Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blogging about a Blog, Indies Unlimited

So I read a post from Indies Unlimited. You can find the post I am about to talk about, here. I'd also recommend checking out the blog in general, as it does seem interesting. I've been poking at it, and especially under their section about submissions, I was caught by their mission, stated, "We want to dispel the myth that Indie books aren’t as good as other books." Pretty good for a mission. I mean, it sounds like part of our mission over at Ravania.

So anyway, I was reading this post. The blogger, Becky Wicks, was talking about her switch from a traditional publisher to indie publishing, and her experience therewith.

I was struck by a few things, first, when she switched, she realized that indie authors need to be their own marketing team. Yes! Complete agreement there. As she said later in the post, no one will be as passionate about your story than you. Even if you have a great story with all the makings of a best seller, if no one knows it exists, it won't mater one bit. You have to get out there, you have to make your presence known.

This battle is a difficult one to fight, and an almost cyclical one, as I touched on in my last post, but it's one which can be fought, and one which you can make progress with. Thankfully, as she listed off all the outside help she had to get, I realized that between the five of us at Ravania, and our various circles of influence, we've got most of those jobs covered. For the most part though, we're all pretty inexperienced in our various responsibilities, but we will improve.

The other thing she mentioned was how the magic point for getting some traction and seeing good results was about 5 books. Under our banner, we've got about 3 right now, with another 3 set to release by years end (ish). Between us, we've got that number hit, but individually, we've got some time to go yet. I'm hoping to leverage our combined strength as a way to move our brand forward.

She also mentioned something about having a good mailing list. Still working on that.

Lots of work to do. Lots and lots.

That just makes it exciting.

Till next time people!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reviewing the Review system.

Good day readers. I regret to inform you that I am going to be away for week, so you'll have to be without the enjoyment of my words for at least that long, well unless I can find a moment it write, but I don't want that kind of pressure. Hopefully my co-conspirator Vance will pick up the slack in the mean time.

I got a little frustrated again this week. When you are a new author, it very hard to get traction. To get into any of the good book promotional circles, you need reviews, to get reviews, you need people who will read your book, to get readers, you need promotion, and reviews so they know it's worth their time. It is a viscous angry circle.

The most obvious thing to do then, is to pick one thing and try to break the cycle at that one point. Or rather, not break the cycle, but start a positive cycle where a negative one once read. The point that is usually chosen as the entry point is reviews. I'm no different in the this regard, I see that as the point to pick too.

The problem, however, is the whole 'getting a review' thing. The really prestigious ones usually charge money, and when you're a starving artist, with emphasis on starving, it's really hard to justify any kind of expense. The free review sites are usually so swamped by the hordes of other authors who just desperately want a chance to prove themselves. It's hard to have your submission seen when it's lost in a mountain of other books. There's only so many hours in a day, and the free sites, by virtue of being free, can't really afford to pay a reviewer.

Now the best kind of review, in my mind, is from readers themselves. The problem with that, is readers don't want to have their time or money wasted. If you leave a negative impression on them, it'll linger. To make matters worse, the level of quality between those hordes of authors and their works varies wildly. Some have the potential to be the next new york times best seller, whereas others, if writing were like American idol, would be sent home crying by Simon Cowell.

The thing they all share in common though is that no one knows about them. No one knows they exist. Their books languish with a ranking on amazon with entirely too many digits behind it. Not many people intentionally browse the lower levels of the book rankings looking for books, and this is in part because no one wants to waste time or money.

If a book has no reviews, it's essentially a gamble as to what you'll get, and if you have to spend money, then it's a gamble most people don't want to take. This is particularly true because there are plenty of books written by known authors that are quite a lot of fun to read. Why take a risk on a no body, when the somebody does what you want, and you know they do what you want?

The method I've decided to use to try and break the cycle is simple, and has been done before. The first thing I'm doing is offering a free promotion for my e-book. From september 4 to the 8 my e-book will be free on amazon. My hope for this is that as it will eliminate the money concerns when it comes to reader risk. Hopefully some people will be willing to take the time risk, and garner me some reviews. Once I have those under my belt, it'll be that much easier to promote, and should translate into more readers for my next book. We shall see if it works!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Of Moons and Madness

Good evening everyone, part time wizard Arlin here. So it's a full moon out tonight, and that means a blog post.

Since I've decided on writing a blog post every time there's a full moon, as well as when ever I feel like it, I've thought that it might be kind of nice to have the full moon posts have a sort of shared theme. I'm not sure what that's going to be, though I feel as though it may be more personal in nature than my usual posts.

So maybe for my first run at this, I will answer a question. Why?

Why's, as they stand, are very important to me. Why's are what makes the difference between doing something for the right reasons and doing something for the wrong reasons. Now that sort of thing, right and wrong, can be rather subjective to most people. I have very strong opinions about most things, and for the most part I know where my rights and wrongs lie, that said, everyone has a different set of beliefs, and such questions should be judged on a basis of current knowledge, and current beliefs, on a case by case basis.

But I digress. I wasn't going to talk about why's in general. I was going to talk about my why.

Before I get to that though, I should also answer, why what? What is an easy answer. What is 'everything I do in life'. What is Ravania Entertainment. What is my professional life. What is how I treat my fellow man. These are all the what's that are coloured and shaped by my why.

So what's my why?

I seem to be dancing around that question a lot.

So lets get right to it then. My why is love.

I know, I know, it's corny, it's cliche, and no one ever talks that way anymore. Well you'll be happy to know that there is a second why, and that's cause it makes me feel good, so it's a little selfish, but the first why is love.

I want to make Ravania Entertainment as big as I can because I love those who I am building it with. I want to make it as big as I can because I love the stories we tell, because I love the vision we share. I love what it has the potential to become, and I love the potential it has to help other people discover there own whys. We have massively insane plans for this thing, and I stick with them because of my why.

I want give the best service I can give in my professional life, for those who don't know, I work as a finical coach, because I feel so many people need help in that area of there life and I honestly feel that I can help them get a handle on it. I do it because I love helping people, and because I love the fact that I can get ahead in life doing something that helps others also get ahead in life.

I choose to treat people with respect, and when possible, genuine caring and attention, because I love people and believe everyone is deserving of care and love. I do it out of love for my fellow man, and out of love of my God, who would give me such gifts as I have in the way of talents, and who has done so so I may help my fellow man.

In short, my why is love. A love of people. A love of doing. A love of stories. That's my why. And it's important to have a why. A why keeps you focused when the world demands you become distracted, and if I get distracted, I'll get lost, and I'll loose sight of everything I'm doing. So until next full moon, you'll probably have to just listen to me prattle on about Ravania Entertainment, because I sure do love talking about that.

Till next time everyone!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The trouble with Covers, and some assorted ramblings.

So I was running the 'book review' circuit today. Oh boy what a treat that is. I mean, obviously the best way to get reviews is organically, but if you have no reviews then the quality of your book may come across as suspect.

This does have a negative impact on sales.

I decided that I needed to put my not inconsiderable stubborn determination towards solving. However, after about... three hours... or so, I have now grown bored of this pursuit. This unfortunately means that my stubborn determination is not what it used to be. That said, it was really an adventure and I have learned many valuable lessons.

First and foremost, there is a resource for almost everything you could think of. Everyone has a service to offer, and really I myself am no exception, what with my endless promotion of Ravania Entertainment. The problem you run into though is most services require something in exchange. Things are in rather short supply for me, as I am still in the 'starving artist' stage of my rise to fame. That's not to say I resent this state of being. Far from it, every adventure starts off small, and every journey will have it's challenges. More importantly than that, I am also a capitalist at heart, and I understand the value of ones time. These services don't do themselves!

The second thing I learned is that in the self-publishing world, cover services are ripe with options. It's easy to just pick a template and a picture from the cover design services and whip up a slick cover for your new book. I, unfortunately for them, find most of these such covers to be... well... without personality. Where is the love and care in template? Thankfully I have access to a few talented artists who have thus far been eager for the challenge of creating a cover.

Double thankfully, Ravania Entertainment itself has it's own very talented art guy who has made most of our covers and all of the art assets on our website here. We are truly blessed to have him under our banner. I mean he made our banner, he'd better jolly well be under it!

Anyway, back to the covers. As I was saying, I found most of the covers offered by these services to be lacking in personality. However, technically speaking, they do all look good, and the uniform styles do tend to draw a buyers eye. They see them as similar and it gives comfort. I myself suffer from this particular syndrome. You give me a planet and a spaceship on your cover, and BAM, I'm interested. So it's entirely possible that our lovely hand crafted covers might be doing us a disservice because they look so different from the average cover you find online. But just you wait, when we have 20+ books, we'll have the advantage, no longer will it be a detriment, it'll just be another reminder that it's a Ravania Entertainment book. It'll become a calling card!

Ultimately, everything we do is part of building our brand and making us unique and different. We don't want to be like the mainstream. We want to make our own dang stream!

This is part time wizard Arlin Fehr signing off. I'm outta here!

Friday, August 1, 2014

How to beat a venue mismatch, the Ravania way.

Good day children! And by children I mean (mostly) adults. And by good day, I mean hey look I've written a new post.

A long time ago, I thought to myself, hey you know what would be pretty sweet? Having some of my short stories appear in literary magazines, that would be pretty sweet.

Cue furious writing at that point.

I made up a few short stories, which was a bit of a shock to the boys at Ravania, as up until that point, it was happily assumed I was incapable of writing anything under forty thousand words.

A bit of an aside right now to explain that, the first ever story I finished start to finish was one I wrote for Aaron Smith's Genesis Project series, called 'Sons of an Empire.'. The instructions he gave me was to write a short story. But at the time, I had a tenuous grasp on the concept of short story. As I started writing it, and handing off page after page for his review, dear Aaron noticed that I may not have understood the instructions. Rather than stopping me and saying that I didn't understand the nature of the task, he let me continue, compelled by the strength of the story I was writing. It ended up clocking in at about half the size of one of his normal novels. Not a short story by any stretch. Later on, I decided to write another, to try and redeem myself, and it also ended up being about half the size of one of his novels again.

Happily this ended up not being a bad thing, as we will be slapping the two stories together and calling it a Genesis project book. Look for that at some point in the future.

Anyway, all of the above meant that I was then ridiculed for being incapable of writing a 'short' story. I never really thought it was much of a handicap, it just meant I had a lot of story to tell. However, when I decided that I want to try my hand at getting a story in a magazine, imagine my discomfort at seeing the rather limited word counts.

Rather than let this stop me, I learned how to write short stories. I wrote... about three I believe, and started submitting them around, however the result was almost without fail, 'We like your writing, but we don't think it matches our venue'. This happened with what I thought were clearly matching venues! Now that did frustrate me a little.

So what does one do when his writing doesn't match the venue he wants it in? Well if your part of Ravania Entertainment, which I am, you make your own venue.

Turns out the boy's have been cooking up the idea of doing our own literary magazine of sorts, now this will digital thing, as we are a rather small group, but it will be a way for us to show samples of our writing to potential readers and let them get a taste of us before they throw down some money on books or sweet merchandise. (both available here. :P) I for one am extra excited by this, and am also excited to be able to dust off my stories with no venue, and make new stories for it.

Now I'm not allowed to say anything about the date in which we plan to launch this, but let it suffice that I believe it will be worth the wait.

Thanks for reading dear children, and by children I mean (mostly) adults. Though if you are a child, that's good too.