The Big News Is…

the fourth prometheushttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1487090582/the-fourth-prometheus 

The big news from my previous post is that I have taken the jump into crowd-funding. I currently have a project live on Kickstarter.com for my most recent novel, The Fourth Prometheus. I’m pretty excited to be doing this as it is a first for me. I had been reading up on the next phase of publishing in the digital age and thought I would see how it works. I have backed several other Kickstarter projects so I was familiar with how the process works. Essentially people who visit the site offer to back my project at various levels of commitment. In return they will receive a copy of the book or books once and if the campaign is a success. That is what makes it relatively risk free. If my commitment goal of $750.00 is not reached no money changes hands.

The project will remain live until April 8th. I have spent some time looking over other projects on the site and thought this would be a good fit for me. The money generated will cover the final costs of editing, formatting, and cover design. The best news is the novel is done and will be releasing irregardless of the success of the project on Kickstarter, but if you want to get in on something special I have some great rewards for people who come on board. Every person who signs on will get their name in the acknowledgements section of the book and a copy of the eBook. For $15 you will receive a signed copy of the paperback, and for your reading convenience a copy of the eBook as well. Contributors at the top tier will have their name appear in the novel as a character. Here is a little description about the novel:

It is the fall of 1897 and Dr. Giselle Mathers has completed her late father’s grandest invention, a mechanical man. To honor the brother she had lost in the War Between the States she paid an artist to create a perfect likeness of him. She is horrified to learn her creation, Enkidam, has fallen in love with her and would kill for her. Giselle, working with a suspicious Constable and ace code writer, must re-code Enkidam’s processor while dodging the scheming rival scientist who wishes to build an army of disposable soldiers, all based on Enkidam, and the trigger-happy marshals she has enlisted to help secure the project.

As you probably guessed The Fourth Prometheus is a Steampunk take on the Frankenstein saga with a little bit of the myth of the Golem thrown in. You can bet I will be doing all that I can to see that I meet my funding goal as I am very confident in the work. I will be updating here and on Kickstarter with my progress throughout the campaign. Join me in helping Enkidam live.

All That We Have Lost

As writers we exist in a nebulous sphere of confusion and discord when it comes to copyright. We obviously want our works protected and only earning money for us, their creator. We also know that in order to build our audience we need to get our works out there for the public to see. These two concepts seem to work against each other. Added to this is the various content industries’ assertion that every work that is not paid for is effectively stolen. This notion largely is in error. I have read many a book or listened to many a CD of material that I wasn’t looking to purchase. In some cases I enjoyed what I experienced so much I did seek out and purchase the content for myself. Yet when it comes to the digital world we are constantly reminded that piracy is everywhere and to that end we have allowed several our our personal liberties to be taken away by the upholders and protectors of copyright profits. Do I have a solution. Not even close.

I came across this article on TorrentFreak pointing out some of the liberties we have lost in the ever escalating war on piracy. It is an interesting read and when you think of it we probably should have been more enraged by some of these. In Memory of the Liberties Lost In the War on Piracy

Thinking You Need An Agent.

This guest post from Ann R. Allen’s blog might give you some food for thought. Agent Laurie McLean from Fuse Entertainment explains why self-published may not need an agent. Or do they? Read the full post here: Why You Don’t Need a Literary Agent ,(But You Might Want One)

I foresee myself working with an agent at some point in the future. Let’s be honest, while independent authors have come a long way and I love what we are doing, the business of writing is still centered on what comes out of the Big 5 houses and that comes through agents and editors. Even many of the success stories of Amazon millionaires that you hear about are authors who originally came from the ranks of the traditionally published. Typically when I complete a manuscript I send out a dozen or so quires to see if there is any interest. Their response or lack of one won’t influence where I go from there but I consider it just one more of my writer’s chops to keep up on.

Independent publishing is not cheap either. A even an exemplary manuscript needs editing, typesetting, eBook formatting and a professional cover design. None of these are free. One take away from this piece was the use of Kickstarter.com to offset some of these costs. I know I’ll be doing some research on that avenue in the future. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments and we’ll see if we have a consensus on to agent or not to agent.

 

PS. Congrats to Anne for her blog’s inclusion among Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers.

2014 In Numbers

All totaled I sold 64 copies of my books in 2014. After printing, table fees, and taxes I was in the hole for $63 bucks for the year. Being an optimist I like to think of that as pretty good for the cost of my hobby over the year. Looking ahead I have doubled my book sales over each succeeding year so I am really excited for 2015.
I know when I was thinking about going into self publishing I looked everywhere for information on what to expect. Naturally my expectations far exceeded the reality and they still do. It is in that spirt that I am sharing this with you. Your year might have been better or it might have been worse. I know if I had gone to some more events I would have sold more books but I had to consider the cost of the event and what I would have to sell to break even. I’m planning on having 2 books launch in 2015 so I hope to be back here telling you that the streak continues.

Writing Resolutions

new years resolutionsThis post isn’t really about writing resolutions but about making your writing resolutions for 2015. Will you start that novel or finish it? Will you finally send that query letter out? Are you planing on getting something up on Createspace or Lulu.com?

Setting goals can be a double edged sword but at this time of year we all seem to do it. Typically I look to complete a novel a year. This year I almost finished 2, the sequel to Undead Heart (fin) and Midnight Detail (so close). I also have a collection of weird fiction that was intended to be out by now but I didn’t quite make that happen. Goals giveth and goals taketh away. All in all, while not my best year, 2014 was a productive one and I hope to keep that momentum going in 2015. What is your writing resolution for 2015? Let me know in the comments.

Listen To Joe

You have to try hard to miss the name JA Konrath when looking up independent or self publishing. His blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing has been in my RSS feed for a few years now and I always find his posts entertaining and helpful. His latest hammers in the same point that some writers, I fear, still seem to miss.

Don’t Pay To Self-Publish

Read it and please be on the lookout for scams. There is a whole cottage industry in operation whose sole purpose is parting naive and hopeful writers from their hard earned cash. That list covers everything from contests, conferences, books, author services and reviews. True it takes money to make money so you will have to spend a little. Just make sure you spend it on the important stuff, the editing, the formatting, and that cover. If you’re paying for anything else you are being had. Or worse, you are signing away the rights to your works. Knowledge is power. You’ve been knowledged.

Get Social Media Right

analyticsThat title might be a little bit of link bait, as I have yet to master all of my social media. (medias?) At any rate I did come across this article from ProBlogger that has some very good insights and useful numbers. I recommend giving it a look.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/12/11/get-social-media-right-five-things-you-just-cant-miss/

What you see there is one of the recommendations stressed in the article. Social media is all about engagement. I think too many writers err on the side of using social media as a broadcast platform. Even myself I can see some posts where I’m guilty of this. What really makes social media work is the social side of it. Share and communicate; entice your readers to communicate back. That is advice you cannot go wrong with.

It’s Getting Expensive To Be A Writer

broken piggy bank

One of my favorite magazines from my days as a young Heavy Metal fan was Circus Magazine. A series of articles I always looked forward to was by Twisted Sister guitarist Jay J. French that chronicled the trials and tribulations of taking a band from the garage to the arena. Thinking back on that helped me with this post.

So, you’ve finished writing your book and have joined an elite group of writers who can say they have written a book. Time to break out the checkbook. I cannot stress the importance of paying to have your work edited. You do not have to mortgage your home but be prepared to spend around 200 to 300 dollars depending on what you feel comfortable having done. A good cover is worth more than a hundred good reviews so you will want to hire a graphic artist to do your cover. 100 to 500 dollars will cover that and give you a cover to take to the bank. Once it is edited,  you will need to format your book for printing. This too, unless you are a word processing guru, would be better left to the professionals. Prices can vary and services can cover much. Don’t forget about the eBook version as well.

By this point you have a finished product. You also have a slightly or majorly smaller checkbook balance. Now comes the part where you have to try and recoup some and hopefully all of these expenses. It’s now time to put on your snappy suit and barker’s hat and sell your work. You are going to need business cards,  bookmarks and other materials. This is also time to stake out a place in cyberspace. That entails purchasing a domain and leasing space to host your site. Hiring someone to create your site used to be a luxury that has since come down to earth enough to make it an alternative if you are not technologically inclined. Of course if you are selling your books, the government is going to want their cut. Make sure to apply for a transaction privilege license, (sales tax), in your state,  county, and municipality. You will pay a fee to start and then a renewal on the anniversary date. Some states consolidate the license across all three so check first with your state’s department of revenue first.

Now that you have your book, your materials and are square with the government you need a place to sell your tomes. Of course your book is up on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or Lulu, or any other online marketplace. You may even be lucky to be in good with a local book seller and have a place on their shelves. Personal appearances have been the most lucrative for me, even outstripping my online sales. The hardest part, aside from scheduling, is the cost involved. Different events will charge different fees for a table. Generally, and predictably, the more attended the event the higher the cost for a table. An event like Comicon here in Phoenix can cost upwards of $500. Smaller events will be in the range of $100 to $200. To get a better sense of what these costs mean let’s look at the math. For Undead Heart, if I sell a copy at $10 I make $5.79 a book. In addition I have chosen not to  charge customers for the sales tax so that comes off my bottom line taking my $5.79 down to $5 a book. To even break even at an event where I’ve paid $100 for the space I’d have to sell 20 books. Most of these event last a day, so assuming a standard work day of 8 hours I would have to sell 2 1/2 books an hour. Doing that I still have not made anything for myself, and are still in the hole for the business cards and bookmarks. I essentially spent the day working for free. There is some value in these events, I get to sit at a table with my business cards and receive the ego stroking of seeing my name listed as author on the place card. to be fair these events serve a larger purpose, so they can be rewarding even if no sales are made. Your name is out there, your books are out there, plus you can network with other authors opening up other opportunities.

Can you ever make money doing this. Sure just be ready for a long haul. I don’t mean to discourage you, but at some point reality will come around and you need to look at what you’re doing as a business. You will only last so long reaching into your own pocket for these costs. I’m not hear to burst your bubble or rain on your parade, just think of this as that little dose of reality peeking around the corner as you reach for your dream.