Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Embalmer: A Steve Jobz Thriller

I've been working with gritty PIs Dick Moonlight and Jack Marconi for so long, I thought it was time to bring another dude into the fold. His name is Steve Jobz, which is short for Jobzinski (it got cut off at Ellis Island when his relatives arrived from Poland back before the war). 

In word, he's what my late grandfather would have referred to as a "pisser." You know, one of those guys who's always getting into trouble, can't seem to get much right, but whom you can't help but like or even love. He's not the biggest guy in the room, but he's got a big heart. Plus, he's got no choice but to bear the burden of having a name so very similar to one of the most successful individuals who's ever lived. His first novel is called THE EMBALMER and it too is a pisser.  Think, Better Call Saul meets The Rockford Files.

Without having to reinvent the wheel, here's the synopsis as provided by the KDP page:

"The Embalmer is dying to meet you..."

From New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Overall No. 1 Bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award winning author Vincent Zandri comes a brand new private detective series that combines wry humor with some serious hard-boiled action, adventure, and romance. For fans of Don Winslow, Charlie Huston, Vince Gilligan and cable TV series like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

You might think that a guy with the name of Steve Jobz would be one lucky man. That he'd be rich and have the world at his fingertips. But instead, Jobz is barely making ends meet at the New York State Department of Unemployment Insurance Fraud. A former cop who was forced to retire early after shooting a young man of color during a convenience store holdup, Jobz has since resigned himself to wasting away his days in a four-by-four cubicle inside an office space that's more boring than watching the paint dry.

But when his overbearing boss calls him in on a job that the Albany Police Department is heading up, Jobz has a chance to get out of the office for a while. But what he doesn't realize is that he's about to come face to face with a serial killer who embalms his victims alive. What he is also about to face down, is his own worst nightmare come true when that serial killer turns out not to be a stranger. 

Here's hoping you take advantage of he special $2.99 pricing that will be around for the launch weekend only.  Grab The Embalmer HERE!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Monthly Writing Challenge

The new series is dying to meet you...
I'm always pumping out the words, but this month I've taken on a new challenge. I'm writing a new episodic erotic noir novel inspired by some of the edgier cable TV shows we all love to binge. It's called The Handyman.

Thus far, I've completed two of the episodes which contain about 15k words each. I've also started on the third episode. I'll be releasing each episode, one per month, soon under my own Bear Noir label. In the end, I'll collect them into one single book.

At this point I'm not sure if I'll do more than three episodes before I begin releasing them, but first I'd like to see the response from my fan base. 

In the meantime, I'll have a new novel coming out every 60 days from this point forward for the rest of the year including January when Polis Books publishes a new standalone thriller, The Detonator (which is getting a lot Hollywood play, I should tell you. More on that at a later date).  Scratch that. By the looks of things, I should be putting out a new novel every 60 days for the next year and a half.

Clearly, I'm a roll here...creatively speaking.

Let me tell you about another author who is on a roll of his own. This past spring I interviewed New York City novelist Lee Matthew Goldberg for the prestigious, Fiction Writer's Review, about his new novel The Mentor, which is getting great praise from the critics. Lee is both a friend and a screen writing partner. Grab the interview HERE.

I'll soon be starting on the second novel in Steve Jobz series. Thus far the pilot novel, The Embalmer, has turned out to be my most successful pre-order to date, and that includes my 9 Thomas & Mercer novels. Go figure. So if you want to pre-order a copy now for a special price, click HERE.

I'm still a hybrid author, but have you noticed that I've been doing more and more indie publishing as of late? I'll be curious to compare the statements from my traditional publishers with my indie data later this month. My guess is my indie numbers are, for the most part, better, if not far better. Food for thought.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Pieces of Mind

Fiction isn't my only shtick. I've been writing non-fiction and essays since I first picked up a pencil. The topics I've covered over the years range from fly fishing, to travel, to architecture, to hunting, to coping with a loved one's depression. I've also written about writing.

So many books exist on the Amazon shelves dealing with how to become a bestselling author or how to game the system that it's impossible to hear yourself think over all the noise. But few books actually deal with the what it's like to be a writer, how it affects your relationships, what it's like to be alone all the time on a day to day basis, making a living by making stuff up.

My new book (errr one of my new books), Pieces of Mind: Fictional Truths & Non-Fictional Lies about Writing and the Writing Life, is one of the only ones out there that not only attacks the subject of "on writing," but that also deals with the "writing life." Here's the official product description: 
Brand new from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Vincent Zandri comes a non-fiction volume that will hold special appeal for those writers, new or established, who've enjoyed books on writing by Stephen King, Charles Bukoswki, Scott Nicholson, Chris Fox, Wayne Stinnett, and more.

