Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Amazon Daily Deal

By Joe Moore

Today, Amazon has graciously chosen THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY (Midnight Ink, 2005) as their “Daily Deal”. This means that for one day only, they have reduced the price of the Kindle version to $0.99. I don’t know the tgcprocess by which they choose books for their Daily Deal, but I really appreciate it. Back on October 18, they picked my latest thriller THE PHOENIX APOSTLES, and by the end of the day, it became the #1 bestselling Kindle book on Amazon. So having 2 of my novels picked is a really big deal, and really cool. As you can imagine, I’m hoping for a repeat performance today.

THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY is very special to me because it began my writing career being the first book I ever had published. And the story of how it came about is also very special.

In 1994 a friend phoned my co-writer Lynn Sholes and told her to read the article Crusade's End? in the April issue of Discover magazine. The caller thought it had great promise as a premise for a book. The article was about Leon Decoeur, an archaeologist, working late on Christmas Eve at a dig site in Jerusalem where he uncovered an ancient cup he believed could be the Holy Grail. Preserved inside the cup was a brown residue, later determined to be human blood. Discover quoted Decoeur, "You remember that cosmologist a couple of years back who claimed he'd seen the face of God? Well, I think we're going to see His DNA."

As all writers do, Lynn started asking What If questions. In this instance it was: what if someone used the DNA to clone Christ?

At about the same time, I was a freelance writer reviewing books for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and other Florida newspapers. A mutual friend introduced me to Lynn. I reviewed her second novel (she was writing historical fiction at the time and eventually had 6 novels published) and we began talking about the business of writing. I joined Lynn's local critique group where we often discussed current projects and those we envisioned in the future. The Discover article story came up repeatedly, but Lynn just didn’t feel comfortable taking on the task of making a book from it since it was outside her genre. So, even though the story intrigued everyone who heard the cloning-Christ premise, it sat dormant until I couldn't stand the waste of a good idea any longer. One day, several years after the magazine article, I called Lynn and “threatened” her. I told her if she didn't write that story, I would outright steal the idea and write it myself. I think that shocked her into the reality of “getting on with the rat killing!” as she likes to say. Lynn and I decided on collaboration. We spent countless hours writing a detailed, 52-page, chapter-by-chapter outline. Finally finished, we agreed we didn't like major segments and started all over again, adding more dimension and texture.

The more research we did, the bigger the story grew. Finally, we thought the skeleton was ready for the flesh, and we began the first draft. That's when we became acutely aware of the differences in our writing styles: her voice was lyrical, mine bold. Those two voices fought each other on the page. But we also realized our strengths: Lynn’s was character development while mine was plotting. It took a great deal of work to put our egos aside and build trust in each other before our different styles started to blend. (This is why you rarely see collaboration in writing fiction. It’s generally an impossible task.) After three years of working on our book, we felt, as did our beta readers, that our voices were blending and our strengths were paying off to the story’s advantage. When our manuscript was finally complete, we sent it off to Lynn’s agent who loved it.

Then came the bad news. Enter Dan Brown.

Now, TGC was conceived, outlined, and drafted a decade before Brown's book, still he took all the air out of our story. Even though TGC was not the same story as THE DA VINCI CODE, it was still a “Grail” story. And there were small coincidences and idiosyncrasies in the plots, like killing someone off and making it look like an allergic reaction. So we went back to the drawing board. BTW, our working title from the beginning was CORPUS CHRISTI (Latin for the Body of Christ). When we finished, we changed it to THE ENOCHIAN PROPHECY.

We worked our way through the book again, doing more research so we could replace those close calls with THE DA VINCI CODE. And we even added a few additional twists. Then we sent it off again.

It found a home with Llewellyn Worldwide, and the book was published in 2005 as part of Llewellyn's launch of their new mystery imprint, Midnight Ink. They wisely changed the title from THE ENOCHIAN PROPHECY, which no one knew the meaning of much less could pronounce, to THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY.

That year, it was named Book Of The Year by ForeWord Magazine, landed on a number of international bestseller lists, and was eventually translated into 24 languages.

TGC was the beginning of my writing partnership with Lynn Sholes resulting in 5 novels published: THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY, THE LAST SECRET, THE HADES PROJECT, THE 731 LEGACY, THE PHOENIX APOSTLES and the short story BAM! JUST LIKE THAT. We’re closing in on finishing the first draft of #6, the standalone thriller THE BLADE.

So what is THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY about? Here’s the website promo copy.

From a newly unearthed crusader's tomb in Iraq to the guarded treasure vaults of the Vatican to a secret genetics lab on the banks of the Mississippi, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY uncovers a sinister plot of ultimate revenge.

A small wooden box hidden for centuries is passed on to network correspondent Cotten Stone by a dying archaeologist. With his final breath, spoken in a language Cotten has not heard since childhood, he declares that she is "the only one who can stop the sun . . . the dawn." Unable to open the box, Cotten seeks the help of John Tyler, a noted biblical historian and Catholic priest on leave of absence from his duties but not his vows. Inside the box, they discover a cup wrapped in a cloth bearing the insignia of a powerful medieval order that professed to be the Guardians of the Grail.

Cotten is propelled into the headlines as she and John deliver the Cup to the Vatican for authentication, and she reports the story of its journey from Calvary to cable TV. But her life quickly becomes caught up in a global plot driven by an ancient sect devoted to bringing about the Second Coming. As those around her fall victim to the Grail Conspiracy, Cotten soon learns her true legacy and must question if she is stopping an abomination or is she working on the side of Evil. In the final conflict she learns why she is the only one who can stop the ultimate revenge against God by the Prince of Darkness.

If you haven’t read TGC, please take advantage of Amazon’s $0.99 Daily Deal and download a copy to your Kindle. If you’ve already read it, I hope you’ll download and enjoy it again. I’ll be forever in your debt.

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This is my last post until next year since TKZ will be taking it’s annual 2-week Winter break starting December 19. Thank you for reading and commenting on my posts throughout the year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

24 comments:

  1. I have often wished I had a collaborator because I do get stuck and would love to have someone to bounce ideas and tennis balls off of. Then again I do have a dog to chase the tennis balls.

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  2. OK Joe,
    Just downloaded TGC to my Kindle for a little Christmastime reading. I'll give it a try.
    Thanks for sharing your story about collaboration with Lynn.
    I liked your style in Fresh Kills and I can't wait to see what you've done with this one.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas,
    Paula

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  3. Hey Joe, such a deal! I just downloaded TGC and hope to read it over the holidays. Thanks for the look behind the veil. What struck me about your account was your matter-of-fact account of having to reinvent your own wheel, after THE DA VINCI CODE was published. I can imagine that there was some weeping and gnashing of teeth, but you got it done. I'm assigning your blog to my family members for reading.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Joe. And we'll see you at #1 today again, I'm sure.

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  4. John, having a collaborator is not always smooth sailing, but it does mean that two people have a vested interest in the success of a story. Brainstorming solves most issues, and we rarely get stuck for long. One of us will always have an idea.

    Thanks Paula. Hope you enjoy TGC. Let me know.

    Joe, you’re right, hearing about THE DA VINCI CODE back then was tough. But we never gave up, and it led to producing four additional books that we’re both very proud of. If we had abandoned TGC, those stories would probably not have been written. Thanks for downloading TGC. Enjoy.

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  5. Well what do you know? Another Amazon promo benefitting a fellow writer. You just got another download, Joe. Congrats.

    The book should hit #1, or come very close. With a 99¢ price point, the sales generated are intended to float the rest of the boats. Good, forward thinking by Midnight Ink on this.

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  6. To me, collaboration on a project of fiction is simply incredible. I know it is rare, but I wish I heard more about doing it. Collaboration is a neat project. And after THE DA VINCI CODE stole your thunder? I've heard about writers giving up because something big came out that closely paralleled a manuscript they were working on. A love how you didn't quit and made it instead!

    So I'm gushing with writerly grins right now. Nice way to start the morning.

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  7. Jim, you’re right, this type of promo does raise all boats in a writer’s catalogue. For whatever reason Amazon chose us again, I am thankful. When I checked our numbers early this morning, TGC Kindle version was at 47k. By 8:30 it had jumped to 231. What does that mean? I have no idea. But it looks good on the resume. And thanks for the download.

    Thanks for the comments, Kathrine. There are downsides to collaboration such as having to split the money 50-50, but in general it has worked well for us. Definitely not for the weak of heart, though. I’ve always said that if there’s someone you want to kill, write a novel together.

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  8. Joe, Amazon ranking is based on both number and rate of sales. Thus, if a number of folks buy the book at roughly the same time, the ranking can go way up during that period. It may not accurately reflect the volume of sales over an extended period of time. But this is a promotion, and it is designed to get a spike so that you make new readers.

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  9. Very cool, Joe--congratulations! I just downloaded TGC, looking forward to reading it. Happy Holidays!

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  10. Thanks for the early Christmas present, Joe. Looking forward to reading TGC. I also tweeted the news. Fingers crossed you & Lynn have another great day & attract new fans. Great premise too.

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  11. Kathryn, thanks for the download, and enjoy. Satisfaction guarenteed.

    Thanks for the tweet, Jordan. Enjoy the book and report back when you're done.

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  12. Joe -

    The Grail Conspiracy is at #11 on Amazon at 1pm.

    Sweet!!

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  13. The Eagle Has Landed! Thanks to everyone who downloaded TGC. We hit #1 overall and in all catagories around 3:30 this afternoon. Too cool.

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  14. Cool! Like JRM I wish I had a collaborator sometimes - you and Lynn sound like you have a great writing partnership.

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  15. TGC is #1 !!

    And, being the bandwagon kind of guy I am not, I bought it too.

    I am curious how the "Daily Deal" works. I recently purchased an ad package at kindlenationdaily.com that puts a book in the "Daily Deal" for a $60 fee. I assume its the same ad as you got, except that yours was probably given by Amazon (or perhaps your publisher bought it?)

    The only downside of buying the ad, is I have no idea when it will be coming out.

    As far as writing partners, there's not enough room in my head with all of the partners I already have.

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  16. Correction: The kindlenationdaily.com ad I mentioned above is actually, as I now understand it, a sponsorship attached to KND's 70k + customers when they post Amazon's daily deal title.

    So, its a tagalong sort of advert, not the actual daily deal.

    But, KND ads did put two of my books in the top 10 on Amazon last time I ran them, so I think it'll still be good.

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  17. Basil, thanks for downloading TGC. I hope you enjoy it. Last summer, my publisher (Midnight Ink) contact me and asked for permission to allow Amazon to lower the price of my new thriller, THE PHOENIX APOSTLES for one day IF it was chosen for the Daily Deal. Of course, I said yes. On Oct 18, it was featured as the Daily Deal book and by late afternoon went to #1. Everyone was happy, but we heard no more about it. On Monday, my editor emailed me that TGC would be featured as today's Daily Deal. How Amazon decided on it as opposed to the other bazzillion books out there is beyond me. But it's obvious that when a book is featured, there's a very good chance it will do well. If I ever find out how it works, I'll let you know.

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  18. Thanks for the alert. Downloaded my copy today.

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  19. Such a fantastic story, thanks for sharing it! And congrats!

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  20. Oh, and I downloaded a copy too. Here's hoping you hit #1 again!

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  21. Thanks BK and Michelle. Enjoy the book, and Happy Holidays.

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  22. BAH! MISSED IT! ::pouts:: That's what I get for missing an episode of TKZ . . .

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