First up, thanks (again) to all those who’ve bought Kinsmen Die in recent weeks. I hope folks enjoy it. Please, let me know what you thought of it!
Preorder Now: Dark Grows the Sun
After literally months of dithering I’ve launched the preorder for Dark Grows the Sun, my second book. It picks up right where KD left off. I think the writing in DGtS is better overall and the book itself is much “tighter” than KD. IMO. We’ll see what y’all think.
Here’s a couple minor examples of specifically how the writing is a bit cleaner/better.
In KD, I used the word “like” 693 times in ~642 pages … or 1.08 per page. In DGtS, I used “like” 279 times in ~375 pages … or 0.74 per page. That’s still a lot…but, like, a lot less. In KD, I used MANY similes, all the similes. I still used quite a few in DGtS…but fewer. And in my third book I’ll use even less.
In KD, I used the word “just” 478 times … 0.69 times, dude, per page. In DGtS, I used “just” just 80 times … 0.21 times per page. I’ve come to just hate the word “just.” It’s just awful, I mean, if I could just stop using it my writing would improve even if just slightly. In my third book I just won’t use that word.
Why did I dither?
Lots of reasons. Most of the advice I’ve read and heard for book launches is this: rapid release a series to a mailing list in order to keep sales flowing in Amazon…which will “trick” their algorithm into recommending the book(s) and thus keep them visible which will help prevent the book dropping off the 90-/60-/30-day sales cliff. And then advertise/market. Also, the more books in your backlist, the better.
It’s not bad advice. It works for many authors. The problem is: I don’t have a mailing list, I don’t have an audience, I don’t have a series, I don’t have a backlist.
I didn’t market KD (which resulted in marginal sales)…based on other advice from authors. — i.e., it’s a waste of time & money to market only one book)…because you’ve nothing else to follow up with. Made some sense.
So, I allowed KD to languish. I was also hip deep in writing DGtS…and I had three small kids…and a full-time job. Adding advertising & marketing to my life just (hah!) wasn’t appealing.
Skip forward three years and I have marginally more time available. And a second book. So I figured /why not. YOLO.
On advice of an author who’s in a Facebook group I’m in, I bought Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing for Authors course. I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the price, but it did explain the basics of how Facebook ads work and how to build the ads, basic terminology — learning curve type stuff.
But, wait, there’s more!
Based on that course (and other sources) it was clear that I needed a reader magnet to get people onto my mailing list. I needed that list to market to. Which meant I needed a landing page…and email copy…and a newsletter…and, dangit, ad copy…an ad…and an ad plan. And I needed to get it RIGHT otherwise people wouldn’t click or sign up or buy or whatever.
So, I tried finding an assistant to handle the marketing, etc. She (and others) wanted $130 to consult with me about what I needed to do. Yeah, no.
But do you see what I did? Added hurdles. Disincentives. I dithered.
About three weeks ago, I said “eff it.” Screw the mailing list. Screw these stupid hurdles. I put a Facebook ad together and launched it. Lo and behold, some people out there in the world liked the ad well enough to buy KD and preorder DGtS.
The impact of this forward movement was a huge confidence boost. People are interested; people will click & buy. All that other stuff — mailing list, audience building, etc., — is super important and I will circle back to it. But for now, I’m just happy folks are reading my book(s).
My advice for authors…
For what it’s worth (and I’m happy to answer questions, etc.): Do it. If you have one book, advertise it. If you have two, advertise ’em. Get them out there. Promote them. Do it.
Sure, maybe the ads will suck or you’ll make mistakes (that last part’s gah-rawn-teed), but you’ll be learning.
In the months ahead…
I’m currently writing (off and on, as the disir moves me) a short saga / novella that I’ll use as a freebie to get folks onto my mailing list. Or just to “hand out,” as it were. And it’s written such that I can continue her saga should I so choose.
The short saga is about the ordeal of Kesa Garinsdottir (a character of my own creation). She’s off stage during one event in Kinsmen Die where Thor attacked a Jotunn mining town. She and her warband take shelter in a Jotunn stone-home. Things go downhill from there.
I chose that event b/c of a scene (and character) deleted from Kinsmen Die — a Jotunn scout named Hyrrokin. (She figures in Baldr’s funeral.) Hyrrokin became Kesa because the name Hyrrokin ended up not making sense in the emerging story. The chapters and events I’d written about Hyrrokin also went by the board b/c they too didn’t make sense. (I’ve deliberately used one “k” in Hyrrokin’s name.) But maybe they will someday.
I ended up creating a new adventure for Kesa that tied into some mysteries Odin experienced in Kinsmen Die…and answered those mysteries while introducing something new that ties into other things that Odin experiences in DGtS. I nearly busted my arm patting myself on the back after that.
I also threw in another “easter egg” of sorts that probably only I would ever get and maybe those I played World of Warcraft with back in the day (and folks who read this). In my short saga, Kesa eventually meets Kali Varensdottir. Kali also figured in Kinsmen Die; she was Vafthrudnir’s shaman apprentice. But, I never used her last name — not b/c I didn’t know it at the time or anything /cough.
In WoW, my “main” for Legion was a monk named Kalivaren. One of my (many) alts was Kesagarin. Before that, Kalivaren was a rando name generated for me in Elder Scrolls Online. Kesagarin is from one of the Jack Aubrey / Steven Maturin novels by Patrick O’Brian. Always loved the name and that particular character. The series is fantastic (except for the last couple books) particularly when read by Patrick Tull.
The short saga of Kesa Garinsdottir will be finished sometime in 2020.
I’m still in the planning phase of writing the third book in my first series. I’ve kinda stalled out in the last few weeks b/c I hit a wall in how events in the last quarter of the book were playing out.
Essentially, I need certain characters doing certain things in certain places at certain times and none of it was lining up right. And that’s largely b/c the myths require certain participants. For example, Thor catches Loki, but in my narrative I’d sent Thor away (for reasons) and I can’t figure out how to believably get him back where the myths say he should be.
The major difference in my writing process with Book 3 versus my prior books is this: I’m not writing full chapters yet. I’m basically iterating on outlines and getting increasingly more detailed as I go, so I’m not writing a full scene and then throwing it out in a year (ideally). Instead, I’m figuring out what I need and (eventually) writing just that.
I’ll go into more detail on what I’m doing in a future post. Till then, stay safe & thanks again!