Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Your Kindle Cover Says About You (Infographic)


Just in case you can't pull up the image on your mobile device, here's the text version!

The Timbuk2 Messenger Bag says, “Hey world, I’m a busy metropolitan guy, but I’m not too busy to read. But I’m busy. Not too busy to stay organized- look, I got a snack, some water, and a bike lock, I’m prepared for ANYTHING!”

”But, still. BUSY. You’re gonna need to walk a little faster to keep up- I’m not your avergae reader with some flat, rinky-dink kindle cover, okay? Because the avergae kindle cover would not provide nearly enough room for my water, bike lock and snack (apple).”

“Can I hang the keys to my bike lock and safe (don’t ask) from the average Kindle cover? NO. I’ve tried. It’s a disaster. Where would my sunglasses go on a traditional Kindle Cover? Draped over the front like it’s a shirt collar? Gross. What am I, a farmer? No. I already told you, I’m a BUSY metro- politan man. And I need a Kindle bag that can keep up.”


The his and hers Belkin Pleated Kindle Sleeve are adorable... individually. How you integrate these into your relationship is up to you, but “his and hers” anything is a dangerous game, friend.

I offer a simple warning: (pictures of idiots)


The Eco-nique Hemp Case says, “I’m not afriad to get my hands dirty, to till the soil, commune with nature. It also says I’m not afraid of hemp, the most resilient and dynamic plant in the world, which is actually not marijuana, man, it’s basically completely different, okay? Did you know until 1954 farmers had to grow hemp? BY LAW. For food, fuel, textiles... I’m just saying, bro, it’s a miracle plant, and, and, and...

”I digress. As the great Voltaire once wrote, “cultivate your garden.” Commune with the earth, even while reading digital e-books. Sure, Voltaire probably wasn’t envisioning a Kindle reader cover, but can you prove that? Can you prove it, man? It’s from the EARTH. And we just ignore it? Or import if from the Chinese? Bro, what are we thinking? We could grow it here, TOMORROW, and, and, and...”


The Periscope Flip Cover is the Lincoln Town Car of Kindle covers. Meaning, old people drive it. Or, in this case, cover their kindle with it.

That’s not a knock- it’s sturdy, smooth, well lit, secure... You know how people say, “This isn’t your grandfather’s so-and-so”? Well, this is your grandfather’s so-and-so, and he’s having a pleasant experience.

By the way, if a product description includes the phrase “stylish and functional,” the product you’re looking at is solely functional.


The CathyKDesigns handmade Kindle covers say, “I’m not afraid to carry around a swatch of wallpaper from the early 70’s, and read from it. In fact, it matches this macrame purse I picked up at the thrift store (the one I always wear with the leggings from H&M, yeah, with the horizontal stripes).

Yes, I went to art school, why? What’s that supposed to mean? Vintage is in, okay? Vintage will ALWAYS be in, okay? That’s why they call it “vintage” and not “old.”

“Hey, look, just because you’re a 9 to 5 coporate drone doesn’t mean I have to be. Yes, I’m a barista for a very famous coffee company from Seattle, but it’s not like I own the company. Whatever. Starbuckcs was a mom-and-pop store once, too, okay?

Where are you going? Take this flyer first, we’re really good. We’re like The Pixies meets Phillip Glass. We go on at 1:00 am, okay? You’ll come?”


The leather and Moleskine Kindle covers scream with quiet dignity, silently commanding onlookers to both admire the classic, understated design while politely suggesting they look away quickly, as you are not one who wishes to be ogled, like some attention whore with a floral-print Etsy cover.

You’re welcome to admire from a distance, of course. Out of respect for the craftsmanship and the fine leather or moleskine. What’s that? It makes me look like a writer? Thank you! I mean, that’s not why I bought it. I am a writer, but it’s not like I have to announce it to the whole world.

Pardon me, for just a second, will you? I’m going to make a note in the moleskine cover- yes, it comes with a moleskine notepad inside. No, I don’t think that’s cliché at all! It’s helpful, for moments like... well, perhaps it’s a tad cliché (he smiles).

What’s the note about? Nothing. Just a little trifle. If you must know, I’ve just had an idea for a short story about a reclusive writer who happens to take his moleskine-covered e-reader on the train one day where a beautiful woman is intrigued by his understated but classic taste in e-reader covers, and the two strike up a conversation and quickly fall madly in love, and...

Author’s note: at this point she either runs away or blushes, but I don’t think it matters which, because you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and you went for it, all because of your classic but understated e-reader cover!


The Verso Kindle Antique says “Game of Thrones. I’m reading Game of Thrones.”

This is the Kindle cover you buy when you have a dragon fetish, or a George R.R. Martin poster in your room.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that- I just started A Dance With Dragons, though I do not have a George R.R. Martin poster in my room. It’s in my study, where he silently judges me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cool Promo Ideas for Authors #2: Sell Your Book on Facebook

Today I'm going to show you how to sell your book directly from your Facebook fan page!

How to add a shopping cart to your Facebook Fan Page:

I use the Ecwid app to easily install a store and shopping cart on my Facebook pages. After creating the backend (upload images, add a description, set pricing and social media interaction controls), adding the app to your fan page is super-simple. Watch the video tutorial to find out how.

Why is the Ecwid app a game-changer?

You're a self-published author. You've made your book available everywhere books are sold online- Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, iTunes for iPhone and iPad- and now you're desperately trying to get your Facebook friends and fans to leave Facebook in order to buy your masterpiece.

The problem is, nobody wants to leave Facebook. In fact, Facebook doesn't want you to leave Facebook, and they're rapidly changing their mega-site to keep you there longer.

One of the most useful ways they're doing this is by allowing brands (that means YOU) to integrate stores and shopping carts to Facebook Fan pages. So, as soon as you make a new fan, you can sell them your book, instantly.

How Can I Sell My Book Directly to My Fans?

If you have a store and shopping cart integrated into your fan page, you can sell to your fans without asking them to leave their desired social media experience.

This is a game-changer for independent artists, because it means every penny spent on building Facebook fans is now driving them to a store, and not a blog!

My company handles Facebook and YouTube marketing campaigns for films, filmmakers and authors, and one of the greatest advances we've seen in liberating artists is the integration of the store/shopping cart.

It's hard to overstate the value of this app, so I urge you to watch the video, integrate a store and shopping cart into your Facebook fan page, and tell your fans to check it out.

Over the next five years, people are going to grow accustomed to shopping on Facebook just as we do on Amazon. By adding a store/cart now, you're ahead of the curve.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Gay Bomb, Explained

Before it was a book, the Gay Bomb was just a twinkle in some military scientist's eye...

In 1997 the United States military floated a proposal to create an aphrodisiac bomb that would arouse the enemy to the point of distraction, leaving them vulnerable to American offenses. A few news outlets covered the story when the existence of the proposal was discovered by a FoIA request from the Sunshine Project.

However, the story only gained traction in internet forums, in passing moments between friends, and in the mind of filmmaker Ryan Gielen. Yes, I am Ryan Gielen, and I am writing about myself in the third person. Why? Because I'm self-publishing and marketing my own book, and I'd prefer not to pretend that I have a well-paid staff of hungry young interns creating a tidal wave of social media propelling my book into the pop culture canon (third person resuming now).

Gielen has compiled every video of the "gay bomb" story into one place, so you can see the chuckling, dismissive reaction that the news was greeted with. For Gielen, however, the proposal sparked the idea for Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon, a dark satire of the nation's fear of gays, told through the viewpoint of an aging, tired general who thought he had the world all figured out.

Check out the links below to buy the book.

Order the Paperback
Buy for Nook
Buy for Kindle
Buy for iPad/iPhone
Buy for Sony Reader
Buy the PDF

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Best Booze for INDIE Bestsellers!

By popular demand! Best Books for INDIE Bestsellers!

For those who can't view on mobile devices, here is the text version!

Best Booze for Best Sellers, by Someone Who Has Only Read a Few of Them!

Saving Rachel (Donovan Creed)
by John Locke
Ex-Cia assassin Donovan Creed races to save… wait for it... Rachel.
2.5 oz Gin
0.25 oz Dry Vermouth
1 Green Olive
(Locke was the first self-published author to sell a million ebooks! With that kind of bread you can afford to indulge in a fine traditional martini with Donovan Creed)

How I Became a Famous Novelist
by Steve Hely
A novel about a novelist writing novels.
Whiskey, rocks
(Tortured writers drink Whiskey… mixed with a dash of tears and a couple ounces of regret. Just kidding! Hely's book is a lot less bleak!)

by Curt Finch
A cheeky British adventure involving well-tailored suits chasing international terrorists.
Pink Panther
2 shots Vodka
6 oz Pink Lemonade Mix
Mix and pour over chipped ice
(Written with cinematic influences, and reviews include: "a truly memorable debut!" Funny, globetrotting journalists with British accents? I'm in.)

Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon
by Ryan Gielen
A military experiment goes horribly wrong and turns an entire platoon gay.
Veuve Clicquot Champagne
Chill. Drink. Chill.
(Takes place at the start of the new millennium. What better way to ring in the new century than with some fabulous soldiers and bubbly! Reviews: "Great characters, clever, just too edgy." In other words, awesome.)

The Final Appearance of America's Favorite Girl Next Door
by Stephen Stark
Adventurous love story following a female standup comedian? Sold.
The Bradford
2 oz Gin
2 oz St. Germain
2 squeezes fresh lime
Muddled cucumber
1 splash soda
(Broke comedians can barely afford gin, but The Bradford is so good it can make the worst gin pop. Originall created at Good restaurant in NYC's West Village, by bartender… wait for it… Rob Bradford.)

The Final Appearance of America's Favorite Girl Next Door
by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés
Exhausted parents curse at kids, and its cathartic
Blue Moon Beer
Chill, drink straight from the bottle
(Sweet and thick, citrus, with 5.4% alcohol by volume, guaranteed to be the sweetest knockout punch ever. Maybe slip a little into baby's bottle (my German grandmother's recipe from the old country).)

The Final Appearance of America's Favorite Girl Next Door
by Chris Culler
Devil Wears Prada meets Swimming With Sharks. Sex and the City (of Angels).
Anything in a flask
Fill flask, keep in bag, or under front seat
(If you really, really miss Carrie and… I have no idea what the rest of their names were… Have a Martini or whatever they drank. But, I guarantee you real assistants party way harder than that!)

Fifty Shades of Grey
by EL James
College girl falls for a hot per, gets tied up and enjoys it. This book is the scourge of the 'burbs!
Chateau Margaux 1995
1000 year old vintage
Hints of Blackberry
(This indie bestseller is spreading through the 'burbs like a case of sexual shingles. Gross! Supposedly the book is pretty hot, so why Chateau Margaux? If you're gonna indulge, freakin' indulge!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Infographic: Best Booze for Bestsellers

Ever stared at your liquor cabinet and wondered how to rationalize making one of everything? Good! I thought I was the only one. This infographic should help- we've picked the perfect drink for any reading occasion!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Book Sample: Chapter 2

I've received requests to post more of the book as a sample, so I'm going to post Chapter 2, where we meet the hapless villains. Included: links at the bottom to purchase the book on every conceivable digital platform... if you're intrigued by what you read here ;)

Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon, Chapter 2

         Burnam carefully outlined her hips, then erased and recast her waistline to accentuate the curves beneath her black panties. He paused, studied his work, and erased her waistline again. He despised women with large waistlines, and square bodies, he thought, he despised those, too. Women should be curved in all the right places, only the right places, like his mother, god rest her soul. Now, there was a woman, he thought.
         Burnam brought the waistline in on his doodle and whipped his pencil off the page with a flourish. On paper the pinup stood, her right knee angled in, her right hand on her hip, a cigarette in the other, tight black curls falling from her head.
         I should’ve been an artist, he thought. What does it pay, drawing? I bet the women are better. Just look at this one, she’s stunning, he thought.
         He imagined being fucked by her. He preferred to lie still while the woman rode him. Truthfully, he was usually paralyzed by fear when naked in front of a woman, and thus had no choice. Once, in Vietnam, on a lark he told the prostitute to order him around like his superiors did, and the moment blossomed into something beautiful for Burnam.
         She embraced her chance to mock him and the soldiers she had watched overrun her home, and put on an inspired performance barking orders, pacing through the room, even grabbing Burnam’s pistol off the floor and waving it around wildly, pretending to shoot it into the air to punctuate each command, which is how she imagined the American soldiers approached their work. Her enthusiasm for the role allowed Burnam to escape the terrifying reality of his nudity by responding exactly as he would back at the war: by simply following orders.
         She ordered him to lie on his stomach. What happened next shook Burnam to his core. Straddling his bare back, the prostitute jammed Burnam’s face into the pillow and, without warning, shoved one of her tiny fingers into Burnam. He screamed into the pillow. She pushed deeper, and a wave of pain shot through him and he screamed again.
         But, he did not roll over. He did not throw her off and halfway across the room, as he envisioned doing. He did not, in short, resist. After all, he was a good soldier, just following orders.
         Burnam panted and began to sweat, opened his eyes and tried to focus them on the headboard, to regain some sense of place and time, but the prostitute, sensing the slightest loss of control, forged ahead, again.
         Suddenly the pain was gone. The surge of adrenaline and the raw eroticism of violating and being violated overtook Burnam, and the tips of his fingers and toes began to tingle. He traced the thin line of sensation as it raced from his forearms, neck and spine, down through his thighs and calves and back again.
         “You love me now,” she whispered, after a short silence.
         Burnam dressed himself quickly, frightened that staying in the room now would somehow alert his friends to what he had just done, and could never undo. He wanted the moment to die, the witness to disappear, the reality to- through some strange shift in the cosmos which he could not comprehend or create- become simply an erotic fiction he had dreamed under a shady tree in the jungle.
         He considered killing her, but it was a fleeting thought. He had killed plenty of gooks who actually deserved to die, for which he knew he was still right with God. But allowing a gook to finger you, and then killing her… How would the Big Man react to the double offenses of sodomy and murder on the same day, he wondered? Not well, probably.
         Burnam never returned, and never paid for sex again during the war. His masturbation rituals, however, took on a new and daring complexity. He discovered beads and lotions, learning to insert and remove and lube and rub in almost perfect silence, for you are never alone on a military base, even when you are alone.
         Burnam took chances, stupid chances. He once gagged himself at three a.m., lying in his top bunk, and masturbated vigorously in the darkened silence. Lost in the majesty of his orgasm, he forgot to remove the makeshift gag, and thus awoke with a t-shirt tied around his head, soaking all the moisture out of his mouth and throat. It was only by the grace of God that he awoke moments before his sergeant burst into the barracks, and he was able to rip the t-shirt off, and part of his tongue with it. When he tried to scream he could only cough, and so tumbled out of bed coughing blood directly onto the sergeant’s shoes. The sergeant, who had previously made plain his disgust at Burnam’s general shyness, which he equated to weakness, was so infuriated by the blemishing of his shoes he remanded Burnam to clean them daily. Though Burnam detested his new role as slave to the sergeant, it was a small price to pay for the moments of glorious solitude he collected each morning as he trudged across the barracks to shine the sleeping sergeant’s shoes.
         Emboldened by the near failure, Burnam became reckless, masturbating in bathroom stalls, behind trees, under the table in his favorite gook café while sipping jasmine tea. It was this curious abandon that led Burnam to huddle behind the jeep with a string of beads dangling from his hand one sweltering afternoon, summoning the courage to succumb to temptation.
         He had never inserted anything in broad daylight, certainly never while on patrol, but there was a first time for everything, he thought, and why not today? If the U.S. Military expects me to stay sane during this quagmire, shouldn’t I be allowed to indulge myself every once in a while, he thought? Won’t that help me be all that I can be? In some twisted way, he reasoned, I’m doing this for my country. This one is for America, he thought. And thus, with great patriotic zeal, Private Walt Burnam unlatched his belt, dropped his pants, and inserted a string of four beads into his rectum while on patrol just south of the 17th parallel.
         Exactly three minutes later Burnam held the string in front of his face, staring at the three beads that remained. He could hear his heartbeat rattle through his shirt, echoes of imagined gasps and laughter ringing his ears, his remaining months in Vietnam suddenly becoming very, very lonely. He couldn’t go to the medics, they played poker with the mechanics. He couldn’t go to his platoonmates, providing the appropriate context would take hours.
         Burnam gingerly shuffled with the tiniest of strides back to his barracks. He clenched his cheeks, attempting to stop the bead’s shifting, but each step further bludgeoned the soft tissue with the wooden, marble-sized tumor stuck inside of him.
Inside the empty barracks he fell to his knees and began to crawl to the bathroom. He fought back tears and cursed this day as the unluckiest of his life.
         A curious sound interrupted his internal monologue and he stopped, suspended on one knee and one hand, listening. Was he imagining the soft whimpering echoing throughout the barracks, or was he making the noise himself, the cry ringing in his ears yet to spill out of his mouth?
         Frozen, Burnam realized the whimpering was growing steadily louder. Now he was certain the noise was not coming from his own mouth, though he empathized with it deeply. The melancholy perfectly echoed his own.
         He delicately placed one hand in front of the other, pulling himself forward, marking every painful note of the soft crying as he crawled closer and closer.
Inches from the large, open bathroom now, Burnam stopped. The throbbing spread to his entire hindquarters, the act of crawling on all fours working new muscles and joints that even the most rigorous military training had failed to prepare.
         He peeked into the bathroom and there, bent over a sink and crying softly was the sergeant whose shoes Burnam cleaned every morning while he slept ten feet away, being fucked from behind by a very large, very black private nicknamed “Night Train” by the other blacks.
         And that is how one Private Walt Burnam became Lieutenant Walt Burnam, then Sergeant Walt Burnam, then Captain Walt Burnam and finally General Walt Burnam. He followed just one short step behind the man whose secret he kept as that man climbed the United States military’s career ladder. Although the marriage was not a happy one, it was functional. Burnam, due not to a sense of loyalty but to sheer lack of ambition, kept Sergeant Mehlman’s secret for some 30 years, and Mehlman, due solely to self-preservation, kept the secret of Private Burnam’s dereliction of patrol duty for some 30 years. They had even developed a sort of ambivalent respect for each other, two lazy rats at sea, stuck on the freighter of life, locked in a simple, functional blood pact to keep sharing the crumbs that fell from men, riding out their days watching one another’s backs for swooping seagulls or swinging brooms, with no objective other than simply not dying or being thrown overboard. This is how the perfectly average Walt Burnam, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, whose only meaningful accomplishment in life was losing a wooden marble in his own asshole, came to sit at the crossroads of history.
         Burnam shaded in the supple curves around the pinup’s breasts and silently thanked God that Mehlman was not snoring today, for noise from one tended to draw attention to both, and attention usually meant work.
         Burnam could not tolerate the thought of being assigned work today, or on any of his remaining 17 days of service in the United States military. A real assignment, and all the accountability- orders, planning, paperwork, implementation, more paperwork, oversight, processing, and finally reporting- would ensure his last 17 days of service would be exhausting, for, once you’ve been promoted for doing nothing, doing anything is cumbersome upon one’s psyche, and at Burnam’s age, lower back and knees.
