Monday, July 27, 2015

Get Your Free Ebook - Limited Time Only

Get Your Free Digital Download Of Mayonnaise and Other Stories


I've got a secret, special deal for you. Click  to get my collection of short stories, Mayonnaise and Other Stories FREE.

But it's only for three days. So you'll have to act fast.

Get Your Digital Copy Of Mayonnaise and Other Stories available on Amazon for FREE.

For three days only, you can get Mayonnaise and Other Stories from Amazon for FREE.

Starting Tuesday, July 28 and ending Thursday, July 30 at midnight the price for the collection of stories is FREE to you.

Just click on the image below to get to Amazon and download your copy.

 Mayonnaise and Other Stories

One More Thing...

You get three stories, priced at $1.99 for free.  But only if you act NOW.

In return I will only ask you one small favor...

Since you're getting these stories for free, would you please, please, please leave a review?

Reviews Are The Gold Standard 

All you have to do is click HERE to LEAVE A REVIEW

The review doesn't have to be much, just a simple rating - 5 stars would be awesome - and a brief sentence or two about the stories.

That's it and it'll go a LOOONNG way toward helping me with Amazon.

Get The Kindle Reader App

Kindle and Amazon have the largest selection of books on the planet.  I was going to make a superlative statement like in the universe, but that place is pretty freaking huge, so there may be a larger selection of books available, but none that I'm aware of...

If you don't have a Kindle, you can still read ebooks from Amazon on the Kindle Free App.

You can download the Kindle Free App for iPhones, Mac, and iPad

Kindle Reader App - It's Free! Just Click the Image to download your free app.

If you're one of those "Other" people that aren't in the Apple sphere of influence - you can download the Kindle Reader App for free as well.

Get The Kindle Reader App Free for PC and Android Devices

Thanks!  And remember, this is a special 3-day promotion, and after midnight Thursday July 30, the price goes back to $1.99.

Friday, July 24, 2015

How To Stop Sucking At Your Time Management

The Challenges Of Time Management

This is not a post about kindle direct publishing.

It is about a necessary skill to learn - time management.

Time management is a skill learned and honed through decisive actions.

It's a juggling act of three things: Prioritization, organization, and self discipline.

Finding the right balance will help you improve your productivity.

We all are busy.  Research shows that Americans LOVE - in all caps - to be, and feel busy.

Perhaps its the consumer culture we are raised in.  To keep up with the "Joneses", we feel we have to work harder to get more things.

It could be the poverty of time and how we perceive to be busy, even when we're not.  It's all perception born of leisure.

It could be the Puritan Work-Ethic we were taught as kids. It's a status symbol of dystopian proportions.

The first step in any journey is to get organized.

Self Discipline, Time Management And Increasing Productivity By Doing Less

Everyone of us knows what it's like to have too many tasks and not enough time to do them all.

It's like dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  You take a little sample of vegetables, some pasta, a little chicken or fish, some salad and bread.  Before you know it, you have too much food on too little a plate.

This post is more about self-discipline, time management, and tactics to help you improve your productivity regardless of your tasks than anything about my Kindle Publishing journey.

I believe that these are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Actions take discipline and discipline requires organization.

But what do we do when there's more than just one action that's required?

For a writer, self-discipline is just as much a struggle as it is for a tuba player.

Or a student with homework; or a UPS delivery driver just starting their daily route.

The Burden of Demands

With any task or job, it's easy to get a sense of overwhelming.

We all have someone we're responsible to, a boss, teacher, coach.  If you're independent, congratulations, that's great!  But with that independence comes a different struggle. That's the distraction of freedom.

Whatever the demands, the only way you're going to get anything of value accomplished is by self-discipline.

There's too many details in the report; there's not enough time to get that project done in time for close of business; I have too much homework are all great examples.

We all feel it from time to time, what I think of as "the burden of demands."

So how do we overcome this challenge?

By setting up an organizational outline that places emphasis on the important things and minimizes the less important tasks we have.

This is a process of prioritization.  It's an important aspect of time management skills.

What Is Prioritization? 

Prioritization is the process of putting order to things. Of making a choice.

The most important is first, then the next important and finally the least important thing comes in last.

The idea here is that you place what is of greatest value first.  It could be a homework assignment, or it could be a phone call you need to make to a supplier for your product line.

For writers, it's placing the order to how you're going to write that next chapter in your story arc. In a story, you wouldn't place the climax ahead of the character development and expect to elicit the same reaction from your readers.

Prioritization is instinctual, but for some reason we allow the burden of demands to overwhelm our thinking and short circuit our organization.

Once you've decided on the order of importance, you need to stick with it.  Don't let S.O.S - Shiny Object Syndrome - distract you.

Stay on task until you finish one, and then move on to the next one.

Again, don't let S.O.S. become your message.

I like to think of this quote I was given by a friend a long time ago: "just because it's important to you doesn't make it urgent for me."

Prioritization Is Set and Done, What's Next?

Once you have the order of importance set - prioritization - the next step is to take your task and cut it up into smaller, more manageable portions.

Think about it like a pizza.  You're hungry, with some cash in your pocket, so you walk into your local pizza joint and order a large pizza with the works.

After about 10 minutes the pizza arrives, hot and ready.

You can't just shove the whole pie in your mouth.  It doesn't work that way - besides, you'd burn the $h!T out of your mouth!

You take a slice, cool it down and take one bite.  You eat the pie one bite at a time!

So micro-prioritization is the next step in your process.

So how does this work?  Let's say you have three projects to get done.

  • First, list them in order of importance, that is, what is the one thing you need to get done.  
  • Next, think about how you can break that task up into a couple easier manageable, smaller slices as it were. 
  • Finally, take that bite-sized task and begin.

The Pomodoro Technique - 80 percent activity/20 percent recovery

By organizing your tasks into the order of importance and then breaking them up into smaller and smaller pieces, you're making it easier to be more effective in less time.

Your efficiency does have limits, however.  It's not just a matter of organization that will help you.

Understand that we all have limits on our productivity, our performance, and our attention spans.
The trick then is to take your tasks and manage your energy with them.

There's a little technique that is called the Pomodoro Technique.

It says that to increase your productivity, you need to set manageable tasks within a finite amount of time.

What the Pomodoro Technique stresses is high, intensive levels of activity but in short duration.

It's the Crossfit of time management!

For those that don't know about Crossfit, it's a H.I.I.T program of fitness.

The routine is High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) that calls for extreme action followed by intervals of short rest.

For those of you not too worried about fitness and wondering what that has to do with productivity, time management, and self-discipline, here's how it works:

Take a small project like we discussed already.

Say it's a chapter in your book. You've organized what you're going to write about, the general path you want to go, and you sit down to write it out.

You need more skills and organization than just the ability to write. You need to set manageable pathways that you can follow to become more efficient at your task of writing.  In so doing you'll increase your productivity.

Set A Time Limit

Before you begin to work, however, the technique calls for setting a timer. Preferably a short time limit, like 20 minutes.

When the timer goes off, stop writing and walk away.

Give yourself 5 minutes off.  No exceptions!

It's the 80/20 rule of time management.  80 percent of your time is actively focused with 20 percent completely devoid of that activity.

As you can break down the tasks faster and much more efficiently without any loss of concentration, you can slowly increase your time to work but need to keep the 80/20 rule in place.

The Rule Of Three

In writing, there's a principle called "The Rule of Three".

What the rule claims is that things that appear in three's are more appealing, funnier and easier to remember for the audience than any other combination.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a prime example of this concept.

The form dictates that there could be three lines, or three repetitive words. Three acts are better developed, have more action and more power than a novel or play with Four acts.

That's why when we talk about writing, we claim that there's a beginning, middle and end.

For Time Management And Self Discipline, the" Rule of Three" can be broken down another way.

In the popular blog, Paid To Exist by Jonathan Mead - he writes about time management skills from a different perspective.

In an article about morning routines titled HOW TO WAKE UP ON FIRE - he writes that you have to have a plan of action for the morning.

Furthermore he writes that the tips he has for being at his most productive is having clearly defined goals, setting down and getting to work and limiting actions to the most important things on his check list to just three things.

His biggest point is stick to the rule of three.

Get the three things MOST IMPORTANT done.  Then if you have time and energy you can do more.

But only after the three things are done.

Time Management Is Easy - If You Can Get Organized

Time management is not inbred.  We are evolutionarily designed to eat, sleep and procreate.  

Time and the demands we place on it are modern constructs, sacrifices we choose to live in a civilized world.  

And time management is a skill that is learned over time, one to be honed to a fine edge like a razor on the grindstone. 

Tasks, responsibilities and obligations can all seem like burdens that overwhelm us; a 50 pound bag on our shoulders while we walk through the metaphoric mud of the day. 

Finding the right balance between doing what we have to with the right order to do them is an intractable part of honing that skill. 

By using prioritization then breaking the tasks into smaller portions with focused attention for manageable durations will allow us to make huge strides in our productivity.   

Additionally, if we abide by the rule of three, we'll see specific metrics achieved easier and more efficiently. 

Combining these concepts will help you with your time management, become much more efficient in your day and increase your overall productivity. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Does Joe Strummer, My Short Stories And Kindle Publishing Have In Common?

How To Position Your Self and Your Stories More Effectively

In this post, we'll be discussing the largest vacuum of a self-pubslihed writer's life - marketing.

marketing tips for Kindle Publishing writers

We'll discuss the stories already released on Amazon, the promotions in place and what the strategy moving forward is.

It's one of the most difficult aspects that any creative or productive person has.  It's a challenge to produce the story, art, song or merchandise, but then getting it out into the world is an even bigger struggle.

In this post, we'll focus on a strategy that I've read about many times over from some well regarded brains in the self-publishing sphere.  Some of these ideas are directly from the guys at Self-Publishing Podcast and Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn.

Basically they claim that you need to build a larger and larger catalog to help your overall promotion strategy and later on in this post we'll discuss how that works in greater detail.

It's Not The Story That's Most Difficult

Obviously getting the story-draft written down presents a huge problem, even for the most accomplished writer, getting started can be overwhelming.

Kindle Publishing Tips
The Dangers Of The Blank Page

Staring at a blank page is just a daunting, scary task.  If it wasn't that scary, more people would write!

As I already said for any writer getting started is one large hurdle.  Like ten-feet high type of hurdle.

Then you have to find cover art, where to get the stories to readers and ways to promote them.

It's been said that for a self-pubslihed writer, it's 20% writing and 80% promotion.

My Short Story Updates

On Amazon I've a few stories available through Kindle Publishing in their store right now.

My strategy is and has been, to promote one for a month as I release more stories, then promote another one while working on new manuscripts.  Right now on Amazon there is two stand-alone stories, "The Ballad of John Walker" and "It's Not The Things We Say".  Also, there's a collection of more humorous, fun stories under the collection "Mayonnaise and Other Stories".

Some of you know about my short story "The Ballad of John Walker." Published mid-June 2015, the story has gained some traction in the last month and could stand to gain a little more in the coming months.

 The Ballad of John Walker - get your digital copy by clicking the picture!

What you don't know is I owe you all a full-hearted thank you for helping get it moving on up in Kindle Short Reads for Suspense and Thrillers. That's awesome and helps a ton!

For those of you that don't know about it, it's a short read that examines the dangers of living in a society ruled by surveillance and paranoia.

Another title that's out takes a more fun approach. A more humorous take, "Mayonnaise and Other Stories" is a mostly made up  account of living in the world today.  From the eyes of a ambitious child hell-bent on getting a pack of gum; to the power of OCD and the irony of judgement; to the follies of a delusional teen athlete.

