Copper Centurion Release Date Announced!

The release date for Copper Centurion has been announced! Click to learn about prize winning opportunities!

Greetings to all my readers and fans!!Copper Centurion 800 Cover reveal and Promotional

I am extremely excited to announce that Copper Centurion will be released on May 1, 2013. This full-length novel has roughly 80,000 and will be on sale for $3.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Kobo, and all other platforms through Smashwords. There will also be a print version available on the same day.

I am currently looking for the following…

  1. 7-10 people willing to read ARC copies of the novel.
  2. 10-15 people willing to host me for a blog tour in May.
  3. 2-3 people to be on my ‘street team’ – requesting the book at your local library, leaving the promotional posters at the local independent book store/library if possible, generally promoting it on twitter, goodreads, etc.

If you’d like to do any of these (or just want to know more) email me at daniel(dot)ottalini(at)

If you’re nice enough to help me make this book release a blast, you’ll get some awesomely exciting prizes.

  1. An electronic copy of both Copper Centurion and Brass Legionnaire (If you don’t already have the first one)
  2. A digital arts booklet featuring all the illustrations from the series (so far) plus never-before seen concept designs and rough sketches.
  3. Your name in a drawing to win a Nook/Kindle (Haven’t decided yet!)

This will be done on a first come, first serve basis, so sign up for your slot today!

Radio Interview Link & Last Day for Kickstarter!

The link to the radio interview and a notice about the last day of my Kickstarter project!

Hi all,

As promised, here is the link to the Radio Interview that I just did. Since then, I’ve read a lot about how people think they are a scam and what not, but the way I see it, I’ve gained some confidence in myself, gained some practice at how to effectively talk about your story, and can now use this audio file to help expand my readership. I’m also going to turn it into a youtube video to provide another way for people to find me.

kickstarter logo
kickstarter logo (Photo credit: AslanMedia)

Also, the Kickstarter project for Copper Centurion is almost done! This is the LAST day for anyone to contribute to the cause! There are some awesome rewards available, such as a digital copy of all the artwork from books one and two, as well as getting a handwritten thank you note. Of course, my favorite is the one where you get to name your own character, but that is just me :-).


– Daniel

Radio Interview!

See the show notes from my five minute radio interview with Kevin from Global Talk Radio!

Hi All,

I recently did a radio interview with Kevin from Global Talk Radio after they had a promo for five minute radio interviews. What can I say, these guys were super nice and considerate. Because I live on the East Coast, it was sort of a challenge to match my schedule with theirs (west coast), but they made it happen. I’ve posted the questions and my answers below, and hope to be posting the actual radio episode later this week!

How did you get started being a writer?

I actually started as a writer in college, when I decided to write a story that used all of my friends as characters. I got about 7 or 8 chapters in, but then lost interest. For me, one of the hardest things about writing is being self-disciplined enough to actually finish the novel. When I wrote Brass Legionnaire, it helped that I actually wrote down the entire story in a journal I had lying around, rather than sit at the computer and start from scratch. The words seemed to flow more easily for me.

Why did you go the self-publishing route?

I’m impatient and like to be in control! Actually, I had been doing a lot of reading about self-publishing and it seemed to me like it was something that was more practical and doable then trying to get an agent and get my book published by a company. Brass Legionnaire is a good book, and I’ve found great people to back me up on it through my own research. That’s another important part. Instead of having my team picked for me, I could pick my team for the editing, cover art, illustrations, etc. I liked that level of control.

Why Roman Steampunk? 

It was actually an inside joke that took off. I’ve always loved Roman history, and studied aboard in Rome and Naples during college. I’m also a big fan of alternative history, and noticed that very few authors had examined how the world would have changed if the Roman Empire was still around, even though it very likely could have. Plus, I enjoyed novels with steampunk elements that are more realistic, so I used my own knowledge to try and create steampunk creations that would actually make sense in a Roman world. This isn’t Victorian steampunk, no canes and zombies or giant guns, but instead a focus more on animal-like machines and gunpowder loaded weaponry that could realistically evolve from the Romans of old. You’ll see the world really expand in Copper Centurion, my next novel.

What advice would you tell new authors?

Plan, save up, and write a lot! Plan out your novel, then your post-novel plan – who will edit, make cover art, format, and how will you publish. Will you go with Amazon KDP or for a more broad spectrum release with Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, etc. Save up your money, because you can do it cheap, but in this case cheap is not always good. You want your editor to really help clean up your story, not just do a one time sweep for loose punctuation.

How do you keep in touch with fans?

I have a twitter – @Dottalini, a blog –, and a Facebook page. I also created a book page – for my novels, since I sort of wanted to keep that series separate from my author blog when I start writing other novels that aren’t part of this series.

What was your biggest mistake and your greatest achievement (so far)?

So far, I would say my biggest mistake was not writing more. I wish I had been smarter and had at least two stories ready to go, instead of just the one. It would have been fast and simply to make a 10-15,000 word novella and pop that out really cheap next to my other novel, that way I could hook more readers with a low-priced introductory story. My greatest achievement is that my novel – Brass Legionnaire – has been nominated for an EPIC – Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition – eBook award – it’s a finalist (top three) for the action adventure category. That is insanely cool considering that Brass Legionnaire is my first novel.

Round Up: Copper Centurion is coming out this spring, and a short story – Roma Aeronautica, is also coming soon. I’ll be starting work on novel number three, Iron Tribune, next! My books are on sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords.


(P.S – in case you were wondering, this is not a paid advertisement or whatnot – did you really think I would do that? I paid for the interview and simply enjoyed the experience. Ciao!

Is advertising worth it?

Google Adwords, Facebook, Goodreads, Oh my! The choices and effectiveness of Advertising your ebook.

Happy Holidays everyone! Only about three weeks left till Christmas, and let me tell you, things are only getting busier from here on out!advertising 2

Today’s post is all about Advertising. More specifically, the types available to authors (on a relatively cheap basis) and whether or not it’s worth it. I’m going to give each type of advertisement a ranking. $ for affordability and stars for effectiveness. Ideally, you want a type that is low cost and high effectiveness, that is, purchases per click!

Opttion 1: Google Adwords: $ (Three Stars)

What you need: Google Account and a CC

How it works: Essentially, you are creating a text or picture advertisement to run alongside Google’s search results or on any google page. So for my Brass Legionnaire, if you typed in the word “Steampunk” you might see my advertisement pop up. The caveat is that you tend to pay by the click. You also need to pick good target words and hope that your book is a match for people doing that search The more you are willing to pay by the click, the more likely you are to get yours seen. But then the more expensive your advertisement campaign becomes.

I tend to run my ‘offers’ for clicks between $1.00 and $1.50 per day. That way, I can pop in fifty dollars and then let it run for a while. Have I seen a huge jump in sales? Not necessarily, but I have seen rather consistent clicking the advertisement, as well as rather consistent sales since I’ve started. Now I cannot individually target this as the factor in all honesty, but I am considering letting it stop at the end of this cycle and seeing what happens to my numbers.


Option 2: Goodreads (Or other book website/blog) $ (Three and a half stars)

Goodreads and other web blogs are great places to run your book ad. After all, you’re specifically targeting the group of ‘readers’ that you want. I’m not going to run an ad on a Women’s artwork website, I’m going to run it on one that likes to focus on Sci-Fi, fantasy, or history! Thus it is a tiny bit more effective, and if you are on Goodreads, you can see how some information on people clicking on your link. You can make the link go outside the site (and on other blogs) but for goodreads they encourage you to link to your own site on the page. I’m not sure which is better, as I have very limited experience with this site (only 4 days worth of ads.)

Option 3: Facebook $ Two Stars

So you’ve got a facebook account? Do you have a facebook page? Great, then you can run ads! Similar to the way that Google Adwords works, you create an ad then provide a link. Similar to Goodreads, you can link to an external site or to your own facebook group page. I was town between making a Steam Empire Chronicles page and an Author Page. In the end I went for an Author page, figuring that it would be all encompassing should I ever write more books (Which I plan to). Pop in some money, assign a target demographic, and off you go. Was this effective in getting me sales? Probably only a bare few. But it DID get me a much wider target base. Before the ad, I had roughly 20 ‘likes’ on my page. My ad has been running since Thanksgiving, and I’m up to about 55 or so. That seems pretty good to me. And they are people I don’t know! Even better! You have to go into this realizing that you aren’t out to make sales now, more so to build community involvement and interest.

Other advertising service: $-$$$ (three-four stars)

Bookbub and several other advertising services for self-published authors have sprung up like weeds around the proverbial well of writing. In many cases, the services can be overpriced or poorly targeted. Some specific ones are useful, but require that you discount your book in order to purchase an ad slot, and even then they can deny you. So if you’re looking for a specific time to do an advertisement, you’d be out of luck, as I was when I wanted to run Black Friday ads. However, in retrospect I’m sort of glad I didn’t spend $200 on the advertisement. I’m not sure I would have made it back.

Some other information: When I published with Wix, I got $30 free at Google Adwords and $50 free on Facebook for advertisements. Thus, I’ve only paid about $75 (out of my pocket) in advertisement costs total since my book was published. 2/3 of that was to Google. So as you can see, lots of choices, but be careful where you put your money!

Where do you guys advertise that makes the greatest bang for your buck? Or do you eschew advertisements altogether?


Brass Legionnaire going on Sale for the Thanksgiving Weekend!

Brass Legionnaire is going on sale for this holiday weekend. I’m offering my novel at 50% off for one weekend only. Check inside for more information!

Hi everyone! Big News!

Brass Legionnaire will be on sale this holiday weekend! If you haven’t had the chance to read the five-star reviewed alternative history & steampunk novel, now’s your chance to get this exciting adventure novel for half price!


Thursday, November 22nd – Monday, November 26th (Cyber Monday)


This amazing, one time half-off deal will be available only on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as Apple iPad, Kobo, etc through Smashwords.

For Smashwords, you’ll need this coupon code – UT37C

UT37C – You’ll need this for Smashwords!

Don’t forget to share this with your friends!


I know you wonder, why should you purchase my novel? – I’ll let the reviews speak for themselves.

I thought this was a great debut novel that gives much promise for the Author’s writing career. It’s fresh, never been done before, and one of those intriguing books one just has to read because it’s such an interesting twist on the norm.

Brass Legionnaire has a great premise as being the only novel that mixes steampunk with the Romans and, though I never would have thought of that myself, it really works well in this alternate universe that Daniel Ottalini created in this novel. You get the feel of the traditional Romans, and yet there’s a more modern and really awesome steampunk twist to it. All the gadgets and machines were neat and fit in well with the Romans, making it seem that this story could have actually happened in some alternate reality.”

– Hazel West – Five Star Review

Or this one!

The author has produced a really nice piece of “alternate history” fiction, with engaging characters and an interesting plot line. This could (and I hope will) serve as the basis for a whole series of novels. On the strength of this work, I would certainly purchase the next installment.

-SEB – Five Star Review

If you want even more reviews, check out the reviews on Amazon!

Brass Legionnaire is the perfect gift (paperback or ebook) for the Steampunk lover, book reader, or History buff in your family!

Blurb for Copper Centurion!

Here’s the blurb for the next Steam Empire Chronicles novel, Copper Centurion, coming Spring, 2013. Enjoy!

Hi All,
Just wanted to share the blurb for Copper Centurion, the latest book in the Steam Empire Chronicles, coming early 2013!

In Brass Legionnaire, new recruit Julius Brutus Caesar and his royal commanding officer Constantine Appius fought to save the city of Brittenburg from total devastation. Now, in Copper Centurion, Rome looks to avenge the actions of the Nortlanders and invades the north. But saddled with political oversight, inept leadership and a resourcefully cunning enemy, the expedition walks a fine line between glory and destruction. With their technology failing, it will be down to swords and shields in the next novel of the Steam Empire Chronicles, Copper Centurion.

Let me know what you all think! (Strike through indicates edits!)

Is Amazon Select Right for You?

I return to take a closer look at Amazon’s KDP Select service and discuss whether or not you think it’s right for you.

Hi all,
Sorry for the long absence, but my life has been absolutely crazy the last couple of weeks. Moving houses, preparing for school, doing grad school work, setting up new house, first week of school, etc. Anyways, I back with my hopefully-weekly-blog-posting. This week I’d like to talk about Amazon Select. For those of you who don’t know, Amazon Select is a service run through Amazon’s KDP Digital publishing platform. Essentially, the gist is that if you sign up for this service, you have the ability to offer your novel(s) at no cost for five days. It also places your book in a ‘lending library’ where people can borrow your novel and read it. The more people who borrow your novels, the more money you get. Amazon has established a fund this month of $600,000 to pay KDP Select members.

Sounds pretty good, right? I mean people pay to borrow your book. There’s some math involved (See below) but the gist is that the more borrows your book gets, the more money you make.

For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000, the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000, and your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn 1.5% (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 for that month.

So what’s the catch? Several in fact. First, your novel must be exclusive on Amazon KDP for 90 days. Three months of not being able to sell it digitally on any other site. Now you’re still free to sell it physically – i.e. paperback wise – through other sites, but lets be real here. If you write eBooks and you are not a multi-thousand copy seller, you probably aren’t selling more than perhaps a dozen hardcovers a month, give or take. You’re limited by the five free days, and with Amazon adjusting their rankings to eliminate free ‘purchases’ so that they won’t count towards the sales ranking, I’m not sure how effective this is. Sure, your book is free, but it isn’t boosting your ratings and isn’t really getting you much. If you’re using it as a loss-leader for a series, it would make more sense, but perhaps not so for a person like myself with just one book.

Of course, I’m not exactly selling tons of novels through Barnes and Noble or Smashwords and sell the majority if my books through Amazon. So I could try it out, and may be tempted to if I ever write a short story companion to Brass Legionnaire. That could be a great way to bring in new readers with the style of short fiction that is so popular right now.

So to sum up, Select is something that I’m not considering using now. I may consider doing it down the road with a companion novel to drive up interest in my Steam Empire Chronicles, but until then, I’ll stick to the sidelines. I’d be interested to see if B&N rolls out something similar to compete, perhaps offering a more impressive rate amount or additional free days.

That’s all folks, time to get back to writing Copper Centurion. I leave you with a lovely quote by your favorite rabble-rousing assassin, spy, and rebel, Corbus.

“Have it your way, Brittenburgian,” Julius’ eyebrows rose. “Ah yes, see I placed your accent. I have a special place in my heart for that corrupt, disgusting, pestilent city.” Corbus sneered wickedly. He socked the legionnaire again, and the man collapsed back to the ground.

“Send a message to the Duke, we’ve got a prisoner.”


How to respond to Reviews (positive or negative)

Brass Legionnaire gets a Five-Star Review, and how to deal with Reviews as an Author.

I’ve heard it been said before that self-published authors are a picky lot.

Who, us?

Actually, I agree. One of the downsides of being a writer/publisher is that you become so connected with your book that is is like a child. You are the one who put in love and effort and pushed it to grow and mature. You also scrapped up the funds to get it edited, revised, and probably some nice cover art or formatting along the way.

And heaven forbid someone dis your child. It’s like that annoying parent at the soccer game who is yelling at your kid because they just aren’t quite as fast as theirs, as good as theirs, or as big as theirs. Or perhaps, they’re making snide comments because your child is better, and they are jealous.

Either way – child or book – we get insulted. If you have to hop through a million hoops with a publisher – editor, cover art, everything else more outside of your direct control – You might not feel as protective about your novel.

Today, I’m exceptionally excited because Brass Legionnaire got a five star review from a reader. Now what should I do as the writer? I could go several routes. Since it is a positive review, I’m probably more likely to respond in a positive way. The review also included some constructive feedback – something the reader would like to see more of in Copper Centurion (ie book two).

I’m not going to respond on the posting because that’s not my place to respond. Could I? Yes, but I won’t (not because I don’t want to) but because I feel as though I don’t need to be such a micromanager.

But I’ll tell you what I will do. I’ll listen to the constructive criticism. The reviewer thought I should have more camaraderie between the troops. And you know what? I should!

Any author should be able to look at reviews with an objective eye. The key thing is to take a deep breathe and back off. Not everyone will find your novel their piece of cake. That’s a fact of life. There will always be someone out there who will be spiteful or angry or mad over small things. You can’t control that. What you can do is avoid petty fights and maintain your reputation as an author. If you become known as an author who takes feedback and criticism (with a grain of salt) with grace and a willingness to at least THINK about it, then you become someone who people want to work with or talk with or learn from.

So long story short, keep the reviewer’s wishes in mind, but the story is yours in the end. If they point our typos or errors or problems with formatting or editing, get it fixed! If its a story content thing, make sure you have beta readers.

No one likes a prickly porcupine, so don’t be one!

Learning from My Self-Publishing Experience in Five Steps: Part 2

Learn from my Self-Publishing Experience: Part 2 – Advance Reader Copies and Promotional Opportunities!

Hi all, and welcome to part two of my self-publishing experience post.

It’s a busy time of year here in the mid-Atlantic. School is ending and all the stuff that goes with that is being thrown together in a hurry! I’m moving rooms, moving houses, and have to balance all that with grad school and writing. Whew! When do I find time to sleep?

Here’s a quick review of the earlier post

1.) Create an online presence in advance, not when just publishing.

2.) Get some beta readers and have your book read before an editor looks at it.

3.) Make a publishing plan and stick to it. Do your work in advance so you won’t have to do it on the fly.

Here are steps Four and Five.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

4.Send out Advance Book Copies – So you’ve published your novel, but no one knows it exists. And no one is willing to risk their money on an unrated novel. It’s easy to spot friend and family reviews, so what’s an author to do? The answer: Advanced Reader Copies. Grab some people you know, but aren’t your closest friends, and ask them to take a look at your book. If you’ve already done step 1 and 2, then you probably have some people who you trust to review your book fairly and honestly. Notice I didn’t say POSITIVE. A book with a ton of five-star reviews the second it comes out may arouse suspicion, and can garner angry reviews from readers who buy it based on those reviews but find it horrible. On the other hand, a book with a mixture will most likely elicit people’s interest and will garner more honest feedback. People don’t like buying an unknown quantity, and especially don’t like getting duped. But with a few reviews, more people will be willing to try it, even if it’s a three and a half star book.

Now you can purchase book reviews through Kirkus and other websites, but it’s far cheaper and more beneficial to you to utilize your readers. A handy thing to toss in at the end of your book is a nice ‘If you liked the book, please review it online” comment. It can’t hurt, and certainly can help, even if you just get one person to review out of 10, if you sell 100 books that could be ten positive reviews! That’s a nice amount to show up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Also, don’t forget that you can take snippets of reviews and put them on your blurb or other places, like your website – especially if they are from a more recognized reviewer. Just be sure to credit where the review came from.

5. Promote, but don’t be obnoxious – So you’ve got your twitter and Facebook and goodreads account and everything is going well. Are you posting a million messages a day about your book? Hopefully not! That’s annoying and is called spam. But I know none of you would ever spam… right? It can drive your followers away if all they get are messages about your book. Be different! Write about your life and what’s happening. Limit yourself a few posts a day. Be sure to use your hashtags effectively too.

I’m not saying to never talk about your book, I’m just saying use common sense. It shouldn’t be the only thing happening in your life! Here’s a list of some other ways to get people to try your novel.

1.) Write a short story or two about your world and make it free (or $0.99) on all marketplaces. People can decide if they like your writing style. For example, I’m in the midst of something called ‘The Traitor’ about the non-assassination of Julius Caesar. Maybe it will bring in some readers. Maybe it will reward twitter and Facebook and blog followers.

2.) Use your online presence to team up with other indie authors for cross-promotion and similar things. Especially around the holidays (and right after!) deals and networking can really pay off!

Anyways, I hoped that helped. What do you all think about what I learned? I’m sure I missed a ton of other things, which I’m sure I’ll have to write about in the future!

Getting the Most from Social Media

Use social media to get the most out of your book release.

Brass Legionnaire drops this May! Check out the website at

Greetings all!

It’s been a busy week. As a teacher, this time of year is always hectic with the myriad of responsibilities and in-school required activities that fight with your goal of teaching as much as possible until the end of the school year. Roughly 25 days give or take, but who is counting?! Anyways, onwards and upwards!

On the book front, I received the preliminary formatting for Brass Legionnaire and

noticed they forgot to put in a ‘social media’ page. This is a great addition Must Have for any ebook. It is especially important that you put it right at the end of the book. Why do you ask? Well, after you’ve poured all that time and effort into writing such a engaging, interesting, and thought provoking book, don’t you want people to simply read and forget now, do you? Provide a handy page with all of your social media information – FacebookTwitterGoodreads – (Anything else!?) plus the locations of your website/blog if the same or different.

Image representing MailChimp as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Some authors use a subscription based service such as MailChimp to get readers as well. As I’ve also got a subscription component of the blog, I’m not sure if that’s quite what I want to do yet, but I’m probably going to set one up before the book drops.

Speaking of that, have you been promoting your book? Have you released a sample chapter of your story (Check out mine – you won’t be disappointed!) and started tweeting, facebooking, and generally talking up your book? This is the hardest for me. I’m someone who is generally talkative, but I feel almost embarrassed explaining the backstory of my novel. It’s not that I’m embarrassed by the book or the writing or the content, but rather that I don’t want it to sound boring, nor too wild, for the average person who asks me (That and the people who ask about it at work aren’t my book’s target audience!)

Another point – pick your audience and figure out how to reach them. I’ve got some free vouchers for use in google adsense and on facebook for my book, so I’ll look around for the groups and ages that are in my target range – young adults, 16-30, as well as older sci-fi and alternate history fans, and target the ads there. I’ll also look at fans of authors who write alternative history novels or steampunk novels, such as Harry Turtledove, S.M. Stirling, Cherie Priest, and others, whose audiences are similar to mine.

Finally, scope out some book blogs that may be willing to feature your book or review it pre-release. It takes some time for book reviews to happen, so doing this when your book is finished, but just awaiting minor things – formatting, cover art, etc – lets their reviews match your release date. You can also set up a discussion board at goodreads to give away a book or two for promotional purposes/review getting purposes!

Brass Legionnaire drops this May, 2012. Check out the book website for more information at

%d bloggers like this: