Book 3 Kickstarter 90% Funded In First 2 Weeks

The Kickstarter campaign for The Tale of Eaglefriend Book 3 is on track to hit its goal weeks ahead of schedule. Backers of this project have been opting for E-Books on any device as well as signed paperbacks.

The opening chapters of Book 3 are available for everyone to read on the Kickstarter page as well.

Thanks a lot to everyone for your support!

C. L.

Kickstarter For Book 3 55% Funded In 1st 10 Days! Pre-Order & Start Reading Now

I’m happy to announce that 1 year after learning my cancer spread to my brain, things are much improved, and I’ve launched the Kickstarter campaign for The Tale of Eaglefriend Book 3.

This campaign offers discounted Pre-Orders of the E-Book, and Signed Paperbacks, in order to fund the cover design from the same expert team of artists that produced the first two books of this series.

I’m so grateful for your kind support, and can’t wait to bring you the next installment of this Epic Fantasy series.

Thanks for checking out this new project.

Best wishes from C. L. Murray

Eaglebreaker on Audible from Publishers of The Martian

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during these troubled times, and maybe you’ll let me provide you with a few days’ worth of quality entertainment.

Eaglebreaker (The Tale of Eaglefriend Book 2) is now available for Pre-Order on Audible (It goes live on 6/2).

Just like with A Facet for the Gem (The Tale of Eaglefriend Book 1), Podium Audio (The Martian, Dawn of Wonder) has done a beautiful job bringing the story to life, the next best thing to seeing it on screen.

If you have an Audible subscription, it comes with 1 title of your choice each month, so you can pick up Book 1 now and Book 2 when it comes out in a couple days.

Prime members who sign up for a 30-Day Free Trial of Audible get 2 titles to go with it.

Or if you prefer the Kindle or Paperback experience: Book 1Book 2.

Amazon now allows ratings without written reviews, so if you can spare a second, it would be a tremendous help if you shared your opinion.

Thanks as always, and best wishes from C. L. Murray

Say Hi on My FB Pg + Cancer & Book 2 Updates

Have you connected yet on My Official FB Page?

Lots of other people have. It’s a great place to just say hi, ask a question, and get my latest updates.

Here’s today’s bit of news:

Last week’s scans show cancer below the neck is damn near invisible, and brain tumors are on their way to being history as well, probably without the need for surgery.

Will be doing another 3 weeks in the hospital over Xmas for (hopefully) final high-dose chemo and stem cell transplant, to really make sure we get rid of this bastard.

Very optimistic I’ll publish Book 2 by 12/24. Chapter 1 of Book 3 is coming along quite nicely as well. Thanks to everyone for your support!

1 Year Later: Less Cancer, More Books, Same Level of A**hole

Where were we? In my last big personal post a few months after my 11/1/18 diagnosis, I wrote that I suspected I might need a few more rounds of easy outpatient chemo and then I’d be done with treatment. Fuck I was cute back then.

I ended up being transferred to a doctor who heads the entire oncology bone marrow transplant program in San Diego, and damn lucky for me, because this guy tackles the disease way harder than the teams I dealt with previously. The week-long treatment he started me on back in April required me to stay in the hospital, and when I got out I couldn’t stop puking through the debut of Game of Thrones’ final season (still not sure the chemo was to blame though, hohomaan).

Anyway … after a couple rounds of that, they told me the cancer was reduced enough that they could start the process that really obliterates all the malignant leftovers. To do this, they’d have to hook me up to a machine that extracts millions of stem cells from my blood, enough for two transplants that would occur during two separate months in the hospital, to rebuild my bone marrow after high-dose chemo destroys it.

In the weeks of preparation that stretched from late July to early August, I started to feel like I was finally beating this bastard, training my bloodclot-filled leg to push through a couple miles a day, then five, then seven. Then, for the four days leading up to my date with the extraction machine, they gave me shots that boost your bone marrow’s production of white cells so they’d be sure to collect the amount they needed for my future transplants. They told me these shots might cause bone discomfort, so I just wrote off the tingly throbbing throughout my upper body that hit me a few hours after each injection.

Finally, I went on the machine for a planned four-hour session, and the first three hours were uneventful while this medical marvel rapidly circulated all the blood in my body, taking only what it needed and giving the rest back to me. During the home stretch, though, a light tickle in the right side of my forehead quickly became what felt like an electric current pulsing through the entire right half of my body, which throbbed uncontrollably with that same tingly sensation the shots had given me, only with 100x intensity. After the nurse slowed down the machine, the throbbing eventually stopped, and I shrugged it off while the process resumed. A half-hour later, the same problem hit me again, and this time it felt like I was going to lose my ability to breathe, until they turned off the machine and I came to feel mostly normal again. They gave me an MRI and kept me in the hospital that night, and the doctor told me the following day that I had two cancerous tumors in the left side of my brain, which impacts the right side of the body.

A few days later, I finally finished writing Chapter 16 (out of 18) of Book 2, the biggest and most climactic of the book. It was the chapter I’d started nine months earlier when I’d been coughing up blood and having fevers for three weeks, just before my initial cancer diagnosis. A few hours after putting the final touches on this chapter that I’d made so dauntingly spectacular in my mind for years, I met with a neurosurgeon who told me that what I’d experienced on the machine were seizures, and that our best course of action was to hit both the tumors with radiation. This was put on hold a day later, though, when I had another seizure at home, followed by two more at the ER. I came out of the hospital two days later up to my eyeballs in seizure meds and steroids for brain swelling, and found out those latest seizures were due to one of the brain tumors hemorrhaging to twice its original size.

After waiting a few tense days for the neurosurgeon to draw up a new radiation plan that could contain the ticking time bomb in my head, I finished Chapter 17. The next day, I started the final chapter and got my radiation, which surprisingly felt like nothing (seems to have seared a permanent bald strip onto me though). One more seizure hit me the next day (8/22), and after upping my seizure meds, I’m happy to say almost three months later that it was my last one. The day after that, just about three years from the date I’d started it, I finished Book 2.

Giving the book to my trusted beta readers and getting their constructive feedback really helped me pass the time from that point on, especially when my doctor had me on so many steroids I could only sleep from around 6pm-10pm. There’s something really magical about watching the movie Rounders in the middle of the night for like a solid two weeks, but I digress. During the month I spent in the hospital recently, I kept my mind occupied mainly by outlining Books 3 and 4 of my series, and have the first six (and last four) chapters of Book 3 pretty solidly developed. The high-dose chemo, which somewhat melted the plastic tubing that transferred it into my body, knocked out my energy for a few weeks, but I’m close to my normal self again and ready to face my next (hopefully final) chemo around Xmas, which happens to be when Book 2 comes out 🙂 I may end up needing physical brain surgery to permanently eliminate those bitchy tumors and the seizure risks they pose, but that’s down the road quite a bit, and I have a lot of happy stops along the way.

One of my biggest fears in all of this came from following the progress of a few other authors who cranked out their whole series way faster than I ever could, and so many reviews for their second books read something like: “I loved the first book and couldn’t wait for the sequel, and I was so disappointed …” I’m happy to say that my beta readers and a few lovely fans are unanimous that people who liked Book 1 will enjoy the hell out of Book 2, and I’m very optimistic that I can deliver Book 3 much more quickly now that my obstacles are starting to fall away.

I want to thank all the readers out there who picked up my first book, even the handful who told me to go eff myself afterward. No hard feelings. Plenty more where that came from. Btw, if anyone needs to get a hold of me in the next few weeks, I’ll be watching and re-watching the new season of Rick and Morty. Like you weren’t gonna do the same…

Say hi on my Facebook pg

Home from Hospital. Book 2 Pushed Back to 12/24

My month-long hospital treatment ended successfully a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been recovering well at home. Unexpected side effects laid me low for a few weeks though, so I’ve pushed Book 2’s release back to Christmas Eve.

If you haven’t already gotten an early PDF of Book 2 to read and review by launch day, feel free to contact me at news@authorclmurray.com.

Big thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding!

C. L.

Book 2 Pre-Order & Cancer Update

Tomorrow (9/20/19) I’ll be admitted to the hospital for a full month of cancer treatments that pose serious risks, complicated by my blood clots and brain tumors. I’m having my stem cells extracted, then given high-dose chemo that destroys my bone marrow, then having my stem cells re-administered to slowly rebuild my system.

But! Book 2 is written (Pre-Order On Amazon Now), on track for a Thanksgiving release, and my beta readers are giving very positive feedback. In the words of Walter H. White, nothing stops this train.

Thank you to everyone for your kind support. The thought of you reading the next adventure soon is making this all easier.

You Knew Books Had Soundtracks Too, Right?

Back during the slog of my old day job, which I’ve happily left behind to write full time, I was struck by the extreme fortune to hear Lord Huron’s “Meet Me In The Woods” pop on the radio while driving to the gas station for a snack. It absolutely transported me beyond my confined state of the time, and when I devoured the entire Strange Trails album as well as Lonesome Dreams, I became immersed in a sound that captured the wonderment and adventure I pour into my books better than almost any other. Then of course Of Monsters and Men lifted me in a very similar, enchanting fashion.

Presented for your listening enjoyment: my arranged soundtracks for A Facet for the Gem and Eaglebreaker.

