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Author: Chelsea Campbell

Coming Soon to a Kickstarter Near You

I’ve been skeptical about doing a kickstarter for the next Renegade X audiobook (which is book 3, The Betrayal of Renegade X, for those of you just tuning in), but you guys have been asking for it, and the idea’s lit a fire in my brain and won’t let me go, so you guys are going to get the chance to make this happen.

And maybe I shouldn’t be skeptical about it – after all, we raised enough to produce the book 2 audiobook during the kickstarter to publish book 3 (which is still one of the most awesome things that has ever happened, so good job, guys!), so I may have underestimated how well an audiobook kickstarter will do. Though it’s still a lot of money to raise in just a short time, which is always nerve-racking!

One of my goals for this kickstarter is to have incentives for everyone, not just the audiobook fans. So even if you haven’t been listening to the audiobooks, there’s something for you here. It’s going to be back-to-school themed – the only question is… will you be attending Vilmore or Heroesworth? >:)

Possible incentives include:

  • The Betrayal audiobook, obviously!
  • Maybe the audiobooks for books 1 and 2. There might be a way to include them, but I need to talk to ACX first and find out.
  • A mention on a thank-you page on my website.
  • Vilmore and Heroesworth school supplies: keychains, notebooks, T-shirts, and blankets.
  • A special ebook omnibus that includes all four main books, plus the novellas, including the one I’m currently working on that doesn’t have a title yet but is basically Renegade X meets Adventures in Babysitting, plus some yet-to-be-determined bonus content.
  • A recording of a short, personalized message of your choice read by Damien (or any of your other favorite Renegade X characters). This could either be completely custom, as in written by you, or I can make something up for you.
  • A diploma from the school of your choice, either Heroesworth or Vilmore, with your choice of specialty/major. (Or for those of you obviously going back to school, what with your notebooks and your T-shirts and whatnot, this is, like, a pre-diploma. Something to put above your desk as a motivator to get all your villain homework done and stuff.)

Let me know what you think in the comments or if there’s anything I’ve left out! All of the physical items are things I can get through Zazzle, which has a shipping program where you pay $10 and have free domestic shipping, which will mean free shipping for you guys, as long as you’re in the US (international backers will still have to pay extra for shipping, unfortunately), and more of the money raised will be able to go toward funding the audiobook.

And if you haven’t tried out the audiobooks yet, you can start here. (<—- I get a bonus if you use this link to sign up, just FYI.) If you’re new to Audible, they give you a free audiobook for signing up, and then you don’t have to stay subscribed if you don’t want to. And if you’ve already bought the ebooks for book 1 or book 2 on Amazon, then you can get each corresponding audiobook for only $7.49, even without being an Audible member.

Anyway, I am super excited about this and I hope you guys are, too!

 

Upcoming Sneak Peek!

Just a heads up–newsletter subscribers are getting a hilarious sneak peek at The Rivalry of Renegade X next month! If you’re not signed up, you can do so here: https://www.subscribepage.com/e7w5g1. (I’m always paranoid that I’m going to spell it “sneek peak,” but looks like I made it through. *phew*)

Also, you may have noticed, if you’re viewing this on my site, that the website has a new look. I loved the old theme, but it had some issues, like not showing the drop down menus properly and layering the heading so it was on top of literally everything. So, at least for now, I’ve switched to something cleaner and easier to deal with. Though I find it kind of hard to read, but I find everything hard to read, so I might just need new glasses. My Scrivener files are all turned up to 175% right now…

No audiobook news yet. The contract I was waiting for (unrelated to the audiobooks, but that would have paid for the next book) is still maybe happening, but it’s been a year and a half, so I’m not holding my breath on that one. But the audiobooks are still really important to me, and it is still happening, I just don’t know when. I keep coming back to the idea of crowdfunding it somehow, but it’s a bit tricky because I can’t give away the existing audiobooks, due to exclusivity rights, and I’m not sure a kickstarter for it would be successful (I’d need to raise at least $2500, not including paying for incentives and fees). Patreon is a possibility, but I keep talking myself out of it, because I’m not sure what I could offer or how it would work to do a big project like that on there. I just picture it taking months and months and still not making it and then everyone hating me forever. Anyway, opinions/suggestions on this are welcome!

