Tag Archives: Smashwords

PennedCon 2017 Recap


PennedCon is a well run machine thanks to the dedication of Rick and Amy Miles and a ton of volunteers.

Oh wait, what is PennedCon you ask? It’s an annual author convention which just celebrated its fourth year. It’s an event that raises money for Action for Autism by bringing together over 160 authors and readers over two days in St. Louis, MO.

Dominated by Romance authors (I think the first year it was almost exclusively for Romance authors) it is now open for all genres. I will say, if I’d gone in with only my dark short story collections, I wouldn’t have sold much. My young adult sci-fi novel “The Selection” really helped with sales over the weekend.

PennedConSwagI got to meet readers who actually read my books beforehand! For me, that’s an amazing experience. I had one twenty-something young lady (man that makes me sound old!) bring by a bound book she had created with pictures of the covers of some of the books she read of the authors there. It wasn’t like taped together or anything, but bound with a metal spiral binding. She opened it up and there was the cover to my book “Moments of Darkness.” We talked about the book and the stories and then I signed the page for her. Just floored me!

I got to meet potential new readers and sold a fair amount of books over the two days of the convention.

They also had workshops, keynote lectures, and more. At one point, Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords stopped at my table and I had a nice conversation with him about his service. I have one book I used Smashwords for: (Almost) Average Anthology. I used a different service for my other two books. He asked a bunch of questions as to why I tried the other services and what I thought about them. I’m not gonna lie, it felt slightly awkward telling the CEO of such a well known company why I tried his competitors. It was all good though. Later that day he sat at my table for lunch along with several other authors and we all talked a bit more.

PennedCon does an amazing job of after-hours events for VIP ticket holders and authors. We had a pajama party on Thursday night and there was a party thrown on Friday night featuring a lip synch battle. I didn’t get in on the battle, however as the night wore on, several of the guys decided to do one last song. Somehow I got roped into the group and we did a pretty funny rendition of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” And yes, there is video. Lots of them. 🙂 There was a casino night Saturday night, but my wife and I decided to leave after the signing room closed and made it home late that night.

JohnAndMyselfThough I didn’t sell a ton of books, I sold enough to cover my table fee. Beyond that, I got to catch up with a few author friends like Amy Hale, John Smith, Eric Asher, and more. Actually, my wife and I hung out with Amy and her husband for most of the after-hours events. I met new authors to me like John Hartness and Bess Sturgis and meeting potential readers ultimately made the event that much more enjoyable.

I’ve already booked a table for next year. Maybe I’ll see ya there!



Behind (Almost) Average Anthology

I’d been wavering over self-publishing versus traditional publishing for some time now. It seemed so easy to self-publish. I mean so many people were doing it why wouldn’t I?

Part of my hang-up to self-publishing is the quality of the finished product or even the perception that the finished product isn’t that good. I don’t want to be associated with that. If I’m going to publish something I want it to be the best it can be. I want my work to reflect the time and effort I took to create it and polish it and make it the absolute best I can.

But I was still curious about the process. That’s why I chose to publish my first book on my own.

I made the decision back in December to publish something on my own. I have four novels written but they aren’t ready for public consumption yet (I still want you to read my work!) However I did have well over a dozen flash fiction stories from my blog that I could rework, edit, and clean up. I decided that was as good a plan as any and got to work on the project.

Knowing many loyal readers of my blog might not decide to purchase what they’ve read for free, I set to work on the stories to tighten them up and make them read better. I also decided to include two previously unreleased stories that are only available in the anthology. I had to give my readers a reason to at least consider purchasing the book.

I spent many days and many hours on the stories. I soon discovered I enjoyed revision which I’ve loathed in the past. Watching my stories grow to become something I’m proud to stick my name on was awesome. Soon I was consumed by the project and couldn’t wait to work on it.

When it came to the cover, I approached a couple artists I work with for help but getting the sense they were a bit busy, and me growing impatient as the project forged on, I set out to create it on my own. I’m not the most artistic of people, but I found a site where I could create free covers (canva.com) and went to work. The finished product turned out to be perfect for the anthology. I feel it conveys the dark nature of the stories and gives the reader an impression of what to expect. I’ve mentioned before how I can’t stand generic covers with poorly used fonts and graphics. I bugged the artists at work along with a few others to get their opinion. I took their advice which helped tremendously.

With a cover and the stories ready to go, I set to work on getting it ready for purchase. My first stop was Amazon’s KDP site. I used Scrivener to format the book and the files were easy to transfer. Amazon has two pricing structures, one with a 70% royalty and one with a 30% royalty. At first I chose the 70% option, who wouldn’t?, but discovered the minimum price I could sell the book was $2.99. If it was a novel, I could see that. But I know I wouldn’t pay $2.99 for something that wasn’t 100 pages so I opted for the lower rate so I could price it fairly.

I also wanted it available on the Nook. I’ve never owned a Kindle but I do have a Nook though I read on my iPad mini instead. Still, I have a soft spot for the Nook and looked at ways to make it available for it. In the end I chose Smashwords to get my book on the Nook as well as Apple’s iBooks and several smaller ebook retailers. I think that was the best choice for me.

I didn’t intend on doing a physical copy of the book but after talking with a friend who didn’t have a way to read ebooks, I decided to give it a go. I’ve used CreateSpace (an Amazon company) before for print on demand books and chose that again. I spent an entire day re-formatting my book. I had to create a back cover and decide what color paper (cream) and what type of finish for the cover (matte) to use. That was on a Saturday. I proofed it online but wanted a copy in my hands so I ordered 5 proof copies and they were printed and shipped to me by Tuesday. Having my finished book in my hands was an awesome feeling! I found a few formatting issues, resubmitted the files, and proofed them online. Now I’m waiting for the final copies to show up.

The ebook and paperback copies of my book are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Apple has the ebook available. You can also get them on Smashwords and CreateSpace.

I share all of this because maybe it will help someone make the decision to get their work out there. I’m not saying my way was the right way, but it was the best way for me. I’ve caught the attention of readers I’ve never reached before and that’s thrilling to me. I’m inspired to keep writing. The feedback I’ve received so far has been phenomenal. I’m expecting bad reviews to show up as I’m sure what I write isn’t for everyone. That’s ok. I gotta stay humble.

I appreciate your support. Even if all you did was read this post, thanks! If you’d like to see the final product and purchase a copy of the book for yourself, see the links below. I would be forever grateful if you did.

Amazon:  (Almost) Average Anthology

Barnes & Noble: (Almost) Average Anthology

iBooks: (Almost) Average Anthology