Are you self-published? I am!

Most people I meet don’t ask me anything, because they are often too busy talking about their world, but if they do ask what I do, I tell them I’m an author and a retired teacher. I might also talk about serving in the U.S. Marines and fighting in the Vietnam War, an experience that’s embedded forever inside my head.

Once I mention I’m an author that sometimes leads to other questions. Then there are the few who ask the question that’s the title of this post.  Recently I stopped by a coffee house and had a conversation with an attractive young lady. You might not consider her young. She was 58, but I’m 71 and to me, she’s young.

By the way, I can start a conversation with anyone or anything if the mood’s there.  I can even talk to my computer screen, car or me, and sometimes I answer me. If you spend as much time as I do alone in front of my desktop computer writing like I’m doing now, it makes sense.

The lovely young 58 year old asked me if I was self-published.  When I told her yes, she changed the conversation and talked about her passion for acting and that she had an agent but never earned enough from acting to support her and her children, so she waited tables, and with a master’s degree eventually went into teaching the same subject I taught for several decades.  Teachers are underpaid, but they are paid better than waiting tables. I know because I’ve had jobs in restaurants, and I was also a public school teacher for thirty years.

I woke up the next morning after that conversation wondering what others might think success means for a self-published indie author compared to traditional authors, and I ended up writing this post.

The Guardian in Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500 reported “It shouldn’t have surprised me that 75% of the royalty pie is going to 10% of authors: that’s life in many industries”

In fact, according to How Much Do Writers Earn/ Less Than You Think from Publishing Perspective.com, 20 percent of self-published authors earn nothing, zero, zilch, and the next 60 percent earn less than $1,000. Traditional published authors do a little better but not enough to be impressive. About 18 percent earn nothing and another 35 percent earn less than $1,000 annually.

Study the chart following this paragraph and you’ll discover that not too many authors (1 to 3 percent) earn more than $100,000 annually, and it doesn’t matter if they’re an indie or traditional author.

annual-writing-income-by-author-type

There are also terms that rank authors. For instance, there are midlist authors and bestselling authors.  My former wife of 15 years is a bestselling author with 8 books published in more than thirty languages, and her work has sold more than a million copies in English alone. While we were married, I edited many of those books before they went to her publisher.

However, the vast majority of titles published are midlist books, and by definition, I’m a midlist author. My  books have sold more than 22,000 copies earning me about $40k since January 2008, and more than 43,000 have been downloaded  during free giveaways I paid hundreds of dollars to advertise though BookBub and eReader News Today.

Then there were the pirates. Back in 2008, I was told that my first title, “My Splendid Concubine”, was the #1 downloaded pirated book of the month or year. I have no idea how many of the pirated versions were downloaded, and it doesn’t bother me because I don’t think most readers that download pirated books to save a few dollars would spend money to buy books anyway, but maybe if the pirate liked the book, they’d tell a friend who actually buys books instead of stealing them.

In addition, according to Janet Reid, Literary Agent, you have to sell more than 20,000 copies to be noticed, and The Guardian reported that the median earnings of professional authors fall below the minimum wage. I’ve sold more than 20,000 copies, but no one seems to have noticed me yet. Does that man Janet Reid is wrong?

For the last seven years, I’ve earned an average of about $5,500 annually from my writing, and that’s about half of poverty wages if you have no other income. I have several other sources of income, because I worked for 45 years, fought for my country, invested, saved, and planned. Even though I’ve been writing books and learning the craft of writing since 1968, I didn’t hold my breath waiting for fame and fortune to walk in the door.

If you go back to the chart above, you’ll discover that even those poverty wages as an author put me in the top 10 percent of indie self-published authors and the 75 – 80 percent bracket for traditionally published authors. That means my work has sold more copies and earned more money than 75 percent of traditional published authors, but there are still critics out there that consider self-published indie authors losers and posers. I think the lovely young 58 year old I had a conversation with in that coffee house was one of them. She might have asked me other questions, but I don’t remember if she did.

