A “real” author

I just signed a contract with Castalia House, a recently started Finland-based publisher, to be the official publisher of The Stars Came Back. By some combination of luck, skill, happenstance in a changing marketplace, and doing enough things right to compensate for what I didn’t, I managed to move more than 2700 copies of the book world-wide between 13Jan2014 and 18Mar2014. Not bad for a total noob, and quite above expectations, if not as many as one may absurdly hope. So why would I cut my profits by sticking a middle-man in the mix? Because the book is already selling and done, the change to my bottom line for this book is very minimal, we have a good deal to come out with a conventional prose format version of the story, one where I won’t have to worry about upfront costs for editing and new cover art. (He says my old cover fairly screamed “self published,” and was quite surprised that it was selling as well as it was).

He’ll also handle translation into at least two other languages, possible audible books, and taking it to ink-on-paper (something I’d been only slowly making progress on), meaning I’ll get a fair percentage of markets I’d get zero from otherwise. It also opens the door wide for sequels and offshoots and other projects I’ve been mentally kicking around but didn’t have the resources to go after.

The funny thing is, I didn’t really intend to submit the story in an attempt to get a publisher. I had tried to post a question in a previous thread in which Vox compared indie publishing and working with a publisher, but the blog kept eating my post, so I just emailed the question to him. Basically I was asking “how does all this affect someone like me, a self-published author that is doing OK, but is a total no-name noob at it all?” He asked me to send in a copy for him to take a look at. I did, more thinking I might get some professional feedback, or maybe a plug on a blog read by people that might like the story. Shortly thereafter, it seemed like we were both a little surprised how things worked out. But as he said, “who am I to argue with the market?”

It’s been an interesting ride. Guess I can add “Raconteur” to my biz card.

Countdown deal

For that that are interested, and have not already bought a copy, there is a “countdown deal” going on at Amazon for The Stars Came Back, running through the Ides of March (because it’s a killer deal). Right now it’s $0.99, then up to $1.99, then back to regular price. (Quick edit just in case it’s not clear: it’s an e-book only at the present time, though I’m working on a paper version… and other things)

Best comment on a one-star review, where the person called it “garbage,” and said “it’s in a screenplay format. Who even does that?” someone replied with “Stephen King.”

700 Club

Wow. Just hit the second milestone number for The Stars Came Back, where I’m sure I’ve just recovered my upfront costs of editing, cover art, etc. Still hanging in the charts, bobbling around unsteadily but consistently between the low 20s and the high 30s on the Space Opera and Military Sci Fi charts at Amazon. The charts are recalculated ever hour or so, based on some sort of recent sales formula. So if I never sell another copy, at least I haven’t lost money. [UPDATE: check the whole chart if it's not there. It wobbled into the #19 spot just now.]

It went live on the 13th of January. It’s now the 2nd of February. Three weeks to hit 700 net copies sold (and a couple dozen borrowed). Guess I must have done something right. *sigh* Time to work on reformatting for getting it in paperback, I suppose.

Another seven million copies and I can retire.

Moving up

Just an FY:

The Stars Came Back is now at:

#18 15 in  Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military

#26 22 21 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military

#42 35 34 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Science Fiction

Which at the moment translates into 164 183 209 units sold, 4 borrowed.

Whoo-hoo!

UPDATE: now at #1918 in Amazon paid Kindle store.

Got Plugged

Whoo-hoo! I got plugged. Er, perhaps I should explain that.

My book, The Stars Came Back, got a plug in the Book Plug Friday over at PJ Lifestyle, part of the Pajamas Media Megaplex. Be interesting to see what effect it has on sales.

So far the book has three reviews – I’d greatly appreciate more from any of you that have read it, particularly if you have written reviews before. Doesn’t have to be magnificent writing (that’s my job), just tell what you liked about it, strengths and quirks, compare it to other better known books or authors you liked. Thanks for your support, now back to our regular gun-news.

Flinging time

Yup, looks like it’s done enough to toss out into the wild. The Stars Came Back is now a genuine product you can buy at Amazon. It should be pretty clean, and the story’s all there, and there are some graphics included, and more at the supporting website, www.TheStarsCameBack.com. It is also a good place to ask questions, find out more, etc. If you DO notice any typos, problems, or whatever, let me know, I can update it. If you like it, positive reviews are always appreciated.

Sorry it’s taken so long, after planning on getting it out last June (or maybe July), but it’s been a very educational process for me. Now I get to learn about taxes, exchanged rates, defending copyrights, all sorts of exciting stuff like that.

Stars schedule slippage

Best of intentions, yadda yadda yadda. Between various things happening on the home front that took time away from editing, my editor having a few medical challenges, the fact she’s doing it “on the side” and has to work around her work schedule, and the fact I am ending up looking at somewhat more substantive edits than I had originally planned, it isn’t ready quite yet. Cover art is taking longer than expected, too. All in all, The Stars Came Back is taking a bit longer than planned. *sigh*. An educational experience, if often frustrating and painful, all around. But I think the book will be much better for it. Now aiming for sometime in November, because it is national “write a novel” month.

Art, or not

Hmmm… Another swing and a miss in the art department. I’m trying to find an artist / illustrator willing to get paid to do cover art, to create a picture that looks more or less the way I want it, rather than the way they like drawing spaceships. I’m looking to commission a piece because none of the “stock art” I’ve looked though looks like what I want, or even close enough to say “good enough” if you squint just right in poor lighting.

I can’t pay a lot, but I can pay. So, anyone out there know any friends, nephews, nieces, cousins, coworkers, or something that has some bit of talent and wants to draw some spaceships colliding in space, at least one of which looks like the ones in the book (not just any old random spaceship)?

Thanks to Paul, I’ve even got some images of Taj, so I don’t just have to explain what she looks like, but can show the artist.It should be, or at least CAN be, a pretty simple, clean image. No people. Smaller spaceships colliding with and splattering on Tajemnica, another of the smaller ships being “grabbed” by the glowing drive field. Background planetary and moon stuff optional. Comments here or over in www.thestarscameback.com, where I also have some graphics posted now.

Elevator Pitch

The “elevator pitch” for a product is what you say if you find yourself in an elevator with a potential buyer or investor. It is something that has to get to the core of the item, pique  their interest, and be very brief. It has to grab the attention, give enough to make them want more, not give away to much, and it must not misrepresent the item. I’ve been working on it a little bit, trying to get it “just right,” with enough mystery and enough “feel for the story” in a few brief lines. The best version will get posted on the main The Stars Came Back” topic page. Continue reading

Getting closer to release

I bit the bullet, as it were, and grabbed the name www.TheStarsCameBack.com, through NameCheap.com. With Barron from http://www.the-minuteman.org/ hosting it I got things up and operational. I’m working on getting some content going, so that by the time I get cover art and editing all done, I can have some extra stuff there as part of the “marketing push.” I’m getting pretty close, now, I think, maybe, hopefully. I’d like to get things fairly well fleshed out before launch, so anyone that’s been following the story and waiting for the final release so you can watch Helton die in a blaze of gory glory… (Oh, wait, no, that DOESN’T happen. Sorry. That was the original ending) I mean, anyone that wants to make comments over there on things they like to have, see, or find out about the story. The better the site is, the more likely the book will be a success, and the more likely I can talk the other half into letting me write another instead of getting a “real” job.

Editing is tedious, part 2

Over a month ago, I stopped posting daily installments of The Stars Came Back. I said it would be a week or two to finish and go live. Oops. About three weeks ago, I said it was going, but slowly – editing is tedious. The story is done, now. I’ve gone over it several more times, end to end, tweaking it here and there, but also fixing basic grammar and word selection goofs. And I’m still finding them. It’s amazing, really, how many basic things slipped by not only my first reading, but my second, the several wonderful volunteers that have sent me a lot of corrections and questions. I had a long conversation with Sean about some big picture things, some of which he had some great criticisms on, and some of which he had questions about, but the choices made were conscious decisions on my part because I was trying to do something specific with the story. And yet, there are still minor errors cropping up here and there. Cover art is being worked on. Paul very generously created some much nicer drawings of Tajemnica from my sketches. It will be a much better story for the effort being put into it now, but it will still be at least a few days, maybe a few weeks if I hire a professional editor to give it a good thrashing, er, I mean, a going over, but I hope the final product will be worth the wait.
In the mean time, I’m giving it a few days rest, so I can let my eyes uncross, and think about what stories I could write in the same universe. So far, my main ideas are Lag’s komenagen, Allonia’s past, further adventures of Taj in the future, or a series of stories about Tajemnica’s past adventures; the downside of the last one is that they’d tend to be downers at the end of each installment. (for example, how did she win a battle but lose her entire crew?) Going in a different direction, there are doing things like looking at the life of a terraforming platform crew on a new planet.

Editing is tedious

My eyes are starting to go buggy. Been spending a LOT of time recently working on editing The Stars Came Back. The story is done. I’ve addressed some of the issues people had, like the attempted rape scene (ubu), the no-alarm airlock (Sendarius, I think, or was it Defens?), the “sudden pile of bodies” shortly thereafter (several people), the poker game (ubu), the multiple planets in one system L3/L4 issue (forget who, but thanks, it helped later, too), etc. Also think I got all the to/too, breath/breathe, clothes/cloths issues. Still a few things to work on, and now awaiting to hear back from a few of those brave souls that said they’d be happy to look it over and see what errors they can find in it. (If you asked to do so, and haven’t heard from me, drop my a line, because apparently my email to your email address you use when posting isn’t working for me). Not sure on the going live on Amazon date. Still awaiting to hear back from a couple of people on possible cover-art things (still entertaining suggestions on that front, actually), and want to go through it at least once and not find another error of some sort.

The Stars Came Back -108- Approach

[sorry for the delayed post. Had a minor power problem, details later]

Fade in

EXT – NIGHT – Space, not far from a large, angry, dimly lit orange gas giant.

In the far distance, the sun of the New Medina system glows, shedding what little light reaches out to this far distant orbit. In the near distance, space glows and Tajemnica pops into existence. The hull is covered with the same tanks, turrets, and missile pods as before. From an internal magazine, a launch tube pops up and a missile is launched, glowing slightly rather than using conventional rocket motor. It heads for the massive failed star in the distance, rapidly disappearing into the distance. Continue reading

The Stars came Back -107- Plans

Fade in

INT – DAY – Officers mess

Helton, Lag, Harbin, Ahmed, Capt THRIM TOKAREV (commander of the 13th Mountain Shields, late 30s, short hair, goatee, medium skinned, scarred, tough, bull-necked and broad-shouldered) sit around the table discussing strategy. On a wall screen is the planetary alignment diagram, on the table screen is a layout of the expected battlefield. Continue reading