All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton is Out Now!

She’s finally here! I know a lot of you have been pining for her a very long time… and we (Ingvild and I) have been teasing you since our first Zerelda shoot in 2013 – never showing you more than a glimpse of what we’ve been up to. Well, the wait is over. The 108 page Polaroid photobook is available in three different versions:

Get the glorious big hardcover book (12x12in/30x30cm) directly from Blurb for $124.99 here

or

The no less spectacular, but a lot cheaper, small softcover book (7x7in/18x18cm) from Amazon for $54.99 here

or

The E-book (epub) for only $9.99 here

Preview of the book can be viewed at Blurb. And a selection of images from the book can be seen at my website julieloen.com.

So, where are you guys from?

Ingvild and I are back from our trip to California. The word “amazing” has been thrown around a lot in our social media updates during (and after) the big adventure. It was everything we hoped for and more. I shot 1921 digital images, 189 Polaroid pictures and a handful of mobile phone snapshots, plus a few short videos. Ingvild took pictures too, and is fixing to draw images inspired by what we saw and experienced out west. She also filmed the most memorable critters – Skunk! Squirrel! Steller’s Jay!

The USA might be a car county, but it worked out just fine taking trains and buses, cabs and Uber (and a short ride with a ferry) to get around. A lot of people thought we were quite insane when they learned that we were “doing” California without a car. People also flaunted a lot of raised eyebrows when hearing that we were only staying a week. “But you have to stay longer when you travel that far,” they’d say. I would have loved to stay longer, but the “mere” week made the trip possible within the foreseeable future. I’d rather do a trip like this every other year, than have to save money for five years to stay a month.

The jovial people of the sunny state is very talkative – by the end of the week we automatically answered “Norway” in unison when asked the question “Where are you guys from?” for the umpteenth time. Some people tried to guess where we were from too. Germany was the most reasonable guess – after hearing us speak Norwegian, but why any one would think two pale gals like us are from Brazil or Argentina is beyond me… we were asked that too.

Generally every one we talked to was exceedingly helpful and nice, and often dished out a bit of humour along with their service. Our first encounter with real life American humour hit us already on the plane across the Atlantic. We had collected a bit of rubbish after eating a meal and were looking to get rid of it. It had been a while since a steward had passed by, so I walked up to a steward sitting at the back of the plane and asked if he could take it off my hands. He gave me a mean scowl and said: “No, we ain’t got the time.” I just stood there, feeling like an idiot, not quite sure if I should take him seriously or not. A grin spread across his face. “Naaah, I’m just kidding,” he said. “Give it here.”

In short, this is what our trip looked like:

Day 1

(We landed in San Francisco the day before)

Fisherman’s Wharf

Alcatraz

Dinner at Greens

Day 2

Travel to Sacramento (bus + train)

Shoot at Folsom Lake

Visit a friend of Ingvild’s and eat dinner there

Day 3

Travel to Cedar Lodge in El Portal (bus + train + bus)

Explore the area

Dinner at the lodge

Day 4

Yosemite

Ride horses to Mirror Lake

Explore the museums in Yosemite

Dinner at the lodge

Day 5

Shoot in El Portal

Yosemite

Raft on Merced River

Back to Cedar Lodge for more shoots

Dinner at the lodge

Day 6

Travel back to San Francisco (bus + train + bus)

Dinner at random Indian restaurant in Chestnut Street

Day 7

Wells Fargo Museum

Walk across The Golden Gate Bridge

Dinner at The Plant

(We went home the next day)

Like I stated in my previous post, the result of our escapades in California will be collected in a travel journal. I can promise you a book filled with fun and adventure, musings and tales, and of course lots of pictures. But please don’t hold your breath, we don’t expect to complete the book until some time next year.

Going West!

In one week Ingvild and I will be travelling as far west as west goes – we’ll be going to California! Our itinerary takes us to San Francisco, Sacramento, Yosemite and back to San Francisco. We’ll be doing touristy stuff like visiting Alcatraz, Wells Fargo Museum and riding mules in Yosemite Valley, but we will also be taking lots of polaroid pictures in motels and hopefully stumble across locations unlike those we have to play with home in Norway – crossing fingers for nice weather.

The result of our escapades in California will be collected in a travel journal, featuring polaroid pictures, snapshots, drawings, words and more.

Embers at Dawn is Perma Free!

Embers at Dawn (e-book) is perma-free and available everywhere! …or at least here: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble/Nook, iBooks, Google Books and Ebok.no

Amazon is a bit tardy about taking the hint – they’re still selling it for $0.99, but you can get the mobi file (for Kindle) at Smashwords for free too.

I have received my first Smashwords review. It is short and sweet: “Loved this book! The imagery is amazing and the mix between total crass and intelligence is just awesome! Great characters.” – Debby Rubino, Smashwords

The Last Shoot

Ingvild Eiring and I did the final shoot for the cowgirl photo project yesterday. We’ve been working on the project since summer 2013, doing most shoots in Lommedalen – the valley I live in.We’ve shot about 300 polaroids and captured the fleeting figure of Zerelda Glanton throughout the seasons. There are still words to be written and work to be done, but the end result, the photo book All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton, is drawing near.

Happy New Year!

DrunkSinceDodge

Cropped image of Ingvild Eiring from our upcoming photo book All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton

2014 has been an exciting year. I published my debut novel in December 2013, so 2014 has been the first year I’ve received feedback from strangers on my work – an experience that has been mostly thrilling. It’s hard to describe the profound feeling of pride and joy when reading a positive review of one’s own work – it is no less than exhilarating.

To sum up 2014 short: I’ve written the first draft of the third book in my western series, begun writing the fourth and spent a lot of time editing the second. All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton, the polaroid photo book I’m making with Ingvild Eiring, is coming along nicely. We’ve done several shoots throughout the year, and I’ve written the folk song style ballad that will accompany the photos. A nice bonus at the end of the year was to have a photo featured in Hank 3’s Hellbetty 2015 calendar.

2014 has been filled with a lot of work, but not a whole lot to show for. I am very excited to step into the new year and finally reveal several projects that have been in the making for a long while. Here’s my plan for 2015:

  • Publish Embers at Dawn on more e-book platforms via Smashwords
  • Publish An Obelus Wheeze, the follow-up to Embers at Dawn
  • Do the final shoot for All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do and publish it
  • Launch new designs in my print-on-demand merchandise stores. There’s also something unique and handmade in the works that I won’t reveal yet.
  • Maybe publish the third book in my western series, if time allows it it might be completed in the latter half of the year
  • I’m considering putting together an anthology of self-portraits. Self-portraits were “my thing” for several years before I turned my camera toward models and (almost) never looked back.
  • And last, but not least: I’m going to the US with Ingvild! No details have been planned yet, but I can assure you there will be pictures to prove our shenanigans.

With all of this ahead of me, I trust that 2015 will indeed be a very happy year. Have a good one y’all!

A Debut Novel’s First Year in Numbers

When I released my debut novel a year ago I had pretty much no idea what to expect. I found it frustrating that so few (or is it just me that haven’t found them?) were willing to share the actual results of their promotional efforts and overall sale when starting out. Vague words like “good” or “bad” was the norm of what little information I could find. So, this is me sharing what I would have loved to have read a year ago myself: An honest report of a self published debut novel’s first year in numbers.

My initial goal was to sell 1000 copies in a year. That goal changed pretty quickly, to have 1000 copies in circulation within a year – giveaways or sold – kindle or paperback. There are currently 1340 copies of Embers at Dawn (my debut novel) out and about. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t gone completely overboard with marketing, but I have certainly made an effort.

I’ve spent a total of approximately $1420 on the circus that is publishing and promoting, which includes: Proofreading, submission fees to competitions, copies of paperbacks (for giveaways, the local store etc.), promotions and postage for giveaways. I’ve earned a total of $242. Needless to say: I ain’t quitting my day job yet.

Here’s what I’ve done to get those 1000+ copies in the hands of readers:

KDP SELECT

Embers at Dawn has only been available as paperback and Kindle edition during the year it’s been out. I started off pricing the book at $3.99 and lowered it, over time, to $0.99. I have sold a few at the $0.99 price point, but I don’t need more than two hands to count the sales.

I have used KDP Select’s Free Book Promotion as often as I could. The results have varied, but have generated more “sales” (can you call it that when you’re giving away something?) than varying the price. The results of my Free Book Promotions are as follows (unless otherwise stated the promotion have only been marketed via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my blog):

  • Five days in December 2013 – Copies given away: 224
  • Two days in March 2014 – Copies given away: 73
  • One day in April 2014 – Copies given away: 24
  • Two days in May 2014 promoted via Digital Book Today – Copies given away: 107
  • Two days in September 2014- Copies given away: 73
  • Three days in September 2014 promoted via Digital Book Today, E-books Grow on Trees, FreeBooksy and It’s Write Now – Copies given away: 751

GOODREADS

I have tried two different approaches to promoting my debut novel on Goodreads. I have hosted two giveaways where I gave away nine copies of the book and advertisement. I can’t say that the advertisement did much else than rob me off $50, but the giveaways were a major success. I kept both giveaways open for a month, as recommended by Goodreads – one directly after the book was released and another about six months after. 1286 people requested the book during the first giveaway. 1130 during the second. There are currently 929 people who have marked it as “to read” and I have received 7 reviews and 13 ratings.

COMPETITIONS

I have only submitted Embers at Dawn to two competitions: One dedicated to western literature – I didn’t win anything, and to IndieReader’s discovery award – I didn’t win anything there either, but I got a professional review out of it and a IndieReader feature (that I had to pay extra for). Can’t say that I got anything out of it, besides something to put on Amazon while I wait for reviews from readers to appear there.

AMAZON

I don’t have a single review on Amazon, except a quote from the IndieReader review, but I haven’t done anything to get reviews there either, beside asking on my blog and offering the winners of my second Goodreads giveaway a free copy of the next book in the series if they give me a review on both Goodreads and Amazon… I asked nicely on a hand-written note.

SOCIAL MEDIA

My blog is also my author website, so I’m doing my darnedest to keep the content on point and of quality. It’s good to have a platform where I get to properly went the thoughts I have on the writing process and share what I’m up to creative-wise, both as an author and photographer. I have 35 followers as of right now.

My Facebook fans mainly consist of people I know. It doesn’t seem like it does much for marketing my work, except for giving friends a platform they can share content from when they feel like promoting what I do. I have 130 likes on my page.

I love Instagram. I don’t really get Twitter. I don’t think either has lead to much as far as sales and exposure goes. I have 98 followers on Instagram and 67 on Twitter. Too many cats, too little content, I guess.

I have also made a book trailer. It has had 134 views and received 4 likes on YouTube.

MERCHANDISE

With a background as a photographer I am, of course, a sucker for the visual. I enjoy building the world of Lee (the protagonist in my western series) both on the page and off. I have no illusions about getting rich and famous by selling T-shirts on Zazzle or bookmarks on Tictail, but why the hell not, right? I enjoy designing the stuff, and I hope that some of you enjoy it too. I have sold exactly two buttons, a mousepad and a coffee mug – the mousepad and coffee mug was bought by a good friend.

LOCAL EFFORTS

An independent bookstore in Oslo, Tronsmo, is selling my book. They bought five copies and have not asked for a re-up, so I can only assume that they’re not sold out. I have also been interviewed by local media: a newspaper and a magazine. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But I honestly can’t say that it’s done anything to boost the sale.

I expect and accept that building an audience and platform as an author will take time, patience, a lot of hard work and a fair amount of money. I look at my Flickr account and take heart. I became a member in 2006 and was very active for a few years. When my efforts turned to writing, more than photography, I stopped uploading new work at a regular interval. But before I quit Flickr (at a regular basis) I had already uploaded a considerable body of work. In my absence, my followers have grown from some 3-400 (if I remember correctly) when I left it in 2010-2011ish to a whooping 1262 in my absence. I like to believe that if you work hard and make something worthwhile people will take notice… Sooner or later.