A. M. Macdonald

Author and Geek Culture Emissary. Speaking the word of nerd.

Adventures in Instagram

Jul
01

Once, long ago, I wasn’t so old. (To be clear, I’m only 37). Despite clutching to the past, where I lived on the bleeding edge of technological adoption, the current activities of the young mystify me; specifically, I refer to the Zoomer and Influencer generation. How these kids manage to cultivate followings in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, whether on Twitch or Instagram or [insert platform here], I’ll never know. (Except pro gamers. I totally get that). Indisputably, they are all leveraging something in brilliant ways. I am specifically interested in the #bookstagram phenomenon.

The idea of making books sexy—and designs and places surrounding books—is one I fervently support. And what an opportunity for the aspiring or already successful author. If an author managed to infiltrate the sphere of 20-somethings (and younger?) and seize on the market they’ve cornered, said author could tap into a vast, previously undiscovered or uncatored audience. This is where my adventure begins.

I’ve created an author account on Instagram, and I’ve decided on a theme: I’m going to post small snippets from my #wip—little quotes with captions providing some perspective and insight. The quotes will be dropped onto backgrounds reflecting the imagery of the quote. I hope this will have the effect of creating a pleasing, consistent aesthetic. While I doubt I’ll ever be anywhere good or young enough, or produce anything pretty enough, to compete in the online influencer space, I can participate. I think it’s important I try.

So, we’ll see in the coming weeks and months whether I can develop any interest all all. I’m betting not, but wouldn’t it be nice if I did!

Audiobooks and 2020

Jun
29

It’s been so long. How did I spend my 2019? Not writing, (un)fortunately…? Instead, I spent months producing both titles—Dybsy and Remember the Dawn into audiobooks! The process was fascinating and complex, from auditions and narrator selection all the way through reading along while listening to flag and timestamp errors and ways to do things different. (Let me tell you, if you want to copyedit your own manuscript, do this). Dybsy released in July 2019, and RTD released in August 2019. To date, the audiobooks have proven far more successful than their kindle counterparts. Hurrah!

What’s next, you ask? I must admit I have over seven different works in progress right now, all of varying lengths. (The longest abandoned work is about 35,000 words). That said, I have finally seized on a singular story and I am working avidly to get a first draft done before the end of the year. It is more historical fiction than fantasy, in the style of Guy Gavriel Kay. I am not comparing myself to him, the master of lyrical prose, but I endeavour all the same. I would like this book, once finished, to be my opus. I would like it to be remembered and discussed like Tigana or The Lions of Al Rassan. Lofty goals, but we must ever reach upward.

On another friend, I am trying to get serious about social media. My Twitter is a joke, and will need overhaul in the future; however, my focus is currently on Instagram. I believe I’ve found a theme for how I want to interact. Since I’ve nothing really interesting to share these days but for imagination, I’m going to regularly post brief quotes from my work-in-progress. This should make the page look pretty-ish, considering the design template I will use, and will hopefully ingrain me into the author circles. Whatever results, it is an experiment I am excited to undertake.

Update?!

Feb
20

Hey readers. It’s been awhile.

First things first: I launched Remember the Dawn on December 20th and had a live launch event on December 27th. IT WAS AWESOME. The pictures are still on my girlfriend’s camera, and I promise to upload them soon. You can check out my instagram for the vibe, if you’d like. I definitely recommend doing live launches for all your self-published releases! Even if it’s just family and friends, there’s a special feeling to having a few pints while watching a bunch of people read your work. I even did a live reading! What a night it was.

In the almost 2 months since release, I’ve seen a good reception. I’ve sold 60 copies through Amazon, and another 70 paperbacks at my launch event, work, and at an author ‘signing’ at a local bookstore chain. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention–I totally did that! I’ve also snagged 5,519 page reads through Kindle Unlimited. All in all, it’s not a bestseller or anything, but I think that’s a pretty good release for a self-published author. One more thing: I’m getting an audiobook produced!

The ancillary effect to releasing Remember the Dawn has been an uptick in Dybsy’s visibility. I’ve seen more sales and more page reads. I guess what they say is true: the more books you write, the better you do. It’s like a snowball. This week I went live with my first professional cover for Dybsy, and that has made things even better (I looove the cover, by the way).

So, where I am now? I’ve written 15,000 words of Book Two of the Staringers, titled The Starlight Doctrine. Unfortunately, I’ve stalled out over the last month. I think I might just be Starsingered out for the time being, which is fine. The foundation is set and the story is largely plotted, so I just need to put words on a page. In the mean time, I am making absurd progress on a cyberpunk/dystopia inspired by Alita: Battle Angel. I’ve smashed 10.500 words in three days, and the scenes are stacking up. I already know where I’m going next, and it’s super exciting.

That’s all from me, for now. To those of you who’ve read my books, I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed the experience. To those of you in the middle of reading, keep going! And to those of you who are considering, I promise you this: at the end of the book, if nothing else, you’ll have had fun.

Adios.

REMEMBER THE DAWN is live for preorder!

Nov
17

What a great day.

Secure a copy of REMEMBER THE DAWN for the pre-order price of $0.99. Full release is December 20—just in time for the holidays!

 

What’s in a name?

Nov
07

Today I started debating the name of the series in which Remember the Dawn is the first book. I’ve been calling it the Starsinger Trilogy, but something just didn’t sit right for me.

So I went to the fantastic resource of /r/fantasywriters for suggestions and opinion, and guess what—it took off! I can’t believe the quality feedback I’ve received so far. Check it out here: https://www.reddit.com/r/fantasywriters/comments/9v0i9j/series_title/

4 months of editing later… I’m done!

Nov
03

Good news, everyone! Remember the Dawn is finally ready for print and publish. It has been a long and arduous journey to get my manuscript into shape—I can’t even count how many drafts I’ve gone through—but I think the result will be well worth the time and effort.

Special thanks to Josiah at JD Book Services, who not only provided me with exceptional editing services, but also essentially taught me a crash course in the English language. I cannot believe how much my technical writing has improved throughout the process.

My cover design starts Monday with Jake at J Caleb Design. I am incredibly excited to develop a kickass cover that screams epic fantasy. I might also run my formatting through Jake, though I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on things. We’ll see.

The last and most important step is to plan a launch strategy and design a marking platform. The self-publishing world seems to turn on the effectiveness of marketing, and since I am most invested in reaching as many fantasy fans as possible it seems necessary to devote a lot of thought and resources here.

All this being said, I remain hopeful that my querying efforts will pay off and a literary agent wants my book. I think my core competency is writing and worldbuilding and very much not marketing and promotion, and so a traditional publishing model would likely serve me best. We’ll see, though I am dead-set on self-publishing by the end of the year if I don’t hear otherwise.

What an exciting time!

Beta Readers and Cowboy Dystopia

Jul
12

Can I just say how much editing sucks? I didn’t forget after Dybsy, I just chose not to remember. And this time around I’m much more adept at how to edit, thus doing it properly and more in depth. I’d guess I’m about 50+ hours into the several edits, and I’m now 70% done the final rewrite.

That said, I’ve secured a whole whack of beta readers! I guess the blurb and first chapter sparked some interest on Reddit. There are 6 readers from Reddit and 4 from IRL. I’d guess maybe 3 or 4 will read the entire thing and give me feedback, which is a pretty good rate from what I gather.

I’ve lined up a professional editor that is widely respected for the final touches, and I’m hoping to receive beta feedback around the same time. So that’s where I’m at with Remember the Dawn.

On the side, when able, I’m starting to put out words on my new project.  It’s untitled and I’ve barely written an entire scene, but I’m mind-mapping a story structure. This is the one, I think. Here it is in four words: Cowboy Dystopia with Magic.

Time for the Sharpie Draft

Jun
28

There comes a time when you must print your work and read it page by page, on paper, wielding a sharpie and stowing indecision. It’s time to carve this baby up, and get ready for the final edits with JD Book Services in late July (that won’t stop be from participating in #SFFPIT tomorrow).

First draft done!

Jun
20

There is no other feeling like finishing a first draft. When I finished the first draft of Dybsy back in December 2016, my elation couldn’t be contained, even during the next 4 months of savage editing.

Five minutes ago I finished the first draft of Remember the Dawn, which came in at 117,477 words over 72 scenes. If you follow me at all, you already know the book is a fantasy (epic?) involving starlight magic and magic resistant peacekeepers. I’m sure my first rounds of edits will flesh out many scenes, and likely add a few more. I foresee a final vomit draft word count approaching 130,000, which is right at the high end of the accepted fantasy word length for a debut author (I don’t think self-publishing *counts* for traditional publishers). The word count will reduce over the subsequent rounds of editing.

While browsing Reddit I came across this post: https://fictionary.co/seven-drafts-editor-allison-k-williams/. I wish I’d had this sort of information and guidance when working on Dybsy, because it seems an incredibly reasonable and useful approach. I am going to employ this process as I edit Remember the Dawn. After the final step of copyediting, I’ll start querying. There’s an open call right now with DAW, a highly prolific SFF publishes, for unagented manuscripts. I want to try to get a final draft ready to submit there.

‘Dybsy’ Cover Refresh!

May
29

In honour of Dybsy’s one year anniversary (and stagnant reader activity), I’ve refreshed Dybsy’s cover page. I think this does a MUCH better job of giving the reader an impression of the gamer nature of the book. Voila: