• Category Archives Publishing
  • Any and all posts pertaining to publishing books and comics.

  • Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm Paperback Book Proof Review

    Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm Book Printing Proof Review
    Watch the video on YouTube by going here.

    This past Monday I went down to Hignell Book Printing in Winnipeg to see the paperback book proof of Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm and filmed a video.

    It is now live on YouTube and you can watch it here.

    Don’t forget to subscribe and do the “like” thing.

    Other videos on my YouTube channel can be found here.

    The copies being printed up at Hignell are for the Kickstarter backers. If you missed the campaign but would still like a copy, please go here for paperback and eBook options from your retailer of choice.

    Thanks.

    Have a good weekend.


  • Nearly Ready for the Winter Season

    The winter season is nearly here, which means this week I’m putting the final touches on getting ready for Heavy Broadcast Mode, which starts November 1. Believe it or not, a lot of planning and organizing goes into making books and comics for public consumption. It’s not just me writing a story and sending it out all willy nilly. Every creator works their own way, but on my end, I need to have certain mechanisms in place so I can publish a story and get it into your hands properly. This ranges from the actual publishing machine itself to the promotion side of it to even making sure I have copies here at the Central for you. Then add on the need to make and have all those systems in place all the while keeping a roof over my head and, well, yeah. Busy times.

    This isn’t over-complicating it. It’s just planning things out so, once all is up and running, I have the greatest resource of all when it comes to creating stories and sharing them: Time.

    Everything takes time. Some things take a mere minute, other things take hours or days, and the only way to have that time is do all that I’ve been doing behind the scenes here at the Central. (Speaking of behind the scenes, a new behind-the-scenes entry is going up on my Patreon this Friday. Join the journey to check it out.)

    To find out more of what it takes to keep the creative machine running, please join my free weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission. It’s a letter from me to you week after week. It’s a chance for all subscribers to have a common meeting point each week to take a load off, escape the stress of the world, have a read (maybe even a laugh), and just breathe after busting butt all week. It’s also a chance to bring you up to speed on all that’s happened here at the Central, things not always covered on this blog. Pull up a chair. We always have room for one more.


  • Creator Breakfast with G.M.B. Chomichuk and Jonathan Ball (Publishing Business)

    Publishing venture sketch by G.M.B. Chomichuk
    Publishing Model Visual Documentation by G.M.B. Chomichuk

    This morning I once again met with writer/artist G.M.B. Chomichuk and writer/editor Jonathan Ball at Clementine Cafe in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. On top of the outstanding fried chicken on toast I had for breakfast, we got to work talking about the publishing business.

    See, I have a major advantage over other writers: I’m tapped into both the book publishing world and the comic book publishing world. While there are similarities in the overall business side of things, there are distinct differences and, I believe, it’s a merge of these two models that are the future of publishing.

    What’s happening in the book publishing world at present is an old archaic system at war with the new digital paradigm. While some adaptations have been made, for the most part book publishing is operating on an out-of-date system that doesn’t work in today’s reading climate which is why most writers cannot make a living from their craft. What compounds the problem are publishers–big and small–stuck in the old way of doing things and writers who don’t want to do anything but write. This is a major problem that hurts both publishers, creators, and readers.

    Ground was gained this morning in coming up with a new way of doing things that merges the best of the book publishing world and that of the comics publishing industry while setting aside dated systems that hinder bringing books and comics to the reader. Some of the ideas put forth were new (to me) and others were in line with the bomb that went off when my workload exploded.

    The above photo–a visual documentation of our little meeting created by G.M.B. Chomichuk–shows how three creators think when hashing out how to create a publishing system that benefits both the creator and reader. Yes, the image is hard to follow without explanation, but will serve as a future reference point for a venture that was brought up during the meeting (details still to be ironed out).

    The main goal with these meetings outside of spending time with friends is to learn something new, have discussion, and then apply those lessons to see what works and what doesn’t.

    In the end, it was a productive morning and one that will stew in my brain for a while as I retool things over here.

    (Please also see my first entry about my breakfast with these two creators by going here.)


  • Workload Explosion

    Batman Coffee Cup
    Pictured: Batman mug from my childhood and my vape unit.

    This morning, I reviewed some things behind the scenes here at Axiom-man Central and came to the unsettling conclusion I have a year-long project ahead of me. The project is not a specific book or comic but rather a partial rebuild of my media machine. This workload is no small undertaking, but it’s an undertaking that must be done. I thought I was busy before and now I have to go into overdrive.

    This will require further thought and scheduling.

    And Heavy Broadcast Mode for the winter.

    And caffeine.


  • Cracking the Webcomics Code – Thoughts

    For what seems like ages, I’ve wanted to get back into webcomics. I briefly had one when I aired the first issues of Axiom-man many years back (along with some Canister X Comix stuff), then took everything down for various reasons. Recently, I’ve been wanting to do a comic again but know it’s a long slog and one that may or may not pay off, whether via viewership or compensation. (Ideally both.)

    As I mentioned in my Patreon reflections article, if I didn’t have bills to pay, I’d gladly give away my work for free. But I can’t. I have myself and a family to take care of.

    I love comics . . . but they take a long time to create. It takes anywhere from approximately eight to twenty-four hours to make a single page depending on your process and how many people you’re working with. Twenty-four hours. A whole day . . . just for the page to be read in a minute or less. And that’s the main hangup with webcomics: Time. Comics take a ton of time and unless you are independently wealthy, a good chunk of that time is taken up by a part- or full-time job so you can fund the basic essentials for life.

    The standard model for webcomics–which typically make money from ads and merchandise while the comic itself is on-line for free–only works for a tiny percentage of webcomikers. All those other webcomics you love have someone behind them who stays up to all hours working on pages and making enough money off it for a few items but not enough to make a full-time living (if they make any money at all).

    And this is the conundrum: How do I make my webcomic monetarily worthwhile so I have the time to make more of the comic on a regular basis?

    I have some ideas, but thus far they all cater to the standard webcomics’ long game. And by “long game” I mean that getting traction can take anywhere from a few months to several years. There is no recipe I can think of that will shrink that time frame, and I’ve done my research.

    This blog post isn’t a complaint, by the way. It’s just getting my thoughts on webcomics out in front of me so I can see them.

    I’d like to be able to share with you my still-formulating webcomic plan–which incorporates old ideas with [hopefully] new ones–but I can’t because it’s still formulating.

    I’ve had a webcomic in my head for coming up on a week–or maybe it has already been a week? I don’t know–that’s slowly being added to every day, my subconscious bringing ideas and notions to my conscious brain and filing them away as both solid form and possibilities. I’m also not overthinking this stuff either because overthinking and painfully analyzing something leads to disaster, if not immediately then inevitably.

    All I know is there is room for innovation in webcomics. I think what happened was webcomics came out under a certain model thus that model became the norm for comic readers. It’s going to take time to break that norm.

    After being in publishing for sixteen years, I know the industry is constantly changing. What worked for book authors ten years ago doesn’t work now so writers made changes. The same holds true for comics: What worked in the old webcomics model doesn’t work now so it needs an upgrade.

    Back to formulating. Will post more thoughts when I have them.


  • Why the Standard “Author Platform” Doesn’t Work

    Social MediaThis article was originally published June 5, 2017 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    All right, let’s talk straight. Specifically, let’s talk author platforms. You’ve read the articles. You’ve been told how important they are. You’ve been given a list of what to include. Heck, you’ve even taken all that information to heart and acted upon it.

    And the book sales aren’t happening.

    So you keep at it, hoping one day it’ll all pay off. Day in and day out you bust your tail on social media and the Web only to keep missing your goal sales-wise. Or, perhaps, you hit it some months and others you wonder what it’s all for. Frustration sets in and you don’t know what’s going on. You did what Author A said. You got your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your blog, your Instagram and all the others—yet still you’re just another author voice shouting into the storm.

    Here’s the issue: you’re following someone else’s advice. Worse, you’re following it to the letter and in the game of publishing, following the author platform advice to a T is a death sentence.

    This is why:

    ▪ Publishing is a giant crapshoot. There is no sure-fire way to do anything. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or trying to sell you something. While true there are basics and groundwork you can lay, that’s all those things are. Yes, your standard author platform recipe should be part of your game plan. That’s no different than saying you want to sell your book but you know you can’t sell your manuscript as is. You need to make it pretty and put it between two covers before you can do so. That’s a given. The basics.

    ▪ The standard author platform isn’t working for you is because you aren’t making it yours. You’re making it like someone else’s or, simply, following the basic recipe without adding the personal tender loving touch that makes your cookies taste better than the other guy’s.

    This is how to fix the issue, written step-by-step, but don’t treat it like an instruction manual. Customization, you know?

    Step one:

    Lay down the standard recipe. All good baking has a fairly consistent base across the board. Have your Facebook page, your Twitter, blog, Instagram and all that. Customize each page and make it about you and your books then commit to a Web plan where you’re active on each on a regular basis.

    Step two:

    Start adding the TLC. Don’t make your Facebook page like Joe Famous’s. Make it like yours.

    I hate the word “brand” when it comes to this author stuff. It turns us into a product and, frankly, art is never about product. It can become a product, but should never be a product. See the difference? This world is sickly loaded with consumerism and people pushing products non-stop twenty-four hours a day. Most of us have tuned out the racket. But what draws us and captures our attention? Unique items and unique people. This so-called “brand” you’re supposed to become? How about voice? After all, your voice is what makes your art what it is to begin with. Why turn that off when sharing it with people?

    So . . .

    Format and design your pages to reflect you and your books. Don’t be all authorish. Don’t be all bookish. Don’t make people feel like they’re in a stuffy library when they visit you on the Web. In other words, don’t be so professional you come off as cold. Cold people suck.

    Into baking or crafts? Build that into your page designs and content.

    Into superheroes and comics? Put up some indie superhero character art as part of your banner and pictures.

    Into sci-fi and tech? Give your page(s) a mechanical flare and make the electro-junkies squee on the inside when they visit you.

    Into horror? Spook it up, man.

    Get the idea?

    Step three:

    With your on-line base of operations already established, leave it alone for a bit and start playing around with other marketing ideas.

    Some items . . .

    ▪ Set up book signings. Table at conventions. Hook up with some craft shows and flea markets. Arrange a book tour, say, local at first then, depending on success, look at traveling out-of-province/state, even country.

    ▪ Set yourself up as a unique property at these events. Don’t just have a plain table. Add some posters and signage. Add some props. Display your books in a pyramid-like tower. Stand out. Fool around. Don’t be the lonely author who sits there with a handful of books laid out boring and flat in front of them, longingly gazing at the passersby, your eyes pleading, “Please come talk to me. Please come buy my book.” I mean, you took all this time to personalize your on-line presence, why wouldn’t you do the same for your off-line one?

    ▪ Casually bring up you’re an author into everyday conversations. You can subtly work your pitch into whatever you’re talking about with someone—choose appropriately, of course—and at a bare minimum leave them with a business card. But have books on-hand or in your car in case a sale is to be made. Trust me, it happens.

    ▪ Go to open mic nights and share story excerpts or poetry. This is your chance to pimp your work, network and perhaps get hired for new projects.

    ▪ Do workshops.

    And a thousand other things. These examples are to make this point: lay your groundwork—that author platform—then play around with other marketing avenues. You’ll be surprised what works. You’ll also be surprised at what doesn’t because what works for Author A doesn’t always work for Author B.

    Book marketing is all about customization. It’s about finding what works for you and putting energy into those things while discarding the things that don’t after you’ve given them a fair chance (i.e. six months to a year or something). And you know what? Even that thing you did that didn’t work for your first novel might be the goldmine that works for your second one. Each book is different. Even each book in a series is different.

    Authors want the easy way out. “I just want to write,” they say. Well, if that were really true, you wouldn’t be publishing as well, right?

    Or they want to be told what to do: that standard author platform recipe. Come on. How can you be so creative in fiction then totally useless outside of it? Don’t you know your life is a story and so is your book career? That creative flare that you put on the page can be used off of it, too. Stop thinking inside of your book and start thinking outside of it.