What about all those indie and traditional authors that don’t sell well? How do we judge the quality of their writing when we don’t have the time to read that many books? After all, it takes time and effort to write a book. You don’t do it in the time it takes to stick a piece of gum in your mouth. It can take weeks, months, and years. It took me almost 10 years to write my first published novel, the one that’s earning me most of my money as an author.

Another way to judge the quality of an author’s work is reputable literary contests. Most charge an entry and/or reading fee, but that doesn’t guarantee an author’s work will pick up an award,

Predators and Editors strongly advise writers to enter only those contests without a fee. What do authors do when there are literally hundreds of writing contests but most of them charge reading and/or entry fees? I wrote about that in: Is it wrong to pay an entry fee to a literary contest?  Over the years, my work has picked up a number of awards from literary contests that charged fees where about 95 percent of the authors that submitted work and paid the same fees didn’t earn any mention of their books.

Then there are reader reviews. For instance, Amazon. The 3rd edition of my 1st book has a 4.2 average with 292 customer reviews. My second title has 3.9 with 19 reviews; the third title is a memoir and it has 29 reviews with a 4.4 average, and my last title only has 5 reviews with a 4.0 average. No matter how hard I try, it hasn’t been easy finding readers for my last novel. It doesn’t help that every time I write a book it’s in another genre. That means I have to hunt for another audience of readers that might want to read it. I’ve also written about Authors Finding Readers where I explain why it isn’t easy to find readers.

But last Friday when I was asked if I was a self-published author by that attractive young 58 year old, and I said yes, there was no follow up questions so I didn’t bother to tell her my work had sold more than 22,000 copies, more than most authors, indie or traditional, will ever sell.

How should authors be judged – by the quality of their work or the number of sales or maybe a mixture of both? What do you think?

___________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on August 26 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel_edited-1

Where to Buy

His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal. His 4th novel is the award winning The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Give the guy a break for having sex at age 15, and then doing it repeatedly

Two reader reviews that were recently posted on the same day on Amazon for my first novel gave me the idea for this post, and then I couldn’t get it out of my head. That’s why I wrote the post—to get it out of my head.

The 15-year old mentioned in the title of this post I wrote about in my first novel, and he died more than a hundred years ago. He turned nineteen in 1854 soon after he arrived in China. The novel, “My Splendid Concubine”, covers Robert Hart’s first decade in China. He stayed in China until 1908, and died in England in 1911.

“Hart’s devotion to his work played havoc with his emotional life. As a young man, in spite of his Methodist conscience, he had bouts of promiscuity. In 1857 he took a Chinese concubine, Ayao, with whom he had three children and for whom he developed genuine affection and respect.” – Wiki

Anyway, in 1999 when I started researching the life of the main character of “My Splendid Concubine,” I read the surviving journals that Robert Hart didn’t burn later in his life, and what I read clearly revealed a nineteen year old who thought about women and sex a lot. In fact, the evidence suggests that he had sex with so many women starting at age 15—when he was in college in Belfast, Ireland—that he ended up being treated for an STD, and when that news reached his father and family, it’s what propelled him to escape to China and into the arms of Chinese women.

The women he lusted after and had sex with during his early years in China were part of Robert Hart’s life, and I made a decision while writing the rough draft of that historical fiction novel that I was going to be true to who he really was and not write a sanitized version like the one his niece Juliet Bredon published in 1913. Click on the previous link, and you may download Bredon’s book and read it for free from Gutenberg.org.

Here are the two reviews that gave me the idea for this post. They were posted on Amazon on July 20, 2015 for “My Splendid Concubine”.

1-Star: Rita Schwartz wrote, “If all you want to read is about sex, this book might be for you. Again the description of the book made this sound like a historical novel. Maybe it was, I only got about three chapters read.”

5-star: Robyn Johnson said, “I couldn’t put it down. Memorizing! What a surprise and delight. One of the best books I have read in years! I usually never read a book twice, this one I will make the exception! I think it is a must read!”

In conclusion, maybe the book is fortunate that more readers enjoyed the story than those who did not. For instance, on July 21, 2015 at 3 PM, “My Splendid Concubine” had 192 customer reviews—182 were listed as verified purchases. One-hundred-and-eighteen of the reviews had 5-stars and eight of those were not verified purchases, 39 were 4-star (all verified purchases), 20 were 3-stars (all verified purchases), 9 were 2-stars (one was not a verified purchase), and 6 were 1-star (one was not a verified purchase).

