Black Swan Book Sale, now 99 cents! Starts Today!

Book promotion

Spread the word! My book is now on sale!

The facts

1) The sale starts today, March 23rd, and continues for two weeks until April 6th.

2) My urban fantasy ebook “The Black Swan Inheritance” was US$2.99, and now it’s US$0.99. That’s less than half price!

3) The sale is across the board at all major retails (including iBooks, but I can’t link to that:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble (new price isn’t showing yet but should by tomorrow!)

Kobo Books

Want to read reviews of my book? You can check out the goodreads page.

Want to know what the book’s about? Here’s the blurb:

The striking Black Swan is native to Australia, unrelated to the seemingly pure White Swan of Europe. She is found in the strangest of places – from ugly mines to cultivated farms, beautiful bushland to violent coastline.

Yet, she always shies away from humanity.

The Black Swan is always beautiful, surprisingly resilient and very, very powerful. Most Black Swans are wise enough not to use that power to challenge the status quo.

Most…

Anita had the kind of reputation in high school that no one wants to carry into adulthood, especially since she wants to be a doctor like her dad. Now at university, she is determined to be good, but one little end-of-semester celebration can’t hurt, right? Well, it can if she ends up having a one-night stand with a werewolf that triggers a dark awakening. Turns out Anita’s over-active libido has become more than something hormonal – it’s magical.

The Black Swan is a powerful legacy that brings both temptation and danger. Having now inherited the title and all that comes with it, Anita finds herself beset upon by ancient abominations that won’t take no for an answer. No wonder the Black Swan had been driven to seclusion and banishment in the past. But Anita is determined not to run away – she is here to help, whether the medieval dragon-wolf or the undead cultists want it or not.

She will be no one’s pawn. She will rise to the challenge.

If she can just manage to deal with her own flaws first. Anxiety, panic-attacks, and bouts of bitchiness does not a successful diplomat make.

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Self-Publishing Data: Free Promotion Results

For the past ten days I put my book up for free on as many retailers as I could in celebration of my new cover designed by Emma Wakeling:

the-black-swan-inheritance-final-cover

I really wanted to see if I could shift 100 copies, and thanks to everyone who helped publicise it, 120 copies were picked up!

What’s interesting about these results is when I compare them to Charlotte Cyprus’ results. Charlotte Cyprus is also a self-published author, but she is enrolled in KDP Select, and it definitely seems (just by comparing our two sets of data) that KDP Select does help new authors promote books. Having shifted 5x the number of copies as me, that data doesn’t lie!

Of course, her book could just be appealing to more people than mine. Our books have more differences than similarities, I think.

The other downside to being non-exclusive to Amazon is that Amazon doesn’t allow free ebooks on its site UNLESS you’re KDP Select, and then you have five days every month or something where you can elect to put your book up for free. So no free sales via Amazon for me.

Having said that, I’m still content to not be Amazon-exclusive. It’s just what I feel more comfortable about. I’m a little attached to Smashwords, because it is a bit of a ‘free-for-all’ environment, and I know if I want to push some boundaries with my stories, there will always be someone else on there who has gone further than me. That reassures me, in a weird sort of way.

I also like the reporting Smashwords does, and how it gathers data from the other major retailers under their premium service plan:

Smashwordsresults

The only downside is that Kobo doesn’t report it’s free book sales to smashwords, but I also have an account with Kobo so I can check those numbers (I only sold 5 books through Kobo).

I was surprised about Barnes and Noble. Being Australian, I was only vaguely aware of it, but I guess there are quite a few people out there with Nooks.

So I learnt some things with this experiment. As always, I am willing to provide a free ecopy of my book in exchange for an honest review. For now though, the price is going back up, and then some. Comparing the length of my book to other books of my length, my book was very cheap, but it wasn’t garnering any sales. Maybe $0.99 gave the impression a 75k word book wasn’t going to be any good? Regardless, I have decided to increase the price to be on par with other similar books, so The Black Swan Inheritance is now $2.99 at all major retailers…

Although with some retailers the price change is taking a while to kick in. Barnes and Noble, for instance, is still selling my book for free. Give it a day. *shrug*

At least now with the price increase I have other options when I decide to next put my book on sale. I can do half-price, drop it to 99cents, or go for free again.

As a footnote, a few other people have added my book to their TBR on goodreads, and I now have 10 ratings and 7 reviews on the site! Amazon has 7 reviews up (with some reviewers different to the goodreads’ reviewers), and 1 review on Barnes and Noble 🙂 All up, 10 different people have written reviews on my book across the different sites (and some blogs!)!

Sequel status: 67k words out of approx 80k. Downhill run!

So that’s been my experience of my first sale. I think I’ve waffled enough now.

MdD

 

FREE EBOOK! The Black Swan Inheritance is ON SALE!

To celebrate the new cover of The Black Swan Inheritance the ebook is available for FREE on Smashwords until 6 Feb! That means you can get a epub, mobi or pdf copy by clicking here!

The Black Swan Inheritance Final CoverThe new cover design is by Emma Wakeling of Emma’s Artbox and DeviantArt!

Through the Smashwords Premium Status function, other retailers should have this option soon (Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc). Stay tuned!

Feedback Please! New Black Swan Inheritance Cover Design by Emma Wakeling

I introduced Emma Wakeling here in my previous post as my new cover designer, and now I’d like to ask you all for some feedback on the fruit of Emma’s labour:

Book Cover2

What’s your first impression? We welcome all sorts of criticism so don’t be shy to use the comments’ section below! Hell, even email me if you like: nogaku89@gmail.com

Book Cover2

I think it looks great in thumbnail form too 🙂

Emma reduced the moon a little after Jade from Scatterbooker pointed out that the title would look better with an entirely black background:

Before                                          After

Book Cover rough         Book Cover2

I miss the moon being as big as it was, but the title does ‘pop’ a lot more. What do you think?

Emma read the book and sketched some ideas after our first lot of brainstorming. I’ve including the sketches below to show the thought process behind creating the finished product.

FYI you can check out the rest of Emma’s art on Facebook and Deviant Art.

Sketches that lead to the Final Cover:

Anita’s Profile, with her black hair turning into a Swan:

Sketch_Anita

Emma decided to use soft features for Anita, which I really like. It reminds us how young she is, and her haunted expression says to me that she’s got something weighing on her mind, like she’s trying to psyche herself up up to do something. That’s my opinion anyway. What’s yours?

Black Swan, Head Bowing with the Moon

Sketch_Flighing Swan 1

I loved this image too so I asked Emma to combine this one with Anita’s profile. I think this makes the final cover look like the ‘thing’ that’s weighing on Anita’s mind is literally the inheritance of the Black Swan, with the image of the Swan dripping poison/blood into Anita’s mind. I know that’s not quite what the magic is about, but the inheritance has greatly affected Anita’s life, for better and worse. I love the trippiness of the final image and how Emma pulled off the combination of the two previous images 🙂

Other Sketches

Black Swan in Flight with Moon in Background

Sketch_Flighing Swan 2

Profile of Wicked, Snake-like Black Swan

Sketch_Swan 3

Book Cover2

Artist Showcase: Emma Wakeling

I contacted an old chum from my uni days and discovered that she has her own portfolio! So without further ado, here is Emma Wakeling, artist extraordinaire:

Emma Wakeling ProfileNo, she’s not a cat 😉 but she is very much a cat enthusiast, and a damned good artist. Above is a picture she drew of her Teddy.

I decided to ask her if she’d be interested in working on a new book cover for The Black Swan Inheritance, and also work on the book cover for the sequel further down the track (FYI, I’m currently 45k/~75k words into it). And Emma said yes! In fact, she is currently looking for any commission work to add her professional portfolio.

So I wanted to showcase my new book cover designer 🙂 Emma’s art is very versatile: she’s done mythological creatures, landscapes, abstracts, portraits and animals. You can check out all of Emma’s work at her Facebook page and her Deviant Art Profile. Here are the pieces that she’s completed that really wowed me:

The_Griffin_by_Disturb963

This is ‘The Griffin’ which has been very popular on Emma’s Deviant Art site. Someone even got it as a tattoo!

random_by_disturb963-d30pxtb

I love this piece! It’s called ‘Random’. Emma did this a while ago but the image could be perfectly applicable to the mind of the Black Swan Witch! ‘Cept the bird isn’t a swan 😦 How cool is it though?! Very, that’s how much. And Emma has let me use it as a banner! What will I use a banner for? It’s just up on my book page at the moment with some text, but I’ll think of other uses for it.

landscape_by_disturb963-d7exyxi

A beautiful example of what Emma can do with landscapes, lighting and texture. Just gorgeous.

my_brother_s_warframe__nyx__by_disturb963-d7gne2d

I just wanted to add this image in because I think it’s awesome. Emma says it’s her brother’s warframe Nix, which is a character from a Steam game that neither of us play. Cool but.

About Emma Wakeling:

Emma Wakeling is both a geoscientist and an artist. She has currently put aside her scientific self to develop her more creative side which includes studying graphic design. Emma started drawing at young age, she loved to draw demons, dragons and strange monsters. Nothing much has changed since those days, except that most of her drawings are now done on the computer. She is currently looking for any commission work to add her professional portfolio.

If you would like to contact Emma, you can send a message through either her Facebook or Deviant Art accounts.

Book Review Requests

Since I’ve self-published my first book I’ve been running around like a madwoman (in cyberspace, of course, so it’s not like I’ve gotten out of breath) requesting reviews of as many readers as possible. Here’s what I’ve learned.

First of all, friends are invaluable, for moral support, encouragement, and a sympathetic ear. There are many people I’ve met through this blogging game, writers and readers, poets and philosophers. No, I’m not taking the piss (ockerism, see ‘joking’). Blogging is probably once of the best tools for reflection on the world and the self, as it’s both a way to record important events and thoughts (like a diary) and a forum for discussion of such topics with a variety of people, many of whom have strong curiosity and are open-minded.

Secondly, people want to read, but there are a LOT of books out there. I’m taking the same attitude to this as I took to when I was out of work: apply, apply, apply. If I approach a few bloggers a day or even every week, I’m going to consider that progress. Bethany Hatheway, a fellow indie author whose book I reviewed here, gave me invaluable advice that I should expect about a 5% response rate. It was sobering but I naively hold onto the belief that this advice has prepared me for eventual success.

I have signed up for The Indie View and within a three days I’ve received six requests from people to review their books. I am not a fast reader – I manage about one book a week when I’m working, maybe two when I’m not (although holiday season means lots of family to visit, so I’m not spending as much time reading as I hoped). So now I’ve had some experience with what I’ve always known – it’s impossible for reviewers to read every book that they’re asked. And then, not every reviewer is interested in reading every book. It’s honestly been a better database for authors to approach me rather than the other way around – I haven’t had any luck with using it to gain responses about my work.

However, it was only through authors approaching me to read their books that I found out about Reader’s Favourite (the link takes you to a review of the book I was asked to review), a website that utilises the huge number of readers out there to review everyone’s books. I highly recommend checking them out. I have found similar websites since but they all seem to ask for exhobertant fees in exchange for a review. Reader’s Favourite is, by contrast, free. I haven’t heard back from them since my initial application yesterday, but they seem genuine, and I highly recommend checking them out.

Untitled

So that’s it for now! I shall update as I discover more…

 

It’s HEEEEEEEEEEEERE!

My book is now officially published! Yippy! As such, I am so keen on people who would like to review it 🙂 Please contact me if you would like a free reviewer’s copy in exchange for an honest review (posted on goodreads or your blog or amazon/kobo/smashwords, whichever you like). I have pdf, epub and mobi versions so please let me know which you would like and I shall happily send it along! You can fill out the form below or email me at nogaku89@gmail.com

Please read below for the blurb & click here if you would like to read a scene.

Also, if you would like to purchase the book I currently have it up on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords for US$0.99, although I am looking at expanding to other outlets in the near future.

Please note that this story is New Adult Paranormal Fantasy and includes:

Coarse language, violence, sexual references and one sex scene

Black Swan GOODfirst

The striking Black Swan is native to Australia, unrelated to the seemingly pure White Swan of Europe. She is found in the strangest of places – from ugly mines to cultivated farms, beautiful bushland to violent coastline.

Yet, she always shies away from humanity.

The Black Swan is always beautiful, surprisingly resilient and very, very powerful. Most Black Swans are wise enough not to use that power to challenge the status quo.

Most…

Anita had the kind of reputation in high school that no one wants to carry into adulthood, especially since she wants to be a doctor like her dad. Now at university, she is determined to be good, but one little end-of-semester celebration can’t hurt, right? Well, it can if she ends up having a one-night stand with a werewolf that triggers a dark awakening. Turns out Anita’s over-active libido has become more than something hormonal – it’s magical.

The Black Swan is a powerful legacy that brings both temptation and danger. Having now inherited the title and all that comes with it, Anita finds herself beset upon by ancient abominations that won’t take no for an answer. No wonder the Black Swan had been driven to seclusion and banishment in the past. But Anita is determined not to run away – she is here to help, whether the medieval dragon-wolf or the undead cultists want it or not.

She will be no one’s pawn. She will rise to the challenge.

If she can just manage to deal with her own flaws first. Anxiety, panic-attacks, and bouts of bitchiness does not a successful diplomat make.

Ebook Distribution Services

While investigating the nitty-gritty unexpected details in this self-publishing business (I think I was googling something about ISBNs (those numbers above the barcodes if you didn’t know (like how I didn’t) – consensus seems to be that they aren’t necessary, but are a good thing to have to back up your rights)), I came across this blog post by savvy writers:

http://www.savvybookwriters.com/how-to-distribute-your-ebook-worldwide/

It references the British company eBook Partnership as an option for self-publishers who want to reach ALL OF THE DISTRIBUTORS!

all the distributors

This is a thing? You can pay someone to reach all of the outlets and even libraries? AND THEY DON’T TAKE COMMISSION???

Colour me suspicious.

I’ve got to be honest here: this seems too good to be true. These guys only charge $50 for a year of this:

Untitled

They do have plenty of recommendations on their website… but you know how if it seems too good to be true, it probably is?

What I’d like to know, is if any of you authors/interested parties out there have heard of this? For now, it seems legit, but I’m definitely curious on getting some third-party opinions…

So, what do you think?

Nerves & Necromancy

I have now created a page for my upcoming book, The Black Swan Inheritance and with it, a snippet of a scene from the book! Figured I’d post it as well, so please, read on:

I found the body where the werewolf had left it. Black blood stained the ground, as well as my clothes. I worried if I had stopped to shower and change I would lose my nerve. Nerves were about all I had now. Nerves and necromancy.

Kneeling down next to the dead creature, my bare legs soaked up the heat of the day from the bitumen. I swallowed audibly and picked up the head to reposition it. That done, I took the small pocketknife I had been given when I joined scouts (I left after about a month) and opened the blade.

“Blood of the Black S-swan.” I was trying to command the dead to rise, and I couldn’t manage that through chattering teeth. I cleared my throat and started again. “Blood of the Black Swan binds you to me. I call you from the grave and into the night. If you shall accept, rise.”

I sliced the inside of my left palm and blood pooled. I coated my red blood against his black, running my hand around his severed neck. Then, finally, I placed my wounded palm over his mouth.

I looked away when I heard movement of flesh against stone, but forced my eyes back upon the scene. I watched as his blood coagulated with mine and brought the head back to the body. I watched as the fatal wound healed itself. I watched as the skin and muscle knitted before my eyes. I watched as the vampire’s eyes snapped open, and he grabbed my hand with both of his and pressed it hard against his mouth.

The feeding was disgusting. The vampire rose a little but only to force more of my blood into his mouth. It reminded me of a man bucking during sex. He drank with greedy desperation, as if frightened the blood be taken from him at any moment. I let him feed, but when I felt my strength wane, I had to put a stop to it.

“Enough.”

The vampire stilled with the command.

“Release me.”

He relinquished my wrist, and I checked my palm. The clean cut was marred with hickeys – bruising from the vampire sucking so desperately he brought the blood up through the skin. My vision became spotty, so I let my hand drop to my side, hoping that if I hid the sight of it I could manage to remain conscious.

“I have claimed you, do you understand?”

He nodded, but his eyes were glassy.

“Are you still hungry?”

“Yes,” he whispered in a weak voice.

“You can no longer feed on me. Is there anything else that can be done to heal you?”

“No blood?”

“No blood.”

He didn’t answer for a moment. Then he said, “Bury me. I need rest.”

I blinked. “Bury you? Bury you where?”

“Somewhere safe.”

I didn’t even own a shovel. I lived in an apartment, after all. Where would be safe?

There was a park right next to where we were, but that could hardly be safe. There was sort of a common, a grassy back garden at the apartment block where the clothesline was. How was I to dig up the ground?

Wait, the management hired a gardener. He came every week and kept his tools in a little shed, next to the hot water systems. There should be a shovel in there.

I just hoped I wasn’t caught.

“C’mon.” I helped the vampire to his feet. “You’re coming home with me.”

The Black Swan Inheritance will be out 1st December 2014!

Copyright © 2014 Sarah Thomas writing as Marigold Deidre Dicer

Also, I am pretty bloody sure I’ll be using this cover. I definitely liked the other ones but I had to choose, and I personally prefer the Black Swan to be in all her glory.

Black Swan GOODfirst

Original cover photographed reproduced here by permission of photographer Nicholas Raymond of http://freestock.ca/animals_insects_g29-cygnus_p1486.html

Famous Last Words

Maybe it’s too soon to publish my book. When you look at it professionally, and note things like the stats and traffic and how much I tend to ignore social media (I use facebook and twitter for mild stalking purposes, and if I make a connection with someone its pure luck), then yes, I’m probably not ‘ready’ to venture into self-publishing yet.

However, I am ready. I am SO ready. I’ve been having fun writing for a few years now, and I am ready to explore new territory. I might not be doing the right things to garner attention, and I’m sure not giving my book the best possible chance to be exposed to the public, but honestly, screw it all. I love reading advice and I love all the ‘how to’ and ’10 things you need to know’, but I’m more than happy to just pick up my book, run with it, and see how far I get.

I did think about sending it off to a few traditional publishers this week, until I remembered how I felt with those couple of rejections I got. I want to try this out for myself, and now, no one can tell me ‘no’. I am an amateur; an enthusiastic, happy, eager amateur. It’s likely that very few people will read my book, and I’m okay with that because it’s more than the number of people who’ll read it while it’s sitting in my laptop. It’s possible that no one will like my book, and I’ve realised I’m okay with that too. You don’t have to like it. I can’t promise I won’t take a bad comment personally because it is personal (it’s MY book, dammit!), but I also recognise that you don’t have to like every piece of me. That’s what this book is – a piece. A piece of curiosity, an experiment with exploring the lives of other people, albeit one coloured by my perception of how such people would act. If you don’t like this piece of me, this cross-section of my creativity, that’s fine. I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep writing and posting and publishing pieces of myself until I run out. I don’t think that day will ever come, since imagination is the sort of thing that grows the more you exercise it. However, if one day in the future I do run out, I expect I will be immensely satisfied with what I’ve been able to create and be able to die in peace.

I called this post ‘famous last words’ for a reason I think you’ll now find obvious – I am promising to be this open-minded and optimistic person until the end of my time. I am setting myself up for failure. But if I do fail, if I take it all too personally and get incredibly disheartened and stop writing, I know I’ll write again. It’s happened before. I just need to learn to skip the interim and enjoy being an unprofessional amateur. If I fail, I fail on my own terms, and only I can pick myself up and continue on.

I’m ready. I’m game. Bring it on.

Famous last words?

P.S. Dear Autocorrect, Stop suggesting ‘selfish’ whenever I start typing self-publish. You’re just contributing to the issue.