The Deathbringer and Me
No. 5: May 20, 2019 ~ I would never in a trillion years have picked up The Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins if I hadn't chanced upon it through my own book marketing efforts. Here's how it happened. I recently connected with BooksGoSocial, an author support service. I signed up for a modest plan to see what this group might be able to do for my novel, The Darkest Eyes, and I found that in addition to fee-based services, it offers some interesting free tools. One of them is the BooksGoSocial Book Buying Review Club, a Facebook group. Basically, it's comprised of a bunch of indie authors who agree to buy and review a member's book in the hope that some other member will buy and review theirs. It's not a swap, which isn't allowed -- it's more like a potluck. I wanted to participate, so one by one I checked out all of the books available in my category. It turned out I didn't want to read any of them. I looked inside a few that seemed mildly interesting and found that they weren't for me. I really wanted to add my book, though, so I took a second look at all of the candidates. I had passed up The Crimson Deathbringer based on the title and cover alone. It seemed to target 12-year-old boys. I looked inside anyway. I had to read the first sentence three times just to get the syntax right in my head. Ugh. This book wasn't going to be the one. Still, I've never given up on any book after just one sentence, so I plodded on. After the first few paragraphs, I found I wasn't plodding at all -- suddenly I was reading with fresh eyes. Robins could write. The characters came alive almost instantly. There was tension. There was wit. Holy crap. I bought the book. I'm only at the halfway point, so I'm not ready to write a review, but Robins already has done so much right in my eyes that he's going to have to blow it in a major way to lose my fandom. I hope The Crimson Deathbringer continues to deliver, because reading it is great fun. It's kind of like Star Wars meets Ready Player One. It's now hitting home to me how much harder I've been on indie books than on books by well-known authors -- or lesser-knowns backed by major publishers. There's a reason for that. Many indie books are terrible -- and I'm not OK with spending my reading time on something that just manages not to be terrible. I'm choosy. Still, I have to honestly admit that I've read plenty of traditionally published books that have been crap (somebody, please put Stephanie Plum out of her misery), so I need to stop setting such a high bar for anything indie. Which brings me to my book, The Darkest Eyes. I realize that the readers I'm hunting for are probably just like me -- the old me, that is. They may instinctively distrust indie books only to be pleasantly shocked when they find one that's actually good. I don't have a built-in fan base or a stamp of approval. My prospective readers might be put off by the title or the cover or the first sentence, but when I connect with the right ones, they will read a little further and discover that, OMG, they actually like it. I know they're out there, and I'm going to find them -- the Deathbringer found me, after all. Not that I'm content to leave it at wishing and hoping. This is a big month for The Darkest Eyes. My exclusive arrangement with Amazon expires today, and it's a liberating feeling. Both ebook and paperback will continue to be available on Amazon, but I'll be publishing second editions of both through IngramSpark, which will open the doors to countless other retailers, including Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The second edition paperback will be printed in a smaller trade format, and it will sell for a little less. Bookstores will be able to purchase it at a discount in order to make their profits, so there's a better chance of getting it on shelves. My promo bookmarks (see last month's newsletter) have reached 10 states so far -- and I've mailed a packet to England as well. If you haven't yet joined my bookmark brigade, please email me and I'll be happy to send you a supply. You can leave them anywhere readers might find them -- little free libraries, coffee shops, bulletin boards, waiting rooms, etc. The bookmarks include a blurb about the book and an invitation to email me for a free digital copy. I was happy to meet with a local book club a few weeks ago, and I hope to embark on both a blog tour and a real-world "booktalk" tour this summer. I'm also kicking around plans for a new video that will include a dramatization of a scene from the book. In the meantime, I'm at work on the prequel to The Darkest Eyes, which will tell the stories of three pivotal characters in the saga, setting the stage for Will Roan's great adventure. Stay tuned.