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Oct Update + Short Story

Hola mi amigos!
Word count: 75438 (9395 more since last post.)
Progression: Posted up to chapter 15 of an estimated 39; working on chapter 16.

It has been too long since I have posted. I am really horrible about keeping a writing journal/blog thingy. Lots of new stuff has been happening. First and foremost, some slightly depressing stuff.

Nadine Hanuska – I love and miss you terribly. I am extremely sorry that I missed out on the last 13+ years of your life. I was a horrible granddaughter in your remaining years, but, at the same time, I am glad I have only happy memories, and not the ones where you were not yourself. You always made sure I had as much mashed potatoes as I could handle – which was entirely too much – and you introduced me to the game called dots (terribly poor taste to keep a young child up till the wee hours of the night playing such an addictive game) and whenever possible, you always broke the wishbone of the turkey with me. I miss you and your tea… sweet and southern.
I miss your face, your laugh, and your ability to keep this rag tag, huge family together. I love you.

There, now that I am all crying and upset, I can try to see through the tears to write the rest of this.

Back to my writing progress. Depending on how I look at things, I am about halfway through! I say depending on how you look at things cause who the heck knows just how far I really am until I am done.

Speaking of which, since the last post I have been able to nail down my chapter outlines along with tentative word count goals. Right now the estimate is 162338 words to end the first book. I know, weird number, but I counted the chapters I have already written. Yeah, yeah, they will be edited so who knows just how much I really have to go here.

I will say it has been amazingly helpful to get the outline redone. I started with some vague ideas a number of years ago, morphed into a general outline about a year ago, and have completely rewritten that because I realized there was just too much I wanted in the first book. Well, unless I wanted to get up to 400k+.

For anyone that really wants to know how I did this, I put together that board I discussed before, which helped me figure out that I had too much slated. Then I decided to put it all together in an excel sheet with a bunch of stuff like word count expectations, summaries, Lenaeu vs Earth time lines (keeping track of the time difference is crazy hard) and a general idea of what will go into the rest of the books.

I still have so much to do… As you know – I think – my magic system is based upon Astrology and Elements, which causes a lot of rigid structure I have to follow. I can’t have someone that is a Water sign magically have crazy amounts of Earth element to play with. If you don’t know the rules, don’t worry, I shall explain.

(Astrologers, close your eyes and skip this to prevent a serious need to attack me for my lack of knowledge)

Each astrological sign has an element that is their “main”. Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Each sign has something called a ‘detriment’ – opposite sign. An example –  Main = Water (Pisces); Detriment = Earth (Virgo). So then if the Main is Air, their detriment is Fire. This means that someone with Water is exceptionally skilled with that element, about half as skilled with Air and Fire, and very, very, very unskilled in Earth (detriment).

All of that I have to remember with each character and assign them a birth sign. For now, the only two that have one are my main characters – Ayli (not yet in the book) and Ama. The rest, I am simply assigning an element to until I feel like nailing down a birthday.

Ah, I did forget, there is one group of people that are a caveat.

I wrote a short story on them and they are called the Overlaps or the Seacht Laethanta – Seven Days in Gaelic. Basically, there are 7 days (October 24th-30th) in which all three of the astrological groups have either an Air, Water or Earth sign. The reason why this is important is that it allows for these people to wield all 4 elements without a detriment. Since Fire is only a detriment to one of them, and not all, it cannot be a ‘full time’ one. (They are my magic rules so whatever)

I could go on but I won’t… for now.

So, that was a very long winded progression discussion. But it does go to show just how many hours worth of work I’ve had to do here. Many different spreadsheets, hundreds of research hours into astrology and many more hours daydreaming of possibilities.

I will say the Seacht are a wonderful find that I was not planning on. This has allowed for one of my characters – Dara – to fit her role more perfectly.

Moving on, it is about that time of the year where I find myself writing more. It is something about the fall – I love it and it loves me. The writing me anyways. I have written a short story that I have posted below, and I have great plans to write a ton of stuff over the next month or so. Hopefully I will be 3/4 to 4/5 of the way through by the end of November.

