Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Once in a Lifetime Type of Release

Curse Bearer, the first book in The Risen Age Archive released in early October, an I have been swept up in a whirlwind of activity in my efforts to work the promotion angle for this book. As many of you may recall, back in the end of August, I ran a successful Kickstarter Campaign to fund the marketing campaign for this book. We reached the $3500 funding goal in about 19 days, and even after the campaign was over, the donations continued to come in. We ended up raising $4997, all told.

The Kickstarter campaign, in and of itself, worked as a marketing tool for the book because it generated some presales of the novel as well as interesting some of my local media outlets in what I was doing...something that might not have happened without taking a trendy approach to this book release. With the funds raised from the campaign, I will be able to push the book in targeted markets. With the extra donations, I will be able to enter fiction contests and try to win some accolades for the novel. These are techniques I hope to employ with every book I release from here on.

The expenditure I will probably never be able to undertake again was the scale of the release event that we did at the Renaissance Faire here at Mount Hope Winery in Pennsylvania. Now, there are Ren Faires, and there are Ren Faires. The PA Faire has permanent grounds, a professional troupe, over 120 shows scheduled throughout each Faire day...well it's a flagship of such events. So the release party I held there was pricey--but absolutely worth it. However, it's not something I could justify asking my fans to pay for more than once. Now, if I sold tens of thousands of books over the next couple years, you bet I would keep investing a portion of those royalties in large-scale promotional events.

So what advice would I give to authors considering "going big" on an event to promote their books?

1.) Give yourself a LOT of time to get it together. Think about what it takes to plan a wedding. This Kickstarter and event involved almost as many logistical details. If I ever do this again, I will give myself a minimum of six months to pull it together so I don't skirt the edge of a nervous breakdown like I did last week.

2.) A private event like I did was lovely and fun, but if you can find a way to do your release event in a public area where you can snag passers-by, do so. You'll sell more books. But you'll also have to be flexible in how much food and drink you can offer. You may run out, or you may be eating spanakopita for every meal for the next three days. There's no way to know. But if you do an "open" event, be sure to specifically invite and get firm RSVPs from a core group of attendees, if at all possible. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.

3.) Wear corrective eyewear if you need it for your reading. I wasn't wearing my glasses because I was in costume, and realized I didn't have them on about 2 minutes into my reading. It was a struggle. I think I covered it well, but the fewer worries and headaches, the better.

4.) Don't MC your own event. I am hugely grateful for a friend who guided our time. It's way better to have someone else talk you up than to do it yourself.

5.) Remember to have fun! The folks who come will be there because they like you, your writing, or because it all looks interesting enough to linger. Enjoy those folks.

6.) And lastly, if at all possible, build in a day to do nothing after the event is over. Especially if you are naturally introverted like me. I was an exhausted mess on Monday, and had I not just started a new job, I would have benefited mightily from a day to stay in my jammies, write a few thank you notes, and generally recharge.

If you do find yourself in a position to sponsor a large event to celebrate a book release, I highly recommend it. If someone invites you to one--go! Whether as the creator or the attendee, you will have lots of fun and memories generated by celebrating with others.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do You NaNo?

November is coming. And November mean NaNoWriMo...or to those of you newer to authorial circles: National Novel Writing Month. It's a sort of "compete against yourself" contest where authors try to write 50,000 words in one month. That's about 200 pages, at least the way I set margins and line spacing. This requires a per-day average of a little over 1600 words, but really, it's more, because I don't know anybody who writes every day of the week.

I have never yet in my 5 years of writing fiction tackled NaNo. Every year, it comes around and I think, "I'd really LIKE to do it this year, but..." This year, I am going to kick myself in the tush and do it. Why? Because the fact is, every project I've got on my hard drive right now is published in some form or another. (Two of them will be self published in the next couple of weeks in order to fulfill rewards for my Kickstarter campaign, and all my completed Windrider and Curse Bearer stuff is not out on the market.) I need to get the third Windrider book into the publishing meat grinder, and since life has been keeping me from writing ANYTHING on it for the past month, I've decided, it's NaNo for me. No excuses.

Now, the trouble is, this probably means I'm going to have to do the thing I've been dreading doing for a long time now...get up early. I'm finding my new work schedule doesn't make evening writing very feasible, so at least for November, my plan is to get up at 5 am (booooo, hisssss), write for an hour to 90 minutes, get ready for work, and start the other part of my day.

1600 words in an hour to 90 minutes is an insane goal for me, and I imagine I will be making up some of that on Saturdays. But I have to do it. The four novels currently banging on the inside of my skull demand it.

How about you, writers? Are you going to jump into the crazy, flood stage river known as NaNo? I'll let you know how I do...and I hope the result will be to say Windrider III is done and ready for editing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Curse Bearer is Officially Out of the Bag

Many different people have referred to the process of creating books and movies like this: A book is never actually "released." It just eventually escapes.

Now, I have to admit, for as long as I have been working on my current release,Curse Bearer, I know I'll  never feel entirely sure I have done everything I possibly could have to sharpen the book. But the fact is, if I was allowed to rework everything I possibly could, I would rewrite the book over and over for my entire life, and it would never come out. There is a great lesson to be learned in calling something done and allowing it to be what it is at that point.

The reviews from my advance readers are coming in, and most of those reviews are from writers. I'm amassing a pile of solid, four-star reviews with a couple of fives thrown in. At first, the four stars were giving me heart palpitations, but the more I read them, the more at peace I am. The points that my reviewers have cited in withholding my final star are completely valid and legitimate. One reviewer spoke of an occasional inconsistency of voice, which I completely get--my voice has changed over the past five years of writing, but not every word of Curse Bearer has, so I suspect those passages that don't quite ring are probably the moments that this particular reviewer is talking about--remnants of the original manuscript. I am more at peace now with the imperfections of the work and am looking forward to writing the next two books that wind the series up and tell the rest of Danae's story in my current voice. It's my hope that I will be able to continue to grow and make each installment of the series more powerful as I grow in my writing. I've come a long way in five years...I can only imagine what will happen in the years to come.

Now that the book is out, I wanted to be sure to make you all aware of the giveaway I am doing on October 1st and 2nd. All you need to do is go to my facebook pages, either my personal page or my author page, and find the post where I have shared the link to Amazon for the book. If you share my link and add your own message when you share it, encouraging your friends to check out Curse Bearer, then I will enter your name into a drawing for a signed copy of the book. I would really love to get some sales going on Amazon. Although I have already done a healthy pile of direct sales, the Amazon sales are what make me visible to people I don't know. So enter the drawing and encourage your friends to as well.

The other little reminder I will throw out there...second to sales, reviews are an author's best friend. If you read a book and have a reaction to it you want to share, support that author by posting an online review. Most of us can't afford to cheat and buy reviews like many of the NY Times best seller authors do...we have to do things the old fashioned way. (Eye roll. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I bought reviews.) Feedback is the artist's MiracleGrow, in my opinion.

It's been a whirlwind, between the Kickstarter Campaign, the last minute details, the nail biting--but it's all extremely fulfilling as well. I hope, if you choose to purchase my work, that it brings you some measure of wonder and joy.