Wednesday, April 27, 2011

E-Book Pricing and Big Bucks

Mike Shatzkin
Mike Shatzkin, who knows more than anyone about digital books just wrote about pricing, and also dropped a dynamite plug for self-publisher John Locke.  (That is, he's a self electronic publisher) Has anyone read him? Shatzkin seemed to think he was the new Lee Child. (Well, he didn't say that--he just pretty much said Locke's as good as they get.) Where have I been?

He MUST be good. According to Shatzkin, Locke made over $100,000 in March! Jeez. If he does that every month, he's raking in $1.2 million a year!

But pricing. Well Mike had a lot to say, so first, the link:  http://www.idealog.com/blog/  .  Locke sells his books for 99 cents and challenges Big Six publishers to prove their books are ten times better. You can bet Mike has some ideas about that.

This, to my mind is the most fascinating thing he said: "Sooner or later, a big publisher or two will start seriously experimenting with this. They will gain knowledge that will enable them to tell an author or agent, “we know things about pricing that are worth real revenue to you if you publish with us.” When that happens, it will likely be more significant to an author than an increase in the ebook royalty rate would be. Maybe a publisher can even add enough value with pricing savvy to pay for their cut!"
John Locke

Now that is a thought!

But wait, I can't thinking about Locke. I  just Googled him.

He's only written four books! (Well, four in his best-selling series.) Mike based his piece on a Wall St. Journal story built around Locke--http://on.wsj.com/dYer7A  --that indicated he was being conservative. The WSJ said Locke's March take was $126,000! Get this: "In March, he sold 369,000 downloads on Amazon, up from about 75,000 in January and just 1,300 in November."

'Bye, now. I'm off to download a Locke title. Just gotta see what I'm missing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


CURSEBUSTERS!, my YA paranormal time-travel, coming-of-age adventure, complete with feisty teen-ager and talking cat,  isn't out for almost another month, but you gotta see the trailer anyhow.
 You just gotta. It can't wait.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Good girl goes bad: Abby Buchmeyer as teen-age burglar Reeno Dimond
We're got a new video! Almost got it loaded up. But here's the news:  We produced our first video (other than author interviews) in a cool eleven months. The new one: Four days flat! We might finally be getting the nimble part down.

This one's a trailer for my upcoming YA book, CURSEBUSTERS!, an actual print book published not by us, but Bold Strokes Books.  But publishers usually don't do videos. We're exceptional that way. So who ya gonna call? Us, of course. Despite past glitches. Like the time the streets ran pink with blood. Light pink. What we learned from that one:  1) Always check the props. 2) No need for that phony stuff anyhow. Ketchup works just fine.

On the set with Monster Kitty Boy and cat wrangler Adrienne Parks, b.g. ; that's Andy Forest getting down to the co-star's level
For this one, we were a little unnerved by the W.C. Fields admonition never to work with kids or animals. Because the CURSEBUSTERS! trailer had to have both--a kid star, a roomful of kid extras, and a cat. Actually, a talking cat. But guess what? Everything went like we were MGM! What we learned--get the right personnel. The kid actors came from the acting program at Metairie Park Country Day School, the star recommended by a teacher, the others recruited by the star. And that would be Abby Buchmeyer, who proved the very personification of my unruly character Reeno. Well, I mean she proved able to PLAY Reeno; there was actually no indication whatsoever that Abby is the type of girl who'd ever consider burgling as a career.

The cat? Well, we just plain made a feline discovery, that's all. Our co-star didn't come out of any acting program, but he did turn in a great audition. Meaning he didn't take anyone's face off. However, we still had our doubts. A.B., the ninja assassin cat in the book, is a gigantic orange beast, while the co-star, Monster Kitty Boy, is a well-bred Siamese. But a great actor can make you believe anything. If the lovely brunette Abby can make us think she's a pink-haired burglar, then a Siamese could make us believe he's not only murderous, but British. Aha! Didn't see that coming, did you? Well, Monster Kitty Boy does an amazing British accent.

As for  our intrepid guerrilla videographer, Andy J. Forest  deserves his own blog entry. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Sam Spade recently attended church, though if he weren't immortal, he'd probably be spinning in his grave over it.  (On the other hand, a lot of people might think it's high time.) What happened was, I gave a talk on THE MALTESE FALCON at a library and one kind attendee decided to try the book out on her church reading group.

Can you imagine the scope? I don't know if they approached it in a churchly way, but, really, the moral ambiguity! There's sure plenty to talk about. What I'm pretty sure about (from her subsequent letter) is that they approached it in ways that were different from the way a writer might. This writer anyhow. I'm hardly ever one to analyze what a writer was thinking (like that green light in Gatsby. Unless Fitzgerald actually said what he meant it to mean--and maybe he did, I don't know--I'm just not crazy to second-guess him.)

I learned to be leery about this when Eudora Welty came to speak to my college writing class and some kid asked her about symbolism.  In that gorgeous lilting southern accent she said innocently, "Symbolism? Why, I don't use symbolism in my books."  She drew out the "I" to about three syllables.
"Uh...Miss Welty, hello? Phoenix?" the kid said. "As a character's name?"  "Oh, Phoenix," she said, "I've always thought that was such a LOVELY name."

Well, no doubt she was having fun with him, but still, a writer looks at things differently. If I'm analyzing why a writer did something, I'm much more inclined to look at a mechanical reason--he needed a vehicle to make X happen, for instance--than a fancy metaphorical reason. This is because the writer's focused on telling the story rather than obscuring it, I think. But the brain is what it is, it  tells stories differently and it loves symbols; so they end up in a work of art whether they're intended or not. It makes connections that the simple and hapless writer might not have even suspected. And so I pass on to you the questions that my correspondent asked me after taking Sam to church:

"1.  What was the purpose of the Flitcraft Story -- I found it fascinating -- but no one was really able to understand its role in the novel.

2.  What was the role/purpose of The Fat Man's daughter in the novel?"

I could  pretend I know my asterisk from my apostrophe and walk all over those with big clumsy writer shoes, but the hard-boiled truth is, I'm just not qualified. Isn't there a scholar out there with a better grasp of this sort of thing? Come on now, it's not every day Sam Space goes to church!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


It’s all PHONE KITTEN all the time, now that we’ve got the second edition out. The one featuring the hilarious video.

But enough about the video already. How about the book? Well, I love it. I want to say it’s a nice cozy read, but that connotes knitting and quilting books, washed down with a cup of tea. This is more like a book you want to curl up in a quilt with, along with a box of chocolates. A book that makes you feel good because Emily makes you feel good—Emily being the intrepid phone kitten protagonist. Just how does a book about a phone sex worker accomplish the high wire act of  being completely wholesome and impossibly dear and adorable? Well, hell if I know. First-time author Marika Christian’s a magician, that’s all. Here are my…


10. A laugh a page, guaranteed-- Marika’s a terrific new comic talent .
  9. Unlike many comic mysteries, which often seem to  flame out on the mystery part, it actually has a satisfying plot.
  8.  It has a cover by a best-selling mystery author. I won’t say who, but her credit’s  in the book.
7. We’re hereby offering the free giveaway of your choice to the first person who gets back to us with that name:  a booksbBnimble flash drive ; an inscribed copy of one of my books (you get to pick); a polo shirt once owned by Carl Hiaasen. KIDDING! I do not have such a T-shirt!  But wouldn’t you love one? And seriously, we can accommodate you on the other two.
6.     Great across-the-board appeal—hard-boiled, cozy, chick-lit, and mainstream readers who’ve read it so far have loved it, but truth in advertising here—so far as I know they’ve all been female.  Not sure guys would have the same appreciation.
5. But they’ll be amused by the embedded video.
4.  You’ll pick up a whole new category of slang—phone kitten jargon’s pretty entertaining. Example:  A whale’s a big-bucks caller.
3. IT’S GUARANTEED SQUEAKY CLEAN.  You will absolutely not be grossed out. But you might be a little…titillated.
2. It’s got a good love story to go along with the mystery.
1. You have to know what a looner is.

 * Available in all electronic formats at  www.booksBnimble.com,  or at Amazon, B&N, iBooks etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Having bragged yesterday on finishing a video that should have taken a day in only one year (due to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune), I managed to continue the curse by posting a broken link! I was kind of wondering why no one had commented on it. So I went to youTube and discovered it wasn't loading properly either.

All righty then.  Here's a link that probably works (fingers crossed):


And today it's loading just fine. Pleeese go watch our video! And if you think it's funny,  share it--that;s what it't for!  (But if you don't, tell us. This isn't a book we're talking about. We probably won't go on a three-week drunk or kill ourselves or anything.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Hottest Video On This Blog Today

Got a hot movie for you. Seriously. It's a three-minute video that we at booksBnimble have made over the course of a year. We've made many other three-minute over the course of twenty-four hours, but there was...just..something about this one. My dad used to use the expression "snakebit", a word that meant a person with no luck at all. Or a project that just wouldn't go right. That was "Emily's Day (or The Truth About Phone Sex.)"

It eventually got done and it's right here if you don't want to hear the story, but for those in it for the yarn,  I've linked again at the end:


It started out all opitmistic and fun with silly auditions involving sangria and ending with the casting of the perfect actress to play Emily, a phone sex worker who really should be in another line of work. She was so fresh, so innocent! So much so, it turned out, that she had to have a little vodka to say her lines, but that came later. First we had to wait a few months for the videographer to free up.

Okay, that accomplished, we got a gaffer,  spent days gathering props, turning my house into Emily's,
and rehearsing. All was well. That is, until we got the call, twelve hours before the shoot, that the Star had developed cold feet. Uh-oh. Snakebite Number One. But no problem! E., in a bar when she got the call, promptly hired the bartender--maybe not so innocent, and as it happened, on a deadline, but hey,  cute, willing, and available.

Snakebite Number Two occurred when the gaffer turned up too sick to work. Totally green. Had to be sent home. Have no fear, he said, I'll send you another. He did, a great one. Once again, the show went on. But of course it had to be cut short due to the new Star's deadline (the start of her bartending shift) so we only got it half done. Okay, only a few more months till the videographer freed up again--we could handle that.

And then SHE quit the day before the shoot. Oh, woe. Snakes on the rampage. But we made a quick recovery and ended up with the best thing that ever happened to Emily's Day--a new videographer with our own guerrilla mentality--which is, basically, to substitute imagination and creativity for a big budget. This was none other than Andy J. Forest  http://www.myspace.com/andyjforestband, whom you may know as a great blues harmonica player, but he's multi-talented. Andy wrapped up the shoot in about two hours, and we were good to go.

Only one thing left to do--finish editing E's Day and get it in the book. What followed next I'm not sure, but I guess you could call it a comedy of errors. Things got misplaced, misunderstood, put off for one reason or another, there was an issue with a distributor-- nothing big you could point to. Just more snakes nibbling way at Emily's ankles.

But now we've got it! We've remade the ebook--PHONE KITTEN--with Emily's Day as the embedded video, and in our opinion, it was worth waiting for:


You be the judge. (But a word of warning: Our movie is rated Pg-13. Go no further if you are offended by euphemisms.)