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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Guest Post: Bestselling author Robert Walker on giving away books

Robert Walker is becoming a familiar name to ebook fans. He has a large number of titles out there and some impressive sales. I have his historical novel Children of Salem on my Kindle and will be starting right after I finish a couple of other novels. (So much to read, so little time). There's been an ongoing debate about ebook pricing. I've posted my views here, and Dean Wesley Smith has posted a lot about this issue. Robert has a different opinion, and it's worth reading whether or not you're a writer. Take it away, Robert!

This is for any and all who are Indie Writers using free and 99c promotions and so often 'under attack' by those who claim we are fools to do so, that we are somehow destroying others in the bargain, etc....etc... Here is my long answer to that:

The 99c book is nothing new - 75 cents for first "Pocket" books and more recently, it began with Amazon.com SHORTS 33c program BEFORE there was any such device as the Kindle reader and no such thing as uploading your own work. With the Shorts, program such greats as Ed Gorman published via electronically submitting work to EDITORS who worked for Amazon.com -- honestly. At the time an unknown fellow name of J.A. (Joe) Konrath went whole-hog in this program, writing short after short involving his main characters from his Whiskey Sour novels, Jacquelyn (Jackie) Daniels. Joe set the pace then as he did later via eReader novels once Amazon DROPPED the shorts program as obsolete, let all the editors go, and made it a simple process to upload your work on your own.

Joe dragged me into the Shorts program - years before Kindle - but as I had little to no interest at the time in doing short stories, I convinced the editor - John Hart, was his name - to allow a serialized version of my Flesh Wars novel. He went for it and each chapter was a separate short. I earned out next to nothing yet I was one of the authors routinely at the top of the list. It gave me exposure alongside Gorman, any number of others like Lawrence Block, and many more. The shorts sold for something stupid like 33 cents a pop. Joe relentlessly put out short after short and grew himself a following, while he was crisscrossing the country in a broken-down Land Rover, dropping in on every bookstore he could find, and chronicling his entire cross-country gambit on his blog.

I had neither the time, money, nor inclination to leave my family alone for months to play shotgun to Joe's "crazy" cross-country gambit, but I sure was learning a helluva lot from watching him and I was dragged into the Kindle option kickkkkkin' and screammin it would not work for me, dragged in by Joe Konrath who has as big a heart as they come. I am not he only one he has inspired to go Kindle. His Newbie's Guide to Publishing blog has inspired hundreds if not thousands to write, write, write first, to hone the craft, and to place up as many titles both short and long on one's dashboard.

Just today, I got a note in response to my telling folks at KindleKorner of my Free titles up now. She wrote back that she not only took the freebies but while there, she picked up 3 of my Instinct Titles -- all three are 2.99. She did so as she is a huge fan of the M.E. serial killer chase down novels of Patricia Cornwell and my Instinct books are in the same vein....

My saintly dear old mom is 85 now and she understands that to give is to receive. The limited time offers of Free and 99c titles (I have 21 99c titles at the moment, any of which I can boost up at any time) --these 'giveaways' have netted after THREE years of putting up Kindle titles sales that have gone from paltry hundreds in dollars to now my last paycheck (which will go entirely to the IRS by the way) six thousand for my last six weeks sales.

Does it help to have a brand name? Sure it does, but I am by no means a Tess Gerritsen or a Stephen King or even an Ed Gorman in terms of name recognition and stature; however, I have worked diligently as has Joe Konrath to MAKE the name known. I even posted on Ben Afleck playing the part of Robert Walker in the film The Company Men on Facebook just to get that fact out there and of course to raise awareness for this fine movie. No one knows what comes of making a connect with readers on Twitter, Facebook, KindleKorner, etc., etc. or HERE. Someone else sees Anonymous and you begin debating the relative merits of Edward DeVere as Shakespeare and how much truth and leaps of faith are in the film and viola, debate over, but your books have a new visitor to your Kindle Shelf.

I urge ye one and all to locate my now Enormous Thread at KDP Community Forums found on your kindle dashboard under Voice of the Author/Publisher - under which is "What Mioves Kindle Bks. off theShelf" - start with the first few pages. Ignore the fact that there are close on to 300,000 views there and something crazy like 300 pages over now Two Threads. Just open on the first pages and read up/study up!

With millions and millions of iPad and Kindle readers, there is room for any and all writers.


  1. Thanks for mentioning the iPad. Most forget that iTunes is still the biggest media platform out there. (And since I own three iPads, it's where I get all of my music and books.)
    I'm with a small publisher and they don't tend to drop their eBook titles below $2.99.

  2. A FINE LIKENESS is getting a fair number of sales on the iPhone store. Who the hell reads a 95,000 word novel on their phone? Not that I'm complaining!

  3. Thanks for airing this, Sean! And while I read mostly on my Kindle, sometimes -- doc/dentist offices and other places I have to wait -- I pick up on my iphone where I left off in my Kindle and keep reading. Not as easy to see but whiles the time away!


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