How I sold almost 2,000 books in twenty hours

for the July 6 update,
scroll to the bottom

If you are a serious author—indie or traditional—then you’re in business and should have an internet platform. The simplest platform might just be a blog, or it could be more complex with a combination of a website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and an Amazon author page, etc.

Once an author has an internet platform, there’s one more step to seriously consider—to advertise. Although I have been a guest on thirty-one, traditional radio talk shows, advertised in a regional magazine, held several author events in brick and mortar bookstores, earned awards from literary contests and been on several book blog tours, the only two marketing methods that resulted in immediate, measurable sales was through blogging on iLookChina and buying e-mail blasts from BookBub and/or Ereader News Today.

So far, in one year, I’ve paid for two BookBub e-mail blasts, and three with Ereader News Today, and they have all resulted in increased sales and paid for themselves with a profit.

For BookBub, I submitted my first historical fiction novel My Splendid Concubine back in early 2013, and it was accepted. That first BookBub e-mail blast went out on June 16, 2013, and resulted in 2,699 sales before the price went back up to $3.99 a week later.

After my second novel Running with the Enemy was rejected recently by BookBub, I submitted the book to Ereader News Today.  You should know that BookBub only accepts 10 to15 percent of the books submitted to them, and if your book is accepted, it isn’t a free e-mail blast. It’s costly—several hundred dollars at least with no guarantee the results will be a success.

HiDef Kindle Cover December11

Ereader News Today accepted Running with the Enemy for an e-mail blast that went out March 28, 2014, resulting in ninety-eight books sold over a period of seven days. Ninety-eight books doesn’t sound like much compared to two thousand six hundred ninety-nine, but the results were impressive nonetheless when we take into account that Running with the Enemy hasn’t found its audience yet, and was the focus of a flame war in 2013 by a vicious tribe of Goodreads internet bullies, who were responsible for at least one of the two 1-star reviews of this book on Amazon. The second, more recent 1-star review was left by another troll.

Both of these trolls were liars. The oldest 1-star review claimed to have read the book, but she never did, because only three copies had been sold when she posted her review on Amazon, and her review wasn’t a verified purchase. On Amazon, if you buy a book, the review will be listed automatically as a verified purchase.

The second, most recent 1-star review of “Running with the Enemy” said, “Why I stopped reading: I’ve never given up on a book before the 20% mark. I’ve never given up on a book that I agreed to review for an author—until today.”

That was also a lie, because in the last two years, this reviewer stopped reading twenty books she had agreed to review, and she stopped reading five of them before the twenty percent mark. In fact, for one book, she stopped reading thirteen percent of the way in.

Back to why selling ninety-eight copies of Running with the Enemy through an Ereader News Today e-mail blast was impressive, because this book was selling, starting in February 2013, an average of 4.7 copies a month. Going from that to 107—nine copies sold before the Ereader News blast went out—is more than twenty-four times the monthly average, and only 11 copies sold the next month after the price returned to $3.99.

Back to My Splendid Concubine’s second BookBub blast that went out at 11:30 AM on June 18, 2014—by June 19 at 6:45 AM—about twenty hours later—ASIN: B00578UNLG, had reached an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of #59 paid in the Kindle store. Before the BookBub blast, the best seller rank hovered around one hundred thousand out of more than three million books listed on Amazon. In addition, in the first twenty hours, Concubine sold 1,915 copies—almost as many copies as it sold a year earlier for the same number of hours.

The cost for an Ereader News Today e-mail blast will be 25% of the earnings received as a result of the posting. This will be based on the number of books that were sold through their links on the day the book was posted and the day after, which they will report to you in the invoice that you receive.

In addition, I paid twenty-five dollars to EBook Booster to submit the Concubine sale information to twenty-five other sites that announce free and/or reduced e-book sales. I also paid six dollars to The Fussy Librarian to post the sale announcement there too. If you want to know what I paid for the BookBub blast, the answer is on their site. I paid for a Historical Fiction ninety-nine cent sale.

This second BookBub blast also resulted in a new 5-star review posted June 19, by Amazon’s number three, highest ranked reviewer and avid reader Joanna Daneman, who has reviewed almost three thousand books on Amazon. Too bad I can’t write as fast as she reads. And the ninety-nine cent sale isn’t over until after June 24, 2014

Kindle_LR_e-book_cover_MSC_July_25_2013

Joanna Daneman’s Amazon review
Like “Shogun” but set in Imperial China. REALLY GOOD!

This was a huge surprise–Lloyd Lofthouse’s novel about Robert Hart and Imperial China right after the Opium Wars is fascinating, dramatic and it’s almost impossible to believe it was based on a real character because it reads like a blockbuster novel. Robert Hart, the main character was called the “Godfather of China’s modernism.” He arrived in China almost as a soldier of fortune, and ended up as a completely fluent, trusted advisor to the Chinese court and the British, having learned perfect Chinese but more importantly, the intricacies of the culture.

