So, at midnight on Christmas Day, as the 24th ticked over into the 25th, I launched the annual Christmas freebie that I write for friends and fans. This year's entry was FROSTY THE HITMAN, a 5600-word story. Along with the story itself, the ebook contained 3-chapter excerpts from both THE FIXER and THE INVOKER, an author's note from me, an invitation to subscribe to my free newsletter, and a list of all the current Lawson adventures as of December 2011. I put the blog post out and wondered what sort of reception it would get, how many people would download it, etc. etc. My hope was that I'd get about 200 downloads of the story, especially considering it was Christmas Day and a lot of people would be otherwise preoccupied. In addition to my blog post, I set up automatic tweets announcing it on Twitter. I also asked for a small group of my fans to Tweet, Retweet, and post things on their blogs and Facebook to help spread the word. Then I sat back and waited to see what would happen. Today's the 29th and as of this writing, here are the results: Total number of downloads: 1836 Kindle file downloads: 966 Epub file downloads: 444 .pdf file downloads: 426 Christmas Day and yesterday saw the most traffic. Yesterday is not surprising since I sent out a bulletin to my newsletter subscribers about Frosty and they certainly responded. Plus, I got a mention over on Books On The Knob about Frosty being free. That exposure definitely helped! In addition, I picked up roughly 50 new subscribers to my newsletter. My Christmas Day post also received a large number of Facebook "likes," which then show up in the person's timeline (thereby potentially leading more people to the post). It was also +1'd out on Google+ by twelve more people, earning me some penetration on that social media website as well. As far as tweets and retweets go, the bit.ly tracking showed that 1,159 people clicked the link, 25 people shared it on Facebook, and it was retweeted well over 100 times. Then there were the comments and tweets from people who hadn't read Lawson yet. Of the nearly 2,000 downloads, I'm hoping that at least 25% are new to the series. 500 potential new readers is a pretty great gift to get for giving something back to my already-awesome fans. So, to everyone who helped spread the word about Frosty, my sincere thanks. This year's freebie gift was an fantastic success and I couldn't have done it without you all helping and downloading away. As 2012 comes roaring in, Lawson is going to have an even bigger year than 2011. Tons of new adventures, big movement ahead on the TV production, and more news besides. Keep talking Lawson up to your friends and family - we're going to be doing some amazing things together and I want everyone of you along for the fun-filled ride! Happy New Year & thanks! -Jon
Merry Christmas everyone! As I like to do each year, my gift to my fans and friends - and especially NEW readers - is to write a free Lawson short story that you can all enjoy absolutely FREE. Frosty The Hitman is this year's selection and I hope you all enjoy it. It's the day before Christmas and Lawson's spending it with his least favorite person in the world: Ava, a wealthy Council member who has always hated him. But Ava's in trouble and Lawson is the only person standing between her and a deadly assassin named Frost. To get the story, simply click on the download links below (depending on your e-reader) and you'll have the story immediately! I hope you'll share this with your friends and family - help spread the word about the fun that is the entire Lawson series! And once again, Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all of you out there. Have a wonderful and safe celebration! And thanks for being such wonderfully awesome fans and friends. Download for Kindle | Download for Nook | Download .pdf file
Interestingly enough this year, a number of fans have written to ask what I've got on my Christmas list - that is, the things I'm hoping to receive. It's a pretty short list, so I thought I'd share it with you. Pay attention to number 7. The fat guy with the reindeer fetish and red suit always seems to forget that one. Without further ado, I hereby present things I'd like to get for Christmas 2011...
- More reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com from fans of my writing. The more, the better!
- More interaction on my Facebook Fan Page. Got a question? Ask away!
- More fans telling their friends and family about my work. Expand my audience, people. Become a prophet!
- More interviews on blogs, podcasts, radio, and TV. Keeping my name and work in front of people is critical!
- More subscribers to my free newsletter. I love my subscribers!
- More ebook sales, more print book sales, more deals!
- Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tia Carrere, and Kelly Hu. Not necessarily in that order. And yes, all three.
A lot of people have a LOT to say about Amazon.com lately. Most of the pitchfork and torch burning attitude seems to be coming from brick-and-mortar booksellers, publishers, and authors who still put their loyalty behind traditional publishing models. Amazon has made waves in recent weeks by encouraging people to go to bookstores and price check merchandise (thereby potentially leaving said store and ordering online at Amazon if they offer a better price) as well as its new Kindle Select program, which asks for a 90-day exclusivity for those authors that wish to opt-in. Judging by the war cries on my Facebook news feed, as well as the infuriated tweets I've seen, one would be inclined to think that Amazon is some evil corporation hell-bent on gaining a monopoly. Maybe. Before I put my own perspective on display, I should mention that I love bookstores. And given my choice, I'll shop at one rather than go online. In my town, we have an amazing indie store called Park Street Books and the owner, Jim, is one of the greatest dudes I've met in the bookselling business. Jim's got over 500,000 books in-stock. New, used, toys, games, and more. My family drops a good amount of coin in his place. I'm a firm supporter of indie bookstores and always have been. That said, I personally feel that the hostility toward Amazon is misplaced. Sure, Amazon engages in business practices that I don't always agree with. And certainly, its agenda might well be suspect. But consider the real cause of the problem: traditional publishing. This is the elephant standing in the room that people would rather pretend isn't there. From my perspective as an author who has published with a number of the largest houses, the problem isn't Amazon at all - it's outdated, woefully archaic business practices employed by traditional "Big 6" publishers who desperately cling to obsolescence like it's a life preserver. Consider this: if traditional publishers offered a better e-royalty rate instead of the laughable 25% that is currently the norm, would we be seeing the mass defection for indie publishing that we currently see? Or would the numbers be far less as more authors strove to get a traditional deal rather than strike out on their own? Further, if traditional publishers changed their accounting systems to more frequent reporting rather than twice a year, it would go a long way toward proving they were serious about adapting instead of clinging to the "old ways." Or how about the notion that an editor is hardly that any longer? Editors pitch/beg for the projects they like and then watch as accountants and higher-ups make final decisions. Usually, it's a pitched battle to get a project acquired and then - and only then - the advance is routinely about $5,000. That's five thousand bucks, people. Think you can quit the day job on that? It's laughable. In fact, despite the logic that dictates that without writers, your business has no product, publishers have routinely and methodically tried to carve more and more away from their very reason for existence. Is it any wonder why there are so many authors opting for the indie route? But instead of viewing these problems logically, the biggest rally cries for Jeff Bezos' head on a pike come from the publishers and booksellers who refuse to admit the real problem is with traditional publishing. Last week, the Hachette Book Group - arguably one of the largest - had an internal memo leaked that argued the company's own relevancy in the 21st century world, but came across more like some whiny loser in a corner begging for someone to play with them. Corporatese lines like "we nurture authors" and related crap plagued the memo from start to finish and only underscored the point that publishers have failed to change the way they do business. And instead of admitting their mistakes, making corrections, and moving on as a viable 21st century corporation, they've done the easier thing: blame Amazon. As I said earlier, I don't agree with everything Amazon does. But neither do I fault it for doing what it does. Think about it: if you owned a corporation like Amazon and saw the massive mistakes your competition was making, wouldn't you in all likelihood take some or all of the same steps Amazon has taken? You want a larger market share, you want less competition, you want to be able to offer your customers more exclusive products. Of course you do: you're a publicly traded company and you owe it to your shareholders to grow your business as profitably as you can. And if you think back and chart the various moves Amazon has made, the company has, in fact, given its competitors (be they stores or publishers) time to adapt. But traditional publishers have proven the most stubborn of the bunch. And so Amazon has simply said, "well, if you're too stupid to change, screw you guys, we'll just cut your legs out from under you." It would be easy to rally around the whole "Amazon sucks" cry. But in doing so, people inevitably miss the point that if traditional publishing could have managed to actually fix itself and its archaic business models, then Amazon wouldn't be attracting indie authors and old veteran authors like sharks on a chum line. Instead of rectifying their mistakes, traditional publishers have price-gouged consumers on ebooks through stupid pricing models (and claims that ebook costs are still high, when, in fact, they are not); they've resisted the march toward digital by failing to adopt a standard ebook file format or a standard e-reader; they've refused to adjust their royalty structure to accommodate a better share for the very people who keep them supplied with product in the first place; and many more mistakes besides these. If I'm fighting someone and they make the mistake of dropping their guard, you can bet your ass I'm going to jab them in the face and then follow up hard until they're down and gone. If I see an opening, I'll exploit it for everything I can. It's easy to imagine a world where companies act ethically, but that's not the reality we live in. Amazon has simply take advantage of the ego-burdened idiocy rampant in traditional publishing and exploited it. We might not like how it does business, but at the end of the day, hostility toward Amazon might be better directed at where the real problems are, rather than at the opportunistic company that has capitalized on those problems.
I have to admit, this one caught me by surprise... (Go ahead, laugh at the irony. I'll wait, lol...) Today, December 5th, is International Day of the Ninja. Seriously. I'm not quite sure what exactly is supposed to happen today, but perhaps it's as simple as creeping up behind your co-workers and scaring the snickers out of them. Or maybe you're supposed to create your own global intelligence network. Not really sure. In any event, I'll take today and give a huge load of thanks to my teacher Mark Davis at the Boston Martial Arts Center for passing down his knowledge, experience, and wisdom to me and the other students at his school. I've learned so much from Mark, it's impossible to say thank you enough times. The techniques, strategy, and lessons he's taught me have literally saved my life numerous times. And I don't say such things lightly. It's because of his earnest dedication to the art of Ninjutsu and his humble attitude that enables him to continually have such a successful school. Back in Japan in 2003, I took my 5th degree black belt test. If not for Mark and his teaching, I'd never have passed it successfully. And the success I've enjoyed in learning Ninjutsu has enabled me to enjoy success in all other areas of my life. So, being that today is International Day of the Ninja, I'd like to humbly suggest that people in the New England area give Mark a call at (617) 789-5524 and schedule a time to come check out a great, fun class at his school. The dojo is filled with some of the friendliest, most successful people I've ever known, and you can't help but have an absolute blast training. Also, you should buy some of my ebooks because I mix in some pretty cool advanced Ninjutsu concepts in my worlds of fiction. How many authors do you know who have actually studied authentic ninjutsu for over twenty years? Support the Ninja Author! 🙂 ZOMBIE RYU which mixes NINJA and ZOMBIES! Check it out!