(This is anywhere from 46K to 56K words – fun stuff)

Anywho… below is my short story, I hope you all enjoy!

PS. I didn’t cuss once in this post! Fuck!

Chandra and Adam

I used to live my life by the cycles surrounding her. The way her once animated, beautiful, and adoring face could give me almost violent shudders of anticipation, was both the cause and the effect of my everything.

One day, we would be blistering in our closeness, our unbridled love, out of control and reckless. The next, she would be cold and distant. Now all I saw was her suspended, hauntingly pale, and lifeless. But I still felt thrills of excitement… some days, at least. For even in death she was the most beautiful thing I have ever beheld.

On rare nights, as I lay gazing at the stars, I would only see her shadow. It was a giant dark hole where my heart once dwelled. Those were the good nights, in a sense. At least they were less painful than the ones where I caught slivers of her face; her pale dead skin gleaming in the harsh light. Yet they held nothing in comparison to the nights when I saw her fully, a poor imitation her once glory. Mercifully, they were short lived.

I could look back to when we first met with fondness; at least that was not taken from me. Although, it is a bitter memory, I could enjoy it. 

I was minding my own business, busy with my normal cyclical routine, but completely bored. Out of the darkness, blinding me with her beauty, I saw her heading my way. I thought nothing of it, assuming she would pass and ignore me like everyone else. 

But she didn’t. 

She wasn’t looking where she was going, typical behavior I came to find, and ran full force into me. I tilted but stayed steady. I reached out to her to save her from falling, being the polite gentleman I am, while her water drenched me. It saturated my muddy colored clothes and instantly cooled me in the summer heat. 

We both laughed after the initial shocks wore off. Her body quivered as she fought her giggles, pleasingly distracting me. Then, her pale blue eyes met my hazel. It was as if the universe stopped and we realized, in this embarrassing encounter surrounded by strangers, that no force could ever be stronger. No one would measure up to this instant bond. No one could ever be anything more than the background to our story. No one could be more perfect.

It seemed as though our gazes never separated afterwards.

Our love was a firestorm for no amount of water would quench our thirst. We blazed across time, ignoring or conquering everything in our way. 

Eventually our relationship cooled, but it did not diminish. Rather, we were symbiotic, matured. 

If I had known how it would have ended, I would have changed nothing. Yet, to be without her for so long, to have lost my best friend, my life, my soul… no torture could be more absolute.
But, after this eternity apart, I had hope. Our children have grown, matured and blossomed. They are fighting for all of our lives.

I had almost given up, and they had nearly destroyed me in their adolescence. But now… they travel to her pale, gaunt face, and I can already see a shimmer, a faint glint of her once endless blue eyes forming.

You see, I made a plan; one that would return her to me. For thousands of years I have cared for, nurtured, and evolved our offspring. Gently I have nudged them, given them guidance, and shown them how to leave me, to go out on their own. But, their first stop would be with her – to breathe life into her lunar husk.
Just as they are restoring her, so too, are they rebuilding my forests, my waters. The water she inadvertently spilt upon me that fateful day.

Soon, I will be able to bask in her presence once more, our worlds forever held in this orbit. The Earth and Moon shall be together again in this sea of stars.

© Copyright 2016 Kristol Hannah

Tidbit of nothing

Wazzup peeps… long time no write.
Word count: 66043 (6368 more since last post. Totally missed all my targets…)
Progression: Just ‘finalized’ the draft of chapter 13, almost 1K words on ch 14.

I just came through a terrible bout of writer’s block. I won’t bore you with the details. But that is why I have not done anything for 2 months. It wasn’t pretty…

So not a lot of new stuff to talk about… except my wall. If I didn’t mention it here before, I have on facebook or twitter, but I made a giant story arc wall a few months ago. It wasn’t very well put together (the wall not the story arc) but I am in the midst of redoing it.

I originally wanted to do it as a time line, with dates and, well, to be honest, a massive headache of Earth vs Lenaeu hours. Fuck that. It did help, but it hindered more than anything else. So I went to Lowe’s and Home Depot and got some stuff. Not the stuff I really wanted though.

So I got some insulation sheets about half an inch or so thick. I got two of them, 4ft x 8 ft each, and a shit ton of the sticky gel tape stuff, and some wall hanger thingys… This probably isn’t making sense, hence the pictures below.

Anywho, those sheets only cost me like 7 or 8 each. I really wanted the floor insulation which already had grids on it, but that shit would have been like $100 or so. What cost the most was the command strips (like $20 worth) and a roll of paper from office depot or staples that was like $10 but I only used like a quarter of it.

After multiple failed measuring attempts, I finally figured out how I wanted it to look and put up the insulation and paper about a week ago. Last night I got around to drawing some lines on the paper – you can’t see them in the pictures very well – which will eventually be darker. I also put up my outline – 17 characters (column), 1 exposition block (would have been more but I have already written those chapters and I am 99% confident I am done with this besides editing), 16 rising action columns, 1 climax column, and 1 falling action. You can’t see the climax or falling actions in the pic – I cut off my dirty mess over there cause, well, internet.

*WARNING* If you are reading my novel, DO NOT ZOOM! I tried to make it blurry, but you could still see a spoiler on the character names.
 I intentionally have it over the light switches, so don’t think I am a complete idiot. That section is Leah (below) and Ama (above) and since they have so many things, I wanted to have more room for putting up cards.

In the 2nd pic you can see the command strip thingy. There are a shit ton more just sticky things holding up the sheets, these were just placed around the edges to keep it stable.

So I might have less rising and more falling actions, but it is an easy fix.

Side note, the index cards and push pins will probably set me back another $20 when all is said and done. I think it would have cost me about $80 – I don’t rightly know because can’t find all the receipts and I already had the index cards and some push pins.

So why did I do this? To have a hands on experience. I use Scrivener, and it is great, but I wanted something in this specific format to see the progression. I guess it just shows how much I really do have a love/hate relationship with excel since I basically made a giant spreadsheet on my wall.

Well, just wanted to post this little tidbit of nothing. Hope you enjoy the pic’s at least!


Unplanned rant on planning

Hello wonderful world of folks that haven’t heard from me in over a month!
Word count: 59675 (10132 more since last post. Target of 59637 for 4/17 or… this week goal of 64637 – yes I am slacking this week)
Progression: On chapter 13… posted Ama in the new world and now need to write Leah.
I have revised my goals for writing since I last posted. I had originally reset them to 2K, but I did the math (yeah I am a business analyst so I always look for efficiencies and target dates) and I need to write 5K words a week to end at 150(ish)K words by September.
Why September? Well I figure that it will take me a good month to do my first revision, then a second for my next (hopefully final) revision. This will allow me to send for submissions to Tor and DAW in Nov maybe Dec.
Wait, I thought you were going to self publish? Yes, well… I decided I at least want to see what publisher’s think. Even if I do not go with them.
Also, I will have to rewrite dates in my book to match whatever year it is when I actually do go to publish. As it stands, I will need to rewrite it already as I am going to be a year behind.
I also figure I might get up to 200K words for the book, which will mean November is when I stop writing. That will push by my submission/publishing time line, and hence my book’s, as well.
All of that being said, now we get to my post/rant. First, I want to congratulate my brother on his first book – no it is not fiction, unless you think coding (or whatever it is called) for Cisco is fictional. Congrats Alex! I am truly happy for you and wish you the best in life.
Second, my mom found my blog. So, I really was going to tell her about it, I know she doesn’t believe me, but I am shy – which she should fully know – and very… introverted. I wanted to surprise her with at least my first draft, my blog being a lot more read than it is currently, and maybe some fancy website. Fat luck. My mom google’d me. And now she can see just how much I cuss. Which is actually a lot less on this blog than in real life.
I can still remember the first few times I cussed around her, as an adult. It was quite awkward.
Third, my idiot brother, the younger one, decided it would be a good idea to do some really stupid ass shit. Needless to say, I was a wreck for a week – I can’t even imagine what my mom was going through – and his little punk ass is fine… thankfully. Do not get me wrong, I love him, even if I haven’t seen him in years, but when I see him again, I am likely to hit him. I am about 2K miles away, and had no means to fly out to be with him. I was very afraid he would die before I actually got to see him again.
Enough sadness. I will get to a point here.
To anyone that is starting out writing, or just wants to hear some writing advice, start reading here.
Planning. It sucks, it is tedious, and boring (sometimes). But it is absolutely necessary, and it will likely get thrown out the window as you start writing. I had an original idea of how my books would flow, but now? Yeah, well let’s just say that my plan was that the first 3 chapters would be the set up, and chapter 4 would be the start of my MC (main character IE Amadel) arriving in the magical kingdom. I thought this would be maybe 30-50 pages (@ 350 words per page = 10.5K to 17.5K) Here I am on chapter 12 where she is just now in the kingdom, and I am sitting at 60K (171 pgs).
(BTW, it is extremely difficult to get an exact answer on the pages. I googled/binged a few sites before I just took the max and went with the 350 average words per page in a fantasy novel. I have seen anywhere from 250-350.)
Added to that, I had planned on a meeting between her and another MC (Leah), and now I think I will be completely rewriting that. Basically, Amadel and Leah were to meet, get captured, and Amadel escapes but Leah doesn’t. Now, it seems like the character (Leah) is already ‘captured’ and they will not meet. I haven’t fully decided how that will go, or if I will try to force it back to my original idea. Somehow.
Now, all of that mess out of the way, let me say that there are some people that can plan out each chapter and just speed right on along. Kudos to them, and I am jealous.
I have done this to an extent, but I am leaving it open now. Too many things are speeding through my mind because of the changes to my flow/plot. So now I am ‘stuck’ trying to figure out where to go, and I have 5K words to write by Sunday. Yay.
I think the hardest part is just choosing. I see it in forums all the time where people just don’t know which option as both could do 10 billion different paths.
So even though I have tried and (mostly) failed to plan, I still advocate it. I say this because if I had not thought through and planned the first few chapters, I would still be stuck trying to figure out how to start the damned thing.
But beyond flow of the story, there is also world building, historical data, etc.
I said it best on the FWO site, so I will say it again here:
Well, I knew from the start my book would be the first of a series. This is mostly because it is so vast, but also because I am literally planning it out. I know key points of things that will be happening – I have a giant timeline on my wall – and they are constantly changing as I hammer out the path for the first book. The other issue, is that I am running into two different ‘timelines’ – earth years, and fantasy realm (Lenaeu) years 1:132. So when one year passes on Earth, 132 have passed on Lenaeu. It is quite difficult to plot it all out.
I will say that at first, I just wrote. I did not care about the timelines or anything, I just needed to get it going. Now, I know that I need to keep certain things back or bring other items forward because of foreshadowing and pacing.
To sum it up, I have 6 main bubbles, each roughly equates to one book. Under each bubble, I have several hundred smaller ones. I know certain things will be happening (6 main), but I have changed things around so some of the small bubbles move between books. In fact, I had to take about 70K words and push them to book 3 as I found I had so much more to say before that bit even happened.
As for worldbuilder’s disease, I think as long as YOU need it to determine how to do a particular bit, and not sound like an idiot (lack details), have at it. Yet at the same time, if you spend ten days researching weather patterns over eastern Cambodia because it matches the weather in your story, and then you look into their rainfall, humidity, and the effect it has on the toad population, etc… well, you have caught the bug. But that is not to say that maybe your world revolves around weather? Sanderson’s Mistborn is actually a great example of when you need to do ‘some’ of that kind of research.
I found it perfectly acceptable that I spent two maybe three days on researching and making ciphers because it was direly important. Sure, I could just have a magical encoded book, but where is the fun in that? Why not have something that is not too often found in fantasy? It fits the person who wrote the cipher, and it helps to draw out a mystery.
As for one shoe, if you find my other one, please tell it that I promise to polish it and repair it’s sole if it just comes home… I’m tired of hobbling around all the time.
I went off on a tangent.  <fin>
So… planning. It really does help. Just like I didn’t plan this post so it is all kinds of random.

Self publishing awesomeness

Hello lovelies! How is the world treating ya?

No, don’t answer that. Considering I have about 5 people that have actually read the blog, and I see you posting stuff on SM sites or other websites, I can actually answer that myself. Any newbies that read this, feel free to comment and welcome to my blog!

<Pause rant>

I almost forgot to do what I said I was going to do with this blog from the last post.

Word count: 39K (Yay me! 7K more than before!)
Progression: Does frozen molasses mean anything to you? How about a train, moving at the speed of a brick wall? Eh… work sucks which equals book writing is nonexistent. It’s just sitting there, watching me, pleading with its I’s to have me come play with it. And here I am not able to because, unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills… yet.

<Resume rant>

Which leads me into the ‘topic’ of this blog. I ran across a post from a fellow FWO member who graciously showed his earnings and allowed me to ask awkward and probably stupid questions. But now I know his favorite color may or may not be green, that he probably has a mullet (just kidding), and listens to a bunch of music that now I need to invest some time into because I haven’t heard of 90% of them.

So, the point is I decided to write about self published authors and a few things they learned along the way. I asked some other FWO’er’s the same questions and below are the responses I got. I have posted three different author’s answers.
When you see:
A: (JAH = J.A.Hunter) that is the friendly ex-military man that posted his earnings first.
A: (BF = BowFinder) that is a wonderful SP female author who has amazing insight into pretty much anything I have seen her post about.
A: (LSC = Leonsandcastle) who is a bit of a kooky fellow (IMO) that has a curly blonde wig for his profile pic that makes me laugh each time I see it. But he has great imagination and his stories are in-depth and he knows a bunch of random stuff like fighting with bows.

This is a long post. You were forewarned.

Q: What is the avg word count per book that you published? 

A: (JAH) Strange Magic is the shortest at around 75,000 words. Since then I’ve stepped up my game and shoot for the 100,000 mark (Cold Hearted is 101,000, Wendigo Rising is 110,000, and my yet to be released book Mud-Man is around 110,000).
A: (BF) Most of my books are around 40,000 words. I’ve never written longer than 60,000.
A: (LSC) I don’t know how to go about calculating that really. but I would give a rough guess of about 100K is the average. But to be fair, I have written very little, and have a bulkish book in revisions.

Q: Approximately how long did it take you to write your first book, and then how long for your last?

A: (JAH) Strange Magic, the first book in the Yancy Lazarus series, took about a year to write and produce (editing, cover art, etc). But Strange Magic wasn’t my first book. The first book I ever wrote took a grand total of four years—it was a terrible high/epic fantasy novel, which will never, ever, ever see the light of day. Suffice it to say, my first full-length novel was a great learning lesson in how not to write good fantasy. My second novel, an equally terrible horror story, took two years. Strange Magic was my third full-length book and it took a year, but my writing time has sped up considerably since then. The second and third books in the Yancy Lazarus series only took around four months each to produce from start to finish.
A: (BF) I wrote my first 4 fantasy novels in one year. They sat around gathering dust, until self-publishing became a more viable option. Then I dug them out, heavily revised, had them edited, and published. By comparison, my most recent novel (still working on the last scene) will release six months from the date I began writing it.
A: (LSC) The first book attempt I did, I only had three months to write; mostly because the writing software was online and you had to pay for subscription to use it. But the first book I ever published took 8 months. The last book has taken 2 years, and is still not published.

Q:What made you go the route of self pub?

