Local Author Self-Publishes New Novel

PRESS RELEASE:
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. •

TSR Comes out Tomorrow!

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Hello, my amazingly faithful Readers!

Tomorrow is the big day: the official release of my 7th full-length novel, The Sky Riders. Even just ten years ago, had you told me that one day I’d not only publish a single novel over 100,000 words, but seven, I would have laughed in your face. So each and every time this “book release” occasion comes around, I’m even more indebted to the following:

• God, for humoring my inabilities with his abilities to produce capabilities.

• My wife and children, for allowing me to spend the long hours needed on my laptop at absurd hours of the day (and night).

• My English teachers, notably Dawn Sandquist and Margaret Grace, who poured into me even when I gave them the deer-in-the-headlights look.

• My writing companions and tour mates who encouraged, taught, corrected and inspired me to grow as a writer: Wayne Thomas Batson, Donita K. Paul, Eric Reinhold, Jonathan Rogers, L.B. Graham, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Gregg Wooding, and Christopher and Allan Miller.

• Former publishers who gave me a shot when I didn’t deserve one: Pam Schwagerl (Tsaba House Inc.), and everyone at Thomas Nelson Inc.

J.A. Konrath for enticing all of us legacy published writers to jump ship and dive into the self-publishing revolution.

Michael A. Stackpole for his abundant wealth of knowledge which he continually gives away for free, but has cost him years of development.

• My Proofies who have leant their selfless eyes to the ARCs I put out. You make me shine.

• The Inkblots, in all our various forms, who met (and will meet again) over pub tables to discuss writing, life and the future.

• The amazing staff, board and congregation of my church, New Life, for believing that my writings are just as much ministry as counseling someone in my office.

• My friends Peter Hopper (and dad), Kirk Gilchrist, Douglas Gresham, Brett Peryer, David Buckles, Joseph Gilchrist, Tony Hayner, Jason Clement, Nathan Reimer, Denis Johnson and Nate Cronk for their conversations, musings and creativity that have inspired me to think hard and dig deep.

And lastly, to my readers. I write every word with you in mind, and couldn’t continue writing without you literally paying my bills. I’m blessed I get to do things I love for a living. It amazes me every day, and I pray I never take it for granted.

Thanks to everyone for purchasing the new book, spreading the word, and leaving honest reviews. (When referencing The Sky Riders on Twitter or Instagram, please try and use #theskyriders or #TSR).

Fly or die,

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GHOST by Wayne Thomas Baston

GHOST cover

By dear friend Wayne Thomas Baston has just released his newest creation to the masses, GHOST. I’ve had the privilege of tracking with this story from its inception, and I’m thrilled to have been asked to help spread the word.

If you’re not familiar with Baston, this is a gripping, riveting introduction – one definitely not for the faint of heart (or weak stomached). And if you’ve been reading Baston for a long time, then be ready for something altogether new.

Thriller meets CSI meets supernatural/paranormal. That’s all I’ll say. Get it, read it, love it.

I will warn younger readers: this book might not be for you. Here’s Wayne in his own words:

For my younger readers, please note that this is a story for older readers. At the very least, age 16+ Why? It won’t be for sex and bad language––that’s a promise. And it won’t be for gratuitous violence either. I’d say the violence and bloodshed would be on par with my pirate books.

So why the audience designation? Two reasons: these books will deal with the criminal element, and some of the scenes / topics may disturb younger readers. Ghost is a special sort of investigator who will go after the worst of the worst criminals, the ones no one else can or will catch. These are villains who have literally been getting away with murder…or worse. Another reason for the change in reading audience is that these books will be on a whole new level of intensity. Seriously. We’re talking, white-knuckle, pit of your stomach, fear. There’s a point to it all as well, and hopefully a message of hope.

So without any further ado, here’s the write-up and links to the Kindle version. (Print version to follow later this summer. Stay tuned).

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_____________

GHOST

“Fans of Lee Child and Jim Butcher will love this series!”
—The Underground

Protector and punisher…

Hunter and hunted…

Down-to-earth and otherworldly…

John Spector, aka GHOST, isn’t your ordinary investigator.

He carries a shiny badge, a billfold ID, and a mysterious silver suitcase. His mission? Seek the forgotten ones, the abandoned ones, the ones no one else can or will help. Visit blunt force trauma upon the world’s blackest souls and deny the devil his day by any means necessary. And never stop. Never.

For more than a decade, the “Smiling Jack” killer has been posting photos of his victims on the Web, daring anyone to catch him, daring anyone to care. But when no missing person files match and no victims are ever found, the FBI closes the case.

Years later, a digital camera washes up on shore, and GHOST finds it. Each macabre photo becomes a clue that will lead GHOST and FBI Special Agent Deanna Rezvani on the trail of one of the most diabolical killers of this world…or beyond.

“No one gets away with murder. Not for long.”

NOTE: This book is intended for mature reading audiences. The appropriate reader age is: 16+

GHOST, available now at: http://is.gd/PHqG2t

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:

RISE OF THE DIBOR free today on Kindle

Been wanting to read RISE OF THE DIBOR but haven’t taken the leap? Then you can download it for free today on your Kindle-enabled device here.

Already have it? Please help me and re-Tweet or Facebook or Google+ or Instagram (pic?) it to your peeps:

RISE OF THE DIBOR is free today on Kindle! tinyurl.com/6r77dkm

Thanks readers!

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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!

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Experimenting with KDP Select’s Free Promo Days

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Some of you on Twitter may have noticed a few tweets go out early in the morning announcing RISE OF THE DIBOR was on the Kindle for free.

It was all true.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has added a new program (“Select”), which allows ebooks to enter an exclusive 3-month minimum “borrowing library,” in which the readers get to borrow the books and the authors split a pot of funds.

It’s a great way to get titles circulating.

But KDP Select also allows you to promote each of your titles for free up five times during their 3-month stay. The catch is, you don’t make any money on sales during those particular days. So why would an author want to do that?

Perhaps a better question is, why wouldn’t an author want to do that?

After gleaning insights from numerous authors on the subject, I decided to commence a little experimenting of my own.

I pulled The White Lion Chronicles from all other retailers (part of KDP Select’s exclusivity policy), and have scheduled a few “free days” in the upcoming three months. Yesterday was merely an attempt at seeing how many downloads would be generated from being listed on Kindle’s free books page without any major marketing push on my end. Granted, in looking for a “control” in my experiment, I shouldn’t have tweeted anything; however I forget I’d previously scheduled a few tweets targeting a handful of free Kindle ebook Tweeters.

Oops.

How much traffic those tweets generated I’ll never know. Except I may or may not have another free ROTD coming up which I won’t be saying anything about (if in fact there was something to announce, which there may or may not be), in the hopes of comparing numbers.

Future free days lay ahead for all three books. And those will be accompanied with larger marketing campaigns, and yes, more Tweets.

What’s the logic behind giving books away for free when I could be making money off them?

Glad you asked.

I think it’s safe to say that by now most of my fans who wanted ATHERA’S DAWN, or any of the other books in the series, have already purchased them. They’ve been out for a few months either as a gorgeous print edition, or as a low-priced ebook available on all formats.

Yet the Kindle reading audience is in the millions.

Millions.

Yesterday ROTD went into the hands of about 1,000 people. Assuming there are a few fans of mine out there who haven’t pulled the trigger on the already low price of $2.99, most of those downloads are new people. And potentially new fans.

Two things happen:

1.) They start talking. If the book is truly good – and capitalism has a way of weeding out good from bad stories and good from bad writing – then it will spread. And so will future sales.

2.) The book’s ranking, ratings, and reviews have the potential to increase, all actions that beget more activity and get the book in more peoples’ hands.

I’m hoping the next big push gets free copies into the hands of thousands of readers – perhaps tens of thousands of readers. Because even then I have only begun to scratch the surface of just how many eyes are on the other side of a Kindle enabled reading device.

Keep your eyes peeled.

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A Guide to Self-Publishing: Publishing eBooks

This one is the big kahuna. The full monty. The one that got away…

…but not this time.

This time you snagged it, reeled it in, and grilled it for dinner.

This is the future of book publishing, and we are living in it. It has never been easier for a writer to reach millions of people globally than it is right now. Amazon continues to push its prices lower on Kindles and get them into as many hands as possible. And contrary to recent statements by union-type elites loyal to the author and consumer gouging practices of the Big 6, successful companies that verge on monopolizing any field do not raise prices but lower them. Consumers and creators benefit. As J.A. Konrath so unabashedly pointed out, it’s cartels and unions that are suffering, and are therefore throwing a hissy fit.

What’s the point?

The fact that you’re missing out on free money as I type this should be at least one motivating factor in getting you to start, finish, or prepare your manuscript for sale as an ebook. Yes, I write because I believe words change culture; I also write because I am compelled to be obedient to what I sense the Holy Spirit is calling me to, and to steward the talent he’s given me; as a blood-bought Christian, I will receive a reward (or lack thereof) in proportion to how I stewarded my gifts here on planet Earth. But I also write because it’s added income for my family, and as a husband and father I care a great deal about being faithful to them. You may not share my spiritual beliefs, but you probably share some of my economic ones.

Selling ebooks is probably the simplest, fastest, and most expansive return on my writing investment I’ve seen yet.

Granted, some authors will sell only a very little. Good books sell, and you should never fault consumers for poor sales performance. Other authors will sell gobs. The man I’ve mentioned above has hit $75,000-$100,000 USD/week multiple times in 2012. He’s fascinating to study, and to read. [Disclaimer to my younger readers: Konrath is brilliant, but at times he's very vulgar so please have a parent per-read a new post if you're unsure].

Me? I’m already making more per month than I ever have with my legacy publishers, and I expect my ebook sales to catch up with 6 months of combined print sales in less than 40 days.

As I’ll discuss tomorrow, I’m still experimenting with promotional tactics and trying to isolate what works and what doesn’t. Proper marketing is a fascinating and ever changing beast.

eBook Conversion

Probably the easiest part of self-publishing, and ironically the most cost-effective and lucrative, waits until the end of this whole process. That is unless you have no intention of providing print editions (which would go against the ideology of providing your books to as many people as possible across every available platform).

All the work you did to organize, edit and layout your manuscript, and to craft and refine a cover, now translates easily into creating an ebook. Essentially the conversion process takes the guts of your text and the front face of your cover and merges them together. If you’re skipping the print edition, then having a finished Word file and a front cover design are all you need.

As mentioned yesterday, I use Glendon & Tabatha Haddix of Streetlight Graphics for all my ebook conversions (and I plan to for a while to come). Here’s a little reasoning on why.

Knowing I’m a geek (nerds don’t make money; geeks do), I felt strongly I could attempt converting my own books. I read multiple tutorials on using MS Word and Adobe InDesign to convert manuscripts to ebooks. Given the amount of extraneous code that Word puts on the back end of a document, and the fact that I generally loathe even opening it (I prefer less clunky, more resource friendly and sleeker applications like TextEdit, Evernote and Scrivener) I decided to put most of my time into using InDesign.

I read tutorials, watched how-to guides, and even had some great dialogue with Adobe staff and one noted independent industry guru (all of whom were very helpful, by the way). But my final products never seemed to add up to something I felt represented my books, and I was sure they’d infuriate my readers. Knowing I had one chance to make my e-reading public happy, I needed a better option.

Kindle will help you convert a manuscript – at least to Kindle. When you create your free Kindle Direct Publishing account, they have options where you can have a KDP tech look at your PDF and give you a quote for converting it. Their base price says $69.00 USD. But my quote came back as $179.00 USD for each title of The White Lion Chronicles, as my PDFs had some “layering issues” they would not elaborate on. Ouch.

But having KDP convert for me was only a quarter of the problem. Since they only convert for Kindle – and holding to my “provide my books in as many formats as possible” mantra – I still had to find a way to convert for all the other formats, including Nook, Kobo, Adobe Digital Editions, Smashwords, Sony eReaders and Apple iBooks.

And people wonder where all my hair went.

By this point in the process I was tired and frustrated. I was emailing my fellow Spearhead authors looking for answers. One of their generous friends from a church in Seattle attempted to assist me; but even he, a former Amazon employee and conversion tech, was having trouble because things had changed since when he left a year ago. (Gulp).

That’s when Wayne Thomas Batson forwarded us all a link to Streetlight. At first none of us could believe their prices were legit. (Their cover prices as well as their package deals are amazing too!). So I wrote them to inquire.

Within a few hours I had a personal reply. What seemed too good to be true turned out to be better than too good. It was great. Not only would they format for Kindle for under $69.00 USD like KDP had quoted me, but they’d also convert to all the other formats I needed for under $69.00 USD per title!

I was beside myself.

Following the recommendation of friends I went and purchased a few randomly selected ebooks Streetlight had done, and the quality was above anything I could produce (and to date I’ve received zero negative feedback – a first for any reading format for me). Glendon & Tabatha are first class communicators and converters.

Distributing Online

Within one month I had The White Lion Chronicles ready to upload to all ebook distributing channels. Here’s what you’ll need to do the same.

1.) Open a free account with Kindle Direct Publishing. This will allow you to distribute your ebook to the largest seller in the world. And my own numbers prove it: more than 90% of my sales are on Kindle. You don’t need an ISBN; KDP has its own internal means of assigning yours books identification, though you can use your own ISBN if you have one.

2.) Open a free PubIt! account with Barnes & Noble which will allow you to distribute to the Nook. The Nook accounts for 2% of my sales to date. Like KDP, PubIt! doesn’t require an ISBN number and will track your ebook internally, but they’ll use your ISBN if you supply it.

3.) Open a free Smashwords account. Smashwords is great because it will allow you to reach all the other digital devices and formats out there, including Apple’s iBooks, and making your manuscript available as a viewable or printable PDF (I feel sorry for that printer!). Unlike KDP and PubIt!, Smashwords does require you to have an ISBN. It’s important to note that you can not use your physical book’s ISBN for your digital books. Your print book and you ebook are separate products (even though they have the same title), so they require different identification. Smashwords has their own batches of ISBNs that – like CreateSpace – list them as an associated entity with you, but does not infringe on your legal or moral rights or royalties. Until I feel like shelling out $1,000.00 USD for a block of 1,000 ISBNs from Bowker, this is the route I went. (Yes, you can buy less ISBNs from Bowker at a time, but the price is ridiculous).

One last note on Smashwords: in order for your book to be listed in something like Apple’s iBook Store, your book must meet their Premium status. Essentially, it needs to be a properly formatted, clean conversion that meets strict guidelines. Which Streetlight’s conversions do. It took almost 3 weeks (as your books wait in line), but eventually they were approved (something you see noted in your Smashwords dashboard).

Why not publish through Apple directly? You certainly can. But Apple tends to work faster with large representation companies (like Smashwords) that funnel huge quantities of titles and authors to them. Plus there’s no guarantee they’ll accept your application (they tend to be picky). There’s no real cost benefit either way, and it’s just one less account I have to monitor. I’m used to this already as my digital music is distributed through a San Francisco based company called IODA that supplies over 350 online retailers with my music, including Apple’s iTunes.

Streetlight provides a free step-by-step guide on how to upload your books and list them, and they alert you to any pitfalls in the process. It needs revising for 2012, but is a very simple and methodical overview of what to expect, and outlines just what you get when they convert your manuscript. (Astounding).

