Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Shiny and New...

It's been a long time coming, but I finally found a proper cover for my novel, Aqua Vitae. This one does the job of imparting the feeling of mystery and suspense that the story deserves; the previous cover fell well short of that goal.

If you're not familiar with the story, now's as good a time as any to hop over to Amazon and check out the "Look Inside" feature for a free peek. It's a little different, but I think you'll like it... 


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Judge, meet book cover...

I'm finally getting around to tackling some publishing chores that have been neglected for some time now - upgrading my book covers. It probably makes good marketing sense to revisit these things on occasion anyway, but two of the covers - those for The Cenacle Scroll and Aqua Vitae - were meant to be temporary from the start.

I think this new cover for The Cenacle Scroll does a much better job of telegraphing the mystery and intrigue of the story than does my original, ham-handed cut-and-paste job.

I hope you agree. And I hope it attracts a few new readers to the tale...

Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Spectacular Autumn Drone's-Eye View Of the Mohonk Preserve...

The explosion of Fall colors on New York's Shawangunk Ridge are second to none. I've spent many a weekend hiking around up there trying the capture the spectacular vista with my Zone VI 4x5 camera, but this video gives you a view of what it must be like for a raptor riding the thermals around those cliffs.

You're also provided with several unique views of the Mohonk Mountain House and of SkyTop Tower, a landmark that features prominently in my novel, Little Birdies!  Enjoy your trip...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hike Until You Drop (But Don't)...

Towards the end of Little Birdies!, Willie Nolan, an environmental program specialist with the Bureau of Wildlife division of New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation, is at the Mohonk Mountain House and needs to get to Sky Top Tower to see how closely the birds are being monitored by the authorities. He's forced to climb the Labyrinth at night, to avoid the State Trooper parked at the base of Sky Top Road.

When he returns, two hours later, he describes the trail to Dan Grant: "It was blazed by sadists for crazy people," an observation that anyone who has attempted the near-vertical scramble knows to be true. Here's a great up-close and personal look at the entire trail, from the bottom up to the Tower:

And, yes, I've done it. My advice? Carry water and little else, wear sturdy, supportive footwear and don't fall...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I'll Meet You in New Hampshire...

I've been wanting to move up to The Granite State for a while now, and this film just solidifies the feeling. I'm mired here right now, but, to paraphrase Peter Schiff in the film, I can't afford to die in New York (and don't intend to).

The video, "101 Reasons: Liberty Lives in New Hampshire" is a documentary adaptation of the Free State Project's list of 101 Reasons to Move to New Hampshire. It runs a full hour. It features quality, professional production values and can be viewed in 1080p high-def.  If you're a lover of liberty, and dream of escaping from under the thumb of the nanny state in your lifetime, you really need to take a hard look at this.


Don't wait for a politician or a political party to set you free; it's not going to happen. Do it yourself. I'll meet you there. I'll be wearing the smoke-colored Rand's Custom cowboy hat... Live Free or Die.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Carriage Road to SkyTop Tower...

Here's a great look at the carriage road leading from the Mohonk Mountain House to SkyTop Tower. Towards the end of Little Birdies!, Mandy and her friends track the birds to the tower, where they've taken up residence and enjoy riding the thermals during the day. Enjoy your walk...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The End is Nigh. Is Indie Publishing's Mother Lode Tapped out?

Is it just me, or has the Indi Publishing movement turned into a modern day reincarnation of the 1849-1855 California Gold Rush? I don't mean in terms of authors getting rich - like the "forty-niners" of old, very few of us will hit the mother lode, a percentage might break even, but most end up broke and stranded.

When I published my first novel, The Third Revolution, in 2004, self-publishing (publish on demand, as we called it then) was largely a do-it-yourself endeavor and print only; the first Kindle e-reader was still a good three years away. I would order a couple of dozen of my own books, send out review copies to the relatively influential bloggers of the day who I hoped were sympathetic to my themes, cobble together some funny ads with Photoshop and run them on some of the more affordable, demographically relevant blogs using a service called BlogAds (apparently still in business today!).

I think I sold over 1,200 copies of that first book (at $16.95 for a soft cover!) before ebooks started taking over the world. My marketing formula continued to work well when I released Middle America in 2007, and, to a lesser extent, Little Birdies! in 2009. By the time I released The Last Bartender in 2010, the methodology seemed tapped out, probably because the audience for that story was less tightly defined than for the previous books, hence harder to target market in an economical way. In addition, AdBlock made its debut in December of 2009, and Adblock Plus in December of 2010, dramatically lessening the effectiveness of (simple banner) online advertising.

It may just be my visionary grasp of the obvious, but it seems like, on Twitter, at least, there are more publishing support services and consultants than readers. They're certainly easier to find. Just send out a tweet with a #amwriting, #kindle, #ebook, #author, or #freeebook hashtag and see who follows you. Hint: they won't be asking you for books, they'll be asking you for money.

If I didn't have that mute option, my Twitter feed would be one nonstop onslaught of book advertisements, book promotional services, new media campaign services, "platform" building services, $5 per thousand Twitter followers, bots all, most masquerading, in their present incarnation, as other "authors" ("helping" other authors, of course...).  Consultants and support services have become the forest; the readers are tiny chipmunks, skittering around the forest floor and hiding under rotting logs. Good luck trying to find (much less capture) them.

So what about that opening Gold Rush analogy? Famously, after the first initial, successful claims were settled and worked, the floodgates opened to hundreds of thousands of prospectors, each seeking his personal fortune. Returns diminished rapidly, to the point where the adventure cost most people money instead of making them rich. So who cashed in?

The merchants. The outfitters, the equipment, tool, food, clothing and service providers. The landlords. If you had something to sell, rent or lease to a prospector, you could likely count on a steady income stream, as long as the starry-eyed dreamers kept pouring into the state. The prospectors became the suckers, the marks, and ended up providing the start-up capital for the industrial titans of the new century (Armour Meatpacking, Studebaker automobiles, Wells Fargo Bank, and, of course, Levi Strauss all got their start during the Gold Rush).

In this present day reincarnation, for every person who's willing to give you a few bucks for a book, there are scores who are asking for your money in exchange for "expert" advice on how to find the next buyer. I suspect that the publishing gold rush will finally grind to a halt when every last failed or frustrated Indie author finally gives up writing and hangs out their shingle as a new media publishing consultant. Then we can all write free ebooks directing each other to our websites, where we'll offer each other paid advice on how to drive even more of us to each other's websites.

Maybe that's what they mean by the "new economy."

P.S. ~ I'm writing another damn book anyway...