This book is a lot like “Shogun”–in fact, if you liked “Shogun”, you’ll probably enjoy this book. The themes are similar; an unbathed, barbaric Westerner becomes enchanted with the local women, falls in love, is repelled and confused by an alien culture, but immerses himself so deeply in the ways China that he becomes able to navigate the twisted channels and treacherous waters of Chinese diplomacy and court life. Instead of Japan. Bushido and the Tokugawa Shogunate, we have here the China’s Qing Dynasty and the two regent empresses and the young emperor, and the vast Mandarin bureaucracy buttressed by Confucianism and Tao.

There is a lot of sex in this book, but it isn’t simply for titillation; it shows Hart’s total enchantment with China and the people in the person of Ayaou, his concubine. Her story and the story of how Hart won her is the personal side of a very interesting historical novel.

I couldn’t put this book down. I hope Lloyd Lofthouse will write more.

Discover other posts about publishing and promotion:

Authors Finding Readers

Discover how Amazon changed book cover design and why authors need to pay attention

Learning Twitter for authors; then tweeting magic

Number 2 and then Number 4 on July 4 - 2014

UPDATE
Posted July 6, 2014

“My Splendid Concubine” officially went on sale June 18, 2014 when a BookBub blast went out at 11:30 AM.

By 6:44 AM the next day, June 19, the book had sold 1,941 copies. By 6:26 AM on July 20, another 550 had sold.

Jump to the end of the month on June 30, and Concubine sold a total of 3,015 copies. “Running with the Enemy” sold 18 and “Crazy is Normal” four. So far, for just July to today at 5:59 AM, another 59 copies sold at the full price. For a comparison, only 40 copies sold in May.

For a better comparison of the impact of the BookBub blast in addition to other June cross promotions on Twitter and through other sites:

In 2008, the first year, “My Splendid Concubine” sold a total of 221 copies or an average of 18 a month.

In 2009, 341 copies were sold for an average of 28 a month.

In 2010, after launching my first serious Blog, iLookChina.net, and publishing more than one thousand posts before the year ended, 2,375 copies of Concubine had been sold for an average of 180 a month.

In 2011, 4,641 copies were sold for an average of 387 a month.

In 2012, 4,158 sold for an average of 346 a month.

In 2013—the first year I paid for a June BookBub blast, 5,044 were sold for an average of 458 a month.

In addition, the following 5-star review was also a result of the BookBub blast promotion,
and look who wrote it.

Snapshot of Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

_________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

The more things change, the more they stay the same

The quote I used for the title of this book review sums up what I learned while reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s nonfiction book, “The Bully Pulpit”, about Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden age of journalism. The quote comes from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808 – 1890), a French critic, journalist and novelist.

Anyone who reads my Bog—Crazy Normal—knows that I support the resistance fighting for the survival of the public schools against the fake Ed reformer billionaires who want to destroy the transparent, democratically run, non-profit, US public schools and replace them with CEO controlled, corporate owned opaque Charter schools.

You might ask what today’s war on public education has to do with “The Bully Pulpit”, and I’d reply “Everything!”

Because the corruption that Roosevelt fought starting as a member of the New York State Assembly 1882 -1884 that continued with his work on the US Civil Service Commission fighting spoils politics; then his two years—starting in 1895—as the president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners where he reformed and cleaned up the corrupt police department, and then as the Republican Governor of New York where he was exposed to the corruption of the trusts, monopolies, labor relations and conservatism and where he also built an alliance with the main stream media. This has all been reversed and the situation may be worse today than it was before Roosevelt went to work to make the United States a better place for everyone instead of just the few.

Roosevelt was the champion of the common man, the working man, the average family, but the corrupt Republican political machine was controlled by the richest Americans who wanted to keep control of the United States, and the GOP in 1901, manipulated Roosevelt to become Vice President where he wouldn’t be in a position to go after corruption.

But something the GOP corrupt political machine didn’t count on was President McKinley being assassinated on September 6, 1901, causing Roosevelt to become president where he then went after the giant corporations that had a strangle hold on business through trusts and monopolies, and Roosevelt won this battle.

Roosevelt, a progressive president (1901 – 1909), curbed the power of large corporations and supported organized labor. However, more than a century later, organized labor has been demonized and is losing members after decades of brutal attacks using smear tactics, cheery picked facts, misinformation and lies paid for by billionaires and large corporations that have taken back the political power lost to the richest Americans when Roosevelt was president. For instance, by 2010, union membership in the U.S. fell to a 70-year low.

Today, thanks to large corporations and the billionaires who also own/control most of the traditional media, many Americans have been fooled into supporting agendas that will eventually hurt them.

In fact, with the power back in the hands of the few wealthiest Americans and large corporations, America’s public schools face the threat of closure and being turned over to corporations to teach our children while millions of teachers face the threat of losing their jobs and joining the ranks of those living in poverty; a possible end to cleaning up our air and water with the threat of global warming growing worse, and a roll back of women’s rights at the same time as the misuse of this power swells the ranks of those living in poverty while working for poverty wages in the fast food industry and for companies like Wal-Mart.

I bought an unabridged copy of the audio book of the “The Bully Pulpit” at Costco, and I highly recommend reading this book to discover what’s wrong with the United States today. Without public pressure, the wealthy will rule this country through the corrupting influence of their money and power just as they did before Theodore Roosevelt put a stop to that abuse.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Realty of Honest Reviews and Book Blog Tours

Last Saturday, March 1, 2014, I received an e-mail from the publicist who arranged the March Book Blog Tour for my novel, Running with the Enemy. She was writing to let me know that one of the tour hosts who’d agreed to read my book and review it on her blog wasn’t going to read it and there wasn’t going to be a review posted on that Blog (I’ve removed the blog’s name and it’s host’s name from this post).

Here’s the reason for the change: “I wanted to let you know that (the book Blog host) handed the book off to one of her other readers who requested it. She never told me that it was for one of her reviewers and not herself.  That reader found it too violent and couldn’t finish it. (The blog host) won’t be posting a review but will be posting a spotlight of the book instead.  I really have to wonder if there are people who think you soldiers were out in the field eating bonbons, rather than shedding blood for your country!  I thought I made it crystal clear in the invitation that this was not a feel good, romanticized fluff novel.”

Here’s my response to the publicist who arranged the tour:

It’s understandable that many readers in North America and Europe might be repulsed by the violence in the novel, because more than 93% of Americans, for instance, have never served in the military and even fewer have fought in a war.

There are more than 316 million Americans today, but only 1.8 million served in the Korean War; 2.7 million in the Vietnam War, and 2.3 million in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

That means that in the United States, less than 2% (this number is probably much smaller due to the deaths of veterans over time) of the population has been exposed to the violence of war. Only a combat veteran understands what it’s like and we’re an often misunderstood minority most Americans would rather sweep under the carpet.

Low Res e-book and paperback covers joined December 13

e-book cover                                     paperback cover

In fact, the only exposure to war most North Americans experience is the romanticized, sanitized, Hollywoodized versions of war that is one of the reasons I joined the US Marines in 1965 thinking of glory and not gore. Over the years, I’ve only seen a couple of films that came close to real combat. Most films are fantasies that glorify boozing, violence and sex, and the few scenes of violence are usually edited (sanitized). This may explain why the big money makers from Hollywood are usually fantasies or cartoons like the recent Lego film that a neighbor said was silly.

It was in the summer of 1965 in MCRD (Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego) that I started to wake up to a reality often not found in films. That summer of training was harsh and demanding where fear coursed through our blood daily as the drill instructors pushed us to the physical and mental brink of collapse and sometimes beyond to strip us of our ignorant innocence and convert us into killing machines willing to die on command.

Then right out of boot camp, we were shipped to Vietnam, where my childhood dreams of glory and heroism from watching John Wayne movies (and other films) evaporated and never returned.  Instead, I came home in 1966 a heavy drinker with a heavy dose of PTSD and night flashbacks so vivid that I often awoke in a cold sweat in a semi nightmare state where I was back in the battlefield being hunted by the Vietcong.

Even to this day, I feel helpless if I don’t have a weapon within easy reach—a knife or a firearm. I still sleep with a .38 caliber pistol. If I lock that weapon up in the gun safe, I can’t sleep. I lay awake all night listening to every sound wondering how long it would take me to open the safe if someone broke in the house.

My medical provider is the Veterans Administration (VA), and on the door to the VA clinic I go to is a sign that says we have to leave any weapons in our cars—don’t bring them inside.

When I stopped swilling the booze back in the early 80s—after my first marriage ended—I started to manage the anger that comes with the PTSD so it wouldn’t consume me and destroy my life totally. The anger is always there like a simmering volcano that occasionally flares up. This may explain why I prefer the life of an introvert. Crowds make me nervous.

Running with the Enemy, although fiction, represents what I experienced in combat, and why I used that 1880 General William Tecumseh Sherman quote to open the book.

War, like rape, is hell. War does things to most of the troops who actually fight in combat. It’s also why I can’t condemn combat troops who end up committing atrocities like the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam or what happened in Abu Gharib prison in Iraq where there was torture and abuse. Those troops didn’t need to go to prison for what they did. They needed help to recover from the combat trauma that ruined their lives. Maybe a mental hospital/prison would have been a better place to end up with help to heal if healing was possible.

Many if not all of us who joined the military mostly do so out of patriotism—naive and innocent we went off to war singing patriotic songs, and then, like a Dr. Jekyll, many of us combat veterans came back as a Mr. Hyde changed for the worse. For us who manage our demons and stay mostly in control, we must always be on guard to control the dark stain on our souls that was birthed in combat.

