Archive for November, 2011

This one’ll be short and sweet.  Sales of tablets and e-readers are through the roof this year, and with the release of the Kindle Fire, that is only expected to continue into the holiday season and beyond.  Amazon has, for all intents and purposes, given readers and authors a mechanism to gift on the cheap.  How?  Gifting a person’s favorite ebooks.

Now, for some of the major published authors, their ebooks may not be much less than their traditional paperbacks.  This is a quasi-travesty, since the cost of putting together an ebook is much less (i.e. nearly no cost, other than upfront formatting costs) than doing the same with a paperback.  Indie authors have capitalized on the inability of traditionally published authors to set reasonable prices by doing just that–setting reasonable prices.  You can literally find, and gift, books by indie authors for $0.99-$3.99.  Or, if you’re a numbers/figures guy or gal, for about 60-90% less than traditionally published authors.

How do you make sure you aren’t gifting crap?  First, there are a lot of traditionally published books that are crap.  Just harken back to high school and college, where you were forced to read a  bunch of ‘em.  Second, rely on reviews.  Once you get 15, 20, 50, 100 people saying a book is good–that’s a fairly reliable indicator.

Finally, on to the actual gifting process.  It’s easy as 1, 2, 3:

(1) On Amazon, when you search for a book and then click on the ebook version, you will see a button on the top right called “Give as a gift.”

(2) For the technology impaired, click on that button.

(3) You will be directed to a screen where all you have to do is enter the email address of the person to send the gift to.  Boom, you’re done, and you did it for cheap.

A couple more awesome perks.  You can do all your ebook shopping now, and set your delivery date for whenever you want, such as 12/25/2011.  Your loved one will get a host of books to fill his/her new reader on the day they get the reader.  What’s cooler than that?  You can add a personalized message to your gift.  Finally, you’re doing the environment a favor by not having a book printed, boxed up, and then shipped on some gas guzzling vehicle.

*IMPORTANT NOTE* Okay, this has all been important, but this is super important.  The recipient of your gift does not have to have a Kindle to get the ebook.  Amazon has a Kindle app that can be used on basically any platform, as far as I know.  So, even if the person has a Droid phone, for instance, all they have to do is download the Kindle app, and voila, their gift will be readable.

This is a frontier of book consumption.  If you’re a reader, I can’t imagine a better way to gift this holiday season.  If you’re an author, well, you better start spreading the word about this!

Finally, a shameless plug for my books , Enemy in Blue  and Allegiance, which fit the bill as great gifts.  Over 100 great combined reviews, and under $5 for both.

<Begin rant> So, a few of my own thoughts from the article.  First, screw a major publisher that is now trying to profit from INDIE published authors.  I may be alone in this sentiment, but one of the great parts of being indie is that it feels like a movement, like a frontier.  It feels like major corporations are having to adjust because of what we are doing on a daily basis.  The last thing to do, in that case, is to assimilate with them.   If they want to pick up indie authors to publish them through traditional means, by all means.  Second, take a look at the comments to see how much of a farce the service is.  That 70% royalty to authors?  Only if you sell through “Book Country.”  WTF is that anyway?  </end rant>

Sorry, but other services such as Createspace and Lulu have been there for indies since before the beginning.  My experience with Createspace/Amazon has been nearly flawless, they have my loyalty.

Okay, on to the article.  What do you all think?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/nov/16/penguin-self-publishing?newsfeed=true

This…will…not…be…easy.  I’m going to admit something to you all.  I didn’t think it’d be this hard.  Call it naivete.  Call it optimism.  Call it the sheer ridiculousness of thinking, dammit, that what I wrote would take off, like a rocket ship to Planet Lottery Ticket.  Anddddd, yeah. Four months after the release of Enemy in Blue, let me give ya some thoughts and insights into what this process entails.  The hope is that this will help some understand what’s coming their way if they publish, and help others who have done so realize, “I’m not alone.”

  1. Writing was the easy part.  Huh?  I just finished 80k, 90, 120k words!  It took me 2 years to write my baby.  What you mean that was the easy part?  Writing is a joy, in my opinion.  I hardly ever had a day where I cussed and wished I was doing something else.  And, if those days came along, I just didn’t write.  No sense forcing something crappy onto paper.  On the other hand, once you’re published (by whatever means), the marketing, sales and promotion begins.  And, I can assure you of one thing–once you start those ghastly machines up, they don’t allow breaks.  You’ll be tweeting, updating your website, updating your status on Facebook, trying to get signings, trying to get your books on brick and mortar shelves, etc. etc. etc., NONSTOP.  Be prepared to work your ass off in the name of promotion.
  2. This will undoubtedly be a long, strange trip.  Do a Wikipedia on your favorite band.  Most likely, they spent years toiling in small venues.  They pumped out album after album before one hit song took off.  Realize that your journey will probably be the same–with the superstar ending, we all hope.
  3. There are tens of thousands of people trying to do what we’re doing.  Okay, not trying to be Captain Downer here, but this post is a small dose of reality, if anything.  Look at the sheer number of books on Amazon.  Look at all the authors Tweeting about their books on a daily basis.  This is a SEA, not a stream.  You’ve got to tread water, then build a super attractive yacht for people to hop onto.
  4. The hard work will make it worth it.  Growth does not come through constant success.  When you get the first review of your book from someone you don’t know, and it’s a positive review, you will glow.  When someone asks you for a signature on their copy of your book, you’ll glow.  When you see your book on a bookshelf in a bookstore, you’ll glow.  But, each one of those things will take a tremendous amount of effort to achieve.
  5. Patience is a virtue…and will be key to your sanity.  Seemingly, nothing in the book publishing world moves quicker than a snail’s pace.  You building your empire of words isn’t gonna be any different.  Just like when you wrote your book, do your best to recognize the small steps, otherwise the pace of the whole venture will make you mad!
In short, if you’re just starting out, please, please recognize that your success is commensurate with your effort.  And, if you’ve been playing the game, know that you aren’t alone!  Success has started to come to me and Enemy in Blue, but only with a tremendous amount of hard work. Best wishes to you and your fantastic book!

There is no dispute that there have been several, violent and unfortunate incidents of police brutality in Denver over the last five years.  In fact, as I have described in many interviews, my first novel, Enemy in Blue, was written only because I came to Denver approximately ten years ago.  Without the incidents here, the story simply would not have manifested.  Many of the incidents of police brutality have been high-profile, and have correspondingly received plenty of media attention.  Chief Gerry Whitman presided over the department for the last twelve years, and several groups in the Denver community are fine with the end of his tenure.

A large group of community members met with the new police chief, Robert White, last night in North/West Denver.  There is an inherent optimism that comes with a new hire.  You expect that they are energized, that they were chosen from the best candidates, and that they have the best interests of your community in mind.  There was also a general happiness that Chief White agreed to attend this community meeting, especially since he is not yet on the job in Denver, and this was just days after the announcement of his selection to be the Chief.

In all, Chief White performed well.  He faced many difficult questions, and did not appear to be “coached.”  His responses were direct, non-evasive.  He made several commitments, including increased transparency and communication–two enormous issues with his predecessor.  He also committed to engendering a culture in the Department where it was understood that the officers served the community, at the community’s pleasure.  That it is the community’s money which pays their salaries, and that respect must flow from that fact.

Chief White was asked questions regarding his transition from a community with a low percentage of Latino citizens, to one with a high percentage of the same.  He was also asked questions regarding his beliefs on how protests should be handled (i.e. OccupyDenver), and one participant made the savvy remark that the City could save plenty of money by reserving use of SWAT and riot police to break up what has been a peaceful protest in Denver.  Finally, he was asked questions regarding how he planned on changing leadership and front-line officers in the Department, to hopefully change the philosophy of the Department itself.  Emotions remained relatively calm, although they certainly reached the boiling point on a couple of occasions.

In all, I believe most of the participants in the meeting left cautiously optimistic.  There is too much history for it to be swept under the rug after a single meeting, but Chief White showed good effort, and said plenty of the right things.  We shall see.

The following are some links to articles regarding Chief White, that give some insight into his background:

“Incoming Denver police chief vows to build success on mutual trust, respect.”  http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_19225281

 

“Career of Robert White, next Denver Police Chief, marked by controversy.” http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_19236550?source=commented-

“Robert White will be Denver’s next police chief, and Gerry Whitman will not be his PIO.”  http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2011/10/robert_white_denver_police_chief.php