Freebies!

So, there’s a couple of things I’m giving away on my mailing list and the new mailing list we’ve set up for the Indie Author Group.  If you sign up for the newsletter you’ll get….

FIVE different coloured todo lists – they are effectively the same todo list, just coloured differently so you can print them based on mood etc.

AND

A huge editorial calendar resource with a massive 7 different tabs to help you plan books, KDP select periods and more!

You can sign up at the Indie Author Group mailing list.

I’ll be back later this week to talk about why editorial calendars and to-do lists are so important, and start up the posts again now that I’m settled in work and feeling a lot better (I’ve been quite under the weather lately).

Thanks guys and gals!

contract word on business folder showing trade or financial concept

Why I turned down a contract with an advance, and why you might want to think twice too

Very long title I know.

Right.  Here’s the ground rules for this post.  I WILL NOT tell people what press this is.  I talked with people to come to the conclusion I did, but I am withholding one reason.  I won’t talk money, nor what the contract specifics were.  If you ask, I’ll politely decline to answer, and if you state as fact that it was ‘x press’ I will not approve your comment.  I don’t normally put this sort of rule on my comments, but it’s important to say this up front because it’s not where I want the focus of this to be.

That said…

Four months ago, I finished a sci-fi collection that an editor friend of mine had said she wanted to see.  I trusted that she worked with a good press, but told her that while they were considering it, I would be doing my research, and wasn’t committing to signing with them. She said that was fine and I thought nothing more of it.  To be honest, it’s a three part story, and I didn’t really think that it was worth worrying about.  And then I started in my new job and forgot about it entirely.

Last month, editor friend wrote back and said ‘I’ve left that press, but they wanted your book before I left, here’s your new contact’.  Editor friend wasn’t specific about why she left, but I know she’s married and planning her own family, so to be honest, I didn’t think much about it.  We chatted about other stuff and then I got in touch with the new editor.

The new editor offered me a contract on the spot, four days after my email.  Contract included a modest advance covering the three books and some notes about the stuff they really felt needed addressed, and that we’d be looking at during edits.

contract word on business folder showing trade or financial conceptAll good, right?

All of this is great, right?  Major ego boost to be offered a contract on the spot, and it’d let me release the books without needing to find editing/cover art (which isn’t as difficult) and doing my own formatting.  But alarm bells had already started ringing.
Two other people I knew in passing had left the same press.  One author was trying to buy themselves out of their contract (which, on it’s own gives me the screaming willies to be fair), and another friend was lamenting the fact that her books were constantly unavailable on Amazon because her press wasn’t keeping them in stock.  The one link?  Same press, or imprint of press.

Digging deeper…

Digging deeper there were some grumbles about the press but nothing serious.  There were no warnings at Preditors and Editors.  But the press was going downhill.   Sales were dropping on all of their books, and the authors leaving were talking about delays on the last couple of royalty statements, and while they’d been treated well,  things weren’t looking good.

Something just wasn’t sitting right with me.  Even with the advance, it didn’t seem like a safe bet (not to mention, I would be quite concerned about taking an advance if they hadn’t paid royalties to others).

So, I turned down the contract

One of the major lessons I learned from all of this is that even contracts that look good on the surface, even from apparently reputable presses, in this day and age, you need to be careful.  I feel really bad turning them down, but given the mix of my friend leaving, other writers taking their back lists and not subbing new books, and royalties starting to fall by the wayside.

Remember when I said at the start that I wouldn’t name the press – there is another reason for it.  All of the authors are already aware of what’s going on and are talking about it on various forums.  I don’t need to add my non-signed up noise to that.  I’ve got no right to muddy the waters, and I might have the wrong end of the stick.  It could just be turnover.

What do you guys think?  Am I overreacting?  Are a couple of blips something that shouldn’t matter?  Or do you think I made the right choice?

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A word from our sponsor – daily writing support with Writer’s Almanac

One of the major things I’ve been working on setting up,  since before the new dream job (which I’m going to blog about at some point soon!) was a daily marketing support project for those that don’t know where to start with writing, and need guidance that involves all of the minutiae they can get.  So I wrote 12×12 Marketing tutorials.

So, I wrote Writer’s Almanac, but after I finished it, it just didn’t seem quite enough.  For a start, there was no accountability, and no way to get in touch about the stuff people were stuck on, and that really defeated the purpose of writing a daily book of promotional activities for anyone that was struggling with writing…
So, I redesigned it from the ground up.  It’s now ready to go on July 1st.  It’s no longer a book, but something else entirely, and is a lot easier to access and has been streamlined to take all of the pain out of marketing, and give you an idea, every day of where your attention should be.  It’s also now been updated to include what I’ve learned about some of my most successful Facebook campaigns, and how to use Facebook to your advantage – until the algorithms change at least, at which point I’ll work something else out.

It’s not a get lots of followers, sell squillions of books, make millions of pounds project – in fact, realistically, all I’m giving you are the tools to make sure your marketing efforts are spot on and designed to give you a clear idea of what you should be doing *daily* to make your business work for you, marketing wise.
I’ll explain how to do it all free of course (bar your time) but I will also recommend tools that speed up automation etc.  All in the name of making sure marketing isn’t as difficult for you as it could be.

If this sounds something like you’d like to get in on, please drop me a line to kaiberworks at gmail.com with ‘I’m In’ in the subject line.  It’s $20 till Saturday morning, $24 from then until the last week in June, then will finally settle on $36 and stay there as a yearly subscription.  Sign up before Saturday and I’ll also send you a free copy of 12×12.

The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky Guest Post

Daughter3DThe Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack has launched! (I reviewed it yesterday, here).
This fabulous title is available now on all online retailers and in your local book stores. You aren’t going to want to miss this new literary journey exploring the clash between reason and faith, and the power of hope and love.

The Book

After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light—two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.

Summary: A mysterious nine-year-old from the Blessed Lands sails into the lives of a couple in the Republic, claiming to be the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. Is she a troubled child longing to return home, or a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of the Republic? The answer will change the lives of all she meets… and perhaps their world as well.

Author: David Litwack
Genre: Fantasy/Speculative Literary Fiction
Publisher: Evolved Publishing

Amazon B&N

Guest Post – The Greatest Thing I Learned in School

In the seventh grade, I began a six year college preparatory school, the elite school in the city and accessible only via an entrance exam. Ninety-nine percent of its graduates went on to college, many to Ivy League schools. But only one in three graduated.
I felt pretty confident. I had a good education to date and all the skills to succeed. But I had never read for pleasure.
The kids in this school were very competitive—what we used to call “grade grubbers”—even at such a young age. On the first day of English class, our teacher, Dr. McNamara, hit us with a stern warning. We were all failing and would get an ‘F.’ No studying would help, no exam would change it. There was only one way we could improve our grade.
Dr. McNamara was a bear of a man, with a big round face, jowls and the almost expected wire-rimmed bifocals. He glared at us through them and drew us all to the edge of our seat.
“For each book you read,” he said, “I will raise you one grade. If you read five books in the term, you will get an ‘A.’”
Our marking term was one month long. I suspect none of us read that much in six months. But then, like a magic salve to the wound, he handed out “the list.” The list consisted of about three hundred wonderful books, and not the stodgy classics, all of them books to delight the young.
That year I read the complete works of Sherlock Holmes and wanted to be a detective. I read The Saga of Andy Burnett and dreamed of running off to become a mountain man. I read The Lord of the Rings and pictured myself as the ranger, Strider, and someday, if I was worthy, king of the men of Numenor.
I was twelve years old.
Of course I never become any of these, but I’d been given the lifelong gift of reading and have never stopped.
The most important thing I learned? Through books, I could experience other worlds, be in the minds of other people. And though fiction may never translate directly to reality, I learned something even more important—the power of possibility.
David Litwack, author of There Comes a Prophet, Along the Watchtower, and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky
www.davidlitwack.com

The Giveaway

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The Tour

Follow along at Novel Publicity Events

Review: The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack

Daughter3DThe Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack has launched! This fabulous title is available now on all online retailers and in your local book stores. You aren’t going to want to miss this new literary journey exploring the clash between reason and faith, and the power of hope and love.

The Book

After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light—two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.

Summary: A mysterious nine-year-old from the Blessed Lands sails into the lives of a couple in the Republic, claiming to be the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. Is she a troubled child longing to return home, or a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of the Republic? The answer will change the lives of all she meets… and perhaps their world as well.

Author: David Litwack
Genre: Fantasy/Speculative Literary Fiction
Publisher: Evolved Publishing

Amazon B&N

My Review

This was one of my favorite books so far of 2014 – it sucked me in from the outset.  I absolutely adored the relationships, the characterisation and the deeper themes and tropes, but I’m not going to talk about that.  Instead, I’m just going to recommend that you go, now and read it.

Familiar in a deja-vu kind of way, the storyline was well paced, though in places a bit bogged down and overly dreamy and vague (which actually felt like it lent it self even more to the feeling of unreality and connected disconnect (by which I mean you can’t help but feel you’ve been here, you’ve done this, but you’re reading it for the first time, so you’re just experiencing it as you read – you’re completely immersed, but there’s a part of you that’s aware enough to know that this is a story that you know, deep down).

Kailani, the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky and namesake of the book is an excellent character, but I especially felt for Helena, and enjoyed watching her story arc develop.  There’s narrative consequence and strong story control in their story, and a rightness that makes the book perfect for me.  I’ll read this one again, but I have found a new favorite author.

 RATING: ***** (Five exuberant stars!)

I received a copy of this book as part of my commitment to support authors on the Novel Publicity Tours.
I have provided an honest review in line with their policies.

 

The Giveaway

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The Tour

Follow along at Novel Publicity Events

Z for ZZZZZ….. #AtoZchallenge

I need a lot of sleep after this month.
I’ve started a new job, I’ve started a new project, I’ve approved edits and have sent books out for proofing, I’ve done lots of other things.  I’ve also let go of a lot of things I just can’t sustain.  I’ve collapsed projects, I’ve cut down on client work, and I’ve put myself, my family and my new job to the forefront of my mind.

So I thought I’d share where I’ve been for my AtoZ and give you the full circle of what I’ve done.

And then I’ll go sleep!

Wilderness Apocalypse – AtoZ Challenge (Shared) – 17/25 posts.
Alexandria Publishing Group (shared), What is a name (introductions in the alphabet)
And Author Interrupted

 

Y is for Yes

So, I’m working on the most important things right now.  But I’m saying ‘yes’ to a couple of things.

Yes is for ‘yes, I’m writing’.  Y is for ‘Yes, I finished CampNanowrimo’.

And Yes is for there will be regular content on my blog from now on, more than once a week, more on the important stuff and more and more about my books.  I’ve also changed direction just slightly, so Y is for yesterday, and leaving it behind.

Today though, I started a new story over on Wilderness Apocalypse, bringing my total started stories to 3.  I’ll do a summary tomorrow!

X for Xciting changes (yeah, I’m cheating)

So, now that I’m in amazing new job of doom(tm), I’ve decided that I’m going to start doing two things again.  Well… three actually.  One is painting minis and models and scenery and dioramas and *stuff*.  I really miss that hobby aspect of my life and I’m kinda glad I’m getting to do it again.

The second is knitting.  I really miss being able to knit, and that’s something I can change.

And most importantly….I’m going to get on with writing stuff and more importantly than that, releasing it all instead of sitting on it.  Mantic Games has a publishing arm, so I might write for them, but I want to get my own life sorted out and doing the stuff that makes me happy.  So there it is.  I’ll start sharing and showing off in the next few days, along with some of the other ‘fun’ projects I can now get away with doing.

Today’s was another short one, I know, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a half of a short story that I’m publishing in it’s entirety in one day between here and Wilderness Apocalypse called ‘Yesterday’.

TWF Giveaway

W for A winning read #TouchedwithFire #Review

TWF Giveaway

Welcome to the REVIEW EVENT for Chris Datta’s Historical Fiction Novel Touched with Fire! We have a great giveaway at the bottom of the post and hope you enjoy hearing about this fabulous book. But first, the details:

Tight3DduckyEllen Craft is property

In this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father:” the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale—indeed, lily-white—skin.

Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run North. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey—South again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

Author: Christopher Datta

Genre: Historical/Women’s/African American Fiction

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Review:

starstarstarstarhalfstar

I don’t read a lot of books outside of my favourite genres, so when I picked this book up, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I read and was sucked into very quickly was a well written, well researched, thoroughly compelling book.

As far as I could tell, it was authentic and interesting – I didn’t read anything that jarred me out of the story in a bad way, but did give me a lot of things to think about and look at out of sheer interest.

Ellen was a slave girl begotten of rape.  Fair skinned and dark haired, she was the companion of her father’s daughter, and fits in neither the world of the slaves, or of the main house.  Isolated and unhappy, she tries to keep herself apart of everyone.  And then, her life changes.

Examining everything from skin colour to gender (as she travels as a man for a time), this book is interesting, and as I said compelling.

Given the other books from this time I’ve read were Beloved (Toni Morrison) and Winesburg, Ohio (Sherwood Anderson), I did feel the book compared to them for accuracy and engagement.  There was a level of profanity that was unexpected, but I did still feel that was appropriate.  All in all, I can’t recommend this book enough – the only complaint I had was that in some places it did feel a bit like we were being educated on the time, over and over, when I’d have been happier just getting right into the story.  That may not be a fair criticism though, as I don’t know the genre as well as others.

I rate it four and a half stars.

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Review Event Schedule:

Date Blog
21-Apr My Devotional Thoughts
21-Apr Deal Sharing Aunt
22-Apr Jelly Side Up – Promo Only
22-Apr Our Wolves Den
23-Apr rubina ramesh
23-Apr The Mama Games
24-Apr My Writer’s Cramp
24-Apr The World As I See It
25-Apr I am indeed
25-Apr Rachel Delane
26-Apr Rick And Eileen Bremner
26-Apr Author Interrupted
27-Apr Anna Tan
27-Apr Pete Waugh
28-Apr Alexa B
28-Apr Michelle Willms

About the Author:

Born inChris1 Washington, DC Chris Datta, Foreign Service officer, has been on numerous battlefields for his job and country. He has seen mass graves, brought war criminals to justice and in this new chapter, Datta brings readers a stunning historical account of the American Civil War with Touched with Fire. His attention to detail is superb, and his experiences abroad have given him ample stories to tell for years to come.

His action packed life has taken him across the world from the United States to Liberia and Southern Sudan. Not only serving in active war zones but often battling tropical diseases, Datta has nurtured his fascination with civil conflict by diving into the history books and historical records of America’s past. His research is meticulous, and his attention to detail creates vivid pictures of the past.

Follow Chris on his website for updates about new releases and upcoming events: http://touchedwithfire.org

MTC-FullLogo-3

V is for VERY very excited #AtoZchallenge

So, I’ve been sat on some big news for the last week and a half until we got to announce it formally.  In short, I’m one of three new community managers (specialising in the online stuff) for Mantic Games!!!MTC-FullLogo-3

As many of you know, I’ve been looking for a new job.  And I’ve looked high and low, and discovered that actually, the things  I’d really like to do aren’t so far from what I already do.
And then, in February, I went up to Nottingham to talk to a bunch of really wonderful people, with a company called ‘Mantic Games‘.  And y’know, I thought ‘that’s my dream job, got a new target to aim for in five years’.  Well, five years happened in the course of two and a half months I guess, because after things had moved on and I’d given in a little ever hearing back from them, I got a lovely email inviting me to a Skype chat.  Then another in person chat.

That other in person chat was a week ago on Wednesday, and I met a lovely guy who lives quite locally, we discovered we’d both landed the job, and the rest, I guess is going to be the history of how we took a lovely little gaming company and will make it one of the most talked about companies online, for all the right reasons.

And, as a bonus, I actually get to start talking about gaming, painting models more and actually *feel* happier and more secure.

It also means that my writing career should be a tad easier to manage.  I’ve never done well with ‘full time writer’.  There’s just not enough stimulation for me, and it totally doesn’t clash with Nanowrimo commitments either.

So, for my tabletop gaming buddies out there, check out Mantic Games.  Stop by and say hiya on Facebook and the blog (though I don’t write content there for now) all of the other wonderful venues and places I’m going to set us up and maintain and tell me where you’d like ME to be to talk to about the wonder that is Abyssal dwarves and Dreadball and Deadzone and some really nice sci-fi scenery.  And of course, I get to talk to people *as a job* and geek out.  Holy hell, very lucky indeed ;)