Honorbound – Cover Reveal and Pre-Order

It’s here! I am so excited to show you the super gorgeous, amazingly shiny cover for Honorbound! I’ve seen it a bunch of times now, and every time I’m still like, “Whoa.” This cover was created by the uber talented Fiona Jayde of fionajaydemedia.com. If you’re an author looking for an artist, I wholeheartedly recommend her! She was great to work with, her prices are more than reasonable, and her artwork is crazy awesome!

Anyway, not only does it have a cover, but Honorbound is available for pre-order! I listed the release date as May 29th to give myself plenty of wiggle room, but the book is close to being done and I plan to have it out by the end of April, sooner if possible. It will be part of Kindle Unlimited, and there will be a paperback release to follow. I am really hoping to also do an audiobook version, but I haven’t talked to the narrator yet, so I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up (including my own). Plus, as you all know, I am woefully behind on the Renegade X audiobooks, so this one will have to go to the end of the queue. (And yes, those audiobooks are still happening.)

Honorbound, Take Two

For those of you waiting for the Dragonbound sequel, here’s an updated (read: completely new) blurb:

When Amelrik proposes, Virginia couldn’t be happier, even though she knows the king of Hawthorne clan will never allow his only son to marry a St. George. But the situation turns out to be even worse when Cedric, the appointed heir, refuses to come home and marry for a political alliance. If Cedric doesn’t show, the king’s going to make Amelrik take his place, meaning Virginia will lose him forever.

 

Determined not to have their lives decided for them, Virginia and Amelrik set out to find Cedric and convince him to come home. But when a group of paladins takes over the city Cedric’s been living in, on the grounds that there have been recent dragon attacks, they put the town on lockdown. No one’s getting in or out, dragon or human. Sooner or later, any dragons stuck inside the town will have to transform and reveal themselves, and Virginia, Amelrik, and Cedric find themselves trapped.

 

Things only get worse when Virginia’s dragon-hunter sister, Celeste, shows up to aid the paladins. And as the dragon attacks increase, so does the town’s paranoia. Time is running out, and soon Virginia and Amelrik are fighting just for survival. If they can’t figure out what’s really going on, and soon, it won’t just be their love that’s in danger—it’ll be their lives.

COVER COMING SOON!!! Add it on Goodreads!

Someday It Will Happen for You

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of when I got the offer for Renegade X! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, or all the crazy stuff that’s happened in between. Nothing’s gone how I thought it would, lol.

I believed the book was going to be a huge success and that I’d always be under contract and have a great career as a traditionally published author (except I didn’t think the “traditionally” part because indie wasn’t a thing then). Ha! Didn’t happen.

Years later, after it had gone out of print and I re-published it, along with the sequel, I believed I’d only sell a few copies. My grand hope was to sell 20 copies of book 2 a month. That also didn’t happen, but in a good way, because sales WAY exceeded that.

Both these stories make me laugh now.

And I remember before I was published how BADLY I wanted it and how sometimes–most of the time–it felt like I would never get there. And now that seems ridiculous.

I also remember the years when it felt like my career was over before it had really even started and how it felt like nothing was ever going to change. And now that feels ridiculous, too.

And in a few more years, I’ll probably look back at all the things I’m worrying about and struggling with right now and think lol, what was I worried about? Of course it all worked out!

But if someone had told me back in the day not to worry about getting published, that of course I was going to get there, of course I was going to be good enough and get noticed enough someday… I don’t think I could have gotten past my anxiety enough to listen. I would have thought that published authors always say that, because it’s easy for them, now that they’re not struggling. (Lol.) Maybe that’s true, and maybe that worry is important, to some extent.

But to all the aspiring writers out there, I’d like to say this: someday it will happen for you. Someday you’ll get that contract or that bump in sales that snowballs and changes everything.

And someday something else will go wrong, and you’ll think you screwed up your one chance at success, and it’s over.

But it’s not.

 

Inktober – #1 – 8

 

I’ve been participating in Inktober this year, where basically the goal is to draw every day in October. These were all done on the computer, with a tablet, in Krita, which is free, open-source software for artists that I highly recommend! I’ve tried to draw in Photoshop before, and I kind of hate it, and I’m really terrible at coloring things in it. I mean, let’s be honest, coloring has never been one of my strong points, but I feel like that’s changing with Krita. Because it turns out coloring things is a lot easier when you have limitless colors and, like, a bazillion different tools to use them with. As opposed to, say, an old box of crayons or colored pencils. Not that I’m still using crayons or anything, and I do have a box of not-that-old Prismacolor pencils, but it’s the smallest box and I don’t know how to blend anything.

Anyone else doing Inktober? Leave me a comment and a link to your gallery!

 

Self-publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

As promised, a post taken from an email I wrote. This is an overview of my thoughts on self-publishing and traditional publishing, based on my and other people’s experiences. Though having experienced both, I’ll admit I’m pretty biased towards self-publishing. But whichever route you take, you should know what you’re in for.

Unless you’re a mega bestseller, it’s really hard to make a living through writing in traditional publishing. Self-publishing makes it much easier for the average author (or “midlister”) to earn a real income. Self-publishing also pays monthly (with an initial two-month delay after publication), and you can see all of your sales numbers. In traditional publishing, on the other hand, you have no idea when you’ll get paid. When a publisher buys your book, they give you an advance on royalties (and these numbers range wildly–could be $5,000, could be $500,000, theoretically depending on how many copies they think they can sell in the first year, but honestly it feels pretty random, and different publishers will make completely different offers on the same books).

Anyway, usually you’ll get half the advance on signing your contract, and half when revisions are done, but sometimes the advance will be paid in thirds instead, so one third on signing, one third on turning in the revised book, and one third on actual publication. There is literally no way to know when any of these steps will be done. Contracts can take only a few months to put together, but I’ve known people who had to wait a year for them. Even getting your revision notes depends on how busy your editor is and when they can get around to it, and then once you’ve actually done them and turned them in, the editor has to find time to read them, which could be weeks or months. Sometimes this process goes fairly quickly (as in, only a few months), but sometimes authors get stuck in revision hell where the editor just keeps requesting revisions over and over again for years. It’s rare for it to take that long, but it happens. Publication dates also get pushed forward sometimes, though at a certain point it’s locked in place. Then once your book comes out, you start getting royalty statements, which list your sales numbers, and if you’ve earned back your advance, they’ll also come with a royalty check. But these statements only come twice a year, and they’re six months after the fact. So whatever sales numbers they list are completely outdated, so for the most part, you’re always in the dark about how your book is doing. Publishers can also “hold against returns,” which means even if you’ve earned out your advance, they might not pay you anything because they’re trying to keep a buffer in case copies of your book get returned.

 

With self-publishing, on the other hand, you always know your sales numbers and how much money you’re making and when it will be paid.

 

You also have very little control over what a publisher does with your book. You can say no to edits–which a lot of authors don’t realize and end up making changes they don’t like–but the publisher has complete control over the cover and the blurb on the back of the book. (And if the cover offends people, readers always blame the author.) The publisher also controls the pricing and the Amazon categories the book is listed in. Amazon categories are super important for selling books, and putting it in the right combination of categories can have a huge effect on sales. As a self-publisher, you can choose categories and keywords and can change them at any point, but a publisher will set them once and never touch them again.

 

Traditional publishing is also super slow. It can take years for a book to come out, and that’s after you’ve found a publisher, which can also take years. For my first book, The Rise of Renegade X, it took me a year and a half to find a publisher, and then it took another year and a half for it to come out, but it can take more like two or three, depending on how full their publication schedule is. The book only took me a month to write, but it took another three years for it to hit the shelves. The publisher also did no marketing for it, and the buyer at Barnes and Noble (because yes, there’s one person per bookstore chain who decides if any of the stores can sell your book) had a “personal reaction” to the book (whatever that means) and decided no Barnes and Nobles were going to sell it. That may have contributed to my publisher not marketing the book–it’s hard to say. But basically, most of a book’s fate has been decided before readers even have a chance to buy it. Three years after the book came out, it was out of print, and I was able to get the rights back (because of a certain clause in my contract that said if sales fell below a certain threshold within a certain amount of time that I could ask for my rights back–this clause varies, depending on the contract, and sometimes they’re so convoluted that you won’t get your rights back unless the publisher actually goes out of business). I republished the book myself, along with a sequel–which the publisher wasn’t interested in, because my sales numbers weren’t high enough–and sold more copies of book one in three months than my old publisher had in three years. I had the same cover (different title font, but same art. which I licensed from the artist), and all I did was lower the price on the ebook and change the categories.

 

Traditional publishers can also get in the way of you publishing other books. Book contracts will have option clauses, meaning the publisher gets to look at the next book you write. This clause can be more specific, limiting it to a similar genre or even a book that only has the exact same elements, so that you don’t get screwed by it. But a lot of them are pretty open (my first one was–it was just any book in the YA or MG genres, which is everything I write). This means that when you write another book–or even just a proposal (sample chapters and a synopsis), the publisher gets an exclusive look at it. The contract will specify how many days they get an exclusive for (45, usually, or maybe 60), and then they’ll either make an offer or not, and you can either take the offer or try elsewhere. The real problem–and the one that nobody ever tells you ahead of time–is that publishers won’t actually look at anything else you’ve written until they’re finished with your first book. This might mean after edits are done, or it might mean after the book is actually published. This means that if you want to sell another book (or, you know, need to, because you have bills and stuff), you’ll probably have to write something in another genre (assuming your option clause allows for that). The publisher will also get first look at any sequels, which makes sense, but this can also tie things up for a long time. I’ve had publishers take months or in one case a year just to tell me that they weren’t going to publish a sequel. In both cases, I was then free to self-publish sequels myself, but sometimes authors end up with contracts that give the publisher complete control over their world and characters, meaning there’s nothing they can do. Which is a really crap situation to be in.

 

With self-publishing, you can publish on your own schedule. Meaning, if you write fast, you can publish fast, and the more releases you have, the more money you can make. Getting books out can take months instead of years (or for some people, weeks). You can write in whatever genres you want. You can write to any length–a thousand pages, a hundred pages, whatever. And the royalty rate for self-publishing ebooks is currently 70% (if your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99, which is why a lot of short books still cost $2.99, because anything outside that range jumps down to 35%). With traditional publishing, ebook royalty rates are going to be way lower–ballpark range, maybe 20% – 35%, depending on your contract. Royalty rates for paper books are usually more like 10%. Whether you self-publish or not, most of your sales will be ebooks, and most of them will be through Amazon.

 

The only catch with self-publishing is that you need to provide cover art. Some people can make their own and do a good job (some people make their own and do not do a good job), but most people will need to pay an artist. You don’t want to skimp on cover art, because your cover is one of your most important sales tools (along with pricing, book description, and categories), but depending on what you need, you can usually get a good custom cover for a few hundred dollars. Sometimes less. (And by custom cover, I mean photo-manipulation covers, since custom illustration covers can get crazy expensive.) There are tons of pre-made covers out there in the $50 – $200 range. They vary in quality, but some are really good. (And you can always change the cover later.) And technically, you can publish a book with, like, just a flat color with some text on it. (I’m not recommending that, but my point is you don’t have to let anything stop you.)

 

There are other costs you can spend money on, like hiring an editor or a formatter, but those are things you can do yourself. Formatting an ebook takes two seconds. Formatting a print book takes a bit longer, and there’s more learning involved, but it’s still very doable. And also not nearly as important as having an ebook version up for sale.

 

As for categories, Amazon lets you pick three, but you can also assign keywords to your book, and those will also influence what categories it ends up in. I believe you can also just email them and say, “Hey, can you put my book in X category?” and they will, but I haven’t tried that. You want to research categories that would fit your book, looking specifically at what the ranking is for the top books in that category. How high does the ranking have to be to get on the first page of that category’s bestseller list? How high to get to the top? Ideally, you want to stagger your categories so that at least one needs a much lower ranking to get to the top listing, and at least one where it’s more difficult to reach the top (possibly way more difficult–some of them are tough!). The reason is because Amazon’s algorithms will promote a book that’s at the top of a category, no matter what category it is. This will in turn boost sales, which will boost its ranking, which will bring it higher in the more competitive categories, which will boost sales, etc. (A traditional publisher is never going to do this for you, especially since it takes some upkeep and the ability/willingness to make changes).

How many reviews you have–especially positive reviews, meaning four and five stars–also influences how the algorithms promote your book. One thing that The Rise of Renegade X had going for it when I republished it is it counted as a new release, since it had a new publisher, but it kept the reviews it had accumulated from its original publication. Meaning that the algorithms saw it as a “new book” that had a bunch of positive reviews from day one. That’s just my speculation, though, so take it with a grain of salt. Book 2 also did pretty well, and it didn’t start with any advantages, other than being the next book in the series. It also helped that I ended up releasing them at almost the same time, meaning they both ended up in Amazon’s Hot New Releases, and readers who enjoyed book 1 could just pick up book 2 and keep reading.

The Still Behind on Everything Post

I was looking at some earlier posts, and apparently back in September I thought I was going to write ALL THE BOOKS this winter. I mean, I knew that was unrealistic, so I said I’d probably not have the next Renegade X book done until the end of this year. But what actually happened was I felt super burnt out on writing novels, after working crazy hard to get Phobia and Torment done, so I just didn’t.

Actually, I wrote a radio play. I knew audiobooks were a thing, but I only discovered audio dramas about a year and a half ago (thank you, Home Front), and it turns out I freaking love audio dramas.

I’m also working on a visual novel (it’s like Choose Your Own Adventure, but with pictures, if you’ve never played one). It’s pretty hilarious, if I do say so myself. (Which I do. Obviously.)

And another Dragonbound book and the next Renegade X book are in the works, plus something new I’ve been playing with.

I always thought I’d be the kind of author who could just do whatever was needed at any given time, but it turns out I’m not. Not being able to wrangle myself makes me feel like a bad writer, so I try not to think about it, because it’s not how I pictured myself when I dreamed of doing this as a career. But creativity is often hard to wrangle! (And adding health issues and energy problems into the mix just complicates things.) And the more I think about it, the more I think it probably doesn’t mean anything bad about my abilities as a writer. But it does mean that I don’t always work on the intended projects at the intended times, despite the fact that it feels like every other writer in the world is getting everything done when they say they will no matter what. (Even though I know they’re not. Well, maybe some of them are, but not all of them. Probably.)

So, yes, delays all around. Including a delay on the next audiobook, which I thought would also be out by now, though that one is for a completely different reason. Everyone involved is ready to go, but I have to wait for contracts (read: payment) from another project (one that will make Renegade X fans very happy, though I can’t reveal it yet), and I really thought they’d be done months ago, but they’re taking forever. But once all that gets sorted out, production will begin on the audiobook for book three. And once production begins, it really shouldn’t take very long for everything to get done and for it to come out.

I’ve also got some writing- and publishing-related posts coming up soon, too. People sometimes email me vague writing or publishing questions, and then I write them back with overwhelming emails containing everything I know on the subject. So I thought I’d comb through my emails and actually make some posts.