Fotoscenen 2016

Y’all! I’ll be at the photo festival Fotoscenen in Oslo on Saturday, selling copies of All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton. Take a look at the program, it’s chock-full of interesting lectures and talented photographers.

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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

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 in Floz Visions

I know. I know… Everything is about Zerelda these days. Hope y’all ain’t tired of her yet. If you want to know the connection between a Barbie doll in a fighter pilot outfit and the gunslinging babe in the shape of Ingvild Eiring, head on over to Floz Visions, where Zerelda’s been featured along with a bunch of pictures you probably haven’t seen before.

Zerelda’s Big Weekend

Ingvild Eiring and yours truly at the release party for All The Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton. Much love and squishes to everyone who showed up! We had a great time!!!

TheShop

Here’s our little dry goods store at the release party we held on Friday. If you couldn’t come, but would like to buy a signed copy of All The Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton, Embers at Dawn, An Obelus Wheeze or maybe a pack of Zerelda postcards or the Professor Lafayette’s Bison Horn Potion bottle, head on over to my Tictail store.

A selection of images from All The Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do – The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton were exhibited at Fotografiets Dag at Preus Museum in Horten yesterday. As you can see, there’s no name under the pictures. Some time between 12.30 and 15.30 someone removed my name tag and stole my box of business cards, efficiently sabotaging my exhibition. A bunch of pictures without a name is worth exactly nothing. When granted an exhibition spot at Fotografiets Dag you basically get 5 hours of attention from a crowd who’s there to look at photographs. Up to three of those hours have been stolen from me. Ingvild and I have worked on this project for two years. Getting noticed is hard work. To be exhibited at an event such as Fotografiets Dag is a golden opportunity to promote what we’ve been working so hard on. I paid for the prints myself. Hell, I pay for everything myself… I’m a self-publisher. Nothing is cheap. Nothing is easy. But bullshit like this takes the fun right out of it.

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

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!