And just released there is the short story, "It's Not The Things We Say".  An intense look at the power that miscommunication can take within a relationship. Whether its a child and parent, a boyfriend and girlfriend or any schism between loved ones, often it's not what we say as much as how we listen to each other.

So to wrap up, that's three short stories on Amazon that've been published to date.  The promotional efforts so far have been dedicated to the first short story, The Ballad of John Walker and it's been pretty labor intensive thus far.

Places it's been promoted so far:

  • This blog
  • Amazon's Kindle Publishing marketplace 
  • Facebook, including Facebook ads (not a great R.O.I. and Facebook Groups)
  • Google Plus Communities
  • Daily Free Ebooks (yes, even though it's $0.99, it can still be listed on directories such as DFE)
  • Good Reads
  • Just Kindle Books (A small price to publish and promote)
  • KUFADS - a British based ebook promotion service (a small price for a week's promotion)
So far the results have been a trickle but with a first book, a short fiction piece no-less, it's not to be a huge seller, but a starting point for a broader platform.

Moving forward, there will be lighter promotions on this story and more attention pushed to the "Mayonnaise" collection and "It's Not The Things We Say".

Gaining Momentum Is Hard, Maintaining Momentum Can Be Just As Hard

Why Newton Got It Wrong

Newton claimed that an object in motion tended to stay in motion unless some external force was applied to stop it.  Well that may be true for objects, but for most writers, once you get going, you reach a point where stopping is dangerously seductive - and the restart is almost impossible. 

After writing a story, the last thing I want to do is sit down and begin the editing process, much less begin a new story.

I'm fairly certain that's true for any artist or producer.  Build something, spend all that energy and emotion to create something and you're spent.  There's limits to the process.

Athletes are the same way.  There's only so much energy they have to spend.  That's why the build up their stamina over time and train in specific, detailed tasks to increase their endurance and improve stamina.

One technique to do this is called the Pomodoro Technique and I've written about how to utilize it to increase your productivity in a former post you can read HERE.

How does that work with marketing you wonder?  Well there's plenty of evidence that the more titles you publish, the easier it is for people, and fans, to find you.

What that means is that while it's no fun to turn around and work on the next story, or the next idea, it's critical for you to help build an audience.

Think about you favorite band.

Chances are, if they've been around for a while they have a number of songs and records out there.  They may be official releases, bootlegs, any thing that keeps you engaged and interested.  If they don't have material to release, they tour, play live shows to keep them in your minds.

With that in mind, I have three, potentially four more stories to release between here and September.

There's a working title that I'm working on through Wattpad, an online forum for authors and hope to garner some keen insights about the story while it's on that platform.

It's still an early draft, but you can see it on Wattpad under the working title "A Fine Day For A Swim".

Get the early draft "A Fine Day For A Swim" on Wattpad by clicking the link above.

The Goal Is To Get To The Finish Line In One Piece

This whole process is about writing a number of short stories to build a platform for something I'm working on next.  It will be a departure from the short story line I've been working on right now and one that still needs to be more fully developed, but this whole process has been to build a platform to move forward from.

I'll be releasing "A Fine Day For A Swim" in mid-August.  With its release there's an accompanying story "The Palm" that will be included with either another story in production or as a potential stand-alone story as well.

Finally there's two other stories that are being fleshed out right now.  One is under the working title "Shooter" and the other is without a title but would be the longest story included in the summer release calendar.

The Future Is Unwritten

So the final tally is two stand-alone short stories and 1 collection of stories already released with promotion being focused on just the first one so far. That first story being "The Ballad of john Walker", with "It's Not The Things We Say" being the other stand-alone.  "Mayonnaise and Other Stories" being the collection, with all three of them being available on the Amazon platform for the next 90 days in exclusivity, after which they'll be placed on a couple other ebook platforms and promoted in different ways.

"A Fine Day For A Swim" is next in the pipeline for release, and will be available in about a month, after some tweaks and edits.

It's sister story, "The Palm" will be released at the same time and will be either a stand-alone story, or included with "Shooter", depending on how things are shaping up at that time.

The last two stories in the plan will will out a couple weeks to a month after "A Fine Day For A Swim", placing the overall short story count at 6 to 7 stories.

Once that's over with, the gears are switching to a new program, and I'll be discussing that down the road after it's more fleshed out with a more clear strategy and timeline.

In conclusion, the heading to this section of the post is about the marketing strategy, or any strategy you set in to motion.

One of my favorite song writers was Joe Strummer, lead singer and writer for the seminal British Punk band - The Clash.

Along with songs that dealt with changing the political spectrum for the betterment of the working class, he wrote anthemic lines like "Let Fury Have The Hour, Anger Can Be Power, If You Know How To Use It".

But one of his greatest sayings was "The Future Is Unwritten".

Just the promise and hope in that line is enough for me to believe in the optimism in tomorrow.  And while 80% of my time is devoted to marketing short stories that, in and of themselves, are difficult to promote and sell, this line reminds me that tomorrow is a new day.

And that philosophy goes toward your marketing campaign as well.  Get your stuff out there and don't be afraid to make changes.

If something is working, go all in.  If something isn't working, then change tactics and direction.  And keep building up your catalog.  The more you do, the greater chance it can catch on with your audience.

You never know about tomorrow, the future is unwritten.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Need Your Help With Something....

You Are The Most Important Factor With My Kindle Publishing Journey

kindle publishing tips

Have You Heard - My Short Story The Ballad Of John Walker Is Out Now!  

It wasn't too long ago that I published the short story "The Ballad of John Walker" through Kindle Publishing.

June 16th, 2015 to be exact.  Right away it surged to the top of new releases, and since that point it's slowed down. 

The main reason?  Not enough reviews.

   Get your copy and leave a review!

Leave A Review On Amazon And I'll Email You A Free Beta-Version Of A New Story! 

First, thanks to everyone who picked up a copy!  Don't worry - if you want to grab a copy you can get it by clicking HERE.

Now what I need are Amazon reviews.  Every review is important for Amazon to recommend this story and future titles.  Amazon has a "bot" that looks for reviews as a way to value the titles on their bookshelves so it really helps my profile in the eyes of the Amazon bot. 

Here's what I need you to do: 

After picking up the story "The Ballad of John Walker" once you finish it, you'll be asked on the last page to leave a review.  

The more stars I get the higher that Amazon views the story.  It will ask you for a headline and quick worded statement.  

To make it easier for you, here's a suggestion of what to write: 

A short evocative read that will resonate with you long after you finish.   A suspense thriller that will shock you and make you consider the dangers of a surveillance state. This kindle short reads as a fast-paced mystery, thriller and suspense all in one! 

Or you can write something like this:

A gritty suspense thriller, The Ballad of John Walker will make you think long and hard about living in the modern security state.  What would you do if everything you had was taking away from you in an instant?  This short kindle reads like a answer to this what-if and serves as a clarion call for us all.

It'll take less than a couple minutes and will go a LONG way toward how the story gets seen by Amazon, their search engine and how it will rank with Kindle Publishing.

Leave A Review Get A Gift For YOU 

Finally to entice you even more, if you leave a review, shoot me a quick private message at my personal email address and I'll send you an early pre-release version PDF of my new short story "A Fine Day For A Swim" before I publish it! 

This short story won't be out until sometime in late August, so you get to be the first readers and FOR FREE! 

P.S. as a bonus, look for my new ebook, Mayonnaise and Other Stories - for only $1.99 reduced for a limited time from $2.99.

Get The Ballad of John Walker Now

Get Your Copy Of Mayonnaise and Other Stories Here (For a reduced price of $1.99 now)