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January 17, 2013
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Your story is complete...now what?

:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Writer
So I have myself in a very frustrating (but no doubt common) situation...bear with me as I explain.

6 years ago, I began the process of writing my first novel, and it became "Mirage - The First of the Nascentian Chronicles".

What started as a 10-page children's book about monsters under the bed has now become a 5-part saga with a 20-story "mini-series" in the middle.

Book 1 (Mirage) was self-published to 100 copies to family and friends, with the intent of getting feedback from everyone who read it. What needed changing? What didn't work? What did you love, and what did you think sucked? That kinda thing.

The feedback came through, the opening chapters completely re-written to better fit a younger audience (make the main character more relatable), and the ending had an additional chapter and a half added to it for better closure.

A week and a half ago, I decided to put the final product on amazon for digital-release. In her first week, Mirage was in the top 5 Mythology Best-Sellers list and was constantly competing with Lord of the Rings for the #1 spot. But now...Mirage isn't even in the top-400,000. I have a distinct feeling that the only sales I have made are from friends, and not a single sale has come from a 'stranger'. The book is selling for $2.99 (If you type "Nascentian" into amazon's search, it'll pop up) so it certainly isn't the price but...

...NOW what?! Aside from spending 90% of my day writing countless emails, spamming my facebook friends (who are probably rolling their eyes at me by now) and signing up on forum after forum after forum, just to get the word out and try to get my numbers up (I kinda want to work on book 2!), what more can I do?

I have followers on Twitter, Facebook, here on Deviantart, and on Google+. My sales should be in the hundred's, but my report shows 18 total.

So how do you keep your book from sinking into the Abyss of obscurity...without spending a ton of money? There is all this talk online about the awesomeness of being an indie author, but they DONT tell you how difficult it is to self-market.

Suggestions? What has worked for you?
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Devious Comments

:iconannalwagner:
AnnaLWagner Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Kickstarter.com? Have a charity to give the book away for free, donate all proceeds to charity intended, get name of book out there. Than word of mouth will happen if its deemed in favor. Even throw up the option of 'If yo udont want to participate in charity and still interested in book, it is available on amazon.. bla bla bla.'

Just an idea. Word of mouth is the most successful tool. Even throw your charity up on reddit if you like for more attention for a supporting cause.
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:iconpandadrake:
Pandadrake Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Go to conventions. Talk to influential people. Set up a web page for your book series. Write a new book.

Stop thinking about what the sales should be, worry about expressing to other people how much this book is worth to you.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013  Professional Writer
Just so happens there is a major fan expo her in Vancouver in the next couple months. May have to get some cards together to hand out while I'm there. Not bad thinking!
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:iconwaiting-for-wings:
waiting-for-wings Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
pure opinion because i have no experience in this but - you already have your name out as much as you probably can other than making friends and encouraging them. try writing another story. if its liked well enough people may look to find other stories written by you. i do it all the time with authors i like.
I don;t know if its practical for you or not but - give it a go.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Professional Writer
lol thanks.

The novel I'm speaking of is book 1 in a series of 5, as well as a 20-volume "mini-series" of 2 page short stories.

Book 2 has already begun and the short-stories will be done periodically when I have a book 2 writer's block and posted on my site as free-to-reads.

I also have 3-4 books planned that are not related to the Nascentian Chronicles in any way, so I have plenty of writing to do ;)

This is just the first step.
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:iconwaiting-for-wings:
waiting-for-wings Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
sounds good other than professional advertising I don't really know what you could do. maybe just work on your other book for now
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:icondjdanilly:
djdanilly Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
If you need a proofreader inbox me.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm going to strongly recommend you clean up what's in your gallery before advertising services, at the moment your latest lit looks like it could use some editing. : O
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:iconjin-saotome:
Jin-Saotome Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Unfortunately, yeah, you need to spend a TON of time 'advertising' your book if you're not actually paying for advertising. Sign up to some online forums that deal in creative writing/fantasy writing. Start sending free copies of it to reviewers maybe?
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:icontiganusi:
tiganusi Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional
A glass of wine and a bl:iconbangkillplz:
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
PS. Has anyone with a strong creative writing background critiqued your book? I mean like harsh truths, minimal time wasted on platitudes critique. Not the friendly stuff.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Professional Writer
lol not really. I could never afford to pay anyone for such efforts. As much as I would love it.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Barter economy. You're a lot better at design work than most authors.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Writer
lol I appreciate that...although I haven't done anything artsy in quite some time...

But: whaddya mean by "Barter Economy"? Trade a design for a review kinda thing?
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Writer
...it's a thought
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Student Writer
There's a lot of discussion about marketing for indie authors out there. Even Mark Coker of Smashwords (huge promoter of self-publishing, naturally) admits that it's difficult to get readers, and he's put out at least one book offering some general tips for how you should try. Search for "Smashwords marketing guide" on Amazon: it's free.

But in terms of advice specific for you, here are a few things I notice:

1) Number One is a biggie. Make sure your book is the absolute best it can be. Yours doesn't leave an amazing first impression. I'm not saying it's terrible, but the sample isn't the sort of thing that really grabs me and says "You need to read this book! Now!". Most samples don't--though maybe they'd have that effect on somebody else--but with this one I can see definite problems. I can't copy and paste from the Amazon sample, but take a look at the sentence beginning "These often felt more like a prison run by mindless idiots..." Frankly, that sentence should never have made it into the book.

First, it begins with a "felt more like" but never manages a "than," so it's somehow been sidetracked. It wants to compare one thing to another thing, but never gets around to describing that other thing.

Second, it's horribly run-on: long, and with no internal punctuation. It's also a grammatical nightmare. You can never do too much proofreading.

Third, it's just a bit lacklustre. "Mindless idiots" seems redundant as "idiots" already implies "mindless." Maybe that's just how the narrator is, but alongside the clunky "brought in by my being there" that whole bit just feels unpolished. I pick this sentence as a particularly obvious example, but always strive to improve your work in general. I notice that at times you seem to capitalise random words (not creatures or races--not even things that need emphasis, as far as I can tell).

This point--number one--should definitely be your top priority. I can tell you want your work to be as good as possible, and that's the right idea. Marketing might boost sales of a mediocre book, or even a bad one, but quality is the only route to true success, and it's a worthy goal in itself.

2) Pronunciation guide, Author's Note, Prologue--1589. That's quite a lot of stuff before the story itself. I'm not saying you should lose these things altogether (though personally I'm not a fan of prologues at all), but opening up a book and seeing "Pronunciation Guide" is never an invitation to keep on reading. It's also a little unnecessary, since how often are people going to want to read these names aloud, and how much does it matter if they pronounce them wrong in the comfort of their own homes? If you must include this sort of thing, consider moving it to the back of the book. Most of it won't be particularly interesting until you've read the story anyway. Nobody is going to memorise the pronunciations of all those names before they start the book, so it's very much a matter of looking them up if you ever want to.

3) Earn some reviews (consider sending copies to book bloggers, for example), and don't just get friends and/or family to give you five stars. We can tell. Not only can we tell, but many people are seriously put off buying books from authors who do this. A review should offer serious insight into the book, saying more than just "This is really good. You should buy it." Ideally, you want a few readers to provide a detailed description of their experience of the book. This sort of information is far more valuable to potential readers than anything you can put in the blurb.

4) Keep at it. Maybe your book isn't a bestseller, but it's out there. That's a lot further than most get. Don't spam people about it, but don't drop it either. Mention it to people you genuinely think might enjoy it--even years from now.

5) Almost (but not quite) the opposite of number four: write another book. As has been said, this is ultimately what you've got to do, and it's the only way to improve as a writer. In terms of marketing, your next book will also be another "path" leading to the first one, even (and almost certainly more so) if it's not a sequel to the first.

I hope this helps, and best of luck. :-)
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:iconvglory:
vglory Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013
I agree that the book should start with a hook straight into the action. The sample pages are not very 'grabby'.
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Student Writer
That's part of the reason I don't like prologues. They don't really let you jump right into the action, since even if the prologue does start with some action, you know it's not the actual beginning of the book. The few I've enjoyed have been very short, and were interesting in their own right. If you have to read the first ten chapters for the prologue to make sense, you're not hooked at the start. :p
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Professional Writer
That is ALOT to go on, thanks!

I have had my own concerns in regards to the book's opening, and it has gone through a number of revisions. The phrase you mention actually comes from a Psychologist friend of mine who works with Foster kids, and he says that such a mentality is common amongst children in the main protagonist's situation. Maybe it certainly needs refnement.

As to the Prologue, it is actually one of my favourite parts of the story, and is essential to the plot in the long-haul.

The pronunciation guide: will certainly be moved to the rear, but it IS essential. Many of the characters in the world of Nascentia involve over 200 very real myths, and some of the names are incredibly hard to pronounce. If they were characters of my own creation, that's one thing...but when the folklore is culturally relevant, I want to make sure the reader 'hears' it correctly as possible.

The reviews: I don't expect anyone to give me 5 stars. In fact, when I saw a friend post a 4-star review instead of a full 5, I was thankful and breathed a sigh of relief. Felt like someone was being honest for a change. Input like what YOU said up in #1 is kinda what I HOPE for and I do honestly roll my eyes everytime I hear "OMG your book is AMAZING and the BEST thing EVAR!!!"

...no it isn't. I'm a first-timer. Naturally it will be rough around the edges and need alot of fine tuning, so quit blowing sunshine up my ass and tell me what needs fixing. SO...Damon...THANK YOU! LOL
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I have to say about the Prologue -- it doesn't sound in the least like something written in 1589. Maybe you modernized the language for readability, but you didn't go all the way with that, so it just sounds like stilted modern English, not how anyone would have actually talked. Shakespeare was writing in 1589; that's what it sounded like then. It also sounds an awful lot like your narrative voice, with your verbal habits. Habits of sentence fragments. Fragments intended to heighten suspense. But don't. (If you see what I mean.) As a letter written by someone other than your narrator, and separated by 400 years, it should sound different.

If it's essential, is it essential as a prologue? Or is there another way to work it into the narrative such that it doesn't grind your book to a halt before it even begins?
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Valid points. Having said that: I wasnt around in 1589, so how would I know what they really spoke like. You use Shakespeare as an example, but everything he wrote was for the stage or in poetic form...I wouldn't exactly rely on that for an example of common-language for that generation. But you do make a point.

As to how else it can be incorporated: it really needs to be there. It comes into play repeatedly throughout the book and there is constant reference back to the events of the letter and even the letter itself. It is a necessity.
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Consider that everything Shakespeare wrote was understandable to his audience. It can't have been too far off for speech, at least as grammar and diction go. But in your case people aren't speaking; you have someone writing a letter. You really can't find any examples of letters from the late 16th century?

I'm taking you at your word that it really needs to be there. What I'm saying is that inserting it as a prologue is an clumsy way to present it.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Writer
How else would you suggest it be implemented?
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I noted from the sample available at Amazon that your main character knows of it. Perhaps instead of telling us about that in flashback -- along with the rest of her history -- you could actually show her finding it.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Writer
That is one consideration. However, he finds the letter when he is 8...and the story begins when he is 20.
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(1 Reply)
:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Student Writer
Happy to help. :-) It seemed like you were getting a lot of general advice about marketing, so I thought it would be worth spending some time looking into the book itself. Amazon in particular makes it really easy to grab samples, so there's little point linking people to it if they're not going to be wowed when they get there. Obviously you shouldn't just improve the sample section--you really don't want readers to feel cheated by the rest of the book--but you do have to consider what sort of impression it gives. The Author's Note and Pronunciation Guide, for example, will be included in the sample but don't contribute much to the book at that stage (they'll do little good unless the reader is already invested in the story). The Prologue doesn't seem to add much to the sample either--as you say, it's more of a long-haul thing--but you can't move it to the end like you can with the others. :shrug:

It's worth bearing in mind, however, that you also pay a price for things tagged onto the end of the book: Amazon's automatic "You've reached the end! Here are some links" page (along with any final Twitter/facebook links you include yourself) won't appear to anyone who reads the story but not the end matter. For my book--a collection of short stories with a non-fiction section at the end--I included a "click here to skip to the end" link at the very beginning of the non-fiction section. You might like to do something similar, particularly as anybody who hasn't already used the pronunciation guide won't be interested in it, and anybody who has used it will already be familiar with it: a bit of a Catch-22. No one will actually read that guide from start to finish once they've reached the end of the book.

I know what you mean about BEST BOOK EVAR reviews. :p As well as generally being suspicious, they don't tell you anything about the book. As the author, you can't use them to improve, and as a reader, I haven't been told anything new except that some guy I don't know really likes it.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Professional Writer
LOL in Film school, I was used to profs telling me "This is the shittiest thing I have ever seen! Re-do it...and try it this way!" In a studio, I was used to the director saying: "Nope. Wrong. Do it again."

So NATURALLY that's kinda what I'm used to and I've learnt how it can improve work in the long run...so thanks again ;) Alot of valid points, and I am very grateful!
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Student Writer
All of this should be listened to.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Blurb and Author-Bio re-written! ;) Thanks guys!
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist
The book looks interesting from the Amazon listing. It sounds like a great story. But I'd agree with the others above, the blurb needs some work. I feel like the root message is lost in an attempt to tell us too much with too few words.

>> Suggestions? What has worked for you?

I'm about to start the marketing adventure, myself. I'll let you know what I find works if you'll share what you do :D
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Sounds like a plan. ;)

The Blurb (as well as the Author Bio) has now been re-done.
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013   Digital Artist
I know nothing about publishing, but as a reader if I could offer some advice on the blurb. :U

To me, it does not sound like a children's book. The blurb is not 'addressed' to a child. It's asking an adult to remember when they were a child. I think it should be more like:

What is your deepest, darkest fear?
Think for a moment.
Think back to those lonely nights.
Mom and Dad were asleep etc.

Also, the rest of the blurb give me this "Enter Sandman" vibe like it's a book for adults about childhood nightmares and horrors and does not make me think it would be suitable for kids. (And how many kids in your target audience know who Vincent Price is?) Also, like other people have said, it doesn't tell me anything about the plot.

Hope that helps/somebody correct me if I'm on the wrong track.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
It's not targeted for kids, but for young-adults....and good point on the Vincent Price thing. I had a 13 year old start to read it and couldn't finish it as it was too scary. So certainly not for children.
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013   Digital Artist
Ok, that makes sense. Well it still doesn't look like "Young Adult" to me. I'm assuming the main character is a teenager then? If you introduce the character and the plot then I think it will give people a better idea of what the story is about and the target audience.

Go to the YA section and have a look at blurbs and see which ones hook you.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Sounds like a plan. The primary characters (there are 2) vary in age. Kellen (the MAIN main character through who the reader is exposed to their world) is 20...barely turned. The book begins on his Birthday.

The other is...14,000 years old. lol
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Besides what's been said, I was looking at your profile you do a ton more visual art than anything else. So a) where are the sample chapters and b) are the people following you following you for your writing or your art? Network and then network some more.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
I have since stopped in art, really. I was once an animator, and ended up being thrown on the street. I haven't really drawn anything in some time, to be honest. The sample chapter is on www.nascentia.net and I have networks established on twitter, facebook, google+, reddit, and other such social networks that are specific to the Nascentian Chronicles.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
When you say 'networks established,' do you mean friends from those sites whom you're now trying to lure into buying the book, or people you've made friends with expressly because of their interest in reading?
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Both? A great number of them I don't even know, to be honest, and every day one or 2 more sign on.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
So shouldn't you get to know them? I mean right now, they've zero incentive to care.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
lol if I knew how to "get to know" nearly 400 people....I'd do it. I'm open to suggestions :p
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Start discussions with them, go to their profiles, etc? Personally I had a good time on the Authonomy forums. But honestly, compelling someone to spend money on you as tough as balls, which is why I'm planning to never self-publish. There must be blogs on the process out there, but I suspect it's pretty individualized.

You could also try editing and then enter the Amazon Breakthrough contest thingy. It allows anything as long as you own all the rights.
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Amazon Breakthrough? Huh...never heard of that...adding it to my list of "To check out"...
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(1 Reply)
:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
For once I actually agree with *neomerlin.  The Best thing you can do for your career is to write the next book.  Write great books.  Don't get so hung up on promoting your current project that you forget to be a writer.

And whether you choose self-publishing or traditional publishing as a path, you need to remember that rank isn't everything, sales are going to be slow at times.  I am a traditionally published author who saw a 0 last week on her sales chart.  (Given this excludes school and library sales, but it freaked me out a bit.)  I still got up the next day and sat down and wrote a couple thousand words on the next book. 

I also think, based on your post here, that it might be a good idea to do some hearty research in how publishing works.  It sounds like you're really passionate, but you have some misconceptions that you're sticking to.  I have a current thread here on the lit forum that might be a good place to start, but there are so many resources out there.  I think it would be helpful to you to just bury yourself in all the information you can WHILE you're writing this next masterpiece. :)
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Student Writer
For once I actually agree with *neomerlin. And the world is now officially coming to an end.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Professional Writer
I know, right?
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:iconkwhipkey:
KWhipkey Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Firstly, congratulations on publishing your book. I went to the amazon page, and while I'll admit that, like everyone else, I kind of got lost in the blurb, the one review you had was enough to make me add it to my wish list. It sounds like a unique and interesting story, and I look forward to reading it at some point.

Your cover is also excellent. Exactly the type of thing that I would have clicked on had I stumbled on it in a list somewhere. So kudos. That's half the battle. But the blurb needs help. It's way too long and kind of convoluted. Is it an excerpt? It needs to be shorter and more to the point, like your reviewer did. (Seriously, thank that guy, because he's helping you out a lot right now in convincing people to buy it.)

So first, I would suggest fixing that before drawing more people to your page. Once you do that, some of the common marketing strategies I've seen other indie authors use are:

1) Giveaways. Use Rafflecopter to give away copies of your book in return for reviews. Or sign up for Goodreads and do the same there. (They're both free, by the way.) Reviews are incredibly important to an indie author, so you need to focus on generating them. (Without stooping to the scandalous methods that rocked Amazon last year, of course.)

2) Blog tours. Google bloggers that write in your genre and approach them about hosting you on their blog. Either with an interview, or a guest post, etc. This will help greatly with your exposure. Every one of their followers will then become a possible customer.

3) Similar to #2, Book Bloggers. These people are the lifeblood of an indie author's success. Same idea as above, Google book bloggers who review books in your genre and see if you can get them to read and review your work. (Probably involves more ARC's, but hey, helps dramatically with exposure.)

4) KDP Select. From the sounds of it, you're only using Amazon at the moment? If so, why not look into trying their KDP Select program for a bit? You do have stay exclusive with them for 90 days, I think, but it will let you offer your book for free for 5 days (a month, I believe, but don't quote me on that.) This is a fantastic way to drum up interest and reviews. Yes, you'll take a hit in sales possibly, but you'll potentially reach thousands of new fans. At this point in your career, it's more about exposure than anything else. So I'd suggest giving it a whirl.

5) Author Website. Not sure if you have this yet, but you'll need one. Check out Wordpress. They have a free option, or you can pay $12 to use your own URL. They're pretty user friendly and you can easily make a website with the templates they offer. This should be the hub of your online persona, so you'll want to fill it with things about your book, as well as maybe even a blog.

6) Keep Writing. Someone already said this below, but part of being a successful indie author is being prolific. So work on Book 2 and get it finished as quickly as possible. With every release, you should see a boost in sales for your previous titles as well. Or so they say.

That's all I can think of right now. I haven't tried the above strategies myself yet (except for the blog part, which you could check out here: [link], if you want), so I can't tell you how successful they are. But I have done a TON of research on the subject in preparation for my own journey into self-publishing. The above information is a compilation of the most common approaches I've read about. Hopefully they help! :)
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:iconhobbitpunk:
HobbitPunk Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
1) I have never hear of Rafflecopter before, so I will certainly look into it, as well we Goodreads! Thanks so much for those!

2) A friend of mine is actually currently working on scheduling such a tour for me as she is more into the blogging thing than I am, so that base is about to be covered ;)

3) See #2 above ;)

4) KDP Select: Yes. Mirage is currently enrolled in KDP Select, and has been from the start.

5) I have a website that is about the book series but has an author section to it, with a link to an author-blog.

6) Oh I am still writing! ;) The advantage of the world created in the Nascentian Chronicles, is that when dealing with world folklore..there is always something new to add into the plot. :p

Thanks for your response, my friend!
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:iconkwhipkey:
KWhipkey Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Professional Writer
You're welcome! Although it sounds like you already knew pretty much everything I suggested. So not sure how helpful it really was. Best of luck anyway though. :)
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