Word Counts…

I put out a call last week, asking for suggestions on what to do with this blog. I got one reply — in e-mail (WHY DOES NO-ONE EVER USE THE COMMENT FEATURE?!) — that suggested I treat the blog as a diary, and talk about what happens in my life. I pretty much do that, already… it’s just that there isn’t enough new material each week to make up a new blog every week, and I’d really like to TRY and keep this blog a weekly thing. So I’m still taking suggestions, if anyone has any.

It’s a good thing I don’t give people weekly (or worse, daily) word count updates. People would get really confused. For the first few weeks, I’d post about having written roughly 1k-2k words per day, which by the end of the third week would accelerate to 6-8k per day. My record is about 12k words in one day, though that was long before I went pro.

I’d top a hundred thousand words about the end of the sixth week… and still be going, since most of my books run about 150k words. Usually at 100k, I’d start slowing down, sometimes to a few mere hundreds of words per day.

For In Division Imperiled, however, it got even worse than that. I got to about 130k-140k, which I’d estimate is about 90% of the way done, about three months after I started. Which is what I told anyone who asked — the book was “90% done,” so hopefully it would be finished shortly. And I STILL HADN’T SLOWED DOWN. I was thinking I’d finish the book in a personal record time.

And then I started trying to knit all the parts of the story together for the conclusion, resolving all the sub-plots (at least, all of those which weren’t setting up something for the next book) for the end.

The story wasn’t stalled in the least. I seemed to be adding newer, better subplots in as I was deleting others, and I was making great progress on them. I was still going about 3-4k words per day… but I was pulling about 5-6k per day at the same time.

In other words, I was going backwards.

By the end of the sixth month, I was down to 110k words. That was the shortest it was cut to after hitting that 140k word plateau, but it wasn’t the last time it shrank. I was back to 140k a month later (this was back around August or so, when I was hoping to be finished in a week or two) when I finally gave up on one fairly massive sub-plot that was threaded throughout the book. One whole chapter, and several large partials, wound up being gutted from the book. I was back down to 115k words. That’s a fine length, if the story is complete, but the tear-out left a lot of gaping “holes” in the story that needed to be filled back in. My editor was expecting the book the same week I’d ripped out that subplot, and my writing speed had dropped back down to about 1k-2k. I was fortunate he allowed me to send him a partial manuscript he could work on while I finished. I’ve had a few other cuts since then, but nothing so drastic.

Earlier this week, I topped over the 140k plateau for the fourth time with this book… and I don’t think there are any subplots left that are likely to be ripped out, this time. I still figure about 150k will be the ultimate length. If I’m able to keep going at 1k-2k per day, I should FINALLY be done in a week or two… only three months late. *sigh*

LINKSHARES!

This week, we have a Halloween-themed linkshare!  Memories of the Abyss, by Cedar Sanderson, is a mystery thriller of novella length the author says is perfect for the season.

Also this week, Stephanie Osborn has released the eighth book of her space opera series, Division One, with Phantoms.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

Yet Another Status Report

Well, I’ve got nothing big to talk about this week, so it’s time for Yet Another Potpourri of stuff\Status Report! Woo. *yawn* Hoo.

To start with, I finally got my first report from Tantor about The Merrimack Event‘s audiobook this week. I won’t give out the particulars, but I’ve earned out the advance and am into profit, there, and sales are well into the four figures. Now, there, I’ll give a genuine “woohoo!”

I completed the transition, mentioned a few weeks ago, from having my books transferred from the soon-to-be-discontinued Createspace service into its replacement, KDP Print. The transition went smoother than I feared. If anyone even noticed, though, I’ll be surprised.

The third Law of Swords book is ALMOST complete. I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time I really mean it! (heh; I meant it every time I’ve said it, but I feel a bit more definitive about it). I still need a few solid days of writing, most likely, and those have been hard to come by these past couple of weeks, but I’m REALLY close.

I’m trying to think of ways to make this blog more interesting. A common piece of advice for writers is not to try and market your books to other writers, because writers never have any money; this blog is focused a lot on writing and the business of writing, so… yeah. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.  (Yes, for most of you, this means you’ll have to actually LEAVE A COMMENT in the comment section.  I know it’s hard, but if you want something more out of this blog that’s pretty much the only way you’ll get it.

Link Shares:

Between October 5th and 9th (so, uh, by the time you read this the promotion is half-way done), Cedar Sanderson is giving away her Halloween-themed short story, Sugar Skull.

I’ve mentioned Chris Kennedy and his small press outfit here a few times before.  He’s just released a new anthology in his popular Four Horseman universe, and some of the authors want that link shared as well, so enjoy Tales from the Lyon’s Den.

J.M. Anjewierden (boy, I hope I spelled that right) needs some cash for emergency car repairs, and is hoping to get it by putting all of his books on sale (for a short time only!).  His Science Fiction\Coming of Age story, The Long Black, was highlighted in the link share request.

Cyn Bagley has asked for link shares for three Halloween-themed stories:  Perchance to Dream, Ghostly Glimmers, and Smoke and Mirrors.

And that’s it for this weekend!  Maybe I’ll have something a bit more next week.

Afterthoughts from Eat Local, Read Local

Well, my first dedicated book sale event was yesterday. It left me exhausted (or, well, perhaps a little dehydrated), but it was a good time. Weird internet issues today (wifi’s been spotty, Facebook has been acting up, and when I tried to go to Wikipedia earlier, I was somehow redirected to the Polish version of Wikipedia. I’ve never been to Polish Wikipedia, before, and have no idea how that happened) has made typing an extensive write-up… difficult, but here is a BRIEF summary of my thoughts in the aftermath:

  1.  It was an outdoor event, and advertised as “rain or shine.”  Rain and books don’t mix well, so I was happy to see that it wasn’t raining.  In fact, I dare to say it was the nicest day of the year, so far.
  2. Despite the good weather, the tent I was in had clearly been rained on over the past several days… and it was leaking.  I was a little hesitant about putting my books out for display on a table where dripping water had pooled.  I got the table moved so that it wouldn’t get dripped on as much, and dried it off, but the water was still dripping on my head any time the wind blew.  In order to minimize the risk of getting my books wet, I wasn’t quite able to set up my table the way I wanted.  I’m not sure what could be done to prepare for this sort of thing in future events, but I need to figure out something if I’m ever part of another outdoor book sale.  If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.
  3. I went to this event last year, though as a customer and not as an author.  It was raining off and on that day, and foot traffic was moderate to light (I did not notice any wet author tables last year, but the whole thing was set up differently; tables were arranged differently, it was in a different part of the library grounds (their front parking lot instead of their rear parking lot), it was larger, etc.).  I was hoping that the better weather would result in better attendance, but foot traffic was about what I remember from last year.
  4. The Loudoun County Library’s Eat Local Read Local event took place simultaneously with the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, an almost identical event focused more on indie authors that was taking place about an hour’s drive away from my house (which means it was about an hour and a half’s drive, in the other direction, from the Eat Local Read Local).  I asked an author who was there what foot traffic was like, and was told it was “surprisingly light” there, as well.  At least in terms of total bodies coming to either event, the Eat Local Read Local was about on par.
  5. I did, in fact, sell a few books (not as many as my most optimistic hopes, but not as few as my more pessimistic imaginings), despite the light foot traffic.  I went through a lot of effort to ensure I could take credit cards (using Square), and got stickers and signs broadcasting that fact, but to my surprise everyone paid cash.  I’ll have to remember that if I do it again; I thought I was well prepared, but I almost ran out of spare change.
  6. We (authors) were all assigned to one of three tents, and provided with half of a table each (in other words, we were asked to share a table with someone else).  Our table-partners, with a few exceptions, were assigned alphabetically within each tent.  Just what criteria was used for tent assignment, however, was not clear to me — though I do know we weren’t grouped by alphabet, genre, publishing house, bestselling rank, or in order of when we applied to be part of the event.  Maybe it was random draw out of a hat?
  7. My table partner was an affable character who wrote literary works on school life.  He said he had been to events like this before and had never sold anything at them, but he thought he would give it ‘one more try.’  He then proceeded to spend about five minutes at the table before standing up and wandering off, checking out the other authors’ offerings, then came back for a bit before again wandering off to have a conversation with someone, then came back briefly, fussed with how his books were arranged on the table, and then left for a bit again.  He came back for one last time… to pack everything up and go home with the event half-way over.  I have to wonder if this was typical of his past attempts to sell books at these events, and if that is why he’s never sold anything at them before.
  8. Most authors only brought one or two different titles to sell to readers; I brought multiple copies of all six books that I have in print.  This might have been a mistake, considering I only had half of a table, and my books were a bit crowded together.  Combined with the need to arrange things so that my books were kept dry, I wasn’t able to display them all to their best effect.  My table partner leaving allowed me to spread out a bit, but if I do this event again I’ll have to be a bit more selective in what I bring.
  9. I made arrangements for my sister-in-law to show up half-way through the event (well, actually I’d arranged for my brother to do so, but he accidentally double-booked himself for that day, so she came instead) to take over my table so I would be able to get lunch.  My table-partner had already left by that point, so after buying lunch from one of the food trucks at the event, I took his seat and the two of us worked the table while I ate.  Having someone else there was a great help (though it would have been impossible to have someone with me from the start of the event, as there was normally only room for one person), even if we didn’t have any sales during the brief time she was there.
  10. I got lots of compliments on my book covers.  As an odd phenomenon, I had people taking pictures of my book covers, as well.  I thought maybe they were showrooming, but so far I haven’t seen any sales bumps among the books that were most commonly photographed.  I did see a slight bump in sales of The Merrimack Event in the immediate aftermath of the event, but I don’t remember anyone taking pictures of that book’s cover, so I don’t know if that’s connected at all.
  11. Everyone loved my little Fennec Fox Press stuffed fox-keychains, but no-one wanted to buy one.  I do give some of them away, but I can’t afford to give ALL of them away; I’m only charging the break-even price for them.  Ah, well… I’ve got them for next time, at least.

And… well, that’s all I can think to say at the moment.  No link-shares this week.  So, until next week, that’s it…

Plans for the Immediate Future…

As I’m getting ready for the Eat Local, Read Local event, I’m also finishing off the third Law of Swords book, In Division Imperiled (as I mentioned in the epilog of my last post). (Oh, and my birthday is this Thursday, but that’s unrelated to this post).  Trying to make everything happen at once hasn’t given me all that much time to think about my business plans beyond those few things, but in search of a topic for this week’s blog I spent some time thinking about it, anyway, and made a few decisions. I know this looks like another of my boring old status reports, but you will probably want to pay attention to this blog — I’ve made some important decisions,

To begin with, recapping what I mentioned last week, I’m going to need to find another cover artist soon as the cover for In Division Imperiled flunked with my test audience. I haven’t sent out any queries to any artists, yet, but I have identified a short list of people from varying levels of professional experience to try. Hopefully at least one of them will respond to my query and be willing to work within my budget (which, uh, I need to decide on, as I’ve already used my book cover budget on the flunked-out cover).  Will this delay In Division Imperiled’s release?  Probably not (though it depends how the cover art search goes).  But it may delay my marketing plan.  And to think — for once, I thought I was getting ahead of things by arranging for the cover art even before the book was over, and would be able to do a lot more pre-release marketing than I have in the past.  It’s a shame, but an unsatisfactory cover is… well, unsatisfactory.

Second, once the Eat Local, Read Local event is taken care of, I intend to see if I can’t get an actual store going on the Fennec Fox Press website to sell signed copies of my print editions. Given past print sales, I’m not expecting to do much business through said store, but since I’ve had the website for a while, I’ve got enough books to justify it, and now I’ve got the Square account to take credit cards, and soon (if I can just get the paperwork completed!) I’ll be able to take sales tax, there’s no reason NOT to open such a store.

I’m not sure whether I’ll have anything to offer other than my few books (and possibly some of the little plushie Fennec Fox keychains I was giving away at Ravencon, but I’m still undecided on that), but I might decide to do things like sell some used books, or help my mother sell some of her quilts (haven’t yet discussed this with her; I know she tries to sell some of her quilts off her own page, and I’m not sure how it would work), or maybe I would look into a deal with some of my author-friends to sell their books through my store (the big problem with trying to sell someone else’s work is the legal liabilities; I’d have to turn my little sole proprietorship into an LLC first, so I probably won’t be doing this to start with).  I’ll still have to work out the technical details, but I’m fairly certain I can manage a small web-based storefront, and at the very least all of my signed books will be made available on it.

Third, once BOTH the Eat Local, Read Local event AND the In Division Imperiled manuscripts are completed, I’ll use the library’s new sound recording studio that I surveyed a few weeks ago to begin turning A Gun For Shalla, my story in the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology, into an audiobook with myself as the narrator.  I don’t want this to prevent me from starting work on the next Shieldclads book, however, so I’ll be restricting myself to trying this experimental project just one day a week.

If it works out, then maybe I’ll also try the same thing with The Kitsune Stratagem (the book that I think Tantor, who produced the Merrimack Event audiobook, is the least likely to buy the rights to).  If THAT works out, and I can’t convince Tantor to do the audiobook for the Law of Swords books, maybe I’ll do those, too.  But, at one day a week (at most), that would put those books pretty far in the future, and this post is more for my immediate plans.

Finally… most of the previous things you might have caught in my previous blog posts, but this one I decided just as I was working on this blog:  If you are interesting in buying either of the Law of Swords books in ebook form somewhere OTHER than Amazon (such as through Kobo, Smashwords, or the Nook), you might want to buy them now.  When the rest of In Division Imperiled is off to the editor and I’m ready to start really marketing it, I am going to (experimentally) withdraw my previous books in the series from wide distribution, and see if I can’t put the whole series into the KDP select program for at least one enrollment period (90 days).

