Hello friends and fans!
Welcome to my 34th newsletter – and this time, I think you’ll notice right away that there’s something different about it!
October already? Wow! One of these days it’ll be December and Saturnalia again! 😉 Oktoberfest is on its way – and of course, our favorite festival of the year: Halloween!
In last month’s newsletter I said that this has been one of the busiest, most productive years in writing I’ve had in a long time, and it’s only right that I emphasize that!
That said, this edition of my newsletter also has to be the most intensively updated and detailed one yet! It even has a gorgeous new header image – and lots of extra information!
Let’s carry on, starting with some of the technical background stuff related to my writing!
Discontinuation of the .net website
As I told you last month, the .net website has been discontinued as of mid-September, so please don’t use the
christinaengela.net url/link as the redirect to christinaengela.com isn’t expected to work much longer!
I opened the .net site in September 2018 as an experiment, and set up an array of onboard selling tools – but although I finally had just three direct sales from that website during the past year (amounting to a whopping $6 in all that time!) the cost of renewing the service just didn’t justify the expense. I have no intention of renewing the .com domain either when it expires in 2020, since the cost of that via WordPress would be actually three times the renewal cost of the .net through GoDaddy! I will nevertheless do my best to keep all my url mentions updated – hence this reminder!
Updates On Lulu AND Amazon
As you probably are aware, one of the two main service providers I publish through is Lulu.com (the other I use is Smashwords). While both have their fans and their pro’s and cons, Lulu is the only one of the two that distributes to Amazon straight-off – Smashwords wants you to sell a truck-load of a title via their own site, or Apple, or Kobo before they will even consider forwarding it to Amazon! Also, as I mentioned in last month’s newsletter, I’d updated quite a few titles incrementally on Lulu over the past few years, and noticed that inspite of everything I did, Amazon was still displaying some quite old versions of my books that were no longer available, and not updating to the newest versions!
Upon investigation, I complained to Lulu’s help department, and they clarified: it turns out that while I may have updated a project file on a particular book, those changes didn’t reach Amazon. I’m still not sure if this means the process of “revision” on Lulu is automatic and it didn’t work properly in this case, or if the process is not automatic and I’m supposed to notify them to send updated files to Amazon after making changes – they simply didn’t clarify that part – but in the meantime I found a workaround of my own! By that I mean that I undertook the gargantuan task of republishing my books on Lulu not once – but TWICE in the space of a single week!
Let it not be said that I don’t put enough effort into my books! Whew!
The process involved taking down basically ALL my books that are on Lulu, “retiring” them one by one, and then manually republishing each one again – from the beginning, getting new ISBN numbers in the process! As if that wasn’t stressful enough, a few days after completing the updates I received an email from Lulu informing me that this still wasn’t good enough and that I would have to make changes yet again! Hang on a sec – I thought Smashwords was supposed to be the pedantic nitpicking one?
I decided I’d be damned if I was going to change all the covers again to suit them – I wanted the series names on the covers as well, so – groaning and grudgingly, I took all of Galaxii and Quantum down a second time in the space of one week – and republished them again, this time with titles matching the covers EXACTLY! Fortunately, the next morning I received notice that this had done the trick and all Galaxii and Quantum titles had passed Lulu’s evaluation for distribution and had been forwarded to Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble!
I heaved a huge sigh of relief once that was done!
In the meantime, all the titles concerned were still directly available via Lulu’s own shop page, and of course, everywhere else they’re distributed to – Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Smashwords, etc.
All that legwork is now finally behind me, and the newly updated titles that were supposed to have reached Amazon months ago arrived there by the 20th September! But at least, they’re finally there! I was finally able to claim them by clicking “This is my book!” and added them to my Amazon author page! Only then was I able to ask Amazon to link the new editions to previous editions, which will solve the knotty problem of having multiple editions showing side-by-side there!
Still, the drama isn’t quite over yet, as only once this has been done will I be able to update my GoodReads book listing, since their system allows only ISBN/AISN numbers of books being sold on Amazon, and nowhere else!
To make matters even more complicated, somehow in the publishing process over the past couple of years, a duplicate GoodReads author profile got created automatically by some system gremlin or other, and all my current titles are already listed on that site under “Ms. Christina Engela” in duplicate – as they are on Amazon itself – and I can’t claim or add or merge them with my existing GoodReads author user account either! *Head desk!* Perhaps this issue can be resolved if I create a new user account on GoodReads and claim that account… but I still have to get around to it!
I often wonder if aspiring indie authors out there actually knew the amount of work, admin, research, learning, trouble and frustration lying in wait for them, if they’d just give up and not bother! But then, this is my obsession, so it’s not as if I actually have a choice in the matter!
“Dead Man’s Hammer” received an amazing 5 star review from UK writer and reviewer, Lee Hall on September 9! I’m not sure how other writers take it, but when I see glowing reports of something I wrote, containing statements like: “As the Quantum series unfolds, it grows more and more impressive“, “Dead Man’s Hammer is proof that Christina Engela can build an established world and insert so many genres into it along with retaining a unique style of writing that not only tributes her influences but has a way of confiding in readers” and “Throughout Engela’s writing style naturally flows and is fun to read“, I feel like breaking out the bubbly and inviting people round to celebrate!
It’s truly gratifying to realize that the reason a reviewer is saying these things, is because they took the time to read something I wrote. It’s also humbling, and I’m very grateful!
It’s probably worth mentioning though, that “Dead Man’s Hammer” has been available since 2006, and this is the very first review I’ve had of that particular title! That alone should serve as an indication of how difficult it is to get reviews as an indie or self-publishing author!
Theo & Yvonne Engela’s Books – New Covers & Formatting
As part of the revision process I told you about in the previous section, I took the opportunity to fix a few things and improve upon the presentation of my parent’s books! I know, I know, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Still, I couldn’t help myself! At any rate, what I did was create new covers for my parent’s books to make them stand out more, and also to make them look similar and part of the same series, while also reformatting the interior of the eBook into a more up to date and modern format – the same as the one I use on all the Galaxii and Quantum books! I think they really pop, don’t you?
Poetry by Wendy K. Engela
A couple of months ago my wife and partner in all things wierd and wonderful, Wendy, published her first book – a collection of her gothic poetry! “Season’s Change“. The collection is now available as an eBook via all the expected places, Amazon,
Lulu, Smashwords, and all their distribution partner sites.
Sales & Downloads
Since I made a host of new free promotional items available on Lulu and Smashwords, interest towards the end of July – particularly on Smashwords has been gradually showing signs of improvement. Let’s just say that at least I can detect a pulse! Downloads of my free items are happening, and I feel a little encouraged. On the sales front however, things are still pretty dire. Hopefully they will pick up soon.
Current Writing Projects
Book 7 in Quantum – tentatively operating under the working title “Underground Movement” – is still under way. Just slowly. At the time of last month’s newsletter I told you I’d just reached over 29000 words… and then I peeled some of those off and shifted them to the next title after that’s draft… so “Underground Movement” is currently sitting at just over 21000 words again! Still, it’s all part of the creative process, isn’t it? Right now I’m pondering whether I shouldn’t just merge the next two title’s stories? The story’s finer detail is still evolving and unfolding, so sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the path while I’m distracted by all the scenery! Anyway, when I make my mind up, I’ll let you know!
As some of you may recall, in 2016 I released Afrikaans translations of “The Thirteenth Ship” and “Wiggle Room“, which like the English originals, were made available as free downloads. These have been updated and made available once again! I also made it a goal back in the day, to get all my fiction works translated into Afrikaans for the local market, but also into a couple of other languages – as far as that was possible! Translation work isn’t easy, as I’m sure you can imagine – translation apps can really mangle the works up, and without a native language-speaker to check these translations I’m still up the creek without a canoe!
That said, I’ve had to rely on volunteers to do it out of their own good will rather than to pay top dollar for paid translation services! All I’ve been able to offer people willing to assist me in this task, is mention of their name in the credits and perhaps to give them a free eBook copy of any one of my paid books upon completion of the job!
Now, before you accuse me of being a skint old duck, please bear in mind that the items I wanted translated were all free sample works for which I wouldn’t get paid anyway! It doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of near-worthless Souf Efikin ronts on something that gets given away for free, does it? That being said, some time ago, a few people volunteered eagerly to translate a couple of short stories, and quietly disappeared, never to be heard from again! This recently was the case as well, with several apparent eager-beavers silently vanishing into the mist! Hopefully, in the long-run I can get some of the novels translated. This is a long-term goal, so I expect progress to be slow.
I’ve also done my level best recently, to start making a post via my website blog daily and then sharing that across social media instead of posting directly to Facebook, Twitter et al. The goal I’ve kept in mind is to post informative articles about various different characters or elements of my stories – and also to come across to readers as more personable… that is to day, less businesslike and less intimidating. After all, I is human too, and I don’t bite… much! So far, that seems to be helping! Below are links to a few of my most recent posts on The Crow Bar:
- The Tech Side #1: A Broad-Spectrum Approach To Sci-fi Storytelling
- LGBT Heroes in Galaxii & Quantum – the “G” in LGBT
- Secret Weapons of the Resistance: Time Travel, Beck the Badfeller & Cindy-Mei Winter
- FAQ’s Answered #13: Who Is Sona Kilroy?
- FAQ’s Answered #12: Who Is Cindy-Mei Winter?
- FAQ’s Answered #11: What Is The Time Saving Agency?
- Storm Area 51! Let’s See Them Aliens! Etc!
- FAQ’s Answered #10: Who Is Marsha In “Dead Beckoning” to Blachart?
- FAQ’s Answered #9: What Inspired “Prodigal Sun” & “High Steaks”?
- Secret Weapons of the Resistance: Fred (the Arborian)
- Secret Weapons of the Resistance: Bovine Torpedoes
- FAQ’s Answered #8: What Inspired The Akx?
- Preserve The Past… Save The Future!
- Another Round At The Crow Bar #33 September 2019
- FAQ’s Answered #7: What Do I Write About (& Other Questions)
Anyway, let’s move on to some more new releases!
Some of you may recall that in 2016 I released Afrikaans translations of “The Thirteenth Ship” and “Wiggle Room“, which like the English originals, were made available as free downloads. These have been updated and made available once again!
Currently Available Titles:
I currently have 22 unique titles available in 4 series (not including the 15 free promotional items).
On A Personal Note
As I related to you last month, I have opted to sell via Amazon again. Not that I like them, but there’s simply no other way to make any headway as an author – especially an indie author – without making use of their platform.
The two different earlier editions of my dad’s collection of short stories “African Assignment” I mentioned last time as listed on my Amazon author page have finally – after another round of emails, been merged. At this stage, I’m just waiting for the current version to reflect on Amazon’s database before adding it to my listing and then getting those merged with it as well.
Hopefully some headway will be made soon in this regard, and I will as always, keep you posted.
- Fan Mail, Reviews & Honorable Mentions
I found the following items to display in this months issue:
- Medium.com has shared my article “No LGBT Stereotypes Here!” from last year on their website.
- “Dead Man’s Hammer” received an amazing 5 star review from UK writer and reviewer, Lee Hall on September 9, 2019 – the very first for this title!
- My favorite reviewer also tweeted THIS about “Black Sunrise” on the 12th!
- I got this review on Smashwords for “The Thirteenth Ship“: “Started average, but the ending was different. 4 Stars” – James Jenkins September 12, 2019.
I was quoted by Stephanie C. Odili on Aug 13, 2019 on an article at Medium.com “The patriarchy longs for the days ‘when men were men’ and women were oppressed, subservient — and they can see no wrong in it. It justifies its former power and lust to hold on to it — and if possible, to regain it…How can oppression and power over another person’s life ever be ‘love’?” ― Christina Engela.
A short story project I collaborated on with fellow author Alex S. Johnson “Negative Wonderland” appears on Pintrest.
- CrowdCount has one of my quotes at the bottom of their website in a carousel along with quotes from Margaret Mead, Ron Siltanen and Mother Theresa. “Human rights is a numbers game. Who is going to care if only 20 people pitch for a protest?“
- Poopbite (odd name, that) lists one of my quotes on a list about bonfires. “Knowledge and education are the keys to this human tragedy which is a bonfire of hate-fueled by ignorance.” – Christina Engela.
- GGGMall is still quietly carrying on, selling my books via their website AND on Bid or Buy.
- The Daily Ripple posted a quote of mine from “The Pink Community – The Facts” right at the top of their homepage! “The problem is, in a world where some people (even in the USA, where someone like Donald Trump was allowed to rise to the level of a serious presidential candidate in 2016) have descended to such levels of ignorance that science itself is dismissed by leaders, political and religious as ‘an agenda’, and frightening numbers of people cling to ignorance and superstition because it suits their conservative anti-human rights views and objectives.” ― Christina Engela, The Pink Community – The Facts.
I display my Fan Mail, Reviews & Compliments with pride, gratitude and humility. You are always welcome to have a look.
- Hate Mail & Horrible Mentions
I’ve had nothing in this department over the past month, other than a couple of pitiful dick pics and weak insults – surely my haters can do better?
I’m rather proud of my hate mail, and you can review my collection here – but be forewarned, don’t do it while eating or drinking, or you might choke while laughing!
I have nothing new to show you here this month.
All my interviews are linked to from this page. If you would like to do an interview with me about my work, please do get in touch!
Well, that’s all for this time, folks! 🙂
Thanks again for all your support, friendship and interaction!
Catch me on social media!
All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.