After a bad week, I seriously doubted if Blood Magick would be up by my target date of June 1.
But thanks to DH and some elbow grease, Blood Magick is not only officially uploaded, it's uploaded early! Blood Magick is on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords for $2.99. It's also available at XinXii for $3.12 (the VAT is included).
I had a blast writing this book, and I hope you'll check it out. Drop by on Wednesday, June 1, for a fabulous new contest!
It’s not the family you’re born to. It’s the Family you join.
Caesar Augustine has survived on it for millennia, but his friend Natasha believed she was close to a cure for vampirism. When she dies and her lab notes disappear, Caesar’s only chance to walk in sunlight again is finding her granddaughter Bebe, the one witch Natasha would trust with her research. But getting Bebe to trust him is another matter altogether.
Dr. Bebe Zachary has feared and mistrusted vampires for seventeen years, since the night she witnessed two of the bloodsuckers brutally murder her parents. When Caesar Augustine comes to her with an insane story that her grandmother’s death was no accident, the last thing she wants to do is believe him. Except her cousins have challenged Bebe for leadership of their coven, somebody definitely wants her dead too, and Caesar is the only the person standing between her and the grave.
Currently reading - Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)
It's about 1AM as I write this. I wish I was joking about the water main thing, but no. The MUD (Municiple Utility District for those outside of Texas) trucks are right outside our window. The major break seemed to be in the neighbor's yard across the street, but water started bubbling up through the concrete in the middle of the street. So yes, they are now digging in the street.
It's capper on a really bad week. I found out that it wasn't a wasp that stung DH. They were what my grandparents referred to as red devil hornets. I was mowing Tuesday when they swarmed out of one of the gutter downspouts. I didn't get stung thanks to an extra-large can of Raid, but the lone survivor stalked me through the yard the rest of the morning. Raid makes an excellent anti-aircraft weapon by the way. Ironically, the lack of rain is the reason for the water main break and the hornets choice of residence.
I'm already stressing about getting all of GK's tests done by the end of the week, not to mention getting the promo I've lined up for Blood Magick done before June 1.
DH went above the husbandly call of duty when we discovered we couln't use the cover I'd commissioned. Goddess, I love that man! We quickly brainstormed, and I raced around the city collecting items for a photo shoot. He shot a bunch of pictures for me. Now, I'm scrambling to edit them into something semi-usable before Wednesday.
But of course, it's my turn to work the holiday weekend. And the customers were exceptionally. . .weird tonight at the Day Job. Yes, I'm talking about you, Gourmet Tuna Lady! Please, Anubis, don't let that trend continue, or I swear I will fucking take someone out.
Currently reading - Vamipre Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)
For those of you thinking about indie-publishing your work, I going to be perfectly honest about my sales numbers so far for Seasons of Magick: Spring.
Live on Amazon April 29th: 19
Live on Barnes & Noble May 9th: 3
Live on Smashwords May 11th: 3
The two reasons I've sold 25 copies so far is (1) it's cheap, only $0.99, and (2) it's erotica. Remember, I've done virtually no promotion for this novella. I've posted each time the book went live on a e-tail site, and I've tweeted each time. That's it. That's all I did. My friends took up the slack and have promoted the hell out of the novella (for which I'm eternally grateful, guys!). So all in all, I'm rather pleased with the sales. But that also doesn't mean I can continue sitting around and doing nothing.
First of all, I plan to release at least three novels this year (and possible a fourth depending on my time). I also plan on releasing at least three more short stories (and again, possibly a fourth depending on time). I'm already well into scheduling releases for 2012. From my research, your best bet for success as an indie is to have as much quality product available as you can manage.
Second of all, some heavy duty promotion is planned including contests, blog tours and begging for reviews sending out copies for review.
While I'm more than willing to share what works for me in this strange new world, don't take it as gospel. Your mileage may vary.
Even though I promised DH I wouldn't bid on anything this year, I still want to plug a terrific cause. ( To understand why I'm not allowed to bid, go read my guest post on Killer Fiction.)
Author Brenda Novak sponsors a massive auction every year to raise money to fight diabetes. Lots of folks donate lots of cool prizes--from tropical vacations to manuscript reads by agents or editors. And the money goes to a worthy cause.
So go visit Brenda Novak's auction and bid on an item or two. Just don't bid on 300 like I did last year. The auction ends on May 31st.
Currently reading - Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)
Okay, okay, I got the hint, people. My monthly status update is overdue.
Just in case you haven't visited the blog lately, the first novella in my paranormal erotic romance series, Seasons of Magick: Spring is currently available Amazon (including Amazon UK and Amazon Germany), Barnes & Noble and Smashwords for only $0.99. I'm currently working on getting it up for sale on the German e-tailer, XinXii.
I'm also hard at work on the next book, Seasons of Magick: Summer. The plan is for this story to go live on July 25th.
I spoke with my cover artist, Mandy Wolber, and I should have the cover art for Blood Magick by the middle of next week. And believe me, once I have it, I'll be sharing. Therefore, I'm on schedule for it to be on sale by June 1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords for $2.99. (That's assuming I don't make anymore trips to the ER. DH battled a wasp this week. The wasp won.)
Blood Magick is the first book in urban fantasy series, Bloodlines. I plan to release the next books, Zombie Love and Zombie Wedding on July 1st and August 1st respectively.
For the summer releases, I'm working on some cool contests and a blog tour. I'll let ya'll know the details soon.
[Editor's Note: This was the post that would have been last Friday's if Blogger had been functional. A good thing this was delayed because a few other things have come to light.]
Currently reading - Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (HC)
If you haven't read this article at paidContent.org, go read it now. (Link is courtesy of the lovely Stacey Purcell of Musetracks.) At the World E-Reading Congress in London this week, Harper-Collins CEO Victoria Barnsley actually admitted ON THE RECORD that indie publishers were "stiff competition."
Wow. Maybe H-C will revise its policies toward writers in future contracts. Maybe my beagle will learn how to fly an Apache helicopter too.
In other news, Amazon has opened its own romance imprint, Montlake Romance. Longtime romance staple Connie Brockway is their debut author. And yes, Victoria Barnsley is as worried about Amazon as she is about us indies.
Kobo has dropped the price of its e-reader to $99. It's supposed to be temorary Spring sale, but I suspect it may launch another round of e-reader price wars.
And one of my favorite authors, Charlaine Harris joins romance vetern Nora Roberts in the Kindle Million Books Sold Club.
What was that again about e-books being a publishing dead-end?
If you want to try indie publishing and you're just scared about doing everything yourself, you're not alone. E-mail me if you have questions. I'll be happy to help. And if I don't know the answers, I'll help you find someone who does.
[Edit to add: Barnes & Noble made a preliminary announcement after the NY markets closed that Liberty Media has an offer on the table of $17 per share. Supposedly, one of Liberty Media's buy-out conditions is that founding chairman Leonard Riggio stays with B&N. The offer contingent on an evaluation of a special committee of the B&N board.]
There's a fine, a very teeny, tiny one-atom thick, line between making your presence known and becoming a spam slut. I definitely want to avoid being known as a spam slut, but I also want to let people know I've got a book for sale.
What's worked for Seasons of Magick: Spring? Quite simply word-of-mouth. I announced on my blog each time the novella went live on a particular retailer. I tweeted each time the novella went live on a particular retailer. I guest-blogged over at Joan Reeves' Slingwords. So that's a total of seven things I personally did. That's all I did over the last three weeks since the initial release.
Then people started spreading the word on Twitter. Some are crit partners like @Faye Hughes. Others are total strangers like @Indie Elf. Other folks added Wild, Wicked & Wacky to their list of must-read blogs. Entertainment bots looking for keywords picked my book up and featured it. Business bots pointed to several of my business-related blog posts.
As I've said before, there's no sure-fire marketing method that works for everyone. You may need to experiment.
Nor am I relying solely on word-of-mouth for Blood Magick. It's the first book in Bloodlines, my urban fantasy series, so I'll do what I can to make sure it gets off to a good start. I'm already scheduling my blog tour, I've got my list of reviewers ready to go, and I'm planning some cool summer contests for this blog.
I asked Melissa Ohnoutka, author of Faithful Deceptions, to share her post-publishing experience with us. So without further ado, here's Melissa:
So you finally did it. You made the difficult decision to step into the publishing ring alone. You’ve done your research, crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s. Trudged your way through the icky swamps of formatting hell and designing your very own cover. Or maybe you spared yourself the added stress and frustration and found someone else to do the dirty work for you. Whatever path you took, the result is still the same. You took that risk and so far, you’ve survived.
But now what? Do you find yourself sitting in front of your computer, the doubt monster screaming so loud in your ears you can’t get anything done?
“Why did you do that? What were you thinking? No one’s gonna buy your book.”
I don’t know what’s worse. Actually pushing the darn submit button that sends your baby out into the world for the masses to see, or the nagging doubt that comes afterward.
I can tell you what not to do. Don’t panic! Everything will be just fine. Take slow breathes, step away from the computer for a few days and give yourself a pat on the back. What you’ve done was no easy decision or task.
And the truth is, what comes next will require more energy, perseverance and determination than you ever imagined. Let’s face it. For me, I now consider the marketing part trickier than writing the book. I have absolutely no experience in marketing. Commercials on TV and the radio drive me bonkers. I don’t listen to them or watch them and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So, how do you get your book noticed without becoming one of those annoying 30 second blips of mere interruptions in people’s lives? You can spend a fortune on advertisements and never know if the ones you used worked at all.
Here’s my take on what I’ve learned so far. We need to be subtle but relentless. Building online relationships is a big key here. Word of mouth sells better than any other form of marketing strategy. But in the beginning, when few people know who we are and what we write, we are required to do everything possible just to get noticed. Again, we can’t sell what they can’t find.
What has worked for me? If you blog, use keywords in your blog post and your guest blog post that get your name out there in the search engines. Join groups where readers go to chat about books and participate in the conversations. Be friendly, supportive and willing to share. Load your cover as your profile picture or include links to your books or website in your signature, but don’t plug your new releases anywhere but the specific areas designated for this. People can be downright ugly about it if you break the rules. Trust me, you don’t want to go there.
Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as well as other social media sites like the ones I’ve found that have something in common with the genre you write. For example, if you write thrillers and suspense sign up for Crimespace and Policepluse. Search the Internet, you’ll be surprised what you find. There are numerous Review sites that will do book reviews both for free and for a fee as well as interviews with new authors.
Get your books in as many formats as possible. Why? First, we don’t want to miss a sale simply because it’s not available in a format the reader needs. And second, it’s just means more exposure for your book. I agree that print copies are pretty pricey for readers to take a chance on a new author, but having one available means your book is listed in places e-books might not be. And the cost to set one up is minimal. I’ve also had postcards printed up with my cover, book blurb, website and sales info to hand out when my book comes up in conversation. This is working quite well.
Your family can be great marketing tools as well. To my horror, my daughter visited the Sony store in our local mall the last time we were there and pulled up my website on the computers and then left. The mere idea someone might recognize me from the picture freaked me out. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Silly, I know. :)
I tell myself constantly, EVERY opportunity to be seen is chance for a future sale. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. This one is so hard for me. I personally hate to be seen! LOL
Great links on Self Publishing, Promo and Marketing:
Will Graham is the pseudonym of a Houston private investigator who specializes in computer forsenics. In the past, he's sold everything from TV scripts to humorous paranormal, but now he's srriking out on his own with the terrific suspense novel Street Heat. (Like he doesn't have the coolest job in the world anyway.) Street Heat is available through Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble
A former detective in San Francisco confronts the serial killer who got away.... and the woman who broke his heart.
In 1985, Peterson Chace was the lead investigator for the Moonstone Murderer Case, a serial killer that held San Francisco in a grip of terror. Moonstone eluded capture and escaped justice in a brutal confrontation on the Golden Gate Bridge, leading Chace into a breakdown and forcing his resignation from the police department.
Three years later, with a new career as a mystery novelist, Chace is drawn back in to the world he left when Moonstone reappears, slaughtering seemingly random victims and holding the city in a grip of fear. As the case progresses, Chace finds himself dealing with Mayor Sarah Westin, an ADA in the original case, and the one woman in his life Chace finds haunting his memory.
In a shattering climax deep in downtown San Francisco, Chace confronts his demons once and for all, and learns that sometimes, the second chance is the one that counts....
Currently reading - Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (HC)
When I did a series on avaible e-distributors for self-publishing back in February (see Part 1. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 for more information), I included quite a few companies.
As I said in my series, I narrowed my choices down to Amazon's KDP program, Barnes & Noble's PubIt! program and Smashwords. At the time, Amazon and Barnes & Noble had the most extensive reach. I choose Smashwords for the flexibility of creating coupons, which the other two programs still do not offer.
Since I wrote that series (remember, this is only three months ago), the following has happened:
-Amazon has extended its reach to Germany.
- Barnes & Noble has changed its royalty percentage for books below $2.99 and above $9.99 to 40%.
XinXii is a German company founded in 2008, and of course, they are looking to capitalize on growing e-book sales. E-books don't have the market share in Europe that they currently have in the U.S. But the folks at XinXii foresee the increase of e-book sales just like here, so they got their English version up and running approximately eight months before Amazon opened their German website.
XinXii is attempting to out-Amazon Amazon by offering a 70% royalty rate on e-books priced over $2.49 and a 40% rate on e-books priced between $0.99 and $2.48.
