Friday, July 31, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 48 -- Fiction Friday -- A former Defense Secretary writes...

I was perusing novel covers the other day, just trying to get some ideas about how I wanted to rebrand the J.J. McCall series when I ran across this book by William Cohen.

Now I'm no stranger to NON-FICTION written about or centered on the Pentagon. FIASCO by Thomas Ricks is one of my favorites, particularly given the subject matter and my knowledge of some of the behind the scenes machinations there *wink wink nudge nudge*.

But I had NO idea a former Defense Secretary actually wrote fictional political thrillers.

I know, right?

I was shocked when I saw this.

Now, for those of you who have read my books, I really try write and center my stories on reality. They really reflect what goes on behind some of the scenes in the FBI and at headquarters. Cohen seems to have veered off that trail just a bit.

Former Secretary of State William S. Cohen provides a Washington insider point of view in this new political thriller, Collision.
Sean Falcone, former National Security Adviser to the president of the United States, attacks a gunman during a mass killing at an elite Washington law firm. A second shooter flees with a laptop containing vital information about an asteroid being mined by an American billionaire and his secret Russian partner. The incident plunges Falcone into a Washington mystery involving the White House, NASA, corrupt Senators, an international crime lord . . . and the possible destruction of all humankind.

When I ready the back-cover blurb for Cohen's book, I had a slight *eye roll* moment BUT I'm still intrigued enough to read it...someday. 

I'd love to interview him and find out whether because of his position he felt the needed a more outlandish premise, which I totally understand because I felt the same way writing book 1. And then I got over it. Perhaps he hasn't yet. 

That still will not stop me from reading this at some point in the near future. I'll let you know how I like it. 

Friend me on Facebook: 
Follow me on Twitter:  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 47 -- Craft Talk Thursday -- Just Write

Still on a two-day hiatus because I'm living in 9-to-5 hell. So here's another piece of inspiration!!

Keep writing. Fiction Friday tomorrow....and have I got an interesting selection for you!!

Follow me on Twitter: 
Like me on Facebook: 

SD SKYE's Hell or High Water 365-day Blog-athon Day 46 -- Writer's Manifesto

Enjoying a day of leisure! Enjoy this inspiration! (Shared from Writer's Write)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon -- Day 44 -- Ad Talk Tuesday -- Free book promotion tips

Marketing -- Free Book Giveaways

So, here's what happened. 
I developed a marketing plan  and just released my latest romance novel. Because I haven't written in this genre in three years I fully knew underst
ood that I was basically starting over from the beginning. My audiences for my romances vs spy thrillers are very different. So, I was treating the marketing for this book exactly like I did with my first.

A lot really depends on FIRST getting reviews. And then once you get a few solid reviews and promote those reviews, more readers come, book promotions are more effective so you can do more promotions, etc. 

With that said, I do have two pretty good books in the genre, but I wasn't going to really do anything with them until this happened...

I just happened to check the book that is still listed with Simon & Schuster (my second book) and on the day I released my romance, they lowered the cost of that book from $10+ to 1.99. I was so elated! Part of the reason I haven't even attempted to traditionally publish is because I believe the book prices for MY books were too high to really build an audience. Other authors can command those prices and good for them. I'm not one of those authors right now (or then) and I'm okay with that! 

Well, since S&S lowered the price of my book and the sales of my very first book (6 years old now) were minimal, I decided to do a free promotion with my free book to help generate interest in the second and third books--both books are advertised at the end of the first book (book covers and back cover blurbs). Also, I felt like I needed to get my name back out there and give myself a little exposure.

Given that the book is romance, chick lit no less, and OLD, I thought I MIGHT give away a few hundred copies. I think the most success I've had with a Free promotion is maybe 1,000 books over a 2-3 day period. That was for The Seven Year Itch. I don't think I've had that level of success since. Usually I can only giveaway a few hundred at a time. But even with a few hundred copies,  a fraction of those people might read the first and buy the second and third. My goal is loyal readers who will stick with me no matter what. And from the very beginning of my career, my goal has been to win readers over one at time. If I get more I'm certainly grateful but if I get one that's enough to keep me going.

So, I put the book out there for free, last minute, no real promotion, and don't really think much of it. The first day I gave away almost 4,000 copies. The second and third days almost 4,000 more. I reached the top 5 in Romance and Romantic Comedy, and the Top 100 Free Books at #30. I'm still  in the Top 100 but lower as the clicks begin to fade. But sales for my second book always went up. From the last rating I saw before the giveaway which was 931,789 (no, really) to 52,653 (or in that neighborhood) for four days in a row.

