Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kindle for the Web

Saturday, August 14, 2010

AmazonEncore, Part Four

Hello everyone,

Sorry about the delay in continuing the AmazonEncore thread.  We had a whole bunch of stuff going on, some of which was good and some of which wasn't, but things have settled down and everything's getting back to normal here at Infinite Space central.

And now, back to our topic.  AmazonEncore and how A King of Infinite Space was made it into their initial lineup of publications.

After the frenzy of online activity that came with the World Parade Release and the subsequent Amazon push, I settled into a more sedate and manageable routine.  I maintained the AKoIS Facebook group, blogged on a weekly basis, and arranged as many signings, readings, and other book related events as I could manage.  This kept a fair amount of traffic on the book's Amazon page, and the sales settled down to steady and satisfactory (by small press standars) pace.  In this phase of the process, one of the most important things I was able to do was to develop a solid number of favorable reader reviews.  This turned out to be instrumental in the next stage of the process.

A few months after the book's release on Amazon, while I was trying to maintain the book's momentum, I heard that Amazon was going to start its own publishing imprint, and that a significant portion of its new titles would be selected from among the independent and small press titles using Amazon's Print-On-Demand services.  Sales and reviews would have a significant influence in the selection process. 

Immediately I began to think about ways to increase the book's performance.  I planned another Amazon push, and began writing a posting for the blog and Facebook group to urge readers to write more reviews.  While I was working on this, though, Paul Tayyar called me and told me AmazonEncore wanted to pick up A King of Infinite Space.  I couldn't believe the news.  Just as was developing strategies to attract Amazon's attention, I discovered that I already had.

AmazonEncore has been terrific to work with, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of their lineup of authors.  They do a great job of combining traditional publishing with new digital technologies.   I'm very pleased with the trade paperback version of A King of Infinite Space, and who better to partner with in terms of e-publishing than the people who invented the Kindle?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

AmazonEncore, Part Three

Knowing that World Parade Books was a very small press, I was aware that I would need to do most of the marketing of the book myself.  I did a bit of research, and I learned quickly that my best bet for attracting an audience for the book would be to focus most of my attention on online social networking.

World Parade produced an initial print of a few hundred copies, and decided that for subsequent demands, it would use Amazon's print-on-demand services.  This would allow them to place the book much more easily on Amazon's website and offer a number of other advantages and would prove to be instrumental in our later deal with AmazonEncore.

Because I knew that most of our sales would be coming through Amazon's website, I focused my attention on sending potential buyers in that direction.  I used Facebook extensively, and other websites such as Goodreads to a smaller degree, to promote AKoIS.  I was very concerned about my profiles becoming nothing but advertisement, so I made a very concerted effort to post the same kinds of material as I was posting before beginning to promote the book, and to be sure that the majority of postings that I made were actually about things other than the book.  Still, though, I did post quite a bit about AKoIS.  I tried to use humor and a very self-aware approach to plugging the book.  Based on feedback, most of my online network seemed to appreciate this, and the self-deprecating tone I tried to maintain in regard to what I often referred to as "shameless self-promotion" softened the salesmanship to a degree that I believe was very effective.

One of the key strategies I used in the marketing of AKoIS was what's often called an "Amazon push" or an "Amazon bomb."  This is an organized event in which you gather as many buyers as you can to purchase a particular item on Amazon within a given time frame, usually on a particular day.  The push I organized for AKoIS was a success and drove the sales rankings very high.

In addition to the push, I organized a Facebook group.  I chose to do a group rather than a fan page because I felt more comfortable asking people to join a group than I did asking them to become my fans.  The distinction is not large, but to me it's significant.  If I'm in a group with people who like the book, it's a different dynamic than if I am the subject of fan page.  The idea of being a member of the group rather than it's only focus is largely semantic, but it's a big part of the relationship I tried to establish with as many readers and other authors as I could.

To be continued . . .

Friday, July 23, 2010

AmazonEncore, Part Two

So I had more or less exhausted all the options available to me at the time.  What happened then?  An incredibly lucky break.

I had been teaching English at California State University, Long Beach, for a few years. My office mate at the time, who also happened to be a poet, had just completed his PhD in Literature.  After gaining some experience in publishing his own work with small presses, he decided to start his own.  World Parade Books, founded by Paul Tayyar as a specialty poetry press, took off very quickly.   So quickly, in fact, that only about a year after releasing his first titles, Paul decided he wanted to branch out and publish fiction.  I had no idea of his plans, though, until one day he looked up from his desk, turned to face me, and said, "Hey, you have a novel manuscript, don't you?"

I did indeed.

A few weeks later he told me he wanted A KING OF INFINITE SPACE to be the first novel published by World Parade.  I was, of course, thrilled.

There's something I find very hopeful about that experience, but something a bit troubling as well.  At the end of the day, after I'd done everything I was supposed to do (written the best book I could, followed all the advice, landed an agent, etc.), I had still failed.  My success only came because I knew someone.  Because I had a connection.   I don't, however, feel as bad about that as I once did.

Of all the changes in publishing that are being talked about today, the most important, at least from my perspective, is the increased ability of writers to make connections with people who can have a significant impact on our ability to find a readership for our work.

And while my connection with Paul came about the old fashioned way, many of the subsequent connections that made the success of AKoIS possible were the direct result of online social networking.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

AmazonEncore

Hey everybody,

I've had great big bunches of people ask me about AmazonEncore and all the ins and outs of who they are and what they're doing.

To start off, though, I want to tell you a bit about the history of A KING OF INFINITE SPACE.  I started writing AKoIS quite a while ago when I was in the MFA program in fiction writing at California State University, Long Beach.  The first third of the book was my thesis project.  After I graduated, I spent about two more years working on the manuscript.  When I finally had a draft of the completed novel I was reasonably happy with, I pursued the traditional avenues of publication.  With  THE NOVEL AND SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET in hand, I drafted a query letter, researched agents, and went on a submission spree.  It took a bit of leg work and a lot of postage, but Maria Carvainis agreed to represent the novel.  With her help, and with the help of the amazing Moira Sullivan, I undertook a set of revisions that improved the novel immensely and produced a version very close to the book that's now available.

Maria submitted the book many, many times, and received many, many rejections.  Ultimately, there were no takers.  She even told me that AKoIS was the best book that she had represented that she couldn't sell.  She shared many of the publisher's responses with me and they were very positive in their remarks about the writing, but for one reason or another, it didn't meet anyone's needs.  When she had exhausted all the avenues open to her, Maria regrettably let the book go.

Without an agent representing the book, my options were now more limited.  I took another pass at the manuscript and did some minor polishing, but ultimately there was nothing to do--it was the book I wanted it to be.  I submitted the book a few times on my own to a small house that took unsolicited submissions, but had no luck.

I didn't want to give up on the book, but I didn't know what other choices there were.

To be continued . . .

Monday, July 12, 2010

Big News

Hey Everybody!

A King of Infinite SpaceMore good news from Amazon.  After a post last week on the official Kindle blog, the Kindle edition of AKoIS has been posting some very impressive numbers.  The new high point is #64 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary.  That means AKoIS was #53 in among ALL of the contemporary fiction on Amazon!

Wow.  I'm probably sounding like a broken record at this point, but thank you all very much.  This wouldn't be happening without all of you loyal and true Infinite Spacers out there.  You rock.

A few people have asked what they can do to help keep the momentum going.  The most helpful thing you can do, if you haven't already done it, is to go to the AKoIS Amazon page and write a review.  A little review has a big impact and will help keep the ball rolling.

Later this week, I'll be posting about the whole AmazonEncore experience.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two More Big Days

So there was so much demand for  A KING OF INFINITE SPACE that Amazon crashed!  I shit you not, the store at Amazon was closed due to technical difficulties for several hours yesterday.  When was the last time you visited Amazon and couldn't buy a book?  Of course, they aren't saying it was AKoIS that caused the problems, but what else could it possibly have been?  If you're reading this, then of course you know the amazing powers Infinite Spacers possess to rock the world.  Remember our Amazon bomb last year?  So even if the big A doesn't want to admit what really happened, we all know the truth.

A King of Infinite SpaceBut that was yesterday.  Today everything was back online and going full steam ahead.  The book's been climbing in the sales rankings all day and as of eight o'clock it was at #54 on the Police Procedurals bestseller list!  Thank you, Infinite Spacers!  You have made AKoIS a best seller!  You guys seriously rock.  Seriously.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Big Day

A King of Infinite SpaceHello Infinite Spacers!

Today is the day.  A KING OF INFINITE SPACE is now available!  Head on over to Amazon to check it out.  And be sure to ask about in your local bookstore.  I know a lot of you bought the World Parade edition.  That's actually what got Amazon interested.  I can't thank you enough for that.  Could you do me one more solid now and help spread the word?

I'm going to keep this post brief, because it's been almost two minutes since I've checked my Amazon Sales Ranking.  Talk to you soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One Day Left!

A King of Infinite SpaceJust one more day until the big re-release of  A KING OF INFINITE SPACE.  I gotta say, I'm bit nervous.  The feeling like I'm I playing in a whole new league is pretty strong.  Sports metaphors have never ben my strong suit, but I feel like I'm walking up to the plate and the first pitch is going to be coming my way before I know it.  I've been preparing.  Working on the website, getting the soundtrack contest rolling, trying to put together a few readings, even working a bit on the next Danny Beckett book.  What else is there to do?  Amazon is doing a lot.  And I have to say I'm impressed by the good folks there.  They really seem to know what they're doing.  I'm warming up and getting ready to swing.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Contest!

Hey everybody,

The first ever "Win an Autographed copy of A KING OF INFINITE SPACE Contest" is now up and running.  Head on over to AKoIS Facebook Group for details about how to enter.  

Good luck, everyone!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

There's Yer Problem

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestSo I'm still plugging away at Stieg Larsson's THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST.  It's not getting any better, but I think I've figured the biggest problem with the book, and with the "Millennium Trilogy" itself.  Each book in the series assumes that the reader has somehow gotten stupider since the last installment.  THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is written in such a way that a person with a normal level of intelligence will be able to understand it.  THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE seems to be aimed at average high school dropouts, while HORNET'S NEST is clearly aimed utter morons.  Lest you think I'm exaggerating,  here's an actual line from the book: "six feet tall and weighed 150 pounds, which meant that he was thin and wiry."  Am I overreacting?  Call me on it if I am.  But I honestly feel a little bit insulted.  
I think I'm going to keep reading, though.  I'm learning a lot.  I haven't read a book that was genuinely horribly written for a long time.  And I'm wondering if he can Lisbeth Salander intriguing again.  We'll see.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More on the Amazon Essay


The brilliant folks at Amazon have selected the second essay I posted below to include on my book page.  I think they're banking on the marketing power of cuteness.  They asked for the photo to go along with it, so I scanned it, and now I'm posting it just about anyplace I can get away with.  People like the tie, but in my opinion, it's the plaid pants that make the ensemble work.  I gotta give myself some props, though.  Even at four years old I knew all the cool detectives had shoulder holsters.

By the way,  I'm hoping someone out there will stop me from milking this too much.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Polished Turd

I made the mistake of following up the extremely well-written THE PASSAGE with THE GIRLS WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST. It's too soon to render a final judgment, but at this point I'm seriously thinking about abandoning the book altogether. Not only is the book witholding the only character I care anything about, Lisbeth Salander, but it's not even giving me much Mary Sue Blomqvist. Only a whole passel of indistinguishable thugs and cops who serve merely to spout exposition and do incredibly stupid things like refer to a Colt 1911 Government Model as a revolver. And the book has a really irritating chrome dust jacket that keeps reminding of the time the Mythbusters proved you actually can polish a turd. Should I hang it up?

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Team Babcock

The Passage

I finished reading Justin Cronin's THE PASSAGE over the weekend. It's a very impressive piece of work, and one that's very engaging and absorbing. For the first time in recent memory, I actually stayed up (very) late to read. I honestly can't remember the last time I traded sleep for a book.

At the risk of hyperbole, I'm going out on a limb and saying THE PASSAGE is my new favorite postapocalyptic novel, right up there with (and maybe even topping) both THE ROAD and THE STAND. Maybe it's the zesty new freshness, or maybe it's just because this book has the potential to reclaim the contemporary vampire from all of the glimmery romantic TWILIGHT angst and reclaim his true and rightful monstrosity.

My one big regret--the novel's the first in a trilogy and according to Cronin's interview on Amazon, we have to wait two years for the next one. Dang.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Amazon Essay

So the wonderful folks over at AmazonEncore have asked me to write a short essay that has something to with AKoIS. I couldn't decide what to do, but I took a couple of shots at it.

Essay 1

I don’t like to admit it, but I used to be a literary snob. As I prepared to enter graduate school for a master’s degree in English, I believed I’d put genre fiction--mysteries, science fiction, the whole lot of it--behind me. Literature with a capital L, that was the stuff for me. But when I happened upon a review of James Lee Burke’s novel In the Electric with Confederate Dead, everything changed. The article piqued my interest and when I headed down to my local Bookstar (remember them?) I sought out the book. It only took a few paragraphs to turn me into a convert. I tore through the rest of Burke’s novels, moved on to Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder series, began to discover the hardboiled classics and haven’t looked back since.

What I discovered that summer was that I had been wrong about genre writing. James Lee Burke and those other extraordinary writers I discovered that summer showed me that mysteries could be every bit as literary as any other kind of novel. In grad school I even discovered a considerable body of literary criticism on Hammett and Chandler that helped me to reconcile the conflict between my affections for literary and genre fiction. The two categories, I was thrilled to discover, were not mutually exclusive (no matter how strongly many of my professors argued that they were). From Burke’s lyrically elegiac descriptions to Chandler’s searingly vivid depictions of Los Angeles, there is no arguing the literary merit of the best of the mystery genre.

As I was studying literature, I was also beginning to take my own fiction writing more seriously. I dabbled in short fiction in the Raymond Carver mode for a surprisingly long while before it occurred to me to try my hand at mysteries. But when I did, I never looked back.

When I’m asked about the beginnings of *A King of Infinite Space*, I can’t help but think about the review that sent me out in search in James Lee Burke and the discoveries that followed. Would I have ever come across them without it? I don’t the answer to that question. I probably would have, but I’m glad I don’t have to find out.


Essay 2

When I began writing *A King of Infinite Space*, I was in graduate school earning an MFA in fiction writing. As is the case in many such programs, there was a good deal of autobiographical introspection in the writing going on around me, and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to do something different. One of the primary reasons I’ve always loved reading is that it takes me away from myself and allows me to experience the lives of other people. What, I asked myself, could I credibly write about that was very different from my own experience?

My father was a Los Angeles deputy sheriff, and throughout most of my youth, I wanted to be a police officer. Although my career goals changed, I was left with a considerable amount of background knowledge that I felt I could put to good use. And it didn’t hurt that my favorite writers included the likes of James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly. It was settled, I thought. I’ll write a police procedural--I know enough about it (with a fair amount of research thrown in) to sound authoritative about it, and what could be farther from an English grad student’s personal experience than a story about investigating homicides?

I did decide to allow myself one autobiographical detail. My father died when I was very young, and I decided to have Danny Beckett, the novel’s protagonist share this experience. It would, I thought, give the two of us a bit of common ground and help me relate to the character.

As the writing and rewriting progressed, I felt a reassuring sense of distance from Danny, a sort of critical perspective that thought allowed me to shape and hone the character with a studied and intellectual reserve that seemed properly authorial and intellectual.

So it came as quite a surprise when the novel was finished and my friends and family began to read it. Danny sounds just like you, they said. I refused to accept this, so I interrogated them. One by one they pointed out details and ideas and jokes and phrases that they’d heard me express, usually more than once. And a few of those closest to me commented on the similarity of our voices and perspectives. Eventually, I had to admit it. They were right.

It was only recently, though, when I had the occasion to look through an old family photo album and saw a picture of myself at five or six years old, around the time of my father’s death. In it I wore a clip-on tie, a makeshift shoulder holster complete with cap gun, and an expression befitting the most serious of detectives. It was me I was looking at, but I couldn’t help thinking it might just as well have been Danny Beckett.


Any thoughts?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I've always thought Declan was a cool name

Do you know the work of Irish crime novelist Declan Burke? You should, and not just because he has one of the coolest first names ever and the very same last name as his holiness, and not just because he's a damn good writer, but because he's got a brand spanking new Q&A up with yours truly over at his terrific blog, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS. Let's all go check it out, shall we?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Baby, we're back!

Hello Infinite Spacers!

After a lengthy absence, for which we heartily apologize, we are back with big news! The new edition of AKOIS from AmazonEncore is just around the corner! You can pre-order it now, or wait a week and and half until the the official release date, June 29!

There's gonna be a whole bunch of hoopla, both online and at various locations around Southern California. Keep watching here or over in the official AKoIS Facebook group for more details.

Also, this blog is in the process of transforming itself in to the new and improved tylerdilts.com. So keep an eye out for shiny new design and content.

Talk to you soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thank You

A big fat Thank You to everyone who made it out to Borders in Long Beach for the reading tonight. Saw quite a few familiar faces, and I just have to give a few special shouts out to Jim and Sonay, both of whom I haven't seen in far too long a time. And one more for Brianna who really impressed my mom.

And I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything, but doesn't Borders usually provide a table to sit at for the signing portion of the evening? I felt kind of funny signing books standing up. And I know I'm really pushing it here, but isn't bad form to do a big announcement on the PA system while an author is reading? Okay, that's it for the downside. Everything else was really cool, and the guys who worked there were really terrific. And it felt really good to be the guy reading instead of the guy watching somebody else read in one of my favorite bookstores.

So one more time, thanks to everyone who made tonight a success! Next stop--the AKoIS Buying Event on July 1! I'll see everybody at high noon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Deposition

So like a year and a half ago, me and Dave and the rest of us were walking around Naples Island and just as we were coming back around to Second Street. A Toyota Prius clipped the rear end of a Ford Escape and the Escape flipped over onto it's roof and slid about a hundred feet. The Prius took off. A Hit-and-Run. Apparently everybody was okay. I was the only good citizen on the scene, though, the only one who gave my contact info to the responding officer.

Hence, today's deposition. Gotta go up to LA and talk about it. I'm worried because I don't even remember what I saw yesterday, let alone a year and a half ago. There's no way I can wind up in jail over this thing is there? Wish me luck!