Year in Review: 2016

The year 2016 has been a roller-coaster-ride of a year. Between wars, crazy politics, and the huge number of celebrity deaths (on that note, I’m not a religious person, but isn’t there something in the bible about good people being sent to heaven right before the apocalypse, leaving only the sinners left on earth to suffer? Anyway…) a lot of us are ready to kiss 2016 goodbye.

But it wasn’t all bad! This year, I’m proud to say I became a published author, one of my life-long dreams. So below is my Year in Review for 2016, highlighting the milestones (some writing-related, some not) that have defined my personal journey this year.

I really encourage you all to sit down and make a similar list. What were the moments in 2016 you were proud of? No matter how big or small, try to remember every moment that made you happy. Did you reconnect with an old friend? Get acknowledged for your hard work? Meet a fitness goal? Find a new favorite movie?

Make the list, and if you still feel rotten about 2016, do what my friends and I are doing on New Year’s Eve: build a bonfire and burn 2016 calendars. I think it will be pretty cathartic.

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.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday to Me!

Merry Christmas! Today also happens to be my birthday!

This post will be short and sweet, with a quick update on Grigory’s Gadget:

Last week, I received my copy edits from the editors at  Writership. My sentiments about this are summed up well by this quote from one of my favorite authors, Gail Carriger:

Meanwhile, I get Book 1 fixes from editor. I had been led to believe I might cry, so it is a nice surprise to find I can cope with equanimity. Of course, most of the edits were ones I knew I should do, but didn’t want to because I’m lazy. Mark my words; a good editor ALWAYS catches you out.

(source)

So, moving forward, I will be spending all of my time curled up in a cozy corner of my apartment, sipping either tea, coffee, or hot chocolate (as I see fit), editing away. I need to have my text and interior formatting complete by mid-January (so the designers at Deranged Doctor Design can create the cover!), so I will be a busy bee for the next couple weeks!

I hope you all enjoy the holidays, and if you’re in the Northeastern US like I am, enjoy this beautifully mild weather!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week’s blog post comes early, and will be short and sweet, because holidays 😉

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving (quite belated if you’re Canadian, sorry! 😉 )

Quick update on Grigory’s Gadget: I just sent my manuscript to the Writership editors on Friday for copy editing! I’m also starting to work with Deranged Doctor Design to start my cover and map designs. Very exciting stuff!

How I Found My Professional Editor

Good editing is vital for a good book. If you really want your book to shine, you need a professional editor. Editing your book yourself is great and all, but getting another, professional set of eyes can make a huge difference.

If you’re publishing traditionally, your publishing house likely has its own editor(s) on hand to work on your book. However, if you, like me, are self-publishing, you need to find an editor yourself. So how do you do that?

I consider myself very lucky, because the process turned out to be pretty easy for me. I discovered a website called Writership, which appealed to me for two reasons: 1) it was a website about writing, and 2) it had a nautical theme, which is a weakness of mine. When I first discovered them, they had a blog filled with writing advice, as well as a running and frequently-updated list of excellent writing prompts.

Shortly after I initially found them, they started looking for submissions for a new podcast they were working on. The topic of the podcast? Editing! They were looking for submissions of 5 pages of writing, that they then critiqued and discussed in each episode. I of course jumped on that opportunity, submitting the first 5 pages of my draft of Grigory’s Gadget. My critique was featured in their second episode, which you can listen to here!

I enjoyed their critique so much that when it came time to find an editor for my entire manuscript, the choice was obvious. They displayed everything I could look for in an editor:

  • They had a clear knack for the art of writing
  • All of their criticisms were constructive and coherent
  • They “got” my story.

This last point is important – you want to find an editor who understands and enjoys your genre. A romance editor is probably not the best choice for a horror novel, and vice versa! Add their reasonable pricing (based on my research of what to expect to pay for this type of editing), and the choice really was a no-brainer.

I’m finishing-up my manuscript now, and awaiting the funds from my Indiegogo Campaign (read about that here). Once that’s settled, I’ll send off my manuscript to Writership!

What I Learned From My Indiegogo Campaign

Background: I recently ran an Indiegogo Campaign to help fund my debut novel, Grigory’s Gadget. Since I’ve decided to self-publish, the cost of professional editing, cover design, etc. is my burden, rather than a publisher’s. For the editors and designers I’ve decided to work with (Writership and Deranged Doctor Design) that burden summed up to about $2,570. As a young professional fresh out of graduate school, I don’t exactly have that money lying around. That’s why I ran my campaign.

How I Set Up My Campaign: Two of the main things you have to figure out before launching a crowdfunding campaign are:

  • What will your contributors receive (perks)?
  • What is your funding goal?

You’ll want to set incentives for people to contribute to your campaign. If you, like me, are trying to fund a book, a copy of that book is an obvious choice. My list of perks included a copy of the eBook and/or a signed copy of the paperback. I also listed a bookmark among the perks, since Deranged Doctor Design includes bookmark design in their packages, and they’re pretty easy to produce. Then I got a little more creative. I make candles as a hobby, so another perk I added was a Grigory’s Gadget candle. I also used the website Adagio Teas to create custom blends themed around places and characters in my novel. It’s completely free to create the blends, and they’re affordable to purchase. Finally, I designed a simple Steamship Pirate t-shirt through Staples. Who doesn’t like a t-shirt? Basically, you want to create a range of perks to appeal to a range of people with a range of budgets.

You may notice that most of these perks cost money to produce, and then to ship. This is very important when determining the goal for your campaign. If I wanted to cover my costs of $2,570, my goal needed to be higher than that. To figure out how much higher, I made a spreadsheet of all of my perks, how much they cost to produce, how much they cost to ship, and how much I wanted them to be worth. I calculated how much profit I would make off of each perk, after Indiegogo’s fees, to then calculate how much I would need to sell to make that profit of $2,570. It wound up averaging to about $4,000*.

*I just want to pause here to highlight an important aspect of crowdfunding. If you run a campaign through Indiegogo, you can choose to go with their “Flexible Funding” option. This means that you keep whatever money you make, regardless of whether or not you hit your goal. Conversely, if you go through a website like Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. With websites like that, you want to set your goal to something you’re fairly confident you can actually achieve. Since I had the Flexible Funding option, I went all-in with the total I would need to cover everything.

When all was said and done, and my campaign ended, I had raised $2,021: 51% of my goal. While that won’t cover all of my expenses related to my book, it’ll put a hell of a dent in them!

Lessons Learned:

  • Market your campaign before-hand: Let people know your campaign is coming, and when it will start. Start with friends, families, and anyone else you know who might want to contribute. This also gives those people a chance to spread the word to their own contacts.
  • Market your campaign consistently through its entire duration: A common mistake with crowdfunding campaigns is that people start the campaign and then let it sit there. Remind people about your campaign. Tweet, post on Facebook, use whatever other platforms you’re familiar with. If you don’t tell anyone about your campaign, and if you don’t remind people about your campaign, you won’t get very many (if any) contributions. People are busy, forgetful, waiting for a paycheck, etc. Don’t be a nag, but don’t ignore your campaign, either.
  • Get family and friends to reach out to their own contacts: Some people feel awkward about asking their friends and family for contributions. I completely understand that instinct, but it’s one you absolutely have to get over. The vast majority of my contributions came from friends and family members. The second-biggest group of contributions came from friends-of-friends and family-friends. Only two contributions came from complete strangers. Use any networks you have in place, and you’ll be much more successful. People that already know and like you are much more likely to support you.

Those are my lessons learned! Good luck with your own crowdfunding campaigns!

Update 10/24/2015

Hello and welcome to my new blog page! I’ve decided to move from the Wix blog site to WordPress. The old posts can still be found here.

In other news, we’re more than halfway through my Indiegogo Campaign to support Grigory’s Gadget! With just 17 days to go, we’ve raised $1,195! Thank you all so much for your support!

Grigory's Gadget Indiegogo

I’m continuing to edit Grigory’s Gadget in preparation for sending it off to the editors at Writership. Beyond that, I will be working with the artists at Deranged Doctors Design for my book cover, map, and marketing materials.

Stay tuned for more news! And please consider contributing to and sharing my Indiegogo campaign!