Showtime

And away we go with Bleeding Sky.

It’s now available at Amazon – U.S. link is right here, and if you’re elsewhere in the wide world of Amazon, just go to your local Amazon and type ken white bleeding sky and it should take you to it (I haven’t checked all the international Amazon sites, but it’s there on the UK site and undoubtedly on the others as well.)

If you’re a physical book kinda guy or gal, it will probably take a few more days for the paperback to show up. It seems to me, if I can remember back to September, that it only took a couple of days, so probably by the 7th or 8th of December it should start showing up. Probably no later than the 9th or 10th.

The Freebooksy promo for Night and Day is running (just scroll down till you see the cover and/or my prince-of-darkness picture) – and hey, there’s new material about the book inspiration and me on the page, since they didn’t want the same old tired stuff that’s been on Amazon for the past few months.

The book is already in the 9000s on the free charts and hey, #12 in the mystery/private investigator chart. No idea how many downloads so far, since the reports are undergoing maintenance, but when I know, you’ll know. But feel free to grab a copy, even if you’ve already bought it. Every little bit helps.

I’ve also submitted it to a bunch of other free book promo sites, but put it on those for the last two days of the freebie (December 9th and 10th) to both get a boost towards the end, and see how they perform.

So grab Bleeding Sky, grab a free copy, or another copy of Night and Day, and start reading (and when you’re done, review, review, review – but only honestly – no fluff).

Once More Into The Breach

By this time tomorrow, things will really be happening with the Night and Day series

Bleeding Sky will be available for the Kindle (actually probably sometime tonight…I’d rather it be out there for 12 hours promo-free than not there as the promotional push begins). And it has a new blurb.

More than five years ago, hordes of vampires swept across the United States, killing or turning the humans in their path.

Now human and vampire live together in uneasy coexistence in a country cut off and shunned by the rest of the world.

Private investigator Charlie Welles is still dealing with the ramifications of his partner’s murder eight months ago. And his life is about to get more complicated.

The former German ambassador to the United States is in town as part of a nationwide trip to explore the possibility of reopening diplomatic relations. Welles is hired to oversee the ambassador’s safety during daylight hours, as well as that of the rogue U.S. Army captain and mysterious European vampire that accompany him.

He’s up against the human Resistance to the vampire occupation and elements inside the vampire hierarchy who oppose normal diplomatic relations with the rest of the world.

And if that’s not enough, Welles has another problem.

Nobody is quite who they seem to be…

Sometime shortly thereafter, the paperback version of Bleeding Sky will be available on Amazon (I’m guessing by Monday at the latest). Because Bleeding Sky went about 40 pages longer than Night and Day, I had to bump the price by a buck to retain any profit from sales – no complaining, please – even my own cost to buy copies for giveaways and such has gone up a buck as well. Anyway, Amazon seems to discount the list price by a buck, buck and a half, so readers won’t see much of the list price increase. And it has a final cover, as I’m finally done fidgeting with it…though another change might come sometime next week, since I like the new blurb better than the back cover copy on the “first” edition…

BS Cover 1 small

Not that back cover copy matters all that much at this point. The blurb people will see on Amazon is the one above – only on the physical book will they see the old blurb.

I did go back and forth on “expanded distribution”, which would allow readers to order a copy through bookstores and libraries to buy copies. The fact that it would add another buck to the price kind of put me off at this point, though if I decide to do a bookstore signing or start nagging the Jefferson County Library system to buy some copies, that might change down the road.

And Night and Day goes free for five days – December 6–10. I’m hoping for a ton of free “sales” and a good position on the free charts by the end of it. We’ll see how it goes, both the downloads and what effect it has on sales of Bleeding Sky and sales on Night and Day after the promo is over.

Today is a rest day. Maybe watch a couple of movies and just chill. I’ve given the snowball a push down the hill, so I can’t do anything but watch it go down and hope nobody picks it up and hurls it back at my head.

Pay to Play

And not the pay to play (often abbreviated to P2P) that you might encounter in your travels on the Internet. You know, the kind the involves physical love with someone you’ve hired.

No no no. I’m taking about paying to put the free giveaway of Night and Day into play.

I’ve talked about putting Night and Day out there as a freebie from December 6th-10th to promote the release of Bleeding Sky on the 6th. I’ve talked about giving away books, and whether they’ll get read or hoarded and never read.

But if the point is to put as many copies as possible of Night and Day into reader’s hands to promote the series and the newly released book, the objective should be to get as many copies as possible downloaded. Many thousands, should work better than many hundreds, statistically speaking.

To do that, to get the word out, I need to do some heavy promotion. Let as many people as possible know that it’s free with just a click.

There are plenty of sites out there to help with that. Though not as many since Amazon changed their affiliate rules recently. The many free ebook sites used to make their money by sticking an affiliate tag at the end of the link on their site, or in their email, or on their Facebook page. You go download the free book with that tag, then while you’re there, buy that 70” TV you were planning to get. The sites would collect their affiliate fee on everything you bought on that visit. Nothing for the book, money for the TV. Amazon changed that, making that less of an option for free ebook sites.

But there are still sites out there. And I’m using some of them. But while researching it, I found a site called Freebooksy. You can submit your books to them, but you can also pay for a “feature”, which gets your book on their site, in their daily email, tweeted, Facebooked, and other stuff. From the testimonials, it sounds like it gives some pretty good results. Thousands of downloads. High ranking in the Amazon free charts, which gets even more downloads.

So I decided to give it a try, plowing the profits from the last two weeks of September Night and Day sales (release to the end of September, which I just received, Amazon being two months behind) back into promotion.

I figure it’s worth experimenting with, as is the whole free book promotion thing. At worst, I’ll have wasted a little bit of money. At best it’ll both jump-start sales on Bleeding Sky and have a tag-along effect on Night and Day after the free promotion ends. And it builds my brand, as they say. That’s right, I’m no longer just Ken. Now I’m a brand name. For what, I’ll leave to the readers.

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I finished up the final runthrough of Bleeding Sky an hour ago. Uploaded the final ebook and paperback copy. I’ve already checked the ebook version, and it looks solid. Tomorrow morning, I’ll check the paperback proofs. Then put them both out there by tomorrow night, so they’ll be available on release day.

And while zoning out after that was done, I came up with a great idea for another Night and Day book. I need to do a lot more exploration mentally to see how it would play out, but at first glance, I really like it. Different from all the others I’ve written or am writing or have planned for the future.

No title yet, but if it plays out in my head as well as the initial concept does, I may delay Poison Blood a few months and do a fourth Night and Day book after Bandit’s Moon before Poison Blood. Yeah, yeah, I know people are waiting for the real scoop on how vampires swept across the United States, why they did, and how come us humans didn’t nip it all in the bud. As I’ve mentioned, there are answers to some of those questions in Bleeding Sky, though you won’t be able to trust everything to read there – the perspective is not always 100% correct.

The 100% real answers will be coming in Poison Blood. But if this fourth Night and Day series book plays out, it will be worth waiting a little longer.

Free Beez

Tomorrow I need to start putting the word out at various sites about the upcoming 5 free days for Night and Day, leading up to the release of Bleeding Sky on December 6th.

There’s a lot of controversy about doing freebies – some writers believe that the very idea of giving your work away is insane, and only feeds the idea in readers that they shouldn’t have to pay for books – and if you put one up for free for a few days, you’ll eventually put more up for free, and they’ll never have to pay.

Maybe I’m an atypical reader, but I read what I want to read, not what’s free. If I see something interesting for free, I might grab it, just as I might grab something that seems interesting if I have to pay for it. It’s not about having hundreds of books that I got for nothing – it’s about having books that I actually want to read.

The story goes that people fill up their Kindles with free books, just because they can, and that they’ll probably never read those dozens, hundreds, whatever that they’ve downloaded. It may be true. I have never run into one of those people myself, and even those who talk about them don’t seem to have any personal experience. They’re going on what, in their minds, seems like it might be.

But it doesn’t seem like it might be probably in my mind. Many people don’t read anything, or read a book or two a year. Maybe five (and then they consider themselves “heavy” readers). Why would those people want to stockpile a hundred books? So they’d be good into the 2030s? Why would they do that?

People who truly read a lot, who invest in a Kindle to help accomplish their voracious reading, might have a lot of books on their Kindle, but they’re there to be read. People who use Kindle apps on tablets, smart phones, or computers also probably have books they want to read on the devices, not just a hundred random free books that they might not even want to read.

It ain’t like “books by the yard”, where you have some nice bookcases and fill them with attractive book spines as part of the decor of the room – the illusion of being smart, or a reader, or whatever loaded bookshelves convey (my many overstuffed bookcases only show how loathe I am to dispose of books – if I read it, I generally want to hang onto it in case I want to read it again). A Kindle, tablet, or computer directory stuffed with books isn’t the same thing – unless you want to show it to people, one at a time, to say “Look at all the books I have!”

So I’m not really buying that people who download free books are doing it for the joy of acquisition – I believe most of them are downloading it to read. Giving a book and writer a chance for their attention.

And that’s why I’m doing it. Bleeding Sky comes out in 10 days. At the end of the updated Night and Day, there’s a teaser for Bleeding Sky and the first chapter of the new book. When somebody who downloads the freebie of Night and Day gets to the end, they’ll see that the next book in the series is either coming out or already out (depending on when they get to the end). And if they liked Night and Day, they might be up to spend $3 and grab the next book in the series. If they didn’t like Night and Day, probably not so much, but they still might have liked something about it, at least liked it enough to check it out. Or borrow it on their Kindle.

The number of free downloads can range from a few hundred to a few thousand – that’s why I’ll be promoing it, to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. Some will want to buy Bleeding Sky. Some won’t. Just as some may come into the series with Bleeding Sky and decide to pick up Night and Day to see what happened before.

That’s the way I read, the way I choose what my next book will be. And at the end of the day, just like with the writing, I can only go with what I know.

Still Waters Run Deep

I believe that little homily is meant to make us think that those who don’t say much actually have tons of really interesting stuff that they think about and they could be saying if they wanted to. This has not been my experience – sometimes they open their mouths and you realize that haven’t said anything because they really have nothing to say that even they want to hear.

All of my characters, on the other hand, are shallow in a way. Because what you see, what’s on the page in front of you, is pretty much all there is to them. At least at that moment in their fictional lives.

I talk to other writers who write page after page after page of backstory for their characters. Sometimes it’s just the major characters. Sometimes they go even deeper into the pack. So if you ask them what a character’s favorite color is, or where he went to high school and what was his girlfriend’s name there, they can tell you. Family? Sure, going back a couple of generations, maybe more. Favorite professor in university? of course, got that right here.

This is something that I can’t wrap my head around.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying it’s stupid. Every writer figures out what works best for him or her, and if it makes the writing better than it would have been, who am I to throw stones.

But for me as a writer, it’s even less inviting than the idea of outlining ahead of time. At least I can equate outlining to a very detailed to-do list. And although I would find it restrictive, I can see how some would find it useful to figure out everything ahead of time, then just write it. Front-loading the creation process so you can concentrate on how you tell the story on the backside.

Writing detailed character biographies, on the other hand, just doesn’t seem all that helpful to me. Does it improve my understanding of the character? No. Does it improve the reader’s understanding of the character? No. Not unless I share the information with the reader. And I don’t need to construct ahead of time what I’m going to tell the reader in the story.

What do I know about Charlie Welles? Pretty much what you know. It’s all there on the page. And when I need some more, I just make it up when I get to that point.

For example, in Night and Day there’s a scene where Phillip Bain is reading from Charlie’s file to him – “Charles Lawrence Welles. Forty-three years old. Born in Paola, Kansas to Allen and Meredith Welles. A year of junior college, then six years in the Army, posted to the 716th Military Police Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.” How much of that did I already know before it came time to write it? Well, I knew Charlie’s first and last name, and that he was in his early 40s. The rest? Made it up as I typed. His middle name. His parent’s names. Where he was born. His military service.

And those details I make up, on the fly, often lead the story in a different direction.

I chose Paola, Kansas as his birthplace because I wanted him to be from the midwest, and an old fire department friend originally came from Osawatome, Kansas, the town next door. I’d sold a story once with that old fire department friend’s alter-ego, Daryl Northport, as the lead. (Down the Road in Old Number Seven, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine – title sucks, story is okay, though not great – it was good enough to sell, so who am I to judge…) And as it turned out, though I didn’t know it at that point in Night and Day, Daryl Northport was going to be returning to my fictional universe. Having said that Welles was from Paola, it added an extra dimension to their interaction – it could have been anybody in the Northport role, but there was a better dynamic having it be someone familiar to Welles, and since Charlie was from Paola…

Or how ‘bout the 716th Military Police Battalion? Pulled it out of my ass. Went looking for an active duty MP battalion, that one looked okay, so that’s what I chose. Didn’t know squat about it at the time, and didn’t need to. But there are two character connections with the 716th in Bleeding Sky, and so I went a little deeper in this book. It’s part of the 101st Airborne. Had a very illustrious history in Viet Nam. Motto is Lex et Ordo (Law and Order). I lay the groundwork early, and then I use it later. But none of it is planned.

I’m going to pull the plug on this entry right now – there’s something connected to all this, but to go into it would make this post horrifically long(er) (and probably twice as uninteresting). So I’ll pick that up later today or tomorrow…

Right now, I need to finish my coffee and get writing. Exciting stuff is about to happen.