Running with the Enemy, not for the faint of heart, is on sale for .99 cents through March (2014) and in April the price returns to $3.99. A few pull quotes from reviews might paint a more complete picture of the story.

A judge for the 21st Writers Digest Self-Published Awards said, “Quite good and has a lot to say about the nature of conflict.” Another reviewer said, “Well written with very graphic language and violent scenes, but a very good suspense book.” A third reviewer said, “I was sucked in by the nitty gritty feng shui of the book; then repelled by the sexual violence.”

The reality is that as authors—if we are honest—we have no control over how any reader will respond to our work.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Reading with my ears

It seems that these days I listen to more audio-books on CDs than I read tree-books. As I was writing this review for the last three audio books I’ve listened to, I was still crawling through the same tree-book I’ve been reading for over a month.

I could listen to music while driving; the news or NPR—as my wife and daughter prefer—but for decades I’ve filled my road time with audio books first on tape and now on CDs. In fact, now that I’m a published author, Blogger, Tweeter, etc., I find that my time to read tree-books at home is limited and the hours I spend in my car each week offers more time to read but with my ears.

The first audio book in my trio of reviews is of “Portrait of a Spy” by Daniel Silva.

What impressed me the most about Silva’s “Portrait of a Spy” was the complex, unpredictable and challenging world of politics and loyalties that it reveals in the Middle East. I’ve read about this often in the news but reading about it in fiction brings it into focus so it is better to understand.

The main character is Gabriel Allon. He and his wife are Israeli assassins and in this story they work with the CIA—with Israel’s spy chief’s blessing—to end the thread of an American-born Islamic cleric in Yemen who once worked for the CIA but is now a terrorist who has been behind several attacks in Europe and the UK that took many innocent lives and wounded more.

What made this novel even more interesting was Gabriel’s real-[ fictional]-life cover as one of the world’s most renowned restorers of Renaissance paintings by the great masters—work that often sells for tens of millions of dollars at auctions. This plot thread is woven into a story that includes Islamic terrorists, spies and assassins and eventually these plot threads merge as the world of art helps them find the target.  And how they get there is what makes reading [or listening] to this story worth your time.

Second was Janet Evanovich’s “Explosive Eighteen”.

I’ve listened to most of the Stephanie Plum novels written by Janet Evanovich and the LOL humor is always appreciated. Stephanie Plum, as usual, finds herself in double-trouble with bad guys [or women] as she balances the two men in her life: Joseph Morelli, a Trenton vice detective, and Ranger, a fellow bounty hunter and former member of America’s Special Forces. Stephanie’s problem is that she loves Morelli but her libido has trouble resisting Ranger.

“Explosive Eighteen” opens with Stephanie returning from a Hawaiian vacation early because Morelli and Ranger had a knock down fight over her in that Pacific island state. If she hadn’t been on that early flight back home, she would have never gotten into the mess this story is about. The man sitting next to her on the flight home slipped a photograph into her carry-on bag. Soon after landing, that guy gets murdered and next the FBI and several criminals types are after Stephanie to get that photo she threw away. The trouble is no one believes her.

The third novel was “Judgment Call” by J. A. Jance.

I enjoy Jance’s work, and I’ve listened to several of her books. In “Judgment Call”, the high school principal of Joanna Brady’s daughter—who discovers the body—is brutally murdered, and it is the elected Sheriff of Cochise County—Joanna Brady—who heads the joint task-force to catch the murderer.

The investigation isn’t made any easier when Brady discovers that Debra Highsmith, the principal, isn’t who she seems to be leaving Brady with another mystery that has to be unraveled before she can search for anyone who might have had a motive to kill her.

One element in this enjoyable novel was the plot thread that focused on the teen world of social networking and how rumors and gossip ruin lives. The message is strong and clear that parents must be more involved in their children’s lives even when the children are teenagers in high school.  Studies show that the average American family spends about three-and-a-half-minutes in meaningful conversation with their underage children on a weekly basis and this story helps showcase that American parenting tragedy.

There are 10,080 minute in a week, and it is unforgivable that the average parent in America spends only three-and-a-half minutes in meaningful conversation with his or her children. That’s 0.0347% of a week.

When my wife and I were raising our daughter, we often spent thirty-minutes to an hour or more in meaningful conversations with her every day and maybe that explains why she is in her fourth year at Stanford.

If you read or listen to this novel, pay close attention to how Sheriff Brady deals with her daughter when this issue of Internet abuse and misuse comes up. Maybe parents who fit the American average could learn something from the good Sheriff—that is if they read or listen to books.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Watch out for Murphy’s Law when promoting a book

Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

True, it happened to an advertisement of “My Splendid Concubine” scheduled to run Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

I’ll explain what happened later.

In this post, I want to share some examples of what I have done to promote my work—with results. Also more examples of Murphy’s Law.

“My Splendid Concubine” came out December 2007. But I started researching the main character—Sir Robert Hart—in 1999. The research; revisions and editing continued for more than a decade. Along the way, I researched China’s history and culture and made several trips to China with my wife and daughter. It also helped that my wife was born in China and is Anchee Min, the author of “Red Azalea”, a “New York Times Notable Book of the Year” (early 1990s) that also won the “Carl Sandburg Award”. My wife would go on to write six historical-fiction novels with China as her subject, and her last book—“The Cooked Seed”, a memoir—was published this year.

Anchee is my go-to person when I have questions about China’s history, art and culture.

This week I ran my third internet advertising campaign through the Authors Marketing Club.  The ad was supposed to run on March 25 listing a .99ȼ sale price— reduced from $3.99. Instead—this is where Murphy’s Law comes in—the ad ran on the free page and there were hardly any sales. No surprise there. Imagine someone expecting a free book discovering it selling for ninety-nine cents. I sent an e-mail to the Authors Marketing Club alerting them about the glitch, and I’ll update this post if I hear back from them.

Although I have offered free, review copies through Goodreads (10 paperback copies); Library Thing (25 paperback copies), and complementary copies for internet book-blog tours, I have never run a free giveaway for the “My Splendid Concubine” e-book, and I don’t think I ever will.  Ninety-nine cents is as cheap as it’s going to get.

Why?

Mainly because in 2008, a copyright pirate—without permission—offered the 1st edition of “My Splendid Concubine” as a free pirated download, and it hit #1 on the piracy download list that year.

Being the number-one most pirated book in 2008 isn’t exactly something to fall in love with.

I discovered the piracy while I was shopping one day, and a clerk at Fry’s [the electronics warehouse] recognized my name because he read about the novel breaking records being downloaded from pirated sites—it seems that there were tens of thousands of downloads. I think this is another example of Murphy’s Law.

Expecting the ad through the Author Marketing Club to run on Wednesday, I announced the sale through Twitter early Wednesday morning, and I think the following tweets resulted in maybe three or four sales that day.  But the sale will continue through October 1.

 99ȼ -75% off@ http://goo.gl/gHVuVB City Weekend Magazine says “a stunning work”; Midwest Book Review said “highly recommended”

#OnSale 99ȼ@ #iTunes http://goo.gl/5iQpu #AwardWinning My Splendid Concubine-the #LoveStory Sir Robert Hart hid from the world until now

#OnSale 99ȼ @ #Kobo http://goo.gl/Au8gM9 #AwardWinning My Splendid Concubine-the #LoveStory Sir Robert Hart hid from the world until now

#OnSale 99ȼ @ #Nook http://goo.gl/OZytMX #AwardWinning My Splendid Concubine-the #LoveStory Sir Robert Hart hid from the world until now

“Probably the best book I have read since Lonesome Dove” is #OnSale @ #Amazon http://goo.gl/gHVuVB  MySplendidConcubine #LoveStory #awards

Kindle_LR_e-book_cover_MSC_July_25_2013e-book cover (the paperback has a different cover)

Promoting “My Splendid Concubine” has been an ongoing job that I started in 2008 with Internet book-blog tours in addition to author events at several local independent brick-and-mortar bookstores in the Bay area. I was also a guest on thirty traditional, broadcast-radio talk shows—a few of those interviews may still be around as podcasts. There is a link or two in the top bar on the book’s Website @ My Splendid Concubine.

Then in 2010, I took more than one workshop and learned how to Blog properly and launched several Blogs: iLook China.net; Crazy Normal; The Soulful Veteran, and Anything Goes @ Lloyd Lofthouse.org where this post appears.

For more than three years I relied on blogging to promote my work and the sales numbers indicate that the posts I was writing for my blogs worked. For example, iLookChina has had almost a half-million visits to the site.

And in 2008—without the blogs—“My Splendid Concubine” only sold 221 copies, and in 2009, 341 copies.

Judge for yourself if building a proper author-platform blog pays off—In 2010, Concubine sold  2,375 copies; in 2011, 4,641, and in 2012, 4,158.

In 2013, I decided to advertise on the internet, and my first ad ran on BookBub on June 17. I kept the price at .99ȼ for a week before changing it back to $3.99. That first ad campaign through BookBub resulted in the sale of almost 3,000 copies that month and the highest royalty check I’ve earned so far for one month’s sales.

The second ad campaign ran through eReader News Today (ENT) and that ad ran on September 1, and the sale stretched for one week @ 99ȼ.  Three-hundred-sixty-four copies sold while the price was discounted.

Total sales of Concubine have reached more than 16,000 since it was first published and continues to sell a few copies daily even when it isn’t on sale. For example, between the two September sales the book sold more than sixty copies at the full price of $3.99.

