Updates: Moving, Depression, and Failing to Write

The Bad

I Don't KnowAs a pessimist, I’ll start with the bad first.

Some of you may know from previous posts, and if you follow me on social media, that I recently underwent a major move.  I moved from my hometown of Vacaville, CA to Auburn, Washington.  I’ve rarely left the State of California for vacation.  The farthest I lived from Vacaville was about 5 years in Folsom, CA about an hour away.  So needless to say moving two states away was a big move, and a little bit scary of one too.

To top it off, I’ve gone from a four bedroom house to a three bedroom apartment.  This is another big adjustment.  I am not used to neighbors walking around above me.  Or having to walk forever to the trash.  Or even the smaller size of an apartment.  My family has had to adjust to the smaller spaces and the lack of a yard, or other things we are used to having in a house.

Family is another thing that has changed a bit.  This move was originally planned for the middle of June.  When the kids would be out of school and there would be time for my wife to transfer her job.  But my landlord told us we needed to move right before the holidays.  I had already been fired from my job.  So after a long talk with my wife, we decided that it was practical to move twice.  Once locally and then again six months later in June.  So we had to accelerate the plans.

So Amy and I drove all our belonging up to Washington.  Amy flew back to California and I was left up here alone.  I got really sick (I had already been fighting a cold).  And in the end I didn’t get anything done in the first week.  Things like getting a job didn’t happen.  Then Amy brought our kids up after they finished out the schooling and started winter break.  Then Amy went back to California.  She has to keep working down there until her job transfers, a date that hasn’t been set yet.  So I spent Christmas with the boys.  This is the first Christmas Amy and I haven’t had together in over 10 years.  Even thought one of us always seemed to have to work, we saw each other.

So it has been hard.  I have been suffering form a bit of depression and though I know that is normal, I can’t really slip past it.  I find myself sleeping late, moping around the house.  I force myself to go out, but it isn’t as much fun as it should be.  And the main thing that has suffered is my writing.  I haven’t written anything in almost a month.  I haven’t even opened any of my projects to review.

There have been a lot of delays to add to a already depressed Richard.  For example, I had planned to have responses from beta readers on Broken Trust by December 1.  All but one reader bailed out on me and hasn’t even bothered to respond.  So now I am looking for a new set of readers to look over this.  If you beta read for me, I’ll send you a signed paperback copy of the book when it is released as a Thank You gift (US Residents).  Contact me if you are interested.

Dissolution of Peace CoverThe fixes on Dissolution of Peace are still delayed by the editor.  She is doing the absolute best she can, but delays keep jumping up all over the place.  Hopefully the second edition can be released in January, but I can’t make any more promises on that.

The sequel to Dissolution of Peace is slow going.  Perhaps I should explain why.  Aside from the depression and busy life I’ve had, I am not sure I like how the sequel is progressing.  Originally I wrote the manuscripts for three novels.  The first is now Dissolution of Peace.  The second occurred after a lot of time had passed since the end of the first.  I made a decision that I owed the readers the story that occurred during this time lapse.  So I decided that was what I would write as the sequel.  The problem is, it isn’t progressing the way I thought it would.  I think part of this is my own self being critical of my work.  Depression and a lack of interest in writing anything is probably a huge factor too.

What I really needed to to was to break the slump in my lack of writing.  With all this free time on my hands, I should be writing more not less.  And I should be writing for my own sanity.  Since most of my books are still packed, I need this escape.  As I have mentioned several times over writing is my stress relief.  But honestly, it seems to be the first thing I am distracted from when I get upset.

The Good

IMG_20131215_090428_086

I’ve wanted to move to Washington for over four years.  I’m finally here.  That part I am thrilled about.  This is very beautiful country.  I love the rain, the evergreens, the natural beauty, and the state parks.  Yesterday I discovered Flaming Geyser State Park which is only about 20 minutes from me.  I think I could spend a long time sitting there writing while listening to the rivers and streams.  And I’ll be exploring some more of the State Parks later this week.  My own apartment complex is nestled in the hills surrounded by trees and it is a beautiful setting.  I’ve posted a few pictures here.IMG_20131215_090431_970

The downsizing has also been good.  I’ve managed to purge a lot of stuff I probably should have thrown out years ago.  I made a lot of charitable donations before I left Vacaville with the stuff my family no longer needed.  It has also allowed me to better organize myself since my office has to be shared with my bedroom.  And when Amy does move up here, she won’t want my office clutter everywhere.  There are a few pluses to living in an apartment too.  Things like no yard to maintain, no trash or water bills, and generally lower electric costs.  The lower rent also helps.  Unlike Vacaville, the apartment rents in Auburn are cheaper than the house rents.  And the saved money will be going into our “buy a house” fund.  Something that is on my two years goal list.

There is good news from Broken Trust.  I have cover art for the novel ready.  Mallory Rock, a great cover artist, did this cover for me.  I had a lot of trouble with this cover.  I really wanted to see certain things from it.  But I couldn’t hit the mark.  Mallory managed to hit the mark with this one.  Even thought it didn’t hit all the check boxes I wanted, it did give me what I needed.  A cover that was amazing and reflects the feel of the novel.  Don’t forget, you can get a free signed copy by being a beta reader for this book.  Read an early copy of this book, give me your thoughts and suggestions, and not only will you help shape the book.  I’ll send you a free copy, signed by me.

broken trust

Dissolution of Peace got a very nice shout out on Twitter from @CWVanderReyden.  His rave reviews of my book led to another person buying the book.  This is the first time that I have known of a direct recommendation resulting in the buying of my book.  And it was a simple word of mouth review.  I appreciate those types of reviews and praise a lot.  In many cases they can be more valuable that the professional reviewer.  So please leave  a review of my books on Amazon and Goodreads.  And tell a friend.  They can really make my day when I find out about them.twitter shout out

I forced myself to blog today.  That means I finally wrote something.  I’m hoping that means that when I am done here (and done making my kids lunch), I’ll start writing again on the next novel.  I need to crank that out and get it going for release in 2014.  I had a lofty goal of releasing three novels in 2014.  I think it can be done with how far along Broken Trust is.  But it will be a challenge just the same.  But the only way it will be done it to write.

And though my wife is not here with me, I do have the advantages of Google+ hangout to see her.  And she will be flying up to see us to the end of January.  And we will just keep our fingers crossed that her job transfer comes quickly and we won’t have to wait out too much longer.  There are a lot of couples who have to spend countless time apart, and I just have to remain optimistic that this will all work out in the long run.

And that about summarizes this move for me.  We moved to Washington to make a change that we couldn’t do in California.  And now that we have made the move, I have to remain optimistic that this was the right choice and that it will all fall into place soon enough.

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

Self Editing and What are Beta Readers

I’ve mentioned this several times, but my work goes through a process before I set it up for publication.  A quick summary:

I write it.

I self edit it.

I send it to Beta Readers.

I self edit it (again).

I send it to a professional editor.

I fix it.

I have it published.

When I list it all out like this it seems very simple.  But anyone who has ever put words on paper knows it isn’t so simple.  Most writers understand the first part.  Write it.  And most writers are capable of sending it to a professional editor and changing what they mark up.  But many writers miss the middle parts.  And, like a sandwich, the meaty parts are in the middle.

Self Editing

IMG_20130406_142102_592If you’re going to send this off to professional editor, why is self editing so important?  Well, two things.  Editors are humans too, they won’t catch everything.  Especially if your manuscript is error plagued. Second, you will quickly find that you discover a lot about what doesn’t work in your story’s plot by doing a self edit.

When I self edit, I find that I still miss a lot.  So I learned a little trick, and tried it out for the first time with the Volition Agent manuscript. I printed the entire manuscript and went over it, using a red pen to mark up what changes I needed.  I use the red pen because it stands out.  So when I went back to make changes, I could find them quickly and fix them quickly.  I print it out because it gives me a chance to read my words in a different way than I did on a computer screen.  When you look at your words in a different way, things stick out that you would otherwise miss.

When I self edit, I look for the following things:

Grammar mistakes.  This is the first thing I look for, though I am also the first to admit I am very bad at catching them.  Though I did find that having the manuscript printed in front of me (versus on my computer screen) was much easier at seeing these things.  But still, I recognize that grammar is not my strong suit so I do my best with checking for this stuff.

Punctuation errors. For me, this is most often missing punctuation.  No period.  Using a period when I meant for a question mark. The other thing that I have a habit of doing is putting a quotation mark at the end of the paragraphs during multiple paragraph dialogue (by one speaker). So I have to remove those.

Typos. I type at 60 words a minute with no errors.  But when I write my stories, I typed at 80-90 words per minute with a lot of errors.  Some have told me to just slow down.  But when I type from my mind, my mind goes much faster then 60 words a minute.  Probably much faster then 90 words per minute.  So I often find a lot of typos, missing words, or added words.  Easy to fix, and really easy to spot when you read it.

Plot Errors. I’m not an outline writer, so I ofter find things in the early chapters that I missed or didn’t need to continue the story for the later chapters.  I’d say 90% of my red marks on my manuscript this time around were for plot and prose issues.  Either to remove something or to add something.  In fact, I reworked the entire ending and will be going back to add 5 new chapters throughout the book.  Some will say this is why outlines work.  But I also know many outline writers.  They too say the bulk of their self editing goes to the plot.  The most important part of your story is the plot, followed by how you tell it.  Remember this doesn’t just include missing or extra plot points.  This includes all aspects of your story not related to the above topics.

Said Tag.  English teachers love to tell you about the 1,000 different way to say ‘said’ or now I think they want to make it a million ways.  It is all a bunch of bull. It is made up by English teachers (just like the author’s message). Said is the simplest (and most over looked) word to describe dialogue.  Since I write a lot of official reports at work, I am am trained to write “stated” on most dialogue in my reports.  So I often find my stories are loaded with “stated” instead of “said”. So I have to fix those.  But the best way to break up dialogue is not with “said” but with some type of action.  For example: “I’m writing my blog,” Richard didn’t even look away from what he was doing.  His fingers still clicked on the keyboard. “I’ll take care of the garbage when I am done.”  So where applicable, I avoid using any dialogue tag and use action.

Repeated words.  My characters like to look at each other a lot.  They also love to smile.  So I often over use those two words.  Repeated words are not always bad, sometimes it is required to make a point.  But overuse of any word will be noticed by a reader and can become jarring.  So I look for those.  I also look for repeated phrases and dialogue points through out my story.

What are Beta Readers?

I’m having a heck of a time finding beta readers for Volition Agent. I think this is largely because people don’t understand what a beta reader is.  If you know video games, beta testers get their hands on an early copy (not finished) of a game.  They get to play it and in return they provide feedback to the game developer.  They let them know about glitches in the game, issues with game play, story elements that seem out of place, and an overall opinion of the game.  The developers take that information consider it all and then make changes where they think they should.

Beta readers do the same thing.  They get an early copy of the book.  They read over it, point out mistakes, things that confused them, story issues, grammar mistakes, and provide an overall opinion of the story.  The writer takes all this information and uses it to make the book better.  Just as a developer won’t change everything the testers complain about, an author won’t change everything.  But they will make the story better as a result of the Beta Readers’ input.

Authors need a cross section of beta readers.  I recommend you get a few who don’t read your genre.  I recommend a few that are writers.  Also a few that are editors.  And then a few that are just readers of your genre.  Can you have too many beta readers?  Yes.  If you get overloaded with information it won’t do you any good.  But if you have too few readers, then you won’t get a good sampling for your book.  The number is up to you.  Somewhere between not enough and too much is what I recommend.

Beta Reading shouldn’t be confused with Advanced Reader Copies (ARC).  Typically ARCs are finished.  They are handed out to reviewers in exchange to get review quotes to hopefully use on the book itself. That’s how all those review quotes wind up on the book the day it is published.  Sometimes review quotes are gathered from Beta copies, but that isn’t the purpose of a beta reader.  The beta reader is there to improve the work so the author can put out the best story possible.  Advanced Readers are there so the author can better market their work.

Why self edit again?

If you took all the information from beta readers, and did nothing with it.  Well that would be a complete waste of everyone’s time.  While you might not change everything the beta readers point out.  If the majority of them say that a certain scene doesn’t work.  It would be best if you made it work.  Once you make significant changes you need to review those changes for yourself, the same way you did the first time.  That will involve a whole rereading.  But it is worth it to put out the best book you can.

Once you’ve got the meat together in you sandwich, it’s time for the top piece of bread.  Get a professional editor and have them review it.  Then your sandwich, um I mean story, will be ready for the masses.

Dissolution of Peace Blog Tour

Dissolution of Peace Spring Blog Tour is official!

Book Tour Image

I am going on a blog book tour with Dissolution of Peace.  The book and I will be traveling through the virtual world to attend various blogs to spread the word about my book.  I’m excited about this since it will allow me to share a little bit about me and the book with a new audience.  You can visit these blogs and see interviews, guest posts, and book reviews.  I will be on tour from April 8th until May 13th this year!

Dates:

As I mentioned above I will be traveling blog to blog from April 8th until May 13th.  There are still a number of dates available so if you would like to get in on the tour, it isn’t too late.  There are still several open dates available.  If you want one, just go here (link) and pick a date.  Then scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see “Would you like to host this author on your blog?”  Click the link and sign up.

The folks over at Orangeberry Book Tours are hosting this tour for me.  They’ve taken a ton of the work out of it so I just get to hang out at various blogs.  While I will try to keep the listed dates below updated, for the most current dates and locations visit my Tour page.

While I hope you will go check out each blog host before and after my posts, I will be posting links to blog tour posts throughout the tour on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  So if you don’t follow me there, please do.

Terms:

Book Feature: A quick feature just announcing the basics about Dissolution of Peace

Twitter View: A interview with me over Twitter.  I’ll be off work so I am going to do my best to answer these questions live.

Twitter Blast: A collection of book quotes sent out via Twitter.  Please RT the heck out of those. 🙂

Book Review:  Just that, a review of Dissolution of Peace

Author Interview: An interview with me, posted on their blog.

Guest Post: This is a post I write for their blog, as a guest.

Tour Dates and Locations:

8th April – Book Feature at Peace from Pieces

9th April – Twitter View with OB Book Tours

10th April – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

11th April – Author Interview at Mommy Adventures

12th April – Guest Post at The Bunny’s Review

13th April – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

14th April – Book Feature & Author Interview at The Reading Cat

15th April – Guest Post at Blog-A-Licious Authors 

16th April – Book Feature & Author Interview at Author’s Friend

17th April – Guest Post at Kindle Nook Books

18th April – Book Feature at Paws on Books

19th April – Guest Post & Book Feature at Anya Breton‘s blog

20th April – Book Feature at Book Professor

21st April – Author Interview & Book Feature at Michael R McDuffee‘s blog

22nd April – Guest Post at Books Are Magic

23rd April – Author Interview & Book Review at Pages 2 Pages

24th April – Guest Post  at Disincentive Reviews

25th April – Book Feature at Book Professor

26th April – Guest Post at Quality Reads

27th April – Author Interview at Fantasy Books

28th April – Book Feature at eInk Reviews

29th April – Book Feature at My Love for Books

30th April -Book Feature at Brainy Reads

1st May – Book Feature at Pages to Chapters

2nd May – Book Feature at Living for Books

3rd May – Orangeberry Pick of the Week & Sidebar

3rd May – Guest Post, Author Interview & Book Feature at Talisman Book Publishing

4th May – Book Feature at Gentleman Reads

5th May – Book Feature at Working For Books

6th May – Book Feature at My Love for Books

7th May – Book Feature at Aspiring Book Reviews

8th May – Book Feature at Reading My Addiction

9th May – Book Feature at Imagination in Books

10th May – Orangeberry Book of the Day – Gentleman Reads – Excerpt /

11th May – Author Interview at Up In Smoke

12th May – Guest Post at Richard Stephenson‘s blog

13th May – End of Tour Celebration post! at Flores Factor.

Blog Tour Giveaway!

This book tour will include the largest giveaway I’ve done to date.  There will be some great prizes including: Signed Paperbacks, Free Paperbacks, Free eBooks, and an Amazon Gift card.  This is hosted by Rafflecopter and there are multiple ways to enter.  The giveaway will end on May 19th.  Check back with the giveaway often because as more blogs post, more entries will be possible.  In fact, you get five entries just by entering this GIVEAWAY CODE: “E.S.S. Australia”

You can find the Giveaway on my Facebook page: CLICK HERE FOR A DIRECT LINK

I can’t wait to see you all on the tour!

Novel Announcement: Volition Agent

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly seen a few teasing posts about my next novel project.  I’ve teased with a few hints, surprises, and more.  Well the teasing can come to an end, I have decided to finally let the cat out of the bag.

My next novel, titled Volition Agent, is a fast paced SciFi Thriller set in the near future.  The highly secretive Agency has a Volition program.  They take everyday people who are physically fit and recruit them as Volition Agents.  They are implanted with a control chip so that a highly trained “handler” can control their every action.  If a Agent is captured the loss to the Agency in minimal.  Agents are sent on missions from intelligence gatherings to assassinations.  Volition Agent followed Lexia, one of the agents.

Here is a tentative blurb:

Lexia Santarelli is part of a top secret group of Volition Agents.  These untrained, unremarkable, everyday people are recruited by the agency to be literally controlled by their “handler” through a device implanted in their necks.  It is an exciting life, and despite some of the annoyances, Lexia enjoys it.

That is until the Agency decides to let Lexia take the fall for a mission gone wrong.  Her link with her handler, Lance is severed.  Suddenly Lexia finds herself alone, unprepared, and hunted by the very people she trusted.

With few clues, minimal training, and an unlikely ally Lexia sets out to discover what really happened on that botched assignment.  Determined to set right the wrong she created, nothing can stand in her way.  Not even the Agency itself.

I have some great cover art for this novel, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.  So here it is:

Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons Photography

KIPThe cover art is shot and designed by Kristin Irons (website).  I’ve worked with Kristin before, she designed the logo for Plasma Spyglass Press. Kristin is a very talented photographer and when I explained what I was looking for she said she had an idea.  The next week was a bit of a whirlwind.  Kristin found a model, the very beautiful and talented Joy Anna, to play Lexia in a photo shoot.  She then teased me relentlessly with images from that photo shoot before showing me the image she had in mind for the cover art.  I am a very picky and hard to work with person when it comes to cover art, but she kept taking my ideas and reworking them until we came up with the cover above.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled by it.

Let me tell you why this cover is so special to me.  This is the first time I’ve had anyone “play” one of my character in any way.  Joy Anna, whose modeling pictures I had only seen briefly before this, jumped into this project head first.  I understand they captured a ton of images and I’ve only seen a few of them. As a writer, I was excited to see what might come from this.  I’ve never met, or even talked to Joy Anna but I thank her for her time because the results are absolutely amazing.

A big heartfelt thanks to Joy Anna, Kristin, and her assistant William Harris.  So many folks use stock art, or stock photos to make custom cover art.  But I have a real custom cover for this novel.  Please take a moment to check out the people that helped with this cover, give them a like, follow, or whatever else to show them some support.  Kristin Irons: Facebook, Twitter, Website  Joy Anna: Facebook William Harris: Flickr

This is the first story I have written where it had a title before I ever wrote it.  The whole idea came from hearing the word volition and it’s meaning; the ability to make a choice or decision.  So Volition Agent was an easy enough title for me to come up with.  I think it works well given the themes in this novel.

So when is the release date for Volition Agent?  One hasn’t been set just yet.  But I have a deadline of the first week of June 2013.  So expect to see it no later than this.  I hope to have it out a little sooner, but you can’t rush these things.  I’ll be sending it out for Beta Readers in the first two weeks of April.  Then my editor will get this.  I’ll be working with a new editor this time, since Robert is booked up for the foreseeable future.  As always, watch this blog, my Twitter and Facebook for updates.

I’ll leave you with a few other images from the photo shoot:

Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons

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:

Updates: February 2012

A lot has gone on since I wrote my January Updates in the first part of January.  There are new announcements and progress reports to share.  Let’s get started, shall we.

On February 5th, I finished the first draft of my still untitled novel.  It game is at just over 67,000 words and only took forty seven days start to finish.  As I mentioned before, I didn’t write everyday.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  So, it took 21 days of writing.  I am pleased to be finished, but now the real work starts.  There are many other steps ahead and I will probably start the self editing in March.

I did write a January short story.  I put it out for critiques and the overwhelming response is that it seems unfinished.  I originally wrote it with a quick little idea, thinking a flash piece.  But it seems it needs some expanding.  The problem is, I am not sure where I will go from here.  We will see.

My other two short stories are still out with various markets.  I hope to hear back on both of them soon.  Of course I will still announce their sales on Twitter and Facebook.

Daddy is Tired,  the children’s picture book, is still waiting on the illustrator.  So, unfortunately there is no cover art to show you yet.  I also don’t think a March release will happen either.  The lead time from the publisher is lengthy.  So, perhaps April.  The illustrator has told me she will be staying up late tomorrow and hopes to finish then.  Official release dates will be announced as soon as I have them.

I’ve done a lot of reading since I finished Shining in Crimson by Robert S. Wilson.  I read Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card and The NanoTech Murders by Lee Gimenez (review here).  Right now I am reading I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.  I know it is amazing that I have not read this book yet, not sure why I never got to it but I am reading it now.  Once I finish that, I will have to head back to the book store.

I’m planning a move any day now.  I plan to move back to Vacaville, my hometown here in California.  I’m living just up the road in a neighboring city right now.  We moved here for cheaper rent, but we miss home (even with it being so close) and we hope to move before March 1st.  But, that may not be possible.  It all depends on if we hear back from the applications we have put in.

Well, that’s the updates for February.  We’ll have to touch base on these again in March.  Hopefully then I will have release dates and other fun stuff to share.

Updates: January 2012

Well, in my post “Distractions” I talked about setting a writing goal.  Part of that commitment to writing more was to share the journey with you.  So, once a month, I am going to give you some updates on how my writing has gone.  I’ll also touch on some of the other projects I have going.

First lets talk about writing.   I made a commitment that I would try to write 1,000 words a day.  Honestly there have been a few days where I didn’t write at all (six days actually).  But considering we had the Holidays in that time, I am okay with that.  However, there were a lot of days were I wrote a lot.  I even had some great days, this past Friday I almost got 10,000 words.  On the days I wrote I averaged over 2,000 words.    I’ve been posting my daily word counts on Twitter (when I write).   I have written just over 38,000 words.

None of this counts the writing I do here.  While I love getting the blog to your guys.  I even had a very successful post on self-publishing.  But, this word count has gone directly into my novel.  You may remember I have set a goal of one short story a month and one novel a year.  I haven’t thought of a short story for January yet, so I may be a little behind on that.  But, the novel is coming along well.

I have a children’s book my oldest son (he was five when we wrote it, six now) and I wrote together.  The status on it’s publication is still a bit in limbo.  I have an illustrator working on the drawings.  The backgrounds are all done, and the characters have slowly been put in the scenes.  But, the next part is all the coloring.  She just had a baby, so of course that slows things down.  Fingers crossed for a March release, but I haven’t set any dates yet.  It is the hope that by the time I do the Updates for February I can show you the cover art and announce an official release date.

I think those of you with kids will enjoy it, and likely relate with it.   It also embodies the joy of working on a project with your own child and sharing in an art you both can enjoy.  In any case, “Daddy is Tired” will be a joy to read for parents and young children learning to read.

I still have two short storied for 2011 out at different markets.  They will make their rounds until they are published.  I will of course announce that right away on both Twitter and Facebook.  Once I start turning out short stories monthly, I will be really glad to Duotrope to help track where they all are.

As far as my reading goes, it has been put on hold with the holidays.  I am currently reading the novel Shining in Crimson.  As some of you know I read this when it was still a draft to help Robert S. Wilson with my thoughts on the novel.  I am excited about reading the completed work, and have found he left in all the good parts (so far).   I don’t have a novel on this list for once I am done reading this one.  So, a trip to the book store may be in my future.  Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card is set to release in a few days, that will certainly be on my list.  You can always follow what I am reading by becoming a fan on Goodreads.

I still get my daily dose of short fiction from Daily Science Fiction.  But, I am way behind on my issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.  I haven’t even opened the Nov/Dec issue and the Jan/Feb should be coming any day.  Perhaps I will take a break from novels and catch up on those.  We will see.

My short story “Death Watch” has been nominated for two awards in 2011.  I am very please with this.  First, of all this is my very first published short story.  It was only the second one I had ever written and the first one considered Flash Fiction (under 1,000 words).  You can still read it at Liquid Imagination by clicking here.

The first nomination it got was for the Micro Awards.  The announcement on that won’t come until the very end of February.  It will be judged by a panel of judges and we will see how it does.

The second nomination came as a complete surprise.  It was nominated in the Preditors and Editors 2011 Readers poll.  There are a lot of good works there.  I was reading and voting through the categories when I got to Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories.  And there was “Death Watch” listed.  I about jumped out of my seat.  I was honored to find that I was even nominated.

Because it is a poll, it is done based on voting.  I am even more pleased to announce it has been in first and second place for a good portion of the polling.  Polling ends January 10th.  Please, go place a vote here.  It only takes a minute and I would appreciate it.

I think the last thing I will bring up isn’t directly related to writing.  I used to own a business, and I am dying to get back into owning one again.  I have been contemplating many different things, but another Security Company is not one of them.  I have been in the industry for a while, but the big companies really have locked the start ups out of the business.  Perhaps if I had clients set before I got started, I might consider it.

So that is the updates for you this month.  I will continue to post my weekly blog posts on a variety of topics.  Please subscribe to my blog to receive email updates on when I post.

 

Self Publishing

Should I Self Publish?

I get at least one email a week asking me about self publishing.  Some are frustrated with the submit and reject cycle.  Others feel it might bring them more money.  And others think it may bring in more readers.  Most of all everyone wants to know if they will be successful if they self publish.

I don’t know much about self publishing because I have never done it.  So I have asked other writers to completed a survey on the matter.  I think a survey offers the best advise on whether or not you will be successful.  Success is a self defined quality.  You can look at these survey results and view them with your own view on success.  For example if selling 10 copies is successful to you, then look at the percentage of people who have sold more then 10 copes.  Hopefully this helps.

My friend and talented Author, Robert S. Wilson (@EmpireOfBloodRW) will be helping me as I write this.  Robert has self published a number of works, and was already kind enough to point out a forgotten company in this survey (more on that later).  I feel he has been successful in his endeavors to self publish, and he certainly has worked hard to get the success he has had.

In this blog, I will give you the results on the survey.  The survey results are separated into several categories.  At the end, I will provide my thoughts on the results.  I will give you my insights as an author who hasn’t self published, but is considering the idea.  Then, Robert will give you his thoughts.  He can give you some insights as an author who has self published.

The Respondents:

Two hundred and fifty nine (259) people completed this survey.  This does not count all the people who started the survey, but where unable to qualify based on their answers.  I posted links on my Google+, the Hatrack Writers Group, My Twitter, and My Facebook.  From there it was circulated by fellow authors.  Here is some information about the people who responded to the survey:

94% write fiction, the other 6% did not.  Those 6% did not finish the rest of the survey, as my concern was with fiction Authors.

51% where Male and 49% were female

78% where from the US, 6% Canada, 9% UK, and 7% where from someplace else.  Those places include: New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, Slovenia, and Bosnia

One person was under 13 years old and did not continue in the survey.  The rest breakdown in the following age groups:  2% were 18-20, 18% 21-29, 24% 30-39, 25% 40-49, 25% 50-59, and 6% where over 60.

89% write in English, 4% in Spanish, 2% French, 1% German

100% write primarily in English

84% spoke English, 4% Spanish 2% French, 3%German, 1% Japanese

94% spoke primarily in English

About the Writers:

Please note this was not exclusive to Self Published but rather information for both self published and “traditional” published authors.

The Genres broke down as followed (survey takers could select multiple selections):

Horror – 16%

Science Fiction – 18%

Thrillers – 11%

Fantasy – 21%

Romance -8%

Children’s Picture Books – 3%

Young Adult – 10%

Literary Fiction – 5%

Westerns – 1%

Other – 8%

68% had works published, 26% have not, and 6% were accepted but waiting publication

10% had 1 work published, 25% had2-3 published, 11% had 4-5, 4% had 6-7, 2% had 8-9 and 14% had 10+

10% had flash works published, 31% had short works published, 13% had Novella works published, 4% novelette length, and 24% Novels

How were your works published:

Short stories, including Novelette, Novella, Short, and Flash broke down as follows:

26% None published

7% Pro Rate Markets (6+ cents per word)

11% Semi Pro Rate (1-5 cents per word)

12% Token Markets (less then 1 cent per word)

23% Non Paying Markets (no monetary payement)

20% Self Published

Novels broke down as follows:

55% None published

5% Professional Publishing Houses (Random House, Orbit Books, and other big publishers)

11% Independent Publishing Houses (Regional or “small” publishers)

30% Self Published

My Thoughts:

I was surprised at how high the Self Publishing number where.  This was publicized as a “Survey on Self Publishing”  but I think it still shows a trend that moves towards self publishing.  Only those who marked self published in either of the last two questions continued with the survey.  Roughly 48% of the people who started this survey were Self Published (126 people).  That’s nearly half, which is surprising.

Robert’s Thoughts:

I’m not at all surprised by the percentage of people who have self-published. More and more people are self-publishing all the time. Writers are finding that they can find an audience by self-publishing whereas before they were spending so much time submitting their stories/novels and getting rejected and not reaching an audience at all. Now, whether this is a good or bad thing depends on many factors. I will be posting a blog post of my own for a more indepth look at that.

Self Publishing Results

Now I am sure you want to know what people had to say about Self Publishing.  There were a 126 people who continued to this section of the survey.  Here are the survey results:

How many works have you self Published:

26% – 1, 10% -2, 23% – 3, 6% – 4, 3%- 5, 6% – 6, 10% – 7, 6% – 8, 3%- 9, and 6%- 10 or more

Novelette or Shorter Break down.

26% had not self published any short works

29% said 1, 16% 2, 6%-3, 13% – 4, 3% – 6, and 3% said 10 or more.  5, 8, and 9 had 0%

Novel Break Down:

29% said they had not self published any novels

39% said one, 13% said 2, 6% said 3, 10% said 7, and 3% said 10 or more.  The others had 0% (4, 5, 6, 8, 9)

How they self published:

On a website, PDF or other electronic means 6%

Paperback and/or Hardcover 3%

Anthologies 3%

E-Reader Formats (all types) 26%

Both Paperback and/or Hardcover 38%

Multiple formats listed above: 23%

And which of these resulted in the most readers?

10% only used one format

13% Paperback

3% Hardcover

74% E-Reader

My Thoughts:

Clearly e-Readers have opened the door to new Authors and the ability for them to self publish their works.  From what I have seen, getting your works out in an e-reader format is easy, fast, and relatively cheap.  This means you can list your work for a better price and attract more readers that way (more on that later).  Perhaps I am the only one who doesn’t own an e-reader.

Robert’s Thoughts:

I agree with you on this one, Richard. Not to mention this data is completely consistent with what I’ve already seen with my own work and with other self-published authors I know. I have sold very little paper copies of my books. Even with setting them at low prices for print books. It really comes down to the fact that you really can price really low with ebooks and readers are much more likely to take a chance on an unknown if they don’t have to pay much for their work.

But how many works are selling when you self publish?

On Combined Total copies (or downloads) for all works was:

6% said under 10

6% said 11-50

13% said 50-99

6% said 100-199

3% said 200-299

3% said 300-399

6% said 400-499

3% said 500-749

6% said 750-999

13% said 1000-1999

3% said 2000 –  2999

0% said 3000-3999

0% said 4000-4999

13% said 5000-9999

16% said 10000+

The work that gave them the most copies sold (downloads or prints):

6% said under 10

10% said 11-50

13% said 50-99

10% said 100-199

10% said 200-299

6% said 300-399

3% said 400-499

0% said 500-749

6% said 750-999

13% said 1000-1999

0% said 2000 –  2999

3% said 3000-3999

0% said 4000-4999

6% said 5000-9999

13% said 10000+

My Thoughts:

Well really it means that the range is vast.  There is no clear dominate number of copies you can expect when you self publish.  It could very depending on how the work was promoted (more on that later).  I don’t think this is a far cry from Traditional Publishing.  They don’t really know how many copies they will sell of your book.  This is why they can be so touchy about what they publish.  You might get an advance if you go with traditional publishing, that would be the big difference.  Of course, that is if you even get accepted.

Robert’s Thoughts:

This data really does come 100% down to good promotion. But don’t let that statement fool you. Good promotion isn’t just getting the word out to readers who will like your work. Having a good product is a large part of promotion in and of itself. If you have a story that no one likes that can be the worst promotion you could ever have. The more the right market(s) for your work finds it, the more likely that work is to sell. Simple as that. The cover, description, title, story, and how you present all these things to your market are all factors that can make or break a self-published work just the same as a traditionally published work. Difference is, you’re SELF-publishing. You have to learn and execute the promotion yourSELF!

Self Publishing Companies

I forgot to to list Kindle Direct Publishing, however my survey responders didn’t forget.  They listed it in Other so many times.  I blame ignorance, I thought Createspace and KDP were the same thing.  Oops, consider me educated.

Published themselves (on their own website or printer) 11%

Createspace 21%

lulu 6%

Smashwords 40%

Kindle Direct Publishing (write in) 20%

Pubit (Write in) 1%

Other write ins 1%

Which Company did they like best:

19% said doing it themselves

23% said Createspace

3% said Lulu

22% said Smashwords

22% said Kindle Direct Publishing (Write in)

2% said Pubit (Write in)

9% listed other companies (write in)

My Thoughts

Clearly I am living under a rock to have not heard of KDP for one.  But, it seems Smashwords is very popular with 40% of survey takers using it.  I think the results would have shown a higher KDP rating had it been included, especially with how well Amazon does in the company ratings (see Rating Below).  I suppose that it is because it offers a diverse set of formats, but Createspace and KDP are also very popular among the survey takers.  When it comes to a favorite choice all three are nearly equal in popularity.  You may want to take a look at the company rating before choosing one.  Of course, it will also depend on you needs too.

Robert’s Thoughts

Honestly, Richard, when I took the survey, I didn’t know that you had made it. I thought you were just passing it along. If I had known, I would have contacted you asap and said, “Woah, you’re forgetting the biggest chunk of the market!” Because in my experience KDP really does have the self-publishing ereader market cornered. More authors may be using Smashwords, though I highly doubt those results would be the same if you were to manage to get a larger study pool, but more books are sold to a staggering degree through KDP than on Smashwords. Every self-published author I’ve spoken with and my own results both reflect that. We’re talking something like a 96/4 or higher ratio. That’s a significant difference. It’s as simple as this: MORE READERS BUY FROM AMAZON.

Promotions:

Yea, that’s right.  One of the biggest differences I see between using a Publishing House and Self Publishing is promotion.  You are in charge of getting your work out to the people.  Here are some of what the Survey Takers used:

1% had other works published traditionally

9% used promotional pricing (temporary discount prices)

8% low pricing (pricing the book low permanently)

3% said making the book free (permanently)

11% said they promoted on their Facebook Site

4% said they promoted on their Google+

10% said they promoted on their Twitter

10% said they promoted on their website

12% provided free copies for reviewers (6% for professional reviews and 6% for amateur reviews)

6% provided free copies to try and generate word of mouth

8% posted on sites designed to promote independent authors

5% did giveaways or contests

3% did paid advertising on Social Meda

0% (1 taker) did paid advertising in literary magazines

1% uses other online advertising (paid)

3% did book signing events

1% did booths at fairs or events

3% created a book trailer

3% used Youtube videos

2% listed other means

What way worked the best for them?

32% didn’t keep track

3% had other works published traditionally

3% used promotional pricing (temporary discount prices)

3% low pricing (pricing the book low permanently)

0% said making the book free (permanently)

13% said they promoted on their Facebook Site

6% said they promoted on their Twitter

6% said they promoted on their website

6% posted on sites designed to promote independent authors

6% said book signing events

6% listed other means

I removed the answers that got no votes.

How much did you pay for advertising?

45% said $0

48% said $1-$100

6% said up to $500

No 0ne said more.

Will paying more get you more?

3% said yes

35% said no

61% said they were not sure.

Will promoting one work get more readers for all your works?

13% said Yes and they wouldn’t have to promote the other works

58% said Yes but they should still promote the other works too.

3% said No

26% said they were not sure.

My Thoughts:

First of all, KEEP TRACK OF WHAT WORKS!  If you are not keeping track of what advertising worked, you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.  This can mean wasted money and wasted time.  I was really surprised how little use social media had.  It is 100% free and takes little or no time.  The same goes for your website.  Sure, websites can take some time, but they are worth the effort.  I get anywhere from 10-100 new visitors to this site a day.  That’s new visitors that have not ever been here before.  That’s a lot of people I can promote my new writings with.

I think Authors forget that writing is a business too (I know I do).  And, for better and worse,  when you self publish you take the whole business aspect on alone.  Business is tough work, I owned one.  Keep track of what is working.  Use different codes for certain coupons so you can track what worked.  Offer 10% off if they mention a certain ad.  For example you might post exclusively on Facebook a coupon code that gives 10% off to Facebook Followers.  Then a little later cancel that coupon and post another one for 10% off to Twitter Followers.  Perhaps you make signed copies only available direct from your site.  Perhaps all your Giveaway contestants get a code for a discount.  This way you can track who heard about you from where.  If the Giveaway didn’t work, you won’t waste the time next time.  But if the Facebook ad was a huge success you may want to run one once a month.

Advertising is hard work.  I had a hell of a time with it in my business.  I learned a lot.  Perhaps when I get done with my first novel, I will blog about what advertising I used and how well it is working.

Robert’s Thoughts

Unfortunately, Richard, it’s just not that simple. You can’t give away coupons on Amazon. The only site you can really do that with is Smashwords and unfortunately, MOST READERS DON’T BUY FROM SMASHWORDS. Now, I wish that weren’t true. Smashwords is a great company for authors and publishers. But it just doesn’t get the commercial traffic that Amazon does. And any little thing you do can make a difference in sales. Things other people or things that the different distributors like Amazon, Lulu, Smashwords do can make a difference and you won’t even know it. There’s no real clear way to find out for sure as far as I know. It’s like blind voodoo. So, your best bet is to just do everything you can. If you’re doing something and sales go up, keep it up. If after a while of doing that sales go back down try something new. It’s a crazy game of cat and mouse, but if you want to sell more books, it’s what you have to do.

One thing that does work tried and true is to have an online presence and be in touch with possible readers. They will respond to you and you will meet new friends and everyone wins all around. They find new books to read, meet a new friend, you sell books, and also meet some great people as well. You don’t have to be terribly charismatic, just be yourself. Treat your readers as your friends because frankly. The people who like your work are more likely to be the kind of people you can be real friends with.

My Reply:

It is unfortunate that there is not better tracking for these self publishing solutions.  But what Robert describes is still tracking of some sort.  It is certainly better then guessing.  When I launch my first advertising campaign for my son’s Children’s Book (which will be self published this year).  I will post a blog on how I tracked what was working and what wasn’t.  Advertising and publicity is something I have worked with for some time, so I am a bit excited to see how I can apply it to this industry.

Pricing:

How much is your writing worth?  Well, I would say mine is worth a lot more then I would probably realistically sell it for.  Here is what the Survey takers had to say:

What prices have you priced your e-books at?

2% didn’t have any ebooks

19% said Free

27% said $1 or less

37% said $1.01-$2.99

14% said $3.00-$4.99

2% said $5.99-$9.99

What they thought was the best price of an e-book:

2% didn’t have any ebooks

0% said Free

10% said $1 or less

68% said $1.01-$2.99

19% said $3.00-$4.99

3% said $5.99-$9.99

What prices have you priced your Paper Copy Books?

28% didn’t have any paper copies

3% said $3-$4.99

23% said $5-9.99

28% said $10-$14.99

10% said $15-$19.99

10% said $20+

What did they think the best price was for paper copy books?

28% didn’t have any paper copies

3% said $3-$4.99

46% said $5-9.99

23% said $10-$14.99

0% said $15-$19.99

0% said $20+

How important is pricing to the self published Author?

Very Important – 71%

Somewhat Important – 28%

Neutral – 3%

Both Unimportant Categories received no votes.

My Thoughts

I have to say I agree with what I see here.  I have a huge problem with Kindle e-book pricing even from the big name Authors.  I will save that for another time.  The prices Self Published Authors are setting seems to be reasonable.  I don’t agree with making your book free to all forever.  A limited discount maybe, but give yourself some credit.  Surely your work is worth more then $0.  Don’t go crazy either, you are a new author and a self published author.  Consider how much you would be willing to pay for a work put out by an author you don’t know?  For me, I like taking a chance on new authors both self published and published by the Publishing Houses.  I have rarely been disappointed.  But I put little value on an e-book, therefore I am not likely to spend more then $3 on an author I haven’t hear of.  That’s me.

Robert’s Thoughts

Most self-publishers and independent publishers are competitive enough to price reasonably if not all out low. Most of the ebooks you find online for outrageous prices are the big publishers trying to push people into buying paper copies. You see they win either way: People want to read the authors they’ve come to know and love and now they either have to continue reading paper copies and not move on to an ereader or they have to start paying more for ecopies. That’s what these larger publishers are trying to do. So, either way, they win as long as people are willing to pay these outrageous prices. The best way to stop it is to NOT PAY SUCH RIDICULOUS PRICES. And one free work can be a great promotion for your other works. It’s all in how you do it. If you have a series, I could be great to have the first work free and then when the readers are done and want to read more in the series they are likely to buy your second and third and so on in your series. Of course there’s also a nice simple short story that just shows your skills. It may seem like a big loss to give one of your best works away for free, but when someone reads one of your best works and is impressed by it, they’re more likely to buy other works by you.

Companies to Use:

The last part of the survey was designed to give people an idea what companies work well with self published Authors.  Not just for publishing but for the all around needs of the author.  I have ranked them based on the survey responses.  For each vote in a certain catagory I assigned them points.  Then I divided the points by total survey takers, and I ranked them Highest to Lowest:

Companies in terms of Ease of Use (out of 4):

1. Twitter (3.46)

2. Facebook (3.39)

3. Amazon (3.22)

4. Blogspot (3.14)

5. WordPress (2.94)

6. Smashwords (2.88)

7. Google+ (2.87)

8. Barnes and Noble (2.7)

9. Lulu (2.67)

10. Createspace (2.63)

11. Goodreads (2.35)

12. Live Journal (2.29)

Companies rated on their ability to promote Self Published Authors (out of 4):

1. Twitter (3.17)

2. Facebook (3.08)

3. Goodreads (2.7)

4. Amazon (2.65)

5. Google+ (2.57)

6. Createspace (2.54)

7. Blogspot (2.5)

8. Smashwords (2.44)

9. WordPress (2.38)

10. Barnes and Noble (2.05)

11. Live Journal (1.76)

12. Lulu (1.71)

Companies Rates on Ability to Generate readers (out of 4)

1. Facebook (2.92)

2. Amazon (2.89)

3. Twitter (2.88)

4. Goodreads (2.55)

5. Google+ (2.5)

7. Blogspot (2.43)

8. Tied Smashwords and WordPress (2.29 each)

10. Barnes and Noble (2.19)

11. Live Journal (1.71)

12. Lulu (1.14)

How likely are you to recommend these companies to other Self Publishers (out of 5)

1. Amazon (4.63)

2. Facebook (4.26)

3. Tied Smashwords and Twitter (4.19 each)

5. Goodreads (3.82)

6. Barnes and Noble (3.37)

7. Createspace (3.22)

8. Google+ (2.96)

9. WordPress (2.74)

10. Blogspot (2.26)

11. Lulu (2.15)

12. Live Journal (2)

Companies rated based on ability in the e-reader market (out of 3)

1. Amazon (2.85)

2. Smashwords (2.28)

3. Barnes and Noble (2.27)

4. Tied Createspace and Lulu (1 each)

Companies rated based on ability in the paper market (out of 3)

1. Createspace (2.64)

2. Amazon (2.31)

3. Barnes and Noble (2.1)

4. Lulu (1.88)

5. Smashwords (0.57)

My Thoughts

These are people’s opinions on these companies from the perspective of being a self published Author.  Take it as that.  You may find you like one of these companies that was low rated here.  But, this might give you a starting point if you are not sure where to check out first.  I was surprised, as I expected Createspace and/or Lulu to dominate these numbers.   Clearly I was mistaken.  If print is what you want you might consider Createspace, but when it comes to the e-reader market Amazon and Smashwords seem to rate the highest.

When it comes to social media, Twitter seems to be the preference.  I can’t say I am surprised.  I have a lot more followers on Twitter then any where else.  I have seen a lot of writers say how much they like Google+, though I will be the first to admit I think it is useless.  Facebook is popular seems to rank well too.

If you like to blog, clearly Live Journal is not a good choice.  However WordPress and Blogspot seem to be equally popular.  It seems to be true of the Authors I know.  I would guess that about 50% of them use either site.  I picked WordPress.  It works for what I need and I find it really easy to use.  It allows the custom content I want, and in the future I can import/merge this blog with my own website.

In the end, the company you use depends on what you need and want.  Read all the Terms of Service/Use.  I hope this information will at least shorten your trial and error routine.  Check them all out.  Otherwise you might miss Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Robert’s Thoughts

I self-published my first work in July of 2011. In the not even six months since then, I’ve gathered a great deal of my own sales data. And I’m here to tell you Ereaders are the future of books. Especially for self-published books. There are thousands if not millions of readers out there looking for their next favorite indie author.

I do find myself surprised on the social media front. I’ve found Facebook to be much more helpful for me. Or it could be that I’m still new to Twitter and haven’t put enough into using it to my advantage.

I use blogspot myself and have enjoyed that it is already connected with my Google account and is very easy to use and maintain. And with being free and having almost all the options you would have with a standard website, it works great for most everything I need in a website. Now, if only I could get it to make blog posts for me as I seem to neglect it all too often.

Overall as Richard has said already, your mileage may vary. It’s best to cover all the avenues you can. Clearly, you’re not likely to have multiple blogs but if you’re planning on self-publishing definitely cover all your distribution options and all the social media and free promotional options you can make time for. Because in the end what works best for one person may differ proportionately to another. So, in order to reach the most possible readers you should highly consider putting your work out at in all possible venues and in all possible formats and of course have an online presence in all the different social media sites. These thing can only add to your chance of becoming a successful self-published author.

What does this all mean?

Well it’s the results of a survey on self publishing, with the thoughts of two authors.  I hope you find this a helpful insight if you are planning to start, or even continue, in self publishing.  It has certainly shined some light on my own ideas in self publishing.  It is a viable means, and slowly the negative perception of self published works has dissolved away.

I am a paper book lover, but you can’t deny that e-readers have opened the door to the self published author.  The ability to reach readers worldwide, at a low cost, has allowed talented authors to emerge.  These are talented authors who have made the choice to control the process of their writing from creation to sale.  Perhaps that is more difficult when compared to waiting for an editor at a publishing house.  At the least I would say it is equally challenging.

If you found this helpful feel free to share it, re-blog it, or post it on your social media site of choice.  Thank you to all the survey takers and thank you to Robert Wilson for sharing his insights.

About the Authors:

Richard Flores IV

Richard is an author of Speculative Fiction who lives in California.  He fits his writing time around being a father of three young boys and a husband to his beautiful wife.  He has been published in Cygnus Journal of Speculative Fiction and Liquid Imagination.  He has a Children’s Picture Book, that he wrote with his oldest son, set to be released in early 2012.  For more information on Richard Flores IV, you can find him online at https://floresfactor.wordpress.com/.  You can also find him on Twitter @Richard_Flores4

Robert S. Wilson

Robert S. Wilson is the author of the Kindle bestseller The Quiet: A Novella and the critically acclaimed Shining in Crimson: Empire of Blood Book One as well as co-editor for Horror For Good: A Charitable Anthology, an anthology which includes stories by international bestselling authors and horror legends. All proceeds from Horror For Good will go toward amfAR, an international AIDS research foundation.  For more information on Robert S. Wilson, you can find him online at http://shiningincrimson.blogspot.com/.  You can also find him on Twitter @EmpireOfBloodRW

Robert lives in Smyrna, Tennessee with his wife and two children while he attempts to make time for everything and utterly fails constantly.

Dream Job: The process of crafting an idea into a story.

My story “Dream Job” in Cygnus Journal of Speculative Fiction, which you can read for free here, was the first short story I had written since High School.  And, the first thing I ever wrote with the intentions of having it published.  So now that it is out for the public to read, I felt I needed to say a bit about it.  After all, there is a lot to be said for it.

I talk a lot about ideas, you can read my post about them.  I had made up my mind I wanted to be a published writer, and I though it would be best to start with a short story.  The real problem was, I couldn’t come up with a good idea.  Well, scratch that, I had ideas but I was having trouble developing them into anything.  Finally, the idea hit me in a nightmare.

If you have read the story, you know this line (if not please go read it):

“An icy cold began to rush over her body, slowly flooding around her arm and across her body. She
began to gasp for air in panic as she realized the cold-flowing blood was reaching her heart.”

That was my dream.  One line.  Thirty-seven words out of about 4,600 words.  I had a dream that someone was in the room, I was injected, and a cool oozing feeling flowed towards my chest.  And, like Samantha, I woke up feeling the cold.  It scared the shit out of me.  So much so, that I thought about it for the whole night (I worked graveyard shift at the time).

I started to wonder what might cause that feeling, which had long since passed.  I wondered how I remembered it so clearly and how would something from the dream world transfer so easily to the waking world.  Then, but the end of my day, I wondered how I could make this into a story.

The first draft of Dream Job was a disaster.  Though when I wrote it, I thought I was a master of the craft.  I posted it for my writer’s group, Hatrack River, which I had just joined.  And, they very nicely told me that my intro was cliche.  They even referred me to The Turkey City Lexicon, a must read of new writers (which I re-read all the time). I had used the “White Room Syndrome” opening… ouch.

I realized I needed a complete rewrite of the opening lines (also known as the hook).  When I did that, it took the story in a different direction (although it was was along the same plot points), and thus my second draft was a total rewrite.

I posted the new Opening for my group to read.  They told me it was still missing something.  There was not much for readers to grab on to.  I was frustrated because I thought I was was writing gold, and they were not getting it.  Of course, they were right. After I looked things over again.  I went for a third rewrite of the opening lines.

Now, this third one was troublesome to come up with.  I spent a week mulling over different openings.  And then it hit me.  My dream was so emotional to me because it happened in my own bed.  My own house.  This was my house, my bed, and my room and it was invaded by this nightmare.

BINGO!

So I put Samantha at her home, and hat it invaded.  Government Agents had always been a part of the plot, so naturally they were the invaders.  The story took a third complete rewrite, very different from the first and second drafts.  Then I posted it again on my writers forum.  I don’t know if my forum LOVED IT, but they certainly liked it.

From there it was just a few minor tweeks for Grammar (ugh… grammar cops), a bit of tightening up based on suggestions from fellow writers, and then it was out for submission.  Shortly after submitting it, I got the idea for “Death Watch” and started this process all over again.  “Death Watch” was accepted first (12 days before its big brother).

From the time I started writing until “Dream Job” went for its first submission was almost exactly two months (59 days).  From first submission to acceptance was just over five months.  I am proud of it, and to see it in print is a great thing.

The title may seem obvious to you after reading it (sorry no spoilers here, just go read it).  But, for me it was also a bit of an inside story too.  After all, writing is one of my dream jobs.  This being the first thing I wrote, it only seemed fitting.

So please, head over to Smashwords and download your free copy of Cygnus Journal of Speculative Fiction.  Read it and review it on Goodreads.  And on the topic of Goodreads, check out my Author page and become a fan.

As always your comments are welcome.