Monday, January 30, 2012

Amazon KDP Select



Since it seems like every indie author is talking about his/her experience with this new program from Amazon.com, I figured I’d do the same.


Dictionary.com defines the adjective "select" as: chosen in preference to another or others. In case you haven’t heard about KDP Select, here’s a short description from this excellent blog entry. If you’re considering signing your book/s up, I strongly encourage you to read the entire post.

Back in December, I put all of my books on sale for 99 cents in anticipating of raising the prices back to $2.99 and keeping them there once KDP Select began. I chose my first novel, Have You Seen Her? as my initial Select offering and signed it up to run from January 2nd to March 30th. I picked Friday, January 6 as the first free day.


To most traditional authors, it seems like insanity to give your books away, but I, like most indie authors, saw this as a unique way to get my books to be chosen in preference to another or others and into the hands of new readers with the power of Amazon advertising behind me. Amazon advertised the book from 6 AM until midnight, and I also posted announcements on Facebook, Twitter and all the online groups to which I belong.

As I watched the numbers update in real time in my KDP reports, I was astounded by the results. When I woke up on Saturday morning, 10,316 people in the U.S. had downloaded the book. It had 485 downloads in the UK, 6 on Amazon DE (Germany) and 2 on Amazon FR (France). What truly amazed me was now that the free offer had ended, the paid buys (at $2.99) were starting to roll in. As the weeks passed, the sales have slowed, but the paid sales numbers as of this morning were US - 1,223 UK - 55 Other foreign stores - 7. My other books also sold 118 copies.

In addition, the book has had 303 borrows by Prime members. Last month Amazon paid authors $1.70 for each borrow based on $500,000 in the “pot.” An additional $200,000 was added for January, so participating authors are splitting $700,000.

God only knows how long this program will continue or maintain popularity among readers, but my intention is to remove the current book and enroll another one every 90 days. Since I have five novels, by the time I finish offering them all, I will have written a new book!

I know there are a lot of Amazon haters out there, but all I can say to them is, “Hate on,” because as they say on the commercials for that other giant, “I’m loving it!”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sample Sunday

This is the last Sample Sunday excerpt for Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing. Anything else I post would probably contain major spoilers! Cool


Dressed in a casual designer outfit, Bob Kartsonakis fit in well with the early dinner crowd at Lyrics the next evening. Since he was a fit, attractive young Greek, he had no problem mingling with the fashionable subjects he often investigated. With his wavy, black hair combed back from his face and the new Fendi shades he’d comped to the company, he looked like a Lyrics regular when he sat down at the bar to chat with the bartender. His purpose was to watch Michael and observe how he handled himself with the numerous attractive female guests.

“This is a really nice place. Who’s the owner here?”

“His name is Mike Reese,” Jerry answered. “That’s him over there in the black shirt talking to the manager.”

“Big guy. He must work out.”

Jerry laughed. “Yeah, like it’s a religion.”

“Do you think he’d tell me what gym he goes to? I just moved out here, and I’m thinking about starting serious weight training.”

“He’s a member of Sportime over in Quogue, but I’ve heard him mention having a gym in his house,” Jerry offered, totally unaware he was being duped. After he served another guest, Jerry came back down to the end of the bar, and Bob continued their conversation.

“So how long has this club been here?”

“About nine months. In fact, I was one of the first people Mike and Dee interviewed.”

“Who’s Dee?”

“His wife. She’d originally planned to come in with him to manage the club, but she changed her mind. I guess she’s busy enough working and taking care of their baby.”

A family man, Bob thought to himself. This is getting better all the time.

“What is she, an actress or a model or something?”

“No. She’s an interior decorator, I think. I don’t really know her well, but she seems nice. Some of the women don’t seem to like her though. I guess just because she’s black.”

“Hmm,” Bob said offhandedly, deciding to end the conversation before Jerry got suspicious.

