Sketch: Reynard

Reynard - Line of DescentHere’s a sketch of one of my favorite characters from LINE OF DESCENT, Marquis Reynard LeFevre. He’s a mysterious and dangerous enemy of the Gardeners’ Parisian ancestors. He’s both a practitioner of Hinduism and a forefather of the Mesmerist movement. Oh yeah—and he likes to host masquerade parties in underground crypts!

One of his quotes:

“Think about the world the way it is now. Each generation mourns for the golden years of their youth. Each generation weeps that times have never been so bad. Then their children grow old and wail that things have become even more unbearable. Their golden years are the previous generation’s worst days.”

My book is published! Now the hard work begins.

Line of DescentMy novel, LINE OF DESCENT, finally went live last week on Friday 13th. Woo-hoo! Honestly, after three days of toiling over the enigmatic (and wonky) art of ebook formatting, I was just relieved to be done with it for a while. Maybe after I publish my second book, I’ll write a post on formatting through Word and Calibre because I haven’t found a concise guide on the topic—and because I’m pretty sure Calibre’s user manual was written by Franz Kafka.

Wait, did I say I was done with the book? Put that thing down, flip it, and reverse it! I’m nowhere near done:

I have to plan my Kindle Store strategies regarding pricing, product description, and keywords. Apparently Kindle Spy and Kindle Samurai are good resources for finding effective keywords, which help readers find your book when you stuff the keywords into your book’s meta-data, description, title, and tagline. According to some opinions, I should probably change the name of my book to ‘A NEW BARGAIN LINE OF PARANORMAL HORROR DESCENT THRILLING NEW ADULT PSYCHIC VISIONS STEPHEN KING.’

I have to recreate header graphics for my Facebook and Twitter pages. I have to start USING my Facebook and Twitter pages. I have to create a Goodreads Author Page. I have to create an Amazon Author Page. That means taking another crack at the dreaded author bio…and an author portrait. Argh!

I have to investigate promotional and reviewer sites like NetGalley, Story Cartel, BK Nights, KND, and Pixel of Ink.

I have to weigh the pros and cons of signing with KDP Select. I have to figure out what the heck is a ‘Kindle Countdown Deal.’ Kboards.com has been a tremendous help for getting up to speed in the indie-publishing world, but it can also be a huge (and intimidating) time-suck.

All of this, and I have to keep writing. I’d love to have my next book out by mid- to late-spring.

It’s a lot to take in. And a lot of complicated and non-creative work to get done. And I’m really excited to trudge through it!

Here’s a few links to LINE OF DESCENT. For a limited time I’m selling at a 99¢ promotional price!

Amazon U.S.
Amazon U.K.
Amazon Australia
Amazon Germany

 

Descending Soon!

Line of DescentVoila! Finally ready to reveal the nearly-final cover design for LINE OF DESCENT, along with a blurb. Woo-hoo! If anyone’s interested in a free advance copy of the book in exchange for your honest feedback on the book, let me know. I’m giving away a limited number of free ebooks, once they’re ready! (Hopefully by February 1st.)  Here’s the blurb:

“Some women dread the idea of turning into their mothers. For heiress Elise Gardener, that dread has become all too real.

Elise has always been the spooky misfit of her wealthy family—and a disappointment to her overbearing mother. Elise’s problem is that she’s supernaturally sensitive. She’s an empath who can’t help seeing and feeling the intimate emotions—sometimes painful and shameful—of every person she meets. While her cousins are starting glamorous and lucrative careers, Elise is happy working as an unseen housekeeper at a camp for underprivileged children. But Elise’s cloistered life is shattered when her mother seemingly drowns herself.

Elise invites her tenuous best friend—Mallory, a girl she’s only known for two months—to the memorial at the Gardeners’ private isle on the Georgia coast. Together, they discover that Elise’s family have a sinister secret that they’ve been keeping for generations.

They are in the thrall of a dark spirit—a powerful, primordial ancestor who lives eternally by possessing the bodies of its descendants. Elise’s own mother was its last host…and the Gardeners’ inner circle have been raising Elise to be next.

As the entity invades her mind, Elise is haunted by the memories of its past victims (including a Khmer princess and a mesmerist in pre-Revolution Paris). Through these visions she may find salvation, but her chances are slim. In 8,000 years no heir has ever broken free of the Gardener’s Line of Descent.”

Dum-dum-duuuumm!!

If you’re interested in one of a limited number of free copies, please contact me at jderrywriter at gmail.com.

 

Should I Change the Name of my Book?

rose_name_62540860One of the major caveats that critics level against self-publishing is that without the weight of a big publisher behind you, your book is likely to get lost among the hundreds of other indie ebooks that come out each week. Now, I agree that getting noticed in the clutter is a major concern, but the advocates of traditional publishing seem to be stuck on this old-school idea that Amazon is a gigantic warehouse storing billions of books—or the online equivalent of a hoarder’s bonus room. There’s a better way for authors to view Amazon. Not as a warehouse—or even as a bookstore—but as a search engine. Think about how a consumer shops on Amazon, versus browsing at a Barnes & Noble outlet. What’s the first thing a consumer does when she goes to Amazon.com? She clicks on that search bar and starts typing.

There’s plenty of great articles that discuss how to ’Search Engine Optimize’ your book to be more discoverable on Amazon. Here. And here. And here. Through proper selection of keywords and categories, you can draw in potential readers who are actively seeking your type of book. And isn’t that more effective than placing your book in a bookstore, where 90% of the customers are just there to browse or drink coffee?

This search engine democratization is another way that Amazon is leveling the playing field between indie and traditional publishers. In fact, you could say that a indie author has an advantage when it comes to Amazon search results…as long as the indie can present their book with a cover and blurb that is engaging and professional. Consider this: a consumer searches for a very specific type of sub-genre (historical fiction supernatural beach-read featuring leprechauns), and she finds two ebooks that strike her fancy, is she more likely to buy the traditionally published ebook at $10.99 or the indie ebook at $2.99?

With all this said, I recently took a good hard look at the title of one of my books, Turning, and started a self-debate about the ‘discoverability’ of that title. When I searched ‘Kindle ebooks’ for ’Turning,’ Amazon spat out 1,934 results. At least twenty of those ebooks were called ‘Turning,’ or some variation of the name that was very, very similar. I had to ask myself the question: If a potential fan found out about my book (through my blog, through Twitter, or some other way) and searched for its exact title on the Kindle store, what would they do if they couldn’t find my book on the first page of search results? Granted, I’m not sure how often this scenario is likely to come up. Hopefully most readers would find out about Turning through a source that would provide a direct link to the book on Amazon. But it’s a big enough issue to consider seriously.

So I started to think of names that would be more unique and more engaging on the Kindle store. It was tough, because I really liked the title ‘Turning.’ My wife did too. It’s simple, it’s short, it would stand out well on a cover. I especially liked the way that the word has a double meaning that obviously implies a transformation (it’s a story about a spirit who reincarnates itself inside bodies of its own descendants) and more subtly implies a theme of cycles and the passage of time. I played with that second meaning a lot throughout the book, with imagery of circles, cycles of the sun and moon, the tides, the idea of reincarnation and Samsara, repeating patterns from one generation to the next, on and on.

First I brainstormed new words that were more specific to the story. I liked words like possession, scion, inheritance, legacy, lineage, vessel, and perennial. I really liked the word ‘succession’ because it has a royal connotation (the evil spirit in the story is named Regina—as in Queen), and it has a ‘hostile takeover’ sort of feel to it. Line of Succession. Yeah, I thought that sounded pretty good. But then, ‘Succession’ is kind of a hard word to say. And also, there were several suspense/thrillers with the same title. In the same vein of royal lineage, I liked The Living End. A historical phrase that sounds like a creepy oxymoron. But apparently there’s a popular band with the same name, which would cause a major issue with Google results, and also at least one other interesting ebook with the same name. I’ve always liked the phrase Vicious Circle, but it was also fairly popular. And I was afraid it sounded too… vicious. I liked the name Law of Possession, which I pulled from the old adage ‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law.’’ But my wife really hated that one.

So what next? My wife suggested the word ‘descent,’ which also has a nice double meaning. But there were a lot of media products with that one-word title, including a horror movie called The Descent. (The first half of that film, which shows spelunkers squeezing through tiny gaps between giant boulders, was way more anxiety-inducing than the half with the cannibalistic subterranean humanoids.) What about Line of Descent? I liked the idea of a inexorable, unceasing line that’s always moving forward (or maybe downward in this case) because I think that’s a good way to describe the reincarnating villain. Although it’s a definite departure from the cycle/circle theme… Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I think it’s more descriptive, more meaty—and less likely to be confused for a vampire or werewolf story. Line of Descent! Yeah! Cue the latter-era Trent Reznor music!

And I’m mega-excited about getting the book out there to be discovered! I expect that I’ll soon change the ‘Turning’ tab and the blurb-page on this blog. And keep an eye out for a Line of Descent promo image that I hope to use as my blog header. Here’s hoping that Line of Descent will be available for purchase by February!