At A Crossroads

All of my life I have been a fan of horror. From the early days of my addiction where I couldn't get my fill of Weird Tales, Tales from the Crypt, The Tomb of Dracula, and of course every adolescent boy's dream girl Vampirella.    My love of horror was fueled by Saturday Night Creature Feature with count Gore De Val out of Washington,  an endless parade of black and white horror movies from the fifties that filled the airwaves every Saturday as I was growing up.

Then I discovered books. Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and a brash newcomer who wrote about a young girl with telekinetic powers taking revenge on everyone who had wronged her. I followed a career that soon inspired me to take up the pen and create a nightmare world that exists all around us.

My earliest attempts were at the best amateurish fan fiction. In time I discovered my own unique voice that sometimes led me to ponder the possibility of working outside the genre I grew up with.  I've dabbled in literary fiction with a short story I wrote that came to me while I was in a hospital waiting room as my wife underwent surgery on her knee.

It was a powerfully emotional story. One I poured my heart into with a twist at the end that brought a tear to my wife's eye when she read it. Until this point she would not read anything I had written because of the nature of my work.

The story just sat in my drawer because quite honestly, with my background and interest in horror, I had no idea where to send it. I didn't believe it warranted submission to a literary magazine because I didn't believe it was literary enough.

Was I wrong.

In June I submitted my literary short story "Forget Me Not", to the Backbone Mountain Review, a literary magazine published annually through the Allegany Arts Council and  The Center for Creative Writing, which is associated with Frostburg State University that is a satellite campus for the University of Maryland.

I received my acceptance email several days ago.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I'm also a tad confused. Do I continue on my chosen course writing horror? Or do I dare venture into the world of literary writing? There is a book I'd like to do, that details one man's journey into self discovery when he returns home to settle the estate of his estranged father. But I hesitate as I worry about my ability to do the theme justice.

Not to mention the fact I have a mountain of work already waiting for me. My novel, "A Father's Love," sits on my desk waiting for me to give it the attention it deserves. Then there's my next novella, tentatively titled "White Walker" until I can find a more suitable title that doesn't draw on something someone else has already written.  I still haven't worked on the next installment of my Shadows of the Past series which has been outlined for several months now.

My biggest problem is procrastination. I need to quit checking out Facebook, Twitter, and X-Box and regain the focus I need to finish these projects so I can move forward.

My goal is to hit the following publication schedule.

White Walker: Halloween.

Shadows of the Past Part II Parasite:  December, in time for the two year anniversary of part one.

A Father's Love: Father's day 2014

Beyond that is anyone's guess. But with this recent acceptance I'm, seriously looking at completing that literary novel and getting it submitted by fall of next year.

We'll see what happens.

Amazon Search Terms

Sorry for the delay in getting this updated, summer vacation and all that.

I currently have one novel, two novellas, and three short stories available on Amazon. One short story is free through price matching.

In April of this year I came to a realization, call it an epiphany if you will. I was looking at the search terms for my work on Amazon, My freebie had been running for several months with about 20 to 30 downloads per month. I realized, that nowhere in the search terms had I mentioned the word free.

It takes us old dogs awhile to figure things out.

I added the word free to the search terms and the following month downloads exploded from a mere 30 to over fifteen hundred. 

If the customer can’t find it? How can they download it?

While it’s important to make sure you include the right search terms such as genre, sub-genre, and so on to describe your story. I had never once considered using the price point of the offering in the search terms themselves.

But it makes sense to do so. Don’t we already search based on price? When we look for a car, isn’t price a major consideration in our final decision? After all it al boils down to what we can afford. Right?

Some of us can afford to spend more so price doesn’t play that big of a factor in our purchasing decisions. Others, like myself, are on limited incomes so we have to be careful about what we spend.

To find out how important price was I have conducted a little experiment. I suck at marketing anyway, I hate doing it, I’d rather interact with people on a social level without all the hyping about buying this, or buying that. So it was easy for me to go a couple of months with absolute minimal advertising.

The first step was to lower the prices of all my offerings to 99 cents. Many will say the 99 cent price point is the death of literature, but that’s an issue for another post. I don’t believe it, after all what better way to get a person to spend their hard earned money on an unknown talent?

I then added the term ‘99 cent kindle’ to my search terms for each book. Sales exploded, for me at least. And they continue to this day. I’m not breaking any records here. Some of you probably sell as many in a day as I’m doing in a month, but I’ve seen a dramatic jump from non-existent to double digits.

I'm now working on my offerings available through other retailers to see if I can duplicate these results. I'll keep you posted.

I know I’m not going to make a living like this. I’ve got more work coming out in the next few months. I hope by then to have built a strong enough readership using the 99cent price point that I can price higher and still get sales.

We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.