Friday, January 31, 2014

Dark Inspiration: The Demon Building

Ever see a building that's so bizarre it sticks with you? Over at io9, they have an article listing some usual looking buildings.

Buildings that look like UFO crash landings

Sometimes a building is like an architectural alien. The bizarrely-shaped museums in these photographs are so different from the city around them that it's as if they erupted out of a dimensional doorway from another universe. Read more at io9

I had to share this. I mean these buildings are great fodder for some supper creepy stories. Especially this one:
I'm thinking demon building. Most of the time it's camouflaged. But, this moment, for some reason, a person was able to take a picture of it. They tried to take another picture, but the building didn't show up. The monsters have bewitched the residents so thoroughly that they become violent when anyone say anything bad about that building. 

What are the demons planning? 

They don't want to take over the world. 

They want to be closer to their food source...human emotions. They don't go out to gather food. The building absorbs it through those knobs on its back. Another race of demons wants in on this. Negotiations goes wrong. The ones that own this building are greedy. They want to keep the food all to themselves. Other demon races get angry. They go to war in that town. Others know war is pointless. They, instead, create buildings of their own in other towns. Soon, demons are living in every city of the world. And, humans don't even know it. Soon more violent monsters come to the surface. Ones that aren't satisfied with remaining invisible... 

Dark I know. I'm a dark fantasy writer so monsters is where my mind goes when I'm thinking about stories. It happens when you write in one genre long enough. Kinda annoying

That was fun!

Your turn. What story idea comes to mind when you see this building?  Doesn't have to be dark, despite the title of this post ;) 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Does Your Cover Say?

That whole don't judge a book by its cover only applies to people. You can totally judge a book by its cover. I do it all the time. I've bought enough fantasy and horror novels to know that the covers for the books I like have a certain style. If a book doesn't have that type of cover, I usually don't even pick it up.

The cover tells the reader the genre of the story. Some covers, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, break the rules. That's fine. Look how successful those titles are. But, before you go breaking rules, you should at least know what they are.

As you know, The Sciell is dark fantasy. If you've been on this blog before, you've probably seen this cover.
When I was thinking about my cover, I wanted to know what people expected from a dark fantasy cover. I went on Goodreads. Under the Explore tab, there's an option called Genre. This is an awesome resources. I use it all the time. Genre gives you all the books that have been shelved under a certain genre. I usually scroll down to the section labeled Popular [the genre] Books.

I searched for dark fantasy and saved the book covers on a Pinterest board. I used Pinterest because the Goodreads book pages have a share button for Pinterest.

Pinterest: Dark Fantasy Book Covers

I also did a "dark fantasy in Books" search on Amazon.

Doing this, putting all the books side-by-side, you are able to see any patterns, any similarities in style. This even lets you know if there's a certain way to display the title, author name and series name.

So far, The Sciell cover is saying what I want it to say. At BEA last year and the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits this year, people have known my book is fantasy related just by looking at the cover.

Friday, January 24, 2014

World Building: Clothing

Clothing can also be a character in your fantasy world. What people wear says a lot about them. For instance, certain cultures may be known for wearing bright colors either for religious beliefs or because the colors are a sign of wealth. In many cultures, clothing shows class, martial status even occupation.

However, if those types of details aren't relevant to your story, you don't have to dig into them. My Merging Worlds Trilogy takes place in one country with no widespread traditional dress. Research into different types of clothing is a way for me to know what else is out there besides what I see everyday. It gives me a broader range of clothing my characters can wear. This research also brought to mind natural and man-made materials used to make clothes.

Here are some useful links to help you with clothing in your world. If you're on Pinterest, there are many boards for clothing from around the world. Also, if your fantasy country is similar to one in our world, you can Google "clothing in France" or "clothing in South Africa", for instance. Or, you can do a Google image search for, let's say "culture and clothing" or "clothing from around the world."

National Geographic: Photo Gallery: Global Fashion
Pinterest: Around the World: Traditional Clothing
Pinterest: Clothing of Different Cultures 
Pinterest: Traditional Clothing Around The World
BBC: Costume Gallery
Cultural Fashions: A Study of World Culture and Fashion
Wikipedia: Clothing by Nationality 
Science@home: 13 Traditional Costumes from Around the World
Wikipedia: Clothing Materiel
Types of Clothing Fabrics
Textile School: Types of Fabrics

On an unrelated note, you've probably noticed that Goodreads Giveaway widget at the top right. You can enter to win 1 of 5 advanced signed copes of my upcoming book The Sciell! Giveaway is open now until February 21. Check out the widget to enter.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When to Release A Book

A question posted on a Google+ community got me thinking. When is the best time to release a book? Yes, you can publish your book when it's done, but the release date is also a marketing tool. You want it to be on a day you can get the most sales. You've probably heard of the four P's of marketing- Product, Placement, Price, Promotion. This has been changed and added to so many times. Even still, product is only a portion of the marketing mix.

