From the Ashes: Loving Your Work, New Projects and More! 6

I’m back! Sorry about the hiatus, folks. Eight months of total darkness, and now I’ve recalled my blog from the abyss thanks to the magical magic of Wordpress back-ups. So where have I been? Let me tell you.

Back in January I was still writing full time. My novel was doing well, my short horror compilation had just launched, and I was deep into the first draft of a new fantasy series. But after nearly a year and a half of working by myself from home and focusing 110% on writing, I discovered something I hadn’t expected to find about myself:

I missed having a day job in an office.

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The Making of an Indie Audiobook: A How-To Guide

I recently announced that A Vanishing Glow is available in audiobook format now. Those of you following the blog will note that I’m still just an itty bitty indie author, and so I’ve had a number of people ask me how I did it. It was surprisingly easy using Amazon’s ACX platform, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to do a how-to primer for those of you who, like me just a few months ago, had no idea how this whole thing works.

By the by, if you hadn’t heard about the audiobook yet, I’m giving away three free copies to people on my mailing list! You can enter here. Don’t miss your chance for a free listen. 😉

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Releases, Releases, Everywhere! 6

61Us+6SvsJL._SL300_November has been insane. In addition to getting situated after coming back from my oh-so-lovely honeymoon, I’ve been working hard on the next installment of The Mystech Arcanum and a number of other small novelette-length projects, too — as a side note, has it really only been two months since A Vanishing Glow came out? It feels like an eternity already! And it’s been reviewing really well, so that’s a lovely feeling. You never want to let what the critics say get inside in your head, whether it’s good or bad, but it’s such a relief to push something out and have it be well-received.

In addition to writing like a madwoman, I have two other new releases to announce that I’m super psyched about.

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Female Epic Fantasy Authors: Playing On Hard Mode 18

Kameron Hurley’s recent post got me thinking today about how tough it can be for women to break into epic fantasy compared to their male peers. Look at Mark Lawrence’s post about how Goodreads ratings correlate roughly to sales at a factor of 7.7 and then look up the books for the newer women published in fantasy you can think of off the top of your head.

Naomi Novik has 38k ratings on Temeraire (which is almost a decade old now! Published in 2006). Kameron Hurley’s Mirror Empire has 2k since 2014. Kate Elliott’s Cold Magic has 6k since 2010.

Compare to Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora (also published in 2006) which has 90k ratings. Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan has 14k since 2013. Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names has 7k since 2013.

All of these books are fairly comparable for being epic fantasy without being “traditional epic fantasy” and being published within the same rough timeframes. Different amounts of marketing muscle invested in the men versus the women for the genre? Maybe. But also strong reader preferences, I’d guess. I also deliberately omitted the biggest names in epic fantasy right now (Pat Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and George RR Martin).

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Wattpad and the Power of Free

Once upon a time, I was a broke college student. Not, like, destitute, but certainly without a lot of disposable income.

I’ve always been a big reader and tech enthusiast, though, and so when the 1st generation Kindle came out I had to have it. I remembered how life-changing my iPod had been when I’d finally gotten my hands on one: “All my music, in one place, and I can carry it around in my hand?” This won’t seem revolutionary to you unless you grew up listening to CDs, but trust me, it was mind-freaking-blowing to be able to go from 12 songs in your player to 1200 in a device half the size.

The Kindle was the same way for me. The idea of walking around carrying an entire library in my hand sounded like heaven. It was pricey, but after a few months of scraping (and a timely flurry of birthday cards) I was able to buy myself one. The only problem was that I couldn’t really afford to buy books for it, even with Amazon’s cheap (for the time) eBook prices of $7.99-$9.99. Can you believe that $9.99 once seemed cheap for an eBook?

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The Minimalist Guide to Writing Brilliant Settings 1

Imagine, if you will, a house on a hill on a cloudless night. Ancient paint peels off in long strips from the rotting boards of the walls, and the wind whistles through broken attic windows. Inside, a musty smell permeates hallways long since abandoned.

Can you see the house yet? Do you know what color the wood is, and whether the staircase leading up to the attic is worn or well-kept? Do the doors have brass hinges or iron? I didn’t give you any of those details, but I’d bet money you can answer each of the questions I’ve asked. Magical, huh?

Today I’m going to give you a few easy tips to help you bring your own settings to life.

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Your Indispensable NaNoWriMo Toolkit 2

There’s a chill in the air, fuzzy boots on my feet, and Halloween is sneaking up on us fast, which means that everyone’s favorite opportunity to bust out a full-length novel in a month is right around the corner: Brace yourselves, because NaNoWriMo is coming! Who’s ready to write?

To help you out and encourage you, I’ve gathered together some book recommendations and some of the best craft posts I have in a neat, tidy package. Take and use whenever you’re in need of a boost. There’s no time like now to prepare for NaNoWriMo!

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Hooray, Book Launch! 7

My head is spinning. In case you hadn’t heard yet, A Vanishing Glow is now available on Amazon! Prime members can even read it for free, so if you haven’t yet, please consider picking up a copy. I so value your support. Early reviews have been pretty great for a debut novel (at 4 stars right now!), so that’s just been incredible, and I’m so very grateful to all of you that have said such nice things and left reviews for the book.

Launch week has been absolutely crazy. Early traction has been good and consistent. I plan to do a “How-To” post soon where I talk about what I did and what I think worked well (and what didn’t work so well), but I want to gather some more data first. There are lots of other exciting things developing: I’m going to be offering a teaser sample of the first portion of the book on Wattpad (as much as KDP select will let me), and am considering putting a feature novelette up there as well. If you’re on the platform, please add me and say hello so I can follow your work! I’m also in talks to produce an audiobook version of A Vanishing Glow, so keep an eye out for news on that front too.

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The Big Five’s Secret Shadow War on Amazon and the Indie Marketplace 4

In the last year, we’ve been watching some very interesting things happen with eBook prices. Amazon fought a war with Hachette over pricing in 2014, and by April 2015 they’d signed contracts with the Big Five traditional publishers which allowed the pubs to set their own eBook prices (agency pricing). If you’ve shopped for eBooks on Amazon lately, you might have been shocked to see that the new prices for Kindle editions of Big Five releases are around $12-15 (which is almost 3x the $4.95 average for all other eBooks). For some popular backlist titles the Kindle version is even priced higher than the price of the paperback.

You might have also noticed a flurry of recent articles about declining eBook sales over the last few months, although it shouldn’t surprise anyone with a basic understanding of market forces that surveys which measure the digital sales of traditionally published books will report declining sales in response to price increases. Books are a form of entertainment, and eBooks in particularly are famously price-elastic (so high prices means lower sales, and vice versa).

Furthermore, because the data supporting these articles doesn’t include indie titles in their estimates when they look at eBook sales, they don’t provide the real picture of the market place. The independent data compiled by Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings project suggests that while traditional eBook sales might be dropping, the indie market is doing just fine for now (and steadily gaining market share). Publishers are surely aware of this.

So what the heck is going on here?

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Maiden Voyages, Early Reviews, and Loving the Little Things 8

In just under two hours I’ll be heading out to pick up a friend and take a gaggle of small, adorable boys to the zoo. In just a few weeks, I’ll be standing on a beach in Florida, exchanging wedding vows with a wonderful man I love deeply.

And then there’s the little matter of that book that’s coming out in a week or so (the physical version is available now, actually).

In short, there’s a lot of good happening in my life right now, for which I’m so incredibly grateful. Life isn’t always easy, and it’s important to remember the times like these when the going gets tough: the zoo trips and the beach vows. The first book launch. Happy autumn days.

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