It's safe to say I would call this giveaway a success. What did I do to make it successful? I really just posted on Facebook and Tweeted the news twice a day. 

What SHOULD I have done? Well, that's my marketing tip. 

Had I really known S&S was going to drop the price of my book and I could've planned the giveaway sooner, what I would have done is use the Author Marketing Club's Free E-Book Submission tools.

There are a TON of sites out there to which readers subscribe to get Free or Bargain books. A lot of these sites will promote your book for FREE or at a very low cost. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can submit your book to these sites (some have certain criteria such as the number of reviews, etc). The forms are generally short and there are quite a few of them but they will give you a lot of excellent, free promotion. 

For those who want to shell out the $15.00, you can also use the Book Marketing Tool  which allows you to fill out 1 page and it will submit your Free book deal to 30+. 

The key to exploiting any of these opportunities is LEAD TIME -- schedule your free giveaway at least 14 days ahead of time and you will get maximum exposure. I did mine very last minute SO I got what I got. Which is 8,000+ so it's still not bad. 

So if you want to run a successful promotion -- my suggestions are to  have at least 5 - 10 great reviews (my book at 75), a great cover, catchy title, and plan your promotion at least 3 weeks in advance so you can use these marketing tools. There is one other major tool that I will talk about at a later date AFTER I attempt to use it on my latest romance. 

Anwway, that's it for Ad Talk Tuesday. 

Tomorrow and Thursday I will be posting some writing tips because I'm going to my first concert in ages. And I will probably be tired as heck for the next couple of days. I'll be back with Fiction Friday!  

And NEXT Friday I've line up an interview with a pretty darn special thriller writer for Fiction Friday -- Stay Tuned  this Friday to find out! 

Friend me on Facebook: 
Follow me on Twitter:  

Monday, July 27, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 43 -- Motivation Monday!

Motivation Monday – An Indie Author’s Story

So there’s this guy. He doesn’t grow up wanting to become an author, believe it or not. But he did love sci-fi. His background’s in business and he went down that road because he didn’t really have a clue about what he was called to do. He spends ten years of his starting and running Internet companies before he realizes this is NOT what he wants to spend the rest of his life doing.

Inside, there was a writer and a story burning to get out.

Remember my blog about finding your passion (everything goes back to that article). He said creating web apps brought him joy but sitting in business meetings didn't. He wanted to find something that would allow him to be creative and found writing. 

Some people have to take the circuitous route to finding out what they’re true calling is. And that’s what this writer did.

So, he retired from the Internet gigs (he called it that even though he's young) and decided to pursue his passion, writing his first sci-fi novel. He spent two years researching and writing the book. And decided to self-publish it via ebook on Kindle Direct Publishing. And his goal was just to write a story he loved. His gauge for success – writing another book that was better than the last.

Everything else is gravy…

Months and months go by. Hardly and sales. Hardly any reviews. He tried some different pricing strategies—but ended up sticking with the $2.99 price point. Part of the reason people didn’t read his book is because they couldn’t find it! His book was in the wrong category so he had to email Amazon to get the correct category added—techno-thriller (interesting point because most of us think we’re stuck with those categories listed, but you can request to get into other categories.)

Finally he got two “breakthroughs.”
One – His book got reviewed on eReader News Daily.
Two – He got a listed on Amazon’s Hot New Releases, which he says was a game-changer.
From that point forward, his sales spiked to 150,000 and he ended up selling 1,000,000 copies of his sci-fi thriller series. 

The series is called The Origin Mystery.

The first book was called The Atlantis Gene.

And the author’s name is A.G. Riddle (learn more here).

What’s even better?

 CBS Films picked up his Origin Mystery series.

His fourth book—Departure--got picked up by Harper-Collins in a 7-figure book deal and 20th Century Fox bought the film rights.  

Can we say--author-preneur??? 

What were my takeaways from his story?

  1. Write a story that you love—ESPECIALLY if it’s different. You absolutely cannot go wrong here. You will never regret writing what you love, even if you don’t reach the heights of success that you hope for. 
  2. If you truly love something (writing, your book idea), never give up on it. Try everything you can to make it successful. Go balls out! It may not work, but you won’t have any regrets
  3. Make sure you have the right cover design. If you look at his original versus cover designs – the latest ones definitely sing.
  4.  A lot of this writing business is just luck and timing. Publishing the right book and finding the right readers at the right time. Sometimes, in addition to great writing, you need the stars to align. They can only align if you stay in the game and keep writing.
All we can do are the things within our control – after you write a story that you LOVE, price it correctly, design the right covers, and make sure the right audience can find it! 

