jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
2014-03-29 08:47 pm
Entry tags:

Going Pro: Motivation is LIVE and discounted for now

Here we go! The course is live and ready to go, and you can get it here.

I had originally intended to give a 30% discount initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to ensure that you all had the best deal I could really give you, as thanks for being the first to support me and help me on what will obviously be a very big and long-term project.

So for this week only, the course is only $9.99, which is a 50% discount from the price I ultimately intend to offer it at.

For only ten bucks you're getting:

1. The course, with all worksheets included, in an electronic, easily printable format.

2. BONUS THE FIRST: an already-formatted spreadsheet for tracking your writing work, so you don't have to make one of your own.

3. BONUS THE SECOND: My personal availability by email for answering any questions you might have, and for personalized coaching. This is a commitment I am making to you, as a purchaser of my course, that I will do what I can to help out with simple questions. I WILL NOT WRITE YOUR BOOK FOR YOU. But if you have any questions about the course, or a particular situation that the course doesn't seem to cover, I invite you to email me and I'll see what advice I can offer.

4. BONUS THE THIRD: Access to a LOCKED AND EXCLUSIVE Dreamwidth writing community, so that all of the students of my courses can share ideas, offer help to each other, find beta readers and support. This community was originally started as a writing group for me, but has inactive pretty much since the beginning. I'm resurrecting it, specifically for you. Only purchasers of my courses will receive an invite to the Turn Write community.

VERY VERY IMPORTANT DO NOT MISS STEP - after you complete your purchase, you will need to send me your email address. This will make it easier for me to send you the course, and also allow me to send you an invite to the community. DON'T JUST CLOSE OUT THE WINDOW WHEN YOU'RE DONE.

Whew, that was a lot of capslock. I hope you're as excited as I am to get rolling, so here, once again, is the link to the course.

If you have any questions or problems whatsoever, just go ahead and comment or PM me and I will make it all better!
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
2014-03-28 03:28 pm

The Motivation course goes live tomorrow. Here's why I really believe it'll help

It's nearly here! After several months of work and a few data crashes, the Motivation course is going to go live on my website tomorrow.

I know that I've said that I think this course will help you, no matter who you are. Let me tell you why.

I have known as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a writer. I remember being in high school, and writing reams and reams of paper. The very first novel I ever wrote and completed was a Star Trek: DS9 fanfic - I figured I could get it published as a novel tie-in, if I could just polish it up enough. A friend of mine read it for me, and my next novel, which was a truly horrific vampire novel. And the next. I think that one had aliens in it. It was also terrible.

Then I hit university and my focus shifted to fanfiction. And somewhere along the line, I stopped writing completely. I knew I still wanted to write. I spent hours roleplaying online, writing shared stories with other people, but I felt totally unmotivated to actually write. It felt like work. I still had my passion, but any time it came time to write something down without working from the prompt of another person, I just never seemed to get around to it.

I tried NaNoWriMo a few times, and fizzled out after a few days every time. After five years of basically nothing, I was facing down the death of my dream, and wondering if maybe writing was just too hard for me. I wondered if I just couldn't do it.

Then I started learning and applying the kinds of techniques that I've put in the course. Most of all, I applied the technique that I mentioned in my last post - I remembered what I loved about writing, what I wanted out of life, and I focused on that rather than my fear.

I started writing, and I've never looked back. That was 10 years ago, and I am more sure than ever that writing is what I want to do, what I can do, and what I will do full time, someday.

That's why I know these techniques are good. Because they ended my 5 years of writer's block, and they have stood the test of time.

Now it's your turn, and I'm looking forward to having you come along with me on this journey.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
2014-03-26 08:51 pm

Getting motivated is all about knowing what you want

You already know that you want to be a writer. But do you see yourself AS a writer? Do you know what that looks like?

By the time you finish the Motivation course that's coming out at the end of this week, you'll not only know how to conquer the fears you have, but my intention is that you'll have a clear vision for where you're going.

If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there? I'll tell you: You can't.

Think about it now.

Close your eyes and picture what your life will be like when you achieve your goal. Think about where you'll live, in what sort of place, what you will do on a daily basis, where you will work, what clothes you'll wear. Picture it until you know it as well as you know your own life right now.

Pick one thing you can do today that will move you forward, even if it's just the tiniest bit, towards that goal.

I can't do this for you. Only you can make the decision to take those steps forward. I'm not saying that this course will do it for you, either. But what I can say, is that I've done my best to gather together every technique I've found over a lifetime of learning this stuff, into one easy place for your benefit.

If only one exercise teaches you something new, if you spend just a small amount of money and spent a few hours on this, and only move just a little bit closer to where you want to be, isn't that worth it?

I think it is, and that's how I live my own life. Using the techniques like the one above, I have written four full novels, published one, and begun making actual money each month from my writing.

You can do it, too. I can't wait to see you achieving.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
2014-03-23 02:31 pm
Entry tags:

It's finally ready! The first module of Going Pro will go live in less than one week!

Hey everyone! I've got some exciting news.

My betas have gotten back to me, and the final formatting passes have been done.

It took a lot longer than I had originally expected, mostly because my long-suffering wife was trying to do the final copyediting and beta pass, and lost the changes she'd made three times due to unscheduled laptop reboots and other unforeseen problems.

But after a lot of cursing, she powered through it again and I'm happy to announce that the motivation module is finally complete. It will go live on my website on Saturday, March 29, 2014 as early in the day as I can manage given that I'm in PST and will need to do some website changes to make it available.

I'm afraid that I won't be able to offer it on Amazon or other online retailers, at least right now, because of the format, so my website will be the ONLY way to get the course.

What you'll be getting )
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
2014-03-02 07:41 am

Read an Ebook this week!



Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that Smashwords is running a promotion this week. All of my stories are at least 50% off - most of them are free! If you were thinking about checking out my books but hadn't gotten around to it yet, now is a great time to do it.

You can see my books here:
Books under my own name
Books under my pseudonym

Even if you're not interested in my books, I highly encourage you to look into the promotion. There's a full catalogue of the authors who are participating in the promotion, which can be found here.

Happy browsing!
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
2013-09-28 10:47 am

Update - Website is a thing, wow! Also, #vcon

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, between work and novelling, but I have finally reached a point where I feel I can write about it, so...yay!

I am taking a couple of courses, which is sucking up some of my time. I'm also continuing my cut of OtherWhere, which is going fabulously. I'm 115 pages in, out of about 350 pages of manuscript and I'm really feeling as though it was a better book to start with than Mortis Unbound, which means that it's a lot easier to cut and fix.

I've also put together a new website, which is at http://www.jessicasteinerbooks.com (Unfortunately, someone else named Jessica Steiner has the url I wanted o999)

It's pretty bare bones right now, but if you head over there you can see that I've migrated my mailing list over to a new provider. I'm going to be giving away stories and doing fun little things on the list, too, so I'm excited about that. I'm also excited by the fact that soon there will be the ability - through my website - for people to give me money without giving any money to Amazon or Smashwords. That'll be really cool! Over the next few weeks I'll be cleaning up this blog and migrating some content (like the sticky post) over to the website and fixing things up.

Next weekend I'll be going to VCON. If the universe aligns, Dan Wells and Mur Lafferty will know my name by the following weekend. My goal is to contain my fangirl and instead be totally awesome and professional. We'll see.

Between now and then, I have to finish critiquing three stories for the workshop I'm doing, and finish organizing my website. I also hope my new business cards arrive. They're supposed to show up by Wednesday.

If you head over to my website, please let me know what you think? I'd really like to hear feedback and/or suggestions
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
2013-04-27 03:12 pm

V is for Victory Over Conflict #atozchallenge

Everyone knows that a story needs to have conflict. In fact, every single scene in your story should have conflict. Conflict is the main point of a story, and if there's no conflict in a story, then there's no story.

But knowing that, if you're like me, then you have a hard time sometimes figuring what constitutes conflict.

Conflict isn't just about having a fight on every page. If your book is filled with scene after scene of people arguing with each other, it'll get boring. Conflict is about your character overcoming an obstacle in their path.

Conflict is when a rainstorm stands between a lover and their date, and they don't have an umbrella.

Conflict is when a character desperately needs money to achieve their goal, but doesn't know where to get any.

Conflict is when a character is tempted to do something they know is wrong, but it'll help them to accomplish something great.

Conflict can be internal or external. It can be with other characters, or with natural forces, or with their own conscience.

A good shoot-em-up battle is fun, too.




Listen to my interview on Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing! I talk mostly about Mortis Unbound, and Star Trek.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
2013-04-24 08:19 pm

T is for Theme #atozchallenge

I know I'm a day behind and... despite the fact that I've been preparing for a 5-day Supreme Court trial starting on April 29th, I will get through this, I swear.

Anyway.

Theme!

If you're like me, you groan when you hear or read this word. I used to enjoy English classes only to the extent to which I was able to a) read a book that I actually enjoyed, or b) write a story. Analyzing books for theme was always one of those things that struck me as relatively pointless, or at least an exercise that was best left to people who liked that sort of thing.

However, identifying the theme of your own novel is really useful for a number of reasons. And I do mean identifying. You don't necessarily shoe-horn your theme in and then try to make your story fit it, but it should evolve organically and become clear at some point in the process. Sometimes, when you type 'The End', but maybe sooner.

So, a couple of reasons why identifying your theme is good:

1. It can help to unify a novel or series. If you know the theme of your series is something like "love can conquer all" then it's easier to ensure that the ultimate resolution of the story is in line with that philosophy. Doing that, will make the story tie together in a more satisfying manner.

2. It gives you something to talk about. When writing synopses, or back cover copy, or even just talking about your novel, it's really important to be able to explain what it's about in a short, intriguing way. Knowing the theme gives you a starting point for figuring out how to do that. Now, you probably won't actually describe the theme in such an explanation, but it can help to focus your mind so it's not just "well, it's about this guy, and one day he..." and ten minutes later your audience is glazing over.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
2013-04-01 07:44 am

A is for Argh! Tip #1: Read Instructions #atozchallenge

I'm doing the Blogging from A-Z Challenge and I've decided that to achieve this goal of blogging every day (except Sundays) for a month, I will do a bit of a theme - short and sweet writing tips.

Today's writing tip is extremely relevant to my life this past weekend.

When submitting completed work for publication, it's extremely important to read the submission instructions carefully! A small mistake (such as missing a deadline or failing to include a required piece of information) can instantly disqualify you from consideration.

I think the simplest reason for this is simply that people who read through submissions are extremely busy and get hundreds, sometimes thousands of submissions for any given publication spot. They are looking for easy ways to cull down the list of things they have to read. Failing to include something they request makes it easy to drop yours off the list. They're looking for the cream that rises to the top, not offering a lot of hand holding.

So don't ever do what I just did! When someone says that the deadline for submissions to their anthology is March 30, 2013 don't write down March 31, 2013 and wait for the last day to submit, only to realize that you missed it.

Don't be me, internet. Don't be me.

In related news, I have a homeless short story I'm going to be submitting around. Oh well.
jessicasteiner: (Solitaire)
2013-03-01 10:16 pm
Entry tags:

Mailing lists are fun so...sign up.

I was going to write a substantive post, like a review or maybe a rant about something that's been bugging me. But I'm way too tired, so instead I'm going to mention that I spent most of the evening creating a mailing list.

99% of the time I spent on it was spent creating the header image and playing with colours. Wheeeeeeee.......

It's probably going to be the quietest mailing list ever. Basically, if you're interested in finding out when I put out a new novel without having to stalk my blog or obsessively f5 my Amazon page, go ahead and sign up!

I promise not to spam you, because spammers suck.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
2012-08-23 10:17 pm

Update: Mortis Unbound Now Everywhere

Well! After two days of gruelling reformatting, I have uploaded Mortis Unbound to Smashwords, which takes care of my Barnes & Noble problem (thank you [personal profile] clare_dragonfly for the tip in my last post!) as well as putting my novel in a bunch of other markets that I hadn't intended to bother with because they're relatively small. Still, nice to know it'll be there.

I actually uploaded the original file I uploaded to Amazon and Kobo, without delving into the Smashwords style guide, just to see what would happen. Just in that time three people downloaded the sample. I consider that a good recommendation for Smashwords, since I hadn't told anyone about it.

So, if you use iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Sony, you'll be able to find my book there within a week or so.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
2012-08-19 12:18 pm

Mortis Unbound: Now Available, but not on the B&N Store

So while the official release date was going to be a bit later, I went ahead and started uploading Mortis Unbound to the various stores, since I had heard that it often took a few days before they would actually become available, and sometimes there are weird snafus that make them take a few weeks.

Amazon and the Kobo Store were both effortless. The novel is up and ready to go and I've already made a few sales! You can purchase Mortis Unbound on Amazon here and on the Kobo Store here!

I was going to put it up on Barnes & Noble as well. Despite the store not existing in Canada, where I live, I like to support them. However, B&N has some rather short-sighted policies that makes it virtually impossible for me to do so.

After spending literally two days trying to figure out how I even become an ebook seller on the site (it took me no more than a minute to figure it out on the Amazon and Kobo sites), I finally found the proper place, only to learn that you need a U.S. bank account, U.S. credit card, and a U.S. address to get paid. I could probably get these things, but it would likely be more trouble than it's worth.

While Amazon is U.S. oriented, they don't make it hard for international sellers, though there are a few wrinkles. (You get paid in U.S. dollars and unfortunately as a Canadian I have to meet a certain threshold of sales before they cut me a cheque, instead of being able to get the money deposited immediately into my account every month. EU doesn't have this problem, but for some reason Canada does, and there's also a thing you have to do to appease the IRS, which isn't a big deal). And of course, Kobo is a Canadian site, so that's not an issue.

Unfortunately, B&N apparently doesn't want international sellers, so, I do apologize to Nook users. Thankfully, Kobo also uses .epub format, so if you would like to buy it for your Nook, you can get it through the Kobo site. I'm consulting with a friend of mine who has a Nook, so if you have any questions about how to get the file onto your Nook, please PM me and I'll gladly walk you through it.

If B&N does change their policy and open their estore up to international sellers, I'll definitely get Mortis Unbound up there as soon as I can!
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
2012-06-08 08:25 pm

Why I Decided to Self-Publish

I've been meaning to do an in-depth post like this for a long time, and now I've had a couple of requests, so I'm going to bite the bullet and try to put my thoughts into order about this topic. I've done a tonne of research over the last couple of years, and there are many reasons why I've decided to self-publish, some financial, some not. I very much welcome discussion about this topic. It's a hugely timely issue for writers, as well as readers, and I think a lot of people don't really grasp the enormity of the issue.

My reasons break down into several categories, which can probably be summarized as: money, career planning, control, and trends. Read on for my reasons )
jessicasteiner: (Default)
2012-05-19 01:36 pm

Another Milestone...Crossed

It's been a productive morning!

I set up a twitter account, which I'll primarily be using for quick writing-related status updates, boosting the signal on reviews and posts here, and for retweeting random things I enjoy. Follow me at [twitter.com profile] steiner_jessica if that link works...

Secondly, I cleared out my email and did some administrative things.

And thirdly, I finished my line edits on The Sleeping Death! What a painful process that was. I mostly was trying to focus on tightening things, getting rid of extraneous speaking tags and adverbs, especially, and it was really fiddly. I found that I couldn't really do it for very long before my concentration started to flag, so I tended to do about 2 chapters a night. For a story with almost 60 chapters, that was a slow pace.

So now I'll be sending it out to my beta readers and hopefully get their comments within a week or two. After that, it goes to my editor!

I'm looking forward to a rest from editing for a couple of weeks, to be honest. Time to focus on my [community profile] originalbigbang story, which is the fifth instalment of my Hunter Grim series, as well as getting back to The Dreaming. So it's going to be a bit of a pure writing stint for now.
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
2011-03-27 08:05 pm

The Impact of New Media on Publishing

I've been listening to a lot of interviews lately and a similar theme keeps popping up amongst the various authors - how is the internet, and in particular, the popularity of ebooks, going to affect the publishing industry going forward?

There are a couple of things that come up over and over, which I'm going to summarize for you here really quickly (basically because the point of this article isn't really about what the impact will be, but what in heck are the best ways to deal with it).

Firstly, the publishing industry as a whole is not really geared to protect the author. This isn't that surprising, even if it is disheartening. Despite the fact that no one in the industry would have a job if it weren't for authors spending a lot of time and hard work writing books, authors only get perhaps 10% of the revenue from the books they write. If they're lucky.

Even though there are many aspects of how publishing works that at best fail to support the success of authors - or at worst, actively sabotage them - the author has little to no say in how a book is marketed by the publishing industry. Authors take on nearly all the risk of the sale of a book (if a book tanks, you can basically kiss your career goodbye while everyone else gets to keep their job), but they can do little to actually improve their own chances. Authors are expected to do all of their own marketing, even though they have no resources in particular and publishing companies are large. Authors are expected to wait years for portions of their royalties because book stores are permitted to return any books not sold with no penalty and no time limit.

I imagine the reason for this is that the publishing company figures, I guess, that for every author that they let go because their trilogy didn't sell as well as they hoped, there are hundreds of people who are eager to take their place. Why spend money helping your existing people to succeed when there are so many others around who might be the next J.K. Rowling? Even though the one you actually have might be that person, if you just helped them along a little.

Secondly, it appears that the publishing industry as a whole is not really prepared to embrace the ebook industry. They are treating it as an adjunct, an additional, but comparatively unimportant part of their market, while they flail around madly trying to prop up flagging sales figures on paper books. The price of paper books is skyrocketing, major chains and independent book sellers are going out of business, and I am given to understand that Amazon now sells more ebooks than paper books.

But despite all this, we have seen little change that I'm aware of in the publishing industry's business model. They're still focused on selling paper books, and they're selling ebooks for as much as the paper books (at least the paperbacks, thankfully I haven't run across any $20+ ebooks in my searches so far). And their sales figures continue to be uncertain.

And no matter how much most of us might love paper books, no matter how fearful some might be that they will become extinct and we will never be able to curl up in bed with a paper book in our hands (a future I honestly doubt we will ever see) ebooks are the future. They are hugely popular and growing in popularity. They are convenient, and if the people in charge of getting books to readers don't embrace the technology and figure out how to maximize their usage of it, it is those people who will become obsolete and disappear - not the ebooks.

It is this lack of certainty and the resistance to change which causes even more uncertainty for the authors. Because authors take on all the risk and have no control, if the publishing industry fails, it is the author who suffers first.

And since I'm an author, this is something that's been weighing on my mind as I listen to these interviews - if I know that even if I break in and sell a first novel that is no guarantee of success or even fair treatment, how do I try to increase my own odds and take control of my own future?

Well, there are a couple of ideas.

Idea 1: Direct E-book Sales

Michael A. Stackpole (whom I wrote about last week) has started selling ebooks directly. All it really takes is a website, a Pay-Pal button (and/or an Amazon seller's account), Microsoft Word, and persistence.

The obvious advantage is complete control. Your overhead is basically nil, and for every book you sell, you get 100% of the profit. If you've got a following already, you're pretty much golden. Otherwise you've got to work at it, and work hard at it.

One big disadvantage is the lack of gatekeeping. Just because you might want to write books doesn't mean you're actually any good at it. The traditional function of the publishing industry has been to fill this role, though they haven't always done a very good job at it (Twilight anyone?). Still, people tend to assume if you're good enough that the book is published, they're safe to read it. But if you're just some random Joe on the web, they're not going to pay for your unedited drivel unless they know it's good.

There are two ways around this that I can see, and both are pretty easy.

One is to include free samples of your work on your website. They may be whole stories that you're willing to give out for free, or they may be first chapters of novels that you're selling.

The second is to get editing help, from people who know what they're doing. They may be other authors, and you can pay for their assistance by editing their work. The bonus of this is that you can promote each other's books and cross-pollinate your fan-bases. If none of you are traditionally published authors, this could be a situation of the blind leading the blind, but it might work well. Or you can even hire the same freelance editors that the publishing industry uses, though I have no idea how much they charge and you should be extremely wary of scams.

I would suggest a combination of these two - get editing help and then show people a sample of what they're buying so they know it's good. You can't go wrong with that.

In his podcast, The Secrets (which I reviewed last week), Mr. Stackpole suggests a pricing scheme as follows:

$2.00 for a short story (less than 10,000 words)
$3.00 for a novella (10,000 - 40,000 words)
$4.00 - $5.00 for a novel depending on the length

That's a heck of a lot cheaper than most books on the market, and he gets all of the money immediately instead of a 10% or less royalty he may not see for 15 months. One can make a good living even if you're actually making far fewer sales at this rate, I would say.

Idea 2: Small print runs

Tracy Hickman said in an interview that I recently listened to, (and I'm paraphrasing because I couldn't find the exact wording if I tried now,) a book is just a souvenir of the story that you read and loved.

Not every book you read is going to be a keeper. I don't know about you, but I have bookshelves and bookshelves crammed with paper books, and I haven't even purchased that many books in the last ten-plus years since I moved out of my parents' house and had to start paying for my own books. (Thanks, Mom and Dad)

Going forward, in the age of the ebook, the books you really want to actually have in your hands are the ones which are truly important to you. The ones that changed your life. The ones that you will go to for comfort and want to curl up with like an old friend. Other books you may read and enjoy and never really want to have that book to keep on your shelf and remember forever the experience you had with those characters.

Once a person has read your ebook they may want to buy your actual book, but they may not want to pay full price twice. You could have them pay the difference to get the full copy of the book, reduce your profit margin a little, but get a loyal fan who isn't turned off by the lack of a print option. You could even do limited runs of signed copies. There are several services which allow anyone to self-publish small runs. If you could sell enough copies, paying for Lulu would be worth it.

Idea 3: Serialization

Some of you may have heard of Dragons Bard, which is a series by Tracy and Laura Hickman. They are selling the experience of a story in a far different way than normal. People who buy in to this book get the chapters week by week as they are being written. They get access to forums where they can discuss the book as they go, and receive access to special additional content (I presume maps and little tidbits about the world). And at the end of the whole process they get a signed, limited edition copy of the book to keep.

I would presume that you would pay a bit more for this than you would for the average ebook or paperback, but I think the experience would be well worth it, if it's a book you enjoy. And you do get the book at the end, as your souvenir.

Serialization doesn't appeal to everyone. I know when I was talking to Miko about these ideas that she said she wasn't interested in a serialization model because she reads too much and would get frustrated waiting for the next instalment to come out. She prefers to wait until a whole series is out (even when we're talking about a series of novels!) before buying the whole set.

Thank goodness not everyone is like Miko or we wouldn't have any series.

Serialization is a tried and true, traditional model, and not everyone minds waiting. The anticipation can be exciting, and many successful art forms continue to work with this model, such as comic books. It wouldn't be difficult to build a community of subscribers who pay an ongoing fee to get chapters of your books, if you can keep them on the edge of their seat and continually put out good stuff.

Idea 4: Adding Extras

What if your e-book had pictures? Animation? Music?

What if fans of your book could pay a small fee to get a membership to your website, and gain access to essays about the magic system, about the technology, about bits of the world they wouldn't normally get to see?

What if they could buy short side stories that add to the richness of your main story?

These are things that the publishing industry has really never touched to my knowledge, but which could really deepen and expand the experience of reading your book, making it memorable, and making it more likely that fans will remember and return to buy again.

Idea 5: Traditional Publishing

Obviously I'm not discounting this! Traditional publishing still works for many people, and could work for me. Going this route doesn't preclude also supplementing income and creating security by using some of these other ideas.

In fact, none of these ideas are mutually exclusive, in my opinion. I could see application for doing all of these, or some combination.

I'd like to get some discussion going, so here are some questions:


  1. What do you think of these different ideas I've outlined?


  2. Any other ideas that I haven't touched on or potential implications of each idea that I haven't mentioned?


  3. Do you think that the prices quoted for direct sales are fair?


  4. Is there anything in particular that really captures your attention and you want to talk about?