Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kevin and the Seven Lions is discounted this week, plus new The Monster Who Ate My Socks

"Kevin and the Seven Lions"

My first book, Kevin and the Seven Lions, is a Kindle Countdown Deal this week.  Check it out for 99 cents before it goes back up to $2.99.  Click here to get it: http://bit.ly/Kevin7lions

Also AJ Cosmo, just updated one of his best sellers, The Monster Who Ate My Socks.  He updated it to print with a lesson plan written by yours truly.

Monster who ate my socks

Also I am didiligentlyorking on the sequel to Dolbin School for the Extraordinary.  If you would like to get the book for free before it is available on Amazon join my Insider’s List.  Also if you join before December 1 you will be entered into a drawing to earn signed copies of all five of my paperbacks. Click here to join the list: http://bit.ly/MartinsList

Join my Insider's List for a chance at a signed copy all of my books.

Join my Insider’s List for a chance at a signed copy all of my books.

Idea Mating-How to make something new

I am a teacher.  I know that a lot of you that read this are also teachers.  I know that a few of you are writers, or want to be writers.

So let’s combine those.

First, teachers teach writing.

Second, I am a teacher, and I write books.

Third, I want more teachers to write.  I think a lot of people don’t write because they aren’t sure how to get ideas.

I’ve written about it before, but the best way to get ideas for writing is simply to write first.

I’ve said it before.  I will say it again:

Writing first.  Ideas second.

Now, once you get the ideas going, you don’t just generate a list of ideas.

As a teacher, for years, I always taught my class to generate a list of ideas they could write about.  They would keep this list in their journal, so if they were ever stuck for an idea, and they always were, they could refer to this list of ideas.  Invariably though students would grow bored with the list and consequently they would have nothing again to write about, in spite having a list of ideas.

But this I have begun to teach my students to combine ideas.  Take two things on their list, and create something new.

Combine your ideas with other people's ideas and get something new.

Combine your ideas with other people’s ideas and get something new.

My latest book, Baseball and Aliens, was born that way.  I took two things I really liked, playing baseball and watching alien movies, and made something completely new.

This year I my students made a Love it or Loathe it list.  They list things they LOVE and things they HATE, from there they can choose something to write.  This year I added another element.  They can combine something from the LOVE side with the LOATHE side.

For example, I love pizza.  I hate math.  (Not me, but what a student would write.)  Now I have an image of pizzas that multiply when you eat them.  I also imagine making pizza in the shapes of numbers.  Or math word problems with only pizza involved.

In that example I took two things, combined them and came up with three new things.  And if I spent more time I could have come up with more.

The best ideas come from the results of two or more ideas combined.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the combination of a fairy tale, animation, and the idea that cartoons could be feature length.  Star Wars is the combination of Flash Gordon serials, the work of Joseph Campbell, and Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa.  Facebook is the combination of stalking and an old Rolodex.  And the classic email is simply the combination of mail and electronics.  Great ideas are the combination of other ideas.

This is how you create new ideas.

Make a list.  Take two things on that list and combine.

BAM!  New idea.

A new creation!

 

By the way, if you like this, and you want free short stories, a free books before they are available on Amazon then I would love for you to join my Insider’s List.  I send out updates a few times a month.

 

 

 

 

The lasting effects so far of Bookbub

I am now over a month out from my Bookbub email blast and brief run at the best-seller’s list on Amazon’s Children’s List.  See that post here.

Here is a screen grab of Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien‘s raking:

Book Bub effect with text

I admit it was not a great for a long time.  In fact it hadn’t sold a single copy  in several months.

It now averages more than a sale a day.

I’m not quitting my day job on that news, but it is way better than before.

Lessons Learned:

Simply writing a great book and putting it up isn’t enough.

I know.  Most don’t want to hear that.  You’ve written a great piece of literature, therefore the world is going to beat down your door.  Nope.  Being recommended by others matters.

In this case the book was recommended by Bookbub, and that matters.

Build your own email list

At the time of the email Bookbub told me their children’s email went out to something like 330,000 people.

Off of that email and Bookbub website I had about 350 sales and Kindle borrows.

Let’s do that math.  That’s about one-ten of one-percent.  .1 of 1%

To be able to sell 350 copies from my own list, I wouldn’t need nearly that many subscribers.  If just 10% of an email list bought a new book, all I would need would be a list of 3,500 people.

Now, that isn’t easy.  But I figure my choice is to either focus on building my tribe through an email list or be completely dependent on Bookbub.  And I reapplied to Bookbub for the original Kevin book, which has 48 reviews on Amazon.  But they didn’t accept it.  Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien they did accept only has 12 reviews.  So I will focus on building my own list.

And if you’re a writer then that is what your marketing efforts should be on as well.  Building your own email list.

So Bookbub was wonderful!  If you can get your book accepted.  Take it!  But in the long run you should have your own email list to send a blast out too.

Hey look at that: http://eepurl.com/1EWcT

That’s the link where you can sign up my Insider’s List (my email list).  You get a couple of free short stories, some photographs I have taken, and you will get the chance to get new books for free before they are available on Amazon.  Plus I send out a lot of blog posts and other content on that list before I send it here, or on Facebook.

What to do when you have no idea what to write about

When you don’t have any ideas.

I had dinner with some friends tonight. One friend, like many teachers, has always wanted to write a children’s book.  But she says she doesn’t have any ideas.

There is the mistake.

Most people who want to write but don’t, make a fundamental mistake.  They wait for the idea first and then they begin writing.  This is wrong.

Wrong.

Louis L’more said “In order for the water to flow you must first turn on the faucet.”  Or something like that.  I’m not looking it up.

In other words, come to the paper (or computer) first, then you write.  Then come the bad ideas, and then later come the good ideas.  But it is, always, first write.

When I decided to try and write a children’s book, I had no idea where to start.  So I did what any good teacher does.  I gave a writing prompt.  When writing Kevin and the Seven Lions I sat down at the computer and wrote several sentences as writing prompts.

Kevin slept in class.

That was the sentence that started the Kevin series.  That sentence didn’t make the final book, but it started the whole thing.

Here are some of the other sentences I wrote

Bobby rounded third and slid into home plate.

Sally was a shark.

I am still thinking about the shark book.  The baseball reference above I don’t think has anything to do with Baseball and Aliens.  But just writing down words.  ANY WORDS.  Got the ball rolling.

When you are completely stuck my recommendation, just write a sentence.  Any sentence.  Put your fingers on the keyboard and let the fingers talk.

Seriously any sentence, and see what happens.

If you are stuck.  Write your sentence.

Trust me on this.

 

P.S.

Get this blog post early, free short stories, and my next book for free if you join my Insider’s List.

Kevin and the Triple Creature Feature is free through the 9th

I looked through my info and I realized that the third Kevin book had never been released free.  And since it only had 2 reviews on Amazons, I thought I would give it a try.  Ironically it has more reviews on Goodreads.

P.S. If you have the book leaving a review on Amazon would be greatly helpful and appreciated.

As most people in this business know that the algorithms  for free books are less than automatically supportive to transferring a book to sales.  I am letting this go free in hopes of generating more reviews.  So please pick it up, and if you have read it, please take a few minutes and leave a review.

Click on the pic below to get the book and leave a review.

TripleCreatureFeature_Kindle_Cover2

Oh, don’t leave yet.

If you are interested in free short stories, and getting my next book for free, join my GROWING Insider’s List. Hope you join me.

“It’s one of the best children’s books I now have for my collection.”

Occassionally you get a review you like and want to share.  Today was a long day work.

Long. Day.

LONG.

So it was nice to see this review on Goodreads.

“It’s one of the best children’s books I now have for my collection.”

Kindle Cover test 1

Thank you so much once again for choosing me as a winner to read your book. My boys loved it. When reading it to them they were on the edge of their seats wanting to know who would win the game. It was nice to have a new book to read them. The pictures were a great addition too. Its one of the best children’s books I now have for my collection. Cannot wait till my youngest grows up so we can share the book with him as well.

If you’re a teacher and want to write I hope you do and get to feel this.

P.S.

If you are interested in free short stories, and getting my next book for free before it hits Amazon, and other items I find useful and interesting, please join my Insider’s List.