“Dead Is All You Get” Press Release

Steven Ramirez releases the sequel to his zombie thriller, delving deeper into the plague ravaging the town of Tres Marias.

Antihero Dave Pulaski returns as a man struggling to protect his wife, Holly, while attempting to stop the dark forces intent on furthering their sinister agenda.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — September 15, 2014 — In Dead Is All You Get (Book Two of THE DEAD SERIES), antihero Dave Pulaski and a small group of survivors find themselves deep in a Northern California forest, pursued by a shrieking, hellish horde that threatens to devour them. Then a miracle—Black Dragon Security helicopters appear overhead as more armed soldiers on ATVs ride over a ridge to destroy the attackers and rescue the group.

But the horror isn’t over. Not even close. Although Black Dragon has managed to make the town of Tres Marias safer, a new, more sinister reality emerges. The virus is mutating—and someone is to blame. Now Dave has a choice. He and his wife, Holly, can leave the safe zone and fend for themselves. Or they can join Black Dragon and try to discover the truth about what really happened. All Dave wants is to protect those closest to him—especially Holly. He must decide, and time is short. The people responsible for the outbreak may be planning something worse—something whose dark consequences will reach far beyond Tres Marias and will push Dave beyond the limits of faith and reason.

Dead Is All You Get combines the best elements of horror, dark fantasy and sci-fi, taking the reader on a relentless, tortured journey of survival and revenge that tests the strength of a man’s character and delves into the role faith plays when one is confronted by the worst kind of evil—the evil in humans.

“This story is not just about horror. It explores the need for Faith when confronted by events that test our ability to survive.” –Steven Ramirez

Dead Is All You Get by Steven Ramirez is the second book of THE DEAD SERIES, published by the author in 2014 and available in these formats: Kindle (ISBN 978-0-9898718-3-9), ePub (ISBN 978-0-9898718-4-6) and PDF (ISBN 978-0-9898718-5-3). More information at stevenramirez.com.

Dead Is All You Get goes beyond the realm of horror and dark fantasy, deftly weaving science fiction into the present and compelling the reader to ask such disturbing questions as …

… how many are we willing to sacrifice in order to achieve a major scientific breakthrough?

… is it morally wrong to kill the “undead”?

… how far can a person be pushed before his faith in God is destroyed?

Steven Ramirez is the author of Books One and Two of THE DEAD SERIES, Tell Me When I’m Dead and Dead Is All You Get. He has also published a number of short stories, as well as a children’s book, and he wrote the screenplay for the horror-thriller film, ‘Killers.’ To hear about new releases, visit stevenramirez.com. Steven lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughters.

“The antihero doesn’t often make the right choices, but he is always active and forces those around him to react.” –Steven Ramirez

Get your copy of Dead Is All You Get now. Read it with the lights on. And keep telling yourself, “This can’t happen here.”

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And Now A Word About Professionalism

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Haslam via Creative Commons
1x1.trans And Now A Word About ProfessionalismWell, kiddies, it’s almost time for Dead Is All You Get: Book Two of THE DEAD SERIES to go live. And it’s been a journey, let me tell you. Recently, I did a cover reveal, signaling the approaching publishing date. Now, we’re really close. I’m getting the manuscript back from the proofreader and, once the book is formatted by the amazing and inimitable JW Manus, it’s saving humanity one book at a time. Okay, that’s overstated. But, hey, I’m excited!

In the meantime, I wanted to talk a little about the publishing process from the point-of-view of a moderately experienced indie author. Because I write, I read. A lot. And I have to say that indie publishing is a blessing and a curse. First, let’s talk about the blessing part.

Amazon and the Masses
Like Gutenberg, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others have brought publishing to the masses. If you’ve paid any attention to the debate raging now between Amazon and Hachette, you’ll understand that this is a pretty big deal. No longer must authors be at the mercy of powerful literary agents and publishers. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can publish a book. Anyone.

This new reality has brought about a titanic transformation of publishing—with the reader at the center. New voices—authors who for the most part would never have gotten a shot—are now able to be read. All good stuff. But, as in most things in life, there’s a downside.

Up to Our Necks in Dreck
It’s precisely because anyone can hit the “Publish” button that there’s a lot of garbage out there. I’m talking bad writing, bad covers, no editing and no formatting. So what does this mean for the reader? Well, they have to wade through the dreck to get to the good stuff. And with way more than a million titles, that’s not easy. “What about reviews?” you say. Ever heard of sock puppets?

The major publishers have put forth this argument for years—implying that the only way to get your hands on quality books is to purchase them from The Big Five. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is a load of crap. Don’t believe me? Check out Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings site sometime and you’ll find that indie publishing is growing at a pace that’s alarming to The Big Five.

But enough of this. Let’s talk about making your indie book the best it can be.

The Cover Matters
Whether or not you like my book cover, it’s professional. I not only hired an artist to create it, but I used a professional cover designer. As many others have said ad nauseam, at least when it comes to eBooks, you can judge a book by its cover. And if the thing is rubbish, readers can probably assume the book is as well.

Editors Matter
You cannot hope to build an audience without entrusting your book to a professional editor and proofreader (often not the same person). Editors see things you don’t—gaps in logic, klunky language and bad grammar, to name a few. And a proofreader sees things editors don’t—missing commas, extra spaces after periods, etc.

Again, you may find that you don’t care for THE DEAD SERIES—I hope you do, though—but it’s professional. Unfortunately, typos will always make their way through. And I can tell you that I’ve found plenty of them in books from The Big Five. Nothing against these guys. It’s because we’re human—we miss things. What’s nice about eBooks is, you can easily fix the typo and republish.

Formatting Matters
I’m talking strictly about eBooks here. Yes, you can leave it to the Smashwords Meatgrinder to handle the formatting. Mark Coker has done an amazing job with that program, doing his best to automate the process of self-publishing. But it’s still a program. I prefer to work with a human.

The point is, don’t just upload your Microsoft Word document to KDP and hope for the best. You’ll be disappointed—and so will your readers.

A Good Synopsis Matters
When I say “synopsis,” I am also referring to the book blurb that appears under your book’s title on Amazon. It should be as professional as your book. And if you don’t know how to write an effective one, seek the help of other writers. You won’t be sorry.

Brand Matters
So what am I really talking about? Brand. This is all about your brand, people. Get the book wrong and readers will be done with you. And it will be hard to get them back. And I didn’t mean to imply that doing all of the above is cheap—it’s not. But if you’re serious about your work, you must do everything you can to produce a professional-looking product.

Of course, I am assuming that your writing rocks. That’s a given. All the more reason you should give it the respect it deserves.

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Dead Is All You Get—Cover Reveal

Well, this is it, folks—the cover for Book Two of THE DEAD SERIES, Dead Is All You Get. I feel so fortunate to have reconnected with artist Kevin Asmus, who created the gorgeous artwork for Book One, Tell Me When I’m Dead. But unlike Book One, where the artwork existed before I even wrote my book, Kevin created this new one exclusively for me. Feeling special, people.

If you’d like to be notified about the publication date for Dead Is All You Get, please sign up for my newsletter. In the meantime, enjoy!

1x1.trans Dead Is All You Get—Cover Reveal

Dead Is All You Get Synopsis
It wasn’t over. Not even close. After months of fighting the undead ravaging the town of Tres Marias, Dave Pulaski is tired—bone tired. Somehow, he and his wife Holly and their friends have managed to survive the contagion only to find themselves deep in a Northern California forest, pursued by a shrieking, hellish horde that threatens to devour them.

Then a miracle—Black Dragon Security helicopters ascend over a mist-shrouded ridge as more armed soldiers on ATVs come to destroy the attackers by the scores. They are saved! As the helicopter lifts off, Dave meets Evie Champagne, the intrepid television reporter who covered the tragedy until she mysteriously disappeared in the chaos and the violence. Like him, she is tired and afraid. But there’s something else.

Evie knows a secret.

Black Dragon has retaken Tres Marias from the Red Militia—a human scourge they battled along with the undead—and has again secured the command center. Survivors are getting medical attention and, bit by bit, the town is returning to normal. Or so Dave thinks. Things are about to get worse. The virus is mutating. And Evie knows who is to blame. The truth stretches far beyond Robbin-Sear, the mysterious biotech company with a secret lab located somewhere in the forest. The mayor may be involved, along with another even more sinister government agency.

Dave has a choice. He and Holly can leave the safe zone and fend for themselves. Or they can join Black Dragon and try to discover the truth about what really happened. All Dave wants is to protect those closest to him—especially Holly. He must decide, and time is short. The people responsible for the outbreak may be planning something worse—something whose dark consequences will reach far beyond Tres Marias and will push Dave beyond the limits of faith and reason.

Read Dead Is All You Get with the lights on. And keep telling yourself, “This can’t happen here.”

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‘Lucy’—Asking the Wrong Question

Photo Courtesy of IMDb
1x1.trans ‘Lucy’—Asking the Wrong QuestionLucy’ (2014)
Directed by Luc Besson
Screenplay by Luc Besson
Action | Sci-Fi
Stars Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi
Universal
Rated R
Log Line: A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

I saw the much-anticipated ‘Lucy’ last weekend and, before going into my review, I’d like to make a few preliminary comments. First, I am a huge fan of Luc Besson. Ever since ‘La Femme Nikita,’ I was convinced this guy could do no wrong. Second, I am in love with Scarlett Johansson—don’t tell my wife. Third, I’m very aware that no matter what I say here, this movie will make a ton of money. So that said, what’s my take?

I was disappointed.

This Was Two Movies
Apparently, ‘Lucy’ couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. On the one hand, it is a smart, funny, bloody sci-fi thriller that doesn’t skimp on the action. On the other, it’s an vfx-laden treatise on the history of man and his ability to utilize the untapped potential of his brain. Judging by the official trailer, I was promised the former. And I was getting it in all its Luc Besson glory until Lucy finally meets Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman in Paris.

There was an upside to the mindy, spacey stuff that takes us from man’s beginnings with the original Lucy to the wonders of the universe. I enjoyed the visual effects—especially when Lucy stops Time with a wave of her hand. Sure, that’s cool. And the movie came in at ninety minutes, which meant we weren’t saddled with a slow-moving second act. But when the screenwriter stops caring that Lucy is on the lam and an evil Korean guy is after her, and opts instead to focus on her morphing into a frickin’ computer made of giant Nutella-like tendrils, that’s when you lose me.

Every Hero Needs an Arc
This is a basic tenet of screenwriting. As we’ve learned over the years, it’s the Hero’s Journey, people. The hero—or the protagonist—reluctantly sets off on a journey where a bunch of stuff happens. Whether it’s good or bad stuff doesn’t really matter. In the end it’s life changing. And there’s always a final battle, which the hero must win. Then he returns home changed and tells the others what he learned. The model may be old, going all the way back to Gilgamesh, but it works.

So what happened to Lucy? Well, she didn’t come back! Instead of an arc, we got a trajectory. She never gets to have the final battle with Mr. Jang—that’s left to the battle-weary French cop Pierre Del Rio. Once Lucy’s brain reaches a hundred percent utilization, she trips off somewhere beyond Time and Space, probably meeting up with an alternate universe version of herself, which is the OS from ‘Her.’ Seriously? What am I supposed to do with pure energy? I invested a lot of my emotions in this woman, and now she just disappears? And just like Professor Norman, I am left with nothing but a thumb drive with a bunch of ones and zeroes on it. Great. I guess I should start that backup now. Oh wait, she melted all the computers.

How Might This Have Worked?
The movie already has the elements of a great sci-fi action thriller—bad guys, experimental drugs, exotic locations and a woman who, though she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, starts out dumb as spit when it comes to choosing men. Speaking of bad guys, the only thing better than a Korean bad guy is pairing him with an English bad guy. Bravo, Luc!

As I said before, I was good with everything until the fateful meeting with Professor Norman. Previously, she had only spoken to him by phone or video screen. He was becoming her Alfred. But once she meets with the good professor and other scientists, we’re transported to the Science Channel as Lucy’s brain utilization increases and everyone discusses the nature of Time and Space. At this point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if everyone adjourned to a nice restaurant and spent the next five hours discussing Sartre or the symbolism behind clowns in horror movies.

Here’s my idea for a third act. When Mr. Jang and his army arrive at the university to kill Lucy, she is already starting to lose her powers because the drug is wearing off. That, coupled with a blinding headache and other side effects from the drug, it’s a question of whether she can still take out the bad guys before they can kill her. A massive final battle ensues where everything—the university, everything—is destroyed as Lucy battles with Mr. Jang and his men while becoming weaker and weaker.

At a critical moment, Mr. Jang shoots Lucy. Weak and bloody she still manages to send him to hell. Then she collapses as the professor makes his way to her. As the professor examines her, he realizes that she is once again human. How? Well, her irises appear normal. Working fast, he and Del Rio get her to the hospital, where surgeons operate on her and she recovers.

Epilogue. Lucy is standing outside the airport with Del Rio. She’s going home to see her parents. He says, “I guess we’ll never know what would have happened had you hit a hundred percent.” Just then, a toddler drifts into the path of an oncoming taxi, his mother running after him and screaming in French. Suddenly, the taxi stops completely, as if Time itself had stopped. The crying mother retrieves her child as Del Rio stares at Lucy in amazement. “What?” she says, smiling. Then she kisses the cop on the cheek and walks into the terminal. Setup for a sequel? You bet.

The Wrong Question
Every great movie asks a question at the beginning that must be answered at the end. In ‘Lucy,’ the question appears to be “what would happen if we could access our whole brain instead of just ten percent?” To me, that’s the wrong question. It has nothing to do with a hero’s life. What happened to Lucy could have happened to anyone—the conniving boyfriend, the French cop or Professor Norman.

I think a better question is, “Will Lucy become the person she is meant to be?” With my ending, I think the movie would have answered that. It still would have been a kick-ass story and we would have left the theatre satisfied that Lucy completed the hero’s journey.

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The Loneliness of the One-Armed Marketer

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Malone via Creative Commons
1x1.trans The Loneliness of the One Armed MarketerThere’s a wonderful English film called ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,’ released in 1962, directed by Tony Richardson and starring Tom Courtenay. Yeah, so this post has nothing to do with that movie, but I was inspired by the title. The idea came to me while preparing to release the sequel to last year’s horror-thriller Tell Me When I’m Dead. And it all has to do with independent authors who don’t have enough time to market their work.

Not that I’m complaining.

Life is Good
I have been blessed with the ability to make a living. Not at writing, mind you. At least, not yet. But I do have a steady income that allows me to support my family. And that is truly something to be thankful for. When I’m not engaged in my profession or spending time with my family, though, I write. Not as fast as some, but I manage to crank out some work now and then.

And although everything is fine income-wise, you can’t just write a book, hit the publish button and move on to the next one. You have to market yourself and your work. Constantly. Otherwise no one will be able to find you in the sea of books out there—unless Oprah gets a copy somehow and offers up some free publicity. And the last time I checked, she wasn’t recommending books about zombies.

Good, Better, Best
So what’s a good way to get my name out there? Well, this website, of course. And Facebook. I created a Facebook page some time ago and I have built up a small but faithful group of followers. And I try not to pummel them with pleas to buy my book. That’s just cheesy.

I tried paying for Facebook ads, and that was a bust. It’s hard to draw a correlation between click-throughs and sales from Facebook, mainly because I don’t have access to the right analytics. But I never saw a real jump in sales when I ran my campaigns. I guess people would click through to the Amazon page, read the blurb, then bail. I tried targeting my ad appropriately, only going after people eighteen or older who like horror. Whatever …

What’s also effective is Goodreads. I have an author page over there too. I have run Goodreads campaigns in the past without a lot of success. But I did notice that I had slightly better sales than I did with Facebook. It makes sense, since Goodreads is about nothing but books.

Overall, a better approach is Twitter. And it’s free—unless you want to pay for sponsored tweets. Twitter is a great way to reach a lot of people through amplification. Here again, though, you shouldn’t only tweet things telling people why they should buy your book. You should offer up helpful links—or promote others’ books—in order to be a solid member of the community. That’s what I try to do. Have a look and see if you think I am behaving appropriately.

The best thing—the thing authors crave most—is word-of-mouth. That’s the best kind of advertising. People telling other people how good your book is and why they should buy it too. Remember Oprah? She is the empress of word-of-mouth. And people listen to her.

Did I Forget Anything?
I signed up for Pinterest, and for a while I was faithfully posting all kinds of pictures. Some people engaged with me there, but I never really saw the point of it all. My plan is to abandon Pinterest—and all the other social media sites I’ve signed up with over the years—and focus on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter. What about Google+? Sure, I use it. But I don’t feel like anyone ever really reads what people post there. I know I don’t. But, hey, if that’s where you like to hang out, you can easily find me there.

It’s lonely out here, let me tell you. I wish I had an intern. Too little time and too much untapped potential. But I do the best I can. We all do.

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Book Two Is Off to the Editor!

Photo Courtesy of Kate Gardiner via Creative Commons
1x1.trans Book Two Is Off to the Editor!Alert the media—I’m calling this thing done! In my last post I explained what I learned writing the sequel to Tell Me When I’m Dead. Well, since then I’ve received the feedback from my beta readers and have made some final changes to the novel based on their notes. Overall, the comments were positive, which is very encouraging. (There is nothing more fragile than a writer’s ego.) And I can’t wait to share the story with you. But first things first. Now the book must go through a proper edit. The cover design still needs to be completed and the eBook formatting remains to be done.

Speaking of covers, recently I had dinner in Boston with Kevin Asmus, the artist who provided that brilliant image for the first book’s cover. Discovering his work was pure serendipity and fit in perfectly with the book’s theme. This time, I commissioned Kevin to create a new cover for Book Two and I’m confident it’s going to be awesome.

Originally when I wrote Tell Me When I’m Dead, I thought of it as a standalone book. But as I got to the end, it became clear to me that there was a bigger story to tell. The protagonist, Dave Pulaski, was just coming into his own by the end of the story. I needed to allow Dave to find out how and why the plague was unleashed in Tres Marias. And I had to find a way to test him beyond his own limits.

I believe I’ve done that, but as I suspected I am still not done with this guy. So I’m going to write Book Three to finish the story. Yep, what started as a one-off zombie novel is now a trilogy. Who knew? I wonder how often that happens. I mean, when Suzanne Collins began writing The Hunger Games, did she already know it was going to be a trilogy? I have no idea. In my case, I was surprised.

For those of you who read the first book, thank you. I hope Book Two won’t disappoint. As I said, early feedback has been good, so I think you’re in for another roller coaster ride. Stay tuned. Next up, the cover reveal!

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What I Learned Finishing My Latest Book

Photo Courtesy of kr3st0 via Creative Commons
1x1.trans What I Learned Finishing My Latest BookSo where have I been the past few months? Off-world? In a way, yes. I’ve been holed up in my basement finishing the sequel to my zombie novel, Tell Me When I’m Dead. And let me tell you, there is no better feeling than typing that final word and calling it done. Much better than the funk I found myself in last November after NaNoWriMo when I only managed to bang out 25,000 words. Whew! So yesterday I sent a draft to my beta readers—whoo-hoo! After one more revision, I will send the book to my editor. By the time the cover, the editing and the formatting are complete, the book will be published in late summer—just like the last one. Cannot wait, my friends. I think I’ll celebrate by tearing into that Milky Way I’ve been saving.

So here’s the thing. Not only did I finish but I learned some lessons along the way. And I wanted to share those with you. Take them or leave them. I hope they help other writers out there.

Lesson 1—The Book Doesn’t Write Itself
Believe me, I’ve tested that theory. I have gone days without writing. When I get back to my computer, I am still at the same spot. No Microsoft Word fairy is clickety-clacking away while I watch old ‘Fringe’ episodes. This lesson is obvious to most people, but it wasn’t to me. Often, I think I fool myself. “Plenty of time,” I say. Well, guess what, there isn’t plenty of time. Time is finite, and we need to write. Also, I find that when I haven’t been writing for a while, I become irritable. Not good when you have a family.

So here’s a confession. I’ve been writing a long time and, for me, cranking out the words is hard. It’s not writer’s block, mind you. I have more ideas for books than I could ever execute on. No, it’s the actual sitting down and getting the words on paper. It takes me a long time to work things out. In reality, I am writing in my brain. I’ve covered this before—I don’t really outline. I have a general idea of where I need to go. I typically have a beginning, a middle and an end. But the twists and turns that make the story fun are what take me the longest to work out. And that takes time.

Lesson 2—Burst of Creativity Is a Myth
At least for me. It’s not the sprint to the finish line that gets the book written. It’s the slow and steady thing. Sitting down every day and writing something. Even if I haven’t worked it all out, I’ve found that if I just get on with it, sooner or later it comes together. Now, I can hear some of you chortling out there. “Well, if you had written an outline, you wouldn’t have this problem.” Guess what. I tried outlining years ago and here is what I found—I don’t stick to it. The thing seems so rote to me. When I get to actually writing scenes based on it, I find I hate it and I veer off in completely different directions. So, I might as well do that to begin with. Why waste weeks—or months—writing an outline when I could just write the damned novel?

There is a downside. Sometimes when I write forward to get to the next part of the story, I find that things have indeed taken a different turn—or have become more clear in my mind, necessitating a visit to earlier chapters where I must revise in order to match what happens later. But that’s okay. I’ll take that small inconvenience any day. Unless I’ve gone completely off the rails later in the book, I’ve found that the revisions are usually very minor and only require rewriting a paragraph or two, or adding a scene.

Lesson 3—Social Media Is a Sinkhole
There, I said it. If I had kept up with my normal schedule of blog posts and tweets, I would still be sitting here staring at my unfinished book, instead of writing this happy post. And I really felt guilty about it—at first. But somewhere along the way I came to the conclusion that I must finish the book. Nothing stood in my way. Okay, let me amend that. For me, there is nothing more important than family. There are lots of stories about famous writers who had horrible home lives because of their devotion to “the craft.” I don’t roll that way. Yes, I need to write but not at the expense of my family. My girls are growing up fast, and I don’t want to be lying in some retirement home someday with a bagful of regrets.

So, there you go. I’ll leave you with one small data point. Although I was virtually absent from the social media scene, the number of people following me has grown. Go figure. This makes me wonder if people even noticed I was gone! Actually, I don’t want to think too much about that, or I will start getting self-conscious. Then I’ll bring on a monster case of writer’s block for reals.

Now, check out Jerry Seinfeld. This, folks, is the writing process.

1x1.trans What I Learned Finishing My Latest Book

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Macy’s or Wal-Mart—Which Are You?

By Khalid Muhammad

1x1.trans Macy’s or Wal Mart—Which Are You?In this second in an occasional series, Khalid Muhammad, author of Agency Rules—Never an Easy Day at the Office, talks about something as important as writing your book—marketing it. Brand is crucial to an author’s success, and so is how you price your book. So who do you want to be?

Macy’s or Wal-Mart—which are you?

There is a reason that marketers get paid the big bucks—we know how to position and market your product for the highest return. There is also a reason that 99% of us hate to compete based on price—because the next guy that comes along at 10 cents cheaper is going to steal our customer. That is capitalism at its finest. It doesn’t matter if the product is better or not, if the price fits, the consumer will buy.

Why do they buy? Because you haven’t given them a reason to stay with your product, in this case your book. And therein lies the rub …

When we spend months writing our book, detached from family, losing sleep, and inhaling more caffeine and nicotine than our bodies know what to do with, we are doing it because we have a story to tell. We want the readers to be absorbed, engaged and interwoven into the words that we put on the page. We want them to escape into the lands that we create, feel the emotions of our characters, and savor the experience until our next book comes to market. So why do we price our books so low that real readers don’t touch them?

For most authors, they never think of the marketing side because they are too busy working on writing the actual book, which is much more important, nor do they have the capital to go out and hire someone to do the marketing for them. So they take on the task and find themselves competing for the Wal-Mart customer rather than catering to the Macy’s loyalists. Let’s stop for a second and talk about what that means.

I am a big fan of Wal-Mart. It’s a great place to shop, and wonderful people work there, but we all need to be clear—we don’t shop there because of the great quality, we shop there for the price. Because Wal-Mart buys in indecent quantity, they are able to offer a significantly lower price to the consumer so they don’t need to worry about quality. They just need to keep the shelves full. Now, look at Macy’s. They don’t care about price. They focus on quality and the experience of the consumer. The Macy’s shopper doesn’t spend their time waiting for the flyer, they just go and buy. Price is not the decision point for them, it’s quality and experience. So, you have to ask yourself, which one are you? Are you a price point or do you give the reader a fantastic experience? That’s a tough question because it affects your entire marketing strategy, book positioning, and sadly, your book sales. So let’s ask the question.

As an author, do you deliver a fantastic experience to the reader? Do you want to have loyal readers that send you emails, post on your Facebook page and hound you on twitter wanting to know when your next book will be out? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you need to think about the experience and forget the price.

Now, I’m not saying that you should jump your price to over $8 an e-book like the traditionally published authors, because you don’t carry the same expenses nor do you have a publisher that is hungry to generate obscene revenue from your hard work. This is your baby. This is your money and only you know how best to price it, so price it that way.

I know there are a bunch of authors out there who believe the best way to sell their books is to drop to a .99 price. But can I ask you a question—what do you think when you walk into a dollar store? Are you there because you want the best quality or are you there because you want to get some inexpensive things? Yeah, I thought so. The same applies to when you give something away for free. You got something for nothing, so what is it really worth to you? I should be clear this does not apply to the books you give away for reviews because that is also a marketing activity and good reviews sell books. But if the reviewer sees that the price of the book is below the price of a McDonald’s meal, they don’t take it with much value.

So I leave you this week with this question—as an author, are you Wal-Mart or Macy’s?

1x1.trans Macy’s or Wal Mart—Which Are You?

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About the Author
When people talk about Khalid Muhammad, they talk about an entrepreneur who has helped others build their dreams and businesses. They talk about a teacher, who is dedicated to his students, both inside and outside the classroom, and they return the dedication tenfold. Now, they talk about the author, who has written a fast-paced, action-packed spy thriller about Pakistan, the politics, the Army and terrorism.

Born in Pakistan’s troubled Swat Valley, educated and raised in the United States, Khalid returned to Pakistan almost 17 years ago and fell in love with his country.

You can find more information about Khalid and his novel at agencyrules.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

1x1.trans Macy’s or Wal Mart—Which Are You?

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It’s Spring—Time to Kill Some Zombies!

1x1.trans It’s Spring—Time to Kill Some Zombies!Wow, I thought this day would never come! Sorry, it’s just that I’ve been slaving away since last fall, trying to cook up a killer sequel to my zombie novel, Tell Me When I’m Dead. When I started on this journey over a year ago, along with Dave, Holly, Warnick and the others, I imagined that a story about an antihero forced to confront a plague of flesh-eating “draggers” in his little town of Tres Marias would essentially be a one-off—a roller coaster to hell that would explode into a fireball. Let the poor guy suffer, save his wife, kill the bad guys who, in the midst of the terror and the mayhem, want to take over the world. Then send him home.

The problem was, once I got through the craziness of twenty-seven chapters of running, fighting and killing, I realized that there was still so much to tell. How did the outbreak begin? Would those responsible ever be brought to justice? I just had to start a second book. Well, now that it’s finished, I can assure you, it’s going to be even darker and more hellish.

In the meantime, I wanted to give you the chance to read the first book—and save money, too. So from May 2nd through 6th, I am offering Tell Me When I’m Dead for 99 cents. (The normal price is $3.99.) So far, the book has received many four- and five-star reviews. Go ahead, have a look.

1x1.trans It’s Spring—Time to Kill Some Zombies!

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Amazon Reviews
“There’s a difference between reading a book and watching a movie. I can get scared with either, but there are scenes in books that I can picture vividly for a long long time afterward, and this book has plenty of those.”

“Holy cow, what a great page turner this was. I thoroughly enjoyed a hero that had issues, and was working through problems—definitely someone I could relate to. All the other character in the book- well written and also fun to read and learn about. Until you lost one. Then it’s “NO!! NOT HIM!” I tell you, Steven Ramirez kills more people than all the Whedon brothers combined!!”

“This is one helluva zombie book! Steven Ramirez takes us on a bloody, terrifying ride through this hell on Earth he’s created, giving us plenty of backstory to skillfully develop his awesome characters.”

“One word of advice: I don’t often yell at my eReader but I did after reading the last line of this book. I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t read this yet but I will tell you it left me a hot, angry mess. Why, oh why, isn’t there a sequel yet? Get on that, would you, Steven!”

“So fasten your seatbelts and take a wild slay ride into hell in North California where if you are lucky dinner will not be served on a splatter. A FIVE STAR gorefest and a must read for all zombie fans looking for something fresh and still warm.”

Blurb
If the zombies don’t kill you, people will.

Lucky to have made it to his early twenties, Dave Pulaski wandered through life lost and drunk with his best friend Jim. Then came Holly. She made it her mission to clean him up. And he finally did it. Two years sober, Dave has plans for a family, a steady job and college.

One night Jim disappears, leaving a grisly trail of animal carcasses and murdered bodies. Now Missy, the woman Dave cheated with, threatens to destroy not only his marriage but his sobriety. Between Missy’s jealous demands for attention and the police investigation focused on Jim’s disappearance, Dave’s neatly ordered world quickly spirals out of control.

Amid the wreckage of Dave’s personal life, a contagion brings chaos to his hometown of Tres Marias. The condition, known as “the jimmies,” infects hundreds and kills quickly. But the dead find no rest. They rise as ravenous flesh-eaters.

Dave soon learns that “not all draggers want to eat your flesh, some want revenge.” And Jim and Missy, both infected, each want something from Dave.

The quarantine of Tres Marias creates hell on Earth. Badly outnumbered security forces are no match for the growing hordes of undead.

Follow Dave, Holly and a small band of heavily armed soldiers and civilians as they fight to survive looters, paramilitary nut jobs and the zombie apocalypse.

If the zombies don’t kill them, the wackos surely will. Nowhere is safe.

1x1.trans It’s Spring—Time to Kill Some Zombies!

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Dancing with a Dead Horse—Cover Reveal

By Danielle DeVor

1x1.trans Dancing with a Dead Horse—Cover RevealOn April 30, 2014, the new novel by Danielle DeVor is hitting the shelves. Available on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook, this YA thriller will draw you in, closer and close— until it’s too late.

1x1.trans Dancing with a Dead Horse—Cover Reveal

Blurb
Sometimes lullabies aren’t soothing; they’re deadly.

Sixteen-year-old, Jason Miller, wants three things: to become a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, graduate from high school, and avoid his mother’s ballet classes.

When he finds the body of the most popular girl in school, he has a major freak-out session, and then calls 911. But if finding a body wasn’t bad enough, when a horse doll made of human skin and hair is found in his locker, the entire town accuses Jason of the murder.

As the body count rises, so does the hostility. Jason is left with a choice: To run and hide or to clear his name and find out why the killer is targeting him before it’s too late.

About the Author
Danielle DeVor spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching ‘Salem’s Lot’ way too many times. After living briefly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she moved back to her hometown to write. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a Mocha Frappuccino. She is also the “Fearless Blogger” for author Tina Moss’s blog.

Her books are available at Amazon:
Tail of the Devil
Constructing Marcus
Sorrow’s Point

You can find Danielle at danielledevor.wordpress.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

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