Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Wrongest Blog Ever

"When the first fistfight breaks out at ITW I'm standing next to this dude!"

Here's what Indie Bestseller Aaron Patterson had to say about a particularly asinine blog that came from a dude, who usually pens some very intelligent takes on the state of the publishing industry: The Worst Book Ever! read this and then come back....

I'm still here...

Now having read that blog you know that, in short, the blog was about how John Locke, the newest member of the one million Kindle E-Books club could have made a ton more money if he'd published with the Big 7 Legacy publishers.

Ok, so here's my response to all this (which you can find in different form in the comments section of Patterson's blog...I know, but hey, I needed a blog topic so bear with me.)

"Ummmm...There's a reason I didn't sell a lot of copies of THE INNOCENT or GODCHILD (soon to be known as THE GUILTY) ten years ago when Dell published them.

First of all, they were very expensive.
Second, no one from marketing/advertising did a thing for it, other then sending out to reviewers (they both got great reviews and sold some awesome foreign rights).
Third, the bookstores only wanted them on their display shelf for six weeks.
Fourth, my last name is Zandri, so if you happen to be no taller than a mouse, you might notice my books on the bookshelf in the far lower right hand corner.

Listen, I'm not complaining. I made some great friends publishing in NYC and had some awesome times. I even dated my publicist for a short time (ok, like two dates, but who's counting). It was a sweet life. But it was sweet until they pulled the plug because I wasn't selling as many books as Patterson my first time out (the other Patterson, you know his name...).

My point?

If John Locke had tried the traditional route of agent and publisher, he'd still be selling insurance. The dude who wrote that blog yesterday and that himself Barry Eisler tweeted as a great piece of work, or some such nonsense, couldn't have been more off base if he wrote a book about how JFK wouldn't have been shot if he simply hadn't gone to Dallas that day.

No Shit Sherlock!!!

Anyway, Locke did what he did cause his books are good, he writes a lot of them, he priced them to sell, and he marketed them well. When you do things the right way, you invite luck. I suppose you will inevitably invite the Monday morning quarterbacks too...."

My take on a subject that is sure to get hotter in the coming months...

PS. I confess I haven't read a word of Mr. Locke's so I will refrain from commenting on the actual quality of his writing in terms of mastery of craft.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

High Royalty Rate Vs. Big Advance

"Get that little son of a bitch Zandri on the phone right now!!! You hear me people?!!!!"

My friends and colleagues, the cats over at StoneGate Ink, put up a post on the their FB page asking this simple question: As an author, do you prefer a high royalty rate or would you prefer a big advance?

If this were ten or even three years ago, I would have said, "Advance" without evening thinking about it. In fact, my reaction would have been more automatic then breathing. But all that has changed in the past year since having signed on with the Inkers for a 50% royalty per E-Book sold rate.

I come from that generation that for ages believed you went to writing school, then got an agent, then nailed a major contract with a legacy publisher. All of which has happened to me. In fact when I signed a contract with Herr Bertlesman worth close to a quarter million bucks back in 1999, I thought my life was set. The publisher would take the time to develop me, I would eventually sell out, and be offered a new contract every other year or so, all of which would boast more and more zeros.

But what I didn't know at the time, was that a first novel usually sells only moderately well. There are exceptions of course, but I ain't talkin' about Harry Potter here or Kitchen Confidential. I'm talking about the other 99.9% of us lucky enough to have landed a major contract or two. So when THE INNOCENT (As Catch Can), sold only so-so, and then GODCHILD its follow-up the did the same, the big boys in the Bertlesman Tower decided to pull the plug on Vincent Zandri, thriller writer. Lucky for me I was able to keep my advance without having earned it back. However, all marketing of the books ceased, what were left on the shelves were remaindered, and the bastards even hung onto my rights for eight more years, pretty much putting me out of business. In the words of my then editor: "They are preventing you from selling books!"

I had to head back to full-time freelance journalism.

Then came my new agent Janet Benrey (now retired) who beat my novel rights out of Random House. She wanted to strike up a deal with a new upstart publisher who was making its mark on the publishing world by re-publishing back-listed novels by some heavy hitters in the industry, and publishing some new novels as well. There wouldn't be an advance but the royalty rate would be staggeringly high and what was even better, the novels would come out within a couple of months instead of the usually one to two year wait.

Still, despite 5-plus tortuous years without a new contract, when Janet urged me to sign with this publisher, I honestly thought she might have been smoking a little too much of the Chinaman's pipe. But what the hell, I signed anyway.

Fast forward to a year later, and I've sold close to a couple hundred thousand E-Books, and well over 100,000 Kindle copies of THE INNOCENT alone. GODCHILD is a close second. THE REMAINS a close third. The past three months were so staggeringly good I got calls from The Wall Street Journal and USA Today ran a small piece about "Innocent's" success.

What's this mean for me?

It means the six figures I'm earning this year is real money. It means I am operating in the black. It means I am now involved in responsible publishing. It also means that there's a good chance that if Mr. B had believed in me and what I could potentially sell, instead of showing me the door after only two books, I would not only have earned the advance back, I would have made him a nice profit.

But instead the money I've earned is all mine. Sorry Random House, you had your chance. Serves you right for holding my rights hostage for 8 years!

Hmmmm, wonder if I should go for the 4 bedroom villa in Tuscany or the three bedroom with the in-ground pool? Decisions, decisions, decisions....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sales, Slips, and Slowdowns...Oh My

"On the Express from the Austrian Alps to Venice. The last thing on my mind was book sales." (Photo: Gina Occhiogrosso)

There are reasons I don't get into publishing and this is the main reason why: Success is a guessing game more synonymous with luck than solid business practices or science.

My books took a bit of dip this month compared with rocket-propelled sales of the past three months in which I sold over 100,000 Kindle E-Books of one single title alone: THE INNOCENT. That book was purposely priced at $.99 for a period and we (meaning myself and my pub StoneGate Ink), believe that the special price propelled the sale initially. And then, once it reached a certain rank (say below 50, sales snowballed) It also served to expand my audience by enormous numbers.

However, when you price a book that cheaply you also pretty much give away the store. Even so, I made a personal profit of over $15,000 for that one book. Not bad change. But in May, when we changed the price to a more realistic and reasonable $3.99 and later, $2.99 (remember folks, I am traditionally published and receive only a 50% commission for which an agent takes 15%), we then earned a very reasonable profit from a book that was once acquired by Delacorte Press and blurbed by the likes of Harlan Coben and Don Winslow. We sold something like 13,000 copies during May which we were happy about. The irony? If Random House had held onto the E-Rights for both THE INNOCENT and GODCHILD (which also hit the Top 30), I would have finally earned out my mid-six figure advance with them. Bad timing on their part, great timing on mine.

The final sales strategy analysis? According to indie publisher and bestselling author Aaron Patterson (who is also my publisher) "The end result was about a 5k increase to the bottom line, but a hugs loss on the people reached. The question is: Is it better to reach a huge amount of people for a time and give up sales, or try to make as much as you can no matter how many sell? I believe in both. Put books on sale, test the market as each author will have different stats. Some will sell well at a buck and others it wont matter. I have one author that sells just as good at 2.99 as she does at 8.99. So we keep it at 8.99. "

Then came June, the Amazon Summer Sizzler thing, the tag debacle and who knows what else, and sales dropped off significantly no matter what the price. Apparently, a lot of indie authors and no doubt, legacy published authors as well, began scratching their heads as early as June 2nd at the virtual tanking of their ranks. Since this was an across the board phenomenon much has been written and speculated about what happened. Indie expert and bestselling author Joe Konrath addressed this issue yesterday in his blog by pointing out the following:

"Summer is slow. But once the holiday season comes around again, there will be another boost in sales across the board. This year should be bigger than last year, as ereader prices come down and move from early adopters into the mainstream. In other words, no one needs to panic. No business has constant, unstoppable growth. Sales fluctuate. This is normal."

This a is a rapidly changing and emerging business. Which is why I'm a full-time writer and not a publisher. E-Books are still in their infancy, and for any of you who have children, you know how everyday can be an adventure when you have a baby hanging around. One minute the cuddly little kid is cooing in your arms, snuggled up all warm and cozy in the nape of your neck, and next, he's projectile hurling chunks all over your new gaberdine suit.

So what to do?

Listen the experts when they tell you not to worry about minute-by-minute sales. Like Konrath says, this is "a marathon not a sprint." It's E-Books. Our books aren't about to be removed from the shelves anytime soon. Like Patterson says, keep experimenting with prices until you find that "sweet spot." You don't have to be in the Amazon Top Ten in order to make a good living (although it is rush for the ego, believe me..., but again quoting Joe, "what goes up must come down").

But also listen to your heart...Your writing heart that is. No doubt it will tell you to write more books, and to write them as well as you are humanly capable. There is no better way to guarantee excellent sales than by introducing a new book to your fans and future fans.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Write What You Know (A Father's Day Blog!)

"The New Thriller, inspired by Dad!"

What's the first thing you learn in Creative Writing 101?

"Write what you know!"

For young authors who haven't yet experienced a whole lot of life, that can be a rather daunting idea. but for those of us who have been around the block a few times, there's always a story or two we can write about, such as the night I spent alone in a Sing Sing prison cell, or the time I was stranded in the jungle in Benin, Africa, after our 4X4 bit got stuck in a swamp.

But then, sometimes you don't have to look too far in order to tap into a life experience. Sometimes you just have to take another look at the way you were raised. In my case, I was raised in a family of construction workers. And by the time I reached puberty, my dad's business had taken off to a level where he went to work in pressed trousers and button-down oxford instead of jeans and workboots. In fact, my dad's business began doing so well, he groomed me for taking over the business one day.

Truth be told, the grooming began very early on. I helped my dad lay out a new church he was contracted to build at age 5. I still recall holding the tape measure for him while he recorded the measurements in his notebook. At around age 12 I was in charge of recording telephone quotations should he be bidding a big job during my summer vacations. At 15 I worked on my first job-site and stepped on a sixpenny nail that impaled itself through my foot. At 20 I was assigned to the office where I read blueprints and helped expedite projects. By 23 I was managing construction jobs worth $6 million or more. That's when I quit to become a full-time writer.

My dad was heartbroken, but not disappointed. After all a dad only wants his kid to be happy, right? And he was happy for me that I'd found something to be as passionate about as he was his business. All he worried about was my being able to make a living, so when books like THE INNOCENT and THE REMAINS became bestsellers, he jumped for sheer joy higher than I did.

But all is not lost on my having essentially experienced an entire career in the commercial construction business. I put it to use in my new thriller, CONCRETE PEARL, starring brassy but bold construction business owner, Ava "Spike" Harrison. How did she get the nickname Spike?
Well she stepped on a sixpenny nail of course, first day out on a real construction job-site. When it comes to writing what you know, the apple should not fall far.

But I appreciate all that my dad did for me when I was growing up and trying to find my way, the least of which is giving me a real insiders look at a world of builders, designers and architects that remains fascinating to me, even if I no longer carry a hammer or work on blueprints. Oh, and as for Spike, she's not only a builder, she's an amateur woman sleuth who carries a framing hammer as an equalizer instead of a gun...you might want to kiss her, but you sure as hell don't want to mess with her.

Happy Father's day Dad! Oh, and thanks!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some Days You Just Gotta Write....

"Write as well as you can, with no eye on the market."--Ernest Hemingway

...And today is one of those days.
After a week of events, marketing ops, meetings with agents and pubs and even Amazon and Google, I have a novel to complete, or let's face it, I'll be out of a job.

Which brings up a HUUUUUGGGGEEEE point (that HUGE thing is me imitating car salesman and villain, Billy Fuscillo, in my digital short, MOONLIGHT MAFIA)...despite the blogs, despite the social networks, despite the virtual tours, despite your Amazon rank, despite the Iphone or Blackberry, despite everything that has everything to do with your books but that also keeps you away from your craft, you must eventually sit down and write.

Which is what I need to do today and tomorrow in order to complete MURDER BY MOONLIGHT...

I hope you decide to work as hard as you can at your writing too...And if you're not a writer, I just hope you plain work hard and enjoy it as much as I do.

P.S. THE INNOCENT is back on sale all month long...Grab the Top Ten Amazon Bestseller Today!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Flawed P.I.s, Gotta Love 'em: A Guest Post by Crime Author Benjamin Sobieck

I've been lucky with my invented PI characters.

First there's Jack "Keeper" Marconi, former prison warden turned private dick who specializes in chasing down escaped convicts, especially the ones who like to murder cops in cold blood, like in THE INNOCENT, or the bad guys who murdered his wife in GODCHILD.

Then there's MOONLIGHT FALLS and the forthcoming MOONLIGHT RISES from StoneGate Ink. Richard "Dick" Moonlight is a former cop and suicide survivor who has a little piece of bullet lodged inside his brain, right smack up against the cerebral cortex causing him at best the occasional blackout or memory loss (especially during times of stress...in other words, all the time), but at worst, the very serious possibility of coma and/or death should the bullet shift. He also always seems to be making the wrong decisions, more often than not, when it comes to women. In a word, he's an easy lay.

What's my point?
When it comes to the PI thriller market, you can't dish up the same old/same old anymore. You've got to give the reading audience a character who will stick out from the crowd and at the same time be believable in all his or her, unbelievableness...if that makes even an ounce of sense.

Up and coming crime fiction star and CLEANSING EDEN author, Benjamin Sobieck, follows the line of the fallible PI pretty closely in the form of Maynard Solomon in a short he did with famous blogger and blog talk radio host Giovanni Gelati for Gelati's ever growing Trestle Press. "Who Whacked the Blogger" is fun, violent, warped, and just plain funny. It's also crafted by two dudes who love their work and make it show. Check out the story anywhere where E-Books are sold.

Mr. Ben...It's time to give us the low-down on Maynard...

11 reasons to enjoy Maynard Soloman

Now before you roll your eyes and say, "Another serialized PI? Puh-leez," I want to tell you why Maynard Soloman is different. I, too, had read a million incarnations of Sam Spade. Maynard Soloman might've worn a fedora, but that's where the similarities end.

Here are 11 reasons Maynard Soloman is worth a look.

1) He was forced into retirement from his career as an investigator for the Obscenities Division of a local police force. He got stiffed on some medical bills, so he has to keep working. Which is why he...

2) Bought a Winnebago. Not only can he see the country (a staple of any retiree's dreams), he uses it as a...

3) Mobile office. He bought a police scanner and spray painted the words "Maynard Soloman Investigation Services" on the side. He's not too worried about the 'bago looking junky because...

4) The Winnebago takes a beating in every story. In "Who Whacked the Blogger?" he had to outrun a competitor when chasing an ambulance containing a potential client. In "Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs," some punks break windows and spray paint graffiti on the side panels. That had Maynard...

5) Cursing in his own special way. A typical Maynard line would be, "Some punk-ass fruit bats spray painted the 'bago with a gal-damn penis." He's got a potty mouth rooted in a mix of early 20th Century cuss words and his own inventions. "Fruit bat" is someone who is both fruity and bat-shit insane. He also invented...

6) The 'nard Bag. As he can't afford an extra large sleeping bag, he invented the 'nard Bag. Simply pick out a pair of the largest sweatpants you can find. Cut the legs and sew them together so there is only one leg. Says Maynard, "It's pure mollycoddling." He enjoys stretching out, especially when...

7) He has health problems. It's an overarching theme across the stories. It's not clear yet what they are, but Maynard knows he can't outrun time. Speaking of time...

8) Maynard is clueless about technology. It's always baffled him. In "Who Whacked the Blogger?" his client runs a blog. Maynard spends most of the time trying to figure out what that means. He's also behind on...

9) Crime trends. In "Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs," he is solicited by a teen to buy some cold medicine for him. Maynard becomes suspicious when he hears the medicine must contain pseudoephedrine. "Sounds like a fake drug to me. Are you trying to play a prank on me?" Maynard says. Of course, readers know pseudoephedrine is kept behind the counter because it's used to make meth. But the clueless Maynard Soloman thinks he...

10) Knows everything. He's absolutely convinced the world is much stupider than he. It's the big dumb world's fault he can't walk up to a drive-through and place an order. He can see the obvious answers when no one else can. That's why he can be so bold as to proclaim he's solved the War on Drugs in, "Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs." But he's not so bold as to...

11) Use weapons of any kind. He was denied a concealed carry permit, probably related to the messy forced retirement situation. But he says the real reason is, "I cross too many state lines in the 'bago. Don't want one of my old police buddies to throw me in the slammer."

I hope you'll check out Maynard Soloman. I had a ton of fun writing him. More adventures are on their way. In the meantime, check out "Who Whacked the Blogger?" and "Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs."

For more on Benjamin Sobieck: http://www.crimefictionbook.com/


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"You Can Write on the Side!"

"Zandri back in New York City? A most definite, we'll see, maybe..."

I just read a great blog by bestselling thriller author Aaron Patterson, who also happens to be my publisher at what might arguably be the most successful indie press in business right now: StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink. In his blog he talks about WORK, and how there's no real magic bullet when it comes to sales other than old fashioned hard work, the ability to adjust to new trends and circumstances, and personal character development that will allow you to ride out storms and low periods with a certain grace. Because after all, publishing is a cyclical business of terrific bursts of sales in which it seems the whole world is buying up your novels, and other periods of relative disinterest where you can't even get your mom to purchase a copy.

This afternoon, I will have a meeting with my agent to discuss interest from the major publishers in my new novel or novels. As many of you know I've published with the majors before, and recently, two of those novels, THE INNOCENT and GODCHILD have gone on to become major Amazon Kindle E-Book Bestsellers, both having hung out in the Top 100 for more than two months, and the former in the Top 10 for an equal amount of time. In fact, in three months time, I've moved around 200,000 of these E-Books. Which of course makes me, Vincent Zandri, Inc. register, or in this case re-register, on the radar of the biggies.

As many of you know, I believe that an author is best served by maintaining a mix of both indie press published books, self-published books, and traditional legacy published books. It seems to me the best way to maximize your sales and marketing potential while assuring you a nice financial cushion to rest your laurels on while you write. But the only thing I will be wary of when talking to my agent about a major deal is this: how long will my rights be tied up for? How much of an advance can I expect? What would be the advantages of a traditional deal over that of the deals I've struck up with my present publisher? What kind of lag time will there be between a contract offer and date of publication? What kind of royalty can I expect on E-Book publication? And how much will a traditional publisher charge for said book? (WARNING: I can name at least two very successful indie authors who signed with the biggies and who now, do not sell!!! Yikes!)

As I write this I can't help but think of those horrible couple of years I endured during the middle part of the last decade, when I couldn't get a book published if I pressed a pistol barrel to an editor's head. I was living in a big house in a suburb of Albany (my father in-law put up the down payment) with a woman I loved but who could no longer bear the writer's life, such as it was. Her parents were practically yelling at me to get a job or go back to work in my dad's construction business. "You can write on the side!" they insisted, with scowls on their faces. Even my wife insisted that I was selfish. And when she looked at me coldly and said, "I'm sorry the writing thing didn't work out," I knew that the time had come for me to get back to work writing the best book I could, even under circumstances that were pure domestic hell.

Even though my choices cost me my marriage, I've never regretted making the decision to remain a writer. In a real way, I don't feel that I had a choice but to remain a writer. For me, there is no other way to be; no other way for me to identify with myself. And today, I'm back to making a great living not only as a journalist, but mostly as a novelist. Now it's possible I'll be publishing with a major outfit once again. Of course, nothing here is a sure bet, and for all I know, the renewed interest in my work from NYC will fade away.

But somehow, I don't think so.

Somehow I believe I'm going to have to sit down with my friends God and Conscience and do some serious soul searching over the next few weeks. In any case, one thing will be for certain: I will continue to publish with my family at StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink for as long as they will have me , and I will one day (I know, I know, I keep saying it...) take the plunge and self-publish one or two of my novels. And, who knows, one day soon, I might sign on with a traditional publisher once again, for a book or two. If I do that, I will have come full circle.

Oh, and by the way, I ran into my former in-laws this past weekend at a play my six year old daughter was in. They are very nervous in front of me these days, and they can't find the strength to look me in the eye. As we exited the theater, I happened to mention about how I'd worked on the building many years ago "back when I was in the construction business." "Thank God I don't have to do that kind of work anymore," I added with a laugh. I guess I kind of expected a response. But they both just put their heads down, and walked quietly away.


To grab the newest Zandri, CONCRETE PEARL double click HERE!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amazon Tags: The Good News & The Good News

Some of us took it on the chin last week. Us authors published by indie outfits like StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink and some of you self-pub'd authors, that is. Amazon decided to remove the tags that can lead readers to our books whenever they search for a certain type of read, be it hard-boiled or romantic suspense or a book that's a lot like James Patterson's books for that matter. Combine that with some sales reporting glitches and a summer special concocted by Amazon in which they selected 600 novels (most of which are published by the major houses in New York), discounted them to $2.99 or less to make them as attractive as indie books, and it all came together to create a major slowdown in our sales.

I did some blogging on the tag topic last week and received more comments than ever before. Tagging, although not essential for selling novels is nonetheless, a valuable tool in helping potential readers and hopefully would-be fans find your work. One of the comments by a fellow indie pub'd author was quite revealing and came as a bit of a relief. He pointed out the fact that the tags are not gone at all. They are just no longer posted beneath a particular book's product description. Which means Amazon has decided that only books that you purchase can be tagged. What this will do for them is cut down on the amount of "gaming" abuse that can occur with tags, and perhaps put a halt to what they and the the Big Six Legacy Pubs consider the worst tag of all: "Boycott $9.99" Kindles."

So, if you want to find your tags, here's what you do:
-Go to your Customer Account (not your Author Central Account)
-Scroll down to "Improve Your Recommendations"
-BAM! Your tags will appear for you in the form of books you have purchased.

So that's it, for now.
Word on the street from some of my other blog readers is that Amazon Support has promised that the tags are to return to the main Kindle E-Book pages and that what's happened is in fact, a glitch in the system. But considering the timing of the "600 Kindle Titles Special," I don't know if I'm buying it.

The good news is that all games aside, the indie titles are slowly gaining back the ground they lost last week, and even re-entering the "Movers and Shakers" list. Which means that no matter what kind of battles the head honchos of the Big Six and stores like Amazon decide to wage against us indies, the overall war will be won by us.


Because we can offer great work for an affordable price and we can do it forever and ever, Amen.

To buy Zandri's Top 100 Bestselling Kindle E-Books like THE INNOCENT and GODCHILD (both only $.99 for a limited time) head on over to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM or click on the title.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tag Me, Tag You Blues! Or, It's the End of the Indie World as We Know It!?

"There they are, the four riders of the Big Six Apocalypse: NOOK, Kindle, Sony E-Reader, and Ipad."

Oh man, you'd think those crazy asses who predicted the world would end on May 21 actually only got the date wrong by a little over a week. This past weekend when Amazon decided to pull their tags on E-Books (you know, those descriptive words you add to a title so that browsers can find them more easily when shopping), a whole bunch of my colleagues and cohorts immediately saw the four horsemen riders of the Apocalypse shoot down from the heavens and along with it, the end to what seemed like a very profitable run in Kindle E-Book heaven.

Add to that some unexplained lackluster sales across the board, and you have legions of indie authors contemplating their final meal: Will it be meatloaf or fried chicken?

I'm of the opinion that yes, tags are important. But I'm not of the opinion that tags alone create monumental sales. What creates great sales are the tried and true 4 rules of the indie games, or any variety of publishing game for that matter:

1. Great Cover
2. Great Product Description
3. Great Price
4. Great Book

After that you add in social media marketing, a virtual tour, a trailer, and just plain writing more great books, and you have yourself a career that should earn you steady sales that will increase with time, according to how fast your tribe of loyal readers grows.

Tags are cool because I can tag another bestselling hard-boiled mystery author and she can tag mine, and when John Q. Public goes to my Amazon page for THE INNOCENT or THE REMAINS for instance, they also see her name and then perhaps we both get a sale. But there are other ways to tag on other social media sites like Crime Space and Edgey Christian Fiction and even still on Amazon, so long as there is a paper version of the novel available.

Some people believe that the loss of tags is really the result of a conspiracy between the Big 6 publishers and the chiefs at Amazon to do away with the popular indie titles. I don't believe this is the case, because one, it would probably constitute something illegal like a payoff or payola, and two, why would Amazon shoot their hugely successful indie publishing program in both its feet just to give in to a dying white elephant?

Others believe the tags will re-appear one day soon since it must be a glitch that destroyed them in the first place (such as a Lady CaCa, excuse me, GaGa, download). This is possible I guess. Some have even been reporting that sales numbers aren't showing up and that rankings are dipping on a disproportionate scale with actual sales. Now there's a fantasy I really want to believe since I too have dipped somewhat in the ranks this week.

But you know what? Sorry Charlie, that's freakin' life.
And you know what else? Don't put all your eggs in one fragile basket. Amazon is cool, but it's only one store. Chime in on some NOOK fan sites, or sell more books off your website or your publishers website. Give some E-Books away for God's sake. The point is not to be caught with your pants down in this business. A lot of people have been asking me why I'm still writing journalism, and this tag business is precisely why.

Ok, so answers...we all want answers.
Well, I don't have any, but here's what I have to offer:
My gut reaction is that the tags will never return. And that the reason Amazon has limited product descriptions for indie novels from 7 to 2 is because the indie books are proving more popular than the company would ever have believed them to be. That said, I believe they are trying to level the playing field a little to give the higher priced novels produced by the NYC legacy publishers more of a fighting chance. The biggy novels make up a huge portion of Amazon's sales, and like Obama's stimulus packages, they're trying to light a fire under some of the same old, same old mega authors . That's what I believe anyway.

But here's what else I believe:
That tags or no tags, the most popular indie authors (and my publishing house has at least three of these authors...) will realize a 20% to 30% decline in sales this month, but that decline will be short-lived as other ways to tag and to market will inevitably put these players back on top. If nothing else, these top players will once more reach the top by simply following the aforementioned golden rules. They will also write new material, unaffected by one store's attempt at leveling a playing field that truly isn't meant to stay level.

Yo, grab up the new Concrete Pearl, the first in a new series starring the sexy and brassy Spike Harrison!!!!!