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, 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!
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 :)
Recently the news exploded with the announcement that Barnes and Noble laid off almost every single full-time employee. Worse than that, they gave no notice – employees came in on a Monday to start their week, and were told to go home.
Hearing this news, the very first thought I had was “They’re following Wal-Mart’s employment change from years ago: only hire part-time so that you don’t have to give them benefits or insurance.” I almost wouldn’t even blame them if that was the case, given how terrible things have become in the United States for medical insurance.
But to let everyone go with no notice, pitiful if any severance, and ‘a chance to apply in a couple months as a part-time, minimum wage employee.’ If that isn’t a slap in the face to those who worked it as a career, I don’t know what is.
However, it gets worse. Many seem to think that this is another sign of the coming end of Barnes and Noble. This article is just one of many I’ve found that posits this inevitable future. The going thought is that Barnes and Noble are trying to liquidate as much money as they can as quickly as they can prior to closing down.
If that’s true, if Barnes and Noble is about to die…what does that mean for writers? Especially self-published writers? What does that mean for readers?
Is this the end of print books? I don’t think so, I still believe that the balance that seems to have been found between print and eBook will remain relatively stable. Especially with the fact that Amazon is opening physical book stores.
But then…where do we go to get books? In many larger cities as well as small touristy towns, there are independent book stores, but their offerings rarely match what Barnes and Noble used to have, or what Waldenbook/Borders used to have before they died.
Which kind of leaves it all on Amazon. Possibly the best place for authors to sell from, and the best place for readers to buy from.
…which gives Amazon an incredible power. They can single-handedly shape the future of reading and writing, if they choose to. There has already been anti-competetive controversies surrounding Amazon (there’s even a dedicated wikipedia page about those practices!)
Granted there are a lot of other choices out there for eBook selling besides B&N and Amazon, but then Amazon doesn’t want you to go to them, so they offer benefits of remaining exclusive to them for eBook sales, on top of the fact that they have a greater reach than most, if not all other venues.
I’ve heard it many times from other Self-published authors, they despise some of Amazon’s practices, but publish through them because they feel it is the only realistic way to get their product out to the most people. Whether or not that is actually accurate is up for debate, I know at least one of my friends who is really good with spreadsheets and numbers has experimented a lot with exclusivity vs. casting as wide a net as possible.
But the fact remains that if B&N dies, which seems likely, it will give Amazon greater power over both print books and eBooks.
I honestly don’t know at this point if that is good news or bad news for writers and readers…
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.””
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
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.
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.
Due to the busy schedule ahead of us and the upcoming U.S. holiday, I won’t be able to write a blog today, and I probably won’t be able to next weekend either :( I’m really sorry!
However, I wanted to leave you all with some good news and with a question!
First the good news: I’ve completed the final edits for Rise of the Forgotten! I’m really excited about this, because there’s not much left for me to do before I can setup and order a proof copy! I’ve already purchased the license for cover art for books 1 through 3 and the cover art for Orc War Campaigns, so all I have left to do is finalize the maps!
And one other thing to finish, a part I’m struggling with…the “About The Author” page. I don’t like what I’ve written in the 1st editions of books 1 and 2, but I don’t know how to re-write it. I’ve already had one friend give me really good suggestions on facebook, but, my question to you all:
What are some of your favorite “About The Author” pages that you’ve read before? Or, if you’re a writer, what have you written for yours in the past?
Thanks for reading, and to those celebrating this weekend, Happy Thanksgiving!
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.