KU—Taking a Chance on Amazon

Photo Courtesy of Randi Deuro via Creative Commons
[Party Pooper]In my previous post I announced that I planned to make my horror thriller series TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD available in Kindle Unlimited. Well, I did it! This means that if you are a subscriber, you can now read all three books as part of your subscription, instead of paying for each one. That and the fact that there are well over a million Kindle titles makes the subscription a pretty good deal. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not here to sell you on Amazon’s subscription model. What I am doing is reaching out to those who already signed up or who have seriously contemplated doing so.

This was not an easy decision for me, because when you enroll your book in KDP Select (the program that enables authors to participate in Kindle Unlimited), you must be exclusive to Amazon. A lot of authors reject this kind of arrangement. They prefer having their books available in multiple distribution channels, hoping to increase sales by reaching readers everywhere, regardless of platform. And who doesn’t want more sales?

Reality 101
A harsh reality in the bookselling business—and one even detractors must accept—is that Amazon is the biggest fish in the pond. They sell more books than anyone else—even Wal-Mart—mostly due to low prices. Take a look at this recent eBook sales chart, courtesy of AuthorEarnings.

[AuthorEarnings Chart]
Overall Market Share of US Ebook Unit Sales Held by Each Retailer
And books aren’t the only category where they win. Take a look at this recent New York Times article where, regarding Wal-Mart, they write, “Amazon’s prices were lower on every item, in some cases substantially ($150 less for the dishwasher, $7 less for the Grisham book).” And what about convenience? Free two-day shipping for Prime customers? Hellz yeah! I never have to set foot in a store.

Now, you can love Amazon or hate them, but that’s the reality I am living in. So why not embrace it?

Free Books!
Here’s another benefit of being in the KDP Select program—I can run free book promotions. Granted, I may only do this for a maximum of five days out of every ninety, but free sometimes is better than free never, I always say. So why not let readers share the good times?

Reaching More Readers
I’ll admit, this is where things get tricky. Just because my books are available to KU subscribers to read “for free” doesn’t mean they will. As I mentioned before, there are well over a million titles to choose from, so how will anyone even discover me, let alone download my books? Well, that’s where some serious marketing comes in.

Nothing Is Forever
So, what if my little experiment doesn’t work out? I can always go back to the way things were—publishing my books at Barnes and Noble, iBookStore and Kobo, as well as at Amazon. The contract period lasts ninety days, and I can always choose not to renew.

For those who are not authors, you are probably wondering how in the world I get paid under this arrangement. Great question! Amazon has come up with a formula based on Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP). Essentially, the more pages of my book readers actually read, the more I get paid. As far as I can tell, Amazon is gaming the system, because there are stats floating around out there demonstrating that just because a person starts your book doesn’t mean they will finish it. Also, if you’re like me, I may have two or three books going at the same time. So I may not finish a particular book for a while. Some authors, like Joe Konrath, insist they are making money with Kindle Unlimited. Of course, I should mention that Joe has a humungous backlist. You can check out his post here.

How long do I plan to try this? Honestly, I have no idea. But, at a minimum, I am in the program for ninety days. Personally, I don’t think that’s enough time to measure success, so I will most likely stay in for at least two rounds. Either way, I will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you are a KU subscriber and you love horror thrillers, check out TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD. And don’t forget to read to the end!

[TMWID - 3D Transparent Shadow]

Big News—TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD Is Coming to KU!

[TMWID - 3D Transparent Shadow]Just a quick note to let you know that my horror thriller series TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD is coming to Kindle Unlimited. I’ll be talking more about this development in a future post.

What does this mean for readers now? Well, the main thing is, the books will now be exclusive to Amazon. No need to fret, though! If you are a KU subscriber, you can read all three books as part of your subscription. And if you aren’t, I will be offering occasional discounts on the series.

You can check out the series here. Looking forward to connecting with more readers.

TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD 99-Cent Halloween Sale!

[TMWID - 3D Transparent Shadow]Happy Halloween, everybody! If you’re too old to trick or treat—well, you’re never too old, but stay with me here—but you love munching on candy corn while reading horror, then here’s a great way to get your scare on. Why not pick up all three books in the horror thriller series TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD for ninety-nine cents each? Come on, that’s a savings of nine dollars! You can check out the series here.

This sale runs through Sunday, so do it now!

Tell Me When I’m Dead | Dead Is All You Get | Even The Dead Will Bleed

Book One—Tell Me When I’m Dead

[TMWID 3D Cover (Small)]Thanks to his wife, Holly, recovering alcoholic Dave Pulaski is getting his life back. Then a contagion decimates the town, turning its victims into shrieking flesh-eaters. Now Dave and Holly must find a way to survive. But Dave is this close to drinking again. A woman he cheated with—and no longer human—is after him. The hordes of undead are growing and security forces are outnumbered. Hell has arrived in Tres Marias.

Tell Me When I’m Dead (Book One of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD) is about an antihero haunted by all the mistakes of his life. Facing a terrifying future, Dave must decide whether to die drunk or fight for those he cares about most. And strength alone won’t be enough—he’ll need Faith. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then follow Dave and Holly as they fight against looters, paramilitary crazies and the undead. “A hard-hitting splattergore zombie thriller, told by the ultimate antihero” (Travis Luedke).

Where to Buy
Amazon

Book Two—Dead Is All You Get

[DIAYG 3D Cover (Small)]After months of fighting the undead ravaging the town of Tres Marias, Dave Pulaski and his wife, Holly, catch a break when Black Dragon Security suddenly shows up to rescue them. But things are about to get worse. The virus is mutating. Now, driven to discover the truth behind the contagion while struggling to protect Holly and those closest to him, Dave is pushed beyond the limits of faith and reason.

Dead Is All You Get (Book Two of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD) combines the best elements of horror, dark fantasy and sci-fi, taking the reader on a relentless, tortured journey of survival that tests the strength of one man’s character and delves into the role Faith plays when he is confronted by the worst kind of evil—the evil in humans. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then read this mind-blowing sequel. And leave the lights on. “A shoot first then shoot again horror thriller of the highest order” (Simon Oneill).

Where to Buy
Amazon

Book Three—Even The Dead Will Bleed

[ETDWB 3D Cover (Small)]Dave Pulaski is headed to Los Angeles to kill Walt Freeman, the person responsible for devastating Tres Marias. But everything changes when he rescues Sasha, a Russian girl who escaped the facility where Walt was holding her. Pursued by a relentless ex-military sociopath working for Walt and by scientifically engineered humans who flay their victims alive, chances are that Dave will die before he can save Sasha.

Even The Dead Will Bleed (Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD) is a dark fantasy, sci-fi thriller—a nonstop horror train—that will deliver Dave to the brink of Hell. Revenge is a powerful drug that can drive a man to do unspeakable things. But as he will learn, Faith can give him the courage to face death without fear. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then don’t miss the heart-pounding conclusion to this trilogy. “Faith and bravery band together to fight a horrific world turned upside down and inside out” (S.R. Mallery).

Where to Buy
Amazon

Tell Me When I’m Dead | Dead Is All You Get | Even The Dead Will Bleed

TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD Book Three Is Published!

[ETDWB 3D Cover (Small)]Steven Ramirez releases the final book in his horror thriller series, taking the action to Los Angeles.

Antihero Dave Pulaski returns one last time to rescue an innocent girl and kill the man who devastated his home, but dark forces will deliver him to the brink of Hell.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — October 15, 2015 — In Even The Dead Will Bleed (Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD), Dave Pulaski is headed to Los Angeles to kill Walt Freeman, a powerful Washington insider responsible for bringing down Hell on Tres Marias. Walt runs a company called Baseborn Identity Research, which is conducting secret human experiments. When Dave arrives at the facility, he realizes that someone has escaped and discovers Sasha, a frightened nineteen-year-old Russian girl. When she says, “Don’t let them find me,” he decides to help her in spite of his obsession to go after Walt.

Sasha tells Dave that she was a prisoner, along with other young women. Though he wants nothing more than to return her to her brother Vlad and get on with his mission, he learns that Trower—a relentless ex-military sociopath working for Walt—is after them both! And Trower and the Russian girl aren’t Dave’s only problems.

“Cutters,” scientifically engineered humans with a craving for meat, also escaped the facility. And they are now hunting in the open, flaying their victims alive. The cops are calling these killings The Skeleton Murders and are suggesting that they might be tied to a satanic cult. Dave knows better. When he meets Maritza Lopez, a news reporter covering the killings, she tells him that she is also trying to get to the truth and needs his help.

Dave, along with Maritza and Vlad, must find a way to keep the Russian girl away from Walt and Trower. And he must expose the conspiracy that holds the city of Los Angeles in the grip of terror. Chances are, he will die before he can complete his mission.

Even The Dead Will Bleed (Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD) is a nonstop horror train—that will deliver Dave to the brink of Hell. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then don’t miss the heart-pounding conclusion to this trilogy.

“Revenge is a powerful drug. It can drive a man to do things—unspeakable things—all in the name of justice. But Faith can give him the courage to face death without fear.” –Steven Ramirez

Even The Dead Will Bleed by Steven Ramirez is the third and final book of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD, published by the author in 2015 and available in these formats: Kindle (ISBN 978-0-9898718-6-0), ePub (ISBN 978-0-9898718-7-7) and PDF (ISBN 978-0-9898718-8-4).

Even The Dead Will Bleed is both a visual and visceral horror thriller—a journey of science gone wrong and revenge that compels the reader to ask such disturbing questions as …

… How far can a man take revenge and still call it justice?

… Is a human life still precious, even when it came from something evil?

… How will a man live his life if he manages to survive Hell?

Book Blurb

[ETDWB Cover (Medium)]

Dave Pulaski is headed to Los Angeles to kill Walt Freeman, the person responsible for devastating Tres Marias. But everything changes when he rescues Sasha, a Russian girl who escaped the facility where Walt was holding her. Pursued by a relentless ex-military sociopath working for Walt and by scientifically engineered humans who flay their victims alive, chances are that Dave will die before he can save Sasha.

Even The Dead Will Bleed (Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD) is a dark fantasy, sci-fi thriller—a nonstop horror train—that will deliver Dave to the brink of Hell. Revenge is a powerful drug that can drive a man to do unspeakable things. But as he will learn, Faith can give him the courage to face death without fear. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then don’t miss the heart-pounding conclusion to this trilogy. “Faith and bravery band together to fight a horrific world turned upside down and inside out” (S.R. Mallery).

Where to Buy
Amazon

Cover Reveal and a Chance to Win a Free Book

Photo Courtesy of David Yu via Creative Commons
[Flickr 5.25 Party]We’re getting close, folks. Book Three of my horror thriller series will be published this month. Whoo-hoo! Okay, you couldn’t see that, but I just gave myself a high-five. Ouch …

To kick things off, you can find the cover and book blurb below. Also, I’m excited to tell you that my friend Kevin Asmus has created new covers for the whole series. If you get a chance, check out Book One and Book Two on Amazon.

Those who have signed up for my newsletter will be notified first when Book Three is available for purchase. For those who have not signed up for my newsletter, what are you waiting for? You can do so by visiting stevenramirez.com/newsletter.

And don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter the Rafflecopter contest, which runs from October 8th through the 14th. I’ll be giving away five copies of Book Two, Dead Is All You Get. Good luck!

And now, here it is. The cover of Even The Dead Will Bleed, Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD.

Cover and Book Blurb

[Even The Dead Will Bleed Cover]

Dave Pulaski is headed to Los Angeles to kill Walt Freeman, the person responsible for devastating Tres Marias. But everything changes when he rescues Sasha, a Russian girl who escaped the facility where Walt was holding her. Pursued by a relentless ex-military sociopath working for Walt and by scientifically engineered humans who flay their victims alive, chances are that Dave will die before he can save Sasha.

Even The Dead Will Bleed (Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD) is a dark fantasy, sci-fi thriller—a nonstop horror train—that will deliver Dave to the brink of Hell. Revenge is a powerful drug that can drive a man to do unspeakable things. But as he will learn, Faith can give him the courage to face death without fear. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then don’t miss the heart-pounding conclusion to this trilogy. “Faith and bravery band together to fight a horrific world turned upside down and inside out” (S.R. Mallery).

A TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD Teaser

[Steven Ramirez]What a year it’s been—whew! I wanted to give you a quick update on where I am with Book Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD, which is the new name of my horror thriller series. As you know, Book One and Book Two are available now. Book Three is back from the editor and ready for formatting. My friend Kevin Asmus is finishing up the covers for all three books, and soon I plan to do a cover reveal. More on that later.

Though I’m not ready to tell you the name of the third book, I wanted to give you a little taste of what to expect. So I decided to create a word cloud based on the book description, using an outstanding program written by Jason Davies. I hope you like it.

[ETDWB Word Cloud]

Authors and the Indie Supply Chain

Photo Courtesy of Ford Motor Company via Creative Commons
[Ford Europe]I’m really hoping that this post isn’t as boring as the title suggests. I wanted to accomplish two things today—tell you where I am with Book Three and talk a little about indie authors who are responsible for controlling their own publishing supply chain. I’ll keep it short, I promise.

If you are a longtime visitor to the site, you’ll know that a couple of years ago I wrote a horror-thriller called Tell Me When I’m Dead. Last year, I followed that up with Book Two, Dead Is All You Get. I’m happy to report that both novels have been getting excellent reviews. This year, I plan to publish the third and final book in the series. Sorry, no title today. I will let you know that when I do the cover reveal in the next month or so.

What Is a Supply Chain, Anyway?
Investopedia defines a supply chain as …

The network created amongst different companies producing, handling and/or distributing a specific product. Specifically, the supply chain encompasses the steps it takes to get a good or service from the supplier to the customer.

In publishing, the supply chain is made up of all of the steps involved in bringing out a book. For print, that includes the actual manufacturing and distribution. For eBooks, it’s mostly focused on editing, formatting and cover design.

Does Self-Publishing Mean Faster?
You bet. I’ve heard other traditionally published authors squawk about the lag between submitting their manuscript to the publisher and actually seeing the thing appear on the book store shelves. We’re talking eighteen months to two years, people. Unacceptable!

Aside from the fact that, potentially, I can make more money selling my own books, shrinking the window from pen to Amazon is a huge plus.

But …
It’s not all chocolate and roses, though. As an indie author, I am essentially in business for myself. And until I can afford to hire an intern, I am pretty much doing everything myself—including marketing. What does that mean? Well, I am a terrible artist. And I don’t know jack about PhotoShop. So I must rely on a cover designer. My choice is Deborah Bradseth over at Tugboat Design.

When it comes to editing, my manuscripts are generally in pretty good shape when I am finished. But editors are a critical and necessary part of the supply chain. They always find things you missed. I’m not talking typos—I mean problems having to do with consistency in character behavior, unresolved storylines, and just plain clunky sentence structure. Currently, I work with a number of editors.

Then there’s the formatting. I tried doing this myself, but there are so many subtleties around eBooks and the devices that display them, it’s not worth it to me to mess with that crap. So I use a professional formatter, JW Manus. She’s smart and efficient, and she delivers a quality product every time.

What’s in It for You?
Back to my new novel. I plan to get Book Three out before the end of the year. In addition, I have asked my artist friend, Kevin Asmus, to create new images for all three books. These will be more cohesive, series-wise, and I really hope you like them. And as if that isn’t enough, I am rebranding the series. Whew!

Sometime in the spring, I plan to finally publish the print versions of these books. Yay! But that is yet another step in the supply chain that requires even more planning. I’ll be doing this through CreateSpace. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I am currently offering Books One and Two for 99 cents. They normally sell for $3.99 each. If you haven’t picked them up yet, now’s your chance to save a little cash. Happy reading!

Tell Me When I’m Dead

[Tell Me When I’m Dead Cover]

Available at Amazon

Thanks to his wife, Holly, recovering alcoholic Dave Pulaski is getting his life back. Then a contagion decimates the town, turning its victims into shrieking flesh-eaters. Now Dave and Holly must find a way to survive. But Dave is this close to drinking again. A woman he cheated with—and no longer human—is after him. The hordes of undead are growing and security forces are outnumbered. Hell has arrived in Tres Marias.

Tell Me When I’m Dead (Book One of THE DEAD SERIES) is about an antihero haunted by all the mistakes of his life. Facing a terrifying future, Dave must decide whether to die drunk or fight for those he cares about most. And strength alone won’t be enough—he’ll need Faith. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then follow Dave and Holly as they fight against looters, paramilitary crazies and the undead. “A hard-hitting splattergore zombie thriller, told by the ultimate antihero” (Travis Luedke).

Dead Is All You Get

[Dead Is All You Get Cover]

Available at Amazon

After months of fighting the undead ravaging the town of Tres Marias, Dave Pulaski and his wife, Holly, catch a break when Black Dragon Security suddenly shows up to rescue them. But things are about to get worse. The virus is mutating. Now, driven to discover the truth behind the contagion while struggling to protect Holly and those closest to him, Dave is pushed beyond the limits of faith and reason.

Dead Is All You Get (Book Two of THE DEAD SERIES) combines the best elements of horror, dark fantasy and sci-fi, taking the reader on a relentless, tortured journey of survival that tests the strength of one man’s character and delves into the role Faith plays when he is confronted by the worst kind of evil—the evil in humans. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then read this mind-blowing sequel. And leave the lights on. “A shoot first then shoot again horror thriller of the highest order” (Simon Oneill).

Writing Horror That Appeals to Women

Photo Courtesy of Nathan O’Nions via Creative Commons
[Woman in Forest]So I want to talk about the experience I’ve had writing my horror-thriller series. Books One and Two are available now, and I recently sent the third book in the trilogy off to the editor. When I started writing about Dave Pulaski and the nightmare he awakened to in Tres Marias, a small fictional Northern California town, I didn’t set out to appeal specifically to men or women. I simply had an idea I wanted to try and set out to tell the best story I knew how.

Well, many months have passed, and I’ve noticed from a lot of the Amazon reviews that women seem to like these books. A lot. Now, I’m not trying to piss anyone off here by engaging in lame stereotypes, but frankly I was surprised. Books One and Two deal with an outbreak that’s responsible for creating a town filled with the ravening undead—a solid formula for attracting hardcore male readers. Looking back at what I wrote, I’m going to be so bold as to lay out some principles that made these stories women-friendly. And I would like nothing better than to have female readers respond, telling me that I am full of crap. Here goes …

1. The Writing Has to Be Good
This goes for male and female readers. Thanks to Amazon and others, it’s insanely easy to self-publish. And as a result, there’s a lot of drivel out there. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been sucked in by an interesting cover, only to discover that the author has published what is essentially an amateurish first draft.

I’m not saying, by any stretch of the imagination, that I am a brilliant writer. But I put a lot of work into my writing, and I do everything I can to ensure that what I end up with has been properly edited. So you can rest assure that when you pick up one of these novels, you’re going to get a professionally produced product.

2. It Has to Be about More than Horror
Okay, writing horror is fun. The genre is wide open and allows the author to go places that most literary fiction would blanch at. But stories should be about people. Things will happen, but it’s what the evil does to the characters that matters. Some will become heroes, others will hide, and still others will succumb to the evil.

My books feature all kinds of characters. And for the most part, they are flawed—especially Dave, the protagonist in this series. But that’s what it means to be human. Somehow, we must overcome our shortcomings and do something amazing in the face of Hell.

3. Redemption Is Key
Sure, there are plenty of stories out there that end with everyone dying. Those aren’t for me. I prefer to see a character go through the worst hell imaginable, then somehow survive—a changed person. Sounds like the Hero’s Journey, doesn’t it?

Look, I don’t know whether men like to read about characters who are redeemed. Hell, I don’t even know if women do. I’m going by my gut here, people. And my gut tells me that redemption is essential to any good story.

4. There Needs to Be a Love Story
In the midst of all the blood and the screaming, there is a strong undercurrent of Love in my series—the love between Dave and his wife Holly. I don’t think I would have written these books had there not been a love story. I have no idea if this element made for a grand story that is attractive to women. But I’m pretty sure that most men who read horror don’t give a rat’s tushy.

Comments, anyone?

Book Three Is Off to the Editor!

Photo Courtesy of Alessandro Baffa via Creative Commons
[Wedding Party]Hey, guys, I wanted to let you know that I reached a major milestone this week on the long road to finishing up my horror-thriller series. I’ve just finished Book Three and have sent it off to the editor. Now the real fun begins. Over the next few weeks I will update you on how things are shaping up in terms of a cover. Also, I wanted to let you know that I am in the process of rebranding the series. Stay tuned for some interesting news about that.

This has been quite a journey. When I started out writing Tell Me When I’m Dead, I honestly believed this would be a one-off story about a zombie outbreak in a small town in Northern California. But when I got to the end, it was painfully clear to me that Dave’s story wasn’t over. He had a lot more killing to do. So I started Book Two, Dead Is All You Get.

Now, everyone knows that you can’t have a series with just two books, so after finishing that one, I was compelled to start on Book Three. Don’t worry—there’s no Book Four planned! I think I did a pretty good job of wrapping things up with good ol’ Dave. Of course, the reader will be the ultimate judge. What to expect? Well, for one thing, the action has moved to Los Angeles. So get ready for some gritty, nail-biting thrills—the kind that seem to follow Dave like a rabid dog—in the land of ‘Sharknado’ and collagen-infused lips.

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for more breaking news as it develops. And remember, monsters are real. Seriously, they’re real.