Tag Archives: Writing Process

Cthulhuian Short Story Cover Reveal

I love Lovecraft.

Since reading At The Mountains of Madness at 16, I have never been able to read enough of his work. He opened my mind to a level of tragic darkness that I had never thought could be acceptable to write about. At that age, for me, darkness was all there was. Darkness was my Disneyworld. Lovecraft taught me to embrace it all and harness it; to welcome the things that pull us down, face them, and wrestle with them. And thus, I think, the writer in me was born.

I’ve written several Lovecraft-themed stories, all of them shuffled away in old file folders, the hand-written ink faded into the browned looseleaf. It wasn’t until recently that I took them out and decided I may as well turn them into product, since that’s what we can do now in indie publishing.

While grinding through the fantasy anthology I’m putting together (with the incredible editing of Espresso’s Holly M. Kothe), and hammering out the final revisions on To Drown in Ash (which is almost Very Nearly Done, I PROMISE), I got Holly to edit The Dog, which I first wrote back in ’89.

My stupendous cover artist, Dylan Edwards, has been shackled to his Mac, toiling away on several covers and other projects for me while ignoring his family, his nutrition, an Continue reading

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Of Very Busy Times and Such Things.

I’ve been a negligent Blog writer.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whom I was writing to, until I checked my stats recently.

Wow. Peeps are reading stuff here.

Little surprises are the best ones.

So; quick update!

This happened:

 

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It’s my first fantasy title. I just bought the cover from Dylan Edwards over at Rootwoodpress. Needed to get back to cobblestones and sword-blades for a break from the railguns, snarling madmen bent on Triumvirate destruction, and interstellar mists for a bit. Chew the mutton and gulp the mead, as it were. This will be the cover for a short story anthology that is currently underway. The first of which is right now being edited for final draft, and will be a freebie on Amazon and Kobo.

And how’s business, you ask? Well, I haven’t reached my goal of being able to buy a tank of furnace oil yet, but Princess (my wife’s insistence on the nickname, not mine) and I did go for a delicious coffee date using the sole proceeds of my writing income for the first time.

It’s the little things.

Before Juris went live for free, it was crickets. A few sales once in a while, but mostly just little red mountains on my Amazon horizon:

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That has changed substantially:

 

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Only one ‘Dead Day’ since release. Every day, someone new reads a title of mine. And lots more little red mountains. That makes me smile into my pillow.

When Juris Lunence hit over 500 downloads in two months across three countries, I nearly screamed from my rooftop. (But, the pitch of my roof is too steep, so I settled for a quiet chuckle on my deck, thus avoiding startling my puppy and kids).

 

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Then, the sweetest thing happened. My first cosplay fan, Joseph Crosby, designed a replica of Lunen gear, right down to First Squad’s shoulder-pads (Love shoulder-pads), and walked into our local Chapter’s bookstore, with a copy of Sand in hand, as a part of a Halcon Cosplay promotion:

 

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Can’t really describe how Joe’s very kind gesture and incredible input of time affected me, but warm molasses coating my heart comes close.

And now, the planning for the new Fan Festival is underway (more on that later).

All this during my minor league football coaching season (Go, South Shore Seahawks!), replacing my deck, packing one son off to university, and working my Real Job.

None of which excuses my negligence, but perhaps explains it adequately.

Full lives are the best lives.

Thanks for reading!

Onwards!

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What works with Amazon: An evolving education in Indie publishing.

 

So. I conducted an experiment.

“You gotta have free stuff,” they said. “Folks love free stuff.”

My Indie Pubbing guru J.A. Konrath says it, too. More quality, more titles, more free. And Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt describe it thoroughly, using the concept of Funneling.

The Traditional Publishers still gnash their teeth, flap their tiny arms, and growl that not anyone can do this; that they have special services that guarantee quality and success.

They’re right; they do. But I say anyone can make their own success, if you learn the game, and demand quality of yourself.

Juris Lunence took only about four months to finish from initial draft, to polished, packaged, buffed, price on the windshield, and out on the lot. Plus, it was a lot of fun to write. So overall, not a loss of time in any way. It’s a short story prequel to Book 1 of my Trilogy, To Drown in Sand. 

Kobo went live with Juris Lunence first, and that was intentional. We loaded it to Amazon, didn’t announce it, and read the purchased copy while Kobo chewed on the upload. Since Kobo takes considerably more time to publish a title, we used that to proof the digital copy that went live on Amazon that was still priced at Amazon’s somewhat silly $.99 price. We caught our glitches, re-uploaded to Amazon, and the final copy was live before Kobo hit the market. Then we uploaded the corrected version to Kobo. Kobo’s copy of Juris went up for free (because they do that), and we reported Amazon being undersold by Kobo. The $.99 still appeared on the Amazon copy for first three days, but buyers received it free because of price-matching. At the end of the third day, Juris Lunence looked like this:

 

Juris Free

 

Then, the FB group blitz. My poor followers. Their feeds must look like I’m a megalomaniac. Over 40 groups in one night, then roughly 15 more over the next few evenings. They were kind not to appear on my lawn with rage and torches.

I purchased a small bottle of Goldschlager (one of those tiny airplane bottles, I’m not a drinker), my favourite Victory Juice. Parked it next to my laptop on the kitchen table, and waited. I was only going to open it if I hit 10 free downloads.

Then this happened:

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Those little buggers are hard to open when you’re excited. I had to use my pliers.

3 days later, there wasn’t a bottle big enough to celebrate cracking an Amazon Top Ten list, and the Top 100 in Kindle Books:

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10 days later, here’s what the 4 months of work did for my Author rankings:

Author Central Stats Sci-Fi and Fantasy Ranking Scince fiction rankings

 

And here’s the total snapshot of Juris Lunence downloads, and what it did for To Drown in Sand (the little red lines at the bottom).

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Did I sell a lot of copies of To Drown in Sand? Not really, at least not yet.

Did I sell more than if I hadn’t written and promoted a free release? Yeh.

Did I climb through the Amazon algorithm and increase my Author ranking? You betcha.

Did I gain new readers, and get over 100,000 new people looking at my title? Yip!

Is Konrath and Truant and Platt right? Absolutely.

The conclusion is pretty much irrefutable, which is rare in this Grand Indie Game.

Free works as long as it’s quality. And anyone can make that happen.

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Of Evolving Covers, Convergence, and How Lucky I Was To Meet Dylan.

Large things start small. Like seeds in the dark. I met Dylan Edwards in Grade Eight. He had hand-drawn comics spilling out of his saxophone case that I handed back to him. Talk about epic moments in time. We were the two biggest nerds consistently from then until we graduated. Nerd legends for our hobbies, interests, and isolation. We were instant brothers, kin in suffering the glacial pressures of growing through adolescence.

We started a comic company in grade nine; and we were the guys play-testing our Zombie Apocalypse role-playing game in study hall during exams. We rolled our eyes and ignored the jibes of the typical detractors through it all, with eyes locked on one another; that precious psychic bond of survival. He went on to become one of the best fathers I’ve ever been privileged to know, and the best friend a man could ever wish for.

He also became an incredible artist. Despite my constant, frantic texts, emails, mistakes, dysfunctional uploads, and endless problems, he remains, as always, stoically patient, and everwise. And waiting for his new cover drafts is better than Christmas. His idea for the cover for my new prequel short story, Juris Lunence, blew me away.

Here’s the first draft:

 

Juris cover 1 draft

 

And the final version:

 

Juris 2nd draft covr

 

Once you’ve read the story, I think you’ll get just how awesome this image really is. At least, it flattens me pretty effectively. Crazy to think how small things like me grabbing a dropped piece of drawing can turn into such things. Reminds me to keep looking for them.

Juris Lunence is available for free on Kobo, and, as soon as enough people tell amazon they are being undersold, free on Kindle as well.

 

~B.

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Just a quick mo’…

Just popping in to provide the means to acquire a professionally edited, reasonably well-written, and ABSOLUTELY FREE  story about a fantastic character.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/juris-lunence

 

Juris 2nd draft covr

 

There. I’m done. Please return to your awesome day.

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Red Pen-marks are not scars on the soul.

Juris Lunence just went live yesterday. It’s the origin story of one of my favourite characters in To Drown in Sand, mainly because when he stepped on stage in my mind, I had no idea who he was. Then he started doing Very Awesome Things, and became a lynchpin plot figure for the climax of the novel.

Juris marks the first time I’ve gone beyond Beta and self-editing, and it shows. My amazing editor, Chad Horton, graciously offered to edit for me pro bono. His warnings were clear:

“I will be merciless.”

And, thank the Saints, he was.

This is what I got back,over a very nice lunch.

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What surprised me, though, was that no tears fell onto my Fish and Chip dinner.

Instead, I was more excited than ever before. He had magically taken my work, sensed exactly what I was trying to do with it, and pushed me back to tweak the language and structure. I learned so much from rewriting Juris that I shudder to think what it would have become without him.

Yes, there were rewrites and revisions afterwards. Typos caught and created, little mice to chase through the pages. But the PLAN was clear.

 

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It wasn’t like before. No doubt-filled story arcs and soul-squashing plot questions. I had a plan; a highway, with signs, little yellow marker-bars, and a destination. And I saw the difference in the end result between this story and other stuff. Not that it wasn’t good writing; I really think it stands up.

But not as pain-free as having a qualified eye take my work out of the jar that is my head, and look at it through the microscope of the objective reader.

Thus, my new rule.

Get It Edited.

I was editing before, but not in the way that created the separation required. It’s a lesson I’m ecstatic to learn, especially as an Indie.  Call it a corner in the path, I guess.

Nice view from here onward.

 

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What I’ve learned: 4 months post-release.

It all started with an initial wave of increasing sales every month. Upon a Wake of Flame was released as a test in the fall, and Sand was released just before the beginning of December. I watched the KDP sales reports like a maniac. By February, I was closing in on 100 copies sold. Then things slowed, and I realized I had probably run out of friends who bought my writing out of support. I watched this thing return to a state of rational conduct.

But, something silly had happened. I stopped Writing, and started Marketing.

I had let something happen that I had promised not to; I had fallen for it. I had let myself enjoy the film. Suspended my disbelief, and let myself buy in. I’d grown accustomed to the 4 months of increasing sales, and the little rush of beating last month’s numbers.

But, as it inevitably had to, things calmed down, and, in February, To Drown in Sand was raised from its comfortable sit, propped up by its little arms, and set free. No more Facebook sales drives. No more Pinterest jamming. I want to see what it can do; what happens when someone doesn’t just BUY my writing, but READS my writing, and tells someone else about it. So, now, the book is up on its own legs, and is taking its staggering, uncertain steps forward on its own.

Hard to watch. The coffee tables around here have very sharp corners. I’m holding my breath.

Since the beginning of March, sales have continued in the UK, which is great, because word is getting around over there. And that’s a huge surprise. In the US and Canada, each month brings someone new to Alseiry Beach, Shastre, and the Boddies, so I’m more than cool with that.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

An Ebook is NEVER finished.

Endless tweaks. Endless. Each new upload of even the smallest change results in catastrophic changes in page breaks, margin changes, and even accusations of disorganized formatting in reviews. Such things are taken, considered a part of the exercise in education and live formatting, and fixed.

Speaking of which;

If I read my reviews, I pretend I’m someone else. As in, a potential reader. And then I forget about it. Back to the keyboard.

Pinterest is fun; a great, free, promotional tool, and a substantial time-sink.

I spent a LOT of time fishing on Pinterest. Which was fun, but killed my writing time. And, while I did see direct sales from it, I had much more enjoyment discovering new writers like A.J. Wilson, Brian Parker,  Terry C. Simpson, and Holly m. Kothe, and promoting them on my Pinterest boards.

Facebook is a sticky, ego minefield.

Facebook  groups became a bit of a mire; free advertising that resulted in direct sales, but it taught me a lot about the demographics of Indie writers that spend time there. Some people don’t really want advice when they ask for it. They want you to tell them how awesome they are. They want to smack you in the face with their books. IF they’ve really published one. There are a lot of writers who haven’t actually published anything, which shocked me. And a lot who probably shouldn’t have published what they did. A quick glance at a free sample of their writing shows which writers think their story is too precious for an editor, and which editors weren’t real editors, and which writers really, really want their work to be good.

Others, though, are incredible folks who want to accomplish what you want to. They want to be Writers. Find those, and you have comrades.

Overall, no big loss of time. I learned volumes from the exploration. Biggest take-away? Just like my heroes say.

Get back to writing.

It’s true, you know. The only thing that will sell your last book is your next book.

Thus, I dove back into the fray. That awesome, loving, splashy, ridiculous fray. On went the headphones and the Steve Jablonsky music. And man, it was good to go back.

Thus, Juris Lunence was born.

I’ve just finished the latest draft of the new back-story for one of my favourite characters from the 10th Regiment. Even got a new editor to take a look at it, and rip into it with his red pen. (More on that next time).

Great fun was had by all. My awesome graphics designer Dylan Edwards is hard at work on a cover, and the final draft will be ready for release soon.

I don’t have any free stuff. Everyone says “You gotta have free stuff.”

So, we’ll go with that for this release. It’s about 25 pages, but they are 25 Very Good Pages. Juris Lunence was a great deal of fun to write, and will go in the stack that will eventually create a short-story anthology; a complete prequel-set for the 10th Lunen Regiment Trilogy.

Here’s a glimpse of the (very) rough draft of one cover concept; Dylan is drafting a few more that I’ll be too excited to contain, and therefore will pop up here for perusal.

Juris Lunece Concept

More updates on its release as things unfold.

Onwards!

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