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Archive for the ‘Australian author’ Category

This is not the Mama Mia… (dot, dot, dot) this is life getting in the way and fatigue. It’s bloody hot I tell you and that makes writing a chore.

I’m about to head out to a granddaughter’s 11th birthday party. I mean really 11. What the hell happened! She’s not meant to be so grown up. I’m not meant to be so old. Okay. I’m not old. Ageism is the mindkiller. I’m with Judy Dench on that. I wish my body would get on side. I have arthritis generally and for the last few weeks some weird as swelling, numbness, tingling in my hands and arms. I must admit it freaks me a bit. But I’m not blogging to be a downer.

I have family here at the moment. My son is visiting from Shanghai and it’s great to have him around. I mean I scored cookies!

I’ve been writing too and that has to be a good thing. After the 52,000 words I wrote in November as part of #NaNoWriMo I picked up the ball again and am currently at 73,000 words. I’m hoping to get more in this arvo and I’m hoping to finish the first rough draft of Skyfire by New Year’s Eve because….I’m going straight on to Moonfall in January, Part Six of the Dragon Wine series and the end of the current story arc. I say this because I have other ideas but they will have to wait until after the PHD studies.

In 2018 I really have to knuckle down and get the bugger done! However, I am taking some time in January to do a mini writer retreat and write Moonfall until I drop. Then it’s back to the Phd novel which is still sitting at a pitiful 30,000 words.

Even while I plan to have both books drafted by the end of January, I’m not sending Skyfire and Moonfall out to be published for a little while.

I have to revise them first. I tend to get the story arc done and then go back and work on scenes and add atmosphere. It also gives me time to add stuff in that I missed out and tweak stuff.

Then I will send it to beta readers and get feedback. Then I act on that feedback and revise again.

Then I send it to the editor if I think it’s ready. Then she flings it back to me, usually with some homework which can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to do and then it goes to the proofreader.

It’s a bit of a team effort getting a book ready.

Sometimes it takes a while to take up the proofreader changes but within a month of getting it back from the proofreader I usually publish it. The print version takes longer as it has to be formatted.

If I succeed in my plans with the draft and revision I’ll have a better idea of timetable. I think my Amazon pre order ban might be lifted by then. hahahaha!

So if I don’t come back with a year in review blog post or my plans for 2018 before New year. Happy New Year!

I

 

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I don’t know what it is about my writing process, but I work so much better when I have a good run at something, rather than a bits and pieces approach. I guess it comes from the fact that I am either a half-arsed panster or a half-arsed planner and I’m pretty good once I hit my creative stride. (note a panster is someone who writes from the seat of their pants with little planning. A planner is someone who plans their novels out, chapter by chapter, scene by scene). I do a little planning, but not detail planning.

When I had a full time job, writing retreats for at least two weeks really worked for me. I could get a whole bunch of story down and then finesse it during the year. Now that I don’t have the day job (although I do study the Phd most days), I can’t afford to do a retreat in the same way as before. Also, well physical restrictions with RSI and spine problems, which I hate more than anything.

However, NaNoWriMo works for me. NaNoWriMo for those who don’t know is the National Novel Writing in a Month thing that’s been around for ages. It happens in November and the objective is to write a novel of 50,000 words. Most novels are longer than that though and there is an incentive to write more, say 60,000. It is possible to do more if the writer has the chops for it.

As previously mentioned, I am working on Skyfire, Dragon Wine Part 5 and I’m pleased to report it is going great guns. Not readable at this stage as it is a draft, but I’m at over 40,000 words. Picture me happy dancing. Not quite half way with the draft I think but well on the way to meeting the NaNoWriMo target of 50,000 words. I hope I can keep this up until the draft is done and that it gets done before Christmas because then I’m going to roll on to Moonfall, Dragon Wine Part 6. I didn’t think I’d get to these books until later in 2018. Keep sending me positive vibes so I can get then out in the first part of 2018.

I’m not trying to jinx myself here but finishing another series is a major achievement and I can feel the end point there. That’s not to say that I don’t have ideas for more books. I do. But there is a resting point there at the end of the narrative.

I am also working on the PhD novel and to own the truth I haven’t touched it for a few weeks owing to a technical difficulty. But today I spoke with my PhD supervisor and he suggested a few approaches to me. He hasn’t read the thing. It really is a technical things…like how do I do this to get this effect? I think his suggestion is pretty cool. Well one of them. He had more than one, so I’m now itching to get back to work and try that. For this reason I’m sneaking out off campus early today so I can get back to it. The latest version is on my home computer.

I did my NaNoWriMo writing this morning. I try for an hour in the morning and if I have the will another half an hour before bed. Yesterday, because I was home all morning as the plumber was there I wrote 5000 words. Today was more like 3000 words.

So there you go. For fans of the Dragon Wine series, there is progress. For writers out there maybe some inspiration and for my fellow NaNoWriMo peeps, you can do it.

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Last month I posted about my Indie Publishing experience from a beginner’s perspective. That post is here.

There I discussed coming close to earning $100 in that month from my Indie publishing efforts. I did notionally make $100.

Well this month I’m over that amount. Earnings figures are notional by the way, because the money comes in at a different time. For instance Kobo calls them estimated earnings.  So this month notional earnings are around $140 $150.

Mind you I had to work hard for those few dollars!

I also gave away heaps of books this month but more on that later.

Sales

I used Kobo promotions a lot this month and that where I had most of my sales. Kobo are really easy to deal with and they offer a wide range of promotions, about half have no upfront costs just percentage of takings. I wasn’t successful in getting all that I bid for but I did okay. It takes time and I think getting my name seen will mean eventually people will buy. It also helps to have a number of titles.

Next biggest sales were iBooks, surprisingly. It is not easy to promote on iBooks. There is no easy way for Indies to promote on iBooks. I hope one day they will adopt the Kobo model.  Then Amazon was the next chunk of sales. Nothing earth shattering but better than a big fat zero! You cannot bid for promos on Amazon. Amazon put together their Daily Deals by themselves.

Promotion

As mentioned above I have a promo tab on Kobo. I directly list with them to access this. I had two or three promos with different books through the month: paranormal romance and dark fantasy.

I tried for a Bookbub a couple of times through the month with different titles and met with rejection so I decided to do something with another provider. It can be dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, particularly when the basket holder is swatting your eggs away!

I used Freebooksy to get the word out that Argenterra was free on 28 July. I made it free earlier than that and it’s currently free. Interestingly, this means I won’t be able to tout for a Bookbub for this title for three months as Bookbub exclude books that have been discounted for three months. Freebooksy is not cheap. It was $100 US to list for a day. However, they are a great group to work with and they have been very considerate of my other efforts with Bargainbooksy.

I find it interesting that Amazon doesn’t let people promoted except by AMS ads which I don’t find effective at all because these email services are making heaps of money from marketing specials and freeboots to their subscribers.

Listing Argenterra for free is a loss leader tactic used by many vendors since forever. Technically I don’t like giving books away for nothing. I think it lowers the value of your work. On the other hand, giving away book one with the hope that:

  • the person downloading will read it (preferably sooner rather than later);
  • having read book one they will like it enough to buy book 2 and 3;
  • after reading books 2 and 3 will like my writing enough to try another series, and
  • after reading my work they become a fan of my writing and stick to me like spat gum to a shoe!

I don’t know if there are any figures out there, but from past experience and my own behaviour I know that free books downloaded may never get read, but as I said before I’m looking to find my audience so one must take a chance.

Before the Freebooksy promo I let people know it was free. Not in a big way. Patty Jansen put it on the Facebook page for Ebookaroo and I asked some people to include it in their newsletter. I don’t know if people did but about 60-70 copies had been downloaded before promo day. On promo day, I got about 1700 downloads on Amazon and about another 100 on iBooks. No figures from Kobo as their freeboot counter is out. But I had a tail, next day more books downloaded. This could have been due to late email opens and people clicking and finding the book still free, or because with the 1700 downloads I had reached #123 overall Amazon freeboots and #1 in three sub categories of Epic, Sword and Sorcery and Coming of Age. Then Patty Jansen included Argenterra in her regular newsletter and then more downloads happened. So far maybe an extra 300-400. I just had another look at the figures, maybe that’s closer to 500 downloads from a newsletter. That’s so fab. I’m so grateful for the little leg up.

I didn’t see a lot of buy through to the rest of the series. Maybe one or two. If only one percent of those 2400 people (maybe more) go on to buy the series that’s still 24 people who might go on to buy the series. The promo will pay for itself eventually. Also, people have my book so there is always a chance.

Newsletters and Instafreebie

Technically sending newsletters and listing books on Instafreebie are promotion too. Shatterwing was included in a group Instafreebie/Bookfunnel promotion and wow! It was the best yet. Probably 700 new subscribers who downloaded Shatterwing, Dragon Wine Part One over four days. I think the covers have something to do with that.

I think some of my sales come through my newsletter subscribers. Not heaps as yet, but I get a lot of people checking out the buy links on my website.

I also had a few deals going for newsletter subscribers. Not exclusive to them but being a subscriber allows them to find out about it.

Escape Publishing kindly discounted Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Spiritbound (Dani Kristoff) to 99 cents. The announcements for these were included in my newsletter and there were some sales. I don’t know how much because I can’t see because the books are controlled by the publisher. These books were included in Ebookaroo (Patty Jansen’s general newsletter) and there were some sales as a result. I was happy to give something to the newsletter subscribers and I don’t often get discounts from my traditional published books.

Also, to broaden things a bit and have something new to keep my subscribers interested, I published Beneath the Floating City, a sci fi, short fiction collection and put it on Instafreebie, mostly with a private link for my subscribers but it is also there for anyone to download. All bar one story has been previously published over the 17 years of my publishing life. I’m going to put together other collections. The next will be Compost Juice, magic realism and fantastical tales. I won’t do that until I get back from overseas. Maybe for Christmas. I also published this collection to all the eretailers.

Print versions

A major suck for my energy, time and dollars this month has been laying out books for print. Indesign gave me a kick up the butt and my photoshop skills are Neanderthal level, but I managed.

Shatterwing, Skywatcher, Deathwings, and Bloodstorm are out in print with the new covers. These are available on Amazon through Createspace and elsewhere as distributed by Ingrams. So yes, technically the library or your books store can order them in.

booksAlso, Oathbound and Ungiven Land join Argenterra, in print.

The Sorcerer’s Spell is in print too, but just through Createspace. It will appear in bookstores as well as Amazon over time, such as Book Depository. Opi Battles the Space Pirates was already in print, same deal through Createspace. You can buy a copy on Book Depository no problems.

This means that for the book launch at Conflux over the long weekend, 29 Sept to 1 October, I have books all to hand.

I have done all the things!

Phew!

Now to take off on Friday for nearly two months. Worldcon 75 and Helsinki here I come. I am the GUFF delegate, taking Australian fandom to Europe. See previous post for where I’ll be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I feel naughty! I’ve put a book up on Amazon for pre-order (other retailers to come). I feel nervous, excited and liberated too.

It’s been an interesting experience, one of commitment and camaraderie. I had to commit to working on the whole series this year. I had to pay for an edit and a cover. Anything to do with spending money when I’m now retired is a BIG commitment. Then there has been the camaraderie, the network of writer friends who have or who are embarking on Indie publishing. So much assistance and advice freely given. It’s been wonderful. Thank you all.

Cover by Les Petersen

Cover by Les Petersen (lespetersen.com.au)

The cover does have a YA feel but that’s deliberate because it does have YA leanings for sure. Fish out of water, coming of age etc. It’s also about romance, though I’m told it’s not fantasy romance. This is mainly because there are three different relationships. I can’t spoil it though! After fifteen years, it’s amazing to see it out there. Only me and maybe a couple of old friends knew the early version– the rank beginner Donna. It wasn’t my first novel ever. I’ve not had that much commitment to Relic (SF romance, Feminist SF) my first novel attempt, which I haven’t given up on completely. (I was just advised to wait until I was a better writer as it was a worthy project). Argenterra was my first fantasy ever. My first Indie published book.

Now for the outtakes….Sophy and Aria. Their names used to be Sapphire and Misty. However, while on a Writers’ Retreat, my very first, Russell Kirkpatrick and Paul Ewins said those names sounded like unicorn names. It was funny at the time but I did change the name. I always had trouble with Sapphire as a name. People found it odd. I couldn’t understand that because I knew a Sapphire. So Sophy and Aria it is.

Here is the pre-order link.

 

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Gillian Polack is the author of many things fiction and non-fiction. She’s also a medieval historian, food history guru and a science fiction PHD, her second! I’m probably not doing her justice.

Anyway, I have Gillian here on my blog today to talk about her fab new book (Co-authored with Katrin Kania): The Middle Ages Unlocked- A guide to life in medieval England, 1050-1300.

Gillian and KatrinThis book is a fab resource for writers who want to write about medieval societies and for lovers of history.

How did you come up with the concept for the book?

I didn’t come up with the concept: my friends did. A group of people on a now-defunct email list said “We so need a book that tells us about the Middle Ages in an easy-to-read way that’s properly researched and can be used by writers.”  The friends were from the UK and US and Canada and Australia. Some of them were writers. Some of them were tired of writers not quite understanding things. They got me involved…

How did you two authors find each other?

In a pub! Seriously, we were introduced to each other by Shana Worthen at the big Medieval Congress in Leeds in 2011. It was an international conference, but it was one for Medievalists, and it always has at least one pub. For the record, I was drinking a rather nice English cider. Shana knew about the Beast and I asked her if she wanted to see it. I whipped out my trusty netbook and Katrin read over her shoulder and somehow ended up being drawn into being co-author! Since then, I have taken to carrying all my work with me, everywhere, just in case I meet someone who needs to share it.

Did it take a long time to develop the scope of the book?

It took years and years. Because writers and the general public said “We need this book” I had a good general concept about what kind of topic would be covered and that the approach needed to be easy to read but go into as much depth as was possible in a general work. We (the various people involved at different stages) played with several approaches and a wide range of subjects. Tamara Mazzei still has a timeline she developed for an earlier iteration, for instance, and I still have a list of plants and their uses. A couple of writer friends tested beta versions for their fiction and I could tell how effective different elements were by how they wrote and what further questions they need to ask. By the time Katrin came on board the topics were mostly settled but it covered both France and England. It focussed on England quite late, because it was a better fit for British publishers, but we refined approaches to the bitter end. The Middle Ages Unlocked wasn’t easy, but it was most definitely worth the effort, as I’ve already seen it being read and used by those same people who asked for it, all those years ago.

How long did it take from the concept to completion?

About fifteen years, all up. I’m still surprised when I see it in bookshops, because it’s had the longest development and most work of any of my books. Given how prone I am to research, this is worrying.

At 384 pages it looks to be quite an undertaking! Did you have to  leave stuff out?

We left out more than we put in.  Several times the amount that went in, in fact. The perfect version (from my point of view) would have been enormous. We followed our publisher’s guidelines, however, for those guidelines were there with much good reason behind them, and we wrote the best possible work that was actually publishable.

How did you go about finding a publisher?

We approached publishers that we had contacts with and that were a really good fit for our project. One of them suggested Amberley, for they felt that Amberley was an even better fit than they were: if ever I meet that editor I will buy her a drink, for she was both generous and correct.

I  notice a lot of writers gave you cover quotes. Do you see the book as a resource for writers only? Did all that bad fantasy drive you to spend years of your life developing this book?

It was first designed for writers, but it’s grown to be a volume that’s for the general public. And bad fantasy had nothing to do with it! I’ve taught history to writers for two decades and so it was quite natural for writers to say to me “Why don’t you pull together a book that presents this to a wider audience?” This means the demand came from writers who wanted more, not writers who were lazy about their world-building. I find this very reassuring.

Initial S: The Lord Appearing to David in the Water; Bute Master (Franco-Flemish, active about 1260 - 1290); Northeastern (illuminated)  France Paris (written)  France; illumination about 1270 - 1280; written about 135 - 1375; Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment; Leaf: 17 x 11.9 cm (6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.); Ms. 46, fol. 92

Initial S: The Lord Appearing to David in the Water; Bute Master (Franco-Flemish, active about 1260 – 1290); Northeastern (illuminated) France Paris (written) France; illumination about 1270 – 1280; written about 135 – 1375; Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment; Leaf: 17 x 11.9 cm (6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.); Ms. 46, fol. 92

What was the favourite thing you did in this book?

I was really happy to pull together what was known about dance. I’d been meaning to do this for myself and the book gave me an excuse.

What was the hardest section for you? (I noticed at the Q&A you said there were areas where you had a lot of research and some was more general)

The hardest section as the one that dealt with all the bad things in society. It could have had a lot more detail, but neither Katrin nor I could deal with any more detail about people being hurt!
I guess there are things we will never know about the past.  How does that you make you feel as a historian?

Perfectly normal. Historians are always aware we can’t know everything: it’s part of the job description.  History is an interpretative discipline, not one where absolute knowledge is possible.

Do you have other historical projects in the pipe line or is it fiction for you from now on?

I’m nearly finished a book specifically about how writers use history in their fiction. it will be published next year. And I’m starting work on a novel set in the seventeenth century. I’ve already sifted through hundreds of primary sources (over 800) to sort out how I will  deal with various aspects, but the real work on it will hopefully take place next year. I’m also doing work on other peoples’ writing: there’s an article by me in the next issue of Foundation, for example.

Where can people buy the book?

In Australia, ask your local bookshop to get it in: since it’s only just been released here, most shops don’t know about it yet. Online, almost every shop stocks it. In the UK, try Blackwell’s or ask your local bookshop to get The Middle Ages Unlocked in. In the US, either online shops or wait until October, for it won’t be released in the US until then. If you can’t wait, online shops in the UK will sell it to you.

Easiest way is to buy from Book Depository Link here.

Gillian book cover
Thank you for visiting the blog today, Gillian. Mazel Tov!

Thank you for having me!

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I’m so happy to be able to bring this interview to you. I met CS Pacat at Supanova. We were on a panel together on our early lives as writers and I was fascinated with her story and I thought you would be too. Hers was a non-traditional story and she has had amazing success. Read on!cat

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog today. I think your publication story is fascinating so I wanted to share it with others.

When did you first think about being a writer and what did you do?

As long as I can remember, I wanted to write books. I took creative writing classes, but if I’m being honest, they weren’t especially helpful, particularly when it came to teaching fundamental skills like plotting or character creation. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for anything other than a place to meet other artists and form a support community, and a way to begin taking yourself seriously as a writer, “I commit to writing”. (A friend once described it brilliantly: In a cooking class, you are taught how to make a soufflé during the lesson. In a creative writing class you’re usually asked to make a soufflé at home without a recipe, then bring it in to class, and then everyone critiques the soufflé. But at no point does anyone ever actually teach you how to make a soufflé.)

What inspired you to write fanfic and when do you start writing original fiction?

I wrote fan fiction throughout my teens and into my early twenties, and I have an enormous respect for fandom as an artistic space. I think what drives the fanfiction writer is a desire to reclaim a text, to explore its themes, in a sense to make it your own. This can be powerful and important, particularly when those reclamations involve queering a heteronormative text, or the insertion of fantasies that until recently have not been given much expression in mainstream works, such as the power fantasies of teen girls. It’s a way of offering alternate narratives and diversifying what can sometimes feel like a narrative monoculture.

I started to write original fiction because I wanted to tell my own stories and to be able to craft the kinds of characters that I love. Captive Prince was my first complete original novel, but I did have a few false starts with original fiction before that, learning the skills that were different to fan fiction.

What made you publish for free on the web and then self-publish?

When I started to write Captive Prince there was nothing that was really like it in the mainstream commercial space. But I knew that online there was a vast community of readers and writers who were reading and creating online in part because they were seeking something that they weren’t finding on commercial bookshelves. It was also an incredibly accessible space with no barrier to entry, and so I started to write Captive Prince, and as I wrote, I posted each chapter to my fiction blog.

Captive Prince ran as a free web serial for several years before I decided to self publish the story. I did it mostly in response to requests from readers for a paperback copy of the books. It was really the support and enthusiasm of the online readership that gave me the confidence to take that step.

What did self-publishing feel like?

Equal parts rewarding and terrifying. There is a very steep learning curve, because as a self-publisher, if you want to produce a high quality book, you essentially have to teach yourself all of the skills, from typesetting to art direction to project management. You have to hire cover artists, editors and proofreaders, while learning how to use InDesign and create layouts for paperbacks, produce ebooks, and so on.

It felt scary to do at the time, but it was also incredibly empowering, because you’re learning everything you need to know about publishing, and it opens up new avenues and gives you control over your own writing.

Did big sales happen all at once or was it gradual? How much of that was due to your previous following from the web?

My online readers were incredibly enthusiastic and supportive, they wanted to buy the self published release, even having already read the free version. As a result of that, Captive Prince shot to the top of Amazon lists within a day or two of being released. It then took a few weeks for the generated word of mouth to spread and create buzz in places like Goodreads, and from there another week or two before the Captive Prince started to garner attention and reviews from mainstream review sites like Dear Author and USA Today. So, in a sense it happened in two “waves”, the first from my online readers, and a second when the book hit the mainstream market. Now that Captive Prince is being published by Penguin, it’s reaching a new audience again.

It must have been amazing to be contacted by an agent wanting to sell your work to a major publisher. Can you tell us a bit about that?

It was incredible, amazing, unbelievable. I was approached by a New York agent basically saying, “I’d like to represent you. I think we can sell your book to a big six publisher in New York.” I didn’t think it was possible but signed with her in the spirit of pure optimism. We ended up with two offers, the most robust of which was from Penguin. Now Captive Prince is being published in multiple countries and translated into multiple languages – it’s been an incredible year.

From your point of view, what are the advantages of self-publishing?

Having been through both processes, self publishing and commercial publishing, I remain a huge advocate for self publishing. I think it offers writers a way to produce a book that wholly represents their best vision of their work. You don’t have to rush or make artistic compromises due to deadlines. You can hire the designers and editors that you most want to work with, devote as much attention to your book as it needs. There are also financial advantages, in that your royalty percentage is much higher. Realistically, a commercial publisher will always be making commercial decisions, which are not always the best decisions for a book artistically.

Conversely, what are the advantages of having a major publisher behind you?

The biggest advantage of a major publisher is legitimacy. Although the perception is changing, there is still a stigma attached to self publishing. A major publisher opens so many doors, and dramatically expands the possibilities for a book, from getting it stocked in major bookstores, to garnering attention from mainstream press.

The other advantage is of course access to world class editorial, and the support of a team. I’ve worked with so many inspiring, talented people at Penguin. Allowing them to support the book frees you as the writer to just spend your time writing, which is a incredible privilege.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I have two pieces of advice. The first is that to write a book, you have to transform yourself into the person who can write that book. So I’d say figure out what is preventing you from writing, whether it is time, procrastination, or problems with plotting, or coming up with ideas, then dedicate time to solving those problems, making the changes that you need to make.

The second piece of advice is to persevere. Writing a book is difficult and there will be a long period of time where you can’t do it, your writing isn’t working, and the book just isn’t a book yet. Everyone goes through this. And everyone I know who has persevered through this stage has emerged with a manuscript, then gone on to publish it. So hang in there: it will happen.

Blurb
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

CS Pacat - book cover - Captive Prince

You can find out more about CS Pacat on her website http://www.cspacat.com

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