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Posts Tagged ‘Infinite Sacrifice’

(Clothing optional)

My latest venture in self-publishing has been something I never thought I’d attempt. If you told me that I’d be creating audio books years ago I’d laugh and show you how I haven’t even figured out my iPhone yet. I first saw a discussion about creating audio books on the Kindlebord’s Writer’s Cafe forum (where I get on all my self-publishing information). I clicked on the thread only out of curiosity and was surprised to hear indie authors report how easy it was to create audio books and if you’re not putting one out you’re leaving money on the table.

My impression was that you needed to be tech savvy to create one or have a lot of money to pay someone else to make one. I knew a few indie authors that narrated their audio books themselves but knew that would never be an option for me. However, these much clever indies had found a site called ACX that helps indies produce their own audio books much like Createspace and KDP have made self-publishing ebooks and print books so simple. I decided to make an account and clicked every tab I could find to answer all my endless questions.

My biggest problem was that I worried my unusual reincarnation fantasy would not make a good audio book due to the fact that I would have to find one very talented narrator who could pull off different accents, different genders, and different ages in a believable way. Yet, what did I have to lose if I put a sample up? So I picked out a few pages of each life from my first book for folks to audition for.

A few weeks went by without any auditions, but then my project got selected for a stipend. I had no idea what that was at first but found out that it is an incentive program that ACX puts on certain books for producers and narrators. Not only will they get the 50%-50% royalty deal, they also get $100 for every finished hour of audio book paid by ACX. Well, the auditions started rolling in. The very first audition I listened to floored me. Completely not what I expected, this narrator took the book in her own direction and I loved it.

What to do now?

Well, I had to read more information on the site about how I make an offer and I was sure to read all the fine print about making an audio book with ACX. I decided I would go with the 50%-50% royalty deal, the exclusive distribution option with ACX that yields more profit for me, and had to select the date I wanted the narrator to complete the first fifteen minutes and the date the whole project should be finalized. Since there was a stipend attached, it was important to see when the stipend time was up since they grant them for only a few months at a time. I checked when mine was up and made sure I gave extra time for my narrator to complete it.

Well, she unfortunately responded that she was busy with another project at the moment and wouldn’t be able to finish it by that date. I was so disappointed and wondered if everyone would sound terrible next to her skill. I listened to a few more auditions and learned that I definitely didn’t like strong accents and glaring voice changes for different characters. The first narrator showed me that subtle was the way to go.

Finally, I got a message from a producer who was interested in my project and gave a list of narrators that worked for him with samples of audio books they’d completed. I picked Jessica Peterson out immediately since she read similarly to the first narrator that I’d heard. The producer had her read my sample and I made the offer which they quickly accepted.

He got to work right away and kept me informed of all their deadlines. It was so nice to work with such a seasoned professional. Since I was so inexperienced it was wonderful to have someone guide me through the whole process. He asked me to go through my whole book and pick out any words that might have difficult pronunciation. Usually there might only be a few words that need to be clarified, but with all my historic names, places, and things this took me a very long time.

An unexpected benefit to making an audio book was soon found out when the narrator found typos (a few missing words here and there). Which was shocking since I’ve had this darn book edited by at least six amazing editors! But since she had to read each word aloud I think it truly cleared up any of those last pesky typos.

The most important step is approving the first fifteen minutes, until then you can walk away from the deal without any penalty. Make sure you like everything: the sound quality, the vocal choices, the pronunciations before this stage since after you approve you’ll have to pay the narrator to end the project if you don’t get along. My first fifteen minutes was wonderful except for the fact that I forgot to specify that my main character begins old and at a certain phrase becomes much younger. It slipped my mind and I felt terrible to tell them that they wasted five minutes at the end since it had to be changed. They were gracious and went back to the studio to change it and I didn’t approve it until it was just the way I wanted.

Now it was definitely happening and I had faith in my producer’s and narrator’s abilities. They finished before the deadline and I listened to every word before I approved the final creation. I had to scramble to get my cover designer to make a square cover for the audition since they would not allow the cover I use for the ebook (so it’s good idea to get that done ahead of time).

It took much longer that I thought before the audio book was up for sale on Amazon (four weeks). I even sent an inquiry on why it was delayed but apparently that is the normal time it takes. I saw that the price was set at $19.95 (they set the price based on how long the audio is), but I wanted to be sure to get the Whispersync deal on there since it gives a huge discount to those who have already purchased the ebook (and since my ebook is free, I hoped it would increase sales). I wrote to ACX and requested the option and after a week the discount was available.

Infinite Sacrifice-Audio Cover(Click here for the link to the audio version)

So there you have it, an audio book was created by someone who never thought they could manage it. I’ve already had a few emails letting me know how much they enjoyed the audio book and were wondering when book number two will be out. I went to work on getting that one made and requested a stipend on that book so I could continue to use the same producer and narrator. They actually granted me the stipend and my producer is up for the project, so now I’m busy looking up all the hard to pronounce words…

Self-publishing is truly an adventure.

indielife7

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Happy anniversary to me!

A year ago today I bit my lip and pressed ‘the button’. After many days of shrieking as my finger hovered over the bright yellow ‘Save and Publish’ button on KDP, I finally joined the published masses. Oh, I have learned so much in this last year. Let’s see how my expectations last year compares to where I am now.

Here is the post I put up discussing all that was needed to publish my first novel–I’m adding my updated thoughts in red:

Since posting up my book trailer and releasing my launch date (11-11-11!) I have to be very sure that I’m going to make that deadline. Originally, I thought I could release the book in early September since I wanted to get it out before I had my second child, but with all the work required for launch promo it’s probably best to wait a couple of months to get a handle on the baby blues and sleepless nights. And 11-11-11 is way too cool of a date to pass up!

Well, I’m a list maker (you probably could tell by all my bulleted previous posts) and something about this stacked plan makes me rest a little easier.

1) Get the MS back from the editor-make all changes and send it back out for second check (Still a good idea, but send it out to as many beta readers as possible prior so that you don’t make costly changes after you sent it to the editor…found this out the hard way…i.e. pricey way)

2) Create LLC and small press publishing name: Rock Castle Publishing (Many do not take this step although I’m glad I did.)

3) Send blurb out on forums to get feedback (Folks at the Kindle Board Forum are especially helpful for blurb critiques.)

4) Send cover out to forums to get feedback (Again, see Kindle Board Forum.)

5) Make final changes to book and send out to second copy editor (it’s always good to get two pairs of eyes to catch everything) (Actually, I’ve now decided that three sets of eyes are needed. Even after two fantastic editors, I found a few glaring typos after publishing. It cost me double to have my formatter make the changes. It’s cheaper to pay for another proofreader than to have things reformatted, not to mention the embarrassment of having typos.)

6) Make final changes and read through to make sure it’s perfect (Last chance!) (See notes above about betas and a third proof-reader)

7) Sign up and register for copyright (You actually need to do this after you have the print copy in your hand since you need to send it to them and you only have thirty days to do that once you’ve filed.)

8)  Buy 10 ISBNs (I’ll probably get 10 since I have a series and many more books planned) (Many use ISBNs from each distributor, but I find it is much more convenient to have one number for all vendors)

9) Work with my graphics designer to make the POD cover with author photo and book description (Can’t do this until you have the exact page number from the formatter. Plus, have an interesting chapter vignette made to use at the start of each chapter.)

10) Send out to book formatter for B&N, Smashwords, and POD (Createspace) formatting (I know now they’re called epub, mobi, pdf files. If you’re technically skilled, buy a formatting book and do it yourself. It will save you a lot of money for all the books in the future and it’s much easier to make changes.)

11) Send out to book reviewers to review around launch date (Definitely a good idea except that most of your reviewers have long waiting lists. Query as many as you can, but you can always do this after release. Blog tours are a good idea before a release, but only if they specialize in your genre. I used a book tour and should have done more research on the hosts. Many of them were Romance and YA genre fans.)

12) Get quotes from positive reviewers to put on the back of the book & website (Still haven’t done this. I find it is sufficient enough to include my favorites under the blurb.)

13) One month before release send out trailer on all writer’s forums (Make a book trailer if you enjoy it, but it’s not necessary for release, and I didn’t see any sales from posting on the forum. Anything directly promoting your book doesn’t get many views there. I get at least one view of my book trailer page every day so it does get attention on my website at least.)

14) Ask close bloggers to review my book on their blogs or send out the word of the release (My blogger friends were the best! Definitely try to network among other bloggers and authors and trade guest posts for new releases.)

15) Look up all relevant blogs and ask to guest post (I really should do this more when I find the time.)

16) Put up the book for pre-order on Amazon.com (What was I thinking? Amazon does not grant indie authors pre-orders.)

17) When it’s released send out notification on forums, blogs, and websites (Great idea if you have the time, but I found that free promotions are the only thing to affect sales)

18) Get second book out in a few months! (This is critical to building a platform and driving sales…write more..more..more!)

So there it is. I’ve picked a date and I’m going to stick to it. This is actually real…this is going to happen :)

Yes, it did happen and I’m so proud that it has. I’ve accomplished so much. It may have come by trial by fire, but I’ve reached my first goal. I posted up my expenses after the first release (here) and all I wanted was a couple of sales a day to get back the money I put into the book by my first year. Good news is that I have reclaimed my expenses to date (in addition to the money I invested in my second, longer book). Again, I had to do this by putting the first novel free, but I am very happy with my sales. Now, I’m definitely not topping any best seller lists, but the steady sales and positive reviews keep me going. I’m just now bringing in profit to use to get my third book out.

If I could go back one year would I tell myself to send out more query letters? Should I have listened to my dream agent telling me that true series don’t sell? That I should wait a few more years to get reviews that send me bouncing around the house for days? Delay the ecstasy of holding my first book in my hands for another five years?

No way. I might like to whisper a few secrets I’ve learned along the way (uh um…do NOT sign up for KDP select!), but I would push that publish button days earlier.

What an awesome journey this has been! Can’t wait to see what next year—and another release—brings 🙂

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Hey everyone! Sorry I have been absent lately, but I’m knee-deep in author interviews for a little blog tour this week. My blogging pal, Sara Flower, let me know about this inexpensive blog tour site, Full Moon Bites. If you’d like to check any of the stops out, here’s the schedule:

June 3rd- The Jeep Diva (Review) (Author Interview) (Book Review/Author Interview)
June 4th- Erotic Romance With a Bite…Leigh Savage (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 5th- What’s Hot? (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 5th– Heart Of A Wolf (Book Review/Promo Post)
June 6th- Simply Infatuated (Promo Post)
June 7th- The Book Connoisseur (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 8th- D. VonThaer (Book Review/Author Interview)
June 9th- Turning The Pages (Promo Post)
June 9th- A Page Away (Book Review/Promo Post)

 

 

Be back soon 🙂

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Okay, so I’ve promised some hard numbers to let you all know if it is a good idea to make your first book of a series free and here it is. Due to so many different price points were experimented with, borrows, and different royalty rates, I’m only going to report the quantity sold to avoid confusion.

(Please bring your expectations down a bit before I divulge since I’m in no ways a bestseller at this point, but I’m so pleased with the progress this promotion has brought.)

Before this free promotion, I’ve sold a total of…

(wait for it)

9 ebooks of Infinite Devotion since publishing in mid-February to mid-March!

(I know pretty underwhelming.)

Since publishing Infinite Sacrifice since mid-November—not including free promotions—I’ve sold 50 ebooks.

So, up until my prolonged free promotion, that’s a total of—hold on I need to whip my calculator out to compile such a monstrous number—59 sales!

Since the free promotion began mid-March I’ve given away 7,070 copies of Infinite Sacrifice.

Yay!

I’ve sold 73 ebooks of Infinite Devotion since the promotion, with an additional 2 copies of Infinite Devotion and 6 copies of Infinite Sacrifice in the UK (still hasn’t price matched there yet).

Yippee!

So, I’ve sold more and made more money this month than I have since November.

Plus, I’ve received stellar reviews and ratings on Amazon, Goodreads, and Shelfari. (Priceless!)

Wahoo!

(It doesn’t take much to make me happy)

I saw increase in the second book immediately and the sales have been steadily increasing. If even 10% of the 6,700 people who have downloaded it this month alone, return to buy the second book that will be 670 sales!

Well, I probably shouldn’t count all my eggs yet, but I’m hopeful that this trend will only improve.

This only makes me wish I had Infinite Loss to release since my sales would probably double, but I can’t rush it out. It is motivation to finish it since the more books I have out, the better my sales. If sales continue at this rate (or increase *crosses fingers*) then it will chip away at the $3,000 expense of getting both books out. Once I pay that all back, the rest will be profit from then on. That is the beauty of ebooks, once you pay back your investment it can continue bringing in income without additional expense.

So will I be continuing this free promotion?

Yes, I’m going to keep this up. It’s getting my book out there.

Now if I could only make it free on Amazon UK!

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I thought it would be fun to share with you all the playlist I listened to as I wrote Infinite Sacrifice. Even though they’re not the exact songs I listened to (I couldn’t find them on YouTube), they’re similar. I kept these songs on repeat every time I wrote, hoping it would help me create the ambience I needed for world building. I especially recommend doing this when you’re writing historical pieces.

 

 

Ancient Egypt:

 

 

 

 

Ancient Sparta:

 

 

 

Viking:

 

 

Medieval London:

 

 

 

 

 

I happened upon this little jewel and included it just for kicks 🙂

 

 

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Wow, I’ve never seen my book fly this fast!

Yesterday afternoon, Infinite Sacrifice took off and I couldn’t believe how quickly it’s being downloaded. It’s now #1 on both the historic fantasy and Epic free list, and #84 on the free kindle list. Best of all, I’ve sold five times the usual sales for Infinite Devotion. I can’t believe I’m seeing results this soon.

I hope it keeps up!

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The birds are chirping, the trees are budding, and I’m trying out a new promotional strategy!

Spring has arrived early and made me want to get outside more to write in my hammock. So where am I going to find that time?

Less time promoting.

*Cheers!*

I got this idea after I noticed there were a bunch of first books of a series hanging around at the top of the free kindle charts— month after month. I watched to see if they fell in rankings over time, but the downloading stayed strong and they ruled the free top ten. I also noticed that many of these authors’ other books held high positions in the paid rankings.

Then I read this wonderful guest post on David Gaughran’s blog by Sarah Woodbury. She revealed how she needed something to boost her lagging sales and stay afloat as many authors experimented with the new KDP select option. So she made her prequel free for the last four months and, wow, was she successful.

Well, that blog sold me, and it took a few weeks to make my first novel free.

Reasons:

  • This type of promotion works well with a series.
  • I made my first book shorter specifically so that I could have the option of doing this sort of promotion at lower cost (i.e. editors & formatters charge less for shorter books).
  • I’ve sold it for five months and made back enough that I can make it free for a bit.
  • I want (need) to write more and promote less, and being on the free list can do my promoting for me. I’ll never get this third book out if I have to keep flagging people toward my book.
  • Truth is, I want readers. I know that it’s hard to trust a book with an unknown author and, with the happy price of free, more people will pick up my first book. If they like it, then I’ve got a reader for my whole series.
  • I would like more reviews. When you have massive downloads of a book, odds are some of them will leave reviews. Like it or hate it, I just love to see what readers experience after reading my book.
  • I made my second book, Infinite Devotion, $3.99. That way, if a reader enjoys my series and writing style they will invest more. Then I can make up for the sale of the first book with a happy costumer. If someone didn’t like the series, then they lose nothing.

I’m going to see how well this works for a month and then decide if I want it to stay free for longer. I will report back here to let everyone know how it worked out.

If you haven’t picked up a free copy yet, grab one up either on Amazon or at Smashwords.

Of course, if you want to thank me for the freebie, please, please, please *kneels* let me know what you think of it on Amazon, Smashwords, or Goodreads (or anywhere else!).

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