Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review bombs and happy fun times!

So, I've been patiently waiting for Smashwords to finally distribute my free story collection to Barnes and Noble. I've been checking every day several times a day, and yesterday, Eureeka!!

Angels and Demons coverOnly, someone else beat me to it. Apparently, within 2-3 hours of the 11,000 word collection going live, someone had read it and given it two stars. Then, within 2 hours of that, another person gave it a scathing 1 star review--one of those that lamented the time spent reading the free work.

The funny thing about this is that I'm not upset about the one star. Sure, it might hurt the book from gaining more exposure, but honestly, Angels and Demons was just a fun experiment with first person perspectives where your afterlife can be determined by what someone else might do to you. I just thought it was something interesting to think about. Either some people really, really didn't see it as interesting or fun at all, or someone is legitimately review bombing me (I've read about these kinds of things on KB).

Here's the thing, though. Either way, I'm not mad at all. I'm not even a little upset. Publishing books is fun, and what I love about the books I'm working on is that I actually enjoy reading them. I've read Angels and Demons several times since I released it on September 3rd, and I still get a kick out of it.

The maelstroms? The homeless, amoral sidekick? The charred wings and the devil trying to kill as many people as he can before God's angels catch up with him? A naked angel walking around Oslo? It just seems fun to me. Someone else could have written it better, but for some reason, I had the idea instead. Sorry about that.

I've heard of authors who can't stand to read their books, and directors or actors who would never watch their movies again, but I'm just not feeling it. I have fun rereading my books and stories--often way more than I enjoy reading other authors.

Anyway, I expect a lot of 1 and 2 star reviews, and I'm sure I'll have earned them in spades. Maybe that comes with writing specifically what I want to read. It sounds pretty darn selfish, but it doesn't mean I don't want other readers to be happy and enjoy themselves. I value feedback from readers, and I hope that others take a chance on Angels and Demons and provide your opinions in all their unadulterated honesty and sharp, serrated edges.

You won't get backlash from me. You're more likely to get a high five and a thank you, especially if you actually offer valuable feedback. Sometimes, as an author, I can't see the forest for the trees. I've even had stories that intermingled with each other, and while I'm rereading one of them, I might patch it in my mind with stuff I wrote somewhere else and not notice where holes or something like that might lie. So a bad review is often a blessing in that regard, and I look forward to them.

It's all good. Heck, it's more than all good. It's fun! So, review bomb or not, I hope more people speak their minds about books and give honest reviews. 1 star, 2 stars, or 0 stars if you can manage it. If a book needs work, let other readers or the author know about it. Similarly, if you loved a book, tell everyone why in detail. It can only help us authors get better!

Happy reading everyone!

P.S. Before I finished this post, another reader appears to have plopped down a 5 star rating to offset the 1 and 2 stars and brought the average up to 2.5. Thanks whoever you are! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one having a good time reading these things :D!

P.P.S. In the spirit of the light-hearted way in which this collection was composed, I've updated the Smashwords description--which will eventually make its way to Barnes and Noble. It's sort of Samhainy :D!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Lessons Learned from Paperback Publishing at Lightning Source

Hello everyone,

The paperback is out for Lucifer's Odyssey, and boy have I learned some very valuable lessons from the process--and I do mean VALUABLE. Others who go through Create Space will probably have a different experience as CS is a lot more friendly with submitting revisions.

First, there's something I guess you should understand about Lightning Source. It's a business that seems setup around making you pay a lot of money upfront for setting up a title, and it can be pretty brutal for someone with a steep learning curve. You may think that a paperback is just as simple as uploading a PDF and whammo--job done. Right? Not quite.

There is no preview box for the book or anyway to check margins for readability or anything like that on either the cover or the interior PDF (the contents of the book). My cover illustrator had offered to take care of the cover part, but that ended up being a huge hassle as the interface just wasn't as easy as I guess Create Space is. He tried uploading it maybe four times, and I had to keep submitting revisions. In the end, we both got frustrated, and I took over that part--applying their template for a 5x8 stock (which isn't actually 5x8 inches, btw).

Anyway, I finally tweak the cover and interior and away goes the proof. That's $110 well spent, right? Everything is ready to go.

Not so fast.

I get the proof, and the back text is not quite the way I need it to be on the cover (so big and wide across the back that it looks goofy). Even worse, the interior is set to .5 inch margin all around--which was their recommended setting. Turns out a .5 inch setting makes the interior edge extremely difficult to read. The inside edge is simply too deep into the binding.

So, not only am I changing the cover (35 dollars) and the interior (35 dollars), but I'm ordering another proof to make sure this .75 inch interior actually works (I asked Lindsay at LS, but she just said "Oh yeah, lots of clients seem to use that. You'll like it."). Thanks for not telling me on the first batch and saving me 35 bucks before the book is even out! LOL.

So, 220 dollars down the tube and the book isn't even out in the wild yet. No one has seen it, and there is no indication that anyone will ever buy it--even though I'm sure my family would probably pick up some paper copies. I still haven't told family and friends about this book yet, and I'm not sure when or if I ever will. We'll see. Anyway, I just learned a 110 dollar lesson that I wanted to share with you guys. The initial 110 was expected, so I'm not including that. The lesson comes from the additional expense that I hadn't expected that was mostly due to the illegibility of the inside edge (which their customer service rep could have told me about during her proofing of the book).

Oh well, lesson learned. I found a typo since then, but I'm sorry, that will just have to wait until the 2nd edition--likely next year after my wedding because I'm running on fumes right now.

But you know what's really sick and twisted? Despite the cost, I'm totally stoked about it. I love the Matte finish, and from what I understand, CS just didn't have that. That being said, if a debut author ran up to me and asked me what they should do for paperback when starting out, I'd tell them definitely go with CS first. Less up front cost and it will give you practice on what to look out for with internal margins and such before you get in the hole early. Stupid hole.

Anyway, here's a webified version of the final upload. Lucifer's Odyssey is finally complete... for now...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Shorty Story Collection is up and free

Angels and Demons coverI have an article up on my reader blog about my free short story collection. My editor Derek Prior got the collection back to me in August, but with the release of Lucifer's Odyssey, it took me a bit of time to get the tertiary editing done and format it for Amazon and Smashwords.

The Amazon edition is still $0.99 while I wait for them to pricematch. The Smashwords edition is free for at least the next couple of months. So, if you like a well edited clash between angels and demons, get it a go!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tell Me About Your Odyssey (and get Lucifer's)

Lucifer's OdysseyWith the release of Lucifer's Odyssey, readers get a chance to follow the Crown Prince of Chaos across the multiverse--from Earth to Chaos, the Goblin Realm, and even part of a primal pattern (a projector of universes). His journey may cover trillions of light years and hundreds of pages, but he's also a fictional character. Let's get real for a minute.

I want to hear more about your life journey. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me want to reach out and give you a hug or a high five. And feel free to embellish if you like (i.e. make it all up if you want to spin a thick yarn on us!)


Top 5 odysseys get signed paperback copies of Lucifer's Odyssey (U.S. mailing addresses only) or an eBook version in the format of your choice (MOBI, EPUB, or PDF). Additionally, I'm throwing in Pink Snowbunnies Ski in Hell, a charity anthology that features one of my flash fictions.

No purchase of any kind is necessary. Here's all you need to do:

1.) Reply to this post with a comment detailing your odyssey. It can be two sentences. It can be hundreds.
2.) Indicate in your post what your email address is so I can contact you in case you are a winner. You can also send me an email at, if you would rather not leave your email address on this public website.
3.) Your odyssey must be less than or equal to 1,000 words. This is how much space we had available to tell our story in the Pink Snowbunnies Ski in Hell anthology and is about 4 pages worth of possibilities. Good luck!

Like one of the odysseys posted here? Then leave a comment and vote for it! Have fun, be creative, and win yourself a copy of my book and a great anthology for charity!

Contest ends September 10th!!

Embellished Example:

I was born in Alabama. I didn't have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of, but my mom Francis, brother Steve, sister Jackie and I had each other. We vagabonded around the Huntsville area, moving from home-to-home until I was eleven years old. That's when my mother formed a plan--not a particularly bright plan but a framework to temporary riches nonetheless.

She and my step father robbed five banks in the family van and clown suits, and they might have gotten away with it if they had been remarkably smarter. When the cops showed up at our door, Steve, Jackie, and I had no idea what was going on, but we were pretty sure it wasn't good. My younger siblings and I ogled Huntsville through the striped back window of a cop car as we were carried north to our father's house in Tennessee.

Somewhere along the way, we were told what our mother had done, but we didn't dwell on it. I dove into my books and theories, and my brother and sister started building friendships in elementary school. We adjusted well, all things considered, and I graduated in the top 25 of my class. I packed up my belongings and got ready to enroll in college, but I soon got a surprise from the financial aid office. Apparently, according to the IRS, I was a female.

At first blush, the perks seemed overwhelming. I was rooming with a hot, smart girl and the dorm featured community showers. Unfortunately, it also meant that I was being audited and ineligible for financial aid, and my girlfriend was absolutely livid about the possibility of me rooming with a hot, smart girl.

I convinced the ladies in administration that I wasn't a female but was never issued a male parking pass, which resulted in some amusing traffic court cases. After a year of trying to pay for college with a full time job waiting tables, I decided to take up an offer that some researchers had presented me with through college channels and dropped out of school.

The new job was located in the tropical paradise of St. Cloud, MN. 9 months of winter and wind chills frequenting the negative thirty range. Oh, and the Fargo accents that they swore they didn't have!

The terrorist attacks happened shortly after we started our company, and the market for our research was practically obliterated. We stumbled along for another three years, I got married, and then I got out of the four digit salary (you read that correctly).

We moved back to Tennessee, I went back to college as a card-carrying man this time and actually received financial aid. Woo hoo! It's like Christmas! Then I got divorced, earned three degrees, and met my fiancee at a charity strip poker game for graduate students and senior citizens on Halloween.

So, my Odyssey took me from Alabama to Tennessee, Minnesota, and back to Tennessee. Where has your journey taken you?

P.S. Remember, embellished.