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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kindle Follies and Other News

It may be obvious that I haven't posted much lately. Reason below. But first, a report on my long-anticipated Christmas gift:

I've been telling the missus since August that I want a Kindle 3G for Christmas. That was really the only thing on my list. She waited until the last minute (Christmas Eve) to look for one, and of course both Target and Best Buy were sold out. So she got me a Target gift card for the amount.

No problem, sez I. I probably won't start using it until after all the family craziness anyway. Well, Monday rolls around, and they're still sold out. Tuesday--still not re-stocked. Wednesday, Thursday...a week goes by and they still don't have one--NONE of the Targets do.

I stop at a Best Buy and see they have ONE (1) Kindle in stock--a graphite 3G like I want. I tell them I plan to refund my gift card and come back with the cash. They're open 'til 9 and will hold it for me if I assure them I'm coming back. I plow like a madman to get through my last few jobs and get done around 8--a whole mini-drama by itself.

After racing back to Target, I am informed no refund is possible without the sales receipt and a manager's approval. I call home. Every single Christmas receipt can be located EXCEPT this one. I'm not making this up. Long story short: I phone an apology to Best Buy and go home.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday...Behold! A Target Store about 30 minutes away has Kindles in stock. Whew. And now it's living happily with me.

I can't believe the screen! It looks like somebody is sticking beautifully printed paper pages to the device from another dimension. It came preloaded with a dictionary and a definition for any word in a book is available without interrupting my reading of it. The thing weighs less than a paperback. I can order right from the device, anytime, anywhere in the world with WiFi or 3G coverage. I can read samples before I buy, just like at the bookstore. It can hold like 3500 books, and is capable of playing music while I read, receiving email, surfing the web, and text-to-voice.

I have found my new best friend. Kindle, where have you been all my life?

The primary monopoly over my free time, such as it is, has been the Hell and Gone book trailer.

I had put together a rough cut with Photostory, using music and some photos I suspected I couldn't get permission for. It wasn't bad, but Photostory has some limitations for the sort of trailer I visualized. And it was 7+ minutes long--a real challenge, perhaps, to the modern attention span.

I was hoping to have a final cut ready before Christmas, but I didn't have everything I needed in time. I finally did get the music, and most of the photos I think I need (thanks Jack, Rich, Johnny and Pat!). I also got Adobe Premiere Pro (thanks Justus!) and have been educating myself on how to use the powerful tools available. I'm still an FNG-level novice, but I think I have a solid enough grasp for this project.

My 2nd cut, using Premiere, did not come out so well. It's hard to watch the project in real-time as the audience would see it until it's fully rendered/code written/exported. I really don't have enough RAM right now so maybe that's why. But I've made extensive notes based on that cut and will now go back through and tweak. The final cut will probably be only 5+ minutes.


  1. Hey Hank, I'm glad you are taking your time and doing it right. After two or three cuts I'm sure you will be much happier with the result. Are you going to place this trailer on the Amazon page for your book? I'm just curious how you plan on using the trailer to market your novel as I've been researching the same topic.

  2. I love your stuff!!!

    Check me out. I think we could get into some serious Batman & Robin like trouble.

    In a story way too long to explain I have the tights.

    And you can even be Batman!

  3. Please enlighten me as to what you've found out, Jack. I plan to put it just about everywhere I can, but Youtube seems to have the most buzz-building potential so far as I can tell. If you can get enough hits initially, there tends to be a bandwagon effect and momentum builds. I suspect most Youtube junkies are not avid readers, but I'm hoping there's enough buzz for some potential readers to hear about it.

    But I'd like to hear what you've learned.

  4. Holy Hemingway, Robblogger! (Oops. Holy role-reversal, and increasingly obscure pop-culture reference partially inspired by a campy 1960s TV show most REAL Batman fans abhor!)

    Glad I'm not the only one who equates reading Hemingway to watching milk spoil. I guess to truly achieve recognized greatness in literature one has to 1) die, and 2) bore the snot out of your readers. Not so hard to do once you're dead, I guess, which, perhaps subconsciously, is why I listed the requirements in that order.

    Off to kill myself in the desperate pursuit of greatness. But first, I'll probably put you on my blog roll.

    To the Batmobile, Robblogger!

  5. Hey Hank, did my last comment get snatched up by your spam filter or something? I'm just wondering because I tried to respond to your question yesterday.

  6. Just checked my spam folder and didn't see anything in it. Hmm. Sucked into a cyber wormhole? Sorry for whatever caused it. Did you get an error message or anything?

    If you don't mind re-sending, I'd be grateful.

  7. No problem, Hank. I don't know if I really have any profound insights on the topic but here are a few idea.

    Branding is very important so make sure that your trailer has a header and/or footer that contains the so-called "call to action" telling readers where/how to buy your book.

    Also, blog posts that contain youtube videos are apparently much more likely to have high ratings on Google. Ideally, you want to use the trifecta of your blog/facebook/twitter to create a funnel that leads readers to your sales page on amazon.

    You might also consider buying some ad space on facebook, because you can target your demographics so easily. Ours is white males 35-50 years old. Not to say you shouldn't reach out to a wider audience but this is where you want to focus your efforts.

    Those are three steps you can take, but I'm still in the research phase and haven't tried this stuff out myself. I'm experimenting a little bit with face book but we'll see how things work out.

  8. Thanks Jack.

    I have my website URL at the beginning and end, which has links to everything, but I need to incorporate the Amazon link directly somehow. I know I can do it in a text message near the video widget on the blog and Facebook, but I don't yet have a Youtube account and am not sure how that works. I do have Twitter, but I'm pretty sure I can only link to a video there, not insert a widget.

    I need to check out that other information you shared regarding Facebook, because targeting the right demographic is probably half the battle. Little extension of GI Joe's logic, there.

  9. Hey Hank, here is a video with some more information on using social media for marketing purposes. The guy is also trying to pitch his own products but I think their are some good tips in here.

  10. Thanks again, Jack.

    Wow, that's a lot of info. I'll probably have to watch it a few times. Don't know where to put the opt-in pages, for example.

    Just by listening to him, though, I've decided I need to tweak my website a little. It's good I'm learning all this before I release the trailer--hopefully I can make the most of it.

    Have you allowed to access your Facebook account, though? I don't like all the permissions they want from me.

  11. No, I haven't gotten that deep into it yet. It might be worth exploring though. Maybe you can just link it to the fan page for your book? Opt in pages might be good, but remember this video is aimed towards people in affiliate marketing. Your opt in page is probably the amazon page for your book. Something to think about anyway.

  12. Here is some more, specific to facebook:

  13. Cool. I'll hopefully be able to check that out tomorrow. Appreciate it, Jack.

  14. Hmm. Everyone is talking about building email lists as the strategic core of success. Seems like an author would need a sizeable backlist for this to be a logical focus.

    Are you planning on marketing via email?

  15. No, but I'm thinking of using the Amazon sales page as a landing/opt in page while using the same marketing techniques. In other words, buying my book on amazon would be the potential customers "opt in". I do plan on using face book to build up a sort of mailing list of thriller readers and use that via free advertising. I will probably do some targeted paid advertising on facebook as well. We'll see as I get closer to publication. Right now I'm still waiting for Beta-readers and the proof reader to get back to me.

  16. I hear that.

    Yeah, I tweaked the website a little bit so the Kindleboards book profile link is at the top of every page. It's a little nicer than the Amazon page itself because of the goodies it has, but with an idiot-prrof link to the Amazon page. I'm really regretting my deal now with the paperback publisher, since even most purchasers of the print edition prefer to go through Amazon (reducing my profits considerably). Sigh. Live and learn.

    If you have a cover design locked down for Reflexive Fire yet, you might consider building some ads around it--"coming soon!" with a blurb or something. Some folks in your network might be willing to post it, to help generate a little anticipatory buzz (including me). I haven't tried posting graphics on the Mack Bolan boards, but maybe you could bump your fan fic thread with it, too.

    I've still gotta learn that targeted Facebook ads deal.

  17. That is probably a project I will work on over the weekend. I need to take some new photos for the cover to make sure I have it looking the way I want it. Then I will find someone who does covers to put it together and add the text. I can work photoshop but not as good as a professional. At that point, looking into some ads might be a good idea.

    I also have the first five chapters of the sequel to Reflexive Fire written and I've started a non-fiction guide to backpacking and hiking. We'll see what happens with that!

  18. Wow. You're getting it done.

    The backpacking/hiking idea sounds like a good way to tap into one of those niche markets--and something you've probably got boocoup experience with. (I've got a whole lot more experience with it than I care to remember.)

    I feel bad about not having the time to beta read, but I'll surely give you a review here when you're ready.

  19. I understand, I really appreciate people taking the time to review some of my work. A lot of the stuff you guys mentioned in the chapters you reviewed on my blog got tidied up before I sent the manuscript off. More corrections will be coming in the future, I'm sure.

    The backpacking book is still in the embryonic stage...All I have written is the foreword. If you think of any tips or funny experiences for the book shoot me a line when you have the time. The theme of the book is basically, "learn from my mistakes."


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