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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dragon's Curse: Quote

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beggar Magic Inspiration Images

I still have no camera. I haven't  missed it much. I never remember to bring it with me any where, anyway. So, instead of photos, I thought I'd share some images from my writing: inspiration pin board. These are pictures I looked at either for research or inspiration while working on Beggar Magic, which sits at just over 40k words right now.

Nope, no hints about how or what all these images are about. You'll have to wait. 

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sales and Returns

I've blogged a bit about my KDP countdown deal and how it boosted sales for me. You can read a little bit about that here.

So this is just a little bit of letting off steam: book returns can ruin my week.

With an ebook you can read the first two or three chapters before you make the purchase. If you didn't like it at that point, you shouldn't buy it. If you read through it and didn't like it, you still read it. I always get a little suspicious when someone returns my books. My books are not long. Most of my readers tell me they read through it in an evening or a day. You have several days to return an ebook after purchase. Part of me always thinks they probably read it all the way through before returning it, which to me is just cheating.

The first time I saw a "Units Refunded" on my sales report, I assumed I'd be seeing a nasty review from the disappointed reader within a few days. When that never manifested, I started to wonder, if it was so bad that they really wanted their $2.99 back, why wasn't it worth telling me about as an author or warning off other readers from wasting their money?

Maybe I should be happy that they chose to keep their opinion to themselves and not down rate my book, but I still sit there and wonder "why didn't they like it?"

But anyway, of the 76 sales I've made so far for May, only one has come back at me, and that's a pretty good rate.

Find the Typo! Win a Prize

To start off, no, the typo in question is not the intentional one in my oh so clever graphic. That would be too easy.

In order to play this game, you have to be one of the lucky owners of a copy of Dragon's Curse that preexists the files I just uploaded to KDP and CreateSpace fixing the typo in question (since it takes a little while for Amazon to update the existing files, if you hurry, you can get one of the typo-versions by clicking on the  link below. Yay! It's like an antique. Like one of those stamps accidentally printed upside down or a penny with two heads!):

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Seriously, though, I tried very very very hard to put out a great product in my book. I used a lot of people's eyes other than my own. I  read it back and forth at least  a dozen times. However, I've even seen traditionally published books with typos, so mistakes happen.

I'm calling this a typo, but  in all honesty. It isn't. It is a homophone slip  up, which isn't the same as just my fingers tripping and typing "teh"  instead of "the". I actually made a mistake and used the dang wrong word because it sounds/looks so much like the word it should've been.

So here's the deal: if you find the typo, email me and I will gift you a $5 Amazon.com gift card. Don't tell anyone else what it is. This deal is only good for the first three people to point out the typo (though if there happens to be another typo that I missed and you find that one instead of the one other people discovered, you will also win a prize.) because I can't afford to pay 200 people $5 and three seems a reasonable cut off point (once I've received the three winner's emails, I will edit this post to say Game Over).

You can message me through Facebook (here is my author page https://www.facebook.com/hlburkewriter . . . also, I may  have included a hint on my Facebook page to the location of the  mistake) or  email me (hlgstrider(at)gmail(dot)com).

Friday, May 23, 2014

New Review: Fantasy Book Lane

Dragon's Curse has a new review! You can read it here on Fantasy Book Lane. Please check out the blog and leave a comment for the reviewer.

As always you can purchase the book through the link below:

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


I've mentioned, maybe once or twice, that deciding to  call myself a writer instead of "just" a stay-at-home-mom has been a struggle for me. I've been a long time advocate of motherhood being enough. Sometimes I think by adopting the "writer" title I'm taking away with from it, like, oh it's okay to be "just" a mom if you also have a creative outlet like writing that can bring in some extra dollars and provide you with a secondary job title. In other words, it is okay to be a mom if you aren't just a mom.

Honestly, I'm probably the only one who worries about this. People don't really ask me what I "do" unless I give them a reason to (they just look at my children and back away slowly). The writer title is more for my sake than anything.

But the thought did have me going over some of the similarities.

  • Writing and motherhood both have to fight for respect as "real jobs". The world tends to judge vocations by financial results, and Motherhood and Writing are hardly top earners. 
  • Both have no time clock. My mothering hours are 24-7. That doesn't mean that I never sleep or watch TV. I just know that sleep and TV could be interrupted at a moments notice due to the needs of a little person. Writing is "when inspiration strikes" or more often "whenever I get a free moment". 
  • Both involve emotional attachment to something external. You think it is hard being unbiased about your kid? Well, it is. No one wants to hear that their kid is anything but clever or cute. It is also hard to be unbiased about your writing. Every little criticism can feel so personal.
  • Sometimes you just have to say no to advice. Whether is that other mom who doesn't think you  should take your kid to McDonalds or that other writer who doesn't like dialog heavy scenes and wants to gut yours, sometimes you just have to smile and nod and back away.
  • You will probably be much more interested in talking about your books/kids than people are about listening. Yes, your kid is adorable, and yes, your  plot is exciting . . . but those heathens don't care, curse them and crush them.
  • Both involve slaving, working, pouring all your heart into something for a lengthy period of time only to have to "set it free". Face it, eventually your kids move out. Eventually you have to stop editing the book and either try and publish or put it aside. Once the kids have their own homes and lives you'll probably still check on them regularly, but you can't keep trying to raise them. That's done. And while you may want to argue loudly with every not-five-star-review on Amazon, it is best not to do that either. After publication, your work has to stand on its own merits. 
  • It's really nice to find other people in the same boat. Moms need other moms. Writers seek  out other writers whenever possible. BECAUSE IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE SOMEONE WHO WILL TALK ABOUT SEMICOLONS! 
  • If you are in it for the money or the praise, you'll probably go insane long before you get your dues.
  • Both involve copious amounts of coffee. 
  • and/or wine. 
  • Or whining. 
So yes, I am a writer, and a Mom, and I think I do both with style (read insanity).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Me Reading My Chapter One

I'm not planning to make an audio book for various reasons. For one thing, the few articles I've read seem to suggest the profit margins aren't there. For another, I'd have to hire out the voice work because I'm a very fast-indistinct-lazy talker and while I've tried to coach myself to where I can be comprehended by others, it is hard for me to maintain it for any length of time.

That said, tonight I amused myself by reading chapter one of Dragon's Curse. You can listen to it below.

As always, the book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

New Twitter Look

I don't tweet well. The character limit hits me in the face every time. COME ON! There is no way that's 140 characters. Do spaces count? Oh, they do? So unfair.

Anyway, that aside, I spent a little bit of time making my twitter home look a little cooler tonight, as can be seen in the screen shot above (or you can click on the link below).

To make it cool, I added a picture of myself in a fez (because that's cool) and some dragons (very cool.).

What do you think?

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When Am I Successful?

When I started self-publishing, I had no financial goals. I didn't know what was reasonable to expect. I didn't know if I was "good enough" and while I put my best work out there, I had a lot to learn about writing, editing, promoting, formatting. . .

My stated goal at this point was just to get my book into the hands of people who would enjoy it. My only financial goal was less a goal and more a cautionary "I can't spent more money than I earn." In other words, I didn't want my writing to become a financial drain on my family. I've managed this, in spite of a few large expenses that sent me temporarily into the red (cover art, web domain name, Scribophile membership).

This last month, sales have been good, by my standards anyway. I showed Matt and he said, "Hey, you made enough to buy us groceries for a week."

That got me thinking, as I checked my sales for the umpteenth time, what are my current goals?

I'd like to keep making a profit, but that feels so out of my control, it is hard to promise myself to "make such and such" by the end of the year. I can't make people buy my book. I've already achieved my first goal. People have read and enjoyed my book. Some have left very nice reviews. Several intend to come back for the sequels or already have purchased book two.

I still have a goal to put out at least one if not two or three books per year. Once I have the entire The Dragon and the Scholar saga available things might slow down. Since you are working in the same world with the same characters, series come out a little quicker than unrelated stand alone volumes. That said, I have planned release dates in August and December for the next two books, and I'd like to make my current work in progress, Beggar Magic, available next spring.

So, for me this might be how success looks, a little bit of extra income (groceries here and there) and pats on the back from the occasional reviewer. We'll see what the future holds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Writer Stuff

Just some random stuff that made me happy and got shared on my author Facebook page (here).

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Will A Kindle Countdown Promotion Boost My Sales?

I mentioned in my last post (here) that I was trying to be more strategic with my book promotions. Pretty much everything I've done as a writer is experimental. I'm a "learn by doing" sort of person. I can read articles all day and just get confused until someone drops me through a linking book and lets me start throwing switches and turning dials (Myst reference there).

If only all life's problems could be solved with clever puzzles
So this month, rather than do the "free days", I decided to try a Kindle Countdown Deal. I set my book at 99 cents for the first half of the deal (which ends in a little under a day now) then $1.99 for the second and then at the end of the full five days it goes back up to $2.99. I haven't done a lot of publication on this promotion. I've simply shared links and the like (next time I'll probably investigate promotion methods more), but what I've found has been very interesting. Compared to my free days, the 99 cents days have resulted in more sales.

Now obviously with the free days I give away more books. I think I gave out 300 on my best ever kindle free day. The 99 cents ones are different. I'm still selling books. They are just cheaper than usual.

I should also tell you that, if I'm remembering correctly, my best ever non-promotion sales day was five sales in a single day. Yesterday, during the first day of the Kindle Countdown, I sold fourteen units. Today, which is admittedly not over for several more hours, I have sold eleven.

Promotion Sales: Total
The good thing about the countdown deal is even though my price has dropped, it allows me to keep my 70% royalties. If I were selling books at a 99 cent rate every day, they would be at 30%.

However, what I hadn't anticipated was this. When you divide up my sales by individual books, this is what the graph looks like for Dragon's Debt, the book that is currently on promotion.

Promotion Sales: Dragon's Debt
Yesterday Dragon's Debt sold 11 copies. Today it has sold six. That means that three of the copies sold yesterday and FIVE of the copies sold today were my other books, which are still at their normal price.

Regular Price Sales: Dragon's Curse
These are the Dragon's Curse sales for the same two day period.

Regular Price Sales: Tale and Two Parts
And I even sold an extra copy of The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts, even though it is not part of The Dragon and the Scholar series.

So not only did readers apparently purchase my 99 cent book, but based on these numbers, I have to assume several of the same group came back the next day and purchased more books by me.

So to sum up, I'm very excited about how this promotion has worked out for me. I will probably do another one when Dragon's Rival is ready to be released.

If you are interested in checking out any of the books listed, you can do so on Amazon through the links below.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dragon's Debt is a Bargain Today!

I'm trying to be more strategic about using my Kindle Select promotions through KDP. Right now I'm experimenting with the countdown deal.

The countdown deal is where your book goes up at a discount price for a set time (complete with a ticking clock), then goes up  to a slightly higher price for a bit, then ends up at its original price when the promotion is over.

So today and tomorrow and a little more than that, Dragon's Debt is only .99. In a few days it will be $1.99 before finally settling back to the original price of $2.99. Not huge differences, but hey, a sales a sale!

You can purchase the book through the link below.

Dragon's Debt (The Dragon and the Scholar)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Something Sappy Sweet: here's a kissing scene

No, I'm not providing any context for this scene other than that it is a character's first kiss. This is what I wrote tonight. Who knows what form it will take in the final draft?

Realizing what she wanted to do,she leaned closer to him and touched his mouth with her fingertips. He gazed at her, his pupils widening. She closed her eyes, lifted her face to his, and waited. 
Her breath lingered in her lungs, her lips tight together lest it escape. A few seconds passed. Had he not understood? Did he not want to? She let her air go and opened her eyes. He smiled and moved forward, pressing his mouth into hers. His eyes captured her. His arms encircled and drew her closer. Her whole world faded into warmth.
She slid onto his lap, one hand against his chest, one arm around his neck. They parted. She exhaled. While her mouth was still agape, he came for her again. Her fingers grabbed his unruly curls and tightened. Their tongues touched.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Five Stars on Cloud Nine: Dragon's Debt update

I got some  new reviews today! Dragon's Debt (Which you can purchase through the link provided below) now has five Amazon reviews all of which are FIVE STARS!!!
Count them

I love the reception this book series has gotten. Even if you don't feel it was a five star book, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I read them all. Multiple times.

I did get a three star review for Dragon's Curse today on Goodreads. The reader thought it should have "more fight scenes or that the existing fight scenes should be longer" so I'm guessing the amount of romance in the book wasn't his cup of tea. Still, he said I taught him three new words (he gave the example of missive. I'm guessing unctuous was one of the other ones. I don't like to overload my work with big words, but I like to  try and make my readers reach for a dictionary at least once during the story. Mission accomplished, apparently.

Buy the first book in the series here:
Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar)

Buy the CURRENTLY FIVE STAR RATED book two here:
Dragon's Debt (The Dragon and the Scholar)

Wordless Wednesday: Every time I sell a book

This is me every time I click on my KDP stats and see a new sale.

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