Book Spotlight – FACE OF GLASS by Damon L. Wakes

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Novel: Face of Glass

Author: Damon L. Wakes

Genre: Historical Fantasy

How I found this book: I participated in a Facebook giveaway event, where I offered to read and review a speculative fiction novel on my blog as a prize. Damon L. Wakes was the runner up.

Amazon book description:

Face of Glass

In ancient days when the island was new, the three elements–Mountain, Sun and Moon–came to threaten Man.

One by one, the hero SutaKe challenged these great figures, and with his cunning conquered them. The island now is ruled by Man alone, and SutaKe’s legend lives on through the ages.

But when a foreign merchant brings a new element–Steel–to the shores of the island, legends alone are not enough to resist it. A young slave, ParuMe, seizes the chance to claim an ancient power, and with it his freedom. However, this power comes at a terrible price: it threatens everything he had hoped to gain.

What’s not in the blurb: Well, it’s kinda in the blurb, but I thought this story was very unique as it mixes ancient times with magic. So many fantasy novels take place in what seems like the middle ages, and this is the first I’ve read that takes it further back in time.

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: I loved how the author created a world of characters with naming conventions to reflect their title. For Example: The character name ParuMe. The “Me” at the end refers to him being a slave. If the last letters were “Ke” we’d know his title was a King. I just felt this was clever. I also admired the author’s world building and the description he uses to describe his world. Not overly done, but just the right amount to take you into the past without slowing down the story’s pacing.

Who’d enjoy this book: Readers of historical fantasy.

My overall impression: Ever read a book and wonder how the author came up with all the stuff written on the pages? Well, this was one of those books for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually read historical fantasy, or perhaps it’s just because the author has a extra-imaginative mind. If you want to be carried away into the past with warriors and warlocks, this is the book for you.

About the author: Damon L. Wakes is an MA student at the University of Winchester, and writes just about anything that springs to mind. Though he does produce novels, he has had greater success with his short stories, a handful of which have made it into print. As well as promoting his own books, he hopes to share the work of others who are under-read, under-appreciated, or just plain awesome.

Where to find this novel:

Other books by Damon L. Wakes:

  • OCR is Not the Only Font
  • Osiris Likes This
  • Red Herring
  • Bionic Punchline
  • Robocopout
  • Ten Little Astronauts This is a crowdfunding project. For more info, check out this video. Pledging to support Ten Little Astronauts is more than just buying a book: it’s an opportunity to bring that book into the world. The novella is already written, but it needs your help to make it into print. Of course, there are also rewards for supporters, ranging from digital copies of the book all the way up to limited edition prints of the cover art. And as every pledge helps Ten Little Astronauts towards its goal, the names of all supporters will be included in every edition of the book.

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them. I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves a big KUDOS.

 

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Are Physical Books Obsolete?

are physical books obsolete_

Stop! Don’t hate me for asking that questions. Hear me out.

I’m a bit of a minimalist and read almost exclusively in ebook format. This year, while doing some spring cleaning, I donated a heap of physical books to charity. As I packed up some nearly out-of-date reference books, I shook my head at the amount of money sitting in that pile.

Don’t get me wrong—I love physical books. I love to hold them and admire their covers. I adore the feeling of cracking open the binding of a brand-new read, of the smell of old pages, and of seeing the deep creases in the bindings, showing me how many times I read each one. And if I wander into a library or bookstore, I could get lost inside for the entire day!

I began to think of a book I read as a teenager, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Those of you who haven’t read it, it’s about the firemen of the future. Their job is not to put out fires…but to start them, burning books. Will our future have any books to burn?

As I pondered this question, I turned to my newsletter readers and asked for their input. Their responses surprised me! Overwhelmingly, the answer was NO! THEY ARE NOT OUT OF DATE. Their passion for physical books overly evident in their responses. In fact, I felt I may have made some of them uncomfortable for even asking the question.

I had multiple responses telling me about their personal libraries with thousands of physical books. My favorite quote from one reader was that books are his “drug of choice.” Oh, so true!

Some of the other comments that I enjoyed were:

  • They’ll come back like vinyl records.
  • Physical books have become a treat, since we do so much on electronic devices.
  • Come Zombie Apocalypse and we’ll be happy for our library of books.

My readers gave me these reasons (pros and cons) of physical books vs ebooks. Check out what they had to say.

