Category: Publishing

New Release: Demon in My Dorm Room!

If you’ve been following along in the newsletter, you’ll have heard me talking about this for the past few months, but if you’re just tuning in now… I wrote a new book! It’s the start of a new series about a witch who gets more than she bargained for when she summons a demon to be her date for the dance, and I am super in love with it!

It’s easy to get caught up in feeling like there are certain ways books are “supposed” to go, or at least it is for me. And I don’t mean “supposed to” as in actually be satisfying stories, but more like… having physical action and bad guys and stuff I don’t really care about writing. Because what I like to write is slice-of-life stuff with some magic elements thrown in. (Which should surprise literally no one who’s ever read anything I’ve written, lol.) So that’s what I did with this book. Well, with these books, because I’m a good chunk of the way through book 2 already.

And it turns out that not forcing in stuff you’re not really excited about makes a huge difference. And maybe reading this book won’t feel any different to you guys, because if you’re here for my characters and my sense of humor, then that’s what you’ll be getting, but to me, writing only the parts I liked and leaving out the parts I didn’t was game changing. That’s not to say I don’t love my other books, but I feel like the parts I love writing–character interactions and interpersonal drama, plus a bunch of embarrassing moments–sometimes get eclipsed by the parts I don’t love writing–action, bad guys, etc.–because I felt like that was how they were “supposed” to go. But it turns out they don’t have to go that way at all, and I’m a lot happier only doing the stuff I like instead of the stuff I don’t. Who knew?

Anyway, Demon in My Dorm Room is available now on Kindle and in Kindle Unlimited. Scroll down to see the gorgeous cover and to read the blurb:

I just wanted a date for the dance and now I have to live with a demon??!

I’m Isabel Green, and I didn’t mean to summon a demon. Well, okay, I did, but only because I was desperate for a date to the Brixton Academy Annual Fall Ball. (It’s a long story.) But I didn’t expect to get stuck with him. Worse, the summoning spell won’t let us get very far apart from each other, so now he’s living in my dorm, where I’m definitely not supposed to have boys over. Especially ones who are secretly demons. And not so secretly jerks. Okay, that part’s not actually prohibited by school rules, but it probably should be. I mean, why couldn’t I get stuck with a nice demon instead of one who constantly gets on my nerves?!

Now he’s going to all my classes with me, he’s seen all my deep dark secrets (well, a shrine to my ex, but whatever), and if I can’t find a way to unsummon him, like, pronto, he’s going to completely ruin my life. Oh, and on top of all that, my magic’s getting even wonkier than it already was. Except when I’m casting forbidden black magic, and then it works a little too well. So, that’s a thing. And if I can’t figure out why this is happening to me, or why my parents are keeping secrets about our ancestry—thanks for that, guys—well, let’s just say that having a snarky demon on my hands is going to be the least of my worries.

Read now on Kindle or in KU.

The Rivalry of Renegade X is finally upon us!

BOOK 5 IS OUT!!!! (Can you believe this is seriously book 5? It only took, er, 12 and a half years to get here…) This book was a lot of fun to write, and I’m glad I get to do ridiculous things like tell stories about annoying, interdimensional do-gooding twins, lol.

To celebrate, the whole series is on sale right now, including Rivalry. And the novellas are free. The sale will last until February 3rd, but the novellas will only be free for a few days, so grab them while you can.

A tale of two Damiens.

After ruining the annual Tines family barbecue by retaliating against one of his stuck-up superhero cousins—who totally deserved it, no matter what anyone says—Damien just wants an easy summer. One that involves him and his friends hanging out and going on the occasional superhero mission. He doesn’t need his “good twin” from another dimension where he was raised by Gordon showing up and making a mess of everything, and he sure as hell doesn’t need him living at his house, doing chores without being asked, and generally being the perfect superhero son his family’s always wanted.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, his good twin refuses to lie low. He’s obsessed with doing good deeds and even volunteers to be his dad’s sidekick on his lame kids show. Damien soon has his hands full just trying to stop this guy from making him look like one of the stereotypical douchey heroes he’s always hated. And when his good twin starts to win over all his friends, it’s the last straw. Damien knows there’s only room for one of him in Golden City, and he’s more than ready to get rid of this guy.

But when Damien’s attempts to send him back home backfire and an “evil” version of his half brother Xavier shows up—as if Xavier could get any worse—the two Damiens will have to find a way to work together despite their differences. That is, if they want to thwart Xavier’s evil plans and stop him from erasing everyone they care about from existence.

Coming Next Week… The Rivalry of Renegade X!

Release Date: January 20th, 2020

A tale of two Damiens.

After ruining the annual Tines family barbecue by retaliating against one of his stuck-up superhero cousins—who totally deserved it, no matter what anyone says—Damien just wants an easy summer. One that involves him and his friends hanging out and going on the occasional superhero mission. He doesn’t need his “good twin” from another dimension where he was raised by Gordon showing up and making a mess of everything, and he sure as hell doesn’t need him living at his house, doing chores without being asked, and generally being the perfect superhero son his family’s always wanted.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, his good twin refuses to lie low. He’s obsessed with doing good deeds and even volunteers to be his dad’s sidekick on his lame kids show. Damien soon has his hands full just trying to stop this guy from making him look like one of the stereotypical douchey heroes he’s always hated. And when his good twin starts to win over all his friends, it’s the last straw. Damien knows there’s only room for one of him in Golden City, and he’s more than ready to get rid of this guy.

But when Damien’s attempts to send him back home backfire and an “evil” version of his half brother Xavier shows up—as if Xavier could get any worse—the two Damiens will have to find a way to work together despite their differences. That is, if they want to thwart Xavier’s evil plans and stop him from erasing everyone they care about from existence.

On Sale Now – The Persistence of Renegade X!

The latest installment in the Renegade X series, The Persistence of Renegade X, is here! Grab all three novellas for only .99 cents each for a limited time!

This novella takes place between books 4 and 5.

Watching Damien’s two favorite siblings for the night—and stealing his sister Amelia’s title of “best babysitter”—should be easy. It shouldn’t involve his mom calling and begging him to watch his awful half brother. And it shouldn’t involve having to go rescue his two best friends from a superhero mission gone wrong. And it definitely shouldn’t involve getting stranded in downtown Golden City with all the kids he’s supposed to be watching. Especially not when the night’s almost over, and it’s a race against the clock if he wants to get everyone home before his parents and, more importantly, Amelia find out anything ever went wrong.

Available now in ebook and paperback!

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.

 

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.

 

Dragonbound 2 Has a Title and Other Announcements

First off, paperback and hardcover copies of The Phobia of Renegade X are now available!

And if you missed it, The Torment of Renegade X is also available in paperback.

Now, onto upcoming book announcements:

Book 2 in the Dragonbound series is called Honorbound. (You can add it on Goodreads here.) It’s not done yet, but I’m aiming for a late 2017/early 2018 release. Watch here for pre-order info or sign up for the newsletter (top of the left column on my website) to be notified when it goes up.

Virginia St. George thinks she’s finally found where she belongs. She’s been living with Amelrik and the other dragons of Hawthorne clan for the last few months, learning their language and traditions, and has become a useful part of the community. Or so she thinks.

 

But when Amelrik’s father announces that he’s arranged a marriage for him, and it turns out the general populace sees her as nothing more than a human leech taking advantage of their prince, Virginia realizes she wasn’t fitting in as much as she thought, and her place at Hawthorne clan is more tenuous than ever.

 

If she wants to keep the love of her life and the only place that’s ever really felt like home, Virginia will have to thwart an arranged marriage, stop a war, and prove that she’s just as worthy as the next dragon. Er, human. And she’ll have to do it fast, before time runs out and she’s forced to leave the dragon world forever.

There will also be a book 5 in the Renegade X series. It’s called The Rivalry of Renegade X. (You can add it on Goodreads, too.) While I don’t have a blurb for it yet, I can tell you that Damien’s “good twin” from another dimension shows up and makes Damien’s life more difficult. >:) I’m hoping to have this out sometime next year (probably late next year), but it’s way too early to say.

 

 

The Phobia of Renegade X is Now Available!

It’s out! The Phobia of Renegade X is finally here! It’s currently available in ebook format, with paperback and hardcover coming soon (like, hopefully within the next week), and audiobook coming… eventually (but realistically probably sometime next year–I’ll keep you posted). This book has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited to finally get to share it with you guys.

And if you missed the news, I had to change cover artists for this one, but I LOVE how it turned out!

 

 photo Renegade4 - small_zpsrugpzlil.jpg

 

Damien’s always been afraid of heights, but he’s never been afraid of fieldwork or of being in the spotlight. At least, he wasn’t before the gala—the one where his grandpa nearly caused a massacre and heroes from the League almost killed his best friend. Now he finds himself dreading the very things he used to love, and all he wants is to skate by in school, avoid fieldwork, and keep a low profile.

But avoiding his fears isn’t as easy as he hopes, especially when the school decides to send him and his best friend to hunt down a dangerous criminal. And as if that isn’t bad enough, it turns out he also has to pass a flying test if he wants to make it through the school year, even though his debilitating fear of heights means it’s pretty much impossible.

In order to pass the test and catch a criminal, Damien accepts help from unlikely allies. But when his mission goes south and he accidentally lets a terrible weapon fall into the wrong hands, he’ll have to overcome his doubts and save his friends from a psychotic killer bent on using his worst fears against him.

Torment Paperback and Some Cover/Release Date News

For those of you who have been waiting, The Torment of Renegade X is now out in paperback! (It’s been up for a few days, but they haven’t merged the listing yet with the ebook, so I didn’t notice. Oops.)

And I have some good news and some bad news about the cover for book 4.  The bad news is, Raul Allen is no longer going to be able to do the covers for the series, which is unfortunate, since I know many of us loved his covers and were looking forward to the new one. But the good news is that I have an amazing new cover artist lined up, and since I’m switching to photomanipulation covers (instead of the current covers, which are illustrated), this means it will also be done much sooner, and everyone can look forward to reading Phobia in mid August. Maybe even more like early August. (I so can’t wait for everyone to read this book. I love it so much, and it meant so much to me while I was working on it, and now you guys are finally going to be able to read it, too.)

I will eventually have all the covers redone to match the new style (eventually as in sometime this fall), and the new cover style will mean less delays and faster publication timelines in the future.