A Meeting of Giants

Everyone’s got a style. Not everyone’s success looks the same. An editor friend turned me on to this great conversation between author giants Stephen King and George R.R. Martin. They sat down for an hour long round-table discussion this summer in ABQ. At about the 50 minute mark Martin asks King how he writes so many books so fast. She told me that King responded later with his own question asking how to get a film or show made from his stories that doesn’t suck. (though it’s not in the video and maybe from another interaction between the two.) It’s a great interview and I wish I could’ve been in the audience for it! Also, this would be a great premise for an Epic Rap Battle: Martin vs. King.

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Book Review:Shadowlight

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ShadowLight review

Matthew Morgan’s Shadowlight is a surprising nugget one might stumble upon while cruising through amazon. I get a distinctly Buffy the Vampire feeling from it with similarly high stakes (haha… a pun), a crew of high powered individuals with distinct personalities, and multifaceted/layered characters. That should be read as a good thing. The characters have chemistry with each other and most of each have their own brand of damage from their back story (deafness, college grades, jealousy, low intellect, criminal record, etc.)

Morgan creates an original creation back story to setup the events of Shadowlight and tells the tale of mankind’s fall and a struggle between angelic forces and demonic ones. It is woven through the narrative in similar fashion to The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte (though Shadowlight is paranormal action/adventure while TKR is closer to High Fantasy.)

The bad guys are thoroughly evil, even if a bit trope driven. That’s nice, though… sometimes its good to have a Doctor Doom who isn’t a misunderstood neutral figure, tainted npc, or antihero… its refreshing to revisit characters suffering a thoroughly depraved nature (who we can sympathize but struggle to empathize for).

The plot feels like a good mix of Frank Perretti’s Present Darkness, Kring’s Heroes TV show, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

I know its good because I set it down for two days mid plot point and found myself wondering what the characters were up to. Shadowlight is a solid read and I’d encourage you to pick it up.

State of Writing

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I didn’t set a goal last week… it was more like a wishlist: a devo piece and another chapter in my novel. I stayed up late last night in order to pound out a chapter, but I did hit that mark. I’m hoping for a repeat this week, although it’s a fairly busy week paperwork-wise with planning my next quarter’s worth of activities/schedule and I’m doing a booksigning and a presentation at comicon in minneapolis this weekend.

Followup About Audible/ACX

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So there’s one thing I didn’t think to put in my recent post regarding Audio-books. Secretly, I’m cleaning out my email box and wanted to post these details so I can delete an old message.

I’ve got a situation with one of my titles that isn’t unique, but isn’t the norm, either. I have a novelette title that is part of a contest over at Freeditorial and the contest rules gives the contest website exclusivity for ebook distribution for the next year+ although I retain all other rights and I thought it would translate well into an audible title. It’s too short for a print version and I cannot do an ebook version. How can I go about creating this? I couldn’t find anything on the net or on ACX.com and so I emailed customer support.

“Is it possible to add a title ONLY to ACX and not have it on Amazon/Kindle?” I explained the above in an email to support.

Long story made short, the answer is negative, ghostwriter (c’mon… I’m funny, dagnabbit). Here’s the only options according to ACX:

I understand that you would like to know if you can publish an audiobook that is not listed as a print or Kindle book on Amazon.com. I can certainly assist with that. In order for a title to be considered for this program, it must first be listed on Amazon.com in paperback, hardcover or e-book format. If you intend to upload the audio yourself, the title can alternatively be available in the Amazon Book Store as an Audio CD.

It’s good to know that the last option is a possibility. It’s not something I’m going to do (I’d do an anthology, first) but it’s nice to have the info on how ACX works and how their model is really a kind of “piggyback” or add-on to their primary selling tool which is amazon.com. Live and learn!

 

Blog To Read

So, instead of recommending a book or pushing a free book, I thought I’d push out a cool blog post from a minister friend who drew heavily on my book Why Your Pastor Left for his sermon. You can check it out here:
http://matthewemorgan.com/pastoral_transition/

Matt is a friend of mine who is also an author. I’m currently about half-way through his novel, Shadowlight. I expect that I’ll have a review up for that in a week or two.

State of Writing

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Success! I hit all my marks. I’m going to bed, though (you didn’t think I write these posts the same day I publish them, did you?) I quite honestly didn’t feel it this week and didn’t think I’d make my goals. I literally sat on a lawn chair in a parking lot under a tarp in the rain in order to hit my writing marks–these stories aren’t just going to tell themselves!

