One Year After Publishing Grigory’s Gadget – What I’ve Learned

Sunday, March 12th, marks one year since Grigory’s Gadget was published!

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Since about a year has passed since publication (wow!), I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned in terms of writing, publishing, marketing, and more.

In terms of writing, I’ve discovered that it gets a lot harder after publishing a book! There’s an added pressure that simply doesn’t exist if you’re an unpublished author. Now I need to finish the next book – people are waiting! I can’t just push it aside for months or years, nor can I switch gears to work on a different project. Well, I could, I guess. But my personality won’t allow it!

One thing that surprised me about this process is which distribution channels sold the most books. Most information on the internet would suggest that eBooks are the way to go in this regard. However, as you can see on the chart below, I’ve sold almost a majority of my books through vending events and consignment.

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I have attended 8 vending events since publishing Grigory’s Gadget (and I have two more this month!). These events, combined with selling books by word-of-mouth, have proven to be the best way to get my book out there.

Smashwords was my second-most successful distribution channel, thanks in large part to their sale events they have multiples times per year. Amazon, via Kindle Direct Publishing for eBooks and CreateSpace for paperbacks, was also successful.  Books sold through Indiegogo and Amazon were pre-sale books. IngramSpark by far is the least successful distribution channel. I still suggest that self-publish authors utilize this channel, however, if you have any interest in getting your book into brick-and-mortar stores.

Another factor that contributes to the success, or lack-there-of, of each distribution channel is the fact that I haven’t done much in the way of advertising. I’ve dabbled a bit in Facebook and Amazon ads, but never saw an impressive return on either. I’ve done a couple interviews, and had my book reviewed on a few blogs. I’ve also started to utilize Newsletter Swap, which actually seems to have boosted my sales quite a bit. (By the way, if you haven’t already, you should join my email list!)

For now, I still won’t be putting a lot of money and effort into advertising, since writing is still a (passionate) hobby for me. For the time being, most of my writing-related efforts will be directed toward the actual act of writing. I need to finish the first draft of Serafima’s Stone!

Have you grabbed a copy of Grigory’s Gadget? In celebration of its anniversary, Grigory’s Gadget will be on sale throughout the month of March!

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Find the eBook on Amazon and Smashwords!

Get the discounted paperback through my CreateSpace eStore using the code 8CAZ5J8X!

Taking Publishing Into Your Own Hands – My Indie Author Day Presentation

“On October 8, 2016, nearly 300 libraries across North America invited thousands of local writers in their communities to join them for a day of celebration and inspiration devoted to indie authors. During the inaugural Indie Author Day, libraries big and small hosted events where local authors connected, networked, shared experiences and offered advice to one another, while also featuring locally-written books to library patrons in their communities.” – Indie Author Day

I attended Indie Author Day 2016 at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library downtown location. In addition to connecting with local authors and publishers, I also had the privilege of giving a presentation on the self-publishing process titled “Taking Publishing Into Your Own Hands”.

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I received a wonderful response from the attendees of Indie Author Day; everyone seemed to really like my presentation and some requested a copy of the presentation. So, I obliged!

A PDF of the slides is available here: taking-publishing-into-your-own-hands

In the presentation, I go over the differences between traditional and self/independent publishing, pros and cons, expected costs, and some lessons learned. I also included links to my favorite indie publishing resources:

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Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

In other news, I’m currently in the process of revamping my website by moving from Wix to Bluehost/Wordpress. The transfer will take a bit of time, as will setting up the new site. You can find updates regarding my website by following me on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ll try to keep you posted in my weekly blog posts as well!

Indie Author Day Update!

Next Saturday, October 8th, is the inaugural Indie Author Day! During the Inaugural Indie Author Day, libraries from all across North America will host their own local author events with the support of the Indie Author Day team. In addition to these local programs, each library’s indie community will come together for an hour-long digital gathering at 2 pm Eastern featuring Q&A with writers, agents and other industry leaders.

I will be vending at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Downtown Central Location that day from 10am to 3pm. In addition, I’ll be giving a presentation on the self-publishing process titled “Taking Publishing Into Your Own Hands”!

If you’re in the Buffalo area, come by and say hi! If you’re anywhere else, find out if your local library is holding their own Indie Author Day event! Go forth and support your local library and authors!

Indie Author Day!

I recently heard about a new event coming up this fall: Indie Author Day. From their website:

During the Inaugural Indie Author Day on October 8, 2016, libraries from all across North America will host their own local author events with the support of the Indie Author Day team. In addition to these local programs, each library’s indie community will come together for an hour-long digital gathering at 2 pm Eastern featuring Q&A with writers, agents and other industry leaders. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity for libraries and authors to connect on both local and global levels!

I think this is a fantastic idea! I love the idea of indie authors and libraries boosting each other up. The book industry can be a pretty crazy place, and we all need to support each other.

I’m hoping to help organize a local event here in Buffalo. Curious to see if your library is hosting an event? You can find the list of participating libraries on the website. You can also reach out to the event organizers to try to get your library involved if you don’t already see it on the list.

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

I recently finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir on my brand-new Kindle (side note: I think I’ve been converted to eBooks…I never thought this would happen…but it’s just. so. CONVENIENT!) and long story short, I loved it!

I became interested in this book 1) because I like science fiction but especially 2) because it’s a self-published novel that BLEW UP in popularity and had a successful, popular movie adaptation (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but will watch it soon now that I’ve read the book). As a self-published author, this book represents a dream-come-true.

The book starts off with a team of astronauts on Mars who get caught in a sandstorm. The storm is so bad that they have to abort their mission and fly home only days (well, sols, in this case) after getting to the red planet. In all the chaos, astronaut Mark Watney is badly injured and lost in the storm, presumed dead and left behind as the other astronauts fly away. But, of course, he’s not dead. And now he has to figure out not only how to survive but how to get home.

This book is problem-solving session after problem-solving session, and it made my little engineer heart happy. If you’re a fan of the Apollo 13 movie (which obviously is based on a true story, not science fiction) imagine that but 1000x more complicated. The book is a roller coaster ride of “Oh, god, can’t Mark catch a break?” and “Oh yeah! Mark figured it out!” with a few “Oh no, Mark did NOT figure that one out!” thrown in for good measure.

My main criticism for the book is that the handful of chapters that are written in 3rd person (most of the book is in the form of daily logs from Mark) felt somewhat unfinished. They felt a little bare-boned (He said this then did that). At times it took away some of the heart of the story, as the only character that was really characterized effectively was Mark. But, we do spend the most time with Mark and he is the focal point of the story.

My only other criticism of this book is the ending. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending. On the one hand, it did make sense to end where it did, but my first reaction when I got to the last page was “Oh, that’s it?”.

Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend to anyone who enjoys problem-solving!

Some Inspirational Photos for Serafima’s Stone

I’m currently taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo, writing the first draft of Serafima’s Stone – Book 2 of the Gaslight Frontier Series! The draft is going swimmingly (well, mostly treading water and a little doggy paddling), so I thought I’d give you a little tease in the form of some of my reference images.

Compared to Grigory’s Gadget, the setting of Serafima’s Stone is much more varied! Grigory’s Gadget was pretty water-logged, taking place primarily on ships. In Serafima’s Stone, we’ll see what the landlubbers are up to.

We start here:

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That is the Summer Palace of the Royal Family of the Empire of Starzapad. (Actually, it’s Peterhof Palace in Russia, and fun fact, I’ve totally been there! It’s just as cool in person) This is the home of the protagonist of Serafima’s Stone: the Princess Rozaliya.

We don’t stay in the Palace for very long…

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(Artist Unkown)

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(Artist: Vadim Voitekhovitch)

Well that’s a little different…

Then we do a little MORE traveling:

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Yeehaw! We’re going Wild West style!

Fun behind-the-scenes fact: I came up with “Starzapad” by combining the Russian words for “Old” (“stariy”) and “West” (“zapad”). Clever or lazy? I like to think both.

Want to learn more about Grigory’s Gadget? Check out Page One Books, N3rdbomber, and The Blonde Bookworm to read reviews of it, or check out the Goodreads page. Grigory’s Gadget is available in paperback at my eStore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and as an eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo is similar to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November), except it happens in April and July. Its purpose is to encourage writers to simply get words on paper (or word processor). According to the Camp NaNoWriMo About page:

Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and creativity. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers can tackle any project they’d like, including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before, which has a set goal of 50,000 words written in a month. Since Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set your own goal, I chose to aim for 30,000 words in a month, or 1,000 words per day.

The project I’ll be working on is the sequel to Grigory’s Gadget, currently with the working title Serafima’s Stone. If you get my newsletter, you already know that Serafima’s Stone will actually run concurrent with Grigory’s Gadget. It will tell the story of Princess Rozaliya, Heir Apparent of the Empire of Starzapad, whose disappearance sparks a war between Starzapad and Morozhia.

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo: my wonderful editors over at Writership recently came out with an excellent book for anyone struggling to form a good writing habit and/or hone your craft. It’s called Anchor One – Dreamtime, and it’s full of writing exercises and prompts to get those creative juices flowing!

Want to learn more about Grigory’s Gadget? Click here, here, and here to read reviews of it, or click here for the Goodreads page. Grigory’s Gadget is available in paperback at my eStore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and as an eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.