Over the years, the novel has placed in fifteen juried literature festivals where less than 5% of entries earn awards and it has been reviewed by the Midwest Book Review.

Although Midwest charges a reading fee to submit an e-book for a review, there is no fee to submit a paperback for a review, and I have only submitted paperbacks to this review site that was established in 1976 to serve academic library organizations in California, Wisconsin, and the upper Midwest. It selects about 450 books to review out of the 1,500 submitted each month.

The Midwest Book Review said “My Splendid Concubine” was a strong pick for historical fiction collections and was highly recommended.

Most authors who want to find readers and sell books must promote his or her work. In this post, I have briefly outlined what I have done to find readers for my work. This has been my experience and in no way guarantees a similar experience for other authors.

There is one more example of Murphy’s law interfering with a book launch. In March of this year a tribe of cyber-sociopaths attacked me and my second novel, “Running with the Enemy” as it was being launched, and this attack resulted in a number of 1-star ratings on Goodreads from anonymous bullies who never read the book, and the first review on Amazon—1-star from a troll called Miss M, who never bought or read the book. There is a comment thread for that 1-star review littered with attacks from cyber sociopaths all linked to the same Goodreads group—along with Miss M who is also a member of that tribe. The group calls itself Badly Behaving Authors and some of the members of that group are authors so the name fits.

But promote you must—if you want to find readers—and as I have discovered, the journey can sometimes be full of potholes as described by Murphy’s Law.

Discover Anchee’s Website

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

Interrupting or Ending Civilization—all it takes is the wrong kind of sunshine

As I sat down to write the review for Jeff Carlson’s “Interrupt”, I saw a headline that stopped me: “Sun Unleashes Solar Fireworks Preview for July Fourth.”

This pull quote from that Yahoo! Finance piece by Tariq Malik at SPACE.com says, “The most powerful type of solar flares are X-class sun storms. When aimed directly at Earth, X-class flares can pose a threat to astronauts in space, interfere with satellite signals and potentially affect electrical power grids on Earth.”

What Malik says at SPACE.com may be an understatement.

Because that’s not all an X-class sun storm can do, and to really understand how dangerous these storm can be to the earth, I suggest you read “Interrupt”—and afterwards you might even lose sleep thinking about it.

This book may be fiction, but a lot of what’s in this story is based on science, history and facts and it makes the most devastating hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, wildfires or tsunamis pussycats in comparison, because an X-class sun storm pouring out dangerous CMEs may destroy civilization as we know it and throw us back to the stone age.

While reading Carlson’s scientific-doomsday thriller, I stopped more than once out of curiosity to check (Google) to learn if any of this stuff that was happening in the novel could be true and discovered the answer was yes—a big yes. Maybe human behavior will not revert to being Neanderthals as it does in the novel, but it may come close.

The Carlini Institute says, “There appears to be a direct connection between the Sun’s solar storms and human biological effect especially after an ‘M’ class solar flare. … Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wind storms appear to happen after strong solar activity on the sun. … Solar flares affect the Central Nervous System (stomach lining), all brain activity (including equilibrium), along with human behavior and all psycho-physiological (mental-emotional-physical) response.  Solar flares can cause us to be nervous, anxiousness, worrisome, jittery, dizzy, shaky, irritable, lethargic, exhausted, have short term memory problems and heart palpitations, feel nauseous, queasy, and to have prolonged head pressure and headaches.”

In fact, an M or X class solar flare (CMEs) can knock out power for months or years bringing down the Internet too. It’s has happened before. Weather.com says, “A monster blast of geomagnetic particles from the sun could destroy 300 or more of the 2,100 high-voltage transformers that are the backbone of the U.S. electric grid.”

That’s the story you will read in “Interrupt”—a story about what might happen if the earth is bombarded by M/X class solar flares over a long period of time. And there is very little we can do about it if it happens. But in Carlson’s novel, Emily, the main character, believes she can manipulate human DNA to adapt and survive. And once the CMEs hit and civilization collapses, keeping her alive as she struggles to come up with a solution to save humanity itself is a race against time.

I learned something new that we should all be aware of—how our own sun might destroy today’s modern civilization in a short period of time while bringing on behavior changes to those exposed to the CMEs that might lead to more violence, murder, rape and war.

Carlson’s novel explores this topic and theme in depth and if you have trouble believing it might happen, just Google CMEs and learn how dangerous they are. Imagine being in a passenger jet flying across an ocean and a CME destroys the aircraft’s electrical/electronic systems shutting down the engines and everything else. What do you think will happen next?

My copy of “Interrupt” was an advanced reader’s copy, an uncorrected proof, supplied by Amazon Vine.

Discover Living on the Thin Side of Black Ice

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

A New World of Publishing

I rode BART into SF and hiked up Powell Street to The Sir Francis Drake Hotel to attend the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival that started at 11:00 am on May 18, and discovered by 9:45 pm—almost eleven hours later when I hiked back to BART to ride home—that giving up a day of writing was worth what I learned and the connections I made.

I think the event was more for writers than readers and considering the number of writers and want-to-be writers in the Bay area there should have been more people in attendance to learn about today’s fast changing publishing environment.

But many of today’s authors have no idea how important it is to learn all you can to understand how challenging it is to attract an audience in addition to the dangers that can destroy an author’s career.

The six-scheduled free discussions—open to the public—were packed with information from journalists, writers, poets, publicists, and traditionally published or indie published authors with a wide range of experience.

The first panel of four met at 11:00 am and focused on the art of marketing and promotion—an examination of what it takes to get your work noticed in a crowded marketplace.

To understand how crowded, Bowker says, “The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006, and now tallies more than 235,000 print and “e” titles.”

For comparison, traditional publishers put out between 300,000 and 350,000 new titles annually but the average avid reader only reads 9 or 10 books a year. Do the math and you will understand why it is important to get out there and compete for readers—that is if you are interested in anyone reading your work.

In addition, reading books isn’t dying as some fear—but the way people read books is changing drastically.

R. R. Bowker reports, “that Gen Y’s 2011 book expenditures rose to 30 percent—up from 24 percent in 2010—passing Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) 25 percent share. And with 43 percent of Gen Y’s (born 1978 – 1990) purchases going to online channels, they are adding momentum to the industry shift to digital.

And the Los Angeles Times says, “Total trade book sales in the U.S. reached $7.1 billion in 2012, up from $6.7 billion the prior year.”

“The book industry is operating in a new and dynamic landscape that puts much more power in the hands of consumers,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice-president of Bowker Market Research. “Consumers can now very easily purchase virtually any book they want, whenever they want it and get it at a competitive price. It’s more essential than ever before to understand who is buying and what their expectations and habits are.” Source: Bowker.com

During the first break of the SF Book Festival, I met Jean Davidson, Ph.D., the author of two nonfiction books: Mother of Fire and The Ostrich Wakes—two books I now want to read after talking to her.

Then I had a brief conversation with Porter Gale, the author of Your Network is Your Net Worth. Gale was the former VP of Marketing at Virgin America with more than twenty years of experience working in marketing and filmmaking. I wanted to talk longer but the next lecture started at 1:00 pm, and I did not get a chance to reconnect.

The 1:00 – 2:10 pm panel topic was Writing About your Life.  Because my next book is a memoir, I wanted to hear what the four experienced authors had to say. For example, one member of the panel was Dean Dimitrieski—the winner of the Biography/Autobiography category of the festival—who wrote Tears For My City.

I wanted to attend the 2:30 – 3:30 pm panel on Children’s Books in a Modern Age, but during the break I got into a conversation with Lone Morch, the author of Seeing Red, and then talked with Patty Kogutek, the author of A Change of Habit—and met her husband, a Vietnam vet who has led a fascinating life—and felt it was worth staying.

At 3:40 pm, there was a powerful and dramatic poetry reading by Dr. Neal Hall, a multi-award winning poet quickly followed at 4:10 with an active panel of five discussing The Future of Books. Three of the five panelists combined had at least eighty years of experience in publishing/journalism. This was followed by an inspiring presentation by Richie Norton, who wrote the grand-prize winner The Power of Starting Something Stupid.

At 5:00, the free admission portion of the book festival ended, and off I went through the streets of San Francisco to have dinner at the Millennium Restaurant.

At 7:00, the award winners returned to attend the award ceremony of the festival—with open bar and a buffet—where I learned that less than five-percent of the authors and poets who submitted entries to this festival’s literary contest were honored with recognition from the judging staff of authors, publishers, journalists, agents, directors and others committed to supporting the literary community. After months of hard work where these judges read, discussed, analyzed and even argued, the list of award winners was announced leading to May 18.

I’m already planning to attend the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival.

Discover The Need To Edit and Authors Finding Readers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

2013 San Francisco Book Festival Award Winners

Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00034]
The winner of the general fiction category went to John Irving’s In One Person published by Simon & Schuster, and the grand prize was awarded to The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live Without Regret by Richie Norton with Natalie Norton — Shadow Mountain Publishing.

John Irving won the National Book Award in 1980 for The World According to Garp, and he received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for the short story “Interior Space. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules.

Richard Norton, the grand prize winner of the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival, is the CEO of Global Consulting Circle. He is a sought after speaker and consultant for the corporate growth and personal development industries. Norton has shared the stage with bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Kevin Rollins, former CEO of Dell Computers.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning My Splendid Concubine and Running with the Enemy. His short story, A Night at the ‘Well of Purity’ was named a finalist in the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. Anchee Min, Lloyd’s wife, is the author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year—in addition to national bestsellers Becoming Madame Mao and Empress Orchid, which was a finalist for the British Book Awards. Min’s memoir, the sequel to Red AzaleaThe Cooked Seed—will be released May 7, 2013.

The award winners for the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival will be honored on May 18, 2013 at a public free festival and a private awards ceremony held at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

Phillip Jose Farmer’s “Riverworld”

If you were or still are a Philip Jose Farmer fan and read his Riverworld series years ago, did you know that there are now films? And if you weren’t a fan, maybe you will become one. If you like Sci-Fi, the odds are you will enjoy this story.

In 1971, while I was still in college, I read Philip Jose Farmer’s “To Your Scattered Bodies Go”.

The novel begins with adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton waking up after his death on the earth but in a strange new world with an endless river. He soon discovers that he is but one of billions of previously dead people—many are well known historical figures— from throughout Earth’s history stretching from the Neolithic age to modern times.

Next I read “The Fabulous Riverboat” (1971) where the main character is Samuel Clemens—Mark Twain—building a riverboat.

I have been an avid reader for most of my life. In fact, when I was in intermediate and high school (grades 6 to 12), I filled my free time reading and often read one or two books a day. Of course to achieve that, I ignored the homework. And sports weren’t an issue, because I was under a doctor’s care for years being treated for a virus that wanted to destroy my heart.

To give you an idea of how serious my condition was, when I graduated from high school, I stood 6’4” and weighed 125 pounds. From the side, I was all but invisible—a shadow, a thread. After high school graduation,—with the virus defeated after what felt like a thousand needle shots—the doctor said I could join the Marines.  In MCRD in San Diego, I added thirty pounds. Today I’m about two inches shorter and weight more than 180—we shrink as we age.

Even as a college student, I still managed to read at least one book a week when the average for an avid reader in America is 9 to 10 books annually.

Six years later, when the 3rd book in the “Riverworld” series was published—“The Dark Design” (1977)—I was teaching full time in the public schools and missed the book’s publication.  I also missed “The Magic Labyrinth” (1980) and “Gods of the Riverworld” (1983).

After I started teaching (1975 – 2005), the 60 to 100 hour work weeks—teaching, planning, correcting papers, dealing with the daily challenges like protecting my students from bullies, doing grades, calling parents—took a toll on my reading time. In addition, I was struggling to find time to write after I was bitten by the writing bug in 1968 during my first year of college. With the demands of teaching getting in the way of writing and reading, I often got up at 3:00 AM to write for an hour or so before going off to the classroom.

In Farmer’s series a number of historical figures—including Sir Richard Burton, Samuel Clemens, King John of England, Cyrano de Bergerac, Tom Mix, Mozart, Jack London, Lothar von Richthofen and Hermann Göring (for example)—interact with fictional characters with a goal to discover why they were brought back to life and the purpose behind the Riverworld’s creation.

Now retired and with real free time, I discovered that the Sci-Fi channel had produced a television series of Riverworld in 2001, loosely based on the Farmer’s books.  The film was released in 2003. Because I still have fond memories of reading the first two books, I searched Amazon and found the 1-hour and 30 minute Sci-Fi pilot episode and bought the DVD. This version starred Kevin Smith and Brad Johnson. It wasn’t the greatest quality production, but that film lit a hunger for more, and I went hunting.

Then I found the 175-Minute Riverworld film staring Tahmoh Penikett that was released to DVD in 2010.  According to Wiki, this 2nd version of “Riverworld” was supposed to be a 4-hour TV movie. I wonder what happened to the other 65 minutes. I feel cheated.

I think the production quality of the second film was better than the first but both took to many liberties with the story that I fondly remember from forty-two years ago. And I want more.

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_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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“The Bartender’s Tale” by Ivan Doig

Ivan Doig is at his best when his pen carries us to the rugged small towns and sheep ranches of Montana.

My first visit to Doig country was in “This House of Sky” (a finalist of the 1979 National Book Award). His latest book did not disappoint as it continued to vividly capture a way of life that has almost vanished in our Facebook, fast food, You Tube world where attention spans are often less than 30 seconds.

“The Bartender’s Tale” takes place in the summer of 1960. And when I finished reading, I envied the 12 year old boy—Rusty—who is the main character of the novel. I envied Rusty because of his father and that fact he was growing up in the small town of Gros Ventre, Montana where no one stays a stranger for long.

His father Tom is a legendary bartender, who owns an equally legendary Montana saloon called the Medicine Lodge, and the backroom offers powerful magic for the imaginations of young and old.

There is also the story of an innocent, childhood friendship and the pure love that develops between two twelve-year olds—a boy falling in love with a girl named Zoe.

This is the kind of story you want to savor hoping it never ends. While reading, there were times when my eyes grew moist and other moments when I found myself smiling at the warmth radiating from the page.  After the last page, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend and wishing you didn’t have to leave.

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_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”