Nope, that fire’s not a mirage

If anyone ever says writing is easy, laugh in their face and walk away. They’re insane and should be shunned like the delusional miscreant they are. While writing can be a joyful, fulfilling experience, it can also be filled with enough despair and self-doubt to make anyone go running for the hills.

I reached that point over a year ago. And, while it wasn’t the first time I’d reached that point, it was certainly the most extensive. Writing requires dedication and drive. But, somewhere along the way, I lost the fire. I felt like a hack. A pretender. Someone who just wanted to be a writer, but who lacked wherewithal to actually do what was necessary to be one. This, after having already published 3 novels. I just didn’t feel like it was in me.

I stopped reading. I essentially walked away from my writing. Even when I attended my writers group meetings, I felt like a sham. Just going through the motions in order to not expose the reality of where I was. Absolutely lost.

A few months ago, I started a new job. It’s been great and creatively challenging. And, despite working hours that would make writing a challenge, I started to feel the fire building again. I decided not to push it too hard. I started reading again. I jotted notes down. I reassessed some of my old writing. I started looking at the unfinished business of my trilogies. I checked my social media accounts. I looked at my Amazon reviews for the first time in forever. 5 new 5-stars for my first book. I nearly cried. People like what I write. I started a story and I owe them, at the very least, a conclusion to that story. And I know I have more in me. Most importantly, I started writing again. Nothing consequential. Still taking small steps. But, the fire is there. I just have to keep stoking it.

Promoting on eReader News Today


I have an ad running today to promote my Kindle Countdown for Danny Dirks over at eReader News Today (ENT). I paid $15 for inclusion in their email list, a post to their blog, and a Facebook post. Their Facebook page has ~475k followers, but knowing Facebook, only 400 people will see that post. ENT recently changed their advertising format to mirror that of BookBub, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near the same scale (yet). At $15, I only have to sell ~22 books to recoup the fee. ENT’s book of the day feature is much more reliable, but nearly impossible to land. They have a one-time submission at the beginning of the year and then fill all of their slots in one shot. But, with a rate of $15, it’s hard to not give their new email venture a try. There are certainly more expensive and less effective venues out there. Stay tuned as I’ll post a follow up later this week for those interested in the returns.

Have experience with ENT? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

10 Places to Promote Your Book


Let’s face it, everyone pretty much knows about BookBub (if you don’t, feel free to read up on my own personal case study). But, the ‘Bub can be a tough nut to crack and they won’t just keep running the same books over and over. And, while free works, occasionally we’d like to get paid for our writing. 😉 So, what are the second-tier options for my discounted, but still paid book? Check out some of the options below. In no particular order.

The Midlist
Pixel of Ink
Bargain Booksy
Fussy Librarian
Daily Cheap Reads
Digital Book Today

Now, while I’d like to say that the ROI is as solid for these as BookBub, that just isn’t the case. Make sure you do your homework before running an ad with ANY site. Some genres do better than others. They might have a big mailing list, but unless it’s segmented by genre, you could be sending your high fantasy novel to romance readers. Remember to temper your expectations. Be comfortable in the amount you’re investing, as you may not see a dollar for dollar return. Judge success on your own scale and understand that what works for one may not work for another.

Do you have experience with these or other advertising sites? Share with us in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

The “Should I Self-Publish?” Checklist



Let’s get something straight; self publishing is not the easy way out. It is 10x more difficult than going through a traditional publisher. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, the rewards can be that much better. Let’s take a look at some key points of self publishing to see if it’s the path you should take.

Do you want control over every single aspect of your writing and book design?

This is one of the biggest reasons why folks self publish. By self publishing, you answer to no one but yourself. This also means that you are the one responsible for everything and some folks don’t want all that responsibility. If you’re ready to be the end-all/be-all, then feel free to jump in.

Are you prepared to do the work necessary to publish the most polished novel you possibly can?

Self publishing isn’t about cranking out 70,000 words, uploading a Word file to KDP with a slapped-together cover, and clicking “Publish.” It’s about putting out the best darn book you possibly can without having to give up a huge chunk of royalties and a lifetime of rights. This means having the book professionally edited, paying to have a cover created, wrangling beta readers, and maybe even paying to have the insides formatted. If you’re not willing to make an effort to get these services, I recommend traditionally publishing. Honestly. Otherwise, you may be wasting your time and tarnishing your potential reputation. You might not have the money to do these sorts of things and I understand that, but then you’re going to be producing a mediocre product that neither you, nor your readers, will be happy with. Your goal should be to put out a book that rivals those found in any bookstore. If you can’t come close to that, then you should reconsider traditional publishing.

Are you willing to do the marketing necessary for your book to be successful?

This holds true whether you’re self published or a traditionally published midlist author: You’re going to have to do most of your own marketing. Marketing comes in many forms. Some cost money. Some don’t. But, no one is going to hand you a prize as soon as you self publish. In fact, unless your circle of family and friends is extraordinary (and they’re all willing to buy your book), immediate success is rare. It’s often a constant struggle to keep your book in front of readers. This doesn’t mean you need to devote your life to promoting your book (you should really be working on your next book as soon as your first one is published). But, promotion can take time and energy.

Can you handle criticism from strangers and friends in a professional manner?

Self-publishing is still a 4-letter-word to some people. It’s climbing its way out in certain crowds, but there are some who hear it and automatically assume “vanity publishing” and “most likely crap that no one else would publish.” Is your skin thick enough to be on the front lines? You will get negative reviews that target you because you are self published. You will get strange looks from people when you tell them you self published. You will get haughty disdain when you explain in clear terms why you self published. You will be faced with a type of segregation that, at times, will bar you from participation because of your chosen method of publication. You need to be able to take all of the criticism and doubt with your head held high and

Can you live without “publishing industry” validation?

This is a biggie. Do you need the established gatekeepers of traditional publishing to tip their cap your way in order to be proud of your writing? If so, turn back now. The chances of having that happen after self publishing are slim to none. Yes, it’s happened. Hugh Howey got a sweet paper-only contract after his self-published novel, Wool, took off. Recently, cover artist (he did the cover for Danny Dirks!) and author Jason Gurley published his epic, Eleanor, and had it picked up several months later by Crown Publishing (and recently in the UK by HarperCollins). Congrats to him. It’s so rare though. You can pretty much guarantee being shunned by any sort of traditional press once you’ve self published, unless you happen to sell a ridiculous amount of books out of the gate. $ attracts $.

If you answered “Yes” to all of these, congratulations on thinking you’re ready to be a self-published author. 😉 I can tell you, from 3+ years of personal experience, it has its moments, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m proud of my mistakes and my successes because they are all mine.

What do you think? Anything I missed? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Me? On TV?! Sure, Why Not! – Writers2Writers Show 101 Teaser

So, this is a small sample clip of me pretending to know what I’m talking about with regard to publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing. 😉 While we still don’t have a debut date set, the producer has created some teasers. If you haven’t followed along with the Me? On TV? Sure, Why Not? series, feel free to peruse the older posts (Take 1, Take 2, Take 3 Take 4). Be sure to follow the YouTube channel to see the full episode when it finally airs! Heck, you might learn a thing or two. The show is hosted by Jennifer Sneed and Keith Fritz (friend and fellow author K. Edwin Fritz).

Thanks for stopping by! 😀

8 Tips for Your Next Book Show


You don’t see the candy on the table (tip #6 ignored)! This is an old picture… lesson learned.

I’ll be at my first book show in ages on Sunday. The beach town of Belmar, NJ, will be the location of the Belmar BookCon; a celebration of self- and small-press-published authors. If you’re in the area (or know someone who will be), be sure to check it out.

Have you done in-person shows before? I’ve done several over the years and it can be hit or miss, depending on the turnout, but it’s always fun to chat with readers and fellow writers alike. For those of us with extrovert personalities, it can also be a bit of a release.

But, it’s not all about the author at these types of shows. It’s really about the books. I think the biggest mistake I see at these shows is not putting thought into your author space. I’ve even seen authors who showed up without books! This boggles my mind. You might be the best salesperson in the world, but nothing will intrigue a reader more than having your book in their hand. Cards and giveaways are nice, but what they’re really after is your book (hopefully). It’s a much easier sell if you have a product they can touch.

If you’re planning on doing a show, here’s a few tips:

1. Have a nice tablecloth. Most folding tables are pretty blah and the white ones don’t take long to get pretty filthy. Spice it up a bit with a classy clean white or black tablecloth. You’d be surprised what a difference this one item can make. Don’t get anything too loud, as you might be distracting from your product!

2. Pick up a couple of clear acrylic standing displays. You can print out pricing, reviews, or social media info to display right on your table. The idea is to make it easy for the reader to see what you’re all about.

3. Stagger your book piles (makes it look like you’ve already sold some) and leave some at the front of the table (easy access for the reader). The table should be inviting them to pick up your book and read the blurb on the back cover. You should also not hide behind your books. Don’t stack them so high that your smiling face can’t be seen.

4. Give readers some space. I’ve been told I’m too passive at shows. Well, that’s just me, so take this advice with a grain of salt. When I walk into a store, I hate it when a salesperson attacks me right away. I just want to look. If I have a question, I’ll ask. So, I always give potential readers the same space I want. A simple hello when they reach the table and then let them pick up a book or look them over. If they’re still in the space 30 seconds later, they must be a little interested, so I’ll throw out my one-liners. Speaking of which…

5. Prepare one-liners in advance! You should create a few book hook lines. Try out different ones. See which ones seem to work and which ones don’t, but be sure to have something you can say to readers in a concise manner. I’ve heard all sorts of lines. Some work better than others. It can be hard to come up with a single line that gets the point of your book across. And don’t mistake this for the elevator pitch. They are not the same. A one-liner is self-descriptive: a single line that describes your book. I used to say “A bit like Patterson with a touch of Dean Koontz” when describing Multiples. I’ve changed that up since, but it usually elicited a response. If they were interested, I would then go into the elevator pitch.

6. Have something to give away. A business card or a pen or a bookmark. The only requirement I have is that it has to have your (author) name on it! I’ve written in the past about getting author swag on the cheap. Don’t give away candy… unless they have custom wrappers. The point of a giveaway is to remind people of who you are. I’ve had folks come by, look at my books and say, I only buy on my Kindle anymore. Sure, you can reply by saying you’re available there, but a business card will let them know how to find you and your books (or at least it should).

7. Practice signing your name (especially if it’s a pen name!) and bring a pen! Believe it or not, I’ve known folks who forgot to bring a pen to an event. Readers want their book signed, even if you’re a nobody!

8. Lastly, remember that not everyone will be interested in your books. Shocker, right? Deep breath. It’ll be ok. Keep your expectations low. If you’re selling paperbacks, you’re probably asking for $10 or more per book. That’s asking a lot, especially for an author they more than likely know nothing about. Be a gracious host in your show space and leave readers feeling positive when they walk away, whether they purchased your book or not.

First show coming up? 100th show coming up? Post questions or share tips in the comments section and thanks for stopping by! 😀

Author Milestones

As indie authors, we tend to celebrate each milestone, no matter how insignificant it might seem to everyone else. Finishing our first novel. Publishing our first novel. Making our first sale. Making our first sale to a complete stranger. Once you’ve cleared those initial goals, the milestones tend to become a little more personal. Finishing book 2. Reaching X sales. Finishing your first series/trilogy. Some seem more daunting than others. And often, we look at other authors and think, “Jeez! They’re so far ahead of me!” It may be true, but you can only do what you are capable of. And half the trick is to just keep your head down and move forward.

I’ve been self published since 2011. I had one book (Multiples of Six by Andy Rane) for a very long time (June 2011 to December 2013) and even went a solid year where I sold only 36 copies (May of 2012 to May of 2013). Take it from me, having one book out (part of a supposed series no less!) will get you nowhere fast. But, over the years, sales came through various promotions and I crossed the 1000 paid sales mark in June of 2013. When I finally released that book’s sequel last December, I had high hopes of moving more books. Well, it’s been 9 months, a few more releases, and with a little… ok, a lot of help from a BookBub ad, I can say I’ve made some headway.

It’s important to set goals for yourself and celebrate when you reach them. You don’t have to throw a party. Just pat yourself on the back and recognize that you’ve accomplished something, whether it’s a daily writing goal or a yearly sales milestone. Share it among your friends, family, and interested colleagues. It’s not boasting. It’s about sharing the journey. It’s about letting others out there, who might be at the starting line, know that this is a path where even no-name authors (like myself) can find a level of success.

With the help of the recent ad, I crossed the 2750 paid sales mark (over 3 novels and 1 novella and two author names). Yay me! It might be a pittance to some, but I remember when it seemed an unthinkable goal. It’s not. If I can do it, so can you. Am I successful? I haven’t reached that point. The day I can sit back and watch my books sell themselves with little to no marketing necessary, then I’ll consider myself a success. But, I’m certainly pleased with where I now am. I look forward to writing more stories and sharing my continuing journey in this great adventure. I hope you all may find a level of success you can be proud of and celebrate in everything that you do.

Did you reach a milestone lately?! Share it in the comments! 😀


BookBub Postmortem


Now that the dust has settled from this week’s Multiples of Six (by Andy Rane) BookBub promotion, it’s time to look at some of the numbers, not only in terms of sales, but reviews and other intangibles.

Book Sales

Before this week, Multiples had languished around #400,000 in the Amazon store, with the occasional sale coming once or twice a month. Divisible had a little more consistency as past readers would discover it. But, it was still only 4 or 5 copies a month at best. On 9/1, Multiples went free (normally $3.49) and Divisible went on a Kindle Countdown sale at $1.99 (normally $2.99).

                            Multiples (KU/KOLL borrows)            Divisible (KU/KOLL borrows)
September 1      404                                                             9
September 2     47,294 (9)                                                409 (2)
September 3     9,044 (9)                                                   114 (13)
September 4     3,083 (15)                                                 78 (10)
September 5*   61 (18)                                                        37 (16)

5-day total        59,825 (51)                                                647 (41)

*Free ended early morning of September 5, so sales on this day were back to full price for Multiples.

Now, on top of this, I’d kind of forgotten about the audiobook for Multiples. The numbers haven’t fully caught up, but as of this writing, I added 143 audiobook sales as well. A pleasant side effect.

Divisible climbed as high as the upper #200s on Amazon on 9/2. It’s still hanging strong in the lower #1000s and is still in the top 15 of its sub-categories (Thriller/Assassinations, Spies & Politics/Assassinations, and Spies & Politics/Political). Multiples had a nice little boost of paid sales when it came off of free and I always expect half of those to be returned as I think someone clicked “Buy” thinking it was still free. But, it’s in the mid #2000s now and in the top 20 of its sub-categories (Thrillers/Assassinations, Spies & Politics/Assassinations, and Thrillers/Conspiracies). Hopefully, hanging around the top 25 of a few of the Thriller categories will help keep it going for a little while. We’ll see.


At the beginning of this little venture, Multiples had stood at 21 reviews, the last of which came 13 months ago. This, despite having given away thousands of copies in 2012. As I write this, I’ve added 10 reviews (8 five-star, 1 four-star, and 1 one-star). Even more special to me are the three new reviews for Divisible, which had been out for 9 months, sold ~100 copies, and had no reviews (2 five-star and 1 four-star).


Traffic to my website has certainly increased during the week. Lots of searches for this crazy Andy Rane guy and his writing. 😉 Also saw a bump in newsletter subscribers, which is nice. And, lastly, the big question has been about book 3 to close the trilogy out. Well, this rush has sparked the flames of that story once more and I’m going to start focusing my efforts on completing that novel.

In the end, this wasn’t just a boost in visibility, but a bit of a boost to my own ego. I have no delusions of being an amazing writer. I just want to tell entertaining stories. This was a reminder that, despite how I feel sometimes, I seem to be doing an ok job. 🙂

Thanks for the support and I hope my fellow indie authors find this information valuable!