Another helpful tip from Uncle Jeff…

I’m sure there are harder things than closing on a house sale from 900 miles away, but just now, in the middle of it, I’d be hard pressed to think of what those harder things might be. Everything that needs signed hurtles across the country via FedEx overnight, questions always take three days to answer, and you’re never entirely sure if what people say they’re doing is what’s getting done. It’s infuriating. It’s like trying to do business by telegram. Sure, it works in theory, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

At this point, I’m utterly convinced I would have ended this process a more sane human being if I had shackled a briefcase full of money to by wrist, flown to Memphis, dumped it on the closing table, signed my name in blood, and then flown back to Maryland for a good night’s sleep. I’m not kidding. Not even a little bit.

I’m beyond caring about costs. I just want this master class in asshattery to be over and done with. So there’s tonight’s helpful tip from your kindly Uncle Jeff – if you’re planning on engaging in any cross-continental real estate transactions, don’t. Just don’t. Take a day and a bucket full of cash and go handle things yourself. By the time it’s over maybe you’ll emerge with at least some of your sanity left.

Retribution…

Retribution - CoverGod watched His creation evolve since long before the written word. He watched even as the first vertebrate flopped out of the sea. He watched long before that. He had great expectations for this new world. This was the one He hoped would finally get it right.

Even though Man was created in His image, they possessed a particularly irksome ability to veer wildly off script. It didn’t help that God’s one-time right hand spent every waking moment for eons finding new and exciting ways to tempt them away from their pre-ordained course.

Once upon a time, a bit of flooding, razing a few misbehaving cities, a smiting here and there, and the occasional miracle had been enough to keep the masses on the straight and narrow. In an age of endless entertainment and short attention spans, even an omniscient and almighty God was apt to have trouble getting His point across.

Retribution: Chasing Hearts and Minds is the story of what happens when the Old Testament God clashes head-to-head with the modern world.

My virgin effort at fiction in a short story format is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

For the grads…

With graduation just around the corner, I’m going to take this Sunday morning opportunity to plug what I think is the essential gift for each and every one of them. And what better gift could you give the graduate in your life than their very own copy of Nobody Told Me: The Cynic’s Guide for New Employees? It’s the gift that says “I care about your future.”

Sure, I know this probably seems self serving, but do you really want your graduate to walk out into the professional world starry-eyed and unsuspecting of the sheer volume of ridiculous shit that’s awaiting them at every turn? Yeah. I didn’t think so. This is the field guide that you and I didn’t receive. We had to learn these little life lessons the hard way. Why not let the next generation benefit from our hard won lessons learned?

So that’s my pitch this morning. Click over to Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords and show that special person in your life that you really do care about their future. You do care, don’t you?

Introduction to Smashwords…

So over the weekend, I realize that I may have not done a very good job explaining one of the retail channels I selected to do business with. Being the biggest in the business, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are pretty much self explanatory. They’re forces of nature that you just accept you’ll do business with if you want to write and publish a book. Sure, you can work around them, but why would you want to?

The third retailer I opted to work with is Smashwords. Unless you have a deep abiding hatred of the big e-retailers or are a serious fan of independent writers, chances are you’ve never heard of them. Hopefully I allretailers can turn you around a bit on that, because I’ve found Smashwords to be a fantastic platform for the indy writer (translation: the author gets to keep a much larger percentage of every sale than they do with sales through other retailers).

Although they are a retailer in their own right, Smashwords biggest claim to fame is that they are large and growing ebook distributor. That means their primary mission in life is making indy works available to a wide variety of other retailers like Apple, Sony, Kobo, and others. This is a good thing because the goal, really, is to have your work available in as many places as possible in addition to the Big Two. More distribution channels means more opportunities for someone to see and hopefully buy your ebook… and that makes for a happy author.

From a reader’s perspective, Smashwords has a lot going for it too. Primarily, that’s because once you buy an ebook from them, you can download it in all of the major ereader formats. Whether you own a Nook, Kindle, or iPad, a Sony reader, something from Kobo, or you just want to read on your laptop or desktop, you can download your book in a format best suited for what device you’re currently using. It’s a great way to make sure your ebooks are not locked in to a specific device or proprietary format. While the e-reader market struggles to sort itself and its industry standards out, you’re safe from the impacts of format change and obsolescence. If you happen to be a voracious reader with a large e-library, that’s a very good thing.

So that’s my pitch by way of introducing everyone to Smashwords. If you’re looking for a read that’s not on the best seller list or have a itch for some of the great independent work out there today, give them a go. I’ve been very impressed with them as both a writer and a reader for the last year. If you’re in a clicking mood, feel free to check out The Cynic’s Guide on Smashwords and take a look around the site.

What I know about marketing…

I considered just leaving the body of this post blank to make my point more dramatic, but that’s not quite a fair assessment. I know some of the basics – like having a webpage and blog, using social media to get your message out, and even some old school tricks like punching out a press release. What I don’t know yet, is how to teach myself what I need to know about the business of marketing to someone other than your friends and fans on Facebook and whoever happens to stumble across your blog.

According to Google, everyone is apparently a marketing expert – or they’re trying to sell their own 16-sept program to super-powered sales. That’s fine. Everyone’s got to make a buck one way or another. It’s a little absurd to rant about someone shilling their own products when I’m spending so much time doing the same thing.

What I’ve found here at the end of the writing and publishing process, is the wide open, undefined space of “what’s next?” I’m going to try to spend some time in the next few weeks giving myself a crash course in marketing and sales… or at least looking around to see what seems to be working for other people in the same boat. Fortunately, I’m not the first guy to ever try doing this so there should be plenty of evidence out there of what works and what doesn’t. Still, I’m really wishing I would have paid more attention to that marketing class when I was getting my MBA. Stupid hindsight wins again.

The journey of 1000 miles…

There are two things I’ve discovered for sure in the exciting world of self publishing: 1) Nothing is as easy or straightforward as it appears; and 2) You will find a typo about 37 seconds after hitting “publish.” Still, getting from the barest notion of an idea to an actual Createspace Announcementprinted book has been a real experience. Since I’ve turned my personal brand of snark and sarcasm loose on the world, the lest I can do now is stand behind it and bother as many people as possible to get behind the effort with me…

That’s why I’m please to announce to you today that Nobody Told Me… The Cynic’s Guide for New Employees is now available in paperback from Createspace for the low, low price of $7.99 (+3.52 shipping and handling of course). I might be biased, but I think it would still be a deal at twice the price.

For Amazon Prime members, the paperback should be available through Amazon in the next week if you want to save the shipping costs. As soon as I’ve got confirmation back from Amazon, I’ll post a notification here and on my Facebook Fan Page.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step away from the keyboard, fix a strong drink, and take a breath.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to tell you tonight that the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. My first book, Nobody Told Me… The Cynic’s Guide for New Employees, is now available through three major retail partners – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

For the low, low introductory price of $2.99, you can enjoy (and critique) the fruits of my labor… so act now to lock in the introductory price before it goes up to full retail. Until I learn more about the printing side of this business, Nobody Told Me will be available as an ebook only.Cover

This has been a fantastic project and I’ve had a lot of help getting to this point – without naming names, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has had a hand in editing, provided material, or just let me talk though the ideas when I needed to. It would never have gotten done without your help.

To those of you who are considering laying down your hard earned money for this book, I want to thank you too – not just for supporting the notion that an independent writer has a shot at getting his work in front of people – but because you’re going to get a chance to look at the first edition. Even though it’s been through many, many cycles of editing I’m absolutely sure there are places where things can still be better. I want everyone to feel free to make recommendations, provide feedback, and have a hand in the process. I promise I won’t take it personally; not to mention once changes are made, you get to download the updates for free… and who doesn’t like free?

In conclusion, buy my book. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

P.S. Don’t forget to become a fan of my new “official” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/official.jeffrey.tharp,