Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"It Was Only On Stun!" A brief review.

How did I get to It Was Only On Stun! you ask?  Here's how.

I'm Getting Published. ~ My announcement, and why, after years of sweating A Pius Man, I went and self-published something completely different. Answer: prequel, and "test run."

So, now what?  How this blog, and you, faithful audience, influenced the book.

What Happened to A Pius Man? A more thorough answer to what happened with the novel.  Originally written in answer to a member of the Catholic writer's Guild who asked why I was self publishing at all.

Marketing Concerns and Self Publishing -- I've published my own book, but how am I going to get it out there?

Cover Art, Graphics, and Slowly Going Blind. -- Doing your own cover design.

Forget Sparta. I! AM! PUBLISHED!!!!!  I was officially published on July 4th, 2012. Let freedom ring. I waited for blog post #300 to get sappy.

Trailers for "IT WAS ONLY ON STUN!" ~ My new trailers. I think you'll like them. They're funny.

Pricing, Royalties, and It Was Only On Stun! How I make money.  Though I should note, as of now, Amazon.com is having a price drop on my book, so it's cheaper than it is posted there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Colorado Fires, Donations, and Coyotes

Karina Fabian, who's been kicking around the blog for a while, sent out this letter the other day.  And, I figured we could all give her a hand.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a little story about a series of
wildfires being set near Los Lagos, Colorado, the fictional home of Vern and
Sister Grace of my DragonEye, PI world. The story itself was a mystery
convolving Sister Grace and Coyote the Trickster God. It was fun to write
about Coyote again and it explains a few mysteries mentioned in Magic, Mensa
and Mayhem. I've sent it out to several places, but no one took it.
However, I know that every story has its time and place. That time and
place is now and online.
We've had an upsetting number of forest fires in the West, and Colorado
Springs has been especially hard hit, with over 35,000 people evacuating
their homes and hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged by the flames.
People have come from all over the nation to assist in fighting the fires,
and so many are going to have to rebuild their homes from scratch. I'd like
to use my story to help them.
"Coyote Fires" is now up in a serial format. The first episode s are posted
at http://coyotefires.karinafabian.com. I have a donation button on the
site, and I'm asking that if you enjoy the story, you help me help others by
donating a little to the cause. You can donate as little as $1. For every
$10 I earn (from one to ten donors), I'll put up another episode. I'll take
donations until the story is totally up or September 1, whichever comes
later. At that time, I'll send all the proceeds to the Colorado Springs
chapter of the American Red Cross. I also have a deal, where if you donate
over $25 dollars, I'll send you an autographed copy of Magic, Mensa and
Mayhem. (Your entire donation will go to the ARC.)

In addition, between now and Aug 31, the publisher, editors, and I are
donating all our profits from the Coyote story "Perfect Ten" and the
DragonEye novel, Live and Let Fly. Order them through the links on the
story website or from MuseItUp in order for the donations to work.
"Coyote Fires" is only six episodes long, but I'm hoping we can raise for a
more than $60. If you'd like to help, I have a couple of easy ways:
#1. Read the story and donate
#2 Buy "Perfect Ten" or Live and Let Fly for yourself or a friend
#3 Tell others: You can copy this blog, make up a tweet or use one of mine:
#Coyote #Fires, a #fundraising serial story at
http://coyotefires.karinafabian.com. Enjoy some fantasy and help victims of
the #coloradofires.
Like #DragonEye? Read #Coyote #Fires online & help victims of the
#coloradofires. http://coyotefires.karinafabian.com
#4 Donate to another charity of your choice. (Let me know, and I'll send
you a copy of the story!)
Thanks, all!
Karina Fabian
http://fabianspace.com Books to challenge the mind, touch the heart, and
tickle the funny bone.
Live and Let Fly! Dragons, demigods and super-spies in a spoof that will
make you laugh out loud! http://tinyurl.com/amazonllf

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pricing, royalties, and "It Was Only On Stun!"

Before I begin, I should probably mention: Declan Finn has an Amazon.com author page. And two five star reviews.  Go me. :)

So, now that I've published the book, the one question I've gotten has been: "So, how much money do you make from this?" Alternately phrased as "What way of selling makes the most money for you?"

Well, that's a funny story.

First of all, you may have noticed my above links. I have different tabs for different pages -- in particular, Amazon.com and Createspace. Why is that? Here's the reason.

My book is $14.95. No matter where you see it, it's $14.95. In Great Britain, it's £9.55 ... which is $14.95, as of this writing. In Europe, €11.88. How much of that do I get? Depends on where people buy it.

If people buy an Amazon.com paperback, I get $5.22. If people buy it on Kindle (at the price of $9.99), I get between $3 and $7 (it's a long story, I either get 30% or 70%, depending on multiple factors). The same goes for the equivalent exchange rate in the UK and Europe.

If people buy at my original publishing website, Createspace, I make more money ... a whole $8.21 per book. It doesn't seem very impressive, but trust me, when you start selling a few dozen copies, that extra three dollars adds up quickly.

And here comes the reason why the publishing companies are in trouble, comparatively -- I am allowed "Expanded Distribution," which means my books are available at brick and mortar locations, such as bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, other online retailers, that sort of thing.

However, that way, I only make $2.23. Why? Think about it -- there are logistics involved, transportation fees, the inherent risks of not selling every last copy that a brick and mortar bookstore buys, making up for the money lost in the books that didn't sell, that sort of thing.

And people wonder why some authors, like Barry Eisler and Terry Goodkind, have gone to publishing on Kindle. Keep in mind, they have name recognition and they are their own franchise. I just have friends, family, and you, gentle readers.

In short, in an ideal world, to make close to six figures, I would need to sell 10,000 copies via Createspace, 20,000 copies via Amazon.com, or 50,000 copies at brick and mortar bookstores.

As of this date, I've sold 18 books, and made $120. I don't think I've been this happy in a long time. No, it's not much, but I worked for every last penny.

In my quest to be published, I have worked within the system, and relied upon the people in it in order to reach the end goal. Through no fault of their own, these people could not get me published. And, because of that, I have been reluctant to rely on anyone besides myself and God Himself.

As the old Bill Cosby routine with Noah's Ark concludes, "It's just you and me, Lord."

Well, now I'm relying on myself, and God, and you, dear reader. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trailers for "IT WAS ONLY ON STUN!"

Yesterday was the big announcement -- I'm published! Muahahahahahaha

Anyway, I thought I should show you both trailers for my book.

The first one is set around fan favorite Sean Ryan -- while he was a character in A Pius Man, he started here, in It Was Only On Stun!  Yes, we're starting with the fun trailer.

Awesome, right? Thankfully, that's mostly due to the music.  Do I own all those weapons? Of course not. But that's why you have friends who are police officers.

Now, the second trailer is probably something I will come to regret.  Remember all of those neat videos I did for A Pius Man?  I got my friend James to voice one, and Matt to voice another?  Well, It Was Only On Stun! has an author who writes "the Matthew Kovach mysteries" -- he's about 5'10", slightly overweight, wears glasses, is blond with blue eyes.

I figured, what the heck, he looks like me, I might as well do the bloody trailer.

This, however, was the result.  I suggest you watch until the end.  At least that is funny.

If you want to buy the book, go above. It'll take you directly to a kindle, or a hardcopy purchase.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Forget Sparta. I! AM! PUBLISHED!!!!!

I waited three hundred posts just so I can use that headline. Really....


Okay. No, not really. It just turned out that way.

But it's true. I'm published.  It Was Only On Stun! is available on Amazon.com.  Buy it here, now.  And you can also buy a kindle copy, right here. And a schedule for a virtual book tour, and maybe even a real life book tour, will be forthcoming .....

But I'm going to take a moment here.

I'm not sure you know what this means to me.

It's been fourteen years.

Two million words. Dozens of rewrites. Entire novels spiked. Two agents. A dead economy, "the end of publishing," and every negative thing about the business of publishing you've ever read in The New York Times.

There have been bridges burned with people whom I have deeply loved. There are people that I owe this to who are no longer talking to me. People who cared just enough to encourage me, but not enough to stay. There have been people I, admittedly, drove away while I was being driven insane by the thorns of this world.

It's been a long road, with a lot of work. I want to thank all of you who stayed around to read what I've had to say.

And, of course, there are specific people who have stuck with me that I need to thank, like: Jason Bieber, Karina Fabian, Kelly Garcia, Ester Lamm, Matthew "Funtime" Pryce, Allan and Annie Yoskowitz, Ann Margaret Lewis, various and sundry people from the Catholic Writer's Organization (Ellen Gable Hrkach, Jacqueline Vickers, Ann Seeton, and, of course, Walter Staples (who can now compare writer's notes with The Great Author). And, of course, there is my family, including my sister Margaret, who helped me with her editing services of Just Write! Ink (on Facebook).

I owe all of you. And I only hope I remembered you all in the acknowledgments. It's all been kind of a blur, so if I missed you, my aim will improve next time around.

Hopefully, you'll like It Was Only On Stun! to a ridiculous degree. You'll want to gift copies to all your friends, and insist that they do the same. Unlikely, but I've been living on hope and Red Bull for so long, I'm shooting for Mars (because the moon is just not ambitious enough). It's also a fairly kick-ass action, mystery, and comedy.

And, if by some chance you don't like it, well, I've got a dozen more books, each with a different flavor and style. The next book will be A Pius Man.  One way or another, it will be published.  Will it be by Amazon.com? Maybe. If that's the case, I'm going to have to find a way to pay Matt for his cover art.

Winston Churchill (everything interesting said in World War II is attributed to him), after the battle of El Alamein, said, "This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end.  This is, pray God, the end of the beginning."

This is my beginning.

Thank God.

And thank you, too.

But, enough sentiment: here's a fun video with epic music, and weapons.

By the way, while this is an aside -- I also have a new website. Enjoy, all.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cover Art, Graphics, and Slowly Going Blind.

Sorry for not posting on Wednesday, I was busy blinding myself.

No, I'm not kidding.

So, you know that It Was Only On Stun! will be self published. And, I gotta tell you, I didn't particularly like everything that was offered to me, in terms of cover options at the self publishing places I'm looking at -- Amazon.com, and Lulu.com.

So, I decided to try it myself.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "John -- or is it Declan now? -- we've seen your artwork.  Your Vatican ninjas were a bit of a joke. Why do this to yourself again?"

Well, because I'm stubborn, and because this should have been simple.

Let's start with what I showed you already.

Now, this photo on the right is what I originally had up.  There are a few problems with it.  The quality isn't that good when you look at it up close, the blood spatter on the badge isn't that good, and the "Junior" has become unneccessary.

"Junior" by the way, is because my father had his own company called "Declan Finn Associates," a little side gig for resume building and interview preparation.  Anyway, that's where the Junior came from.

Then my father said I could drop the Junior.

Did I mention that I love him dearly?

Anyway, so there was that.

So, what's the next step, you ask?  Well, there had been an option on Amazon.com that gave you a banner-type display for your title and author name.  It looked kind of nice, actually. Also, someone suggested that they liked one of the earlier "flair button" image that said, "Good Morning, I see the Assassins have failed."

And, so, I started to build that with the Amazon cover generator.

Unfortunately, it didn't want to work for me.  The image I had was always getting cut off from the cover layout that Amazon had. It was a pain in the ass.

So, I built that myself.  While it looks nice, can you see the problem?

It now looks like I have two titles to the book.

Oh joy.  Shoot me now.

So, once again, back to the drawing board.

I knew I had to go back to the original thoughts on the matter. I knew the assassins comment had to go. The blood covered badge seemed to offend no one, and it's part of the convention, called C-Con in the book.

So, that's good, right? Perfect?  I copied a "Hello, my name is" badge from offline, then slapped it on, morphing it a little, and presto, done.

Not quite.  You see, Amazon's cover creator requires 300 pixels per inch. I had 96 PPI.


Ahem.  Anyway.  So, back to the drawing board.

So, I had to go back to the beginning on the badge.  The image I had stolen from online hadn't been that high definition to start with, and I didn't like the blood spatter.

I made my own badge, from scratch, and tinkered with some blood spatter online. I had to adjust it later, in the image itself later on, but aside from that, it seemed to work.

After that, it was easy.  Start with red background.  Add black circle, white letters, past the badge over it, and we're done.

Then what do we do with the author name?  Simple white lettering?  Black on red?  Orange on red?  Seriously, what would make it easily distinguished from everything else? What would be bright enough to leap out and grab someone's attention if this were on a screen, or a bookshelf?

Enter Clive Cussler.  He's been an author I've read since I was a kid.  His Dirk Pitt novels were very much straightforward adventure stories, and he's been a bestselling author since, well, forever.  I remember he once mentioned how he was in advertising and insisted on four-color covers, so that it would be eye-catching.

So, I cheated.

Do you see something somewhat similar between the Flood Tide cover, and mine for It Was Only On Stun!  

I literally took the color from the title graphics, and used it to ink my own title.

And then there was the back cover, which I had to jury rig multiple times because I had to put text in with margins I couldn't see, and I had to account for a bar code I didn't have yet.

Not to mention, I hated the lower cases in the author name.

So, then it ended up like this.

And then there was the author picture.  A friend of mine told me I had a great Facebook photo, but it wasn't professional.  So, I had to fix that with freeware called Photofiltre.

So, at the end of the day, what does the full cover look like?

It looks something like this.

So, what do you all think? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Leave a comment below, and tell me what your opinion is.

We're getting close, people. Almost there.... We're so close, the next blog entry is number 300. I want to hold off until next week. I hope to have an announcement then.

What announcement? Well, the title I want is "Forget Sparta: I! AM! PUBLIIIIIIISHED!"

Let's see if Amazon can keep up with my ambition.

So, until next week, all.