Monday, October 13, 2014

October/November 2014

A couple of things I want to talk about today.

First:


New Novel
SONG OF ARIEL


Under normal circumstances I would never serialize a novel and put it out a chapter (or two chapters) at a time. I have nothing against doing this, I’ve read some novels this way and enjoyed them. Remember The Green Mile? And I used to like the old serialized cliffhangers from the thirties and forties they reran on television when I was a kid. 
It’s just that I never considered doing it myself until now.

Let me explain. When I set out to write Apocalypse Island I did not have even the slightest notion that there would be a sequel. I thought it would be a tidy little stand-alone novel that would begin and end with the stories of Danny Wolf, Laura Higgins and Rick Jennings, and that would be that.

That’s not the way it turned out. Somewhere along the way this strange entity known as the Blue Light intruded into my consciousness and made its way onto the pages of Apocalypse Island. By the end of that novel I knew that the Blue Light would have to continue in one form or another, one way or another. I wasn’t sure how then, but I knew that it was so.

You see, I liked the blue light. But even more, I felt a strange attachment to it, as if it had a life of its own that had somehow escaped the imagination of its creator and found its way into his heart. Sometimes that happens, and I don’t have an explanation for why.

By the time Apocalypse Island was published I was more than halfway through another novel entitled Soul Thief, which up until then was also destined to be a stand-alone novel. But something happened with Apocalypse Island that I didn’t expect. It became a best seller. A minor bestseller when you compare it to the likes of King or Patterson, but a bestseller nevertheless. And the one thing fans of Apocalypse Island kept coming back to was the Blue Light. I got a lot of mail from fans, as well as a ton of reviews, and the thing they talked about most was the Blue Light, What is it? Where did it come from? Where is it going? Please don’t hurt it. Please don’t kill it. I'm addicted to the Blue Light. I think I’ve fallen in love with it.

Seriously?

Seriously.

Even one bestselling author made that claim. Somehow, I had unwittingly created an entity, not a human being, but an entity, without form or substance that readers have become attached to.

Go figure.

Well, that next novel, Soul Thief, pretty much wrote itself from then on. The two books became the beginning of Blue light Series with ideas for at least two more novels.

Once Soul Thief was published I began to see the same sorts of comments from readers I’d seen with Apocalypse Island. “Loved the Blue Light.” “Can't wait to see the next one in the series.” “Want to know what happens to the Blue Light.” Will Doug and Annie and Ariel be all right. Will they survive? I want to know what happens to them and the Blue Light. Will the characters from the two previous novels come together in the third?”

You get the picture.

And that brings me back to the original reason for this post. The third novel in the series will not be complete for another few months, so, in an attempt to appease those who want more now, I’ve decided to release it as a series of .99 shorts, a chapter or a section at a time, depending on how it all fits together. Some releases will be shorter and some will be longer.

For those who don’t like to read a book this way, well, sorry but you’ll have to wait for the full release.  

For those who want to get a jump on the new novel, the first section, Chapter's 1 and 2 (about 60 pages) is now live on Amazon, with subsequent chapters to follow.

Of course all of my books are always free to those who are members of Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks for your patients, dear reader. I’ll see you on the other side of the Blue Light.



Second:

THE HAUNTING OF SAM CABOT

One of the reasons the third novel in the Blue Light Series is late is because I spent the better part of the summer extending my novella, The Haunting of Sam Cabot, into a novel.

I recently got the rights back to The Haunting of Sam Cabot from my publisher. Hurray! The original version of the book was a 98 page novella. In the preceding months I extended the novella into a full blown novel of just over 200 pages. The basic story did not change. I added more depth to the characters and had fun with some of the scenes and situations.

Amazon tells me that in order to keep the existing reviews in place the extended version needs to be linked to the original paperback version, which in turn shows a much lower page count on the new extended version, which is not correct. If this seems confusing to you then you can imagine how confused I feel. Alas, it is Amazon's way of doing things.

The upshot of this whole thing is, the page count you see on the product page is incorrect. If you decide to spend your hard-earned 3.99 for the kindle version of the new, updated version of The Haunting of Sam Cabot, rest assured that you will be receiving a novel, not a novella.

Now on to the product description.

There are places that hold evil, houses so vile, so tainted, that people refuse to live in them. Farnham House is one of those places. Once an inn, this majestic old New England manor house is back on the market, and the price is very reasonable. Sam Cabot is a man tired of moving. Now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life in the country with his wife and young son. Little does he know that he will soon begin a long, slow descent into madness and that he will spend his summer living with dead things.


Third:

FREE Promo: October 18th thru 20th

SOUL THIEF (BLUE LIGHT SERIES 2)


Soul Thief, the second book in the Blue Light Series will be free for three days only from Oct. 18th thru Oct. 20th. If you haven't read the sequel to Apocalypse Island here's your chance to get it free.










Now in Audio!
(Note:  you can download any of the below FREE by becoming an Audible member on a no-risk 30 day trial basis)


APOCALYPSE ISLAND (BLUE LIGHT SERIES 1)

     

SOUL THIEF (BLUE LIGHT SERIES 2)

     

THE FEAR (HORROR)

     

Monday, August 18, 2014

 
What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books?

In this post, you can see the findings of a scientifically incontrovertible study on the factors which influence us when buying a self-published book. (by +Tara Sparling)

READ HEREhttp://goo.gl/ubXrPe
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Update on The Haunting of Sam Cabot
 
As I mentioned in last month's newsletter, come August I will have the rights to my novella, The Haunting of Sam Cabot, back from my publisher.
What I didn’t mention is by then it will no longer be a novella but a full blown novel. Many readers loved the book but lamented that it would be so cool if it was longer. Well, I listened, and for the past few months I’ve been working on turning it into a longer and more complex work. The original novella is told in the first person from the perspective of the protagonist Sam, and for a while I actually did flirt with the idea of changing it to  third person. In the end I de
cided to keep it in the first person. I believe it works well that way and so do many of its readers. Sam is the perfect voice to tell the story of his own descent into madness. Or perhaps it’s not madness at all but something else entirely? You be the judge. The bonus is that it will be more than double in size with lots more twists and turns. I’m really excited about it and hope you guys like it as much as the original version. By the way, it will also be available for the first time as an audio book. More updates on that later.






Apocalypse Island Promotion


For those who haven't read Apocalypse Island, the first book in the Blue Light Series, the kindle edition will be on sale for just .99 from May 17th thru May 23rd. That's tomorrow thru the following Friday. To date Apocalypse Island is my all time bestselling novel reaching Amazon's top twenty list three separate times and landing on several number one bestseller lists. If you haven't read it this is your chance to grab the kindle edition for just .99 little pennies. Hope you decide to check it out.



Now in Audio!
(Note:  you can download any of the below FREE by becoming an Audible member on a no-risk 30 day trial basis)



APOCALYPSE ISLAND (BLUE LIGHT SERIES 1)

     

SOUL THIEF (BLUE LIGHT SERIES 2)

     

THE FEAR (HORROR)

     


Your comments are welcome.  Please click here: comments

Thanks and be well,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16, 2014

Soul Thief Promotion

For those who haven't read Soul Thief, the second book in the Blue Light Series, the kindle edition will be on sale for just .99 from April 14th thru April 20th. Hope you decide to check it out. Also, it is now available as a print edition through createspace. For those who prefer to read in the old paper and ink format here's the link: Soul Thief print


Home From Florida
My wife Sheila and I arrived home in Maine yesterday after a two day road trip from Florida. We got here just in time for mud season. Oh joy. We spent three months in the warmth this year and we're thinking we'll stay six months next year.
I love Maine but I don't miss the cold weather.


A Couple of Updates
First, for those who might be interested in my writings other than the Blue Light Series, come August, I will have the rights to my novel The Haunting of Sam Cabot back from my publisher, Damnation Books. Working with Damnation Books has been nothing short of a nightmare for me and I can't wait to regain control of my work so that I can offer my loyal readers the kinds of promotions that have made my independent titles so successful. Next year I will regain control of both The Lost Village and the Holocaust Opera. Yay!
In the meantime, The third novel in the Blue Light Series, On the Nightwind is still not finished, but close. I will let you all know when it becomes available. I'm thinking perhaps I'll run some sort of initial free promo.


Thanks and be well,

Mark


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blue Light Series, Part 1.

My latest novel, Soul Thief, a follow up to the kindle bestselling Apocalypse Island is now available as a kindle download.

I have also collected both works in one volume entitled the Blue Light Series. Nearly three hundred thousand words for just $5.99. Those who buy the two books together as a collection will save $2.00 over their individual prices.

I cannot thank my readers and fans enough for making Apocalypse Island a Kindle bestseller. I am hoping Soul Thief  will follow in its footsteps.

There are two more books planned for the Blue Light Series. On the Nightwind is the third and I hope to have it out in early 2014. The fourth is tentatively titled Lion of God.

Again, thanks to all those who have supported my writing efforts over the years. I am truly grateful.


Mark

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Writer’s Journey: Adventures in Publishing

This sounds strange to most people when I talk about it, but I have never pursued a traditional book deal. I mean that. Never in my life. I sent my first novel, The Lost Village, (along with four-hundred dollars) to the Scott Meredith Literary Agency in New York in about 2001. A nice editor got back to me and commended me on the ambitiousness of my novel, said I was a promising writer and that The Lost Village was actually a great book, but, no one would publish it because it was too long. 258,000 words. He told me there wasn't a publisher in the land that would touch a first time author with a book of that length. He qualified that and said that if I was a celebrity author like King or Patterson it would be fine, no problem, I could publish my laundry list and it would sell. But I wasn’t King or Patterson, I was an unknown. And publishers wanted nice tidy little eighty to one-hundred-thousand word books from unknown authors. Please send something else along that's at a more appropriate length, (along with another four-hundred bucks, by the way).
Well, that was that, thank you very much. I never sent another thing to that agency or any other agency for that matter. Maybe I’ve got a thin skin, but I was no longer interested in what literary agents had to say. I was keenly aware of the statistics, of how many manuscripts ever made it to an editor's desk. One writer friend of mine had been rejected so many times he was on the verge of suicide.
So, I did the unthinkable. Way back in the dark ages before kindle and nook and all those other reading devices we now take for granted were invented, I decided to self-publish my magnum opus. This was before Amazon or any of the other booksellers were selling e-books. If you wanted to self-publish a book you needed to go through one of those “vanity” presses that charged for services. So that’s what I did. I brought The Lost Village out in hardcover and trade paperback and sold downloadable copies from my website to those who were willing to read an enormous book on their computer screens. The book actually came out pretty well. It was formatted nicely, had a good cover. I signed up with the New England Horror Writers, did some group signings, made some friends, and, to my amazement, the book began to sell. Before long I was receiving some nice reviews from fellow authors as well as readers, and low and behold I found out that several ‘respectable’ authors with ‘real’ published books had recommended to the HWA (the Horror Writer’s Association) that The Lost Village be nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.
But of course it wasn’t nominated. Back then, and even now, the HWA has a very hard time recognizing anything self-published. They love their legacy publishers, and if your work isn’t sanctioned by one of them, well. They claim they consider all published works, and I believe they do, but it’s been my experience that very few independent books ever get much consideration. No matter, they are for the most part, a good and beneficial organization. But I believe in my heart (and this is just my opinion) that if they continue on their present course they will soon become as irrelevant as bookstores and legacy publishers.
The Lost Village sold well without the benefit of being sanctioned by a legacy publisher, or being recognized by the Horror Writers Association.
In the meantime I wrote several other books and was doing okay publishing short stories in various magazines and anthologies.
Then, a little more than three years ago, on invitation, I sent my novella, The Haunting of Sam Cabot to a brand new small press publisher, Damnation Books. Now this is the important part. Are you listening? It was the first time in my writing life that I had ever sent a manuscript to a book publisher. You heard me right. The very first time. At the time, Kindle was a brand new concept and I had never heard of it. Damn my error. Well, I heard right back from Damnation Books that they wanted to publish my book. Wow! First time. Couldn't believe it. They subsequently published two more of my books including The Lost Village. I signed five year contracts with each of those books. I wish I never had. It was just about the time Kindle exploded on the scene and I was suddenly tied down to a publisher who priced my books much too high to sell well on Kindle. And oh my lord, the formatting! It was atrocious. To their credit, some of the formatting issues have recently been straightened out, but if you check sample versions of both The Lost Village and The Holocaust Opera you will see that the text of both books is entirely in italics. E-gads! And, to my utter chagrin they priced the Kindle version of The Lost Village at $9.95. Celebrity authors can get away with selling e-books at that price, unfortunately nobody else can. Try telling that to my publisher. I know in my heart that if it had been priced at $2.99 or even $3.99, where it should be, it would have been a Kindle bestseller by now. I begged and pleaded with my publisher to just try it but they wouldn't budge. Too bad for them because they have lost me as an author. I am presently in the process of obtaining the rights back to The Haunting of Sam Cabot. The other two will be next. It's going to take some legal wrangling, but it will happen. Not that they should care, They have what seems to be a massive stable of authors now, most of which seem quite satisfied to earn 17.5% of the list price instead of the 70% they could earn as independents. Go figure. I guess for some the prestige of having a REAL publisher outweighs everything else including earnings.
Since then I have self-published a collection of shorts for kindle Servants of Darkness that’s been doing very well for a collection (Collections aren’t supposed to be good sellers) and I've published a new novel, Apocalypse Island  as well as several other novellas, and a bunch of short stories. Apocalypse Island is doing quite well, and I have a new novel, Soul Thief due out this spring.
So, here I am, right back to square one. I have always been a strong advocate of self-publishing. I fell down once and signed with a "publisher," but unless I’m offered a huge amount of money and great e-book terms I will never ever do it again. I'm having too much fun on my own.
As I said in a previous post, this is just me. Each writer has to find his or her own path. But if you do choose a publisher, please choose carefully. I feel that my own writing journey is just beginning. The time has never been better for the independent author. Any way you do it takes time and patience. If you decide to self-publish, make sure you have a good book, a good cover and a great description. Hire a good editor and listen to what that person has to say. Once all that is done, make sure the book is formatted correctly for digital publication. You can hire that done at fairly reasonable cost. I've learned to do it myself. I've learned to do most everything myself, including some of my own cover art. Once it's ready, put your book out there and promote it until you’re exhausted. With all of those things and a little luck maybe you will become the next Kindle bestseller.

Mark Edward Hall

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My surprise best seller. Don't ever give up on a story


This is a reprint of a post I did on my website last year.

I have three legacy published books. The Lost Village, The Haunting of Sam Cabot, and The Holocaust Opera. Those who read my blog and keep up with my writing activities know by now that I’m sorry I ever went with a publisher. That’s not news but it is truer now and more relevant than ever. There is a post on this blog about how to make money publishing short stories on Amazon. If you haven’t read it you should. Here’s the link. http://www.markedwardhall.com/the-pros-of-publishing-short-stories-on-amazon There are other posts relevant to the independent author as well. And if you are an independent writer and you're not familiar with Joe Konrath's blog you need to be.
What I want to talk about today is a little novelette I wrote nearly fifteen years ago entitled The Hero of Elm Street. Now I’m primarily a horror writer. The Hero of Elm Street is not a horror story. It's a light-hearted little ghost story about love, loss and the power of hope. Not generally my style, but because of my grandmother Luella, who meant a lot to me and was my greatest influence, the story has always been dear to my heart.
Back in the dark ages before kindle and nook and self-publishing (now known as independent publishing.) I sent that little story out to nearly every literary magazine in the country. I didn’t hear back from most of them. I did hear from Yankee. They said they liked it but felt it wasn’t right for them at the time. Yeah, we’ve all heard that before. So I buried the story and pretty much forgot about it.
Well, a year ago I decided to include The Hero of Elm Street in my collection, Servants of Darkness. I knew that it might get lost or overlooked in a collection of primarily dark tales. And I was right. Even though the collection has been selling reasonably well, I haven’t heard many people comment on that individual story.
So, on a whim I decided to put it out as a stand-alone story. I commissioned a cover and a little trailer and published it on Amazon. It sold some copies but nothing to write home about. So then I got the bright idea to include it as part of Amazon’s KDP Select Project and offer it for free for five days. KDP Select allows Prime members to borrow books, but the books also remain for sale. The only caveat: authors who sign up must agree to go exclusive with Amazon for a period of ninety days. I didn’t care. The story wasn’t doing much anyway. What did I have to lose?
250 copies were downloaded in the first three days of the promo and I thought, well, good try but that's that. Then something amazing happened. Within the next twenty-four hours the story exploded as more than ten thousand copies were downloaded. I was stunned. I started receiving messages and mail and reviews, most saying how much they were moved by the story and thanking me for publishing it. I couldn’t believe it.
It was all very nice but I figured after the free promo ended that would be it. I was wrong. It continued to sell at an alarming rate. And some of my other titles started taking off. I don't know what happened. I didn't do anything different with this story. It's a mystery to me, but a good mystery.
I see now, a week later that it’s slowing down some but still selling briskly. I couldn’t be happier. The point of this post is to encourage writers to never give up on a story. You don’t know what’s going to turn the reading audience on. And when you're faced with an opportunity to put your work in front of a bigger audience, do it.
Don’t ever give up on a story.
UPDATE
The blog you just read was published on Jan 22nd of this year. As of this date, April 3rd,  my little story has sold nearly nine thousand copies. That's quite a feat for a short story and at $1.99 a pop that's a a considerable chunk of change. Some of my other short stories are doing good as well and I'm hoping my new novel Apocalypse Island will find readers.
Publishing short stories in magazines and anthologies is good for the writer's spirit, but there isn't much money in it. There hasn't been in a very long time. Now with the advent of devices like kindle and nook it seems that readers are rediscovering short stories and this has got to be good for both writers and readers.
Mark Edward Hall