New Short Stories Every Month From Now On

Last week I made a post about how a year of giving all my books away for free had brought my readership down and possibly crushed my productivity. As of now, I’ve requested that all the sites giving them away remove them from their shelves and I’ll soon be selling exclusively through Amazon again for $3.99 a book, at least for the near future.

I’m looking forward to writing for profit again, whether I make a lot of money with it or not. And I’m looking forward to releasing my next book, which I hope will be done very soon. But I don’t like how long it’s taken, and I don’t like that I’ve made fans wait so long in between projects, so I’m starting up something new today for the fans who want to take the plunge, a series of shorter-term projects.

From now on, I’m going to write a new short story every month. On the first of every month I’m going to send them out exclusively to people who sponsor me on Patreon. If you’ve never heard of Patreon, it’s a website where you can sponsor artists either per project or (in my case) per month. You’ll commit to donate a dollar a month (or more, if you want some of the bigger perks), and I’ll commit to deliver a new short story to you every month. It’s a bit like crowd-funding except instead of supporting a specific project, you’re supporting an artist and his/her work in general.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the first story, which I’ll be releasing December 1st. It’s an absurd, comedic sci-fi thriller about a bald accountant who gets a hair transplant that threatens to murder him and everyone around him. I’m going to use these stories to experiment with weird ideas, to try out different writing styles or characters I might be interested in using in something else, and in general just to have some fun with. When I get enough of them that I like and that seem to fit together nicely, I’ll put them in anthologies. But a lot of them, I think, will probably remain solely for the people who want to donate on Patreon.

Here’s a snippet from next month’s story:

He sat in his office spinning a holographic cube in circles and waiting for clients, going through the motions with a hundred tax returns, asking the dumbest questions a person ever had to ask.

Have you imported goods from other planets and sold them to neighboring countries via the Internet?

Have you purchased farmland on neighboring planets, moons, or space stations and used them to raise livestock, bearing in mind that adopted children can be classified as livestock?

Have you acquired any commission-based income resulting from extraterrestrial sex trade?

No, no, and no.

No one ever says yes to the space-pimp question.

Thousands of stupid tax breaks and loopholes, thousands of ridiculous questions. Thousands of manipulations of digital cubes and diagrams, plugging in data and running equations on a top-tier desktop holo-processor, just to send everything to an inkjet printer and post it snail-mail to D.C. because bureaucracy was still medieval and politicians were still figuring out email. If there was one job machines would never replace, it was dealing government dipshits.

If you want to read the rest of this story on December 1st, click this link to come BACK ME ON PATREON. I’ve also got bigger rewards available for people willing to donate a little more, such as access to a production journal where I’ll be giving little tastes of major upcoming projects, and even opportunities for advance copies of new books, autographed paperbacks, and characters named after you.

This is my new little fan club. I hope I’ve got some enthusiastic people who want to be part of it. It’s where I’m going to share all of the best stuff I’m working on from now on.

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I Gave Away Free Books for a Year. Here’s What I Learned.

I haven’t posted on this blog since December of last year (sorry about that). That post was one I had started drafting in July. It dealt with something that had been bothering me for months even then.

For almost as long as I’d been releasing books there was a thought that haunted me. I’d been selling them exclusively through Amazon and making a small amount of money. Amazon allowed me five days out of every 90 to give them away for free and about 97% of my downloads were taking place on those free days. I was terrified that the $2.99 price tag was keeping away thousands of people who might otherwise want to read my work. I asked myself whether I cared more about making money or about getting my writing out there and I decided it was more important that people read the books. The way writers always say “I don’t do this for the money,” I said to myself, “You know what, I mean that.” So I made everything free.

I had told myself I’d do this for a year and then reevaluate. I knew it might be a slow build, but it made sense to me that readers would be more likely to try a book on a whim if it was free and they’d be more comfortable recommending it to others as well. I thought it would snowball over time. If the downloads increased by a few percent each month, maybe I’d start to find a much larger fan base by the end of the year.

I needed to know. If the money I was making was made by preventing most readers from checking out my work, I thought I’d rather not have that money.

It was a slow build, but things looked good for a while. My downloads escalated slowly, but they were escalating every month. Once in a while I got a new review, or someone added me on Facebook and told me they loved one of the books. I was gaining new fans, maybe not at an incredible rate, maybe not even as fast as before, but the momentum seemed to be building whereas with Amazon it had been falling.

