Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gearing up and Kickstarter

November only has a few days left and I am getting ready to start all of the formatting and converting of the second novel.  I am awaiting feed back still from two beta readers is all, however regardless come December, I will be moving forward with the book to meet its Dec 15 release date.  Be on the lookout for an updated "How to Convert Your Manuscript" post in the next few weeks.  The first one I did in June has been viewed almost 1,000 times since I posted it.

Part of me still wants to take December off, but over the Thanksgiving holiday, each day that I didn't do anything with writing, promoting, or marketing the books just felt like a wasted day.  Next week will be busy with polishing Guardian, but the rest of December...  I don't know.  I think I will get a jump start on re-outlining the final book in the trilogy titled Sentinel, and if I have time, start writing the first 10,000 word short story  for Hyperion.  Its current working title is "Girl in the Clockwork Dress".  We will see, there is still a lot of Skyrim to play and World of Warcraft just put out patch 4.3 and I am looking forward to the Well of Eternity 5 man.  Distractions distractions distractions...

There have been a couple of interesting posts on KindleBoards the last week.  Both involved the website Kickstarter.  One thread quickly spiraled out of control, and the other thread was much more productive.  This got me to thinking about a way to setup and generate pre-sales of your book.  Unfortunately PubIt and Amazon's KDP do not allow a way for you to launch early, set up a pre-sales site or even set a release date other than the day you upload your files and that is sketchy at best.  You could use Kickstarter for this.  I have not spent too much time on the site, so I am not aware of all of the nuances, but if you were getting ready to launch a book, Kickstarter might be something to try.

Lets look at Requiem hypothetically for a moment.  There are a lot of costs involved in setting up a title.
Two ISBN numbers: $50
Cover Art: $300
Paperback setup, proof, catalog: $200
First run of 50 books: $310

There are more costs, but I won't count them for this example, like ink, paper, photo licences, vendor fees, postcards, costs of editing and time.  So just the basic setup fees to get a print run of 50 books ran well over $800.  The good news is by selling these 50 copies, I recouped my out of pocket money, but that was about it.  A lot of people don't have a lot of money laying around, so this is where Kickstarter comes in.  Set a goal, say $1,000 minimum.  For a $3 donation, you will receive a zip file containing the e-book.  For $15, you will get a signed and dated copy of the paperback as well as the e-book. And for say a $25 donation you get the e-book, signed paperback, and your name will be listed in the book under acknowledgments.  If you don't reach your goal, no one is charged and your project fails.  If you reach your goal, people can still donate until the project deadline launches.  So if you raise $3,000 you might just do a larger print run if more than 50 people want the book.

I didn't know about Kickstarter for Requiem, it's too late for Guardian, but I might try it as a pre-sales tool for Sentinel.  Seeing how it will be the final book in the trilogy, it leaves a lot of options for donations.  Say a discounted $5 for all three e-books.  $15 for the e-books and a paperback of Sentinel.  $60 donation for all three e-books and a signed matching set of the trilogy in paperback with an acknowledgement by the author. Too many options confuse people however.

Anyway, check out Kickstarter and see if its a tool you might be able to leverage.  Also if you haven't checked out my Facebook page, do so now and become a fan.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Moving to Facebook and other projects

Feedback from beta readers of Guardian are starting to trickle in.  So far it has all been positive, and it appears we have done an excellent job of editing, two commas and a missing word is all that has been noticed.  Everything is still ahead of schedule for a Dec 15 launch of Guardian.

I have started a page for SBJones Publishing on Facebook.  To get a unique Facebook URL, I need a minimum of 25 fans.  If you are a Facebook user please check out the page and become a fan.  It's a lot easier to upload and find photos there as well.  Click the link here to be redirected to my Facebook page.

When I originally outlined The Eternal Gateway trilogy, I had the intentions for it be movie ready.  I have had people tell me that it is very visual and reads like movie.  About half way through writing Guardian, I was asked several times if the trilogy was going to be it, or would there be more.  Right now, as far as the main story with this set of characters, the trilogy is it.  They say the best way to ruin a good trilogy is by writing a fourth book.  However, there is enough material for countless projects set in the same universe.  There is the five year gap between books one and two.  The War of Antiquities is referenced several times and could be its own series.  The Keratin Nation from 1,000 years ago when Angela Atagi was born can be its own series as well, and other character spin offs like the Mastersons..  And finally, the ultimate cheat is Mr. Eleazar and his time traveling days.

Anyway, the idea that the trilogy would be movies, morphed into the idea of an episodic writing project.  The first place I looked was doing a 10 short story project for The War of Antiquities.  I have the characters already like Therion, Vincent, and Duke Falconcrest.  What I ended up going with is a five short story project called Hyperion.  In the second book Hyperion Industries plays a minor roll, and in Sentinel the final book, it plays a much larger one.  I recall reading on several forums and blogs that unnecessary back story and detail needs or should be cut from a lot of books.  More often than not it just gets in the way of the story, slows it down, and pads the word count.  Do you need to know the background of Hyperion Industries to enjoy or understand Guardian?  No, so there shouldn't be 50,000 extra words of back story.

Another reason I chose to go with Hyperion Industries is more of a business and growth as a writer choice.  First is the idea of entry points.  With a trilogy, the only entry point for readers is the first book.  This means you have 3 books for sale, but they all hang on that first book.  If the customer doesn't like it, they will not be buying the other two.  So one entry point.  Doing a series of short independent stories gives me more entry points as well as a larger presence on the bookshelf.  The next business decision for trying some short stories comes from Joe Konrath.  His blog post about writing 2 novels and 3 short stories a year is all it takes to make a living if you can muster up 5-10,000 fans to buy your work.  Basic math and Amazon royalties will give you $5 if someone bought all 5 items.  $2.99 for the novels and 99c for the short stories will give you a $25,000-$50,000 in annual income.

Next is growth as a writer.  The Eternal Gateway is a sci-fi fantasy action book.  There is some comedy and romance, but about the same amount as what you would expect from an action story.  There is a lot of debate about changing genera's and confusing your readers, but I don't think anyone would feel that I betrayed them as an author with a short romance themed story, set in the same universe as the trilogy that involved the time traveler Mr. Eleazar.  Or a murder mystery involving ties to Vincent and Mr. Eleazar.  It's still steampunk, Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  Some of the best episodes of Star Trek were episodes that did not involve epic space battles.  The Inner Light episode from The Next Generation where Picard is trapped in the probe and lives the life of a dead society and City on the Edge of Forever where Spock and Kirk go back in time and fall in love with Joan Collins.  Another idea I am toying with is writing one or more of these short stories in first person, instead of a third god's eye view that the trilogy is.

Let me know what you think of the idea about entry points, short stories, episodic writing or anything else.  If you haven't clicked on the Facebook link, go ahead and do so now.  Even if you're not a fan, you can still take a look at the development pictures.  Lastly, happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Barnes and Noble results and Guardian cover debut

Where to begin?  Saturday's book signing at Barnes and Noble was a huge success.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  Having been a trainer for Dell, speaking and getting up in front of groups of people doesn't scare me or make me all rubber legged.  However, that was years ago.  Public events, crowds, and talking is a skill.  A skill I haven't used in a while so it was a bit rusty.  I met a TON of great people, and handed out close to 130 signed and dated postcards.

It's very interesting the dynamics of the people who walk into a Barnes and Noble.  The biggest surprise, but once you think about it, it kinda makes sense, was that very few people that I talked to owned an eReader.  The down side to this, is secondary online sales I expect are going to be low.  The last book signing had a nice spike in Kindle and Nook sales in the weeks following the event.  Regardless the exposure was priceless.  The staff of the store was great and impressed with the results.

So how well did the signing go?  Well...  Here is a picture of me acting all cool.  Some of the reactions people give are entertaining.  It's almost like there is some preconceived image of what an author looks like and I apparently don't fit the bill.  Even when I asked people if they would like to take a look at my book, they would still ask if I wrote it.

Book two: Guardian is just about finished.  There have been three complete edits and the book cover is finished as well.  I am ahead of schedule, and the manuscript is going to be sent to a few lucky beta readers.  So without further delay.  I present to you the full cover of The Eternal Gateway Book Two: Guardian.

I'm very pleased with it.  It was commissioned by JR Fleming.  And the book signing.  I sold out of every copy they had.  Achievement unlocked.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Countdown to Guardian and Barnes and Noble

This entry is a day later than normal, but I had the momentum going and I did not want to interrupt it.  Today, Guardian has been through three rounds of editing.  My editor and I finished up reading the last chapter out-loud only a few hours ago.  The only thing left for Guardian is to polish up the blurb and synopsis that goes on the back cover and hand out a beta copy or two for fresh eyes to experience the story without editor glasses on.  I had to spoil a bunch of book 3 for my editor as well.  At first she was content when I explained that the parts she wanted me to change or didn't make sense would be 'explained in the third book'.  But yesterday I had to let her in on everything.  As expected, everything made sense then.  The idea is that you can read through the trilogy and it will be a very good story.  But after the third book I want my readers to go back and re-read them and be totally shocked that they didn't see it earlier.  One of the original goals of the trilogy is 'replay value'.  Linear plots don't lend themselves well to this.

The most popular post on my blog by far is the entry in June about my eBook conversion guide.  I plan on rewriting it in the coming weeks when I convert Guardian to the Kindle and Nook formats.

This Saturday the 12th, I have a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Twin Falls Idaho for my first novel Requiem.  It starts at noon and I will be there until closing.  This is pretty cool because most self published authors never see their book on the shelf in a chain store, and even fewer have a book signing in one.  I didn't get any pictures of the last book signing so I will put fourth effort to get some this time.

Here is a closing picture.  It's not the greatest with the suns glare, but that is what I woke up to on Tuesday morning around 7:30am after the time change.  The water is warmer than the air so the river and waterfalls give off steam.  I wonder what story ideas this might inspire someone?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guardian is in the editing phase.

So last week I wrapped up the first draft of Guardian.  I printed out the last 30 pages before heading off to my editors place who already had 4/5 of the manuscript red line edited and waiting for me.  It took a little over 20 hours to apply all of the edits.  I was a little concerned with the amount of simple syntax and grammar editing there was.  Requiem on its first pass only took about 14 hours to edit for syntax and grammar.  Having been through this process once, I assumed there would be less grammar edits not more.  Apparently according to my editor when I asked, I write my sentences backwards. For example.

Original sentence.
"Arrow," she said, pointing at the dead guard's body.

Edited sentence.
"Arrow," she said, pointing at the guard's dead body.

English was never my strongest subject in school, but math is.  To me this is like saying 5-4=1  Not -4+5=1.  Honestly I see no difference between the two.  It was not limited to possessive nouns either.  Every page was like this.  So if any of you more experienced authors or editors could explain I would be grateful.

With the first round of editing finished.  My current itinerary is to spend two weeks on revisions.  The beginning of Guardian is a bit weak and I have a list of items I need to clarify.  One thing I dislike is having to repeat myself in my writing.  Take the movie Star Trek Generations.  The first movie for The Next Generation group.  They spent half the movie making sure that we know Data is a robot, Geordi is blind and the thing on his face is a visor that lets him see, and that Troi can sense other peoples emotions.  After 7 seasons on tv, we know this already.

So when I started cranking away at Guardian, I did not retell what to me was obvious.  Kail is a mage, Angela can fly and was born a thousand years ago.  Suki can heal, and Camden can turn his skin into the same material he is touching.  So I have to add these things back in, as well as reminders about what happened in the first book, Requiem.

Putting in these reminders will make Guardian a better book.  My editor's most compelling argument was that I do not know how much time has passed for someone who reads book one before they pick up book two, and the possibility that they start with book two.  I disagreed with argument about someone reading the trilogy out of order, but what sealed the deal was when she said, "You have one book, not seven seasons of Star Trek."  Point made editor, point made.