The 7th Bullet is Out Now!

The 7th Bullet is the third book in the The 9 Lives of the Outlaw Known as Crazy Cat series—a Gothic western that draws upon elements from both horror and crime. It’s a foreboding tale of friendship and grief, madness, and haunts, and seeing a man about a horse.

Lee is offered a chance at freedom—all she has to do is assist a Pinkerton detective during an investigation and sign a contract where she swears to become a law-abiding citizen. She agrees to help the detective, but will she sign the contract and give up her outlawing ways?

The investigation brings her to the arid Bonneville flats and a lodge run by a family of spiritualists. They may or may not be able to talk to the dead, but they certainly have a connection to them.

Get your copy here:

Paperback

or e-book from

Amazon(Kindle)

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

iBooks

Google Books

Ebok.no

or

Enter my Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of the paperback edition here.

 

Paws in the air!

My good friend and often partner in crime Ingvild Eiring does more than model, make-up and costume, she is a terrific sculptor as well. Her speciality is mice in victorian clothing. I asked her to make me a Crazy Cat inspired mouse… and then this happened. Mad Mouse came to life. I couldn’t be happier with the result, every little detail is perfect, from Lee’s (Crazy Cat) whisker scars to a pair of tiny spurs. Everything is handmade, even the clothes are sewn by Ingvild.

Ingvild takes commissions, if you want a custom mouse too, just send an email to: ingvild.eiring@gmail.com

Zerelda Rides Again

Y’all! I’ve got great news! Zerelda will get a proper exhibition in September at Cyan Studio in Oslo. All the original polaroids featured in the book will be on display (and for sale) along with a selection of bigger prints (also for sale). I’ll get back to y’all with the details in due time before the event.

AND! All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton is now available at my favourite bookstore in Oslo: Tronsmo AND at Oslo’s darkest and finest fashion haunt: Hevn. Both stores are well worth a visit.

A Fistful of Cowgrrrls

I was going to write a post about why I’m a feminist for today (March 8th), but I have too many beginnings and no ending to that rant. I meant to design a few Cowgrrrl T-shirts too, but I’ve been so swamped with editing my third novel that I ain’t found the time or the inspiration to veer off from working on the book to get around to it. I meant to do a whole mess of things, but time would not allow it. So, instead I give you this – five western movies featuring female protagonists I have enjoyed, and two I am looking forward to seeing.

TRUE GRIT

I’ve lost count of the places I’ve read that Mattie Ross finds a man of true grit in Rooster Cogburn. I won’t argue against the fact that Cogburn does indeed possess a whole damn lot of grit, but to me it is blatantly obvious that Mattie is the one with true grit – the obvious irony in both title and project when she goes searching for a man with true grit, and then it turns out that she is the one who possesses the trait galore herself.

MEEK’S CUTOFF

A somber and realistic movie about settlers on the Oregon Trail in 1845. Not your typical western, I’d dare say it’s an anti western in its lack of shoot-outs and action, and with the typical hero character (the mountain man Meek) being, to put it plainly, a buffoon.

SWEETWATER

Gritty revenge movie with a great sense of humor and a badass lady in the lead.

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD

I love this movie! I get so doggone excited just thinking about it I get stumped for words. Sharon Stone! Lady gunslinger! OMG! Just see it already!

BAD GIRLS

An early nineties movie on the same trail as Young Guns. It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s Hollywood… don’t take it too seriously.

…and the movies I ain’t had the chance to see yet.

THE KEEPING ROOM

JANE GOT A GUN

 

The 7th Bullet: The Soundtrack

The 7th Bullet, the next installment in The 9 Lives of The Outlaw known as Crazy Cat series will soon be complete (within a few months). The story is edited into a cohesive narrative, what remains is polishing and proofreading.

While you wait for the book, I’ve made a soundtrack for it, like I did for Embers at Dawn and An Obelus Wheeze. After (almost) completing my third novel, I’ve found out that the story ain’t “there yet” until the soundtrack flows smoothly. Just like the book, the soundtrack has been put through a rigorous editing process where darlings have been killed and gaps filled. If a song feels out of place or forced, it might of course be the wrong song for the scene, but most often I find that the fault lies in the scene it’s meant to accompany. First and foremost I put together these soundtracks for my own enjoyment, but they are also a great tool to better understand the ebb and flow of the narrative.

A Self-publisher’s Second Year in Numbers

Happy new year, y’all!

2015 has been an absolutely amazing year. I published two books, An Obelus Wheeze – the second book in the The 9 Lives of The Outlaw known as Crazy Cat series and my first photobook, All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton, a collaborative project with model and costume designer Ingvild Eiring. Images from Zerelda have been Exhibited at Fotografiets Dag, featured in Floz Visions, and I was recently granted NOK 25.000,- from Norske Fagfotografers Fond to put together a proper exhibition. Ingvild and I also went to California for a week, it was – to sum it up short – AWESOME!

In this brand new year we call 2016 I’m fixing to publish The 7th Bullet – the third Crazy Cat book and a travel journal with images and stories from Ingvild and mine’s awesome trip to The USA. I also intend to put the money from NFF to use, but I need to find a willing gallery first. These are the plans I’m most certain about, whatever else I might cough up will have to be a surprise …and I assure y’all, there will be surprises😉

On the road to Yosemite, somewhere between Merced and El Portal.

A Self-publisher’s Second Year in Numbers
A year ago I wrote the post A Debut Novel’s First Year in Numbers, this is the follow-up to that post. In 2015 I decided to not spend any money on promoting my books. The only promoting I’ve done in 2015 are Goodreads giveaways. Why on earth would I skimp out on promoting my brand new books? Because it’s not worth it… not yet. I’m sorry to say that I can’t recall where I picked up this particular nugget of advice, but here it is: When you self publish, especially in regards to a series, the reader might not believe you will finish the series before it’s done (or at least have a few books out). So, if you wait until you have a couple of books out, the money spent on promotion will have more value, because the reader will trust the series to be completed.

From Amazon to All Over the Place
During 2014 my first (and then, only) novel, Embers at Dawn, was available exclusively via Amazon for Kindle and as paperback. In early 2015 I opted out of KDP Select and made Embers at Dawn available permafree via Smashwords, E-bok.no and Google Books. I am very happy about this decision, I can trust a steady trickle of copies being picked up each month via Smashwords. It took the better part of the year before Amazon adjusted the list price from $0.99 to free. When it finally got listed as permafree in November, sales started moving there too. KDP Select can be great, but for me, it is pretty clear that selling books via more channels works better – the world of e-books is bigger than Amazon.

The Books
Embers at Dawn was published in December 2013, An Obelus Wheeze in April 2015 and All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton in July 2015. Here’s the cold, hard numbers of their success in 2015:

Embers at Dawn
Embers at Dawn sold (I include free copies when I say “sold”) 1340 copies in 2014 and 337 in 2015 – 148 via Amazon, 183 via Smashwords, 8 via E-bok.no and I have no idea how many via Google Books because their reports are a pain to decipher. I hosted two Goodreads giveaways for Embers at Dawn in 2014, but in 2015 the only thing I did for it was make it available on further platforms. Last year 929 people had marked it as “to read” on Goodreads, now there are 878. Last year it had received a total of 7 reviews and 13 ratings, now there are 8 reviews and 21 ratings.

An Obelus Wheeze
I did the launch for An Obelus Wheeze very properly. I set a date for its release and made it available for pre order (one person pre ordered it – my boyfriend) and sent out a newsletter about its upcoming release to the good folks on my mailing list. I also hosted a Goodreads giveaway that ended on the day of the book’s publishing date, 852 people requested it. When I hosted another giveaway, about six months later, 872 people requested it. Not bad, I think, for a second book in a series where barely anyone has read the first book. To my great shock and delight, 595 people has marked is as “to read” and it has garnered 5 very nice reviews and 15 ratings. A mere 39 copies have been sold – the statistics of the feedback, considering the number of copies in circulation, is beyond my comprehension… I am humbled and grateful and gleefully surprised to find that so many has jumped into the world of Crazy Cat without the proper introduction of the first book (the series is really meant to be read as one big whole) and still enjoyed it.

All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton
Ingvild and I have been creating buzz around the cowgirl project, that eventually culminated in the book, for two years. A lot of people have shown great interest in it, but as of right now, only 15 copies have been sold. We thought we would easily sell at least 20 copies at the release party for the book. I have hosted one Goodreads giveaway for it where I gave away one book, 1036 people requested it. 407 people have marked it as “to read” and it has received 3 ratings, but no reviews. I’m not entirely disappointed with the sales of Zerelda, but I have learned that selling a photobook is a very different shot of whiskey than peddling free and cheap e-books and affordable paperbacks.

Merchandise
The Crazy Cat emporium hasn’t exactly boomed during 2015 either, but I’m pretty happy about seeing the Crazy Cat merch move at all. On Society6 I’ve sold three T-shirts, one duvet cover and one framed print. On Tictail I’ve sold 3 signed copies of Zerelda, and on Zazzle; 3 Zerelda 2016 calendars. I’d call that a fair increase, compared to last years two buttons, one mousepad and a coffee mug.

Social Media
I don’t do much, if anything – I know! I’m terrible! – to gain followers on Social Media, but the increase in followers since last year is pretty decent nonetheless. My followers on WordPress have gone up from 35 to 49 – tipping my hat to y’all! Facebook, from 130 to 144. Instagram from 98 to 147, and Twitter from 67 to 137. I know I’ve been a terrible blogger, the few posts I’ve written have mostly been announcements about new books or happenings… Exactly the kind of things one are advised against to blog about too often. Because boring. Facebook is pretty much the same as it was last year, a place where primarily friends follow me. Twitter is still a mystery to me. I’m still no good at it and I tweet seldom. A lot of my followers there are book promoting sites who are obviously fishing for customers, the rest are mostly authors. Followers are nice, but they are not necessarily customers.

All in all I’m happy with the 391 books I sold during 2015. I’m also happy about getting my first reviews on Amazon, being contacted by a book blogger who posted a nice review on her blog and Goodreads, and receiving fan mail! That was a BIG WOW moment. I completed the first draft for book 4 and 5, and am currently in the latter stages of editing the third Crazy Cat book. I’ll let y’all know the details about how 2016 went in a year, maybe I’ll even throw in a pie chart or a line graph. Until then: Have a good one, y’all!

Tintype

I did my very first tintype shoot last week. Ingvild Eiring modeled, and styled the clothes. As always, we had a blast! And the tintypes turned out beautifully, if I may say so myself. See more of my tintypes over at julieloen.com or even more at Flickr.

I used the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit from Freestyle Photographic and borrowed my boyfriend’s Holga. The kit includes 8 4×5” black aluminum plates. I cut the plates into 16 smaller plates to fit the medium format camera, this also left me with 16 extra mini plates I used to test the exposure with. The kit also contains emulsion, developer, fixer and easy instructions – everything you need, except trays and safelight. I used cheap food container boxes from IKEA as trays, when I was done for the day I just put the lid on the chemicals.

The few glitches I encountered were all about the emulsion: getting the damn thing onto the plates evenly (I had to reheat it for about every 4th plate), and leaving the plates long enough in the developer – the three minutes the instruction suggested were far from enough, but then again, it might have been a bit colder than the preferred 20°C. When the plate isn’t properly developed the image will turn out blue, typically in the corners and around the edges. The blue is impossible to see under red safelight in the darkroom, so buckle up for surprises!

Zerelda Calendar 2016

Greet the new year in true cowgrrrl fashion with the Zerelda Glanton Calendar 2016. The calendar features fourteen images (the twelve months + front and back) from the polaroid photobook All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton.

Choose between a variety of holidays to best suit your culture.

Get your calendar here. Safe filter must be turned off to view it – calendar contains images where clothing is not entirely present.

The calendar will only be available until I see fit to pluck it down some time early in the new year, so don’t wait too long to get yours😉

My Self-Publishing Toolbox

I’ve been asked recently about how I publish my books, so without further ado, I present to y’all my self-publishing toolbox:

Image of Frøydis Labowsky from a shoot we did in 2011. Styling and make-up by Ingvild Eiring.

Image of Frøydis Labowsky from a shoot we did in 2011. Styling and make-up by Ingvild Eiring.

Getting the story down

I don’t support the idea that you need a special space/room/cave/whatever to jot your words down. Writing is writing – it’s just you and your brain making up stories. It doesn’t matter if those stories pour out of you by way of pen or keyboard, if you’re sitting in a tree or by your speshul IKEA desk made chic with sandpaper and pastel ribbons. You don’t need to clear your calendar either or feel somehow particularly inspired. Just goddamn write already! …and keep on writing until the first draft is complete.

I do a lot of writing on my iPad while on the bus to work. Of the many writing apps on the market, I’ve tried Pages, Nebulous and iA Writer – they are all good. If you want something simple to just plop the words down without any distractions iA Writer is great. If you want to write on your pad with “everything” you need readily available with an extended keyboard, Nebulous might be the thing for you.

I use Open Office on my computer, but borrow my boyfriend’s laptop with Word when I need to format a manuscript.

I find the good ole paper notebook to be absolutely crucial for ideas and outlining. I’ve tried the manuscript organizing apps Writers App and A Novel Idea, they work just fine, but I prefer to keep a notebook dedicated to story timeline, character gallery etc.

Publishing platforms

I use Createspace for paperbacks. It’s easy to use and makes my books available on Amazon.

For photobooks I use Blurb, that also can make your books available via Amazon.

For ebooks I use KDP, Smashwords, Google Books and ebok.no. I’m particularly fond of Smashwords – where you can easily get your book distributed to several platforms.

Formatting ebooks

I know it is possible to do this “at home,” but I find the process painstaking, frustrating and ghaaa… so I choose to leave this to the professionals. I use Kindle people to format my kindle book and ebook launch for everything else.

Since I’m a professional photographer I have no qualms about making my own covers, in fact – I cringe at the thought of having someone else mess around with them, but if I wasn’t a professional myself I would hire one.

Proofreading

I use Scribendi for proofreading. I’ve had my first two novels proofread by Scribendi people and couldn’t be happier. It’s not cheap, but it is necessary and absolutely worth it.

What about editors, you ask – well, I have several friends who have studied literature and are authors themselves. I trust them to give me the non-sugarcoated feedback I need to make my books the best possible.

Social media

As you can see, I use WordPress for my blog and homebase for my books. I also have a Squarespace website for my photography work. I have, of course, domain names that make sense too: jcloen.com and julieloen.com – it looks more professional and is far easier to remeber if anyone should ask, than a free domain name with “/blahblahblah” added to it.

I use mailchimp for newsletters. Free, easy and good looking. My sign-up page looks like this.

I have author profiles on Goodreads, LibraryThing and Amazon.

I can also be found around the web on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.

Promotion

For promotional purposes I’ve used:

KDP’s Free Book Promotion

Goodreads Giveaway (I’ve got one going on now, if you’d like a chance to win a signed copy of An Obelus Wheeze) – this thing is pure gold! It has generated more ratings, reviews and books added to to-read lists than anything else I’ve tried.

Goodreads Ad

Digital Book Today

E-books Grow on Trees

FreeBooksy

It’s Write Now

For business cards I use Moo. Fantastic quality at a great price.

Merchandise:

I used Etsy for years, but have given it up basically because you have to pay to make a non-permanent listing (added item to your store). The community is, however, great, and I did sell a few prints there – I might come back some time. I’ve also given up Cafepress because of ridiculous shipping prices and better looking print-on-demand items elsewhere.

The shops that are still open in the Crazy Cat Dry Goods & Sundries Emporium are my Tictail store, Society 6 and Zazzle.

Tictail is super easy and free to use – this is where I sell signed books and handmade goods. I would prefer to sell all my merchandise like this, but this is simply something I cannot afford to invest in right now. Both Society 6 and Zazzle are good print-on-demand online stores. I might move away completely from Zazzle, though – I have already unlisted all the clothing I had there. I was not happy with the quality of the print there. I bought a T-shirt there last year and the print is about to peel off completely… and I have not worn the T-shirt often. I love the quality of the clothes from Society 6, but I would like to be able to decide the price myself – currently the artist can only set the price for art prints.

Other Resources

There’s a jungle out there! It seems like every person who have self-published a book also publish a book about self-publishing books. I’m sure a lot of these are very good and informative, but the two people I keep coming back to for advice are Catherine Ryan Howard and David Gaughran. They have bloggged extensively about self-publishing and published books on the subject too. I’d recommend checking them out.