Spell/Sword Housekeeping and Editing Strategic Planning

This will probably be boring. This is one of those ‘announce publicly my rough schedule and plan so I feel obligated to stick to it’ sort of posts. It may be helpful to other writers or indie-publishers who want a window into the behind-the-scenes process, or if you’re just curious where my next book is on the assembly line.

  • Finish rough draft of The Riddle Box.   [COMPLETE.] – 9/24

  • Revamp of print and Kindle versions of Spell/Sword

  1. Contact and recruit Copy-editing Strike Forcebriton6
  2. Print/order copies of Spell/Sword for copy proofing.
  3. Distribute to CSF, then collect edits when complete
  4. Enter corrections into CreateSpace template, then submit to service for re-release and update of Spell/Sword.
  5. Print Version first, then Kindle, so there is always one version available for sale during review downtime by CreateSpace and KDP.
  • Contact prospective Beta Readers for The Riddle Box

  1. It will be nearly a month before The Riddle Box is ready for review, but some may need time to make sure they’ve read the published version of Spell/Sword.
  2. Also, consider inviting a Beta Reader who has not read Spell/Sword, to see how well the book plays without preamble.
  • All of previous steps must be complete before beginning to edit rough draft. [!]

  • Rough Draft Editing

  1. Print out paper copy and read with a brightly colored Sharpie in my hand.  Story edits, logic fixes, detail matching. Cut or add to draft based on this pass.
  2. Read updated draft and record audio. Listen to audio while editing. Major grammar problems, sonic issues, repetitive language, wonky rhythms, things that just sound stupid when said out loud. Cut or add to draft based on this pass.
  3. Depending on severity of changes, potentially re-record audio for new/fresh pass.
  • Cry for a little while. Quietly and softly.

  • Distribute to Beta Readers for review. (Give readers a deadline?)

  • Anxiety Demons Jamboree [!]

  • Contact illustrator and cover designer to begin work on new cover art and cover layout.

  • Respond to edits submitted by Beta Readers, update the draft.

  • Place Final Draft on CreateSpace template for print.

  • Distribute template to CSF [Copy-editing Strike Force] for Quality Control

  • Submit Final Print Edition to CreateSpace and KDP for review and publishing.

  • Promote launch of The Riddle Box.

  • Begin work on third book, Asteroid Made of Dragons

The Riddle Box is complete!

tumblr_ms92felyC91rfpa79o1_500

Well, the first draft anyway. I’m flabbergasted, exhausted, and other adjectives.  I’ve written 62 pages in the past 11 days, and I freely admit there are some dodgy, dodgy bits in that last sprint to the end — but it’s all there. It’s a complete narrative, it works how I wanted it to, ends how i wanted it to. On Spell/Sword it took me longer to edit than to write, so I take comfort that I can take as long as I need to fix all of the fiddly bits. I’m tremendously proud of this one, I have no problem saying [believing] that this book is better than the first. I’m going to put in a drawer for a couple of weeks and let it cool down and come back fresh — I’m sure then I’ll be singing a different tune, but for now LOVE AND PEACE.

Here’s some crunchy numbers:

Spell/Sword

In published form: 52,000 words

 

The Riddle Box

Rough Draft: 65,000 words [21% longer!]

Started Writing: 4/26/2013

Finished Rough Draft: 9/24/2013

 

YEAH! Excited and a little exhausted. I’m going to unplug my brain and put it in a nice cool cup of yogurt for a while.

Results

So, I gave my book away on Kindle for five days, how’d that go?

This is mainly for the edification of other self-publishers, or folks who are just super nosy about my BIZZ.

Big Caveat, right off the top. I am a terrible and slap-dash marketer. There are many, many people on the internet who are much more consistent, pervasive, disciplined…and successful than I am at self promotion. So this was an experiment, with little leadup-or follow through. I knew I was going to attend DragonCon, that place is bursting at the seam with nerds, fish in a barrel, right?

So, here’s what I did to prepare.

  • I went through my Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard, and activated the days I wanted for the Free Promotion.  You are
    Promotional Card in the Wild
    Promotional Card in the Wild

    allowed 5 days per…quarter? I went ahead and set it to run over all of Labor Day Weekend, and then the Tuesday after. The rationale being, that if people find out about the sale, or pick up some of my promotional items, they can download the book when they get home.

  • Talked it up here on my blog, and also on my Facebook fanpage. [Become a fan, if you’re so inclined! There’s all sorts of randomness I drop on the fanpage, that doesn’t merit a full blog post. Button’s on the right hand side of the page.]
  • Made a post in a Free Ebook subreddit, to hopefully attract some folks to my blog.
  • Printed 1000 business cards to pass out at Dragon*Con, each with the cover art on one side, and a quick pithy description of the special and the book on the back, with a QR code that lead directly to Amazon. [This cost me about $50 bucks.]
  • Printed up some special shirts for my local friends who were attending the convention. [And also stuffed a few cards in their hands to pass out themselves.]
  • Quick pact with a lesser demon.

Things I Didn’t Do [and Probably Should Have]

  • There are tons of sites and twitter feeds that advertise Free Ebooks. I researched a few, but it all just seemed so sleazy and mechanical. I’m as desperate for readers as any other Level One Author, but I’m hoping to start this out with something a little more personable than a free Ebook spam. There probably are better venues out there that I didn’t find, but as usual, I ran out of time and decided not to worry about it.
  • Attend Lev Grossman’s panel and denounce him.
  • Throw some cards at Jim Butcher like ninja stars.
  • Make a lengthy pact with a major demon.

So, a fair amount of time invested, and a small amount of cash. How did it turn out!

 

Free Downloads of Spell/Sword: 315

 

315. Copies of my book. Out there in the world. Hopefully 315 copies that will be read and cherished and reviewed on Amazon or Goodreads. Spell/Sword is sold through two services on the Amazon platform, Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace for the paper version. Because of this it’s a little fuzzy on getting exact sales numbers, especially going back all the way to April when the book was released. Prior to this special, my lifetime sales of the book were somewhere between 125-175 copies.  That means in one weekend, I increased the number of copies of my book in the world by easily 200%.

I’m sure other authors have had more success than I, with much better planned promotional strategies. But I’m stoked, regardless! For the amount of time and money required, this thing was an excellent experiment.

As usual, I ramble. Let me know if you have any questions about any of these numbers or details, or about the processes used to make all of this happen.

Spell/Sword Absolutely Free on the Kindle [8/30- 9/3] – Dragon*Con Special

Kindle Version
Kindle Version

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.

Look, you’re a smart person. I’ve just spent a whole week listing reasons why my book is going to be free, and why you should take a few seconds to download it for free this weekend. But I know none of that matters. You are a discerning individual, who makes decisions in their own time –in their own way.

So if this doesn’t convince you, The Seven Reasons My Book is Worthless:

1. Sideways

2. Friendship

3. No One Is Reading It

4. The Next One Is Coming

5. The Dream

6. Dragon*Con

7. Because It Isn’t

And none of the blathering I’ve filled this blog with convinces you:

And even if you don’t trust me, and the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads don’t convince you.

Even after all that, you still won’t give Spell/Sword a chance when it costs you zero moneys — well, then I guess you’re just a hard nut to crack.

I mean lighten up. It’s just a little space on your Kindle, or your smartphone, or your PC.

What do you want from me — to look into your eyes, convince you in person, get on my knees?

VERY WELL.

Dragon*Con Challenge

But only if you’re under a waterfall.

I’m going to be at Dragon*Con in Atlanta this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you need even more convincing, comment on this post with your location or a way to contact you — and I WILL FIND YOU.

Anywhere on the grounds of Dragon*Con.

Unless, you know, I’m asleep or something.

I will come to you and look into your eyes.

And music will play. And fairies with pan-flutes will appear.

And a cobalt-steel gryphon will coalesce from the ether, rockets blazing.

And you will download Spell/Sword for free on your freaking Kindle.

Man, you made this hard.

 

Reason Number Seven Why My Book is Worthless: Because It Isn’t

And here’s the one where I stop being self-deprecating, and lean on the Vainglory Lever.

In my unbiased opinion, Spell/Sword is the most important book currently available in print. It’s cheeky, unbalanced, not professionally edited — it’s peppered with the mistakes that a Level One Fantasy Author, such as myself, is bound to make. But it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter. Because I’m on to something. I’m up to something. I’m taking a swing at the whole epic fantasy genre. Tropes and troubadours and troubles and trousers. I want to break it and honor it and love it and push it screaming off a cliff.

And I’m doing it wrong, I’m making mistakes. But in the rubble I will stumble into moments of glory and wonder.

Reason #7: Because It Isn’t

I wrote a book! I worked very hard on it, and damn if it isn’t unique and spiffy.

Run down to the bookstore, or glance over your Goodreads lists. How many of them have all of these things?

– fairy tale mythos

– an eel-powered juke box

– a female protagonist with no romance subplot

Artist – Andrew – ~shu-no-kurohi. [My first fanart!]
Artist – Andrew – ~shu-no-kurohi. [My first fanart!]
– a male protagonist who uses a sword, but isn’t really that good at it

– roller-skating frogs

– a long lost civilization whose technology and architecture have completely defined the modern era — but are only barely mentioned or explained (Trust me, it’s for your own good. If you get me going about the Precursors, the Arkanic civilization, the books are going to get really, reeeeaaaaallly long.]

– lesbian bards who’s sexual preference is of almost no interest or relevance to the narrative

– foreshadowing that doesn’t resolve in the same book (it’s episodic story structure, DEAL WITH IT)

– bunnies with mechs

– villains who aren’t

– heroes who aren’t

– the only book that lives in what Terry Pratchett called the ‘consensus fantasy universe’.

– one really mean turtle

– The Gray Witch [shudder]

This book is my first controlled stab at establishing Swordpunk, and even through all my anxiety and hubris — I think it matters. I think my work matters. I think there are a lot of people who can pick up the melody, and will want to sing along.

I’m going toe to toe with authors with a lot more experience, the armory of a publisher at their back, and let’s be honest, almost as much talent. I’m never going to get there if more people don’t read the book, and join the Swordpunk Army.

Or I could be wrong. I could be talking a great game, and the book is still garbage.

Want to find out?

Here’s your chance.

Prove me wrong or join the ranks.

I freaking dare you.

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.

Previous Reasons:

1. Sideways

2. Friendship

3. No One Is Reading It

4. The Next One Is Coming

5. The Dream

6. Dragon*Con

Reason Number Six Why My Book is Worthless: Dragon*Con

One of the many difficulties of being a self-published, broke-ass author is exposure. You don’t have a publisher’s marketing department behind you, you have no prior work to lend credence to your work, your operating budget for publicity is whatever cash you can scrape together after you pay rent, utilities and your re-occurring subscription to Jams and Jellies of Eurasia Quarterly.

Your only recourse is a slow-slog. Word of mouth from your friends and family helps, but it’s a trickle. You go from blog to blog, hat in hand, begging for reviews. Throwing rocks every which way on the internet, hoping the book will hit the right person at the right time.

I’m throwing darts at the cosmos, here.

So, when the chance arrives to throw more darts, it’s an opportunity that cannot be missed.

Reason #6: Dragon*Con

I’ve gone to this convention for the past several years, but this time I go as an Underground Sensation.

I’ve printed up some T-shirts for my kind friends and Brand Ambassadors who will be attending, and in their pockets will be hundreds of business cards. Simple cards advertising the Free Kindle version of Spell/Sword.

They look like this!
They look like this!

I just have to hope and pray that people take them, that people find them where I hide them, that con-goers won’t find it weird to find stacks of these arranged like a ziggurat in the Men’s Bathroom at the Hyatt.

There’s no special code or anything, the book is just going to be free on these dates.

In a crowd of 50,000-100,000 nerds, dorks, and geeks – there must be a few that can catch what I’m laying down.

Hey! In the remote chance that you read this AND you find one at the Con — take a picture of yourself with it, and send it to me. I will be completely flabbergasted and gin up some sort of reward for you.

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.

Reason Number Five Why My Book is Worthless: The Dream

I am a creature of avarice and cynicism.  Pure altruism, idealistic devotion, working on faith — these are all grand, wonderful things that I have a serious problem operating with. If I’m doing something, if I’m working towards something, I need there to be a concrete goal.  A carrot on the end of the stick. I want my paycheck. I want my experience points, and if I break all the jars there better be some fucking rupees shining inside.

So, how am I able to keep working on my self-published fantasy series? A difficult task with innumerable pitfalls, hurdles, frustrations, despairs, and sorrows — a task with little immediate gain, far less ultimate reward…and an atom’s breadth chance of eventual success in the world at large.

Come close, let me whisper it to you. What I see at the end of the road, my dream job.

Reason #5: The Dream

I wake up in the morning around 8:30. I lay in bed for a bit and collect myself, maybe thumb through the internets conveniently distilled onto my phone. Then I get up, conduct my morning toilette, walk the dogs, feed the dogs, pet the dogs.  Household tended to, I head to my office.

58349_10100103643090260_4936329_n
The Author in Repose

At first it’s just a desk in the back of the house, but slowly as time passes it morphs into an office. Some quiet corner made of brick and steel, with comfy leather chairs and an upstairs loft where I’ve constructed a nap room.

I sit down, sometime around 9:30-10. I flip open my noble Chromebook, or jab the spacebar of the hulking computorial behemoth I’ve purchased with my latest writing advance.

And then I write.

I write stupid stories, and funny stories, and stories full of blood and woe. Stories about Jonas and Rime and their long, strange journey.

And somewhere out there in the stranger world, people pay to read them. They pay me enough that this is all I need to do.

Some hours later, friends wander into my office and I stop working. I go for a long late lunch, then come back to my office to write some more.

I knock off in the early afternoon to beat the traffic, and because it’s time to go pet the dogs.

I walk home, planning the evening and letting the day’s stories settle and writhe in the weird back 40 of my brain.

The next day I do it again.

That’s my dream. My carrot, my XP, my rupees in the jar.

That’s why the book is free. Because that dream is way better than the buck I’ll make from you buying it.

So give it a shot, eh?

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.

Reason Number Four Why My Book is Worthless: The Next One is Coming

Spell/Sword is not an epic trilogy. It is an episodic dodecasaga with extra walnuts and chocolate syrup.

For those of you that have read the book, fear not! There is a Grand Plan, a Tragedy Writ Large, a Plot If You Will. But instead of cramming it all into a neat Star Wars/Lord of the Rings box — it’s in a shiny manga box.  Each book is designed to stand on its own as the adventure du jour, the Beast of the Week, almost like tuning into an hour-long anime — but slowly at first, then with alarming regularity the shape of My Nefarious Design will be revealed.

Spell/Sword is my first book, and my pride and love for it is embarrassing. But what keeps me pushing it, keeps me bullying friends and strangers to give it a try, is the excitement of where we are going — of what comes Next.

elijah2

Reason #4: The Next One is Coming

The second book is called The Riddle Box and it picks up a week or two after the events of Spell/Sword.

And before you ask, yes, Jonas and Rime have already lost the wyvern. And, no, I will never explain how.

If you don’t read the first one, how will have any chance of reading the second one, where this absurdity takes place?

“I have a sword,” Jonas finally spoke up. “Though, Funnicello confiscated it.”

“It is most likely stored in his quarters, guardian. As well as a few other simple blades and—” Lord Bellwether took a breath to finish his sentence, but was forestalled when the bard finally sprung from his pose of studied apathy and bounded up a few stairs, then turned placing his fists on his hips.

“I have a weapon,” Geranium sang.

“Err. What?” Father Andrew raised a hand in confusion.

“The greatest weapon, the only blade any true Bard of Gate City could need,” the tall man in the cobalt coat let his voice fly up a careful scale, the last words an arpeggio.

Rime bit down on her frustration and slogged back through the blood to throttle the bard. “Can’t you all tell? He’s been waiting to say this, he’s been dying to perform this little scene and I won’t—”

Trowel, Coracle and Neriah all shushed her,then turned their attention back to the bard. All of the female guests. Rime spluttered.

Geranium the Eruption snapped his pink-neon fingers.

“Lady Moon-Death, come to me!” He held his hands up high with ecstatic abandon.

A metallic twang came from the second floor, a gryphon-roar of music.  The black guitar howled through the air and stopped directly above Geranium. It lowered itself slowly, a quick rainstorm of notes spattered from the strings. The bard’s face was beatific, and he cradled the instrument close as it came to him.

“Forever, my love,” he crooned.

The three female guests applauded, and were quickly joined by the priest and the almost forgotten actors across the lobby.

“Thank you, thank you,” Geranium smiled with thousand-stage familiarity.

So get on board, dammit! Or you’ll never read the part where Jonas investigates a giant safe shaped like a cow.

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.

Reason Number Three Why My Book is Worthless: No One Is Reading It

A little on the nose? MAYBE.

Spell/Sword Fan Club - Third Meeting
Spell/Sword Fan Club – Third Meeting

Reason #3: No One Is Reading It

Here’s a short list of people in my life who haven’t read Spell/Sword.

  • My father
  • My brother

    The Former Secretary of the UN hasn't even cracked the cover.
    This Former Secretary of the UN hasn’t even cracked the cover.
  • My sister in law
  • My girlfriend’s parents
  • My cousins
  • My former roommate
  • Neil Gaiman
  • President Barack Obama
  • Janelle Monae
  • Pat Rothfuss
  • My Pen Pal in Japan
  • 35% of my  D&D Group
  • Jonathan Franzen [big surprise, there]
  • Lev Grossman [he isn’t allowed]

It’s the sad truth of self-publishing. You’re always trying to expand beyond your social circle and break through to new readers, fresh readers, readers who you can’t drive to their house and stand over them while they read it.

And, as is clear, I’m not even getting 100% permeation of my kith and kin.

I’ve made the book an Amazon exclusive for several reason — but one of which is the ability to make it free like this at regular intervals. I’ve never understood why so many self-publishers are nervous about this, becoming over-covetous of the trickle of money you get for each sale. Right now, it’s WAY more important that people read the book than buy the book.

After the initial burst of interest in the book on release, it’s slowly dwindled to a slow, agonizing grind. A book here, a book there., a new review this week, a few stars doled out on Goodreads that week. I’m really hoping that this Free-stravaganza will help get my book out into a wider circle.

Every new -sucker- reader is another win in my book. And FOR my book.

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.