Then I got caught up in other work. I moved back to the US from China and had to find a day job. My computer broke down and I worked with a backup for four months that was falling apart. I was broke, and more focused on finding work than on keeping track of book downloads. In the computer crash, I’d lost access to an important spreadsheet keeping track of monthly book downloads. I could have rebuilt it, but I didn’t care. I was busy with stuff that might make me money. I didn’t care much how my books were doing. I stopped giving it much thought. The buildup of downloads was happening slowly anyway. I doubted I was missing much.

This week I finally fixed my computer. I updated that old spreadsheet to look at what my downloads had been doing for the four months since I stopped paying attention and it’s clear as day. In 2012 I had almost 40,000 books downloaded. In 2013 I had about 20,000. In 2014 I will be lucky to hit 5,000. Those numbers are a little dishonest because I also worked a lot harder at promoting in 2012 and 2013, and I might be okay with 5,000 if the numbers were still climbing each month with no end in sight, but my downloads peaked back in July. Now they’re falling a little, or balancing out. I will not gain a larger readership by giving my work away free to anyone interested. Quite the opposite. More people want my books when they cost money than when they’re free.

I don’t know why that is. Maybe not many people read the books they download for free, or maybe there’s less perceived value on a book that the author gives away. Personally I think it’s just that Amazon is a powerful company and gives major help to indie writers who go exclusively through them. But one way or the other it’s a happy thought. I had spent over a year thinking about how to make money as a writer without charging for my books. I had ideas about crowd-funding, about special offers for readers willing to pay… I was obsessed with figuring it out. But, at least for now, it’s a non-issue. I can give out more copies of my books by making money off of them than I can by giving them away, and that’s good news, because even if writing isn’t about the money, I do love money.

I hope this will carry with it a shift in perspective, too. A year ago, writing for profit had become something I hated doing. Too often it felt like it was more about sales than about art and as much as I liked writing books, I hated trying to be a salesman for them. But with the downward shift in both downloads and income, this year hasn’t been gratifying on that front either. I wanted to put out at least two new books and a movie this year and it didn’t happen. I have to blame a shift in motivation for that.

It’s been a hard year, with an international move, a difficult job search, and a bunch of other stresses. Maybe my productivity has slowed down entirely due to outside forces in that horrible “real world” where the non-artists live; or it maybe it’s related to a lack of downloads for the free books; or maybe, subconsciously, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I do kinda do it for the money. A little bit. I mean, just a little. Maybe.

So I’m about to go back to selling exclusively through Amazon. And the books will cost a few bucks and every once in a while they’ll be free for a day or two. And more people will probably read them. And I’ll probably make more money. And, hopefully, between all of those things, I’ll be writing my ass off. It seems that what’s best for my bank account is also best for my readership and there’s no need to decide between the two. That’s some of the best writing news I could get.

I’ll try never to neglect this blog for so long again. New stuff is coming. I have a new horror novel that’s almost done and a screenplay I’m dying to start producing, and I’m looking forward to the day I can tell you all about them. In the meantime, as always, feel free to send a request to my personal Facebook page if you want.

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I Just Made All My Books Free Indefinitely — Here’s Why.

I announced in a recent post that I would soon be giving all of my books away for free. I wanted to get them available before I got into the details of why I’ve decided to do this. As of now, you can get all of them for free on Kobo at this link, and I’m working on getting them on Smashwords shortly. The Amazon prices have been reduced to the minimum price ($0.99 USD), and I hope Amazon will make them free soon, but that’s in their hands (typically when they see a book free elsewhere, they make it free themselves pretty quick). In the meantime, if you want a free book in Kindle format, just email me (GregSisco@GregSisco.com) and I’ll happily send one to you.

Okay, so here’s why I’m doing this. To understand, you have to know a little bit about me as a writer, as a filmmaker, and as a person. We’ll begin with how I came to self-publishing.

WHY I WRITE NOVELS

I always fancied myself a filmmaker. I love storytelling in all its forms but the high I get on a movie set beats the hell out of everything else in life. That’s me. As far as I can see, no matter how much time I spend on movie sets, when I die, my regret is going to be that it wasn’t more.

The issue is it’s a difficult industry to crack. You’re always seeking approval. You have to spill your guts to make an independent film. In my case I broke my bank account on both films I made, I poured my lifeblood into them, I bled and sweated and cried and I made movies I was enormously proud of; and then fifty film festivals said, “Meh. We’ll pass.” That’s heartbreaking, because I loved those movies more than anything and I couldn’t get them in front of audiences.

