Reader feedback

The original purpose for building this website was to create an internet platform to advertise the fact I’d become an author, and to promote my books.

The idea was that my writing would eventually provide me some level of income, but there’s only one small problem — I haven’t written enough material in any particular genre to draw and sustain a large audience, and there’s a lot of competition in this new age of digital publishing.

Long ago the decision was made to sacrifice quantity for quality, so I haven’t tried to produce a steady stream of content on one particular subject. I have tried to focus on writing well, rather than publishing more frequently. Naturally, it was a very rewarding feeling in 2013 when not one or two, but three of my books won awards, but the problem is that awards don’t automatically produce income. The market has been flooded with competition, and not enough people know who I am. I’m no genius when it comes to marketing myself as a writer, but I know that I don’t have enough readers, book reviews, and my work hasn’t gotten much publicity.

This is somewhat difficult to write without sounding like I’m pleading for money, but in order for my work to earn income, I need to sell books and short stories. I have resisted the idea of buttons soliciting donations to support the website, and Patreon accounts. But on the other hand, I don’t have an agent, or a book deal. I don’t get paid six or seven-figure advances on work that hasn’t even been written yet. The two small, independent publishers who have published my work paid fair royalties, but those are based on book sales. To be brutally blunt, if my family depended on my income as a writer to survive, we’d have starved to death about nine years ago.

Fortunately my wife believes in my talent as a writer, and I believe in myself.  The problem is largely one of my own making, I do believe.  Because my six published works range from nonfiction books about religion and philosophy (Divine Evolution and Counterargument for God), a collection of short stories about animal rescue called Always a Next One, plus three detective novels, I haven’t built an audience base that impatiently waits on my next book.

My first novel, Coastal Empire, introduced private detective Robert Mercer and his canine partner, Ox, as they tried to solve the mystery of why someone might steal a person’s identity without stealing their money. Premonition is the sequel to Coastal Empire, and Secondhand Sight is an amateur sleuth novel featuring Dan Harper as the main character. The next Mercer novel, which will be published in 2017, will be called Atheist’s Prayer.

I know from comments that people enjoy reading my blog, or so they claim, but do those same people read my books? If not, why not?

What do you like about my website, and what don’t you like? 

Like anyone else with an ego, of course I enjoy a complimentary review, especially when it is published at Amazon. However, I must admit that I crave constructive criticism, and I pay closer attention to those one and two-star book reviews, especially when it is obvious the person actually read my book. After all, if we fail to learn from our mistakes, we never stop making them. If my next novel isn’t better than anything I’ve written before, I’m not learning enough from my mistakes.

If you read one of my books, did you publish a short review on Amazon? Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, if you didn’t like what you read. Trust me, I’ll get over it.

I’ve been thinking about ways of monetizing the website, but the only thing I’ve decided to do so far is to publish here more often, and ask for your feedback on my writing. Having Atheist’s Prayer published later this year ought to help. Yes, I am committed to seeing that project completed in 2017, and then moving on to Devil’s Breath. I’m committed to working on Atheist’s Prayer every day, until published. Less time squandered on social media, and more time devoted to real work. If I simply went by Google Analytics, I’d write about Georgia Bulldog football every day, but I think there are enough websites already dedicated to that subject.

So…what do I do right? What am I doing wrong? What should I be doing differently?

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

What makes some atheists so angry?

southernprose_cover_CAFGContrary to popular belief (of my critics), it doesn’t really bother me if people call themselves atheists. I’m not a big fan of anti-theists, though. Life is too short to spend much time in the company of thoroughly unpleasant people.

What annoys me more than anything is when people presume that I’m stupid and try talking down to me merely because I have identified myself as theist-agnostic. Because I believe in a supernatural God, they immediately assume that I’m some sort of idiot, before I can even say another word.

Since we are all agnostic by nature, we can then claim to be either theist, atheist, or apathetic (because you apparently don’t care enough and don’t know enough to even form an opinion).

