Sunday, September 15, 2019

Should Book Royalties be Paid in Bitcoin?


Or said better, should authors have the option of being paid in Bitcoin, and/or the cryptocurrency of their choice?

That rather provocative question aside, I want to let you in on something interesting that happened to me yesterday while signing books at the Albany Book Festival. It was one of those mega book signing affairs where authors stand shoulder to shoulder in desperate attempt to sell even one of their traditionally or self-published titles. I actually gave away more books than I sold because my philosophy is thus: Grab a reader now with a free cookie so that later on she decides to become a regular customer who buys all my baked goods hot out of the oven (you see what I did there with the bakery metaphor, ha-ha).

As everyone knows, I'm not a big fan of traditional book signings or conferences in the 21st century. I believe that in the digital age, one's time is better off writing and publicizing on a macro global level, not on a scale so micro that you're practically begging the nerd standing in front of your table picking his nose to please, please, please by your new book. I guess the good thing about conferences, festivals, and signings is meeting like-minded authors and readers, but even that's over rated since most authors are a tad jealous of other authors apparent successes. Sorry, but it's the truth. 

But one thing these events do offer authors like me is the opportunity to ponder the state of writing and the writing life. Simply put, I don't know how most writers make it financially. So many of them have this look of desperation on their faces that you can almost feel the emptiness in their souls and their bank accounts. The sad fact is that even if you nail a $100K book advance, you're probably going to end up broke.

You pay the agent his 15%, you're down to $85K before you even get your first check. You pay Uncle Sam, you're down to around $65K (if we end up with one of the left wing candidates for President, that number will be more like $55-60K). You'll have to live on this for upwards of two years, which will almost certainly leave you in the red, even if you live cheaply in a cheap part of the world. If you work a day job, none of this applies of course. But I'm coming at you from the POV of a fiction writing maximalist, which I happen to be.

So how can we improve our financial lot in life as authors?

One way is to be offered the opportunity to convert our fiat-based advances and royalties to a digital currency of choice, mine being Bitcoin. Fiat currency loses a significant percentage of its value on an annual basis, while Bitcoin, despite is enormous volatility, has no choice but to increase in value over both the short and long term. We can always print more money, but Bitcoin, as a store of value, is entirely limited. In fact, there's only so much to go around. Never has the law of supply and demand been so glaringly applicable.

I performed a little experiment yesterday at the signing. I wanted to see how much money I could make while performing maybe a three or four simple Bitcoin trades over my smartphone via Robinhood. By the end of the morning, I'd made around $150. Add to this some book sales and in the few hours I stood there looking like an idiot, I made around $225. Not a bad take home for a few hours work.

But the point here, is not that you should become a day trader while writing your novels. The point is that while the precious few dollars you do manage to earn as an author will always lose their already paltry value, Bitcoin can only rise in value. Sure, you can put some of your fiat currency into a Vanguard account. But you need to be earning at least $5-6K per month for that to be worth it (in other words, deposits less than a $1K per month don't really grow all that much). But even just a small Bitcoin account in which you dollar cost average invest even $50 per week can, in the long run, earn you potentially hundreds of thousands, if not millions (yup, I just wrote the M word).

Don't believe me? Shaking your head? Asking yourself What's Vin smoking?  Just look to one of the many pro athletes who are now attempting to sign Bitcoin based contracts. Check out Bitcoin guru Anthony "Pomp" Pompliano's recent Tweet:

     
NFL Quarterback @MattBarkley tried to get the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals to each pay his contracts in Bitcoin.

Neither would do it.

Matt is just one of many Bitcoiners that are playing in the NFL on Sundays 🔥🔥

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Who wants a universal basic income?




Or what's better known as money for nothing. Many Dem Socialists are proposing this sort of thing one way or another. Andrew Yang comes to mind since he wants give every household a thousand clams per month even if all you do is sit around in your graying BVDs playing video games (I actually like Yang because he sees the enormous potential of Bitcoin and the Block Chain...but I digress).

I'm not sure if a universal income will ever be possible or if it's even the right thing to do for America. Methinks it's just another way to pander for votes which in my mind anyway, means it's a way of making people subservient to the government. In other words, you become a slave without actually knowing it. This Libertarian author will have none of it, thank you very much.

So my guess is we never see a universal income (not without going broke anyway). But what if a mega-corporation like Amazon for instance, actually offered up a living wage to people who signed on for a program in which they agree, in writing, to only purchase Amazon products? It could happen I guess. It's precisely what happens in my new thriller Primary Termination in which people can receive a comfortable living wage so long as they purchase only Everest Corporation goods and services. The program is called the Everest Primary Program, and its advertising slogan is thus: Imagine, for the first time in your life, living entirely worry free.

The only catch is that if you're caught violating the terms and services of the Primary Program...if you purchase products not sold by Everest...your program will be terminated, and you might find yourself a slave locked up in a prison which doubles as an Everest fulfillment center. And don't think Everest won't know what you're buying, because it's AI Alexa-like machine, called Jacquie, knows all.

She is monitoring you 24/7.

Grab Primary Termination while it's hot off the press:

 

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Who can you trust anymore?



Or should I say, what can you trust these days?

If you own a smart home...if you converse with artificial intelligence in the form of Alexa or a Ring Doorbell, or a smart TV, or a smart whatever...chances are you are not being offered a service out of convenience (it's the natural inclination of human beings to take the easy, lazy way out when offered the chance, no matter the consequences), so much as you are being observed and studied.

Your personal data is being compiled, bit by bit, pixel by pixel (my coding and computer terminology might be off here, but bear with me). You are not flesh and bone to these devices. You are code. They know what you eat, drink, read, listen to, indulge in sexually, pray to or not pray to, and so much more.

One day, they will know more about you than you know about yourself. They will anticipate your every move. If for some reason, they come not to like you, or suspect the worst about you, they can work against you and at best, shut you out...imagine arriving home from work, the Ring Doorbell recognizes you, and decides to lock you out of your own castle. At worst, they will make you a slave.

You just might disappear one day, no questions asked.

Can it happen?

Maybe it already has.

I explore this very thesis in my brand new thriller, Primary Termination
Grab it at a limited time special introductory low price now. 

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Chasing your tail...



...Or what's better known in the writing world as chasing trends (maybe I should have titled this, Chasing your tale, get it?). Every now and then, a blockbuster book is published, the likes of Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games, or The Da Vinci Code. The latter is the only thriller written by a US author that I've seen sold in both the Vatican bookstore and The Uffizi in Florence. That's how popular it is. I'd be surprised if it hasn't yet been translated into Apache.

The point here, dear reader, is that when a book and/or a series goes absolutely ballistic, we as authors with more (clears the frog from his throat) humble sales, relatively speaking, sometimes get the urge to follow the trend and jump on board. The urge to write my version of the Da Vinci Code came to me in the form of an itch in the middle of my upper back that I couldn't possibly scratch. It didn't go away until I wrote the first novel in the unbelievably wildly popular and successful Chase Baker Thriller series, The Shroud Key (Ha-ha).

So here's the point: Under normal circumstances, I would not suggest writing to market. I would not suggest one chase a trend just because it's presently super popular. I would instead suggest one stick to one's brand because in the long run, the brand is what will make an author an artistic and financial success. There's a reason McDonalds hamburgers taste just like the McDonalds hamburgers I used to buy as a kid (for less than a dollar).   


But I did sort of chase the Da Vinci/Dan Brown trend with Chase. However, I did so many years after Da Vinci was published and I also did so by incorporating all the typical Zandri pile driving plotting, romance, mystery, and action. I also...and this is key here...love the genre to death (if you don't love what you're writing it's gonna suck). In the end, the series has gone on to serve me well with tens of thousands of units sold. Chase Baker isn't being sold at the Pope's house yet, but hey, you never know. Maybe I should email him or ring him up next time I'm in country ("Hey, Pope, there's a guy named Zandri on the phone for you").

I don't always stick to the same genre. But all my books have one common denominator. They are thrillers through and through. Some series and stand-alones are darker than others, but all of them contain the Zandri thrills you've come to know and insist upon. And hopefully, I'm still learning and still getting better at my craft.

Speaking of switching up genres, I'm dipping my arthritic big toe into the Cyberpunk and Dystopian Thriller genres with Primary Termination, which is presently available for pre-order (launch day is August 16, but it's presently available in paperback) at a special, limited time price (the point is to sell a lot right out of the gate and impress the Amazon algos). My editor and beta readers tell me it's one of my best novels to date, and I believe them because I wrote it (ha-ha again). But I'll let you and Pope be the judge.

   Grab Primary Termination today, before it's too late...

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM




"Buy Primary Termination or the author gets it!!!"

Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Alexa, make me your slave..."






...Or said another way, "Alexa, write this post."
 After all, the Amazon AI knows everything about me. You not only know my favorite music, television shows, and books. You know what I like to wear, what I like to eat and drink. You know my social security number, my income, my age, weight, and sexual preference. Heck, you probably know my favorite sexual positions.

You know my bathroom habits, and my sleeping routine. You know about my medical conditions, and you know about my vices. You know when I'm feeling down, or way too up. You know what I want to write and don't write. You are all knowing and you have been programmed to know me inside and out, so you can accurately predict my wants and needs.

Sounds nifty, right?

But what happens when Alexa and the company she reps, Amazon.com, becomes so big, so all consuming, so all knowing, that the consumer becomes the slave?

This is the basis for my new novel, Primary Termination. It takes place in 2028 and it's about the last NYC editor who is fired from the last remaining publishing house now that the world's largest online retail corporation, Everest.com (see what I did there?) has taken over the publishing market with their Everest Cradle Direct Publishing service and their Cradle E-reader (see what I did there too?).

Here's the product description for Primary Termination.




 
YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE CORPORATION!

In the year 2028, a massive online corporation called Everest.Com will control everything we buy, including books, food, medical care, police protection, religion, political affiliations...Everything!

When Senior Acquisitions editor, Tanya Teal, 42, is fired from the last remaining NYC publishing house due to overwhelming competition from Everest.com's Cradle Direct Publishing service, she finds herself having to move back in with her parents in Upstate New York. Since she will be hard pressed to ever find another editing job again, they persuade her to join the Everest Primary Program, which will provide her with a guaranteed living wage, so long as she purchases Everest products exclusively. But after rekindling her love affair with an old boyfriend, Tony Smart, 42, who is a Cradle Direct Publishing bestseller, they drink a few too many and decide to visit one of their old haunts, Gus's Hotdog Shack. They know it's illegal, since they are both Primary Members, but what can one hotdog hurt?

That one simple decision leads to their Primary Termination and a horrific hunt on behalf of the Everest Police that begins inside Tanya's own Everest AI-monitored home and that leads up into the mountains and the home of the Everest Resistance. It also leads to a stunning revelation over the precise fate of terminated members—the prisons they are incarcerated in and the massive fulfillment centers where they are used as slave labor.

Part cyberpunk thriller, part dystopian apocalyptic page-turner, part romantic suspense, part paranoid military adventure, and even part alternate reality, Primary Termination is a three novel series that’s a direct if not frightening reflection on the realities of present day and near future global commerce, not to mention all knowing AI development and personal date storage. Think the Matrix meets The Hunger Games or Logan’s Run meets The Man in the High Castle.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling Thriller Award winning author, Vincent Zandri, comes a new thriller that is a direct reflection of the digital, big brother/big sister times we are living in.


US Link

UK Link

CA Link

AU Link




Primary Termination is currently available for preorder at a special limited time price, so what have you got to lose? If you love books like 1984 you might be particularly interested in this thriller. It's the kind of book that will be analyzed by the high brows and enjoyed by the lowbrows. It will also make you think twice before asking Alexa to do something for you.

Grab Primary Termination today.

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM


Friday, July 12, 2019

When the Magic Rubs Off





So I've been invited to two cocktail parties tonight in New York City. They are put on by two of my publishers (on behalf of Thrillerfest), one of whom really wanted me down there. Instead, I'm choosing to spend the weekend, writing, fishing, eating, drinking, reading, living the life.

I shake my head and smile because there was a time not so long ago, I would have loved heading to the cocktail parties (and crashing a few also Haha), rubbing shoulders with some pretty big authors, schmoozing with editors, agents and booksellers, shaking hands and just generally kissing ass.

But things have changed.

Maybe it's the politics of it all, or perhaps it's the been-there-done-that-ness of it all. Perhaps it's my hybrid author business model. Hell, maybe at my age I just can't be bothered with it anymore. Plus I'm just a little obsessed with fly fishing almost as much as I'm obsessed with the daily word count, and it's supposed to be a beautiful weekend.

Listen, I'm all about supporting my fellow authors and paying a friendly visit to my publishers, but on occasion, it just feels better being away from New York City for a while...how did I put it during my acceptance speech for the ITW Thriller Award in 2015?...The ground zero for literary success and tragedy.

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Golden Age of Writing Is Still Here...





Ten years ago you could indie publish a novel, set the price at 0.99 and watch it rise to the top of the Amazon charts. This, almost brainless marketing tactic, is what resulted in my selling hundreds of thousands of eBooks, which led to some pretty lucrative publishing deals. It also meant that I went from making zero money with my fiction, to making a nice living. And that's after having scored a major six-figure, two book deal (the majority of those funds went to finance my first divorce, but I'll save that for another blog).

Fast forward ten years and simply setting your indie books at 0.99 is no longer a valid marketing strategy. In fact, so many books proliferate the marketplace now, that an author needs to be a little more creative when it comes to rising above all that white noise. After a couple of down years, this month (July) will be one of my best on record. Not only have I signed a "nice" deal with Oceanview Publishing for the September 2020 publication of arguably my best standalone to date, The Girl Who Wasn't There (the ink isn't dry on the contract and my first advance check arrived yesterday), I've made some significant changes in how I go about marketing my indie list.

For the longest time, I avoided educating myself on Amazon Ads. I would simply throw together some keywords, create an ad, and then wait to see if it stuck. Bad way to go about advertising, it turns out, but a good way to stuff Mr. Bezos's already stuffed pockets. Finally, I decided to invest in Mark Dawson' Ads for Authors course (no I am not an affiliate, just a fan), and it most definitely proved one hell of an investment. It's not that I didn't know what I was doing when it came to Amazon ads, it's more like I was blind to their possibilities and rather careless in my tactics, kind of like a parent who tells his kids to fend for themselves for supper. For instance, I might look at the ACOS (ad cost) and if the percentage of ad spend was more than I was receiving in sales profit, which was almost always the case, I would immediately stop the ad. But Mark's course spells out, in detail, how even a negative ad spend can still prove profitable. Just this little tidbit of info alone has become rather valuable to my overall strategy. It was a wake up call.

The course has also taught me another valuable lesson in terms of scaling my ads. Don't just create them and forget them. Tweak them, find out which keywords are working and which aren't. Most of all, if your ad is proving profitable, copy it and scale it. I've also created a separate portfolio for each book which makes a huge difference when it comes to both organizing my ads and determining what's working and what's not.

But Amazon Ads are only a part of the story. I use a marketing manager to take care of my promos. I have a Book Bub for The Shroud Key this month thanks to his efforts, and he is presently seeking ways to boost audio sales. Add to that a subscriber list that should hit my first 10K by the end of the year (some authors have hundreds of thousands of subscribers!!!!), and things are most definitely looking up. My overall philosophy is a simple one. If many hybrid and indie authors are making mid-six and even seven figure incomes, why can't I? I'm currently writing on average a novel per month. I have the material, the reviews, and the street cred (The Thriller Award, the bestseller lists, the sales, etc.). Now it's a matter of scaling my business way up.

Being a hybrid author is most definitely not as easy as it was back in 2010 or 2011. You have to chop through the thick bush in order to reach the valley of good and plenty. A little education definitely goes a long way, and I can see myself reaching my financial goals so long as I continue to adjust to the times and continue to view my writing as not only an art, but a long term freelance career (Free being the key word here. I haven't worked a real job in 20 years and don't intend to ever go back).

The golden age of writing is still here. In fact, it never left. You just have to make more of an effort to seek it out.

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM