Posts Tagged ‘City of Hope and Ruin’

Happy 50th, Star Trek! (and a tour update)

Yesterday was Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, Squiders! I find the date easy to remember, not only because I’ve been a lifelong Trekkie, but also because September 8th also happens to be my wedding anniversary.

That was not on purpose.

You’d think I could get my act together to actually post on the anniversary, but hey! This way I stand out from the crowd! A rebel, that’s me. Totally. A rebel.

Anyway, Trek has been a major part of my life since it was little and has, in many ways, shaped me as an adult. Some of my earliest memories are watching original series reruns with my parents, and I went into engineering as a major in college in a large part because Geordi Laforge was my favorite character on Next Generation. I spent my teenaged years roleplaying Star Trek on AOL, testing out new characters and new situations, which I think helped my writing and creativity immensely (especially because I got my Mary Sue tendencies out there as opposed to the first novel I ever wrote).

My mother recently moved out of my childhood home, so I had to confront the many belongings I’d left behind, which, to no one’s surprise, included ~50 Star Trek books, probably as many action figures, a model of the original Enterprise, an Enterprise-D engineering playset, a tricorder, a phaser….

You get the idea.

I like science fiction but I adore Trek, and I think a lot of that is the generally optimistic mindset of the franchise. Even darker series like DS9 still hold the core belief that we are ultimately good and trying our best to do what’s right. (If you haven’t watched DS9, do.) I read a lot of original series books as a kid/teenager, and the strong friendship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy has always been very inspirational to me as well.

So here’s to 50 years, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the silly. Keep on boldly going.

(Also, I read this article on Upworthy and thought it was silly, so here you go.)

For those of you who are following Siri’s and my long tour for City of Hope and Ruin (we’re giving away away a $50 Amazon giftcard), here are the stops since the last time I posted about it. We have three more stops, on the 15th, 22nd, and 29th, and then freedom! We’ve been getting lots of good response on the tour, but it doesn’t seem to be directly contributing to sales.

Each tour stop has the blurb, one of a variety of excerpts, and giveaway info.

Anyway, I hope your September is off to a good start, Squiders. Do anything fun to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th? Thoughts on Trek in general?

PitchWars, Tours, and Miscellany

Oh, Squiders, what a week I’ve had. Did I tell you that my stove caught fire? I think I did. It looks like we might actually get some money from the repair company, though! (We had someone out to check a burner on it–then the next time the burner was turned on, the entire electric system went up in flames.) But I also had to get the brakes replaced on my car, get a radon mitigation system installed, interview painters because we had a whole bunch of hail damage, etc. But in somewhat positive news, I’ve finally had the trim taken off the car so at least I never have to deal with that madness again.

Anyway, it’s been rough. I mostly want to burrow under my desk and read trashy romances and old Star Trek novels but, alas, I am an adult and have adulting to do. I mean, not that it’s getting done in a timely fashion, but I’m at least pretending.

In writing news, here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve got a new City of Hope and Ruin related prequel short story up for free over at Turtleduck Press! So if you liked CoHaR and would like more, there you go! And if you haven’t picked up CoHaR and would like a taste, tadah, free story! There’s also a free excerpt available.
  • So, apparently the application window for PitchWars was the 3rd thru the 6th. I like the idea of Twitter pitches and so have had the schedule open since January, yet have somehow managed to miss every event anyhow. PitchWars is a little more complicated–you pick four mentors and send in your first chapter and query letter, and if they pick you, they’ll help you polish your manuscript and query, and then in November they’ve got a panel of agents that look at the submissions, and I guess there’s been great success at people getting traditional publishing deals through it. Since there was a multi-day opening, I actually heard about it in time to get an application in for my YA paranormal novel, which I’m planning on going more traditional with.
  • I did, however, send in my application about 3 hours before the window closed. I guess if mentors are interested, they’re sending partial/full requests, and you’ll know you were selected before the official announcement on the 26th. I’ve heard nothing. It could be that I’m at the bottom of the queue and people haven’t gotten to me, or it could just be that I was so late into the game that people already had their eye on favorites. Or my submission could suck, but I’m trying to be optimistic.
  • I’ve finally got some momentum on editing the first book of my fantasy trilogy. It needs so much work. But I’m starting to see what it could be, and that normally helps on the motivation front.
  • But seriously, it needs so much work.
  • I joined Wattpad! You can find my profile here but I haven’t done much as of yet. A very nice author (whom you can find here) has been a doll about taking me under her wing and telling me how the site works.
  • We’re doing a space princess anthology for Turtleduck Press this year, so I’ve been working on that. I’m rather pleased with my story for it. I had a lot of fun doing science fiction instead of my normal fantasy–and space adventure science fiction at that.
  • Our long-term blog tour’s on right now. We’re giving away a $50 gift card again, so stop by any of the stops to enter. Thus far we have:
  • All stops have excerpts and blurbs and what have you, as well as tons of ways to enter the contest for the gift card.

I think that’s it in a nutshell. How are you, Squiders? Have you gotten up to anything fun or exciting lately?

New Marketing–How’s It Going?

So, Squiders, at the end of April I told you about some new marketing techniques Siri and I were giving a try, since there’s two of us to share the costs and whatnot.

Since then, the book has launched and I now have feedback on some of the things we’ve done. I thought it might be useful for other indie authors to see how things have worked for us. If you are also an indie author and have some technique you’ve found beneficial, let us know! (Also, if you are a reader, let me know if you have a go-to way to find new books/authors.)

As a recap, here are the things Siri and I are trying/have tried out:

  • fancy-butt cover
  • 1-day book blitz (last week, June 9)
  • 12-week blog tour (not yet started, no data yet)
  • pre-orders
  • in-person launch party (Siri, in Toronto, on May 29)
  • FB launch party
  • Goodreads ad/giveaway combo

So, how have things gone? Let’s break it down. Actually, let me preface by saying that sales for City of Hope and Ruin have been over double what my previous releases have done, and, in general, I think a lot of that comes from there being two of us. But, moving on:

  • Fancy-butt cover. I don’t know that this has directly influenced sales, but we’ve gotten a lot of compliments, and the bookstore Siri did her launch at said they’d put the book front and center in the display because it looked so great. Also, I was super happy with the process and the results and will probably use our designer (Deranged Doctor Designs) again in the future.
  • 1-day book blitz. We ran this last Thursday, June 9. We had about 30 blogs pick up the book, all of which were lovely, though some have gone above and beyond and are still tweeting, etc. about the book over a week later. We discounted the ebook version to $.99 for the duration of the blitz, and I think it cost us ~$70. The blitz, not discounting. Very exhausting–I went through all the blogs four times to thank the hosts and answer questions from commenters. We also gave away a $50 Amazon gift card as part of the tour, so all-in-all we spent ~$120 on the book blitz.

That being said, we sold four books during the duration of the blitz/giveaway (two days), which is not terribly encouraging. In the week since, we’ve sold an additional ebook (and had someone use Kindle’s matchbook program to get a free ebook after buying a paperback version). We’ve also sold two paperbacks. Are those additional sales related? Maybe? No real way to know. But $120 for four books is not a good return on investment.

Now, saying that, the book blitz did get us about 150 adds on Goodreads. That’s pretty decent. We’ll have to see how many of those convert to sales/reviews over the next few months. And, in general, the people commenting seemed genuinely excited about the book. Two of the blogs did include reviews, one who had finished the book and loved it, and one who was only part of the way in (and was loving it). Those reviews are only on the blogs (not cross-posted to Goodreads or Amazon), but they’re still something.

It certainly put the book out in front a bunch of new people, if nothing else. Now we watch and wait.

  • 12-week blog tour. Again, this starts mid-July. At some point I believe we get sent a list of guest post/interview requests and then have to fulfill it, so this one’s going to be a ton of work too. At least it’s one post per week, so less constant stalking to do.
  • Pre-orders. We ran pre-orders on all the ebook platforms, though the only ones we got a statistically relevant amount of sales on were Kindle and Kobo. And it did help our sales rankings–all those preorders counted as sales on launch day, which got us up in the Top 100 in a couple of categories. So in general, I recommend doing this. Why not?
  • In-person launch party. Siri threw an in-person launch party at her local SFF store in Toronto. You can read about her experience in more detail here. I was not there, since Siri and I live in different countries, but from what she’s told me it went well. Siri’s been inspired by its success to contact other independent bookstores in her area, and at least one more has also been persuaded to stock the book. I should…probably do that too. >_>
  • FB launch party. We did do a virtual launch party on the actual date of the book release, which went pretty well. (You can see it here.) We got a lot of great questions, and the whole thing seemed pretty high energy. We gained a number of new followers for our publisher, Turtleduck Press, and did “party favors” (I guess you’re not technically allowed to do giveaways on FB) of copies of the book and one $20 Amazon gift card. I’d do one again.

Though re: gift card giveaways in general–I’d be interested to see if lowering the amount of the gift card affected participation at all. I’d bet you it wouldn’t. With the FB party one, the girl who won it didn’t even know we were giving one away.

