Today I'm very excited to welcome Andrew Q. Gordon. Please help me welcome him here. If you haven't read his book The Last Grand Master, I strongly suggest to give it a go. I loved the hell out of it; so much even that I'm not only the proud owner of the e-book version but also of the paperback. :)
But let's hear what Andy has to say:
The Last Grand Master wasn't my first book published, but it was the first on my own. When (Un)Masked came out, my co-author, Anyta Sunday, had already self published five books and had a following. Me? Nothing. So when Dreamspinner Press told me TLGM made the queue for editing, I had one of those 'oh crap' moments and realized I was on my own. Yeah, on my own and not much to show.
I learned from the first book the importance of marketing. Like most authors, I don't like it and it's not something I do well. But I had/have a problem; if I want to keep writing, I need something to show for the effort. Why? Because at some point the husband's patience will wear thin. Writing, as most know, is a rather time intensive 'hobby.' What with editing, marketing, checking to see if anyone is reading or reviewing – oh yeah, and writing too – it takes up most of my free time. So I made a deal with myself, I would only keep writing if I at least made some effort to market.
Deals with myself are easy to make but harder to keep. It is astounding how much I don't know – still. I read as much as my brain could handle without shutting down and then looked for more. In the end I realized several things:
- I needed to trash my initial, "I'll just do these things now and be done with it" idea and start over.
- I don't think anyone really knows what actually works and what is a waste of time. There seems to be no silver bullet. This makes sense because if there were one or two specific things to do, everyone would do them and they wouldn't be effective anymore.
- Despite how true, # 2 is, there are an endless stream of people who want to sell you their 'secrets'.
- There is no substitution for time and effort. I should have started to 'market' myself long before the book came out. I didn't.
Imagine my disappointment when it became clear there would be no magic cyber dust I could sprinkle over the book and end up a best seller. Worse, some of the 'ideas' being peddled were either stupid, annoying, completely worthless, or all of the above.
One site suggested its members review each other's books on Amazon. They claimed this wasn't a you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours kind of situation. The 'reason' it wasn't 'if you give me fives stars, I'll give you five' was somewhat tortured. Basically you had to offer the book for free to anyone who was part of the 'group' but no one was obligated to review your book or if they did review it, they didn't have to give you a good rating. Riigghhtt. I'm going to sign up offer my book to anyone who'll review it, give crap ratings to other people's books and expect to get a good review from them because, 'we're all giving our honest opinions.' Yeah. That's how it works.
Never mind that Amazon took steps in October to prevent this type of arrangement. Details, my dear, mere details. The site is still touting this as one of the great 'ideas'.
Then there is the, 'spam the crap outta everyone' approach. I knew someone who followed this advice and that is why I 'knew them' instead of 'know them.' I can't imagine a less appealing approach unless my goal is to be friendless and disowned. Would anyone buy a book from someone who bombarded them with hundreds of posts everyday? Sure they have 25,000 followers, but do they have any readers? Or does everyone use a program to create lists and only read stuff from people on their list? But if you pay them, not only will they teach you how to get 25,000 'followers' who ignore you, they'll spam the crap outta their 25, 000 followers – who are probably the same people they're going to teach you how to get to follow you. This reminds me of the saying, the only people who get rich in a law suit are the lawyers.
Somewhere in the midst of all this 'advice' I did learn a few things that I won't bore anyone with, because I'm sure they learned them well before I even knew I should be looking for this stuff. One thing worth mentioning, marketing does have positive effects aside from increased sales [assuming it does increase your sales that is] – you get to meet people along the way. Not necessarily buyers, but people who can help guide you. It has been my experience that most other authors are generous with their time in helping silly people like me stumble around looking for the book marketing Holy Grail. Maybe they're smirking behind their screens and calling me a dumb ass, but in their public and private comments, I've only encountered helpful people. No one has told me to piss off, yet so I guess that's a good start. Now I need to get them on my 'spam the crap outta them' list and all will be perfect. :P
In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity. But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will.
One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.
Dreamspinner Press: The Last Grand Master.
Barnes & Noble: The Last Grand Master
Amazon: The Last Grand Master
Ahead of him, Miceral prepared to engage the Chamdon headed their way when a wave of fire washed over him and the creature. The shield around him repelled the flames, but it startled Miceral enough that he flinched and came to halt.
Another two companies charged into the square from the east. The group from the west reversed course again and returned to guard the western exits. The newly arrived troops fanned out, blocking the roads to the east. Farrell steadied Miceral, adding a bit more strength to his partner’s shield.
“I’ve enough energy left that I can probably blast our way through what’s in front of us, but if we encounter any wizards beyond the square, I’ll be hard-pressed to handle them.”
“Save it.” Miceral scanned the area around them. “We might need it later.”
“Wizard.” A voice called from the group that blocked their way to the north. “Surrender. There’s no escape. You’re surrounded on three sides, and more troops are coming as we speak.”
Farrell forced as natural a laugh as he could manage. “Surrender? Why would I do something so foolish when I hold the upper hand? It is you that should surrender.”
“If you think that, then you are truly the fool. Look around….”
Farrell drowned out his opponent’s voice with a spell. “Your Door is down by my hand, I killed every wizard and Chamdon to the south with a thought, I repelled your pathetic attack on my sword mate, and you think I’m the fool? Does Meglar require you to be as stupid as he is in order to serve him?”
While the wizards checked on the Door, Farrell quietly cast a spell. Unnoticed, a small dark cloud formed over his enemies. Noting the worried looks on the faces of a few, he laughed. “You lot truly are worthless. No wonder Meglar sent you to Belsport to die. Did none of you bother to look? Even a novice could tell my aura is brighter than Meglar’s. I outclass all of you combined, and you think to trade blows with me? In enemy territory? When your only means of retreat has been shattered against the will of your master? Pathetic.”
He watched with satisfaction as most of the wizards stared at him with wide eyes. “I see some of you realize how little Meglar values your lives. He sent you to your deaths just as he does his Chamdon.”
“Which way?” Farrell noted several of the wizards arguing with the master wizard he assumed led the attack. He reached out to the central stone and found it nearly empty. Darius and the wizard constables no doubt needed the energy. Taking a small line, he linked it to his slowly building cloud. With a bit of time, he’d have a nasty surprise for his foes. “I’ve used their hesitation to prepare a few counterattacks. Tell me where and when, and I’m ready.”
Flashing him the barest hint of a smile, Miceral inclined his head north. “I say we keep to our original plan and head north.”
“North it is.” Farrell steeled himself for whatever it took to get Miceral out safely. “Let me give them something to worry about before we go.”