I’m Impressed by David

And those who know me know I’m not easily impressed. I’m talking about AskDavid.com (no relation to Jeeves). Has it gotten me more sales? Not really sure. Nothing notable to immediately go “AHA!” But their setup and value impresses me. When I initially came across them in one of the many book promotion lists online, I passed them over because it mentioned a membership and I hate joining things. The commitment… >.>

But I finally returned and decided to give it a shot because it’s only $15 for a 6-month membership, and other services I’ve swam through so far charge you far more than that for just a day’s/week’s worth of promotion and little return.

Check out this nifty page they executed for me: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/science-fantasy/14550

It has an old-school fan-page feel that my humble self admires. THIS looks like effort! Far more than the Fiverr gig I recently bought that offered to tweet my link for 3 days and literally tweeted only the link with the hashtag I gave them (I mean, most gigs like this include SOME sort of wording, and the guy proclaimed he was a goddamned ARTIST). The next day was a RETWEET of his original tweet. That’s #2, I guess. :/ Today, who knows. And that was a $10 gig.

But David…David shows my book cover in brilliant size, prodded me to give a description that differed from my book blurb to connect with readers, linked to my website, Twitter, and the Amazon page, threw my face up in there as well as my meager Amazon reviews, gave an option for people to talk and engage with me…David also gives you access to set up tweets from his Twitter account, AND gives you random little promotion pop-ups on his site. For $15 over 6 months, this is pretty good stuff, and not a price you’ll look back on like it wasn’t worth it. He’s making this fun and I can’t wait to do more interacting with it. I’ll even be able to farm for more indies to read and support here. It’s like a one-stop shop, where you find those rare RPG towns where they sell the items and weapons in the same place instead of making you run to different buildings.

It feels good to be impressed.

~Tael

The Three-Four-Seven-Nine-Forty Book Trilogy

Seems to be the trend nowadays. First novel of the Fallen Angel series. Book Three of the Steamy Hearts boxset. Sixty-eleventh part of the omg-you-need-to-keep-reading-this-unlimited-number-sequence. A hot tip to indie authors, especially those looking to set up recurring passive income, is to write as many books as possible and throw them on Amazon. The idea is that the more books you have, the more your promoting of your other books will eventually get your OTHER books found. I think.

A specific comment from one of my Chaos (un)Controlled reviewers was, “I personally liked a lot because it seems like every single young adult book has to be a series of at least 3 books when sometimes I just want one pleasant self-contained book.”

It certainly does feel that way sometimes, huh? I agree. Not knocking series at all; I’m considering doing a non-linear prequel to Chaos (un)Controlled for my next writing project. But Rixa’s story isn’t incomplete in Chaos (un)Controlled. University Heights could be revisited, sure. Other characters could get a spotlight. It’d be cool to take a Tales approach; where elements of the prior games are touched upon in the later games, giving the player refreshing “Aha!” moments, if they’ve played the others. But I don’t want to return to it just because series are the cool thing to do right now. There would need to be a real reason.

Currently, as an adult reader, the thought of starting a new series (from a reader’s perspective) is akin to climbing a mountain; my mind sees “Book one of…” and immediately responds, “Do I really want to get into this?” Finding the time to finish one novel takes awhile as it is. It’s like getting into a new television show. It’s like…now I gotta watch it and be invested. Thinking of the obligation is exhausting enough… -.- Let’s take a look at the series I’ve encountered and made it through:

Harry Potter. This one was an accident. The first three books were gifted to me and I ended up loving them and grateful that the journey continued after the first.

Fifty Shades of Grey. This one, I was conned. An old co-worker raved about how she loved this series so much, she re-read all of them in a week. Barnes & Noble happened to have a ridiculous sale, all 3 for $9.99 so I went for it. First one was amusing. Second one kept me interested. Third one was painful. I could only crawl through a few pages at a time for each reading session before major ADD kicked in. I finished only because I had committed to the first two.

Twilight. I was gifted the first book for this one too, and despite the purple-prosey writing style, it did keep me captivated enough to keep going through all 4.

Divergent. First one was awesome. Second one cool. Third one, bleh.

Seems like series have a habit of losing steam the further they go along. With the exception of Harry Potter.

Let’s look at a non-linear series. The Coldest Winter Ever was phenomenal. The long-after subsequent prequel Midnight offered a very different tale that I was sold on. I’m a sucker for Japanese culture blended into anything. The sequel to Midnight however, fell flat and unrealistic and lost my fandom. Whatever we forgave or gave a pass to in the first one, began to pile on as the outrageous elements became a Rollout. I recently learned there was another release in the non-linear series; A Deeper Love, which follows Winter’s sister apparently. It’s on my reading list because, of course, the commitment.

If potential readers can find the time to commit to Chaos (un)Controlled, just ONE standalone book, I’ll be happy. Whether many are jumping on the series bandwagon for the sake of sales, or love of an epic story-journey, I still say there’s a niche for the pleasant, self-contained book that the busy reader with time-commitment-issues can store on her shelf.

~Tael

When Promotion is Shameless

Every author needs to promote their work somehow. But unless we have some degree of fame or an established platform, we enlist the aid of someone with experience in that field because we’re mere writers. Indie authors generally aren’t shelling out big bucks for savvy promoters, or tossing spare Benjamins to BookBub. We try to tackle as many low-cost promotion sites that we can, the majority of which are for free or discounted books.

And then there’s Fiverr.

Now Lincolns, we can spare more easily. Of course, you look at a gig and question how this person can have a reach of “millions.” You know 200 Facebook groups you can promote to? You have access to the largest, legitimately purchased mailing list and you’ve never gotten a single spam complaint? Hmmm…I work in email marketing so I know that’s about as attainable as beating a Water Temple from the Zelda series on the first swing without using an FAQ.

Still, you try out a few whose descriptions seem less scammy, and they email you proofs of their work. You check the first few images and think, okay, posting on book-related pages…doing good. Then you start to see groups like “Music Promoting Only,” “Make Money Online,” “House Music All Night Long,” and “Cape Town Finest Hip-Hop.”

Okay…I see where you’re going with this. Mass blast everywhere and hope it hits some randos, right? Until I saw this one.blogevidence

Never mind the Baby Swap shop…did you just post my book in a group called Mothers Who Have Lost a Child?

This is where promotion becomes shameless. This is where “Let’s mass blast this to EVERYONE in hopes that numbers increase bites” fails. If I could offer an apology to everyone in that group who had to read that post, I would.

I still highly support Fiverr, of course; as an indie author and New Yorker, I’m always willing to try out the smaller businesses and indies in the same situation as I. I will just be a little more cautious in the future by analyzing the gig description with a finer-toothed comb than I already have, and pray the provider has some damn tact. It’s like CraigsList. You can absolutely find a lot gems if you know how to avoid the shadies.

~Tael (I’ve landed 4 jobs off CraigsList.)

The Fiverr Book Cover Chase

Like other indie authors self-publishing on a budget, Fiverr was an amazing discovery. The tools for your publishing process all exist here, from book promotion, design materials, e-book formatting, and the ever-popular, book cover. From my Internet research, the Fiverr book cover supporters/opponents are like Gryffindor vs. Slytherin; they either love it or vehemently look down on it. I dove in with gusto and, let me tell you, it’s quite easy to get addicted. It’s a whole new world of gigs at your fingertips for varying increments of five dollars, so it seems low-risk, provided you don’t go berserk in pursuit of perfection.

I started off with a couple basic gigs, giving them my initial CreateSpace cover I’d done myself (you know, what you’re not supposed to do with self-publishing) and asking them to revamp. The first version looked like they’d made absolutely no changes. The other simply changed the font style. Here is when I learned ratings don’t always mean too much here. A highly-rated Fiverr gig can still result in a garbage product.

I went for a $15 gig next, thinking that a higher cost would equal a higher incentive to actually try on the artist’s part. This artist actually put some thought into it, switched up the design, and added some color-contrasting elements. She did a very good job, so I replaced my homemade one with hers, but found that when displayed next to other indie covers, it still wasn’t on the same level of quality. Like a dude in khakis and Converses in a room full of suits. I like Converses and casual dress, I just prefer not to stick out that way in this case. This is one of those rare instances that I realized I SHOULDN’T try to go against the grain. So the hunt continued.

I searched forums on Google for Fiverr recommendations. Many of the suggestions were no longer active. I did try the highly rated Jimmy Gibbs who won an award for best book cover design on Fiverr, but I wasn’t really impressed. It seemed his design was specifically geared toward the gritty action man’s explosions and car crash sort of genre and he couldn’t give a softer fantasy touch. Chyna_Creatives, also highly rated, produced something I probably could have done myself in Photoshop, and seemed more interested in her Fiverr rating above all else; even asking me not to request additional revisions through the request tool because of how it might affect her stars.

My winner was Okomota.

cc3d-copy

He nailed it on the first try, sending me 3 concepts that were all so stunning, there was no chance of making a bad soup/salad choice then regretting it later. Barely any revisions necessary. You could immediately see the quality and effort that blew all the other covers I’d gotten off Fiverr out of the Jolly Roger Bay waters. He’s an example of a skilled designer who knows what special touches to add without your guidance. The details he added on his own were incredible. You won’t be paying $5 for his services; he’s on the higher end of Fiverr, but his work is definitely worth it and still a bargain. He knows what he’s doing. Must stop gushing. But really, go to him first if you don’t want to spend time weeding through the rest on Fiverr hoping to get lucky.

Runner-up goes to mnsartstudionew. For a lower price tag, he definitely still adds some unique touches and comes up with an original idea.

So as far as Fiverr book covers goes…Gryffindor for the win!

~Tael

Ready, Set, GO!

Greetings! Welcome to Tael’s Beat.

In a burst of motivation and determination, I recently self-published a YA Science Fantasy novel titled Chaos (un)Controlled, and that motivation has extended its reach here. When I first read the suggestions that a self-published author should have some sort of website, my first thought was “Oh god. Yuck. I don’t have the time or expendable funds to hire a guy to take care of this for me.” Then I realized it didn’t have to be some fancy, show-off-y, media-ridden bells-and-whistles kind of thing (although I think that’s what sells nowadays). I’m quite happy with eccentric simplicity.

Since Chaos (un)Controlled is my current project, this blog will mostly address my self-publishing journey. I am in no way an expert with skilled advice and successful statistics to provide. I’m simply your average lover of reading and writing who wrote something I’m proud of and am trying to put it out there to the world while sharing my personal experience. I hope other first-time indie authors going into this as well can relate. I haven’t tried to operate a consistent blog since Xanga. We’ll see where it takes me.

Yesterday, my cousin, who recently finished my book, looked me in the eye and very confidently confirmed exactly what inspired my title. Who else can guess what it was?

~Tael