So it is done. Announcing for the first time…Godspeed!

So, I finally did it. After six long years of rereading and editing and honestly not doing a lot, Godspeed has finally hit the shelves of Amazon’s Kindle. Check it out here! I’m as scared to death as I am excited, and overall, it’s exhausting on a personal level. After I update all of my links and stuff with the fact my book is actually online, I think I’m going to take a day off. Maybe buy some donuts from Dunkin Donuts to celebrate. Or, some super chocolate ice cream. Yea…both of those sound like a good thing.

However, it’s curious to note that, in all the advice I’ve read, no one has posted on the subtle nuances of self publishing on Kindle. I had no idea what to expect, but I eventually stumbled through it. The process is easy, and since we’re all helping each other, let me tell you what to expect when publishing a book, if you’re like me, doing it for the first time.

Honestly, it’s a pretty straight forward concept. Amazon takes you to a page where you fill in basic information of your book. Title, name of the series it belongs to, if applicable, along as the book’s volume number. Only numerical numbers allowed here, even though I like the words “Book One” better than “Book 1” but I’m not gonna argue. Then, you’ll verify you have publishing rights by clicking the box.

Now, the next part is important. It’s your categories and keywords. You get two categories and seven key words, so choose well. You can always come back and change them, though. In fact, the only thing you can’t change is release date for your book. Next, upload your book cover and finally, your book itself. I use a website called Draft 2 Digital to create my .mobi. Or is it the other one? Anyway, this website is actually a website that will sell your book for you on a ton of places. But you don’t have to use that service to format your book. In fact, they welcome people to just use the book formatter, so that’s what I did. You can download and preview your book across lots of platforms too.

Next, we get to the fun part. Royalties. All you really have to do is set your price and pick a royalty percentage. Based on your price, you’ll either qualify for 35% or 70%. Books priced 2.99 and over qualify for 70% royalties. That’s the price I went with. I didn’t go higher, because I haven’t hired a professional editor, but when I do, I’ll bump up the price to 3.99. You can select 35% if you want, but I think Amazon has plenty of money. Then, set where you have the rights to sell your book. I think I have the right to sell my book all over the planet, so that’s what I did. You can also enroll in KDP select, which is what I did. For 90 days, you have to give Amazon exclusive access to your book. In exchange, you have several promotional tools available, which I’ll be utilizing in the coming days and weeks. You can also get a share of a pool of money based off of how many people are in Kindle Unlimited. If they borrow your book, you get a small percentage. If I understand stand how it works right. I haven’t actually studied it that much, but it sounds like there’s 3 million in the pool, and you’ll get a buck or two if someone reads your book.

After that, just submit. It took my book about seven hours to hit the shelves. I got the email at 2:14 am. At this point, you can click on your book and check it out. You can also create your author bio page, which I had a lot of fun doing. Too bad I can’t find that old hard drive with all my good pictures of myself in it.

And I already have my first sale. Like I said, it’s simple. But i couldn’t find an exact overview of the process, so I decided to write a little about it here. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be trying a myriad of promotional idea thingies…I suddenly forgot the word I was going to say. And hopefully, some of them will work.

Until then, I guess that’s it. I’m finally a published writer. And thus begins my journey. But I don’t just want to be a published writer. I want success. I want to make enough money to bring my wife home, so we can work on writing and drawing all day. I want orders of magnitude of success greater than what we have now. Let’s see if I can do it in a reasonable amount of time.

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And now for something completely different.

My wife finished putting the last little bit of polish on my cover, since I finished my manuscript yesterday. And while I could write some more, I did my daily quota today already. Was gonna relax and play some Robocraft and stomp some people, but something is up and the servers are down or something. Since I hadn’t updated today, I figure we talk about one of my other hobbies: Video games.

Well, just Robocraft specifically, since I think it’s an amazing game. It’s free to play, and from the moment I entered the game I came across an amazing discovery. I’m actually really, really good at it.

My wife says I’m only so good because I’m curb stomping a bunch of 12-year-olds, but it’s not a game for just young people. Just people. Although I’m pretty sure, judging by some of the creations I’ve seen, that I’ve curb stomped my fair share of young people.

I suppose it was because I was always into those building toys. Legos, Erector Sets, K’Nex. I built my K’NEX Big Ball Factory for my daughter and she still plays with it. It was a lot of fun, since I hadn’t built it in about 20 years. Seemed like it was a lot taller back then:-)

Anyway, I don’t know what it is, but, especially before the patch last week, I was totally unstoppable. Maybe I have really good ping or something, because these people can’t hit moving targets to save their life. Maybe it’s because I play World of Tanks, and the two games are sort of similar. Maybe I’ve found my true gaming calling. I dunno, but when I actually carry my team to victory, and do it numerous times, it makes me take pause.

Seriously. I’m carrying my team. The object is to destroy the other team’s protonium tower. You do that by shooting all the little crystals on it’s side. It has a shield, though. But you can bring it down by capturing the neutral towers to give your team a damage boost. It was called the MOBA update, because it plays a lot like League of Legends. But I’m always the highest level person on my team. Rarely, I’ll be in second, and if I play my medic repair bot, I’ll sometimes drop to third. But I’m always on top. Even if we lose, I’m still the best on the team. I thought it was just because I was fighting the newbies in the lower tiers. But I’m tier 6 out of 10 now, and still beastly.

And the catch? It’s so easy. The game lets you design your own robots, so I make huge, lumbering tanks with millions of guns. Common sense tells you in this game not to put long arms and legs to hold your weapons, as those get shot off. It’s better to attach them to multiple points. You’d be surprised how many people I wreck from just shooting their guns off. And all I do is lumber in front of a person and shoot them until they die. 95% of the time, they die and I don’t. Even against other robots built like mine. I have no idea what I’m doing differently. You can even name your robots. I call my main SMG tank “Killdozer.” Because that’s what he is.

Oh, and all of this success I’ve been finding happened beforeย  I knew you could heal by returning to your base. Now that I know that, I’m often unstoppable. And it’s a great feeling. Reminds me of gaming with my best buddy Mike. I’ve known him since 4th grade, and after we both graduated, we got an apartment together. He got me hooked on the strategy game “Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth.” When we went to multiplayer, we were unstoppable. Mike played Gondor and I played Isengard. But we really hit our stride when the sequel came out. Mike played Men of the West, and I stuck by Isengard. After two years of playing, we lost three matches together. And those were some really fun matches.

It probably helped that we knew the literal best player in the world in ranked single player TKE_Turtle. I actually went to an anime convention with him, Mike and some buddies and he’s a really cool guy. And I have the distinction of being one of the few people to actually beat him. Technically, it was a free for all match between us three, and I double crossed Mike and killed him while he weakened Turtle. I then went to kill him, but it was not easy, even with the advantage I had. I could actually feel the exact moment he turned on his “awesomness” in the game. it was a close match, and in the end it had no effect on our rank. But It’s something I like to brag about.

Guess that’s it. Hopefully, Robocraft is done. I gotta get some money to upgrade my armor. Oh yea, I can’t afford top armor and still dominate. Maybe I’ll watch some real professionals and see if I’m playing like they are.

See ya!

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Trade Publishing is dead! Long live Trade Publishing!

Oh, so that title is a little pretentious, And for the record, I love and respect trade publishing. But I’ve been reading some pretty interesting stuff about the trends in trade publishing. Now, none of this has appropriate sources or anything, as it’s just rumors at this point, but it seems like trade published authors, especially in the science fiction genre, are beginning to abandon ship and veer more towards self publishing. I can understand why. There’s a lot of awesome stuff out there in the science fiction category, and why would a person spend $19.99 on a hard back sci fi story when they could get a story that’s just as good for around three bucks?

Now, if this is true and sci fi authors are leaving their agents and publishing houses, then it’s gonna affect us over here on the self publishing side. And this probably isn’t limited to the science fiction genre, but it could stretch to others as well.

So far, I’ve seen two schools of thought on the matter. The first is a little worrisome. With the influx of professional level authors beginning the migration to self publishing, the market may become a lot more competitive. I mean, these people were picked up by their respective agents and houses for a reason. A lot of indie authors just don’t have the experience that these authors do. Which could mean that, as the years progress, the science fiction community as a whole could come to expect more out of their science fiction, a notion that’s pretty scary if you’re writing there. Basically, with such stiff competition, it would make it harder to write a science fiction story that pleases the now eclectic audience.

Now, the second point is a little less worrisome. Again, none of this is for certain. but if the science fiction writers come over to the indie side, they may get a hard dose of our “reality.” Let’s remember that many of these authors don’t have experience marketing or promoting their work. Sure, they’ll bring their fans on name recognition, but on its own, it’s gonna be hard to match the income of a big, fat advance check. Also, a lot of them may not write frequently enough. The main key to success in the indie market is to be consistent. And lets not forget that these people probably have no idea how to do cover art. That’s one of the benefits of trade publishing. You don’t have to worry about all that stuff. But over here on the indie side, you do.

How do I feel about this? Well, frankly, I’m a little worried about competing with some of the big names out there. However, I do recognize that they’re gonna have to pay their dues, just like I’m beginning to. Also, indie publishers are better able to navigate the stormy waters of the self publishing market, as this market is anything but stable. It would also seem that hybridization would be a nice middle ground for authors. Some are sticking with their publishers and also self publishing books. And its a whole heck of a lot easier to get editors and a good cover artist if you’ve got nice royalties from a trade contract or a big advance check.

What’s gonna happen in the next few years? Well, the websites I’m reading tend to be pretty skewed to one side, so it’s difficult finding an impartial thought. But there are a number of advantages to self publishing, especially if a person is already writing well enough to have representation in the first place. But rather than have all the trade published dudes come over here to the “salt mines” I think that trade publishing houses are going to have to change the way they do business first. I’m not entirely sure what that could be, but it seems to me, at least at this exact point, that the benefits of publishing may be teetering in the favor of the indie market. Trade publishing houses have to figure out how to make their publishing models more attractive to authors. But can they? I have no idea. I guess we’ll just have to see. Until then, it’s best we just keep writing. No matter what, us authors should always just keep writing. We’ll figure out all that complex stuff after our manuscript is done.

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Crunch Time: Part II

You guys ever hear of a game called Robocraft? OMG, that game is so awesome! It’s free to play on Steam and It’s like they reached into the mind of every nine-year-old boy in the world and created a game specifically for them. Basically, it’s like World of Tanks, save that you use blocks to build your very own vehicle of destruction! And since I lived on Legos and old books on military weapons, I’m doing very well in that game. In fact, I’m crushing it. I’m routinely the best player on the team, and it feels good to be on top again. I haven’t been this good as something since my old Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2 days. Needless to say, it’s hard to pry myself from that game, but duty calls, as they say.

So, where were we yesterday? Ah, yes. We decided to self publish. I know little about the trade publishing side after an agent accepts a person and offers representation, so we’ll stick with self publishing. Now, what follows are the things that I’m gonna try and the things that other, very successful people have said to me. Whether it works or not, time will just tell.

So, it’s pretty easy, but there’s a lot of nuance to self publishing. Of all the things a writer needs to consider, the following list is how I rank them, based on my own research. Someone will probably come in and say that’s wrong. And it might very well be. But, like I said, this is how I’m doing it.

The most important thing to have is a good story. We’re dealing with fiction here, FYI. It’s my belief that a good story will sell, despite all of the other things. However, we’re not going for just one good book, but several. This is our job. It’s fine if you wanna write one story and have a few pennies. However, remember that Dodge Viper I need (want) to get? One story isn’t gonna cut it. So, we need a series. A good series.

The next most important thing is to regularly publish those good quality stories. Regularity will keep you relevant. It lessens the chance readers will forget about you and keep your name appearing during searches. I’ve heard anywhere between publishing every four months and every two months is great. Me? I’m going for three, just to see what it’s like. I may push closer to two in the future, especially when I get an editor, but until then, it’s every three.

Speaking of editing. I would actually rank that below a cover, in terms of what’s next. Though you could lump the cover, keywords, blurb, description and editing as the final piece of the triforce of publishing. Unfortunately, this is usually where authors struggle, because two of these, the cover and editing, cost money.

Like I’ve said before, my budget is exactly zero dollars. In fact, I’m over budget by about 30 bucks, considering I printed out my manuscript to give it a read. I married an artist, so that takes care of the cover. But a lot of you probably aren’t as fortunate as I was in that regard. You could go with the cover creator offered by Kindle, but it honestly looks pretty lame. Getting a decent cover is gonna cost a little bit, but thankfully, there are some very cheap options. Fiverr.com is a really good place to check out. And you could get a decent cover for exactly that. Five dollars. In most cases, you have to supply the stock images, so either find some public domain images (not recommended as seeing other book covers with your stock image would suck) shell out for some from places like iStock or go and grab your camera. If you can wait out fifty or so dollars for a cover, go for it. Why didn’t I just do that then, I hear you all ask. Well, it’d take a professional cover to match the degree of mine, personally. And those can run several hundred dollars. But drop fifty bucks on Fiverr.com and see where it gets you.

Next, editing. I don’t consider this very important, as long as you have a firm grasp of grammar and don’t rely on spell check alone to do the job. I used to suck real bad at editing my stuff. It’s a side effect of typing so fast. I’m really fast at writing, but my original manuscript is sloppy beyond compare. I also spell a lot of words correctly, but my mind plugs them in random places. For example, typing that last sentence, I spelled “them” as “then” which spell check wouldn’t have picked up. Thankfully, my freelance career has taught me better editing skills, but I still suck at it. So it have to reread my manuscript a lot. Editing is one of those things that, if you can swing it, go for it. But get a professional. I’ve recently come across many manuscripts with terrible, horrible usage, all of them proudly boasting that this was edited by “insert editor’s name here.” Don’t be that guy/gal.

That’s it as far as what’s required. Now, how do you put them together? If you’re like me, and starting with zero dollars, you have your new business (yes, it’s a business now. Treat it like one) feed itself. My plan is to publish the first two books. When the third hits, I hope to have enough for some ad space somewhere. There are free places to advertise your books and paid places. Bookbub is by far the best paid place, hands down. But they want slightly more than 100 bucks to run a Y/A ad. And even then, they have to approve you, so you might not get in.

Anyway, after the third book, the first book will be marked down permanently to cost zero dollars. Hopefully, that’ll really draw in the readers, and by books four and five, I’ll have made a few bucks and can hire an editor. At that point, Godspeed will be done (Maybe. I like Sharon, and I may want to keep writing about her) and I can start my next series. After a few of those, we should be good over here. To help in this endeavor, I suggest a mailing list of some kind. Include it, along with a link to your other works in each book you write. This is called the “slow building” method. Or something like that. Anyway, that’s what I’m gonna try and pull off. Wish me luck! And I’ll catch you guys next time!

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Crunch Time

So, for all that crap I said about the publishing industry and marketing, what’s today’s post about? Publishing and marketing. I’m getting really close to having everything done with my first book and thought I’d share what I’ve learned for anyone else making the journey to publication.

Firstly, yes, I’m going to self publish. My wife always wanted to self publish her books and comics, but our original idea was for myself to enter the trade publishing market to make a name for ourselves. Maybe three years ago, I shopped Godspeed around with exactly 103 agents. I only ever heard back from around 80 of them, and of those, maybe five wanted samples. However, my book was pretty crappy back then, and they all passed. I decided then to skip the middle man and build our own brand by self publishing.

We’ll get into the nuances in another post, such as where to self publish and what Kindle Unlimited is and stuff like that. But anyone wanting to publish a book should probably first decide which process is better: trade or self publishing. While there are other options, these are the only two I’m discussing. I’m not interested in vanity presses nor those scammy sites that make authors buy their own books. Here’s a hint. If you have to shell out any kind of money to publish something, slow your roll and reexamine the process you’re trying to take. It may be legit, but it could also be a scam.

