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!
I’m excited to write this blog post today, because I’ve been hinting around my new writing project for some time, but I’ve not actually made any official announcements.
As many of you know, my life has been extremely crazy and busy lately, between moving, wedding plans, and work going through a busy period, so I knew I was not going to get the 3rd book of Sword of Dragons finished in time for its planned release.
In fact, I’ve not had a chance to really focus on writing the 3rd book at all, I don’t have the time to devote to it. But with all of my conversations with my fiancee about book covers, and all of the research I’ve done online, I knew there was a project I could do that would allow for very short spurts of work on it between the busy times.
The Sword of Dragons novels have all received high praise from those who have read it, but getting people to give it a chance has been a difficult task. All of my market research and discussions with other authors and my fiancee point to several factors, including but not limited to the cover.
As such, I am officially working on the 2nd edition of books 1 and 2 of the Sword of Dragons series!
What does a 2nd edition mean? More than just a new cover. A whole lot more! But let’s start there.
The New Covers
As I talked about in my last blog, I’ve learned that keeping marketing in mine from the get go has been important. This was a key focus for when I started working on new covers for books 1 and 2 while also planning covers for book 3 and for The Orc War Campaigns. I wanted to create a theme that could be carried through all 4 books, as well as be something I could carry into the rest of the series beyond book 3.
My focus on marketing this time around actually was a big help in coming up with the final cover layout for the entire series! I also followed the advice of publishers, editors, and cover artists, and created multiple versions for each novels’ cover, and then worked with several people to decide which one worked best, and even how to make the chosen one for each book better.
This involved sending the version to everyone helping me, as well as following my fiancee’s advice and taking a screenshot of an Amazon page, and editing in the versions of my cover to see which stood out best, and how my improvements to them changed how it popped on Amazon.
The result? 4 very amazing covers! That I can’t reveal just yet.
*ducks* Hey don’t throw things at me! ;) But seriously, I am not yet ready to reveal the covers. What I can tell you is test prints have turned out amazing, and even Christian, the man who made the cover for book 1, agrees that the new cover scheme is well done and works well with my genre.
Where did I get the cover art? That was where a ton of my time was spent: looking for cover art. And I ended up finding a cover artist on some stock photo websites who has done several pieces of dragon artwork that is stylistically similar. This allowed me to find 4 pieces of cover art that are stylistically similar, and I have knowledge that there is plenty more for me to use for future books.
The best part is, being stock art, I can buy the rights to use them on the novel. No legal issues, no ‘I hope they don’t realize I used their art without permission.’ I’ll have followed all proper procedures and will have legally procured the rights.
However, before I did purchase the rights, I took the watermarked, low-res versions of the artwork and made test covers, then printed them out to ensure they would look good. This is a method I intend to use from here on out, to ensure that I don’t spend money on cover art that I end up never using. I am, after all, working on a very limited budget.
Maps Will Finally Be Included!
I’ve heard it from countless readers: maps are a must! So the 2nd edition of books 1 and 2, and all future volumes of Sword of Dragons will include maps. I’ve had physical copies for a while, but haven’t had a chance to get them scanned, and a visit a couple months ago to Office Depot to get them scanned was highly disappointing, resulting in totally useless files.
Thanks to Wayne Adams from VtW Productions, I was able to get high-res scans finished last weekend. This means I now have digital copies to edit and prepare. These will first be made available on the website, http://www.theswordofdragons.com/, but will also be included in the novels. I hope this will be a big help to everyone who reads the novels!
My original plan with the 2nd editions was to do another set of proofreads to catch any spelling or grammar issues. As I started on book 1, it became very clear that my first published novel was in need of some serious TLC beyond copy-edit.
I am not changing the story, but I am fixing up how the story is told. Sometimes this means very few changes, but sometimes this means entire paragraphs are rewritten.
My beta readers have read through the rewrite of chapter 1 and thoroughly enjoy the changes, while noting that even though they have read the original version several times, the changes weren’t distracting. In fact, this is what I am working on right now, and am about 1/3rd through book 1.
Furthermore, Wayne and 2 of his friends have volunteered to perform copyediting on books 1 and 2! So this will further ensure a polished edition :)
But…book 1. Hmm. The Sword of Dragons book 1. Naw, that needs a better title.
Naming Book 1
When I first prepared book 1 for publication, Christian insisted that I should give book 1 its own unique title, different from the series title. I didn’t listen. And now I regret that decision.
So that will be part of the change in the 2nd edition. Book 1 officially has its own title! *drum roll*
Rise of the Forgotten
It fits quite well, not just in a big way, but in many small ways :) Plus, giving book 1 a unique title has allowed me to keep a theme for the covers of all novels. (And yes, I just showed you a sneak-peak of book 1’s cover ;) )
Those are all of the big changes coming in the 2nd edition! “What about book 3” you might ask? Well, that already has a title and a cover! But I still need to finish the actual manuscript. The Orc War Campaigns also has a cover, but again, I need to finish edits on it before it is ready for release.
“When will these be released?” I do not yet have a timeline for that, and I’m hesitant to try to set one at the moment. There’s still too much going on in my life to be able to predictably work on the edits. But I am working as diligently as possible, and I am looking forward to revealing more as time goes on!
I hope with these 2nd editions to please the fans I already have with a nice, polished, worthwhile product, while also attracting new readers!
Just a quick post tonight, I do so apologize, but great news! Want to hear more about Burning Skies? I’ll be on VtW Productions’ Show X again!!! In fact, I’ll be on the show this Sunday, 10 July 2016!
Wayne and Ken have always been gracious enough to feature my books, and I’m looking forward to continued shenanigans and great conversation! So tune in Sunday at 12 Noon Mountain timezone, 6PM GMT (aka 1800z). The best place to watch is via YouTube, they always broadcasts the show live! Click here to go to the VtW Productions channel on youtube.com!
The trick, of course, is going to be talking about Burning Skies without giving away the worst of the spoilers ;)
Do you have questions you’d like me to answer about Burning Skies? Or about my writing in general? Questions about self-publishing? Anything and everything?! Then this is your lucky weekend! You can submit questions to the show that I will happily answer! Just send your questions into email@example.com
I have some exciting news: I’ll be interviewed on VtW Production’s Show X once again this coming weekend! :D Hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Wayne (and he has the hair to prove it ;) ) and his co-host Ken, Show X is a podcast dedicated to everything geek related. While the website itself says it focuses on technology and games, pretty much anything geek goes (which is why a fantasy writer like me is welcomed in :D )
So check us out this Sunday, 24 January at 2PM EST, 7PM GMT (for those who live in the mountain time zone with me, that’s Noon :) ). We’ll of course talk a bit more about where I’m at with the Sword of Dragons series, but there will also be lots of fun geekery involved!
To make your lives easier, here are links to where you can listen or WATCH the show live! Yes, you can watch it as it airs :D
To listen, go to http://www.vtwproductions.com/ and on the left side there will be an audio play button, just click that a couple minutes before the show starts, and you should be good.
In about 10 hours where I live, 2015 will officially be over. And what a year it has been. It was one of the most exciting years of my life, and simultaneously one of the most difficult. But rather than spend an entire post reminiscing on the past, I want to only briefly touch on it…and then look forward.
For that is what many consider to be the best part about a new year: starting with a blank slate. Leaving the past behind, and marching courageously into a brave new future.
2015 – The Year I Became Published
Without a doubt, my greatest triumph this year was publishing The Sword of Dragons. My first published novel!!! :D Even now, it feels almost unreal. I’ve been writing for nearly 20 years, so to finally have a book out there…it is just an incredible feeling.
While sales did not end up being what I hoped, they have begun to pick up again as word is finally starting to spread. And I end 2015 with more copies in the hands of readers than I anticipated!
All in all, so much good happened this year. While heartbreak overshadowed much of the 2nd half of the year, even that has subsided, and I am glad to say that I am in a happy relationship with a wonderful, gaming-geek, sci-fi/fantasy loving, gorgeous woman :)
Triumphs were made, hard lessons were learned, but in all, I look back at 2015 in awe…
While 2015 saw the publication of my first novel, I am stepping up my game a bit for 2016. Coming in January, I am going to start releasing, free of charge, a series of short stories set in the Sword of Dragons universe called the Orc War Campaigns. These stories take place right after the first novel, and will lead into the 2nd novel, Burning Skies.
As long-time readers of my blog know, Burning Skies is already written and proofread, all that’s missing is a cover. Which brings me to another goal I have for early 2016 – crowdfunding for book 2. More details will be coming on that soon :)
Other goals: I am looking into attending more conventions, including possibly getting a booth at them to sell my books. I also am looking into a book signing at one of my favorite coffee shops in the area :D and I also wish to start getting The Sword of Dragons on actual bookshelves, via consignment. Local to Denver, the Tattered Cover supports local authors in this manner, and will also host book signings :D
And finally, something I have slacked on for over a year – I wish to focus more on the blog community. While I’ve tried to be consistent on getting content onto my own blog, I have not participated in many other blog communities like I did in 2014. There are so many incredible and wonderful people out there that I met in 2014, and I wish to regain contact with them, and meet more!
The hard part will be time, all of this will require so much time, and that has been my biggest bane this year. My life has become increasingly busy, and I’ve had to make sacrifices in areas that I wish I had not been forced to.
In a way, I wish we still lived in an era of patrons of the arts. Hey, anyone out there want to become my patron, so I can quit my I.T. job and write for a living? ;)
That seems like a lot of big goals, with a lot of work ahead of me. Whew. But I’m determined, and with clear-set goals, perhaps I can reach them.
Final Thank You To All of You!
To anyone who is reading this, thank you for following my blog, for any past comments, and for all of the encouragement so many of you have given in 2015.
When I was a little kid and first dreamt of becoming a writer, I never could have imagined how there is sooooo much more to it than just writing.
Don’t get me wrong, writing is very important. I’ve spent 20 years honing my craft, and I intend to never stop striving to be better, no matter how good I become. If I somehow become the #1 best selling fantasy author in the world (if only) I will never stop trying to one-up my writing style, my stories. I want to be better.
But 7 months after publishing The Sword of Dragons, one thing has become very, very clear to me – writing is only part of the job.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I had published via the traditional method: found an agent, who found a publishing house, who paid me up-front for my work and helped with a lot of the ‘other stuff.’ That still would have left me with a lot of work to do.
As the author of my novels, I am the one best qualified for promoting it, and I believe that rings true for all writers. You know your target audience. You know your novel. You know its strengths, its highlights, what makes it worth reading.
But promoting it, and building a platform, is in and of itself is a full-time job, I’m discovering. And right now, I still suck at all of that, lol. Seriously, I would never have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for the advice and help of people like Wayne Adams, M. H. Lee, and Christian Michael.
But there’s still so much more to do, so much more that can be done. As I prepare to launch the Orc War Campaigns web series, my shortcomings are becoming even more apparent.
Challenges of the New Series
The story is turning out beautifully, in my opinion (hopefully my beta readers will agree :) ). Where it is now, where I plan to take it, it will make an excellent addition to the SoD universe (not to mention free to read!)
But how do I build up anticipation? I’ve tried to do so here on my blog, but I feel like I’ve fallen short. I’ve wanted to put more about it on the SoD website, but I’m struggling with how to present it there. And I need to do at least something to help present it graphically on the website, but once again, I’m struggling.
The first three stories are pretty much ready to go. Some final tweaks, that’s it. In fact I consider the first story, “Invasion,” completed and ready for public consumption! But presentation is important. I can’t just put it on a file upload and say “here ya go, folks, enjoy!” It deserves more than that, and so do the fans.
Which is why I made the decision (but never officially announced it until now) that the web series will not be launched this month. I am instead aiming for early to mid January. Nebulous, I know :( But with the first 3 ‘episodes’ all but complete, my focus for the next two weeks is creating a platform from which to launch :D
Not All is Lost
While I’ve struggled considerably with the ‘business side’ of writing, it has not been a complete failure. Sales are up! :D Almost all have been eBook, but there were even more print sales this month than the prior 4!
And this is the coolest part – it is safe to say that I have fans. :D Fans who are supportive, excited for the series, and bugging me almost every week for updates on the release of book 2. (For the record, I love being bugged about that, it inspires me to keep moving forward!)
So in light of all of this, and in light of the fact that I have achieved more than enough sales to be considered a member of RMFW’s IPAL (though I must now put in the paperwork for that), I am comfortable in calling the release of my first novel a success! And while I cannot yet live off of writing, this has turned out to be a giant step in the right direction.
And you know what? I have all of you, those who have followed my blog, read my book, and encouraged me, to thank for that success. Thank you everyone for a successful, life-changing first year!!
(Note: this will not be the last blog entry of the year. Stay tuned for more!)
Plus, it was soooooo needed. A weekend away from everything else, just hanging out with fellow geeks, gaming, drinking, and all around having fun! While yes, it was a LAN party, it was so much more than that. Half of the time, I was upstairs getting to know all of these amazing people, folks I wish I’d met a long time ago.
Fellow Geeks of the World – Unite!
I am not exaggerating – every single one of the persons I met this weekend are truly amazing – full-on geeks who are not afraid to show it, confident and fun-loving. No joke, I found out that there is an actual training academy in the Denver area for learning how to fight with a lightsaber!
From computer engineers to nurses, people from every facet of life came together for the common cause of gaming and enjoying one another’s company. Not to mention twister!
I also discovered the amazingly fun, but oh-so inappropriate game known as Cards Against Humanity. So much fun that we stayed up until about 4AM playing!! (Warning – not a game for kids, or for the easily-offended!)
Plus we had some amazing cooks at the party! Sure there was plenty of junk food – pizza, candy, chips, salsa. Oh but the salsa wasn’t just store-bought, Wayne made some home-made in a crock pot. And then there were home-made cupcakes. And chicken dumplings. Sooooo much good food everywhere!
The Games of Gamefest
Then there was the gaming. Upstairs was an awesome rig setup for Rock Band, so I got to rediscover drumming (and learned I am embarrassingly out of practice!) Downstairs, well, lots and lots of incredible machines chugging away at some fantastic games, almost all of which I had never played before.
Including the new Star Wars Battlefront beta!!
While full of glitches, it IS the beta. The graphics were amazing, and the gameplay was intense! It was also the first time I’d ever played a game that actually required you to download the latest drivers for your video card, they wanted to ensure as few problems as they could.
The downside, though, was that the ability to get into the same game as your group of friends was glitchy, at best. I hope they fix that in the final release!
We also played a fair bit of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, a game I had never played before. I learned very quickly that whatever skills I thought I had in FPS games, they were nothing compared to these veterans!
In fact, if I had to come up with a kill ratio, I’d say it was probably 10 of my deaths to one kill. :-/ But the most important part was that it was a blast, and playing the game with these awesome folks meant that no one was childish about it, and we all had fun, no matter our skill level!
And finally, there was Tribes: Ascend. I had never played Tribes before, but THIS was a fun game. Seriously, check it out, and make sure you look into learning the ski function in it – that’s what sets it apart!
We also played a bit of Left 4 Dead 2, that was so much fun to have a full 4v4 team going! I love playing the monsters in the game, heheh. I also saw others playing Wareframe, which has sparked my curiosity into it.
Then I was introduced to Chris Roberts’s newest upcoming, totally crowd-funded game Star Citizen. This is an incredibly ambitious video game in the works, and the results are already amazing!
Imagine hopping into your ship, heading into battle with some friends. There’s a large enemy ship. Want to capture it? Board it, hop out of your ship, grab your gun, and begin the invasion. I really want to look into it some more, I only saw glimpses, but the details and the mechanics seemed really awesome.
An Exaustingly Relaxing Weekend
Little sleep, lots of fun, and a fair bit of alcohol – this was a totally exhausting weekend. And yet, I’ve come out of it feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long time. For a couple of days, the past several months of trials and hardships were forgotten, and my nearly-depleted energy levels were refilled.
So kudos out to VtW Productions, to Wayne, and to everyone I met at Gamefest (You owe me a rematch, Lt4ork!! ;) ) Thank you all for an awesome weekend, and I look forward to seeing you all again!
Thanks for reading,
PS: Gamer Geeks ;) (Thanks Tara for posting this image!)
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.