Category Archives: Writing

WIP Thursday

Trying a new thing!

Since I’m hard at work on ‘Space Rogues 2: John needs to think of a subtitle soon’ (It’s a working title) I figured I’d tease out parts I like. So Thursdays .. Wednesdays, I’m not sure. Will be “WIP insert day name here”

Anything shared here is rough/first draft at best but enjoy. I hope these little snippets are as fun for you to read as they are for me to write.

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“Wait! Wait!” Wil shouts at the three pirates all leveling blaster rifles at him. They pause, looking at each and back at Wil, then each takes a blaster shot to the head, dropping to the ground. He nods, and heads down the corridor, “Thanks, you two!”

“Ghost base, can you pinpoint their command center?”

Bennie replies, “They activated scramblers the moment they realized you were there, but our last passive scan showed what looks like the command center, based on power consumption, is five levels above you.”

“Wil, you head up to the command center, we’ll clear these levels,” Zephyr says, Wil only knows where she is because her suit computer is talking to his and relaying her position to his HUD as a faint green outline.

Wil turns and runs down the corridor, following Bennie’s instructions to the nearest lift.

Zephyr turns to Maxim, “ready to do this?”

“I’d follow you anywhere.”

“Flirt.”

They head off down the corridor in the opposite direction Wil had gone.

Wil turns a corner and sees the lift, guarded by two pirates. He steps around the corner and walks right up to the two guards, “What’re you two doing here?” He asks.

The two pirates look at each other, then the taller turns to Wil, “Who the wurrin are you? I’ve never seen you before?” His rifle lowers to aim right at Wil, the other guard follows his lead.

Wil raises both hands, “Hey hey! What’re you talking about? I sat with you at lunch, what? Last week? What the wurrin dude! We talked about the Breakfast Club!” The taller guard glances at the other one, then back to Wil. Wil smiles, then glances at the other guard.

The taller guard glances back to the shorter, “What ‘breakfast club’? I don’t even eat breakfast.”

Wil drops both hands and fires plasma blasts from blasters built into each palm of his armor. The glowing plasma emitters steam slightly as they cool down after firing.

Wil walks up and pushes the button next to the lift, “Eat your heart out Tony Stark.”

The lift doors open, “I’ve still got a little control,” Bennie reports, “No primary systems, but plenty of secondaries.”

Wil steps into the lift. As the doors close he tells Bennie, “Kill the lights.”

“On it.” The lights in the lift die, and so does it’s upward motion.

“Just the lights, you dummy!” Wil says from his now motionless lift, “I’m stuck in here.”

“Shit, sorry. Hold on.”

“Not going anywhere, take your time.”  A minute later the lift gets moving again, “Thanks, Bennie.”

The doors open onto a large receiving area with a massive blast door opposite the lift. Between Wil and the door to the command center are several pirates.

“You guys!” He pants and drops his hands to his knees. “They’re a level below! I barely got on the lift before the over-ran us.”

One of the pirates, who actually has a peg-leg, comes forward. “You don’t look like you just fought.”

“How many are there?” A different pirate shouts from the other side of the large room.

Peg-leg raises his rifle, aiming at Wil, “Shut up Merkle! He could be one of them! I don’t recognize him.”

Wil looks around the room, “Well I don’t recognize…” He thrusts his finger at a random pirate, “this guy!”

“I’m female you krebnack!”

“Oh…”

 

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Want more? You can join my newsletter and get Chapter One of ‘Space Rogues 2: Rogues in Space (It’s a working title)’

Also, if you haven’t bought ‘Space Rogues‘ or read it on Kindle Unlimited, please do.

It’s Hard to Tell Who’s Side Amazon is on

Ok, it actually isn’t, at all. They’re on their side and much like Apple, the rest of us are just being pulled along in the wake, and if we’re successful, great, but if not, ain’t no losing any sleep from Apple or Amazon.

This is basically episode 3.. or 5 or whatever, of “Wilker Learns to be an indie Writer”

So you have a book to publish, yay! You hop over to Amazon because you know you can self-publish there in both paper and ebook formats. You go through all the steps and get your books set up. You see the KDP select option, which puts your book in the Kindle Unlimited program, which is awesome, folks can read your book for free! You get paid a few fractions of a cent for every page that’s read, neat! Not overly lucrative, at least for a new author, but neat.

Then you learn about Createspace (which Amazon owns, but doesn’t advertise at all) where you can also create your book in both versions, as well as make it available in other markets. Except you can’t once you’ve done it in KDP unless you want to unpublish your book and republish. GRRR

ok, so you’ve missed out on that, but that’s ok. You can keep going with the KDP tools and make your way.

You go about your business and want to do some free ebook giveaways. AH! You can’t because you forgot KDP select prohibits any ebook distribution outside Amazon. No giveaways, no iBooks, or Google, nothing. KU or purchase from Amazon, that’s it for ebook distribution. Drat!

Good thing KDP Select is only 90 days.

You can opt-in again of course if you like.It’s good that Amazon, in exchange for this lock-in they demand gives you some options for promotion. You can do a week of free on your book, that’s cool, it drives some serious readership (I picked up 200+ copies in people’s kindles). You can also do a Kindle Countdown, which lets you start at a price lower than your normal price, and increment up to full price. Oh wait, you can’t do one if you’ve done the

Amazon KDP Select Promotion optionsIt’s good that Amazon, in exchange for this lock-in they demand gives you some options for promotion, not amazing ones, but at least options. You can do a Free Book Promotion (one week of free), that’s cool, it drives some serious readership (I picked up 200+ copies/readers when I did it for ‘Space Rogues’).

You can also do a Kindle Countdown Deal, which lets you start at a price lower than your normal price, and increment up to full price. Oh wait, you can’t do one if you’ve done the other until you re-sign for another 90 days of KDP. huh, that sucks, you have two options, you get to do one.

Amazon KDP Select Promotion option limitations

I’m torn on the value of all the above. At this point, I’m about halfway through my KDP select term. I’ve sold a handful of copies, given away quite a few more, and Kindle Unlimited readership seems ok. But I can’t distribute ‘Space Rogues‘ anywhere else. I can’t participate in giveaways that could increase readership and reviews. Right now while making money would be ideal, my main goal is getting copies in hand to get more reviews.

Of course, there’s also Kindle Unlimited, which as a reader I like quite a bit. As a writer I’m … meh. The payout for your book varies based on things you have no control over. Page reads (vs. ‘finishing a book’ because scammers were gaming that) and overall pool size. For July, the payout for Kindle Unlimited is $0.00403472 per page read. There’s an equation at play to dictate what a “page” is so that scammers don’t put two words on a page, etc. Fucking scammers.

 

Thinking I might do a freebie deal a week or two before the end of my KDP term, to drive some interest.

Writing wherever you are

I’ve had some form of writing app installed on my mac or iPad pretty much forever (which isn’t as long for the iPad of course). Whether that was Word, Scrivener, Ulysses, copywrite, Storyist, Pages, or any other app that someone released to ‘revolutionize writing.’ Back when I was first working at Spire Digital I had an old white MacBook that I used for an online writing class I was taking, and worked on various short stories.

I’ve Always had an eye out for the latest and greatest but also the most useful. Finding something that fits isn’t easy.

For me, the big things are these; ease of use, portability, reliability.

Easy of Use

It’s all too common for app developers to start throwing feature after feature into an app. “Hey what if it also had a todo list?” Those are great, I have an app for that, and don’t want it in my writing app. You get my point here, more isn’t better and so many apps get bogged down in features, just sitting down to write is a chore. Scrivener teeters on the edge of this. It’s feature packed but only takes 2 clicks to start a writing project.

Portability

This is a big one for me. When I travel I have some combination of Mac and iPad. Rarely do I not travel without my iPad, but sometimes I do travel without my laptop. My most recent trip to Munich was laptop free. Not to mention short trips around town when I just grab my iPad and go. That being the case, being able to use whichever device is closest to me to write, is a big deal. I intentionally left my iPhone out of the mix because I’m not a sadist.

Being able to open my iPad and have my writing projects update from the cloud is awesome. I can open Scrivener and get to work right away. I can load Dabble in my browser (or the app on mac) and see what I need to know for my next chapter or scene.

Space Rogues‘ during NaNoWriMo was written at home on the couch on my Mac and in coffee shops on my iPad.

Reliability

This one is a bit vague, but for me, it’s two things; app updates and general not-crashyness. Has your app been updated in the last 6 months? Have you released a new major version? While I’d love super-frequent updates, I understand that’s not really feasible for most developers. But if you haven’t updated your app in a year? Two years? That doesn’t make me want to give your app my time, or you my money. In looking back to make the list of apps at the top, one of them likely hasn’t been updated in 10-15 years. It’s minimum required OS is Mac OS 10.3, released in 2003. It’s still available for download and sale.

Not crashing is kind of a big deal. Whether that’s full-on App crash or (to me even worse) backend stuff going bonkers like sync, it’s no bueno. If I can’t trust your app one hundred percent with my work, I can’t trust it at all. It comes down to “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” I’ve lost writing before to crashes that happen before an auto-save, or to sync conflicts, and that’s too maddening to deal with.

 

 

Are you a writer? What do you use? Love? What app can you not live with?

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.