The Scarring, An Excerpt

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 2.26.45 PMThe following is an excerpt from The Scarring, one of fifteen stories in the collection, Voices. You can find Voices on Amazon here, or you can contact A.J. Brown directly at 1horrorwithheart@gmail.com if you would like an autographed print version of the collection.

The Scarring (an excerpt)

On the bed lay the drunken man, his eyes wide and bloodshot. They darted from side to side. His mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, but he only managed a few strangled croaks. His arms and legs were bound to the bedposts with ropes. He was as naked as the day he came into the world.
“Do you hate?”

“Yes.”

###

The first scar came at the age of eleven, courtesy of an angry father and a bottle of whiskey. He had ducked when the old man threw the bottle. It shattered against the wall, slivers of glass spraying back at him, along with the remainder of the caramel-colored liquid.

Voices Promo 1 The ScarringHe probably wouldn’t have been scarred if only small pieces of glass had pricked his skin. If not for the old man’s follow-up to the bottle toss, he would have been just fine. But the old man chased the broken glass like a beer at a drinking party, and the smack to the back of the head was unseen. He—Nothing was his name—went sprawling backward, hands out behind him, a heavy sting on the side of his face. A gash appeared from mid-forearm to elbow when he landed among the shattered glass.

Nothing bled. He cried, and as he did so, his father wailed on him, telling him to “clam it up, boy, or I’ll clam it up for you.”

Mom stitched him up with a sewing needle and thread as thick as fishing line. Nothing wasn’t sure which was worse, the initial slice of skin by glass or the constant poke of the needle and tug of thread.

The skin puckered over time, leaving a pink welt of flesh that grew as he grew, never shrinking, and a constant reminder …

Creating Shadows

“To cast a shadow, you have to do something.”
–Bill Walton

5dfa6c90a5f9ed88cfe6038fd12a7e7aBefore I get into my blog, let me give you a brief history on Bill Walton. Stick with me for a paragraph here. Bill Walton played basketball for the UCLA Bruins in college, where he was on two national championship teams and was part of one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports. He then went on to play professionally for the Portland Trailblazers, San Diego Clippers and Boston Celtics. He was part of two NBA championship teams. He is currently a commentator of NBA games. Walton, in my opinion, sees the world differently than most people and his seemingly joyous outlook can sometimes be hilarious when he goes on one of his humorous rants.

Okay, now that you know a brief history on Walton, et me give you the context of the comment above. On Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, Walton was on either ESPN’s Sportscenter or one of the various NBA shows the network airs. He was talking about the groundhog and whether or not it saw its shadow. Apparently, he did not see his shadow. This prompted the statement, “To cast a shadow, you have to do something.”

Immediately, I wrote it down. It struck me as something more than just about a groundhog seeing his shadow. It struck me as a giant casting a long shadow over a small town.

So, what is a shadow? For the purposes of this blog, it will be what we all think of as a shadow: a dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.

Also for this blog, we will look at this meaning as well: in reference to a position of relative inferiority or obscurity.

These two definitions go hand in hand with my personal interpretation of Bill Walton’s statement. (For the re

cord, I doubt Walton meant his comment to be taken the way I am taking it, but I’ve chosen to see it deeper than it was probably intended.)

1081455_1First, the shadow as a noun. We’ve all seen objects casting long, gray or dark shadows in its wake, especially in the early morning as the sun rises or in the early evening as the sun sets. Trees, buildings, mountains … people casts shadows as the sun’s rays hits them, blocking those rays from reaching the ground. A lot of reference to shadows in fiction are negative. He hid in the shadows. What loomed in the shadows? It lurked in the shadows. All statements that imply dread or something sinister. A shadow in and of itself is not scary at all. It’s what could be in those shadows that terrifies people.

Let’s add the other definition, because that is the one that I think is more powerful, when coupled with the first definition above. How often have you heard something like, ‘he is in the shadow of this great person,’ or ‘His people live in his shadows,’ or something like that?

As I mentioned earlier, when I heard the statement Walton made, I immediately thought of a giant standing on the outskirts of a small town, looking down on the terrified peasants beneath him. He cast such a long and ominous shadow over them, they can’t help but be scared. But what if that shadow was a good thing? What if that shadow was something good that someone has done that everyone else tries to strive for? Take away the doom and gloom and you get something far better.

michael-jordan-dunkMichael Jordan did things in the eighties and nineties on a basketball court that no one else ever had. From that point on, every great player that came into the NBA was compared to him. I don’t know how many times I have heard, Is he the next Michal Jordan? Kobe Bryant came along and did things that Jordan didn’t do. Lebron James followed. Teams built their rosters around the notion of how do we get by Jordan’s Chicago Bulls or Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers or any team James has played for. The standard of excellence keeps getting pushed higher and higher because there was a shadow of greatness left behind by someone who came before them. In order to cast a shadow, you have to do something. In order to be the greatest, you have to do something greater than the person before you.

What about Wal-Mart? Amazon? Apple? The Beatles? Michael Jackson? Prince? Stephen King? Nicholas Sparks? All of them had an idea and all of them became better than what and who came before them. They were innovative. They changed the industries they were in, and in some cases, changed the world. They did something and now they casts long shadows over those who follow. 

There was a man at the place I work. A big man, in size and stature and notoriety. He was known internationally for the great things he had done in the field he chose to excel in. He taught many people great things and he helped others achieve some of the most amazing things in their lives. He not only made his industry sit up and take notice of who he was, but he helped a lot of people along the way. He cast a vast shadow over those in his field of expertise. Many wanted to be like him. He had a little plaque on his desk that read simply: Quality is giving your best every time … with a personal touch. He lived by that quote and he achieved something that allowed for a huge shadow to be left in his wake. He was the giant on the edge of town. 

What does this have to do with me and you? Some artists—writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, craft makers, anyone who takes on an artistic endeavor—have this innate desire to be seen, to be heard, to be noticed, to be read, to be listened to. They are, in one way or another, exhibitionists waiting to happen. But it’s not enough to be seen, heard, read, noticed, listened to. They have to be felt. They need you, the fans of the various forms of artistic fields out there, to feel what you read, feel what you hear, feel what you notice, feel what you see, feel what you listen to. They need to touch you on a higher level. They need to move you to tears, to laughter, to anger, to something, to anything, but they need you to be impacted by what they do and how they do it. 

imagesArtists, such as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Kiss created music and songs that were different from the norm of their day. They either disturbed the listeners, disgusted them, or excited them. Either way, people noticed, people listened, people heard, people saw and people felt their impact. They casts shadows, no matter how large or small they may have been. 

That’s what I want to do with my writing. I’ve always done things my own way. I’ve always said I don’t want to be a cookie cutter writer or word whore. I want to pull on your heart strings. I want you to remember Hank Walker and Cory Maddox and Humphrey. I want you to remember the Claires and Danes and Charlies of my stories. I want you to feel the heart ache of Art as he stands on top of the Seth Building looking at a painting he did right before his son died. I want you to feel the pain of the scars on Nothing’s body. I want you to feel the distrust and dislike Cassidy has for Cap’s former girlfriend. I want you to understand Mickie and why she makes stick figure dolls. I want you to feel the needle pricks as Irene sews herself together. I want you to smell the grapes. I want you to have the sense of loss and confusion at the end of Homer’s days. I want you to feel the desperation of Liam as he deals with the death of … himself. 

I want you to feel something when you read one of my stories. I want it to touch you deeply, so deep that you have to share it with others. 

To cast a shadow, you must do something. 

You don’t have to be Michael Jordan to cast a shadow. Or Prince. Or some big corporation. You just have to be willing to work at it, and work hard. You also need help and you have to know when to ask for that help. Nobody gets anywhere without help. Anyone who says they got to the top without help is probably not telling the entire truth. So, that is what I am doing. 

Help me cast a shadow. 

If you’ve read my work and I have touched you in any way, tell someone about it. Leave a review on Amazon or post one to my author page. Share this blog with people. Share my Amazon author page with people. Purchase books. If you share my work on social media, use my hashtag, #horrorwithheart. 

If you’ve never read anything I’ve written, other than the blog posts on here, get one of my books. Start with Cory’s Way and go from there. Here’s what I know: you won’t be disappointed. 

I work hard at this business, but right now I’m the groundhog who doesn’t see his shadow. That will change. I’m as sure of that as you are reading these words. So, let’s go casts shadows together. 

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.
A.J. 

Musings And Such

Musings from the week of 1/13/19-1/19/19 that may interest only me.

On Tuesday I discovered you can hear yourself brushing your teeth. It’s not quite disturbing, but this type of epiphany startled me. I’ve been brushing my teeth my entire life and I never noticed the sound of brush on teeth. What makes it even more interesting is the difference in the sound depending on what part of your teeth you are brushing. For me, when I’m brushing my upper back teeth, the sound is so much louder than when I am brushing the lower back teeth. It’s also a little more hollow than when I brush the front teeth. I know, right?

My dislike for Amazon keeps growing and growing. 

On Thursday, I turned on the turntable and listened to the soundtrack for Grease on vinyl. It was a glorious sound. The next day I could not stop singing, You’re the One That I Want, getting particularly animated at the Oo oo oo parts. 

screen shot 2019-01-20 at 5.51.43 pmHere is a picture I took on one of the photo filter thingies. 

My son has a weird dance he does that makes me laugh every time. Sometimes, though, I’m not sure if his dance is funny or lewd. Either way, it is entertaining

I’ve been complaining about customer service a lot lately. I just don’t feel that most people in customer service understand that the easiest way to diffuse the temper of an angry customer is to actually act like you care about their problem. 

Speaking of customer service, there is so much more of it now than ever before. What? Am I serious? After complaining about bad customer service, how can I possibly say there is more customer service out there than ever before? It’s simple: self checkout. Customers are servicing themselves more and more these days. I guess bad human interaction will do that for yah.

Every time I shave, I look in the mirror for several seconds. That’s not too unusual, until you consider I do it as if I am Steve Perry from Journey in the video Faithfully just before he shaves off his mustache. Sadly, I can’t sing like him and the closest I can come to actually growing facial hair is akin to mimicking a porcupine’s bristles. 

1 DUM COVERAs much as I loathe Amazon, another author made a very good point in a discussion on social media. She said having your books on Amazon gives you credibility with the reading populace. I thought about this and I believe she is right. How many times have I been asked if my books were on Amazon or available for Kindle? A ton. So, I may not care much for Amazon, but it has become a necessary evil for the authors on the lower to middle of the totem pole. With that in mind, I shamelessly plug my Amazon Author Page. Check it out, purchase a couple of books, read them, leave a review. Please.

I think there needs to be a new law passed concerning elevator etiquette. I believe if you are a violator of certain unwritten rules (which I will write here for you) of elevator etiquette, you should get crotch punched by everyone on or waiting for the elevator. 

(DISCLAIMER: this is all in good fun. Please, don’t take any of it seriously. It’s a joke. Laugh a little.)

Here we go:

If you are a man and you step in front of a woman to get on the elevator instead of holding the door open for her, you should get crotch punched. Don’t tell me your defense to that bit of douche baggery is because of women’s rights. It’s called respect. If you can’t show it for a woman, then you deserve to get your junk punched.

To go with that, if someone is already in the lobby when you walk up and the elevator door opens and you step in front of the person (or people) who were there first, you get a swift jab to the boys and then you get dragged off the elevator so you can wait your turn. 

If you get on the elevator and then hold the door open for fifteen other people who aren’t even close to the elevator, you should get your crotch punched. Speaking for myself, I don’t do well in small, cramped places with a lot of people. I’m not claustrophobic at all. I just don’t like people that much to stand arm to arm, butt to crotch close to people. It’s one thing if there is someone right behind you. It would be rude if you closed the door on them, but for those people who are off in the distance, let the door close.

On the same token, but the other side, if you are the person who hits the CLOSE DOOR button several times once you get in the elevator, you should get your crotch punched. No, I don’t want you holding the door for every Tom, Dick and Harry off in the distance, but dang, how about just letting the door close on its own, Mr. Impatient.

If you fart on the elevator, you need your junk punched several times. Period. 

If you fart and then get off the elevator, everyone on there with you should be allowed to go back to the floor you got off on, hunt you down, pin you to the floor and punch you in the crotch. We don’t want your dust cropping, thank you very much.

If you get on the elevator and do not move to the back of the car so others can get on, yeah, you get your junk punched. On the same hand, if you stand by the buttons that people need to press and don’t move or, at the very least, offer to push the button for the floor they need, you get punched in the family jewels. 

If you can’t say excuse me when you bump someone with your hand cart, briefcase, shopping bags, box or whatever, yup, you guessed it, a good old crotch punch is in your future. 

If someone holds the door for you and you don’t have the courtesy to say, “Thank you,” get ready to double over. 

If someone says ‘hello’ to you on the elevator, please don’t be rude and say nothing or grunt or roll your eyes. It’s a ‘hello.’ There is nothing committal in responding in kind. Yeah, I know some folks might say they don’t have to talk to anyone if they don’t want to. You are correct, but I reserve the right to junk punch you if you are rude when someone greets you. 

If you try to get on the elevator before everyone has had a chance to get off, you need your crotch smacked. It’s simple: Don’t get on until everyone else is off.

There are others, but these are the ones I experienced in the past week. I’m sure I will amend this by the end of next week. 

