Blog Tour: Great Minds

sleep-tight_826049Greetings, Dreamers!

Mark Meier, a fellow writer, asked me to join a blog tour last week.  I am very grateful to be recognized by my colleagues and be asked to join in the fun!

Before I answer the questions for the tour, I’d like to introduce another blogger/writer with amazing insight and ability, Victoria Craven.  Victoria runs the blog, The Autodidact in the Attic, which focuses on the macabre, horror and a wide variety of intellectual stimulus.  Here is her bio:

V.L. Craven lives with her husband and pets. She writes fiction—both short and long—and reviews of books, films & art, as well as essays, articles and interviews with all sorts of interesting people.

She’s always appreciated the darker side of life, which is the focus of her blog The Autodidact in the Attic, (see also its Facebook page). TAitA has reviews of books, films, art, apps and games (and interviews with creators of those things) that will appeal to people with an interest in the macabre or gothic.

Other Ways to Interact with Her:
On Twitter: @vlcraven
On Tumblr: vlcraven.tumblr.com
On Goodreads: V. L. Craven

She will be posting her answers to the blog tour questions next Monday, so do yourself a favor and check out her amazing site.

Now on to my answers:

1) What am I working on?

I am always working on a variety of projects simultaneously,  that’s just how my brain works.  Right now,  I am doing a serial short story on this blog, writing Book II in the Waking Dream Series — The Unkindness — and I am involved in a collaborative series with two other authors (details to come later this year).  My Waking Dream Series is the primary focus and I am always doing research as the it covers alternate history, philosophy, and science.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write novels and short stories.  My short stories tend to be very dark.  My favorite short stories are the ones I write in Lovecraftian style.  I am no Lovecraft, mind you, however I have enormous respect for his creations and imagination.

The Waking Dream series is really a mixture of many genres, so it is very hard to put it in any one box — I am not a fan of being pigeonholed.  The Waking Dream Series is an attempt to blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  Much of the subject matter is based on years of research.  I have always been fascinated with the paranormal and the supernatural — specifically the potential of the human mind.  The Waking Dream is my attempt to present a plausible framework for readers to suspend their disbelief and explore their own lives.  Life is a dream, if you really think about it.  We always have control over how our lives go, no matter the situation.  And once you believe that, you can do anything.

The Waking Dream series has elements of horror, paranormal, supernatural, romance, dystopia, apocalyptic events and fantasy.  It is very dark.  One of my fans put it, “It’s the Matrix meets The Stand”.  The first book is my Fellowship of the Ring. It is the twilight before the sun sets on our world. The subsequent books will descend further into the darkness of reality and the human mind.

One final note, there are many things hidden within the stories and novels, tying them together as well as giving avid readers something to discover within the text.  Everything in the Waking Dream Series is carefully calculated.  What have you found hidden within the story?

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love to create worlds.  The Waking Dream is, as I mentioned, an attempt to impart all I’ve learned about the human condition and get the reader to explore and create their own dream.  The world seems to be at an impasse, and we are not moving forward as we should from a philosophical sense.  While the Waking Dream is fiction, there are elements of truth in ever sentence I write — the things I believe to be true.

I write the Lovecraftian stories because I want his legacy to continue, as well as many other authors.  Being able to create a story that emulates the master gives me a sense of humility.  Many writers have walked in his footsteps, but his personal commitment to his craft is something to be admired, respected and remembered for all time.

4) How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a specific process for writing.  When I feel like writing, I write.  And because I have a wide variety of projects I am working on at any given time, I choose the project to work on that most suits my particular mood.  I believe that an author needs to be prolific to be successful.  Very few authors become successful with one book, or even their first book.  The more work you have out, you have a better chance of being discovered by new readers.  It is a snowball effect.

One thing I do tend to stick to in any project is that I usually begin with an illustration.  Next to writing, illustrating is one of my favorite hobbies.  I have over 50 illustrations for the Waking Dream,  as well as maps.  I want the Waking Dream to be similar to the Cthulhu Mythos so that other authors can contribute their own stories to the ever-growing Waking Dream Universe.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into my writing career.  Perhaps you’ll be interested in reading my work, which is listed on the right side bar.  Please be sure to check out Victoria Craven’s answers next Monday on her blog.

Happy Monday!

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Self-Publishing is Not a Sin

Greetings, Dreamers!

Today I wanted to just talk a bit about Self-Publishing for all my friends and followers who are also self-publishing.  I have learned a great deal about the industry, and the traditional publishers are starting to see that they are quickly becoming antiquated.

My first book Waking Dream: Devlin is actually published through a real publisher.  However, my novellas and Immortal Memories are self published.

After a great deal of thought, it occurred to me that most publishers are now moving to Print On Demand and eBook services.  The same exact services that one can get through Amazon, CreateSpace or Smashwords. So I’ve decided, at least for the moment, to stay with self-publishing.  But here are some observations that you may find helpful.

Good Investments:

If you are not a graphic designer, then you should definitely get someone to design the cover for you.  The cover does say a lot about a book, regardless of the saying.  I have read some really terrible books with amazing covers, and some really good books with very bland covers.  But customers do judge your book by the cover.  It is worth paying 300 to 400 dollars for a nice cover.

If you are not an editor yourself, you should definitely have someone edit your work.  But, you can do it yourself if you turn on ALL of the proofing features in your Word Processor, and read why it is flagging something.  But, it is a good investment to get a good editor to make sure that the book flows, that you have continuity in tense, and the dreaded “missing word” syndrome which I often suffer from.  Make sure you get an editor that likes your genre, any old editor will not do, and make sure they have a good track record.

If you are not familiar with print formatting, it can be very difficult.  There are many videos and articles on formatting your book for print, but it is usually fairly cheap to have a professional do it for you.

After that, the only other good investment is making sure YOU read your novel a few times.  When you think you’re done, read it one more time.  Yes, it can get tedious, but it is a very good investment in your time if you want to be successful.

Bad Investments:

Do not ever pay for reviews.  The only thing a reviewer should get is a copy of your book.  Paid reviews are a waste of money, and you run the risk of paying money for a terrible review.  There are many blog reviewers on WordPress.  You simply have to send them a query and ask if they’d be interested.

Ads on Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads are a waste of money you can invest in other things, such as flyers, business cards, posters and copies to sign at an event.  I did a great deal of experimentation on this, and I have found unless you are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for high profile websites, you are just throwing money down the drain.  You should be the advertiser.  You can go to forums, join book clubs, and groups on various social media outlets.  You are your own best marketer.  You wrote it, so you know how to sell your book.

Swag item give-aways are another waste of money.  Most people will come get your swag, then leave.  If you want to do give-aways of your books for reviews, that is the best thing you can give away.

Do not pay for entry into an award!  Any award that requires you to pay for it, is probably not reputable, and the award will mean nothing.  Some of the real book awards, such as the Bram Stoker, or the Amazon Breakout Novel Award are reputable, and they also will consider self-published books.  There are many others out there, you just have to do some searching.

Organizations:

A professional writer’s organization is an excellent investment.  Some require you to have been published, even if its just a short story.  I am a member of the Horror Writers Association which does not require you to be published to become a member.  The Author’s Guild will also allow self-published authors once they hit a certain number of sales.  But they both offer services that help authors establish themselves and become more successful.

Social Media:

Here is one of the biggest things I’ve been analysing for quite some time.  I have found that the best social media outlet to advertise your book is Twitter, without a doubt.  But, you should be thoughtful about your tweets, and don’t tweet every 5 minutes “Buy my book”. You should craft a variety of tweets, trying to include your tag-lines, or short quotes, or even review excerpts.  You can # the genre you are in, and ask for RTs.  Which brings me to my next point, followers.

Finding followers is an onerous task.  You shouldn’t just start following anyone you see in your recommended, or other author’s followers.  Use the search tool to find tweets by people who like you genre or the themes in your book.  Follow these people.  Also follow other authors, because its not a competition.  Writers are readers too, and I have found that they will RT you if you return the favor. Make sure that only 25 to 30 % of your tweets are about your book.  Tweet links to things related to your book subject matter, or other books in your genre.  Let your followers know that you’re a real person, and ALWAYS respond to your followers when appropriate. Remember, you need them more than they need you.

The next most important social media aspect is blogging.  You are a writer, so you can certainly come up with things to blog about!  This allows your readers to see what kind of person you are, how well your write, and it allows you to engage them in comments.  Blogging has been the biggest part of gaining readership.  If they like your blog, chances are, they will buy your books.  And don’t just blog about your books.  Blog about writing and offer tips.  Write flash fiction, short stories or poems.  Anything that will show your fans that you are dedicated to being a writer, and not just sitting back waiting for the millions to come rolling in.

Pricing:

Be reasonable when pricing your book.  There is nothing wrong with a .99 cent book.  In general, readers are more apt to buy your book if its between .99 cents and 4.99, depending on the length.  If you are self publishing,  the lower the better to get lots of people buying and reading it, and hopefully review it.  My guideline is usually, .99 cents for anything less than 17K words, between 17K and 40K  1.99 to 2.99 and anything above that between 2.99 and up.  Pretty simple really.

My final note on self-publishing is that you have to be patient, diligent and realistic.  The publishing world is changing, so don’t give up just because you have slow sales.  Keep writing, be prolific, and make sure your work is polished.  There are more than enough readers in the world, and they will always want new books to read.

Whether you are self-published or traditionally published, you will not be quitting your day job with your first book.  At least not when its initially released!

Good luck!

Author Portal Launched

michael hibbardI am happy to announce the launch of my author site which is the portal to all things related to me, my books and my other projects. http://michaelhibbardauthor.com

This site will grow to encompass all my works, even beyond the Waking Dream series. I thank you all for your constant support, and I look forward to releasing my first novel in September.  My second book is a collection of short stories to further explore the Waking Dream while I finish writing Book II — The Unkindness.

If you are interested in reviewing the book on your blog, or website, early eBook versions will be made available to serious inquirers.  I will give away up to 50 review copies.  If you want to review the book, please send me an email at arkangyl@msn.com or a mention on twitter @arkangyl [Please no DMs]