Tag Archives: e-books

3 freebies for 3rd annual Reader Appreciation Day

It’s Sept. 13, and you know what that means: something free from your favorite author of wonderfully weird fiction.

(That’s me, by the way.)

I started Reader Appreciation Day in 2016 as a way to get the word out about Capricon and Beyond, the free e-book compendium for The Renegade Chronicles. Then last year, I gave away free wallpapers for a then-upcoming short story.

Keeping this tradition is important to me because I truly believe that readers make writers better at their craft. (More on that here.)

To show my gratitude to everyone who has ever visited Altaerra, journeyed into the dreamscape, or simply took the time to read my blog posts, I offer these three freebies:

1. If Souls Can Sleep

In celebration of the upcoming release of If Sin Dwells Deep (Book Two of The Soul Sleep Cycle), Book One will be available for free at Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and a slew of other online retailers.

Download If Souls Can Sleep as an e-book today to get a glimpse at the dreamscape before Book Two releases—but don’t dillydally because this is a limited-time promotion.

2. If Sin Dwells Deep

If you want to read If Sin Dwells Deep before the official publication date, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway and try your luck at winning one of 100 free copies for Kindle.

Oh, and today is the last day of the contest, so do not delay!

3. ‘Ghost Mode’

Last—though certainly not least—I’m thrilled to share one of my short stories in audio, courtesy of KC Johnston at Story Tale Podcast.

“Ghost Mode” appeared earlier this year in the One Million Project Fantasy Anthology (available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon.com). If audio books are your music to your ears, check out “Ghost Mode” here:

And thanks again, readers, for your ongoing support as I continue to conjure up bizarre books and strange stories!

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Free e-book for Renegade Chronicles fans

Hence forth, let Sept. 13 be known as Reader Appreciation Day!

As a thank-you to my readers—and in hopes of reaching more—I’ve created a free compendium for The Renegade Chronicles, my fun fantasy saga featuring anti-heroes aplenty.

Cover of "Capricon and Beyond: The Renegade Chronicles Compendium"

Download Capricon and Beyond: The Renegade Chronicles Compendium for FREE here.

Available for Kindle, Nook, and just about any other e-reader you can name, Capricon and Beyond provides an in-depth look at the world of Altaerra—from the island of Capricon to greater Continae to far, foreign shores.

The e-book compiles a variety of resources for those interested in learning more about the people and places that populate The Renegade Chronicles as well as those who want a behind-the-scenes look at my world-building process. The glossary of more than 250 names and terms will serve as a handy quick-reference guide for “visitors.”

Capricon and Beyond also contains a never-before-published prologue for the series, starring “the Stranger.”

Other content includes:

  • Character profiles
  • Maps of Capricon and Western Arabond
  • Historical and cultural notes
  • Sketches drawn by yours truly

Sign up for my newsletter to receive the link to your copy of Capricon and Beyond.

And have a happy Reader Appreciation Day!

New to Altaerra? Learn more about The Renegade Chronicles here.

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Coming soon: Renegade Chronicles compendium

An editor of mine once said, “No one wants to know how the sausage is made.”

He was referring to journalistic processes—the hoops reporters jump through in order to research, interview, and write stories as well as edit, paginate, and publish them. Readers care only about the quality of finished article, not all of the work that went into it.

That might be true of newspapers, but as a lifelong fan of fantasy, I know that those who venture into fictional realms often appreciate additional glimpses into the wider world, including supplementary explorations of characters and cultures and even the author’s method for creating them.

Think of them as travel guides.

In the spirit of giving fans a more in-depth look at the people, places, and peculiarities of The Renegade Chronicles—and an excuse to return to Altaerra—I’m in the process of creating a (FREE!) compendium called Capricon and Beyond.

While I put the finishing touches on the e-book, please enjoy this excerpt. It’s a character profile I composed for a certain rogue knight prior to writing the first draft of Rebels and Fools.

Black and white sketch of Dominic Horcalus, Knight of Superius

While I’ve never been more than a dabbler in drawing, I occasionally made time to sketch the natives of Altaerra.

Dominic Horcalus

Horcalus comes from a long line of Knights of Superius. Like his father and his father before him, Horcalus stands tall—about 6’2”—and keeps himself in excellent physical shape. The muscles on his arms, legs, and chest are well-defined, and there’s hardly any fat on his body. His eyes are gray; his hair, brown. A full, neatly-trimmed mustache graces his upper lip. Despite a rather hawkish nose and sharp chin, Horcalus is a reasonably handsome man.

Horcalus’s usual garb consists of combination plate-and-chainmail armor, a shield of some sort, an open-faced helmet with a nose-guard, and his trusty longsword.

Horcalus presents himself with an air of quiet dignity. He acts and speaks proudly, though not haughtily. He has excellent posture, looking comically stiff at times. He doesn’t fidget, and maintains a composed, stoic exterior unless something has him greatly discombobulated. His tone tends to soften, and he is more likely to smile when interacting with women and children.

Horcalus’s speech is the epitome of proper. He’ll almost always use two words in lieu of a contraction. He may use an outdated or archaic phrase or expression without realizing it.

Horcalus’s childhood was not so unlike many other boys borne of Knights. His father was stern but loving, making sure his son was well-disciplined and teaching the boy everything he knew about life and the Knighthood. Horcalus became his father’s squire at a remarkably young age and then went to Fort Splendor to train as a novice when he was fifteen years old.

Horcalus loves a challenge and delights in a hard-fought victory, though he is ever a gracious winner. He spends much time engaged in mock-combat, honing his skill, teaching others what he knows as well as learning from their techniques. Aside from physical trials, he likes games that improve his intellect and sharpen his wit (e.g., solving at riddles and playing chess). He has little interest in games of chance and shuns gambling.

Horcalus is not quick to laugh, but that is not to say he is devoid of humor. He’ll laugh at clever joke but seldom at another’s expense. He hates lies and engages in a lie only when it’s unavoidable. He’s a very bad liar, actually. His conscience holds a tight reign over his actions.

Like most Knights of Superius, Horcalus is extremely patriotic, but Horcalus does his best to accept people of every nation. Like many humans, he has his misgivings about the other races, but he is never less than polite to the occasional half-elf or gnome who crosses his path. He distrusts magic-users, but his greatest prejudice is against people who foment disorder and take advantage of their fellow man.

Horcalus is a stalwart optimist. He became a Knight to help make the world a better place. So long as he is fighting for the side of peace and justice, Horcalus enjoys life. Conversely, when he becomes a member of the Renegades, the disgraced Knight finds life nearly unbearable.

Horcalus serves Pintor the Warriorlord by adhering to the virtues outlined in the Knighthood’s code of conduct. He knows several prayers by rote. More often than not, when he prays, he is asking for guidance or forgiveness. Horcalus also honors the other Gods of Good, though he doesn’t really address these other deities by name.

While Horcalus did have a childhood sweetheart, he won’t fall in love until many years after the Renegade War. Horcalus thinks love is important, and he wants a wife and family, but the quest for a soulmate is far more difficult than anything the Knighthood has ever asked of him. He always figured the gods would provide him with a capable woman when and if they see fit. Horcalus wants children too—particularly a son to follow in his footsteps as a Knight of Superius.

Horcalus made many friends while in the Knighthood. His best friend and mentor is Chester Ragellan. He develops relationships with Klye Tristan, Arthur Bismarc, and Lilac Zephyr during the Renegade War.

More details about the release of Capricon and Beyond as well as other exciting news for The Renegade Chronicles will be released soon. Until then, may the Warriorlord watch over you!

It’s here! Download Capricon and Beyond: The Renegade Chronicles Compendium for FREE.

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Fun and games with book reviews

Sometimes book marketing seems like one big game.

Sometimes it feels like a joke.

In the spirit of positivity and productivity, I’ll eschew the plethora of ridiculous scenarios an author encounters while trying to promote his wares. But one paradox that made me smile (or, rather, roll my eyes) was when I was submitting information about my free Kindle promo and came across multiple paid services to spread the word.

That’s right: not only would I not make any profits on the book downloads during the promotion, but I’d actually be losing money in the process.

Any entrepreneur worth his home office knows you have to spend money to make money. It all comes down to ROI. But I personally believe there are better marketing avenues than pay-per-tweet networks.

