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/
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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!

Blog Tour: The Sandbox

Blog Tour, Guest Post

The_Sandbox_Cover_for_Kindle.jpgThe Sandbox
by J.W. Patrick
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Release Date: October 2018

Summary:

What would you do? After a mysterious impact in the dry Oklahoma landscape, three teenagers discover a world where they can do anything they want. Anything at all: Play. Explore. Fly. Destroy. But as a ripple of consequences impact on reality, Sonny, Isla and Dan realise this is far from a game. Do they now have the power to change the real world? Because if they do, they know exactly what they want to do first. Dirt-poor Sonny Monroe blames the oil company that fracked his family ranch for his problems. Dan Hawk, a Native American from the Chickatawa tribe, has never forgotten who stole his native Homelands. Idealistic Isla Duncan, a Scottish Paralympian junior on a charity handcycle tour, would just like to make the world a better place. As the three teens attract global enemies and the killings begin, grave doubts divide them: Do they control this new-found power? Or is it controlling them? If so, what on Earth does The Sandbox want?

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Guest Post

Why did JW Patrick write the Sandbox? 

 

I get so frustrated when I encounter people who won’t read amazing books and great authors because they ‘don’t read sci-fi’. So I wrote this YA novel as an attempt at an entry-level sci-fi. Sci-fi lite. Sci-Fi for people that don’t necessarily like sci-fi. Yet still exciting for those who do. Personally  I adore hard sci-fi and space operas, particularly anything by Dan Simmons, Iain M. Banks, Peter Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. The heavier the tome, and the more of ‘em, so much the better. I also wrote this book to keep my 13 year old son off Fortnite 

I also read a lot of history books and find transition periods utterly fascinating. These are those periods when things are changing fast and people don’t necessarily realise that things will never be the same again. As a society, especially in the West, we are so used to assuming things have always been this way because they have been this way for a generation or three. But nothing stays the same. I always admire people who recognise change and embrace it, especially those people who create change.  Change comes about through passion, decision and action. My characters are always passionate. So they make things happen. But things do not always work out as they planned… 

Finally, I always resent stories such as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice where the adult turns up in the nick of time, mistakes are rectified, the world is put back as it was and the character has learned a valuable life lesson. In The Sandbox, the teens have to live with their mistakes, suffer the consequences and no one else ever sorts things out for them! 

 

J.W. Patrick.jpgAbout the Author
JW Patrick lives in Scotland and has written voice-over scripts for television in the UK and USA.

My novels include The Invincibles, The Sandbox

I most recently completed a non-fiction book called Why have Adventures? for parents of young teens exploring the benefits of outdoor education.

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Blog Tour: Kindred

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kindred ebook cover.jpgKindred (The Akasha Series #2)
by Indie Gantz
Genre: YA Scifi Fantasy
Release Date: February 2019

Summary:

In Kindred we find the Damuzi twins settling into their new home with Kori Lark’s family. Desperate to keep the dangerous truth of their identity a secret, Charlie and Tirigan educate themselves on everything that was kept from them, while delving deeper into their mother’s past.

In the future, Tirigan is dealing with the complicated emotions that overwhelm him after the events of Passage. In an attempt to control the situation, Tirigan turns inward and cuts himself off from those who need him most.

By the time Charlie and Tirigan’s timeline’s merge, a burning mystery is solved, and more than one relationship begins to unravel.

Friendship. Trust. Dependency. Lies.

The Damuzi twin’s story continues.

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Previous book in the Series

passage ebook cover.jpgPassage (The Akasha Series #1)by Indie Gantz
Genre: YA Scifi Fantasy
Release Date: March 2018

Summary:

Uncover a Lifetime of Lies in this Fantasy Adventure!

On day one, Charlie Damuzi and her mute twin brother Tirigan are blissfully unaware of the dangerous world they live in. They may be aliens living on Earth after the extinction of humans, but to Charlie, life is pretty mundane.

On day two, the Damuzi family is ripped apart by a family secret that forces the twins to flee the only home they’ve ever known.

Determined to find a way to reunite their family, Charlie and Tirigan travel to uncharted territory in search of their salvation.

But that’s just Charlie’s side of the story.

In the future, forty days from when we first meet the Damuzi twins, Tirigan is on the move. His destination is unknown, as are the people he’s surrounded himself with, but his mission is still the same. Keep his sister safe and reunite their family.