The great thing is they are willing to pay authors in U.S. dollars, so you don't have to worry about the cost of exchange. And according to XinXii's CEO, Dr. Andrea Schober, they are actively seeking English-language books. For more information, check out their website, or see Joan Reeves' analysis from March.
Frankly, I plan to try out XinXii. Hey, sales are sales, right?
For the record, the information in that post was accurate at the time it was written. But the subsequent changes in less than three months shows just how fast the publishing industry is morphing.
Barnes & Noble no longer requires ISBNs for e-books published through PubIt!, their indie e-book branch. They are now emulating Amazon and using an internal cataloguing system.
On the other hand, Smashwords only requires an ISBN (whether you purchase one of theirs or provide your own) if you want your e-book included in their premium catalog. The premium catalog is how Smashwords distributes to Apple, Sony, etc.
Furthermore, I've yet to find any penalty to a producer or a retailer for failing to use an ISBN. If someone has knowledge to the contrary, please say so in the comments section.
It makes sense for retailers to not need an ISBN if they're selling directly to the consumer. The whole purpose of the ISBN and its matching bar code was to make tracking distribution and sales through multiple outlets easier, but it was relatively expensive if you're not a Big 6 publisher. For the most part, the wholesale distributor has been cut out of the new e-book sales model. Smashwords is one of the few exceptions, but only because Apple is desperately clinging to the old model. (Which frankly makes no sense to me. There are ways to scan content before loading a file into their sale area if they're that paranoid about viruses, trojans, worms, etc.)
So we're to the point where you only need an ISBN if you go through the equivalent of a wholesale distributor (whether electronic or print). Personally, I think that's wonderful because it saves me some dough and keeps costs down for my readers.
If you've been working on a manuscript since, well, forever, you might have invisible characters that even Word's 'Show' command won't reveal. Stuff like Courier fonts between Times New Roman fonts. This can really eff up your formatting when you go to convert your file.
Rick Daley gave me this easy tip a couple of years ago--copy the file to MS Notepad. Save as a TXT file. Open the TXT, and save as a DOC file again. This strips out all formatting. Honestly, sometimes it's just easier to start from scratch rather than beat your head against the wall. Lot less Band-aids too.
[Edit to add: I wrote this post last night before I started working on my SmashWords formatting. In his instructions, Mark Coker also refers to this method. His nickname for using Notepad? The nuclear method.]
Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (MMPB)
My Mother's Day present was a trip to the local cineplex to see Thor. OMFGoddess! Kenneth Branaugh hit all the right notes. If you don't know a damn thing about Marvel's version of the Norse god of thunder, STOP READING! Go see it! NOW! (Especially if you're a hetero gal or a gay guy. Delicious eye candy, people!)
I'm glad to see Chris Hemsworth in a starring role. The man had charisma out the wazoo in Star Trek (2009) as George Kirk, and any doubts about him pulling off Thor are officially laid to rest.
Never had any doubts about Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston played the Lord of Lies to perfection.
Frankly, I'm glad they skipped the whole Donald Blake, M.D., crap as part of the origin story. It never really worked in the comic, which is why Marvel writers quickly abandoned it early in Thor's comic run. The movie writers did give an appropriate nod to the history. Of course, the shirtless scene made the nod even funnier.
Updating Natalie Portman's Jane Foster from a nurse to a physicist gave more oomph to the character.
Others may find the casting of Idris Elba as the far-seeing Heimdall controversial, but Brannaugh definitely made the right choice. The rest of the cast members caught the personalities of Sif and the Warriors Three. My only real disappointment was that Rene Russo didn't get enough screen time as Frigga.
The plot was fairly simplistic--Thor gets kicked out of Asgard for acting stupid, saves Midgard from killer Asgardian robot and stops Loki from stealing the throne of Asgard. Nothing really new as far as story goes, but the personalites and visuals kept the audience distracted for the whole two hours.
Watch for Stan Lee as a good ole' boy pick-up truck driver. And make sure you stay until the end of the credits for Sam Jackson's requisite Col. Fury cameo.
Oh, and keep an eye out for an Avenger cameo. He's not one of the original four from the comics version of the Avengers. The first person to name him in the comments will get a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card.
I heard through the grapevine that Mary Robinette Kowal may be looking for a female pencil-neck little weasel to breed with her male pencil-necked little weasel named Neil. Please contact Mary on her blog if you have an available female.
I met A.J. Church three years ago through an interesting website called Crit Partner Match. (Think of it as eHarmony for writers.) Life stuff got in the way, and A.J. stepped back from writing for a year. Even though we no longer critique partners, we kept in touch. Now, I happy to say she's back with a fun, funky novel about an accidental serial killer.
If you like quirky, black humor like Dexter or Pulp Fiction, then you need to check out Being John Bland.
John Bland didn't set out to become the world's most prolific accidental serial killer. He just wanted to prove he was smarter than the average person by committing the perfect crime. But when Fate turns his brilliantly conceived Master Plan into an unlikely family reunion, John has no choice but to follow his twisted genetic code. Now with bodies accidentally dropping around him like flies, a suspicious best friend with the disposition of a lemon, and two of Tampa's finest breathing down his neck, he has all he can handle just to keep his story straight. As if things weren't bad enough, John's getting professional advice from a notorious surfing bar-brawl killer, the ghost of a heart-stealing, rotgut-swilling cowboy, and a girlfriend who makes celery look intelligent. It's starting to look like being average may be the best thing John has going for him.
Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordin
The following is my experience, and my experience only. Your mileage may vary.
When formatting for the Kindle I followed the instructions on the KDP formatting checklist. I also followed the instructions from Nina Cordoba. Now, please understand that I highly recommend Nina's tips for preparing the Word file. But I ran into a few quirks.
I won't list all the weirdness, but suffice it to say, my book didn't look good. Not good at all. I wasn't sure, but I suspected that the instructions may have been geared toward the Windows 7 version of Word. And of course, I'm still on Windows XP.
So I experimented a little. Despite KDP's recommendation to save the HTML in filtered mode, I tried saving my Word file in unfiltered mode. Better but still not quite right.
Time for more experimentation. Instead of using MobiPocket (another recommendation from KDP), I used Calibre. Calibre is freeware, but I highly recommend donating to the folks who created it. It is so worth it!
Now my book looked damn-near perfect, except. . .
Yeah, there's always an 'except,' isn't there?
The last quirk I ran into? For some reason, mutilpe-word proper place names got squished together. 'Greenwich Village' became 'GreenwichVillage.' 'Golden Gate Park' became 'GoldenGatePark.'
It didn't happen all the time, and it was only proper places that it happened to. The only way I could fix it was to go back into the original Word document and place an extra space between the words that got crammed before converting. But hey, it worked, and the result was beautiful!
I don't know how many of you have followed the bou-ha-ha over a news report about erotic romance writer Judy Mays. Apparently, a parent with an ax to grind and a reporter who slept through her journalistic ethics classes decided to trash the reputation of a well-respected English teacher.
I won't link to the actual report because frankly, I think it was slanderous.
But this video by a former student of Judy's sums up my feelings nicely:
Wow! I can't believe I finally have something I wrote for sale. It's only taken three months between business analysis, research, editing and figuring out the vagaries for formatting. But I also took my time because I wanted to do this right. Or as right as I possibly could.
Anyway, no fancy introductions. It's available at Amazon for only $0.99. For the Nook fanatics, it'll be up on Barnes and Noble sometime later this week.
Welcome to Morrigan’s Cauldron! But be careful what you ask for because this little Greenwich Village shop can deliver your heart’s desire. Or your greatest nightmare.
Tessa McClain's life has spun out of control. Thanks to her con artist ex, she's lost her job, her money and her reputation. Desperate, she talks her way into job at a local New Age shop. There's just one problem—Adrian Holloway, the hunky store manager. The last thing she needs is another bad boy in her life. But her body hungers to break her brain’s ‘no men’ rule.
After the death of his wife, Adrian abandoned his Wall Street world and found peace in the quirky Greenwich shop, Morrigan’s Cauldron. Or he did until an April wind blew smart-mouthed Tessa McClain through the front door. While he’s ready to take another crack at love, convincing Tessa may be more trouble than he bargained.
[Edit to add: Serious *facepalm* here. Seasons of Magick: Spring will be up on Smashwords as well later this week. I meant to say that in the original post.
I am not shooting for the Smashwords Premium catalog though (which allows distribution to other e-tailers like Kobo) until after all four stories have been released. At that point, I'll bundle them for distribution through other channels and available in print through CreateSpace. It's all a matter of managing time and resources.]
According to the United State Federal Trade Commission regulations, I am required to notify you that may have a financial interest in the all products mentioned on this website.
According to Amazon Affiliates Terms & Conditions, I am required to inform you that I, or other affiliates, may receive advertising revenue from Amazon when you click on an Amazon link and purchase an item from Amazon.
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