    After this article is drafted, my plan for the day is to revisit my platform, one that I’ve already customized to me over the years—self-publishing since 2004—and take inventory on what’s working and what isn’t. I’m going to make some changes and try new things. Going to add my own TLC instead of relying on the standard Author Platform recipe.

    I’m eager to see how these cookies turn out. I already know my zombie chocolate chip ones are dead ringers for a win and my Axiom-man cookies are super.

    Screw the standard author platform. It’s boring and useless. But your own? The one with your personal touch?

    That’s something special.

    Get to it.


  • Coming Up for Air – Work Updates

    This week’s newsletter, first draft.

    Writing this to “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. A classic song with profound meaning.

    The last book I published was the tenth-anniversary edition of Axiom-man. That was way back in October of 2016. Unless you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, The Canister X Transmission, then it might seem like I haven’t done anything since.

    The opposite is true. It’s just that nothing’s out yet. However, 2017 will see an avalanche of releases because the following are written and are awaiting production. I just need to write one more book, then away we go.

    1) Secret Project No. 1 (Newsletter readers know the title)
    2) Secret Project No. 2 (Newsletter readers know the title)
    3) Flash Attack: Thrilling Stories of Terror, Adventure, and Intrigue
    4) The Canister X Transmission: Year Three

    The publishing order has yet to be determined, but I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to do.

    Also written is Secret Project No. 3, a prestige-format comic book, and the graphic novel Fox, which has been in the thumbnailing stage since time immemorial.

    There are a couple of more projects close to completion, but I’ll save those for another time. Point is, 2017 is going to be a big year and it’s going to start happening soon.

    Okay, that’s enough for now. Heading back down into the mines. I’ve found a tunnel I wasn’t expecting and need to explore it.


  • Why You Need a Newsletter

    The Canister X Transmission Years One and Two
    The Collected Editions of The Canister X Transmission Years One and Two
    This article was originally published November 28, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    The Internet is a painfully crowded place, especially these days. I remember in the late nineties when the Web was starting to take shape. There were some basic websites and, well, that was about it. Communication on-line was pretty much email. Now look at us—everyone’s on-line, we’re all shouting, and social media is the main form of communication.

    Unfortunately, there’s just too many people and these days, with every one and their monkey writing a book, there’s too many authors and it’s near impossible to get noticed. Sure, it happens, and some authors build a sizable and—keyword: pragmatic—social following, but for the most part, many struggle in this area.

    Newsletters bypass all the number games associated with social media, the whole like-for-like and I-follow-you-you-follow-me tactics, and all the rest. (Which are pretty much useless because those are about quantity not quality.)

    Productive numbers are where it’s at and newsletters, by their very opt-in nature, cater to that. Do you want to know who is truly invested in what you do? Start a newsletter.

    It’s focused marketing: sending out communication and information to people who have chosen to hear what you have to say. Actually, I don’t even like to use the word “marketing” in this case because that totally devalues the point of a newsletter, which is connecting with readers who genuinely care about you in return.

    Look at the word itself: newsletter. It’s a letter, not a brochure.

    Sure, your newsletter numbers might be smaller than your Facebook likes, but they’re quality numbers, which have more value than just a high like count. The people who have chosen to receive a newsletter from you are the same people who are more likely to get a copy of your book because a genuine interest in you has already taken place.

    There are so many ways to go about doing a newsletter, some of which are:

    ▪ The Plain Jane promo newsletter.

    This is the kind that only goes out when an author has a new release. It’s not about communicating with the reader, but simply selling to them. I find these shallow; see the newsletter work breakdown above.

    ▪ The monthly update newsletter.

    Typically something sent out once a month, this is the newsletter where the author says what’s going on with them, where what project is at in the production process and to promote a book(s) or event or something.

    ▪ The weekly newsletter.

    My personal favorite and the kind I run, which I’ll get to in a moment. The weekly version can be like the monthly one, just sent out weekly. Or it can be about creating a dialogue with the readers and talking points of interest, usually to do with writing or books or entertainment.

    My weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission—presently in its second year—has four main points: writing/publishing/marketing tip of the week; book/comic spotlight from my catalog; creator spotlight focusing on indie and mainstream creators who’ve impacted my career; rant of the week, which is basically a positive or negative thing depending on what’s been heavily on my mind for the past seven days.

    I also offer a free thriller e-novelette download if you sign up.

    The benefits:

    ▪ regular connection with readers who actually want to hear from you
    ▪ exercise in self-discipline to maintain the newsletter schedule, which then trains you to keep deadlines for other projects like, um, your books
    ▪ an opportunity to market work to readers without spamming, which can lead to sales options outside of the usual channels
    ▪ a chance to encourage and inspire others

    Ultimately, newsletters make the on-line world a smaller place and, frankly, in today’s obscenely overcrowded rat race society, it’s sorely needed. It’s a chance to quiet down, meet with a reader, and open up about what’s going on on your end. And you’d be surprised. Readers respond to newsletters with their thoughts, questions and more.

    Beats an overcrowded social media channel any day.


  • Why You Should Stop Selling Your Book (and Do Something Better)

    Getting Down and Digital DrivethruThis article was originally published July 7, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    Now, repeat after me: selling your book is bad.

    Very bad.

    “Wait . . . what?” you say. “If I don’t sell my book, who’s going to read it? Isn’t selling my book and making money what authors are supposed to do after publication?”

    I don’t know. Is it?

    If you want to ensure your book won’t sell, sell your book.

    Here’s what I mean:

    The on-line world is loaded with authors whining and begging people to, “Buy my book!” They form groups on Facebook, which amount to nothing more than broke writers marketing their books to other broke writers. They tweet purchase links all day and hit up social networks with ads . . . then cry at night because it did absolutely nothing for them.

    How do you get a following these days with everyone and their dog writing a book, publishing it and calling themselves an author?

    Or how does someone who starts from scratch come out of nowhere and move copies of their work without shoving it in people’s faces? (And we’ve all seen them: those authors whom we’ve never heard of move a gazillion copies.)

    To build a following, marketing your book will get you nowhere. Sure, you might catch a few sales and feel like a success story all your own—and rightly you should, to be honest—but to keep those sales going and to build a readership, you need to switch up your game plan.

    You need to start marketing yourself.

    Some people call this branding. What are we? Cattle? I don’t want a brand for my books. I don’t want my books to be what I’m known for. I want me to be what I’m known for. When I’m dead and gone, that’s the thing that matters, not how many books I sold.

    Stop chasing the almighty dollar and start chasing the reader.

    You don’t want to be known as that distant author behind a desk somewhere. You don’t want to be that high-and-lofty literary guest at some convention. You want to be that down-to-earth extra awesome person who’s a familiar face at shows and signings. You want to be that friendly and approachable on-line personality who’s a class act and is genuinely interested in interacting with their readers.

    “But all I want to do is write!”

    Then get out of the business, frankly. Or, if you must write, then don’t publish. As much as I’m an art-first-money-later guy, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to make a few bucks off what I do. The motivation to make cash isn’t to be rich, though. I don’t care about that stuff. I just want to make enough to live on. But I can’t do that selling my book. I have to sell me.

    Let me break it down for you in really simple terms:

    When you first started writing, you went through a lot of trial and error and a lot of drafts. As you wrote a few books, you noticed your style started changing and at one point you reached that magical book where everything was different and you found your voice. Since then, your voice has been your style. Writing is easier, editing is easier, coming up with stories is easier, too.

    This applies to your marketing efforts. You need to find your voice. You can’t just be another author spamming the world. There are ads everywhere for everything. People ignore that stuff. But they don’t tune out unique voices . . . especially if that voice has something of value to say. This is how followings are made and grown. You become known as the author “who’s like that.” Not the author “who’s like so-and-so . . . and a million others.”

    I’ve been publishing since 2003, and indie publishing since 2004. I’ve seen it all. People have come and gone. There’s been successes and failures. Ups and downs. Yet there is one thing that has remained consistent throughout all of it: the authors who found their marketing voice are the ones who are still doing well today, who have a following, and have cultivated loyal readers based on who they are and not just their work.

    To be clear, I’m not diminishing the importance of putting out good books. Sometimes that can indeed be enough to build a readership (i.e. it initiates word-of-mouth, etc.). But if you’re an author lost to the din of the flooded publishing world, writing a damn good book is probably not going to cut it. You need to get yourself out there and expose yourself to readers by showing them who you are behind the page.

    Some writers niche themselves and become known for a certain thing or a certain personality. Others are more broad-brush. Whatever the case, simply blasting ads everywhere isn’t going to do anything for you. But if you meet people, whether on-line or off-, and not just use it as a means to pitch them your book, you’ll be surprised at how many copies you’ll move.

    Put the people first, your book/comic/whatever second. This is so important. This about reputation and, at least for me, I never, ever buy books from people who blatantly shove it in my face. I don’t care how good the cover is or what the synopsis is about. As a reader, I want to be cared for. I want to know this isn’t just a money game to the writer.

    Art first, book(s) second.

    And if you’ve somehow missed the point of everything above, all I’m saying is be yourself, share yourself, then share info about your book after that.

    Connect with readers first, then point them to the page.

    We good?


  • Convention Basics: Five Tips to Make Your Book Stand Out

    c4displayThis article was originally published January 7, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    With so many writers these days focusing all their marketing efforts on-line, they’re putting themselves in a corner and limiting their exposure. Off-line sales are where the bread and butter is at if you play your cards right.

    I’m talking conventions, which are basically glorified book signings.

    Since 2007, I’ve been tabling at Central Canada Comic Con here in Winnipeg, a giant comic book convention. This show is also a big part of my paycheck, and my books fit right in because I write nerdy stuff like monster stories, superhero fiction and sci-fi.

    A lot has been learned about having a successful show over the years. Here are some basics to get you started:

    1. Display

    Have an eye-catching display. When competing against so many other booths and tables, you need to stand out. Bring a tablecloth because not all shows provide them. Use signage, big ones, like 11”x17” set up on stands so folks catch sight of your book’s cover or what the deal of the day is. Want to really stand out? Get a big banner printed up, one you can put behind you. This can display your name and what you do. It can feature your book covers, a web address. Lots of options.

    By all means, lay your books flat if you want, but if you prop them up on book stands, all the better. It raises them above the table and draws the eye. Simple picture frame stands work fine. I use iPad ones because they compact better for transport.

    Have a series? Lay them out in order of reading.

    Write in multiple genres? Organize them as such on the table. Makes it easier to direct the customer to what’s what.

    2. Pricing

    Big sales point. Offer convention-only pricing. I do ten dollars a novel, five bucks a novella. I make sure the customer knows the convention is the only place to get the deal. Get my stuff at a store or on-line and you’ll pay more. Everyone likes saving money.

    You can also bundle your books. Have a series? Instead of three books at ten beans each, how about three for twenty-five? You can also do a buy-two-get-one-free thing. Whatever works for you provided you come out in the black all things considered.

    3. Book Stock

    Better to bring more books than necessary. Nothing worse than selling out and having someone want something. With time and experience, you’ll learn your top sellers and will stock up accordingly. For a first-time show, I recommend at least fifteen copies of each title. If you only have one book out, bring at least twenty.

    4. Miscellaneous Items

    Scatter bookmarks and business cards around your table. If someone doesn’t buy something, at least you can send them off with a card for a potential after sale.

    5. You

    Be courteous, be nice, give the customer the time of day. Don’t be a fake. Answer their questions honestly. Be active. Don’t squirrel yourself away behind your table. Say hi to people as they walk past. Smile. And, please, don’t do the lonely-author thing where you sit there staring at folks, the look in your eyes saying, “Please come talk to me.” Just be cool. Relax. With time and experience, you’ll find what works for you in your personable approach. Ultimately, be yourself. This isn’t a show.

    There’s so much to expand on regarding the above, but space doesn’t allow it. Why not sound off in the comments below and exchange tips and tricks with your fellow authors? I’ll tune in when I can and do the same.