Yes, having a great book is important. Unfortunately, it's not enough.

The reality is if you release a book and do nothing for it because you think people will buy it because it's amazing then, more than likely, no one will buy it.

How do you determine the right time to release your book? Here are some things I learned in my publishing classes. First of all, publishers release books on a Tuesday. I don't know why. If you want your book to have a professional feel about it, then consider releasing it on a Tuesday as well.

January (beginning of the year)- Good for self-help books. At the first of the year, people are making resolutions. Any book that might help readers make and keep resolutions would be perfect for this time of year. Also note, this is the back end of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. People's funds are limited. This is a slow month in terms of book sales.

February- Awesome for romance novels or books that can be Valentine's Day gifts.

March-May- You want your book to be a summer read, but you don't want to compete with every other author who wants to be on people's summer reading list. These months are for you.

April- This is National Poetry Month- ideal for releasing books of poetry.

June and July- Summer reads. This is when the big publishers release books... heavily. A good time for books people would want to bring with them on vacation. More than likely, this is not the best time to release a book with a heavy subject matter or your thousand page book that's not travel friendly, unless it's a ebook. It can also be tough for little known self-published books to get any sales during this time because of the competition from big publishers.

August- Publishers don't normally release books by big name authors during this month. New or little known authors can publish books in August and have a better chance at seeing some descent sales.

August-September- Back to school. Great time for textbooks and learning materials for school aged children.

Beginning of Fall- This is another period when big publisher are releasing their books. This may not be the best time for an indie author to debut. Like summer, fall is great for book sales in general, but you'll be going against some big name authors.

October- The month of horror. Great for horror, paranormal and gothic books. Remember, you will not be the only one who thinks this. October will be flooded with horror-related books.

November-December- This is hit or miss. People will be focused on Christmas presents. Now, if your book is Christmas themed or you can convince people it's a good gift, then this is your season. This would also be a good time for hardcover books.

December-January- Good for ebooks. They cost less than prints books which is awesome for people who spent much of their money on Christmas presents. Also, a lot of people get e-readers and tablets for Christmas. They'll be looking for ebooks to put on their new devices.

Think about themes in your book and see if you can tie it to a holiday or an awareness month.

This is not about when is the best time to promote your book. That's 24/7. This is thinking about when readers buy books and when big name authors release their books. You may not want your horror novel released at the same time as the new Stephen King title.

That being said, for some authors, it doesn't matter when they release their book. People will buy it anyway. Most of us first time authors haven't reached that status.

You may disagree with the way traditional publishers run things, but their job is to sell books. And, you have to admit, they do it well. They spend a lot of time deciding when to release a book. The release date must be important.

Picking an ideal date, won't guarantee that your book will be a hit, but it will help your sales. Remember the four P's. The release date is only part of the equation.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Sciell Book Trailer [Video]

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I know my last couple of posts have been about my book. I can't help it. It's getting down to the wire. The Sciell's being released March 10. Finally finished the trailer. Enjoy!

The Goodreads Giveaway is still pending. I'll let you know when it's been approved. For those on Goodreads, you can download an excerpt from The Sciell as an ebook here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Jacket

I did my jacket ! So excited. The book seems so real now.

I'll be releasing my book as a Trade Paperback and an ebook.

Add this book to your Goodreads shelf!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Living Darkness Is Almost Here

I'm almost done. I'm in the process of uploading The Sciell onto Createspace so I can create advance copies! I ran into a hiccup, though. Now, I have to go back over 300+ pages to fix formatting issues. At least I don't have to read it anymore.

But, I gotta say, I don't know how I would've done this without Adobe InDesign. It made laying out my book so much easier.

This process requires a lot of patience. I've had some moments where I wanted to beat up my computer or throw something across the room. Should've expected this. I had to upload my short stories numerous times through Kindle Direct Publishing before the ebooks looked the way they were supposed to. On top of that, getting just a preview of the book takes ages. I have to wait five to ten minutes for the document to finish uploading. In the Internet world, if it ain't instant, it's taking too long.

There must be an easier way to do this. You follow the instructions and still your book doesn't look right when you preview it. Drives me insane. By the time I'm ready to upload, I'm sick of looking at the story. The last thing I want to do is return to the file and start fixing stuff. What's even more fun is when you see a formatting issue in the preview, but it doesn't show up in the document so you have no idea how to fix it.

That's the thing about self-publishing, at least for me. By the time you're ready to publish, you've read the book a million times. The magic is gone and all you want is to be rid of it. I'm being dramatic. I still love my book and I'm super proud of it. I'm just sick of reading it. Despite all that, I'm still glad I went the self-publishing route. I like having control over how my book looks.

