Sneak preview of my promotional goodies

As many of you know my first fantasy fiction novel – Tirfo Thuin – is due to be released before the end of the year. In preparation for this I have been busy finishing my cover and getting some promotional goodies together. I’ll report back on how successful they are once I am a few months into 2012.

However, as the number of sales versus cost on most printed promotions is probably extremely low I decided to look into Vistaprint (other print companies are available). I get daily emails from Vistaprint for free items such as business cards, brochures, pens etc. You simply pay the postage. I gave it a go and the results are great.

I got 250 free premium business cards (which I can pop in Christmas cards or hand out to people I see with a Kindle on the tram). Whilst they are not entirely free I think this is a bargain at just £4.53. This cost covers £0.69 to use my own image as opposed to the templates they provide and the rest is postage. Even if it doesn’t pay of it not a huge risk due to the low cost.

TirfoThuin Business Card

Let me know what you think of the design – it is difficult to get across all the information you want to in such a small area. Also, feel free to share your experiences if you have taken similar approaches and have any good tips on how to promote your books offline.

Check out some of the offers here: http://www.vistaprint.co.uk. If you sign up for newsletters or purchase something you tend to get a lot more offers for free things in email newsletters.

 

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Author Interview – Nicholas A. Rose

I would like to start by thanking Nicholas for taking the time to answer my questions and to say how much I enjoyed reading his contributions. If you find his answers useful please follow him on Twitter, add your comments/questions below and Like/Tweet this post.

Bio

Nicholas A RoseNicholas A. Rose is the author of the Ilvenworld novels and novellas.  He has read fantasy fiction for longer than he can remember and writing it for only a little less time.  Love of the sea and ships; mountains and the outdoors; and the rather more sedentary pastimes of chess, real ale and reading have all influenced his writing.

Nicholas lives in and is inspired by North Wales and believes all his best ideas come when out in the hills.

For those who must know, the “A” stands for Andrew.

Questions

1. How would you describe yourself and your writing?

I tend to be a prolific writer.  It’s always been fantasy for me.  The boundaries between the sub-genres have become a little muddled over the years, but I would call my books epic and heroic fantasy.

2. How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?

So far three:

Markan Throne is the first book of a trilogy.  Rival claimants battle for the right to be Marka’s first emperor for three centuries.  The winner, Marcus, is implicated in a murder, so his claim is suspended.  Marcus must prove his innocence, which means breaking a man free from jail and risking losing his right to the throne forever.

Markan Empire is book two, following on from Markan Throne.  A new enemy threatens the stability of the new empire, while an old enemy lurks to one side.  Marka cannot fight two wars at once, so spies are sent to Re Taura to learn what the new enemy is up to.  But spies have a habit of being caught and killed on Re Taura.

And though Marcus has proven his innocence, Marka’s Senate is still not quite ready to grant his life’s dream and refuses to let him ascend the throne he covets.

Gifted Apprentice is a novella, separate from the trilogy, but using a central character who appears in those books.  It marks the beginning of Sallis ti Ath’s journey from farmboy to feared bounty hunter.

3. Gifted Apprentice. Can you tell me a bit about how this book came about?

Gifted Apprentice CoverA minor character in Markan Throne sparked my interest.  This is the bounty hunter Sallis ti Ath.  When I first published online, I knew one book looked very lonely all by itself, so GA was born.  It was one of those ideas that was so bright it almost burned, so the book had to be written.  I feel this novella is an excellent introduction to the ilvenworld series and, while not strictly a prequel, will help make the world of the trilogy more familiar to readers.

If I’m allowed to make a selfish plug, this novella is free on Amazon.

4. What made you self publish your novels and what has the experience been like to date?

It is now almost impossible for a new writer to break into traditional publishing, so self publishing, or “indie” was really the only way open.  Once I learned of the explosion in popularity of ebooks, then I was away.

I published MT in March 2011 and the experience since has been fantastic.  (Sorry about the pun!)  There is a wonderful and growing community of indie writers online and most of us are happy to share information.  It’s been a steep learning curve and I wouldn’t kid anybody by claiming it’s easy, but I’m glad I came this way with my books.

5. Who have you published with?

ePublished, rather than published.  My books are with Amazon and Smashwords.  Amazon is the big beast of course, but Smashwords have connections with most of the other ereaders, such as B&N’s nook, Sony and quite a few others.

6. Did you prepare your ebooks yourself?  Any pointers?

I did prepare them myself. This is the part many aspiring authors don’t like.  The proofreading, copyediting and so on is entirely up to the author.  In essence, the author is also the publisher and has to deal with the less glamorous aspects of that.

As for pointers, read the publishing guidelines that Amazon issue (and the Smashwords Formatting Guide for those going to Smashwords as the requirements are different) and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I would recommend getting a copyeditor or, if that’s too expensive (most of us start off on a really tight budget), then get some beta readers.  If anybody reads your published work and points out an error, correct it immediately and reupload the book.  Amazon provides a useful guide how to do this in their help section.

But, if the choice is between spending on a copyeditor or really good cover artwork, go for the artwork.

7. Who does your cover art?

Joleene Naylor.  Worth her weight in gold.

8. Do you do a lot of self promotion? How do you market and promote your work & what do you find are effective methods of self promotion?

Yes.  I’m particularly active on Twitter.  The most effective method of self promotion is to be accessible, friendly, polite and helpful.  That’s to other authors as well as your readers.  As for marketing your work, books are very hard to sell directly.  People prefer to “discover” authors for themselves, or for those known to them to make recommendations.  Being active on the social networks is probably the best way of promoting yourself, but it’s a fine line to walk.  Kindleboards, for example, do not like overpushy authors plugging their work all the time.  By all means jump into discussions, but be mindful not to cross the line.

The most effective method of self promotion is to ensure your name is familiar to people, rather than selling your book all the time.

9. You seem quite proactive in IAN circles.  What are your experiences here?

IAN – the Independent Author Network – is probably where I’m most active right now.  My experiences are good and I’ve made a lot of friends there.  It’s a good place for a new author to go (the only requirement is that you have at least 100 followers on Twitter), and the guys you’ll meet on IAN are a really friendly and helpful bunch.

Another good place for a new author to cut teeth is Twitters #sampleSunday.  That’s where I started out!

10. Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?

Sales peak and trough all the time.  I’ve found it impossible to directly link rises and falls to promotion.  I would say that you need to promote all the time.  There is a large element of luck when it comes to sales.  But keep on promoting.  All you need is the right person to notice, download, read and… hey presto!  You’re selling.  But that right person might be weeks or months in coming.  If you stop promoting, that reader has passed by…

11. What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

Get your book as professionally finished as possible.  That means polished, edited, proofread.  Get the best possible artwork for the cover, and ensure that artwork is unique.  Get involved in social media, such as Twitter, Kindleboards, Goodreads and the like.  Keep writing and get as many books up as you can.  The more books, the greater the chance you’ll be discovered.  Be accessible, friendly, helpful and polite.  If unsure about something, ask questions.  Read the publishing guides and follow what they say.  Avoid shortcuts.

And DO NOT give up!!

12. What lies in store for Nicholas A. Rose?

2012 is promising to be as productive as 2011.  The third and final book of the trilogy, Markan Sword, should be out in the middle of the year and the sequel to Gifted Apprentice should be out at the end of January.  Beyond that, two more trilogies are planned.  Exciting times indeed!

Thank you for interviewing me.

Useful Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Nicholas_A_Rose

Blog: http//ilvenworld.blogspot.com

Markan Throne: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004SBZ16A

Markan Empire: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005OYDNYC

Gifted Apprentice: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005DZ4FJE

Author Interview – Robert David MacNeil

I want to open by saying how glad I am Robert agreed to answer some of my questions. I’m loving Iona Portal so far and thought I’d find out a bit more about him and his work.

First of all let me introduce Robert David MacNeil, author of Science Fiction Thriller IONA PORTAL.

Robert bio pic 2011Robert is a teacher, author, wine-lover, and world-traveler. Over the past twenty years, his travels have taken him from the steppes of Mongolia to the jungles of Thailand, and from the Eskimo villages of Northwest Alaska to le fin del mundo, the “end of the world,” at the tip of South America.  He presently lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas.

Robert has authored five non-fiction books under a different pen-name. His first novel, IONA PORTAL, is currently the top-rated Science Fiction book on Amazon, and #2 in mysteries and thrillers.

Robert is presently working on the sequel, IONA STRONGHOLD.

1. How would you describe yourself and your writing?

Thanks for inviting me to do the interview, Andy. I really appreciate the opportunity.

In my “day job” I’m a writer, speaker, and dean of a graduate school.  I also travel frequently. Several times a year I teach in schools in other countries. As my bio indicates, I’ve traveled to some remote places, including the steppes of Mongolia, the jungles of Thailand, and the remote isles of the Scottish Hebrides-which includes the Island of Iona.  (A lot of these locations turn up in Iona Portal, and the other books of the Synaxis Chronicles trilogy.)

Concerning my writing, I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and to me, that’s the first step in becoming a writer. In high school I got frustrated when I realized I’d read every science fiction book in our hometown library! I read many genres, but continue to love science fiction and suspense thrillers.

2. How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?

I’ve written five non-fiction books under a different pen-name, but my first novel is Iona Portal.  Iona Portal is a SF thriller that views the ancient battle between good and evil through the lens of Science Fiction.  I like to think of it as Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix. 

3. Can you tell me a bit about how Iona Portal came about?

I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural, and in the course of my travels have talked with a lot of people about their experiences. Other cultures are often more open to the supernatural than ours, and I’ve met people with some incredible stories. In the process, I’ve had a few unusual experiences myself. There’s a lot more “out there” than most of us suspect.

Two years ago a friend encouraged me to write a science fiction book about some of these encounters. The result is Iona Portal.

4. What made you self publish your novel and what has the experience been like to date?

I’ve published non-fiction books through traditional publishing houses and assumed I’d do that with fiction, but as I began to research agents and publishers, I found that the ebook revolution has shaken the publishing industry to the core. Sales of traditionally published books are plummeting.  Bookstores are going out of business. Agents and publishers are fearing for their existence. In the light of these new realities I decided to go the indie route and e-publish Iona Portal. It’s harder in some ways. You have to wear a lot of hats. But I’m convinced it’s the wave of the future.

5. Who have you published with?

Iona Portal is now published on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Apple’s iBookstore, and at Barnes & Noble for the Nook. A paperback version is coming out this month through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

6. Did you prepare your e-books yourself? Any pointers?

Yes. It’s not an easy process, but there are some excellent tutorials available online. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing also has some great step-by-step instructions. I’d advise reading several of these tutorials before you begun, then take your time and go step by step until the process is finished.

front cover of Iona portal7. Who does you cover art?

I do all my own graphics. I’m fortunate to have some skills in that area. For those who don’t have those skills, I would definitely recommend getting professional help for a cover design. People really do judge books by their covers.

8. Do you do a lot of self promotion? How do you market and promote your work & what do you find are effective methods of self promotion?

I’ve done most of my promotion thru Twitter.

Twitter is a great tool for marketing, but you need to understand what you’re doing. Some authors think marketing means posting a “BUY MY BOOK!” tweet several times a day. That’s not an effective way to market.

The primary goal of twitter is to engage people and build relationships. I also believe there’s a principle in the universe that says, if you want to receive, you must first be willing to give. It’s the whole “do unto others…” thing, and I’ve found it to be true.

So in addition to promoting my own book, I actively read books of other authors. When I find books I like, I try to promote their books as much as I promote my own. This has brought me into some mutually supportive relationships with other authors I respect, and it has definitely helped in marketing.

9. Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?

Sales peaked after the first week or two when my close friends had all bought their copies. But I’ve tried to be pretty consistent in promotion. Sales picked up by the end of the first month, and have been increasing ever since. This last month, sales more than tripled.

10. What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

Go into self-publishing with the expectation that being a writer is hard work. That’s true no matter whether you publish traditionally, or self publish. If you just write a book and post it on Amazon, it won’t sell, no matter how good it is. No one will even know it’s there. You have to learn to market your book. That’s part of being a writer.

Your ultimate success, of course, will depend on the quality of your book. If your book is dull, boring, or poorly written, it won’t sell no matter how hard you promote it. But if you write a good book, and do a reasonable amount of promotion, your book WILL find its market.

11. What lies in store for Robert David MacNeil?

In one interview, Clive Cussler said he viewed himself more as an entertainer than a writer. That’s my desire also. I want to entertain my readers, whether they’re reading my tweets or my novels. I want to write books that entertain and enthrall, and that open the reader’s minds to new dimensions. If I can do that, I’ll be a happy writer.

Beyond that… I’d LOVE to see Iona Portal made into a movie!  (In 3-D of course!)

My website is http://ionaportal.com/, and my blog is http://ionaportal.com/blog/

Readers can also follow me on Twitter at @RDavidMacNeil

You can find Iona Portal on Amazon here…  http://www.amazon.com/Iona-Portal-Synaxis-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B005IA87WA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313854512&sr=8-1

Author Interview – Faith Mortimer

I am extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to interview author of The Crossing, Faith Mortimer. I think there is a lot of great advice here for other authors so please Rate, Tweet and Like this post to spread the word.

How would you describe yourself and your writing?

Good morning Andy. May I take this opportunity to thank you for interviewing me? I am delighted to feature on your splendid website and I must say I take good interest in your other articles. You publicise lots of interesting views and news to share! Briefly, I am Faith Mortimer, and I live in an old stone-house in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains on Cyprus. Cyprus is a beautiful Mediterranean island and is also known as Aphrodite’s own. I originally come from England and I began writing seriously around 2000, when I had completed a degree in Biology. I realised that after studying for my degree I had found new dedication, stamina and confidence to finally finish my first novel. Before then I had qualified as a Registered nurse (in my twenties) and latterly run my own business from home. I am a qualified Yachtmaster and before we settled in Cyprus, my husband and I explored the seas from as far north as New York down the coast to the Caribbean and Venezuela and then back across the Atlantic into the Mediterranean where we finished our travels in Turkey – a fantastic eight years living on our sailing yacht – just the right place to write books

How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?

I now am so proud to have three published novels under my name and I’m currently working on my fourth, which I’d dearly love to have out for Christmas!

the crossingThe Crossing:
The Crossing was my first novel and covers many genres: action and adventure, romance, wartime hero, family saga and a rite of passage. It took me about two years to write including six months of intense research. It is a bumper book of some 130,000 words and readers tell me they love the characters and the story.

Assassins villageThe Assassins’ Village (a Diana Rivers mystery novel):
The Assassins’ Village is a mystery thriller set in Cyprus and written in an Agatha Christie-like style. The story is about a village of locals and expats. The setting is an open-air amphitheatre and because of some dreadful past secrets one person is found murdered. A whole chain of events is set in motion with some shocking repercussions. Love, hate, sex and retribution all feature in this sinister tale.

children of the plantationChildren of The Plantation (a Diana River mystery novel):
Children of The Plantation” is set in Malaysia. As I lived there as a child I always wanted to write a novel about it. “Children” came to me only this year as an idea and within a couple of months I had a full blown new novel. It’s quite spooky and mysterious and so far the reviews have been fantastic! I had the original idea from a play I starred in and took the story from there. It’s nothing like the play really but it gave me the initial idea. I’ve also written a short story, The Bamboo Mirror; released as a TRUE short ghost story and set in Singapore at a boarding school during the sixties and going back to the occupation by the Japanese. A chilling tale! And finally, my anthology of short stories, Echoes of Life and Love. These feature romance, horror, paranormal and murder! A real good mixture.

The Assassins Village. Can you tell me a bit about how this book came about? I see it did well on Authonomy.com

The Assassins’ Village came about when I was living in our first house in Cyprus. There are a lot of old stories about assassins’ of the mountains and our village was reputedly the original Assassins’ Village. Apparently you could have (and still can) anyone murdered for a couple of hundred dollars! I decided to put this book in eFormat first as I wanted to control the sales and marketing myself. Yes it reached the number one position on Authonomy in November 2010. So far I believe I made the right decision as sales have been great and I believe have not yet reached their potential.

Who have you published with?

I first published with Olympia Publishers of London and now I use Topsails Charter from Southampton.

Did you prepare your e-books yourself? Any pointers?

I write my own books and as I’m a complete dinosaur on the PC I get my husband to prepare the manuscript for publication on Amazon. He’s brilliant at it. The main thing I believe is to make sure you’re absolutely happy that the book is READY for publishing.

Who does you cover art?

I choose my cover art with my husband and then he prepares and finalises it for me.

Do you do a lot of self promotion? How do you market and promote your work & what do you find are effective methods of self promotion?

Yes, I’m afraid I have to do a lot of self-promotion. No one else is going to advertise me and my books. I’m on Facebook with about 1800 followers, on Twitter with 8000, and over 1000 on Goodreads. There are other sites but it all takes masses of time and energy when I’d really much prefer to be writing. I host a blog twice a week, have other guest writers and sometimes put all my books on special offer of just 99c for a period to attract sales. But quite honestly I think most serious readers are wary of ‘cheap’ books and prefer to pay a bit more (up to $5.50 say) for a decent read. I say decent – there’s nothing wrong in hundreds of 99c books but – hey I have to eat and I’d have to amass huge sales to survive on 99c sales full time! I like to think my followers and buyers of my books are friends – I listen to what they have to tell me, what they want and how they feel. This does help sell more.

Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?

Sales do peak when there’s something special going on and then there’s a natural trend of some dropping off. But I’ve found that the more I write and the longer I’ve been around more and more people now know and (hopefully) trust me enough to know a good book when they find one, then the peaking stays higher for longer. Nowadays whenever I promote the peak lasts a lot longer.

What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

Many of my blog posts are about writing and keeping at it. You do need stamina, dedication and confidence when writing. A lot of writers do hit a low in the middle of their books. I’d say if this happens to you then walk away, do something else and then when you come back to it the problem usually has resolved itself.  Don’t give up. Don’t write for others, write for yourself. Your followers and fans will find you, don’t worry. Your life is in your own hands and be true to yourself.

I would also like to tell other authors that you’re never alone in your work. The actual writing is a lonely business, but with today’s technology at our fingertips there’s always someone out there who is willing to give help and advice when you’re looking for inspiration and just need a little friendly chat. I’ve made hundreds of friends on Facebook, Twitter and from followers on my website. Some are amazing and we share loads of news and often trade ideas.

Don’t ever feel you are alone – there is no need to be. And don’t ever, ever give up! If you feel a deep yearning inside then you are going to get that first book written. Good luck and remember I’m always there with a willing and ready ear. If you would like to connect with me feel free to join me on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/FaithMortimer.Author and Twitter http://twitter.com/FaithMortimer If readers want to read over some of my earlier blog posts they’re all on my website – I’ve had some brilliant comments about them.

The link is: http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com

What lies in store for Faith Mortimer?

A Work in Progress – my latest endeavour.  Upon the birth of her baby, Holly, Diana is determined to enjoy her first taste of motherhood. She decides to have a rest from writing until Holly is a little older. As soon as her infant is a few months old, Diana returns to her mother country, England and stays with a cousin of hers, Robert. Robert is a helicopter pilot, with emotional problems of his own and is involved with a woman, Libby whom he rescued during an accident at sea. He recognises in Libby, a character not unlike his cousin Diana and realises she is just as accident prone and seems to be mixed up with some characters who are perhaps not as they appear to be on the surface. Is Libby in danger when she has an intruder during the night? And then there are hints of her being stalked. A series of horrendous attacks on female nursing staff at the hospital where Libby is a ward sister set off a chain of events that reaches an exhilarating climax. Who is the attacker? Is it the hospital porter, Peter, Libby’s enigmatic and superior surgeon fiancé or is it long-suffering and emotionally damaged Robert himself…find out more when “The Surgeon’s Blade” is released in the next month or so!

Author Bio

Faith MortimerFaith Mortimer was born in Manchester and educated in Singapore, Malaya and Hampshire, England. She qualified as a Registered nurse and after some years changed careers to oversee a number of travel and sport related companies.

She is happily married with four children. Once the children attended University, she decided to join them in reading for a Science degree and obtained an Honours Science degree with The Open University in 2005. She believes that the dedication and stamina needed to sit for a degree gave her the confidence to finish writing her first novel. On achieving this, January 2009 saw the publication of The Crossing. This novel is based on a true
incident and Faith thoroughly enjoyed the six months or so research that went into the book and the 12 months writing and editing.

The Crossing is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon.

In 2011  finished  second novel; a murder mystery set in the Troodos mountains of Cyprus.

This 93,000 word novel was posted on the Harper Collins/Authonomy site and out of over 8000 books was chosen in November 2010 to be the Number 1 book! You can read the review here on Faith’s Amazon page.

Faith Mortimer’s novels can be found  at http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com

Ebook Cover Design – from initial concept to latest version

I have spent a little time updating my ebook cover design ready for my debut fantasy fiction novel – Tirfo Thuin.

I thought it would be good to get some feedback on the latest cover and also show some of the earlier drafts. I wanted to show how this has evolved into what it is today. Thanks to John Saunders (@Johns_thinking) for his feedback to flip the character and raven to be forward facing (i.e moving forward in their adventure) and to add some colour back into it.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Would this cover catch your eye?

Latest Version

Tirfo Thuin cover

Progression

The images below show a very early version of this and a few interim jpegs.

Cover design progress

Author Interview – Eric J. Krause

I am extremely pleased to reveal my interview with Eric J.Krause, published author of speculative fiction.

Eric J Krause image1. How would you describe yourself and your writing?
I always describe myself as a speculative fiction writer. I love writing horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I usually write short stories for adults and novels for young adults, though I do plan on writing novels for adults, as well.

2. How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?

I’ve published three books so far, two as only ebooks, and the third as both an ebook and paperback. The first is The Breath of Life and Other Stories. It’s a collection of twenty short stories that have been published in various print and online magazines. The second is The Friday Flash Stories of Eric J. Krause: Volume One. This is a free book available only at Smashwords.com, and it contains fifty flash fiction stories that were originally published on my blog. For anyone not familiar with Friday Flash (or #fridayflash as it’s known on Twitter), it’s an event every Friday where writers publish a flash fiction story (1000 words or less) on their blog and publicize it on Facebook and/or Twitter. It’s a nice community, and I’m thrilled that I’m a part of it, though I don’t post stories as often anymore. My third book is a science fiction/baseball novel called Way Over the Line. It’s written for the upper middle grade audience (10 to 13 years of age). It stars a young boy, Jessie, who loves baseball but is afraid of the ball. He and his best friend, who is a natural at the game, are abducted by a group of aliens who need them to play for their team in the huge Intergalactic Over the Line tournament. Not only must Jessie learn to not fear the ball, but he must also dodge space pirates, who seem to think he’s the key to a prophecy.

Book cover3. The Breath of Life and Other Stories sounds fascinating. Can you tell me a bit about how this book came about?

I published The Breath of Life and Other Stories simply because I wanted to see what the process of creating an ebook would be like. I had the stories sitting around, so I decided why not give it a shot? I played around with the order of the stories, and when I was satisfied, I began the process of creating an ebook.

4. How long did this collection of stories take from start to finish and do you feel you would change anything if given the chance?

It took me probably a month to create the book, though I took my time to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes. The stories were already written, so other than some final edits, all I had to worry about was getting the formatting right. I could have probably had it done in less time, but this was a new experience for me, so I didn’t rush.

5. What made you self publish your novels and what has the experience been like to date?

With my two short story collections, I knew there was no chance of a traditional publisher picking them up, so I decided to publish them myself. As I already said with The Breath of Life and Other Stories, that one was basically a test to see if I could self-publish an ebook. It worked, so I continued. I self-published Way Over the Line mostly for the same reason – I wanted to see what self-publishing a novel would be like. I sent query letters to maybe ten agents, but had no luck. Instead of pressing on (I’ve heard stories of some novels being rejected dozens of times), I decided to simply do it myself. Part of me wishes I would have stuck with the traditional route of agents and publishers, but another part of me is glad the story is out there for people to see. I’m proud of the story, and I’m thrilled when people tell me they enjoyed it, but I wish I would have given myself more of a chance to have it traditionally published so more eyes could see it.

6. Who have you published with?

For The Breath of Life and Other Stories and the ebook copies of Way Over the Line, I’ve published with Amazon for the Kindle and Smashwords.com. Smashwords also has sent them to Barnes and Noble for the Nook, the Apple iBook store, and a few other online retailers. The paperback versions of Way Over the Line are available at CreateSpace and Amazon. The Friday Flash Stories of Eric J. Krause: Volume One is available only at Smashwords, but it is a free download.

7. Did you prepare your e-books yourself? Any pointers?

I did prepare my ebooks myself. Smashwords has a style guide that was very helpful. There are also plenty of free guides to help with preparing a manuscript for Amazon for the Kindle. I followed these to the letter and didn’t have many problems. I don’t have any nice photo/graphic programs, so I constructed my cover images using Microsoft Paint. I would advise against this. If you don’t have a program to construct a nice cover image, I would pay someone to make one for you. I know I will next time I create an ebook.

8. Do you do a lot of self promotion? What do you feel are the most effective methods of self promotion?

My biggest problem is self-promotion. I’m not very good at it. I tweet links to my books every once in a while. I post the links on Facebook occasionally. And, of course, I have links clearly visible on my blog. I know I should do more, and my sales have backed that up. I plan on giving away a couple of paperback copies of Way Over the Line soon, so I hope that will help. I am on Goodreads in the author program, but I haven’t yet taken the time to learn the ins and outs. Basically what I’m saying is that I need to get much better at the self-promotion game for any future self publishing releases.

9. Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?

I have found that to be the case. I think continuing creativity in self-promotion can fix that to a degree. And, as I said, it’s something I need to get better at.

10. What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

The biggest piece of advice I would give a newbie in the self-publishing biz is to have a clear plan of self-promotion in place before publishing. It’s advice I wish I would have taken when I started. Also, make sure the cover to your book is attractive. People really do judge books by their covers, even if it’s all in e-format. These are not mistakes I will repeat next time I self-publish a book.

11. What lies in store for Eric J. Krause?

I have an urban fantasy YA book currently being queried to agents. I’m currently plotting the second book of that series. And after that, I have plenty of other ideas, both for the YA crowd and for adults. I still hold onto the dream of being traditionally published, but I obviously have no problem with self-publishing, so you’ll see my books in print one way or another.

 

For links to all formats of Eric’s books/links to some of his short stories/how to find him on Twitter and Facebook/link to his blog visit his website: http://ericjkrause.com

I hope you found this interview interesting and useful. I certainly did. Please rate/tweet/like this post so other authors can benefit from Eric’s wise words.

Bryce Beattie Interview – Author of Zombie Novel ‘Oasis’

Bryce BeattieI am extremely pleased to welcome Bryce Beattie – author of zombie novel ‘Oasis’ amongst others – as my latest author interview.

1. A quick intro to Bryce Beattie

Born 70 Years too late. Likes big band jazz, audio theater, pulp novels. Wrote a zombie novel. Is working on a sequel.

2. How would you describe yourself and your writing?

Myself – I’m a nerdy father of three that likes writing, jazz, beekeeping, and firearms.

My writing – well I suppose you might say it’s an homage to the pulp greats of years past, guys like Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. There’s lots of action and improbable circumstances and general crazy fun.

3. How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?

I have two books and several short stories published.

The first book is a real estate investment book, and it’s not terribly exciting, but it is very practical. In the real world, I work as a programmer with a family company whose real business is real estate investment. I absolutely hate all the get-rich-quick gurus out there that preach risky and unsound investment methods. I wrote this book with my father kind of as a reaction to those guys.

The second book is my pulp/action/adventure/zombie novel. It’s called Oasis.

The sequel to Oasis is called “The Journey of St. Laurent” and it should be out by the end of the year, assuming I get my butt in gear.

I also have a couple of fantasy short stories that can be picked up for free at smashwords.com or the nook store. I guess I should get those up on Amazon, too.

4. I am particularly drawn towards Oasis out of your back catalogue. Can you tell me a bit about how this book came about?

At the time I was often playing a browser game called “The Urban Dead,” so I had Zombies on my mind. I had long wanted to write a novel, so I started posting chapters on my old wordpress.com blog and picked up a small following. Once you have a couple of people egging you on, you just have to keep going, right?

5. How long did Oasis take from start to finish and do you feel you would change anything if given the chance?

It took over two years to write and edit and such. One thing I would change is that I would carve out some time every day to be writing. It takes me way too long to finish anything.

And then I’m always reading and trying to improve my craft so there’s lots of little things in the book I’d like to change, but at some point you just have to move on and write something new.

6. What made you self publish some of your novels?

Honestly, impatience. I didn’t want the hassle of taking down the first draft from online and writing queries and such. I just wanted to write, get it done, and get it out there.

I did submit it to one publisher, though, and now I wish I had been a teensy bit more patient. The day after Oasis went live on Amazon, the publisher contacted me saying they were interested. *Sigh*

The short stories I self-published so that I could make them free and hopefully get my work in front of more eyeballs.

7. Who have you published with?

I have a couple of short stories published with now defunct magazines, including “Astonishing Adventures Magazine” which was really fantastic for lovers of old pulps.

The self-publishing companies I’ve worked with are CreateSpace, Lulu, and UniBook for physical books, then Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, Amazon’s KDP program, and Smashwords.com for eBooks. I highly recommend CreateSpace for paperbacks (& access to distribution) and UniBook for hardcovers.

8. Did you prepare your e-books yourself? Any pointers?

I do all that work for myself, and have done file prep for a little extra change on the side as well.

However, it’s easy for novel writers to get their work ready for distribution (from a technical standpoint, anyway.) At risk of tooting my own horn, I have a tutorial website where I show how to do all that. (www.HowToSelfPublishABook.org)

I’ve even written a piece of free software that takes a text file and chews it up and spits out all the formats you need to self publish on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and CreateSpace. It’s pretty slick. You may want to tweak that CreateSpace (paperback) output, but it’ll still work as is. You only need to learn how to so some simple formatting to a text file and that’s it. It’s called SPAB! (Self Publish A Book) http://www.howtoselfpublishabook.org/self-publish-a-book/

9. Do you do a lot of self promotion? What do you feel are the most effective methods of self promotion?

I don’t do anywhere near as much as I should. During the periods when I hit the promotion thing hard, my sales definitely jump. I blog and interview authors and such.

There are two things which have worked best, though: Twitter and giveaways.

There’s a glut of ideas out there to help you use Twitter in your promotion without seeming like a slug. The two that I have enjoyed the most and were the most helpful to me were John Locke’s book “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months”, and Michael R. Hicks’s articles (the first one: http://authormichaelhicks.com/2011/09/07/marketing-tips-for-self-published-authors-using-twitter-effectively-part-1/).

The thing that worked much better for me was giveaways. I went on several forums and offered to give away a physical copy or two of my book. No strings attached, no hokey “like me on Facebook for a chance to win” crap or anything like that. Response was fantastic and I earned a couple of rabid fans that went out and mentioned me everywhere. I think this worked because I was never one of those lame guys who signs up for an account and then started four threads that all basically say “Buy my book”. Plus, everybody likes free stuff.

From a financial standpoint I made about 300% almost immediately over the cost of the books by giving those few copies away to the right crowds. And sales kept up higher for longer than anything else I’ve done.

Oh, oh, oh. I almost forgot. After I finish writing Oasis, I also built a site to help set up virtual book tours. I built it specifically so I could set up a tour when I finished the sequel and I wanted an easy way to do so. It’s free to use and located at www.BlogTour.org. I’ve never really structured a full on tour before, but I’m trying it out when I finish the book I’m working on now.

10. Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?

Yeah, I ran out of Zombie-themed forums on which to do giveaways. And became distracted by other pursuits.

Zombie Novel Cover11. Who does you cover art? I love the Oasis cover.

I did the original cover for Oasis and I just didn’t think it really fit the genre I was shooting for. So I set out to find an artist who could do it better. I found him by going on to deviantart.com and browsing around until I found a bunch of artists whose styles I liked and though would fit my book. Then I just messaged all of them (50 or so) and asked if they would consider doing a book cover and if so how much would they charge.

Over then next week or two I heard back from most of them. Several that got back to me had absurdly high rates. A few came back way out of the range of what I could afford. Adam Masterman was the one of the fairly priced group http://www.adammasterman.com/ and is who I ended up hiring. He was fast and easy to work with and I was very pleased with the quality of the covers. I say covers because he’s already painted the cover to the sequel as well.

12. What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

Try not to be freaked out by the myriad options out there. Concentrate on your writing and then make it easy for yourself to distribute your work. Publishing for the Kindle should be a first priority and then the Nook, Smashwords and CreateSpace. The Kindle has the biggest market share but the Nook is giving it a good run for its money. Smashwords distributes to so many places that it’s impossible to ignore.

Warning! Shameless Self Promotion Ahead!

Remember, I’ve got that free software that’ll pretty much do all the text layout work for you, anyway.

So, yeah. Write, write, write.

13. What lies in store for Bryce Beattie?

Next up is a couple of Fairy Tale – type books for my kids and then I’ll concentrate on some novella-length political thrillers that I’ve been dying to write. I’m hoping the shorter formats will make it easier for me to finish in a decent amount of time. If I don’t get something done quick, I get bored and its hard to keep working on it.

14. I can’t leave the interview without asking – ‘Beekeeping?’ How did you get into that and do you find it helps you relax and think through your novel ideas?

My brother-in-law is a commercial beekeeper, and I traded him some site design work for a couple of hives. I did it primarily because I’ve always been paralyzed by my fear of bees and I wanted to prove to myself I could overcome it. After I got to be okay around them, there was no reason to lose the hive. As far as insects with stingers go, honeybees are really quite gentle.

Unfortunately, It doesn’t help my writing in the least, but I do get the best tasting honey in the world. I can’t even stand the store-bought stuff anymore. I’ve become a local, raw honey snob.

Thank you Bryce for your time and your great advice and insights. Everyone please follow Bryce on Twitter @BryceBeattie, check out his site here www.storyhack.com or view more information about his hit novel Oasis here www.zombienoveloasis.com.

Fantasy fiction cover art inspiration

I am looking for some inspiration to make my first fantasy fiction novel cover stand out from the crowd. You can view it here. I would love it if you could comment with links to similar genre artwork, illustrations and illustrators or general sites with examples of interesting book covers.

I have also received some great advice on Twitter such as losing the fancy ‘i’s. Any feedback – good or bad – is appreciated.

Remember, rate the post as well so I know the general verdict on the cover art.

Thanks.

Author Interview – Mike Wells (@MikeWellsAuthor)

I am extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to ask Mike Wells some questions about his writing and publishing experiences.

A bit about Mike

mike wells authorI’m an American bestselling thriller & suspense author and teach in the Creative Writing program at Oxford. Known for my fast-paced, ‘unputdownable’ novels.

1/ How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?

I’ve published over a dozen books. I write mostly thrillers & suspense, but I also write in several other genres – young adult/coming of age, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and even horror.

2/ What made you self publish?

I can’t work as an employee , am completely incapable of it, and except for a few years in my life have always been self-employed. Trying to work with literary agents and publishers is too much like having a job with a company, as due to the intense competition for your spot, you are expected to do what they tell you to do and you have little control over the design elements and marketing of the product you are producing. I simply can’t deal with that–I have to maintain creative & marketing control over my work. I think I know best regarding how it should be done, and usually I’m right (just look at the publication story of Wild Child) Also, having dealt with four different agents and a few publishers over the years, I’m not at all confident they understand what Average Reader wants. Too often they are mistaken about which books have a market, and the size of those markets. By self-publishing, I get to PROVE, beyond any doubt, that my books have a market. And, by taking that risk, I get the bulk of the money made from them. I think it’s very fair.

3/ Did you prepare your e-book yourself?

Yes I did.

4/ Who did you self publish with?

I used Smashwords and also Amazon KDP.

5/ Do you do a lot of self promotion?

I do tons of self-promotion, mostly using Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

6/ Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?

Absolutely. The challenge is to keep the sales up after a given book is no longer “new” and while the market is steadily flooded with more books.

7/ Who does you cover art?

Unfortunately I have to do it myself. As I’m on a super-low budget and have had some graphic design experience, I’m designing all my covers using GIMP (a free package similar to Photoshop). In the future I may opt to pay someone to do my covers (they don’t look as good as yours, Andy, not by a long shot). For anyone who doesn’t have some real graphic design experience, I would recommend using a professional like Andy if the writer can afford it.

8/ What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

Be prepared to take on what will probably be the biggest challenge of your life. Don’t give up when the going gets tough, and it will get tough. The people who persist are the ones who make through those tough spots.

9/ What lies in store for Mike Wells?

Many more books, I have far more story ideas than I could write in a lifetime. I would also like to see some of my books made into films. I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at directing one.

Please offer your support to Mike on Twitter @mikewellsauthor and check out his site: http://www.thegreenwater.com/

You can also purchase some of his books here: http://www.amazon.com/Mike-Wells/e/B004MCEC1U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Books or eBook vouchers for Christmas?

I have read many articles over the last year or so on the success of the eBook and the potential fall of the traditional publisher and physical books. Personally, I can never imagine eBooks taking over completely – just as MP3 has not resulted in a complete demise of the CD and music shops. It is even still possible to buy cassette tapes in certain shops.

Personally, I always used to ask for books for Christmas or, at the very least, Waterstones vouchers. I knew I could always spend those vouchers well and build my ever-growing book collection. However, now I think about it I cannot remember the last time I purchased an actual book. I have downloaded thousands of eBooks from both Amazon and iBooks and have asked for iTunes vouchers for the last few years knowing I would be able to buy many eBooks at 99p each in comparison with maybe a couple of hardbacks for the same total cost.

I think we have reached that point we did with MP3’s where people now begin selling their physical copies on eBay and giving away to charity shops in favour of the digital solution as so many did with CD’s.

Whilst I could not see the complete demise of the traditional publisher and printed books I was curious to know how the statistics compared between sales of hardback/paperbacks and the sale of eBooks over the last few years. I read the Association of American Publishers Press Release for 2010 and was surprised to read that the sales of books, once eBooks were subtracted, was pretty even between 2009 and 2010.

I also discovered a few facts that may interest you:

What do people think? Do you still purchase physical books or do you find the ease and cost of buying eBooks just makes it far more enticing?