My Self-Publishing Journey (three weeks from launch)

My fantasy novel, The Shadow Watch, is now up for pre-order on Amazon. I have received my proofs, and I am wrapping up my final-final read of the book, IN PRINT. ARCs are sent off. The early reviews are trickling in on Goodreads. All this hard work for the past two years is nearly done.

And my stomach is full of butterflies, as I wait to see what happens with my first published novel.

But already I have reached some really cool milestones.

 

I saw my book in print for the first time – Holy Crap! I cannot tell you what an amazing experience this was. It has been my dream for so many years. As I read through the opening chapters, I was holding back tears (and I am not much of a crier). But there is nothing like holding your own book for the first time.

 

I got my first US sale AND my first international sale too – This was a pretty crazy feeling. I have been writing for years, wondering if anything would ever come of it. I posted the first draft on Wattpad originally. But the fact that someone (in Germany, no less) was willing to shell out hard-earned cash for something I wrote was a pretty cool experience.

 

I got my first review on Goodreads (um, and my novel is on freaking Goodreads!) – I built a Launch Team from my readership on Wattpad. I had heard many stories that few Wattpad followers turn into readers beyond Wattpad, as that readership is used to free books. So I decided to invite them to join me in a different (and still free) way. Reviews are huge for a first-time novel (or any novel for that matter), so I figured I would give the final version to those readers for free in hopes they would give me some of those initial reviews. And that has really paid off. Those readers were very eager to be involved in the launch, and many have already begun posting their reviews on Goodreads.

 

And I got my first Booktuber reviewThis was an unexpected one. A couple wonderful young women approached me (through Wattpad) to review the book, and it was absolutely incredible to hear someone fangirl over my book for like 20 MINUTES, talking about these characters that have become like family members to me. Very surreal! Be advised, if you have not read the book yet, there are spoilers after the first 4 or 5 minutes.

 

In three weeks, even more firsts will begin!

 

In the meantime, you can pre-order THE SHADOW WATCH here!

 

Behind the Scenes of My Fantasy Novel – “The Shadow Watch”

The following is a behind the scenes look at my new fantasy novel The Shadow Watch, coming out on May 15, as well as a glance at things to come after the Shadow Watch series. The questions came from an interview for a group on Wattpad.

 

How did you come up with the title of your book?

The Shadow Watch title came early on in the writing process. I think I called the book The Watchers first. I knew that my magically gifted warriors were going to be called Watchers from the start, and the Shadow Watch quickly became the title of the rebel army for which the book takes its name. As soon as I came up with the army, I knew that was the title, and it stuck.

Why did you choose to have multiple perspectives  instead of just one?

This came about unintentionally. I originally set out to write only from Tori’s perspective. But the story had a mind of its own. I reached a certain point, and I realized that I needed to see what was going on with Darien in the Legion army. And then, the same happened for Kale and his whole plight amongst the Yan Avii developed.

Looking back, I don’t think the story could have been told any other way. Two more perspectives have joined the fray in Book 2. So, I guess I chose multiple perspectives because it merely felt right in the process. I also love multi-POV fantasy stories. I tend to get bored with one character after a while. Maybe that bled into my writing.

Is there any symbolism you worked into the book that you’d like to discuss?

Hmmmm. I don’t know if I would go as far as intentional symbolism. There are certainly parallels between the world of the Shadow Watch and our own. There are a few nods to various mythologies and cultures from our world, which may stand out if you look closely.

If you could pick some “theme songs” for the book, what would they be and why?
The Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed soundtracks capture the mood of the book very well. Skyrim for the mountainous scenes, and Assassin’s Creed for the desert city ones.


Do you have any “theme songs” for the characters?

The entire album Beneath the Skin by Of Monsters and Men always makes me think of Darien. The song “Organs” is especially powerful. It is about someone coming apart from within in the wake of things going wrong. It really captures him as he transforms from an idealistic rebel into a servant of the enemy. I listened to it a lot as I was writing his perspective.


What are some of the main themes or ideas you explore within the book?

The main struggle is between oppressed groups and empire, a narrative that is sadly very relevant in the world today. There are themes of colonialism prevalent as well. The seduction of power and the attractiveness of the powerful is certainly a recurring theme. Tragic pasts shape most of my characters. The dark side of love is something that interests me and shows up a lot in my writing. It fascinates me the way the people we care for can be used against us.

One thing I really tried to make a point to capture was the complexity of human motivations. All my characters have good and bad qualities, and they make good and bad choices. Even the chancellor (the primary villain) is not all bad, and he has definite reasons for being the way he is, something that is explored more as the series goes on.

What are some themes/concepts/ideas you’re interested in writing about in general?

I would love to explore more family dynamics. You see that to an extent with Kale and Ren in The Shadow Watch, but most of my characters have been separated from their families and so that dynamic is not as prevalent. I would love to explore a more complex family dynamic, where all the members (including parents) are still alive and prominent in the story, particularly one where culture and honor are very important and create lots of potential for conflict. That’s my vision for my next project.

I also want to get more creative in the potential for “strangeness” in a fantasy world. Most fantasy settings (including my own) tend to pretty closely mirror Earth cultures, landscapes, etc. My dream would be to explore a setting that feels totally new, the way Sanderson does in the Stormlight Archive. I’ve got an idea brewing now for my next series, and it explores a fantasy world that is tidally locked with its sun (like our Moon is locked with Earth), so that one side of the world is always light, and one is always dark. I’m really excited to explore what kind of mythologies, creatures, and culture might develop on such a world. But it is still very much in development, and on the backburner until I finish the Shadow Watch series.

 

The Shadow Watch is now available for Pre-order here.

My Fantasy Cover Reveal

It has been a crazy journey for The Shadow Watch, but now all this work is paying off. My cover is complete and the book is now available for pre-order on Amazongoo.gl/fqTdYy

TSW eBook non-publish

 

The cover was far more work than I anticipated, and I didn’t do any of the real work. There were so many things to think through. I had no idea how involved the illustration process was, and that was an amazing thing to learn. I have so much appreciation for cover designers.

This illustration went through about 9 phases of development, which was amazing because I was able to offer input and think through what I wanted throughout the process. The result was more than I could have hoped for. I am in love with this cover!

The illustration was done by the amazing Gwenn Danae. And the typography was done by Stefanie Saw. Check out their work. I highly recommend them both.

It was incredible to see this character I’ve written so much about come to life, and I am so glad I opted for the custom illustration route for this cover.

The book releases on MAY 15.

So excited to send my book out into the world!

And especially excited to have it going out in such style!

Finding a Great Cover Artist for your Indie Book

The cover is one of the biggest selling points for any book. It is the trailer, the advertisement. It is what draws in the reader. It tells them what genre the book is at a glance and, whether we like it or not, it indicates the caliber of book that lies within. That is why traditional publishers often shell out thousands of dollars for the cover artwork and design.

Which is daunting when you are heading down the Indie path.

Yes, there are rare exceptions. Hugh Howey’s original Wool cover was low-quality. Andy Weir’s The Martian cover was just a stock image of Mars. But those are anomalies that overcame their cover’s deficiencies because the books inside were incredible. Don’t bank on that. They got lucky, and they will tell you that.

If you are looking at the people who are making a decent living at this indie publishing thing, you will immediately notice that they are willing to shell out some cash for a solid cover.

If you have any money at all to put upfront towards your book, I would recommend throwing it at your cover before anything else.

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Now, that doesn’t mean you have to blow $1000+ on a book designer. Don’t just Google “book cover designers” and pick the first one that pops up. It is probably over-priced. If you have that kind of money and want to throw it at your book upfront, go for it. But it is not necessary to spend that much.

What I have found, after spending hours upon hours looking for my own artist, is that there are amazing covers available for about $200-300 or so, if you look in the right places, and are willing to take your time.

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How to Find a Good Artist

 Like I said, I would avoid simply Googling. Go somewhere where people are talking about cover art specifically for Indies, and even more specifically, your genre.

  • Kboards is a great place to start. Cover designers advertise there, and you can get information from people in the forums who have already worked with these artists. Ask those authors about the experience, how much they paid, etc. Look at the covers that various artists created for those prices. Look at how well that book is selling on Amazon.
  • DeviantArt is a great place to find great artists, some established, some who are trying to get their foot in the door of the business. Search for covers in your genre, and contact the artists to find out their pricing. You will likely find some amazing artists for a good price.
  • Find top-selling Indie books on Amazon, and glance through their copywrite page at the front of the “Look-Inside” section. Most authors give credit to their artist there. Look up that artist and find out their pricing. That is how I found my artist. A guy I followed on Twitter released his book, and I absolutely loved the cover. I went to look for the artist, went to her website, looked her up on DeviantArt, emailed her, and ended up booking an original illustration for a low price for an entirely original cover (no stock photos).

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Working with an Artist

Once you’ve found an artist for the price you are willing to pay, and their schedule is open for your timeframe, the real work begins. I put together a very thorough artist’s brief about what I wanted, and my illustrator was grateful that I was specific about what I wanted. This is your cover. Communicate what you want it to look like.

  • Do yourself and the artist a favor, and do your research. Find comparable covers that match the tone or layout that you want for your own cover.
  • Have a character you want depicted? Be sure to include a physical description of that character. Find models or photographs that match how you imagine they look. Consider things like stance, facial expression, clothing, skin tone, etc.
  • Find images or illustrations that capture the setting in a comparable way, whether specific features or a general mood.
  • Is there a scene you want depicted? Or a description that captures your character or setting well? Include that excerpt from your book. It may add some helpful context and even provide inspiration.

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A Few Things the Artist Definitely Should Do for You

  • They should give several stages for revisions once the design process has begun. Find someone who wants the end-product to be what you want.
  • All payment should not occur until you are happy with the finished product. Generally, a good artist will ask you to pay about half upfront, and the other half once the cover is finished.
  • The artist should have experience with your genre. Don’t hire an artist who specializes in Romance covers, if you are publishing a Space Opera, etc.

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Best of luck as you search out your own cover artist. If you are willing to put in the work, and a little money, you can have a high-quality cover that will help you sell many copies of your book.

My Process for Writing Fantasy

[I did this interview for an online fantasy community about my writing process, how to break writer’s block, my favorite mythical creature and more…]

  1. What inspired your novel, The Shadow Watch, and how long did it take to complete it?

The original, and most basic, inspiration came from an idea I had many years ago, a sort of loose re-imagining of angelic beings. The Watchers in The Shadow Watch were once this sort of guardian order of magically gifted people, who could fly, and who tried to keep peace in the world until some of them sought power and brought about a magical apocalypse. The second inspiration came from an image of a gallows in a city square, and two slaves forced to build it. This image led to the event that catapults Tori, the MC, onto her journey in the story. 

I wrote the first 8,000 words or so of The Shadow Watch separately from the rest of the book. I had some inspiration and hurried to get it down in the matter of a couple weeks. I let the story lie for about 5 months until I had time to start being serious about it, and until I had a better idea for where the story was going to go. That was when I started posting it to Wattpad, and I finished it about 7 months later.

2.How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story in middle school, I think. It was about a sleepwalking serial killer, and it was terrible. But I really discovered my love for writing during my freshman year of college. I had an amazing professor who praised my narrative essays, and that got me thinking that writing was something I was good at. I started pursuing fiction during my sophomore year when I took a creative writing class. I’ve been writing fiction for about 8 years now.

3.Which one of your characters is your favorite to write?

My favorite is probably Kale. He is an exiled sorcerer with a tragic past, who faces some very tough decisions. His perspective comes to me easier than any others, though I’m not sure why. His voice just kind of breathes onto the page, and I’m always excited to write from his perspective. He’s kind of a loner, so perhaps I can relate to that, since I’m pretty introverted.

4.What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I’ll offer four things:

  • The biggest piece of advice I can give is to keep at it, and make it a habit. When I make myself write everyday, I produce my best writing. It’s hard to get good if you do it sporadically, or never finish a project.
  • Finish that first novel, learn from the process, and be willing to set it aside and move on to the next thing. It took me awhile to do that with my first novel. But it was the best thing I ever did.
  • Try to take every failure or rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer.
  • Keep reading good books, and make note of what those writers do well. And then, keep writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get.

5.What tips/guidelines do you use for developing unique and in-depth characters?

Like most basic plotlines, I don’t think there are many truly original characters out there. You can often boil them down to tropes: the boy or girl who discovers a power, the warrior princess, the unloved sibling, the brainy sidekick, or whatever. What makes a character unique is how YOU paint that character with your own flare, that in-depth aspect, and the way they relate to their world.

I try to see the world through my characters’ eyes. That is what makes a story and the world of a story come alive. I try to really get at their motivations and let their backstories really influence their thoughts and reactions to events in the story. That is a learned process that I am still growing at every day. But knowing what motivates your character, knowing what they want and what they are willing to do to get it, is what makes a character in-depth and relatable, even if they are an antagonist or an anti-hero, like some of my characters.

6.How do you personally get over the bane of any author’s existence, writer’s block?

I know it is simplistic, but eventually, as Stephen King says, I have to sit my butt in the chair and write, and there is no way around it. Sometimes I just have to slog through a tough scene, even if I don’t like the outcome, and get past it, and then go back later.

That being said, sometimes I do need a break from my story world, so I can come back to it with fresh eyes, and sometimes that is exactly what my stories need. I let myself take a break sometimes, and I play around with other ideas.

My advice is: Sit your butt in the chair and try something else, if it is just not coming. Too often, writer’s block can become an excuse to stop the habit. Play around with that horror idea on the backburner, or some poetry, or whatever it is. Write a blog. Write something. Don’t break the habit, if you can help it. One day, the inspiration for that main project will return.

7.How did you develop the finer details of your world?

The world of The Shadow Watch developed as I wrote the first draft. I didn’t sit down and lay out the details for years like Tolkien. I’m more of a pantser than a planner. So, I let the story bring out those aspects of the world as the story demanded. I discovered cultures and mythology as they came up or seemed necessary to the story. I started small and expanded as the characters ventured out. Then, when the first draft was done, I wrote out some brief general statements about the cultures and lore I’d created, and I expanded on those a little bit. Not at all exhaustive, but it sort of cemented some of those important things in my mind. Then, as I worked through the many drafts to come, I fine-tuned the world building and fleshed those ideas out more.

8.What’s your favorite aspect about high fantasy?

I love magic, but I also love fantasy, like Game of Thrones, with very little magic in it. I would say my favorite aspect is really the worlds. I love the politics and history and cultures of fantasy worlds. I love being transported to someplace else. And I love how the characters in high fantasy often sway the trajectory of their entire world.

9.If you could be any mythological creature, what would you choose and why?

Hmmm… I love dragons. I am not entirely sure whether I would want to be one, but I will go with it, because dragons are pretty awesome. 

10.What’s your main motivator for completing your novel?

Honestly, if I had not started posting to Wattpad, and been forced to stick to the twice-a-week update schedule I gave myself, I think it would have taken me much longer to finish The Shadow Watch. I was motivated because my readers wanted to know what happened next, and I wanted to surprise them and hear their reactions to the ending. I think there is a lot of power in putting your work out there for people to read. Similarly, the decision to self-publish The Shadow Watch has really motivated my edits and progress on Book 2.

 

My Fantasy World Map Reveal

Thanks for joining me as I chronicle My Self-Publishing Journey for my epic fantasy, THE SHADOW WATCH. In Part One, I outlined my reasons for pursuing this avenue of publishing over the traditional publishing model.

Many things are quickly falling into place, as I lay the groundwork for the self-publication process. My editor and cover artist have been booked, and most recently, I commissioned a beautiful world map for THE SHADOW WATCH.

The New World Complete

All this fell together much more quickly than I expected. I had originally planned to work with another artist, who ran over $500, whom I discovered on a thread on Kboards. I did not like the idea of spending quite that much, but I had a hard time finding an artist I liked for much cheaper. I also want this book to be as professional as possible, and let’s be honest, for epic fantasy, a detailed world map is an expectation.

Then, I stumbled upon an online thread that mentioned that there are several quality Map Artists on DeviantArt for very reasonable prices. I checked it out and stumbled upon the very impressive work of Sebastian Breit (check out his work here). And he was able to begin immediately.

[A Self-Pub Lesson Learned: You can find high quality work for a good price, if you are willing to look. Spend a little more time researching before booking a commissioned artist. Find a price that fits your budget and quality standards. Had I not been browsing some threads on Kboards, I would have ended up spending several hundred dollars more than I wanted to. This goes for cover artists, as well. I highly recommend Deviant Art, by the way.]

I am incredibly pleased with this map, and the turn-around time was only about a week. I was blown away as this world I’ve written about and poorly sketched on printer paper quickly turned into a detailed world.

Considering I will be writing at least 3 books in this world, the upfront cost of one map is totally worth every penny, in my opinion.

Let me know what you think of the map!

And stay tuned for more about my Self-Publishing Journey.

 

 

Best,

S.A. Klopfenstein

 

Why I’ve Decided to Self-Publish

self_publishing_word_cloud

This post is the first of many that will chronicle my journey in self-publishing…

Feel free to weigh in, if you have insight, or ask any questions about the process as I set out. I plan to layout the various steps I am taking, as I take them, from finding designers and editors, to marketing and mailing lists and ARCs and so on and so forth…

First of all, to start, I guess: why did I choose self-publishing?

Self-publishing is an idea I have toyed around with for the past few years, particularly since running across Hugh Howey’s blog posts a couple years ago about the benefits of it, particularly concerning royalties. When I first began posting my story to Wattpad, I did it with the idea of self-pubbing in mind. But once I finished my latest story, I felt the compulsion to test out the query waters again. My novel, The Shadow Watch, had seen relatively impressive success on Wattpad, and I still longed for the validation of the traditional community, so I sent out some queries.

For the past 8-ish months (I sent a couple test rounds, and then hit it hardest around July), I was in the query trenches. Around July, I got my query and first chapter to a point where I was getting full requests. Around the same time, I also entered in the Ink and Insights writing contest and was selected as one of the Top Master Winners, and received great feedback from the editors in the contest. Several said it was of publishable-quality. But nothing came of that, or the agent requests. But I began hearing a trend: “Your writing is great. I connect with the characters, but the project is not quite right for me.”

Now, I know some will say that I barely dipped my feet into the subbing process. And I know that is true. I was in the trenches with my last novel too. And honestly, I think I wasted too much time on the whole process, before finally shelving that project. It held me back from moving on. Ultimately, with this book, I grew tired of the process, and did not have the patience to spend a year, or more, in the trenches again, in hopes that my novel would land in the right hands (a good chunk of agents never even responded). I, by no means, say that to knock trad or the query process, but it just didn’t do it for me…

Meanwhile, I have watched the fantasy market a lot this year, and there are a couple things I’ve realized.

One: my story is not quite what the trad market seems to be after right now.

Two: my story seems to fit along well with indie titles that are performing well on Amazon.

So, after much deliberation, I decided to read the writing on the walls and accept that trad appears to be looking for other things right now, but that there is still a market for my type of story in the self-pub world. I could wait around and hope, or I could go for it with self-pub, and that’s what I decided to do…

Everyone decides to self-publish for slightly different reasons, but here are a few factors I weighed:

  1. Success (Trad): Trad publishing does not generate a lot of bestsellers for new authors. Advances are low and print runs are short for the typical author. In other words, I could wait a long time, revising and querying, and even if I landed an agent and a deal, the chances of it panning out are low. I heard recently the average advance is hovering around $6000…
  2. Success (Indie): While self-pub bears similarly low odds of success, there are some major differences. Most notably, print runs… if my book does not become a quick bestseller in the trad world, or at least enough to earn out the advance, plus some, after six months or so, it comes off shelves and that is the end. With self-pub, I don’t need to earn out an advance with book one. If I earn enough to pay for book 2, I will consider it a success. And it never leaves the shelf. And I maintain the rights.
  3. Control: With self-pub, I get lots of control. The more I have delved into the ins and outs of putting a book together, the more I like this. I choose my cover artist. I choose my editor. I choose the text layout. Etc. But even more importantly, I choose price. I choose when I want to run a discount promotion, or I want to buy an ad, or seek out a book review blogger. This is daunting to many, and it was for me too, but I have found that there are so many resources out there for indie authors, once you start looking for them.
  4. Royalties: Perhaps the biggest factor is royalties. I can price my books at a reasonable rate, sell fewer books through self-pub, and make more money. There are plenty of bloggers who have written far better explanations for this. But ultimately, this sold me. I believe there is a market for my type of story, and if I can tap into that market, I think I can sell a few books.
  5. The Fantasy Market: The more I’ve looked at the Amazon fantasy lists, the more I’ve realized how many of those top spots are staked out by indies. I’ve read some posts about how trad is doing a rather poor job at giving fantasy readers what they want, as they publish everything in fads (I think this is true for all genres, honestly), which don’t appeal to all readers. For example: trad is over dystopian, but there are dystopians doing just fine in the indie world. Take a look at the Fantasy ebook lists on Amazon (which even for heavyhitters composes about 50% of sales or more, I believe), and that certainly appears to be true. Yes, Sanderson and Martin and Rothfuss are atop those lists. But other than that, the scale seems to tilt far more towards indies. Not to say mine will join them, only that this seems to indicate that the industry is not the sole avenue to success, nor does a trad rejection (due to it not being “right for their list”) mean that the book won’t sell elsewhere.
  6. Small Publishers Don’t Cut It For Me: I considered subbing to several small publishers who accept subs from non-agented authors, but I decided against it, and here’s why: They don’t do anything I can’t do myself through putting a little money into it up front. There are plenty of publishers who offer a decent cover, basic editing, and if you’re lucky some decent marketing. Most these days don’t pay out an advance, though. Brandon Sanderson has cautioned against taking any deal that doesn’t include an advance, because essentially it shows that the publisher won’t be giving you all the things they should: strong editing, an impressive cover, and a solid marketing campaign. So I decided against any of these options. I can get a comparable cover artist and editor (if not better) for less than $1000 investment. But in exchange, I keep all the rights, and I get waaay better royalties.
  7. My Personal Preference: Ultimately, everyone has to weigh their own factors and determine what is best for them. But the more I thought about it, the more excited I felt about self-publishing, and the less excited I felt about continuing to query and wait.

So here goes nothing. I’m self-publishing…

 

Check out Part 2 of my journey here, where I discuss finding high quality freelance artists for a good price.

Pitch Wars 2017: Pimp My Bio

Hi! I’m Stephen. I am submitting to Pitch Wars for the first time with my YA dark fantasy THE SHADOW WATCH.

Here’s a mock cover:

Cover.png

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In a desperate attempt to save the boy she loves, Tori revealed forbidden magic before the entire empire. Now, she trains to lead a magical resistance. But the boy she loves is the monster sent to hunt her down.

OR

 

After magic hunters kill her family, Tori learns to walk the world in shadows, never drawing attention to herself, accepting the harsh life of an Oshan slave. But when the life of Darien, the boy she loves, is at stake, her magic reveals a mind of its own. In a spectacular display of power, Tori unwittingly defies her ruler and the ancient laws forbidding magic. But rather than face execution, Tori soon finds herself in the middle of a dark game of magic, monsters, and politics that could send her world careening toward another magical apocalypse.

Being one of the last surviving magical Watchers is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the Chancellor of Osha wants to harvest her blood for his own dark schemes, but he’s not the only one who sees political advantage in her powers. Enter a revolutionary who wants to use her famed magical defiance as the catalyst to restore the power and greatness of the magical Watchers. He can’t be trusted, but he is also devilishly good-looking and hard to resist. To make things worse, Tori’s efforts to save Darien have only resulted in turning him into one of the Chancellor’s very own magic hunters. And his mission is to hunt her down. Tori must soon choose between love and revolution, between survival and the lives of everyone she cares for, before the Chancellor unleashes a monstrous scheme to take back the crumbling empire his forefathers lost. And her blood is the key to it all.

Book Highlights:

  • Action-packed plot
  • Political intrigue, treachery, and rebellion
  • Multi-POV
  • Diverse cast and vivid cultures and strong LGBT characters
  • Characters driven more by self-preservation than ideals
  • Tragic anti-heroes
  • Love-to-hate villainy and manipulation
  • Monsters, muskets, sabers, and blood magic
  • Heroine of color

 

A BIT ABOUT ME:

stephen (low q)

 

I studied English Writing & Communication at Black Hills State University, in South Dakota. Then, I got my Master’s in English Education. Now, I teach Middle School Language Arts.

I’ve been writing YA fantasy novels for years, and hold onto the dream of seeing something I wrote in bookstores.

 

RECENT BOOK LOVES:

  • Six of Crows (duh!)
    • along with the Grisha Trilogy!
  • Red Queen
  • GoT (Storm of Swords is the best)
  • Carve the Mark
  • Throne of Glass
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone

 

WHAT I WILL BE LIKE AS A MENTEE:

  • I am very, very open to critique and tearing my MS apart if need be. Make me kill my darlings. I will do whatever it takes.8c686004201624961fcced4dcd72640e--grammar-check-game-of-thrones-meme
  • I am an extremely hard worker and am looking for the opportunity to work with a mentor to make this story the best it can possibly be.

 

An Aesthetics Attempt:

AESTHETICS

 

Thanks for stopping by! Good luck everyone!

 

My Tipping Point on Wattpad

It has been nearly five months since I last talked about Wattpad. Yikes!!

Sadly, at the very moment things began to take off for my book on Wattpad, I also entered one of the craziest seasons of my life — my first semester as a Middle School English teacher. It was all I could do to keep updating my story, and my blog updates got brushed aside.

teacher11

But now things are finally settling down, so I have to share what’s happened.

In the past 5 months, my fantasy, THE SHADOW WATCH, went from 8K reads to 106K reads! The first 8K reads took four months. Now, I am averaging 1K reads per day. Ironically, I was also far more active on threads and reading other people’s work when my reads were lower.

I felt I had a good story going, but needless to say, I was blown away when the reads started compounding.

For those of you just getting started, keep at it! I believe that if your writing is of quality and you post regularly, you will get noticed in time. Being more active last fall probably would have helped my cause further, but such is life…

Today, I thought I would share about my tipping points on Wattpad. Points when my readership suddenly shot up to a new level, and the book became more visible.

THE MAGICAL 10,000 READS!

Up until August, my reads averaged around 100 a day. At that time, I was posting at least twice a week. The day I crossed the 10K read mark changed things. I had 500 reads that day, and began averaging between 200-600 reads nearly every day that month. There were some outlier slow days. But simply crossing that threshold seemed to make my book more clickable, as I hadn’t changed anything else. All of a sudden, the reads and votes came flooding in at a much higher rate. I had more reads in August than I’d had altogether before that.

In September, I was forced to slow down my twice-a-week chapter posting schedule due to my crazy workload. Yet, still the reads held. Each month, the reads increased, but generally, I averaged somewhere around 400-600 reads per day for the entire fall.

I finished posting the book at the beginning of November. By that time, I had reached 50K reads. I was so burnt out from work and trying to keep up with writing, I hardly showed my face on Wattpad until mid-December, other than to respond to reader comments every couple weeks. In spite of the inactivity, my reads continued to hold.

That brings me to my next tipping point…

90K Craziness

I had begun to think my book had reached a threshold it would not pass until I managed to get the book featured on Wattpad (sadly, a few days ago, I discovered that my August application did not go through correctly, so that will have to wait). But this proved untrue.

After about 3 months of the same 500 reads or so a day, by the end of December my reads reached 90K. On Dec. 28, after crossing 90K, I had my first 1K read day. I have had 1K + reads every day since (minus one 900 day).

This has proven to be yet again, a tipping point for THE SHADOW WATCH.

While, I would not go so far as to argue this is the rule of Wattpad, for me, hitting those two points marked sudden, sharp increases in reads that held steady afterwards. I wonder what the next tipping point is?

I hope this is helpful to you! I have written a couple posts about the benefits of posting to Wattpad, benefits that I saw before I attained any level of success. And they hold true.

I have received no calls from agents due to hitting 100K reads on Wattpad. I know people who are pushing 1M reads, and are still having trouble finding representation in the traditional world. I have a friend who had a Featured Book with 200K+ reads who decided to self-publish and is seeing awesome results on Amazon now. I am working on a new draft of TSW at the moment, and plan to query some agents in the next couple months, and we’ll see what happens.

I do not think Wattpad is a path to publication, at least not typically. And I would still discourage people from approaching it with that mindset.

But I will say that it is a great experience to have your work read and loved by readers of your genre. Posting to Wattpad helped me finish THE SHADOW WATCH much faster than I probably would have. It also helped me keep the tension high throughout the book (a post for another day). Hitting those milestones (the first 2K reads, the first 10K, and the first 100K) have all been huge confidence boosts for my writing.

We’ll see what 2017 holds for TSW, both on and off Wattpad.

But either way, it was a great decision to try posting it there, and I personally would recommend giving it a try. At the very least, I guarantee you will connect with some cool people.

 

Keep on writing!

Stephen

 

Why You Should Post a Story on Wattpad

20814-1Okay, if you have been following my Wattpad experience at all, you know I am still new to the site, but I have been chronicling my experience for anyone out there who is on Wattpad or is considering using the site.

Last time, I talked about how to build a readership on Wattpad.

Now, I am going to talk about why Wattpad is worth your time as a writer, and how you can hopefully get the most out of it.

But first, an update on my personal progress.

I have been posting twice a week for about 4 months now, and the momentum continues to build. If you’re a person who cares about stats (and Wattpaders tend to watch their stats pretty religiously), here are mine: my fantasy novel, THE SHADOW WATCH, has reached 8.3K reads and 1030 votes. The first couple months brought me to about 2.5K reads, the next month saw that many in one month, and now I am averaging about 100 reads per day (all-time high was 250 about a week ago, which was fun). I am also typically ranked in the top 200 in Wattpad Fantasy (high of #88 a couple weeks ago)

A few factors that [may or may not] have helped along with a steady increase in dedicated readers:

  1. THE SHADOW WATCH got added to a list on Wattpad’s Fantasy profile, which has led to a lot of users adding my story to their reading lists. I didn’t request the add, but apparently some HQ person discovered it and liked it.
  2. TSW also did well in several contests (I would highly recommend submitting your story to some contests! It is a great way to meet other writers, and to make your story more visible to more people. And it’s just fun!)
  3. I also got had a couple interview questionnaire thingies posted in preparation for the 2016 Watty Awards, which I did have to submit.

Possible factors that [may or may not] have detracted from further progress:

  1. I’ve had a busy summer and, while I have found time to keep at my writing every day (nearly), I have not been as active on forums and interacting with other users, outside of readers and a few writers I’ve connected with. In other words, I am not very actively networking and building online relationships right now.
  2. I’ve also not been reading as much on Wattpad, for the same busyness reason. How much that has affected things, I don’t know, but Wattpad is a social network and the more interaction, the better, I think.

So I want to get better about both of those.

So there you go, you can now discredit me as an amateur and move on to another blog, if you wish. If not, then read on, my friend.

As you’ve gathered, I am not a Wattpad star. Just another writer figuring out what writing looks like in the digital age. I think Wattpad is a fantastic tool for writers in that age. And I will tell you why…

But first of all, you should know that Wattpad is not a likely track toward publication.

What I mean is that you have probably read about the stars, and you’re right, it could happen to you. Your story could garner millions of reads and lead to an instant publication contract. But it probably won’t. In fact, some of the best writing on the site will not go viral, simply because it is not OneDirection fan fiction.

Most of the writers I have met on Wattpad (some of them being the top fantasy writers on the site) are going through the normal channels: write a book, query it, (hopefully) land an agent, and then follow the traditional publication path. In other words, the agents aren’t calling them at 2am, begging to represent it because they saw it went hot on Wattpad.

But that shouldn’t discourage you. Because Wattpad has lots of things to offer writers:

  1. Building readership — agents and publishers are asking about this more and more these days. Can you market yourself? Can you build a readership? If you write a good book and post it on Wattpad wisely, you can have thousands of people who are following you and care about your stories. That’s thousands more than the person who wrote a book in the closet and hasn’t even let their mom read it.
  2. Testing Grounds for your Book — Some people will tell you that Wattpad is not the spot to find beta readers. I would say that’s not true, but that you have to pay attention to who you listen to. There are lots of book clubs on Wattpad where writers will essentially trade feedback. Some of them are high-profile writers and Wattpad Ambassadors. Probably better than most beta readers I will find in my small town, and I can know who they are. On most beta sites, it is all anonymous, but on Wattpad, you can know who they are and determine how credible they are by reading their stuff and seeing the quality of their own writing. Normal readers will often leave reaction and feedback as they read, which can also be very useful. You can see things readers like and dislike about the plot. Was something too far-fetched? Too predictable? Was a scene confusing? They will often tell you.
  3. In-Line Comments — You can get real-time feedback from real readers of your genre. My novel, THE SHADOW WATCH, is teen fantasy. I am able to interact with teen readers, see what they like, what they hope will happen next, etc. I often have readers shipping (a term I learned from readers, which means they hope they end up together, in case your out of touch like me) different characters. This doesn’t change the plot, but may remind me not to forget about my romantic subplots, because readers like a little romance in fantasy. I also have readers who catch typos. I proofread quite a bit, but I still am human, and I miss things. Pretty helpful to have hundreds of eyes on your work.
  4. Connecting with other Writers — Writing can be a lonely endeavor. But the community of writers on Wattpad is typically very kind and sincere. I had several major Wattpad fantasy writers who welcomed me gladly as a newb to the site. Writers often trade feedback and encourage each other regularly. It’s not a narcissistic site. Obviously, we all want to succeed, but on Wattpad, writers are rooting for one another. They also often shout-out other writer’s works to their followers. Pay it forward, folks! Writers are also keen to help each other out with plotting and ideas. When I wrote a large scale battle scene (my first attempt at it), I asked some writers in the forums for time period information, battle strategies, and weaponry, and received wonderful tips and information. That scene turned out infinitely better the first time around as a result. Writers are also supportive of endeavors beyond Wattpad, and are keen to share their experiences with agents, self-publishing, querying, etc. It is great to have a network of writers who are so helpful and supportive. Go be part of it 🙂

 

All right, I know that’s not exhaustive, but it is all for now.

Are you a Wattpader? What do you love about the site? Why do YOU think it is a useful site?

LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

 

 

If you want to check out my story you can follow the image link below: 65367089-368-k310254