Author Interview: Auston Habershaw

Today I’ve got something special for you: The First Official Author Interview conducted on This Tone of Voice! And the author I’ll be interviewing is none other than Auston Habershaw, a new and exciting voice in fantasy fiction. His first book, The Oldest Trick, is now available in e-book as well as paperback. It’s a story of revenge, morality, greed, guilt and good old fashioned sword and sorcery. I highly recommend it. Pick up a copy today!

A bit of full disclosure before we begin. I first met Auston back in 2001, when we were both employed by Sierra Entertainment as Quality Assurance play testers on a computer game called Empire Earth in development at a Cambridge developer called Stainless Steel Studios. We worked together for about eight months before being unceremoniously laid off. Auston took the hint and looked for greener pastures. It would take me another six or seven years to do the same.

Anyway, I always knew he was a funny and creative intellectual, but was surprised and pleased to discover years later, when through the magic of Facebook I was reunited with him, that he had become an accomplished writer. He’s been an inspiration to me and I hope he will be to all of you as well.

OK! Bring in the Interrogation Nazi!

 

"Now... What shall we talk about?"

“Now… What shall we talk about?”

 

Let’s start off by learning a bit about you and your professional life so far. What have you done and what are you doing now? A/S/L? Are you ready to party? Are you interested in meeting dudes who like meeting other dudes? Wait… Actually, I think I copy/pasted from the wrong questionnaire. Oh well, just go ahead and answer what “feels” right.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing “in earnest?”

In retrospect, I always wanted to be a writer, but it took me a while before I realized “writer” was the profession I was looking for. I’ve always loved telling stories, but it took me years before I figured out in what medium best to do that. I think it probably crystallized in high school at some point, though the exact moment would be hard to pin down.

As for when I started writing in earnest, that depends on the definition of “in earnest.” I wrote my first novel as my senior honors thesis at BC (it was awful, don’t worry), but I don’t think that counts. I don’t think it counts until you actively start submitting things for publication–until you start getting rejection slips, you’re still just a hobbyist. That happened after I got out of grad school around 2005. I had written a lot of stuff by then, but I really started working at the career end of things following that.

What did you study in school? Were there girls there? Did you talk to them? What was that like?

I went to Boston College undergrad and I got my MFA in Creative Writing in grad school.

If you’re looking to meet smart, creative women, an MFA program is probably the best possible place. I was already spoken for at the time, so I can’t claim any grand romantic encounters as a result of my grad school experience, but I’d highly recommend it as a girl-meeting environment. 😉 

 

A Portrait of the Author as a Middle Aged Man... AND a Middle Ages man. HAHA! See what I did there? That's comedy. Seriously, it is.

Above: The author actively withholding his dapper charms from swarms of smart, creative females.

 

Where has your writing taken you so far? What else have you published? What have you written that you’d most like to see published some day?

I’ve published about (counts on fingers) eight short stories or so in various markets and now a novel. The things I have written that I’d most like to see published are probably the half-dozen or so short stories I have on submission right now (fingers crossed). Barring that, I’m hoping I can convince my publisher to extend the Saga of the Redeemed for two more books, just so I can finish it off.

What are your favorite things to write about? Genres, character motivations, world building, etc.

I love character building and world building equally. My work specializes in character-focused stories borne out of complex alternate worlds (be they in the future or in a secondary world). Since I think where we come from is a pretty big slice of who we are, I think world-building and character relationships and motivations are tightly related things.

What’s your writing process like? Explain how you get some writing done during a typical day.

I write in two modes. Mode One (Default) is during the Fall and Spring Semesters (I’m a college professor) when I have scarcely any time. During this period I mostly do revision, write short fiction, and manage my submissions. In Mode Two (Summer), I get to write for most of my day. I go into my office at the university, lock the door, and write for six to seven hours (give or take, counting procrastination, banging my head against the wall, and random arguments on Facebook). I write an average of 3000-4000 words a day this way, sometimes more if things are really cooking, sometimes much less if it isn’t. I do that until the end of August, when Mode One takes over again (sadly). This summer, I wrote/revised a total of 168,000 words or so. Most of it, if not all of it, was utter garbage, but it was a good foundational series of drafts for a novel that I hope to polish up by this coming summer and have ready to sell.

What’s your chair situation? Explain to me your chair situation. I’m getting some great writing done on a Staples Turcotte Luxura High Back Managers Chair (Brown), but I know everyone is a little different when it comes to things like this.

I have a chair that leans back and has wheels. That is literally all I can tell you about it. (Looks) Oh, and it’s gray.

I will sit on anything to write, so long as it has a back. Writing on stools is for monks.

Who are your inspirations, past and present?

Growing up, the work of Robert Jordan inspired me a great deal, along with Frank Herbert, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson. Currently, my favorite authors are probably Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss, as they are two of the best the fantasy genre has to offer right now. Oh, and Chuck Wendig, if only for his fabulous writing advice he gives out on his blog.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors who want to go the traditional publishing route?

Patience. Iron-clad, glacial patience is essential. Everything in traditional publishing takes a long time. It’s probably worth it in the long run (probably–your mileage may vary), but there is no rushing the machine. While waiting, work on other stuff. Always be working on other stuff.

Let’s talk about The Oldest Trick. What was the first thing about it that inspired you to write the book? Was it the world? The characters? Something else?

The Oldest Trick came into being from two different directions. The character, Tyvian Reldamar, came into being independently on some level (I first started writing stories with him as a main character in high school). The world crystallized somewhat later than that, in the early 2000s. The world and the character fit into each other nicely, so here they are. As for the source of my inspiration, I wanted to write in a post-medieval fantasy world that wasn’t static, but rather was always changing socially, economically, and so on. The world reflects that–it is in the middle of a massive social upheaval as magical stuff (magecraft) is becoming more and more available to the lay population.

 

A good book, but don't expect the author to reveal how the oldest trick works. I think you have to pay extra for that.

A good book, but don’t expect the author to reveal how the oldest trick works. I think you have to pay extra for that.

 

How long did it take to get The Oldest Trick published, from concept to contract?

Hmmm…hard to say exactly, since the book sort of congealed gradually. I’d say from the moment I started writing the MS that would become this book to the time I got the deal, it was probably 5 years, with me working primarily during the summers. So, call it less than that if you count each year as 3 months. The publisher did sit on the MS for 18 months before giving me a yes or no, though, so that was a big chunk of time.

Tyvian Reldamar. What’s his deal anyway? What made you decide to work with such a prick for a main character? Seems like a challenge. Was it?

Tyvian? Oh no–he’s a joy to write. He’s always been the nasty little voice on my shoulder, so letting him come out and be a jerk is really more cathartic than anything else. Maybe that speaks ill of me–I don’t know–but I’ve always loved the antihero and the scoundrel and always been disappointed when they stopped being scoundrels just because. Tyvian is a villain, but he isn’t a monster. And he can get better, if somebody presents him with the right argument. That was the real challenging part, actually–how do you get a selfish prick to realize he’s been selfish? That takes some doing. It’s a learning process.

Hool. What a great character. She’s clearly the heavy brawler of the story, with few people being able to face her in a stand up fight, but she’s also intelligent and highly motivated. What made you want to create such a character? And why a Gnoll?

The gnoll part is easy–I love dogs, I was a professional dog walker all through grad school, and Hool is a humanized (and weaponized) talking dog. As for her personality, well a lot of that is just dog stuff and a lot of the rest of it is my wife, who actually played a character named Hool in an RPG I ran. She was very impatient but also really, really smart and it was a ton of fun. I’ve sought to reflect a lot of that in her personality.

Not to be critical, but Myreon and Arlan seem a little under-served in the story. Can we expect to see them get a little more room to grow in future Tyvian adventures?

Arlan? Who the heck is that? Artus, I assume you mean. I’m sorry if you think they are underserved (and I happen to disagree). That said, Artus in particular has a lot more planned for him. Myreon does, too, but she’s not in as much of book three as I wanted.

The story is, of course, about Tyvian primarily, and on Tyvian I tend to remain focused. I get frustrated with the tendency in epic fantasy to abandon the main character in favor of following the ins and outs of all the minor supporting cast. As long as I’m writing this series, Tyvian’s exploits and his transformation will be center stage. The other characters are important, of course, but they aren’t the main character.

(Interviewer’s Note: You probably won’t believe this, but I actually HAD it as Artus when I first wrote out the questions for Auston and then I second guessed myself, because it had been a couple of months since I finished the book. So, I googled Oldest Trick to make sure. Of course, the first link I clicked on was a review – Goodreads, I think – where the reviewer called that character “Arlan.” Let that be a lesson to you all! Stick to your guns… but only when you’re right, of course.)

Any hints about what’s in store next for Tyvian and his band of reluctant accomplices?

Well, Tyvian has made a lot of very powerful enemies by the end of the first book and the ring basically forces him away from his normal profession (namely scheming with pirates and smugglers to fence stolen magecraft to unsavory persons). Tyvian is going to experience a long fall from quality of living he’s used to. He isn’t going to be happy about it, either.

What’s it been like working with Harper Voyager Impulse? Is it true they require you to sacrifice kittens in their name during unholy rituals of ancient eldritch sorcery before they agree to publish your work? How many kittens so far?

My contract dictates I owe them a kitten a week, but I’ve been slacking a bit lately. That reminds me–where’s my kitten-sack? (rummages around office)

Working with HVI has been good. I’m very small potatoes over there, so I don’t exactly get everybody’s undivided attention, but it has been a good experience overall. I mean, drowning kittens is not exactly fun, but you get used to it, you know?

 

"Will I dream?"

“Will I dream?”

 

Have you done any independent marketing of The Oldest Trick or has Harper handled all of it? What marketing has been done by you and/or them?

Harper did a fair amount of publicity for the first book (The Iron Ring, which is the first half of The Oldest Trick), a little bit for the second part, but the third part I’ve been mostly on my own. Being associated with a major publisher is a boost all by itself, of course, so that has helped and I’ve probably sold a lot more than I would have had I gone indie. One thing I was told (I think by the great Kevin J Anderson) was “you are the very best advocate for your own work.” That doesn’t change when you’re working with a big publisher–you still need to press the flesh, ask for reviews, write guest blog posts, do interviews, etc. You can’t wait around for them to do it for you. I did that with the second book, and it was a bad idea.

When you’ve finished re-watching Conan the Barbarian, built a model of the Devil’s Tower out of mashed potatoes and walked naked around your backyard at midnight, what else do you do to stir the creative juices when they’ve run a bit dry?

I don’t do anything specific, exactly. I try to take inspiration from daily life–people I see on the train, a story somebody tells me about their boss, music I listen to. In terms of hobbies, I still run RPGs all the time and I have a pretty substantial Warhammer 40K habit, but those are less points of inspiration and more ways to unwind. I do lift some concepts I come up with for my RPGs and stick them in stories, but Gamemastering isn’t that far off from being an author, anyway, so I don’t think that’s unusual.

You just bumped up a level and you get an extra attribute point. Where’s it going? NOT SKILL POINT. I know you’re dumping that crap into Spot. Everyone does that. NO. Attribute point. Dex? I’m betting Dex.

Charisma. I don’t need to dodge a lot of falling rocks, but I *do* need to make friends in this industry, and a big pile of charisma would do me some good at those meet-and-greets where I stand by the wall and drink my Sprite like a chump.

How will people find you when they reach the astute conclusion that this mere taste of you is not enough?

Website: http://aahabershaw.com/
Blog: http://aahabershaw.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aahabershaw
Twitter: @AustonHab
Lnkedin: No thank you.
Pinterest: Nope
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Auston-Habershaw/e/B00O33E9NO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1443034859&sr=1-5
Smashwords: Whuzzat?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893097.Auston_Habershaw

Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SRYV25I/ref=s9_newr_gw_d63_g351_i5?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=1P8PQ3M0W7KPZ7SDRGS4&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2079475242&pf_rd_i=desktop
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-oldest-trick-auston-habershaw/1121123546?ean=9780062417220
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-oldest-trick-1
Harper Collins: http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062417220/the-oldest-trick
Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Auston_Habershaw_The_Oldest_Trick?id=Gx1rBgAAQBAJ

 

Well that’s all the time we have folks! Thank you to Auston Habershaw for stopping by and playing nice with my goofball questions. Thanks to all of you for reading. Before we go, here’s a bit more about The Oldest Trick. Seriously, check it out:

Compiled for the first time, The Oldest Trick comprises The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood in the Saga of the Redeemed.

Tyvian Reldamar has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.

Bad writing that I am to mad!

Have you ever been reading along in a book that you are thoroughly enjoying and suddenly, shortly after you have decided “yes, this author is one swell fella and/or gal and I approve of this book,” the writer does something that just ruins it for you? Do you feel like hurling the book across the room, only you can’t because that’s how you broke your last kindle? Well, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone! I’m here to help you cope with such disappointing events.

You see, there are some common mistakes and shortcuts many writers make in order to wrangle their stories into coherent narratives or to address the themes they swore they would discuss when they first sat down to put thoughts on paper. These things don’t necessarily make the author “bad.” No, I would argue that you could take any of your favorite authors and find one or two mild examples of each of these things in any of their books. Maybe you didn’t notice them and they never bothered you. That’s fine! Great, even! You should probably stop reading this post, because if that’s the case, I’m going to make you very unhappy.

 

"This better not be about me or you will be getting a crossbow bolt at a very inconvenient time."

“This better not be about me or you will be receiving a crossbow bolt at a very inconvenient time.”

 

Now, bear in mind, speaking as an author, these are not things we do on purpose (I hope) but in the course of an 80,000/100,000/120,000 word manuscript, we make little deals with ourselves while writing which perhaps we’re not always entirely aware. I could cite actual instances from real authors, but since I do not wish to start flame wars with my brothers and sisters, I’ll try to come up with abstract examples writ large for shock and guffaw effect. So, without further preamble, let me dive right in to the aforementioned offenses…

Ditching an inconvenient plot point: This is probably the most common offense I see among authors of every talent level. It’s not really a plot hole, or if it is, it’s not nearly big enough to leak too much suspension of disbelief out of the story before we get to the conclusion. Instead, this is something the author usually puts into the story early on in order to facilitate another plot point. Unfortunately, when the author gets the second plot point developed, that’s all he/she wants to talk about, leaving the earlier “proto-plot point” hanging out to dry.

Ridiculous example: A village is ruled over by a baron who happens to be a tyrannical despot. The only way the villagers can appease him is to perform their ceremonial dance nightly for his amusement. The dance attracts our hero and during his stay he becomes involved in a plot among the villagers to overthrow the baron. All fine and good, right? Certainly, except for the fact that the author quickly loses interest in the ceremonial dance and only talks about the overthrow. So, at points in the story when the villagers should be dancing, they’re meeting in secret to plan or they’re actively, you know, doing the whole revolt thing. The reader is left to wonder… didn’t the baron ever notice no one was dancing for him anymore?

Now, that’s an over-the-top example and I’ve never seen anything that obvious, but I think you get the idea. It’s forgivable (I was never that interested in the dancing anyway) but irritating, because now I strongly suspect the baron is an imbecile and therefore not a very interesting villain.

 

"Let's see, I've terrorized the defenseless, defiled the innocent... I just feel like I'm forgetting something..."

“Let’s see, I’ve terrorized the defenseless, defiled the innocent… I just feel like I’m forgetting something…”

 

The military mind is the only sane one in the world: This offense is committed by every military sci-fi/fantasy/fiction/history author I’ve ever read and it annoys the great googly-moogly out of me. Look, I understand the main plot revolves around how the army/navy/spacefleet heroes come together to save the country/alliance/planet. I get that what’s cool about military stuff is the sense of teamwork and valuing the unit over the individual. Additionally, I even understand that the plot needs to have tension beyond simply facing down the enemy threat. But, for the love of Ulysses S. Grant, does EVERY one of these books need to depict civilians as bungling nincompoops who, if they are not actively trying to undermine the military, are doing so by accident?

Ridiculous example: The earth is being threatened by an alien armada! The heads of the military forces, after chiding the silly civilian administration for not building enough ships/weapons/bases to defend the world magnanimously consent to take over war production and decide general strategy. When the war doesn’t go so well, those meddling administrators try to usurp authority back because they dare to question the war goals, but are too stupid to understand what needs to be done. Finally, when the war is almost over, the bumbling politicians gather enough popular support to force the wise and all-knowing military to spare the enemy’s last planet so that a foolish peace treaty can be signed, setting the stage for the next book… errr, war, I mean. Apparently, civilians are so dumb they would have destroyed the world a thousand times over if it weren’t for the benevolent and watchful patience of generations of gifted and blessed-from-on-high generals and admirals. For fuck’s sake, it’s like civilians are the Maggie Gyllenhaal to the military’s James Spader in The Secretary.

 

"You may have one scoop of creamed potatoes, FOUR PEAS... and as much ice cream as you'd like."

“You may have one scoop of creamed potatoes, FOUR PEAS… and as much ice cream as you’d like.”

 

Failing to disguise the author’s bigotry: Look, nobody is perfect. Everyone is a little racist. Everyone is a little sexist. What matters is that we at least try to put our prejudices aside and live well together. Usually, in literature, especially genre writing, you see authors intentionally poking fun at bigotry or trying to ignore it altogether. Sometimes, however, an author makes an effort to disguise his or her own feelings by having their characters loudly and repeatedly claim to value equality, tolerance and diversity, while at the same time writing the action of the plot to be exactly opposite that.

Ridiculous example: A character makes a statement about racial group X being mostly hard working, well behaved folks he didn’t mind at all sharing his neighborhood with. He says this a few times in both dialog and inner monologue. However, every instance where a member of racial group X is encountered in the book, they are acting badly. They pick fights, destroy property, steal things – you name it! So, the protagonist, after  heaving a heavy sigh of regret, proceeds to bash as many heads in racial group X as he can fit his large, industrious, hard working and loyal hands around. He laments to his friends about having to do this, because he really loves and respects their culture.

 

Honestly, it's just a story about Christian values...

Honestly, it’s just a story about Christian values…

 

Well, I’ve got a few more things that bother me, but I think I’ll save them for another rant at another time. I’m over a thousand words here and that’s about the length I want to keep these blog posts. I appreciate you hanging around and letting me decry and harangue. You’ve been great! It was fun for me. I hope it was fun for you.

And don’t miss out! Spy for a Troubled King is on sale for $0.99 this Wednesday, September 23rd until next Wednesday, September 30th. Check it out on Amazon,  Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Smashwords.

Don’t forget to tip your driver, everyone!

The Space Opera: A Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge

Time again for another piece of short fiction inspired by everyone’s favorite Wendig, Chuck. This week’s challenge is to write a 1,000 word space opera. I’ve never written a space opera before, but I’ve had some ideas kicking around in my head recently, so I thought this would be a great excuse to trot some of them out. I think I came closer to “military sci-fi” than true “space opera” but you can be the judge. Because that’s what I do – I offer up my best ideas and most clever writing and ask everyone to pass judgement on me. I must have missed that day in high school where they talked about setting appropriate career goals. You think it’s too late to schedule a make-up day?

 

——————————————————————————————————————–

 

Everyone says that it’s too hard to sleep on a Catapult-class Heavy Bomber. The berths are practically carved out of the hull and offer no protection from enemy fire. Additionally, because of the lack of bulkheads, the vibrations from the engines are more intense than anywhere else on the ship.

But for Staff Sergeant Jimmy “Cricket” Murphy, there’s no better place to catch some shut eye. He figures if he’s going to die on a mission, there are worse ways to go than while he’s sleeping in his bunk. This is only his second mission as port waist gunner aboard the B-117 Cat’s Paw, but he’s already determined that sack time is definitely his favorite part of flying. He slips out of his pressure suit and hangs it up near his bunk in the tiny closet of a room he shares with the top waist gunner, Mitch. While one sleeps, the other stays on station. Now, it’s Jimmy’s turn to rest, and on a 180 hour flight it pays to sleep as much as possible in the first sixty, because you’re sure as shit not going to during the middle sixty.

He slips into his bed and the vibration from the engines instantly soothes his cramped muscles. The reassuring hum of power coursing through the craft as it speeds toward its target lulls him into a stupor. He presses a button to open the blast shield covering the view port that stretches the length of his bunk and it slides away soundlessly to reveal an endless sea of stars beyond the reinforced plastiglass. As Jimmy closes his eyes, he can feel himself floating on a gently purring cloud of invisible energy…

 

 

 

 

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-UP!

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-UP!

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-UP!

Jimmy is awake and out of bed by the end of the first klaxon. By the time the third “weee-up” has finished, he’s in his pressure suit and zipping up as he exits the cabin.

“Mission hour sixty-two,” Mitch says just before he climbs the ladder to his battle station. “They’re late this time!”

Jimmy grunts in response and pulls open the nearby airlock and climbs into the port waist turret. He straps himself in and flips a few switches to activate his weapons console. Power hums through the PD-MKIV Quad Laser Point Defense battery resting in front of him. He pulls the controls up and into the locked position near his chest and pushes his helmet’s faceplate into the zoom module. His view instantly changes from the blurred panorama of stars he could see from the turret’s plastiglass shell to a crystal clear enhanced vision of the space outside. At the default 2X zoom, he would be able to see the nearest Catapult, but since the Cat’s Paw had the dubious honor of flying on the outside of the formation, all he saw was empty space. Double lucky for Jimmy was that they were on the port side of the squadron. If enemy fighters came at them from that direction, he’d get to greet them first.

“You in, Cricket?” Tommy, the starboard waist gunner, queried over the comm.

“Yep.”

“And you ready to Bitch Blast?” Tommy’s playful tone relaxed Jimmy’s adrenaline-fueled nerves. “Bitch Blasting” was Tommy’s euphemism for firing all four of the PD-MKIV’s laser cannons at once, a highly effective but dangerous technique. Tommy had given it the nickname after likening it to the seemingly simultaneous punches and kicks his wife gave him if he spent a night carousing.

“Clear comms,” Captain Shield’s voice broke in. “ECM jamming commencing… Here they come.”

Fighters and bombers could easily be shot to pieces by a capital ship’s targeting computer long before they ever got close, which was why all of them carried powerful ECM packages. As each side jammed each other what resulted was a confused, swirling knife fight in space, not unlike the air wars of the first half of the 20th century.

“Coming in two o’clock high heading five low!” Mitch’s voice calls out.

“Aw yeah! Bring ’em to me!” Tommy yells.

“Winged one! Passing on!”

“I got ’em…”

“Shit! Five o’clock high heading two low!” the top side tail gunner calls out. “Tommy, swing back around!”

“What? Wait-”

The ship rocks and Cricket is thrown around in his seat. His comm link shrieks in his ear and then gives a high pitched whine that lasts for a couple of seconds before cutting out.

“Damage report!” the Captain yells. “I’ve got a hull breach starboard side that just got locked down! What happened?”

“It’s Tommy, sir,” Mitch says slowly.

“What? Damn it, be clear! What happened?”

“Sorry, sir. Direct hit. Starboard side waist turret. Both turret and gunner believed to be… destroyed.”

“Confirmed, sir,” adds the voice of the belly tail gunner. “I can see from here the entire turret is gone. The airlock must’ve held, though.”

“Alright,” the Captain replies. “Commencing roll. More communication, people!”

The ship rolls on its axis to keep the now weakened starboard side from being a fixed target for enemy fighters. This makes the fighters tougher to track, but the loss of Tommy and the realization that they are now going to be singled out scares the crew sharp.

“Cricket!” Mitch soon calls out. “Twelve passing probable nine!”

“Got it!” Jimmy does a quick calculation in his head and then swings his turret over to point straight up at his twelve o’clock position. He catches a glint of sunlight off metal, zooms in to 8X magnification and begins firing his cannons in succession. The first few beams miss the enemy, but the third one scores a gash along one wing. Just before the bogey passes out of his tracking arc, he triggers all four cannons at once and the fighter explodes in a brief but satisfying fireball.

In his mind, Cricket hears Tommy whoop “You got Bitch Blasted!” He smiles. Better to have that in his head than the echoing whine of a fried comm link.

 

 

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed, (Issue #2)

In the last exciting issue of Notes from the Self-Pubbed, I had been disappointed in the results from my $0.99 promotion of Wayward Daughter, but had decided to soldier on and attempt a cross-platform $0.99 promotion for Dead Empire. Well, I did just that and was able to sign up not just two but three recommended book deal newsletters: EReader News Today, Fussy Librarian and Bargain Booksy(Free Booksy). I had used Free Booksy before, but had never tried their Bargain listing. The other two sites were completely new to me and only available for Dead Empire because it had received more than 10 reviews. Actually, EReader News says they don’t have a minimum review requirement, but since they had passed on Wayward Daughter and accepted Dead Empire, I am inclined to think otherwise.

Anyway, before I get to the results, about which I’m sure both of my readers are on pins and needles, (no, literally – I know you’re both part of a mental rehabilitation experiment for internet trolls, forced to read the most uninteresting blog on the internet while sitting on a chair whose seat is made of standing pins and needles… it’s just… well, I wanted to contribute to science in some way and… OK. Fine! It’s a paid trial and I volunteered my blog because I needed the money!) I wanted to point out something I had forgotten to mention last issue. I have actually done a few paid promotions before the ones I talked about previously. In fact, I’m pretty sure I ran them before I even had a blog. Mainly they were free giveaways and aimed simply at getting my books in front of as many eyeballs as possible. I talked about it in a somewhat dry (PINS!) and boring (NEEDLES!) fashion a little while ago. I just wanted to set the record straight that there was a Notes from the Self Pubbed issue before the first official one – HIGHLY collectible! Not worth much now, but when my audience reaches a critical mass and…

 

OK, Batman, OK. Sheesh! Like I'M the one who dwells too long on his own personal struggle. (Don't hit me)

OK, Batman, OK. Sheesh! Like I’m the one who dwells too long on his own personal struggle. (Don’t hit me)

 

So! To the Bat Stats!

I ran a week long $0.99 promotion for Spy for a Dead Empire from 8/19 to 8/26. The book was available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. It’s also supposedly distributed through Smashwords to sites like FlipKart and OverDrive among others, but I’ve seen little evidence and even less sales to prove it. Anyway, here are the promotion expenses:

Fussy Librarian newsletter ad space for 8/19 – $23

Bargain Booksy newsletter ad space for 8/20 – $40

EReader News Today newsletter ad space for 8/22 – $20

Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 8/19 – $5

Total marketing expense: $88

——————————————————————————————————————–

And lets take a look at those sales from 8/19 to 8/26 (PINS AND NEEDLES!!!):

Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 36 copies @ $0.99

Spy for a Troubled King sales: 2 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 3 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Dead Empire Nook sales: 5 copies @ $0.99

Total Sales: $61

… and perhaps a sale or two from Apple and Kobo, but they haven’t reported in yet, so I have no idea. Maybe a sale or two, maybe not. But, in total, not bad. Certainly better than the last effort, but let’s check with the Donald:

 

"I only read authors who can turn a profit."

“I only read authors who can turn a profit.”

 

Wow. Rough, but I guess I always knew the Donald would be a tough one to please. Anyway, let’s look at the sales breakdown by newsletter run date. In previous promotions I had tried to stack newsletter run dates on top of each other to try to game Amazon’s ranking system, but there’s some debate whether that’s still possible. In prior years, you could push yourself up Amazon’s sales ranking by having a bunch of people download your book on the same day and get an additional advertising boost from Amazon, but it’s unclear if that’s still the case.

8/19 (Fussy Librarian & Facebook) – 8 total units

8/20 (Bargain Booksy & Facebook) – 14 total units

8/21 (Nothing) – 1 unit

8/22 (EReader News Today) – 17 total units

8/23 (Nothing) – 2 total units

8/24 (Nothing) – 2 total units

8/25 (Nothing) – None

8/26 (Nothing) – 2 total units

Well, EReader News Today definitely showed a return on investment. That’s pretty cool! It’s a little unclear about Fussy Librarian, but I know next-day sales are real, so it’s probably close to a wash. Bargain Booksy seems like it was more expensive than it was worth.

So, overall I’m still disappointed, but not disheartened. I briefly considered ditching the $0.99 promotion thing and fleeing back to Kindle Unlimited, but I think I’ll do one more cross-platform run for Troubled King. It’s almost certain it’s going to lose money, since I likely won’t get a spot on EReader News Today with the six reviews I currently have, but I gotta run it anyway. It’s the last promo I had planned for this round! I gotta do it! I may be losing sales and borrows the more time I spend away from KU, but this is my personal quest we’re talking here. I gotta get the ring to Mordor. Que music: Don’t say – I didn’t tryyy…

 

Thank you, Emmi. Seriously, this song makes me weep with creepy-haunted-haunts. Yeah, that's a thing. you can look it up.

Thank you, Emi. Seriously, this song makes me weep with creepy-haunted-haunts. Yeah, that’s a thing. You can look it up.

 

So, I’m planning the next promo for late September. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll probably post some silly nonsense about tropes and shenanigans in popular pieces of film, TV and “print” in a jealousy-fueled, contempt-riddled attempt at comedy. Be sure to check back soon.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to tip your driver!