Tag Archives: Dante Rossetti

My Path to Indie Publication: Part X—Finding Equilibrium

Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V. Part VIPart VII. Part VIIIPart IX

Part X—Finding Equilibrium: the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. *

With the success of the three readings equaling sales of more than 70 books, I was very hyped about attending Norwescon 37. I created and ordered bookmarks—5000 for about $200 including shipping. They had special pricing codes: $3 off either a signed print book or a Kobo eBook as well as a note to find me on social media and I’d meet them at the con and sell them a signed copy for a great deal without the shipping and handling. Elena and I went down to the stuffing party to help put 3500 of my bookmarks into the swag bags. The result? [Because, I’m following Kris Rusch’s rule of not offering a deal unless you can track whether it is successful or not.] Nada. Zip. Zilch. The only book I sold was one that was already promised months before to a beta reader. She bought a second book, because I didn’t have change! Sheesh.

The best thing to happen at Norwescon was that I got to see Gordon Van Gelder, he had seen somewhere, a bookmark maybe, that I had a book coming out. He asked if I’d send him a review copy, which of course I was happy to do as I could then send him one of the new and rare copies with the Dante Rossetti Award announced on the cover. Will it lead to a review in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Who knows. But , alas, if this one doesn’t break with him, perhaps the next one will.

I still have about 1500 bookmarks and will be taking many of them to ALA14 to see if anything happens this time around. I also gave out a couple handfuls at Vikingcon in Bellingham with no discernible sales off site. I think bookmarks are cool, but don’t spend $200 and expect to get it back. I actually prefer the postcards that I made in cover-shaped format, a better way to get the name and the graphic out there. 

Vikingcon was really awesome. I met a bunch of cool people, and renewed my acquaintance with Greg and Astrid Bear. I met Greg at a Vikingcon in the 1990s and then got to be on a panel about Robert Heinlein with him in 2005 at Norwescon. So, I got to hang out with Greg Bear, I got a free table in the conference hall to sell my books and I got to meet really cool people. I am a fairly terminal optimist, so I signed 10 books with my name and inscribed Vikingcon 2014! But none sold before the panel with Greg. The panel on technology in SF, “Text me, Scotty.” went well. After the panel, my daughter Sheridan, womanning the booth with her daughter and younger sister, had sold two copies. A few people who had attended the panel came by and bought books. Then the Vikingcon folks came to pick up the signed copy I’d promised them. And as the Vendor’s hall was closing I sold the last of the 10 books. Maybe next time I should pre-inscribe 50? Nah. Lesson learned.

The biggest bump of sales not related to meeting people directly came from a friendly source. Dean Kahn, the Bellingham Herald editor who had guided the Serial Science Fiction story Memories of Light the previous year asked his readers to nominate the best books set in Bellingham. Four fans [also friends] wrote in praising my book. The day it came out I sold 9 ebooks and 2 print books in the next 24 hours and several more over the next few days. Yeah!

I’m currently sending out some short fiction set in the same universe to magazine editors in the hopes that a story might lead people to the novel. I’m also planning to release a standalone Deserted Lands novella, Toils and Snares, in the fall as an ebook. As I write this sales have gone flat, but they’ve already been better than I expected. I’ve got more readings set up and a trip to Las Vegas for the American Library Association convention followed by a drive up to Provo where the next book, Straight Into Darkness takes place.

The long awaited hardcover of All Is Silence will be here soon as will summer with more time to write. I’m doing a PubSlush campaign so I can pay my editors and cover artists more. The benefits will be commensurate with the crowd-funding amounts. More to come after school comes out.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s been a roller coaster for me, but as this ride continues, I feel more and more certain that choosing the Indie Publishing route was absolutely the right decision for me. As I have more insight into this amazing process, I’ll blog a bit more, but for now… I’ve gotta write on…

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

My Path to Indie Publication: Part VIII–Print Release, Awards and Readings.

Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V. Part VIPart VII. Part VIII. Part IX.

Print Release, Awards and Readings *

February 15th was my 47th birthday and that week Pintado’s cover for All Is Silence was awarded a Gold Star by Joel Friedlander’s Book Designer Cover Contest.ECDA-GoldStart-Jan-2014 The shipment of 500 books came in and I was ushered into the bowels of the Village Books store, where I discovered that 28 boxes of books will fit in a RAV4. The first of many surreal moments was sitting in the VB basement signing a box full of books. Paul Hanson, Store Manager, suggested that VB could host my Release Party. We set a date for March 14th which would give us time to advertise.

That weekend I wrote and published the first post in this series as I tried to create content for my blog instead of just announcing my writing progress. I spent the weekend away on Lummi Island in a friend’s cabin, updating my blog, creating the Rocket Tears Press website and a website for the cabin we were renting. [You can rent it, too. Special discount for Educators.]

