Author Archives: Scott Dyson

Kindle Giveaway (via KDP Select) – Success or Failure?

So the giveaway is over.  I put two of my titles, SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE, on free promotion from Wednesday 12/10/14 to Sunday 12/14/14.  How did they do, you ask?  Well, between the two of them, I gave away 144 copies of the two short stories.  I really didn’t know what to expect as far as numbers, but it was mentioned to me by SF/Thriller author Steven M. Moore that giveaways used to be measured in the thousands and now they’re measured in the hundreds.

I piggy-backed this giveaway on the concurrent giveaway of QUANTUM ZOO, hoping for a few shares of my posts promoting both giveaways on Facebook so that I would be exposed to other authors’ fans, but the only share I got was by D.J. Gelner, the editor of QUANTUM ZOO.  (Thanks DJ!)  It did help, because instead of around a hundred people seeing my posts, close to 300 saw the first post with the links in the comments.

SOLE OCCUPANT got more downloads than DEAD OR ALIVE did, in the US by 75 to 50.  It’s a much shorter title, with two stories adding up right around 3100 words, while DEAD OR ALIVE is a single story of about 7800 words, something like that.  DEAD OR ALIVE is part of a larger “trilogy” of vampire detective stories, which I hoped might work in its favor.  SOLE OCCUPANT has a cover made by professional Rich Siegle, while DEAD OR ALIVE features a home-made cover.  I don’t think it sucks, but no way is it as good as Rich’s cover.

My hope was that perhaps I might get a paid download or three of one of the collections.  I haven’t had a paid sale in a month.  My other goal was to get a review or three.  But so far, out of 144 titles given away, there are no additional reviews, either good or bad.  I don’t know if that means that most of the downloads haven’t actually been read, so I suppose there’s still some time.

A third goal was simply to get some of my work into the hands of readers, who may or may not like it, but I figured it was worth a shot.  Tastes vary, and out of 144 tries, you’d think that maybe I might get a new reader or three.

It’s sort of depressing.  A commenter, John Ellsworth (I think) on one of my other posts suggested that I focus on writing something longer.  I have longer pieces out there, nothing approaching 80K words (the length he suggested) but maybe closing in on 50K for a couple of them.  Nothing under 23K, I think.  Mostly horror, though one of them is a mystery.

It’s sort of one of those catch-22’s, in that I want this to be a self-supporting hobby.  I am willing to pay for covers and editing, but I want to see enough earnings to suggest that it’s worth it for me to do so.  I hoped to sell enough short stories to make enough money, even if it was just a hundred bucks a month, to pay for cover art for some of these longer projects.  But it’s been a no-go.

So what should I do?  Keep writing?  (I’ll do that anyway.)  Keep publishing?  (Not as certain about that one.)  I’m dismayed by the lack of reciprocal promotion I get from authors whose works I’ve promoted on my FB page and here on the blog.  Not even a “Like” from any besides D.J. and J. Michael Major, who has also reviewed a few of my stories on Amazon.

That’s okay.  I have to admit, however, that it makes me less enthusiastic about supporting (via promotion on either here or on my FB page) other indie authors.  I’ll still support the ones I like to read by buying their books, and possibly reviewing them if the mood strikes me.

Maybe this giveaway experiment will result in sales down the road.  Maybe it will result in a few reviews, positive or negative.  But right now, I have to come down on the side of “failure” when asking myself if it was a success or failure.

*****

 

Successful giveaway?

Just a quick post to update the KDP Select promotion for two of my titles.

I’ve given away 114 ebooks in 3 1/2 days (today being the 1/2).  It’s scheduled to run through tomorrow.  (12/14/14)

Here’s the links:  SOLE OCCUPANT

DEAD OR ALIVE

It will be interesting to see if getting these two stories in the hands of readers results in any reviews of the stories or better still, any increase in sales from them.  Crossing my fingers…

*****

Two titles free for download from Amazon!

My short stories SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE are both available for download for free as of today, December 10th, through Sunday, December 14th.

SOLE OCCUPANT is a 14 page, two story combination that features the short story SOLE OCCUPANT (about 2400 words) and THE ONLY SOLUTION (about 700 words).  It’s short, to be certain, but it’s also free!

DEAD OR ALIVE is a 32 page short story and is the first story of THE STRIKER FILES, a combo-volume featuring all three stories of the series plus a bonus story (priced at $2.99 at Amazon).  DEAD OR ALIVE is free today through Sunday.

QUANTUM ZOO remains free as well, until Friday!

Sole_Occupant_Cover81pdvoY55PL._SL1500_*****

GUILT by Jonathan Kellerman

I have always enjoyed Jonathan Kellerman’s series featuring psychologist/sleuth Alex Delaware and his buddy Milo Sturgis.  There was a period where I felt that the series went a bit downhill, but the last four volumes in this series found the author upping his game a bit and delivering very satisfying stories.

In this story the bones of a baby are found in someone’s back yard, and the police are called in.  It turns out that the bones are pretty old and show no sign of trauma or evidence that the death was anything besides natural.  But the incident gets on the news, and pretty soon another set of baby’s bones are found in a park not too far from this house, followed by the body of a young woman.

Alex Delaware is not one to give up, and that seems to be a theme of this book – an exploration of Alex’s determination, which borders (or may cross into) obsessive/compulsive behavior.  He investigates both cases with his usual dogged determination, while Milo carries on in a by-the-book manner on his police investigation.

The book is about the evidence unfolding as one lead points to another lead, and Alex and Milo follow up on each lead undeterred by interference from higher-ups, lawyers and high-powered show biz types.  The exposition of the crime is done in a highly satisfactory manner (for me) and the solution is dramatic.  As is the solution to the first mystery, that of the baby’s body buried under an old tree, which comes almost as an afterthought, with only Alex finding out the truth of this one.  But you knew it was coming, that Kellerman would not leave us hanging on that one, and the low key manner in which it is presented is again very satisfactory to me.

There was a period where I felt that Kellerman had been surpassed by Stephen White as far as the freshness of his stories in this particular subgenre (psychologist sleuth with a cop buddy), even though I always felt White was imitating Kellerman as much as possible.  White’s Alan Gregory stories were more compelling at that time, but I think Kellerman has come back and taken the lead again in this genre, and I really enjoy his first-person spartan style when writing from Delaware’s perspective.  Also in Guilt, I felt that I learned something about Alex as a character that I didn’t know before.  Though I knew something about his history as a child, I had never put it together with why he has always been so determined and focused on the cases he works with Milo.  This book gave an explanation of sorts for that, and this far into a series, I find that to be a real positive as far as storytelling goes.  I mean, we’ve all known Alex for many many years, and I figured that I knew pretty much all there was to know about him.  Maybe that’s why these last several books have seemed fresher – because Kellerman is exploring depths of Alex’s character that most writers would be ignoring at this stage of the series.

Overall, I give this one a five star review.

*****

Sales report

All I can really say is, it’s a good thing I’m a dentist!  Haven’t sold a book or had a short story bought since October 23rd.

I counted, and I have eleven titles out there.  They range in length from the very short (14 pages) SOLE OCCUPANT, which is in Kindle Select and KU, and costs $0.99, to my six-story collection DIE 6, which has 123 pages and is priced at $2.99.  Also there is THE STRIKER FILES 3-in-1 COLLECTION, 93 pages also priced at $2.99, and my non-fiction title (under my real name) DOING DISNEY, which is again priced at $2.99 and contains 101 pages of information about visiting the Florida resorts.  14 DARK WINDOWS is a fourteen-story collection of short “flash” fiction, 63 pages, and is once again priced at $2.99.

What could I do?  Perhaps a full collection of ALL of my short stories, would come in at something around 250 pages (maybe a bit more), and price it at $4.99?  I have five stories in the very early stages of readiness for publication, all need rewriting and editing, but none are ready to go tomorrow.

Anyway, I know I don’t do much to promote the stories.  The only people who have bought them are people who know me through Facebook, for the most part, or knew me from my days at Delphi Internet Service when I helped run the Book and Candle Pub.  I submitted a story to the anthology QUANTUM ZOO with low expectations, but it was one of the twelve that was selected for inclusion, and I’d hoped that perhaps someone would read my story there and decide to check out at least one or two of my other stories, but the problem is that very few of the stories I’ve written and published would excite the QUANTUM ZOO target audience.  So perhaps my efforts for that collection are wasted.

Who knows?  For me, a good story is a good story.  I’ve bought several of my co-authors’ stories but I don’t know if it is working in reverse.  Oh well.  I don’t really NEED the income.  I can just keep writing, and when they’re ready, publishing, and if they catch on, great.  If not, so be it.

As the saying goes, it was worth a try.

*****

Still Pluggin’…

I haven’t posted lately, things have been busy in my life.

I had a procedure/surgery on my right ankle to correct a stress fracture/non-union.  Off my feet for a while, getting around with crutches and a “knee-walker” at the office.  I’ve done some reading, but not much writing.  It’s hard to get momentum when you’re never alone!  At home, I don’t have a good writing computer right now, and have done most of my writing at the office.

Here’s another issue with my writing.  I have done a lot of it using the old WordPerfect program.  Word (on two of our computers at home) will open the files, but one of them is smack dab in the middle of everything, and the other is in my son’s room.  The other computer that had WP installed on it died (think the video card went night night) and so I was using a netbook to write on, but while it has a student version of Word on it that wasn’t activated, I’m not crazy about using it, and paying for Word on it.  And our main computer, the one my older son writes on, is an Apple, with Pages.  I know there are ways to work around it, but it’s not a great situation.  My son uses the Apple for a LOT of school work, and I can’t really use the one in the younger son’s room because of, well, it’s in his ROOM!  I need a new computer, I think, and have been debating what to get – a MacBook (and use Pages, which actually is pretty fun to write on, or a Mac version of Scrivener, which I’ve never used), or a Windows-based computer and buy Scrivener.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that most of my writing is done at work.  Like now.  But there are these things called “patients” and “appointments” that I have to work around, which makes it difficult to get that writing momentum going here as well.

So what am I up to, writing-wise?  Well, a few posts back, I listed four finished first drafts.  There are actually five.  One is my dental mystery, DEATH BY APPOINTMENT.  A second is a novella-length (23k words) story called THE CAVE.  The third is a horror novel with the working title of COLLEGE EVIL, which is about 45k words.  The fourth is another horror novella, tentatively called NEVER ENDING NIGHT, a Richard Laymon inspired, 27k story.  And the fifth is called THE INN, and is also horror, inspired by the stories of William Malmborg (if you like serial killer/psycho horror, Malmborg is really good at writing it).  I think it’s around 28K.

And as for what else I’m working on, my son and I have about 60K words done on a cool YA story called THE NINE KEYS.  We keep working on it, and he envisions, like, at least five books, but I’d be thrilled with getting to the end of this story.  We’ve got a ways to go.  I could see it coming in around 75K, possibly, or a little longer.  I also have two YA/young reader stories, which I won’t mention titles, except to say that one of them involves Arthurian mythology.  Then I’ve been working a bit on a post-apocalyptic thing with no name, just more or less a situation that I’m trying to find the story for.  One of those “everyone’s dead” things.  I have another post-apocalyptic story that I used to call my Pond Lake novel, as it begins in a fictional Wisconsin town with that name.  In this one, I killed off all the adults.  I started this one over twenty years ago, and wrote a bunch of it, but I scrapped most of that and just kept the characters I like best.  (Turns out I like the bad kids’ characters best – they’re the ones whose stories seem to be flowing off my fingers.)  I also have a bunch of chapters of this crazy Vegas story that, if I ever release it, will not be under this pen name.  And last, I have a thing that I call my “Rewot” story.  A weird dimension-hopping story that is influenced in part by Heinlein’s NUMBER OF THE BEAST and King’s DARK TOWER books.

I’m a hopper, when it comes to writing.  I tend to jump to whatever catches my fancy at the moment.  So I might be writing in Pond Lake (and other locales) and then suddenly I’ll decide to go back to the other post-apocalyptic story, or one of the YA projects, or…  Is this a good way to write?  Probably not.  Actually, it’s probably about the worst possible way to write.  How I managed to finish five stories of those lengths is something I wonder about a bunch, but I have done so.  I should probably focus on cleaning them up as much as possible before sending one or two of them to an editor.

But you know what?  I’m going to do whatever I pretty much feel like.  Some day maybe I’ll be a professional, full-time writer.  But right now, I’m a professional full-time (if a bit disabled) dentist.  Dentistry pays the bills and puts money away for college for our family.  Plus, I’m darned good at it.  So I’ll keep up the hobbyist approach for now and who knows?  By the time I’m ready to retire, perhaps I’ll be earning a bit of income from these creative works.

****

Review of “Your Soul To Take” by Sean Hayden

Just finished this YA offering from Sean Hayden and Untold Press.  Posted this review on Amazon:

I forgot how much I enjoyed the first book in this series (MY SOUL TO KEEP) by Sean Hayden, but I was reminded as I read this one. Sean has a keen sense of story and plot, and everything moved right along about how you’d want it to! I’m giving it five stars because I haven’t had this much pure fun reading a novel in a while (although I’ve read plenty of books I truly enjoyed).

If there’s a quibble, it’s that Connor seems a little too mature in his dealings with his girlfriend and his sister. Sometimes I think he’s missing the 15-year-old attitude a little more than is called for by his, um, condition. But otherwise I think that the other thing that Sean has a good ear for is dialogue, and when you put the two together (story and dialogue) you end up with a pretty darned good book! Enjoyable for young adults and old adults (like me).

That pretty much says it all for me on the book.

Untold Press is Sean’s (and Jen Wylie’s) publishing company, and so far I’ve enjoyed the fiction I’ve read coming out of their small press.  That said, it’s been mostly stuff by Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie.

So go ahead and take a look at it.  Reading it was a lot of fun!

*****

KDP Select and KU

I have never placed any of my works in either of these programs up until now.  But as of today, all of my short stories are enrolled in both of them for the next 90 days.  This means that Amazon Prime members can download any of my short stories as their “borrows” for a particular month, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can borrow my stories and read them as part of their monthly subscription fee.

The stories are as follows:

  • Sole Occupant (and The Only Solution)
  • Odd Man Out (and The House at the Bend in the Road)
  • Jack’o’lantern (and The Moment and Sarah’s Puppy)
  • The Gateway (and America’s Pastime and Hot Spot)
  • Dead or Alive
  • Night Family
  • Rick’s Rules

If you have either of those services, and want to give my short stories a try, well, here’s your chance to do so for free.  I will take advantage of KDP Select’s program where I can make my short stories free for a couple of days and will post here and on FB when I do so.  Thanks!

*****

Dystopian vs. Post-apocalyptic

Ran across the internet site The Short List, who posted this list of “dystopian novels.”  The list was controversial, omitting plenty of good novels and listing some that were arguable, like THE HUNGER GAMES and ARTICLE 5.  Also it mixed “dystopian” with “post-apocalyptic” novels as if there were no difference.

I think it’s likely that both dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories attract many of the same readers.  I know I am attracted to both.  But is there a difference?  In many comments, it is argued that post-apocalyptic novels are a subset of dystopian fiction, while others argue that the two are separate, closely related perhaps, but both branches occupy the same level of whatever tree one might be making to categorize science fiction.

I have my own “End of the World” list of both types of novels on Amazon on which I tried to stick with “post-apocalyptic” types of novels.  I did not include classic dystopian stories like Orwell’s 1984 or P.K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? because they don’t paint a picture of a society that’s been wiped out by some catastrophe (hence, the “apocalyptic” part of the genre tag).  I stick to stories describing the world after something decimates (not literally; “decimate” means eliminate one of every ten people, I think) human society.  In The Stand, it is disease.  Likewise in Edward W. Robertson’s Breakers novels.  In Hugh Howey’s Wool, it is another form of disease brought on by nano-bots.  In Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven and Pournelle, it is an asteroid hitting the Earth.  In Stephen Baxter’s Ark and Flood, it is a flood of super-biblical proportions that destroys the environment as we know it.  In Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, it’s Ice-9.  (Read the book!  It’s lots of fun!)  In David Brin’s The Postman, it’s nuclear war.  In a bunch of books, it’s zombies!  How do the zombies get created out of your friends and neighbors?  Disease, usually.

I see “dystopian” as being something different.  I see it as a society that’s gone “off track”.  Orwell’s vision is the classic example.  Suzanne Collins paints a dystopian society in her Hunger Games trilogy, and so does Veronica Roth in her Divergent novels.  (Apparently, The Hunger Games is a blatant rip-off of another earlier novel, possibly of Japanese origin, which I’d never heard of…but the knowledgeable commenters knew all about it.)  Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged paints a dystopia of sorts, and apparently so does her novel Anthem.  (I’ve read the first, not the second, and I remain unimpressed with the “philosophy” found in Atlas Shrugged, but that’s just me.)  A lot of current young adult fiction can be categorized as dystopian, especially The Giver.  How about The Maze Runner?  Dystopian, and possibly post-apocalyptic (I haven’t read the follow-ups yet.)  (Oh, and I know The Giver isn’t really current, but my kids were both assigned it for school reading recently, so for me it’s current…)

Anyway, lots of good suggestions for reading were given in the comments, and I plan on checking out a few of them.  There’s something about the current crop of dystopian novels, especially the YA stuff, that grabs me – maybe it’s the attention to social orders as we see them today, and the way that kids relate to one another.  Maybe it’s just that it’s more accessible, with a more modern style of writing.  I don’t know.  But I know for me, it’s sometimes hard to get to the excellent story, because of the style in which an older novel was written.  Earth Abides and On The Beach are both like that for me; so is Brave New World.  Great, if frightening visions of the future, but stylistically, they seem to take more concentration or something, and seem harder to get into, for me at least.

If you have comments about any of this, I’d love to hear them.  (And I really don’t need to hear from the Vuitton Bags or Nike whatever spammers anymore…everything gets caught in the spam filter and I delete it all because I simply don’t have time to check four or five hundred posts…)

*****