942 Downloads! Be The First To Review!

10 10 2018

The launch of “Fishtown Blood Bath” couldn’t have gone better, y’all!

As of this morning, 942 of you have downloaded the free Kindle book and are racing to be the cool kid with the first review.

At 36,000 words, it’s a quick, rowdy read. See weird vampires, guns, magic, and very nearly the end of the world.

It’ll be an afternoon well spent. Download a free copy now. Offer ends Saturday.

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback





Four More Days! Audio Book In The Works!

5 10 2018

I’ll be releasing an audio book of “Fishtown Blood Bath: Lampreyhead Book One” next year.

In the meantime, you can read it for free starting Tuesday for a limited time! Or you can read it now with your Kindle Unlimited account. Its 33K words of quirky, bloodthirsty action. Click on the cover to learn more.

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback





Writers: Packaging Your Work For Sale Through Amazon, Or “It Costs HOW MUCH?”

28 09 2018

Back when I produced a couple of movies, producers spent half their total budget on box art (yes, box art. It was VHS, then DVD). Design caught the eye and made promises about content. The slicker the design, the higher the expectation about the movie’s overall content. Back then, I learned three things:

  • Do not hire friends to do your art. It’s awkward when they screw up and you have to yell at them or threaten to sue.
  • Do not do it yourself. That will add months to your goal as you learn the software and research design basics.
  • It is worth saving up money to hire an experienced professional.

Through the writing of the Lampreyhead series, I listened to podcasts about self-publishing. Lindsey Buroker suggested hacking the cover designs of bestsellers. I did so and found the popular colors, fonts, elements, and compositions. I opened an account on 99Designs and put up my information.

I thought of Lampreyhead as being a Terry Gilliam satire of Paranormal Romance. Then I spoke with my writers’ group and found that no, Lampreyhead was much darker even than Terry Gilliam. I had first wanted a spoof cover much like Ash from “Evil Dead” with weapon held high, but I was told the series is a bit too grim for that.

Okay, from art design I already knew that all characters needed distinctive silhouettes. Harry Potter is slight with a wand, Harry Dresden had his gun and hat, Anita Blake had great hair, etc. Ned lived in his hoodie and cargo shorts, so he already had a distinctive figure. Based on my research into covers, I concluded I needed rich purples, reds, and golds. I needed a silver metallic font with serifs. Bare abs attracted attention while still being true to Ned’s vocation.

Artists submitted spec designs and I took them to my friends on Facebook. One design stood out, a design I wouldn’t have considered. Instead of a strong pose, Ned looked dead at the viewer. This struck my friends as arresting and moody, so I approved it.

Beware 99Designs. It takes a 30% cut of what you pay the artists. So when I had a regrettably long “oh could you add this” list, I became more trouble than I was worth, and the artist didn’t return my emails for Covers 2 and 3. I do not blame her. She did a great job.

She did send me Photoshop documents of the cover, so I got an artist from my on-line writers group to modify Cover One to make Covers Two and Three. There was a communication glitch and I did not get all the changes I had wanted, but the price was great.

By this time, I was hearing from podcasts that most authors did basics on Photoshop and made their own covers. I bought Photoshop Elements and cropped to make the three Kindle covers.

Total cost so far: $1200.

Advertising is going to add to this outlay.

I will probably have to pay a web designer to make a new home page. I need an aggressive email sign-up drop and WordPress sites don’t seem to do that.

So…I’ll have some info about that next week. We’ll learn together.





Writers: How I Wrote My Novella Series

26 09 2018
blueberries cake chocolate chocolate cake

Photo by Abhinav Goswami on Pexels.com

selective focus photography of people having a toast

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

CAKE OR BEER? IN TIME, I SHALL HAVE BOTH.

The three books of “Lampreyhead” are now uploaded on Amazon. A year ago, I started writing Book One. Through last Winter and Spring, I wrote Books Two and Three. I hired a cover artist, then had to hire another, and learned formatting for CreateSpace (RIP, now merged with KDP) and Kindle.

Part One! The Writing!

Peering from this site banner is Ned Winter, the protagonist of my new series “Lampreyhead.” Ned is a failed vampire prototype. The approved vampire prototype, Dracula, brought three separate bites with three separate nights of sexual ecstasy. Ned fastens on for three days straight, bringing a three-day long orgasm.

I had this “vampire prototype” joke floating in my head for almost twenty years. I wrote two  “MAD Magazine” style short stories where Lampreyhead was like Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor character, then set him aside. I wanted to write a novel about him, but the character wouldn’t work for a longer piece.

The problem with an over-the-top character is that once started, there is no room the nuance needed to sustain a longer work. The style and tone wear the reader down and eventually the humor becomes boring. To make a series, Ned needed a character arc.

I tore down the old Lampreyhead and built a new one.

I started him in modern Philadelphia USA because I know and love this area. How did her survive the centuries? How else? He’d been a gigolo since the 1400s, keeping a low profile from the church and the law. I needed him to be an underdog, so I held to the most oppressive myths regarding vampires: no silver, no sunlight, all holy objects causing spiritual agony or physical injury.

Then I took away most of the vampire perks. No transformations beyond turning into a seven foot parasitic fish. No control of lesser animals. Ordinary hearing and sight. I started feeling sorry for him, so I kept him notably stronger than humans.

For me, the big question regarding vampires is this: why would they be any more accomplished than humans? If I could live forever, would I become a violin virtuoso? Would I even pick up a violin? I lived for six years in a house that held the entire Great Books Series and I had no interest in broadening myself. I think I represent most average humans. So I made Ned not so much a slacker, as someone who settled into a decades long routine. He had no ambitions, but he also had to survive, and the birth-death cycle of mortals broke his heart.

Heart? This vampire has a heart? Yes, unlike the other prototypes, Ned has emotions.

Which gave his story a great new dimension. Most people worry about whether God exists because they see no conclusive proof. All Ned has to do is go past a church and he can feel God’s existence, but God Doesn’t Like Ned. Centuries of this knowledge would wear on a guy.

So I had a sympathetic character struggling to distract himself from his emptiness and wondering at the universe through The Fortean Times and astronomy.

I started the first book with a date. Ned has a date with an affluent, debauched woman. Ned would be well-practiced at concealing his transformation through an absolutely dark hotel room. Because he’s compassionate, he would prepare room service to have food and water ready at the door for “after care”. I threw in some lingerie, but the scene didn’t have much purpose beyond titillation.

Ned then goes to his usual diner to sit all night reading magazines. His routine is interrupted by an old friend and fellow prototype, a character of particularly gruesome nature, Gustav.

Gustav serves three purposes. He gives the reader an idea of what a horror Ned could have been and could still become. Gustav provides information that transforms Ned’s life. Gustav is a toddler with a fanged, prehensile umbilical cord. I love Gustav.

This brings Ned to a journey that is part horror and part slapstick.

Here was the problem: this left callow Ned to process these events on his own. Ned had no moral compass beyond “do as little harm as possible and survive.” He lacked the ability to distinguish Evil.

Remember his date? He still had her phone number. So I had him call her.

That’s how a throwaway character became the protagonist’s confidant for 90K words and still going strong. To grease the skids, I rewrote so that she saw Ned transform during their date. Why wouldn’t she freak out at seeing Ned attached to her? I made her a thrill-seeker also looking for answers through the supernatural.

My favorite TV show has always been “Kolchak”. One of my second favorites is “X-Files” but ONLY the “Monster of the Week” episodes. I wanted to do MotW books where Ned encountered and fought the rest of the vampire prototypes (now called the Formulae).

My research showed that a series needs a plot arc for it to be satisfying for the reader. I’ve tried to split the difference. Ned fights pretty cool vampires while picking up clues about Satan, Hell, the Apocalypse, and Magick, with an eye towards his future development.

Next time, the Editing Process.





I Learned About Self-Publishing From 50 Writers — Launching My Series (A Repost)

2 11 2017

My website URL lapsed and I had to get back online. Here’s the post that everyone missed:

I am launching a three book series in Spring of next year.

The first book has the working title “Lampreyhead”.

 

Sea-lamprey-head-detail

Designing the plush toy giveaways is going to be a challenge.

 

You may see short stories with the character Lampreyhead in my Bibliography page, but these books will not have the frantic Animaniacs energy. There would be no way to sustain that pace over three books at 100K words without burning the audience out.

It will be about vampires, and it will be funny, hopefully intelligent, insightful, and yes a tad gruesome. Think “Clive Barker and Christopher Moore, or maybe Neil Gaiman with a Christian fixation”.

If it makes me happy, I will expand the series. I will be self-publishing, because I lack the hide to deal with agency submissions.

As I proceed with the publication process, I’ll update as to what decisions I’ve made.

For the past two years, I’ve been listening to self-publishing podcasts:

“The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast” with Lindsay Buroker

“The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast” with Simon Whistler

I listened to well over fifty writers give their advice on self-publishing.

What I learned:

  • Have at least three books in your series ready to launch. Release the books one month at a time, then have your next material in the series ready for Month Four.
  • Use simple, all-inclusive publishing solutions. Use someone who will format, publish, and distribute. Adjust and optimize to your market as you learn particulars.
  • In self-publishing, e-books lead print in sales.
  • Have a mailing list ready at the time of publishing. Use a third-party service to gather new fans.
  • The cover art should cost as much as the publishing. Use experienced cover artists who have worked in your genre. If you publish print versions, your book title should be readable from ten feet away.
  • Draft and redraft your blurb. Have others review it. Favor a sympathetic character over action or idea. Use other writers’ as guideposts: “if you like Clive Barker, yet get a laugh out of Christopher Moore…”.
  • For promotion, use story excerpts over reader reviews.
  • The number of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads help, but are not essential to good sales.
  • Provide new material for sale at least once per month per series. Even a short story or excerpts of WIPs will do.
  • Use pseudonyms only to separate family-friendly material from racier series. Otherwise, pen names multiply promotions needing upkeep with no multiplier in reward.
  • The effectiveness of an advertising tool can change weekly. An ad tool’s effectiveness varies widely between genres. The only reliable promotional tool at this moment is the mailing list.
  • On your website, your mailing list prompt should not block the text or stop navigation. I know when a site pops up asking for an email, I get angry and click away from the site. Apparently, I’m not the only one with that reaction. Keep your mailing list prompt to the sidebar.
  • In your books, place your Acknowledgments and Dedication on the last pages; this makes more space for story text in the Amazon “Free Sample”.
  • On the last page, place active links to sales pages for previous publications and your mailing list, followed by “Please leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads” with links.
  • Do not bother with Book Bub until the third book of your series is released, and even then only if sales are noteworthy.
  • Do not bother advertising on Twitter.
  • Set sales price at $2.99 unless the book is 100K words or more.
  • Reduce the price of Book One to .99 when Book Two is released. Do not give away books for free.
  • Do not hesitate to change your book cover if you think it will increase sales.

 

I am most of the way through first draft of Book One. I’ll update you every week as to how things are progressing, and if you’re interested in beta reading, coo. Let me know and I’ll be glad to help you out in whatever way I can.

Let’s have some fun!

 

 

 

 





I’m Creating An E-Book Series and I’ll Bring You Along. With Funny Vampires.

29 10 2017

Better-Vampire

I am launching a three book series in Spring of next year.

The first book has the working title “Lampreyhead”.

You may see short stories with the character Lampreyhead in my Bibliography page, but these books will not have the frantic Animaniacs energy. There would be no way to sustain that pace over three books at 100K words without burning the audience out.

It will be about vampires, and it will be funny, hopefully intelligent, insightful, and yes a tad gruesome. Think “Clive Barker and Christopher Moore, or maybe Neil Gaiman with a Christian fixation”.

If it makes me happy, I will expand the series. I will be self-publishing, because I lack the hide to deal with agency submissions.

As I proceed with the publication process, I’ll update as to what decisions I’ve made.

For the past two years, I’ve been listening to self-publishing podcasts:

“The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast” with Lindsay Buroker

“The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast” with Simon Whistler

I listened to well over fifty writers give their advice on self-publishing.

What I learned:

Have at least three books in your series ready to launch. Release the books one month at a time, then have your next material in the series ready for Month Four.

Use simple, all-inclusive publishing solutions. Use someone who will format, publish, and distribute. Adjust and optimize to your market as you learn particulars.

In self-publishing, e-books lead print in sales.

Have a mailing list ready at the time of publishing. Use a third-party service to gather new fans.

The cover art should cost as much as the publishing. Use experienced cover artists who have worked in your genre. If you publish print versions, your book title should be readable from ten feet away.

Draft and redraft your blurb. Have others review it. Favor a sympathetic character over action or idea. Use other writers’ as guideposts: “if you like Clive Barker, yet get a laugh out of Christopher Moore…”.

For promotion, use story excerpts over reader reviews.

The number of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads help, but are not essential to good sales.

Provide new material for sale at least once per month per series. Even a short story or excerpts of WIPs will do.

Use pseudonyms only to separate family-friendly material from racier series. Otherwise, pen names multiply promotions needing upkeep with no multiplier in reward.

The effectiveness of an advertising tool can change weekly. An ad tool’s effectiveness varies widely between genres. The only reliable promotional tool at this moment is the mailing list.

On your website, your mailing list prompt should not block the text or stop navigation. I know when a site pops up asking for an email, I get angry and click away from the site. Apparently, I’m not the only one with that reaction. Keep your mailing list prompt to the sidebar.

In your books, place your Acknowledgments and Dedication on the last pages; this makes more space for story text in the Amazon “Free Sample”.

On the last page, place active links to sales pages for previous publications and your mailing list, followed by “Please leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads” with links.

Do not bother with Book Bub until the third book of your series is released, and even then only if sales are noteworthy.

Do not bother advertising on Twitter.

Set sales price at $2.99 unless the book is 100K words or more.

Reduce the price of Book One to .99 when Book Two is released. Do not give away books for free.

Do not hesitate to change your book cover if you think it will increase sales.

 

 

 

 

 

 








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