Random Friday

Today total randomness was sparkled by this post and I’m going to elaborate on both the reader and writer side of it.

Like I said,Β  I’ve been buying on Amazon since 2004 – much like this guy. I even got myself a Kindle Keyboard way back in 2011 because it had no touch screen (something I hate, and that’s why I don’t have a smartphone nor any other kind of tablet). Except I don’t buy all my ebooks on Amazon. Quite the opposite. I go on Amazon only for those darn KDP Select authors. Like my friends who own Kobo e-readers and buy from everywhere but Kobo.

So I totally relate with him. As a reader. But also as a writer. I’m not KDP Select. Yes, most of my sales these days come from Amazon ITALIA – because there is less competition, since Italy is way behind in indie publishing and my books are obviously cheaper than the ones put out by Italian trad-pubbers. But I still don’t put all my eggs in Amazon’s basket.

Now I can’t comment on the guy’s blog post since I had such a hard time deleting myself from Google+ (losing my YouTube channel in the process, hence the book trailers have vanished from this blog), but I wonder if he knows of XinXii. If he ever buys anything from there. Because XinXii is still expanding its distribution channel, but still doesn’t allow sampling, unless the author uploads a separate file for the sample. So the European Smashwords is fundamentally flawed – and its distribution doesn’t really take me to places I don’t already go myself.

Plus, I got their free ISBN in December (special offer), and now those 2 titles are locked, I can’t change the file and update it or anything. I will have to unpublish them if I want to put up the revision. So I stopped putting stuff on there, also because I haven’t sold ONE book in two years there. Even DriveThru is better! I keep uploading there because there is the free sampling and sometimes I do get a sale.

Oh, and I got a couple of reads on Scribd through Smashwords. And one tip on NoiseTrade. So that’s a lot more than what I got from XinXii. Although I’m not sure samples really help sales. See this marketing survey – where I also gave my answers. So I don’t know what’s wrong with XinXii. I don’t think adding titles would help my visibility there…

So, what do you say? Do you use samples or not? Do you browse just an online retailer or do you shop many places? How do you find your next book to read?


Writer Wednesday

I have uploaded another title to Noise Trade – Allan de Sayek. Since downloads on the previous one have stopped, I’m trying to add a title. Conall’s sons will be taken down at the end of the month, like I had in mind. And this title will stay until the end of July. Maybe mid-July I’ll add the August title – but mid-August I’ll be at Loncon, so I won’t have time to upload anything! πŸ™‚ As usual, tip is welcome, but not mandatory…

I had my schedule for Loncon, but it might change, since the panel they gave me I don’t think I have much to say. So I’ll wait and see if they find me something else before announcing what panels I will be on! πŸ™‚

There is still time if you would like to submit a story to Wyrd Worlds II. Here are the guidelines – deadline is being postponed to July, so dust off those SFF short stories and send them along! πŸ™‚ I might add an Amazon short story, since I have another month to submit! πŸ˜‰

I got some money from Kobo – royalties since November 2012 to (I think) May 2014 finally meeting the minimum treshold for the payment. Not that they give any description of what the transfer refers to… and there’s nothing on the dashboard, so… I’ll just add the money on the royalty sheet, shrug and go back to writing. Another bill paid…

And I had another unexpected happiness yesterday – maybe my real job is trying to distract me from dreadful DayJob – but I will tell you more about it later… I’ll just put the new vignette here for now.

144Writing-wise, I’m done with Kilig’s Heart and I’ve rewritten the body switch, so now I’m going to try that Amazon short before I write the third part of Kilig&Hakeem. Giving what’s done to betas right now, including offline beta who is finally back in Rome! πŸ™‚ Busy today and tomorrow with the offline writers group meeting and Dear Nephew, I’ll get back to serious writing on Friday… if I don’t take a bus to the town center and see if I can do something about darn DayJob.

Now, some writerly links: This is the single biggest mistake indie authors make while promoting their work and I’m not doing it, mostly because I’m not on Twitter. But then, I’m not doing it on Facebook either! πŸ˜‰ It’s true, though – 20000 followers don’t equal 20000 sales. I’d be much better off if all the people who follow this blog or like my author page also bought my books (even only half of them).

If you’re wondering if you’ve missed the boat of indie publishing, no, you haven’t. Check Dean Wesley Smith’s blog and learn why. If I can get some peace of mind at DayJob, I really should try one of his online workshops as well. But until my mornings are clouded with uncertainty and bad mood, I don’t think I can concentrate on anything…

Sometime this summer I’ll have to prepare the new POD versions of the CVE. I’ve got the low-res files of the new covers, and they look better than mine – especially for POD. So I’ll do the CreateSpace version in my free time this summer, and order the proofs in September (useless doing it during the summer, they’d never get here). I’ll decide later if leaving the e-book cover as is or change it with the new cover. I’ll make a poll when I’m ready! πŸ˜‰ Have a great week!

Writer Wednesday

Draft Zero of the third body switch is done. Beta-readers and cover artist will soon get it. I need to re-read it, but I want to wait until next week, so I can see it with a fresh eye. I had fun writing this one as much as I had with Ciaran&Harith. Probably because the first was “recycled” from a screenplay I wrote in my attempt to conquer Hollywood, it wasn’t as much fun to turn into prose.

Anyhow, now I’ll write the last tale of the Southern Kingdoms that I couldn’t pin at the end of April, due to distressing news at DayJob – I’m almost over them, especially since I’ll be on vacation next week. Not going anywhere, but not going to work either! Well, I’ll have to work on the publishing side of my real job, and that’s also a source of anxiety. So I’ll try to nail that short story before the vacation starts! πŸ™‚

I’ll also use the time off DayJob to refocus on my goals, rekindling my dreams. In case you’re not aware of the difference, read Hugh Howey’s post. I have the same goal of the 5000 copies in my lifetime – I call it my 5000 true fans – and I need to find a way to spread the name and titles, so those 5000 people can find me in the ocean of books out there. Of course I also dream of becoming a successful author, but my goal is not to enter the Kindle Million Club, just to find those 5000 readers! πŸ™‚

So I will start experimenting with bundles. There is already a couple of bundles on DriveThru (the Books of the Immortals or the Chronicles of the Varian Empire), but I will try to do a bundle on Amazon, leave it for up to six months – as suggested on David Gaughran’s blog – and see what happens. Or maybe I’ll try to get a title on story bundle – I’m going to pass on the latest offer, since I haven’t started on the other two bundles yet. My TBR pile never goes down – especially if I keep buying budles! 😦

Then I need to write two more shorts for submissions… and that should take me to the end of May. In June I’ll be translating Male Lovers, hoping it will do well like the Italian version of Star Minds. The Amazon.it royalties paid my electricity bill a few days ago – little indie author’s happiness! πŸ™‚ I will spare you the unhappiness (it has to do with the new KDP sales dashboard – I’ve sent them my feedback), but know there is one there too. It’s not all easy and funny, no. But I’ll keep trudging forward. I know I’ll reach my goals. If the dreams come true as well… even better. If not, at least I’ll have to set up new goals! πŸ™‚

One last link – I used to follow Jai Joshi’s blog religiously, until I ran out of time (and she started doing vlogs)! She was one of my first Indian blogging friends, along with Hema, but then life happened and I lost track of her. I’m still following her on Goodreads and that’s where I saw her latest announcement: now she’s putting on Kindle her Mahabharat short story series, so go check this latest post from her – yeah, free Kindle book! If I didn’t have such a long TBR list, I’d add it to the mix… hopefully, one day… sigh…

Have a great week!

Writer Wednesday

AmazonSpringDTFAmazon Spring is now live on Kindle, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords and DriveThruFiction… and even Apple! Took them one week to approve it…

I shall be a guest on Doug’s blog soon – yes, I’ve answered those twenty questions too, so check back again on the link. I’ll be posting the interview on my Facebook profile, but if you’re not on Facebook, just follow the above link. Or maybe I’ll update this post! πŸ˜€

UPDATE: Here’s the link to my interview!

