Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stop The Negativity. It Ain't Over Till It's Over

If you've ever run a race, or played a soccer match, or competed in any sport or non-athletic competition, you know that Yogi Berra was right when he said, "It ain't over till it's over."

I believe that statement wholeheartedly. I think that maintaining a finish-to-completion attitude is what has driven me to write, to publish and do everything that it takes to go from "Who the hell is that?" to best-selling author. Believing that thinking about quiting is pretty much the same as quiting.

I learned a long time ago that if you work hard, daily pursuing your dreams, you can accomplish anything and overcome the barriers that are in your way. I used to run cross country in high school and I learned then that if you quit just because you are tired, or your legs feel like rubber, or your lungs are burning, or the guy in front of you is a quarter of a mile away you CANNOT stop, you cannot quit, you cannot let up. Hard times, the exhausting moments when you feel like dropping out, are the very moments you need to push harder, if you want to win.

I won a few races back then, but it had nothing to do with natural ability. We had plenty of guys on our team with more talent than I did. I think, and I still do, that my greatest strength is my will. And I further believe that the will to improve, the will to succeed is what it takes to survive in the publishing game… and it is a game with other players with strategies and tricks up their sleeves. But you my friend, without a strong will, you might as well stop running, slump your shoulders, and watch everyone else run past you.

Not everyone thinks this way, of course. And they have every right. But the reason I'm writing this post is that I've read a few blogs lately from folks wondering if the "Indie Revolution" is over, or if the "Amazon Self-Publishing Bubble" is about to explode. I'm not going to debate if any of that is true because there is no way anyone can foresee the future. Like anything else, many will quit, or get tired, or stop writing, or get frustrated by a lack of sales. That is only natural. Just as a new group of writers will publish today, so a new group will drop out.

The talk about 99¢ books wrecking indie author's sales ranking and the drop in sales lately has got many worried. But why? Selling books is an online retail business, and all businesses have cycles and trends that go way up and way down throughout the year. Stop worrying about that stuff; it's a waste of energy.

To those who are frightened, or uncertain, or spinning their wheels trying to figure out how in the hell you are going to sell more books this month than you did last month, I'd urge you to stop worrying and keep going, keep writing, and keep improving your craft. Don't stop.

In fact, write more! 

If you feel like quiting, go ahead. I won't stop you. But if you want to keep at it there is reason to persevere. Publishing is not about immediate gratification. This is a long hard process and there are a lot of books in your future and in mine. And it may take the rest of our working years to make it worth it, or to write the one book that we must before we die. So I don't have time for could haves. And I bet you don't either.

Below is a video about one of the greatest comebacks in the recent history of sports. In this video, Tracey McGrady, who at that time was playing for the Houston Rockets and looking at a big loss against the San Antonio Spurs. But he did something amazing; he scored 13 points in the last 33 seconds of the game, all three pointers and one 4 point conversion. It was an amazing feat, but the thing that makes this clip so special is not that it was amazing, but that it was impossible. No one would have ever believed that a player could accomplish something like that… but he did and it was beautiful.

If you are down by 12 points with only 33 seconds remaining, remember this video. Don't quit.

Thanks for reading,
Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why Oh Why is WOOL So Amazing? @hughhowey

I'm reading Wool - Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey, not because it's my preferred genre, not because I've heard of the author, or because the cover caught my eye. I'm reading this book because I just so happened to notice that it had a lot of great reviews.

How many great reviews? This book has amassed 978 reviews and is holding a 4.9-star rating… let me repeat… 978 reviews with a 4.9-star rating. Even as I write that, I'm shaking my head in wonder. How can I not read this? How can I not want to know what it takes to receive such incredible marks? As a writer, I'm obligated to my readers to study this book, and I truly want to read a book like that. Like I said, I don't write science fiction, but as a writer I need to know what a guy or gal does to earn an almost perfect score.

So why is this book so amazing? That's exactly what I'm in the process of learning right now. I've read part one of five and here are my findings… observations from a writers point of view.

1. After part one, I care deeply about the husband and wife team (the primary characters so far). I know who they are, where they've been, and have had a glimpse of their past via narration flashbacks. There's nothing complicated going on. This story feels like it's told by a calm, gentle voice, much like a well-lived grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren, while all ears are glued to his every word… you just don't want to leave.

2. There isn't that much dialogue, which surprises me. The dialogue consists of short lines and almost always accompanied with action no matter how mild it may be. But still, the dialogue is simple, not overly dramatic.

3.  Hugh's not trying to impress me with an expansive vocabulary. The writing is simple, clean, and polished. I haven't come across a single stumbling block, misspelled word, or formatting glitch. I'm looking. I'm trying to be critical. I'm studying his sentence structure and paragraph length and word choice. But what I'm finding is that I'm lost in his world building, flow, and the mind of the protagonist. From what I've seen, this book is flawless.

4. Hugh is making this a difficult study. He makes writing look easy. His writing is so clean and so basic that I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why it is so good. And I guess that's what makes it excellent. When the story line is engaging, the writing melts away, the author disappears and the reader dissolves into the book. That's the magic. That's the joy in reading and exactly what I aspire to become.

That's all I can say at this point. I've dissolved and I'm not sure if I'll be able to continue studying. Congrats to Hugh Howey. Wool is excellent and I still have 4 parts to go. Click on the pic to the right to buy. ~>

Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creating Audio Books is Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Creating Audio Books at is easy peasy lemon squeezy! This is part one in my two part "Expanding Your Reach" blog series. Part two will cover Book Kiosks Coming to an Airport Near You.

[Before you start reading, try listening with the little audio gadget just under the post title.]

Part 1: Creating Audio Books

When I wrote The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe, I wanted to create a book that was authentic to my experience, transparent in my findings and genuinely helpful. That’s what publishing independence is all about, right? It’s in that spirit that I want to share the latest tool available for the indie author… free audio book creation.
Like all technologies, accessibility drives innovation and encourages success. All of us are living in a time when we can publish, promote, and get noticed on an international scale through Amazon. Well we now have that same availability to produce and publish our work in audio book format.
I'm grateful to Gerard de Marigny, author of The Watchman of Ephraim, for introducing me to Amazon’s answer to indie-audio publishing…
ACX stands for Audio book Creation Exchange, a website where writers and voice professionals can hook up to create top-notch audio books. ACX is actually a sister site of, which is owned by Amazon. It is a website where voice-over professionals (VOP’s) and writers can do business within a simple and streamlined website. The site provides everything you need to download your “script”, sign official contracts, and produce your audio book(s) on time and to your satisfaction. Once produced, ACX will upload your audio books to their online retailing partners.

At ACX, you have choices, too.

You can pay the VOP by the recorded hour and keep all of your royalties, or you can contract a 50-50 shared royalty at no cost to you. You can even record your audio book yourself if you want to. ACX has produced dozens of tutorials on YouTube, so you can learn the ropes before you get started.  
ACX offers two publishing deals: exclusive and non-exclusive. Non-exclusive simply means that once your audio book is complete, you can upload it anywhere, but you get a lower royalty. An exclusive contract means that your audio book is only available through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes but you get a higher royalty. You can find all the details about the contracts, royalties, and how it works HERE.
This site is cutting edge, fun and easy to use. But like any platform, your book has to be well written and needs a good looking cover. Voice-over professionals do not want to waste their time on poorly edited books, especially if they are working for shared royalties. So make sure your work is the best it can be before submitting.
If you are ready for Phase II of your publishing journey, check out It’s time to open the audio book floodgates. It’s time for authors to break down the walls, swords in hand and assail our next treasure chest.

Here’s how it works:
Step 1.  Go to (insert link:
Step 2.  Click on the “Get Started” button.
Step 3.  Once you open an account, go to your “My Projects” folder and start entering your book information.
Step 4. Once you have your book information posted, you either wait for a VOP to audition, or you can search for a voice professional by using AXC’s search tool. This tool will help you find the voice that best fits your book, mood and genre. Once you find the right voice, you don’t have to wait. You can email the VOP directly. Be warned, you need to use the ACX email system for all correspondence because they want to track the process of negotiations and keep everyone honest. You will have to play with the system a little to figure it out, but you can do it.

So what's my experience?
I'm glad you asked. Three weeks ago, I made all four of my books available for auditions: Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, Creepy, and The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. I contacted two authors and received several auditions by very professional VOP’s. I now have 3 audio book contracts signed, one by an award winning VOP, and three promising auditions for the fourth book. The fourth book will be signed within the week. By the end of the summer, I will have four books that were previously only available through Amazon, in audio format at the three largest audio book distributors on the planet.
So let this post serve as an invitation, a call to arms, a raising of the indie flag if you will. Indie authors are now invading audio books. 

BONUS MATERIAL: The following is a comment posted by Karen Commins, a narrator at ACX, at, where I shared this post for Laura Pepper Wu, book marketing extraordinaire.

Greetings, all! As an audiobook narrator, I want to let you know that audiobooks are VERY popular! The Audio Publishers Association sales survey shows that audiobooks are approaching a $1 billion industry.

According to the APA FAQ at “Who are the primary customers for Audiobooks? The audiobook customer is a frequent book reader who sees audiobooks as a way to “read” more while pursuing other lifestyle activities. They are well educated, have higher incomes than non-listeners, tend to be older (30+) and are attuned to book trends through reviews and bestseller lists. Children’s audiobooks are also a formidable part of the market, as many families choose them for in-car entertainment or an at-home hobby, as well as many teachers and schools using them for educational tools. When and where do they use them? The primary usage is while traveling and commuting. Other uses revolve around lifestyle activities such as exercising, relaxing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, crafting, walking the dog, etc. People whose jobs involve repetitive manual tasks also report using audiobooks at work.”

 I love ACX and have voiced 5 books that were posted there. I recently wrote a blog post to help authors decide whether to list your titles on ACX: If you decide to post your book for auditions, I encourage you to read this excellent article from my colleague Jeffrey Kafer about reasons your book isn’t receiving auditions: Finally, let me add that flexibility on your completion timeframe and prompt communication will be appreciated by the narrators on the site.

If I am voicing a book on a royalty share deal, I ask for several months to complete it so that I have availability to accept projects that pay up front. I hope these thoughts are helpful. Best wishes for your continued health, prosperity, and success!

 Cordially, Karen Commins

Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. 


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

5 Reasons Why I'm Glad My Wife is in New York

We all like to get away, don't we? I know I do.

My wife especially enjoys going to New York City. Well lucky me, she is at the NYC Blog World Conference all week long, and I am so glad. I need some time away from her because there are some very important things that I can only accomplish when she's outta here!

See ya. So long. Adios, senorita!

Now before you women type hang me out to dry, read my list. I'll tell you why I'm glad she's gone.

#1. I'm glad my wife is out of town for the week because she's traveling with her good friend and they are going to have a blast. My wife home educates our four children and we recently finished our school year. She deserves the mother-of-the-year award, but she settled on a week-long trip with a friend. So good for her, she finally gets a break. She'll have fun and I'll have the pleasure of knowing that while I'm pouring liquid plumber she's sipping on a well deserved martini.

#2. When my wife is out of town, I get a better view of what she does. I have no choice. Mom absence means a crash course in time management. I'm doing dishes, starting the oven, switching the laundry, watering the flowers, taking one of the kids here, taking another there, emptying the trash, washing one toilet and plunging the other after our kid's friends come in for a break from the heat. I barely have time for myself. But I am so glad I'm learning these lessons; it wouldn't have happened if she was here.

#3. Another reason I'm glad my wife is in New York is because I'm spending quality time with my kids. The first morning, I woke up 4 hours early to a crying daughter. Her stomach was hurting because she missed her mommy and she knew that I had to go to work that evening. We had to take a few moments and just focus on the good things, on what she was going to do next, and what she was going to do after that. It was good that I was there to help her through the stress. I finally had the chance to realize I'm not near as sensitive as I thought, and that I really only need about two hours of sleep.

#4. When my wife is away I get to cook more. Believe it or not I enjoy cooking. I hate to clean up, but I enjoy making the mess. And since my wife isn't here to kick me out of her kitchen, I get to make the hamburger patties extra thick, and the tater tots extra crispy! Of course, I get the pleasure of learning to do all of this while multi tasking and tweeting and blogging with someone constantly asking for something. But hey, I'm a dad, what could be better?

#5. The best part of sending my wife away on a mini vacation is that I am going to be so glad when she is back. I miss her, and appreciate her so much. And it's times like these that I get to enjoy doing all the things she is excellent at, which just so happens to be all the things I suck at! I'm not usually one to make predictions, but I'm feeling lucky. I have a pretty good feeling that I will be more in love with her than ever when she returns. Not sure if the feeling will be mutual, but so far, I spy a hot date night this weekend. So as long as she doesn't notice the dust bunnies everywhere, the cool-aid stain, the broken vase, and the drapes that caught on fire, I'm sure she'll feel the same way.

But what about you? Does your wife deserve a break? Of course she does! So send her to New York, or the beach, or a bed-n-breakfast. She'll love you for it, and you'll never be happier. After a few short days you'll be familiar with everything you need to know about running your home. Then, when she returns, you can sit back and delegate like a real man. See? Knowledge is power.

Come home soon and safe, sweetie.  ~ Jeff

Monday, June 4, 2012

One Way Publishers Create a Bestseller

If you have ever wondered how a new author can suddenly emerge and become an international smash, you are not alone. I meet many authors and in doing so I learn more about the publishing world all the time. 

In one conversation I had with a writer friend,  I asked how it is that a new author suddenly becomes a bestseller when no one had ever heard about him or her before? How can they release a new book and hit the New York Times, or USA Today's bestseller list so quickly? Have you ever wondered how that works? Have you ever wondered how many copies it takes to become a bestseller?

If you have ever asked yourself those questions, you may be surprised at the answer. And it's important to understand how critical the title "bestseller" really is. When that title is attached to an author, he or she receives instant credibility and can use it as a sales tool.

Note: This post is not meant to take away from the years bestselling authors spend honing their craft. This post is only meant to analyze a marketing method used by publishers so that indie authors can utilize it and

Funny thing is, it works. And here's how that happens… sometimes. Having a killer story helps a little, too.

In The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe, I teach how to use "Marketing Layering". This is the process of adding multiple layers of ads and marketing buzz within a short period of time to generate sufficient sales with the sole purpose of raising your ranking into a top 100 category and even an overall Amazon top 100 ranking. This can work when you schedule promotions across the Internet, using as many "non-static" ad spots as you can, on or near the same day.

Why? Attention creates more attention - especially with an awesome cover!

My friend revealed that this is exactly how publishers create bestsellers. They form a major national/international ad campaign that focuses on a single day or week. They do this because bestseller lists are calculated on a daily and weekly basis. They know that if the author can sell more books than most on a specific day, they will become an instant bestseller. It doesn't matter if the book sells 10,000 or as little as 3,000 copies. The sales total is relative. What matters is that it sells more than most.

The problem, however, with print sales in brick and mortar stores is that most print books live out their life span in the course of the first three months. So a book can hit the bestseller list and quickly die, but still be called a bestseller. But often times, a book that hits the bestseller list can extend its shelf life simply because of the notoriety it received from getting on the list.

The same is true for indie authors… sometimes. If you hit The Amazon Top 100 you can stay for weeks or days.

So what's the point? The point is, learn from publishers. They've been around for a while. They know what they are doing and they know how to make a profit. Let's not get into what they do wrong. I'm not going there; that's another conversation. But if you want to learn how to create a bestseller (assuming your book is a well-written story), learn to master marketing layering, building an ad campaign with stacks and stacks of promotion across the Internet, bloggosphere, and book sites.

Another friend of mine who used to manage book stores told me that the running joke in the book industry was, "A bestseller is a book that sells one book a day."

One book isn't much. I'd like to sell more, and I bet you would to.

You may not not become a bestseller, but at least you might sell more and garner the attention your book deserves. Of course books sell books, and the more you publish, they greater attention you'll get. Keep writing, that is always your best marketing plan. And don't forget, publishing success is about luck and so many other points. I can't mention them all in one post. This is just one way to help your promotion become more effective, not a guarantee to bestsellerdom.

What do you think???? I'd love to hear where you are marketing your book(s). You may not create buzz by posting at just one site, but if we as a group can share what sites we use, perhaps we can create a large list that can collectively boost all of our sales. I'm putting together a list of effective marketing sites in my "Author Resources" page. Take a second if you can, and post a comment and share your thoughts. P.S. Try listening to this post with the "Audio" gadget at the top.

Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. If you'd like to hire me, see my Author Services Page.