Tuesday, October 15, 2019


That's where it all starts, right?
This idea pops into your head and you have to drop everything to write it. Even if it means dropping out of the world and locking yourself in your studio for days at a time. Unless I'm traveling, this pretty much sums up my life.

The one question I get from both my fellow authors and readers alike?
"Where do you get you ideas?"
I don't get them like I get a can of soup at the grocery store. They come to me. Sometimes too many at once. I write the ones that interest me the most, whether they are marketable or not. I am not the writer so much as the conduit.

The idea can come to me when I mistakenly hit another shopping cart with my own in the supermarket. Or sometimes I don't have a clear idea at all. I just sit down with a title in mind and I start to write.

Jim Harrison once said starting a novel before it's ready to be written is an exercise in futility and can be accompanied by the worst anxieties. I say, waiting too long to start a novel can be accompanied by the worst anxieties.

Open up your mind, relax, and let the ideas comes to you.


Pre-order THE EXTORTIONIST today at a special low price...It's the best Steve Jobz PI novel yet, or so says Siskel and Ebert!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Last Good Mystery Bookshop...

...And it's located way down in Manhattan, only a few feet away from 9/11's Ground Zero. Yesterday I signed a whole bunch of hardcover editions of The Caretaker's Wife, my brand new novel that began with this elevator pitch: The Postman Always Rings Twice meets High Plains Drifter.

Being that The Mysterious Bookshop is one of the last good bookshops left in my neck of the woods anyway, I wanted to make a video of my experience, beginning with hopping the Amtrak in Albany and ending with a short, pay-my-respects visit to the 911 memorial in lower Manhattan.

You can check out the video here:


Monday, October 7, 2019

My Radiation Poisoning

Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Okay, so I grabbed your attention with a little click bait. But how do you really know I don't have radiation poisoning after visiting the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history? I'll know for sure if certain body parts start falling off.

Chernobyl was one surreal dystopian scene, let me tell you. Not sure how I'm going to use it in my fiction, but perhaps some of it will get into my Tanya Teal Corporate Wars Trilogy. We'll see.

The real surprise from my latest adventure came in the form of visiting Transistria, the Eastern European country that doesn't exist but does exist. How then could I have visited the place if it doesn't exist? Just Google it and you will see what I'm on about. It's the last vestige of the USSR. A place where Lenin and Stalin are still worshiped and you can meet someone for coffee on the corner of Lenin and Marx street. I'll be writing an article about my experience there in the coming days. Just know that it's a playground for Putin who is currently placing lots of tanks there and manufacturing weapons and ammo. The only reason they let Westerners in after a strict checkpoint search is simple. They need the damn money.

Papa Lenin in Transnistria

So now that I'm back from nearly three weeks researching four countries, one of which doesn't exist but does exist, I'm back to work. It's gonna take me some time to catch up with everything so bear with me. Here's what it looked like my first morning back (via YouTube).

I'll be signing dozens of hardcover editions of my newest novel with Polis Books, The Caretaker's Wife (which is now available in audio too), tomorrow at The Mysterious Bookshop in downtown Manhattan tomorrow October 8. Looking forward to it and I hope you grab your signed copy either by visiting the store directly or by going online.

It's good to be back and not under constant surveillance.

PS. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. I'll be doing way more videos from now on. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Publishing Advances aren't Real Money

 Publishing Advances aren't Real Money...

I realize this is a hard concept for non-industry insiders to grasp. Some publishing outfit like Delacorte gives you $235K for two books. You get the check, after the agent takes his 15%, and you put it in the bank, and you proceed to spend the crap out of it. You do this because you automatically assume there will be more checks like that one coming.

And why not?

You're the toast of NYC, everyone is buying you drinks and steaks, you're partying like a rock star at the Gramercy Park Hotel with other hot authors and agents, you're messing around with your publicist because you're going through your first divorce so why the hell not. You even find yourself chatting it up with Monica Lewinsky on the Amtrak. Clooney and Dreamworks are calling for the movie rights and so are foreign rights cats, and you just put a significant down payment on a new house in the burbs. Life's pretty freakin' good.

You've made it baby!

But in all reality, you've screwed yourself.

Why? Because a year down the road you'll learn the sad truth. You didn't earn out your advance, meaning book sales weren't enough to cover those big fat checks they've been sending you. It means, technically speaking, you owe them that money. Since they're not going to ask for it back, they do this instead: "Hit the road Jack, and don't let the door slap you on the ass on the way out." Other publishers won't touch you either because they have the numbers in front of them to prove what a loser you are. Numbers, by the way, that you somehow aren't privy to.

I'm writing about this today, as is Chuck Wendig, thanks to a really good piece published in Medium by Heather Demetrios: “How To Lose A Third Of A Million Dollars Without Even Trying.” Both articles were brought to my attention by author and pal, Belinda Frisch. Chuck's article in particular really lays out the F'd up math associated with advances and sales of eBook, paper, and audio.   

In a nut shell, Heather's story is so much like my own, it's scary. Even the part where she admits to coming close to a total mental breakdown after making the big time, baby! Authors work so hard, become so emotionally invested in their work, that we don't crave validation for our efforts, we lust validation. We're willing to sacrifice anything to get it. So when a publisher offers us huge advances, we jump at them like a starving dog will leap off the floor for just a taste of raw meat. We lose sight of the big picture and the more than likely scenario of not earning out our advances. What happens is, future advances get smaller and smaller, and we find ourselves writing more and more, in desperate attempt the jump at whatever paltry advance we can get our hands on, just to keep up with the Internet bills.

So much for the big time.

What Heather doesn't write about however, is making a shift from traditional publishing to indie publishing whereby suddenly the author is in control of the product, the marketing, and inevitably the sales. One of the best decisions I made as an author was to go indie with some of my series and titles, and it has guaranteed me a steady income that's only increasing annually. Some books have sold so well that I've been offered new traditional book deals with decent advances (not even close to $235K however).

But there's a major difference between my inking a new deal today as opposed to years past: I no longer depend on the advances for my fiduciary well being. I no longer depend on stellar sales with these publishers. I no longer depend on anything that's out of my freaking control. The indie publishing half of me has freed me up so much, that I rarely email my agent, other than the occasional, "Hey what's up?" In year's past, I would pester him with daily emails. "Hey man, any word from the publisher? I desperately need money. The new wife has packed her bags and she's walking out the door..."

I wrote about my experiences in a nifty little book, The Hybrid Author Mindset: The totally honest, myth-busting, realistic, non-politically correct guide to succeeding at publishing traditionally and independently

It's only 2.99 on Amazon if you wanna check it out. Unlike other how-to books, I reveal my personal story about my publishing journey, warts, divorces, red bank accounts, and all. But it also contains the good stuff, like when I sold over 100K copies of The Innocent (formerly As Catch Can) in a little more than a month and how that one pivotal event led to a new cycle of brand new book deals.

Heather is committed to teaching newbie authors about the perils of modern publishing, and there are many of them. For writers, publishing books is an art. For publishers, publishing is a business and it's a cut throat one at that. Sorry to be the bearer of this little reality bite, but talent doesn't mean shit. You're just a number to them, an invoice, a spreadsheet, an email that can easily be ghosted when you're not selling up to expectations or they're just pain sick of you as a person.

In short. Write your books and put your heart and soul into them. Make them the best they can be. But be warned, if you're going for the traditional deal, the journey will be met with great peril, even if you nail the big time advance. Take the money, but at the same time, take matters into your own hands and free yourself from the gate keeper's and the money lender's chains. Invest in yourself and your own list of titles. Publish both traditionally and independently. Go Hybrid. It's the only path forward in the 21st century.



Monday, September 16, 2019

Proliferation, Profit, and Pulling Legs

This dude writes a lot

Or said simply, the more words I write, the more I get paid. I guess there's probably a mathematical equation that can be construed from this concept, but you don't need math to grasp the idea. Even when I write free words, like I do here on the Vox, I somehow make money from it, either by hooking a new reader, or waking up a former reader who hasn't read me in a while and wants to re-explore my back list along with my new offerings, or finally, by someone clicking on one of the advertised thrillers.

One thing I that struck home with me this past weekend signing books side by side my colleagues at the Albany Book Fair, was how shocked they were when I revealed how many books and novellas I have in print (about 45-50...I've lost precise count). They were even more shocked when I told them I'd have a new product being produced every month by either my own imprint or a traditional imprint for the next two years (I blogged recently that I was thinking of slowing this down, but it turned out to be BS. Sorry). I got the feeling they felt like their leg was being pulled.

If you wish to make a living in this industry you produce high quality books in as short a time as possible. You get the product to market as quickly and efficiently as possible without skimping on excellence. I signed on with a new publisher for a nice advance three months ago. By the time the novel is published in late 2020, I will have produced 15 new novels or novellas. That's the power proliferation. And that's what leads to expanded readership and ultimately, significant profit.


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: