Category Archives: Self-Publishing

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

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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

Go For It, Even If You Don’t Believe In Yourself

Hi everyone, I’m back!

Photo by Danielle Lirette

Our wedding was wonderfully geeky, and we were very fortunate to have some incredible people participate in it and help us out!  It turned out to be a perfect day, with weather better than predicted, and nothing major going wrong.

However, I want to tell the story with pictures, and our photographer is still working to get our photos to us (the preview pictures she has shown us are incredible!)  But what I wanted to talk about today crosses from my wedding day to writing, and why you should never give up on yourself…

I Thought I Would Always Be Alone

My best friend (and best man) reminded me of something during the reception: when I was younger, I had a dream of a woman who was perfect for me.  My definition of what that might entail evolved over the years as I grew and changed as a person, but I knew what I wanted…

Image source – google.com

And as time passed, and rejections from women grew in number, I started to despair.  I started to believe that I was unlovable.  This led me to some pretty bad relationships that only reinforced my belief that I was unworthy.

…but I kept trying anyway.  I kept searching, even though I didn’t think anyone would ever think I was worth loving.  As the years and years and years passed, no matter how much I was rejected or how many bad dates I went on, even surviving an emotionally abusive relationship, I kept trying.

Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.

And then she was there.  The one who would one day become my wife.  Of course I didn’t know it at the time, and I remember thinking, even when I asked if I could add her to my Facebook, “she won’t ever be interested in me.”

That led to friendship…which 4 months later led to dating, and six months later led to engagement, and a year and 3 months later, marriage.

After more than two decades of searching and dating and trying and failing and being rejected, I finally found what I had searched for.  Someone who loved me, who believed I was worth loving.  And when I realized this last week, I knew that I had to pass the message on to everyone else…

Keep Going.  Never Give Up.  Even If You Don’t Believe

The same goes for writing.  Hell, the same goes for everything in life, but since this is a writing blog, let’s focus on that.

Writers get rejections, from agents and editors.  But does that mean you’re unworthy, that your stories aren’t worthy, and you should stop trying?  If JK Rowling had stopped trying after her first couple of rejections, Harry Potter would not be the phenomenon that it is today.

Writers get bad reviews, on Amazon and everywhere else.  Does this mean that their novel is really horrible and not worth reading?  If you get a few bad reviews, should you take it to heart and stop writing?  Everyone gets bad reviews.  Every book.  Take a look at your favorite book on Amazon, no matter how good it is, and you’ll find one-star reviews.  Even Ready Player One, which is now a major motion picture making millions, got one-star reviews.

What if you get published, or are self-published, and your books aren’t selling well?  Should you just…stop?  No.  First, harkening back to a blog I wrote about an author who re-branded his books, his initial publication was getting him few sales.  When he learned from his mistakes and re-branded his book, he started selling thousands of copies.

If you don’t believe in yourself, but you’re still passionate, GO FOR IT!  Don’t stop!!!  Keep doing it, if for no other reason than your love of it, your passion, your desire to make it, your desire to write and get readers.

Keep.  Going.

Because even if it takes decades, one day, whether you believe in yourself or not, someone else might.  And then your books will sell.  And you’ll write more.  And more.  And more.  And before you know it, you’ve achieved your ultimate goals.

The other option is to give up.  But then you’ll be left wondering for the rest of your life, “What if?”

Photo by my new Mother-in-Law :)

If I gave up…I’d never have met my Starshine.  Never would have asked for her hand in marriage.  Never cried the happiest tears of my life when I watched her walk down the aisle towards me.

What might you risk never seeing if you give up?

What might you never get to experience if you don’t try?

“What if I fail?”  Rubbish question.  “What if I succeed?”  Now that is a question worth pondering…

Self-Publishing and Marketing – T-Shirts and more!

Hi everyone!

If you talk to just about any business person, most of them agree on one thing – marketing is vital to the survival of most businesses!  But what is marketing, exactly?  And how does it apply to self-published writers?

The initial answer seems obvious – pay for advertisements.  Amazon KDP and KDP Select is probably most self-published authors’ best avenue, though it isn’t the only one.

However, there’s more that a writer can do than just paid ads, and I myself am brewing up plans for future marketing efforts!  Not to mention, in today’s blog, a very special reveal is at hand…  ;)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First lets talk about a couple of other marketing actions you can take as a writer.

T-Shirts!

Yes, you read right.  T-Shirts.  T-Shirts can be one of the best marketing tools you have outside of internet ads, and it can be surprisingly affordable!

For me, initially it was just an idea to wear a shirt myself with my novel’s cover on it, but you can use them in more ways.  Have a pre-order going through a venue like Kickstarter?  Make a t-shirt one of the tiered bonuses!  Got a table at a convention?  Have some t-shirts on hand to sell or even give away as part of a bonus if they buy your entire set or something.

Or even just have a method of selling them to any would-be hardcore fans!

If you’re thinking to yourself “I’m a no-name author, why would anyone want to buy a shirt of my books?”  You might be surprised.  Someone somewhere could fall in love with your novels, and want to proudly show off their fandom!  But they can’t do that unless you have a way for them to do so.

And one thing I will say: make sure the shirt is incredible and eye catching, just like your cover should be!  Sure you could take your front cover and slap it onto a T-Shirt and voila, insta-fan-material.  However, my friends at Guildhall Galatea and Color Me Impressed have shown me the value of a design geared towards a T-Shirt, rather than a book cover, and the results speak for themselves!

Not only am I excited to wear the shirt, but I’m hoping people may want to order some for themselves!

And yes, you’re seeing that right…while not the full cover, you just got to see more of the cover for the upcoming “Rise of the Forgotten,” the 2nd edition of book 1 of the Sword of Dragons series!!!  :D :D :D

Maps and More!

