Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kirkus and IndieReader review The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors

I haven't written a lot about The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors since the podcast version launched back in January. The book dropped February 28 in print and on Kindle. I ran a new release sale on FKBT. Mentioned it a couple times on Goodreads. And offered it free to my email list.

It's been reviewed on a couple of the indie publishing sites. IndieReader was unequivocal in its praise. "Short, but perfectly formed, The Baby Monitor is a very smart, very human, and very skillfully constructed horror novel... The conclusion is a stroke of genius."

Kirkus Reviews was a little conflicted about my style, but also enjoyed the end. "Ingwalson’s narrative is effective and suspenseful, and while the conclusion at first appears to be a standard, urban legend-style twist, the ending is more complex and satisfying than that... While some readers may feel that the short length leads to a lack of details about the characters and their surroundings, others should enjoy the tight pacing and claustrophobic dynamic."

I find it intriguing, even frustrating, that the number one comment I get is that my novellas are short. Never mind that novellas are short by definition. I read a lot. And I'm often frustrated by how little happens in many novels. And by how many words it takes some authors to convey simple ideas.

The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors is a novella by design. It would crack if it was spread over too many pages. On the other hand, I do wonder where my novel is. I'm toying with a couple of ideas for the type of story where the plot deserves 80,000 words.

Someday, I guess. Someday.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What are you thinking: A self-publishing conversation with Colorado Collective

Thanks to Colorado Collective for inviting me over to talk about self-publishing. Here's some highlights from the discussion, with supporting links:

“Almost 3,000 books are published on Amazon per day. Not per year. Per day. The odds of you selling more than 100 copies are low.” Some sad, sad facts found here.

“A lot of people making money self-publishing don’t proofread or make any serious attempt to write their own books. They steal outlines, outsource the writing, and publish as frequently as possible.” Read about it on The Hustle.

“The best way to get people to buy your book is to make sure the cover design blends in with other books in the genre.” Read about it on my blog.

“I publish print via CreateSpace mostly for vanity. More than 95% of my sales come on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited. If you are 100% dedicated, you can also publish on Barnes and Noble, but if you do Amazon will yank promotional opportunities like giveaways and countdown deals.” Createspace is here. And KDP is here.

“I have run pay-per-click ads on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google and Goodreads. All of them clicked, but few converted. The best paid placements are on promotional book lists.” Bookbub, Booksends. FKB&T.

“If you don’t have money, you can try hanging out on social networks, discussing your genre with fans. This helps ensure the people who buy your book also buy others in the same genre, which will help Amazon’s algorithm create lookalike modeling.” Reddit. And my profile on Goodreads.

“Awards are great for vanity and validation, but have yet to make me any money.” Read about it on my blog.

“The best way to make money is to write several novels in a series, publish them in close succession, and then give the first one away. Make sure your book descriptions make ample use of genre-specific keywords.” An example of how I do this on Amazon.

“Giveaways are good for awareness, but the way Goodreads advises you run them is bullshit.” Read the stats on my blog.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Change The Current: New work for Colorado Springs Utilities

At Vladimir Jones, we're launching new work for Colorado Springs Utilities. The campaign includes a film series we created with Bas Berkhout. The whole thing is killer. I'm posting the video from USAFA purely because when we said we wanted to film there, certain people laughed, shook their heads, and told us we'd never get permission.

With the right team, you can do anything.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Introducing The Baby Monitor: A Podcast of Family Horrors

The Baby Monitor is a plot I have been playing around with for a long time. It's the tale of a couple whose son wakes up screaming. Every single night. Does he have night terrors? Is their home haunted? Or is there something even darker waiting inside their American dream?

In a way, The Baby Monitor is just a creepy story. But it has something serious to say about the way the secrets and banalities of adult life gnaw away at you.

The novella is coming out in March. But I'm publishing the entire thing as a free podcast, starting right now. This is partially because I love doing stuff. Partially out of the hope that podcast listeners will show their support by purchasing the novella. And partially for fun.

The first few episodes are on Soundcloud (here) and you can subscribe on iTunes (here) or on Stitcher (here). (Subscribing and rating is a huge help, making sure new podcasts bump to the top of the recommendation engine.)

The plan is to publish a new one every few days until the story ends. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Flannery O'Connor only wrote one story and it could have been written yesterday

This year I read, and in some cases re-read, the complete works of Flannery O'Connor. Like a lot of artists, she only had one theme, which she hammered compulsively, tweaking it and refining it and rewriting it over the course of two novels and 31 short stories.

She had three characters. A bad guy, often a con artist and sometimes batshit crazy. An aging Southerner, settled into a strict, frequently racist code that provides a roadmap for all his or her actions. And a high-minded urban atheist, who believes the first character pitiable and the second deplorable. At the end, all three are offered a symbol of grace, reminding them they're all sinners who need God.

And I thought, "Things just don't change much."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Email all the time

[Ed. - While this conversation is fictitious, the numbers in it are not. But you know what? I bet your inbox is even messier than mine. I would love to hear any solutions anyone has.]

She asked, "Why wasn't this project done on time?"

I said, "I dunno. I didn't realize we even had a presentation scheduled."

"But I sent you the date in an email last week."

"I'm sorry, I probably missed it."

"You don't read my emails?"

"I try to. But yesterday alone, I got 187 work emails and 96 personal ones. If I spent even two minutes with each one, that'd add up to almost 10 hours a day reading email. And that doesn't include opening any attachments, clicking any links, or writing any responses. I can't devote that much time to reading email."

"So you don't check your email?"

"Of course I do. I spend more than three hours a day on it. I start by deleting the 60 or 70 that appear to be ads. Then I scroll through looking for meeting requests and anything relating to whatever major projects are already on my radar. The remaining 150 get skimmed or ignored."

"So when we need to talk to you, what should we do?"

"I don't know. I worry about it all the time. Any form of communication only works to the extent it captures attention. Face-to-face works best, but can you imagine 187 face-to-face meetings a day? Ditto for calls, texts, and threaded comments on project management systems. Any of them would cease to work the moment the larger team found out about them."

"So what's the solution?"

"The only solves I see are not communication-based. The first is to reduce the noise by accepting only larger projects. The second is to hire a bigger staff and field dedicated, autonomous teams."

"But all over America, clients are cutting budgets and agencies are trimming headcount."

I said, "Yeah, I know." And then we sat in silence for a time, contemplating careers as lumberjacks.