Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pre-Publishing Questions

Maria Zannini of Book Cover Diva has already made a rough mockup of the cover for Young Seasons. It might be ready as soon as this weekend. Of course, a book cover is just one of the many decisions an indie writer has to make when she puts on her publishing hat. Here are some of the decisions I make before I publish a story:

Purpose--The purpose of this collection is to provide some backstory for the heroines of my Season Avatars series--and to promote the rest of the books. Since the prequel for this series is set hundreds of years before the rest of the books, I want to give readers another way to discover the main characters and this series. Hopefully, readers will want to learn more about Gwen, Jenna, Ysabel, and Kay after reading Young Seasons.

EBook, Paper, or Both?--This decision affects my costs, cover design, and formatting. I use the same template for both eBooks and paper books, but there are some tweaks I make for the different editions. I'll make novels available in both formats, but since Young Seasons is only about 70 pages, I'll make this an eBook edition only. At some point, I'll combine these stories with some of my other short stories to create a longer collection. That will be available in both formats.

Editing Process--I'm so particular about my work that I revise and line-edit my drafts before I even think about letting someone else look at it. After all, the fewer issues there are with the story, the less they'll find, right? What that really means is that other people will find problems I can't see. I've used beta readers and freelance editors in the past. I'm still debating which path to choose for the Young Seasons collection. Ultimately, this decision will have the most impact on release date. It'll also affect quality and the number of copies I need to sell to break even.

Pre-Order or Not?--With books, I normally set them up for pre-order because I need to allow time for perfecting the paper copy (which also affects the eBook version). I'm not preparing a paper edition, though I will probably proof the stories on paper before release. I probably won't put this collection up for pre-order, so once I'm satisfied, I can publish it.

KDP Select or Wide Distribution?--All of my other works are currently available on multiple sites, such as Kobo, B&N, and Apple, in addition to the almighty Amazon. I'm considering making this collection exclusive to Amazon for the first three months to see if it'll help me with promotion and reviews. Honestly, though, I didn't see much improvement with sales or reads the few times I've tried Select. For long-term growth, it's best to be wide.

Price--Due to the short length of this collection, I don't plan to price it above $0.99. I might try making this free, either for short periods or as a permafree. This decision will affect my distribution decision.

Back Matter--If I want readers to discover the rest of the Season Avatars series, it would make sense to include a sample chapter from Scattered Seasons at the end of this collection. However, not all readers want bonus material, since they judge the length of the story by the length of the file. If I do this, I'll mention it in the book description.

Promotion--Pricing and distribution decisions will affect my ability to promote my work with paid ads.

As you can see, there's a lot of thought that goes into publishing, and I haven't even mentioned blurbs, keywords, or genres. Some writers would rather have someone else make these decisions so they can focus on writing. I view these decisions as experiments. Each decision is a different variable I can change to figure out what works best for the particular work. All writers have to decide how much hands-on control they want and what they're willing to have others do for them. What works for one author might not for someone else. Don't be afraid to try new things and keep asking questions. Questions force you to find the answers that will make you grow.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Got a Guest Post or Something to Promote?

Remember how last week I blogged about outlining my next urban fantasy series before starting to write it? Well, I do have some notes on the final book, but I couldn't resist diving into the first book, currently called Dryads to Discover. I'm not very far into it, as I haven't got much writing done at home the last few evenings. Still, it's a start. I'm also working on three crochet projects (I need to finish two Star Wars characters by this Saturday and a blanket by Labor Day weekend) and going through Summon the Seasons again for another round of edits. All of this sure keeps me busy, though it doesn't necessarily inspire me with interesting material for the blog. So...anyone else want to propose topic for a guest post? Or do you have a science fiction/fantasy book you'd like to promote? Please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I have some writing and crocheting to do.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice!

The summer solstice was technically last night in the Northern Hemisphere, but I figure it's not too late to celebrate with some music, both really old:

and a little newer:

Also, happy birthday to Jenna, the Summer Avatar and heroine of Chaos Season!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Outlining a Trilogy

After I wrap up the Season Avatars series, the next big writing project I want to tackle is an urban fantasy trilogy. (I also have a partial draft of a children's book, but so far that's a standalone. I may write a sequel or two later if there's interest.) I have a general sense of the characters and the situation, but instead of plowing in, I'm trying to outline not just the first book, but the overall series. There are still a lot of unresolved questions, but at least I'm thinking not just about what the heroes are doing, but also their antagonists want, what are the worst things I can do to the heroes, and what their emotional arcs should look like. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to write the entire series before editing and releasing it, or if I'll go book-by-book the way I did with the Season Avatars series. As long as I end up with finished books that make sense, the path to them doesn't matter too much.

If you write a series, do you plot it all out before starting or do it book-by-book? Feel free to share in the comments. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wanted: Beta Readers!

I finally finished revising Young Seasons, a quartet of short stories set in the Season Avatars universe. Including front and back matter, the collection is about 84 pages or nearly 27,000 words. Here's the word count breakdown:

"But Not Today" (Gwen's story): 4500 words
"Last Locomotive from Wistica" (Kay's Story): about 4700 words (title is still tentative)
"To Name the Anilink: (Ysabel's story): 9300 words
"Jenna's Rosebush" (Jenna's story): 7100 words

As you can see, I didn't worry too much about making sure all the stories were the same length. Now the important thing is checking how readers like the stories. I'll be reaching out to my mailing list, but is anyone interested in being a beta reader, someone willing to read the stories and point out any plot holes or inconsistencies? You'll get a free eBook when the story is published and credit in the Introduction. In the meantime, back to another round of corrections for Summon the Seasons--and also time to work on the next project!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off 2017

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off is an annual contest for self-published fantasy novels. (There's also an additional requirement that they be standalones or the first in a series.) Although this is its third year, I haven't heard of it until recently. Nearly three hundred books will be reviewed by ten bloggers. Each blogger picks a favorite from the thirty or so books he or she was assigned, then of the bloggers decide on an overall favorite. The prize for winning? Glory--and a selfie stick. In addition to the main contest, there's also a side cover contest.

I've entered Seasons' Beginnings into this contest, and it's been assigned to The Qwillery. There are a lot of books competing, including some I've already read. Odds are low for any individual book making it to the top ten, but this contest is still good for exposure. If you want to follow along, there's a Facebook group set up for the contest. If you'd like to help spread the word about it, Laura M. Hughes has prepared several banners for the contest, including the one I'm using.

Thanks to the organizers and bloggers for doing this, and best of luck to all!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

IWSG: Adapt, Don't Quit!

The June blog post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group is sponsored by JH Moncrieff, Madeline More-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner. My regular reading are probably familiar with the ISWG, but if you'd like a reminder of how this writer's group supports other writers, you can learn more on their website or their Facebook group.

This month's question is a doozy: Did you ever say, "I quit"? If so, what made you come back to writing?

I wrote my very first novel (and believe me, it showed!) in my mid-twenties, then set it aside for a while. I didn't commit to writing until a few years later, when the Beatles inspired me to write what would become the Season Avatars series. At that time, self-publishing wasn't easy and was looked-down upon, so my 187,000 word book made the rounds at agencies and publishers. I got some interest, but never an acceptance. I wrote a second book in that series and started a third, but ultimately I moved on to other projects, such as Beatles fanfiction. Some stories, like Lyon's Legacy, Twinned Universes and "A Reptile at the Reunion," were eventually completed. Others remain unfinished. I wrote for friends' webzines and participated in National Novel Writing Month, but after shopping around a combined version of Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes and getting no interest, I stopped submitting stories to agents and publishers. Nothing I was working on seemed ready to me--or even able to break through to publishers.

Finally, Kindles and eBooks arrived. Self-publishing became easier. I did some research before jumping in, but I published Lyon's Legacy in 2011 and haven't looked back. It hasn't been a quick path to success, but it's gumption-building to take charge of my books instead of hoping to approach the right publisher at the right time. I think what's been key for me (besides being stubborn by nature) is being willing to move onto new projects and try different things. I've had to adjust my writing goals since I first started, but hopefully they're more realistic--and obtainable--now. Besides, writing has always been a vital way for me to find meaning and an escape from everyday life. If I gave up writing, I would lose a core part of myself.

What would you say to someone who wants to quit writing? Feel free to share in the comments.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Friends' Book Releases

A couple of friends I wanted to meet at WisCon have new books available. I had wanted to see if they were interested in writing guests posts for this blog, and now that my son is almost done with school, maybe I'll have time to contact them. In the meantime, I thought I'd share the blurbs and Amazon links.

David O. Englestad recently published his first book, A Call of Moonhart. I've read it and found it an interesting take on the clash of cultures. Here's the description:

Anacarra: A land of two deities that used to be one and two cultures separated by more than cliff walls and forests. The Uplanders live in concert with their goddess, fed by Her bounty and protected by the harsh terrain. The lowlanders live by following the plow and the lonely god. They've been divided for millennia -- the cultures and the gods -- and those divisions are getting more dangerous.

For Rhia it isn't even a nightmare, because nightmares fade in the light of day. But the horrific images of wanton killing and destruction stay in Rhia's every thought long after waking. That's how a calling from the goddess works and, as much as she wants to deny it, despite everyone in Moonhart eknos held some part of the same goddess-sent dream, Rhia is the one, the only one, called by the goddess. She tried to protest: she isn't special, she isn't an elder, or one of the wise. She's simply a hunter but that would have to be enough. She is called to leave all that she knows -- the safety of the eknos, her huntmate, the familiar forests and meadows -- to travel the length of the uplands of Anacarra to warn the other eknos that sinister forces threaten their peaceful way of life, forces that had already murdered and abducted uplanders without warning or provocation. Rhia must rouse the clans, spread the word, and if at all possible, rescue her mother before it is too late.

Dughal has but one dream. It was the same dream his father had, and his father before him: to lead the best troupe of players traveling the realm! Dughal holds onto as much as he can of the old ways, the traditions that hold players in high esteem. His troupe boasts the best singer, the best wordsmith who both writes new plays and crafts the old ones anew, and they even have one of the last remaining Player's wagons. Dughal thought his dream a simple one and simply achieved, but that was before they encountered those called His Own. Ascetics rarely have use for players but Dughal learns that these do, and he isn't going to like the use they put his players to. Threatened with the loss of all he holds dear, Dughal has to choose, but will any choice keep them safe?

 Catherine Lundoff recently re-released Silver Moon: A Wolves of Wolf Point Novel. It's about a group of women who become werewolves as they approach menopause. I enjoyed it when I first read it and plant to re-read it. (Let's just say menopause is much more relevant to me these days.) Here's the blurb:

Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged and trying to embrace a quiet life, discovers that there are still plenty of surprises to be had when her menopause kicks in with bonus lycanthropy. And she’s not the only one. The seemingly peaceful and dull town of Wolf’s Point has its own all-female werewolf pack and Becca has just become its newest member. But it’s not all protecting Wolf’s Point, midnight meetings at the Women’s Club and monthly runs through the woods. There are werewolf hunters in town and now they've got Becca and the Wolf’s Point Pack in their sights.

As if that wasn’t enough, Becca’s cute lesbian werewolf neighbor, Erin, is starting to haunt her dreams as well as her doorstep. What’s a newbie werewolf to do, between the hot flashes and the unexpected physical transformations? Can Becca overcome her fears and help the werewolves defeat their greatest enemy?

I hope you check out one or both books! 

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