Saturday, January 25, 2014

Change up + Sky Island Publishing

Dig the change? Yay? Nay?
It's still a work in progress... I just wanted to make some logos. After all, Photoshop + video game soundtracks is one of my favorite pastimes.

Incorporated in that new background are five of the Seven Pinnacles of Creation - the Sky Islands, the Peak, the Suntree, the Forevergreen Forest and the Great Beast. I left out the First Sea and the Eternal Night... Partly because they'd be hard to sum up in 250x250 pixels. Also because it was 1am and I had to be at work at 8am this morning.

in case you're curious

I'd grown tired of the white text on black backdrop. It really does play hell on the eyes. A revamp of Silexare is in the works, too. It's even worse.

But also I have two new websites to design and build. On January 13th I secured a couple of URLs (which I'll mention once they're live). One will be for Sky Island Publishing, LLC (which, as of the 22nd is officially a thing! Aaaagh!!!!!!)
excuse the watermark, it seemed the thing to do

The other will be the Silexare Compendium (to replace what was here), housing details and artwork for the world of Silexare. Basically, since I have several stories in mind for Silexare, I'd like there to be a sort of central location or hub for knowledge, moderated by someone who truly knows. I'd call it an 'enrichment' if I didn't know the foul truth... and that is I need a compendium because I'm garbage at remembering what I've told you and what I haven't.

I think what excites me the most about all of this is that under my own supervision, I can release books and stories and details as soon as they're ready, not on some NY corporation's schedule... Not under their moderation "in case I'm about to release something embarrassing"... Not to "best saturate the market in a time of ripeness based on the trends of..."
Ok, I have no idea what I'm talking about.
But I want to release no less than one book a year.

The next time I write you I'm going to add some of the latest from Mr. Tracy E Flynn (who, in case you didn't know, is illustrating A Sawmill's Hope).

Until next time

Enough about me. What's got you excited these days? If you care to tell me I'd love to listen.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What Works? Online Marketing Symposium - Kickstarter

"Do you ever wonder why some books become bestsellers while others can barely be given away? Why some businesses succeed and others fail? How does a blog post or a YouTube video manage to go viral? Is it a matter of luck or is there some magic formula for success?"

This is a blog hop! Follow this link to where Ninja Alex introduces the event and scroll down a bit to find other bloggers participating!

I'm writing on the subject of Kickstarter because I just ran a successful project for my debut fantasy novel - A Sawmill's Hope. I'm fully aware that what works for one person won't necessarily work for another, so I'll simply tell you what worked for me. I'm not going into great detail on my video or the prizes I offered. Those decisions were made as a result of comparing about 20 similar projects and taking extensive notes.

What worked
Facebook - Before I launched the Kickstarter I went on Facebook and dug through my entire friends list. I found the individuals who I believed would care and I proposed to them - "If you click 'share' when the event goes live, I'll give you a free book."
Each message I wrote was personalized, even to individuals I hadn't spoken to in years. It was easy because I believed in the project and I wasn't asking them for money. Just a moment of their time.
Most agreed. And most shared. I sent people the link to share throughout the duration of the event, several people per day so as to keep Facebook saturated throughout the event. There were people from all over North America sharing the Kickstarter. And not only did they share, but their friends shared and so did their friends' friends. Some even pledged.

Blog - I spoke about the Kickstarter several times before the project and then again several times during. I was as open as I could be, sharing details on the event, the video, the illustrator and editor I planned to hire, the artwork, the prizes and, of course, my heart in the matter. Several blogging friends took the initiative and helped spread the word during the event. Several pledged as well.

**Before I go on, please know that I didn't grovel for pledges. I tried not to even come out and ask (although I kind of did toward the end). I wholeheartedly believed in the project and I believed if the right set of eyes were to fall upon it, magic would ensue. I stayed positive on my blog and on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else, despite the raging storm of doubt inside me.**

What maybe worked

Enrichment - By about 1/3 of the way through the project, it occurred to me that people were genuinely interested in reading my book. I was a bit surprised... I don't honestly know why. Maybe I'd just never felt that gratification. It was pretty amazing. So I decided to "Enrich the Kickstarter" by offering secrets of the world of Silexare or the development of the story to anyone who would make any pledge whatsoever.
At one point Arianne "Tex" Thompson used the phrase "Silexare Army" for those who'd already pledged. I adopted it wholeheartedly and occasionally addressed my pledgers as if we were the front line of a great raging battle. Good times.

**If you follow my steps, I urge you not to be surprised when people pledge. Plan for people to love your story. After all, you do. And if your heart is in it, I promise you'll find more than a couple kindred souls. You just need to push your project to as many people as you can.
Now, we can't all have Nicholas Spark amounts of kindred souls... But I'd be superbly surprised if your heart is so unique that no one else on earth can identify.
**

Holiday Season - I couldn't tell you what's the best time to launch a Kickstarter project for a fantasy fiction novel. But that I launched mine in the North American season of giving didn't seem to hurt.

Business Cards - I had these made for when I ran into someone face to face and had the opportunity to share the event. Were they worth the investment? Technically, yes. Will they be for you? That depends on where your social strengths lie.

What I'd do better
Longer span - My whole argument was that "I just need to get this in front of fellow fans of fantasy fiction and art!" And yet I launched my project with a run time of only 26 days. I did it because I was impatient as hell and yet I wanted the project over before it got too deep into the holiday season. I didn't want the project competing with anyone's family time.
Kickstarter stats will tell you that about 30 days run time is the sweet spot for success.
Mine pushed it really close. I hit the goal within 4 minutes of the deadline. Please know there was some hooting and hollering done in my house that night.

Local Bookstores, Newspapers, Radio stations - These are venues I attempted to contact during the event. By then it was a bit late, with the way things take time. I urge you to contact those sources before you even launch the event.

Stretch Goals - If you future Kickstarters take anything from this post, let it be this. Cut all unnecessary expenses! You may be like me, wandering around Kickstarter.com and thinking, "Wow, that project reached $1,000,000? For that stupid thing? That one hit 600% of their goal and they're making that piece of junk? I can easily get away with $4,900. It'll be a breeze!"
No. It won't. You're going to have to fight for every $5 pledge you get. Marketing a Kickstarter is a full time job. Money doesn't just rain down from the sky on you.
Cut those unnecessary expenses. Make them "stretch goals" - goals that come available once the initial amount has been met and there's still time on the clock. Because with Kickstarter, if you don't reach the funding goal, even if you're $5 short, you get nothing at all.

I hope I've offered something useful here. Please feel free to ask me anything I didn't cover.
Make sure to visit the rest of this blog hop!

See you guys.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gonna slip you a quick one...

...and hope no one ends up bearing child.

A map of the relevant part of Tiasa is included with some of the Kickstarter prizes. And obviously it's included in the book. Here's a quick video of the process of drawing said map.

Music credit goes to the guys and gals who composed the Suikoden Tierkreis soundtrack.

Voice credit goes to the one typing this now (Yay, a riddle!).

video

In the video I mention that (canonically) Brandal might be who drew this map... But if that were true, there'd be spoilers and a lot more detail. Berdes has no record of any cartographer exploring the Unwithering Woods. Plus, a lot of the details in the map are in an overview type of style... As if drawn by someone up high... maybe even on an island in the sky.

It's settled. The map came from Suvinor. Which is "lofty as a stork's arse," as Vodnik would explain.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG January 2014

IWSG, brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, occurs once a month and exists for writers to voice their insecurities and offer advice. The official website, www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com has been a priceless commodity in my studying and research of late. I encourage any one interested in writing to have a look!

**I'm sorry I haven't come to see you guys lately, I have the flu and am limited to my time on the computer. I'll get to your sites soon!**

 First of all, I have no reason to be insecure. I just finished a successful Kickstarter. And amongst the obvious results of having my book funded, there are indirect implications it has impressed upon me, including that I feel like nothing in the world can stand against me. 

I took that attitude with me to MagFest last week to help promote a video game that some friends produced independently (I've mentioned my secret life before). We had a booth alongside a dozen other indie developers at what has to be one of the biggest video game festivals in the world. And people were loving the game. It felt a lot like winning at life. Between you and me, we sold the crap out of that game. 

The game is called Default Dan. Here's a link to its webpage (where you can actually download it right now!)... But far more impressive is this link which leads to Youtube search results if you type in Default Dan. The first two videos on that page have a combined 5 million views! And the videos of random people uploading game footage goes on for pages and pages! (I'm about to add to those videos)

So, MagFest. I suck at taking pictures at events like this... I'm always just running around with my eyes wide. I did better at taking pics at Dragon Con. But at least I got some pictures. And all the games you see were free to play.

All made out of Legos! I want to do this!

Arcade games

Vendor booths

Modern-ish gaming consoles

Vintage gaming consoles (Including DOS machines with Oregon Trail!)

More arcade machines

Noah from Bit Brigade playing Mega Man 2 for a charity auction of some sort.

More arcade games
Now to mention my insecurity. I've just opened Pandora's box of opportunities for myself with this Kickstarter. If my current book goes live and sells even a little bit, I'll have money to set aside and fund the editing on the next... illustration too depending on how that goes for A Sawmill's Hope.
...
But do you know when the last time was I actually wrote? ... Me neither. I finished the final draft of A Sawmill's Hope late fall and began planning and prepping for the Kickstarter. I literally haven't written creatively since then. And it's a bit frightening. What if I've lost it? Yes, I could get off my arse and continue with the next book... But ... but... 

Ok, I guess there's no but.