Tag Archives: Shock Totem Digital

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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Announcing the Shock Totem Holiday Series…

Shock Totem Publications is proud to announce a new holiday series of books.

Back in 2011 we released something a little different: Shock Totem: Holiday Tales of the Macabre and Twisted 2011. It featured fiction from Shock Totem Publications staff members as well as the wonderful and insanely prolific Kevin J. Anderson, all based on the end-of-the-year holiday season. It also included anecdotal nonfiction pieces from a wide variety of authors.


Our sharpest cover to date. Ba-doom tssh! I’ll be here all week, folks.

The release was a hit. It sold well and continues to do so. But it was only released as an e-book, and since then many of you have asked for a print version. That is finally coming in late November.

Looking beyond that, we have a Valentine’s Day issue planned for late January 2014 and a Halloween issue planned for October 2014.


This is a cover mock-up. Listed authors are subject to change.

As with the first holiday issue, these releases will feature fiction based on their specific holiday themes. Nonfiction will come from not only authors but the artists and publishers whose talent and contributions to this field are all too often overlooked.

Look for the print version of the debut holiday issue in late November (or download it now), followed by the Valentine’s Day issue in late January 2014 and the Halloween issue in October.

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Shock Totem #7—Now Available!

Shock Totem Publications is very happy to announce that our seventh issue is available for purchase!


“I see the bad moon rising. I see trouble on the way.”

Shock Totem steamrolls ahead with its seventh issue, featuring tales of classic horror, creature features, heartbreak and loss!

The legendary William F. Nolan offers up “The Horror That Et My Pap–and Other Swamp Stuff,” a tale the likes of which you have never read before. S. Clayton Rhodes delivers “The Gates of Emile Plimpkin: The Gravedigger’s Legacy,” a novelette that veritably oozes horror borne of the 1800s. Damien Angelica Walters (formerly Damien Walters Grintalis) gives us the heartbreaking “Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” And M. Bennardo supplies this issue’s creature-feature with “Thing In a Bag.”

Newcomers are front and center, beginning with the one-two punch of “Consumption” and “Among the Elephants,” by Victoria Jakes and Amberle L. Husbands, respectively. In “The Long Road,” Kristi DeMeester leads us to the water’s dark edge and tempts us to drink deep, drink long, because we are so very thirsty. Rounding things out is Dominik Parisien’s excellent poem, “Smoking, The Old Sergeant Remembers 30 Mins Past Ceasefire.”

In addition to all the great fiction, you will find conversations with literary stalwart Laird Barron and Violet LeVoit. The early 70s are explored in the fifth installment of the horror-in-music serial, “Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes.” Narrative nonfiction is handled by Kurt Newton, and with “The Hook, the Hole, and the Garden,” John Boden delivers possibly the most heart-wrenching piece of nonfiction ever published in Shock Totem.

Come see why Shock Totem is billed as “…one of the strongest horror fiction magazines on the market today” (Hellnotes).

Currently the print issue can be purchased via our webstore or Amazon. More online retailers will follow in the coming days and weeks. Kindle owners can order the digital copy here.

Interested in our back catalog? All past issues are still available digitally and in print and can be ordered directly from us or through Amazon and other online retailers

As always, thank you for the support!

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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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Shock Totem #5—Now Available!

Shock Totem Publications is very happy to announce that our long-awaited fifth issue is available for purchase!

This issue of Shock Totem is yet another eclectic mix of horror fiction and nonfiction, featuring previously unpublished stories from the likes of Ari Marmell, Darrell Schweitzer, Joe Mirabello, Mekenzie Larsen, and others. There is also a five-part illustrated microfiction serial, by Kurt Newton, which is something new for us; plus a conversation with horror legend Jack Ketchum, narrative nonfiction by Nick Contor, reviews and more.

The full table of contents is as follows:

* Taking Root: An Editorial, by Mercedes M. Yardley
* In Deepest Silence, by Ari Marmell
* Girl and the Blue Burqa, by D. Thomas Mooers
* Digging in the Dirt: A Conversation with Jack Ketchum, by John Boden
* Hide-and-Seek, by F.J. Bergmann (Poetry)
* Eyes of a Stranger: An Essay, by Nick Contor
* Postmortem, by Kurt Newton
* Jimmy Bunny, by Darrell Schweitzer
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Little Knife Houses, by Jaelithe Ingold (2011 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
* Canon, by Anaea Lay
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 3, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones
* The Catch, by Joe Mirabello
* Three Strikes, by Mekenzie Larsen
* To ‘Bie or Not to ‘Bie, by Sean Eads
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

As of right now, you can order this issue—and past issues, which are all still available—directly from us or through Amazon, in both print ($6.99) and digital ($2.99) formats.

As always, thank you for the support!

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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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The Shock Totem Holiday Issue Gets Some Love

The Shock Totem holiday e-book has been reviewed by Hellnotes and The Crow’s Caw. They dig it!

In general, this issue seems to have gone over well with readers. If you purchased a copy, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Especially in a review on Amazon. The reviews really do help.

And this will help us decide whether or not to do this again next year.

Posted in Alumni News, Magazine Reviews, Reviews, Shock Totem Digital, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Break

On December 1, we will close for our holiday break. We’ll still be around, posting content, but we will not be open for submissions.


[ shameless promotion—click! ]

So if you’ve been meaning to send something in, do so now. Otherwise wait until we reopen on February 1.

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