August! Already!

Over the last few months, maybe even years, I’ve been saying I’d get back into blogging more regularly.  There was a time where I was really good at doing this and for some reason or the other, I’ve let it slip away.  I’ve intentionally kept my life busy and the result is that sometimes there isn’t the time.  And sometime there isn’t the desire either.  I blame depression for that.

Factor Four Magazine is a passion of mine and I’ve put my creative time into that.  Two issues are under our belt now and I’m really feeling positive that I have good systems in place to handle it.  I am still the only one on the magazine staff, so I do it all.  Social Media posts, readings, editing, layout, advertisement, subscription management, and more.  But you know what, despite all that I’m thinking of putting together another publishing project: An anthology for 2019 release.  No details yet.  But I figured you all could have the early “scoop” since you still come by and read my blog.

The moral here is that time goes by a lot faster than it used to.  Publishing has become my focus when I am not at my day job or being with my family, and some of my writing has slipped by the wayside.  I’ve not abandoned it by any means. I still have four short stories looking for a home.  Plus I still have so many novel ideas to get out.  The final book (maybe) of The Serenity Saga, a new novel, and possibly a sequel to Volition Agent (I was asked about a prequel too). I just don’t think it will be in 2018.  I mean, fuck it is August already!

Speaking of August, it will be a busy one for me.  2018 has been the year of Conventions, both in my day job and writing.  I don’t think I will have traveled so much in one year.  I went to Norwescon this year, that was amazing and I hope they will invite me to be a panelist in 2019. Also, later this year is OryCon.  I haven’t heard if they’ll invite me as a Panelist, so ask about me! But August brings two more writing conventions that I am excited to attend.

SpoCon – Spokane, WA – August 10 to 12

I am really excited about this one because I will be a panelist, and moderator, on several panels.  You can see my whole schedule below, or you can click here.  I’d really like to see you if you’re there, so please come say hello.  I’d like to do a signing, but I’ve not committed to that yet, but both issues of the magazine, as well as my books will be on sale there. Space is still available, and you can register at the website.

 

Title: Should Kids Self-Publish?

Date/Time: Friday August 10th @ 4PM:

Official Description: What should young writers, artists and musicians (and their parents) be aware of before they distribute their work to the public?

Other Panelist(s): Kaye Thornbrugh

My thoughts: I am excited about discussing this.  My regular followers know of my son’s children’s book, Daddy is Tired.  But as a Self-Pub author, I am also planning to provide insight on that avenue of publishing.

 

Title: Flash Fiction: the Genre

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 11am

Official Description: How do you define flash fiction — strictly by word count, or is there more to it? Our panelists reveal the ins and outs of this relatively new literary form.

Other Panelist(s): Voss Foster, S. Evan Townsend, Dawn Vogel, Stoney Compton, Dean Wells

My thoughts: Oh, boy.  I love flash fiction.  I love writing it, and I love reading it.  Of course, you know I took that passion into publishing it.  I’d debate the concept of “new literary form”, but certainly under recognized for the true art form that it is.  As moderator, I plan to focus on not just what is flash fiction, but why is it unique compared to other short fiction.  We will also touch on common pitfalls and how to address them.

 

Title: The Iron Writer Competition

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 1pm

Official Description: The pen is mightier than the sword! Our contestants will take on the challenge of improvisational writing through several rounds of battle, each with a secret writing prompt. Watch writers test their story skills under time and pressure, for a chance at the title of Iron Writer!

Other Panelist(s): Remina Goude, Frances Pauli
My Thoughts: I am hosting another Iron Writer competition.  So far I have two contestants who will battle it out with a secret writing prompt.  We will have three rounds to determine the winner of Iron Writer!  I’d love to have four writers compete, but we have two already.  Not too late to join in.
Title: What Editors Want
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 3PM
Official Description: From the first submission to an ongoing partnership, how can writers stay on good terms with their editors? What are some of the biggest turn-offs for an editor?

My Thoughts: We have a good group of panelist for this.  One of the challenges of what we editors want is that we are all different people.  As moderator, I am thinking I will let the conversation dictate the direction we take on this broad topic.
Title: Short Fiction in SF
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @5PM
Official Description: SF is one of the last remaining genres where authors can sell short fiction. Although stories might not get the attention novels do, it it is a demanding form on its own. Our panelists discuss why short fiction is worth writing — and reading!

My Thoughts: Does short fiction not get the attention it deserves? I think Flash doesn’t, but the overall short fiction market seems strong enough to me.  I think we will be discussing why SF still loves short fiction, among other things.
Title: The Writing Habit
Date/Time: Sunday August 12th @ 12pm
Official Description: Authors share strategies to keep their work going, even when the pipes burst or your favorite show comes on TV.

My Thoughts: Dr. Glass is one of the Guests of Honor at SpoCon so I am excited to be on a panel he is moderating.  I just mentioned that I am struggling with the writing habit.  So I hope to offer a unique insight into my struggle and how I am working to overcome it.
Title: Impact of Social Media
Date/Time: Sunday August 12 at 1PM
Official Description: Sharing reviews, building buzz, linking and blogging… What impact does social media have on books and other creative projects? How can you make social media work for you?

Other Panelist(s): Grivante
My Thoughts: Social media can feel like a minefield sometimes. It can also feel like a lost cause when it comes to promotion.  But you can make it work for you as well.

WorldCon 76 – San Jose, CA – August 16 to 20

I had wanted desperately to be a panelist at WorldCon, but I got to that party a little late.  Though, I haven’t has very good communication from the folks there to know why.  I won’t get into the controversy here. I will say that to redo programming of a WoldCon this late in the game is not easy and I appreciate that effort for sure.

But, I am very excited to attend.  I haven’t attended at WorldCon since my first one in San Antonio.  San Jose is well know place for me.  I am originally from the Bay Area, and I visited San Jose very regularly when I lived there.  Of course you all know my fan status of the San Jose Sharks.  You also likely know that I am big fan of John Picacio, the Art Guest of Honor.  He also created the Mexicanx Initiative.  I, along with so many others, donated a membership to this cause. In total 50 memberships were sponsored so that we can ensure that the “World” part of WorldCon is represented.

All things aside, I am excited to attend WorldCon again.  I likely won’t get to Dublin next year, but I hope to attend the year after that as well.

 

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Welcome 2018

I started off this blog with the idea that I’d do a post on how to improve your odds of getting accepted to Factor Four Magazine.  But then I got to thinking, that’s no way to start of 2018.  Instead I thought I’d get a short post going about things to expect in 2018.  The positives this year is going to bring.  And hopefully not curse myself along way.

First off is the elephant in the room.  Today I finished selecting the stories for Issue 1 of Factor Four Magazine.  I read nearly 600 stories to get to the point of accepting just 16.  There was a lot of good fiction in that reading queue.  I must admit I was overwhelmed by the task at first.  It took only 6 weeks to hit 600 submissions and the speed only seems to be picking up.  To top that off, I really had trouble getting down to just a few stories to select.  Even the short list was hard to whittle down to these final 16.  Once contracts are signed, the Factor Four Magazine Twitter account will be announcing the authors selected.  April 2018 is the release of Issue 1.  The next task in contracts, and cover art selection.

I have two short fiction stories of my own coming out this year.  I haven’t got a date yet on either.  The first will be released in Mind Candy Vol. 1, this was my first pro-rate sale.  The other will be read on The Centropic Oracle.  I can’t wait to hear a story of mine read aloud.  I have a couple other short fiction pieces that I haven’t sold yet.  I’ll be looking for a home for those this year also.

The urge to write is strong, the time to write is not there.  Work has be crazy. But I am also the only reader for Factor Four Magazine.  All that being said, I am making a goal to get Book 3 of The Serenity Saga out this year.  I am also still toying around with another Volition Agent novel and possible sequel to Broken Trust.  I have a fourth novel idea that will likely work on a stand alone basis.  But the first priority is to continue Christina Serenity’s story.

2018 is the year of conventions for me.  I am looking to speak at a few again.  My longtime followers know that I loved speaking at DetCon1. I’ve applied to speak at SpoCon and plan to apply at OryCon.  I may even apply to talk at VCon in Vancouver.  I plan to attend WorldCon in San Jose and Norwescon in Seattle as well, but I was too late to apply to talk at either of those.  I’ve created an “appearances” page on my website.  If you are going to any of these conventions, I’d love to say hello.  I’d also like to say how great it is to have so many Science Fiction Conventions locally.

Many of you may know that I really love the Washington State Parks system.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to many of the state parks in 2017.  This year I hope to spend some weekends out exploring nature again.  The exercise is great, but the calm and peacefulness of nature is a great clearing of the mind.

I’d also like to take a vacation of some type again this year.  I took my family to Disneyland last year, it was the first time for my kids.  My wife and I hadn’t been since 2004.  I love that place.  I didn’t want to leave. I don’t think I’ll get to Disneyland in 2018, but I’d like to take the kids on another memorable vacation.  Life is worth more to me than just working.  That’s why I made it a point to start publishing again, and I also want to make it a priority to enjoy the time with my family while the kids are young.

The last one is that I’ve made it a point to get back to being financially stable.  It did pretty well until the end of the year.  So this year I am making more of a point of creating a savings account.  It seems counterproductive to launch a magazine and plan a lot of trips.  But I have a financial road-map that I’ve made and it seems to be working out well.

So that is my plan for 2018.  We shall see how it all plays out.  But it sounds like I have a busy year ahead of me.

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!

Sink or Swim, but be Swept Out to Sea

The day after I announced that I would be working with the folks at SciFan Magazine, they announced they were shutting down.  It was a shock to me, they didn’t warn me it was coming.  It just sort of happened.  But, when a magazine shuts down, that seems to be the case.  One day they’re there, the next day they can be gone.

Magazine publishing is very much a sink or swim business and, as my headline states, you are swept out to sea.  Not only are you trying to swim, you are getting hit by wave after wave.  Money problems, competitive market, unexpected expenses, standing out in the crowd, being discovered; wave after wave hits.  To get above the waves you need a boat.  And building a boat while you are trying to keep your head above water just doesn’t work out often.

Plasma Frequency was very successful as a semi-pro publication.  We were on the low end of that “semi-pro” pay rate, but we attracted great authors and put out great stories.  We tried to be innovative in the way we communicated with authors, and we attracted good people to our editorial staff.  And then a huge wave of financial woes hit us.  We’d just patched the raft we’d created when the next one hit.  And we sunk.

I spiraled down into a depression and there was no recovery for me until very recently.  But even through my worst times, I missed doing it.  And now I find myself strongly considering publishing again.  But this time, I’m trying to build the boat before shoving off into the sea.  I am taking the things I’ve learned from Plasma Frequency, and I am going to apply them to the design.

Plasma Frequency is not returning, I’ll make that clear.  That boat sank and it is time to move forward.  I also must be clear that I could very well decide this boat isn’t seaworthy and not pursue this any further.  But, I can say that I am getting very close to testing the waters and I am eager to see if it is possible to happen again.

International Podcast Day and Other Updates

I still really haven’t got back into the regular swing of writing since my nearly three year hiatus.  Even regular blogging still eludes me.  I don’t like to do several self promoting posts in a row, but at the same time I believe writing anything is better than nothing.  So I thought I’d touch on a few updates since I last blogged.

But first, today in International Podcast Day, so what better time to announce that I have sold another short story.  My story, “Compassionate Death” was sold to the Canadian Podcast, The Centropic Oracle.  This marks another first for me.  I’ve never sold a story to a podcast before.  I also had to explain to my Dad what a Podcast was.

No information on when this story will be published, but given that today was International Podcast day, I thought I’d share the news now.  Besides, the folks at The Centropic Oracle deserve a name drop.

You may also remember that I sold a short story to SciFan Magazine, which was my first print sale.  I also blogged a little bit about my thoughts on the publishing side and may have mentioned that I missed doing it.  This prompted SciFan Magazine Co-Producer, Dayne Edmondson, to contact me.  They asked if I’d join their review team and I accepted.

Now I will preface this with the fact that SciFan Magazine is doing amazing things and I am happy to be a part of their review team.  However, it has only made me miss publishing magazines that much more.  I will say that I am glad to see a magazine like SciFan.  This magazine has huge potential and could go somewhere big in the near future.  I am so glad to be a part of it.  Still, I hope someday to publish a magazine of my own again.  Someday.

But, on the topic of SciFan Magazine, I am giving away a signed copy of Issue 9 as well as some other great prizes.  Enter through Rafflecopter today!

There are several great prizes and you can earn more point each day by simply tweeting.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go send a few more short stories off to other great publications.  Wish me luck!

Thoughts on Magazine Publishing

I recently had a story accepted by SciFan Magazine and though they have yet to release my story in one of their issues, I did start reading their magazine.  One of the things I came across this post of theirs.

It got me thinking about my time publishing Plasma Frequency and the struggle it was to come up with funding from time to time. Magazine publishing is a hard market to stand out in, and I’d like to think that Plasma Frequency stood out in a positive way.

I said it all the time, but I really did have a great team of volunteers behind the magazine and, though I funded it, I was only a small part of the process.

The point of all this:  I miss publishing.

I miss reading awesome stories from talented authors.  I miss losing sleep over whose story I’d have to reject.  I miss the awesome editors I worked with to put out the magazine.  I miss the way we tackled author feedback.  I miss post shares of the favorites and the author shares of their work.  And I miss collecting each issue.

It is hard to publish a magazine.  It is not easy.

First, there are a shitload of magazines out there.  And for each shitload there is a fuckton of good ones.  So many of them already have established reader bases and your only hope to find readers is to advertise to them.

Marketing a magazine isn’t easy at all.  First, most magazines don’t make a whole lot of money if any.  They rely on either the editor’s income, donations, or in magazine advertising.  Selling issues is hard enough as it is because so many good magazine publish their content 100% free online.   Then you have to find target an audience and get readers.

Now before anyone gets excited, I am not bringing back Plasma Frequency.  Even if I do return to publishing, it will be a different magazine all together.  Or maybe anthologies??  I’m not hinting at anything… honestly.

I think the point I am trying to make is to take time for your genre’s magazines too.  Read them, share them, donate if you want, but take the time to read magazines too.  We need new markets to join and we need them to mature.

The Ups & Downs (and way downs) of Being an Independent Author

AuthorBeing an Independent Author sounds easy.  It sounds like a ton of fun.  First, you get to write.  I love that part.  Second, you don’t have to deal with the hassles of agents, query letters, chapter submissions, and the countless months waiting for answers.  I love that part, too.  And with the invention of KDP, Nook Press, and Smashwords (just to name a few) it is fairly easy to get your work published.  All this adds up to a very quick time from finishing a book to having it available to readers.  All of these reasons are exactly why I went the Independent Author route.  I had stories I wanted to tell and I wanted to reach readers quickly without the hassles of the traditional route.

Sounds easy doesn’t it.  A lot of people say it is easy.  Well that isn’t entirely true.  No one ever told me it would be easy.  They made is sound easy, they made it seem like the right path.  But no one ever said, this is the easy way to go.  And, I’m telling you right now… This is not the easy way to go.

Marketing as an independent author is hard, bordering on impossible.  There are so many authors standing on the roof tops yelling, “Buy my book!” that no one really listens anymore.  I am a member of several Facebook groups, and they are filled with nothing but “Buy my book” posts.  Now I wonder if anyone going to these groups looks for books to buy, or are they all coming to these groups to tell me to buy.  And your Facebook page and Twitter page will only reach a limited audience, and if all you do is try to sell you’re follower numbers shrink even more.  I love my blog audience, but again this is a tiny group of people.

Independent Authors talk a lot about the way we should share each others posts, help build the word of mouth, but in actuality they rarely step up to the task.  Is that bad of them?  No, they should only share what they want to share.  Not just share because I say they should.  But the point being is that social media is not the selling tool everyone thinks it is.  It is not a direct selling method.  That is to say that if you expect to tweet your book link and get clicks and sales from that, it won’t work.  But if you expect people to follow you for you (because they like what you post about), well then you just might get somewhere.

Don’t even get me started on how Facebook has destroyed the ability for the Indie author to reach out.  Let just say, now that only roughly 10-25% of my followers even see my posts, it has really killed my ability to use them for anything.

With the release of Volition Agent, a novel which I thought was anticipated by my readers, I have found that there are many down sides to being an Indie Author.  My sales numbers for Volition Agent have been so low I’ve found myself fighting off a bit of depression.  It is hard when you’re very excited about a novel, and the release day comes and you get no love.  It stings actually.  No, stings isn’t the right word.  It makes you sink so low that you wonder if writing is even your calling.  It makes you want to throw everything away and yell “FUCK IT” and walk away.

Then you get your first review on Amazon.  I was so happy to see a five star rating on Amazon.com.  It was a short review, “Although I’m only a third of the way through the book, I’ve found the ideas and writing style to be so good that I want to read more. Highly recommend this.”  But that review lifted me up.  They like the book, they like it so much they want others to know before they even finished it.  So naturally I shared this with all the writing groups I am on.

In one particular group, another user commented.  That user said. “Only a third of the way through the book, and already recommending it? Based on what I’ve seen I would wait for it to come the the library, rather than pay money for it.”

Talk about a slap down to Earth.  This hurt for several reasons:  First this is an authors and artists group.  Not one other Author in that group spoke up in my defense.  Not even the admin.  It is a fairly standard rule the constructive criticism is acceptable, but there is nothing constructive here.  The comment was meant solely to crush my positive review.  What happened to the Independent authors banding together?  Of course now, I find it funny that he would criticize a review simply because they passed judgement when they were 1/3 through, but he passed judgement without reading a word.

Then I go to seek comfort in my sales numbers, to which I found no comfort.  I simply slipped way down into the depths of a depression and the “screw it” mentality that I stopped planning anymore writing projects.  I simply shut down, and had enough.  Being an independent author hurts and there is no respect in it.  I’ve tried a lot to get some hype built.  My giveaway on Goodreads is doing well enough. My giveaway on Rafflecopter is a laughing matter, with only 7 entries.  The photo contest will likely be canceled because of no entries.  I’m still trying to get people to click on my Goodreads ads (with no luck and a lot of money still tied up).  And neither book has even broke even yet.

It isn’t about money for me.  It never has been.  I just want to be read, and accepted by readers.  I just want people to enjoy my stories, but how do I make them aware I even exist.  I love the fans I have, and I am sure some of them are telling their friends to get my books, but I want to find some new readers.  For the independent author this is the hard part.

So between this new level of depression and the 60 hour work weeks of my day job, I haven’t bothered to care about writing anything.  I know I am not the only indie author that feels this way.  I know I am not the only one that feels like they’ve tried everything to get people excited and talking about their work, only to find that no one cares.  I know I am not alone, but it certainly feels that way.

There are ups too.  Like getting an Amazon review, a Goodreads review, and especially a blog review.  Yesterday I got a very nice, actually it was excellent, review from the Devoted Mommy of 3 blog.  I know of a review coming for Volition Agent, though I don’t know when yet.  And I’ve had a few positive words from others about my books.  So, I started another novel.  I’ll keep writing because I have faith that eventually readers will discover me, and when they do they will want to read as much of what I have written has they can find.  So for them I keep writing, and for them I will stay on the independent path for now.

Now many of you writers might be reading my blog and thinking; Oh man, Independent Authoring sucks!  I’m going traditional.  Well, that is a choice that is up to you.  I think every author needs to ask themselves three questions before deciding if traditional or Independent in the right choice for them.

Why do I write? If you are writing to get your stories out to readers as quickly as possible then that leans to the independent side.  If you are writing to get “discovered” and make a good living on it, you might want to think about the traditional route.  That doesn’t mean that indie authors don’t get discovered, it just means that your odds are lower.

Where do you want to see your books sold? If you want to see your books in B&N stores nationwide, traditional.  If your writing to see your works published quickly on the major online retailers, indie.  If you are happy with local book sellers, you might try the indie route, but be prepared to do some convincing.  If you want book tours, book signings, and all that fun stuff, traditional is your choice.  If you want blog tours, indie is good.

Do you want to make this your career?  If you plan to write for a career, I don’t know that Indie is your choice.  It certainly isn’t the faster way to do it.  I am still in the negative for Dissolution of Peace, which I have spent roughly $500 on to date.  I think I have made about $150 on the book so far, I am still -$35o on the book.  I’m already into Volition Agent for around $350, I’ve just now hit $15 into that.  You don’t get rich in the indie market, at least not easily.  All marketing, cover art, editor, and promotional costs are on you.  I haven’t even included the free books I’ve give away in the costs above.  You won’t make a lot of money easily.  But, there is no guarantee you’ll make it big in the traditional method either.  Even if you make a sale, most books don’t earn out their advance and start earning royalties.

Typically this would be the part where I tell you that you can help me in a few simple steps.  You know the drill because it is on every Independent Author blog.  You know, write reviews, tell a friend, blah blah blah.  I’m going to skip all that.  You’ve heard it before and either you are doing it, or you are not.  That is your choice to make.

The point of this blog is simple.  Being an independent author is not easy.  If you are planing to be one, or are one, because you thought it would be the easier way.  You’ll get a rude awakening.  The independent author road is filled with a lot of ups and downs, and the down can be really bad.  But don’t give up either.  There will be critics, there will be praise, and most commonly there will be readers who will say nothing.  Just breath, get out of the funk, and start writing the next one.  I’m glad I saw that and started my third novel.

 

Volition Agent – Chapter 2 reveal and Preorder details

We have only one more week until Volition Agent releases for public sale.  To honor this, and to get you wanting more, I’ve decided to share Chapter Two with all of you.  If you haven’t yet, you can read chapter one hereVolition Agent releases on Kindle and Paperback on July 2nd.  The Nook release is still TBD.

You can add Volition Agent to your Goodreads here, and please do.

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can get an Advance Reader Copy in PDF or Kindle formats.  All I ask is for a review on your blog.  Contact me and we can discuss this.

If you want to pre-order your paperback copy of Volition Agent, you can do this through Createspace (an Amazon company), the book printer.  If you order today, and use standard shipping, it should arrive very close to the release date (or earlier).  There are currently no options to pre-order for Kindle.  So if you’d like a Kindle copy early, the only way to get it is to be a book blogger/reviewer and get an ARC.

Paperback Pre-Order

Below you will see the print cover spread.  I think it is absolutely great.  Once again I have to thank Kristin Irons and Joy Anna.  With out them the cover would be very lack luster.

Here is Chapter 2:

Volition Agent Book Spread
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons and Richard Flores IV

Volition Agent: Chapter 2

Copyright Richard Flores IV

Lexia burst through the door into the alley, still cursing at Lance. She shut up when she saw the red and blue lights reflecting off the buildings. Lexia peaked around the corner slowly before pulling her head back.

“Please tell me that isn’t your car out front,” Lance said in her mind.

Lexia just nodded. She ran down the back of the alley. Two cops came around the back of the building.

“You, stop!” One ordered.

Lexia turned around and ran the other way. Two more came around the front of the building. Lexia looked back and forth at the cops. She took a few steps back and then ran her way through the door of the neighboring building.

She sprinted down the hall, ignoring the cops yelling at her. She hit the end of the building and came to a door. It was locked.

“Hurry up, Lance.”

“I didn’t exactly expect you to park right in front of the target.”

“This wasn’t an assassination assignment either,” Lexia said as the door clicked open. She sprinted up the stairs.

“She attacked us.”

“We’d disarmed her,” Lexia yelled.

“Listen, I handled it within regulations.”

“Regulations! She was a mom; that baby has no parents now thanks to your trigger finger.”

“Can we focus on getting out of here?”

They crashed through the last door and onto the roof. Lexia looked around quickly. “Well, how are we getting out of this?”

The building was shorter than the other two next to it. Three floors, if Lexia counted the flights correctly. This building was twice as wide too. She started to run to the back of the building. She could hear the cops coming up the last set of stairs. She looked over the edge. It backed up to the next street over. From down there she would have a better chance of escaping.

“No way,” she said.

“It’s a survivable jump.”

“It’s my broken bones.”

You want to be arrested?” Lance’s voice rang through her head. “You know the rules.”

The Agency would disavow her in an instant. She looked back at the door. She took three steps back. “I don’t really have a choice.”

Lexia ran forward and jumped from the building. She opened her eyes for the landing just in time to see a cop car coming around the corner. Hitting the ground, Lexia rolled over several times. The cop car slammed on the brakes and swerved as she tumbled in front of it. The car hit a lamp post.

She jumped up in an instant and took off running down the street. Lexia heard more sirens in the distance, each getting closer. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw another cop car round the corner. The sound of the car behind her was close. She thought she could feel the heat of the engine as it barred down on her. At the last moment she cut down another alley.

Lexia heard the car screech to a halt. She looked over her shoulder to see another cop chasing her. She rounded a corner right into another dead end.

“Did you even look at any of the maps?” Lexia’s voice snipped at Lance.

“Shut up.” Lance’s voice chilled her spine.

The cop came around the corner. His gun pointed at Lexia.

“Hands up!” The cop ordered. Lexia was glad Lance listened. “Turn around slowly, in a complete circle.”

Lexia kept turning and turning until she spun one full time around and now faced away from the cop.

“Stop. Down to your knees.”

Lexia followed the instructions and put her arms on the back of her head. She waited nervously as she heard the cop approaching behind her. He was slow and methodical in his steps. She prayed Lance had a plan out of this.

She felt the handcuffs ratchet onto her right wrist. Just as the cop began to pull her wrist, Lexia dropped forward and pulled hard, toppling them both over. Her wrist screamed in pain as she grappled with the officer.

They rolled over and she managed to get a solid punch to his face. He shoved her off of him. Lexia began to topple backwards, but managed to catch her balance and lunged forward. Knocking the cop over again. Grappling with his arm until she finally pinned him to the ground, she pulled his arm behind his back. She used her other hand to flip open the cops handcuff case. She used his cuffs to restrain him. She pulled him up and sat him against the wall.

“I think he’s back here,” Lexia heard a voice yell out.

“I’m here!” The cop yelled.

Lexia knocked him out in one swift blow.

“Was that necessary?” Lexia asked.

“The fire escape,” Lance said.

Lexia looked up. She took a run, jumped up on a dumpster, kicked off the wall and just barely caught the bottom of the fire escape ladder. She pulled herself up quickly to the first landing. She checked the window, locked.

“Up there, on the escape!” A cop called out.

She scaled the next ladder and found an open window. Slipping inside, Lexia quickly made her way for the door. She flung it open and ran for the elevator. After hitting the button twenty times the elevator opened. Lexia pressed the basement button inside and leaned against the back wall trying to catch her breath.

“Now what?” She said between gasps.

“Basement parking garage.” Lance’s voice didn’t sound very reassuring in her head.

“They’re bound to have the building surrounded.”

The elevator opened. A strong odor of urine entered. Lexia peeked out cautiously. She didn’t see anyone among the dimly lit rows of parked cars. She ran until she spotted a sedan and walked around it. Taking the handcuff still hanging from her bleeding wrist, Lexia swung hard at the glass. First time nothing happened, just a loud noise that surely told everyone she was down here. The second time the window shattered.

“Well, they know we’re here now,” Lexia said as she slid into the car. “I don’t know how to hot-wire a car.”

“I do. So just let me work,” Lance said.

Lexia just let Lance have complete control as he went to work. The sound of the orphaned child’s cries rang in her mind. She couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d done. She was sure this wasn’t the first child whose parents she had killed, but she just couldn’t get the crying out of her head.

The engine roared to life. She sat up and put the car in reverse and pulled out slowly. As Lexia drove up the ramp she was kept her speed within reason. She was glad Lance didn’t want to draw attention.

She came out to the street and pulled away slowly. She was careful not to look in the direction of a cop, who was just coming out of the alley. Two more cop cars screamed past her. As she turned on the next street she gunned it.

“Can you get to the safe house from here?” Lance asked.

“I hope so.”

“Don’t go home until I can get things in place with The Agency.”

Crap! They got my car out front. It wouldn’t be long until they figure out who I am. How could I have been so stupid as to park nearby?

“Lexia, you understand?” Lance’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Go to the safe house, stay there. I’m jumping out.”

Copyright Richard Flores IV

PRE-ORDER: PAPERBACK

Do KDP Select Free Promotions Work?

Yesterday I did my first KDP Free Promotion.  For those that don’t know, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has an option to sign up for KDP Select.  This is a 90 day period where you allow Amazon (and by default Kindle) to be the only electronic form of your book sold.  Some people balk at the exclusiveness this implies.  But there are some pluses.  You get to be part of the Kindle Prime Lending Library. This means that people can borrow your book for free and in return you get a part of the collective “pot” of money.  I’ve not had any borrows yet.  Some authors have told me that you get more borrows for higher priced books, since prime users can only borrow one book per month.  I don’t know about that.

The other thing you get to do is pick five days per 90 day period to make your book free.  You don’t have to do that.  You don’t even have to pick the days when you publish your book.  You can go back and set up your days when you want.  You can do all five together or pick and choose a few days spread out.  The choice is entirely up to you.

As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, I made Dissolution of Peace free in honor of Veterans day in the United States.  It was free on all Amazon sites globally.  I did this for two reasons.  First, I wanted to see how well this KDP Free Promotions thing would work.  Second, I have a special place in my heart for those that serve in the armed forces.  It may even be why I enjoy writing military fiction.  So I decided to honor those people in a way that was important to me.

The real question is, do promotions like this work?

Success is truly something only you can decide.  But, I will show you what it did for me in just the one day since the promotion.  You can decide from there if it could be successful for you.

I would also like to point out that I did not market my free book on anything other then this blog, my Twitter, and Facebook.  I didn’t announce it on one the the many free eBook blogs.  I just spread the word myself.

Getting Books in the Hands of Readers

The point in writing a book is to have it read.  I’ve stressed that making money is not my goal in writing.  My goal is to get readers and maybe get a few fans who want to read anything I write.  So did the promotion get my book in the hands of readers.  With out a doubt it is a huge success in that fashion.

In Amazon US, I had about 19 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released.  Nineteen times more readers in one day then in the four weeks since my book was released.

In Amazon UK, I had 88 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released.  The UK was phenomenal in this free promotion.  I’ll get to more on that soon.

In Amazon Germany, I had 7 times more downloads yesterday then in the four weeks since it was released.

I even had my first download in Italy.

In comparison to other promotions I have done, this was by far the most successful.  My own eBook giveaways resulted in only around 10 free eBooks being given away.  This includes those sent to reviewers.  But if I wanted to get more readers, this was certainly a great way to do it.  They may not read it right away, I am sure there are people who just won’t pass up free, but there a whole lot more people with copies of my book now.  This means there are a lot more people in the pool to write reviews, tell their friends, and look for future titles I release.

Creating Awareness of my Book

This is a really hard thing to do.  Getting your book noticed by potential buyers is very hard for any author, especially the indie author.  You are fighting an up hill battle with major authors, major publishers, and the rest of the indie market.  It is not easy to be noticed.

One way to get noticed is on Amazon’s Best Seller Lists.  The thing that always frustrated me about many “help” sites that talk about these best seller lists don’t let you know the secrets to getting on the lists.  The truth is the secret is simply getting sales.  But Amazon does one great thing here.  The Best Seller Lists of the Top 100 eBooks sold is listed right next to the Top 100 Free eBooks.  Number 5 in sales is right next to number 5 in free.

This means that when someone is looking for the best sellers on science fiction ebooks, they are also seeing the best sellers in free science fiction ebooks.  You still have to get the downloads to get on the list, but you can get a lot of benefit once you get on the list.  If nothing more than getting the cover of your book seen by more eyes.

I mentioned how great the UK was in this free promotion.  The first time I checked my Amazon UK page yesterday was at 10:16 in the morning.  My book had only been free for ten hours, which is a fair amount of time, especially considering the time difference.  But at that point I was #48 on the Top 100 Free Science Fiction eBooks.  And by the end of the promotion I was #19.  In that time I had been on the same page as H. P. Lovecraft, Jules Vern, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and more.  I was even next to George R.R. Martin at one point.  That is some good company to hang out with, even on a virtual level.

UK Best Sellers of Science Fiction on 11/12/2012

In the US, it was a slower start.  This, in part, has to do with two factors.  First, the US site has a much larger pool of shoppers.  They include India, and many other places that don’t have their own sites.  But, KDP free events also start at 12:01 am Pacific time.  Right when most of the US is still asleep.  But by 12:45 pm, twelve hours into the the promotion, I was on the top 100 list at number 61.  And by the time it was over, I had made it to 28.  So while the UK really came through on the Best Seller’s list, the US still put me along side the great names of Science Fiction past and present.

 

US Best Sellers of Science Fiction on 11/12/2012

I would say that overall that is a successful way of gaining exposure to my book.  I don’t know how many people browse the Top Sellers list.  But I do know that I often look for books online this way.  So overall even if I didn’t get downloads, people saw my book cover.  And book covers are the brand image of books.  Like all brands, the more the image is seen the more it becomes known and in some cases trusted.

You might be wondering where my book ranked at in the over all ranking for Free eBooks.  In the US it was #779 and in the UK it was #425.  Not bad considering how many thousands, probably millions, of books are on Amazon.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth advertising is probably some of the best.  People often choose books based on the recommendations of friends and family.  While I doubt anyone recommended my book the same day they downloaded it.  I got far more downloads then I have Facebook, Twitter, and Blog followers.  This means people had to hear about it from other people.  So people were at least mentioning my book.  I also noticed that many people were downloading my book in the US before it broke on to the top 100 list.  So they had to find it some other way.

But this huge pool of new readers who downloaded my book will contribute to the word of mouth advertising that will continue to increase traffic to my book.  And will hopefully increase my sales volume.

Reviews

I don’t know if this will increase my reviews.  Before the promotion I had two Amazon reviews, and one Amazon UK review.  But, the increased reader pool also means an increased reviewer pool.  So that has to cause a higher chance of being reviewed. But only time will tell on this.

Increased Sales

Again, only time will tell on this.  But my point has never been to get money.  Some people see the free book giveaway as nothing but lost revenue.  But to date, nothing has got Dissolution of Peace in the hands of more readers than the Amazon free promotion.  I’ve never thought of writing as a way to make money.  For me it is has been about readers, and maybe making enough money to cover the costs associated with publishing it.  Would I complain if my book starts flying off the shelves?  Of course not.  That is the goal of most writers, but not for the sake of money but for the sake of the volume of readers.

From what I have heard from others, the sales will increase but that takes time.

Summary

I can’t really see it any other way.  KDP has hit a home run with the idea of allowing authors five days to make the book free.  And if you use those days through out your 90 day period as a promotional tool, you can really gather a lot of new readers.  And many readers who might not have otherwise picked up your book.  I’ll likely do another two or three of these free promotional things in the next few months.  I see nothing but success here.  And if I enjoyed this much success with limited announcement outlets, imagine if I branched out from my circle of followers.

Of course, many people are turned off be the exclusiveness of KDP Select.  They feel like they are excluding a market of readers that use other eReaders.  Personally I have had little request for ePub format.  But, 90 days is a relatively short time.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to renew it.  Personally I think it is worth a try.

 

Form Rejections

When I started out as a writer, I went to work with short stories.  There are tons of markets to share my stories with.  When I got my first form letter rejection, I wasn’t surprised.  I’d known rejection was part of the game and I had been warned that most markets use the Form Letter for rejections.  The question no one could really answer clearly was: Why?

I’d first been told it was because of the sheer volume of submissions.  Which I wasn’t sure about since I didn’t think it took but two seconds more to tell me why I was rejected.

I was told it has to do with editor policy.  Which is true, but doesn’t really answer the why.

I was told it was just the industry standard.  Again true, but not really why.

The point is, every writer danced around the topic because frankly none really knew why.  We just accepted it as the way of the writing world, and went with it.  After all there really isn’t anything any of us can do to change it, unless we all just stopped sending in submissions.  But I’m not going to stop sending in submissions over the type of rejection I get.

I’ve been running Plasma Frequency now for five months and we’ve put out two issues.  And up until yesterday we offered personal rejections on every submission.  Even as our large volume of submission came in, we continued to provide personal rejection letters.  Why did we do that?  I thought that was what writers wanted.  They wanted to be told why their story was rejected.  They wanted to learn from the rejections.  They wanted to know if the editor even finished manuscript.  And if not, why.  So I thought, lets tell them. 

The problem is this.  Authors don’t really want to know.  Not truly.  When they find out from the editor that the opening was boring, it upsets them more than the form letter did.  When an editor say the manuscript wasn’t formatted and submitted correctly, they get aggravated they were rejected on a technicality.   When the editor says the story was great but doesn’t fit the publication, they get mad that the publication doesn’t accept “great” stories.

I realize this is an over generalization.  I get upset at personal rejection from time to time, but I really appreciate that they took the time to tell me why.  And in the end, like most writers, I just move on.  I fix the problem, or don’t, and send it off to the next place.

The problem is that there are a significant number of authors who are not professional enough to move on.  They have to say something back.  Those authors should read my blog post, “Inside an Editor’s Mind (Tips for Writers)”.  The problem is they are rarely correct in their anger, and it is almost always misplaced.

My staff and I have been threatened, cursed at, CAP LOCKED, and cyber bullied.  I already nearly lost one editor because of it.  Here are some of the things we’ve gotten back from authors.

“Well you would know about “overly sexual” you whore.”

“I will find everything any of you have ever written and I will ensure everyone I know rates it as poorly as possible.”

“You can suck my dick!”

“I consider myself above your petty opinions.”

“You must be sleeping with the Lead Editor to get your job.”

“I will tell everyone about your lack of professionalism.”

“YOU CAN ALL EAT SHIT!”

“You are by far one of the UGLIEST people I’ve seen.”

“I will find you and you will regret rejecting ME.”

Your first thought might be that we are doing something wrong.  That we are rude in our personal rejection.  But I discovered I am not the only one getting this behavior, we just rarely talk about it.

John Joseph Adams, editor for Lightspeed, and in my opinion one of the better editors in the business recently tweeted: “This week, have been both called a “tool” for rejecting someone & had a writer reply “FUCK YOU!!!” Still so surprising when people do this.”

While he is one of the only ones I know to publicly say so, many other editors have privately shared the same types of stories.  Writers who complain about how unprofessional we are, while writing to us in an unprofessional manner.  Frankly it is embarrassing to writers as a whole, and if we editors wanted to be truly unprofessional we’d share with you their names so you could rise up against them.  Because the fact remains that the main reason editors stop providing personal rejections is because of the abuse that writers like these give us.

The problem here is the professional divide.  There are many websites warning writers of bad editors.  Editors that take advantage of writers.  There should be.  There are also plenty of people who take to the internet in persecution of an editor or a company simply because of a rejection letter.  That is not right.  I personally have yet to find a website that warns editors of unprofessional writers.  Writers who say things that I’ve mentioned above.

Why?  We have to take the high road.  We have to be professional and accept that is is part of our job.  We are trying to give our opinions to help you understand why your story didn’t make the cut.  They are our opinions.  We are then persecuted, bullied, and abused for giving those opinions.  We just wanted to help.  It makes many editors quit.  And as their boss, I can’t really allow it to happen.  We can take limited steps to protect ourselves, such as switching to form rejection.  That is why we, at Plasma Frequency, stopped providing personal rejections to first read rejections.  We hope to continue to provide them to second and third read rejections.  Hopefully the writers at that level can handle our opinions.

Once again, I recognize that most writers don’t behave this way.  This might come off as a bit of rant.  And in a way it is.But the point is, it is my opinion that many publications use form letters simply because of the abuse the get if they used personal rejections.

Of course, as an editor I still very much respect writers.  I am thankful for the submissions we get.  I couldn’t run my magazine with out them.  I’ll likely still send out a few personal rejections to those who might appreciate the opinion.