Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: When A Hard Rain Falls

Book Marketing Strategies: How Much Should You Charge?

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I’ve read a number of articles and blog posts about how much to charge for an eBook. Most of these articles suggest setting the price between 1.99 to 3.99 and I would have to agree, though I think the 2.99-3.99 range is most appropriate for most self-published authors.

Of course, no one wants to sell their book too low and face the stigma that the reason the price is too low is because the book is not good enough. And of course on the other end, selling the book at a higher price means that you deserve to make as much as you can for all the hard work you put into your literary achievement.

When I wrote my first novel, War Remains, A Korean War Novel, I set the price at 5.99. I thought that was a fair price for all the work, energy, and time, I put into writing it. However, sales were dismal despite everyone who bought it telling me that it was a good book. When I lowered the price to .99 cents for a promotional campaign, suddenly my sales rocketed and continue to do quite well, when I decided to sell the book at 3.99.

I do believe that more people will buy a book for a lower price and take a chance with an unknown author than spending over 5.00 for a book with an author they are not too familiar with.

Now I set the price for all my books at 3.99 and sales have been quite good. I’ve also experienced a halo effect. Whenever I sell any of my books for .99 cents, days and in the case of When A Hard Rain Falls, two months after the book promotion, I continue to sell a couple of books a day.

Although selling your book at .99 cents means a profit of .35 cents per book, I believe the exposure the book outweighs the profits made. However, because of this halo effect, I do make up the difference immediately.

An Awesome Review of When A Hard Rain Falls

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A rave review of When A Hard Rain Falls:

This wasn’t quite what I expected from the blurb on the front advertising it as a “fast-paced gripping ride” – to describe it in such a way is to do it something of an injustice; When A Hard Rain Falls is much more than that.

The pace of the novel begins quite slowly, giving the reader plenty of time to get to know the character’s two protagonists: Keith, the struggling, divorced father of two who finds himself in a situation this will be all-too-familiar to those who have done no wrong except make a few bad choices; and Nicky, a young man fresh out of prison, rough and happy that way.

Miller does a fantastic job of making these characters fully-developed and relatable. It would be easy for the young ex-con and the single father to be clichés or caricatures, the type seen often on any number of police-related TV shows. Instead, we are given full backgrounds on the two men; what happened to them and how they ended up where they are now. There is a fascinating contrast between the two in that Keith is a good man but questions the choices he has made and makes, while Nicky is cruel and remorseless but never doubts what he does.

The exposition of these two is what makes the climax of the novel, when they finally meet, so interesting. However, they do not meet until the very end of the story, so it would be wrong to expect a story of constant conflict. Instead, Miller slowly builds up the suspense as the two men move closer and closer to the moment they will meet. The reader knows it is going to happen and as each action brings them nearer, the suspense builds until it bursts, much like the banks of the canal in the final scenes.

The storm which causes this is described in wonderful detail, bursting into the story as unexpectedly as it would be to the characters and having a huge influence on what happens. The story ends with some nice intrigue as well, leaving the reader to wonder what will happen to Keith, his sons and everyone else.

All in all, this is an excellently written thriller, full of suspense and bursts of action that never fail to draw you in and keep you entertained. Beneath that, though, is a deeper story of family love, attempted redemption and the tale of how a man can easy fall through the system into deeper darkness. Just don’t expect an episode of 24 with non-stop action; this is more akin to the quality of a show like The Wire, but all the better for being a book!

Thanks, Steve Justice! You just persuaded me to buy my own book!

When A Hard Rain Falls: You CAN judge a book by its cover

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Believe it or not, When A Hard Rain Falls has quickly become one of my best selling books.

Although it does not have the kind of reviews that War Remains and Ice Cream Headache have, it is one of my best selling books on a day-to-day basis.

Inasmuch as it is a good story about a father fighting evil to protect his sons while they are on a camping trip, the cover work by the very multi-talent artist and designer Anna Takahashi proves that you CAN judge a book by its cover.

I just love the cover design and how Anna was able to capture the intensity and the suspense of Keith Mitchell’s story and how an ordinary camping trip becomes one of survival.

This is the second book cover Anna designed for me and it also shows how much we both learned about cover design. First of all the Title font is very strong capturing the story’s suspense. Also the placement of the book blurb is crucial. Your eyes move from the lightning to the title, downward with the rain to the blurb. Finally, the cover is a wrap around design: the back mirrors the front. It is a most appropriate design for the book cover.

Yin and Yang

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“Why do you have L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E tattooed on your fingers?” Glenda asked.
Nicky thought about Sarah back in Denver. She wanted to know the same thing. “Either you love someone in this world or you hate them. There is no middle. Just like there are only two choices we make in this world: the right one and the wrong one.”
Glenda smiled. “Oh, I get it. Kind of like yin and yang.”
“Yin and what?”
“Yang. The balance of life,” Glenda explained. “Love is just as strong an emotion as hate is and vice versa.”
“Yeah, it’s a yin and yang thing all right.”

When A Hard Rain Falls. You want this book. Yes, you do.

http://amzn.to/18FeDf1

How to Avoid the Self-Publishing Blues #2: You’re So Vain

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You probably thought this book….

Let’s face it, one of the biggest challenges with self-publishing, other than how to best market your book is how to overcome the vanity press stigma which many people have with authors who self-publish.

Back in the day, an author would write a book, go to a local printer and print a couple hundred copies and then pawn them off on family and friends. If an author was lucky, they might get close to recouping their original investment, and perhaps, if luckier, break even. Those that didn’t ended up with a garage full of books and their dream of becoming a writer shattered.

Fortunately for authors, one doesn’t have to shell out a couple hundred or even thousand dollars to get published these days. In fact, one could publish an eB0ok or a paperback through places like Createspace or Lulu for nothing and depending upon the book’s subject matter, start making a profit within hours of the book going live. And if the book is good, an author could enjoy a brief run of success, perhaps even land a lucrative contract from a publishing house.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Anyone now can publish anything he or she wants and call themselves a published author.

However, that vanity stigma is still with it and from time to time, raises its ugly head again.

I recently published my sixth book, When A Hard Rain Falls, and I was all set for a good run. As soon as it went live on Amazon, I posted a photo of the book on Facebook and instantly the post received over 100 likes. That’s about as far as it went.

You see, people know the drill: author publishes book, author promotes book on Facebook. Friends like that the author has published a book. And sadly for many authors this is the cold, hard reality with self-publishing: it doesn’t go any further than that.

Some people will tell you that the best way to sell more books is to write more books with the idea that the more your name is bandied around as an author, the more likely folks will gobble up one’s books. On the other hand, there is the chance for overkill: can too many books spoil the author?

I’m not sure what to think two weeks into the publication of my sixth book. My first book, War Remains was received quite well, but I think a lot had to do with the novelty of the idea of one publishing his or her first book.

So, how do you avoid the self-publishing blues and escaping the vanity stigma?

That’s hard to answer given the preponderance of books being published around the clock. Obviously, there is a demand for some books, though for the life of me (no pun intended) I can’t figure out why books about zombies sell well. I think the biggest problem is that world has gone mainstream. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with a lot of crap being written these days which means it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed. I once had an agent tell me that she loved my first book War Remains, that it was a good story, but she felt that she couldn’t sell it. She suggested that I write a mystery or a thriller; so I wrote When A Hard Rain Falls.

Although the advice I am about to give might not help you if you have a book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and your sales have convinced you not to give up your day job, but if you are going to self-publish, PLEASE make sure you have invested some money into editing and design. It might not help you sell a thousand or more books, but if we are ever to escape this self-publishing stigma we have to make sure our books are just as good as ones being turned out by traditional publishing houses.

Another thing you can do, and this is some advice I have seen a lot of published authors give, and that is to choose your categories wisely. That is one way to get a little more exposure to sell more books and free you from the shackles of the self-publishing stigma. I know an author who published a book a few days ago and already the book is in the top ten because of the category. People see that and they probably don’t care if the book was self-published or not. That my friends is another hard reality about self-publishing.

There is hope for us, though. We just have to keep on doing what we love and believe in the dream.

When A Hard Rain Falls — Cover

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover.

What do you think?

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In this case, the answer is YES!

How to Avoid the Self-Publishing Blues

JM_WAHRF_eBook_finalSo you’ve self-published your first, second, third, or whatever number book. As soon as you hit “enter,” “send,” or “submit” that’s when the real fun begins!

I’ve recently self-published my sixth book in four years and though it might seem easier when it comes to marketing and promoting your book, there are always new challenges with each new book.

As soon as you publish your book and send it out into the world, your friends and family quickly rally to support you. But then once that pool begins to dry out the reality sets in that you have a lot of work to do. There are many ways to market and promote your book. Here are some ideas which have helped me:

Thanks to having already created a website and Facebook Page most of the hard work has already been done. I have an established network of friends, acquaintances, and readers who follow my updates regularly and know when I have come out with a new book.

However, once you get past that initial sales spike from those friends and readers, that is when the fun begins. How do you get them to work for you?

It goes without saying that reviews drive sales but there is no substitute for word of mouth. What I do is when one of my friends publishes a book, I talk it up a lot on my Facebook page with my friend (after I have read and reviewed it). This can be a little time consuming because you do have to read a lot, but it has helped me to get more exposure for my books. In addition, people take notice if you promote other authors. You would do the same if you went to see a great band over the weekend. On Monday morning, you would tell everyone about that band.

Hmm…do the math. Two or three bucks for cover charge. A couple drinks. More than what you would pay for an eBook, right?

Another thing you can and should do is write/blog about things which are related to your book without mentioning your book other than in the introduction or the conclusion. For example, some of the action in When A Hard Rain Falls takes place around the Hennepin Canal, so I plan on writing about the canal on my blog. I’ve done the same thing for places in South Korea (Waking Up in the Land of The Morning Calm).

An Excerpt from When a Hard Rain Falls

JM_WAHRF_eBook_final“Halfway across the canal, he lost his footing and fell in. The water, which was cold and filled with debris, came up to his chest. He knew that in some parts of the canal, the water was over ten feet deep, but much higher now as it continued to rise and swell. He was a good swimmer, learning how to swim in the Illinois River and Fox River as a boy, where he had to fight strong currents. This time though, he was fighting more than the strong current and the rushing waters; he was fighting for survival—his and his sons.”

Now available on Amazon.

When A Hard Rain Falls — Published!

JM_WAHRF_eBook_finalTake a deep breath. I’ve just published another book.

When A Hard Rain Falls is now available as an eBook from Amazon and Smashwords (it will soon be available as a paperback from Createspace).

This has become a fall ritual for me. Four of my six books have been published between September and December. It’s only fitting: this is my favorite time of the year and this time of the year always reminds me of growing up in Illinois.

Six books in four years. That’s not too shabby (though one of them, Damaged Goods, was a collection of short fiction which had been published in online literary magazines).

Take a deep breath and then get back to work.

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