What I’m Listening to: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

It’s been a while since I’ve published a book review. But lately, I’ve been spending a bit more time on the road and have gotten back into audiobooks. And the other week Legendary by Stephanie Garber was available from my local library, so I decided to check it out.

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I read Caraval a while back, and you can find the review here. I liked Caraval, but I didn’t love it. There were a few things I found confusing, and the story seemed a bit one dimensional, so when I finished Caraval, I didn’t plan on reading the rest of the trilogy. But then I started Legendary.

I LOVED legendary. I loved Tella’s character, but I also loved how the story went deeper, how the world’s mythology grew large and full of dimensions. There was so much more to Legendary than there was to Caraval. And the audiobook was very well done. All of the voices felt natural but weren’t too much (With the exception of one, maybe). I found the speed perfect (Note: I listen to my audiobooks at 1.25 times, otherwise I feel they move too slowly)

This is a case where the sequel is better than the first book, which I find rarely happens. But this trilogy does it. So if you read Caraval but were less than thrilled, give Legendary a chance anyway, it might just surprise you. It sure surprised me, and I can’t wait to listen to Finale.

Have you read Caraval or Legendary?

JEH

Did An Amazon Pre-Order Work for Me? No

The other week I put the final book of Artifacts of Avalum on sale on Amazon Pre-Order. This was the first time I’d ever tried an Amazon Pre-Order, as the changing of the rules made it easier and more convenient, since I didn’t have to 100% ready, uploaded manuscript prior to beginning the pre-order period. This I like. But did a pre-order period do anything for me? Did it magically boost my sales or make my book more find-able?

The short answer: No.

But, the long answer is more like: I did absolutely no pre-marketing for this book, and if you know self-publishing at all, you know that just because you hit the publish button that doesn’t mean your book is suddenly find-able. It only means that your book has suddenly appeared on the shelves of 15M+ books on the virtual Amazon store.

So market people, market! (Oh, by the way, did you know that all three books of the Artifacts of Avalum series are now available for purchase at all major ebook retailers!?!? And they are all on sale for $0.99!! Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Nook)

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Lol. So would I do a pre-order period again? Maybe. Possibly. IF I was ready to kick up my marketing at the same time. But getting a book ready for publication is enough work, let alone developing the marketing plan. So Maybe. Depending on the book.

Have you ever bought a book pre-order? I don’t think I ever have. But if you have, I would love to know.

JEH

Indie Publishing and the New Amazon Pre-Order

I’m getting set to release The Chain, the third and final book in my Artifacts of Avalum series. Due to plenty of other projects that have kept me busy, including my day job, The Chain is coming out much later than I initially anticipated (By like, a whole year! Yikes! (If you’ve been patiently waiting, my apologies). But in all the time I’ve been working away on The Chain, Amazon, as always, has been working away making changes to their Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

One of the most recent changes is that Amazon now allows Indie authors to put their book up for pre-order a full-year in advance of publication. Previously, Indie authors could do pre-orders, but the entire finished manuscript had to be uploaded first, and the whole pre-order window couldn’t be longer than one month. I have never done a pre-order before, primarily because if my manuscript had to be completed before I could even set up the pre-order period, then I was just going to hit publish and get my manuscript up NOW. But this week, as I began setting up the publication details for The Chain, I made a new decision: I’m going to put The Chain up for pre-order for a week.

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The Chain will be released on September 24th, 2019. Amazon has graciously informed me that the deadline to have my final manuscript uploaded is September 20th at midnight. As I’m just going through the final formatting for this book, that isn’t a problem for me. In fact, it’s great that I can get the page up for The Chain prior to releasing the book!

I have no idea if a pre-order period will do anything for my sales, but it does really help me in terms of setting up my links, connecting the book to my blog, brand, and even my Amazon author page, which is all great! So check it out, spread the word, and after the official release, come back and look for a post on what Amazon pre-order did for me.

JEH

 

A Map of Avalum: Artifacts of Avalum Trilogy

Part of creating fictional words—especially fantasy worlds—often includes making a map. I drew this map of Avalum by hand while writing The Torc, and then elaborated on the map while writing The Circlet. World building can be the most exciting part of writing fantasy. In a way, it’s like playing Creator. How do you shape your world?

I was planning to including this map in The Circlet (I felt it wasn’t really needed yet in The Torc), but I forgot. So I’m going to post it here before I publish The Chain in the next week. A bit of pre-publication bonus material!

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You can see that I’ve included a number key and legend that describe the important locations in Avalum. Without this key, even I would be lost because it’s so hard to hold all the little details in my head. I find the big stuff often sticks, but the small details are easy to misplace. I wouldn’t want to end up putting a portal in the wrong location, or moving it from the south side of the mountains to the north. When writing any kind of fantasy— low fantasy, high fantasy, or epic—I find a map is a great addition and source or visual information. Plus it’s also fun to draw.

What do you think? Have you ever drawn a map for one of your books?

JEH

New Writing Goals!

Today I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally found the time to share with you my new writing goals for the next 12 months. This goal really began at the beginning of July, and so far I’m struggling to meet it, but I am getting more work done.

So what is the goal?

My new goal is to write 500 words a day.

This is much less than the goal I had back in 2017/2018, where I aimed to write 1,000 words a day and actually managed to make that word count by the end of the year! I’m very glad I did that, writing 1,000 words a day for a year taught me so many things! One of those being that with a day job, trying to write 1,000 words a day and keep up with editing and rewriting and self-publishing and submitting was nearly impossible. But I still did it! So this time I’ve decided to pull it back a bit and aim for that first 500. Except for the month of Nano where I will triple that every day. Below you can see a shot of my tracker for the first few weeks. As you can see, it’s been a challenge to meet that every day. I even forgot about my goal for a day. Two days. A few other days here and there, but slowly the goal is beginning to become a habit and stick in my mind. And that is a large part of why I set these goals, because being a writer with a day job is not easy. It is hard to find time to write, it is hard to remember to write, and it is hard to set goals that are realistic. This helps.

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I’ll try to update once a month so you can see how I’m doing. If you want, feel free to set your own goal and work along with me for the next year. Writing is always nice with company.

Wish me luck!

JEH