Cover Reveal and a Question!

Okay, gang, we are looking at releasing–very soon!–the fairy-tale anthology I’ve been promising you for awhile. In fact, here’s the cover!

toadcoverblog

(Was I supposed to do a big reveal there? Errr…play a little drum roll on your desk, maybe?)

(Also, Twitter told me to do that jacket quote. When I get some more blurbs, I may change it to something slightly less meta.)

Now, this is not the annotated fairy-tales, which I can’t actually sell for copyright reasons–those are best treated as weird fan fic–but stuff like “Toad Words” and “The Sea Witch Sets The Record Straight” and “The Wolf And The Woodsman.” Basically, most of the short stories and weird little things I’ve posted here over the last few years* plus–excitement!–an all new novella called “Boar & Apples” that has been seen nowhere before!

There is poetry, but not much of it. Hopefully not enough to damage your enjoyment.

Depending on proofreaders and my own mad schedule, I am hoping to get this out sometime this week. However, here’s the thing…

Smashwords is…well…frustrating and very slow to push out to vendors and in a number of ways behind the times. And there is a service called Draft2Digital that will get the book into iBooks, Kobo, and B&N, and do it much faster than Smashwords and without the various griefs, which I’d kinda like to use. (Plus Amazon, on Kindle, obviously, but I want a non-Amazon alternative as well, because eggs, baskets, etc.)

The only thing that would be lacking here that Smashwords does is offer various formats, like .pdf, .rft, read online, etc, which would not be available if I don’t go through the Smashwords Meatgrinder.

So my question is—is anybody using those formats here that will be completely unable to access the book if I don’t do Smashwords? (If you want to read on your actual computer, there’s a free program called Calibre that will take an epub, and the book would be in all the various stores.)

I’d kinda like to skip the Smashwords step, now that Draft2Digital is an option, but I don’t want to lock anybody out of reading if I can help it, so I want to hear from you guys!

(Alternate possibility–skip Smashwords, and if you cannot do any of those other reading methods, e-mail me and I’ll sell you a file directly–trying to avoid direct sales because I don’t want to be tech support for that, but I could probably manage a couple if people really need .pdf or .txt!)

As always, Toad Words would be completely DRM free (or as free as I, as creator, can manage it–can’t swear that various services don’t get shady on the back end, but I’m opting out wherever there’s an opt out.)

Anyway, let me know your thoughts, everybody!

*Except “Elegant and Fine” which is fan-fic for another five or six years, until the first Narnia book falls out of copyright.

Why, 2K!

That’s right, as of…well, sometime last week, probably, I haven’t been checking that closely…we cracked 2000 copies of Nine Goblins sold! How cool izzat?

Thank you, everybody who ordered a copy! You’re awesome, and I hope you enjoyed it!

The following bits are probably only of interest to self publishers, but I wanna contribute what smidgeon I can to an often opaque set of numbers, so read on if you like that sort of thing!

In terms of numeric breakdowns, after expenses (mostly editing services and coffee) we’re looking at around $5.5K. For self-pub, that’s not the extreme end of the bell curve, but definitely a very respectable success. If you figure it took about 100 hours to write, that’s a very good wage (although if you figure that it took since 2006 to write, the numbers look…um…less good. And it’s not like you can just sit down and put in a 100 hour work week and have another book. Well, I can’t, anyhow. You know, trying to work this out like this is probably a fruitless exercise…)

Anyhow, as far as I can tell–and I am extrapolating from VERY little data here, so I could be very wrong, anyone with more experience, feel free to chip it!–the initial sales burst comes in the first month or two, then it begins to taper off. I’d guess there’s a spike in sales when you put out a new book (or at least, so I am told!) but as the next Goblins book may take another couple years at this rate, we’ll find out if it applies to other releases by the same author.

Around 90% of sales were via Amazon Kindle. Smashwords is definitely worth it, though, as there’s a lot of readers who, for whatever reasons, will not use Amazon and it sucks to leave them in the lurch. I’ve heard from friends that direct sales from their website do very well, and that’s something to consider, although I dread the tech support aspect there. Suspect that may be the wave of the future, though, as Amazon eventually will start to squeeze.

The nice thing about slow taper, though, is that while it’s not paying my rent as it did for the first two months, it’s still solidly buying groceries, and even as we slither downward, I can probably expect it to keep me in hard cider money for awhile.

That is due entirely to the readers, let me hasten to add–I’m not promoting it beyond posts like this one and links on the website, and it’s the plethora of good reviews and (gasp! the legendary!) word-of-mouth that’s moving copies. I am super grateful for that–I even had a fan tell me the other day that they bought a copy and loved it and didn’t know it was by me. Which, I mean, pen-name and all, but that means the book has a life of its own beyond just yours truly, and that bodes very well for it.

So all in all, my first self-pub adventure has been a rousing success, despite all the weeping and bloodshed that it took to bring it into the world. Thank you, everybody!

And yes! Promotion! I can do this! If you want to buy a copy:

Smashwords

Amazon

A Good Link

If you want to be a writer–and lord, so many of us do, even when we ought to know better!–you could do a lot worse than to read this piece by Kameron Hurley.

Writing for me was never an act of courage, an act of defiance, an act of…well, much of anything. I suppose it was an act of cope. I wrote because that was what I did. When I had no hope of ever making money on my first real novel, I still wrote it anyway, because what else could I do?

Good news, everyone!

Nine Goblins is on iBooks! You go to the app, you type in “Nine Goblins” and it’s THERE and it’s a BOOK! WOOO!

*pant pant pant*

No love from Kobo yet, but you can’t have everything.

Far more importantly, if you ask me, Brandon the border collie is back from the vet. We have been very nervous in the House of Wombat because he’s started falling down the stairs and occasionally wiping out on corners at speed, and that is Not Good in an old dog, particularly a Jumbo Size one in a breed with known hip issues. And once he goes down, being Jumbo Size and somewhat arthritic makes it hard for him to get back up. (He’s also got dormant Lyme, so his joints are creaky anyway, but his fear of stairs has gotten a lot worse in recent weeks, and we were getting very worried.)

So it was with great relief that the vet informed Kevin that Brandon is, in fact, blind in one eye. His hesitance on the stairs now is probably not pain but the simple fact that he can’t SEE the stairs very well–he takes the shorter flights fine, but the big staircase in the middle of the house is just a mass of wood-grain stretching to infinity. Adding non-skid tape to them probably helped, once he got over his initial alarm that Something Had Changed Without His Approval, since there are now large black bars marking the treads.

(That last is totally a border collie thing…the beagle could be utterly blind and would cheerfully hurl himself down the stairs because they’ve always been there BEFORE, right? But Brandon is very intelligent and also has limited respect for his humans’ intelligence and prefers to think his way through things himself. He has no problem going UP the stairs, probably because the next one is always at eye level.)

There is no treatment for the blindness—we could spend a lot of money to find out if it’s the eye or the brain behind it, but since they couldn’t fix it either way and his bloodwork’s not turning up scary, there doesn’t seem to be much point. We were already planning on moving Kevin’s office back downstairs so that Brandon can be with his human most of the day without having to tackle stairs–god willing, he’s got at least two or three years left, and this’ll cut down his stair adventures to morning and evening.

So, err…yaaaaaay!

OMNIBUS!

So I spent Saturday through Wednesday in Minneapolis, signing all the Kickstarter rewards for the Digger omnibus, and first of all OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO AWESOME LOOKING and also there were a lot of them.

TheBooks

And by a lot I mean eight pallets.

This photo, incidentally, is after we’ve gone through a couple and you can’t see the Wall ‘O Digger spines behind me and also they hadn’t delivered the softcovers yet.

(The softcovers are also really swank.)

Here is the wall of signed copies and then we ran out of space and started putting them back in boxes.

morebooks

Also, these suckers have weight. They come in at four pounds apiece. You could club an intruder to death with one. It is amazing how much more impressive they were than all six of the Digger volumes stacked up–even though they’re nearly the same size, something about there being a spine with DIGGER on it makes it really look like eight years of work.

But yes. Lotta books. Lotta BIG books.

This meant a lot of signing.

A lot of signing.

All the signing.

Also, there were posters. And postcards. About a thousand of those.

Toward the end, I started to get a little fried…

littlefried

(Horribly, I think I was trying to look perky for the camera in this one. Kevin assures me that all the other photos have been deleted. Apparently they were…not flattering.)

And then Tuesday morning, with a load of softcovers rolling into the warehouse, I woke up, had breakfast, went to get up and…

My back went “DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE THWANGGGGGGG DIE DIE OH HOW I WANT YOU TO DIIIIIIIEEEEEE.”

I made a noise. It was not a scream, largely because screaming would have used my back muscles too much. I had just thrown my back out in spectacular fashion, one of the worst I’ve had in years, possibly the worst I’ve had—it was a really impressive level of pain. Throwing your back out at any point isn’t fun, but there’s a spectrum between “Uh oh, better lay down, there goes the rest of the day” and “suspended alone in the bloody void with the God of Back Pain.”

“Yo,” said the God of Back Pain.

“‘sup,” I said. “Haven’t seen you for awhile. Incidentally, AAAAUUUUGGHGHH!”

Kevin got me downstairs into the bedroom–getting my legs on the bed involved more noises-that-weren’t-screams–and we moved into Damage Control Mode, because there were still a whole lot of books to sign and I had a flight home tomorrow morning.

(The reason? Those darn heavy omnibuses. You can see me sitting at the table up there, and I was pulling the books toward me with my left hand, signing, then twisting in the chair and stacking them. My own damn fault, both for setting up a poor workflow and for writing a goddamn four-pound epic.)

Ironically, my signing hand? Great shape. Didn’t need the wrist brace, the elbow brace, any of it. I could sign another thousand of them and then punch Larry the intern a few times* and not break a sweat. It’s never the things you expect.

So, we got a heating pad on it until I could move again. Kevin ran out and got thermarest back-heating doohickeys. We drove Dale’s super-comfy office chair to the warehouse, and they set it up, and I stood bolt upright with the weird little hot back brace and…signed.

I was forbidden to lift anything. They slid books in front of me, on an elevated table, I signed, they took the books away and boxed them. (They let me check off the invoice numbers on the master sheet, so at least I did that much!) In between pallets, I sat in the office chair, reclined back all the way.

And stuff got signed.

And I flew home yesterday–an IcyHot muscle patch, incidentally, can REALLY fill the cabin of a plane with aroma, quite a throw on those things–while Kevin fretted and lifted all my bags and finally took me home and put me to bed.

I’m in a fair amount of pain, not gonna lie–but stuff got signed.

And dude, those omnibuses look AMAZING.

 

*We are friends from way back. I do not punch most interns.

Learning Experiences!

So the new novella has been out for three whole days now, and I have learned a few things, which I will inflict on you in case any of you have ever thought of self-publishing, or in case you already self-publish and want to point and laugh at someone else (or perhaps nod knowingly and reach for the bottle.)

Doing this right is hard.

I have burst into tears once, sulked twice, screamed multiple times, ran out of a coffee shop like my ass was on fire and my head was catching, and uploaded at least six versions to Smashwords.

We shall not number the hard drinks consumed, for yea verily, the path of the author is strewn with dying liver cells.

It may be easier with practice (I hope) or for some other people (I suspect) but seriously, every typo has filled me with burning shame before my ancestors, and I know for a fact some of my ancestors thought “wash” was spelled with an R.

Which leads me to the second point–oh my god, so many errors!

And I was GOOD! I hired a copyeditor and she is a very good copyeditor and caught hundreds of them before they could do more than squirm and hiss on the page! But two people going over something with a fine-toothed comb doesn’t cause perfection.

Now, I sort of suspected that, because hell, there are typos in the Dragonbreath books—the paperback version of Book One has two About the Author pages facing each other, and a whole print run of Digger 2 went out missing a page. So even meticulous professional publications go out with typos. I expected that.

I did not expect how mortified I would be by each one–oh god oh god everybody can see this they will see I am an unprofessional hack who didn’t care enough to go over it enough times to fix it oh god oh god the goblins deserve better than to have me for an author oh god-–and never mind that we DID go over it. (I take all the blame—a couple of the typos were even knock-ons from me having fixed other ones she caught in the final draft!)

This experience actually makes me cringe a bit because “typo-ridden” is so commonly thrown around as one of the big problems with much self-published work and I thought “Ha! I shall be better than this!” and then, oh god, like ten errors. Each one a small, mistyped dagger in my heart.

So, I’m probably less judgy now. That’s probably good. I guess. Or at least I have judged myself.

It’s like being Catholic AND an editor. God help us all.

I have also learned that if I do this again, the day it comes out is a total loss. No work will be done. It will be all putting out fires and tearing out hair. I will make a note of it.

Now, the good bits!

The nice thing about this is how nice everyone has been—y’all have been wonderful about reporting errors without going “Write it better next time, jackass!”

The other nice thing is that it’s fixable. I admit, I did not expect how many updates I’d have to do–I THINK I just sent out the last set, which had an exhaustive list of teeny changes—THANK YOU, DRAGONLADY!—but of course someone could turn up tomorrow and say “Yeah, so, that last update did something weird and Sings-to-Trees is now named “Craw-bob” and all the scenes with the trolls have been replaced with an ad for Liquid Plumber.” And that would be bad.

One nice thing—it earned out quickly and is now making money. (I had about $500 worth of expenses.) So in that regard, it’s a great success–we’re well over 300 copies, which is respectable for three days of self-publishing under a pen-name in a weird little niche market (and yes, I did just call you guys a weird little niche market, but I mean it in the nicest possible sense.) I have high hopes that it’ll crack a thousand. (And we were actually in the top 20 epic fantasy on Kindle for a bit there, so that was neat! Obviously George RR Martin was most of the other 19…)

That said, obviously I’m not throwing over Dragonbreath tomorrow–I mean, Book One is cruising towards the 200K mark at a good clip. Different worlds entirely.

However, it’s actually really gratifying to get this weird little story out there. (Heck, it’s just nice to write for grown-ups again—I am good at writing for kids, but I do occasionally want to start throwing corpses around.)* No, it’s not a huge sum of money (although a few thousand dollars and a long tail is absolutely nothing to sneeze at–a novella that pays the rent for two months and buys me occasional coffee is VERY SUCCESSFUL compared to a novella that lives on my hard-drive and moulders!) but finally I’ve inflicted the goblins on other people. And mostly people seem pleased with it. And that’s pretty cool.

So thank you all for being so patient with the typos and my flailing around like a panicked bird on a window-pane. I hope to do this again soon!

Like…err…next year or something.

Anyway, latest version available at:

Smashwords

Amazon

and still hoping that it will hit iBooks/B&N/Kobo at some point. (If you can’t wait, Smashwords has many formats available, it’s just a matter of delivery to various devices.)

 

*Somewhere, my editor just twitched and isn’t sure why.

Like A Real Author With Pants

Soooo….let’s just sweep the chaos of the last twenty-four hours aside for the moment…

Hi, internet! I have a new novella out! It is live and there are no more horrifying errors with chapter duplication! You should read it!

On Smashwords

On Amazon

It will propagate out to other sites when Smashwords gets around to it, so Nook, Kobo, and (god willing) iBooks versions will be coming soon. (Watch this space! Or Twitter!) If you’re impatient, however, you can get an ePub version on Smashwords that will work just fine on an iPad. (Easiest way is to either buy it and e-mail it to yourself, or buy it using the iPad.)

Now, as to what the story is about…well, it’s about goblins. And Sings-to-Trees the elf. (Remember him? This takes place before the Elf/Orc thing, though.)

This is a small epic fantasy, if that makes any sense. It is fun. And because I am starting to think such things need warnings, this story will not force you into painful personal growth, it will not tear your heart out, it will not unmake you. These characters are hopefully people you’ll want to spend a few hours with and maybe come back to occasionally when the world is being unkind…that’s all.

There is nothing wrong with those other things and the world is better for them existing, but sometimes I just want a fun little book with goblins and kittens and elven veterinarians, so that’s what I wrote.

Thank you to various parties who jumped on the various bugs from yesterday–you were all gracious and awesome and helpful. (And again, if you have downloaded a Kindle version before midnight, it may have the chapter bug–download the update, should be all good. Sorry for the inconvenience–I’m new to this!) As always, my readers are the coolest ever about being dragged along the Learning Curve with me.

I will post more about Horrifying Learning Experiences another day. Until then…well, hey, novella! And if it does well, and as the chaos of yesterday fades in memory, perhaps there will be more.

Thank you to everyone who bought a copy–you rock!

And–oh, yeah, I’m supposed to do this marketing thing (sorry, I’m bad at it.) If you have a review site and would like a review copy for the reviewing, shoot me an e-mail at ursulav (at) gmail.com with a link to the site and I will happily send you a free copy!

Is that everything? Am I doing this right?

ETA: Ah, right–two quick things! Kindle version on Amazon is arguably better than Kindle version on Smashwords, due to Smashwords Meatgrinder formatting, which hates things like “Table of Contents.” However, other than some slight centering offsets, it shouldn’t be too disruptive to read either version.

I arguably make about the same amount of money either way, so pick whichever one you like if that’s one of your concerns–if you don’t want to support The Evil River, I quite understand!

One Down…

I spent today in the bowels of the beast, by which I mean Amazon and Smashwords. Most of the Amazon time was spent trying to figure out how I tell it that I don’t want to be exclusive to Kindle and just hitting “Save” until it told me it was in review and I couldn’t poke anything any more. I guess that’s how that works.

Theoretically the Goblin novella is up on Smashwords. I am looking at it and it looks like a thing that is up there.

I am frightened.

So as I understand it, Smashwords is mulling it over now and I guess they decide whether or not it meets the standards for kicking out to iBooks (which is the major reason to go through Smashwords at all) and I have no idea how long that takes.

Meanwhile, Amazon is also mulling it over and theoretically it will be up in about twelve hours or so.

And….err….that’s what I have done.

THIS IS TERRIFYING AND I’M COLD AND ALONE AND THERE ARE WOLVES SOMEONE HOLD ME OR AT LEAST GIVE THE WOLVES A CHEW TOY BECAUSE THE ONE ON THE LEFT IS GIVING ME A WEIRD LOOK

So I guess that’s me having self-published the first T. Kingfisher book.

Um.

So that’s that?

Anyway, if Smashwords is the thing you use, I guess you can buy a copy here. And I will try and do a big self-confident LOOK AT MY SHINY NEW BOOK RELEASE thing like a real author who wears pants and everything when all the formats are up and running.  (Please do not ask for an ETA. I don’t know either. I am starting to think this was all madness.)

ETA: It thinks it is live on Amazon, but in a horrifying twist of fate, the front end is live and buyable, while the backend thinks it hasn’t been published yet, so I can’t fix the big format bug that duplicates a chapter! ARRRRRRRGHGHH! If you bought it in the last few minutes, um…I’m very sorry. It will be fixed as soon as Amazon lets me!

WOLVES

(Incidentally, if you find any freakish formatting errors that destroy the reading experience, PLEASE tell me here, and I’ll do what I can. I can’t fix presentation on some of the weirder formats (Sony e-readers, looking in your direction!) but this is the sort of thing I’d like to know!)

ETA: AAAAARRGHGGHHHHH!  If you bought it before, um, 2:30, you’ll need to get the new version, because GODDAMN SCRIVENER DIE IN A FIRE duplicated a chapter. *sobbing*

HateHATEHATEhateALSOHATE

I have a shiny edited file of the Goblin novella in my hot little hand.

I am trying to format it for self-pub.

I HATE EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER LIVED AND I’M NOT FEELING GREAT ABOUT FUTURE GENERATIONS EITHER

I stripped everything out in a text editor and then Kevin said “Hey, you can do that much easier in Scrivener and it will compile it to ePub” and then we spent four hours figuring out how to do that and then I went to Smashwords and OH LOOK, THEY ONLY TAKE WORD DOCS.

So I spent the last two hours formatting the Word doc to go into Smashwords. Will it work? I don’t know. I’ll find out tomorrow, I guess.

I feel it is important to know how to do this so that I can either do it myself in the future or farm it out with a clear conscience forevermore. This is important. This is building character.

And at the moment, I would kinda like to set the entire Internet on fire and sow the ashes with salt and bleach and vinegar and maybe some Round-Up.

The next person who says that self-pub lets you have more control gets my laptop in their teeth. I have total control over this file, and you know what? IT SUCKS ALL THE ASS IN THE WORLD.

*muffled sobbing into gin bottle*

Goblin Novella cover rough!

So this is my initial rough for the cover of the Goblin Novella.

It’s got a white background. That’s the bit that I am wavering most on.

A) The art looks best on white. So if I want to use this art, at least a chunk of it has to be white.

B) Very few trade book covers are white.

C) That either means it will stand out or look HORRIBLY AMATEURISH.

D) I don’t know which.

E) If I ever do a sequel, it is suggested that it have the same format, which is totally doable.

F) Cover art is mostly to show people that this is the kind of book they will like, not to make Deathless Art For The Ages.

G) Still don’t know if this is the way to go.

H) Thoughts appreciated.

cover2