Being a Better Writer: Having an Online Presence

Good afternoon, readers! Welcome back on to another installment of Being a Better Writer! We’ve got an interesting topic to discuss today, which will probably go by pretty quick (that’s okay, it’s a holiday) but before we do, it’s time for a little news. Emphasis on little, so you can read through it without getting too bogged down.

First up, Shadow of an Empire‘s print proof will be in my hands this week. Yes, you read that right. I am excited to be holding it at last. I don’t anticipate many issues between the proof and the final copy either, since Shadow of an Empire, unlike Axtara, has been out digitally for a few years already and seen a few cleanings already. With the paperback release it’s going to be checking it to make sure that the formatting is good and nothing unexpected happened. After which paperback sales can be approved!

Speaking of which, based on the poll I put up last week (Side note: the WordPress base poll tool isn’t very good, as I have to vote to see the results) has been overwhelmingly in favor of the option I wanted to go with: Expanded distribution. Which means that yes, Shadow of an Empire will be available to libraries, bookstores, and the like. However, since most of those places want their cut, it does mean the book is going to cost a bit more.

$21.99 in total, to be precise. Before some of you blanch, this is for a 600+ page trade-sized paperback (same size, in height, as Axtara). By comparison, the non-trade paperback for Dune (releasing because the movie is coming out) which is a smaller, cheaper to manufacture paperback, is 500 pages and sells for $17.99. The math does work out: This is just a big book.

Which amuses me personally, because a few friends who’ve heard about this have already dropped the comment of “But isn’t Shadow of an Empire one of your shorter books?” To which I have to say “Well, yes?” It’s more in the middle, really. But Colony and Jungle are certainly larger, plus Starforge

Anyway, that’s the update on Shadow of an Empire: The print proof will be in my hands this week, with paperback sales opening shortly thereafter.

One final question before we dive into today’s topic, though: Axtara does well as a paperback, but how would you readers feel about a hardcover release?

Right, I promised short news, so that’s it. Instead let us turn our minds to the act of writing. Well, sort of. Today’s topic is one of the rare BaBW topics that’s less on the “nuts-and-bolts” side of things and more on the side of authorial things that don’t quite involve sitting down at a keyboard to work out your latest story. That said however, today’s topic is incredibly valuable. Quite simply put, if you ignore today’s topic, you’re unlikely to ever see more than a few book sales without someone else doing it for you. It’s that critical.

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Shadow of an Empire: The Paperback Price Poll

Hello readers! I come to you today with news! And also, with a question.

The news, first. But those of you tempted to skip it, don’t. The question is tied deeply into it, and I would prefer feedback from you, the readers.

So the news: Shadow of an Empire is almost available in print. The proof has been ordered! That’s right. At long last, those of you who loved your sun-soaked journey across the desert Outlands of Indrim will be able to order a paperback copy to sit on your nightstand or coffee table!

Now, this is a chonky boy of a book. At the same trade size as Axtara – Banking and Finance, Shadow of an Empire has smaller text and is still twice as thick. It’s gonna be a hefty volume (and this isn’t even my longest work by far). But as you might expect, this comes with a catch.

See, the print cost is more than double what Axtara‘s is as a result. And when combined with expanded distribution that allows it to show up in bookstores, libraries, etc, that means that the price point for Shadow of an Empire‘s paperback is … significant.

How significant, you might ask? Well, for it to be available in bookstores, libraries, etc, the prices needs to be … $21.99.

Yeah. For a paperback. A good quality one, if Axtara‘s paperback quality is anything to go by, but … yeah, still high. Granted, it’s not too much higher than most similarly sized paperback books of similar quality. Dune is what, 500 pages and that’s retailing at $17.99 or so right now.

But here’s the thing. If I don’t allow for expanded distribution, IE, no libraries, bookstores, etc … then that cut doesn’t exist, and the price could be $15.99 … a full six dollars less.

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OP-ED: I Have a Confession to Make – I Can’t Stand Dragon-Rider Books

So the other day I was on Amazon, doing the usual bit of browsing, when I spotted one of those little advertisement bars that Amazon uses to get eyeballs on products by advertising things “like” what you’ve purchased or are interested in. To what should be no one’s surprise, Amazon has figured out that I like the book Axtara – Banking and Finance. Which isn’t exactly true, since I love that little book and its characters. Like isn’t a strong enough word.

Anyway, naturally I browsed this little recommended section because hey, I love Axtara, and Amazon thought these books were similar. It’s not always right, but I’m always down for a good dragon book, so I gave it a look. Even clicked on one that from the title, looked a little promising. Lots of reviews, high rating, all about dragons—

Oh wait. Scratch that. It wasn’t about dragons, but about dragon riders. That’s right, yet another book where dragons, intelligent or not, are reduced to glorified flying horses for a surely-not-just-like-every-other-fantasy-protagonist human.

To borrow from River City Ransom: BARF!!!

Look, I’ve always enjoyed dragons, ever since I was a kid. But I never enjoyed books about dragon riders (with one exception) because, well, honestly they never go past the trope. Again, with that one exception. The dragons are just mounts. Spiny, scaled, flying mounts that may or may not breathe fire. Worse, often they’re intelligent, as in fully sapient, but just fine living in a stable, being treated like a beast of burden, and generally only talking so that the protagonist has someone to talk to to reassure them that they’re “doing the right thing” or whatever.

Does it not bother anyone that a massive swath of dragon books involve treating a sentient being like a piece of property? If the dragon were human, we’d call it “slavery” and YA Twitter would descend with torches and pitchforks to burn that author’s career to the ground … even if the book were about how wrong it was and how the cast overcame it or fought against it.

But hey, if they’re not human, that makes it “okay” I guess. Sure, buy and sell the sapient species. They’re made to be mounts anyway! It’s what the universe intended!

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Being a Better Writer: Why Indie Isn’t Evil

Hello readers! I’m actually out of the office today, and this post was written in advance! So while you’re reading this, given the schedule I’m probably pressure-washing the underside of a 48-foot commercial fishing vessel.

Anyway, today’s post is another reader request. Understandably so, too, since the topic of Indie, or independent publishing, has been a hot one across the industry for the last few years. Last decade with some change, really. But the storm surrounding it has continued to swirl and continue to be hotly contested. Hence, why I often get questions about it, and even have talked about it before here on the site.

But this reader wanted it directly addressed as part of Being a Better Writer, not just in an opinion post or as a side piece on the site. So, today we’re going to talk all about independent publishing. More specifically, we’re going to talk about why it isn’t bad, which is what the reader specifically wanted to know.

So settle back, grab a snack, and hit the jump.

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OP-ED: Has Trad-Pub Just Become a Vanity Press?

So this question was posed and tossed around the other day in a writing chat after I came out with this week’s Being a Better Writer post (Working with Trad-Pub). Initially launched because someone had asked me if I was going to discuss Vanity Presses in conjunction with Trad-Pub, it later came back up because while the two are still different and separate, that barrier between the two has, from my perspective, shrunk quite a bit.

But before we get into this observation and musing, I do have one bit of news to share. The first draft of Starforge is now at 300,000 words, and about 66-70% of the way done. Step by step, day by day, the finale to the UNSEC Space Trilogy moves forward!

That’s all. Not saying anymore. So let’s talk about this odd question: Has Trad-Pub basically just become a form of Vanity Press? Well … yes? And also no. Vanity Press itself is on the way out, thankfully, due to the changing conditions of the publishing industry (independent authors helped, but print-on-demand is the real heavy hitter), but I’m getting ahead of myself. What is a Vanity Press, for those of you that don’t know?

Basically, back in the day, someone realized that of all those people submitting to the slush pile, there were a percentage of them with lots of money who didn’t have the inside connections that could have gotten them around the slush pile (this was in the days before agents or independent authors). So if they got their hands on a printing press, they could charge these people a large amount of money for their dream. They would provide no editing, no advertising, no marketing, nothing. And there wouldn’t be an advance. But they would deliver completed, printed copies of that “customer’s” book! And then that customer could tell people “Look, I’ve published a book!” which for many of them, was all they wanted to do.

And sure, they might promote the chance of fame and fortune, with a constant reminder that “Hey, that end is on you.” Might be just a little predatory, especially if they’re convincing people to take out loans to meet their printing costs, but that’s the cost of “business,” right?

Yeah, you can see where this is going, as well as why Vanity Press has such a negative stigma. People with a printing press taking folks money in exchange for printing copies of a book 100% as it was from the creator. Vanity Press didn’t provide editing, marketing, promotion, aid for the author (such as flying them to signings, or even setting those up) … none of it. Oh, and the person wanting the book published paid the publisher, not the other way around.

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Now Available in Paperback!

It’s here!

Dragons. Princesses. Banking. Now in dead-tree format!

Ladies and gentlemen, guests and readers of all species … The time has finally come. You can now order your own paperback copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance! That’s right, the day has finally arrived! Axtara is here in print-bound, dead tree form that you can order and hold for yourself in your own two hands! Or three, or four, or whatever appendages you may use for such a purpose.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that you can now purchase your own copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance in a lovely paperback edition to grace your bookshelf! Or display on your living room table. Or get signed by the author at a con (you know, once this whole Covid-19 thing is over). Or … well, whatever you want to do with it! It’s yours!

So where can you acquire this wonderful title? Simple! You can just click any of the numerous links to Axtara across the site (there’s one currently to your right, or just use the books tab) and then, once on Amazon, select the paperback option! Axtara is available in a wide array of countries too, so if you’re not in the US, don’t fret!

What if you don’t use Amazon? Well … you’re not actually out of luck. Axtara is available for expanded distribution. While I don’t know how long it takes for things to wend their way to the right place, this means that your local bookstore should be able to order a copy … or even your local library! Strapped for cash but still want to get your hands on a copy? Go make a request for it at your local library and share it with everyone who uses it!

So hit up a link, phone your bookstore or your local librarian, whatever you need to do. But then sit back, wait for that package to arrive … and curl up with a tale of dragons, princesses, and most of all, banking and finance.

Enjoy, everyone. Enjoy!

NEWS! Both the Axtara Paperback and Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021 are Almost Here!

Hey readers! Max here with a quick news update for all of you! One that’s about to deliver some truth to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Are you ready? Here you go!

Eh? Eh? Take a look at that! That’s right, the print proof for Axtara – Banking and Finance has arrived! And it looks even better in person than it does in these blurry photos (I’m an author, not a photographer as you can plainly tell).

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve already spotted a few minor tweaks I’m going to make before letting it go live. The inner margin feels a little cramped, so I’m going to widen that up, and there’s a page near the back that’s on the wrong side of the paper. All easy fixes. I’ll be going through it this weekend, make the changes Monday and … well, yeah, unless I find a major problem, Monday paperback orders for Axtara – Banking and Finance will go live!

Something to look forward to, no? Now, in other important news … did you guys realize that Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021 is only three weeks away?

Yes, you read that correctly! It’s in February … and we’re almost done with January. Time flies, doesn’t it? But in case you were wondering, yes LTUE is still happening this year, and yes you can register for it now. However, this year it will be all online, in light of Covid-19. No travel. Just you and an internet connection.

Anyway, I’ll be posting more about LTUE 2021 as it nears. For now, I just wanted to alert you readers that it is coming, and quickly!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a paperback to read.

Final Axtara – Banking and Finance Preview! Preorder is Live!

I did say that there would likely be one more preview before Axtara – Banking and Finance launches on Tuesday, didn’t I? Well, here it is. One last sneak peak at the world of Axtara before copies start flying into readers’ hands on December 22nd! Axtara is currently up for preorder, and last night hit the Amazon top 50 in YA Fantasy for Women and Girls! You can jump right to the US Amazon page and secure your own copy by clicking the cover below (as well as keeping Axtara in that top spot) or you can search for it and find it in the Amazon Kindle store of your home country!

But until the 22nd arrives, the preview after the jump will hopefully be enough to tide you over.

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Preorder Now Available!

Well, that didn’t take long. At least, not from yesterday’s reveal of the cover. Ladies and gentlemen of all ages, Axtara – Banking and Finance is now available for preorder! Click the cover to go right to it!

Meet Axtara, a young dragon just leaving the nest in pursuit of her lifelong dream: To own and operate her own bank. Her destination? The edge of known civilization: Elnacier. The coastal kingdom is small, but brimming with natural resources and poised for an economic boom if the right conditions can be met.

If. Change is never easy, and Axtara is going to have her claws full founding Elnacier’s first bank as she runs up against skeptical townsfolk, stubborn ministers, suspicious business owners, and tradition itself.

Especially as she’s also about to be Elnacier’s first dragon …

This is the ebook edition. Print copy will come in January (working on it). If you’re stumbling across this for the first time, you can read excerpts from this book here and here.

So what are you waiting for? Grab it!

Axtara – Banking and Finance Special Preview #2

Hello again readers! As we move into this Christmas season, the release of Axtara – Banking and Finance draws ever closer! The ebook will, to my delight, be out before Christmas! I’ll have an official date and open pre-orders as soon as I have the final cover! Oh, and once again, we hope you laughed at the pre-sketch mockup if you found this via Twitter or Facebook and saw that MS Paint image (it’s been replaced, so if you missed it, tough)!

So, to help prepare you readers for this awesome day, here’s another preview of what’s coming, a companion to the first special look at Axtara from a week age. Save where that preview was an excerpt from Chapter 1 about Axtara leaving her home, this preview is from chapter 2 and finds our young dragoness arriving at her new home in the remote kingdom of Elnacier … the place where she’ll be opening her new bank.

Axtara – Banking and Finance will be releasing soon! In the meantime, hit the jump for your second look!

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