As of today, my triple-book release is nine days old! Still very new :) But now that all of the hard creation process is done (you know, writing, editing, creating covers, formatting, etc), the truly hard part for me begins.
Marketing my books.
I would say “as a self published author, this is especially important,” but let’s be honest, this is vital for ANY author. You may have created this extremely awesome and wonderful book for people to read…but how do you get the word out?
With the original books 1 and 2, I fell considerably short in my efforts. And I didn’t take advantage of social media, which is probably one of my biggest mistakes.
I bought ads now and again on Amazon, but that was it, and I was never consistent. I got tables at conventions, gave my cards out to everyone I could, but that can only take you so far, and I’m starting to discover that handing your card out does very little (not to say I’ll stop doing that.)
So now I’m pushing harder, and trying things I hadn’t tried before for marketing.
Among them? Facebook and instagram ads. I just started them after a photo session of the eBook editions (thank you to my wife Beck for taking and editing this photo, it turned out beautifully,) so we’ll see if it works out. I also updated my facebook author’s page with a ‘shop now’ button and tagged my products, which is a feature I never knew you could do!
I’m also heavily pushing my first book on Amazon ads.
Already I’m quite happy with how the books are doing in the Kindle Unlimited store. I’ve had record numbers of reads for multiple days! Each book is already doing far better than the previous books ever did. Hopefully I can keep this going and build some more momentum!
I cannot over emphasize how important marketing is to success with your books. Don’t spend so much time and effort on it that you never get your next book written, but don’t dismiss it, ESPECIALLY if you’re a debut author and no one knows your name yet. Get the word out. Get your name out there.
And then get to work on your next book! Because if you hook readers, they’re gonna want more!
I’ve done a lot of the back-end work for marketing now, so I feel like I’m ready to focus on book 3 of the series again. In fact, this week I already started work on it again! But more on that later :)
For now, I hope the beginning of everyone’s holiday season has gone well!
If any of you went looking for the print editions of my new novels, you may have had difficulties during certain times…Amazon KDP was extremely delayed and kept encountering issues in which the books disappeared from amazon.com and then reappeared later.
They’re finally settled in, and available for purchase along with the Kindle editions! And if you want both, be sure to buy the print edition first, as you then get a significant discount on the kindle edition!
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!
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)
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:
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:
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!
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!!
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.
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
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)
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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!
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.