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Topics - Robert Dahlen

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1
So this story was all the rage yesterday. http://variety.com/2016/film/news/divergent-series-ascendant-1201818694/ Lionsgate, the studio that was producing the film adaptations of the Divergent books, is planning to change the last movie in the series into a TV movie with an eye towards launching a series, after the third movie tanked earlier this year. (The report adds it's not certain if the actors from the three films would return to play the same parts in the finale.)

My question is: Is this just due to the last Divergent movie apparently not being that good (I haven't seen any of them; I'm just going by general opinion)...or is there a slowdown on interest in dystopian fiction in general? Does this indicate that the market might be softening in the near future?

(NOTE: I don't read, write or watch dystopian media...but I know a lot of folks here do, so I was curious about what they think.)

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Writers' Cafe / POV switch between series in same setting
« on: June 07, 2016, 04:58:09 pm »
While working on the sixth book in my current series, I came up with a new character who I think has spinoff potential. I've already started batting around plot ideas for a trilogy with him as the main character. I've noticed that he tends to run on a bit...OK, a lot...and it seems to me this series really needs to be written in the first person, from his POV. However, the Monkey Queen series is in third person. Does this cause confusion, if an author puts out two series in the same general setting with different POVs for each? Has anyone done this? Am I overthinking things again? All input appreciated. Thanks!

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Writers' Cafe / CAPS LOCK WEDNESDAY
« on: May 11, 2016, 02:36:33 pm »
SO I SOLD SOME BOOKS YESTERDAY ON AMAZON, AND I CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHERE ONE OF THEM WAS SOLD. I KEEP ADDING THE TOTAL SOLD ON THE DASHBOARD, AND THE TOTAL SOLD IN INDIVIDUAL MARKETS, AND THE INDIVIDUAL SUM KEEPS COMING UP ONE SHORT. AND I KNOW I SHOULDN'T LET THIS BOTHER ME AS THERE ARE A ZILLION DIFFERENT FORCES WORKING TO DESTROY THE EBOOK INDUSTRY, BUT ON THIS MATTER I'M SO OBSESSIVE THAT ADRIAN MONK LOOKS AT ME AND TELLS ME TO CHILL. AARRGGHH!! STOP TORTURING ME, AMAZON! TELL ME WHERE MY DANG BOOK SOLD! TELL MEEEEEEEEEE!

AND I FOUND A NEW BURGER PLACE, AND THE BURGER WAS DELICIOUS, BUT THE "JUICE" (READ: GREASE) LEAKED OUT OF THE CARDBOARD CONTAINER AND THE PAPER BAG, ALL OVER MY JEANS.

AND DISNEY INFINITY HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED, SO I'LL NEVER SEE A DARKWING DUCK OR KERMIT DISNEY INFINITY FIGURE.  :'(

BUT AT LEAST I'M WRITING 1000+ WORDS A DAY AGAIN. I MAY SOON HAVE A COMPLETED FIRST DRAFT AT THIS RATE.

4
I'm surprised no one else here has linked to this blog post from Chuck Wendig yet. It actually got to me a bit - I've fallen way off my writing pace the last 4-5 months, and I'm beginning to see that in my case, it was at least partly due to burnout. So, take a look. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/04/11/writers-when-in-doubt-wwyl/

(Be warned: There are many swears. I'm convinced that Chuck Wendig swears so that most of us don't have to. :D )

5
The Book Corner / Umberto Eco passes away
« on: February 19, 2016, 04:42:54 pm »
Author of The Name Of The Rose and many other books. Being reported by the BBC and other sources. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35620368

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Writers' Cafe / Stay in KU, or go back to wide? (YA LGBT Fantasy)
« on: February 15, 2016, 12:57:39 pm »
A few months back, I moved all four (at the time) Monkey Queen books into Kindle Unlimited, and launched the fifth in KU when it came out this past December. I was hoping to take advantage of their countdown deals and such, and also make it easier for me to do social media promotions for the series, since I could just link to my Author Central page. I landed a Bookbub in late December, and saw my page reads jump in January, but they've flatlined this month.

I'm thinking of going back to wide distribution, especially since the first four books can come out of KU as of March 3 and the fifth March 16. What I want to find out is whether books in my categories do better in KU or in wide distribution. (I'd be looking at just iTunes, Nook and Kobo, maybe some overseas stores. NO Google Play. I had no sales there before, and it's not worth jumping through all their hoops.)

The Monkey Queen series is adventure fantasy with humorous elements. It counts as YA, as the leads are college-age girls, and there's only mild swearing and no graphic violence. It's also LGBT, as the two leads fall for each other over the first four books and start slowly building a relationship in the fifth.

So, KBoarders who write in the above categories (especially LGBT fantasy): Are you showing good sales on iTunes, Nook and Kobo? Are you stronger in KU? Is there no difference? If I had to choose without data, I lean towards going back to wide (especially since I may consider making the first book permafree down the road), but I could use some input from you folks. Thanks as always.

7
I did forget to update my promo, didn't I? (For those who weren't following - 99 cents on the first Monkey Queen book.) It peaked late last Tuesday (12/8), when I hit 5 in LGBT Fantasy and 12,191 in the store. I did slip down pretty quick after that; Bargain Booksy and Books Butterfly both bombed for me. I did get some tail, a few sales on books 2-4 and KU page reads every day for over a week. (For me, this is good.)

But I did mention this in the first post about the promo: It was a simple plan - cut price to 99 cents US, go with the two new sites and the two that had done best for me before, line up the ads for the three days after Patty's ad, spike the rankings as high as I could get them (especially since I was now in LGBT categories), hope for a tail, run a new release promo for the new book to get some fresh readers, apply for a Bookbub in LGBT after I peaked.

I didn't expect it to work when I actually applied last Wednesday. The promo fizzled after two days, and ENT and Robin Reads rejected me. I was stuck at ten reviews. The fifth book wasn't ready in time. I was preparing to release the fifth book when it was ready, regroup in 2016 and hope for the best then.

Which is why I had to peel my jaw off the floor when I got the email on Monday.

Holy crap. I got a Bookbub. 12/26, 99 cents in LGBT.

Aside from celebrating, and planning to glue myself to my desk on the day after Christmas and wear out my mouse refreshing my KDP Dashboard page, what should I be doing to promote around this Bookbub? The two options I can think of are: Trying to find other promo sites for the first book that I didn't use last week (which are basically Robin Reads, ENT and a lot of small sites - I used Booksends, Fussy Librarian and Book Barbarian), or do a new release promo for the fifth book and hope there's some spillover. (That fifth book, Redblade, is now in the proofing process, which I will finish today!) But if I run any promos before the Bookbub, that'll be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and those may not get a lot of attention. Should I run them after the Bookbub? Let me know what you think, and fast - I'll need to get this arranged in a hurry.

And KBoards? All you hard-working, supportive, generous-with-advice indie authors? Thank you. Thanks for all the suggestions for promo sites. Thanks for encouraging me to add LGBT to my marketing, which led to me reworking my blurbs and keywords and getting in those key categories. Thanks for putting up with me. I'll be sure to update with my promo plans and results, as a small way of paying you back.

Holy crap. I got a Bookbub.

I think I'm going to cry...


8
Last month, I finally hit the 10-review mark for the first Monkey Queen book, which gave me access to two promo sites I really wanted to get into. With that, with Patty's promo, and with me expecting to release the fifth book at around the same time, I decided it was time to run another promo blitz. It was a simple plan - cut price to 99 cents US, go with the two new sites and the two that had done best for me before, line up the ads for the three days after Patty's ad, spike the rankings as high as I could get them (especially since I was now in LGBT categories), hope for a tail, run a new release promo for the new book to get some fresh readers, apply for a Bookbub in LGBT after I peaked.

Turns out this promo has been cursed more than a jaywalker in Manhattan traffic.

I was turned down by Robin Reads and ENT. Apparently, I wasn't the only with the "tie it in to Patty's promo" idea. :D I wound up going with more expensive alternatives. Willow the cover artist kept running into issues with getting the cover for the fifth book done, the last being a bout of sickness that took her out of action for two weeks, which meant that the book wouldn't be ready in time for the promo. And my bout with the flu took me out of action for the week right before the promo started.

So, here's the lineup:

12/3 - soft launch sale, mention on blog. Results: No sales (one read of the second book).

