Tag: writing (Page 1 of 6)

The Deer Yard Status Three Weeks In

My sister Susan Rodgers and I published the Kindle edition of my father’s collection of short stories, The Deer Yard and Other Stories, on Dec 9th 2021, less than a month ago. The paperback edition came out the following day. We also distributed an ebook edition via Draft2Digital to a whole range of other distributors such as KoboBarnes & Noble, and so on. A couple of weeks later another we published another softcover edition via IngramSpark.

We published it using my own imprint, Donovan Street Press, in association with my sister Susan Rodger’s company, Bluemountain Entertainment. Because Dad is an author from Prince Edward Island, and Susan’s company is also based in PEI, we are hoping to use grant money from PEI for this purpose, though that has yet to be confirmed. If that doesn’t pan out, the entire enterprise will be financed by me, which is perfectly fine, and the least I can for Dad, who has certainly done much more for me during my life.

Dad is eighty-seven years old and has been writing stories like those included in The Deer Yard his entire adult life. He’s had lots of time to perfect the tales. Editing them was mostly a question of correcting grammar and punctuation (as he put it, he spent his career teaching physics, not English grammar). He did have a penchant for writing in the passive tense that I took the liberty to address. Beyond that my ethos was just to make the stories shine, and change as little as possible. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere it felt very much like mining precious gems. I just needed to wipe the soil off and polish them up a bit.

We didn’t have a launch, virtual or otherwise. Dad wasn’t really interested in that. He just wanted to get the stories out there. We got the word out via Facebook to family and friends. There might have been a few texts, a few phone calls. An email to a writing group or two.

When you’re publishing a book you need to choose which categories it belongs to. Generally you start with a couple, though there are ways to get it into more categories. For The Deer Yard and Other Stories, I chose Short Stories and Family Life. Amazon determined it belonged to Canadian Short Stories. Niche categories like that are important because it’s easier to rank higher when there isn’t much competition. If you search Google for Hot New Canadian Fiction right now you’ll see that The Deer Yard ranks #38 and #39 for the Kindle and print versions. If you narrow it down to Hot New Releases in Canadian Short Stories you’ll see that it ranks #2 and #3, after sitting comfortably in the #1 and #2 positions for the last couple of weeks, beating out collections by such luminaries as Stuart McLean and Margaret Atwood. It is #8 in the Most Gifted category, having once or twice soared as high as #6.

You might think, gee, it must be selling thousands of copies to be ranked so high, and perhaps I should leave it at that. Smoke and mirrors. But that is not the reality of publishing, certainly not Indie publishing. The Deer Yard and Other Stories has achieved those ranks having sold fourteen ebooks and sixteen physical copies on Amazon, and an additional six ebooks on Kobo, for a total of thirty-six books and earning approximately $158 for Dad and a third of that for Amazon and Kobo. Still, that’s not bad for a book by an unknown author by an Indie publisher launched with zero fanfare and out less than a month.

Interestingly, Publisher Rocket (software that helps you analyze the competition and pick categories and keywords for your indie books) tells me that The Deer Yard and Other Stories has 15 competitors in its categories and is on track to earn $2602.00 this month. The former is probably close to the truth, but we are a long way off from earning the latter, I can tell you.   

In fact, the book will no doubt take a while to earn back the investment we put into it, even if the PEI government does come through with their grant. The Deer Yard and Other Stories cost just over $800 to put together. Here’s the breakdown:

Cover Design (all formats): $401.16

Cover Illustration: $100

Vellum (Publishing software, one time expense): $361.59

Total = $862.75

My daughter Erin drew the deer. I believe in paying people for their work which is why she got the $100, though she would have done it for free. The cover itself was designed by a professional, Valerie Bellamy, using Erin’s illustration. The publishing software, Vellum, went on sale days after I purchased it (d’oh!) so I could have saved some money there had I been smarter and more patient. Beyond that, it doesn’t cost anything to upload your book to Amazon and Draft2Digital. IngramSpark does charge a small fee, but I belong to The Alliance of Independent Authors who provide a promo code waiving that fee. 

So, just another $2444 in Royalties between now and end of day tomorrow and we’ll have lived up to Publisher Rocket’s rather optimistic projection. Something tells me we won’t quite make that. But I’m perfectly happy with where we’re at. The important thing was getting the book out there and a physical copy in Dad’s hands so he could hold his first book.

Everything else is gravy.  

Amanda Interviews Joe

Ryerson Student Amanda Raya

A few weeks ago Ryerson student Amanda Raya interviewed me about turning my novel A Time and a Place into an audiobook. I spouted all sorts of inane gibberish and she politely thanked me and I figured she’d go find somebody infinitely more sensible to interview and that would be that.  

She has since done her Ryerson magic on our interview and made me sound not only human but somewhat intelligible. I think her excellent questions have a lot to do with it.

She’s graciously allowing me to post the interview here. Et voila:

Amanda Raya interviews Yours Truly

BookBub Featured Deal

Cover Art for A Time and a Place, by Jeff Minkevics A Time and a Place

A Time and a Place has been selected for a BookBub Featured Deal.

This is actually kind of a big deal.

What the heck is a BookBub Featured Deal?

According to their website, BookBub is “a free service that helps millions of readers discover books they’ll love.” Having BookBub feature your book has been likened to winning a lottery. Because the price of the ebook version of A Time and a Place will be heavily discounted for the length of the promotion, I don’t anticipate it to generate much revenue. But the resulting exposure could be quite significant. Well over one million potential readers will be exposed to the existence of A Time and a Place via BookBub’s marketing tools. If even a fraction of those readers purchase A Time and a Place, or start following me as an author, I will be thrilled.

A Time and a Place will be the BookBub Featured Deal on Sunday, September 13th.

Rest assured I will remind you again on that day. And for my fellow writers, I will write a follow-up post to let you know all the behind-the-scene details of how the Featured Deal went. Stay tuned!

Harbord House Science Fiction Book Club

With members of the Harbord House SF Book Club, the “drinking club with a book problem”

Warning: spoiler alert if you haven’t already read A Time and a Place and plan to…

This past Thursday I had the honour of attending the Harbord House Science Fiction Book Club as their guest author. They’d selected my debut novel A Time and a Place as their book selection of the month. Or more precisely, member Dana Silnicki had selected it.

It’s my understanding that at about forty members the Harbord House SF Book Club is one of (if not the) largest SF book clubs in the nation. I’m still flabbergasted that they chose my book; doubly so that they asked me to attend so that they could discuss the book with me.

This was the second time I’d been invited to discuss A Time and a Place at a book club. The first time was quite a pleasant experience so I was quite looking forward to this one. I felt like I’d made a bit of a mistake at the first book club, though. I’d been so excited to talk about my book, and there had been so many questions, that once primed I had difficulty NOT talking about it. Afterward I felt like I’d talked too much. I definitely didn’t want to make the same mistake this time.

My friend Fergus and his partner Donna happen to be members of the club. They graciously allowed me to crash at their place that night, so we attended together. As we stood talking in the early moments, Fergus happened to mention that he belonged to another book club. I forget what he called it exactly, but it was something like “The Horribly Awful” or “Embarrassingly Bad” science fiction book club. Briefly, I wondered if perhaps I’d misunderstood and had actually been invited to that one. Fergus assured me that wasn’t the case.

We sat upstairs at Harbord House, a lovely environment in which to drink, dine, and discuss books (the club advertises itself as “a drinking club with a book problem”). Dana introduced my book and me and invited me to say a few words. Because she had stood while talking, I did as well and thanked everyone for the invitation and murmured some other inanities. The group started asking questions. Protocol was such that you were only allowed to speak if you held the ceremonial conch shell. Someone passed it to me and I did my best to answer the questions. Unsure whether to remain standing or sit down, I remained standing for the first couple of answers until someone kindly suggested that I could sit down if I wanted to. Sheepishly, I sat down, wondering if anyone was starting to clue in that I may resemble in more ways than one the slightly bewildered protagonist of A Time and a Place.

Dana Silnicki, to whom I am indebted for having selected my book

Speaking of which, much initial discussion centred around the now familiar question of Wildebear’s like-ability (or lack thereof). Some in the group seemed to like his down-to-earth nature while others just wanted to give him a smack. I confessed that I did not know that I had written an anti-hero, someone potentially unlikable. I was just trying to make him real. I listened as Fergus described Wildebear as “bewildered” and saw the light go on in his eyes as he made the connection between the name Barnabus Wildebear and the word bewildered. I had to confess (for the second time) that it was not deliberate (the group advised me to take credit anyway, but I cannot tell a lie). I suppose it’s possible that my subconscious had something to do with it… yeah, let’s go with that. 🙂

The question of the immutability of time came up. That is, the notion that in the universe of the book you cannot change the past. Twice now it’s been suggested to me (online and in person) that in A Time and a Place I create a universe in which neither Wildebear nor anyone else can change the past only to negate that concept later in the book. I tell you now that is not the case. I think the misunderstanding may arise from the number of times Wildebear visits the past. But each time he does so he changes nothing. He is incapable of changing anything because the past (in the book, at least) is immutable. I humbly suggest that if the reader thinks otherwise, they are misunderstanding the events in the book (I fully accept responsibility for perhaps not making this sufficiently clear in the book itself).

That being said, it was clear to me that the book club members had not only read the book but read it carefully. What a treat for any author, particularly one just starting out, like me. It makes all the effort of having written the novel so worthwhile. If only I could go back in time and tell the version of myself that was writing A Time and a Place that one day I would enjoy a night surrounded by people who had read my book and were there for the express purpose of discussing it. I suspect I would make that version of myself tear up.

Heartfelt thanks to Dana for selecting my book, and for the members of the Harbord House Science Fiction Book Club for their warm welcome and friendly camaraderie.

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