Kitchener Comic Con 2017

I’m excited to announce that I will be attending Kitchener Comic Con 2017!

I had a lot of fun at the event this year with Judge Brown, who asked me to be his booth babe and split his free table with me. It was such a great experience that I looked into getting a table in Artist Alley for next year. I asked some questions about the online shop selling spots at tables, and the next thing I knew the CEO of the convention had contacted me and offered me a deal.

Specifically, he sent me a meme of Doctor Strange saying, “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain.” And then he locked me in a time loop where he made his offer several times. I really felt like I was Doctor Strange. Or Dormammu. It was weird and fun, all at once!

Right. The deal. So he asked me to go through his online content and edit it for clarity, since I’d had some questions, and so did some other people. In return, I’d get an Artist Alley table.

Yes. Please.

So this will be the second year that I get to go to KCC for free! (Well, technically I’m “working” for it, but cleaning up some website content? That’s fun!) They get easier to understand web content, I get 100% profits at the con. And seeing how well I did last year, I’m really excited to go again to meet some new readers and fans who met me earlier this year. It’s going to be great!


In related news, I asked if it’s at all realistic that we might be done editing A Hero’s Birth in time to have published copies ready for April. That’s only 4 months, which might sound like a long time to those of you who pay your editors, but when my editor is my aunt, and she works on it in her spare time for the payment of “patience” and my unending stream of wonderful things I say to and about her (not required, but I do it anyway because she deserves it for putting up with me!), 4 months is pretty reasonable. Fast, even. Ideally I’d like to do two passes on it, but the second round is always much, much faster than the first because the majority of the big issues are already dealt with. So we shall see.


Writing for A King’s Decree continues. After wrapping up their first major quest last week, this week was spent working on the characters dealing with what they’d been through. I’m using a structure where Grace is always first in the chapter, Sardo is second, and Trai is third. It’s worked out really well that way so far. I wasn’t sure it would, and was willing to change it if I ran into any problems, but it’s been great. This is the first time I’ve had any doubts about it, because Grace … well, she doesn’t ruminate a whole lot on what happened. What’s done is done, time to move on.


And then there’s the “distractions” news … my writing speed will likely suffer somewhat, although the gaming events are only every two weeks, and it’s in the day time when I don’t normally write anyway. But there’s this huge D&D campaign that’s going to be starting up with character generation on Sunday the 18th at 1pm at The Round Table. There are multiple Dungeon Masters (DM’s), and they’re hoping for 20+ players who will all be on one team, working toward a shared goal but going in separate directions. The DM’s are in secret contact with each other, and when their party moves through the region, it’s possible for the teams to run into each other in real time, at which point they can communicate and work with each other. Apparently they’re running a Pathfinder campaign in a similar way, and they just had a big boss fight with all the players making up two groups. It sounds absolutely epic, and I’m excited to take part!

I’m just not sure what kind of character I want to play, yet. It will depend on what sort of campaign it is, I suppose. If it’s one of those typical “heavy on fighting, light on parley” sorts of games, I probably won’t put a lot of thought into it and just make whatever the party is lacking (say hello to the team cleric!). But if role playing is encouraged, that’s where the fun comes in. Here are some of the ideas I’m rolling around in my head…

  1. Atheist Paladin
  2. Minotaur (Silent Beast subrace) Monk (Yes, I want to play as Margaff from 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War))
  3. Druid (Circle of the Moon) who is hellbent on reclaiming civilized land for nature
  4. Half-Orc Barbarian/Monk with Multiple Personality Disorder – internal conflicts abound! But oh, that armour class… Dex + Con + Wis
  5. Clumsy Bard with a Whistling Nunchaku
  6. Blind Ranger with a fear of being touched (haphephobia)
  7. Warlock who loves his demonic patron a little too much
  8. Depressed Chaotic Good Cleric who can’t commit to just one god

They all sound pretty fun to play. Maybe not fun to DM… I don’t want to make the DM mad, so I’ll definitely let him/her have veto power.


And for those of you who made it this far, here’s a treat. I’m doing a small promotion for Boxing Day (Dec 26th) where both of my novels will be on an Amazon Countdown deal, starting at 99 cents for each one. Maybe it’ll lead to a little bump in sales to bring me into the New Year.

Halloween Giveaway

spooktacular

I’ve posted a couple times about this event in passing, but as it’s coming up soon, I figured it’s time for a front-and-centre approach.

Over 100 authors are taking part in the Spooktacular Authors Giveaway, where you can win copies of books and anything else that the authors are willing to give as prizes. Additionally, there’s a grand prize of $100 USD PayPal cash. All you have to do to get entries is follow authors on their preferred platforms (as long as those platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and/or mailing lists. No G+ love 🙁 ).

I’m giving away three stories to two lucky winners, including my soon-to-be-released short story, Macimanito Môswa, about a demon-possessed moose that terrorizes a suburbanite mother of two in the isolated wilds of Northwestern Ontario.


 After a period of crippling self-doubt, I’ve come out the other side and started writing again. While not up to my usual weekly goal, it’s a step in the right direction. I think Trai’s cat might be my favourite character. Why? Find out by supporting me on Patreon! Just $2 gets you behind-the-scenes access, and this month’s sneak peek is all about the black cat named Eclipse.

30k

This week I crossed the 30,000 word mark in A King’s Decree. In this book I consciously did something that I haven’t done in previous books: I slowed down. After the action and intrigue of the first story arc, I let the implications simmer for a bit. I fleshed out the scene, added new and interesting characters, and now I’ll move on to the next round of craziness.

I’ve learned quite a lot from writing my first trilogy, and one thing I’ve discovered about my writing style is that I don’t slow down much. It’s go, go, go, go, go! Events don’t have a lot of time to sink in, for either the reader or the characters. Even with that fast, relentless pace, my books were getting quite long. I don’t plan on slowing down so much that reading becomes tedious – I hate that sort of thing – but I want people to picture what’s in my mind, or at least a reasonably close facsimile. I want the reader to see the emotions running through the characters as they absorb what’s happened to them.

I know I’m not a perfect writer. I doubt I’ll write a “best seller.” But it’s important to me to grow and learn with each book that I write. So to those of you who are along for the ride, thanks for your faith in me. It means a lot!


I’d like to do a One Month Follow-up on the crazy promotion where hundreds of copies of Demon Invasion were downloaded. The idea behind a “free” promo is the hope that you’ll find new readers. You’d think that you’d see an uptick in sales on other works if such a promo were to work.

Alas:

sales

Pretty slow month.

As you can see, the following month was slow. Slower than normal. It’s been a while since I’ve only had one sale, and one KU reader.

Maybe a month isn’t long enough? Maybe my books have been added to “To be read” lists, and people just have a lot of books to read, because they found a lot of authors they like through free promos?

Or maybe people who look for big free promotions aren’t buying books, because they only want to read for free.

I don’t know. I can’t let the slow sales drag me down, because…


Two people in one day said they’re enjoying my books. Just so we’re clear, that’s a record, and really exciting!

One has just started reading A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1) and had this to say: 

The other is getting into A Wizard’s Gambit (Empire’s Foundation Book 2), and had some great advice:

I’m a fan of +Ryan Toxopeus, both on here and his stories. I think he tells good stories and I like his characters and his ideas.

Now the “but.”Last night I read two particular scenes, one a fight between two men who like the same woman and a dragon, and another scene the protagonist is in the house of a super-wealthy under cover dragon who has run off and his mansion has been looted.

See what I just told you? I was told that too. When I read his stories I never forget I’m being told a story, a story I like, but I have the feel of being told a story. I don’t get the immersion I look for in a novel.

For those not familiar with “Show, don’t tell,” it’s a rule that says it’s best to show the reader what’s going on, so they can see it in their minds, instead of being straightforward about it. An example:

Carlotte was nervous.

Carlotte’s heart raced, and she wiped at sweat on her brow.

In both cases, the reader knows that Carlotte is, indeed, nervous. But in the second one, you never actually said it. The reader sees the symptoms of discomfort and sweating and puts the pieces together. It makes the writing longer, but helps the reader become more immersed in the writing.

This is something I know I need to work on. When I wrote A Noble’s Quest, I had never even heard the term “Show, don’t tell.” While writing the second book, I still wasn’t really sure I had a grasp of the concept (and seeing Rich’s feedback, I know I still have more work to do on mastering this). I wonder if perhaps A Hero’s Birth is as long as it is because I’m finally showing the reader more. Yes, there are times you can tell, I think. You don’t always want to show everything, because it can make the writing cumbersome. But if you show the important bits, and the parts where it makes sense to slow down and let the scene unfold, the reader will love you for it.

So that’s my next writer’s goal. Show more, at least where it makes sense.

I sometimes think I’ll go back and rework my first books with all the knowledge I’ve gained. Maybe some day I will, but for now I want to keep my forward momentum.


I read an article that made me concerned that A Hero’s Birth might be too long. After some discussion about the length of the book, I realized it’s better as it is. I really wasn’t looking forward to coming up with another title for what would have been book 4, not to mention paying for more cover art. The ending of book 3 would have been weaker than I would have liked, too. But a 700 page book isn’t obscene, in the land of fantasy books.

Last but not least, I got more work done on the “bonus” material for A Hero’s Birth.

Promotion success

Success is one of those tricky concepts, where different people have different ideas. For some people it’s all about making money. I don’t understand those people. Money is okay, but aside from covering the basics, it doesn’t bring happiness. Look at Trump. That guy’s the most miserable douchebag I’ve ever seen.

I digress…

From Aug 3rd – 7th, my new novella Demon Invasion was free of charge. This coincided with a promotion through Patty Jansen’s website, where over 100 authors made their genre fiction books available for free.

I want to share with you how the promotion went, and this post is going to be long and full of pictures, because I want to dissect it and try to figure out what worked. This isn’t an entirely altruistic sharing, because I’d like to know what worked so I can duplicate this success in the future.

Day 1

If you’re not familiar with it, Amazon allows you to run promotions with their “Promote and advertise button” which is located in your “Bookshelf” (see Fig. 1).

promo1

Fig 1. Promote and advertise button shown beside each book listed in your Bookshelf.

On the next page, look in the Run a Price Promotion section and select the Free Book Promotion. You can choose a span of 5 days to make your book free, and Amazon will promote your free book for all to see on a page that is dedicated to books that are in the Free Book Promotion. Without any advertising, I got 18 downloads for Demon Invasion on the first day with JUST Amazon promoting the book, and one post from me on Google Plus, which got a handful of +1’s. The last I saw, it was rated #56. People would have to dig to find it, if they were looking at top downloads in the free section.

Day 2

Demon Invasion broke the Top 40, and found another 14 readers. Again, no advertising. One post on G+. At this point, I started really liking the Amazon promotion, so I decided to try using the same free promotion on my short story 1100 Before Gods’ War, and my short story collection Dawn: A dwarven creation story. It was too late to add them for that day, so I figured I’d run each one for three days, Friday – Sunday.

My reason for wanting to have all three of these free at the same time was to tease apart different effects, to see what makes a real difference in downloads. All three books look very different from each other:

The cover for 1100 Before Gods’ War is my favourite of the bunch. Harvey Bunda created it from scratch, and I love the detail. I’ve had several people comment that they love the art.

You can probably guess that I did the cover for Dawn myself. It looks amateurish (I’m seriously considering getting a “real” cover for it). I’ve had no sales on Amazon for this collection, which doesn’t surprise me, given the cover.

The flames for the Demon Invasion cover came from my cousin’s place, when she had us over for a bonfire. I snapped the photo, and Harvey manipulated it to accentuate the fiery horns on the top, define the lower face, and add eyes. I did the text myself. I’ve had both positive and negative feedback on this one.

So Friday would be the first day with all three available, with no promotion through Patty Jansen’s website.

Day 3

Downloads increased more than triple, but I confounded the test by being impulsive. I posted that all three were available on Google Plus and Facebook, and when I had over 100 views on the post on Facebook in short order, Facebook asked me to promote the post. For just $7 they would make sure 500+ people saw the post over three days. I figured that was low risk and went ahead with it. That first day, 113 people saw the post through the promotion.

What’s more, a friend on Google Plus saw my post about paying Facebook and wanted to prove that Google Plus was better. So he shared my pinned post about my writing, which got shared around a few times. How many of the 78 downloads were due to Facebook, Google Plus, or Amazon? I’m not sure. Assuming Amazon did the same 14-18, that leaves 60-64 downloads unaccounted for. Facebook tells you when someone clicks on a link in your post, and by the end of Sunday night, there were only 2 clicks. Did people Google the books because of the post, and not click through directly? Maybe … thus the confound. I just don’t know. But it’s possible that as Demon Invasion rose up in the ranks on Friday, it got into the top 20, and more people saw it when searching for free e-books to read.

But perhaps the most telling evidence for success came from …

Day 4

Patty’s Promo started on Saturday, and that’s when things went bananas (see Fig. 2).

promo2

Fig 2. Bananas

130+ e-books got marked down to “Free” and all the authors blitzed the Internet. To participate in one of Patty’s Promos, you’re expected to hit all the avenues you have access to: social media (Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), mailing lists, blog posts, Thunderclaps, carrier pigeons, smoke signals …

When I took part in one of these free promos back in January, 1100 Before Gods’ War hit #1… with 52 downloads on one day. So you can see why I was getting excited with the 78 downloads on Friday. I can’t begin to tell you how my brain exploded on Saturday when I saw the downloads climbing. I would update the graph, go type a message, come back, and have 5+ more downloads. It was insane. I didn’t hit #1 in my category for Demon Invasion (Fantasy Adventure Fiction), but it hovered around #2 for a long time. If it did hit #1, I missed it, as I wasn’t available to check compulsively like I might normally do. Even so, I don’t really care. With 750+ downloads (some people getting 2 or 3 ebooks – more on that in a second), I’m ecstatic. And from the sounds of it, other authors in the promotion are experiencing the same sorts of numbers.

That is extremely telling. If left to my own devices, I never would have hit that spike on Saturday. I think the free promotion through Amazon, social media sharing, and the Facebook ad might have continued to keep my numbers up a bit, but nothing like what kind of traffic I got thanks to Patty’s Promo.

It’s ‘uge! (Sorry. Last Trump reference. I swear.)

Day 5

At this point, I didn’t care what happened. I knew there was no way I could compete with Saturday’s numbers. Demon Invasion was sitting at #4, 1100 Before Gods’ War was #7, and Dawn was somewhere in the 30’s. Even with the smaller number of downloads, Demon Invasion continued to be around #400 OVERALL in the free Kindle category. As another author pointed out, that’s amazing when considering I’m a self-pub author going up against all the other authors in the world, pro and otherwise.

I did a bunch of work around the house, and just let the promotion do what it had to do.

It still did great (see Fig 3).

Wow. Much download.

Fig 3. Wow. Much download.

Facebook Ad Breakdown

I experienced “buyers remorse” the instant I accepted to pay for a Facebook ad. I’ve heard over and over again that ads don’t work for unknown authors. However, the $7 cost sounded low risk, and I’ll try just about anything once.

Fig. 4. What I got for $7.

Fig. 4. What I got for $7.

So what exactly did I receive for my small risk? Small returns (see Fig. 4). Two people clicked links in the post, one person liked my writing page because of the post, and some people who saw it liked it, but apparently not enough to click the links, for a total of 16 engagements. The “People Reached” number looks impressive, but that just means that people saw it and continued to scroll on by without paying it too much attention.

But then, how many ads do you click on in FB? For me, the answer is None. I think most people are the same, not trusting FB security features.

Verdict: I won’t use Facebook ads again. I get way more page likes by signing up with Claudette Melanson’s seasonal giveaways, which only costs $3. By having two people who enter the contest win my ebooks, that’s the equivalent number of clicks.

Fun Facts

  1. Overall, I had 830 free downloads over a 5-day period. I’ll bet that’s more downloads than I’ve had in my entire 5 years of being self-published.
  2. 777 of those (93.6%) were for Demon Invasion.
  3. 87.8% of downloads came through Amazon.com.
  4. I had downloads from co.uk, .de, .fr, .in, .ca, .com.br, and .com.au. The ones in bold I had never had downloads from before. I hope the German, French, Indian, and Brazilian readers enjoy my work! (and the rest of you, too, of course)

Take home messages

Fig 4. a) Pretty even number of downloads for 1100 BGW and Dawn. b) A sale post-promo!

Fig 5. a) Pretty even number of downloads for 1100 BGW and Dawn. b) A sale post-promo!

  1. Free promotions through Amazon will get you some downloads, all by themselves. If your numbers are flat, maybe this will get you some “exposure.” Don’t count on it. Some people only read what they can find for free.
  2. Free trumps cover art (see Fig 5, a). Across all markets, there were roughly equal downloads of 1100 BGW and Dawn. The only reason Dawn didn’t rise higher up in the charts is because it was in a tougher category (1100 BGW’s main category is Greek & Roman Mythology, Dawn’s is Teen & Young Adult (Not sure why. Maybe because I set the age range from 14 – 18+? None of my other books have an age range on them. I’ve deleted that to see if it changes.)). These two weren’t in any promos, so the only way people were finding them were through Amazon’s free promotion website and social media. As you can see, their download numbers are much, much lower than Demon Invasion.
  3. Multi-author sales are the fastest way to find people. Now, bear in mind that other authors were reporting the same numbers as me. This means that some people were downloading a lot of free material. They might never even get to reading Demon Invasion. That’s not helpful. But some people WILL read it. And with 830 downloads, I think it’s fair to say that I’ll reach a fair number of new readers, and that’s exciting!
  4. I had zero sales during the promotion, but it looks like one person paid for Demon Invasion after the promotion ended (see Fig. 5, b). My novels, A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1), and A Wizard’s Gambit (Empire’s Foundation Book 2), haven’t seen any movement yet after the promo. But like I mentioned in the previous point, people are going to have a lot of reading to work through, so I might not see any upward movement on my books for a while. I only hope that people enjoy the freebies enough to look for my other stuff.

If you think multi-author sales are the way to go, I highly recommend trying out Patty Jansen’s Promo. She alternates between 99 cents and Free, from month to month. The Free does FAR better than the 99 cents, in terms of downloads, but even the 99 cents ones are okay. If I find 10 readers for a book, that’s still 10 more people than I would have found on my own.

What do you think?

Are there other similar promotions out there that you’ve used? What sort of success did you find with them?

Thanks for reading, and I hope this has helped some of you!