Hey 3.5 readers. Well, it’s here. The cover for my upcoming novel, Shop Buddy. It’s about a recent college grad who can’t find the job he wants, so he gets by working for an online shopping service. One of his customers puts in strange orders – rope, chains, knives, a chainsaw and so on. He and his ex-girlfriend who also works for the service (in fact, she’s his boss) get suspicious and unravel the mystery of what said strange customer is up to.
SIDENOTE – I went grocery shopping for the first time in I can’t even remember yesterday and I have to say, I need to go do my actual shopping more because online shopping/delivery just isn’t cutting it.
My complaints about online shopping (which mostly get worked into the novel in one way or another)
A) How is it possible in today’s information age that the website says the store has something and then the shopper gets me and tells me they don’t have it? Supply chain issues aside, every item has a barcode right? So can’t some tech genius hook those barcodes up to the site and when the last one is bought, make it say OUT OF STOCK when you order it? Ah, but there’s the rub. That thing was probably the thing you wanted the most and if you knew they didn’t have it, you wouldn’t have placed the order in the first place. If they made things go out of stock on the website they’d get less orders.
B) Every so often, I get a result that makes me question my faith in humanity. In the book, the main character ruins a child’s birthday party. Charged with shopping for and delivering a birthday cake, the company’s wonky algorithm tells him to buy and deliver a box set of Oingo Boingo’s greatest hits. This becomes a running joke throughout the story i.e. customer asks for a jar of pickles, algorithm tells the shopper to buy a velvet painting of Einstein fighting a velociraptor, customer asks for cat food, algorithm tells the shopper to buy an autographed photo of Abe Vigoda.
I haven’t received anything on the level of Oingo Boingo’s greatest hits or an Abe Vigoda autograph (I’d actually like an Abe Vigoda autograph) instead of what I ordered but there have definitely been times when I ordered, say, an apple, and got something where I just put it on the counter and scrutinized it, saying to myself “How…why…what…how on earth did they see “apple” and think I wanted THAT?”
Pre pandemic, I think these delivery services worked better because the shopper would actually come into your house, put the stuff on the counter for you, and review any discrepancies to your face. Now, they just do a gangland style drive-by where they whip all the bags at your front door while NWA classic hits blare on their speakers. By the time you open the bag and realized they got you a macroni statute of Bette Midler (cue Seinfeld) instead of your tub of egg salad, they’re half way down the block. If they actually had to look you in the eye, they woudn’t make such bizarre subsitutions.
I will say this of yesterday’s in person shopping experience:
A) Often shoppers would text me and say they’re out of this they’re out of that and I’d wonder if they really are out of something or if this is just a lazy shopper. Sometimes I’d curse the inflationary times we live in when my shopper texts me, “They were all out of cookies” and I’m like, “Damn it! It’s like we lost a war!” (Fun fact we actually lost 2 major wars in ten years but that shouldn’t prevent me from getting cookies. It’s not like I’m the Secretary of Defense after all. That guy should be sans cookies for losing wars.)
B) When you’re in store, you see stuff you wouldnt think to look for on the site. Maybe this is good because you’re getting more stuff or then again maybe you are spending more then you would. Then again that extra you are spending would just go to a tip to a guy who is just going to toss the bags at your front porch in an early 1990s style Boyz in the Hood esque drive by. “Break yoself and take yo potato salad, fool!”
I have an announcement. Today, I finished the first draft of Shop Buddy, a mystery/comedy that took me, eh I’d say about a year to write, though I took long breaks here and there.
The plot? Steve is a recent philosophy major and graduate of a notoriously bad college. Unemployed and unemployable, he takes a job with Shop Buddy, a website/app where people shop for goods and deliver them straight to the customer’s door. When he screws up an order big time (the customer wanted a birthday cake but the app told him to bring her a box set of Oingo Boingo’s greatest hits) he is demoted, and forced to work with his ex-girlfriend Kendra, another recent college grad who is finding it difficult to find a real job, which isn’t fair, because she did all the right things you’re supposed to do.
Amidst this backdrop, Steve gets a bizarre order from a strange old man. Knives. Chainsaws. Rubber gloves. Ropes. Chains. What is the old timer up to? Could he be The Fairmont Falls Lady Snatcher, a vile abducter of women that the media won’t stop talking about? Kendra says yes. Steve says no. Will these two unravel the mystery? Will they rekindle their lost love and most important…will they ever find real jobs?
It’s very satisfying to finish a first draft. And while it has my naughty brand of humor, I kept all eff bombs out of it so I’d say, it’s rated PG 13 at best. I think this will be my first full length self published novel (I have published short stories but never a novel) so stay tuned.
Still a lot of work ahead but nice to have the first draft in the bag.
Sidenote – I was inspired to write this at the height of the pandemic, when I relied on grocery delivery and I would be shocked at how I could put down something like apple and get back all manner of ridiculous things where you’d have to stand on your head side ways and wonder how they thought that had anything to do with apples.
Tis the season for looking back and reflecting and with my overall goal of becoming a super awesome big time fancy writer, I have to take stock of how far I advanced toward that goal.
This year, I published three books:
In January, I put out “The Second Death” about a fame seeking weirdo who seeks long lasting infamy, the kind that survives long after his demise.
In February, I published a collection of six short stories – “BQB’s Twisted Shorts: The Complete First Volume.” Werewolves, superheroes, sabotaged skydivers, wacky conspiracy theorists and more.
And finally, in March I published “The Phone Did It.” This one popped into my head at random and I felt it was inspired. It’s about a salesman with an unusual product, an automated cell phone that knows you so well, it just does whatever you would have done anyway. Ahh, but what if said salesman has demented thoughts that he would have never acted on without a soul-less mobile device willing to do the dirty deeds for him?
Funny, I published three books in the first three months of the year. I hoped I would keep it up and publish one book a month but unfortunately I stalled out by April. The key seems to be to publish very short books, approximately 100 pages or so. The longer the book, the longer it takes to publish. Even so, 3 books in a year is pretty good and here’s hoping I can add to my BQB Amazon catalog in 2022.
Just a fun note. Thanks to a Freebooksy feature, my short story, Freefall is as of this post:
1 in 90-Minute Literature & Fiction Short Reads
1 in 90-Minute Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads
2 in Single Authors Short Stories
Sorry, I didn’t know it would make the text that big when I cut and pasted it. Also, it is number 91 Free in the kindle store, which if my memory serves, I believe that is the first time I ever cracked the top 100 free.
In total, I was able to give away 1,055 free copies in one day of this fine book about a man who guys skydiving only to discover his primary and backup ripcords have been sabotaged.
As a bonus, 6 copies of my other books were sold. The proceeds were big enough that I can supersize my next taco. I know, sometimes it is frustrating…you give away 1,000 books and only sell 6…but I’ve noticed that when you do a promo like this, the reviews and ratings tend to trickle in over the next few months, which I assume means people grab up a free copy, then let it sit on their virtual shelf until they get around to reading it. At any rate, at least 1,000 copies are out there.
BTW, as some free self publishing advice, it really is all about the cover. I have done 2 freebooksy features for most of my books (a few I have only done 1). For all, I noticed a good return the first time, and a declining return the next time, which I assume a lot of people who use freebooksy grabbed it before and weren’t as interested the second time around (though the returns were still enough to make it worth buying a second feature.)
But this second go around for Freefall, the returns were still high, which tells me people see this poor schmuck holding his cut ripcord and want to find out what happens. Do you want to find out what happens? Grab your free copy!
I bought a Freebooksy promotion, which ran yesterday, and wanted to tell you all about it, seeing as how it was a good experience.
It was for Freefall, my short story about a man who goes on a skydiving trip, only to jump out of the plane and find that his parachute has been sabotaged:
In the past, I have had moderate success with Facebook ads. Sometimes they would translate to 10 or 20 free copies. At times, I have given away approximately 100. That was the highest and I thought that was something.
Yesterday, thanks to Freebooksy, I gave away a mind boggling 1,337 copies in one day!!! Ergo, I am sold on their services. When you buy a promotion, you can plan it for a specific day. They will list your book as free on their website for the day and will send it in their email to their subscribers for that day.
Makes sense, right? If you use Facebook ads, you might reach a lot of people, but out of those, maybe a handful will actually click on the link, and an even smaller amount will actually bother to get a free copy.
Meanwhile, Freebooksy subscribers are serious readers with a passion for the written word. They have signed up for these emails so they can be notified when it is time to snatch up free books. Thus, unless something changes, I foresee myself focusing on Freebooksy in the future as my go to site for advertising when one of my books is free.
Of course, we want to transition to the point where we actually get paid. Rarely happens to me, but I am still relatively new to self-publishing. Part of the problem is you have to collect the so-called “social proof” i.e. you have to rack up positive reviews. I did receive one positive review yesterday thanks to Freebooksy. I thought maybe I’d receive more but one thing I have noticed is sometimes people will get a free copy and then they’ll come back a week, or two or a month later and buy a book or leave a review or a rating. It takes time for people to read your book. They grab your book when it is free but then it might sit on their virtual shelf for awhile before they find time to read it.
I did notice a number of people on Goodreads listed it as a book they have or have read or want to read, etc.
Overall, a positive experience so far. As of this morning, the free copies have tapered off to 48 for today as of the time of this post, but that’s still a lot more in one day that I am used to.
Oh! Freefall also ended up being ranked #2 in 90 minute Literature and Short Fiction reads, #2 in Single Author Short Stories and #2 in 90 Minute Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Short Reads. It is now #131 in the Free Kindle store.
That last one? I have to assume if you can make it into the Top 100 Free, you’d get a lot of free book grabs, so if you 3.5 readers want to grab your free copy and put me over the top, I would appreciate it.
Seriously, what else were you going to do today? Cut your toenails? Wash your hair? Mow your lawn? You can take less than one minute to grab a free copy and be able to go to bed tonight secure in the knowledge that you actually achieved something awesome, i.e. you helped Bookshelf Q Battler inch his way toward the Top 100 Free on Amazon.
Thanks for listening, 3.5 readers. Oh and if you are a self-publisher and were wondering about the cost, it cost me $90 and I consider it $90 well spent. You can go to Freebooksy.com and see the prices for various genres, some of which are lower. It’s a good deal. If you want to do it for one of your books, I’d recommend going to their site to make sure the day you want isn’t already sold out, and then pick a day and set your book to be free on that day and voila, free books.
Will you have similar results? Eh, I can’t say for sure. I mean, look at that cover. It is pretty awesome. And the story is pretty great too, if I do say so myself. You still need to bring your A game to your writing and book production but I would assume you’ll still see an uptick in free copies.
Thank you, Freebooksy.
One more note – Freebooksy also offers Bargainbooksy, where if your book is priced low enough (I forget how low it has to be) then you can also buy a promotion on that. I haven’t tried that yet. I generally find it is like pulling teeth to get people to actually buy books, though I heard a rumor it does happen if you keep putting the time and effort in. Maybe I’ll try that someday. If you have tried Bargainbooksy and want to share your experience, please do so in the comments.
3.5 readers, my twisted short, When Superheroes Quit, is totes free this week, so be sure to grab a copy and find out what happens to Horrendous City when The Righteous Champion quits being a superhero to focus on his budding pop music career.