Tag Archives: Burning Skies

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

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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

Don’t Rush – Patience with Publishing

Hi everyone!

When my wife and I returned from our honeymoon, one of the things I was most looking forward to was finally getting pre-orders up for my upcoming books, which also meant cover reveals!

…but then I realized right away, I wasn’t ready.  More to the point, my books aren’t ready.  When I put the 3 books up on kickstarter, I want it to be more than just “pick one or all three and go!”  I intend to have a box set, if that’s even possible, and I want that to be an option from the start.

But I haven’t finished editing The Orc War Campaigns, let alone have a physical copy with exact dimensions.  And in order to do a box set, I need to be able to order a custom-sized box.

That’s why I’m not ready.  I don’t even have a prototype ready of the box set.  I still don’t even know if it will be possible to make a box set.

So, I’ve decided to hold off on getting pre-orders out until I have everything ready.

Patience Goes A Long Way

Artwork by Lightspring

This is important to remember.  Some authors out there, especially self-published, will tell you “Just get your products out as fast as possible.”  And there is some wisdom in their thinking.  If you hook a reader, they’re going to want more to read, as fast as possible!  They might even demand it.  Truthfully, if you don’t publish as fast as they like, you might even lose some of them.  Maybe.

But if you just rush products out half-finished, you’re doing your readers a disservice.  They deserve more, yes, but they also deserve the best.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue to repeat it, because it is a lesson hard-learned over the past 3 years of self-publishing.

Make the best possible product that you can.  Make it worth investing in your work.

And whatever you do, don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Let me repeat that.

Do not make promises that you cannot keep.

I’m serious.  I’ve also made this mistake, promising stories in a timeline that I cannot keep to.

Just like you should with everything in life, set realistic goals, and keep to them.

Which brings me to an announcement I needed to make on this rather short blog entry today…

Intermittent Blog Posting

I’ve fallen behind on editing again.  And despite our wedding and honeymoon being over, we’re still very busy these days, for a multitude of reasons.  This is why my blog posting has continued to be intermittent.

And why it will stay that way for the time being.  I need to spend more time editing The Orc War Campaigns, so that I can then get a physical copy, and start final edits on all 3 books, and get a prototype of the box set made.  A lot of work yet to do for someone who usually can only devote 10 hours a week to writing, at best.

Blog writing only takes about 2 hours per week, which might not seem like much…but right now, every second I can snag to edit is precious.

As soon as I have more updates, I’ll be sure to post here.  I hope you all understand, and will continue to visit when new posts are made.

Thank you everyone for continuing to read, and continuing to be patient.  I’ll see you out there :)

-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

When Is It Time For A Cover Reveal?

Hi everyone!

I found myself struggling to come up with a blog article today, so the first thing I thought was, “Maybe it’s time to do a cover reveal for one of the new books!”

…but is it too soon to do that?

I honestly wasn’t sure what might be appropriate from a marketing point of view, so I decided to hit the search engines and start reading articles.  And pretty much immediately, the consensus was clear: not until your book is ready for pre-orders.

Do you agree?

Rise of the Forgotten

I’ve already done a partial reveal with the text on the titles, and I’ve received proof copies of Rise of the Forgotten and Burning Skies, both of which revealed a couple minor tweaks that are needed (and already fixed on the digital files.)  But should I wait for a complete reveal?

I think it makes sense to an extent.  That first impression can come with a buy impulse for a reader.  “That looks cool, I wanna buy that!”  So pre-orders would hopefully mount up.  Where as if I revealed the cover now, but pre-orders weren’t ready for another 4 or 5 months, people’s initial excitement might be long lost and pre-orders might be less than stellar.

So for the moment, I’m going to hold off on the cover reveal.

I want this release to be done right.  I want to learn from the mistakes I made in the past.  And I want to give my readers the best experience that I can.

What I can say is that I’m still strongly thinking about a pre-order bundle somehow that will include all 3 books (Rise of the Forgotten, Burning Skies, and The Orc War Campaigns) as well as a printed map, either of Edilas or of all of Halarite.

I’ve recently done just a test print on an 8.5×11 paper with an aged parchment effect, and I like it!  If a print service can do this larger, and on the right kind of paper, this would definitely make for a neat extra to throw in with pre-orders!

The only challenge I’m running into right now is a platform to sell the bundle through.  Etsy is a no-go because they only allow the sale of hand-crafted items, not printed books.  So I need to find a venue appropriate to such a sale, and eBay doesn’t strike me as appropriate.  Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

Thank You For Your Patience

Before I sign off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave me words of support last month after my Mother passed away.  You words warmed my heart.  :)  I went nearly a month without a new blog, but I’ve still been seeing visits, comments, and likes on past blogs, and I’m grateful to everyone.

See you all next week!

-Jon Wasik

Sustainable Writing and Publishing

Hi everyone, welcome to 2018!

What if I told you that writing as much as humanly possible and publishing as much as humanly possible…wasn’t necessarily the best way to go?

I’ve written before about all of the research I’ve done over the question ‘can you make a living as a writer?’ and I’ve learned so much about the industry.  And one of the things I’ve learned is that many of the new authors who make a living these days often do so through volume – they write and publish, a lot.

I should have dug deeper.  But then, the self-publishing market is kind of a new thing, relatively speaking.  Who knew where the trend was going to go?

In reading a recent blog article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which led me to another, and then to another, the market has matured, and many self-published authors are trying to write more to keep up.

Writers are getting burned out.  And many of the new big-hitters from the past decade have apparently disappeared.

Burnout can be a problem in any career, any job.  But Rusch made a very good point in her blogs:

“If you want to sustain your writing and publishing businesses, you have to stop thinking like a manufacturer. You need to start thinking like an artisan. By that I mean, you are “a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods.””

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

When I read that article, it made me think about my own experience turning out a novel in record time.  When I wrote Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, I developed, wrote, and put it through two rounds of editing/proofreading in 3 months.  I was proud of myself for that.

However, the product wasn’t the best it could be.  I finished it on a deadline to pitch it at a writer’s conference, and the pitch went well, but when the agent read the product itself, she said that it needed a lot of work.  And she was right.

More than that, I had spent every single night after work, and every single weekend day, working on it as much as I possibly could.  That on top of a full time job meant I had time for little else except the essentials (grocery shopping, etc.)  That kind of effort was unsustainable.  It was exhausting

Making the Strongest Product You Can

Writing fiction is an art.  This includes in the cinema, although Disney seems to have turned it into a manufacturing job based on their extremely aggressive Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars Universe release schedule.  To their credit, they have probably dozens of writers working on the stories.  But they’ve also run into problems (and thus keep having to fire directors and restart filming on Star Wars movies, always citing ‘creative differences.’)

For those of us who don’t have an entire team of writers at our beck and call, putting out a novel a month, even one every three months, is insane.  I’ve even read that many consider one per year to be aggressive for a single writer.

And when a writer burns out, there’s no one else around to pick up the slack for them.  Their business growth falters.  Their income slows or stops.  And if they didn’t plan ahead for that…they’re in trouble.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Photo Source – http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com

As Rusch stated, being a self-published writer is a marathon, not a sprint.  Sprinting is not sustainable long-term.  And I’ve come to understand (even if I unconsciously knew it before) that the only way to eventually ‘make it’ as a writer is to settle in for the long-haul.  And to not jump the gun.

I want to write full time, badly.  Writing is my passion.  That’s why I’ve been doing it for well over 20 years.  And I’ve come such a long way in the past 3 years.

I also have a long ways to go.  And sprinting to that finish line wouldn’t be the best idea in the world.  I’ll arrive exhausted, if I even make it there at all.  And then I won’t be able to keep going.

A novel in 3 months is impressive, but that novel won’t be ready for publication for a long time.  In the mean time, I have the Sword of Dragons series to finish.

Release Schedule?

One of the things I’m having to let go is the ability to have a dead-locked release schedule.  I originally had a plan to finish the Sword of Dragons series by 2020.  It’s now 2018 and I haven’t even finished writing book 3.

And that’s okay.  I’m going at the pace I can sustain while maintaining life and sanity.  Plus, more than ever, I’m convinced that my re-branding of the series is a worthwhile move.

Because it took me over 2 years to learn that releasing the best product that I can, rather than a mediocre product at a fast pace, is more important.

When a reader pays $15 for a print novel or $5 for an eBook, they’re investing more than just money – reading takes time.  And investment in the characters.  They’re taking a risk by buying your product, especially if they have never heard of you before, or your story.

So make it the best damn novel you can.  I don’t just mean the writing, either.  Make it the best product that you can.

And however long that takes is however long it takes.

-Jon Wasik

2017 Hardships, 2018’s Promises

Hi everyone!

7 hours from now (where I live,) 2017 will become a memory, and that memory is full of mixed feelings for me.  Some of my greatest joys, some of my hardest sorrows.  Today being the last day, I thought I would end things with my annual ‘glancing back, and looking forward’ blog :)

Writing Without Publishing

After two years in a row of publishing, 2017 was the first year where I didn’t publish a single new novel.  And for much of the 2nd half of 2017, that meant depression for me…I already had a plan moving forward for my writing career, but I knew nothing would be ready for publication in ’17.

However, a recent article I’ve read by another author has reminded me that there’s something more important than pumping out novel after novel like a factory.  Writing is an artisan career, and sustainable writing is more important than mass production.  But I want to spend an entire blog writing more on that.  For now, let me just pass on the word – you don’t have to write 20 novels a year to be a successful author.  That leads to burn out.  Just do the best you can, and don’t forget to live a little.

Burning Skies Cover Preview

On the bright side, I have made considerable headway this year, especially in the 2nd half, towards the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books 1 and 2, as well as finally getting the Orc War Campaigns anthology ready for print!

I’ve learned a lot about the market, far more than I ever anticipated, and I think I’m a little more prepared to move forward in my writing career in 2018.

Engage!

One of the greatest highlights of ’17 was the day I proposed to my beautiful Starshine, Beck Stewart!  Since that day, we have moved in together and begun living and planning our lives together.  After more than a year together, and nearly a year engaged, I am happier than I ever thought possible with my relationship.

Fellow author, artist, geek, and weird like me ;) She has been my rock, my muse, my voice of reason.  She’s helped me keep the demons back, helped my writing move forward, and encouraged me every single day.  Thank you, Moon of my Life!

2018 – Three Books At Once?!

Rise of the Forgotten

With everything I have learned about writing, marketing, and cover art, I came to a decision in the last couple months: when I release the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books, I plan to release them together, along with the Orc War Campaigns anthology.  That’s right, 3 books at one time!

As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually not a stretch, and in fact gives me the time I need to get everything prepared, and actually make the books look like they belong together, both with their covers and their interiors.

In fact, as of tomorrow, I’ll have finished editing Burning Skies!  At least, until I read through the proof copy.  I’m sure I’ll find more to fix with that.

But that’s my system – I have a proof of Rise of the Forgotten, and when I finish editing Burning Skies, I’ll order that proof while moving on to The Orc War Campaigns.  Once I finish that and order its proof, I’ll go back and read through Rise of the Forgotten’s proof copy, and so on.

When will these three be released?  I don’t know yet.  But I’m working quickly.

The Year I Get Married!

The first half of 2018 is going to be busy for another reason – my marriage is coming up fast!  And that means more and more of my time outside of work will need to be devoted to preparations.  I’m hoping I get proof copies of all 3 books before then, but I’m not going to rush.

That’s a difficult lesson 2016 and 2017 have taught me – rushing stories out isn’t the best idea.  Working under a deadline is one thing, but as I mentioned before, sustainable writing is more important.  I don’t want to burn myself out.

I know this is a writing blog, but I hope you all will understand if I indulge now and again and post news regarding my upcoming wedding :)

Happy New Year!

Thank you to everyone who visited in 2017!  Much to my surprise, my blog has received more new followers and views this year than in 2016, and I’m so glad you all have found your way here!

See you all next year!
-Jon Wasik