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February 2018 Update

Hello everyone. I haven’t updated the blog since December, and I will now make an attempt to send you an update of what’s going on every month in my writerverse. Another way to get this information, albeit in slicker, glossier form, is to sign up for my newsletter, which I also hope to get to you every month. You can do this on the front page of my website. Just scroll down a little.

Unreliable Narrator slinks will also continue to be posted on the website.

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First, I want to say that The Vessel of Ra is now available at local bookshops and Barnes and Noble. Ask for it by name. I’ll be working on getting around to some shops as soon as I can. I’m booked up through April right now, but we’re working on appearances. We’re also in the Baker and Taylor catalogue, so we can get the book into schools and libraries (and school libraries.)

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So, where the hell have you been, you might ask. You might remember in December I suggested the best way for me to move forward was to write another book, so I have diligently been finishing The Pawn of Isis, which is with beta readers right now. I wanted to take a moment to say yes, I did that. I’m working on finishing Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science now, which is about half way through its first draft. I can say writing is progressing well, and I’ve gotten in the habit of laying down words every day.

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I would like to mention I have a story appearing in the Abandoned Places Anthology coming out March 8th from Shohola Press. You can see details about that on the front page of the website. My entry there is “Mark Twain’s Daughter” which was originally published in Cucurbital 3. Big doings about that. Appearances and stuff. Read on.

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This month, I’m going to be reading at my college, Kirkwood, with two other science fiction and fantasy authors, Dennis Green and Jed Quinn. If you’re local, you can come and hear us in Cedar Rapids on the main campus in Ballantyne auditorium, from 11:15-12:10. The reading is free and open to the public, and all of us will have books available for purchase after the event. I’ll be reading from The Vessel of Ra.

In March, I’m heading for California. I will be with the Shohola Press crew at Fogcon in Walnut Creek. Several of us will be reading Saturday March 10th from 8-9:15 pm. You do need to be part of the con to attend. There are also plans to do a reading at a local bookstore. I’ll throw those details down here as soon as I get them, but it’s going to be Monday, March 12th at Book Passage in San Francisco at 6 pm. On this trip I’ll be bringing along some Vessel of Ra swag. Hope to see you there.

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So, that’s where we are. Next month I’ll chat a little about the trip, and where we’re at with Abigail Rath.

Game Plan 2018

I’ve been reading some books about marketing lately, because I am attempting to become more savvy in that direction. One of the books Mike Stop Continues suggested to me for a variety of reasons was 10 Step Self Publishing Boot Camp: The Survival Guide for Launching Your First Novel. It was a good book with a lot of material in it not only for the self-published, but my biggest takeaway from the book was the concept of big levers and small levers.

Levers are essentially Quinn’s analogies to what you can do to leverage sales of your book. I bet you’ll never guess what the biggest lever was. It was…

WRITE ANOTHER BOOK

Yes. Okay. There are many small levers too. Connections are important. Social media is important. Advertising is important. But note, the most important thing.

So, that might explain why I haven’t been posting here quite so much…:D

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With this in mind, I have been thinking about my approach to publishing. Some time ago, I decided my focus was to try to move forward, and my goal was to get an agent. Long time readers might remember my three-pronged attack: publish short stories, send out a novel, and ultimately self-publish something. Happily, I met that goal even though I never made it to the self-publish stage.

My current goals are working on two manuscripts: the sequel to The Vessel of Ra, called The Pawn of Isis, and working on a new middle grade book, Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science. I am deep into the second rewrite of Pawn, and half way through the first draft of Mad Science. My word count for the year, including revisions of Vessel a couple of short stories and a start on a YA Troll novel has been about 100K, my most productive year ever.

What does 2018 hold? I can tell you already that I have a short story appearing in a collection that a couple of friends are putting together as the first endeavor in their small press. It has always been a life goal to share a table of contents with Edgar Allen Poe, and they are going to make it a reality.

And for those of you who have been waiting for my werewolf Southern Iowa novella patiently, Paper Golem tells me that The Ground is Full of Teeth is going to be published in the first half of the year as part of Alembical 3. So that’s good news.

My new angle of attack will be three-pronged again. I will be giving up writing short stories. I will continue writing The Klaereon Scroll Series, as I want these books to all come out eventually. Abigail Rath will also be finished. If I can find the time, I would also like to write something for readers to access: maybe some Klaereon novellas, or a serial, something to tide them over during the wait for publication. Obviously, the two manuscripts are happening first.

So, I’m going to predominantly focus on the large lever. I will write here occasionally, post and update about events going on, and continue to have a blast with the other Unreliable Narrators. And I must admit that I am spending more time in real time with dear friends and hitting the gym and cooking well, getting in shape. Honestly, the only thing I would like is more devoted writing time and more energy left over when I have finished my professorial work for the day, but I hope getting into shape will help with some of that.

And…this is as close to New Year’s resolutions as you might get.

Post 17: Learning about Book Catalogs

One of the interesting things that all authors need to think about is the availability of their books for a variety of distribution purposes. Since my book was published in September, I have learned a great deal about how books are distributed in places like libraries and book stores, and have thought a lot about balancing the issues of profit over exposure. While I can safely say this information is very 101, still I wish I’d had this knowledge a little earlier in the process of organizing my book tours and appearances, as it would have been very helpful. Every author’s situation has a few variables, so I’m just gonna walk you through a few details and not make any recommendations.

Createspace: Amazon’s print appendage, CreateSpace is a great place to order books that are posted electronically on Amazon, and have been published by Amazon. Some small presses and self-pubbed authors choose CreateSpace because they feel it is the easiest option for them regarding convenience and set up. A disadvantage of using CreateSpace is that most bookstores, indie and big box, see Amazon as competition. You can print books via CreateSpace and sell them as consignments in bookstores, but bookstores will not order them for you for signings or events.

Ingram: Many small presses and most large publishers are in the Ingram catalog. Bookstores of all stripes order from Ingram for signings and events. Self-pub authors can also use Ingram for printing instead of CreateSpace through various options.

Baker and Taylor: Libraries order books through the Baker and Taylor catalog. If you want a book to be available at public institutions or in schools, this is a catalog you want to be in.

Obviously, you can be listed in more than one catalog. I am currently available via CreateSpace, and I will be available in Ingram.

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Now, to talk a little shop regarding royalties and profits. One of the things my publisher does is to allow me to purchase printed books at a reduced rate, and I see fifty percent of the profit from my books. However, these books do not apply toward my royalties. Further, unless a bookstore orders my book through the Ingram catalog, my book is sold on commission, reducing my profit substantially. It seems that the best venue for CreateSpace authors to sell might not be bookstores, but rather conventions and book events. In these scenarios, my publisher and I benefit, because we both receive maximum royalties.

Bookstores benefit from ordering through the Ingram catalog. Being in the Ingram catalog is important for exposure and organizing events for bookstores, so if you are the kind of author who has always fantasized about the book tour, you definitely want your self-pubbed book or small press to have a presence in Ingram. Books sold through Ingram count in regard to royalties, and since being in bookstores logically increases your exposure, even when you are not present, it is a good move. Bookstores have the advantage here, as books may be returned to publishers if they don’t sell, but publishers may have a distinct disadvantage, depending on how well a book sells.

Some publishers, such as Tor.com, have begun experimenting with a kind of hybrid approach called Print On Demand. CreateSpace is fully print on demand for Amazon customers, but again, the rivalry between the physical and the virtual bookstore looms large. However, if you are in Ingram, and a bookstore wants to forego the risk of having books of an author that don’t sell, a book can be ordered and shipped again. What you lose there, of course, is the casual buyer who will be captivated by your cover when they know nothing about you.

Is there an ideal solution? It sort of depends on what you’re looking for as a publisher, an author, a library, or a bookstore. I mean, for me, I’d like to be in all three catalogs, and be wildly successful, so no one lost money on my books. This is what we should all shoot for. 😀 But this isn’t what we usually get as first time authors.

All that said, you should buy my book. Somewhere.

Unreliable Posts through 11-13-2017

And here’s what we’ve been up to over at Unreliable Narrators.

To NaNo or to Not NaNo

Halloween Flicks 2017

Author Spotlight: Ferrett Steinmetz

Author Spotlight: Grady Hendrix

Fire and Bone by Rachel Marks

SPECIAL BONUS EPISODE of The Unreliable Narrators Watch!

The Unreliable Narrators watch…Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead!

The Unreliable Narrators watch…Halloween!!!

The Unreliable Narrators watch…Pulgasari!

The Year of Living Authorly Post Post 16: Book Stores and Events

The Other Thing I’ve been doing these last few weeks are holding three very different book events. Let’s talk a little bit about them, and how they were set up.

Icon Launch Party: This year at my hometown con Icon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I did my usual thing of organizing and participating in Paradise Icon, but late Saturday night, I held a book party. Because so many people have known me for so many years, it was really easy to convince the convention to let me have a party and an event. How did it go?

Smashingly! All the people I know and some I didn’t wanted to buy books. I ordered a theme cake (Cake of the Dead!) from a friend who had a friend whose mom makes arty cakes. And I had a lot of fun and sold a lot of books and had more fun. This is a great example of an easy event in a very friendly environment. I did have to get organized, get change for purchases, get receipts and advertise, but overall this was a low fuss high reward event, both personally and fiscally.

Deep Dish Reading: This reading was put together by Mary Anne Mohanraj in Chicago. It was an event planned by the Speculative Literature Foundation and SFWA, and it was held at Volumes Book Store. (By way of plugging the even for the future, watch for the next reading in December!) Look at all these impressive readers!

Now, how did I come to be involved with Deep Dish? Largely because of Chris Bauer, a fellow VP alum and a Paradise Icon attendee. I wrote to him about where might be good to read in Chicago, and he talked to Mary Ann, and this happened. I am very grateful to both Chris and Mary Anne. It was a fun experience, and I really enjoyed participating in the literary scene in Chicago.

Iowa City Book Festival: My friends at Mindbridge agreed to let me hang with them at the Iowa City Book Festival, where I sold a few books, talked about SF and F in Iowa, and met a lot of people. It was very much a classic book fair, with a chance to talk about what I did and reconnect with some friends. Again, past connections helped out.

This post shows three models for how authors can get out there and meet people, and underscores a very important point. This is so important I’m going to block quote it. You ready?

The friends you have are the ones who will help you with your book networking. All of the web appearances I’ve had recently have been through friends or friends of friends. All of these events, and all the future events I have will be opportunities because of friends, people I’ve known for a long time and I’ve met in my beginning years as an author. If you play well with others, and you do nice things for other people, and you help others when you can, things like this happen.

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So go out there and make some friends. See where that takes you. And keep writing. Which reminds me…

The Year of Living Authorly Post 15: Changing Web Presence

Hey everyone. So, you might have noticed my book came out on September 12th, and then I was…quiet. You will note my front page is no longer my blog, but is about my book and appearances. You will notice I now have a newsletter. This is kind of what I’ve been up to, making the shift from a writer whose primary commodity is her potential, to being a writer who has a book out.

Hey. I’m still the same fun person. I am. I just needed to make sure when you got here, you could find my book, and if you wanted to know more about me, you could hit the blog button.

Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about what I did to change the web presence, so you may have some idea of what you might like to do. I am lucky enough to have a friend who has always helped me with my website. (*waves at Mark McKibben*) Mark had set me up long ago with a WordPress site and has done most of the heavy lifting. I tweaked my theme in minor ways, moved some social media to the front page, and wrote a whole new front page, and voila! Overall, I enjoy blogging, and I like having one. For me it was a matter of shifting. I know it’s suggested writers have a web presence, but these days some authors find Facebook, Twitter, or one of the social media services more than adequate. I just like having my own spot online.

The newsletter, now that’s entirely new. I may be getting ahead of myself a little bit, but I wanted to have a way to remind people that they could come and see me when I was nearby that would be conveniently in their mailbox should they choose to have it. I don’t intend to be Spammy McSpammerston, but if people care enough to sign up, they can have a convenient way to keep up. Now, I used, like so many businesses and individuals before me, Mail Chimp, which is fairly easy to set up. I’ll let you know how the experiment goes.

Right now, however, if you would like a crack at a free ebook of The Vessel of Ra, I want to encourage you to sign up, because I’m going to hold a drawing after November 17th.

So, website update. Check. Mail Chimp newsletter. Check. How I’ve been spending my social media time.