Houston Writers Guild - Indiepalooza

I spent last weekend at the Houston Writers Guild's Indiepalooza conference. It was a 3-day event that focused on topics relevant to Independent / Self-published authors. Topics like; motivation, craft, how to self-publish, marketing, audiobooks, copyright law, trademark law, and more. It was great to get out and meet other Houston area residents in the business.

It also reminded me about how difficult it is to get started in this business. There were a lot of people there who had complete / near complete manuscripts and they simply didn't know what to do next. They knew querying agents was a frustrating process, and they were intimidated by what goes into successfully self-publishing. The end result was that a lot of the folks there were hobbyists and hadn't made the effort to turn it into more. They love writing, but they haven't been able to get over the wall to make it a business. When people realized I write full-time, they had A LOT of questions for me. I thought I'd answer a few of them here.

Q: What's it like to write full-time?

A: Exactly as awesome as you think it would be.

Q: (following a very lengthy session from an editor trying to drum up his business by explaining how complicated the editing process is) Do you do all of that?

A: No, I don't. My writing is told from one point of view, and my story is linear. I write from A to Z. It helps me maintain flow. Basically, I start with a 2-3 page outline that has bullet points with all of the major events in the story. From there, I start writing. There are deviations from the outline, of course, but for the most part, I'm just filling in the blanks between story milestones. I write the entire 1st draft without going back and tinkering. After that, I do about 2 read/rewrite drafts where again, I work from A to Z. Then 2 to 3 copy edit drafts after that. When it's relatively clean, I send it to a professional proof-reader. When I get it back from her, I will go over it at least twice more before I upload and hit publish. The workload is roughly 50% 1st draft, 25% read/rewrite, 20% copy edit, 5% proof-read. Not included, I spent years thinking about my characters in my free time. Thinking about the world, imagining different scenes and how characters would react, etc. One 10hr plane flight for the outlines. Total process time is 6 months for Books 2-4.

Q: Do you hate Amazon?

A: No, I love Amazon. Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world and the friendliest place I have come across for Indie authors. Bookstores hate Amazon because they can't compete. Traditional Publishers hate Amazon because Amazon is single-handedly pushing down the price of books. Amazon leveled the playing field where Indies and Small Press can now compete effectively against the Big 5 Publishers. I was shocked to hear how many people in the business took a negative view of Amazon. My advice to people was, feel however you want about Amazon, but understand they are By Far the largest retailer. Do you want to sell books, or not? One group I do feel bad for, independent bookstore owners.

Q: Traditional or self-publish - aka - what the hell should I do?

A: That depends on you. With self-publishing, you earn the highest royalties for your work. You have complete creative control, and you can respond instantly when the market changes. For me, it's also fun, but I still consider myself more of a business guy than a writer. You can absolutely make a very good career out of self-publishing. BUT, self-publishing is an enormous amount of work. If you want to be a writer simply so you can write and not worry about anything else, then you shouldn't self-publish. Over half of time my is devoted to the business side of things and marketing. If you don't put in that time, you'll fail.

I will write another blog about Traditional publishing and cover things in more detail, but real quick, traditional publishing means the publisher pays you to license your work. They pay you. Let me say it again, they pay you. If they ask you to pay them, that is a vanity press. You will never be a commercial success doing that (their model is collecting fees from you, not collecting dollars from sales).

As I said, more to come on this topic. It's something I'm getting pretty passionate about because * sales plug time * I'm starting a traditional small press. If you write fantasy fiction, then it may be a good option for your book. Come check me out at cobblepublishing.com. There are many paths up the mountain, and you have to find the right one for you. If you've got that book, and now you're stuck, reach out and I'll have an honest discussion with you about which path is right for you.

Any other questions that I didn't answer above, please feel free to use the contact page. I always like interacting with readers and I love talking about this business.

Happy reading!



I'm getting my newsletter under control. From now on, I'll send it once a month. I'll include information like new releases that I've been watching, inside tidbits from fellow authors, updates on my publishing schedule, and best of all, short stories set in the world of Benjamin Ashwood. These stories will feature other characters and will intersect with Ben's story in funny/insightful ways. The first one, which will go out at midnight tonight, will feature Lady Towaal following the Blood Bay war.

I'm pretty excited about these short stories because they give me a chance to write from another point of view. I've got a lot of fun ideas about what I can do as well as some interesting tidbits I plan to drop in. Since the main story is told from Ben's perspective, I only include what he would know. With the short stories, I can say what other people know, and now you can too!

If you haven't signed up, you can find the newsletter here.

Happy reading!


Coffee Shops

This post is kind of pointless. Sorry about that.

As many of you know, I recently quit my day job and began writing full time. It is exactly as awesome as you think it is. I cannot believe how lucky I am to be doing this for a living. Last night, my wife told me that she also cannot believe how lucky I am... Hmm.

There is one disappointing thing though, coffee shops. When I turned in my resignation and thought about what my future would be like, I pictured myself pounding away at my keyboard, ensconced at the back of some ancient structure, sitting on a comfortable, well-worn chair, cats all around me. Baristas, all hoping to be artists or writers themselves one day, would idolize me. They'd bring me steaming cups of fresh-pressed, free trade, single origin coffee. They'd ask me what else they could get me, and I'd ask for a scone.

Ideally, the place would be situated on the banks of the Seine, the canals of Amsterdam, or overlooking some thousand year-old castle in the Irish countryside. I have kids though, so that wasn't going to happen. I was willing to settle for a spot deep in the suburbs of Houston, likely tucked between the nail salon and the dentist. Work with what you've got, right?

It turns out, I hate working in coffee shops.

People are always coming and going, the music is never right, the chairs are metal and stab into your back, you can't leave your seat for fear it will be taken when you get back, or if you try and save it, your laptop will be missing. Napping is frowned upon. The coffee is the same drip I can make at home, and if you want something more extravagant, it takes forever or it shows up cold, and still costs $5 a cup. They won't offer you a scone unless you wait in line for ten minutes, and they don't give a shit you're working on self-publishing an eBook. Their little brother does that too, but their mom is pressing them to get the kid a job at the coffee shop, so he can move out of the basement. Down in my area, the places are also all packed full of yoga pant wearing soccer moms, and worse, if you go at the wrong time of day, they have their kids with them! My wife actually 'called' one of the coffee shops near us yesterday. She and her yoga pant wearing friends were meeting there, and I was not allowed. Where are my fellow artists!?

Don't fret. I have a solution.

As far as I know, Hemmingway did all of his best writing in bars. I won't ask how he got his typewriter in there. If it's good enough for him, it's more than good enough for me. I'm doing some location scouting in my area to find the best spot. I can expense that, right? I'll just tell the IRS it's, uh, like my office. So, it's entirely possible that Empty Horizon: Benjamin Ashwood Book 4 will be my Old Man and the Sea. Excuse the grammatical errors, it was partially edited in a bar.


Another Day of Deals

As promised, another day, another set of deals. All are $0.99 in the US and enrolled in KU. Some are in that price range internationally, but I didn't confirm which. Head to the Raventide Books link and click on the covers to be redirected to Amazon. Too many books to link them individually, so I will list some highlights.


Alec Hutson "Crimson Queen" - I've already recommended this one for Prime Reading. The world building is superb. Recently recognized as the 3rd biggest Epic Fantasy debut in 2016.

Phil Tucker "Path of Flames" - Big long series with the 5th book out in October. I've read it and love his characters. Earned an official blurb from me and I'd be willing to consider him for the drinking team :) Recently recognized as the 5th biggest Epic Fantasy debut in 2016.

Side note: Guess who was the 4th biggest? I'll admit, 2016 was a slow year for debuts, but Indies took 3 out of 5 top slots.

A couple of honorable mentions in this promo: TA Miles / her marketeer who did the heavy lifting on setting up the site and has a two-release double punch out in September. Sara C Roethle who is absolutely crushing it right now (seriously, crushing it). Justin Sloan who does a lot of SciFi co-authoring with one of the top Indies in the game, Michael Anderle. Patty Jansen who is another SciFi crossover and has a backlist for miles. Michael McClung who got rave reviews in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO contest. Rafael Hohmann who's debut is riding near the top of the Amazon charts right now. Same for Mike Morris who apparently does have another book out I didn't know about. It looks pretty good... David Estes who I mentioned two days ago is also in this round, but you should already have his book!


Deals & Give Away!

I've got deals from 4 great authors today and a chance to sign up for a give away to get signed copies of our books (roughly $250 in signed merchandise)! I'm like a one man BookBub over here... Check back on Sept 7th for even more deals.

Each of these books is only $0.99 today (Sept 5th) and is also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Buy all four of them for less than you spent on that Venti Unicorn Frap which you will regret 2/3's of the way through. Long post, scroll all the way down for the Give Away.

David Estes "Fatemarked" - Good for people who like reading! This is a big fat epic fantasy that is chock-a-block full of surprises and mystery. You think you know how it will go, then Estes throws a curve-ball. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTEK3NM/

JD Franx "The Legacy" - Another long one. Good for people who like gooey atmospheric fantasy. Death Wizards, Dwarves, ancient witch covens. Inspired by Scottish/Irish castles and the Catacombs in Paris. https://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Darkness-Within-Saga-Book-…/…/

Bryce O'Connor "Child of the Daystar" - I recommended this already when it was in Prime Reading. It's good for people who like Badass Lizard Man Assassins. Yeah. https://www.amazon.com/Child-Daystar-Wings-War-Book-ebook/…/

Jeffrey Quyle "Journey Through the River Cities" - Young man goes on an epic adventure, meets beautiful daughter of noble family. Wait a second, that sounds familiar. Best plot for a book ever!!! Quyle's been writing for a while and has a pretty long backlist, this book is the first in his newest series. https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Through-River-Cities-Memo…/…/

I'm too lazy to set up my own site for our give away, so you can go to David Estes' site to sign up. Disclosure: in exchange for the chance to win about 15 signed books and cds, we do want your e-mail address for our lists. You can unsubscribe at any time, but starting the first week of October, my list will have EXCLUSIVE, FREE, Benjamin Ashwood mini-chapters. You know you want that.



Oops. I switched web hosts and blew up all of my content. Most of it is easy to replicate, but I will not be going back and redoing all of those blog posts. The good news? It's going to be fresh and clean now.

For this blog, I will post updates on the business of publishing - independent and small press. This blog is intended for people who have an interest in the industry and I hope to post about twice a month. If you have no interest in the industry, but are curious what I am up to, I recommend following me on Facebook. I post a few times a week there. Sometimes I have pictures of beer. You can also subscribe to my Newsletter, which I'll send out monthly. It will have news on releases (of course), updates on my writing, any interesting deals or recommendations I've stumbled across, inside tidbits about other authors, and Free Content.

That's right, Free Content. Starting in October I'll include mini-chapters set in the world of Benjamin Ashwood. They'll be told from a different perspective than Ben's and will either shed light on background information or interact with Ben's story in funny/insightful ways.

That's a lot of ways to stay updated! If you have a question, feel free to contact me.