Chapter 17: The Freedom Game

Three years ago, the impossible happened: Ethlynn’s role in life changed from an ordinary slave to an all-powerful sorcerer.  Now, she’s seeking to become the apprentice of the very person whom she used to call ‘master.’  Why?  Her brother and sister’s lives are still on the line.

With only the clever but awkward Wystan to call her friend, her days of suppression aren’t over.  Despite constantly proving her strength with magic, her peers still look down on her as property.  She does her best to keep her chin up and slave collar clean, acting exactly as her teachers instruct.

Each test they put her through she finds herself questioning who she is and who she’s becoming. Will she be able to keep herself from becoming a cold-hearted killer? Is saving the life of her brother and sister worth the lives of countless others? Ethlynn will have to choose, if she can manage to stay alive…

 

I am BEYOND excited to announce my first book, The Freedom Game.  Also, I’d love to shout out Y. Nikolova at Ammonia Book Covers for the beautiful cover that you see above.

Sound like a book you’d be interested to try out?  It will be available on Amazon May 23rd.  Follow this blog for sneak peaks and more news!

Chapter 14: Action Plan

I’ve been querying the Freedom Game to several agents.  Right now I’m sitting at seven submissions and three rejections.  And, as most of you know, a non-response is still a response.  Every time I see the rejection email, I’m hit with that little twist right in my heart.  Several of the agent are very gracious, reminding me that the literary arts are subjective, and that just because they didn’t connect with my piece doesn’t mean that it’s not good.  Well, nice words aside, that’s exactly what it feels like.

Well, guess what.  I don’t care.  I wrote a damn good book, and I know it.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than my last novel?  Hell yes.  Can I honestly picture it on a bookshelf at Books a Million or Barnes & Noble?  Yes.

I can honestly see my target audience (Young Adult) picking up this book on just an average day.  I can picture them reading about my main character Ethlynn and falling in love with her.  I see people arguing over if she belongs with Nash, the main love interest, or her best friend, Wystan.  I can see my readers growing along with Ethlynn and finding their strength.

It’s going to happen.  I’ll continue querying, and will do so until March of next year.  That’s the deadline I gave myself.  If by then I’ve still only heard rejection, then I’ll self-publish.  Then I’ll self-publish.  Plain and simple.

So, what have I been doing in the mean time?  Writing the sequel.  I’ve told you all in the past how major selling platforms have algorithms set up to help you advertise up until 30 days and then another until 90 days.

Right now, I’m not sure how many books this series will be, but I know it’ll at least be a trilogy.  Even though it’s not for certain that I’ll be self-publishing, I want to be prepared.  (Also, I absolutely love these characters and writing their story.)  If I take the Indie author route, I want to be able to publish the novels within 90 days of one another.  I’m still a business woman at heart, and I can’t imagine not taking advantage of the marketing opportunity.

I’m still presented with the problem: me.  I’m a slow writer.  This year I’ve finished the Freedom Game and written over 17,500 words of its sequel.  In 10 months.  Thinking realistically, I want this second book to be completely finished before I publish the first.  Ideally, I’d like to be well into the third, already outlining the fourth.  (My writing style involves me writing the original outline of the following book whilst writing the predecessor.  This means that I can add in foreshadowing and adjust my subplots to make them more relating to one another.)

What’s the point of all this rambling?  Writing itself is the reward.  I don’t write for anyone but me.  With that said, I want to get books published.  I want them to do well.  The better my books sell, the closer I am to being able to do this full-time.  That means I have to come up with a plan.

My final thought: set up an action plan for your writing!  Make it happen.  Success hardly ever falls into our laps.  You have the same 24 hours in your day as any successful author.  Use them.

Chapter 8: Questions on Questions

Hello again, my dear readers!  I am so terribly sorry about my lack of posting these past few weeks.  My internship has exhausted me far past what I originally expected.  But, the hiatus is officially ended!   I sat here thinking how best to kick back off my writer’s blog, and then realized: I have a sister who just so happens to be a published authors.  As to not overwhelm her, I kept this interview short; but, I thought you’d enjoy hearing some responses from the beloved Kristen Brand.

Question #1: What were the biggest factors in your decision to become an indie author rather than traditionally publish?

I’d been thinking about self-publishing for a while, as Hero Status had gotten rejection after rejection from traditional publishers and agents. I thought Hero Status was great, but part of me still worried I was biased and the book wasn’t as good as I thought. But then it happened! A small but respectable publisher was starting a digital-first imprint and acquired my book. Success at last!

Three months later, I got an email from the press saying that they’d acquired too many books and unfortunately had to drop some authors—including me. Now, they were a class act about the whole thing and returned my rights (You hear horror stories from authors where less reputable presses did no such thing), but it was still disappointing. And yet. And yet, these publishing professionals had deemed my nerdy little book good enough to acquire. That was the outside validation I needed, and I decide to go ahead and publish Hero Status myself.

Question #2: How did you decide on your editor?  Cover artist?

There are loads of freelance editors and cover artists out there whom indie authors can hire, some good, and some not so much. The key is research. There are online resources out there with lists of recommended editors, but instead of taking the word of some random person on the internet, I think it’s better to look at some of your favorite indie authors and see who they hired. Authors will usually thank their editors at the end of the book, so this isn’t as hard as it sounds. I approached my editor because she worked on one of my favorite fantasy series, and I didn’t remember seeing so much as a single comma out of place when I read those books.

As for cover art, I went with an artist recommended by a friend and fellow author. That’s another great strategy: hang out on forums with other indie authors and see who they had good experiences working with. And of course, look at other covers the artist has done in your genre.

Question #3: What has been your biggest challenge as an indie author?

Definitely marketing. I think I’m like most authors in that I like to write, not sell things. Figuring out how to get more people to buy my books has been a challenge—but a fun one. The indie author community is great about sharing strategies and helping each other out, and I’ve learned so much since I got started. I read plenty of blog posts and listen to podcasts on the subject (The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast is a favorite), and while I’m better at it than I used to be, I still have a long way to go.

Question #4: You’ve a two-book superhero series with one set to be published later this year.  What’s it been like to try to take over a genre that’s considered to be an “unmarketable” genre?

It’s funny that superhero fiction doesn’t have a bigger place on the shelves of bookstores. With superhero movies being so popular and profitable, you’d think there’d be a ton of superhero books out there, but I haven’t found that to be the case. Still, there are definitely readers who love the genre. It may not be as popular as something like paranormal romance, but plenty of indie authors have found success by serving a smaller niche.

Question #5: Do you have any advice for people considering self-publishing that you wish you knew?

I’d probably advise people that if you’re writing a series, wait until you have two or three books finished before you publish the first—at least if you’re a slow writer like I am. Putting books out three or so months apart can help give your series momentum and keep it selling well. Being able to publish so fast is one of the major advantages indies have over traditionally published authors, since it keeps your books fresh in your readers’ minds.

Compare that to me, who publishes one book every year or so, and…yeah. It’s an area where I have definite room for improvement.

Question #6: Where can these readers find you and stay updated on your writing whereabouts?

You can find me at my author website, KristenBrand.com. It has information about my books plus free superhero fiction you can read online. I’m also on Twitter at @BrandedKristen, where I talk about writing updates, comic books, and other randomness.

Chapter 6: Marketing Strategies

This chapter is dedicated to the part of my character that you’ve yet to read about: my inner businesswoman.  I foreshadowed this event in an earlier post when I mentioned my major in Finance.  The degree required marketing classes, and as such I’ve come up with a list of suggestions for authors who choose the self-publishing route.  I should note these items are in no way guaranteed to work.

~ If a multi-book series, publish books about three months apart. This is when big websites greatly lower their advertisements of your book unless sales have done remarkably well.  Although it may take you longer to finish a novel, simply wait to publish the first until you feel comfortable that you’d complete the second in time and so on.

~ Once Book #2 sales decline past your personal desired level, donate only the first book to libraries. This will force them to buy your other books once they’ve fallen in love with your series.
* Choose cities you donate to based on the population demographic (look for your books’ target group)
* You can add more books to the library once

~ Optimal dates to sell eBook by genre:
* January-April: Romance, Self-help, Business books, Cookery
* May-August: Adventure, Fantasy, Travel
* September-November: Academic, Horror, Paranormal
* December-January: Children, Cookery, Illustrated, Quiz, Dictionaries and quirky fun books [1]

~ Every three books, offer a deal for set.
* Example: You’re selling each book for $2.99. Sales are starting to steadily
decline for Book #3.  Offer Books #1-#3 for $4.99.
* Example: You’re selling each book for $2.99.  Sales are starting to steadily
decline for Book #6.  Offer Books #4-#6 for $4.99.

~ Use every avenue to promote Publishing Date. Examples:
* Twitter
^ use trending hashtags and relate to your story
^ create unique hashtag and try to get it trending
* Facebook
^groups
* Instagram

~ Reach out to freelance book reviewers. The standard is that you give them a free copy for an unbiased review.
* Continue going back to the same reviewers each book. Build a
professional relationship with them.  They might eventually let your books
“cut lines” when you reach out to them.

~ Listen to feedback.  If your readers tweet or ask a lot about a certain character or pairing, take note. Use that popularity and see if you can create a standalone about them.
* Do not sacrifice quality to try to force a sale. This will only anger your
readers, especially since it was one of their favorite characters you just
ruined, and you may lose loyal regular buyers.

~ Create and/or utilize website. Your author persona should already have one of these, so now use it.  Post about the books.  Ask your followers questions.  Give them something to interact with where possible.
* Subscribers List. Once they sign up, you’ve got them trapped for any news that you feel is relevant about the series!

~ Hold fan art contest about book’s characters. Offer appropriate monetary rewards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
     * Utilize social media to promote

~ Post a serial/short stories on your website in the same world/universe as your series. Again, do not sacrifice quality.

 

[1] Rooney, Mich. “Reaching Readers: Best Timing for Book Launches.”  SelfPublishing Advice Center.  N.p., 22 Nov. 2014. Web. 31 May 2017.