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More Lunch Bag Art 2011

Last summer, I started an art project with my kids for their summer camp. At least once a week, I created Custom Art Lunch Bags for them. They loved it! It's the time of year to continue that tradition and I will keep an on-going gallery here of the lunch bags I create for them. Enjoy!

 

The Power of FREE

How an eBook Shot to the Kindle Bestseller Top 10 List in One Day

celebrateI was minding my own business the other day when I received this cryptic email from the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing team. It said:

Dear Publisher,

We wanted to let you know that we have matched a free promotion on another sales channel for the following ASIN(s):

B003B656DG

Please allow up to 24 hours for the price change to reflect on the Kindle store. Note that as provided on our Pricing Page, you will not earn royalties for free copies of this book during the free promotion.

If you have questions, please reply to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you,

Amazon KDP Team

Now, I thought this was kind of strange because I cannot set the prices for my eBooks as FREE in the KDP control panel. The lowest price I can set is 99 cents. For a long time, I felt 99 cents was a good price for my eBooks that were short stories. I set my novels and other longer books at $2.99 but 99 cents made sense for short stories, kind of like 99 cents for a song but a higher price for an album. Anyway, I didn't know what eBook they were referring to by that weird ASIN code so I had to go research it.

Turns out that particular ASIN number is for The Butterfly Effect, a fictional short story about my daughters and I. It is one of the few short stories I have for sale for the Kindle that has consistently sold at least a few copies a month for the past year or so. Since it is also a short story that is included in my book Modicum, I have set its price as FREE through my other eBook distributors in hopes of getting some sales for Modicum. But since Amazon wouldn't let me set its price at FREE, it remained at 99 cents in the Kindle Store until May 10th. And then… WHAMMO! It hit the Bestseller Lists in 2 categories! HOLY SHIT! As of this writing, it is #6 in Kindle eBooks Humor and #7 in Kindle eBooks Literary Fiction. I have proof, check it! In one day, this eBook went from an overall Kindle rank of #202,265 to #233. Amazing!

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Everyone Loves a Train Wreck

crazy_ladyI was farting around on Twitter yesterday, something I'm prone to do when I have writer's block or I'm bored. I came across this wonderful tweet that read: #amWriting: How not to handle bad reviews http://ow.ly/4pqnR @40kBooks. This link led me to a blog post that was subtitled "Self-published author Jacqueline Howett's online meltdown after a poor review quickly went viral, proving the internet has finally removed the line in the sand between reviewers and authors." Having been the victim of bad reviews as well as rejections from literary agents and publishers, this was immediately VERY intriguing to me so I read on. The blog post explained not only Howett's train wreck of inappropriate, unprofessional responses to her book review in the comments section and subsequent responses from internet trolls but also several other online disasters created by established authors. In terms of the literary world, this is almost as salacious to readers as TMZ exploits of celebrities is to TV viewers. Well, not really. But public displays of personal meltdowns always, ALWAYS get people's attention. Why? Come on, you know why. Everyone loves a train wreck. Believe it or not, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

Before I go on about Howett's disaster, I first must admit that I have received several bad reviews for the stuff I have published in addition to several excellent reviews as well. The good always comes with the bad. I have also received hundreds of rejection letters from literary agents. Hundreds! I used to keep them in a shoe box and secretly thought that one day, after mounds of success selling my books, I would return them to whom they originally came with a personal note from yours truly saying, "Now you have fucked up!" I later realized, after several moves between residences, that I was a moron for lugging these negative letters around. One day, after a good spring cleaning, I decided to throw them away and felt the burden of keeping these rejection letters vanish instantly. I have also received dozens of rejection letters from editors and publishers and art directors from various newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and publishing houses. But, and this is an important but, these rejection letters and bad reviews are all a part of the process of becoming a writer. Your literary output will not be everyone's cup of tea (to quote Howett!) just as your own personal taste does not align with others in your social circle. I realized this years ago when talking to a friend about a negative review I had received. After pouring my heart out, he asked me, "Do you like the group N Sync?" I said, "Hell no!" My friend went on to explain (this is so clear to me now) how everyone has an opinion about something and a reviewer was no different than anyone else. "They are just publishing their opinions," he said. So true, my friend, so true. But I also know for every 10 rejection letters I've received, I've also received at least one very positive letter requesting my permission to include my work in their publication. Yeah!

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The Concerned Department

support_callAfter the holidays passed, I decided to treat myself with a gift. I had a cool hundy burning a hole in my pocket and a dire need for a gadget to stream Netflix in my new pad. I had previously used a Wii to stream Netflix. It worked pretty good. But I wanted to stream in HD, something the Wii couldn’t do. Plus, a new Wii would cost $199 and I didn’t want to spend more than $100. After some research, I set my sights on a Roku XD. Amazon was out of stock but roku.com had it on sale for $69. The deal was done; the Roku XD was ordered. I was happy.