12/4 - Genre Pulse, fantasy, $40. Results: 1 reported sale, which came from Patty's promo page. Ranking as of midday: #272,773 paid in Kindle Store, #163 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Gay & Lesbian, #368 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy

12/5 - Patty's promo begins, free. Results: 3 sales. Ranking at lowest point, for most of day: #345,346 paid in Kindle Store, #202 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Gay & Lesbian, #484 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy

12/6 - Patty's promo continues. Results: 3 sales. Ranking as of c. 4:00 PM Pacific time: #38,789 paid in Kindle Store, #22 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Gay & Lesbian, #38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy (slipping a bit as I write this)

12/7 - Book Barbarian (fantasy) $15, Booksends (YA) $30. Results: 20 sales (and 8 page reads), plus one sale each on books two and three. Rankings had been slipping slightly throughout the day, but have started to climb: #26,308 paid in Kindle Store, #19 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Gay & Lesbian, #20 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy

12/8 - Fussy Librarian (YA, fantasy and LGBT), $22.50. Results: 9 sales and 375 page reads, plus one sale each of the other three books. Rankings: #12,191 paid in Kindle Store, #11 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Gay & Lesbian, #5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy

12/9 - Bargain Booksy (fantasy), $40

Still waiting for confirmation: BooksButterfly

Turned down by, as mentioned above: ENT, Robin Reads

Smaller sites: I'm saving those for the book five release. I've tried to make it new-reader friendly, so I think that catching people's eyes with it might work. So some of you might be hearing from me in the next week or so...

Anyway, I'll try to update this daily. Wish me luck?

9
Over the last year or so, I've published four books in the Monkey Queen fantasy series, featuring the adventures of Michiko and Beth, two young women who team up to help people and fight bad guys. I've been playing up the adventure and comedy aspects of the series when talking about it, while downplaying one theme that's been running through it.

I hadn't planned to write in a romance when I started the series. As time went on, though, and I got to know the characters better, I realized how the overall story arc wanted to go, and I wound up going with it. And by the time the fourth book was over, the hints I had been planting as I went along, some without even realizing I had done so, all paid off...and Michiko and Beth finally realized and admitted that they cared for each other, and took the first steps towards starting a romantic relationship. (It's all sweet so far, BTW, not steamy or exploitative, and I expect it to stay that way.)

I'm not asking if this was the right thing to do. It's how the story wanted and needed to go, and I'm glad I decided to go there. And I've come around to being open about it, instead of it worrying about spoilers, especially since when the next book comes out (hopefully in November), the preview will give everything away anyway.

What I want to know is: How the heck do I market this?

I know there's a market for a fantasy series like this, with the leads being a lesbian* couple and a very low level of angst over them being in a same-sex relationship. (I have other types of angst to bring on for them anyway. :D ) I know there might even be a YA market for this. But how do I reach it? And keep people buying it for that reason reading past the first book, where Michiko and Beth's relationship is only hinted at, through the second and third where the hints get stronger, up until the payoff in the fourth and the continuing development in the fifth? I know I can stuff keywords like crazy, but what other options are there?

Should I try to promote the first book as LGBT fantasy, even though the romance doesn't blossom until later in the series? Should I try to land an LGBT Bookbub, instead of YA or fantasy? Should I do a box set/omnibus of the first four books, so that the whole story is there in one chunk, even if a box set would reduce my promo chances and increase the costs for what promos I can get? Maybe put up a short story on my web site that confirms that yes, Michiko and Beth are a couple? And how much flak will I get (even though I've been privately told it'll be minor at worst) about being a straight guy telling sweet clean romantic stories about a lesbian couple?

Frankly, the sales on these books aren't good, even though they've been getting good reviews. I want them to sell, so they'll get in the hands of people who will read and enjoy them (and so I can pay back my production costs). So with two exceptions -- I won't rewrite the books, and I won't change the cover art -- I'm open to any and all marketing suggestions at this point. Fire away, and thanks in advance for all your advice.

(And yes, I am aware of the irony of posting this on National Coming Out Day. ;D )

*Technically, Beth describes herself as being bisexual, and Michiko had never been in love until she met Beth. But for the purpose of this post, the term "lesbian relationship" works best for them.

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Writers' Cafe / [CRAFT] How best to place paragraph breaks?
« on: August 01, 2015, 09:08:02 pm »
WARNING: Spoilers for a book I'm hoping to publish this fall ahead!

I'm finishing up the final draft for the fifth Monkey Queen book, and I'm having trouble with one scene. I'm introducing a new character who's going to play a major role in the series. In this scene, she runs across ogres for the first time, and two of them are trying to beat information out of an unarmed, helpless gremlin. This leads to Abby's first real challenge, her first fight, and here's how the key moment goes:

(Abby) had to hold back another gasp, and push aside a surge of fear. Two gremlin guards were lying on the ground, breathing but unconscious. The gremlin she had seen was on his back in the dirt, and two ogres were looking down at him, their fists clenched. Abby had seen ogres, but only from a distance, and never ready for a fight like these were. "You gonna help us?" one ogre shouted at the gremlin. "Or do you want some more?"

