The morning after

After weeks of prepping for the launch of my latest book, I have to admit to always having a bit of a launch hangover the day after. After watching for sales all day yesterday, I feel a little let down. I had high hopes but, as usual, they were a bit too high for the first day. Of course, we all want our babies to go out into the world and be received with open arms. I was very pleased that one of the blog visitors who had asked for a review copy was able to post a very kind review. However, day 1 sales were… mediocre to say the least; 3 copies sold. :-/ It’s times like these I have to remember the advice I give to others: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Time to shake off the post-launch excitement hangover and move on to the next book.

So, what did I learn this time around? Pre-orders aren’t for me. At least not yet. I used the pre-order feature this time and got none. This could be attributed to the fact that this is my first official YA book. I don’t exactly have a lot of readers under my belt as far as that goes. No one was waiting with bated breath for this book. šŸ˜‰ Maybe I’ll use it again, but I saw no benefit this time around.

On an up note, someone (meaning, some blog or freebie notification service) must’ve picked up my suspense/thriller (Multiples of Six by Andy Rane) yesterday because I’ve given away over 450 copies already and todayĀ is my BookBub ad! Woot!

9-2-2014-Rank-0840

 

Now, if only that said “Paid” instead of “Free.” šŸ˜€

Some Thoughts on Goodreads Giveaways

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_PrintEdition (1)Ā vsĀ bookcover_divisibleBySix_6x9withBleed_25percent

At the moment, I’ve got two giveaways going on over at Goodreads. One for my suspense/thriller, Divisible by Six. the other for my recently released YA fantasy, Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon. I’ve run giveaways in the past, but never two at the same time. The results are interesting so far.

Now, it might not be fair to compare these two giveaways as they are vastly different books, but the information might be useful for someone planning to do one in the near future. If you read the information that Goodreads provides, they suggeest focusing your target audience, running the giveaway for as long as possible, and giving away as many books as you can. So, when I set up the giveaway for Divisible, I followed these rules. That giveaway runs from July 24th to October 7th; almost 2.5 months. I’m giving away 10 signed copies. Almost five weeks into the giveaway, as of this writing, ~70 people have added the book to their “to-read” list and 178 have entered to win a copy.

Recently, I read a very interesting article over at Catherine, Caffeinated that tossed all of the ideas of what was right and what was wrong on its head. Essentially, she says to do the exact opposite of what Goodreads tells you. Make the giveaway short, give away a few copies, and make it available to readers across the globe. I was intrigued by the ideas and the timing couldn’t have been better. I wanted to give away some copies of Danny Dirks to get the name out there.

So, the giveaway for Danny Dirks began on August 24th and runs until September 7; two weeks. I made the book available to all members of Goodreads, no matter the country. I’m giving away 5 signed copies. Five days in, as of this writing, 169 people have added the book and 356 people have requested a copy.

What does this prove? Well, it could be nothing, really. To compare a YA fantasy to adult suspense/thriller isn’t even like apples to oranges. More like rutabagas and kumquats… šŸ˜€ Anyway, I think the point is that, by shortening your window and widening your audience, you might have a better chance at getting exposure. The two most popular times for a book to be added during a Goodreads giveaway are when it’s on the “Recently Listed” list and the “Ending Soon” list. So, the closer you can get those two dates together, the better off you might be. Not sure if there’s a magic number, but 14 days seems to be working out quite well.

If the point of the giveaway is to get your book’s name in front of the most people, this method might be the way to go. Now the true test might be the reviews gained per book given away, but that’s for another day. Hope this little bit of data is helpful.

Have you run a giveaway recently? Any advice to share? Leave comment and thanks for stopping by. šŸ™‚

Need book swag on the cheap? Wait for a coupon.

Vistaprint

Always wanted a banner with your book cover on it for those shows you do at the local library or independent bookstore? Maybe you wanted postcards, or a brochure, or something fun like a handle bag or custom pen? That stuff can be expensive, but if you use the Groupon going on right now for Vistaprint, you can get $70 worth of stuff for just $27.

I’ve used this method in the past for getting book swag. Banners, magnets, bags, pens, etc. My only disappointment is that they don’t do bookmarks. However, I’ve heard of folks making postcards and cutting them in half. As an independent author, it’s important to budget your marketing spend accordingly, and you can get quite a decent amount of stuffĀ for $70. This one looks like it’s only for a limited time, and it can be regional, but it’s something I definitely recommend you keep an eye out for. I know Groupon is a goodĀ source for these coupons, but Living Social can also have them and if you’re looking to make a big swag purchase (t-shirts!), it can put a major dent in your bill.

Know of any good deals on book swag? Or have you done this yourself? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading! šŸ˜€

Paperback cover reveal: Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon

Two weeks ago, I revealed the cover for Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon. Today, I get to show off the paperback version. I really can’t wait to see how this turns out from Createspace. I’m going with cream paper for the interior and trying out the matte finish on the cover for the first time. I’m really hoping that the details don’t wash out on the matte. I don’t think a glossy cover would do this justice.

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_PrintEdition (1)

 

Hope you like it. I think Jason (jasongurley.com) did a phenomenal job.

Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. It launches September 1st. The ebook is just $2.99. The paperback will list for $10.49, which isn’t too bad. It was honestly the lowest I could go without having to pay them every time someone bought a copy!Ā šŸ˜‰

Me? On TV? Sure, why not? Take 3!

So, in my continuing effort to document a local TV show I’m involved in, I present the latest installment. Roll ’em!

We filmed this week and it was everything I expected it to be! Well, ok. That’s a total lie. I had no idea what to expect and when it was over, it was nothing like what I had imagined.

So, Princeton Community Television is just like every other local TV station. It’s run out of some municipal building’s basement. I walked in at my prescribed time to find some of my writer’s group friends along with some folks I didn’t know. We were all there to talk on different topics. I was scheduled to talk about Kindle Direct Publishing. Friends of mine were there to talk about NaNoWriMo. Another lady was there to talk about anthologies. You get the picture. Trick was, they were all there… and it was well beyond the time they were supposed to start. Needless to say, I had a wait ahead of me.

It was an entertaining wait though. I met a few more people. A traditionally published author who had once worked for Plume as their Art Director. She was there to discuss cover art creation. Another guest was a therapist who worked specifically with authors and writers (I should have gotten her card). We all chatted and talked about what we did, waiting through the technical difficulties the filming had experienced early on. I even got makeup. Being a pasty pale redhead, I was afraid I’d just wash out on camera.

Mind you, I wasn’t particularly nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve sat in front of a camera, but I did musicals back in college and high school, so I’ve stood in the spotlight before. However, there was the added pressure of filming live to tape. This meant that they were going to shoot the entire segment in one shot and, if someone screwed up badly enough, they’d have to reshoot the entire thing. Meh! No pressure, right? Just chat for five minutes without screwing up too badly. šŸ˜‰

Finally, about an hour and fifteen minutes after my scheduled time, I was called in. I sat down at a high table across from the co-hosts, Keith and Jennifer. Keith and I had met previously, both through the writer’s group we belong to and during the lead-up to the show. He’s also a self-published writer with several dystopian suspense novels under his belt. It was nice to see a familiar face across the table and, to be honest, he looked a little more nervous than I felt. I was only their 4th interview and this was the first night of filming. We had a little chat to break the ice and chuckled over wearing makeup. The setting was very basic. We had a monitor behind us with the name of the show on it; Writers2Writers. There were three cameras, but nothing like the cameras you see in movies and such. These were remotely controlled and looked a bit like fence posts! They gave me a clip-on microphone and I was ready to go before I could even think about what I was going to say. They did a fiveĀ count and we were off.

Now, if you know even a little bit about self publishing, you know that it’s a myriad topic. As I mentioned before, the topic for my segment was Kindle Direct Publishing. We had 5 minutes. So, yeah… you can image how detailed it got. It was essentially over before I knew it. And that was it. A half dozen questions on the fly and it was over. One take. Boom. Done. Next!

It was fun. It was quick and dirty and we probably made some mistakes. But, it was still fun. I’m hoping to be able to help them market the series as I think it’ll be a helpful guide for people just starting out with self publishing. The small segments might justĀ give you enough confidence to move forward in a particular area. The series is supposed to be 10 to 11 episodes long, with 3 to 5 segments per episode. It premiers in late September/early October. I’m looking forward to seeing the end result and sharing it with my fellow writers. Stay tuned!

I need a hug

With a new book about to launch, I should be riding pretty high right now. But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this low in my writing career.

So, you know how, when you’re writing your book, you get super paranoid that someone else has or will do it better than you? Yeah, we all get that. I’ve brushed it off in the past. I’ve seen similar books to mine, with similar plot points. Nothing enough to shake me. That is, until last night. It’s official. I’m shaken. Almost to a point of nausea, and I’m not normally that kind of guy.

For those of you who know, my upcoming YA fantasy, Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon, is about dragons living among us. There is an ancient pact between man and dragons threatened by rebel dragons. There is also a love interest between the main character and the girl who lives next door, who turns out to be a dragon. It’s also a twist on the Arthurian legend. Don’t worry, I’m not revealing anything I haven’t revealed in the blurb. It’s not an original concept, but I thought it had enough to separate it from a lot of the YA fantasy that was currently out there. Silly me.

Enter Talon, by New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa. Here is the blurb:


The series revolves around dragons with the ability to disguise themselves as humans and an order of warriors sworn to eradicate them. The dragons of TALON and the Order of St. George have been at war with each other for centuries. The fabled creatures, whose existence is unknown by the general public, are determined to rule the world. Their foes, a legendary society of dragon slayers, are equally bent on driving the fabled beasts into extinction. However, when a young dragon and a hardened slayer unknowingly befriend each other, it has severe repercussions for both organizations.

Yeah. It’s different, but damn it’s about as similar as I’d ever want to get to another book. Plus, she has a huge following, a 7-figure book deal, and to top it all off, THEY’RE ALREADY IN PRODUCTION ON THE MOVIE!

I know. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I can’t help but feel a bit sick. I sat on this book for four years before deciding to self publish. I wanted it to get the best treatment, which it has. And now, at the point I should feel most triumphant, I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. Maybe I have it completely wrong. Maybe my book will gain traction because of hers, especially if its theme is popular. Heck, maybe we’re setting a trend of dragons-among-us stories. I sure hope so. It’d make me feel a lot better than I do right now.

Danny Dirks and the Heir of PendragonĀ releases September 1st. Talon, by Julie Kagawa, releases October 28th.

This is why I self publish

Quill

I was having a conversation with writing colleague, Nisha Sharma, the other night. Nisha and I met through ourĀ writers group and I’m happy to say that, despite our publishing differences (traditional and self sometimes seems like Montague and Capulet, right?), we see writing and creativity in much the same light. It’s always fun to find a writer compatriot and I’m happy to call Nisha a friend. Her first novel, My So-Called Bollywood Life, will be published in 2016 (too far away!) and I’m positive more will follow. She’s got a lot of energy, a great way with language, and she’s writing in a vein that has the potential to explode. Be sure to check out her awesome website.

Now, where was I? So, we started discussing a YA fantasy project she’s been working on. A project, by the way, that’s made it into the top 10 finalists for Simon & Shuster’s SIMON451 imprint contest. Winners get an advance, a publishing contract, and a trip to ComicĀ Con in NYC for the launch of the imprint (as well as a seat on the panel). Cool, right? So, most of us would just be thrilled to say we were a finalist, right? Not Nisha. She’s worried about not winning. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about a sense of entitlement. It’s about self doubt and not believing that her work can stand up to the other contestants.

“It’s not fantasy enough.”

So, we started talking about her plot. It’s very cool, and I can see it doing very well. Young adult, strong female main character (MC), and mythology most Westerners are unfamiliar with. Yeah, it could be a gold mine. There’s plenty of fantasy elements, without the reader being beaten over the head with them. And, like a lot of storiesĀ of this ilk, it takes some time for the MC to discover what exactly is going on. An element of storytelling that I’ve used in my own YA fantasy.

Me: “So, when does the reader get their first taste of fantasy in the novel?”

Nisha: “Page 80.”

Me: “There’s not even a hint before that?”

Nisha: “Well, the prologue has gods and goddesses…”

Me: “But you just said there was nothing until page 80!”

Nisha: “And that thing (that’s totally fantastical and pretty darn awesome that I can’t reveal or she’d kill me) starts happening in chapter 1.”

Me: “Who told you this story wasn’t fantasy enough?”

Nisha: “Well, my agent. This book hasn’t sold anywhere. No one wants it. They don’t know what to do with it.”

**sighs**

In the end, a friend and I were able to talk Nisha down from the ledge. Yes, she could add some fantasy elements to make the story richer, but only if that was part of her vision. Otherwise, we felt that there was plenty of fantasy for aĀ YA fantasy novel. I said to her, “Honestly, if it doesn’t win, you should really consider self publishing it.” I’m not sure she took me seriously. She has, after all, already sold two of her books and has a steady relationship with her agent. And I’m sure that agent would try and quickly talk her down off of the self-publishing ledge.

In all, thisĀ reminded me of why I self publish. Yes, I may get good input from outside parties. Heck, it might be great input that totally shifts the story into high gear. But, in the end, it’s my decision whether or not to change the story and no one else’s. And, I can click publish and put it into the hands of readers without having a self-appointed gatekeeper tell me no one will read it. If the story is well written and error free, it will find an audience. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for what folks in traditional publishing are trying to accomplish. I believe that they are working to bring the best books to market, but the fact remains that good books will be held back by a preconceived notion about whether or not thatĀ book will make money. And that’s just a darn shame.

Important Kindle Request – A Letter from Amazon

Round-Two

If you’re a KDP author, you might have checked your email this morning and found a rather interesting letter from Kindle Direct Publishing. In it, there’s a brief history lesson on how paperback books were initially perceived by the publishing industry, an explanation of how traditional ebook pricing is hurting everyone involved, and a request to email bombĀ Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch. If you’re not a KDP author, you can readĀ the letter here:Ā http://www.readersunited.com/.

My first reaction was, wow… it’s come to this. While Hachette has rallied its authors against Amazon during this dispute, Amazon has kept things fairly low key. Yes, they’ve posted letters to public forums, but this is taking the battle to a whole new level. A call to arms, so to say, to its KDP authors. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m OKĀ with it.

We’re talking about a corporate battle between two giants and each side has, in turn, asked its minions to throw their weight into the mix. While HachetteĀ has aĀ cadre of well-known authors, Amazon must have contacted hundreds of thousands of authors with this single email. Even if only a percentage respond, you’re probably still looking at 10x the number of Hachette’s authors. But, what’s the point? Does Amazon really believe that overwhelming this poor schmuck’s email inbox with 100,000 letters from unknown authors will sway the tide? Or, is this just a symbolic gesture to say, “You say you’ve got author power? I’ll show you author power.”

In all, the letter leaves me with a bad taste. I hope the two sides can come to an agreement soon, as I’m losing my patience in the whole matter. I agree that low ebook pricing makes sense on many levels, but I don’t appreciate being made a pawn in a battle I’m not involved in.