         General Colt Howell, a career prick who had risen through the ranks over 32 years of dedicated service to whatever mission, objective, duty or order was being airdropped from his superiors around the world, brought the meeting toward its close.
         “Bung, Boretto, get the JAG’s office on this right away,” said Howell in the casual style of a man who never needs to pause for questions. “Now, you all have your directives…” Howell stopped, noticing the brief, bold heading at the bottom of his directives directive. An irritated frown crept into the corner of his mouth, the richest expression he was capable of making.
         “Actually,” he started again, “My apologies, I almost forgot. There is one more system we have yet to test…”
         Mehlman snorted violently and whipped one arm into the air like a dog chasing a rabbit through his dreams. Thirty-four generals, secretaries, aids and assistants turned at once, startled by the hysterics of the now whimpering, shaking general, who had begun to chase the rabbit with great urgency. Burnam lifted his eyes slowly from his erotic sketching, and prayed silently that all eyes were not fixed upon his partner, his mentor, his secret’s keeper. They were.
         Howell’s eyes narrowed as he imagined leaping onto the table, sprinting to Mehlman, scissor-kicking the groggy fool in the nose and stomping him to death, then stomping his friend Burnam to death. He imagined the applause, or better, the silent submission with which each subordinate would approach him from that moment forward, for fear of being stomped to death. Really, it would only take one stomping to death, and he would have the entire base under his thumb, he thought. Then he imagined the accompanying paperwork and dropped the fantasy.
         Burnam slid the legal pad slowly off the mahogany desk and pulled it to his chest like a pubescent girl hoping not to be seen shuffling between classes. He stared at the desk pretending not to notice the deadly silence, as the hopeless thought raced through his mind: if I remain still, perhaps they won’t see me.
         Mehlman’s panting petered out, the rabbit disappeared into the woods, and true, searing silence followed. Since the outburst all of four seconds had passed, but the burning glares of 34 colleagues slowed time to the point that Burnam could hear the individual disdain leak from each person’s frown. Howell’s frown was the loudest, and his narrowed eyes drilled tiny holes into Burnam’s soul.
         In his long, illustrious career General Colt Howell had massacred unarmed villagers, assisted in covering up friendly fire incidents, wrote widely circulated press releases that painted murderous retreats and failures as scalptaking victories, and most recently provided falsified documents to better his nation’s case for launching a long-desired invasion of a small, brown country rich with oil. In short, he was the perfect general: a viciously talented and equivocating loyalist whose morality was both determined and reinforced by balancing in the ever-shifting sands of his boss’s current desire.
         General Howell had one other gift that greased the wheels of ascension: he was born handsome. He had learned at an early age that his looks- clean and sharp, but forever nonthreatening- created a baseless trust in him, which he fostered with proper grammar, even temperament, and eyeglasses. He could order the carpetbombing of an entire town of civilians, or shred the very document that exonerated said enemy nation of said bombing, all while smiling calmly and speaking evenly, in vanilla tones and common words. He was most definitely a sociopath in that way, but a handsome one. Strangers found themselves thinking, upon first glance, “I like that guy,” though they knew nothing of him beyond the snapshot he presented them, of a polished and pious human being. He could have been a very successful politician, but he lacked that ambition. He was perfectly happy peaking as the greatest lapdog in the game: he was safe, got outdoors often, and was always fed.
         At this moment, he was considering just how to feast upon the generals Mehlman and Burnam, two worthless shitstacks who, following years of ambivalence, he decided he hated now.
         Howell slammed his open palm on the table, sending a shockwave directly to Mehlman’s ear.
         “Let God sort ‘em out!” yelled Mehlman, reflexively, startled awake. He lifted his head and took inventory, and slowly lifted himself the three inches he had slouched while sleeping.
         “Morning, General,” quipped Howell. “Would you like to join us?”
         No, Mehlman thought. But even 17 days from retirement he knew better than to intentionally poke the bear.
         “As I was saying, there is one system we have yet to test, but it’s a huge undertaking. I wouldn’t dream of giving this to anyone but my best men,” said Howell, as the hint of a cryptkeeper’s grin crawled into the corners of his mouth.
         Mehlman rubbed his eyes, confused by Howell’s tone and angered by the direct attention and eye contact.
         “Do you know what the term ‘Olfactory Chemical Directives’ refers to, General Mehlman?”
         “Not a clue, sir.”
         “That’s fine, quite alright, General,” Howell said with faux congeniality. “You’ll have plenty of time to learn while you’re administering their usage on our volunteer control population.”
         “Sir,” Mehlman began to speak but his throat was still asleep, dry as a bone.
         “You and Burnam will be conducting the last in our series of nonlethal weapons tests, the Olfactory Chemical Directive, or O.C.D.”
         A knot slowly began to tie itself in Burnam’s stomach, pulling the soft lining into itself.
         “Wasn’t that directive scrapped, General?” Burnam asked warily, knowing that a directive, once scrapped, then brought back, was an unclear directive and unclear directives were ultimately unsuccessful directives, and unsuccessful directives meant mountains upon mountains of paperwork that would support the military’s efforts around the world and at home in exactly no ways, yet must be completed regardless of their preordained uselessness, in a timely fashion, and submitted to the proper oversight bodies in triplicate, all of which must happen before Burnam- and Mehlman- could officially retire and end this charade of a partnership once and for all.
         “We tried to scrap it General Burnam, we did,” continued Howell, “But Secretary of Defense Cadbury himself sent it back with a rather strongly worded rebuke, quite frankly, stating in no uncertain terms that per protocol, no matter how absurd the notion, the notion must be tested.” He paused, reflecting upon Cadbury’s irritating decision. “Secretary Cadbury is a stickler for protocol.”
         Burnam suddenly realized he had left his ballpoint pen pressed to his legal pad, and the ink had soaked into and overrun one of the sexiest drawings he had ever done in these endless meetings. Isn’t that perfect, he thought, wallowing in self-inflicted sarcasm.
         “What is the notion to be tested?” asked Mehlman, stretching his toes and clinching his calves, trying to send blood back into the sleepiest corners of his body.
         “As was detailed extensively in your original brief some months ago, General,” said Howell, “the notion to be tested is that if the battlefield enemy is stimulated enough, he will not be able to concentrate on his directive, leaving him vulnerable to our offensive. So we could, theoretically, seek to distract the enemy with said aphrodisiac dispersion device, the O.C.D.”
         “What, if I may, sir, is an aphrodisiac dispersion device,” said Mehlman, confounded by massive words he was certain could be truncated in some way.
         “It’s perfume, Mehlman,” growled Burnam, disgust dripping from each syllable. “We spray an enemy platoon with perfume and they become so horny they lose the will to fight.”
         “Why don’t we just bomb them?” blurted Mehlman, “We have a target, we blow it up. It’s what we do.”
         Howell was enjoying the equal parts confusion and humiliation he was witnessing from these thorns in his ass. “It’s nonlethal, General. Capture only.”
         “A perfume bomb?” pleaded Mehlman. “This is a joke, right?”
         “No, Barry, it’s no joke,” said Burnam, slowly resigning to his fate. “Just a final slap in the face for the military’s least distinguished gentlemen.”
         General Sydney “Bird Dog” Fuller, a pockmarked, smoking, brick chimney of a man, a shameless prick for whom the middle management rung of the military was a haven- from the weak, feminine, politically correct real world, filled with its apologies and hugs, and televisions, weddings and popular music, and black people, everywhere, black people nowadays- leaned forward, a cat with two sleepy, old mice cornered and shaking. “They think it’s a punishment, General Howell,” he said, his Arian blue eyes suddenly as black as his lungs.
         “Do they, General Fuller?”
         “I believe they do, General Howell,” said Fuller, warming up to the thrill of bullying these soft clams. “Now, Generals, this isn’t a punishment, you know that,” he growled with mock compassion, a technique he had mastered when disciplining his stepchildren. He had discovered long ago that mock compassion was the jab that lowered their guards, leaving them naked and vulnerable to the next punch, the haymaker: clear, cutting sarcasm.
         “This is a revolutionary program, this perfume bomb!” He paused to allow the snickering to ripple through the ranks. “We thought you’d appreciate the chance to make one last contribution to your grateful nation before you retire. And, may I suggest that contribution comes in the form of Chanel Number Five? I can’t get enough of that delectable aroma!”
         The room broke into outright laughter. “I’m getting flustered just thinking about it!” continued Fuller. “Is it hot in here?” He pretended to look at his lap, just under the table, hinting that the mere mention of the scent had aroused him, before joining the chorus.
         Sufficiently humiliated, Burnam and Mehlman stood, saluted and shuffled out of the room. The echoing laughter all but slammed the door behind them.

- Ryan (

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cool Promo Idea for Authors #1: Photo Uploads

This is idea #1 of 10. I'll post a new idea that I'm implementing myself every Friday. By the end of ten weeks both you and I will have a better grasp on low-cost book marketing for self-published authors.

#1: Photo Promo
Last week, as people began receiving their copies of the paperback of
Love Bomb, I noticed a few people were posting pictures of the book fresh out of the box, sitting on their desk, or kitchen counter... People liked to send a little shoutout my way, to show support.

I loved the photos! So I started sending thank-you photos in response (uploading to Facebook, then tagging photo with fan's name), with a hook: I promised to snap a photo immediately after seeing their post. I then turned on all my Twitter and Facebook alerts, so I could be alerted at any time. Literally.

That was me around 4:00pm, at the gym. This is me sneaking ice cream when no one is looking (breaking the diet):

...which was sent in response to:

I've begun including a note in the paperbacks I ship from home (sold directly through my website) requesting a photo if the person is so inclined. I mention that it helps if the person tags me or the book in the photo, which will automatically bring it to my attention and to my Facebook Fans' attention.

The Big Question is always: "Okay, that's cool, but what is the value of that promotion?"

Answer: there are two great benefits to this promotion.
1. First, I get to interact with my fans directly...

It's fun to interact with people who are genuinely excited to buy my book. It means a lot to me. These are people who can be called "fans," and having fans is fun.

It reminds me of all the agents and publishers and studio people who ultimately passed on the book, because "there's no audience for it." I always knew they were wrong, and every supportive picture is proof. I love these pics, and they stand as a testament to the audience for my book.

2. Second, the dollars-and-cents value...

In the digital era, the distance between author and reader is rapidly moving toward zero, and authors who accept and embrace that will have an quantitative advantage. Everyone who posts a picture with my book is vouching for it to all of their friends. That's word-of-mouth that you can't buy.

Social media is not a tool to push marketing onto people, it's a tool to connect via give-and-take.
If your audience feels like you're a participant and not a marketer, they'll hang with you. That will translate to income, if you never take it for granted.
The most recent thank-you pic was taken in the Post Office, just before I was berated for taking photos in the Post Office. I was told "you can't take photos in public building anymore," because "9/11 changed that," and if I wasn't careful, the government would use "face-scanning technology" to track me down.

I'll save my rant on this wildly incorrect series of bizarre urban legends for another time, but who wouldn't want to send me a pic just to see what kind of weird, compromised position they can catch me in??

Interact with your audience. Without them, your tree is falling in the forest with no one around to hear it, not making a sound... or some other tortured analogy... :)


UPDATE (3/4/2012): Reader Mike in Annapolis, MD uploaded a great pic of his paperback around 6:00pm Sunday. I got the text alert and happened to be shaving:

Two minutes earlier and he would've gotten a really interesting thank-u photo! Well played, Mike.