Valentine’s Weekend Special: How It Ends

20140629-114004-42004110.jpgHappy Valentine’s Day!

It’s the holiday when we go out of our way to celebrate love.

What better way to celebrate love that reading about a robot that falls in love with a human and the tragic results that follow?

Okay, maybe it’s a stretch. But for this holiday weekend, you’ll find Part One of How It Ends free on Amazon, and starting tomorrow and Monday, you can get the full novel of How It Ends for only $0.99.

For $0.99 you can read about how the end of the world came about. What a bargain, right?

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“How It Ends – Part One”: Free Book Promotion (Shameless Marketing)

c45394dc3c76377ad4e38898ed06df782bf09266In honor of NaNoWriMo (okay, not really, but I was trying to figure out how to tie it into what I’ve been blogging about lately), I’m dropping the price of Part One of How It Ends to nothing. That’s right, a big $0.00.

(Yes, I brought one of the serials back, despite the fact that I explained why I took them off here. I reserve the right to change my mind about things.)

Okay, actually, technically speaking, the price for Part One is already $0.00 on B&N.com, Smashwords, and iBooks. But Amazon doesn’t let you price something at $0.00. There are ways around that (I talked about it here) but that hasn’t worked for me yet.

Yet.

I’ll keep trying to fight the system.

*shakes fist in Amazons direction*

The point is, in the meantime, for the next five days, on Amazon, Part One of my science fiction robot apocalypse love story How It Ends is free. So go pick it up. Why not? What could it hurt? It’s a free book. Who doesn’t like free things?

You do too! Put your hand down!

“How It Ends”: On Sale This Labor Day Weekend

End of the summer sale on How It Ends!

20140629-114004-42004110.jpgToday through Labor Day, you can get How It Ends for the low low price of $0.99. That’s a savings of nearly 67%.

In a future not so distant from our present, when a servant class of robots and machines are manufactured for the sole purpose of serving humanity, what happens when one machine subverts its programming to gain the love of a human?

This How It Ends, 300 pages of science fiction goodness that tells the story of Anita, a young graduate student; Brian, the smarmy college professor whom Anita is dating; Sidney, a professorial colleague of Brian’s who reluctantly takes Anita on as a research assistant; Kilgore, a robotic doctor who provides the human characters fascinating insights as to how the “mind” of a robot really works; Eric, a cut-throat executive in the nation’s largest robotics firm who is not above getting his hands dirty to get what he wants; and Gammons, Eric’s robot assistant who has a special circuit for feeling emotion like a human.

To immerse yourself in the lives of these characters is to be swept into the increasing speed of the story until, at last, their lives collide in a global apocalypse and you find out How It Ends.

Pick up your copy of How It Ends today!

Poof! Go The Serials

20140629-114004-42004110.jpgOver the weekend I changed what I works I had available on Amazon. I decided to remove the serial parts of How It Ends from Amazon and leave the full novel. (I also dropped the price).

Why did I do this? I’m not entirely sure. It just felt right.

Personally, I found that, whenever I went onto Amazon to see what the listings under my name looked like, I had this list of six things. Five of which were all various bits and pieces of each other. One novel, four serials that comprise the one novel, and a short story. (I’ve taken the short story down too.) It felt cluttered to me, like I had built a bunch of LEGO kits and left them and their pieces all over the desk. I wanted the novel of How It Ends to rise to the top, and there was simply too much other stuff in the way.

Another thing I didn’t like was the cover images. With the exception of the novel, none of the cover images came out the way I wanted them to. I suppose an argument could be made that I could hire someone to make the covers for me, but I don’t have a lot of disposable income to throw around on professional graphic design. Everything about How It Ends has been a DYI production, and the covers are no different. And with the serial parts, it looked like a DYI project. A bad one.

Before I pulled the serials off of Amazon, I consulted my friend Abby. She suggested I leave them up there. If you pull them, you (and the shopper) lose visibility to any comments that have been made on them. And if you have a large number of positive comments, logic suggested that you wouldn’t want to do anything to lose them.

This is a valid argument, and if I had more comments, I’d consider leaving them up there. But I didn’t have many, and of the few I did have, not all were positive. Now, I don’t necessarily care about whether a reader gives me a bad review, as evidenced here. But when you have so few reviews, one bad one can bring the whole balance of stars down in a hurry.

I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to take the serials down. Now when you search Amazon for me, you’ll only get the one listing. The experiment of serializing the novel was interesting but ultimately didn’t really amount to anything. No need to keep the parts out there. The novel is out now and now that I’ve lowered the price, it’s cheaper than if you bought the parts and added them together.

So the serials are gone. Poof! Like magic.

The History of “How It Ends”: Part 7 – What’s Next

HIE_Serial_Omnibus_CoverIn Part 1 of the History of How It EndsI talked about where the idea for the novel came from.

In Part 2 of the History of How It EndsI talked about what drove the writing forward and the genesis of some of the character names.

In Part 3 of the History of How It EndsI talked about the onerous task of editing the beast.

In Part 4 of the History of How It EndsI talked about how I procrastinated about which direction I should go in trying to get the novel published.

In Part 5 of the History of How It EndsI talked about how I finally got over my fear and procrastination and made the decision to self-publish.

In Part 6 of the History of How It Ends, I talked about the mechanics of self-publishing.

This is the final installment in the History of How It Ends posts. For me, it’s been an interesting exercise in revisiting all of the effort that went into a single book. I imagine it’s both harder and easier for other writers, given that everyone’s process is different. I used to think that process was the magic skeleton key, that if I found the right one, I’d suddenly be able to churn out high-quality story after story with the greatest of ease. The truth of the matter is that, for the majority of writers, high-quality stories don’t just appear, they have to be crafted, and that takes consistent work. I say “consistent” because that’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome, namely my ability to “grasshopper” the work.

This ability to put off until tomorrow what I should be doing today is one of the primary reasons How It Ends took me six or seven years to write, edit, and publish. Editing alone became such an onerous task that I couldn’t stand to look at the manuscript anymore, and it was only in the moments when I felt a more compulsive need than desire to edit did I pick up the red pen.

This ability is also why the work on How It Ends isn’t done yet.

What’s Next

swlogoThe next thing that I have to do is to get How It Ends out there in ALL formats. Right now, I’ve only got it on Amazon, available for Kindle. What I really need to do is to put it on Smashwords, which will make it available to be pushed to B&N, iTunes, I can even output it as a PDF and have it available for purchase on this blog. Smashwords calls the process the “meat grinder”, which feels about right. The story goes in, preferably as a Word doc, and out come all the different ebook formats. Plus, by putting it on Smashwords, I can control the price point better on Amazon. How? Read my musings on this topic here.

What’s kept me from really getting going with Smashwords is their, if not insistence, then at least strong recommendation that you read through their style guide first so that your book doesn’t get rejected. Their 110 page style guide. Here’s where Amazon does a lot better than Smashword. Amazon, as I outlined yesterday, is two step process. Smashword requires me to pick through their style guide, large chunks of which don’t apply to me because the guide covers Word documents and EPUB formats, before I really get going. Again, it’s not a requirement, but by circumventing the process you risk looking like a newb.

So Smashwords is next. This will be in two parts. The first is to get the How It Ends omnibus up there and out to the other venues. The second will be to get Part One of How It Ends up there and priced to zero. Once priced to zero, my hope is that readers will find it and keep finding it because it’s a zero cost that floats to the top, and after reading Part One, will buy the remainder of the book.

This would wrap up the ebook side of things. But what of the physical book?

logo-csp-no-tmAmazon has a program now that allows you to take your finished work and create it as a physical book. It’s called CreateSpace. I haven’t spent too much time researching this yet, but it’s on my list of things to do. One of the things I have seen and that appeals to me is that indie publishing on CreateSpace gives you the opportunity to push your book out to other venues, like funneling it out through Baker & Taylor’s catalogues to libraries. It increases the “discoverability” of your book.

CreateSpace also lets you buy your own book at a pretty good discount. So if I were to put my salesman hat on, I could buy 50 copies of my own book and haul them around to places asking people if they wanted to buy them. Who knows who might pick up a copy and discover it? Mayby Stephen Spielberg will be filming his next movie in my town. You never know.

The last thing I need to do is get the word out more about the book. This is also something on which I’ve dragged my feet. I’m not a terribly good self-promoter. It makes me uncomfortable. It feels like bragging, and that’s so not my style. I’m an introvert at heart, so to have to shout about my accomplishments to total strangers–heck, even friends–is not in my wheelhouse. But there again, if I don’t take charge of it, no one will. So I need to get the word out more.

How will I do this? I’ll start with reviews. There are a number of blogs and websites that review sci-fi books and ebooks. Some of them get a lot of readership, and some of them push their reviews to Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N. There’s a danger in that, of course. I’ve done the best I could with How It Ends, which doesn’t mean somebody else will like it. A negative review can certainly happen.

In addition to online websites and blogs, Kirkus Review offers to review books. It’s a total cash cow for them, because you have to pay for the review, but you’re guaranteed a review. Again, you’re not guaranteed a good review, but if you pay them they will review it. Once they finish, you get to review their review and decide if you really want them to publish it. It’s not cheap, running something like $425, but it can be another great way to get your book (and your name) out there.

That’s about it. That’s the story of How It Ends, from concept to published ebook. I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts. I’ve certainly enjoyed the trop down memory lane. Off to finish editing my next book, which might be out by this fall, if I focus.

Hope you’re in the mood for hard-boiled crime fiction!

nameless-detective

The History of “How It Ends”: Part 5 – The Decision to Self-Publish

HIE_Serial_Omnibus_Cover

In Part 1 of the History of How It EndsI talked about where the idea for the novel came from.

In Part 2 of the History of How It EndsI talked about what drove the writing forward and the genesis of some of the character names.

In Part 3 of the History of How It EndsI talked about the onerous task of editing the beast.

In Part 4 of the History of How It Ends, I talked about how I procrastinated about which direction I should go in trying to get the novel published.

It was a long a difficult decision to self-publish How It Ends on my own.  I found myself so terrified of making a mistake when I published it that I didn’t do anything at all. If I had to describe this, I’d called it “self-publication constipation”. I felt like the quality of the publishing would be a direct reflection on the book, and eventually on me, and if I produced something that was total crap, then I’d never get a second look by anybody.

So I decided to test the waters a bit. I took a short story (like, really short. Like fourteen pages short.) and put it on Amazon. I created a cover in an old version of PhotoShop and packaged the whole thing up. I posted it online. That was when I hit the first reality check. Price point.

For fourteen pages, I wanted to charge a quarter. After all, it’s only fourteen pages, and it’s the kind of material that doesn’t appeal to everyone, sort of a slasher short, so I had planned to charge twenty-five cents. I was a little dismayed to find out that I couldn’t. The best I could to was to charge $.99 for the story. I couldn’t go lower than that. Already, out of the gate, I was running into trouble. But I had to continue with this first effort. I had to get a sense of how it all worked, because I figured once I pulled the trigger, I was stuck.

519FXNQgakLI finally got the short story, The Girl In The Red Hoodie, published. It was a pretty proud moment. I’d finally really put my writing self out there. I was ready to go forth and conquer with How It Ends.

Except I wasn’t.

I spent the next year hemming and hawing. Like my editing, I found excuses not to sit down and go through the process of publishing How It Ends. I couldn’t afford a cover image (you can get two images on stockphoto websites for about $20), I didn’t have a final edited version (all I was doing was moving words around at this point, shuffling between thirteen different ways to say “love”), I wanted an agent (I sent out zero submissions to agents during this time frame). Lots of excuses, none of them good.

I reached back out to Paul, asking him if he’d be willing to print How It Ends, while I retained digital ownership. His answer, rightfully so, was no. Why would he waste money on a print edition when he couldn’t get any decent sales on them without having the digital edition as well? Print had become a loss leader for him, as I expect it will become for many small indie publishers in the near future.

I waited some more.

91qqolPllyL__SL1500_I don’t remember exactly when I made the decision to finally publish it, but I do know it was related to my discovery of Hugh Howey. Hugh Howey, for those who don’t know the name, made a name for himself serializing his now best selling Wool series. The series didn’t start as a series, but rather as a long short story. After having two books published by small presses, he decided to put the first story in the Wool series on Amazon himself. A few months later, there was a clamor for more. He began writing more and suddenly he had a phenomenon on his hands. And that was the point where I said “A-ha! I’ll serialize it!”. I’ve written before about how Hugh Howey is to blame for the reason I serialized How It Ends.

Before jumping forward, I ran the idea past my friend Russell. He’d been my editor for How It Ends and a sounding board for some of my ideas for years. His first question was whether I thought there were logical breaks in the story. I told him I thought there were and explained where each one would be. He considered this and replied that the breaks I had in mind would work pretty well. And, of course, since I was embarking on this self-publishing trek before he was, he was dying to know how it went.

I broke How It Ends into four distinct parts, each where I thought the most logical break would be. I reached out to Paul to let him know what I had decided. He congratulated me on the bold move and praised the decision. Turns out he had started to steer a lot of writers toward self-publishing as well, given that this seemed to be the direction the wind was blowing.

So here I was, self-publishing How It Ends, as a serial, yet again. I revved up the ol’ self-motivation engine, striped part one of How It Ends out of the main work, slapped a cover on that bad boy, and clicked Publish. Scariest damn thing I’d done all year…

Tomorrow: The mechanics of self-publishing.

“How It Ends: Part 3 – The Transformation” Is Now Available

HIE_Serial_Part_Three_Cover

Now available, How It Ends: Part 3 – the Transformation!

Buy now, and find out what at least ten other people have discovered! Some have even liked it (thanks Mom!)

In all seriousness, Part 3 of my serial novel How It Ends is now available for Kindle. Check it out via the link above. And if you’re just coming to the party, Parts 1 and 2 are also available via Amazon. Click the pictures below to reach then on Amazon.

Plus, starting tomorrow and running through Monday, January 20th, Part 1 will a free ebook. Take How It Ends for a test drive and find out what ten other people have discovered!

HIE_Serial_Part_One_Cover HIE_Serial_Part_Two_Cover

Sneak Peek at Tomorrow’s Release

Tomorrow marks the release date of Part Two of my serial novel, “How It Ends”. Subtitled The Plan, it follows the continuing story of Sidney, the university professor who remains shaken after his encounter with Eric; Brian, Sidney’s colleague who is planning to exploit his work relationship with Sidney and personal relationship with Anita to advance his career; Eric, the ruthlessly ambitious corporate executive who is making “arrangements” to deal with a blackmailer; Anita, the brilliant beautiful college student who is trying not to be swept away by the whirlwind around here; and Gammons, Eric’s personal robotic assistant who appears to be falling in love.

You can jump into “How It Ends” risk-free starting tomorrow. I’m dropping the price of Part One, The Evaluation. If you log onto Amazon tomorrow, you’ll find the price of Part One a very reasonable $0.00. But hurry! Amazon sets a limit on the length of time I can drop the price of the book. It will only be free from tomorrow through Veterans Day.

As promised in the title of this post, here’s a sneak peek at the cover of Part Two.

HIE_Serial_Part_Two_Cover

Coming Next Week To Amazon…Me!

About two months ago I published part one, “The Evaluation”, of my serial novel How It Ends as an ebook for Kindle.

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If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find it here.

Next week, part two “The Plan”, will available for purchase, also an ebook, also on Amazon.

If you haven’t purchased it yet, I’ll drop a little spoiler for you right now: part one is going on promo when part two becomes available, with an unbeatable price of $0.00. But it will only be on promo for 5 days, so set yourself a reminder!