Friday, September 23, 2016

Method to Madness: My reasoning behind my book pricing

In the never ending quest for the right pricing, trust me when I say I tried several price ranges to see what worked best, and you know what worked best?

.............. I'm asking, because I don't know either. That's because pricing was not what was letting me get to less or more people. My pricing wasn't opening gateways or tapping into people. I pretty much made the same amount of money from .99 cent books as I did pricing at $6.99.

But along the way, I learned how I was going to price my work and how I will ALWAYS price my work when I go to events and online.

If you check my Amazon Author Page, you'll see a pattern:

Novels: $4.99
Collections $3.99
Poetry: $2.99

How did I magically arrive to these numbers?

For indie authors, if you price something at $2.98 or less, you earn 35% on every sale. If you price it at $2.99 or more, you earn 70%. I write poetry, collections, and novels, so that's three price tiers in my mind because I think a more complex the work shouldn't be priced identically to something that was quicker to produce. So basically the lowest I can price it is $2.99 and I work from that.

At events, my pricing is as follows:

Novels: $20.00
Collections $15.00
Poetry: $10.00
- Blanc Comics - Event exclusive $3.00

The price hike is significant, but there's also a few reasons for this. The cost per impression of each book is taken into account as is shipping. Last year I spent hundreds of dollars on printing and shipping, and luckily I was able to recover it and start to see some profit in this event. I used earnings to pay for my 2017 booth at the Puerto Rico Comic Con and I was able to recover what I pay to the artists for my book covers. A cover can range from $200-$400 with the people whose work I trust and  I will not cut corners.

Last year, a young man asked me if I'd give him a deal since it was the last day of the event. I apologized and said that I was not able to do that because it would be unfair to people who paid full price and even visited me all three days. I will say though, sometimes I make an exception. A lovely reader who had visited last year and came back this year had purchased 4 of my books between both years and was torn between which to get for the 5th book. I gave her a complimentary copy because to know someone would read 6 of my works is touching to such a level. But I won't haggle or lower pricing just for the sake of that. In the case of the Blanc Comics, $3 is as low as I can price them without losing money.

When I do online sales, I do price my books at .99 cents but I do that because I do the sales in the hope of also raising awareness for a cause I believe in, like what I did for #WritesForLife (all proceeds went to the American Cancer Society in the hopes of raising awareness of a good organization that DOES use money donated correctly).

So as you can see, this has been SUPER researched... or not so much. What ended up being the reason for my pricing is what do I feel Ok in pricing, and when I found this "formula" I stuck with it and will always do so.

What about you though? Do you think my pricing is fair? If you're an author, how did you decide on your pricing?

Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

For now though,

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Friday, September 16, 2016

An evening with JD Estrada

In march of this year, I did the first of 3 events I’ve done so far which have included “An Evening with JD Estrada”, my participation in the Puerto Rico Comic Con, and an event at Libros AC where I presented Shadow of a Human along with Twenty Veinte and my first Spanish poetry collection.

For “An Evening with JD Estrada”, I went to the Poet’s Passage in Old San Juan and wanted to do something a lot more casual and relaxed since I wasn’t presenting new material, but instead sharing my up to that moment published work.

It was relaxed, it was fun, it was different. My brother bought me a bottle of red wine and I did some wine sharing. After a brief intro, my book event started with me on the guitar lol. Not the easiest way to break the ice, but something I’d been wanting to do for so long because singing in public is something I’d only done twice before: in high school, singing a musicalized version of a poem and at my wedding, where I took an old song and gave it a new spin.

So to put it lightly, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing lol. Luckily it wasn’t too bad even though I probably committed mistakes on each and every song, but for my first public performance, not bad.

After that I proceeded to read poetry from all my works, including Only Human and the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore. I wanted to show that even in my novel and my short story collections there is poetry in both and that as such, poetry is in my life and shall be in my work.

I did a short set list, 5 songs in total, read from all 5 books I’d published and enjoyed the company of friends, family, and some wonderful surprises in the form of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Next week I’ll be posting all the videos I have of the event, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who went and to everyone who supports me in all my random things.

Cheers and til next we see each other,

Peace, love, and maki rolls


Here are a couple of pics of the event, enjoy.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wordcounts and the damage done

Every person is motivated by different things.

Some people see the words ascending on their project documents and it gets them high. As it is, my fascination with word count is more on the lines of seeing how many words it takes to carry something forth. Being a copywriter in advertising, public relations, and corporate communications, wordcounts are a big deal because sometimes the amount of words can make or break a communication piece.

From a corporate communications perspective, if a letter from a company is too long, you just blew through your budget on a letter than won't be read. If you make it too short, people won't bother paying much attention, even if it's vital information. In a print ad, although the body copy can vary, the headline rarely tolerates more than 8 words (and that's pushing it).

So my relationship with words varies from medium to medium and from project to project.

I enjoy writing, this is no secret and I wear that truth on my sleeve proudly. I like writing articles, essays, haikus, poetry, tweets, cheeky comments, and hand written letters. In this love affair with words, I treat them with utmost care, fully aware that sometimes you need a dozen words to let someone know something will be all right and also being able to burn the midnight oil in the delightful art of conversation.

As it stands, some people do fixate on word counts and measure progress quantitatively.

For me, I try to use the words I need to say what I have to say. That's why my first novel is 164K words while its sequel is 85K. That's why I have poems that are but four lines and others that are longer than some chapters I've written.

For some people, hitting 2Ks in a day is a worthy mark... it means there's progress, they can see their effort tangibly and that's beautiful. Because they found their motivation.

Other people break at seeing they only wrote 200 words in one day. They think themselves failures.

This is hardly fact and more often than not just reflection that the person has not found the right stimulation. I've taken months to write 3 pages and have churned out chapters in a couple of days. It's all to do with flow and how that story and those words are sitting within you.

Word counts are water and sunlight for the fields of certain writers and salt for others.

For me, it's a fun fact, but it's not what drives me. To finish 3 chapters shall always mean more to me than writing 5 thousand words, because I measure my progress in the way I feel about my story. I know what it takes to finish a song, a poem, a story, and a book. I know when it feels right and that's what I allow to dictate how I feel about a project. That's because my motivation is my own as your motivation is your own.

If word counts turn you off, find out what turns you on. Make a game out of it. Use something that makes sense to you and not something you read in a "How to write" blog and I guarantee you'll be happier, write more, writer faster, writer better and feel downright invincible.

Remember, this is your life and YOUR story. Don't let anyone else tell you how to write it.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why I don't auto-reply

A lot of people you follow on different social media and within a minutes they reply... or more so a bot does.


I have never automated replies because I think of how I feel when I get one and although it is convenient, I don't want any contact with me to leave that bitter taste in your mouth.

Being fascinated by all things human and the component of humanity in our lives, automating anything would feel fake and as "un-me" as I could think of. The more time passes, the more I'm disappointed when I have a new follower only to be contacted by their bot.

I get it. Life is busy. We're busy. We all have a ton of things on the plate, but think of those times when the human touch makes the difference. When human interventions improve an experience exponentially. Now think of every time you have to call a "convenient" call center where getting in touch with a voice, a real human voice, is nigh impossible.

That's why I don't automate anything. I do my best to reply to everyone on every channel and I even paused writing this blogpost to respond to someone who had written me on Facebook. It matters to me to do that because I want everyone to know that they are valued.

To have anyone show any interest in what I do with SO much content out there truly shows how lucky I am. That people retweet me, fav me, comment on Instagram, follow on Facebook, thumb up on youtube, and beyond is all so special to me because someone showed that they cared.

So the least I can do is care back.

The Industrial Revolution made production easier on a mass scale, it also left countless people without jobs. There is good and bad to this automation thing, but to me, nothing can replace the gift of time. So for as long as I can do it and how much I can do it, I shall always be the one doing the writing and commenting, because I have that old school desire.

Some people ask where do we find the time and I think the challenge is to make time yield as much as it possibly can. So to everyone who comments, messages, likes, and favs, thank you for your generous gift. If I delay, my bad... but I will always do my best to get back to you.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

4 to 40

Although my birthday was a month ago, I'm still filled with a sense of gratitude for this particular birthday. It’s amazing how much can happen in a year, where your mindset can shift to with just 365 days. It’s been an interesting year where I do feel I’ve had to dig deeper than most of my life to give my best, to be my best, and oftentimes just to be well. 2015 was a roller coaster ride year but of the negative kind. So many challenges, so many stumbles, but the only option was to go forwards.

This year so far has been quite the ride but in its randomness. Some lows, but sooooo many highs. So many successes, so much kindness, so many beautiful people in my life, and so many types of freedoms. Last year was filled to the brim with challenges but of the negative kind, and this year I’ve had plenty of challenges but of the great kind, so I wanted to pay the kindness forwards.

I did a #WritesForLife sale where everything I earned, I gave to the American Cancer 
Society. I said I would match it up to $300, fully not expecting to reach that goal. Then my boss pulls me aside and asks me who to make the check out to. Then people at my job asked me what I was doing and how they could help. Seeing the desire of people to help and the messages I received of people who made donations who already own my books was very touching.

Some people have told me "that's nice, because you didn't have to do it." The thing is that I DID have to do it. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. My dad passed away due to brain cancer. A dear friend survived breast cancer. Other great friends have survived while others have not. In a day when we're used to receiving, I wanted to give back for the lessons I've had in the last year, the opportunities I've been given, the variety of highs I've had, the successes I've had, and the support I've had. So trust me when I say I had to give back. I truly believe that in life, receiving requires we give to keep the balance. To think beyond ourselves.

To boot, on the day of my birthday, Monica Puig made Olympic history giving Puerto Rico its first gold medal. It was a moment of so much emotion and me and my wife truly showed our true colors. To celebrate I had wanted to go to Medieval Times... and there we were, eating chicken with our hands, watching our Green Knight try to battle for victory, and using the WiFi given in the facilities to follow the game. When the show was over, we sat at a table and finished the game. Someone actually asked me if I didn't mind Monica "stealing my thunder". My reply to that is to let people know that while we watched our national anthem play for the first time in the Olympics, two Puerto Ricans who left the Island in the name of opportunity cried their eyes out and it made this 36th birthday one of the most memorable in my life.

Throughout the weekend, I was able to help a good cause and my country won a gold medal and still people took the time to send their love and blessings through phone calls, text messages, emails, tweets, and comments. People have been reading my work, I've connected with new friends, I discovered more new places that are wonderful and the feeling of happiness has lingered.

I'm also officially past the midway point in my 30's... but that is another post altogether. 

So for now,

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Monday, September 12, 2016

The challenge of goodbye

Goodbye is one of the hardest things to say to anyone in your life. As we grow older, there are many types of goodbyes we have to go through, some harder, more permanent than others. On occasion though, the inability to say goodbye has more to do with lack of time and the complexity of things than anything else.

I'm working on my 3rd month away from Puerto Rico and people are still finding out that I left the Island to try my hand at several new things. The final days before leaving weren't the most pleasant, but not because it was hard to leave home and family... that's come along later. It was hard because moving from one place to another isn't exactly simple, with the exception of two offices in Puerto Rico, the ACAA and the local Police force, who were commendable in their tact, professionalism, and speed. Apart from these two offices, everyone else made the process pretty hard and unpleasant to put it lightly.

Throughout the ordeal of moving my car to the states (which I do not recommend after the difficulty of this process) and trying to finalize several steps of the moving process, the date to leave was upon me... and I hadn't said goodbye to most of the people in my life or finished doing many things. (If you think you have everything sorted, think again. There's always something else.)

Hindsight is 20/20 and of course now I'm aware of several things I could have done different... and a lot of that sunk in as my plane departed to the states. A lot of people wanted to say goodbye and I honestly wonder if part of me just preferred to leave without saying goodbye, because it is in fact very hard.

My time in the states is just starting and I will definitely be commenting on several things of this experience. I've been blessed to find myself in the company of kind people who have been so helpful and so considerate with me and my wife. The people in the state of Georgia have also been very friendly all around and I'm impressed at truly experiencing southern hospitality.

Now that I'm settling in, the missing is starting to hit, where you find yourself enjoying so many things but missing just as many from home, because, well it's home. Some people have asked me how I'm faring in my new home and the best way I can describe it is that it's home away from home. The apartment starts feeling like home, the people start feeling like home, but nothing and no one can replace that one true home.

I could move to Japan, I could travel the world, I could explore outer space, and home will always be a tiny Island in the Atlantic, with the Caribbean sea beneath it, that lives eternally in summer, that has issues, that has problems, but that is home. 

So maybe it's not that I'm bad at saying goodbyes... maybe I just don't feel the need to say goodbye, because a piece of home will always be within, wherever I go.

More to come, but for now...

Peace, love, and maki rolls