A: (JAH) I like being in control of the content I produce—I like deciding what to write, what to cut, what to keep, what my cover will look like—and all of those influenced me to self-publish. I also like that I can make my products inexpensive (normally priced books are only $3.99) while still making more per copy than a traditional author. Most of all though, I decided to self-publish because I hate waiting. Traditional publishing is so S.L.O.W. Everything takes months and months and months, and then even if you sell a book, it can take a year or more before it releases. As a self-published author, I’m free to produce and release as much (or as little) content as I choose.
A: (BF) Honestly? Sales and earnings. In my experience with publishers, enjoyable as it was, I wasn’t earning enough to buy myself more than the occasional McDonald’s meal. Worse, I wasn’t reaching a wide audience. And being enjoyed by as many readers as possible has always been my #1 goal – even more than earning a living. So I made up my mind to seek an agent and a deal with a major publisher. Unfortunately, neither were loving me. I felt very sorry for myself. While I counted my rejection letters, I watched many friends with longer careers and big publishers, writers I envied as having “made it,” switch over to self-publishing because of the higher earnings. After that, going self-pub was an easy decision.
A: (LSC) 0 replies when seeking an agent or publisher. I could not let the fact that I was a horrible writer in their eyes, stop me from having a book in my hands bearing my pen name.

Q:What snags did you find when self publishing?

A: (JAH) The first time I self-published was rough. Finding a good editor was really hard. I went through two editors that didn’t do very good work (and cost me a pretty penny) before finally finding one who was worth the money (Tamara Blain, ). I found a cover artist I liked right off the bat, though, so that was a bonus. Learning how to format my books was tricky, but was totally worth it and has saved me quite a bit in terms of time and money. There’s also taxes to consider. At first I didn’t expect to make much, but as real, actual, substantial money started coming in, my wife and I made the decision to start our own corporation for tax reasons.
A: (BF) None really. I had done a lot of research before hand, talked with a lot of self-publishers, followed the debates on pricing, etc. I was pretty well-informed going in and I’d say that was my biggest asset. That and having spent a lot of years learning the craft, including a couple years writing for small presses. I found my voice during that time and made my worst mistakes while nobody was watching.
A: (LSC) Ebooks seemed difficult to do for a larger audience, because I use LULU and they have specific mandates for what qualifies as a Epub, otherwise it’s a PDF available only from them.

Q: What are the top 3-5 things that you would advise a new writer?

A: (JAH) First, only be a writer if it makes you happy—it’s really not for the faint of heart. In writing, there are no shortcuts, no quick bucks to be made, and no guarantees of success. Pursue writing only if you genuinely enjoy writing. Write for fun. Write for you. Write because it’s what you love to do. Any other reason simply isn’t worth the headache. Second, as a writer, be prepared to fail. A lot. But know also that failure is great: failure is the road to improvement. Each book or story you write will likely be a lesson in failure, but each time you try again you will fail better.
Lastly, and this is the most important lesson I have to pass on: FINISH YOUR WORK. Now, I’ll admit, sometimes you do need to abandon a piece, but it should only be as a last resort. A story needs to have a begging, middle, and end—and each section has its own difficulties, challenges, and joys. If you only ever write beginnings, however, you’ll never fail enough at middles and ends to get good at those parts. So stick with it, even if it hurts a little.
A: (BF) My #1 advice is to do a ton of research before publishing and implement a careful strategy that begins before the books are released into the wild (preferably before they’re even written). Everyone knows you need to write a lot of words before those words start to be any good. What fewer people realize is that the publishing needs as much attention as writing. For the self-publisher, writing a good book is only half the battle. Selling it is trickier. But giving it a cover that looks self-published, skipping edits, and hoping that a great story at a cheap price will sell the book is a recipe for disappointment. Back in 2011, it might’ve worked but the indie market is far more competitive now. Even a price tag of $0.00 is no guarantee of downloads.
A: (LSC) I don’t know really. Like I hate self help guides and advice from people unqualified and I feel that I am not very educated on writing in general. But if I must answer the question, never stop learning.

Q: What would you have done differently had you known beforehand?

A: (JAH) To be honest I’m not sure I would have done anything differently. I didn’t succeed at everything, but my failures shaped me too, so I have no regrets.
A: (BF) I started out writing novellas in a niche area with a smallish audience. This was under a pen name I no longer use. Those works were too short for the readers or for the advertisers. Although they were in a series, they were only loosely connected, with each book featuring different main characters. That resulted in lower sell-through than I would otherwise have had. I knew enough to have a newsletter right from the start. But I didn’t push it hard. I didn’t make a serious effort to draw signups. I also didn’t follow up when a book sold well. Instead, I quit writing that series and jumped to a different one. Those are all mistakes I could have done differently. Still, my first self-pub efforts with my first pen name did much better than I’d expected (keeping in mind that my expectations were low). Despite the above mistakes, I’d paid enough attention to more experienced self-pubbers to get many things right.
A: (LSC) I don’t understand the question. Know beforehand of what? But I’ll make an assumption. Had I known I have difficulties in keeping a voice for a long period of time, I would have just written 140 1K short stories instead.

Q: What annoys you the most about writing?

A: (JAH) Editing. I hate editing—it feels like Chinese water drip torture. Writing itself is awesome. It’s all magic and lasers and gunfights and Phew, Phew, Phew, BOOM! Editing, on the other hand, is like mowing the lawn or grocery shopping or paying taxes. You gotta do all that stuff, but it sucks.
A: (BF) Middles. I hate them. That’s one reason why I don’t write long books. Short books make the time spent getting from beginning (love that part) to the end (another fun part) pass faster.
A: (LSC) When you actually pursue feedback and it’s not what you had envisioned the response would be, is a big blow to the ego for some.

Q: Did you make more or less money than you originally expected?

A: (JAH) I made way more money than I expected, though that’s certainly not the case with everyone. Initially, I invested around $1,000 to get my first book up and running, and my wildest hope was to double that amount in a year (so I could make back my investment, plus have enough to publish another book). After one year of self-publishing (three books and a novella later) I’ve made over $40,000, though that number is deceptive because it doesn’t account for taxes (a huge cut) or production overhead ($1,300 for a standard book, plus another $1,000 for audiobooks). I expected a few people to read my stuff, but since taking the plunge I’ve sold, approximately, 13,000 books (not counting print or audio) and lent, through Amazon’s lending library (which are also paid) another 11,000 books.
A: (BF) More. In the beginning, I only hoped to earn out my expenses and maybe make a couple hundred dollars in profit. Any profit at all would make the experiment successful, it seemed to me. Since then, my main pen name has earned a little over $300,000 across 7 books and a handful of box sets. I should mention I’ve pubbed other works under a different name that’ve only ever sold a few thousand copies, so I don’t include those numbers or earnings here. I’ve since unpublished some of those old titles for poor performance or because they’re no longer a good representation of my brand. But as a starting off place, they sold me on self-publishing.
A: (LSC) I’ve made some money off of writing, but definitely not enough to supplement a living, or afford to pay for edits.

Q: Any words of advice for someone poking their toe in the waters of Self Pub?

A: (JAH) Pay for an editor who is worth the money (and do your due diligence to find one), though don’t pay through the nose. And hire a professional cover designer, unless you are really, really, really good. Covers sell books. Lastly, if you’re going to do it with the hopes of making money, treat self-publishing like a business, because it is.

Q: How difficult was the process of getting it into the correct format for the reader you chose? (Kindle, iOS, Nook, etc.)

A: (JAH) I use Scrivener, and though it took some time to figure out (go through the entire tutorial, etc.), it’s now very easy. Best of all, you can use Scrivener to compile your book in any format.
A: (BF) I’ve always hired others to do my formatting. I’ll occasionally format a short story for paperback but I don’t format the digital files or the novel-length works for paperback.

Q: How have your reviews been rated?

A: (JAH) Reviews have been fairly good, overall. My first book Strange Magic currently has 186 reviews and a 4.2 out of 5 star rating, which isn’t bad. With that said, Strange Magic, has a lot more negative reviews then I would like, but it is a first book, so that’s to be expected. Additionally, Strange Magic, though a pretty good book, is definitely the worst of my books—I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then. The second book, Cold Hearted, has 71 reviews and a 4.8 out of 5 star rating, all 4 or 5 stars. And Wendigo Rising, which was release in November 2015, has 31 reviews 4.8 out of 5 star rating. Those books are better, I’ll admit, but mostly it’s because those people already liked my work and characters going into it.
A: (BF) On the whole, reviewers have been generous with these 7 books. Out of somewhere over 2,000 Amazon and Goodreads reviews, the average rating is around 4 stars on Amazon and a half star lower on GoodReads. My highest rated is currently 4.5, my lowest 3.8. Reviews generally trend higher as you move away from the free entry point (book 1) and deeper into the series. People tend not to continue reading (and thus reviewing) if they don’t enjoy the first couple books, which skews averages higher for later books. New releases also tend to get picked up early by existing fans, causing them to rate higher. Rating will often slope downward as the book ages and reaches a wider audience.

Q: Self promotion – what are you doing to promote your book? What has worked and what hasn’t?

A: (JAH) I blog, facebook, and twitter … but honestly, I don’t spend much time doing that stuff. In my mind the best possible marketing is more books. I do spend a little time marketing, but mostly I write so I can put more books out. I occasionally run countdown deals through KDP Select, which work well. Bookbub is awesome if you can get it (it’s really expensive, but worth the cost). Mostly I focus my marketing around book launches. I’ll usually pay to do a blog tour plus a blog blitz (costs about $80 total). During release week, I’ll discount the book to 99 cents for the first three days to help obtain a “sticky” sales ranking on Amazon (20 sales a day over five days is better than 100 sales in one day and no sales on days 2 – 5), and do a massive giveaway (usually 30 – 50 books, which go to early readers and a randomly selected handful of folks from my mailing list). My early reader/beta readers usually leave reviews early on, which is a huge marketing bonus. Oh and a mailing list. Do that. Seriously. Make a website and create a mailing list with clickable signup links in the back of all your books.
A: (BF) James answered that one well. I use the usual advertising and some light social media. I do cross-promotion with top indies in my genre and keep informed with all the best self-pub forums, blogs, and groups. Most importantly, I build and maintain my newsletter. I also have a small but lovely ARC list, which is helpful.
A: (LSC) I don’t know anything about advertising. Honest. I have tried to get on the radio in my home town, even tried to have the same contact write a blurp in a paper. But every-time, my connection turns out to be an utter flake who seemingly has no investment of me (but that’s my opinion of him). I have done research on it, and realistically, it seems like a nightmare. I have gone the social media route, and no one seems to care about anything. Engagement from friends, family and even strangers are at a 0. I would like to elaborate and state that I am trying something I have not been instructed to by any how to on marketing, and that is Posters in stores where I can.

Q: What made you want to write to begin with?

A: (JAH) A lot of my writer friends always knew they wanted to write. For me, the passion didn’t really ignite until well after high-school. I tinkered around with writing and storytelling in high school, but then drifted away from it for a good long while. It was during my time in the Marines, specifically on my first deployment to Iraq, that the writing bug wormed its way back under my skin—truth be told, while on deployment I ran out of books to read so decided I would kill some time writing some stories of my own. I’ve been writing on and off since 2007, though I started to take it more seriously in 2014/2015.
A: (BF) I’ve written stories since childhood. I don’t really know why. I’ve just always enjoyed inventing characters and worlds. I think the first story I ever wrote was because my older siblings were writing something and I didn’t want to be left out.
A: (LSC) From early on, I had a fascination with the world, as if there was indeed magic in it, and that it could be harnessed. Something about books and the effect they had on me in reality made me think that was part of the magic of it all.

That’s it for now. I had 20 questions in all, and at one point I will probably reference some of those answers, but I think what I have above is the meat of the issues. I am sure there are at least another 100 or more issues that people want to know about.
I found the entire self publishing process scary and overwhelming, but at the same time, it seems like trying to find an agent or publisher was just as hard. However, when I saw JAH’s post, I felt a million times better about self publishing, and I hope these questions will help someone out there as well.

I have added J.A.Hunter’s, BowFinder’s and Leon’s links. Enjoy!