Today at 12PM EDT my friend and fellow writer Staci Morrison will be hosting an event on Facebook to celebrate both the one year anniversary of the inauguration of her MILLENNIUM epic fantasy series AND the publication of the fourth volume in that series, Sword OF THE SPIRIT.
Congratulations to Staci … four books in one year is quite an accomplishment!
I’ll be participating at 1PM EDT with some information about my own books … You can join at 12 for Staci or you can join at 1 to see what I have to offer. Other authors will be participating. There will be drawings for free books and some other stuff as well. I’ll be giving away a copy of THE HAG RIDER!
First things first. I realized after pushing out my last post that I neglected a few things about web site development. I’m trying to remember the first web site I created, but it was way back. 1992 or 1993. You read that right. I had a web site before most people knew the wide wide world of webs even existed. I created it by hand. I remember a colleague who I shared it with asked me “what book did you use?”
I blinked. “Book?”
Anyway, using tools to build websites is a new thing. And moving to a single page format like my cheap new web hosting site requires a bit of tweaking to get it right. But I can use things through links. Like it links this blog just great. And I have a perfectly good Amazon Author Page out there, listing all of my books. They pay developers six figure salaries to do a better job than I could ever do with my multiple book pages on my old site.
Enough about that. Here I am a little more than five weeks out and I am slowly gearing up my massive marketing machine. That’s how it feels sometimes. I often tell people that writing a novel is hard, revising the manuscript is harder, and marketing the sucker kicks me in the ass. Yet, with this being my sixth novel, I’ve learned a few things.
There are plenty of people waiting in the wings just dying to take my hard earned money and help me market my new release. I call most of them “preaching to the choir” services. They prey upon authors and, sadly, most of their focus is to other authors. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that in order to be a good author one must read a lot. But in my experience, most newer authors don’t read very much in the realm of other newer authors. Some do, (and I love you very much) but most don’t.
Then there is the whole eBook/print book thing. My small press is geared primarily toward eBooks, although print books are available and, more recently, available at places beyond Amazon. More on that later. I still don’t understand the aversion to eBooks. I’ve actually read more since I embraced eBooks than I had for years. My Kindle App is loaded on both my tablet and my phone, and it keeps my place on both. If you’ve ever been stuck waiting some place and wish you had something besides a two year old weathered magazine to read, well, pull out your phone and you can just start reading.
Anyway, the key to actually making money in the book biz focuses on getting your books into bookstores. It’s a tough nut to crack for unknown authors. I worked in scholarly publishing for 20+ years and can tell you this: you have to be able to carpet bomb them and that takes capital. See, when bookstores order twenty copies of your book in the hopes that it will sell, they expect that they will be able to return the unsold stock for full credit if the books don’t sell. Huge publishers absorb this cost of doing business. For every best seller they likely have dozens of not-so-best-sellers. Small presses and Indie authors can not compete on a national level so we have to resort to … well, whatever the hell we can.
Here. Now. Me. This. This is what I am doing here, trying to entertain you in a lame attempt to get you to remember my name and even better, my new release, HARMON CREEK. See what I did there? I put in a link. New authors take note. EVERY TIME YOU MENTION YOUR BOOK, put in a link. I don’t have a sales link yet, so I put in a link to a book page I set up on my old website. I have lost count of the book tweets and Facebook posts with authors mentioning “my new book” and they will say “available at Amazon” … yet NO LINK! I should already be navigating there. I guess I should search for you or your book? Really?
Another thing that helps is catchy graphics. Believe it or not, that was originally the purpose of this post, to illustrate the importance of catchy graphics. I’m a writer, not a graphic artist. I do, however, have visual representations that pop into my punkin haid from time to time. All of my book covers were first conceptualized by me. Thankfully, all but one were actually designed by someone who knew what they were doing. The lone cover I designed myself is my free cookbook (companion to my adventure mystery series) and it shows. But I think it matches the cookbook itself, which was designed to mimic the type of local self-produced cookbooks one might find in a rural cafe in the 1980s. I collect vintage cookbooks, I know that genre well. What I came up with, in my lame and crude attempt at design was this:
My book cover, surrounded by true life headlines relating to the primary subject matter of the book itself. Not too bad but I knew it could be better. Enter my awesome and talented daughter Audrey. Dancer turned social media expert that she is, she took my photoshop file and made it into something truly inspiring:
Same cover photo, same headlines, but she knew how to do things I did not and she made it both visually stunning and, well, amazing.
So, basically, what I wanted people to know was that the book is based on a true story. It’s personal to our family as well, the subject was her great-great uncle, her mother’s great uncle. I’ll be sharing more about the back story in coming posts, so stay tuned.
Thomas Fenske is an author living in North Carolina. More information here: https://tfenske.com
I just finished what I call the galley reviews for my June release, HARMON CREEK. Some people might call them the page proofs. What that means is that the book is in the pipeline and it will be foisted upon an unsuspecting public come June 1, or thereabouts.
My media savvy daughter reviewed some materials of mine (I’ve been book marketing for going on seven years now, but still consider myself a rank amateur). Two things she pointed out were my “yahoo” email address (been using it for over twenty years), and my book’s web page domain (thefensk.com).
I’ve used “thefensk” as a marker for a long time. I think it was originally a suggested username on some web site and I liked it. It is flippant and fun, but it doesn’t convey a sense of professionalism. With my new book coming out I want to embrace professionalism.
Sadly, I just renewed my current web provider for two years and also renewed the domain. But that’s too long to wait. They also charge a lot extra for an email address in that domain. So, my other option was to find a good intro deal for a new host, and one that would be more cost effective in the coming years. I was successful on both fronts … so although I’ll still update what I call my legacy site for the foreseeable future, I also have a more forward-looking NEW SITE located at https://tfenske.com!
I’ll be using the new site for most promotion aspects and I could certainly use a lot of help getting it established in search engines, so please click on the link!!!! Yes, this link: https://tfenske.com
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC … look for his new release, HARMON CREEK in June. More information on this and his other books can be found by starting here: https://tfenske.com
I was in new territory. I had a contract with a small independent press. Very soon I received the edited copy, which meant I had to do something I’d never done before. Now you should know that I had worked with personal computers since, well, since the very beginning. I cut my teeth on WordStar on an ancient CP/M machine. If you don’t know what that is, it’s not surprising. We’re talking old, old stuff. But it was a good intro into word processing and I’ve progressed in that regard since then. I’ve used probably a half dozen word processors. There is no secret that Microsoft Word is the apparent standard, it’s the best overall. Cost is an issue, I know, but you should understand that IT is what the publishing world wants to use. Sure, there are converters and such, but when you get that edited copy back, IN WORD, you’re going to want to be able to work IN WORD.
The edits are embedded in the text using a built-in feature. I knew this was there, I’d been using Word for twenty plus years, but I’d never used it, so I had to teach myself to do so, like yesterday. I was under the gun. They had given me, a fledgling, less than one month to devour all of the prerequisite steps and jump out of the nest. I’m a quick study and I quickly ran through the edits, approving suggested changes or altering as I went along. You have to alter in the edit mode, so the editor can in turn approve your changes. It’s a partnership at this point. The process is tedious, but after a couple of quick back and forth operations, both the editor and I agreed on the manuscript.
Then I waited. Well, not completely. Then I hastily filled out a form from the publisher. It contained a lot of things I’d never even thought of and I tell you this now. Think about these things before you are ready to submit. You should have a few ideas about cover elements before you ever get to the publishing step. You should also be well-set in your concept of genre, something I sort of glossed over. It is surprising to see aspiring writers with no sense of genre. Literary fiction? That’s like setting up your friend with a blind date and saying they “have a good personality.”
I concocted a dedication and “acknowledgment” mention. You also need to come up with meta-tags. If you don’t know what those are, do some research and think about them NOW. Then the dreaded tag lines and descriptions and blurbs. They also want review quotes, but that’s just like rubbing it in for a new author. Reviews? It’s not published yet. Anyway, these short descriptions are the bane of many an author. We can slam out 90,000 words but are stumped by conveying the gist of the story in a mere 200. (Hint: practice the elevator pitch, you are trying to convince someone to read your book while going up a few floors in an elevator). I struggled but completed the task.
A rushed cover design was submitted to me. Early on I had figured I’d be self-publishing and had secured the rights to an awesome photo, taken in the same general area where the action of the novel takes place. The cover was presented to me. It looked good. I approved. Another step was complete.
While all of this was taking place the copyeditor was going over the text. In a short time, I was soon sent a PDF of the actual book, with the cover, a title page, copyright page, dedication, and then the book itself. In publishing terms this is called a galley. It looked great. I was flush with a sense of accomplishment. Then I read the fine print. I had to review it. Quickly. Time was short. Earlier I mentioned that the edits were tedious. They were nothing compared to the galley review. Line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter. I found perhaps 40 or 50 errors, all of which I detailed in a separate Word document called an errata, copying the line as it appeared, followed by a new line with the correction. This was my first time. It took me almost three days because it is brain numbing work the first time (takes me less time now).
I made a big mistake in this process, compounded by another after the fact. One, I didn’t know one should review EVERYTHING. I reviewed just the manuscript portion. Trust me. Review everything. I’ll tell you why in a moment. The second mistake came when I received the corrected galley as an attachment. As it happened, I was working full-time and I got really busy at work, so I felt confident that all was done and the book would be published on time. Here’s a word of advice: ALWAYS CHECK THE CORRECTED GALLEY. Go through your errata list and make sure each and every correction has been made. Even now, after five published books, I know to review the corrections, and with every book I find a few minor errors were made in applying the corrections, usually one or two. This re-check takes a few minutes and it is well worth it. But this first time, I didn’t know that. I skipped it. More on this soon.
Publication day came and that was when it finally dawned on me that the most daunting task of any author had come to a head. These days I describe authorship this way. Writing a novel is hard. Revision is harder. Marketing the sucker kicks me in the ass. It’s as true now as it was then, except then I had absolutely no clue on how to proceed. See, with a big trade publisher, they’ll shepherd you through the process. They spend money on it and do a lot of background. They invest in the product. But even then, YOU have to do a lot yourself. With a small indie publisher, it’s pretty much up to you. First timer? You have to build from the ground up. So I did what anybody would do in 2015. I googled it. Oh, a web page? I can do that. I had a web page before most people knew they even existed. Facebook book page? Easy. Slowly I built an infrastructure, even this blog was part of that process (although I’ve changed the name a couple of times).
Still, sales were slow, mostly friends and family. Then I got the first bad news. My name was misspelled on the title page (but thankfully not on the cover). I was in horror. It was actually my mistake or two mistakes. In my rush to fill out the author form apparently, one pesky key had stuck and omitted itself from my name. I hadn’t read it over. Then, in the galley review, well, remember when I said check EVERYTHING? I should have caught it then. Yes, we can hope that others will catch things down the line, but ultimately, the blame comes down to me for not completely reviewing the galleys. Guess which thing I check first now? Anyway, if you bought one of those early paperbacks you have a collector’s item. The publisher agreed to fix it. Luckily with Print-on-Demand paperbacks, the damage is minimal and ebooks are easy.
Readers were reporting more errors. Lots of errors. Familiar errors. This time it was the publisher’s fault. In their haste they had uploaded the wrong file, the UNCORRECTED galley. Again, if I had checked the galley after the corrections, I would have seen it immediately, page one. This one was trickier. They didn’t believe this could have happened. I spent a week convincing them. They had already corrected the name and they had a policy of not wanting to correct every little thing. After all, they had new books for the coming month to work on. In the meantime, I had ceased my lame marketing attempts waiting for the corrections. Finally, they took a look at what I was sending them and realized I was right and it had been their error. Double-checking the galley is not even suggested, that’s my own new rule. Finally, 3 1/2 weeks in, I had the corrected book in print. There were a few other hiccups with the book, but from then on, I considered myself a successful author.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. You can find information on his books here: http://thefensk.com
Well, to get down to the nitty gritty basics, before you can get published or publish your own work you have to write something. And it isn’t good enough to simply write it, after you develop a concept you need to create a structure, then figure out characters, situations, and locales. You need conflict and resolution. You need one or more protagonists and also, ideally, an antagonist. It has to all work together. Your characters need to talk, feel, and be alive within the pages.
I took quite a bit of creative writing in college. Part of it was laziness, if any part of writing can be called laziness. The course applied toward my English degree as an advanced level course and it could be repeated. The coursework was primarily short stories. It taught me one thing: a good short story, and I mean a really good short story, is harder to pull off than a novel. A vast majority of short stories are just that, stories that are short. They can be entertaining, even enjoyable, but most never of convey a complexity that only the best achieve. Still, it’s a good training ground and a novel can be perceived as a huge undertaking that seems insurmountable.
My debut novel. THE FEVER, began as a two page treatment, written on some hotel stationery in the summer of 1986. All of the rudimentary details of the plot are there. Over the years, I started to write it at least four times but I never got more than a few pages in. Once I actually wrote about ten pages. I like to say, “Life intervenes” and I’m sure that is part of the case, but in reality, I just had no idea how to write a novel and I would put it aside out of frustration.
Then one day (for perspective, in late November 2010) I picked up a book, NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! by Chris Baty. He was the founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). One could, he said, write an entire novel in thirty days. Nice trick, I thought. But as I read through it, I realized, “You know, I could do this.” As I read about NaNoWriMo, I was mortified to learn that the real event took place in NOVEMBER. I was too late for 2010. But I kept reading. I realized, it isn’t the event, it’s the process. I finished the book in early December and again resolved to myself, “You know, you could do this.” Simple math indicated that all one needs to do is try to write a little less than 2000 words each and every day. I decided to prepare myself and dig in January 1.
The process is simple: you shouldn’t expect to have a fully completed novel in 30 days, but you’ll have a completed rough draft in that timeframe. One of the main things Baty emphasizes in his book is that you can’t edit as you go along. As he says, you have to send your internal editor on vacation. Bogging down on a sentence or a verb or a pronoun is what drives most fledgling writers into the weeds. Don’t get me wrong, it works for some, but it never worked for me. For them each sentence is a masterpiece, carefully place one after the other until you have a … well, like I said, I tried that four times with THE FEVER. Bogged down every time. I endeavored to give this different process a good try. In retrospect, knowing what I know now, I don’t know how you can get chapter two just perfect when in reality you have no idea what’s really going to happen in chapter 23!
It was my New Years Resolution for 2011, to have a rough draft by the end of January. Oddly, I decided NOT to write THE FEVER. This was, after all, a test. I figured THE FEVER was my best idea, but I had other ideas. Even though I had worked out a lot of the plot and different elements I wanted to explore in that story over the years, I didn’t want to waste my best idea on this process if it didn’t work. I couldn’t bear another failure. So I picked a harmless project I had bandied about. I had less of an idea of what I wanted to do, but according to Baty, it really didn’t matter. “Pantsing it” he called it; flying by the seat of one’s pants. I had a locale based on some autobiographical journaling I had done earlier that year, a marvelous old building where I used to work in an older area of downtown Houston. The gist of the storyline was somewhat autobiographical: write what you know.
Get this: I found the process incredibly creative. I created bullet points of a rudimentary outline but as the story progress, I left that far behind as I hammered out sentences intent on making my daily word counts. The story told me where it wanted to go. I became consumed with it, and woke up each morning with a fresh new desire to find out what happened next. When I reached the end, I was elated. I’m still proud of that manuscript, set in 1972 and populated by the hippie-types I knew in my youth. Oh, it’s pretty awful and needs so much work, although I did a little revision work on it later that year, I’ve never completed the revision work. But it still has a soft spot in my heart. One other plus: I actually achieved my New Year’s Resolution!
I turned around and did it again in November, with yet another story idea. I still avoided THE FEVER, I wanted to prove it wasn’t a fluke. I had similar results. Both of the first two manuscripts were written in first person. The original actually works in first person, but the second one should have been third person. I’ve been thinking about picking it up and working through it. It will be a lot of work.
By the next November, I was ready to dive into THE FEVER. I was so pleased with the result, I turned right around and started revisions after I finished the draft. I loved the story. This was when I found out one minor detail: I didn’t know how to revise a story. Oh, I knew I needed to clean things up, expand character development, and add more details. In the first couple of revision passes I did way too much and added extraneous details and descriptions that had little to do with the story. My 50,000 word draft ballooned to 130,000 words. It was bloated and heavy. It had lots of good stuff, but many things didn’t apply to the real story and true to the first two manuscripts, far too much autobiographical information. Some of it applied to the core storyline quite well, but I realized 130,000 words was far too much for a debut novel, so as I got better at reviewing my writing, I cut and honed. I call this crafting the story.
I eventually allowed a few trusted souls to read the drafts and got some valuable feedback. I kept plugging away. I basically skipped the next two NaNoWriMos, well, I cheated and worked at revisions one time and worked through my journaled autobiographical info another time. But NaNoWriMo is fun, you can buddy up with other writers, track each other and encourage each other. Picked a few long term friendships there. One of those contacts suggested I approach her publisher. I didn’t at first, because I didn’t think it was ready and her publisher seemed to be mostly interested in Romance books.
I was coming up on the third NaNoWriMo since I’d written the draft and, to be honest, I was burned out. One of my NaNo buddies strongly suggested I just dive in on a new project to clear my mind. It almost seemed like I was cheating on my novel, but I did it. Totally fresh idea, completely different story. I hammered out the word counts just like the other three and before the end of the month I had another rough draft. I liked it, and thought it had a lot of promise, then I shelved it and dug back into THE FEVER. My mind was ready to take it all the way.
I’ll leave off here. Next time, I’ll relate the next stages of getting it published.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC. More information about him and his books: http://thefensk.com
It’s been a while, but this sleeping cat has awakened and he’s decided to gear up the old blog again in anticipation of his upcoming publication.
In my last post, I mentioned a bit about the new project,, HARMON CREEK. There will be more about it coming later. The best news is that it will be released in June of this year. That gives me not quite three months to get off my duff and dust off my blogging and marketing skills.
To get started, I’ll post about the story, sure, but also about the marketing and publishing process. For today, I’ll say that part of the delay in posting was due to my decision to actively pitch to agents and other publishers. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with the publisher of my first five novels, it’s more along the lines of this was something I’d never even tried. Understand, querying is a lot of work. I sent out dozens of queries but only had one positive response and unfortunately that was received after I had all but given up on the process and submitted to my current publisher. Ah, well. I gave it the old college try (although in my creative writing classes in college we never covered queries).
What I learned, was that you should definitely do your homework and pay close attention to what individuals say they are interested in. Even more important, stick to the guidelines they provide. I know that likely half of my queries failed because I didn’t notice the term “double spaced” (which drastically reduces the amount of text they are requesting) and although I personally think that is so “pre-word processor” — well, the rules are the rules. My bad.
The what, though, that is where a lot of prospective authors fail. The category of “what” is a moving target and can change with the wind. It is whatever an agent thinks publishers can be convinced THEY can make a lot of money on — if they pick this manuscript. Usually it follows currently successful trends and has very little to do with the actual quality of your story or of your writing (although a negative impression of either or both of those can sink you pretty quickly). I won’t comment on the “what” I perceived, but take under advisement: I suspect tails of survival from war-torn Ukraine will soon be a must-have on the lists of agents and publishers. All I’m saying is — pay attention and don’t get your hopes up if your hard work falls outside the current trends.
All that said, smaller publishers, although they still want to make money, can be a little more forgiving in the trend department. And, who knows? YOU might be the next trend setter. I can say with a great deal of authenticity I was dressing grunge in the early 70s long before grunge became a trend. I still do, for that matter, but that’s another story entirely. Oh, and never forget self-publishing, but you can’t skip the same steps publishers take to prepare a manuscript for publication. More on that later as well.
Anyway, after almost a year, I’m back, baby and ready to share.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina USA. More info about him and his work: http://thefensk.com
I’ve been absent from this blog for quite a while and that can only mean one thing: I’ve been writing!
All authors have their own process. For me, it means hammering out a rough draft in a very short time, then spending a lot of time pouring over it, correcting, adding, deleting. Some prefer to painstakingly pour over the manuscript, working on each sentence in progression until it is perfect. That never worked for me. I get a few sentences in and something else attracts my attention and those few pages I managed to complete languish forever in some kind of writer’s purgatory.
No, I like to dash it off, working from a plan, to be sure, but for the most part I let the story tell me where it wants to go. Make that: let the story tell me where it needs to go. The plot develops from the outline, but strays if it needs to. Writing fast is creative and when a writer is on a productive streak new ideas just pop up out of thin air. What I end up with is a complete draft, the story exists from beginning to end. The editing and revision process is tedious, but then again, these actions should be tedious. I call it crafting the novel and it is a lot easier for me to continue to work on a the thing. It’s like building a house. One doesn’t erect the door and get it perfect and painted, then start adding walls in successive building sessions, then flooring, then ceiling and roof. One gets the framework in place as quickly as possible and the roof in place, and only then will they concentrate on the interior, gradually adding and improving until it is complete.
Anyway, my latest work in progress, a crime novel I call HARMON CREEK, is in the late stages of that process. It is based on a true crime. Well, sort of. It’s about my wife’s great uncle, who mysteriously died in 1930. He was a candidate for District Attorney in a mostly rural area of Texas. She’d told me about it several times. The family contended it had been murder, pure and simple, but whoever perpetrated it was never caught. I researched quite a number of newspaper articles about it. Various local papers reported on the case for several days. He died in a one-car accident at the site of a new bridge construction at Harmon Creek in Walker County Texas. Details were sparse, but one interesting detail emerged: stab wounds. There was also a statement from a woman who had purportedly accepted a ride from the man, but exited the car prior to the accident and procured a ride from a friend she had noticed following them. It seemed quite innocent but they never quite tied in any detail that explained how they found her and she and the “friend” were never identified. That was how the first article presented things.
The next day it was reported that she’d added to her story, but to a Dateline aficionado like me it sounds more like she changed her story, which is always an indicator that a lie is involved. The Sheriff also floated a new theory: the puncture stab wounds were likely caused by nails from the nearby railing when his car crashed through it. I thought, puncture wounds on a moving victim from a stationary object. Hmmmmm. Within thirty-six hours of the wreck, he pushed the local authorities to declare it an accident, albeit with weak protests from the justice of the peace and medical officer.
That’s pretty much the gist of the story. There were follow-up stories for several days. The governor dispatched a Texas Ranger to aid in the investigation and the woman changed her story yet again, this time adding a contention of inappropriateness to her story. She was still unnamed. None of this was part of the family lore but the guy was obviously a straight shooter good guy. He’d formerly been county attorney and was now going up against the incumbent for the next step up the ladder. The family contended the incumbent was quite dirty. The most troubling aspect of this story for me was the fact that the progression of news stories simply stopped cold. After about a week there was no more mention of his death, of the investigation, of anything. Gone. Kaput. Nada.
So I compiled the limited facts and anecdotes and used a mystery writer’s eye (and like I said before, a long association with Dateline and 20/20 programs), and pieced together a progression of possibilities. With an incumbent district attorney involved, it seemed too easy to think the guy had simply been bumped off. It is rarely that simple. So I built a progression of cascading events using what I thought to be plausible actions and counter actions. I don’t want to offer spoilers, but I think I explain all of the questions raised in my mind by the various news articles quite nicely. To me there was an obvious reason the case simply disappeared.
And, of course, the country was in the beginnings of the great depression, and the election followed in two weeks. After that, basically life went on.
I have to admit, there was some fun involved in writing this too. I introduce a glimpse into lower echelon criminality, and had a bit of fun digging up criminal slang of the 1920s/early 30s. Here we see the mysterious unnamed “woman” and her “friend” concocting the beginnings of a plot at the behest of the DA’s underling.
“I got a special deal, a sort of blackmail deal.”
“Branching out, are you?”
“McIntyre wants me to frame a john.”
“Not me, I hope,” he quipped.
Betty laughed deeply, “I already have the goods on you.”
“So let me see if I can guess. He wants a Sheba who’s known to skate around to be seen in public with some weak sister.”
“That’s the crop. I’ve got the goods to play the end game, but I’m not much with the planning.”
“Which is why you want me in on the deal. What’s my end?”
“I figure maybe a yard, but I might be needing more help than just a plan.”
“A cool C note? Tell me more.”
Another side story involves Claude. I had to include Claude. One of the most intriguing parts of my wife’s family stories involved her great aunt, the victim’s widow, and her … well I don’t quite know how to categorize him … her friendship with a black man named Claude. Think Driving Miss Daisy’s Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman’s character), except Claude wasn’t exactly an employee. Nothing romantic, nothing like that. To hear my wife describe him, he was oddly devoted to her great aunt, almost like a compulsion or a duty. That’s how it seemed to me. So, Claude has a big piece of this story, which I ultimately use to explain his later devotion to the great aunt, even thirty years later.
I’m still smoothing out the kinks, but I think this will be my best book yet. HARMON CREEK, look for it.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in central North Carolina.
If we were having coffee today I’d be gently raising my mask to take a quick sip while I related my elation to some good book news.
Writing a book, or several books, occurs in several stages. Of course, there is the original concept, structure, and actual writing. After that, an author must pore over their manuscript, tweaking, nudging, adding, subtracting … I call this revision stage “crafting the novel.”
If one is fortunate enough to publish, after the requisite editor back and forth and acceptance of the finished manuscript, the most daunting task begins. You have to sell the damn thing. Marketing generally kicks me in the ass. That’s an official publishing term.
This weekend I have embarked upon my most aggressive marketing campaign ever … I paid for some outside promotion of my entire four-book series on Kindle. For me, it was not cheap, I have been fairly conservative in spending money on promotion. Spend a buck to make a buck, right?
The series promotion expects that the first book in the series will be either free or very cheap. I went with offering it for free. Amazon lets one offer a kindle book for free for five days. They also let one offer a discount price for seven days. I used that second function to offer the other three books at varying discounts. The result? Readers can acquire my entire series for $5.97. Normally that would be $15.96. Four books for under six bucks!
The sale continues through the weekend but the results so far have been encouraging. So far, I’ve given away 4029 copies of THE FEVER. That’s like introducing myself to 4029 new readers! BUT — 117 readers also bought book two, A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP, AND 52 more took a chance on book three, LUCKY STRIKE, AND 46 bought book four, PENUMBRA! I even saw an uptick in my self-published companion cookbook, which is always free anyway.
Will I make my money back? Not quite; not yet. But an author must not only sell individual books, they must also sell themselves. In that respect, this has been quite successful. My hope is that people who like THE FEVER will want to go back and see what other trouble the characters get into in Books 2-4 and be willing to chance another $3.99 on them. They do seem to get into a lot of trouble and each books is better than the previous one.
I have also seen in the past that Amazon backs up increased sales (even free sales) with additional targeted promotion. I’ve even had them suggest my own books to me in the past … this is a real thing.
If we were trying to have coffee today I’d no doubt be all excited! It’s release day for my latest novel. PENUMBRA.
Some people make a big deal about release day. For me it is a bit anticlimactic…okay, it’s official. Distribution is a little wonky today too. This month my publisher is expanding the print copies into a new supplier. We have been exclusively Amazon for a while. Now Amazon will provide print copies sold on its platform and the new supplier will be able to more easily provide copies to bookstores and libraries.
Of course with anything new, the publisher had no real guidance into how long the new books would be in limbo. When they are available, they’ll be available. To make matters worse, the print copies on Amazon are delayed as well.
It’s a good thing I didn’t plan anything big for release day. Today’s big “release” activity? I cut the grass!
Okay, tomorrow is the big day! I know, I’ve bothered you all week, but I just wanted to be sure I got the word out.
This will mark three books published in 10 months. It’s not quite as amazing as it sounds. For one thing, for a number of reasons I had a three-year-hiatus in publishing, well, except for my companion cookbook. So, this pretty much puts me back on track for a book a year. It amounts to the four books of the Traces of Treasure Series, and the stand-alone historical novel The Hag Rider (my other Summer of 2020 release).
I managed to cobble Penumbra together in a little over five months, from the first page to the final revision and signed contract. My first book, The Fever, took close to three years. Writing is like any other journey. There are left turns and right turns, and any number of hard stops. One encounters bumpy roads and pitfalls. Actually, in writing, we create a lot of bumpy roads and pitfalls.
Anyway, thanks for coming along for the ride. There will be more to come, most certainly. I have assembled quite a crew of characters who are meant to take this series forward, but I probably won’t feature ALL of them at the same time as I did in Penumbra.
Look for Penumbra on Amazon tomorrow, in Kindle, KindleUnlimited, & paperback. I’m working on getting copies into some bookstores as well but with my small publisher, this is a work in progress.