Category Archives: Peter Kazmaier
When I finally received my copies of The Dragons of Sheol yesterday, it seems like the long process of writing this book has come to an end and I can concentrate on the next one, Coventry 2091.
As a novelist who is trying to build his reputation, I realize many readers take a chance to spend their time and money reading one of my books because they have come to know me personally and so have become interested in what I write. Indeed, as a writer, one pours so much of oneself into one’s book you can probably get to know how I think and look at life much more clearly through my writing than simply by speaking with me.
When I first started out, personal sales, including sales where I mailed my books to readers was a big part of getting the word out. In those early days, I could mail my books to readers in Canada for $7-$8 postage (from a mailing perspective, unfortunately none of my books except Questioning Your Way to Faith is small enough to be sent as a letter-sized package). Now, there are so many surcharges that even with a small business discount, it can cost me $17.50 to mail one book to a small town in Ontario (I could drive it there for that). There is no point in giving my readers a $6-$10 discount when they buy a trade paperback from me if the postage costs $17.50. If you buy from Amazon®, you can often get free shipping if you are willing to aggregate orders. For Chapter/Indigo® one can avoid shipping cost all together if one is will to drive to the nearest store for pickup.
So where does that leave me? I had discussed this change in the dynamics Indie book publishing in a previous post. For me it means personal sales that avoid postage charges are very important. I always carry a few carefully bubble-wrapped copies of my books in a satchel in my van. If people express an interest in my writing when they meet me, I can let them buy a book from me directly and avoid the postage charges. So if you see me, and want one of my books at a discount, be sure to ask.
Wolfsburg Imprints has never run a sale on The Battle for Halcyon, but they are running a 99-cent sale now on this e-book for a limited time as launch-bonus for book 3, The Dragons of Sheol. If you haven’t yet tried books 1 and 2 in The Halcyon Cycle or, if you’re like me, and wish to have an e-book copy for reading after “lights out,” now is the time to take advantage of this special value. You’ll need a free Kindle® app on your smart phone or tablet to read these e-books.
Download the e-books from my Amazon® author page.
For my Canadian readers, even though my publisher (Word Alive Press) is based in Winnipeg, the Amazon sale listing in is USD. That currently translates approximately to $1.32 CAD.
Barnes and Noble® were the first to list The Dragons of Sheol. If you would like to check it out, here is the link.
When people ask me this question, they are usually asking because they or someone they know is active or will be active in writing a book, and they are wondering what to expect. Others ask it because they are skeptical that it is even possible to make money without going through a traditional publisher.
My answer is usually a qualified “yes” it is possible (but certainly not guaranteed) to make money through an indie or as I prefer to call it, a micro-publishing endeavor.
Why the qualification? There are three basic reasons.
Indie or Micro-Publishing is a Small Business Endeavor
The first thing that one has to remember: Micro-Publishing is a small business. Like other small businesses, this means you will likely not be making money out of the starting gate. Rather, like other small business start-ups, you will have to put in long hours with little remuneration, and finally there is significant risk that you will run out of money, patience, or interest before the business begins to pay off. This comes with the territory of starting something you own.
A case in point, many writers that try to find a traditional publisher also spend a great deal of time writing with no remuneration and then attempting to convince a publisher to take on their manuscript (also with no remuneration). This start-up time when taking the traditional route is often excluded from pay-back calculations. The writers who run out of money, patience, or interest choosing this route are ignored leading to a “survivor bias” when comparing traditionally published authors with indie authors.
Many writers augment their early cash flow with writing-related income, for example, editing, free-lance magazine submissions, contract writing for trade journal or instruction manuals. In my own case, since I write Science Fiction, I tutor in physics and chemistry, as well as provide chemistry consulting as a way of staying connected to science.
Indie or Micro-Publishing is an Annuity Business
Secondly, Micro-Publishing is an annuity-driven small business. When you publish your first book, there will be an initial flurry of interest and then slower sales over the long term. Long-term sales depend on how many people hear about your book and hear enough good things to take a chance to buy it. You may also get copyright remuneration or some remuneration for library usage. These long-term sales are your annuity.
The key point: as you write more books, this annuity stream will grow, but often in the initial stages, the up-front costs of writing and publishing more books will grow faster than the annuity stream.
Most Writers Care About the Art as Much or More than They Care About the Business
Finally, writers are artists as well as business-owners. They have a message or art they wish to develop which is often more important to them than the money. I’ve often been told, “If you wrote Science Fiction more like mainstream SF, you would sell more books.” I think that’s true, but I wanted to write Science Fiction that I would like to read but no one else has bothered to write. For me that means I explore worldview, spiritual, and philosophic questions as well as maintaining a strong science component in my novels. Not optimizing only for the money, probably puts one on a slower growth trajectory, but through it I hope to connect with kindred spirits who long for the same kind of story that I seek.
So What Should I Worry About as an Indie Writer?
First, ask yourself what happens if my next book goes viral and hundreds, even thousands of readers want it at once? Can your distribution system handle it? If you only sell personal copies or mail them yourself, the answer is probably “no.” If some other organization handles the sales, then the answer is likely “yes.” In other words, make sure your distribution channel is scalable in case the breakthrough you hope for happens.
Writers are often taught to market aggressively. I won’t do that for two reasons: (1) I don’t want to approach anyone in a way that I would not want to be approached. I don’t like aggressive tactics so I won’t use them. (2) I started to realize that when friends would see me, they would immediately think “I haven’t bought Peter’s book yet.” I don’t want that either. Their friendship is much more important to me than a sale. They need to know that they don’t have to like or buy my books to be my friend. That thought should not even come up.
As a consequence, most of my “advertising” or marketing is low-key on social media, by email signatures, or by magnetic signs on my vehicle. Word of mouth, without my intervention, is still the best form of advertising. Improving my writing craft so that readers will enjoy my books so much that they will give them as gifts or recommend them to friends and family is my long term objective.
3. Things Change Unexpectedly
When I published my first book, it was still possible to use Canada Post to mail books to customers at a reasonable shipping charge. Now so many surcharges, special charges have been added that even with a small-business discount, it can cost me $17.50 to ship one book to a nearby small town. Who can afford to pay that much on a book worth $20-30? the answer is “no one.”
This unexpected change has shut down one potential channel for reaching readers. These kinds of changes that are beyond a writer’s control have a major impact on the business. Like all small businesses, one has to adapt and make sure there are several ways to get your books to your readers.
Above all, keep writing, connect with like-minded readers, and connect with other writers who share your passion to communicate with others and bring a little beauty and inspiration into their lives.
Most of our immediate family birthdays occur from mid-December to mid-May. Kathy and I have had a wonderful time celebrating almost non-stop since Christmas. This culminated with our youngest grandson’s birthday in May along with Grandparent’s Day hosted by the school our two oldest grandchildren attend.
Family is truly a blessing and we are thankful that everyone lives within driving distance.
We also had a cold winter and were privileged to get away from the ice and snow and spend a few days with my sister and her husband in La Quinta near Palm Springs. The picture below shows the lagoon in their gated community that Kathy and I would walk around daily for exercise.
This year we opened our cottage in mid-May (which is quite early for us). When we arrived the trees still had buds and we had a open view up and down the water way. When we left, less than a week later, the leaves were all out and we had our more usual seclusion and privacy. I’ve attached a couple of pictures from the cottage to show that Spring is truly here.
It was interesting to me that on Grandparent’s Day the grade one class showed us their writing project. The picture below shows they process they followed. It’s exactly the same process I follow to produce my books (although I am sure I go through it much more slowly than they did). It’s a wonderful school. Kathy and I are so glad our grandchildren are able to attend there.
This June is the 50th anniversary of my Crescent Heights High School class’s graduation. I am disappointed that I cannot make the trip out west right now and join the festivities, but I wish my classmates well and am grateful for the re-connections I have been able to make in the lead-up to this significant event.
This spring has also been a significant milestone in my writing journey as shown in the picture above. I’ve just completed my fourth book, The Dragons of Sheol, the final book in The Halcyon Cycle. The print copy should be available in a few weeks, and the e-book likely earlier. I have already been working on my next book which I have tentatively entitled Coventry 2091.
I continue to work to improve my writing with each successive book. I hope this is my best book yet. My readers have always been helpful and I hope to hear from them.
As always, one of my favorite aspects of these infrequent newsletters are the emails Kathy and I receive back. These personal contacts mean so much and give us a chance to re-connect with our friends.
The demonstration copy of The Dragons of Sheol has arrived from the Print-on-Demand printer, Lightning Source.
I’m very pleased with the fonts, layout, and cover. Unfortunately, I did not include the complete set of maps and some of the map images are too low resolution and will need to be re-submitted. After these minor tweaks, all will be ready.
All in all, it’s very exciting being this close to having my fourth book available to the public.
I don’t consider myself a well known Science Fiction and Fantasy author. Nonetheless, by my count, I have readers in every continent except South America and Antarctica. It makes sense therefore to launch my next book, The Dragons of Sheol, using internet platforms that allow me to interact with my readers, no matter their time zone or their latitude.
So what can you expect? There will be free chapters to read to see if the new book is your “cup of tea,” I plan to have a few 99 cent sales on previous book in The Halcyon Cycle as well as access to free, downloadable and printable maps if you, like me, like to have a printed map handy as you read.
If any of you would like to email me or contact me on Twitter or Facebook, there will be plenty of opportunity for that connection.
I hope to receive my first printed copy tomorrow (for my review). If everything looks satisfactory, the printed and e-book versions should be available later in June. I hope to connect with you soon.
So, whether you live in Picton, Ontario, Canada or Picton, New Zealand, why not come visit via the internet and help get the conversation rolling?
Trouble seeing the image? Check out the original blog.
A Brief Description of The Dragons of Sheol
Albert Gleeson, his pregnant wife, Pam, and his young stepson are struggling to adjust to their life on an acreage in Georgia after their return to our world. However, on his way home from a long day of teaching, Al finds that his home has been ransacked—and his family kidnapped.
The police initially suspect him of foul play. When he’s finally cleared, accompanied by his friends, Al pursues the kidnappers to Abaddon, a continent whose main land surface rests ten kilometers below sea level.
Their search eventually forces them to cross an even deeper abyss called Sheol, where the air pressure is so high that dragons can fly. Fighting frustration and despair at his inability to locate Pam and his stepson, Al soon begins to understand that he has a role to play in rescuing the enslaved prisoners of Abaddon.
What This Means to Me
As a novelist, although I plan a particular story track, the characters usually “take over the story” as it were, and make it into something different. It means that I, as the story creator, can take the “something different” away for application in my own life.
As a Christ Follower and as a person of hope, I, like everyone else face circumstances that cause me to ask “Why God?” Eventually, as Al taught me as I wrote this story, I need to turn this question into “What do you want me to do, Lord? Then I’ll start to see the kinds of things that Al saw.
If you’re viewing this and some of the images have not been loaded … here is the link of the original WordPress blog.
I had written previously about the essential difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction [Link]. An illustration of this is provided in how I deal with dragons in THE DRAGONS OF SHEOL when compared with other occurrences in literature, for example in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not regard Tolkien’s silence on the question of “How can a large animal fly?” or “How can a dragon breathe fire without burning itself up?” as a defect. Not at all. Indeed, I regard The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy among my favorite books of all time and would not like to change a thing.
I merely wish to point out the difference in approach that the two genres take when designing the fabric of the story. As a genre, Science Fiction, often takes great pains to think about the physical laws involved, while for Fantasy these considerations are usually set aside.
So What’s the Problem?
Many years ago, I listened to a captivating lecture by Professor Octave Levenspiel. His lecture has been published . He applied many engineering principles to animals reconstructed from the fossil record and argued that these animals existed and were able to function because the atmospheric pressure was 3-5 Bar (a little more than 3-5 atmospheres).
Of relevance to The Dragons of Sheol was the data captured in his Figure 7:
The above figure is a log-log plot of mass (kg) against cruising speed (m/s). Since the lift (force holding the flyer up) is proportional to the square of the velocity and the first power of the wing area, one quickly runs into a limitation for birds. At our air pressure one of the highest wing loading (force/unit wing area) occurs for Canada geese. Indeed birds reconstructed from fossils (quetzalcoatlus and pteranodon) were much larger and were well above the one-atmosphere line.
However lift is also proportional to air density. According to Professor Levenspiel, very large flying creatures, that is muscle-powered flyers weighing more than 14.5 kg, could only have flown if the atmospheric pressure was 3-5 atmospheres. Even in fiction, if I want to have dragons flying, I have to imagine a setting that is plausible. In my thinking this led to the continent of Abaddon.
Abaddon Below Sea Level
The sketch below shows the altitude of Abaddon on a much-contracted horizontal scale. The Abaddon Plain is about ten kilometers below sea level while Sheol is about sixteen kilometers below sea level. For comparison, Mount Everest is 8848 meters above sea level. If sliced from the summit all the way to sea level, it would still be lower than the rim wall around the Abaddon Plain. Still, since Abaddon is a continent-sized plain, the ten kilometer rim wall on the scale of thousands of kilometers of plain, make the rim wall quickly disappear over the horizon.
Rough calculations on the pressure (assuming temperature is approximately the same as at sea level) would make the pressure approximately three atmospheres and six atmospheres respectively for the plain versus Sheol. Given the higher air density, much larger animals could fly at these pressures using muscle-powered locomotion, but it brought up the interesting idea: if the larger dragons grew so large they could only fly in the lower reaches of Sheol, then only the smaller ones could reach the higher terraces.
The Terraces on the Edge of Sheol
So how does one drop from the Abaddon Plain to Sheol? One huge drop? A steep slope? How about steps? Using steps has some interesting possibilities as shown in the figure below.
Depending on the geometry, line-of-sight would block vision of all but the immediate terrace below the escarpment edge. This fact, coupled with the danger of dragons rising from the depths would make the terraces an ideal place to hide. This plays a significant role in the story.
Want to Check Out Peter’s Books?
Read The Halcyon Dislocation for free at the Mississauga Library … if your library doesn’t have it, you can have your library request the e-book from Overdrive or the trade paperback from Amazon or Indigo.
Why not check out Peter’s author page on Amazon?
Here is the proposed cover for the Dragons of Sheol, my fourth book overall and the third in The Halcyon Cycle. I would appreciate your feedback on the design.
The book should be available in May.
If the image is not displaying properly, here is the link to the original blog site … http://bit.ly/2Um1up8-TDOS-Cover
If you’d like to read the first chapter, use this link.