Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flood-the-market campaign (Internet)

Special Sword Review price removed. Past July 4th.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Flood-the-market begins...

As you can see no weekend posts. It was a very busy weekend. Saturday my wife and I went out house shopping. We are currently look at this one. Ha! I wish!

No, this area has a Parade of Homes in which people go to about 25 different homes and check out the new ones being built just to see what is in the area. Some are actually for sale, others are just for show. This was my first year to check it out and it was pretty neat experience. The homes were absolutely beautiful. This one, was an 8000 sq ft home that had a two story theatre. ::drool:: Another had a built in basketball court. I can dream :-) Each house had exquisite decorations and most had books as decorations. I joked with my wife that I should have slipped in my book into all the houses. She laughed and said, "Ya, it would be kind of easy to track who did that." Doh! Yeah, she is the more logical one :-)

Besides that, I started the flood-the-market campaign in the local bookstores. Yeah, they think I am pretty much crazy. Especially when they hear what I want the store price to be. Well, I never said I was totally sane :-)

Here is the current 81/2 X 11 end cap display that is going out with the books. If I start getting calls to deliver more books, then I know it is eye catching enough.

In the last year, I have only put books into two Christian bookstores. Not because others wouldn't take it, but because I just didn't get out and pound the doors(I'll talk about this later). It is an interesting journey though to adventure into a Christian bookstore with a fantasy book with a lizard creature and dragon on the cover. Talk about the strange looks :-) But I convinced them to try it out. One of the stores actually had an employee that was reading FotU and was just telling the buyer that they needed to stock it. I don't know where he got the book(probably B&N), but it is always cool to hear of people you do not know who have read the book. I would like to say both stores sold out and got great reviews from the readers. If I do not hear from Barnes & Noble, then hopefully these stores running this campaign will be like a pebble in the pond, that I can use to create more ripples out to other stores.

There are multiple reasons I did not touch the Christian market. First, I originally was marketing to mainstream fantasy adult and YA readers. Second, I am having difficulties convincing a Christian distributor to take on the title and help market. I think the whole fantasy thing, is probably a problem. It is kind of sad. Out of all the chains and bookstores, the Christian market seems to be the hardest to get in. Everything is CBA related. Unless you are CBA they will not even look at you. And then you mention, Christian fantasy, and that is even worse. And lastly, with my last year trying to get a new publisher, I did not want to have too much in their market so they knew that I was still marketable there.

So now I move into the Christian market as aggressive as ever. We'll just have to see what happens.

Well I am in the middle of doing a total redesign of the church's website that I attend, so want to get that finished.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flood-the-market campaign

So what is this promotion I have been talking about anyways? It is allowing readers to get the hardcover of FotU for below printing costs in our flood-the-market campaign. The printing costs are already taken care of so now it is time to have fun and get more readers ready for book two. Hopefully Barnes & Noble will get back to me soon. Because I did promise something, what I have did for any blog visitors that visit today, I have posted a few copies on Amazon.com of the Hardcover version of Faith of the Unforgotten for .99 cents. This covers their .99 cent commission and the shipping costs. Everybody would take a free book if I shipped it, but if a couple dollars are spent, then there is more of a chance that the book will actually be read. The books are under Amazon's "Used and New" section.

My Journey:
The first year of publication I pushed rather hard on marketing. Barnes & Noble took a bunch of copies national and did some BN book signing around the Michigan area. The eBook version of FotU one the 2006 EPPIE Award for the Children/Young Adult/Tween division, and we are currently working on a teen-friendly, Christian 3D online game for the series.

I figured with all that under my belt, it was time to approach the other publishers again. Before publication I originally approached the more mainstream publishers since that was who I was used to. The last year though, I have focused on the Christian publishers. Originally fantasy in the Christian publishers was pretty much unheard of, now it is getting better. But unfortunately, it is still going rather slow. Either the publishers are already booked up or I don't even hear back.

The original release of book two was planned for April 2006. I wanted to spend the year to take that chance of getting picked up by a larger publisher. Plus add in life, work, a 1 year old, 2 1/2 year old, and a 10 year old, and well book two isn't totally finished yet. Now I have readers and libraries e-mailing me asking about book two. I finally have decided that it looks like that the larger publisher path is not going to happen, so I need to get my head back in the game and start preparing for the launch of book two.

Originally FotU was marketed to a wide spectrum. Mainstream fantasy readers, young adult readers, and Christian YA readers. We are going to refocus everything on the YA and Christian YA readers now. So if I am to compete against the top names out there on those shelves, I have I am going to have to flood-the-market with a lower priced book one. If this means lowering the price just enough to break even, that is fine. I will go back for as many print runs as it takes. If anybody has read FotU, it is pretty clear why this is such a marketing ploy for book two. You know the ending :-) Every reader that reads FotU says, "Where is book two?"

Next year we will launch the paperback versions of FotU and Into the Darkness. There are also a couple top Christian YA authors that have been willing to checkout FotU and possibly give a personal endorsement for the back covers of the paperbacks. I can't wait to hear what they have to say. I have only known what reviewers and readers have had to say about FotU. It is actually really scary to know the book is in the hands of these authors. Will they think the story and writing is worthy to put their name on the back cover? Man, I can only hope so.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

SF/Fantasy Blog Tour Day3 - (Magic in Christian Fantasy?)

First off, I may have to delay the announcement planned for Friday. I am waiting on Barnes & Noble to get back to me and I do not want to announce too much. Barnes & Noble out of all the rest, has been awesome to me. They pretty much have paid for the printing costs alone to allow me to do this crazy promotion, so I will wait on them. If anything, on Friday I will explain my last year's journey on trying to get a larger Christian publisher and how it looks like I must push forward alone, more aggressive than I have ever been.

But now, back to the original show at hand...

Part one and two: Magic in Christian Fantasy?
I wasn't going to touch on this subject, but I saw Rebecca LuElla Miller's interview question with Ms. Paul about 'wizard backlash' and decided to. I have to say, I like the term as well. I have talked about dragons in Christian fantasy, but I think the M-word is probably an even a hotter subject with Christians. I like Ms. Paul's explanation on how her wizards are only commanding God created elements. To tie in with my previous posts, I would consider those elements as 'neutral', but how they were used would determine whether they were used for good or bad. I however come from reading mainstream fantasy, most Christians do not.

In The Foundations of Hope Trilogy, I personally stuck with 'gifts' given to the followers of God. It is one way the characters know that although it has been awhile, they have not been forgotten, a.k.a Faith of the Unforgotten. I tried to stick with events I could back up from the Bible, 'sword of fire', lightning, and some others are pushing it though. I almost pulled all the events out totally(there are very few so it wouldn't have been too difficult) because the story can stand on its own without them. The strangest thing however, is that the Christians readers are the ones that really like it because only the faithful have been receiving these special abilities. I also have very anti-fantasy editors, so anything I write has to be able to get past them.

Many others are also starting to use the 'gifts' way around using magic. But it can only be used so many times. I have already used it up, so I will have to think of another option. Although my next series will rely on solely prayer fighting I believe.

And I like Donita's comment that it is only fiction. I am a very scientific based person. Until somebody starts floating books around my head by waving a wand, I pretty much will not worry about magic in the real world. I recently went through a Spiritual Warfare class at church. It was rather interesting to see the different views of how Christians perceive the same events from both sides of the scale. I am kind of guessing those same individuals would also perceive magic in the real world differently as well. Ok, no Spiritual Warfare comments, we can get into that at a later date if you want :-)

So magic in Christian fantasy? This is still one subject that Christian writers will have to tread lightly. The Bible does not clearly state what sorcery is, but now a days, most people's views about sorcery pretty much covers anything magical. So for a Christian writer to touch on anything magical will then be perceived as sorcery, which the Bible clearly states to stay away from. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SF/Fantasy Blog Tour Day2 - (Lions and Dragons)

Day two of the Christian SF/Fantasy Blog Tour continues. There was some pretty cool posts all around about our focus of the tour, Donita K. Paul's DragonKnight . I really like the interview going on over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction.

Also check out The Dragon Keeper Chronicles website. The webmaster has done a nice job.

Remember to go check out the other blog sites participating in the tour:

Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Steve Trower

Part one: The Author
Although I do not know Ms. Paul, I have been rather impressed by everything I keep coming across. I have yet to come across another author website that the author chats weekly with their readers. I like the story on Mary E. Demuth's blog that Ms. Paul sent a copy of her book for seeing Mary's daughter's book report on DragonSpell. Also check out June 20th post at Shannon McNear's blog about helping out a fellow writer. Finally, one of my favorite's is Donita's own post over at the 412Live blog. I love the whole Walmart scene.

When an author has a sales ranking of #754 at Amazon.com(Wow, it dropped since I last looked. Go Donita!) and is still personable and willing to take time out for the readers and other writers, that is pretty cool and says a lot to me.

Part two: Lions and Dragons
I had some thoughts today on how to continue the discussion of having good dragons within Christian fantasy.

To get back on the idea that most things have a good and bad and how they are used or behave is what determines what is good or evil. Now there are some things that do not fit and others I probably cannot theoretically justify. For example, probably the one thing that comes to mind is the movie "Hellboy". A demon doing good to help humans. A dragon to me is like another animal. It is pretty much a neutral, not good, not bad. A demon on the other hand is born of evil, I would not be able to back that up.

So back to dragons. If there really were such things as dragons, they would be like any other animal on the planet. They would not be good or evil, they would just be an animal. The same as a lion. Because the Bible potrays Jesus as a lion, should not all lions then be good, the same as the animal of the dragon is always evil? Exactly. No. The lion and dragon are only representations within the Bible. In real life however, they are(or would be) just an animal. Because the Bible potrays the lion as good, children are not out trying to pet one in the wild. In a similar statement from yesterday, whether we run into a lion or dragon in the wild, we would not ponder is it good or bad, no we would be saying "that thing is huge, hungry, and looking at me. I'm out of here!"

Tomorrow: Magic in Christian Fantasy?

Monday, June 19, 2006

SF/Fantasy Blog Tour Day1 - (But Aren't Dragons Evil?)

The next few days the posts will be in multiple parts. The first part, I will spotlight Donita K. Paul's new book DragonKnight for the Christian SF/Fantasy Blog tour. The second part, I plan to tie in some thoughts about dragons in Christian based Fantasy.

Part one: DragonKnight
Today I would like to focus on the cover. Ok, I hate to admit it, but I am a cover person. The cover that grabs my attention at the bookstore will probably win. A book should be readable and attention grabbing from 10 feet to 20 feet. This cover does a nice job. Exactly in the middle of the cover starts the bright blue wings that spread out and then contrast nicely against the yellow sky. I also like how the grass gradually changes into the white so Donita's name pops out better. The change and reason for the change is actually unnoticeable. These are things that most readers do not notice or pay attention to, but since I due my own cover design, it is something I like to examine from other author's books.

Part two: But aren't dragons evil?

First off, this is not a slam on having good dragons in Christian fantasy. It is actually the opposite. In my own series, book one has dragons show up shortly here and there, but the reader does not know if they are good or bad, or even what part they have to play in the story(a very large one actually). But book two will start to show there are good and bad dragons. If you ask an older conservative Christian to read a book about fantasy, not the easiest to achieve, but not impossible. Ask that same person to read a story about dragons? Well, that might get a tad bit harder. But why? Why do Christians dislike dragons? Although the King James Version refers to more dragons than the NIV version, I will stick with the main versuses in NIV.
Revelation 12
7And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.


17Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Whoosh! From that, it is actually hard to see how there could be a good dragon. Dragons, snakes, and serpants are always potrayed as evil within the Bible. The one thing that a Christian author must not do is lead the readers astray. The way I look at it is that almost all things have a good and bad to them. Nuclear power was created for good, but can also be used to kill. A sword can defend, but it can also attack. There are good angels and bad angels. There are good humans and bad humans. One's actions or how an item is used determines whether they are good or bad. And so it could be that a fictional dragon's actions determine whether it is good or bad? Either way, I can guarantee, no matter how many authors write about good dragons, if a reader ever ran across one in the woods, they would not stick around to have a little chat and ponder whether it was good or bad. No, I am pretty sure I know what their conclusion would be :-)

Tomorrow: Lions and Dragons

Remember, check back in Friday, June 23rd after the tour is completed if you have ever been interested in checking out Faith of the Unforgotten. We have a lot to announce.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dragons and 1 year olds, oh my!

I had to step away from the publishing stuff and blog tour, and post a picture of my one year old. The whole "I am so innocent" look is just an act. This little one could make a dragon run in fear at the destruction he can do.

Ok, back to the tour. I've given it some thought on what to discuss starting Tuesday for the blog tour. I plan to post some thoughts on dragons in Christian based fantasy. Shouldn't all dragons be evil? Especially red ones? Hmmm....

I've postponed our new aggressive marketing of FotU until after the blog tour, so check back Friday, June 23rd to see what I have up my sleeve if you have ever been interested in checking out Faith of the Unforgotten.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour

I will be participating in the second round of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour that is coming up June 20-22nd. We will be checking out Donita K. Paul's new release, DragonKnight. Check back those days to see comments.

Here is a list of bloggers that are participating in the tour:
Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Steve Trower

I will have to add Donita K. Paul's series to my list for review after my current work in progress.

My current list of Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy in progress for CSFFC reviews:
-Iron Dragon by Derek P. Gilbert
-Rise of the Wyrm Lord(Book Two of The Door Within Trilogy) by Wayne Thomas Batson
-Raising Dragons(Book One of Dragons in Our Midst) by Bryan Davis
-The Candlestone(Book Two of Dragons in Our Midst) by Bryan Davis
-Circles of Seven(Book Three of Dragons in Our Midst) by Bryan Davis
-Tears of a Dragon(Book Four of Dragons in Our Midst) by Bryan Davis
-When Worlds Rage(Book Two Orianus Creation Series) by D. Shane Burton
-Dark Tyrant's Ascention(Book Three Orianus Creation Series) by D. Shane Burton

All reviews are posted at Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Central and Amazon.com

And life continues...

I cannot believe almost a week has gone by since making a post. Wow! I knew this would be hard to keep up with.

It has been a busy week though. I have finally decided book two will be released in as trade paperback instead of a hardcover. So both book one and book two will be released in April 2007 as paperbacks. That is unless a larger publisher decides to pick up the series. I can still hope! Thankfully the reader base is large enough for the series now, that printing costs are covered. I just would love to spend more time writing instead of 80% marketing/publishing and only 20% on writing.

Back to the paperback discussion... FotU hardcover was originally marketed to a wide range of audience since it crosses over into multiple genres, but we will now be focusing our energy primarily on the children/young adult and Christian children/young adult readers now. Paperback just makes sense price wise. I have created a first draft of the paperback cover of Into the Darkness as you can view from the post here. I am also working on a new paperback design and cover for Faith of the Unforgotten. I will post it later once I find a background for the scene I am happy with. I am a 'cover browser' at bookstores, so the covers are really important to me. I am always interested in responses, so if you like/dislike the new cover design let me know.

Publishing is an interesting business. I must say I have learned alot in the last few years. I am a constant state of research and comparing what the big houses are doing. I have books lined up 20ft from my desk and always comparing my designs compared to others. At a bookstore I do more than look. I can't help to check out what thickness of paper was used, if they embossed, gold foil stamped, etc... I look at books in a total new light these days. I someday hope to find that larger publisher that will take on the series, but until then, I press on... Maybe my next series after The Foundations series. I can't say much about it yet, though. I have some absolute crazy marketing plans for FotU coming up. I would suggest checking back every so often if you ever wanted to read FotU and haven't yet.

On the non-publishing side of things, I have decided to start working on getting my Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) for work. Yikes! If anybody knows about the MCSE tests, they are down right hard. That should be lovely to fit into my already tight schedule. But computers are what pay the bills and I love the job. I can't complain about getting paid for something I enjoy :-)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Book Signings

Yesterday I received my confirmation that I will be out in the Seattle region Saturday, August 19th for a Barnes & Noble book signing. I am looking forward to it.

I recently did a book signing at a local fair, and I must say it was probably one of my most enlightening events as an author for me. I will begin by saying, being a new author is HARD. Especially when you do not have the huge marketing campaign and contacts like the larger publishers have. An new author must be very creative and very persistant. It can be a very tiring process though. You start to wonder is it all worth it. You get to a point to question, maybe this wasn't God's choice for me like I thought it was. Shouldn't I be a on the New York Times Bestseller list by now if it was really God's plan? This last year has been exhausting for me. As I said in my a previous post, I go from 7am to usually midnight, maybe 1am.

So back to the local fair... I was lucky enough to meet a with a teenage girl that had already read Faith of the Unforgotten. In talking with her, I found out that she had read Faith of the Unforgotten while she was going through chemotherapy. Wow. Just the fact that I was able to take somebody away to a different time/land for even a short period of time, while they were going through a hard time in their life, was an eye opener for me. All the time and exhausting hours I have spent in marketing an creating the series were worth it in that one person. Granted, I want more to read the series, but for now I have a new energy to continue and move on.

Friday, June 09, 2006

First AmazonConnect post

Well, I just made my first AmazonConnect post over at Amazon.com. It is pretty much a blog but posts on my book's product page. Pretty cool idea to allow an author to post notes for readers. I first saw it on Wayne Thomas Batson's books.

Which, I will add in here, if you have not read his Door Within Trilogy, please do. Book one was awesome and I hope to get to book two and three later this year.

Well I really need to get back to writing book two. If you are not familiar, Book Two of The Foundations of Hope Trilogy is called Into the Darkness. ItD for short. It was originally to be released April 2006, a year after Faith of the Unforgotten. But a year was a little too aggressive to get a second book out in a brand new series from a new author. From now having a 1 year old, 2 1/2 year old and 9 year old, to the ever constant marketing of Faith of the Unforgotten, to The Foundations of Hope Online game, to coding and creating The Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Central, and to fit all that all into after an eight hour work day, time gets rather slim.

Anyways, Rebekah is currently in trouble and well, if you know Rebekah, somebody is going to get 'thumped' :-)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

First Post

Well here it goes. My first post in my first blog. I'm not sure why totally yet. Maybe somebody out there is curious of what I am working on. I guess we'll see. Although I know I will not be able to post complete intellectual thoughts and essays like some, I'll be lucky to get a few posts in a week. My day consists of 7am to midnight or 1am, usually non-stop. Too much to do, too many projects, too little time.

I guess I'll start with the name. Granted it is the same name as my The Foundations of Hope Trilogy, but this area will not be focused entirely on that series. I have other series I plan to work on as well. But The Foundations of Hope is more in reference to, what the trilogy is all about. To give a 'foundations of hope' that the troubles we endure in life are part of a grander and master plan. There are things that happen in life that are not wonderful, but they are things we must learn from. I can look back at the trials in my own life and now say 'wow'. Without those struggles I would not be were I am today, and I would not change a thing.

So there you have it. Hopefully through my series, this blog, or another area that I may work on, I will be able to to give somebody a 'foundations of hope'.