The following Monday afternoon, I received an email stating that “my product had shipped via USPS” and that it would take “3-7 business days” to arrive. They provided me with a tracking number which I immediately tracked on usps.com. Unfortunately, they said there was no record of the item but “event information may not be available if your item was mailed recently.” Well, that’s cool. Roku.com echoed the same info by stating “Please note: although your order has been shipped, USPS may not show any information on your order for up to 24 hours.” OK, I’ll check tomorrow. Geez, can’t a guy be excited about his Christmas present?

The next afternoon, I tracked my present again and got the same response from usps.com, “there is no record of this item.” Ummm. I decided to call Roku. Their phone system was a labyrinth of options that lead me to an announcement that they had online chat support. I quickly hung up and jumped online with their chat support staff. After a brief summation of my problem, the support dude responded, “Yep, the post office doesn’t have record of that tracking number. I’ll escalate this issue and you should hear back from us in 24 hours.” Uh, all right. I’ll wait another day, buddy. Aargh.

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Smashwords: The Future of Independent Publishing

I've written about my fondness for eBooks. And I would like to introduce one of my favorite publishing partners: Smashwords. Of the several online publishers that I'm involved with, Smashwords is the most well-rounded of them all. Smashwords offers an abundant amount of documentation for creating your eBooks, has an impressive distribution channel (including Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc.), and has a quick payout schedule with a very nice percentage that goes back to the author. As an aspiring or professional author, what more could you want?

I've been asked quite a bit recently about my thoughts on self-publishing. I've been down the path of traditional publishing before. I had a literary agent and my books were submitted to traditional publishers in a traditional fashion. But that model is dying fast. If you don't believe me, look at the music industry. Look at the movie rental business. The Internet is the future. The Internet is the future of book publishing as well. If you are an author, then consider Smashwords. They are the future.

swlogo

Check out my eBooks on Smashwords.

 

Lunch Bag Art 2010

One of the most important things I try to instill in my kids is the love of art, creating it, consuming it, enjoying it. The three of us love to sit together and draw. And they love to see the cartoons I create. So when my kids started summer camp this year, I decided to add a little fun to their day. Custom lunch bag art! I passed around photos to my friends of the lunch bags and they enjoyed them so much that I thought I would share them here too. I'll keep an ongoing gallery of all the lunch bags for the summer. Enjoy!

 

Cartoon Dicks Are Unprofessional

dont_do_itI created a cartoon for a short story / comic strip compilation that I submitted to a publisher that actually may never see the light of day; the cartoon, that is. See, the cartoon is about boners. It is titled Bonerpalooza. I created the cartoon after a quick burst of inspiration, like most of my cartoons, and thought the idea was amusing enough to put down on paper. And like most of my cartoons, if it made me and a select group of trusted friends laugh, then I thought it was golden. But I've come to a realization that no matter how funny the cartoon is, most people are offended by cartoon dongs. To quote one of my best friends, whose opinion I don't take lightly, "Cartoon dicks are unprofessional." So, I was in a quandary. Most of the time, I don't really care what people think of me or my work. I've come to a point in my creative life that I cater to my cartoon / writing muse whenever possible. But I've been troubled by the reception of this cartoon. Everyone I've shown it to thinks it's funny. But they have all told me not to publish it. So, is Squirty McGirth offensive? Are cartoon dicks unprofessional?

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EBooks: I Get It

ipadEBook readers have been around for a while but, to be honest, I really didn't care. As a reader, I think I was too attached to certain things about printed books, things like their tactile feel, typeface, even their smell. As a writer, a book in print was where you wanted to be, especially if a publisher invested in the cost and marketing of it. In the last few weeks, I have completely changed my mind. EBooks rule!

A similar experience happened to me when iPods first came out. Once I discovered the simplicity of how the music could be purchased and loaded onto my iPod, I was in love. And I've had the same discovery with eBooks, thanks to the Kindle, the iPad, and some other similar (though not quite as cool) eReaders.

I first experimented with eBooks using MobiPocket on my Blackberry. I was skeptical at first but the software was easy to load and I immediately found a bunch of resources on the web with public domain books. They also had an eBook store, so I could search their store for authors I liked to read. In addition, they had an eBook creator called Mobipocket Creator. It was quite easy to use and, once my eBooks were created, I could publish them to their eBook database quickly for their eBook store.

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Weird Dreams

I've been having a lot of weird dreams lately. And I know exactly why it's happening. But rather than run through the details of why the dreams are manifesting, I thought it would be more fun to explore this topic through laughter. Check this out from the memory banks:

Mr Grieves #120

Oh, there's more!

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Rock the Library!

library1In the past couple of months, I've experienced a great sense of pride when seeing my books in stock at two of my favorite local book stores. There's nothing like seeing my work sitting on the same shelves with other writers or cartoonists I admire. But yesterday I experienced my own little nerdy rock star moment. My books are currently catalogued at the Wells Branch Library. And I can see your reaction now (insert sarcastic eye roll). But let me tell you something, dear reader. Librarians know how to treat a writer.

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If you found my blogs, stories, cartoons, or other articles on my website useful or entertaining, then please visit my Books page and check out my novels as well as my comic strip compilation and my collection of short stories and cartoons. They are all available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats. For a pittance, you can purchase something great to read while supporting a writer with a large family and lots of mouths to feed. Thanks for your support, Scott.