Moonburner Cover Reveal!

Moonburner has a new cover!

As many of you know, I recently terminated my contract with my indie publisher and re-self-published my debut novel, Moonburner. The publisher owned the cover, so I had to get a new cover designed for the book. I found the amazing Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations, whose work I fell in love with! She did an amazing job of capturing the feel and atmosphere of Moonburner with this amazing new cover!

Without further ado…

Moonburner is Officially an Audiobook + Narrator Interview + Giveaway!

Moonburner is Officially an Audiobook + Narrator Interview + Giveaway!

At long last, Moonburner is officially an audiobook! You can buy it through Audible, Amazon, or iTunes.  If you aren’t an Audible member, you should think about it, it’s amazing. Every month you get a free audiobook, plus you get 30% off all audiobooks, all for $14.95 a month. As an Amazon prime member, you can get a three-month free trial membership, or as a regular old human, you can try it for free for a month. (Plus, if you start a new membership and Moonburner is your first purchase, I get $50 bucks from Amazon! So, that would be awesome.)


GIVEAWAY ALERT!

To celebrate the launch of Moonburner in audiobook form, I am hosting a giveaway! Enter to win one of five free copies of Moonburner, or a three month subscription to Audible!!! If you are already an Audible member, you would be entitled to three book credits. The Giveaway ends October 1!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!


INTERVIEW WITH MY NARRATOR, EMMA LYSY

Emma Lysy audiobook narrator

I detailed the process of turning a book into an audiobook in this blog post here. But everyone I talk to about audiobooks are also super curious about audiobook narrators! How do you become one, what’s the technology like, etc. So to celebrate Moonburner’s audio launch, I’ve interviewed Moonburner’s narrator, Emma Lysy, to answer your burning questions!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself!

A: I live in Lansing, Mi – before that Orlando, FL; before that – Southwest Michigan. My black cat Bende is very interested in narration work, as he must be locked in a separate part of the house while I’m recording because he’ll do anything it takes to try to get into the booth with me.

Q: How did you get into working as an audiobook producer?

A: I’d always been interested in narration, and the larger world of voice over in general. I remember going to an acting workshop with a guy who was one of the few actors who made their entire living from acting alone, and 98% of that came from commercial work. He told me I was good at the acting part of it and had an interesting voice. I don’t have the hearty baritone necessary to land the Toyota commercials he was doing, but I did love reading and listening to books. When the opportunity presented itself, I took it! Even though I had no idea what I was doing and definitely had a lot of learning to do.

Q: Tell us about your process. How long does it take? What is your equipment like?
A: I know some narrators’ ratio of time worked to finished product is something like 6:1 on a good day. That is, there are 6 hours of work (prep, outtakes, retakes, mastering, editing, etc) to every 1 finished hour of audio. This also depends on how much you outsource and how much you do yourself, but it’s a lot – I’ve met people who believe a 5 hour book can be easily produced in a day because it’ll only take 5 hours. If only this were true. Equipment wise, it can be as fancy or spendthrift as you need. The basics of a good setup are a good, dead room (noise wise, that is), a computer, and a mike. That said, while you can technically produce an audiobook these three things, investing in better equipment, tailoring your space to reduce noise, and hiring professionals is the real baseline of a quality production.
Q: How do you decide what the characters should sound like?
A: Sometimes the book tells you – so and so is a 90-year-old woman. So and so has an accent, etc. But beyond that it’s largely intuitive. It’s an extension of the acting you’re already putting into that character based on their words.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of producing an audiobook?
A: It’s a lot of work. But, it’s the kind of work that streamlines itself as you do it longer. When I first started I could hardly record a 15-minute chapter at a time, I would just get bored and want to stop. But now, it’s easy to sit down and do a three-hour session in the morning and again at night. Being challenged isn’t a bad thing, in fact if your work isn’t challenging you, than I can’t imagine it’s very fun.
Q: How do you pick which projects to work on?
A: A combination of numbers, what I think my voice will suit, and whether I like it. Any one of those can be top priority for different projects. Sometimes you’ll sacrifice good numbers for a project you like, or vice versa. Mostly though, it’s going to come down to numbers. How I’m paid (sometimes in royalties, sometimes up front – sometimes a combo of both), how the book is selling, etc. While narration is art and I love it, it’s not something I’d do for free. But I’ve had the privilege to get to work on some books that were a pleasant combination of well written and best selling.
Q: Tell us about a few of your favorite authors/books.
A: My favorite books are the Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman. They’re so strange and surprising and they stay in my head for days. Also Beauty, by Robin McKinley – a fantastic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It cuts down on drama but doesn’t in any way sacrifice storytelling and character. A Series of Unfortunate Events – particularly as read by Tim Curry – shaped my youth. Shannon Hale, David Sedaris, Michael De Larrabeiti are other favorites. I’m also a fan of memoirs by funny women, and those are always my favorite audiobooks. Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch have written my favorites.
Q: Are you involved in other aspects of the publishing world?
A: I’m also a graphic designer (emmalysydesign.com! I know, it’s a shameless plug) and specialize in book and audiobook covers!
Q: Tell us a fun fact about you!
A: I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose. I know this is over the internet, but I swear it’s true

Moonburner is on Sale for .99 cents!

Just a quick note to let you know that the Kindle version of Moonburner is on sale this week for .99 cents! If you were on the fence about buying a copy, now is your chance!

Buy your copy HERE!

Moonburner YA Fantasy

The sale ends tomorrow, August 12.

Happy reading!


Claire Luana is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

My Top 10 Favorite Books and How they Influenced my Novel

My Top 10 Favorite Books and How they Influenced my Novel

I’ve been on a two-week Blog Tour through Chapter by Chapter, which means Moonburner is being featured all around the web! I had a lot of fun writing guest posts for the various blogs, but my favorite was this post on The Silver Dagger Scriptorium, which asked me to list my ten favorite books!

Any nerdy book-lover will know that it’s near impossible to narrow the favorites list down that far, so I did favorite books/series. As I was writing, I realized how each of these influenced my writing style, and in particular, my first novel Moonburner. If you haven’t read some of these, do yourself a favor and check them out!

Wheel of Time series, Robert Jordan

This is the series that kindled my love of fantasy. I still have all my paperbacks from when I was a teenager, so dog-eared that the covers have fallen off the first seven of them. They are sprawling, epic and complex. Even though the series sags a bit towards the middle, it is worth it to push through, and the end is SO satisfying.

Harry Potter series, JK Rowling

Well, obviously these are on the list. This is the series that kindled my love of YA. It taught me and the world that a story can be magical and silly but still be powerful and poignant. That a story about chocolate frogs and flying brooms can capture the hearts of adults everywhere. If I was trapped on a desert island and could only pick one series, it would be this one.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, Laini Taylor

This series taught me the importance of a good hook. As soon as I started reading the first book, I HAD to know what was up with the teeth. (If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about!). And her blue hair. And the wishbone. And her strange monstrous family. The mysteries in this book pulled you in and demanded to be solved. I tried to emulate this great hook with “The Gleaming” in the prologue of Moonburner.

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

This book showed me the importance of a kick-ass heroine. Katsa has such a tough exterior, but somehow maintains her innocence on the inside. Or longs to. I loved reading her story, and I tried to write my main character, Kai, with as much of a dichotomy.

First Law trilogy, Joe Abercrombie

Abercrombie’s books taught me the importance of a good anti-hero. His characters are pretty terrible human beings: torturers, mercenaries, cowardly soldiers. But you LOVE them despite all of this. These books are dark and messy, but so engrossing. I didn’t get to write in much of an anti-hero into Moonburner, but I am looking forward to tackling this trope in one of my future works.

The Magicians trilogy, Lev Grossman

These books illustrate the importance of fun and humor. These are hilarious and irreverent; I frequently found myself laughing out loud. They feel modern, like they are written to the millennial generation. It turns out fantasy doesn’t have to be old-timey and stuffy! I tried to incorporate humor into Moonburner, especially in the character of Quitsu, Kai’s fox companion. It’s important not to take yourself too seriously!

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

This book is the least like the others on the list. But I loved it because of the incredible level of detail he reached in describing the world. I don’t really know anything about the 1980s or video games, but I felt like a pro after reading this book. It was such a fun romp through someone else’s passion; I strive to create a world of such detail in the books I write!

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

So, I am basically in awe of this series, and he’s only two books in! It is my aspirational series on the list. The creativity of this fantasy world and magic system, and the sheer number of plot lines, is astounding. I don’t think I could write 500 pages about men hauling a bridge and keep people engrossed, but Sanderson does. This series is going to be EPIC when it is done. So impressive.

Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins

Of course I get warm fuzzies when I think of this one. This is a series that sucks you in and won’t let you put it down until its 3 in the morning and you’re finally done. I tried to make Moonburner a page turner like The Hunger Games: fast and furious but still with characters you adore.

Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

This is the newest addition to my list, I just read it a few months ago, after Moonburner was written. It’s not often that you find a book that is action-packed but ALSO has great character development, but this one does. This Ocean’s Eleven style heist tale had such a great world and a great crew. I hope to create such great depth of character and inter-character dynamics in all my books!


Claire Luana is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Five Strategies for a Great Book Launch

Five Strategies for a Great Book Launch

Moonburner has been out for a little over a month now, and I thought it was time to do a round-up post summarizing a few of my book launch efforts. Over the last month, a lot of friends have asked me: “How do you get people to read your book?” That question makes me chuckle. Because you see, there’s the rub. It’s not easy!

There are a LOT of books out there. A lot of crappy ones, but a lot of great ones, too. People are busy. They may only have time to read one book in a month (many people don’t even have that much time). So how do you get your book to stand out from the crowd?

Well, I don’t have any magic answers, but I’ve done a lot of research, and it seems that a combination approach works best.

I based my launch off of the program Launch a Bestseller, by Tim Grahl, and the Book Launch Toolkit, by Joel Friedlander and Kimberly Grabas. Both of these were super helpful in giving me the lay of the land in what types of efforts I should even be making to launch my book!

Easy book launch strategies

Here’s what I focused on:

  1. Influencer outreach

Tim’s Launch a Bestseller course talked a lot about influencer outreach. Influencers are people within the publishing industry or blog-o-sphere who have an audience you want to reach. Tim recommended classifying these people into three tiers, which helps you allocate your time. Tier 1s individuals are the folks with the mailing list you would KILL for. While you might spend 10 hours on a guest course for a Tier 1 person, you might only be willing to write a 1 hour guest post for a Tier 2. For a Tier 3, all you’ll do is send them the book to review. Since your time is finite, this helps you spend your time on those influencers who have the best chance of selling a lot of books for you.

For me, I spent a lot of time identifying BookTubers, bloggers, and individuals with some minor celebrity that I know. I reached out especially to a LOT of book bloggers. And for the most part, because these were essentially cold calls, I didn’t hear much back.

My Number 1 goal for my next launch is to spend the interim time developing some relationship with well-respected book bloggers. Following them, commenting, being more engaged and supportive of their efforts. This is in the hope that when I approach them next time, they will recognize me and be more inclined to give my book a chance.

2. Reviewer outreach

I also did some direct reviewer outreach, based on a webinar that Tim Grahl did a few years back (Tim’s my go-to book launch guy, obviously)! The gist of it was: Reach out to 75 people to ask them if they’ll review your book and put up a review on the day it launches. 50 will say yes, and 25 will actually put up the review. This way, you can leap out of the gate with a respectable number of reviews. This was a great exercise and got some more friends and family invested in my launch. It didn’t all go to plan, because Amazon mysteriously decided to release my book 5 days before the launch date, screwing up the timing of things, but it was still effective in getting  a good number of reviews up there early on.

My publisher also put my book up on Netgalley, which I would totally recommend. Netgalley is a site where book reviewers can download a free copy in exchange for a review. It was ridiculously easy to get almost 100 people to download it (rather than my time-consuming individual emails). If you have the money to spend on it, I would say Netgalley is 100% worth it.

3. Blog tour

I am doing a 20 stop blog tour through Chapter by Chapter, which starts July 18 and runs for two weeks. I will be doing a giveaway as part of the blog tour, as well as author interviews, guest posts, and reviews. This is another way to get in front of new audiences, and while I can’t speak to the results yet, I am optimistic that it will be very helpful. Again, I spent hours and hours trying to get bloggers to review my book with no success, and by paying $50 to a well-respected tour organizer, I ended up with 20 stops with no more trouble than signing up on their website. Again, my take-away from this (like Netgalley) is that some well-placed investments will save you a SIGNIFICANT amount of time and energy.

4. Email Campaign

This is another approach from the Launch a Bestseller course, and due to time constraints, I didn’t do much here. The idea is that you create a pre-order incentive, like some free chapters, or a free resource to accompany your book. You tell your email list that if they pre-order the book, they get the freebie. This way, people are incentivized to actually buy your book, instead of just putting it on the To Read shelf on Goodreads. And, your book will have a nice spike on its first day, and hopefully show up on some of the Amazon ranking lists and such.

I had been busy writing a prequel novella to give to my email list as an opt-in incentive, and my email list is still fairly new, so I wanted to build some loyalty before I started selling too hard to them. I ended up just giving away the novella for free to those on the list on the day of the launch. For my next book, I will create some deleted chapters or perhaps a map of the world to give away for free if you buy the book.

Anyway, I think this is a great approach, I just didn’t quite have my act together to take advantage of it this time around!

5. Social media

This is one of the more obvious launch strategies. Share, share, share on your social media sites! Build some buzz. And ask your followers and friends to share with their friends, too. Tim suggests in his course that you make it easy for people by creating up some preset Tweets, images that can be pinned, etc., so all your followers have to do to share is click a button.


These are the main approaches I took for my launch. There are some other things I did, like hosting a book launch party (so fun), paying for a professional Kirkus Review, and doing a lot of guest posting and interviews on other blogs. My publisher also set up a press release and sent out ARCs for me to reviewers I identified. These are just a few of many types of efforts to take to launch your book.

So what will I do differently next time?

First, I will give myself a longer lead time. I gave myself two months for the launch, but it really wasn’t enough time. The ARC copies of Moonburner ended up going out only three weeks before launch, which wasn’t enough time for the reviewers who had said yes to read and post around the launch date.

Second, I will focus on building up my email list, and run a pre-order campaign with a pre-order incentive.

Third, I will focus this year on connecting with some popular book bloggers and other authors whose work is similar to mine. One thing Tim mentioned in one of the interviews I listened to illustrated why connecting with influencers, rather than individual readers, is so beneficial (of course, you still want to connect with readers!) You could spend the time it takes to connect with 100 readers, or you could connect with one influencer who could influence 100 of their followers to read your book. Clearly, the second option is vastly more efficient, and for a busy author, time is at a premium.

Finally, I’ll spend some well-placed dollars to save myself some time and effort, allowing me to spend those hours on more fruitful efforts (like writing my next book!)

Overall, I’m pleased with how the launch went, as a total newbie author with no experience launching a book. Becoming a published author is a learning process every step of the way, and the launch was no exception!


Featured photo by e.c. johnson, CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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