OK, one more laugh: there are some online book reviewers who won’t read a novel until it has received a certain number of reviews on Amazon. I suppose professional/quasi-professional reviewers need everyday readers to make a decision before they deign it appropriate to crack the proverbial spine themselves. But from an author’s perspective, well, we need reviews on websites to gain exposure so that people buy, read, and, yes, rate the book on Amazon.com.

In an earlier blog post about the 5 ways to support the writer in your life, I brought up the importance of posting reviews. I’d like to revisit that topic today. Now. Because it turns out they are really, really important.

Also, I’m not too proud to beg for book reviews.

In case you need some convincing, here are a handful of reasons why book reviews can make a big difference in a novel’s success:

  • As mentioned above, some book review websites won’t bother with a novel unless it has at least five or ten or more reviews on Amazon.
  • Some book marketing services won’t include a book until it hits a certain quantity and rank of reviews on Amazon. For example: “Must have at least ten five-star reviews.”
  • Oftentimes, readers won’t take a book seriously if there are zero or very few customer reviews. Zero reviews just looks suspicious, and having less than ten is admittedly sad.
  • Amazon.com itself assesses the value of a book based on the number of reviews. Once a book hits fifty reviews, it makes an impact on Amazon’s search algorithm. In short, the more reviews (and the more positive the reviews), the more likely a potential buyer will be shown/recommended said book.
  • You’re also helping your fellow readers—which is why it’s important to be honest when posting a review.

So now you can see why those little yellow stars are so important—and why I’ve decided to make it as easy (and fun!) as possible for anyone who has read Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, or Martyrs and Monsters to compose a short yet oh-so valuable review.

Are you not entertained?

Mad Libs cover

Mad Libs: the epitome of fill-in-the-blank fun!

Just fill in the blanks, “Mad Libs style.” Then copy and paste copiously.

  • After reading (a previous book), I was looking forward to (expectations of this book).
  • If you like (adjective) characters and (adjective) plots, you’ll love this book.
  • This book reminds me (adverb) of (another book/series/author).
  • This book is at its best when (general example).
  • The pace of the story can be described as (adjective).
  • My favorite character is (proper noun) because (reason).
  • This book made me (verb phrase).
  • I can sum up this book in a single word: (adjective or noun).
  • I would (adverb) recommend this book to (noun).
  • I can’t wait to read more books by David Michael Williams (punctuation)

Party over here!

While Amazon is arguably the most important place to post book reviews due to its market share in the U.S. as well as other countries, there are many other places where folks buy books. Below are links to webpages where people can purchase The Renegade Chronicles, and they’re just waiting to be filled up with your brilliant comments:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

Note: you’ll only be able to leave a review at Smashwords if you purchased it via Smashwords.

CreateSpace

At CreateSpace, all you have to do is click the Facebook “like” button!

Goodreads

Are you a member of Goodreads? If so, use these links:

One more thing

If you’ve read any of my books, please, please, PLEASE post a review somewhere…anywhere!

(Told you I wasn’t too proud to beg.)

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It’s a…business!

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, author David Michael Williams brought a new publishing company into the world.

By Claude Covo-Farchi from Paris, France via Wikimedia Commons

  • Name: One Million Words LLC
  • Lengths: great
  • Weight: pretty darn heavy

I’m delighted to report the delivery was quick and painless—less than an hour in an attorney’s office. And yet a lot of labor went into the small business since its conception. From entertaining the idea of entrepreneurship to determining which projects to tackle first to drafting an official business plan, there’s been no shortage of Ts to cross or Is to dot.

Truth be told, the One Million Words “brand” predates any of the aforementioned planning. I’ve been using that name in conjunction with my marketing communications since 2010 and bestowed it upon this very blog in 2012.

Going forward, One Million Words LLC will publish the novels of mine that aren’t picked up by the traditional market, including The Renegade Chronicles, my forthcoming fantasy trilogy.

Sorry to say, I don’t have any “baby pics” to share. However, a logo or wordmark might be appropriate farther down the road.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue working toward my late-March milestone of making Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters available in paperback and digital formats.

Stay tuned for the next big announcement!

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Writers just wanna get lucky

If one believes those crass, comedic movies aimed at teenaged and twenty-something males, the world’s population is divided into two categories: the popular guys who have gone all the way and the lowly virgins who can’t score to save their lives.

The audience follows the reluctant hero as he faces such formidable forces as his own awkwardness and insecurity; hormones; confounding signals sent by the opposite sex, and—always—the disdain of those bigger, stronger, and better-looking “players” who have already rounded home plate.

pen and condom

In case you couldn’t tell, that’s a condom behind the pen, not a packet of Ramen noodle flavoring.

(There’s a metaphor here, so bear with me.)

In those films, a stark line divides pubescent society, separating the men from the boys, the big dawgs from the underdogs, the studs from the duds.

While I’m sure plenty of young men identify with the protagonist—particularly if they belong to that lower, not-yet-blossomed caste—most mature adults just shrug their shoulders and think, “Dude, quit trying so hard.  It’ll happen naturally.”

Bullies and beguiling females aside, more often than not the knight errant (or “knight aberrant,” in the case of the American Pie series) is his own worst enemy. He wants to complete his quest so badly that he’s blind to not only the many faux pas he performs in those ninety-plus minutes, but also to a greater truth that permeates most aspects of life: The journey is as important, if not more important, than the destination.

A similar syndrome can afflict unpublished writers—those literary (if not literal) virgins.

When you’re waiting for approval from an agent, editor or publisher, it’s all too easy to fixate on the difference between those who have “made it” and yourself, an amateur, up-and-coming, not-yet-published, sort-of author who has been waiting for his/her big moment for so long.

Sometimes, we even act like mopey teenagers.

But here’s what I think: We, the unpublished, can be our own worst enemies.  Don’t get me wrong, an aspiring author needs to get his/her crap together.  Proper hygiene in the form of a well-groomed manuscript is important, as is a positive, professional attitude.  An up-and-coming novelist needs to put his/her best foot—and fiction—forward.

Like those pathetic protagonists in the movies, we dabblers battle the insecurities inherent in putting ourselves out there through our work.  Creativity rages through us like hormones, and we can’t help but crave the attention of those we admire.  Not so unlike gossip, there’s no shortage of confusing advice out there.  We read a hundred conflicting how-to articles in search of a surefire way to achieve our shared dream.

I’m no exception.  With a novel up for editorial consideration at a major publisher and a short story I’m shopping around, I oscillate between cautiously confident and incredibly frustrated.  In the past year, I’ve even pouted a bit in this blog (“I should be thankful, but…” “Art vs. entertainment” and “In defense of the dabbler…or…why getting published might not be all it’s cracked up to be”).

In those moments of negativity, exasperation, and loneliness, an undiscovered writer can get a little desperate.  Once upon a time, stooping to a vanity press was about as low as…well…paying for it.  Today, self-publishing in the form of e-books has become commonplace, but even if some are finding a modicum of success in this self-service option, it’s not the “true love” most of us yearn for.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big—except when single-minded obsession makes it seem more like a nightmare.

The problem with tying one’s happiness or self-worth to a manuscript is that a writer can do everything right and still fall short.  Art is subjective, so any given story or style of writing or theme might work for some and not others.  Furthermore, when one or two individuals serve as gatekeepers, it can become a matter of personal preferences.  The right manuscript has to be in front of the right set of eyes at the right time.  Kind of like fate.

See how this starts to sound like a parent giving the “Your time will come” speech?

But the metaphor goes only so far.  Even if kids can be cruel, most successful novelists aren’t looking down their noses at those who have yet to get a book deal.  In fact, the rest of the class isn’t whispering behind your back about how long it’s taking for you to get published.  You’re just being oversensitive and perhaps a little paranoid.

Getting back to that advice for over-enthusiastic virgins: Take a deep breath, stop psyching yourself out, and keep on putting yourself out there.  Because it’s only a matter of time before you get lucky.

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I should be thankful, but…

These are exciting times for writers, I’ve been told.  Often.

Never mind that fewer hardcover and paperback books are being printed and distributed throughout the country.  Even though brick-and-mortar bookstores are going the way of the typewriter, I’ve been assured there’s a bright dawn on the horizon for those who have stories to share with the world.

Thanks to the Internet, e-books and a cornucopia of other online resources, it’s easier than ever for fiction to flow from writer to reader.

The traditional publishing model, if not dying, is being forced to evolve.  And while The Way Things Are shift closer to The Way Things Were, many people are celebrating the fact that electronic formats make self-publishing an option for anyone with a tale to tell.

Consider this excerpt from Social Media Today’s “How Social Media is Changing the Publishing Industry”:

“The days of having a book in your head and never seeing (sic) in print are long gone.  Any writer or author can now bring their (sic) book to life with self-publishing and a viral social media campaign.”

Am I the only one who doesn’t necessarily see this as a good thing?

Let’s start with some of the pros for self-publishing:

1. A self-published author can earn more money per book sold.

2. Social media channels give writers the ability to plug their product 24/7.

3. There’s no editor to say, “No, your work isn’t good enough.”  ANYONE CAN PUBLISH A BOOK!!!

Why wouldn’t previously unpublished novelists be throwing their hats in the air?  No more rejection letters from big, bad publishing companies!  You always suspected the public would rave over your book, and now there’s no hoity-toity, fascist editor to block your progress.

At last, the Internet has made the publishing industry a democracy, where the people can choose what they want to read out of the widest array of possibilities imaginable!

But here’s the thing: Even though the old system was imperfect (as evidenced by the apparent decline of traditional publishers and an ever-decreasing number of new authors sharing shelves with the few big names), I actually liked the idea of having professionals decide which manuscripts get the thumbs up or thumbs down—even if it meant getting rejected.  The bar was set high, and I was happy to have something to work toward.

And because I’m a reader as well as a writer, I like going into a bookstore and knowing that the hard-copy occupants of those many shelves were pre-screened by someone who understood what was likely to be popular and, therefore, enjoyed by one or more target audiences.  I liked the fact that there were bookstores…

Sadly, I see the landscape of e-publishing not as a democracy, but as anarchy.  In an online arena where any word-slinger can make his or her mark on any number of websites, the average reader has to spend as much time dodging egregious affronts to the English language as finding exactly what he or she was looking for.  There used to be a “right way” to get published; now anything goes.

It’s like the Wild West, which was also free-spirited—but ultimately dangerous—place.

So when I hear the occasional success stories of those who have self-published or signed on with one of the many small online presses and made a ton of dough, my inner cynic can’t help but chime in:

1. A self-published author can earn more money per book sold, but there’s no guarantee anyone is going to find or download your book, and the more wannabes who put a 99-cent price tag on their novels—or worse, give it away for free simply because they want readers—the actual value of books go down in the public’s mind.

2. Social media channels give writers the ability to plug their product 24/7, which means that anyone who ever wanted to write the Great American Novel (or yet another Twilight rip-off) is doing the exact same thing, so good luck getting noticed.

3. There’s no editor to say, “No, your work isn’t good enough.”  ANYONE CAN PUBLISH A BOOK!!!  Which means for everyone decent book out there, readers will have to sift through hundreds of horrible manuscripts that shouldn’t have seen the light of day.

Or the glow of an e-reader, for that matter.

The fact that the article excerpt above contained two grammatical errors in the first two sentences only underscores my concern of quantity trumping quality.  Just because anyone can write and publish his or her work in a digital format, it doesn’t mean he or she should.

This Wild West of the written word—while an exciting environment for dabblers; experimenters; and writers who don’t mind making time to be their own editors, publishers, and publicists—presents a more pessimistic scenario for readers, who will have to sift through a lot of worthless rocks to find those sparkling gold nuggets.

And writers those who have the raw talent and the fortitude to hone their craft (and make it darn near perfect before publishing it one way or another) will have to depend a lot on the luck of the draw.

Eventually, however, the Wild West will be tamed, and a status quo will come to the formerly anarchic arena of online publishing.  A just system will emerge to distinguish the true talents from the dreamers.  Hopefully, more authors will find financial success because there will be more opportunities than before the “Gold Rush” and less competition from all the cowboys who thought having Microsoft Word and an idea or two were enough to qualify them as good writers.

So even though I should be thankful to living in a time when, theoretically, I can get my fiction in front of as many readers as possible, I’m far more thankful for the opportunities that remain for selling my manuscript to a traditional publisher and that there’s still a chance I might see one of my novels, as a hardcover or paperback, in an actual bookstore.

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