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Monday, April 30, 2012

Why would you buy it?

If you run into a salesman in a store, why would you buy the product  he is pushing? This is important in the book industry. Every author wants readers to buy their book. But every author has to consider that they have to convince buyers to hand over their money for that product.

The key to success is: the product must stand out. In today's world with many thousands of new books being published each year, your title melts into the sea of choices... unless YOU make it stand out.

Publishers do not effectively market books for untried and newer authors. It is up to you to meet your readers where they are at. Tell them why your product is different. But (and this is going to sound a bit contradictory) do not push your product. A good product merely needs to be introduced; the buyer will make that final decision. If they seem on-the-fence, invite them to open the book and read a portion.

Ask yourself: Why would you buy it if you were that customer?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finding fulfillment: how?

I think Sunday is the best day to discuss fulfillment. It is the day that most people head to church to re-center themselves around God and their spiritual condition.

Money, power, spiritual growth... In what do we find fulfillment? Or what should we find fulfilling?

As I look at my family, I have a wonderful wife and two young children. My little boy is a year-and-a-half and he is full of energy. He finds fulfillment in the simple things: looking at a book, listening to music, playing with his toys. I find my greatest fulfillment in seeing smiles on my wife's and kids' faces (my baby girl is very smiley!)

But I also find fulfillment in writing. Through writing I can express my heart. I can relieve it of its pain, rejoice in good times, etc. I can take readers on a spiritual journey that is part of everyday life. I want readers to learn through the fictional characters in my stories. I want them to consider: how they treat people, and whether they stand firm on their principles.

"This life is only a vapor. It will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last." -unknown source

I cannot remember where I heard that, but it is so terribly true.

Consider today: How do you find fulfillment?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why have I signed with an agent?

For the past couple years I have been following Chip MacGregor's blog. He is an agent in the CBA market of great reputation, and I have watched as his agency grows and expands with a carefully selected few: talented, enthusiastic, and energetic people. 

Back in 2006 when I first interested AMG Publishers in my The Sword of the Dragon series, I also acquired an agent. But after nine months that agent decided she wasn't going to do fantasy after all. Fortunately for me, I was already working with AMG toward a contract. Two years later the contract failed to happen, so I self-published and sold enough copies that AMG again looked into my books.

When AMG offered me the contract I considered looking for a literary agent because 1) they understand contract language and negotiation, and 2) I considered that future projects could be shopped to other publishing houses.

I decided not to 1) because I didn't want to give 15% of my royalties to an agent, and 2) I felt I had a good handle on what I wanted from AMG.

My first AMG novel has been out for over a year now, and I've found that I need someone in my corner with the publishing houses. Someone who can 1) connect my projects with publishers looking for them, 2) shop foreign and subsidiary rights, and 3) help guide my career so that I end up making a good living at what I do.

MacGregor Literary Agency added Amanda Luedeke to their roster and at a recent point she wrote a series of posts on Chip's blog. I found her refreshing, driven, and imaginative, and kept my eye on her progress from then on. 

Today I am pleased to announce that, after a lengthy phone conversation with Amanda, she is signing a contract with me as my agent. I am very excited about this. With all of the book touring I've done, the writing, and the editing, I can't take the time to attend enough writer's conferences or retail shows to make the contacts I need, and land good contracts. Amanda has those contacts and I thank God for this opportunity to work with a strong agency, and an agent who is keen on the very genres I love to write.

Here are a couple links for more info:

Friday, April 27, 2012

What do you see in the mirror?

Isn't it interesting how different we all are? Some of us can't stand the reflection in the mirror because they want to see someone else; the person they always dreamed they could be. Others calmly view their life as the success they are proud to have achieved. But some others make all of us feel sick because they are so absorbed by their wealth, power, and influence.

Look in the mirror. What do you see? The future of compassion and good will that will make God pleased with you? Or, do you see a stagnant individual whose only drives are making more money, buying more things, and living in more classy places?

Look in the mirror, because if you are an ordinary person with humility and determination, you can become an extraordinary individual. Look in the mirror, because if fame and fortune smile on your future, you will have to work at staying the person you are.

Look in the mirror. Fame and fortune deepen corruption, and they empower the wise.

Look in the mirror. What kind of a person do you want to see in there fifteen years from now?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who do you want to be?

Who do you want to be? Or maybe a more accurate phrasing of the question is: What do you want to be?

Each of us chooses a path in life that leads to successes and failures, and ultimate success or ultimate failure. Do you want to be an author? Then what is your message? Who are the people you want to reach?

I have known too many individuals who say they want to be something great, but they let failures shape them instead of their successes. Be a winner! Fall when you must, but always get back to your feet and try again until you succeed. When I started writing I determined that I would not fail. I would succeed in spite of the odds; in fact, even use them to drive me to greater success. When people told me I couldn't do it because so few writers get published, I let their words fuel my drive to prove them wrong.

So who are you? The next phenom, or the next common person with uncommon dreams that will let those dreams slip away?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Home again... and making plans!

The tour is now over. I am tired but I feel great! Nothing compares to working my dream job. I met new fans and drove over 6,000-miles in the process. Yep, that was a lot of driving, but I sold over 300 books.

Now, you might ask, what comes next? Firstly, I am looking for an hourly job so that over the summer I can clear away some debt. And then, as soon as I am financially able, my wife and I will shop for an appropriate RV. That's right; I am going to be on the road, touring, almost non-stop. I will have an author's dream flexibility. I can bring my family and home with me wherever I go. Surely this will have its share of challenges, but what in life doesn't? And at least I will be doing what I love to do. My hope is to hit the east coast down to Florida and then head westward toward California. Oh what adventures lie in store!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tour nearing its end

Since starting this book tour, I have driven over 5,000-miles. Over 300 books have sold, and I've spoken to hundreds of middle school students. New fans have been reached, and I have seen some wonderful new places.

When returning through Kansas I was supposed to have a signing at a Barnes & Noble in Wichita, but that was canceled last minute. Evidently the city was struck by tornadoes that very day I was supposed to be signing there. But I did have a signing at Barnes & Noble in Columbia, Missouri. I sold about 25 books in 3-1/2 hours.

I am back in Kentucky now. In the last few days I've visited two middle schools. I have one more school tomorrow, then I'm off to West Virginia. On Saturday I have one more event (Barnes & Noble) before driving home.

Being away from my wife and kids this long has proved very difficult. I have decided not to do this again. My plan is to buy a quality used RV this Fall, so that my wife and I can travel non-stop around the country. We can visit places we've wanted to see, and I can hold book signing events that will continually grow my readership. My plan is to haul my car behind the RV. That way we can park at camp grounds and have the use of the smaller transportation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Colorado Tour

I spent yesterday and today visiting Mountain Ridge Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Pike's Peak rises in the distance and is visible from all the rear-facing windows, making for a scenic educational site.
This school was wonderful to visit as the staff and students are very courteous. They have a lot of readers; in particular readers of YA fantasy! Yesterday I only sold a few books, but today I signed 32!

Yesterday I drove through the Valley Of The Gods. There are such stark contrasts in the terrain out here. It is like visiting a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Some of the photos turned out better than others and I've posted a few of them below.

Friday, April 6, 2012

From Kansas to Pike's Peak!

A fourteen-hour drive yesterday brought me to Colorado. I'm staying with friends in sight of Pike's Peak. I love the smell of mountain air!

These first two picture were taken on the highway in Kansas
Then I drove into Colorado and glimpsed the mountains in the distance. It is unbelievable how flat everything was up until I reached the mountains. Check out the picture below that I took of Pike's Peak from the deck:
If you live in the Colorado Springs area, meet me at 4 o'clock for a book signing at Barnes & Noble (Citadel location).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rockwood South Middle School presentation

I had a great time today at this middle school. I spoke to around 300 students and they responded very enthusiastically.
They held a drawing to give away five copies of my first novel. I drew the names out of a box... which was a lot of fun!
Tomorrow I am signing at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Fenton MO. The trip is going well so far. I do want to step up the number of books selling, but praise God I have the opportunity to do what I love!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I got shot!

I arrived in Missouri just in time to get in for a quick acting stint... When I say quick... I mean a very SHORT stint. But if you like seeing authors getting shot, like this video.


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.