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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Potential Cover Art for Council of Peacocks

Option Number 1

Option Number 2

Option Number 3

Option Number 4

So what do you like/not like about these options? Any suggestions to make them better? Sound off below.

The cover artist is Dane Low. I found him here: E-Book Cover Design.  He's very talented. Any fault with the covers come from my lack of experience.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Who's Responsible for the Windsor Hum? The Illuminati?

Need to stop researching The Windsor Hum for a bit. U.S. Steel is tied to weird vibrational hums not just in Windsor but in Pennsylvania...which just so happens to be the headquarters of U.S. Steel. A little digging shows that several board of director members are swapped in and out of U.S. Steel and Heinz. Weird eh? Not when you realize that both companies are owned, by the same shareholders.

Who are they? Vanguard Group and BlackRockEquity are among the majority shareholders. So who are they? A quick internet search reveals (deep breath) they are rumoured members of Bilderberg Group,and the Trilateral Commission. In other words, the Illumnati.

Research is taking me to a place I never expected. I think this story goes deeper than the surface. It also helps to explain why nothing is being done to stop the noise. Forget the Illuminati nonsense for a minute. Look at what these people own. You'll soon realize they have more than enough money to buy the silence and inactivity of our politicians.

Now to focus on something that doesn't make me sound like a crazy person.

Link: Who Are the Vanguard Group?

Marketing Ebooks: Treat it Like a Good

Elements of a Product

Yesterday's post detailed why I believe an ebook, although intangible, should be considered a good.

So why do you care?

You need to market a good differently than a service. One example of this is separating the core product from actual product.


At the center of your product is a good story that meets or exceeds their expectations. This means you need to understand target market and your genre. However, success as a writer means you have to go well beyond providing the core benefit.


"...a factual statement about the product or service being promoted" (source). Established products need to stand out from the competition. They need to focus on how they are unique, different. However, if you are not well known, maybe you should focus on how you are similar to a known entity.

Packaging and Design
Bad cover art ruins your chances of sales. I understand that cover art can be expensive.However, after so many examples of bad cover art I've lost all my patience. There are so many resources out there to provide decent cover art for low costs.  Skimping on your cover art is lazy and disrespectful to your customers. If you are not prepared to treat your work seriously and market is as such, why would any reader take it seriously.

Poor editing ruins your chance of repeat sales. It is also an easy way to create the wrong type of reputation.  A good cover and an intriguing synopsis may pull someone into buying from you once. But never again. Worse, they will tell everyone they know how much they dislike your work. There are many resources that provide free editing help. Some of these are online (e.g. Suckers Guild) while others may be found locally. If you can't find one, start one. The more eyes you have looking at your work and providing HONEST feedback, the more likely you will produce a quality product.

Brand Name
This will take you some time to build. However, over time people will establish expectations of your quality based on their past experiences and the past experiences of others. Make sure you establish quality early.

As a writer today, your job does not stop at creating a good story. You have to consider all aspects of your reader's interaction with your book. It's time to step up your game.
  1. Hire a professional cover artist.
  2. Get expert editorial help
  3. Carefully craft your synopsis
  4. Get clear on your target market's expectations 

What is a Product and How Can Product Planners Build Customer Value
Marketing Features vs. Benefits


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Writing: Is it a Good or a Service?



I'm currently updating the curriculum for our marketing classes. The textbook our college use distinguishes between editing for goods and services. Then it hit me: what is writing?

If you'd asked me a few years ago I would have called it a good. After all, a good is anything tangible, something you can touch. We buy books so the product we offer must be a good.

Not anymore. With the growth of ebooks, many people purchase works from authors that is not tangible.

Still, to truly be considered a service it must meet 3 other tests:


Services cannot be stored for later sale. In many ways, ebooks are easier to store than physical books. They do not compete for shelf-life. They can easily be sold for years.


Services cannot be separated from their providers. You can't have a hair cut without the hairdresser but you can have the ebook when the author is not present.


You can easily alter the quality of a product for each individual customer. While it's possible to alter an ebook much easier than putting out a new edition of a physical book, you cannot easily re-edit the book for each reader.


Even if you sell primarily ebooks, when people buy your writing they are actually purchasing a good.

So what's the big deal?

Marketing experts will tell you there is a difference between marketing strategies for goods and services. I will go over those differences on my post tomorrow.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Friday, March 15, 2013

Stop Thinking: Getting Past Writer's Block

I've been stuck for a week now. I'm in the midst of a complete rework of my work in progress (WIP in writer lingo). Everything was going well...until I hit a specific fight scene. Unlike Council of Peacocks (out April 2013), this novel is pure epic fantasy. So my muscular warrior woman draws a battle axe to face an undead sorceror and....


I stopped.  I walked away from the computer and I haven't been back yet. Oh, I've working. Just not on that scene. While journaling this morning I realized why I walked away.

I started to think.

I've been fortunate enough to teach a writing class for the last six years. I've read the textbook often and I give great advice to my students.

Stop thinking.

The biggest reason for writer's block is that people allow their internal censor to question the quality of writing before it is even completely. It is essentially the same thing as looking at a 5 year old and saying "You'll never amount to anything. Just give up now."


There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. Real quality is created by editing and revising.

The only way to get a novel finished is keep writing. Even when you know it is bad (especially when you know it is bad) just keep going. Allow your first draft to be complete garbage. Just keep writing. Of course, I can imagine many people out there yelling at the screen right now: "it's not that simple."

But it is. Really. If you don't believe me check with any successful writer. The only cure for writer's block is sit your butt down and do the write. Henry Miller famous said "When you cannot create you can work". Don't kid yourself, writing is hard work. If you are looking for something easy you are in the wrong profession.

That doesn't mean you publish your first draft. That's silly. And lazy. But before you can revise and edit, you have to get the first draft done. So stop thinking about what you want to write. Just do it.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why the Veronica Mars Kickstarter is Amazing News for Creative People

Season 1 of Veronica Mars may be the single best season of television ever. The character arcs, the acting, the directing, the writing: all are amazing.

So I was thrilled to learn the Veronica Mars movie we've been promised for years is finally a go.

So what took is long? The studios.  Apparently, they couldn't see the money. Remember, the big studios are big business. It is not about creativity or quality for them. They have investors to answer to. If it's not going to make money, they are not interested. They are also very risk-averse thanks to several big-budget flops. John  Carter was actually a fun movie but it didn't make as much money as they wanted. So don't hold your breath on a sequel.

Veronica Mars has been off the air since 2007. It was cancelled because, despite all the fan and critic love, it wasn't getting the numbers the studios wanted.

This project does have some backing from Warner Bros. It seems they found a way to remove their risk aversion: prove there is still a market for the movie.

Rob Thomas (not the singer) and team wanted to raise $2 million in 30 days. Everyone involved knew this was an aggressive goal. Within 24 hours they had raised 2.5 million.

So why should you care? I mean, if you're not a fan of the series or couldn't care less about a movie being made, how is this good news for you?

Exposure. Kickstarter has been around for a few years now (since 2009). It is an amazing way for people to fund their own projects by asking for donations. Google Kickstarter today. It is all over the place. Which  means more people will start looking into other projects they can fund.  Success for Veronica Mars also means success for everyone else with projects on Kickstarter. The more projects we have like this, the more likely you'll be able to raise money yourself.

A few weeks ago I saw an amazing TedTalk with Amanda Palmer. It's well worth the watch.

To summarize, she says fans and consumers want to give artists money. We just need to find a way to allow them to give us that money.  Many people on Kickstarter ask for small amounts of money. Last year Amanda Palmer made headlines because she dared ask for $100,00. Then she raised $1.2 million. Suddenly everyone was very interested in Kickstarter.

Artists and creators of all sorts can now reach out directly to their fan base. No longer do they have to filter their projects through business men only concerned about the bottom line.

The Veronica Mars Kickstarter proves now is an amazing time to be a creator.

The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter
Amanda Palmer's Official Website

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Joy of Editing (Why You Need to Kill Your Darlings)

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings”
William Faulkner
Council of Peacocks is not my first novel. It is actually the 5th novel I wrote but the first worthy of being published. It is also the book I have spent the most time revising and editing.

Just how many times did I rewrite it? Five times.

That's right: I went through the book 5 times before I thought it was good enough for someone else to critique. It is currently out with a second round of beta readers. I had three people read it when I finished the second draft. That was over five years ago.

When I decided to send it out to another round of beta readers, I thought about re-editing it first. I decided I wasn't going to catch anything more. If it escaped me through 5 revisions and my 1st group of beta readers didn't catch it, only another writer could.

I was completely cocky at first. I thought my book was perfect.


There were dozens of spelling and grammar mistakes. On top of that, several people found a few of my characters completely unlikeable. One beta reader found an entire scene completely disgusting and out of tone with the rest of the novel. Another reader, already an accomplished author of several books himself, took a red pen to whole sentences and paragraphs because they destroyed the pace and energy.

And I couldn’t be happier.

It is not fun having my faults pointed out to me. It is very humbling. However, now that I can see the weak points in my writing, I can fix them. The worst thing you can do for a writer is lie hoping to save his or her feelings. Honesty and a critical read is all any writer could ask for.

Next week I’m starting final edits of Council of Peacock. I haven’t read through it in almost 5 years now. Hopefully with that amount of time and the feedback of 8 beta readers will make me the distance I need to kill my darlings.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Christie Stratos: Why I Recommend her Beta Reading Services

A few weeks ago Christie Stratos agreed to beta read my novel Council of Peacocks. It is a much better book thanks to her input.

Let me brag about myself for a second. I've taught a course on Effective Business Writing for 6 years. I have also previously worked as a technical writer. I've also taken numerous linguistic courses in French and English.  I get grammar. I also took creative writing courses at the University of Windsor when Alistair MacLeod taught there. If you don't know him, he's pretty famous in the Canadian Literature scene.

Stratos' work went well beyond nuts and bolts. Grammar mistakes are easy fixes. She pointed out weaknesses in the story and inconsistencies between scenes. This type of error is much harder to spot and more important to the reader's enjoyment.

Every suggestion she offered made complete sense. She pointed out errors in a gentle tone because she understands how sensitive us artistic types can be.

She also did something very difficult to do: she made suggestions without changing my writer's voice.

If you are looking to hire an professional to look over your work, I highly recommend Christie Stratos. She also has a special promotion on right now.  See below for the link.

Beta Reading Special Offer: Hurry! Time is almost up.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: Nightlife Las Vegas by Travis Luedke

I just finished Nightlife: Las Vegas by Travis Luedke. Wow.

I've read Nightlife: New York twice now. I really enjoyed it even though I'm not normally a huge fan of paranormal romance. Although, now that I think about it, I have read everything all the Kim Harrison books.

Nightlife: Las Vegas takes the next logical projection. Vampires in a new relationship are not likely to take midnight strolls and stare at the moon. There will be sex and blood and a whole bunch of violence. In every way I loved this book more.

The sex is much more intense. Like Book of O, Fifty Shades of Gray intense.

The violence hinted at in Nightlife: New York is also amped up. Now it feels more a True Blood episode directed by Quentin Tarantino.

I was also impressed by the introduction of subtext.  A very clear distinction is made between vampire venom and heroin.  Luedke shows us that addiction to any drug has some very serious consequences. Even if it feels fun at the time, it is going to end badly.

Nightlife: Las Vegas ends well.  Notice I didn't say it has a happy ending. The stakes get raised yet again in a very exciting way.  I look forward to Nightlife: Paris when it is released later this year.

My Review of The Nightlife: New York (where it all begins)
My Review of The Nightlife: Paris (sequel to Nightlife: Las Vegas)

Buy Nightlife: Las Vegas United States (

Buy Nightlife: Las Vegas Canada (

Travis' Blog for the Nightlife Series

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