Posts Tagged ‘sekrit project’

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.)


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.


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?

Limbo and April

I find myself in kind of a weird place right now. The sekrit project still needs work–most of that marketing stuff we talked about last week, though the excerpt has gone out for approval and will go up at the beginning of the month–but there’s nothing I can actively do while I wait for my co-writer’s input on the book description and the cover.

So I’m in this sort of limbo. I feel like I can’t start up one of my other novel projects while the marketing stuff for the sekrit project is still outstanding, but I also feel like I should be doing something.

The best I can figure for the moment is that I’ll do some short stories. I have some written but not typed up, and other ones that need to be submitted. But, unfortunately, that’s probably only 2-3 hours of work, and then I’ll be stuck again, because it sounds like I’ll be getting nothing from my co-writer until Sunday (boo!).

I could…write a new short, I suppose? I’m delaying the release of my short story collection until the fall, even though it’s essentially done, because what’s the point of putting out two books within a month and then potentially nothing else for the rest of the year? (Although…now that I think about it, I think I’ve got an anthology coming out in the fall. Maybe release it late summer, then? Argh.)

I guess the next step would be to move on to my nonfiction books until the marketing for the sekrit project is done.

I mean, some of that will be ongoing, such as contacting potential reviewers or bloggers, but that’s not necessarily creative in any way.

For April I’d like to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. Camp is very hit or miss for me in terms of whether it’s useful or not, but I figure why not try? I’m behind on everything for the year, and it might help me get back on track. I’ve set a goal of 15K and will primarily be working on my scifi space adventure with dinosaurs (you may remember that from Nano 2014) which needs about 25K more on the first draft.

I’d like to work on my submission docs (query/synopsis) for my YA paranormal novel too, but I’m not sure it’s possible to be into two different books that closely, so that may be a terrible idea. Especially with ongoing sekrit project stuff happening.

I don’t know if I will be able to work on the scifi novel while also getting the sekrit project launched, but I suppose I can do 15K on my nonfic stuff instead. There’s certainly that much (probably closer to 25K, or more) to be done there as well.

Can you do submission stuff for one novel while writing and/or marketing another, squiders? Any tips on keeping everything straight?

Ah, Marketing

Happy St. Paddy’s, Squiders! I should have probably drawn you a landsquid, but that would require me to have foresight. And not be still recovering from brain fatigue.

There is in theory wifi here, but the wifi is a lie. So who knows when you will get this! Bwhahahaha. (Probably in about an hour when I get home. But you’ll never know, because you have no idea when it is right now.)

Sorry. Sorry. I am so behind on sleep.

Now that the revising portion of the sekrit project is done, in theory, it’s time to move on to marketing. Marketing, bane of authors everywhere. But, alas, it must be done. The following is both a to do list for me, and an idea of what needs to be done in general if you’ve never marketed a novel and plan to attempt it sometime in the near future.

  1. Cover
    We’ve talked covers before. Covers are super important, because people totally judge books by their covers.
  2. Book Description
    The book description is also super important. It goes everywhere, from Amazon to book release announcements to guest blogs to the back of the book itself. It’s got to sell the book without being misleading. They are hard and some of mine have not gone well in the past. At least I’ve got a cohort this time?
  3. Marketing Plan
    A marketing plan is a single place for you to lay out and keep track of all the marketing you’re doing. It includes things like planned advertising, reviewers to contact, people/blogs to contact about guest posts, promotions you’re planning (like who you’re releasing info, such as a cover reveal, to), extras you plan to release and where you’re releasing them to, teasers or excerpts, etc.
  4. Contacting People
    Once you’ve got your marketing plan in hand, you’ve got to start implementing it. Normally this involves contacting people first–many websites require at least a month lead time, and if you’re asking someone to review your book, they might have a backlog. Plus, there seems to be a lousy return on reviews vs. number of people you contact–5% or something. So if you want 10 reviews, you might need to contact 200 people or more. You can also hire people to set up a blog tour for you, which is usually fairly reasonably priced, though I have not used this service myself.
  5. Put Up Other Materials
    The good news is that it’s easy to upload things places, like your website or Goodreads or Amazon or wherever, so you can do this last, or throughout your marketing process as you want, without worrying too much about timing.

That’s the basic premise. I’d better get on it.

Hope you have a lovely Thursday and weekend, Squiders! If you have any marketing tips you’d like to share–things that have worked well for you, people who have been helpful, etc.–please do! It never hurts to have some help! Oh, and if you’re interested in being part of our book’s release (it’s due out May 1), either through hosting a cover release or guest post, or acting as a reviewer (it’s high fantasy), or whatnot, leave me a comment here or shoot me an email at kit m campbell at gmail dot com.

Why You Need to Plan Out Your Revisions

Our revision is finally done, squiders! \o/ (That’s a little guy throwing his hands in the air.) I mean, until we get comments and stuff back and have to finalize things before release. But huzzah!

I don’t normally stuff my entire revision process into 5 weeks, but this process, and especially the last few days, has reminded me how important it is to know what you’re changing before you get into it.

Because revision is exhausting. Someone once told me that writing is right-brained, but revision is left-brained. You have to take what you have and make it a coherent, entertaining, relevant story. Your character motivations must make sense. All foreshadowing must be properly foreshadowed. All characters and important plot objects must be firmly entrenched in the story and not come out of left field later.

And, as I have been reminded but has also been true on previous revisions, by the time I get near the end of the book, my brain hurts. I can’t think anymore. And if I haven’t written down what, specifically, needs to change, I’m too tired to figure things out. Which is not good, because you want your ending to be amazing, so that your reader leaves feeling satisfied and/or motivated to move on to the next book, in the case of a series.

There’s also the issue with revision fatigue, which is where you know you’re changing things, but you can’t tell if you’re making things better or worse. Again, if you’ve planned your revision out, the odds are the story is getting better, even if it doesn’t feel like it, because you’re moving in the right direction.

How does one plan out a revision?

Well, it varies from person to person, but, in general, you look at your overall story. You look at your plot and character arcs. Are they complete? Are there steps missing that need to be added in? Do they logically make sense? Are you using your setting to its fullest potential?

And after you identify issues, you make a plan for changes. Do things need to be added? Do things need to be removed? And you plan where those changes go.

And then, after all that, you start revising. And because you know where you’re going and how you plan to get there, you can power right through fatigue and brain death.

Planning! You can get through a novel draft without it, but your revision is going to be a million times harder without it.

What do you think, Squiders? Have you revised without a plan? How did it go? If you do plan, how much work do you put in before you get going?

Creating the Right Cover Art

Well, Squiders, work continues apace on getting this novel ready for release in May. We’re finishing up our final revisions and the manuscript is due back to the copyeditor/proofreader in a few days. And now we have a title, so we can get going on our marketing.

So the next step is, of course, the cover.

I mean, ideally, we would have gotten started on the cover months ago. If you’re in charge of your own cover art, listen to me: GET THIS GOING EARLY. I like to do it at least six months out, normally, which gives you time to butt heads with the cover artist, get changes fixed, have a nice, well-marketed cover reveal (preferably linked to a pre-order), and not have to worry about things.

Six months ago we didn’t even have a first draft. I am learning all sorts of things about working to a deadline when there’s a year between concept and publication. Mostly things like This Is a Bad Idea and Oh God What Have I Gotten Myself Into. I’m not sure how people who put out a book or three a year do this.

The nice thing about working with Turtleduck Press is that we have control over our own cover art, because I know that can be an issue at times. (I have a friend who recently had a historical fantasy novel traditionally published, and he says sales and reviews have been good, but he’s very disappointed in his cover art. He fought to get his main character on it and the publisher ignored him.) On the other hand, now we’ve got to figure it out ourselves. And not only does it have to be representative of this novel and portray the general tone and genre of the story, but it’s got to launch a shared world series, so it has to be in a style that subsequent books/novellas, etc. can follow.

