Monday, January 27, 2020

Motifs I'd Like to Use #10: Signposting - A Literary Technique

Welcome everyone!

Today I'm going to talk about "signposting." If you've read many book series, then you probably know that that is even though you've likely never heard it called that.

Signposting is when an author leaves the reader a clue about what time of year it is by observing some kind of recurring momentous occasion. This can be anything from holidays, birthdays, seasons, to celebrations.

For instance, many of you have probably read or or watched the Harry Potter series. In most of the books, Harry has to get to school. The start of the school year is a signpost that tells the audience how much time has passed since the last installment. She also usually includes something about Christmas. That's another signpost that lets the reader know how much time has passed within the story.

In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Bilbo share the same birthday. Those days are observed in the story to let the reader have an idea of how much time has passed.

Signposting is an important technique because the reader will often have a hard time keep track of days, weeks, and years during a story. Just think about how hard it is to keep track of stuff in real life! And also, it's kinda lame for an author to just come out and say "It was two years since the events of the last book..."

My books will also use signposting. Tristan's birthday is a big one. Also the change from summer to fall and from fall to winter will be used. However, there may be times I just have to come out and say, "Two weeks later..."

Each author has to make that decision. Signposting is preferred to plainly stating it, but it's not always a feasible technique. Plus, it's a fun way to celebrate tradition. People love traditions, and revisiting a holiday or celebration will bring back fond memories for the reader, which is always nice. You can even subvert those fond memories by having tragedy strike at a time that is normally associated with happiness.



Anyway, there's a little peak behind the curtain of writing for you. Don't forget to come back on Thursday for a HUGE reveal. It's going to be wonderfully exciting for you. I can't wait!

Peace,

-Troy

Friday, January 24, 2020

Goals for the Weekend 2020-01-24

Welcome everyone!

I have a busy weekend with personal stuff this week, but I still hope to make progress on the audio book for The Huntsman and the Vampire.

This weekend's goals:

  • Get one or two chapters recorded
If I can do that, I'll have a successful weekend. I hope you do too.

Peace,

-Troy

Thursday, January 23, 2020

*Thursday Reveal* Audiobook Cover!

Welcome everyone!

For the last few weeks I've been going on about the audio version of The Huntsman and the Vampire. I'm down to the last few chapters and hope to get the recording phase finished very soon. After that, comes the editing and mastering.

Editing and mastering fit my schedule much better. I can do a few minutes at a time and just need a pair of headphones. When recording, I have to get my whole apparatus together, and it also needs to be pretty quiet. I often have to turn off the heat or air condition, in fact.

So, once I get the recording done, it should come along more quickly. You can check out the audio version of my first book on Audible HERE.

Anyway, you don't care about that. You're here for a reveal, so let's get to it:
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


Naturally, it resembles the full cover. Audible requires a square format that resembles the old CD cases audiobooks used to come in. Regardless, I think it's beautiful, and I'm proud to have it represent my work.

Until next time, take care of each other!

Peace,

-Troy

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Vids I Like #4 - Making Good Villains

Welcome everyone!

One of the things I struggle with as a writer is making good villains. Mine are often too remote, flat, or abstract for the audience to relate to. Sometimes, that's okay. You don't need a nuanced villain if you're setting up a fun adventure story where good and evil are black and white.

However, for a deeper, more hard-hitting story, a villain the audience can sympathize with is far more preferable. Below is a video explaining how a popular comic book movie is both sympathetic and objectionable at the same time. It's a brilliant vid, IMHO, and one I'll refer to often in the future:


Peace,

-Troy

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Upcoming Changes to My Site

Welcome everyone!

I'm working on several changes to my website. I hope these will improve the experience for everyone who comes here.

First, I'm going back through all my posts and adding tags to them. This will make it much easier to sort and find entries on a specific topic. I should have done this when I first started, but alas, I didn't think about it. So in the future, you'll be able to type "Phen" in the search bar and pull up any post about him. This will be useful for myself as well.

Second, I'll be updating the sidebars with links to my new book. That'll change the appearance a bit, but in a good way. I love my new cover and can't wait to feature it more.

