Newly revised and reformatted editions of The Gift-Knight’s Quest have rolled out for Kindle and Kobo, and print-on-demand via the Amazon platform. The new editions include spelling corrections and subtle improvements to the text that do not alter the story and should not compromise the sequels.
That begged the question of what happens to 70 remaining first editions sitting in boxes behind my bedroom door. I don’t want to sell these at vendor events when there should always be the newest edition available; new editions happen because I like putting my best foot forward. The Kickstarter editions can still do some good, so I set up an ecommerce solution and gave them a quest.
The big news around here is a fun art commission by Jenn St.-Onge (Bingo Love, Nancy Drew, Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits, and much more) which revisits the cover of The Crown Princess’ Voyage (by Rona Dijkhuis). The book is a nice touch since Chandra Kenderley is a character who reads books, values books, and lives books whenever she isn’t suddenly burdened with the ultimate responsibilities of an empire.
And one more announcement
For a few years now, the paperback edition of The Gift-Knight’s Quest has been different than the ebook, and the Kickstarter first edition of the paperback was never print-on-demand. As of April 2019, I had two people inform me that they could only get the paperback from Amazon via resellers and used copies, most likely because most of the unsold first editions left in the world are sitting in boxes behind my bedroom door.
I decided, partly on spur of the moment, partly because I had been considering it for a long time but never making a plan, to clean all this stuff up. My friend Candice helped a lot by formatting, just as she has formatted the currently available sequel ebooks and paperbacks; thank you! Now the ebook edition on Amazon and Kobo is a newly revised and reformatted edition.
In April of 2019, I sold an average of one ebook per day, or 30 ebooks in 30 days. I’m here to analyze these results and show you what I did. It wasn’t anything genius, but it was something.
My gateway to this was through A. G. Letterman’s Twitter account. From there, I understood that the hashtag of the month was #IndieApril. I would sit there for between eight to twelve hours per day, sometimes longer, refreshing the search bar for the latest tweets marked with that hashtag, analyzing them with my human eyes (no scripts here, I’m not that resourceful) and sharing my book link with or without a summary depending on what was requested from the potential buyer.
If I had a workday, I used every lunch break, washroom break, fresh air break (intervals where I can go closer to the door and remove my respirator to breathe easily), leg of public transit commute, wait at a bus stop, and spare moments before and after a cereal breakfast to search for the next “buy thread”.
I felt I needed to be quick on the draw, so I did utilize my clipboard whether on a smartphone or laptop. While my Samsung device easily saves multiple things to a clipboard so I could choose which to try this time, I used a .txt document on my laptop to source a nearly identical list of blurbs.
Every blurb began as something I wrote off the top of my head, but I needed to do this when I was dog-tired from work or otherwise distracted. I also needed to keep it fresh by employing differently phrased blurbs, even if they said similar things, so I might sound 2% less like a robot.
Sometimes, I just remarked in agreement with the book buyer’s criteria, or a slight disagreement but hoping this was all right with them if they had expressed a stronger preference for things other than fantasy yet considered it acceptable.
For laptop purposes, I pulled from the URLs in the top/first blurb. For Samsung clipboard purposes, each blurb had the same URL appended to the end.
The Gift-Knight’s Quest “[Recommended] for fantasy fans who like their stories complex and well-detailed.” – Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Knights-Quest-Gift-Knight-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B07585WD8X/ Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-gift-knight-s-quest-1 Website (inc. Goodreads, professional review) http://squareonecomics.com/dylanmadeley/sample-page/the-gift-knights-quest-main/
A weary Crown Princess must save an empire from tearing itself apart–but first, she must save herself from the same knight sent to protect her. The Gift-Knight’s Quest
History and two sides of a feud come together in a difficult present, where two enemies must thwart worse evils.
Two descendants of a feud briefly match wits, but there’s far more at stake than family revenge.
Two descendants of an age-old feud have to be allies in order to defeat a more dangerous evil. But does the conspiracy really end with what they can see? The Gift-Knight’s Quest
This is a fantasy story that does have its dash of darkness here and there, be warned; but it isn’t a dark fantasy.
A young woman never expecting to inherit an empire tries to keep her world from unravelling, and a misguided avenger shows up at the least convenient time (but when is a good time, right?)
This is the fantasy story of a guy with no role in life who’s searching, a woman overburdened by a role she never expected to have and the weird stuff that goes down when the two finally get to meet. “The Gift-Knight’s Quest”
They range from serious to lighthearted. I wasn’t that worried about spoilers for a book that’s almost five years old.
Haven’t You Written Three Books By Now?
True enough! I began Indie April by providing a neat Kindle link that would show you the entire trilogy, and that lasted for those days of very few sales at the first week of the month. Then I understood a simple truth: most people have never heard of me at all, so why am I pushing the exciting sequels to something they haven’t even heard of?
I retooled my descriptions and links. For me, Indie April would be about getting people to buy (and hopefully read, and for better or worse review) The Gift-Knight’s Quest. It appears to have worked. The vast majority of ebooks sold were Gift-Knights. There was one Masked Queen that moved, to my surprise.
In addition, a few paperbacks sold online, one of which was a Crown Princess; the other ones, being Gift-Knights and in one case a used copy, aren’t managed in my KDP, but that’s a long story coming to a close that I’ll blog about some other time.
Every book in the series got some form of love, but it made the most sense to sell Gift-Knights to strangers. Should it interest them enough, it would be easy for them to find the sequels.
Lifting Others Up As You Climb
Twitter is a community of conversations. If you get anywhere, you get there by the sheer force of others lifting you up. It’s good to find ways to demonstrate that you wish your fellow indie authors well; you lift them up. It’s a way to help people understand who you really are, within reason and your means.
One basic way to do this was the retweeting/sharing of threads I was hitting up. This not only helped my network of people get a turn to offer their book, but it helped buyers find a platform and access to book buying possibilities. The biggest obstacle indie authors face, off the top of my head, is being in a vast ocean of other authors where most of us have equal access to shout at the same volume. It can all get unintelligible unless we organize the signal and the noise somehow.
Here was an event where someone–many someones–actually wanted me to send a book link, a blurb, something; I feel self-conscious advertising my work, even trying to sell at an in-person market, but this felt liberating. It might have been a strain on any of my usual followers who were geared to get notifications every time I tweeted, and I accept that I may have been muted by some.
I didn’t view other indie authors as my competition. I wanted us all to win, somehow. It doesn’t seem like a zero sum game to me when there are so many threads and so many different buyer criteria, and it’s not like every thread ended with one book being purchased.
I was both buyer and seller. I purchased about 30 Kindle ebooks of varying prices. My royalties went most of the way to covering the difference, but the loss I took was minimal given that I didn’t have to purchase a single ad. Some premium ebooks still lurk in my Wish List for another time. I still look at it as a win despite what the ledger would tell you, because I didn’t just drop money down the bottomless pit of ad spend. I have books to read. If they’re great, I can read them as many times as I want.
Sometimes, I had no hope in a thread because the buyer strictly wanted romance, erotic fiction, sci-fi, LGBTQ and/or POC main characters, and other reasonable criteria that The Gift-Knight’s Quest doesn’t fit. That’s when I simply liked the thread to boost its signal and shared to my expanding Twitter base in case the others had a book that fit the criteria.
(Indie April expanded my Twitter following to 1000+, or about 400+ more than I remember having to start with. The list of people I follow also expanded, though not at nearly the pace. I can only keep up with so many.)
Threads got messy. Helping is about listening, and I tried never to post a blurb/link to a thread where my work was strictly ruled out. I sympathize with a desperate feeling; so easy to say I sought to practice restraint when I was having such a great time, I don’t feel like I’m better than anyone who kept trying just in case. I’m sure I missed the point a few times.
Peaks and Valleys
Amazon Bestseller Rank is an interesting beast I know little about, but I feel like the ranking algorithm approves of streaks. Once the first lackluster week was over and I had a better approach, I was able to start selling on more consecutive days, sometimes 2 or 3 books per day. This led to the highest rank The Gift-Knight’s Quest has probably ever had in the time since I took the ebook reins from Matador Books: 57,777.
From there, I was happy to slow up a bit, not only giving other people a chance by sharing threads with them as I had done all along, but eventually just being satisfied with what was accomplished; by April 23, I tried not to post in any book buy threads again. As far as I know, the remaining sales for the month were delayed/legacy sales from threads where the buyer took time to decide. I may have caved a small number of times right near the end, but nothing like the fever pitch search-bar-refreshing and thread-pushing of those middle weeks.
It was fun. I’m adjusting to my previous activity levels and interactions. There is an Indie May, but it’s more about reviewing the books we bought during Indie April. I’m only on the 4th or 5th book of my purchase list, so I may have to get a move on. Some of us rightly ask why we shouldn’t find ways to promote indies all year.
I’m having a Trunk Sale at the Bazaar of the Bizarre. Copies which have been in my suitcase for too long and dinged because of it (yet still feature all the words inside, intact) are going at a steep discount. There will also be new copies, including the newest edition of The Masked Queen’s Lament. There are no old/suitcase copies of that third book, just new ones.
Check back for any further news between now and April 21.
Today I would like to have a brief chat with you about quantifying revisions. It’s great to say we went through a manuscript from top to bottom and thoroughly scoured it. Generally, we work hard and that’s all anyone needs to know.
But what if we want some numeric measurement of what we did, even if it’s just out of personal curiosity?
Tools like Scrivener might already give you the difference in greater detail, but I’m not experienced with it. I’m relatively lo-fi in comparison, just using Microsoft Word for most of my needs; however, Word has some helpful tools to quantify differences when you keep your drafts in separate documents.
Let’s use The Masked Queen’s Lament as an example, because I zeroed in on one necessary change when I went back and fixed it, but I did much more than that. How much more? Well, according to Word:
The image shows many more tools for comparing the differences line by line, but I only wanted one figure to summarize it for you. According to Word, that one number is 853 revisions.
There are also online tools to run a “diff”, or a comparison between two text documents. One such tool is diffchecker.com.
It gives a marginally different result in a slightly expanded way:
In this case, a different algorithm spotted 419 removals (deletions) and 457 additions. The sum of those is slightly larger than what Word gave us, but it’s in the same ballpark.
Numbers, of course, give us quantity. Quality is something else. These measurement tools aren’t going to replace a human who can tell you how one single change fixed a phrase that had been nonsense due to a word omission or a typo. They don’t describe how things are better. Their sole job is to spot the difference.
Have you ever tracked your manuscript revisions in a quantifiable manner? Have you found it practically useful in a particular context, or were you, like me, just curious? Feel free to leave a comment.
Some Thoughts On My 2018
The elapsed year was not one where any new material was written, except if you count sweeping changes or rewrites to a prior project.
What really changed was my move away from transcribing and editing at home as a primary source of income. It had been a feeble and inconsistent living all along, not really a living at all. It fostered inconsistent eating and sleeping patterns. It encouraged social isolation. I had basically been living on ballooning credit while in the city with roommates for what little I actually brought in, and with interest and fees factored in, things scarcely improved once I was back with my parents; it was still quite like paying Toronto rent, but without any of the perks of living in the city. Sadly, that part has only stabilized rather than improved.
But something had happened to me in the meantime where I couldn’t stand transcribing much anymore, and didn’t want much volume of editing. I sure didn’t want to take seasons of employment at Lush in order to make an income that was actually helpful, only to have work obligations the moment I got home. When would there be definite planned time just for me, aside from sleeping? 2018 was when I said goodbye to work that had begun to frustrate and infuriate me, in return picking up more work that paid well enough even if I had a tough time physically keeping up with it.
In 2018, nothing hugely positive happened with my love life, and that’s okay. Love can be really expensive, and rather than keep with previous efforts to date for the learning experience, I found that none of those experiences had been teaching me anything useful or positive. If I got any better at caring for the people who are already in my life, I prefer that. These are experiences of people genuinely wanting to spend time with each other. What could be better?
My heart broke really hard once in 2018, but by the end of the year, I seemed to have regained the ability to have a normal conversation between one human and another with this person. I’ll take it. I enjoyed being their friend before and it would be great if that remained true, and as usual I’m the biggest obstacle to that. I’m learning to handle such things better.
