Vincent Zandri's Blog - Posts Tagged "bestsellers"

Used to be when I first published at Delacorte, one of the last things an agent or editor wanted was for an author to publish two books at the same time. They called this splitting sales. In other words, by publishing two books at the same time, an author ran the risk of competing with him or herself.

Now, with the new indie publishing model, it seems that authors don't compete with themselves by publishing more than one book at the same time, they simply get more sales and more space on the infinite virtual bookshelf. And in some cases sales can be multiplied not by two, but by exponential numbers.

Recently, StoneGate Ink re-released my novel As Catch Can, under the new title The Innocent....

get the rest of the scoop from the VOX:
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A little boy in short pants jumping in a puddle of freshly collected rain ...a bearded man with a blood-stained white apron wrapped around his paunch standing outside a butcher shop smoking a cigarette, a boar's head hanging by a string inside the window...a stunning middle-aged woman wearing a short black skirt, knee length leather boots, tight jacket and slim eye-glasses, converses on a phone while walking hurredly past...a young woman is black skirt, knee length boots, tight jacket and thick, long, black hair holds her boyfriend's hand while they peer at the muddy Arno, which runs over the banks this time of year...a squad of uniformed Carabinari drilling with automatic rifles, trumpets and drums while the tourists and smoking cafe patrons look curiously on.... For the full story hit the "Vox":

The Innocent
The Remains
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Published on November 07, 2010 13:44 • 267 views • Tags: aaron-patterson, bestsellers, female-sleuth, ja-konrath, jack-marconi, mystery, romantic-suspense, suspense, the-inncent, the-remains, thriller
I barely made it out of Europe the weather was so horrid. Torrential rains in Florence, snowstorms in Germany. Rain and wind in Philly, and in Albany, ex-wives and now, an ex-girlfriend. Gas is 50 cents more than when I left a month ago.

The indy bookstore at which
I'm supposed to sign first editions of The Remains tomorrow has decided to also book an ex-local news anchor who self-published a book about doing, well, the local news. I just went to the store and its full of posters for the ex-TV anchor.

Warning: Be careful being too vocal about becoming an ebook bestseller. Stay out of the press even when they beg you for interviews. Don't promote yourself. Be a nobody. Don't get reviewed. Don't sell. And by all means, avoid attributing much of your your success to the emergence of the new publishing model.

Why exactly did I leave Italy again?

For the rest of the story head to The Vincent Zandri Vox:
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Published on December 03, 2010 12:59 • 211 views • Tags: aaron-patterson, bestsellers, kindle, moonlight-falls, stonegate-ink, stonehouse-ink, the-innocent, the-remains
So I've been avoiding a John Lennon blog.
Precisely because so many will be written today being the 30th anniversary
of the date on which that miserable mofo Mark whatever whatever-his-face decided that because he had absolutely zero talent at anything, he could at least pull through with aiming a Saturday Night special at the Beatle's founder and pull the trigger.

The rest of the sad story at the Vox:

The Remains
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Published on December 08, 2010 18:26 • 122 views • Tags: bestsellers, john-lennon, moonlight-falls, the-innocent, the-remains, vincent-zandri
The following was originally published at The Vincent Zandri Vox:

I love these stories.
Stories about old "legacy" model published authors switching to the indie publishing model (be it self-publishing or traditionally based small indie), and achieving so much success they can then make a good living from their fiction.

Terry ODell is one such author who, previously published by Five-Star/Gale is now pursuing self-publishing. In her newest blog at Terry's Place (, ODell spells out the pros and cons of making the move from the old publishing model to the new indie model. I'm repeating them here. And even though they are specific to her individual circumstances, I'm sure these pros and cons will speak to each and every author who frequents the Vox:

No lengthy wait time.
Keeps "new" material in front of readers.
Royalty payments come directly to me.
It's not as much of a 'suspense' as the other books, and the 'covert ops' side of things is less of a focus, so it's quite likely the publisher wouldn't have acquired it anyway, since they no longer have a romance imprint.

To ensure quality, I paid a free-lance editor and a cover artist out of pocket. I also made the decision to keep the cover "similar" in tone to the other Blackthorne books, even though it's not an obvious "romantic suspense." And because I used photographs I'd taken, I saved some money there.
I had to deal with the other things a publisher normally does. In the case of an e-book, that means formatting it for the various outlets (and there are different requirements for each). It also means I'm solely responsible for marketing.
Regardless of what's pro about ODell's situation or con, the one thing that sticks out most of all is the control she now has over her books. From writing, to bringing them to market, to editing, to cover design to marketing, she is solely responsible. No longer is she at the mercy of a publisher who might take three months to consider her new material only to reject it in the end, or what could even be worse, accept it but not publish it for a a year to two years and then hang on to the rights for a decade beyond that.

One thing I'll suggest to Terry is that if she considers editing and marketing a "con" she might think about submitting her material to a popular maverick indie press like StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink. It's true she would be expected to market like crazy on her own, but their marketing efforts would also increase her chances of breaking into the Top 100 Kindles and/or Nooks exponentially. She also wouldn't have to worry about editing, formatting, conversions, covers, etc. They would naturally do all that for her, allowing her more time and, more control over that time.

Time better spent writing.

GET CONCRETE PEARL, the New Bestselling Thriller by the No. 1 Internationally Bestselling Kindle Author, Vincent Zandri!!!!

Concrete Pearl
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Published on May 30, 2011 10:00 • 134 views • Tags: bestsellers, on-publishing, on-writing, terry-odell, vincent-zandri
The following blog is now appearing in slightly different form at The Vincent Zandri Vox:

A friends of mine who is a published author and great writer just emailed me about what it takes to sell a lot of books. E-Books in particular or so I'm assuming. At first I was ready to dig in with a two page email about marketing and social media and how important it is to maintain a constant presence on these digital mediums. I was also ready to discuss the importance of blogging two or three times a week on topics ranging from how to write a great noir novel to what I did on my summer vacation. Then there's Kindleboards, Goodreads, Crimespace, yadda...

But then it occurred to me that no matter how much I talk about these issues, none of them are really responsible for selling books, so much as they simply spread the word about your books being available for sale on the free market. Social media can definitely help you sell books but it can also hurt sales when you abuse and over-use it. After all, you shouldn't be directly selling your books in a social media setting. You should be selling you the human being.

So then, how was it I've been able to sell hundreds of thousands of e-books so far this year?

Jeeze, I'm not entirely sure how I did it.

But I do know this. If you want sell a lot of units (as they are lovingly called in the trade), you need to write great books (luckily my friend has this going for him already). You need a great cover (like me he's traditionally published so he has to rely on his team to produce this for him), a great product description and a very good if not "cheap" yup "cheap" price. As for the rest of the equation, you have to rely on a little luck here.

But then, how can you improve your luck as an author who wants to sell lots of books? The best possible way is simply to write more books. Authors like Scott Nicholson and JA Konrath are making thousands of dollars every month not on just one title, but upwards of 40 titles. These guys are sitting on a novel and rewriting it over and over again for two or three years. They are writing them in a matter of two or three months (please don't take this as gospel, I'm merely trying to make a point).

But Vin, you say, how is it possible to write a great novel in two or three months?

My answer is this: can you produce five good pages per day, five days a week? Or are you worried about writers block? If you believe in writers block, you must learn to change your beliefs. Writers block doesn't exist. If you're a writer your job is to show up at work everyday and write. Granted, there will be days when Mr. Plot and Mr. Story and Mrs. Brilliance don't show up for work, but that's just the nature of any business. You go with the flow and you keep plugging away anyhow. You take up the slack and plow through the day.

Or here's an idea that might help.

Whenever you feel like it will be impossible to write yet another book, think about your dad or mom. What did they do for a living while they were raising you trying to put clothes on your back, Hamburger Helper on your dinner plate and video games in the Play Station? If your dad was a lawyer, did he ever get lawyer's block? If your mom was a nurse, did you ever hear her complain "I've had absolutely nothing to nurse about for the past six months"? Of course not. Your parents showed up for work five days a week because that was their job. Sometimes it went well, and on occasion, when the proper support staff didn't always show up, things were hard. But by the year's end, they produced a body of work for which they were paid a significant sum.

Back to my point about selling books.

There is no tried or true answer to selling books. Sales flow in cycles. I seem to experience a few weeks of stellar bestselling sales every three or four months or so, probably due to Amazon marketing campaigns. My last great months was in July. I'm not due for another Top 100 Kindle Bestseller months until October or November. But then, this is just a guestimate. I have no control over Amazon marketing, other than signing on with their publisher, Thomas and Mercer, which I'm about to do.

So, in the final analysis, there is only one tried and true method of increasing your chances of selling books. That tried and true method is to show up for work everyday, and write more of them.

Scream Catcher Scream Catcher by Vincent Zandri
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Published on September 03, 2011 11:48 • 109 views • Tags: amazon-kindle, bestsellers, e-books, hard-boiled, mystery, the-innocent, the-remains
The following blog is now appearing at The Vincent Zandri Vox:

This past week my agent, Chip MacGregor, made a business trip to the offices of Thomas & Mercer, Amazon's new powerhouse crime imprint to go over the final details of my deal. While he was there, one of the Amazon execs asked him, "What's Vincent's secret to his marketing success?" In reply Chip said, "I always thought it was that you were telling a good story."

But after thinking about this for a while Chip then got on the horn with me and asked, "Well what are the two or three key elements to your marketing success?"

Here's my response to him:

> Hey Chip....basically, and I've blogged at length about this, there's no exact science to the marketing thing or we all wouldn't always be asking one another, "How'd you do that??? Ha!:)....But in a nutshell, you have to start out with a great product...GREAT writing, good story, great cover, and product description and a price that sells.

> Ok, that said, I believe social media is key. Not direct selling of a book, although you can do a little of that. But selling yourself the author. If people like you, they will buy you. Part of the social media thing is to maintain consistent blog posts by selling your particular brand. In my case, people can come to The Vincent Zandri Vox and know that they will be getting a very personal essay about my writing experience. If they go to Konrath's blog, they get something about how to pursue self-publishing through e-books. Bob Mayer's blog will inevitably be about publishing industry shifts, upheavals, author marketing approaches, etc. All of us are bestsellers and making a nice living off of our books.
> Virtual tours are also key. They help sell books because you want the Mommy bloggers on your side probably more than The New York Times Review of Books, even though the latter looks really good on a resume if you plan on teaching college one day.
> Another key: In the begining years, you gotta plan work 7 days a week and you have to stay ahead of the indie curve. In other words, changes are always taking place on the bookseller level, especially at Amazon, where most of us sell the majority of our e-Books. In the past six months alone there is evidence of algorithm shifts in the titles that are promoted through direct marketing. New indie titles like my SCREAM CATCHER are no longer allowed to hang out on the Hot New Bestselling lists for more than thirty days now, as opposed to what had been ninety days. And pricing your books at $.99 doesn't guarantee massive sales anymore like it might have a few months ago, which I believe is due to the fact that so many readers have gotten burned by poorly written books that just plain suck. Which means $.99 can actually be viewed as a red flag for many readers, unless the author is already trusted.
> The second part to all this, is more of a technical nature. You want to tag authors who are also bestsellers and who sell in your genre. This helps get your name out there especially in Amazon land and just might increase your chances of landing in their algorithm-inspired direct marketing campaigns, of which I've been included a couple of times, both times helping me land spots for two of my novels, THE INNOCENT and THE REMAINS, in the top 20 and even top 10 over all kindles.
> IMPORTANT: Extended two to four week stays in the Amazon Top 100 can make the entire financial year for an author. Two similar stays is gravy!!! That's what an author must initially shoot for or two rises to the top. What authors have to understand however, you can't look at being an immediate success. I've only been at this new publishing thing for 14 months, and despite selling around 200-250K e-books, my numbers still fluctuate a lot. That's because I have yet to hit my stride. That's perfectly normal. Whereas hitting a stride in the old traditional method could have taken up to ten years or more (Mega Bestseller Bob Mayer has written extensively on this and I invite you to check out his blog, Write It Forward), hitting the stride in these the days of digital media, can be shortened considerably to 2 or 3 years even (naturally every year we see a breakout bestseller who suddenly takes the world by storm and who is like 19 years old or whatever, but I'm talking the average "very good" and prolific mid-list author here like me...)
> I'm also fortunate to have one of the best agents in the industry right now who isn't panicking to pay the bills by becoming a publisher (aka Trident), because number one, authors trust him and two, he's good at what he does meaning he's staying ahead of the trends and working with them. My deal with Amazon is evidence of staying ahead of that trend and will perhaps shorten the time it will take me to hit my stride by as much as a full year, so long as I continue to market consistently.
> Anyway, sorry to write so much, and perhaps I'll edit this into a blog, but this should give you an idea of the life I'm living as a writer. Just remember this: In the end, the best publicity a writer can provide him or herself is to write more good books. Once you have a certain amount of titles out there and your "brand" is more and more trusted, your audience will begin to expand exponentially.
> Cheers Chip
> Vin
Scream Catcher
Scream Catcher by Vincent Zandri
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Published on October 02, 2011 11:32 • 101 views • Tags: amazon, bestsellers, bob-mayer, kindle, on-marketing, on-writing, the-innocent, vincent-zandri
The following blog is now appearing at THe Vincent Zandri Vox:

If you're like me you like football. Good old, hard-hitting, American football. And if that's the case you probably caught the Superbowl last night. I'm a New Yorker so my favorite home team was playing in the game. The New York Football Giants. Having spent the weekend in New York with my new sig other and our daughter, I was particularly pumped up to catch the last big game of the season. With the New England Patriots and the dangerous quaterbacking of Tom Brady being our opponent, the game promised to be a high scoring scorcher.

It turned out to be anything but that.

Instead the game seemed at times, to be a like a carefully choreographed dance fueled more by what could happen than what would happen. Instead of the Giants utilizing their signature rough and tumble defense to maul Brady, they more or less stood back and allowed him to play his short game while at the same time, preventing him from making any big plays. Kind of the same strategy boxers use when they stand back against the ropes and allow their opponents to hit their arms and foreheads, but not give them the chance to land anything big.

The Patriots played the same kind of game. They allowed the Giants to complete short passes and runs, but prevented any real high scoring. It was a weird game in which the Giant's running back was told not to score. Huh? Time had run down to nearly the last minute and the Giant coaches, who no doubt consulted with their computers, decided that their odds of winning would be greater of they decided not to score a touchdown than if they scored and allowed Tom Brady to march back down the field with one minute on the clock. Instead, the odds would be better for the Giants if they stayed out of the end zone, allowed the clock to wind down to just a few seconds, then took their chances on a game winning field goal.

The Patriots were aware of this strategy also, and in turn ordered their defense to allow the Giants to score a touchdown...In the Superbowl...With one minute to go. What resulted was a Giant running back who bolted to the end-zone only to realize at the very last second that the Patriot defense wasn't trying to tackle him. He tried to pull back, but momentum forced him past the goal, tushy first.

It all turned out OK for the Giants, so I guess the Big Blue coaches, or their computers anyway, were right. But not right for the Patriots. Well, whether you're following me here or not, the whole thing just feels strange to me. It's not just football that's changing. Times are changing, and life as we knew it even five years ago is changing. Never before in my life have things seemed so different. I mean, sure, I wake up and write everyday like always, but it's the way I now conduct my life, my business, my relationships and my thoughts that seems so bassackwards, if you'll allow me to coin a phrase.

For instance: this past weekend, one of my indie publishers, StoneGate Ink, decided to run a promo of the special uncut edition of Moonlight Falls. In terms of changing times, this novel epitomizes the type of thing readers will see in the future in that's its a novel that features additional never before seen chapters and points of view than its originally published form. It's really quite the reading experience. But here's the thing, instead of lowering the price for consumers, they have offered it up for FREE for a limited time only. In turn, the book has shot to the No. 1 spot for Hardboiled Thrillers in the Free category and hit the top ten overall. It's moved something like 13000 copies in 24 hours. That's awesome, I guess. But as writers, aren't we supposed to want to sell our books for profit?

I guess the reasoning behind it all is that if readers enjoy the free copies of my work, they will then be willing to spend a little on the other books. That's what the computer program indicates anyway. I'll check my Amazon rankings for my other books like The Innocent and The Remains and see how they're doing today. Maybe my pub's strategy has paid off and the sales of those former Kindle bestsellers will be on the increase. Maybe not. Computers have been known to be wrong too, you know. Just ask the Patriots.

My newest major publisher is also far different from the publishing houses I knew only ten years ago. They're not even really a publishing house so much as a store. In fact, their computer-generated matrix marketing program virtually assures stellar sales via the Internet. And get this: as authors, we aren't discouraged from doing traditional book signings, but we aren't encouraged to do them either. With sales being fueled by the digital marketplace and the dominant form of reading being the e-Book, book signings are about to become an old fashioned method of selling your books. Book sales today are more about tagging, algirithms, social media pushes, limited-time freebies, blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, and just generally having little or no contact with real people. You just need a computer or a handheld Droid.

In a few weeks I'll speak to some young student writers enrolled in an International Journalism class at the state university. I'll talk a little about how to go about filing stories the traditional way to news agencies around the world while living or spending an extended length of time in a foreign land. But I'll rely heavily on the online opportunities and even then, I'll suggest that they not rely on getting "paid" work, but instead start their own blog in order to post their own stories in their own digital format. They can then monetize the blog while attracting a base of followers who will come to rely on them for newsworthy material, videos and photos. If they are good enough, they might get the stories out far quicker than the major media. If they are really savvy, they can Tweet their stories and U-Tube them with their Smart Phones as they happen. So you see, I'll be talking about becoming a foreign correspondent for a traditional news service, but then, this job really doesn't exist anymore. Because times are changing. The fact that you are reading this blog proves it.

Like I said at the beginning of this piece, I spent the weekend in New York with my new sig other and our daughter. Did you catch that one? "Our daughter?" My new sig other is my old sig other, or my ex-wife. We are giving things a second chance because we still have strong feelings for one another, and hey, this is the modern world. There are numerous websites dedicated to rekindling things with the ex, and how to go about it so the odds are stacked in your favor. In short, you learn to allow your partner to play their short game so that you don't give up the big play. Or, said in another way, if you want your relationship to work this time, you no longer sweat the small things in order that you preserve the long-term goal. That is, being in love forever.

And the computer is right. We're doing fine and discovering new and great things about one another while we laugh about those small things that would have annoyed us even five years ago. Life is weird. Used to be, the more things change, the more they stay the same. But that notion doesn't exactly hold true anymore. Now I believe that the more things change, the the more things change.

Get more Zandri novels: WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

Scream Catcher Scream Catcher by Vincent Zandri
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Published on February 07, 2012 10:44 • 91 views • Tags: bestsellers, mystery, on-publishing, on-writing, patterson, super-bowl, the-innocent, the-remains, vincent-zandri
The following blog is now appearing in slightly different form at The Vincent Zandri Vox:

Once a year I speak to a class of young would-be journalists enrolled in Albany State's (SUNY) International Journalism class. It's a gig I love since I'm pretty passionate about talking writing, especially when I get to talk about myself. What's the one golden rule of journalism we all abide by? People love to talk about themselves! And anyone who has followed my career and enjoyed it, or anyone who simply thinks I'm an egocentric tool, knows full well how much I love to talk about myself.

But speaking to this class is a way for me to give back and to offer some practical advice about reporting from the field, be it Africa, Moscow, Italy, Turkey, Paris, or downtown Albany. There's no rush like filing a story and seeing it go live on-line or printed in a glossy magazine. It's a rush I truly miss now that I'm once again a full-time novelist.

What you're about to read is a piece that was written soon after my visit to the journalism class. It was originally submitted as a part of a mandatory class assignment, but when the class prof read it and chose it as her favorite, she decided to send it on to me. I liked it so much, and thought it so accomplished for a journalism neophyte, I offered to publish it here. And hey, it's all about me.

So, Kenny Gould, young journalist, congrats on your first, or at least, one of your first by-lines. May you enjoy thousands more. And like me, may you become utterly obsessed with words and lust publication even more than the opposite sex.

Author Vincent Zandri Speaks to International Journalism Class
by Kenny Gould

It's rather fitting then that, along with sleeping pills, antibiotics, earplugs, and electrical converters, the "Vincent Zandri Survival Kit" conveniently includes condoms. Zandri didn't set out to give a politically correct "how-to" speech on how to be a journalist in a foreign nation. As a matter of fact, he hates the idea of making how-to guides. He didn't talk about the Five Ws of journalism, he talked about the Five Ws of his own experiences as a foreign corespondent. His speech was a bit scatterbrained at times, but it was brutally honest. By his own admission, if you're looking to be anything but lonely, always on the go, and in plenty of debt, you should quit journalism while you still have a chance to do so. Being a foreign corespondent isn't for you.
You may be a stringer gathering information, a photojournalist grabbing stills, a reporter on camera, or the guy who sits down and write the news story. Whatever you can find work doing, take it. "The world is on a string. Dismiss opportunities at your own peril." In Zandri's experience, there are times where months can go by without getting a break. Other times you're swamped and scrambling to keep up with dozens of other journalists out there just like you, desperately trying to get the next big scoop.
The world of foreign correspondence has changed, says Zandri. He's hardly the only person to feel that way. He started reporting before the digital revolution took over journalism. Before you needed to have a Twitter account. Nowadays a popular blog can circulate Facebook with breaking news before it hits CNN. "If it wasn't for social networking," Zandri says, "I'd be screwed." Writers are some of the most competitive artists out there. Any edge you can get, you should take.
When all else fails, take a break. After years in the field, Zandri is using his stories and his experiences as a journalist to write novels. Using the same social media connections you've already established as a journalist makes getting yourself out there that much easier. His son Harrison is now following in his footsteps as a writer because of it. If novels aren't your thing, trade journalism is a great way to pay the bills, says Zandri. "There's always something out there interesting to someone. As a journalist, you need to learn to write interestingly about a tea bag if you need to."
What should you take away from this? If anything, it's the simple fact that journalism, foreign or otherwise, is not a science. There's no one way to get out there or stay out there. There's no one path to take. Whatever path you do end up making for yourself won't be an easy one, says Zandri. But if that rush, that high, and those endorphins can keep you going, it's all worth it.


The Remains
Vincent Zandri
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Published on March 04, 2012 11:19 • 164 views • Tags: bestsellers, mystery, on-publishing, on-writing, patterson, super-bowl, the-innocent, the-remains, vincent-zandri