a copy of the paperback to read if you have a paperback copy, or even lend them the ebook version, depending on your e-Reader.

5. Leave a review on Amazon, B&N, or wherever you bought it from, you can even leave a review on all the sites if you want. If you’re on Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything, etc, you can leave a review there.

So reader, how have you been influenced to buy a book? Through Word of Mouth or by way of something else?

Potential novels, sequels, & other scribblings

When I started writing and publishing my works, I never thought I would publish more than maybe two novels. Well, now I’m up to eight novels, and setting to write my ninth. My goal this year was to write and publish at least two novels, and I did that, with three. I also thought I’d never write sequels or a series of novels in the same universe, but I have. I’m sure some wonder if I’m going to have any sequels to some of my older novels, and I’ve been asked, but right now, I don’t know. Here’s an update on my current novels and future works.

Out of Time It took me a long time to get this novel right, but I finally did. Anyway, I thought about writing a sequel, but at the moment, I have no idea where I’d want my time travelers to go. I did start to write something about Janet Erickson, the captain of the Einstein, but I got stuck after a page or two of writing. I have an idea of what I might want, but I’m not sure if it’s a novel length story, a novella, or a short story. If I get around to writing it out, I’ll see.

Don’t Mess With Earth – I actually sent a short story version of this in the mid-1990’s to the Writer’s of the Future contest, but got nowhere with it. I wrote a full length novel, but this is one of my stories that people either like or dislike, and I re-wrote it into a version of Shattered Earth, changing the beginning, and making the novel longer by over 25k words. I have been asked by 1 or 2 readers if I’m going to tell the story of the Ragnor after Earth destroys them for the most part, but I really don’t know. I wrote a page a year or so ago, but haven’t returned to it. We’ll see.

The Usurper – No sequel. I wrote this mostly to push buttons, and if you’ve seen some of the reviews I’ve received on Amazon, you’ll know that I did just that.

New Frontier & Final Frontier – Final Frontier is the sequel to New Frontier, so I’m not sure about another sequel. I might one day go back to Final Frontier to include a chapter or two near the end, because I glossed over what happened to the Soviet Starship Gagarin in one of the alternate timelines, but if I say more than that, it would be spoiling the story for those that haven’t read it.

My End Times Series of novels – The next novel I’m going to write is about the story of Michael Evans, starting with his grandfather, who I’ll have palling around with Hitler in WW2. The Evans’ will try to manipulate events from behind the scenes, get England to balk at giving Israel as much land as they were going to give them after the war, finance the enemies of Israel, start to interfere in American society, and have appearances by the grandparents of the main characters from Times of Trouble. How Evans finds David Collins and the Iranian, and how they manipulate events before the Tribulation. I think I’ll begin writing it in November, taking time to do a lot of research while I’m doing it, and possibly getting it finished in early 2013. I was also thinking of at least one young adult novel in the series, even though Times of Trial is kind of leaning towards that, since Greg and Laura are two of the main characters, and they’re teens, but I’ll just have to see how that works out.

As for short stories, I’ve come up with a few of those, but a lot of them are so different in genre, I don’t know if I should put those in a short story collection, but I will think about it. Next year, I want to publish at least three more novels, if possible.

New Frontier, new novel coming in early 2012

I’m currently working on the last couple of chapters of my new speculative fiction novel, which I call New Frontier. I’m expecting to be done sometime between the end of December to the end of January, barring unforseen circumstances of course.

The story originally started off with a prologue with the whole speech given by President Kennedy at Rice University in 1962 about all of our technological advances and how we’ve managed to come so far in such a short amount of time. I decided to cut that down, to the one paragraph everyone remembers him saying, which is:

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency…”

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers from this particular sub-plot, because I plan on having a 2nd book in this to make a series to explain why what happens in the prologue happens the way it does.

After this, I begin with a what-if Ronald Reagan became President in 1976 instead of 1980? Well, he has the US continue with the Moon landings and eventually building a Base on the moon, and even declaring that we’ll have people on Mars before 1989.

The Soviets decide to one-up the Americans, and decide to build a starship that would leave the solar system. Their attitude is basically, why do we need to piddle around the Sol System when there’s other solar systems out there to be conquered. The 2nd book will explore what happens to the Soviet ship, which, of course, will be after the Americans eventually send their own ship in the 2nd novel.

There is a storyline that follows the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis, but this time it ends in a completely different fashion. I have Osama bin Laden as a young apprentice to Khomeini, and he goes off on his own to form Al Qaeda (this is alternate history after all). In his first foray into terrorism, he makes a big statement that affects American politics in a big way. The US hunts him down and captures him (I was actually writing that when Osama was killed by the Seals, which de-railed my writing of this novel for a couple of weeks). He is taken care of in a way most ancient by people he hates.

In the meantime, we now have a base on the moon, a space station in orbit, and I re-write what happens with the Teacher in Space program by having Christa McAuliffe travel to the Moon to teach from there for a week. This time, the Challenger doesn’t blow up due to engineers discovering a problem, even though she’s not on that shuttle, and she gets to the Moon.

The US announces the team that will travel to Mars to establish a base there, and the Soviets use this opportunity to ask that two of their cosmonauts could go. The new POTUS tells the Soviet Premier no, as long as Eastern Europe was under the boot of communism. Weeks later, the Berlin Wall falls as does the Iron Curtain, and the US and USSR agree to let two cosmonauts go to Mars.

Terrorism raises its ugly head once again when the space station is attacked by remnants of Al Qaeda, and it also occurs to the Mars mission….

Near the end of the novel, colonists land on Mars, including Christa McAuliffe and her family. It’s the beginning of human colonization of the rest of the solar system.

At the end, the US and Russia announce a joint mission to explore the rest of the galaxy, and part of the mission is to find the missing Soviet starship, which will lead us back to what’s happening in the prologue when part of their mission goes awry.

Sales Experiment for October

For October, I decided to make two of my novels go free on Amazon(only in the US) just to see what would happen, by making them free on Smashwords, which made them free on Sony, Apple, Kobo, etc. I also had them distributed to B&N, but I don’t have any sale/download figures for anything yet except for Amazon, Smashwords itself, and my novels that I’ve published through Pubit on B&N.

Amazon US
Out of Time – 25 actual sales, 1780 free downloads
Don’t Mess With Earth – 8
Shattered Earth – 71 actual sales, 6,217 free downloads
The Usurper – 41
Voyager and the Aliens – 2

Amazon UK
Out of Time – 19
Don’t Mess With Earth – 4
Shattered Earth – 2

B&N Nook (through Pubit)
Out of Time – 2
Don’t Mess With Earth – 4
The Usurper – 2

Smashwords (as free e-books just on that site)
Shattered Earth – 104
Out of Time – 15
Voyager and the Aliens – 141

3 paperback copies sold: The Usurper, Shattered Earth, and Out of Time. My novels are also sold through Apple, Sony, & Kobo.

8139 novels downloaded for free (giving me a little over 10k books bought or downloaded this year, and 11,100 total all time). That’s astounding to me, and I really would’ve preferred those to have been at regular prices (almost a year’s salary! lol), but I just thought I’d try to see what would happen. While sales continued for Shattered Earth, I don’t think it helped the sales of any of my other novels, and I don’t think I’m going to do free again, unless its giveaways or coupons on Smashwords.

Where all my novels are located

Dear reader, if you’d like to know where you can buy my novels, here is a comprehensive list:

Out of Time, originally published through iUniverse in 2008 in paperback, now through Createspace, and a 2nd edition uploaded as e-book this year.  With coupon code ZC6JYHVF get this title for 50% off from Createspace.

Amazon– 2nd Edition
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
Independent Bookstores

e-Book locations for $.99
Amazon Kindle
UK Kindle
Apple iBooks
Sony Reader

The Usurper, published 2010, through CreateSpace – $5 off with coupon code JKJLG2YW.
Review of The Usurper

Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
Indie bookstores

E-book $2.99
Amazon Kindle
Kindle UK
Apple iBooks
Barnes and Noble Nook
Diesel E-books
Sony Reader

Shattered Earth is $3.99 for e-book (currently $2.99 on Amazon, & Sony, Apple through Smashwords) and $12.99 for paperback

Where to buy, $12.99, $2.99:
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Barnes & Noble Nook
Smashwords, able to download all e-book formats.







Don’t Mess With Earth – Published by for $12.95. E-book going for $.99
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Publishing (March 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602643415
ISBN-13: 978-1602643413
Amazon UK
UK Kindle
B&N paperback
BN Nook
Books a Million

There you go, good luck and thanks for buying!

The Usurper on The Kindle Nation Daily

For the start of the 2011 New Year, my novel, The Usurper, is the sponsored novel on The Kindle Nation Daily.

Kindle Nation Free Book Alert: Tom Clancy meets The Manchurian Candidate in Cliff Ball’s “The Usurper” (Today’s Sponsor) If you don’t have a Kindle, The Usurper can be found on Nook, Apple, Sony

Ever wonder what would happen if our worst fears were realized and we elected someone who was willing to destroy the USA, even if he was destroyed himself? The Usurper is that novel. It is a fictional account of what would happen if the Soviet Union and KGB were given the chance to take down the United States from within. They use the American political system, education system, terrorism, and commit environmental disasters to achieve these goals.

The Soviet Union and the KGB refuse to let the purging of communists in the United States as awhole by Senator Joe McCarthy, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, deter them. Soviet Premier Khrushchev authorizes the KGB to embark on an ambitious, decades long plan to destroy the United States from within through the corruption of American politicians, the American education system, terrorism, and environmental disasters. Gary Jackson, the main character, is the fulfillment of the KGB plan to destroy the United States from within. They raise him from birth to hate everything about the United States, indoctrinate him, and introduce him to terrorists across the world, where the KGB dictates all terrorist attacks. When Gary is a teenager, he is sent to the United States to assimilate and begin his mission. Nothing will deter his goals of completely and utterly destroying the United States.

When the Soviet Union dissolves, he is given a choice, and he decides to continue with the mission. A terrorist organization ends up filling in the gap left by the absent KGB, and they, together with Gary, conspire to destroy everyone in the United States who doesn’t agree with them.

Featured on Excuse Me, Miss blog

I am featured on the Excuse Me Miss website, and it has a scene from the novel, The Usurper. I have a bunch of scenes I could’ve used, but I went with this one:

Scene: The one aircraft that everyone was searching for was still in the air, and flying over Pennsylvania. Some of the passengers called their relatives from the jetliner, while the hijackers were still trying to turn Flight 93 around, so that the hijackers could fly into either the Capital, or the White House, the passengers on board were doing their best to take back the airplane with the help of the remaining flight crew. One of the men managed to get through to his wife in New Jersey, and said to her, “Hey, Diane, this is Jeff. Our plane has been hijacked; do you know what’s going on?”

“Thank God you’re all right. We had two terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and one on the Pentagon. There are reports that your plane is missing. What’s happening up there?”
“Some Arabic men killed the pilot and co-pilot, and then took over flying the plane. Those of us on board have decided to rush them, and try to wrestle control of the aircraft back from them. Can you call the City, or the State, to tell them what we’re doing and they can inform the Feds. Hopefully, the Air Force won’t shoot us down if they’re looking for us.”

“Ok, I can do that. I’ll pray for you. I love you. Good luck, Jeff.”

“Love you too.”

Jeff hung up his cell phone, and saw that the other men on board the plane were ready to take on the terrorists. They snuck up on the three that were guarding some of the passengers, smashed them on the head hard enough for the terrorists to pass out, and the three flight attendants helped to tie up, and gag the terrorists. Jeff and the others stormed the cabin. They began beating on the terrorists, pulling them out of their seats, while one of the Americans sat down in the pilot’s seat, and started flying the jet. Once they got the terrorists tied up, and gagged, Jeff sat in the co-pilot’s seat, and said to the new pilot while shaking his hand, “I’m glad that’s over with. My name is Jeff Harper by the way.”

“Nice to meet you too, Jeff. I’m Frank Childress, retired Air Force fighter jock. I have never actually flown a commercial airliner before, but, I’m certainly going to try. I turned the transponder back on, and Jeff, do you think you can work the radio?”

Jeff put on the earphones, and heard one of the control towers at one of the airports trying to contact them. He keyed the mike, and said, “This is United Flight 93. We have a situation here, over,”

“Flight 93? It’s good to hear your voice. This is Pittsburgh International Airport; I believe you’re just east of us. Is this the Captain?”

“No, this is Jeff Harper, I’m a passenger, and Frank Childress is currently flying the plane, but, he isn’t the pilot. We had some terrorists try to hijack this aircraft, but, we overpowered them, and now we’re in control. We’d like some instructions.”

“We were afraid that you guys had crashed. Have you heard about the terrorist attacks in New York and in Washington?”

“Yes, we have. Most of us called our loved ones before we took control of the airplane, and they told us. Are there any other hijacked airplanes out there we should know about?” asked Jeff.

“That’s a negative, Flight 93, all commercial aircraft in US airspace has been grounded. There are Air Force jets that are looking for you, and we’ll inform them that you’ve been found. We can guide you in for a landing here, there isn’t any airborne traffic now, so you’ll be able to land immediately. In ten minutes, you should be safely on the ground. We’ll have the FBI, Police, and whatever else we need, get here as fast as they can. Let me talk to Mr. Childress, so we can guide him in.”

The Usurper on Amazon

Mentioned on J.A. Konrath’s blog

My novel, The Usurper, was mentioned, along with quite a few other Indie authors, on mega Indie author J.A. Konrath’s blog, here: Check out all the novels listed. All these authors would like to have more people read their novels, including myself.

I am very appreciative of the fact that Indie authors generally help each other out, and try to get each other recognized. From sharing posts about someone’s work on Facebook or Twitter, to learning from other, more successful indie authors on message boards or through books they have published about how to be a successful independent author. Being an Indie author is challenging, but rewarding, and through all the hard work you do through promotion, you can see it pay off through all the sales you may get. Being an indie also has the benefit of doing things your way, and you have nobody telling you what to do or how to write your stories.

Traditional publishers, like the old media, may hate having things get out of their control, but, with the internet, everything is now in the people’s hands. A person can publish on Kindle, Nook, or Smashwords fairly easily, and the paperback copy of the novel can be released a week later on Amazon if you publish it on Createspace. No more waiting around for months and months after you query a traditional publisher, and then getting rejected. Welcome to the 21st century where you can bypass the old media completely.

Interview on Kip Poe’s Blog

Interview with Kip Poe’s Blog

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I would have to say that my most productive time of day to write is between 10 am and 3 pm. I don’t know why that is, but, it seems like that is when I’m at my most disciplined and focused.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I usually start out with pen and paper, because I find it easier to sit with a spiral notebook on my couch just writing out by hand whatever idea I have. When I feel the story is established enough, I go on the computer to finish the project. This goes for novels, essays, research papers, pretty much anything I write.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

I’m pretty much inspired by the fact that as an Indie author, I can write what I want, when I want, and I have no deadlines.

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

I don’t really set a goal of word count when I sit down to write. Most of the time, I write for as long as I have that idea fresh in my mind for that day, and then I quit. Sometimes, that’s an hour, and other times, its three or four hours.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

Self published author. With my first two novels, I took whatever cover iUniverse and gave me, they gave me 4 templates to pick from. With The Usurper, I created my own cover with a combination of Gimp and, since I was publishing that through Createspace. I took a picture of a fire from when I went camping earlier this year, then downloaded a US flag and a pair of eyes, and that’s that cover. I recently re-did Out of Time and downloaded a public domain picture from NASA, then just added the title and author name. Eventually, I plan on buying something like Book Cover Pro to come up with better covers.

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?

It’s kind of something that I’ve always wanted to be involved in since I was in elementary school, but, as of right now, I’d say it was more of a hobby than a career.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

Not currently, but, I’d really like to have a Kindle.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

Some of my favorite authors are Harry Turtledove, Eric Flint, S.M. Stirling, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, for example. I’m currently trying to read Color Me Grey by JC Phelps and Draculas by Konrath and his co-horts, when I don’t have to read college textbooks, since I’m pursuing a 2nd BA.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I have two book trailers. One was done for me to advertise Out of Time and Don’t Mess With Earth, while I created my own with The Usurper. I think there are some pretty cool book trailers out there, like the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, for instance. But, I don’t think they improve sales all that much, at least not for me, and it’s probably just another gimmick someone came up with, and then convinced everyone it was a good idea.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

The Usurper is about the USSR wanting to take down the US from within no matter what, so, their inside man “usurps” the Constitution, Congress, and the States when he finally gets into power. So, the title “The Usurper” seemed to make sense to me, even though it was probably the third idea I had for the title, but, once I settled on it, it seemed to be a good title.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I’m working on another two science fiction novels. One is an almost total re-write of Don’t Mess With Earth, after a lot of feedback I had that it had too much exposition, and some complained about my version of history at the beginning. So, I re-wrote the beginning, added a lot more dialogue, and the sequel I had planned for it, is now part of the novel, which is making it a full length 80K novel now, instead of around 50K. It’ll be re-titled, since it’s practically a different novel now. The other novel is an alternate history novel that begins with the 1976 Presidential Election, where the new President declares the US will have a moon base by 1979 and a Mars Base by 1989. The Russians decide to one-up the Americans, so they build an interstellar starship. What happens beyond that, well, I’m still working on it.