Local Author Self-Publishes New Novel

For release on Tuesday, September 10th.
For additional information or interview, contact Rebekah Berthet or Candy Shaw: (315) 788-0825

WATERTOWN, NY - Christopher Hopper signs a copy of The Sky Riders for fans at The Vault in New Life Christian Church

WATERTOWN, NY – Christopher Hopper signs a fans book at The Vault in New Life Christian Church. Photo by Joseph Gilchrist.

Local Author Self-Publishes New Novel

CLAYTON, NY – What do vintage airships, giant birds, floating cloud cities and steam-powered engines all have in common? If you guessed local author Christopher Hopper’s new steampunk epic, then you’d be spot on. The Sky Riders, Hopper’s seventh novel to date, hits digital and physical bookshelves today via Amazon.

“This is really exciting for me,” says Hopper, a resident of the Town of Clayton. “From right here in the 1000 Islands, I get to publish my novels worldwide, all because technology has made it easier to reach fans.”

Formerly with traditional legacy publishers like Thomas Nelson Inc. and Tsaba House Inc., Hopper is one of the growing body of writers who’ve jumped ship to self-publish. Bowker Identifier Services reports that there are over 235,000 self-published titles now for sale, a 287% growth surge since 2006. And with entities like Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace—both Amazon companies—self-publishing for digital and print has become more accessible, and more lucrative. Bookstats reported that 2012 sales figures of ebooks hit $3.04 billion, which gives Hopper even more reason to be excited.

“Where you’d only make between 8-15% with a legacy publisher,” says Hopper, “my lowest royalty bracket with self-publishing is 30%, and my highest is 70%.”

While some ask Hopper about the readers he’s missing out on by abandoning the traditional publishing route, he’s quick to correct them. “I was missing huge amounts of readers with traditional publishing, as they were mainly targeting book stores. Today, I have instant distribution to millions of Kindle and Nook readers, and sales up are up over 300% from my legacy publishing days. The bottom line is that I’m reaching more readers with less work than ever before.”

Thinking of self-publishing your own title? Not so fast. “It’s a lot of work,” admits Hopper. “But outsourcing exterior and interior design, for example, as well as shopping for editing services, can help people where they might be weak.”

If you’re still wondering just how to self-publish through something like Amazon, Hopper has an answer for that too. He published his Handbook to Publishing Your Novel ebook last December.

From where Hopper sits atop his floating cloud cities in his fictional world, the future is bright for readers and authors alike, and the return is anything but make believe.

The Sky Riders is available locally at The Vault in New Life Christian Church, as well as online at http://www.christopherhopper.com. •

Kindle: The Skeleton Project

When you work closely with someone, you sometimes take for granted that they have other ideas besides the ones you’re developing together.

Oh. Wayne Thomas Batson writes other incredible stuff besides The Berinfell Prophecies.

So I get this info in an email late last night:

If you’re a Wayne Thomas Batson reader, rejoice! Gone are the days of waiting a year for the next story. While working on several novels to hit the shelves later this year, Mr. Batson is releasing a whole array of new stories on Kindle (and then other formats).

The first release is The Skeleton Project, a quirky, scifi, mystery thriller with a wee bit of humor. The Skeleton Project is now live on Amazon for just $1.29!

I’m already a third of the way through this short story and loving it. If this is a sign of the sort of serial-storytelling that we can expect from Wayne in the future, bring it on. ch:

Review Athera’s Dawn

Would you mind reviewing Athera’s Dawn on Amazon?

Yes, reviews help sell books. Because people take them seriously.

So I’m asking for those who’ve read the book to take five minutes and write a simple review of your impressions.

Sure, if you hated it, please abstain from writing a review, though I can’t stop you. That’s the beauty of capitalism in a free-market. However I’d sure appreciate positive reviews.

Thanks in advance!


A Guide to Self-Publishing: Publishing Print Books

Publishing today is about making your book easily available to the widest possible audience. This means covering an expansive but ever narrowing range of formats and delivery systems. And while ebook sales are rising exponentially each quarter, having a print version is still needed.

At least for now.

The reality is there will be people who always love physical books. Like there are still people (like me) who like vinyl records. No one intends to get rich off them, but the manufacturer will at least make a few dollars and satisfy a small demographic. Meanwhile there’s kudos points for making a rudimentary collectors edition for those that want to place the work on display in their house.

Never before has it been so easy (for both author and consumer) and so cost-effective to turn your manuscript into print form.

Enter CreateSpace.com.

Essentially CreateSpace is a filing, ecommerce display, order fulfillment, printing, and delivery system.

The moment a consumer or retailer on any purchasing vehicle even remotely connected or affiliated with Amazon.com clicks “BUY” on your book, something magical happens.

The interior and exterior PDFs that you’ve painstakingly designed and uploaded to CreateSpace are called up into their printing presses in Charlotte, NC, and manufacture a specific book(s) to meet that order. Then that book is packaged and shipped, and collected monies are gathered and issued to you in check form at the end of every month.

It’s print-on-demand (POD) but with publisher-level quality, and without paying for huge runs and warehousing fees up front.

CreateSpace allows you as an author to buy your own books at cost and ship them anywhere you want. You can order 1 or 1,000 or 628. It doesn’t matter.

The best part is the book is permanently available and will never be blacklisted.

While you’re in the process of uploading your PDFs for a new title, you have a number of choices to make. Here’s a look at a title’s dashboard:

The first is what ISBN you’re going to use. You’re required to have one for each title, and there are a few options.

The easiest and the one I used is the free option: CreateSpace uses their ISBN numbers and gives you one. The pro is it’s free; the con is CreateSpace is listed as a cooperating entity under you as author/publisher should anyone dive into the details of the ISBN search results. This is only detrimental if a particular retailer doesn’t like CreateSpace. It doesn’t not affect your legal right to the book, its distribution, or its ownership.

You can opt to pay for a premium ISBN that’s registered to you.

And further still you can use your own if you’ve bought one (or a block) from Bowker. This is the most expensive but the most proprietary way.

Next you’ll need to decided where you want your books sold and for how much. This is listed under Sales Channels.

First up is selecting where people can buy them.

They give you a free CreateSpace page for each title. A book sold here will get the best royalty rate (almost 50%); the second highest is on Amazon (roughly 25%); the lowest is through secondary channels (retailers/wholesalers). You get to chose exactly where the books can be sold here. I recommend keeping all options selected for widest distribution and availability. Even at the lowest rate I make more per copy than my best legacy publisher rate.

Secondly, you’ll be promoted to set a sales price.

CreateSpace has a very convenient calculator that calculates the cost of manufacturing your book based on page count and materials, and then shows you the minimum prices you can charge without going in the red (and still make a profit yourself). For The White Lion Chronicles, the magic number where I was making positive income across all sales channels was at $16 USD. It was a little more than I wanted to charge, but allowed me to set competitive prices for books being sold to schools, institutions, and libraries.

Many people ask me about copyrighting their manuscripts. Legally, as soon as you’ve created a work, it’s yours, and by virtue of the fact that you made it, it’s therefore copyrighted. Proving that you made it (and own that copyright) is another story.

Some people feel very strongly about filing all their works of art with the IS Copyright Office in Washington, DC. But the reality is that if you’re printing (and therefore publishing) your own book through CreateSpace, and assigning an ISBN to it (listed with your name referenced to it), a court will see that alone as ample evidence that you’re the copyright holder. Putting “(c) date, your name” in the front matter of your book is just fine. And should you ever want to get the US Copyright Office in on validating it, fill out their form and send two copies of your book and a check for $35 USD to their office.

One operations note with editing details on a title listed with CreateSpace: while you’re extremely free to edit information – from the author bio to sales channels selections – any changes take a few days to go through and effectively remove the title from access temporarily. This may have even changed since I read about it last fall, but I’m too skittish to even try. Do your best to ensure that what you post the first time is the proper information; the same goes for Kindle Direct Publishing.

Turn around time for initial approval of your book is about 48-hours. Then you can order a proof (highly recommended); that will arrive in about 7 business days. Make sure you account for that time, and then review of that proof with any changes you need to make when considering a release date. I’d build a solid month into your timeline as it always takes longer than you think. Once you’ve reviewed the proof and made necessary changes, you can order a new proof (another 7 days!), or you can hit the magic “accept” button that essentially publishes the book. It’s a super cool feeling. And seeing your first book sales pop up on your sales reporting dashboard is pretty exciting.

Here’s what The White Lion Chronicles look like:

There are a few other POD style companies out there, but the authors I follow recommended CreateSpace, so I tend to follow. It’s been a fantastic experience so far, and I have hundreds of happy customers. My wife is happy too as the checks keep rolling in each month.

Tomorrow I’ll cover all-too-cool publishing of ebooks, by far the forefront of publishing in 2012 and beyond. ch:

CSFF Blog Tour Features VAS

Venom and Song is being featured by 30 bloggers as part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour today thru Wednesday. I’ve been a long time fan (and participant) of CSFF, though the last year has seen more of my absence than not.

For all those readers dropping by from the tour, welcome! And thanks for looking around. Sir Wayne and I very much appreciate your patronage and trust of the CSFF community. For those wanting to read what the tour participants are posting, I’ve placed their blog links below.

What was the last book you read that was recommended by a CSFF blogger? ch:

Angela, Brandon Barr, Keanan Brand, Amy Browning, Beckie Burnham, Morgan L. Busse, Melissa Carswell, Jeff Chapman, Valerie Comer, Amy Cruson, CSFF Blog Tour, D. G. D. Davidson, April Erwin, Tori Greene, Ryan Heart, Bruce Hennigan, Timothy Hicks, Becky Jesse, Cris Jesse, Jason Joyner, Julie, Carol Keen, Krystine Kercher, Dawn King, Leighton, Rebecca LuElla Miller, John W. Otte, Donita K. Paul, Chawna Schroeder, Tammy Shelnut, James Somers, Kathleen Smith, Rachel Starr Thomson, Robert Treskillard, Steve Trower, Fred Warren, Jason Waguespac, Dona Watson, Phyllis Wheeler, Jill Williamson

The New Morality of Brand Loyalty: from books to basketball

the new morality of brand loyalty christopher hopper

If you’re over the age of 30, you probably remember shopping at a particular store simply because your family were “faithful patrons.” A locally owned grocery store, hardware store, deli, or toy store. It meant you drove out of the way to buy from a trusted vendor, worked on a first name basis, and even purchased products knowing full well you could find them a few cents cheaper somewhere else. To those that remember, it was the way “things were done.” To those who don’t, it’s a foreign concept entirely.

But today, I primarily think about just two things when purchasing anything in 2010: 1) Where’s the cheapest place I can buy it? 2) How quickly can I get it without spending too much for the acquisition?

So how did I get from seeing my parents build 30+ year relationships with certain business owners to not eve caring what name appeared at the top of my receipts?

I have a theory.

The Internet taught me that online providers can sell products far less than I could find them in retail stores (low overhead, greater volume), and further still,  Google taught me I can search among those multiple virtual market places to find the best price. Because in the end, it’s all about me. Everything caters to my needs for expediency, customer experience, and price. Amazon saves my searches and recommends products; iTunes is so genius it tells me what songs I’ll like next; and Wal-Mart won’t even charge me shipping if it kind find what I want in their retail store.

Sure, their might be some semblance of brand loyalty hidden in the recesses of my heart, but more likely manifest in the need for desiring community with the “store closest to my work place” then true brand loyalty to a store owner’s benefit. Shoot, even my perceived brand loyalty to Apple would change the day their OS felt more like Windows than I was comfortable with.

I’m really just a shallow shopper.

As a result, retail stores learned they needed to make their prices more competitive, create franchises rather than one-of’s, provide online versions of their chain stores, and use eye-catching marketing to secure trendy buyers. With a few exceptions, mom-and-pops die off and price becomes king.

But is that where it ends? Has this new era of me-economics affected our morality as a culture, too?

Admittedly, I am not a basketball fan. But not even I could avoid the headlines of LeBron James‘ highly controversial switch from the Cavaliers to the Heat. And if you caught any version of any part of his interviews, it was apparent it really all came down to one thing: LeBron winning championships. For himself.

Forget the team that took a chance and made him the superstar he is today. It’s not about loyalty. It’s about me.

And then there’s employment. Ask the average teen or twenty-something how many jobs they’ve had in the last three years, and then what their plans are for the next ten. I know older Americans who’ve spent their whole lives working for an employer simply because their company helped put food on their table and kept the lights on. To them, to even think of changing jobs was tantamount to blasphemy.

Even the Church is fair game. Don’t like how you feel? The Pastor is too dressy, too casual? The worship not hip enough? A particular message offended you? That’s OK, you can shop around for the right church. And shoot, if you don’t find it, there’s church online.

And yet, there were basketball fans that cried faux pas when LeBron made his announcement…not just Cav fans. And I do know people that won’t set foot in an FYE, opting to for a crusty, hole-in-the-wall record store. And I’ve even had the privilege to meet congregants who stayed on through pastoral changes in leadership, opting to value the whole church above their personal desires.

Even I, while on tour, much prefer visiting the restaurants that make a city special than eating in the national chains with microwaved food.

But is this sort of person the exception, or is a possible return to the values of our parents’ and grandparents’ approaching?

Is it too idealistic to believe the general public lives above the power of the almighty dollar? Do you shop somewhere simply out of principle? Or has the trend of self-driven purchasing power even affected our loyalties to our employers and our churches? ch:

CotSK Amazon Blitz Today!

amazon cotsk

Hey gang! Today, October 7th, is our “let’s blitz Amazon” day. We’re asking all of our friends to rally behind us and pre-order Curse of The Spider King, helping shoot the book up on the national ranking. For anyone that purchases the book today, please email me a digital copy of your receipt (ie. forward the receipt email), and Wayne and I will send you an autographed book plate to stick on the inside of your edition. Thanks again for jumping into the fray with us! ch: