A Birthday Update

I was going to call this post “A Mid-Year Update,” but I think I’m a little late on that. Considering my birthday is this week, I’ll use that as the excuse to bring you all up to speed on everything that’s happened in 2018.

Last time I posted, I described the process of readying Omega Protocol for launch. Everything went just about as well as I could have hoped. Barnes and Noble delivered an excellent push for the First Look promotion. It was always going to be an uphill battle for them to launch the final part of a trilogy and expect people to catch up on the whole thing. To my surprise, quite a few readers actually did buy the whole series.

The launch on Amazon two weeks after was a little quieter than I’d anticipated considering how many sales of the first two books I’d already racked up. Nonetheless, things have moved slowly in the right direction. The lesson I took away from that launch is to not depend on the algorithms. I need to connect directly with my readers. Believe me, I’ll do that for my next release. (More on that later!)

This year, I finally acquired an elusive Kindle Daily Deal for Atlantic Island! It gave a nice boost to the title, and B&N followed up with a Nook Daily Find shortly after. AI performed very well and has maintained its momentum, especially in the Nook store. I’ve continued to be fascinated that no matter what I do, Traveler (my little passion project) vastly outsells Atlantic Island (my “mainstream” blockbuster title). I think it speaks to what ebook readers are looking to discover. That said, AI did hit #3 in the Nook Store, so please don’t assume I’m complaining!

Tantor Audio released all my books on digital audio and CD this year. I loved listening to the AI Trilogy and I’m in the middle of The Traveler. They have some very talented voice artists doing these things! If you’ve been holding off on any of my books because you just don’t have time to read… well, now you can listen in the car!

I’ve been fortunate to have a few nice media opportunities this year. Young Entertainment Magazine ran a feature on me, and I’ll be doing a Twitter takeover for them on September 20th. Publisher’s Weekly ran a great article and the rumor is they might be doing a review of Atlantic Island. I’m both excited and nervous as hell for that.

I was honored to get to speak and sign some autographs for the Atlantic Island Trilogy at the Neshaminy Mall Barnes and Noble in Bensalem, PA over the summer. Everybody there was awesome and so helpful, and it was great to see a mix of people I knew, people who were fans of the books, and people who just wanted to see what was going on. I even got to see my second grade teacher, who brought a copy of the book I wrote in her class! Big thanks to my brother, Josh Shernoff, for hosting the event and doing a great interview. Josh happens to be the host of the Apter Chat wrestling podcast. Cheap plug: check out their debut episode with an exclusive Hulk Hogan interview on August 17th!

So… what’s still to come? The early draft of a screenplay for The Traveler is in the works. There’s been some interest from a few different parties about screen adaptations of my books, but talks are in very preliminary stages. The big news, I guess, is that I’m writing something completely new! I haven’t started a new project with all new characters since writing Traveler about half a decade ago.

The book, which I believe will be called “Vacancy,” is not part of the stories I’ve already told, but exists in that same multiverse. I’m confident fans of my other books will be able to figure out exactly how it fits in. It’s a unique story and it’s been both challenging and liberating to dive into some new characters and new situations. I expect to have the first draft wrapped up by the end of September, but I can’t speak to a release date right now- there are some discussions taking place around it and until I see how those pan out I can’t say for sure how I will go about publishing this title.

That’s all I can say for right now! Thank you to everyone who keeps following and supporting my journey. I am so fortunate to be able to do what I do and to be able to entertain people. I look forward to sharing my next project with all of you soon!


Omega Protocol is ready to launch!

I’m thrilled to announce that the final edits are in place and the manuscript for Omega Protocol has been uploaded! This book is the final part of the Atlantic Island Trilogy and also serves as a sequel to The Traveler. It has been a long process during which I had to decide how to wrap up all the stories of so many characters I’ve created over the past half a decade. I hope you will find satisfaction in the ending to the story.

Many thanks to Michael Waitz, my awesome editor, who worked to get everything done in accordance with my tight schedule and made the book infinitely better. If it works for you, thank him. If not, blame me.

Omega Protocol will debut as a Nook First Look exclusive with Barnes and Noble tomorrow, January 9, 2018. Be on the lookout for the marketing push from B&N (can’t say enough great things about the people there). It will be on Amazon Kindle and everywhere else two weeks later. Also- the audio books of the whole trilogy will be releasing one per month between March and May. I’m so excited to hear my stories!

Thanks to everyone who made 2017 by far the best year of my writing and publishing career. Looking forward to a great 2018!

A Fall Update Full of Bookbubs and Pumpkin Spice

I thought I’d write a quick update as there is so much going on in this crazy year in my writing career. After about a hundred rejections (I’m not joking- I could show you the emails), I landed my first Bookbub promo for Atlantic Island! That happened around my birthday in August and tripled my previous best daily sales record. It also led to my first time breaking into the top 100 on Amazon, topping out at #87!

Around that time I reached out to Barnes and Noble to see if there was any interest in bringing my work to their Nook platform. To my pleasant surprise, they were very interested. I cannot say enough about how positive my experiences with Barnes and Noble have been the last few months. The staff at Nook Press are professional and helpful and supportive.

I brought my paperbacks to Nook Press for online order, and got Rising Tide and Traveler on there as ebooks once I ran out the exclusivity with Amazon. Yes, Rising Tide is the second book of the Atlantic Island series, but the first book is exclusive until the start of November.

Barnes and Noble scheduled The Traveler for a Nook Daily Find for October 14th, and I was able to land a Bookbub for the same day! That combination was a much bigger marketing effort than even August and certainly than anything I’d done for Traveler before. The book sold 3000 copies in one day, moving to #62 in the Kindle store, and #1 in the Nook store! It also had great sales in iBooks and Kobo. I was blown away by the support for the book during the promotion, and I’m thrilled that the latest batch of reviews has been positive. Sales continue across all platforms now that the book is back at full price. I can’t say for sure that this was the true tipping point for Traveler, but it’s doing better than ever before, so I’ll take it.

I can’t talk too much about the things I have coming up, but I can tell you that Atlantic Island will be coming to all platforms in November and will be part of a special promotional effort at Barnes and Noble for Cyber Monday! The final book of the trilogy is moving along well, and will be released on January 9th for Nook as a limited time exclusive, and two weeks later on all platforms. The tentative title is Omega Protocol… that name has something to do with the situation developing at the end of Rising Tide, but I don’t want to spoil it here.

That’s all for now! I’ve got a ton more writing and editing to do (which means drinking a ton more seasonal coffee at the book store cafe) and hopefully I will have some more news to report once a few things are worked out. Thanks to everyone for making this an unbelievable year thus far!

2017 So Far (or Six Months of Middling Success)

The last time I wrote an update here I talked about the promotion of Traveler in February and how it seemed to have a much longer tail than I had anticipated. I’ll update you on Traveler now, but I know that isn’t the book that people want to hear about…

Traveler continued to sell for a very long time (truthfully, it’s still selling, but in minuscule amounts), with about two weeks of 15-25 sales a day, then a month of 5-10 a day, and downward from there. It clocked in over 100,000 page reads from Kindle Unlimited borrows and generated a sizable amount of reviews. I can proudly say that most of them were very positive. February was by far the best month of sales I’d ever had, and March and April were very good as well. Traveler is going to get another promotion in a couple weeks and I’d be happy to get anywhere near that level of sales again. We’ll see.

Okay, so… Atlantic Island. While I was busy worrying myself about every ranking shift up and down with Traveler, my readers and marketing people kept telling me that I was backing the wrong horse. Atlantic Island, they said, is the mainstream type of book people are looking for. So I decided to give it a shot with a free promo in May.

Before that could happen, Amazon offered me a spot for Atlantic Island in their new Prime Reading program. I was honored to be asked and quickly accepted. The book got very little visibility in the new program and didn’t sell too much at all heading into May.

The day of the promo arrived, and the book took off quickly, outpacing Traveler in free downloads. It reached about 11,000 by the time the promotion ended, but strangely tied Traveler’s best free rank at #7 in the store.

The paid sales started to come in after the free deal was over, but they were surprisingly very slow. I attributed this to many people getting the book as a Prime borrow, but the ranking told a different story. The book got as far as #525 in the store and quickly started to head the wrong direction. I had no idea what had gone wrong but I accepted it.

Then, days later, Amazon’s mysterious popularity rankings updated and AI moved to near or at the top of almost every subcategory it was in, including first page visibility for all of Prime Reading. Over the next two weeks the book sold more and more copies, creeping back through the rankings. Finally, it surpassed its promo day best. Then it broke into the top 500.Then it beat Traveler’s record (#465) and went all the way to the 430’s. It took #1 in three different categories and for several days was outselling all the Divergent books and both Hunger Games sequels (but not anywhere close to the first book, damn it!) In the meantime, hundreds of AI readers went on to buy Rising Tide. All that momentum drove my author ranking to around #50 of all Sci-Fi authors.

I set up an ad campaign for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. I had originally envisioned a much more elaborate marketing effort for that weekend at the Jersey Shore but settled for a couple Facebook and Amazon Ads. I pushed the idea that if you were heading to the shore for the holiday weekend, well, the book of the summer is here and it’s called Atlantic Island.

It turns out that if people were reading on the beach that weekend they were not reading any of my books. Sales screeched to an abrupt halt over the three day weekend and by the time people went back to work that Tuesday, the book was ranked in the 900’s. It has dropped since, but sales do continue. At present the book fluctuates between about #1800-2800 in the store depending on the day.

I continue to be amazed at the support my work has received. Every new sale means so much. I have received quite a few questions about the third book in the trilogy (“Atlantic Island Trilogy third book” comes up as a frequent search on amazon even before the words “Atlantic Island” are typed). The book is in the works. There’s quite a bit going on in that story and many major characters to contend with. It is in part a continuation of the Traveler and probably the closest thing to a sequel that book will receive. Thomas has a bigger role than he had in Rising Tide, and the travelers in general are an important part of the tale. After all, the travelers and the super-powered orb folk are essentially two sides of the same coin. The main story arc is figured out and, thankfully, I know how it all ends. I just have to put the pieces together in a way that entertains my faithful readers. Rest assured, I will do my very best.

I have a few other stories in the works. I plan to start on something new as soon as the draft of AI3 is complete and off to the editors. I will update as soon as there is news to report. Thanks again to everyone who has read my work and supported this crazy endeavor.

What A Day (Part 2)

To say things are continuing to look better in 2017 than they did throughout 2016 would be quite the understatement. As predicted, Atlantic Island and Rising Tide dropped quickly back down the rankings, and a little extra marketing for Atlantic Island the next week only helped a little. Those books have never had much stickiness in the ranks and now I wait to see if having a good volume of sales leads to word of mouth promotion.

So what’s the good news? Well… first I picked up a couple very nice reviews of Atlantic Island. Then Monday the big promotion for The Traveler finally happened. It’s been in the works for months and I could barely sleep the last few nights as I counted down the hours. The book shattered all of my records, selling hundreds of full-price copies in just a few hours. The ranking for the book (which was in the 400,000’s and had only ever been as high as 4,100) rose and rose, peaking early Tuesday morning at 464 in the entire kindle store and 35 in all Science Fiction!

At that point, with only 8 sales in the early morning (I say “only” as if it’s not a huge deal for me) I assumed that was the end. The promotion was over, it had been great, and now my sales would dry up again and I’d move on to the next idea and keep writing my sequel. Only… sales continued all day on Tuesday. Nearly 100 over the course of the day. Keep in mind my previous best day of sales of Traveler was 40 back in 2015 and that was on a discounted promotion day.

I woke up today (Wednesday) knowing that I had somehow been lucky and Amazon had gifted me one extra day of getting the word out about the book and now it was over. Only… it wasn’t. Sales continued all today as well and I’ve sold 63 as of 8 PM. I can’t explain how shocked and excited I am to have so many people willing to take a chance on my work. There are many doing free borrows as well… I can’t track those but Amazon lets me see page reads and there is a lot of reading going on. That thrills me. Hundreds of strangers are being introduced to the story of Dan and Suzy and Thomas and all the other characters I love so much.

I realize today’s sales will be a little less than yesterday, and while I wish the book would “find its level” and maintain some number of sales in perpetuity, I suspect the good times are winding down. Still… these have been very good times and I’m proud to have my work being read. I just hope people like my story and tell a friend or two or twenty.

For now I’m going to get back to work on the Traveler sequel, and by the end of this week I should have the next few promotions lined up for the spring.

What a day!

I started my first promotion attempt of 2017 today, dropping both parts of the Atlantic Island story to 99 cents. The response has been bigger than I expected, and bigger than anything I’ve done so far in this industry.

As of right now the books have sold a combined 213 copies during the promo. They moved to just above 1,000 in the overall kindle store (still can’t break through that mark!) and Atlantic Island nabbed the #1 ranking in Young Adult Sci-Fi Romance and Young Adult Mystery Thrillers. Both books were ranked very well throughout the store, including placing in the top 100 bestsellers in all Sci-Fi as well as all Teen/YA. One other cool moment was seeing my author rank crack the top 100 of all Sci-Fi authors! I made it as far as #90 before slowly dropping off the list but I’ve never had an author rank next to my profile before.

No doubt the books will slide back down and my fifteen seconds of fame will be over but maybe some of these new readers will like the series enough to tell others and to try my other work. I’ve got some small promos coming up in a week and a big marketing campaign for Traveler hitting in about two weeks so this (hopefully!) is just the beginning.

Thanks to all who supported this sale today for helping me achieve a few more small milestones in my writing career!

Okay, I’m Back For Real This Time.

About a year ago I promised to write something on this page at least once a month. That lasted one month. Sorry about that. I decided to spend a year following the publication of Rising Tide letting my work do its thing organically without my input and marketing hand-holding.

It didn’t go particularly well. My first mistake was probably not focusing more on getting a list of all the people who read and enjoyed Atlantic Island. I trusted Amazon to track them down but it just didn’t seem to happen.  My second mistake was using the new (at the time) pre-order capability of KDP. Rising Tide pre-sold about 20 copies but that had little to no impact on the book’s ranking when it finally released.

In addition, Amazon finally expressed real interest in moving the Atlantic Island series into an Amazon imprint (I think 47North), but they were afraid to pull Rising Tide from the pre-order page because that would be a bad user experience. They decided to wait until the book was out and doing gangbusters. But then the book came out and sold almost nothing, and to this date I’ve never heard anything more about it. Such is life.

The Rising Tide situation was disappointing for me because I love those characters and that series and I think the sequel is really some of my best work. Yet the thousands of readers who bought Atlantic Island and the hundreds of them who actually contacted me to ask for a sequel did not turn up to actually buy the sequel.

I ended 2015 very strong after having that big 300+ sales week in the fall. I didn’t even sell 100 books through all of 2016. The only thing I saw that gave me some hope was a small amount of stickiness for The Traveler. The book sold 3-5 copies a month the whole year with no promotion, and that’s a book that at its best sold 40 in a day. Not even close to the success I’ve had promoting Atlantic Island, but this little bit of steady selling developed on its own.

Halfway through the year I started writing a sequel to Traveler. I rediscovered Dan’s voice instantly but it took me a while to figure out what I want to do with the story. I’ve mentioned before that Traveler was designed as a standalone story that also served to flesh out the Atlantic Island multiverse. I love Dan’s story and the arc of his romance with Suzy and I didn’t want to disturb that or turn the series into the wacky adventures of a time traveler.

Recently I figured out that this book isn’t really Dan’s, though he narrates a good portion of it and it is a continuation of his role in the larger tale I’m telling. This book is really Thomas’s. In many ways, he’s the connecting force between my books and he’s one of my favorite characters. Peeling back the mystery of his life is a challenge but I think it gives a new perspective on him and will, in turn, give a new perspective on the events of Traveler and Rising Tide. I think it’s an engaging story set in a very different series of environments than my other novels and it helps move the pieces into place for the finale to Atlantic Island which is still a while off.

Speaking of that, I will probably create another series that also ties into Atlantic Island before getting to that final part of the trilogy. I’m going to be doing some promoting of the existing works over the next few months and I anticipate getting the sales machine moving again, at least a little.

On a final note, there is a strong possibility that I will be developing Traveler into a screenplay over the next year. I would love to be a part of the process of turning my work into a film. How that all takes shape depends on how well the book sells in the near future so stay tuned.

Almost sequel time…

Here we are at the end of November. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and editing of the Rising Tide manuscript is approaching completion. I have a deadline of December 4th to get it to Amazon and I am confident I’ll hit the mark.

I did some serious marketing for Atlantic Island through November and it paid off. The book sold over 300 copies during the month, tripling my previous best month ever (not including free downloads). Over 80 of those sales came in one day! The novel made it on to the top 100 Science Fiction and top 100 Teen/Young Adult bestseller lists. It’s a great feeling to have so many new readers and I’m proud that people seem to like the book. There are over 50 reviews now with a 4.4 average rating. Not bad.

I’m feeling good about Rising Tide. It ramps up the science fiction aspects a little more than the first book but I think I managed to keep the focus on the characters and their struggles. Hopefully there will be enough surprises for readers while still delivering a story that feels like the right step forward for Theo, Kylee and the rest of their gang.

Having never released a full sequel before, I really don’t know what to expect. I’m not sure that Amazon will market it to the people who bought the first novel (there are a couple thousand of those wonderful folks now). There is certainly a chance that nobody will buy the book, and that would be unfortunate only because I’m so excited to share this story with my readers. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ll spend most of January promoting the new book and doing some work preparing all of my fiction titles for alternate formats and stores. The paperbacks will probably take some time. After that? I have three ideas. One of those is a Traveler book but I’m still undecided as to whether Dan needs a sequel at all. What do you think?

A Long Overdue Update

Okay… so I may or may not have stepped away for what may or may not have been a ridiculous length of time approaching two years. Many things have come up in my personal life that distracted from working on promoting my writing career. That doesn’t mean I’ve been distracted from my writing, however.

In addition to revising and expanding Atlantic Island and Traveler I have been working away at the full sequel to AI, a book called Rising Tide. The draft is over 70,000 words and I’m just about ready to write the final arc of the plot. This book incorporates the Galaxi novella, which you might recall was going to be part of a series. I’ve changed that plan and completely revised the novella to fit in as just one component of a much bigger story. I know many readers liked Galaxi the character, and I can tell you she is involved in much more of Rising Tide than just the parts from her original story. Of course Kylee, Theo and many other Atlantic Island favorites are in this novel as well.

In other news, The Traveler finally started to gain some traction in the Kindle Store, briefly holding the number one spot in its sub-genre. I’m very proud of the many positive reviews that have been coming in about the book. I’ve been contacted by some readers who want to know about sequels to that story. I don’t have any concrete plans right now, but certain elements from that book (though not Dan himself) are a critical component of Rising Tide. I’ve always designed my books to exist in a shared multiverse and that will all start to come into play in Rising Tide and come to a head in the final part of the AI trilogy.

Tentatively, I imagine there will be at least one or two other novels in between the second and third AI books. One of those might involve Dan Wells, or it might not. Clearly I change my plans as I go, and that’s one of the awesome things about writing. Even the writer can’t always predict where his or her story will go.

I’m going to try to post something at least once a month here, and probably more as we build toward the release of the next book. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

My two cents on the “Paid Review Scandal”

Many authors I know are writing blogs defending the authors named in the anonymous blog post as having paid for positive reviews of their books. In particular, they are defending Hugh Howey, whom I have written about here several times. I don’t have much to contribute to the discussion other than the following:

1. I don’t understand why somebody would create such a list unless he or she was hoping to knock out many of the top authors in the self-publishing world and clear the path for the next bunch (which the accuser must assume her or she is going to be a part of). Sorry, friend, it’s not going to happen. These people have massive followings and they aren’t going anywhere. By the way, the business isn’t a competition and there is room for more to join the list without removing the list entirely. 

2. As I just said, these top talents have massive followings. They don’t need to pay for reviews. I can tell you that Hugh is just great to his fans and has earned their devotion without paying them anything. 

3. There’s an idea going around as part of this scandal that thousands of positive reviews is an indication of “fake.” Here’s what I can tell you: I’ve sold a little over 200 copies of Atlantic Island, not including several hundred sales and free downloads of the installments. I have 8 reviews of the novel, 7 of which are very positive, 1 of which is negative (and none of which I paid for). So to me those are the results of a good but (so far) unknown book. Extrapolate that out to a book like Wool that has sold probably hundreds of thousands of copies. Then look at Hugh’s reviews. The ratio is not all that different than mine. 

In conclusion, the premise of this accusation is foolish, the purpose of it is a shot in the dark at best, and none of this is any good for the growing self-publishing industry. What’s scary is how many people have jumped on the bandwagon calling out all these authors. It’s ridiculous and it needs to stop. If you don’t like somebody’s work, write a review. If you are jealous of one of these authors and his or her success, write your own damned books and try to join them in the winner’s circle. Name-calling, accusations and bullying don’t lead anyone anywhere positive. 

End rant.