Don Coyote Merchandise: Notepad, business card, keychain

Well, it has certainly been a busy few weeks–and I haven’t even been doing NaNo (to my great sadness–there’s just too much else going on, between research papers and other assignments, and so on)!

But, this seems as good a time as any to do a “quickie” Hearts and Bones post, with some updates on milestones passed in these last weeks!

  • The giveaway that the fabulous Jen Miller hosted on her blog concluded successfully, with @J_Leatherberry winning the free copy of An Immodest Proposal! I also sent discount coupons to both my Regencies to all those who entered the contest, by way of a thank you to them for taking the time!
  • I hit 100 free downloads of Don Coyote de la Merika within one month of uploading it onto Smashwords! Now, knowing that Smashwords is generally slower traffic-wise, than Amazon, this has been kind of cool to see (though I actually don’t know whether this is good or not–but it’s fun to see it happen, all the same). Two people were also kind enough to review the novella on Smashwords (five stars! Hooray!!), which has meant that it displays far closer to the top of the listings when people are browsing through SF/F books, and is therefore easier to find–all of which is really exciting!! I’m always hesitant to ask for reviews, but I suppose I should try to get better about that, as they really do help!
  • Vistaprint, my go-to, affordable printer of decent quality stuff (they can be a bit spammy, but I have a filter on my email, and when I need to order stuff, I just go through their recent offers and see which combination works best for me), recently had an amazing sale, which allowed me to get a bunch of Don Coyote merch for use and giveaways, at a very affordable price (good thing too, as my last installment of tuition was due this week. *sigh*). Of particular use are the business cards with the cover image (by the amazing Kit Foster), and the free download information. I’ve had Kathryn Anthony business cards that guide those interested to Smashwords and Amazon, but many people want to know about the free novella download. These ones, with the cover image and a far more focussed message, should be good, for those casual conversations that end with expressions of interest.
  • Am working on getting Konstantin’s Gifts ready. This has been sporadic at best, but I’m still hoping to have it out around Christmas! We shall see…
  • I also wrote another guest blog post–this one for Sue Santore’s lovely site. She was kind enough to invite me to do a guest blog as part of her regular Friday guest blog column–and I was thrilled to accept. I will post the update when it goes live! This is something else I’d love to be doing more of (this, interviews, and giveaways–and many other things besides), if only I had the time–something to think about in the future, when I sit down and start thinking about how to promote KG, once it’s released.

KG remains a struggle, branding-wise, as well. I have two fabulous and talented artists working on cover designs (one for the e-book and the other for print), but I fear I’m giving them something of a hard time. I feel like Steve Jobs in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent piece (though hopefully less of a jerk): “I’ll know it when I see it”–which makes things difficult for the artists. I don’t have a strong, from the ground-up, visual sense, nor do I have the branding expertise, and so I’m struggling to think of suggestions for how to make the designs fit with what might draw in the imagined audience. Last night, with drooping eyelids, after fourteen hours of classes, meetings, and commuting, I was lying in bed and scrolling through page after page of Amazon listings of Fantasy novels, trying to absorb a sense of what, for me, says “Fantasy”, and how that might translate to my own story. The ideal is a cover that blends the Fantasy look, with the specifics of my story–and that simultaneously entices a reader into wanting to know more…

It’s really been a challenge. With Romance (especially Regency), there are certain visual tropes and fonts, which makes it easy (both for me and for the cover artist). But with this book… it’s been tough!

Still, all of it adds to the learning process–and so even as I struggle, I console myself with the fact that this is teaching me important things that I can internalize and apply, going forward! Even if traditional publishing does the phoenix-from-the-ashes thing (and I suspect it will–or at least, some new and viable model will supplant the current one, possibly with different players), this will be good stuff to know and understand. And if, on the other hand, Crow Girl Publishing ends up being my viable path to publishing even well into the long term, then accepting that there’s a learning curve, and persisting through the frustrations into ever-expanding expertise, will be all the more important a process!