In the middle of the year, the clouds parted and a shaft of golden light enveloped a literary convention. For three days, I got to live a wonderful fantasy where my top billing in life was as a writer, and people I didn’t even know could express genuine interest in things I have created. Some of them would even pay money for copies of what I had done; astounding! I had a vaguely successful time at another event later in the year, but it is different to vend at a place where what you do is very close to why people show up.
Then it came to be that one of the things I had hyped so much was not how I remembered it, in some respects potentially harmful, and I toiled to fix it. I was embarrassed. It wasn’t the low point of my year by far; the theft of a smart device, the invasion of privacy into my years-old email account, leaning on a strapping device in a facility with countless anxious scenarios running through my head, no connection to social media to reassure me that things hadn’t all blown up while I was away from it, the strong desire to just curl up on a concrete floor and pass out and maybe never wake up. 2018 knew how to hit me where it hurt most. It didn’t kill me, but it took a running jump.
It’s about half way into the first month of 2019, and the brink of another working Monday. There’s still no certain path I’m on, my situation still seems as insecure as ever. That’s how it goes. I’m settled on never going it alone again when I finalize a book, and I might be ready to shop around for publishers or agents so that I won’t have to be the sole advertiser or marketing agency of my next work, either. I look forward to my next adventure.
Do you own a first edition? Here’s how to tell
I streamed a YouTube video today to talk about the easiest ways you can tell whether any of your paperback copies of my Gift-Knight trilogy are first editions.
Hello. I’m Dylan Madeley, author of The Gift-Knight’s Quest, The Crown Princess’ Voyage, and The Masked Queen’s Lament.
And I’m here to talk about the unofficial “first editions” of my work compared to books that will be available on Amazon and other platforms going forward.
Now, let’s start chronologically. The [Gift-Knight’s Quest], the first editions were done in a print run via Matador which is an imprint of Troubador Books over in the UK.
So first off you’ll know if you have a first edition of my book because it will have the Matador imprint on the back and it will have the price of the book listed in Pounds Sterling, not US dollars or Canadian dollars or anything like that.
And it will be about what, 10.99p?
And I no longer really have a working business relationship with Matador or Troubador, whatever you’d like to call them, we amicably parted ways as my contract ran out, so therefore they no longer handle ebook versions of this either.
I don’t know how well you’ll be able to tell first edition ebooks or whatnot, let’s keep it to paperbacks.
So, Gift Knight’s Quest is, not only does it have the Matador imprint and the Brit pounds price, it has a full bleed artwork cover. You know what I mean if you’ve compared The Gift-Knight’s Quest to The Crown Princess’ Voyage, where the artwork looks like a box on the cover with a black border around it. That’s a CreateSpace/Amazon/KDP, you know, they didn’t, I didn’t have the same luck doing a full bleed cover on either of my sequels. So the formatting’s entirely different.
So then when The Gift-Knight’s Quest becomes, joins the others as books I have entire control over even the paperback version, there will not be full bleed covers anymore.
Let’s move on to The Crown Princess’ Voyage, because this one has always been done on my own with CreateSpace/KDP, so the differences are rather minimal. The first big difference you will see is actually the finish of the cover.
What I mean by that is, most of these books have a gloss coating, gloss is traditional, for the first edition Crown Princess’ Voyage I went with matte. That probably means that if you have a first edition Crown Princess’ Voyage, there is a scuff mark somewhere on it because, as I realized, the matte was trash. It was just very easily damaged, merely upon transportation. Before I even had all the copies they already had little shiny marks where the matte had been worn off by being in the box with other books, jarred.
So, differences in the text, as well, I mean I skipped that for Gift-Knight’s Quest so I don’t even know if I want to go into that, very miniscule. They’re important, but, the changes are important and they matter but I won’t get into that today.
Now, Masked Queen’s Lament. Because it’s so recently released, it has that gloss cover, it’s on CreateSpace/KDP so it’s not a Matador book at all. But, without even knowing the different things I did with words, you will be able to see on the back of the book whether you have a first edition or not. Okay.
The difference is, if it’s a first edition, the opening quote will be something about how, “Alathea was enjoying the feeling of all her weaponeers watching her and hanging on her every word, and it felt a lot like control.”
And I chose that initially because yes, it encapsulates the character’s big issue: want for control. Control of life, control of absolutely everything, because she didn’t have control as a child.
But, over time, I looked at it and I thought it was a bit hammy, I was already doing edits on the interior having found a bunch of typos upon a casual reread, and some of which were just brutal, so I thought okay, I need to fix these.
So, second edition, if we can even call it that, of The Masked Queen’s Lament, will not have the same rogue’s gallery of typos and errors, but also the back of the cover will instead quote her saying, “Has this been one bitter lifelong lesson of what little love can accomplish?”
And I chose that because it’s a Lament being made by the Masked Queen. So then, it’s the masked queen’s lament. It’s the title of the book, it goes back to that. So it’s very on the nose in making sense.
And so that’s how you will be able to tell if you have one of the rare first edition copies of any of these books, because all of them will be different. I mean, if you ask me, the interior copy’s only gonna be better over time. The ebook edition of Gift-Knight already makes certain better adjective choices when describing characters because I was really really irreverent back then in all that I did, and I kind of cringe at it now like, you know, you don’t need to be like that all the time.
Crown Princess interior words, I mean, I edited the original when I was heavily medicated, and I occasionally encounter a passage where I go, yeah, was I even reading it? So the ebook editions now and the available KDP version now, with its gloss cover, will have better words.
And The Masked Queen’s Lament, it was really important to me that I nail it, I did my best with the second editing run, and the back cover is how you will be able to tell, whether it’s one of the upwards of 40 copies that I printed before realizing I needed to fix the whole thing, which if you bought you likely bought at Ad Astra in 2018 or at Toronto Pagan Pride Day 2018 [Harvest Festival] where I made most of my sales.
So that’s that. I thought it’d be neat to get into the different editions that have sprung up this early on in the game, although in terms of my first book it’s been almost five years now.
See ya next time.
The Masked Queen’s Lament available once again
After a necessary editing run, The Masked Queen’s Lament has returned to Kindle/Kobo ebook retailers and to Amazon in print-on-demand format. I had been casually re-reading through my proof copy and found a critical mass of errors that turned up in the print copy as well, including one puzzling misgendering that ultimately pushed me to decide another editing sweep was warranted; not to catch everything, because self-editing a 128,000+ word document will have its limitations for me, but not to let so much through the editorial sieve.
One major benefit of self-publishing through an easy platform, especially using print-on-demand, is the ability to revise a manuscript and put it up again. Ebook platforms will, as far as I know, let the reader update to the latest ebook edition; it costs nothing to fix the digital reading experience that way.
Things get complicated with print runs and print-on-demand. The “first print run” of The Masked Queen’s Lament consisted of 40 author copies created through Amazon’s print-on-demand service. They print it in the USA, and I live in Canada. Some copies didn’t actually make it across the border without being destroyed, but I got refunds for those, and I believe they were actually the 20 new editions of The Crown Princess’ Voyage I had ordered just in case things sold wildly well at Ad Astra 2018.
Really, that means there is no mass print run here, but the same rule applies: if it’s in print, there’s not much editing I can do. I urged first edition buyers on my FB Author Page and Instagram to turn to page 269 and cross out the simplest yet most offensive error that found its way in, the one that made me decide to yet again sweep the whole manuscript from beginning to end. There are still two spelling errors if you know where to find them, but the most confusing word omissions (i.e. omitting “not” from a sentence that is still grammatically correct without it, yet inverting the intended meaning of the sentence), word inclusions (i.e. artifacts from previous editing runs that should have been erased during a rephrasing but somehow were not), even an outcome in the end of the plot from first draft that I believed I had revised.
All of these things will still be in first-run print copies, but I’ve done my best to get them out of what you can buy from Amazon and Kobo going forward. I am happy to have the book available again.
My will to self-edit future books unassisted is completely broken. Editing has never been one of my favourite activities to begin with, but it is certainly something people paid me to do, to gain a valued role in publications that I value just as much, and to fix some clients’ English in very short documents in return for money that could get me beer or a transit pass. I feel that I did things the way I had to do them, resources being constrained as they are, but I will have to think a lot about how I proceed with future publications.
Anyone who has a paperback copy for the collectability, and also reads Kindle ebooks, should know that this title is subscribed to the Kindle MatchBook program and you should be able to get the Kindle edition free if you own the paperback. You would then get an edited version to read, without paying for another copy, and without me puzzling over the logistics of replacing your already autographed copy. I have never personally used this MatchBook program, so you’ll have to let me know if that’s not how it works.
One of my ongoing projects has released a new issue! Yes, some people wondered where we went, but it was just a hiatus for much needed personal reasons; Auxiliary Magazine is still here, and the Fall Issue for 2018 is now released. I’ve copied the release statement below:
AUXILIARY MAGAZINE FALL 2018 ISSUE OUT NOW!
The Fall 2018 Issue of Auxiliary Magazine is out now! It is available in a Print Edition and a Digital Edition. A Preview Edition is available online, to get a small peak. Information on purchasing the Print and Digital Edition can be found at www.auxiliarymagazine.com.
The Fall 2018 Issue is the fifty-first issue of Auxiliary, a magazine dedicated to alternative fashion, music, and lifestyle. This issue features Miss Rockwell De’Vil on our cover and as our PinUp. It features an interview with Adam Bravin about Cloak & Dagger, an interview with Kevin Haskins about the book Undead: The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus, an interview with ESA, Nina Kate, many fashion and beauty editorials, a Runway to Vanity feature. It also features Anissa Aida, Artifice Clothing, Chromat, Corset Connection, Devoid and Deveil by Chris Carrillo, Gothfox Designs, Isabella Corsetry, Jane Doe Latex, RFD by Rachel Frank, Sourpuss Clothing, Wigs and Grace, and more. Plus photography by Le Mew Photography, Brett Stoddart, Saryn Christina, James Hayden, Laura Dark Photography, Tyler Curtis, and Myles Fearnley, media reviews, music reviews, and more!
Banner graphic for Fall 2018 issue of Auxiliary Magazine.
Upcoming: Toronto Pagan Pride Day 2018
At the end of September, my last vendor outing occurs. It’s the last opportunity this year for people to see me in-person and get autographed paperback copies. It’s the TPPD Harvest Festival.
My usual big day of the year has become Ad Astra, which happened back in July. That’s my ideal time to release a new book and have a more narrowed-down/focused audience for my written offerings. When offered a spot at the Harvest Festival, I decided to try it as a second vendor outing of the year. In past years, I tried The Word on the Street with limited success; it’s big and cool and also easy for me to get lost in right now.
I intend to go over what connections my books have with the Pagan community in Toronto, since it’s not really something I focus on during my usual vendor pitch, nor in blog posts.
They’ve supported me from the beginning, and still do
All the first edition book covers and interior artwork (world map) of the Gift-Knight trilogy came from artists who are situated somewhere within the broad umbrella of the Pagan community. They’ve designed banner layout for vending events and background graphics for book trailers/supporting artwork for the original Kickstarter. They’ve been letting me read aloud at their events, allowing me to host nights such as Danced To Life in their space, hosting the website you’re reading this blog post on right now. Their music made it into my writing playlists. They are my friends.
You might not have gleaned from the text that they’ve had a hand in it since the beginning, but this behind-the-scenes information isn’t always spelled out.
No culture, religion or spirituality in the Gift-Knight trilogy is directly based on any non-fiction analogue. At the same time, most of the names and naming conventions in the story come from our world, and it follows that when coming up with cultures and faiths for the different peoples of the Continent I drew from inspirations. I felt better equipped to provide glimpses of their lifestyles inspired by an amalgam of things I had seen and experienced, than to try and fabricate entire religions and cultural practices in intricate detail.
That’s why we have a variety of things on the Continent of the Gift-Knight trilogy. Derek’s people have seasonal festivals of their own, and mythological/legendary notions of what the omnipresent elements they experience every day must mean; Alathea’s people are comparable, their beliefs would be as different as their geography, and the clans to the north of her empire had completely separate gods before her conquest. There are a couple of notable monotheistic cultures presented, because why not?
These faiths and cultural frameworks are how characters view their world. It’s how they make sense of things they can’t immediately explain, like the seemingly convenient circumstances that set Chandra on a throne she couldn’t otherwise have reasonably expected. Magic is a thing constantly implied or hinted to the believer but not directly or definitively measured, which echoes my personal experiences with faith of various kinds.