Guest Post: “Self-Publishing: How I Came Full Circle” by Elana A. Mugdan

Guest Post, Writing

Author Elana A. Mugdan picture.jpgMeet Elana A. Mugdan.

Elana A. Mugdan is an author and semi-retired filmmaker based in New York City. She has received many accolades in the film industry, including a number of awards for her feature film Director’s Cut, which she wrote, directed, and produced by herself. Currently she is working with a production company in California which has optioned her newest screenplay, a sci-fi action triller called Paradox.

In 2016, Elana’s debut novel, Dragon Speaker, was published in the U.K. Dragon Speaker has enjoyed critical acclaim, and is the first in a 5-book Young Adult epic fantasy series entitled The Shadow War Saga. The second installment, Dragon Child, will be published worldwide in May of 2019. She is currently doing her final round of revisions on book three, Dragon Blood, which has a projected release date of March 2020.

An avid reader, Elana is a lifelong fan of fantasy stories – particularly ones which revolve around dragons. She is described by her friends and family as “the weirdest person I know”, and wears that weirdness proudly on her sleeve. Some of her favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkein, Peter S. Beagle, and Robert Jordan.

Elana currently resides in New York, living a quiet but eccentric life with her adopted pet snake, Medusa.

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ShadowWarSaga/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/dragonspleen
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/officialdragonspeaker/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42967730-dragon-speaker
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Speaker-Shadow-War-Saga/dp/1532387938/

Dragon Speaker Cover - Web.png

The Guest Post.

Self-Publishing: How I Came Full Circle

Back in 2015, when I had just put the final-FINAL-really-final-for-real touches on my manuscript, I decided I would go the self-publishing route. I’d spent a couple years in the query trenches and I hadn’t gotten any good bites. The few nibbles I had gotten hadn’t panned out, and I was tired of waiting. Self-publishing, I reasoned, would ensure that my book would get out into the world and be found by readers near and far.

This was a terrible idea for a whole host of reasons, the main two being that (a) I am not good at marketing, and (b) I am not good at socializing. But hey, I had a Facebook account and that should be enough! Surely the book would sell itself, right? All I’d have to do would be to throw up a link to the thing on Amazon and people would flock to it.

Oh, how naïve 2015-me was.

Fortunately, I was saved from the agony of self-publishing just in the nick of time. Shortly after I came up with my brilliantly bad idea, I linked up with a small press publisher based in the U.K. He loved my book, and in 2016, he published my debut novel, Dragon Speaker, Book I of The Shadow War Saga. My publisher and I worked closely together for the next two years, organizing reading events across England, recording an audiobook, and preparing for the release of the remaining books in the series.

But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men will often go awry. Despite my publisher’s best efforts, he wasn’t able to bring the book out in America (he only had the rights to publish in the U.K.), and we also failed to achieve a release of the second book in the series. 2018 was fraught with roadblocks and disappointments, and I learned a series of hard life lessons.

But not all was lost. I remembered that I’d once thought it a good idea to self-publish, and I decided to revisit that concept. I’d learned a lot over the two years I’d spent in the world of traditional publishing. More importantly, I’d gotten an inside look into the world of marketing, and I now had a much better understanding of how to make that process work for me . . . and how much work I’d actually have to put in if I wanted to see tangible results.

Thus, I began my research. A big step forward was attending the annual Writer’s Digest conference, last year hosted in my hometown of New York City. There I connected with IngramSpark – a printing company only slightly more expensive than Amazon’s CreateSpace, which offers comparable quality and is infinitely better to deal with. Through IngramSpark, I self-published Dragon Speaker in America and worldwide last October. Finally, my book was available to all audiences!

Also during the Writer’s Digest conference, I linked up with a company called DartFrog, which is a purveyor of “outstanding independent books and talent”. Since they were also experts in marketing, and marketing was my major weakness, I figured it would be a good idea to work with them. Through them I was able to gain additional exposure for my book and my brand. Not only that, DartFrog helped place Dragon Speaker in 50 brick-and-mortar independent bookstores nationwide.

I have now gotten in touch with many of those stores, and have been cultivating my relationships with them – something that has been difficult, but very rewarding, and undeniably invaluable to my progress. I’m pleased to report that I single-handedly organized a book tour spanning from January to May. I’ll be stopping at The Next Chapter Books & Novelties (El Dorado, KS), The Book Rack (Cincinnati, OH), A Freethinker’s Corner (Dover, NH), and Cupboard Maker Books (Enola, PA), which are just a few of the DartFrog stores currently stocking Dragon Speaker.

On the surface, it seems like things are going swimmingly. Compared to last year, they are. But I know the road is long and the war will be bloody. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I will need to market (shudder) and communicate with people (oh, the horror!) if I want to continue gaining momentum. And while self-publishing has certainly had its downsides, it has its perks, too. The best thing about self-publishing is that you are your own boss. Your fate is entirely in your own hands. You’re on no one’s schedule but your own, and that gives you the most wonderful sense of freedom. It creates a lot of anxiety and stress, too, but personally I think the trade-off is worth it.

You must be prepared to work harder that you ever have before. Your success – or failure – is riding on  it, after all. But if you go into the process knowing that, then you stand a fighting chance. 2015-me was not prepared to make this journey, and she would never have survived it. I’m not sure present-day-me is adequately equipped for the cutthroat world of marketing, but she’s doing a damn fine job pretending she is.

Despite the anxiety, the sleepless nights, and the crash course in marketing that I never wanted, I’ve ultimately enjoyed this process. I’ve learned many useful skills along the way – by necessity rather than choice – but I believe the hard work has made me stronger. While it’s still difficult to tell if any of my efforts have improved visibility for the book, I can say without hesitation that they have improved me as a person. I am older, stronger, a little wiser, a lot tired-er, but unarguably better.

And that has made it all worthwhile.

 

Thank you Elana for sharing your journey with us!

A Skin of a Dragon Blitz

Blog Blitz

A Skin of a Dragon

by Frances Jones

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release date: March 17th 2018



Summary:
After a chance find in a smugglers’ cave, Tom Wild is kidnapped by a stranger and whisked away to London to face a secretive and ancient group of magicians. He is presented with an agonising choice: join them and forsake his old life and family forever or face a grisly death. Tom quickly realises that all is not as it seems and that the group’s leader is engaged in a dangerous game of magic, power and war. At stake is the future of England, her King, and the very existence of magic.

 
Buy on Amazon! 
 
 
Excerpt
Chapter 1 
My mother believed I possessed the gift of foresight. I was born at the stroke of midnight under a full moon, a curious time bestowing special abilities upon newborns, or so the midwife assured my parents. Yet, despite my mother’s belief, I had no sense of the shift my life was poised to take one rainy day in mid-September 1648 as I peered into a rock pool in search of crabs. 
I wrinkled my nose and dangled my line into the water. The grey sea sloshed around the rock on which I stood, met by the rainwater that trickled down in rivulets from the cliffs above. Summer wasn’t yet a distant memory, but the storm of the previous day had been a sharp reminder that autumn had arrived. Peggy, my wiry-haired mongrel, watched the gulls scavenging amongst the rocks but had yet to summon the energy to chase them. Beside me my sister, Lizzie, shivered and looked forlornly back to the beach. 
‘To think the fields were ploughed but a fortnight ago,’ she muttered. 
I felt a tug on my line and lifted an enormous crab out of the rock pool, but Lizzie was distracted. She glanced up at the sky as a finger of sunlight broke through the clouds overhead.  
Zooks! Look at the sun, Tom! Mother will be starting supper.’ She grabbed her bucket of crabs and scrambled back across the rocks. ‘Don’t forget the tobacco for Father,’ she called over her shoulder as she crossed the beach towards the lights that were beginning to twinkle in the windows of the cottages that made up the tiny hamlet of Osmington Mills.   
I replied with a wave as I set my bucket on a ledge out of the wind and began the slippery climb to the smugglers’ cave. It was a precarious route in wet weather, with fissures into which one could quite easily slip and become stuck, but in an hour’s time the tide would be in, cutting the cave off from the beach entirely.  
The rocks were slick beneath my feet, and the drizzling rain soaked right through to my skin as I clambered from one to the next. This exposure to every extreme of weather that the Dorset coast endured had weathered my complexion into a freckled ruddiness. My usual mop of sandy curls now lay plastered against my forehead, and my eyes squinted against the rainwater that dripped from my brow. 
As I set my feet on sand once more, I stooped to pick up a small wooden box nestled between two rocks at the mouth of the cave. It was perfectly plain, cylindrical in shape, with an elaborate lock formed of tiny brass cogs, dials and pulleys, some of which were clearly missing or broken. I looked back to the beach. Only the smugglers ever came here. Perhaps it belonged to one of them- except that all the smugglers in Osmington Mills were far too careful to leave anything out in the open. There were crevices and tunnels that wound right into the heart of the cliffs where contraband was cleverly concealed from the prying eyes of the customs men. There was no need to leave anything in plain sight. Besides, the little drift of sand piled up against the box seemed to indicate it had been deposited there by the sea. 
‘I bet it’s from that shipwreck yesterday,’ I muttered to Peggy as I tucked it under my arm and ducked into the cave. The entrance was just a few feet in height and submerged at high tide, but inside it widened and rose steadily above the tide’s reach, opening out into several passageways and crevices scooped out by the sea in ancient times. It was a perfect smugglers’ cave. 
I selected one pack of tobacco from a pile of goods stuffed into a cleft in the wall and tucked it into my belt. With the crabbing line, I lashed the box to my back. I would need both hands to scale the rocks back to the beach. 
Outside, the wind had picked up, and the drizzle was replaced with great spots of rain. Across the beach, a flicker of firelight glowed in the mouth of another smaller cave beyond a rocky outcrop.  
‘Tis a fool who ventures out with a storm about to break,’ I thought to myself. 
Thunder rumbled overhead, and the foamy white tips of the waves collapsed against the rocks with an intensity that had become a familiar sight over the past week. The few fishing boats that had braved the rain were now gone, safely moored in the harbour. Everyone was braced for another mighty storm. 
 

About the Author

Frances lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and two pet rabbits. She started writing to fill her evenings while her husband, a former Grenadier Guard in the British Army, was away. A Skin of a Dragon was inspired by the Tower of London ravens which her husband told her about after one of his guard duties at the Tower. Folklore and the history of magic are also a continual source of inspiration.

Aside from writing, Frances’ other passion is rabbits, and she spends far too much time watching videos of the furry critters online!

Author Links:
  


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Dragon Raider Blitz

Blog Blitz, Misc.

Dragon Raider

by Ava Richardson

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: March 28th 2018

Summary:

Will adapting to a changing world make one young woman lose touch with where she came from?

Far from the kingdom of Torvald, on the Western Isles near the coast, Sea Dragons rule the skies. Lila is the daughter of the Raider leader, destined to take his place one day aboard their plundering ships. Her people value only what shiny trinkets they can get their hands on, but she aspires to much more than that: Lila wants the Raiders to become Dragon Mercenaries, dragon riders who help protect merchant fleets and navies from attack. Her father Kasian is skeptical, but a young monk named Danu—with a quest of his own—comes bearing a prophecy claiming that Lila is the lost heir of Roskilde, a born Dragon Rider.
With Danu’s guidance, Lila finds the unruly dragon she’s destined to bond with—but the mismatched pair soon learn that much more than just their futures is at stake.
Buy Links: 
Amazon US -> http://amzn.to/2HtaG4x  
Amazon UK -> http://amzn.to/2p622kK 
 
EXCERPT
Churning seas, bright with blood.
Fire billowing over the water, and dark skies heavy with thunder…
“Aii!” The old woman awakes with a start to find herself in her simple round room in her simple round hut. The inner walls are dark, though she knows with the dawn the plaster will gleam white. The floor is yet the solid, deep mahogany planks she has trod fordecades. The roof is still the weathered,bone-white but also bone-strong giant supports of giant driftwood, with heavy, warm thatch over that. Here are not the churning and frothing waters of her dreams. Not the billows of fire, not
the dark storm skies.
The old woman sighs deeply, patting her frail chest as if to quiet the night terrors that had so recently fluttered there.
To say that this woman is old is an understatement. Chabon Kaidence is beyond ancient. Her pale skin is deeply lined as if cracked, and her eyes are sunken – but there is still a spark of vitality within their depths, like hidden stars. Even the folds and wrinkles of her skin still glows despite its age.
The Matriarch of the West Witches has been alive for a long time, long enough to know when a dream has stopped being just that, and has instead, become a prophecy.
A pale hand moves unsteadily to the wicker table, where a silver bell sits on piece of rough-woven, colorful fabric. She rings it, once, for the silver chime to cut through the night like
a shooting star.
“Mother?” A voice sounds almost immediately at the heavy purple curtains that hang over her door, and, for a moment Chabon blinks from the glare of brighter light outside.
“You fool!” snaps another voice behind the first, and into her room step two women: one is tall and lean, with skin the color of rich, warm earth, and the other is as pale as Chabon lying before them. The first has braids of black hair falling behind her back liketree roots, whereas the pale woman has fields of golden hair streaming behind her like sunshine. It is this fair and pale woman who snaps at her darker
colleague.
“Afar, you’ll blind the Mother. Turn off that light!” she says angrily, pushing her way into the room to cross the mahogany floor and stand at Chabon’s bedside.
Afar scowls for a moment, but she does as she is advised, turning the notches on the lantern until it only emits a dulled, yellowish glow as she steps into the room. Behind her, the Matriarch catches a glimpse of the wooden walkways that stretch from one hut to the next, crisscrossing the island of Sebol like vines.
“I am blinded by the darkness, Ohotto, not the light,” Chabon breathes to her two most-trusted sisters amongst the witches.
“Yes, Mother.” Ohotto hangs her pale head in shame, as Afar steps to her bedside bringing with her a pouch of rich and nourishing purple berry juice.
“Are you thirsty, Mother? Do your aches pain you?” Afar says in her heavy voice. She is not a native to these Western Islands, but she has spent many years here, under Chabon’s tutelage.
“No time to drink. I will repeat a dream for you, a nightmare – and I want you both to remember it, and to set it down on paper as soon as you can,” Chabon says. “It is a nightmare that I have had many times over the years, but now it comes frequently, every moon! Every week!”
“A prophecy.” Afar nods her head in awe. This will not be the first such prophecy that has fallen from the oldest witch’s lips. Afar Nguoa just hopes that it is also not the last.
“The seas are churning, bright with blood, and atop the waves there are flames,” Chabon intones, her voice carrying in the still airs of her hut. “There is a darkness to the skies, a darkness that is more than thunder, but a darkness as if the sun is blocked by great wings….” The old woman wets her lips, remembering the other parts of the nightmare that she has had throughout her life. Like the stationary stars in the sky can suddenly coalesce into a constellation when one squints at them right, so the nightmares fall into place, one after another.

“There is a child, born from the waters. A girl, rising from the north-east sea, under a dragon’s angry call and upon her head is a crown made of leaping waves.”
About the Author:
Ava Richardson writes epic page-turning Young Adult Fantasy books. She creates lovable characters and drops them into intricate worlds that are barely contained within your eReader. Her current work is the ‘Return of the Darkening Series’, which features Seb, Thea and their shared dragon, Kalax.
She grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and science fiction books handed down from her two big brothers – and despite being dog-eared and missing pages, she loved escaping into the magical worlds that those authors created. Her favorites were the ones about dragons; where they’d swoop, dive and soar through the skies of these enchanted lands.


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THE DRAGONS OF NOVA Cover Reveal

Blog Blitz, Cover Reveal
Today Elise Kova and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for THE DRAGONS OF NOVA, which releases July 11, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win assigned ARC of the book!!
 
On to the reveal! 
 
 
Title: THE DRAGONS OF NOVA (Loom Saga #2)
Author: Elise Kova
Pub. Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 488
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads
Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust — hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything — and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her
campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals
something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.
 
While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills — and quick-shooting accuracy — makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance
against the Dragons.
 
Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.
 
Exclusive Excerpt!
“They’re coming from the front!” Nora screamed over the crescendo of the engine gaining speed. On cue, the train lurched as an endwig was splattered to a bloody mess on the point of the engine’s pilot.
 
“Bloody cogs,” Florence cursed. The Vicar Alchemist had sent her to protect the mission as the Revolver, but one of her wasn’t going to be enough. “I’m going to the engine.”
 
“What are we going to do?” The usually self-sure Nora had the face of a cornered hare.
 
“You’re going to fight.” Florence passed her a weapon.
 
“I’ve never shot a gun before.”
 
“Now is a great time to learn.”
 
“I’m an Alchemist!”
 
Seriously, Florence was a breath away from shooting the woman herself. “You’re dead if you don’t adapt! There’s three more bombs exactly like the ones you just used, right there. Just fend them off until the train gets up to speed. But don’t use any other disks.”
 
Florence had no more time to waste as the train lurched again. They just had to survive until the train reached full speed. For all the endwig were, they certainly couldn’t keep up with a locomotive.
 
She hoped.
 
The wind whipped her hair around her face as she stuck her head from the train car. Florence reached out for the ladder to the right of the door, scaling up before another endwig could emerge. She swung up just in time as an explosion nearly blew her foot clean off.
 
“By the five guilds, you two only had three bombs!” she screamed over the wind, not knowing if they could hear. “Ration them a bit!”
 
Standing, Florence looked in horror at the tracks ahead. Dozens of endwig lined the path, running eagerly to meet the train. She loaded six canisters at once.
 
Jumping to the tender, Florence lost her footing atop the moving train car. A nail snapped clean off as she sought a grip that would prevent her from being thrown to certain death. If she fell now, she would never get back on the vessel. She’d be torn limb from limb.
 
Gritting her teeth, Florence rose to her knees, shooting two endwig in the process. She wedged herself between two grooves on the top of the tender. Blood pooled around her shins as she dug them into the metal for a grip where there was none, but she was stable enough to take aim, and that meant she could open fire.
 
Five shots down, and Florence reloaded her gun. Endwig came relentlessly like a never-ending nightmare. But the train didn’t gain any more speed. She repeated the process, waiting for the vessel to be like her bullets, whizzing through the night at deadly speeds.
 
“Anders, now would be a great time to open her up!” she screamed.
 
There was no reply.
 
“Anders, Rotus, we need speed, get us out of here faster!”
 
Five long claws curled around the door of the engine in answer. Florence watched in horror as the white silhouette of an endwig, dotted in the black blood of a Chimera, pulled itself from the engine room. Florence swallowed hard.
 
They were without Rivet and Raven, stumbling through the darkness, enemies at all sides. She raised her gun slowly, looking fearlessly at the face of death itself. Her revolver was steady over the rocking of the train.
 
“You think I’m not used to this?” Her mouth curled into a mad grin. “I’ve been fighting my way out of the darkness my whole life. And you’re not going to stop me now.”
 
Gunshots echoed through the forest.
About Elise: 
Elise Kova has always had a profound
love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world
long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before
crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next
magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is
not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with
readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air
Awakens Series as well as the Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Giveaway Details:
(1) winner will receive a signed advanced readers copy of THE DRAGONS OF NOVA.

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