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Infinitas Publishing Status Report – November 2017

All right, this time I’m actually going to get the status report done early in the month…

Does mid-month count?

Anyway, October was busy, and the beginning of November was even busier, so I’ve got a lot to cover. Either way, it’s that time again–time for a status report! ūüėÄ

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Pre-Writing Workshop at the CCCAC: I mentioned in the last status report that I was teaching a set of classes at the Copper Country Community Arts Center. I think it went well. My students all had great ideas they were fleshing out. I just wanted to give a shout-out to them and say, “Good luck with your novels!” ūüôā

Glitch: I’ve gotten feedback from my second beta-reader, and today I start the process of incorporating that feedback into the final version of the mini-series. Once those tweaks are complete, it’ll be time to do the read-aloud (where Isaac and I try to catch awkward sounding sentences and anything we might have missed in the previous read-throughs).

After that, all that’s left is to prepare¬†Glitch for publication. Formatting, finalizing book covers and blurbs… It’s just about done. Yay!

Fractured Skies: The huge overhaul of this manuscript has a been completed, adding in a whopping 40,000 words. The novel was 114,000 words before, and now sits around 155,000 words. That’s not including the scenes that we outright cut because they weren’t adding what we wanted. I think this version sounds a whole lot better. It fleshes out characters and goes a bit more in-depth as to what’s going on, and it connects the various plot pieces better.

Once I finish edits to Glitch,¬†I’ll be re-reading through the revisions I made to Fractured Skies to make sure I like the changes and to see if there’s anything I can cut before I send it to beta-readers.

Distant Horizon: Like I mentioned last time, there’s a new cover in the works. Not much to update here, since I’ve been focusing on revisions of other books. I intend to have the new cover up before publishing Glitch.

The Multiverse Chronicles:¬†On hold. I’m hoping to edit the various episodes during breaks between projects. Progress is slow, but hasn’t come to a complete halt.

Book Three of The Wishing Blade Series: I still haven’t come up with a name for this one. However, I’ve finished tightening the manuscript, so it’s ready for Isaac to read¬† once he has a break from his classwork.

I still need to outline book four, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of where it’s going. I just need to work out the details of how it’s going to get there.

Stone and String 2: I haven’t named this short story yet, but a little while back I started writing a rough draft for the sequel of “Stone and String.” I had to put it aside to work on other projects, but I’m now in the process of making revisions to what I’d already written. Once that’s complete, I intend to outline the rest of the story and complete the rest of the rough draft by the end of the month.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration:¬†A book cover here… a book cover there…

Game Development: On hold while Isaac is busy with his classes.

Marketing: This is a new category for my reports, but I thought it warranted a mention. I’ve been reading up various marketing strategies that are intended to help authors promote their books, and I’m hoping to develop a different newsletter for each of the different genres I write in (I’m currently thinking of having one newsletter for fantasy works, such as¬†The Wishing Blade Series,¬†and one for dystopian science fiction, which would encompass the¬†Distant Horizon series and Glitch,¬†and possibly the latest project I’ve been working on). That’s a development that’s still in progress, though, and I haven’t solidified these plans yet. (Though if you want¬†to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, we still have our overarching¬†Infinitas Publishing Newsletter.)

NaNoWriMo Project: I mentioned in my most recent blog post about the Magic’s Stealing promotion that I had an all-new project I was working on for NaNoWriMo. My goal was to achieve 50,000-65,000 words in 12 days, writing in a world I hadn’t written before. Well, that’s been completed! (I’m hoping to have a more detailed post on that challenge soon).

General info… the novel (50,300 words) is a cyberpunk/dystopian retelling of Snow White from the point of view of the huntress (instead of the huntsman). The accompanying short story (11,600 words) is a cyberpunk retelling of Red Riding Hood.

I had fun writing it, and I’m hoping to start edits in December (after I finish editing these other projects). I’m hoping to write at least one more novel-length story in that series before releasing them.

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Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, sign up for our Infinitas Publishing Newsletter!

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That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this post! ūüėÄ

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Thoughts on Publishing ‚Äď Infinitas Publishing Status Report

It’s that time again! Time to evaluate the current status of Infinitas Publishing. ūüôā

The Wishing Blade: Magic‚Äôs Stealing:¬†As of Monday, the first book is complete. Done. Finis. I’ve finished proofing the print edition and approved it through Createspace. I’ve also uploaded the updated versions to Smashwords and Kindle. If it has the Cirenan map in the preview, then it should be the updated edition.

Magic’s Stealing is now available in paperback! ūüėÄ

The Wishing Blade: The Shadow War (Book Two): My NaNoWriMo goal of fully revising the first half of this book fell through, but I did get a bit further in on the edits. I’ve also been plotting a bit of backstory that may or may not make it into the final version. This book may take a bit longer to work through than its predecessor (It’s longer, for one thing. The rough draft is currently the same length as the first book), but now that my time is starting to free up again (Finished several book covers, just about finished with a surprise bit of dental work, and releasing the print edition of Magic’s Stealing) I should have more time now to actually proceed with writing.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel:¬†I haven’t made a whole lot of progress here, either. Our beta reader has read the first four episodes, and I recently sent her the fifth episode. I’m hoping to work on the sixth episode in the next few days, and go from there. Our plan is still to release the first six episodes around the same time that we release¬†Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel, and then¬†an¬†episode a week after that.

Isaac has been making good progress on the rough draft of the second season, though. He’s currently on episode 19, and once all the episodes are complete, he plans to go back and do basic edits before handing them off to me. ūüôā

Battle Decks - Steam Tank Preview Card

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel:¬†We’re off our target schedule for this, but we have made progress. We’ve updated all the cards, updated the rules and glossary (which need to be proofread… one of our weekend plans) and¬†we’ve¬†finished the new Steam Tank card, which replaced an older¬†card. (I’ve included a¬†sneak peak of the game card… minus the rounded corners and general trimming). This weekend, our goal is to refit the box art to the smaller boxes, finalize the last few tweaks, and order a proof¬†of the updated game.

SBibb‚Äôs Photographic Illustration:¬†I’m finishing up the last of a string of covers I was working on last month, and I only have a couple covers slated for this month, which gives me time to catch up on some of my other projects. Of course, I’ll be posting the behind-the-scenes info as the publishers and authors release their covers to the public. ūüôā

In the meantime, I have a manuscript that I need to beta-read for a friend. I’m hoping to finish my read-through in the next two weeks, in order to give her time for her own personal deadlines.

That’s all for now. I have a book cover to finalize tonight, and tomorrow I have a new cover proof to start before I get back to work editing The Multiverse Chronicles.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this status report. ūüôā

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Wow, time flies. O_O

It’s time for another Infinitas Publishing status report!

The Wishing Blade: Magic’s Stealing¬†(Book One) – I’ve just about got the print version ready. I’ve gone through the first proof and searched for typos, and one of my beta readers graciously agreed to look through it a (third? fourth?) time, and they pointed out a few grammatical suggestions¬†here and there. I’ve made notes about which changes¬†I plan to implement, and my next step is to apply those changes across the three files (print edition, Kindle edition, and Smashwords edition), then order a proof copy to make sure my formatting is still correct. Shouldn’t take too long, but I don’t want to rush and accidentally botch something.

Also, at the suggestion of my beta reader (and the encouragement of Isaac), I went ahead and polished up the Cirena map. So the print edition should have this map, and once I release the print edition, I’ll also update the ebook editions with it, as well. ūüôā

SBibb - Cirena Map

(Read about my earlier map-making process here.)

The Wishing Blade: The Shadow War (Book Two)-¬†I’m about where I was last time I wrote one of these reports (*Cringe*). However, my NaNoWriMo goal is not to complete 50,000 words, but to revise the first portion of this book, then finish writing the rest of it so that I can hand this over to beta readers. Let’s see if we can get this story on track.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel – I’ve given¬†the first thirteen episodes their basic revisions, and I’m currently polishing episode five, including the end scene. In addition, I’ve been sending these off as I finish them to our beta reader for this series, and she’s been giving us good notes that I intend to implement. Then Isaac will go over them one more time to make sure any revisions I made fit with his vision, and afterwards, we’ll start releasing them. The goal is to release the first six episodes at one time, with one episode a week following that. We still need to make tweaks to the Multiverse blog site, and the release has been put on hold until we have our Battle Decks game ready.

In the meantime, Isaac’s NaNoWriMo goal involves writing the rough draft for season two of The Multiverse Chronicles. ūüôā

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel -We’re off schedule on this project. Got the latest proof in, found a few minor edits to tweak, but then we had a friend come over who pointed out a lot of things that could help make the game stronger. As such, Isaac adjusted one hero character card into a basic reinforcement card, brought in a new hero card (he already had the sketch completed, but I need to clean it up in Photoshop and color it). Plus, Isaac’s¬†changed a few stats and abilities on the other cards, and changed what certain abilities actually do. As such, this game is going to be released later than planned. Hopefully next month, if we’re able to get a new proof ordered in the next couple weeks. Not only that, but we’re currently considering¬†offering two editions–one that has dice and tokens and a full, easy-to-read set of rules, and one version which only has the cards and a single sheet of rules (harder to read, but we’ll have the rules available for free online), which should also be a bit easier on players’ pocketbooks.

Phalanx – Won’t be released for a while, but this is a board game Isaac put together based on a game that’s mentioned in¬†one of the Multiverse episodes. Something like a cross between Chess and Tetris. Look for more details in the upcoming months. ūüôā

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration¬†– Working through book covers, per usual. Finalizing a couple and working on the proof of another.

Lesson to be learned?

Give yourself plenty of time to complete projects. Count on needing to make more revisions than planned. Come out with a stronger product in the end…

And try not to pull out your hair in the meantime.

I hope you enjoyed¬†this post. ūüôā

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Thoughts on Publishing – YA Paperback Prices

In my last post, I discussed my thoughts on pricing an indie card game. That got me thinking back to pricing paperback books. I’ve already determined that I’ll probably sell the paperback edition of¬†Magic’s Stealing for $7.99. It’s an odd price, but a compromise since there weren’t a whole lot of YA novellas in paperback that I could find to reference, and the ones I did find were by well-known authors, and therefore priced higher.

Since there’s a slight possibility that Magic’s Stealing may appeal to the upper range of the middle grade audience, I referenced the $7.99 price point of similar-sized books. Here, AR quizzes can be of use determining word count.

However, I’ve now been thinking about Distant Horizon¬†(a 97,500 Ya/NA science fiction novel), and wondering how I want to format the print edition. Granted, it still needs to be proofread, and Isaac and I are quite a ways from releasing it, but I like figuring out these things.

The print format that I used for Magic’s Stealing won’t work… we would end up with a huge page count, which means that the production costs would be too high to bring the book into local stores.

Createspace gives us the option to compare basic book costs, shipping, and royalties. With a quick check of the Distant Horizon file in the same format as Magic’s Stealing, I found that the initial page count was 450. That’s not including getting the chapter spacing formatted to look nice.

But let’s plug that into the calculator and get some numbers.

For a single copy of a 5.25 x 8 book, black and white pages with bleed, we’re looking at $6.25 for the¬†book and $3.59 for standard shipping. $9.84 per book.

Let’s take a look at volume discounting for a moment, since that’s what makes it possible to get these books into stores.

If we buy 25 copies of the book, we pay $156.25 plus $15.50 for shipping, for a total of $171.75, or $6.87 per book. Notice how much the cost per book went down? If we buy 50 copies of the book, we pay $312.50 plus $23.00 shipping (be sure to adjust your quantity value in both calculators). That’s $335.50 total, or $6.71 per book. A slight difference from 25, but not so different¬†that we couldn’t purchase the smaller quantity of books if funds are tight.

For royalties on Amazon (not looking at any expanded distribution options), we start making a profit at $10.99 (34 cents), $11.99 (94 cents), $12.99 ($1.54), $13.99 ($2.14), and $14.99 (2.74). Books printed in Great Britain need to be priced higher than the converted $12.99, or they lose money, while books printed in Europe need to be priced higher than the converted $10.99 or they lose money.

Keeping in mind that we¬†can adjust those prices separately, I’m not worrying¬†about non-US¬†prices right¬†at the moment.

However, without knowing how to format the book, it’s hard to say what the right price point is.

So I decided to run over to Hastings and take a look at their YA section. Figured I’d take twenty minutes to do some quick research.

One hour later…

*Ahem.*

Anyway, I came up with a list of various young adult books across different genres. I noted their title, my best guess at their genre (I referenced Goodreads¬†for a few of them), their page count (by last page of the story, not including front and back matter), line count per page (unfortunately I didn’t think to count the average words per line), price (there may be some variation here due to price stickers covering the price listed on the book), and book size.

I found that, overwhelmingly, the young adult paperbacks were 5.25 by 8 inches, or very close to that size (some variations from printer to printer should be¬†expected). In general, if they came from a traditional publisher, they were 5.25 x 8. Keep that in mind if you’re self-publishing, and you want your book to “look” professional. On the other hand, I briefly skimmed the adult section with the 6×9 book, and there were several more instances of the 6×9 trade paperbacks available. At some point I would like to go back and check the adult book¬†price points and line counts and such, since I think my previous research has suggested that the average adult trade paperback would sell for roughly $14.99.

Keep your target audience in mind, and research similar books to get a feel for how to format and price your own book.

This is the list of YA books I compiled at Hastings.

Michael Vey: Rise of Elgen (Science Fiction) – 6 x 9 – 335 pgs – 35 lines per page – $10.99

Hush, Hush (Paranormal Romance) Р5.25 x 8 Р 391 pgs Р25 lines per page Р$11.99

Perfect Chemistry (Contemporary Romance) –¬†5.25 x 8 – 359 ¬†pgs – 29 lines per page – $9.99

Barely Breathing (Romantic Thriller) Р5.25 x 8 Р 502 pgs Р32 lines per page Р$9.99

Perfect Ruin (Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 356 pgs – 29 lines per page – $9.99

The Jewel (Dystopian Romance)- 5.25 x 8 – 359 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

Beautiful Creatures (Paranormal Romance) – 5.25 x 8 – 563 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

Eye of Minds (Science Fiction) – 5.25 x 8 – 310 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

The Dark Is Rising (Complete Sequence, Fantasy) – 6 x 9 – 1082 pgs – 30 lines per page – $16.99 (The Amazon edition is different than the edition I found)

The Hunger Games (Dystopian – Original Edition) – 5.25 x 8 – 374 pgs – 29 lines per page – $8.99 originally. Now has sticker that says $10.99

The Hunger Games (Dystopian РMovie Edition) Р5.25 x 8 Р374 pgs Р29 lines per page Р$12.99

The Hunger Games (Dystopian РShiny Gold Edition) Р5.25 x 8 Р436 pgs Р27 lines per page Р$12.99

City of Bones (Urban Fantasy РNew Cover) Р5.25 x 8 Р485 pgs Р30 lines per page Р$13.99

The Sight (Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 464 pgs – 33 lines per page – $8.99

Graceling (Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 471 pgs – 28 lines per page – $8.99

The Demon King (Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 506 pgs – 29 lines per page – $9.99

The Testing (Science Fiction Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 325 pgs – 29 lines per page –¬†$9.99

The Darkest Minds (Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 488 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

(About here I discovered that Dreamland is out. *Squee!* I’ve been wanting to read that since I read the first few chapters… *Ahem.* Back to cataloging…)

Mortal Gods (Mythology Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 366 pages – 33 lines per page – $10.99

Never Fade (Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 507 pages – 30 lines per page – $10.99

Fourth Comings (Contemporary Romance… looks New Adult) – 6 x 9 – 310 pages – 31 lines per page – $13.99 (Amazon has the list price at $15.00, so I think this may technically be categorized as an¬†adult romance, though it was in the young adult section)

IMPORTANT: Some of these numbers may be incorrect due to my notes having tiny handwriting. I’ve linked to the books in the Amazon store where available, and those may have product details for the print editions that include the front and back matter. As another note, you could probably do a lot of this same research on Amazon by checking the scratched-out list price when you have the paperback edition selected.

I also found that hardback books tend to lean toward the 6 x 9 mark, but they completely vary as to the exact size, and some are considerably smaller. Also, font size and line spacing varied from book-to-book, so when formatting your own book, be sure to take that into account, and study your favorite books in the genre of the book you are formatting.

Now, let’s do the same categorizing for Magic’s Stealing that I did for the above books.

Magic’s Stealing¬†(Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 158 pages – 28 lines per page – $7.99 (once the print edition is available)

Based on the above list, most of the YA books are sized 5.25 x 8 inches, typically range around $9.99 to $10.99, higher if they’re a well known book. Based on this sampling, there aren’t as many at $11.99 as I originally thought, though more research may be needed regarding specific genres. The biggest benefit to this list that I see for Distant Horizon¬†is that a large number of those books allow for 30 lines per page, which can significantly decrease page count. Additionally, something I didn’t check for at the time is the average word count per line, which would give a rough font size estimate.

Let’s go back to our Distant Horizon book and see what happens. I lowered the font size (which isn’t the end-all answer, but this is a rough estimate), which brought the line count to 31 lines per page (a little high, but still acceptable), and now only have 370 pages. Let’s round this to 400 pages, since formatting changes could increase the count.

With those variables, a single book is $5.65 plus $3.59 shipping, or $9.24 per book. A volume purchase of 25 books would be $141.25 plus $15.50, for a total of $156.75, or $6.27 per book. 50 copies would be $282.50 plus $23.00, for a total of $305.50 or $6.11 per book.

At the common price points, a 5.25 x 8, 400 page book would profit on US Amazon at 34 cents ($9.99), 94 cents ($10.99), and at the uncommon prices $1.54 ($11.99), and $2.14 ($12.99)

Let’s say that we want to take this into local bookstores. We choose to pick up 50 books to start with, so each book costs us $6.11. At the high end, a store asks for a 40% discount, which doesn’t work at all for the $9.99 book, but yields about 50 cents for the $10.99 book, or $1.09 for a $11.99 book.

So… it is possible to sell the book to stores at a 40% discount, though the profit wouldn’t be high. The profits would increase as the store’s requested discount decreases.

Alternatively, we could hand-sell the book at conventions, keeping all profits for ourselves (minus sales tax… and the cost of a booth), earning $3.88 per $9.99 book. Potentially, we could list it as $11.99, and still have room to discount it at conventions. However, it’s still not the best price point available, and I’d need to play with formatting to get the lowest number of pages possible, while still keeping the book as readable as possible.

Remember, poor formatting can drive a reader away from a book without them ever knowing why, while good formatting can help them ease into the reading experience, so make sure your book is readable to your target audience.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and¬†these are just a few things to consider when you’re preparing to format your book. Good luck. ūüôā

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Thoughts on Publishing – Serial Publishing Methods

I recently got back notes from our beta reader for The Multiverse Chronicles, and one of the questions we asked her was whether or not she would read it in serial format (in this case, one episode a week). We want to make sure that when we release the episodes that the method of release will work well for readers.

Though she said that¬†she¬†enjoyed the episodes that she read, she¬†also said that¬†she personally¬†wouldn’t read it in the serial format.¬†She¬†explained the reason was because the first two episodes (two weeks¬†of content) had a lot of characters to keep track of, and given that the episodes alternate between two groups, that was a long time to wait to find out what happened to the main character from the first scene.

As an alternative, she suggested releasing several chapters at once, but at longer intervals, so that readers would have a chance to get grounded in the story before having to wait for the next installment.

In a sense, this is what I’m doing with The Wishing Blade series, but with a several-month interval. Technically, each book will fit together as one larger, complete book, though each one is meant to have a semi-complete story on its own.

Our beta reader suggested looking at Stephen King’s¬†The Green Mile as an example of releasing several chapters at once, a serialized novel that was released monthly in 1996. From what I gathered during my (Wikipedia) research, The Green Mile was released in six parts, once per consecutive¬†month, each paperback book around 100 pages until the last book, at 144 pages). Later the¬†publisher¬†released a compiled edition.

Now, I haven’t read the book, so I’m not sure how complete each part was, (though I did try to skim through a few reviews to get a feel for it, and I’m still not sure), so¬†I don’t know how much of a cliffhanger each episode may or may not have been. Click here for more information about the original release of The Green Mile¬†books.

But this research did lead me to thinking about the various options involved in releasing a serialized novel.

Originally, Isaac and I had intended the Multiverse episodes to be stand-alone short stories that fit a larger story arc, but the story arc took over. and now we have a serialized novel on our hands.

The options (with variation, depending on the author) are generally to release episodes or chapters every few days, once a week, every few weeks, or monthly/bi-monthly.

Due to time constraints, Isaac and I decided not to release episodes more than once a week. Otherwise there would be a long span of time between the beginning and end of each “season.”

However, if you have a complete novel, or if you want to write daily and release the new parts as their written, a faster release schedule may be the way to go.

Releasing weekly or every few days could work great if you have cliffhangers and an audience who is excited for the anticipation of waiting for the next episode. Here, having a story that hooks the reader and doesn’t let go, but demands a faster release schedule, may work well.

Though I haven’t read it personally, I found one example to be Worm, a completed web serial by Wildblow. In their case, they released chapters twice a week (sometimes three times, if donations met a specific goal). Also,¬†The Legion of Nothing,¬†which (according to the info at the top left corner of its home page) updates twice a week.

Interesting side-note: According to Merriam-Webster.com, bi-weekly can either mean “twice a week”¬†or¬†“every two weeks.” Gotta love the consistency there.

Releasing every few weeks might work better for stories with larger episodes, where the author wants time to make edits before the release, or for writers who are writing the story as they go, but want time for feedback to develop, and time to implement that feedback.

Releasing monthly or even bi-monthly seems like it would work better for longer episodes or short books that have a reasonably complete story arc, however, my current research suggests that stories with strong cliffhangers can work well at this extended rate, too.

One romance series¬†I’ve heard has done well, Renee George’s¬†The Lion Kings,¬†(according to its description/reviews, since I have not read this series, either) has each book as a fairly short installment that involved cliffhangers, where the author released the books on Kindle at around a month or so apart. Of course, audiences preferences may vary between genres.

Then there’s The Martian¬†by Andy Weir. According to Smithsonian.com, The Martian¬†was released on his blog at the rate of one chapter every six to eight weeks, though it does sound like he made adjustments per reader feedback. I’m not sure how long each chapter was, though, and since I haven’t read it, I’m not sure what specific part of the book may have drawn in the large audience that it did. (The Business Insider suggests that the author’s enthusiasm for science attracted a lot of other readers who were also interested in science, which helped propel its popularity forward. The eventually release of a Kindle edition continued to boost its popularity until it was picked up by a traditional publisher).

I haven’t tested out these methods myself, but I wondered if Isaac and I could mix a couple of these ideas together.

In this case, we’re thinking of releasing six episodes (chapters) to start with, which should give readers time to get familiar with the characters and the world, but also leaves off at a major turning point for the story. Then, a week later, we’ll start releasing one episode a week until the story is complete.

We already know that we’ll have at least 28 episodes, and since we originally planned on a six month schedule of weekly releases, offering the first six episodes to start with would help keep this plan on track. Not only that, but it would give¬†readers¬†more reassurance that this will be completed, since they can begin to see how the story will progress. As a bonus, leaving off the first week after the sixth episode would give readers a bit more idea of the conflict that our Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel game (which influenced the story) is about.

So now I just need to see if I can get all six episodes edited before the release date. If so, then we may give this method a shot.

If that doesn’t work well, we can always switch it up later.

The main thing is that we’re trying to go for consistency, that way potential readers know what to expect.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. ūüôā

Have you found any serialized novels or blog serials that worked well in terms of how they released each segment?

Related Posts:

Thoughts on Writing РWhat Does A Serial Episode Need? (The Multiverse Chronicles)

Thoughts on Publishing РA Novel or Three Novellas? (The Wishing Blade series)

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Thoughts on Publishing – Magic’s Stealing – The Paperback Proof Is In!

Today I’m going to interrupt my usual post with an announcement: I have received my paperback proof of Magic’s Stealing!

It came in a small, cardboard wrap (not quite a box, but not a bag, either), and was delivered to my front door. Upon opening the package, I took a few pictures. ūüėÄ

SBibb - MS Proof(( Please ignore the various HeroMachine¬†pictures and cool artwork in the background… those aren’t our personal works (Though if you want a good way to organize the general look of your characters, HeroMachine is quite fun. There’s a whole row of pictures off the frame that we based on one of our campaigns). ))

SBibb---MSproof2

Fancy Title Page

Anyway, this book has 158 pages of content, plus additional pages for the front and back matter, and it clocks in at 170 pages long. Here you can see the the title page (there’s a few pages before it), and further down this post are¬†samples of a chapter page and a regular, full-text page. You can click the images to see them at a larger size.

I did all the formatting in Microsoft Word 2007, and I hope to do a post later on some of the fun tools you can use to add a professional touch to your books. Once I tested a few pages out on my printer for various fonts and sizes and line spacing, I saved this as a PDF, and checked it in the digital proofer on Createspace. Once that looked good, I ordered the print edition.

This particular book is 5.25 x 8 inches (based on a few of my favorite books with easy-to-read formatting), which uses the¬†same dimensions as a 6 x 9, so the cover converted easily. Glossy cover and black-and-white, cream pages. I chose the “bleed” option so that I could use the full page image treatment (pulled from the background of the cover) for the chapter intros and title page.

SBibb---MSproof3

Page Full of Text

I did notice that the words got a tad bit close to the gutter, so that’s something I’ll have to keep in mind for future series, but it’s still readable. Of course, I also justified the text.

This is the end result, and I’m now reading through the book to make sure the formatting is correct before I release the print edition (Amazon only, for now).

I’ve found a couple typos, which I’ve made note of, but if those are all I find, I will most likely let those slide for now so that I don’t potentially mess up the formatting right before ordering a large number of books. If I find a large number of typos, I may go ahead and do the initial revision now.

Though that one I’ve found may keep pestering me…

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll order a second proof, that way I can be sure the formatting looks right and that there are as few errors in the print book as possible.

Anyway, regardless of what I choose to do, I plan¬†to go back and revisit both the print and ebook editions at some point for typos, but I’m considering doing that all at once, when more typos have inevitably been found.

In the meantime, look forward to the paperback edition, coming soon! ūüėÄ

SBibb---MSproof4

Sorry, this photo got a little blurry…

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. ūüôā

Have you had any experiences with proofing a print edition of your book? How do you decide when to update for typo corrections?



 SBibb --- MS Proof  SBibb---MSproof5 

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Thoughts on Publishing – The Excerpt at the Front of a Print Book

I’m in the process of creating a paperback edition of Magic’s Stealing. I’ve got most of the formatting complete, save for a couple blank pages, and I’m currently focusing on adding an excerpt at beginning of print book. The idea is that as soon as a potential reader opens the book, the first thing they see is a teaser that makes them want to read more (and encourages them to be patient if that scene takes time to reach).

Keep in mind, when a reader is browsing a book store or examining a book at an author’s table, they will likely look at the cover, then at the back cover blurb, then¬†at the excerpt on the first page of the book. The goal is to draw them in more and more until they choose to buy the book.

This is how I ended up buying The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross (and ultimately loving it) at a Barnes and Noble. I’ve seen other books do the same. Adding the excerpt provides a teaser so that the reader knows what to expect.

(You might see another form of this on a hardcover book, but the excerpt may be on the back cover, usually something of action or intrigue, with the blurb inside the cover flaps).

Let’s take a look at Magic’s Stealing and see how this compares.

Back Cover Blurb:

For centuries, ribbons of magic have provided the kingdom of Cirena with light, healing, and protection. Then, in a span of minutes, those ribbons fly from their masters, stolen, save for the magic of a few chosen mages. One of these mages is Toranih, a young noblewoman who would rather have a sword in her hand than use her powers to heal or throw fireballs. As a result, her magic skills are lacking. But with former mages dying from magic withdrawal, and the looming threat of an army of shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons, she must either embrace the responsibilities of a mage or watch her home perish.

Whatever excerpt I choose, the excerpt should enhance the understanding of the content inside the book.

These were the two excerpts I’m considering:

First Excerpt

Toranih cast a glance toward the distant mountain and shivered. The closer they came, the more her unease grew. It wasn’t her usual dislike of magic. As close as they were now, the magic inside the forge glowed like a star. Yet the whole place was shrouded with a thick fog, a veil that kept the magic hidden from the distance.

She frowned.

She could almost see thin filaments weaving through the fog, like the shadows of strings from a poorly played puppet theatre. The filaments lashed out in different directions, disappearing as they touched bright, sunlit sky. She tilted her head and squinted, but the strings vanished altogether.

She shivered and returned to picking at the soft innards of her roll.

There was something different about that magic. Wild. Unsteady. Like a foal that hadn’t been broken, and might never be. The magic was curious, like a dark storm cloud spewing cracks of thunder and lightning when the rest of the land was gold.

Toranih shivered.

All this magic was bound to cause strange visions.

So why was she drawn to follow?

In this excerpt, we get a glimpse at shadow magic, a sense of eeriness, and a taste of the¬†writing style. There is a also a question at the end, which would hopefully draw a reader’s attention. However, this scene doesn’t jibe with the back cover blurb. We have a mountain forge, shadowy, string-like magic, strange visions, and some kind of call to follow that magic. While the scene should be intriguing in itself, it doesn’t mesh well with the blurb.

Second Excerpt

Toranih could actually see faint ribbons in the distance, rising from their masters. The ribbons streamed into the sky, a dazzling array of colors, then fled east, away from the city in a glaring river.

She looked at the bowl again and blinked her eyes to clear the spots. She had to know what was going on. The liquid had gone milky-white, but if she could see what was happening . . .

She ran her fingers along the strings at the top of the water. One here, one there. The tips of her fingers tingled as lavender wisps flooded the bowl. The image swirled, faint. The mountain forge reappeared. The man held his sword fixed between both hands, raised to the sky. His feet were spread strong under his shoulders. Ribbons streamed to his sword from across the kingdom. The sword glowed bright and brighter, and as the screams outside died into a disjointed murmur, the sword faded and the image darkened.

The water was clear now, devoid of life.

Everyone’s magic had fled into the stranger‚Äôs sword.

First, this excerpt shows the ribbons mentioned in the blurb. Second, we see Toranih using magic (which conflicts with her dislike of magic, but the blurb does say she must embrace the responsibilities of being a mage). Third, we see a bit about the antagonist. Fourth, we see the event that the blurb mentions, and the end of the excerpt sets the problem up further.

Ultimately, I’m thinking the second excerpt is a lot stronger as a potential hook, especially when paired with the back cover blurb.

I hope you find this post helpful. ūüôā Have you considered adding an excerpt to the front of your book?

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Thoughts on Publishing – Starting a Publishing Imprint

A couple days ago I was talking with an author friend, and they asked about the process of how my husband and I started Infinitas Publishing. I typed up a response, then realized that other people might also find this information useful. So here it is… the basics of how my husband and I started a business.

IMPORTANT: I am not a lawyer nor am I certified in taxes, so please do not take this as legal advice. These are just my experiences thus far, and are meant to be useful in figuring out what steps you may need to take.

Also note that this process varies depending on your location and the kind of business you want to start. This particular post is tailored to my experiences starting a publishing imprint in Missouri, in the United States of America. (Business law varies from state to state).

Choosing a Name

First off, my husband and I chose the name of our business. We chose Infinitas Publishing. We did a Google and Bing search, since the results are different, to see if there was anything too similar to the name already.

We found a few similar names, but we decided that our specific product (speculative fiction and games) and branding was different enough that the two companies wouldn’t easily be confused.

Once we found that we were in the clear for general terms, we did a trademark search. Since trademark law tends to be a pain and I still don’t feel like I have a good grasp on it, I figured we’d be best off avoiding anything too close to something that already existed.

As a side note, if the trademarks can’t easily be mistaken for each other, and they involve unrelated products, they should be¬†free for use. (For example, if two trademark names were similar, but one related to a brand of vacuums and the other to a doggy day care. Completely different uses, so the companies can have similar trademarks.)

As an example, at one point Isaac and I¬†called¬†Battle Decks “Beastie Wars”… only to discover that “Beast Wars” was already in use by Transformers. Since both products involve entertainment and games, we decided to steer clear of the name. Not only that, but renaming the game Battle Decks gives us more versatility in future game expansions… never mind that there’s a PowerPoint slide competition of the same name. The game and event shouldn’t be easily be mistaken, however, so that shouldn’t cause any mix-ups.

To look up a trademark, I used the Basic Search Database¬†(Under TESS, click “Search Trademark Database”), and told it to search “all” words.

Fictitious Name Registration / DBA
After we¬†chose the¬†name, we¬†registered for a fictitious name / Doing Business As (DBA) license. For Missouri, this cost $7.00 and lasts for five years (which reminds me that I’ll need to renew my SBibb’s Photographic Illustration DBA soon). This allows you to legally use the business name instead of your own.

Determine the Business Type
You also need to decide what kind of business you’re starting. There are four major structures, including Corporations, but a Sole-proprietorship, Partnership, and Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) are the ones you’re most likely to run into at this stage.

Nolo has some great information in regards to business practices.

An LLC has the benefit of protecting your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit, but it does have a higher start-up cost. There are also certain tax benefits, and the salary structure is different but I’m not as familiar with this business structure, so I can’t say what those benefits are off the top of my head. If you are if you are publishing multiple authors or publishing materials that could result in a lawsuit, you may want to go the route of an LLC.

EDIT: Check out Raistlin212’s comments below for a better explanation of the benefits of the¬†LLC business structure.

A sole-proprietorship is by far the easiest business to start, as all money coming into the business flows directly to you. Technically, once you have the DBA and EIN, you have the basics you need to start the business online. (This is the structure I use for SBibb’s Photographic Illustration).

A partnership is like a sole-proprietorship, except you have multiple people involved and there’s an extra form you need to fill out for income taxes (Form 1065 and the resulting K-1, which I’m not looking forward to figuring out next year, but I know a couple people I can ask for assistance). This is the structure my husband and I chose for Infinitas Publishing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Once you have the DBA, you can apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number)¬†through the IRS (so many acronyms, I know). This number is handy because it identifies your business on tax forms. The EIN is registered on the federal level. You apply online and you get the number immediately upon completing the form. Doesn’t cost anything either, and you have a different number for each business (Infinitas Publishing has a different EIN than SBibb’s Photographic Illustration).

If you have any questions about filling out the form, your local bank may be able to help. I had a bit of trouble trying to call the IRS help line (I felt like I was playing a Choose Your Own Adventure game, phone style), but the people at the bank were able to answer my questions in regards to start dates and such.

If you are doing freelance work, having this number is nice because it gives you a number to give contractors for the Form 1099-Misc without having to give them your social security number.

Business Bank Account
It is usually recommended that you have a separate banking account for your business to keep your income and expenses organized. This may especially be helpful if you’re ever asked to produce records for tax purposes.

Check with your bank to see what they require to start an account. I went to US Bank, since I was familiar with them and they had a basic package that suited our needs and wouldn’t cost us money to use. This was important since we didn’t expect a high inflow of money to start with. For a partnership, our local branch required a General Partnership Agreement (an LLC needed an Operating Agreement). They also needed the EIN, and I think they needed proof of the registered DBA. It took a couple weeks for this to show up in their system, so be sure to plan ample time between getting everything registered and actually starting the business.

If you need assistance with the General Partnership Agreement or Operating Agreement, there are several sites online that offer free templates. Once you find a suitable template, you can tweak it to fit your needs.

If nothing else, this agreement acts as a guide to each partner’s responsibilities in the case of misunderstandings or if anything gets rough. Now, if you want to be sure that everything is legally correct, you may¬†want¬†to hire a lawyer to look over your forms.

Since Infinitas Publishing is between my husband and I, we didn’t do¬†this, though we did make sure that we understood everything in our agreement and that it suited our needs.

For SBibb’s Photographic Illustration, I don’t use a separate bank account. Due to the nature of my work, I have very few expenses that I apply to that business. However, I do keep a ledger of all income, and it is still advisable to have a separate account, even if you’re a sole-proprietor.

Online Payments
Once the business bank account was set up, I created a business Paypal account and input the new information into my Kindle, Createspace, Smashwords, and The Game Crafter settings. Now when we¬†receive royalty payments or purchase proofs, they’ll be linked to the business, rather than our¬†personal accounts.

Smashwords Publisher Account
Smashwords has a “publisher” account option, which I upgraded to so that my works would show up as published by Infinitas Publishing. Then I created “ghost” author accounts for my Stephanie Flint and Stephanie Bibb names, and I’ll add Isaac’s name once we start publishing our co-authored works.

Sales Tax
Our¬†next step will be to fill out the Missouri Sales Tax form. During the time that¬†we¬†only had ebooks, we¬†didn’t need to worry about sales tax, but once we¬†get print books made, which we¬†plan to offer to bookstores and try selling at a local holiday market, we’ll need to collect Missouri sales tax.

As a side note, I’m not sure about what differences we’ll see when I get to selling wholesale (to bookstores) versus retail (holiday market). I’m still researching this, so I’m a bit sketchy on this. However, when emailing the Missouri Department of Revenue, I’ve been able to get some very helpful information on what forms we’ll need to fill out (Form 2643 and 53-1), along with details about the form.

Give yourself a bit of time to get through it all, but definitely ask if you have questions.

Important: Check with whichever state(s) you’re doing business in, because the requirements vary.

Final Notes
Of course, all of this information is for if you plan to self-publish rather than seek representation through a trade publisher. Be sure to research both sides thoroughly, as there are pros and cons to each.

Granted, this doesn’t even cover creating a logo, a website, buying ISBNs, approaching book stores, and everything else I’ve forgotten at this point. But hopefully it will give you a starting point, and maybe I’ll talk about the “branding” and marketing side of things at a later date.

Also, If you’re curious to read more about the business side of publishing, take a look at Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Freelancer’s Survival Guide.”

I picked up a copy through a StoryBundle offer, and while I’m still in the process, it has been immensely helpful in considering what steps to take to start the business. Plus, some of the articles are on her website for free, so you can read through whichever ones you need. ūüôā

I hope you find this post useful. Do you have any tips for starting a publishing business?

***

By the way, Carissa Taylor was awesome and agreed to host a give-away of one free, ebook copy of Magic’s Stealing, so if you’re interested in winning a copy, head over to her blog.

She also has some really useful information on Twitter pitching and a list of literary agencies that accept YA science fiction and fantasy, so be sure to check those out as well. ūüėÄ

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Thoughts on Publishing – A To-Do List

I launched the cover reveal and announcement of pre-orders for Magic’s Stealing¬†yesterday, so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. ūüôā

In the meantime, I¬†have¬†ideas for new posts, primarily based on my¬†writing process, though they do include minor spoilers (per usual) for the¬†various stories.¬†Possible topics include “Developing A Magic System – Glass-stone (The Wishing Blade series),” “To Swear or Not to Swear,” “How to Keep Characters Alive Under Dire Circumstances/Using Game-play to Solve a Story Problem (The Multiverse Chronicles),” and “Dealing With Multiple Character Motivations in a Scene (The Wishing Blade series).” Let me know if any of them stand out to you that I should write first.

For now, though,¬†I thought I’d go over my publishing process from the past couple days. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Last couple days:

  1. Marked up paper manuscript of Magic’s Stealing. Input changes into ebook file.
  2. Added the table of contents and platform-specific adjustments to each file.
  3. Quickly proofed both files with their table 0f contents on my Kindle.
  4. Uploaded files to Smashwords and Kindle (and discovered that if you have the final file ready, you can set the pre-order for only a couple days away).
  5. Checked that those files uploaded properly the next day.
  6. Added the book to Goodreads.
  7. Changed my accounts to have new author photo.
  8. Updated the main Infinitas Publishing website with the new book cover, blurb and links. Corrected Battle Decks name, and added a blog post.
  9. Tweeted the pre-order announcement from the publisher account (which is specifically meant for announcements).
  10. Prepared a blog post announcing pre-orders and revealed cover. (Thank you to everyone who shared the post! I appreciate it. ūüėÄ )
  11. Responded to tweets.
  12. Sent email to potential reviewer and cover reveal/book launch blogger.
  13. Sent emails to beta readers to offer a thank-you copy of the final ebook.
  14. Wrote up this list to help me keep track of what I’ve done thus far.

Up next:

  1. Complete book cover assignments from separate project (I’m really glad I got through most of those before trying to launch Magic’s Stealing).
  2. Update author photo on Author Central for non-US countries, since they have separate web logins.
  3. Research potential reviewers and make contact.
  4. Continue editing The Multiverse Chronicles episodes. Isaac is getting well ahead of me in getting the rough draft written.
  5. Start writing The Shadow War (I have the first portion written in rough form, but I already know there’s a few big changes I need to make before continuing).
  6. Take a break every now and then. Probably in the form of role-playing one of my favorite characters in the current campaign with Isaac. (Side note: It will be a while before that particular story gets written. It’s highly convoluted… which is what happens when dealing with a super-powerful fourthwaller. *Ahem.*)

That’s the plan.¬†I hope you enjoyed this post. ūüôā Have you had any experiences with preparations for releasing a book?

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