Beating Cancer, Finishing My Epic Fantasy Sequel, and Selling More Books Than Ever

I started coughing up blood every day last October. It began as just an annoying dry cough right after I’d slightly choked on a wasabi-slathered dumpling. I was sure my little culinary mishap had caused some kind of inflammation that led to bronchitis, and, having no insurance, I tried to just tough it out even as regular fevers accompanied the problem. The knifing pains that grew worse in my lower abdomen and back were just a result of the strain the cough was putting on my muscles, I kept telling myself.

Finally, after three weeks of wishing this would clear up on its own, I went to Urgent Care on Nov 1 and was swiftly diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to my liver and lungs. The doctor was quick to reassure me that this type of cancer is very treatable with an extremely high survival rate, and I drove home accepting the completed puzzle whose little pieces I’d been ignoring since long before that bitch of a cough set in.

I spent the next few days discovering my luck was so much better than I’d realized, getting insurance through Covered California (Thanks Obama!) and persuading the fine people who work for San Diego County to expedite my coverage so I wouldn’t have to wait till the New Year to start treatment. Turns out their timing was excellent as my left leg started feeling like it had a 30-pound weight strapped to it when I walked, then quickly became sore, swollen, purplish, and barely able to get me around the house.

One week after my diagnosis, I was finally able to see the oncologist I’d been referred to, who breezed through our consultation and sent me for an ultrasound that revealed the cancer had caused a major blood clot extending through my leg into my abdomen. The oncologist didn’t feel like talking about it afterward, but he left some cute pills at the front desk.

Anyway, while seeing few alternatives to weeks of waiting for this or that scan before treatment could begin thanks to this fuckduster fellow, I was again super fortunate to be seen by a urologist who took all of two minutes to assess my situation and tell me, “You need to be in the hospital right now, Asshole.” To which I replied, “All right, Clammy Hands.”

He called his connections at the adjacent ER, where I was promptly admitted and hospitalized for six days. The staff at Scripps Memorial Encinitas were wonderful, and during a week when I would have otherwise been twiddling my thumbs waiting for one minor step toward treatment, they wasted no time knocking out every barrier between me and the lifesaving care I needed. An MRI showed that my brain was clear of tumors, and other procedures found that the blood clot had traveled through my heart and set up shop in my lungs with the cancer. I ditched that first oncologist and went with the team at cCare whose expertise AND compassion are abundantly clear. The hospital administered my first week of chemo, and it was way easier to tolerate than I’d anticipated.

It’s been three months now since I got out of the hospital, and I’ve been giving myself two shots in the stomach a day ever since to keep my blood from turning to cottage cheese. The leg is much easier to walk on but still balloons up with little provocation, and I won’t be reliving my glory days of running miles on the beach anytime soon. Chemo Cycle 4 is near the end (I think somewhere around the start of Cycle 2 is when I woke up with my hair falling out and decided to Walter White that shit). Just about every time I go for treatment I’m reminded that my situation is a damn walk in the park compared to other patients’ hellish illnesses and side effects that I’ve managed to avoid. My mom, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends have all provided unique antidotes to the poison, and I hope to give back many times over.

A CT Scan in mid December showed that the cancer and clots in my lungs and abdomen are significantly reduced, and another on March 1 will determine whether I still need chemo. I suspect a few more cycles will be in order, which will be a breeze like the last couple. I’m looking at another two or three slightly inconvenient months, and then I’ll turn 30 at the beginning of my new normal–when I publish my second book and see life-improving profits from my successful advertising strategy born from several failed ones.

This next part will probably be more relevant to those in the publishing game trying to improve their sales, but might still be a fun read for everyone. Don’t be a dick.

I published my first novel, an epic fantasy, three years ago, and became obsessed with the idea of selling enough copies of it to pay my bills every month. Holy shit did that not work out, but it led me to find that it actually could with just two books in a series. I started by paying some “social media guru” to blast my book’s link to thousands of Twitter followers several times a day, which is a really obnoxious and ineffective way to market. A sizable portion of these people are likely not even interested in the genre you’ve written, and most of those who are might look at the post a second longer than others, while the select few who click it probably won’t buy it.

Then, over the ensuing couple years, I focused more time and money than I care to admit on Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads, and BookBub Ads. You need to be careful with these, because they can easily draw you into a state that’s essentially gambling addiction. They each provide this magic machine at your fingertips into which you can put x dollars and sometimes get back more than x, which brings on an intoxicating endorphin buzz that makes you disregard the more frequent cases where you lose your fucking shirt because you really don’t know what you’re doing.

That was the negative overall experience I had with pay-per-click advertising on Amazon and Facebook. Despite a few rare days or even weeks where my return on investment came near enough to my ad spend that sequel sales could theoretically overtake that margin, there was no combination of sales price, pitch, and audience that produced a scaleable, reliable business model built on just two books. I did however collect enough positive results to do well on those platforms when my series is at least three books strong. BookBub, in my experience, is the gold mine that can bring in consequential monthly profits with just two books.

BookBub is the biggest book advertising platform in the world, with millions of subscribers who have signed up to receive a daily e-mail about discounted ebooks in their preferred genres. One significant thing that sets it apart from Amazon and Facebook is that 100% of the people on that platform already want to be sold books. That’s the only reason they’re there, so they’re not nearly as “cold” as the customers you’ve tried to entice on other sites. Most authors and publishers know about the coveted BookBub Featured Deal, for which hundreds apply every day and only a handful get selected. If you’re fortunate enough to have your book selected for this promotion, which I was once, you’ll see a few months’ worth of sales over the span of just a couple glorious days.

Authors who’ve written a series will often promote their first book this way at a price of 99c-$2.99, and then make serious bank from hundreds of full-priced sequel sales. BUT, you can only do this for a particular book once every six months, and there’s no guarantee it’ll be selected a second time. As exhilarating as it was to see my debut epic fantasy rank above A Game of Thrones on Amazon’s Epic Fantasy Bestseller list for a few hours, I’d happily settle for a more permanent spot a few dozen rungs down the ladder.

Here’s what today’s BookBub e-mail for Fantasy looks like on my iPhone:

 

Front and center is Masks and Shadows, today’s Featured Deal, a promo that cost the publisher $1,200 to hit the inboxes of 1.8 million subscribers interested in Fantasy (would cost about $700 if the book were 99c). Beneath all the platform links for that, you’ll see another ad for a different book from a different author. THIS chunk of real estate is the gold mine I’m talking about if you’re an author looking to earn a profit that actually makes a difference in your life consistently every month. It’s a spot you can grab not once every six months, but every single day.

The way the bidding system works, you can attach your ad to the bottom of a Featured Deal e-mail for around $6-8 per every 1,000 unique recipients, and do it on a large enough daily scale to spend easily $100 a day and see enough sales to make it worth that investment, if you target and pitch proficiently. I was surprised to see that this book advertised at the lower half is selling really well, because my data shows that such a vague pitch made to the entire Fantasy audience fares poorly. I doubt this ad could bring in a positive return on investment with just one or even two sequels to sell. This book is however the first in a series of five, and maybe the publisher’s got several other marketing avenues in play.

You’ll get the best results by being surgical in your audience targeting, and BookBub lets you do just that by providing the option to select fans of specific authors rather than broad genres. Find semi-popular authors of books comparable to yours, use Photoshop or canva.com to tailor your ads to convince those readers that if they love that writer, then your book is precisely their cup of tea, sell your book for 99c, and you’ll acquire dozens of new customers per day at a reasonable cost.

I don’t love selling a book I put my heart and soul into for 99c, but I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to make a grand or two a month off of my art, and this is the only approach I’ve found that allows for a meaningful profit margin from just two books to offer. Repeatedly seeing that no such margin remained after the cost of pitching my $5.99 Book 1 to those few willing to pay that (fair) price, I realized that if I could sell Book 1 at 99c for a customer acquisition cost around $2, and 65-70% of those people bought Book 2 for $4.99 or $5.99, then I was in the money.

Say I spent $100 on a day’s ads to sell 50 copies of Book 1 at 99c a pop. My cut of each sale is 35c, which amounts to $17.50. But then say 35 of those 50 customers go on to buy Book 2 for $5.99, for which my cut is $4.10. That amounts to $143.50, and added to $17.50 I’ve made $161 off of one day’s investment of $100. It sure as hell isn’t much, but I’d be over the moon to just press a few keys and collect $60 a day or $1,800 a month from two books that are done while I write the third.

On the cold, unforgiving landscape of GoodreadsBook 1’s 415 ratings show that 90% of readers at least “liked it,” and 70% either “really liked it” or “loved it,” so I don’t think it’s aiming too high to think that if Book 2 were available today, 70% of those buying Book 1 would eventually move on to the sequel. With that reasoning in mind, I found five popular authors with large fan bases on BookBub and was successful in making 1 99c sale for about every $2 spent, easily getting between 40 and 50 sales per day with extra gravy trickling in from subscribers to Kindle Unlimited (basically Netflix for books).

After focusing the better part of two years on building a well-oiled book-selling machine that I can run like clockwork every day while I write more books, I’m as close as I think I’ll ever get. I’ve tested it thoroughly enough to know that it’s reliable on any given day, and now all the equation needs to be complete is Book 2. I was just starting the final three chapters when I got my diagnosis, and trading a hospital bed for the writer’s chair feels a bit daunting, but good.

I spent my 20s turning away from several paths I was urged to take, ones that could have offered much-needed comfort and stability, trying instead to figure out how to build a life on work that shares the best and brightest of me with the world. I can’t believe how fast my 30s have come along, but if I can start them in that bright patch I always envisioned just over that next hill, maybe I won’t let them go by so quickly.