Wayne Stinnett, Author

Wayne Stinnett, Author

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Finding Time to Write

Between careers, kids, spouses, and other responsibilities, many writers find it difficult to carve out time to write. Then there are interruptions. Just when you're getting into your groove, little Billy's diaper needs changing, or the wife reminds you that the grass needs to be mowed and it's getting dark.

So how do you find quality time to let your creative side run free without interruptions. Being a full time writer, it's not quite so hard for me. I usually listen to trop-rock music when I'm just catching up on email, networking, researching, and such. But when I'm writing, I prefer soft jazz. The door to my office is always open, but my family knows that if soft jazz is playing, any interruption should be preceded with a shout of "Fire!"

Recently, a friend came up with a solution outside the box. Alison Ryan is her pen name. She has a husband and four young boys, so interruptions are part and parcel to her day. She found an office co-op. This is where a group of people go in together to rent office space, usually at a price per person per day far less than a latte at Starbucks. Everyone is there to work, not socialize. And many times, she's the only one there.

Imagine that. A quiet office where you can be alone with the voices in your head. It even comes with a coffee maker and supplies. So, how do you create an environment that's conducive with getting words out?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Blue Collar to No Collar, From Trucker to Amazon Bestselling Novelist in Two Years

After three years and ten novels, my first non-fiction book is now available on Amazon. I set out to write a short article for this blog, summarizing some past posts, but it kinda grew too big. This isn't a how-to book, I don't offer any magical incantations for success, other than common-sense planning, hard work, and determination.

What I do offer is a logical approach for aspiring and new authors to achieve their dream of earning a living as an author. No guarantees, just a few tips, observations, mistakes to avoid,  and a lot of what I hope will motivate the reader. And people tell me I'm not devoid of all humor.

So, if you've been thinking about writing your first book, or have several published and need a little motivation to keep on keeping on, I wrote this for you.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Ship's Store is OPEN!

Readers asked for it and it took several months to make it happen, but the Gaspar's Revenge Online Ship's Store is now open, selling swag from my books.


We had to revamp my website, change hosts, servers, and email, just to get the different parts to work together. But, the net result is an autonomous system, where customers can order print on demand tee-shirts, tote bags, and coffee mugs with the Gaspar's Revenge and Rusty Anchor logos.

We'll be adding more items in the next few months, including Jesse and Rusty's favorite coffee from Hacienda La Minita in Costa Rica. Plus sunglasses, cellphone cases, hats, and whatever else my readers want. 

You can get to the Ship's Store by clicking the image above, or at either of the following links.

I anticipate breaking even by the end of summer.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Launch

The launch of Fallen Angel went really well. But, it could and should have gone a whole lot better. Let me explain what I wanted to happen first and why.

The goal of launching a new book is to try to get it in front of new readers. I approach this the same way I do advertising. If you do a lot of big ads, like BookBub, you know that Amazon dampers the affect of the big spike on ranking. How or why is a mystery, but it happens. Fallen Angel sold nearly 1000 copies in the first 24 hours, yet it only reached #96. That wasn't supposed to happen.

My launch strategy was to try to line up what I have control over, with what I could intelligently predict would happen beyond my control. The two major things there being BookBub's and Amazon's notification to followers. I know I have a lot of Amazon followers, I could tell from my last release. I know on my BookBub dashboard, that I have 680 followers there. I also have over 2300 subscribers to my twice monthly newsletter. The beuty about this launch plan is that it will work for any number of followers and subscribers, just on a lower or higher scale.

From my last three launches, I know that Amazon has emailed me almost precisely 72 hours after clicking Publish on KDP, asking if I want them to inform my followers. Also, I know from past experience that those emails don't go to all followers at one time. It's spaced out over several days, beginning the day after I reply that yes, I'd like Amazon to let my followers know. Amazon knows about their own spike dampener.

So, to build a launch like a promotion, I wanted to slowly ramp sales up before the big push, Amazon informing my followers. This way, the Amazon spike wouldn't be as pronounced. To do this, I had to try to guess when BookBub would inform my followers there, then split my subscriber base into ever increasing numbers and email them in increments.

BookBub's deal is pretty new, they just started it after my last release, so I had to look beyond my own data to determine when this might happen. For most writers I talked to who had recent releases and good sized BookBub followers, it was three days after entering the new book on their BookBub dashboard.

So, knowing that the third day after publishing, BookBub would tell my 680 followers and the fourth day after publishing, Amazon would begin the heavy lifting, I needed to set up a ramp of sales from the moment of publishing to the morning of the third day after publishing. I decided to break my mailing list up into several parts.

Here's step-by-step what I planned to do:
1) Click Publish around noon Eastern time. Once it goes live, I'd have control..
2) Do nothing for quite a few hours, knowing that some people are gonna find it anyway. I did in fact get several sales early on, without mentioning it to a soul.
3) Very early on Day Two, and I'm talking paper-route way-before-the-sun early, send the newsletter about the release to the top 20 subscribers with the highest and earliest click rates. This takes some work in figuring out and needs to be done well ahead of time.
4) Send the same newsletter to the next 50 highest subscribers at noon on Day Two and post the link on my Facebook author page.
5) Send the same newsletter to the next 50 subscribers at 6pm and post the link on my personal Facebook page. My highest sales hours and page reads occur between 6pm and midnight.
6) Send the same newsletter to the next 200 subscribers about midnight on Day Two. There are some insomniacs in my group and sales would be good through the night.
7) Send the same newsletter to the next 500 subscribers at 6am on Day Three. By now, I've used up 820 of my 2300 subscribers, but all of them are 5 star subscribers with high open and click rates. These 500 are a bit less of the click-within-minutes subscribers like the earlier ones. Many of these buy, but usually hours after the email is sent.
8) Send the same newsletter to the next 700 subscribers at 6pm on Day Three. Now, I'm getting into the 4 star subscribers.
9) Send the same newsletter to the remaining 800+ subscribers at 9pm on Day Three. Many of these are new and untested, so there will be a good many quick buyers among the ones that buy more infrequently, or just plain don't use the links I provide.
10) BookBub takes over on the morning of Day Four.
11) Amazon takes over on the morning of Day Five.

My goal was to get a trickle of sales during the overnight hours after publishing and I did indeed get 12 sales before telling anyone. The top subscribers, the ones who click within minutes of getting the email regardless of time of day, get their email on their phones. So the newsletters sent out at four different times on Day Two, will be bought up within minutes. The emails on Day Three will become more sporadic, as I get down into the 3 and 2 star subscribers.This approach, in my mind, would produce steadily climbing sales numbers throughout the period before BookBub and Amazon start making spikes.

A well thought out plan? I thought so. But, just like a battle plan, which begins to devolve and fall apart upon first friction with the enemy. my launch plan was doomed from the start. First off, I usually launch at $.99 for my subscribers, then raise it to full price after a day. I messed up and clicked Publish with the price set at full price. Being in review, I couldn't do anything until morning. So, those 12 overnight sales were at full price.

Come morning on Day Two, I lowered the price and waited anxiously. Usually a price change takes a while to update on Amazon, so I panicked and merged the many groups, thinking I wouldn't be able to tell my subscribers until later in the day. However, the price change took affect within an hour. Then I screwed up again and sent the email to the whole 2300 subscribers.

The result was six sales on Day One, another six at full price overnight into Day Two, then a huge spike of nearly 1000 sales by the end of Day Two. I left the price at $.99 until noon on Day Three, but only garnered another 82 sales, some at the reduced price and some at full price. Big spike and deep trough. Just what I wanted to avoid. Still, I sold 992 copies in 24 hours,  with a 71% open rate and 53% click rate. My subscribers are engaged.

So, back to writing and sharpening up this launch plan for the next time. That'll be with the launch of Ruthless Charity, sometime in June or July.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fallen Angel is now available on Amazon! Volume 9 in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series.

With our move to Beaufort and me probably spending too much time on the water, it's taken longer to get Fallen Angel to market than any of my other books. I apologize for that, but I am enjoying my time on the boat.

This book was so much fun to write. My other books are set in places where I once lived or visited, but with the exception of the Keys, it's been many years and my memories are worn. So, why not send Jesse up to Beaufort, South Carolina to solve a problem?

I was able to write things that are fresh in my mind with this one. And if I needed to see something closer, I didn't have to emply Google maps. Instead, I launched Pescador and went there to explore the scenery Jesse would be passing through, first hand.

Anyway, I hope you like the book. Both the Kindle and paperback versions are available, now. The price will be only $.99 for a very short time. The audiobook version was completed last night and should be available in a few days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Buy One Action Novel, Get Two Free!

With the publication date of my latest novel, Fallen Angel, quickly approaching, Amazon is offering the box set of the first three ebooks for the price of just the first one. For THREE BUCKS you get Fallen Out, regularly $2.99, Fallen Palm, regularly $3.99, and Fallen Hunter, also $3.99. I'll do the math cor ya. If bought separately, the price would be $10.97, for a savings of almost $8 off regular price. As you can see, it's even more than half off the regular price of the box set. Click the link below, to take advantage of this three day only deal.

This is nothing but a blatant display of commercialism, y'all. I want you to read these three, so that by the time you finish the next five in the series, you'll be ready to buy the new book, when it comes out. Fallen Angel will premier on Amazon on April 29th, so get to reading.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Back on The Water Again.

April is here, spring has sprung, and I'm back to work. A whole lot has happened since publishing Fallen Tide, almost five months ago. I started writing two new books immediately after the release, but had to put everything on the back burner for a while. Thanksgiving and Christmas came, we got the go ahead to move into our new house before closing, we've been trying desperately to sell our old house, and I've been distracted by the water, spending a lot of time out on my new (to me) boat.

Most of that stress is gone now. We closed on the house last month, but still haven't sold the old one. But, I'm back to writing. The first draft of Fallen Angel, the ninth book in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series, is now nearing completion. Later this month, iIt'll go through a week of beta reading, then a week of editing, before it goes to the final proofreader and formatter. I expect it to be published on May 9th.

Ruthless Charity is only about 30% complete, but while Fallen Angel is going through the editing process, I'll be working on Ruthless. I hope to have it published in early June.

When both are published, they'll be priced at $.99 for a little more than one day. The announcement will go out to my newsletter subscribers first. The following day, it will be announced on my Facebook Page and Twitter. To get the deal, you really want to subscribe to the newsletter. The release won't be announced publicly, here on my blog and through an Amazon email to my followers there, until the price goes up to $5.99.

I'm really getting a kick out of writing this book. It took a turn I hadn't expected in the very first chapters and I had to completely rewrite the plot. Jesse and a few of his cohorts are coming to Beaufort, my new hometown! Of course, with Parris Island and the Marine Corps Air Station right here, it's like coming home for Jesse, as well. Nearly all the places I've written about in my books, are places I've been to or have lived in. Except for the Keys, it's been many years ago when I was in some of these places. Now, I'm writing about waterways I'm on every weekend and am becoming very familiar with.

Next week, I'll be out and about aboard Pescador (I won my daughter over on the name), looking for just the right cover photo for this new book. Since it's primarily set here, the cover should reflect this. Oh, did I mention I've done a little work on Pescador? She now sports over $1600 in electronics, a brand new T-top, and she has her name on the side. If you live in the Beaufort area and see us out on the water, wave us down. I'd be glad to share some sea stories.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moving Sucks, But it Beats the Alternative

I've been a lot less present on the interweb for a while. We've been busy. In early October, we went to Beaufort and looked at houses. We found one we all liked and made an offer.

On Friday morning, December 18th, we got word from our Realtor that we could move in and began packing. Four days later, the movers arrived on Tuesday morning and we took down our Christmas tree. They were fast and efficient and we had everything pretty well packed, so the moving van was on the road before noon and we spent our first night in Beaufort in our new home, after a 250 mile drive. With three dogs. And six parakeets. The next morning, I went out and bought a new Christmas tree and celebrated Christmas in our new home two days later.

I had to go back about a week later, because the movers couldn't transport live plants and to pick up my motorcycle, which they didn't have room for. I rented a U-Haul trailer and got my bike and all the plants aboard, plus a bunch of other little things we didn't get packed, then did a thorough cleaning of the old house. It's for sale and the price is low, if anyone's interested. I'll even knock a little more off, if need be.

We now live on one of the sea islands on the coast of South Carolina. Lady's Island is east and south of Beaufort and across Port Royal Sound from Port Royal, with Parris Island just beyond. To the southeast is St. Helena Island, then Hunting Island, then the Atlantic Ocean. The boat ramp three miles from the house is only about seven miles from open water. 

So, I bought a boat. Nothing big or flashy, just a good solid used 1995 Grady-White center console. It's one year newer than my pickup, which will be pulling it. I've wanted a Grady ever since I was a kid and within about ten days, it'll be parked in my driveway. It's in really good shape for a twenty year old boat and the engine is a 140 HP 2002 Suzuki, with very low hours. My youngest daughter and I took it out for a sea trial this morning. It was 35* and the wind was out of the north at 20 mph, creating white caps in the creek where we launched. Out on the river, seas were 2-3 feet and choppy. The boat handled it smoothly and we didn't get wet. Well, except for the occasional snowflake. Yes, I chose the worst possible day for a sea trial. It hadn't snowed here since the Grady was new.

I made an offer before the sea trial was over. It's on consignment with Butler Marine in Beaufort and if the owner accepts my offer, the dealer is sending it to their larger shop in Charleston to have a T-top and some new electronics installed. It should be back by the first of February. By the time it gets back, temperatures will be in the upper 60s and we'll be out on the Sound enjoying our time aboard "Gravity Storm".

Up in northern Greenville County, where we moved from, they got a half inch of freezing rain the night before last and four inches of snow yesterday. Power is out at our old home and not expected to be restored until Sunday.

So, what's all this got to do with writing? Well, I'm paying cash for the boat, just like I did my pickup, and the new home is a huge step up from where we lived. None of this would have been possible if it weren't for Jesse McDermitt.

The old man has returned to the sea. I think I'm gonna like it here.

Semper Fi,

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fallen Tide Released!

I began writing Fallen Tide and Merciless Charity at the same time, back in early July. In September, I put Tide aside and concentrated on getting Merciless finished. Once it was published, I picked right up on Tide and finished it in two weeks. It's been undergoing editing since then and was just released as the 8th novel in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series yesterday and it now has over 1000 sales and 17 reviews, 15 of which are five-star.

There's a lot of offshore action in this one, taking Jesse and his crew down to the Cay Sal Bank, between the Gulf Stream and Cuba. Jesse takes on a bit different role in this book, more solidifying himself as one of Deuce's team members.

Anyway, I hope you like it. Click the cover to go to Amazon.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Merciless Charity Released! First book in a brand new spin-off series.

Edited: Merciless Charity is now available at the regular price of $2.99. Click the cover to check it out.

In the wee hours of the morning on 10/10, the first book in my new Charity Styles Caribbean Thriller Series went live on Amazon. At 9am I released the news to my newsletter subscribers. Sales so far today, point to this release perhaps eclipsing the release of the 7th book in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series, this past July.

This is 100% due to the energized newsletter mailing list I've cultivated. As of this writing (2:30pm EDT), just six hours after the newsletter went out to only 1550 recipients, Merciless Charity has sold over 400 copies. By comparison, Fallen Honor sold 640 in the first two days of release. Honor went live at 9pm and sold 240 copies before midnight and 400 the next day. The result of that release was a debut ranking of #283 in the Amazon store.

I'm hoping Merciless will have a debut ranking higher than that, near #200.

What constitutes an energized mailing list? The golden rule of mass mailing is to avoid the pretense of spam. People hate receiving unwanted emails. To sign up for my newsletter, the reader is informed twice that they will receive two emails every month, with an update on what I'm writing, contests, and recommendations for books by other authors.

Yes, I get unsubscribers. I average less than one unsubscriber per bi-monthly email. I also receive hundreds of responses to every email I send and have cultivated a relationship with these core readers. I know many of them on a friendly basis and we talk about other things of interest. I spend about an hour a day just responding to emails from readers. Those few unsubscribers usually have a very low, or zero, click rate, so it's no big loss.

The relationship I've developed with my core readers is worth it. In just six hours, my open rate is nearing 50%, already double the industry average, in just six hours. My click rate is nearly 30%, EIGHT TIMES the industry average. IN JUST SIX HOURS! These are people who like my work and will buy the next release as soon as they see my email in their inbox.

If you only email your subscribers when you release a new book, two or three times a year, a lot of them have already forgotten who you are and will delete the email as spam.

ETA: Yes, mangroves have a canopy that a boat can go under. And yes, old growth mangroves have large trunks and make for a sturdy emergency anchorage.