Wayne Stinnett, Author

Wayne Stinnett, Author

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Story Telling

A long time ago, don't ask me how long, I'm not an anthropologist, some hairy ancestor of ours grunted. His buddy or mate heard him and was curious. Soon they were both grunting. In time, certain grunts had certain meanings, known only to others in that clan. A spoken language was developed and mankind evolved.

Shortly after, again don't ask me how long, could have been two weeks or ten thousand years, but in terms of evolution, it was shortly after, some caveman heard a wolf howling in the moonlight and he tried to imitate it. Another heard him and being curious critters, he tried it too. Soon, they developed a range of howls and learned the next clan's spoken language, applying words to their howling. Singing was developed and mankind evolved.

You know the drill, the following weekend? Okay, maybe a few months go by, then some simian ancestor, gnawing on a fire-cooked deer leg, dropped the bone on a skin that was stretched out to dry. The bone bounced off the deer skin and made a deep, resonant sound. Curious, the hairy, grunting beast picked up his bone, brushed the dirt off, and chewed the last bit of flesh off the animals knee-bone. Then he tapped the bone against the stretched skin. He smiled, and began making thunder noises in the primordial jungle. His mate came out of the cave, curious about the coming storm and saw her mate beating his bone on the skin. She picked up a dried, discarded gourd and started tapping it with a stick, making a high, hollow sound. A percussion section was developed and mankind evolved.

Fast forward a bunch of years. I don't know, you guess. The talking and singing clans meet the percussion clan and beat on skins, gourds, logs, and rocks, singing to the moon. Across the valley, another clan hears the sound. This group is still grunting and dragging their mates around by the hair. One accidentally plucks at a tasty morsel, crawling in his mate's hair, and the plucked hair rang. Later, he used a bow and stretched many hairs on it. He listened to the other clans across the valley at night, softly plucking at his bow strings, trying to mimic the strange words he heard. A string section was developed and mankind evolved.

Then once a year, at the annual harvest, or whatever these grunting, beating, plucking, and singing clans did, they got together for a big concert in the forest. The singing people developed their voices and sang in harmony. The percussion section dried different skins and stretched them over hollowed out logs. The string section tried all kinds of dried animal parts and stretched them across planks they fashioned with rudimentary tools and hollowed them out to get a distinct sound. They played Otis Redding, and Jimi Hendrix. They played Bill Monroe and Bob Marley. A band was developed and mankind evolved. Okay, so maybe they didn't know about Otis's work yet.

The talking clan, whose only development to the betterment of mankind was teaching the howlers to use their words, felt left out. They could communicate ideas and teach the howlers, beaters, and pluckers the words, but they still felt left out at the yearly shin-dig. So, they started making up stories. They told stories about the trees, and the earth, and the sky, and the stars in the sky. They told stories of great feats that the gods in the sky accomplished. Soon, the howlers, beaters, and pluckers wanted to hear the stores more and more. Every year at the big gathering, the storytellers started off the concert, with a story of sorrow, happiness, beaches, and rum. The many bands within the several clans loved the stories and used them in song. The storyteller developed and mankind evolved.

Soon, there was a divergence, a parting of the ways. Some went on to tell wonderful stories of great length. People learned the stories and acted them out on stages and in arenas. But, when other storytellers tried to retell the story they'd heard, they got parts wrong. This wouldn't do, so the storytellers developed marks on tree bark, using charred wood from a dead fire. The marks became more intricate and soon a written language was developed and mankind evolved.

The howlers, beaters, and pluckers also needed a way to record their sounds for posterity. They watched the storytellers from the shadows and learned their way of making marks on bark to mean this and that. They went back to their fires and did the same with sound, matching certain marks with certain sounds, so everyone's sound would work with everyone else's sound. They went on to write great masterpieces of music. Written music developed and mankind evolved.

If y'all are still reading this, you're probably wondering why, after more than a year without a blog post, is this raving novelist writing about cave people grunting in the jungle. Well, in my humble opinion, the two clans haven't evolved so far apart that the bridge can't be gapped. The long-winded story teller can find a counter-part in the micro-stories of the song-writer. And the song-writer might find an audience through literature.

Song-writers have been putting the written story to music for a long, long time. No, I don't know how long; I told you I'm not an anthropologist. I'm a storyteller. I'm not a writer, though. I have no training in the art. But, I like to tell stories. And I like listening to music. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I like good music.

Over the years, my musical taste has gone from the classic honky-tonk country music of the fifties and sixties, to rock & roll, to jazz and blues, to reggae. Then a long time ago; this one I know, it was 1973, I discovered Jimmy Buffett, a storyteller who can tell a whole story in three and a half minutes. He's been followed by dozens of talented trop-rock musicians and song-writers, telling their stories through their music, singing of the sea, the beach, the islands, the boats, and the girls.

My friend, Eric Stone is among them. Eric is an amazing musician and songwriter, but more important his reptile brain is that of the grunter, the communicator, the storyteller. Eric has a bunch of original music on a bunch of CDs. Don't ask me how many, I'm not a music producer, but a whole bunch. And I have them all. Great stories, wonderful humor, and a light island beat.

Anyway, what all this rambling is getting to is that Eric is going to appear in my upcoming novel, Rising Fury, the 12th story in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series, due to be released right around Christmas. He'll be playing himself, playing his music at the Rusty Anchor Bar & Grill. If you've read my stories you know where that is. "Anywhere you want it to be." Eric has a strong connection to the Rusty Anchor and Marathon. He used to own Dockside, on Boot Key Harbor. Yeah, that place is real. I hope one day to make the Rusty Anchor a reality.

Not only that, Eric is going into the studio on December 18th to record what I hope will be his next big hit, The Rusty Anchor Bar & Grill. Yeah, a trop-rock song, about a fictitious trop-rock bar, straight out of my trop-fiction.

That's right folks, after billions of years of de-evolution, Eric and I are bringing the grunters, howlers, beaters, and pluckers back together again. Watch for it on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WayneStinnettAuthor.

And mankind evolved.

To get a taste of Eric's music, visit his website, www.islanderic.com

You'll also hear his music on Pyrate Radio, streaming at www.pyrateradio.com

Also, watch my Facebook page for an upcoming contest to win a new Kindle!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fallen Hero has been released!

This release went a lot smoother than usual. I guess after thirteen launches, I must be getting something right. Actually, I remembered those previous launches and how stressful they were, so I set a schedule of things to do, allowing plenty of time for overages. Still, I keep waiting for a boot to drop. The manuscript breezed through beta reading, editing, proofreading, and formatting way ahead of schedule. Eleven full days ahead, in fact. The link to Fallen Hero is down on the right.

In terms of the number of books sold, the release was second only to Fallen Angel, last spring. This was due to it being released at half price, instead of the usual $.99. The difference in launch day sales was only about 10%. It also didn't debut as high as Angel, showing up in the Amazon ranks at #119 on launch day and slipping down into the 400s now, nearly three days later.

I expect it to hold steady in the 400-600 ranks for a couple more days. Then the BookBub New Release Alert will go out to nearly 2200 followers there. A few days after that, the Amazon alerts will start going out. I anticipate a climb up to about the #200 rank then, and hold there for quite a while.

I think that simply making that schedule and sticking to it, had a lot to do with the lower stress level this time. When I posted the schedule on Facebook, I still had 30,000 words to write and I set a daily writing goal to meet it. I went over that goal every day and it was a good thing, because the book ended up being almost 20,000 words longer than planned.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fallen Out is only $.99! Book 1 of 10 in the series.

In anticipation of the release of the tenth novel in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series next month, the first book, Fallen Out, is discounted to only $.99 until November 23rd. the regular priceis  $2.99. If that's not enough, if you own the Kindle version, you can buy the $19.95 audiobook for only $1.99 on Amazon.

Fallen Hero is scheduled for release on December 15th and it's sure to debut in the Amazon Bestseller ranks at better than #100. I've had dozens of reader reviews saying they were so sucked into the stories, they've read all nine novels in the series in a week. So, you have plenty of time before Fallen Hero is published. But, why wait?

Friday, September 9, 2016

The End is Near

Just a few minutes ago, I finished the rewrite of the fourth draft of Ruthless Charity after editing and just sent it to my final proofreader. While it's being proofread, I'll set things up on Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space, in preparation for publication in ebook and paperback formats.

My final proofreader will only be a day or two on it. After a dozen beta readers and a full round of editing, it's a super clean manuscript. Once she's finished, the final draft will go to my formatter. While it's being formatted, I'll send the manuscript to my narrator for audiobook recording, write the blurb and set up the email announcement.

The ebook should be published on the 13th or 14th and I'll claim the rights on ACX, to set things up for audio production. The paperback will follow a day later. The audiobook will be recorded and uploaded to ACX within a couple of days. ACX takes about five days to release.

I started writing this 65,000 word novel in mid-March, while finishing my last novel, Fallen Angel. Angel published in late April and I turned my full attention to Ruthless Charity. For about a week. While writing at least 1000 words a day in Ruthless Charity, every weekday, I slowly started developing the idea and the first couple of chapters of Fallen Hero. I just can't seem to write one book at a time anymore.

So far, Ruthless Charity hasn't been all that expensive. Rights to the cover photo was $25 and it didn't need any tweaking at all. Cover graphics brought the total cover cost up to $100. This is about normal for my covers. Beta reading will be the cost of buying and shipping a dozen paperbacks, about $100. Editing and proofreading will wind up at around $1200 and formatting will add perhaps another $400. Audiobook narration will be about $1600.

All told, about six months of my time in writing, though many of those days were little or no actual writing, and $3400 in production costs will have gone into Ruthless Charity, to get it to market. While that might seem like a huge sum to writers just starting their careers, this is my eleventh full length novel and I have built up a pretty large fan base of eager readers, and their numbers are growing every day. I predict that Ruthless Charity will be in the black, so far as production costs, before the audiobook is released, a week after the ebook is published. The book should earn about three times the production cost in the first four weeks.

All these steps are crucial. And as I outline in Blue Collar to No Collar, I don't expect, nor do I recommend, that a new author go to such expense to get their first, or even second and third, book to market. All these things I once did myself. This isn't a sprint. It's a long series of marathons.

Take your time. Create attainable goals and make a plan to achieve those goals. Put small milestones in your plan. Mastering each step will motivate you to work harder.

Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. You need only to find your voice, locate your audience, make them happy, and work your ass off.

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.