Open floor

Sorry for the late post, everyone, but the Mad Ones have been up to their eyebrows with real life, odd schedules, etc. Because of that, I dropped the ball. Jason normally has the first Friday of each month but I forgot he is now a new homeowner and that, as well as a short story he is trying to write, are his main priorities right now and rightly so. So, I’m going to throw the floor open to you guys today. Tell us about your latest release — short blurb and link — or ask your question about writing and publishing. We’ll be around to answer your questions.

The floor is now yours.


  1. I’ll just hold up a wall. And slowly slide down it, giving thanks that my Calmer Half has decided to delay the book release until after I’m no longer working 12-hour days and 60-hour weeks. (Okay, there may have been some writers block and sickness involved in it not being finished yet, but I don’t have to look a gift horse in the mouth.)

    How far in advance do y’all start planning and reserving the advertising for book launches? We’ve done everything from “Oops! Book is up on Amazon a day before we expected them to approve it – better let the blog know!” to two-week-out, carefully coordinated launch with cover reveals and mailing list announcements and sales on prior book in series.

    I know some authors even do ARCs to goodreads to get reviews ahead of time (if you publish the trade paperback first, then you can even get reviews while the ebook is still on preorder). Still, not sure I want to do that.

    Interesting link on a site with plenty of readers doing a test on the Amazon algorithms here:

    1. Dorothy, I’m still trying to find the right answer to the promo problem. I tried something different with Duty from Ashes and had it set up for pre-orders approximately 3 weeks before publication. Once the pre-order link was active, I started posting it on my blog, FB, etc. It was echoed across my Twitter and other accounts. It gave a nice boost to opening day sales.

      Advertising I’ve done with other books hasn’t really paid off. I didn’t do a sale on Vengeance from Ashes, the first book in the series, because it is already at $2.99. Although, I may discount it for Christmas.

      Oh, and here’s the link for Duty from Ashes, the second in the Honor and Duty series.

      1. Meant to say… I like this cover. The first one wasn’t bad (though I think you changed it?) but this one is exceptional.

      2. Indie author land is now If you are doing a promotion, they will tell the world and it gives you tweet fodder. They used to do author interviews. I used it for a countdown, but I suspect the bulk of my sales came from the AtH Saturday promo. Still, it’s another venue.

    2. I do a teaser the week before launch (or try to – life, formatting burps, B&N and Kobo problems) on my blog. And generally do a “hey y’all, it’s a month or so out” post and a “It’s alive! It’s alive!” post, with notes to PJ Media and AtH. And that’s it. I don’t know where to market or how to do it very well, given the odd genre mix in my stuff, and that I’m only e-book.

      I like the “first day surge” but I’m interested in the long tail even more.

  2. Okay, here’s a question–or a request for a virtual shoulder pat and “there, there”:

    Does anyone think it’s possible to get away with passive launches? I really want to publish and forget, but the self-pubber fora claim it’s promotion or death, no matter how good you are. But I look at marketing and the constant price/visibility/distribution changes it requires and flinch.

    1. Passive launches? All the time. One of these days I’ll get some sort of grasp of the concept of marketing. And extended distribution and more paper versions and . . . Yeah, it’s probably one reason my sales stink.

      Oh, the latest . . . They were marooned for almost twenty years. But now the Earth is back . . .

    2. Here’s a question back for you: who are the people on the self-publishing fora? Mostly people who have been in publishing for less than three years, have no backlog of work, and are trying to strike it big right this second, on the few books put out, yes?

      If you fall into all three of those criteria, then yes, heavy promotion is critical. It’s a mindset which lacks any experience with a ten-year plan, because the market hasn’t existed for 10 years.

      On the other hand, there’s Dean Wesley Smith and Kristin Kathryn Rusch, who don’t promote heavily, but have a huge back catalog of work built up, and keep doing regular releases mixed in with some promotion (the 5×5 bundles, for example.) But you don’t see Kris worrying about getting into bookbub to promote one particular series, and they don’t maintain social media sites just to promote.

      There is a middle ground. Amazon weights its algorithms to push the new releases, so if you want to maximize that new release boost, you can market (light or heavy) the new stories. However, unlike physical bookstores, your book isn’t dumped after 6 weeks if it doesn’t sell well and fast. So if you want to put out the catalog and work on price changes and rolling promotions later, it’s entirely possible. Harder to get the momentum rolling, unnatural to people weaned on internet speed and “now now now! Or never!”, but true.

      The best advertisement for a book is another book. You can get one out and market the heck out of it, or you can put out thirty and have readers coming back every month, saying “More? More?” You can also mix and match to suit, and advertise your latest release, occasionally advertise the first in any series, (especially in conjunction with the latest release in series), but not make the promotion and advertising a full time job. You’ll get fewer results immediately, but that’s not to say it won’t work well over time.

      1. Thank you for the timely post.

        For me, being on the verge so to speak, the timing of this is perfect.

        Thanks again.

    3. All I basically do is blog about it, ask my friends to “share” when I post on FB and that sort of thing. I don’t have time to do much anything else. What I’m seeing is that getting more titles up for sale helps more than anything.

    4. In the year or so I’ve been self-pubbing, I find that some promotion is always better than none, unless you’ve already got a decent fan following. I do targeted FB ads ($5-20 a pop), am building a mailing list (slowly but surely) and announce the book in a few forums where people know me, and that’s usually enough to get me 20-50 sales in the first couple of days, which gets my book in the Amazon Hot Release list for at least a few genres. I’m not exactly setting the world on fire (my first novel’s sold about 3,000 copies in its first year), but it’s providing a nice revenue stream for me which is growing as I put out more books).

      When I released an Omnibus edition of my first three novels (and here’s my unabashed plug: ), I didn’t do any promotion except for an announcement in my web page and FB (unpaid, which means maybe 1/10 of my page followers saw it, thank you so much, Mr. Zuckerberg), That book’s sales have ranged from underwhelming to non-existent. So I think just releasing a book without at least push is not a good idea. At the very least, try to get enough people to buy a dozen or two books the first few days so your book will show up in the Amazon charts (picking the right sub-genres also helps a lot).

  3. I have a strange question. I have come across a local (Vermont) bookstore that assists self pubs for a fee. Please keep reading. It is a one time fee. All the income after cost of selling a book goes directly to the author. I have not yet heard what their royalty fee is for ebooks but expect to hear shortly. They also publish using LS which means that their books can be placed in independent stores and libraries through Ingram. The books will be available on both B&N and Amazon, and theri ebooks are available on all platforms. The cost is less than a competent editor, even possibly less than a un of the mill editor or proofreader. For the top package (Ingram and all) the fee is just under $700, for which you get very nice books, a cover and access to Ingram. Your book is also on sale at their store for three months. Assuming I’ve actually written a good book, this deal sounds better than Amazon. What do you think?

    1. I think that writing a book is hard work; publishing it is also hard, and completely different work. So we’re seeing a lot of places starting to offer a la carte services to authors. This is awesome, However, the devil is in the details, and you most assuredly want to read the fine print on any package deal with an eye to how it can go wrong as well as go right. Because the business of being a publisher with one author (you), is also another learning skill that requires completely different skills from writing or publishing.

      You say income after cost of selling book is recouped goes to the author. This sets off red flags for me, because it says Who is getting the payment from the vendors? I’m all for paying people for work. I buy the cover art images, we negotiate with the cover designer. But they get paid, up front, in full. If someone else is getting the money coming in and only pays you after fees, the potential for corruption or complication is huge. What happens if the store goes bankrupt – who’s getting the money? Not you. What happens if the store owners retire and sell the store, or if they decide they’re no longer supporting the self publishing line? How responsive are they going to be when you want to run a sale and depend on them for dropping the price of the books in time for the vendors? How responsive will the new management be in ten years? When you want to change the covers (marketing trends change. Look at any series out for more than five years, and you’ll usually see a new set of covers on them. This happens for a reason.), will they upload new images for you, or will they insist they make the new ones? What if you don’t think their covers best market to your genre, and want them changed? If you discover typos / errors / need to update links and back matter, do they charge another fee? How often and how fast will they do it?

  4. Looks like interest in the Human Wave is spreading. IO9 has a really neat article up suggesting that stories about the colonization of other worlds could hit a lot of the sweet spots that make post-apocalyptic fiction appealing to the current market, while at the same time being positive and forward-looking instead of despairing the inevitable decline and fall of humanity.

    1. I’ve got an attitude about Io9 and “positive and forward-looking” in the same sentence. 😉

      I did see the link, though. Didn’t follow it yet to see what they said. I think it’s probably true though. What makes post-apocalyptic fiction appealing is that a culture and people are thrown into an unexpected survival situation. The one comment I did see said yes but, a colony would be well planned and supplied. To mangle one of my favorite space-merc’s quotes… “What you plan and what happens ain’t never been exactly similar.”

    2. Maybe post-apocalyptic fiction stems from our thwarted desire for new frontiers. We don’t see many frontiers left on Earth, we no longer believe that Barsoom is reachable, and we want that blasted frontier back. Some authors are willing to kill off the bulk of the human race to restore that frontier. My November novel this year is about a cryogenically frozen starship trooper. He and his wife mustered out and bought tickets to a colony world, but the starship gets lost and goes somewhere else. He is awakened 300 years after the landing to find that things have Gone Terribly Wrong. It is possible to imagine a frontier without killing off one’s fellows.

  5. My latest release is a bit of software folks here might find useful:

    I’ve adapted the comments-tracking code from the SlateStarCodex blog. Install this extension (for Chrome & clones, and Firefox+Greasemonkey) and you’ll get a note in the upper-right-hand corner saying, “7 comments since ‹date & time›”. The time updates every time you refresh the page, or you can enter a time explicitly; it also adds the term “~new~” to every such comment so you can search for them easily. (There’s a drop-down menu also, but that’s sorted by post time and so is not good if you’re trying to read a thread.)

    The current version is for AtH and MGC. The code is not mine: the GitHub link will show who gets the credit. All I’ve done is alter the “match” line; you can try that yourself and see whether it’ll work on other WordPress blogs.

    This might replace “C4C” for some people.

    1. Interesting, just installed it in Firefox. I’m seeing green boxes around comments. The New tag is hard to see, being gray.

      Might be neat if you could get it to do things like fix the formatting (wider columns) or add reply and like buttons to deeper comments (Something WP CAN handle, but the format doesn’t).

  6. Life takes no prisoners. I don’t know how you writers write at all. All I do is read and review, and ka-POW along comes a series of events, some good, some not so much, and I get sidetracked.
    But I did finish Cedar’s Farmhand, written under her pen-name of Lelania Begley, and reviewed it. It’s NOT, by any means, my best review, but I did give her five stars, and the review has SOME relationship to her work. However, as I had sort of promised, I discovered that her book is an allegory for the American space program, and I threw the Soviet space program in there for free. As we all know, a full scale return to space would be a sight for sore eyes, and Cedar obviously endorses this perspective, as her pen name is an anagram for ‘eyeball ailing.’
    Now to see if I can get back on track with more MGC reads and reviews. I don’t even know where I am on the list…

  7. So back at the ranch where the boar ate the cow
    If the dog ate my homework what was left for the sow?
    If the fleas bit the dog and the dog fought the cat
    Under the breadbox were there crumbs for the rat?
    Does this have meaning, or am I just bored?
    And if it’s not over make it be soon please, Oh Lord
    Because I know it’s Friday and the weekend is near
    But the danger of boredom is that brain death is near
    I’m no poet and I don’t claim to be
    But c’mon five-thirty save a poor soul like me
    Because when I’m done for the week and I’m headed straight home
    I’ll be number one like a finger of foam
    My doggerel is terrible so I think I’ll just quit
    And go hide in the corner to finish my snit

  8. One of the project seeds I’ve yet been unable to exorcise seems to be asking for a thriller plot. I’m not well read enough in this genre, and could stand to do some research.

    Anyone have any writers of thrillers or technothrillers that they would recommend?

    1. The main requirement for “Thrillers” seems to be nearly non-stop action. If you let the reader catch their breaths, it drops into the mere “adventure” genre. 😀

      1. Okay. So my detective can spend time investigating the assassin who has compromised the police, and the assassin’s employer who operates the nefarious device, so long as I rapidly transition past it, and keep the on screen focus on threats, and the ticking clock.

        That helps me get everything lined up from inciting incident to conclusion.

        Thank you. I’ve done a lot of streamlining, and invented some needed connecting details writing this comment.

    2. Matthew Reilly is my favorite recommend for thrillers / technothrillers. He cheerfully admits that he’s not out to write deep, meaningful stories, but fun, action-packed ones. Reading his books is like reading something that I’d expect to happen if Michael Bay and John Woo put their heads together and decided to write a book instead of make a movie.

      He has a number of stand-alone books as well as a couple of series. His attempt at a historical mystery, The Tournament had me intrigued because it revolved around the game of chess of all things.

      He has a fondness for unlikely heroes. His first book, Contest has a single dad with his kid as the hero. The latest book, The Great Zoo of China has a traumatized herpetologist. Reilly also isn’t one I’d accuse of making weak female characters – and he uses all sorts of definitions for ‘strength’ to help build his characters to be more than ‘tick box feminism.’

      Oh and he has fun with playing with cryptozoology. He’s very clearly inspired by Indiana Jones, and has no problems whatsoever with being so.

      The other one I’d recommend, but he’s really hard to get outside of – and inside of – Australia is Greig Beck. Much like Reilly in thriller style, but with more horror-feel than Reilly’s ‘lots and lots of things explode and get destroyed.’

      I also find myself enjoying Mark Greaney’s continuation of the Jack Ryan novels. He isn’t afraid of dropping the characters into ‘oh shit’ situations and occasionally, and realistically, ‘I hate my life that was retarded’ moments – it’s quite clear that he DID write with Clancy, not ghost-wrote for him. The styles are quite distinct, and I think they worked well together.

      In fact, I enjoyed pretty much everything in the Jack Ryan Jr. set of stories, but I guess for some that would be a Mileage May Vary sort of thing. But Greaney’s style is fun and fast and I wouldn’t mind trying out his own books outside of the Ryanverse as a result.

      1. Reading his books is like reading something that I’d expect to happen if Michael Bay and John Woo put their heads together and decided to write a book instead of make a movie.

        Really, what more can I ask for in a book?

  9. A question: What’s your preferred method of punctuating internal dialogue? Italics, “saidisms” (With or without quotation marks?), straight narration (in first person, or even in third?), or even something else?

      1. Hmmm, this is easy, he thought. – Like that?
        “Hmmm, this is easy,” he thought to himself.
        This is easy, he thought.
        I thought it was easy, but I was wrong.

        1. There are times, Friedrach thought, when there should be limits on stupidity. But no, unfortunately for the bookwyrm, this was not the case. At the moment, he was witnessing an example of such abject failure that he wondered if he should commence documenting it as a warning for future generations. Glancing over at his human bondmate, he studied Martel’s expression.

          Judging from the look on his face, I’m not the only one who is wondering if a conveniently applied fireball would be a mercy at this point.

          Together the two watched the troll throw itself at the cliff face again and again, screaming incoherent epithets and howling accusations, but in such a disjointed fashion neither the mage nor the bookwyrm could make sense of it.

          “Perhaps it only mimics language,” Martel said after several minutes, a dubiously tentative tone of hope in his voice.

          Friedrach narrowed his eyes and snorted derisively. “No,” he declared. “Trust me, Martel, this one’s an especially sterling example of stupid even for a troll.”

  10. My latest is hard science fiction, about a race to win a prize going to the first person to start bringing in the debris orbiting Earth:

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