Tag Archives: Amazon

Toxicity

Having read his collection of flash fiction, They Might Be Demons, I was curious as to what this novel would be like. Max Booth III writes in a very bombastic and somewhat over-the-top style. Sort of like if Masterpiece Theatre was cast with pro wrestlers and performing play versions of Lansdale novels. That kind of madness. So when I was asked if I’d like to review Toxicity, I said sure.

Toxicity is the story of several hapless fuckers. All of them in various miserable situations, all of them shitty but almost likeable.

Maddox Kane is just out of prison and anxious to reconnect with his daughter. His daughter and her boyfriend are busy playing Badlands and trying to stay ahead of the fuzz and hide the bodies. One of her friends, Johnny, has just had his family pull up stakes for greener pastures, after winning the lottery with a ridiculous numeral sequence. Johnny’s crazy mom has revved up her odd obsession with dolls while Dad hides in his basement bunker masturbating to Warcraft, as his obese brother eats Cheetos and watches endless television. Johnny fills the familial void with strange drugs that allow him to see between existences. He meets Jesus—in the form of a fly.

Maddox just keeps tripping from one bad situation to another, each messier and more fucked up than the previous. His dumb-ass brother gets them held hostage by a beastly whore and he keeps missing the calls from his parole officer. And the Goths teach Johnny that throwing grapes at hellhounds can save your tripping ass.

All of that is in here…and much more. It sounds ridiculous when splintered apart, but it works quite well. The storylines meld and part but never compromise the flow of the story. An exercise in fluid pacing and an altar to high octane fun. This is modern noir-cum-bizarro. This is cool.

Available through Post Mortem Press.

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The Importance of (Good) Reviews

How important is a review? In today’s publishing world, especially on Amazon.com and its international sites, a good review (four or five stars) is worth quite a bit. Dozens of them are priceless.

Shock Totem does most of its sales through Amazon, the bulk of which are digital sales. That’s a great thing, particularly for our authors. Readers are their lifeblood. Ours as well, but while readers keep us afloat on a pride level, we need revenue to sustain us for years to come.

We’ve been around for five years and each of our issues costs around $1,500 to produce. They say most businesses take five years to become profitable. Thankfully, we’re almost to the point where we’re paying for each release with profit from sales. Our last issue, Shock Totem #7, cost $236 out of pocket, which is wonderful.

We’d love to get to a point where we’re not only paying for issues with profit but also making money, enough to expand, raise our pay rate.

And that’s why we still need your help.

The debut issue of Shock Totem is our biggest seller. This is typical for every month. On Amazon, where it matters most, our debut has 28 reviews. That’s eleven more than the closest second, which is issue #2, with 17 reviews.

Our latest issue, however, has just two reviews. And we’re having a hell of a time getting review sites to respond to review requests these days. Not sure if there’s so much self-publishing going on that they’re overwhelmed with review material or if we’re so established they don’t think we need reviews; but whatever the reason, the reality is, we do need reviews.

Why? Beside the obvious reasons, Amazon.com, where sales are highest, has a ranking algorithm (among other things) that helps authors and publishers sell books. One of the biggest theories, and it’s a good one, is that the more four- and five-star reviews a book has, the more it is shown to potential buyers.

Again, our debut issue has nearly a dozen more reviews than any of our other issues and it’s our biggest seller. Signs point to Yes, the algorithm is real and that issue is being put in front of more potential readers than our other issues.

So how can you help? By posting reviews of our work. They don’t have to be long or have literary flair; they just need to be honest.

The more our sales increase, the longer we’ll be around. When so many publications are using Kickstarter to fund their projects, we’d like to earn people’s money. So if you’d be so kind, please consider reviewing anything of ours that you have read. We’d be very grateful.

In parting, and this applies not only to our books but any book, please note the difference in ratings between sites.

Three stars on Goodreads is not the same as three stars on Amazon. (There is another theory that any review given with less than four stars on Amazon seriously impacts a book’s rankings—kicks it right into the gutter, in fact. Again, this is a theory, but based on authors’ experience, it’s a good one.) For instance, a two-star review on Goodreads should be a three-star review on Amazon, as both mean it was “okay.” Therefore, a three-star review on Goodreads should be a four-star review on Amazon, which helps the author quite a deal more. Again, in theory.

And finally, thank you! Five years strong. We’ve lost some staff along the way, but we’re still dedicated and committed to the long haul. It’s been a hell of a ride so far. Help us keep the wheels on!

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Kindle Users: Free Shock Totem

This week only we’re running promos on the first five issues of Shock Totem (not including the special holiday issue). Starting today, Kindle users will be able to download issue #1 for free. Tomorrow, issue #2 will be free, Wednesday, issue #3, and so on.


Click the links below to download!

Monday/Tuesday: Shock Totem 1: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Tuesday/Wednesday: Shock Totem 2: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Wednesday/Thursday: Shock Totem 3: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Thursday/Friday: Shock Totem 4: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Friday/Saturday: Shock Totem 5: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted

We ran a similar promo a little over a year ago, and it generated 10,000 downloads. We hope to once again reach thousands of new readers. If you haven’t read all—or any—of our issues, now is the perfect time. If you have, please encourage others to give us a shot.

Thanks!

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One of Our Own Journeys North

We’re very proud to share that our great friend Robert J. Duperre, who also occasionally writes for Shock Totem, has just signed a three-book deal 47North, Amazon’s publishing imprint. The deal is for three books, all to be co-written with fantasy author David Dalglish.

The first book, Dawn of Swords, will be released in January 2014, with Wrath of Lions and Blood of Gods to follow.

Yes, these are fantasy novels, but we read widely here at Shock Totem HQ and are very much looking forward to these books. And you should as well.

If you want to sample some of Duperre’s writing and would rather something a bit closer to horror, check out his four-book Rift series—The Fall, Dead of Winter, Death Springs Eternal, and The Summer Sun. If you don’t want individual books, buy the entire series as a very affordable digital omnibus.

You can also check out The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, which not only features three stories by Duperre, but also a story by Mercedes M. Yardley and yours truly.

You can read more about this deal on Duperre’s blog, The Journal of Always.

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Enter the Gate—Free Admission!

T.R.O. Publishing recently released the second installment of The Gate series, The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, an anthology featuring work from two of Shock Totem’s own—Mercedes M. Yardley (“Black Mary”) and me, K. Allen Wood (“The Candle Eaters”).

You can get the print version for $8.59 or, if you’re a Kindle owner, download it for free. It’ll be available at no cost today and throughout tomorrow.


[ Copyright © 2012 by Jesse David Young ]

In addition, you’ll find work by Daniel Pyle, Steven Pirie, David Dalglish, Robert J. Duperre, and seven others.

So if you’re looking for some great fiction at no cost, check out The Gate 2.

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It’s a Long Way Down

Doing a free promo was a great high, watching the numbers go up and up and up. But the higher you go…

Expected, but the visual is depressing.

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Only Time Will Tell…

As noted in my previous update, we opted to make our digital issues exclusive to the Kindle and lowered the price on a few of them so that they’re all priced at 99 cents. A lot of people dislike the 99-cent price point, suggesting it cheapens the product and conditions buyers to expect that price for all e-books. A valid argument, but it’s something that doesn’t work for us. Not now, at least.

So all digital issues are priced at $0.99. Future issues will likely be priced higher, but not much. For now, though, sales are good. Of course, selling a hundred copies nets $35, so “good” isn’t necessarily monetarily good. But this is about readers, and more readers is what we desperately need.

The digital issues have helped with that. And in an attempt to boost our readership, on Sunday, December 10, we made available for free through Amazon the digital version of our fourth issue. On the surface, it was a great success.

In the span of 24 hours, issue #4 was downloaded 408 times. Sounds fantastic, right? Well, only time will tell. I learned long ago that people love free stuff, but not necessarily for any other reason than it’s free. At conventions, you’ll sell more, in my opinion, if you don’t have a table loaded with free bookmarks, stickers, pins, candy, etc. Just have your product visible and you’ll make more sales.

So the question is, how many of those 408 people will read Shock Totem #4? I am not crazy enough to think they all will, but I’m hopeful enough to think a lot of them will. (Hopefully we see some positive reviews in the future.) If even a dozen read it, enjoy it, and eventually check out more work from our authors or pick up our other issues, then it will have been worth it. But again, time will tell…

We peaked at 587, I believe, on the Free in Kindle Store list. It would have been great to hit the top 100, but we stayed in the top 1,000 nearly the entire 24 hours. Can’t complain about that. But the funniest thing of all, was this:

A once in a lifetime achievement, I’d say. And a fitting one at that.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded issue #4. If you read it, please let us know what you think. I’ll post again on this subject in the future…

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WE ARE 99 CENTS!!

As many of you know, all issues of Shock Totem recently were made available in digital format. As of today, all issues are now just $0.99.

However, I’ve made the decision to make them exclusive to the Kindle. For the time being, at least.

Here’s why…

Amazon recently introduced a program called KDP Select, and it piqued my interest. It made other writers scoff. Essentially, it allows Amazon Prime members one free e-book download per month through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. And those authors/publishers who make their work available exclusively through the Kindle—which we have done—can participate.

So if you have an Amazon Prime account, you now have the option to read any Shock Totem issue for free.

My reasons for doing this are very simple. No, I do not expect us to make a lot of money. Though Amazon entices people with big numbers, that’s simply Marketing 101. What this new program can do for us, is get our issues in front of new readers. And at this point, for Shock Totem, exposure is very important. More important than money, because without new readers we will never be a self-sustaining business.

My budget includes the costs of running Shock Totem Publications. I’d love to use less out-of-pocket money and more money from profits for the cost of our issues, but if that is ever going to change, we need new readers. We need to be seen by people outside of the small press, and this KDP Select will, hopefully, help with that.

We’ll see…

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