Bob finished his dinner, nursed an after dinner drink and coffee but couldn’t drag it out any longer. Unfortunately, Michael had only come into the main room once to greet some special guests and kept himself confined to the office most of the night. But the major part of surveillance was just waiting, so he went out to his car and took a nap. The alarm on his watch woke him at one o’clock. The parking lot was empty with the exception of two cars, one of which was a black Escalade. Bob wanted to change into his “field” clothes before Michael exited. Since Lyrics didn’t close until two o’clock, he drove to all-night coffee shop, bought an extra-large coffee to keep him awake while he waited and then changed his clothes in the men’s room. Now wearing jeans, sneakers and a Perdue sweatshirt, he parked a short distance down the street so Reese wouldn’t notice him sitting in the car.

Available on

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fun Friday!

I’ve spent the past eighteen months concentrating on getting five of the eight manuscripts I’d written in the past nine years onto Kindle and Nook. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, this process has been exciting, exhausting, challenging and frustrating. Looking back to 2010, I now realize I made a major mistake I made during this time. Because I was so determined to get all five books uploaded, I didn’t consider how much work marketing five books would turn out to be. I’ve mentioned this in previous entries, so I’ll spare you the rehash. The bottom line is - I haven’t written anything in a year.

A whole year.

This is the biggest mistake I’ve made in my publishing journey thus far. These books were released only a few months apart, and as a result, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the marketing and promoting.

Now that Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, the fifth book, released on January 2, I am finally back to having fun again! This week I spent a couple of days at my favorite writing spot, Atlanta Bread Company where I started outlining the next book and doing research.


 I am so excited!

The hero of this book is Vaughn Breland. If you read Hollywood Swinging, you’ll remember him as Devon’s buddy, the gorgeous, narcissistic player that even Devon thinks suffers from sexual addiction.


(In real life, that's former New Orleans Saint, Darren Sharper, in case you're wondering. Pretty, isn't he? Look at those dimples ...)

This book is going to be a “taming of the playboy” story. I plan to take Vaughn so far out of his comfort zone, it will take a very special woman to bring him back.

Doing research for my books is one of the best parts of the process. Without giving any major spoilers, last week I researched:

Telluride, Colorado

Lamborghini Murcielago


the Santa Ana winds

orthopedic surgery

physical therapy


and downtown Los Angeles high-rise apartments.


Of course, more research will be done as the story unfolds, but I needed to do that much to get Chapter One written.

Now I just need to come up with a working title. In keeping with my brand, I found about ten old school song titles that might work, but I'm leaning toward Ain't Too Proud to Beg by the Temptations. It speaks of the complete turnaround Vaughn has to make to go from being a Hollywood player who's never begged a woman for anything to a man who is hopelessly in love.


Being able to start writing again is wonderful! I’m my happiest when I’m creating a story. So, if you see me, and I’m wearing a dopey smile, you’ll know why!
Have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Traveling ...

I’m on the road today! Hanging at Women Unplugged - http://bit.ly/AChvc8 and also at IRMC Books - http://bit.ly/xlK0yG

Please stop by and check out these great sites.

See you Wednesday with a new post about writing ...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sample Sunday

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing

Dee went to sleep convinced that Rita wanted to talk to her about her blossoming romance with Jonathan. She thought maybe he’d even proposed and Rita needed a sounding board. She looked forward to hearing whatever exciting news Rita had to share.

In the morning when she woke up, Michael wasn’t in the bed. The aroma of coffee told her that he was in the kitchen. She slid her feet into her slippers, tied on her robe and descended the spiral staircase. But the only sign that he’d been there was a carton of Half & Half sitting on the counter.

She called him and didn’t get an answer, so she went to the French doors leading out to the deck and peeked through the blinds. Michael reclined on a chaise drinking a cup of coffee with his shades protecting his eyes from the bright morning sun. Dee frowned at the sight. Her husband never rose before ten o’clock unless he’d set the alarm for an appointment.

“What are you doing out here? It’s only seven o’clock. She walked over to him and tangled her fingers in his sleep-mussed hair. “You couldn’t have slept more than three hours.”

“I didn’t even come upstairs last night, because I didn’t want to wake you.” He said without even looking up at her. “What do you have planned today?”

“I have to meet a possible client at four-thirty to look at a job.” She hated lying to him, but she wanted to keep Rita’s confidence. “Otherwise I’m hanging out with Joe today.”

“He’s not up yet, is he?”

“No, not yet. Do you want some more coffee?”

“That’s okay. I’ll get it.”

“Lie back down. I’m already up,” she volunteered, knowing how tired he must’ve been.

After she’d made herself a cup of tea and refilled his mug, she went back out onto the deck and snuggled up next to him on the chaise.

Michael pulled her close but continued to stare out at the ocean behind his sunglasses. “Do you ever think about what your life would’ve been like if you hadn’t married me?”

“What kind of question is that? We have a wonderful life.” She reached up and touched his cheek. “It’s been a little complicated lately, but it’s nothing we can’t figure out how to fix.”

“Do you ever think about being married to somebody else? Somebody who’s completely different from me?”

She heard an odd sadness in his voice. “No, honey. I don’t. What’s the matter? Where’s this coming from?”

“Sometimes I think if you’d married someone different, you’d be happier. You deserve to be happy, baby.”

“I am happy, Michael. We haven’t been spending enough time together, but if we change our schedules and get you back to church, we can get through this. You’ve been working nonstop for eight months. You’re exhausted and talking crazy. I hate seeing you like this, but I can’t fix it. Only you can do that, and you have to want to fix it. After all, you’re not working to put food on the table. How much you’re involved in the daily operation of the club is up to you. It’s your choice. Right now you need some sleep though. Go back to bed. I’ll wake you up at three.”

“Okay. I’m sorry about all of this, Dee.”

She smiled and kissed him. “Go to sleep,” she said, waving him off to the bedroom.

Get your copy today on -  Kindle: http://amzn.to/rZUfHX or Nook: http://bit.ly/sOhiiz

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sample Sunday

Here's another little snippet from Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing.

A week later, Troy returned from Brazil several shades darker. Michael made no mention of the new designer suits he wore over the next few evenings. When he and Michael were alone in the office several days after his return he said, “Hey, man. You never even asked me how my trip was. What’s up with that?”

Michael leaned back in his desk chair and smiled. “I didn’t want to get in your business. I figured if you had anything to tell me, then you’d tell me. Okay, so how was it?”

“Rio is incredible. You know they have nude beaches there, right?”

“Yeah, so I’ve heard. And you were running around buck-naked with the best of ¢em, weren’t you?” Michael let out a boisterous laugh.

“Well, you know what they say about when in Rome.” A grin took over Troy’s chiseled features that were responsible for weakening the wills of countless women.

“Which one was it this time? Michael asked, trying to find out exactly what the nature of his best friend’s associations with women who were his own mother’s age.”

“Victoria Charleton. She’s the ex-wife of the dude who owns the Charleton Cosmetics empire. After they divorced last year, she got a multi-million dollar settlement. While we were there, we stayed on a yacht that belongs to one of her friends. Mike, I tell you these people really know how to live. Victoria loves to shop, so we did a lot of that. She says she knows clothes make me happy, and she wants me to be happy. Ain’t that a trip?”

“You never said anything about liking her,” Michael asked, never having heard Troy say anything about the woman personally. “Do you even like her?” He wondered how Troy could be satisfied with a relationship that was inches away from being a business deal.

He gazed across the room as he considered Michael’s question. “She’s an interesting woman – well-traveled and well-educated. Until I started seeing Rita, I never dealt with women even my own age, and definitely not older women. Except for Rita, I’d gotten used to my ladies asking me to buy things for them. Victoria enjoys buying for me, and I like the feeling.”

Michael uttered a snide laugh and threw his hands up in the air. “Well, you answered my question. All I can say is have a good time, man.”

“Didn’t Krista Maxwell give her party here last week? How’d it go?”

Michael fidgeted in his seat suddenly feeling self-conscious. “It went great. No problems.”

“Does she look as tasty in person as she does on the screen?”

“Good enough to eat, man.”

“Is she as free as I’ve heard she is?”

“Free as a bird. She’s only in town for a couple of weeks.”

Troy shot Michael a curious stare. “How do you know that?”

“She told me.” He walked over to his desk, pulled out the note from the back of his calendar and handed it to Troy.

The two men had been friends since they attended the same grade school in Nana’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Closer than some brothers, they trusted each other implicitly.

“Whoa!” Troy’s eyes widened as he read it. “She gave you this? So why are you still holding on to it, man?”

“I don’t know. Maybe just to prove to myself I’ve still got game.” He snickered, still disturbed that a woman he’d never even met had such an intense effect on him. “I’m not going to call her.”

“I’ll call her,” Troy said, holding up the paper and giving it an impish grin.

Michael snatched the note from Troy’s hand and put it back in his desk calendar. “I think you already have your hands full.”

Available on Kindle: http://amzn.to/rZUfHX and Nook: http://bit.ly/sOhiiz

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Do fiction writers need to do research?

One question I am always asked is, “What kind of research do you do for your books?” Doing research is one of my favorite parts of writing a novel, because I am an information junkie by nature. Unfortunately, it’s easy for me to get carried away, and I have to rein myself in.

Two of my favorite authors, Beverly Jenkins and Eric Jerome Dickey, include such detail in their books; it’s obvious they’ve put in time to do extensive research. This is one of the reasons I enjoy their writing so much. Ms. Jenkins even treats her readers to the sources of her study of African-American history in the back of each of her historical romances. Mr. Dickey is better than Google Earth when it comes to taking the reader on a tour of the cities featured in his contemporary mainstream novels. When I finish reading his books, I feel as if I’ve actually been to the location. In one of his stories, he gave such a vivid and hilarious description of an Atlanta J.R. Crickets restaurant so well, I knew without question he’d been sitting in a corner watching the crowd as he threw down on some hot wings during one of his visits here.

I would love to tell you that I fly to the setting locations of my books and spend a week there soaking up the local sights, sounds and flavors, but I’d be lying. Often I wonder whether the research I’ve done is enough or too much, but comments from readers on Amazon or B&N like the ones below reassure me:

Reader Kathleen said this about Hot Fun in the Summertime: As a born and bred Jersey girl, the description of this book got my attention when I saw that the story was about the Jersey shore. This is the first book that I read of Ms. Brown's, and I absolutely loved it! As a Jersey native, Ms. Brown's accurate description of various Jersey shore towns and attractions was spot on, I could close my eyes and visualize everything that she described.”

Reader Tia shared: “I just finished reading Hot Fun and was very proud of how well written the book was and how the author gave such a vivid description of my home state, NJ and the beauty of our shore. I felt connected to the characters and scenery.”

Reader BrownBerri commented on Have You Seen Her?:I'm from Philly, have been to Warmdaddy's, and having gone to Santa Barbara when I was in LA recently, I literally know most of the places you mention so I'm getting really good visuals.”

The settings of Have You Seen Her? are Philadelphia, PA, Atlantic City, NJ and Santa Barbara, CA. I was born and raised in Jersey, and spent many days in Atlantic City as a child and also in the 80’s and 90’s after AC became the casino capital of the east coast. Also, I used to date a guy who lived in South Philly, and I hung out there a lot. What I needed to know was how these cities have changed since I’d visited there last. Where a victim of domestic abuse might go for help, and what kind of counseling she might receive was another subject on which I needed details. California divorce law and Trump properties in Atlantic City needed to be researched as well.
 
The setting research is always fun to do, but I really love getting into the details of different subjects. For instance, in Hot Fun in the Summertime, I had to find out about method acting and Trump properties in Atlantic City.

For Hollywood Swinging, I read about movie production, California anti-stalking laws and celebrity fashion stylists.

I Can’t Get Next to You took a lot of research, but it was the most interesting of all my books. Since I’ve never been in a strip club in my life, I did e-mail interviews with a few Atlanta men who have patronized the clubs and also one woman that currently tends bar at a local strip club here. The lawsuit in the book was based on the infamous Duke rape case. I used the exact details from the case, including actual transcripts of conversations with the accused athletes only I reversed the race of the stripper and the players.

Finally, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing is set in the Hamptons, Long Island, New York. Delving into the lifestyles, homes and habits of the residents of that exclusive enclave was fascinating.

(This is a house in the Hamptons, not a hotel!)

The information I discovered about Riker’s Island prison was an eye opener.

Rikers Island3 New York Rikers Island

The Hilton resort on the island of Bali gave me an extreme case of wanderlust.
    

Doing your research as a fiction writer gives your books the detail they need to be believable. Just because the story is made up doesn't mean you can make up the details if you're writing about real places and things.

In addition to Google and Google Earth, one of my favorite sites for location research is www.citi-data.com. I absolutely love reading real people’s comments about their city/neighborhood.
 
Today, I am getting ready to begin a new story, and I’m trying to decide on a setting. I’ve already featured New Jersey, Atlanta and Los Angeles. I’ll let you know what I decide …

           

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sample Sunday

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing

Dee and Michael Reese have been married for two years. They have a loving, passionate marriage, are raising a beautiful toddler, are actively involved in their church and are successfully managing two businesses.

But their perfect life is unraveling at the seams.

Can Dee’s marriage survive the ultimate betrayal? And will Michael pay for this betrayal with his life?

Today's excerpt:

Two days later, Krista came back into Lyrics accompanied only by her bodyguard right before they opened for the night. Once she exiled her brawny overseer to a corner, she took a conspicuous seat at the end of the bar and waited for Michael to walk out of his office.

“Krista,” he said, stopping short in surprise. An early guest’s presence didn’t take him off guard, because even though it wasn’t common knowledge, he purposely left the doors unlocked for his pampered clientele who thought it an inconvenience to wait until a specified hour. Rather, he’d been sure that his disregard of Krista’s note had circumvented her interest.

“We’re not open yet for the night. Are you here for an early dinner?”

“Not exactly. Sit down and have a drink with me.”

He took the barstool next to her and told the bartender to give him a cranberry club soda. “I waited for your call, but it never came. Why not?”

“Because I’m a married man.”

“What’s the matter? All I said was that I wanted to see you,” she taunted.

He hadn’t yet dressed in his work clothes. Until it was time to open, he wore what he was most comfortable in – jeans and a t-shirt. Krista leaned toward him and ran a perfectly manicured fingernail up and down his exposed bicep.

“I’ll only be here for another week then I’m off to the winter shows in Europe. Paris and Milan are waiting for me.”

“I’m sure they are.” His eyes took in her legendary long legs, barely covered by a microscopic mini dress. He’d never seen anything so perfect in his life.

“I have a house here I hardly ever use because I’m always traveling. But when I am here, it’s always nice to have some visitors. It’ll be strictly business, Michael. I want to talk to you about scheduling another party when I come back to town. Are you available for that?”

What she really wanted was clear, and he was flattered. The flattery wasn’t what moved him though. Instead, it was a vision of running his hands up the legs that had graced so many runways and the thought of tasting the plump lips responsible for making women the world over buy the lipstick she advertised. His groin ached at thought of making love to the most beautiful woman in the world.

“I’m always available to discuss club business,” he said, trying to blink away the image. “When do you want to get together?”

“How’s Thursday afternoon for lunch?”

“I’ll put it on my calendar and call you,” he said, looking directly into her eyes and touching her hand gently. “Now I’ve gotta get back to work.”

She tossed her long hair back over one shoulder with an alluring smile then signaled her bodyguard that she was ready to leave.

Available on
and

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Release Day!

Woo hoo! It's release day for AIN’T NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING! Get your copy today!


Dee and Michael Reese have been married for two years. They have a loving, passionate marriage, are raising a beautiful toddler, are actively involved in their church and are successfully managing two businesses.

But their perfect life is unraveling at the seams.

Can Dee’s marriage survive the ultimate betrayal? And will Michael pay for this betrayal with his life?