Videos, Signings, and More…

Just a couple of items to catch you up on…

1. This Friday night, October 18th, 2013 at 6:30pm, I will be having my “official” launch party for THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL at Park Street Books in Medfield, MA. The store is located right on route 109, 504 Main Street. It’s an awesome place, filled with amazing books – including mine. The event will probably last about two hours and I’m hoping to see a ton of people there. Please join me if you can!

2. Yesterday saw the debut of not one, but two different videos. The first is a quick promo I did for the above-mentioned signing.

The second is the book trailer for THE UNDEAD HORDES. Check that out here:

3. My publisher sent me about a zillion bookmarks and post cards for THE UNDEAD HORDES events I have coming up. I don’t expect that I’ll be using them all. I’m trying to figure out how to get some out to my awesome fans who aren’t local. More news on that when I have it.

bookmarks and postcards

4. Finally, this past weekend, we took some family photos over at Rexhame Beach in Marshfield, MA. Here are two that I’ll be using for promotional purposes. (Can you tell it was a bit windy?)

Jon F. Merz headshot1Jon F. Merz headshot2

Why Reviews Matter

Valuable intelligence is often disguised as a throwaway bone at the tail end of a conversation. If you’re not attuned to being able to objectively assess scraps of information, the human mind has a tendency to disregard much of what it hears and sees. This is a byproduct of the media overload we experience on a daily basis – we’re immersed in so much noise, that sifting through for the good stuff often demands more energy and effort than we want to commit.

One of the things I learned recently was this past weekend during a conversation about publishing. The two people involved are industry veterans who know this stuff inside and out, so because it was so matter-of-fact, they didn’t attach too much importance to it. In other words, they didn’t turn to me and say, “Hey Jon, do you know this? Because you should definitely know it.” Instead, it was a throwaway line that I would have probably missed but for years of training and great teachers along the way (Tom…Mark….etc.) who taught me how to absorb and later examine what I’ve witnessed in order to determine the value of such things.

Reviews, in the publishing industry, are fairly standard fare. New books come out and the ARCs (advance reader/review copies) circulate among trades to garner reviews which are then used on covers to entice readers into buying copies. Sometimes, those reviews are great, sometimes they’re mediocre, and sometimes (like in my case with Publisher’s Weekly savaging my latest novel THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL) they are terrible. Reviews can also be used to drum up interest in subrights, foreign translations, etc. Typical practice when a review comes in is judicious editing to extract cool lines that make the book sound better.

For example, if the review says something like this: “Derek Twinklemeister’s latest missive shows that while he understands the mechanics of writing a sentence, the natural gift of storytelling still eludes him. While the prose is tight, the characters are wooden. There are brief glimpses of skill with regards to the pacing, but otherwise, the novel careens ahead and ends in a boring fashion.”

You can bet that it will look more like this on the cover or back of a book: “Derek Twinklemeister’s latest is natural, tight, and careens ahead with incredible pacing.”

But reviews DO matter. And they matter quite a bit on Amazon.com. Apparently, the good folks who determine which titles get featured for the Kindle routinely examine book reviews written on the site and make judgments based on those reviews as to whether they should promote them or not. And promotion in this case – unlike what many of the reviews in the trades can do – actually translates into sales. LOTS of sales.

Amazon, after all, has the email addresses of millions upon millions of people. They can reach out and turn a flagging book into a bestseller. Almost instantly. Nowhere else in the book business is this actually possible, unless you happen to buy your way on to the New York Times bestseller list.

Which brings me to my point of this post: reviews on Amazon. Currently, THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL has 5 reviews for the paperback and 6 for the Kindle version. That’s not much. Not much at all, given that the book has been out for over a month now. So I’m asking you to take a moment and head over, write a review (it doesn’t have to be long) and post it for both the paperback and the Kindle version, if possible. If you’re visiting this site from another country, please leave the review on your country’s Amazon site instead. My goal is to get a lot more reviews of THE UNDEAD HORDES so more people find out about it, so the good folks at Amazon take notice, and maybe throw some promotion behind it.

So many things are out of a writer’s hands when a book comes out, but this – asking you to write a review – is something I can somewhat control. I hope you’ll do so – especially if you enjoyed the book. And you haven’t bought the book yet – GASP! – feel free to pick it up!

Many thanks!

Zombie Walk Recap

So last Friday, I took off for Asbury park, New Jersey to attend the Zombie Walk – a gathering of zombie enthusiasts from all over as they attempted to break the Guiness World Record for most zombies participating in a walk. Baen Books, my publisher of THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL, brought me down there on their dime to be the featured author at the event.

I shot down on the Acela to NYC and then switched trains, getting into New Jersey shortly before 5pm. My agent, Joe Monti, met me at the train station and we drove over to the shore together, catching up on business and the like. Joe’s an awesome guy and he’s always been very supportive of my work.

Jim Minz, my editor over at Baen, met us at the hotel and got me checked in. After a quick change and freshening up, we headed out to dinner for some Cuban food and live Calypso music. We had an awesome meal, and Baen’s Sales & Marketing rep Corinda met us at the restaurant. Great conversation was had and by the time dinner was over, I was ready to crash. Jim was suffering from a cold all weekend, so he was all for calling it quits as well – especially since we had an early day on Saturday.

Saturday morning we met downstairs and headed out to breakfast. Frank’s Diner was recommended by the front desk and it didn’t disappoint. Huge piles of great food served cheap. (I love me a good greasy spoon!) I had my first donut in years and man, it was delicious.

After breakfast, we headed back to the Stone Pony and started setting up the booth. The day was gray and cloudy and humid. I hadn’t brought any shorts with me, figuring that it would be cooler on the water. As the sun broke through the haze, it got much, much warmer. But by that point, we had thousands of zombies filing past our booth and the fun didn’t stop.

Jim, Corinda, and I manned the booth all day long and we got hundreds of dollars in donations for the Wounded Warrior Project in exchange for signed copies of THE UNDEAD HORDES. Felt great moving so many books, but also knowing that proceeds were going to a great cause. At one point, I took the hand cart Jim had brought along over to the boardwalk and moved hundreds of copies of the book after basically being mobbed by zombies. It was pretty awesome. Young kids and adults alike seemed to be really excited about the book and the event itself.

Exhausted, Jim and I closed the booth shortly before 6pm, headed back to the hotel and crashed for a bit before meeting back downstairs in the lobby for dinner. We enjoyed a good meal, talked about a huge variety of topics – family, politics, publishing, books, and much more. Definitely awesome getting to talk with him so much. Jim’s a great guy and I’m happy he digs my writing.

Sunday we headed over to Princeton to meet back up with Joe and his family for brunch. It was fantastic getting to meet his family for the first time and brunch was spectacular. Jim and I debriefed him on how Saturday went and then we took a stroll around Princeton before Jim drove me into the train station at Trenton for my journey home.

The train was delayed and I ended up getting home an hour later than expected, but after such an amazing weekend, it was hard to be disappointed with Amtrak. A lot of things were discussed over the course of the weekend – one of which is the fact that we will be doing more books in the Shadow Warrior Saga. On the way down, I sketched out details for books 4, 5, and 6, and once book 2 is in the production pipeline, Jim and I will try to finalize that deal (provided sales are strong for the first book.)

With that said, if you haven’t grabbed a copy of THE UNDEAD HORDES already, you really should do so now. And if you have a copy, have read it and enjoyed it, please PLEASE head over to Amazon and write up a review for me. I found out this weekend that reviews on Amazon factor critically into which books Amazon promotes. I could use some Amazonian promotion behind THE UNDEAD HORDES right now, so please get a review posted on the main site and any international sites you might have access to. THANK YOU!

Grab a print copy of THE UNDEAD HORDES by going here.
You can also get a copy for the Kindle here.
And if you have a Nook, you can get a copy here.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to get caught up on all the Lawson Vampire adventures. THE CRUCIBLE hits before the holidays!

Updates from Author Jon F. Merz

Just a quick round-up of things going on in the week ahead:

  1. Next Saturday, October 5th, I will be appearing at the Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, New Jersey. From 10am until whenever, I will be at the Baen Books booth in the parking lot of the Stone Pony. Come on by and say hello. Grab a picture and hang out. More info on the event can be found here.
  2. Baryon Online has a new review of THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL up as of this morning. Barry Hunter, who runs the mag, has been a supporter of my work for a while and I’m pleased to see he enjoyed my latest. Thanks Barry!
  3. I don’t write a lot of horror novels, despite having written a lot of horror short stories when I was starting out as a writer. VICARIOUS is my one “legit” horror novel (although PREY could be called SF horror, I suppose) that I had a blast writing. Every once in a while, though, I get that urge to write something scary. I’ve had an idea percolating for some time now. This morning I started writing chapter one. Given what else is on my plate and commitments for other writing projects, it will probably be about a year before it sees the light of day, but I am looking forward to working on it when time permits. It’s definitely going to be a guilty pleasure, but oh so fun…especially since I’m setting the book in the town I live in.
  4. Last week, I asked my fans and friends to push sales of my latest novel THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL and in exchange, I sent out a 3-chapter excerpt from the forthcoming new Lawson Vampire novel, THE CRUCIBLE. If you missed it, you can check it out here, unedited.
  5. October will see the release of a new installment in my feudal Japan zombie series, ZOMBIE RYU. This has been a long time coming, so make sure you’ve got episode one and episode two already!

Don’t forget, you can grab a print copy of THE UNDEAD HORDES by going here.
You can also get a copy for the Kindle here.
And if you have a Nook, you can get a copy here.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to get caught up on all the Lawson Vampire adventures. THE CRUCIBLE hits before the holidays!

Promotional Memes for THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL by Jon F. Merz

Below, you’ll find some promotional memes for the release of THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL. Feel free to download them and share them around all over the Internet. Visual funny cues like this are a great way to promote the book and I hope you’ll enjoy spreading the word about my latest release. Many thanks!

promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz
promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz
promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz
promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz
promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz
promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz
promotional meme for the undead hordes of kan-gul by jon f. merz

2012/2013 Publication Schedule (partial)

By Jon F. Merz

Since we’re heading into the end of the year, I thought I’d draw up a list of coming attractions of SOME of the stuff I’ll be publishing soon. So here ya go!

DECEMBER 2012

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 3
  • Untitled Lawson Christmas Story

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013

  • THE CRUCIBLE: A Lawson Vampire Novel
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 4

MARCH 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 5

APRIL 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 6

MAY 2013

  • THE NINJA APPRENTICE: The Tsuba of Kotogawa (book 2)
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 7

JUNE/JULY 2013

  • Lawson Novella
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 8

AUGUST 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 9

SEPTEMBER 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 10

OCTOBER 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 11

NOVEMBER 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 12 (season finale)

ALSO IN FALL 2013

SHADOW WARRIOR: Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul (this is book 1 in my new fantasy series from Baen Books)

There’s more than this, but this is enough to make my head explode (in a good way!) I hope you’re as excited as I am! And by the way, my awesome offer still stands for those of you who want to give my ebooks as gifts this holiday season. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of it since you get something as well. And please share this with your friends and family. There’s nothing like the gift of some adrenalized mayhem courtesy of your crazy author pal to make the holidays into a thing of beauty!

Coming Soon…

With March drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good time to update you all on what will be coming out for the rest of the year, what I’m working on, and assorted tidbits like that. So here goes…

Current Works-in-Progress

  1. Mission: Malta – this special novella for newsletter subscribers is running each month, but I’m going to be finishing it shortly and putting it out for sale so those fans who want to read ahead can do so. It will still be free to newsletter subscribers, but if the chapter-per-month thing is too slow, you’ll be able to grab it ahead of time.
  2. CODENAME: Belladonna – Talya’s first spin-off novel from the Lawson series. Hoping to have this finished sooner than you think ;)
  3. Shadow Warrior: The Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul – this is the first book in the alternative Earth sword & sorcery series I’m writing for Baen Books. The first book is due to my editor by June for a Spring 2013 debut in bookstores everywhere.
  4. The Next Lawson Novel – yep, it’s in the works. And no, I’m not revealing the title yet because I want to surprise all of you. Because, y’know, I’m a devious tease…
  5. Lawson: Ten Year Retrospective – a special ebook of the past ten years of Lawson Awesome.
  6. YA Series Proposal – Lots of research going into this, so stay tuned.
  7. Adult Thriller Series Proposal – no supernatural craziness in this one. Just straight up violence, mayhem, and assorted chaos.

With that list in mind, be on the look out for new releases from me around the following months:

May 2012
July 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013

And maybe one or two extra surprises…I know, a lot of teasing here, but good things are definitely ahead. So stay tuned and alert to my Facebook Fan Page for all the latest. And be sure you sign up for my FREE newsletter to get even more tidbits.

3-Book Deal with Baen Books

From Publishers Marketplace:  “Jon F. Merz’s THE SHADOW WARRIOR: The Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul, which imagines a trained assassin in a world where rival factions and dark sorcery are churning a land which is on the cusp of invasion, and the assassins may hold the keys to power, for both sides; SLAVERS OF THE SILK ROAD and THE TEMPLE OF DEMONS, to Jim Minz at Baen Books, in a nice deal, for publication in Spring 2013, by Joe Monti at Barry Goldblatt Literary (World English).”

So that’s one of the big things coming down the road: my first foray into Fantasy. For those who have been following along closely, the SHADOW WARRIOR series is based on my currently on-sale ebook novella NINJA, with the same character Ran taking center stage as a newly-minted operative for an intelligence organization. Additionally, the first book will feature zombies – or rather, my take on them. So for those of you who love all things zombie, you’ll have some fun for sure. The books will be a mix of martial arts, sorcery, brash heroes and heroines, and the political landscape of a world about to be embroiled in the chaos of invasion from an unknown power.

In other words, nonstop crazy fun.

To say I’m excited about writing this trilogy is a vast understatement. Fantasy was the first genre I ever read seriously in and to be able to paint on such a broad canvas is pretty thrilling. Equally exciting is that I get to work with Jim Minz, one of the foremost editors in the genre – and I fully expect that I will learn a tremendous amount from him, which will only help improve my writing even more.

I’ll be posting more news as I receive it. Jim and I are slated to schedule a meeting in November sometime so we can flesh out the series a bit more. And then, of course, there will be the cover art – oh, man I can’t wait to see that!

30,000 EBooks

Today marks a nice milestone: since February of this year, I’ve sold 30,000 ebooks. When I started putting up my backlist in late-January, I had no idea what I was in for. Would everything flop? Would it take off?

The results are pretty damned awesome, actually. 30,000 is a great number (although I’m obviously shooting for 100,000 by the end of the year) and knowing that I’m finding an audience for my work is truly a blessing. The majority of my sales are for my Lawson Vampire series and that’s good news as well. Given everything (hint, hint) that will be happening soon around THAT, it’s good to know that more people are discovering Lawson every month. In fact, out of the 30,000 ebooks I’ve sold, I’d say roughly 25,000 are sales of my various Lawson adventures, more on the Kindle than on the Nook, but strong everywhere. Lawson has proven his worth as an enduring and endearing character. He’s not for everyone (only the sexy people, lol) but those who know him seem to enjoy him.

Even with the summer slowdown, my ebooks have continued to sell consistently across the board. I’ve got new releases coming soon, plus plans to offer pretty much everything in print. And audio as well. Big things are afoot for the Autumn months. But you’ll hear more on that in the coming weeks. Plus, I hope to finally be able to reveal who my publisher is for my new Fantasy series. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’d like to add one final thought: thank you. Thank you for being a supporter of my work. Thank you for talking it up to friends and family. Thank you for hopping on-board the adventures I create and allowing me to whisk you away into the crazy chaos that is my fiction. With your permission, I’ll gladly be doing it for many, many years to come.

Have a great day and thanks again!

3-Book Deal

So, last Friday on my way to Canobie Lake Park, I got a nice call from my agent who told me that we had a nice offer from a new publisher for a 3-book deal. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited. I’ve wanted to work with this particular editor for a while and I’m really looking forward to his tutelage and being able to expand my writing skills. This is a new genre for me: specifically, sword & sorcery, but I’ve always wanted to do a series in it since I grew up devouring Fantasy series as fast as I could read ‘em.

I can’t reveal the publishing house just yet, nor can I tell you the editor’s name, or the actual working title of any of the books (although I will be able to hopefully soon), but let’s just say it’s good to know that I’ll have three new books coming out into bookstores – and I’ll be reaching a whole new audience for my writing.

I’ll still be doing my indie publishing of ebooks and the various projects I have going on there will continue. But I don’t like putting all of my eggs into one basket; I like knowing that I’ll have print books out in stores, ebooks for the ever-growing global community that loves them, and TV/film projects as well. I’m an entertainer – so I’ll make sure my work gets out into whatever format it needs to be in in order to make sure it reaches its audience.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read my ebook NINJA yet, which is available for the Kindle, perhaps you should.

Just sayin’

>wink< >wink< :)