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?

“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.”

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!

[Dead Is All You Get Cover]

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.”