Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Indiegogo: Week 2

Well, this week things slowed down, but donations are still coming in! Editing is 50% funded (technically about 60%, with direct donations)!

Being a Canadian citizen with the majority of my friends and family living in Canada, I don't find this terribly surprising that over 75% of the money donated comes from Canadians.

With over 3000 confirmed views on my ads, a click through rate of roughly 10% is pretty good.

I'm wondering if there's anything I could do differently to sell all those Americans on my writing. The vast majority of views comes from the US, so I'm wondering if any of my American friends can give me some sage advice on what Americans like. I mean aside from guns, flag-waving, and fast food.

I think I just answered my own question as to why I'm not getting bites from the US.

Pssst. There's an arena battle to the death in book 3... two, actually. Plenty of violence and mayhem. Magical explosions, aerial dragon combat, undead armies, cunning demons, and lots of plot twists.

I need more pictures of explosions on the Indiegogo. Yeah... cool guys don't look at explosions. Thomas would be walking away from a huge fiery burst.

Maybe Sarentha wolfing down some magical gruel.

And a scantily clad Eliza waving a big old House of Winston flag. With a big gnomish musket.

Except I'm not going to sell out. And therein lies my problem with fundraising: my utter inability to go mainstream.

But when I say something like, "If you can kick in a buck, that would help a lot!" I mean it! Look at those views. If everyone who has looked at the Indiegogo pitched in $1, that's 40%. I'd be looking at being 100% funded, and shooting for stretch goal character cards! If advertising worked, and everyone who saw my ads pitched in, I'd run out of characters to make cards for! So don't underestimate the power of $1 (Plus, unlike most fundraisers, I'm giving you more than just a quick "thanks for donating!" with your $1. You get short stories and a novella!).

Of course that's all very tongue in cheek. I'm well aware I'm not entitled to donations. I'm extremely grateful for everything people have done for my campaign thus far! This is just some idle head scratching. 

If after all this ridiculousness you're still interested in donating, here's the link.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: The Fifth House by Andy Goldman

The Fifth House, by Andy Goldman

Genre: Science Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

I loved everything about this book.

Like the first book, the pacing is excellent, but unlike the first book there are two first person points of view. It took a bit of getting used to in the first couple chapters, but once I got into the rhythm, it flowed beautifully. Every section is left on a mini-cliffhanger, making you turn the page to see what happens next.

I was doing a final proof-read for the book, and told Andy I would have it back to him in three weeks. It only took me one.

The way themes re-emerged from the first book to be bigger and badder than before was excellent. The voices of the two main characters were distinct. I found myself liking Allin's humour more than Tyena's straight shooting attitude, but both were well written.

The action was well done, with enough description to paint a picture in my mind without it being laborious and slow.

The villains are excellent. At one point I was actually sympathetic to their cause, but I got over it. They do have my new favourite creature on their side, though - the weresquid. I don't know where Andy gets the ideas for some of his mad creations, but they're amazing!

This book is a "must read," and I'm looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Amazing week!

After last week's diary entry, it's nice to have so much go right.

Happiness is a box of books
First, the box of books showed up earlier than I anticipated. They got here so fast I received the books before I got the e-mail from CreateSpace that they had shipped! Do they use teleporters or something?

I've been happily signing books and preparing them for shipping. I even had a friend drop by my house to pick up his own copy. If you'd like a signed copy from me, I'm selling them for $20 + shipping. Just let me know!

Second, I'm continuing to plug away at my Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the third book. I'm hopeful that I'll at least get the editing covered. All profits made from sales of A Wizard's Gambit are going to go toward bringing out A Hero's Birth, too, since I don't foresee raising $1800. Unless...

Third, I'm going to be on TV! Rogers hosts a show called Inside Guelph that looks at what's happening in and around Guelph. I've signed up for a May 5th time slot, and they're interested in the fundraising campaign by the sounds of their e-mail. So if I can work the local indie author angle, I just might hit my targets. Even if I don't, it's exciting to get the chance to talk about my writing on TV! My segment will air on May 8th at noon.

Fourth, a friend donated a website domain to my wife and I. He's been working away at it, and I'm so thankful. +Paige Toxopeus and I have been talking about getting a website for our business for a while, but just hadn't gotten around to it. We both use blogs, and I have a wordpress site, but it will be nice to have our own space with a quick and easy domain name.

Fifth, and this one I need to look into more still, but I might be going for a PhD. My boss has been asking me if I'd be interested for years, but I never thought we could afford it. In a budget meeting, the deans suggested there are ways to maintain my rate of pay, give me tuition waivers, and let me work toward my PhD. Win-win-win! I've basically been doing the work of PhD students over my years of employment, so it won't be a huge change to what I already do. But I'll be working towards a new degree that will help me advance my career. It might slow down my indie writing, but I won't be starting the PhD until fall of 2016 anyway, since registration is already closed for this fall. So I'll definitely get A Hero's Birth finished. Then... we'll see. With a PhD, I might not have to worry about funding for future books! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Indiegogo: Week 1

Well, my Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for editing and cover art has gotten off to a quick start.

With more than three weeks left to go, I'm already up to 40% funded! I know there are a few people I've spoken with who want to contribute when they're able, and I'm just so grateful. Your generosity has been humbling, and I hope you will all enjoy this first leg of this epic journey!

I've been working at figuring out the path the entire story will one day take, and I can confirm I have enough material to make this Empire's Foundation trilogy, a four book Strongblade Siblings series, and another trilogy that is unnamed.

For those of you in the Guelph area, I realized that the costs of the perks + shipping + $5 donation are unreasonable on the Indiegogo. If you're nearby and would like to pick up your order, please ask me what the cost will be for the perk you would like, minus the shipping. You can donate without choosing a perk, and I'll handle the rest!

 Additionally, for those who feel uncomfortable donating online (I assure you your credit card/PayPal information is secure through Indiegogo), I will update a secondary donation total that I'll manually add to the actual donation shown by Indiegogo. I would strongly prefer direct donations using the Indiegogo system because reaching my goal of $1000 will reduce the fees I pay, but I understand some people don't/won't trust technology.

Stretch goals for the character cards will be based on the combined total of Indiegogo donations and direct donations. So even if I don't succeed with the campaign, there may be cards unlocked.

Announcments of meeting major milestones will still be based on the Indiegogo donations, because it's 100% donations there that will ensure as much of the donation money comes back to me as possible!

And now for the part that's probably the most interesting to fellow indie authors who are thinking about crowd funding...

A warning.

I have had many attempts to contact me and get promotion for my Indiegogo campaign. A quick search on the first few showed that they were all scams (not surprising). If you're doing an Indiegogo campaign, DO NOT pay for these outside advertising services, as tempting as it may sound to get additional coverage and "guarantee" your project will be funded. They don't work. 

The numbers.

All donations received have been from people I know. Despite having a massive number of people reached, there have been no "random" donations.

Some of the donors are new readers (yay!), and some are returning after helping with my previous Indiegogo (thanks for the continued support!), but my hopes of coming up with some viral ads to generate support are waning.

For instance... Bob...

Look at all those +1's, shares, and comments. This post was wildly successful on Google+, in terms of reach.

Darth Daughter...

This one did moderately well in my stream, with some +1's, and better with 47 +1's in the Star Wars community. On Facebook the post reached over 2300 people. That is huge. But no bites. As that's my favourite picture and strongest pull, I was hoping for something out of that one.

As usual, it's the personal communications that work. Random advertising just doesn't seem to do anything at all, even when it's a popular ad that is seen by thousands.

It's disheartening, for sure, but I'm going to keep plugging away at it and hope for the best. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this first week such a huge success! Here's hoping week 2 will be just as awesome!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bad week

I try to avoid things outside of my writing for this blog, but this week was brutal. My daughter and I caught a stomach bug early in the week, and I slept through most of Monday. Then my wife got it, and I worked from home one day to help take care of our son while she tried to sleep it off.

There was a glitch in the financial reporting system at work, resulting in us suddenly realizing we had $35,000 less than we thought we had. This means if we don't find funding this summer, I might have to find a new job for the fall, which would really suck because I love my job, and there aren't a lot around this area that are a good fit. I could work in Toronto, but that commute... terrible.

So aside from running my Indiegogo campaign, which required minimal effort since I'd set up a lot of stuff in advance, I haven't done much on the writing front. This week beat the hell out of me.

But there is a bright spot shining through the darkness, as there so often is. The Indiegogo campaign is at 28% after just a few days! Thanks again to everyone who has donated and shared the campaign.

I've ordered some paperback copies of A Wizard's Gambit to sign for those who have told me they want a copy, plus a few extras to donate to libraries and put in local book stores.  If you want me to sign one for you, it's not too late!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Indiegogo: A Hero's Birth

It begins!
 I've cleared everything else off my plate. A Wizard's Gambit is launched, Demon Invasion is off for editing, I beta read a novella, and proof read a novel.

Time to roll up my sleeves and dive into writing the final installment in the Empire's Foundation trilogy, A Hero's Birth.

I'm over half way through writing the first draft, so I've fired up a one-month Indiegogo campaign to raise money for editing and cover art. Bare bones, I need $1000 to pay for the developmental editing. I raised that much with my previous Indiegogo campaign, so I hope I can do it again for the final book!

But wait, that's not all!
I do have a stretch goal of an additional $800 to pay for the cover art. For every $100 over $1000 that I raise, I will be bringing out bonus character cards that I'll include for everyone who orders a physical perk. I got Harvey to do up a card in advance so backers know what to expect.

When 750 years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmm?
Should I somehow raise more than $1800, there will be an additional character card added for every $100. I've got a huge list of characters I'd like to see brought to life, so I'm not even sure what the upper limit would be for fundraising before I ran out of characters to draw.

"But why would you need more than $1800 you greedy pig!?"

Well, this time around there are a lot of physical perks, and those are going to eat up some (most) of the donations. I'm setting the price for each item at Item Cost + Estimated Shipping + $5 donation. So say everyone orders mugs at $35 each. If 52 people get mugs, making the donation $1820, I've only actually raised $260. Now, I get bulk order discounts, so the cost of the mugs go down as more people order them, from $14/mug to $10.50 for an order of 50 mugs, so that donation level would be higher, but it still won't be the full amount.

I want one of these mugs!
Honestly, I anticipate the digital books to be the most popular, and those have no shipping cost. It's more of a pre-order for the final book, and 100% of those donations go to me (minus fees paid to Indiegogo).

Yes, I will cheer if I hit $1000, or $1800. No doubt about it. Those donation levels will go a long way to helping me publish the book. I'm anticipating having to cover some of the costs myself. But this campaign will allow me to defray some of the costs, and give people a chance to pre-order, or even get some pretty great looking stuff!

However you want to help out, whether it's donating directly, or sharing news of my fundraiser, I appreciate it!