Categories
Authoring Promotion Writing Life

People Recommendations!

Writing is a solitary activity. Creating a book takes a village.

Getting my stories from draft to print takes loads of effort from many talented, dedicated, highly-skilled creatives. Somewhere along the line I fell out of the habit of shouting from the hilltops about the people who helped me bring six books from pixel-dreams to page-reality. It’s time for me to correct that error. Visibility matters.

Here be a list of professionals whose work I wholeheartedly, enthusiastically recommend:
(listed in reverse alphabetical order)

EDITING & DEVELOPMENT:

COVER ART & DESIGN:

CHARACTER ILUSTRATION & ART:

  • Dex Greenbright (yes, here too, he’s multi-talented)
  • Daniel Govar at danielgovar.com/
  • Many more great illustrators names are available on request. Check out the Character Art tabs in the site menu to see some of their work.

SOCIAL MEDIA REP:
Lauren Masterson: linkedin.com/in/lauren-masterson-199688108

NOTE1: Rave testimonials with specific details are available on request. (Such a request is what alerted me to my failure to provide praise on my own, in fact.)

NOTE2 : Apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten, and I probably have blanked on super important people because that’s how my brain doesn’t work sometimes. Some have been left off this list because they have moved on, moved up, changed priorities, & no longer do the kind of work they did for me–so it didn’t seem fair

NOTE3: I’ve also benefited from many supportive websites & social media resources. Too many, honestly, to list in full. Honorable mention to Writers Write on Facebook & the site NoWastedInk.com.

I’m wrapping there. What did I goof up or forget? Message me & I will fix any mistakes or oversights ASAP.

That’s it for this post. Until later!

Categories
Authoring nuts & bolts Writing Advice Writing Life

A little book update with crunchy numbers


It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming up on bookbabys 1-month birthday! Time sure does fly. How are things going? Glad you asked!

Does it seem like book promotion, silly memes, & writing are all I ever post on social media these days?

First, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is my first new book release in 4 years, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that playing with the baby is my whole life right now.

Second, congrats, you’re among the approximately 15% of my following that sees book posts! I get better engagement on my lunch photos. (unless I mention books or writing in them.) I’ve been posting a lot of shared memes lately because I have a Facebook surfing problem, but after Sharp Edge’s one-month birthday, the apps will get deleted from my devices & I’ll take time offline except for some scheduled book posts.

Which is all to say, the evil Facebook algorithms will disappear me from your newsfeed entirely, unless you like & comment on whatever posts FB deigns to show you. Just saying.

I’m committed to doing the whole transparency thing about my publishing experience, so I’m about to throw numbers out there. Skip down to the cute red panda pic if you aren’t interested in nuts & bolts.

Sharp Edge out-performed all its predecessors by a 3x multiplier. 32 copies was my previous first-week release record for a new title. Sharp Edge came in at 110 copies. Is that good? That depends. For me? Absolutely yes!!! I’m over the moon ecstatic about achieving triple digits. But in a strictly commercial sense? It’s a non-starter.

But look. I didn’t expect to take the bestsellers list by storm. Do I wish everyone who read it was telling every other person they know to go buy & read it, in the kind of numbers that make a word-of-mouth bestseller? Hell, yes, of course I wish that. I HAVE BIG PIE-IN-THE-SKY DREAMS. But 2 decades of retail bookselling means I’ve always known the odds. Books sell when they get in front of a lot of eyeballs, getting books in front of people is a bear of a job, and I’m a bad bear wrestler.

I don’t have a large following either as an author or as a human being, this book has a good hook but no critical pick-it-up “wow” factor, and I didn’t go Amazon-exclusive & perform the pricing tricks necessary to attract the all-powerful algorithms. And live conventions haven’t been happening, so I couldn’t engage new readers that way.

True to my expectations, sales crashed after the first-week flurry, excepting a blip here & there on Amazon.

I don’t even know where most of the sold copies went. They aren’t showing up as scanned at bookstores, (yet?) and no one’s ‘fessed up to buying a bunch from Ingram just to make me happy. (Why would someone do that? How? I don’t know, ask my Impostor Syndrome, it’s the irrational little weasel who thinks up weird ideas like that.)

But I digress. That makes this a great spot for a word from our sponsors. Behold, my books!

The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday

Moms with superpowers making the military nervous.

Working mothers, radical teens, & cynical Marines team up to battle bureaucracy & bigotry. Also contains gardening tips, family secrets, carrots, kittens, and more. Ebook & Paperback

Rough Passages

Enter a world where every midlife crisis could cause a national disaster.

Where it all began: a novel in eight stories about five people whose lives are upended–for better or worse–when they receive mysterious new abilities. Ebook & paperback.

Back to the crunchy numbers & meandering prose…

Bookscan (a database that literally records how many copies of a book were scanned at participating bookstores) indicates my paperback sales have been overwhelmingly local, which not a huge surprise. It also shows sales in eleven states overall, and that’s both exciting and unprecedented.

Sharp Edge is still not in WorldCat, which is one of the bigger library cataloging databases, so I guess no libraries have picked it up yet. Or at least none who use WorldCat’s database (like my local ‘brar) Or it’s still in the acquisition process. Or something else I haven’t guessed. Basically, it’s early days and unknowns outnumber knowns. I’m gonna pretend lots of folks have recommended library purchases that haven’t gone through yet.

The review tally is stalled at 7 ratings on Amazon, 3 on Goodreads & 1 on B&N. Are those numbers good? Depends on perspective. The numbers are spectacular considering I did nothing to ensure that I came out of the gate with any at all.

In a perfect world, or a world where I had lots of extra silverware or the willingness to let go & hire someone to organize my life, I would have spent the months before opening up pre-orders lining up reviewers, scheduling interviews, readings, and pursuing many other marketing & promotional opportunities. Initial sales success is grounded in PRE-publication build up. And I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t give myself enough time.

Sharp Edge was long overdue already. I needed to get it out there in the world before something else horrible happened in the world or my personal life to delay it again. That was my choice, and I’m comfortable accepting the consequences.

My marketing efforts weren’t a total crash & burn. I lucked into a podcast interview and I was generously offered the chance to be featured at a local (online, thanks pandemic) reading series. And I might do more. Maybe a Goodreads giveaway or throw a copy up onto NetGalley. I could throw money at a Bookbub ad or try for the golden ring of a Bookbub promotion, even. Post new-release, return on investment isn’t historically good.

The reviews so far are all fair to glowing, which is gratifying and a huge relief. But it takes a LOT of ratings to make shoppers pause, especially when the ratings are all high. (Except with romance. With romance, the blurb is ALL) Sharp Edge has a long way to go before it hits the “Hm, other people appear to like this, I should take a look” tipping point.

Full disclosure, only 1 of my books has more than 20 reviews, and another is a romance. They’re also the only 2 titles I get occasional surprise sales on.

Photo by Ivan Cujic on Pexels.com

All done with numbers stuff.

Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is now heading into the big world of “it isn’t new anymore.” Before we go, I’d like to get in one last pitch to please review it if you’ve read it, even if you thought the book was meh, maybe especially then.

The more reviews & word-of-mouth interest Sharp Edge gets, the better it will do long term. Reviews raise the visibility of the book and legitimize it in the eyes of potential readers. Goodreads or other places that let you post “want-to-reads” and “reading” flags–those are the online version of “word of mouth” and they’re platinum.

Every mention by people other than me helps. The more the merrier, the more the better. Not just online. Real world. That advice, if it’s advice, goes for all your favorite authors. If you love someone’s writing, put a ring on it tell friends, tell family, tell perfect strangers.

And on that note, in the next post, I’ll make mention of all the great books I’ve been reading lately.

Until later!

Categories
Authoring nuts & bolts Writing Advice Writing Life

A blog post about my blog posts

My author website started getting a ton of re-directs from my old blog address recently, so I of course looked into it. Bots, I thought, or maybe someone following up on old contact information.

Nope! The activity on all come from search term hits that once led to writing process posts.

What a total blast from the past.

Back in the day, I wrote a lot of process posts, sharing discoveries I made while writing  books and then about all the work that came after writing them.  I wrote a LOT about all the issues that have to be tackled before and after hitting “publish.” Book design. Marketing. Merchandising. Publicity. Finances. Distribution channels. ALL THE THINGS.

Basically I wrote little guides to all the different facets of working as an independent author as I came across them. 

Here’s one I re-read and updated Monday: Little Details: font choice

Another of my favorites: Books are pyramids

I wrote process posts like those because writing things down is how I process everything. When I need to learn new skills, methodologies and systems, I researching how other people do them, then test by trial and error (and error and error) then analyze the successes and failures until I know exactly how and why I ended up choosing one over all others.

Even if I’m only explaining things to myself, writing out the facts helps me codify, clarify, and set in practice whatever personal system I’ve cobbled together.  And it made sense to me, back then, to share what i was learning in case it might help someone else.

Somewhere along the line I stopped writing those posts. Not because I stopped learning, no. Life got complicated, and I ran out of energy needed to put private thoughts into a sharable, coherent public format. When that little voice in my head convinced me I wasn’t saying anything other people couldn’t say better, well, it was easy to drop writing about writing.

(I know,  it’s a liar, that voice, but it was loud, and I was tired, and it was easier to curl up in my shell and cling to story writing instead.)

I want to get back into sharing opinions about this indie authoring gig. Recent experiences have convinced me anew that I have plenty to contribute. First I’ll do some posts with links to updated older posts on perennial topics. (There’s one earlier in this post, even!)  And when I think of a new interesting topic, or someone suggests one, I’ll write about that.

It’s a start, and that brings us to the end of this post. In a way I suppose this was a process post about process posts.  A very meta way to begin.

Until later.

Categories
1. Storysculpting Promotion Writing Life

Want Books?

TL;DR summary: for the next couple of months, if you want one of my books in paperback and don’t like shopping on the ‘Zon, buying direct from me will be the only way to get them. WHICH YOU CAN DO! Just contact me by email or through the site contact form. Or come to Indy Pop Con where I’ll be in June, or visit Printers Row in Chicago the same weekend (my books will be there but not me) or…well, you get the idea.

Anyway. I digress. Onward to the rest of the post.

-*-*-*-*-

I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to make sure my books exist as real, “ink-on-paper pages wrapped in nice, pretty paperback covers” BOOKS. Books with real publisher logos on them and everything. Ones you could order from bookstores.

Well. Until recently. But not at the moment.

At the time of this post, my only paperback printer/distributor/retailer is Amazon.com. That’s a temporary situation, but one I felt you dear readers should know, just in case you might be looking to purchase a book or four from your local independent bookstore in the near future.

Beginning this summer, Ingramspark will become my primary book printer, and Ingram LightningSource will be responsible for distributing my paperbacks to print book markets.

So. There’s a switchover process. Changes are coming down the road, and that means bumps in the road. So. In the meantime…

Why start with one company and move to another? Well, now. There’s a story.

(of course there’s a story.)

Back when I was getting started in this writing & publishing gig, I seriously doubted  any humans outside my immediate friends & family circle would want Real Live Paperbacks of my stories. It was simpler (by FAR) to let Amazon handle print distribution to book retailers as well as the orders made through their site.

I mean, it wasn’t like people were hammering down the doors of their local retailers to get my books, nor was I retailing books myself. Easier just to have one-stop setup for al things book. So that’s the path I took. Least-resistance routing.

Welp, on the meandering road of life, I’ve come ’round to the same intersection again, and this time, I’m going down the road not-yet traveled.

Simpler never meant better. It didn’t even mean cheaper. It definitely didn’t mean superior quality control. So, for those reasons and more,  I’m maintaining an Amazon print account for Amazon sales only (should any more Amazon orders of my books ever occur) and moving all other paperback ordering and brick&mortar distribution needs to another company: Ingramspark Lightning Source (No, I do not know why they have such an unwieldy moniker. I can understand why they go by LSI in most situations.)

Now. A disclaimer. DO NOT IMAGINE THIS CHANGE MEANS MY BOOKS HAVE SUDDENLY BECOME POPULAR AND/OR LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE CLAMORING TO BUY THEM. That would be inaccurate. Wildly inaccurate.

Wrong, even.

I’m investing the time & money in this setup with Ingramspark because things have changed a LOT in the 5 years since I first did a print edition–both on my side, and the publishing side. Ingramspark always had a lot more to offer than Amazon, I’m at a point where I can handle that more-ness, and Ingramspark now offers me an incentive to make the jump.

They used to charge an arm & a leg to set up a title for printing & distribution. Now it’s down to $50 a title AND they credit back that $50 if  you order sufficient number of copies. In 2014 I couldn’t imagine selling 50 books. Now? Now that’s doable. Books don’t go bad like fruit, after all. I’ll go through 50 copies eventually. I won’t sell ’em fast, but I am regularly selling at conventions now & have my own Square account so mail-order is possible. (hint. hint.)

Ingramspark also offers a better selection of  bindings and formats for Print On Demand clients than Amazon’s printing service does too. HARDCOVERS, anyone? Staple-bound chapbooks for novelettes or samples? Duplex covered paperbacks that have that extra style? For me, format options inspire content creativity.

Plus they’re set up to honor sales tax exemption for resellers and retailers…like, say, me.  That balances out a slight increase in printing costs. And based on the delightfully transparent printing process, I expect to be getting a more predictable print quality too. (Fingers crossed, candles lit and all that. Testimonials from others are positive.)

Wrapping up, I have a good quantity of books on hand now, and I have the technology to make them yours, but ordering them anywhere but Amazon will not be happening for a undetermined time.

I’ll keep the world updated.

Until later.

Categories
Authoring nuts & bolts Promotion Writing Life

The latest in new shiny things.

Word for the day: colophon. Definition: “A publisher’s emblem or imprint, especially one on the title page or spine of a book.”  (h/t to dictionary.com)

On the spine or title page. OR? Nah. How’s about AND?

The next print runs of my books will have a proper publisher’s colophon on their spines and title pages. It’s a small thing (literally, quite, quite small) but it gives me a great big happy. And since this world and my life are not over-supplied with happies at the moment, I want to spread what I have as widely as possible.

Why do I need another logo? I already have one, right?

Well, yes. And no.

The Dawnrigger dragon ship graphic is neato-keen, I love it to pieces, especially with the uniquely fanciful name font, but complex graphics aren’t paperback-friendly.  That’s why I commissioned a proper stamp-style emblem a few months ago. I think I posted a pic of it in its Original Artwork form because it is SUPER FAB, but…

…but ink & paper originals also do not play well with the finickier elements of print publication in the digital era.  Also, there are issues of legally registering the Dawnrigger Publishing name & symbol, and I had to research that, and so on, etc, blah, blah, blah.

All the Things took some time. Life, the universe, and a lot of factors conspired against getting the digital files, but I am pleased to say prettification is now in progress.

I’ve commissioned a friend who is an artist and a graphics professional on top of being a talented writer, to not only add the graphics, but to give my covers a nice refresh too.

That’s happening right now. THANK YOU RHIANNON! YOU ARE AWESOME AND TALENTED AND SOOOOOOO PATIENT.

And while I’m casting shouty-caps gratitude petals, I must a big thank you to ALL my cover artists and graphics designers, past & present, for all the cool & amazing things you have made for me. You know who you are. Please know you are valued & respected and adored and all.

As an aside, how is it I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many incredible, multi-talented people? It really is astonishing how many talented folk the world holds, and y’know, I really am grateful to know you all.

What’s that? Stop digressing and show you the new colophon? Oh, RIGHT! Here ya go:

That’s what’ll be on the spines & the title pages of my paperback books soon, along with the Dawnrigger Publishing logo. Don’t like it? Cool. The only person who ahas to love it is me, and I LURVE IT.

Can’t wait to see books with it. So excited.

Ooooh, I could get a stamp made, too. Hmm.

*wanders off to ponder the possibility of more shinies*

Until later, all!