Success Is The Exception Not The Rule

I caught this story on Forbes.com about author Mark Dawson, Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.

I like reading about success stories. They offer encouragement and some insight to what is working. At the same time, I have to remind myself that what works for one author is not necessarily going to work for me. First off, unless I’m writing in the same genre it is like talking about apples to oranges. Some genres sell more than others and have a eager fan base. My second thought is, well really I don’t have one. I’ve read enough of these articles and looked at enough sales data to know that genre is the key for many of these Amazon “Platinum” club writers. In addition to having a number of titles for sale, but that is a topic for another post.

One thing that is hard to grasp is this idea of success. Sure making a boatload of cash tops many of our, “signs of success,” lists, but there is more to being a successful writer. The act of completing a novel is a success, in my opinion. Everything else will fall into place after that, even sales. The only problem with success is you have to repeat it. So rest in your glory for a little while because the following morning you’ll be back at the keyboard working on the next one. Then one day soon you’ll see your name in a Forbes article.

My Kickstarter Campaign Has Ended

My Kickstarter campaign has come to an end and I’m sorry to say it was not funded. I want to thank all the backers who did step up and pledge. Your support means so much to me. I am still going through with The Fourth Prometheus, however, now, I just have to wait a little longer to get the money together for the final editing. As it stands the book is coming along really well and I am still excited to get it out there.

Reflecting on the whole process with Kickstarter I still believe it is a valuable tool, but for crowd funding to work you must bring your own audience too it. I do browse around the site from time to time and have backed projects based on the description, but by and large I go to Kickstarter looking for projects from sources I know. In the first week that my project went live, I received numerous emails and comments from PR companies and people offering their services (for a price of course). For example for $500 I could get a mention on Engadget. For $1,200 I could get a radio spot. These could have been all very beneficial for the campaign, but then again if I had $500 I wouldn’t need to crowd fund. The old adage, “it takes money to make money,” has never been truer in audience building.

Another side that I had to face is the tool itself. I set my funding level based on what I needed and what I knew I could raise if a portion of the people who have bought my books backed the project. This came to be far from a reality and it may speak more about the familiarity with sites like Kicksterter or even online commerce in general. Not every person has the mindset of an investor. This isn’t really investing in a traditional sense, there is no risk and the reward is known. It’s more like a layaway plan; you put up money for a product you receive at a later date. Not everyone in your audience will feel comfortable doing this and you should take that into account.

I do plan on using Kickstarter in the future for other projects. The process itself was painless and even taught me something or at the very least forced me to think a little differently about my work. This is a crucial step as my book went from a product of my time and mind to an item for sale. I urge other writers to think about what crowd funding can do for your projects and remain open to the idea. Who knows in a few more years this may be the normal for how manuscripts become book.

This Is It

the fourth prometheusThese are the last 7 days to get in on my Kickstarter campaign. It’s your final chance to see your name listed among the believers in my latest work, The Fourth Prometheus. Take a moment and click over to Kickstarter and look at the available options and commitments to back my project. The time is winding down. As a special bonus I’ve updated the project with the first chapter so you can get a sample of the book.

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

Self Published Works Gain Ground

A recent article appeared on the web the other day from Small Business Trends31 Percent of Daily E-Book Sales Are Now by Self-Published Authors. These numbers are taken from the sales reports captured by Authors’ Earnings based on daily sales at Amazon.com. The interesting trend is how the sales have increased over the last few months when they accounted for 27%. Now the Big-5 publishers still account for the majority of sales at 38% but it does not take much mathematics to see that if the trend continues self-published authors will over take them.

I basically take away 2 things from this article. One, readers are hungry for cheap e-Books and are willing to look outside the familiar names in publishing. Two, there is no better time to be a self-published author. There is an audience out there waiting for our works and they are spending. That does not mean the path to riches has been greased or is all downhill. Whatever measure for success one chooses an author is still going to have to cover a lot of ground to achieve it. At least now the barriers for entry to this path are not so formidable, or dare I say, closed off.