What next for The Sciell?

I'll be releasing the book trailer next Monday. The trailer is almost done! I need to tweak it a bit. If all goes well, I'll be starting the Goodreads Giveaway next Monday, too.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

World Building: The Feel of a Name

What do these city names have in common?


You may not know they're in Japan, but by the sound of them and the fact that they're cities, you know they're in East Asia.

What about?


Again, you don't have to know what country they're a part of. By the sound of them, you know they're cities in an African country. 

When it comes to world building, you can throw different sounding words into one country simply because you like them. It's your story, you can do whatever you want. When it comes to building more than one country, I suggest you go for a little reality.

The names of countries and cities within one continent should sound like they belong together. 

In our world, language plays a huge, huge role in the names of different cities and countries. For instance, the way Americans say a city name may not be the way the residents say it. Let's take Rome. That's what we call it. When you go to Rome, you will not find any sign, anything that says Rome. In Italy, Rome is Roma. The same for Florence. It's Firenze in Italy.

I love world building, but I'm not going so far as to create my own languages. That's hardcore. 

For me, I have my list of names. Then, I consult Random Name Generator and start putting countries and cities together.

So far, this is what I have. It's still a work-in-progress.

Wolf Trap
Broken Land


Vishnu Donar

One way I did this was to think about the personality of the continent and make sure all the cities matches the feel of said personality. For instance, Sorin is a sort of rough and gruff continent. It's a type of land where everyone is built like a house, yet regal, proud and remarkably intelligent. When examining words to become country names, I wanted to feel that those words embodied one or all of those traits I listed above. Your instincts are important in the naming process.

For how to create names, check out my post Naming Your Fantasy World

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sorting the Self-Publishing Advice

One article says an author needs reviews before they offer their book for free. Another says you offer your book for free to get reviews. Then, you hear you need reviews in order to get reviews. What kind of sense does that make?!

So, what advice is right?

None of them and all of them.

Unfortunately, there aren't many hard and fast rules when it comes to book promotion. Sucks, doesn't it? Trial and error is the name of the game. In one my grad school classes, publishing professionals said a book could get reviewed by the big guys like The New York Times and still not become a bestseller.

Many successful authors have given book marketing and promotion advice to us newbs. But, don't take every advice as an absolute rule.

I do a lot of research. If more than one person says the same thing worked for them then, that's what I try. For instance, I've read many articles and had many publishing professionals say Goodreads Giveaways work and that you should run said giveaway about 3 months before the book's release. Since my book is coming out in March, I will be running my first giveaway soon!

You guys know I love Evernote. When I find a good article on book marketing and promotion, I save it in my Book Promotion Notebook. Evernote has a Web Clipper that takes content from a website and saves it in one of your Notebooks- not just the link, the entire article.

Here are my go to articles.

Creative Indie: Everything you wanted to know about advertising your book (book promotion through Google, Facebook and More)
Jane Friedman: The 7-Step Business Plan for Writers
Jane Friedman: 3 Keys to Sustainable & Successful Indie Authorship
Wise Ink: 50 Websites Every Author Should Bookmark in 2014
Amazing Stories: Marketing 101: Book Launch- 6 Months Out
Huffington Post: How to Become a Goodreads Power Users
Your Writer Platform: 71 Ways to Promote and Market Your Book
Your Writer Platform: How To Target an Audience
Indies Unlimited: Book Promotion 101- 7 Critical Marketing Principles for Authors
Author Media: The Book Marketing Strategy Every Author Must Implement 

I ignore some words in those titles- like "every" and "must". The information is good, but it may not help everyone. Don't drive yourself crazy because you think you have to do everything on the list.

Subscribing to Jane Friedman's blog as well as The Book Designer gives me some amazing information. You should take a look at both those websites. One of the easiest ways to get a lot of promotion and marketing tips is to subscribe to different blogs and websites. The ones I subscribe to can be found on my Dark Fantasy Writing page.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another Year Gone: 2014 of Awesomeness

Happy New Year! 

I've got some big things coming up this year.

  1. Aubey LLC, my publisher and boss, will be at the American Library Association Conference. I'll be there too- helping out with the booth. 
  2. My first novel, The Sciell, will be released March 10!
  3. Book signing at BEA
  4. Publishing more short stories
  5. If all goes well, the second novel in The Merging Worlds Trilogy will be published at the end of the year.
  6. I'll find a career outside of writing. I know I want to do freelance, but I don't know what or how. 
That's me. What are you looking forward to this year?

For all you anime fans out there, Sword Art Online is coming back! This is an awesome way to start out the Nerd Year. SAO is one of my favorite series. I can't wait!

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