When I was a teen, I remember buying the video game Everquest, one of the earlier MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.)  One of the coolest things that came with it was a cloth map of the world of Everquest!

I’ve since lost that cloth map :( But I never forgot it, and started collecting other fantasy maps, especially from the Elder Scrolls.  I’ve wanted to find a way to offer maps to readers (other than just including them in the books) and finally have an avenue.

Low resolution, low quality print test, but still impressive!

While chatting with the folks at Guildhall Galatea and Color Me Impressed, we started talking about possibly printing my maps on cloth.  I immediately loved the idea, so I  went right out and found some material that looked good, and we did a test print.  And while it is a low-res, small test print, I was highly impressed with the result!!  As such, full-sized, full resolution maps of Edilas and Devor will be printed soon :)

What can I do with these?  I’d love to either include them with box sets of the books, or find a way to have them on sale separately.  Plus, at conventions, they would help me stand out from all other other authors!  And if I really do a kickstarter as a way to preorder, then these maps can be one of the tiered rewards!

This is just the beginning, however.  I don’t want to say too much in case everything doesn’t work out, but there may be some other incredible goodies on the horizon to accompany the Sword of Dragons :D

That’s all I have for today, everyone, but I am so excited about all of this!  I hope you are too, and I hope my fellow authors out there get some ideas or inspiration from these examples

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Print vs. eBook – Marketing Focus

Hi everyone!

Last weekend, Beck and I attended the first annual WhimsyCon, a new Steampunk convention in Denver that essentially replaced the defunct Anomaly Con.  While we were there, we attended a few panels on writing, self-publishing, and story-building.

One of the panelists that we saw a few times was a self-published author who makes six figures a year!  Who wouldn’t want to do that with writing?  So we eagerly attended his panels.

For the most part, I was pleased to find out that Beck and I were already on the right track, with our rebranding and focus on marketing with my books.  One of the things I didn’t necessarily agree with, however, was his idea of ‘write and publish as much as possible.’  To the point that he is publishing well over a dozen fiction novels per year.  I’m curious if he’ll be able to maintain that pace for very long.

Image Source – http://www.buzzfeed.com

However, in all of the panels, including his, one thing came up that didn’t surprise me, but I’d never before considered with my own previous work…focus on eBook vs. print.

This author (and forgive me, I can’t remember his name…) pointed out that almost all of his sales were eBook.  A very, very, very small percentage of his sales were print.  And he even said that, ‘focus on eBooks’ and, unsurprisingly, he even suggested, “Amazon KDP for their KDP Select program, especially if you’re just starting out.”

It was around this time that I realized something…  I had focused most of my marketing on my print books for The Sword of Dragons.

And I realized that this probably was a mistake.

Why Was Print Important To Me?

Well, first of all, it still is…for one simple fact.  I love books.  I love physical books.  And all of my life, I’d dreamt of getting my books onto bookshelves.  In 2015, that dream became a reality.

But I still focused on it.  Still focused on getting people to buy printed editions.  Went to conventions to sell them (don’t worry, I still will :) ).  Urged people to buy them.

And I occasionally posted advertisements and sales on Kindle…whenever the whim struck me.

But I wanted my books to be read and to sit on bookshelves the world over!  I wanted to autograph them!  I wanted physical interaction, physical books, physical everything!

Why Should I Focus on eBook?

Because that’s frankly where the market has gone.  Not to say that I will not put out print editions or carry around printed editions to sell if I happen to run into someone who wants a copy.

A balance seems to have been struck between popularity of eBook vs. print, and I will always love and prefer physical books.  But what about the voracious readers, or as they called them in the panels, “serial readers,” the people who read an entire book every day?  Not only would buying printed books get expensive, but think of how much space they would need to store them?

Plus, as was noted in the panels, Kindle Unlimited is essentially the Netflix of books.  Pay a flat fee, and read as many books as you want.  It’s given voracious readers access to books at home unlike ever before.  Sure libraries are free, but if you found a book you wanted to read right now, and the library didn’t have it, you’d have to wait.  Or if you found an author you loved, but they only carried some of their books, you were out of luck, or at least had to wait for them to decide to bring in more of that author’s books.

Kindle Unlimited, it seems, is what is turning the tide in eBook’s favor.

And for self-published authors, it could very well be a good thing.  It gives the serial readers access to your books that they might never have had before.

Knowing that I hardly ever paid for advertising for The Sword of Dragons, I can tell you that when I first enrolled my books in KDP Select, I started seeing regular reads, which translated to regular royalties.  Granted, not a lot of money came in from that, but it was better than nothing.  And now that I’ve dropped my books out of KDP Select in anticipation of releasing the 2nd editions?  Nothing.

No sales.

That alone convinces me that, for a relatively unknown author like me, KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited is my best bet at getting people to give me a chance.

What Does This Mean About My Future Plans?

Rise of the Forgotten

Regarding my 2nd edition releases, and all future releases, well they’re still getting their physical copies.  I know that I’m not the only one in the world who loves physical books.  And if I can figure out how to sell it, I still want to sell a box set of the 2nd editions and The Orc War Campaigns.

However, I’ll also put more effort into the eBooks.  Last time I just let Kindle auto-convert my books to eBook format and did nothing else.  I didn’t inspect to ensure no conversion errors.  And as I already mentioned, I hardly paid for any advertisement.

That’s all going to change.  As I’ve said recently, it should be an author’s job to create the best product that they can, not just in quality of story and writing, but also in the actual product itself, its appearance.

I hope this is the right move.  I’m pretty sure it is :)

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik