Did I mention it is FREE? Please share and share alike!
I don't know if I'm even doing it right. But if you are interested in a FREE copy of my ZomPoc book BITTEN Resurrection, you can find it free only at Instafreebie for only a limited time! Get it fast! While you still can.
Did I mention it is FREE? Please share and share alike!
It seems that 2016 was a major obstacle for me with respect to publishing.
Not only that, but 2016 seemed to have it out for everybody. In the last couple of months seven of my friend's lost parents. Numerous arists and celebrities passed away this past year, from David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, to the beloved Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher herself, who died of a cardiac arrest in the last week of December. Her mother, Hollywood golden age starlet Debbie Reynolds passed away the very next day due to a stroke, which doctors suspect might be related to the stress of her daughter's passing. And on the very last day of the year, the actor William Christopher, known for his role as Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H died (my grandfather's personal favorite television show when he was alive).
And, if loosing a mass amount of artistic talent wasn't bad enough, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States of America. I personally never though I'd see such an empathy deficient, hot-headed, unread, uncultured, misogynistic xenophobe with white supremicist and communist ties take office during my lifetime. He makes George W. Bush look like the Prodigal Son by comparison. I guess it just goes to show that Murphy's Law was in full effect this past year.
But now it's finally here. Now it's 2017. And if you're reading this, count yourself among the lucky ones. You made it!
Amid all these distractions, I had a rocky start to the year--literally. April 15th, 2016, in Kumamoto, Japan, where I live, my town was hit with a level 7.4 magnitude earthquake (registering level 7.0) which toppled buildings, destroyed bridges and roads, burst water pipes, and shifted the Earth's mantle nearly 6 feet diagonally, leaving massive fissures in the earth's crust that split open farm land and cut through Mashiki and the area of town me and my family live. This came a day after a massive 6.5 level earthquake struck us. From April to May we lived out of the family car--minus any running water. Once our house was inspected by city contractors, three and a half weeks later, we were given the okay to re-enter the premise. But damage was extensive.
We accrued over $20,000 in damages to our home. Our roof, windows, walls were all damaged and we lost all of our china, glasswear, lamps, vases, and to make matters worse our water heater biffed it too; leaving us without hot water for nearly two whole months. Luckily we had well water, so we heated pots and pans and made do. It was like roughing it in the wilderness, except we were inside our battered home. Although the kids enjoyed camping in the car for a few weeks, as a parent I couldn't stop worrying about their safety and whether or not we'd be uprooted from our home. My adrenaline didn't die down for nearly fourteen days, and when it did I crashed hard. So did my wife.
The city declared a state of emergency and all business and commerce was suspended until the city's infrastructure could be repaired. But someone like me, a teacher, who depends on my monthly paycheck, things looked grim. Luckily, my wife's relatives came through for us and personally drove 3 hours from their homes up in Fukuoka, on rural roads (due to the highway bridges being out--or completely gone for that matter) to bring us food, water, and emergency supplies.
Our solar panels, which we put on the year prior, luckily survived but needed to be removed in order to repair the roof, but only the solar panel people could remove them without voiding the warranty, and they were swamped doing the same for over 2,000 other homes. So it took till mid August before our roof was even repaired. During that time I ran a Go-Fund-Me, and thankfully we made back 10K thanks to the generous donations of friend, family, and charitable strangers who helped me and my family in our time of need.
In fact, the tremors still haven't abated entirely, as a level 1 quake on the first of the New Year reminded us, and Kumamoto has recored over 4,000 temblors since April of last year.
But we survived. And I count myself lucky. My family is safe. We still have a roof over our heads. And I managed to find a new teaching job at the last minute. That said, it took 6 months for things to get back to normal and we are all still a bit rattled from this year, to say the least.
That was just the beginning, however.
About the same times as the quakes ended, my former publisher (Winlock Press) relinquished the rights to my books. Apparently, the parent company, Permuted Press, wasn't happy with the sales of two of my books, while one was selling steadily. Although they contracted me for five books in the series, they put a hold on publishing any further books in the series until the first books made back their money. Which was fine, since it stipulated in the contract that they had the right to do so.
However, I watched the sales closely, and when the books in question finally did make their money back, I reminded my publisher that they had agreed to continue publishing the series. To which they said they did not recall saying anything of the sort, even though I kept the emails to prove it, and even though the contract had no oversight on continuing a series once shelved. So, I chocked it up to making a rookie mistake. But when I went back and re-read the contract, I discovered something interesting. Winlock, and Permuted, had written into the contract a by-line stating they would publish BOTH paperback and digital versions of the books. When I asked why none of my books had been made into print copies yet, while all the other authors with Winlock at the time had, they replied with a vauge and nebulous statement mentioning some e-book first only clause in the contract.
Apparently, after the first ten authors signed with Winlock, they revised the wording of the contract so as not to have to lose money on publishing books that didn't meet their sales requisites--nevermind the illogic of selling two different mediums which appeal to entirely different markets and gauging one medium's response by the wrong market. I knew something was up, since I was one of the original 10 to sign and my contract did not have that e-book first stipulation. It had a promise to print.
Combing over the legal language, I asked my friend (who is a lawyer) whether or not the publisher had a right NOT to publish the book. He pointed out that they, as the publisher, agreed to publish paperbacks and promote them to the best of their ability--as that was what the contract stipulated, as written. He also pointed out a clause which said that upon the publisher to fail to agree to publish works aquired by the author, that the rights would revert back to the author.
When I pointed this out to the powers that be, I was told to talk to the editor about it. I wrote my editor, and they told me to talk to Permuted's president. I was told to go back to the editor and not bother the top brass, and not to talk over anyone's head, but I knew I was just getting the run-arround.
Representing myself as my own agent, I had the legal right to talk to the legal department of Permuted, as stipulated in the contract. When I CC'd an email to everyone involved, without even asking for the rights back to *all of my titles, I recieved a cryptic email response stating that relations between publisher and author had soured and that the rights to all my titles would be returned to me ASAP. And they were.
I'll say this much, I learned a lot by making a lot of rookie mistakes. The biggest lesson I learned was this: never sign a contract with a trad publisher, under any circumstances, without having an agent and preferably a lawyer to review the contract. I won't be making that mistake anytime again soon.
That said, I think Permuted Press and Winlock Press were more than fair. They could have thrown their entire legal team at me and made me jump through many more hoops, but knowing I already had a lawyer on hand, they decided I wasn't worth the trouble, and the financial drain. And although they didn't have to give back the rights to all my titles, since I was only asking for the rights to BITTEN back, since that's the title that makes money, I think I came out ahead on the deal. Hey, it's their loss.
Please, don't get me wrong. I'm not bitter. I got the rights back, and they were more than fair, given what I've heard other publishers try and get away with. I just consider it all one big learning experience and will be more careful in the future.
This year I plan on publishing a few bonafide hits. A fellow author friend of mine invited me to the online Facebook group 20Books to 50K. It's a massive group of spec-fic people who not only succeed at indy publishing, but they support one another and share how to make a living self-publishing. I'm really excited to be a part of this group and since my next few titles are all fantasy or science fiction books, I feel like I'm in good company.
Also, I'm going to continue self-publishing for the foreseeable future, since I already write at the professional level, have all my books professionally edited and designed, and--ultimately--can make more self-publishing than going through a trad publisher. I also maintrain complete creative control, and for someone like me that likes to write complete series instead of one off novels, that's a big deal. Also, after having gone the trad publishing route already, and learning some of the insider tricks of how it's done, I think I can do a better job promoting my own work. At least for the time being.
Well, that's the update. My new years resolution is simply to write more, publish more, and network more. After three years of doing the lone wolf thing, I think it's time to join the pack and maybe do something more than just chase my tail.
So, what's your new years resolution?
STAR WARS: Rogue One is the first film in Disney's expanded Star Wars movie universe, which they are refering to as "Anthology stories."
Felicity Jones plays the titular character Jyn Erso, daughter of the famous weapons engineer Galen Erso, played by the talented and versatile Mads Mikkelsen.
The movie opens with a very Inglorious Bastards type opening where the infamous Imperial weapons and security specialist, Commander Krennic, tracks the retired Galen Erso hiding away on a distant planet. Krennic blackmails Krennic into coming back to oversee the special weapons project, which no surprise, is a secret weapon of unimaginable destructive power.
Although Galen is reluctant to help the Empire, when Krennic kills his wife and threatens to find his missing daughter and do the same, Erso reluctantly agrees. Thus the beginning of our story.
Flashing forward 15 years, we find a grown Jyn Erso in an Imperial detention center. Quite a serious one too. During a routine prisoner transfer a band of Rebels frees her. This is where we meet our other two main players in the story, Captain Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, and his trusty, re-programmed Imperial droid, K-2SO (or just K-2 for short), voice by the lovable Alan Tudyk.
Cassian needs Jyn's help in tracking down her father and informs her that her father has just helped the Empire complete the ultimate weapon. Although reluctant to join sides, Jyn Erso decided to help Cassian if it means being reunited with her father, and joins his Rebel cause.
Here is where the adventure gets rolling.
In tracking down her father we meet many other fascinating characters. Including the blind Imwe played by Donnie Yen, and his trusted friend, the gun toting Baze Malbus, played by Wen Jiang.
Our heroes get caught up in the terrorist antics of Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker, who has ties to Jyn Erso and her father. Following a series of clues, our heros track down Galen Erso, but things go wrong.
Eventually the Rebel's wild goose chase leads them to the Tropical planet Scarif where the plans for the dreaded Death Star are being held. The Rebels of infiltrate the database, get the plans, and beam them out.
Of course, amazing ground battles and space battles ensue, harking back to the style of Return of the Jedi where we ingenously cut between space battles and land battles. Many don't give Return of the Jedi enough credit, but it is a brilliantly edited film and one of the best Star Wars films in terms of story telling and narrative.
Rogue One channels its inner Star Wars in the last third of the film. The third act is full of Star Wars references and space battles and it truly feels like a Star Wars movie.
Before the third act, however, it feels like a dire war film with more in common with Saving Private Ryan than Star War, except that it's set firmly within the aesthetic of Star Wars.
Now, it seems, many people love this new, grimmer, grimier, darker and more adult feel to Star Wars. I think Rogue One shows just how versatile and big of a sandbox George Lucas's Star Wars universe truly is. Especially those who do not watch the cartoon series Clone Wars or Rebels, which you really should if you are to consider yourself a true Star Wars fan since nearly 90% of all the mythos is generated and contained in these cononical animated series. Also, as an aside, it is my strong opinon that The Clone Wars animated series is the best part of all of the Star Wars franchise. But I digress. Back to the review.
Whether or not you're a die hard Star Wars fan or just a fan of action films, Star Wars Rogue One is an all around solid film. For the Star Wars enthusiast there are tons of Easter Eggs litered throughout. Many reviewers have said this was completely unecessary, but I disagree. Without these quaint throwbacks and reminders, Rogue One wouldn't have felt nearly Star Wars enough. It would have been a solid science-fiction war movie, because that's what it is. But the Easter Eggs really do help to solidify it as something that is part of the Star Wars universe.
After all, if there hadn't been reshoots to fix the ending and tie it to Star Wars more definitively, then the film really would not have felt very Star-Warsy at all. Thanks goodness they did though! Because that final act is epic in almost every way. And Darth Vader fans... Oh. My. God! You're in for a real treat.
But that's all I'm going to say about that.
I personally enjoyed the movie way more than I thought I would. Many are saying it's better than The Force Awakens, but I'm not so sure. One is a Star Wars movie, and the other is a movie with a Star Wars story. One is the following the main arc, and the other is a spin-off, so comparing the two as if they were attempting the same style narrative would be a mistake. That said, their quality is on par with one another, and that's an extremely good sign for things to come. If Disney keeps up the quality, whether grim and dark like Rogue One, with lots of killing and adult themse, or light harted and adventure filled like The Force Awakens, the bottom line is we'll be getting a lot of great Star Wars films in the future.
One bit of warning, however, I took my daughter (who is seven years old) to Rogue One because she absolutely loves Star Wars. She binge watched 3,000 hours of The Clone Wars and Rebels animation with me. She's watched the original tirlogy. And she adores The Force Awakens. That in mind, she absolutely did NOT like Rogue One. She thought it was too much fighting. It wasn't fun for her. And when I asked if she wanted to go see it a second time with me she flat out said "No."
So bare that in mind if you're thinking of taking the young ones to Rogue One. They may not find it entertaining as it truly is on the adult side in terms of the themes and story telling.
I may not sit at home in a Wookie costume waiting anxiously for the premier of Rogue One (although my review will be coming soon) I do consider Star Wars a big part of my life.
Star Wars came out during my formative years and I grew up with it. It has always been in my home to some degree. I saw the movies in the theatre in their original release (or at least the 80's re-release of A New Hope -- Yeah, I call it that, because that's what it was released as once George Lucas got the subtitle rights back from the studio which omitted them against his will the first time around).
My family had the VHS tapes. And then we wore them out and had to get new videos. My brother and I had tons of Star Wars toys. I even had the original Marvel comics Star Wars stories and later the Dark Horse ones (now, Marvel has it again and I'm still reading). I read many of the novels. Not all, but I have a full bookshelf of Star Wars books.
Needless to say, I was steeped in the mythos that George Lucas had created.
That brings me to the topic of this post. My favorite Star Wars character, and storyline, the one which resonated with me the most is that of Ahsoka Tano.
Ahsoka, for those whose religion isn't Star Wars, was Anakin's Padawan, who he affectionately nicknamed "Snips."
People think Star Wars is about Luke Skywalker, or alternatively his father, Anakin. And, yes, the Skywalkers are a large part of the story. Of the mythos of George Lucas.
But George Lucas also created The Clone Wars. And thank goodness he did! After those prequel movies, which soured a lot of fans, but which I found entertaining if not very satisfying, he turned around and gave us perhaps the best, most well developed, part of his mythos to date -- The Clone Wars. I'm talking about the animated series (not the second prequel movie--although they do tie together quite nicely.
Now, The Clone Wars is considered canon (even by Disney), and approximately 2,420 minutes of that story is devoted to Ahsoka Tano's journey. That, and now, three full seasons of Rebels as well. So nearly 4,000 minutes of her journey has been explored. More than any other character in the Star Wars universe or franchise.
More than Luke. More than Anakin. More than Darth Vader. Simply put, she is the main character of the Star Wars saga. Ahsoka Tano.
And I wouldn't have it any other way. I love Ahsoka!
You can learn more about her character and journey at Wookieepedia:
May the Force be with you all.
Narrative device terms I've coined that explain things which are used more recently that haven't been used all that much previously.
These mainly apply to the storytelling styles of television, but can be extended to certain types of prose work as well.
Sliding hook -- A cliffhanger which extends into the next episode as the hook wherein the cliffhanger is prematurely cut short thus leaving you hanging. The next episode picks up where it left off to conclude it, thus sliding it into the hook position.
The Walking Dead does this (the Negan cliffhanger during the season 6 finale is a prime example). True Blood utilized it a lot.
Rolling reversal / Rolling twist -- A twist at the end of a chapter or episode which acts as both the cliffhanger and hook for next episode.
True Detective makes good use of these.
Spiralling down -- an instance where a hero character goes against type, then spirals out of control becoming a villain character, swapping the previous role of hero archetype.
The television series The 100 does this quite frequently with its main characters.
Spiralling up -- an instance where a hero character goes against type, first spirals down, becomes the villain, then spirals back up to hero depending on the needs on the story.
Gish Gallop intros -- A torrent of interlocking scenes which show brief clips from the episodes of a show which is about to air, slipping in clues as to what will happen but without giving away any major spoilers.
Battlestar Galactica used this to great effect with the taiko drum openings.
I get asked this question often about my writing and publishing career.
"How'd you get into it? Where do you even start as far as looking at getting published?"
I got asked this exact same question again today. And a few days ago also.
So I'm going to give anyone else interested in my own experiences with writing and publishing a crash course in what I learned. But I learned it on my own, mainly by trial and error, so just know that I don't have the perfect strategy to publishing. Just that I've been doing it for a solid five years now and have gathered enough useful facts to share with you all.
The Thing About Publishing Is...
Unless you have a literary agent, or know an agent indirectly, or have someone on the inside of the publishing world, really, your best bet is self-publishing. It's the way to go if you're serious about telling stories. But if you want to try for the big time and send endless submissions and inquiries to publishers and agents, be my guest. Just know that it could take months, even years, to hear a single reply. And usually it's in the form of a rejection letter.
That said, even if you had an excellent agent, they might tell you, self-publishing is the way to go. You see, in this digital age publishing has changed and eBooks, a once laughed at niche which publishers considered a gimmick for tech companies is now a major part of the publishing and book selling market.
About 90% of your revenue will come from e-book sales. At least, it has for me. Mostly from Amazon.com. But also sites like Apple iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and Nook Press / Barnes & Noble. Mostly Amazon though.
Now, I'm what is considered a hybrid author. I've been lucky enough to have been published by a genuine publisher (Winlock Press, an imprint of Permuted Press) as well as maintaining a regular library of self-published works (under my own creator-owned imprint Regolith Publications). But it has taken me a while to get here.
Although my books have been on shelves for about five years now, I've been working at it for nearly a decade. Just know that writing and making books takes time. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon. And it consists of one part art, one part technical savvy, and a whole lot of passion. You'll find out quickly enough if you have the passion for it or not. But if you do, more power to you!
I feel I should inform you about some of behind the scenes details about the whole publishing thing. A typical publishing contract pays you 30% in royalties and takes the rights to your book. I have to admit, it's not the greatest deal. But that's the standard contract that usually gets sent to you.
If you have an awesome agent, you maybe could get 35% to 45% in royalties. Usually less if you take an advance. But nobody really doles out advances anymore accept for the BIG FIVE, and they only offer such advances if they think your book makes for a lucrative property. Chances are though, it's not. And they won't.
Self-publishing allows you to take in a larger cut of the pie, so to speak.
Usually you get to keep around 70% royalties and you retain full rights to your characters and stories. That's a big deal for many reasons. Most of all because you're making double the revenue, have full artistic control, and you can expand your properties into ongoing series if they do well. Under a traditional publishing deal.
Once you sell your property, however, it's gone. For good. This makes self-publishing extremely attractive to those creative types, like myself, who just want to tell good, entertaining stories. Meanwhile, after my previous publisher failed to advertise or promote my books at all, and they cancelled the remaining series due to stagnating sales, I regained the rights and went back to making money off self-publishing. If I would have left my property with my former publisher, my books would have been shelved. And with no advertising and no longer being put on store shelves, my name and property would have receded into obscurity.
So be very careful before ever signing a publishing contract. I learned the hard way how difficult it is to regain your property from a publishing company that wants to sell you the promise of being the next best-selling author but end up tanking your series. It's always the writer who gets burned. Never the publisher. And this is why self-publishing has exploded in terms of popularity. Publishers and vanity presses can no longer take advantage of unwitting authors.
If I were to take away anything from my publishing adventures, it's that I'm never signing a publishing contract again without first finding myself a trustworthy, hard-working agent. I suggest you take my advice and do the same. Learn from my mistakes so you don't have to suffer falling victim to those who'd prey on your publishing ignorance and take advantage of you.
Self-Publishing and Print on Demand (POD)
Now, let's chat about some of the how-to aspect of publishing. Self-publishing is mainly Publish on Demand (POD). POD publishing is sweet because you don't pay anything up front. No publishing fees. No print fees. When someone orders your book online, then the printer prints one copy and that comes out of the percentage of royalties that the POD service takes out of your sales -- which is why you make 70% and not 100% -- printing costs are taken out.
I use the CreateSpace service for publishing my physical books. It's an Amazon company. But they are a printer too. And it's the easiest set-up I've seen. They also have tutorials to help you get started. And everything is step by step. It's great for beginners, but also very reliable for seasoned pros.
The downside to CreateSpace is that they only print soft-bound, paperback books. If you wanted a hardcover edition, or a spiral bound cookbook, or something fancier like a slipcase, then you might want to use LuLu.com's service.
LuLu also lets you make some promotional materials, which is nice. But if you really wanted to print promotional materials I'd suggest using a printing service like VistaPrints or Overnight Prints. Both are online printers which will print on nearly anything from book marks to t-shirts, mugs, calendars, posters, signs, bags, pens, notepads, mouse pads, business cards, post cards, and on and on it goes.
Now, let's discuss the e-book services. Both Create Space and LuLu let you publish your digital e-books for FREE. They even give you free ISBN numbers. This saves a lot of money, but you are limited to their select templates. And if you use their ISBN number, you can only sell your books on their website. And even though LuLu offers a better quality of printed book, Amazon has the widest reach of any book publisher, even beating out the traditional Big Five, which is why so many Indy authors and micro-presses choose to use CreateSpace and KDP.
What's KDP? Glad you asked.
The thing is, no matter what service you use to create your actual book, you're going to have to become familiar with KDP -- Kindle Direct Publishing.
I say this because when you make your e-book, this is going to be your main service since it is the Kindle platform that sells the most books. (Don't worry, CreateSpace and KDP are linked together, but you'll need to set up an account for both).
If you want to level up your printing skills, and you want to perhaps do more with your books than what either LuLu or CreateSpace can offer you, then you'll need to familiarize yourself with INGRAM and Lightning Source. They offer the most professional print services, since they are the print services all the professional publishers use. They offer a full range of options for POD books as well. But you have to have your files made precisely according to their specifications. It's a bit more technical than the others, so I only recommend going this route for advances users or those who have enough money to pay someone to format their books for them.
Oh, and you'll need to supply your own ISBN numbers for publishing through Lightning Source. You can supply your own ISBN number for any service, but they aren't exactly cheap. Especially if you plan on publishing more than five books a year. That said, if you want fancy hard covers with slipcases, embossed print, or high-quality paper you may decide to level up and shell out some $$ for some personal ISBN numbers. You can buy them from Bowker. The ISBN sales page can be found HERE.
A pack of ten ISBN numbers goes for $250 (USD). A pack of 100 goes for $575. So you can see why a FREE ISBN number from CreateSpace or LuLu is so attractive to authors.
The Three Most Important Aspects to a Book...
Now, that's just picking a service. Unless you intend to learn everything yourself, you'll need to HIRE talented people to help you put the book together.
The three most important aspects to a book are: COVER, EDITING, and FORMATING.
As such, the most important services a first time author will need to rely on are COVER ARTIST, EDITOR, and BOOK FORMATTER.
Now, cover prices range depending on the talent of the artist and what you're going for. But a high end cover like my BITTEN zombie book cover costs about $500 to $600.
I have a series of cover artists I work with. The guy who did BITTEN works at StreetlightGraphics.com They're the company I highly recommend because they can do cover design and formatting and offer reasonably priced packages.
Actually, they're the cheapest I've found for professional work. They also can handle logo design as well as make maps and legends and 3D art for your book.
Another excellent cover design artist, whom I've used, is Christian Bentulan. He is fast and quality. In fact, he has the fastest turn around of any cover artists I've seen and always pumps out beautiful covers. I highly recommend him if you need a book cover ASAP. You can find his work at:
Now, here's the thing that needs to be said.
Before you do any of this you MUST finish your book first!
The reason is simple. The second step in all of these is always handing in or uploading your finished book file. If you don't have your book completed, getting beyond step 2 in a 10 step process will be fairly difficutl. That, I hope, is obvious.
But be sure you're not just typing your manuscript and then uploading or submitting your book. That would be terrible. You want to be professional, always, and here's why. One angry reviewer on Amazon will give you a one-star review, and that's fine if you have two-hundred rave reviews. But if your new, and they ding you for quality, seeing a one-star review will be devastating to your book sales as well as readability. Oh, and people really do judge books by their covers. So, you better have a really gorgeous, professional looking cover.
Let me stress this point. Hire an editor. Hire a cover designer. Get the formatting right.
If you miss any of these aspects, your book will be ripped to shreds by unhappy reader-customers, and they won't hold their punches. And that literally will make or break you as a self-published writer. And then, if you crash and burn, you'll either have to go back to submitting inquiries to traditional publishers or create a pen name and start all over again.
So get it right the first time around. That's key.
Coincidentally, editing is the most expensive part of book making. For a 300 page book it costs anywhere from $1200 to $1400. That's on top of the $600 for a decent cover and another $200 to $400 for book formatting. On average, to publish 1 book yourself will cost around $2,000 to $2,400.
It ain't cheap.
Oh, and you won't be getting that money back any time soon. It took my first novel, BITTEN, three long years to get back the money it cost to produce and publish.
But here's the thing. You do it because you believe in it. You have a passion for it. And when you go broke publishing your first novel, but are busily budgeting out how you're going to pay for the second one, then you'll know you're doing it for the love of writing and telling stories. And then, the rest is just math.
Digital Platform and Promotion...
The first step is to get the book written.
The second step is to get the book made and publish it.
The third step is promotion... and when it comes to any kind of promotion, whether it's self promotion or paid, having a website is vital.
That's the third step. Set up a website. You'll use it to brand yourself, or your pen name, and it will also act as your springboard for any future promotion you'll do for your books and writing.
There are numerous free blogging/website platforms you can use. From Google's BLOGGER to Wordpress to FourSquare and others. I use WEEBLY because it's easy and fast and is a website with a blog feature.
You can see what I mean by visiting my website: www.tristanvick.com
Once you have your official author website up, you can link all your social media to it. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or any other number of social media services, your website will be your main hub where everyone links back to.
On your website you should have an easy to read layout of your books with links to where people can purchase them.
You should also create a newsletter to start interacting with a fan-base. Most people use MailChimp, as it's easy and free. Weebly has a built in service as well, but it's limited without buying and upgrading their pro package.
Finally, try not to abuse your social media and digital platforms. What I mean by this is that it's not a place to advertise your material 24/7. People don't want to view the same old commercial again and again. They like engagement. People respond to content.
This means you'll likely need to start a blog where you talk about writing or write movie reviews, or what have you. The idea is to generate interest in you as a person. But try to focus on stuff related to the medium of writing and publishing and storytelling. If you go off on religious or political rants, it may turn off a large portion of potential readers.
The idea is to drive people to your books, not drive them away.
Generating content is the best way to do this, but make it entertaining and/or informational. Stick to what people like to read about. Anything else can be regulated to a secondary blog or separate website. The point is, if you want to be thought of as a professional writer, then you have to keep a certain air of professionalism.
But that should be obvious.
Once you have your website set up, the rest is just grunt work. But don't let your blogging interfere with your writing schedule. I only blog once or twice a month. The rest of the time I focus on my writing and producing quality books. Although, I've been known to waste far too much time on Facebook, but, heck, nobody is perfect.
This concludes my insights into self-publishing. I hope they help you get the jump-start you need on your own writing career. If you have any specific questions about writing or publishing, feel free to leave a comment below or email me.
Thanks for listening.
I'd like to thank Christian Bentulan for taking my concept and improving it.
This cover is beautiful!
You can check out Christian's cover designs at: Covers By Christian.com.
A friend suggested that Starfleet in STNG was a dystopia set within a utopia. I've given that a lot of thought, not only because it poses interesting philosophical and political questions, but because the geek in me couldn't resist.
I actually must disagree. I think that the dystopia would have to be the default position for this to hold true. I don't see Starfleet as a dystopia within the United Federation of Planets, being the utopia.
I think what Starfleet is, technically, is a militarized science division that often comes into conflict with its own principles because of its interaction with lesser evolved civilizations, which force it to have to adapt to scenarios which a self-sustaining utopia does not have to encounter.
Or think of it like this. Starfleet acts like an event horizon which safeguards the utopia. If you can make it past the checks and balances of Starfleet's rigid entrance policies, then you can get subsumed by the utopia. If not, you get bounced out, much like Hawking radiation getting ejected from a black hole.
But I do not take this to mean Starfleet itself is a dystopia, because things would have to be generally unpleasant and bad. And although Starfleet is definitely totalitarian, it isn't always generally a bad place.
I think what we need to consider is that our current understanding of utopian and dystopian societies are limited, in part, by the tropes which play out in fiction. But if given serious thought, we find perhaps our versions of them have been stereotyped to bad Hollywood representations.
I think both utopias and dystopias, if they were to truly exist, would be much more complex systems than typically depicted.
I replied by stating it seems that The United Federation of Planets is a utopia in constant flux as it tries to retains itself amongst non-utopian worlds. This is, in part, directly due to the efforts of Starfleet to expand the Federation to other worlds. If they were left to their own, the utopia may stabilize. But there would be no advancement of knowledge or growth, since Starfleet would no longer serve a purpose.
The things with dystopias is that they tend to have totalitarian regimes which take over the utopia. Hence, become dystopias. As far as I can tell Starfleet has not attempted to overthrow the Federation, and exists democratically alongside it. The Federation still has its own democratically elected President, who like the Commander in Chief, also presides over a cabinet of Admiral who govern Starfleet.
It seems this gives them more of a Socialized Democratic feel where there are systems in check which prevent Starfleet from taking over entirely. Except, you know, when that becomes the plot line -- such as in the recent Into Darkness film which was exactly about that sort of thing.
Shout out to my friend, Joshua Ray Derke, for raising the interesting topic.
I was hesitant at first to create an omnibus this early in the series. There are 3 more books scheduled, but I felt because I could offer it at a more affordable price then it would be worth it to readers who might take a chance on all 3 books, since the cost would be better than buying them individually.
At the same time, it reads really tightly as this series is extremely interconnected. I thought it would be nice to have all three novels in one tight package so you could get the full effect of how well they blend into one another.
Please enjoy the excerpt from BITTEN 1 below! And be sure to check out BITTEN 3 and the BITTEN Omnibus edition collecting the first three novels!
Excerpt from BITTEN 1 (By Tristan Vick)
Scrambling to get their clothes back on, Jesse screeched, “What the hell, man?!” as he tucked himself back into his pants. Likewise, Hurley had already tucked her girls back into her shirt and gave her skirt a tug as she pulled it back into place. Although the moment was spoiled, it seemed the guard was more concerned with securing the door than anything they might have been doing.
Sweat patches grew around the guard’s chest and armpits, as if he’d just run the Boston marathon, and saturated his standard-issue blue uniform. His bald, brown, head glistened with moisture under the florescent lights of the copy room, and his closely trimmed black goatee gave him that prim and proper look expected in a security guard. In a panic, he yelled at them, “Get back!” Suddenly he tugged the copy machine away from the wall and wedged it up against the door he had just come through.
“Totally not cool, dude,” Jesse said as he hastily fastened his belt. “Did it ever occur to you to, you know, maybe knock first?”
Before any further complaints could be made, something slammed into the door with such a horrific force that Jennifer thought the door would tear off from its hinges. Jennifer screamed, then, composing herself, asked, “What the hell was that?”
Out of breath, the guard huffed, “We gotta get the hell out of here.” Before he could explain any further, there was another loud thud. The door buckled, but it held—just barely. Somebody wanted into the room badly. Whoever it was, they were certainly intent on breaking the damn door down.
Jennifer stared at the fat security guard with a probing look.
“What’s going on here?”
“I’m being chased,” the guard answered.
Thud! With the third impact the door latch gave out, and the door tore open. The copier rattled back as it absorbed the brunt of the impact. Throwing the whole of his body weight against the unlatched door, the security guard slammed it back shut.
“You two have to get out of here…now!”
“What are you talking about?” Zanato replied, not giving two figs about the oddity of the situation they found themselves in. “We were here first. Why don’t you just take your crazy-ass shit somewhere else?”
Jennifer grabbed Jesse’s arm and, with an agitated look, stated, “Leave him be. I don’t want to get caught up in his mess. Let’s just get out of here. We’ll take the rear exit.”
“Fine by me,” Zanato affirmed. But before they could turn to leave, the door came crashing in and the security guard crashed to the floor.
The guard drew his gun out and aimed it at the open entrance. His arms shook with equal parts adrenaline and fear, which made holding the gun steady a more difficult task than it should be. He was trained, but not for this. Not this.
Suddenly three pallid bodies pushed their way into the room. Their eyes were all fogged over with a murky white glaze. Even the pupils had faded to gray. Patches of their skin had turned jaundice yellow and were peeling off in layers. They looked more like corpses than the living.
Jennifer gasped, “My God! Their faces! They’re all torn to shreds, as if—”
“GraHhrrr!” growled a man in a cheap navy blue suit and wearing a generic red necktie. Chunks of bloody meat dangled from his excoriated chin. It looked like some kind of wild animal had mauled him.
“Holy shit balls!” cried Jesse Zanato, as he backed toward the rear door. “They’re mother fucking zombies!”
“Don’t say that!” Hurley snapped. “We don’t know what the hell they are.”
Without any further hesitation, the guard took careful aim and fired off several shots into the man’s chest. But even having taken two bullets at point-blank range, the white-eyed man kept scratching and clawing at the guard.
Zanato and Jennifer watched in horror as the others crouched down and joined in on the frenzy. The man’s snapping teeth latched onto the guard’s ear and tore it off. The guard howled out in pain. Covering his bloodied ear with his free hand, he put his gun to the head of the mad man and pulled the trigger. With a loud bang, bloody chunks of gray matter blew out to top of the man’s skull and splattered against the wall.
Jennifer and Jesse watched in terror-filled awe as the man’s body fell to the side, giving ample room for the others to bend down and rip into the security guard’s torso.
Ripping off his shirt, their cracked fingernails clawed at his skin. Tearing into his flesh, their hands pushed inside his gut, and the guard yowled as his ribs cracked like dry branches. Even as he was still wide-eyed and conscious, they began ripping out his organs. The guard let out one last blood-curdling scream as they pried him open like a walnut and disemboweled him, then his head fell limp and the awful screaming stopped.
“Jesus Christ!” Hurley exclaimed, barely able to breathe, as she watched the monsters reach inside him and pulled out what looked like a chain of raw blood sausages, then they bit into the guard’s intestines.
Taking her arm, Zanato peeled her away from the scene. “See, I told you they’re zombies. Now, come on! We have to get the fuck outta here!”
Hand in hand, they dashed out the back door and tore down the hall and made their way to the elevator. Jamming the elevator button repeatedly, Jennifer chanted, “Come on! Come on! Come on!” But the elevator was indifferent to her button mashing. Finally, the chime dinged and the doors opened. Looking in, Zanato and Hurley saw Ramirez’s secretary lying on the floor, her chest split open like a melon, and a bloodstained UPS man hunched over her, eating her thigh meat. Sluggishly, the white-eyed delivery man looked up at them, and Jennifer Hurley covered her mouth and gasped.
“The stairs!” Zanato cried out, tugging on Hurley’s arm. “Follow me!” Jesse Zanato took Hurley’s hand and they ran into the stairwell.
“Do you know where you’re going?” Hurley asked.
“Away from here,” Zanato said, his voice filled with fear.
Bitten 3 : Kingdom of the Living Dead brings together the characters of Bitten Resurrection and Bitten 2 Land of the Rising Dead for one frightening zombie filled epic.
Rachael Ramirez is in search of the origins of the Resurrection Virus and her journey takes her to far away Japan, where she meets a precarious young Japanese girl, Saeko Sakaguchi, with similar abilities as her.
Together the two women look for answers to who, or what, is behind the contagion. But before they can investigate the matter to any satisfaction, the head of the Yakuza, Ijin Gen aka "Gen the Barbarian", decides to slaughter half of the population of the last human settlement, Aokigahara village, in a show of power.
Taking things personally, Saeko swears vengeance, and Rachael decides to guide the young woman and teach her how to unlock the true potential of the mysterious powers given to them by the Resurrection Virus.
The only question is, will two super-powered women be enough to take down the entire Yakuza all the while having to fend of a never-ending onslaught of zombies amid the densest and biggest city on the planet?
At the same time, on the other side of the world, Alyssa Briggs and the Cowboy, Gordon Longstaff, and their trustworthy companion Frank, the Pembroke corgi, run into a familiar face. But none of them seem to be too happy about it. Taken prisoner, they are given a simple ultimatum -- either ally themselves with the Blood Queen or be made her play things. The only question is, can they survive her mad, zombie infested, dinner party?
Bitten 3: Kingdom of the Living Dead is the battle filled collision of BITTEN 1 and BITTEN 2 characters and the third installment in the Resurrection Virus Saga. It's a character driven, survival-horror, story for adults. The squeamish need not apply. 67,000 words.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.
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