Get on with it!

Put a log on a fire and it will burn. Tend to the log and it will continue to burn. Eventually, the flames will go out. The lesson? A single log can only burn for so long.

Where am I going with this?

When publishing a book, it’s tempting to stare at the screen and hit refresh until your fingers bleed. But watching numbers and graphs can quickly become a huge time-suck. Do yourself a favor, step away and move on. Sure, your new book needs a little attention, a little push to get it out to market, but your next book needs a lot more. 

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. That book you just published has a babysitter: Amazon. That’s right, Amazon. For the first thirty days, Amazon is going to give your baby a lot of attention, offering visibility and opportunities to lists and recommendations that are only open to newborns. In other words, the flames are burning bright, leaving you with zero excuses to procrastinate any longer. Get to work.

But we’re authors, and we need to know how our baby is performing. Even as I’m writing this, I’ve checked the ranking of my latest book once or twice… okay, three times. Don’t judge.
What I’ve come to learn, what I want to share, is the realization of there being very little we can do to raise the visibility of our books across Amazon’s pages. And while a BookBub ad or Pixel of Ink listing will briefly spike visibility, ultimately it is Amazon who controls how much visibility our book will get. Give your book a nudge in the right direction and then get on with the next book.

Are you obsessive like me and want to learn more? If you’re squeamish about knowing what happens to your baby when you click the publish button, I’d suggest turning away and reading something else. Might I recommend my new crime thriller, Killing Katie—one of Amazon's Kindle Monthly Deals at just $1.99. Yeah, I just pushed my new book. Like I said, don’t judge. By the way, I’m joking. There’s nothing squeamish about knowing what Amazon is going to do to your book and all the hard work you put into it. Read on.
Exactly how does Amazon perform some of its magic? What are their behavioral programs that predict the future of our books? Very simply, their software calculates which of the newly published books are worth growing and which ones to ignore. 

When I hit publish on my first book (seems a lifetime ago), I truly believed the readers would come almost immediately. The truth is, even with good marketing, blog tours, ad space and doing all the things we’re told to do, we have little to do with the success of our books.
Why? In part, there is something working for, or against, newly published books. You can’t see it, you can’t game it, it’s those software programs I mentioned. Amazon employs a collection of algorithms to govern a book’s overall visibility—choosing where and how it is shown to their audience. Some call it zon-juice or zon fairy-dust. Others say it is lottery luck. Whatever you want to call it, Amazon's algorithms give a new book just enough visibility in the first thirty days to proof any possible sell-ability. Not sure sell-ability is a word, but it works here. 
What happens if the new book is deemed sell-able? A flood of zon-juice is awarded in the form of recommendations to thousands of readers. You’ll know when that happens. Your book climbs the ranks, gain momentum, reach the peaks of list after list, literary agents start calling, and it begins to rain money… or so I’m told. And what happens to the new books that use up their thirty-day allowance? Visibility disappears—also known as the thirty-day cliff.

I know, I know… I'm framing the potential outcome like a lottery win. And in doing so, I’ve made success on Amazon sound utterly daunting. No worries. The majority of newly published books go nowhere after thirty days.
As authors, that leaves it up to us to grow our audiences organically. The best method in doing so is to take advantage of places like Goodreads and reach new readers through mailing lists. I’ve been exploring how to build a mailing list with Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Forum: I highly recommend all authors visit his website and watch the videos. Don't rely on Amazon or Apple or any of the other platforms. These are your books, your products, your sweat and tears to work.

A note about writing another book—adding a log to the fire—publishing soon after the first will help visibility. Some authors even suggest writing an entire series and then publishing each book every thirty to sixty days. Sounds reasonable, but I haven’t tried the approach. Too impatient.
What I’m recommending to you, and for me, is to leave the new book alone and get on with writing the next one. You never know which book will take off and take your backlist with it. Increase your chances by publishing more books.

All in with Kindle Unlimited - and a Giveaway.

I'm all in with Kindle Unlimited!
What does that mean? All of my books are free to Amazon's readers. All you need is a Kindle Unlimited subscription. 

Don't have a Kindle Unlimited subscription? Get one! Well worth the money. Just follow the link:

And my latest book, Killing Katie (published by Kindle Press) is also available for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

My other books in Kindle Unlimited:
An Order of Coffee and Tears
Going Gray
Gray Skies
Blinded By Sight
Gray Omnibus
Superman's Cape
From the Indie Side 

And how about a giveaway!!
I've got three copies of  Killing Katie available through a GoodReads giveaway. 
Click the link below.   

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Killing Katie by Brian Spangler

Killing Katie

by Brian Spangler

Giveaway ends July 23, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Happy Reading,

Kindle Scout and Kindle Press

Seen Amazon's latest -- Kindle Press?


Amazon has created quite a fantastic way of finding new talent.
How? The Kindle Scout program, which I'm guessing is their version of a Scout team. How does it work? Simple.

Writers submit their never before published books, giving a world of Amazon customers access to the first chapters. The submitted books stay available for thirty days. To keep things fair, authors submit the same size covers, a minimum word count, one-line blurbs, etc. Even the previews have the same word count. 

Amazon's customer browse genres, read the blurbs, read opening pages and then decide which books they like by casting a vote. Each person can carry upwards of three votes. At the end of the thirty days, Amazon selects which books move on to Kindle Press. 
Amazon encourages authors to get the word out via Facebook and Twitter and essentially any means possible to drive traffic to your book.

Votes are not the definitive factor, yet Amazon has not made known the rubric for determining which books will be published by Kindle Press -- Amazon editors have the final.

What's in it for the readers? For Kindle Press published books that have their vote, they get a free copy. Who doesn't like free books. And for readers who have a knack for picking winners, this could potentially be a huge win of free hit books. 

And for writers who want more from their indie careers, a book published by Kindle Press might be exactly what they need. A publishing deal with Kindle Press comes with a small advance and a 50/50 split on royalties. But beyond the advance and royalties, the visibility is the biggest win. For a writer who has just finished a book, they've got nothing to lose when submitting for a possible Kindle Press deal. 

What does that mean for me? Book one of my new series, Killing Katie has been posted and is now available for a read. The next thirty days will be full of stress as I work on book 2, but again, there is nothing to lose. 

Interested in my new book or Kindle Scout? Give it a look, read a few pages and cast your vote: An Affair With Murder, Killing Katie


Kindle Unlimited — A Netflix for Books

Kindle Unlimited

Netflix for books was bound to come to Amazon — it was only a matter of time.

Pay a monthly fee and you gain access to more than 600k books. What does that means? Simply browse, select and then start reading. And if you're an iPhone user like me, you can apparently do all of this without having to go to Amazon first. Note, I haven’t tried this yet, but will soon. Remember the old days when you could browse Amazon's books on your iPhone and purchase them? Apple quickly stomped that out with their in-app purchase requirement. It will be cool again to have that capability back with a limited number of finger swipes and taps.  

As a reader, what does this mean to me? I may run out of space on my favorite Kindle device? But that is a good thing. I tend to bounce around books. On any given day, I might put my nose in three or more books. I’m not the average reader. I’m reading to learn how to write. Per Stephen King’s On Writing: you have to read to be a writer. 

One thing I’m curious about is how the traditional publisher will react. When will we see that first big deal? And by that, I mean being able to download to my device the complete collection of Stephen King or James Patterson books. Other subscriber services have books from the big  publishers already, but that may just a matter of time too.

What does this mean for the new authors who are just starting out and writing their first book?
REACH! Best way to build an audience!
In my opinion, any author publishing a new book should absolutely enter the title into KDP Select and take advantage of the promotional tools Amazon has provided them.

From one of my fave online hangouts, KBoards has a very lengthy thread that covers what Kindle Unlimited means: Kindle Unlimited?? Anyone have the scoop?

While this isn’t the first subscriber model to show up, Kindle Unlimited has a bit more going on than the others do.
First, there are the readers—single greatest online volume anywhere.
Second, there is the original architecture that Amazon has evolved and baked for years, providing a very functional review system, a ranking algorithm that lends to terrific list placement, and a recommendation system (Netflix had to sponsor a contest to get their recommendation algorithm).

Amazon may have very well changed the publishing model… again!

What’s missing?  I’m a fan of Prime, and selfishly, I’d love it if KU were a part of Prime. We may see Amazon bundle this in as an option for Prime customers later in the year. We’ll see. 

Happy Reading



Top-Down Approach to Publishing

If you aren't a fan of Hugh Howey - become one. And I'm not talking about his impressive books, I'm talking about his blog. Click here to swing over to there.

In Hugh's latest blog post, The New Top-Down Approach, he covers the traditional publisher's ever-changing perspectives on self-publishing. But more than that, it is about the landscape changing and self-publishing as the starting point. As always, a most excellent blog post. 

A number of indie authors who've since become what are called hybrid have experienced the top-down. In fact, one very successful indie friend of mine has just been tapped by traditional publishing and will enjoy the hybrid status for the foreseeable future. What it comes down to is the readers. It's always about the readers and getting our books into as manny hands as we possibly can. While we write for the enjoyment of writing, we want to be read.

Wander on over to Hugh's Blog and give it a read.



Deserialize the Serial novel

My background is in computers, having spent years coding. And so when I hear the word deserialize, I know exactly what that means. Well, I'm about to do the same for Going Gray.

A little history, Going Gray was originally written as a contribution to the terrific anthology, From the Indie Side. After the anthology had published, I released the novelette, Going Gray as an eBook and in print. And then something unexpected happened… I kept on writing. Before I knew it, I had another book, Into the Dark, and sent that off to a few proofreaders. I kept on writing, and I am now working through the final chapters of book 3, Inside Out

All three are short books and rather than publish them as a serial novel, I've decided to bundle and publish as a standalone. Of course, the story continues in another set of books, taking place centuries later in Gray Skies, but we'll leave that for another post.

So what do I do with what is already published?
I've updated the Going Gray eBook edition on Amazon to include the original novelette and the first chapter of the second book, Into the Dark.

If you downloaded this book for free, or at the discounted 99 cents, then please subscribe to my newsletter to get the next two books in the series for free. Yes, Free!

Why should you subscribe? After I finish Inside Out, I’ll bundle the three into a single volume, and then will hit the Amazon publish button. That’s it! Once the update is available for download, I’ll send out my newsletter with a book release announcement and directions on how to download. 

The finished volume will contain Going Gray, Into the Dark and Inside Out. The price will also jump to the non-discounted 3.99, but you’ll still be able to download the book for free.


Is this the end of the serials for me? Yes. At least for now. As soon as I've finished Going Gray, I'm finishing Gray Skies and will likely bundle that one too. 

In other news—stay tuned for a Coffee and Tears short story coming soon. 




What do you think of my new digs?

I'm making the leap to a new web site and very excited with what I've been able to do.

Over the years in the tech field, I've worked with Drupal, Wordpress, Vignette and a few home-grown content management systems. Some are better than others, and some are very good if you like to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

As my career in writing grows, I'm finding that I want to spend less and less time playing in the dark magic of <Div> tags and CSS files. Instead, I just want a platform that lets me add content, but leaves everyone thinking that I'm a Web designer GOD!

Welcome to Squarespace… It's that good. 



Going Gray and From the Indie Side


Going Gray Novelette

With the release of From the Indie Side, I’ve also made my short, Going Gray, available as a separate novelette eBook and print. Contact me for a signed copy.

Grab a copy from Amazon and Nook for a limited time.

If you want to see what happens to the Emily after the cloud fall, stay tuned for news of the full novel — to be released during the summer of 2014!



Welcome to Hugh Howey’s World of Wool – Silo Saga: Lottery


August 25, 2013

Welcome to Hugh Howey’s World of Wool – Silo Saga: Lottery

I’ve joined Hugh Howey and Amazon’s Kindle World’s Silo Saga, publishing a new novella titled Lottery. If you are a fan of Wool then check it out.

Silo Saga: Lottery (Kindle Worlds Novella)

A 17k word novella taking place in Hugh Howey’s World of Wool.

In the world of the silo, falling in love comes with its own set of rules. As young Tabitha and Justin begin their lives together, they know what they can and cannot do.

Then the impossible happens and Tabitha finds out she is with child. With no lottery ticket to redeem, the consequences for pregnancy are harsh: every addition requires a subtraction.

From the Down Deep to the Up Top, there is nowhere to hide. It won’t be long before the truth comes out and her husband is sent outside and put to cleaning. There is just one way to save his life–but to save him, Tabitha will have to do the unspeakable.