“Girl in White” from Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II

Special thanks to all our Letter Writers for the New Volume! Go ahead, write your own Letters and send them in. We dare you…

Here is a fireside reading of “Girl in White” by yours truly with my trusty companion.

 

 

Girl in White,

I was walking in the cemetery with my dog, Maggie. We are caretakers of sorts. Unofficial titles, of course, but the dead see us every day. I tip my hat and make notes. I am not afraid and I like the quiet. It is actually a nice place with hills for calf muscles and names to remember.

We were nearly a mile into our ritual. The heat of the day was still in full effect. The sun blazed off the tar walkways. That was when my dog stopped pulling, about a mile in. She’ll pull in the beginning, want me to run. Today wasn’t a running day. Today was a talking on the phone day. Same shoes, different activity.

That’s what I was doing when I saw you. You were sitting there with your legs sprawled, wearing a white shirt and some kind of shorts near the stairs that led down a row. I could tell you had dirty blonde, mid-length hair with thick, black mascara that had to be running. You waved to me and voiced hello.

I thought it strange to see someone else alive in this place amongst the dead. You don’t see a lot of movement in a cemetery. My dog does get distracted by the occasional squirrel or bird, but you don’t see a lot of human movement. You don’t think you see human movement anyway, or certainly wouldn’t want to. That is not why we go there.

You waved and I waved with my only free hand which held my phone. I waved with my phone. I’m sorry. I didn’t know if you were trying to get my attention or if you needed something. Maybe you just wanted to talk. The phone call I was on was important and couldn’t wait. I’m sorry if I left you there all alone with the dead.

I still wonder why you were just sitting there in the cemetery. Sometimes I see workers but not very often. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas, I can sit on my porch, drink my coffee, and watch the well-wishers drive in, take their moments, and drive out. I don’t gawk at them. That would be disrespectful. I do notice them. I wonder if they ever notice me watching over the place. I wonder if they know that I would report any vandals, that I don’t let my dog on the grass, except at the very top where there are no graves. There’s just an empty field there for future sadness.

You were the only other person alive for miles and I brushed you off with a half wave of my phone. I am so sorry. I should have at least said that I would make another round and then we could have a chat. I would finish up my conversation, come back, and we could talk about things for a bit. If I had just said that, the person who was on the phone wouldn’t have minded at all.

Maybe we could have gotten along somehow. You seemed pretty but in distress. Perhaps we could have walked together. Since Maggie wasn’t pulling, you could have had a turn leading her. You could have tried her out and I could have rested my arm as we had our secret meeting. I should have at least stopped and asked if you were alright.

You were the only one amidst the sprawling mementos of the dead. I thought that anyone there who was just sitting, and not at any particular grave, surely must have been lost. I was marching somewhere with my companion. We had places to be. We had exercise to get in and phone calls to receive.

Twenty years ago, without the contraption, I would have no doubt stopped and heard your entire life story, the way you wanted to tell it. I have that effect on people. They spill their guts all over the floor and ask me how it looks. I tell them they’re okay. They feel better. I feel interested. Twenty years ago, we could have learned something about each other. Instead, I was on the phone.

I walked around and tried to stretch my neck to see if you would stay put. I wanted to see if you heard my mental note that I would be back. ESP doesn’t always work. Must be all the Wi-Fi and cell signals. I lost sight of you over the hill. I went back to the top, back to the grass that I could let my dog walk on, and we made a good jaunt of it, another mile perhaps, maybe more.

My conversation ended and I made a B-line back to where you were. I had the sinking suspicion that you wouldn’t be there, that I missed my chance. I went, circled around and around, looking for you in that white shirt amongst the shiny tombstones, weather-beaten memories, and perfect grass.

I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I couldn’t find you. I circled around and around, searching, hoping, and whispering. I went back up to the top of the hill to gaze down, see if you went somewhere else to find shade and wait for me. My eyes darted for you; maybe you were checking out another grave or family plot. I couldn’t see you anywhere. I looked over my shoulder to see if you were following me but my neck doesn’t turn the way it used to. Not since they cut into me.

I wanted you to be there. I wanted to take that walk with you and learn all about your life. Then, maybe we could have gotten into some trouble. Maggie wanted water but she was still game for whatever and we could go farther. Dogs have a way of suffering for the sake of adventure. If I went five miles more, she would still go on without complaint.

We went to the old side of the cemetery. The one with big oaks and bushy cedars, the side with more shade. I thought if you were waiting for me, you would be over there. You weren’t. I headed for the parking lot of the community pool which sprawls a half a mile away to the west with no luck. I thought I saw a white shirt down the street, at the bottom of the hill, at the dog pound next to the place that sells monuments and tombstones. Engravings just for you.

When I got there, it was just a man loading his car. I got nervous. When I looked back up at the cemetery, the hills, again, I searched for movement. I searched for any sign that you were still there, that you were still waiting for me. I saw nothing but the glinting stones and fake flowers in rows.

I started to panic and cry a little on the inside with the heat. I didn’t want to give up. I marched down the main road and headed for the cow pasture, trekked up the side road with those houses and bamboo. I thought the cows would know where you went but a calf just ran from me like she hadn’t seen a man with a dog before. The older heifers just stared.

There was one that was browner than the others and stood by itself away in the pasture and the small-rolling hills of the thick green grass. I thought it may know where you went off to. Then, I realized why he was standing by himself. It was the bull. He was staring in the distance, picking out his next cow to mount and inseminate.

Is that all I am? Is that all I’m doing?

I stopped halfway down the road and thought about going back to the cemetery. I thought about marching back to where you were, and if you weren’t there again, we would trudge right up to the top and wait. I turned around and Maggie followed, only to take five steps and turn around again. Instead, I thought you might be on the main road, so I continued on.

You weren’t on the main road.

When I cut back up on another side street that parallels my house, Maggie thought we were going home. I wasn’t ready yet. I was still looking.

The wide angle of the cemetery appeared before us again, and again I looked for your movement. I looked for your white shirt. I couldn’t find you.

I cut in front of my house and headed towards town. Maybe someone there would know where you went. Maybe they had seen your face too, maybe someone there was helping you. Maybe you were walking and I could give you a ride or we could go together.

I wanted to know you. I wanted to love you. I wanted to cause problems and find solutions. I wanted to take your problems and make my life complicated. I wanted to wipe your tears, if that’s what those were.

Why weren’t you there?

I made it all the way to the community garden, turned around and headed back. I asked my distant neighbor if he saw anyone that looked like you. He thought I was crazy. He made me repeat where I first saw you. I witnessed goosebumps form on his neck. I could tell he wanted me to go away. My enthusiasm was disrupting his watering of the ferns and trimming of his mums. He didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He was perfectly fine in his house which was built farther down the road from the cemetery than my house was all those years ago. He didn’t want me to bring anything to his side. Not while the sun was going down and the ferns needed their water.

After I gave him the scare, I figured the only thing I could do was go home. But while we were there, Maggie had sprawled all over his cool grass. Did you know that dogs don’t have sweat glands like us? Did you know they have to pant? Maggie is faster than me but in an all-day race, I would win over the ability to sweat from my pores.

I walked home in sadness which turned to fear. I was afraid that you weren’t real. Maybe you were a ghost. That’s what my distant neighbor was scared of, that you were an apparition who lives in the cemetery. That you would follow me down to his house and give him the night terrors. If you are a ghost, I want you to know that I was not afraid. I’m not perfect, but I have not been so evil that a ghost would turn on me.

We could have a conversation, you could tell me your stories, your history, and I would listen. Then, over some tea or coffee, I could tell you mine. You could learn what it’s like in this era, be baffled by our advances and technical savagery. Mystical wonders of the modern mind. You could see it all. I could show it to you.

My head hung low until I got within eyesight of the cemetery again. I only hoped that you were there after all and you weren’t hiding from me. Is that it? After I was rude to you, did you dive behind some tombstones and wish for your own death? Did I just not see you there in your family’s row?

I looked some more but I had to go through the routines. Dogs like routines and she needed water still. I felt bad on both fronts. We went inside. I made sure her bowl was full and went to my porch which overlooks the grounds. I took out binoculars and searched for you. I looked in the place that I saw you the first time. You weren’t there. My eyes became strained as the sun faded from the horizon. I was upset.

At that point, I wasn’t afraid of you being a ghost, or a vagrant, or a drug user hiding from the cops. I was afraid you were never there at all. That I shrugged off a figment of my own imagination. I just wanted to prove that you were real. I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I was not going crazy, not yet. That I had not slipped from the rope. I wanted to know that you weren’t imagined because that scares me more than anything else.

Please, be there tomorrow.

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Write a Letter or three of your own Submissions Here!

 

*Contains affiliate links, can’t be poor forever

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Entire Catalog of Books FREE for Limited Time

That’s right, folks. The ENTIRE Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. catalog will boast FREE Amazon Kindle Versions from Thursday-Monday.

This is in a knee-jerk reaction to our new book Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II which is out now.

See which FREE KINDLE book suits your fancy from our Amazing Authors by clicking the links below:

 

Our NEWEST BOOK is Free with Kindle Unlimited:

“Dear National University” from Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

This is going in the next Letters Never Meant to be Read and I hope this stirs up at least a little controversy.

This one is to National University, my alma mater where I earned my MFA in Creative Writing. I have another one for Southern New Hampshire University that I will preview soon as well. I hope to pin one against the other, or at least gain awareness of nonsense. Please share!

 

Dear National University,

 

This summer, I applied to be an online adjunct professor for your creative writing program. In response, you sent me this trash:

 

Dear Marc,

Thank you for your interest in teaching with the College of Letters and Sciences.

We received your application to Job ID: 5551 – PT Adjunct – Department of Arts & Humanities.

Upon review of your education history, we see you are a graduate of National University. In order to promote academic diversity, we look for individuals who have received their master’s and/or terminal degree(s) from other institutions.

In the future, should you obtain a higher level degree from a different university, you are more than welcome to reapply.

Thank you,

National University

 

What does that mean, academic diversity? Do you know how old school you sound? It’s 2017 and you can’t be a contradiction. You can’t eat cake and say that you don’t promote frosting. Is this how you prove that you aren’t a degree mill? Is this how to prove to the world that you aren’t an overpriced printing press? What a joke.

I am in debt! Can’t you see I need help?  Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of your literature, your workshops, and your grueling masquerade. We were lovers. How could you deny our offspring?

You dare insult my industrious nature. My ambition is more than your cake. I’ll chop wood anyway and warm someone else’s hearth. See me chopping away? You have made a mistake. You have given me more fuel.

I was in the habit of telling everyone that you did me some good. I recommended you to others who were lost. In return, as a sign of your affection, you hold onto moldy habits and rotten rules. You clutch bitter knives to ward off pests. Pests like me. I will be a hoard and strip the land of your existence. How dare you deny me?

Maybe I will obtain a higher degree from a different university. I will chop so much wood. I will get honorary degrees all over the damn place. I will give speeches at graduations that people will put on YouTube for inspiration. I will deny your existence. I will deny our love.

Tell Southern New Hampshire to hire me because you won’t. Tell them how rigorous and robust your program was for me. Tell them it was worth it.

 

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“Dear Benefactor” -A Sample from the Next Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

This is a sample of a Letter I wrote for the next Letters Never Meant to be Read. We received numerous submissions for the next volume and it will go on pre-order soon! Thank you all who participated. It gives me great pleasure to receive a letter from a stranger, to see their hopes, fears, and dreams come alive on the page.

This Letter goes nicely with the launch of my Patreon Page, an experiment I am trying to help with the funding of the next Letters Book. This letter is written in the wordy, turn of the last century style. This was a time when authors were more apt to have a patron or benefactor. Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy, and/or are seduced!

 

Dear Benefactor,

 

Here I give you a great opportunity to continue on an age-old tradition of supporting the arts. No, I am not a charlatan, although I could be if I had no guilt at all. No, I am not a beggar. It just seems plain to me that I could be doing better for myself, better for the world with a change of station. If only I didn’t have this weight of impending disaster over me. This impenetrable cloud that follows, darkens my existence by stealing my time and thoughts away from my writing. Worry and debt have formed great men, but I have served enough of both to occupy a lifetime. Some find hardship and poverty to be inspiration for their best work. I have had the right amount of these disasters and I simply ask for assistance in continuing onto the next great phase.

It may seem by the opening that I am not accomplished, a loser perhaps. This is not true, I am a gentleman by the old sense. I am a person of letters and books. I am well educated, addicted to ambition as well as accomplishment, and have risen up to a certain level despite my poor pedigree. But winning in these games has not come without cost. I find myself mooring over the smallest of expenses and checking my accounts far too often.

Even a small amount of patronage would give me a little respite. I will not dawdle with this given time though. I will write and produce in such a way that you have never seen. I will be the most prolific, the unstoppable. I will be the creator of many worlds and people, for you. The small gesture to my potential will seem dainty in comparison to what I will build. Then, as time continues and I add to the pile of record, our achievements, I will undoubtedly garner interviews. Books will be written about me, about my undying tenacity, about our legacy. Only then will I divulge the real truth about you, about the goodness in your heart, about your care and generosity. I will put you upon the pedestal of time and you will be known.

If you are uninterested in the investment of legacy, then perhaps you would like companionship. Perhaps you want both, are like myself, want it all. I can offer you the sweetest of gestures, the most passionate rhythms this Earth has to offer. I can see you as you were, long ago, past those still pretty eyes, into your youth. I can look at you in wonder, your naked body on display for me, caress your hair and forgive the small tolls that time has ungratefully taken on you.

I can be your best lover, your secret in revenge against the world that has been so ungrateful. I can last long or be as hasty as you please. All of your fantasies will come to fruition, all you have to do is ask. No, tell me, say the words, and I will be whoever you want. Say nothing, and I will be myself, your everything. I do not care if you are dying, we all are. I do not care if you aren’t as pretty as you once were. I can see through the wrinkles and the grief. I am unassuming and I know no age. I span time with humor and delicate forethought. Think of your most dangerous desire, the one you fear would bring you public shame if it ever got out. Tell me. I won’t even bat an eye, only smile, and give it to you.

Please don’t think of me a tramp. Yes, I am taken, you might be too, but not in those moments. No one has all of me, but you can. He may have left recently, or long ago. Use me to parade around in defiance. Show me off to your cohorts, travel with an escort. I can speak another language. In a tuxedo, I am quite dashing. We all play roles, let me play one for you.

Is it not the same when I clock in an out? When I go away in uniform, am I not leaving them behind too? Those that I love, that are close, they need provisions. I go and get them to ensure a future. It does not matter who I am when I am away, as long as I return unscathed. It does not matter how I secure a future, but that I do. Besides, one cannot judge another who brings happiness and enlightenment into the world. I will bring you passion and joy, you will allow for our enlightenment.

Of course, we don’t have to be lovers in the physical sense. You could simply be my publisher, my editor, my muse. I can scribe love letters to your heart’s delight. Our torrid love affair can be only in the mind, on sacred parchment that historians will marvel over. While I toil away in joy, creating a collection of books and thoughts, we can span great distance with touching moments of bliss caught on record. You can provide needed expenses, and I, a mountain of dreams.

I will still want you though, I must warn you. I am a romantic, if you have not already guessed. I will desire for your body along with your pretty mind. If that physical connection is not your choice, tease me with my own desires of the flesh. Play games, wring out of me the most desperate and sentimental words from my wet cloth. I will be loyal.

If you have found any errors in these words, good, you are doing well already. Please, beg my forgiveness. If they are filled with mistakes, let these words serve as an example of the cloud that is looming. I write in haste, eager to slip away from the bankers and the phone calls. I can assure you, I am not expensive compared to what most use their money on these days. I am not a spendthrift. I will use what is given to me by your delicate hands for one purpose and I will never appear ungrateful. I will get the cloud away from my back and write as if every day I shall perish by midnight.

Do send something soon though, a message that you are at least thinking about my offer. I am an optimist and I think fondly on tomorrow. If not, I will soon be beaten down by the doldrums of a petty, debtor existence. And while I will not give up on my dreams, I will become bitter by their making over such a long, hard road. By securing a more comfortable route now, I will ensure the necessity to pay it forward one day. I will reach down as you have here and offer a lifeline to another dreamer. I beg you to give me something more to admire about tomorrow.

I hope you are well and in good health. I hope the spring sun shines upon your face, and by morning, you have cup of tea for me and a story to tell when I arrive. Write soon.

 

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Here is a link to My Patreon Page. Any level of support is appreciated, Benefactor: 

https://www.patreon.com/marcdcrepeaux

 

 

Top 10 Tips for Writing Your Own Letters Never Meant to be Read

The deadline for Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume II is upon us and I thought it might be good to open the dialogue for those of you out there who are ready to take the plunge.

Don’t be afraid, if you get in your letters a little past the deadline but before final layout, it may still make it in this edition. If not, I will be publishing many, many more of these books in the future. We are always accepting submissions…

Letters for this series can be to anybody, even yourself if the need be. In that effort, I have created the following Top 10 Tips for Writing Your Own Letters Never Meant to be Read.

 

10. Think of your favorite Government or Private entity

Come on, we’ve all got that favorite line that we have to stand in or please hold music we enjoy. Take a shot across the bow to that DMV office or customer service representative. Tell them you want to speak with their manager. Put them on hold for once and write your letter.

9. We all get Ripped Off

Ok, so it happens. Swindlers and confidence people are out there to get you, and sometimes, you cave and lose. Feel like you’ve been done wrong? Cheated? Get your revenge in words, write them a letter!

8. Think fondly on that Unrequited Love

Wonder what could have been? Wish you found those words years ago? Want to speak the truth? That man you met at that restaurant in Madrid waits for your words. Write a letter to your true, unrequited lover.

7. Go to a Cemetery

A little creepy for some, but I happen to live by one. This often provides countless hours and pages on what could have been. Find your own family plot, or even better, someone else’s family plot. Write letters, don’t take your thoughts to the grave.

6. Think Outside the Box

A letter to the owner of that hotel that gave you bedbugs? How about a letter to a broken, public toilet? Your stubborn uni-brow hair? That fish you caught and let go or ate? The ideas and words are endless.

5. Write a Letter for Someone Else to Someone Else

Seen atrocity in your time? Want to do something about it? Have a friend that is cheating on another friend? You can easily disengage your own feelings and put yourself in another person’s shoes. Go ahead, practice true empathy.

4. For Your Younger Self to Open

Think of a letter that you wished you could send back in time to your younger self. Examine the hard truths and fun lessons you’ve learned along the way. Date it: Open by ______ ____ if that helps.

3. Think about all the Money

Yes, you could make money just by getting things off your chest. This provides a wholesome way to air your grievances anonymously while making a little side cash. Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. pays generous royalties by contract to writers who contribute three or more letters in the collection.

2. Dance More, Worry Less.

Music can really get the juices flowing when it comes to writing letters. Blast your favorite oldies or modern hip-hop right into the next room. Dance to your heart’s desire while dictating letters to your personal assistant.

1. Keep Your Thoughts Organized

Letters should tell a story and be complete, nothing left on the table (or under). Grab those gems from under the rug and hold them in the light. Describe them, feel them, make others understand. To do that, you must be clear and concise. Go crazy if the need be, but make it a planned crazy. One way to plan your letters is to jot down the key points you want to address, leaving room on the page for your interwoven thoughts and transitions. Go on the journey yourself and take others along with the finished product, a letter I’m sure you’ll be proud of.

 

Happy Writing and We Look Forward to Hearing From You!

 

 

“Dear Denton” a Letter in Video Read by Marc D. Crepeaux

 

Here is a video version of me reading “Dear Denton” from Letters Never Meant to be Read.

To Send In You Own Letters for the next volume, Please check out my Submissions Page. 

 

 

Dear Denton,

 

I wish I could have been there to stop you. Anyone would have tried but I do think some of your friends or family would have been unsuccessful. It sounds so cliché to say but it had to be said. Being realistic, I believe in survival of the fittest and I know that you just weren’t meant for this world. It can be perceived as heartless but you weren’t very happy so off with it anyway.

What was going through your head when you purchased that gun from Wal-Mart? It is like any form of consumerism I suppose. You shopped with a smile on your face and asked to see the gun behind the counter. You may have been so happy that you didn’t feel that tight pressure when you handed over the money to the cashier. I can imagine you whistling your way back to the Cutlass and prying the cool steel from the cardboard in the cab like a young boy getting a new action figure. I imagine you peeling away the packaging with such intensity all the way home, in that incessant multitasking way you always had. I can see you smoking like a chimney, your last few, or did you already quit? Rolling down the side of the road, knowing the spot was already picked out many times before. I can see you pulling over and loading the gun, or was it already loaded when you left the parking lot? Were you crying? Did you cackle like you always used to or were you resolute? I wonder if your last thought was your crazy mother, your crazy girlfriend, or was it just music in your ears? Did you pray? Were you high?

At your wake, your mother was completely hysterical and she told me you loved me. I find that hard to believe because we hadn’t seen each other in years. She also said something I still don’t understand, that you were already in heaven. I thought that blasting yourself in the face on the side of the road meant that you were definitely going to hell. I asked another Catholic once and he gave me a confusing answer. He said that if you were able to ask for forgiveness between pulling the trigger and actually dying, you were good. I find this scenario more likely for someone who missed and dies in a hospital bed surrounded by family a few days later. But you didn’t miss when you shot yourself in the face.

Every time I see a beauty of a guitar, I imagine you standing there smoking, telling me how you could modify it or how you could give it a romp. I remember when I got my loan while at school and we went out shopping by where you lived for music equipment. We took the same Cutlass Cierra you shot yourself in and loaded it up with live show gear. I know, I know, I should have bought recording equipment instead. I thought I was going to be a rock star. The thing is, you could have been one, even if it was medium scale in the new industry.

I am always reminded of you by the painting The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. I’m pretty sure you loved that painting and I find it interesting that Picasso painted it after his friend committed suicide.

If you are in heaven or are a roving ghost, the least you could do is give me some insightful advice or scare the bejesus out of me in order to get me to change my ways. I must be doing a decent job of it though, no one that I know that has died has visited me yet but I wouldn’t mind hearing your sarcasm again.

I remember leaving my shirt in your room on purpose after I took a shower, knowing that whatever girls you had over would get to see me come into the room all nonchalant, looking for my shirt and just throw it on. Kind of funny because I am porcelain white but it worked at least one time all the same. She was too young and I was too stupid to follow through, but I remember her and she remembers you.

Thanks for helping me find my place among the muck and the history and the pretentiousness that was Purchase. You helped me branch out and I didn’t feel so bad about being so green. It was great to go to your house during breaks and play guitar and talk about women. We had a great time hanging out with the nerdy girls of that suite and pretending to be so depressed and in pain.

The problem was, you were never pretending.

 

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Gender Disparity on ACX and Audible for Audiobook Producers- More Women Needed

With the Audiobook production of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss and Letters Never Meant to be Read underway, I noticed that I did not receive as many auditions as I had on my previous Audiobook projects on ACX.

For these projects, I was calling for female voice actors to perform these books. In the past, the projects called for male voices. I was able to get enough auditions on my previous book projects to pick and choose a little and really find the right male voice.

Modern Waste received 26 auditions for royalty split, and nonfiction offering Where Did You Go?: A 20th Century Guide to Finding Yourself Again by Andrew Brechko got 40 plus. Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss and Letters Never Meant to be Read got only 1 (WS still open) and 6, respectively. Still, with the 6 for Letters, I was still able to find one great audition from Pamela Hershey, who seems to be new to the platform. The book is in production as I speak and will be ready for sale on Audible in a month or two.

This made me wonder just how many women verses men their are producing Audiobooks on ACX? Turns out, my observation was correct.

Male Producers (English)- 30881

Female Producers (English)- 24648

That is only a 56% to 44% difference you say? Well, with thousands of titles going into production every day, along with some lengthy production times, 6000+ more males than female actors can certainly mean less female auditions for your projects.

For the indie writer and publisher, this can mean less choice in who does your book.

Know a gal with a sweet voice that could melt the top of a whiskey glass? Go ahead, buy her Pro Tools, a soundproof room, and a decent microphone, I dare you…

 

 

 

Results of Amazon KDP Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

These are the results of a previous post where I outlined a multi-faceted marketing plan in order to jump start my Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read. 

My plan was based on the guidance and know-how of  Dave Chesson at kindlepreneur.com and listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

If you missed my setup for this promo, please review the Case Study so the results make sense. There were several small tasks that I did to get ready for the marketing plan to make my page better, etc.

It’s always good to review the goals in order to gauge results:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read were 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

 

In the marketing plan, I spent 

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which adjusted tweets for the KDP free days= $520.99

 

Starting Point. Here is the data on the Amazon rankings as of April 20, 2017, one day before the promo:

Author Rank: 157,720 (obscurity).

Letters Kindle Version: 389,652 (not even the top pages of my categories).

Letters Print Version: 188,476 (just OK)

 

Some Results:

Below are the results of the free books downloaded which equal 3,839 free downloads, 2.9K on the first day.

Campaign Results during

 

Interestingly, my Kindle Unlimited numbers weren’t too shabby either during this period with 821 KENP total:

 

KENP During

 

0 Paperbacks sold During this period.

 

Is this good? I don’t know what I would compare it with since Letters Never Meant to be Read is such a unique book.

What I do know is that nearly 4K readers decided to add it to their collection and this can’t be bad. Some of them may end up reading it on the beach this summer and review later, who knows? Thank you if you took a chance on us!

I also got #1 in my fav 2 categories which work best for this book:

 

More results: Now let’s see just what happened after. I can say that I made it as high as #32 in free in all of Amazon at one point.

 

Amazon Kindle Rank overall

 

We have been hovering between 25K-50K overall and never falling off the first page in my main category. Paperback sales have not been altered at all so I am not going to show the graph because it is sad.

 

Here is the after results for Kindle Units Sold since the promo. Nothing to write home about and I CERTAINLY will not get see any return on investment at this point:

 

After purchased units

 

Here is KENP after the promo:

KENP After

 

New Reviews Since Promo: 2 (Hopefully this will go up as people read what is on their virtual shelves).

Letters Received from New Writers for the Next Volume: 1 (The Best Number).

Author Rank Now: 34,290 (not as obscure).

Letters Kindle Version Rank: 54, 807 (WAS 24,227 yesterday).

Letters Print Version Now: 1,339,909 (insert sad-faced emoji here).

 

Well, Now What?

I would first like to thank everyone who paid attention to this case study and I’d love to hear about your results with your own projects as well.

I would also like to thank all of OUR new readers who are scoping this out right now at LaGuardia Airport or sitting by the pool on a cruise somewhere. The thought of them keeps me going.

Was it worth it? Sure, I suppose. I spent a lot of time and $500, but it’s always worth a shot. This is also part of a larger plan and experimentation. If I run this with the new Worked Stiff Book, I am bound to get wildly different results.

I also was not looking for a one shot wonder or anything. I wanted more reviews and more letters coming in. Those numbers are just not there yet but I know that it will take time.

My confidence in the Letters Project as a whole has not wavered.

I am disappointed that Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss was delayed and I didn’t get it out during this promo which may have helped its initial sales.

I am running test Amazon ads right now which I will take a look at in another post.

Soon, I am going to go into a LESS MARKETING mode, just write, and get the next volume ready, the best marketing there is.

I am happy with the results in that  a decent number of people downloaded the book. I just hope 10% of them read it and review on the beach later this summer. That will give me a lot more juice when I run Facebook ads later.

Next time, I will break up my promo days into 3, then 2, something that Dave suggested.

Perhaps Dave and Derek can shed some light on these numbers so I can stop scratching my head like a weird dragon.

If I missed something here, please let me know.

If anyone else has any help, comments, or guidance, I am all ears and strawberry licorice.

 

forward-graphic-sig

 

Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

 

 

My last book Letters Never Meant to be Read has had me in a fever.

Yes, book marketing can take over your life, if you care to let it, and this has been quite the puzzle. My Kindle Free Promo Days start tomorrow 4/21. What to do?

I listed all of the tasks I have done leading up to the free promo. Will it work?

I don’t just want to sell copies of the Letters book, I also want Letters to come in for the next edition. Basically, I want it to be a thing. Also, because I believe in the project, I want it to be a thing sooner than later. When people read the book, they generally like it, which only adds fuel to my crazed fire.

I realized that I was throwing money away at Facebook and Amazon ads after listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

I reviewed his work Book Marketing is Dead: Book Promotion Secrets You MUST Know BEFORE You Publish Your Book on the last post and have implemented some of his tactics with regards to the Amazon page for the Letters Book.

I hired two people on Fiverr to help with the sales copy. The first was good, the second was better, almostfreemoney. She gave me new keywords with analytics, categories, and better description copy.

Part of the new description copy included a spot for a quote from the book. This put me in a panic because I couldn’t decide. I knocked a few around, but ultimately settled on a few simple phrases that better describe what it is because the work is unconventional. I am still not happy with the description, but apparently it includes the necessary keywords for the robots. I hope.

The cover? People love the cover so I think I am good there. I like it too, but that doesn’t matter. I have received many compliments from NOT JUST FRIENDS and FAMILY, so all is well, right? I hope so.

Before, when I ran Facebook ads, I’d get a 2.5% click rate and about a 10% sales rate from there. Well, when you get 1346 Button Clicks out of 57,000 impressions, you should get some sales, right? I am no math wizard. Is that good? Am I a moron? Yes, probably in this realm.

Hell no, that is not good and it leaves me squeamish when I look at my sales rankings, the Commander of My Life right now. Here is a great article on those monsters.

The idea is that if you get your sales ranking up and people like and review your book, the ever-knowing Amazon robot will nod in your favor and start pitching your book for you. Plus, it helps to be at the top of your categories. My categories are easier that most, being a niche book, but I have clenched my teeth when I get into the top 20, only to be faded away. It is like a slow death, really.

Which leads me to reviews. These are really important as well, and I have a 10% review rate on queries sent out to reviewers. Not good either and very time consuming. I need at least ten reviews, which shouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong.

Again, following the direction of Derek, I devised a plan:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read are 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

One week prior: I ran FB ads with new copy and fiddled with the description and categories (some more). I found a blog post that discussed having Createspace keywords different from Kindle keywords. Duh? Why didn’t I do this before? I did this.

My Amazon affiliate links are all good too btw.

The FB ad at $20/day for four days generated again a 2.5% click rate with only two sales. What? I did better before I tinkered, so what then? I don’t know, moving on.

Luckily I stumbled onto kindlepreneur.com from a Google search and found a quote from Derek Murphy on his site so I knew I was in friendly territory.

I found Dave Chesson. He was in the military, like me, and I have gone back to his site like 20 times since. I used his Amazing List of Kindle Free Days Promoters , even downloaded the preferred list went to work with the form fill.

I used the following Kindle Promotion Sites:

Freebooksy.com    $40

Pretty-Hot.com  $25

eBookasuarus.com $10

bknights on Fiverr  $6

Book Bongo $29.99

Robin Reads $55

*I did a few other easy and free ones, but these are the bulk and the ones I paid for. There are some that are difficult to navigate.

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which will adjust tweets for the KDP free days.

Will I win? Am I wasting my money? Will I get more reviews?

Stay tuned.

Time will tell. I will write another post as a result to this campaign. I at least wanted to “do some things right” and give this project a fair shake. If people truly hate it, I will continue with Volume II and press on.

This Letters project is unique because the candle burns at both ends. I want nothing more for readers to enjoy the letters, the first examples, but also Send In Their Own for future publication. Because I and my alter ego who runs Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. believe in profit sharing, it’s a Win, Win for everybody.

Incidentally, my KDP Free Days coincide with World Book Day on April, 23rd. Will that put me in good running? Who knows.

I also wanted to coincide the release of my KDP free promo days with the Kindle release of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. A great plan, right?

Except I am having trouble with the cover design being late from Fiverr (you get what you pay for).

This is not my first business and I have had minor success. This is certainly the most challenging and the most rewarding. I love writing and reading books but I have to tackle book marketing.

If anyone who may be reading sees any flaws in my little endeavor to spend money and make something out of nothing, please comment below. Also, if you notice anything that I could adjust with my overall marketing of my books and myself, please, feel free to comment. I could certainly use the help and insight from any veterans of book marketing out there.

I am smart, but only kind of smart when it comes to this game. At times, I feel I am stumbling around, alone in the dark. Other times, I feel like I am drinking from a water hose.

Of course, all of this takes away precious time from what I really love, Reading and Writing. Still, it is a game, and I like to win. I will play this one until I do.

Thanks for your input!

-The Apprentice

 

 

She Handles the Propane

 

With so many years before us yet so little time, she grabs me, commands my attention. With her words and her eyes, she makes me stand still.

“I had a weird dream last night,” she’ll say with as much expectation for a response as I waiting for the dream. Pausing for dramatic acknowledgement, and allowing her thoughts to catch up, she fills in the gaps, her account gushes with stunning imagery. The resulting tale is always hard to distinguish between the real and the manufactured. Still, I remain enthralled by the outcome, the clairvoyance, the show.

She will cook, without meanness, without the sense of repayable duty, no malice, no hardship. Exotic smells will waft from the back door, before I even open, before I’ve had a chance to turn the key and announce. I can feel a sense of home with the new smell, the calming vibration of a home cooked meal between my teeth, warming my belly. I’ve never smelled this before or knew that I was hungry for whatever it could be. My brow sweats in reaction to something foreign and unbland, a staple in her parents’ homeland. I can feel her eyes burn my right cheek, seeing how fast I gobble, observing whether I go for seconds or no. Ever eager to please, she will offer them to me but not serve them herself, and I will want.

She could chop wood as good as any man, get the job done, and talk about how fun it was. Gnats would sip on her tiny sweat and she’d be onto the next task. With her company, I could survive the zombie apocalypse, no problem. She could kill a man without remorse, providing he had it coming.

The ability to bear any burden without such laziness or complaint at the most minor inconvenience is instinctual, cultural. Her mother’s people toiled in the fields for generations as a matter of survival, not knowing of a failed existence by modern, woeful standards.

She could find a job faster than any woman I’ve known, then obtain a second. She possesses the ability to work until her bones ache before settling into the most minor of comforts.

Her muscles are hard and smooth, capable of expected labor, set upon like thick rubber bands on that fragile and pretty frame. You wouldn’t think it to look at her, but she could bulldoze an apartment. Feminine virtues are not forgotten though. They are not thrown away by excuses of long days and petty misunderstandings between the sexes. She’ll dress up all right, using time to her advantage, taking on a shimmer and glow only rivaled by the contrasting vision of her natural beauty.

Oh how common we all look compared to that mysterious figure. People are so confused. “Where does she come from?” they ask. Even when told, they haven’t got a clue. Never has such a hybrid of the Orient joined forces with the American Pacific sunset. Her figure and attitude creates a perfect design, a mixture of old and new attitudes of feminism.

You think she has no power because she doesn’t shout the word? Because she doesn’t carry signs or demand against the laws of nature? Oh she does have great power. Ready to use and in reserve.

There is no replica. People know when they see her by my side that I have somehow managed to find a first edition. Yes, a traditional, sleek, steel design in a woman that causes the rest to only gawk in awe with a jolt of satisfaction of uncovering only a small part of the mystery.

If I went to a land with more of her, the land of her father perhaps, I would not know what to do. I would be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty amongst simple hardship. In the land of a thousand hers, I would attempt to multiply myself so I could fall madly for each of them as individuals. In the process, I would become unbound.

She understands and does not shun the demands of a husband, that wolf within the coarser sex. Instead, she discusses and throws jokes upon them openly, simplifies their meaning, makes them her own. I have no choice but to reciprocate. There is no blame for the sinister, no mocking of the frustrated anger to be released, no ignoring the perversion within us all.

Household chores are not so difficult or serious. She knows when an item has been moved, she counts with her eyes, forms patterns which I have disturbed. She could toil in a field, just as all of our ancestors, and eat upon the fine fruits with such great joy and satisfaction. Apply this principle to our motors, our flashy screens, our robots, the outcome of success is the same. Hard work in, happiness out. She knows this.

When we are on an adventure, back to where we belong, we set camp and enjoy where work is abound. She does more than her share, this comes natural without expectation other than smile and attention later. I roll through my mind in horror and loathing at all the tasks that need to be done, only to find but a few made just for me.

She handles the propane. What a wonder. I could ask for water but before the words are able to leave my parched lips, she has known from my yearning eyes. She has already trekked the miles through impenetrable forest, machete in hand, snakes waylaid, and dangers thwarted. These actions are to prove and to please, not only me, but us. She does for herself as much as for me.

She could set up the tent by herself if needed. Instead, I am her worker. She points, knows what to do. I have worn the uniform, I should know these things. I do, but I also know the chain of command.

I begin to tend the wood fire out of tradition or entertainment, but she handles the propane. She knows where to buy it and how to screw it on the stove. She is in charge of the modern version of that fiery bliss, and I haven’t got a clue.

She cooks, I learn, we both fish. She catches fish and I cheer. I worry while she has already done. I am expected to hunt, gather wood, and tend to the fire, feast and rest. I can do more, would have to if on and adventure with someone else, someone with a more “modern feminist sense”. Most of the time, she wouldn’t have it, she could do these tasks better than me anyway, with more satisfaction knowing it was done right.

She grooms me, takes away the blemishes of any day, warms my soul but she does not do my laundry. She would if I asked her. Knowing she has all the power, she still yields to my will, allows her man to stand out front. Power is unbecoming for those who demand its need. True power is already commanded, it is projected upon another to implement. She knows this too.

She takes children under her tutelage, shows them how to arrange and care for the ever growing garden. These small ladies are not hers, but they are ours. Still, she listens to them, she talks to them, caresses them, and plays with them as if they came from her own body. Ever selfless, she absorbs their pain, makes them smile.

She tells me what to do after I’ve thought about doing, but before I have taken action. This causes both known frustration and a humble smirk. I could give her two guesses, she only needs one.

We could go to Bangkok and stare at the pretty girls. We could go to St. Petersburg and marvel at the history, holding hands in our fur coats. We could sleep on a train and dine from a food cart in Madrid. She would shimmy up a tree, then cut stolen fruit in the Bahamas, her skin turning ever darker while mine screamed for another layer. Her exploration in New York would not contain panic. She would wander around at first, feeling joy and bliss at the simplest of nuance or observation. She would be an expert without a map in four days.

She will be there when I am old and look at me as if I am young. She won’t perceive what I was, rather, she will giggle at the boy trapped in the old man. She will comment on the smallest of gestures, poke fun at the strange habits, and appreciate my youthful preoccupations.

She handles the propane. What a wonder.