Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Look Into eBook Distributors

Lovely day at the beach!

I've been doing a little research lately, mostly on how the self-publishing veterans are managing the business and operations aspect of their work. In today's post I wanted to focus on distribution platforms: who, why, and how it works.

First, let me start by noting that I had previously locked my novel, Violet Storm in the KDP Select program. Which meant that by electing into the program, my ebooks were exclusively sold by KDP/Amazon and no other ebook channel. After a little more research and several months into the program, I later found that experts did not recommend this (check this great article by HuffingtonPost). My own personal sales and the data itself made me reconsider my original strategy. I wanted my novel back in all the channels it was once in, plus a few others.

That led to more research. I wanted to know what other successful self-published and hybrid authors were doing to better achieve this goal. Enter the one-stop-shop platforms.

Let's look at two of the platforms I personally considered: Smashwords and Draft2Digital. What do they do, you ask? These platforms allow you to manage your online distribution channels in one location. No more logging individually into multiple sites like B&N, iTunes, Kobo, etc, one by one to check your sales and your royalty payments. Talk about painful. They do take a 10%-15% commission for their services but from what I've read by other authors, it's well worth the cost to have a one-stop service like this. As writers, we want to spend a majority of our time focusing on writing, followed by marketing, and then financial management.

What's also useful is that these platforms can give you data that may shape your marketing approach. Both of these platforms do the same thing. So how does one decide on which to move forward with? The answer is "user-friendliness." Smashwords has been around a long time. But the interface needed a lot of work to truly make the process "simple" for users. The idea was right but the apparently, the solution needed some refinement, as expressed by many frustrated users. Enter Draft2Digital, which has been gaining a lot of traction and positive feedback from authors.

Because our time is precious, and we shouldn't have to deal with the challenges of learning new systems that are supposed to make our lives easier, I decided to choose the platform that would achieve just that. Draft2Digital was just as advertised. Simple and easy to use. They pay out royalties on a monthly schedule, and offer a simple chart to track your sales. Within minutes, Violet Storm was loaded and sent off to five different ebook channels.

I hope this info has helped you in some way!

In Other News:

With the new distribution channels and the homework I've been doing to better write compelling blurbs and synopsis (a true weakness of mine), I decided to rework  Violet Storm's blurb. The original was fine, but who wants fine when one just needs a little practice to make it great?

Here is the updated version:

Aeva Storm is a sensible but maddeningly tenacious athlete with the grisly scars to prove it. On the night of her most riveting championship victory, a bolt of lightning rips from the sky, sealing her fate to becoming humanity’s newest kind of weapon. A Modi.  

Modi’s are humans reconstructed with synthetic parts, turning them into frighteningly invulnerable and striking creatures. The innovation was first used as a cure for a fatal disease within the City of Light. But the genius behind the invention has gone rogue with his experiments and the Monarchy is determined to shut him down. The cunning scientist forges ahead with his controversial operation, unleashing a new era for all mankind.  

Filled with political intrigue, unbreakable familial bonds, and evocative young love, VIOLET STORM is a gripping read that will challenge the way we think about our own human limitations.  

You can now (if not soon) find  Violet Storm in Kobo, Nook, iTunes/iBookstore, Page Foundry, and Scribd. Draft2Digital is working on securing a contract with Google to get it into GooglePlay! I can't wait!

The kittens send their love.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Burnout: It's Real

What I'm listening to on my podcast: Serial first released in Oct 2014, and has since been downloaded over 40 million times. It follows the case against Adnan Syed for the murder of popular high school senior, Hae Min Lee. Talk about gripping...

What I'm reading: Boy, does this book have punch! I find myself seriously enjoying it and learning a ton at the same time. Yay me! For those of you who want interesting material to help you become a better writer, check this book out! 

What movie I'm digging: Recommended by our friends, Kyle and I watched The Imitation Game this weekend, and wow. Just wow. The movie is about Alan Turing and how he cracked Enigma (the Nazi code) which everyone thought was unbreakable. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch was incredible. And no, that wasn't the only reason I watched it...

So now, to my original post. Burnout is real. It exists. And it happens. I'm learning the consequences of that really fast. Finishing two massive stories in one year, launching my second career as an author, has left me with an empty motivation tank. The feeling of wanting to silently retreat into some cabin far away from civilization has become a recurring a fantasy. 

The way I combat burnout is by pulling away from the things that add more anxiety and stress, like social media. I take vacation from work and stay home to recharge, scheduling less social activities, becoming a lazy bear, and really getting to a point where I am bored again. Multi-tasking is a norm in our society. Having two jobs isn't uncommon for those of us with a creative outlet that doesn't necessarily align with our day-to-day jobs. So I leave you with these words: Listen to that nagging feeling that you're uncomfortably tired. Stop and relax. And definitely listen to when you're elated and energetic and want to do the millions of things you want to and then do them! But also give yourself permission to take a step back when that feeling goes away. You're not in a race with anyone but yourself, and when that finish line comes it will feel no less greater than it would have, had you finished just a tad bit sooner. 

What do you do when you need to rest and recharge? 

Happy says "Hi!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ISWG! Caught You Just In Time

Phew! And I almost missed it again! This week's confession: Dear Blog, it's been two weeks since I last thought of you...

But alas, I am abuzz with energy to write my first post of the year for ISWG, hosted by the amazing Alex J. Cavanaugh. So...what to write, what to write. The post is on our insecurities and I have a few big ones. I just finished my novel, SNOW DOLLS over the break. And I couldn't be more proud. But there is so much more work left and it seems that it won't really ever end. There is research to be done on the agents I want to query, the query itself, the synopsis, and of course a few more rounds of editing before I even begin querying. I guess the insecurity is more or less just plain old fear for the mountain of work still ahead.

I'll approach it as I have all the other tasks: taking it one at a time. :)

Here's a portion of my query draft for those curious to learn more about SNOW DOLLS. Still a work-in-progress, more tweaking needed to tighten and strengthen it a bit. Any suggestions are more than welcome!
If the concept of Stepford Wives became a religion in another time and place, this is what it might look like.  
Illumera is an idyllic, prosperous utopia. A far cry from the slum it had once been before Emperor Sinmitar Blackwood took the throne almost seventy-five years ago. Sustained by their faith and traditions, Illumerians continue the practice of Purification to safeguard their wealth. To do so, every woman over the age of sixteen is purified, their future set upon two possible outcomes: to be transformed into a doll, a forever-happy servant of the Gods, or to be made into a surrogate, mother’s to the children of Illumera.

SNOW DOLLS follows the adventure of three young lives and the challenges of living in a world of dolls. Enna is seventeen and a stringless. In a moment of panic and fear, Enna takes the cowards way and fakes her Purification ceremony, stealing her doll-markings to complete her ruse. A year later and her lies are finally catching up to her. Seoryl is the General’s son. His fortune offers him the privilege of owning a very special doll, a Snow Doll--secret dolls that exist to please their masters in every way. But an unfortunate thing happens when he selects his future Snow Doll: he falls in love with her, presenting a problem that might expose the well-kept secret of the underworld lying quietly beneath Illumera. Prince Sin was named after his grandfather and is first in line to the throne. The kingdom is flourishing but even more so when he becomes emperor. He promises three dolls to every man. But will he still feel the same when a certain stringless unveils the darker side of Illumera’s precious tradition?

Did you have a good New Years? Big hugs to you all. Missed you guys! And the cats say hello too!

I think he knows he's a pretty cat. 

Happy found a squirrel!

Check out this mountain lion who was so chill! JK, it's not a mountain lion. Please don't go off in search of one thinking they will allow you take selfies... :)