A peek behind the curtain

Finished writing book 3 recently, and now I’m rereading the first two books of the Fury of a Rising Dragon series in preparation for the first round of editing. It will go through numerous rounds of edits before release later this year

Reading my own books might seem strange but I find it to be an important part of the process. And yes I do laugh at my own jokes 😂 Currently at the scene where the trio and friends visit Olaf for the first time in “Castle Squalor”—Olaf’s house. It’s one of my favorites in Honor’s Price. Do you have a favorite scene in the book?

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#severbronny #writing #writerslife #fantasyauthor #author #writer #bookstagram #authorlife #amwriting #amwritingfantasy #authorsofinstagram #writerlife #writingprocess #writeratwork #fantasynovels #fantasybooks #fantasyfiction #epicfantasy #yalit #epicreads #yabooks #yabookstagram #fantasynovel #yafantasy

First draft of Burden’s Edge is complete. Here’s what my floor looks like strewn with notes for book 2.

So I finished the first draft of book 1, Burden’s Edge, from the as-yet upcoming unnamed trilogy that follows our trio’s exploits after The Arinthian Line. It clocked in at around 156,000 words (for comparison, Arcane was 98,000 or so). I’m not going to spoil the plot as it might still change in editing, not to mention I have to write a blurb for it anyhow.

In the meantime, here’s what my floor looks like in preparation for book 2 (untitled). In the upper right-hand corner is a fresh batch of tea; in the lower-right the cat, Buddha. On the small table is a slew of index cards of active characters in Burden’s Edge. These aren’t all my notes; there’s still all those manila folders-worth of plot notes I have factor in. It’s a bit of a process, but it works for me. Anyway, if you were ever wondering what my plotting structure looks like, well, here you are:

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Thank you for your patience; expect Burden’s Edge to come out late this year. And thank you so much for your amazing support of my work, and all of your beautiful letters. The Arinthian Line series has done well enough to allow me to do this full-time for nearly two years now. I only wish I was a faster writer, so that you would not have to wait as long. Though I suppose it could be worse (think of George RR Martin!).

With love,

-Sever

EDIT FOLLOW-UP:

This is what it looks like after an afternoon figuring everything out and putting all notes in the right place. This is how book 2 starts, essentially. (That open binder is full of old notes that have been archived). Note the pile of crumpled notes beside it. Having a glass of wine to celebrate finishing book 1. (Spoiler sheets have been left off photo).

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I was interviewed on a Fantasy podcast

How was everyone’s new year? Let’s kick things off on my end with something new–my first public podcast interview! Aldus Baker celebrates his 50th Fantasy podcast by interviewing me.

Enjoy :)

UPDATE ON BOOK 4:

Book 4 of The Arinthian Line has just undergone another major edit, and is on track to be released within about a month’s time. I wanted to sincerely thank each and everyone of you for your kind patience.

And for the Advance Reader Team: you’ll be receiving an email from me soon, hang in there! :)

I could have updated you guys more, but I’ve been very busy with book 4. It’s the largest one yet, completely packed with story and adventure. It has quite the emotional ending, leading nicely into book 5, which I’ll be starting next ASAP. I’m very proud of this work, and can’t wait for you to read it!

All my love to you and yours,

Sever

Sneak peek ;)

Coming soon …

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The Arinthian Line Book 3 (title TBA)

Title: To be announced, (The Arinthian Line, Book 3)
Cover and blurb reveal date: To be announced (subscribe to get a notice of release as well as a 24 hour window to purchase book 3 at a steep discount)
Release date: To be announced

Arcane (The Arinthian Line, Book 1)
Riven (The Arinthian Line, Book 2)

Author’s thoughts: Who releases a book with a winter cover in the middle of summer? I know, crazy, but I figure you’d want it sooner than later. This one is packed with adventure; Augum, Bridget and Leera are tested unlike ever before. I’m ultra excited, and I really can’t wait to get it to you. Not long to wait now!

Thank you to each and every single one of you for your amazing support. It means so much to me :)

All my best to you and those you love,

– Sever
Want to get involved? Join my Advance Review team

David Neth Guest Post: The Differences Between Indie Publishing and Traditional Publishing

It gives me great pleasure to introduce an up-and-comer, David Neth:

The Differences Between Indie Publishing and Traditional Publishing, by David Neth

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Lately the publishing industry has been divided between authors going the indie route and those still pursuing the traditional route. As someone who has received his master’s degree in publishing in NYC (whose teachers worked at some of the largest publishing houses in the world), it might come as a surprise that I’m choosing the independent route to publish my work. Confused? Let me explain…

Throughout the time I spent learning (and discovering) the publishing industry, I found out that self-publishing was a force to be reckoned with. Fifty Shades of Grey had just been picked up by Random House at the time and was blowing up the bestseller lists. My teachers (the traditional publishers) were discussing how they were looking into other self-published titles for the next hit.

Fast forward to that following summer, when I first decided to try out the self-publishing route, I discovered Joe Konrath’s blog and was obsessed. This guy had been traditionally published and switched to self-publishing in its infancy and was making bank. Way more than he was when he was traditionally published. My publishing education was expanded further as I embraced self-publishing.

Previously I had been shocked and dismayed that the publishers on Fifth Avenue were so dismissive to authors. Not all of them, but the vibe I got from the classes was that the authors spit out the first draft and then let the publishers take it from there without any input from the author on the cover design or style changes. That wasn’t the way I wanted my books to be handled. Not only that, but we had several entrepreneurs and innovators that came to guest speak in my classes and they inspired me. I wanted to forge my own path, my own way. I wanted to carve out a lifestyle that would work for me and would enable me to do what I loved to do.

It’s important to note that indie publishing isn’t all bubblegum and rainbows. Equally, traditional publishing isn’t a horrible route to take. It just wasn’t going to work for me. I wanted to make a career as a novelist. That just wasn’t possible with traditional publishing. I knew my book wasn’t a runaway hit like Harry Potter, but it was at least publishable. I knew I enjoyed it and someone else must, even if it was a midlist book. The problem with midlist books is that they don’t make traditional publishers a lot of money. In fact, they cost publishers money. It’s a business risk they don’t want to take so understandably they’re picky with their selections. If they don’t think it might be a hit, it’s rejected. No matter how well-written it is.

With indie publishing, I’m the one taking the risk on my own book. Since it’s my baby, I have the passion and enthusiasm behind it to push it to its best. Traditional publishing houses don’t always carry the same enthusiasm, especially if they feel your book is only going to land on the midlist.

Whether you choose to publish independently or pursue the traditional paths to publication, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each. Here are some key points about the differences between indie publishing and traditional publishing:

– Production:
With indie publishing you handle everything, unless you decide to outsource it, but that costs you your own money. With traditional publishing, they handle everything and you anxiously await the final proofs and product. This is different for each person. While it would be nice to have complete creative control over the final product with indie publishing, you may lack the skills necessary to make it a stellar product comparable with a traditionally published book. Likewise, while you lose your complete creative control over the final product (publishers may consult with you throughout the process, but they get the final say), the product is designed by professionals who have been working in the field for years and years. Not only that, but the bill is footed by the publisher.

– Advertising/Marketing:
Again, with this it depends on the publisher if you decide to go traditional. If they view you as a midlister, your advertising and marketing dollars drop significantly. You might as well be self-published and on your own with the budget they give you for advertising and marketing. However, if they think your book is the best thing since sliced bread, you’re going to be all over the place. You’re going to be the center of creative marketing and interviewed by newspapers, blogs, and magazines without having to ask. The publisher will take care of that for you. With indie publishing, you need to discover and beg, plead, and steal to get any sort of free promotion. In the end, hopefully your hard work (and possibly money) pays off since you’re also battling the stigma of self-published authors.

– Publishing Schedule:
The traditional publishing cycle, from acquisition to publication, is 18 months at the fastest. That’s a new book every year and a half. While that time is good for building hype and having a massive release day, it’s still a long time between each book. This is where indie publishing shines through. When you self-publish, you put out a book as fast as you can produce it. However, be mindful of the frequency at which you’re putting books out. Readers will come to expect it and then abandon you when you eventually burn out and miss your typical publication date. Conversely, they may abandon you if you saturate them too much. Think about it when all your favorite musicians decide to put out new albums around the same time. You either go broke or you pick and choose which ones you can’t live without.

Fortunately, neither path is the end-all-be-all. There are successful hybrid authors putting out books independently and traditionally. If you’re good at it, this might be the sweet spot. You get the attention and free promotion on your traditionally published books and those eyes will be led to your self-published books. It’s a win-win.

This post avoids the most obvious difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing: the royalty rate. Indies earn 60-70% royalty on their titles while traditionally published authors see 20%, which then needs to be split with their agent (since you can’t get a book deal without a literary agent). This is also something to consider when deciding which path to choose, but it’s certainly not the only thing. Create a list for yourself and determine what’s important to you. Are you looking to create a career or fulfill a hobby? Do your research and make a decision for yourself. Which path will you choose?

David’s first book is up for pre-order now

David Neth book

The Blood Moon by David Neth

I interview the gun-toting, root’n & toot’n, bestselling action and adventure author Wayne Stinnett

Thought I’d switch it up. Was intending on interviewing only sci-fi fantasy authors, but instead (insert pointless reasons). It’s my blog, and I do what I want to, dooo what I want to, you would do it too if it happened toooo yoooouuuu.

Ok, enough nonsense. At attention, folks, because we have a bona fide marine in the house, and he’s brought his guns along, making the crew nervous (my cat). Wayne Stinnett is the author of the bestselling action & adventure Jesse McDermitt series, and he’s about to undertake the toughest assignment given to man—answering my stupid questions.

Thanks for being here, Wayne. Have a seat on the, uh, vinyl cushion there. Sorry for the rips and stains. I promise I don’t have bed bugs. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, how commanding is your presence when you walk into a room? Do you make people nervous with a thousand yard stare?

Thanks, Sever. Though I write action/adventure for a living, I’m a long time sci-fi fan. Was really saddened to hear about Leonard Nimoy yesterday. Know how you can tell which one in the Enterprise landing party is gonna get killed? It’s the guy in the red shirt. First off it’s Marine, not marine. One is a title, that once earned can never be taken away. The other is anything in sea water, which a lot of times can be Marines. I’m not a very big guy, so my physical presence is often ignored. If I need to get their attention, though, I have my ways.

If I were to trespass onto your property, how quickly would I get gunned down? Describe the encounter.

The perimeter is booby trapped, you won’t get on the property. If, however, you manage to slip past the claymores, punji pits and bouncing Bettys, you’d be silently greeted by a 110 pound wolf/chow hybrid. My scope is zeroed at two hundred meters and the bang stick under it is accurate to eight hundred. Trust me, there’s nothing here worth the effort.

*Takes careful notes.* All right, cancelling operation free-the-chicken-coop. You hunt rabbit and deer. Explain yourself to the tree-huggers in the crowd.

Rabbits are a waste of ammo, not enough meat and ammo is expensive. Imagine the deer population if there weren’t any hunters. They’d thrive and reproduce like crazy right? Until they reach the tipping point, when the food supply can’t support the population. Then only the strongest would survive, while the weaker ones die a slow death of starvation. Not very pretty. Hunters are our first line of conservationists. We have bag limits which are governed by current population and strictly enforced. Now, if I really want to piss off the tree-huggers, I’ll show up at their rallies in my gas guzzling pickup with a 460 cubic inch engine that gets 9 miles per gallon. Hey, if their Prius breaks down, I can put it in the bed. I’d just have to put the deer carcass in their trunk though.
 
Ever surreptitiously slip your kill into them pesky vegetarian dinners?

That would necessitate my dining with them. I’ve met one or two, pasty skinned, weak vegetarians, smelling of patchouli. No room at my table.
 
What’s your favorite weapon? Is it under your pillow?

Hmmm, that’s difficult to answer. Each has its own place. For long range shooting, I like the Remington 700, it’s a real nail driver. Under my shirt is a Sig Sauer P226 semi-auto for personal protection. For home protection, you can’t do better than a pump action shotgun. The sound of a shell being chambered will usually clear the house of home invaders. When the zombie apocalypse (that’s what I call a government takeover) happens, my AR15 with multiple 30 round magazines will always be close by. By far, the most deadly weapon in my arsenal rests on TOP of my pillow.
 
Let’s get serious for a moment. What are you proud of?

All kidding aside? Okay. Gotcha. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I’m proud of a lot of things, but my family ranks at the very top. My wife and I have four great kids and four of the cutest grand-kids. Without their support, I never would have published my first book, let alone six. I’m also very proud of having served in the greatest military the world has ever known. The camaraderie shared between warriors isn’t akin to anything else. When a man says, “I got your back” it really means something. He’s saying he’ll lay down his life if need be.
 
Is there anything in life you’d like to do over again?

Everyone has regrets. I often catch myself wishing I’d stayed in the Corps for a full thirty year ride. But if I had, odds are I wouldn’t have my kids today. One thing for certain, if I could change just one thing, I’d go back to ’88 and tell the younger me, “Don’t you dare quit writing!” It took me twenty-five years to try again and now I’m living what I call a dream. For 13 years, I was gone most of the time, hauling freight all over the country and talking to my family over the phone. Now, I can kneel by my daughter’s bed and pray with her, take her to school and pick her up every day, and sleep in my own bed with my wife.
 
How would you describe the Jesse McDermitt series to a new reader in the genre?

I wish they’d break up action/adventure into two separate genres. The complaint I most often receive comes from action junkies, saying that my books don’t have enough action. I call my books Caribbean Adventure sea stories. True, there’s not cover to cover action. What I try to convey to the reader is the essence of living, working, laughing and loving in what most would call paradise, the Florida Keys. My books are full of every day stuff that folks in the Keys both suffer and enjoy. Plenty of water, a few laughs and some romance, but mostly it’s the Conch spirit I try to convey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Conch. That’s a birthright that only those born in Monroe County, Florida can claim. I’m a waterman and have lived and worked in the Keys, as well as Mexico, the Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles. I’ve earned a living from the sea. I spent a year in Jamaica one weekend, but that’s a whole different story.
 
What type of person is NOT going to enjoy your books? How do you stop them from reading? With a cattle prod?

The aforementioned action junkies, primarily. There’s a very laid back, island lifestyle in what I write, but in the end there will be guns and explosions. Oh, and in the case of the last two books, an exotically beautiful and hypersexual woman. Sorry, had to throw that in there. I’ve had romance fans read my books and like them. Same with mystery and thriller fans. One salty old retired Marine Sergeant Major wrote to me and said he finished Fallen Palm while sitting in a tree stand with a high powered rifle across his lap, but had to climb down because his eyes were sweating too much to see down the shooting lane. Marines don’t cry, our eyeballs sweat. Greatest compliment I ever had, right there.
 
Why did you start writing? Was it a dare?

Actually, it was boredom. In the late eighties I was working as an estimator for a construction company. I wrote a few computer programs to speed up the process and wound up with more time than work. Since I was salaried, I was required to stay the whole day, so I started making up stories and typing them up on the company computer, storing them on a floppy disk. I thought they were great, but judging from the 47 rejection letters from publishers and agents, I was in the minority. A few years ago, my wife found a hand written part of a manuscript and told me it was good. She encouraged me to take up that long dormant dream of being a writer and try again. So I dug out the floppies and searched the internet for an antique computer I could bring the stories up on. With her encouragement I started writing again. She’s been a wealth of inspiration and motivation. And quite a few ideas, as well.
 
You’ve been around the publishing block. Give us blundering noobs the top four mistakes new authors make.

Not everyone is going to like your work, you’re going to get some one stars. Accept it before you hit that publish button.
Your first book’s not going to be a million seller. Sure it’s happened, but the odds are so astronomical as to be zero. Don’t dwell on it, keep writing.
Don’t waste time, money and energy trying to get people to read that first book. Your friends and family will, but the reading public want more. See #2.
Creative minds don’t like numbers. They’re restricting. Learn how. Once you have a couple or three books published you’re going to have to market them. No way around it. Learn how to advertise and market your work, start a mailing list before the first one’s published. That’s the single best marketing tool you’ll have.
 
What do you think the next year in publishing will look like?

If I knew the answer to that one, it’s a sure bet that I wouldn’t share it. I really think more and more traditionally published authors will regain the rights to their books and self-publish. They’ll still be able to charge more, being household names, but they’ll keep a lot more themselves.
 
Name one publishing argument you’re sick of hearing.

Self-published books lack quality. I’m so sick of hearing that I could punch a wall. Sure, since anyone can upload their stuff and publish it, there are quite a lot of low quality works out there. It doesn’t mean that every indie’s books are crap. There are a lot of very fine writers who look at traditional publishing and then look at doing it themselves and they see that they can make just as much per book as the big guys, but keep the price so much lower for their readers. There’s a lot of traditionally published work out there that isn’t worth a crap too.
 
Punchable face. Name one. Explanation optional.

Michael Koslowski. I mean, have you seen this guys face? And the venomous spew that comes out of it? At first I was angry over some of the things he said. Sure I read his blog, so do you, I bet. But, you know what? That blog is his only claim to fame. I looked on Amazon for his work and he has written a few books. I think his highest ranked book is in the 200,000 range. He’s nothing more than a hack who couldn’t cut it as a traditional author and rather than get off his butt and do it himself, he ridicules those that do. Loser!
 

What’s next for you?

One of my favorite south Florida writers is about to release his 22nd novel in a very successful traditionally published series and not long ago he released his first book in a spinoff series. It’s a great story and he’s now followed it up with two more equally awesome books. I want to do that. My dad always told me, “Look at what successful people do and do that.” So, in writing my last book, I set the stage for one of four characters to be the main character in a new series. I finally decided on which one last week. While I’m writing the 7th book in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series, I’m slowly developing the first book in the Charity Styles series. Charity is a minor character in four of my six books and in this new series she will become a covert assassin, responsible only to her own moral convictions and controlled (somewhat) by a very highly placed American government official. I’ve actually finished the first chapter. While I’m putting all my efforts into the new McDermitt book, as you well know, you can get burnt out pretty easy. So, I switch over and write a couple hundred words to the other book, in essence writing two at the same time. I figure that by the time “Fallen Honor” comes out in June, I’ll be more than halfway through “Merciless Charity”. How’s that for a juxtapositional title? I hope to finish Merciless Charity in July. Then I’ll be taking a couple of months off to move and start building a new house near the ocean. The old man is returning to the sea.

Semper Fi,

Wayne Stinnett
Author of the Jesse McDermitt series
www.waynestinnett.com

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I interview the enigmatic CN Crawford

Thank you for coming over to this blog. Sorry for the mess, been bit of a dump around here lately. Uh, have a seat between the ferns. So, what’s with the parrot?

We have a bird thing going. Book three is going to have some pirates, and probably some parrot familiars. It’s like the old adage says, “put a bird on it.”

That video. lol. So the CN in C.N. Crawford is two people apparently. Explain why you’re not crazy.

Either there are actually two of us, or it’s just me in a yellowed wedding dress with a moldering rat-eaten cake screaming into a dead garden about a husband. I’m not going to tell you which of these is true. 

Since you’re not crazy, why is there a knife in both your hands? I don’t do interviews like this.

It’s for your own good. There’s a better place for you than this world. Or at least better than Canada. 

*Whistles Canadian anthem* Since you’re definitely not crazy or murderous, tell us what roles each of you serve in writing the book.

Nick started working on the book, with the idea that it would be about a witch-boy traveling from a magical world into ours. It began with a crow flying to a creepy old school in Boston. I started doing some world-building, which was very history-focused since that’s my main interest. Then I started taking over the writing of the story. Apart from a few scenes that Nick started, mostly I would write a draft, and Nick would go over it after. The plot came out of discussions between the two of us.I’m gradually taking over almost all of this series, but Nick has another series in the back of his mind, which I’m excited about. He’s an evolutionary biologist, and he’s working on an idea for a thriller about a genetic researcher who uncovers a supernatural conspiracy.

How violent is your working relationship? If it’s not violent, can you make something juicy up? This is practically Jerry Springer here. I mean, look at the raving loons in the audience.

It was pretty tame for the writing, but making crafts for our giveaway was awful. There were super-glued hands, tables getting bumped, bubbles in the resin… It was brutal. Sometimes Nick still wakes up in a cold sweat, shouting, “So many microbeads glued to my fingers!” Never make crafts with a loved one. Just don’t.

No crafts with the wife. Got it. So I bought and read The Witching Elm and really enjoyed it, particularly how Toby and Fiona grew on me as the story went along. It’s a best seller in the occult subgenre, with excellent reviews. How does it feel seeing your baby do so well?

It feels great! It’s hard sending it out into the world, but I’ve really enjoyed reading people’s responses. I especially love when people home in on my favorite things about the book, which are the humor and the creepiness. 

How would you describe your book to a new reader in the genre?

One of the blog reviewers described it as “what we would have had if Joss Whedon wrote Harry Potter,” which might be my favorite description, since I love Joss Whedon. A few other people have noted comparisons to the show Sleepy Hollow. I haven’t see the show yet, but I think it also draws on morbid American history in its world-building.

Speaking of Potter, if Toby [lead protagonist] got in a fight with Harry, who’d win?

Toby would eat him alive, assuming he had his pike. Toby’s often missing his pike, though he will gain access to weapons in the sequels. As a psychologist, the phallic reference is not lost on me.

What type of person is NOT going to enjoy your book?

Someone who’s dead inside. Or I guess, someone who doesn’t like dark fantasy.

The story is set in Boston. Give me two lines in a Boston accent.

We’re evacuatin the youngest philawsiphas. You three ah goin to Boston fuh safety, to Mathah Academy. Now get me a spuckie and take a dudley, ya haw-mongas.*
 
*(That last line is not in the book, and is in a deep boston accent decipherable only to the inititiated). 

Why do you write?

I think both Nick and I need a creative outlet for surreal ideas and concepts, or our weirdness will start to come out in other ways. And writing is much less rage-inducing than crafts.

I’ve got a set of questions I ask all authors: If you became very rich, what would a typical day look like for you?

My son would wake me up at 7, and then I’d pound a few cups of coffee. The nanny would come to play with my toddler while Nick and I sat around making up stories about tree gods and witches. It would look very much like a day now, except Nick would be home, and we’d have a nanny, and our light switches would work. 

What’s been your greatest challenge in life?

For me it was probably moving to London when I was 21 with only $500 in the bank. I stayed there for over 8 years, and for at least a few of those I was on minimum wage in a very expensive city.

And of course first few sleepless months after having our baby were a challenge for both of us. 

How much of you is in that werewolf character?–just kidding, that question was asked of Chris Fox, who wrote some book about werewolves.

Chris Fox actually based the werewolf character entirely on me. Little known fact.

What do you hate most about the publishing process?

There is a lot of multi-tasking involved, and sometimes you feel like you just want to focus on one thing at a time. You end up juggling social-media, learning new software, finding cover designers, getting feedback–all while trying to keep the focus on writing the next book. But the varied tasks definitely keep things interesting.

What do you love about indie publishing?

I love the flexibility. For example, a couple of the reviewers were confused by the first few pages, so we were able to clarify things and re-upload the book really quickly. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of publishing their book independently?

My main advice is to find a way to get as much feedback as possible for the first books, and listen to people’s input. There’s a lot of advice out there to just “write write write,” and there’s a lot of focus on word counts and cranking out books. I would counter to say–at least for a first book–take your time, and make sure you’re getting it right. Don’t try to edit it yourself, even if you’re an editor, and don’t design your own cover. Unless you’re a designer. If you’re totally broke there are still ways around these things.

What are you going to to do after you’ve won your second pulitzer?

Do they give pulitzers for books? Shows how much I know. I thought it was a newspaper thing. Well anyway I’d definitely insert it into every possible sentence for the rest of my life. “As a two-time pulitzer winner, I would like a fish sandwich with fries.”

Punchable face. Name one. Explanation optional.

Dapper Laughs, a British “cheeky chappie” “entertainer.” I would also like to punch the phrase “cheeky chappie” in the face.

Ask yourself a question and answer it.

Best book you’ve read in the past year? I have yet to read Arcane, so I’m going to go with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell, which is a fantastic historical fiction book about Thomas Cromwell, one of Henry VIII’s advisors. I love the Tudor-era books.

C.N. Crawford is not one person but two. Christine (C) grew up in the historic town of Lexington, and has a lifelong interest in New England folklore – with a particular fondness for creepy old cemeteries. Nick (N) spent his childhood reading fantasy and science fiction further north during Vermont’s long winters. Together they work to incorporate real historical events and figures into contemporary urban fantasy novels.

An interview with the accomplished Chris Fox, author of the amazon kindle besteller No Such Thing As Werewolves

All right, Chris, the mic is in your face, the camera lights are on, and you have one sentence to introduce yourself to an audience of gazillions. What’s the quick version of your story, man?

I ended up on the back of a milk carton at age 8. A year ago I developed an iPhone application that was used to scope Stephen Colbert’s ear. I’ve also published a novel called No Such Thing As Werewolves. You’re probably expecting me to say ‘one of these things is a lie’. Nope, all true. I’ve led a very interesting life.

If you became very rich, what would a typical day look like for you?

Very similar to what it looks like today. I wake up, work out and then write. When I’m finished I go to work at a startup called CellScope, developing the aforementioned app. Eventually CellScope will get acquired, after which my day will look largely the same. The locale might change though. There’s a lot of travel I want to do, from Cairo to Lima. I’m fortunate that both my passions can be done from anywhere in the world.

What’s been your greatest challenge in life?

Limiting beliefs. When I was a kid I decided I wasn’t a good athlete, and that I’d never be a good dancer. So I didn’t even try. A few years back I picked up a book called Talent is Overrated, which reversed my outlook overnight. I enrolled in a dance class and am a pretty good dancer now. I also became a power lifter, which never would have crossed my mind before. I was a self-avowed geek and just assumed I could never be good at those things. Imagine my surprise when I found out practice really does make perfect.

In 2010 I joined Toastmasters and became an accomplished speaker. I set the bar a little higher and taught myself iPhone development. At the time I was working in a dead end collections job, so that was quite a step up. Especially since I’m a JC dropout. My next challenge is writing and *crosses fingers* so far so good.

I just finished reading No Such Thing As Werewolves and was struck by how much of a fun cross it is between Tomb Raider, Stargate, and Predator. What was the inspiration behind it?

I’m totally going to cheat. I wrote this blog post  about the inspiration. For those who want a shorter answer I wanted to re-invent werewolves. To do that I took a Sci-Fi approach, which is unusual as most werewolves are fantasy. It required me to explain things like how it’s possible genetically for them to change, why moonlight affects them and how the disease spreads.

Anthropology and Egyptology are also huge passions of mine, and I’ve long wondered if there were cultures that predated recorded history. What if they were far more advanced than we are? No Such Thing As Werewolves answers that question. It’s my attempt to make werewolves not just scary, but also logical and understandable.

How would you describe your book to a new reader in the genre?

It’s like Indiana Jones went through the Stargate and ended up in Aliens Versus Predator.

What type of person is NOT going to enjoy your book?

People who don’t enjoy intricate plots with multiple points of view. There are a fair number of characters, and more science than you’ll find in your average fantasy novel.

How much of you is in Ahiga, that bad-ass werewolf?

You might call him a reflection of me. He’s sacrificed everything to secure the future of our species, only to see it all wasted when he makes a single mistake. His name is from the Navajo language, and I spent a little time on a reservation as a child. I drew on those experiences as well.

What do you hate most about the publishing process?

Editing. I love the writing and sometimes the re-writing is fun, but the endless editing and proofing really wears on you after you’ve been working on a book for five months.

What do you love about indie publishing?

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was six. My mother still has the first short story I wrote on that very day. As an adult I went the traditional publishing route and it took years to get my first short story out there. Once it was published I never even knew if anyone read it, much less liked it. With Indie publishing I put my own novel up with no gatekeeper to stop me. I’m able to see fan reviews, and even get the occasional fan mail. It’s surreal. So I guess the short answer is I love that indie publishing made it possible for anyone to become a novelist.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of publishing their book independently?

Read. Write. Publish. Repeat. Then sign up for the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. Lastly, sign up for Kboards. Those three resources will give you a solid foundation in indie publishing, and you’ll be miles ahead of someone just tossing their book up and wondering why it isn’t selling.

What are you going to to do after you’ve won your second pulitzer?

Take Lisa on a cruise to Alaska while we still have glaciers.

Punchable face. Name one. Explanation optional.

Justin Bieber. No explanation needed.

As a Canadian, sorry. Our petitions to have him extradited failed. No one wanted him.
So What’s next for you?

I’ll be publishing Deathless Book 2: No Mere Zombie in late April. I still cannot believe I’ll have two novels and a novella out.

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By day Chris Fox is an iPhone developer architecting the app used to scope Stephen Colbert’s ear. By night he is Batman. Ok maybe not. He can dream though, right? Chris has been writing since he was six years old and started inflicting his work on others at age 18. By age 24 people stopped running away when he approached them with a new story and shortly thereafter he published my first one in the Rifter.  Check out his fiction at Chris Fox Writes.

No Such Thing As Werewolves on Amazon

No Such Thing As Werewolves on Goodreads

Fair and Honest Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors

Last updated March, 2015

I first posted this in Goodreads (twice actually, expanding it the second time). Some of it I posted on kboards too. All in all, I spent way too much time on it, so I might as well post it here–revised and updated–to benefit some of my author friends, especially those starting out.

To begin with, I firmly believe that in the world of self-publishing, we are each other’s mentors, and paying it forward is how we give back. The knowledge below, besides being earned through trial and error and sweat and tears, was also gathered whilst standing on the shoulders of gentle giants (you know who you are).

Book promotion is a tricky thing, and not all of book promotion is actually promoting. You need a strong foundation.

– First, the pillars of a strong release:

  1. A killer book. Goes without saying, right? Superbly edited, superbly written. The kind you can’t put down after starting. The kind strangers say they can’t put down. Exposition, passive voice, character depth, all that is well and truly behind you. If it isn’t, don’t read on. Fix this first. Without it, the rest is a complete waste of your time, and your time as a writer is precious. Your book is the foundation for your career. Start it right.
  2. A killer cover. People judge books by the cover. Thy just do and always will. Make sure it screams your genre. Make sure it’s professional and can compete with the big dogs. Make sure it has your target audience exactly in mind. A killer cover that misses its target audience usually fails. Best thing to test this is post it publicly without hinting genre, and ask who target audience is, age group, genre, etc.
  3. A killer blurb. This one is tough. My advice is to throw it up on a forum for public critique. Keep weaning it down until it’s a sculpted beauty.
  4. An optimized, strong set of keywords. Read Evenstar’s forum post to start.
  5. A killer first line and first chapter. Has to have a hook. Has to draw you in. Has to be snappy. No exposition. No passive voice. Throw it up for public critique in the appropriate forum and see what people say. When you get a “wow”, you’re ready.
  6. Flawless editing.
  7. Flawless formatting.

Now on to some basic marketing. Too many authors end up spamming people and (rightly) getting everyone annoyed, not to mention putting self-published authors in a bad light. Hence this list–thought it might help a little. Here are the methods that have worked for some writers, including myself (though mind you I have not tried all of them yet):

– Stagger your promotions/ announcements Goal is to have at least one sale a day after launch. Mailing list mailout day 1. Facebook post a few days later. Then Twitter, etc.

– Bookbub ad (you have to apply to get in, and it can be pricey, but has been known to work–I just got my second rejection from them actually, and expect more.)

– Netgalley review services (very pricey, and it’s just to garner industry reviews, but it too has been known to work for certain authors). Note that review services tend to be harsher than natural reviews (as reported by other authors).

– Google Adwords You’ll need the help of a pro to set it up. Make sure whoever does it though, only uses keywords that have to do with people looking for exactly your type of book. Can’t stress that enough. And have multiple ADs and keywords competing against each other. Set 5 bucks a day or more if you can afford it for those two weeks. Hint: just because a keyword is giving you clicks, doesn’t mean it’s translating into sales. You have to find keywords that have a low CPC, high CTR, but also are the likeliest to actually translate into sales (for example, “buy latest YA paranormal” is a keyword phrase someone used when looking to actually purchase a book. You get the point). Turn off extended networks too. Only pay per click, not impressions. I started a forum post on the subject here that I update now and then.

-Facebook advertising Specify by country, target carefully, and make sure you set you google multiple sources. Study it like an exam you need to pass to graduate.

– Goodreads advertising I just started this with no results yet, but as soon as I figure it out, I’ll post on it. RESULTS: A massive fail. Pulled my money out. I do not recommend until they update their architecture.

– Advance Review Team Build buzz by sending advance review copies to fans (if applicable)..

– Blog interview tour If you have a lot to say, this works very well. Always better to get to know the blogs and people behind those blogs first.

– In-person events (book signings, forums, etc.)

– ACX Audiobook (pricey but has been known to give consistent returns)

– Post on your blog consistently (I still struggle with this one) and with quality content

– Do a Goodreads book giveaway

– Setup social media accounts. If you haven’t already, create a public facebook author page, start a Twitter account, start a Pinterest visual inspiration account for your book (mine looks like this, for example: http://www.pinterest.com/sbronny/ ), and especially, make an author profile both on Amazon and Goodreads (as opposed to a regular user account). There are a slew of other social networks. Use as many as you like, but try to have them synched so you don’t post on each one, but rather from one source that posts to all of them (use Hootsuite to do just that).

– Twitter: Use Hootsuite to load up on Tweets for the day ahead (only regarding your book). Try to keep it to 2 robo tweets a day, else you’ll get muted by your friends. And retweet your friend’s important tweets (the tweets that you know are important to them), and don’t forget to have fun and interact. I started this thread looking for other twitter hints.

– Rafflecopter promo (you have to be clever with these, but they’re amazing for getting author signups and stuff).

– For the love of all that is sacred, create a mailchimp account and put the shortlink at the end of your book. Mailchimp allows your readers to receive emails from your newsletter, so you can inform them of your next release. It’s SOOO simple. For example, mine looks like this: http://eepurl.com/HIxzX And also make sure to give impetus to join the list by offering them either a free book, or a discount on the next one, or something like that. This is critical to making it work.

UPDATE: And regarding the newsletter, author Wayne Stinnett chimed in to me with the following: “Without doubt, a strong mailing list–with highly interactive readers–can take a release and launch it straight into the top 3000 within 24 hours. By interactive, I mean readers who write back after every monthly newsletter. I usually get a hundred return emails and answer every one of them. Visibility is key and those on your mailing list are already waiting to buy the next book. If they all do so at about the same time, it could be a couple of hundred sales on launch day. I do a soft launch at $0.99 that lasts only 24 hours. This is my way of thanking my loyal readers; but truth be told, I want that high debut rank. Fallen Mangrove debuted at just above #17K and broke the #2000 barrier within 12 hours of release. And the only ones that knew about it were my mailing list.”

UPDATE: Many of the successful self-published authors use paid advertising and loss-leaders to chart. Once the book charts high enough, Amazon’s internal marketing engines help boost it even higher. Don’t be afraid to experiment and lose a couple bucks to see what works. Simply publishing a book and hoping for the best is a recipe for disappointment. Combine your paid advertising with blogging, a mailing list, and the many other marketing strategies posted in the forum, and you stand a much higher chance of success. And if I recall correctly, Amazon’s algorithm penalizes zero sale days by halving the next days’ sales’ impact against ranking. I know, I worded that terribly, sorry. Essentially, for every day you get zero sales, the algorithm penalizes you by making it twice as hard to chart the next day. So four days in a row of zero sales makes it like sixteen times as difficult to chart when you make a sale.

This is why marketing is so crucial, and what makes a release so damn nail-biting. The point is to avoid zero sale days like the plague. The more time you spend planning your marketing, the better chance you have of avoiding this. A lot of authors push for writing more books and less marketing, and that’s a very fair point too, so you have to make up your own mind as to what to do.

– Setup a Call to Action button on your facebook page. It’s the one beside the “like” button. Have it point to your Amazon page, or to your mailing list, or even website. Here’s what mine looks like.

Gather reviews. The going rate is for every 100 people that read your book, one will review it. You can pay for reviews, but from my observations, they tend to be harsher. Try approaching select reviewers on Amazon / Twitter / Goodreads / blogs and offering them a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, following these Dos and Don’ts guidelines.

– Have your own author webpage with all your social media links at the top (examine mine here at severbronny.com for an example – notice the social media buttons and how easy it is to connect?) People are fundamentally lazy, so make it as easy as possible for them to connect with you on their favored platform.

– Kindle KDP Select adverts (you get your choice of one of two different kinds of promotional tools per three month signup. These are the best possible promos you can do, from what I hear). One is the FREE version and one is the countdown.

– Print cool business cards or bookmarks advertizing your book and give them out like candy. (Wait till you see my bookmark! *Swells with pride*)

– Throw a release party in your house or a pub. Invite the public and all your friends. Make it a fun thing, not just about selling books. Make it about CONNECTING to people. Those connections are key. Take photos. Blog about it.

– Hone your craft. Assume you’re a terrible writer. Read as many how-to-write books as you can, from trusted sources. I can’t recommend Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story enough, for example, or Elizabeth Lyon’s A Writer’s Guide to Fiction, or even Renni Browne’s Self-editing for Fiction Writers. There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Quality is paramount, especially for your first book. It is the foundation of your brand and empire–woe be to your career and soul for presenting a weak product. I’m not saying I’m any good as a writer (that’s for the public to decide), but I am saying I damn well did my best to be prepared!

– Whatever you do, DO NOT PAY FOR FACEBOOK LIKES (or twitter followers for that matter). There’s already plenty of evidence out there indicating the likes come from places like India or other click-farms, and they actually reduce your exposure to your true followers because those fake likes do not pay attention to your page post-liking it.

– If you’re self-publishing, make DAMN sure your formatting is spotless. Use Guido Henckel’s guide

– Have a physical copy available.
It makes your book and brand look professional, and also makes the digital ebook price look like a bargain. It’s not as hard as I thought to format the thing for print, though you’ll have to do a little bit of research on how to do it right. I used createspace.

– If you have large page counts, for the love of all that is holy, check the template restriction page count on your print-on-demand printhouse! Turns out, at 5 x 8 inch format, max page count with createspace is 700 pages. Luckily I caught this in time and shrank my font size to 10 for book 1, so that it can stay uniform with book 2, which is twice as large. I have my wife to thank for spotting that one actually.

– Run one last spell check on the final product POST FORMATTING. Formatting can bungle a few words here and there, so it’s critical you do one last run-through before publishing. And for the love of all that is good, order a physical copy proof!

– If you can do formatting, you can avoid the mass distributors too (Smashwords, Draft2Digital, etc). Why give away 10% of your hard-earned income to a middle-man? From what I’ve been hearing from fellow kboarders, it’s not too hard at all to upload to Kobo, Apple, etc. It’s not for everyone, but it’s closer to the DIY route. Then again, it takes a lot of time, so …

– FRONTMATTER Have your copyright, Library Archives (CIP data in Canada), ISBN etc sorted out at least two months ahead of publishing. Do the same with your cover and proof copy (that last one I’ve failed at–MISERABLY).

– BACKMATTER Make sure there’s a call to action for that mailing list of yours. Give them a reason to sign up (free book, discount for next book, etc). I’m getting a 14% signup ratio versus sales for mine. I bought some of the bestselling author’s works and learned from their backmatter.

PUSH YOURSELF! My goal this year is to complete my series for 2015, and have at least four of the books published. That’s a substantial increase considering I’ve been working on them for three years without publishing a thing. And FYI: Goals only count as goals if there is a clear time frame and a clear outcome.

Respond to people! I learned this with my music, big time. When a reader sends you an email or a private message, it is CRITICAL for you to reply courteously. NEVER ANSWER REVIEWS. NEVER BE RUDE. From my experience, once you respond, you’ve increased the chances of winning them over for life by magnitudes.

– Don’t get too caught up with word count. This is a tough one, but I’ve discovered that writing for the joy of it is far more productive than trying to hit a daily word count (not to mention your output actually increases–just avoid looking at the actual total if you can). Find your joy and follow it. You make this all about performance and money and output, you’re going to be one miserable you-know-what. If you love what you do (which will be writing 75% of the time, barring release weeks), then it’s not a job at all, is it? It’s a passion.

Avoid browsing the internet while writing. Scientifically, your brain actually changes when surfing the net. Each link provides a small endorphin rush, and so you are rewarded for skipping around. This is not conducive to long bouts of steady concentration on one topic. This point requires discipline. And yes, I still battle with this one like an angry chihuahua.

– Read self-help books. Often the things that prevent us from succeeding have nothing to do with our craft or abilities. They’re subconscious self-defeating loops, or mannerisms passed down from our parents, or assumptions we made about ourselves, etc. This point is a lifetime study, but makes a huge difference. If it’s something you think you’re capable of, I highly recommend it. It’ll give you that edge over those incapable of bettering themselves. A transferable skill, so to speak.

BUT WHAT WORKS THE BEST?

Honestly, interacting with people works best, from my experience at least. Being interested in their lives and what they’re up to is key. You ever go to a party and there’s that one guy who just talks about himself? It gets tedious really quick. Communication is a two-way street, and the more you ask about the other person the better off you’ll be.

How do I know this? I used to have a music career, selling digital music all over the world. The fans that I interacted with honestly were the ones that were the most interested, and oddly enough, they were the ones that went out of their way to help me succeed. Some of them have now begun following my author career even.

Yes, it can be tiring sometimes, but people are actually interesting, if you take the time to listen to them. Too many authors (and especially musicians) make it about themselves, and it just gets in the way of their success.

Anyway, just my two cents. This list is by no means all-encompassing either. If you have a strategy that works, please feel comfortable to share :)

My results (post launch, first book):

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 10.03.27 PM_#1 HNR #1 US

2015_01_05_US_1687_rank_#1_#8_#9

Book 2 launch:
2015_02_27_Riven_rank_#3_#8_#10_1783
2015_02_21_Riven_hot_new_releases
My books:
Arcane (The Arinthian Line, Book 1) on Amazon
Riven (The Arinthian Line, Book 2) on Amazon

So what worked for you? Have any tips? :)

My review of WIRED FOR STORY, a book on how to hook readers from the first sentence.

Me holding a copy of Wire for Story I ordered online.

Me holding a copy of Wired for Story I ordered online.

All right, wow. There are four seminal books that have made major impacts on my writing, in the following order:

1. Self Editing for the Fiction Writer by Renni Browne and Dave King.
2. A Writer’s Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon.
3. On Writing by Stephen King.
4. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, Wired for Story that takes the top spot now. Cron has artfully and articulately worded what I, as the writer, have been searching for: just how to write a good story. Not how to flower my language, not how to edit, not the mechanics of writing, but exactly how to consciously write a story that interests the reader.

Can I understate how important this book should be in a writer’s arsenal? *Expletive* NO! It’s written with a clear voice, a voice comfortably familiar with the art of the story. Cron’s experience in writing for film and TV shines through with her ability to efficiently get her points across without the muddle. Her use of neuropsychologists combined with select quotes from known word-brain surgeons like Hemingway buttress the foundation, but it is the upper floors of this structure that yield the greatest fruit.

What exactly makes a story interesting? Check. Exactly when to start one in the character’s life? Check. How to write a quick yet nuanced character biography while leaving out the unnecessary drivel? Check. Differentiate between the banal and the important in a scene; description overuse; narration and exposition errors; conflict and resolution misfires and solutions …

Check, check, and checkmate. And on and on it goes, until by the last page you feel like a cyborg perfectly outfitted for war.

My one minor gripe? A few too many grand questions (specifically, but not exclusive to, the end of the chapters summaries), that left me feeling overwhelmed. I prefer things I can answer, not questions that have infinite possibilities and leave my brain trying to find answers to them even though I’ve moved on already. It’s a pitfall I commonly find in How-to books though, one almost impossible to leave out. A side effect of these questions is one has the tendency to re-read the paragraph again and again in some vain hope one will understand the scope and significance of the question.

But what Cron does best is hammer across what is important. She shatters myth after myth (eg: A story is what the plot is about. WRONG. It’s about how the plot affects the characters!). She concisely explains what loses readers, but rewards you with how to capture them. This isn’t one of those books that only points out the flaws, leaving you groping for guidance like a child without a parent. It is satisfying and comprehensible, a panther of a read written by a master in her craft–and there are few storytelling masters that truly share their secrets in a way the layman can understand.

I wrote six detailed pages of notes. Six. I pre-empted the wear those notes are going to receive in my writer’s binder by applying those O-ring reinforcements to the holes in the paper, for I plan on studying those notes like an eager freshman in medical school.

My final thought? The writers who have read this book will have a superior advantage over those that have not. Period.

Wired for Story on Amazon

A note: I first posted this review on the book’s Goodreads page.

The Arinthian Line fantasy series book one cover reveal! #fantasy #rpg

At long last, after over three years of work, I can reveal the cover to Arcane: The Arinthian Line, book 1.

Arcane cover. The Arinthian Line series, book 1. Fantasy adventure.

Arcane print book cover. The Arinthian Line Series, book 1.

Warlocks before their time…

Fourteen-year-old Augum and friends Bridget and Leera dream of becoming warlocks. But with a kingdom in total chaos, it will take courage, sacrifice, and an iron will to make that dream come true.

The Lord of the Legion, a vicious tyrant, has overthrown the king in a relentless and murderous quest for seven mythic artifacts—and Augum’s mentor, the legendary Anna Atticus Stone, possesses one. While Augum struggles with demons from a painful childhood, a betrayal puts him, his friends, and his mentor through a harrowing ordeal that threatens to destroy them all … and change the course of history.

Arcane, the debut novel in the fantasy adventure series The Arinthian Line, follows three friends as they navigate an ancient abandoned castle, endure grueling training, challenge old mysteries, and learn that a bond forged in tragedy might just be the only thing to save them from a ruthless enemy.

97,000 words. Approximately 275  pages on electronic media, 409 on print.

The book will be released sometime this month. To receive an email of release and how to get yourself a copy, sign up here.

If you would like a free pre-release advanced copy in exchange for a fair review, email me at severbronny[insert at symbol here]gmail.com

Thank you kindly for your support, your advice, your friendship.

With warm regards,

Sever

My Open Source Low Budget Self Publishing Author Marketing Campaign

I’m fine-tuning a low budget marketing campaign for Arcane, my debut fantasy-adventure novel from The Arinthian Line series. The aim is rather simple: gather 50 core people that enjoy the book enough to talk about it.

This is a fluid list as I come up with more / better ideas, and will take into account suggestions from others.

What I have so far, in order:

  1. Cover + blurb reveal on kboards (with release date?)
  2. Cover + blurb reveal on facebook / twitter / myspace / my music website / this blog / my email list (with release date?)
  3. Post a 50 page sample (at end of sample give link to buy rest of book – if logistically possible, give discount for buyer)
  4. Announce release date on all relevant social media (and update gravitar / widgets / connect blog to google+, etc. The key is uniformity of message.)
  5. Respectfully solicit reviews on Goodreads / Amazon / twitter / LibraryThing / relevant blogs (emailing a free copy of book). Or maybe just email the book and not ask for reviews; if it happens, it happens. Choose either Goodreads or Librarything (I don’t have energy for both).
  6. Find influencers (regular people, not industry pros) in my genre and give them a free copy to read. Look for ordinary people who can’t help but tweet about their favorite fantasy books. [EG: Search for “fantasy reader” on twitter and add them]
  7. Politely ask other Fantasy authors to contribute an endorsement tagline
  8. Reddit: Been a redditor for 2 years. Only post to r/fantasy after months of spending time there, and only then — so this is a maybe right now, depending on time constraints. For anyone else even thinking about posting on reddit, read THIS first. I’ve witnessed plenty of crash and burns, so tread at your own risk.
  9. Small Blog tour (maybe 2-4 a month). It has been suggested I do more. (Oh, and I still have to learn exactly how to do a blog tour, hehe).
  10. Print business cards of book and give them out like candy
  11. Go to this board and ask these guys where to get the word out. It’s a java based irc applet, but those guys know fantasy.
  12. Paid advertising: ENT, BookBlast, KindleBooks, Bookbub (with enough reviews that is).
  13. Go to the Kboards Tips & FAQ and carefully read and implement all points.
  14. Possibly do a small print run of 50-100 copies and hold a physical book launch in ONE local store and invite ALL my goo friends. I could offer said bookstore exclusivity to sell it in town. (Opinions?)
  15. RELEASE THE BOOK! (oh God, what do I do for release day — get drunk?)
  16. You may post one thread about your book, in the Book Bazaar board (again, kboards). You can use that thread to introduce your book, include a brief review, etc.
    – Price: $2.99 for a 98,000 word ebook (and when three in series are released, make 1st one perma free)
    – Should there be the demand, release a print book and an audio book (will use funds from sales).

