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Death is for the Living launch!

Death is for the Living launch!

Death is for the Living launch!

“When ‘here be monsters’ doesn’t only mark the unknown…”

With the Death is for the Living launch, I can finally call myself a sci-fi and urban fantasy author. I’m excited about this. Not only was Death is for the Living somewhat of a pet project for me (OK, all my books are pet projects, who am I kidding), but I wasn’t at all sure how it would be received.

I mean, vampire hunters, yachts, and the Caribbean? It’s a bit of eclectic mix. On the other hand, it met the reviewers, and so far the results have been very encouraging:

Readers' Favorite 5 starYes, pirates, vampires, vampire hunters and storms at sea can exist within the pages of one book — and they do it so well in Death is for the Living. It’s most highly recommended.” ~Readers’ Favorite 5 star review by Jack Magnus

 

I wanted to be mad at the author for the ending; how could they do this! But it was perfect! It ended the way the whole book was written, with mystique.” ~Readers’ Favorite 5 star review by Peggy Jo Wipf

I wrote the first draft of this book a really, really long time ago, and frankly had no intention of publishing it. I missed sunshine (any sunshine, I was living in Yorkshire at the time), palm trees, wind in my face, and the ability to go anywhere without supervision. (No, I wasn’t in juvie…boarding school.) However, one day I floated the idea (oh, ha) in a writers’ group, and instead of getting a roar of laughter, I got some ‘hmm, sounds interesting’ reactions, and began to seriously consider tuning the book up for publication.

While the yacht I grew up on was a 45-foot Mudie ketch, not a schooner nearly twice that size, a lot of the day-to-day aboard a yacht scenes are pulled from my experience living aboard, as are some of the locations (you can read more about those on the book page). I did most of the research on the places I hadn’t visited in the depths of last winter, and let me say that there’s nothing like researching the best sailing approach to Trinidad while there’s a foot of snow on the ground outside.

So, without further ado, here’s the teaser text:

By day, Cristina Batista is a deck girl on a Caribbean charter yacht, with all the sun, smiles, and steel drum music that entails. By night, she and her crew hunt the monsters that prey in the dark: the powerful vampire clans of the New World.

Unfortunately Cristina’s past is hunting her in turn – and it’s catching up. Without her partner, sometime pirate, sometime lordling, and ex-vampire, Jean Vignaud, Cristina wouldn’t simply be dead. She’d be something she fears far more.

Cristina and Jean are experienced, motivated, and resourceful. One faction wants them despite it. The other wants them because of it.

You can sit in for an interview both Cristina and Jean if you’d like to get to know them a bit better, or learn a little bit about yacht Artemis – or keep going for ‘buy’ links to contribute to my coffee fund 🙂

Get a copy of Death is for the Living:

E-book publishing 101: Draft 2 Digital

E-book publishing 101: Draft 2 Digital

Draft 2 Digital, or D2D

Draft 2 Digital is one of the sites that helps you go from ‘I can haz wordz!’ to ‘I’m a published author.’ D2D is one of two major content aggregators in the publishing world; the other is Smashwords.

A content aggregator takes your manuscript and creates a customised file or files, which then allow it to push your book to its affiliate sites, e.g. iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. Think of it as a centralised distribution for your book to multiple sales channels. Both Smashwords and D2D do also distribute to Amazon if you want them to, although Amazon makes it very easy to set your manuscript up with them directly.

Content aggregators are particularly important if you live in one of those areas outside the United States, where reputable currency is deemed to be non-existent and we barter with trade items. Various booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble, cannot make payments to certain areas (Canada was my personal example).

However, both Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital can and do pay to PayPal, among other options, and do have an affiliation with multiple booksellers. This is to say that not only can you format your manuscript once and it goes to ten or more distribution outlets, but you get your reports in one place, and your payments in one place.

Disclaimer: I publish with Draft 2 Digital, among others.

Draft 2 Digital: the bare essentials

  • Working Internet browser
  • Word processing software, ditto functional
  • Your manuscript, ideally in .docx or other D2D-accepted format
    • If you have already formatted for Amazon, you can use your Amazon manuscript file for D2D and it will need at most minor tweaks
  • Your book blurb (back jacket text)
  • E-book cover art
    • And for the love of all the little wriggly deities, if you’re going to spend money on any one part of the publishing process, do it here. Get a professional cover designer and a professional cover. Don’t photograph your baby cousin’s finger-painting and use PowerPoint to paste your title in on top of it. Your cover is the thing online book buyers see. If that doesn’t interest them enough to stop and read your blurb and open your book, nothing else about your book matters because the buyer will never see it.
  • Your PayPal email (or other bank account set-up details)
  • Your local tax identification information – the interview is relatively painless, but you’ll need to tell them where you pay tax.

Start here

You’ll need to go and set up your D2D account. You’ve done this before at some point; you’ll need your name, a sacrificial email address, your publishing company name (which is your pen name if you haven’t created a registered company), and a password. It takes a couple of minutes, and you’re in.

Head over to the ‘My Account’ area; you aren’t quite done. Go into ‘Payment Options’. This is where you’ll need that tax identification information I listed up top.

Tell the nice D2D folks where you live and how you want to get paid. I use PayPal because it’s convenient for me, but fill your boots with your option of choice. You’ll also need to take the tax interview to either set up your tax payment in the United States, or if like me you live somewhere where beaver skins are the preferred payment method, then you tell them your citizenship, country of residence, country where you pay tax, and your tax ID for that country, and they will generate the appropriate documentation for you in their system.

Book set-up

…because that’s what we’re really here for, after all.

Click ‘Add new book’. (Pretty self-explanatory, right?). It’ll ask you to upload your manuscript. They ask for .docx, but they also accept anything MS Word-readable, and if you have a pre-formatted .epub file, they’ll take that as well.

Enter your book details – title, blurb, ISBN if you have one, etc. Select your BISAC categories. Don’t panic about this; you’re really just telling the system where your book would be displayed in a brick and mortar store. Would it be under Comparative Religion, or Fiction / Thriller? Once you’re done with that, pick some keywords. If you’ve done a lot of research into keywords for your book, good for you, you know what to do. If you haven’t, and are staring at this next hurdle in blind panic, take a deep breath. If you were searching for your book in the search bar, what’s the first word or phrase you would type in to find it? Great. Put that in. Do it again. Shoot for at least six or seven keywords or phrases, don’t repeat words that are already in your title or your BISAC selections.

Check all your fields, take a deep breath, and click the ‘Save and Continue’ option.

Cover and layout

Upload your cover. Your professionally-designed cover, please God, unless you’re a whole lot better at graphic design than I am and know exactly what you’re doing.

While that’s crunching through upload, check your chapter layout. Unless you made a real dogs’ breakfast of your MS formatting, you should see a list of entries you recognise, and which match your Table of Contents in the file you uploaded. (Please note, if you opted to upload an epub, you won’t have to go through this section; D2D will siply accept your epub formatting.)

Once the cover’s uploaded, and once you’re happy that the chapters displayed are right, click ‘Save and continue’.

Now you’re in the preview section, and this is where D2D really shines. Depending on your genre, and how you want your book to end up, you can select from a variety of pre-programmed layouts. For those of us who don’t have an epub formatting program, and know next to nothing about it, this is great because you have some limited formatting options and, best of all, you don’t have to upload a .docx and pray the epub comes out legible: D2D shows you a preview.

Pricing and distribution

Basically, D2D lets you set up shop on their site for free. They make their money (as do you) when you sell a book. They take a small amount from your book price based on some alchemy around storing and transferring your book file to the reader. All the rest is yours. Not a bad deal, compared to the pittance a traditional publisher will give you when they sell a copy of your book.

Pick your book price. Oddly enough, cheaper isn’t always better. (Yes, I am going to stand this up with some sources – patience, grasshopper.) For an average novel length (75K – 150k words, let’s say), the recommended price point for sales versus being taken seriously tends to be about $2.99 – $3.99 USD for most genres.

Who died and made me God? Here’s some articles on book pricing you can check out.

Now…hit ‘Save and Publish’.

Congratulations, you’re a published author. Go and check out your masterpiece under ‘My Books’, admire the cover design, make sure it’s going out to all the right distribution channels, and spend a moment patting yourself on the back and enjoying the moment.

Extra – read all about it!

One other thing that D2D offers that Smashwords and Amazon don’t make quite so streamlined, if they offer it at all; audio books. D2D has a partnership with Findaway Voices, whereby you get a special offer on audiobook set-up (no fees until you actually settle on a narrator).

D2D will provide you with the set-up interview, where you give Findaway a bit of additional information on your book and select the ideal characteristics for your narrator, and then you hit ‘go’ and wait for them to send you the follow-up with potential narrators to your email.

While I was spoilt in terms of audiobooks as a child by the BBC version of The Hobbit, with a full cast of voices and full sound FX, and therefore almost never bother to pick up single-voice book narrations (because I’d rather read it to myself and get the full cinematic immersion in my head), a lot of folks do like narrated books, either because of vision difficulties, lifestyle, or whatever else.

I’m trialling the system with Death is for the Living, just to see if it’s feasible.

Don’t write what you know

Don’t write what you know

Don’t ‘write what you know’, it’s boring. Be a little daring, my children.

‘Write what you know.’ always makes me grin, but then again I mostly write about an interstellar mercenary cult. If I were writing what I knew, I’d be dead. Of course, according to any sane standards (or at least a jury of my friends and peers, who may or not qualify as sane), I should be dead several times over anyway. And have the good sense not to laugh about it (I digress).

It’s something authors and wannabe authors hear a lot. ‘Write what you know.’ That little oft-cited piece of wisdom may well be the white fluffy pillow applied to the mouth and nose of many a promising fiction career. One of the problems with writing what you know is that a lot of other people probably know it too.

“Writers should not be in the business of propping up stereotypes.” ~ Douglas Adams

I’d prefer to tell new authors to step out of their comfort zones. Write something that’s going to diagonally-park someone’s brain in their humdrum existence of parallel lines. Write something that’s going to make them run away to join the Space Marines and leave their resignation nailed to their office door with their lunchbox.

I’d advise taking what you know, spreading it out flat, cutting it into interesting shapes, reciting the names of a few demons over it, shaking it vigorously in stardrive lubricant, and then give writing about it a shot. If nothing else, the fumes from the stardrive lube should have woken your Muse up.

Of course, enough research to be clear on the fact that there is no black hole between Earth and Mars is a good idea (true story). Research never hurts. Well, unless you’re one of my friends, who mislaid their bag with one of their notebooks in it, and got picked up and questioned by the police because part of their plot was notes on how to dispose of an unwanted ex. (Seriously, you can’t make this shi*t up.) Or…I digress again.

Instead of ‘write what you know’ coming in on every channel, let’s try a little ‘write something new and different’, or  ‘write whatever you can’t stop writing.’

Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more

Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more

Ryder Author Resources

…well, they do pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, reliably and within the meagre range of my budget; they offer author resources and services, including outreach to book bloggers, promo images, beta reading, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter management, and they’re willing to talk to you about other things on an ad-hoc basis.

I first met RAR! through my review blog (oh, yes, I do). They struck me as professional, (extremely) patient, and someone to look up when I had some cash to throw at book reviews for my own books. Among other things, I especially appreciated that they stayed in touch on social media, and seemed to have a similar sense of humour. (I’m not sure if that last is actually a compliment, but moving on…).

The set-up

Ryder Author Resources recently (well, since July 2018) updated their website, and the services they offer out of the box are clearly outlined on their author services page, along with how to get in touch with them to discuss other things.

They offer either package quotes, or an hourly rate for longer-term things, like looking for book reviewers. For longer-term things, they send out weekly updates to you on what they’ve been up to and how it’s going. The invoices show up monthly and itemised, with online credit card payment options – it’s all very painless and simple.

The results

Awesome! Not only have they patiently and persistently hunted down sci-fi reviewers, they also put me onto Hidden Gems, and all told Through the Hostage is now well past the miraculous 15 review mark on Amazon and headed for twenty-five. That’s not even counting readers who review to private blogs and / or Goodreads, or a few fantastic folks who review everywhere they have an account.

I was nervous about going in with any kind of professional publicist, as prior to Ryder Author Resources, I’d had a string of bad experiences, including someone who absconded with a substantial amount of cash and did absolutely nothing, but RAR! has gone a long way to restoring my faith in humanity. The team behind the RAR! are also genuinely nice people, and the weekly update emails and online exchanges are always a fun experience.

I’d definitely go in with them for reviewer outreach, and based on my experience with them on gaining a few more reviews for Through the Hostage, I don’t have any qualms saying that if they say they do something, then it will be done, and you’ll have a fun team behind you on the way.

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi

‘If you can’t provoke any emotion, there’s little point in writing.’

Buy the books!

Coming soon!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I started writing in August 2016, because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre and I wanted to share my stories with people. My goal is to become a professional writer and my dream is to have one of my books turned into a movie.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I will pick only a couple of authors, like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman,  Norman Spinrad, John Scalzi, Paolo Bacigalupi, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Clayton Emery,  Joe Abercrombie.

Tell me a bit about your books.

The Restoration: A reptilian species uses time travel as a weapon to enslave other civilizations.

I published a revised edition of The Restoration in the summer of 2018. This book is available on all Amazon websites.

SS Vagabond: In a distant dystopian future, Captain Edward Turner is struggling to survive, transporting goods and passengers with his freighter, SS Vagabond. Eileen, the second in command and Edward’s lover, urges him to accept a risky yet lucrative mission to Mars.

I am only a couple of chapters away, and I will release SS Vagabond in the autumn of 2018.

Starship “Apple of Discord”: The Galaxy would not be the same, after the kidnapping of an alien crown princess.

I finished the first three volumes of Starship “Apple of Discord” on November 11, 2017. Between the three they cover more than 1300 pages and 350k words. Now I am waiting for an answer from several publishing houses from the US, UK, Canada and European Union. It will take a while and I am not sure that those publishers will agree to publish my space opera, since I am a debutant author.  So, if you know any literary agents or publishers send them my way.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I will continue to write more volumes on Starship “Apple of Discord”, because this saga isn’t finished yet. However, I plan to write other Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I started already to write a Fantasy novel, and I hope to publish it by Christmas 2018.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

I believe that a person is defined by their actions. The same applies to a book character. I tried to create realistic characters, regardless they are humans, aliens or from folklore (elves, dwarves, pirates etc.) Also my characters are evolving during the story and they are inviting the readers to care about them.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I don’t have the support of a publishing house therefore I am an independent author now.  Yet marketing is my kryptonite so I am looking for a serious publisher that will take care of this.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

That’s true. People can’t live only with the daily bread. Reading enriches your knowledge and this helps you evolve as a human being.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

I will start with the infamous writer’s block – I experienced this too but I learned how to deal with this issue. When I am exhausted or I have no inspiration, I leave my writing desk for a while and I try to recharge my batteries by traveling, reading, swimming etc. As I wrote before, marketing is my nemesis. Although I don’t care too much about money, I consider that a book without readers is like a flower without pollinators. According to my beta readers, my books are good and I enjoy every time when they tell me this. Actually, I’m embarrassed and my face turns red like a lobster when I hear that.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I always start with the title. Then I create a short plot that would become the backbone of my story. I add characters and details on the fly.  I like to be creative and to write genuine books. My beta readers can confirm this. I used knowledge of physics, mathematics, biology, psychology, genetics, history, geography, computer science, chemistry, astronomy and xenology to create my books. Also, I invented genuine names for everything: planets, animals, plants, items, ships, characters etc. I made a database with all this information in order to keep track of them. The readers will not be bored with science facts and this huge dictionary, because the story line will flow easy and naturally. Also, I created some bits of alien languages for my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, I love to plant Easter eggs in my books and in my book covers too. For example I know about the unlucky numbers from different cultures around the world and I use them to warn the readers that something terrible would happen in my book. Friday the 13th is the most common example.

Also I love to design my book covers. I don’t like to buy pre-made covers. There are high chances that these wouldn’t fit with my story line. I love designing my covers. Sometimes I paid artists to bring to life my vision – this is the case of the famous redheaded android of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”I am aware that I am only an amateur designer, a newbie, a rookie etc., but this doesn’t stop me to try. I am an indie author with a limited budget and I am not ashamed for I tried GIMP and many other freebies. I am grateful because they exist.

For the cover of my book The Restoration I chose a reptilian alien eye that dwarfs a city in flames. Also this city is mirrored upside down accordingly with the title.

The cover of my Sci-Fi novel SS Vagabond raised a tsunami of opposite opinions when I presented it in public. The cover depicts a woman and a cat having in background the highest volcano in our solar system, Olympus Mons. I was accused that I use a cliché – beautiful women who are selling wellness products and the cats that are damn popular on Internet. In my defence, I can tell you that the science fiction novel SS Vagabond is really about a woman and her cat that are doing a voyage to Mars. Most critiques I received from established cover designers who were upset because I didn’t ask for their services. They accused me of being stubborn too, although I didn’t disregard their advice and I fixed some minor artistically issues that had my cover. I want to thank Keith Draws (https://keithdraws.wordpress.com/) and author &  cover designer Louise Blackwick for their invaluable help.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

My hobbies are Science fiction and Fantasy genre, movies, gaming, traveling, cooking, nature, wildlife, geography, history, astronomy, science, space exploration and weird phenomena as  UFO and USO (unidentified submerged objects – possible alien vehicles or living fossils like Megalodon).

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Yes, I would love to live in the universe of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”. I did what George Lucas did it for Star Wars, minus the movies and the lightsabers. Although George Lucas was my model, Starship “Apple of Discord” is not a clone of Star Wars and I have introduced in my space opera cool features too.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Write earlier and publish more books.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Sometimes I listen to epic music when I write. I like Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, Lindsey Stirling & Peter Hollens, Hans Zimmer and Jan Chmelar.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Ignorance is bliss.

Tell me three unique things about you.

#1: The Restoration is my first published book.  Although I was working on Starship “Apple of Discord”, in the spring of 2017 I decided to take a break and learn more about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Therefore, I created this Sci-Fi story. The initial impression was favorable and The Restoration received 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, later, Amazon decided to change the rules in the middle of the game and removed all reviews posted by people who received free books on promotions. This happened to The Restoration. Now it has 3.5 stars, because the person who posted this review said that this is a great book but complained about my English skills. My English was rough when I started writing, but the more I write, the more my writing style has evolved.

#2: As I wrote above, I started working on my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord” long before The Restoration. Actually, I had the idea for this book from when I was a student. One day I had a stomachache and I decided to skip class. It was a cloudy day and nobody was walking down the street. There were no cars either. I remember the appeasing silence and the dim light – the same happened during a solar eclipse that I observed long before that. An idea crossed my mind, “What if…”

When I got home, I started writing in my notebook the story that later became Starship “Apple of Discord”. Unfortunately, I was busy with my studies, then I needed to search for a job, and then I started a family. I kept postponing the writing of this book. In the spring of 2016, I went to the hospital, because I had peritonitis. After the intervention, I was in coma because of the anesthetist. When I woke up, it was the middle of August. I was thinking a lot of what happened to me and I decided to write again. Of course, technology has evolved a lot therefore I adapted the original story to accommodate these advancements. Also I expanded it.

#3: I was inspired by Greek Mythology to choose this title. I like the ancient legends of the golden apple. Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to a party. So, she threw a golden apple into the ceremony. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera (the symbol of power and influence), Athena (the symbol of glory and wisdom), and Aphrodite (the symbol of beauty and desire).They brought the matter before Zeus, but he was cunning and declined this responsibility. Zeus assigned a man named Paris to solve this conflict. He made his choice and the aftermath was that the Trojan War started. You will find an unusual interpretation of this legend in my space opera.

Thanks for having me. Friends call me Andrew. I was born in August ’77 therefore I chose my nickname ACE977. I do NOT use a pen name.

I live in the European Union, Romania – you know, the country of Dracula and the World Tennis Associations number 1 ranked, Simona Halep. I work as an IT Engineer and I write in my spare time.

Andrew, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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