Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to Sell a Sequel

Author Peter Darley

First I’ll say – I am not a book marketing guru. However, through trial and error, I finallly figured it out. To sell a sequel, you need to have at least two books on offer. (Obviously.) Here’s how it’s done.
I’ve never earned a penny from my flagship novel – Hold On! – Season 1. . . by design. Hold On! was the marketing tool – for the series.

At the time I wrote Hold On!, the TV shows Prison Break and 24 were at their peak of popularity. I didn’t rip those shows off in Hold On! I simply borrowed ‘the tempo’. The vast majority of chapters (which I refer to as ‘episodes’) end on cliffhangers. This is the secret to creating a page-turner; a trick I also learned from Dan Brown. Readers tend to put a book down at the end of a chapter. It’s a writer’s mission to make sure they lose sleep. The readers must find out ‘what happens next’. That’s where cliffhangers come in.

You’re an unknown author. Create a series and end the first book on a killer cliffhanger – then give it away to the world. This part is agonizing, and you’re not going to get in with Bookbub.

But neither do you need them. If you can gather $1,000, you can hit #1 on Amazon’s free listings, which is better than Bookbub can do for you. I’m constantly updating my promo blog site list. Between each promotion, many of them disappear.

At #1 on the free listings (which validates your #1 bestseller status) – here’s the reality. Only 40% of those who downloaded it will even read it, but that’s 40% of around 60,000 downloaders. (24,000 actual readers.) A percentage of those 24,000 will be readers who will ONLY download free books, so they’re not the target either. Realistically, you’re looking at 3% of those 24,000 to buy your sequel. (720 at $2.99 a pop – $2,150.) You’ve more than doubled your investment.

But you need a sequel to pull this off, and this is the crucial trick. You need to have the sequel on sale before you give away Book One. At the end of Book One, put the link to the sequel at the end of the epilogue on the very same page.

This is a bane. When you write a book in Word, you have no idea what it’s going to look like on Kindle. You won’t know where the final sentence falls. You must upload your finalized manuscript to Kindle to see where on the page your final line falls. If it falls at the bottom of the page, you MUST add or remove text in order to leave room for ‘To be continued in . . .’ followed by the sequel’s ‘Buy’ link. If you add text, you take the final line of the story to the next page. If you remove text to make room, you might be compromising your vision.

If the link to your sequel appears on the page AFTER the epilogue, they’re not going to go looking. It has to be on the final page of the epilogue.
Everything about this is an ordeal. But it CAN be done.

Peter Darley (Author of the Hold On! Trilogy and Hold On! – Tomorrow.)

True Offence? Or Mind Control?

Author Peter Darley
What is it about a certain four letter word that gets people so hot under the collar? I’m sure most of us have had occasion to be in a room when grandma is sitting among us. A movie comes on the TV containing a scene of gratuitous violence. The antagonist is stabbing the victim to death, blood flying everywhere, bellowing something to the tune of “You fucking bastard!” Grandma gasps in horror and says, “Why do they have to use ‘that language’?” The gratuitous, homicidal violence isn’t even mentioned. A virtually meaningless combination of four letters – four alphabetical symbols that serve the purpose of expressing an exclamation mark – is the first cause of such horrified excitation.

But why is this? Out of scores of reviews for Hold On!, I have only been hit by this phenomenon twice (to date.) The use of profanity in it is, by no means, excessive, and is only used occasionally in dialogue for the purpose of contextual realism. If I’d had enraged characters or psychopathic killers bellowing ‘good gosh’, ‘golly’, ‘darn’, or ‘blinkey, blonkey, blimey’, I would’ve been laughed out of the writing game. It’s a no-win situation. Hold On! contains scenes of extreme homicidal violence, torture, and skull-crushing vengeance. I find it extraordinary how all of that goes unnoticed by certain people, in deference to the use of a mere word. Ironically, this very issue is directly addressed in chapter 33. It still doesn’t seem to be giving certain people a moment of thoughtful pause.

Hold On! by Peter Darley
It’s four letters. F.U.C.K. They contain no mystical properties whatsoever. They literally define the word ‘nothing’. If any of these people were to be asked why they felt so offended by it, the answer would, invariably be, “That’s how I was raised.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t constitute an opinion. There were many views my parents tried to drill into me, the ‘F’ word being a big one (as in – ‘we’ll cut you out of our will’ big.) However, if they couldn’t back those views up with any reasoning other than ‘because we said so’, I would simply disregard it with the contempt it deserved.

An opinion is a viewpoint at which one has arrived through personal experience, observation, and logical reasoning. Thinking what we are told to think is the very antithesis of that. All it shows is that critical thinking has, for that person, been minimal – at best! It is this very same shortcoming within the human condition that enables acts of terrorism.

Go! by Peter Darley
For my part, I am not going to compromise on this issue. I refuse to pander to the absurd, in order to gratify the bizarre sensibilities of those whose critical faculties have been so deeply impaired. I invite all to join me in a chorus of personal free expression, and it goes like this – “FUCK IT!” J


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An Emotional Novel Tackling Abuse & How it Healed an Author

Author Veronika Gasparyan

If I say that writing my personal story wasn’t a hard thing to do, I would be lying. It was the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. I am not even talking about the language barrier I had to face or the grammar. I am talking about being caught up in a total emotional roller coaster, with “giving up” moments.
It was already bad enough that most of my relatives thought it was not a good idea and that the book will be a total failure. To add to the challenge, English isn’t my first language. But, I knew in my heart that I am doing the right thing. Plus, it was not the first time I was alone in my idea. It was not the first time I was told that something I am doing will fail. It was also not the first time I was not supported by the people who are supposed to be there for you, no matter what.
My book is not about playing a victim or trying to make others feel bad for me and it’s not about explaining how I was mistreated, neglected, and abused. It’s about the inner powers that we are all born with and are given to us by nature. It’s about one’s courage to survive and to beat the odds from the harsh, challenging destiny. All I wanted to do is to show the world and others who struggle daily, those stuck in very bad situations that with the power of faith and belief in brighter days, everything is possible.
My survival story was always there for me to share but I was not yet ready. It took me almost 20 years to finally tell myself that I am brave enough to talk about what I lived through and to tell others how to persevere. No one has to be stuck in an abusive or bad situation.
Mother at Seven
“Mother at Seven” was the title that I came up with the second I decided to write my book. The cover of it is my actual picture. I choose that particular photo because the first chapter of the book takes place in the same exact location. By the balcony window of our 5th floor apartment.
It took me about 3 months to write the original manuscript. Most of the chapters were pretty smooth in terms of the structure and the flow, with only few breaks that I had to take, due to the content being hard to describe. But the breaks were only a few days long. Now, when it came to write the very last chapter, that is where It became emotionally challenging. It took me 3 weeks from the time I finished the 10th chapter to just start on the 11th. Then, it took me another 2 weeks to write it and edit it.
I gave my book all of my feelings and memories, without sugar coating or hiding the true facts and emotions. To me, if my readers take even a few teachings from it, I would feel that I have accomplished something very big.
My belief is that if a 7 year old girl found the way to survive and prove to destiny that negativity and bad in your life is only temporary, than any of you can do the same! Have faith in yourself and believe in better days! As my grandfather always said “No matter what happens, you need to dream big!”

I want to end with this thought. We only have one life to live and to give that up because of others who abuse us, emotionally, financially, or physically, would be really wrong. It’s unfair to ourselves and to those who love us! Why give pleasure to the ones who harm us and want to see us fail? We have to fight for our better future and happiness. We owe it to those who don’t have that opportunity any longer and are dying at this very moment. Those who are taking their last breathe as I am writing this sentence. Those who are wishing right this minute to be able to live for just another hour, another day, or just to see another sunrise. Be thankful for what you have and that is - your life!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Art of Memoir Writing

Those who praised A Penny a Kiss, Judy McConnell’s first memoir about growing up in Minnesota, will not miss a beat as the rebelliousness of her early years continues in this engrossing sequel, Just Keep Shooting: My Youth in Manhattan Memoir of a Midwestern Girl in the 1950s and 1960s. The new book finds her fresh from college and anxious to shake off the past as she strikes out forge a career in the challenging business mecca that was New York City in the Fifties and establish a life as an independent woman in a conformist era when young women were expected to marry and reproduce. Her experiences as a female lose in a male-dominated society where women were blocked at every turn predicted the radical feminist movement of the following decade.
Just Keep Shooting by Judy McConnell
The author’s personal struggles and offbeat adventures in France, California, and most crucially, New York provide fascinating drama. Her search leads her through career crises, roommates, boyfriends, and sexual involvements, and she reveals her feelings with vigorous honesty.  An engrossing read, Just Keep Shooting reflects McConnell’s keen ear for detail and an almost photographic memory of events. Ultimately, the memoir is a vivid and heartfelt reminder reflecting a journey many of us growing up in any era can relate to, searching, testing, and experimenting as we forded the turbulent waters of our twenties. But McConnell gives us more: a glimpse of the innocence of the bygone era of the Fifties and the rising spirit of revolt and change that anticipates the upheavals of the Sixties and Seventies as the civil rights and women’s equality movements began to evolve and shape our collective experience. 
The road to the Promised Land is a rocky one. McConnell’s memoir of wanderlust and search for identity captures her struggle to forge a life with one hand in the pragmatic world of work and the other reaching for the remote shining star, towards which she never ceases shooting.
Check out Judy's book on her Website.