Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Something Witchy

Originally posted on Sapphyria's Book Reviews.

Lately, I’ve been getting asked a lot: Why witches? It’s a great question considering I’ve just released the first two books in my new Salem’s Revenge series, Brew and Boil, which centers on a witch apocalypse. Although nothing in particular inspired me (not even Harry Potter, although I LOVE that series), I couldn’t get the idea out of my head one day. After having written a successful 7-book dystopian series with NO paranormal elements, I just felt the need to switch things up a little and add something fresh to my usual dystopian/post-apocalyptic type of book. Witches really felt right in my head for three reasons:
1. The Salem Witch Trials- As we all know, humans make a lot of stupid mistakes, and those mistakes usually repeat themselves. So I asked myself the question: What if the Salem Witch Trials came back? What if people became fearful of the unknown and misunderstood again, to the point where laws were passed preventing the practicing of magic? During the original Salem Witch Trials, it was a completely different world than it is today. Today we have social media and 24/7 news coverage and the type of mob mentality that just might allow Salem’s Return to become a reality if the wrong people took control of things. The very thought of a repeat of the Salem’s Witch Trials but on STEROIDS brought so many ideas in my head that I couldn’t ignore them. I just had to write this book. And of course, that begged the question: What if the witches managed to fight back this time? Like really fight back. Yeah, it’s time for the witch apocalypse!

2. A new brand of witches- Witches have been done a million times, so why do them again? Well, I think Harry Potter showed us all that putting a new spin on any fantastical thing can reignite an entire genre of books. My goal for the witches, warlocks (or warls as they’re referred to in slang in Brew), and wizards, was to keep what everyone loves about them, but create a new brand of new-age magic-born who are more complex, more current, and just as deadly. Instead of covens I have gangs of witches, for example, separated by magical specialty. They hate each other almost as much as they hate humans (well most of them). For example, there are magic-born that focus entirely on raising corpses from the dead, called Necromancers, or Necros. Other gangs include Brewers, Spellcasters, Destroyers, Pyros, and Mediums, to name just a few. From there, I was able to let my imagination run wild.
3. Witch hunters- If there’s a witch apocalypse happening, then there needs to be someone to stop it, right? Bring in the witch hunters. Where the government failed to protect its citizens, the witch hunters have stepped in, learning the best ways to fight back, obtaining the very best in magical weapons, and doing whatever they can to survive. The main character, Rhett Carter, is lucky (or unlucky) enough to meet a witch hunter who trains him for survival.

Early reviewers of Brew and Boil have compared the series to a cross between Angelfall (but with witches instead of angels) and The Walking Dead (but with witches instead of zombies). So if you like that sort of thing, you can buy the books on Amazon in both paperback and ebook! Happy reading!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Stop the SPAM! (And other random advice for Indie Authors)

Originally posted on Happy Indulgence Books.

I live in Hawaii, where spam is a really big thing. But by spam I mean the mystery meat concoction that never seems to go bad and can be eaten in dozens of creative ways. That’s NOT what I’m here to talk about today. Jeann asked me to post my thoughts on the explosion of spam from Indie authors, as well as my other thoughts on how upcoming Indie authors can start to build their fan base THE RIGHT WAY.
I’m no Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking, whose self-published books exploded primarily by word of mouth. At first I had to fight for every reader, for every review, for every new member of my fan group. It was a ton of hard work, but, four years later, I’m really starting to see it pay off as I approach 30,000 book sales across my backlist. So how have I built my career as an Indie author?
Not with spam!

I’m starting with what NOT to do because doing the wrong thing can give you a really bad reputation and get things off on the wrong foot. What is spam? For Indie authors, it’s any unsolicited attempt to get someone (a blogger, a random person, etc.) to read your book. Although you might direct message 100 random people on Goodreads and 1 of them might thank you profusely and say how much they loved your book and that they’ll be a lifelong fan, the other 99 are likely to get pissed off and never even consider your books in the future. They may even report you as a spammer. Spam. Is. Annoying.
I get a ton of spam myself. I recently had an author who I’d never met, never chatted with in even one Goodreads thread, send me a direct Goodreads message asking me to become their fan on Goodreads and check out their book. Umm, who are you again? That’s just not the way to do things. I thanked them and gently gave them the advice to not spam other readers on Goodreads as it will only hurt them in the long run. This particular author never even replied back with an apology or a thank you for the advice. Not a good start to a writing career.

I understand the temptation. I’ve been there. You finish your book, a labor of love that you poured countless hours and your heart and soul into…and all you want to do is share it, right? Of course! But there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Here are my basic Dos and Don’ts:

What NOT to do is every bit as important as what to do. Here are my top 3 DON’TS:
1) DON’T contact bloggers and ask them to read and review your book if their review policies specifically state they don’t read Indie books, your genre of book, or anything else specific to your book. Each and every blogger has THE RIGHT to set their own policies and read what they want. It’s not our place as authors to argue with them or judge them for the decisions they make for their blogs. I recently read a shocking blog post that basically called out bloggers as being in the wrong for not reviewing Indie novels. That’s ridiculous. There are thousands of Indie novels out there and a lot of them are poorly edited, so I understand why some bloggers would decide not to review them. Regardless, it’s THEIR choice. So leave them alone and focus on the bloggers who might be interested in your book.

True story: In my early days as a published author, I did this a few times and the result was NEVER positive. Learn from my mistakes!
2) DON’T contact random strangers on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, or any other site and ask them to read your book. It doesn’t matter if you’re willing to offer them a free book, don’t do it. It’s the equivalent of shoving a coupon in someone’s face as they walk past on the sidewalk. It leaves a bad taste in the reader’s mouth and will generally make them run as far away from your books as possible.

True story: Although I’ve never done this one, I’ve been targeted in this manner many times and it’s not a great feeling. Just don’t do it!
3) DON’T post about your book on message boards or in Goodreads groups until you’ve read and understood the group rules. Some boards or groups will have explicit rules against spamming, or they’ll have folders set up specifically for authors to get the word out about their books.

True story: I *stupidly* did this a few times early in my career, both on Goodreads and kboards. NOT GOOD. I got in trouble all times by a site administrator. Please, please, please learn from my idiocy!

If you’re scratching your head now and wondering how you’re supposed to build a fan base without doing everything I mentioned above, don’t worry! There are PLENTY of awesome ways you can attract new readers to your books. Trust me, I’ve tried them, tested them, and had significant success using them. Here are my top 3 DOS:
1) DO contact bloggers if their review policies state they accept books by Indie authors and books within the genres you write. These are the bloggers you should be focusing on. Maybe they’re small, maybe they’re big, but it doesn’t matter. You have to start somewhere, and even a blog with 10 members is a great place to find new readers. Provide any information the blogger requests and offer a free review copy. If they aren’t currently accepting review submissions, see if they’re interested in anything else, like a guest post, interview, or giveaway of your books/swag. ***Finally, if you are fortunate enough to convince a blogger to read and review your book, accept their review regardless of whether it’s positive or negative or in between. It’s their opinion and you should never argue about a review or ask them to take it down.

True story: With my debut series I contacted more than 100 bloggers who said they accepted Indie submissions in my genre, and guess what? I got more than 50 bloggers to accept a free ebook! More than 90% of them posted positive reviews for the book. This was a HUGE step in the right direction. By building up credibility with bloggers, I now regularly have more than 70 bloggers participate in my book launches. BLOGGERS ARE THE TRUE HEROES OF INDIE AUTHORS!
2) DO giveaway free books. I know it’s hard to give away all your hard work for free, but at the beginning no one knows who you are or whether you can write worth a damn. They’re scared of paying money for something that might be poorly edited and that they’ll put down after only a few chapters. The most important thing, however, is giving away books the right way. Here are a few options:

A) Read for Reviews on Goodreads- Many Goodreads groups manage Read to Review programs in which you can provide free ebooks to their participating members in exchange for honest reviews. I’ve given away hundreds of books this way and have loved interacting with members and thanking them for their reviews. It’s one of THE BEST ways to connect with readers.
True story: With my most successful novel, The Moon Dwellers, I’ve participated in more than 15 Read To Reviews on Goodreads, in which I’ve given away more than 200 books. I now have more than 6,000 ratings on Goodreads, something that gives me credibility.
B) KDP Select free days- If your books are enrolled in KDP Select on Amazon, you can make your book free for a set number of days every so often. However, just making your book free on Amazon isn’t enough. You have to really plan how to promote it. There are a number of sites that will help you promote your free book days, some cost nothing and others can be quite expensive. In most cases, you get what you pay for. BookBub is extremely expensive but is THE BEST by far, well worth the cost. Others are less expensive, like Book Gorilla, the Fussy Librarian, and Kindle Tips and Tricks, but they won’t get nearly the results of BookBub. The only issue with BookBub is that they’re quite choosy on which books they promote. Build up your reviews before submitting to them. Plan your attack!
True story: I’ve done Amazon free days for two of my books (The Moon Dwellers and Fire Country), and achieved 57,000 downloads in six days. The sequels started selling like hotcakes and it had a huge impact on my career. I used BookBub and at least 10 other sites to promote the events.
C) Blog giveaways- Remember all those bloggers you’ve been contacting and building relationships with? Ask them if they’d be interested in a giveaway. You can giveaway your ebooks and even throw in other prizes, like Amazon gift cards or bookmarks to sweeten the deal. Request that they use Rafflecopter to run the giveaway and that participants gain entry points by Liking your Facebook page, Following your blog, or Following you on Twitter.
True story: I NEVER turn down a chance to giveaway ebooks on a blog. I’ve participated in dozens of blogger giveaways and have never had a bad experience.
3) DO become part of the book community. This has been really important for me. Goodreads is the main site I use, but there are other sites too. Try them all and focus on the one you feel most comfortable with. Don’t think of it as a place to promote your books—think of it as a fun place that you as a reader like to spend time. Spend an hour or so (or more) a day on the site, interacting with other readers, talking about books you love (NOT your own books!), and giving/accepting recommendations.

True story 1: On numerous occasions I’ve had Goodreads members contact me and say we’ve been friends on Goodreads for more than a year and they never knew I was an author. They viewed this as a positive thing, as I wasn’t constantly trying to get them to buy/read my books. Because of that, they’d decided to give my books a try, all without me ever asking them! I thank them for their support and usually offer them a free ebook.
True story 2: Because I made so many friends on Goodreads, I managed to set up a Goodreads Fan group that now has more than 2,500 members. It’s my sanctuary where I can really and truly get to know my readers and connect with them on a personal level, something that goes a long way these days.

A special thanks to Jeann for the awesome topic and a huge shout out to all the Indie authors out there! I wish you all the best and hope you have long and enjoyable writing careers!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Release Day! Brew and Boil

After over a year without releasing a book, I'm ecstatic to announce the release of TWO new books, the first two books in my new Salem's Revenge series, Brew and it's sequel, Boil! I'm celebrating in a bunch of cool ways that will get my books in your hands at the lowest possible price:

1) Both Brew AND Boil will be on sale for only $0.99 exclusively on Amazon for a limited time only! See below for descriptions of each book and links to buy.

2) As a special thank you to my readers, Fire Country, the first book in my popular Country Saga, will be FREE for a limited time only, so check it out below and click on the link to download it for FREE! And tell your friends!

3) We're having a MASSIVE giveaway to celebrate the release, so please enter below using the Rafflecopter form, and win prizes like gift cards, signed books, signed swag and ebooks!

4) Twitter party! Stop by the Brew Release Twitter party today, October 1st between 8pm and 10pm eastern time by using the hashtag #BrewRelease! I'll be there the entire time, and we're also expecting appearances by AT LEAST four bestselling authors! Hope to see you all there!

Thanks so much for all your support and I hope you all enjoy my new books! You can get all the details below :) If you do decide to read them, I would love to read your reviews on, those reviews makes all the difference in the success of my books!

Salem’s Revenge strikes without warning or mercy, ravaging the powerless human race under the forces of united gangs of witches, wizards, and warlocks. During the slaughter, Rhett Carter's foster parents and sister are killed, and his best friend and girlfriend are abducted by a gang of witches calling themselves the Necromancers, who deal in the dark magic of raising the dead. Rhett’s sword-wielding neighbor with a mysterious past saves Rhett from becoming another casualty of the massacre and teaches him the skills he needs to survive in this new world. Rhett is broken, his normal high school life of book blogging and football playing shoved in a witch-apocalyptic blender. The only thing he has left is his burning desire for revenge. Armed with his new witch hunting skills and a loyal, magic powered dog named Hex, he sets out into the unknown with one mission: hunt and destroy those who took away everyone he ever loved.
But Rhett isn’t just a witch hunter; He has secrets of his own that he has yet to discover, secrets that his enemies will stop at nothing to keep him from. And discovering the truth about himself is the human race’s only hope.
Revenge. That’s all that’s left for witch hunter Rhett Carter. The magic-born have stripped everything from him - killed his friends, cursed his warlock father, shattered his future - leaving him bare and broken, but not dead. Their mistake. When Rhett and Laney are suddenly thrust in different directions, Rhett must decide who to trust and who to kill. Backed by his trusty canine sidekick Hex, Rhett will embark on his deadliest mission yet, one that will lead him directly toward those who want him dead, pushing his unique resistance to magic to the edge and back again as he tries to remove his father’s curse. Separated from Rhett, Laney seeks to understand the strange changes to her sister, Trish, who’s believed to be the last living Clairvoyant, and what role she’s destined to play in the future of humankind. Wrapped around everything are four major groups: the Necromancers, the Changelings, the witch hunters, and New America, the remnants of humanity. When the major forces are brought together for an epic battle, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Click to purchase BREW
Get both Brew and its sequel, Boil, the first two books in the Salem's Revenge series, for a special price of $0.99 each for a limited time only (Amazon Kindle exclusive: Brew until October 17th; Boil until October 7th) Click on the above buttons to take advantage of this limited time deal!

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David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.
To celebrate the launch of Brew and Boil, David Estes is also giving away FREE Kindle copies of his popular YA dystopian AND adventure book, Fire Country. Just click the above link to nab your free copy.
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