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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

I will be working on figuring out keywords for some time, I’m increasingly sure. In my last post, I mentioned making a couple of changes to my keywords. It’s still really to early to tell whether that had any impact–though my sales have gone up this week. There’s some reason to think it had nothing to do with the keywords. Still, at least it’s a change for the better.

The change I made was to pick out my two lamest keywords for each book–and lame is the only word I can think of to describe some of them–and replace them with NobleBright or Noble Bright (to cover both possible spellings).

Why’d I pick that? What is this NobleBright?

Well, NobleBright, like its opposite GrimDark comes originally from the world of gaming, from which it cross-pollinated over to books.

In GrimDark fantasy, the setting may be more . . . grim. More importantly, the characters are mostly out for their own self-interest–material or personal gain or revenge. More like the characters from some Sword and Sorcery than like classic epic fantasy. G. R. R. Martin’s SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series (more popularly known as GAME OF THRONES) is a pretty good example. Quite a lot of recently published–especially traditionally published–fantasy partakes of at least some of this.

NobleBright fantasy may–or may not–have a setting that is less grim (some have coined the term NobleDark for that), but the main attribute is that at least one of the principal characters acts out of noble motivations.

There’s an argument to be made that GrimDark is more realistic and more accurately portrays what a medievalesque world would have been like. I won’t dispute this. I will say that if I want reality, there’s 24/7 news on cable TV.

I think there’s a much better argument–perhaps especially in our current world–for stories about characters who behave more nobly. For characters who just maybe make us aspire to be better and to make the world better.

In any case, that’s the kind of story I write. So, maybe they’ll find a better and bigger audience with those keywords. I can hope.

 

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I received an e-mail earlier today from Amazon that their x-ray feature had been activated or was at least available on my books. X-ray provides a function somewhat similar to the dictionary where you can get a description of a character or term in the book. Overall, a very good thing in a fantasy story, I think.

So, the first thing I did when I got a chance was to check THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Sure enough, x-ray was enabled.

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But what they list as the description is just the very first sentence to contain the character’s name or the term. So, this means I need to go through all of that and change it to something actually useful. And then do the same for all the other books in the series. And then check all my other books.

Like I didn’t have any writing to do. I’ll squeeze it all in somehow. At least I have a four-day weekend coming up.

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I’ve been trying to figure out how to share a sample from the audiobook of The Shaman’s Curse.

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Of course, you can listen to the sample right there on Amazon, but I wanted to share it more broadly.

Unfortunately, WordPress won’t let me share the audio, here. (Well, they would, if I was willing to pay for the privilege.) And Facebook doesn’t let you share audio, even though you can share video–which makes little sense to me. But anyway. Then today I was watching a podcast from ACX University where it was suggested to make a video by just using the audiobook cover and the sample.

Well, that diverted me into getting the software (free) to do that and create said video. Of course, I still can’t upload that here. But I can upload the video to Facebook–it just takes a really long time, for some reason.

I’ve been waiting for Facebook to finish, which is in part why this post is so late. But it’s still thinking. Eventually, you may be able to listen to the video on my Facebook author page. I hope.

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I’ve finally gotten through that part of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d already done in first draft.

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The last few chapters are still a bit rough–as rough drafts are apt to be–but I managed to confine myself to only making changes for consistency.

So now, I’m ready to move forward with new chapters and try to actually get through to the end of the first draft. That’ll be fun!

In other news, the audio version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is finally here!

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I’m planning out how to promote that, which will be a new experience for me.

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. . . because it’s been that kind of few days.

First, I wrote that scene in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d been fretting over in my last post. becomeblueUnfortunately, I think I’ll probably end up deleting it in the revisions, but that’s for later and by then I may change my mind.

Second, I haven’t done much writing or critiquing for the last few days. It’s just been too hot here (and humid, which is unusual for this area). My brain just doesn’t function as well in that kind of weather. Let’s face it, when making the bed brings out a sweat, it’s time to stay indoors (near a fan, if possible), drink lots of water, and not move around much. So, I’ve basically wasted the last couple of days on computer games. Fortunately, it feels like the weather is shifting back closer to normal–at least for a few days.

Third, I have also been trying to work out why a particular story I just read didn’t really work for me, as writers do. (No, I’m not going to mention the title. Stories are very personal and subjective things. What didn’t work well for me might be a book you really enjoy. And why should I take that from you?)

In this case, it’s the latest book in a series I’ve really enjoyed, so the question of why I didn’t like this one as much might, possibly, shed light on some greater story-telling truth. Unfortunately, I really think it mostly comes down to two things.

The main character being out of her usual milieu–not out of her comfort zone, that happens in just about every book. But outside of her usual stomping grounds–and away from the people she usually interacts with–her general snark just can’t shine as much. There have only been three books that took her away from home and I only really enjoyed one of those–the one in which at least one of her usual friends and relations went with her.

But I think the main reason is withholding–when a point-of-view character knows something (or would have to be deaf, blind, and in a coma not to realize something), has every reason to think about and react to that knowledge, and doesn’t. Withholding is one of the two issues that can cause a knee-jerk reaction that makes me want to pitch the book against the wall (impractical in this case, anyway–I was reading on my computer). This wasn’t that bad, but I think it did pretty much ruin the book for me. It made this POV character–fortunately not the main character of the series–feel inauthentic, which he never has before.

Now that the weather is improving, maybe I can get some more real work done.

 

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Phase 1 is nearly complete. I’ve even had my first non-Amazon sale since 2014. Just a few more minor tasks.

I need to compile the .epub file for BLOOD IS THICKER and upload that to Draft2Digital.

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From there, it’s a simple matter to prepare the boxed set, CHIMERIA OMNIBUS.

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I also need to do one bit of cleanup on THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.

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For some reason I still haven’t figured out, the table of contents in the .epub I uploaded to Pronoun got altered. Their version includes an “untitled” line which seems to correspond to a blank Heading 3. (I use Heading 3 for my revision notes as I work through my manuscript. I delete them as I go. Evidently, in this case, the text was deleted but the style remained.)

Nevertheless, that line is not in my toc, partly because my toc deliberately only goes to level 2. The mystery is how it ended up in Pronoun’s .epub when it is not in the one I uploaded. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them about that in the next few days. In the meantime, there’s no reason not to fix it. It’s just compiling one more .epub.

That’s all the books that can go wide for the next couple of weeks, at least. So, after that, I can work on preparing the others as time allows and, finally, get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I have an idea for a new chapter I need to get to work on.

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Well, I published BLOOD WILL TELL widely yesterday,

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so I now have books distributed through both Pronoun and Draft2Digital. No sales on either, yet, but that’s not entirely unexpected. I’ll probably have to run a promotion or two later in the month to get these noticed.

Here are my first impressions:

  1. I prefer Draft2Digital’s interface. Pronoun’s interface is much glitzier, but it feels like it’s trying to lead a novice through this process. As I’m not a self-publishing novice, that’s a little irritating. It’s also not as flexible as either Amazon or Draft2Digital. For example, Pronoun insists that you use all seven keywords. Also all prices will end in .99. (Though Pronoun will allow you to set the book free, which Amazon won’t.) And, for Pronoun, if you want to (or need to) opt out of Amazon, you’ll have to supply the Amazon link to prove your book is already published there.
  2. Pronoun does offer an Author Page, which is very useful, especially since you can’t include a link to your Amazon author page for books that will be distributed through other vendors. And, in setting up this Author Page, you can list other books, currently only published on Amazon (through universal links).
  3. Pronoun tries to be very helpful, though it falls a little flat. When you enter a keyword, Pronoun makes suggestions. As far as I can tell, they’re harvesting similar terms that have been used and trying to suggest the most popular. I can get that from Kindle Samurai, if I choose. And, anyway, the suggestions for my genre were not actually good fits and all seemed to be directed toward specific books–that were not my book.
  4. Also, under the heading of trying to be helpful, I was bombarded with emails from Pronoun–twice before I figured out how to turn it off (I hope)–suggesting that many of my books (all of the Dual Magics series, individually, plus Fire and Earth) could be in Amazon’s top 100 in the Arthurian category. The only problem with that is that none of them have anything at all to do with King Arthur. Not even remotely.
  5. Both Pronoun and Draft2Digital will put out new release emails, which is very helpful.

So, now it’s just hunker down and wait through a pay cycle or two to see how things work out. I’ll go ahead and publish the other book in the Chimeria series, BLOOD IS THICKER,

 

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through Draft2Digital. And explore some of their more advanced options that I haven’t had a chance to look at yet.

And I’ll prepare the rest of the Dual Magics series to go up on Pronoun when they’re clear from Kindle Unlimited. Then, in July, I’ll be able to tackle the rest of my novel-length works and make a decision about the shorter works.

And maybe, just maybe, get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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