However, as Tirigan attempts to navigate the complex bonds he’s formed with his companions, he’s forced to confront the one thing in life he has yet to fully understand.

Himself.

Family. Deception. Power. Destruction.

It all begins on day one.

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Guest Post.

Finding the right title for your novel and series.

So, you’ve got this idea. You’re terrified, because it feels big and real. It feels like you’re birthing something incredibly unique, and nothing in this world could stop it from happening. So, you sit down and you start to write. You create your characters and you chart your plot and timelines. Your characters surprise you with twists, and the plot transforms brilliantly. Your antagonists evolve into fully-formed people that force you to feel compassion for them, and your protagonists see darkness you never knew was inside of them. You’re doing it. You’re writing a brand new series that you pray people will devour.

But then comes the intimidating realization that you have to market the series. You have to create a brand. How do you do that?

There’s a lot that goes into marketing a new series, but the very first thing you have to do? Create a eye-catching title, for both your series and each individual novel. Finding this isn’t always easy. You can scour your plot for interesting words or overarching themes. You could pull a Rowling and name the series after your main character. You could even study different languages and find a word or phrase that fits your narrative.
That last one is how I chose my series title.

My series is genre-bending, combining Science Fiction and Fantasy elements. Elements being literal, as one of the species in my series has the power to manipulate the four elements. However, the Sci-Fi aspect of my series involves an alien species based on Sumerian history and myths. In combination, these two species create a fifth element. Indian Cosmologist use the word ‘Akasha’ to describe “space” or “the aether,” and Wiccans have adopted this terminology to represent the fifth element. Akasha, or The Spirit Element, is the element from which all creation came. That was perfect for my series, The Akasha Series, for reasons you’ll have to read to find out.

As for the titles of each individual novel, typically the titles are short and engaging. If you’re tacting on your series name after each novel title, you don’t want the individual novel titles to be super long. Each novel title should be just as representative of the novel’s content as the series title is of the whole series. Choose action words, or titles that evoke the kind of emotion readers will find within the novel.

I’ve chosen one word titles for each of the novels in my series. The first book is titled Passage, because the bulk of the novel has the protagonists both literally and figuratively passing through to a new world. The second book in the series is titled Kindred, because it focuses on finding and forming strong family ties. The alternate meaning for the word, ‘similar in kind,’ is also appropriate, as readers are made more aware of the literary mirrors put in place in the second novel. These mirrors are meant to enrich both the character’s relationships and the reader’s relationship with each character.

Choosing a title is a very personal and, at times, frustrating journey, but no matter what complications you encounter on your title choosing adventure, don’t settle. Choose a title that’s bold and full of energy, but make sure it speaks to you.

 

indie gantzAbout the Author
Indie Gantz grew up in Northern Virginia and received her Psychology degree at George Mason University. Despite her passion and curiosity for the human mind, Indie left her chosen field of study to finally give voice to the many imagined minds she has created.
Indie lives with her family in North Carolina. She spends her days drinking tea and clacking keys.

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Blog Tour: Toxic

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toxic coverToxic
by Lydia Kang
Genre: YA Scifi
Release date: November 6th 2018
Entangled Teen

Summary:

Hana isn’t supposed to exist. She’s grown up hidden by her mother in a secret room of the bioship Cyclo until the day her mother is simply gone. Along with the entire crew. Cyclo tells her she was abandoned, but she’s certain her mother wouldn’t leave her there to die. And Hana isn’t ready to die yet—she’s never really gotten to live.

Fenn is supposed to die. He and a crew of hired mercenaries are there to monitor Cyclo as she expires, and the payment for the suicide mission will mean Fenn’s sister is able to live. But when he meets Hana, he’s not sure how to save them both.

Because Hana knows the ship’s secret—and Hana and Fenn falling for each other may be what ultimately kills them.

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lydiakangAbout the Author
Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.


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Giveaway:

A signed copy of TOXIC plus a swag bag, including enamel pin, signed print of a hand painted TOXIC artwork, bookmarks, and signed book plates.

Open in US only (a $20 Amazon e-gift card will be substituted for an international winner)

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Blog Tour: Sunscorched

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Sunscorched Final Cover.jpgSunscorched
by Jen Crane
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Release Date: October 23rd 2018

Summary:

Death in daylight. Danger at dark.

Life can’t possibly get more treacherous than a violent sun allergy in a solar-blighted world. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Nori Chisholm thought before news of an impending sunscorch delivered her death sentence.

Desperate to survive the scorch, she’s forced to shelter underground and discovers a secret subterranean world where life is hard, and so are the people. Betrayed and left for dead by the man who pledged to help her, Nori is sold to a gritty pit fighting ring. There she makes a friend—and plenty of enemies.

Sam Cooper’s motives are at times impenetrable, but speeding through the underground world on the back of his motorcycle is a dark freedom Nori can’t live without. On the run from a group of cutthroat rogues, their escape takes an unexpected twist. A shocking discovery shatters everything they thought they knew. Can they use the knowledge to save what’s left of the world?

Winner of the Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction, Sunscorched is a tale of survival and self-discovery at breakneck speed. Fans of Bella Forrest and Marie Lu, who crave dangerous heroes and dark secrets, will love the Sunscorched world.

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Guest Post

Sunscorched Worldbuilding

I’m a reader first, and a writer second. I love fantasy and sci-fi books that have rich worlds in which I can get lost. I like to build those worlds myself. In fact, I would say it’s my favorite part of writing–the research and world building—though it’s often the toughest work.

In Sunscorched, there’s not only the Surface, which is the gnarled and twisted remains of a once-lush, green planet, but the Subterranean.

The Subterranean is a secret underground world set in motion during the widespread fear surrounding nuclear proliferation in the 1950’s. The Subterranean is gritty and hard—just like its people. Military types and doomsday preppers, religious groups–rebels and rogues of all sorts– roam the Subterranean, where the only form of government is lawlessness.

Nori finds herself in Trogtown, a Subterranean city where homes and storefronts are carved into rock. Tunnels criss-cross the country, giving access to other underground towns. At one point in the book, Nori overnights in a chic cavern lodge. This scene is based on a real place I’ve actually stayed the night in, a luxury lodge/fallout shelter deep inside a mountainside with its own water source.

In Terminal Combustion, Book 2 of the Subterranean series (releasing early December), there’s even more of the wild Subterranean world, and what I imagined a top-secret government facility might look like from the inside.

jen crane.jpgAbout the Author

Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, it’s fantasy and sci-fi that shine Jen Crane’s saddle. Her newest novel, Sunscorched, received the 2017 Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction.

Book 2 in Jen’s fantasy romance series, Descended of Dragons, was selected by iTunes/iBooks as “Our Pick” in fantasy/sci-fi.

Jen has a master’s degree and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. But just in the nick of time she pronounced life *too real* for nonfiction. She now creates endearing characters and alternate realms filled with adventure, magic, and love. She lives in The South with her family and too many pets.

Sign up for sneak peeks, news, and giveaways here.

Follow Jen on FaceBook, InstagramTwitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or Goodreads.

 

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Signed copy and swag Sunscorched hair bands

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Blog Tour: Passage

Blog Tour, Misc.

passage coverPassage (The Akasha Series #1)
by Indie Gantz
Genre: YA Scifi Fantasy
Release Date: March 2018

Summary:


Uncover a Lifetime of Lies in this Fantasy Adventure!

On day one, Charlie Damuzi and her mute twin brother Tirigan are blissfully unaware of the dangerous world they live in. They may be aliens living on Earth after the extinction of humans, but to Charlie, life is pretty mundane.

On day two, the Damuzi family is ripped apart by a family secret that forces the twins to flee the only home they’ve ever known.

Determined to find a way to reunite their family, Charlie and Tirigan travel to uncharted territory in search of their salvation.

But that’s just Charlie’s side of the story.

In the future, forty days from when we first meet the Damuzi twins, Tirigan is on the move. His destination is unknown, as are the people he’s surrounded himself with, but his mission is still the same. Keep his sister safe and reunite their family.

However, as Tirigan attempts to navigate the complex bonds he’s formed with his companions, he’s forced to confront the one thing in life he has yet to fully understand.

Himself.

Family. Deception. Power. Destruction.

It all begins on day one.

Here’s Tirigan’s.

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indie gantz.jpgAbout the Author

Indie Gantz grew up in Northern Virginia and received her Psychology degree at George Mason University. Despite her passion and curiosity for the human mind, Indie left her chosen field of study to finally give voice to the many imagined minds she has created.
Indie lives with her family in North Carolina. She spends her days drinking tea and clacking keys.

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Blog tour schedule here.

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