Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Akeldama Update

Not much of a post today.  Truth be told, I wrote another long post that I originally intended to publish, but I then realized it was better suited to Monday.  Trust me, when you read it, you'll understand.

The release of Akeldama, even with the bumps along the way, has gone pretty well.  Sales are ticking up, and I can't express my gratitude enough for those that have purchased a copy.  I plan on doing an event in Charlotte in June, and I'm trying to schedule events in Kansas for the near future.  For all those who've bought one, I am always available to sign them.  Approach me wherever you are - I will never turn away a reader.  You can also send it to me to sign and return, but you'll have to include return postage since my budget won't allow for me to pay its way back(I'll rapidly go broke if that was the case).

I've also started working/re-working the next novel in the Akeldama series, and I'll have an interesting request regarding it shortly.  Until then, thanks for sticking with me, and please purchase a copy of Akeldama if you can.  The paperback is on sale until June 1st for $13.56, and the ebook is available on Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords(still working on Apple iBooks) for $3.99.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bumps In The Road

As readers of this blog know by now, I released Akeldama last week.  This has been the culmination of years of anticipation, and it is far from the end.  Most folks I know think that the release of a novel is the end point, the place where writers become rich and famous, and all is right with the world.  For me, the release of Akeldama was the beginning of a career, not the end of a movement.  I plan to release at least four novels over the next two years, and possibly as many as six over the next three years(five are written).  I planned and plotted and worked hard to start a business, not create a hobby.

That doesn't mean all has gone smoothly.

For all the planning, things get missed, things that create frustration and have made me wonder if I'm just another schmuck on a lark.  To start with, I promised those who joined my distro list prior to Akeldama's release that they'd get a 15% discount on the novel.  I thought I had everything set up for that, even acquiring a discount code from CreateSpace.  However, on the morning of release, several people emailed me to tell me that the code was invalid.  I dug into it and found that the code only works for CreateSpace's e-store, which I'm not using.  I was pissed!

So, after whining and feeling sorry for myself for an hour or so, I went back and figured out what I could do to give my customers the price I promised.  To make good on my word, I reduced the price of Akeldama from $15.95 to $13.56(the price at 15% off) and made it available for a limited period of time(in this case, until June 1st).  Yes, it means that others who weren't on my early subscribers' list also have access to that price, but at least those who wanted the discount can get it, and my word is still somewhat intact.
(On a side note, many people decided to purchase at full price anyway to support this struggling writer's career start, and I'm grateful for their help)

And then there was the reader who pointed out to me a typo.  Yes, a typo.  After months of pouring over it and having several people look it over, there was still a typo.  It's not a big one, and it's one that, honestly, many people will miss.  You have to really understand things to even notice, but it's still there, and it grates on me.  I pride myself on being a perfectionist, and, sheepishly, I'm even quite arrogant about it.  After all, don't most writers know - not believe, but know - that we're better grammarians and spellers than the average person?  Don't we possess that conceit?  When I heard about the typo at first, my initial reaction was, "Pfft, that person has it wrong.  They've got no idea what they're talking about."

Then I looked at it.

Yup, it was there.  Subtle but obvious to me.  Proof positive that you need editors who know what they're doing, as well as proof positive that no amount of proofreading catches everything.  I felt sick about it, and, honestly, I still do.  Every time I think about it, I feel a twisting at the back of my neck, like someone has grabbed my brainstem and yanked.  Perhaps I'm beating myself up too much over it, but no one feels this sting more than I.  The ironic part is that nearly everyone who doesn't know this part in depth won't even notice.

Finally, I had a reader on my list ask to be taken off.  I dutifully complied, but it still hurt.  I don't want anyone who doesn't want my work to be bothered, but I spent years meticulously piecing together my subscriber list, and it's a body blow when people no longer want to be a part.  Yes, everyone else has lives and things that they're into, but while my mind can understand that, my ego has trouble with it.
(Yet another side note - not everyone on my list has yet bought a copy of either the ebook or paperback.  It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.  After all, it's only been three days)

So stuff doesn't go perfectly.  That's life, but it's also hard for a control freak like me to take.  I don't like chaos, so I try to eliminate variables.  Yet they stubbornly persist.

Oh, who am I kidding about just being a control freak?  I'm their king!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Release!

It's finally here!  Akeldama is now available on all platforms(or will be by this weekend...Nook and Apple iBooks are still awaiting final validation by those sites).  It has been a little more arduous than I thought it would be setting up, but my debut novel is finally on sale.  As a reminder on the plot...


Seth Gendrickson has worked for the Catholic Church's Order of Mount Sion since his initial encounter with a vampire during seminary years ago.  Finally working his way up to the rank of Hunter, Seth's first assignment is to investigate a spike in vampire activity in Kansas, an area previously quiet.  The region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River had been a kind of neutral zone for the two main factions - The Assembly of Cairo and Los Muertos.  The Assembly hails from Europe, and although few in numbers, is the older of the sects and far more powerful.  Los Muertos saw opportunity in the New World, so they established themselves in the Americas and began to multiply.  They are young, aggressive, and passionate.

And they're moving east.

Seth is under orders to figure out what's going on before an all out vampire civil war brings knowledge of such supernatural creatures into the open and causes societal panic, a situation the Church is keen to avoid.  During his mission, Seth captures one of the enemy and interrogates it, but he soon finds that the movement east is less an invasion than it is an influx of refugees fleeing a greater threat.  Something is hunting the vampires out west, something more terrifying than the risk of conflict.  Seth tracks this threat from California to Japan and across Europe to discover the heart of a conspiracy that stretches back 2,000 years and threatens the future of the world.


This may be my first novel, but it certainly won't be the last I publish.  My plan is to bring out a new novel every six months for at least the first three years, and I'll be deciding on a release date for Salvation Day by the end of June.  Wrongful Death will follow, and then we'll see where the publication schedule goes from there.

If you buy a copy of Akeldama, I ask only one favor - please do a review of it on your favorite reader's site, be that Amazon, Goodreads, or whatever you enjoy.  No, I'm not asking for a specific star rating or write-up, just an honest review.  For one, I want to know what people think.  Second, honestly, more reviews means more exposure which means more potential sales, so anybody that could help out with a review would be greatly appreciated.

If you're interested, you can buy the paperback on Amazon here, or the ebook for Kindle here.  And you can get it on Smashwords here.  I'll add links for Apple iBooks and Nook as soon as they become active in the next couple of days.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Other Outlets

As I ramp up towards the release of Akeldama this week, I've expanded into other media outlets for exposure, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  That doesn't mean that my computer illiteracy has been solved.

Twitter has been the biggest example.  I know most of you will laugh at me by the end of the next couple of paragraphs, and that's okay.  I laugh at my own ineptitude sometimes too.  To start with, I can't get my picture uploaded to Twitter, and I have no idea why.  I've got a picture the right size, I click on the "upload a picture" button, and I follow the steps.  Yet, stubbornly, nothing happens.  And then there's my phone...

I'm a dinosaur.  I still have an iPhone4 that I only got because my flip phone died in 2013.  I'm trying to get the Twitter App, but my operating system is outdated, and it's taking forever to download the new iOS.  I should probably take it to an Apple Store, or just breakdown and get a newer phone, but I live out in the sticks, and even a trip out for fast food becomes a version of Oregon Trail.  I'll load up the wagons sometime soon and head on to the big city, but a family and other commitments make such a trek a bit daunting right now.

I'm looking at the Facebook boosting of my author page, but I'm also still a small time operation with a low budget, so ad promotion isn't a top priority right now.  Mostly, I gain exposure through word of mouth, so I have to straddle the line between nudging those I know to mention me to others, and pestering them to the point where they ignore me.  It's a hard line, and I'm still figuring out that part.

Still, even with limited exposure, Akeldama, my debut novel, comes out this week, and I'm excited.  If I can convince a few others to get a little excited too, that'd be a great bonus...and a wonderful start.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Week To Go!


There's only a week left until the official release date of Akeldama!  As of now, the ebook is available for pre-order on Smashwords, and it will soon be available on Nook and Apple.  By this time next week, it'll be available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

If you're not a subscriber to my email list, there's still time to join in order to get the 15% discount off of the paperback - just email me or leave a message in the comments with your personal email address.

It's almost here.  I can hardly wait.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Life Gets In The Way

So yeah, I missed my post last Thursday morning.  I was both sick and out of town, and I didn't plan ahead.  I think this was the first time I missed a post without at least telling people I'd miss it since the blog began.  However, the world didn't end, and I'm back in the saddle.

On another life note, a few people have asked why it has taken so long to get my debut novel out.  Yes, I could've easily just uploaded it(and several more) before now, but that's just not the kind of person I am.  I'm cautious by nature, and I've always said I wanted to treat this like a business rather than a lark.  Several factors kept me from devoting the time I wanted to towards the business side of this(being out of the country for a year, a new birth, the location and its impact on marketing, etc), so I waited.  Does that mean I missed the boat?  I have no idea, but we'll soon find out.

Akeldama is 11 days from publication.  I'm in the home stretch, and all that needs to be done now is final approval and ebook uploading.  So why not just go ahead and make it available?  Because I told my early subscribers that it'd be out May 18th, and I take my word pretty seriously.  Yes, it may be a minor shift that few would notice or care about, but it means something to me.  As with this blog and its predictability over the years, I want people to be able to count on something in our usually unpredictable world.  It may be anal retentive, but it's the only small level of control I have.

And I freely admit that some minor glitch could still come up that could alter things.  That'd be part of the learning process for when I release my second book sometime later this year.  I suppose we'll all find out together.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

No, Being A Writer Doesn't Make You Rich

I think the biggest misconception about writers is that since we've published a book, we're rich.  I can't tell you how many people think I have money to burn since my first novel will be out shortly.  That's right - I haven't even officially published yet, but a lot of folks think I'll soon buy my own private island.

I spoke a little while back about trying to reach the exalted status of those at the very top.  I don't think there's anything wrong with shooting for the stars.  However, the stars are all most people ever know about.  Yes, they've heard of Rowling, King, and Patterson, but how many know the plethora of other authors who struggle to keep their heads above water?

I think this is due to many thinking that if you're on your own, it must be because you're supremely successful.  I know a few business owners, from those who own restaurants to those who have cleaning businesses to those who run mortgage refinancing businesses, and none of them are rich monetarily.  Most are month to month, and sometimes they get a month or two ahead, but they can't take a year off to explore Europe or hitch a ride on the Virgin Atlantic spaceship.  Writers are the same way.

I too once held this misconception, and I think it comes from both seeing the very successful, as well as not daring to go out on their own themselves.  Going out on your own is scary - your chances of success are enormous, and you could be out big bucks if that happens.  Since most people are risk-averse, they assume that the only reason someone would write full time id because they've "made it."

Don't get me wrong - I measure success as a writer in far more than monetary terms.  I can set my own hours, I have freedom to decide my topics, and I get to do something I'm passionate about.  And I hope one day to become super-successful like Hugh Howey or JA Konrath(or Dan Brown, if you think that's even larger), but I'm happy trying to make a living at my passion.  It doesn't mean I can fly first class to Hawaii or that I'm front row at a Rolling Stones concert, but maybe I can put food on my table and have my house heated in the winter.

I just smile and nod when people imagine my wealth.  It's fun, and people don't like their fantasy balloons popped, but it does get annoying.  I guess I'll just have to get that way eventually in order to justify their imagination.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Careful On What You Promise

Books cannot just come out in a vacuum.  Well, they can...but you then face the prospect of no sales because no one knows a new and potentially interesting book is out.  Like it or not, you have to be a businessperson too, and that means marketing your work.


I've been doing this for a while, and I've got a fairly robust email distro list to show for it.  My readers get regular updates about Akeldama and other things, so they know I'm still around.  As a bonus for signing up, I also promise them a discount on the book(in hardcover format).  However, as production has demonstrated, one needs to be careful when promising things.


I originally started out by thinking that a discount of around 25% would be fair.  When I first did my numbers, a 25% discount would still leave a couple of buck as a profit margin, so it didn't seem like a big deal.  Then inflation happened, as well as my own inability to get things out in the current price market.


You see, the list price of $15.95 was originally compared to a print price of around $7 or $8 per book, so three bucks or so off wasn't going to do me in.  However, once prices went up in production, not only did the after-discount profit margin decrease, it went past the point of profitability at all.  In that vein, the POD wouldn't even let me offer this discount since it would mean selling at a loss.


Yes, I could raise the price to around $17.95 and still offer the discount at 25%, but that seemed stupid to me - why raise the price just to lower it to what you originally were going to make?  So I decided to keep the original $15.95 print price and reduce the discount to 15%.  I will still make a little off each book sold to my subscribers, and they'll still be able to get it at a lower price than the general public.


This could cost me some customers.  I recognize that.  However, I said at first the discount would be 25-ish%, so I never locked in on a hard number due to the unknowns in terms of capital production.  And while I hope everyone will still stick with me, the right to buy or not to buy still rests with the customer.  I think that most will still be thrilled with getting it at a lower price, but some may get upset enough to go elsewhere, and that's their prerogative.


The lesson has been to better evaluate promises before making them.  I want to serve my audience, but I need to be more in tune with the numbers before I say something.  If nothing else, I've definitely learned this for the next time.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Story Exhaustion?

As most of you know, I've been reviewing Akeldama for a while now in order to get it ready for my May 18th publication date.  I've been going over(and over, and over, and over) the formatting, text, and general layout of the story for a few months, and it's beginning to get a bit tedious.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still very excited to be nearing my debut novel's release date, but I'm growing so familiar with the story that I don't even need to look at the text to understand it.  I realize this makes little sense to those who don't write - after all, I write the story, so I should obviously know it inside and out - but it has become repetitive.

I'm a big fan of putting a story away after you write it and before you edit it so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.  However, the work necessary to bring Akeldama to fruition won't let me put it down right now.  Yes, this is a bit like complaining I have too many bills for my wallet, or that I can't decide which sports car to buy, but that doesn't make it any less real to me.

Do other writers have this issue with their stories?  After so many revisions and edits and rewordings and reviews, does it get more chore-like after a time?  Or am I whining over a non-issue?  I find myself wishing the release date will get here just so that I can move on to a new tale.  I'll always love this story, but even a person eating his or her favorite food every day will likely long for some variety.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unicorns

I recently ran across a post that compared writers like JK Rowling and Stephen King to unicorns - very beautiful but incredibly rare.  Their level of success is something most people dream of but will never even come close to, so why bother to fantasize about it?

Yes, I've previously written that you shouldn't make a career plan based on being Dan Brown of Stephenie Meyer, for most will inevitably fall short.  However, I don't think that harmless daydreaming is necessarily a bad thing all by itself.  Sometimes the fantasy keeps us going in those dark times when we feel like no one will ever read our work.  I believe that as long as we don't make that fantasy the bedrock of our career plan, then it's perfectly okay to occasionally wonder what hitting the literary lottery would be like.

Besides, someone has to be the next unicorn.  It's no secret that I loathe the writing of Stephenie Meyer, for I consider it to be trite and simplistic, but that doesn't mean she didn't find an audience looking for the vision she was selling.  Had you shown any halfway competent and successful author Twilight before it was released, the person would've laughed at it before running down any chance of success Meyer had.  However, most experts have more conceit than powers of prognostication, and Meyer hit a nerve with an audience most couldn't tap, so she went on to grow that horn from her forehead and pranced in as the next unicorn.  Such unexpected success could strike anywhere, and maybe it could strike you.

I think it's such tales that keep many of us going when we feel inadequate.  So yes, keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, working hard and doing what you can to build a viable career, but don't let that stop you from wondering what your own shiny unicorn horn would look like on those starry nights when you're by yourself.  Maybe that spark you feel will turn out to be the next bolt of lightning to open your career up to stratospheric heights.  I mean, we can all dream, right?  And aren't dreams what start a writer writing to begin with?