Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's Alive!

Zegin's Infection is on Amazon

It's finally published!  Zegin's Infection is now a real eBook on Amazon.  This is my first self published eBook and will be the beginning of many more.  But it's not the end of the blog postings.  Now that I've revealed how much I've invested I'm going to be posting how many sales I get.  Since this is a short story (33 pages) it's only selling for $.99.  However it serves multiple purposes:
  • I gathered an education on the whole process from beginning to publishing.
  • I now have a pretty good idea of the cost and effort required to have a quality book published.
  • It introduces me and my fiction writing to a new market, thus getting my name and style out there.
  • It opens the door for more Zegin's Adventures stories.
  • And by the time I get my full length book done, I hope to have an established fan base.
And let's not forget that I get to blog about the ongoing process as well. ;)

I will say the formatting and submission process was a significant education.  I'm pretty geeky when it comes to the use of computers and software.  But there were some frustrating moments when I just couldn't get it right with Microsoft Word.  Seems I was taking a step backward when I copied from Scrivener to Word and thus saved as HTML.  I learned if I just keep everything in Scrivener and save into eBook format for Kindle, it's a much smoother process.  I'll soon be discussing this whole process via this blog in the near future.

I'm keeping it short and sweet for this posting.  Being the proud author of my first Amazon release, I have to give myself a blatant plug:

Check out Zegin's Infection!  It's only .99 cents, it's a cool sci-fi technology story, and it includes a bonus short story called Jezi's Delima.  You can't go wrong for only a buck!  All you have to do is click here.

[Set blatant plug off]

I would love to hear any feedback.  It's okay. I can take it!  No, really, I can.  And if you're itching to write a review and submit it to Amazon - I'll be eternally grateful.

Check back in a few days and I'll give you all an update on my social marketing statistics and how the new book is doing.

Keep reading and writing!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

We Have Ignition!

The Submit Button

I just hit the submit button less than 15 minutes ago!  Whew.  What a journey this has been.  The past week has been full of formatting and layout for the final submission up to Amazon.  If there's one single most important thing that I learned this week that is worth sharing - it's "Be sure to set up your Styles in MS Word before doing anything."  There's a great thread on the Amazon KDP Support forum for this.  It was a little hard to read through (and I'm tempted to re-write it to make it easier to follow) but it was well worth the effort.

If I consider the end of the Edmonds Writers' Conference as the beginning of my goal of getting this story published, I'm looking at 4 months of activity.  It has been a great education and it has given me a lot of confidence in the process.  But it doesn't end here.  I can't just sit back and wait for the royalties to pour in.  It just doesn't work that way.  Now comes the promotion (without nagging and spamming), completion of the next Zegin story, and the ongoing writing of the full length novel.  The work is just beginning!

Zegin's Infection Audience?

Someone asked me recently who my target audience was.  That question really made me take a long pause.  Basically, science fiction is the easy answer.  Some would call it hard sci-fi since I try to deal with technologies that are feasible.  More toward the Star Trekish side of science fiction.  I love Star Wars too.  But, I'm not one for delving into fantasy type forces as a writer.  While my stories deal with a lot of technology, I'm very sensitive to not detracting from the characters.  I feel that if the technology gets in the way of the reader trying to relate to the characters then I've failed.  There are two books that I recommend for describing how to do this:
- The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells, by Ben Bova
- Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card

Thus, the audience?  Technology sci-fi with strong characters and story lines.


So, now I wait for the conversion and publishing process to be completed.  One of two things is going to happen.  One - I'll like the result and will start promotions.  Two - The layout will stink and I'll go back and re-do it.  I guess I won't know for another 12 hours.  Humm, that would put me at around 4am.  You might see me tweet around that time. ;)

Socializing Progress

Here are the latest figures for this milestone event:

Klout Score: 50 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 1276 (+35)
Twitter Followers: 1217 (+148)
G+ Peeps Following: 360 (+46)

These are good numbers for this week.  That extra Klout point was a tough one.  But I feel that it was a good hurdle to jump.  Twitter is making a nice climb.  Page loads are pretty steady.  And Google Plus is taking a nice jump.

Most likely I'll be blogging again in the next couple days to discuss what is happening with the story release.  Thanks to everyone who has provided me with feedback about my very open discussion of my progress.  If anything, I hope it'll help others who are wanting to make the jump.

Keep writing.  Check back soon!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cover Is Done

The Cover Is Done!

Woot!  I received the final cover art from Sean Hill this week and it looks great.  It has the look and feel that I was aiming for.  Even though it was all done on computer it has a very artsy freehand feel to it.  Great job Sean!

The next step was to pick the font, effect, and layout.  I wanted to keep it clean and use a font that gives it the sci-fi and geeky feel.  After scouring and locating 8-10 font candidates, I had to figure out how to install the fonts on my Mac.  Turned out to be very easy.  Just had to know which folder to drop the files into.  I then used iStudio Publisher to review and select the titling to use.  This actually ended up taking a significant amount of my day.  I had a Google Image view of "sci fi covers" in one browser tab, a listing of "science fiction" books sorted by popularity on, and my wife peering over my shoulder.

Once the font (Ethnocentric) was selected I added a very subtle red blur shadow effect to the title and my name.  I also added "A Zegin Adventure" in a standard Courier New Bold font using CRT green as a computer geek touch.  And no, I'm not an expert at this stuff.  I may have been around computers, programming, and networks for many years but I'm far, far, away from being any kind of a graphic artist.  Anyway, I think the end result turned out pretty good and I'm going to run with it.  My next step will be to see how it looks on a Kindle Fire HD.

In the Red

As I've been touting via this blog and I've been taught from other writers in the community, it is very important to make an investment in time, effort, and money to have a successful release.  This all started with a story idea and several rewrites to embellish the story.  I could have posted to Amazon at that point and hoped for the best.  But I decided to jump through the extra hoops, take the time, spend the money, and do what I could to make this a quality release.  So, where am I at financially in this?  Here are my numbers:
  • Professional Editing : $100
  • Custom Cover Art : $350
  • iStudio Publisher Software : $29.99
Total expenses thus far : $479.99

That's not a small chunk of change to spend on a short story eBook release!  There's no guarantee in any of this.  I might end up being in the hole on this first push into eBook publishing.  But I can say that I've learned a lot and have opened up a lot of doors during the process.  I feel pretty good about where I'm at and I'm getting excited about the upcoming release.  The trick now is to take a deep breath, keep working through all the details, and not get a bad case of hurry-up-itis. 

Next (Tim Conway) Steps

Now that the story is done and the cover is done, I have a few more steps to go through:
  • Write the Intro page and credits page
  • Include Jezi's Delima story
  • Add a teaser for Zegin's Abduction
  • Format all the content (Cover and text) for Kindle eBook
  • Set up the Amazon KDP account
  • Obtain the ISBN 
  • Publish
  • Tell everyone I know and don't know about my new book (Twitter, G+, etc.)
Social Media Progress

The latest statistics:

Klout Score: 49 (No change) Page Loads for the past month: 1241 (-39)
Twitter Followers: 1069 (+90)
G+ Peeps Following: 314 (+24)

Woot!  I passed the 1k milestone on Twitter followers.  Thank you all!  Klout seems to be stuck at 49.  I keep tapping on the screen to unstick the indicator but it doesn't seem to be working.  And again, Google Plus is just slowly climbing up. 

Once the story hits Amazon I'll do a big push on the social media marketing.  Then I'll be diving back into the rest of the writing and get Zegin's Abduction out next.  Gotta keep the pipeline busy.

Keep reading and writing!

(Cover art is Copyright (c) 2013, Sean Hill)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tim Conway Steps

Tim Conway Steps

Usually, the phrase is "baby steps".  But I prefer the use of Tim Conway steps (as the old man).  That's the method a writer should use for getting something published.  One tiny step at a time.  When I started this new direction to fiction writing, I had attended a local writers' conference, and I defined some goals last November for myself.  These were:
  1.     Expand my audience via social media marketing (Twitter, Google Plus, Blogger, Word of Mouth).
  2.     Write more!
  3.     Find an editor to work with.
  4.     Write more!
  5.     Find a graphics artist for quality cover art.
  6.     Write some more!
  7.     Track my ideas.
  8.     Sample/publish some writing.
  9.     Publish a story on Amazon.
For this initial project I'm down to the last 2 steps.  But I should adjust it some.  My steps should become ongoing processes to be stepped through over and over.  So, here is my adjusted list:
  1. Keep writing!
  2. Keep editing and use professional editor when needed.
  3. Add professional cover art when needed.
  4. Submit completed work to various markets and/or self publish.
  5. Continue marketing via social media.
  6. Read other authors work.
  7. Note (journal) new ideas.
  8. Do not wait for acceptance notices - go back to step 1.
I figure that if I can just stay focused on this process, the success and the sales will eventually follow along. 

Zegin's Infection Progress

The story is done and ready for Amazon formatting.  As a bonus, I've decided that I'm going to include a teaser for Zegin's Abduction and one of my other short stories.  I'm leaning toward including Jezi's Delima - about a space traveler who is misrouted while she is in stasis. 

The cover art is coming along quite nicely.  This is the latest update from Sean Hill.  Zegin's diagnostic robot is getting re-worked and is pending some additional textures.  And some of the external space port textures are in process.  I'm looking forward to the final.  (No pressure Sean!) ;)

Social Media Progress

Here are the latest statistics:

Klout Score: 49 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 1280 (+239)
Twitter Followers: 979 (+218)
G+ Peeps Following: 290 (+72)

Big jumps for Twitter, page loads, and Google Plus.  I've been trying to increase my activity on Twitter and including my page link in my Follow Thank You messages.  This seems to have helped with the page hits.  Regarding Google Plus - I believe the increase is due to the increase in usage by other authors.  I'm still looking for a good process for posting to both Twitter and G+ at the same time.

Now back to reading (Impulse! by Steven Gould) and hopefully some more writing.

Keep on writing!