Dark and light fantasy, crime-noir, science fiction, stories about your mom, and everything in between...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Cover Reveal: The Thorne Legacy

Using Julius Camenzind's original art for the cover, and a crash course in Photoshop from my wife, I have cropped, enhanced, and retitled the cover image for The Thorne Legacy.  And  I am 1000% happier with it!

My main issue with the previous version was that, while the image was awesome, it was too small and detailed when seen as a thumbnail, which is how you'll see it on most ebook sites.  Plus adding the black bars with the crappy titles was my idea, so I'm glad to have rectified that wrong personally.

Behold, the new, bolder, more exciting, more colorful cover of this military sci-fi, WHAM, BAM, can I cram any more descriptors into this sentence, hit!

(By the way, this SF contest finalist is only $0.99 at your favorite ebook retailer right now!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Signing Success

Saturday I held another book signing on Fort Sam Houston, and it was by far the most successful one to date!  Thanks to everyone who came out, whether you bought a book (or three), took a free bookmark, or just asked for directions to the bathroom. :)

This was the fourth of my on-base book sales that I've done, third on Fort Sam with the previous one held on Lackland AF Base.  All have been one-day events (since I have to go to work five other days in the week), and I generally came away from the first three with mixed feelings.  If you have attended or just passed by any non-superstar book signings yourself, you've probably seen the writer sitting or standing alone an awful lot.  The experience can be both encouraging and discouraging, depending on how few and far between the sales and signings, or just plain conversations, may be.  And if the writer has no interested parties or human contact for the last two or three hours of the day, they leave feeling pretty crappy.  But not this past Saturday.  That day I left with only a great sense of success and accomplishment!  Saturday's sales were triple of any previous signings, spread across the entire day from set-up to tear-down, and I think there were a few key factors involved in making that happen.

One is that I have new cover art on two of my books, which look awesome.  Covers definitely help sell books.  If your cover looks unprofessional, readers will assume what's inside is unprofessional too. Second, getting the word out ahead of time so those interested can actually plan on attending.  About half of those who bought books had already known I'd be there; the other half were spontaneous walkers-by (I think I just invented that word).  And strategic site location certainly helps.  There are a lot of younger readers on Fort Sam (being a training base there's quite a lot of 18-22 year olds), and of course younger folks are probably more into fantasy books than the older, retired military crowd (lot of those folks here, too).

A final tip that I think helped me, something I learned at my last signing event: A woman was checking out my books and after deciding they might be something she was interested in, she asked how much they were.  When I told her, she said, "Is that all?  Okay, I'll take these two."  It then occurred to me that most people seeing someone selling their own books--not from a shelf in a bookstore but right there in person--probably assume the price is inflated.  And to a degree, they are correct: it's much more expensive for the individual to have books printed and shipped than for the mega-publishers who are rolling out thousands at a time.  We do have to charge a little more to keep from losing our shirts.  However, if said self-pub author stays aware of that inherent price hurtle and is committed to keeping theirs modest, if they realize they are a humble newbie in a mega-corp world and price accordingly, they might actually sell a few more books.  Right after I sold and signed those two books for her, I went into the PX and bought me some colorful sticky notes, which I then used as price tags.  Stick note may look tacky but I think posting the prices for passersby to see helps bring down one perceived barrier between author and potential readers/customers; that being the idea that this person is going to charge too much, so I won't even bother to go over there.

Of course, there's also the perception that anyone who is selling their own books couldn't get really published and therefore must suck.  Fortunately, this misperception is slowly fading away as readers discover they sometimes like the self-pubbed work better than those cranked out by the big publishing machines. 

(Mine may not be the best possible display, but it gets a little better looking each time. My philospohy is to put colors and information out there for easy access to those stealing a peek as they go by.)

This past Saturday may well be my last on-base event here in Texas.  Next month (May 3rd) I am go to appear at Dragon's Lair comics and game shop in San Antonio for their Free Comic Book Day, and I have reserved a table for the Capital City Comic Con in Austin, TX, happening July 11-13.  I am also looking into getting a spot at the Texas ComiCon in San Antonio in June.  As my wife so thoughtfully pointed out to me, events like these are just the kind of places I should be going, even if I have to pay to be there.  While being on training bases gives me access to younger adult readers, which is certainly a big genre-reading demographic, having a booth at a Comic Book Convention is even better: everyone there is a nerd like me, so what better place to peddle my wares and meet and greet?!

If you're reading this in Texas, I hope to see you soon! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Light in the Dark: National Poetry Month

As a member of the writing community and BFA creative writing graduate, I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I didn't know April was national poetry month.  Then again, I also forgot I have vacation coming up and often call my kid by my dog's name, so...

Anywhoo, thankfully fellow indie author Sonya Rhen not only reminded me about this occasion, but invited me to post about it on her blog.  Although it is an art at the core of human culture for thousands of years (just ask all the millionaire pop singers if you don't believe me) and there is quite a bit of poetry I enjoy, I really didn't have a lot to say about it.  And I had only one poem of my own to share on her blog, which you can see here.  I am even more embarrassed to have anyone read this poem, because I ain't much of a mushy-mush guy.  And if you've read any of my other work, you may have doubts that I would write such a thing.  But...  What can I say??? 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fort Sam Houston Book Signing, April 12

Next weekend I will be set up at the Post Exchange on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX, selling and signing books.  For those who have access (it is a military base), come on by and say "hi," grab a free bookmark, and buy a paperback signed by me!  I'll be there on Saturday April 12th from about 9am to 5pm, give or take.  Hope to see you there!

By the way, I'm also trying to work my way into a signing in San Antonio on May 3rd for Free Comic Book Day at a local comic shop, and getting a table at the Capital City Comic Con in Austin in July.  (Neither of these are cemented yet, so I'm holding the details for now.)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Free SF, Fantasy, and Horror Stories on Wattpad

I've recently rediscovered Wattpad and am now trying to make the most of it.  It's a totally free site for reading whatever stories its members want to post.  And I'm really amazed at what I'm seeing there!  I actually signed up on it a year ago February and just now realized it...

I've now posted six short stories and teasers that are all free to read.  (You use Facebook to sign in, I believe... But what do I know, I'm a caveman.)

So check out what I have thrown up, it's all free of charge and obligation!  If you've noticed the book covers in these margins before and been curious, now is the time to investigate and see what you like.

Here's my profile page on there where you can find the freebie reads:



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

FF & KDP Select: The Great Experiment

I have been resistant to the lures of Amazon's exclusivity deal for a long time.  I am generally against the idea of giving them that kind of power and of cutting my work from all the other ebook sources out there in favor of this one, growing media monster.  (Thus far, a relatively harmless monster, at least to it customers, but a monster nonetheless.)  But in light of several factors, I am now going to throw the forbidden switch, call down the lightning, and see what happens.

Thanks to some coaching from Michael Ploof, author of the Amazon best-selling Whill of Agora series (and aside from other commonalities, he and I also both enjoy having Trevor Smith as our cover artist), I am undertaking The Great Experiment.  I'm going to give Amazon's KDP Select a try on my pair of related fantasy books: Tarnish and The Prince of Luster and Decay

Why bend the knee to Amazon's deal?  Well, the nice thing is that when enrolled in their Select program, you are given a handful of days per 90-day period to conduct special ebook deals on Amazon.com, which is by far the biggest bookseller in the world.  The bad side of that deal (as mentioned above) is that you have to be exclusively with them.  I have therefore initiated the temporary removal of these two books from all other sites.  Mr. Ploofer's own story of success (and his generous offering of advice) has convinced me to give it a try.  And I'll tell you what else has convinced me: in the last 90 days I haven't had a single sale of either of these titles on any of those other sites.  And even when I combine my total sales of both books from those sites, from the very time they were first published through today, that total number of sales is only...  Well, let's just say it makes a convincing argument for trying out the Select program.

Step One: removing Tarnish and Prince from Smashwords, which will then domino out to all the other great ebook retailers to which they distribute.  I cannot express my hesitation to do this, how "icky" I feel clicking that "unpublish" button, and yet...  Can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, I suppose.  My books will come off of Smashwords instantly, I imagine, but it may take a few weeks to come down from B&N, Kobo, Sony, and the others.  (So if you were going to grab them from those sites, now's the time!)

And so begins the Great Experiment.  It goes against my Anti-Trust instincts, but it's hard to argue with success.  Let's see what happens...   

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Cover Art for PRINCE

Check out the bad-ass new cover art for The Prince of Luster and Decay from Illustrators of the Future Contest winner Trevor Smith!!

You can see more of Trevor's awesome work here.

Remember, Prince is available as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook!