Vote for THE SHADOW WATCH in the Epic Fantasy Fanatics contest

Hello friends of the Shadow Watch!

I am really excited to announce that The Shadow Watch has been entered in the Epic Fantasy Fanatics contest!

It is up against some incredible indie books, such as the Arcane series by Sever Bronny, the Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson, among many other big hitters in the indie world.

Placing in this contest could not only mean some real exposure in the indie publishing world, but also a little cash.

If you’ve enjoyed the series in any of its forms (or just want to support!), I have a huge favor to ask of you.

In order to be eligible for the Judges Round, TSW needs 100 nominations.

It would mean the world to me, if you took a few moments to nominate it. If you have Facebook, it only takes (literally) a few seconds.

Click this link: https://epicfantasyfanatics.com/the-shadow-watch-sa-klopfenstein/?fbclid=IwAR366kWKbINaVRsIa1wJGotkYyFtexEngJj5pj-PhLlLDvdXmE4UdNtyN_k

Thanks so much for all of your support of this series!

Cheers!

S.A. Klopfenstein

Cover Reveal: The Rage of Saints (Shadow Watch Book 2)

Very excited to reveal the stunning cover for my next novel, The Rage of Saints! This is book 2 of The Shadow Watch series, and if you loved book 1, I think you will love this one even more!

Official Release Date: March 26

Pre-Order now available here.

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Blurb: 

The Shadow Watch has been undone. Their captain lies in the dungeons of the White Citadel, and the Gallows Girl has disappeared. Most of the surviving Watchers have joined the chancellor’s new magical army, the Sky Guard, led by Darien Redvar, but the Gallows Boy is shaken from the return of the monsters of the Old World, and he must soon choose, once and for all, where his loyalties lie.

Tori and Mischa trek to the Great White North with an Alyut shaman, who believes Tori is the one who will bring Restoration to his people. A resistance is growing in the North, but Tori may not be the god the people are looking for, and the price of revolution may cost Tori her heart as well as her life.

Meanwhile, another threat grows in strength. Old World monsters are rising up across the New World, and no one knows how they’ve returned. As nations ready themselves for a magical war, their return threatens to change everything.

New alliances are set in place, new friendships are forged, new loves kindled. But no one is safe, for there can be no war without betrayal.

 

My Self-Publishing Diary (Week One Rundown)

Here are some reflections on my first week in self-publishing:
Week One of the launch of my first book, THE SHADOW WATCH, has been a blast, as well as a huge learning experience! Went into this with a small ARC team and I’m mostly postponing advertising until I get more reviews. Did a 99c deal for ebooks over the weekend, which was a nice rank boost.
 
Results:
Paperback – 37
Ebook – 32
KU – 2130
 
Highlights:
– Already broke 3 figures for this month, which is really exciting!
– Tons of support from friends and family, some of whom I’ve lost touch with. It’s been really cool to receive so much encouragement and excitement and boosting from all of them!
– Lots of support from local community, did an interview for local paper, and getting stocked in the local indie store this week.
 
Discoveries:
– Reviews on international Amazon sites don’t carry over. So several ARC reviews unfortunately don’t show on the all-important Amazon.com, which is frustrating starting out, but oh well.
– Ad clicks often don’t translate to sales. Dabbled with some FB ads but will probably hold off any more until more reviews trickle in. Led to some sales, but I don’t know that it’s worth it yet
All in all, I am really happy with the launch. There were things I hoped would go better. I was definitely hoping for more reviews out of the gate, but so it goes.
Can’t wait to see what’s to come in the weeks ahead…
THE SHADOW WATCH is available here: 

My Self Publishing Diary (Launch Day)

It has been a couple days since the launch of my first self-published novel, THE SHADOW WATCH, a YA epic fantasy.

Some quick background: I enrolled in KDP Select, so my Ebook is only available through Amazon. I published my paperback through Createspace, and though I may branch out later, right now, it is only available through Amazon, or at a local bookstore. I ran one small Facebook ad, but otherwise I am waiting until a few more reviews land before I settle into a marketing scheme.

It has been a couple days since my book released. Overall, it was an amazing experience, though still filled with some anxiety and stress, inevitable feelings when you are putting a piece of writing out there for the world to see. And I learned a lot quickly from the process.

Here are some reflections and observations about my experience on Day One of my self publication process:

  1. No amount of prep or editing ever feels like enough to be ready for Launch Day – I hired an editor, went through dozens of rounds of edits, worked with critique partners and betas, and quadruple checked my final formatted manuscript before hitting publish. But I was still nervous that something would go wrong. I’ve heard Chris Martin of Coldplay once said that no song was ever finished. It merely stopped being written. I feel that way about books as well. I am beyond thrilled with my end product, but I could have nitpicked it to death if I let myself. But having a hard publication date made me stop and move on to Book 2, which was a good thing for me because I can tend to over-edit. It was a nerve-racking feeling to officially be done with this book, but very much worth it to put it out there.
  2. Something will probably go wrong on Launch Day, just roll with it – My fantasy world has a world map. A beautiful one commissioned by the amazing Sebastian Breit. I formatted it to print on two pages, and with a couple trials, got it right in my Printed Proof copy. But I ran into a last minute snafu with Createspace’s proofing system when I re-uploaded the final version of the text. It skewed my image, and I had to have their technical team fix it (which due to the fact they don’t work weekends, ran me all the way to the wire in getting the print copy ready on time). It was stressful, but the print version launched in sync with the Kindle version. Though sadly I couldn’t order copies for the local indie store. Those will arrive a little late. So it goes.
  3. Forgetting something will not ruin the Launch, just breathe – There are so many things to prepare and anticipate before launching a book. Inevitably you will probably forget something. I forgot to set up my Author Central page on Amazon, something I’d intended to do weeks ago. Another writer kindly pointed it out, and I fixed it quickly.
  4. Reviews probably won’t come as fast as you want (which is instantaneous) – Even with an ARC team of awesome readers, reviews did not shoot up out of the gate on Amazon. I had many ARC readers leave Goodreads reviews. Amazon reviews have proven trickier. Firstly, you have to be an Amazon customer who has purchased $50 previously. No problem for some. But some people don’t drink the Amazon kool-aid. Also, international reviews don’t show up on Amazon.com. My launch team is international. I had several reviewers who left lovely reviews in the UK, India, and Germany, which only readers shopping on those respective Amazon sites can see. So it goes. I stressed about it a bit, because I really wanted more reviews on Amazon.com right away, but I got over it.
  5. Don’t check your rankings every FIVE MINUTES – I am sure this is the case for most people launching their first book, but I was addicted to seeing sales appear and rank change on Amazon. It made for a stressful day. And in the days since, I have quickly realized that it is not worth it to check so often.
  6. Ebook and Paperback don’t sync right away on Amazon – I did not realize this until Launch Day, but apparently it can take up to 72 hours for this sync up. I was not crazy about this, but it is what it is.
  7. Enjoy it, I wrote a freaking book – I learned to try to enjoy the moment, and let all the things go that I cannot control. I wrote a book I am proud of! And that is truly enough for now.

 

Overall, I was happy with the results of DAY ONE. Though, of course, many were family and friends. But hey, people want to read something I wrote.

Ebooks: 15

Paperback: 20

KU: 0 (this did not kick in until DAY TWO; not sure if it was delayed, but now on Day 3 I’ve had well over 1000 page reads, so I am not too worried about it)

THE SHADOW WATCH is available on Amazon

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My Indie Fantasy Novel is now Published!

It is officially my book’s birthday!

After two years of hard work, my epic fantasy novel THE SHADOW WATCH is now out in the world!

I cannot believe that the day has finally come, and I can’t tell you how many butterflies came as I hit “Publish.”

DAY ONE has been a fun day! I will post more soon about my reflections, good and bad for my Launch, but for right now, I am just sitting back and watching it play out.

It is pretty surreal to think that something I wrote is now out there for people to read!

THE SHADOW WATCH is available on in Ebook and Paperback through Amazon KDP.

TSW eBook non-publish

THE SHADOW WATCH

For centuries, the Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood. The Watchers have been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth. But the heart of magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will determine the fate of the world…

Tori Burodai, a strong-willed slave girl. Her magic could ignite a revolution, but only if she resists the ruler who wants to use her powers to restore the empire to its former glory.

Darien Redvar, the idealistic soldier she loves. His rage leads him down a dark path to power that could turn him against the one person he cares for.

Kale Andovier, a lordling rebel with a torturous past. His quest for a weapon of dark sorcery will thrust him into a twisted game of power that could change the world forever.

Will the return of magic transform the New World, or bring it to ruin?

Perfect for fans of Mistborn and Throne of Glass.

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!

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

 

Getting Readers on Wattpad

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That’s why you’re thinking about posting your story on Wattpad, right? Everyone wants to have their story read. But how do you get people to read a new story on a site that has literally millions of stories?

There are stories on Wattpad with millions of views and thousands of votes, and it can be really disheartening when your story has only a few dozen reads and four votes.

I have been posting my fantasy THE SHADOW WATCH regularly on Wattpad for about 7 weeks now. I am at 2,300 reads and about 400 votes. In the scheme of things on Wattpad, that’s nothing spectacular. But it has been steadily building, and that is the biggest thing to remember. Hitting 1K reads was a sweet spot that seemed to boost daily readership. Your story begins looking like one worth checking out.

But how to get there?

The other day, I was reading Taran Matharu’s account of posting his story, Summoner: The Novice. He posted daily during NaNoWriMo and reached a million reads in about three months. Incredible! But that is not usually the case, at all, and I just started feeling a bit discouraged, really, because that would be so cool, but that is soo not what has been happening.

But, here’s a truth, even the most successful authors on Wattpad typically go through the slog of building readership over many months.

I currently average about 50-100 reads a day on my story, and anywhere from 5 to 30 votes, typically from around 10 unique readers, and I have spent the last month on the Fantasy Hot List, typically in the top 300 or 400.  Again, nothing crazy. But when I think back to being desperate for a single vote or read when I first started posting, it is actually not too bad.

I have about a dozen or so really dedicated readers, at the moment. Ones who read chapter updates right away and enthusiastically comment (a couple have been with me since the first postings, which is pretty cool) and chat about the story. But you will find these are few and far between. When you get them, treat them well. Thank them often. Dedicate chapter to them. Maybe follow them. 

The majority of Wattpad readers are “silent readers.” Meaning they don’t vote on every chapter (or not at all), nor do they comment, but every now and then one will thank me for posting the story, etc. A little frustrating when you want votes, but you will find that the people who care about votes and comments are typically writers, and the majority of your readers won’t say much, because they just want to read. But hey, someone is still taking the time to read your stuff, and that is awesome, so don’t knock on silent readers. If they interact at all, thank them for taking the time to read your stuff.

*An aside — Don’t be that person who sends messages to followers about how they wish people would vote and comment and quit being silent. No one likes that person.*

 

So how do you build readership, then?

 

Well, I am assuming your story is already top quality, with no grammar mistakes, complex characters, and wonderful tension! No? Then, edit and make sure it’s good before posting. Obviously, if you have major structural flaws, you will have trouble getting noticed (unless you are writing One Direction fan fiction, then it seems anything goes).

There is no exact formula to building readership on Wattpad, but I truly believe these things will help everyone. They have worked for me, and are what I see successful writers doing.

 

  1. COVER! COVER! COVER! —  Don’t throw a crappy cover up and wonder why no one is clicking on your story. Find someone who can make a decent one. Deviant Art is a good place to look, as well as the Design forums on Wattpad. There are people who will make you a cover in exchange for you dedicating a chapter to them, or reading and commenting on a couple chapters of their story. Pretty good deal! Get a decent cover before you post anything.
  2. BLURB! — Maybe I will write more about the blurb sometime, but for now, look up what you should include in the blurb, and check out the blurbs of popular stories on Wattpad. What makes them stand out? Be sure to highlight your Main Character and the main conflict quickly. Unless people click on your story, they will only see the first few lines, so make them juicy. Don’t give us paragraphs of worldbuilding or description. Give us tension and make us need to find out what will happen in the story.
  3. POST REGULARLY! — This is one of the biggest things you can do to help yourself build momentum early. I would recommend 2-3 updates a week as you start out. Every time you post, your readers receive push notifications on their phones and an email, that reminds them 2-3 times a week that your story is there and is updating. Also, the more they have to read, the more votes and comments you can get. Don’t post all at once! But steadily put it out there. If possible set a definite schedule. I post every Monday and Friday. My followers and readers know when the new chapters come out and can depend on it.
  4. INTERACT WITH THE READERS YOU HAVE! — I don’t care if you have one reader or a hundred or more. Respond to every comment. Thank people when they vote for your story. Even the top writers do this. Have someone who comments on your story a lot? Why not dedicate a chapter to them. It will make them feel more invested in the story.
  5. BE PATIENT! — It will probably not happen overnight. Just keep at it! While you’ve got time, read other people’s work. See what they do. Get involved on the forums. There are lots of great people there. There are forums for Undiscovered writers. Why not see if some of them want to trade feedback? You may find a new reader who will stick with you the whole way, and you may find out you need to fix some things in those opening chapters.

 

A Couple Freebies

These aren’t necessarily what everyone does, but I picked up some readers through them.

  1. ENTER A CONTEST — Got an awesome story? Why not enter a contest? There are many on Wattpad. For Fantasy and Sci-Fi writers, there is an awesome group called FANTASCI that holds awesome contests regularly and are hosted by top writers on the site in the genre. I connected with a couple top-notch writers through this, and also found some dedicated readers, based on a blurb and cover contest. It is a chance to stand out, because the contests are not based on current readership, just quality writing.
  2. FORUMS — I know I’ve said it before, but seriously, connect with other writers. The community is very supportive. Make friends. Are you undiscovered? Go to the forums, and connect with others? You a romance writer? Connect with other romance writers. Don’t promote yourself! Just chat and connect. Maybe check out some of their stories. But in the long run, this will serve you well.

 

Some Don’ts

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  1. Don’t create fake accounts and get fake votes and comments on your story.
  2. Don’t mass follow people in hopes they’ll follow you back, and especially don’t mass follow writers, because it is annoying.
  3. Don’t troll around begging for reads. You just look desperate.

 

 

Okay, that is all for now. I am still new to the site. But I am pleased with my progress and am excited to see how the momentum continues to build.

 

You a Wattpadder? What works for you? What doesn’t? Was this helpful?

 

Let me know in the comments!

 

And hey, feel free to follow me on Wattpad: S.A. Klopfenstein

 

And if you care to check out my fantasy story, THE SHADOW WATCH, you can read it here: THE SHADOW WATCH

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