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I have known for a while that an Indie Publisher’s work is never done. I’m living the dream baby! Yeah! So much to do!

Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part Four was uploaded today and is now live on Amazon. I’ll pop by tomorrow and update the links in the My Books section. Next steps. I’ve booked Bloodstorm in for Smashwords formatting. I really don’t know why I bother because I don’t sell books on Smashwords, but you never know! I could be wrong.

Tomorrow evening I start the layout for the print version of Bloodstorm. I need to get that done and printed before I leave in 14 days. Yes, I’m off to Worldcon 75 in Helsinki in exactly 14 days. I’m so stressed. There is so much to do! But I’m also excited to be going. I just got back from New Zealand yesterday. I had an interesting trip stranded in Wellington during a storm. Lucky some SF friends came to the rescue. Thank you Lynelle and Ross! I would have been so sad, and wet and cold, without you. Photos for another post.

Tomorrow I’m back at uni and I have so much to do!

Now specials. I asked Escape Publishing to put Spiritbound (a Dani Kristoff novel) and Rayessa and the Space Pirates on special. That’s right people. 99 cent until 31 July so get in quick. This is a rare event. I don’t think Spiritbound has ever been reduced before and Rayessa was last 99 cents years ago.

The only links that seem to work for me is Amazon and iBooks.

Here we go:

Rayessa Amazon  iBooks.

Spiritbound Amazon   iBooks

Or try Escape Publishing for other retailers.

And if you want to try Argenterra,  The Silverlands Book One, which is an portal fantasy, it is on Instafreebie for free. Instafreebie require newsletter sign up. Link.

If you want to try Shatterwing, Dragon Wine Part One, my dark fantasy series, it is on Instafreebie for free. Instafreebie requires newsletter sign up. Link here.

And I have The Sorcerer’s Spell by Dani Kristoff for free on Instafreebie. This is a sexy paranormal romance. Link.

 

I sent out a newsletter today announcing that Rayessa and the Space Pirates was 99 cents. However, I fear that it is not 99 cents in all retailers and countries. I’m working to fix this. I don’t own the rights to this book so much work through my publisher.

Also, I meant to have a link to Anna Hackett’s Gladiator but that doesn’t appear to work. Doh!

I read Anna Hackett’s On Barbarian World and loved it. It was a bit like a PC version of Johanna Lindsay’s Warrior’s Woman. Well worth the read. That book isn’t on special at the moment, but at under $4 it’s a good deal. Anna has a few special deals going.

Book 1 of Hell Squad is free. Amazon

And Gladiator, the first book in her Galactic Gladiator series is only 99 cents. Amazon

If you like sexy SF romance and action love stories then try some of Anna’s work.

On a personal note, I’ve been in NZ. I’m still in NZ. I was in Wellington and got stuck there during a massive storm. Three goes at getting a plane, after flight cancellations etc. Third time lucky.  I am in Auckland now but having a truncated holiday. I’ll be back in Wellington Monday and back home to Australia Tuesday.

I have mixed feelings about writing this post. On the one hand I think my experience will be useful to some of you and on the other hand you will see how poorly my I am doing. However, having said that, I don’t feel down, I feel enthusiastic. It is early days! If you are doing this writing thing then there has to be a bottom line for you. This is mine.

I love writing stories and I’m looking for people who like to read them.

And if they like them maybe they want to buy some of my work and read more and then I can write more…

Having said that I have been working on my story writing skills since 2000. I’ve put in a lot of hard yards and I’m hoping that it will pay off, because I love reading and writing stories.

So first of all this first six months of 2017 have been a hell of a ride. I had a personal problem that knocked me for a six. (This is a cricketing term btw). It means I was totally laid bare, huddled in a stress coma for months. Having indie publishing stuff to do was probably useful in that time. I had everything written, it was edits and stuff that I had to plow through. That was also hard work. It is fortuitous, too, that I had planned all this in the first six months of the year because I’m going to New Zealand for a couple of weeks in July and then to Europe for a couple of months in August. (see earlier post about winning the GUFF ballot). I hit the ground running again at the end of September, with Conflux in Canberra, where I might have a table if I can get print files ready etc.

The first thing is my tally.

The Silverlands Series is out. Argenterra published April 2016. Followed by Oathbound (March) and Ungiven Land (May) in 2017.

Republished The Sorcerer’s Spell (under Dani Kristoff) 2017. Originally published by Harper Collins, Impulse Imprint.

Published Opi Battles the Space Pirates (written November, 2016 published February 2017)

Republished Shatterwing and Skywatcher, Dragon Wine parts one and two. Originally published by Momentum Books, Pan macmillan Australia). These were taken down before I was ready so I had to do a made scramble to get them re-released. So much pressure.

Published Deathwings, Dragon Wine Part three. Published in June 2017.

Soon to be published, Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part four. Due July 2017.

Indie published tally first half of 2017 EIGHT. (Original fiction Five  Re-released Three)

Indie published tally total NINE books.

In words, I have to estimate. Original fiction over half a million words. All up, three quarters of a million words, this year.

I also have a short fiction collection in progress, but I am not sure when I’ll get to that. Soon!

So now to the outlays. Editing, proofreading, file conversions and covers. These are the capital costs and I don’t expect to earn this money back unless the series takes off and then you know I will, but in the mean time they a like assets. They earn some return, or are expected to. But they can earn for years. The previously published works were edited and proofread by me. Opi was edited and proofread by me and a family member. The rest was professionally edited and proofread.

Scribbling on the back of an envelope, let me tally up the approximate outlays. Two editors, one proofreader and three cover designers. File conversions for Smashwords. I can do this myself but it aggravates the RSI so I paid for some titles to be formatted.

Editing —————$6,250

Proofreading——$1,650

Covers—————$3,500

File conversions– $300

_______________________

$11,700 Australian

Then there are some ongoing costs.

I use Instafreebie to gain newsletter subscribers (as well as this blog). Once past the free month, it costs $20 US per month.

Now that I have more than 2000 subscribers I had to choose an email management service. That is about $180 per year so far. I paid for a year in advance with enough room to grow my list.

Website $100

I sub to Creative Suite so that’s about $20 US per month.

I bought some deposit photo images about $39.99 for a year or for 100.

ISBN’s ($88 for ten)

File fees if I use Ingram Sparks (don’t have cash atm)

Paid promo. I’ve paid for a Bargain Booksy twice. I was refunded once to low uptake. So far that’s a negative ROI. I may have paid for something else but can’t remember and I’d have to go look.

I have used AMS ads on Amazon. I have found this has got me no returns at all. But I’m new to this. I’ve probably spent $20 US on this with zero sales. One person did buy a book then refunded straight away.

Facebook ads. A couple of ones that were crap (my fault). FB ads are pricey so it pays to research how to use them effectively. I figure I’ve spent maybe $50 but won’t be spending more until I learn some more about marketing.

I have put in for promo prizes. Probably around $20 US. I’m not sure that helps but I’m not adverse to it. I’d rather have email subscribers who want to be there on my list as much as possible.

Goodreads. I’ve only done Giveaways twice now. I don’t think it did anything for me. I did get a one star rating from someone. A four star on one book and a three star review that complained about Opi being riddled with errors. I checked and there were a couple but it was mostly because of US/English issues. I have heard Goodreads advertising is good but I haven’t tried it yet. The costs of the promo are the books and postage. So this year that was around $60 as I used Book Depository to post direct. Last year I used Amazon and it cost me around $120 for three books.

Bookbub. I’ve submitted three times and was rejected. I have one pending a decision. These are the top dog of book advertising and sales. I will keep trying. Once you are rejected you can’t apply with that title for a month. But I have been told you can apply with a price say 99 cents, then for free if it is knocked back. Having more than one series is helpful for that. If you are giving your book away for free, you need to have a pay off, hence a series and possible sell through. A single book you don’t have much to gain, I reckon. Costs vary but upwards of $500Au.

Kobo promotions

I see this as a really positive thing. If you are listed on Kobo you can ask them for a promotions tab and then check out their offers for promotion. Some are pay up front and give your book for free, but others are 30 per cent off (applied at the check out) so you don’t put your book down in price and you share your royalty with them. Others you can do price knock downs. I use the last two. I haven’t had a big success but I have had sales. I figure if you don’t promote no one knows you are there.

Newsletters and Instafreebie

I figure that I’m building audience. So Instafreebie, I have three books up there at the moment for free and two email lists, one for Dani Kristoff called Spellcaster featuring paranormal romance and one for fantasy/dark fantasy called Wing Dust. I have about 1000 subs on Spellcaster. I found my paranormal romance had a faster download rate from Instafreebie, than the fantasy. I have around 1200 on my fantasy list. I’ve given away 3000 books so far. People download your book and you ask them to sign up to your newsletter. They can unsubscribe and they do but not all of them. Doing newsletters was hard at first, but there are people on the end of that email. Some write back to you and it’s nice. If you give away the first book in your series then potentially that person will read it and maybe like it. I find Instafreebie good because people who are on it want books to read. Whereas in my previous experience it can be hard to give your book away and if it is downloaded it may never be read. With a newsletter you can reach out to people who have your book, some of them read it and go on to read more of your work.  See my bottom line. I’ll put it here again.

I love writing stories and I’m looking for people who like to read them.

So newsletter wise I am small and I have to grow my list. I think newsletter are good for all writers because it allows you to keep in touch and let them know when books are coming out etc. I include recommendations of books I’ve read, also freebies and cross-promotions from other authors. I’m probably too chatty but I’m learning.

Free cross promotion. Mostly I participate in these to reach more subscribers with my Instafreebies, but I have also had excellent help from Indie gurus like Patty Jansen who has a newsletter ‘Ebookaroo’ for announcing new releases and special deals. Other people will cross promote you too if you are organised. I’ve done more promoting of other people than they have of me, but that’s because I’m a bit disorganised. It works though.

General Twitter and Facebook etc is still normal for me. As I am addicted to these I only use them for promo sparingly. Facebook groups dedicated to indie publishing and instafreebies are where I get a lot of help and information. My experience FB and Twitter promo don’t help you sell books. I use them to let people know about my publishing but my friends aren’t my audience. Friends will buy your first book but then it is only those that like your work that will continue to buy books. If you try to hard sell them you lose your friends. I’d rather have my friends. Ditto other authors. You just annoy them. You have go find your audience elsewhere.

Results!

Well for the first time I will make over $70  $90 $96 in a month (will I make $100). I think that’s the Australian dollar equivalent. My biggest month previously was around $20. But now I have all the books up and out bar one. My last two traditional publishing royalty statements have been zero!

Where have my sales come from?

Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play. Nothing from Barnes and Noble since earlier this year.

What’s hard and what’s easy?

The hardest things for me have been commissioning and commenting on cover art, newsletters and anxiety. (Anxiety about my work being good enough and how it will be received-normal for any author)

Newsletter content is easier for me than it was, once you do it, then it is easier. That first one was a hurdle. But I need to do more work on learning code, presentation etc.

The administration side is pretty heavy. It was really stressing me out until I woke up to myself. I was a public servant. Admin is my thing. So I stopped stressing about it. Now I don’t mind it at all and I get to do things when I’m not feeling creative, including formatting books for print, proofreading, checking out cross promotions, researching indie publishing and so on.

The easiest things? Spending money! I’ve run out now so I have books that I could be working on but no money for editing, proofreading or covers. Unless I get a job. But as I’m going away I will have to try for a day job in October, part time that is. Or my books start earning. If books start selling then I can think about reinvesting that money into more books. I have an SF romance and a steampunk series, plus more dragon wine and loads of other ideas. I have to be positive that something will allow me to keep publishing and to a good quality with editors and proofreading and covers.

Writing. It’s easy as I’m writing for me and for the readers too, but I’m free. It’s a mental thing. I still have an agent and I’ll still keep trying the traditional publishing route, but PhD means I have other stuff to do, like writing the PhD novel. Once past the PhD I will be focused solely on the writing.

Hanging out on the internet! Easy to spend time on that.

Anyway, I hope this was useful to some of you.

I’ll finish up with the covers of the Dragon Wine series because they are so awesome.

The title of this blog post says it all really.

I still feel a bit of trepidation putting more Dragon Wine out. I guess is it because the series meant a lot to me personally and it’s kinda  a raw exposing it by publishing it myself. I never thought I’d come all arty and stuff but there you go. Donna is being precious. But I’ll get over it.

I’ve been so lucky with the covers of the series now all complete, even the books I haven’t written. Many thanks to Frauke and Crocodesigns and to Aarjaun who recommended her. If you want to check out Crocodesigns.

You will see that I changed the naming convention when I brought out Shatterwing and Skywatcher, calling them ‘parts’ instead of ‘books’. I think that reflects what they are. I have also brought out a box set of Shatterwing and Skywatcher, called Dragon Wine Volume One, which works out cheaper than the individual books. Grouping them together is more like how they were intended to be read.

That being said, Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part Four, is currently being revised by me. I’m taking up the editorial suggestions and I’m dealing with the big finale ending. So close I can taste it. Then it will go for proofreading. I expected Bloodstorm to be out by July. Not long. I will feel massive relief when that is out. I will then put out a box set, Dragon Wine Volume Two.

So that leaves the last two parts. I have been writing notes. Lots of notes but the last two parts will take planning and I’m going to start on that. I have a PhD novel to write, to draft at least, and maybe after that is done I’ll have the head space to tackle the Dragon Wine concluding parts. Of course, if people read and like, Deathwings and Bloodstorm, I’ll be very motivated to conclude the series faster.

There is also this other idea for a book called, Moonbinders, that is floating around in the back of my head with the cobwebs and the dust. And then there could be a prequel, covering the life of Trell of Barr with a guest appearance of Nils. Oh to have too many ideas and not enough time!

The cover again and the blurb.

Deliciously dark fantasy…Deathwings, Dragon Wine Part Three

“Shatterwing has all the fantasy ingredients I love: tormented heroes, a truly twisted villain – and a brand new take on dragons!” Glenda Larke, (award winning author of The Stormlord Trilogy)

“Dark and compelling, with strong characters and a sense of grim inevitability that pulls you along with the story.” Craig Cormick, (award-winning author of the Shadow Master Series.)

Life on the ravaged world of Margra is more difficult than ever… Salinda and Garan blasted the evil Gercomo into the sky. Except … he didn’t die, he transformed into a dragon. Final moonfall looms ever closer and the world is on the brink of destruction.
Gercomo’s vile influence spreads among his dragon herd and he is reaching for power in both the human and dragon worlds.

Salinda has the means to stop him and save the world.

And Gercomo wants her dead.

Deathwings-highres

Over the weekend I attended Continuum SF convention (#13) in Melbourne. It was also the National Science Fiction Convention this year. I don’t have a lot of photos but I do have a few anecdotes.

I drove down from Canberra and it was a lovely drive and I stayed at Lucy and Julian’s place Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then Keri’s on Monday. As a poor student with no stipend I had to do this trip on the cheap! My main reason for going was to support the fan funds and add to the general lustre of the fan fund delegates. I’m not officially the GUFF delegate until I head to Helsinki in August.

I was able to get onto a number of panels and I must say the program was exceptionally good with some really fun topics. I participated in four panels, which is a record for me. And I wanted to go to the fan fund auction as I had brought some items down to help raise money. The big item was a Regency bonnet made by yours truly.

the bonnet

 

I headed in to the Jasper Hotel on Friday night with Lucy. I was a bit not with it after a 8-10 hour drive, most of that time deep in Stephen King’s Dark Tower Book Three-the Wastelands. (I did finish it on the way home! Awesome series) but I managed to catch up with a few people and go out for some lovely, reasonably priced noodles and caught up with a lot of friends.

The fan auction was on Saturday and I bought things but I didn’t mean to. But the good news was that the bonnet was sold for a nice sum and Alison Goodman won the bid by phone! Here is a snap of Alison in her new bonnet.

alisona and bonnet

On Saturday I had three panels, one was at 9am. I thought no one would turn up that early but it had a nice full room. That was the Art of Publishing panel and was mostly audience driven as far as topics covered.

Then I was on the Fan Funds Panel. Not a great turn out there. Pity because they serve an important purpose and the panelists provide information about the funds and what they do and where they go. Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire popped in and helped us brainstorm ideas for fan fund auctions. The fan funds rely on fund raising and as I’m a delegate I have a task of raising the money to reimburse the fund for my trip.

The next panel was Panels and Prejudice. It was a packed panel and so much fun. I learned stuff. Thanks Jodi. It was a bit of get a word in edgeways type thing but I heard good things from the audience later. I was dressed in my Regency gear and Alison wore her new bonnet. I believe Paul has a photo of me but alas I don’t have one.

I also made it to Bren McDibble’s Book launch for her YA Climate Fiction story How to Bee. Great launch speech by Cat Sparks, great bee themed cup cakes. I bought a copy from the grandkids but I believe I will enjoy reading it.

bren and cat

Bren and Cat and a close up of those cupcakes.

beecakes

I notice that the cakes are in focus! Eep!

One of the things I snaffled from the Fan Auction was Leslie from Ghostbusters. Here is a shot of Justin trying to sell her. Holtzmann is in the background.Julian and Leslie

Getting her home was a bit of an ordeal. Lucky Keri had her big car and she took Leslie (Patty) to her place and then I collected her and now she’s in the hallway, freaking (I mean greeting) people as they come in. K J Taylor snaffled Holtzmann!

Both the guest of honour speeches were amazing. Likhain delivered a very moving speech about her relationship with the Philippines and the effect of colonisation on her culture and her concept of her forebears. She received a standing ovation.

Seanan McGuire blew me away. I know of her, but didn’t know much about her but she was amazing. What a life! What energy! What delivery! I’m now primed to read/buy her books. She also writes as Mira Grant. I also managed to chat with her just in passing and talk about school of hard knocks. An inspiration, truly. I hope she gets back to her fur babies soon.

Sunday panel adventure was a topic on Women in Star Wars and that was also a fun topic. I think I revealed way too much about my age and also the degree of my fan fantasies!

Sunday night was the Ditmar awards ceremony. My lovely friend Kaaron Warren took out best novel for The Grief Hole, making it three major awards in Australia for that book. Go read it. She’s amazing and so is her work.

Here is a pic of the MCs, Alison Goodman and Michael Pryor! Don’t they look good.

Alison and Michael

Monday I took a sickie. Naughty me but I think it all caught up with me so instead I hung with Lucy and Julian, met up with Rose and did a bit of a walk around Brunswick. Then it was off to meet up with Keri and do a girls veg night thing with lasagne, bubbly and Jason Statham (Parker) and Helen Mirren with a big gun! (Red).

So if you have never been to an SF con you should try it. I’m an extrovert but sometimes I find all the people a bit overwhelming. But for me, conventions are catching up with friends and meeting new people. I do a lot of this in the bar either drinking bubbly or tea.

Continuum Convention #13 organisers! You rock. Great job and I had a fab time.

 

 

What the hell! the reader exclaims. This writer can’t spell! She’s written travelling instead of traveling and centre instead of center and realisation instead of realization. Colour instead of color.  This book is crap! It’s riddled with spelling errors and grammatical problems. It’s a bloody one star from me.

No. It’s not riddled with spelling errors and grammatical problems. It’s not written in US English. Believe it or not English speakers from different countries have different spelling conventions as well as different idiom. The USA adopted their own spelling conventions, I believe based on some rational thinking, but…the rest of us are pretty much following the queen on this.

Arse instead of ass! And also different terms for things like lift and elevator, pavement and sidewalk, garbage and trash, crockery and flatware, scones and biscuits, have a shower and take a shower, yadda yadda… Also, I’ve noticed things like towards and toward (the latter being the US convention), onwards and onward etc. And even things like practise and practice. In the US there is only practice for both the verb and the noun and the same with defence and defence.

It is a reality for a lot of writers being smacked down for something that’s not quite right, it’s just a tad strange to the reader but is not wrong or bad.

Some traditional publishers put out a US version of a book and ‘other’ English version. Sometimes, in Australia we’ll get a book that is by an Australian author and it’s in US English. It doesn’t matter much to me as a reader. I see it’s the US spelling but I don’t think it’s spelt wrongly. But I’m trying hard to put myself in US readers’ shoes, particularly if they don’t often encounter British or Australian writing in its native English. I try to understand this reaction, this dismissal of work not following US spelling conventions but can’t quite do it.

