Tag Archives: promotion

Celebrating a Launch

Set in Stone CoverBig magic.

Big adventure.

Lots of humor.

May 1st saw the release of Set in Stone in both hardcover and ebook format!

The release of Set in Stone was a long time in coming and a  huge milestone.  It kicked off the 8 books in 8 months publishing blitz I’m trying to do this year, and launched the Petralist series, a YA fantasy series that’s already being enjoyed by a wide audience, from middle-schoolers to adults.

Tomorrow, at sixteen, Connor will reveal his secret curse to the world and take his place as a guardian.

If he survives today.

When armies descend upon his peaceful village, led by superhuman Petralists and clever Builders, most people run and hide. Connor’s not that smart. He manages to get caught in the middle of the escalating conflict. Worse, he learns his curse is the rarest of powers, and both sides will do anything to control it and secure his loyalty. Connor is fast, but even he can’t outrun this avalanche.

Truths are sacrificed, loyalties are sundered, and dangerous girls twist his heart into knots.

That’s when things get complicated.

While his friends try to free the village under siege, Connor peels back layers of intrigue and half-truths to find secrets neither side wants him to know. Surrounded by deadly enemies that all claim to be his friends, Connor must choose a course with the lives of everyone he loves hanging in the balance.

His only hope is to gamble everything on a curse that could destroy them all unless his final choice is Set in Stone.

The book launch was a great experience.  In fact, I blogged about it here.

You can find Set in Stone at every ebook retailer.  Hardcovers are available online as well, or you can order signed copies directly from me.  I’ll have my website (www.frankmorin.org) updated soon with the shopping cart.  Until then, feel free to contact with requests.

The sequel, No Stone Unturned, is expected to be released in August.

#8books8months  #SetinStone

Space bars and Literary heroin

Two aliens walk into a bar and are completely baffled by the selection. There’s row after row of Terran libations, a fine selection of Neptunian beers, rums from Raxacoricofallapatorius, and an entire shelf devoted to Ionian moonshine. So many liquors, so little time.How could anyone choose from such a massive selection?

Walking into a bookstore is much the same. I’ve been an independant bookseller for sixteen years. Our customers are often so dazzled and intimidated by the literary labyrinth that they can’t remember what they came in for. Granted, that’s if they knew in the first place. (Seriously, if you want to piss off a bookseller, say “I can’t remember the title or the author but it has a blue cover and they talked about it on NPR two weeks ago.) Sometimes we’ll even get someone that hasn’t picked up a book in years. Even though there’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect series, because we’ve sampled, savored, devoured, and researched our wares we can satisfy any craving.

     It’s in this capacity where we become an author’s best friend. Not because we’re selling vast quantities — we’re not — but the copies we do sell go to the people who will appreciate that work the most. Handselling may not seem like a sound business philosophy and if our goal was to only sell copies of that one perfect title, the naysayers would be right. However, we know that once they’ve read that one perfect title they’ll be back to buy the rest of the author’s works. It also establishes trust so when we recommend another author they’re a lot more likely to buy it.

     So how does an author get the support of America’s indie booksellers? Well the first step is to write and publish the best stories you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s published traditionally or independently. If it’s not in print, a brick and mortar store can’t stock it. There are only a handful of stores dabbling in e-book sales (that I know of) so if you’re work is only available as an e-book you’ll be severely limited but don’t let that stop you.

A good pitch isn’t just for editors and agents. They work on booksellers too. So do free samples. Back in ’08 Devon Monk sent us a packet that contained a lovely letter explaining that she was a local author whose first novel was releasing soon. It also had a chap book with the first two or three chapters, a poster of the book cover, bookmarks, and hypercolor pens. You don’t have to go to the expense of ordering custom swag. The introduction letter and sample are enough to get our attention since most indie stores don’t get that kind of consideration from traditional publishers. That said, if you have cool swag, send it. It worked for Devon. The swag made us more eager to read the sample — which we loved. We’ve kept her work in stock ever since.

If you don’t want to produce a chap book and your publisher isn’t printing an ARC (advance reader copy, also known as a galley) you can print it like you would a submission, offer to e-mail it to the store, or if you’re tech savvy you can put it in a locked post on your website or blog and give the store the access code. You also don’t have to mail it. If the store is local, by all means give it to us in person. We like meeting authors. Especially when they’re polite and professional. (When you work with the public all day those two things go a long way.)

My final caveat is if the store has a staff member that specializes in your genre, make sure to get their attention. That person is your drug lord. Gain their favor and they will sell your literary heroin to every word addict in the city.

You may have noticed that I’ve emphasized giving a sample. While we love our job, we don’t get rich doing it. And since we’re also word addicts we have our favorite fixes to purchase and consume. That’s what you’re competing against and that’s why the sample is key. If we like your pitch, we’ll probably add you to the “I’ll read it someday” list. Hook us with your sample and suddenly you’re on the “I must buy this now!” list. Once you’re on that list and the rest will take care of itself.

If this method doesn’t work, don’t fret. Your work may not have been right for that store’s clientele but there are other stores where your work will be right at home. Keep trying. It’s a deductible expense and even if the store doesn’t add your titles to their next order they’ve at least heard your name and that counts for something.

Book Launch: Fossil Lake

fossilDo you love the dark?

My latest short story release is in  Fossil Lake:  An Anthology of the Aberrant, out now from Daverana Press.  Mishipishu:  The Ghost Story of Penny Jaye Prufrock is set in a place modeled after somewhere I know and love:  a summer camp I went to many times during my childhood.  It’s one of 37 stories and poems  in this anthology of the aberrant.

Penny has spent most of her summers at Camp Zaagaigan, a place that offers her refuge from the rest of her life, which seems to fall apart more every year–but next year she’ll be thirteen, and too old to come back.  Fearful that growing up is going to cost her everything she loves, she escapes into imagination, and she’s even got an imaginary friend to share her journey:  a fossilized creature she dredged up from the sediment at the bottom of Lake Mishipishu.  Mythology, though, is a double edged sword, and Penny may not be prepared for the consequences  if she follows her new friend too far into the lake.

Setting a story in a real-world place was a pleasure and a challenge.  On one hand, I didn’t need to spend a lot of time worldbuilding the setting:  I simply dredged my memories and had a full map of the camp, a ready-made stage on which to enact my story.  It was also very easy to add a lot of sensory description, because my memories are still very vivid:  the feeling of the sand on the beach, the smell of the campfire, the sound of the waves slapping against the dock.  On the other hand, the major change requested by my editor was to cut out some of the unnecessary description that wasn’t critical to understand the story.  I probably could have gone on for twice as long if I’d wanted to describe every aspect of the camp that I’d enjoyed as a kid; but bogging the story down in irrelevant details wasn’t doing it any favours.  The final version of Mishipishu is leaner, meaner, and ready to sink its fangs into you.

If you’d like to meet the lake monster of Camp Zaagaigan, and the other horrors that can be found in Fossil Lake, you can order your own copy of the ebook right here for only $2.99.

I loved going to summer camp each year.  But sometimes, what you love can be the death of you.


The Choosing of Names

Let me tell you a secret. My name isn’t actually Nathan Barra. I chose to write under a pen name for two reasons. First, I work in a very conservative industry, and have written several internal and external publications under my real name. I’m worried that publishing fiction under my true name would damage my credibility in my day job. Second, I consider my name to be unGooglable. Pretty much everyone I have ever had read my name has mispronounced it, and anyone I have tried to dictated to has misspelled it. In this day of search bars in social media, that is unacceptable.

Regardless of your reason, picking the right name is an art. These days, authors sell themselves as much as they sell their books. So, if you’re going to take the time to choose a pen name, what does it take to choose a good one?

5. A good pen name is multilingual.
With the Internet and the global economy, an author’s words are no longer limited to a local geo-market. Something written on one continent can and likely will be sold on the others. Therefore, it behooves the author to pick a name that is easily pronounceable in most major linguistic families. Go to translate.google.com, type “His name is…” and listen to how the name is pronounced in a bunch of different languages. Is it still comprehendible, or even better, similar?

4. A good pen name matches the brand.
Authorial brands are built on names, so the name must fit within the brand the author is trying to establish. For example, in urban fantasy, where I like to read and write, many authors have two part names. Examples include Jim Butcher, Richelle Mead, Patricia Briggs, Larry Correia, and Jennifer Estep. I too chose a two part name to help me fit in and make it easier to design a cover that is clearly urban fantasy.

3. A good pen name is memorable.
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt would make a lousy pen name for many reasons. Without the tune, I can’t remember it, and in fact had to Google the end of the name and the spelling’s. Though most publishers try to avoid it, there are still a number of books with the same or similar titles, only distinguishable by who wrote them. When someone recommends a book, they often will be recommending the author simultaneously. How can they do that if they don’t remember the name?

2. A good pen name is easy to spell.
The biggest problem with my real name is that even after shortening it, I’ve had it misspelled and mispronounced countless times. In this day of online retailers, search engines and social media, a name that is easy to spell is essential. I need someone to be able to search me, friend me, tweet me, and find me on Amazon.  I chose Nathan because there aren’t variations on that name. Barra is a bit riskier, as it can be spelled with one r or two, but in the end, the name is still simple enough that I don’t think it’ll be much of a problem.

1. A good pen name does not already have an online presence.
When I was choosing my pen name, I did a search to ensure two things. First, I made sure that NathanBarra.com was available, which it was. Then, I searched to ensure that there weren’t too many Nathan Barras on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. Facebook had the most, but none of them seem to be particularly active in writing circles. The last thing I would want is for someone to search for me, and then find some other Nathan Barra talking trash and making me look bad. These days, a strong online presence is essential. This doesn’t look like it’s going to change.