Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book review--Contagious (Jonah Berger)

As most of the readers of my blog know, as do my Facebook friends, I spend a lot of time sharing pictures of cats and links to articles that make me generally annoyed. (I like the cat pictures--it is the articles that annoy me--in fact, I LOVE cat pictures.) And being a writer, I am generally curious about why certain articles and trends light up the internet.

Contagious--Why Things Catch On (by Jonah Berger) is one attempt to explain why certain things on the internet and elsewhere go viral. It is not the only attempt that I have encountered, but it is the first that I have read by an actual Ph.D. who has conducted research on the subject.

Berger starts off the book with the story of Barclay Prime's hundred-dollar cheesesteak (the brainchild of Howard Wein), something that I never heard of before. Yes, I said, hundred-dollar cheesesteak. Exactly the type of item that I would have been curious about when I was still in the restaurant business...and let's be honest, I am still curious about such things. Berger hooked me with an interesting story, and kept me interested though-out the rest of the book.

I learned a lot about marketing from this book. I am not sure if I can make any of it work for me; let's be honest, I am not great when it comes to marketing (an advertising major, I am not). On the other hand, the book does give me hope that a certain project that I am involved in (yes, the farting monkey project) might have viral potential.

I give this book five stars. And I am keeping the book for my own personal library.

[Disclosure: The book used for this review was given to me by the good people at Simon & Schuster, a result of a GoodReads First Reads contest that I entered--thank you Simon & Schuster and Professor Jonah Berger of the University of Pennsylvania.]

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why I do not advertise certain books

Here is an ebook that I actually advertise.
Last week was the annual ebook sale promotion on Smashwords. I had a few ebooks on sale during the promotion (some that I admit to writing; some under a different pen-name). The results were as expected--personally, I always have trouble moving stuff on Smashwords...I think that it is the website itself, and not my writing that makes my sales slow there.

Now, one of the comments I got on Facebook was from someone that did not know that I wrote a version of the Golden Dawn Neophyte (0=0) ritual that required only three officers to perform--which brings up the whole question of why I do not advertise that ebook more.

To understand that, one needs to know the history of the ebook in question. The three officer version was something that I wrote for Bast Temple, the Denver GD lodge that I belong to. It was written because we could only gather four members initially--it was either do a revised version of the Neophyte ritual or not practice the ritual at all. (The person in the hot seat, having performed Neophyte rituals as the sole officer, wanted to spread the work around.)

Later, the ritual was later published on Lulu in a hard cover edition. It was probably over-priced. At a certain point, Lulu removed it from publication because their page count requirements had changed for hard cover printing--it became 46 pages too short under the revised rules (it might be even more than that now...I haven't chacked page count requirements lately for that outlet).

So the ritual spent sometime out of print...until last year when I decided to put it up on Smashwords as an ebook. It is probably still over-priced. Abd it is only available on Smashwords at the moment.

Why? Because I actually intend to write the additional pages to get it back up on Lulu. And the same pages are going to be in the Smashwords edition also. So I have not done all the steps necessary to get it into the Smashwords Premium Catalog (which is how you get an ebook on Smashwords though to Apple and Barnes&Noble.)

Part of the reason for the delay was that I needed to finish off my college classes. Another part is projects with a higher priority number. And the final part is that I am not completely sure what I want to add to the book yet.

And considering that I have been told by some initiates of the Golden Dawn tradition that it is not needed...well, it is understandable that I do not advertise it that much. I might not advertise it that much when it is finally complete.

For those who have brought a copy though Smashwords, the important part to remember is that as soon as I add the pages and upload it to Smashwords, you get to go and download the latest version--therefore, if you own an ebook copy of the current, you also own a copy of the future improved edition.

As for books that are available on Barnes&Noble, one of the ebooks that I do advertise is Pizza Boxes on the Floor, which contains an article that I am going to be revisiting during the June Open Full Moon ritual. I think I do so, merely because my cat likes to have his picture on the cover. I am strange like that.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Did you see that there was a coupon? (humor)

Last night, I enrolled some ebooks in the annual Smashwords site-wide spring sales promotion. Basically, the promotion generates a coupon code that shows up on the view pages of the books that are enrolled in the promotion.

Besides the three ebooks that I openly admitted to writing and/or working on, several of my erotica stories (by pen-names I do not admit to using, except to the IRS) are enrolled.

So I was surprised this morning to see that some customers on Smashwords were still not using the coupon code for the enrolled stories. Not that I am complaining. I am merely saying that I didn't think that the coupon code was that hard to see. I will take the money (need or basic greed, take your pick), but still I feel some twinge of guilt that some of my readers paid full price for something that was on sale.

The only thing that I can think of that makes any sense out of it is that they must be elected government officials trying to stimulating my personal economy. Trust me, the money is going directly to feeding my cats which creates lots of jobs.

I thank you for not using the coupon code. My cats thank you. America thanks you.

Smashwords Read an Ebbok Week 2013

Yes, I am involved in the creation of this ebook.
It is "Read an Ebook Week" until March 9th 2013 on Smashwords.

This time around, I have three ebooks discounted during the annual Smashwords promotion.

Five Reasons Why Magic Fails is 50% off (promotion price $1.50--normally $2.99).

Golden Dawn Rituals--Volume One--Neophyte Ritual (0=0) Three Officer Version is 75% off (promotion price $1.50--normally $5.99).

And the first volume of the pagan/Wiccan friendly children series that I am doing the covers for, Meet Turtle Monkey is 50% off (promotion price $1.50--normally $2.99).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Book Review: Submerged (Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

As most of my regular readers know, I am a writer. What they might not know is that writers have a tendency to dissect books that they read; it is part of our search as professional readers (because you have to be a reader to be a writer) to find the perfect formula for writing the perfect book.  Not so thay we can copy that book, but so that we can write the perfect book that lays within ourselves.

Towards this quest to find the perfect book within ourselves, we tend to collect books that we consider examples of a perfect book written by someone else. Tonight, I am adding another book to my small collection of perfect books.

Submerged (by Cheryl Kaye Tardif) is an good example of a perfect book. The cover is perfect for the story that it advertises. The pacing is perfect with just the right amount of new information being given, and new questions being placed in play. The chapters are the right size--just big enough to satisfy, yet short enough that one is tempted to read just one more chapter...and then another. The symbolism used supports both the plot and the characters. Submerged is a good example of a perfect book.

(I wish that I was as good of a writer as Cheryl is.)

My only concern with it is that some of the culture references might age quickly, and I am not sure if that can be helped given the speed that our culture changes at.

Submerged is a hard book to put into a category. It is about half romance, half suspense, and a quarter supernatural (yes, math is not my friend); it also a tale of addiction, fall, and redemption. I quite enjoyed reading it.

If you didn't already guess, I am giving this book five stars and two big thumbs up. This book is going to be enjoyed by both regular readers and those picky writers.

Submerged is available on Amazon.

[Disclosure notice: This review is based on a pdf that the author provided me. As for the Amazon link, it is just a regular link because I live in Colorado, therefore I can't be an Amazon Associate.]