Tag Archives: Path to Indie Publication

MY PATH TO INDIE PUBLICATION: PART XII—Promotions

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 IXPart XPart XIPart XIII.

Part XII—Promotion. What worked for me… [Gradually updating this post as more numbers come in.]

May not work for you. Mileage varies. Seriously.

WARNING LOTS OF NUMBERS THAT MAY BE MEANINGLESS.

My experiment this week? This is it. This blog post, okay probably two-three blog posts this week, but nothing else. I’m not doing any promoting as such. I’m simply letting my books sit at certain prices. ALL IS SILENCE is only $2.99. [Author’s note: I sold two copies during the week.] Ironically, TOILS AND SNARES, half the length is currently $3.99, because it has to stay at the original price for two weeks after a countdown promotion. Then I’ll move it to $2.99 and add STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS, now at the New Release price of $6.99, temporarily selling for $4.99 from 11/22 to 11/30. [Three copies AiS and one of SiD in three days between promos.] Thus closing out the ELEVENSIES sale with all three major ebooks available for under $11.

I started the month with a 7 day Kindle Countdown deal on TOILS AND SNARES at $0.99, marked down from $2.99. Mixed in giveaway days for all my short fiction and dropped the price of ALL IS SILENCE to $2.99 for the entire month. I earned almost the same exact amount of sales in August as I did in November, but there was a long tale of Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) reads in August that did not stretch as high or as far as in November. In fact, November’s KENP was more than triple the number of reads. Of course, as soon as I said I had a 13 day streak of KENP reads in a post, it disappeared. I had feared it would and even commented to that effect on my note. KENP which counts for almost half a cent per ‘kindle “page”‘ equated to 26 sales at the sale price, an average of 4+ sales of TOILS AND SNARES a day over two weeks. Not too shabby. My advertising expenses? $65. My net income $61 and change.

Now ALL IS SILENCE has been on sale for $2.99 all month, selling steadily, but not really jumping until the adverts kicked in on the 9th and six sales on the 10th. The promotions did not come close to covering costs if we only count likely residual sales of ALL IS SILENCE, but the sales have continued steadily. And I am within a few dollars of covering all the advertising costs accrued so far this month. Sales of STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS and KENP reads have made up for those sales. So this week with no paid promotion and no additional effort, it will be interesting to see if it continues to sell at that same pace.

Wattpad has gotten focused attention on other blog posts, but my final evaluation is that though I will sell few books through Wattpad, I will likely gain significant fans who do things like vote for my novel’s cover art, and hopefully, tell their friends, and hopefully, eventually become book buying adults who will grab future books in print or electronic form.

I’ve applied for three BookBubs, all for TOILS AND SNARES. I’ve not yet gotten one. I lowered it from a $0.99 a Free and feel that the number of reviews, holding steady at 15, is likely holding me back. I will continue to submit TOILS AND SNARES until it is either chosen or I am ready to submit ALL IS SILENCE at $0.99 price point which will probably be in February. So, if you have read TOILS AND SNARES or would like to in order to give it an honest review, please let me know.

Promotions Current Evaluation: What I’ve mostly learned is that a lot of the success is still random, but I’ve always come within a few dollars of breaking even on my grouped promos and that means that a lot more people are reading them, I’m really hoping for a few of those reads to turn into reviews. I’ll update my results the first week of December.

Semi-Final November: 48 copies of AiS ebook, 9 copies SiD ebook, 32 T&S. 17 full reads on KENP [about equivalent to selling 11 at $2.99] So, as of 11/29. I’ve sold between 100 and 106 ebooks in November. 111 would be better considering the Elevensies sale or even better 121! This does not count sales from slow reporters like BookBaby. Even later news: Ended November Elevnsies sale with 111 after some adjustments and 2 late posters from BookBaby came in. February Twosie Sale? Also 111 sales so far. 

 

Thanks for reading the Path to Indie Publishing.

MY PATH TO INDIE PUBLICATION: PART XI—KDP Select and a “novella” idea

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 IXPart X

Part XI— KDP Select and a “novella” idea.

Once I had published ALL IS SILENCE on all formats and in all major markets, I realized I was unable to take full advantage of Amazon’s considerable marketing. My idea for a solution was to write a novella set in the same universe. I expected it to take a month or so and be a short novella, about 22,222 words, or that was the goal I set. I had the idea of a story that was a prequel to a later series of DESERTED LANDS novels about a religious family that had gone off into the wilderness to escape the pandemic. It would start slightly earlier than ALL IS SILENCE and cover a longer period of time with a lot less characters. Then at a point 15 years in the future the two storylines would connect.

By marketing the novella as a parallelequel, I might gain new readers for ALL IS SILENCE, but most importantly, I could offer it on Kindle Select and take advantage of Free days and Countdown Offers. While working on the novella, working title: SAFE THUS FAR, I realized I could also begin uploading short stories to Kindle Select and submit them to Kindle Singles.

I chose my first, JUST DESERT, a long short story that I was proud of, but had no connection to anything else I had written. I did a quick rewrite, I hadn’t read it for years and had gone through several revisions when I first wrote it and a revision in order to submit to the Norman Mailer fiction competition. I was pleased with the story, so I uploaded it to Scrivener, formatted it and then added a bonus short-short story: BEGINNINGS, the opening story to the OUTWARD BOUND collection. Already free to read on Amazon by using the LOOK INSIDE feature. I thought it might offer an invitation to read OUTWARD BOUND or one of the other DESERTED LANDS works.

August of 2014, when I released JUST DESERT, also happened to be the month Amazon introduced the Kindle Unlimited program. Not surprising to me, my ebook sales dropped 90% from August to September. Now some of that was that my book had been out for 8 months, but I could read the writing on the wall. I needed more ebooks on kindle select without moving ALL IS SILENCE out of all the other markets. So, I continued working on TOILS AND SNARES [Safe Thus Far sounded too, uh… safe.] I also got another short story, ONE TIN SOLDIER, up on Kindle Select.

I’d planned on TOILS AND SNARES being in the 20,000 word range, but as I wrote I realized the story, though smaller than ALL IS SILENCE was going to be a lot bigger than planned. When I finally finished it, I had over 40,000 words. Instead of paying one editor, I worked with no less than 8 people offering me advice on the story. I also uploaded it half a chapter at a time once a week, building up to putting it on sale. It didn’t do as well on Wattpad as ALL IS SILENCE, but that didn’t surprise me; it wasn’t young adult.

For TOILS AND SNARES and all of the other Kindle Select submissions I did my own cover art. For the two short stories I used the website Canva and spent a couple hours per cover and a couple bucks for stock art. For TOILS AND SNARES I used a photo taken by my son near the area where the story is set, lifted some of the lettering from ALL IS SILENCE and then did the title art myself. None of these titles look as good as the three covers I’ve paid for, but they’ve cost me about 10% as much even figuring in time spent.

When TOILS AND SNARES released on February 28th, it had a nice solid bump. And what do you know? There was a corresponding bump in sales of ALL IS SILENCE about a week later. Now this week I’ve got TOILS AND SNARES on sale with a Kindle Countdown. I’ve managed to hit my highest Amazon author ran in all categories, but the #1056 in Science Fiction made me happiest.

What I’m hoping for now is enough reviews to get TOILS AND SNARES on a Bookbub advert and see if I can ride that wave into the release of STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS this summer.

That’s all for now. I think my next Path to Indie Publishing post will probably be a final update on my Wattpad experience where this week TOILS AND SNARES is #62, STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is #20 and ALL IS SILENCE is #1.

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

New Frequently Asked Questions thanks to Wattpad.

As ALL IS SILENCE has climbed the WATTPAD Science Fiction charts to #1, I have started to get a few questions over and over. I can only assume [be careful you know what that means, Rob.] that other folks might have the same questions.

If you have any other questions you think other readers might like answered, let me know. Eventually, I’ll get a new page up on the website for these! Thanks. Rob

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you have any Writing Advice/Publishing Tips?
A. Publishing tips? Here are a dozen blog posts on My Path to Indie Publication.
A. Writing advice? Roberts’ Rules of (w)riting
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Q. How long is ALL IS SILENCE/is it done yet?
A. All Is Silence is finished and has 35 chapters. I will be uploading a chapter a week in three parts until early April 2015, then I’ll upload the first several chapters of its sequel. If you can’t wait, you can go to www.desertedlands.com and purchase an e-book or print copy.
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Q. Can you help me with my grammar/critique my story/help me format my e-book/etc.
A. I completely appreciate the desire to have someone read and offer a critique. One kind writer give me a verbal critique of the beginning of my first novel. Unfortunately, I am a school teacher by day, parent by night and have to squeeze in the times that I get to write and edit. I teach English so I get to edit papers daily. My son is applying for colleges and has an A.P. Literature class, so I offer suggestions and edits for him. In addition, I am in a writer’s group because I still need advice on my writing and I offer edits and critiques for that. So unless you go to my high school, join my writer’s group, or become my kid, I’m afraid I’m going to have to say no. If you join my newsletter at www.desertedlands.com you will hear about any conventions I might be attending and I will be doing writing workshops at some of them.
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Q. Are there more books about Lizzie? How many books are in the Deserted Lands series?
A. Lizzie will be in at least three more books, her trilogy and then one several years down the road. I currently have nine novel ideas for the series and about that many short story ideas. I will be releasing the novella [short novel about 111 pages] TOILS AND SNARES, a parallelequel to AIS, in the next month. It has different characters, but take place at the same time. It explains a bit more about how the pandemic happened. If you want to know more sign up for my newletter [yadda, yadda, yadda].

Why write a book for an audience that doesn’t read?

From 1999 to 2012 I taught at small alternative schools. One of the challenges as an English teacher is finding books that can hook students who did not grow up reading. Most students have one book that they read and loved: The Giver, Of Mice and Men, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Witch of Blackbird Pond, My Side of the Mountain, Island of Blue Dolphins,Hunger Games. I wanted to write a book for the kids who have gotten to high school without finding that book that they couldn’t put down.

I worked with a lot of young women who had lives that continually interceded with every attempt to connect with school: boyfriends, fathers, mothers, siblings, girlfriends, jobs, pregnancy, illness, drugs, boredom… Many of these young women eventually graduated from high school. Many did not. Most are doing well. They come and bring their kids, or their partners, show me pictures of their kids, their cars, etc.

I had the idea for the Deserted Lands Universe about 20 years ago right after finishing Lord of the Flies. The book made me very angry. How depressing can you be? Take the best of the best and strand them on an island and within weeks they will have degenerated into savages? Not the kind of stories I wanted to write. So I wrote a short story originally called Jailbreak 2000 or something like that. By the time I finished the first draft I had a new title: Nor Iron Bars a Cage.

The setup was that in a prison for the most violent convicts in the near future, inmates would spend half their time hooked up to a M.I.L.D. [Mescaline Induced Lucid Dreaming] System. When a plague hit killing 90% of humanity, these men and women were not afflicted by the disease due to the medicinal qualities of the Mescaline. They would start over and I wanted to show that for the most part these worst of the worst would make good. The short story grew in size and never did reach a satisfactory end.

My time for writing was limited over the next few years. I got a full-time job, had two more kids, got married, became president of Shakespeare NorthWest, got my Masters Degree and my National Board certification and released a CD, Some of the Parts. For more specifics on the writing path, you can read, Path to Indie Publication: Parts 1-10. My life took a couple left turns in there and I found myself drawn back to writing fiction.

So, 15 years after the first spark,  I had an idea. What if this plague hit and we followed the story of an At-Risk teen girl, someone who had a rough life so far? That was in 2011. The idea lay in my subconscious other than a few notes. I wrote an intro scene, Lizzie eating the last frozen pizza with a shotgun in her lap with a dead guy out in the street she’d killed while protecting herself. Oh, and the dripping can of Lima beans pierced by the buck shot. 😉 A few paragraphs actually made it into All Is Silence.

