So I am off to New Orleans and the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. While I’m gone, I am putting Sly Magic: Nogitsune on sale for just $1.99! The sale goes from May 13th through the 18th–I’ll be putting it back up to the regular price of $3.99 some time on the 19th, so don’t miss out.
The RT Booklovers Convention is in New Orleans this summer, and I am thrilled to be going. I’ve never been to a writer/reader con before, and from what I’ve heard and read about it, this is a great one to get your feet wet. Very relaxed and welcoming, dress how you’re most comfortable, and a fabulous way to meet friends you’ve known for years but never met in person.
The writer’s track looks great, lots of informative panels on both craft and business, and plenty of social events as well. I’m not gonna lie–I’m a little freaked out about that much in-person socializing (Ohhh dot dot dot I liked you better online sadface) but I think it’s going to be a blast once I find my very achy feet, and I can’t wait to see all my friends. If you’re holding fresh pastry or an Amaretto Sour, that makes you my friend.
There were also several reasonably priced promotional opportunities offered for the week, so if you’re getting a FAN-tastic Day swag bag, here’s a sneak peek:
SLY MAGIC: NOGITSUNE will be half off while I’m at the convention, so May 14th-19th will be the perfect time to wrap your tails around it for just $1.99 before SLY MAGIC: GEOMANCER comes out in the new year!
Maybe you remember when I was talking about changing the title of Nogitsune awhile back, but I forgive you if you don’t. It’s been awhile. As you’ll see in a moment, I did alter the title, and have a new cover made. AngstyG, by the way, is an amazing cover artist. Go to her.
There were some changes inside the book, too– some needed corrections made, and content added I think you’ll enjoy.
There’s no disputing the fact that the way to make money in self-pub is to have around three books ready to go when you enter the market, then keep up a steady production level so your new books are attracting customers to your previous work, and you start growing that long tail everyone keeps talking about. I didn’t do that. I put out the best book I had written. The one I wanted to show you, the one I wanted so much for you to read, I decided to put it out there myself so you could.
And that means that until I finish the next one, this book is my sole product on the market. This is your only measure of the kind of writer I am and want to be. It has to be–and look–as good as any trade published book out there, because readers deserve that respect, and I deserve to be able to look at a book and go, “Yeah. That right there is the best I can do, and that’s pretty good.” Now, whether you agree with me about that last bit or not, there’s only one way to find out.
But about how it looks, I kinda think you’re going to agree with me that this is a great cover.
RIGHT?! OMG I’M SO HAPPY I COULD LICK THE SCREEN! BUT I USUALLY DON’T WIPE IT VERY WELL AFTER I SNEEZE!
A lot of research went into writing NOGITSUNE. The history and folklore of America and Japan (more about that here) mostly, which then branched out into pop culture, as the kitsune is still a living, evolving icon. It was important that my foxes grow in an authentic manner from the roots of our real world, so you’d believe them in mine.
But from there I had a lot of fun with it, giving simple things like children’s games a new twist, the way I think they might have changed due to being fox-adjacent. One of these is the Five-Second Rule. That brief window of time after you drop an m&m or something on a hard surface, within which the Rule dictates it’s still clean enough to eat. In my hometown, we either jokingly pounced on the candy to pick it up in time, or if someone felt particularly daring, she might just “kiss it up to God” and eat it anyway. Sometimes it’s tough to let that last m&m go.
In a fictional city where food, good cigarettes, and even Starbucks cards are routinely left as offerings to the unseen, what would children from a supernatural lineage (and a couple of generations of indulgent elders) do with the Five Second Rule? How does a family tradition arise, and what would someone from a hundred years ago or a modern cousin from whichever Old Country think of it?
Sometimes I worry that people will read NOGITSUNE and think “WTF, no one does this! She’s just pulling it out of her ass!” But I hope I struck the right balance of actual and fictional, so that it feels like a thing these characters would do. That I’ve been respectful enough of the origins in creating something new.
And that you’ll love it.
As a new self-published author, there’s a lot of advice to sift through, a lot of decisions to make. Many people have blazed the trail before me, and we’re now well out of the “Don’t. You’ll ruin your career” era, but not quite out of the “Are you actually published, or self-published?” one. It’s an exciting, terrifying time in publishing, no matter which road you find yourself on.
I’ll be honest. Self-pubbing was never my goal. I wanted what a dear writer friend calls the White Wedding publishing experience. An agent, a publisher, and the chance to see my book on the shelves at a brick-and-mortar store. It took some wrenching to reevaluate what I wanted out of a writing career, and if self-pubbing some of my books was a valid—for me—step toward achieving that. I still want a trade publishing deal someday, but the last eight or nine years have shown me my books may never be the kind that an agent or editor wants to hang their reputation or paycheck on. And that’s okay. It doesn’t make them bad books, and I don’t have the raging Hard-On of Hate for trade publishing that some people seem to think propels all SPers forward. Weird NSFW pogo-stick visual, but whatever.
But what it does mean is that I have to make decisions that I always thought someone else would be making. Cover art, price, when or if to make a physical book available, editing, a deadline by which I’d have to just put the damn thing out there. Full control is amazing, right?
It is. And it also sucks. When someone else has control of your book’s fate, it’s a different set of anxieties than when that’s all on you. If I have a down day or week, thinking all my work is shit and I have no business calling myself a writer, I can literally hit Unpublish, fold myself up into the sand like Hamunaptra, and give up on the whole thing that easily. That much access to the finished work can be poisonous, especially if, deep in your hermitty little heart, you still secretly feel that if it were any good, you would have gotten an offer goddammit.
Every aspect of your book, your author persona, and your marketing strategy is fully in your control. That control ends at the reader. I was very careful with NOGITSUNE’s cover. I worried about white-washing and stereotypical Asian symbols and stock art. I wanted to suggest kitsune folklore without making it look like a historical or a Romance, which is a taller order than you’d think. Then there was the title.
Several friends, correctly, had suggested that “nogitsune” was a problematic title for my debut. Sure, other books successfully incorporate apostrophe-laden fantasy names and even made-up words in their titles. But this one, well, it looks foreign. Yeah, it looks “foreign” because it’s a Japanese term, for a type of fox out of Japanese folklore. I can make fun of Foreign Word Cooties all I want, but that doesn’t change that it can be a real branding problem. For an English-only reader, “nogitsune” doesn’t bring anything to mind when you glance at it (unless you’re a die-hard anime fan or perhaps a member of the Anthro community) and so the graffiti-style kitsune image is left to do all the heavy lifting.
I love the word, I like the way it looks on the cover, and frankly, I couldn’t think of anything better. It has meaning to me, so I look at it differently than a reader winnowing through a thousand thumbnail covers would. Stubbornly. Now I’m two months in, working on the next book, and seriously considering changing NOGITSUNE’s title when I release Book Two. I literally can’t even give this book away. It has an interesting cover, a great (I think) blurb, and a reasonable (I also think) price-point. The only thing that leaves is the title, and since all of these things are so easily changeable, I could conceivably keep switching them out until I hit the right combo.
Or I could just leave it alone long enough for readers to find me, and work on the next thing, since I know that’s the only way to grow the proverbial long tail. It takes self-discipline to forge ahead instead of endlessly tweaking, and honesty to admit it’s just a sneaky form of procrastination. Let it be now, and come back when you have some perspective. That’s the smart thing to do.
But this damn self-publishing thing has knobs, and it’s devilish hard not to keep fiddling with them.
I’m giving away two e-copies of NOGITSUNE over on BookLikes. Runs through October 11th, go and enter!
Let me give you something pretty!
I’ve been talking about NOGITSUNE in a few different places over the last couple of weeks, thanks to some wonderful bloggers. The links for new guest posts and interviews are always up over in the “News” tab, but here’s a quick roundup of what’s currently out there.
~ Interview at book review blog The Book Feed.
~ A guest post on the blog of the talented YA writer, Shveta Thakrar.
~ A fun interview with Romance novelist Selma Wolfe, in which she invokes kaiju to get me to talk about my process.
~ A guest post in which I mostly reveal the sad state of my inner monologue, over on Full Frontal Fantasy.
~ An author spotlight with the lovely fantasist and thespian, Maer Wilson.
Thanks for entering! Will be contacting three lucky winners soon!
Three Nogitsune ebooks are up for grabs, all you have to do to enter is tweet!
Winners will each be gifted one copy of Nogitsune, from either Smashwords or the Kindle store.
*Runs from 12am EST on the 16th, through 12 am on the 20th. Tweet your entry through the Rafflecopter form above.*