What’s Next

So the Restless Spirits series won’t be happening. I don’t want to say it will never happen, because you never know what life will hold; but it’s not going to get written in the foreseeable future.

To those of you who backed my Kickstarter and did your part to enthusiastically spread the word, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m so sorry that those of you who wanted this book/series are such a tiny, tiny minority, and I know you’re probably as disappointed as I am. Let’s all raise a glass and pour one out for what could have been.

Moving on and looking ahead . . .

I’ve currently got two non-fiction books in the works. One, a comprehensive self-publishing guide, is about halfway written. The other, a spiritual memoir (I think), is still in the embryonic stage and figuring out exactly what it wants to be. For now, I’m going to focus on these two books, and get my fiction fix from writing short stories.

Once the self-publishing book is done, I’ll most likely pull Radium Town (my Weird Western set in my hometown of Claremore, OK at the dawn of statehood) out of mothballs and see about finishing that. A lot could change before I get to this point, but as of now I’m strongly considering trying to go the traditional publishing route with this one. But while that’s under submission, I’ll turn my focus to writing and producing the sequel to Dominion of the Damned.

All of this means that you’re probably not going to see any new self-published fiction from me for quite some time (the short stories I mentioned will also be submitted to more traditional markets; I’ll probably collect and publish the ones I can’t find homes for, but that will be quite a way down the road, too). I’ll be self-pubbing the self-pub guide (be kinda weird if I didn’t), but everything else on the list, until I get to Dominion 2, I plan to submit to publishers and/or agents before they see the light of day.

It’s not that I’m giving up on self-publishing, but my ultimate goal is to be a hybrid author, and that means I’ve got to give the other side a chance. And clearly, I’m at a point in my career where I need help, because I’m not doing such a bang-up job of finding my reader base on my own. Even a small indie press would be able to open doors for me that I’m just not capable of opening on my own.

At any rate, this list is going to keep me busy for at least the next two or three years, so I’d best hop to it. Onward and upward . . .

Kickstarter Update & Other Newsy Bits

Welp, guys, the Kickstarter is winding down, and barring a last-minute miracle, it doesn’t look like Ghost of a Chance, or any other sequels to Restless Spirits, is going to happen–at least not in the foreseeable future. I hate to throw in the towel early, but with four days left on the clock and only nine blessed backers, I think it’s time to get real and start thinking about what’s next. Of course, if you’d like to try and prove me wrong and make this book happen, it’s not too late to pledge.

In related news, the other day I did this interview with the blog Mameway Corner, wherein I talk a little about the Kickstarter and a lot about Restless Spirits, my process and other writerly things. And in case you missed it, a while back I did another interview for Scott Roche’s blog.

In completely UNrelated news, yesterday I finished the first draft of my short story project that I code-named Cellar Witch. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned that here but if you follow me on social media you’ve no doubt seen me mention working on it a time or two. Or fifty. It stands at a little under 10,000 words, which is just under the maximum word limit for the anthology I plan to submit it to for consideration, so it’s going to need some trimming.

So I’ll be working on that while I wait to see if that Kickstarter miracle happens. Next week, after the campaign ends and the dust settles, I post another update here about what happens next.

Kickstarter upate: one month down, one to go

It’s been a whole month since I kicked off my 60-day Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to write/test whether there’s an actual market for a sequel to Restless Spirits, which if all goes well will be the second book in an ongoing series. In that month I’ve given a lot of books away, done an interview, drove my social media followers crazy and more to spread the word and generate interest.

So how’s that working for me?

As of right now, I’ve got five backers who’ve pledged a combined total of $153. And I’d like to kiss each and every one of them.

There are 28 more days to go to reach my $5,000 funding goal. Needless to say, something totally amazing needs to happen within those 28 days to make that happen. Even if it doesn’t reach funding, I’ll still be willing to write the book — and the series — if enough people show up and pledge to convince me that there’s a viable audience for this series, albeit much more slowly than if the campaign were successfully funded.

Five people does not a viable audience make.

