Category Archives: Self-Publishing

Looking Back to 2019, Hobbling Into 2020

Hi everyone!

In less than 10 hours, 2020 shall be upon us, and then all of the “2020 vision” jokes can stop!  Or, you know, continue undaunted ;)

As I always do, I’d like to take a moment to look back upon the past year, and see what’s over the horizon.  So come with me on a journey through time, from past, to present, and into the future!

2019 – Self-Publishing Success, NaNoWriMo, Home Purchase, Injury and Surgery

Photo by Beck Wasik

In November 2018, I took a gamble and published 2nd editions of my first two novels, along with an anthology of short stories.  It was a risky move – why would books that have already been out sell better as 2nd editions?  But the vastly-improved covers, the better edits, and the more aggressive marketing campaign paid off.

In 2019, I made more in sales and Kindle Unlimited reads in a single year than in all of the previous years combined!  If there is no other reason to, then that alone is reason enough to celebrate!

But there’s more – I started writing more regularly again, and with one last hurrah with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month,) I finished the first draft of book 3 of the Sword of Dragons saga!  By far, this was the most complicated story I have ever told, with countless moving parts and story threads, all converging in the final quarter of the novel.

I’m so excited!

Unlike 2018, however, in 2019 I barely traveled.  A couple of small road trips here and there, one of which was to see family, but otherwise our great focus was on finally getting out of apartments, and into a house of our own.  It was effort, time, and money well spent, and while our little corner of Earth may not be perfect, it’s ours :)

I wish I could say that all of 2019 was positive, but unfortunately, this was not so.  Towards the end of summer, as I walked through the kitchen, suddenly my right hip screamed in pain and I fell to the floor, unable to stand or walk.  While I slowly regained the ability to use my leg over the next couple of days, I knew something was terribly wrong.

After multiple visits to multiple doctors, x-rays, MRI’s, and CT scans, the doctors came to the conclusion that I had a hip impingement and torn labrum caused by a deformed femur joint.  Apparently I’ve had this all of my life, but over time it has been wearing on the labrum, until this year when it finally gave up and began to separate from the hip itself.

Which led to an arthroscopic surgery, my first major surgery ever.  In a way, it wasn’t too terribly invasive – two small cuts, one to stick a scope in, the other to stick instruments in to work on the hip.  But it required a lot of work on my hip, including ‘tacking’ the labrum up, reshaping the bone, and generally cleaning things up in the hip.  It essentially crippled me for several weeks, and a full recovery will take about six months.

It’s been a difficult time for me, someone who has always placed importance on my independence and ability to contribute around the house.  My wife has had to shoulder so much,  and I am so grateful for all that she has done.  She’s taken care of me, worked tirelessly to keep the house in order, and held me through the hardest nights.  My wonderful Starshine :)

2020 – Recovery, Publication, and Bringing Sentinels Back

What’s in store for 2020?  For starters, the long road to recovery shall continue.  As my hip and leg regains strength, it’s time to get fit again.  The injury was already starting to rear its ugly head in the 4 years prior to that terrible summer day, and I’ve exercised less and less as a result.

So 2020 will be a year that I focus on my physical health and wellness, getting back to the fitness level I once worked so long and hard to achieve.  Long hikes, climbing, that sort of thing, I miss doing all of it, and I’m looking forward to being back to my old self by summer!

Furthermore, unless I get horribly negative feedback from beta readers, 2020 will be the year that book 3 is published!  As before, it’ll be self-published, but the cover is already prototyped and ready for implementation, so it’s all a matter of editing and proofreading!

Images Source – http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com

As for the “Bringing Back the Sentinels” comment…I’ve had wonderful inspiration and ideas for revitalizing the Chronicles of the Sentinels modern fantasy book 1, Legacy!  I intend to write a more comprehensive blog on the changes coming, but I plan to fully re-write the first book to address the massive shortcomings of the original.  As an interested agent put it a few years ago, the premise was good, but the characters especially needed work.

There’s a lot of other great things ahead, including a trip for a Doctor Who convention, but that, my friends, is another story :)

Until then, Happy New Year to everyone!  May 2020 be the year of positive change for you :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Going Back to the Basics

Hi everyone!

It’s been too long since my last post.  But that’s the thing about blogging lately, I feel like I’ve lost sight of some of my original goals with this blog, while greatly achieving others.

The trials and triumphs of writing, searching for an agent, and getting published.  That was what this blog was originally supposed to be about, all the way back in 2014.  I was certainly a different person then, and my life was very different.

I never found an agent, though I came close a couple of times.  I have, however, been published.  I think my decision to become self published was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  It’s given me incredible insights into this industry, made me realize that there’s just so much more to writing than I ever realized.

Having said all of that, there’s one part of my blog’s stated goals that I’ve greatly neglected in recent months.  Writing.

Granted, we bought a house recently, and as anyone who’s been through that knows, there’s a lot involved in that (including fixing up everything that was wrong with said-house in the first days after taking ownership.)

And we’re still not fully settled in.

But that’s meant I haven’t written anything in months.  At least since early February, if not longer.

Furthermore, sometimes I feel like I’ve spent too much time and effort trying to advertise my published books on this blog, when that wasn’t one of the original goals.  Sure, sharing my celebrations and events involved in marketing is part of it, but…well, all in all…I think it’s time I took a break from blogging.  Again.

I first started considering this after I read a blog post by Rachelle Gardner.  Her words resonated with me, and I realized that I felt like blog writing, right now anyway, felt too much like a chore.  The joy I used to feel in blogging was gone.

Thinking even more on it, I realize that is because every time that I’ve spent time writing a blog, I felt like I could have used those precious minutes to write stories.  And over the past 2 or 3 years, writing time has been scarce.

Of course, there’s a flip side to that…what do they say about writing?  That to be a good writer, you need to write from experience, and that means going out there and experiencing life.  And I certainly have done that in the past 3 years!  I’ve had more adventures, experienced love like never before, seen and done things I’ve only dreamt of before!

Photo by Wayne Adams of Death’s House Productions

It’s made me a better writer.  And now, more than ever, I feel like the time is right to take advantage of that.  Now is the time to write stories again.

That’s who I am at heart, a writer.  So I need to go back to my roots, and focus on that.  Rediscover that part of me.

Does this mean I’m shutting this blog down?  Nope.  It just means I’m taking an extended break for now.

But I’ll be back.  That much I can promise you.  My journey is still just starting, and I still want to share it with you all :)

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for being awesome!  See you next time!

-Jon Wasik

The Voice of the Writer – Recording Audio Books

Hi everyone!

I apologize for skipping a couple of weeks in blogs, life has a way of getting away with our time.

Last weekend, I had a book release/book signing party, and for the first time at such a party, I read a passage aloud from my newest book to an audience!

Truth be told, I thought I’d done horribly.  I was so nervous that I forgot to read it in my ‘voice actor’ voice,.  I just read it in my normal speaking voice, felt like I rushed some areas…

And then I received overwhelmingly positive feedback!  Some that day, and then more and more in the days that followed.  If you’re curious to see video of it, click here!

Furthermore, I have been repeatedly asked if there will be an audio book released.  Many folks have told me over the years that, as busy people, they don’t have time to read, but they can listen to audio books when they, for instance, are commuting to and from work.

So I’ve made a decision: while I’m still going to spend several hours a day during my holiday writing book 3, I’m going to also spend time working on getting the released books into audio!  I probably won’t release them all at once like I did in November, but rather one at a time…you know, to save my sanity ;)

Relearning the Voice

When you can’t afford a recording studio, improvise!

Not having funds for a professional studio, I took the same approach from my last false-start: I setup recording in a closet.  As I started and re-started recordings on Rise of the Forgotten’s prologue, I realized that I had to re-teach myself how to read for audience.

It’s easy and it’s hard all at the same time.  As I learned years ago when my friend Wayne voice-coached me, what I feel is over-the-top comes out as really good, and anything less is bland.  So I have to remember every time, don’t hold back.

I might feel silly, and given the ultra-thin barrier between the apartments above and below us, I’m sure our neighbors are wondering what the heck’s going on, but I think the results will be worth it.

The even stranger sensation is that I feel embarrassed as I read aloud over-the-top, even though there’s no one around.  Do you ever feel second-hand embarrassment when you see someone say or do something very awkward on TV?  It’s kinda like that, except that I’m embarrassed by how my own voice sounds as I’m recording.

And then I hear it play back and it’s good.  Based on those results and the encouragement I’ve received from dozens of people, I’m looking forward to releasing my books in audio format!

Thanks for reading!  Until next week, dear readers, and the annual “Looking back, looking forward” end of the year blog :)

Merry Christmas!
-Jon Wasik

Writing and Publishing – In For The Long Haul

I’ve said it before – being a writer is a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to be in it for the long haul.  What I have to keep reminding myself is, this also applies to the goal of one day living off of writing.

Photo by Beck Wasik

With my triple-book launch of the Sword of Dragons series on November 16th, I was extremely pleased to find that not only did my books start off well, but they were trending upwards!  It looked like my marketing attempts were succeeding!

And then…nothing.  No, I mean, nothing, for four days, not a single sale or KU read.  From doing better than the totality of my previous publication to zero activity.

But then something strange happened.  A coworker excitedly told me today that she had ordered and received two of the three books last week.  I frowned, went to my KDP dashboard, and found no print sales, at all, on or after the date that she had ordered them on.

I started looking at other numbers, and did some math, and realized that my ad campaign dashboard showed that I had made more sales than what was showing up on my sales and royalties dashboards.

A quick google search later, and I come to find out that this has been a known issue since September with KDP.  It’s entirely possible that there’s still activity going on, I just can’t see it.  At least, that’s my hope.

Crisis averted!  But it made me think…

Writing is Building a City, Not a House

I know, it sounds weird, but bear with me.

To the fine folks out there who are in construction, please forgive me as I over-simplify things here – building a house is relatively simple and quick.

Vancouver

A city takes years.  And years.  And lots of houses (among many other structures.)

For most writers, getting that first novel out there is a huge accomplishment!  Hard work, dedication, perseverance (aka stubbornness) have produced a product you’re proud of!

But, unless you’re one of those lucky/talented few, that’s not enough.  Sure you’ll hook some readers and all…but it takes more than that to build a city.

It takes time.  Lots of time.  And more than one book.  I keep seeing a ‘magic number’ online, 3 books to start getting a following.  And honestly, I’m not sure if Orc War Campaigns counts, being an anthology of short stories.

Either way, I saw a lot of positive results at initial launch, and I’ve received positive feedback, and even heard from folks who say they haven’t had a chance to buy yet, but will be within the next week or two as funds allow.

So I’ve had to remind myself, and am reminding all of my fellow writers out there: if you really really want to make it as a writer, remember that it’s going to be a rocky start.  You need more books.  You need to work on getting your name out there.  But you also need to allow for the seed you’ve planted with your first couple books to grow.  And it’ll take time.

Keep at it.  Stay passionate.  Try not to despair.  Glitches in the Matrix aside, you may be surprised what happens in the long run.

Writing is not a game for those who want instant gratification.

But damn is it worth it! :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Sword of Dragons Triple Book Release Today!

Hi everyone, it’s here!!  The day has arrived, and three books in the Sword of Dragons series are available in print and Kindle!  :D  Click the covers below or the links beneath them to go to their store pages!

Artwork by Vuk Kostic

Click here for Rise of the Forgotten – The Sword of Dragons book 1 on Kindle
Click here for Rise of the Forgotten in print!

Artwork by Vuk Kostic.

Click here for the short story anthology The Orc War Campaigns on Kindle
Click here for The Orc War Campaigns in Print!

Artwork by Vuk Kostic

Click here for Burning Skies – The Sword of Dragons book 2 on Kindle
Click here for Burning Skies in print!

I hope you all enjoy, and I look forward to hearing from all of you about your experiences reading them :)

There’s more to come, including an interview on Show-X this coming Sunday.  Check back here again tomorrow for details!

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

The Sword of Dragons – 2nd Edition Cover Reveal!

Hi everyone, today is gonna be one jam-packed blog!  It’s been over a year in the making, but the 2nd editions of the first two novels in the Sword of Dragons series, along with the print edition of the Orc War Campaigns anthology, finally have a release date!  This also means that I finally show off the covers!

If you’re new to my blog, a long time ago I announced that I was working towards this goal.  One of the many changes in the 2nd edition was a unique title for the first book, previously just titled “The Sword of Dragons.”  Now it is known as “Rise of the Forgotten”!

So without further ado, I give you book 1’s new cover!  (Click image for larger version)

Rise of the Forgotten full cover! Artwork by Vuk Kostic

But wait, there’s more!  As I said, this is a triple-book release event!  So I now give you the cover art for Burning Skies:

Burning Skies Full Cover. Artwork by Vuk Kostic

And finally, the one cover I’ve given no hints or previews to whatsoever over the past year, the cover for The Orc War Campaigns:

The Orc War Campaigns Full Cover! Artwork by Vuk Kostic.

One of the things I’m hoping you’ll notice right off the bat is that the artwork is a similar style across all three.  In my search for cover art, I was fortunate enough to find an artist on Shutterstock named Vuk Kostic whose artwork was exactly what I was looking for, and he has posted copious amounts of artwork with dragons!  So it gives me a large pool to choose from :)

I am very happy to have spent the money to purchase the rights to utilize his artwork, and at least for the time being, I plan to utilize his artwork for all future Sword of Dragons covers.  I highly recommend checking out his Shutterstock page to see what else he has, he’s a fantastic artist!

There’s been far more done to the books than just shiny (actually matte) new covers!  I have proofread all three books several times over the past year and found numerous items to change, some of which I noted in my previous blog.  The pacing and flowing should be a lot better, and this will make them even more enjoyable to read :)

Not to mention maps!  There are maps inside the books!!!

Release Date Announced

Even better news, I’ve officially settled on a release date for all three books…and it’s just around the corner!  Drum roll, please….

November 16th, 2018

Yup, you read that correctly, this coming Friday!

Image Source – http://survivor-org.wikia.com/wiki/File:1723893-875275-firework-streaks-in-night-sky-celebration-background.jpg

In fact, as soon as Amazon approves everything, the Kindle editions will be available for pre-order!  I’ll update my facebook author’s page as soon as I get notification with links to where you can go to pre-order!

Unfortunately KDP has no method for allowing pre-orders of the print editions, but fear not!  As soon as I possibly can, this Friday I will post links to them once they are available!

Thank You Followers and Fans

I want to thank all of you, my readers, my fans, everyone.  This has been a tremendous effort that has been on top of considerable life changes.  Since I began this undertaking, I lost my Mom, married my wonderful Starshine, and moved.  Through it all, I’ve received nothing but encouragement and support from everyone.

It means the world to me.  I hope you all feel like this was worth it, and I hope you enjoy.  I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say about them!!

Thank you for reading :)
-Jon Wasik

So It Begins – Return of the Author!

Hi everyone!

I’m back!  …….I know, I know, it’s been a long time.  I’m so sorry!  I don’t usually like making excuses, but I feel like I owe at least a quick explanation.

It boils down to life being busy and the need to work on writing, or more to the point, proofreading and editing.  I know that writing a blog doesn’t take a long, long time out of each week, but given how little time I’ve had to work on anything writing related, those extra minutes or couple of hours have been precious.

Rise of the Forgotten

But it was well worth it.  Because three novels will be available very soon!  I’ve finished all proofreading and editing on all three novels, gotten two proof copies (and found changes needed on the covers,)  and now ordered what I hope will be the final proof copies of all three novels!

What that means is cover reveals may finally be coming!  Hopefully as soon as next weekend!!!!

Having said all of that, I wanted to get back a little bit to this blog’s roots and talk about some of what I’ve learned these past few months about my writing style, and the changes I’ve noticed.

Editing Through The Years

Cover by Christian Michael

Editing these three books has been a unique and eye-opening experience, because each of these three were written several years apart!  Rise of the Forgotten was written over the course of several, several years, and I believe the first ‘final’ draft was completed in 2013 or so.  Burning Skies was finished I think around 2014, and then Orc War Campaigns in 2016.

Going through and doing a renewed proofread on all three in a row, I’ve discovered just how much my writing has evolved and improved over the years.  Why do I say that?  Well, let me put it this way.  As I went through and proofread each one, I dog-eared every page that needed work.  And as you can see in the picture below…Rise of the Forgotten needed a TON of work, Burning Skies far less, and Orc War Campaigns very, very little (click the picture to see it larger)

From Top to Bottom: Rise of the Forgotten, Burning Skies, The Orc War Campaigns

And most of it had to do with resolving writing style issues, word choice, sentence structure…some of the choices I made in books 1 and even 2, I read and go “What the hell was I thinking back then??  That’s a terrible way to write that scene!”

I also cut a lot back.  In fact, in both books 1 and 2, I completely cut out entire paragraphs, because they were completely useless paragraphs and they only slowed the story down!

And I, erm, “began to notice” a common issue in my earlier writing…

So It Began

“Cardin Began to move…”

“Sira started to look around.”

“Reis began to sit up.”

“Kailar began to draw her sword.”

Just a small sample of what I found.  Everyone ‘began’ to do things, no one actually did anything.  And I spent a lot of time and effort fixing this issue in each manuscript (but far more often in books 1 and 2, almost no instances of that in Orc War Campaigns.)

Changing “Cardin began to move” to something as simple as “Cardin moved” or even better, “Cardin ambled over.”  Word choice that moves the story forward actively rather than ‘starts to’ move the story forward  but doesn’t actually do it.

That was perhaps the single-most annoying aspect of my older writing style that I found.  Hopefully I caught all examples of it and fixed them all :)

That’s all I have for today, folks!  Check back next weekend for news on the new books, including hopefully cover reveals and, if all goes well, release  dates!

-Jon Wasik