After that? Pray!

That’s all for Motivation Monday! 

See you tomorrow… 

Follow me on Twitter: 
Like me on Facebook: 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 42 -- Anything Goes Sunday

Happy Sunday!

The post will be a short one today and mostly an update on my rebranding for the series.

My mind has been exploding with the laundry list of things that need to get done before it gets released again. If you're considering a rebranding, here's a list of things you will need to think about.

1. So, I've done research on what's entailed in publishing 2nd editions with new titles and new covers in ebook and print. The good news is, in ebook (Amazon in particular), you can use your same account page that you used for the previous release. You just change the title information and update the cover and interior files.

2. When you update the print versions you will need all new ISBNs. While the ebook version isn't considered a new version, the print is. That means you have to upload new interior and exterior files on Createspace...and for me, Lightning Source. I also independently upload files on Kobo and B&N...and I'll have to do Apple this time around, too. Do I need to tell you how much I'm dreading that.

3. I will also have to do my blog. That means a new header. And uploading to book cover files. Creating a new signature.

4. I will also have to update the Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc, and all the file information on those sites. Especially for the print book versions of the book.

5. I have inventory I need to get rid of, although thankfully not a lot. And then I'll have to replace all of the books in time for my conference in September.

6.  It also means all new marketing material. Postcards, bookmarks, etc.

7. I'll have to change all of my social network banners. Ugh.

8. I've also decided that since I'm doing second editions that all of the books are going through re-editing. I'm eliminating all those little things that I said I would've done differently which is cool. It will be the same stories but they should be MUCH tighter and error-free. I have to adjudicate the changes so I've been reading all the books AGAIN. For millionth time. Surprisingly they are still good. I still enjoy the stories. So, I'm happy about that.

(If there is more to do than that, I don't want to think about it right now. LOL I'm exhausted with that much.)

This week is big-- I should be getting the first draft of my new much more THRILLERY cover for Book 1--with the new much more THRILLERY title (yes, thrillery is a word today), which I will divulge along with the cover when they are done. I'm so excited. I'll keep you posted as things move along--joy, pain, and all.

Until Motivation Monday...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon day 41 -- Hot Links Saturday



Loved this article. I was lecturing my son today about football and he claims he wants to play--but doesn't workout or condition. He's only interested in getting on the field in uniform and hitting people. He doesn't see the miles run or the early morning workouts or the weights lifted or the bones broken healed and broken again. And I suspect his interest would wane if he got a taste of that.

It's much the same with writing. People don't see the hours and hours and hours spent writing and rewriting and rewriting the rewriting that you've rewritten while cloaked in stinky pajamas with a coffee IV drip and hourly APBs issued in search of your muse. They don't see all the missed weekend outings, time sacrificed with family and friends, the lack of time for house cleaning that has left your house looking like a crime scene, and the lack of sunlight that has led to a severe Vitamin D deficiency because you're holed up in your office. No, they see the finished product, the book signings and the book deals and the bestseller lists. And I think I heard the statistic that 81% of people want to write a book. I suspect interest would wane if they understood the work and sacrifice that goes into it.

Writing isn't easy. Writing WELL is HARD AS HELL. You might be able to pull off being a lazy writer for one book but you sure as heck can't do it and sustain a career. This was pretty good stuff!


Amazon created this book scale that shows you the size of your book before you get it. Why this is necessary or helpful, I don't know, BUT I found it odd and reportable. 


Back to the review issue. This issue annoys the hell out of me. It never ceases to amaze me what Amazon does and does not find problematic about reviews. So, if you have a friend or family member that leaves a review, Amazon will delete the review. It apparently  happens even if you happen to collaborate with other authors. I mean, I'm FB or Twitter friends with a lot of authors, that doesn't mean if I post a 5 star review for their book that I didn't read an didn't like it. That is just way overstepping.

Meanwhile they ALLOW reviews like this one left on one of my young adult books.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2015
It was free. Haven't read.

If you're going to police reviews, police them all or don't police any.


i always read tips when I see them. It's amazing how they say something and yet say nothing. When I give a tip, I give a tip. But it's useful reading...sorta. 


So, I'm one of those people who shakes their head and winces a bit when I see these highly sexualized covers that don't fit the content. I know sex sells, but does it have to? In some circles, the answer is yes.


I think so. They have to keep pace with the times to stay relevant. Interesting perspective from the Washington Post

Friend me on Facebook: 
Follow me on Twitter:  
And don't forget to subscribe to for automatic updates.       

Friday, July 24, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 40 -- Fiction Friday -- Author Brian W. Smith

Fiction Friday with Author Brian W. Smith

Good Morning!!  I thought I'd take the early opportunity to diversify the book selection. Our first guest offers something new and different in the Mystery-Suspense genre -- fast-paced, page-turning thrillers featuring legendary New Orleans-based detective Sleepy Carter with a special twist to his back story--he works from the shadows because people think he's dead! 

How cool is that!
Let's welcome today's visiting author Brian W. Smith, the award winning / best selling author of more than a dozen novels and short stories. He has been awarded the Male Author of the Year award from multiple literary organizations and has had several novels land on prominent best sellers list, such as: Amazon, Dallas Morning News, Black Expressions, and others.

Brian is here to talk to us about his awesome new mysteries and the second book in his series: 
A Murder in the Quarters (A Sleepy Carter Mystery)

I started writing in 2006 after a life-altering personal experience. That experience prompted me to write my first novel, Mama's Lies - Daddy's Pain.

It's the second book in my Sleepy Carter Mystery series. Someone is murdering the palm readers and  psychics in the French Quarters. The police can't catch the serial killer and are stumped. But Sleepy solves the crime as always - from the shadows.


I enjoyed exploring the sub-culture in the French Quarter. Most native New Orleanians, like myself, rarely go in the French Quarter. The natives consider it a tourist trap. Now that I live in Texas, I have a greater appreciation for the culture of New Orleans (mainly because the Dallas area is very affluent but low on culture). To prep for this book, I spent time in the French Quarter interviewing palm readers and psychics. I even had a tarot card reading - something I'd never done in my twenty-plus years of living in the city.  

I researched the mystery genre for two years before writing the first Sleepy Carter novel in 2013. My research revealed that there are more mystery writers than you can shake a stick at, but Walter Mosley is the only African-American mystery writer of note. And other than Mosley's Easy Rawlins character, most readers couldn't name another black sleuth. My goal is to make Sleepy Carter the most popular black sleuth of all time. 

Sleepy is the most successful detective in the history of the New Orleans Police department. At the height of his popularity, he disappeared. Why? Because he drove while drunk late one night and killed a couple. Since no one was around to witness the accident, he fled the scene and went underground - for ten years. His coworkers thought he died at the hands of someone he put in prison. Sleepy spent ten years on the city's streets as a homeless man. In the shadows, but always watching the city's crime trends. Eventually, Sleepy's guilt wore on him so he came out of hiding to tell the daughter of the couple he killed. The daughters name is Lizzy Silverman. She's 28 years old - and a homicide detective. Sleepy gets cold feet and decides his penance will be to help Lizzy solve crimes and move up the ranks. When she realizes he's the legendary Sleepy Carter, a man the police brass believes is dead, she gladly accepts his offer to help her. But, Sleepy adds one condition - Lizzy can never tell anyone he's alive. 


As a native New Orleanian, the Sleepy Carter Mystery series allows me to baffle readers with brain twisting "whodunnits,"  while taking them on a tour of the Big Easy. Every book in the series is set in the city and has a New Orleans-themed title. The first book, which was released in 2013, was called, The Audubon Park Murder (the book became an Amazon Best Seller and currently has 4.5 rating). This second book is called, A Murder in the Quarters (which will be released on August 28, 2015). The third title, which will be released in 2016, will be titled, The Mardi Gras Massacre. 
There are sixteen books scheduled for this series.


It took six months to write this book.


 I really don't have one. I take bits and pieces of advice from various books, internet articles, and YouTube videos.


I'm an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at a Community College in the Dallas area when I'm not writing and touring. When I'm not writing or teaching you can find me hanging out with my family and rooting like a madman for the New Orleans Saints.  


It's hard to say. I'm usually writing two or three books at the same time. One will be given to my agent to pitch. If she doesn't find a publisher to buy it in a certain amount of time, I 'll take the book back and release it on my own. If she does find a publisher, I'll allow the publisher to put it out there and I'll take one of the other books that I'm writing and release it. That's pretty much how I work. 
 Thanks so much, Brian, for stopping by today!! 
If you're interested in learning more about Brian and his books, 
please visit him at: 
Twitter -       @TeamBWSmith 
Instagram -  authorbwsmith
Facebook - Brian W. Smith 
 If you're interested in showcasing your mystery, thriller, or suspense on this blog, don't hesitate to drop me a line at sdawnskye (at) gmail (dot) com.