Publishing

An Experiment for the 43rd Century…

Zack Jackson page banner flat

Well, it’s not really a experiment that will be that long reaching, but what I’ve done is pull all the Zack Jackson novels from Smashwords, DriveThru Fiction, and Kobo. Since I released Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos back in 2012, I have had ZERO sales in from those three vendors on this line. So, effective immediately, they are Kindle exclusive and part of Kindle Unlimited. I intend to keep them there for the rest of the year, at least.

This will enable me to take advantage of their promotional tools and attempt to get some movement on these titles. They sell well enough at conventions and signings (as do all my titles), but I’ve heard YA is a very challenging market in ebooks. My experience is bearing that out.

There is another Zack Jackson novel on the horizon, but I’m committed to getting the Scars of the Sundering trilogy finish first. The first novel, Malediction is in the editing/revisions stage. Lament‘s first draft is finished. I still need to write Salvation. I figure Spring 2016 will see the fourth Zack Jackson novel, Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus.

I’ve added all the convention and signing appearances I have scheduled so far this summer to my calendar on my Facebook page. Stop by anytime and check them out (and maybe give the page a “Like” if you haven’t already; it helps get my posts there seen by more people).

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Sojourn vol. 2 and other news

Sojourn 2 CoverI never actually announced that Sojourn: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction volume 2 was released. It’s even bigger than the first volume with over 600 pages containing 32 stories by new and upcoming authors, as well as some veterans. My story, “The Pleasure Pools of Persiphia”, takes place in the same Seven Galaxies setting as “Forgotten Dreams” from Sojourn vol. 1. and follows the misadventures of the crew of the StarKnight as they take a much-needed shore leave on the popular resort world of Persiphia.

That description makes it sound like a light-hearted jaunt.

It’s not.

In other news, Scars of the Sundering: Malediction has moved into editing. There was a delay due to holiday insanity. The first draft of Scars of the Sundering: Lament is finished and I’m taking a break to work on a couple of short stories before diving into Scars of the Sundering: Salvation. Of course, I’m also working on Malediction revisions. Once I’m finished with the Scars of the Sundering trilogy, I’m going to get to work on the fourth Zack Jackson novel: Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus.

2015 is going to be busy!

Categories: Publishing, Scars of the Sundering, Seven Galaxies, Sojourn, Writing, Zack Jackson | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 In Review

I kind of slacked off on blog updates for the last 6 weeks or so. I had intended to update once-a-week through NaNoWriMo, but clearly, that didn’t happen. What did happen was I got involved in writing my manuscript an felt that any time I spent writing something else was time when I wasn’t working on my novel.

Ironically, I’m still working on that novel. I ended NaNoWriMo somewhere in the mid-70K range, so it was a successful event. I’ve been plugging away through December and am currently sitting at just over 109,000 words. The first book in the series had a 110,000+ word first draft, so I’m not surprised. I hope to finish this one up here in the next couple of weeks, then take a few weeks or month off to work on some other projects. The first book, Malediction, will undoubtedly need revisions during that time (and I’ve been tweaking it as required while I work on book 2, Lament. I anticipate work on book 3, Redemption (or Revelation, still haven’t decided), to begin near the end of February or early March.

Sales for 2014 were pretty sluggish. Granted, I wasn’t doing much to market anything. Royalties from my Seven Galaxies story in Sojourn turned out to be my biggest consistent money maker in 2014, so I have high hopes for the revenue from having two stories in paid anthologies. My sales at signings and conventions were pretty good, though. My Gen Con sales more than paid for my inventory costs this year, and I think, the costs of the table. It didn’t pay for the hotel though, but since I was going to go to Gen Con anyway and stay downtown in a hotel, that would have been an expense regardless of whether or not I sold any books.

Now, when I talk about revenues, I’m talking about numbers on the order of $25 a QUARTER as being my largest source. Obviously, I’m not pulling in enough money to quit my day job yet. Still, reviews have been good overall, so people who don’t like my stories obviously don’t care enough to leave negative reviews (the worst review I have is on Goodreads, and it is a 2-star, no-text review of The Foundation of Drak-Anor compilation I sold at Gen Con; the reviews of the individual novels in that omnibus average above 4.6 out of 5). I would like more reviews though. They really do help motivate me to keep writing.

For 2015, I’m looking forward to completing the Scars of the Sundering trilogy. I have already engaged an artist to do the covers for me, as well as a cartographer to update the map. Book 1 is in the editing stage, Book 2’s first draft is probably 10-15K words from being finished, and I have a lot of ideas for Book 3. I plan to write a short story for the as-yet-unannounced Sojourn 3 anthology, as well as, another Zack Jackson novel (Zack Jackson and the Secret of Venus). I’ve also been developing an urban fantasy setting (think along the lines of Hellboy/Dresden Files/Anita Blake before they focused solely on paranormal erotica) and a series of children’s fantasy picture books. I don’t know if anything will come of those last two in 2015, but development will certainly continue. There will be a few surprises at my public appearances, too.

One other thing that will happen in the first quarter of 2015 is another interview series with the authors of the stories featured in the second Sojourn anthology. Depending on how many I get, there will be 1-2 posted a week. It’s a larger book with more authors than the first anthology. If you haven’t checked out the Sojourn anthologies yet, you can get them from Amazon and other book stores.

Have a great 2015!

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Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra now available for all e-readers!

Zack Jackson Book 03 front cover smallZack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra is now available in three additional stores: Smashwords, Kobo, and DriveThruFiction. This means if you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the third Zack Jackson novel for your e-reader now, too! It also means that it should have moved through the distribution network and be available for order in most bookstores. If you’ve been waiting for Zack to be available on platforms other than Kindle, your ship has come in!

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New art and new fantasy novels!

Pancras the Putrid, First Wizard of Drak-Anor (Art by Lily Yang)

Pancras the Putrid, First Wizard of Drak-Anor
(Art by Lily Yang)

While I was at Gen Con, I met an impressive young artist, Lily Yang. Her portfolio impressed me so much, I decided to commission her to do the covers for my next three fantasy novels. I’m currently working on the first of three books that continues the story of Pancras and the drak twins, Kale and Delilah from my previous fantasy duology, The Foundation of Drak-Anor. I also commissioned her to do some character art for me that I can use in promotional materials. You can see the first such commission to the right.

The new trilogy is tentatively titled: The Necromancer’s Tale and will consist of three volumes: Malediction, Lament, and Salvation. The titles are still works-in-progress and may change as I continue writing.

Gen Con was successful for me and I sold through all but two or three of the remaining copies of The Foundation of Drak-Anor Gen Con-exclusive hardcover omnibus. Once these hardcovers are gone, I do not plan to produce more of them, although the individual books, Wings of Twilight and Iron Fist of the Oroqs will still be available in paperback and for e-readers.

I also have an announcement to make regarding the third book in the Zack Jackson series, but I will save that for a separate post.

Categories: Calliome, Fantasy, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Signing at Gen Con

Next week, I will be at Gen Con. On August 14 – 17, I will staff my table on Author’s Avenue (table AA) whenever the Dealer Hall is open. I will have copies of all five of my novels, as well as a limited number of copies of Sojourn: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction. I also still have copies of the Gen Con Exclusive Omnibus Edition of The Foundation of Drak-Anor (21 copies to be exact). Once these book are gone, I’m not going to print more! The Foundation of Drak-Anor collects Wings of Twilight and Iron Fist of the Oroqs into a single volume. I will also have free Galactic Confederation Junior Ranger patches for everyone who buys a Zack Jackson novel!

One thing I will be doing at Gen Con is free giveaways. That’s right; you can get a copy of Wings of Twilight for free, if you’re lucky… Watch my twitter feed (@hccummings or @jedisoth) or the hashtag #GenCon for giveaway times. I’m only giving away one book per day, and you’ll need to speak the secret passphrase to get a chance to roll my four Vesuvian Lava Fate dice (yes, they’re really carved out of lava from Mt. Vesuvius). If you beat my roll, you win a book! Four plusses wins the hardcover Omnibus edition (subject to availability–a tie means we throw out that roll and roll again) and earns another lucky person a chance to win Wings of Twilight.

If I’m going to sell and sign books at a gaming convention, I may as well make a game out of it, right?

Categories: Iron Fist of the Oroqs, Publishing, Wings of Twilight, Zack Jackson | Leave a comment

Best of Indy – Best Local Author Honoree!

BOI-Logo2013REVHonoreeThanks to the support of readers like you, I was chosen as an Honoree in Nuvo’s Reader’s Choice 2014 Best of Indy — Best Local Author! I was beaten by John Green and Dan Wakefield, both of whom have their own Wikipedia pages, so I don’t think I did too badly at all. Thank you all so much for your support.

Don’t forget I have a book signing coming up at the Breadloaf Book Shop in Lake Geneva, WI next Saturday, August 2nd from 1pm – 4pm. If you’re local to the area, or just passing through, I hope to see you there.

I’ll also have a table at Gen Con in the Dealer’s Hall on Author’s Avenue. Gen Con run from August 14th – 17th and I will be there all four days. In addition to having copies of all of my books available to purchase, I’ll have freebies and giveaways!

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Interview at UnderDiscussion

I was interviewed this weekend by the fine folks at UnderDiscussion: The UnderGopher Podcast. We talked about Zack Jackson, my other novels, and gaming. Of course, since I’m bad at off-the-cuff things, I forgot to bring up a few points about the Zack Jackson series that I knew I should talk about.

I spoke about how part of my inspiration for Zack Jackson was Star Trek and the optimistic view of the future it has. I wanted to write about a future I felt was cool and would actually want to live in. A big part of the Zack Jackson universe is the wide-spread acceptance of, well, just about everything. I make an effort to show how diverse and interesting life and people are, and if a character doesn’t understand or is just being exposed to something for the first time, I use it as an opportunity for character growth. I’ve found that to refrain from beating readers over the head with a message of acceptance and diversity, the best thing to do is just mention such things briefly and have the characters accept it without a word, as though it is the most natural thing. After all, diversity is natural and we should be accepting of it because that is the way things should be.

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Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra now available in Print and for Kindle!

Zack Jackson Book 03 front cover smallThe third book in the Zack Jackson series, Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra is now available on Amazon! You can purchase it for your Kindle for $3.99. The print version is $13.99, and if you buy the print version from CreateSpace or Amazon, you receive the Kindle version free.

The Zack Jackson series follows a 43rd-century student as he joins the Junior Rangers (think Boy/Girl Scouts in space), learns about Earth’s place in the greater galactic community, and explores the diversity and dangers of the universe. This volume follows him as he goes on a trip to one of his friend’s home world, the jungle world, Valtra. Even as his friends’ lives seem to fall apart around him, Zack learns not everything is as it seems, even on founding worlds of the Galactic Confederation. Helpless though he feels to help his friends with there personal problems, that doesn’t stop him from poking around ancient ruins and discovering an old adversary’s interest in Valtra.

 

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Zack Jackson is coming!

Zack Jackson Book 03 front cover smallZack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra will be available for Kindle e-readers on Friday, May 30th! The print version will be available to order through Amazon or CreateSpace as soon as I get all the files approved; it might be on or before May 30th depending on how long CreateSpace’s queue is. It will follow in other formats on August 27th, after the Kindle exclusivity period ends.

From the back cover:


 

Life can be complicated even while on school break, especially when one is nearly a hundred light-years from Earth.

After a challenging freshman year at the prestigious Cytherean Academy on Venus, Zack Jackson is excited to embark on the Junior Ranger trip to his friend’s home world, the alien jungle world of Valtra. As he explores high-tech arcologies, ancient ruins, and makes friends with species from across the galaxy, Zack encounters clothes-eating insects, oppressive bureaucrats, and natives with bad PR. Yet, despite his excitement, he feels helpless as the lives of his friends unravel before him when they receive bad news from home.

Dire tidings can’t disrupt the Junior Ranger trip, though, and while he and his friends explore abandoned ruins, an unexpected discovery brings an old adversary into Zack’s life once more, and he uncovers the secrets hidden – in the hives of Valtra.

Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra is the third novel in the Zack Jackson series of science-fiction stories for all ages.

The Zack Jackson Series includes
Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos
Zack Jackson & The Cytherean Academy
Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra

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