When I began writing I shared the WIP [work in progress] with two 15 year old girls. They asked for more, demanding it at times. Eventually,  I got to the point where it slow ed way down. Then the first two attempts at an ending came up short. I would have to wait quite a while to see if my novel appealed to the target audience.  My first most passionate responses came from older folks, retired Senior citizens.

When the book came out,  students started reading and responding. My fellow teachers told me they were having to tell kids to stop reading my book. My first reviews from teens came in. And most demanded more. I got my first OMG tweet exchange between two teens I didn’t know. “I just got All Is Silence.” “OMG, it’s that book!” That sounded like success to me.

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 IX– Party On.

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

Party On.*

One of the ideas I had picked up from Mary Robinett Kowal’s Debut Author lessons, an excellent and concise primer for how to act pro as a newbie author, was that I needed professional author photos. I had been crossing paths for several years with Damian Vines, an acquaintance from my Grays Harbor wannabe rocker years. We played some guitar, exchanged Facebook posts and I marveled at his growing body of fine art photography. When it came time, we agreed that the grounds of the old Northern State mental hospital grounds in Sedro Woolley would be perfect for some apocalyptic shots. The day was cold, but we got some great photos

Then during a chance conversation at Village Books with Paul Hansen, store manager, he suggested I have the Release Party at Village Books. I had been thinking of other venues around town, churches, former churches, even Windward High School where I teach. But what better place to do a release party? I wanted to do it almost immediately, this was the second week of February and I wanted to do it on the 20th of February, but Christina at VB events convinced me to put it out a month so we could get the word out.

Elena, my partner, and Amanda, my editor, gave me advice to improve on the reading I had done at AWP in Seattle. I cut down the one section I had read, leaving it on a cliffhanger and chose another short one that I also hoped would leave the listeners wanting more. I put up a Facebook event, a Google+ event, posted it on my blog, my newsletter, Goodreads and my Amazon author page. I invited 500 of my various followers who might be within driving distance. When the day came, 50 people had RSVP’d they would be there. I created a powerpoint to run before the event started, I rehearsed to songs I’d written that I thought seemed to fit thematically. I ordered pizza and Mountain Dew, food for the Apocalypse, as well as cookies, tea and coffee for those wanting a kinder, gentler end of the world.

I printed up cards for a free giveaway of my short fiction and poetry collection. Each card was numbered so I could not only see how many folks attended, but also do drawings for door-prizes:robslater a copy of Some of the Parts, my CD of original music, and a copy of Blue Deer: Four Generations of Poetry, my mom’s poetry book which includes poems by her father, me and some of my kids. Everything was going well, albeit a little harried. Parking near Village Books was practically non-existent. I parked in a no parking zone to unload boxes of books, guitar and other stuff. And then realized that I only had my school computer which did not have the VGA connector to hook up the presentation. Oops.

I played an extra song while folks were continuing to stream in and then started the show about five minutes late, but with most of the chairs filled. We ended up with at least 75 people as I gave out all 75 cards I had printed. We had a nice break midway through and most of the pizza and all of the cookies disappeared. After each of the readings I fielded questions including my favorite, “How old should you be to read this book?” I suggested that anyone under 15 probably should check it out with parents first. We sold 24 books and had a lovely, lovely evening ending in drinks with friends across the green at the Archer Ale House.

I followed the release party up with a Hometown Reading the first weekend of my spring break. [Immortalized in this Seussian poem] The reading took place at the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library, a home away from home when I was growing up and the place where some forward thinking librarian got me hooked on Science Fiction. We did essentially the same format as the release party minus the pizza. This time we got the projector up and running the presentation. The crowd was smaller, and many called me, “Robbie,” as they’d known me since childhood. We sold a few more books, had a pleasant weekend of thrift store shopping and ate at two of my favorite restaurant meals: Casa Mia Pizza’s Special and The Canton’s Egg rolls. I brought extra servings of both back home to Bellingham, after doing a reading at Harbor High School in Aberdeen. I also left copies for the other two local high school libraries and fundraisers. Not long after getting home with the food, my high school buddy, Derek Cook, principal of Harbor High contacted me to buy a classroom set of 30!

I realized the price I had quoted, once shipped would be nearly at cost. Thankfully, I managed to send them south with my niece, another former Grays Harborite, saving the shipping cost of 30 pounds of books.

Next Week: Part X—Finding Equilibrium, the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. Where our author goes to conventions and finds success and failure.

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

My Path to Indie Publication: Part V–Reality and the Instability of Time

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.

Reality and the Instability of Time, a.k.a. Learning to Use Scotty’s Law of Time Estimation (or even less well known, how to a write a blog post with too long a title…)*

[Author’s Note: Sorry this is late. It’s at least slightly ironic that this blog-post was late, no?]

When I “finished” the first draft of And Everything After… [Third working title. First was Zombie Zoo, Second was Where Have All Your Children Gone?] I decided I wanted to publish in August of 2013—TEN MONTHS after I’d written the first words. Hubris? Yeah. There have been lots of humbling moments in response to this presumptuousness.

As part of my NANOWRIMO prizes, and on the recommendation of my new editor, I bought Scrivener Writing Software for half-price–a steal at $20. Reasonable at the usual price. I bought the Windows version to format Outward Bound, the Science Fiction & Poetry collection. I had struggled with the NANOWRIMO 45 day free download of Scrivener and given up on it.

After the stress of finishing the first draft of the novel, I found that taking already existing documents and uploading them into the software was easy. Then turning it all into an e-book was even easier. The only real issue I had was formatting the poetry. One poem graphically moves across the page like a spiral galaxy; getting it to look right in an ebook was challenging. I had hoped to release Outward Bound in April or May as a way to build interest in the release of All Is Silence In the World [the penultimate title]. But as June came, it was not yet ready for prime time. Luckily, as a self published author the only deadlines one has to hit are ones own.

Meeting Alice Acheson at the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference helped me figure out a more reasonable plan for marketing and releasing the novel. All Is Silence. Alice suggested waiting until February because when bookstores get a book at the holiday season or soon after, there is so much going on that it may not get noticed. So I picked February 11th. It seemed like a long way off.

With my final installment of Memories of Light, the Science Fiction Serial, appearing in the Bellingham Herald in August, I wanted to maximize that press opportunity. But the novel was not nearly finished. I decided that releasing Outward Bound instead of the novel in mid-August with a sampler chapter of the novel made the most sense.

In late July I submitted the current draft of the novel to CreateSpace to see what it looked like in print. I went with a generic cover and the wrong title, Deserted Lands, not wanting anything to go wrong about having the book out too soon. I had printed a slipcover for it featuring the amazing art of Pintado. ALL IS SILENCE.  I was thrilled to hold it in my hands. For about 30 seconds. Well, maybe five whole minutes. This now svelte title, cut down due to reading a blog from Mark Coker of Smashwords, [Web editor’s note: Rob’s daughter Sheridan suggested cutting the title to ‘All is Silence’ months before he] housed a manuscript that needed a similar svelteness.  If I had published it at this point I would have been deeply embarrassed, yet many of the self-published books I have tried to read seemed to be released at this point.

The weeks leading up to the release of Outward Bound and my “chapter” of Memories of Light became full of marketing and formatting and uploading and re-editing stories and poetry I hadn’t read in years as well as the new Deserted lands works. On a challenge from Holly Lisle, I had started three short stories set in the Deserted Lands universe intending to include them in the collection. The first two came easily, but I realized the third was not a short story. It told about a European stuck in the U.S. due to the pandemic and trying to figure out how to get home to his lover who had also miraculously survived. This novel, about a bunch of non-sailors trying to cross the Atlantic, is now slated for #10 in the series, I think. Might be #7.

More delays coming. Which leads into Part VI: Playing the Professional.

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