Dystopian-compactThe following week the 2013 Dante Rossetti Young Adult Fiction Awards were announced and All Is Silence won 1st Place in the Dystopian category. Not only did it feel great to have the recognition, but part of the award is a professional review and promotion by the Chanticleer Reviews folks.

The next few weeks were a blur. Chanticleer Reviews invited me to do a reading at their booth at the Association of Writers and Publishers in Seattle and asked for books to sell. The reading was standing room only, since it was in the middle of an aisle, (As you can see in this photo montage by fellow author and editing peer, Jesikah Sundin) but it gave me a chance to try out my material. My editor and writing buddy, Amanda J. Hagarty helped out at the booth and got folks excited about the book. After the reading she came running. Hugh Howey had been sighted at the Amazon Booth. Jesikah and I rushed after her with books in hand.

We got pictures and Hugh asked if I was the writer of the book in my hand. He took it and flipped through it, seeming impressed. “Did you do the pagination yourself?” I nodded,  way too FanBoy at the moment to think of much to say other than thank him for all he’s done for Indie Authors with the Author’s Earnings site. I didn’t even offer him a copy of my book. Oops.

While researching this post I found a draft of a post [now published] I had started March 3rd titled: Pubslush & Kobo Winner. I had entered a random drawing this time and won! So, this summer I will be running a Pubslush crowdsourcing fundraiser so I can pay my cover artist and editors more on the second novel. Mark from Kobo had asked me to write a post about my relationship with Village Books for the Kobo Writing Life Blog. I had written the first draft over my Birthday weekend, submitted it and then forgot about it. It appeared somewhere in there.

Indieinsiders-nextpicksAll of these interactions with Kobo lead to the next big win. Thanks to Mark Lefebvre [writer name: Mark Leslie] of Kobo who nominated ALL IS SILENCE, it was listed as #1 on the inaugural IndieReader Next Picks list for April. In this maelstrom of excitement, I also forgot to post this one!

Next: Part IX – Party On. Where our author protagonist does a release party and some readings.

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

My Path to Indie Publication: Part VII–The Harder I Work the Luckier I Get

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V.  Part VI. 

The Harder I Work the Luckier I Get *

The Harder I work the Luckier I get. I know this quote has been said many times and many ways for many years. But I heard it first from one of the hardest working authors out there, Kevin Anderson. I don’t know if I heard him say this or if I heard it from Kris and Dean or someone else, but the thought stuck. I didn’t always pull it off, but I kept it as a goal. How does an artist get successful? By putting their work and their ‘self’ out for public consumption.

At the end of November I was stressed. I had only hit about 35,000 words for NANOWRIMO 2013 – Straight into Darkness, compared to the nearly 60,000 the year before. I wanted to get the pre-release copies of the novel out before the Holidays, but I had only finished the “last” draft, post-ARC, version 8.0 of All Is Silence at the end of October. This and Scrivener’s learning curve for print production, much more challenging than e-book, took the air out of my sales a couple times.

All Is Silence went out to the copy-editors after edits from me based on Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs] feedback. Five chapters at a time, a few days apart. 12/12, 12/15-19 5 chapter each day, then 12/24 and finally 12/28. I rewrote the ending chapter after significant advice from my partner, Elena.

I pushed through winter break editing and formatting, still hoping to release the e-book on January 1st. My vacation from school was anything but. While all this was going on I couldn’t stop the marketing piece. I ran two GoodReads giveaways over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. I blogged some. I built my Twitter following, Facebook, Google+ and newsletter lists. Christopher Key, a reviewer I’d known through my Shakespeare and theatre connections, agreed to review All Is Silence for the Entertainment News NorthWest, January edition. It was a stellar review noting Lizzie’s anti-hero. It came out on the 4th with a mention on the cover and then on the 7th of January All Is Silence went live to the world on two of the three major ebooksellers as I worked on finishing the formatting for print version.

Due to accidentally hitting the unpublish button on Kobo, I had trouble getting All Is Silence onto that market. I’d tried to republish and was waiting on a 72 hour process that took over a week. I was also fighting with ebook formatting wanting to keep my text in the fonts I had chosen for print. Baskerville for most of the text, but Arial Narrow Bold for the e-mails and texting between the characters. Then, a most auspicious e-mail arrive. Sam Kass, of Village Books, wanted to know if I was interested in a workshop with Kobo about their Self-Publishing site: Kobo Writing Life. I was frustrated by Kobo support’s lack of responsiveness on my issue {though I had not tried phone support [since phone calls are actually my Kryptonite. (I later used their phone support and received more immediate information.)]}.  Sam connected me with Mark Lefebvre, director of Kobo’s Self-Publishing and Author Relations [And an author himself under the name Mark Leslie]. He graciously helped me through my issues and even bought the first Kobo copy of All Is Silence when the narrative hooked him.

#3 with a bulletWe did the workshop. I learned a lot and gave pretty good advice, I think. Kobo ran a promotion for the book and lo and behold, the next day I was #7 on Kobo’s U.S. Young Adult Science Fiction chart. It went as high as #3, surrounded by Veronica Roth’s Divergent Universe books (Allegiant was the next book and her short stories filled many of the next rows). My story with Kobo was only beginning as I readied for the February 18th release date.

I wrapped up another GoodReads Giveaway at the end of January and was disappointed with the results, but to counter that was the good news that All Is Silence had been named a Finalist in the Dante Rossetti YA contest.

Next Week: Part VIII–Print Release, Awards and Readings.

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

My Path to Indie Publication: Part VI–Playing the Professional.

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V

Playing the Professional *

I had started marketing as soon as I knew I would be publishing the novel. I took my Twitter account created the previous year, created a similar named Google+ account and began posting on Facebook. I began building a emailing list for semi-monthly newsletters with a goal of having 100 names by the end of the year. The Twitter goal was 1000 and though I didn’t have numeric goals for Facebook and Google+, I intended to be actively involved and grow my ‘friends’ lists/circles.

I had purchased the desertedlands domain at the beginning of 2013, excited to find it not already parked or purchased. I began blogging using WordPress on both www.robslater.com and www.desertedlands.com in March and May of 2013 respectively.

On August 7th, I woke to a happy surprise, an email from Analog reviewer Don Sakers, a friend of a friend on the Heinlein Forum on Facebook. He requested the opportunity to read All Is Silence, warning me that he wouldn’t publish a bad review. I thanked him and promised an Advanced Reader Copy [ARC] by late September. My writer friends told me how rare it was for a reviewer to request an ARC. I was flying high.

By August 22nd, the release of my chapter of the serial, Memories of Light, in the Bellingham Herald, I was posting to the blogs 2-3 times a week, but mainly little updates, nothing resembling content. When Memories of Light came out, I got a huge bump in traffic that has not yet been surpassed. I humbly explained my changes of plans and the updated release dates and continued to stumble forward with the rewrites. The updated goal was to have a completed manuscript to enter into Chanticleer Reviews’ Dante Rossetti Young Adult Fiction contest by late September.

So, a new school year started and my day job resumed, with the added bonus that I got to teach a NANOWRIMO: Young Writer’s Program class, I began with 15 students all planning on writing at least 30,000 words. This gave me time during the day to plan when my students planned and write when they wrote. With early October approaching and a reading at Village Books for the Herald’s serial story I was scrambling to get Electronic Advanced Reader Copies [eARCs] out to be followed by print ARCs. When I sent off the manuscript to Chanticleer, it was complete, but not finished.

The next professional appearance was the reading at Village Books for the Herald serial story. I ended up getting to be the Master of Ceremonies and read Larry Goolsby’s section, the first ‘chapter’ and my own, the last. It went well we had a good house of about 35 people and I handed out a bunch of postcards with my two covers back to back. I dressed up in a button down shirt and did my best to ‘be’ the pro writer I wanted to be. After the reading I made sure to thank Sam, our Village Books host, and he asked if I’d be willing to be a future featured author in the Kobo e-book newsletter VB sends out monthly. Of course, I said yes.

I held off sending it off to Don Sakers of Analog until I’d done another pass on the manuscript. I was torn between not meeting deadlines I’d already extended and sending off something I knew needed to be better. I compromised with myself, did another edit and sent it to Don.

Straight into Darkness, the next book in Lizzie’s story, had begun to take shape. I hit 1732 words on November 1st. But the Scrivener to Print formatting had a learning curve took a major bite out of my time when I wanted to be writing. What I haven’t figured out yet, even as I try to be a pro writer by acting like one, is how to balance the writing and all the business: marketing, production and distribution.

Next: Part VII–The Harder I work the Luckier I Get.

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

1st Place Dystopian – Dante Rossetti YA Contest

Dante-Rossetti-images1-134x150

All Is Silence is the First Place in the Dystopian Category of the Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction 2013Congratulations, most especially to fellow local author Joannah Miley for The Immortal Game and nods to Mike Hartner and Nely Cab and the rest of the Dante First Place Winners. One Blue Ribbon winner will be chosen from the First Place category winners for a cash prize and entry into the Best of the Year award. Thanks, Chanticleer Reviews, the sponsor of the contest.

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News: All Is Silence, E-Book Workshop & Award Finalist.

Hey folks,

Shipment of the first 50 copies, the pre-publication edition, will arrive by next Wednesday, January 29th! There are only about 7 6 copies not already reserved/purchased.

If you are local Whatcom or Skagit folks, I will be appearing as a “local author” at Village Books workshop:

VB Writes…Ebook Publishing Workshop with Kobo Writing Life

01/25/2014 12:00-3:00 pm.
Oh, and, ALL IS SILENCE is a finalist in the Dante Rossetti Young Adult fiction contest. It’s great company including authors: Joannah Miley and Nely Cab.