You can pledge as much or as little as you want–even $1. Incentives start at $5, which will get you a mention in the back of the book. For $8 you get a digital package which includes the book in all its electronic formats. Paperback packages, both signed and unsigned, are also available.

My threshold to write the book anyway is half of my funding goal or at least 200 backers. That might look like a lot, but really 200 people who want to read this book is a tiny book-buying audience. If I can’t get at least that many people excited enough about this series to even kick in a buck to show support, let alone actually pre-order a digital copy, then it’s pretty clear that writing this series will be a waste of time and precious brain-juice that could go toward writing stuff people might actually want to read.

If you want to read this book, you can’t leave it up to everyone else. You have to be part of this. You have to pitch in. If you can’t pledge, you can spread the word. You can link people to Restless Spirits, or to the mini-sequel Restless Spirits: Love Letter, both of which are free (and if they’d rather have epub versions they can find those links here and here), so they can decide for themselves whether they’d like to read a continuation. You can say a prayer. But you can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for it to happen.

We’ve still got 28 days, guys. We can do this!

Now Available! Restless Spirits: Love Letter

Restless Spirits: Love LetterRestless Spirits: Love Letter, the mini-sequel to Restless Spirits, officially launches today — and it’s FREE for the Kindle! Get it here!

Not sure? Here’s the description:

In this standalone novelette set one year following the events of Restless Spirits, sisters Ron and Chris Wilson find a new challenge when a tortured spirit suddenly appears in the house Ron is haunting alongside her ghostly paramour, Joe.

After paranormal investigator and medium Chris Wilson buys an antique desk for her new office in the renovated house she shares with Ron and Joe, Ron discovers the desk came with an unexpected bonus: a failed author who died of a heart attack in the middle of a nasty argument with his wife over that very desk.

With Chris’s help, can Ron and Joe help this tortured spirit make contact with his wife and find the peace he needs to move on to his final rest? Or will they be stuck sharing their home — and Ron’s writing space — for the foreseeable future?

Prefer Epub? It’s also currently free to download from these retailers:

Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Oyster
Inktera

…and international readers can also find it free on Tolino.

Happy reading!

The Kickstarter for GHOST OF A CHANCE is live!

And here it is:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1052559271/help-jean-turn-restless-spirits-into-a-series

Only one pledge so far, but that’s a start. But I need a lot more pledges than that to show me that enough people actually want to read this book to make it worth my while to write it. If it doesn’t get at least half-way funded, then that’ll be the end of any Restless Spirits series or sequel (and if it doesn’t get fully funded, then even if I do go ahead and write it, it won’t be coming out any time soon).

So if you want to read this book as much as I hope to be able to write it, head on over to Kickstarter, check out the incentives to see if there’s anything you want to pledge on, and most importantly, use those Sharing buttons to help me get the word out! You can also share this video or post a smaller widget on your blog, if you’re inclined to do so. In fact, if you do do that, post the link in the comments below and I’ll put your name in a hat to win a complimentary signed copy of this book if it gets successfully funded.

Let’s do this! Woo!

The Restless Spirits novelette is finished. And has a cover. And a title.

And here they are:

So now I need to edit it, send out the ARC to my mailing list and plan the launch. I’m toying with the idea of sending out the ARC unedited, but the last time I did that someone gave away their copy to somebody who left a review complaining about the errors–despite mentioning in the same review they knew it was an unedited ARC. So that’s making me a tad gun shy.

At any rate, I’m planning to launch the Kickstarter this weekend, but I’ll let it run for three months, so I don’t need to rush to get this out there before it’s presentable. I also need to plan my incentives, write up my campaign copy and shoot and edit a video for it. So it’s going to be a busy week.

Best get to it, then.

Heads Up: A New Story and a Kickstarter Coming At You in August

So I am writing a new story bit by bit. It’s a novelette-length short story (i.e., over 10K words) that fills the gap between Restless Spirits and the sort-of-in-progress sequel, Ghost of a Chance. It’s about halfway done and I’m hoping to have it finished and ready to go within the next couple of weeks (you can keep up with my daily word counts on Twitter, if you like that sort of thing).

Why am I writing this story? Because I’m planning to release it as a freebie to publicize the Kickstarter campaign I’m getting ready to have to pre-sell Ghost of a Chance in the hopes of raising enough money to write and produce that dang book already.

A week or two before I launch the novelette I will be giving away Advance Reader Copies exclusively to my mailing list, and those who are signed up will also be the first to know when the Kickstarter goes live and have the first crack at early-bird savings for the first (mumblemumblehaven’tdecidedthenumberyet) backers.

So if you want in on that action, you should click here to join my mailing list if you haven’t already. I promise you won’t hear from me that often; only when there’s important stuff like free stories and new releases and book sales (and that’s also usually the first place I look for beta readers).

The plan is to kick off the Kickstarter sometime in August and let it run through October (finishing just in time for NaNoWriMo). If I pre-sell enough copies to successfully fund the campaign, then I’ll be able to devote November (and probably December too) to writing Ghost of a Chance. If I don’t pre-sell enough copies but I get enough backers to encourage me that enough people want this sequel to make it worth the time and effort, I’ll still write it, albeit at a much slower pace, and then probably do another campaign when it’s closer to done to cover the production costs.

If the response to this initial campaign is paltry and sad, I’ll cry into my non-dairy frozen dessert, accept that a Restless Spirits series isn’t happening, and move on to something else. So those of you who really really want this sequel to happen should get ready to evangelize the heck out of this Kickstarter. I may even see about putting together a street team, once I figure out exactly what one of those is and what it would do. Again, if you want in on that action, you should join my mailing list.

And now I will leave you with a sneak peek at the new story:

***

To my surprise, when I appeared in Chris’s bedroom I found her bed empty. I found my sister in her living room instead, curled up on the sofa with a big mug of steaming coffee and her laptop. She was just taking a drink when I said, “You’re an early bird today.”

She spewed coffee all over her laptop and sloshed a good deal of what was in the mug on her robe and the sofa. “Ron!” she shouted, carefully setting the half-empty mug on the coffee table. “What the hell?”

“Sorry!” I said sheepishly before popping into the kitchen to grab a wad of paper towels. I popped back and held them out to her, and she swiped them out of my hand.

“What are you doing here?” she asked as she mopped up the mess.

“We have a situation.”

She paused in dabbing at the upholstery and looked up at me. “Is Joe okay?”

“That’s kind of relative,” I said. “I should get back to him pretty quick.”

“What’s wrong?”

“You have a new customer waiting for you back at the house.”

“Can this customer not read my office hours? They’re posted right on the front door.”

“This customer sort of bypassed the front door.”

Chris sighed as she picked up her mug and headed to the kitchen. “What are you talking about?”

“You know that desk that was delivered yesterday?”

She chucked the wet paper towels in the sink and went to top off her coffee. “Yeah. Why? Is there a problem with it?”

“It’s haunted. Does that count?”

“What? No it’s not. I would’ve picked up on that when I bought it.”

“Well, I guess not, because there’s a tweedy English ‘lit’rary author,’” I made air-quotes along with a poor mockery of Brandon’s accent, “who came as a gift with purchase. He’s back at the house treating Joe to a lecture on the superiority of lit fic over all other genres.”

“Oy,” she said, and took a big gulp of her coffee. I tried not to stare longingly. I never felt so jealous of the living as when I watched my sister consume food and drinks. “Wait. Tweedy English guy, you say? Is he about yea tall—” she held her hand about a foot above her head “—with glasses? Handsome in a Giles-y kind of way?”

“That’s the guy.”

“Huh. I thought he was an antique dealer.”

Indiegogo Campaign Results

My Indiegogo book pre-sale campaign wrapped up the other day, and for those following and learning from my marketing efforts, I thought I’d share the results, along with a few observations.

Because Indiegogo won’t let you set a goal lower than $500, that was my “official” goal; but my unofficial goal was only $250, and I beat that by $5. Sure, in my wildest dreams I hoped that it would take off and get over-funded and actually serve as a source of income this month, as well as covering additional promotional costs, but I didn’t really expect that to happen, and it didn’t. Still, it accomplished the primary thing that I set out to accomplish, which was to raise enough to cover the costs of finalizing the cover, so all in all I’m calling it a success.

It did offer a few surprises, though. Where I expected to sell a lot of e-books and thought I’d do well to sell one or two paperbacks, what actually happened was that I sold several of the signed paperback packages and only a few e-books. The majority of my funders were friends–no surprises there–but I did have a couple of strangers buy some copies. I will say that I had hoped for more participation from friends and family helping me spread the word by sharing the link with their networks, but, eh, people are busy, and writers, like prophets, are rarely appreciated in their hometown, so I didn’t really have high expectations in that regard. The ones who did pass on the link, though, have my heartfelt appreciation, and have moved to the top of my list of favorite people. Just kidding about that last part. Sort of. ;p

I think my biggest takeaway is that for this sort of campaign to be wildly successful, one needs to have an established fan base full of people who will not only spend their money on your work, but also evangelize it for you far and wide. I do not yet possess such a fan base. But I do, thankfully, have enough people who believe in my writing and are enthusiastic about it enough to support me in order to get a cover funded, and that’s a really good start.

So would I recommend doing an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign to a newbie indie author? It depends. If they’re looking for funding to write their book, then no. But if they have a small goal to match their small readership, I do think Indiegogo is an excellent way to take pre-orders in order to cover publishing costs. My main advice is to keep your goal small and your expectations low, and expect to do the main work of spreading the word yourself.

My other main takeaway is that I really need to find a way to get my work in front of more and different people, because I think pretty much everybody within the reach of my network has been told about it. To that end, I’ll be focusing the bulk of my marketing efforts from here on out on getting book bloggers and reviewers to review Dominion in the hopes of reaching new people. I know that there’s an audience out there for this book, and I believe it’s a sizable audience; despite the fact that there are people who are sick to death of vampires and zombies, there are also still plenty of folks who can’t get enough of either genre. Now I just have to get out there and find them.

Dominion of the Damned on IndieGoGo – Put a Cover On It!

IndieGoGo… IndieGoGo… IndieGo! Go! Go-oooh! (cue Japanese Speed Racer theme…)

So I’ve mentioned here previously that I was planning to do a Kickstarter campaign to generate the funds I need to finalize my book cover, and also just to learn about the process so I can help other authors get it figured out. But after doing more research, I decided instead to go with Kickstarter’s slightly less popular little sister, IndieGoGo, for two major reasons:

Reason the first: IndieGoGo has a flexible funding account which lets you keep whatever funds you’re pledged, regardless of whether you meet your goal; whereas with Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing — your project has to be fully-funded, else you don’t get any money, and those who contributed don’t get their perks. That’s fine and dandy for some projects, but for what I’m doing with this particular campaign — pre-selling copies of my book — I don’t want my readers to not be able to get their books early just because I couldn’t find $500’s worth of people willing to pre-order ($500 is the minimum funding goal that it will allow you to set). This way, anyone who orders gets their books, and I get paid regardless of how many people order early, and everybody’s happy. The fees on a flex-funding campaign are a bit higher if you don’t make your funding goal (9% as opposed to 4%), but that seems like a pretty small cost for a pretty big benefit.

Reason the second: IndieGoGo lets you route your payments through Paypal, whereas Kickstarter uses Amazon Payments, which I’m really not a big fan of. Amazon Payments tends to hold your money in escrow for a while before releasing it to your bank, which, if you need to raise funds quickly, kind of defeats the purpose. I need access to the funds for my cover ASAP if I’m going to finish in time to get the book out in time for Christmas shopping. Also, Paypal is already hooked up to my accounting software and is just darn convenient.

At some point I’ll do a more in-depth post about what was involved in setting up the campaign. In the mean time, you can check it out (and help me spread the word! …please?) here, and watch my campaign video (which was going to feature me talking, complete with makeup and styled hair, but since my computer decided to stop detecting the existence of my webcam, I had to go a different direction) below.