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Topics - erikhanberg

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The Trailer:

<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

The Story:

Byron Shaw can track and find anyone on Earth. Except the people who tried to kill him.

By 2081, privacy no longer exists. The Lattice enables anyone to re-live any moment of your life. People can experience past and present events--or see into the mind of anyone, living or dead.

Most people love it. Some want to destroy it.

Colonel Byron Shaw has just saved the Lattice from the most dangerous attack in its history. Now he must find those responsible. But there's a question nobody's asking: does the Lattice deserve to be saved?

The answer may cost him his life.

The First Review:

"The Lead Cloak delivers an engaging story, an exciting plot, and an author to watch." -- Timothy Thomas McNeely, Post Defiance (

The Book:

Click the cover for the Kindle edition!

Writers' Cafe / Nerd alert! I charted my novel. Words vs Time.
« on: October 15, 2013, 10:10:58 am »
I don't know if anyone has done this, but I thought it was interesting. To keep me motivated and to keep track of how the book was growing, at the end of each day of writing, I recorded where I was. This is the chart of how that ended up.

It turned out to be a surprisingly good representation of not only the book, but of my life over the last two years.

Now that the book is out, I thought it would be fun to share this.

Here's the blog post that goes into more detail about the creation of the chart:

Writers' Cafe / My $152 Book Trailer
« on: September 24, 2013, 01:26:19 pm »
Starting this week, I'm going to be doing a big marketing push for a book that's will be pre-release only on Kobo and Apple until October 15. (and yes, yes, we've had the pre-release argument in another thread. I still want to try it).

But I thought a trailer might help get readers excited. After all, that's what gets people excited for movies before they come out. :)

I've done video editing before with iMovie, and I put this trailer together. It ended up, if I do say so myself, better than I thought it would. Especially considering it was done with free software, free Creative Commons licensed music, and just $152 worth of stock footage.

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Most of the stock footage I bought cost just five dollars each (including the dramatic opening shot of Earth from space) at Videohive.

If I'd just used footage from Videohive, the trailer would have been only $35 in video costs, but I ended up paying for a single expensive piece of stock from It was a toss-up whether I wanted to spend it, but I just couldn't find anything to replace it.

I was also happy that I was able to figure out how to get YouTube to let me set up a link on the trailer itself, so I'm hopeful that if it does get a lot of sharing, that the link will really help drive those pre-orders. We'll see!

Anyway, I wanted to share the trailer and just how cheaply I was able to do it.

Writers' Cafe / New Google Book Publishing Tool
« on: September 13, 2013, 10:23:18 am »
I got an email from Google that they have re-done their publishing experience to get into the Google Store. I haven't uploaded books there in ages, since the last publishing center was so terrible. But I might try it out now just to see how it is.

Anyone ever find any sales there? I know people reported difficulty with Google reducing the price and having it affect Amazon. Is that still a problem?

Text below:

Dear Google Books Partner,

Improving the publishing experience is a top priority for Google Books. The Partner Program has evolved over the last few years, so we decided to build a brand new Google Play Books Partner Center--a new tool that's faster and easier to use. Starting today, you'll be able to use the new interface to manage your titles across Google Books and Google Play.

Highlights of the new Partner Center include:

Speed: Pages load more quickly, regardless of the size of your book catalog.
Convenience: Add and remove additional users, and convert prices into foreign currencies directly from your account.
Simplicity: Both preview and sales settings for your books can now be found in the same place, whether in the interface or in spreadsheets. Manage your account more easily with updated navigation and search.
Control: View and edit book descriptions, subjects/categories, and other bibliographic information right within the interface. Remove titles from your account with a few clicks.
These changes and many more new features are available to you immediately. We've prepared an overview to help you discover all of the new features in your account and help you along the way:

To get started, visit Thank you for partnering with us to make your books available on Google Books. We're excited to provide an improved experience for you, and we hope you enjoy your new account interface.

It really annoys me to see the heirs to authors commissioning new works just so they can keep the money rolling in. Margaret Mitchell's estate published "Scarlett" to keep the characters copyrighted, even when Gone With the Wind enters public domain and now the estate of Agatha Christie has commissioned a new Poirot novel ... because in about 5 years Agatha's books are going to start entering the public domain.

It's depressing.

Current copyright is 70 years after the death of the author. Do any of you truly want your great-great-grandchildren to be profiting from your books? If my books were successful enough, I'd rather see them adapted into plays, movies, with lots of fan fiction. I guess what I mean is: I'd rather have written Sherlock Holmes, who has adapted a million times for people's enjoyment, than I would have Hercule Poirot, who is tightly controlled by the estate of his original author.

What do you think?

Writers' Cafe / In a world ...
« on: September 04, 2013, 03:48:30 pm »
Is starting a blurb for a sci-fi book with "In a world ..." just an absolutely no-go these days. Is it too common?

Considering there is now a moving called "In A World" about that, I wonder if it's too overdone.

At the same time, I like it...


Writers' Cafe / Cover feedback for a sci-fi book?
« on: August 29, 2013, 12:07:06 pm »
I'm getting close to finalizing my new cover. I thought I'd put it out there for KBers to give some feedback.

It's illustrated and a very different style than my others, but that's kind of the point I guess, since this is my first sci-fi book. I think the ink and paint illustration are pretty distinctive.

Thoughts? Appreciate any feedback!

I was surprised by the comments on the Smashwords pre-sales thread about how fast people publish after finishing their book. They didn't need pre-sales because they just published so fast anyway.

Generally, I think there's a lot of good marketing that can be done if you give 8 - 12 weeks between the time of completion and the time you publish (if we define completion as not only finished text but also a finished cover). Soliciting book blogger reviews, drumming up some local friendly press in an alternative newspaper, scheduling a Goodreads giveaway, maybe commissioning an audiobook, and more.

I wrote a post about it if anyone's interested:

Does anyone else find they can use that pre-launch time well?

Writers' Cafe / KDP revamp?
« on: June 21, 2013, 07:46:33 pm »
Looks to me like the KDP reports page got a revamp. Different spacing, different shadowing. The only additional functionality seems to be a search bar.

Anyone else seeing this? Anyone else seeing additional functionality I'm missing?

Writers' Cafe / 10,000 sales! With charts! Because I love charts.
« on: May 12, 2013, 12:57:24 pm »
Sometime yesterday I passed the 10,000 sales mark, thanks to an incredibly successful BookBub promotion for The Marinara Murders.

I can't tell you how over the moon I am about this. But I also though that I would share a little bit of the numbers behind it. I'm an Excel geek, so I have some charts and graphs to show you too.

I hope this is helpful to those who are just starting out.

My first chart is total revenue (note: revenue, not sales count), sorted by platform.

75% of it comes from Amazon, between Kindle, CreateSpace, and Audible. There's a one-time bump from StoryBundle, and then all the rest are just a few percent.

My next chart is of weekly sales of all my books (sales, not revenue), regardless of which platform.

"Week 1" was November 2011, when I started keeping track, and other than that, it pretty much speaks for itself. Modest sales, with three huge promotional spikes.

The first spike is March 2012, from the after-effects of a great KDP Select Free run (before Amazon's algorithm change, I'd point out, too).

The next big set of spikes is September and October 2012, when I had two mysteries on

And the last spike is BookBub.

I benefitted immensely from having my books out of KDP Select for BookBub. I've sold more than 1,000 on Nook, and while I don't have sales data from iTunes yet, I reached #24 in their paid store, so I expect there will be a lot there when Smashwords updates. I was glad to use KDP Select for awhile, but I don't think I'll be using it again in the near future.

The only other thing I would add about the chart is that that obviously the spikes are getting bigger when they happen, and I largely attribute that to having more and more titles. Each time, the rising tide of a single promotion has lifted all the others.

Percolating between the big spikes have been some good weeks and not-so-good weeks. That's when I've been glad to have my nonprofit books. Those two have been workhorses for me. I don't do a lot of marketing for them, and they sell modestly well. But at $9.99, I get some big cuts per sale, which means even in slow weeks for fiction sales, I have those as a constant and reliable base.

I've also benefited from putting one of them on Audible using ACX. Audiobooks account for a third of my sales of that book. I didn't cannibalize sales from Kindle either, but rather seem to have added them.

I'm going to get the audiobook of my other nonprofit guide recorded soon. And eventually I'll get all my books into audio form.

Not enough sales to become a full-time writer yet. But with 6 titles out now, and another due out in September, I am very hopeful that it's just a matter of time.

Writers' Cafe / blurb question: how much to share?
« on: March 15, 2013, 10:14:01 pm »
So my blurb for my crime novella "The Con Before Christmas" is intentionally very short right now, because I didn't want to give away too much of an already short book.

On the other hand, I feel like it hasn't done the job of really grabbing the reader.

I've explored a much longer blurb, but it takes the reader much further into the book. Like most of the first act. I wondered if anyone has had an experience where a reader bought the book and then complained that they knew too much from the blurb?

I'm pasting my improved blurb below, so comments welcome on that, too. But mostly about whether it gives away too much of an already short book.


Christmas is right around the corner and the unlikely mother/son crime-solving duo has a case that hits a bit too close to home.

In the bustle of the holiday season, Arthur Beautyman and his mother Ruth are out shopping when a long lost friend of Ruth’s mysteriously finds and returns Ruth’s wallet. Despite Ruth’s waning memory of the old friend, when the woman and her grown son reveal that they need a place to stay for a night, Ruth invites them into her home in the spirit of the season.

Ruth and Arthur wake up the next morning only to discover Ruth’s identity and entire life savings stolen. With the pair of con artists on the loose, the clock is ticking and the Beautymans need to act fast.

Through the challenges of their own relationship as mother and son and their combined efforts of wit, bravery and tech-savvy smarts, the unique team discover a web of betrayal, drama and crime that leads them into the dangerous territory of a destructive family feud.

This novella is approximately 22,000 words (roughly 90 pages).

He's got a good post up about it. Just an incredible achievement!

To get there, I just have to do what I've done already ... 166 more times  :-\

I've been reading all about Frank Herbert recently and his life story, which started in my hometown of Tacoma, Washington.

We had really bad pollution in the 50s, and it turns out that watching the smelter blow deadly arsenic into the air (Frank said the air "was so thick you could chew it") helped inspire the environmental message he wrote into Dune.

Interestingly, for all the love Tacoma shows its native sons (like glass artist Dale Chihuly), very few people I talked to knew Frank Herbert was from Tacoma. I set out to change that:

Even if you don't know Tacoma, you would probably enjoy the background on a great sci-fi writer.

Which reminds me ... I've got this sci-fi novel I'm trying to finish! If I could even have 1% of the influence and readers that Frank Herbert did, I would die a happy man :)

Writers' Cafe / Holiday discount pricing
« on: December 22, 2012, 07:05:48 am »
I'm thinking about reducing everything to $0.99 over the week between Christmas and New Year's--even the $9.99 nonprofit fundraising guide.

What do people think? Is that the week I should be keeping prices where they are ($1.99, $2.99, $3.99, and $9.99), since so many people will be buying? Or can I make things up in volume and poise myself for a great January?

Writers' Cafe / Bundling books in a series
« on: December 02, 2012, 09:21:09 am »
Now that I have three mysteries in the same series (2 novels and 1 novella) I'm considering bundling them.

A couple questions to those who have done it:

1) Does it matter that it's not a "trilogy" but rather just the first three books in an ongoing series?

2) Any thoughts on the cover? Obviously it should look like the rest of the series, but should it use elements from the other covers? Any good examples of bundled covers you could point me to?

2) And price. Total price of the three books is $8.97 ($1.99, $2.99, and $3.99). I'm thinking about $5.99, a 33% discount on price, so it's a slight savings if you bought the cheapest book already.

Thanks for any feedback or experience anyone has with this!

The Book Bazaar / "The Con Before Christmas" [A Novella]
« on: November 18, 2012, 11:17:39 pm »

Very excited to announce that my newest mystery, The Con Before Christmas, is coming out Wednesday, November 18.

The plot: "Her identity and her life savings stolen just before Christmas, Ruth Beautyman and her son Arthur must chase down the con artists who took everything."

It's in my mystery series, but it's not written where it has to be read in order.

Here's the link:

My fundraising guide for small nonprofits, The Little Book of Gold, finally went live on on Tuesday. With no marketing or announcement of it, in the 4 days I have sales for it, it's sold 17 copies. (Compared to 9 Kindle copies and 6 paperbacks sold all last week.)

While I was really hoping for good sales, I didn't expect it to outsell my other ones.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Is it a temporary bounce since it's new? Is it because it's instructional nonfiction? (I was happy to note that if you search nonprofits on Audible only 11 books come up, so in this case the narrow niche is working really well for me. That could be driving sales.)

I'm really encouraged but not sure if I want to take the plunge with fiction, since I'm not at all certain I can match these numbers. I'd love to hear from any fiction writers with audiobooks who want to chime in!

[sub question: if you use, and a member buys your book with credits, do you get the percentage based on the list price or some other lower sale price to reflect that?]

Writers' Cafe / Powell's is partnering with Kobo
« on: November 09, 2012, 05:52:17 pm »
Powell's, one of the best bookstores in the country (well, at least, my favorite bookstore in the county) and a must-visit to anyone going through Portland, is partnering with Kobo for ebooks.

I would say that's a pretty big coup for Kobo. Huge bookstore with a big online presence already. Will be interesting to see if that starts moving numbers for Kobo sales.

Writers' Cafe / Feedback for a Christmas Cover?
« on: November 08, 2012, 11:13:29 am »
Having never asked for cover feedback, I feel like this time I could really use it.

I'm coming out with a Christmas novella in my mystery series. I'd like it to look like it's part of the series, but also a little Christmas-y.

In my signature is "The Marinara Murders" the book this one directly comes after, so it's the primary model I'm following. Like The Marinara Murders, it's a mystery, but with a little family comedy (though less than The Marinara Murders).

Main questions:

1) Is this too violent? I've heard two people say that. No one loses their head (or dies in any other way, really) in the book, so I don't know if this is misleading. I do like it, but don't want to give the wrong impression.
2) Does it look like a book in the same series?

Thanks for any thoughts! Excited to hear the collected wisdom of the boards.

Writers' Cafe / Amazon's Whispersync for Voice launches today
« on: October 31, 2012, 09:17:40 am »
Since I'm getting my first audiobook into via, I've been watching this one.

The new service, for those who don't know, allows you to switch back and forth between your Kindle and the audiobook version of a book "seamlessly."

So you finish reading in bed, and then in the car on the way to work you listen to the book. You have to make an additional purchase of the "narration" after you buy the Kindle version. But it's less than the full audiobook.

Here's the details:

You have to apply to get your audiobook in, and it has to align with your Kindle version almost exactly. So I'll be interested to see if any indie authors get their books into this program. Anyone have an audiobook version they'd submit to give this a go?

Writers' Cafe / Christmas title choices! All feedback welcome.
« on: October 29, 2012, 03:05:03 pm »
I'm working on the title for the mystery novella I'm publishing next month. My detective hero and his mother are conned out of $30,000 and then have to try to get the money back. It's set on December 23 and 24, but Christmas is only a backdrop. So far my title thoughts are:

1. The Con Before Christmas
2. A Christmas Con
3. A Winter's Con
4. It's a Wonderful Con

I've gotten some differing reviews and wanted to open it up. I like 1, 3, and 4 the best I think. 3 & 4 are nice because I think they might sell a bit more outside the holiday season by not having Christmas in their title. But I am totally open for feedback. Thank you for any suggestions or feedback!

Writers' Cafe / Product names with trademarks
« on: October 25, 2012, 04:14:08 pm »
Would anyone here risk using a registered trademark in a title of their book? Like say ... "Cuisinart?"

It's Wikipedia page says that it is close to being considering a genericized trademark (like Q-tip, Kleenex, Google, etc)

The worst that could happen is a cease and desist letter, right?


Writers' Cafe / Is this a long short story or a short novella?
« on: October 22, 2012, 08:16:46 am »
I'm finishing edits on a 19,500 word piece that's in my mystery series. After a lot of consideration about whether I should expand it into a full-length novel, I've decided that I'm happy with the length. It's the right length for the story.

But now the dilemma: pricing and marketing. My two novels in the series are at $2.99 and $3.99.

Is this a $0.99 short story that delivers a lot of value?
Or is it a $1.99 novella, that's a little on the short side? Do regular readers even use the word novella?

Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

So here's something interesting I'd like to offer up to the collective wisdom of the KB crowd.

For three weeks my book was part of a bundle of mystery novels at Storybundle, where The Marinara Murders was bundled with 4 other books in a "name your own price" kind of deal. If you paid more than $7, you got 2 more books, and one of those bonus books was The Saints Go Dying.

The promotion ended Monday.

But here's the thing: right now, Amazon seems to know these books were bundled together ... even though this happened on a site entirely outside of the Amazon store.

The top 4 books on the "customers also bought" list for The Marinara Murders (after The Saints Go Dying) are the four books I was bundled with! Before the bundle, this list was mostly comprised of books that had been free at the same time my book was free, or otherwise were similar to mine in terms of genre. I'd never seen any of these titles in that list before now.

Furthermore, the other bonus book is on the "also bought" list, but is on a lower page, which would make sense because it was bought with The Marinara Murders slightly less frequently, since it was a bonus book. But! It's on the 1st page of The Saints Go Dying, which would also make sense, since they were both bonus books and thus bought equally often together (versus the main 5 books).

I have to conclude that somehow Amazon knew these books were bought together off their site.

My theories:

1) Amazon algorithms take into account public information from Goodreads, which might show people adding them to lists and shelves at the same time (something we did see).
2) Amazon algorithms might know the file names that people manually upload to their Kindle via a wired connection or email, and make the connection that way.
3) I used Amazon payments to pay for the bundle when I bought it as an experiment, and maybe therefore they know what was sold (I'll admit, this one seems very unlikely, since it's just a file download code, essentially).
4) Amazon algorithms are indexing the web and found our titles mentioned together on the site, and on blogs that featured StoryBundle.
5) Readers of the bundle are recommending the books to their friends, who are then in turn buying them together.
6) Some combination of the above.

I'm going to guess that it's some combination of 1, 4, and 5. 2 and 3 seem a little out there for me.

Anyone ever seen that before? I was really surprised to see it.

Writers' Cafe / Woot! First 5,000 sales!
« on: October 11, 2012, 12:50:40 pm »
It wasn't that long ago I was over the moon about my first 1,000 sales. But to hit 5,000 only a few months later has been a dream. I'm just blown away.

And I know I couldn't have done it without the KB forums, and seeing what's working and what's not for other authors. This resource has been incredible.

If you're interested: I increased from 1,000 sales to 5,000 in about six or seven months thanks to a series of promotions: a well-time 3-day free period for The Marinara Murders (right be for the algorithm changed in April--remember those days? sigh); a company that builds donor databases for nonprofits helped me promote my fundraising guide to their clients; a successful ENT bargain book promotion last month; and then being included in this month's bundle at

Next up on the marketing plan: getting some more books out there to keep it going!

But maybe today I'll just take it easy and go buy a bottle of champagne.

Here's my blog post about it all if you want to read more of me swooning :)

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