Guesting for The Fictorians Tomorrow

by martin | One comment | Twitter, Facebook, Google+

Ok, so “guesting” probably isn’t a word, is it?

A few of my fellow Superstars Writing Seminar alumni host a pretty cool blog at They often have a monthly theme for their posts and this month it involves influences on the writing life. What got you started, what keeps you going, that sort of thing. They put out a call a few weeks ago for guests to post about their influences. I was eager to answer the call and was even more excited when my answer was accepted. So tomorrow (Saturday May 11, 2013) I will be posting about one of the influences on my writing life.

Please check it out.

Until next time…

First Month of Azure Keep Quarterly

by martin | No comments | Twitter, Facebook, Google+

It has been one month since the release of the premiere issue of Azure Keep Quarterly and I wanted to share with you the results of the magazine so far.


The first issue contained six stories:

cover1_280x187The pay rate for these stories was about a half cent per word, pretty pathetic for a paying market, but it’s a starting point. And AKQ has actually paid the authors. So the total outlay for the content of the first issue was $107.75 for 21,450 words.

The cover image was purchased from for $5 bringing to total cost for issue 1 (not including my labor) to $112.75. Other than posting on Facebook and Twitter, no marketing was initially done for the launch of Azure Keep Quarterly (I did launch a banner ad campaign a few days ago that I’ll cover once it is complete later this month).


Azure Keep Quarterly was intended to be an online magazine with its main home at This meant I could not opt into the Kindle Select program with Amazon since the magazine would not be exclusive with them. So I made it available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and DriveThruFiction as well. Subscriptions from the magazine’s site are $10 for one-year, while the individual issue on each of those other sites is $2.99.

To date (7 May 2013), sales from each of these venues is as follows:

Total revenues from these sources equals $66.76 so Azure Keep Quarterly is still operating in the red at the moment (-$45.99). Put another way however, the magazine has made back 59% of its outlay. Not too bad for its first month.

Since posting the issue to these sites doesn’t cost anything other than a few minutes of my time, I’m not discouraged by the lack of sales on Kobo and DriveThruFiction. The traffic at the latter seems to be very small in comparison to the others, and Kobo is by far the smallest online bookstore of the big three (Amazon, BN, and Kobo).

Not surprisingly, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have resulted in the majority of sales. The former is probably because of the inclusion of a graphic link to Amazon on the issue’s webpage. I did this purposely to encourage sales on Amazon in order to try to increase the sales rank of the magazine. Perhaps this is a futile effort, but only time will tell.

The second issue is in the works (only room for 2 more stories!) and will probably be released the last week of June. I’m toying with the idea of discounting the first issue to $0.99 once the second is released in order to encourage more sales, but we’ll see what happens when the time comes.

Well there you go. One month in and chugging along. I hope you found this article helpful or at the very least insightful.


Until next time…

The Costs of Self-Publishing

by martin | One comment | Twitter, Facebook, Google+

How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish Your Book?

The short answer is it depends.

kindlesThe long answer is this article (promise to keep it as close to the short answer as possible).

We are going to look at two scenarios for self-publishing your book with the intention of producing something that will look professional and result in sales. Who wants to write something that doesn’t sell? I’m guessing few, if anyone.

Scenario 1

Scenario 1 is the do-it-yourself method; the way many people self-publish their work.  In this scenario, after you write your book, you:

  • Make your own cover (cost $0, just your time)
  • Proofread/edit the book yourself (cost $0, more of your time)
  • Post to KDP, NookPress, Kobo, Smashwords (cost $0, a little more of your time)
  • Market your book on free sites (cost $0, more than a little of your time)

Total Cost = $0 + a lot of your time (that you could spend writing your next book).

Scenario 2

In this scenario, after you write (or better yet, before you finish writing) your book, you:

  • Hire a cover artist (cost from $30 for a pre-made cover to $400+ for a custom cover)
  • Hire an editor (cost from $0.005 to $0.01 per word, or more depending on the quality and type of editing)
  • Post to KDP, NookPress, Kobo, Smashwords (cost $0, a little of your time)
  • Full marketing campaign (cost can range in the hundreds of dollars)

Total Cost = $400 (cover) + $600 (editing for 60K words) + $200 (various marketing methods) = $1,200

So which option is best?

Mike Cooper calculated the average ebook earned $297 in one year. If that is true, then the book in scenario 2 would take 4 years to break even. Most people I know are not patient enough for that.

Not so coincidentally, most people who self-publish opt for scenario 1. They do everything themselves; and it shows. Most self-published ebooks have poor cover designs and suffer from a severe lack of editing. This has led to some of the derision of people towards self-published works. There’s nothing that screams amateur more than an unedited book.

However, there’s no guarantee that the book published in scenario 2 will sell more than the book in scenario 1, but there’s a saying that goes something like this:

If it takes luck to be successful, why not maximize your luck.

That’s what scenario 2 provides, the maximification of your luck (yes, that’s a new word).

The trick is being smart about what you invest into a book versus the expected return. Consider Mike’s calculations about average sales of ebooks and use that data to develop your plan. If the book is likely to sell a handful of copies, then a $500 cover is probably not the best idea (at least at first). Editing can be had for less than the rates above, but the quality of the editing will likely suffer. Again, if the book is likely to only sell a handful of copies, then consider a proofreader at minimum. That form of editing is often less expensive, but will help immensely in the long run. Finally, there’s marketing; ads, free days on Amazon, book reviews, book list sites. There are many, many venues online to promote your book. But not all of them are created equal so you have to spend the time to determine what is the best course of action for you, all while understanding this generally accepted maxim about marketing:

The best marketing for your book is your next book.

Anyway, I hope you gained a greater understanding of what costs are involved with self-publishing. I’ll leave you with this question (come on, I know you have an opinion):

What scenario do you prefer for publishing your work? 1? 2? Something in between?


Until next time…

Repurposing…a.k.a. Finding A New Focus For Your Site

by martin | One comment | Twitter, Facebook, Google+

Sometimes as projects progress, things change. Sometimes for the worse, and sometimes for the better.

This is one of those times.

If you’ve been one of my faithful 3 readers, you’ll probably have noticed there haven’t been any posts in about 9 months. For a blogger, that is the death knell. Game over.

Or is it?

I think it isn’t. It gives one the opportunity to rebrand or repurpose their blog. To change it’s focus and direction. To start anew.

How Do You Repurpose Your Site?

If you’re looking to start fresh and create a new focus for your site, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Why are you changing the site? Is it because you’ve grown bored with the subject matter? Or perhaps you’ve just been derailed by other projects? It’s important to become clear about what your intentions are for the site, and commit to those intentions (something I’ve never been good at).
  2. Should you delete all old content? The answer to this depends on whether that content is still pertinent to the new focus/theme of the site. If it is, then it’s okay to leave it, especially if the content is plentiful and well indexed by search engines and linked to by many other sites. Deleting this content can negatively affect your rankings in the search engines. Why word harder to develop attention when you already have some?
  3. Should you change the site’s appearance/theme? Again, this comes down to how the new site’s message compares to the old one. Is the site content and target market drastically different? If so, you may want to consider changing the site’s look to something more appropriate to those aspects. Even if you are merely restarting an old site with the same message and content as before, you may want to consider a new paint job, just to show the change. Everybody likes a new paint job.

What Does This Mean For

Good question. The first part is a commitment from me. To post regularly. My intention is to focus on sharing the adventures I have in building a writing business, hence the new subtitle for the blog. I recently started an online fiction magazine, Azure Keep Quarterly, and will be posting behind the scenes articles here about the journey in developing that site. Eventually I plan on expanding the magazine, and my writing business, to incorporate a full-fledged publishing house called Azure Keep. Currently I have two books in progress for that site (a fantasy novel and a motivational book) and will be producing an anthology of the best stories of the year from the magazine.

Anyway, I hope you stay with me on this journey and share in the experience. Thank you.

– Martin


Until next time…

Worldbuilding Disease: How to Inoculate Yourself

by martin | 4 comments | Twitter, Facebook, Google+

When is enough enough?

When do you stop worldbuilding to work on whatever it is you are actually building the world for? This can be a serious problem, especially if you are using the top-down method of worldbuilding. If you’re a writer, excessive worldbuilding can prevent you from doing any actual writing. If you’re a roleplayer, you may never do an actual playing.

This tendency for worldbuilding taking priority over your primary project is called Wordlbuilding Disease (well, that’s what Brandon Sanderson calls it). Check out Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 1. Writing Excuses is a 15 minute podcast that features Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. In that episode they discuss this very topic.

Benjamin Rose also wrote about the problem in his blog post World Building: Disease or Cure?

How do you avoid Worldbuilding Disease?

Determine the scope of your primary project – if it is short, then you may want to consider limiting the world building to only those elements that pertain directly to the story. Develop a plan of what you actually need to create for your world based on this scope. For example, if your story only takes place in one city, don’t spend too much time on developing other cities unless they play a key role in the story. Even then, you don’t want to detail them as much as your main location.

Keep your worldbuilding organized – if your worldbuilding notes are a mess, they won’t be of much use when you try to incorporate them into your project. Some people recommend using a notebook tabbed for each topic. You can do the same thing with folders if your worldbuilding notes are kept on a computer.

Take a break – it might be a good idea to take a break from worldbuilding every so often to evaluate your priorities and progress or to work on your project. Take a walk, read a book, write something else, play a game; all of these are good ways to take a break from worldbuilding. Breaks are also a good way to rejuvenate your creative juices if you find your ideas stagnant.


I know from personal experience that worldbuilding disease can kill whatever you are working on. When I was a teen, I drew maps, I created languages, I made up characters, but I never actually wrote anything. I was too busy building the world my stories would take place in that I never actually got around to writing those stories.

Hopefully I’ve become more wise since then.

How do you keep yourself from working too much on your world and not enough on your story?

Until next time…


Photo Credit: La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona by kevinpoh