When you are about 10k – 15k words away from finishing the rough draft of your next novel, “The Last Sorcerer”, you should be working on that instead of writing a post comparing two recent reviews for your first book, but it’s all about lust and sex so that should make this post okay, I think.

Book One on July 20 - 2015_______________________

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

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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 followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

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Is it wrong to pay an entry fee to a literary contest?

Back in April 2012, a critic wrote this comment for one of my blog posts: “It’s quite an accomplishment to boast of winning book contests that one pays to enter. It’s like bragging about charming a lady of the evening onto her back.”

My response—would it surprise you to discover that there is an entry fee for the two most prestigious literary awards in the United States: $50.00 for the The Pulitzer Prizes, and $135.00 for the National Book Awards? If you don’t believe that, click the links and read the evidence.

In addition, Poets & Writers Magazine lists many reputable literary contests that charge fees, and for decades I paid the fees and entered some of those contests often not placing, and the literary contests that I did place in are not listed on Winning Writers.com’s list of Contests and Services to Avoid.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

I have also entered Writer’s Digest’s literary contests several times and the fee is $100 each time.  I have never placed, but with that $100 fee comes a judge’s detailed commentary and score that authors may quote for promotional purposes—that is if the judge says anything nice about the book. There is no guarantee.

What counts is not the fee but if the contest is juried. There is nothing wrong with a literary contest that charges a fee that goes toward the costs of running the contest and a cash prize for the grand prize winners.

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Every literary contest does not have a foundation or grant to pay the costs of running a literary contest. In fact, Writer Beware says, “Is the contest free? If so, you probably have nothing to lose by entering—though be sure to read the fine print. If you’re a poet, be aware that a ‘free’ contest is one of the major warning signs of a vanity anthology scheme.”

Many legitimate contests charge a fee to cover processing expenses (which sometimes include an honorarium to readers) and to fund the prize.” Source: Writer Beware ® Blogs!

Poets and authors enter reputable contests to establish the fact that what they write might be worth reading.

For use on Twitter Created January 29 - 2015

And when poets and authors place in a reputable, unbiased literary contest, they should publicist it, because if they don’t, who will? Published authors and poets are responsible to promote their own work, and if they are traditionally published, the publisher still expects the writers to promote their own work and build an online author platform.

_______________________

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

 ON SALE - Cover with Blurbs

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Twitter Hash Tag Magic for Authors and Bloggers—You Decide

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday every week, I join several hash tag groups on Twitter, and we support each other by Retweeting each other’s Tweets that might lead readers to view our blog posts, and if we are authors—not all of us are—our blogs support our books by attracting readers who might buy one or more of our books after reading a few free blog posts.

#ArchiveDay is on Saturday; then there is #SundayBlogShare, and last #MondayBlogs. Out of curiosity I wanted to see if my books sold more copies on those days than the rest of the month, so I went back and compared the sales numbers for January, February, March and April.

January through April covers 151 days, and Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays took up 47 of those days or 31.1% of the total. During that four month period, my books sold 325 copies or an average of 2.1 a day.

During the Twitter hash tag days with #ArchiveDay, #SundayBlogShare and #MondayBlogs, my books sold 132 copies or 40.6% of the total for almost 3 a day.

To break it down further:

  • There were 17 #ArchiveDays, and 35 books sold for an average of 2 a day.
  • There were 15 #SundayBlogShare days, and 44 books sold for an average of 3 a day.
  • There were 15 #MondayBlogs days, and 53 books sold for an average of 3.5 a day.

How about Blog traffic?
Were there more views on the three hash tag days?

Only April was available for daily totals. To be fair, Saturdays have always been slow for views even before I joined the three hash tag groups. It would be interesting to see what would happen if #ArchiveDay was on a Tuesday or Wednesday. In fact, Fridays, Saturdays and national holidays (for instance, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the early weeks of the summer when kids are out of school and many families take off on vacation) is almost always lower in view counts compared to the rest of the week or year, and I think the reason #ArchiveDay on Saturday still hit the monthly average in book sales instead of ending up lower says a lot.

Lloyd Lofthouse.org had a total of 4,267 views that arrived from Twitter; 15,064 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 355 Posts by May 7, 2015

  • April total/daily average = 1,306/44
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 159/39.7 (90.2% of daily average)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 193/48.2 (109.5%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 307/76.7 (174.3%)

Crazy Normal – the classroom expose had a total of 2,549 views that arrived from Twitter; 17,727 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 775 Posts by May 7, 2015.

  • April total/daily average = 2,174/72
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 272/67 (93%)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 343/85.7 (119%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 315/78.7 (109.3%)

iLookChina.net had a total of 1,293 views that have arrived from Twitter; 313,563 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 2,010 Posts by May 7, 2015.

  • April total/daily average = 9,341/311
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 913/228.2 (73.3%)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 1,131/282.7 (90.9%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 1,469/367.2 (118%)

The Soulful Veteran had a total of 556 views that have arrived from Twitter; 8,402 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 212 Posts by May 7, 2015.

  • April total/daily average = 771/26
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 272/67 (257.6%)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 343/85.7 (329.1%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 315/78.7 (302.6%)

In conclusion, I think the results show that on the three hash tag days, on average, there was more traffic to my blogs and more book sales—especially for The Soulful Veteran blog where views increased dramatically by more than 250 percent, and this blog has a very poor search engine rank when compared to my other three sites through Alexa. I think it’s safe to say that increased traffic coming from Twitter on hash tag days also increased book sales—at least for Sundays and especially Mondays.

_______________________

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

ON SALE - Cover with Blurbs

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Promoting the Same Book for Seven Years—info for authors

First—a brief history of my first novel (I’ve published four so far and have started a fifth that I plan to turn into a series).

I started researching and writing “My Splendid Concubine” in 1999 (total copies sold to date are almost 21,000).  During that time, we visited China nine or ten times and traveled extensively throughout that country doing research. Concubine, after a stack of printed revisions almost as tall as I am—I was six-foot-four but as we age, we shrink—the novel’s 1st edition came out in December 2007, and it sold 562 copies in its first two years. In 2010, the novel went through more editing and revisions, and then the 2nd edition came out with a new cover. Between 2010 and 2013, the 2nd edition sold more than 11-thousand copies. The 3rd edition, after more editing, revisions and another new cover, came out in 2013 and has sold more than 9-thousand additional copies and is still selling.

During those seven years, Concubine was promoted in several local brick-and-mortar book store author events, through thirty-one traditional talk radio shows where I was a guest expert on China, and three book blog tours in addition to two BookBub ad campaigns: one in 2013 and another in 2014.

What follows is a brief report of the most recent $0.99 promotion of My Splendid Concubine from April 13 – April 19, 2015.  When that promotion ended, I submitted a price increase from $0.99 back to $3.99, but as I’m writing this post, I see that Amazon has kept the price at $0.99—and it has now been more than five days since the official promotion ended.

Starting Sunday, 4/12, I pinned—after I made sure that price had been dropped by Amazon and Draft2Digital—a Tweet promoting the sale to the top of my Twitter page and tweeted fresh tweets to support the sale several times a day in addition to the pinned tweet that was always there.

To discover how to pin a Tweet to the top of your Twitter page so that it’s what everyone sees first when they visit, I’ve included this video from YouTube that explains how to do it.

When I checked my Twitter Analytics page (I’m not sure you can open this link), it turns out that the Tweet that promoted the sale (the pinned tweet) was the Top Tweet for the last 20 days with 4,178 impressions (number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter—I have no idea how they measure that). Using Twitter analytic, I learned that the same pinned Tweet was Retweeted 54x, the image was clicked on 7x and the link that led to Amazon was clicked 5x, and that was just the pinned Tweet.

I have no idea how many times all of the other promotional tweets were seen. For instance, I found one of the same Tweets that was not the pinned version, and it was viewed 904x and engaged 23x. Engaged means the number of times a user has interacted with a Tweet, and I probably posted the same Tweet three to five times a day during the sale.

But what about the four ads I ran with The Fussy Librarian, Choosy BookwormeReaderNewsToday and Riffle?

The price drop to $0.99 was submitted on 4/11. Note: Seven copies sold for the full price at $3.99 between 4/1 through 4/4.  No copies sold between 7/5 – 7/10.

Sales by Date During the Promotion

  • 4/11 – 2
  • 4/12 – 20
  • 4/13 – 29 (two ads ran: The Fussy Librarian and The Choosy Bookworm)
  • 4/14 – 50 (one ad ran: eReaderNews Today)
  • 4/15 – 14
  • 4/16 – 13 (I think the ad from Riffle ran—a site with a high Alexa rank in Canada—but there were no sales from Canada during the promotion, and I’m not sure if the ad ran the day it was scheduled, because I never saw it even though I searched.)
  • 4/17 – 3
  • 4/18 – 3
  • 4/19 – 3
  • 4/20 – 1 (I submitted the price change from $0.99 to $3.99 at 7:30 AM)

During the same time span as the Concubine promotion, my other three books sold 12 copies at the full price of $3.99.

The result: More than 160 copies have sold so far in April for all four of my books—but most of the sales were for “My Splendid Concubine”. The total number of sales for January, February and March were 148 or an average of 49 copies a month. I think that an increase of sales of more than 326% for April was a success.

 
I think exposure is more important than profit. If the work is worth reading, the exposure might lead to those profits in the future.

For instance, Amanda Hocking didn’t earn much money or sell many books for her first eight years as an indie author, and then her sales went viral making her an internationally known author and a millionaire.  For those eight years, Hocking worked part time jobs for poverty wages, and lived at home with her mother who nagged her relentlessly to get a real job that would support her. Hocking said she worked really hard developing her social media platform. I wonder if her mother is nagging her today.

In May and June, my 4th book, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, will be going on a book Blog Tour with a $0.99 price drop from $3.99 in addition to plans to run ads on several sites, for instance, BookBub (if the ad request is accepted), Fussy Librarian, and eReaderNewsToday.

_______________________

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

 Covers for first 3 novels

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A Book Cover Must Make a Promise, and the story must Deliver it

How important is a book’s cover? Well, for an answer, The Midwest Book Review rejects books submitted for review if the cover doesn’t measure up to traditional industry standards. Midwest reviewers do not bother to open those books. They go in the recycle bin.

On Saturday, January 10, 2015, I attended the January meeting of the Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club to hear a presentation by Jim Azevedo, the Marketing Director of Smashwords. The title of his presentation was “The Secrets to Ebook Self-Publishing Success”. With a Power Point Presentation that had 72 screen shots, he focused on ten secrets, and the one that grabbed my attention was #2, Creating a SUPBERB cover image.

It was soon obvious to me that a book’s cover was probably one of the most important steps to publishing success after writing a riveting story that is professionally edited, because more than 26% of the presentation focused on the importance of an attention grabbing book cover that makes promises about the story.

Azevedo provided a case study of one cover that went through four changes. During the metamorphosis of this book’s cover from dull to boring, then interesting to sexy and hot, it was barely selling.

It wasn’t until the sexy and hot fourth cover in the sixth month that the novel took off and became an Apple iBoostore #5 bestseller, and today the book has been a New York Times Best Seller and is still selling well on Amazon—when I checked while writing this post, it was ranked #466 in competition with more than 12-million titles on Amazon.

The book I’m talking about is Playing for Keeps by R. L. Mathewson, and on Amazon it currently has a 4.5 average from 1,128 customer reviews. If you check out the paperback, you’ll discover cover number three (there were two clovers before #3 that are not worth seeing).

What does that #466 rank mean? The one-time “My Splendid Concubine” hit #56 on Amazon, it sold more than 2,000 copies in 24 hours. On January 13, Tuesday, the same novel sold three copies and was ranked #114,722.

Anyway, Smashwords’ Jim Azevedo got me thinking. The cover of my second novel, Running with the Enemy, wasn’t promising what readers would find in the story compared to the winning book covers that I saw in the presentation.

Now I have generated several choices to replace the current second e-book cover of “Running with the Enemy” (the paperback still has the first cover), and anyone who leaves a comment and votes helping me select the best cover will be entered in a drawing for a free e-book copy of the novel (or a paperback if the winner prefers one and lives in the United States). If the winner already read it, that’s okay. I’ll send the winner of the drawing a copy of my next novel when it comes out in a few months—“The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova”. It’s with the copy editor as I’m writing this Blog post and the cover is pretty much a done deal—I hope. And if the winner doesn’t want to read these two novels because they offer the theme or genre the winner prefers to read, then I will offer an Amazon “Give as a Gift” equal to the full price of the e-book.

If you decide to take part in helping me select a better cover for “Running with the Enemy”, there are four choices. Please indicate your choice in a comment. Thank you. To help you make a choice, I’ve copied after the five new cover choices the most helpful review on Amazon in addition to what a Writer’s Digest Judge said about the novel. In addition, if none of them work better than the current e-book cover, then I will return to the Adobe Elements editor and get back to work. The drawing for the winner will be held on February 1, 2015.

FIRST ROUND OF CHOICES

Resized and Low Res 4  Covers for Voting on 1-17

“Lloyd Lofthouse describes his book Running with the Enemy as a memoir that evolved into fiction. As a Vietnam veteran who had seen and experienced enough to leave him with post-traumatic stress disorder, he wrote this book it seems to come to terms with all he experienced in Vietnam. The book became fiction, an action novel with a strong romance component.

“Overall it rings true of war and what it was like to serve in Vietnam. Much of the book details the fighting, the casualties and the heartbreak and the trauma experienced by the soldiers. The book also takes you on a dizzying journey when the lovers Tuyen and Ethan flee to other countries in Southeast Asia – Laos, Cambodia, Bangkok, Thailand ,and Burma (Myanmar).

“For those who would like to get a sense of what combat was really like, this is an excellent book, which began as a memoir of Vietnam.” – A Novel of Combat by Harvee L.

“Obviously drawn from the author’s first-hand experiences as a Marine serving in Vietnam, Running with the Enemy is a rough but occasionally heartfelt war story. … The book is sometimes too obviously drawn from his experience. But ultimately that’s a small complaint about a book that, on the whole, is quite good and has a lot to say about the nature of the conflict .”  – 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards commentary from an anonymous judge

Note: This novel—awarded Honorable Mentions in four literary contests and a genre Runner-Up in a fifth literary contest—was targeted by a flock of Goodreads trolls at the time of its publication. Here is the review from one of the Trolls, that I linked to the group of Goodreads bullies, who  never bought or read the novel and gave it one-star on Amazon in an attempt to sabotage its sales and my reputation.

“Lofthouse’s attempt at a 60’s-era thriller is cliched, trite and rather boring. If you’re looking for a good read, check out Graham Greene’s Quiet American instead.” – Miss M

SECOND ROUND OF CHOICES on 1-22-2015

Thanks to comments and suggestions the choice has narrowed down to two covers. They look similar but both have different images on the top third of each cover—which one works best?

Low Res January 22 - two choices

 THIRD ROUND OF CHOICES ON 1-24-15

These two choices are based on the majority of comments from both Twitter and this post.

Jan 24 Low Def Final two choices of New Cover

FOURTH ROUND on 1-25-15

This may be the final cover. There were two more suggestions after I posted the choices for the third round. One suggestion was for a compromise between A & B, and the second suggestion was to take the kissing couple and make them partially opaque/transparent. I used the burn tool on Adobe Elements to take away some of the brightness in the stars and scanned the couple with the Eraser set at 5% Opacity. I started at 20% Opacity and worked down to 5% in several stages, and discovered that anything more than 5% and the lovers started to vanish into the starry sky. This cover revision is still open for suggestions until February 1, 2015, and I thank everyone who is taking part in the process.

Low Res Final  Cover on Jan 25

The Winner of the Drawing for February 1, 2015 was:

Poetic Justice
@ http://poeticjusticect.com/

The details of the giveaway were:

“anyone who leaves a comment and votes helping me select the best cover will be entered in a drawing for a free e-book copy of the novel (or a paperback if the winner prefers one and lives in the United States). If the winner already read it, that’s okay. I’ll send the winner of the drawing a copy of my next novel when it comes out in a few months—“The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova”. It’s with the copy editor as I’m writing this Blog post and the cover is pretty much a done deal—I hope. And if the winner doesn’t want to read these two novels because they don’t offer the theme or genre the winner prefers to read, then I will offer an Amazon “Give as a Gift” equal to the full price of the e-book.”

_______________________

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

His fourth novel is The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Book Cover and Blurb to use in promotions

Lloyd Lofthouse also worked as a maître d’ in a nightclub called the Red Onion for a few years. A romantic at heart, in his award winning novels, he tests true love in difficult situations and the challenges of keeping that love alive. My Splendid Concubine, his first novel, is an epic love story that teaches acceptance and respect for other people and their cultures. Running with the Enemy, his second novel is a love story that will either cost the characters their lives or will complete each other’s hearts. Lloyd Lofthouse lives with his family in California’s San Francisco Bay area.

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The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova – is it porno, erotica, or something else?

This morning—Saturday, December 20, 2014—I mailed off the USB drive to my copy editor with the final rough draft of my next novel, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova. If all goes well, the book will be released by March 2015 at the latest.

My first novel was My Splendid Concubine, and it was historical fiction set in 19th century China based on a real-life love story.

My second novel, Running with the Enemy, was also a love story and a thriller set during the Vietnam War in the 1960’s, and I borrowed from events that happened to me and others in my unit in Vietnam when I served there as a U.S. Marine.

Number three was a memoir, Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé—with no love story or sex—and it came out in November 2014.

The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova is a 1990 libido-driven, multi-murder mystery, want-to-be love story set mostly in the palace of a nightclub called the Aphrodisiac Academe in a beach community in Southern California.

LowiDef Dec 19 Book Cover for Redemption With Title Flattened

In the early 1980’s, I was the maître d’ for a few years for a similar nightclub called The Red Onion in the same region, and the nightclub in this novel is modeled after that one that had three dining rooms—one with a glass ceiling and full-sized palm trees—and three bars for a nightclub that held up to 1,000 lusty dancers and drinkers, including a DJ’s booth and a stage for live entertainment.

“While the dance floor in a nightclub of this size is the central arena of seduction, actual sex usually takes place in bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. In other cases the disco became a kind of ‘main course’ in a hedonist’s menu for a night out.” – Disco American Heritage Magazine by Peter Braunstein, Vol, 50, No. 7, November 1999

The family that runs the fictional Aphrodisiac Academe in my murder mystery is a deliberately sexually dysfunctional family—or maybe they are normal and everyone else isn’t normal.

A reclusive 96-year old billionaire owns it all, and she helps rescue abused women with help from her grandson, the main character whose name appears in the title, but he has a problem. He has sworn off being the Lothario he was raised to be in the family tradition, and, for him, it’s a challenge to stay sexually sober. Don was taught by his Lothario grandfather to seduce women starting when he was age ten. In the novel, he’s forty. Will he succeed in leaving the old life of lust behind and find the love he craves with one woman?

And will he avoid getting murdered?

My question is this – is this novel pornography, erotica or just a mystery in a setting where lust and sex is normal?  The world of nightclubs and bars is a world we don’t read or hear about often, but there are literally thousands across the country, and the Top 100 List for Nightclubs and Bars in 2014 showcased the current economic strength of the industry with more than $1.5 billion in combined total revenue in 2013.

How big is this industry that is the setting for my first mystery? The US bar and nightclub industry has about 45,000 establishments (single-location companies and branches of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $20 billion.

Peter Braunstein wrote, “From the juke joint to the dance hall, American clubs in the postwar era have been the center of a cultural struggle pitting the forces of hedonism, revelry, and sexual liberation against those of socio-sexual stability and control.”

_______________________

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

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Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography at 2014 Southern California Book Festival

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).

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