Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sword of Shadows VBT

Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Determined to defend her people, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.

Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.

"War propels the story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst." -Publishers Weekly

This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.

A hush of wings on the windowsill interrupted Eolyn’s thoughts. She looked up to see a Great River Owl, its proud silhouette outlined by moonlight.

Eolyn rose to her feet in surprise, keenly aware of its penetrating gaze, though she could not see its round eyes in the dark. A breeze ruffled its feathers. Its aura was impossibly familiar: intense shades of gold, burgundy, and forest green, shot through with streaks of deepest indigo.

She held her breath and let it go in a whisper. “Akmael?”

More than a question, it was a hope, a fear, an invocation.

A shimmer passed through the owl, followed by a flash of white light. Suddenly Akmael was with her, the heat of his hand upon her throat, the strength of his fingers intertwining in her hair, the demand of his lips upon hers, warm and full of passion. The magic of the South Woods blew through the window in a humid gust, swirling about them, begging Eolyn to remember who she was and what she once meant to him.

Akmael kissed Eolyn until she had no more breath to give. Then he paused and held her close, their foreheads touching as her fingers traced the familiar prominence of his cheekbone, the line of his jaw, the curve of his full lips.

All she could hear was his desire, carried on the rhythm of his heart. She dared not speak, for if she did, she might stumble upon words of caution or prudence or common sense, and none of that had any place here. Not when he was so near, nearer than he had been in such a painfully long time, closer than he might ever be again.

This is a gift from the Gods, Akmael had once said. To deny it would be an insult to them.

“Eolyn, I—”

She hushed him with a kiss.

Why Query?

It’s been only five years since the first edition of Eolyn was released by Hadley Rille Books in May of 2011. At that time, ebooks and self-publishing were just getting off the ground. Both were viewed with trepidation, even suspicion. But Amazon opened its arms wide to the coming wave, giving self-published authors a ready home to realize their dreams. Ever since, Amazon’s bright cartoon eyes have been going k’ching k’ching as its e-coffers fill with money.

A lot has changed since 2011. Ebooks are now part and parcel of any novel release, and numerous presses and imprints have sprung up to dedicate themselves exclusively to digital editions. Self-published books have flooded the market, making it easy for readers to find a large variety of stories cheap or free. At the same time, market saturation has driven down the monetary value of the blood, sweat, and tears all authors dedicate to their craft.

Many acknowledge that self-publishing is more respected than it used to be – which, to be fair, is not really saying much. But still, a large cadre of innovative authors have made their mark in self-publishing, proving that success doesn’t necessarily depend on landing a traditional press.

Which begs the question: Why bother querying at all?

As I mentioned up front, the first edition of Eolyn was published in 2011 through the traditional route. I sent out queries, synopses, and excerpts, and suffered my share of rejections, before Hadley Rille Books, a small press specializing in genre fiction, picked it up and offered me a contract. I published two novels with Hadley Rille before deciding, in the spring of 2015, that it was time to strike out on my own.

Now, The Silver Web trilogy, including Eolyn, Sword of Shadows, and Daughter of Aithne, is being released as a self-published work.  At the same time, I’ve started querying for another novel series, Path of Souls, with sincere hopes of finding a traditional press for my new project.

Having walked the road of both traditional and self-publishing, I can speak to both experiences and give you some ideas as to the advantages and disadvantages of both. I can say with confidence that no one has to cling to just one path to publication. In fact, the more I look at the fast-paced change of today’s publishing world, the more I believe we shouldn’t cling to just one path.

It’s also become clear to me that self-published authors cannot lay exclusive claim to the term “independent author.” In my mind, all authors are independent. Each author determines the best publishing route for each of her novels, and exercises freedom by using all the options available.

For those trying to determine which path to publication would best suit their current manuscript. I’ve set up a little quiz that I hope will help you evaluate whether you’re ready to dive into self-publishing, or whether maybe, just maybe, you should query first. This isn’t a comprehensive decision-making tool, but hopefully it will shed some light on what might be the best path for you.

The quiz consists of just three questions:

1. Is this your first novel?
YES – Query first, because let’s be frank: You have no clue what you’re getting into. Publishing is a shit load of work, and the learning curve is steep. At this stage in your career, you will benefit enormously by collaborating with publishing professionals who are invested in your success and capable of giving you all the support you need to edit, launch, and market your new baby. If you can find a press ready to offer a home for your book, DO IT. I highly recommend small, independent presses that can give you personalized attention and involve you directly in the publishing process. BUT, beware of vanity presses and the like. Anyone who charges you up front to publish your work is not a legitimate press. Do your homework, and don’t sign a contract unless you’re absolutely certain that press can provide a quality experience for you and your first novel.
NO – If you have some publishing experience under your belt, and you’re chomping at the bit for more autonomy, self-publishing may be the road for you. See additional questions below.

2. Do you have a lot of cash on hand?
YES – Lucky you! Get ready to throw it all away. Your budget will include professional line editing, professional copy editing, cover art and design, marketing, formatting, and other related expenses (including ISBN numbers, if you do a print edition). The cost of self-publishing a single novel, in ebook and paperback, can run into thousands of dollars, depending on the choices you make. Higher quality products require a larger investment. And you don’t want to risk putting something shoddy out on the market, because readers who pick it up will never look at another novel by you again if they have to suffer through typos, poor formatting, clichéd story lines, and the like. Most importantly: Do not count on making any of that cash back. Ebook and other sales will generally not compensate for your initial investment. The market is saturated and it is extremely difficult to get one’s book into the hands of more than a few readers. The good news is that as you put more books out there, you’re likely to attract more readers. So each subsequent novel should require a little less investment, and the more novels you have on the market, the greater your returns.

NO – Query first. A quality press can and will absorb the set-up costs for publishing your book. They can also provide the marketing muscle to get your novel into the hands of enough readers to at least have a chance at going viral. With a good enough story and little bit of luck, you may even get a modest advance.

3. Are you a control freak?
YES – Consider self-publishing. I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed having full control over every aspect of publishing The Silver Web (despite the shit load of work and the exorbitant expense). When I decided to self-publish, it was in part because I had a very clear idea of exactly what I wanted to do with my novels, how I wanted to roll them out onto the market. I had identified the perfect cover artist, and I envisioned a very tight time line for editing, formatting, and release of all three novels. Maybe a strong marketing team from an established press would have done a better job than I, but in my heart of hearts, I wanted complete ownership over this project. I wanted to do things my way, and to this day, I’m glad I did.

NO – Query first. Give yourself a chance at finding a press that can free you from some of the more onerous tasks of publishing. The fact of the matter is, the more control you have over a project, the less control you have over your time. And time is a precious commodity, especially for writers. I have no regrets about self-publishing The Silver Web, but for my next project, I’m ready to set aside my publisher’s hat and surrender some control. Partly because I want more time to write. But another important consideration is that my next series will likely appeal to a somewhat different market than The Silver Web. A traditional publisher with a good track record could help me reach out to new audiences. And I’m hungry to work with an experienced editor and a proper marketing team. So I’m buckling down to query again.

If I get an offer I like, I will sign that contract.

Because as an independent author, that’s my choice.

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Author Bio and Links:
Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

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