Thanksgiving Sale Ahoy!

As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I am moving away from exclusivity on Amazon and making my e-book formats available on other platforms. I’ve already begun moving Action Figures over to Barnes & Noble, and once that’s done I’ll do the same with The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot.

One of the significant points here is that by removing my books from Kindle Direct Press Select, I won’t have the ability to put the books on sale or do free giveaways, so I am doing one last sales hurrah for Scratching a Lich during the post-Thanksgiving orgy of commercialism.

From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, Scratching a Lich will be available for the Kindle for just 99 cents on Amazon. If you haven’t given this series a try, now’s the time to do it. And if you are a fan, this is your opportunity to grab a copy as a holiday gift for a friend or family member. Spread the word!

Now on the Nook!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

As I mentioned previously, I’m moving away from Amazon exclusivity with my e-books and making them available on other platforms. As of today, I’ve officially expanded into Barnes & Noble, and Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins is now available for the Nook! I’ll continue to add the Action Figures series to the B&N catalog over the coming days, and then add it to other venues as I find them.

Google (Com)plex

Google, you kind of suck.

Now, like pretty much everyone in the world, I use Google as my main search engine. I have a GMail account. I use the Chrome browser. I am not anti-Google, but man, they need to brush up on the concept of user-friendliness.

A fellow member of the Kindle Authors Helping Authors Facebook page asked about the Google Books Partner Program, which allows indie authors to post excerpts of their book on Google Books, and links users to whatever site the writer uses to sell his or her work. Authors can also make their e-books available for sale via Google Play.

Since, apparently, none of the other members had tried it, I decided to be the guinea pig. One week ago, I set up my account, downloaded the files, and sat back to wait up to 24 hours for the system to process everything. To make a long story short, whenever some sort of issue arose, the system was frustratingly vague about how to fix it. There was a lot of searching the self-help section, only to find non-answers, and waiting for someone at the help desk to respond — very slowly — to my e-mails, again often to provide a less than helpful answer.

What should have taken a full day to accomplish instead took a week, and that could have been cut down a LOT if Google had simply provided more explicit and detailed instructions, maybe some direct links…maybe, in some cases, the button I needed to click to finish a given process (which the system withheld because I hadn’t fixed the issue in question, which I couldn’t fix until I got the button I needed to click…I suspect this will be Hades’ punishment for me should I go to the Greek underworld after I die).

But, the good news is: Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins is now listed on Google Play!

Google Play Page

EDIT: I had originally planned to make the e-book available for sale through Google Play, which would have meant people with e-readers such as the Barnes & Noble Nook or the Sony eReader could finally grab the e-book version. However, the book is currently under an exclusivity agreement with Kindle Direct Publishing, which is necessary for me to do the free giveaway at the end of March. This means, at least for a while longer, Action Figures will remain available only on the Kindle (or readable on electronic devices with any of the free Kindle apps).

Sorry for jumping the gun on this, folks, but when the e-book does go fully live on Google, I’ll let you know.

To Market, To Market

My wife (Veronica of Storied Threads) is away this weekend, peddling her wares at Arisia in Boston, so I’ll have two days to myself, and I’ll be spending those finishing up a marketing plan.

I know: exciting stuff, right? Well, it’s already proven a very interesting exercise.

Pitchbook Pg3 copy
A sample page from the “pitchbook,” a presentation to B&N that will, hopefully, convince them to kick out the latest teen vampire romance series and give my novel some shelf space.

The reason for this little project: Barnes & Noble has a program for independent authors and small presses, wherein B&N vets indie books for possible sale at their brick-and-mortar stores, which is of course a huge deal. Part of the submission process is providing a detailed marketing plan, and while I have operated under an informal, in-my-brain plan, I never committed anything to paper (or screen, as the case may be) that really spell out what my goals and target audience are.

And I do have a target audience, which is a crucial point. Sure, I’d love to say Action Figures has the potential to become adored by people in every demographic, but I know that’s not true, and doesn’t help me at all when it comes to marketing my book; I need to concentrate on a core audience of those readers most likely to flock to a YA super-hero story (a piece of advice I recently shared with fellow indie author Robert Rowland, and would be foolish to ignore in my own efforts).

What is my core audience? Geeks, in particular geek girls, who are increasingly hungry for superhero stories featuring a female lead, and are tired of their adventure stories getting bogged down by distracting love triangles subplots. To be mercenary about it, geek girls remain a largely untapped market, because corporate head honchos are, by and large, middle-aged men who insist girls don’t like this kind of stuff (ask Paul Dini about his experiences with know-nothing executives).

My hope is that whoever at B&N makes the decision to put indie authors on the shelves will see the potential here, and give me a shot. The process takes about six weeks, so I won’t know what’s going on until around my birthday in March. I can think of no better present than to see Action Figures in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide.

Your Last-Minute Shopping List

Christmas is coming up fast. Have you finished your shopping yet? No? Slacker.

Well, I’m going to throw some suggestions out at you. I’ll get the selfish one out of the way: buy Action Figures! You need to get book one so you’ll be able to understand what’s going on in book two (which is now off to my test-readers. Woo!).Pirates Honor

If swashbuckling historical fiction is more your style, my friend/fellow writer Justin Aucoin has his trilogy of piratical shorts in the Jake Hawking series, all available for the Kindle and the Nook. Start with A Pirate’s Honor and go from there.

For a faster read in a Christmasy vein, check out my buddy Rob Borkowski’s Wight Christmas, a flash-fiction short that’s available on for the Kindle.

For an early Christmas gift for a theater lover, snag tickets to this weekend’s final performances of my friend Scott Kegler’s play WHACKED!, at the Hole in the Wall Theater in New Britain, Connecticut.Loki Doll

For something a little more kid-friendly (or adult geek friendly), check out my friend Jess Maclean’s shop Geeky and Cheeky on Etsy. My wife Veronica has a growing collection of handmade G&C dolls, including a complete set of Avengers dolls.

Speaking of my wife, go visit her new Storied Threads website! It’s been re-launched with a focus on her clothing and fandom items, while her Etsy store will focus more on her original embroidery designs.

Now, go forth and shop — and in doing so, you’ll be supporting independent artists and small businesses, which is always a great thing to do.

A Progress Report

Last night I finished off the first draft of my first foray into young adult fiction, which is now in the hands of a small number of test-readers.

This project’s working title is “Action Figures,” and is a super-hero story, which does not appear to be among the more prominent YA genres out there; everyone is doing urban fantasy, sci-fi, or a “Twilight” knock-off. Seriously, take a peek in the YA section of a Barnes & Noble and half the shelf space belongs to horror-tinged romance novels oriented toward teen girls. Yawn.

Anyway, I’m pleased with how quickly and how well this particular project came together, and I credit both to the fact this idea has been percolating in my head for years. I knew full well how the story went, so I was able to produce a fairly tight 43,580-word first draft in one month. I’m normally a fast writer, but I’m actually a little surprised I finished this off as fast as I did, especially since I’m in the thick of faire season, when my creative energy is usually kerflooey.

The bigger surprise for me was how my main character turned out. The story is told in first-person perspective, and that first person is a 15-year-old girl named Carrie — about as far away from me as you can get — and I found her voice almost immediately. I don’t know where it came from. I frequently base characters on real people, friends or famous personalities, in order to get the character’s voice set in my head, but Carrie had no such template. She just happened, very naturally. Read into that as you will.

Initial reaction to the character was very positive. Two of my primary test-readers, my wife Veronica and my friend Kate, thought she sounded very authentic and extremely likable, so, big win for me there.

I’m hoping to get right into a second draft so I can start shopping this around, perhaps before 2011 is out.