My favorite Metallica song is I Disappear. 

map_img_1013283_1487183286One last thing: if you are receiving snow, make me a snowman. I live in South Carolina and in the half of the state that never gets snow, so I live vicariously through you.

As always, until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

(Now, go and brush your teeth. You know you want to.)

ASOM Gets a Cool Review

Normally, I don’t place reviews as posts on Type AJ Negative, but this one totally made my day. This is from DSJM Reviews and appears on Goodreads. I was totally blown away when I read it. It is humbling to have someone say this about my work.

Inside our minds there is darkness that sometimes forces a reality to those who think it might exist, bringing you into the world of being mad- full force with illusion; therefore, causing the state of mind to become unstable. Meaning numbness, deception, paranoia, just a cocktail of madness that is somewhere in between chaos and having a dream. The boundaries of going mad is a well thought process, quite genius if I may add. Scientists and doctors will say that madness or becoming psychotic happens in many different ways though I am only going to list a couple: abuse during child life, triggers (meaning something touched that right nerve mixed with emotional problems) cross-bred with other abusive like natures which creates the perfect recipe for chaos. It enriches the lucidity of dreams in an atmospheric way, manipulating them into your worst nightmares. Some may say it is only a nightmare but what if those dreams or nightmares become your reality in the depths of your brain, statically charging the mayhem within?

A.J Brown brings us not just one incredible short story but three amazing, bizarre, and mind altering stories- perfect in my thoughts. Every once in awhile you hear voices in your head, as you turn the pages with frigid, clammy hands and spine chilling nerves causing you to react irrationally. While you go on with word by word, they soak into you as it trickles through your processors in your mind. Slowly succumbing to the insanity within it officially makes your mind alternate between paranoia and its normal stance. In my opinion, Brown- who is the master mind behind this madness- is powerful in his words and builds the ultimate character strength with a vivid and lucid imagination of slowly making you feel like you are becoming psychotic and paranoid, that the insanity is slowly overtaking your reality.

A.J. Brown is an excellent story teller, his ability to think like this is honestly just quite maddening. I rejoice to have the chance to read this fantastic and amazing soul tearing tales that almost make you want to shake your head at the realism and connection you feel for each character. A Stitch of Madness reminds me of Stephen King, the articulate detail bringing forth to your mind that makes you question is this reality or not, that alone brings you into A.J. Brown’s personal nightmares. Anyone who would spend a little time and read this will forever become a fan of A.J. Brown. I look forward to reading more from Brown, perhaps seeing more- and longer- novels in the future. Thank you for creating a few more nightmares in my mind for sleep at night.

And now for the shameless plug: if you haven’t read A Stitch of Madness and you would like to, please go to Amazon and check it out. If you have read ASOM, I thank you, and also ask would you mind doing a review? I totally appreciate it.

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

The Value of Starbucks?

Hey. Come here. Pull up a chair. Don’t worry about it scraping across the floor—they already need to be refinished, but that won’t happen for a while. It’s okay if you get close, unless of course, you had onions or some other nasty smelling food that stinks up your breath. If that’s the case, here’s a Mentos, now come in and sit down. Trust me, you want to sit down. I have no clue how long this will take.

Today, I want to talk about something that is akin to churches asking for bigger offerings when they pass the plate. I’m saying I’m not sure how this blog will go over.

Recently, a friend of mine went on a rant about how people complain about the costs of books—especially eBooks—these days. What makes this interesting is I had a conversation with another friend about something similar. Instead of complaining about the costs of eBooks, we discussed what all it takes and how much time goes into creating a book (it doesn’t matter if it is an e-book or a print book, though print does take a little longer, the concept is the same).

I think I may have to break this up into sections so I can stay focused. Are you comfortable? Do you need a different seat? A cup of coffee? (That’s an appropriate question, considering the example I’m going to use.) Do you need to run to the bathroom before we get started? Go take care of all of that, and then come back. In the meantime, I’m going to get started.

Exhibit A: A Cup of Coffee, Anyone?

I love coffee. So does my wife. However, I only drink coffee that I make at home in my trusty Mr. Coffee pot. My wife is a little different than I am on that respect. Yes, she drinks the coffee I make in Mr. Coffee, but she also likes Starbucks. Personally, I don’t care much for the burnt coffee taste that is so strong it can put hair on your tongue.

Sure, they have their seven hundred million combinations and you can get it frapped, capped, iced and hot. You can get expresso (whatever that is) and a double shot of your favorite flavor. You can get them Short, Tall, Grande, Venti, and Trenta. I find the sizes confusing. Short is kind of like a basic coffee size. Tall is really a small. Grande is medium, venti is large and Trenta is the horse trough size. I’m not even sure Trenta is a real word. I think they just made that one up to sound fancy. (Okay, fine. It is a real world. It is Italian for ‘thirty.’ Whatever.)

For the sake of this post, I am going to stick with what Cate gets: a Grande vanilla latte with extra vanilla. I asked her a series of questions about her Starbucks experience. Here they are:

How long do you stand in line, on average before ordering? Two-three minutes.

How long do you wait after ordering? Five minutes, unless it is a busy day, then it could be up to ten minutes.

How much do you pay, on average? Between four and five dollars, if it is just me.

How long does it take you to drink it? If it is a hot drink, fifteen minutes, because I don’t want it to get cold. If it is an iced coffee, half an hour.

Thank you, Babe. I appreciate your time.

So, let me do a little math, and I am going to use the high end of the numbers Cate gave me: 3 + 10 + 30 + 20 (for the heck of it) = 63 minutes or just over an hour from the time she orders her drink until the time she is finished with it (if it’s an iced coffee).

Keep that number in mind.

Exhibit B: Putting Out a Book

For this part of the post, I am going to use the discussion I had with my friend about the amount of time it takes to put a book together, from beginning to end. Unlike with the Starbucks coffee exhibit, in this case, I will use more conservative numbers. I am also going to use my latest release, A Stitch of Madness as the example.

Are you ready for this? Here we go. (Don’t adjust your screen—there is nothing wrong with the formatting of this section.)

The stories in ASOM were written over a period of years. Let’s just say each story took 5 hours to write (yes, that is very conservative).

Then it took 5 hours to edit each one.

That is now 30 hours of working time on the stories.

I rewrote all three of the stories, and the rewrites took longer than the actual writing.

Let’s just say 7 hours went into each rewrite

Catherine’s Well was rewritten on four separate occasions. That’s 28 more hours just on that story.

So that is a total of 58 hours so far.

Stitches was rewritten twice.

Up to 72 hours.

A Sickly Sweet Scent was rewritten six times with three different endings (that is a total of 42 hours on those alone).

That is 114 hours.

Then there was the whole finding a publisher thing.

Thankfully, in this case it only took about 6 actual hours of researching and shopping it out. Stitched Smile Publications picked it up immediately.

120 hours so far.

That is three full work weeks.

But wait, I went back and edited the stories again after it was picked up. Why did I do that? I wanted it to be as good as I could make it before their editors went through it. That took about 18 hours.

Up to 138.

Then I formatted the book, reformatted it because the page numbers didn’t come out right in the print edition.

That took about 6 hours.

Now we are up to 144 hours.

Then I formatted it for the digital versions.

Fortunately, I had already formatted it for the print edition and only needed to change the TOC.

Add another 4 to it.

That is now 148 hours.

Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘Why did he do the formatting? Isn’t that the publisher’s job?’ Sure, it is, but SSP allowed me to be very hands on with the things I wanted to be hands on with, and hands off on the things I’m not all that good with. I believe a publisher and its authors should work together and help each other.

Then came all of the promoting and talking back and forth to the publishers, the contracts, all of the time it took to get the book out there. That’s an ongoing process, so let’s just cap it off at 12 hours.

That is 160 hours of work, and that is being conservative.

I got paid exactly ZERO dollars for around 160 hours of work. That is four full work weeks at forty hours a week. Remember, that is the conservative totals, and I left out several steps to boot.

Exhibit C: Minimum Wage and the Cost of a Book

The average for minimum wage in the United States is between seven and eight dollars. For this, we are going to split the difference and call it: $7.50. Now, let us do some simple math: 160 hours multiplied by $7.50 = $1200. If I got paid minimum wage as a writer, that would be the amount of money I would have made over that four work week period.

Now, let’s say the cost of an e-book is $2.99, but let us go ahead and round it up to a cool $3.00. In order to make minimum wage for one hour of work on A Stitch of Madness, I would have to sell two and a half eBooks.

Remember that 160 hours? Multiply that by 2.5. That is a total of 400 eBooks that would need to be sold (this is not including taxes or any other deductible) in order for me to make minimum wage writing a book based on the 160 work hours that went into it. Now, I don’t know what my sales numbers are right now, but I’m almost positive it isn’t 400 books worth.

One more thing to keep in mind here: that four work weeks of time is done an hour here, three hours there, two hours here and so on. It’s not like a writer with a full time job can sit for six or seven or ten hours a day and work on the books. It is a commitment.

Exhibit D: Back to Starbucks We Go

Let’s go back to Starbucks for a minute. Remember my wife? Remember how much time she said she spent from the time she got in line at the Starbucks until the time she finished her Grande Vanilla Latte? That’s right, one hour. And remember how much she said she spends each time she gets one? Between four and five dollars. Again, we will split the difference and base it on the 160 hours mentioned above.

Time for math again: 160 X 4.50 = $720.

Even if we only counted the cost of a coffee at Starbucks it would take one and a half eBooks to buy one Grande Vanilla Latte. It would take 240 books to buy 160 Starbucks coffees. Crazy, I know. Why would anyone want to buy coffee at Starbucks 160 times?

Exhibit E: Value

I’ve stated on numerous occasions over the last few years that people value things differently. By value, I mean, how much would you pay for something you want? I’ll give you a couple of examples:

I don’t like steak. Yeah, I know. Who doesn’t like steak? Umm…me. Since I don’t like steak I am not going to spend $15.00 at a steakhouse for one. I don’t care if they come with baked potatoes on the side—a baked potato is worth only so much. A steak holds very little value to me.

Many folks value their Starbucks coffee and will spend more than that five bucks my wife spends on it. They value that coffee and are willing to pay what I consider too much for it.

Each person values things at a different level and different price. I hope that makes as much sense to you as it does in my head.

Exhibit F: Devaluing Art

Art is subjective. Everyone has an opinion about it. I don’t care much for Taylor Swift songs. I just don’t. Are they good? Sure they are. Are they my cup of tea? No. Would I listen to them on an everyday basis or throw one of her albums on and listen to them on the trusty headset? No. That doesn’t mean her songs are not art.

I have a friend who paints and draws some of the most amazing images. He sells them. Recently, he had been commissioned to do a painting for someone. They agreed on the price. He got to work, finished the picture and let the guy know. Before the customer even looked at the painting, he wanted my friend to lower the price. This did not sit well with my friend, and an argument ensued.

‘I can order similar pictures online for half the price.’

My friend ended up not selling the piece. His work was devalued by the customer because of what he could get online. Sad but true.

That brings us to eBooks. Are they real books? Yes, yes they are. It takes a lot of work to put out any book, eBooks included. Is it something you can hold in your hands? Is it tangible? Yes, yes it is, though maybe not as tangible as a paper book where you have to flip the page to turn it (and not just swipe a screen with your finger), or dog ear or use a bookmark so you don’t lose the page you are on when you close the book.

The problem? ‘It’s an eBook. It shouldn’t be so expensive.’ Answer me this: why not? Why should we charge less for the same amount of work? You wouldn’t take a job making less than someone else doing the exact same job would you? So, why charge less than what a book is worth?

‘It’s not a print book, so there is no paper involved.’

True. So why not cut the price by twenty percent instead of seventy to eighty? Most paperbacks these days cost around ten to fifteen dollars, but let’s use the lower end of that for now. If I sell one paperback for $10.00 (which is still cheap) I would have to sell three eBooks and still not make the same amount of money as I did the print version.

The same amount of work went into creating the book—the art, if you will—but one version of it is discounted significantly, partially because it is not paper.

Exhibit G: Authors Do Not Rake in the Dough

I probably shouldn’t do this, but do you remember that $3.00 price tag for an eBook? Let’s just say you purchased it for your Kindle. Well, the author doesn’t make three bucks. Nope, the author only makes a percentage of that. There are two basic royalty amounts on Amazon: 35% and 70%.

If an eBook is purchased at $3.00 and the royalty is set for 70%, the author makes $2.10. Selling two eBooks at that price won’t even get you one Starbucks coffee. Take that same price at 35%. That comes to a whopping…$1.05. That would be the amount of money an author makes per eBook sold.

Want a little perspective? It would take selling 7 eBooks at $3.00 with a 35% royalty rate in order to make the average minimum wage in the United States.

But why 35%, you ask? Well, there is this thing call KDP Select. If you enroll your title into KDP Select you can get that 70% royalty, but your book also gets added to the Kindle Free Lending Library, which means the author isn’t making 70% if it is ‘borrowed’.

Exhibit H: Let’s Put This All Together Now

Let me go ahead and state this: Not everyone will agree with me on this blog post. Some may even be argumentative about this. Are the numbers accurate for everyone? No. They are numbers based on my experience and royalties I have received on sells of my books.

Here is where the rubber meets the road. Most authors write because they enjoy it. Yes, we want to make money. If we didn’t then many of us would stick to writing and our stories would never see the light of day. Why? Because it takes so much time to do all of the other stuff involved that is not writing in order to get the work published.

Writers like to entertain people. Writing is difficult, just as most art forms are. It may be easy for some, but not for most. Sometimes it is agonizing.

I’ve said all of the stuff above to kind of paint a picture of a writer’s life who has a full time job (not one who can afford to write for a living). It takes hours and hours of hard work and commitment to complete a book and get it ready for publishing. I left out all the stuff about rejections from editors and agents and publishers. I left out all the criticism writers face. I left out a lot of stuff on purpose—it just didn’t fit what I was going for.

Here is what I won’t leave out: You, the reader, can make a difference in a writer’s life. You can.

‘How?’ you ask? Great question. Here is how: Buy their work. Don’t get it for free through Amazon Prime (yes, I know you pay for the service, but it doesn’t help the writers you like). Read the book. Review the book (this is a very important step, but that is a topic for later). Let other folks know about it through social media or by mouth. Like their author pages, both on Facebook and Amazon (if they have one). Subscribe to their blogs and newsletters (you will get to know more about your favorite authors that way). If you can, drop them a line and let them know you enjoy their work. Those little notes are great ego boosters. When you can, purchase the print books. If you can get them directly from the author, do that (and if it is in your heart, pay more than what they are selling it for. By doing this, you are placing a value on their work, and that is as important for the writer as most anything else you can do). If you ask, they will probably sign the book for you.

And don’t complain about the price of the book. When you break it all down, writers make very little money on hours and hours of work.

Exhibit I: One More Thing And, Yeah, It Is Important

I will never put my books up for free on Amazon. I won’t. I don’t understand the concept of it. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the concept of giving work away in order to get new readers. I do that each month with The Brown Bag Stories. But, as I stated above, with authors making so very little money off of eBooks priced at $3.00 a piece, then why give it away at even less than the marginal amount we do make?

KDP Select allows for five days throughout the term of the book’s enrollment into the program where the author or publisher can make the book free to purchase. Free to purchase isn’t purchasing. To purchase something you have to spend something on it in return. If no money is spent, then there is no purchase made. Sure, there are downloads to be had, but I have a problem with giving books away for free on Amazon.

Would you like to know why? Sure you would.

A lot of people will download a book for free and never read it. They see it’s free and download it, just in case they decide they want to read it. Does it help a writer’s numbers? Not really. Sure, your numbers will jump and your rank will increase, but if everyone who downloads the book for free were interested in it in the first place, maybe they should have paid for it.

Here’s the other thing, and this is going to come across as harsh, but this is my opinion: if someone who wasn’t willing to spend $3.00 on your book downloads it for free, the value of your book–your hard work–is $0.00 to them. Let that sink in for a minute. Basically, that is saying all of your time and energy and care, all of the love you put into creating the best possible book you can has a net value of zero dollars.

Also, if one thousand people download it, you still make nothing, and there goes the potential of a thousand customers. So remember, 70% of zero is still zero.

Here’s another way of looking at it: Would you work a job for 160 hours for free? Before you answer this question, think about it. Would you go to a job and work at that job for forty hours a week for four weeks knowing you would get no compensation for your time and energy? I bet the majority of people will say ‘no.’ If you wouldn’t work a job for free, please, don’t make your favorite writers do the same thing.

In Conclusion

 I’ve wrestled with this topic for a while now. Some people probably won’t care much for it. Some people may even say I’m just screaming for attention. Call it what you want. Like I said at the beginning, this might be viewed the same as being asked to pay tithes at your local Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Catholic, and a whole slew of other churches. It might be unpopular.

I know a lot of really good writers, most of whom you have probably never heard of, all of whom are passionate about their work. You may not even know who I am. You may have stumbled upon this blog or had someone share it with you and you have never heard of A.J. Brown. That’s okay. It is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t.

This business is hard. Finding readers is difficult. Finding readers who become fans is even more difficult. Making money? Yeah, that’s a luxury most of us don’t have (myself included). Making a living at this? That isn’t even close to a luxury.

If you have stumbled across someone whose work you enjoy, let them know. Spread the word about their books, leave reviews for them, purchase their work. I’m not talking about myself here (unless, of course, I am your favorite writer). I’m talking about all of us who do this with a passion and a heart for writing.

For now, I’m going to go switch on Mr. Coffee and do a little writing. These stories aren’t going to write themselves. I’m on the clock, now. Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Pricing and Value

Good day Faithful Readers. I would like to take a moment or two to address something that, as a writer, is important to me. Pricing of books. Uh oh. Did I just get a collective groan and roll of the eyes? Hold on. Hold on. Stick with me for a few minutes. The reason I want to talk about book pricing is because it is a hot button for a lot of readers, writers and publishers. The other reason is because of a video I watched back in December of an author who wanted to respond to what I took as a mean-spirited e-mail directed at her. Her response held all of the true emotions I think anyone would go through after reading such an e-mail. However, she doesn’t show any anger, an emotion I thought would have been justified.

The e-mail was a direct result of the Person in Question (PIQ from here on out) having to spend $4.99 on an e-book. Personally, I don’t think that is high, not for a novel and certainly not for one that the PIQ said was quite possibly the best thing that author had ever written. There are two things I really want to touch on about this particular subject based on the video response of the author.

The first is based on a statement in the e-mail:

…While the books are beautifully written, I don’t get why you have to charge so much for your books. It doesn’t take that much to write a book these days or publish it. Everyone is doing it…

I completely disagree with this statement, especially the ‘it doesn’t take much to write a book these days’ portion. And here is why: there is one component to writing a book that every author must have in order to do so. That is time. Without time there is no book. Without taking that time and placing your butt in a chair for hours on end there is no book. Without taking that time and researching the subject matter there is no book. Without taking that time and figuring out which direction to go with the storyline or which characters you really want to develop there is no story. Without taking that time to find an editor and a cover artist and beta readers and proofreaders and then doing all the edits there is no book. Without taking that time to format the book, preview it, reformat it, preview it again, the book is shoddy at best. Without taking that time and doing all the marketing and promotional work people don’t know about the book.

Here’s the thing about time: you never get it back. You never get the time invested into the book back. You never get the time away from your family and friends back. You never get the hours and hours back. I’m a firm believer in time is the greatest asset a person has, and for writers, they just don’t seem to ever have enough of it. There is no hourly wage for writers when it comes to the amount of time they spend writing, editing, and promoting books.

The other thing about that particular statement I disagree with is it doesn’t take a lot to write a book. For authors, it is not just about writing a book, but telling a story. For me, if I write a story and by the end of it, I think it sucks, well guess who never gets to read it: you, the readers. If it sucks, it sucks. That’s the bottom line. If I struggle to write a story, then I know you will struggle to read it, so it stays on my computer and never sees the light of day.

Good writers look at their work as an art form. For them, it is important that the story is pleasing to the mind. Just like a painter or a sculptor wants to wow people with visual beauty, and just like a musician wants the listeners to truly enjoy what they hear, good writers want their words to engage the readers, to be enjoyable to the readers, to be pleasing to the readers.

However, there are those out there who jot down a few words, create a cover and do no edits and throw them online for sale. They, well, they make things more difficult for the ones who put in real time and effort to bring you, the readers, an enjoyable experience. They must be the ones the PIQ refers to when she/he said, ‘everyone is doing it.’

This leads me to the second point, which is also something the PIQ said in his/her e-mail: the PIQ read the book, said it was great and then returned it because the PIQ didn’t feel he/she should have to pay $4.99 for an e-book. Let me see if I got this straight: The PIQ purchased the book. The PIQ read the book. The PIQ then returned the book after coming to the conclusion that the book was the best thing the author had ever written. It sounds to me like the PIQ quite possibly enjoyed the book.

Honestly, and maybe this is just me here, but this strikes me as very close to stealing. He/she read the book and then demanded his/her money back, not because the product wasn’t good, but because she/he felt it was overpriced. Yeah, I know there is such a thing as buyer’s remorse, but this isn’t the case. If the PIQ didn’t like the price of the book, maybe he/she shouldn’t have bought it. You’re not going to go to Barnes and Nobel or Books A Million, buy a book, read it and then take it back. You’re not going to go to a restaurant, order a meal, eat it and then refuse to pay for it, even though it was the best meal you’ve ever eaten. The PIQ essentially received the product for free by returning it.

How is that right? How is that even allowed?

You bought it. You read it. You enjoyed it. You keep it.

Dear Faithful Readers, I would never want you to be dissatisfied with one of my books, but is it fair to get the product, enjoy the product and then not pay for it? If you did that in the restaurant I mentioned above you would be arrested and carted off to jail. How in the world is this allowed?

This bothers me. It doesn’t anger me so much as it saddens me. The reader admittedly enjoyed the book. That’s what I keep going back to. If the PIQ enjoyed it, why would it not be worth the 4.99 price tag?

And another thing: writers don’t make that much money off a sale. So having the book returned, even though it was the best thing the author had ever written…that stings. And it’s wrong. There are no two sides of this coin. Sure, someone out there will play devil’s advocate and argue for the reader, but go back to what the PIQ said, and any argument that can be made would be invalid.

Writers don’t price books high, we price them low. The big publishers, they price books high. But us little guys and gals, we don’t. We price them low for two reasons: 1) We are mostly unknown and want readers to purchase our books and read them. (Though this is the case for many of us, and yes, we want readers, I will not give my books away for free. Free sales are not sales and many folks who get the books for free don’t read them, and even fewer leave reviews about them or tell folks about them.) And, 2) Writers understand the value of both money and time. We try to give you a good value for your hard earned dollar and we try to make sure we don’t waste your time by putting out garbage.

Sure, writing is easy. It’s as simple as putting one word after another. However, forming coherent sentences that make sense, and creating a story out of those coherent sentences is not as easy as some believe. Sure, anyone can write ‘See Spot Run,’ but telling us what Spot looks like, where he is running and why he is running is an entirely different thing…and much harder.

There is a component to everything people spend their money on. It is Value. What may be too high at 4.99 for some, isn’t high enough for others. For a writer, musician, painter, sculptor, singer and so on, we value our work much higher than what we sell it for. But we know, in order to get it into customers’ hands, we have to sell it low.

It’s all in how much you value something. I’m not a fan of porterhouse steaks, so guess what I won’t pay a lot of money for? I do, however, value a good book and will pay a little more for one of those than I would a porterhouse steak.

Let me put it another way: Do you like Starbucks coffee? Or any coffee that you buy from anywhere, for that matter? What does that generally run you? Four dollars? Five? Six? If you like that particular coffee, then there is a good chance you are going to buy it at somewhere between four and six or seven dollars. How long does it take to make that coffee? Two minutes? Four minutes? Let’s just say five minutes. How long does it take to drink that coffee? Ten minutes? Twenty Minutes? Let’s just say it takes forty minutes to drink a cup of coffee that took five minutes to make that you spent five bucks on.

How about a little perspective from a writer’s point of view? I began working on my novel, Cory’s Way, in 2008. It was released on Amazon in December of 2014 for the same amount of money ($4.99) as the young lady’s book who was told in an e-mail that someone returned her book because it was too expensive (even though she enjoyed it and thought it was the best work the writer had ever done, and that it was beautifully written, no less). What took me six years to put out cost the same price as a cup of coffee that takes five minutes to make and forty minutes to drink. A twelve ounce drink is worth $4.99, but an e-book is not? I guess it really is in how and what people value.

Let me say this last thing: If you buy a book and read it, please keep it. It’s only fair and it’s the right thing to do. As a writer, I work hard to offer you the best I can give you. Most of us do. Honestly, and again, this may be me, but when the PIQ returned the book because he/she thought it was too much, though enjoyable and the best thing that writer had ever written, he/she belittled the value of the book to the writer. Yes, I used the word belittled. Some may disagree, but that’s okay. This is how I feel. Let me tell you, the value of that book to that writer is so much more than $4.99, but the sting of having to give that little bit of money back after the book was read and loved…that just hurts…and it’s wrong. There are no two ways about this. It was wrong.

You bought it. You read it. You loved it. You keep it.

Thank you for coming by today, and I hope I didn’t bore you too much with this particular blog. Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another…

 

 

Girls and Monsters by Anne Michaud

In the Dark of Horror

Growing up in the suburbs of Montreal wasn’t easy for Tall Goth Girl – especially considering she wore black against neon colors, loved gloomy tunes instead of pretty boy bands, and preferred everything horror rather than rainbows and butterflies. From early on, the dark called to her and tainted her world with skeletons and ghosts.

After years of bullying and torment, Tall Goth Girl decided to drop the black cloth and adhered to society’s perception of acceptance. Never giving up her dark music and darker thoughts, she tried really hard to ignore the whispers calling her to go back to her black roots, but ignoring them only brought nightmares of ghouls and revenants.

So what was Tall Goth Girl to do? Rebel against her own self and ignore her calling to write dark horror in a world of gore and spooks? No, screamed the creatures of the night. Finding a voice buried for so long proved difficult at first, until inspiration struck violently and Visitors’ proses shaped into recalls of haunted nights and unexplained phenomena.

Short stories published in magazines and anthologies weren’t enough for Tall Goth Girl, as she suffered greatly of the writing disease and its side-effects of published rush and award nominated syndrome. So she wrote about the night and its habitants, about characters embracing the darkness and others fighting it – she wrote about girls and monsters.

Against all odds and beasts, Tall Goth Girl’s first collection of novellas is published by DarkFuse, a small press perfect for writers allured by dusk and doom. But what did she learn through the process of life and writing? Taming yourself to be something you’re not never works out, cause your true self comes through whether you want to or not. Embrace the darkness, especially if it’s part of your soul.

She, who likes dark things never grew up. She never stopped listening to gothic, industrial and alternative bands like when she was fifteen. She always loved to read horror and dystopia and fantasy, where doom and gloom drip from the pages.

She, who was supposed to make films, decided to write short stories, novelettes and novels instead. She, who’s had her films listed on festival programs, has been printed in a dozen anthologies and magazines since.

She, who likes dark things prefers night to day, rain to sun, and reading to anything else.

Who is she? Anne Michaud, author of Girls & Monsters.

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She blogs: Anne Michaud, Writer

She Facebooks: Anne Michaud

She tweets @annecmichaud

Girls & Monsters at Amazon

Girls & Monsters Goodreads page

G&M photo GampMBANNER.jpg

Giveaway!! Softcover copy + The Monster Collection Skellies, 5 pieces handcrafted by the author: GIRLS & MONSTERS Giveaway

WordPress Giveway

The winner will be announced during the Live Chat on release day, April 30th at 9PM east.

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How ‘Bout Some News?

Good evening.

I know. I know. It’s been a short while since I’ve updated the blog. There is dust on the floors and desk, and oh my goodness, look at the caked on grime on the monitor. There are cobwebs in the corners and, ugghh, look at the crud on the ceiling fan blades.

I’m going to be sneezing by the time I get done cleaning.

This will be a short update. If you have followed the blog any length of time, you know I went through a major change, one that GREATLY affects my writing. I had to make some decisions, which have led me to some changes. There are more to follow, I’m sure.

With this change in my writing, I hope those who read Along the Splintered Path or any of my other stories, will still enjoy what I put out. The style will be the same, the character development will not change. Some of the narration will change, as will other parts that I think needs to be addressed. But the stories… the stories are the main thing and they will still be good old A.J. Brown pieces.

With that in mind, I would like to remind folks of a couple of things:

The previously mentioned Along the Splintered Path is currently on sale at Amazon for a paltry .99. That’s right. Not even a full dollar. It will remain that way for the entire month of May. If you haven’t picked up a copy of ATSP yet, I ask you to consider doing so. And, if you pick up a copy, if you would consider leaving a review, that would be great. And this writer would greatly appreciate it.

You can find Along the Splintered Path here

And then there is this:

Midnight Echo Magazine

One of my stories will appear in this publication very soon. Check out the link for a teaser.

That story is a bit taboo and I’m proud of the piece. Though I can say, I may not write another story like it—I’m not the same person or writer who wrote that piece a while back. I am a different person and writer now, but I’m very proud of this piece and this publication.

One more thing and I’ll be done.

I am working on a new collection. This one I will not be shopping around. I’m going at this one alone. It will be titled, Southern Bones, and it will consist of at least thirteen stories, most of them previously published, but no longer able to be found. However they will all be rewritten pieces. And, guess what? There will be a couple of originals in there as well.

So far, four titles have been selected:

Three Hundred Seventy-Eight
Satanas
Liza’s Redemption
Dirty Old Town

How about a little teaser? A brief portion, from Satanas, a story about a ghostly bull.

Wayne reached the fence first, hopping over the top rail with ease. Jimmy followed him, but his foot got caught on one of the boards and he tumbled to the ground. His arm snapped, the bone tearing through skin. Blood spattered the ground. He let out a string of screams and rolled around on the ground clutching the wounded arm. Waylon dove under the bottom rail, rolling to one side. He got to his knees pretty quickly and looked back.

We yelled for William to get up and run (all of us except for Jimmy, who was screaming in pain, yelled, our hearts in our throats and probably muffling our voices). Wayne stood on the lower railing of the fence waving his arms madly. He looked like a third base coach in baseball, one arm rotating over and over as if he were waving a runner to go home, go home Johnny boy and don’t stop until you’re back in the dugout. Waylon stayed on the ground, his hands in his hair as if he were going to pull all of it out. My hands were cupped to the sides of my mouth and my throat hurt from yelling so loud. My ears popped and began to ring.

William slowly stood as if he were dazed. He held his stomach, then started to run, but something was wrong. He stumbled and fell to his knees. His mouth hung open and his face had become pink. Our yells turned into screams of panic as Satanas barreled down on William, its head down, its horns outward.

William got to his feet and staggered a few feet. He still held onto one of the apples. I wanted to close my eyes. I wanted to run home and get in the bed, pull the blankets over my head and stay there the rest of spring break, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t look away no matter how bad I wanted to.

Sometimes the world slows down during events as they happen. It’s as if God is giving you a chance to do something about it, to avoid a disaster and possibly even save a life or two. Time didn’t slow down and there was no saving William. He stumbled a few feet, one hand clutching tight to his stomach. He looked up at us just before Satanas reached him. His face was flushed red and it was obvious to me he had been trying to regain his breath with little success. His eyes snapped open and I swear they came out of their sockets–in truth they didn’t–when Satanas plowed into him, its horns ripping through William’s back and chest. A spray of blood exploded from his mouth and chest and that bull lifted him high in the air…

That’s all for now. I’m going to try and get back to updating the blog on an every two to three day basis. Thank you for reading.

Until we meet again, my friends, read on, read long.

My Wife Believes In Me and Other Notes

My wife believes in me. I’m not sure why, but I’m not about to asks questions. I just like the fact that she believes in me. She keeps me going, keeps me smiling—and for those who have known me for a long time, you know I’m not a big smiler, but when she’s around, the smiles are, too.

The old saying is something like: ‘Behind every successful man is a great woman.’ A lot of men will argue that, but the smart ones won’t. I’m not successful and I’m not all that smart, but I have a great woman and she doesn’t stand behind me, she stands beside me.

If not for my wife, Catherine (though she prefers to go by Cate), I would have quit writing a long time ago. No one has ever encouraged me the way she has. No one else has said, ‘keep going,’ or ‘you’ll get there one day.’ No one else has had to listen to me talk about it as much as she has either. I’m surprised she hasn’t started charging for advice. Five cents, please.

For all you male writers out there, if you have a wife who supports your efforts and stands by you even though you absolutely drive her bonkers with your constant chatter about writing this or that or the other (and we all know there is a LOT of the other), tell her thank you. Because, whether you believe it or not, the support your woman gives you is worth more than any book contract you can sign.

So, to my wife, Cate, thank you for always supporting me and putting up with my constant writer’s gab (and all my other issues as well).

***

Recently, this article surfaced out on the blogosphere:

Q&A Why Write Amazon Reviews

Let’s couple that link with this one:

Amazon Reader Reviews: 12 Things Everybody and His Grandmother Needs to Know

Both of these articles are about doing reviews and why readers should do them.

If you will allow me, I would like to quote something from the second of these two links:

It… means that Amazon reviews, which were only mildly significant three years ago, now have a make-or-break impact on an author’s sales.

Yes, the reviews (or lack of) on Amazon have a great effect on how a book sells or even if it sells. So do the ‘likes’ and the ‘tags,’ which you, the readers can also add.

I encourage all of you out there to consider reviewing books that you purchase from Amazon. It can help the writer tremendously. Also, remember the stars thing. If you give a book glowing praise, then your star rating should reflect the same high praise. On the other hand, if you don’t particularly like a book, tell the writer why. Don’t just say, hey, this book is lousy. It sucks. That doesn’t help the writer and it only deters other readers from considering the book. Be objective in your reviews, and no, you don’t have to go full out and write an essay on the books.

It’s not all that much work and it can help the struggling writer.

Some of you may have just rolled your eyes and I bet you’re thinking, ‘this is all just a plea to get more sells and reviews.’

You’re not too far off in your assessment, but it’s really the other way around. It’s about garnering more reviews to help with sells, and not just for me, but other writers as well.

If you liked a book, or even if you didn’t like one, share your thoughts—it is more helpful than you think it is.

One caveat: If you leave a bad review, there is no reason to be mean. Be honest and sincere, but keep the meanness. Those aren’t helpful, only hurtful. Helpful reviews are the honest and sincere ones, whether they are good or bad.

Now you can roll your eyes.

I now ask those of you out there who have read Along the Splintered Path, to consider reviewing it, consider liking it, consider adding your own tags or like the tags already there.

Don’t just do it for me, but for other writers as well. We all appreciate the help.

Until we meet again, my friends…

A Reality Check and A New Plan

Hmmm…

Writers. We get stars in our eyes from time to time. We see what others are doing and we think, ‘hey, why can’t I do that?’ or ‘hey, why can’t I have that type of success?’

I don’t think that applies only to writers, but people in general. However, for writers, this business is tough and it’s easy to believe that if someone else can do it, why can’t we? Sure, it has become easier to get published, with the Internet and E-books and Web-Zines. The process is so much simpler than what it was even ten years ago. We don’t need big publishers or editors to tell us whether we’re good enough or whether readers will like our work. We can do it ourselves with self publishing now.

Readers have access to all sorts of books, just by turning on their computer and browsing from the comforts of their own homes. If they have an e-reader, then they can browse pretty much anywhere there is a wireless connection. Readers don’t even have to read anymore. They can listen to audio books while driving or working out or just sitting on their couch with their eyes closed.

Yes, the world of publishing has changed. Those changes are good and bad, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Just for the record, I’m in a relatively good mood. I’ve been listening to Third Day all morning and I’ve been developing a plan for a new e-book collection.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me back up.

Last night, I was a little down. I’m not going to lie. I was down because the sells of my e-book collection, Along the Splintered Path weren’t all that great for the first quarter. The free download period was great–1400 downloads in that five day period. The sells, not so great. The negative to this is the sells were, as I’ve mentioned twice and this will be the third time, not what I thought they would be. But there are at least 1400 people who now have Along the Splintered Path on their Kindle or computer. That’s a positive in my… err… book. No pun intended.

The way I see it (and believe me, I struggled yesterday seeing it this way) is that the e-book has the potential to garner at least 1400 new readers. And I’ve always said I want readers. Sells would be nice, but without readers, you don’t end up with sells.

It’s a pretty simple equation really: Book + Readers = Sells.

Before I go any further, I would like to thank those people who bought Along the Splintered Path. I would also like to thank those folks who downloaded it during the free promotional week. It’s not lost on me that over 1400 people thought enough of my book, to purchase or download it. Thank you. Sincerely, from the top of my heart.

[[Side Note: I’ve never understood the whole bottom of my heart thing. I would think the most gratitude and love would come from the top of the heart. What’s left over was at the bottom, kind of like backwash in a cup. Yeah, yucky. I know. End Side Note]]

Here’s the real problem: I’m relatively unknown. Very few folks know about me and if that’s the case, then the readers aren’t going to be there and if those readers aren’t there, then neither are the sells.

1 Book + 0 Readers = 0 Sells

So, being down a little, I talked to Tracie McBride (a wonderful writer and really nice gal). We chatted about the business and she stated something I had thought and even read a few times at various web sites and forums: If you have a book out and people like it, then they might look for other things you’ve put out. That’s not how she said it, but I can’t remember it word for word. What it boils down to is if you want to try and get your name out there, then one e-book isn’t going to necessarily do it for you. You have to have a slew of things out there, places where readers can find your work.

You know, she’s right.

When you’re a virtual unknown, even in today’s world of e-books, you have to make your mark and for genre writers, such as myself, you have to really put yourself out there.

So…

Today I have begun the process of putting out a new book.

What? For real and for true?

Absolutely.

But, A.J., your sells haven’t been all that great.

Yes, you are correct. However, as a writer, I have to develop a fan base, no matter how small or large it is. If one reader out there likes my work and wants more of it, then I am obligated to that one reader. I hope it’s more than one, but if it’s not, then I want to entertain that individual.

I’ve said before that I wish to put out a collection titled, Southern Bones, and starting today I will be perusing my stories, both published and unpublished to find between eight and ten pieces to put together in an e-book.

I’ve already talked to a very talented artist about creating the cover. Just watching the way his eyes seemed to dazzle when I told him what I wanted made the blood flow a little faster. It got me excited, the way a new book by my favorite author does. Or the upcoming Lord of the Rings LEGOs.

There are a couple of other things up my sleeve, which is funny, since I rarely ever where long sleeves. But I’ll save those for when Southern Bones is closer to being released.

For the record, the stories that have been previously published that end up in Southern Bones will be reworked and probably overhauled before appearing in the e-book. In some cases, that complete rewriting will lead to much better stories.

Stay tuned. More updates as I go through the process of selecting stories and putting the collection together.

For now, I’m going to remind folks about Along the Splintered Path. This three story e-collection was released in January by Dark Continents Publishing and can be found at Amazon here.

Pick up a copy, give it a read. If you have, please leave a review. It is much appreciated by me and all the voices in my head, including Herbie.

Right now there are no stars in my eyes. Only reality. There are things I want to accomplish in this business. In order to do so I have to think reasonably and I have to get more work out there. I’ve always told folks, the only way to get better at something is to work at it. The same goes with sells of anything. If you want it to do well, you have to put it out there.

That’s part of the plan, at least for now.

Until we meet again, my friends…

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