Abby felt her hands shake. I--I can't do this, she thought. They're just too big. I...

She saw the ogre raising a fist, ready to pound the gremlin. He needs help, Abby thought. It's on me. I can't walk away from this. I can't.

Abby slowly and noisily drew her sword. "Hey, boys, you want to fight?" she said loudly, trying to cover her nervousness. "Just turn around."


I was thinking of keeping the paragraphs short, to play up how important a moment this to Abby. Would you leave this as it is, or would you compress this into two or three paragraphs? Where would you place the breaks?

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Writers' Cafe / weird KENP page read stats
« on: July 30, 2015, 03:21:07 pm »
So my KENP has been a bit odd lately. The day before yesterday, it showed 262 pages read, 242 of one book and 20 of another. The one book, the first, is 244 KENP pages, so while I'm guessing that the reader just skipped a couple of pages they could have read in the online preview, a small part of me is thinking, "They hate my book! They stopped reading just before the end! AAAAA!"

Then yesterday, there were 8 pages read, all in the same book. Now, it's probably someone who started reading and had to stop to go to bed or chase down a kid running with crayons or something, but that small part of me is thinking, "They hate my book! They read a few pages and couldn't read any more! AAAAA!"

And today, my KENP total: 1 page. One freaking page. At this point, that small part of me is thinking, "Who's messing with my head? AAAAA!"

Anyone else have any weird KENP stats? You know, just so I don't feel so...paranoid. :o

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Writers' Cafe / BookBub: When to apply for a YA spot?
« on: July 03, 2015, 02:11:36 pm »
So I finally took some time to reread the BookBub Q & A thread from a few months back, and I had a misconception corrected. I had thought that BookBub based their minimum length on word count, and that they needed 50,000 words. It turns out they base it on page count, and their minimum is 150 pages. My first Monkey Queen book is 40,000 words...and per the Amazon listing, 151 pages.

Holy crap, I'm eligible for BookBub!

I've always considered the Monkey Queen books to be fantasy, but a lot of people are seeing them as also being young adult and I won't argue the point. I'm considering another 99 cent sale in September, based on getting a BookBub ad. I noticed that the current rate for a 99 cent fantasy spot is $500, and for a 99 cent YA spot, $220. The fantasy return is greater, but it's a lot more money.

So, is YA effective for BookBub in general? If a book could fit in both categories, which one has the better ROI, including sales tails and carryover to later books in the series? Should I go moderately into debt for the YA slot (if accepted), or way into debt for the fantasy slot?

Any and all input is appreciated. Thanks.

(BookBub...holy crap. ;D )

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(Michiko?
Yes, Beth?
Isn't that a melodramatic thread title?
You know how writers are.
Good point. And sales are flat on our books.
How flat?
Put it this way: The ice cream Robert bought for us last week?
Yeah?
That was our June royalties to date.
Ow.)

I won't repeat the details here about how badly the Monkey Queen books are doing, but I recognize that at least part of it is due to not running any serious promo campaigns; I haven't done more than an ad or two since my February promo blitz. But I've got a website now (thanks again to Shei Darksbane for her help and encouragement!), I've got four books, I've switched to Kindle Unlimited, and I'm up to six reviews on Amazon for the first book with a 4.7 star average. It's time for a serious promo campaign, to see if it gets sales and interest rolling once and for all.

The first Monkey Queen book, Of Introductions And Abductions, gets marked down to 99 cents starting this weekend through at least July 15. We run ads through a baker's dozen different sites (no Bookbub, but I've lined up a few heavy hitters) to try to get sales, borrows and interest up, leading into Countdown deals on the next three books running through July. The goal is to get people talking about the books, signing up for the mailing list and all that, and hopefully making my investment back. Here's the lineup:

6/23: Ereader News Today (ENT) (standard bargain book promo, $20) Results: 32 sales, #8707 in Kindle store, #28 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/24 - 6/25: ReadCheaply (free) 6/24 results: 8 sales, #13,681 in Kindle store, #47 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/25: eBookHounds ("Diamond in the Ruff", $5) Results: 3 sales and 1 borrow, plus 1 sale of the fourth book, #23,481 in Kindle store, #86 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/26: Booktastik (basic package, $10) Results: No sales, #48,454 in Kindle store, #153 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/27 results: 2 sales, plus one sale of the second book. #45,101 in Kindle store, #146 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/28: Robin Reads ($15) Results: 14 sales, #17,978 in Kindle store, #67 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/29: Awesome Gang (featured book option, $10) Results: 3 sales and 2 borrows, plus 1 borrow of the second book. #22,514 in Kindle store, #82 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

6/30: GoodKindles (bronze level, $7.95)

6/30: SweetFreeBooks ($5) Results: 4 sales, plus 1 borrow of the second book. #37,903 in Kindle store, #132 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

7/1: BKnights (standard package plus newsletter, $15.75)

7/1: Get Books Daily (free) Results: No sales, #59,618 in Kindle store, #180 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

7/2: JustKindleBooks (with Twitter etc. add-on, $5) Results: 1 sale, plus 1 sale of the second book. #54,888 in Kindle store, #171 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

7/3: Booksends (basic package plus EreaderIQ newsletter, $35) Results: 22 sales, #16,134 in Kindle store, #54 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

7/4 results: 7 sales, plus one of the fourth book. #19,654 in Kindle store, #66 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

7/5 results: 2 sales, #33,795 in Kindle store, #108 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

7/6 results: 1 sale, plus one of the third book and four of the fourth. #58,746 in Kindle store, #188 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

Total cost: $128.70

I chose ENT for my anchor; it was important enough for me that I waited until I got a firm date from them before I lined up anything else. Since I wanted to wrap up the promos in time for the Countdown deals to kick in, and I have to wait until July 7 for that (you need 30 days in KU to be able to run Countdowns), I spread them out a little. I had originally wanted to run Robin Reads on 6/26, but they were booked and 6/28 was their first open day, so I went with it because I wanted to test them. I added eBookHounds to fill up the gap that caused, and then filled it out with smaller sites in the two days before the promo.

I will update as the promo proceeds. If this doesn't work, I may try another round (finances permitting) in October after the fifth book comes out, marketing to the YA market instead of the fantasy market. But I really hope it does. The Goodreads reviews and poor sales are a bit disheartening, but my Amazon rating indicates I may be doing something right, and I hope to find more readers who agree. Wish me luck!

(Michiko?
Yes, Beth?
Isn't Robert stealing this schtick from that one guy who ran his promo thread pretending to be a crab?
Shhhh!)

14
Writers' Cafe / moving to KDP - am I doing the right thing?
« on: June 05, 2015, 01:10:13 pm »
After looking at my sales figures, I've realized that I need to do something to get people's attention, get some downloads going. I've made a big decision...I'll be switching to KDP and pulling all my books out of other stores. It's not a decision I'm 100% happy with, but I put a lot of work and time into A Tiding Of Magpies, released it two weeks ago...and I've sold one copy so far. One copy.

I know I need to promote more, and it seems like KDP can help with that. Once I'm exclusive, I can try to get an ENT slot (still can't do Bookbub :( ) and tie that in to a 99-cent sale, then run countdown days for the other books, backing it up with 3-5 smaller promo sites. And plug the mailing list, to get people signing up and ready when the fifth book comes out. (I'd rather not run permafree unless the ad campaign runs, because I'm saving that for 2016 if I can.)

It may be a bit desperate, but here's the thing: Finances aren't tough for me, but they will be in 2016. My next Monkey Queen story is going to be a trilogy. And I don't want to run out of money to publish those books in the middle of the trilogy, because that wouldn't be fair to readers. So, I need to get the sales up to any sort of reasonable level, to help pay for the future books. If I can't, it may be the end of the Monkey Queen and my publishing career. And writing and publishing these stories has meant everything to me. People like them; even if my Goodreads rating is a mess, my Amazon is 4.75 stars for 4 reviews. But not enough people are buying them. I don't know if KDP can change that, but I need to find out, especially if being able to borrow the books gets some people off the fence to try them. But I'm nervous about whether or not I'm doing the right thing, so if anyone's done what I'm about to do, especially if they write fantasy or young adult, feel free to chime in.

No matter what, I'll keep writing. I went through years of drought, and I never want to do that again. I'll write these stories even if it's just me reading them. I just hope I can keep publishing them, and sharing them with the world.

15
Writers' Cafe / accomplishments, or why I really do this
« on: May 14, 2015, 08:25:00 pm »
I started a thread the other day that was, admittedly, a bit whiny, when I faced one of the low points of my writing career to date. I think it's only fair that I start one to discuss two of my high points.

I just got in the paperback proof copies for my fourth book. Like other writers here, there's something about holding a copy of the paperback that makes it real. It makes me think, I did it! I wrote a book! And very few things have ever made me happier. I could spend all night thanking people, but I'll settle for thanking KBoards, Harvey, Ann and Betsy, and hundreds of members past and present for their part in making these stories I tell possible. Thank you, one and all.



This second part will take some explanation, so here goes. (And I apologize to anyone who's read this elsewhere, but this is actually important to me.)

I've been a comics fan nearly all my life, and in my opinion Stan Sakai is one of the best American comic creators there is. He's best known for his long-running comic Usagi Yojimbo, about a masterless samurai who wanders feudal Japan, getting into adventures and helping people in trouble. The main character is a rabbit, and all the characters are anthropomorphic animals, but don't let that put you off - the stories are well-crafted, the research is impeccable, and the art is amazing. Stan Sakai is a master storyteller. I've been a fan for many years.

One summer day many years ago, at the San Diego Comic Con, I made it a point to stop by his booth and pick up a copy of the twelfth Usagi Yojimbo collection, "Grasscutter". It's a high point of the series; Usagi finds himself mixed up in a plot to steal an ancient magical sword, and has to battle a soul-stealing demon at the end. Shortly after that, I sat down for lunch from the con snack bar, and started reading the book. Keep in mind I'd read the original comics, and I was at the San Diego Comic Con, and it's a testament to how great the story was that I read the whole book cover to cover on the spot. And I realized what I wanted to do with my life.

I got back in the line to see Stan Sakai. And when I got to the front, I thanked him for his work, and I told him that someday, I wanted to write a story that would leave readers feeling the same way I'd just felt when I read "Grasscutter".

Last month, Stan Sakai was a guest of honor at a local comic convention. It took me two tries to actually start telling him this story, but I managed to work my way through it. And at the end, I handed him a set of Monkey Queen paperbacks and told him that they were for him, with my thanks for the inspiration from so long ago.

Stan could not have been more patient or more gracious with me, and it was a thrill to see him so happy to get the books and to hear my story, and to pose for the photo you see here. It was a highlight of my writing career, and maybe of my life. I had fulfilled a promise I had made. I had thanked someone who had inspired me with his skill, consistency and commitment.

What did it mean to me? One word: Everything.


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Writers' Cafe / I need hugs. And cookies. And more hugs.
« on: May 12, 2015, 11:59:42 am »
[whine]

So I joined a Net Galley co-op a few weeks back, and one of their readers just reviewed my book on GoodReads. They gave it two stars, and made a few comments, some of which I agree with, some I don't. I understand the bad review part, and they have their right to not like the book.

What got me was that underneath the review, the reviewer left a minute-by-minute report, updating how much they hated my book as they read on. Just eviscerating my work.

And then the review got seven "likes". You know, people who took the time to say how much they enjoyed seeing my book, the product of months of writing and years of dreaming, ripped to shreds and then burned.

And combine that with other non-writing issues and the pressure of getting book four out...right now, I just want to find a comfortable blanket and hide under it until things get better.

I know about bad reviews...but this one hurts. Real bad.

[/whine]

17
Writers' Cafe / Should covers match the insides?
« on: April 14, 2015, 01:29:21 pm »
My amazing cover artist has sent in the first sketch for the fourth Monkey Queen book. This one is mostly set in the "Far Lands", Faerie's version of the Far East as filtered through fantasy novels and kung fu movies. My cover artist wants to put the main characters in Chinese-style dress. The problem is, I don't have any scene in the book where they change outfits, and it's both a plot point and a running gag that Beth wears her green army jacket and blue jeans around all these characters that are wearing traditional garb. But I trust my cover artist's judgment; she suggested putting Michiko in a pirate's outfit for the third book's cover, and it came out great. And I know she'll draw the smurf out of it. ;)

So my question is, should I go with her idea without rewriting the book and hope I don't tick off too many readers? Should I rewrite the book to accommodate what she wants to do? (Maybe have Beth wear her green army jacket and sneakers with the robe?) Or should I just ask for something else? What would you do? (FYI, genre is humorous adventure fantasy with young adult crossover.)

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Writers' Cafe / Advice needed on Library Thing giveaway
« on: March 03, 2015, 09:38:54 am »
As part of a plan to try to get some reviews for my books on Amazon, I've signed up as an author on Library Thing and plan to launch an ebook giveaway. I wanted to ask some questions to make this giveaway as effective as possible. My series is contemporary adventure fantasy with a humorous streak, 13+ age group (YA to adult). I'll be giving away the first book. I've already decided to email the recipients directly and let them choose what format they want.

How many ebooks should I give away? I'm seeing some authors offer 100, which seems high, but if it's what I have to do to get those darn reviews, I will.

How long should the giveaway run?

What kind of results should I expect?

Since KBoards is about getting and sharing info, I'll throw this thread open for everyone to discuss their Library Thing giveaway experiences and suggestions. Post away! And as always, thanks.

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Writers' Cafe / Goodreads rating oddity
« on: February 23, 2015, 04:45:49 pm »
So I've got a giveaway, for a proof paperback copy of the third Monkey Queen book, running now on Goodreads. I only printed three copies, and the only one that's left my house went to the cover artist. I haven't sold any paperback copies. The ebook is just coming out today.

I already have two 5-star ratings. (And neither person is in a country with an Amazon store.)

How the heck does that happen? I mean, one person rating the book sight unseen is weird enough, but two? Maybe they think it'll help them win the proof giveaway? Should I report this to Goodreads, or just let it be?

(Or maybe they just really really like the cover. I do!)

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So the third Monkey Queen book is coming on February 24, and sales on the first two books have basically cratered -- I've sold just one of each in the last 3-4 weeks. Having had some success with Patty Jensen's 99-cent New Year's sale, I decided to launch a personal 99 cent promo for the first book, with the hope of getting some spillover into the second and, when it releases, the third. Unfortunately, I had to keep things on the inexpensive end due to budgetary constraints. The official goal is to try to at least break even and getting that sales tail. The unofficial goal is to see any sort of bump in my sales graphs.

The Monkey Queen series is contemporary comic fantasy with a humorous streak. This marketing blitz is aimed at adult readers, but I've also listed it as young adult (recommended for 13+, but that's me being cautious). No Amazon reviews yet, but 4 ratings on the first book and one on the second on Goodreads averaging 4.2 stars. I have wide distribution instead of being in KU.

Several options that other KBoarders use, like the Midlist and BookSends, were out of my price range for this promo. ENT was already filled for 2/24 and turned me down. I did apply for the free Bargainbooksy listing, but haven't heard back. I hadn't heard back from EBook Lister about whether I'm in or not, so that's why there are come overlaps. There are at least three reasons why Bookbub was off the table. I'm considering an "outside the box" approach and running a Project Wonderful ad or two; I'll update below if I do. And I will point out here that for the flak Books Butterfly is getting, she did mention in another thread that she thought my books wouldn't be a good fit for her service; I doubt that many other services would do the same.

Anyway, here's the timeline. I'll update as we go. Wish me luck! And thanks to everyone who shared their experiences and advice.

2/14: Change prices for BK1 to 0.99 USD. Goodreads giveaway launched for BK3. (BK1 ranked #1,141,606 in Kindle books store)

2/15: Confirm Amazon price change for BK1, promote on Book Bazaar (discount thread). (Results: 1 sale, BK1's rank jumped to #172,870)

2/16: Soft launch sale on BK1, with updated Book Bazaar post (Monkey Queen thread), Twitter, Tsu. (Results: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #314,143)

2/17: Sale on BK1 officially begins. Promote on social media (blog, Facebook, DeviantArt) (Results: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #426,552)

2/18-2/21: BK1 on EBook Lister (free, and now confirmed!) (Results - 2/18: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #490,521; 2/19: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #569,834)

2/20: BK1 on AwesomeGang (free) (Results: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #624,673)

2/21-2/23: BK1 on PixelScroll ($22.50) (Results - 2/21: 2 sales, BK1's rank jumped to #102,824; 2/22: 1 sale, BK1's rank jumped to #88,927; 2/23: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #192,514)

2/24: BK1 on BKnights ($5 - asked for KBoards special) (Results: 4 sales, BK1's rank hit its highest ever at #52,298)

2/24: BK3 published! Plug in Book Bazaar, featured on Speculative Fiction Showcase. (Thanks, Cora and Jessica!) Goodreads giveaway ends. (Results: 1 sale on Kobo.)

2/25-2/27: BK3 on SF Fantasy Freak (free) (Results: 2/25 - sold 4 copies of BK1, one each of BK2 and BK3. BK1's rank fell to #59,055)

2/26: BK3 on eBookSoda ($10.00) (Results: No sales, BK1's rank fell to #89,836)

2/27: 1 sale of BK1, rank fell to #114,877

2/28: no sales, BK1's rank fell to #209,477

3/1: sale ends (Results: One sale, BK1's rank fell to #150,467)

Final results: Sold 14 copies of BK1, one of BK2, two of BK3. One BK3 sale was on Kobo; the rest were on Amazon.

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Writers' Cafe / When to launch an ENT promo?
« on: January 30, 2015, 12:00:27 pm »
I've been considering running a 2-week 99 cent promo on the first book in my Monkey Queen series (currently 2.99) to try to get some interest going. I have a second book out, and I'll be releasing the third on February 24. I'm targeting Ereader News Today (ENT) for my promo based on the recommendations of some of my fellow KBoarders.

My question is: When should I run the ad to best get a sales tail on the other books? Just before the third book comes out, on the 2/24 release day, or a day or two afterwards?

All input is welcome, especially if anyone can recommend any other sites that can deliver some new readers for a 99 cent sale in my genre (comic contemporary fantasy with some young adult spillover). Two caveats: I'm not considering permafree on the first book until 2016, when I have 6-7 books out in the series (and to tie in with the Year of the Monkey). And for various reasons, Bookbub is off the table. :'(

As always, thanks in advance for your input!

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Writers' Cafe / SLF Working-Class / Impoverished Writers' $750 Grant
« on: January 13, 2015, 07:46:28 pm »
I know some of my fellow writers here at the Cafe have trouble making ends meet. I hope one of you gets this grant! (Hat tip to John Scalzi's Twitter feed.) http://speclit.org/Grants/SLFWorkingClass.php

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Writers' Cafe / Quotes on writing and self-publishing
« on: November 28, 2014, 09:54:13 am »
I just published my second novel! As a way of saying "Thank you!" to KBoards, and to the gang here at Writers' Cafe, I thought I'd pass these along, some of my favorite quotes on the writing process and self-publishing. A couple of these may be...familiar by now. ;) Feel free to add your favorites to these! (Mods, feel free to move this thread if needed.)

Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. - Neil Gaiman

If I were to give you any advice, it would be simply to work as hard as you can, and to always be yourself. - Charles Schulz

Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that—but you are the only you. - Neil Gaiman (again)

Just, please, stop waiting for someone else to fix your life. This is yours. It is the only one you have got. Take a chance. - Kate Danley

Here's to us for taking the chance, for taking a risk, for putting our words and, often, our hearts and souls and the product of the very best part of us out there for the world to judge, for readers to hate, and, sometimes, we hope, for readers to love. It's a huge gamble. Even if we lose, we played. We played hard, and we didn't go home. - Rosalind James

All your dreams and hopes and wishes don't mean a thing if you don't get off your [rear end] and do your best to make them come true. - me


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Writers' Cafe / Drive Thru Fiction paperbacks
« on: October 22, 2014, 02:32:29 pm »
In an attempt to try to outsell books created by eight year olds about backyard chickens :D , I keep trying to find new sales channels for my book. I was reminded in another thread earlier today about one channel that Cora Buhlert and Vaalingrade both love - Drive Thru Fiction. I plan on uploading there tonight, but I was wondering if anyone who already sells through there uses the print option. Is the quality any good? Comparable to CreateSpace? I'm happy with the job CreateSpace did on my proofs, but I'll consider adding DTF if they also do a good job. Thanks for any input you might have.

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Writers' Cafe / unclear on the concept - Amazon Marketplace edition
« on: October 11, 2014, 11:47:24 am »
So I'm checking the Amazon page for my book to see if there are any reviews yet (nope :( ), and I notice something odd for the paperback edition, which I did through CreateSpace. I understand why non-Amazon vendors would sell a print on demand book; there might be someone who falls for it, instead of getting it through Amazon proper.

What's tickling me at this point is that one Amazon Marketplace vendor is selling a used copy. I can guarantee that I haven't sold ANY paperback copies at this point (unless the reporting is really screwed up, which I doubt). These guys are in Indiana. I printed three proof copies for review. One stayed with me here in California. One went to the winner of a Goodreads giveaway, in Australia. And the third was sent, as a thank you gift, to Willow the cover artist...in France.

Three proofs accounted for. No recorded sales. Where the Sam Hill did this vendor get a used copy? ???

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