As I trudge through the next Amazons story before heading back to the Southern Kingdoms (featured in Amazon Spring, since The Slave is set there, with an Amazon a little far from her country), I still have plenty of ideas bouncing in my head. I’ll tell you all about Torino Comics on Friday, since it’s not really a writerly news and the only writing discussion is still undefined and it’s too early to talk about it. Besides, how can I surprise you, if I start babbling now about it? πŸ˜‰

So, to the writerly links! Kris Rusch reminds to stand up for yourself. Especially if you’re a traditionally published writer dealing with Editor-From-Hell. I never thought it could be that bad, and I’m glad I’ve chosen the indie way. Even if I can’t apply all of Kris and Dean’s teaching in this third world country, eventually I’ll manage to set up a business and maybe even rebrand myself. Maybe. In the meantime admire the mess I’ve done with my Scribd subscription: two pen-names under the same umbrella. Sigh. Not that it’s a secret, but still… I guess I won’t activate the third link after all! πŸ™‚

Viv on piracy, pricing and the pernicious effects of victim-less crimes. I had some kind of breakdown in January when a Google Alert showed what looked a pirate site with all my works for free (and all taken from Smashwords…), but then I shrugged it off. It’s a little like dealing with trolls – I think ignoring them is the best way.

Or receive e-mails from America Star Books who has discovered that I published a book and offers free translation for it. Pity the book (which one?) is probably already in English anyway. And it’s already published in America. So much for another Author Solutions venture… did they get my name from Lulu? Then I guess it’s time to change POD company…

David Gaughran on improving KDP. I don’t see the benefits of pre-order yet, and I certainly won’t go Select at any time, but some of the things that were requested sound fair. I’ve got the email about the Sales Report in the dashboard – much like Smashwords graphics. And I’ve had those threatening e-mails and my account blocked because they challenged the copyright of my free title – which means it’s not on Amazon anymore. It might get back there if I do the project I’m mentioning above – although CreateSpace don’t do hard backs, do they? Drat, I’ll have to stick to Lulu.

Anyhow, I guess that’s all for today. Have a great week! πŸ™‚


Writer Wednesday

First of all, I’m guest at Rita Lee Chapman’s so go and read the interview ASAP, since it’s only for a week! πŸ™‚ And since I’m not shy when it comes to written interviews, I’m going to add the 4 questions of #mywritingprocess even if I’m not on Twitter (that’s why I’m not really tagging anyone, but I got it from Viv’s blog – go check her answers!)!

What am I working on?

Okay, I’m done with translating Star Minds, so I’m back on Silvery Earth. A few short stories to translate and rewrite about the Amazons (the first volume of stories of the Queendom of Maadre will come out in April, these will go in the second) and a few more that are “new” (from old notes and summaries) and then I’ll probably write a few more tales of the Southern Kingdoms, so I can have another anthology set before TSK1, BoI – Air and TSK2 later in the year. Then I’ll do the last bit of translation (Male Lovers of Silvery Earth needs to be in Italian, since the cover artist is Italian, although can speak English, LOL) and then I hope to get back to the Assassins’ Guild of Southern Varia (Saif’s Legacy). Busy busy – those popcorn kittens never leave! πŸ˜‰

How does my work differ form others of its genre?

Well, it’s labeled “adult unconventional fantasy” for a reason… no quests, no heroes’ journeys… And a lot of characters who are or feel different from the rest of the world, and either try to fit in or not. No Good vs Evil or Go And Save The World stories, but I think there’s a lot of conflict anyway (or there wouldn’t be a story, right?)

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s fun, I like to make up stuff and I write what I’d like to read but don’t seem to be able to find it! πŸ˜‰ Yeah, I’m my #1 fan! πŸ˜€

How does my writing process work?

Idea – can be a sentence, an image, a thought, anything. Either notes and brainstorming with myself, or I tell myself the story before going to sleep (but then lose something when I transcribe it, so I try not to use it too often). Draft zero is mostly improvised (and written longhand). Draft 1 revises and adjusts, and then goes out to betas. When I get all the comments back (from 1 for a short story to as many as I can get for longer works), I rewrite and send off to Editor. Final pass and formatting or submitting…

And in reminding you the sale of Technological Angel – at 99cents only on Amazon, Kobo and DriveThruFiction and only until Saturday – I will now move to the writerly links!

Dean Wesley Smith has started the Killing the top ten sacred cows of indie publishing, so don’t miss them! I’m indie, even if I haven’t set up Unicorn Productions as a business – but then I live in Italy, not in the US. Most complicated country to start a business in. Sigh. But I still consider myself indie and not self-published! πŸ™‚ But I’m also available at Powell’s Books – even if 2 covers are missing! Whoot for CreateSpace’s extended distribution (the paperbacks are also at B&N)! πŸ˜€ And I live in Italy, so you see, it’s not impossible to get into US bookstores! πŸ˜‰

And then go check the latest post on discoverability by Kris Rusch. And don’t forget to read what Joe Konrath knows and print it out and pin it in front of your desk! πŸ˜‰ In short, welcome to the new world of publishing. You’ve written a book? Good. Don’t look for an agent. Don’t look for a publishers. Check those three pros blogs and just publish it! πŸ™‚ Have a great week!

Happiness is…


oh, boy, my first POD! I still have a few copies left – collector’s items! πŸ˜‰ I’ll have them at Loncon, if anyone makes it there… It will be available at 10Β£ including a coupon for a free download of the e-book – revised version! πŸ˜‰

Writer Wednesday

Nothing new on the writerly front. Still translating – and selling a little the Italian Star Minds. There are less Italian indie authors, so less books to compare with, LOL.

I know I’m a week late, but maybe now the site won’t crash if you take the survey at authorsearnings.com! Read Joe Konrath’s post about it, if you still haven’t heard about this initiative by Hugh Howey, and study the report as well. I took the author survey with my meager earnings, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! πŸ˜‰

Now, Kris Rusch on blogging as discoverability tool… I’m still pondering if I should grab that bundle even if my TBR pile never goes down and checked the eBookSoda and BookBub requirements, so sometime later this year, I might try them. I’m still blogging because I enjoy it, and I don’t do blog tours just because I can’t be bothered to organize them. I haven’t been invited back everytime I had a guest, but I don’t care. I still go by Dean‘s phylosophy “If it’s not fun, don’t do it” and Scott‘s “WIBBOW” test! πŸ˜‰

More wisdom from Hugh Howey about self-publishing or indie publishing or whatever you want to call it: luck and lottery. And it’s not a gold rush and e-books are forever (like Joe Konrath likes to repeat) and so on and so forth. This is from a happy indie who can’t quit her day job yet, but is still here, still blogging, still publishing and mostly still having fun.

That’s all for this week… whenever I get back to writing in English, should I post some short fiction or extracts on the blog as well? Yes? No? Liking the post won’t help… write a comment, thank you! πŸ™‚

Random Friday

I wanted to do a “year in review” for books and movies, but I don’t think I have much to say about movies, since I went to the cinema once (well, twice, but it was to watch the same movie) and I still haven’t started the DVD pile I got in London (and I even added to it with Xmas presents and other buys, sigh). So I’ll just make a reading year in review, since I deleted my Goodreads Reading Challenge sometimes at the beginning of the year (or at least in the first half), but I still think it’s worth to point which were my favorite books of 2013.

I’ve read 28 ebooks, 5 PODs and 5 manuscripts (+ my own manuscripts: 2 novel-length, 5 novellas and 5 shorts). Of the manuscripts, 2 have been published, 1 is the beta-reading I did for some Wyrd Words authors and 2 more, haven’t heard from the authors, so dunno if they’re out or not.

In order of reading, this is a list of the 5stars I have virtually given this year – anything lower won’t be listed! πŸ˜‰

Ashes of Deceit (Amaranthine #5) – Joleene Naylor (that’s one of the titles I beta-read, so I haven’t read the final version, but I enjoy the series, so I know it can only get better when Jo decides to put it out there, LOL!)

Wickedly Charming – Kristine Grayson (hilarious POD that I bought way back in 2011 when I went to the Oregon Coast). Will have to check more of this series! πŸ˜€

Monarch by Michelle D Argyle (I waited for a long time because I feared it wouldn’t me my cup of tea. It was. I should trust my author friends more, even when they switch genres!)

Be my alien by M.A. Church (short and hot M/M erotica – if that’s your cup of tea, that is)

The lost gateway by Josephine L. Brooks (another author of Tim Flanagan’s Kindle SFF event last July – still have a few to read from that day)

1984 by George Orwell (yeah, I’m catching up with the classics… and we are living 1984, so it was creepy and cool at the same time) especially coupled with (non-fiction) Tales from the Time-loop by David Icke (who often refers to it)! πŸ™‚

And the other title that I beta-read is Body Check by D.H.Hendrickson, out now on Amazon. If you’re a sports and romance buff, go get it now! πŸ™‚

Following last year’s similar post, here’s the hopes of reading for 2014. This is currently my TBR list:

10 POD books (including Game of Thrones that I bought in London at least 2 years ago, and will probably never get to it because it’s a door-stopper!)

almost 40 books to read on my Kindle (including 13 non-fiction and 12 classics)

almost 40 books on my Smashwords library (a.k.a. wishlist)

25 books on my Goodreads “want-to-read” shelves (and no, they don’t overlap with Smashwords, I add there the books that are not available on SW)

My goal for 2014 is to at least finish what’s still to read on my Kindle, especially the fiction titles. Half the non-fiction and half the classics would be a good count too. So that’s about 25 books. I can do it! πŸ˜€

By the way, I just got a special offer: FREE steampubk short stories! Haven’t read them yet, but if you want, go grab them! πŸ™‚

If you got an e-reader for Xmas, go get yourselves some of my books. If you don’t have a calendar for next year, gentle reminder I have 2 available, Keanu Reeves & Hrithik Roshan. Stay tuned for Barb’s adventures with those two (in my dreams, of course)! πŸ˜‰ I’m not the best artist of the world, but the calendars will color your days! πŸ™‚

See you next year! πŸ˜€

Writer Wednesday

Looky look, even WordPress wished me a happy anniversary! Ain’t they sweet? πŸ˜‰ That’s why I still love them and stick to them! πŸ˜€
In spite of the keratitis, I managed to go through the document and found a few typos, a couple of wandering commas, some missing words and some extra words – if more escaped, blame it on my sore eye. Sorry for the false announcement last Wednesday, but I kinda retracted it in the same paragraph – with the sore eye, I didn’t see I had mentioned a new title out in the first part.
AmazonSisters_resizeAnyway, Amazon Sisters is out! πŸ™‚ Check it on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, DriveThruFictionΒ and even XinXii – and Apple who still lags behind (got the link this morning before this went live, phew!). A special thanks to The Rodent for his input on this one – he deserves a free copy, doesn’t he? It’s coming your way, Mr Rodent, don’t worry… Thanks for being my guinea pig with a Kobo e-reader! πŸ™‚
And then we have the Giveaway winners for this blog! πŸ™‚ Coupons have been emailed to whoever entered… As for Goodreads, I just received the e-mail that it’s closed and who the winner is. More on this next week.
September is over and since I can’t read on screen, I’ll skip the writerly links this week as well. My sales went up to 6 units (from 1 in August) for Ciaran&Harith – 4 on Kindle, 1 on Kindle UK and 1 on Kobo UK. England, I’m taking you by storm, LOL! I guess my humor is more for the British than the Americans… Or is it because of Ciaran? He’s not British, he’s Irish! And I know India is a former British colony, but they’ve been independent since 1947 (correct me if I’m wrong, I can’t google it at this time – sore eye still on)! πŸ˜€
Just kidding, it took Johnny&Marian a couple of months before it started selling, and I sold it both on Amazon.com and Amazon UK for almost a year – 3 or 4 copies a month, so it’s still my bestseller! πŸ˜‰
I managed to finish the inking of SKYBAND – but now the rest of the job is with Photoshop, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to do it. The eye feels better, but apparently these things take time. And I could toy with the screen light, but I’d rather just wait.
This has pushed back all my publishing schedule, unfortunately, so the complete Star Minds Snippets will come out in November. But you’ll have another taste or two this month. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚
Apparently you can’t have a YouTube account without being on Google+, so I don’t have any book trailers anymore – until I open another account. My sore eye didn’t allowΒ  me to see what I was doing and I joined Google+, unifying my Gmail and Youtube account. I managed to get out of it, but lost the YouTube channel – unless I join Google+, then I can reactivate all the videos (book trailers).
Suggestions? Is Vimeo all right?Β  Maybe I should just open another YouTube account without my Gmail (I have 6 working e-mail addies anyway) and see what happens… although I don’t like YouTube policies, so… sigh!
Not that the book trailers brought in sales, but they look great on book pages (available only with certain retailers, such as Smashwords or DriveThru)… I’d need a premium membership to upload directly to WordPress, so I’d skip that expense for now. And I took off the videos from Goodreads and Amazon Author Central as well…
More work to do – wouldn’t I be better off writing instead! πŸ˜‰ Have a great week! πŸ˜€

Writer Wednesday

Seems Kobo is running a sale – 50% off sale (it runs through the remainder of September with code Sept50 in the cart). I don’t have a Kobo reader, so I don’t know… But it comes handy, since I have a new title out – well, if Kobo makes it “live” in a timely manner, that is. Like Smashwords, they’re expanding and hiring, so it takes longer to publish with them.

I wanted to announce a new title, but unfortunately I was knocked out the whole weekend with a sore eye – which didn’t allow me to stay at the computer for more than five minutes. Not to mention that the text needed one last reading pass, formatting and then upload. So next week, sigh.

I will then share news from writer friends – this is for my screenwriter friends, mostly. Two years ago at a workshop on the Oregon coast (you can guess by who), I met a writer who specializes in Amish fiction.
Four years ago, I signed my first book contract. It was part of a sweet series set in various real towns all over the U.S. put out by a young publishing company called Summerside Press. As my agent went through the contract with me over the phone, she came to the part about movie rights, and I laughed out loud. Me? A movie. Psssht. Like THAT would ever happen!
And then it happened! She’s now currently on the set of the movie based on her book! πŸ™‚ That’s why I’ve given up writing screenplays and went back to writing prose – one day a producer might find one of my books and decide to make a movie out of it…
Here’s the thing: I absolutely knew in my heart that my little Amish book would never see the light of day as a movie. The mere thought was totally ridiculous. My contract could have given the publisher all movie rights and I wouldn’t have cared because the possibility was too remote. It was my first book with a “real” publisher. At that stage of my career, I would have signed ANYTHING if it meant getting published.Moral of the story: Every word of a contract is really, really, really important because no one can predict the future and NO book should be viewed by the author as a throwaway.
So that’s total wisdom from a writer who made it! πŸ™‚ Now I’m eagerly waiting for the DVD to come out so I can watch a movie based on a friend’s story! πŸ™‚
Also, I have another friend looking for work. If you’d like to have your stories translated into Italian and taste that market, contact me, and I’ll put you in touch with her. I have no idea of her prices or how well you could do – like I said, Italians don’t read much. But most of my sales on Kobo are in Italy, so things are changing! πŸ˜‰
Eye-doctor (a.k.a. Da Oculist) sez I’ll have to stay put for at least 7 days, so I can’t spend too much at the PC – the white screen kills my left eye. I can write (the paper doesn’t hurt my eye as much as the screen does), so I’m jotting down ideas longhand, but I have to limit my time online. I will add the writerly links next week (when hopefully I’ll feel better, if not healed) and sign off. Don’t worry there are posts scheduled, you won’t miss me! πŸ™‚ Have a great week (I’m spending mine in the dark, brainstorming with myself and trying not to panick at the ideas accumulating, LOL!)!
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