January 18, 2012 in Dag

Everyone in Publishing is (Slightly) Insane Right Now: Guest Post by JC Andrijeski

Today I’m pleased to have another visitor to Dag-Lit Central. JC Andrijeski has popped in, all the way from the foothills of the Himalayas, with an interesting take on current attitudes to book marketing. Take it away, JC.

Everyone in Publishing is (Slightly) Insane Right Now

People are totally going nuts in the new world of publishing. As my Aussie friends would say (there’s really no good equivalent in American-speak), tons of people have totally lost the plot, and are running around in a near-hysterical panic in the midst of all of these changes.

This truth only sunk in relatively recently for me, as I kept my head down pretty much for the past 12 months, focusing first on getting myself in a position where I could focus more on the writing, and then by actively, well…writing. It’s allowed me to observe some of the craziness without getting too attached. I basically told myself I’d join the melee once I’d built my inventory enough to make it worth my while, and until then I’d watch all of the freaking out from a safe distance.

Then Christmas loomed on the horizon, and I began to feel that pressure like most writers and small publishers I know. Got to GET IT OUT THERE, got to be seen, got to get freebies and specials up on Amazon, Twitter my brains out, network, give things away, come up with a gimmick, drive everyone I know on Facebook totally bat crazy, join in promotions, pay for ads, and, and, and… (can you feel the hysteria building…?)

SELL! SELL! SELL!

All of a sudden, I found myself back trying to navigate that same scarcity mindset that sent me packing from corporate culture in the first place. You have your gurus telling you “there’s only one way to do this.” You have the fearful newbies, convinced that they only have this tiny window of time to get famous (always off their first book, or maybe their second). It’s implied of course, that if they miss that window, then it’s all over for them, they might as well go back to flipping hamburgers or mindlessly entering data into spreadsheets for some insurance company in Akron, Ohio. You’ve got people willing to treat their work like it’s a worthless, plastic trinket in the “we’re about to chuck this crap out” sale bin at Wal-Mart. You’ve basically got people reacting, reacting, reacting…and not really stopping to think if all of this fear and the mindless (often lemming-like) activity it produces is really getting them anywhere.

Then you’ve got the old pros in this business watching all of this and shaking their heads in disbelief.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally get the fear. I’ve been suckered in by it more than once myself. I’ve had that nausea-inducing feeling of dread that if I somehow “miss my chance,” I’ll be confined to the annals of obscurity for now and evermore. We’re all susceptible to this, especially at the beginnings of our careers, when we haven’t ridden through enough of these crises to be able to see ourselves or our work clearly.

But the truth is, it’s all an illusion. It’s just not real.

The only thing you can really control as a writer is whether or not you are writing. Sales? Yeah, you can play the Amazon lists lottery, learn all of the algorithms by heart and pump your books up temporarily from a clever gimmick or see them sink like a stone from a misstep. But as Kristine Kathyrn Rusch points out so astutely in this post, playing those games is really short-term thinking, and ultimately will either lead to disappointment or a somewhat deluded sense of “what works” (and likely, eventually, disappointment, when it doesn’t work the next time around)…but not to a realistic approach to building a real career as a fiction writer.

Sadly, I saw this same sort of mentality in the short-term thinking of most corporate environments…grandiose “guru-izing” and “wonder child” status for those who championed whatever flavour of the month happened to bring a bump in sales that made the quarterly earnings sheet look good for five seconds on some CEO’s desk. Having worked at fairly high levels in such environments, I can tell you how utterly meaningless those quarterly statements are in terms of predicting the long-term health of most companies. In fact, you can often get those bumps by actively undermining the long-term health of a company in which you are operating. Kind of like how you can get those bumps by, say, spending a whole month (or 2 or 3) doing nothing but promoting your first book ruthlessly while not writing a single solitary word of new fiction.

The thing is, a bad cover can be fixed pretty easily and quickly. Bad content takes a lot longer, and is only improved by putting in the time and writing more books. You’ll never get that month of writing time back, so you’re probably a lot better off not freaking out about how your stuff looks from the marketing angle, and focusing on writing new stories that people will really want to read. I know for a fact that my marketing presentation needs work. I’m fixing those things as best as I can while I learn the business, but the only time I truly feel I’ve lost the plot is when I realize that all of my creative energy is going into this, rather than writing the next story.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t know your business – of course you should.

But I never want to do what 90% of the failing American corporations I’ve worked for have done, and forget what my actual product is. My product isn’t a snazzy cover. It’s not being a social networking goddess. It’s not how many Amazon lists I can jump on and off and how quickly, or how high I can get my book to rank on the free Kindle rankings.

That stuff for me is all noise, for the most part. I’m experimenting here and there, sure. I’m networking with other writers and getting some great ideas from things they’ve tried, and I’m dipping my toe into areas that seem to align with my strengths, interests, or just business sense and logic. But I never want to buy into the hype that you have to follow some formula involving cheap promo gimmicks to gain a loyal audience.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how good I am at telling stories. There are enough bad novels out there that sell a few thousand copies in a month because of clever marketing, either by an individual or a major publishing company. I don’t want to be one of those writers. I want to be around in ten or thirty years because I keep getting better at my craft, and because my career and income built through a real word of mouth fanbase.

Would I love to make a few grand a day in sales? Sure, I would! Any writer who says they don’t care about this is a liar. Even if they don’t need the money, writing is a conversation, and nothing is more boring than a monologue…especially to the one delivering it.

But I honestly don’t think the way to get there, at least for me, will be to do a lot of handwaving and hysterical jumping up and down to get noticed. Maybe that really does work for some people, and more power to them, I mean it. But for me, I need to focus on the writing, and learn the rest of it as I go. For me, all of that stress and fear is counterproductive…in fact, that way lies madness.

So if you’re anything like me…chill.

Don’t believe the hype that there is only one way, and that it requires you to magically transform into Tony Robbins or Suze Orman overnight. Just keep writing. Replace covers and blurbs and marketing packaging as you learn. Don’t live in fear. Seriously.

And have more faith in yourself. Give things time to grow, don’t expect some crazy overnight success or bash your head into your monitor when it doesn’t happen. Those do happen, yes..those are the lottery winners. But you up your chances exponentially for those types of opportunities by writing more and giving more work to the public to possibly fall in love with. It drives me crazy when I see how many people give away their 200K word novel for 99 cents because they’re afraid they will be “missed.”

This is a wonderful time to be a writer – believe that, too. We have options now. We can write what we want and still make a living…especially if we allow ourselves to get any good at it. We can find our niche audiences, no longer forced to find something that a corporate sales head believes will meet that elusive “mass appeal” criteria for all readers, all the time. We can work for ourselves.

To me, that freedom to be able to write the stories I really want to write makes all of this craziness and uncertainty and the fear completely worth it.

Bio 

JC Andrijeski is a bestselling author who has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. Her short works have been published in numerous anthologies, online literary, art and fiction magazines as well as print venues such as NY Press newspaper and holistic health magazines. JC currently lives in India, in the foothills of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh where she writes full time. Please visit JC Andrijeski’s website at: jcandrijeski.com or her blog at jcandrijeski.blogspot.com.

JC Andrijeski’s Links

January 13, 2012 in Dag

12 Days of New Year Blog Hop: Interview with D. Robert Pease

Today, as part of the GIR “12 Days of New Year” blog hop I’m interviewing D. Robert Pease, author of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble.


But before we start, I thought you may like to take a sneak peak at the trailer for this book:


[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgUkwJpBHls?version=3]

Hi there, Robert, please tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m married with two fantastic kids, and live in the grey-sky world of Northeast Ohio. I’ve finally come to grips with the idea that I’m the least intelligent one in the house, and that includes the dog and cat.

And how about your latest book?

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble is about a twelve-year-old boy from the future who travels through time with his family in an immense spaceship called the ARC. They’re on a mission to rescue two of every animal from Earth’s past and bring them to a post-apocalyptic world that has been wiped clean of all life. Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds and things don’t go according to plan.

Where can people get this book?

Everywhere books are sold online, and the local indie store. Here are some links:
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Noah-Zarc-D-Robert-Pease/dp/0615524990/
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Noah-Zarc-Mammoth-Trouble-ebook/dp/B005H5GFNE/
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/noah-zarc-mammoth-trouble-d-robert-pease/1104907603
iBooks: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/noah-zarc/id458650226?mt=11

Is it your first book?

It’s my first published book. I’ve got an epic fantasy novel that I wrote before Noah Zarc. But I’m not sure it’ll ever see the light of day.

If so, what motivated you to publish it now?

I’ve been working towards the idea of publishing traditionally for quite a few years. So there has been a lot of work perfecting my query, finding the right agents, researching publishers, etc… but just when I was about to actually start my search for an agent I came to the realization that I no longer wanted to go that route. I’m an entrepreneur by nature, having run my own web design business for the past fifteen years, so the idea of self-publishing really began to appeal to me. I switched my focus to what it would take to do this whole thing on my own. It has been very rewarding, but also a whole lot of work. I discovered that the main thing I could not do myself was the editing. So I worked with the folks at The Editorial Department to get the book in shape. That was about a four-month process. So finally after about two years, Noah Zarc was ready to go. So the short answer is, I decided to publish now because I felt the book was ready, and the market was right for self-published books.

Who is your favourite character?

I guess it’d have to be Noah, simply because I invested so much into figuring out who he was, and what makes him tick. He’s a lot of things I wasn’t as a kid. He’s daring, adventurous and not afraid to get in trouble if he thinks he’s in the right. Of course these are qualities, as a parent now, I’m glad my kids don’t have. I also relate to Noah Zarc, Sr. He was really a representation of who I would be for my kids. I would go to any length at all for their safety and well-being.

What’s your favourite indie book that you’ve read in the past 12 months?

This is a hard one. I’ve read some good ones. But I’m going to have to pick my friend, Susan Kaye Quinn’s novel, Open Hearts. I highly recommend it.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

This is pretty easy. The Lord of the Rings. As a teenager I fell in love with Tolkien’s world, and more specifically, the shire. I have a new dream of going to New Zealand and living in the shire they are building for the new Hobbit movie.

Any advice for new writers?

My main advice for writers is, treat it like a business. Sure it’s fun. Sure writing can be the best experience, but in the end, if you don’t treat it like a business you won’t be able to do it for long. This means treating your book like a product. One that you want to be the absolute best it can be. Get good critique partners. Ones who aren’t afraid to tell you what works. Then, if you are going to self-publish, get a great editor. Not just one who looks for typos, but one who digs into the deep inner workings of the story. Plot, characterization, leaving no stone unturned. I don’t believe anyone should publish a book without professional editing. Finally get a good cover artist. This is your primary tool to sell your book. Don’t skimp.

Also realize that this is a marathon. It can take a very long time to gain traction and begin to see some real sales.

What’s next for you?

I have a sequel to Noah Zarc in progress, called Noah Zarc: Cataclysm. It should be out sometime this year (yikes it’s 2012 already!) I also have another series in progress based on the Biblical story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. It’s a fun fantasy about a boy in New York City who discovers a hidden dream world, which is ruled by a reincarnated pharaoh. I’m really excited about getting back to it after Noah Zarc is complete.

Thanks Robert and all the best for your continued writing.

If you’d like to know more about Robert, you can check out his website at http://www.drobertpease.com/ and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter.

January 9, 2012 in Dag

Happy New Year from Dag-Lit Central

Well, the holiday season is over, we’ve gotten through the festivities, and now there’s a whole new year in front of us.

2012 promises to be a big year, here at Dag-Lit Central. For a start, I’m hoping to have more visitors here, talking about how their stories stand out from the crowd. After Anastasia V. Pergakis’s post last week, I’ll be interviewing D. Robert Pease on Friday as part of the GIR 12 Days of New Year blog hop event. And there’ll be many more guests in the coming weeks.

In addition, I’ll be keeping you all updated on my latest writing projects. My first novel, Magnus Opum, is currently with beta readers and I’m hoping for an April release. And I’m well on the way to a completed first draft of the sequel to Doodling, tentatively titled Scribbling at this stage. And you’ll get more of my daggy ramblings about writing and the world in general.

But the really big news to start 2012 off with is that I’ll be doing my first blog tour very soon. Starting off on March 5th and running through till the end of the month, I’ll be visiting 20 different sites to talk about Doodling, Flidderbugs, and Dag-Lit in general. For more information on the schedule, click on the image at the top of this post. And big thanks to the wonderful people at Goddess Fish for organising all of this, and the amazing Donna Brown of Books, Bags and Cat Naps for making it all possible.

Hope your new year is also off to a great start.

January 4, 2012 in Dag

Cleanse Fire: Guest Post by Anastasia V. Pergakis

Welcome to Dag-Lit Central for 2012.

I’m really please to start the year off with a visit from Anastasia V. Pergakis who is popping in as part of her Cleanse Fire blog tour.

So without any further ado, over to Anastasia…

Jonathan has graciously allowed me to visit his blog today as one of the stops for my blog tour for my debut novel, Cleanse Fire: The Kinir Elite Chronicles. Thanks so much for having me Jonathan.

He told me the theme for his blog is “writing that stands out from the crowd.” Way to put on the pressure Jonathan! I thought to talk about how the idea of this story came to me, since it mentions my Dad and how proud I am of his 20 year military career. However, I promised myself I would not repeat posts during this tour, so I had to rethink. I decided to give some more behind the scenes information about the world I created for this book, specifically the language I made for my elves.
When I started writing this book, I didn’t have much to go on in concern to the world the characters lived in. Just a few notes here or there to get me started. As I wrote the story, more and more about the world came up either in the story or just as random information popping up in my head. When I was finished with the first draft, that is when I really sat down and filled in the blank spaces for my world.
The fun part when filling in the spaces was deciding on the language the elves, and other creatures, spoke. I thought at first to create an entirely brand new language, like Tolkien did, but that proved to be more complicated than I wanted! So, instead I turned to Latin. Why? Well, it has that ancient sort of feel that I wanted my elves to have. They live very long life spans and their world has a deep history to it. Having them speak Latin as their “Ancient Language” fit. After all, Latin is our “ancient language” too.
I’m sure that I fumbled up some of the Latin phrases in my book – as in they are most likely far from accurate. But, hey, it’s a fantasy book in a world other than Earth, so I can just say “It’s accurate for them.” Still, it was fun looking up translations and figuring out what words and phrases they would actually use with the ancient language.
My favorite “Elven phrase” I came up with is the Kinir Elite motto. Many military units in real life have such a motor or phrase that tells people who they are. So it was fitting that my unit have one too. “Primus. Semper. Ultimus.” Short and simple. Loosely translated it means “First. Always. Last.”
I also like the phrase they use when going into a mission, “Vivo Liber. Morior Bonum.” Translated directly it’s “Live Slow. Die Fast.” which basically means to live a long satisfying life but don’t suffer in death.
There are more words and phrases sprinkled throughout the book. And more will come to light as the series continues. It’s interesting to me to create new worlds, including languages. In Book 2 of the series, Blood Trade, I have a new race of creatures coming into light and I’m having fun creating a few phrases for their language as well.
What about you? Do you create your own languages for your stories? Why or why not? Do you just come up with a few phrases or an entire language?
~ * ~ * ~
Cleanse Fire Blurb 

Complete the mission, no matter what…
Captain Derac Vidor has served Kinir for nearly twenty years. It’s his life, his blood, his soul. And then his Commander betrays everything Derac holds dear. Now he has to focus on his own life and his team instead of saving the citizens of Kinir. 

Treason is only the beginning…
Fueled by rage, the team chases the source to their Commander’s betrayal – a powerful wizard bent on revenge. The wizard seeks to destroy the Kinir Elite, in both mind and body. No place is safe, even among their allies.

The past holds the key…
Derac’s tragic past may be the key to saving the team. But can he face the gruesome nightmare in time?
Purchase Cleanse Fire
Join the Kinir Brigade by signing up for our newsletter! Get exclusive deals, access to special giveaways, and inside information about the series! Join the Kinir Brigade now and receive the first five chapters in your email! And don’t forget to visit our Facebook Page and Website too!
Author Bio

Anastasia knew she always wanted to write. She began at a young age, writing those little stories about the apple tree in the yard. Though her love of stories stayed with her through her poetry stage in high school, she didn’t begin writing novels until she was almost an adult. That’s where she found her true passion.

Her characters visit her dreams – and sometimes during the day – to share their stories with her. Anastasia is merely the writer, but the characters are really the storytellers.
Anastasia lives in Columbus, Georgia with her husband and son. A stay at home Mom, she loves spending time with her son during the day, then writing furiously at night.
~ * ~ * ~
GIVEAWAY
I’m giving away an e-copy of Cleanse Fire! Leave a comment on this post to enter into the random drawing. I’ll draw the names at the end of my tour, January 31, 2012. If you want more chances to win a copy, visit our website to follow our tour! The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!
All commenters will also be added to the drawing for a chance to win a signed hard cover. Drawing for the hardcover will be on January 31, 2012, the end of my tour.
You can also get more chances to win by tweeting or posting on facebook! Just leave a link to the tweet or post in a comment below!
**All Winners will be announced on the Kinir Elite Website on February 1st**
December 28, 2011 in Dag

A Daggy New Year to All

Well can you believe it? 2011 is almost over.

And what an amazing year it’s been. Hard to believe that this time last year:

  • I’d never self-published a book.
  • I didn’t even own a kindle.
  • I’d never been on Twitter or Facebook. I hadn’t even heard of Goodreads.
  • I certainly had no plans to start up a blog. 

And now, a year down the track, here’s what has happened:

  • Not only did I self-publish an ebook. I did it twice.
  • I read more books on my kindle than I do otherwise
  • I’ve met an amazing group of fellow writers and reviewers out in the world of social media
  • I’ve had my blog going for around seven months now. Even managed to pick up a few followers on the way.

On the way, I’ve had some amazing experiences. Seeing my books start to sell out in the big wide world has been amazing. Discovering readers out there who really enjoy my writing and seeing the great reviews for both Doodling and Flidderbugs out in the blogosphere and on my Amazon pages. And getting nominated for the Goodreads Choice awards, which certainly was a most unexpected pleasure. Seeing my book alongside those by people like Tina Fey and Ellen deGeneres was seriously exciting.

 
Now I’ve got even bigger plans for 2012. I’m hoping to have my first novel, Magnus Opum, released early in the new year. This will hopefully be followed by a sequel to Doodling, with the tentative title Scribbling (makes perfect sense). I’m well on the way to a completed first draft, but it’s going to need a bit of work to get it up to scratch.
 
But what I’m really looking forward to is my first blog tour. It’s tentatively scheduled for March so make sure you stay in touch. It should be a whole lot of daggy fun.
 
So, as the year winds down, I’d like to wish all my friends, readers and followers (I know you’re out there) a safe, joyful and completely daggy new year, and hope 2012 brings all that you wish it to.