Monthly Archives: January 2013

Independent Authors Need to Think Globally & Act Locally

Think Globally – Act Locally

It’s a phrase that gets thrown about quite a bit in discussions about the environment, but I think it can be put to good use when it comes to marketing your books as well.

The phrase urges people to think about the “big picture” (global) while focusing their efforts on a small piece of it (local).

Every author who releases a book these days understands, or should understand, the value of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, My Space, Goodreads, and whatever other sites you can think of, are invaluable tools in reaching people from all over the world without paying high-priced PR Firms or Marketing Consultants—but in your quest to sell books to your many fans in Australia, don’t forget about the readers in your hometown.

Even if you live in a small town, like mine, there are still thousands of potential readers who probably don’t know you exist. Try to focus at least half of your marketing efforts on them.

Half? Crazy, you say? Why spend half of my efforts focusing on ten-thousand people when I can reach millions on facebook???

Here’s why;

Don’t think about them as ten-thousand people…think of them as ten-thousand FREE marketing assistants. Each one of them has friends, relatives and coworkers. Chances are they also have facebook accounts, twitter followings and Pinterest boards. Ipso-facto…if you can reach millions with your one facebook account, imagine your reach if you get just one-thousand of your local fan base to post or tweet about you.

viral

 

Any effort you can put into having a signing at a local library, book store, bar, restaurant or laundromat is bound to pay off way beyond the fifteen or twenty books you sell.

Let me give you an example;

Last year I met another author in my town named Armand Rosamilia. We quickly became friends and soon began tossing marketing ideas around to gain support right here at home. We both write books that take place in our own community, but we thought our local “presence” could use some bolstering. One night, while enjoying a pint at a local watering hole with several friends, the idea of collaborating on a “short story” was brought up. It soon became a full blown group discussion and it was determined that we should set the story in town and use as many local people for characters as possible.

Our goal was a 10,000 word short story featuring several locals as characters with the action taking place in a well-known local setting.

What we ended up with was a 24,000 word novella. We also included preview chapters from each of our recent releases along with bios and lists of our back works.

cover2We arranged a book signing at the bar where the idea was conceived and spread the word by creating a facebook “event”. Naturally, we told all of the named characters about it and invited them to attend and guess what they did?

They came, they brought friends and relatives and they facebooked, tweeted and pinterested the crap out of it.

Both Armand and I saw immediate spikes in sales of our back catalogs and the little novella we wrote (in roughly four days) sold fifty copies at the signing in less than two hours. Our facebook and twitter followings increased greatly as well.

So when you’re working on your marketing strategy, by all means incorporate social media as much as you can, but don’t forget the power of good-old-fashioned word of mouth. Build your local following as much as possible and let them work for you as well.

Think of each local reader as “patient zero” in your efforts to go viral.

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…and Now You Know the Rest of the Story.

I was asked recently What made you decide to write a book?

While I was answering the question I found myself thinking…I’ve been asked this question a thousand times—perhaps it’s time to write the answer down so I can save people the trouble of listening to me explain it.

Sometimes I think it wasn’t a matter of me deciding to write a book…but more of a book deciding I needed to write it.

Why did you decide to write a book?

It started way back in 1988.

At the time, I would read anything in front of me. Being a single parent I had plenty of free time and no money, so reading was the most cost-effective entertainment I could find.

One day, out of the blue, an idea for a story of my own came to me. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but it wouldn’t go away. Eventually I decided to give it a try—not because I thought of myself as author material, but because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. So I bought a five-subject spiral-bound notebook and started writing (Remember – in 1988 the home computer was still a thing of the future).

I had no idea how to write a book, mind you. I just figured Start at the beginning and write until you get to the end.

The story was going to be about Karma and how the actions of one person will not only affect his/her life…but will also affect the lives of people he/she doesn’t even know. I called it Full Circle.

At the time, I didn’t tell anybody I had started writing a book, but once I was about ten chapters into it I told my best friend and his wife (his wife was also an avid reader). I asked her if she would read what I had and tell me what she thought. She agreed and told me it was pretty good and that I should keep going. So I did.

I wrote another five chapters, but it was about this time that life started getting in the way, so I put it aside and kept telling myself I’d get back into it as soon as I “had time”.

That was 25 years ago…

In 2006 I moved to Florida and Full Circle, along with any thoughts I had of being a writer, were long since forgotten…but sometimes you can’t deny something if it’s meant to be.

In April of 2007 I had a dream.

It was like most dreams…really weird. It involved two friends of mine who had never met, one of whom I hadn’t seen in over twenty years.

The following day the dream was stuck in my head. I couldn’t stop trying to figure out where it had come from. By the time I left work I was thinking about nothing else and when I got home I went straight to the computer and started writing.

snoopy

I began with the line The whole thing started with a dream.

From there I was off and running, and, since I had no social life, I had plenty of time to write. It wasn’t long before the story began to take shape.

Interesting side story;

At that time, I was living with my brother and his girlfriend. After a few weeks my brother asked me what the hell I was doing on the computer all the time. So I told him I was writing a book.

I fully expected him to laugh, but he didn’t. His first response was ‘I think you should put me and DeeDee in it’ (DeeDee being his girlfriend). So I did. I literally added them into the scene I was writing when he said it.

My brother’s name is Ted—he is a huge New England Patriots fan—and his girlfriend called him Brewski…after former Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi. So, as of that moment, Brewski and Didi were introduced into the story. It was only supposed to be a cameo – but they were such good characters I have used them in every book since.

Anyway – back to the original story.

It took me about six or seven months to finish the first draft of Living the Dream—and it totally sucked.

The fact that it sucked didn’t bother me, because I had set out to write a book and, regardless of the quality, I had done it. I could now move on to my next dream…jamming with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page (I have a feeling that one won’t be so easy).

Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t work that way.  Something wouldn’t allow me to let that particular dog lie—so after a couple of weeks I re-opened the file and started rewriting from the beginning. I went through it from start to finish and when I was done it sucked much less, so I printed out a few copies and begged a few people to read it and tell me what they thought.

After I got their feedback I went through the story again (refer to my How I Write post for more info about this aspect of the process) and again. Finally, almost a year after I started, I had a finished manuscript which (in my opinion) didn’t suck very much at all.

So, like I said…I didn’t decide to write a book, as much as the book decided I needed to write it.

…and in case you’re wondering, I do intend to finish Full Circle, as soon as I have time!

As always, thank you for reading.

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Guest Post from Armand Rosamilia – an interview with Dale Comstock

Welcome – Please enjoy this guest post from my good friend Armand Rosamilia. Armand’s latest work is called “Miami Spy Games” – it’s a fast-paced action thriller with Russians, top secret weapons and zombies…check it out!

MSG Cover

Dale Comstock plays a key role in my Miami Spy Games spy thriller series, and I thought it would be fun to take a moment and chat with the man that actually inspired the character in the story… Dale Comstock himself, a larger than life American Bad Ass who was gracious enough to let us use him in the book. Take it away, Dale!

Give the readers a little background on Dale Comstock

I am the son of a 20-year Army-Vietnam veteran. I joined the Army right after my father retired and I graduated high school in 1981. I enlisted and stayed in for 20 years too, and my son is now in the Army undergoing Special Forces training to be a Green Beret medic. He intends to follow my career path in the Comstock tradition.

During my enlistment I spent 4 years in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantry paratrooper and Scout; 5 years in the 3rd Special Forces Group (Green Berets) as a light and heavy weapons expert and Team Senior Non-Commissioned Officer; and I spent 9.5 years with The Delta Force as an Operator and Breacher. After I retired, I started a nuclear security consulting company and then concurrently worked for the government as a paramilitary contractor that trained and led indigenous forces to kill or capture terrorists.

I am married with four kids and one grandson and another on the way. I live in Panama City Bach Florida; I am a competitive body-builder in the heavyweight division, I am former professional Boxer, MMA fighter, and fight promoter. I am also an avid K-9 trainer and competitor.

comstock 1

When and how did you first hear about the Miami Spy Games project?

I heard about it through AK Waters, a friend of mine, about five months ago; and then as I got to know him and through some discussions I was introduced into the book as one of the characters.

What did you think of Miami Spy Games when you read them?

“Pretty cool!” I thought I was represented in good light. The character is very close to my own. I see myself as a leader that tends to mentor and guide; rather than dictate and drive his subordinates, unless the situation calls for more firmness and pressure. I think I have integrity, use good judgment, and I seem to be liked by most folks! I bought my mother copies of the book that is an avid reader and she is tickled to death about it.

How does the fictional Comstock differ from you in real life?

Well…the only difference in real life is that instead of leading a SEAL team they would be carrying my suitcases and handing me more ammo as I reload my weapons in a fight. OK, that was joke! I am sure I ruffled some feathers for a second he he he. The SEALs are Americans like me – much respect brothers!

What are some of your own favorite books and/or movies?

I don’t read many books outside of learning materials; however, the book Khost that also has me as a character was fun to read and very suspenseful – That is now one of my favorite books along with MSG. My favorite movies: Aliens, All of Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, Man on Fire with Denzel Washington, Gladiator, and the TV series Spartacus…oh, and Sponge Bob Square Pants. I love that cartoon lol

Give us a typical training day for you.

I usually get up around 7am and do about 30 minutes of cardio before I eat breakfast. The rest of the day I spend working as VP running a division for Intrepid Global Security Solutions that provides security consulting for high-risk facilities and nuke plants. At 5pm my wife and I go back to the gym and train hard on weights for about an hour followed by another 30 minutes of cardio. We come home around 7pm, clean-up, eat, and then at 10 pm I get back to work as an on-line teacher for Henely-Putnam University where I teach Psychology of Violence, Technical Surveillance, Area Study Analysis, and Special Weapons. About 2 am I am off to bed!

DaleComstockProfile

What other projects are you currently involved in?

Getting ready to do a TV show for Discovery Channel called Lone Operator. I am also slated for a few movie parts including a movie that will be made out of the book Khost. I am currently writing my own autobiography that also will serve as a book that motivates and inspires young people to achieve more in life than they think they can.

I am in the process of working with a large apparel company to develop and market a clothing brand after me. If all goes as anticipated, by the fall, or sooner, you will see yours truly stamped, printed, embroidered, and glued to shirts!

I have several other movie and TV shows in the hopper that will hopefully bring me before the public eye in the next year.

What defines Dale Comstock?

“America First!” Integrity, Honesty, Courage, Justice, and Loyalty. I always say: “With every victory I am empowered and with every defeat I am more resolute…I will never quit!” It is the previous mind-set that compels me forward and keeps me from stalling into sedentariness.

 

To learn more about me you can visit my website www.dalecomstock.com or my Facebook Fan page.

If you have any questions about the Miami Spy Games series, I’d love to hear them: armandrosamilia@gmail.com

Armand Rosamilia

Miami Spy Games on Amazon Kindle only $3.99!

http://www.amazon.com/Miami-Spy-Games-Russian-ebook/dp/B00ATCH11U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358000900&sr=8-1&keywords=Miami+Armand

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Here’s How I Write…(Your Methods May Vary)

First and foremost – this post is not intended, in any way, shape or form, to be a “How To” on writing.

Mainly because I do not consider myself qualified to teach anybody how to write. Also because I believe that writers—like painters, musicians, tattooists, etc.—are all unique in their approach. Sure, there are basic concepts and principals all writers should be aware of—along with a decent grasp of grammar, usage, punctuation, etc.—but those things are tools. The way each writer uses his or her tools is a matter of preference.

I was asked by a reader about my process recently…we ended up having quite a lengthy conversation about it, so I thought maybe others might be curious too.

So this is how I do it…

How I Did It

Naturally, the first thing I need is an idea for a story. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, or have lots of detail…it just needs to be a place to start.

I call it the “What If” thought.

Let me use one of my recent novels as an example. The book is called Backseat to Justice.

One time, at band camp…oops sorry – habit…

BTJ cover

One time, I was watching a documentary about identity theft. The story talked mostly about the victims, but before I knew it my mind was going in another direction. Naturally, these days, identity theft is more difficult than it was thirty years ago…and I thought…What If somebody stole somebody’s identity thirty years ago and it all of a sudden comes back to haunt them?

That was it. That was the initial thought that got me started. From there I just kept adding on to it with more “What Ifs”. Eventually I had enough to start writing.

Now here’s where my methods probably vary from most writers. At this point, many writers would start an outline to map out their whole story.

Not me – I just started writing.

I knew the core concept of the story and I knew I wanted it to be about a Private Investigator. The rest I pretty much make up as I go along.

The writing progressed nicely, the story took shape and any time I got stuck I just asked myself some more “What If” questions. During this time I focus mainly on putting words on paper. Naturally I try to use the best words and combinations of words possible in order to make the story the best that it can be…but when it comes to my first draft I am more concerned with getting the story written and not so much with the exact wording.

I also don’t agonize over spelling, punctuation and such. (although auto-spellcheck helps with this). Again, the primary concern here is writing the story.

Once the first draft is written, I give copies to my beta readers. I have a group of people who graciously volunteer to read the manuscript (MS) and give me feedback (this is where my most recent work Unfinished Business is right now).

They ask “What kind of feedback do you want?” and I tell them “Whatever you want to tell me.”

If they see spelling mistakes, circle them. If they see punctuation errors, tag them. If they don’t understand a sentence, highlight it and ask me what it means. If they find inconsistencies (you said in the first chapter that so-and-so was a vegetarian – but in chapter sixteen he eats prime rib?) point them out to me.

But the biggest one of all – If something about the story bothers you – tell me.

This could be anything…were the characters believable…did the story hold your attention…was there too much action…not enough action…do you like the way it ended…it’s ALL important, because I’d rather hear it from you than from somebody who bought the book. Or worse…not hear it from somebody who bought the book and lose them as a reader.

This process usually takes a couple of weeks before all of the readers give me their feedback…in the meantime, I don’t touch the MS. I literally ignore it…I don’t put it on the back burner – I take it off the stove and put it in the refrigerator. Sometimes I’ll even start working on the next book, if I have an idea (which I usually do).

So – once I get the beta readers’ comments back I go through them all, seeing what they have to say (the MS is still in the fridge). I toss their comments around a bit, consider them, and think about which ones will help the most.

Then I take the MS out of the refrigerator and put it back on the stove.

I start from page one and go through the entire story again—this time putting much more thought into the details I took lightly in the first draft. Since, at this point, I know the whole story; I can now focus on making sure everything flows well. I can add to, or take away from it as I see fit to better enhance the narrative. I can also throw in some foreshadowing and such.

I also keep the comments from the beta readers handy to consult during the process as well.

This process can be very time consuming, because it’s mostly detail oriented. At this point I’m painting with a much finer brush than during the MS phase, when I was using a big, fat one.

Once I’ve gone through and cleaned it all up it is now ready to be sent to the editor.

I know – sounds silly…sort of like cleaning the house before the maids comes over…but there it is.

I’ve been working with the same editor since Water Hazard (my second novel) and we work very well together. She goes through the book three times, sending me her comments chapter by chapter during each phase.

The first phase is for general punctuation, grammar, spelling, sentence structure and all the stuff I should have been paying more attention to in high school.

The second pass is for story structure. More analysis of the details; Does everything fit? Is the timeline correct? Did I use a wrong name somewhere (it’s happened)?  Are there any gaping holes in the plot? You’d be surprised how many things we find during this phase.

The final pass is what I call – The Fine Tuning.

This is where she (the editor) will ask me things like; Are you sure you want to have this character do this? It seems to me that this character would /should act this way in this situation? Why did this character do that? Maybe you should give a little more background on this character.

During each of these three phases, I am going through the MS from start to finish incorporating her notes (as I see fit) and reapplying my own eyes to the story yet again. By the time I’m finished, I’ve probably read the book 6-8 times.

And we are almost done.

Now it will go to two more beta readers (ones that were not in the first group) for more feedback. When their comments come back I will sift through them and use what I think helps the most.

And that – as they say – is that.

Now (if I haven’t done it already) I commission a cover, write a synopsis and a back cover blurb and then it is off to the printer.

Let me tell you…there is no feeling in the world like getting the printed version and holding it in your hands…fanning the pages and stopping at a random point to read your work…and seeing a spelling mistake!!!

It seems impossible, but believe me…it happens.

As usual – thank you for reading.

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From my good friend Armand Rosamilia…

ARMAND ROSAMILIA

Recently, I co-authored a book with thriller writer Tim Baker, putting several of his characters from his books into the Dying Days zombie world with Darlene Bobich and John Murphy. Since Tim writes about the same area I do (Flagler Beach/Palm Coast/St. Augustine Florida) it was a perfect and easy way to get our work combined and tell a fun story, and hopefully garner new fans for each of us. The novella is Dying Days: The Siege of European Village.

euro d2 copy

Combining characters also got me thinking about my own work. With so many characters in my Dying Days world, some are bound to cross over from story to story, and I’ve done that. But I wondered how other characters in other stories might fare if set in the Dying Days world. I’m going to find out.

First, and easiest, I added a cameo of Randy (Highway To Hell

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