Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Self-Publishing, One Month In

It's been a little over a month since The Vengeful Half came out, and I decided I wanted to be a bit transparent about the process, because the more I learn about indie publishing, the more I realize there is a huge divide in perception and knowledge between traditional and indie YA writers. Many traditionally published writers know almost nothing of the indie market. This includes me, and so self-publishing was a very scary prospect to me! But, I'm learning more all the time and I'd like to pass it on.

 Starting Line

There is a lot of info on starting out as an indie publisher from scratch. And there is also a lot of info on traditional publishing. There is NOT much info about hybrid publishing in the YA market. Even less so because the indie published works many YA hybrid authors publish are things like tie-in novellas, short stories, or sequels their publisher turned down. The data on launching a brand new series is almost nil. Would my prior published books give me any kind of advantage? I had no idea. I suspected the answer was "very little" because my most successful book released 6 years ago, and most of the bloggers and such who loved it are not blogging anymore. (Some of them are now writers or publishing professionals themselves!) I have also taken a lot of social media breaks and basically been terrible about retaining fans. Part of the reason for this was because all through my traditional publishing career, the Hidden Lands books have burned inside of me and I really wanted to talk about THEM, not the books I was selling. This is an awkward way to maintain an "author face". So I am hoping I will be able to have a more consistent presence now, but either way, I don't have a lot to draw from.

Launching the Series

I put the Vengeful Half up for preorder about a month before its release on March 10th. I blitzed all my social media with the announcement of the Hidden Lands series. Between Twitter, Facebook personal and fan page, Blogspot, and Goodreads I have about 4,500 followers. It sounds like a lot, but that number is misleading, because a lot of them come from my YA author "boom era" when Magic Under Glass and Between the Sea and Sky came out, 2009-2010, and are not fresh followers who have had a recent interest in me. And also, of course, there is a lot of overlap. Once I had announced the series, I emailed a slew of bloggers offering review copies to try and get some reviews. I put up a LibraryThing giveaway for e-ARCs, a Goodreads giveaway for a paperback, and I purchased a 1-month NetGalley Co-Op for March. Much of indie book success seems to hinge on paid advertising, but I did no other marketing because I decided to save any paid marketing for book 2. Since I don't have a lot of money, I want paid advertisements to be able to benefit from sell-through into a second book. Some of the paid advertising sites require a certain number of reviews so I decided to focus on getting reviews instead.

I launched the book at $4.99 and decided to go wide, putting the book in Apple, Kobo and B&N, rather than keeping it exclusive to Amazon. Most of my sales occurred on the day I announced the series and on release day. Then I went almost a week with no sales at all, so I dropped the price to $2.99 to see if that would help, although I did it quietly because I wanted to measure organic sales, not sales from friends. At first, no change but then I went a week with 1 sale a day. At the 1-month mark, I have sold almost 50 books, of which 14 were paperbacks, most were at $4.99 and about 7 were at $2.99. Several of my sales were to Europe including two of the paperbacks.

Was it what I expected? Yes, it was about what I expected. My book is not written to market, or marketed to market, nor was it advertised or put on sale, so I didn't expect many organic sales, but I did definitely get a few, maybe to my pre-existing fans though. A lot of people, including me, don't buy series until they are farther along, so I expect a decent chunk of people are just waiting for me to write more.

What I Might Do Differently Next Time

The hard part about indie publishing is all the choices, entirely in one's own hands. All of my regrets are huge "MIGHTS" because if these other paths wouldn't have ended up being successful, I would have regretted them even MORE because they weren't my first instinct. But, I might change the way I do things next time due to results. --I may consider more "typical" covers. When I commissioned my covers I wanted something that captured the anime/magical Mafia feel of the books, looked cool, and made for a nice thumbnail. But I have since learned that the most successful indie books tend to look like every other successful indie book. Unique is not considered a virtue. So I am always second-guessing my covers. On the other hand, you know, I REALLY wanted to like my cover and they were cheap, and it's not like every book with a typical cover sells either, so...who knows.

--I think I maybe should have launched at 99 cents and booked a few cheap promos. I probably wouldn't have made much on them, because of the lack of other books in the series, and I would've lost some money from my loyal readers buying the book at 99 cents instead of $4.99, but I could've gotten the book a little more traction for a stronger book 2 launch. On the other hand (there's always that), why rush? I have 4 more books in this series, 4 more chances to promo and benefit from sell-through immediately, so patience is perhaps a virtue.

--Should I have done a pre-order? I didn't get any rankings boost on Amazon when the book came out because most people had already bought it, and that wasn't great, but...it was probably good to learn the process with a pre-order. In the long run it doesn't matter much. But I may not do a preorder for The Stolen Heart. --Should I have included so many mini-comics and art pieces in the book? It takes a huge chunk out of my Amazon sale price. I think I should have kept the delivery cost under 50 cents... In future books, I'll be scaling back on the art a bit because I just can't pay that much delivery cost per book.

--I think if I could turn back time I might have given the book a 90 day stint in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's exclusive program. Although I hate the idea of keeping all my books exclusive to Amazon forever, so far I have sold exactly ONE book outside of Amazon. I'm pretty sure I would have made at least more than $2 through Kindle Unlimited page reads. I think promo and time are both necessary to make money on the other platforms and since I didn't plan a lot of promo, and time is not on my side right now (kiiiiiinda broke right now) I should have just done KU at first, then pulled it out for book 2 when I did more promo.

Going Forward

The Stolen Heart releases June 10th. I don't expect to see a lot of sales for The Vengeful Half until that book releases. Right now I am focusing on finishing book 3, and then I will start gearing up some more aggressive promo for book 2. This book probably won't be a shining star right out of the gate. Magical Mafia isn't really a hot concept at the moment, and it's also funny and has quirky world-building, which confuses some, and also has a lot of epic fantasy elements that don't become apparently immediately. But the readers who love it really really love it, so I hopefully I can find my people and not completely lose my shirt doing it...

I also think I might benefit from a "funnel book", a more commercial book that I can market in a more straight-forward way, but still tie in to the Hidden Lands world. I have a few ideas for other side series that might serve this purpose.

Despite not making a profit yet, I am ENJOYING myself 100x than I ever did writing my other books. I have never been SO excited to sit down and write every single day. It's amazing to be able to plot a five-book series and already consider the NEXT story arc, to foreshadow things that won't happen for a long, long time, and to include the comics and all the quirkiness that makes me keep returning to this world again and again. It's rare for an indie book career to take off with just one book, so I am not worrying about numbers much at this point.
 

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my post on Why I Decided to Self Publish, and if you want to be kept abreast of my publishing news, be sure to join my mailing list!: Jaclyn Dolamore's Writerly News

Monday, March 14, 2016

Musical Update, Vengeful Half giveaway, video and more!

I have a little more info on the Magic Under Glass musical, Clockwork Heart. The venue will be Reservoir High School in Fulton, MD. (Note: The show is not being put on by a high school. The CCTA just uses high school theaters over the summer.) The show dates are July 28th-31st. I still don't know times or have ticket info, but...will keep you posted!

The Vengeful Half is now out, and available at Amazon as an ebook and paperback, and as an ebook at KoboBarnes & Noble, and iBooks. A couple of people have asked me where they should buy it. You should buy it anywhere you like buying books, it's all good, but if you have choices, Kobo is the best place to buy the ebook. Due to Amazon's file delivery charges, my royalty gets pretty hammered there. Though this is not a problem with the paperback.


I did a video this week to celebrate the release, showing just a few of the 20 years of sketchbooks and notebooks I've filled writing about the Hidden Lands!




I also did a guest post at the Tea and Titles blog: 4 Tips for Writing Compelling Characters. Specifically, I considered writing Alfred, because he is my favorite character. Oh, if only every character was as easy to write as Alfred! Sample: "Some of the most common advice given in writing books is that a character must want something very badly, and that desire will drive the entire plot. Even better, I think, than writing one thing, is wanting two things that can’t be had at once."


Trish at Wide Angled Life has been so supportive of The Vengeful Half and is giving away an ebook copy at her blog.


See a few of you at the New York Teen Author Festival this weekend! =D

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Clockwork Heart...the Magic Under Glass and Magic Under Stone MUSICAL!!

I finally get to tell you the news I’ve been sitting on for a year!!!

I’ve sold the theatrical rights to Magic Under Glass and Magic Under Stone…to create a rock musical based on both books, called Clockwork Heart!!! I wrote the libretto, and the music is by the crazy-talented Michael Francis Kline.

And HEADS UP, Baltimore/DC! The world premiere (that’s fun to say) will be directed by Toby Orenstein and performed this summer by the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts in Columbia, MD. They’re a non-profit organization that I’ve heard amazing things about and I am so excited for them to put this on! The performances will be the last weekend in July (exact details to come).

By pure coincidence, that’s the same weekend Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens in London, and if you won’t be there, well, it would be nice to have an evening of YA fantasy theatre anyway, wouldn’t it?

Readers, I am so excited to share this with you. For one thing, I wrote the libretto, so it’s very faithful to the books. But what I am even more excited for is the music. From the day Mike first played some rough drafts of these songs for me on his guitar…well, if it was possible for my jaw to literally drop out of my skull, we would’ve needed an ambulance that day. He took my playlists for the books and drew from them for inspiration, weaving together 1970s rock, indie, and traditional/world music influences, and brought such an innate understanding of these characters and the mood of my books. I can honestly say that I don’t think David Bowie or Freddie Mercury or Colin Meloy or Arcade Fire or anyone I might have chosen to write a Magic Under Glass musical in my dreams could’ve done a better job of capturing this story…and writing some DAMN catchy music to boot.

I can’t believe I’ll be seeing Erris and Nimira’s love story play out on the stage!! I hope to see some of you there!

They will also be doing a cast album, so if you can’t be there in July, you can still enjoy the music. I also hope to have some songs to share before then so you don’t have to take my word for it.

(And since someone always seems to ask if they can be IN these things, it is part of CCTA’s paid summer camp for ages 14-21: http://cctarts.org/programs/summer/)

Also, FYI to reviewers, my new book The Vengeful Half is up on NetGalley. It comes out in two days--eep!--and I'd be honored if you choose to spend some time in my beloved world.

And on the 19th and 20th I'll be at the New York Teen Author Festival! Come say hi!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

On Self-Publishing an Illustrated YA Novel

I wanted to just write this up as an offering to the Google gods, because when I was looking into publishing The Vengeful Half I had a hard time finding initial resources about indie publishing and illustrated novels. I found stuff about comics and picture books but nothing about just weaving little pictures into the books.

So I'm going to write up the little FAQ I could've used. I am by no means an expert, but at least it might help someone.

Q: Can you add pictures to an e-book and if so, how is it done?

Yes! I used the software Vellum (which is only for Mac) which very easily allows you to plug pictures anywhere in the text. Vellum forces you to choose between four sizes, but I didn't find this to be a problem. There is no way to 100% control the size of your pictures anyway, because different e-readers will display them differently. Vellum has a preview feature you can look at as you go, that shows what the picture will look like on different common e-readers. I found this very helpful! However, I have gotten one feedback already that a large picture got cut off even though this didn't show on any of the e-readers in Vellum's previewer. I adjusted the size to be a tad smaller but I have yet to find out if any other readers will have this problem.

Q: What about the print copy for Createspace or other print-on-demand publishers? How do I create that?

I got my partner to do this for me. He used iStudio, a $30 program for Mac. You can also use older versions of Pages but not the latest version. I can't comment on software for PCs. I also can't tell you anything further about how the heck he did it...

Q: Are there any issues I should be aware with uploading picture-heavy files to Amazon, etc.?

Yes, unfortunately, Amazon will charge you a delivery fee for your files to Kindle IF you choose the 70% royalty option. Therefore, an image-heavy file will take money out of your royalties. I added either a single illustration or a multi-panel comic to about 40 chapters or so, and my delivery fee is $0.82. That is a pretty decent chunk and it is a bit of a financial disadvantage for me, as I can't price my book too low without being forced to switch to the alternate 35% royalty.

It should be noted, Vellum's site will tell you that Kindle compresses the files themselves so you can leave them large. However, we brought down the delivery cost SUBSTANTIALLY by shrinking the files ourselves, to below Vellum's recommended minimum. This didn't seem to harm the viewing quality at all.

None of the other major e-book retailers charge a delivery fee or have strict minimum file sizes so you can expect the full royalty at Nook, Kobo, etc.

Q: What kind of pictures did you use?

Mine are all black and white line art scanned as grayscale. I don't have experience with color. I wanted the pictures to be easily visible on B&W e-readers.

Q: How is the picture quality on your basic e-reader?

A: The pictures, admittedly, don't look *AS* good on my 1st gen. Nook as they do on paper or read on, say, an iPad screen, but they'll do. There are probably techniques for creating art to look its best on e-readers but it's probably not realistic to adapt your entire art style for e-readers! And then you'd still have tablet, phone, and print copy readers to consider. One important thing I discovered is that I could not hand-letter the comics I did. I had to replace all the wording with computer fonts.

Q: Is there anything to bear in mind while creating the pictures?

E-readers don't have superb picture quality and they are tall, not long. So don't create big, detailed, wide pictures unless you want readers to have to turn their e-readers around.

Q: Is there a market for teen/young adult or even general fantasy novels with added comics and/or pictures?

I guess I'll find out! But I know what I like and I wanted to create the book I'd love to read, a novel with the feel of a manga thanks to added extras. Comics and visual storytelling is a very different medium from prose. For me, it's possible to express my sense of humor in a very different way by adding comic strips to the text. Whenever I show my sketchbooks to fans of my novels, they love the comics, so I thought...why not just put them in the book??

Q: To my readers: Do you know of any novels for adults or teens that incorporate art? Especially in ways that go beyond simple illustrations, such as comics?

So far I know of:
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Thieves and Kings by Mark Oakley (a series of graphic novels with prose sections)

I would love to know of more! Surely there are more!?

And if you came to this post looking for information on illustrated novels, I hope you'll consider checking out my series, beginning with The Vengeful Half!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Review of "Take Off Your Pants!" by Libbie Hawker, and Thoughts on Outlining a Series

"Take Off Your Pants!" was recommended on some forum threads about writing faster. The paperback is just 8.99 (cheaper still as an ebook but I need this kind of thing in paper for SURE) so I gave it a whirl. I'm somewhere between a plotter and a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) and always trying to perfect the art of the outline so I'll stop waffling around.

So far this book has been pretty effective for me. She gives a lot of props to John Truby's "The Anatomy of Story", which I have not read, so I can't say how they compare...but The Anatomy of Story is over 400 pages and this is about 100. I really liked how lean, mean and focused this book is, because I already know a lot of the fundamentals of telling a story and in many cases a quick and dirty plot breakdown is EXACTLY what I need. This book does that beautifully. I found her outlining techniques much easier to work with than I've seen in some other books.

If you're a beginning writer, however...although this book certainly IS accessible to beginners, I might start by reading a few books with more depth because it will help you when it comes time to actually write the outline.

The reason I've been particularly keen on creating an outline is because I am currently plotting book #3 of The Hidden Lands series. This is certainly the most ambitious writing project I've taken on thus far. Five books, four main characters and many side characters, multiple antagonists... How I love this story, but sometimes I look at the work ahead and think... "............................"

On the other hand, I've gotten better at what I do! That's such a good feeling! Enough so that I can actually tell you some of the things that help make plotting a multiple-POV, multiple-book series work. It's pretty hard to find advice on this, so I hope it helps! Mind you...I don't know if these rules will apply to all such series. I really won't know that until I try to apply them to my next series!

Tips Ahoy:

--When developing multi-POV, multi-book character growth arcs, keep sight of your theme.

It has helped me a lot for all the characters have a push and pull between two contrary desires. In this case, three of the characters--Alfred, Olivia, and Lester--are torn between a desire for power and a desire to have a peaceful life. They all have slightly different motives for wanting power, however, so their arcs are not quite the same..but that remains a theme for all three of them, and in each book, they make different moves toward one or the other. At the end of book 1, Alfred moves toward the peaceful life. At the end of book 2, he moves back toward power. In book 3, he tries to balance both. In books 4 and 5, he has renewed his commitment toward power, but his MOTIVES for wanting power change as his character matures, so the pursuit doesn't feel repetitive.

Some variation of this is repeated for Olivia and Lester, but sometimes they are shifting in different directions from each other, and this creates conflict.

Thessia is a bit of an outlier. She is more trapped than the others, and for her, power = freedom. She doesn't feel the same pull toward a peaceful life. Her motives for gaining power are more pure than the other characters from the start, and her inner conflict is simply that she is afraid to stand up for herself. But she still ties into the theme of "What is the benefit of power? Why would we want it? Are we growing up to be good guys or bad guys?"

Throughout the series, these questions are also echoed in the side characters, such as Det, who made an infamous choice years ago to commit a serious crime for the greater good, giving each character a chance to ask themselves whether they agree with Det's choice and whether they would be willing to repeat it.

--Give the characters in a multiple POV book series every possible chance to meet one another, grow together, and impact each other's lives. 

In the beginning of book 2, Alfred, Thessia and Lester are at school together, while Olivia is not. In the first draft, Thessia's best friend at school had a lot of influence on Thessia. Meanwhile, I had the problem of Olivia seeming detached from the other characters. In the second draft, I decided to downplay Thessia's best friend and instead found ways for Thessia and Olivia to meet, and Olivia to bring about the character revelations that had previously come from Thessia's best friend. In book 3, once again, I have a character separated from the rest, so in the outline, I tried to find regular spots where the characters would communicate or their actions would have a bearing on one another. Otherwise it'll end up feeling like you have two different books and you risk losing the reader when you switch POV.

--Don't lose sight of the antagonist.

If you're writing a multiple book story and you want to keep the reader invested, make sure you identify the ultimate antagonist from the very first book, and keep them in mind. This has been especially important for me because ideally I want this series to lead into future series, so I've planted the seeds of future plots throughout. However, the first series MUST stand alone and feel complete and satisfying. In this case, I've used the Marvel movies as an inspiration. There are ongoing hints about Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet throughout the Marvel movies, but if you watch one, you don't feel cheated because you don't get the story of the Gauntlet right now. The movies establish clear boundaries between the plot at hand and the suggestions of future conflicts.

Even if you are not planning THAT far ahead, one should still take some time to consider the ultimate antagonist of the story from page 1, book 1. It is highly effective when every minor antagonist somehow feeds into or sets the stage for the ultimate antagonist. Voldemort is an obvious example...from book 1, every individual Harry Potter book's antagonist plays into the overall Voldemort vs. Harry conflict. The character arc of the antagonist should follow a similar pattern to the protagonists, as outlined above. If your characters are, in fact, going to meet the same antagonist in every book, then consider how that antagonist will have evolved into a new and escalated challenge with each encounter.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why I Decided to Self-Publish

Last year, I was at a crossroads. I knew The Vengeful Half needed to be my next book, one way or another. I've been revising this book for years (that's a story for another day) and I had gotten it to a place where I really loved it, and more than anything, I just wanted to stop keeping it a secret project.

But the tough question was whether to pursue traditional publication or self-publish, and that was HARD. I have been hearing for a while that hybrid authors make the most money in general...but on the writer forums I follow, there is definitely still a whiff of "last resort" to self-publishing. It's a choice you might make with sad resignation after shopping a book around for a while. And if you've had books traditionally published, there are experiences you tend to expect and enjoy from the publication process, like seeing a deal announcement in Publisher's Weekly, working with a great editor who fell in love with your book, and seeing your books at BEA or ALA, that you may feel sad to give up.

Then I started poking around some self-publishing forums and got a very different picture. The first thing I noticed was that self-published writers seemed less depressed. I'm sure there are sad, unsuccessful self-published writers who end up not really participating in forums and just give up, and there is surely commiseration in more private spaces. But...I definitely noticed a change of vibe, especially with the more successful writers. Traditionally published writers are...kind of depressed a lot, even when they're hitting bestseller lists. I also noted that some people were making a lot of money, and they weren't always writing romance or erotica, as I had previously assumed.

However, the self-published authors who are doing well seem to have many of these elements in common:
--Good covers and descriptions (obviously)
--Solid writing
--A long series of books, at least three but oftentimes more
--Writing in a popular genre
--A romantic element in the story (unless the genre is very masculine)
--The ability to put out more than one book a year (sometimes WAY more)

So I can see why it's not for everyone. But if you do have these elements in place, it seems to me that success might be just as likely with self-publishing as it is with traditional publishing, given a particular boost by the fact of higher royalties and control over publication schedule. I can certainly write two books a year and maybe even more, but I haven't published two books a year, because it's been hard enough getting publishers to put out one book a year from me, and I have also sometimes been contracted for projects I was less enthused about, and therefore wrote more slowly and reluctantly, while passion projects were set aside.

If I published twice as many books, for twice the royalties, then I would only have to sell 1/4 the copies...in a theoretical world.

In the real world, many ebooks are sold at a huge discount in 99 cent sales and the like, and my advances have been much higher than the amount of copies sold, BUT, I can't expect that to continue. 

Still, I wrestled with the decision. I had a hard time letting go of traditional publishing. It didn't feel to me like a "real book" without it. And yet, what is really more important to me? Putting out the book I want, in the way I want? Or just seeing it on the shelf of Barnes & Noble? (...I don't even live near a large bookstore anymore.) Why should I think this, when some of the stories that influenced me the most were indie comic books/graphic novels? I made some lists to help clarify:

Reasons to Publish Traditionally:
--Advance money
--No upfront expenses on my part
--Working with professional editor/copyeditor
--Potential to be on bookstore shelves
--Potential for reviews in trade publications, starred reviews, state lists
--Greater library sales
--More likely to be invited to events or eligible to apply for book festivals
--Publisher handles formatting, cover, distribution, some marketing
--If book "hits", publisher marketing machine can be amazing
--Sales rely less heavily on Amazon & potentially support indie bookstores

Reasons to Self-Publish:
--Income is more evenly distributed, not a lump sum
--No potential for getting a horrible cover and having to pretend to like it
--Can get books out faster
--Can publish a longer series
--More direct line to readers; i.e., can tell fans "the sequel comes out in fall" and know this is absolutely in your hands, no need to get permission to publish extra novellas, etc.
--Marketing has more of a "long game" aspect
--Can add artwork and "omake" (that's Japanese for extras...and if you've ever read manga you know what I mean)
--No fear of sudden, absurd deadline
--No fear of editor leaving, book getting pushed back, or other common roadblocks

There are some very valid points on both lists. On both lists, a lot are also more theoretical. Traditional publishing has the potential for a lot of cool things: the starred reviews, invitations to BEA, etc. But...it has been very rare that any of that stuff happens to me, and that's true for a large portion of authors. Even bookstore presence is by no means guaranteed these days.

A lot of the pros for self-publishing are simply avoidance of the more unpleasant potentials in traditional publishing. They're only potentials, but they do happen. I've never had a bad editor, but I have had an editor leave...luckily she was great, too, but I've known others that didn't have as much luck. I have had books pushed back. I've had crazy deadlines. It is pretty likely that if you have a few books, you'll end up having some kind of crisis moment. Most of these events are not a huge deal in the scheme of things...but with this book, which is so much a part of me, the dread of some unexpected unpleasantness increases exponentially.

These lists made one thing clear to me: the best thing about self-publishing is the control over the story and its presentation. In the case of this book, it was especially important because I wanted to do something very different with it. 

The other factor I considered...what does moderate success look like, in both cases? Let's say I was making $20,000 a year as an author. As an indie publisher, this means two books a year making $10k each over time, or about 4,000 full price copies. I'm a pretty happy girl. I'm not rich by any means, but the mortgage is paid, there's food in the fridge, and I'm doing what I love. As a traditionally published author, this means selling a book a year for an advance of $23,000, to allow for agent fees. This doesn't sound impossible either. Plenty of people manage this. But it does feel more unpredictable. Taxes certainly don't help. You're not on a salary, so if you average $23k a year, it might be more likely to come as, say, a large advance one year and nothing the next, shoving you into a higher tax bracket in that one year, sucking up a larger chunk of your money, and then leaving you with nothing the next year. This happened to me when I made $70k in one lucky year...had to pay $23k in taxes...and then made a mere $6k the next year. If I'd lived in a state with state tax at the time, as I do now, it would've been even worse! I would have kept more money if the amount had been averaged. 

At this point, it's all conjecture for me. I have no idea how well my books will do, if I'll sell 4,000 copies, or 400, or 40,000. But I can certainly see how some hybrid authors could enjoy great success...and 100% indie published authors as well.

As for which route is best, I think it is highly dependent on the type of book, your individual skills...such as writing speed or ability to conceive of a cover and/or hire a talented cover designer, and your personal dreams. I have no regrets about my five traditional published books, that's for sure. But I hope I can say the same about this series as well.

Monday, February 8, 2016

More books from me! MY FAVORITEST BOOKS!

I must confess, when I was a teenager, I thought the ideal thing for a fantasy writer to do was create one fantasy world and develop it really, really thoroughly until it seems like a real place, and then write stories set in that world for years and years. So I spent the entirety of my teen years writing entirely about a single fantasy world. And on into my twenties...basically, until I started getting serious about publication, and reality slapped me in the face.

As it turns out, go figure, it is hard to sell a "world". Most publishers want, like, a book? Maybe a trilogy?

At some point I realized, if I was ever going to do this, and do it right, I needed to do it myself, and thanks to the rise of indie publishing, I finally can.

Not only that, I illustrated the interior, because I have always been torn as to whether I wanted to be a writer or a comic book artist.

I am so terrified. This story is the story I have been waiting to tell forever. A story about magical organized crime, and doll people, and a world with elements of both high fantasy and pop culture, and my favorite romance ever. And I just put the beginning up for preorder. THE VENGEFUL HALF will be released March 10th.

TFAQ (Theoretical Frequently Asked Questions):

Why self-publish?

The deciding moment came when my partner Dade started asking me what the ideal version of this book would look like. And I thought, well...I would hire someone to do a gorgeous illustrated cover. And then I would add in little extras throughout like mini-comics and drawings of fake products mentioned within the novel. (I told one of my friends that this story is like The Mortal Instruments meets Parks and Rec, and I've also described it as 'The Godfather as a girls' anime'.) And it would be as nerdy as I wanted it to be without an editor telling me to take out the joke that references Totoro...

Where will it be available?

I put up the Amazon preorder first to light a fire under myself! No turning back now! But yes, I am working on getting the paperback version up as well as the other e-book retailers.

Who did the cover?

I did NOT do the cover; I am no cover artist. This beautiful thing is the work of Anastasya Ilicheva aka Pell aka Entrepreneurial: Deviant Art

You said it's a long series. Yikes, how long?

Don't worry! It won't be one ginormous epic that must be read in order. This series will be a complete story in five books and then, if all is going well, I would start a new plot arc that would not require prior knowledge of the world and characters.

When will book two be out?

This summer, for sure! Book two is already done! But it does need a good edit so for now it's chilling while I work on book three.

Can I get a review copy?

Quite possibly! Email me at fabulousfrock@mac.com with a link to your blog/Goodreads or Amazon review page, or basically, somewhere your reviews are posted so I can confirm that you are a real person. Note: Review copies will not contain all the artwork, but the story is not in any way dependent on the artwork.

How can I stay updated and make sure I know about new releases, sales and extra content?

You are all asking that, in exactly that clunky wording, I'm sure, and that's why you want to join my MAILING LIST!

Are you ready for this? Have you made a horrible mistake? Can you get some sleep yet?

Oops...those are just my actual frequently asked questions in my own mind. *hides under bed*

*peers out* More posts soon, about the series and the process of self-publishing!