MonuMentally worn out but EleMentally free!

Tired as Lemur

Tired as Larry the Lemur

I have been quiet haven’t I? In actual fact I’ve been tweeting like mad. And jumping around all over facebook. Telling everybody about how you can currently download EleMental, my first book, for free. This is all in support of my lovely new book, MonuMental.

The internet is a terribly big place and it’s easy to go a little unnoticed no matter all the hooha you’re trying to make.

And why have I been trying to make a hooha?

Because I just discovered that I was about to lose my current allotment of free days for EleMental if I didn’t hurry up and use them. And use them I of course do want to … for promotion.

Yes, EleMental: A First-person Shooter is currently free for download. It ends midnight Thursday, 14 March (US time).

It’s great bringing your book project to completion but it can also wear you out like a … lemur. Well, that lemur above, anyway. Having just come across its picture (and spontaneously named Larry). And that’s why this initial promotion has been rather quick!

Also note – this is absolutely the first time EleMental has been offered for free.

Here are the links for you to head over there right now and grab your copy …

If you’re reading this late and have missed out, don’t worry – this was a rushed affair. I will offer EleMental for free again in a much bigger campaign coming mid-year. (And MonuMental can always be read separately too.)

Yours monuMentally, eleMentally, everyTHINGally …

MonuMental – The final countdown

MonuMental Copy

When you see something behind your reflection in the floor, your instinct is to look up. See what is above.

They looked up. They saw nothing above.

MonuMental

That is the start of Chapter 22 and where I am up to in the final ebook-edit of MonuMental, the follow up to EleMental. Willis, Zeb and Arizona are unable to shutdown a v’game and have been drawn into an immense, silent hall with an endless, polished floor. They can see reflections behind their images in the floor, but there is nothing above them. The start of this scene marks the start of the climactic sequences. Including this chapter, I have sixty pages of final ebook-editing to go – nine chapters.

I should be getting on with it, shouldn’t I?  Instead, I am writing you this message. I’m keen to tell you I’m close!

Writing MonuMental

I wrote this follow up book at the request of my previous publisher, Pier 9 (an imprint of Murdoch Books) and that’s the sole reason the book exists. I love it, I’m proud of it, but without them, I wouldn’t have written it.

When the publishing house (not a small one!) folded in the second half of last year (bought out by Allen and Unwin), I was successful in regaining the publishing rights to EleMental, and so I put aside MonuMental for the time being and re-edited and re-published EleMental as my own ebook.

Months later, and I am at last almost ready to publish the follow up. I have emulated the traditional publishing process wherever I could, engaging a professional editor, an artist and a graphic designer. To do this properly, and make sure I am creating the best ebook I possibly can, is an exhausting process, and so it is good to see that I am now almost there.

I am running a chapter by chapter countdown on my website home page, and tweeting every time I move on to my final edit of the next chapter. I’m into the final countdown! And it feels great.

Stay tuned, and I will let you know when MonuMental is at last available.

***

My Amazon pages:

US

UK

Your chance to get Tracy R Atkins’ ‘Aeternum Ray’ for free!

It’s always good to tell you about worthy promotions from fellow writers, and so I want to tell you about Tracy R Atkins’ debut novel. It’s a huge work. But one thing I must say right up front – apart from being futuristic, this is nothing like my writing. The emphasis here is on hard sci-fi.

That’s not to say it isn’t readable!  It certainly is. If you like your sci-fi hard, or if you like reading something with a difference, this is definitely worth checking out.

It’s written in the form of a futuristic memoir through the letters of someone who has gained immortality. And through this intriguing way of telling a story, Tracy R Atkins leaves no detail out. His examination of how mankind becomes immortal is thorough and his imagination is boggling. You truly can see how it’s possible, perhaps even probable, eventually.

I won’t tell you more, it’s a story best left to the reader to experience slowly, as it gradually reveals itself. In fact, for me, it’s a book for slowly discovering. I am enjoying dipping in and out of it while reading it in parallel with more traditional writing (like Hunger Games!).

If Plato had written sci-fi, this is what it would have looked like. My favorite Line: The medics had seen the same look on countless bodies over the years; the stare of eternity.

Aeternum Ray is free right now, You can get it here at Amazon, and here at Amazon UK.

And if you are reading this late – no problems! Tracy R Atkins has very kindly informed me he has four more free dates for the holiday season. So you can also find Aeternum Ray free (US times) on:

  • Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve
  • Dec. 26 – Boxing Day (why is it called Boxing Day? I prefer the more traditional St Stephen’s Day!)
  • Dec. 28
  • Dec. 30.

All that’s left for me to do is give you Tracy R Atkins’ website for those of you interested. You can find him here.

Going free (before it goes for good)

I have reached the final promotion activity for EleMental: A First-person Shooter. As you know, I have been offering my complete YA novel as four free episodes.  I will be taking down all four episodes of the YA book after this free offer. They will not be available anywhere again after that. Only the complete version will remain.

If you’ve been collecting them, this will be your last chance to make sure you have Level 4. Don’t forget they’re limited editions!

EleMental – A First-person Shooter (Level 4)

YA near future thriller about addiction to virtual reality gaming: one moment, you’re sitting at your desk, the next, you’re battling something that’s half-dinosaur, half-tank. Grab it here: Amazon or Amazon UK.

 

Also currently free: MotherCraft – A Short Story

Leaving home can be hard, leaving the planet, doubly so. Set at The Little River Spacedocks, this near-future short story is based on a much cherished scene from EleMental, removed by the editor because she didn’t feel it fitted with the rest of the story. (Grrr. But actually, I understood what she meant.)  It’s being offered free in support of EleMental – A First-person Shooter (Level 4).

Grab it here: Amazon or Amazon UK

 

 

So what’s next?

Xmas of course! And I’m now well and truly on track to publishing MonuMental, due in early January 2013. From now on, all my posts will be focused on that task. I hope all is going well in your world and you’re looking forward to Xmas as much as I am. Not long now!

 

 

 

New dates for free ebooks!

EleMental: A First-person Shooter – the free programs rolls on!

A big thank you to all those who downloaded (and read!) the Level 1 ebook of my young adult virtual reality thriller, E-FPS1. And an even bigger thank you to those who tweeted messages of appreciation, or ‘liked’ it on Amazon. It was a great success for a book that is still very new.

Well, that’s it for the Level 1 ebook. We’re moving right on to Levels 2 and 3. (But if you missed out and would still like it, see my PS below.)

And remember, come December, none of the Level ebooks will be available at all. I repeat at all. I will be taking them down from Amazon and that will be it.

Quick blast of golden trumpets, please, leading us to the dates …

E-FPS2 – Free!

In case you missed it the first time around, E-FPS2 will be free one final time from Saturday 20 to Sunday 21 October 2012. (This is US time, so if it’s not free when you look, check back later.)

E-FPS2 is Available from Amazon here and Available from Amazon UK here.

Remember: E-FPS2 will no longer be available anywhere after 13 December 2012. You’ll have a collector’s copy. Grab it now for free if you missed out last time.

E-FPS3 – Free!

E-FPS3 will be free for the first time from Saturday 20 through to Sunday 22 October 2012. (This is US time, so if it’s not free when you look, check back later.)

E-FPS3 is Available from Amazon here and Available from Amazon UK here.

And again remember: E-FPS3 will no longer be available anywhere after 14 December 2012. 

PS: Is this the first you’ve heard about the free series, EleMental: A First-person Shooter?

If so, and you’d like to jump on board and be kept up to date, you’re more than welcome to subscribe to the EleMentaList. I’m currently offering my complete novel as a free four-ebook series. We have had Level 1, and are now into Levels 2 and 3. There are four levels in all. Level 1 is still available to purchase but is no longer free. But have no fear, at 99c it’s still very cheap. Cheaper than a glass of coke! But as you know, and this is so, so important, it will no longer be available at all from early December.

E-FPS1 is Available from Amazon here and Available from Amazon UK here.

 

 

When it comes to promoting my book …

Relaunch dates!

EleMental: A First-person Shooter (level 1) will be free through Amazon and Amazon UK on: Friday 5 and Saturday 6 October (US times).

EleMental: A First-person Shooter (level 2) will be free through Amazon and Amazon UK on: Friday 5, Saturday 6 October and Sunday 7 October (US times).

E-FPS1

I’m rubbish at promotion. This is not me whinging,  this is me stating a fact. And something other writers in this new world of indie ebooks must feel as well. To be a successful indie writer, you need a business management degree, you need to be a whiz at IT and you need to have the mindset of a car salesman. Oh, and it also helps if you can write. But that last one only comes later – when you have readers, and they begin to weigh you up, deciding if they would be happy to read another of your books. But you have to get to those readers first!

In truth, this is how traditional publishing houses are anyway (to varying degrees of success – my old one has just sold itself to A&U as of this week). They are businesses after all. Some staff working in publishing houses might be there for the love of books, but a business is there to make as much money as it can from its product. What an attitude! Like when I worked in hospitals in the eighties and patients were treated as daily cost figures indexed against average length of admission rates.

I’m loving the sense of control indie writing is giving me, but there’s a real down side. The expectation that you now must treat your writing as a product to be pushed on to others. If you’ve been an insurance salesman and you’re  now turning your hand to writing ebooks … well, you have a real edge.

E-FPS2

Having spent years as a health social worker, I’m finding it a big ask to suddenly turn around and start acting like I’m a Mad Man advertising executive.  I can’t do it! The number of times people have offered me money for my print edition, and I’ve just given it to them instead. Silly me. And I’m paying for my lack of experience and slack business attitude now. Take a look at any of my ebooks on Amazon and Amazon UK, and it’s hard to believe I have just finished launching the first level of my newly-republished book. The Amazon ‘likes’ are  low, I have one review (good on him, though and thank you), and I daren’t for the life of me check out those much-discussed algorithm sales figures things Amazon so obligingly provides its indie writers. The less I know the better.

It’s such a different way of doing things, this new writing game. Once, it seemed fine that someone from a welfare background also had ambitions as writer. So many of us did. But, today, does that translate to saying that I also hold ambitions to be a salesman on the Internet?

It’s about finding a balance that hopefully works, and to some degree I’m comfortable with. I haven’t found that balance yet, that’s for sure. No amount of happy tweeting and Facebooking made a heap of difference during my launch a few weeks ago. One good thing, I have joined a terrific Internet-based group known as the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and from there have received some advice from experienced indie writers who have managed to find a balance between  high quality writing and self-promotion activities. It’s different for all of us. But it’s good to hear what they have to say.

And so I am starting again. See my new dates above. I’m going to be giving away all four levels of my ebook for free at intervals, starting this weekend. Through ALLi I found out that a whole new industry of free ebook promotion websites has sprung up. The irony is, many won’t agree to promote your book unless you have five, 10 or more Amazon reviews and you’re averaging four to five stars. How am I supposed to get Amazon reviews without their promotion help? (Certainly I won’t be hounding family and friends for reviews, that’s not cool.) It reminds me of the old catch 22 in traditional publishing, where a publisher will only look at manuscripts from agents, and agents will not consider representing you unless you are already published.

I’ve trawled through the many websites and have approached sixteen that look possible. Fingers crossed they’ll include my book in their promotions this weekend.

I’m proud of EleMental: A First-person Shooter. It reviewed well when it came out as a traditional print book (including Book List). And, through this indie ebook phenomenon, I’m rapt that I’ve had the opportunity to give it a makeover (and bring back some of my old ideas, like the title,  that the publisher did not want). I believe in my book. I’m standing by it. Here’s to a better promotion second time around. And to finding a balance I’m happy with.

Back from Bali, Back to writing

The memorial for those who died in the first of the terrible Bali bombings.

I am back from my family holiday and am working hard to re-establish my writing rhythm. Family holidays are important, and this last one especially so as it’s likely to be the last with the whole family – my son and daughter are getting older!

As a writer, you’re never too far away from thoughts about your writing projects. I may have spent some time sitting on a banana lounge by a pool, but let me reassure you I was still very much engaged in chapter revising on my iPad.

And I also read my very first ebook novel. A copy of Hunger Games a friend gave me. Easy reading! But I was amazed at the number of typos. It was like an un-proofed copy. Perhaps it was? My daughter owns the print version and the typos weren’t there. So what’s that all about?

I also read about half of Catherine Ryan Howard’s ebook The Best of Catherine, Caffeinated: Caffeine-Infused Self-Publishing Advice (available here). Catherine Howard is an indie writer who very much wishes she was a traditionally-published writer. She’s from Cork, Ireland (where they say Cark  for Cork). As my parents and my eldest two siblings are all born in Ireland, I feel a sense of connection in a number of ways.

I recently began following her blog for her self-publishing advice and this ebook is essentially a collection of her website posts over the last few years on indie-publishing. It’s marvelous, honest stuff, full of big-picture as well as micro advice, and is engagingly written and super generous. I happily downloaded it as a part of her free launch back in May, but it’s well worth the tiny price tag attached to it, if you’re after self-pub advice.

Catherine Howard lays out her posts as chapters and you can easily dip into them in any order that takes your fancy, or follow through chronologically, as I am doing, as it gives more of a sense of story.

Her passion to be traditionally published is her life’s ambition (well a prominent one, she has a number) and the irony that she is not, and yet clearly can write, makes for an intriguing subtext. One can’t help wonder along with her why she isn’t (as she does dwell on it a few times). She feels – largely based on publishing house feedback – maybe it’s because her non-fiction writing is ‘too niche’. Certainly, travel writing doesn’t appeal to me (perhaps because I want to go there and do that too, but can’t!). Yet it’s interesting to see how many travel writers there are in the global indie writing community. It’s clearly popular.

The view from my window in Ubud, Bali. I kid you not.

Well, enough about Irish Catherine – this has turned into an unintentional review!  I’m confident she will achieve her ambition one day – all she needs is staying power, like the rest of us. But now you know a little about my Bali holiday. Not really. But you know about what I was reading by the pool and on the plane home, crammed in with everybody else (watching Hunger Games on airline iPads).Meanwhile, I am very happy to be back at my desk and ready to throw myself wholeheartedly into promoting EleMental: A First-person Shooter and preparing its follow up.

PS: Having spent some time on Catherine Ryan Howard, I should also link you to her website here, if you are interested in checking out more about what she has to offer.

The Man from Uncle doesn’t want my book

Matt Handbury is Rupert Murdoch’s nephew and the owner of Murdoch Books. He’s known as ‘The Man from Uncle’. I have received two emails from him in recent months. All right, I’m not that important – they were group emails.  The first included a press statement and it went out to all of the ‘MB family’ from the publishing house CEO. (Murdoch Books originally published my book EleMental: A First-person Shooter, through their imprint Pier 9.)

Matt Handbury’s words made for very interesting reading, and it was rather sad in parts: ‘Many staff will lose their jobs …’

They (Matt really, I guess) were planning to cut right back to their core business of stylish books about food and lifestyle. Gone, any idea of publishing more young adult novels like mine!

A lot has changed in the world of publishing books. Once upon a time emerging authors such as myself, finally landing a publishing deal, would receive support to help them gain a foothold. To sum up the world now, I give you another quote from Matt Handbury’s press release. They’re dramatic words:

‘While digital publishing is still a fledgling business in Australia, overseas trends tell us that a tsunami of change is coming our way, as it did the music industry. Certainly the online sale of physical books has already had a devastating effect on Australian bookstore and other retail sales. … Clearly the old model will not suffice into the future. … While there is clearly sadness and pain in letting go of so much and so many people integral to the old way of doing business, not to act now would be to ignore the alternative end result.’

And then I received a second email a few months later. It was blunt. They are entering into merger negotiations with A&U. I guess the cutbacks, though clearly drastic, still weren’t enough.

 

MotherCraft – A short story

MotherCraft – A short story, is leading my charge into indie publishing. It’s available on Amazon here and Amazon UK here. I’m very happy with how it looks.

The tagline: Leaving at any time can be painful. Leaving the planet, doubly so.

My plan was to give it away for free. This in no way means it’s not worth much! I have given to MotherCraft the same rigor I give to all of my writing and the story went down very well with my test readers. However, as it turns out, one is required to put a price tag on ebooks on Amazon. Did you know that? Learning all the time! The lowest price option is 99c. As my wife says, cheaper than a lolly snake!

MotherCraft began life as a deleted scene from my first traditionally-published novel, EleMental–A First-person Shooter (or E-FPS).  If you have read that book, this story describes in greater detail Zeb’s father’s departure from Earth. Obviously, you don’t have to have read E-FPS to enjoy or understand MotherCraft, it stands by itself.

When I was young, my own father often left us for months at a time, working overseas. Some of the feelings I had at the times of his departure have informed this story.

Also included is a sample chapter – ‘The Age of The Pigs’ – from my forthcoming novel MonuMental. The chapter describes a virtual game of the near future.

Happy reading!

PS: here‘s where it is again. And in the UK here.

US Tax Piggy and me

US Tax Piggy (I’m off camera)

This week I learnt that the Australian treaty with the US is not as good as the UK’s, Canada’s or Ireland’s. And no doubt not as good as treaties held by a whole bunch of other countries! If you’re an Australian citizen, like me, the best you can hope for when publishing and selling in the US as a ‘foreign entity’ (actually, I quite like that term, spooky and MiB) is a five per cent US tax on your earnings. Everybody else seems to be getting zero per cent. Confounded curses! These are the kind of not-so-exciting things one learns on the road to indie-publishing.

(What the hell’s that to do with a piggy? Well, to tell you the truth, not much. But isn’t it a great picture?)

I shouldn’t grumble. Things could be a whole lot worse. If you don’t take on the US tax system at all, in all their fine red tapery, the US government will swoop in (like a flying pig) and slap you with a much higher tax rate – 30 per cent!

But the marvellous support offered between indie writers the world over has kicked in and saved the day – at least as far as the horrific 30 per cent is concerned. (They haven’t been able to do anything about Australia’s less-than-great treaty.) If, like me, you’ve been fretting about the US tax system (sad I know), then fret no more. Or at least, fret a little less. For there is much useful advice to be had from David Gaughran’s guest post on Catherine Howard’s website. David Gaughran and Catherine Howard are two Irish Indie writers who have been there, done that, and I’m following their instructions to the letter.

And so far, so good.

For there I was, midnight thye other night, after carefully taking in David Gaughran’s advice, on a call-wait to the infamous IRS (Internal Revenue Service) in Philadelphia, to obtain my Employee Identification Number or EIN as they so catchily call it. I had to sit through roughly thirty minutes of muzak interspersed with a recorded voice informing me of what I already knew extremely well, that I was still waiting. (I so hope my Optus landline contract includes free, or at least cheaper, international calls. Mustn’t tell my wife.)

When I finally got through, it took less than three minutes. The IRS lady on the other end spoke to me in a tone that was a mixture of impatience and boredom, asking me questions that were laced with mystifying business terms. To me anyway. I did my best to answer with a pretence of confidence. But then, wonder of wonders, suddenly she said, ‘Do you have a pen ready?’

And she gave me my very own US tax file number.

This is something that I know from other bloggers can take months and months to obtain via other routes. It’s almost worth tattooing on my forearm. (Nah, not really.)

The next step in the journey of this ‘foreign entity’ toward indie-publishing is a fight with a pernickety-looking tax form known as a w8-BEN. Which, in my head, I must stop pronouncing as ‘Wait Ben’. I promise I won’t write a whole blog post about it.