Third, I'll be looking for more widgets to add that will make my site more entertaining for you. I want this place to be informative and fun at the same time.


Finally, don't forget that The Huntsman and the Vampire is available for pre-order. If you order now, it will be on your doorstep on launch day, February 12th. And, since I've been talking so much about my audio book lately, I think I'll make something from that my Thursday reveal this week. Make sure you check back then!

Peace,

-Troy

Monday, January 20, 2020

Just 3 More Chapters to Go!

Welcome everyone!

I've had a great weekend. I want to celebrate with you how close I've come to finishing the audiobook for The Huntsman and the Vampire. I'm down to recording the last three chapters!

I had 8 chapters to go when the weekend started. I really knuckled down and made a strong push to get the book done. Alas, that is too many chapters to fit into one weekend, but I did try.

I hope to get it all finished by the end of next weekend. If I do, one of my upcoming Thursday reveals will be an audio copy of the first chapter.

Anyway, aside, from that, it looks like I'll be able to share some other exciting news this week. I just have to firm up a couple more things to be certain.

Until then, take care of each other!


Peace,

-Troy

Friday, January 17, 2020

Goals for the Weekend 2020-01-17

Welcome everyone!

This weekend I have a pretty simple task: make more progress on the audio book. Last weekend went well, but it's still an agonizingly slow process. I'm close to 70% done recording, which is great. But that still leaves hours and hours of editing and mastering to do. Blah.

So here's my goal:

  • Try to get at least four chapters recorded
If I can do that, I'll have a successful weekend. I hope you do to.

Peace,

-Troy

Thursday, January 16, 2020

*Thursday Reveal* The First Page!

Welcome everyone!

Today I reveal the first bit of text for The Huntsman and the Vampire. I thought about just posting a screenshot of my own final draft that's in a Word document, but the interior of my book is so beautiful that I wanted to post the actual thing for anyone to see.

If you get the paperback version of THATV, this is exactly what it will look like. I love the work my layout artist does. It's amazing.

This is also the first for-really-real spoiler of the season. I'm not overly concerned about posting the first page. Once my book is launched, Amazon will put the first two to three chapters up for everyone to read in its "Look Inside!" feature. So I'm not **really** spoiling anything that would get spoiled by someone else regardless.

The first page begins, however, with a surprise, so if you don't want to be spoiled, don't look any further down below.

Last warning!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


So, there we have it! The book begins with an ending. I felt it would be poetic. We're saying goodbye to the adventure of the first book and hello to the adventure of the second. Every beginning requires the ending of something else, even if that ending means going from non-existence to existence.

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peak. I'll be back next week with even more! Until then, take care of each other :)

Peace,

-Troy

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Toss a Review To Your Author

Welcome everyone!

Today I'm going to talk about reviews. Many who read this blog love books. I love them too! And one thing I've discovered since first starting my writing journey is that small-time authors thrive on reviews.

Websites like GoodReads, Amazon, Book Gorilla, BookBub, Barnes and Noble, etc. make decisions about a book's visibility (how prominently to display a book) based on the number of reviews that book has gotten. It was something I never thought about when I was just a consumer, but those reviews are lifeblood for a fledgling author.



The more reviews a book gets, the more likely it is that the book will be featured higher in searches, showcases, and newsletters. Crossing thresholds like 100 or 200 reviews can catapult a title from obscurity to fame. No joke.

One of my colleagues in the indie-author biz has a book with over 250 reviews on Amazon. He is constantly getting sales for his eBook even though he does littler advertising. Another colleague has 33 reviews and she sees very little engagement with her title despite using her full advertising budget each month. Those reviews matter.



Unfortunately, leaving a review is more complicated than just smashing a like button on YouTube. Readers often have to go the trouble of logging in or creating an account to leave a review. Other sites, like Amazon, require you to have spent a certain amount of money in the last 12 months in order to be eligible to review a product. It's a pain, I know.

The reasons for those requirements, though, are simple. Authors can be a desperate lot and in the past have created burner accounts to leave reviews or have employed bots to mass review their works in order to jump up the visibility ladder. Thus, these websites have taken great pains to make sure that doesn't happen. Their integrity and the customer experience depend on it.



So if you can, please leave your favorite authors a review on whatever platform you prefer. It will mean a lot to them and you'll help improve the overall customer experience for everyone.

Now, I wouldn't blame people for pointing out that this post might be self-serving, but I'm not directly asking folks to leave me a review per se. Although I will greatly appreciate every review that I get, I'm a long ways from any of the key thresholds. Instead, I just want to put out there how important reviews are to book lovers and book writers alike. If you love the books you've read, the best way to ensure you get more titles like that is to leave a review. This will encourage that author to continue writing AND show other authors what kinds of stories people want to see.



It's a virtuous circle that keeps feeding itself.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for a really cool reveal. I'll see you then!

Peace,

-Troy

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Setbacks Are a Part of the Game

Welcome everyone!

Any project that takes years to complete will suffer setbacks. Publishing a book series is no different, and I am now confronting several setbacks that I'll have to solve.

With the release of The Huntsman and the Vampire less than a month away, I've turned my attention to Book 3 in the Hunter's Rose series. I've contacted all the artists, editors, and creators I've worked with for the first two books in the series to inquire about their availability. Sadly, some will likely not be available.

The artist I used for the landscapes and architectural designs in my first book is no longer able to produce. I covered that in the past, but there's been no change, unfortunately. I really liked his style and his promptness, but in the end, he won't be returning. I'll be very interested to hear what people think of the art produced by his replacement in Book 2.

Also, the editor I used for The Huntsman and the Vampire has left the industry. This was a particularly hard blow for me since I admire her work both in the editing field and the writing field. She's the author of Unanchored, a pirate-historical fiction novel that I personally think is quite enjoyable.


In addition to that, the folks who have done the cover and interior for my first two books have gone radio silent. They haven't posted to their social media since August and are no longer returning my emails and PM's. I do know that they have suffered some serious health issues lately, and I sincerely hope that there has not been a relapse or sudden change for the worse.

I want to be clear that I'm not disappointed in any of these people. Real Life comes up all the time. Family, illness, burnout, whatever can all change a person's course in life very quickly. I'm nobody special. They don't owe me anything, and if they aren't able to do the work, I wouldn't want to pressure them into it.

But this illustrates one of the challenges, maybe the biggest challenge, of being an independently published author: you must rely on other independent people to make your project happen.

The great thing about being independent is you get to decide everything for yourself. There are no schedules, no commitments beyond what you're willing to make. But that's a two-edged sword when outsourcing elements of your book. All the other independent artists get to make decisions for themselves too, and if they can't or don't want to work with you anymore, then there's no real recourse. Author's writing for a publishing company don't have to worry about such things.

Perhaps it was naive of me to think I'd get to work with the same people for the entire series.

Thankfully, I have plenty of time to sort this out. I'm a person who prefers to plan ahead and make sure doubly sure before I set out to do something. Now that I know that certain contractors won't be available, I don't have select someone in a hurry. I can take my time to evaluate and choose new ones based on their track record.

Anyway, I'm just keeping you in the loop and warning you about one of the potential pitfalls of indie publishing. Take care of each other out there.

Peace,

-Troy

Monday, January 13, 2020

Got The Trailer For Book 2 Ordered!

Welcome everyone!

Today, I ordered the trailer for The Huntsman and the Vampire. For those who don't recall, here is the trailer for The Huntsman and the She-Wolf:


I'm excited for the second one. The same group based out Greece will be making it. I was thrilled with how the first one turned out, and I'm sure they'll do a fantastic job on the second.

Expect the trailer for Book 2 to drop on February 6th. That's less than a week away from when The Huntsman and the Vampire will launch.

Also, stay tuned for a very special announcement. If things go the way I think they will tonight, I'll have some great news later on this week for those who might like to get their book signed.

Peace,

-Troy

Friday, January 10, 2020

Goals for the Weekend 2020-01-10

Welcome everyone!

This was my first week back at work after vacation. It was hard getting back into the routine. Waking up at 5am is no fun at all.

Anyway, this weekend I hope to make a lot of progress. Here is my list of things I plan to do:

  • Finalize the book trailer for The Huntsman and the Vampire (yep, you read that right!)
  • Record at least two chapters for the audio book for Book 2
  • Continue early work on Book 3
If I can do all that, I'll have a successful weekend. I hope you do too. Take care of each other.

Peace,

-Troy

Thursday, January 9, 2020

*Thursday Reveal* Table of Contents

Welcome everyone!

Today, we begin checking out the interior of my book. The "Look Inside" feature is not up on Amazon for The Huntsman and the Vampire yet. For whatever reason, they don't enable previews until you actually publish.

That's fine. It just gives me the chance to delight you here on my site! So today, we're going to look at the table of contents.

This ToC comes from the hardback version, so if you get the paperback or eBook, then the page numbers will be different. Other than that, this is the real deal.

I'm once again adding SPOILER space for this post. If you're trying to avoid learning anything about the book before you read it, turn back now. I don't think there's all that much given away in the chapter titles, but just in case, here we go:

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.



So there you go! That ought to keep your imagination busy for a while. As a reminder, The Huntsman and the Vampire launches on February 12th. That just over one month away. If you go ahead and pre-order your copy now, it will arrive on your doorstep on the 12th. You'll be able to read it the day it comes out!

I'll be back next week with even more. Until then, take care of each other :)

Peace,

-Troy

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2019 THATSW Sales Totals!

Welcome everyone!

Today, I want to go over my 2019 sales totals for The Huntsman and the She-Wolf. Technically, the sequel (The Huntsman and the Vampire) has been available for pre-order since December, but I don't actually get those sales until launch time which is February 12th. Therefore, all of my numbers for 2019 are for THATSW only.

So, how did things go? The short answer, is wonderful! From the research I've been able to conduct, I've learned that the average independently published author will sell about 200 copies in the first 12 months and 500 for the first 36th months.

THATSW launched on March 26, 2019. So that gives me about nine months of data. I've extremely happy to announce that I've been able to surpass the first year average in only three-quarters of the time!

Let's break those numbers down a bit:

  • Online Paperback Sales: 100
  • Online Hardback Sales: 62
  • Online eBook Sales: 38
  • Online Audiobook Sales: 19
  • In-Person Paperback Sales: 8
  • In-Person Hardback Sales: 7
  • Kindle Unlimited (KNEP) Pages Read: 7040
  • Amazon Reviews: 9
  • Goodreads Reviews: 7
  • Audible Reviews: 5

These are fantastic numbers for a debut story! In total, not counting Kindle Unlimited, I've sold 234 copies of The Huntsman and the She-Wolf. If you were to divide the Kindle Unlimited pages by 209 (the number of pages in my eBook) you would get another 33 copies. 

I could not be more excited and please about the book's performance. I want to offer a sincere thanks to every single person who has supported me in this endeavor. It's been a great year.

Now, I don't want anyone to think I'm making this post to brag. I'm certainly not. Since I've been published, I've had numerous people ask my how hard it is to write a book, what is it like to publish, and how many copies have I sold? I want to be transparent with people, so that anyone who takes the steps to write and publish their own novel, will understand what the business is like and what their expectations should be. The Huntsman and the She-Wolf would be considered "successful" under most models, but absolutely not a runaway success.


So, that's where things stand after the first nine months. In just a few weeks, the sequel will launch. I think Book 2 is going to delight you even more than the first! And, I'll be glad to share sales data from that as well. Expect it to be less than the first. That's just the nature of the system.

Anyway, I hope the new year is off to a good start for everyone. Tune in tomorrow for the next Thursday Reveal!

Peace,

-Troy

Monday, January 6, 2020

Back...But Under the Weather

Welcome everyone!

It's time to get back to talking about literature, The Hunter's Rose series, and most importantly, The Huntsman and the Vampire that's coming out in just over a month. I am now back from all the holiday festivities, and along with them comes the inevitable germ-exchange with people who live in different parts of the country. Nothing serious, of course. Just a part of life.

So anyway, Thursday reveals are back on! Expect to see something cool this Thursday. I'll also hopefully have an update with my book sales for 2019 and my issues with getting Amazon to properly market my book in the near future.



So anyway, Happy New Year To All! Let's make 2020 a good year together :)

Peace,

-Troy