This Post Goes Blue

Recently the wife and I sat down to check out the TV show American Horror Story. All I’m going to say is if that’s your idea of horror, you need to read more Lovecraft or Ramsey Campbell. That’s not what bugged me the most. What was with all the swearing?

In general, though they wouldn’t admit it, people have a far more colorful, (dirty), vocabulary than they realize. At the same time very few people like being constantly sworn at. This creates a conundrum for the writer. Pepper your dialog worth too many naughty words and it will come across as trying too hard to be “gritty” or “edgy.” Not enough, or worse, you throw down some, “gosh darns,” or, “what the hecks,” and people will wonder what kind of prude world they have slipped into.

I remember sitting down to watch NYPD  Blue and marveling at all the words that shouldn’t be on TV suddenly on TV. Then there was the South Park “shit” episode. All the same I’m not really a fan of being sworn at constantly. I’ve enjoyed my share of potty mouthed comics but even there the best of them knew how to use these words for maximum effect. That’s what it really comes down to. As writers words are our tools. We must reserve the right one for the situation. You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to swat a fly, would you? Your words should be used the same way. Save the words that would make you mom blush or shove a bar of soap in your mouth for when you really need your characters to show some emotion. It’s a subtle difference but can make or break your writing.

Dreaming

dream image

Sometimes I don’t know what is worse, the dreams that I remember or the ones that slip past my wakeful mind. Especially when the feelings behind the latter linger into the morning. What if those dreams are nothing but feelings? Perhaps that’s why we don’t remember them.

Can any memory in our minds exist solely as a feeling? Think about that for a minute. No place, no person, no event, just a feeling. Would that qualify as a memory at all? Could we write down nothing but a feeling? Would we want to?

We dream because we sleep. We feel because we are alive. We write because sometimes the dream shouldn’t have to end.

Campaign Update

My Kickstarter campaign for The Fourth Prometheus continues on. I decided to giver backers and potential backers alike a taste for the novel I will add an update a week with a page from the book. The first one went out last night so I decided to add it here as well. Enjoy.


 

The burst of steam coming off the machine left Giselle’s cheeks red. She was used to the sting and hot steam, hot metal, the smell of burning oil, pretty much anything that a mechanic of her ability and expertise would have encountered. To the people of Boston the name Mathers was equally famous for her father the scientist and Giselle the metal worker artisan. She tightened a couple more screws and ran the oil line back around the metal strut. Soon her Father’s greatest design would be ready, if it didn’t kill her first. Giselle ran her sleeve over her face sopping up the moisture on her cheeks. She caught her reflection in the chrome of the machine. Her green eyes wide and youthful played behind her high cheekbones and beneath a mound of tight red curls held firmly in place in a tight French braid with both barrette and pins. Good looks ran in her family but it was her scientific mind that she most treasured. She reached over and pressed the ivory button beside the flashing red acorn light on her workstation panel. “What is it, Leland?”

“Sorry for the intrusion, but Drs. Forester and Bach would like a word with you in the drawing room.”

“Oh for the love of General Grant. I am right in the middle of finishing up the cooling system.”

“I assured them that this unannounced visit would not be welcome.”

“You still let them in.”

“To not do so would have been rude. Will you be joining them?”

Giselle tossed her screwdriver onto her work bench. “I will be right down.” She then threw her gloves and goggles to their places on her bench among the sprockets, work gears and spring tensioners.

Giselle reached for the leather ties on her apron but decided to leave it in place. She did let her hair down and welcomed the feeling of it on the back of her neck and shoulders. She took her finger and dabbed a bit of grease from one end of the machine and applied a generous smudge across her right cheek. No point in not looking as busy as she was.

As she entered the room Leland handed her a glass of water. She smiled at him and then looked at her visitors.

“Dr. Mathers your last report to the commission has some severe holes in it would you not say?”

“Not holes, Boris, missing information.”

Dr. Foster cleared his throat. “Missing information then, how do you account for this?”

Giselle walked over to the window across from the entrance. “Would you prefer missing information or erroneous information?”

“The Foundation would prefer a completed project, fully documented and delivered with no further delays.”

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