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What’s Tom Been Up To?

Although I’m certainly not of Stephen King fame, I do have quite a few reader friends out there who from time to time want to know what I’m working on. So today I thought I’d put up a short update.

I’ve always been a one-book-at-a-time author, but somehow I now have four potential books in the works. That’s not including the horror novella I was working on with my wife, Blanche, but have temporarily abandoned.

What I have my sights focused on now is a novel that might ultimately be titled The Roar of a December Lion, The December Lion Roars, or maybe even Like Steinbeck and Charley. No matter what I call it, though, it’s the story of a sixty-six-year-old man, who like John Steinbeck in his non-fiction book Travels with Charley, sets out to drive across America for two reasons. One is that his heart has been acting up and he doesn’t know how much time he’s got left. The other reason is that despite all the negative changes he’s seen over the years, he still has this urge to go out there and become reacquainted with his country and its people. So, against the worry-filled wishes of his family, the aging widower says chuck it all; puts a mattress in the back of his old van; equips it with a camping stove and everything else he’ll need; then sets out on the road trip he and his deceased wife had dreamed about for years but could never afford. And wow, I’m at the hallway point in the story, and it’s turning out to be one wild and woolly journey.

Two of the other three books I have in the works are also novels. One is about a well-to-do executive who loses everything, including his family, and finds himself living on the streets of West Palm Beach, Florida. Bad as that experience is though, he isn’t living in “the rough” for very long before he gets a huge break. He’s taken under the wing of a street-savvy homeless man the local “houseless” people call “The Prophet.” An imposing figure at six-and-a-half-feet tall, The Prophet is an ex-professional basketball star that has long been wanted by the law for assaulting a man—an off duty cop, who was unmercifully beating up his wife in a garage. The main character’s hope is that someday his estranged wife, and their daughter, will have him back. The only other thing keeping him going is his plan B. He and The Prophet are trying to put together enough money to buy a used mobile home and set it up in a hidden, desolate, jungle-like area down in the Florida Keys.

The third novel I’ve started is the sequel to my already published, A Second Chance in Paradise.

The fourth book is a memoir and I have been adding a little to it from time to time. Although it’s about my coming-of-age years—when I was growing up in New York with my mentally-ill mother, I just might extend it into the years that followed.

So that’s it, gals and guys. That’s what Tom’s working on. And believe me, he is working.


Amazon Select—I Love You, I Love You Not

During my many days communicating with fellow writers around the world, I’ve heard all kinds of opinions about the pros and cons of signing up with Amazon Select. I don’t want to go into how, over the past year, Amazon has made it tougher and tougher for us indie stars to shine. That’s fodder for another post. I just want to talk about the Select that’s in place today and whether or not it can help us sell ebooks.

Far and away the biggest advantage of joining is that every ninety days Select writers get five free promotional days. Amazon suggests we use two at a time; and for the most part, I agree with them. I, personally, have had a few really good one-day promos that landed my books on the free top 100 list in the U.S. One time I had two on there.

Nevertheless, I’ve run far more two-day promos and that’s what I recommend. I’ve found that late in the second day my rankings almost always begin to fall. There might be
exceptions, but just as there are to every rule, they’re few and far between.

I’ve heard it before and I can hear a few of your thoughts now—“I’m not giving my babies away! I worked far too hard on my books, and they’re too darn good to give away.” Well, the few people I’ve heard say that weren’t selling a whole lot of books.

This writing racket is an extremely difficult one to break into. If you haven’t roped one of the big-six publishers or another that has deep pockets, the odds against you are immense. And while we’re talking about immense, keep in mind that Amazon’s reading audience is huge as well. An author can have dozens of free promos for a single book—give away five, ten, twenty-thousand or more free Kindles each time, and he or she still won’t scratch Ammy’s reading surface.

It’s a well know fact that a very, very small percentage of free downloaders will ever actually read your book. I’ve heard it guesstimated at one to two percent.  Just as an example, let’s say you ran a freebie promo, did well, and had 20,000 books snatched up. Even if as many as five percent eventually read your book, that’s only one thousand ebooks. Amazon has millions of customers!

And keep in mind, even if only a hundred people read and liked your book, there’s a good chance they will be checking your Author page or searching your name on Amazon to see what else you’ve written. I think this a benefit that many writers overlook–most readers put their new downloads on a que. They don’t actually get around to reading them for quite some time. You’re sowing seeds for sales with your free promos. You’re cultivating a crop of potential buyers that will keep popping up–for quite some time.

Now…think about what could happen if you ran ten reasonably successful promos over the course of a year. Each time you’re planting more seeds! And that’s not to mention the
immediate satisfaction you can reap when two, three or more days of very good sales follow a successful free promo.

Yes, like I said here earlier, Amazon isn’t treating us nearly as good as they did last winter. But they are still the biggest bookseller in the world, and that world, rough as it is, is there for us to conquer.

If there is a better way of promoting our books (without spending a small fortune) rather than “giving them away” on Amazon Select, I’d sure like to know what it is.

Write tight!

Tom Winton