I’ve not done this in the past because I’ve found most of the technical issues reported with KDP Select (at least, most of the ones that don’t ultimately turn out to be the result of bad practices on the author’s part, or an author’s advertiser’s part) happen because the author took a book that is already in wide distribution out of wide distribution in order to meet the exclusivity requirement of KDP Select.  I haven’t heard about one of those particular issues in a while, though, so maybe they’ve been fixed?  And, in conjunction with the release of the third book, I think it might make a huge difference sales-wise.

I plan to return to wide distribution before too long, but I thought the same about The Merrimack Event, and the number of page reads I get in a month is STILL too high for me to pull it out of the program and try wider distribution.  Crossing my fingers that nothing goes wrong when I do it, though.

Link Shares!

Well, I’m still going to push for the Starflight 3 crowdfunding campaign.  It’s falling behind the pace it needs to set, but I’m hopeful some investors will come in at the end to save the campaign (which has been hinted, if they can get close), and in the meantime it could use your support.

But I do have actual books, this week.  First there is Billy the Kid, by Link Share regular Cyn Bagley, and is related to some of the EJ Hunter werewolf stories I’ve shared links to in earlier link-share entries.

Second, there is Fire and Forge by Holly Chism, another link-share regular; the third book in her Modern Gods series.

That’s all for now!  I may or may not be taking off next week (depending on how my birthday celebration plays out), but I’ll see you all soon!

Getting Ready for an Event…

Earlier this week, I had a moment of panic when the official webpage for the Eat Local, Read Local library event — an event that I’ve been telling you for months, on this blog, that I would be a part of — went live and, well, my name wasn’t on the list of participants.

An e-mail to the library took care of that quickly enough. There was a miscommunication, but we got it all straightened out, and so yes I’m still going to be there… (and by the time this blog goes out, my name should have been added to the list on that link, as it should have been from the start).  So, if you’re interested, I’ll be selling and signing any of my print-edition books, as well as any swag I have on hand, at the event.  I won’t be alone; there will be many other authors at the event, including (of particular note for fans of the sci-fi\fantasy genre) the bestselling and multiple-award-winning, multi-talented author, teacher, scientist, ballet dancer, and musician Catherine Asaro.

But the issue prompted me to think about everything I’ve gone through so far for what will be my first sales event:

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I took inventory of my books a couple weeks ago. I ordered some copies of the one book that I didn’t have any copies of, but I already had enough of the others to be okay. I also bought a few display stands at the same time — I already had a few for conventions, but I figured I would need more for this event.  They shipped just this morning, but they’re supposed to arrive well before the event.

I also took inventory of my swag. I still have plenty of my keychain-sized stuffed fennec foxes, but not enough of them have the bow ties that include the Fennec Fox Press branding. We have the ribbon on hand, but my mother needs to get her embroidery machine up and running to put the branding on it. I’ll have a few on hand, though, at a minimum, and they’ll be for sale as long as I have a surplus.  I also have some postcards and a few other little things of that nature.

I want to get some additional swag made, though — something cheap enough to give away, but useful enough people won’t toss it in the trash the moment they get home.  Most commonly, when other authors try for this type of swag, it includes things such as pens and refrigerator magnets.  I was hoping the people who did my postcards would be able to make these, but they say that their particular franchise won’t do magnets (though some other franchises in their company will).

There are two alternatives I’ve considered that might be able to do those magnets.  The first, and the more expensive option, is Vistaprint, a business that a number of other authors I know recommend for business cards and the like.  The other is a local option, both on the front-end and in the manufacturing capacities, and it has the advantage of allowing me to REAL PEOPLE about my needs… and it’s cheaper, as well.  I still need to go and talk to the local option before making my decision final; I’ll have to do that soon, though, because there isn’t much time before the event.

There’s also legal stuff. I’ve been running Fennec Fox Press as a sole proprietor with a DBA (Doing Business As, a legal business\fictitious name) from the beginning of my writing career, and will continue to do so (for now, though if I ever bring in other authors for anthologies or the like I’ll be switching to a LLC), but I’ve never needed to bother with the aspects of the business that would put me in a position to have to collect sales tax.  I’ve actively avoided doing certain things because I didn’t want to deal with that, and I didn’t see much short-term return on them.  I’ve been thinking about setting this up for some time, thinking I would maybe try selling some of my books at Marscon or Ravencon earlier this year, but things didn’t quite come together in time and so I never bothered.

For an event like this, however, I’ll almost certainly have to collect sales tax. I have yet to complete all of the paperwork, but it’s in process and I SHOULD have it ready in time. (From a legal perspective, according to the research I’ve done on the local regulations, I won’t be getting in any significant trouble if the paperwork is a little late; I just need to make sure I collect the appropriate tax when I do the sales, and file the paperwork as soon as possible)

And this means I’ll need to set things up to take credit card payments.  I’ve set up a Square account, and I’m waiting on a card reader now.  The card reader is very basic (it’s the one that only works with magnetic strips, not chips), but it should see me through this event just fine.  Long term, once I learn my way around this system, I’ll be able to set up a store for directly selling my books from my website, and maybe replace that card reader with a more modern one that’ll also work with chip-based cards and the like.

So… I’m not ready yet.  I’ve got a lot of things in progress, though, so hopefully, by September 29th (the date of the Eat Local, Read Local event), I’ll have everything done.

And if Loudoun County is just slightly outside of your driving range but you still want to go to a book sales event, you’re in luck.  Turns out on the same day, at the same time, in Fredricksburg Virginia, there’s the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, where Martin Wilsey, one of the other authors of the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology, will be selling his wares.

Meanwhile, a PARTIAL manuscript for the next Law of Swords book is with the editor.  I had to rip out an entire subplot right before deadline, in order to make things work in the conclusion, and that’s going to involve re-writing two complete chapters and portions of several others.  That has delayed completion a little, but if I can win the race of finishing those rewrites before he reaches the end of the portion of the manuscript I’ve already sent him, I ultimately won’t lose any time.

The book will certainly be out before the end of the year, regardless… (though, sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be out before the Eat Local, Read Local event.  Ah, well).  It may not have the cover that I showed off earlier this year, though — my test-audience doesn’t like that cover for a variety of reasons.

I hired a skilled and experienced artist, and liked the artwork myself, but I did have a few reservations.  I thought the problems I had with all had to do with the change of style — no-one is going to match the style of the original artwork perfectly — but the test audience I’ve shown it to has several objections, some of which I share.  None of them, surprisingly, are about the subject of the cover; mostly it’s about the coloring, the proportional size of the dragon, Euleilla’s hairstyle, and the texture of the stonework on the castle wall), so I may need to replace that artwork.  Which probably will mean a new artist search.  I’ve still got that cover as a fall-back, though.

As far as the next Shieldclads book is concerned (something I know many visitors to my blog are interested in), I’ll be starting that as soon as I’m done with the Law of Swords manuscript and can get the rest of it off to the editor… though, by now, I’ve learned better than to try and predict a completion date.

Link Shares

I don’t think there are any link-shares this week (something may have come in this morning, but I can’t check right now), so instead I’ll use this space to plug the crowdfunding campaign for Starflight 3.  The fondness I have for the original games has me pushing for this to succeed, though the fundraising target they’ve set has me worried for it.  If you’re willing to help me support a sequel to one of the very best PC computer games of the 1980s, please look into it.

Createspace is Going Away…

I started the week not knowing what I would post this week, but figured — with Dragoncon happening, and roughly half of my Facebook friends at Dragoncon — I would have something to talk about by the end of the week.  Turns out I do have something to talk about, but it has nothing to do with Dragoncon after all.

It’s been rumored for months, but the shoe has dropped and its no longer just a rumor. The POD service that does my print editions, Createspace, is being phased into KDP Print.  Now, you could go through that link to read some of the details, but honestly it’s probably more than you want to know.  It won’t be happening right away, though, as apparently they’ve been having issues with the migration and the “tools” needed for authors to make the transition smoother are being restricted to specific authors in batches; I still don’t have the ability to access those tools, and it may be weeks before I get them.  However, by all accounts Createspace will be no more by the end of the year.

So, what does it mean?  Not much to you.  Depending on how smooth the transition goes, there may be zero disruption of sales or it may be my print books will be taken off the market for as much as two-to-three days.  Most likely, it’ll be offline for a few minutes and that’s it.

To me, for now, it means a little administrative work.  Some of my record keeping might need to change.  I don’t think this will have any effect on any of my eBooks, so if you’re like the majority of my customers it won’t matter (the ratio has improved slightly, but I’m still selling something close to a 200-to-1 ratio of ebook to print book).  If you want to buy print copies of my books and you live somewhere OTHER than the United States, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be able to get it (KDP Print and Createspace have had two different “territories” they would distribute books to; those territories are being merged along with the two companies).

This won’t effect me much, but the distribution merger can result in some oddities you might find from other indie authors.  For example, IF I had a Japanese-language translation of my books, you could get it in Japan… but only if the text is written in Romaji (the English-language alphabet and not kana or kanji (the Japanese ‘alphabet,’ or rather syllabary).  Japanese characters and fonts are not supported, even if distribution to Japan is.

That doesn’t mean the only changes you’ll see are a few minutes when my books won’t be on sale and some added distribution.  The other changes may not show up for a while, however; they don’t need to be done right away, and they’ll take some doing, so they can wait until I’ve finished the current projects I’m working on.

From my previous experience with KDP Print, I know that they have slightly different cover design requirements (things like KDP Print is less flexible with where you place the ISBN code).  So, some time in the next few months (probably to coincide with the release of In Division Imperiled, the third book of the Law of Swords series) I’ll be tweaking the cover a bit so that the designs of the new books and the old books will match better.  The old cover art will be used for all of the old books (well, with the possible exception of The Kitsune Stratagem.  I like the current cover art, but based on the criticism I’ve received, I’m coming to the conclusion that one big reason it has been such a slow-seller compared to my other books is the cover art), but there will be slight differences to all of my major print books to conform better to KDP Print design standards.

The interiors should remain the same, though, regardless, so if you already have a copy there won’t be a point in buying another one… though I won’t object if you do.  If you were thinking of buying one, though, and haven’t, (for any of In Treachery Forged, In Forgery Divided, The Kitsune Stratagem, or The Merrimack Event), and you would like the old cover, you probably should buy one now.  (It shouldn’t matter much, but if my books ever become collectables these older covers should be worth more).

Now that they’ve added many of the features I was missing the last time I tried it out, I think KDP Print will work out fine once the transition is complete… but I’ll miss Createspace.

Link Exchange

Just two things again, this week.  And I was worried this link exchange thing was going to bury my blog…

From Cyn Bagley, the third book of her EJ Hunter series (the previous two having been featured in prior blogs), Diamond Butterfly.

From Holly Chism comes a short story collection, Normalcy Bias.

Taking Inventory

While I haven’t heard anything from it since I was told I would be part of the event, I’m still looking ahead to the “Eat Local, Read Local” event, which will be at the Cascades (Loudoun County, Virginia) Library on September 29th. It will be the first sales event I’ve been to as an author (sales events typically involve print books, and while I do have print editions for most of my books they aren’t a big part of my income, so it’s never been a priority), and while I know how these sorts of things work (more or less) there are a few details I don’t know.

For example, I have no idea how much inventory I will need. The advice I’ve read always seems to suggest I refer to “similar events” or “past performance of others at the event” (I’ve never been part of a “similar event” as this, and I have no idea what other people who’ve been part of this event in the past have sold), so it’s pretty much useless.

Maybe, if I could track down some other writers from last year’s version of the event, I could get some sort of idea… but that would take time, and (given Createspace’s infamously slow shipping times) I need to decide, soon, if I need to order more copies of any of my books.

I almost always buy a batch of my own books right after publication, even if I’m not selling then. Having a few copies I can give away to friends and reviewers, or show off in front of a panel at a convention, etc. just makes sense. So I have some in stock… but I’ve not really been keeping track of how many I’ve given away, nor (off the top of my head) do I know how many I’ve ordered. All I been concerned with is “I’ve still got enough.” So, I had to take inventory.

According to that inventory, available for sale at this coming event I have:

In Treachery Forged: 8 Copies
In Forgery Divided: 6 Copies
The Kitsune Stratagem: 7 Copies
The Merrimack Event: 7 Copies
Worlds Enough, Fantastic Defenders: 6 Copies (actually 7, but the seventh isn’t for sale as it’s the only copy I have signed by some of the other authors)
This Book Cannot Make Any Money: 0 (uh… probably should order a supply of those)
Total:  34

(I also have a supply of old proofs and misprints for all of those books, but they aren’t for sale).

With the exception of “This Book Cannot Make Any Money,” I think I’m actually fairly well stocked for now.  I don’t want to lug much more than that around with me, at any rate.  Do any writing veterans reading this think differently?  Should I buy more copies of anything?  Could I leave some at home and lighten the load?

And, for those who AREN’T writing veterans, I’ll let you know how things go. But that won’t be for a month, so keep this post in mind…

LINK SHARING

As last week seemed to work, I’m going with text links only.  The only two new link-share requests, this week, are sequels to earlier link-shares, so I won’t bother breaking them down by genre.

As the sequel to last week’s “The Godshead,” Holly Chism presents “Highway to Tartarus.”

And as the sequel to last week’s “She Called it, Wolf,” Cyn Bagley presents “Dark Moon Rising.”

Enjoy!

 

Library Services

I’ve long tried to write this article before, either on its own or as part of a larger article, but I always seem to get side-tracked and never seem to get my point across.  As related, below, I wound up doing something this week that may finally help me get it out there.  Here’s hoping it works, this time.

Earlier this week, I took my mother to a particular branch of my local public library. As background, my mother is an competitive art quilter (if you’ve been around long enough, you’ll probably have heard me mention that point before) who incorporates some pretty high-tech tools in her quilting. Sewing and embroidery machines with advanced computerization, a long-arm quilting machine, computer-aided design software and hardware (including printers which are designed for printing on fabric, scanners, Wacom pen-tools and tablets, and lots and lots of embroidery and quilting software).

One thing she doesn’t have, however, is a type of cutting tool called a curio or cameo cutter.  But, it turns out, one of the local branches of the public library does

I’d never been to this particular branch, so I went along.  I was surprised to find that the librarian was actually quite skilled with the device (my past experience with public libraries — as opposed to academic libraries — is that often they acquire interesting pieces of technology or software, but the librarians find themselves out of their depths when it comes to using them), and my mother managed to get everything done with it that she needed it for.

But the library has more there than just the cameo cutter.  If you notice on that list of “features” in the library branch, there’s something there called a “sound studio with electronic instruments.”  I went and took a look at it, again just expecting a large room with glass walls (just like most of their “Study Rooms”) with some low-end recording equipment and maybe a couple cheap electronic music instruments in it.

What I found was a room the size of a small closet… but also high-quality sound-dampening insulation on the walls, a special, heavy-duty sound-proof door, and recording gear that was actually professional grade.  I think there was also an electronic piano or something like that in there, but I couldn’t go in and take a look at the time.  Whether there was a piano or not, however, it wouldn’t be acceptable as a recording studio for musical performances — it was far too cramped.

But it would be absolutely perfect for audiobook recording.  And (unlike something I was told when querying about an older recording studio in another branch of this library system, which was much like how I envisioned this studio would be) they have technical expertise, there, to help people get set up.

I am thinking of trying to shop my larger books to Tantor (as audiobooks only; I’m not planning to sell them my other rights), so that they will be produced by the same people who did the successful audiobook version of The Merrimack Event, but I don’t think my shorter fiction will go there.

I still haven’t quite finished book 3 of The Law of Swords, but once that’s done I think I might see if I can’t record myself reading A Gun for Shalla.  And now I know where to record it.

So, if you’re a writer, or some other type of creative, and you’re missing resources for some aspect of your career, you might want to check your local library.  Not every library system is as well equipped as mine, but some are even better… and maybe, even if they aren’t, your librarians may know where to go.


Link-Sharing

Well, after some technical issues from last week’s link-sharing post (it seems ad-blockers were preventing the links from showing up for some people), I’ve decided to change the links from text-and-graphic to just text.  That should also help reduce their footprint, which should make the link-sharing section less likely to take over the whole post.

Science Fiction

By Laura Montgomery comes a pair of what I believe should be classified in the “Sword and Planet” sub-genre of science fiction, though perhaps with harder science than some.  She is looking for a boost among sci-fi readers, especially:

Sleeping Duty
Out of the Dark

Fantasy

By Cyn Bagley, an urban fantasy novel dealing with werewolves.  She says that she’s pushing it as a re-launch, after heavy revisions and updates.

She Called It, Wolf

By Holly Chism, another urban fantasy novel, this time dealing with a forgotten god from the mythological pantheons (or at least the North pantheon, because the summary mentions Loki).

The Godshead

Linksharing

Remember how, last week, I mentioned a Facebook effort for authors to share links to their books? It’s now active.  VERY active (I’m hoping the volume dies down as time goes on; it seems to have, but whether it’s hit manageable levels or not, I’m not sure).  If the volume doesn’t go down, I’ll have to think about how to handle this.  I originally thought this would all be a footnote to this week’s post, but it grew so long that, even restricting it to fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history, it became an entire post itself.  I don’t want this blog to become nothing BUT link-shares, so either the group needs to slow down some or I need to revise how I’d planned to do this.

Keep in mind this is merely link-sharing, not endorsement (got that, Amazon?  It’s JUST link-sharing, not endorsement, not an attempt to “manipulate the sales rankings” (whatever that excuse for de-listing authors was supposed to mean), JUST sharing a bunch of links), so I suggest you use the blurbs and sample chapters to help you make purchasing decisions.  That’s what those features are there for, right?

Fantasy:
Kenton Kilgore describes his debut YA Fantasy novel as “Little House on the Prarie… but with dragons!”

L.A. Gregory presents her debut novel, a YA “Sword and Sorcery” fantasy novel dealing with shapeshifters.

In the subgenre of “YA Medieval Fantasy”, a book by Blake Smith.

In the Sword and Sorcery subgenre, a book by Cyn Bagley.  The first book in this series was well received and sold reasonably well, but its sequel hasn’t caught on, yet:

Science Fiction:
From Cynthia Bagley, the author describes this as a short fiction piece with a comedy component.

From Stephanie Osborne, this (the seventh in the series; the Facebook group also had other books in the set listed, but there is no one link to the series at this time) is described as “Spy SF with a touch of Space Opera.”

This Two-fer is listed as a science fiction on Amazon.  From the description, I’d think it was fantasy, but I’m guessing the author knows the difference….

Described by the author as “part mil-sf, part space opera,” a book by Amanda S. Green (under the not-so-secret psuedonym Sam Schall).

Hey, it’s another Space Opera!  By Pamela Uphoff.

Alternate History:
The author (Ron S. Friedman) lists this as ‘Science Fiction\Alternate History,’ so I’m inlcuding it here.  It sounds like it’s really time travel, though.

Kacey Ezell’s Minds of Men. This is already up for a Dragon Award, but is out-of-genre for her usual audience, and she’s particularly hoping to ‘train’ Amazon’s also-bots to recommend her book to readers of Alternate History instead of just her usual military science-fiction readers.  So, for this next week or so, she mostly wants to push this at people with a history of reading other alternate history novels.  Keep that in mind if you’re checking it out.

Odds and Ends

A wrap up of a number of things I’ve wanted to talk about over the past few weeks, but which I didn’t have enough to talk about to justify a seperate blog post…

1. Author Earnings recently made a “state of the market” presentation to the Science Fiction Writers of America at their annual Nebula conference. There’s been some discussion that the market for science fiction and fantasy was dying, but that doesn’t appear so. Seems instead that it’s the untracked market of self-published\indie writers taking over to explain the supposed “decline.”

2.  I had a moment where I was worried my books had completely dried up — no sales and almost no page reads for several days in a row.  Turns out reporting was just down (or broken, in my case; I was showing a slight trickle, but only a small fraction of what I should have been getting) and page reads and sales went back to my typical numbers once it was fixed… (though it still seems a bit unstable).

3.  While I occasionally express controversial opinions on some subjects on this blog, I have a policy of never discussing anything contentious from a political or religious perspective.  (I may occasionally mention sports, but not to argue).  Occasionally, things come up I REALLY want to talk about, but… no.  Not going to say anything.  I will say, though, that I think while some people on all sides have had success bringing real-world politics into the BUSINESS and or MARKETING of their writing, but unless you’re already well-established, I think in a long-term sense it is a poor strategy for MOST writers.

4.  It’s been out for a year, so I just got my first royalty payment for Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders.  It hasn’t sold very well, so far, but it’s been well-received by those who have bought it.  Also, the period of exclusivity for my short story (novella, technically, I think) in that anthology is over, so I can publish “A Gun for Shalla” elsewhere, if I want.  Hm.  It would require its own cover, probably need to be re-formatted, etc.  I’ll think about it, but it’ll have to wait until I’m done with the next Law of Swords, first.

5.  Apparently, there’s been some kerfuffle about someone claiming a .PDF file is not an ebook.  This is foolish, because it IS an eBook, and has been an eBook format longer than any of the more common eBook formats used, today.  It’s not a great eBook format (at least, unless your eBook has certain technical requirements), and the format is far better used to prepare your print book, but that doesn’t negate the fact its an eBook.

6.  I met up for lunch, earlier today, with David Keener, a fellow author (who was also the project manager) in the aforementioned “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders” anthology (there was someone else there, too, but I’m afraid I didn’t ever catch his name).  We criticized a few authors who are wildly more successful than we are (heh), talked some about where each of us are in our writing careers, recommended the odd book\movie\TV show or two to each other, etc.  As we were leaving, he mentioned another anthology project he was thinking of that my silly story involving the robot cook-turned-burger flipper-turned-detective (which you can find a portion of in This Book Cannot Make Any Money) might be a good fit for.  So maybe I should finish that up, at some point… but, uh, first I think I need to finish the next Law of Swords and Shieldclads novels.  At any rate, it’s nice to be able to talk shop with other authors, now and then.

7.  I’m on a particular writer’s Facebook group who is talking about setting up some sort of link-sharing for authors’ mutual book releases or something like that.  I may get involved in that, in which case I’ll be sharing some of those links on this blog… but we’ll see whether this effort actually turns into anything or not.  She just sent out the feelers for it today.

And that’s it for this week.  Tune in next weekend, same blog time (roughly), same blog URL (well, you wouldn’t call it a channel, would you?).