Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance: the SONG!!!!!!

In case you haven’t read the book, Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance is set in the year 2134 when a wide variety of neohumans are genetically engineered to serve humanity. One type of neohuman is the dwarf, designed for dangerous, difficult jobs such as mining, volcanic research, Martian colonization, and warfare.

A strong theme running through the books is the prejudice that neohumans (also called gennies) must endure. While gennies free humans from many difficult or dangerous jobs, they are also hated by some. Most humans don’t think they deserve the same rights.

The bigotry in the world has resulted in a song titled Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance. There are a few lyrics of the song in the book, and a reporter even interviews the imprisoned drummer (BangBang Bangster).

I put the song, lyrics, and drummer in the story just to add flavor for the grim and gritty world. I was quite surprised when musician Jeff Shields emailed me a little while ago to say he was creating a song based on my book Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance!

He had a rough cut that he sent me and it sounded cool and appropriately futuristic. I sent him some more of the lyrics that hadn’t made it into the book and he went to work.

Now you can hear what Earless is humming in the first scene of the book! Of course, just like it says in the book, the lyrics are kind of unintelligible, but the song certainly gets across the anger and grit of the fictional universe.

Click here to visit the Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance single website, by Kleptonaut.

If you like the song, why not donate a dollar or two to help out independent musicians? Kleptonaut is an independent band with a couple other songs available. Check them out!

About Kleptonaut

The band Kleptonaut includes Jeff Shields, Wilcox Televance, and Garrett Xian.

I asked them for an interview and they readily accepted:

DJC: How did you guys form Kleptonaut?

Jeff: Kleptonuat has been just me, but this incarnation of the band was assembled just for this song. I haven't seen Wilcox in more than 20 years. I was briefly in a high school band with him.  I briefly was in Wilcox and company's  high school for his high power cover band (Rush, Yes, Metalica, Van Halen, Pat Benatar,).   We won battle of the bands that year, but I'm not sure if it was our playing or as I've only heard recently a rumour of my brother stuffing the ballot boxes. So I just recently got in touch with him via Facebook and approached him with the idea of this crazy song.

Wilcox: I'm a NYC based producer. I'm knee deep in the city's club/dance scene, so 'Dwarves' seemed a good project to collaborate on. I thought the idea for the song was so crazy it just might work. Or fail miserably. I was up for either.

Jeff: Wilcox's stuff is great.  When I heard how clean and frosty his beats were and that he was using the same software as me, I suspected working with him might elevate my often chaotic music into something tasty, even downright delectable. I was in a college band with Garrett. When I decided I needed a vocalist with the powers of David Bowie, I sent Garret this long explanation of what we were up to but interestingly enough he was only able to read a small indecipherable portion of the message as he didn't realize you had to scroll through the message in facebook.

Garrett: When I showed up to his house I had little to no idea what the ju ju bees he was talking about.

DJC: Can you talk about how you created the song? We collaborated a bit on the lyrics, but then you took them and exploded them into a finished song. Who did what for the instrumentals and vocals?

Jeff: I added some to the lyrics you sent me, mostly I wanted some more rhymes, but I tried to take my cue from the world of your book. I originally recorded some rough tracks and sent them to Wilcox, who then worked on it.

Wilcox: It was a Band 2.0 thing, you know collaborating virtually.  We all met while lost in corn maze and found we had mutual love of fields, games and vegetables.

Jeff:  Wilcox made up the bit about the corn maze... Anyways Wilcox magically transformed the song into punk rock disco from hell, but it was a bit too evil ( So Wilcox and I decided to dial it back and I recruited Garrett. I added some more music. Garrett came up with the vocal melody and I sent it to Wilcox.

Garrett: This was a musical experiment unlike anything I had ever done before. I walked into Jeff's studio having only listened to the rough mix a few times. He handed me the words and we talked about doing it either in an incongruous, high-toned, Morrisseyesque style or something a bit more toward Peter Murphy. The first take (a la Morrissey) was a little off, so we went dark. I wrote the melody in basically 2 takes, and that's what you hear.

Wilcox: And then I messed with a bit more on the second go round. Dropped in some bass, mixed in some of Jeff's evil vocals, straightened up the chaos and put a few dolops of color splash, you know to keep it properly seasoned. And Voila, DDDD.  Now you have a modern twist on the future-punk/neo-goth sound done with the post-power trio lineup.  Beats, bass, regurgitated vocals, guitars in a blender, with dash of synth to taste.

Jeff: Aren't you glad you asked?

DJC: What advice do you have for other indie musicians?

Jeff: Do it for love, money, or fun.

Garrett: More cowbell.

DJC: Just imagining the grim protagonist of the novel, Noose the genetically engineered dwarf mercenary, dancing disco like John Travolta is a hoot! How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

Jeff: The characters who are singing the song are evil, nasty pieces of work. I didn't want people to take what they are singing seriously. In the book the song is just a backdrop for the hero, Noose, so I wanted to bring the hero to the foreground of the album cover. So, in a sense, Noose is getting the last laugh on these jerks. The jerks on the cover are us.

DJC: Do you have any other creative endeavors you’d like to talk about?

Jeff: I just finished two sci-fi themed albums, which are at www.kleptonaut. com. The song Dead Dwarves Don't Dance, is a departure for all of us, but we tried to make something that fit into the fictional world of your book. I'd like to recruit both of these guys to do something in the future, but who knows what.

Garrett: Whatever's next, I'm in!

I’d like to thank Jeff, Wilcox, and Garrett for creating this awesome song. It’s really cool that my creative efforts inspired other artists to further expand the Dead Dwarves universe!

Now head on over to their music page and buy the song!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Twelve Worlds SF&F anthology report

On April 16th thirteen other independent authors and I released a science fiction and fantasy anthology titled Twelve Worlds. It has 14 different short stories for a total of 80,000+ words. The author proceeds from sales will be donated to Reading is Fundamental, the largest literacy charity in the US.

It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords for $2.99.

When it was released several contributors blogged about it and found some people to do online reviews.

We didn’t spend any money on advertising.

We’ve sold 158 copies so far.

You can see the initial spike when all us authors bought a copy, but after that it’s been pretty consistent over time at around 1 copy sold a day on average.

I’m surprised that the book isn’t doing a little bit better. With 14 different authors blogging and telling friends I would have thought we’d have more than a couple sales a day.

It’s clear that people are not finding Twelve Worlds. It’s not in any top 100 lists. This is the same problem my YA book, The Elemental Odyssey, is facing. People aren’t finding the book so they can’t buy it, and because people aren’t buying the book others can’t find it.

Starting this month I’m conducting another advertising experiment, this time for The Elemental Odyssey. I’m spending $500 over two months to get 400,000 ad impressions on a website that I believe is pre-disposed to be interested in my book. I’ll give a report on this experiment in a couple weeks.

If the advertising for The Elemental Odyssey works, then it might be worth it to find a similarly targeted advertising venue to market Twelve Worlds. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Stay tuned!

And if you haven’t bought Twelve Worlds yet, why not give it a try? 14 stories for $2.99 is a great deal!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July 2011 sales report

July was my tenth month selling ebooks.

I sold 1200 copies of 4 different titles. That’s a decrease of 13% from June. That’s two months in a row of sales decline, but at least the rate of decline is slowing.

My average sales per day were 45.9 in June and 38.7 in July.

My royalties also declined from $1,312.41 to $1,059.91.

If sales continue like they have for July, I should gross about $14,500 in 2011. Still a tidy sum!

But what could be causing my declining sales?

My DeadDwarves Don’t Dance novel is still rated at an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon (86% positive ratings). So, it’s not losing sales because of bad reviews.

I’ve sold a total of 6,381 copies of Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance. There are millions of ereaders out there, so I don’t think I’ve reached the limit of the cyberpunk fans.

Could it be a Summer sales slump? That’s possible, but my sales rank is also slowly worsening. If there is a Summer sales slump, shouldn’t my relative sales rank remain the same?

I think the primary reason for the sales decline is the two ebook sales that Amazon ran recently. With all those new books at 99 cents to $3.99, lots of people probably didn’t go searching for other books.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can figure out exactly what’s causing it. But is there anything I can do to turn around the decline?

I could try some advertising, but that didn’t work for me before.

I don't have thousands, or even hundreds, of dollars to spend on a huge marketing campaign. So, that leaves my fans. If you’d like to help you can do a couple things:

1.    If you've read and enjoyed any of my books, you can post a review on its Amazon page.

2.    If you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books, you can add tags to the book. Just visit the pages below and check the boxes that you agree with, or add new tags

Both of these things can help my books move up the best-reviewed list and some of the search and tags lists.

I’m not sure if this will help ranking or sales, but I’ll report back next month with results.