I came to novels because there was no gatekeeper in this industry anymore. Tides have shifted and a self-published author pays little to no overhead and gets a shot at having his/her work take off in a big way. That’s extraordinary. And I love it.

I had two goals in writing novels. The first was to build up a source of passive income that would eliminate my need for a day job so that I could indulge my creative side full time. To do that, I moved to countries with low overheads. I stopped spending money on things I didn’t need. I reduced my cost of living as far as I could, to a few hundred bucks a month.

The second goal, the bigger goal—to which I’ve alluded on this blog but which I’m not sure I’ve ever stated outright—was to build up esteem for myself and for these stories so that I could raise interest and funds in order to adapt them to film, and to make other films. I like writing novels. I will continue to do so. But I have a need to make films.

Ever since I published Thicker Than Water two years ago I have been working toward these goals. I am clawing my way toward them, but I am doing so very slowly.

For months now I’ve wrestled with a really difficult decision, and I’ve recently made up my mind. So now I’m taking the gamble. I’m trying something drastic, perhaps foolish, and I’m crossing my fingers as I do it. I’m making all my hard work of the past few years free. I’m no longer taking a profit for writing.

Here’s why:

1. I WANT MY BOOKS READ

Until today, my books have always been Kindle exclusives. Each time I agree to 90 days of exclusivity on Amazon, they allow me 5 of those 90 days to give my book away free. In all honesty, the days when I’ve done this have often been the most exciting days of my life for the past two years. Especially when the promotions go well, I don’t even want to leave my apartment to go get lunch because all I can think about is all the people downloading my writing.

I made over $200 in one day in 2012, selling 100 books the day immediately following a free giveaway. It was exhilarating. But the fact is I was even more exhilarated the day before when I gave 6,000 copies away for free in a single day. SIX THOUSAND COPIES! If I’d been diagnosed with testicular cancer the next day, it still would have balanced out to be a pretty happy week.

One-Night Stan’smy favorite novel I have written, has sold (as in people paid money for) about 250 copies to date. Around 10,000 have been downloaded for free. In fact, on my least successful free promotion of that book, I gave away 58 copies. That’s 20% of the number that have been sold in total, to date. If I could average that for a year, I’d give out 25,000 books, make contact with 25,000 potential fans.

And that’s what I love. The small amount of money I make as a writer is nice, but the fact that people all over the world have copies of my books that they are reading or thinking about reading… that’s heaven to me. That’s bliss.

But I worry. I worry about the fact that for every one person who buys the book, 100 others might have been willing to give it a look if I’d let them read it for free. I don’t want that barrier. If somebody wants to read my book, I want that person to read my book. I don’t care about the goddamn $2. Just read my book. Laugh. Have fun with it. Show it to your friend. Tell your brother about that sentence that made you laugh.

Because, well… in my case… here’s the thing:

2. I AM A FILMMAKER

I didn’t do this to be a celebrated novelist. That’s lovely, and I’ll take it if I can get it, but I did it because I want you to fall in love with the stories so that you can help me make them into movies. I wrote them because I wanted you to love reading them. I want a small sliver of the world to love them enough that somebody will pay attention next time I have a movie finished, so I don’t have to have my heart broken again.

I don’t have a hometown. I don’t even have a home country. I’ve never stepped off an airplane and felt ‘home.’ My home is on a movie set. And I’ve been away too long. I need to get back. (And I will, next summer, but I’ll tell you about that a little later).

To reiterate, none of this means I’m giving up writing novels. That won’t happen. But I think I’ve put too much focus into the “business” of writing books when books for me were meant to be more of a stepping stone. Or a weapon, even. A big, pointy, steel-toe boot to get my foot in the door.

If filmmaking is my destination, I do not want to waste years away trying to prove myself as a novelist to get there. Not if I can do it faster by sacrificing a couple hundred dollars a month in royalty checks.

The big problem with me and self-publishing is this:

3. I AM A SHITTY BUSINESSMAN

I got involved on Twitter solely to sell my books. I barely tweet at all. I hate myself there. I tried to sell my books in forums and Facebook groups with other readers and writers and I hated myself there too. I hate myself because I feel like a prostitute trying to sell myself to readers on a street corner. “Hey, sexy, you like vampires? Got three bucks?”

I don’t like asking people for money in general. But I especially don’t like standing in the public square shouting “Give me money!” at any stranger who will listen, and even less so when most of the strangers I’m shouting at are shouting the same thing back at me. I know it’s how the whole business of self-publishing works today, but I dislike it. That said, I’m a lot more comfortable handing somebody something free and saying, “Pass it around if you like it.”

I hate hustling. It’s why I transitioned to novels to begin with. I hated begging film festivals and distributors to help me, only to be shot down repeatedly. But I also hate it when it comes to chasing bloggers and websites and begging them for help. I just want to create. I just want to tell stories. I don’t want to be a businessman. And I’ve decided, at least where my books are concerned, maybe I just won’t be.

WRITING FOR TIPS

Right now I’m rushing to get my books available on every site I can. No more Amazon exclusives. I’m putting them up everywhere and at the minimum price, particularly where it’s zero. Even the cost of physical books will soon be lowered to the cost of on-demand publishing. You’ll pay the publisher and the delivery company, but you won’t pay me.

I have, however, added a note to the back of each book. In so many words, it says this:

“I don’t take a profit on my books. If you liked this one, please read another. Recommend it to somebody. Post a review. Friend me on Facebook. If you feel the experience of reading it was worth money, I would be humbled by any donation of whatever you can spare, or whatever you think the experience was worth.”

In the future, I may or may not utilize crowdfunding for the writing of new books. I may raise money so I can afford to pay for cover art, proofreading, and so I can afford time off work to write harder and faster. That way I can continue to offer everything for free. I can entertain you, and I can entertain myself, and I can work for tips.

I’m a realist. I know most people who download a free book won’t leave a tip—it’s unusual and not how the system works right now. I know I’ll probably make a lot less money this way. But if the money I’m making now is money I’m making by preventing thousands of people from reading my book who might otherwise love it, you know what, fuck that money. I’m not so terrified of a day job or some freelance online work that I want to hide my lifeblood from fans who don’t know they’re fans yet.

Every writer says this, but I mean it, and I think it’s easy to forget it: the money was never the reason I wanted to do this. I just wanted to tell stories I liked, and I hoped other people would like them too, and I hoped maybe they’d help me make more.

This plan may not last. It may prove not to be sustainable. Maybe nobody reads books they download for free. Maybe people will stop downloading them after two weeks and I’ll be completely forgotten. Maybe people will think no writer worth his salt would give his work away for free. Maybe I’ll chalk it up to a failed experiment and go back to the grind of traditional sales. Maybe this. Maybe that.

But I really hope it works. I really, really hope.

The bottom line is this: I wrote my books to be read, not sold. They’re art, not products. And I am confident I have created some work that a lot of people out there would love, if I could just get it to them. And there’s this feeling I have—one of those gut feelings—that if I just make this stuff as readily available as possible, as easy as I can make it for anyone on Earth to consume, then, somehow, everything’s just going to work out.

So this is my new adventure. For me, I think it might be the key to the life I want.

Thanks for being a fan. I’ll be back with a new book soon. And I’ll give it to you for free because I want you to read it. And you can add it straight to a torrent site for all I care because I just want it damn well read.

If you can’t tell, while all this makes me a little nervous, I feel really, really good about it.

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Good News and Bad News – What I’m Up To

Hi guys. Just wanted to drop a quick update in here to tell you what I’ve got coming over the next year or so (hit the jump for a timeline). Good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad and keep it short.

BAD NEWS

I really wanted to release my next novel In Nightmares We’re Alone by the end of the year, but I’ve been so busy with multiple projects and boring non-creative things that it’s going to be put off for a bit. More on that in a minute.

GOOD NEWS

I spent November doing the NaNoWriMo thing and now have a first draft for a new novel, tentatively titled This Lonely World, so I’m now sitting on a second first draft in addition to In Nightmares We’re Alone. One or the other will be released early next year, depending on which one I feel more like going back to work on when I’ve got some time in January.

I say that because December is for another project. I’m currently at work on the second draft of a screenplay that will become my next film as director. At the end of March, my lease in China is up and I’ll more than likely be heading straight back to the States to crowdfund this project. There’s a lot more information on that coming, but I’m going to try to keep my cards pretty close to my chest until the campaign starts, at which point I’ll reveal everything all at once. For now, all I’ll say is it’s either horror or extremely dark comedy (or sick and disgusting filth) depending on your tastes, it’s set in L.A., and I’ve got a lead actor attached who’s going to nail it.

In between the two novels, and hopefully before production kicks off on the film, I’m going to try to get to Blood Brothers 3, since I know a lot of you are waiting for that. I hope that’s manageable, and that I can release it in the spring just before jumping into movie production, but we’ll see how things play out.

And, of course, as I mentioned in a recent post, all of these books are going to be released for free. I’m not chasing money for my books anymore, at least for a while, because I’d rather have them widely read and make no money than have a couple of them read and make enough to buy lunch once in a while. All my current books will be free soon—certainly by Christmas, but hopefully before. (As to whether the movie will be free, I don’t know yet. That’s a decision for much later.)

Whew. Okay. So here’s a handy but extremely tentative timeline:

December 2013: All current books go free.
February 2014: Release of In Nightmares We’re Alone.
April 2014: Release of Blood Brothers 3.
May 2014: Production begins on (Movie Title Withheld).
August 2014: Production finishes on (Movie Title Withheld).
October 2014: Release of This Lonely World.

That’s all for today. Now come be my friend on Facebook.

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Space Monster interviews Greg Sisco about Miley Cyrus

Space Monster - Sisco's shitty rendition

Space Monster – Sisco’s shitty rendition

The human they call Greg is enormously tall for its species, measuring just under nine galactic clicks (7.64 universal clicks), but it is puny and frail in spite of this, even in comparison to its peers. After a perfectly executed abduction, the human scurries freakishly about the chamber for some time. Its panic level jumps when I offer to shoot it with a fear-control gun, and the panic spikes when I fire the first dart into its throat. It takes seven darts, two of them to the face, before the beast’s panic-level finally subsides and it agrees to be interviewed.

Space Monster (SM): Hello, Greg. Thank you for sitting down with me.

Greg Sisco (GS): No problem, Space Monster. This is cool. This place is classy.

SM: You come from a violent and fearful species. Why do you hate yourselves?

GS: Well, I can only speak personally. It mostly has to do with my cowardice when it comes to standing up for things I believe in. And talking to women. That too. Just general cowardice. About most things, really.

SM: You are speaking strictly about individual self-judgment. The question was in regards to a species turning hatred on itself. Are you unaware you are all one being?

GS: Oh. Oh… Well… Largely, yes. Except when we’re on LSD, I think, but I’ve never tried that. I think maybe we hate other humans when we feel like they’re infringing on our ability to do the things we want as individuals.

SM: Perhaps you can explain to me why anger is turned on the most hated of individual humans.

GS: Uh… Okay. Is that… Do you mean Hitler, or…?

SM: The human they call Miley.

GS: …Oh. Oh… So the… Oh. Okay. Um…

SM: Are you familiar with the human they call Miley?

GS: Yeah. Well, I mean… Well… Yeah. Like, vaguely. I mean, I… Hm. This is going to be difficult.

SM: Our studies have indicated that humans within your age bracket harbor hatred for Miley to the largest degree.

GS: That right? Hm. That’s… interesting.

SM: What did Miley do to become hated?

GS: Well… Okay. So there’s this thing called the entertainment business. And one thing people in this business do is they sing songs. Singing is, like… they make sounds with their voice like-

(The human gives a shrill cry, as though in defense.)

GS: -well, I can’t really do it. But, like, when it’s done well, it’s pleasant to hear. People really enjoy it.

The one they call Miley, making Earth humans think about the reproductive act.

SM: We are familiar with this habit based on your television programming. It seems these so-called pop singers are the most celebrated and condemned of the human species, correct?

GS: Uh… If you say so. Anyway, Miley does that. And she also did it when she was younger. And when she was younger she did it in a way that was sort of cute and innocent, but then now that she’s an adult, it’s like… she doesn’t wear so many clothes and, like, makes people think about sex or whatever.

SM: I see. The members of my species are also appalled by the horrors of the reproductive act. When my species mates, the male turns inside out at the peak of intercourse and dies in agony. The younglings hatch from within the womb of the female and feed on her from the inside. What horrors does your species endure?

GS: Wow, that’s… that’s awful. No, we actually, um… We just… It basically just feels really… really good. Um… yeah. Like really good. And then… I don’t know. (laughs awkwardly) Yeah, it feels really good and then you… like… go on with your day. Or go to bed… smoke a cigarette or whatever.

SM: Your species is peculiar in its desire not to be reminded of something pleasant.

GS: Yeah. Um… Well, to be fair, I think we mostly do like to be reminded of it. In fact we actually won’t usually let people be pop stars, or any sort of respected entertainer, unless, um… unless we want to have sex with them.

The one they call Greg, making Earth humans think about the reproductive act.

SM: You contradict yourself. Explain!

GS: Um… Well… The thing is, Miley was famous when she was a kid. Er, uh… a youngling. So… I think a lot of it, maybe, is that people still think of her as a youngling, so… so there’s like a… I don’t know…

SM: But she is no longer a youngling?

GS: No. Right. Well, um… it’s perception and all that, which is… I guess there’s just… animosity as the result of people still seeing her as a youngling.

SM: You mean that you harbor hatred and wish violence upon this human because you perceive her as a youngling? Our disgust deepens! Explain yourself or suffer the consequences!

GS: It’s not me! It’s other people! I don’t care!

SM: You are all one! We have been over this! Explain yourself!

(The human begins blubbering.)

GS: I don’t know! My species sucks! We’re stupid, is that what you want me to say? We never have any idea why we feel the way we do! I don’t know why we hate people for singing, why we can’t just ignore art we think is bad or try to do it better ourselves. I don’t know why we’re so out of touch with each other–er, uh… with ourself! We’re just dumb! We’re a bunch of barely-developed barbarians throwing rocks at each other for the hell of it. We unite better by hatred than by love. We’re fucked up! You can’t ask me to be the mouthpiece for the whole species and expect me to help you make sense of us. I am us and we don’t even make sense to me. We’re young and stupid and I don’t know if we’re going to get better. We’re toddlers with slingshots and M-90s, all of us!

(The human becomes so hysterical I am forced to shoot it with several anti-depressant darts and several anti-fear darts to return it to clarity. As it has alluded to in this interview, they are indeed an out-of-control species where emotions are concerned.)

SM: It is okay. All species must develop. A few short millennia ago the members of my own species organized ourselves into tribes and murdered those in other groups for personal gain.

GS: Right. Yeah, we do that all the time. That’s, like, practically the only thing we do, actually.

SM: You are doomed.

GS: I figured.

SM: Thank you for your interview.

GS: Thanks for having me. Can I move to your planet?

SM: Absolutely not. You will poison us with your ignorant hatred.

GS: Well fuck you then.

I dump the human on his face outside a bar in the region called China where I found it. There is nothing to be gained from this species. My search for intelligent life continues.

-Space Monster

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Good News: I’m (Semi)-Retiring from Writing for Profit

Before you panic, let me just say that when I write “Good News” in that headline, I’m not being sarcastic.

Here’s the thing. I’m starting to feel like you have to be full of shit to promote your work as an artist, and you have to be stupid not to. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about that.

I started writing professionally two years ago. Before Thicker Than Water, it was something I did for fun, something I dreamed of making a living at. After I turned to self-publishing, it became more of an attempted career.

I pretty much approached it the way everybody else who was doing it told me to. They said to have a blog, so I did. They said to get a Facebook fan page, so I did. They said to join indie writer forums, so I did. They said to tweet. They said to join GoodReads. They said to cross-promote with other indie writers. I did, I did, I did.

It took about a year for me to come to a realization: “I hate all this shit.”

In creating this sort of “public persona” it’s hard not to be completely phony. If you’re presenting yourself on a forum and you’re only there to whore your work, for me at least, it’s almost impossible to do it with any level of dignity and honesty. When I say “follow me and I’ll follow you back,” neither of us is actually getting anything worthwhile out of the transaction. I’m just saying “I’m gonna spam you and you spam me and it’ll be okay because we’re both assholes. ‘Kay? ‘Kay!”

I didn’t like being that asshole from day one. But it took a little while before I couldn’t be that asshole anymore.

A year ago, when I moved to China and took a day job, I all but stopped promoting. I quit tweeting, only hung around one Facebook group I actually like, stopped seeking out promotional tie-ins with other authors. And something really obvious happened: My sales tanked. My last two books have done next to nothing in comparison to my first two.

I love writing. I love working out a story and playing with words. I love seeing the number of downloads on a published novel count up. I love hearing from people who connected with what I wrote. What I don’t love–what I’ve come to actively dislike–is writing for profit.

Don’t get me wrong, I like profit. Money’s one of my favorite things. But there’s too much bullshit that comes with selling artwork, especially your own. I don’t want to be that fake, phony guy singing the praises of his own books and screaming, “Give me some money and I’ll let you bask in my genius.” I want that to be what fans do. All I want to do is try to dream stuff up worth screaming about. I think I’m capable of stuff good enough, but I don’t have the platform to get it to people without running around cyberspace yelling like an idiot.

So I have a new idea of how to publish my work. In short, it involves two steps.

STEP ONE: ELIMINATE ALL THE BULLSHIT ARMS-LENGTH PROFILES.

You don’t need to follow me on Twitter where my sole objective is to sell books. You don’t need to ‘like’ my Facebook fan page that exists for reasons I’m not even entirely sure of myself. Instead of creating a public persona, I’d rather just invite you into my actual life. If you like my work, come send a friend request to my actual Facebook page. Let’s have a friendly connection, not just a “salesman-customer” one.

STEP TWO: ELIMINATE THE STICKER PRICE.

In the near future, I’ll be putting my books up on a few new sites and changing the sale price to zero (or as close as each site allows). I’ll politely ask for donations if you think it’s worthy and you can spare some change, but the profit can’t be the point or it kills the fun for me. No more admission fees. I’m going to get into this in more detail in a future post (or several, probably) but that’s the gist of it.

It’s going to take a bit of time for me to roll this out, especially being that I’m pretty swamped with non-writing work as well as being in the middle of a bunch of major projects and I’ve got very little spare time.

This is a bit of an experiment. I don’t know how long it will go on for. I hope it will be for quite a while. There may come a time when I feel it’s not right for me anymore, but right now it’s what I want to try.

My next book will more than likely be a horror novel called In Nightmares We’re Alone. It’ll be free.

And again, if you’re not already, come be my friend on Facebook. Not my customer. My friend.

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The Kind of Subtle Nightmares I Have

Last night, I was a young boy. I was at some house in the countryside. Some quiet little place in the middle of nowhere. In the dream, I knew the place. In reality, I don’t.

I was there visiting relatives, I guess, which is odd because in real life I don’t really know my relatives outside of my so-called nuclear family. But the people in the dream, I guess they were were uncles and aunts and cousins and everything and we all got on fine. Except for one little boy.

He was about three or four years old by the look of him, but he was as well spoken as any adult. He was small and frail and his face was always blank, emotionless. He gave the quiet impression that he didn’t want us here. Not for long, anyway. He was my cousin, I guess, but he didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the family. He was the only redhead, for one thing. He didn’t seem cut from the same genetic material. Maybe he was adopted. Either way, he always referred to the house as being his.

He seemed kind enough, for the most part. He told me I was welcome in his home. He told me he was happy to have me there. He told me I could stay for two days. Two. He was very clear about that, should I get any ideas about staying longer.

I ventured out with siblings and cousins to get lunch, everybody breaking off into groups. The boy in question followed me and stayed quiet all the while. I wished he’d find somebody else to follow around, but I didn’t want to upset him by telling him so. He seemed fond of me, in a distant sort of way.

At dark we had a bonfire, and after having disappeared for a while, the boy returned with burns up and down his arms. I asked him what happened and whether he was okay. He said it happens sometimes, just the way his skin is. I tried to approach him to look at the wounds and he backed me off. He said, “If you touch it, you’ll burn.”

His mother gave me a silent glance, seemed to tell me, Yes, it’s true.

Later when I was going to bed, I asked the boy, “Why will I burn if I touch you?”

He said, “It’s just the way it is. Same thing if you stay more than two days.”

That’s when I woke up from the dream within the dream (now awake in Dream Layer 1 instead of Dream Layer 2). In Dream Layer 1, I was in a hotel, halfway through one of the many road trips my family used to take when I was a child. I was maybe twelve years old in this world. I told my family about the weird, creepy dream I’d had.

In Dream Layer 1 I knew all the people I’d seen in Dream Layer 2, these aunts and uncles and cousins, even though outside of the dream they don’t exist. I knew the house too, though it’s not real either. It was my aunt’s house, and in Dream Layer 1, about two years earlier, we’d visited the place and hung out with a lot of extended family there, all those same people from the dream. It had been a good time.

How long had we stayed? Well, if memory served, it was two days.

One little difference though: Now awake in Dream Layer 1, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember ever having seen that little redheaded boy before. He, it seemed, was an invention of my subconscious. Why he’d needed to be invented, who knew.

Nobody was worried about the dream because, hey, it was just a stupid dream. But my dad brought to light a weird coincidence. He told me that while he hadn’t mentioned it to us yet, on this road trip we were progressing through, we were going to go to that same house and meet those cousins again for a while.

This time, he told me, we’d be staying a whole week.

I like when I get dreams like that — with a beginning, a middle, and an end. With false awakenings and cliffhangers. Most dreams are boring to retell, but once in a while your mind puts one together nicely.

My next novel, In Nightmares We’re Alone, tells three interconnected stories, each based on a nightmare I’ve had. This isn’t one of them, but the ones I’m using are pretty good too.

In Nightmares We’re Alone may not be out by Halloween, but it’ll be out by the end of the year. I promise.

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“Gunslinger, P.I.” Debuts at #1 in Private Investigator Mysteries

 

Gunslinger PI novel cover

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my new novel Gunslinger, P.I. yet, you still have until 11:59 PM on July 13 to do so.

The novel made its debut yesterday and has already reached a rank of #1 in the Private Investigators subgenre, as well as #3 in the genre of Humor.

I would like to thank everyone who has shared and tweeted about the book, and I would like to extend a special thanks to Freebooksy for featuring Gunslinger, P.I. on their page.

To all of you who have picked up copies, I appreciate your interest enormously. I hope you enjoy the book. I hope you’ll also consider posting a review on Amazon, as it is a huge help in the early days of a novel’s release.

After the free promotion ends on July 13, I’ll be selling copies of the book at the discounted price of $.99 for several more days, so if you’re reading this late, I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy.

Thanks again to all my friends and fans out there.

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Free Novel Release on July 11

Gunslinger PI novel cover

Hey, you. Want a free novel? Are you reading this before July 11? You are? Good news! (If you’re not, tough shit I guess.)

My latest novel, Gunslinger, P.I. (awesome cover by Cody Sims pictured to the left) will release July 11 exclusively for Kindle, and I’ve decided to try an experiment and release it for free for the first three days. So from July 11-13Gunslinger, P.I. will be available to download for free on Amazon.

I’ve discussed this novel at length on this blog before, and I’ve mentioned that it’s an updated version of an independent film I made when I was 18, and I’ve even read a chapter of it on video in my best cowboy voice. Today I thought I’d debut the official product description. Here it is:

A PRESENT-DAY WESTERN DETECTIVE STORY WITH VIOLENCE, SEX, AND A TALKING CAR

His name is Garret Gallagher, but don’t call him that or he’ll shoot you in a particularly uncomfortable appendage. Every thug and criminal in Scud City knows him as Gunslinger. They say he traveled through time from the Old West. They say he drives a talking car. They say for five grand he can solve any murder in forty-eight hours.

As it happens, everything they say is true.

Gunslinger, P.I. lays out five days in Gunslinger’s life. Hired by an allegedly Irish gangster to investigate a particularly suspicious murder, Gunslinger navigates a rocky relationship with his talking car girlfriend, lusts over a foul-mouthed femme fatale, butts heads with a twenty-first century cowboy wannabe, plays Russian Roulette with an idiot, and seeks out revenge on anyone who lies to him – which happens to be pretty much everybody.

A darkly comic murder mystery at its heart, Gunslinger, P.I. blends Western and noir with touches of fantasy, science fiction, and romance for a one-of-a-kind, mile-a-minute ride at the hands of a crass, madman antihero with no regard for the reader’s comfort level.

Gunslinger, P.I. will be released July 11, and will be free from then until July 13. To make sure you don’t miss it, ‘like’ my Facebook page.

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“Gunslinger, P.I.” – Coming in July

lForgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last blog post.

I’ve not gone anywhere. I’ve been teaching English to the Chinese and pounding away at a laptop keyboard in whatever spare time I can find. A few big new projects are in the works, but the biggest (or next, at least) is my new novel, Gunslinger, P.I.

I talked about this project in quite a bit of detail in my last post in February (in short, a cowboy from the past solves crimes with his talking car girlfriend), but I’m happy to say that as of a few days ago, it’s finished and ready for publication. I’m hoping to give it as big a launch as I can, so I’m holding off for a few weeks until I’m less tied up with other work, but I’m aiming to release in the second week of July.

I could paste the first chapter here and give you a little taste, but perhaps more fun than that would be this goofy little webcam reading I did in a cowboy voice just for the hell of it. Enjoy:

Gunslinger, P.I. will be available exclusively for Kindle in the second week of July. Watch for a cover image sometime in June. And, as always, for all the most immediate updates, like my Facebook fan page.

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