Author Profile: Michael Bunker

by WJ Davies on June 27, 2014

I’m not sure how much I need to say about Michael. He does enough talking all on his own ;)

Bunkerhttp://www.michaelbunker.com/

No, seriously, Michael is one of those guys that is so in tune with what he is doing that it’s almost scary. I wish I was half as productive as Michael, and people have called him a self-publishing guru. I would argue that he’s the prime example of what us indie authors are striving to do: write a ton of books, interact with readers in an interesting and exciting way, and generally be passionate about our craft. In the indie world, he’s definitely someone to look up to and try to learn from.

When Jason, Patrice, Thomas and I were setting up the LOOW group, we looked around at some of the other Wool related works out there, trying to recruit new authors into our fold. At the time, there still wasn’t much fanfic available, but Michael Bunker had recently written a book called “Hugh Howey Must Die”. I think he wrote it in a weekend or something crazy. While this technically wasn’t Wool fanfiction, it was still Hugh Howey related and so we thought we’d send him an invite. Turns out, that was a fantastic decision on our parts.

Michael came to the table with YEARS of publishing under his belt (compared to a couple months for the rest of us!). He already knew so much about the industry, and had lots of input about where we could take this Wool fanfiction stuff. We were all very passionate about Hugh’s series, and that passion only grew as we all dove into our own takes on the Wooliverse, sharing ideas and bouncing them off each other. It was a really productive time with me releasing a Runner sequel, Jason releasing Greatfall, Patrice releasing more Karma books, Thomas coming out with his Pawn series, and Michael storming into the room with his Silo Archipelago trilogy.

SILOA

Having Michael around will make you want to write faster, if only so that you don’t get left behind, trailing behind this strange, plain living, sci-fi loving bearded man.

Send this guy an email, see if you can ruffle his feathers, and most importantly, check out his awesome books!

WICKPEN

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Author Profile: A.G. Riddle

by WJ Davies on June 27, 2014

As soon as I started writing, I also started reading about writing and researching publishing methods. I didn’t even know self-publishing on Amazon was an option for me until I’d already written 10,000 words or so. This knowledge sent me to Amazon to browse the sci-fi bestseller lists, and that’s how I discovered books like WOOL and Atopia Chronicles.

In the first couple months, when The Runner was doing crazy well and sneaking into a bunch of top-ten categories on Amazon, one of the books I noticed climbing the charts very quickly was The Atlantis Gene, by A.G. Riddle.

AGhttp://www.agriddle.com/

This was the author’s first novel, and I was amazed at how well it was doing so quickly. I emailed the author to tell him congrats, and he wrote back right away:

Hi WJ, 

Thanks for your note!  Atlantis Gene is my first novel, and I’d love to hear what you think.  
Just checked out your web site.  I use Scrivener too, and I didn’t know about the word count/project target feature; I love that.  I also just bought The Runner — what an outstanding premise.  I thoroughly enjoyed Wool, so I’m very much looking forward to it.
 
Take care, – AG
 
PS: good luck with the Binary Cycle: Disruption launch
Over the next couple months, his book continued to have astounding success, jumping into the top #100 on the Amazon store and pretty much just making itself comfortable and hunkering down indefinitely (it’s still there!). I had already bought the book, but decided I’d better take a peak at it to see what all the fuss was about.
GENE

THIS WAS THE MOMENT EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR ME.

You see, up until then, I firmly believed that success was mostly derived out of marketing, making yourself known as an author, blogging, and being active on all sorts of social media. It turns out that yes, that stuff does help much of the time, but that’s not going to get you into the top #100. It’s not going to sell you a million books. It’s not going to get other people talking about you.

The only thing that will do that is a fantastic book.

Right away, Atlantis Gene struck me as a kind of DaVinci Code for Sci-Fi lovers. It has everything. Science, political intrigue, suspense, alien conspiracy theories, international espionage, action, romance, humor… need I go on? And each chapter is very short, switching between multiple characters and leaving a trail of cliff-hangers to keep the reader guessing. This is a real page turner.

From this, I realized that if you want to have a bestseller (I mean a REAL bestseller), that it doesn’t matter if you have a twitter account, FB page, or author website… not really (And people are going to shoot me for saying so). What matters is that you’ve written an exciting book that people want to read. That’s it.

I’ve made a point of keeping in touch with A.G., not only to learn from him, but also because he’s a really friendly, completely down to earth guy. He’s the sort of guy you’d want to have on your ball team, and I’m glad he’s out there showing people what indie authors are capable of. He gives the rest of us hope, that someday, we can perfect our craft enough to really make a big splash on this new publishing paradigm.

Oh, and congrats is in order! A.G. just sold the film rights to his series to CBS! That now makes THREE authors I know who have sold film rights. When are we gonna start seeing these movies!

Check out A.G.’s series now, you won’t be sorry.

PLAGUEWORLD

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Author Profile: Thomas Robins

by WJ Davies on June 26, 2014

I absolutely love the author community that exists right now. When I published The Runner, I had no idea that it would lead to me meeting so many interesting people from all over the world. Thomas is one of those people.

Tomashttp://www.thomasrobins.com/

He first emailed me more than a year ago, letting me know that he really enjoyed reading my fanfic story and had written around 20 poems taking place within the Silo world. This is a great example of how creative people can be when it comes to the Siloverse. He wrote to me asking if he could steal my tagline “A Silo Story” for his cover. Well, as it turns out, I had stolen that from Hugh Howey’s shift books, so I generously gave Thomas permission to use the words.

poetry

Thomas went on to publish a silo story called The Pawn, which I really enjoyed, and joined up with us LOOW writers as one of the founding members. It’s been great getting to know Thomas over the past year, and he’s often the responsible one of our group, making sure what we’re doing is in accordance with the law and that we’re all staying positive and motivated as we write. He’s got a debut full length novel coming out in a couple weeks, check it out!

DTE

 

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Author Profile: Matthew Mather

by WJ Davies on June 26, 2014

I read Matthew Mather’s Atopia chronicles right around the same time I read WOOL. I had just got a kindle, and was amazed at the quality of independently published books on Amazon. Atopia is one of those books. I think I felt comfortable emailing him because I saw he was from Montreal… a fellow Canuck!

MMhttp://matthewmather.com/

My own book, Binary Cycle, was about halfway written when I first contacted Mather. He had a lot of great information for me as I wrote, including tips on characterization, sentence structure, and story pacing. In fact, he created a system for new authors to maximize their potential and bring new readers into the fold. His “Shakespeare System” is as follows:

Serialize

As attention spans shorten in the online (and real) world, readers don’t trust a new author enough to read 400 pages to get the point. For a new author, a winning approach is to serialize, to create your work as a set of progressively longer stories that connect together through cliffhangers to get a reader hooked. And speaking of that…

Hook

The first short story needs to be punchy and tell a complete story in itself while leaving the reader wanting to know more. Even more than that, you need to hook the reader on the first page somehow, create a mystery, a reason and need to keep reading.

Amazon

To start, focus only on Amazon. I’m not here to promote Amazon, but the first rule of entrepreneurism is to focus, focus, focus. The large majority of revenue in digital books comes from Amazon, with a small minority coming from all of the other players combined. So when you start, focus on Amazon by itself; getting reviews, getting up in the ranking. By only going on Amazon, you force people to buy from one place and thus drive up your rankings in this one spot. Once you have achieved some success there, expand to other platforms (FYI the easiest way to get on other platforms is just to use Smashwords).

Key networks

Make sure to use your personal social networks to maximum effect. Post on Facebook and ask people to re-post your postings for free book offers. Make sure to email everyone at work on the “internal” email (ask your boss first, of course!) Use your LinkedIn network to mention that you have a book out. What other networks are you a part of?

Try emailing top-selling authors in your category when you release the first installments of your work. Ask them to read the first one (by starting with serialized shorts, it makes it easier for other authors to try reading your work), or just ask them to post on their blog or Facebook. When I released Atopia, I had about five or six top-selling authors who posted to their readers for me!

Empathize

It is critical to create a character that you introduce readers to right away that they can empathize with. People read still primarily because they want to feel an emotional involvement with a character they meet in your writing. Keep this front and center of your mind when writing.

Select Program on Amazon

Use the Amazon Select Program: You can offer your book for $0 (free) for 5 days each 3 months. Used effectively, this is an extremely potent tool for reaching an audience.

There are at least 40 websites I use to promote a “free weekend” for my books (email me for a list) – these sites are mostly specific to books that go free on Amazon Select and are mostly free to use for promotion.

If you can plan it ahead of time, write out all of the parts of your serialized work ahead of time, and then each two weeks release one of them, promoting it on Amazon select for free and on the promotional websites. I can usually get 4000+ downloads of a free book when I do this.

Perceived Value

Create perceived value by offering a deal. For instance, try and divide your ‘whole’ work into 6 parts, and sell each for $0.99, and then offer the whole ‘collection’ at half price, e.g. $2.99 for all six. This creates perceived value on the part of the buyer when you start to sell the whole collection

Editing

If your work is not edited well, you will get killed in the reviews and in word of mouth. Go on Craigslist and find some just-graduated (and unemployed) English lit major to edit your book on the cheap. A “real” editor can be extremely expensive; using unemployed English-lit majors will be of much lesser quality but will cost hundreds of dollars, not thousands. There is no excuse to not get an external editor of some kind, and not getting one will kill your chances of success.

All free posting websites

Craigslist and other free online classified ads are the secret weapon for a new authors. It is incredibly difficult to get outside feedback when you are a new writer. My solution? Post an ad saying you’ll pay someone $10 or $20 to read your book and give you honest feedback. Note that this is not for line editing, but for high level feedback to make your story more engaging in an iterative process.

Bonus: Get 20 people to read your book like this; these people will probably become your biggest promoters and will be happy to write reviews and Facebook and tweet your book when released.

Free PR – When you release your book, create several press releases about different aspects of the book, what it is about, why people would like it. When you release each of the story segments, put these press releases up on the free press release websites. There are about a dozen high quality free release sites out there. Highlight that the short story that is free that week.

Reviews

It is critical to get reviews as this has a direct impact on the Amazon ranking and recommendation system. YOU CANNOT do fake reviews. Apart from the ethical issues, Amazon has an impressive array of technical tools to make this very difficult. Instead, be honest and creative; use friends, family, co-workers; and see my point regarding Craigslist and getting people ready to punt for your project.

Engage

Find any and all ways to engage with your audience once you start to get readers. Do a video blog on YouTube about the process, do a regular blog showing progress on next books and stories, get people to your Facebook page. Just get engaged with them somehow!

Pretty solid advice, right? I thought so. When I released The Runner, I was pleasantly surprised to see my book right up there along with The Atopia Chronicles, one of the books that inspired me to write in the first place!

RunnerMather has gone on to become an extremely successful indie author, selling tens of thousands of books, getting published by Random House, and selling the movie rights of Cyberstorm to Fox. Make sure you check out his novels, they’re super good.

Oh, and notice that Jason Gurley cover on the left!

ACCS

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Author Profile: Patrice Fitzgerald

by WJ Davies on June 26, 2014

Oh Patrice… where do I begin?

PFhttp://patricefitzgerald.com/

I can’t quite remember the first time I spoke to Patrice, but it was early on in 2013. Perhaps inspired by my silo story, Patrice wrote one of her own entitled “The Sky Used to be Blue”. Her fanfiction was different, in that she wrote about characters Hugh Howey actually mentioned in the Wool series. Up to that point, the fanfiction stories took place in the silo, but followed new characters and stories. Patrice picked up some of the pieces left by the original author and ran with it.

I remember last spring when she sent me book two of her Karma of the Silo series, and I was halfway through it when the Boston bombing stuff started coming on the news. I kept reading, and by the end of her story I was in tears, partly because of the atrocities on the news, but mostly because of how the story was affecting me. I always appreciate Patrice’s stories, as they often cover some very heavy subjects, such as abortion, and birth defects. Her books are actually much more mature than she is herself ;) Kidding kidding… sort of.

Karma

Patrice was one of the founding members of the LOOW writing group, and she was instrumental in popularizing Wool fanfiction. Get a hold of this author. At the very least, she’ll make you laugh.

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Author Profile: Lyndon Perry

June 26, 2014

About a month after I released The Runner, Lyn sent me this email: WJ, Wanted to let you know that you publishing your story, The Runner, has inspired me to write/publish my own Silo Story later this month (with Hugh’s blessing!). If you’re interested, I’ll send you a preview copy in a few weeks. Best [...]

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Author Profile: Jason Gurley

June 26, 2014

 I first learned about Jason Gurley, quite naturally, through his cover design work. More specifically, his own covers (for Colonists and Settlers). He had just released his first two books (they caught my eye on Amazon), and I figured I’d pick his brain and see what he knew about indie publishing. Turns out, we were both incredibly [...]

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Author Profile: Zachary Bonelli

June 24, 2014

As a new writer, joining twitter was probably the best thing I did early on. I started tweeting about 6 months before I published anything, and in doing so, I met many of the contacts who really helped me along when I was still a total newbie. http://www.fuzzyhedgehogpress.com/ http://www.zacharybonelli.com/ One of the first people I [...]

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Binary Cycle: Skyward is here!

June 4, 2014

The Binary Cycle Saga, which began with BC: Disruption in April 2013 is finally complete. This has been a fun journey, and I’ve enjoyed writing about these characters for the past couple years, but their adventures are now complete! Click the book cover to be directed to Skyward’s Amazon page.  

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Free Book!

May 26, 2014

To celebrate the completion of this three part series, Binary Cycle: Disruption will be free from May 26-29. Click HERE be directed to the book’s Amazon page… FREE BOOK! $0.00 for kindle

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