Factor Four Magazine is Moving Right Along!

I always tend to find myself so busy in the month of November that I never get to participate in Novel Writing Month.  2017 is still the same, but for good reason.

The main thing that is taking up my time is the planning of Factor Four Magazine.  Authors will be pleased to know that the submissions are expected to open on time on December 1.  Readers will be excited to hear that subscriptions are coming along great.

In fact, we opened for subscriptions today.  We are going to publish our stories on our website, in an eBook, and in print form.  I’m excited to say we have a subscription option for all of these, including one that is only $4 per year (stay tuned, you may be able to  get it cheaper).

First, all our subscription options come with free online access to all past issues.  Now, I know we don’t have past issues right now.  But in the future we will.  And how nice will it be to pay just $4 and not only get the next four issues but all our past ones too.

We also have the option for auto renew and one time, so the preference and option choices are totally up to you.

Now our print issue is available to both US/Canada residents and International.  You can get 25 % off if you subscribe before the year ends.

Now for the hook up.  I have this handy little discount code that will get you an online or eReader subscription for just $1.  Yep, just $1 for the year.  Just use: RF4FFMSOCIAL as the discount code.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Now only the first 50 people to use that will get it and, of course, I’ll be sharing it on Twitter and Facebook.  But don’t worry, if you follow Factor Four Magazine of Twitter or Facebook, they each have a code valid for 50 uses as well.

Advertising options are up as well as most of the other pages.  I was hoping to get volunteers up by Thanksgiving, but that may not happen.  I am currently looking for people to join me on my editorial staff.  I just have to get that together.

Now to figure out the Submissions engine.  Happy reading!

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10 Things I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Blogging

Today, according to WordPress, is my 7th anniversary of blog writing (nearly 6 with this blog).  I started this blog because I got my first story sale with my short story Death Watch, which was published by the good folks over at Liquid Imagination.  Originally my blog was my website, and though I have since separated the two, a lot of people still find me through this blog.

When I started out, I really didn’t know what to expect.  And seven years later, I still really don’t know what could happen.  But here are at a few things I have learned since starting out.

1 – Getting traffic to your blog is hard.

It took me a long time, a really long time, to gather up any type of blog traffic.  I tried funny posts, writing posts, life posts, and mixtures of all three.  What I learned is the topics don’t really matter, it just takes time to start showing up in search results and for people to come to your blog looking for certain content.  Which leads to number two.

2 – Pick a topic for your blog

Pick a topic for your blog and stick to it.  Does that mean I don’t blog about life? No.  It just means that the general topic of this blog is books and writing.  I love the movies, video games, and hockey.  Sure I mention those in my blog, but I don’t think I’ve written blog posts on those things.  This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to write on other topics, but you’ll get a better following if your blog has a theme.

There are exceptions to every rule.  My post, Eight Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Washington is not writing related at all, but it is the only post that gets a hit at least once per day.

3 – If getting traffic is hard, getting a following seems impossible.

For the longest time, my family were my only followers.  It look a long time to work up to a decent following and to keep them following.  There are a lot of ways to get the regular following and keep them, and many of those are involved in these things I’ve learned.  The truth is, no advertising ever worked.  The only followers I ever got were from reading a post of mine and liking it enough to follow the blog.

4 – Losing followers is very easy.

People stop following a blog for many reasons.  The most common, you offended them.  Society has placed a lot of weight on being offended, as if it really means anything.  I’ve lost followers when they found out I’ve got LGBT characters in my novels. I’ve lost followers because I’ve mentioned I own guns.  I’ve lost followers because I made a Trump joke.  You will also lose followers if you don’t blog in a while.  I lost most of mine during my two year hiatus.

5 – You can’t please everyone.

So you may be thinking that you should sterilize your blog from any possibility of offence.  I tried that in the beginning of my blogging days.  Hell, I used to try that in the start of my writing days.  Well, fuck ’em. People will get offended by what you say.  If they don’t, does your writing carry any real passion anyway?  As I said above, people think being offended means something.  It doesn’t.  What I have learned is that more people appreciate the honest writer connecting with his audience than they do a sterilized blog.  You can’t please everyone, so don’t try.

6 – Listen to your audience.

Many of my blog post ideas come from blog comments or my social media.  I’m not saying you need to ask them what to blog about next, though you can a time or two.  But pay attention to what they are saying about your blog.  As a self published author, I noticed many of my readers were talking and interested in that aspect.  As a result, I wrote Self Publishing, a post in which I explored what Self Publishing was all about.  It took more work than most of my posts do, but it was also the most successful post.

7 – Read and connect with other bloggers

You really need to read and connect with other bloggers.  For one, you will see what is trending and discover what other bloggers like you are doing.  This will let you know if the topic you want to blog on is over-saturated or that it is of no interest to anyone.  But also you can work with others to do guest posts and other connections to attract their followers to you and your followers to them.

8 – Guest posts are great.

Guest posts are a great way to drive followers of others to your blog.  For a long period of time I was doing an author focus blog series that allowed guest posts from other authors.  It drove new eyes to my blog that may have otherwise not visited.  Don’t expect a ton of new followers from it, but you just might get someone poking around your blog for other stories.

9 – Don’t expect your blog to be a revenue stream.

I’m not sure I have made any book sales from people who came to read my blog.  In most cases it is the other way around.  People have come here after reading my work.  Some to complain, but most because they liked what they read and wanted to see more.  Also, ad riddled blogs suck to read (of course we have no control over the WordPress ads).  One ad maybe, or sponsored content is okay.  But some blogs read so heavily of sales pitches that they become no fun to read.

Also, don’t overly self publicize on you blog. It isn’t wrong, but it is a fine line between content and advertising.  The point of a blog is to connect with your audience, not sell them shit.

10 – It is okay to blog for yourself.

It is absolutely okay to write a blog for yourself with no aim to gain followers.  You might accidentally acquire a few anyway.  But not every blog has to be for fan connection or to gain more readers.  Some can be for the hell of it.  You can have as many blogs as you like too.  The choice is yours.

BONUS: We’re all full of shit.

Here is a bonus thing I’ve learned, everything on the internet about how to write a great blog is full of shit.  This one included.  What worked for me may not work for you.  Lord knows I read a lot of crap, that when I tried it, did’t work for shit.  More to the point, articles with things I’ve learned titles are there to help you see what was learned.  You can use it, or you can toss it.  The choice is yours really.

It is your blog, write what you want, but I’ve shared what I’ve learned.  Your results may vary.

Distinguishing Yourself from the “Steaming Piles of Crap”

On of the members of the writer’s group I belong to, and a person I follow on Google+, recently released her first eBook.  I offered my congratulations and she mentioned that anyone can put up an eBook, “…from Stephen King to steaming pile of crap.”

And truthfully she is right.  Anyone can do it.  They can go on Smashwords, KDP, or even PubIt and throw together an eBook and sell it in about ten minutes.  I just got done setting up Dissolution of Peace for eBook sales on KDP and was surprised just how quick it was.  I was set up and done in about an hour.  And I spent some time debating the price and royalties options.  On the other hand, the print version has taken almost a week now to get set up and it still isn’t done.  But even that is only because they review the file for “print-ability” but not for content.

So one might wonder how they separate themselves from the crap.  The simple answer is not to be crap.

If you wrote a book in a week, and published it the next week.  Chances are your story is going to be garbage.  You simply miss way to much when you spend so little time on a project.  I’ve talked a lot about the steps you have to take to get your work ready for publication.  If you start cutting corners, it will show.  All told, I will have spent nine years (or more) working on Dissolution of Peace.  From the original manuscript written in 2003-2004 to the final product you will all see October 16th.

Do I recommend taking nine years?  No, not necessarily.  From the time I made up my mind to finish, and see published, Dissolution of Peace  it took almost exactly one year.  In that year, I spent most of that time editing.

The rewrite of the manuscript cut out 30,000 words of pure crap.  Words I might have missed if I didn’t reread the original manuscript.  Next, I read it again.  I corrected the mistakes I found, and read it again.  Then I sent it off to a few beta readers.  They made their comments.  I fixed some things, and read it again.  Then it went to a professional editor.  He sent me back a boat load of suggestions.  I fixed those, rewrote some passages, corrected the plot holes and confusing information.  Then, you guessed it, I read it again.  I fixed a few things and put it in format for publication.  Then I ordered a proof.

ALWAYS ORDER A PROOF.  I know many people who skip this step.  They figure they have caught everything by this point.  They look at the digital proof for format errors and then approve it.  They never hold a proof copy in their hands.  Well I ordered a proof.  And I read it cover to cover.  There were exactly ZERO formatting error.  However, there were twenty-two other errors.  Missing words, typo words, and other things.  Things four beta readers, an editor, and five of my own readings missed.  All of which were just things your eyes miss.  When you see a word in its context you might not notice that “closest friend” was typed “closet friend” in the book.  The fact remains that as I read it in book format, these things came out because it was the first time I had read it as an actual book.  In print.  Not on a computer screen.  I saw my novel in a new way.

And now, as I get ready to approve the final draft I am confident it is ready to be read.  Will I miss something?  I will almost bet money I did.  But even the professionals miss something.  It is one of the ways book experts can detect what edition many books are.  They know of certain misprints, typos, ect in each edition.  The point to this is not to spend forever making the novel absolutely perfect.  The point is to spend enough time with it to make it the best you can possible put out.

I read my story six times in this last year.  If you are not reading your book multiple times to prepare it for publishing, how can you expect buyers to read it once?  If you wrote it and you find it boring to read more than once, it may not belong in the steaming pile, but you should figure out what needs to be fixed to make it readable.

I will also say this.  Grammar and punctuation do not make a book readable but they can may a book unreadable.  If your book is overly riddled with grammar mistakes, they can distract a reader.  However, you can have a grammatical masterpiece, not one grammatical error in the entire manuscript, and still have a steaming pile on your hands.

You need a plot.  A story that starts where the real story starts.  You need a conflict of some type.  You need a resolution to the conflict.  And you need a satisfying ending.  You have to be able to tell a story.  A story readers want to read.  A story with characters people love (or hate for the right reasons).  You need a world for this to all take place in.  Once you master that, you can go back and fix the grammar.

The point is you need to take time with you works.  He who publishes the most books, does not win.

You need to put together a quality novel before you submit it for publication.  If you do that, your work will stand out for the steaming piles of crap that come out.  But also remember that some people will simply not like your novel for their own reasons.  While others may love it.  You can’t please everyone.  We’ve all bought a book we thought would be good only to be disappointed.  But if you take your time to put your best work forward, you will find a following of readers who will love your story.

Dissolution of Peace – Updates, Pre-Order, Giveaways, and more

As Dissolution of Peace gets closer and closer to being released, I find myself with an odd mixture of pride, fear, and anticipation.  But all the hard work is worth something in the end.  As I see the finished project coming along, I can’t help but be happy to see so much work coming together for this project.

UPDATES

I wrote my acknowledgements section the other day.  It is certainly an optional part of a novel.  I’ve read plenty of novels that don’t have one.  But with this being by first novel, I had to write one.  I always enjoy reading other authors’ acknowledgements, and it only felt right that I put one in.  It came from my heart, so hopefully it doesn’t come across as too much.  Either way, I am happy to thank those people that helped me get this book together.

I dedicated the book to my three boys.  They are a huge part of why I followed this dream all the way to the end.  I already know who I’ll be dedicating my second novel to.

The Official Book Trailer is getting a lot more views than I expected, considering how little I have shared it.  So I assume that must mean a few of you have shared it.  Thank you.  So far those who have talked to me about it, like it.  Please make sure to hit that thumbs up button and leave a comment if you enjoyed it.

PRE-ORDER

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until October 16th to order your copy of Dissolution of Peace.  You can pre-order online right now.   Best of all you will save 25-50% off the list price.  But, this will only last during the pre-sale period.  I’ll also be signing all pre-order copies of my book.  You will see I have added a “Buy” tab to this site.  This will be a place to buy copies of my book.  If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you should.  I’ll be sharing discount codes with my followers there through out the pre-sale period.  You can order here: LINK

GIVEAWAYS

I also have two giveaways starting:

First, if you visit my Facebook Page, and click on the giveaway icon (see the picture right).  You can enter into a raffle giving away one signed copy of my book.  The number of raffle entries you have is based on the tasks you chose to complete.  If you complete them all, you can be entered twenty times.  That raffle ends on November 1st (12:01am Eastern), so hurry to get your entries in now.  If a lot of people enter this raffle, I’m sure to do another one.  Oh, and you’ll want this giveaway code: Carlson.  It is worth one entry into the raffle.  Enter the Raffle here: LINK

The second giveaway is on Goodreads.  This one runs until November 30th.  As of writing this post, it is still awaiting approval from Goodreads administrative staff.  So if the link doesn’t work, please try again.  Enter the Goodreads Giveaway here: LINK

Another reason to follow me on Twitter or Facebook is because I will likely be announcing more giveaways on there as soon as I come up with more idea.

ATTENTION BOOK REVIEWERS

If you write book reviews on your blog/website or magazine, or know someone who does, get in touch with me.  This is another great way to get a free copy of the Kindle version of my book.  I will not pay for a review.  So if you charge for your reviews, I’ll pass.  You can go to the contact me section to contact me about a book review.  Just let me know a little about your site, and send me a link.

INTERVIEWS AND EVENTS

If you would like to interview me about my book, and other topics, you can contact me.  I’ll be happy to schedule something with you.  I’m open for newspapers, blogs, journals, magazines, Television, Radio, Podcasts, and I’m sure many other types of interviews.

If you own a Bookstore, you can contact me for a book signing.  I am already working on scheduling a couple of them to be announced soon.

PLUGGING AWAY

I want to thank everyone who is helping, and I am sure about to help, plug my book.  I really appreciate the word of mouth advertising.  I’ll keep everyone updated as the book releases.

Is Anybody Out There?

Marketing for Writers

Over this last week, Plasma Frequency announced a 50% off sale on all advertising.  For as little as $9.50, anyone could have advertised in a magazine with a worldwide audience.  Exactly zero people took the offer.  An offer that was presented to many self published and traditional published authors.  It was also presented to several independent publishers.  I was truly stunned by it.  I couldn’t believe that not one person took this offer.  But, as I thought about it.  I am not so sure it is really that shocking of a thing.

Many authors think that they can put their novel on Amazon.com, and it will simply fly right off the shelves.  Maybe a few hundred Twitter and Facebook posts, and BAM!  Instant success.  Who knows maybe that has even worked for a few authors.  But if it has, I’ve not heard of it.  I’m down playing the value of Social Media in your marketing strategy.  It is an important part of it.  But it is just a part of it.  And the only plan many authors have, is to continue to shout out on Facebook, “Buy my book!  Buy it!”  But I speak from experience when I say that soon you will be wondering, Is anybody out there?  Is anyone paying attention to these posts.

Marketing strategy is the key words of the paragraph above.  You need to lay out a plan to get your book noticed.  It should be a detailed plan starting with “pre-promotion”, moving next to “release promotion”, and moving along with “continued promotion.”  You need a balance of promotional strategies in order to make your book successful.

Many of you may be stopping here.  You might be thinking that you don’t need to market your book because you plan to go through a traditional publisher.  You expect that they will handle all the promotional problems for you.  You’d be wrong.  Most of these places have a limited marketing budget.  They will use that money on promoting the books most likely to bring them the most money.  And even if they will be promoting your book, that should only be another part of your own promotional strategy.  You should be doing some marketing of your own.

Marketing Plan, some easy tips.

First, you should start making a marketing plan as soon as you are sure you are ready to see this book published.   For me, as a self publisher, that was as soon as I sent the manuscript to my editor.  Notice I didn’t wait until I had a release date in mind to start planning.  Some may even start thinking of marketing strategies right after they write “The End.”  If you are going the more traditional publishing route, you may wait until you get accepted.  Or you may wait until you know the marketing and promotional ideas of the publisher.  Either way, find a time that is right for you and start planning.  You can always modify the plan, change it, and work to start it later.

Pre-premotion

I’ll start with the first thing.  It is also the most over looked in my opinion.  That is “pre-promotion.”  This is your plan to promote your book before it is released, to create a “buzz” so to speak.  This is likely one of the best ways to get a title to stick in potential readers heads.  You want to get people thinking about, talking about, and perhaps even to preorder (see below).  Here are some things you might put on your Pre-promotion plan:

Mention your book whenever you can.  You may have noticed that I mention, and use as an example, my novel Dissolution of Peace when needed around this blog.  See, I just did it again there.  Most of the time I don’t even realize I did it.  Of course you can over do it.  I like to think that I only mention it when it is applicable to the situation.  I’ve seen some that simply drop the name everywhere all the time, or every blog post they write is about the book in some way.  It just doesn’t work for me.  I tend to stop reading those blogs that are solely devoted to ramming a particular product down my throat.  But I certainly don’t mind, or even notice in most cases, a little self promotion when I am reading a post that has meaning to me.  So if, like me, you blog about writing tips, daily muses, and other topics of interest to people, don’t be afraid to mention it where it applies.

Get some marketing materials together and share them with your followers.  I’ve noticed many of my blog, Twitter, and Facebook followers enjoy a little sneak peak before something goes live.  Marketing materials include cover art, after all that is how readers will recognize you book, it is the brand of your book.  But there are other marketing materials that can come in handy.  For example, my Facebook page has a new cover photo.  That photo pops up every time someone hovers their over my name.  You may make a few different photos to use around the different media platforms.  Another great thing is a book trailer.  There are also book plates, bookmarks, and other items you can get at a low cost and hand out free.

Many of you may be thinking: I’m not good at graphic design or video editing.  You may have already dropped a pretty penny on the cover art.  Book trailers can cost a lot of money.  One self publishing company charges over $1,000 minimum just for a thirty second book trailer.  Bookmarks, post card ads, ect all will cost.  But I challenge you to look around.  First, you might have a friend that will do it for you.  Plasma Spyglass Press’s logo was designed by a friend of mine.  I love it, and it cost me nothing.  Even if you don’t have a friends that can do it, they may know someone who can give you a deal.  A friend of mine recommended my cover artist, and I only paid $35 for it.  I got lucky with the other art, I did it myself.  I even did the book trailer myself.  But, if all else fails you can shop around for businesses that can help you.  Plasma Spyglass Press is thinking of revamping our business plan to include services for the self published author.  One last tip, don’t spend a lot of money on promotional materials or over do it.  Order just what you need.

Book reviews are great.  There are some places that you can pay to have a book review written.  I won’t waste my time or money on those.  You can if you wish, but I won’t.  There are a lot of free review sites out there.  Sites that will only ask for a free copy of your book.  In return they will provide you with an honest review.  Sure, you take the risk of a bad review.  And you may get some even if you don’t ask for reviews.  I put this under pre-marketing because you often have to start setting these things up in advance.  Whether it be through a blog, or a magazine, or through another outlet.  Most are very cooperative and will agree to wait a reasonable amount of time if your release date is coming soon.  ALWAYS send a finished product for review.

Offer a preorder special.  Unfortunately Createspace still won’t allow you the chance to pick a future release date, thus creating a preorder page on Amazon.  There are ways around this though.  First, have people preorder through you.  They can go to your website and preorder.  Offer a better price than the list price.  Perhaps even offer signed copies if you preorder through you.  Then when you release your book you can order that number of copies and ship them out to your new readers.  If you already have an Amazon Partner Store site (or whatever it is called), I understand that there is a way to do a preorder with that.  I am not familiar with it.

Don’t take out advertising before your book has been released.  Unless of course you have preorder information.  Many people will see an ad and click to buy at that moment, making an impulse purchase.  So paying for a advertisement on Facebook, in a magazine, or on any other platform is wasted money unless people can buy.  But, keep in mind a magazine’s production time.  That ad may not be live until after your book is released.  So you may have advertising paid for and drawn up, but it won’t be seen until after your novel is released.

Release Promotion

Release day has come.  Your book is now available to purchase.  The common practice here is to kick it into overdrive.  Either blowing a lot of time and money into marketing the book for a week, or by trying to schedule events around the clock.  I think this comes from the common practice in the typical business world.  Grand Opening sales, Hurry while supplies last, and so on down the line.  Even most traditional publishers will kick in to high gear for a big release and then when that is over, they will kick into high gear for the next author’s release.

I say slow down a second.  First, have a plan in place before release day.  Once again, ramming your book down everyone’s throats will not increase sales.  Does that mean you shouldn’t come out of the gate hard and fast?  No, you still want to have a “grand opening” celebration.  Tell the world your book is out now.  Spend the whole day telling them if wish.  But what will you do once you have posted to Facebook, Twitter, and your blog only to find you sold four copies?  This is where you need to expand your marketing plan.  Release Promotion should last several months or more.

Continue to try to find those book review outlets.  Talk to fellow writers and check out the magazines for your genre.  Contact them and still arrange for reviews.  The more you get the more potential readers you reach.

Look around for those local book stores.  They often love to have local writers come out and have a book signing.  They may even wish to carry your book on their shelves.  Some may want a small portion of sales.  Others may buy a bulk amount of your books for a near wholesale price and just keep whatever they sell them for.  Others may just like the idea of bringing customers into their store and won’t care that you sell your books there.  But either way, you need to work that out with them.  Believe it or not the local book store isn’t dead.  And these type of events are what keeps them going strong.

Book signings don’t have to just take place at book stores either.  Maybe you get a table at the local street fair.  Or maybe your local library would be interested.  Be creative, readers attend a lot of different events.  If you do think about renting tables at a fair or event, consider sharing the table with other local writers and splitting the cost.  For one, a fan of one local writer may see your book on the same table and check it out.  It will allow you to draw a bigger crowd while reducing your cost.  Plus you fill a table with different books, rather than a big table with just a stack of your one book.

Write a press release.  Local newspapers, magazines, and even local blogs love a story about a local resident doing well.  You can even tie a press release with a book signing event you are having.  Writing an engaging press release is a whole different ball game than writing a novel.  So I strongly suggest you read up on how to write a good release.  There are a lot of sites that will help you with a simple Google search.  Once you have a good press release, send it out to every newspaper, magazine, and blog in or about your local area.  Of course if you are in a smaller town you stand a better chance of being in that paper rather than the paper of a large metropolitan area.  But it doesn’t hurt to try.

Make yourself available for interviews and other engagements.  But also don’t be afraid to ask people either.  If your local library is having a local writers event, don’t be afraid to ask somebody if you can join.  You never know when the newspaper, local TV stations, or magazines might call and ask you if you would mind discussing your new book.  But rather than just waiting for them to call, be proactive and find them.  Press releases is one way.  But there are plenty of other ways to reach out.  Don’t be afraid to ask friends of friends to help.

Advertising.  It doesn’t have to cost as much as you think.  As I mentioned above, my magazine charges very little.  We even offer a discount for multiple issues and a discount for self published authors.  We design the ad at no extra charge too.  You will find that this is common with many markets.  Of course if you want to put an advertisement in Fantasy & Science Fiction, expect to pay a good price.  But there are a lot of markets out there that survive solely on advertising and don’t expect a lot for it.  You can even use social media ads to help you out.  These are effective at targeting an audience suited for your book.  The price is often adjustable based on your monthly budget.  Talk to your friends too.  See if they will put an advertisement on their website or blog.

The key with advertising is knowing your target audience.  An ad for my novel in Better Homes and Gardens probably won’t bring me a lot of sales.  But an advertisement in a science fiction publication will likely attract readers.  But, I might not want to put an ad in a hard science fiction magazine because that is not my target audience either.  The best thing you can do is find out the publication’s (or website’s) target audience.  If it matches yours then go for it.

Promotional offers.  Have special offers where you can.  You may have a discount or you may put two of your novels together for a package price.  I understand there are limits to this.  Clearly you want to make money of the sale, to some degree.  But everyone likes to feel like they got a deal too.

Continued Promotion

Your book has been out now for a little while now.  You may have had a huge influx of sales, or you may have had a steady stream of sales.  But after the first few months, we authors have a habit of moving on to our next project.  After all we didn’t stop writing because our latest novel was released.  But you can’t stop promotions now.  You may have scaled back, but don’t stop.

You may have ran a number of ads for your novel on release, but now you may want to scale it back to one ad.  But remember to figure out what ad worked the best for you.  Maybe change up the artwork to get a fresh look.  But keep something running to get peoples attention.  Unless everyone has bought your book, there are still potential readers out there that may not have heard of your book yet.

Still schedule those book signings.  Maybe even spend one day on your next vacation (assuming you get vacations) signing books at the local bookstore of your vacation destination.  You may not do an event every weekend but still keep the options open.

Cross promotion is excellent.  When you are out promoting the next newest book, don’t forget to bring some copies of your other works.  I’m surprised how often I see writers with six novels out, but they only have the one novel with them when they buy that table at the fair.  Tell people about all your books when you are out promoting the newest one.  Don’t forget to mention your other books in your newest book.  You see this all the time in novels: Other works by..

Selling your books is the same as a business

If you are selling your books you are in business, your business is writing and selling your books.  You will not make money by approving the proof and then sitting on you butt and waiting for the cash to roll in.  You have to get out there and let people know about your book.  You don’t have to spend a lot.  But expect to spend something.  Even a free book review will cost you a copy of your book.  The more you spend advertising won’t necessarily bring you more sales.  But spending your money wisely will get you more readers.  You can spend $50 a month wisely and get 20 times more readers than the person that throws away $1,000.

The point is simple.  You need a plan in place.  Every good business has a marketing plan and budget.  Your book needs to have the same thing.  The plan is fluid and you change it as you find out what works and what doesn’t.  But you must have a road map.  Hopefully I’ve provided you with some powerful tips.  Now go make your plan and get that book sold.

Dissolution of Peace — Announcements

I present to you, the cover for Dissolution of Peace.

As many of you know, I have been waiting on a lot of things before I officially make any announcements about Dissolution of Peace.  Some of you may have even been following along as I took each step.

This journey to publishing a novel really started with my first acceptance letter, in August 2011.  Followed by my second.  After selling two short stories, I decided to open up my original manuscript for the then untitled novel.  Perhaps I felt validated as a writer, or perhaps I simply the timing was right.  Either way the much needed rewrites began.

My New Years Resolution was to write more.  I rewrote the entire manuscript from scratch.  And by February I was finished.  I sent it out to several beta readers, made changes.  And then let it rest for a bit.

I struggled long and hard for a tittle.  The original title was  going to be: Serenity.  This was back when I wrote the first manuscript.  But, this certain movie came out a short time later, and of course I had to change it.  After some time, and using multiple different random title generators.  I came up with Dissolution of Peace.  After a good night sleep, I fell in love with the new title.  And I feel it describes the novel well.

In May I hired Robert S. Wilson to do my editing after giving it a look over for some time.  I followed that by hiring Neil Jackson to do the cover art.  And after waiting (rather impatiently I might add) I got both a marked up manuscript and a cover art sample.

I was ready to announce a release date that day.  But when I began to work on my edits, I was overwhelmed by it.  I was afraid and I had no idea how long it would take.

I got the final cover art.  I whittled down those edits.  And while there are still edits to be done, I can confidently announce a release date:

October 16th, 2012.

Of course that bars anything else crazy going on.  But it will be out and ready before the end of October.  After all, you will want to give this as a Christmas present.

Now many of you expected to see my cover art and a release date.  But I have another surprise for my blog followers.  I have attached the Official Trailer!

Dissolution of Peace will be available on Amazon.com for Kindle and in Print.  And I will be announcing a Pre-order sale soon.  You will be able to order a signed print copy right from my blog.  Details will come on that soon.

Description:

When Earth Navy Captain Christina Serenity is brutally attacked by a traitor, her life is saved by Security Forces Corporal Michael Carlson.  On the heels of her recovery, her ship is attacked by terrorists, and she is thrown into a difficult assignment.  She must chase after the only clue they have, a Martian ship called the Phobos, and find out what secrets it hides.  To make matters worse, someone still wants her dead.

Her ship, E.S.S. Australia embarks on a mission that leads Serenity on journey of discovery, friendship, betrayal, and revenge.  She quickly learns the only thing harder to prevent than war, is love.

Now Serenity must trust her protection crew to keep her alive long enough to solve this puzzle while trying to prevent an interplanetary war.

The line has been drawn… Who will cross first?

So with out further ramblings from me, I present the trailer for Dissolution of Peace:

Making SOME Money in Writing

I briefly touched on this in an early blog post.  Writing is really about more than making money.  If you are a short fiction writer you’d have to do a lot of work to make a good salary.

Where you live will depend on how much you need to survive.  But lets assume you’d be happy with $35,000 a year.  Out in California that is a small amount of money and barely scraping by.  But, if I was doing it as a writer, I’d be happy to scrape by.  If you stuck to short fiction, you would need to sell 700,000 words a year at pro rates (5 cents a word).  That is a lot of words.  And that is words to sell, not write.  You’d have to write roughly 1,900 words a day that are publishable, with no days off.

Most of us don’t put something on paper and it is instantly publishable.  We need to spend time editing.  We need to send it out to and listen to our Beta Readers.  Now back to editing.  And there is always the time it sits on submissions.  But, lets assume you work part time at it.  Say three hours a day, five days a week, for a year.  Or 780 hours a year.  And you manage to get an average of 5,000 words a month published at pro rates.  You’d make roughly $3.85 an hour.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

You might argue that if you really did spent 15 hours a week on writing, they could put out more that just 5,000 words published each month.  But the truth is you won’t make a lot of money publishing short stories.  You will get paid in a different way.  You will get paid with recognition, reader enjoyment, positive feedback, and much more.  This is why I fail to understand writers who believe anything less than 5 cents a word is beneath them.

They are measuring the payment of writing in dollars and it really needs to be measured in other ways.  And, in many ways the payments you gets from writing can’t be measured.  Reader enjoyment is hands down my favorite method of payment.  Each time a reader comments on my story, enjoys a plot point, or loves a character I feel like I have been paid again for that story.  Each time some one clicks the like button for this blog, I feel like I got another payment.  And when someone says they have heard of me and my writing, I feel like I hit the lotto.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a pay check too.  But I don’t write for the money, I write for the enjoyment.  So I wonder how can we make some money in writing.  The trick is that it is a process.  Just like most jobs, you start at the bottom and work your way up.

I still strongly urge anyone who writes to start with short stories.  Even if you have a novel in the works, starting with short stories really puts a feather in your cap.  It gets your name out there to a community of readers both before your novel hits the shelf, and after.

Now, lets talk about novels.  When I release Dissolution of Peace, I have no intentions of making millions in the first release.  Let us say that I  sell my novel for $2.99 on Kindle.  And, I doubt I would start there.  But lets say that I do.  I get 70% of most sales.  So I would need 16,750 downloads in a year to hit that $35,000.  That may not sound like a lot, 17,000 downloads, but when you are trying to market that book by yourself, it really is a lofty goal.  And lets not forget that you might be more inclined to start your novel off at $0.99 or $1.99 because you may be lesser known.

But, lets consider something a bit more realistic here.  Lets say you really buckle down and dedicate yourself.  I don’t believe it is impossible to turn out two novels in a year and six short stories sold.  I work full time, run a magazine, and volunteer a bunch of hours to Youth Soccer, but that is my goal.  A goal I won’t achieve in 2012, but only because I just made it this month.

Let me assume that I sell $300 in short stories (5,000 word average at 1 cent a word for six stories).  And, in those sales I get to make a quick blurb about my novels and this website.  I think realistically I could expect 3,000 downloads a year per novel at $0.99 price point.  So I’d get $4,200 there.  For a total of $4,500 a year not counting other expenses such as marketing.  So, I may not be making millions as a writer.  But I think that is a good goal for 2013.  And $4,500 a year to do something I love isn’t bad considering the other things I love to do, watching hockey and playing video games, don’t make me a cent.

And, if you keep building from there, soon you have more sales and more works in circulation.  It is a slow process, but I do believe that eventually it can be possible to make a decent amount of money as a writer.  The process takes time, you have to build a readership.  But remember all the other rewards you get for your writing.  The ones that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

Now some might say that I sound like I am trying to dissuade you from writing.  This is not true.  Don’t be discouraged by this post.  If you sole goal in writing was to make money, you might want to try your hand at different types of writing.  But if you have bigger dreams than money, carry on with the craft.  I firmly believe that if you write for the love of story telling, the rewards (and even the money) will follow.

Updates: July 2012

July has been another busy month for me and I got a lot of things going on that needs updating.  Today I think I’ll start with the personal stuff.

I’ve decided to make my second run for Vacaville City Council.  I ran in 2010.  Though I didn’t win, I felt like I put a good run together.  Now, before you all un-follow my blog, understand I won’t be talking much about that on here.  This is my writing page.  If you care to know more about my campaign you can visit www.electflores4.com or flow my twitter account @electflores4.  I may make mention of it again but my focus on this blog is my writing.

Plasma Frequency Magazine Issue 1 Out Now!

On the topic of writing, I am happy to say the Issue 1 of Plasma Frequency Magazine is out now.  You can download a free copy or purchase the print version by visiting the website.  We have stories from O’Neil De Noux, Michael Andre-Driussi, Nyki Blatchley, Gary Cuba, John H. Dromey, Michael Hodges, Spencer Koelle, Greg Leunig, and James Valvis.  We also have art from Tais Teng, Richard H. Fay, and Laura Givens.  In this issue we reviewed To Die a Stranger by Jilly Paddock.  We also have some great advertisers.  My advertisers are what pay for the magazine.  They are how I am able to pay these authors and artists for their work.  Our Issue Sponsor was our parent company Plasma Spyglass Press.  We also had Author Robert S. Wilson advertising his excellent book Shining in Crimson.  Author Martin Vavpotic advertised his Steampunk novella Clockworks Warrior.  Nightscape Press had their newest release Worlds Collider: A Shared World Anthology advertised in our magazine.  I might add that Worlds Collider is rapidly climbing the  US Amazon Rankings.  Last but not least, Artkitty.net and Senior Beauty Consultant Alica Howell advertised in Issue 1.

Everyone from the authors, the artists, and the advertisers deserve a huge thank you.  Plasma Frequency Issue 1 is racking up the downloads.  I am even more pleased to say that people are purchasing the print copy almost as fast.  It is really great to see that people still appreciate the print edition.  I don’t make any money off the sales of the print issue, the cost covers the cost of the printing service. A big thanks go to my fellow editors.  My wife Amy Flores and my friend Lara G. Carroll have been great at helping me get this off the ground.

If you go check out Issue 1, I highly recommend you get a print copy.  But if you can’t afford the print issue or just want a sample of it.  Download the PDF.  The PDF copy is the closest representation of the print edition.  The Kindle and ePub versions had to be dramatically modified to work of those devices.  But they are handy if you’d like to take the issue along on your eReader.  Since it is free, I suggest you download both and eReader and a PDF version.

We’ve already accepted the stories for Issue 2.  We are working on Artists and have already began reading for Issue 3.  It is a never ending cycle.

My own writings:

I have good news.  My editor has told me that he will have the edits to me for Dissolution of Peace.  He has told me no later than Friday (though I hope he has them to me today as planned).  I have to admit I am starting to feel nervous about what he has to say.  This novel, these characters, and the story they have to say is very important to me.  Every character I create holds a special place in my heart, but these characters are the first I have put together.  My hope is my readers will love them as much as I do.  But, that may be a standard that is set to high.  There is a sequel planned, should my readers like it.

Yesterday I took a little breather from my writing and played around with my picture editor.  I still don’t have cover art so, I put together a little teaser for you guys in the form of part of the uniform my main characters wear. It isn’t top notch, but it was just a little something fun for you to see something from the novel.

Two of the Main Character are Officers with the Earth Security Forces.  When the world united under one government, the Earth Security Forces was put in place as the world’s sole law enforcement agency.  They police cities, military bases, protect dignitaries, and keep the world in order.  Corporal Micheal Carlson and Officer Janice Kanter are two of those Security Forces Officers.

My other writings are also going well.  My next novel is well on its way, nearly half finished now.  My short stories are still making their way around.  And everything else is going well on that front.  My time is always limited with all these projects.  But I enjoy the work I do.

I hope your own projects are moving along nicely.  Until next time.

 

Dry Spells

We writers often talk about writer’s block.  I even had a blog post on the topic.  But sometimes we just have dry spells.  They can be caused by different factors, including writer’s block, lack of time, and lack of motivation.  For me it has been the motivation mostly.  The ideas have been flowing free in my mind.  Both for a sequel to Dissolution of Peace and the current novel I am working on have been very active in my mind.  But I just don’t sit down and write.  So for today’s blog I thought I would talk about how to ride out these dry spells and even do a little rain dance to get things going again.

The first step is recognizing the dry spell.  That may seem easy enough, and for some it is.  But for me it wasn’t so easy.  I only just started thinking about how little I have written.  And when I look at my work in progress, I see the file hasn’t been modified since May 10th.  That is nearly two months ago, and I wasn’t aware of it.  This is by far the longest dry spell I have had in some time.  The only saving grace is that I have still been writing in this blog on a weekly basis.

In fact it was this blog that made me recognize I was in a dry spell, and at the same time it was what made me not realize it for so long.  Each week I sit down and put together a blog post for you.  I’m writing, and perhaps writing these blogs kept my ‘writing sense’ working.  Blogs are great ways to keep people aware of your existence, and to break down writing blocks and walls.  But, in this case it tricked me into thinking it hadn’t been so long since I wrote.  But, when I only wrote a short ‘Happy Independence Day’ blog last week, it clicked to me how little I have written.

You may not blog, so you may see you haven’t written in a matter of weeks.  Or, it could take you some time to recognize it for other reasons.  The point is you have to realize you’re in a slump before you can move on to the next step.

The next step is identifying the cause of the dry spell.  Again this may seem easy, but that is not always true.  Writer’s Block is often the first thing to blame.  But, if your ideas are still percolating in your head, as mine were, writer’s block is likely not your cause.  You have things to write about in your head, you’re just not sitting at the keyboard and doing it.  If you think it is writer’s block, dig deeper.  If you find no other causes, then revert to the steps to break down writer’s block.

The next most common thing to blame is time.  That is what I blamed.  I told myself I haven’t had time because I have been running a magazine.  I’ve been trying to get the first issue ready for print.  But that wasn’t fair.  Sure, running the magazine has taken up a lot of my time, but so does work, and my family.  All valid things to be working on rather than writing, but I’ve worked around all of them before.  But if you work through all this and find that time really is the issue, then you need to revert to the steps to find a time to work on your writing.

You might find it is depression, lack of motivation, or you have something new in your life that you’d rather be doing.  You may even find out that writing isn’t what you want to do.  But chances are that if you’ve realized you’re not writing, and are looking for ways to start again, you genuinely miss writing.  Once you find the cause, you need to dig deeper and find the true cause.

For me, I found it was a lack of motivation.  The ideas were there, but I wasn’t writing.  I dug deeper to find the cause of my lack of motivation.  That was a series of bad news in my writing.  I have received five rejection letters in those two months.  Three of those were for a story I have really felt confident in.  It has been stacking up the rejections and it has started to take a toll on my confidence.  In fact I have two short stories that are not selling despite approaching a year in circulation.  I’ve reminded myself that my first stories sold remarkably fast.  I’ve also reminded myself that I have not turned out a short story in almost eight months.  That is not a bad thing though.  I’ve been focusing on putting out novels.  When the right idea hits me, I’ll write another short.

There have been other delays in my novel as well.  I still don’t have cover art.  The edits may be delayed.  That coupled with the lack of sales of my son’s children’s book, has me worrying about my ability.  I get frustrated when people are not as excited about something as I am.  I feel as though they don’t approve of it, or even thing it not as worthy of their time.  I am a pessimist by nature, so I see all these things for the worst rather than the possible truth.  I see cover art delays as an artist who is disinterested in my story.  I see edit delays as an editor who thinks my work is so bad it needs more time.  And I see lack of sales on my son’s book as validation of my worst fears (that I can’t do this).

Long story short the reason for my dry spell is a lack of motivation because I am suffering from the “I can’t do this” and “I’m not good enough to do this” mentality.  We all hit this.  Everyone, in anything they pursue, hits a point where they think they can’t continue.  But if you stop, you are only proving yourself (and your critics) right.  It is the people that continue and refuse failure, that make it to their goals.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Next, you need to break past your road block.  You have figured out what the cause of your dry spell is, but now you need to break on through and keep working.  For writer’s block, it may be as simple as sitting down and typing until you get something going.  For a lack of time, you can schedule in writing time.  If it is more complicated, break it down into simple ways to motivate yourself.

For me, I inflated my ego a bit.  I went to the reviews of my short works that are previously published and saw what they had to say.  Reminded myself that people do enjoy what I write, and that eventually an editor will.  I also recognized that not everyone is able, or willing, to fall into finite deadlines.  I either need to live with it, or only work with people who will follow deadlines (likely a mixture of both).  Last, I think I am good with marketing.  But I had to recognize that when it comes to books, I am new at it.  And when it comes to Children’s Books, I am unsure where to start.  So I’ve started asking around for help on that.

The point is whatever is holding you back needs to be addressed.  You need to either make peace with it, or solve it.  Either way you have to get those things out of the way before you can start writing again.

Last, perform a rain dance.  You will never get past a dry spell if you don’t start getting things going.  If you have a work in progress, open it up and get working.  You’ve worked past all your issues, but your desire to write won’t magically spark up.  You need to start writing.  You might find that you will jump right back in.  Or, especially in the case of writer’s block, you will struggle to start up again.  But after a little time at the keyboard you will find the rains will fall again.  And hopefully once you get going again your next dry spell will be a long way off.

Some people hit dry spells and give up.  For some people they simply don’t feel the need to write anymore.  But, chances are they would not be interested in finding a way to start writing again.  If you have the desire to keep writing, but you just can’t seem to do it, you are a writer in a dry spell.  Don’t give up on it.  Clearly writing is something you enjoy doing, or you wouldn’t seek out advice on how to end your dry spell.  Now get to work on fixing it, and get those words on paper.

 

RIP Ray Bradbury

Over the last few hours, news has come out that author Ray Bradbury died sometime last night.  I had to say a little something about Mr. Bradbury.  He was one of the greatest writers of Science Fiction.  Aside from that, he ranks among one of the most talented authors across all the genres.

There are not many authors, or even readers, that were not touched by at least one of Ray Bradbury’s many stories.  I’m no exception.  I want to take a moment to reflect on how Ray Bradbury’s work’s influence on my life.

As high school came along for me, I’d really come to hate reading.  At this time, my reading influence came from whatever novel the English Teachers issued out and made us read.  Some of them I forced myself to struggle through and read.  Others, I simply sat at the back of the class and hoped I wasn’t called on for discussion.

One day, we were reading through our English Text book.  It often had a number of dull and boring (in my opinion) short stories that we had to read.  We’d then pick the author’s brain to pieces.  On one particular day, we came across “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury.  A story and author I had never heard of.  After reading that story, I was in shock about how much I enjoyed it.  I went back, reread it again at home, and then again the next day (and over the years I have read it many times over).  To this date, it is the only short story that I remember so clearly.

I’d be lying if I said that I was hooked on reading ever since.  I went right back into my ‘sitting at the back of the class’ mentality.  Then a year later, our class was assigned Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  It is my understanding not many classes at my High School read that book.  I guess I was just lucking.  I read every assigned reading, and I even read ahead.  I was done with the book before the fourth chapter was assigned to us.  For the first time, I was at the front of the class, active in every discussion.  I wasn’t even afraid to tell the teacher that I thought her interpretation of the text was wrong.  I had to go back and read at the assigned speed to I could stay on top of our discussions, and I didn’t even mind doing it.

From that moment on my interest in reading was sparked.  I found a genre I enjoyed and I was trying to read it all.  But, I also go a better appreciation of novels outside my favorite genre.  I enjoyed reading (though I still didn’t enjoy Teacher’s opinions on symbolism).  Of course, my reading guided me to my desire to write.  Really if it hadn’t been for Mr. Bradbury, I don’t know what I’d be doing today.  Perhaps I’d be a teacher (cringe).

I understand that Mr. Bradbury wrote up until his death.  I hope that I have the will to do the same.  Ray Bradbury is a literary icon and the world should take a moment to reflect on the art he has given us.  I hope his family can take comfort in the fact that so many people, like me, are inspired by him.  Rest in Peace Ray Bradbury, I hope you found your own paradise to relax in.

 

Some of my favorite Ray Bradbury Quotes:

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them.”

“Don’t think.  Thinking is the enemy of creativity.  It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy.  You can’t “try” to do things.  You simply “must” do things.”

“There’s no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.”

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn” From Fahrenheit 451

“There is more than one way to burn a book.  And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

AND MOST FITTING:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”  From Fahrenheit 451