While describing my beliefs, I usually attempt to justify them using scientific evidence, logic, reason, and common sense. This strategy often upsets my atheist counterpart, because rarely if ever do I refer to the Bible, unless I am forced to defend my Christian beliefs.

I certainly know better than to assert I can prove what I believe to be true beyond any and all doubt. Nor can I claim to know with absolute certainty that I’m right about everything (or anything) that I believe.

Hence the “agnostic” bit was added as a qualifier. This was all explained in my book Counterargument for God, though perhaps not quite this clearly — I meant to say that everyone should consider themselves agnostic.

Nobody knows for sure the true nature of our supernatural Creator, nor even whether or not God actually exists. According to my analysis, however, the probability of God appears to be very high.

On the other hand, I’m very adept at using the available, known scientific evidence available in the public domain to construct a very compelling argument for design over descent.

Once the only two true possible answers to humanity’s existential questions have been identified (an intelligent, supernatural creator God versus very stupid and stupendous good luck), the choice of atheism becomes extraordinarily more difficult to defend.

The atheist never believes me when I say that my counterargument for God and intelligent design will use the same scientific evidence used to argue for common descent — the fossil record, comparative anatomy, and DNA.

Of course, everyone enters into this sort of discussion about science and/or religion believing their opinions and understand of things are correct. Otherwise, we would be arguing for the sake of argument. I would never waste your time, or allow you to waste mine in such fashion. I always assume that any attempt to communicate with me is made with sincere intent, until proven otherwise. My time is valuable to me.

Though in the past I have been accused of being a prophet as well as an evangelist, I claim to be neither. I’m just a writer. If those other accusations really were true, I must be the most conservative prophet in history and the laziest, most apathetic evangelist of all time. I’ve never preached a sermon.

As I’ve said before, if God were to prove His existence beyond all doubt, we would lose our ability to exercise free will. We have no choice but to become slaves to our belief.

Because I believe in free will, I must allow my atheist friends the option to reject the supernatural Creator in whom I believe: Yahweh, the God of Abraham, and Jesus the Christ, whom I have personally accepted as the Messiah promised to the Jews in Isaiah, Chapter 53.

I’m not begging anybody to believe what I believe.

Free will allows us all to make choices about whether and what to believe. I’m not trying to shove my religious or scientific beliefs down anyone’s throat.

However, I do take exception when my beliefs are mocked and ridiculed by people who seem to have no clue about what they are saying. You’re free to try and provoke a reaction from me, but it’s almost never going to be what you expect. My worst sin is pride, I’m afraid.

I know I’m not stupid. I always grant my opponent the benefit of the doubt and assume them to at least be my intellectual equal, until proven otherwise. I never underestimate the other guy.

I’ve had much smarter people than today’s useful idiot try talking down to me before. It never worked out well for them because I am always underestimated, and assumed to be their intellectual inferior. It’s one thing to claim the superiority of your logic, and quite another to demonstrate it.

I wouldn’t have felt the need for writing this article if hadn’t been for a recent exchange with one rather enthusiastic atheist on the internet intent on provoking a reaction from me. We can all learn from his example. The confrontation began when this person wrote (among other things) that “evidence is superior to proof.”

To me, that assertion seemed like an extraordinarily silly thing to say, and so I merely pointed that out, writing this in response:

That statement doesn’t make sense. Evidence leads toward proof, with proof being the goal of improved evidence. For example, you ask me to prove my identification. I produce a Social Security card and show it to you. You say that’s insufficient evidence, because the SS card lacks a photo. So I produce new evidence, a driver’s license. You complain it is from out-of-state. I produce a valid US passport, and finally you concede that I have proved my identity to your satisfaction. (In other words) Evidence leads to proof.

Upset by my temerity to employ logic while justifying my point (presumably he could tell I am a theist), the conversation soon degenerated to the intellectual equivalent of a food fight during lunch in the cafeteria of a middle school.

First this person created a straw man argument (saying I had asserted there is proof in science), pretending it was mine, then he attempted to “educate” me by posting a barrage of links supporting his assertion that is no proof in science, in spite of the fact I never said there was. I merely said proof is superior to evidence.

For scientists, proof does not exist only because it is considered unattainable. It’s the unreachable goal. To say evidence is superior to proof is simply preposterous. Evidence accumulates to approach the level of proof — this is how hypotheses become theories.

I had merely pointed out his faux pas. Rather than conceding the validity of my point, this atheist person became openly hostile.

In a somewhat feeble attempt to bruise my ego, this person suggested I should be embarrassed by my lack of skill as a writer.

I decided to exit the forum before the temptation to embarrass this person grew too strong. I have nothing to gain by defeating a defenseless person in a battle of wits.

However, none of this changes the fact the very first definition of the word “proof” found in the dictionary reads as follows:

evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.

Therefore, the moral of the story appears to be this: before you argue about the meaning of a word with someone, you might want to make sure the other guy isn’t a professional writer. Writers, assuming they want to be good at what they do, usually make sure they know what words mean and how to use them properly in a sentence.

Perhaps next time, you should check the dictionary to make absolutely sure that you’re one hundred percent correct in what you are saying before calling people names or trying to insult them. Assuming you don’t want to end up looking like a complete idiot, of course.

You should probably also keep in mind t51VqubTGmyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_hose of us who write novels for a living are constantly needing good names for characters — in fact, the next time I need to name a gay transvestite axe-murderer character, I’ll already have a name to use in mind. Thanks for the inspiration!

All seriousness aside, I still wonder: whatever made this critic of mine assume that I have feelings, anyway? Silly rabbit. Trix are for kids.

Perhaps, had someone written a review that said Wow, who knew you wrote so much sheer drivel. I would be shamed if I were you immediately following publication of Divine Evolution, it might have crushed my ego, that many years ago.

Nowadays I realize that’s almost a compliment when coming from an atheist of obviously lesser intellect and more than likely the smartest thing they could think of saying, so the insult slides off me like water off a duck’s back.

Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got? I’ve been called a moron, narcissist, idiot, know-it-all, buffoon…and those were the nice things people were saying. At this stage of my writing career, I’ve been called just about every name in the book (at least twice.) Most of them aren’t repeatable, not fit for public consumption. Suffice it to say that I’m used to criticism. Heck, even my own wife told me I’m arrogant.

I prefer to think of it as confidence born of the fact the criticisms of my arguments by atheists never seem to get appreciably smarter.

The only thing this somewhat pathetic attempt to annoy me succeeded in doing was to make me ponder this question: what makes people like this guy so angry, simply because of something I happen to believe? Why can’t atheists simply be happy with their atheism?

I can only think of two possible reasons: either this guy’s jealous of me, or he’s insecure about what he believes himself.

Jealousy can’t be ruled out as a possibility.

Though I’m hardly what you might call a commercial success, I write a pretty good novel, according to most of my reviews. My audience slowly grows by the day. Lack of exposure seems to be my biggest current obstacle to success.

Word-of-mouth recommendations from readers to their friends seems to be gradually building my audience over time. Three novels have been published thus far. By the time that number has doubled, we’ll probably be ready to spend money on advertising. Life is good.

The most important thing to a writer is having lots of readers. Though jealousy is a possible motive, even at this fledgling stage of my career, I don’t think it’s the most likely one.

It’s far more likely this person is simply insecure about his atheism, troubled by my confidence in theism. Perhaps this vociferous critic of mine noticed that over 700 people have shared my recent article about carbon dating and the Shroud of Turin with their friends on Facebook.

southernprose_cover_SHSThe fact that quite a few people apparently appreciate what I have written might have unnerved him, shaken his confidence in his atheistic beliefs, and his own intellect.

On the other hand, he could be nothing more than an immature jerk with the mentality of my eleven-year-old grandson.

Or, he might be a gay transvestite axe-murderer.


Can a Christian believe in ghosts?

southernprose_cover_SHSMy novel Secondhand Sight won the 2013 Reader’s Favorite international book award for Fiction in the Horror category.

However, the novel is not one  that I’d recommend to everybody because the plot involves paranormal activity. Ghosts are treated as real entities in my book, because I believe they really exist.

I do realize that not everyone believes in ghosts. It even seems that some of my Christian friends agree with my non-Christian friends about the subject of ghosts, even though they disagree about practically everything else.

Most atheists reject the idea of ghosts because they don’t believe any supernatural or paranormal phenomena is real. Yet I’ve had Christian friends also say they don’t believe ghosts are really the spirits of dead people. They think ghosts are actually demons pretending to act like a dead human, presuming that we know how disembodied spirit should normally behave. Some of my Christian friends don’t think there is a biblical basis for believing that ghosts are real, but they are mistaken.

In my opinion, Christians should be open to the possibility that ghosts exist because of something that’s in the Bible, words spoken by Jesus himself.

Luke 24: 36-39 describes the first encounter that Jesus had with the disciples, after his crucifixion and resurrection. The New International Version Bible (NIV) reads:

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be upon you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they had seen a ghost.

38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

39 Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.”

Please note that Jesus does not say, “Ghosts do not exist.”

Instead, Jesus describes the difference between being brought back from the dead and being a ghost by specifying that ghosts do not have flesh or bones. His disciples were men who had allegedly witnessed more than enough miracles performed by Jesus not to question his authority or divinity.

They would have believed him, had Jesus simply said that ghosts don’t exist, at any point during his ministry. However, Jesus never did that.

Jesus never said that ghosts were nothing but a figment of our imagination — probably because he remembered how the witch of Endor had called forth the ghost of Samuel for King Saul, found in I Samuel 28:3-25. Perhaps Jesus knew that ghosts really exist from personal experience, like me.51VqubTGmyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, with the reputation for being one of the most haunted cities in America. I believe in ghosts because I’ve had them play silly pranks on me, more than once. I’ve even felt a ghost touch me. So I have very, very little doubt that ghosts are real. My personal ghost stories were recounted in my first book, Divine Evolution.

You don’t have to simply take my word for it, though.

Personal observation and experience is the most powerful form of scientific evidence one might consider — empirical evidence.

It isn’t all that difficult to find a haunted house with a well-documented history near where you live, to find out for yourself. As the old expression goes, seeing is believing.

However, you might choose to simply believe the words of the risen Christ.

Assuming you really are a Christian, of course.


The 2013 Readers’ Favorite international book awards

gold-flat-webAward-winning author John L. Leonard sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

The 2013 Readers’ Favorite international book awards ceremony will be held next month in Miami. My wife and I have made plans to attend.

She’s my editor and publisher, deserving the trip just as much as me.

And why are we going? Three of my five books, edited and published last year, were entered in the 2013 contest.

My collection of short stories about animal rescue called Always a Next One: true stories of dog fostering, was awarded the highest honor, the gold medal for Nonfiction/Animal books. southernprose_cover_AANO

Reviewers offered some very kind words. One said:

The author wrote in a conversational manner, as if he were sitting with me and personally telling me his tales.

Another critic wrote:

This is a book that belongs on animal lovers’ reading lists everywhere.

southernprose_cover_CAFGMy book Counterargument for God won the gold medal for Nonfiction in the category for Religion/Philosophy.

One reader wrote,

This is a must for anyone struggling with their own faith or trying to get a loved one to see that God does exist. Mr Leonard’s style of writing keeps one interested while presenting very scientific material.

Another review said:

As I review this book, I find myself wanting to quote the author. His presentation is tactful, eloquent and stated in a logical manner. John Leonard has extensively researched the scientific arguments he discusses in this book. He also deftly asks questions that should have atheists questioning their beliefs.

southernprose_cover_SHSEven my alter-ego for fiction, Rocky Leonard, got into the act. My novel Secondhand Sight won the gold medal for Fiction/Horror.

One reviewer said:

Author John ‘Rocky’ Leonard, is a proficient storyteller with a vivid imagination and knows how to maintain an air of suspense throughout his story. Secondhand Sight will keep the reader riveted to the book.

Another reader said:

I am struggling mightily to resist staying up all night to see how the rest of the story unfolds. It’s that good.

High praise, indeed.

I would like to express my gratitude to all my readers, and especially I’d like to express a heartfelt thanks to those who wrote a review on Amazon, or told a friend about one of my books.

Thank you, one and all.

We are very blessed, and Miami-bound!


Pure Evil

Codex_Gigas_devilWriting horror and detective novels requires research into some very dark subjects. The writer must always ask his or herself, why do people intentionally hurt or kill other people?

What was the motive for the crime?

The villain in my novel Secondhand Sight was the embodiment of pure evil, a sadistic person who derived pleasure from the suffering and pain of others. Do people that sick and twisted really exist?


My imagination isn’t anywhere near that dark or fantastic to conjure up a serial killer without any inspiration from real life.

My dreams are of rescuing puppies, not beheading them.

I can’t comprehend nor want to contemplate the sort of evil, twisted mind that could compose a letter to a young mother suggesting that she euthanize her autistic son.

We all know that such evil exists. That is inarguable. History is replete with accounts of evil people committing atrocities for various reasons or flimsy excuses.

The only remaining question to consider is whether or not pure evil exists, which has been defined as the idea that bad people inflict intentional harm on others for no rational reason.

Do Satan and his minions actually exist? Are real demons present in the natural world?

I say yes.

Professional skeptic Michael Shermer reported that Florida State University professor Roy Baumeister proclaimed that the concept of pure evil is nothing but a myth, asserting that any act of aggression can be sorted into one of these four categories:

  1. Instrumental violence — meaning violence with war-like purpose of conquest and plunder.
  2. Revenge — payback; rather self-explanatory.
  3. Dominance and recognition — violence with the motive to gain attention.
  4. Ideology — violence committed in the name of religion.

There seems to be at least one glaring omission from the list: sadistic pleasure derived from the pain and suffering of others.

Here are a couple of examples to consider:

In the early morning hours of July 23, 2007, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky broke into the home of Dr. William Petit. Komisarjevsky’s attention had been drawn to the family by the doctor’s eleven-year-old daughter.

Without warning and for absolutely no reason, Dr. Petit was viciously attacked and beaten with a baseball bat. His wife was raped and strangled. His two daughters were also raped and tortured, doused with gasoline and then set on fire.

When my friends ask me why I support the death penalty, the tragic events in the case of Dr. William Petit often come to mind, and rather quickly.

Some “academics” might try to categorize the incident as instrumental violence because robbery was the secondary motive. But remember, the Petits were only chosen because a pedophile was attracted to their eleven-year-old daughter.

But here’s a tougher nut to crack for the deniers of pure evil: the senseless murder of Christopher Lane. The three perpetrators have been caught and the motive revealed, though not understood because it is truly incomprehensible.

The three murderers said they acted because they were bored. So these teenaged thugs decided to kill somebody, a total stranger, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

One of the three said they shot Lane in the back as he jogged “for the fun of it.”


Ponder the implications of those new words, long and hard, for a few minutes.

One life has tragically ended. Three more lives will be permanently altered for committing a capital crime without a real motive.

Families will probably be destroyed by the ripple effects of this single, random act of violence.

There is no consolation to think that these three future convicts will learn the true meaning of boredom as they rot in prison for the next several decades.

No logic or attempt to rationalize such a travesty can begin to explain such mindless insanity.

For the fun of it.

Sadly, it wasn’t just a loner nutcase. The shooter had two accomplices, neither of whom said anything like, “Hey, that’s insane. You can’t shoot somebody in the back for no reason.”

Truly, it boggles the mind. Senseless, cruel murder, only for the fun of it.

Now that’s pure evil.

The TV commercial for Secondhand Sight

finalist-shiny-webThere’s a pretty good chance you won’t see it anywhere else, so I thought I’d show you the television commercial for Secondhand Sight, a finalist for the 2013 Readers’ Choice Award for Fiction/Horror.

For a limited time, you can visit this website for a FREE copy, in exchange for a fair review of the book of Amazon.

Love it or hate it, just give your honest opinion of my novel.

That’s all I can ask.

So without further ado, here’s the commercial on YouTube.


Serial killer cells

southernprose_cover_SHSI have written five books, both novels and nonfiction.

But I only write about things that interest me.

My lifelong love of thrillers and detective fiction, combined with my interest in supernatural phenomena, led to my desire to first write Coastal Empire and then Secondhand Sight, a paranormal thriller.

The villain of Secondhand Sight was a serial killer, one of the scariest and most depraved members of our society — a person who murders a number of people, simply for the perverse pleasure of killing them.

Speaking of Secondhand Sight, this month you can get a free e-book from Story Cartel and be registered to win a free Amazon gift card at the same time.

And tell your friends.

At the polar opposite end of the spectrum in regard to my reading interests are science and medicine, inspired by my research to write Divine Evolution and then Counterargument for God.

Mix all my various interests in a blender, and about the worst idea I might ever conceive might be a serial killer infected with AIDS, intentionally spreading the virus to everyone with whom he comes in contact.

Let’s face it — the words “serial killer” and “HIV” ought to send a chill down your spine.

Or it could cause you to weep tears of joy.

What if scientists discovered that genetically modified HIV virus could be used to cure cancer?

Doubts are perfectly understandable. Seeing is believing.

So watch a three minute video found at this link, and learn to believe in miracles.


Secondhand Sight: 2013 Readers’ Favorite finalist

southernprose_cover_SHSSecondhand Sight, my second novel as “Rocky” Leonard, has been named one of six finalists in the Fiction/Horror category in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Awards.

This honor would not be possible without the efforts and skill of my editors, proof readers, copy editors, cover designers, and all those who helped me produce these three books that have been deemed worthy of finalist recognition.

This year I’m blessed to have three books remaining in competition in three different categories, with Secondhand Sight joining Always a Next One and Counterargument for God!

One Readers’ Favorite reviewer wrote about this novel:

The plot is deceptively simple because it is so ingenious. Dan’s descent into a manic paranoia is skillfully documented, and one feels for him in the mental confusion that accompanies his visions. The author also includes some interesting thoughts on the nature of dreams, hallucinations, psychometry (psychic revelations via touching objects), and the power of the mind. Murder mystery and paranormal fans will love this book.

finalist-shiny-webLast year I learned the hard way that a five-star review doesn’t guarantee a novel will become a finalist.

I know that I’m very fortunate for this opportunity.

Coastal Empire never made it this far.



The face of evil

It isn’t every day that you gSecondhandSight_Frontet an email with “The Devil” as the subject.

I almost didn’t recognize that the source was the production company filming the commercial for Secondhand Sight. We’re about to start an advertising campaign on Comcast, to see how things go.

Until this point, the focus has primarily been kept on writing new books. Technically, my tenure as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner was both marketing and writing material for another book.

After all, much of the content developed for the Examiner was also incorporated into Counterargument for God.

Now, the focus is almost entirely on finishing Premonition, the sequel to Coastal Empire.

There are even sketchy plans for a sequel to Secondhand Sight.

I have plans for many future books. I only need to live long enough to write them all. However, we’ve decided that it’s time to try to develop a readership.

When it comes to the characters in my novels, I know my heroes.


I can tell you exactly what, or more specifically who private detective Robert Mercer looks like — actor Jim Caviezel.





His sidekick Nick Mason reminds me of a young Johnny Depp, when I try to describe him for the reader. depp_1





The first person that comes to mind when I think of John Sutlive will always be Denzel Washington. Denzel_Washington






I also really like Anthony Mackie — loved him as Harry in The Adjustment Bureau, but I think he might be a little too young to “be” John Sutlive.



On those rare occasions that I allow myself to go as far to fantasize that one day my novels could be made into movies, I tell myself that it’s okay to accept that my first choice for every character may not be available.

Sometimes the backup plan works out really well.

Director Jonathan Demme originally didn’t want Jodie Foster to play Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. In retrospect, it’s difficult to imagine anyone playing the role any better, and it’s really tough to argue with the fact Foster won the Oscar for Best Actress, and the film swept the remaining major awards for Best Picture, , Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Director.












When I tried to visualize the face of Secondhand Sight hero Dan Harper it was easy–Keanu Reeves kept coming to mind, as he looked when he appeared in the movie Speed.







I find myself having trouble when I try to describe the face of evil, especially when the guy is supposed to blend in like a Ted Bundy–the idea is that you don’t recognize the face of evil until it changes, once inside your house.


So what does the Devil look like? I still not sure that I can tell you.

But it does appear that the people filming my commercial have figured out who the killer in Secondhand Sight resembles…

This is very exciting stuff!

Digital publishing and Amazon

How do I love Amazon? Let me count the ways…

If it weren’t for Amazon, I don’t believe that I would have a published book for sale today. Because of this internet conglomerate, I have two detective novels and two nonfiction books available for purchase, as you read these words.

Yes, and David Gaughran’s book Let’s Get Digital were also instrumental in getting my books published without an agent or contract with a major publisher, but without the market spawned by Amazon with the introduction of the Kindle, the demand for e-books would never have been created in the first place.

Therefore, in my mind, Amazon ultimately deserves a share of credit for any success I will enjoy as an author.

Amazon created the Kindle Select program, where a book may be enrolled for special treatment over a period of three months.

My short story collection Always a Next One was put into Kindle Select. During the time in that program, I’ve found my book marketed ubiquitously online, everywhere from American Thinker to an Australian television station website.

It’s extremely gratifying to find a well-placed, attractive ad for your product, especially an advertisement that you didn’t have to buy.

At this point in my writing career, exposure to my work is most important. “Free” advertising is invaluable. The Kindle Select program has been a great way to get my book cover visible all over the internet, where many eyes have found an adorable puppy looking back at them.

But that’s not all Amazon has done besides creating a market and offering a subscription service to help sell books.

Recently, for the third time in as many months, some algorithm in Amazon’s marketing software generated an automatic email and sent it to me.

Interestingly, the subject of the email was Secondhand Sight, the title given my most recent novel.

It was no coincidence.

Amazon was marketing my book, trying to sell a copy to me!

Even better, there were twelve novels in total from the Mystery and Suspense category, which their marketing widget had obviously recognized as my preference.

Secondhand Sight had received top billing, and Coastal Empire was the second book offered in the email. Apparently the widgets track how many times a potential customer has viewed a particular product. True, my competition in the offering did not include Michael Connelly, Dean Koontz, or James Patterson, but so what?

The important point was that my novels were marketed in the email, and prominently featured. Highlighted. Most importantly, I didn’t pay a dime, beg on bended knee, or do anything of which I’m aware to get Amazon to promote them.

It just happened, a most pleasant surprise, apparently a free benefit from doing business with the 800 pound gorilla in the market.

And all this time, I thought big corporations were evil and heartless.

Getting a free promotion from the market leader in the e-book business is like receiving a tastefully expensive Christmas present from someone I barely know.

Honestly, I do not anticipate that millions of potential customers were blasted that same email. I suspect that a rather small, select number of Amazon customers who had the same basic search patterns in Mystery and Suspense novels were the ones who received a similar advertisement.

To me, it wouldn’t matter if the same email was sent to 12,000 possible readers or only a dozen…or fewer. Even if I turned out to be the only recipient of that email, the message meant that somebody other than me is actively marketing my book, thanks to good old-fashioned capitalism.

After all, if my book sells, Amazon gets a small cut. It’s worth every penny, too.

Is this a great country, or what?