EBooks are our future! Physical Books are here to stay!
Space saving – the ability to carry around thousands of your favorites everywhere you go. It makes trip packing super easy. Need electricity – some readers have a short battery life.
Reading ease – the older we get, the bigger we need our fonts. Also, you can read in the dark. No stress – they won’t break at the beach or pool if they get wet or sand on them. Won’t shatter if dropped and not as many worries about being stolen. There’s also the sun-glare issue.
Convenient – easy to carry everywhere you go, especially if you’re reading on your phone. You never have to remember to bring it along. Pricing – the cost of a reading device.
Pricing – physical books have become so expensive…especially compared to many ebooks. Appealing to your senses – Tactile readers feel they’re getting more with a physical book? You can touch them…smell them.
Storage – physical books may mold if improperly stored. Reference/nonfiction books – Cookbooks and other reference books are easier to use in physical format.

 

Size – especially for epic fantasy readers, some of the books just hurt your hand if you read them too long. (From being heavy.) Some place can’t use electronic books. Jails. Sending books to needy places like some spots in Africa.

Reviewing the above chart, it looks like it was a tie, but even those ebook supporters were clear that physical books had a place.

So…with that said. What do you think? Are physical books disappearing?

Oh, did you want to know my thoughts?

I always look to the next generation. My children don’t have textbooks in school. Is that a sign of what our future holds? I think so. Sure, physical books will always have a place and readers who love them, but I believe our supply of them is shrinking, per capita. But this is just one gal’s opinion. The only way we’ll know is to wait it out.

 

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Camp NaNo – My First Sequel

July’s Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I’m excited to start my first sequel! I published Blood & Holy Water back in April, and since then, readers have been asking for a sequel…so…here we go! I have a tentative cover (since, for some reason, covers motivate me to write) and a working title.

bhw ff

Book 1 (Blood & Holy Water) was about an angel who needed a miracle to earn her wings…and it turns out her miracle involved a vampire with a secret to protect.

Book 2 (Feathers & Fur) will be about a recently fallen angel who can’t help but try to do good, but when his path’s cross with a werewolf mother that doesn’t want his help, he feels lost in this new world.

I have the whole thing outlined, and know the characters since they appeared in other stories. (The fallen angel was in Blood & Holy Water and the werewolf was in my story Bitten in my Quick Escape: Fantasy Tales freebie.)

Next, I need to come up with a series title.

So, who’s in Camp with me? What will you be working on?

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Free Books! (And How To Organize a Group Promo, Part 2)

First off, check out this promo I coordinated.

Need Something FUN to Read

With the September 12th release of my new novel, The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives, I needed to build up my mailing list with readers who’d be interested in that story. To do so, I wrote a short story hook, titled The Stellar Life of a Superhero Wife. Now, I had to get this story in front of the right readers…turns out I need more Chick-lit/Cozy Mystery readers on my mailing list. (As many of my subscribers are Science Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal Romance.)

Back in February, I had put together a promo and blogged about it HERE. Since then, I’ve learned so much. I wanted to write a simple step-by-step guide to anyone wanting to coordinate their own promos to gain newsletter subscribers. This is not perfect, but its all the wisdom I have, so far.

(Key principle: Participating authors send their newsletter subscribers and social media followers to a common landing page where many books are available for free. When these visitors download the book that interests them, they accept that they are subscribing to that author’s mailing list.)

Three to four weeks before the giveaway (Plan):

  • Pick a genre. I’ve heard there is so much more success using a specific genre to grow the exact readers you want.
  • Select your goal number of books. I like to stay around thirty. I’ve heard twenty is a good number, too. I’ve seen/participated in super, mega promos with a ton of authors…which is great for driving traffic, but find that the books with the spectacular covers, or best placement gain the most downloads.
  • Select your promotion length. Again, I don’t know what’s right. Many do just a weekend (this works great for 99 cent book promotions). Others do longer. I like to include two weeks (three weekends.) It also gives enough time that I can resend my newsletter to non-openers.
  • Select your platform. I’ve seen Instafreebie, Book Funnel, and MyBookCave all being used. Since I’m an Instafreebie subscriber, I’ve been using that route. MyBookCave is free though, and if you’re just getting started and/or am on a budget, this may be a great place to start. They also host the page, so you don’t need to do any website design/maintenance.
  • Design a graphic to represent the giveaway. I find recruitment is easiest if authors can visually imagine what the giveaway will be like, but this step probably isn’t needed.
  • Create a sign-up form for participating authors. I use google forms and it’s super easy! Make sure you capture the following: Author email address, link to their freebie, their agreement to share in their newsletters and on social media, and anything else you’ll need to coordinate. (I like putting book descriptions on my landing page, so I ask for this too.)
  • Begin to recruit your authors! I belong to a few Facebook groups and a simple post will create a lot of interest. Search for Facebook groups for Instafreebies, MyBookCave, BookFunnel, AuthorPromo, etc. If you need help on where to get started, let me know.

Two to three weeks before the giveaway (Coordinate):

  • If you have ten authors, email instafreebie (if that’s the platform you’re using) and ask to be featured in their newsletter. I haven’t heard that they’ve said no yet. In your email, tell them what genre you’re giveaway is promoting and how many authors you have so far.
  • Send your author team a welcome email with everything you know so far. I like to have a Headtalker campaign going to make it easy for the authors to post on social media.
  • Build your promo page! I host it on my blog. I have a special page titled “promo” (i.e. www.joynellschultz.com/PROMO that I host these on. I take down the old and put up the new when I’m doing a new promo. I start the page with the promo image…then a sentence or two…then a sign up for the visitors to receive notification of future promos…followed by each author’s book cover image. I don’t know if just the book covers or the book covers plus a quick blurb are better. Me, as a reader, prefer it when the blurb added, so that’s why I do it that way.  For WordPress, I need multiple books across the page, so I make columns. (I learned how to do this here) Then I simply go to the authors giveaway link and right click on the book cover and “copy image address” then paste this directly on my wordpress page. The cover automatically pulls over from wherever it’s hosted. I then change the link to be the individual authors giveaway page. I like to work on this page slowly as authors sign up. That way it’s not a chore.

A few days before the giveaway:

  • Send the authors a final email, asking them to check their links along with everything they need to know: Promo Dates, Landing Page Links, Promotion Requirements (i.e. they need to send it out in their newsletters, since this is key, and post on social media.) I like to write up some sample posts for twitter (maybe Facebook) to keep things easy. Send out promo images. Also, I just started a sign up for future promos to keep the recruitment part easy.

During the giveaway:

  • Sit back and relax. You’ve done everything already. You could touch base with your authors again, if you like.
  • Don’t forget to hold up your part of the deal. Send to your newsletter. Promote on social media.

After the giveaway:

  • Perhaps thank the participants. Invite them to future promos. Provide them with stats, if you have any.

This method can also be adapted for other types of promos. For instance: Need to gain some Facebook followers? You can coordinate a group of people and use a program like Rafflecopter or a Facebook hop. Want to grow some Kindle Unlimited Page Reads? Promote 99 cent books to new readers? You can do an almost identical setup as above.

Phew.

What questions do you have?

Posted in Marketing, My Writing Journey, Writing Tips & Resources | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

1000 True Fans – Extending Your Reach

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Happy June!

We’ve been at this 1000 True Fans project for over five months now. I’m changing the structure moving forward to one big project per month. (With only one post to go along with it.)

I’ve been measuring my fan growth by my mailing list growth, but not everyone is a fan of mailing lists. In fact, many people HATE email, but it’s clear in novel marketing that an email list is critical to sustainability and growth, but there are other ways to reach people…and different people than those who don’t mind being on a mailing list.

  • Facebook page likes
  • Twitter followers
  • Good Reads follows
  • Book Bub follows
  • Amazon Author follows

All these help diversify your message. Even if some of the people overlap, and appear on your newsletter as well, you’re just extending your reach. An important advertising principle: People need to hear something seven times before the act on it.

So…How do I grow my reach with the above?

With a similar method to mailing list growth. There’s no easy answer as it takes work.

Here’s some simple steps to grow the above.

