Original Sketch of Dionia

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A little something noteworthy for TWLC fans:

One of my day-off projects this afternoon was that of gutting and relocating my mammoth bookshelf from one place in our bedroom to another.

The process as an adult is much the same as it was when I was a teen. But instead of my mom “forcefully requesting” me to pick everything up, or my father admonishing me with his ever-practical phrase of, “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” I have a wife who said to me, “All that right there [waving her hand], is not working.”

In other words, pick it up, you bum.

As I cleaned, I couldn’t help but sense the nostalgic emotions often associated with happening upon an old trinket from a loved one, a box stuffed with handwritten notes, or a dated birthday card from an old friend.

My favorite find of the day was happening upon my original notebook for The White Lion Chronicles. While most of the entries were about ten years old, many of the references were to even early concepts dating to 1996. My favorite page was a sketch of Dionia’s map as I first envisioned it.

It’s interesting to review names on it that were changed when I penned the manuscripts. Bor Isle would eventually become The Isle of Kirstel, while the Kaddrak Mountains would be renamed as the realm of Tontha.

But most poignant is the quote at the top of the page’s header, one heavily influenced by a concept I’d adopted from Tolkien:

I believe this wonderful world of Dionia is not something for me to create, but rather, its that the people and this culture already exist and simply need to be discovered.

Journaling about a project is nearly as important as finishing a project. Without finishing, we can not inform the souls of others; without documenting, we can not inform our own.

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!

ch:

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.

ch:

Thanksgiving Day Surprise

UPDATE 11.25: I’m letting my followers read every chapter of Athera’s Dawn right here on my blog.

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The White Lion Chronicles

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I can hardly believe I’m writing this. Athera’s Dawn is finished, and available. For the first time since the books were conceived, the Chronicles are now as a complete trilogy.

And what better day than Thanksgiving to announce this on. I woke up at 6am this morning to the email saying the books were ready to order.

I am so incredibly thankful to God for granting me the opportunity to pen these manuscripts, planting the ideas and the creativity deep with in my spirit to such an extent that they would not let go, even in the darkest of times.

I’m thankful to my wife and children for allowing giving me the freedom to write, even when it meant I had to spend long hours disconnected from them. Even now, Luik is sitting beside me on the couch, the first one up in the house.

I’m thankful for you, my faithful readers, many of whom have been waiting for this end as long as I have. I appreciate you. Long ago I decided that I was writing for your benefit, not mine, only to keep you bound in the doldrums and anticipation. For that I am sorry. But today, I have an answer:

Yes, book three is available!

So please enjoy it. Savor it. Buy copies for family, your friends, and help me spread the word. (If tweeting about it, please use the hashtag #TWLC). My hope is it’s the conclusion the story was asking for, and that brings you, my readers, a much needed end.

Lastly, I’m thankful to the people who helped me assembled, clean-up, and preset these books in the way they deserve to be. They are thanked at length in the completed editions, so you can read their names for yourself.

Without further ado, SpearheadBooks is pleased to present The White Lion Chronicles in their completion: Rise of the Dibor, The Lion Vrie, and Athera’s Dawn.

It is done. ch:

CLICK ON THE COVERS TO READ MORE AND BUY:


Self-Publishing Update & CreateSpace eStore

Whatever time I lost working on my books in August, I’m making up for now. I spent a number of hours on a binge-formatting streak last night, knocking out 481 pages and 41 chapters of The Lion Vrie; my Proofies should be receiving it in less than 14 hours as I finish up my “From the Author” segment.

I wanted to share some of my self-publishing experiences with you in those hopes that other would-be authors will be inspired at publishing their own books.

As most of my readers know, I have cordially parted ways with my legacy (or traditional) publishers for the frontier of self-publishing. Reasons being: maintain 100% creative control, faster turn-around time of books, higher royalties on both print and ebooks, ease and feasibility of restriction-free social marketing, and the fact that it’s the author who generates and maintains a fan base – not the publisher (ie marketing).

In prepping Rise of the Dibor, Book 1 of The White Lion Chronicles, I made a list of most of the major tasks I encountered along the way:

1.) Resurrected the original Word.doc manuscript, made sure it was as clean and presentable as I could make it.

2.) Scouted and secured a freelance editor, Sue Kenney, negotiating a contract for all three books based upon my satisfaction of a sample editing of 5 chapters. (She’s fantastic).

3.) Researched the present field of POD (Print On Demand) and ebook formatting businesses; settled on Amazon’s CreateSpace as offering the most consistent and professional services, as well as being the giant in print and ebook distribution. Setting up an account is free, and there are no upfront costs. Aside from electing a few of their services (2 of which I describe below), you could easily upload your interior and exterior PDFs and publish a book completely free.

4.) Began work on cover design. Developed numerous covers myself, and asked a few friends to submit ideas, too. Finally settled on a design submitted by Christopher & Allan Miller. Gave them permission to go ahead and do the full spreads of all three books. It’s been a fun collaborative process. The stellar series logo was done by Jason Clement.

5.) Once the corrected manuscript was returned (using Track Changes feature in Word), I forwarded a PDF version to my Proofies. I sent them a fun introductory email, and gave them 7 days to send me edits via email.

