The Lunara Series

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Self-publishing is better than traditional publishing for new take

Before I released my first book, Lunara: Seth and Chloe, I had to decide if I wanted to traditional publish or self-publish. Traditional publishing was always my thought when I wrote my books, but I never had any visions of anyone ever reading them in a mass scale. I did send my manuscript to a few of the publishers and received a cookie-cutter letter back. I hadn't edited the book however and I thought it was being rejected because it wasn't up to their standards. Immediately, I found an editor, and for free, he suggested a few minor tweaks to the books, which I'll admit, were good and I redid some it.

I still had a nagging feeling the book wasn't good enough for the traditional publishers so I paid a good sum to have it edited and polished. After a half dozen weeks, I received my final version of the book and I was ready to resend it. But after I read it and saw how great it looked, I hesitated sending it. I even had my envelopes labeled and ready to go. My first thought there a way for me to cut out the wait to market? I scoffed at the idea because I had grown up thinking every book needs a publisher. So I sent a couple letters out. Back came the canned replies and they said they would evaluate it but it could be a six to eighteen months. TOO LONG. It was time for me to take action and choose my destiny.

I self-published a month later and are some observations about why it was a better choice:

1) Control. My number one reason for self-publishing is the control I have over every aspect of the book. I get to approve the final version, I get to develop the cover and approve it, and finally, I don't have anyone telling me what is best for my series. I'm the creator so I probably know how to best present my series.

2) Greater Revenue. I never published to make money with the series, but I would like to repay the debts I incur with publishing a book. My main goal is to present my writings to everyone and share my visions of a great world.  I've read that trad. published writers get between 7-15% royalties....unless you're a super star like Stephan King. Self-publishing can generate between 35% to 80% royalties...that is a gigantic difference.

3) Almost Equal Marketing. Ask any self-published writer and their number one complaint is the unending promoing of your book or series. You have to do it all, all the time. Well, guess what, if you're a new writer for a traditional publisher you get a press release and maybe a few book signings and some ads on their websites for about a month. Then if you don't tell hundreds of books and become an instant star, you're in the same boat as a self publisher, you have to sell you own book at 7-15% royalties plus you have to buy your books from the publisher. Nothing like being left in the cold. I'd rather fail myself than rely on someone else to keep me from failing.

4) Doubts. I wrote a previous blog about this but a big challenge with self-publishing is the stigma among readers about purchasing an unknown author and worse, a self-published writer. Lots of self-publishing is poorly edited or rejected for a reason. I decided to overcome this by offering the first book in the series for free. I thought if someone gave my series a shot, they would enjoy the rest for a price. This strategy has proved to be a winner as all sorts of scifi and non-scifi readers have enjoyed my freebie ebook, SETH AND CHLOE. Its one of the more challenging things for indies and I long for the maturation of self-publishing when the quality can rise to the top.

5) Pricing. I control the price of my book. Eliminated is the overhead of the traditional publisher. I price my books at $.99 and $2.99 and eliminate the markup readers pay for a traditional book. Readers are basically paying an extra $5 to $10 for the traditional publishers to pay for editors, marketers for the bigger authors, admins, and distributors. My book prices pay the author and my selling service (amazon, barnes and noble, etc.). From me, readers get the same quality for a third of the price.

I'll keeping adding to the list as my experience evolves. There are more great reasons by the day and I will always be glad I self-published over relying on someone else to get my books to the world. Its been fun every second (expect some of the shameful promos). If my series becomes big enough and a traditional publisher come calling, maybe I'll listen, but giving up my creative control would be extremely hard at this point.

Enjoy my series and give an indie author a chance. You might be surprised.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lunara: The Legacy Duology - Alexandria I & II released

I want to announce the release of three Lunara series books. Two original books and one compilation book containing those two books.

Lunara: The Legacy Duology (2 books in ONE)

Lunara: Alexandria I & II (The Legacy Duology split into two books)

As always, the first book in the Lunara series is FREE: 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A quick way to add ~10% sales to your series

As part of my unending search for ways to market my book, I've discovered an quick way to increase sales by 10% (those are my results, yours may vary) for the rest of my series. Simply, insert a hyperlink into your Amazon books linking your other Amazon books. This really only works for Amazon as Smashwords doesn't allow hyperlinks.

You must have multiple books** in your series in order to do this because it a trickle down sales effect. Once your readers read and like your initial book, they'll want an easy way to get more. That is the reason it works, a subsection of your sales want the easy way to get it so having the link in your books is a perfect way to get your next book(s) almost instantly.

** special note: if you only have one book in your series, I recommend you partner with another author with similiar sales and genre and swap links.

1) First backup your eBook.
2) Highlight the text you wish to hyperlink. I create an "other books in my series" page in all my books.
3) Right-click and select hyperlink.
4) Enter the Amazon hyperlink to your book in the Address field and hit OK.
5) Upload your new copy to Amazon. All books sold from this point forward will contain the link.

To see a live example, download a free copy of LUNARA: SETH AND CHLOE from Amazon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Alexandria I & II - A sneak preview of the 4th and 5th books in the Lunara series.

The editor has received my final version of Alexandria I & II and I couldn't be more excited about an upcoming book release than this duology. The Legacy Duology will mark the moment my Original Trilogy becomes a part of a saga and not a single story arc trilogy. Great accomplishment for an indie like me.

Potential Original Trilogy spoilers (but mostly not):
Alexandria I & II takes place twenty years after the Great War ended. It follows the burgeoning adulthood of the daughter of Seth and Chloe (two of my original main characters), Alexandria. She has been living with the prejudices of her father's crimes from twenty years ago. She lives on Lunara, where Parker McCloud is the chief administrator of the colony, and must witness the adulation that is bestowed on her best friends Emily McCloud, Harry Corvo, and Adol Buckley. All of whom are children of heroes from the Great War. She, on the other hand, must face the harsh realities of being the daughter of a war criminal. Using her mother's dying wishes, she embarks on an adventure where she attempts to learn the real gift her parents have given her. Interwoven within her adventure are the adventures of Emily, Harry, and Adol who must live up to a hero's name their parents earned for their families.

Alexandria I & II is a mix of new characters and old characters from the Original Trilogy. It is fresh new adventure, while keeping the basis and strong history of the first adventures of the crew of the Protector. I'm confident this is my best effort yet and hope everyone will enjoy it.

I have a tentative release date of early August 2012. Please sign up here to get a reminder email when I do release it.

Purchase the Original Trilogy at Amazon or in other formats here to get a head start on Alexandria I & II's release.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My First Year as an Indie Author

Around May 1st, I'll enter my second year as an indie author. I thought readers and fellow writers might like to hear the tale of a total newb.

I'm the author of the Lunara series. A three book sci-fi trilogy chronicling the adventures of the crew of the Protector as they fight for freedom on the Moon and Mars. I started writing the series way back in 2002 and have published three books, almost published two books, and outlined three more. I finally found the courage to release the books in May of 2011.

The Adventure Begins
In March of 2011, I got my first book, SETH AND CHLOE, back from the editor and it was shiny and new. I had visions of great success wrapped up in the email I received. Quickly, I unwrapped it and fired the manuscript off to several agencies and publishers trying to hook one. After two months and several canned denials, I was beginning to rethink how I should sell the series. I don't have ANY connections to the publishing world. I don't even know the guy who publishes the suburb newsletter. I decided, in a matter of a few days in mid-April, that I would never get published because I didn't know anyone. I figure its a long shot to get published and a lottery tickets chance if I don't know anybody.

I researched the self-publishing craze like a madman for a week solid. I found out about KDP, Pubit, and smashwords and narrowed my eBook choices down to them. Createspace was really my only Print choice so I scrapped the rest and went with them.

The Release
I'm a computer guy and after learning how to edit my manuscript to ePub and Mobi formats, I tested and formatted my book to near professional quality. Only one big issue remained, a cover! I can draw a passable stick man but after that, it is like a two year old drunk with a pen. I went on (free plug) and found the best cover guy on the site. He, along with several other talented designers, created a cover and I chose his (It is at the top of this page and he created all my covers). I was really pleased with my cover for SETH AND CHLOE and I knew my cover would grab a few peoples attention and wouldn't turn anyone off to the book.

Now, I can't deny, like anyone else who publishes books, releases music, or creates an app, that I envisioned a grandiose reception to my series. I was the #1 best seller in under a month. But I am realist at heart and my 'real' goal was to sell one book to one mom and wife don't count. Now, I don't need to sell the books for fame or money or a career. I have a solid job and I have a supporting family. I write for fun and to relieve stress. I don't need to be a writer to pay the rent (thank the heavens!). This contributed to my confidence that self-publishing was the way to go for me. I had a professionally edited book and the means to get it on amazon.

Something nagged me still. What if my book was awful and unreadable? My wife said it was good. My editor (who I pay) said it was enjoyable to work on and was sellable to a publisher. But family and the guy you pay aren't the best critics. I needed an outsider but again, I knew NO ONE.  I bit the bullet and would publish anyways. What is the worse that can happen? You're awful and no one reads it.  No one would read it if I kept it on my computer for 8 more years.  I did that from 2002 to 2010, lived in fear of how bad it was. I just did it for fun. How could it be good?

Towards the end of April/early May, I had the cover and the manuscript. I went to KDP(amazon's kindle direct publisher) and Createspace and submitted the files for publication.  BLAMMO! In under 18 hours, I was live and ready to sell.  The first thing I did was buy a copy for myself.  Three reasons, 1) I wanted to check the delivered formatting (check), 2) I wanted to see how KDP reported sales (check), and 3) I wanted a sale (sorta check).

Then I waited three days for the action to begin.  No one bought it.

I released it on Smashwords (apple, kobo, etc) and  No one bought it.

"How are you going to market you book?"  This is like asking an indie author how they would like their colonoscopy done. Marketing your book is the single worse experience a person can go through.  At least to a regular old American Joe with little concerns but his own daily life. Why can't everyone just read my book?! Then reality hits. Because you need to sell it.

I started my marketing with the regular google searches for book forums and blogs. I entered several of these forums and found in big bold print: "NO SELF PROMOTION OR WE WILL DROP KICK YOU."  Apparently, I'm not the first one to think of this idea, nor the thousandth or ten thousandth. So I fell in line and submitted my book to the appropriate forums. No one bought it.

My First Review
My first time, such a exciting yet painful experience. I had been submitting my book for review to fifty or so sites and I finally got someone to grab on and give it a chance. Bonnie at was kind enough to give me a review. She doesn't generally read sci-fi so I was a bit skeptical of how she would receive it. I mailed her a print copy (all the way to Australia) and waited.  It took three weeks, but she finally replied that she was going to post it to her site and wanted an author interview. I gave her the interview and she posted her fantastic review. I received a 4/5 stars with a wonderful review. Now, 4/5 to me was like getting a 110 out of 5. I was really excited that a non-scifi fan liked and would even recommend the book to other non-scifi fans. This gave me a jolt. A stranger had given me a good review of my work. I felt like a real author for the first time and not some pretender.

My first "real" sale
I can't really say when my first real sale was, but it was sometime in June of 2011. I had been pushing my book on twitter a bit, on the forums, and on some amazon forums. I would check my KDP account daily as I had been giving away FREE books to some people. I noticed that I registered a sale. I pumped my fist like Tiger Woods used to do. Finally! Maybe my pestering has brought someone to their knees. I wish I could thank the person who bought the first book, but amazon doesn't release that info for good reason. (Thanks if you are reading...and probably don't know.)

This sale energized my belief in the series. Yes, one sale did it. If one person can find it, so can hundreds more. I just need to find the formula.

The Lull
I decided at that point to pony up the thousands of dollars to get my two other books edited. I believe a properly edited book is more important than anything.  You can get someone to proofread it but only a pro can make it a near professional book...but that philosophy is for another post. I submitted the second book, GWEN AND EAMONN, to my editor and had to wait a few months to get it finished.  This was in September and I would get it mid-October.

From July to November, I would call this period my lull. I continued my futile marketing efforts of google ads, facebook ads, and forum postings. I sold approximately 1.5 books a week over those four months. Through the purchases and free books, I received seven to ten reviews on goodreads and a few on amazon. A steady mix of 4s and 5s, which encouraged me. Still I was missing something in the marketing.

Kindle Select
I released my 2nd book at the start of November of 2011.  I sold a few more SETH AND CHLOE at the time, but nothing major. Perhaps five more than usual.

In December, I received an email from Amazon mentioning a new select program where you could offer your book exclusive to amazon select members and also get a few FREE days. I thought that since I was getting 90% of my sales from amazon anyways, why not submit my books to amazon exclusively and maybe get a bump in sales.  I had a conspiracy worked out that amazon might feature these books more than non-select books. So I did it.

I offered my first of five free days without promo help and gave away 350 free books.  I was very pleased with this. I got no sales money, but I did get three hundred potential mouths to talk about my book (I am not naive...there is a segment of kindle users who just collect free books so I always divide my potential readers in half when I see a FREE total).

What I wasn't expecting was that I would sell (for money) 20 books the next day for real cash money.  And two weeks after that, GWEN AND EAMONN got some action with 10 books sold.

I used my four remaining free days over a three week spread until the end of my 90 days in the select program. Each time learning a better way to give way the free books. I managed to sell MORE and MORE books of SETH AND CHLOE and GWEN AND EAMONN with each successive days. My formula was starting to come into focus.

The release of PARKER AND THE PROTECTOR was a turning point in the LUNARA series. I had an entire trilogy (story arc) for people to read. I could market it as such and it would allow readers to purchase a chain of books from me. P&P was released in late February 2012 and I had a final BLOWOUT free select day on March 1st. I had four different blogs kind enough to promo my book for free. I exploded in FREE books of S&C and over the next two weeks I chained together sales of G&E and P&P.

By the end of my select experience, I had risen my "real" sales in each month from Decemeber to March, minimum of doubling each month. I owe a huge thanks to Amazon for their program and to the blogs for promoting me.

But KDP Select wasn't the biggest reason I sold my books....

My Twitter friends
Lets flash back to November, I read a few "How-To Market your eBook" blogs and books. They were of little help because they replied on outlandish or outdated ideas. One write-up told the author to write a viral blog where-by you can drive traffic to your blog and thus people will buy your book. WHAT! If I could write a viral blog at will, I would be on Madison avenue or I just would write a viral book. Blah.

The best idea I discovered in my searches was just being friends with everyone on twitter. Now, I'm an introvert by nature so it isn't easy for me to make friends. But the more I exchanged my ideas, my thoughts, my frustrations, my successes, my life stories, the more friends on twitter I received. I would call them followers but those are faceless beings. I'm talking about good honest friends. I have several of them that I retweet with and ask advice from and talk junk with. My friends would talk about my book with others in tweets which would make people aware of my book. This drove people to me and I would offer them a FREE copy of S&C.  Once they read it, some would want more. I have several loyal readers because of the friends I made on twitter. I would like to think I directed a few readers towards my fellow authors too. Hopefully I have because I am grateful for all my retweets and recommendations. The co-op nature of indie authors is the biggest reason for my first-year progress/success (at least my measure of success).

The Future
With the closing of my first year in the indie publishing world, I consider it a giant success from several points of view. I learned a ton about the indie publishing world. I gained huge confidence in my LUNARA series and its future. I also sold more books than what is considered the average for an indie author, 100. (I read 100 is the average somewhere but I could never find it again.) And lastly, I gained tons of friends who are fighting like I am.

The next year I hope to more than double my book offerings. I have two books almost ready to be released in the fall. I have three more books I want complete by May 2013. I would then have eight books on the market. This would be a terrific milestone for me.

As I said before, I don't release my books for the fame or the money (but it would be nice). I do it as a hobby. I pay for the editing and expect a loss on capital because I enjoy releasing the books. People ask me if I made my money back. Maybe, maybe not. I ask them: Do you make your money back when you go on a three thousand dollar skiing trip? Uh, no. My books are my trips or my log cabin or my boat.

I hope the indie publishing world can improve for its writers in the coming years and more success stories arise. For right now, I love the platform and I will continue to lay my adventures upon it. Here's to year two!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Once again a record month for the Lunara series

Once again, a record month for the LUNARA series. For the 5th straight month, the LUNARA series has outsold the previous month. For March it was particularly great, because last month, I sold more books than I have ever sold combined. I had a fantastic start to the month by getting to #1 in Science Fiction > Adventure on Amazon. I had plenty of great reviews from various blogs and this allowed my series to continue its momentum for practically the whole month.  I also released the ORIGINAL TRILOGY in one book which enabled readers to enjoy the whole series at one time.

It will be tough but I will try to make April the best month in the LUNARA series. I want to thank each of my readers and those particularly who have become friends on my twitter feed (@lunaraseries). I enjoy the feedback and the compliments.

I plan to release ALEXANDRIA I and II in the summer to fall time frame.  I also started the SAGITTARIUS TRILOGY and that should be out spring of 2013. The LUNARA series is in full swing.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

LUNARA made it to #1 on the bestsellers list for Science Fiction Adventure

On March 1st, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who downloaded LUNARA: SETH AND CHLOE. With those downloads, I managed to get my book into the #1 spot on Amazon for all Scifi Adventure novels and #2 in all of Scifi novels. This has propelled Lunara on pace to be the best month for the series to date.

I appreciate everyone who has downloaded, read, and left great compliments on the series. I love every one of them. It makes me work that much harder to publish more books in the series and I hope to have the Legacy Duology out by years end.


New Pricing for LUNARA series Print books

I lowered the prices on all of my print books for the series. You can own the individual series books for $11.11 each OR own the entire series under one cover including a bonus short story for just $22.22. These are the lowest I can make the prices on the print books because of print costs and it is still a great deal. If you were to purchase The Original Trilogy, it would cost less than 3 publishing industry books at $7.99. I hope these new prices will entice print readers to jump into the series.

Plus, you get the pleasure of seeing the back cover, which ebook readers never see. 

SETH AND CHLOE: the first book in the trilogy and the series.
GWEN AND EAMONN: the second book.
PARKER AND THE PROTECTOR: the final book in the trilogy.

THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY: fine printing allows all three books in the Original Trilogy under one cover


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lunara: The Original Trilogy is under one cover.

The entire Lunara trilogy is now under one cover.

including a bonus short story PARKER AT NORTH THARSIS.

With over 1075 print pages and only $2.99, and if you would like a great deal and jumpstart into the series, this is the book for you.

The Original Series is currently available on Amazon with other eBook formats coming soon.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

How to download an Mobi files directly to Kindle app on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch

Downloading a Mobi file to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch couldn't be easier. Here are the easy steps.

1. You must have the kindle app on your device. This is FREE in the App store.
2. On your Apple device, go to the website where the mobi file or eBook is contained.
3. Click on the .mobi file.
4. On the download page, in the upper right corner, you will see Open in Kindle button. Click it.
5. Kindle app will open, the eBook will then open and save to your library.

If you wish to try this out, click on my full-length ebook LUNARA: SETH AND CHLOE and follow the steps.