Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Value of Experince.

Okay, so I've been pretty hard on all the pay up front services in the self publish industry. I see someone trying to charge 500 dollars for a book edit, and it just kinda makes me see red. And that's not just because that kind of price tag would make my budge have a massive deficit.Yeah, I've thought that it's just kinda... wrong to charge that kind of money to new authors. For the most part, new authors don't usually have that kind of money just hanging around, and there are far more services that a 'good' book needs other than just editing. As soon as you add up all the possible costs you could see in trying to publish a book and do it well, it wouldn't surprise me if you had a 2000 dollar price tag.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but the traditional publishing industry tends to take care of all that, and then give the author an advance to boot. Granted, this is because they are somewhat willing to take a risk that the book might not be a success, and they may have to end up eating the difference. However, it's not so great for the author either, because if said book isn't successful, unless they have years of writing behind them, they'll find it that much harder to get that kind of help again.

To those who want to maintain their creative Independence though, they have to pay for all the services themselves, or if they are broke, do them themselves. The problem with doing it all themselves, is they usually have no idea what they're doing. I know I didn't. But the price of those professional services can drive the authors to desperation, and so we end up with many books which are poorly formatted, or poorly editing, or any number of other preventable things. Bad writing, on the other hand, isn't something you can really hire someone else to fix.

But there is of course hope. If you do something enough times, you get better at it. This is one reason why said experts charge so much, unfortunately, the authors don't know that. They don't yet know if that service offer is worth the 50-500 dollars asked. In the mean time, they must muddle through themselves, if they can't afford the bill. I found myself in that situation when it came to book promotion. I tried to promo my own book, and got about 180 downloads over a 5 day free e-book promotion. Now, taking what I learned from that, I have done a promotion for Jack Lantern, by Vance Smith, and at 8 AM on the first day, it had already got 172 downloads. In the first 6 hours of the day, I've almost smashed the download record of my last promo. I'd call that some experience.

So yeah, if you find yourself being your own agent, just remember, if you do enough of something (and actively try to learn how to do it better), you'll get better at it. Once you've hit a certain point, maybe you'll even be able to hire a pro like me. Then you'll be rocking!

Till next time, this is the part time Wizard signing off.

EDIT: As of 9PM today, a full 15 hours later, and the download count is at 804. The author and I are both quite shocked at this considerably more potent promo. I'm very excited to see what I can do with the next few books we've got coming up on promotion. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taking it one step at a time.

So, last month saw me attempt a free promo on my book Wayward Guardian. My prep work leading up to it was about a 7 dollar face book ad, and submitting my book to about 10 e-book promo websites. Out of this rather paltry effort, I saw 144 downloads and one reader who left a glowing review (though he did take about a month and half to leave it). Considering up until that point, my book had been read by maybe 10 people, of which 6 had actually bought copies, I consider it a success.

Well I'm hoping to blow that success out of the water. Next up on our Ravania promo run is Jack Lantern. Jack Lantern is a book series written by Vance Smith, and it is amazingly good. It's targeted at a younger audience than my book was, but it is by no means beneath an adult reader. I for one loved it when I first laid my eyes on it, and I'm not just saying that cause I like Vance. It's writing is genuinely impressive, and the characters feel alive.

My plan for this one is to have some reviews already in place, courtesy of some book review sites out there, submit it to more sites, and have a big ad on Facebook. Where I submitted my promo to 10, I've submitted his to about 100. Where I had no reviews, I want him to have 2-4 (though time might be working against me on that one). Where I had a 7 dollar ad, I want him to have a 20 dollar ad. I want to do what I did, but I want to do it better, and I want to do it more.

When I did my promo, I didn't know what I was doing. But by doing the promo, I learned. Now that I learned, I'm apply that learning to this, to make this promo even better than mine. This story deserves readers, and I've let Vance know that too, much to his continued discomfort (poor boy doesn't take praise well).

I'll be going over the results of this promo, and seeing how much of a difference my far more ambitious plans do. With any luck, when I do a promo on my book again, I'll have much better results.

Until next time, Ta ta!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Consitency, and success.

It's a full moon again. That means the madness of writing one of these has taken me again. I know, there was a full moon in September that I missed. My will power was stronger then. Or it could be that I was simply defeated by the crushing weight of life at that time, so you know, the opposite of will power.

Which ever one of those it was, I have come back and am ready to do this thing, and kick it old school.

Or I would be if I had bothered to pick a topic. 

This day and age, it's pretty amazing to have an idea. Now is a good time to try and do something with an idea. The opportunities and resources available to people who want to make something out of their ideas are simply fantastic. There's fewer road blocks than ever before (and almost all of those remaining road blocks are governmental or personal in nature). All in all, its a good time to have an idea.

But of course, having an idea doesn't mean you'll have success, even with the beneficial nature of today's opportunities. Ultimately, the key to taking an idea and turning it into something tangible is the same it's always been. That key is action.

Not just halting and sporadic action, or a sudden powerful burst spurred on by the desire for fame, or fortune. No, the kind of action needed, is the same action that's always been needed for long term meaningful progress. The action needed is steady, consistent, and directed.

To take and idea and turn it into something requires a level of direction that seems harder and harder to come by these days. It also takes a level of consistency that's hard to maintain in our world of instant gratification. Though the landscape may have changed, those things remain the same.

Which, oddly, means my missing my last full moon blog post, reflects poorly on me. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean much, but my point of choosing to write a more personal blog post on every full moon was in part to drive that consistence. It was to give one more regular point around which to focus my efforts. It also had some direction to it by making sure that I would write at least one blog post a month. Right now the results of this effort don't seem immediately obvious, but I'm not just writing for the people who will read now, but I'm training my self to keep writing for when I do have readers.

And that's part of the consistency. Training myself to do something, when I don't yet need to, so I can keep at it when I do need to.

That seems like a pretty good idea.

Anyway, this has been the part time wizard writing a blog post. Tune in next time!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Write what you know.

Write what you know. While I was going school and learning how to write, I stumbled across that thought quite a bit.

Well that's all fine and dandy if you're a fisherman writing about fish, but it's rather limiting when you want to write about magic, dragons, or space ships and computers gone mad. There isn't a person on earth who could say they know what it means to battle a demon while riding a dragon into battle.

However, I do realize that it's an important thought. The problem is, there is a risk of taking it too literally, and thus requiring you to be intimately aware of all the minutiae in the things they're trying to write. Such as learning all the ins and outs of how to care for a horse if you have a horse in the story. It's my new opinion that that is missing the major thing of importance, unless of course the story in question is about raising a horse.

The thing of most importance, and the thing to focus most on when you try to write what you know, is living life. Every story good story is, when you boil right down to it, a human story. All the larger than life settings and awe inspiring settings only serve as containers for the stories of humanity, and of what it means to live.

A story about a fight for survival against all odds against a powerful magical foe is just a story about human tenacity. A story about crossing space and time in search of a lost lover, is just about the driving force of our relationships. The more real the emotions evoked, the stronger the story.

So now when I think of writing what I know, I think of writing what I know of emotion. I think of the need to tell a real story of humanity, of a story that moves us on a level that is understandable on a emotional level, even if we might not know what it's like to ride a dragon.

I think, if given the chance to tell younger me a nice word of advice, it would be to focus more on the heart of the story, and less on the fiddly bits. I am of course still learning what it means to be a story teller, but, God willing, I hope I will be able to keep working at it for years to come.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Switching gears, and the art of getting things done.

So I find myself in a bit of a situation. I have finished writing the sequel to my book 'Wayward Guardian' and I was rather looking forward to resuming work on my next project, which was a fantasy book which I had thought was only about half done. Turns out it was more than half done. So now I don't have a project on the go.

I discovered this while I was doing some quick edits on the new project in anticipation of writing in it again. While I was doing this, and looking at the rest of the plot that I had worked out, I realized that what I had written actually came very close to a story in and of itself, and that what was left to write, could very well stand as separate book as well, with a few modifications.

Now when I say separate, I mean in a physical sense. The stories are still one and the same, and the second book would be a continuation of the first, it's just that what was originally half a planned book actually has all the making of a full and good story in and off itself. So I decided I'd just split the book into two.

This had the advantage of meaning I now have two books waiting to be published, pending editing. However, as stated before, it means what I thought was going to be my next project for the foreseeable future, now isn't.

So what to do?

I could always write book three in the Guardian saga, but I want to let that wait a bit, let the juices flow. I've got a good idea where the story is going, but it needs some more details.

Instead, I decided I work on the scripts for the graphic novel/web comic series I will be doing with my good friend Austin Shurtliff. We've been wanting to do this for some time, but the timing hasn't be write, and we weren't sure how to go forward.

We had a nice long chat about it some weeks ago, and I think we're ready to get rocking. I'll be doing the writing, and he'll be taking care of the illustrations. Personally, I think he has the harder job, though the writing for this is proving a lot more challenging for me than I had anticipated. I'm hoping to fit the script writing into my schedule, while maintaining some book based writing.

So for the next few weeks, it will be editing, and script writing. Once the editing is done, then it'll switch to script writing, and book writing.

How exciting.

Remember, you can keep up today on all our projects over at the Ravania page. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Editing, and the art of quality.

Mmmm good day. It's been a busy one for me. I've gone to job orientation for a new job (Got to pay them bills!) to make up the difference while I kick everything else into high gear. I've done my first draft edit of about 5 chapters of my book. I've written a chapter in another book, and decided how to proceed with said book.

Of all of those things, I think I enjoyed the editing the least. I really don't like editing. If I could do without it, I would. However, I cannot do without it. Unedited, my writing is horrible, my grammar is weak, and my story telling is strained. My rough draft is always a mess. You may have even noticed some evidence of this on my blogs. I try to catch it all, but it's a big job.

Good editing can really set a story apart. I was browsing through the latest free kindle books on promotion by Amazon, and reading their reviews, and I was struck by the common thread in many of the reviews of these self published books. That thread was the thread of many obvious mistakes. One review mentioned that the writer had completely neglected to put quotations around his dialog. So the only way to tell the difference between between characters talking and descriptive paragraphs was the inclusion of the occasional he said, she said. I of course chose to download this, but I haven't had the chance to see for myself yet.

I suppose me downloading it suggests it may have just been a clever marketing ploy, but I find that unlikely.

It occurred to me, that it could well be that the only thing keeping these people from being really big would be the strength of their editing. For many of these stories, almost everyone would say 'It's a great story!' or 'It's full of engaging characters.' but then it would get to the rest and these same reviewers would say 'Full of typos.'. Of course, some reviewers never noticed at all, but the ones that that did were numerous enough to hurt their ratings.

I know how hard it is! I really do, if it wasn't for the lads at Ravania, I would be a sorry mess with my writing. We thankfully have something of a support group, we each bear the burden of editing. I find I can read my work as many times as I want and still won't see what I need to see, because I see what I meant to write, not what I actually write. Add a fresh set of eyes that weren't involved in the writing of the story, and all the missed typos start coming to life.

That said, there is a difference between a few missed words, and typos on every page. If you try to hit perfection every time, you'll never actually finish a book. Just be thorough, take the time and effort, and do the best you can. Remember, the keen eyed will find typos even in New York Times best sellers.

To any new authors, or even established indie authors, I'd recommend passing your works to as many people as you feel comfortable with. Try and priorities those who are willing to actually look and not just read. I pick my Father as one of my readers because if there is a misspelled word, he will find it. The man once found a typo in a crossword puzzle, much to his frustration. He doesn't do so good on story content, but I have other people in my reader group to look for those. Different eyes see different things. The more eyes that go over your work, the more they'll see, provided, again, there the kind of people who will look rather than just read.

Remember, if you don't try to set a standard for yourself, you'll never stand out above the crowd.

Till next time! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Testing what makes you tick.

So I just got back from a weekend camping trip on lovely Vancouver Island. All in all, it was a pretty rad time, but as the time came to a close, I was chomping at the bit to get back and jump back into my work.

On reflection, I realize this is the first time this has happened to me. Most of the time, when vacationing, I find that I dread going back and ending my adventure. Most of the time I would dread coming back and having to sink back into my old life.

Not so on this trip. I was excited to return, happy to resume what I was doing, and determined to make even more progress towards my goals and dreams. I realize that this is a good indication that I'm doing something I love. I was so interested in returning that whenever I heard talk of plans to make the vacation last a little longer, it actually made me unhappy. I decided to jump ship and get back home with one of the campers who had to return early.

I am one of the ones who very much agrees that it's important to take a step back every now and again. Doing this lets you see how far you've come, and lets you regain perspective which may have been lost in the hustle and bustle of everything. I came back from my vacation with a lovely piece of prose and a new short story to be revealed at a later date.

However, the stepping back also lets you see something else. It lets you see how much you're enjoying our life at that moment. If your vacation is marred by the dread of returning home, then there is room for improvement. If it's dampened by all the worries you brought with you, then it may be time to learn to let some things go. Time to step away gives us an opportunity to see what were stepping away from, and also gauge how much we want to step back into it. It's just a good way to see if you actually like what your doing.

I know I do. I hope you do too.

Till next time!