Pricing your ebooks can be a bit daunting. And the truth is you’ll never really know what works for you until you experiment. KDP has set the standard for the most part. At the time of my writing, they have two royalty brackets you can operate within: 30% for books set between $.99 and $2.98 USD, and 70% for books set at $2.99 USD and up. There are many articles and opinions on the best performing price points and why, but you risk getting so distracted you never end up setting a price point at all. All my books are set at $2.99 USD across all digital platforms at present; I may experiment later with dropping that further to $.99 USD.

There is a lot of discussion about the merits of selling ebooks for free in order to grow a fan base. While PubIt! and Smashwords allow this, Kindle does not, unless you’re a directly endorsed Amazon-published author (a whole other subject outside of this guide). KDP will only allow $.99 USD as their lowest price point. I’ll discuss the pros and cons of free in tomorrow’s subject of promotion.

The Future Is Calling

Publishing in the digital world is still in its infancy. But one thing is clear: it’s not going anywhere. Innovators will emerge, new companies will be birthed, and world literacy will grow – one of the best results I can think of.

I’ve heard it rumored that 10 is the magic number. Once an author has 10 titles to his or her name, their money-making abilities are firmly ensconced in the digital world. Call it an algorithm, a hunch, or a marketing ploy by Amazon to get more titles on their virtual shelves, the fact is that that premise will most likely mean little to you if you’re not writing.

So stop reading this and get back to writing. ch:

TWLC eBooks Are Here

In what seems to be the coup de grace for my self-publishing journey thus far, the ebook versions of The White Lion Chronicles are here.

Well, almost.

I wasn’t going to post about them until the largest performing of the formats – the Kindle editions (which ironically enough take the most time for Amazon to process to a publishable state) – were ready. But the expected 24-48-hour estimated timeframe was cut down to only a few hours last night, and poof! they’re ready.

The Smashwords versions are also ready to go (which eventually trickles down to the Apple iBooks versions).

The ones I’m still waiting on are the Barnes & Noble Nook versions. I will be sure to post an update as soon as B&N is done processing the conversions; I expect them to be ready later today. UPDATE: Nook versions are live! See below.

A huge thanks goes to the very helpful, ever insightful, and beyond reasonable services of Glendon and Tabatha Haddix at Streetlight Graphics.

I priced them all at just $2.99 in the hopes that as many people as possible will download and enjoy the novels that have meant so much to me and my family as well as thousands of readers over the past six years.

So please grab them for your favorite e-reader and share the news with your reading friends. Who knows, maybe you’ll even inspire a “non-reader” like I was to discover the breathtaking world of reading. ch:

Rise of the Dibor: Kindle | Nook | Smashwords

The Lion Vrie: Kindle | Nook | Smashwords

Athera’s Dawn: Kindle | Nook | Smashwords

Kindle eBook for 99 cents. No catch.

Many of you will remember L.B. Graham for the 2008 Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour as one of the Enigmatic Eight. (He’s also the one that introduced me to Jack In The Box, and I to him, In-N-Out). L.B. emailed me today to let me know about a huge special his publisher is offering, and I couldn’t help at marvel about the timing, given our discussion last week about eBooks versus traditional publishing. And because I’m such a magnanimous blogger–ever looking for ways to bless my faithful readership, who are themselves, the magnanimouserest–I’m passing it on to you.

“Beyond the Summerland,” Book 1 in the Binding of the Blade series, is now available for just 99 cents! Granted, you’ll need a Kindle, or a conversion app for the iPhone, but at this price, you can’t beat it. He’s even offering it for free if you read further down on his site. Yeah. For free.

Now back to the discussion: Would more books offered at 99 cents entice you to by a Kindle or iPad? If so, how many would you need to see at such prices, and how long before you’d buy a device? And even more importantly, which is superior: Jack In The Box or In-N-Out?  ch: