Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Hey Everybody!

You may have noticed the blog has a new name and a new header.  I wanted a more professional look and a more professional introduction for new visitors.  (You guys already know how professional I am.  Quit laughing.  I'm serious.  Okay, well, maybe not entirely serious, but I am trying to find some modicum of professionalism here.)

So, Outside the Box.  I came up with the name and did the header, then I showed Hubs who promptly said he follows a firm who's newsletter is called 'Outside the Box'. :shrug:  Since they aren't novelists, I'm cool with that.

If you've been following along, you already heard the story of the rat in the rice paper maze.  If not, it goes something like this.  Once there was a lab rat who ran the same maze every day to get to his food.  But the maze was made of rice paper and if the rat had only realized how flimsy his maze was, he could've ripped through the walls and reached his goal so much quicker.  I did debate on naming the blog "Breaking through the Maze", but then I'd have to explain the story over and over again.  Instead, I took a more known form of the basic moral to the story.  The box holds us back, so I broke down the cardboard.  I'm living live outside the box now.

Basically, I've gone rogue.  I'm done with traditional publishing and, as hard as it may be, I'm doing all this myself.  Yay!  Go me! 

And they can take that box and shove it.  Yeah, yeah, someday someone from traditional publishing may hunt me down and make me an offer.  I'll deal with that if it ever happens.  (I'm not holding my breath because blue isn't a good look for facial color.) 

Anyway, here I am.  Out of the box and happy.  At last.

I have some other things coming up.  Not so much changes, but additional steps in the direction I've been trying to take all these years.  Book 2 is well on its way to a release date.  (Official announcement in my newsletter on May 1st, so if you want to know ahead of everyone else, sign up.)  I'll be paying the new cover artist for my third book today - and his work is freakin' amazing. (Also being announced in the newsletter.)

Accidental Death will be be on Omnimystery News with a cover release on May 8th and a book excerpt on May 15th - so if you aren't following their blog, you should think about that. 

I can't think of anything else right now, but if anything else comes up, I'll let you know. 

As always, thanks for stopping by.  Bring a friend next time.  We'll party.  (And by party, I mean non-alcoholic drinks and ultra-fattening desserts.)



Monday, April 27, 2015

Self-Publishing Data - Part Two

It occurred to me sometime late Friday afternoon that there was something I wanted to put into the post that I had forgotten.  Numbers. 

First off, let me remind you that I am a total tightwad.  Also, if I didn't have Hubs behind me assuring me that the budget is there, I would be tighter with my publishing budget.

Also, since I don't like talking about money publicly, the numbers I'll be giving here are percentages of the total amount Hubs has budgeted for each book, and percentages of total money spent.

Dying Embers:

Total Spent to Date percentage of total budget - 79%

Of the amount spent:
Editing - 27%
Cover Art -53%
Marketing - 20%

With Accidental Death, I went a little different - just to see what would happen.

The early numbers for Accidental Death break down like this:
Total Spent to Date percentage of total budget - 21%
Total of projected expenditures vs Total Budget -  50%

Of the amount projected:
Editing - 44%
Cover Art - 6%
Marketing - 50%

Lastly, I have totally projected book numbers because I haven't spent a dime on Djinnocide yet.

I expect to spend 100% of the per-book budget on this.

Editing - 25%
Cover Art - 37.5%
Marketing - 37.5%

Obviously, those numbers are flexible.  I'm still not done spending on Dying Embers, for instance.  I'll do some more marketing for that when Accidental Death is closer to coming out.  And I'm not sure if I'll end up spending 50% of the remaining budget money on marketing for Accidental Death (especially since I'm only projecting to spend half of the total budget getting that book to market anyway). 

This first year of self-punishing... I mean, self-publishing... is all about seeing what works and how it works and then adjusting accordingly.  Accidental Death is coming in lower because I did the cover myself, but then again, the subject matter lent itself more easily to a self-done cover.  The cover art for Djinnocide will be going up again because graphic design with Photoshop won't create the cover I want and, while I can draw, I don't have the skill to create what I want. 

It's all a learning curve. 

I hope that helps provide some more insight for those of you out there interested in self-publishing - whether for yourself, a loved one, or for curiosity sake. 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  I'll answer what I can.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Self-Publishing Data

Yeah, yeah, it's like totally verboten to talk about the hard facts of self-publishing, but you'd be surprised how many people want to know.  And it's not like the gatekeepers of traditional publishing can do a damn thing to stop me. so here they are - the facts as they pertain to me.

Fact 1:  I can put out a quality, edited, professional looking book in about three months.  Lucky for me, I have books already in the hopper, so I can still be pretty lazy and still make my timeline.  If I had to write a brand-new book and get it published, I could still do it in 3 months, but I'd have to bust my ass.  I'm not entirely fond of busting my ass, but I'd do it if I had to.  Lucky for me, I don't have to yet.

Fact 2:  It is a shitload of work self-publishing.  Beyond the writing all of us writer do, there's marketing and sales and cover art and bookkeeping and... Well, you get the drift.  Most of that work would be shouldered by the publisher if I went traditional. Then again, they'd get most of the money.

Fact 3:  The money.  With Amazon, I get 70% royalties.  It's no secret.  In fact, if you go over to the KDP information page, you can see the facts there.  (I know because I read all that stuff before I signed up with KDP.)  Plus, I'm not saying anything you can't read in David Gaughran's book Let's Get Digital.

Fact 4:  I have sold 60 books since February 13th.  That's ebooks, 'borrows', and paperbacks.  I'm hoping when the funds hit my account, I have enough to buy Scrivener, so I can use it to format my books across platforms, which will make it easier to make them available at other vendors - like B&N, etc.  

Fact 5:  For a strictly indie, debut novelist, sixty books out of the gate is GOOD.  Sure, it's sad when I go to my sales data and the graph is a straight line for the past however many days, but I have to remind myself this is how it is for a first book. If I'm still flatlining at the end of the year, you may find me weeping, but for now, I'm hanging in there.

Fact 6:  Having a good support crew is priceless.  The other day Hubs asked how sales were going, and I had to tell him they weren't.  He didn't bat an eye.  Then I told him I didn't want to disappoint him.  He gave me a hug and told me I wasn't disappointing him.  I'd be totally crushed if he wasn't so supportive.  Plus, I have all my friends and my fans.  You guys are awesome.

I hope that shed some light on the self-publishing world.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  I'll answer here, or in email, or tell you outright if it's too personal to answer.  =o)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Newsletter News

The maiden voyage of my newsletter is set for May 1st.  I'm calling it my May Day! campaign.  I'm not sinking, the title just amuses me.

Anyway I have some plans for the newsletter and it's really coming together.  I was working on it last night, trying to make it fun and interesting and pertinent.  And there'll be a contest and... just because it's Wednesday and I'm feeling wicked...

Newsletter recipients will be the first people (other than Hubs) to see Accidental Death's new and improved e-cover, and they'll be able to read the back cover copy before anyone else.  So if you want to be one of the in-crowd, go sign up for the newsletter.  Ah, peer pressure.  ;o)

Thank you to everyone who's already signed up.  And special thanks to a couple people who had trouble signing up and then had to go through the process again.  Whatever little bobble happened, it appears to be fixed now. I wish I could make it easier, but the spammers of the world have seen to it that we now have to have a double confirmation system to ensure everyone actually wants the newsletters.  :shrug:

They're the wicked ones - now that I think about it.  Maybe I'll address that next Wicked Wednesday - spammers, scammers, and hucksters.

So, yeah, the newsletter... It'll be a lot like the blog.  I'll chat at you a bit, give you news and updates, show you some stuff, and maybe have a contest.  I'm planning to put one out on the first of each month I'll be publishing in.  This means - if I keep with my publication schedule - four times a year.  (Maybe 5, if I'm really diligent.)

Thanks again for being here and being a friend or a fan or both.  I really appreciate it.  :hugs:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Stuff and a Series Recommendation - Part 2

Hey all.

Yesterday I finished the round of edits so I could ship Accidental Death off to my editor for proofreading and junk.  Then I went to the convenience store and bought a half-gallon of overpriced ice cream, two bags of chocolate covered stuff (raisins and peanuts) and two Choco-Tacos.  That's how I roll, baby.

Now I have a boatload of other stuff to concentrate on - cover stuff, marketing stuff, newsletter stuff, etc.  But I'm cool with it.  Life as a self-published author and all that.  It means you have to do all the things a publisher would normally do without the hassle of them telling you how you should do it.  ;o)

It can be a hassle, but it's still more freeing than drudgery, so I'm cool with it.

If you want any more information about the upcoming release of Accidental Death, please sign up for my newsletter.  I expect a maiden voyage on that thing May 1st.

Now, for the series recommendation thing.  As you have all probably guessed, I love Silver James like a sister.  And not just because she writes awesome novels - which she totally does.  Today, I'd like to recommend to you all her Moonstruck series.

It's sexy supernatural romantic suspense action adventure political intrigue.  Yeah, that's a lot of genres there, but Silver rocks them all.  You see, there are these werewolves who work for the government in a secret military group - well, until the government screws them over and then a clandestine agency is tracking them, and another super-sekrit company tries using them for experiments.  It's wild.  And in each individual book, one of the Wolves finds his mate for life.  So, the intrigue and the action and explosions are woven tightly with a romance plotline.  (Yes, there are explosions.  Woohoo!)

Silver manages to wrap each book up by the end and provide us with a happily-ever-after for the main characters of the book, but still leaves a thread so the books all tie together into one cohesive storyline.  There's fun stuff and happy stuff and shocking stuff and heart-rending bits.  Silver hits her readers with the full gambit of emotions, but she doesn't let them down. 

And... What?  You thought it couldn't get any better? ...  Well, she's getting ready to release a new series about Wolves - with cameos from the Moonstruck characters.  This time, they're biker Wolves.  And they kick ass.  They're the Nightriders MC. I've seen the cover for her first installment - Night Shift - and it totally rocks  So keep an eye on her page for updates as to when that will be out.  Sometime this month, but not sure of exactly when.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - Internet Outage

The most wicked thing about yesterday was that I had no internet until late afternoon, and since I hadn't already scheduled a post for here, you all were left without.  For my part in that, I apologize.  For the other entity's part, all I can do is shrug.  It was inconvenient all the way around.

Hubs woke up at 5am with the express idea he could get some work done.  (He has his own pursuits.)  He made coffee, turned on the computers, and then noticed the red light on the modem.  He didn't wake me - I'm tech support around here usually - but he did turn the computers off and reset the modem.  Still redlight.  I woke up at 5:30 to the siren song of the coffee maker sputtering its last drops of ambrosia into the carafe.

When I walked into the office to the sight of two darkened monitors, I knew it would not be my morning.  Luckily, I have an awesome Hubs who had already poured me a mug of java by the time I finished my morning rituals. I sat here with my silent computer, enjoyed my first cigarette and some life-affirming brew. Then I called our ISP.

Our ISP has gone to all automated phone tech support.  After sitting on the line through the Spanish admonition to press 'primo nueve', and pressing one for 'internet issues', the computer ran a check on my line and informed me that 'due to a network upgrade' I might be unable to access the internet.  Well, duh.  Technicians were working on it.  No more information.  The computer then asked if I'd like to be called when they got the problem resolved.  Well, hell, yes, I would.

No call all day.

I called them back that evening.  Went through the whole phone tree again only to be told there might be some issues in our area affecting our ability to access the internet.  Really?  :eyeroll:  And they were hoping to have the issues resolved by 8pm on the 15th. 

Well, fudge.

Throughout the day yesterday, I restarted the modem hoping the light would turn green.  Nope.  Finally, late afternoon, Hubs grabbed the phone like he was going to call them.  I handily relieved him of that burden.  After all, I am tech support here, and I'm freakin' used to it.  This time, I got the message that there was nothing wrong with our internet.  "Seriously?  My light is still glowing red at me, dude."

This time I asked the phone tree to find me an actual human being to talk to.  When I finally got one, he walked me through the process of letting my modem know that everything was okay now and it was okay to access the internet again.  Took like 10 minutes - and that was including the time it took my computer to boot.  I could've kissed that dude. 

Afterwards, as we were basking in the glow of being online, we wondered just how long the internet had been back, because obviously them telling me they'd call me when the issues were resolved was a big fat lie.  (I never did get a call.)   The idea that we went all day without being able to do the things we needed to do because an automated asshole didn't do his job kind of ticked us both off.  I should've called when I woke up, but I trusted that I would be notified.  And they let me down.  That's kinda wicked of them.  Not serial killer wicked, but still...

On the other hand, my desk is the cleanest its been in years.  Hubs went through ten years worth of digital photos on his computer and sorted them into files.  I took the time to sweep.  That pile of old, printed chapters is now shredded.  I finished a book, worked on edits, groomed Max.  We took a drive over to the lake and scouted boat ramps for our maiden voyage.  It's amazing what can get done if the internet is out. Still, I'm glad it's back.  We were both getting the DTs.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quantity vs Quality: The False Debate

Since I began researching self-publishing late last year, I've noticed a lot of people saying that in order to be successful at this, you have to increase your output. Having a healthy backlist means readers can find all the things they want to read of what you've written.  And putting another book out not too long after the last gives them a more immediate gratification.  All sound thinking, in my opinion.

But invariably, any conversation about increasing the quantity of your work leads someone to bring up damage to the quality of your work.  They assert that there is no way anyone could possibly write well when writing fast.  They assume anything put out quickly is crap.

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of quickly and your definition of crap. 

Agatha Christie wrote about 3 books every two years.  Not exactly speedy, but she was working on a typewriter and she wasn't exactly a spring chicken.

Of course, some people think mystery is crap, so they would discount her writing.

Barbara Cartland wrote 722 books and holds the Guinness Book of World Records for most novels written in one year - which was a whopping 23, btw.  Nora Roberts has written over 200 books since she started and she's still going strong.

Then again, some people detest romance, so their writing would also be discounted.

Isaac Asimov put out 506 books between 1920 and 1992.  Seven books a year.  Not too shabby.  Especially on a typewriter.  Some would say he doesn't count because he wrote SF, but they'd have to shut their mouths because the man wrote across a broad spectrum of genres.  Still, he wrote a lot of shorter stuff, and even if he didn't the naysayers would find a way to ignore his vast body of work because it doesn't fit in with their supposition of 'quantity kills quality'.

Now, I'm not saying all fast work is good work.  Obviously, it's not.  There are writers out there doing shoddy work - and the market pretty much fixes their little red wagons.  (Except when it goes gaga over the work... but that's the way the market bounces sometimes.)  On the other hand, there are people who are putting out one book every five years and they're writing crap, too. 

My point is this: High quantity does not guarantee low quality anymore than low quantity guarantees high quality. 

Well, unless you're kind of pretentious. 

Anyway, there are plenty of quality writers out there.  Okay, maybe not The Great American Novel writers, but good, enjoyable work that doesn't make you want to rip you eyes out because - to paraphrase E.B. White - they've dragged you through "...a series of hazardous or grotesque syntactical situations."

So, like I said up there in the post title, the whole quantity versus quality thing is a false debate in my opinion.  The real thing we all should be thinking of is whether we're pleasing our readers.  They're the reason we write, after all.  And if the readers are happy, then writers should be happy, too. Right?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Crime Fighter Friday - Kelly Siegler

A while back I talked about the show Cold Justice and one of the two awesome women who hunt for the truth and try to find justice - Yolanda McClary.  I didn't forget the other half of that amazing duo.  I was just saving her for today - when the season resumes on TNT.

So, let's give it up for Kelly Siegler!

Like I said in my previous post about Yolanda, Kelly is the prosecutorial side of the duo.  She's been practicing law since 1987 - kicking ass and taking names ever since. 

On the show, she's the one most likely to hug and the one who more often sheds a few tears during the course of the investigation.  Don't be fooled, though. This lady is tough and gritty.  Of the twenty death-penalty cases she tried as a prosecutor, she won 19. She's the one I'd want going after the bad guys, taking them on in a courtroom, and making them pay.

And the show restarts tonight, which is all SQUEE for me. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - Too Much Wicked

Right now, I don't have a specific case to offer you all.  Look at the news and there's plenty to choose from, though.  Wicked cases all throughout history - wicked cases all over the news now.  So much to choose from it makes me sick. 

Recently in a little town not far from here a man was lit on fire.  In another little town in the other direction, a man murdered his own children because of a custody battle.  Let's not even get into what's going on in the St. Louis area.  (And why I'm glad we picked the opposite end of the state from that rat's nest of crime.) 

Not that Springfield is any better.  I think they're in a race with Flint, MI to see who can have a higher murder rate for 2015.  Just watching the local news can give me more fodder for my writing than I really need.

I'd stop watching the news altogether, but I do like to stay informed.  Forewarned is forearmed and all that. Of course, they say ignorance is bliss, but then again, getting blindsided because you weren't paying attention sucks hard.

Is it me or does the nation seem to have a particularly squishy, crime-filled center lately?

How's the crime where you're at? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday Stuff and a Series Recommendation

Hey all!

It's Monday and I'm guessing since I didn't put a line in here about who won the contest, I haven't had enough coffee to think properly yet.  I'll draw a name shortly and post it at the bottom of this post as an ETA (Edited To Add).  Thanks to all y'all who signed up for my newsletter.  I expect to have a maiden flight around the first of May - when I'll have a better idea of a release date for Accidental Death.  You'll hear it there first, so sign up now.

Speaking of Accidental Death, I'm in edit mode.  In fact, I'm taking a break from the laborious, but oh-so necessary task of finding every instance of the word 'just', determining whether it is necessary where it is, and replacing it or deleting it when it isn't.  I should've done that before I sent it to the editor, but I forgot.  Derp.

Of course, being in edit mode means I'm out of interesting things to say about me, so you get to hear about another series I think deserves some attention. 

Way back when, and don't ask me to go look it up now, I won a contest for the first four books in Debra Webb's Faces of Evil series.  She sent them to me signed and I loved every one of them.  That was about the time that her publisher decided they'd published enough of those, thank you very much, and Ms. Webb was on her own to finish out the series.  Well, she did it.  And I bought every single one of the rest of the series in paperback.  They do look so lovely on my shelves all cuddled up next to each other.

They're about this disgraced FBI profiler who goes back to her hometown and gets embroiled in a serial murder.  Meanwhile, the serial killer who made her look like shit with the FBI is still stalking her, and he has evil minions willing to kill for him, and... OMG, the tension over the course of the series is delicious.  Add in the fact that her old boyfriend is the chief of police and he still loves her, but there's all this tension, and yes, folks, we have a winner!

Now, I don't know why the publisher decided to stop publishing this series.  It irritated the crap out of me as a reader because I wanted... no, I NEEDED to know what happened, dammit.  Thank goodness, Ms. Webb decided to help her readers out and find a way to publish the rest.  Hallelujah!  Now the series is finished and I got the HEA I was after, plus the justice I desire, and some good old-fashioned suspense along the way.  Totally yummy.

So, if you're looking for a series with a few ongoing plot lines and story ARCs - like one big long book, only not as heavy - check out The Faces of Evil.  I had to wait for each book to come out, but lucky you, they're all out now, so no waiting. (I hate waiting, but this series was worth it.)

ETA:  Okay, I'm up and even if the coffee isn't quite enough yet this morning, I drew a name.  The winner is Deb Salisbury!  Shoot me an email, Deb, and let me know how you want it signed (to you, to someone else, etc.), and give me your address.  I'll get that out in the mail sometime this week.  Congratulations!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Weekend Contest

Hey all!  Well, today is the official start of Easter weekend, and I thought I'd run a contest.  Everyone who is signed up for my newsletter by Monday when I wake up and check my mail will be entered, and one lucky winner will get a paperback copy of Dying Embers for their very own.  I'll even sign it and throw in a signed postcard and signed bookmark. 

You can sign up for the newsletter by going to the tab on this blog that says Newsletter Sign Up Form.  Easy peasy.  I won't spam you.  I won't even bother you that much.  I'll just send out newsletters when I have a publication date to announce or a cover to reveal or a contest I'd like to run just for newsletter readers.  So, figure no more than once a month or every other month.  And you get exclusive news and junk. 

So, if you're interested, go up there, fill out the form and I'll pick a name Monday morning.  I'll announce the winner here, on my FB page, and Twitter (since the page feeds to Twitter anyway).  Then you get a book. (Which I'll probably send Priority Mail because it's not that much more and it's way less hassle.)

Sorry, this contest has to be open to US residents only.  Due to a control-freak issue at the USPS, the last book I sent to Canada was a pain (seriously, dude, you couldn't tell from the city, state, zip what the freakin' countries were?), and the overseas charges would break this little struggling artist's bank account.  It's not that I don't love my readers from abroad, but I'm working on a shoestring budget.  Maybe someday when I'm rich and famous, I can have international contests with hardcopy books, too. 

Tell you what... I'll do another contest for international readers down the road a piece where you can win an ecopy of the book and I'll mail you a signed postcard or a bookmark.  How's that sound?

Anyway, like I said, sign up using the link up there and good luck to you all!

-B.E. Sanderson

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - Fred & Rosemary West

The Gloucester House of Horrors...

Once upon a time in England, there was a warped family called the Wests.  Little Fred was the second in the line of children, but from the sounds of it, he wasn't the only twisted one.  His father and mother sound pretty sick, too.  (Then again, maybe Fred made it all up.)  Whatever the circumstances of his youth, though, Fred West became a serial killer and eventually found himself the perfect bride to participate in his madness.

They say the killings started in 1967 - I mean, if you don't count the little boy Fred ran over with an ice cream truck in 1965.  I tried to follow along in the path of killings, but the bastard's proclivity for violence and his inability to keep it in his pants led me to a great deal of confusion.  Let's just say he spent a lot of time raping and murdering, even before he met his wife.

Now, Rosemary (Rose) wasn't one of those women who marry a serial killer and then are all like "I had no idea".  Not only did she know, she participated.  In fact, she murdered Fred's step-daughter while he was away in jail for another crime.  I won't go into great detail about their demented relationship.  Suffice it to say, Rose enjoyed a steady income from her prostitution, and Fred enjoyed watching. 

When they were finally caught, it was because the police were looking into accusations Fred had raped one of his daughters.  That's when the authorities noticed one of his other daughters was missing.  According to reports, the other children had been told on numerous occasions that they'd better behave or they'd end up under the patio like Heather.  This prompted them to dig up the patio area.  Expecting to find only Heather, they discovered several other bodies as well. 

After they'd excavated that home and a previous dwelling the family had called home, they had 11 bodies total.  Later, they found one more and added that to Fred's charge.  Rose was charged with 10 murders.

Fred, the bastard that he was, hung himself while he was awaiting trial.  Rose stood alone and was convicted of those ten murders. 

The authorities aren't really sure, though, if those are the only ones.  They say the Wests committed murder from 1967-1987, but since they weren't apprehended until 1994, I'm betting there are other bodies the police don't know about or that haven't been attributed to this sick couple.