May 31, 2012

Images of Vlad Tepes and Transylvania.

Transylvania is a beautiful place.  Many people have said that they would love to visit it, and most of them might have a person in mind when they go for a bit of a tour.  This man is Vlad Tepes, and he was immortalized in the novel Dracula.

What was really immortalized was Bran Castle- it was going to be put into the history of lost castles in grand locations, but was saved by an unlikely source. The photo above shows the some of the ruins of the outer wall- note that the castle itself was not ruins- before the castle, along with the outer wall, was restored by Queen Marie of Romania, and also later on by the Romanian government.  The castle itself was is poor condition but it was still a landmark.

Many books have been published about this, and many more have been published about Transylvania.  The interest in Transylvania is in some ways due to Dracula, and in others due to the culture and people that live, or had lived there.

Vlad Tepes III was born in Transylvania, and he is still the most well-known historical figure, at least in North America.  Queen Marie of Romania, although as well known is not a legend.  It is due to Vlad Tepes being one of the major inspirations that Stoker used for his novel- Dracula.

Dracula, as Stoker imagined him was a vampire.  While not something that people see as being a force for good, Tepes is viewed in some of the groups who lived in Romania as being a force for good.  The fact that he was warlord and generally a man who would not keep his word, if the situation dictated, does have some negative effect, it is because he protected Wallachia (now a part of Romania) from the Ottomans.



These images of Vlad Tepes also show the city in Transylvania which was the place of his birth.  There is more to Transylvania than Tepes, but he did influence many people-- rather, he killed many people in the course of his lifetime. The fact that he killed more Saxons, makes this group of people view him in a more negative light.  Below is a map of Transylvania and the Banat, and an image depicting Tepes's favoured method of killing people.



May 28, 2012

In Search of the Lost Ones: Publishing and Money and Transylvania

My book has been available on Amazon.com and other Amazon websites for a while now and sales are reasonably good.  They sell about three books a week, and the price which was once higher is now at a lower price.  Here is the money matters problem and my own solution.

My book was published at the end of November 2011 and the price has not decreased since it was made available on Amazon.  After 6 months of keeping that list price as it is, I've come to the decision that I should lower the price.  I hope that lower price brings me increased sales.

So, as of June, 2012 the price will drop by 3 dollars.  (Updated: the price is now $8.50 on Amazon.)


I believe this will encourage a few more people to try out the book (as in purchase In Search of the Lost Ones) because for some reason I believe that a book's price creates a mind barrier.  For an older book, the paperback is more expensive and it is in a niche market.  I wondered about this when I noticed that people are more likely to go into a bookstore and buy a ten dollar book than one that is priced at fifteen dollars. It's five dollars more, but if you are looking to add a ten dollar item to a shipping cart to have a free shipping deal, this is where everything makes a difference.

Publishing a book is one thing, making sure that consistent sales continue is another. All books have a cycle in which they will have readers who will buy a copy of a book. It's also important to think about promotion. For many people who buy books online, considering the purchase of an additional book means that they don't need to pay for shipping. 

This also means that I have a chance to reach a larger audience.  I noticed this with the Kindle edition sale, that while I didn't sell any e-books during that time, I found that after the sale people did buy the e-book.  Keeping that in mind, I was more than ready to listen to the suggestion of dropping the list price even for a month. After all, the more people read about Transylvania, the more they will learn and enjoy, and perhaps they will go and see this lovely place!

I look forward to seeing what happens in June. 


I suspect that at some point an author has to ask herself if her book needs more "eyeballs" on it and how she can do that.  I will say this: I am not giving up on my book, but rather I am trying by every means possible to get readers for my book. I look forward to this challenge.

At the moment I believe it is a good idea, and we shall see how it helps with sales.

May 26, 2012

Vlad II: Father of Vlad The Impaler

Vlad the Impaler did have a father. While we spend much of our focus learning about a man who ruled Wallachia and was born in Transylvania, there are fewer people who know that his father was equally as "mean."


Vlad II was known as Dracul because he was a member of the House of Draculesti.  However, he sent two of his sons to the Ottoman Empire.  He also had an ongoing dispute with John Hunyadi -- this dispute eventually led to his death.

His son followed in his footsteps, trying to maintain his throne, fighting both the Hungarians and the Ottomans. Vlad Tepes III was eventually killed, like his father.

May 22, 2012

The Short History of Vlad Dracula

Transylvania is full of history; it has been ruled by many Empires and it was also once a Princedom, a collection of Principalities, and Kingdoms. 

The Dacian Empire was the first of them, and the last was the Kingdom of Romania.  Transylvania is now a part of the country of Romania, which is a semi-republic that has both a president and a prime minister.

However the one history that is not often mentioned is that of Vlad Dracula- a Prince of Wallachia.  The reason for this is because he is a mixture of both myth and history.  There were several princes of Wallachia who went by the name of Vlad. One was Vlad Tepes II and the other was Vlad Tepes III. Over the many years, there were many deaths in the family.  Vlad Tepes II was killed, and so was his son.

Before Vlad II's death he had joined the Order of the Dragon, and was later known as Vlad Tepes Dracul.  His son carried on this name.  Not only that, but the name of the house they belonged to was Draculesti.  It faced constant rivalry with another branch in Wallachia.

Transylvania was the birthplace of Vlad Tepes III Dracula, (at this time it was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary) and it was there where he eventually some of his famous methods to kill those who opposed him.

The Germans did not like him as he was the one who would attack them in their city of Brasov.  They viewed him quite negatively, and Tepes, as a warlord never quite recovered from this bad press.

May 19, 2012

Does Publishing a Book On Transylvania Mean Sales?


If you were to write a book about Transylvania or the people who lived there, would this mean you would make sales?



Possibly.  But the reality is probably not because it is such a niche market.  There are many who have self-published small books, but if its not on travel or on Dracula (not the person, rather Count Dracula...) then chances are there will be few sales.

Does it mean you need to publish your book even if you might not get many sales, or earn a lot of income? My belief is that we need to write about Transylvania and Romania.  There are a lot of  folk stories and myths about the area's history, and some of them are based in fact. They are also based on real people, and many can be traced to who originally lived and died in the area.

I think it would be wonderful to have the chance to publish a best seller about Transylvania; not one which is a fictional novel.  For example, when I sell my book (which is a history book about the Second World War) many people ask if Dracula in it.  Romania was not a country when Vald Tepes was alive, (he was a prince of Wallachia) it wasn't even thought of.  The people of Romania, as a country are very young, only gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire much later.

Bram Stoker started the Gothic craze, but a bestseller on this will be harder to find and re-create.

My answer to them is, No, sorry please see Bram Stoker.

Publishing a book about Transylvania and its people might mean some sales, but it also means a lot of hard work.


There are some excellent books about Transylvania out there.  It is important that people seek them out and read them.

May 15, 2012

In Search of the Lost Ones On Sale

The Kindle Edition of In Search of The Lost Ones will be on sales for $1.99 US.  The same sale will be in effect for the other Kindle edition you can purchase on the other Amazon sites.

I'm excited to see what this sale will do.  This is a pretty interesting experiment, but I am willing to see how it goes.  Publishing a history book about Transylvania and receiving reviews is always interesting!  My problem is that it is all about the Second World War, and not about Dracula; it is niche market really.

The Transylvanian Saxons are an important and rich part of the heritage of Romania- and by way of having been there for centuries as a group and culture of Hungary as well.

This does mean I have to price all of the sites at a lower price, such as Amazon.de, or Amazon.co.uk, but if there are more sales generated other Amazon websites, then I am more than happy to go for it. ( I also believe amazon Italy and France offer the book for sale.)

What I am hoping for is more readers, more people who are interested in the lives and the culture of the men who lived during a time of upheaval in Europe.  What makes them unique is that while each person started life much the same- in the interviews this is stated as much the people are still important and vital, and changed because of the Second World War.

This is one way to see how well people think of In Search of the Lost Ones.  These men and their lives should not be lost nor should they be tossed aside because of the fact that they were farmers or not as "interesting" simply because of this.  The paperback sales are steady, but this is something that will not only help me improve my writing, but will allow me find out what it takes to sell more books.

May 12, 2012

Bathory Castle and The Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory is one of the world's least known killers.  Over the course of many years it is estimated she killed over 600 young girls.  She did this to be eternally young.  She felt that by using their blood she would be beautiful and never grow old. (See 100 Tyrants for more information)



After the news of her murders came out -- and this was only after she began to kill young noblewomen -- she was walled up in her castle.  Later this castle fell into ruin, and it has not been restored.  It is located in a park with many endangered plants growing around it. It is now found in Slovakia.



This story has also been made into a book in more recent years, Dracula the Undead, and Bathory is one of the main characters.  However, as many have said, it is not as good as the original book Dracula. (this is my view as well.)

May 8, 2012

Ideas For Writing a Book on Transylvania

I think "know your audience" applies when you are writing a book in a niche market.  Not as many people will buy a book about Transylvania, but it is a subjet that interests people. 

I have a few ideas regarding writing a book about Transylvania:

1) Do not write about Dracula, or anything Dracula related.  If you do, make sure it is very well written and follows a different line than many of the more recently published books.  I am sure that most people have seen a lot of novels that authors have written that are set in Transylvania.  These are often well written, and many have been published but I don't believe they give readers a good idea of the real Transylvania.



2) Writing about the people of Transylvania is a good start.  There are plenty of smaller groups who came from Transylvania:  The German Saxons, Jews, Hungarians, Romanians, and that is just the beginning of the list of people who lived in the area.  You could also write about the castles or the economy of an Eastern European country such as Romania.



3) History books with a focus on Transylvania can also sell well.  My own book is out on Kindle, but it is available at some bookstores and is selling equally well there.  Of course, Kindle is a good start and many people are willing to buy a history book when it is priced well.



4) Photography books:  These sell well too, and Transylvania is certainly a place where you can take some impressive photos.

Writing about Romania, is very different since you can earn more money with them.  Again it also depends on the type of book you publish.  A small self-published book will sell well, provided you are known by the people you are writing for.

There are many more ideas for writing a book on Transylvania, but these four are the best.

May 6, 2012

Is Gold A Natural Resource Found in Transylvania, Romania

Natural resources and gold play an important role in the growth of many Empires and Kingdoms. It is also very important to the history of Transylvania.  The geographic area where Transylvania is located has many mountains.  These mountains have a lot of natural resources.  Some have iron ore deposits and many have other minerals in them, and these are mined for use by the many industries in the area.  Beyond the other important resources of water and oil there are others.

One of those resources is gold.  There is gold in the mountains in Transylvania, the most famous being close to the Romanian city of Alba Iulia.  This is written about in great detail in A Concise History of Romania (Cambridge Concise Histories)  part of what made it important was this allowed for more 'items of value' to the people of Rome.  Gold was very important to many of the people in Europe, and because of this, the mines of Transylvania were of primary importance to many Empires and Kingdoms.

The Romans wanted the gold from Transylvania for themselves, and one of the most famous cities they founded in order to get it was Alba Iulia- which they named Apulum (also known by the Dacians as Apoulon).  Gold, and the need for it became the cause of conflict between them and the Dacian Kingdom.  The other reason was for the expansion Eastward of the Roman Empire.  The Dacians proved formidable opponents because of the availibility of the many natural resources in Transylvania.

Later, Queen Marie of Romania used gold from Transylvania to create her coronation crown.  In 1922, in the city of Alba Iulia, she and King Ferdinand would be crowned King and Queen of Greater Romania.  This coronation crown was made of gold from the mines of Transylvania.  She would be the only queen who would be crowned as Queen Consort of Greater Romania (her daughter-in-law was Queen Mother Helen, and her granddaughter is Queen Anne of Romania.)

May 3, 2012

On Reviews and Reviewing a Book on Transylvania: In Search of the Lost Ones

It is easy to get people to buy your book, however to get them to review your book is a different matter. 

It is not as easy to get them to review a book especially if this book happens to be in a niche market such as a history of Transylvania.  Having my book in a niche market has made getting reviews a bit more of a challenge.

Most people like to read a good book, and I've had a number of people comment that they like the book.  I think for them to sit in front of a computer screen and comment is a more daunting task.  This might because this is the first time they will be reviewing a book, or because they are not as confident about their knowledge of the history of Transylvania.  This is a challenge for me to deal with especially since many people aren't sure where Transylvania is!

I've even told people on several writing sites, that if they would like to review it, I'm more than happy to send a copy - either a pdf or a paperback.


Some people want to know, where should they put the review? 

I am a bit divided. I'd love to have a review on amazon.com or amazon.ca or on whichever amazon site you're willing to review it, but a review on a blog with a link to the book on amazon is also okay with me. (You can email me or, if you really want to, you can take a look at the reviews on amazon.com here.)

As for giving out free books: I am all for the idea, if it I can draw more readers, and if that generates more reviews.  I am against the idea that you sell a book to someone who agrees to review it. Simply give the person a free copy of the book and ask him or her to review it.  I found most people are more than grateful to get a free book.  If the Kindle edition price is low, I will often buy a book to read it, and will also put a badge on it as a Amazon verified purchase.

I think that having both a paperback and a Kindle edition of 'In Search of the Lost Ones' is both a benefit and a challenge for me. Either way the important thing is that even though I have sold enough books to get paid for my Kindle sales, I've only received three reviews.  Still it's a good step.  People can like a review, which helps me in the long term.  I only hope that they don't think that my book is a work of fiction like Dracula.

Is writing reviews in a niche market easy?  Not really, but it is rewarding for both the writer and the reader.  It also helps sales of your own book in the long term.