  1. Ask people to like your social media/author pages. I have it on my blog, in my newsletter, email signature, and links on other social media as well. This does bring me some followers.
  2. Focus on consistency with posting on twitter (pre-scheduling some posts) and facebook too. (I’m up and down with this, but am adding pre-schedule posts to my monthly calendar.)
  3. Cross promote with other authors specifically for social media growth. Similar to how I’ve been using a free book giveaway and participating in multi-author giveaways to grow my newsletter, you can do similar things with follows. There are many authors out there looking to grow their reach as well. I found one to participate in for June, I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Here’s what it looks like that you can win $100 by participating. To find these authors, you need to watch Facebook author groups or coordinate your own. Another way is to guest post on other’s pages. Facebook parties/takeovers. Blog tours. Participating in a contest (using a service like Rafflecopter) is another option.
  4. Paid advertising. Using Facebook/Twitter Ads, Amazon giveaways, etc. I know that whenever I run a Facebook ad to promote a new release, a side effect is a whole bunch of page likes.

What ideas do you have? I’ll be trying these out during June and will report back on my progress in July.


For those of you following my newsletter subscriber growth, here’s how I’m doing so far:

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 3371 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 1000 people since last week! I did it by participating in a group giveaway where we all share the signups. I expect a high unsubscribe rate as they pass through my new subscriber email automation, but perhaps some will turn into true fans.)

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 If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

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Writing Tip: Dialogue Tag Overload

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I spend a lot of my time beta reading for other authors, and one thing that flags a new writer to me is their use of dialogue tags.

What is a dialogue tag? 

The most common one is the word “said.”

  • “I want to go to the park,” Timmy said.
  • Ariana said, “I can’t believe she wore that.”

But some writers are clever and vary the word “said” such as using words like… “added” “interjected” “asked” “yelled” “pleaded” “questioned” etc.

  • “I want to go to the park,” Timmy demanded.
  • Ariana sighed, “I can’t believe she wore that.”

This is great, here and there, but when you read pages of dialogue and every line has one of these tags, it slows down the pacing.

Dialogue tags do have a place. Using a fancy one, such as “yelled” definitely adds to the story, but here’s what would be better…

Show me how they say their words. Describe their actions and their feelings, rather than tell me with a dialogue tag.

  • “I want to go to the park!” Timmy stomped his foot and cross his arms. His eyebrows narrowed into a V above his nose.
  • Ariana glanced around the room, then leaned onto the table. She dropped her voice and rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe she wore that.”

Now, let’s return to that important concept called pacing. An entire conversation packed with descriptors as in the last examples would really slow down the reading. That’s where a nice combination of dialogue tags, description, and floating dialogue make a conversation between people flow.

Here’s an example from a short story I just wrote. Not perfect, but an example of using a dialogue tag (Devora asked) mixed with action descriptors and dialogue without any description at all:

Arriving home that night, Derek was already there. “Busy day?” Devora asked.

“Not at all. All the crime must be under control.” He sat on the couch in shorts and a t-shirt, watching some sports ball game.

She pulled her phone out. “Well, I had a busy day. I broke my phone.”

“Why’d you do that?”

She clenched her hands into fists. “I was trying to text you.”

“Was something wrong?”

“Just some type of drug crime going on.”

Derek turned away from the TV and arched an eyebrow at her. “And you didn’t let me know?”

“I told you I broke my phone.” She wiggled her phone’s shattered screen at him, then tossed it on the end table. “You can’t rely on me for everything! I have my own job to do. One that you seem to not take seriously, but I do a lot of good things too.”

When I write, I try to use the least amount of dialogue tags possible, and when I read something that’s littered with them, I find myself detached from the writing and distracted from the story. This is just another one of the many ways to shift your writing from telling the reader what’s going on to showing them.

**Of note: If you need to throw in a dialogue tag, I’ve read that you’re best to just use the old-fashioned “said” because it turns invisible to the reader–minimal slowing of the pace.

So next time you’re writing “said” or “interjected” take a look if it’s really needed to portray to your reader who’s speaking.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on dialogue tags, and when you read, what flags a story as coming from a new writer to you?

Posted in My Writing Journey, Writing Tips & Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Method to Book Marketing

Ever wonder where to devote your time (and resources) in marketing a book?

I’ve been asking that question this entire year as I plug away at my 1000 True Fans blog series. I stumbled upon a graph on how readers find books and ended up writing an article about it. You can find my article on Black Wolf Editorial’s Blog as a guest post. Check it out, it definitely opened my eyes to where I’ll be moving in the future.

Here was the pie graph from a 2011 Smashwords survey that made me question my marketing strategy.

survey

Again, head over to Black Wolf Publishing to check out the entire article.

Until next time,

–Joy

Posted in Marketing, My Writing Journey, Writing Tips & Resources | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments