Steampunk Hands Around the World

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by Ray Dean

by Ray Dean

What do you like about steampunk?

What I like is the fact that many people like and even love steampunk and they don’t even know it. That would have been me a few years ago. I’d watched steampunk inspired movies and animation, totally digging the spiff and shine, the gadgetry and magic, and the mash up of genres, tropes and imagery to create something, well…unnameable. Except it does have a name. Steampunk.

Until three weeks ago I never thought for a second that I would do more than read a steampunk book or watch a movie. This will soon change.

Steampunk Hands Around the World is the brain child of the Airship Ambassador, Kevin Steil. I was invited to participate by group member, Suna Dasi, who had put out a call to attract a multicultural group of women to participate in this quirky, fun event. I am so very glad that I accepted. The Mission Statement reads as such:

Steampunk Hands Around the World is a month long event in February 2014 showing and sharing that steampunk and the community is global and as such, all steampunk everywhere are connected. There are new friendships to be found in every conversation and event. “Hands” is presented in multiple formats from blogs to videos to live events. Each person is responsible for organizing their own content and format, but the central theme is that of global connection and friendship.

While contributions to this event will be unique and varied, by an equally unique and varied group of artists and steampunk lovers, my part will be a short story tentatively titled The Golden Bird. In keeping with the theme of this event, it will of course, be a steampunk tale and it will be multicultural. I’ll be posting it right here on February 23rd. And, if all goes as planned, The Artist will provide a unique piece of art to go along with my story. I am both excited and nervous because this puts me on a deadline. *shudders*

So…I’m signing out now so I can get back to work on this story.

by Ray Dean

by Ray Dean

Why My Book is Free and Writing and Reviewing With Integrity

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AUW_ebook_1875x2500_72dpiAbout every 9-12 months I feel the need to rejuvenate my writing and my writing goals. I reached that breaking/building point about a month ago. I realized that while I’ve been writing, none of it was coherent, connected, or progressive with regarding to developing my craft or my career as an independent author. I made some promises to myself about what I wanted do. I said these things out loud, which I believe will press me to be accountable, and I’ve set deadlines, so that I will be accountable to myself.

I believe that deadlines are essential.

One of the things that I have decided to do is join the Story Cartel program, wherein I offer my book, An  Unproductive Woman, for free for a period of about three weeks. Each reader who reviews my book is automatically entered into a drawing for the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. StoryCartel will choose the three winners. I first heard about this relatively new program via a newsletter and then later in a podcast by K.M. Weiland (http://www.kmweiland.com/wp-content/podcast/storycartel.mp3). K.M. Weiland placed her new book in this program as part of her new book launch to drum up interest and fresh reviews.

Before making the decision to try out Story Cartel, my intention was to lower the price of AUW on Amazon, open it up on other outlets and then forget it existed. But, I started to think about my WIP and what I would need to accomplish to do a reasonably professional publication and launch. As cheap and easy as self-publishing is, some of these tasks will cost money. I am guesstimating I will spend about $600 to $1000 in the process. This will cover the cost of an editor and a cover artist and possibly someone to format my WIP for Kindle. (I formatted AUW for eBook myself but it wasn’t fun and I’d rather not do it again.)

My hope? That I will make a few dollars on my current novel and use those proceeds to fund my current WIP. I’m hoping that more reviews will make this happen for me. Hoping.

I’ve made AUW free on Amazon before via their KDP program, and I have given away many free copies as well. I have a nice number of reviews (totaling 45 prior to Story Cartel) but I was hoping that if I can manage to double those reviews I’ll light up within Amazon’s complicated system of algorithms and garner more attention and possibly more sales. Also I will have access to the email addresses of all of the people who have signed up to download, read and review my book. They can be added to my newsletter list for my next book launch. It is a win-win situation.

I think that most of us know why honest reviews are important, especially as a self-published author. Though our situation has improved over recent years, many readers still have the sneaking suspicion that our writing will be sub-par. In truth, it sometimes is.  But sometimes it is not. Sometimes our writing and our stories are phenomenal and just as good as any traditionally published author, which brings me to the topic of writing with integrity.

This morning I saw a call-out on Goodreads wherein one member  offered book reviews for five dollars each. She stated that all one has to do is send her a synopsis of the book and the five dollars in exchange for her review. While not surprised, I am ecstatic to see that everyone who responded to this call-out, called this person out for attempting to offer such a dishonest service. Kudos indie authors! Keep living and writing with integrity.

So, this is why my book is currently free. Please put the word out on my behalf. Tell anyone you believe might be interested in a good free book. Check me out at StoryCartel, http://storycartel.com/books/464/an-unproductive-woman/. Click the link and tweet about it or post it to your G+ or Facebook. This indie author would appreciate your support.

What do you think about paying for fake reviews?

Is there ever room for them?

Would you respect or read an author you knew had received fake reviews?

What do you think of authors who review their own books?

I would love to know what you think.

Old Endings, New Beginnings & Getting Down to Business

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Blank Pages In An Open NotebookFor about the past year I’ve been exclusive with Amazon’s KDP program. Initially I saw an upsurge in sales. Nothing huge, mind you, but a noticeable difference. Then I ran into some major hiccups. My ebook kept showing up for sale on other sights, making me not so exclusive, and KDP would kick me out of the program. I have my past with Smashwords and my very unfortunate past with Xlibris (horrific vanity publishing) to thank for that. Each time I managed to get my ebook removed from one market, I’d sign back up with KDP. Each time this happened, about four times in total, I found that I couldn’t recover and sales were even fewer.

I realized that I was probably going about things all the wrong way. Go figure, I’m new at this, and besides having little time, I’m lazy. I wanted to make selling my book as simple as possible. I also spent more time worrying about that book than I spent worrying about my current projects and about this site.

Along the way I also just got off track with my writing. I was losing my resolve and my hope. Then I came upon this fairly new and interesting podcast called Rocking Self Publishing hosted by Simon. I encourage you to listen to a few of the interviews. They are incredibly enlightening and educational. You will quickly learn just how generous other indie authors are as they share some incredible information about self publishing. A site that always helps set a fire beneath my creativity and give me indie author hope is that of Lindsay Buroker, author of The Emperor’s Edge series. Besides being a successful and prolific indie author she imparts some amazing advice over at her site.

So, I made the decision to make some changes. We are always changing aren’t we? It’s supposed to keep us on our toes, I guess, but to be honest, it tires me out.

  • I didn’t sign back up for the KDP program. What’s the point? Fewer venues means less visibility and fewer sales.
  • I’ve republished An Unproductive woman on Smashwords and as a result it will soon be available at many outlets. In this case, more is more.
  • I’ve come to the realization that I need to STOP avoiding outlining and give it an honest try. I’ve been pantsing myself into literary holes. I can’t seem to stay jazzed about a story or complete a story because I end up floating in space with no direction.
  • I’ve decided to start working with some internal deadlines. I need to complete one of the multiple projects I’ve started over the last year. Not having done so when I know that I am capable has dealt a blow to my writer’s self esteem.
  • I’m actively looking for reliable betas and reasonably priced editors. So if you have any suggestions please send them my way.
  • I’ve dusted of the picture I purchased over a year ago with the intent to use on a book cover. I’m using it as the background on my desktop to keep me motivated about this project that I wholly believe in.
  • I’m getting back to my old schedule, where I rise at 0400 to get some writing done.
  • I will take no prisoners or excuses.

See you at success.