Free Book and Excerpt

I know, I know. I’ve mentioned so many things that I was going to write about; publishing on Amazon, my experiences with KDP, marketing successes and failures-and I still will, I swear!

I took on a few extra jobs, I am now up to four including writing-yes I count writing, it’s the hardest/best/most rewarding/lowest paying/most fun/most exhausting job that I have and I intend to make it full time, hopefully very soon. In the mean time, I am now part time at the gallery, working in a friend’s clothing store and doing extra work on TV and film. Keeping myself very busy and as a result, allowing writing and marketing to drift to the bottom of my to do list… I’ll admit, the unimpressive results of A Zombie’s Guide to being Dead’s release have showed that.

And so, I am selling the ebook for FREE!!!!

Starting on January 14th, for 5 days I’ll be using the Amazon promotional feature and discounting the price from $4.99 to $0.00!

Zombie Guide sale

I used their discount promotion last month but the adjusted price never showed on my sale and no one at Amazon replied to me when I asked about it. I couldn’t advertise it when it showed the normal price which was too bad. It was in the 99 cent list though so the sales did pick up very mildly. Let’s see if this one turns better results…

My ultimate goal; to have at least ten reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I just want the ratings!

ahem.

I’ll compose myself. I suppose its the writer’s bug. I wrote a book, now I would love to have people read it and enjoy it.

In the meantime, here is the Introduction from the book, A Zombie’s Guide to Being Dead to help you decide if you’d like to grab a download when it’s free next week.

***

INTRODUCTION

I can only assume that most people who pick up this book are undead, just like me. Perhaps, until recently, you weren’t any type of dead at all and you aren’t dealing with this turn of events very well. Or perhaps you have been undead for quite some time already, and are finally looking for some way to prolong and enjoy your life.

No matter your reason, the time has come for change. Why else would you pick up a book and force rotting, dried eyes to read the small words on this page.

Well, let me just start by telling you; you have made the right choice.

My name is Cassidy Heart. Or it was once before. Now, if anyone asks, I mostly go by BRUUUGGGHHHHH.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I decided to write this book.

In life, I made it to the ripe age of twenty-seven. I studied interior design at CSU, had a banging apartment and a group of models, makeup artists and designers as friends. I use the term “friends” lightly, because although they were my die hard group of girls for GNO or gossiping about the hot new so-and-so in the neighborhood, the moment that I passed away, everything changed between us.

The rigor mortis was a bit hard to grasp at the beginning and my hand just couldn’t hit the elevator button no matter how many times I tried, so I actually stomped my way up twenty seven flights of stairs. It took me about two hours, but with perseverance, I got to the floor of my apartment.

I don’t know what I was thinking; the door handle was impossible.

That was one of my first moments of understanding. Those of you out there who have also gone through the transition will know exactly what I mean.

I call it The Beacon Effect. It’s like a bright light shines into your mind momentarily to show you how different you have become. TBE happened to me right then, standing at my apartment door and thinking; hey, how were you planning to open the door anyway? You can barely move your arms, let alone your fingers.

My only other option was Sally.

Sally lived down the hall and was one of my best friends. And she had just come from my funeral, so I guessed it would be a surprise to see me. A delightful surprise of course, like low calorie cheesecake. She would be delighted and pour me a large glass of wine and I could sink into her big white couch and forget about this ordeal for a while.

I dragged my feet to her door and swung my arms against it. I managed to make a dull thumping sound and waited, but no one seemed to hear.

Frustrated, I knocked my head against the door, banging it three times before stopping. I wondered if she would hear me. I heard talking inside, what sounded like Jess and Alana and Michelle and then finally, perky footsteps.

The door swung swiftly open.

I nearly fell inside.

Sally gasped and stepped back, her big eyes wide and staring at me. She was still in her black dress. Versace from three seasons ago.

That bitch.

“Cassidy?” she breathed.

“Hggggguuuuuuuuuu,” I replied.

Of course, I didn’t mean to say that but my tongue was just so heavy. It slipped out of my mouth at the end and then just hung there in the air between us.

Sally’s face contorted.

“Ew.”

She slammed the door shut and that was it.

That was the end to my friendship. All of my friendships in fact, in one sweeping motion and the sound of a lock clicking into place.

Hah! Like I could have even opened that door.

I ended up spending a few days sitting in the stair well, contemplating my afterlife. Thoughts move slowly when your brain has been shut off and then turned half-back-on.

There I was, a young undead woman with no friends, unable to get into my apartment. Not to mention dealing with clients would be a nightmare, now that I couldn’t talk.

Eventually, the hunger got to me and I was faced with two options. I could either embrace this second life that I was given, or I could allow myself to waste away, defeated.

Well let me tell you something; in life, Cassidy Heart was never defeated and in death, BRUUUGGGHHHHH wouldn’t be either.

Now, it wasn’t easy. I’m not saying that I skipped down those steps into the fresh LA air and became the number one zombie bitch on the block overnight. BUT through trial and error and a lot of hard work, I managed to find my stride in the afterlife, find a purpose and find happiness. And with these techniques that I will provide within this book, you can find all those things too.

Each chapter within this book, contains valuable information that I have compiled through my own observations of my body and my life, as well as the experiences of other zombies that I have spent time observing and getting to know.

 

Keep your eyes open for special tips, just like this one.

TIP

While reading, follow these steps;

  1. Blink! (It’s easy to forget, but any rest for the eyes goes a long way.)
  2. If your head starts to hurt, take a break! (This is supposed to be a positive experience, let’s not ruin it by pushing our minds too far.)
  3. If you start to get tired, take a break! (Don’t use up all of your energy, it is precious.)
  4. If your eyes hurt in any way, stop reading! (Reading can be too much of a strain on the eyes sometimes. It’s not worth losing an eye or two. So if they feel sore, it’s time to take a break and return to your spot another day.)


***

I hope you enjoyed the Introduction! If you want a reminder for the free dates they’ll be posted on the Djinn Publishing facebook page, just like the page to get the reminders. facebook.com/djinnpublishing  Otherwise, follow me on twitter @siennasway 

Thanks for reading everyone! Love you, please comment below, and I swear I’ll write those amazon reviews!

~sienna sway

 

P.S. Here are the links to the book, if you want to check out the pages.

ebook= http://amzn.to/1OgA61C

print= http://amzn.to/1OgAhtR

goodreads= https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27824897-a-zombie-s-guide-to-being-dead?from_search=true&search_version=service

website= www.djinnpublishing.com

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019PIKNBI?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

What’s in a name?

 

rj

Ever since the release of The Oaf Prince, I have been a lot more open about my writing. I tell people the title (which I never would have done before) and I even share the book among my friends in hope that they will share, etc.

It might not seem like much, but for me it really is.

I have always been shy, naturally. Over the years I have worked on coming out of my shell and now I am much more comfortable in my own skin. It’s a good thing. But it has lead to some very unexpected things.

For one, I seem to have collected names. Lots of them.

I use to believe that writing was a deeply personal thing. I still feel that people who read my writing are being given a glimpse deep into my soul. They get to learn a lot of things about me. My sense of humour, what makes me sad or things that I find important and cherish. Every single thing that you chose to mention in writing is a choice and it illustrates you as a person. The difference now is that I am okay with that.

It still makes me blush and want to run and hide when I see someone reading my book, but now I don’t mind letting people read it. In fact, now it interests me learning what my readers take note of, what they like or don’t like. It is like we are sharing a very unique experience and everyone feels the words in a different way.

But before I was okay with all that, I created a pen name. As a teenager I always went with an alias. Then as an adult I chose to make a new one. Sienna Sway became my writers voice. And I love her. She’s like the cooler version of me. She’s laid back, she writes what she feels like writing, she doesn’t care if people will raise a brow at her. She likes to shock people and she also likes things to mushy-gushy that I would probably gag if it was reality. She is my “Adult Writer” voice.

Since I began to share The Oaf Prince not just with strangers, but with people I know, I have repeatedly been asked why I used another name?

The answer seems obvious to me. The story is about a gay ogre. Ummmm, not enough of a reason? Well there are a few, pretty graphic sex scenes… At which point in the conversation, the look that friends have given me is the answer.

I didn’t want to be judged.

The Oaf Prince has turned into the brunt of many jokes around here. It’s Lord of the Rings meets Brokeback Mountain. Every gay person on TV is now named Nemir. Things like that. Its actually pretty funny and since the story itself is a comedy, I appreciate that it is not being taken too seriously.

Now I have another book due to be released on the eleventh of December (so soon!) but it’s another one that I am not really taking much credit for in a personal way.

It’s called The Zombie’s Guide To Being Dead. It is being marketed as a non-fiction, written by an L.A. zombie that goes by the name BRAAAGGGHHHHH. She’s a pretty cool, undead woman who is sharing her techniques to not only surviving, but enjoying the afterlife too. (So, you know, if you have any zombie’s in your life in need of a little direction, it might be the perfect Christmas gift. :P)

Needless to say, the author is listed as BRAAAGGGHHHHH and I have added yet another name to the growing list.

My goal has always been to write as myself in the young adult genre. I am already working towards that point and toward the types of stories that really speak to me in a deep way. Luckily I wont have to alter my name for that and I can continue to write as myself and my created names depending on the mood that strikes me.

Now, I am happy with the decisions that I made in creating my alter ego’s. It may be a bit more work, having multiple accounts on many platforms, but hey, it allows me to flex my creativity and not feel bound by what ‘I’ should be writing about.

Does anyone else do the same? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

~

One more thing! If you’re interested in getting a copy of The Oaf Prince for free, I am having a goodreads giveaway right now here; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27824783-the-oaf-prince

And I will have a giveaway for A Zombie’s Guide to Being Dead coming up in a week’s time.

I’ll post updates on how they go, as it’s my first time doing it. Fingers crossed!

 

Twitter Giveaway Results

THIS WEEKEND…

Wow, this week leading up to the release of The Oaf Prince has been a whirlwind. Along with the giveaway that I held on twitter, I also gave regular tweets to promote the sale of my book, which as you may remember is being sold for .99 cents until the release date, (tomorrow, oh my goodness) September 23rd.

I was hoping to send copies of my novel to book reviewers and bloggers as well, but unfortunately as soon as I had the completely edited copy ready and uploaded to kindle direct publishing, my sister arrived in Vancouver for a visit. I hadn’t seen her in a year and she is a complete firecracker. She’s only 22 and honestly, I don’t know how she has so much energy but I slept for about twelve hours this entire weekend, Sunday night included.

I’ll be honest, that did put a slight damper on my book promotion but I don’t regret that in any way. I was delighted to see her again. But, it did inadvertently make for an interesting experiment. The entirety of my book promotions leading up to the release has been done through twitter.

What I did…

I ended up retweeting the giveaway three times in total.

Screenshot (14)

The image above is of my first post.

Following that, I retweeted the same thing, slightly altering the tags twice. For my last giveaway post, I simply retweeted someones retweet of my original. For me, the most successful tags seemed to be the ones used in my first post; #ebook #giveaway #ebookgiveaway #gayfiction #booksale

I also kept my twitter busy with links and updates on my sale. For a day, my ranking in Gay Fantasy was #85 in the kindle store. For me, that was simply amazing! To be in the top 100 books on amazon in my category! I couldn’t believe it, so of course, I shared that, as well as thank you’s.

My initial fear was that I was spamming the people who follow me, but then I realized that when I log into my twitter, there are so many tweets flying about that I rarely see the same person’s tweets in a day.

THE RESULTS…

The first giveaway tweet generated 23 retweets. The second, very closely followed with 20 retweets. The third one, which I simply retweeted, only managed 2 retweets.

That’s pretty self explanatory and its great for future reference. If you are doing a giveaway, I would definitely recommend a fresh post each day with your giveaway. I would do that in the future, if I chose to do a giveaway.

If, being the key word there.

I have heard people warn about this very thing, though I didn’t expect it to be so black and white. The truth seems to be that if you are doing a giveaway, the people who will take part, may only be on the hunt for anything free.

The rules were simple; follow and retweet. Of the 47 people who entered, only 21 followed. That’s fine, the rest couldn’t be that interested in reading the book. They probably just retweeted whatever came up in #giveaways to get something for free.

This was partially an experiment for me, so of the people who entered properly, I went into every single person’s twitter to see what type of things they post.

Of the 21 people who entered properly, only one shares their own tweets.

You read that right. 20 of 21 people share literally only giveaway tweets. They have hundreds of giveaways retweeted on their pages. Some of them don’t even have bio’s written. It seems like they have their twitter accounts just to get free things.

THE REASON THIS IS TROUBLING…

Well, for one, I spent a lot of hard work writing this book. It took me a year and don’t even get me started on the editing process…

While I don’t expect it to be everyone’s cup of tea-it is about a gay ogre, after all-I do at least want the winners to be interested in the book.

Let’s get real here, giveaways are meant to build hype and publicity. Did that happen for me?

I don’t know how much correlation there is between sales and tweets, but judging by the reports on amazon kindle, my regular tweets were generating as much, if not more sales than my giveaway did. To start with, before I launched the giveaway, I was selling at least two books per day. Since then my sales have slowed considerably. Did my giveaway discourage people from buying what they could have had for free?

I ended up getting 47 people to show some mild interest. That’s amazing, please don’t get me wrong, but I could have spent that time and energy on a different avenue where readers are actually seeking out something like this. I could have gotten some of those blog posts, at the very least. Now here I am, hoping that at least one of the people who won the book will actually read it. Maybe they’ll share it and one of their followers will buy it. Fingers crossed that they even review it… maybe?

Right now…

As it currently stands, I have already sold 16 copies of The Oaf Prince and it has dropped to #396 in gay fantasy. Sales definitely slowed down over the weekend and I am trying to identify exactly what caused that as I move on in my marketing.

My next avenue of attack will be mailing lists, blog reviews and of course, friends!

Tomorrow…

The Oaf Prince will be released! Please follow and keep an eye out for more updates on book marketing, publishing and writing.

~Sienna

Doubt and Book Reviews

CIAN - WIN_20150909_175151

I decided to write this post because The Oaf Prince will be released this month. It has been a long journey bringing this novel to life and I think its one that many authors experience. Doubt is like an unwanted seed that can grow in the mind, watered by insecurities.

To me, this book will always represent a relaxed happiness. Summer stretching forever, in a time that I took off of everything just to write. School, work, and yes, even travel, were put aside. This was the ultimate treat that I could give myself. And I can say, the time was well spent with my family, my dog and two cats, and with my mother.

The story is a light-hearted comedy/romance about a prince, a kidnapping and a forced marriage to a male ogre. At the time, I wanted to experiment with a fun story and The Oaf Prince really helped me to identify my voice as an author and to identify why I loved to write in the first place.

Something happened to me though, in the process of completing the novel. It started with a whisper of doubt, maybe it was too much like this other story… maybe no one else would find it funny… maybe the characters were flat… the list went on and on.

I’m sure this sounds familiar to other writers out there. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to put the book aside, but low and behold, a year past, and then another. I would take it out periodically and edit it, but the doubt never went away.

To this day, I’m not really sure what happened. I have a guess though, that maybe the fear of putting The Oaf Prince out into the world, opened me up too much. It exposed me in a way that I have never experienced. After all, I have never had a full length novel published, and what I want more than anything is for this story to be read. I want it to make people smile and feel happy. What if it doesn’t? What if all I get is a few raised brows and a “she wrote that?” By putting it out there, I am asking for reviews.

I guess the fear of negative reviews might be part of the whole issue. I don’t bother reviewing books that I don’t enjoy. To be honest, I rarely even finish reading books that I don’t enjoy. But I do appreciate honesty. I want to be read and I want to continue to improve my writing. I want to grow as a writer. How else am I supposed to do that?

I guess that’s why I am now publishing The Oaf Prince. I chose to self publish with Amazon Direct (which I will soon write a post on) and finally open myself up to the experience of not only releasing this book, but self-publishing at the same time. I’ve been waiting for years, allowing doubt to fuel me, allowing doubt to keep my book sitting buried in a computer. Well no more!

To my fellow authors; lets be brave! Lets put ourselves and our words and our experiences out there and see what happens!

Today I set the release date and made the book available for pre-order. For the first time, my doubt has vanished. I am excited and most importantly, I am having fun.

Isn’t that the whole point?

~Sienna Sway

What do you think of the cover?
What do you think of the cover?

The realities of being a writer OR The art of not selling

So, as some of you may know, last March I had my first novel published.

Well, it was a novella actually, but with the few short stories I’ve had published over the years it was (and is) the longest piece of writing I’ve had published.

It was a lot of firsts for me. First time working with an editor, first time working with a cover artist, first time having something published as a stand alone and not in an anthology.

It was incredible and fun and exciting and it made me hungry for more. I couldn’t wait to finish my next book. It would be longer and better.

The thing is, when I wrote Cold Blood, Warm Heart I thought it had everything. It was filled with excitement, had sexy chemistry between the leads, a strong heroin and some heart. Also, it was short. I actually thought it would be a quick fun read. You know, a beach book for the paranormal romance fan. I didn’t think sales would be an issue.

And then I didn’t sell a single copy.

It was made available on Cobblestone press’ site, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. and yet not a single copy sold.

I waited in excitement for friends and family at least, to snatch up one of these little ebooks but even that didn’t happen.

My first quarterly statement arrived in my email box with a great big 0 in the “copies sold” box.

It was a weirdly numbing experience. I thought back on the writing process, on how hard I had worked, on how much fun I’d had and I was disappointed. I wanted people to read it at least, even if they hated it, I wanted it to be experienced by someone, anyone…

Eventually, I sent out a little reminder to friends and two of them purchased the book but I couldn’t help but feel it was out of pity.

Then, a young woman I had gone to high school with agreed to review the novella. She had become the book reviewer for a big newspaper-which worried me.

This was a trashy romance novel to read for fun, not a great literary work. I sent it to her anyway, fingers crossed until she finished reading it and I received her curt email saying, very briefly, “I cannot review your book”.

To be honest, it took the steam out of me even more.

You always hear stories about writers starting out and not selling. It’s not that I didn’t think that would apply to me, but for some reason, I didn’t think I would mind that.

I thought that my writing was done to nourish my soul and for no other reason. That’s not true though. It’s so unlike me to even think that way. Of course I write because I love to BUT I also cherish a sense of community. I love to talk to other writers, to share works of fiction, poetry or art that I love in order to inspire others. I love to read other people’s work and I love to contribute. I want to share. That trait is in my very being.

After a while of this deflated feeling, working on every art aside from writing fiction, I finally realized; I would have rather put it out for free somewhere like fiction press, or even Tumblr if that meant it would be read. I admit that I even stopped reading my emails.

I’ve started to write again. This time a YA novel that would be published in my real name and separately from my adult romance for obvious reasons. Yes, I still want to publish. Why? Because being a writer is what I’ve always wanted, whether anyone reads my writing or not. Heck. I don’t mind writing on the side, as long as I am actually writing.

And then I checked my email.

My publisher had missed sending me my royalties. The first quarter I had nothing. The second quarter my sales were under ten dollars so it wasn’t sent. The third quarter I had fallen through the cracks and been missed.

I opened the statement expecting nothing.

There was almost twenty dollars.

There was another ten after that but I hadn’t known about it since i’d avoided my email for so long.

Maybe a year ago thirty-five dollars would have seemed like nothing but now! Now, thirty-five dollars means that ten people have bought my book!

What an incredible feeling to go from zero to ten. I am elated.

Getting to this place took a little longer than it should have for me, but it was a lesson to keep doing what I love. It was a long winded way to remind me to keep going because any small progress is a big pay off when you work for it.

It’s funny, there are so many stories of writers being disappointed by lack of sales but there are very few to describe the absolute pleasure of knowing that even one person out there has read your work.

Keep writing all you authors out there. It is so worth it.

Kissing Santa

All I want Holiday Sip from Torquere Press 🙂 It is definitely a delayed post now that we are in February but I thought I should still share it. Torquere was such a pleasure to work with and the short story has been getting great reviews on Goodreads and other sites 😀