Tag Archives: ebooks

Island of Glass now live!

I’m happy to announce the publication of my YA novella, Island of Glass! Until the middle of November, it is still available for the introductory price of only 99c, after which it will go up to $2.99.

Island of Glass

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.

Available on Amazon.

On splitting up a big book: Turning Yseult into episodes

As many of you following this blog know, I started my career as an indie author after I got the rights back to the original English of my novel Yseult, which was published in German as Flamme und Harfe by Random House Germany in 2009.

Flamme und Harfe, Ruth Nestvold

I published the English original in January 2012 on my own with this cover from the talented Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers:

Yseult, Ruth Nestvold

Since the original publisher of Yseult / Flamme und Harfe, Random House Germany, told me they were interested in a sequel (which they decided they were not interested in after all), when I published Yseult, I already had the next doorstopper waiting in the wings, Shadow of Stone, which I published in June of 2012.

That too sold quite well, and I began to imagine that I was on my way to a wonderful career as an indie author.

Halt.

Readers started wanting to know when the next “installment” would be available. Of books that were both close to 200,000 words, or over 500 pages long. Unfortunately, I don’t write fast enough to produce novels of that size every year, and I lost readers.

I started writing a prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles, Ygerna, hoping to make it free and attract more readers that way, but I soon noticed that the story of Arthur’s mother was too complicated for me to finish off in a couple ten thousand words, and it ended up on the back burner. I do have a free short story from the second novel available, Gawain and Ragnell, and that has helped my sales somewhat, giving potential readers a taste of the world of The Pendragon Chronicles. So I know for a fact that permafree can help your sales.

Then at some point I started noticing something new happening in ebook publishing: it seemed as if a lot of the most successful indie authors were publishing their ebooks in episodes or as serials, in chunks from between 50 to 200 pages. Like with a TV show, each episode might bring a single plot thread to a conclusion, but there was also often some kind of cliffhanger to make sure the reader came back for the next installment. An added advantage of the episode format is that the author can make the first “book” of the novel free in order to entice readers to give it a try.

Slowly an experiment started to take shape in my mind. I had these two Big Fat Fantasies, after all, together close to 400,000 words. But in the era of ebooks, when the reader can’t judge a book by how heavy it is in her hand, books seem to be getting shorter. And while the true short story has yet to make a comeback, readers appear to be increasingly accepting of novella-length books. (This is all totally subjective and unscientific, so don’t quote me on it.)

Anyway, as a result of these observations, I have decided to launch an experiment. I am going to take the four books of Yseult apart — which, btw, is how I organized the novel long before the advent of ebooks — and offer them separately. I will try to make the first book free on Amazon as quickly as possible. Here is the pricing structure I’m considering for the serial version:

Part I: FREE
Part II: 99c (my take, 30c)
Part III: 2.99 (my take $2)
Part IV: 2.99 (my take $2)

My goal is not to make more money than with the complete novel, although that is what would happen if readers were only to buy the individual parts. But when I do this, I do not intend to unpublish Yseult. That will still be available for 4.99 for anyone who is enjoying the series enough to want to buy the novel. Mostly I’m just hoping that with parts 1 & 2 at free and 99c respectively, a few more readers will try out the series.

So recently I’ve been working on a template for the covers of the individual episodes. I wanted to use the cover of Yseult as a basis, to make sure that no one bought any of the episodes thinking it was a new story in The Pendragon Chronicles. At the same time, the covers should be distinctive enough to stand out from each other. Given those considerations, here’s the template I came up with for the series:

Yseult template

And here’s my first attempt at a single title:

Yseult-Part-1

My thought is to use different colors beneath the “celtic fringe” *g* on the left / west side of the cover as a visual signal of the differences between the books. And now, as I write this, it occurs to me that the color for the first book, which takes place in Ireland / Eriu, should be a dark green rather than the dark purple I have now. *g*

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts / feedback you have in the comments below!

I might land flat on my face with this experiment, but I’m not out of much more than a couple days worth of work making the new covers, formatting the individual sections, and uploading them to the various venues. Wish me luck. 🙂 And do please let me know what you think!

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author

In my last post for beginning indie authors, I went into the reasons you might choose to publish your books through an aggregator who distributes them to various sales channels for you. In this post, I will take a look at three such sites in more detail, Smashwords, Draft2Digital and Xinxii.

Smashwords

When I first started experimenting with ebooks, the main options for marketing fiction were Smashwords and Amazon. Since I was a bit intimidated by all the programs needed to create an ePub file, and Smashwords had the added advantage of a very long and detailed manual on how to create a doc file that would pass the checks of their “Meatgrinder” (Smashwords term, not mine), I began my foray into indie publishing there with my previously published novella “Looking Through Lace.”

While as whole epublishing has gotten much easier since 2011, in my experience, the same cannot really be said for Smashwords. Smashwords nominally accepts ePub files, but since they are not eligible for Extended Distribution (everything outside of the Smashwords store itself), if you want to use Smashwords for distribution to multiple retailers, you have to format your manuscript as a DOC or DOCX file according to the Smashwords guidelines.

And those guidelines are over 100 pages long. So you can imagine that it takes a while to get a manuscript prepared for Smashwords, especially if you haven’t done it before.

Once I finally got my first attempt at an ebook approved for Expanded Distriubution through Smashwords (after a couple of tries), I used that file to create a template for future uploads. But even despite the template, I have often had to upload a file more than once. The Meatgrinder appears to be very sensitive.

Some details regarding my experience with Smashwords: The “Smashwords Style Guide” suggests copying and pasting the entire text of your document into Wordpad in order to strip the Word document of unnecessary coding. I find this much too time consuming, because it also takes out all italics (among other things), which then must be manually put back into the document. I have the advantage that I still do a lot of my writing in that old dinosaur Word Perfect, which doesn’t add as much junk formatting code. So in order to get a clean copy of the text without losing the formatting I still want, I convert my Word Perfect document to html and open the html file in a text editor. Using search and replace, I get rid of all the unnecessary formatting commands. Here I also change underlining to italics and replace the scene break I usually use (#) with the one preferred by Smashwords (* * *). Once the html file is cleaned up, I open it in my word processor, copy the text, and paste it into my template.

Royalty structure – From the Smashwords FAQs (http://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq): “For most retail distribution partners, Smashwords pays the author/publisher 60% of the suggested list price you set for your book. These rates vary by retailer for sales outside the US. Apple, Barnes & Noble and Diesel are 60% of retail price, though for Apple’s UK, France, Germany and Australian bookstores, Apple deducts a Value Added Tax (VAT) from your sales price, so your actual earnings share = 60% of (Retail price – VAT). Kobo is also 60% for books priced between $.99 and $12.99 for US and Canadian dollar-denominated sales. Sales in other currencies at Kobo are at 38% list. For the Baker & Taylor Axis360 library platform, libraries purchase a single copy at list price, for which the author/publisher earns 45% of list, and then the library is allowed to lend the book multiple times, but only allows one checkout at a time (patrons who want to check out a book that’s already checked out have option to purchase the book).” Books sold directly through Smashwords earn the author about 80% of the list price.

Channels distributed to – Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon (limited distribution), Apple, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor Blio, txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster, Scribd

Pros – The largest number of sales channels; the potential for sales through the Smashwords store itself; coupons for promotional purposes; easy to opt out of individual sales channels

Cons – Very stubborn Meatgrinder

Draft2Digital

D2D is a newer site for distributing ebooks to multiple retailers, and they don’t support as many channels as Smashwords. In my experience, however, they are much easier to use. In addition to DOC and DOCX files, they also accept EPUB files, which they will distribute directly to their retailers, as long as the file passes their ePub check. You can minimize the chance of your EPUB file being rejected by running it through EpubCheck yourself.

Since I always start with a correctly formatted EPUB for the sales channels I upload to directly, being able to also upload EPUB to D2D is a huge timesaver for me.

Another advantage of D2D is that they also distribute to CreateSpace for POD paperback books. Since formatting paperback is one of the more demanding chores of the indie writer (for me at least), this could be another helpful shortcut. I have only used the service through Draft2Digital once, however, for a collection of stories I wrote with Jay Lake, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars, because I wanted the royalties all in one place for me to make it easier to send Jay (and now his heirs) their share of the profits.

In order to generate the PDF for CreateSpace, D2D requires a DOC or DOCX file with a linked Table of Contents. I talk more about my experience creating a paperback through Draft2Digital here. Once I approved the PDF generated by D2D, I had to make the wraparound cover for the paperback, like so:

A disadvantage of publishing to CreateSpace through D2D is that you do not get a discount for author copies. You are not the publisher of the book, Draft2Digital is. So if being able to order discounted books directly from CreateSpace is important to you, you will have to create the PDF and upload to CreateSpace yourself.

Royalty structure – 60% of the book’s list price. From the D2D web site: “We only make money when you do. Our fee at most sales channels is approximately 10% of the retail price (it’s technically 15% of the net royalties). Everything else is up to you. You choose the book’s list price, you choose which sales channels you want to distribute through, and we’ll make it happen.”

Channels distributed to – iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Page Foundry, Scribd and CreateSpace. According to the web site, they are currently pursuing distribution agreements with Overdrive, Flipkart, Ingram, Omnilit, Tolino and Google Play.

Pros – Very easy uploads, no extra formatting needed, except for CreateSpace; the option to self-publish in paperback through CreateSpace

Cons – Not as many sales channels

Xinxii

Xinxii is primarily of interest to authors who want to get into European bookstores. Based in Berlin, Xinxii distributes to a number of important ebook retailers in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain, as well as offering distribution through Amazon and B&N. Since the level of English reading skills in Germany is quite high, there is definitely potential for sales of ebooks in English, as an excerpt from my Xinxii dashboard shows:

xinxii

As the screen shot also shows, however, authors do not make as high a percentage on their works through Xinxii as through other aggregators. On the other hand, they distribute to international markets difficult to reach any other way.

I found publishing to Xinxii quite easy. They accept EPUB format, as well as quite a few others; according to their web site “a Word document, a PowerPoint presentation, an Excel spreadsheet, an audiobook or a document created in PDF or ePUB.”

Royalty structure – Approximately 40% of the list price of your book. From the Xinxii site: “Please check the information page in the “My XinXii > Manage Uploads”-section for the specific royalties on sales transacted via XinXii distribution partners. Generally, we pass on up to 85% of the amount, that we receive from them, to the author.” Or, as Patricia clarified in the comments below, “You keep up to 85% of net revenue through our retail partners (= 50% of net price) and 70% of net price for sales through XinXii.” It appears that 50% of the net price is a little over 40% of the list price.

Channels distributed to – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Casa del Libro, iBookstore, Kobo / Fnac, o2, Sony Mobile, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Thalia, buch.de, buecher.de, donauland.at, otto-media.de, derclub.de, Flipkart, e-Sentral

Pros – Distributes to European and other markets hard to get into; accept a wide range of file formats

Cons – Low royalty rate compared to other platforms

Next week in this series I’ll talk a little about the costs of ebook publishing. If anyone wants to contribute something in the comments about their own experience with the kinds of investments they’ve had to make before being able to self-publish, I’d be happy to quote you and link to your site. 🙂

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors

Aggregators and sales channels

In my last blog post for beginning indie writers, I wrote about various ways to format your manuscript for ebook publishing and some of the more important sales channels where you might want to upload your books.

The sales channels I mentioned there, however, are only a few of the very many online bookstores that have started cropping up in the last few years, such as OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Page Foundry and more. Not to mention the genre specific eBook stores like All Romance.

The thing is, for every channel where you sell your books directly, you have to register, format your book(s) according to the store guidelines, and upload the file, cover, description, and whatever other information the site requires. That can be a lot of work for one measly sale a year. (I personally have never sold anything in most of the stores mentioned above.)

But if you don’t want to miss out on those possible sales, there is an alternative. A new business model that has sprung up since the beginning of the ebook revolution is what is now most often referred to as “aggregators” — an ebook publisher who will distribute your book to multiple ebook vendors, while you, the writer, only have to upload your book once, rather than registering at ten different sites and uploading your book individually to each one.

Some reasons for using an aggregator

Such a service naturally comes at a price, in this case, a percentage of what your book earns at the stores the aggregator distributes to. While Amazon, B&N and Kobo typically give the author 70% of the sales for books priced at $2.99 or higher, at the aggregators the return for the author is usually 60% or less. (By comparison, books under $2.99 on Amazon only earn the author 35%, and some aggregators make no distinction according to price, making the question of whether to use their services even more complicated …)

So assuming your book is priced at 2.99 or more, why would anyone want to allow a simple distributor to take a percentage off their profits?

1) Uploading directly is too much work for too little gain

As I implied in the first section of this post, where I described the service that aggregators provide, sometimes it just isn’t worth it in terms of time and effort to upload your books directly to every single store out there.

As an example: say you have a novel selling for 3.99. At 70% from a sale of the book (standard for Amazon at that price), your take is 2.79. At 60% from Smashwords, for example, it comes out to 2.39. If you sell one book a year each to Page Foundry and Oyster, you have handed over a total cut to the aggregator of 0.80 — and you have saved *at least* an hour’s worth of work, and probably much more — registering for and uploading to all those channels directly (since you had no idea where you might possibly make a sale). Of course, if you’re seeing hundreds of sales to these channels, it would be worth it to register and upload individually. But it is very easy to opt out of distribution on both Smashwords and Draft2Digital, if your sales on one of those channels start taking off.

2) You can’t get into the market otherwise (frex: iBooks)

As I mentioned in my last post about preparing your manuscript for various channels, some stores have high or even insurmountable hurdles for uploading your books there directly. The iBooks store only accepts files uploaded through iTunes Producer, which means you need a Mac running OS X 10.8 or higher (as of July 2014). As I do not use a Mac, I have to rely on an aggregator to get into the iTunes store. For authors with a greater sales volume, it might be worth it to buy a Mac in order to submit to the store directly. But when you calculate that you are handing over 0.40 to the aggregator for every sale of a book priced at 3.99, you would need to sell over 1000 copies of your ebooks on iTunes before breaking even on the purchase of a MacBook.

Another example of not being able to get into the market is Barnes&Noble. For a long time, only writers with a US address and bank account could publish directly to B&N. They have since expanded to the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Nonetheless, that still leaves many writers who have to rely on an aggregator in order to reach readers with a Nook.

3) You can’t be bothered

I do not mean this in a snarky way. Some writers would much rather be writing the next book instead of keeping track of a dozen sales channels. They have no problem giving up 10% of their profits to an aggregator, as long as they don’t have to worry about uploading new versions of their ebooks to every single ebook retailer, and would much rather stick with only Amazon and one or two aggregators. This is a completely valid choice and something to consider when you start publishing.

4) You want to make a book or story permafree for promotional purposes

Most ebook retailers will not allow you to set your price to free if you upload it directly. For some mysterious reason, though, this is possible when using aggregators. Thus, if you have a first book in a series or a short story in a fictional world that you want to make free, you will have to use an aggregator. (I have discussed some reasons why you might consider giving a book away for free elsewhere.)

In my next post, I will include more detailed info about the three aggregators I have worked with until now, Smashwords, Draft2Digital and Xinii.

Crossing things off the to-do list – and #WIPpet Wednesday

I was over on Goodreads the other day (something I don’t actually do very often, since the ratings system there tends to depress me), and I noticed that I had a personal message. It was a note from a reader, asking if there were any plans for Shadow of Stone to be published on any other platforms like Kobo? So I had to confess that I’d been intending to for some time, but just never got around to it.

I have to admit, one of the reasons I haven’t been publishing my books like a fiend on all platforms is because I hardly sell anything anywhere besides Amazon — a couple of books a month on B&N, and on Kobo even less, a rare book in the Apple store. But one reader wanting my book was enough of a push for me to finally get the epub put together and uploaded in those places and on Draft2Digital. I haven’t done Smashwords yet, though. They still discourage uploading Epub there, and formatting a doc file for SW always takes me way too long.

I don’t have any links yet, but I will share them when I do.

I also continue to make progress on the hard copy revisions of A Wasted Land. But since I’m working in hard copy now, for WIPpet Wednesday, I’m going to go back to almost the very beginning. If I were to take an excerpt from later in the story, I would have to resist the temptation to do some polishing before uploading it, for fear of making some changes that wouldn’t be in the paper copy I’m working on. (Does that make any sense to anyone but me?)

Anyway, for the third month of the year, I am going to give you three short paragraphs from the prologue of A Wasted Land:

Kustennin gazed after the retreating figures — Myrddin with the shuffling gait of an old man, Nimue and Taliesin carrying the litter.
Evening fog began to curl around their feet, teasing at hems and legs. Kustennin’s little sister Riona laughed in delight at the shifting shadows, chasing and dancing with them. He smiled at her antics, wishing he knew her better. But for most of her life, he had been at war.
When he glanced to the north again, he could barely see Arthur and his party in the swirling mist.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Yseult available used for only $999.11!

That’s right, you understood correctly: you can currently get my novel Yseult on Amazon used for under $1000!!! Since who knows how long this incredible deal will be available, I took a screen shot:

Yseult for under $1000!

I have no idea how this amazing inflation happened, but I’m assuming it has to do with someone’s price bots going stir crazy. At least it gave me quite a laugh last night. And as of today, the price is still there. So go ahead, see for yourself if you don’t believe me.*

Given those kinds of prices, the Smashwords “Read an E-Book Week” is even more of a deal!

Smashwords

On Smashwords this week, you can get 25% off the list price of Yseult with the coupon “REW25”. And you can get the same deal on Looking Through Lace. You can even get my short story collection Never Ever After FREE with the coupon “RW100”!

/End mini marketing blitz. 🙂

*Of course, as soon as I posted this, the price plummeted. *pout* Now you can get my novel for only $41.02. 😦

Chameleon in a Mirror now available for Kindle!

My big update of the week is that I finally managed to get another book published! I uploaded Chameleon in a Mirror to KDP yesterday, and today it is live!

I want to thank all my beta readers and critique partners over the years for all their help. Feedback is so essential! I may not always take the advice I get, but I do address problems — I might resolve them in a different way than is suggested in the critiques, though. 🙂

I also have a question for you all. The only “time travel” category on Amazon that I could find is in the romance genre. CIAM has a strong romance subplot, but it’s not HEA, which romance readers expect. On the other hand, The Time Traveler’s Wife is also listed in the same category, and that’s not HEA either. Do you guys think it’s a mistake for me to list it under romance? I’m a little afraid I will end up with negative reviews for not making Billie give up everything she’s ever known for the sake of a married man. What do you guys think?

For now, the book is only available on Amazon. I’m still considering entering it in KDP Select for a while and trying a Countdown Deal with it to get more exposure before I publish it elsewhere. (But not free. I don’t believe in free anymore, with the exception of permafree.) My sales on other platforms are pretty pathetic, though, so I wouldn’t be giving much up, if anything. Amazon is where I make most of my money. If you are an ereader owner, where to you buy your ebooks?

Also, if anyone would like a review copy, please let me know!

As to my other goals, they’ve largely been on hold while I was concentrating on getting this book out. I did, however, get another short story submitted to a traditional market. That’s three so far this round! Not what I was aiming for, but still. I also continue to make progress on the translation. Now that CIAM is published, I will have to do a big push on that.

This is like a stone off my chest, I have to admit. The book may sell squat, but it’s a big item I can cross off my to-do list, and it makes me feel so much better. 🙂

Hope everyone else is happy with their progress!

Announcing Gawain and Ragnell — and a request

I have a “new” short story in the Pendragon Chronicles series now available as ebook, Gawain and Ragnell.

To be honest, it’s been up on Amazon for almost a month, but I’ve put off announcing it for a couple of reasons.

1) It isn’t actually all that new, since it’s an expanded version of an episode from Shadow of Stone.

2) It took a while for it to get expanded distribution on Smashwords, so that it would be free on iTunes and B&N. Then, when I finally noticed that it was available, it was like a week before the Villa Diodati workshop I talked about in my last post, and I was just too busy reading and critiquing the stories to spend much time on blog posts.

But now it’s available. And I have a request, or rather, a couple. Back in the day when I included the episode in Shadow of Stone, I didn’t yet know that I would be getting out of traditional publishing. But I was a bit frustrated that Yseult still hadn’t sold in the original English, only in German, Dutch, and Italian. So even then I was intending to market the Gawain episode separately — by offering it to short story markets — in the hopes that someone in my native language would become interested in the series.

That didn’t happen. Once I published Shadow of Stone myself, Gawain and Ragnell was no longer a candidate for short story markets, since it was previously published.

But it’s still a self-contained story. And I’m hoping that it will still work to draw attention to my other Arthurian books. I’ve read numerous discussions on the KBoards and elsewhere about how effective having something “permafree” can be to entice readers to check out a series by an author they’re unfamiliar with. When progress on the prequel Ygerna didn’t go as quickly a I would have liked, I finally remembered that I actually had another stand-alone story in the world of the Pendragon Chronicles, and it wouldn’t take nearly as long to whip into shape and make into an ebook. It had been workshopped, it had been edited, it just had to be expanded a bit, quotes added, and a cover made.

And now I come to the request. In order for Gawain and Ragnell to work as an advertisement for The Pendaragon Chronicles, it has to be free. And in order for it to be free on Amazon, they have to notice that it’s free in other stores that they take seriously (which apparently doesn’t include Smashwords and Kobo). So if anyone would be inclined to help me out and tattle on me, I would really appreciate it! Here’s the link to Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FIU136M/

On that page, click on the link “tell us about a lower price,” click “Website,” then enter one of the following links and the price “0.00.”

B&N:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gawain-and-ragnell-ruth-nestvold/1117165424?ean=2940045328937

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/gawain-and-ragnell/id717956793?mt=11

The other request I have is to take a look at my blurb and tell me what you think:

Gawain was not only Arthur’s champion, he was the champion of the ladies as well. He loved many women, but none too much — until one of his lovers told him she intended to marry another man.

Now, a year later, he is running away from his disappointment, traveling north to fight against a mysterious warrior who has taken the hill-fort of the lady Ragnell.

But there is a mystery to Ragnell too, the beauty with the ravaged face. And Gawain learns he must solve both mysteries, that of the warrior and that of the lady …

Publisher’s note: Gawain and Ragnell is an expanded version of an episode in Shadow of Stone, so readers who have read the second novel of the Pendargon Chronicles will already be familiar with the story. The ebook includes an excerpt from the first book in the series, Yseult.

Gawain and Ragnell is a short story of approximately 17,000 words, or 65 pages.

And, of course, download it for free, if you are so inclined. 🙂

The 8 Hour Ebook Challenge: The Destruction of Ys

I allowed myself to get a little distracted from my to-do list the last couple of days. When I was reading some discussions on the KBoards on Monday, I learned about a challenge Joe Konrath had posted on his blog and that a lot of KBers were taking him up on. The basic idea is to write, format, create the cover, and publish an e-book in under eight hours.

It sounded tough, but not completely impossible, so I figured I’d give it a try. At first, I was playing with the idea of writing a short story in the world of the Pendragon Chronicles, but I noticed pretty quickly that if I went that route, I’d spend way too much time with brainstorming. 🙂 Instead, I decided on a retelling of the Breton legend about the destruction of the city of Ys. The standard version of the legend tells of how the sinful Dahut (something of a black widow character, even though she never marries the men she sleeps with and then murders) is killed in a flood and her city of sin swept away. So of course, I have to turn the moral of the story around. 🙂 In my version, Dahut is still a slut, but not a murderess, and she really doesn’t like those priests of her father’s trying to get her to take a husband and stop sleeping around …

I googled Ys and found a couple of versions of the legend, borrowed a bit from a scene in Yseult where Drystan is playing bard and tells the story, and started writing. During my research, I also found a fun painting of the legend that I used for the cover:

The Destruction of Ys

It took me about four hours for the research and the writing of my 1800 word version of the legend. A quick editing pass and the formatting took another hour, and for the cover I needed about two hours.

Since it didn’t cost me too many hours of my life, it also won’t cost me much to just unpublish it when it starts raking in the 1-star critiques because it’s so short and so immoral. *g* But nobody said I can’t go back and tweak the thing — do a real revision pass, write a real blurb, play some with the cover, etc. The point (for me at least) was to push myself, have fun, and see if I could do it. It was an interesting experiment, and actually quite liberating to see that I can slap something together fairly quickly if I have a deadline.

Konrath will be featuring all the 8 hour ebooks on his blog on Friday, and he’s encouraging everyone to make theirs free for the occasion. “The Destruction of Ys” will be free for five days starting tomorrow. For the occasion, I decided to also make my most recent short story collection, Story Hunger, free for three days as well.

As a result of the 8 Hour Ebook Challenge, I’m a bit behind with some of the other things I wanted to get done this week. I did finish a revision pass of Island of Glass and sent it to my second beta reader, a friend of my niece’s. I’m not as far along on the read-through of Chameleon in a Mirror as I wanted to be, however. I think by the end of the week I should be able to get it to my beta readers, though! A Wasted Land has also suffered — no new words there. But I think doing the challenge was worth it. 🙂

BTW, the deadline to get a book in to Konrath is midnight tomorrow, so those who are intrigued still have time to play!

Another way to think about marketing

Joanna Penn has a guest post over on David Gaughran’s blog that went up yesterday about marketing myths. Several of the myths I was already aware of (“If I get a traditional book deal, I won’t have to deal with marketing” — known that one for a long time, having been traditionally published *g*). But myth #2 really got me thinking:

MYTH 2: Marketing is scammy, sucky and awful and I’m not the type of person who can do it anyway

It’s time to reframe marketing.

Think of it this way instead. Marketing is sharing what you love with people who will appreciate hearing about it.

You’re writing a book about how you helped your kids escape from Type 2 diabetes. Don’t you think people want to hear about that?

You’ve written a kick-ass action-adventure thriller that will blow the socks off those miserable commuters you share a train carriage with and help them to escape the grind for a few hours. Don’t you think they want to know about it?

So you’ve got to find ways to connect with the people who would want your book – that’s marketing now. It is not scammy or sucky or awful (if you don’t want it to be). It’s about authenticity and the principles around ‘know, like and trust’ as well as technical things which you’ll find out about in this guide.

You also need to reframe marketing because it turns out that we are ALL salespeople these days. In Daniel Pink’s book ‘To Sell Is Human’ he explains how the world has changed and the job of ‘salesman’ really doesn’t exist anymore, but we’re all involved in selling every day. It might be ‘selling’ healthy food to your kids, or ‘selling’ yourself to get a career advancement, or as authors, its pitching our ideas to agents and publishers OR basically trying to get people to be interested in us and our books.

This is very, very solid advice. I think I need to read those paragraphs a couple of times a week to recalibrate my brain a bit. And then, take action accordingly. Not quite sure yet what action that would be, of course … 🙂

Anyone have any great ideas about what marketing as sharing might entail?