Writing Journey

To Write 100 Books & Die

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Fellow blogger Zoey told me she is interested in hearing my self-publishing experience. So to start off this new year of blogging, I’ve decided to fill you in on what it’s been like for me. But before I get into my five years in this indie industry, let me share with you my writing goal. It’s pretty straightforward. My goal is to write 100 books and die.

Simply put, I want to write as many books as I can in my lifetime. Whether or not it becomes my full time career, whether or not I become a bestselling author, whether or not the world knows my name, I just want to write. Money and fame are not my goals as an author, they are added bonuses (bonuses I would love to have, of course). But ultimately, writing and writing and writing is my goal. That is why I chose to go indie.

I’ve self-published five titles independently: The Dreamer, Dream World: The Lost Child, Raindrops, Magnum Opus, and Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. Have I ever thought of pitching these books to publishers? Yes. Did I do it? Only once for The Dreamer. Why only once? Because the work that goes into it equals to another book being written. This is a personal statement: I rather spend time writing than looking for a publisher.

Of course, the self-publishing work that comes after writing a book is not easy. There’s editing, designing, publishing, and marketing. Being that I don’t have the finance to fund myself, my books are not given a paperback chance. Having no money to spend on professional editing, I edit my books with the help of beta readers. The cover design of all my books were done by friends who were willing to do it for free (quick tip: be friends with artists/designers). Asking for free help is something I had to do, and being honest about the struggle of being an indie author is something my artsy friends understood. I thank God for having friends who would do book covers for free – these people could charge me for it, but were willing to ‘collaborate’ because I was budget-less.

After all the pre-production work is done, to the best of my ability (note this: I don’t release books I’m not happy with – I’ve ditched some stories too), I export my books into pdf and place them on Gumroad. Gumroad hosts my books online and emails them automatically to buyers. They only take a small percentage out of the sales, much less than Amazon. The reason why I don’t put on Amazon is because of the tedious process (call me lazy) and the low royalty rates. Yes, the book might sell more copies on Amazon, but I prefer to use a platform I have full control over (price, format, and earnings).

Have I made a lot of money from those five titles? No, and it doesn’t matter… because I’m still writing.

I believe the reason why I don’t make much money from my books is because of poor marketing. I had a marketing module in university, but the 4p’s of marketing is a surface level skill. I fail at promotion because the only platforms I have for promotion is here on this blog and on my social networking accounts. Even here/there, I don’t expect great responses. And that’s how it is as an indie author.

I have been doing this for five years, and only a year ago did I attempt to try a new form of publishing: crowd-funded publishing. Last year, I learnt so much from the production of The Battle for Oz through a successful crowd-funded project. I had no idea how tedious the full process of editing was! But just like self-publishing, crowd-funded publishing is not for everyone.

The truth about self-publishing is this: it takes work and you might not earn the money you deserve from all the work. But you have full control and you get to see it come to life. Knowing this, I’m favouring crowd-funded publishing so much more, but that itself is a different ball game.

If you’re wondering which route to take, I suggest you first ask yourself what your writing goal is. Why do you write? And base on your answer, see which route best suits you. I chose self-publishing and going indie because I want to share as many stories with the world. I’m fine dying as an unknown writer, as long as I’ve inspired a few lives with my work. But to some, this is not something they want. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because we all have different writing goals. What’s important is you do what works best for you.

So there you have it, my experience in self-publishing. It’s pretty general as I still have a lot to learn. I’m not sure if I would continue on this self-publishing route or plant myself solely in crowd-funded publishing, but no matter which path I take, I still have a lot to learn. This is the best I can share with you at this point of time, and I hope it helps 🙂

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If there is something you would like me to share, leave a comment below!

Zoey has also asked about my writing process and if you’re keen about the same topic, let me know. Like I said in my A New Year, A New Journey post, this is going to be a different blogging year. I want to interact with you and I’m hoping to build a community of readers through this blog. Hopefully, the shift in blogging will help me in my authoring career. But even if it doesn’t, I hope it helps you, dear reader, in one way or another.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend ahead!

Others

Let’s Go To War

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*This is a special note to those who have supported The Battle for Oz. If you’ve not supported the book, READ ANYWAY.

1,000 copies sold!

I’ve hit a milestone in my publishing career that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. Thank you for being a part of this journey and helping me accomplish this feat 🙂 I have never sold this many books before, that’s for sure. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

That being said, the question that begs to be answered now is, will it be possible to sell another 1,000 copies?

I say, yes. If and only if you’re still willing to stand beside me. I need an army to fight my way in this competitive publishing industry, and I could really use your help. Will you enlist?

If you think I’m worth partnering, if you think this war is worth fighting, here’s what I need you to do:

#1 Share The Battle for Oz with your friends.
Conveniently, the book can be bought on Amazon and Barnes & Noble at a lower price. The cover is also green… which makes for an awesome Christmas present! (Look —>)

#2 Leave reviews.
On Amazon.
On Goodreads.
And on your own blog, if you own one.

These are the only two things I need from you. I can only do so much, but you can help me do more. So, I’m leaving it in your hands.

You’re in command of this battle now, General. Should we go for war? It’s your call.

On a side note, The Battle for Oz was pitched to United Talent Agency. This book needs to get more attention should it stand a chance at becoming a movie! This fight might be all it needs, and this fight needs you.

(If you read this and have yet to get your copy of The Battle for Oz, please check the book out! You might like it. You really might. You might end up loving it, for all I know. So please, pretty please, give it a look.)

Writing Journey

The Making of The Battle for Oz

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The making of The Battle for Oz was more than writing The Battle for Oz. Here is the complete production process.

Pre Production

In film making, this is where the script is written, a budget is given, the cast and crew are hired, the locations are recce-ed, the production schedule is set, the costumes are made, and etc. When pre producing The Battle for Oz, I only needed the completed manuscript and $7,700. Seems like a much easier process compared to making a movie, right? Well, it is… except that raising $7,700 was not easy at all.

Since my manuscript was already completed, I simply had to focus on getting the funds. I reached out to my family and friends, and gotten my parents on board to reach out to their friends as well. I Facebook messaged everyone up to five times and thickened my skin during the entire process. I’ve tried different ways in the 3-month time frame and can now conclude on what works and what doesn’t.

What works:
– Spamming your Facebook friends, especially when they don’t respond to your first message. Tell them it’s OK for them to tell you to stop if they find it annoying. Many will ignore you, but some will turn around at the very end and support you because they admire your perseverance.
– Reaching out to family, because they will support you. Ask your uncles and aunts, cousins and cousins-in-law, nephews and nieces, and everyone in your family tree.
– Don’t be afraid to ask mum and dad for help, because mum and dad have contacts and mum and dad will shamelessly support you. Because they are mum and dad. (*Neither of my parents forked out any money, but they successfully convinced their friends to support my dream.)
– Email blog followers. Not all but some will respond. (Those of you who did, thank you!)
– Tweet Twitter followers. Not all but some will respond. (Those who did, thank you too!)

What doesn’t work:
– Messaging book bloggers.
– Promoting your book in Goodreads groups that you’re not active in.
– Spamming Facebook groups.
– Trying to get the support of famous YouTubers. (Not worth the effort no matter how desperate you are. Trust me.)
– Reddit.

Hitting $7,700 was almost impossible for me, especially when majority of my backers were from Malaysia. The currency exchange made it difficult for people to give more. Still, after a lot of convincing and praying, I managed to hit the goal. I would call it a miracle. So if I can do it with an exchange rate of more than 3.0, you can certainly do it too.

Production

Once my book was fully funded, I was introduced to Inkshares’ editorial manager who asked for my manuscript and gave me a questionnaire to fill. We also had a brief Skype chat where she answered all my questions. After that, she introduced me to the project manager from Girl Friday Productions. They took over the manuscript and began the editing process. From developmental editing, copy editing, to proofreading, they walked through each stage with me. It was my first time going through such a tedious editing process of my work and I learned that red lines do not necessarily mean bad.

When the editing was finally done, the project manager started with the cover design process. I was given three rounds to comment and change the design, but I pushed it to four. Once I was happy with the cover, the marketing manager from Inkshares came into the picture. She took the digital proofs and began the marketing process including getting early readers and press interest. Before the official publication date, the digital advance reader copy was passed around, a Goodreads giveaway was set up, and I was given an interview questionnaire to fill.

I think the longest production process was the editing, as reviewing edits for each stage took a while. I also had to reread my manuscript many times. It was worth it though.

Post Production

Now that the book is out, marketing becomes the primary focus. Getting reviews is an important part of this stage. Being that Inkshares is a crowd-funded publisher, both author and publisher have to put in effort in promoting the book. On my end, I have to seek reviews to boost the sales. I’ll have to reach out to people again and wear a thick skin once more. Though, I do believe readers would be more supportive this time around. After all, they’ve already bought the book… right? Right? I can only hope.

So there you have it, the making of The Battle for Oz!

Now, for some important post production work.

Click HERE to visit the book page. Buy the book if it piques your interest!

If you have read the book, please, please, please, leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Especially Amazon. Help me out! It’s difficult to get reviews. So please do lend a hand. I would really appreciate it!

Curious about the interview I did with Young Entertainment Magazine? They called my book a literary equivalent of a masterful musical mashup. Click HERE to read it! I talked about my background, inspiration, and personal favourites in it too.

OK, I’m done with my little post production segment. Thank you for your support in advance. *AND PLEASE LEAVE ME A REVIEW!*

I hope this post has been helpful for those who are considering crowd-funding their novel. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment 🙂 I’ll be more than willing to answer them.

Till my next post, have a great weekend!

Others

Celebrating (Almost) 7K With A Giveaway!

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This day has arrived. Never thought it ever would. I mean, 7,000 6,900 subscribers… who would imagine? Well, I have imagined, but I never thought I would reach it. A month or so ago, Big Bang had a concert in Malaysia. They had 15,000 attendees. 7,000 6,900 is less than half of 15,000, but the sight of half a stadium packed with people is still mind blowing. (No, I’m not a Big Bang fan. I didn’t attend the concert. But I think T.O.P is cute though.)

Anyway, that being said, I am just so honoured to have each and every one of you as my reader. I’m not sure how many of you are still reading my posts every week, but even if you don’t, you subscribing shows your support. Thank you for your support. It means a lot to me. Every single reader is a boost of morale. Thank you for being that one. Without you, it wouldn’t be 7,000 6,900. Thank you 🙂

So, to celebrate this awesome milestone, I have a special announcement to make.

As some of you might know, my latest novel, The Battle for Oz, will be out in September. It will be on bookshelves in the US and Canada. Some bookstores have already placed orders to have my book in stock. I’ll list them out in the near future. But that is not the special announcement today. As per the post title, there is a giveaway!

If you’re on Goodreads, there’s a Goodreads giveaway happening right now. 20 copies of the book will be freely given to those living in US and Canada! Click HERE to join the giveaway – it ends on September 15th.

Unfortunately, it’s not open to all the countries in the world. So perhaps I’ll throw my own giveaway in the future. That being said, if you would like to get your hands on The Battle for Oz, you can find it listed on many online bookstores worldwide. If you live in Asia, Open Trolley in Singapore has my book listed. You can also get it from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you want most of your money to be sent to me, you can buy it from Inkshares. I make the most profit from direct sales there. Inkshares also offers free shipping 🙂 Win-win!

On a side note, if you are a game developer, music composer, filmmaker, visual effects expert, artist, jewellery maker,  or anyone along those professions, that would like to collaborate on expanding the world of The Battle for Oz, send me an email. Let’s create another win-win situation 🙂

Well, that’s all for this post. Thanks again for your readership! Do continue to stick around for more awesome adventures ahead. And have a great weekend!

Others

6500 & A New Book

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When was the last time I did a thank you post? I think it was during the 5000’s. I decided not to write these posts so frequently, not because I’m not grateful for having you around, but because I don’t want to water down my gratitude. Hence, I have decided to say thank you every 500 new subscribers. So, here I am again!

A big thank you to all 6500 readers of my blog! Thank you for paying my blog a visit, reading my stories, liking and commenting on them, and for spending your precious time on my little space on the internet. The daily growth of my blog is a huge encouragement. Having you say you enjoy my stories, whether new or old, whether original or fanfic, really makes my day. Thank you so much for being my reader and I hope you will continue to support me as I tread the waters of this big ocean of writers.

Thank you!

Now apart from my little gratitude segment, I would also like to announce that I will be releasing a new book in May. No, this is not The Battle For Oz, but another spin off.

If you have been following me since 2013, you would have remembered the blog series called Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. It was written based off C. S Lewis’ book, Screwtape Letters. This year, I was happy to discover that C. S Lewis officially entered the public domain. Which means, I can now self-publish Dr. Slubgob’s Letters!

Of course, my writing style has changed since 2013. So, I’m spending a lot of time editing, editing, and editing this piece of work. Once I’m done, I’ll convert it into a novella. I also have a graphic designer friend working on the book cover. The moment both parts of the book are ready, I’ll put it for sale. Don’t worry, there will also be a giveaway.

The reason why I decided to ‘re-publish’ Dr. Slubgob’s Letters is because The Battle For Oz is still in the process of publication. It has just completed the editing stage and will take a while before it hits the shelves. I wanted to give you something else to read before that book is published.

My plans for my unpublished works has changed since The Battle For Oz was successfully crowd-funded. I might even crowd-fund another novel in the future but for now, I’m just going with the flow. I hope The Battle For Oz will propel me forward as an author and give me a chance to play with the big boys soon. So, if you’re interested in checking the book out, please do so. It’s on Inkshares, Amazon, and a few other online bookstores if you would like to pre-order it.

791 copies have been pre-ordered so far – only 209 before I hit the 1k mark! Would you lend a hand? It’s a milestone I have yet to achieve 🙂

Anyway, there will be more news to come as time goes by. For now, know that I’m releasing a novella soon. I don’t want to write a short story out of this, so I’ll end it here. Once again, thank you so much for your support and readership. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a good weekend and continue to stay awesome!