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Sworn Cover Reveal

Yes, the day has FINALLY arrived! I’ve had this cover (created, like the first two, by the incredibly talented Ravven) since early this past summer, but wanted to save the big reveal for a time closer to the release date.

And we now have a release date. *whee, party!*

And so much exciting stuff going on, including a SALE! Yep, to celebrate this cover reveal day, the Bound ebook is on sale for 99 cents on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks! I don’t do this often, so if you know someone who’s been waiting for a sale to grab the book and start the series, today would be a great day to let them know about this little treat. 🙂

Visit my website here for the links.

But enough about that.

We’re here about a new book. An exciting book. A massive, twisting, thrilling, heart-pounding conclusion that some of you have been waiting rather impatiently for.

And it’s coming on Friday, January 29, 2016.

Are you ready?

Not every fairy tale ends with “happily ever after.”

The plan was simple: Find Ulric, the lost king of Tyrea, then return him to Luid to reclaim his throne from the tyrant who stole it. But though Aren, Rowan, and Nox accomplished the first part of their task, the rest is proving to be more complicated than any of them imagined.

Severn won’t give up his throne without a fight. Worse, it seems Ulric did not fare as well during his years in captivity as he’s led everyone to believe—and Rowan may not have escaped unscathed, either.

If Nox doesn’t find a cure for the king’s mysterious ailment, Aren will be forced to challenge Severn for the crown. It’s a battle Aren has little hope of winning. And if he does, it will cost him the love and the freedom he’s fought so hard to gain.

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Last Chance to Enter!

Teri Polen’s giveaway (signed paperback copy of bound, mermaid charm, sea glass, and assorted papery swag) is ending soon! She’ll be announcing the winner July 31, which means there’s only a day or so left to enter. This is a fantastic prize from a generous reader, so be sure to enter!

(US and Canada only for this one, but I’ve got something different coming up for everyone else next month)

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Click here to enter. Good luck!


The Things I Did Wrong

Here’s another post that’s mostly of interest to fellow writers. Several people have asked me about how I launched the book, how I get reviews, how it got noticed by Amazon… often my response is a blank stare, but here’s what I did. Hope it helps! Just remember that you have to do what’s right for YOUR book.

 

There’s a lot of advice out there for self-publishers. I’m not going to add to it. I don’t have enough experience to advise anyone on anything, though I’m happy to point you to resources that have helped me (see end of this post).

Actually… according to the advice I’ve read, I’m doing a lot of things wrong. That’s not to say it hasn’t worked out for me. Bound has had a decent run at the top of a few sub-category best-seller lists, and has sold more e-books in its first few months than I projected for its first few years (Don’t be too impressed– I’m a conservative estimator). But according to a lot of people*, I did all of this wrong:

  • I didn’t launch the book at free or 99 cents.
  • I didn’t go exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select. Because of that, my book is not available through Kindle Lending Library or Kindle Universe.
  • I invested a not-small chunk of change in editing my first book, before I knew I had an audience and before I knew I could make the money back.
  • I released at the beginning of the summer sales slump.
  • I didn’t pay for a blog tour, get into the big e-mail newsletters, spam Twitter, do follow-backs to gain followers on Twitter or Facebook, or pay for any advertising outside of a $6 Fussy Librarian spot (which didn’t seem to do anything, but hey. $6 for exposure, right?)
  • I didn’t have several books ready to go all at once.
  • I didn’t contact a lot of book bloggers.

That’s… that’s a lot of stuff I did wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong, but it went against a lot of advice. I followed my gut on these things, and I know that I’m lucky it’s paid off so far. That’s why I’m not saying “DO THIS, DO IT NOW.” Your Mileage May Vary is a HUGE thing. But if you’re curious…

Here’s what I did instead:

  • I started with an intro sale price of $2.99 to thank friends, family, and blog readers who were already supporting me, and also to make it easier for readers to take a chance on an unknown author. This lasted two months, and then the price went up to $4.99. Both prices are great value. That’s not to say I’ll never do a low-price promotion in the future, but I’m glad I started out at 70% royalties with Amazon. The $2.99 price point paid for the next book.
  • I uploaded to Amazon through KDP, and to Kobo, B&N, and iBooks through Draft2Digital (because the Smashwords meatgrinder was intimidating, and D2D is super simple). Sales at the other stores are 1/50 to 1/100 of what they are at Amazon (yes, combined). There have been times when I considered going exclusive, but I know it takes time to gain traction at those other places. And Amazon has been amazing. They have not penalized my book in any way for being non-exclusive. They just want to make money, and even if my sales are a drop in the proverbial bucket for them, they’ve been good to me so far. Select is a fantastic tool, and can be really helpful for gaining visibility, so it’s the preference for many authors when a book first comes out. I just want to point out that it’s not an absolute necessity if you’re as uncomfortable with exclusivity as I am.
  • see here for more on the editing experience. It was amazing, and I have no regrets.
  • I have no idea how the book would have done if I’d waited to release in the autumn, or at Christmas. Maybe it would have done better. Maybe a lot worse. Maybe it would have been competing with bigger releases, or maybe there would have been more people buying when it was topping those little lists, and I would have made more sales. I’m not experienced enough to say. But I’m not complaining about how things have gone, and I hope I gave some people an enjoyable summer read.
  • As to the e-mail lists, they probably would have helped if I’d released at 99 cents, but above that I don’t know that subscribers pay much attention. Keeping this one in the arsenal for later, as I do think they’re a great way to get the word out about sales/promos. And blog tours… well, I didn’t have an official one, but I’ve had some amazing, kind, and helpful fellow writers offer to host me for interviews, and I think that helped get the word out. I am so grateful to everyone who has done that, or who helped out with the cover reveal and release announcements. You’re the best. Also, acquaintances/friends/blog followers who read the book early on and went out of your way to share it with friends… you’re superstars. /end sappiness
  • Oh, and those Twitter follow-backs, yadda yadda… I still don’t see the point of having 10,000 followers if no one is actually interested in what you have to say, and only follwed you to inflate their own numbers. I do try to follow people who follow me on Twitter, but if you’re only posting #promo #promo #buymybook, I’m not going to stick around to keep you as a follower. Sorry. (But hey, if you tweet real, original thoughts, make me think or laugh, or reply to my stuff in a non-promo way, I’ll stick around through whatever occasional promos you put out there. Well done. Let’s be friends!)
  • Book two is coming out sooner than it probably would with a big publisher (8-9 months after book one, probably), but I can’t put out a book every two months like some people can. Is that going to hurt me? Will readers forget about the series before book two comes out, or stop caring? Maybe. Time will tell. But I hope my most passionate readers will get the word out again when the time comes. And they say not to promote your first book because you don’t want to hit it big when you don’t have more to sell to new fans. Well… I didn’t promote, but things have gone pretty well, and I have nothing in the back to offer people right now. We’ll see what happens.
  • I do wish I’d contacted more bloggers for reviews, but I’m shy. I’m also polite, and won’t send form letters or mass e-mails, so researching and writing requests/offers is time-consuming. But I should do it. Book bloggers/reviewers are amazing people who put their personal time and effort into adding value to the reading community, and I want to get to know more of them.

So there it is. I didn’t do it all wrong, of course. I did some things right:

  • I used keywords to get the book into relevant sub-categories on Amazon so that it would come up on Best Sellers and Hot New Release lists sooner than it would in the big ones.
  • I put a (polite, no-pressure) note in the back of the book saying how important reviews and recommendations are to a new book/author, and asked those who loved the book to share it.
  • I sent out Advance Reading/Review Copies (ARCs). Not as many as most people do, I think, but they went out, and most people followed through with reviews.
  • I wrote the story I wanted to read, not the one I thought the market wanted. Actually… this would be considered wrong by some, but it was the right thing for me. And I made it a good book with the help of incredible beta readers and a good editor. It’s not a perfect book. There is no perfect book. But it’s the one I set out to write, and it delivers good value to readers, and that knowledge helps me shrug off bad reviews from people who find it’s not their cup of tea.
  • I paid for good cover art from an artist who knows what looks good and what sells. I listened to her advice when it went against my personal preferences, and it worked out beautifully. She let me help (cover model selection, font choice out of a few she liked), but I let her lead based on the book info I’d sent. I really need to to a post on that some day. There are beautiful, high-quality pre-made covers out there, but none of them fit my book. This does, and I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said they gave Bound a chance because of the cover.
  • I ripped my hair out for two weeks over writing a blurb (sales copy) that seems to be fairly effective, and I made sure the Amazon sample was both good AND representative of the entire book.

If you’re looking for indie publishing resources, I’ll list a few of the ones that helped me below**. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this has been helpful for someone. Just remember: I am not qualified to give advice. This is just what worked for me. I’m not an expert. A book does not a career make, yadda yadda. ‘kay? Good.

*Yes, according to some people I did these things right, too. Conflicting advice is conflicting. It’s just a fun way to frame the discussion of something people keep asking about. 🙂

**Please note that though none of these authors pay me for promotion, I am using Amazon affiliate links and receive an itty-bitty bit of money if you buy through them. Well… I will if I set it up right.  It costs you nothing extra, but does help me out. 🙂


PARTY TIME!

Wait… it’s almost party time.

Yessir (or yes ma’am, or yes creature-of-the-night or yes oak tree if that’s how we’re feeling today), we’re going to have a party. It’s a Facebook party, but dangit, it’s a REAL party.

And we’re celebrating a book release.

You’ve all been so patient and supportive, encouraging me through the tough parts of this project, celebrating the small victories, offering advice or a loving kick in the pants when I needed it. I think we all deserve to have some fun, don’t you?

The Bound release party is happening June 26, 2014 from 12:30 to 8:30 PM EDT (Eastern). It’s a long party, and obviously I’m going to have to step out for bathroom and coffee breaks and to do silly little things like feeding my family, but this seemed like a good way to make sure that everyone who wants to can stop by, sign in, and participate in a few activities for a chance to win prizes. You’re under no obligation to stay for the whole thing.

Prizes? Indeed. I’ll be giving out a few e-book copies of Bound over the course of the party (drawn for from participants in specific activities), and a grand prize of a signed paperback copy plus a bag of the magical tea I drink while I’m writing and an Amazon gift card. I might throw some more prizes in there if enough people show up.

print

Like so.

If you’re an author and would like to give away a copy of your e-book in an activity to get the word out, I’d be happy to help out. Just e-mail me (kate.sparkes @ live.ca). I’d like to make this about you guys, too. I couldn’t have done this without you.

So here’s what you do: follow this link to the party page. Click up top (under the banner) to indicate you’re coming. Then on the 26th, look for the sign-in post so I know I’ve got your name for the grand prize, which will be chosen randomly from everyone who shows up. Invite friends, if you’d like. Look around, have some fun, join in discussions or activities if you’d like. Ask a question, if you have one. This is my first Facebook party, but I think it’ll be small enough that I’ll be able to keep up with everything. Mingle. Make some mew friends. Or be the weird dude who sits in the corner and talks to the dragonlings. That’s cool, too.

 

ROW80 Update:

It feels like we just did this. Um… everything approved with formatting. Should have that proof paperback in my hands Tuesday (or Wednesday, what with the mail being slow here). I’m about half way through my read-through of book two, and I’m getting some fantastic ideas about how to improve it. I’ve also had a most delightful realization about Aren’s grandmother. Nothing I could ever write into a YA series, but no one ever said that everything set in a world had to be for the same age group… you never know. I keep finding these characters who want to have their stories told, so even when this trilogy is over, I don’t think I’ll be done my work there.

Frustrating, infuriating, difficult and just plain hard as this work is at times, I really wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Release date still set for June 26, though I’m hoping to have e-book links available sooner, just to cover for retailers who are slower about putting things up. I may be queen of the procrastinators, but I think I’m actually going to be ahead of schedule for this one.

I just jinxed it, didn’t I?


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