Featuring a brand new introduction by the author on how he willingly gave up his birthright as the heir apparent to a multi-million dollar commercial construction firm in order to pursue his writing passion, Pieces of Mind contains essays on topics as diverse as lost love, sex, divorce, coping with a child's severe depression, experiencing Carnival in Venice, to sharing a first beer with your teenage son. But every word is delivered under the umbrella of a full-time fiction writer and freelance journalist trying to make sense of the lush world that surrounds him.

You'll also find "how to" pieces on going indie, staying traditional, and even hybrid authorship. You'll discover how Zandri sold 100,000 books in a single month, and how to keep on writing when you don't even want to get out of bed in the morning. Originally featured in publications such as Conor Friedersdorf's Culture 11 Magazine, Literarily Speaking, Writer's Digest, and other now archived pieces originally written for The Vincent Zandri Vox, these essays will make you laugh, cry, cringe, and think. Most of all they will want to make you drop everything to write your own story, be it fiction, non-fiction, or a fictional truth.

From the ITW Thriller and PWA Shamus Award Winning author of the No. 1 Bestselling novels, THE REMAINS and EVERYTHING BURNS, as well as new bestsellers like THE ASHES, ORCHARD GROVE and THE EMBALMER, comes the first in a series of books ON WRITING.

If you love short, sharp vignette style essays that get right to the point, while kicking aside political correctness, you'll love Pieces of Mind.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Amazon giveways, food poisoning, and a new release: Just another day in the life

Three weeks ago I was lying on a bare mattress with only a ceiling fan to cool my sweat-soaked body. I was suffering from the effects of food poisoning which I attributed entirely to my own carelessness. You don't travel to a third world country and eat as many street tacos as humanly possible and expect to feel well. What I'm about to tell you is not for the weak stomached nor it is for the kids, so skip a bit if you must. But at one point, nature was not taking it's normal course, rather, I was bleeding out.

The fixer for my research trip explained that a hospital might be in order, but together we gazed into one another's eyes, and the answer seemed obvious enough. Better not to go to a hospital in Guatemala than to willingly go. In the end he suggested I just allow the disease to take its course. "Oh, and we leave for the six hour overland drive at four in the morning," he added.

I wanted to die.

Here's a bit of video shot as I was beginning to recover the dreaded disease...

So now I'm back in New York and facing other more business related challenges that also make me feel like I'm bleeding out. One of these might not seem like a big deal to some, but I utilize Amazon Giveaways as one of my primary marketing tools. But for some reason, Amazon won't allow me to giveaway any of my titles as of this past Friday. Now you might think there would be a quick fix to this, but after spending countless hours and days on the phone with everyone from KDP to Kindle Retail and back again, no one can figure out what the hell is going on. It's almost like someone or something is tossing a wrench into the Zandri publishing works.

You'll also recall that I was unceremoniously removed from Kindle Select a few months ago without warning. Hmmmm, not that I subscribe to conspiracy theories, but things are beginning to smell a little bit. Or maybe my overactive imagination is playing tricks on me again. In any case, I've spoken to some very nice people at the firm and they are working the problem, even if they are doing a lot head scratching in the meantime. Hopefully, my giveaways will be up and running soon, and you dear fans, will be able to take advantage of some new free book offers.

Speaking of books, I have a new series starting up in July. The PI series will feature Steve Jobz (get it?). It will combine some wry humor with all the action, romance, and suspense you might expect from a Zandri crime novel. The pilot novel in the series is The Embalmer. In a nut shell, it involves a serial killer who enjoys embalming his victims while they're still alive. "Where do you come up with this shit?" a doctor once asked me. So there you have it.

Please pre-order now at a special low price!!!

I have quite a few new projects on the horizon including a brand new full-length Chase Baker action/adventure novel, the first in the Young Chase Baker YA series, and even a new erotic noir series. The latter will most definitely not be for the kiddies but Mature Audiences only. Now that the journalism is all but entirely paused, I'm putting out as many fictional words as possible everyday. It's what I love to do. And I hope you love to read them.



Sunday, June 4, 2017


Boats, rain forest, and food poisoning. What's not to like?

The crash of thunder and lightning woke from my first sound sleep in nights. The lightning was so close you could hear the quick “click” that occurs a split second or less before the massive crash of thunder. The thunder rattles my little bungalow in the middle of a Rio Dulce tropical forest. "Bungalow" is pushing it since it’s really just three and a half walls, the other made up of screen. There’s a ceiling fan for ventilation but mostly it just pushes the hot humid air around. That means the torrential downpour, despite the rattle, hum, shock and awe of thunderclaps, is a welcome friend down here in central Guatemala. 

It’s the rainy season, so I expected nothing less. 

From what my fixer tells me, it’s hot and humid in these parts, 365 days per year. It’s still a much sought out destination for wealthy sailors and less than rich adventurers who wish to moor their boats for a while. It's even becoming a much sought out exotic destination for Americans who wish to retire to a place less expensive that Florida. Think Key West or Havana circa 1925. 

What I didn’t quite expect coming down here is the food poisoning I contracted forty eight hours ago back when I was still residing in modern civilization. That is, Antigua. I had very good wifi in Antigua so another writer friend of mine accused me of being on vacation. Bastard. Tell that to my gut! But with the help of Cipro antibiotic twice per day and enough Imodium to block me up for months, I’m doing my best to get through it all.

I fell in love with South America, especially Peru and the Amazon some years ago while researching what would become Chase Baker and the Golden Condor. Now, I’m back in jungle/tropical rain forest territory to research what will become a Chase Baker action/adventure centered somehow around the Mayans and magnificent ancient civilizations like Tikal. I had originally planned on heading into El Mirador, arguably an ancient lost civilization older and much larger than Tikal, but the trip was cancelled by the adventure company I use. However, my guide down here tells me he can take me in at a later date to be determined. It’s two days hike in, one full day at the site, and another two day hike out. For now I’ll have to settle with what I’ve got, which is an overland view of Guatemala, Belize and the Yukatan in Mexico. It’s a lot of traveling, a lot of early mornings, a lot of bug spray, but I’m always up for the challenge.

What’s the old saying? Reporters gather facts. Writers gather experience. I’ve been a freelance reporter, and even a photo journalist, but I was never entirely comfortable in that role, as the facts are not always enough to peek my interest. Where’s the drama? I’ll expand upon the rule: reporters ignore the drama. Writers crave drama.

Soon I’ll be taking a boat upstream to an island village, Livingston, made up of West Africans, displaced Hondurans, indigenous Mayans, Guatemalans, and who knows what. For now, I’ll be taking a hike through the jungle that surrounds this compound. Maybe I’ll see a monkey, or an anaconda, or a croc. Yesterday I came upon a peacock that must have been five feet long from beak to tip of multi-colored tail. It was quite the thing to see. I’m surrounded by the sights, sounds, heat and humidity of the jungle. Despite my stomach, I’m soaking it all in. Craving the experience, the way a real writer should. 


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Central America First Stop

That plume of smoke way beyond is a live volcano...
Quick check-in now that I've been hanging out in Antigua, Guatemala for a few days. Lovely colonial town with an unspoiled feel. Two and three-storied stucco-covered buildings, some of which are as old as the forested mountains that surround it. A live volcano watches over the place like a benign ruler with a loaded gun in his hand. You see the smoke rising up from its peak during the daylight hours (that is, the cloud cover isn't obscuring it) and you see the glow of hot lava at night.

Now how cool is that, travel lovers?

There's the usual smog and pollution from the many cars and trucks that motor across old cobbled roads that are an absolute bitch to walk. I've jogged them a couple of times which means I'm begging for a broken ankle or at the very least, a broken toe. Such is the stupidity of the author.

But this is a place of happy natives who, unlike NYC for instance, smile at you when you pass by on the street. The temperature is relatively cool for a tropical lowland/highland geography, but the humidity high. It rains every night since it's the rainy season. The smell is a combination grilled meats, roasting chocolate and coffee, and exhaust. The sounds are motorbikes, cars, church bells, fountains, and laughter. I don't think I've witnessed a single person in distress.

A writer can live here in a nice house, hire staff, and live very well for maybe $30K per year. Makes one think. But this is the easy peasy part of my journey which truly begins on Friday. So I'm enjoying my little calm before the storm, eating some tacos, washing it all down with Gallo Beer. From paradise into the jungle I go to the lost city of Z. Zandri that is. 


Yesterday I hired a tuck-tuck to take me around the place. Note for solo travelers. Don't feel like paying a whole lot of dough for the mega tour including an all you can eat buffet lunch? Just hire a taxi driver and pay him extra for his services. You be surprised how accommodating he can be.

Here's a video snapshot:

Vaya con dios amigos...


Monday, May 29, 2017

Layovers and Tiger Woods

We all mess up now and again...
I've been up since 2:30 am, so if this seems like a bunch of garbled words, well it probably is. Add to that a couple shots of Jamesons, plus a Valium, and you get the idea. I'm heading down to Central America to research yet another Chase Baker pulp action thriller. Since the latest Chase Baker just arrived on the scene a month of two ago, Chase Baker the Dutch Diamond, and there's also one waiting to be edited, Chase Baker and the Spear of Destiny, this one will not be released probably until early '18.

I'm also close to 20K words into the first Young Chase Baker novel. It's a YA novel. My first. What a joy it's been writing in the teenage adolescent Chase voice. In some ways, it's much more of a challenge than the contemporary takes since the period is not only different (1979), the voice is different. Obviously, Chase isn't as slick, experienced, or as educated as he is now. But he is ballsy, if not too ballsy, and he is, as always, in trouble with the ladies. What's also interesting, is that his dad is alive in this series. In fact, his dad is younger than the contemporary Chase is now, yet he refers to him as his "old man."

Right now, the working title is Young Chase Baker and the Cross of the Last Crusade. A bit of a mouthful, but so what. It's my book, my show. In the meantime, my newest release is a new novella in the PI Jack Marconi series. Arbor Hill. Released this past Friday, it's already killing it, so grab a copy at any distributor from Kobo to Amazon, while it's priced to sell. Tomorrow, the price normalized.

Time for me to pack up the laptop and head down to the gate, with maybe a pit stop at the bar for one more Jamesons. Then a nap on the plane to Guatemala. And what the hell is this I hear Tiger Woods got busted for a DUI (dee wee)? I leave for a few hours and the whole world goes to hell. Well, poor Tiger is living proof that greatness is not immune to the occasional screw up. I wish him well, and that he gets his shit together fast, which I'm sure he will. Watch for the media to blow this whole this out of proportion. Oh, well, the mainstream media outlets gotta keep moving those Pampers and Budweiser Beer...

Thanks God I'm not driving.

See yah next stop...



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Keeping Up the Promised Pace

This year I committed myself to putting out a piece of fiction every month. At the very least, a short story, more than likely a novella, and on occasion, a full-length novel. I've also produced another Chase Baker Boxed Set, but that doesn't count. And of course, all this is separate from the novels my traditional publishers put out on my behalf. Which means I've been a busy little bee, and so has my editorial/art team.

On Friday, the 6th Jack Marconi PI story, in this case, a novella will be released. It's called Arbor Hill and came to me in the form of a story a buddy of mine told me last month over a beer. A poor soul went on a date with a woman, a dentist mind you, who took him for $10K on his credit card. Oh, and she would not have sex with him with a condom on. Naturally she pulled the, "I think I'm pregnant" thing on him a week or two later.

Jeeze, I'm not sure if I should feel sorry for the poor sap, or slap some sense into him. Such is the dilemma Jack Marconi PI faces now that said poor soul has hired him to get his money back.

You can still pro-order this one at a very special price (on Amazon that is):

Amazon US

Amazon UK

But you can buy it now at


Barnes & Noble


It's a killer story and you can read it one sitting or over the course of a couple of nights.
BTW: As a hybrid writer, I can now confidently report, that I am making double and in some cases triple/quadruple the sales on my indie books than I am my traditionally published efforts. Which leaves me feeling conflicted. Do I pursue more independent opportunities with my own label, Bear Media, or stay true to hybrid authorship?

Time will tell.    

Friday, May 12, 2017


Sorry...I'm not talking about the kind of discipline that involves black leather, riding crops and chains. So mind of out of the gutter pronto.

This is the kind of discipline that leads to freedom. If you're a writer, what you're working for in the short and long run, is freedom. The freedom to do whatever you want when you want to do it. But just like the freedom we enjoy as Americans, it don't come cheap nor does it come without a lot of hard work. It takes discipline to pull your butt out of bed everyday and sit yourself down at the writing desk to pump out five or six pages of new work, day in and day out. Discipline takes strength but it also takes desire and self-motivation.

Working for yourself is a goal most working stiffs and corporate slaves only dream about. What's the point of putting in all that schooling, all those loans, if you're only signing up for two weeks vacation per year?

One of the best things about being a full-time author (or freelance writer for that matter) is being your own boss, setting your own schedule, building a passive income that will not only take care of you and yours in the present tense, but will supply financial security for future generations. But it all takes discipline.

So how do I go about applying the writing disciple in my everyday life?

The answer is in the Vlog (nice face huh?):

 THE REMAINS, the No. 1 Overall Amazon Bestselling, is just 0.99 for a Limited Time! "Beware the Woods!"


Saturday, May 6, 2017

You got what it takes to be a full-time author?

My very first novel back in the day of big advances ...
I've been doing this writing gig for a long time now. Full-time. Some years have been spectacular. You know, those years when I'm scoring big contracts and winning some prestigious awards, and hitting all the lists.

Then there are those years where all I hear are crickets, the bank account is dwindling, and the passengers are jumping ship.

Most years, however, fall somewhere in between the highs and the lows, and that's actually a good place to be. Because in the writing business, things are never as good as they seem, nor are they as bad.

The only thing you can control is the writing. At least, that's what my first editor at Delacorte Publishing, Jacob Hoye, used to tell me. And he was spot on. So long as you're true to your craft, everything else can go to hell.

Now, with further ado, you got what it takes to be a full-time author?

Today THE REMAINS is just 0.99...
Grab it and be thrilled...


Friday, May 5, 2017

Who Doesn't Like a Threesome?

We all want more.
More food, more booze, more sex, more sleep, more fun, more action, more adventure, more romance, more life...Now you can get a whole lot more of action/adventure hero and Renaissance man, Chase Baker in the newly released Chase Baker Trilogy II. Included in this collection, three of the more recent bestselling Chase Baker paranormal romance adventures:

1. Chase Baker and Lincoln Curse
2. Chase Baker and the Da Vinci Divinity
3. Chase Baker and the Seventh Seal

No.'s 2 and 3 were researched on-site. The former by motorbike at the little town of Vinci in Italy's Tuscan countryside. The latter was researched in Jerusalem and all of Israel last June. I take pride in my research efforts which have taken me from Mt. Everest to Machu Picchu and from the Great Wall to Red Square. In three weeks, I'll pack up the backpack, slip on my hiking boots, store my malaria pills, and head down to the jungles of Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico to research what will be Chase Baker no. 12. 

What's that I hear? You're not commenting on research for the Chase Baker and the Lincoln Curse. Well, that one takes place less than a mile up the road fro my home. The story comes courtesy of my first wife who grew up in an old house that once served as the home for Major Henry Rathbone who, along with his wife, Clara Harris, shared the Presidential Box along with Abraham Lincoln on the night he was fatally shot by John Wilkes Boothe at Washington's Ford's Theater in April 1865. When Lincoln dropped, he fell into Clara's lap. Her bloodied dress was said to have been haunted by the spirit of Lincoln. It was allegedly stored behind a brick wall in the house and it was said to have caused both the Major and Clara to go completely insane. There's a lot more to the story, but then you'll have to grab the book and read it.

The good thing about The Chase Baker Trilogy II is that it's totally bingeable. It's sort of a damp, cool weekend here in the northeast. The perfect weather for lighting a fire, and curling up with some Chase Baker. Get this one in eBook or Paper for a special low price for a very limited time.

Buy The Chase Baker Trilogy II:




Barnes & Noble/Nook


Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Emily Phillips: She was born, she blinked and...
I read recently about a Florida woman, Emily Phillips, who wrote her own obituary. It went something like this. I was born, I blinked, and it was over. It hit me hard. Because I could entirely relate. Luckily or by the grace of God, I'm not writing my own obit at present, but for certain, I was born, I blinked, and I turned 50. Or 52. How the hell did that happen?

I look at writing projects on my table. Some stuff I've been thinking about for years. More than ten years. Back when a man or a women entering the workforce or even writing their first stuff was still in kindergarten. In some ways, life is better than it's ever been. I feel better, because I work out like crazy and I don't abuse myself like I once could. Was a time I could party all night and get up and bite on the nail. That no longer holds true, so I don't abuse myself. It just isn't worth it anymore.

But there are scares that, dare I say it, come with age. The doctors tell me I have too much plaque on the arteries. It's genetic for the most part. But now I'll need to take medication to keep the cholesterol down. The bad stuff. I have to cut out certain foods. No more red meats or butter or bacon double cheeseburgers. Oh well. You do what you have to do. You're lucky to be here.

There are those who are not so lucky. People who have been friends for ages. For life in some cases. They are sick. Gravely sick. You never imagined the possibility let alone probability, that they would one day be gone from your life, so you put off seeing them for a while because life is getting in the way. A while turns into years, and years, and more years. And then you find out they aren't well. You do what you can to help them, but it will never be enough. You failed them a long time ago. You were selfish.

Look at yourself in the mirror. You might not realize it, but the life is racing by. Make the days count, the hours, the minutes. I know you've heard it before, but don't sweat the little things. Live the life the way you always imagined it. Buy a plane ticket...Now.  A ticket to anywhere.
Because one day you'll blink, and it will be over.


Friday, April 28, 2017

The Blank Page

A familiar sight...
The difficult thing about being a fiction writer, is having to make it all up, day in and day out. You can borrow on what's happening all around you, if that makes it slightly easier. The crime, the politics (if you're so inclined), the cultural pulse, and so on. But always, you are are still left facing the same blank canvas.

There are mornings when I wake up, having no idea what I'm going to write or how I'm going to write it. All I know is that it, whatever it is, must be written. It's what I do, how I define myself, and and my reason for living.

Some days it's easy. Other days, it truly is like biting on the nail, as someone far more famous than me described it a long, long time ago. But always, I do it. No matter what's happening in my life, no matter my physical or mental condition, no matter the day, no matter the weather. If a nuclear attack were imminent, would I still get the word count in?

As absurd as that question is, the answer is obvious enough for me.
But what about you?


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 'But(t)' Sentence

The most famous butt in the word, errr...
We don't always accept stuff at face value. Not if we're being smart. We weigh the pros and cons, often carrying on an internal dialogue in our heads. I.E. "Hmmmmm, that chocolate frosted donut sitting all by itself in the case looks delicious. But maybe I should eat something healthier. Like a banana. But I'm not crazy about bananas. I could always have cereal. But all I have is Cheerios and Cheerios suck. Now how about that donut. But my clothes feel like they're shrinking lately..."
And so on, and so forth. BTW: You probably end up eating say half the donut and therefore the calories don't count.

But I digress.

So one of the tricks of the writing trade...fiction that is, but it can be applied to the nonfiction stuff the infamous But Sentence. I say infamous only because it sounds good. The But Sentence is used not only to propel a paragraph along, but also to help flesh out a character and/or situation more fully. It also keeps the reader more subconsciously interested in the text since But Sentences provide a specific rhythm to the story. Think of these little gems as paradiddles for words.

"Kim hated her long dark hair. It was dirty and unkempt. But then, she liked the way it made he blue eyes seem even bluer. Or her eyes weren't blue necessarily, but more like baby blue with a little gray in there. Actually, they were brown. Now she could always cut her hair. But she didn't have the money for a decent beautician. Instead she could cut it herself. However, she could never trust herself with a pair of scissors. Clearly, Kim, had herself one hairy conundrum."

Or something like that. But hey, I'm making this up as a I go.

The point of the illustration is to demonstrate that a But Sentence doesn't always begin with a But, rather, it can begin with an "Or," or an "Instead" or a "However," or even a "Clearly." You get a sense of the back and forth, the teeter-totter rhythm of the graph. You don't even have to care all that much about Kim's problem, but you keep reading because of the rhythm, the back and forthness of it all.The Buts are not only the glue that holds the thing together, it's the drumstick coming down on the snare drum, the bass pedal beating the bass drum.

Practice a few But Sentences on your own today. It's a fun exercise. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself. Of course, I'm one of those geeks who sees Kim Kardashian's big butt on a magazine cover and has to write a story around it. A long story. But then, that's my job.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Marketing: The Time Suck

I work all the time. In fact, I'm sometimes like the crotchety writer dude played by Jack Nicholson in that movie from the late 1990s, As Good As It Gets. There's a scene in which he tells Helen Hunt, "I work all the time." The point being, Don't bug me. Writers are a funny bunch in that they don't feel right unless they are putting words on a page, good words or bad words.

But lately, I feel like despite the stellar word count, the marketing has been getting in the way. The social media, the interviews, the setting up of promos, the website updates, the newsletters, the compiling of subscribers and, if you're like me, answering as many fan emails as you can possibly answer without your fingers falling off from all the typing. I like my fans. They support me. Therefore, I like to give them the personal treatment.

Now, marketing your work doesn't apply only to your independently published books and stories. It also applies to the traditional stuff. In some cases, I find myself pushing the traditional stuff more, since the publishers just don't have the time or the budget to keep pushing Zandri books, especially the ones I can't even get my own mother to buy.

Some authors rely on Amazon ads or Facebook ads. They pour a bunch of money into the ad budget then create numerous ad-sets and forget about it. But like I intuited in a previous post, these ads can be a money suck if not monitored closely enough. Some authors hire virtual assistants to handle the marketing overflow. I've done this in the past and it never really works out, because you lose control over your messaging when someone else is producing it. Some authors do nothing. Their marketing is boiled down to consistent output. Write, publish, rinse, repeat. There's that rule again. The more books and stories you create, the better chance you have of making a decent monthly and semi-annual profit.

I believe that making more words is the inevitable answer. Writing stories day in and day out without hesitation. But how can one keep up with that kind of grueling pace? you ask. Simple. Some people never miss a day of work in a forty year career, minus vacations of course. Why should a writer be any different? Here's how I do it. I tell myself I'm working for a Hollywood studio, like Fox or Disney. They give me a room and a typewriter, and my boss tells me, "I want a story on my desk by the end of the week, or no paycheck." See, it's not so difficult when you look at it from that POV.

Anyway, this was supposed to be about marketing. But it all comes down to the writing, doesn't it?
Write, publish, rinse, repeat.
Everything else is secondary.

Grab my new novel THE ASHES


Friday, April 21, 2017

Moneysuck Or Do Facebook Ads Really Work?

Or, simply throwing your money away...
I've created a monster.
No, really...I now have something like 25 novels, novellas, and collections in print (see, I can't even keep track of the specific amount), about half of them with traditional publishers and the other under my own imprint, Bear Media. Like hungry little children, all these books need to be fed, or they will wither and die. That means, advertising. Sure, the best method for selling a book is still word of mouth, but I'm not only hoping to sell a few copies from out of my local indie bookstore, I'm selling to a global audience (Now you see why I do very few book signings). That means paid advertising like Facebook Ads.

I first heard about the possibilities of these little digital devils when I was in Italy sometime around XMas, 2015. I thought, well how hard can this be? I went to You Tube, looked at a tutorial on creating an ad set (the demographics, the budget, the copy, the image...), and I was off. Since then I've spent close to $10K on FB ads, and here's the thing: I'm not sure they work.

That said, I'm certain my books have landed millions, and I mean, millions of impressions. And quite a few clicks which I can only assume translates into sales. Or some sales at least. But for sure, I cannot attribute $10K worth of book sales to $10K worth of ads, which in the end would be a wash anyway. Taken a step further, I am most definitely not making a profit on these ads.

So why then, do I do the illogical thing and keep them going?

The answer lies in the impressions. Product recognition. What I'm hoping for is that when enough people finally recognize the novels I'm advertising, they will warm up to the idea of taking a chance on giving them a go. So I guess I can say, my investment in FB ads is more of a long-term thing. Right now, I'm the bakery that's giving away free cookies and cakes. That's not to say, I'm not learning how to optimize these ads better so that I'm not tossing money away. Numerous courses exist on creating the perfect ad, but they are expensive, and I'm not entirely sure the investment in time would be worth it.

In fact, I've been experimenting with Amazon ads as of late, and I find these effective in terms of dollars and cents (You are charged only per click, as opposed to FB ads where you spend exactly what you pledge per day). To a lesser degree in effectiveness are Book Bub ads.

In the end, I still believe the best way to push your books on the global market is to write more and more of them. Anyone who follows the Vox knows the mantra by now. Write. Publish. Rinse. Repeat.

But you still have to get the word out.

And this means advertising. So, if you're planning on using FB ads, make sure you spend only what you can afford, and experiment with them. Tweak them until the click rate is less than .05 per click. Anything more than that and you'll see your profits being eaten away like a cancer that thrives on healthy cells.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

On Publishing: 5 Rules You Should Break

Any author who isn't considering opening up their own publishing imprint in 2017 is living in the fucking dark ages. Pardon the F word. Sure, publish traditionally. Give to Caesar what is Caeser's. But by all means, take control of your career, and take advantage of all the publishing opps out there, including independent publishing platforms like KDP and D2D.

Publish, not once a year, or twice a year, but all the time. Publish non-stop. Don't let any publishing professionals, agent or editor, tell you you're wearing yourself too thin. Don't take their advice at all in fact when it comes to production and the proliferation of your words. Proliferation scares them. It goes against their traditional mindset. It makes them feel like they are losing control.

What scares the writing traditionalists and academy elites the most? A non-traditional writer who sells. A writer who writes what he wants to write, how he wants to write it. A writer who doesn't bend over to the PC lockstep culture. A writer who refuses to be emasculated by the system. I made well over six figures last year publishing the shit I make up, one way or another. I don't have to teach, I don't have to work at another job I hate. I don't have to grow old and irrelevant by punching a clock for some other asshole. Like the song goes, I live life my way.

You can too, but it takes a crap load of work. In mean time, here's a little advice about 5 traditional publishing rules your should break!

1. Don't sign a contract if you don't have to. Here's why: the publisher will break it if it wants to. You however, being an author and therefore powerless in the publisher's mind, will be expected to adhere to the letter of the law. When it comes to publishers, well, they feel they control your fate. So, like a pilot that purposely crashes the plane into a mountainside, they can tank your book if they so choose. Or they can veer away from the mountain, and make it a bestseller. Once you sign away your rights, they control everything. So bring along a parachute and don't sign if you don't have to.

2. If you must sign a contract, make sure there's no bullshit in there about non-compete clauses, or anything that holds onto your rights, paper or electronic, for more than a period of seven years. Anything more than that, and tell them to hit the road. Publish it under your savvy new imprint and control your own destiny.

3. When your publisher tells you to slow down, nod politely, then write and publish as many stories and novels as possible. Write, publish, repeat. Don't listen to their rules. I've worked with a half dozen major, medium, and small publishers over the course of a 20 year career. Almost every editor, editor in chief, and marketing person I've been involved with over that period are now gone baby gone. If nothing else, professional publishing is a revolving door. No one cares about you, no matter how much they pretend. Take care of yourself first, and publish everything. 

4. Don't suck up to get ahead. If you're like me, a hybrid publishing traditionally and independently, you're still going to find yourself in situations (especially in New York City and LA), where you're going to have to suck up to somebody. Be nice, treat others with the same respect you expect, but don't suck up to get ahead. It's humiliating. Remember, this is 2017, not 2007 or 1997 for that matter. You, the writer, have far more control over the publisher than you think. They need you more than the other way around. What a liberating concept. Like I said, be nice, work with them, market the work they produce for you to the best of your ability. But expect them to work for you as well. Your relationship with them should be a working relationship of mutual admiration and respect. Not one of the writer on his knees and the publisher with his pants unzipped. 

5. You don't need to attend every writers conference on the planet. These are expensive events that are usually attended by the old guard elite who are often paid to be there. Sure, conferences can be fun sometimes, especially for the more social butterfly-like writers. But again, it's one of those situations where conferences need you, more than you need them. It's a cash cow suck up fest. So if you enjoy sucking up while emptying your pockets, go for it.

I could add a sixth rule to break here, like do not waste your money on an MFA, but I'll save that for an essay down the road. For now, just write. Write everyday, write with abandon, write for yourself because that's who you are. Carve those precious gems. Write for traditional publishers but proceed with caution. They will do their best to control you. So don't let them. Control your own destiny. Be your own man. Doesn't matter your gender, grow a new set of balls, and establish your own rules and live by them. Thrive by them. 

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Zandri is Wide (Not in the Ass) and a First Quarter Assessment: Notes from a Hybrid...No. Whatever

That's me arm-in-arm this past Sunday with the Noir at the Bar crew NYC

You all would have heard by now that Amazon KDP kicked me out of Select apparently for violating the exclusivity agreement once in 2012, once in 2013, and again in 2014. They couldn't prove that I had violated anything by producing the "warning" emails at my request, but they said it is so and if they say it is so I guess it has to be true.

Ever get the feeling the crucifix will one day be replaced with the Amazon logo? 

It's all for the good though, because like those pesky young adults who won't leave their parent's basement, I had been depending upon Select too much as of late for my indie books, and it was time to leave the nest and go wide. Which I have. I'm everywhere except Google at present, but I'll get there too. I'm only one person, people! Maybe I should hire an assistant. Preferably a hot little brunette. Don't get me started...

Onwards. It's the end f the quarter and I'd like to do an entirely non-scientific assessment of this year thus far in sales and productivity. In other words, I'm not going to bore you with specific numbers, but instead just a general accounting of how it's been going with my traditionally published books, my Amazon Imprint Published Books (namely Thomas & Mercer), and my indie books published under my imprint Bear Media (Bear Thrills, Bear Pulp, etc.)

Okay, so the traditional side of things. The hard-cover of The Corruptions arrived in late January while I await the paperback version of Orchard Grove which came out in hard-cover in January of 2017. Both books seem to be doing well, in paper, audio, and especially e-book. Although I don't have the exact sales figure for the first part of this year, I believe we're looking at around 4-5K in sales, mostly in eBook on the back of a Book Bub, which I was fortunate to acquire (and finance). What I must stress here however, is the importance of authors doing their own marketing since leaving it up to the publisher will usually result in crickets. They just don't have the time. One of the books I have going traditionally at present is stinking up the joint which sucks, because when I was publishing it under Bear Thrills it was doing relatively well. Live and learn.

Amazon Imprint Books (Thomas & Mercer): There's been a lot of changes at the firm as of late, and every single one of the editorial and/or marketing people I started out with in 2012 are gone baby gone. Some good people have taken their place, but while last year at this time I was hitting the overall number 1 spot on the Amazon bestsellers list with The Remains (and all the residual sales that went with it), this year thus far has been kind of a yawn. Sure books like The Remains and the Jack Marconi PI novels continue to carry the bulk of the load (I have a whopping 9 books with the firm), there hasn't been a promo yet that's propelled a single title to the top 10 much less the top 100. But that doesn't mean it won't happen next week. So if I had to guess without looking the numbers up, I'm around the 3-4K sales range there.

Indie Books: In terms of full-length novels, I believe I'm somewhere around 15 now. I'm not sure how I've done it, but I've sold around 7-8K books during the first quarter, not including KDP borrows. So that's something to be proud of. The Ashes, the sequel to The Remains, is doing very well, and considering AP passed on it, saying it's too late for a sequel and therefore a "non-starter," I'm more than pleasantly surprised. Now at the same time, I've also given away more than 10K books so far this quarter and if I had to guess, that's one of the reasons for my success (remember, there are hybrid authors out there who sell way more than me, and more who sell way less, so it's all relative).

So where does this leave me? I'm making a nice living, and slowly, incrementally doing better with each new book published one way or another. Some might say I should pick a method of publishing and stick with it, but truth is, if I were to go back to being traditional exclusively, I'd have to pick up more freelance work, or maybe grab a teaching gig. So that's out of the question because I love my freedom. And I'm not ready to go entirely indie either, because I enjoy my books being in stores and libraries, and I love the trade reviews, and you're just not going to get that with indie (sorry for the run-on).

I'd like to think I'll do more books with AP, but I might be tipping the scales with 9 novels right now, plus When Shadows Come is still in the red in terms of its earning out its advance (Come on guys, let's market the hell out of this one. It was selected as a Suspense Magazine Best Book of 2016 for God's sakes...What's not to like?)

So now I'm wide and thus far I'm selling almost the equivalent of what I would have been making in page reads per day at Select. So that's a good thing. But more marketing will be needed in order to get the word out. That includes Facebook and Amazon Ads.

As for the production end of things, you'll recall in a past post that I have committed myself to writing only fiction this year (that can change), and thus far I'm putting out on average 10K new words per week, plus rewrites. So this is a full-time job to be sure. But what this means is, I not only have a new thriller for a traditional publisher to pick up, I am, at the same time, able to publish a series novel, novella, or short story at least once per month. And what's the best marketing tool for a writer? Proliferation. Or, simply writing more books. Write, publish, rinse, repeat. Word of mouth is a big help too, but you have no control over that. So if you're a writer, turn off the Twitter, and get busy. Get writing.

For links to all my "wide ass" books and all the stores that sell them go to: