Indie Writing Life: S1E5 – Deluxe Recharging

Welcome to Episode 5 of “Indie Writing Life,” my weekly series about my ongoing activities as a writer, i.e. – somebody running a business writing and selling books. My inaugural episode can be found here, if you’d like to start at the beginning. Last week’s episode is here.

Deluxe Hardcover

The proof copy of my hardcover edition of “Bitter Days” has finally arrived. I’m pretty sure IngramSpark must have sent it by Pony Express. As you can see from the photo to the right, it looks marvelous.

Now, this is a bit of an experiment, at least from a marketing perspective. The story is a novelette, plus the volume includes some extras. It’s a case-laminate hardcover, which means the cover imagery is printed directly on the cover. There is no dust jacket. The list price is $17.99, so it’s really aimed at somebody who loves the story and just wants the coolest edition of it for their bookshelf. Oh, and the volume is ONLY available through my online store (and directly from me at events).

I’m planning on doing all my Thousand Kingdoms stories in this format. Later, I’ll also sell a Deluxe Bundle for a slightly reduced price.

With this volume, I’m following in the steps of some of my fellow writers. From a product-selling standpoint, when you provide editions of your books at a variety of price points, your fans will choose the price points that work for them. The budget-conscious will choose the ebook. Those who like to hold a book in their hands may buy your trade paperback. Some fans may very well say, “I like this story or this author so much that I want the Deluxe Hardcover even though it costs more.”

Tip: As an indie writer, I’m always looking for new ways to sell my stories. This always involves some experimentation.

Tip: As you can see, I’m also looking for ways to drive people to my online store. When you manage the customer contacts, you have control. When a third party manages it for you (like Facebook, Amazon, etc.), you’ll always be at their whim for access to your own customers.

Jonelle Crosse Pre-Launch Activities

Jonelle Crosse

The pre-order for the ebook is up, although I have to do a minor update of the content before the pre-launch deadline (which is about a week before the launch date).

I’ve finalized the content for the print edition and submitted it to KDP, Amazon’s indie publishing arm. Like the other books in the Thousand Kingdoms series, it’s full of graphic flourishes. Jonelle is a combat mage, so the scene separators are stylized fireballs. There are also some other stylized fire images at strategic break points in the story. Plus, I have decorative letters at the start of each chapter (from a very cool font that I found).

By the way, submitting a book to KDP is a bit of a process, which benefits from solid preparations. As part of submitting, you’ll need suitable keywords and categories, as well as a properly formatted description.

Tip: There are tools that can assist with keywords and categories, such as Publisher Rocket. Your mileage may vary greatly with these tools.

Tip: Formatting descriptions for the various publishing services can be painful, since you’re subject to the vagaries of their interface. I use the Kindlepreneur Book Description Formatter, which has helped immensely.


If you want to sell things, like books or anything else, you need advertisements. You’ll need them for your website, social media, back matter for your books, and lots of other purposes. That means…graphics, as mentioned above. This week I’ve worked on ads for:

  • Jonelle Crosse: The preorder of my latest novelette in my Thousand Kingdoms series (see the advertisement in the previous section).
  • Stone Spirits: A cover image for this novella, which is another upcoming story in the Thousand Kingdoms. I’m using this as a black & white ad alongside a preview of the story in the print edition of Jonelle Crosse.
  • Indie Writing Life: I’m doing an ad template for this blog series. It’s a layered template in Photoshop so that I can easily customize it for each week’s episode. This one is still in progress, so you’ll see it next week.

You can pay a graphic artist to do this type of work. And if I made as much money as Brandon Sanderson, that’s exactly what I’d do. Since I don’t, I save money by doing this work myself. Also, I cheat a little…I have a graphic artist friend who helps me from time to time in exchange for beer, lunch, or movie tickets.

Tip: Indie publishing requires lots of graphics work. There are tools that can help with this (BookBrush, Canva, etc.). It’s also useful to have a subscription to a stock image service, such as DepositPhotos (although there are many others).

Work-in-Progress (WIP) – “Invisible”

I continued to work on “invisible” (a working title that will undoubtedly change later). It’s still a bit feral, but it’s clear that it’s decided it wants to be a novel. I’m envisioning five major sections, of which the first two are worked out in detail (consisting of 13 relatively short chapters). Since the “re-envisioning,” I’m pretty clear on the overall story arc (which hasn’t significantly changed), as well as the arcs for the five POV characters.

The individual arc for Sander (the protagonist) and Liri (his mundane, non-invisible assistant and quasi-girlfriend) haven’t really altered, but they’ve got more detail than previously. The other POV characters have changed dramatically; there’s a lot more friction, conflict, and snark between characters, which is what the story needs.

My primary new words right now are being added to the first two sections. I’m one of those authors who mostly writes his stories in order. I’m still in the process of re-outlining the rest of the novel, which feels a bit precarious to me. I’ve been here before, so I’m confident I can beat it all into shape…it’s just going to take a lot of work.

New Technologies

As an indie writer, I’m always looking for new technologies that can help me with things like reach, automating tasks, making tasks easier, etc. The newest tool that was recommended to me is LinkTree, which is an Australian-based social media landing site.

What that means in simple terms is that it provides a landing page that can list all of your social media links, book links, etc. There’s a free tier, which is pretty basic, plus paid tiers that provide more capabilities, customization, and branding opportunities.

It was pretty easy to set up the free tier…I did it in an evening. I’m still in the process of distributing the link out to my various websites and social media sites. It remains to be seen how much utility it will actually provide.

Playtime is Essential

It should be obvious that I’m pushing my indie writing career pretty hard. This week, I’ve worked on my WIP, reviewed the proof of the “Bitter Days” Deluxe Hardcover, finalized/submitted the print edition of “Jonelle Crosse” to KDP, finished a draft cover for “Stone Spirits,” tackled two advertisement graphics, and experimented with a new technology (LinkTree). There were smaller tasks, too, that didn’t make the cut to be highlighted in my weekly “Indie Writing Career” blog post.

This is on top of a Day Job that is emphatically not one of those jobs you can sleepwalk through.

When you’re driving this hard, you need to schedule some downtime, too. First, it’s good for your general health. Second, some strategic breaks will also make you more productive in the long run.

This week, my writing group had a special in-person meeting at the restaurant in the local Barnes & Noble, rather than the Zoom meeting that has been the norm ever since the pandemic. Additionally, one of our members had moved away to Florida (but has continued to participate via Zoom). Evan Friedman is probably my top Beta reader, as well as a friend, and he was in town for the wedding of a family friend. So, he was at the meeting…and then we all went out for a nice extended lunch at a pub.

Lots of fun. Lots of shoptalk. And quite a bit of wide-ranging conversation.

Also, this past weekend. My roleplaying gaming group got together for the first time in twenty years. This time, we’re playing a D&D 5th Edition fantasy campaign, with the (30-year-old) son of one of our members presiding as the Dungeon Master. We’re doing 4-hour games, because we’re all busy professionals and can’t afford to do the 12-hour games that we used to do. Interestingly, it adds a bit of a cliffhanger aspect to the games…”Tune in next weekend when our band of intrepid heroes makes their assault on the fortress of the Red Cloaks.”

Again, a lot of fun, a great way to recharge those creatives batteries, and a nice break from writing-related activities.

Now, back to the grind.


A pretty typical week, with a mix of writing-related activities. Despite the amount of effort, I do my best to make the work pace sustainable. My writing is a business, but it’s something I enjoy, too. I want to keep it that way.

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