Tuesday, November 4, 2014

self-publishing advice

My dad has a friend who's planning on self-publishing her first book soon. My dad forwarded the friend's email to me, asking for any advice, and I spent a few minutes thinking about it and wrote the following:

Self-Publishing Advice from M.F. Soriano

1. The place where I've learned the most about self-publishing--what works and what doesn't--is the Writer's Cafe section of the kboards.com forum. I recommend joining the site and reading extensively.

2. Sales mean most, and promotional efforts are most effective, during the book's first week live (ready for purchase). This is when Amazon is establishing it's ranking of the book, and it's easier to start with a good rating than to sell poorly at the start and then try to crawl back from the bottom of the Amazon ranking list. With that said, I recommend setting up certain promotions in advance. Two sites that promote books and will reserve a spot in advance (before the book is online and can be linked to) are kindlenationdaily.com and bargainbooksy.com

3. In general, be conservative with money and effort. There are limitless amounts of things you can do, and money you can spend, and the vast majority of it will have NO positive effect. Most self-published books sell less than 100 copies. If a book does better than that, and goes on to continue selling on its own, it pretty much comes down to positive word-of-mouth. So put some promotion in at the start to try to establish some visibility and give the book a chance to start selling by word of mouth, but don't keep dumping money and time and energy into it after that. You're better off putting that time and energy into writing another book.

I'd say a budget of less than $1000 for a book--70% for cover design/formatting for print and ebook versions, and 30% for that initial launch promotion--is all you really need. My most successful book was launched for $200 ($30 for cover and $170 for promotion). Spend more than that and you're probably not going to get a return on it, and lots of the more expensive services--like hiring someone to do web-design/public-relations/promotion--are VERY unlikely to ever produce sales in a way that will justify their costs. The book must have the ability to sell itself--throwing money at it will not change that.

A pretty good book for learning the basics of self-publishing in the digital book world is: Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Zombie City now in paperback

The paperback version of the Zombie City Omnibus is now available on Createspace. It's trade paperback size (6"X9") and 420 pages, and it costs $14.99. It should show up on Amazon in another few days, and they'll probably offer a discount when it's available. But if you want to order now, click here for the Createspace page.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Zombie City: Episode 5 is now available!

The final episode in the Zombie City serial is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. It should show up everywhere else (Barnes&Noble, iTunes, Kobo, etc.) within a few days.

Click here for Amazon.
Click here for Smashwords.

Thanks to all who have followed the story thus far!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hardcore wRapper

The Goodreads Giveaway for Blood Brothers ended on July 14th, and Goodreads gave me the names of the six winners last night. I wrapped up the books today, and mailed them out. They might take a week or two to arrive--I sent them media-mail class, which is slower than regular first class, and I'm in Hawaii, so they've got to cross the ocean--but they're on their way. Thanks to everybody for participating!

Friday, July 11, 2014

ZC5 First Draft Finished!!! & Blood Brothers giveaway on Goodreads ends soon!

Yesterday I finished the first draft of Zombie City: Episode 5. Total word count is around 38K (like 120 pages). I wrote a little over 20K in the past two weeks, which is pretty fast for me. I'm going to start the revision process today, and hope to have it ready to publish in another week or so.

Also, my Goodreads Giveaway for six paperback copies of Blood Brothers is coming to an end on July 14th. If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

write wild! (ZC5 update)

Friday, June 27th, was my last day of work with the temporary job I started back in January. Since Monday, June 30th, I've been writing as if it were a full time job. So far I've written around 15K words for Zombie City Episode 5, which puts the total word count at just over 30K (around 100 pages). I think the story will take another 10K words to complete, and I'm hoping to finish the rough draft this week.

I've been writing wilder than I normally do, just jamming words into the keyboard and plunging ahead. The story has gone in some pretty wild directions, and I'm sure I'll need to do more revision than normal, but I'm having fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parkwriting, the AlphaSmart3000, and ZC5 progress

A while back I came across a post on kboards about the AlphaSmart Neo word processor. It sounded pretty awesome to me--a super-simple, super-portable word processor that gets 400+ hours of power from three AA batteries. No cords, no load-time waiting--you press the power button and you can start typing less than two seconds later. I got so excited that I went on ebay looking for one. I ended up buying the predecessor to the Neo, which is called an AlphaSmart3000. Cost me twenty bucks, shipping to Hawaii included.

Another bonus I've discovered about the AlphaSmart: the thing has such a tiny screen that it makes it hard to go back and edit what you've written, so you're sort of forced into just producing new writing instead of my usual "edit-ceaselessly-throughout-the-process" approach that always ends up taking forever. I'm hoping that getting the rough draft all the way out, and then doing a more-involved editing/revision, will be a more efficient and faster way to go about producing a story.

So I've been taking the AlphaSmart3000 to the park after work, and working on Zombie City Episode 5. I'm more than 13K words in so far, and I feel like the AlphaSmart's ease of use is helping me be more productive. I'm also showing a bit more discipline than I typically manage. If things keep going like they have been, I might have ZC5 ready in half the time it took me for the last episode.

Here's hoping!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

great interview with Hugh Howey

First of all, I feel compelled to mention that the video host is a bit too "business-oriented" for my personal tastes. (If you want to skip past his intro, Hugh starts talking at about 1:30.) Even so, Hugh Howey has a very inspiring self-publishing success story, and this video is definitely worth watching.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inspiring Words from Kate Danley

"I don't submit to traditional publishers anymore. I don't submit to studios. I don't do anything anymore except focus on creating the best stories I can possibly tell, and for whatever reason, this seems to resonate with people. And I think perhaps because I try not to be a jerk, folks usually don't mind inviting me to join them on awesomeness.

"So as the broohaha continues over traditionally publishing vs. indie publishing, I just thought I would share my experience. Your mileage may vary. Is indie publishing a risk? Sure. But you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Please know that you can be both indie and traditionally published. One does not exclude the other. Both are great. Just, please, stop waiting for someone else to fix your life. This is yours. It is the only one you have got. Take a chance."

(Emphasis mine.)

Read the rest of her blogpost here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ZC5 is now underway!

Shoots, it's been over a month since I hit the publish button on episode 4, and I'm only now getting started on episode 5. The main reason for the delay is I'd been waiting for inspiration to strike. And it did strike, here and there, but not often enough or with a big enough boom to give me the whole story plotted out before I got started. Well, now I'm tired of waiting for the muse, so I'm taking what I've got and I'm jumping back into the story, hoping I figure out where I'm going as I go.

I mean, it's worked out well enough so far. Right?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Zombie City: Episode 4 is now available!

Holy Shit! After a three month long battle with the keyboard, Zombie City: Episode 4 is finally finished and available for your reading pleasure. So far it's gone live on Amazon and on Smashwords. It should show up everywhere else (ie. Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc.) in a week or so.

Click here for Amazon.
Click here for Smashwords.

I've got the price set at 99 cents right now, but if you're so cheap that you don't want to spend 99 cents for 30K+ words of hipster zombie mayhem, with bonus punk/hippie/biker mayhem, you can still get a copy for free by signing up for my newsletter list on the right side of this page. For the rest of the month, anyone who signs up for the newsletter gets a free PDF version of Episode 4 emailed to them.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Zombie City: Episode 4: first draft finished! & cover reveal

So, I've finally typed in the last word of the first draft of Zombie City: Episode 4. It's been a bit of a struggle to find the time and energy to work on it since starting the job I started back in January, but I'm riding high now that I've got a complete object to refine. It clocked in at just over 31K words, though I don't know what it'll be once I've finished editing it. My plan is to give it a quick preliminary polish--I know there are a couple of plot points that need to be put in line--and then send it through to my brother to get some feedback (he served as beta-reader for all of the previous episodes, and is a pretty insightful dude). I'm not sure when I'll have it ready for publication--I've gotten a bit fed up with myself for making predictions that turned to be pretty far off base--but hey, one step closer.

The offer I mentioned in previous blog posts is still on the table: sign up for my newsletter (by putting your email in the white box on the right) and I'll send you a coupon for a free copy of the story on Smashwords when I finally hit the publish button. If you're not signed up for Smashwords and don't want to sign up, let me know when you get that coupon email, and I'll find some way to send you a PDF. (The episode will go live on Amazon, but I won't be able to make it free there.)


Friday, March 14, 2014

ZC4: the newest news

I'm currently at 24K words with Zombie City: Episode 4, and I've still got a few things I want to put in place before bringing the episode to a close. Right now I'm guessing it'll reach 30K, which will make it the longest episode in the series so far. It's definitely the most eventful episode too, with several new characters and themes being introduced. And I'm developing a clearer vision of the plot arc that will lead to the story's conclusion, probably in Episode 5.

I still feel bad for the readers who've been kept waiting. I had an opportunity to wrap up Episode 4 around the 22K mark, and Episode 4 would probably already be available if I'd done that. But I've decided that the overall story will be better--the pacing and the plot more balanced--if I postpone publication until I've added the scenes I want to add to set things up for the concluding episode. It's a case of weighing expediency against quality, and I'm putting the premium on quality.

If anyone out there has any questions or complaints, feel free to add them in the comments section for this post. My consolation offer is still on the table: sign up for my mailing list, and I'll give you a coupon code to download episode 4 for free when it comes out.

In the meantime, thanks for your interest, and thanks for your patience.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Zombie City: Episode 4 UPDATE

Here's the bad news: it's the end of February, and ZC4 isn't finished.

But wait! There's good news too! Episode 4 is almost finished, like 80% of the way there. And it's got all kinds of crazy stuff in it: punks and hippies and bikers and squatters and inter-group conflicts and urinary catheters and nearly-naked women shooting people with shotguns and someone getting smashed/electrocuted/burned-to-death by a toppled light tower... and more!

Perhaps the best news of all is this: after having put ZC on the backburner last November because I didn't realize people were actually reading it, I've now managed to reconnect with the story and the main character. You see, for nearly two months I didn't write or re-read or even think about Zombie City--all of my creative energies were being put into other projects, primarily my murder-mystery Dry Shores--and I kind of fell out of touch with Shane and his world. In January, just a few days after discovering that Zombie City was developing an audience of its own, I began trying to write the next episode. But between starting a new job, and coming down with the flu, I didn't get much done. And what I did write took tremendous effort because I'd sort of fallen out of touch with the story.

Well, I'm back in the Zombie City groove now and I'm having a lot of fun brutalizing Shane and destroying San Francisco. My hope is that I'll be able to stay in the groove after finishing Episode 4 and move right into Episode 5, which I'm guessing will be the final act that wraps everything up.

The apology-offer I mentioned in my last blog post is still on the table: you can get a free copy of Episode 4 by signing up for my email list in the white box farther down on the right. Sorry, again, for taking so long to get ep4 out there, but I'm hoping you'll think it was worth the wait.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Where the hell is Zombie City: Episode 4?

Back in December I mentioned I hoped to have the fourth episode of Zombie City out by the end of this month. Well, the end of the month is here, but the fourth episode isn't. I'm still working on it, and have a long way to go before it's ready. Why so far behind schedule? Work and the flu, to put it plainly.

Anyway, I'm sorry I'm behind schedule, and I'm hoping that any readers waiting for Episode 4 won't hold it against me. At the risk of setting myself up for failure again, I'll offer a new tentative release date: I hope to have the fourth episode out by the end of February.

And to show my contrition is real, I'd like to make another offer: when the fourth episode is ready, you can have a copy of it for free. Sign up for my email list--see the white box farther down on the right side of this page--and when the episode goes live, I'll send out an email with a Smashwords coupon code for a free copy.

Sorry again about the delay.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ereader News Today promo results (hurrah!)

I'm still pretty new to the ebook self-publishing world, and I've been picking up information and advice as I go along. One common bit of advice is this: promote your book. Seems pretty obvious, right? But it's not necessarily as simple as it seems.

First of all, as I mentioned in my last post, I spend plenty of time struggling with self-doubt, and it's hard to work up the confidence to try to let people know about your book when you're already sure no one wants to read it. Fortunately, I've recently had a few indicators that there are people out there who want to read my writing, and I've been faring slightly better in the self-doubt struggle since then.

The second thing that complicates the self-promotion efforts is this: there are so many options, it's hard to know what's worth the time and effort. Despite my crippling self doubt, I have actually tried a few different things--from setting up this blog to paying websites for promotion. Many of those efforts have been mentioned in other posts on this blog, and none of them have proven very effective. In fact, it would be pretty accurate to say that none of them have been effective at all!

And so the lack of results from those efforts, coupled with my own lack of confidence, have sort of kept my foot on the brakes regarding self-promotion.

But a few weeks ago I signed up for the Kboards Writer's Cafe forum, and I've come across plenty of authors who have found promotion opportunities that actually produced results. I read their posts, I took notes, and I figured I'd give it another try. (Because I'd already tried doing nothing, and I'd seen the results that brought--none.)

The first promotional website I signed up with was Ereader News Today (also known as ENT). Yesterday they included Blood Brothers as one of their featured Bargain Books (I dropped the price to 99 cents for a temporary sale, in order to qualify), and the results have been excellent. Yesterday turned out to be the best selling day in Blood Brothers six month history. I sold more copies than I had on the day of the book's launch, when I guilt-tripped all my friends and family into buying copies. And selling a lot of copies in one day resulted in the book climbing the rankings at Amazon. Here's a screenshot I took of the book at it's peak.

I'm hoping that rankings boost results in a little more visibility for Blood Brothers, at least temporarily, and a few additional sales because of it. If nothing else, I consider it a success because it's shown me that promotions can work, if you're going through a good provider. And Ereader News Today is definitely a good provider, in my experience.

So now I'm looking at other promotion opportunities, and starting to lay out a strategy. Here's hoping I'll be able to keep stoking the flame, until Blood Brother's has a steady fire burning beneath it.