I feel like none of my previous books have been this hard. For Hidden Worlds the artist was a friend, and I just let her read the book and then come up with a cover. For Shards I had a clear idea what I wanted and what was usual for the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre.

Here we’ve got high fantasy, which points more toward hand-drawn illustration, but we could also do something more symbolic.

Options, options, but we’ve got to get it figured out and done.

Any recs, Squiders? Thoughts on illustration vs symbols? Cover artists you’ve used that you like?

Picking a Title: Surprisingly Hard

My co-writer (the lovely Siri Paulson) and I are deep into our revision for our novel coming out in May. I feel like it’s going fairly smoothly, because we identified a lot of issues ourselves and got started on fixes before we got our comments back from our editor. Siri may feel otherwise. We haven’t been in several-times-a-day touch like when we were writing and so now I feel like I have no idea what she’s thinking anymore.

But we’ve run into what’s turned out to be a difficult and complex issue: we can’t pick a title.

Titles are notoriously hard in general. You want something that evokes the theme and tone of the story without being too obvious, something catchy but not misleading. With my novels, I tend to pick a title before I start writing. This isn’t really the best practice, as the titles often times don’t fit by the time I’m done, but I find it hard to undertake a large project without a name. (Luckily with short stories, I can write them and then title them, which works much better.)

Siri deemed this the “Sekrit Project” at the beginning, which stuck, and has worked for getting around whatever name-hangup I have with novels, but now we need a real title because we’ve got to get the book up for pre-order, get the cover art done, reach out to reviewers, etc. And we can’t do anything of that without a title.

And we’re stumped. Because of the structure of the novel, we essentially have two of everything–two main characters, two settings, two plots. There are things and themes and everything that overlap, but finding something that makes sense for both characters and both worlds and the over-arcing themes has proven elusive.

We’ve bounced from more literal titles to more metaphorical titles and back again with no luck. We’ve looked at recent releases in the same genre to get an idea of title trends with no luck. We’ve asked our editor and our betas for suggestions. Again, no luck.

I kind of want to laugh. We worldbuilt together, we plotted and wrote and are now revising together, and we can’t manage a little thing like picking a couple of words to slap on the front of it.

Siri jokingly suggested we just call it the Secret Project, but alas, it will not work.

Any suggestions, Squiders? We’re at our wits’ end. Any thoughts about titling or things that have worked for you (or things that you look for when picking a book to read)?

Using Worldbuilding to Bring Your Story to Life

I’m into the final revision on this co-written story coming out in May, and there was some commonality among comments from the editor and our beta readers:

  • The setting reads a little generic
  • My main character’s initial plan seems a little confused
  • Why are the two side characters not seeing what the main character sees, re: danger?

Now, this may look like a bevy of issues, but they all have their root in one thing: worldbuilding.

As a quick recap, Wikipedia defines worldbuilding as “the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe.” All fiction requires worldbuilding, but it’s mostly associated with science fiction and fantasy.

The thing is, everything else stems from your worldbuilding. Your characters, their motivations, the plot, the setting–so if you’re winging it or are a little unclear on something, that’s going to be painfully obvious in your narration.

I’ve found, when creating secondary worlds, that it’s hard to get it right the first time. That, despite thinking things through and planning things out, there’s always something that you’ve forgotten, or that gets fleshed out through the actual writing. Or, in this particular case, you notice something your co-writer is doing that would be excellent to incorporate into your own stuff.

The good news is that everything is fixable. By fleshing out your worldbuilding, you can make your settings feel real, your characters relate-able, and your plot cohesive. The better you understand it, the better the underlining structure of your entire story is.

That’s why stories where the worldbuilding was an afterthought or deemed not important feel contrived and derivative. There’s a key element missing from them that all the pretty prose and excitement in the world won’t fix.

The good news for me is that now that the first draft is finished and that I’ve done some additional worldbuilding in spots that I identified as lacking, those beginning problems can be solved with some tweaks to bring everything into proper alignment. And it sounds like everything else is pretty good to go.

Have you found issues stemming from improper or incomplete worldbuilding, Squiders? Have you ever read a book with obvious worldbuilding fails?