Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guest Post by Jeff Strand

My guest today is Jeff Strand. You may know know him as my co-author of Suckers and Draculas.

By coincidence, that's also how I may know him.

Anyway, Jeff has been at this ebook game longer than anyone. But we really can't give him props for that, because in 11 years of ebook sales he's made exactly $73.41.

That's $6.67 a year, before taxes. I'm posting this because a lot of my blog readers like hard numbers.

But now Jeff has finally decided to join the rest of us in 2011 and publish on Kindle, and...

Well, I'll let Jeff tell you.

The Long, Strange Trip of “The Sinister Mr. Corpse”
by Jeff Strand

My introduction to the world of e-books was back in 1999, when author Pauline Baird Jones encouraged me to send one of my novels to an electronic publisher. My initial reaction was “Sure, or, in a similar vein, I could print out my manuscript, sprinkle a little Fresh Step on top, and let my cat defile it.” But after a little more research, I decided to give it a try, and in 2000 three of my unpublished novels came out as e-books. (Out of Whack was also supposed to come out that year, but its route to publication was hampered by the minor detail that the publisher sucked.)

Back then, you were an “e-book author” before everything else. Stephen King had given the format a bit of legitimacy with Riding the Bullet, but 99.999% of the e-book authors were not Mr. King. I could’ve played a drinking game with the number of times I heard “Let me know when it’s a real book.” Despite my insistence that my publishers provided cover art, formatting, editing, etc. there was still a very real perception that E-Book = Self-Published = Crap.

But, hey, I threw myself into e-books full force. I spent three years on the board of EPIC, an e-book authors’ organization, two of them as President, and emceed the EPPIES awards banquet (in a tux!) nine times. I continue to emcee awards banquets (in June, I’ll emcee the Bram Stoker Awards for the third time) but I will never, ever, ever, ever be on the board of a writers’ organization ever, ever, ever again. That way lies a descent into the gaping jaws of madness.

In 2003, my novel Mandibles appeared in actual print, and was soon followed by a few others. It was print-on-demand and thus didn’t really appear in bookstore shelves, but the “When are you going to publish a real book?” question had been answered. I still liked e-books, but I was no longer required to be a passionate proponent of them to market my work. Sweeeeeet.

Though the hardcover edition of my 2006 novel Pressure was available as a $25 trade hardcover and did get bookstore distribution, almost all of my work after that was part of the limited edition market. Unlike e-books in 2000, hardcover limited edition horror novels had a built-in market, and books like The Sinister Mr. Corpse, Disposal, The Haunted Forest Tour, and Gleefully Macabre Tales all started out exclusively available in $35-$50 editions. It was fantastic, because these books looked incredible, but in terms of reaching actual readers…well, your potential audience is not huge when you’re offering 250 copies of a $50 book. Once again, the format overshadowed the content.

And then, in 2009, it finally happened. My first mass market release. The paperback edition of Pressure was in bookstores everywhere for $7.99. My sister picked one up at a military base in Korea and my dad got one in a grocery store in Alaska. There was nothing to block anybody from reading this book. It was cheap and easily available. If you wanted a copy of Pressure, by golly you could get a copy of Pressure. Dweller followed. Suddenly, it was ALL about the content. There was nothing to explain except that it was about being best buddies with a serial killer.

I did a ton of book signings for it, and what question kept coming up? “Is it available for my e-book reader?” Being polite, I did not shout “Are you freakin’ KIDDING ME??? It’s a $7.99 paperback on the table right in front of you!”

In 2010, I looped around right back to where I’d started, with Draculas, a novel written exclusively for the e-book market. It wasn’t quite where I started, because this time I was piggybacking off JA Konrath, F. Paul Wilson, and Blake Crouch, but still, the world of publishing had changed to the point where it actually made sense to not even try to get a print contract!

In 2011, I looped around again with The Sinister Mr. Corpse…except that this time, there wasn’t even the cry of “It’s not self-published! My publisher is like any other publisher except for the format! I’m a real author, dammit!” The Sinister Mr. Corpse is a self-published e-book. Eleven years later, after clawing my way up through the ranks, getting my work in a format that everybody in the world would agree was a “real” book…I decided that the best home for my zombie comedy novel was to upload it to Amazon and Smashwords myself.

I can’t deny that there’s an element of frustration in watching the market change just as I broke through, but at the same time, it’s incredibly exciting. I can control the price. Upload it whenever I think it’s ready. Write whatever the hell I want. I have to admit that I’m nowhere near ready to abandon the pursuit of traditional publishing, and my next novel is going to my agent and not Amazon…but still, the freedom, and the possibilities the whole Kindle revolution offers are jaw-dropping.

Unless The Sinister Mr. Corpse tanks. Then I’ll be completely bitter.


Jeff Strand's 10 Reasons Why You MUST Buy The Sinister Mr. Corpse

1. I Was E-Published Before It Was Cool

Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) was published as an e-book in May 2000. Back then, if you were e-published, everybody thought you SUCKED! You were a LOSER! I suffered for the technology! There was none of this “Oooooh, how I love my Kindle!” sentiment. I practically got beat up in playgrounds over this.

2. It’s Dirt-Cheap

It’s $2.99. Have you ever heard of an e-book only costing $2.99? Well, yeah, lots of them are these days, but still…$2.99 for a novel? That’s madness! Honestly, when you finish reading The Sinister Mr. Corpse you’re going to feel like a criminal for having gotten it so cheap. And there’s no better feeling than the adrenaline rush of committing a crime, even if it’s a white-collar crime like this one.

3. You Don’t Need A Kindle (Though They’re Awesome)

The Smashwords edition is available in a bunch of different formats, covering pretty much any e-way you’d want to read it, and you can re-download it if you change your mind. The Amazon edition does not have DRM (digital rights management) enabled, so if you use Blake Crouch’s handy guide you can convert it to whatever format you want.

You can also download the Kindle app (for free!) for your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, ColecoVision, or whatever and read the Kindle editions that way. The download links are on the right side of the Amazon ordering page.

This also means that you could copy and share it pretty easily, but if you do, I’ll hunt your e-pirating ass to the ends of the earth.

4. It’s Suitable For Zombie Fans and Zombie Haters

Love zombies? It’s a zombie novel! Hate zombies? It’s a satire! It’s the ultimate in have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too storytelling. If you’re humorless and grim, it’s possible that you won’t enjoy this book all that much, but that’s what my novel Pressure is for.

5. People Kinda Like It

“For pure, unadulterated, foul-mouthed, off-the-wall Strand at his humor-horror sarcastic best there is nothing that comes close to The Sinister Mr. Corpse.” — Savannah Now

“Those expecting the typical apocalyptic world full of flesh eating corpses will quickly realize they are in for a different treat altogether. For those familiar with Mr. Strand’s popular Andrew Mayhem novels, take the witty banter, sharp one liners and laugh out loud moments, and then turn it up a notch or three.” — Horror World

“With loads of relentless action and characters that make reading seem more like eavesdropping, The Sinister Mr. Corpse will have even the biggest stiffs among us laughing all the way to the grave.” — Rue Morgue

I liked it, but Strand is a tool. J.A. Konrath, millionaire author

6. If You Don’t Buy A Copy, In Three Days You Will Be Walking Down The Sidewalk, Lost In Thought, And An Ice Cream Truck’s Brakes Will Fail, Causing The Vehicle To Careen Off The Road And Splatter You Like A Melted Cherry Popsicle.

Sorry, but it’s true.

7. If You Do Buy A Copy, In Three Days You’ll See An Adorable Orphan Walking Down The Sidewalk, Lost In Thought, And Because Your Senses Are Hyper-Aware From Having Read The Sinister Mr. Corpse, You’ll Save Him From An Out-Of-Control Ice Cream Truck, And Get A Reward That’s Way More Than The $2.99 You Spent.

Awesome, huh?

8. It’s Not Another Frickin’ Mash-Up

I’m not suggesting that Pride & Prejudice & Zombies was not the single most brilliant idea of the 21st century, because it totally was, but maybe you’re getting sick of authors saying “In my mash-up novel, you can’t tell which parts were written by me and which parts were written by F. Scott Fitzgerald!” You can buy The Sinister Mr. Corpse with confidence, knowing that none of it came from a public domain work by an author whose skills are far superior to my own.

9. I’m Saying “Please.”

Please?

10. Stick It To The Man!

The Sinister Mr. Corpse is my first venture into the world of self-publishing, and every time you buy a copy, some man is getting stuck! Fight the power! Support the little guy by heading over to Amazon right now and…okay, yeah, I’ll admit that Amazon fits the criteria of The Man, so you’re actually sort of supporting The Man instead of sticking it to him, but, still, they’ve created a world where I can self-publish a novel for the Kindle without people saying “You suck!!!” (See Item #1 above.)

Click HERE to get it from Amazon.

Click HERE to get it from Smashwords.

Joe sez: If you want to win some Jeff Strand books, head over to All Purpose Monkey's Blog and follow the instructions.

I'm proud that Jeff is finally releasing his work on Kindle, after I've been screaming at him for two years to do so. Strand, like Barry Eisler, is proof that you can lead a mentally challenged horse to water and make them drink, but it takes twenty-four months of nagging.

Also, for those who are still reading, here's my review of The Sinister Mr. Corpse:

Lately I've been accused of "shilling" reviews for my writing friends.

That's complete and total absurdness.

I do write a lot of 5 star reviews for friends of mine because I truly love their work, and it deserves five stars.

I never write a 5 star review simply because I like someone. Especially in this case.

While The Sinister Mr. Corpse is a laugh aloud horrific romp and well worth the low price, I'm not giving it 5 stars because I like the author, Jeff Strand.

In fact, Jeff is a jerk. A jerk, a ninny, a butthead, and a lowlife.

Now, Strand may get on his high horse (as per usual) and claim that I'm calling him a poopypants because I'm envious of his writing ability.

Nothing could be more untrue.

While Strand is, admittedly, an excellent writer, I'm not the type to be envious of anyone.

But I do feel a need to warn everyone who may come into contact with Jeff Strand to arm yourself with some pepper spray if he gets feisty, and a portable video game if he starts talking, because hooo boy that guy can TALK. And he never says anything the slightest bit interesting. He's lucky he's gets paid for being a writer, not for giving speeches, because he's so bland he could bore monks. His delivery is slower than a snail surfing on molasses. He's so full of hot air that HE is the true cause Global Warming.

You get the idea.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

The Sinister Mr. Corpse: 5 Stars

Jeff Strand: 1 Star, because these isn't an option for zero

Trust me. I'm an author.