Anyway, while I’m going self publishing, trade publishing has its advantages. You don’t have to worry about marketing to the extent self pubbers have to. You get an advance on royalties towards your first book (which, a very broad estimate for a new writer could be around $5,000) You also get professional editing and a professional cover. But the process of querying is long and arduous. And if you’re writing in a niche genre or a genre that’s been saturated (such as Y/A dystopian or paranormal romance) then you’re gonna have a hard time. As for submitting to actual publishing houses, I wouldn’t even bother. Most of the good ones only listen to agents whom they trust.

So what advantages does self publishing have? Well, for one you don’t have to listen to editorial mandate about your book. I’ve read experiences where a writer’s protag was gender swapped to make it appeal more to women, because statistically, more women write and read fiction. It’s also hilariously easy. Seriously, grab one of the pre-made covers from Kindle, pick your genre, some keywords, enter in your little description and upload your manuscript. Can be done in minutes. But don’t do it that way, even though it’s easy.

However, self-pubbers don’t get editing help or marketing help. We also have to design our own covers for our book. Ignore the phrase “You can’t judge a book by its cover” because I’m told people often do when browsing a storefront like Kindle or Google Play.

I’m fortunate in that I married a very talented artist, and got my cover for free. I also have all the tools I need to format E-books because we had to purchase them when she was in college. But editing? While I’m a decent editor, I just can’t swing the cost when we’re talking a few hundred for a professional edit. All I could do was read and reread my story over a dozen times and ask other people to read it before deciding it was at a decent place. In my personal opinion, it’s not a significant risk, but it is a risk, as I know people who will honestly stop reading a book if they find an error. However, according to my research, those people are a minority. Tentatively, it seems people will forgive small errors if your story is solid.

So first, decide which way you want to publish a story. Even though I’m self publishing, I suggest everyone try out trade publishing. Crafting an eye-catching query is an experience in itself that helps not only with one’s craft, but helps learn about rejection. And who knows? You may get picked up and can focus solely on writing.

Hmm…looks like this post got a little long. I try and keep these around 700 words for the sake of brevity, but I haven’t even gotten into what I really wanted to talk about. Guess I can do that for tomorrow’s post. I’ve created a little road map to publishing my books that appears, at least on paper, to be halfway decent.ย  It’s a good place to start, anyway, as it’s passed scrutiny over at Kboards.com, which is one of the best places for learning about self publishing I’ve found. Check out the forums there and hear advice from people who sell 30,000 books a month. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be one of them:-)

I’ve also updated some of my stuff, since we’re nearing the time I hit that publish button. I put up the first chapter of Godspeed on my website to give you guys a little sneak peek. Click here if you wanna check it out. If you’re interested further, I suggest joining my mailing list by clicking here. Whenever I release a new book or run a special promotion that makes my books cheaper, you’ll get an email. It’ll average to at least one email every three months, as that’s the schedule I’ve set up for myself.

I guess tomorrow, I’ll go over what I’m planning to do and why I decided to take that action. If any writer reads this in the future, I hope it helps at least get an idea of what to expect. Self publishing is easy, but being successful to the point that I aspire to takes a lot of planning, research and luck. And since I have no luck, my planning and research have to make up for that fact.

Catch you guys later!

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Writing is cool. The Industry, not so much…

So, before I get to the meat of this next post, my daughter said something pretty cool the other day. She is pretty much potty trained, only wearing diapers at night, and she’s outgrown her first set of “big girl” panties. So, my wife and her mom took her out to buy a few more. She picked Disney ones, with Sophia, Doc McStuffins and all of those shows. But they kind of panties she was looking for, she couldn’t find.

What kind did she want? Why, “sneaky tank” panties. When I started playing World of Tanks, Little Bug would want to sit in my lap and play with me. So, I’d let her. She’d ask general little kid stuff. “Who’s that?” “Where are we going?” What’s that over there?” And to answer the latter, I told her it was a tank trying to be sneaky by hiding behind a bush. She’s called tanks. “sneaky tanks” ever since then, even when seeing tracked construction equipment. She’s also expanded her roster with “sneaky airplanes” from War Thunder and “Sneaky ships” from World of Warships.

Anyway, I was discussing with my wife how it’d be awesome to have tank themed girls panties. And not just generic tanks. But like, real tanks. Panzer 38t “Hetzers” Tiger II’s. M-4 Shermans. Cromwells. KV-2’s. And TOG II’s. Always TOG II’s. TOG is love. TOG is life. Apparently, my little girl really liked that idea and wanted them. Too bad those are like, boys things and stuff. Although, with the growing shifts between not only gender roles, but gender stereotypes and even the growing discussions about what exactly gender is, this might be the best time to get something like that launched. Too bad we’ve got a full plate over here, though it’s definitely something I’d love to put up on Kickstarter, if it hasn’t been done already. I haven’t exactly looked for Hetzer panties yet. But if they’re out there, I’d love some Hetzer boxers or something. That’d be cool.

Anyway, to stay relevant with writing, all I have today is a simple complaint. Why should we, as writers, tell an agent or publisher where our story fits in the industry and what the target demographic is? I understand it’s to probe the likelihood that the author has done some research, but I personally hate it when people ask that. Oni is asking this, and they know the market better than I do.

“So, Mr. Trinidad. Who is your project is forย andย how does it fit at Oni Press?”

“Um…well, our project is for people who like comics….cuz it’s a comic book. Only longer. Called a graphic novel.”

“……”

“And it fits at Oni Press because you wanted a diverse cast of characters and we have that.”

“…thank you for your time, Mr. Trinidad.”

I feel like I’m insulting their intelligence when I’m answering a question like that. Though to be specific, our graphic novel is Y/A, like 98% of the stuff I write. But that’s a demographic. And a recent study found that somewhere over 60% of sales of Y/A books are by adults. It may even be higher, like 70%, but I lost that link and can’t seem to dig it up. So, who’s that story for? People who like to read comics. Who is Godspeed for? People who like to read fiction.

We could sit here and hash out what kind of specific reader would like the book. Like it features a female protag, so it appeals more to girls. But honestly, why waste the time with that? Tell me if you have confidence in the book and if it’s written well. A good story will always sell. And if it’s not good, I’ll be on my way. Don’t make me, the author, who has already written and rewritten a freakin’ novel have to go back and find out who the book is for. I write for myself, first and foremost. Maybe it’s a mistake, but I”m just starting out here. I’m allowed to make them, and trust me, I’m going to. But I write the stories I want to read, because what I want to read isn’t out there. And I’m also fairly confident that a few other people out there may enjoy it.

I dunno. Maybe it’s because I have such a hard time answering those questions that I don’t like them. I’m sure the rest of you have an easier time than I do. And I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason why publishing people ask those questions. Guess I’ll just go back to writing. Though pretty soon, I’m gonna have to learn all of this stuff.

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Happy Accidents

I notice there are a lot of other writers out there! I appreciate all the likes and attention, even if I don’t have time to keep up and check out everyone’s pages. I try, though. Anyway, this one is for the writers of long fiction. Ever get the feeling about something you’ve written, but hated it? Or knew it wouldn’t fly? Only to have it be become one of the best things about your rough draft so far? Yea, that happened again to me a few days ago.

I want to publish a new story every three months. The first three Godspeed books are done, though they need several cans of polish to get them up to the quality of the first book. I hadn’t done any writing in a few days, so I decided to see where the story of the fourth book would go. That’s the awesome part about writing by the seat of one’s pants. Things just seem to happen. The late, great and awesome Bob Ross called them Happy Accidents. And with the amount of accidents put in that story in the last few days, I think I could’ve filled an emergency ward.

Things went sort of maybe a little bit totally out of control. While writing it, I was telling myself how this would just be editing fodder. I decided to splurge and read what I wrote the next day. I don’t usually do that because it kind of slows me down. But dang it if it wasn’t pretty good. It’s sharp departure from the character I hope many of you will know and come to love, but from an artistic standpoint, it works well with the plans I have in store and what I wanted those scenes to represent. I might be keeping them after all, we’ll just see. As we all know, things can change a great deal. One day, when hundreds of thousands of people know who I am, I might post the first ever draft of Godspeed, just to illustrate how stories can change so drastically. It is true. Nearly every single word in that manuscript has changed.

And I have this song by Delain stuck in my head. Enjoy your new ear worm, Muh ha ha ha!