Learning a new business (writing) is fun… ish

Ah learning new things. Always fun.

The other night I was sitting in my chair, reading about being a writer and realized that just as I was thinking ‘Space Rogues‘ was done, locked in, I’d made a huge mistake.

Most ebooks, at least those I read have a page at the end, after the “The End,” that thanks the reader, asks nicely for a review and offers up ways for readers to connect with the author; Facebook, website, etc.

I had nothing. D’oh!

So I opened Scrivener real quick like, whipped up a cute little ‘thank you’ final page and recompiled the book. A few minutes later the updated file was uploaded to Amazon, and by the time I got up the next morning, the updated book was live.

My new thank you page.Thankfully as far as mistakes go, it wasn’t that huge, especially since I could correct it. Still, though, the people who’ve bought or read ‘Space Rogues‘ via Kindle Unlimited weren’t thanked and weren’t invited to connect with me. Missed opportunity for sure!

Major bummer.

Tough learning aside, I’m glad I’m getting to learn a pretty much new industry. It’s been interesting to see what works awesome for an indie author and what makes you scratch your head. Looking at you Amazon for treating an ebook like a paperback.

 

Anyway, That’s this week’s episode “John’s Adventures in Indie publishing” :D

Space Rogues final Kindle tablet cover

Adventures in book design… A.K.A ‘Space Rogues’ is complete.

And …

Fin!

Well barring anything nutty happening, that is. I’ve uploaded the final covers to Amazon for both print and ebook, both formats are updated. This marks what I hope is the last update for this book.

Sadly the biggest lesson I’ve learned (so far) is that you can’t update your existing customers with new versions (Even though, you know, ebooks are like software, grr) so, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, everyone who’s bought a copy prior to this past weekend has a more collectible version. Especially the print book. That’s certainly not bad I love cover version one a lot since it started as an “Oh crap, I need a cover to submit it to NaNoWriMo” and has evolved over this past year.

If I had known that, I probably would have waited to publish, though I’m certainly glad I didn’t since it’s been super exciting to watch people not only buy my work but like it.

Anyhow, yeah final covers.

I’m excited! For one thing, this lets me put ‘Space Rogues‘ more or less to bed, and focus on the next adventure for the crew of the Ghost. I’m about one-third into the first draft of Space Rogues 2, so likely sometimes early 2018, unless I get really ambitious this fall/winter.

In addition to turning my attention to the sequel, now I turn my attention to really marketing the book. I’m kinda excited about this part too, as it at least a little taps into my experience running 360|Conferences. I hope to really kick sales into high gear now!

 

If you’ve finished reading ‘Space Rogues‘ please, PLEASE leave a review. Also if you want to get sample chapters, character ideas and more, subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll blog my adventures, but the newsletter will get stuff either before it hits here, or exclusively.

My First Month with Grammarly

So after publishing ‘Space Rogues‘ I decided to pay for Grammarly and run it through the service. Several early readers remarked about the grammar offenses, so I decided to take a look at what I could do (can’t afford an editor yet) to fix it up.

Talk about tedious. Lesson learned, now I put each scene through Grammarly after I finish it! Two days of monotonous copy-pasting and I had what I consider a whole new (or at least dramatically improved) book!

ApparenGrammarlywords uploadedtly, you get an email each month with your Grammarly use, and I thought it was interesting.

I started with Grammarly as a Safari plugin so have been using it for roughly two weeks, before committing to installing it, and passing ‘Space Rogues‘ through it. So, about 52,000 words of this 97,809 are my book, the rest, sort of shockingly, are just things I’ve typed in Safari. Holy cow! I mean there are a few conference emails and blog posts, but really, 40,000 odd words… wow. YOu can clearly see the day I spent pasting each scene of ‘Space Rogues‘ into Grammarly. I hope Scrivener 3 integrates Grammarly.

I did think this little bit was kinda neat, I don’t know what this says about me, or the other 99% of Grammarly’s users, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

 

 

 

This, however, was not at all surprising. Honestly, I am a bit surprised it was this high.

 

 

 

 

So the funniest part of the email I got, basically captured what I’ve known for some time, and has been driven home since reawakening my writer self. It’s something I’m actively thinking about now as I write.

My top 3 issues that Grammarly fixed

This renewed journey into writing (and publishing) is an exciting adventure! Thanks for following me on it! Remember you can also get non-blog post stuff from my newsletter. It’s 100% dedicated to writing, so sample chapters, character insights, etc.

 

 

 

My Book, One (ish) Week in.

So, I put ‘Space Rogues‘ up for sale a few days ago, well last Tuesday to be precise. (BTW, join my newsletter if you want to stay up to date on what Wil and the crew are doing, and get sample chapters of the next story!)

It’s selling. I won’t be retiring on writing money anytime soon, but holy crap, people (presumably not all ones I know) are buying my book.

In fact, I know it’s not all people I know because the first review is in and it’s a stranger (I think). Better than that, it’s a 4-star review! Unfortunately, I bet the update that I released this weekend, would have gotten five stars. I ponied up and paid for a year of Grammarly (MONEY WELL SPENT) and spent all day Friday feeding each scene through it and cleaning it up, as our President says, ‘bigly’. Ah well, despite my playing fast and loose with commas, she liked it.

Anyhow, back to my main point in this post, DATA!

 

Space Rogue sales since launchSo this shows the first five days that ‘Space Rogues’ was available.

 

The 29th is when both Nicole and I really made noise about it. I posted here on the blog, we both shared on social media, etc.

Then, understandably buzz started to wear off. Surprisingly to me, things didn’t just drop to zero.

That cute little gray box on Friday, that’s a print book sale. Interesting, that on Friday no ebooks sold though.

I’ve been holding off doing too much marketing since I’m waiting for an improved cover. While I’m happy-ish with mine, it’s without a doubt, ‘developer art’. A good friend is working on a cover for me, so when that’s done I’ll be pushing the book harder.

I hadn’t really thought about the cover when I put it on sale, but once I saw it there, I knew that cover wasn’t sufficient.

Kindle Unlimited

Space Rogues Kindle Unlimited ReadershipWhile I’ve been a Kindle Unlimited (Seriously, give it a try if you haven’t. 30-day trial and a great way to discover new writers!) Subscriber since it launched, I’ve only followed how it works from a high level.

My understanding is that this graph is showing the “Kindle Edition Normalized Pages” which is how they determine your slice of the KU pie. Once your book is processed, they figure out the pages (discounting TOC, cover, etc) and then you get paid for each page that’s read.

I assume from this graph, two people got and finished the book in one sitting, while at least a few others have begun reading. OR a whole lot of people got it and started reading it. Either is ok with me.

I’m very interested to see how the whole Kindle Unlimited thing pans out. I’ve seen other (far more successful) writers say they make more than from books sales. I find that hard to accept, but hey. Maybe once the crew of the Ghost has gone on twenty adventures, who knows.

 

Anyhow, I’m really stoked. Especially now that I feel like ‘Space Rogues’ is at a place I can let Vol. 1 do its thing and focus on the sequel.

I Published My (first) Book

'Space Rogues' Book coverSo you may recall I wrote a thing. I’ve spent the last nine months, waiting for feedback from beta readers, tweaking, reviewing, tweaking again.

Oh, and I started on the sequel too.

This past weekend I finally decided to pull the trigger. I’ve been tweaking the story for months, it’s time to get it out into the world. So, it is. You can get it here, if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free, otherwise, it’s $2.99.

It’s $2.99 because as tempting as it would be to make it $.99 that doesn’t put a lot of value on my time. I spent a month feverishly getting the story down on (virtual) paper, and nine more months polishing it. I believe we should pay creators for their creations. Whether that’s in the Kindle Unlimited Model (I’ve found several authors via KU, that I now buy their book outright) or buy directly purchasing their work.

I’ve watched so many ‘races to the bottom’ that I can’t contribute to that. Want to read (what I think is) a good little sci-fi adventure? It’ll cost a few bucks. Don’t enjoy it? I’ll buy you a coffee to make up for it.

Space Rogues‘ was a blast to write, I’m enjoying the story that’s developing in the sequel every bit as much as this first story.

I’ve learned a lot about my writing style, and the craft in general over this past almost year. I’ve (re) fallen in love with writing. I’ve found joy in trying out new tools to help take my writing to new levels. I hope you get even half as much enjoyment from reading my work as I get from writing it :)

I hope the wait for ‘Space Rogues 2: Saving the universe, again” (Working Title) isn’t too unbearable :)

Using Dabble to plotline my next story

After finishing NaNoWriMo, I started working on a second story. Same characters and universe. The first story just kind of fell out as I wrote it, it told itself.

The sequel isn’t following suit.

A friend of mine recently released a writing app called Dabble. and while it’s not quite what I want in a writing app (Scrivener sets a high bar), it recently added a feature I’ve fallen in love with .

Enter the Plotline. 

Dabble's awesome plotline viewBeing able to lay out plot points and see the whole story is great!

I already had the first few chapters down, and kept going back and tweaking them, as I wasn’t happy with how things were flowing.

I’ve only gotten about a third or so in, and will likely change much as I go, but so far good.

 

What’s nice is Dabble is a work in progress and Jacob is awesome :) The other night as I was working, I realized I had to scroll up quite a bit to see the title of each column, so I submitted an idea to freeze the top of the screen.

Shortly after I hit ‘submit’ Jacob and I were chatting about the idea.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, straightforward writing app, take a look at Dabble and help craft it into the perfect app.

Google Wifi box

Thought on My First week with Google Wifi

I just switched out my Apple Airport Extremes for Google Wifi. I’m normally all in on the silo I’ve chosen (Apple usually). I’ve had Apple Airport Extremes since the second generation of them. They’ve never been the best devices, but again the silo. They worked remarkably well within the Apple ecosystem. Mac and iOS would see APs that needed setting up, etc. Easy. The app was nice enough.

Updates were few and far between, barely a scrap of pro user support, or more modern considerations, but they worked and managing them was easy enough from a non shitty app.

Google Wifi unboxingI’ve been keeping an eye on the emerging Mesh Wifi world, and saw this review. Wirecutter has a great writeup as well, but it didn’t cover Google Wifi and a few others, because they hadn’t shipped yet. One of my main things was it has to look not terrible since at least one will live in plain sight. Apple kit sets the bar high there.

I’ll admit, the unboxing was Apple like. A nice plain white box, subtle logo, three very pretty little pods resting inside. Cords and unsightly bits in nice individual compartments below. Nice.

Google Wifi Setup

Setup is pretty straight forward, and you can read all about it in the blog post linked above, so I won’t re-hash that. One thing I’ve learned in keeping up a home network, changing your network name is a big pain in the ass, so don’t unless you need to. Prior to booting the first Google Wifi up, I powered down the AirPort Extreme. Then as I went through the process I named my network the exact same name as the majority of devices would look for, and made sure the password was the same. Most things just reconnected no problem.

The one hassle I had in this area is that Airport Extremes let you treat your 2.4 and 5gHz networks as separate things, so I had “Wilker” and “Wilker 5G”. This was also my own thing, since it made sure my machines connected to the faster AP that was was serving 802.11ac and the slower b/g/n wouldn’t slow down the ac connections. A hold over for sure. The downside was that the device that would be the biggest headache, were the ones on the “Wilker” network. iDevice switches and the Sonos speakers. Things that don’t have a UI to interact with. Long story short, lots of resetting and reconnecting later, everyone is happy on the new and improved “Wilker 5G” network.

Google Wifi App

Google Wifi appWhile I like the app, it’s clean and pretty easy to use, it’s also the only way to interact with your Google Wifi. No desktop app, no (blech) web interface, sadly also no iPad app. Phone only. Deal breaker? No, but a pain sometimes when I’d rather use my iPad.

It is nice to be able to see my network like this, it’s one of the things I liked with Apple’s Airport Utility. This is even better since I don’t have to look at each device to see what’s on the network. They’re all listed regardless of which AP they’re talking to, very nice.

I’m not sure of it’s overall utility, but the idea of a priority device is in the app. google Wifi device list When looking at the list, you can tap that little green circle in the bottom right, and assign a device on your network priority traffic for one, two or four hours. I’m not sure why I would care do to that. It might be useful to do it indefinitely for say my media center, or the AppleTV to ensure streaming is always good, but I can’t imagine having to every few hours, pick who gets priority.

 

The other really nice thing in the device list, is seeing the data usage. You can see it in the list, and tapping on a device let’s you see that devices traffic either real time or back a few days/weeks/months. Kinda neat.

Google Wifi Mesh

Google Wifi meshI’ve been interested in mesh since I started reading about. The idea isn’t new, in fact I’ve used my previous generations of Airport Extremes in a mesh setup, but it’s much more manual and labor intensive to setup and manage. Google Wifi makes it much easier!

I do wish you could wire additional base stations to help spread the load down through the modem, but not a deal breaker.

The hardest part of set up was placing the units. Our house is a rowhouse, tall and skinny. My first thought was one unit in the office closet where the Airport Extreme was, then one upstairs at the entry to the rooftop deck since usually internet up there is the pits.

Except as you can see, the office closet isn’t a great location, I suspect because the washer and drier are right in line between the main google wifi unit and the office one. I’ll play with location later.

The rooftop one right now is in the master bedroom, straight down the hall from the office. The Unit gave an error, when on the roof. I’m not sure if it was just a fluke or if all units need to be close the main unit (which goes against my understanding of how mesh works). Will play with that one as well later.

I did some tinkering and realized my office AP was on the closet because that’s where the old Apple one lived. It was in there because that’s where the network drop was. Lightbulb moment, I moved the office unit into the room on a shelf and signal strength was vastly improved. The closet still has a switch for the wired devices.

Final thoughts.

So far so good. All devices are connected and doing well, internet speeds don’t seem any different, things stream well, etc. These are smaller and more discreet than Airport Extremes which is nice. We’ll see how Google does as far a feature updates, etc.

One update, I had a weird google service issue the other day. I don’t know if it was google DNS, or their servers or what, but it directly impacted the google wifi since the app talks to their servers as well, quite frustrating.