The Guilty Party

Monday, October 26, 2009

Operation eBook Drop and the Local Media

A few weeks ago a fellow writer at an online critique site clued me into a couple of places where I could go to promote the Kindle version of Boomerang. Before that I had no clue as to where or how to even begin getting the word out that an ebook edition was even available. Well, that one nudge from a kind and disinterested person had a few very positive effects. First, I learned about a site called Smashwords, where I could make Boomerang available for many different e-book readers in lots of formats, giving it a much wider potential readership. Once on Smashwords, I learned that the way I had formatted my book for e-readers was a whole lot less than optimal and I got easy, step-by-step instructions on how to correct the situation. During the course of this education I met quite a few helpful and interesting people on these ebook sites. And when I had Boomerang looking good, sales improved dramatically. Makes sense, eh?

And then, on Kindleboards.com, I happened across a thread about a brand new, absolutely grassroots effort to get free ebooks to troops stationed overseas. Started by a gentleman named Edward Patterson barely a month ago with an offer by him to send one soldier a collection of ebooks as file attachments, Operation eBook Drop has since expanded to almost two hundred authors, several small publishers, and a growing number of military personnel, including the crew of the Los Angeles class attack submarine, USS Oklahoma City.

As a participating author, I receive fairly regular emails from Ed, letting me know of any new troops who have signed up and been verified as eligible. I then send that soldier an email with a link to Boomerang on Smashwords and a coupon code that allows him or her to download it for free.

There is a real sense of connection when I log on to my Smashwords account and see that a Troop Coupon has been redeemed. And it's a joy to receive thank you notes, like the one from the commander of the USS Oklahoma City or the one from the mother of a soldier who is filling his Kindle in anticipation of his redeployment overseas. It the kind of endeavor a person wants to help make as successful as possible.

And so many of the Operation eBook Drop authors have been sending out press releases to their local media to help get the word out about this way we are trying to say thanks to the men and women who serve and sacrifice for us everyday. But I've got to tell you that the going has been slow, as most of us have run into a solid wall of Who Cares from newspapers, radio and television. I do not know the details of what other authors are sending out, but I try to make it clear that I am not looking for publicity for my novel and I don't care if they even mention my name, I'm just hoping to get the word out about the program. Because practically everyone either has a loved one or knows of someone who has a loved one in the service and the percentage of military personnel who have and use ebook reading devices is much higher than the general population. Which makes sense, since they allow a library's worth of books to be easily transported, an essential for a soldier. And reading is a great way to help pass the time, improve the mind, lift the spirit when so far away from home. Frankly, we would love to be swamped by requests for free ebooks. But in order to that to happen we need people to know what we are offering. So far the Phoenix media has been closed to me as a way of getting the word out. And I honestly don't understand why.

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A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com. As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.