6.) Realizing that having 10+ people send you corrections and suggestions – a large portion overlapping – is a lot of data to process, my friend Nathan Reimer suggested I set up a GoogleDoc spreadsheet for Proofies to submit changes to in real-time, not bothering to post duplicates, and allowing me to post questions if need be. It’s worked like a charm and saved many hours of work for me.

7.) Midway through this process, it became apparent that Adobe’s InDesign would be a better application to format a novel in. The control is far greater, but as a result, so is the learning curve. Allan and Jason both helped a great deal with tutoring me.

8.) I used CreateSpace’s handy “help” features to get the exact specs for my book (I chose a fairly standard 6″x9″), which included template generators for the cover (takes into account the estimated number of pages for the width of the spine), and a sample interior Word template (which I obviously did without once we went with creating an InDesign template).

9.) The brand new (and super cool) interior PDF was then resubmitted to my Proofies for a read through, mostly focusing on formatting issues. Again, the GoogleDoc spreadsheet helped facilitate this very smoothly.

10.) I made finishing touches to the final cover spread, and uploaded a CMYK jpeg to CreateSpace’s step-by-step processing path.

11.) A number of final improvements were made to the general formatting of the manuscript, including a quick phone call to CreateSpace’s outstanding customer support line, and it was officially submitted earlier today.

12.) I set up the “marketing channel” selections in CreateSpace, which included creating your own eStore for your books. I was able to design and upload a custom header and background with some trial and error (shown above). You easily set the price of the print book (based on figures they calculate on how much your book will be to produce), and then select what venues you want the book published to, from Amazon.com to retail stores to schools and non-profits. I’ll be rolling out the eStore announcement as soon as the print version of ROTD is proofed and put into production by CreateSpace.

13.) The two services I’ve decide pay for are CreateSpace’s Pro Plan (one time $39/title, $5/per year) which gives you a higher percentage, lower book cost when ordering your own copies, and gets it into more retail stores. I’m also paying $69 to have CreateSpace do all the Kindle formatting for me (as that’s another learning curve I just don’t have the time for; plus, they are Kindle, so they’re going to get it right the first time). I anticipate the ebook version to come about 2 weeks after the print version is ready.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions below; I’ll be sure to answer you as best I can.

Last but not least, the formation of Spearhead Books transpired somewhere in this creative mess. Lots of phone calls, Skyping, emails, and tweets were exchanged by who are now the founding members of Spearhead: Christopher & Allan Miller, Wayne Thomas Batson, and yours truly. We prefer to think of ourselves as a post-publisher.

Now off to write that section from the author. ch:

TWLC Update

Here’s an excerpt of an email I sent to my Proofies yesterday:

Out of courtesy to you, I feel I should explain that my lack of communication, the impetus of which stemmed from three primary issues:

1.) A global switch from Microsoft Word to Adobe InDeisgn as primary layout application. Because InDesign is so much more elaborate, and I’ve never used it before, the learning curve alone set me back a few weeks. I must have gone over nearly every page of [ROTD] no less than 20 times. Working with the Miller brothers also meant that I had to cater to certain time limitations on their part.

2.) Three weeks ago I suffered a herniated disc (an old injury revisited) which literally knocked me off my feet, unable to sit in one position for more than a few minutes. The prescribed medication made me fuzzy, and far from able to keep track of the details needed for a 300+ page manuscript. (Please keep me in prayer as I’m not out of the woods yet).

3.) Summer kicked in. Frankly, many mornings and nights I did not want to even touch my computer to work on much of anything. As most of you know who follow my blog, my pace is pretty intense. So I allowed myself days off.

Needless to say, I’m back at it, feeling stronger physically, mentally, and with a better handle on InDesign.

I’ve finished my editor’s changes to TLV, and I’m beginning work on formatting it in InDesign; yes, hopefully it will be much faster now that I have a stronger handle on the application. I’m anticipating this to take about 2 weeks, [before it's ready for the Proofies' review]. While you’re busy going through TLV and searching for changes, I’ll be editing and formatting the long awaited AD.

In an effort to offer my loyal readers at least something date-wise, I’d say ROTD will be for sale in early September, TLV in late September, and AD in late October, though this is not concrete. Your sincere patience means the world to me. ch:

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The White Lion Chronicles: eBook Editions

2007. That is the year I left readers on the edge of a precipice. And I’m only surprised they don’t loathe me more.

So you can only imagine how good I feel saying this (almost as good as my readers must feel!):

I’m personally re-releasing The White Lion Chronicles Books I & II as second edition ebooks, and Book III as a first edition ebook.

When my contract with Tsaba House expired, the publishing rights reverted back to me. And just as I’ve replied to hundreds of emails and FaceBook message and tweets, I’ve been looking for a mutually beneficial traditional print contract. But over the course of the last year, the publishing market has changed so dramatically that self-publishing – once an insult – has become the smartest option, by far. In fact, I can’t imagine looking for a legacy publishing deal ever again.

Editing and proof reading are just about to start on all three books, and cover designs are already in the mock-up phase. My plan right now is to release Rise of the Dibor first, followed a few weeks later by The Lion Vrie, and ending with the long-awaited Athera’s Dawn. All three ebooks will be available via digital retailers with an anticipated price point of just $2.99. If I can lower the price even more, I will.

So to all my fans who have stayed so loyal over the years, c’symia. ch: