Watch Out for Punctuation

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Punctuation. I didn’t think it would be such a big problem, but some of the sites that track this blog’s progress struggled on the last post, most likely because it finished on an exclamation mark. It’s one of those things, having written software in the past, that is stumbled across from time to time. You have to make a decision how to process incoming information and you select certain characters or combinations of characters as filters / end markers. It works great in testing, only to find the real world doesn’t work as well as your testing environment. Quite obviously, it’s a problem with the real world and not the testing.

I received some interesting feedback from one of my proof reading team in the last couple of days. This particular proof reader doesn’t read erotica other than when I pass along a manuscript for review. The first bit of feedback that really cheered me was that they would happily buy that particular manuscript when it was published.

For someone who avoids the genre completely, even going so far as to skip sections of their other romance novels that are similar, it’s quite an endorsement. The second piece came on another recently developed script, with the feedback being that it resulted in quite a definite real world outcome.

With such endorsement, I might have to change my plans for which stories are released next. Or, I could just accelerate the release program so that there is less time between the next few titles.

I completed another story today, effectively from scratch. There was a little bit of framework in place before today, but when I finished it was a whole new story that sat there. I seem to be on a bit of a writing streak at the moment, so I’ll see what I can do to keep it going on.

I just hope my new bundle of ISBNs turn up soon, or else I’ll be in the position of having to order even more, having used them all up before I got them. My editor is also going to be busy for a while. Look for the next set of stories in the next couple of weeks.

I Have Fans!

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Today started well. I received notification that I now have at least one fan (at least one that is willing to state it publicly). Thank you to that special reader.

I also added to my available pool of proof readers, so I’ve also managed to improve the works that are yet to be published.

My biggest surprise today was the complete creation of a story from scratch. In the past I’ve used the rule of thumb of around 1,500 words a day being a good figure for writing, especially if it’s quality writing.

Today, I well and truly blew through that figure, especially when I spent some time tidying up some other works, and time running around doing the normal sort of things that take up time during the day.

I’m quite proud of the effort and I’m now trying to work out where it’s going to go in the list of titles that are building up for release.

In addition to having to wait for my editor to be ready for my new scripts, I have to wait for my next set of ISBNs to arrive, so I can allocate them to the new titles as they are ready to publish.

New Books on the Way

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An unavoidable delay with my editor means that my next couple of books will probably arrive at the same time, around mid to late June. That’s not a problem, as it gives me more time to make sure that the books delivered really are as polished as they can be.

I’m not going to give away too many clues about their content, except to say that for one of them, it’s going to have you tied up in knots, while the other might have you seeking something more once you’ve finished reading it.

With new additions to my proof reading pool I have added to the sets of eyes that get to read the stories before they are published - every little bit of assistance beforehand helps with the product that you all get to read at the end.

Another couple of stories have started to develop over the weekend and are already three-quarters complete. They build on concepts that have been sitting around for some months now and are developing nicely into fun little stories.

If you’d like to engage with me in discussions, why not drop into GoodReads, or my page over at Amazon.

Opinions - Everyone Gets One

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I was traipsing around the Amazon Customer forums when I stumbled across one on Badly Behaving Authors. After reading through a number of the posts, I came to a rather depressing conclusion. There are far too many people out there who don’t follow any sort of professional or ethical behaviour, and many of those call themselves authors (particularly Indie self-published authors).

Even when I provided a couple of comments, the minute I identified as an author, there were accusations of self-promotion. It seems that there are some authors and reviewers (or at least some participants in the particular discussion) who are happy to blame the other for the situation when both should shoulder blame for it.

Out of all of this are a few points to note for my readers and prospective readers. Firstly, I will never pay for a review. If that means I have books that sit around without any reviews, then I’ll have to live with that. Secondly, I will never delete a critical review. I’ve seen my fair share of criticism of my writing, but at the same time I’ve seen praise as well.

If I didn’t have a thick enough skin or the maturity to handle criticism, I shouldn’t have become an author, let alone one in a field where very personal fantasy is the order of the day and it doesn’t take much for one person’s valid fantasy to be disturbing to another.

With all of that now water under the bridge, I have started working on getting my next book ready for publishing. The manuscript will be heading to my editor soon enough, and it will only be a matter of a few days from receiving it back to publishing.

Another artist has graciously licenced their imagery to the site and for use in ebook covers, please support them:

Floods Begin with a Trickle

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The iBooks versions of my books are now live on iTunes, with the book pages, “A Hero’s Return”, and “The Special Scent” updated to reflect the change in availability.

So far things have been travelling slowly in terms of reader interest, with this blog pretty much the main thing I am doing to promote my works. There is more promotion, advertising and awareness work being planned, but for now the blog is it.

I have distributed a couple of gratis copies to some people who have helped out in their own way, and have made sample versions available on most retail sites, so there are copies of my works being passed around.
In the last few days I have seen quite a significant step up in the interest in my books, with more downloads of the samples from sites that give me daily updates. On sites that have longer term tracking, there is also a nice uptick, but it will probably be another week or so before I see those results.

Also on the promotion front, I have established an account over at Goodreads. For now, though, I’m in the midst of relying on word of mouth to spread my works.

When I have a few more titles through the publishing process, the marketing juggernaut will start unfolding. It doesn’t seem right to do it when there’s only a couple of titles out there.

Here’s hoping, though, that the uptick of interest continues, and I get my next title published soon.

Almost All There

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Okay, so despite uploading amended books to Google, only one has actually updated the descriptive content in Google Play, so I’m at a bit of a loss as to what’s happening with the other title even after checking that I did update the book.

My ONIX template wasn’t as good as I first thought. Somehow some smart quotes crept in and it threw out the automated processing tool that was trying to validate them. A little bit of amendment and it should have all been fixed - again...

We’ll have to wait and see the results after the weekend, but it’s possible that the latest iteration has been accepted.

There has been some better news from the iTunes bookstore - I finally have been published there. Initially it was only the ePub versions of my books that were appearing. Somehow I missed the direction that I had to create a sample for my .ibooks versions before they could be published and the error codes I had encountered weren’t telling me what I had done wrong. It has all been addressed now, and both versions will soon be live on iTunes.

As I write this post, the iBooks version hasn’t yet gone live, but it has been greenlighted, so it’s a matter of the caches updating. My iTunes Author page is here. While that link points to the Australian iTunes Store page for me, when it opens in iTunes, it will automatically correct to your local store. Look on my book pages, “A Hero’s Return”, and “The Special Scent” for links directly to the books.

I spent much of today driving to a rather special second hand bookstore that is absolutely crammed full of books. I eventually found what amounted to their section on sex, love, and whatever erotica they had (nil). Many of the books were decades old and had the wonderful musty smell of ageing paper and old ink.

While I didn’t purchase anything from the section, it was worthwhile to see just how much the school of thinking about sex, love, and erotica has moved forward over the years.

Another artist has granted permission for use of their works, selections of which you can see associated with this post. Please support them as with the other artists.

More Flash Than Action

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I managed to address the issues plaguing the lack of descriptive content for my ebooks on Google Play. Amended versions of the books have made their way onto Google, so now it’s a matter of waiting for Google to clear out the caches and the new information should be there.

After the previous successes in getting the ONIX data sorted out, I finally published to Kobo, so now I wait for them to look through everything I supplied and list my books soon.

I also managed to sort out the publishing pipeline to iTunes. After going through the motions with iTunes Producer, I was thinking that my ONIX template probably would have been a good fit. Maybe if I fiddled with the settings some more I’ll get it worked out. I pushed both an .epub and .ibooks version of both published books to iTunes. Whether they allow two separate versions of the same title (different ISBNs so it shouldn’t matter that much) to be published at the same time, we’ll have to wait and see.

Amazon have also been quite useful, and I now have an author page, as well as what could only be described as a vanity author page, at http://www.amazon.com/author/xavieredwards. Lucky me.

Smashwords will now be pushing “A Hero’s Return” across to Sony, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, and Baker-Taylor, with “The Special Scent” currently being reviewed for release.

I’ve been busy doing things, but there’s not a lot to show for it in terms of new books, or immediate results. The results will be forthcoming, but for now it’s work against a future return.

I will say that I spent a little bit of time today typing up a story that I discovered tucked away in the back of a notebook. It’s nowhere near complete or very far developed, but there’s several interesting threads that I managed to leave dangling which should make for a good read down the line.

Not the Writing I Expected

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I have now updated “The Special Scent” to reflect its appearance on Google Books and Google Play, so there’s a little bit of good news.

What hasn’t been so good has been the significant amount of time writing I have spent today. It will all ultimately end up helping you, the reader, find my books online, but for now the process is quite annoying. I am talking about configuring ONIX metadata that some ebook resellers like to see before they list my books.

ONIX metadata makes all sorts of sense, but it’s pure XML. As they say, XML is like violence, if you’re still having problems, use more until it’s solved. I spent far longer than I really wanted going through the standard and crafting by hand a template ONIX file that will accompany all future releases. This brought back some bad memories of writing lengthy software code by hand, but at least it’s all done now.

My next big problem is trying to work out why Google Play is looking at an odd part of the actual ebook metadata for the content description. If I can’t find why it’s doing so, I’m probably going to have to re-publish to Google, with each book synopsis stuck in the place that Google is looking.

I hope to have both books published to Kobo and the iBookstore by the end of the week, or at least submitted for processing. Then I can devote more time to writing, and the other things I love doing.

The Special Scent Arrives

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Well, it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised. In this case, it’s an early release for “The Special Scent”. Find it now, on it’s own page, or across the Internet. I have also updated the book page for “A Hero’s Return” to reflect its appearance on Google Books and on Google Play.

It was a little embarrassing that, as the book was ready for publishing, I discovered a rather obvious spelling mistake in the first couple of paragraphs.

Oops.

A quick recompilation of the book and everything was all okay again. It goes to show that no matter how much effort you put into the planning phase, sometime things sneak through.

Two additional artists have granted permission for use of their works, selections of which you can see associated with this post. Please support them as with the other artists.

New Artists

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My editor has returned my latest script and, now that I have been brave enough to actually look at the work that’s been done, my next book “The Special Scent” will be published very shortly.

Experience with the ins and outs of preparing the different versions needed to make each site happy has at least made the process transparent enough that I shouldn’t have too many issues with getting the next title published.

Now that I’ve effectively got the first two out of the way I have poked around the other manuscripts I have sitting around and have identified the next likely candidate for publishing. Expect that it will be published no later than mid-June.

Two additional artists have granted permission for use of their works, selections of which you can see associated with this post. Please support them as with the other artists.

Great News

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I had enrolled into the Google Books program at the same time as I was setting up all my other online retail accounts, and was wondering why “A Hero’s Return” wasn’t showing up as having an available ebook, despite that being how I had uploaded all the data to Google.

After a bit of a struggle with the ins and outs of the Google help system, I finally found that I had missed a setting in a submenu of a tab that I hadn’t really looked at up to that point. From there I managed to establish how Google will pay me for purchases through Google Books and Play. I was a little disappointed that the process wasn’t clearer and I had been getting more annoyed at it as time dragged on and nothing was happening. So, now we have to wait a couple of days for Google to finish verifying everything and “A Hero’s Return” should appear properly for readers who prefer Google’s services.

Google’s odd behaviour was only a sidebar to the bigger strain of continuing to wait for my Kobo and iBookstore accounts. Not more than 24 hours after I sorted out the Google Books issue, I received messages letting me know that both Kobo and the iBookstore accounts were granted.

So, over this weekend those services will see “A Hero’s Return” published to them and, hopefully, “The Special Scent” will return from the editor in time for publishing this weekend as well.

Everything is now in order and I can get back to the business of writing.

Always Busy

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Life has finally settled down again, after the absolute chaos of the last couple of weeks. I’m getting a lot of reading done but not so much writing at the moment - still waiting for my editor to get back to me with the next book in the line.

I have found, though, that keeping a mix of writing methods at hand it always useful. After not having written anything significantly by hand for a number of years, I found myself in the situation recently where pen and paper was all I had to capture the story forming in my mind.

It took a little bit of effort to get used to writing large amounts of text, as well as getting it neat and tidy on the page, but at the end of the process I was quite proud of what I had achieved.

Writing by hand always seems to necessitate a different approach to thinking about the plot and character development and way of thinking about what comes next in the story. It can be a really powerful tool in the writer’s arsenal, and is one that I found a lot more enjoyable than I initially thought I would.

Now I just need to find the time to type out what I wrote...

Books are Here

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I’ve finally gotten around to completing the addition of the books section to the site. My first title, “A Hero’s Return”, is now listed online. Keep an eye out for the next title, which is scheduled to be “The Special Scent” and is expected to be published within the next couple of weeks.

Links to all the places you can buy the books online will be supplied as part of the book descriptions and, on many of the sites, you will be able to read a sample portion of the book for free.

I would also like to thank another artist for graciously licencing their works for the website and use with ebooks. Please support their work.

Forward Progress

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After something of an up and down week, things are looking up again. Another draft is with the editor, the cover art is coming along nicely, the ISBNs are sitting ready, and I have several ebook reseller accounts ready to go.

My latest iBookstore account attempt hasn’t been held up, yet, so there’s hope that the EIN has now propagated through all the necessary systems to let me have my long-awaited account.

The illness from the last couple of weeks has finally lifted, and I’m now back and fully serviceable, able to write without feeling like I’ve been trying to drive through a wet newspaper. If it was the flu, at least it hit early in the flu season and before the first set of frosts really landed.

It has been pretty over the last few days, with thick frosts, dense fog, and beautifully clear days. Autumn looks like it’s on the way out and, if some of my friends are to be believed, we’ll be seeing snow a lot lower down this year, and early, as well.

That’s the sort of weather that bodes well for curling up inside with a good ebook - mine.

Another One in the Works

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Another book is entering late stage production at the moment. It will be with the editor within the next couple of days and, after that, it will only be a matter of a couple of weeks until it hits the ebook sites.

I’m still waiting on my EIN to be promulgated through all the requisite systems to allow my iBookstore account to be setup, so we’re still stuck waiting for iTunes representation for my works. On the positive side, representation on Kobo is moving along nicely.

What has been slowing down the rate of new posts and, sadly, the rate of work on my writing, has been some quite involved adult learning courses that I have had to take over the last week. While the concept of adult learning is wonderful, and should be expanded to as many fields as possible, it can be awfully vague and imprecise, especially when coming from a background of rigid yes / no, pass / fail, milestones must be met kind of attitude. The result is that it is slower than expected, but the upside is going to be some rather useful qualifications at the back end - qualifications in high demand.

Still Getting There

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I’ve been a little more tired than usual over the last few days - maybe it’s just all the relief at having finally gotten published.

There’s no problem with keeping busy, but it does seem that other things continually demand more and more attention away from writing and publishing. Another work is approaching final editing stages and will hopefully be published within the next 2-3 weeks, pending availability of the editor.

There’s been a delay with establishing the iTunes iBookstore account - the EIN hadn’t been published through enough government systems for it to show up. On the other hand, steps to having a listing on Kobo books have moved forward, so as there’s one step backwards, there’s another one forwards.

I will get around to adding entries for the published ebook, soon enough, but it’s beginning to look like the end of the week before that happens.