The Russell Blake rule: After release, spend 75% of my time writing book four in the series, 25% on marketing.

That 25% will consist of the following:

  1. 90-95% of the time tweeting about my indie publishing journey / things I’ve learned / fantasy / writing how-to’s / advice columns / advice blogs; the remain 5%-10% on my personal book and blog. Tweets scheduled using Hootsuite (I love that app!).
  2. Blog tour / commenting on other blogs I find interesting
  3. Be a little more social on facebook (sigh … I hates FB)
  4. Post photos of the writing life in all it’s glory (don’t read into that you)
  5. Be creative — come up with a video for book (and if you haven’t seen my last video for my music, it’s HERE)
  6. Build email list, only emailing for releases
  7. Blog Once a month (I’m a convert of slow blogging, as introduced to me by Anne R. Allen in this post).

So did I miss something? Have a trick to add to this list? Let me know! And of course, use what you like for your own campaign :)

Thanks to the following for throwing in ideas for this specific post:

Cindy Johnson
Kathryn OHalloran
Pamela Kelley
Joe Nobody
jtbullet
Sandra K. Williams

Why It’s Important to Follow Your Dreams on a Daily Basis

“This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
— Quote from the movie Fight Club

I often scroll through an ocean of blog and article links looking for quality content, content I can grow by and use practically. Time is precious online, especially because we’re so easily distracted. All it takes is for one of those links to strike the right interest chord and there goes ten minutes of your time. Sometimes that interesting link leads to another, or to a video, and next thing you know, an hour has flashed by.

Scientists have discovered that we get a miniature heroin-like dose of joy from clicking links and reading articles. Infotainment is actually that addictive. And therein lies the crux, for amongst this sea of cerebral masturbation one must separate out what is valuable and what is useless. Working from home poses these challenges; we must discipline ourselves to skip those things that hamper our goals.

So what are your goals? Do you want to own a house, have kids, work in a certain career? Do you want to work from home, have a wife or husband, or travel the world? Do you want to make a certain amount of money a year? What is success to you? What do you want to spend time on?

The hours add up quickly. Our daily micro judgements on what we spend time on become valuable. The framework for making those judgements becomes valuable. At work, we are paid hourly for our time. Everything we own is on loan, paid for with time. We give it all back in the end; we can’t take anything past death. Time is the new currency.

Now apply that to following your dreams. Imagine your time is worth, say, $20 an hour. If you spent four hours surfing the internet looking at infotainment, you spend $80 of your time doing so. Now here’s the question: did you gain back $80 worth of knowledge from that surfing?

These are just ideas in productivity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have any fun — no, what I’m saying is we must be conscious of the daily micro decisions that add up the grandiosity that is our life (and learning to relax and enjoy ourselves is another skill beyond the scope of this blog post).

And that’s why it’s so critical to follow our dreams on a daily basis. Step by step, word by word, link by link, we build the lives we want. The lucky ones do it consciously; assert greater control over their micro decisions; choose progress over lethargy.

Imagine getting paid for doing things we love. Imagine finding love in what we already do. I believe that, if we are conscious of our daily micro decisions, these things just … happen, yet they happen slowly. Only when we pause and look back can we appreciate how far we have come.

Time is precious. What you are doing this moment is your life; who you are right now.

Procrastination — A Uniquely Tailored Enemy.

Procrastination is a failure of the watch, so to speak. It’s a uniquely tailored enemy that’s different for all of us. It attacks when it senses weakness and thrives on each subsequent indulgence. We crave it though, feeding the beast with distractions, excuses and entertainment. It’s a particular nuisance in the digital age, where the entirety of human understanding can be accessed at the click of a mouse; any person can be reached by a single text; any object (or food) ordered without leaving the house.

Writers are especially prone to procrastination, for we tend to spend many hours at home. I find how I start the day impacts my output greatly. If the first thing I do in the morning is check reddit, well, it sets the tone until nightfall. Thoughts tend to wander that much more; my eyes flick about searching for visual stimuli; my hands wring and grope for texture instead of remaining on the keys.

Everyone’s different, but here are a few things that work for some: try keeping your visual sight lines simple, the phone off or out of reach, noise reduced to nothing but the low hum of a computer (or nothing at all. Oh and do we still use words like “computer”?). Some writers even disconnect from the net and shut themselves in a dark dungeon of a room, with perhaps nothing adorning the walls except for a miserable floral embroidery.

You know what really works for me? I write in the bath. Yup, I actually sit in the bath and write, the laptop perched on a small table beside the tub like an electric vulture (insert electrocution joke here). You know what’s hard to do while writing in the bath? Get distracted. Silly, I know, but it works. Now I can’t stay in the bath too long (six hours is all right, isn’t it?), so inevitably I slither out like Voldemort in snake form to settle at the dining table.

When on dry land, however, sometimes I get up and pace. Invariably my eyes stumble upon all these pretty objects that somehow need attention right then. A little mental battle ensues (I think of it more like a paper joust). Usually the driven side of me wins and I return to writing, but other times I suddenly realize I’ve been playing sudoku for the last hour, an hour that can never reclaim its rightful productivity.

But procrastination is a clever adversary. You draw a blank while writing a particularly demanding scene and your mind uses that moment of hesitation to rudely butt in with its crack-dealer voice: “Hey, remember that thing you were supposed to do last week? You know, that thing. Why not do that now? Wouldn’t that be great? You deserve a break anyway.”

Those are the times we must be brave, friends, and plow through the insufferable whining of our needy selves. Yes, we are our own worst enemies. Just do it; just keep going. Sheer determination and discipline (some call it ambition) melts procrastination like a cheap plastic dummy subjected to the torments of a pyromaniac child.

And there are tricks I tell you! But don’t be fooled – our greatest strength, and still the greatest enemy of procrastination, is simple discipline. The “just do it” mentality. You can trick yourself only so far, but your determination / drive / diligence etc. is what will get you through, day in and day out, week after week and month after month — for the really big projects, the glorious ones, take a long, long time to conclude, especially if you’re interested in quality.

All right, let me share my tricks (the ones that actually work, mind you):

– Getting up and turning on the laptop first thing, prepping it for writing
– Making a liter of tea. After lunch, another one (two bags a day keeps me focused, I find)
– Eating a strong but light breakfast (mental note: stop skipping so many breakfasts)
– Drawing a bath (snicker all you like, it works!)
– Leaving all email / reddit / surfing / forum / marketing tasks for after the writing
– Rubbing my hands together in excitement. This trick is particularly effective for down times. I’ve used neurolinguistic programming (thanks, Tony), to map this gesture to adrenaline. It gets me going quickly and resets my thinking when my mind wanders.
– As a last resort, I read something that inspires me. Sometimes it’s a how-to book, sometimes a novel.

These tricks served me through three record albums and now three books. Maybe they might help you too :)

So, that said, do you have any tricks to share?