The Silverlands series and the Love and Space Pirates series are written in Australian English. The Dragon Wine series is in US English because that’s the way the publisher went and I’m sticking with that spelling convention on my re published versions and the next instalments. It’s not too hard to do it that way, but being a non-US person I don’t think everything I write should be written as if a US person wrote it.

Of course, typos exist and mistakes, too, in manuscripts. With the best intentions errors can creep in. Most publishers and authors try very hard to minimise and exclude them if possible. I’ve seen typos in books from traditional publishers as well as Indie published books. Hell I’ve made them! Some come from poor proofreading. I had some recently that a proofreader didn’t pick up and neither did I until now. Not my professional  proofreader. He’s amazing. In fact, a good proofreader is worth their weight in gold and the nit pickier they are the better. They enforce your style guide, pick up weird word usages etc. Things me and my editors don’t particularly notice.

So I had things that a spellchecker wouldn’t pick up-a homophone,  for example, lead instead of led. A name spelt wrong that my dyslexic brain didn’t pick up. But if I get feedback that something is wrong, the book will go back for proofreading by me in the first instance. If it has never been professionally proofread then I’d consider saving up to have it professionally proofread. Other errors can creep in when the proof corrections are taken up. Actually any time you open a manuscript and change something you are introducing the risk of error so it pays to be very careful and not rush. (Listen to your own advice Hanson!). A space that doesn’t register between words, a wrong letter. Sometimes these also get missed in a spellchecker because the wrong word is still a real word. I found one in Oathbound on the weekend. ‘Would’ instead of ‘wound’. That had to be a error made when making a correction to the document. It’s a bloody nightmare I tell you and it occurs in the first bloody chapter!

There can be missing full stops, missing speech marks, missing words (usually small ones like ‘a’ and ‘the’ and ‘to’ and they are hard to spot. I’ve seen all these in traditionally published books some times worse things, like wrong character names but…

Hopefully, the book you are reading doesn’t have seven to eight errors on a page, but seven or eight errors in a whole book, is probably not too bad. A colleague told me that she read a book that had so many errors, about eight to ten per page but the story was so good she still gave it five stars. I think that might be an exception to the rule. When you read a book and find a typo consider writing to the author or the publisher and let them know so it can be fixed. Preferably with a page number or chapter reference. It is so appreciated. Really it is. I’m hoping errors don’t disrupt your enjoyment of a book too much. People try. I try, but sometimes stuff happens.

 

Well it’s been a long wait!

The reversion of rights process did not go as planned. Shatterwing and Skywatcher were taken down early (I had requested May) and I had a mad scramble to get covers and get the books prepared etc. I’m so lucky that Crocodesigns were able to do the whole series. Don’t you think Frauke did a great job? There is more to come. She’s working on the covers for final two parts (not actually written yet) and box set covers.

I can’t decide which cover is my favourite. I really love the meteors and the depiction of the observatory in Skywatcher and I love the colours in Deathwings and I love the dragon in Bloodstorm. Overall, I think the covers portray the darkness and the space elements of the stories. Shatterwing and Skywatcher are out now everywhere! iBooks should flow through today. I uploaded them this morning.

Deathwings I think I’ll put up next week (maybe). I’m so nervous about releasing this part three. It’s been edited and proofed and it’s waiting to go. But holding on to it seems like a good idea. I’d like to be able to release Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part Four soon after. That’s due back from the editor next week. Still I’m nervous. Stupid I know…but I can’t help it. I had ten years to work on Shatterwing and Skywatcher. Although I drafted Deathwings and Bloodstorm a while ago it is only recently that I’ve picked them up again. Hopefully there will be some good reviews. I need to work on the final two parts.

These books are retailing around $3.99 US per book. I’ll be putting links up in my book section later on. I need to drink some French Champagne just now and eat chips and dip and chocolate and veg in front of Netflix. Sorry duty calls. I presented my confirmation seminar for the PhD today and it went well! So celebration.

 

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And I’m going to release Part One and Two together as a ebook box set. Maybe next week. Estimated price is $5.99 USDragonWineVolOne-3D