  • Goodreads giveaway/ad. I’ve done this for all my books, and typically it works really well. I feel like it’s not working as well this time around. I’ve been steadily increasing the price per click in an attempt to increase views, but nothing’s really worked. The ad(s) have been running for a month–the giveaway ends today–and the ads have only been shown 16,000 times. Comparatively, the ad campaigns for both Hidden Worlds and Shards have over 304,000 views each. Not sure what’s up–at first I thought it might be because I limited the target audience more for CoHaR, but I actually had a lot less categories selected for Shards, and it had the most views. (For clarification, “views” in this case is just Goodreads popping the ad up on someone’s page. There’s no guarantee that someone will actually see it, just that it is there to be seen. Goodreads also keeps track of how many times someone clicks, and charges you money per click. I use the ads to drive people to the giveaways while they’re live.)

(If we’re going off clicks, CoHaR has 16, while Shards got 133 and Hidden Worlds got 172. No doubt due to the massively lower views.)

Speaking of which, here’s the link to giveaway–it ends tonight. We’re giving away three paperback copies, and as of me writing this, there’s 684 people signed up.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

City of Hope and Ruin by Kit Campbell

City of Hope and Ruin

by Kit Campbell

Giveaway ends June 18, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Comparatively, Shards had ~750 people enter, and Hidden Worlds had ~950. You always get a ton of people last minute, so it will be interesting to see what the final count ends up being.

Now, I think a lot of the giveaway people are coming from Twitter/the book blitz, judging by the lousy numbers on the ad.

What’s up with this ad compared to previous ones? It has nothing to do your actual ad copy, so is the competition just more fierce now? More people using the ads, so you have to fight more to get yours seen? Raise your per click price to a couple of dollars? Maybe so. I’m going to have quite a bit of money left over after the giveaway ends, so I’ll experiment with changing prices/categories to see if anything helps. But it may be that my old go-to of giveaways/ads isn’t as viable as it used to be.

So, that’s me thus far! Anything else you’d recommend, squiders?

New Directions

Oof, squiders. Yesterday was rough. On top of it all, our one-day book blitz ran, so I needed to stop by the many many blogs throughout the day to respond to comments and whatnot. Oy vey, that’s tiring! I’ll give you guys an update on how our new marketing things are working out thus far next week. Probably Friday.

We’ve got City of Hope and Ruin on sale for $0.99 for the blitz, and our giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card is still open for another 12 hours or so. All the information you need to enter can be found here. Also, you should totally pick up the ebook while it’s on sale, because it’s $4.99 normally. 80% off! Woo!

So, marketing for CoHaR is winding down, though there’s still some stuff to do–we’re doing a longer blog tour in July/August that will need guest posts and interviews written, and there’s book stores/libraries to talk to, and the like, but in general, I can move on to other things.

I thought I’d talked about this here, but I don’t see it anywhere, so maybe I just talked about it over at Turtleduck Press. At the beginning of the year, I made a spreadsheet of all my writing projects for the year, with the dates I thought I’d work on them and some basic notes about current status. And then working on CoHaR ate everything and I found myself extremely behind on the whole idea.

At first I thought I’d just catch up on everything, but then logic caught up, so I decided to just pick the most important thing on the list and make sure that got done, and everything else could get done as there was time.

So, I’m revising/rewriting the first book in my high fantasy trilogy. You guys probably remember me talking about this here. (I thought I had a tag specifically for it, but apparently I don’t and that’s dumb.) I wrote the first draft on Book 3 in 2014. The current draft of Book 1 was written 2009/2010, and ew, is it bad.

Like, really really bad. Hence the rewriting part of said revision. I’m sorry I asked people to read this version, which is saying something, because I was really sorry I made people read the original version (written 2004/2005, and my first finished novel draft).

You know, if I ever get this book done decently, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life.

So, that’s the current plan! Revising/rewriting. I did get slightly sidetracked by the whole Shards thing (and also looking a language building class), but I’m focused again now.

How was your Thursday, squiders? Big plans for the weekend?

City of Hope and Ruin is out! And Miscellany.

Happy Thursday, Squiders! I think I’ve overloaded my desktop refreshing everything to stalk the book release, so I’ve had to retreat to my laptop. Very classy.

City of Hope and Ruin is out in the world! And so far, so good. We’ve already got a 5-star review on Amazon, and two on Goodreads! The Amazon and one of the Goodreads ones is from another author I look up to greatly, so I’m pretty tickled.

Our FB release party last night was pretty wild. I’ve never been so tired from something virtual before. Hopefully all had a good time, and thanks for coming, if you did. If you didn’t, well, you missed out.

Here’s the round-up of launch stuff for the week thus far:

An interview with me
An interview with both Siri and me (a lot of process stuff)
An interview with Briony, one of our main characters

And here are the buy links. You should think about picking up a copy, since apparently it’s 5-star material. 😉

(Amazon | Paperback | Nook | iBookstore | Kobo)

And you can add it on Goodreads here.

Next week we’ll be back to our normal fare around here. Thanks for your support with the book launch!

Hooray! City of Hope and Ruin is out tomorrow!

It’s launch week! On one hand, yay! On the other, oh God, the nerves. Will anyone like the book? Will anyone buy the book? These are things I worry about each and every time I have a new book out. Mostly with novels. I suspect a lot of authors feel the same way.

But anyway! City of Hope and Ruin is being released tomorrow! Ebook versions (except Kobo) are available for pre-order for 40% of the final list price, so I’d recommend you take advantage of that while you can.

You can pre-order here:

(Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBookstore | Kobo)

We’re also going to have a release party on Facebook! Since Siri and I don’t live in the same country, it’s the easiest way for us to do a joint one, and you’re invited! We’ll have opportunities throughout the night to get a copy of the new book, or if you already have a copy, another Turtleduck Press book. We’ll also have other things, like an Amazon gift card and so forth. It should be a good time!

I’ll be in and out all week with different going-ons. Please let me know if you have any questions about the book or anything!

Cover Reveal: City of Hope and Ruin by Kit Campbell and Siri Paulson

Tada! Here we go, guys!

City of Hope and Ruin cover

Every night the monsters hunt.

A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.

They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.

A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.

When Theosophy and Briony accidentally make contact across the boundaries of their worlds, they realize that solutions might finally be within reach. A world beyond the City would give Theosophy’s people an escape, and the City’s warriors could help Briony protect her family from the Scarred. Each woman sees in the other a strength she lacks—and maybe something more.

All they need to do is find a way across the dimensions to each other before their enemies close in.

(Pre-order: Amazon | iBookstore | Nook )

The pre-order price is $2.99 until the book releases on May 11, and then it will go up. A paperback version will also be available on the 11th.

Trying Out New Marketing

Happy Friday, Squiders. My apologies for once again dropping the blog when things get busy.

Here’s the good things for this week:

  • I figured out why my website was fubared and have fixed the issue (which took several emails to tech support and contacting my old host). I will have to fix all the images individually, which sucks, but at least now they are fixable.
  • We got the final cover art for City of Hope and Ruin, which looks awesome.
  • The final edits on City of Hope and Ruin were completed.
  • The ebook formats of City of Hope and Ruin were completed and uploaded to all ebook distributors (except for Kobo which will go live on release day) and pre-orders are live.
  • The paperback version of City of Hope and Ruin is ready to go, with the exception of some back matter.

It’s been a lot of work (as a professional book formatter, I’m the one who does most of the formatting for Turtleduck Press releases) but now the hard part is done, and I can focus on marketing. Yay!

Because there’s two of us, Siri and I have decided to try out some more expensive marketing techniques since we can split the price. I’ll come back in a few months to let you know if they were worth the money. But here are some things we’re trying:

  • We splurged on a fancy-butt book cover. Personally, I’m pleased with the results, but we’ll have to see if it significantly increases sales above previous books. We all know that, despite the saying, people do judge books by their covers. We’re doing the official cover reveal on Sunday, so check back then to take a look.
  • We’ve signed up to do both a book blitz and a long-term (12-week) blog tour. A book blitz is a one-day tour on a bunch of blogs, so we’re hoping that the combo of a lot, short-term and the more spread out ones will get and keep momentum up.
  • We’re also doing pre-orders, which don’t cost money. I think I’ve talked about them before. It will be interesting to see if they help boost first day sales or not.
  • Siri’s hosting an in-person launch party at her local scifi/fantasy book store in Toronto. I’ve never done an in-person launch and have never really had the inclination to do one either, so I will be interested to see how that goes down.
  • We’re also going to do a launch day party on Facebook. I’ll get you guys details on that once we know them (probably the middle of next week).

We’re going to do the combo of a Goodreads giveaway/ad again, which I’ve done with each of my previous books, and that generally works pretty well.

Anything you’ve tried that has really been worth the money, Squiders? Readers, what attracts you to new author/books (i.e., what sort of advertising do you find works on you)?

See you Sunday!

Why They Tell You Not To Use Speech Tags

This advice seems to be everywhere lately, Squiders. Have you seen it? The basic gist is that using speech tags when you write is amateurish and distracting.

I feel like this advice can be really confusing to people, especially newer writers. So! To clarify, this is advice is not telling you to leave off speech tags. Then you get something like this:

“How dare you!” Jenny said.
“How dare you!” said Louise.
“You knew he was my boyfriend! You had no right to invite him to go to that party with you!”
“Hey, you were busy and he was lonely! What’s so bad about keeping a friend happy?”
“Oh, is that what they call it these days.”
“Look, I don’t like your tone.”
“Listen to you! Don’t like my tone. Like you have any room to talk.”
“I have a freaking mansion compared to you!”

Do you see the issue? After a couple lines of dialogue, it becomes near impossible to keep track of who’s actually talking. If your readers have to stop and count to see who’s talking, that’s a bad thing.

So speech tags are good, right? Well, kind of. Here’s an older post about general speech tag usage, but generally you should be conservative with what speech tags you’re using. Or not use them at all!

Here we get into the root of the above advice. You need speech tags to tell who’s talking, but if you overuse them, you get what’s called Talking Heads Syndrome.

Here’s an example of that:

“How dare you!” Jenny said.
“How dare you!” said Louise.
“You knew he was my boyfriend!” Jenny cried. “You had no right to invite him to go to that party with you!”
“Hey, you were busy and he was lonely! What’s so bad about keeping a friend happy?” asked Louise.
“Oh, is that what they call it these days,” said Jenny scornfully.
“Look, I don’t like your tone,” said Louise.
“Listen to you! Don’t like my tone. Like you have any room to talk,” retorted Jenny.
“I have a freaking mansion compared to you!” shouted Louise.

See the problem now, Squiders? We might know who’s saying what, but it gets repetitive and boring, because Jenny and Louise aren’t doing squat except talking. It’s also completely unrealistic, because who just stands there and talks in the middle of a fight?

So when people say ‘don’t use speech tags,” they’re not saying to make it impossible to tell who’s talking. They’re saying to have your characters do something instead of being a talking head.

Jenny pushed through the crowd to Louise. “How dare you!”
Louise pulled away from the girl she’d been talking to, towering over Jenny. “How dare you!”
“You knew he was my boyfriend!” Jenny cried. “You had no right to invite him to go to that party with you!”
“Hey, you were busy and he was lonely! What’s so bad about keeping a friend happy?” Louise smirked at her, and Jenny dug her nails into her palms to keep from hitting her.
“Oh, is that what they call it these days,” said Jenny, letting the scorn drip through her voice.
That got Louise’s full attention. “Look, I don’t like your tone.”
“Listen to you! Don’t like my tone.” Jenny crossed her arms over her chest. “Like you have any room to talk.”
Louise’s eyes flashed. “I have a freaking mansion compared to you!”

Now, that’s a late-night first draft example, but do you see the difference? You know who’s talking through the action, and now it’s much more engaging than just having two people yell at each other. You can use actions, thoughts, etc. instead of speech tags to give a sense of emotion, setting, what have you. And, sure, the odd speech tag can stay. Sometimes people do just say something. But in this case, they’re also doing other things.

Have any thoughts about speech tags, Squiders?

Also, good news! City of Hope and Ruin is now available for pre-order on Amazon! We’ve got it on sale until launch. Only the ebook version is available for pre-order, but there will be physical copies launching at the same time on May 11. And if you missed the excerpt, you can read it here. Pick it up now before the price goes up! (Or wait until we get a cover.)

(It will also be available for pre-order on other ebook platforms, such as Nook and the iBookstore. Lemme know if you prefer one of those and I shall link you.)

Whew!

Good news, Squiders! We got a cover artist all picked out and set up and our book description finished AND you can go read our excerpt here! (I’ll wait while you do.)

Now it’s on to the more mundane (and less visible) marketing stuff. Again, if you’d be interested in hosting us for a cover reveal or the book launch, let me know! Or if you’d like to review.

So that’s a heavy weight off my chest.

Although, now that’s done with, I am reminded that I need to do final edits and check copyedits and all that lovely stuff.

Hmm.

Pre-orders should go live later today or tomorrow, so I shall retroactively come back and post those as well, and mention them on Thursday.

I have not moved on to other projects and find myself mostly unmotivated to, which is, of course, the issue with marketing. It kind of drains all your creative stores, and because I write/edit for my real job as well, there’s not much left at the moment. I hope to move on to Camp some time today. Not the space dinosaurs, no–and probably won’t get to them until later in the month after the edits are done–but the nonfiction books.

In non-writing news, I’ve got a triathlon coming up in a little over two months, so I’ve got to start training for that too. I don’t think I’ve been swimming in over a year.

What’s up with you, Squiders? How’d you like the excerpt?