So you can read my books

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Business is business.

A market starts, and barriers to entry are low.

There’s things like quality and consistency of product,

so that the early products are often of poor quality and have limited distribution.

Usually but not always. But the early entrants aren’t the companies who win through.

Then, there's Amazon. eBooks have been the making of Amazon.

A few years ago, Amazon was making a loss on the book side and accounting for 4% of the market.

With their aggressive promotion and bold introduction of the Kindle, they’ve claimed a big portion of the distribution market.

Which means exactly what for us? To me?

You say I can do little to change how things go.

Some believe I can just wave and feebly mention that I’m still here. As the market grows, my voice becomes feebler. All I can do, many sigh, is keep writing the stories I love and hope that someone else loves them, too.

But are they right?

THERE IS THE SECRET that says NO. Read on to discover it.

Oh, interesting side-note:
Did you know that Amazon can remotely delete purchased e-books through a back door, much the way it did in 2009 on "thousands of copies of George Orwell's 1984? Big Brother indeed!}


Do you know how Robert Bindinotto managed to write and publish a debut novel that, without backing by a traditional publisher and with zero paid advertising, went on to become a Kindle bestseller?

Get out your highlighter to copy this secret.

Prepare yourself. Wait for it.

The short, unsatisfying answer:

HUNTER caught the eyes of the Amazon Kindle editors, who (bless their little hearts if they do this for me) singled out his book for one week-long focused attention and promotion on the Amazon website.

You go: "Duh! Well, sure! My book would soar if they did that for me!!!!"

Better question:

Why did they single out HUNTER from over a million items in the Kindle Store? Did Mr. Bidinotto do anything that made a difference?

Nobody from Amazon ever confided in him. But Robert (I can call you, Robert, can't I?) has a few guesses:


To succeed in being noticed in an overcrowded marketplace, you must distinguish yourself and especially your product.

If all authors are blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, interviewing, pricing at 99 cents, etc., then there is nothing in that which makes the individual author or his book stand out.

Likewise, if you are writing the umpteenth rendition of the same kind of protagonist in the same kind of story, aping other successful writers who pioneered that same sort of character or plotline, etc., you are not standing out from the pack.

John Locke stood out by being the first with 99-cent ebooks, and he did sensationally well. But now, a zillion indies have mindlessly copied him, and as a result, 99-cent pricing no longer stands out or moves ebooks.

In fact, it screams “SELF-PUBLISHED!” to readers who have grown leery of quickie, low-quality, self-published titles.

Similarly, Amanda Hocking triumphed by being one of the first indies to develop a big social-media following for her books via Facebooking and Tweeting. Now, everyone is doing it—and again, nobody stands out as she did.

To stand out in marketing, you must be first to do something new and different. You must pioneer something.

It can be a new twist on an old formula, but it must be sufficient to create a kind of “niche monopoly.” Clancy invented the “technothriller,” a thriller subgenre. Rowling pioneered a parallel race/universe featuring young wizards.

Everyone knows the Western is dead:

So I have created an undead Paladin (HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL) in the haunted New Orleans of the present.

{Speaking of unique, Originally, each show of HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL opened with exactly the same 45-second visual.

The first season's Christmas episode, "The Hanging Cross," is unique.

Instead of drawing the revolver, Paladin unbuckles the belt and removes the entire rig, holding it out to the camera as he talks.

The camera then tilts upward, revealing Richard Boone himself speaking to camera, then hanging the belt, holster, and gun on a wall peg and walking away as the theme picks up and the title graphics appear.}

Vampires have been so overdone that they are crisp and black! So I have a flesh-eating Victorian ghoul as the love interest of my young street Gypsy, Victor Standish.

And see how my name is a household word? Ah, not so much, huh? Hey, it was just a guess on Robert's part!


Kerry Wilkinson, a self-publishing phenom who is currently #1 on Kindle in the UK, wrote that he put himself in the reader’s shoes.

So, if you were a reader in your genre, what would engage you?

Apply that consideration to everything you do–from writing, to cover, to formatting, to pricing, to marketing, to websites, to blogging, etc.

Also ask yourself:

Who are the readers for my kind of story? Where do they hang out? How can I reach them? What would catch their interest? If you answer those questions before you hit the “publish” button, you’re many times more likely to be successful.


Authors should spend well over 90 percent of their time and effort not on marketing, but on crafting the best stories they can possibly write.

A great story can sometimes succeed without marketing fanfare; but no marketing fanfare can long sustain a poor story.

Catchy covers and pricing gimmicks may win attention for a book, but if that initial attention isn’t eventually affirmed by a positive and enduring reader response, long-term sales will be mediocre at best.


When publishing, an indie author must pay attention to all the “little things” that lend an air of competence and professionalism to his book(s).

Covers, design, formatting, logos, your author blog or website–all of these things must exude a quality equal to anything issued or overseen by Random House or Simon & Schuster.

And no, you do not have to break the bank to obtain that kind of quality. Robert was able to do it all for about $1000.

{For more of his excellent guesses read: }

{If you are interested in Victor or Samuel, read and see the new, improved product page: }

ALICE WENTWORTH'S song as she met VICTOR STANDISH at midnight by the crypt of Marie Laveau done by THEA GILMORE:


  1. The first to do anything is always difficult, and sometimes it doesn't work. (Remember mini-CD's?)
    And sometimes we have no idea how it happened.
    Maybe now that so many have tried tricks on Amazon, they'll move to the second largest platform, the iBookstore, and try something there? Those of us with an endless supply of iTunes cards are ready for the next big thing!

  2. Finding that niche is tough - but if it works, it's gotta be awesome!

  3. Alex:
    If it were easy, everyone would be selling millions. Sigh. I tried to get an outside firm to format in Smashwords for me. They never got back in touch. I have to keep trying to find a crack in the wall!

    It is tough. I have tried to position myself to take advantage should I ever become a "Lightning Rod!"

    During this lonely vigil for the right path, I have promised myself that should the Lightning ever strike, I will try and hitch as many of my current blog friends up on the comet's tail with me.

    I want company for the wild ride, Roland

  4. Some very good pointers and advice there - but I'm far, far, far away in another galaxy, at the moment. But all is noted for the time when I might make it there :)

  5. It is never too early to think about making preparations ... as Noah said. LOL. Thanks for visiting and staying to chat awhile, Roland

  6. Everyone:
    If any of you enjoyed THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH, would you consider leaving a review of it on its Amazon page? I would really appreciate it.

    Alice also asks very nicely ... ah, she was flossing her really sharp teeth at the time!

    Just saying ... :-)

  7. I'm a professional book translator who translated around 300 books from English to Turkish since 1998. Self-help books, various genres of novels, studies and reports, you name it. The highest aim for me to follow this career was something I've learned at the Academy of Fine Arts where I graduated from: Learn to do something well, replicating others' (especially masters') works and add them some personal touch. I followed the same formula with my translation career to become a successful writer. The thing is that we don't have a large market here in Turkey, and most of the publishers only focus on translating books from other languages (I don't know why they don't trust in young Turkish talents though). Then I began to rewrite my own books in English, so I have some plans to market them through Web. However, reading all what you write here, and with the knowledge of how weak and low quality most books in the market are, I'm both confident with my plans and stories, and also amazed to see that even the most brilliant writers all around the world are at a loss about the changing times. I think the two main problems about us as artists are, first, we can't tolerate the fame and success of others, so we can't come together to do something real and great with synergy, and second, mostly we have no idea about marketing strategies, because we're simply artistic minded. But I'd like to remind you something, guys: A great work of art comes through talent which you bring from birth, but to make it successful in worldly terms, you have to be a strategist, because business world is really like a battleground. Success to you all, and if you're curious about my plans, always feel free to contact me through my blog. If we can have a high touch one to one, who knows, perhaps we can do things together, and provide the world something unique. Take care you all!...

  8. Strategy, marketing...Wish I would have known that a business degree would have helped me as a writer. Making money by doing something you love just gets harder and harder. I think I was born to late or to early. In the world we live in today there just is nothing new anymore. There is only good luck and fate...and lightning bolts...I will gladly write a review on your book Roland, but my words have little weight, sorry to say.

  9. Yes I truly think writers have to be Olympian in their efforts to get that book out there!! Hard work and a little bit of luck always, always pays off! Take care

  10. I've been having a TON of fun packaging my previously published work and selling it via Amazon's KDP program. You're right that craftmanship counts -- good stuff usually rises to the surface. And the western isn't dead, it's just WEIRD now: I've sold three Coyote Cal weird westerns to three different publications this year. You should try submitting some of yours!

  11. Selim:
    Yours is quite an eloquent comment and insightful as well.

    Gore Vidal, a famous writer who just died, said, "It is not enough that I succeed. My friends must fail." He was gleefully stealing from Oscar Wilde who did the same from George Bernard Shaw. Authors often tend to eat their own!

    I like to think that authors are so frenzied to succeed that it is often hard for them to see beyond their own yearning ... much as when you have a terrible toothache, it is hard to see past the pain.

    I believe you are right about authors. We focus on the prose to the hurt of our marketing plans. We are impatient to get our long-gestating books into the public eye. We often do not take the proper preparations to do it well.

    The publishing world is, indeed, like a battlefield with so many voices crying to pay attention to them. The publishing world is in flux. The teeming army of struggling novice writers are often their own worst enemies.

    We as authors often forget that most human behavior is sparked and shaped by self-interest.

    The Amazon Kindle Editors will not take notice of us unless they feel we are a winner, poised to add dollars to Amazon's profits.

    50 SHADES OF GREY has a siren call because EVERYONE is reading it now. And readers want to see what all the gossip and headlines are about.

    I tried to find the address to your blog, but was unable to find it. Send me the address, and I will say HELLO and become a follower.

    My friends and I would like to join forces with you to tackle the publishing world in a unified front.

    Have the best of new weeks! Roland

    You words never have little weight to me. And the more positive reviews a book receives, the more likely the Amazon Kindle Editors are to take notice of us in word and deed. (Look at the format of my reviews ... Amazon did that after I received 12 reviews.)

    Oh, look at my own changes to my product description to THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH while you're at it. Do my changes make the page look more professional?

    Nothing new anymore in our world? Would you believe Ernest Hemingway made the same lament in trying to find a title for his book he later entitled FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS?

    STRATEGY MARKETING ... it is hard, for we never know all the forces against which we are arrayed. We have to be a combination of JK ROWLING, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, & HANNIBAL LECTOR to succeed!

    I once moaned to Sandra, my best friend, "Why did JK ROWLING get a writing grant at the start, and I can't?"

    Sandra quipped, "She has prettier legs!"

    Her nonsense answer to reflect not to ask question for which answers will never come. "Just keep on fighting, Roland," she said, "It's what you do best."

    Thanks for the support. It means a lot. Yes, we must always look for the route to success that has always been there but gone untaken because it has never been spotted.

    Groucho Marx once quipped, "In the septic tank of life, the biggest chunks rise to the top!"

    But I know what you meant. No amount of marketing will get low quality much attention for long.

    I need the addresses of those 3 publications that bought your Weird Westerns. Poor Sam can't seem to find any buyers out there! I have tried to submit him. I am beginning to think I do not have talent! :-)