27 January 2012

Stop Hitting Yourself

This past week has been an epic failure for my writing. I've written. . .get ready for it. . .6,000words. Tragic I know, especially when I should be pounding out roughly 1,500-3,000 per day. Damn you work and the need to make money! Damn you Project Management masters degree!

Seriously, though, writing isn't a career for me (yet) and so finding time to write in life is difficult. I'm not complaining, just stating fact. I find ways to write (. . .not at work, of course. . .if my boss is reading this). I mute the TV and bang out a few dozen words at a commercial break. I become a hermit and lock myself in my room for an hour. But word count does suffer due to other activities.
I wil work on this.

So this week's blog? More lessons learned from my adventure self publishing. It's ADVENTURE TIME! (Algebraic!)

Don't Be a (Book)Baby!
BookBaby.com was my leap into self-publishing. I thought, "What a great service! For just $99 I can get my book published as an eBook to Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple! Gee golly!" And so I skipped along, my cheeks rosey, and handed BookBaby $99. . .to do what I can now do for FREE!

I'm really kicking myself in the ass on this one. It's not that they're a bad service, per se. They're not. The BookBaby team has been amazingly helpful along the way. My questions are answered in 24hours or less. They have an amazing site. They pay me the moment I hit my payment cut-off. But it's still $99 (or more) for things I CAN DO FOR FREE!

That's a huge lesson here. If you don't have to spend gobs of money on it, don't. If you can spend a fraction of the price using a service like e-junkie to distribute your books in PDF format, DO IT! That, and Amazon has the Kindle Direct Program, Barnes and Noble has the PubIt program, Apple has the iBook Author App. It's all FREE. Okay, yes, they do take a royalty from the purchase. But there is no upfront cost that hurts your wallet. That's the important bit.

Now, BookBaby has sweetend the deal by allowing people to publish to Kobo and Copia, and they have their new print service (I honestly don't know enough their print service to opine on it, so I won't). But CreateSpace has a pretty good deal for authors (have you seen Der Sternvolker on the Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million websites?). And watch, both Kobo and Copia may start offering services much like Amazon and B&N.

Now, if you so choose to use BookBaby, more power to you. They'll treat you right.
...but it's still $99+.

Pimp Yourself
Wait, no, don't pimp yourself. You're not a word whore! Or maybe you are.
What I mean to say is market yourself. And it can be done on the cheap! Facebook ads and Google AdWords are great advertising tools for very cheap. Bids for your advertisement to pop up can be as low as 5cents ($0.05). Budgets vary, but you can execute a very effective marketing strategy with these tools on the cheap.

But what's FREE?
A Facebook page for you as an author/your site. That's free. And getting your friends and family to 'Like' it is free. Because then other people see their 'Like', look at your page, and they 'Like' it. That is also free.
Creating a Sell Page for your print novel(s) to hand out to local book/comic stores with Microsoft Publisher/Scribus and Adobe Acrobat? This is free (Scribus is very free to download and use).
A Twitter account is free. Everyone has the Twitters! Follow other authors, publishers, agents, and stuff you like. I follow Woodchuck Cider on Twitter (I could use like ten Woodchuck Ciders right now).
A Blog account is free.
A YouTube account is free (although a digital camcorder isn't free, unless built into your computer). Microsoft Movie Maker is free. And there's a ton of stock music and images that are free online. You can make your own free advertisements!
Another great FREE thing: going up and talking to people about your stuff. Though comic/sci-fi/fantasy conventions aren't free, they aren't terribly expensive. Just stay local (ComicCon is definitely not free in any way shape or form...but if you can go, do so and network your little heart out). Book clubs are free. Business cards aren't free, but VistaPrint is $10 for 500 very nice, professional looking business cards. It's not free, but it ain't bad, either.

There are plenty of ways to market yourself for free, or for very little money.

Do Maths
I didn't do maths. That was bad. Want to see my cost v. profits so far?

Item                                         $
BookBaby service                   -$99.00
E-Book Profits                          $62.50
CreateSpace service                -$52.00
Book Profits                              $22.29
E-Junkie Subscription (to date) -$20.00
Total                                       -$86.91

That's bad. The red lettering and negative signs prove it.
If I were a multi-million dollar business I would not be too big to fail and my corporate empire would topple like a house of cards (Noooo!).
So do your maths. Make sure you can make a profit before you spend oodles of money. Then you won't be playing the catch up game (like me. . .shut up).

My action plan?
1) Stop spending money where I don't need to. Der Sternvolker will remain with BookBaby. I've already shelled out that money. But in the future I'm goin the free way. CreateSpace should be my only charges since there is no way to get a print service to print books for free. But I'll make sure there are profits to back that up.
2) Market like a boss without spending all the cash.
3) Write, write, write summore. . .to make more money (but mostly because I like writing. . .and money).

Self-Editing, or: How to Stop Worrying and Love Hitting Yourself
Self-editing is crucial to a good final draft/book. A lot of people are adverse to this. It forces them to analyze their work and admit it's bad. They're forced out of their comfort zones. They have to criticize themselves and improve. We, as human beings, are adverse to such stressors.

We must overcome that adversity and self-edit. Finished something? Drop it for 1-4weeks, then go back and look at it like it's not yours. Then DESTROY IT! Look at the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Balk at the horrible dialogue and terrible word choice! Force yourself to change everything to "said" and "asked" ("Oh no!" he ejaculated).
Wash, rinse, repeat self-editing process.

I would recommend doing this at least 5 times. Five. Fuenf. Sanqe. Cinco.

And then give it to someone else to ravage. A new set of eyes can make all the difference. Maybe they see something that you didn't because your eyes are bloodshot from staring at a screen for endless hours trying to turn your
crap into a diamond. Just make sure it's someone compitent. Run has been given to the wife of a friend of mine who has a degree in english and such. More to follow on that.

That's all for now folks. I'll be out of town and returning Sunday night, so have a good weekend.

"So remember, if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."
- Red Green

26 January 2012

Some Stuff, Some Things

Random post today to let you all know I'm alive and kicking - and writing.

First, I'd like to welcome my first blog follower: Thomas A. Bradley. Thanks for the follow, Thomas.

Next, I'd like to draw your attention to Barnes and Nobles and Books-A-Million, and the fact that the trade paperback of Der Sternvolker is available at both sites. I got all giddy when I saw that. By giddy I mean I peed myself. . .so if you have an extra pair of pants handy. . .

Next, if you head over to the RENEGADE DATA CORE site you'll see some amazing art from Nicolas Giacondino (Aerion the Faithful on DeviantArt). I commissioned Nic to draw up a short comic for me as a sort of foot-in-the-door to the comics/eComics part of RENEGADE DATA CORE. I hope to have more comics in the works soon.

And now I pose a question for you, dear readers: what would you like to see in future short stories/novellas/comics? What settings and characters do you want to read about?

I have a ton of ideas of my own that I'm working, but I'd love to get feedback from everyone.

Next time: more lessons learned in my self-publishing journey.

Until next time. . .

18 January 2012

You Are A Girly Man

That's right. I said you.

YOU are, in the wise words of the iron-god himself, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, a Girly Man/Woman! Especially if you are like so many writers/artists/free spirits out there.

Weight lifting? Please. Running? You're kidding, right? Simple calisthenics? Is that a LOLCAT thing?

If there's something I can't stand it is the (primarily) American virtue to make excuses as to why not to workout.
"I don't have time."
"I'm too tired."
"It's too hard."
"I don't want to get big muscles."

Buck up, buttercup!

Note: there ARE people with real life physical problems that preclude them from exercising. I AM NOT ATTACKING THOSE PEOPLE. I feel for you. It sucks, especially when you like to be active and things like asthma hold you back.

But even then, I go to the gym and there are guys with crutches, casts, and even one guy in a wheel chair, who still make it to the gym and get their lift on. And what about all those guys and gals who have lost limbs that still stay fit in spite of their missing body part? They overcome adversity, soreness, pain, and fatigue to pump iron the way our iron-crushing deity deemed right.
Even if it's walking on the treadmill for 45min each day, at least that is something.

Exercise is important to me. I want to be healthy. And when I workout and lift heavy or have a long, hard run I feel AMAZING. The adrenaline is pumping, and I feel like I'm on top of the world.

Exercising has always been big for me. I guess it started in middle school when I watched Dragon Ball Z.

That's right, Dragonball Z.

Goku, Vageta, Gohan, and all of the other characters were ripped. Every time they training they pushed themselves to the limit. I remember the episode where Vegeta trains in the Capsule with 300x Earth gravity. He felt pain. He was tired. But he kept pushing himself to be the best.

And it rubbed off on me. As a young teen each of my workout sessions were full of visions of Vageta egging me on. (Strange, I know, but it motivated me) I COULD lift five more pounds. I COULD do two more repetitions. I COULD run ten more minutes.

This continued when I got into Battletech. The Clans are comprised of genetically grown and enhanced warriors of different phenotypes, and all of them are meant to be stronger, faster, and smarter than the average human being. My favorite: the elementals. These 8ft+ infantry warriors were the strongest physically, and many of the Battletech novels that have elementals in them described their workouts and the stresses they went through. It was very motivating for me.

Nowadays this still drives me a bit. Warhammer 40K's Space Marines add to this ideal.

But these days I focus more on improving myself in order to be a better individual and stay healthy rather than trying to attain unrealistic goals (I will never be able to operate well on less an hour of sleep a night like the Adeptus Astartes). And I want to look good. I want to feel good about myself.

I admit I did slide off at one point and became fat. I felt awful about myself. I was depressed. I was weak.
And I never want to go back to that. (So. . .I might have a few issues)

A lot of my friends are into exercise, too, and we keep one another motivated. It's become a social thing for me, too.

So, now, allow me to address each excuse I listed above:

"I don't have time" - This is a lie. How much do you just sit and watch TV? How much time do you spend sitting at the computer surfing the internet pointlessly? I do it all the time! Here's a suggestion: during each commercial break MUTE the TV and know out 10-20 push ups and 10-20 sit ups. If you watch TV for two hours you could probably work up to 200 push ups and sit ups! See, is it really that hard?
Here's another suggestion: After dinner, instead of just sitting on the couch and watching TV, go for a walk with family/friends. It helps digestion and burns calories. Again, not so hard.

"I'm too tired." - Some of that tiredness is probably your body not getting enough exercise, and so you fatigue so much faster. Yes, at first exercising will hurt. You will be sore and tight. That's because you are working muscles that haven't been worked hard in ways they've rarely, if ever, been worked. It takes getting used to. But the benefit is worth it. And, after a while, you stop being so sore tired and you have MORE energy.

"It's too hard." - If you keep telling yourself that then yes, it will be. Take a more positive approach that will help you advance yourself. Keep telling yourself, "This is easy." Then believe it. Keep telling yourself, "I can do one more push up," or, "I can go five more minutes on the elliptical." Then do it. That mental part of exercise is all you. You are the only limit to what you can achieve.

"I don't want to get big muscles." - It's not all about getting big muscles for everyone (it is for me, but I'm not everyone). It's about staying healthy. It's about being able to live longer in order to write that fiftieth best-selling novel, or paint that image that captivates the world. Being fit is about taking care of yourself so you can do the things you love and take care of those you care about. You don't need to be an Adonis. You don't need to be like Arnold or The Rock. Just get in healthy shape.

So what can you do?

Here's a simple plan to help you start:
Do three sets of each 15x push ups and 15x sit ups (total 45 push ups, 45 sit ups)
Then, walk/jog/elliptical/bike/run 1 mile.
Do this three days a week (Mon/Wed/Fri OR Tue/Thurs/Sat)

It's simple, it won't kill you starting out of the gate, and in four weeks you'll start feeling a lot better.

Then *gasp!* make a goal to do more! 15 push ups and 15 sit ups too easy? Do three sets of 30 push ups and 30 sit ups. 1 mile a breeze? Do 2 or 3 miles.


Be careful, though. Don't kill yourself the first week and then turn yourself off to exercising completely. Take it slow and build up (over a few months) to bench pressing a car.

Studies have shown that exercise helps prevent serious health problems like heart problems, diabetes, and heart attacks.

The second element of this is eating right.

That's right, Paula Dean's "Ultra-Deep-Fried-Fat-Cakes-With-Sour-Cream-And-Pig-Guts" isn't good for you. Cake, candy, soda, and other sugar and fat filled goodies are very bad for you, especially in excess. When you eat these things and then do zero exercise you gain fat. Fat, in your body, is stored energy that you didn't use.

This can be problematic. You can get injured easier. You can develop health problems. For women it's harder to find lumps in your breasts. Life ends up being shorter (no, the stored up energy will NOT extend your life span).

One of the prime factors of obesity in the USA is our food pyramid. Whomever came up with that thing needs their head checked.

At the base is 6-11 servings of BREAD.

Let's stop there.

Breads, grains, rice, etc. have carbohydrates were are great sources of energy. But they have a TON of energy. The problem: our bodies do not use it all. Our ancestors never ate a lot of grains. Our bodies aren't geared to process it very fast. So those carbs end up in our bodies as stored fat. And then we have to spend HOURS on the treadmill to work them off.

Butts to that.

The rest of the pyramid talks of Fruits, Veggies, Milk Products, Meats, and Fats.

It's wrong.

That's right, that science (that theory) is wrong.

We need to do some rearranging.

So here is the Food Pyramid of Chris Meyer. It's free. No book to buy. No crazy starve-yourself-diet to kill yourself with.

1. Protein - Protein should be 1/3 to 1/2 of your daily intake. Lean protein, preferably. Chicken, Turkey, Fish, canned Tuna (without the mayo), lean Beef. Everything should be skinless. Everything should have the excess fat cut off.  Protein is what your body needs to maintain muscle and the amino acids in meats help your body do what it does. (Very scientific, I know)

2. Fruits and Veggies - THESE are where your carbs should come from. They give you the energy you need, but don't stick around and load on your body. And they are chalk full of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli and spinach (the bagged leafy stuff, not the nasty canned stuff) are my favorite veggies. Iron and calcium. AMAZING for the bod.

3. Milk Products - There's a school of thought out there that says we shouldn't drink milk. I don't 100% agree with that. Milk has protein and calcium and Vitamin D. But drinking 2% or Whole Milk isn't the answer. 1%, or, better yet, Skim, is where it's at. Tastes okay, and gives you everything you need. There's the milk replacements - soy milk, almond milk. Almond milk is alright. Beware of soy milk (or soy anything - more on that later).

4. Breads, Pastas, Rice - BEWARE! And eat sparingly. This is where a lot of our obesity comes from. Too many heavy carbs, and not enough activity to use it all. I suggest grains be eaten 2-3 times a week at most. Just my recommendation. A slice of bread here, a half cup of pasta there. Small. Moderate. NOT A LOT!

5. Fats, Salt - Eat rarely. Once a week maybe. And salt? A pinch at most, maybe in cooking. Our foods are so full of salt these days we get overdosed. Stop using so much. You'd be surprised how good food tastes without it.

A Note About Soy - EVIL! When eaten, soy breaks down in the body as estrogen. Sure, it takes a lot. But think if you ate soy once every day for a year? Men, you will have man boobs and start over thinking the dumbest things (What do you mean we should go to that restaurant? Are you calling me fat?). Women, your mood swings will be even worse than they already are. While soy in VERY small doses is alright, use it sparingly (I don't eat it at all).

The cheat meal - You can't murder yourself with healthiness forever. ONCE a week have ONE cheat meal.
That's right, ONE cheat meal.
Have A slice of cake.
Have A cheeseburger.
Have A big cookie with milk.
Have A meal at McDonald's (although that stuff's nasty as is...).
Have A bowl of Fetuccini Alfredo.

The point of the cheat meal is to reward yourself. You spend the entire week eating right. It's time to relax and have a bit of the good stuff. That way you will crave the bad stuff less.

It's all about self control and moderation.

Here are some great resources to help you on your get-healthy journey:

Arnold's Book "The New Encyclopia of Modern Bodybuilding": http://www.amazon.com/New-Encyclopedia-Modern-Bodybuilding-Updated/dp/0684857219/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326936266&sr=1-2

Men's Health "Abs Diet Plan": http://www.amazon.com/Abs-Diet-Six-Week-Flatten-Stomach/dp/1579549985/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326936350&sr=1-1

Crossfit:   http://www.crossfit.com/ 

Bodybuilding.com's Workouts: http://workout.bodybuilding.com/

Until next time. . .

14 January 2012

Frolicking Through Omaha

Today was the big day. Titanic forces would crash together in a contest of wills for the right to move to ever greater heights!

I am of course talking about my day out and about Omaha marketing my book and not about all the NFL games on (Tim and Tom got nothing on me. . .in my little world).

It was a day of breaking out of my shell and putting myself out there to sell. Each store I visited was awash with new faces and the possibility of rejection. Fortunately there were no rejections (yet). I visited four great stores around the Omaha Metropolitan Area:
- Krypton Comics
- The Bookworm
- Legend Comics/Legend Coffee Shop
- The Game Shoppe

At each I approached the manager/owner of the establishment, introduced myself by making eye contact and shaking their hand and getting straight to the point about wanting them to carry my self-published book. It went something like this:

Me: Hi, my name's Chris Meyer.

Them: Hi Chris, I'm (Kevin, Beth, Jason, John - in that order. How's that for memory?). How can I help you today?

Me: I'm a self-published author and I wanted to see if you would interested in selling my book. Let me tell you a bit about it. . .

At this point I would give them a free copy of my book for the management/workers at the store to read and see for themselves the amazing epic I have woven with words! In one case I provided the book to a manager who would read it, and pass it along to the owner, and then the owner would take a gander at it and decide in a month or so. In another I gave it to one of the workers and they said they would pass it on to their boss. Twice I spoke with the actual owners. Of the four stores, one was willing to purchase copies of my book and stock them.

So what lessons are here?
1) Patience is key. These people are not there to pat you on the back and gush over your self-published novel. They're there to run a business. Their business. And you're effectively a salesman trying to get them to buy stuff while there are customers there willing to pay them for stuff. You, sir/madame/me, are quite low in their totem pole.

2) Be polite. Make eye contact. Shake hands. Introduce yourself. Ask their name. Remember their name. Don't beat around the bush, get straight to the point (that's professional courtesy).

3) Don't have unrealistic expectations. I'm ECSTATIC that Legend Comics/Legend Coffee Shop wants to carry a few copies of my book. But that's one out of four. 25% immediate success rate. The other stores want to actually read the book first before ordering copies, not to mention they have to go through the process of registering with CreateSpace Direct to get the store buyer discount. Not all stores are going to say, "Yes, we will stock your books immediately." In fact, I'm sure if I go out another day I'll have a store or two tell me, "No." Some of the stores I marketed to today might reply with no. So don't think everything will be rosy and perfect, and even expect some rejection.

4) Have your stuff together. Make sure, before you walk into the store to pitch the book, that you have everything you're going to give them. I had: a free copy of my book, a sell sheet, directions to register for CreateSpace Direct, and a business card. Before I hopped out of my car I made damn well sure I had each one.

5) Relax. Don't choke up, don't be tense. Walk in and talk to them like you're having a conversation. Joke. Laugh. Compliment them on their beautiful store, or, if you're a regular at that particular location, talk to the people you know. Things will go much smoother and you might connect with some pretty cool people. This connects with the next point. . .

6) Don't get bent out of shape. So the manager/owner wasn't there? GASP! HORROR! TRAVESTY! How dare they!? Don't they know that the book you self-published is the next BIBLE!? The best thing since the wheel and sliced bread?! More important than the second coming of Jesus!?
Cool your jets.
It's not a big deal. Just roll with it. Talk to the worker you're dealing with as if you were pitching to the actual owner. It will get that gal/guy interested in your book, and show them that you think they're important. And really they are. They're another reader. They're another voice talking about your book to other people. They're also the individual who will pass your book onto their boss/get pissed you treated them like crap and toss it in the garbage.
Jus' sayin'.

So now you're asking: "What's next?"
Well, I shall tell you.

I'm going to get some copies of the book to Jason at Legend Comics/Legend Coffee Shop, and I'm going to wait for replies from Krypton ComicsThe Bookworm, and The Game Shoppe.
I will visit other stores and continue to market my book (Lincoln, Nebraska: here I come!).
I've sent my book into the Writer's Digest 20th Annual Self-Publishing Awards Competition for consideration.
I am going to submit my book to Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million per their content submission guidelines.
I will continue to update Facebook, Twitter, and the RENEGADE DATA CORE website.

And, most importantly: I'll keep writing. Because I just love to create (and would like to make money at it), and to share what I create with others (and we shall revel in our nerdish love of sci-fi/fantasy).

Now I know I said I was going to post pictures of my day. . .
I have no pictures.
So here's Ein:
Isn't he cute? :3

So, until next time. . .

13 January 2012


This weekend will be a big event for me: I'm going to market my book.


I know, right? I'm actually going to leave the house and interact with actual people in an attempt to get stores to carry Der Sternvolker.

*Gasp again!*

It's ironic that, as a self-published author, I'm having to turn into a salesman or sorts. When looking for a new job I interviewed for several sales positions and decided that it just wasn't my bag.
The joke is on me.

So what's the plan, you ask? Well, here is my plan, in brief, for you to read.

*Gasp thrice!*

That's right, I'm giving you my secrets. . .which are probably not really secrets at all. I'm sure dozens, if not hundreds of self-published authors have reached and torn through their comfort bubble and trekked into the world to get their books out there.
Why am I giving you my plan? While "we self-publishers" are not a team, a union, some Occupy Wall Street movement, or a coven (though look at scientology and you could create some sort of cult), I do think that sharing practices is good. Now, ask me to promote your book as a fellow self-publisher and I'll say, "Butts to that, you're on your own. Deuces."

Yes, I am an asshole.

But I digest (lunch, at the moment). Here, in all of its glory, is my plan to get my trade paperback book on shelves:

Timeframe: 01/13/2011 - 01/28/2011 (Though realistically this will be a continuous thing to keep up relations with the stores and genuinely support them and not be that douche who just visits to see if they've got his book yet (And yes, I realize that's a run on sentence)).
Locations: Several local stores I've chosen, and two major distributers
Resources: Local Stores - a free copy of the book, a business card, and a sell sheet
Big Distributers - Front and Back jacket images and information on book to send them per their requirements online
Plan: Part 1 - During set times (starting tomorrow) I'm going to visit these stores in PROFESSIONAL ATTIRE (take note of this; business casual that is IRONED) and visit with the manager. I will introduce myself, and then pitch my book to them. Once complete I will leave them with the free copy of the book, business card, and sell sheet. Then, as a good fellow, support their business by visiting their store to buy stuff. This second part will be easy as I buy stuff from them anyhow.
Part 2 - If/when the store puts my book up I may schedule a showing at that store to talk about the book and self-publishing in general. This to be planned in further depth.

I will post Saturday post-outing with updates, lessons learned, and maybe even some pictures.

Until next time. . .