The Mad Mind of Author Thomas S. Flowers

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Hook of a Book

If you’ve been in the book writing and publishing biz for more than a minute then you’ve probably discovered that this journey of getting what you dream and scribe into the hands of readers takes more than fancy words. The creative process is but one step down a long road. At one turn you’ll need to edit. And you’ll need to format your work for both eBook and paperback. At another, you’ll need to promote through social media and other venues. Whether you’re pro or con regarding Facebook, Twitter, and all the other outlets does not matter. That is where the people are at. You might also want to think about advertising, either traditionally or through websites and blogs. You’ll need some graphics for those. So…perhaps you’re thinking how daunting this can be. Why isn’t publishing easier? Well, to be frank, publishing IS very easy. Tons of folks do it, but what they publish might not be up to snuff. Editing and formatting issues can turn away readers faster than a pizza disappearing at a Weight Watchers meeting. A boring crap book cover will have potential readers scrolling on to that other guys/gals novel. And the most fundamental headache of all? How are you getting YOUR work in front of people? Not just your friends and family, people you can con into supporting your dream, but actual readers, strangers, folks outside of your social bubble.

Now, you might also be asking at the moment how you’re supposed to find time for all this. Well…some writers fly solo and they work uphill. Some find success in this, some do not. No one in my humble opinion ever works truly alone. Even the loneliest of indie writers has someone they depend on. And some writers reach out to firms to help them on their journey. Hook of a Book is a mom and pop PR service that can help make your publishing goals easier.

Here’s some info about Hook of a Book:

Tim Busbey and Erin Al-Mehairi have a combined 40 years experience in creative writing, copywriting, communications, journalism, publicity, editing (editorial, copy, content, and line), marketing, social media, public relations, and media relations.

Services We Most Likely Offer (though we are all for trying anything new too):

Manuscript Development
Editing (line, developmental, copy)
Publicity/Book Promotion: Marketing or Publicist Duties, Media and Blogger relations, including what we call publicity tours, otherwise  known as virtual book tours, online book tours,  or we also do location book tours (or combine both!)
Media Kits and Packets, including press releases
Social Media
Book signings
Flyers
Book Covers
Advertising
Graphics and Copy for Ads, Social Media, Tours, Bookmarks, Postcards
Self-Publishing Set-Up
E-book Conversion
Print Set-up
Consulting with us: by 1/2 hour or hourly increments
Consulting with a best-selling author

E-mail us at hookofabook@hotmail.com to discuss your needs and budget.

timb

Tim is an award-winning newspaper writer and editor with a never-ending love of using and teaching AP style to unsuspecting young peeps who have yet to master the allure of details, however his fondness seeps over into proper use of the Chicago Manual of Style as well, so whichever one Erin is forgetting at the moment she only needs to look his way. He can most often be found posting grammar rules to social media and laughing hysterically to himself as his Darth Vader gum ball machine looks on in glee. He’s also a creative fiction author, but uses his left brain and right brain in unison many mornings to copy write and edit ads and marketing materials for an assortment of companies. On other mornings, he is helping to manage the minds of young journalists in the newsroom, while trying not to show how excited he is over breaking news. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University.

Connect with him on LinkedIn HERE.

 

 

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Erin has so many interests, abilities, and levels of experience that she is avoiding writing this biography and keeps adding to Tim’s. Probably she should just go to her corner and practice her Yoda origami while simultaneously still running her mouth cracking jokes that keeps Tim in stitches. Already he is proofreading her bio. But if we must be serious, Erin is a lover of words. She likes to write and read and offer advice to others who want to write and read. She likes to see others succeed at their dreams as much as she dreams of her own. With Bachelor of Arts degrees in the several majors of Journalism, English, and History, she’s studied great literature and the meaning behind great writing and writing styles, while within the next hour learning editing and media law. How she did it she doesn’t know, but she also studied history and has a fondness for all time periods. She loves being a journalist, a writer, and an editor most, but has a knack, as well as over a decade experience, for publicity and marketing as her passion is a driving force behind many projects. Erin has spent the last 19 years in the journalism, public relations, advertising, and marketing fields. She is a community activist and an award-winning businesswoman and poet. However, her claim to fame seems to be within her baking skills, at least according to her family.

Connect with her on LinkedIn HERE.


Get Knocked Up!

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Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little what kids call”clickbaity,” but hey…I make no excuses. The world is what it is. Filled with click baits…and fake news sites…and paranoia…and silent conversations over Thanksgiving dinner… (sighs) Well, now that I have you here, assuming you fell for my ingenious trap, I’m more than ecstatic to announce the release of my new book, Conceiving. Now available on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes. This book really does feel like a long time coming, especially when considering that Dwelling and Emerging released back in December 2015, almost a full year ago.  Anyhow, if you’re new to the series and don’t want to spend time catching up by reading the first two books, no worries. Information regarding the first two books is included in this new one without being drab, but only generally. So you know what happens and are not lost in this new book. If you’ve read both Dwelling and Emerging and have been waiting for this new book to release, I bid you welcome home. The real benefit of reading the entire series is the intimacy of getting to know the characters and experiencing why and/or what they are in Conceiving.

Conceiving is a supernatural thriller of which I would humbly compare to the likes of a mashup between Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Old and new readers will follow the somber adventures of Bobby Weeks, one of the major carry overs from the series, and Luna and Ronna Blanche, minor characters in the series that now have larger roles. New characters include Boris and Neville Petry, and yes Neville is a girl.

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The Petry’s are my new favorite. A young couple wanting what most young couples want, a family, a dream home, and dream jobs. I imagined Boris like this “cool” history professor if such a thing can exist. He loves his area of expertise and wants to move up the ranks of his profession and among his peers. Like most academics, he wants to be respected and revered for his work. Neville, on the other hand, I saw as this young college educated woman who doesn’t really believe women need to be  “stay at home” moms or wives, but choices to take on that role. She often compares herself to her mother, but not always positively.

In the fashion of how I typically tell stories, these individuals and groups begin separated, facing their own troubles alone, but there are forces at work pulling them together, inching them toward some cataclysmic event that will shatter their perception of reality and perhaps take more than just their sanity.

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Conceiving is available on Amazon kindle or kindle app. You can get your copy here for the low price of $3.99……..https://goo.gl/4EWzSU

Or if you’re a traditionalist and prefer paperback, you can get your copy here for $15.99…….https://goo.gl/5pTAQ4


Conceiving (Subdue Book 3): Special New Book Announcement Extravaganza

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If you’re subscribed to my newsletter or have been following my feed on Facebook, then you’ve probably already heard the news. The next installment in my growing Subdue Books Series will release next week with Limitless Publishing LLC. This new title is called Conceiving, and in this post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the new story. Before that, though, maybe I should recap what happened in the previous books…without giving away any spoilers for anyone who has not read either Dwelling (Subdue Book 1) or Emerging (Subdue Book 2).  What I’ll be giving then is general information while avoiding major twists and such. And let it be made know, to follow along in Conceiving, you do not have to have read the other books. Okay…let’s begin.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away….

Just joking!

At the beginning of Dwelling, we are introduced to Johnathan and Ricky who are both in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq during the 2006-ish years, basically Operation Iraqi Freedom era. While on guard, Johnathan thinks he sees something…unnatural during a sandstorm. The event is juxtaposed with an actual attack on the Iraqi Police station they were guarding. Johnathan and Ricky’s trunk is hit with an RPG. And…no spoilers here as it is made very abundant in the beginning, Ricky is killed instantly, while Johnathan suffers the loss of a limb. This is how Dwelling opens. From here, we fast forward one year from the attack that claimed Ricky Smith and we are introduced to some other major characters.

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Bobby Weeks (one of my favorite characters), who also served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq War, is now a homeless veteran. He wanders the streets out of necessity, or so he imagines. Bobby believes, due to a particular curse, he has to keep away from those he loves, his family and his friends. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Bobby has a secret, a curse he contracted in Kurdistan when the moon is full he blacks out and wakes the next morning either naked or nearly, and covered in blood and grime. A strange woman finds him in a field and tells Bobby what he is and offers him a place of safety, to keep the beast within him away from the public at large.

Jake Williams is another character we meet. He is a Presbyterian minister with a dark conscience. Like Johnathan, Ricky, and Bobby, Jake also served in the U.S. Army, but not as a combatant. Due to his strict religious observance, Jake was a chaplain’s assistant. Something happened over there, something Jake had witnessed, something strong enough to weigh heavy on his guilt, powerful enough to fracture his faith in God. In the book, Jake struggles with his faith as he fills his religious void with sex. Eventually, his guilt manifests in haunting ways and a soldier he believed dead returned.

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Maggie Smith is our last of the group of childhood friends known as Suicide Squad (I know, the name was picked before the movie made the comic popular again!). Maggie is the widow of Ricky Smith and we get to know her one year following the death of her husband. She’s still on base housing but will be forced to relocate. During her house hunt, she is reminded of one of the summers her childhood friends (Johnathan, Bobby, Jake, and Ricky) had come across an odd old farm house in Jotham, TX. Said house, she discovers, is for sale. Maggie quickly buys the house and moves in almost immediately. This wouldn’t be much of a thriller book if the house was normal, would it? And as such, the House on Oak Lee is anything but normal. She begins to hear things at night, crawling, scratching behind the walls. Then she begins hearing sounds, like footsteps, coming down the hall. Haunting or hallucinations, we do not know, but they are escalating. Fearing she is losing her mind, Maggie writes to her childhood friends, hoping to bring them back together, to visit her at the House on Oak Lee.

The House could certainly be another character. It has a strange history, which is revealed through the chapters with Augustus Westfield. If you enjoy historical fiction, I’ve been told these chapters were the favorite for some. But, most of what happens in the House happens in the next book, Emerging. Since Dwelling and Emerging are so closely related, there is no need for new character introductions. Emerging picks up where Dwelling left off. The once childhood friends, Johnathan (and his wife and step-daughter), Jake, and Bobby reunite in Jotham, Texas at Maggie’s house. Adding to Jake’s fear, Maggie looks…different, strained almost…sickly. Johnathan is struggling to keep his marriage together. Seeing one’s dead best friend talk to you in a public restroom can change a man.

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Bobby agrees to go, but only if Jake promises to take him back to Houston before the next night. There’s a full moon coming and Bobby has no intention of putting his friends in danger. However, none of the others know about Bobby’s curse, and thus, especially with Johnathan, treat him as an eccentric selfish recluse. It has been years since the childhood friends were together. And things don’t smooth over that first night. The next morning, Bobby goes missing. The gang attempts to find him in town.

Unable to locate Bobby, and after being visited again by Ricky’s rotting specter, Johnathan and Jake become desperate to get Maggie out of the house. They don’t really know what’s really going on or what the house really is. All they know is that their friend is in danger. Her body seems to be wasting away before their very eyes. As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…

So…that’s a pretty good sum up of both Dwelling and Emerging.

Now for the “good stuff.”

Conceiving…if you’ve read the ending to Emerging…you may be wondering “how the hell do you go from there?” While keeping to my nihilistic style, Emerging still had some very finite conclusions. Things happened that you cannot write around or walk away from. However, that being said, I felt that there was still more to be told. Me? I’m a fan of developing characters. Sometimes they start out as minor and vaguely important. And sometimes they can grow and become much more influential to the story. Luna Blanche is one of those characters. She was in Dwelling and Emerging, but only in a minor role, attached to Bobby’s arch.  In Conceiving, her role is much bigger. Though separated from Bobby, she can still “see” him telepathically due to her unique gifts. But the Mississippi Delta woods are limiting her visions, isolating her even farther from what she loves. Her garden. Her grandfather’s house in Hitchcock. And Bobby.

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The cabin in the Mississippi woods is quiet. There are no other family members to help Luna take care of her ailing grandmother. No friends. Nothing but the sound of the trees swaying in the wind and a dark presence she can feel hiding in the woods. To add to the strangeness, her grandmother seems disconcerted by her prognosis and instead seems both urgent and hesitate to share with her some sort of secret, some family sin Luna will eventually inherit. If you recognize the name Blanche, especially the name Ronna Blanche, your suspicions are true. Ronna Blanche, now Memaw, is a holdover character from another story of mine called Lanmo. Lanmo was based in the 1960s when Ronna was a young voodoo priestess. Now she is aged and sick. And feels compelled to warn Luna, that she must get her granddaughter to understand why she did the things she did before she dies because her sin, the family sin, has not gone away but remains, hiding in the woods. I don’t really want to spoil anything here, but if you have read Lanmo, you can pretty much guess what that “sin” is.

The only major holdover from Dwelling and Emerging is Bobby Weeks. I don’t want to say too much about Bobby, as it may inadvertently give away something from the previous book. However, I will say that Bobby is attempting to move on with his life. He gets a job. Makes a real go at being normal, despite his curse. Poor Bobbs. Nothing ever seems to pan out for the guy. Eventually, he will spiral and be consumed with revenge, set on a trajectory back to Jotham.

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There are a lot of new characters, but the most important ones are Boris and Neville Petry. And yes, Neville is a girl. And I love these two people. I know I wrote them, but that doesn’t make them mandatory to love. And yet, I do. They represent, for me, a young American couple seeking a piece of the American Dream. Boris is a history professor who is offered a job teaching at Baelo University, an obscure little school on the outskirts of Jotham, Texas. Neville, while reluctant to leave behind their life at Ole Miss, agrees, hoping in part that the change will maybe help cultivate the family, the child, she so desperately desires. Weeks following a faculty party, it seems her wish has come true. But dark nightmares plague the happy pregnancy…as does her husband’s strangely distant behavior towards her.

I could say more…but why spoil the fun!

And there you have it, folks. The low and dirty of Conceiving. Plenty of dark twists and history and story to unraveled. And again, you do not need to have read Dwelling and/or Emerging to follow the plot in Conceiving. It certainly helps, especially in understanding Bobby, but the guilt he carries is made pretty clear within the pages of this new story. I am really excited about this one. When I wrote it and turned it into my publisher, I immediately started working on Book 4…which is finished and contracted with Limitless. News on that one to follow soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this new book. Lots of horror to devour. Voodoo priestess. Werewolves. Cults. Extra-dimensional insectoid creatures. Strange pregnancy. And my own personally take on the Frankenstein monster. Plus all the human drama and humor we love to feed on.

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Conceiving is now available for preorder. Due to release on November 29, 2016.  You can get your copy here. Or if you fancy getting a paperback, you can order that here. And if you are curious about my other books, you can find them on Amazon by following this link here. And as always, you can connect with me on Facebook here, where I post new book info and other horror related topics. Thanks for reading everyone!


REPENT…THE END IS NEAR…for the Hybrid Publisher Formally Known as Booktrope

Despite my overzealous title for this article, I am not jumping for joy over the recent news of the downfall of the hybrid indie/small press publisher known as Booktrope. I’m not exactly surprised either. Let me be clear about at least one thing, I’m not going to pretend as if I known all the answers when it comes to the business of publishing books, such a business has existed well before my time on the playing field. I can share only my own experiences and what I’ve seen regarding general popularity in marketing and consensus among a few like-minded writers. After reading a few other articles on this similar subject matter, and also seeing how some were reacting on social media and groups on Facebook, I felt perhaps someone out there somewhere would like to know what I thought of everything. And by everything, I mean not just Booktrope, but also the underlying causality of the fall of Booktrope, AND the even more under-underlying causality, the writer. The best way I can explain my understanding in the failure of both Booktrope and writers is to go about this point for point. Shall we get started?

The fall of Booktrope as a whole is actually best explained by my good friend, Duncan Ralston in his recently published article on Ginger Nuts of Horror. You can find that post here. Basically, to sum, Booktrope created a system with little to no quality control. They wanted to create an enormous backlog. Good. Great. Best thing, really. Except for one thing. Pacing. Backlogs are great, but the faster you create one while paying little heed to the actual quality of books for letting in, well then…we all know now what happens. The system collapses. If you’re an author going to back to indie basics, yes, build that mother-f-ing backlog. But you better make sure each of those works on your catalog are of good quality. Why? Seriously…? If all you publish is shit, and word catches on all your work is shit, who is going to want to buy said shit? No one. Now, is this what happened to Booktrope? In a way. They also over stretched themselves and faltered on to-little-to-late marketing. They also put a lot of assumption into one particular basket…cross-promotion.

Before I dive into this, I know this article is not going to be very popular with many who may or may not read this. What follows is my opinion, and just that.

Since I first started this precarious journey known as publishing, there has been one gleaming/glaring ugly side of it that is more nefarious than any other aspect and failure in most publishing ventures. For whatever reason, even when writers deny feeling as such, they have this preconceived notion that other writers are somehow their competition. They’ll “like” a post like nobodies business, but they’ll hardly ever share anything. Some might comment, “Way to go!” and other such other bullshit. They build websites but never showcase anyone but themselves, they join groups but never respond to any other post but their own, etc. etc. You know what they call such behavior in the adult film industry? I don’t know either, but I assume its the equivalent to what’s known as being a “fluffer,” just enough to get it up but never to bring to culmination. Such individuals I’ve found to be poisonous, cantankerous, and everything wrong with small press, independent, publishing. Such writers get into publishing and they have BIG stars in their eyes and sticks up…(I won’t go there), needless to say, they publish their shitty (or perhaps even decent) book and think they’ve hit the big times, they’ve become the next Stephen King or Ray Bradbury or Sylvia Plath or Kurt Vonnegut or Clive Barker or  J. K. Rowling (yes I mentioned her, I love those Harry Potter books, don’t judge!!) or Neil Gaiman or Maya Angelou or Hunter S. Thompson or Shirley Jackson.

I hate to pop your bubble buddy, but…you’re not the shit, you’re just plain shit. You haven’t hit the big times. You’ve published a book, and yes that is an achieved in and of itself, but its not the end game. You haven’t reached stardom, and you may never will. That doesnt mean you need to stop dreaming. Dreams are wonderful, so long as you keep them in perspective. Cross-promotion is the lifeblood of small press and independent publishing. That other writer beside you in the trenches is not your enemy OR your competition. You are both soldiers on the front line of publishing. I’ve seen this hesitancy toward cross-promotion so much I’ve got shell shock. Not just with those in Booktrope but also in other small presses (of which I will not name for fear of being burned at the stake). And I don’t get it. Do these fluffer writers really believe that if they cross-promote another writer people will start buying the other persons books over their own? Who are you sharing these posts with? Family and friends, right? Do you think YOUR family and friends will stop buying YOUR stuff? No, you big dumb idiot! The point of cross-promotion is to breech the “family and friends” bubble on social media.

And this bring us to the nitty-gritty.

If you’re one of the fluffer variety of writers out there, do you honestly think/believe that other writers are going to want to share your stuff if you are in fact unwilling to share theirs? I’m not going to name names, you are who you are and God willing you’ll know at least that much. I know one (more than one, really) writer in particular who jumps on to these writer/publishing groups I’m in and always asks for people to help share their stuff but yet never NEVER reciprocates. Some call these folks trolls. Me? I call them turds. Cause that’s all they are. Floating nasty little turds. It boggles my mind, it really does. It never fails. I’ll see these fluffers bitching about why their stuff never sells, or sells poorly. Now, this could be for other reasons, such as crapper quality or if you’ve only published one damn book. Mostly, it boils down to breaching outside your family-friend bubble on social media. They’ll moan and complain yet never think it that by maybe helping out other writers and cross-promoting, those other writers will likewise reciprocate, and then maybe by doing such consistently, sells might just pick up.

Ugh!!!!!

Well…this article has certainly turned into a sort of vent/therapy session for me. I know many will not agree with what I’ve said. And that’s okay. Were fluffer-writers, non-cross-promoters, the causality for the fall of Booktrope? Not entirely. They sure as shit didn’t help matters. Booktrope as a company should have slowed things down and focused a little more on marketing and quality control. Their recent venture with Hubble-Bubble pulled in some big numbers for sales, or so I’ve heard, but sadly it was a little to late. Much too late. It is my strong opinion that for small presses and independent publishers to thrive, there must be a strong urgency toward cross-promotion. Writers within said spheres need to stop acting as if they’re on their own private island. It takes a community to grow and prosper. Do you know what happens to people on remote islands? No, they don’t lounge in hammocks drinking coconut rum on the beach, they die, miserable and alone.


Know Your Audience

Do you have a clear picture in your mind of someone reading your books? Of who makes up your audience? Can you see them? Are they lounged out on a hot summer day by the deck by a pool, sipping mojitos, or are they cuddled on a plush couch during a cold blizzard covered in Afghan blankets sitting beside a roaring fireplace, or are they urban on-the-go chaps, sitting on a city bus, flipping through a tablet as they commute to work? I think we all have an idea of our readers. I do. Given my genre, I’ve always kinda pictured the demography of my readers to be predominantly male, 20-30 age range, eccentric perhaps. White, non-Hispanic on average. I’m sure you have your own ideal reader. But when fiction faces fact, we often find we’ve got it all wrong. Our audience isn’t who we thought they were. A couple of weeks ago, I did my first book signing with Barnes & Noble, you can find the result of that event here. But, I’ll say it again, I was more than nervous. Not just with meeting strangers, but that my perceived audience would not be in attendance at a nice looking place like B&N. I think my glaring mistake was what lit majors call, a hasty generalization, one of the more common fallacies people make. I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share on social media. As authors, as writers, if we plan on taking over and putting on our marketing hat, we need to know our audience.

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Now, let me be clear about one thing. I’m not talking about writing for your audience. You write what your gut tells you, and be honest with your writing. Don’t placate, that’s not what I’m saying here. Don’t write for your audience; write for yourself. Okay? Okay. What I’m getting at here is when we change hats, from author to marketer. Marketing is something I’m still getting my bearings on. And everyone has something to say about marketing. It should go without saying, any one pitching you a “formula” should be suspect. The best thing I can recommend at this point in my writing career is for you to experiment. Especially when it comes to spending some of your hard earned income. Don’t burn $500 bucks on a gimmick. Start slow. Learn. Test. Develop methods. Be scientific about it. And if you’re the kind of lass who has no issue burning $500 bucks, what are you doing here? Go get you a PR or HR or something. And if you’re getting upset because nothing seems to be working, come to find out you’ve only got one book on the market…I’ll need to ask you to leave this page now and go and start writing. I heard a marketing “coach” once use the analogy regarding marketing being the donkey and the book (or product) being the cart, stating, and I’m paraphrasing here, “writers often put the cart before the donkey.” Clever, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think a majority of writers are riding that ugly hay chewing donkey out into town without a cart. My own two cents on that.

Before we chase this rabbit farther down the rabbit hole, let’s get back to the subject at hand, knowing our audience.

Let me step back.

Remember that book signing event I mentioned before? I had thought, at the time, my audience was mostly men, 20-30 age range, white, kinda maybe a little strange, perhaps. Well…I was dead wrong. The majority of folks coming to my table and who actually bought books were women, between, I’d say, 25-35. Gothic, dark dressed weirdos? Nope. Average, modestly dressed. My favorite was this elderly African American woman who came to the table looking for a good scary story. I hope she liked it. What I liked most about her was, not just that she bought both of my books that were at the signing, but her grandmotherly appeal. She was a grandma looking for some dark fiction. A demography I would have never suspected were into my particular brand. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with Facebook ads. These are fun and low risk, well…depending on how much dough you’re sinking into the ad, I should say. Since I am experimenting, my budget isn’t anywhere over $30. But even with that low setting, I’ve seen the numbers, the data is confirming what I noticed at my book signing. More women are reading than men, and not just romance, but dark fiction too.

Recently, I wanted to check and see if Pew Research Center had done any polls and surveys into who was reading more nowadays. And they had. Back in 2013, they did a survey on “Who’s Reading and How.” Basically, summing up in percentages, between male and female, we read more and on what, as in paperback or eBook. Also, they looked farther into who, as in white, black, Hispanic, etc etc. I don’t put too much stock in the “race” demography. My interest is between men and women, and format. Marketing paperbacks is a whole other monster, I think, then marketing eBooks. eBooks are by nature, cheaper, and supposedly more convenient. There are still those dinosaurs, such as myself, who prefer paperback over eBook. But I’m not selling to myself; thus, I need to understand who is more likely to purchase my work.

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As you can see, some of these %s are kinda huge, not to sound like Trump or anything. Just look at the jump between men and women. Men are clocking in at 69% and women are at 82%. As the red wigged beast would say, “That’s huge!” I don’t care much for the ethnicity bracket, nor would I know what the difference is in marketing to various ethnic groups. The age though, I think is also important. While 18-29 is a larger %, the next to largest, the 50-64 age range, I find to be interesting. 50-64 is what I’d probably group generationally as “Baby Boomers.” The highest % are of course, millennials. There is some bleeding between groups, obviously, but for a snapshot, not a bad poll to reference when designing a marketing strategy. What’s also interesting to note is the still popular print & over eBooks. And the growing trend for audio books is also something to keep an eye on.

So, what do you guys think? What has your research shown you? What does it tell you? Well, again my post here has nothing to do with what or how you write. This, for me at least, has to do with how I market, or where I should be focusing my marketing towards. Moving forward, I’ll be doing my best, keeping in mind who’s actually buying my books. And how to get my books in their hands easier. Polls, surveys, data, and research are all great avenues to understanding out audience, but I think its also important to remember, these are tools, not gospel. If you’re visiting the blog today, I’d love to hear what you think, either if you’re a reader or a writer or both.

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Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of terror. He grew up in the small town of Vinton, Virginia, but in 2001, left home to enlist in the U.S. Army. Following his third tour in Iraq, Thomas moved to Houston, Texas where he now lives with his beautiful bride and amazing daughter. Thomas attended night school, with a focus on creative writing and history. In 2014, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from UHCL. Thomas blogs at machinemean[dot]org where he reviews movies, books, and other horror related topics.


Do a Book Signing

I recently read an article by a fellow author who kept emphasizing the word “do.” As in, book signing. Not “host,” or “have,” but “do.” And I couldn’t agree more with at least that much of what she had to say, everything else, beyond “doing” is and should be up to the potential author “doing” a book signing. The implied meaning behind “doing” is proactive, the author should be proactive during a book signing. I’m sure you’ve seen those authors, just as I have, perhaps at your local shop or Half Price, cramped inside a tiny space, little to no imagination to the table or placement, and the author sits there, immobile, either glaring at customers as they walk quickly by or at their phone or tablet waiting for that special someone to come to them. And if you are one of the poor sods to ever make eye contact with such a person, the look of desperation will chill you to the bone. Its the look of something kin to saying “I just buried my loved one in the cellar, would you please come buy my book…” And you feel for these authors cause you fear deep down that if you ever did a book signing, that would be you, the strange loner stuck in some hobble corner watching with that same crazy look as people avoid you as if you’d been quarantined by the CDC.

Now, I’m not going to sell you a ketchup popsicle. I’m very new to the game of publishing and recently had my own very first book signing. And I can say with pride and honesty that I too, like you perhaps, was a little nervous meeting and greeting people I did not know and/or being shunned as readers shopped for other peoples books, or laughed and pointed at or worse, became the dreaded disinterested weirdo hawking my wares to no one but an empty table and some smelly fellow calling himself Fernando. So, what did I do to overcome these fears? What did I do to prepare for my book signing event? Where was my location? What did I wear? Etc. etc. Well, I’m so glad you asked!

Let me tell you what I did, and perhaps in reading both my successes and blunders, you can take away something that you can either avoid or implement in your own book signing.

Here’s my list:

  1. Remembering the emphasis “doing,” rather than “having.” Stating the obvious here, but “having” implies inactivity, it implies the author sitting on their rump while thousands of fans are lined up out the door waiting to see you. If this is the case, well…you don’t need to read my ramblings, do you? However, assuming you’re a bit like me, and the fans are not quite lining out the door, you may want to reconsider your game plan. Be proactive. What does that mean? Get off your butt. Walk around, talk, chat. Smile, hand out flyers with your work (more on this later), but please, don’t be weird about it. Just be yourself, so long as yourself isn’t glued to your chair or on your phone. In fact, keep that phone hidden. The only time you should be on your phone is if you’re taking a picture with someone who bought your book and you want to tweet it out. We have a bad habit nowadays (not to get on a rant) with always having something in our hands keeping our attention. The idea of “doing” rather than “having” also implies that you’re there to work. Keep that in mind.
  2. Location. I feel like location will determine a lot of different things, including the proactive emphasis. Some book stores are really cramped and there’s not much room to wander about. And there are other book stores that are so massive, your little table will get swallowed into irrelevancy. Also, some book stores have themes which will determine your attire (we’ll get to that soon). So what do you do? Simple enough, seek out a venue that will suit YOUR needs. If you’re like me, you need your space. Being cramped will do you more harm than good. For my first signing, I went after Barnes & Noble, who are generally super friendly to authors (for B&N you’ll need to get a hold of the Customer Relations Manager or CRM in person or over the phone). If your B&N is like my local B&N, the store is rather large. This is nice on the nerves because your not cramped into a small space, but because of the square footage, people may miss your table among the many other displaces and shelves and what not. What to do? Here’s what I did. Ask the CRM if you can set your table next to the Starbucks. Yup. Don’t scoff. Panhandling to coffee addicts will help boost your table traffic, especially if you’re walking around and talking with them. I did not go inside the Starbucks, I was place strategically outside, quasi near the registers, which made it really helpful when people wanted a signed copy but needed to pay first. Making it easy for potential buyers/readers is the name of the game!
  3. Your table shouldn’t be cluttered. Clutter looks disorganized and unprofessional. Lucky for me, the B&N CRM at my store already had a table, a nice thick wood table, and already had ordered my books and made posters directing people to the event. Just another reason why I love and will certainly go back to B&N for any future book signings. On my table I had, obviously, the books B&N ordered for the signing, a stack of flyers with my backlog (all my work), bookmarks, and business cards, a note pad (for spelling out people’s names), a large bowl of candy (the good stuff, not leftover Halloween or Easter crap) and a couple of fine point acid free pens. That was pretty much it. Your table will be YOUR table, so decorate as you see fit, just be sure to discuss whatever you do with the store and/or CRM, and so long as you avoid clutter, AND be sure not to bring along books not sold at B&N, if the store has agreed to order your books for the signing, keep to those books. Your backlog flyer will point people to your other works. In conclusion regarding the table, I considered my table as the base of operations, but as any decent troop will tell you, you need to get out into the field, whilst keeping a close eye on your base of operations.
  4. Materials of obsession…i.e. FREE STUFF!!! As mentioned above, I had bookmarks, business cards, and candy, all free. Now my experience may differ from yours, but folks coming to my table were not very interested in the free candy. I did however ensure every book signed came with one bookmark and a business card, both or at least one of these should include your information, as in where the reader can find you in the vastness of cyberspace, you may want to include your Facebook info, Twitter, and blog. The one thing I forgot to include on my table, and I’m kicking myself in the butt for it, is the newsletter signup sheet. So…ya…you’re going to want to do better than me.
  5. Attire. Again, depending on your book store, dress accordingly. For me, B&N is kinda a nice place, I dressed in slacks and a nice polo. You may want to consider something between full on hobo and wedding attire. You don’t want to look unprofessional, but you also don’t want to overdress (unless the book store has a theme and/or part of your pro-activity is wearing a costume that has to do with the book you are signing, such as fantasy book wizard robes or maybe crime thriller James Bond-esk tuxedos). Some basic rules ought to apply regardless of theme, deodorant, do not go heavy on the cologne or perfume, brush your teeth, and comb your hair. Bathing would also be helpful.
  6. Attitude. This should be a no brainier, but I feel it must be said, cause we’ve all seen those authors at signings that act like crazed loons selling severed heads in baskets. Don’t be that person, don’t have an angry face, especially not when people are not coming to your table. Don’t be overly pleasant either, too pleasant comes off sounding fake. Be yourself, but as stated from the beginning, also be proactive. If someone is not interested in your flyer or your book, say thank you and walk away. Don’t start with “do you want to buy my book.” Give the reader a reason. Be normal. Here’s what I did, I walked around the store, keeping a close eye on my base of operations (table) and approached people I felt wouldn’t mind being talked to and asked if they would like a flyer. Most people did. This is your foot in the door. Next, I told them who I was and what I was doing at the store. I kept it short and sweet, mentioning the books I was signing, generally, theme or genre, nothing too in-depth. So, chin up solider. If people are not flocking to your table consider what I’ve mentioned above, but also keep in mind the store traffic. Its been a while since I was last in retail, but customers come in waves. Be prepared for that. ALSO, if you think a book signing event is about selling book you might want to adjust your thinking. A book signing is only marginally about selling books; the most important part of a book signing is talking with your potential readers. Selling you more than your books.
  7. Book Manager. If you don’t have an official BM, get one, or get a close friend or family member to help you out at the signing. This was something I did not plan for but by some strange miracle my BM from another publisher drove 3 hours from her place of residence to help me with my book signing. My BM had asked previously if I needed help, and me being who I am (taking no help typically from others) said no. But she came anyway and stayed the entire slotted time (11-2) and even almost 2 hours extra, cause the CRM was cool and let me stay as long as I wanted. What did my BM do? She helped talk with folks coming to my table, which was super helpful when I was engaged with another potential customer. She helped guide people to my backlog, promoting my other work and not just the books I was signing. Basically, a BM ought to be an extra hand, helping guide store shoppers to you. This was something I did not plan, but helped tremendously. Plus, the help passerby’s think you’re not alone at your table, other people are interested, maybe they should be too. As in nature, a flock draws crowd. Maybe not right away, for those readers who are introverts, but once the crowd disperses, they’ll approach, or send their kid, as with a few who ended up purchasing my books did.

And I think that’s about the whole enchiladas. The event went fantastic. Having and following the above items helped aleve tension and nervousness and kept me away from the always dreaded loony tunes stigma. I walked and talked with a lot of interesting people, including a few veterans who were likewise interested in writing, which is awesome for me because I too am a veteran interested in writing. I learned more about my audience as well. I had a general idea/stereotype of who reads thrillers and dark fiction, however, the majority of those who bought my books were ordinary (as in, not scary goth kids), in fact one was a wife of a WWII Screaming Eagles veteran, how freaking cool is that! Bottom line, was I hesitant about getting away from my bubble? Yes. Profoundly so. My bubble is safe and warm and far removed from crowds and strangers. But I’m glad I did. I think coming prepared mentally helped a lot too. And most of all, having my BM from Booktrope show up to help was a very nice added bonus. I have little doubt having her there helped pull in more readers than what I could have done on my own. There’s a wise saying, “For every Solo, there is a Chewbacca” (sorry Lauren, not calling you a furry Wookie).

How did I do? Well, unfortunately I forgot to have a newsletter sign up sheet, so without the sheet, its kinda hard to gauge how many people came up to my table to talk and/or purchase my books. I can say though that B&N ordered 40 copies (20 each of Dwelling and Emerging) and in the end, there was only 6 total books leftover (some sold after I left the event). Not to brag, but from what I’ve been told by other authors and by the B&N CRM, that is a fantastic sells %. And I have been asked by the CRM to sign the rest of the books because they want to keep them and sell them, AND if I would be interested in a future signing event. I’d like to think, a huge part of my success was what was done in the items mentioned above. In closing, if you’re new to book signings, I hope my experience helped you in some way. If by chance you’re an old pro, please, share your experience and/or suggestions for budding authors in the comments section below.

Tommy_Creature

Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of terror. He grew up in the small town of Vinton, Virginia, but in 2001, left home to enlist in the U.S. Army. Following his third tour in Iraq, Thomas moved to Houston, Texas where he now lives with his beautiful bride and amazing daughter. Thomas attended night school, with a focus on creative writing and history. In 2014, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from UHCL. Thomas blogs at machinemean[dot]org where he reviews movies, books, and other horror related topics.


Barnes & Noble Book Signing Event w/ Author Thomas S. Flowers

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On April 2, 2016, at the Webster, Texas, Barnes & Noble location, your blog host with most will be on site signing copies of both Dwelling and Emerging, books one and two from the Subdue Series, published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. The event will start at roughly 11am and end when B&N finally wises up and boots me to the curb, which should be around 2pm (CST). They will no doubt be a table somewhere inside, jeez…I hope they don’t put me on the porch. Just look for the section of store with the huge crowd of crazed fans (wink wink). Or, more likely, the crowd gathering around a bowl of free candy…hey, whatever works, right? You may not know, but this will be my very first book signing event. Seeing how things go, I’d love to do one with my local public library or with my alma mater school library, UHCL. OR BOTH!!! Think of the possibilities (laughing sinisterly). Ethan, the customer relations manager with B&N, was kind enough to throw this shindig together, so my hats off to him. All joking aside, I am very much looking forward to the book signing, leaving my dark cave if only for but a few hours, to meet and greet with potential readers, because that’s what these kinds of events are for, to meet people, not necessarily to sell them anything. Book signing are about making the public, those outside of our family and friend bubbles, aware of our books. If you’ve got a book signing of your own, keep that in mind.

So, you may be wondering what I’ve got planned to prepare for this awesome event…even if you’re not, you can still read on, I won’t judge.

  1. Candy. Yup. Got to lure my victims, oops, I mean potential readers with sweets, before subjecting them to the poison of my writing…
  2. Specially made bookmarks, free with purchase of either of my two books that’ll be available at the table.
  3. Business cards, to whomever will take one (wink). These are specifically made to match my “author logo.”
  4. Newsletter signup sheet, as newsletters seem to be all the rage nowadays…you can sign up here, if you’d like (wink wink).
  5. Pens, and not just any old pen, nice permanent black ink pens.
  6. Informational flyer, of all my books, not just the ones at the book signing event, and all the places they can find me.
  7. Award winning smile, I’m not a smile guy. I have what’s known as “resting veteran face,” and can come across as kind of a grump. I’ll need to work on this and maintain awareness of my body language and facial expressions.

My list, as you may have surmised, is tailored toward letting people/stranger get to know me, not tailored to selling anything in particular. If people stop by and buy, fantastic, and I’m sure B&N will appreciate it too. My sole goal is to greet as many people as possible and to make them aware that there is in fact an Iraq War veteran in their community who writes and blogs dark fiction. This is an awareness campaign as much as it is a book signing campaign.

If you’re in the neighborhood, and/or would like to come out and meet me, I’ll be at B&N on April 2, 2016 between 11am and 2pm. You can find the event page at B&N here OR you can check out the upcoming book signing on my Facebook event page, here. As always, thank you for stopping by, and I hope to see YOU out at B&N in April.

iraq me 2003

Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of terror. He grew up in the small town of Vinton, Virginia, but in 2001, left home to enlist in the U.S. Army. Following his third tour in Iraq, Thomas moved to Houston, Texas where he now lives with his beautiful bride and amazing daughter. Thomas attended night school, with a focus on creative writing and history. In 2014, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from UHCL. Thomas blogs at machinemean[dot]org where he reviews movies, books, and other horror related topics.


Reinheit found new home with Forsaken!

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Greetings boils and ghouls! Just wanted to make an official announcement with my dedicated blogketeers that Reinheit (my debut novel) has been picked up by Booktrope under their newest imprint, Forsaken! Reinheit will be revamped by a select and talented team with a tweaked book cover and buffered editing. By joining the Forsaken team, I am hoping to get Reinheit in as many hands as humanly possible, spreading the good gospel of hauntingly seductive armchairs! Stay tuned for more announcements as details become available. As of right now, Reinheit is still available as a first edition on Amazon in both eBook and paperback. I’m aiming for a re-release of Reinheit this summer, in which case, the first edition will no longer be available for purchase. This is exiting stuff!! I am psyched for what the future holds!!


Countdown Sale!!!

Greetings fellow fans of macabre!!! For a limited time, my debut novel, Reinheit, will be on sale this week. Originally priced $2.99 is now only $0.99!!! Also, for new purchasers, this is an updated edition, including smoothed editing and some additions to the story. If you’ve already purchased a copy, no sweat. Amazon should be updating your copy soon. If not patient enough…well, you could delete your copy and purchase a new one, it is only $0.99!!!

Also, be sure to stop by Amazon and let others, including me, know what you thought of the story! Reviews are a very important part in the cycle of a books life.