I’m only 7 pages from completing John in the John… don’t think I’m going to surrender to temptation and just power through it, tempting as that sounds. For this coming week I want to get in another chapter on Fear in a Land Without Shadows (I’m in the home stretch on it) and one or two devos for JitJ but I’m not setting any goals this week–I’ll have settle for whatever I can muster. My laptop has been falling apart on me (keys sticky or frequently double clicking, etc.) and finally my touchpad-mouse’s left click button stopped working. I finally broke down and purchased a new one but it may take me all week to transfer my files, etc. I hate when things break down.

Frequent Question #2 How do I get my book on Audible?

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Here’s another one I have heard quite a few times. A lot of newer authors, or those who just don’t know, think that being on Audible or having an audiobook is a huge hassle or is very expensive… while it can be the case—it doesn’t need to be.

If you have the right skillset or a little guidance you can take your published work and have it put into print in paperback for absolutely no cost. You can also have it converted for absolutely NOTHING into a Kindle ebook (and it will be available also on nook, kobo, apple, etc.) Finally, an option exists to do the same for an audiobook. You might think that you must own some high-end audio recording equipment to do it for free—THAT IS NOT THE CASE!

I’ll level with you early. I do have some recording equipment and all the software necessary as part of my music-making days. That is something necessary for an audio producer: the person who records, mixes, masters, and encodes the sound files necessary for your ebook: they essentially transcribe your written piece into audio. That person can be you if you desired (and had the equipment and skillset) but it doesn’t have to be to have your audio book made at no cost.

So here’s how it works: once your book is listed on Amazon.com (I prefer to use Createspace so I have complete control over the product) click the “make ebook” tab in the production guide for your book—this will send your files to Kindle. Many users of ebooks find audiobooks directly through the books they’ve downloaded, so don’t skip that step (if your goal was to get read, this opens many doors). Once that is done, go to the site where audiobooks are made: acx.com… it stands for Audible Creation eXchange.

The trick is to understand that you can opt for a commission split with a recording engineer giving him or her a vested interest in your audiobooks. This allows them, without any pay upfront, to create your audiobook and receive 50% of your earned royalties on the book’s audio format (only the audio—which they will pour many hours of skilled labor into.)

Here’s how it works:
Audible.com will host your files and do the listing/distribution of the files. They get their cut off the top and earn a whopping 60% of the royalties (I know! That’s a lot—but it’s their game. You can either take your ball and go home, or let them help you sell your stories—and remember, you don’t have to put any effort into your audiobook once you find an audio producer.

Select the commission split option and follow the guide (tell them what you’re looking for in a voice and copy/paste a script for narration which the engineers will read as an audition.

Pick the one you like best, and then let them do the work! This does take some time, but it’s all labor that you won’t have to do.

The main thing you would need to do is just watch the sales through the tracking console (it’s the same kind of format as amazon/createspace and Kindle… the only difference is that it doesn’t tell you immediately what your earnings are because of their sliding scale (as a service, Audible has three different rates which they pay out at depending on the buyer’s subscription rate or if they aren’t a subscribing customer.)

 

Here’s a great article which lists a few details I didn’t go into (like profit rates, how amazon decides to price your audiobook, etc.)
http://authormarketinginstitute.com/how-acx-earnings-work/

Free Fiction Tuesday Triple Shot!

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I’ve got a few new things in the works that will be coming out very soon! The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte (book 1) should be coming out next week–got the edits all done over the weekend after my line editor got done with it and I had a chance to look over the galley and make some format/cover alterations. Wolf of the Tesseract is available now on ebook and should be out on audio in a couple weeks. It’s been a busy year… in the above photo, four of those five books came out this year! I’ll have completed another nonfiction book and a new novel by years end bringing my count up to 3 books this year! I also decided, after taking a new look at an old 45k word Paranormal YA book I wrote eight years ago that I might do some heavy rewriting on it–I’ve always liked the concept, so I might as well rework the subpar execution and push it out for free on Wattpad, where YA rules all like the One Ring.

I’ve got two giveaways for free stuff going on right now! Get a FREE paperback copy of Wolf of the Tesseract over at my Goodreads contest. Also, you can get your FREE audiobook copy of Dekker’s Dozen: The Last Watchmen at my facebook author page!
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If you want a free story right now, check out the piece below!

godofthunderBurning the God of Thunder is available here: https://freeditorial.com/en/books/burning-the-god-of-thunder

“God owes me a 1936 Harley Davidson Knucklehead!” It’s what drives Burn–Bernard Crowley. With that one statement, he can easily justify every evil act he’s ever committed as he’s crisscrossed the country on two roaring wheels. While heading west through New Mexico, his mirror showed a mammoth of a man riding an old Ironhead and coming up fast. Shirtless, tan, and blonde, Burn mentally identified him as Thor, at least until they could pull off for gas or a drink at some biker dive. He might not have been the son of a god, but the tall blonde claimed to be a guardian angel on a critical mission–one in which Burn played an important role and forces the jaded biker to confront his past demons.

State of Writing

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So I kept up with my goals for the week… I thought it’d be great to complete a new chapter for Fear in a Land Without Shadows, but I thought it more important to go back while my review notes of the first two parts were still fresh and rework a few parts. I also redrafted my outline for the book and I managed to get a few new pieces for John in the John completed. Oh yeah, and an article for our local newspaper–I’ve been asked to do some freelancing on a weekly basis on addition to the column I contribute to a couple times a year. I kinda feel like I’m treading water like Michael Phelps as far as my writing goes.

I have a BBQ contest this weekend, a major youth event, a big fundraiser, and my regular work schedule plus an article or two due for the newspaper–but my goals for the week are to complete the new chapter in Fear, write a new devo piece for JitJ, and rewrite my nonfiction proposal for John in the John so that I can start submitting it to agents as completion of the draft draws near.

How Book Reviews Keep the Internet Troll Population in Check

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I remember back when I wrote my first novel nearly ten years ago. I did a lot of local signings and talked to a lot of people and would often quip, “if you like it please tell everyone—if you don’t like it I’d love it if you told no one.”

Book reviews are incredibly powerful tools. Yes, yes… it comes up frequently on this blog. If it’s not blatantly obvious from the themes and subjects I often touch on, I am an author and I am a Christian—not the “I went to church last Christmas” kind but the kind that isn’t shy about having strong beliefs, tries not to be a hypocrite, tries to live a life that would make God happy, and the kind that will love you if you are a drunk or an addict, promiscuous or homosexual, a Muslim or an atheist, or even a lawyer or politician. I don’t have to agree with you in order to be a decent human being to you—even if I think you are flat out wrong, Jesus’s command to love with the power of God does not diminish. Where the heck am I going with this? Here’s the rub: you don’t have to spend much time in a Christian Bookstore or scrolling down the columns of Christian books online in order to find a pretty significant quality difference that Christian authors must overcome. The deck is stacked against most Christian Indie writers (and small faith-based publishers don’t help by setting the bar for quality control soooo low…ever bought a book from Tate Publishing? It’s a wonder it doesn’t disintegrate when the humidity crawls above 30%).

I feel like being aware of that stigma helps Christian authors make better books. I’m a little miffed, though, by a 1-star review on my nonfiction book, Why Your Pastor Left, on Goodreads. I ran a paperback give-away for the nonfiction book that was categorized as religious. That means I paid to print a copy of the book, paid to ship it to me, and paid to ship it again to a contest winner in exchange for an honest review online. One of the winners was a blatant and outspoken atheist who was very willing to have me pay money to send him a product not meant for him just so he could give it a negative mark and leave a comment stating “Religion is an enemy of rationalism and intelligent thought. It promotes ignorance and anti-science. If the church wants to keep people involved, why not speak out for a solid scientific education. How about working on climate change or speaking out against gun madness or supporting good government. It’s all about some other world that we know nothing about.” He also shelved it as a book under the Atheism category. Soooooo… yeah. I checked out his reviews and he’s got a pretty big habit of surfing Goodreads in order to locate Christian/religious books and give them a 1 star rating in order to use an online medium to blacken some eyes and discourage readers from picking up books that might support an ideology he doesn’t agree with.

(just an FYI sidenote: it’s generally pretty poor taste to tell an author that their book was terrible because it wasn’t about what you wanted it to be about–a real Vermin Supreme move… “Dear Mr. Author, I recently read your book on the history of pirates. I’m greatly disappointed that you never once mention the secret cyborg uprising that I believe controls Washington DC. I’m afraid I must give you a 1 star rating, but only because I can’t give you less.”
Please don’t let the take away from this article be that it’s cool to surf Amazon, Goodreads, etc. and leave a 1-star review for every Christian/Atheist/Democrat/Muslim/etc. book you can find with a review comment that boils down to “this ideology is foolish and must be avoided.”)

That was my experience today. After I got over being butt-hurt and sent him a fairly friendly message I thought I’d share the story—but not as a means of seeking revenge (please don’t scroll through Goodreads and then send him nasty messages—that would do no good.) This is an example of why leaving supportive reviews are so important! When you leave an authentic, glowing review for an author you like it will lead to others wanting read and support as well… when there are enough positive reviews they drown out the negative ones or indicate those that are clearly character assassinations.

Support the authors you like: book reviews literally cost you nothing! If you want to check out my author page and leave me some positive reviews or scroll through my backlist, you can find me on my author profile: amazon.com/author/christopherdschmitz or on my website!
www.authorchristopherdschmitz.com