Friday, May 10, 2013

Going “Free” in the New Writing World

In the world of self-publishing, there so many stories on the internet about how best to promote and market your books. Social networking (Facebook, Twitter etc.) seems to be at the top of most lists, along with book signings and virtual blog tours. These promotions, unfortunately, take a tremendous amount of time—time which pulls you away from your writing. And frankly, I am not convinced it is worth it.

In my experience as a self publisher, I have found that the single best marketing tool is’s 90-day Kindle exclusive contract. Which, while it doesn’t allow you to sell the ebook version of your book anywhere else during that window of time, gives you five free promotion days. Meaning, you can give your book away for free download on the days you choose.

How does this help you sell books? Here’s how:

In the new book world, there are numerous websites which publish daily lists of free Kindle books. So people looking to download a good book for nothing, religiously check these lists. also shows the top 100 free books downloaded daily in various categories. Needless to say, book readers with Kindles also check the Amazon top 100 free books daily.

My first book in The Frank Boff Mystery Series, The Hurting Game, got over 1,000 downloads the first time I ran a three-day giveaway, downloads in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and Canada.  In my main category of Hardboiled Mystery, I rose to as high as #4 on the top 100 downloads list. I also got to #11 on the big, all-encompassing category of Mystery.

One of the benefits of making the top 10 in a free fiction category is that besides readers, there are agents, editors, movie producers, and even publishers who are known to check these lists frequently for a book and a writer worth signing. That is a big plus.

Another plus, of course, is you get your book and your name out there to readers who might like your novel so much they buy your next one. Or they spread the word to friends about the book. And by the time that friend goes to download your book, it is no longer for free. Hopefully, they buy.

I put the second book in my mystery series, The Punishing Game, on two-day free promotion, and it did far better than the first one. I had 1,777 downloads, both here and outside the country, including 62 in the UK, 10 in Germany, 11 in Canada, and 2 each in France and Italy. I rose to as high as #2 in Hardboiled giveaways, #3 in the category of Crime, and #7 in Mystery. I like to believe that the increased number of downloads for book 2 were partially a result of readers who downloaded and liked book 1.

Most important to me, this time my giveaway started generating sales, both of The Punishing Game AND The Hurting Game.

Well, as this post attests to, I guess you know the writing and publishing world has changed dramatically when an author like me gets excited about giving his books away for free.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Return of the Prodigal Son

I’m back!

Ever since my last blog in August, when I published the first book in my Frank Boff mystery series, The Hurting Game, I have had no time to write a blog because I was heavily involved in re-editing the 2d, 3d, and 4th books in my series, all of which are essentially done.

Now, I have just published the second book in the series, The Punishing Game, and am happy to report the first two reviews were five star, and each person said the same thing, that they couldn’t put it down and had to read until they finished.

Got the same compliment from my son, Alex, who said he finished it in 2 days. Alex doesn’t normally finish a magazine in two days.

Then I asked him if he liked it as much as the first book, and he said, “I didn’t want to say this because I was afraid I’d hurt your feelings, but this book is five times better than the first!”

Of course I explained to him that to a writer, who is always seeing to grow, that kind of statement is a big compliment. I always want the new book I write to be better than the previous book.

Book 3, The Killer Sex Game, I am targeting for release in July. It is the best book in the series, and 99,228 words long! Yikes. I’m turning into the Tolstoy of mystery writers! But my grandparents were from Russia, so I guess it’s in my blood.

In other news, I connected with the owners of a highly-regarded indie bookstore in Millbrook, NY, Merritt Books, located about 50 miles from where I live in Saugerties. I told them I am a local author and asked if they would consider putting my two books on their bookshelves. They seemed very receptive, so I sent them the two books to read.

Most gratifying of all is that I continue to get encouragement on Facebook from my friends, especially Jenny L. Tucker, Jochem Vandersteen, Craig Wexler, Terrence McCauley, and Deborah Margean Anderson. Thanks for believing in me!

News Flash: For all you authors who write about a private investigator, you should get to know and friend on Facebook, Jochem Vandersteen, who’s popular website, “Sons of Spade,” is a great place to find new and established mystery writers and their new books. Jochem is the Gertrude Stein of mystery writers, he is our rabbi, always selflessly promoting us. He especially loves pulp fiction, and of course, as his website title implies, hardboiled PIs.  His website is:

Here are links to my first two books, available at in Kindle and trade paperback versions:

The Hurting Game:

The Punishing Game:

I leave you with this thought: the best part about being a writer is hearing that readers of my work were entertained. If I can bring several hours of pleasure to people in this harsh world, then all the sacrifice and hard work will have been worth it.

More posts are coming regularly from now on!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Best is Yet to Come

Friends and relatives are reading my book now. Normally, they are the kindest critics, but my people all know I expect the brutal truth from the them. My son weighed in with the greatest review a father could hope for: “I started reading at 10 in the morning and have read 126 pages and I can’t put it down. The writing is fantastic.” Remind me to raise that kid’s allowance.

The subtext of any excitement I feel now is that I have already written books 2, 3, and 4 in The Frank Boff Mystery Series, so there is so much more good reading to come. And dare I say, books 2-4 are better than the first book, The Hurting Game, which is a terrific book, as noted by a reporter for the New York Times:

"Nathan Gottlieb, who knows the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of professional athletes inside-out, takes us on a compelling and suspenseful trip into the underbelly of the glitzy Las Vegas strip in order to chase down the killer of a world champion boxer. Gottlieb's prose is as fast and firm as the stiffest jab, and his ending is simply lights-out. First-rate, fun and irreverent story telling." (Harvey Araton, New York Times, author of Driving Mr. Yogi)

Each book just  seemed to be better than the predecessor. Call it writer growth, or just getting a stronger handle on my main characters. What really was fun for me in writing the sequels was the way my characters kept evolving, as human beings do. Ditto for relationships between the characters.

Already started book 5, featuring a brand new co-lead whom I’m pumped about getting down on “paper.” She’s my first major woman protagonist, Gena Lynch. Tall lady, ex-Iraq and Afghan vet, recently suspended indefinitely by the NYPD because of a drinking problem. Fate conspires to throw Lynch together with Boff on a case involving a string of  murders in which illegal guns were left at the scene, positioned near the victims head each time. And oh yeah, did I mention that the victims are all cops?

Once again, as in all the books in the series, the surface murders lead to a deeper crime conspiracy that is still going on. That’s echoes Boff’s consistent belief that, “Things in my world are rarely as they seem.”

And from my website, here is a brief description of what you can expect in books 2 and 3:

Boff and Cullen are back in THE PUNISHING
Cullen is  nearly killed when he, his
trainer Ryan McAlary, and trainer Nino Biaggi get
caught in the crosshairs of a drive-by shootout
between Brooklyn street gangs. A bullet grazes
Cullen’s head, Biaggi is dead, and the cops say
they were just in the wrong place at the wrong

Boff doesn’t think so. He believes the shootout
was staged and Cullen was the real target. So
Boff flies from Las Vegas to Brooklyn to
investigate. Cullen, who is in Brooklyn training for
a major fight at Madison Square Garden, doesn’t
for a moment think he was the target. Once
again he and Boff are at odds.

But when evidence starts to turn up that the
gang shootout indeed had been a charade,
Cullen once again joins forces with Boff. Their
investigation will take them into a dangerous
world where powerful people are playing a game
of high stakes poker in order to pull off a multi-
million dollar scam. Boff himself is nearly killed,
and now he and Cullen are dead set on not only
stopping the scam from coming off, but punishing
the people involved.

In THE KILLER SEX GAME, Boff and Cullen
have moved permanently to the Big Apple, where
they bite into a complex case involving a
murdered Cuban boxing legend, high class call
girls, and a string of related deaths. One of those
killed is Cullen’s girlfriend, who is raped and
murdered in a Brooklyn alley. The killer is caught
in the act and slain by a couple cops who just
happen to be on the scene…or so it seems.

As Boff and Cullen look into both the murder of
his girlfriend and the boxer, some ugly truths
emerge, including the fact that Cullen’s lady
friend lived a dual life as a second-year law
student at Columbia, and also as a hooker for an
elite escort service. When the dead boxer is also
linked to the escort service, Boff and Cullen find
themselves searching in a world where the price
of sex is cheaper than the cost for betrayal:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

After the Writing, Comes the Marketing

My book, The Hurting Game, in Kindle and trade paperback formats is up and rocking on Biggest problem to deal with now is who do I send free ones to and who must pay. I limited the freebies to close friends, reviewers, and those who helped me with the book.

My son, Alex, goes to this NYC nightclub a lot and has sold 5 Kindle copies of my book. His friends just took out their wifi devices and ordered on the spot. Since he is now a salesman for my work, I bought him custom-designed business cards and a silver card holder.

The only downside is that publishing has proven to be a huge infringement on my writing time. There is so much to do, like marketing. But it is what it is.

Meanwhile my author website is almost done, and it’s awesome. Created (with input from me) by the very talented William Trillo, who also did my trailer. The website is:

My book trailer, a shade over two minutes, can be found here on YouTube:

The exciting thing is that there is so much more writing to come. The Hurting Game is just book 1 of The Frank Boff mystery series, and I have already finished books 2, 3, and 4, working on five. Plan to bring out a new book roughly every 5 months.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Birth of A New Mystery Series

Excited that my trade paperback is finally available on My author website, will be going up this week. The site will contain among other things, a short synopsis of books 2 and 3 in the Frank Boff Mystery Series. They are titled respectively, The Punish Game, and The Killer Sex Game.

Here are the four editorial reviews of The Hurting Game on my author page:
“Nathan Gottlieb, who knows the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of professional athletes inside-out, takes us on a compelling and suspenseful trip into the underbelly of the glitzy Las Vegas strip in order to chase down the killer of a world champion boxer. Gottlieb’s prose is as fast and firm as the stiffest jab, and his ending is simply lights-out. First-rate, fun and irreverent story telling.” (Harvey Araton, New York Times, author of Driving Mr. Yogi)
The Hurting Game is a compelling, suspenseful mystery with a stunning climax. What dies in Vegas, doesn't stay in Vegas. I can't wait for the second book in this unique series.” (Kevin Kernan, NY Post)
“Nathan Gottlieb introduces a colorful array of cops, mobsters, drug dealers, snitches and flawed heroes in this unpredictable page turner.  The Hurting Game is a heart-pounding, gritty escape from the mundane.” (Jen Estes, author of “Big Leagues” and “Curveball”)   
“This is more than just an engrossing read, this is destined to be one of the most compelling series that have come down the mystery pike in a very long time. Exploding out of the alpha-male Vegas underworld are two sleuthing superheroes: the ethically challenged but hilarious Frank Boff and the headstrong yet cunning Danny Cullen. Nat Gottlieb has made them cornerstones of this genre, and I can’t wait for their next case. Dave D' Alessandro, The Newark Star-Ledger.

Obviously I am going to have each title in the series include the word “Game.” And the book covers will all look the same, red dripping colors, suggestive of blood. So anyone who has read the first book and sees the cover for the second book, will know immediately who wrote it and the fact that this is a novel in the Frank Boff Mysteries Series.