Friday, December 30, 2011

A Resolution to Accept Imperfection

Another year is coming up and we all know that resolutions will be made to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, be kinder, spend more time with kids, and a ton of others.  Some people will even manage to keep the resolutions going for months.  Others?  Within a week or two the resolution is forgotten about.

I remember one year that I resolved to lose weight. I lost 60 pounds.  Then I got a very stressful job and gained it all back.  I sat on my ass 8 hours a day selling electronic advertising.  By the end of the day I was so mentally exhausted I just could not drive myself to exercise.  An excuse?  Maybe.  Or maybe my body and mind just needed to rest.

For this indie author 2012 is going to be the year that I learn to forgive myself.  I vow to no longer expect perfection from the time I wake up...going from one task on a list to another and always feeling like I am coming up short because there are so many tasks still left to compete.  All of a sudden the day is over, the week is over...the months are over.  And although I accomplished a lot of things I have found that I was strangely not present.  I was too busy "doing" to enjoy just "being".
I am going to just "be" this upcoming year.  Yes, I will accomplish goals.  I am a goal oriented person.  But the time frames for completion will be less strident.  If I decide to spend the day in the woods, or at the zoo, I am NOT going to feel guilty.  In other words, I am going to simply live to live.

If I don't lose weight without it being a struggle, perhaps I don't want to that badly.  If I don't push myself to do exercise every damn day, or even most of them, perhaps it is because my muscles ache.  I am tired to hearing how exercise is supposed to help that.  It doesn't.  It makes it worse.  Even yoga sometimes.  So, excuse me, but I am going to love myself.  When I feel that I would enjoy hiking or yoga, I will do it.  When I want a nap, I will nap instead.

Perhaps it is age.  I remember one person telling me that getting older was in a way a relief because your expectations are lower.  I find that is true for me.
I am going to enjoy some desserts and I am going to enjoy some salads.  I am going to sleep later when I wish.  And take a nap if I wish.

If our house is dirty, we may clean it.  Or, we may instead decide to go play.  I fell in love with my husband because I enjoy him, not because he can clean a bathroom well.  If our house bothers people, they can stop coming over.  We will never be pigs, but at times you will see dust.  I will admit we are NOT messy, but can be dirty.  It is our dirt.  If you come over I will have a clean bathroom, but the other rooms may be dusty.  Get over it or find new friends.

I am going to write more novels because I enjoy it, not because a time frame is glaring at me.  I am going to paint more because it is who I am, not because perhaps someone will discover me. Some people will love my books and my art.  Some will hate it.  That's cool.  I will love my books and art regardless. Anything that causes emotion (and my work tends to do that) results in strong reaction.

I have finally realized that I am fabulous just as I am.  Not perfect, but just fine.  The soul in this body has waiting for acceptance for 56 years.  I accept her now.  Welcome, self, to 2012...the year of self love and acceptance.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

To Kindle Select or Not to Kindle Select, That is the Question

Indie Authors have a big decision to make.

Amazon has changed the game and may be planning on taking over the publishing world.  Around mid December they started offering authors Kindle Select.  If you join, you get to be part of their loaning program and get part of the revenue shared by authors whose books are loaned to Prime members.  Prime members can borrow one book a month.

You can also offer your book free for 5 days during 90 days.  Doing so often pushes your book into the top 100 lists for the genres it is listed in and makes it appear also a "also bought" for people.  This means you may sell a whole lot more for awhile after the free days.

Not to mention that books in the Select program will probably be promoted more heavily to Prime customers.  Sounds great, right?

Well...not so much.  In order to do that, you have to go exclusively with Amazon for at least 90 days.  That means you can't sell your book on B&N for NOOK, Apple, any other book sites or even your own website.  You must have your book removed from all of those sources and only be available on Amazon.  If you stay with Select after the 90 days you must stay exclusive to Amazon.
That means you lose your reviews on those other sites.  It means those customers can no longer buy your book.  For some authors, that does not seem like a big deal.  The majority of sales come from Amazon for most anyway.

But think about it for a minute.  Doesn't that take the "indie" out of indie author?  Telling someone where they can and cannot sell their book is not exactly independent. Also, traditionally published authors don't have to play by the same rules.  They are not required to be exclusive, at least from what I understand.  If I am wrong, I hope someone corrects me.  How is that fair?

Also, if a Prime member can only "borrow" one book a month, how many times will that be an indie book?  Indie books are significantly less money.  Why would they use their one borrow for a $2.99 or .99 book when they can use it for a $10.00 or more?  Really, the money an indie will make from the loaning program won't be much.

What if Amazon pushes hard enough that almost all indies are exclusive with them?  Can't they then change the game again...and offer them a lot less profit per book?  Where are they going to go unless they start over, building reviews, etc on other sites?
I don't know.  This seems like a stranger offering me candy on a street corner.  On the other hand, other authors are jumping in and seeing a huge increase in visibility because of days their book is free.  It remains to be seen how that free turns into future sales...but it is looking promising.

So far, I have decided not to abandon my Nook users.  But they are a tough sell.  If things don't improve with Nook users and my sales, I may be tempted.  I have not published with Apple yet, but planned to.  Now this Kindle Select comes along. Still, it just feels wrong in my gut...and my gut seldom lies.

It would be easier to try it if I wrote stand alone books.  Right now I am in the middle of a series.  It does not make sense to put just one of two in a series on there only on Amazon...or does it? What about when book 3 comes out?  Should I make book 1 exclusive then, thinking that it has been out long enough on other sites already?  Decisions, decisions.

Yeah, it feels crappy, like a potentially bad situation in the future. I have been wrong before and could be again.  This is really a hard decision.  A decision every indie author will be facing with every book published. Tomorrow I may wake up and think "what the hell" and try it.  Or I may continue as is, truly indie and loving it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Most Important Gift You Will Ever Open

 I am an indie author/publisher. I can say that because of a gift that I finally “got”; one that we all have, but usually don’t open. Curious? Good!

In 2010 I went for my annual physical. The routine blood tests all came back normal like usual, and I went on with my day. There was a gift waiting for me, one that had been there since I was born; but once again I failed to open it.

Then, my phone rang. I needed to come back in because my mammogram had something suspicious on it. After another mammogram and biopsy, I got another call. The call that finally got me to open my eyes…the call that finally got me to open the gift.

I had breast cancer. I could go on and on about my feelings, my fears, the surgery, the radiation, the healing; but that is not what this blog is about. This blog is about what getting cancer forces you to do. It forces you to finally open your eyes and see the gift that has been waiting for you from the moment you were born.

t is the gift of “now”.

I finally understood that anything that I wanted to accomplish in my life should not be put on a back burner for “someday”. ‘Someday’ is not guaranteed. We all run out of “someday” sooner or later. But I did (and do) have “now”. Nothing brings this home to us like the threat of no longer existing.

And so, once I was done with all of the radiation, I committed to writing five days a week, at least an hour a day. No matter what. Why? Because “now” is all I had; all any of us have.

I had always wants to write a novel. Had started a couple but never finished. This time, I knew that if I wanted it to happen, it was up to me to make sure that nothing stopped me.  Not even "someday".

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream was born from that. I self published for many reasons. I did not even try to go the traditional route. I wanted freedom. I did not want to wait (remember “now”?). I wanted to control my own destiny in regard to my writing. It came out for Kindle and Nook on August 1, 2011. Paperback arrived shortly after.

Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny released the week of December 13th for Kindle and NOOK.  I am waiting for the paperback proof. I may never see the kind of success that Amanda Hocking, did...but if one Minnesota gal can do it, why not two?

I am not going to use this blog to talk about the saga/romance series of Gastien. You will find links above if you want more information. I simply want to share the gift of “now”.

I could never have imagined how exciting it would be to hold my own book in my hands! It is a feeling that I am glad I got to experience. Cancer did that for me. I had always heard there were blessings to cancer, but thought it was b.s. Not so. The gift of “now” is the greatest gift there is…and it is free and available to all of us.

The cancer is gone. It was caught very early and my doctor says to plan on eventually dying from something else. Yes, of course. No one gets out of here alive. That is why I am moving right into the third book in the Gastien series, but first taking time to make love to the color for a week (as Gastien called painting). It is time. Now!

I hope this each one of you reading this will accept the gift that has always sat there, waiting for you to open it. I can’t give it to you. Only you can. It is your gift of “now”.

Open it. Please.                       

Monday, December 26, 2011

Brown Christmas Is Perfect, Thank You.

I am pleased to say that this year in Minnesota we had a brown Christmas.  At least in my part of the state.  I do believe they have snow in Northern Minnesota.  Am I disappointed?  Hell no!

There is nothing enjoyable about scraping ice from windshields after going out to eat, shop or anything else you might need to venture out for.  I don't enjoy shoveling mounds of frozen white stuff off the drive and walks...and my husband doesn't either.

It gets tiresome slipping and sliding all over the streets...or seeing an inch of salt eating away at your car.  Neither cars nor people are made for ice.

Bah, humbug regarding ice skating, snowmobiling, skiing or ice fishing.  Sorry.  I don't enjoy freezing my ass off staring down a hole in the lake on the off chance that some poor fish might decide to strike.  That is what supermarkets are for.
Snowmobiling?  Seems to me the only reason people do that is to go from one bar to another and drink.  Dangerous and cold.  No thanks.  A bottle of cab in my warm house works better.  Especially considering I probably won't kill myself or others making my way from one room to another.  (Depending, of course, upon how many bottles are consumed.)

No, give me a pool and a frozen cocktail over a ice rink and hot chocolate any day.  Slipping into flip flops to leave the house is much nicer than putting on layers, a coat, a hat, gloves, boots...and then standing in melted snow in stocking feet when you take off the boots later.
Why do I stay?  I love a Minnesota man.  He wants to stay because family is here.  I stay because he gives so much to me that I need to let him claim victory in a few things.  This is one of them.  So far. 

So, brown Christmas?  I was sure hoping so.  My wish was granted.  We may not even have snow before New Year's!  That will make this frozen hell they call Minnesota much more endurable.  It really is a beautiful place to live most of the year. If you manage to shorten the four to five months of winter we usually get down to three you may even get me to say it is the best place to live in the country.

Just to celebrate I think I will go out and make a leaf angel. Or would that be tempting fate by rubbing it's nose in all things not winter?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Post by 8 Year Old Kaylee-Future Author

I was very excited to hear from a nephews partner that her daughter loves to write and wants to be an author.  Perhaps like most new authors now, she will become an indie author! It is always nice to know that there will be people who love to do what I do.  Kaylee is 8 years old and is a charming little girl.  Please welcome Kaylee Rae Curtis!



Christmas Traditions 
By Kaylee Rae Curtis
Every year for Christmas we set up the tree and we always have a lot of ornaments! My favorite ornament is my princess ornament. She has a fancy dress and ribbon and a bow.
Another thing we do is cookies. We always make Christmas tree cookies. Last year we made about 100. We had so many that we had to throw them away! But they were still good!
Another thing we do is we always go shopping for people who are nice to other people. Once mom got me Pillow Pets. And we always go to parties. Like the one was the Rowland party. THE ROWLANDS ARE SO LOUD!!! We played a dice game and ate a lot of food. And my favorite food was the sloppy joes, rice krispy bars and the fruit punch.
And another thing we do is that we go to our Grammie & Bumpa's house. Grammie and Bumpa are our grandma and grandpa. Every year we go there and we see Santa, and we eat a Christmas dinner, and then we get presents and we play with our toys.
And another thing we do is we always get emails from Santa, he tells us how old we are, he tells us if we are on the nice list or the naughty list. And last but not least, we always open our presents in the morning.
******
Steven Ain't Believin'
By Kaylee Rae Curtis
Once upon a time there was a boy named Steven. He loved to play, but the person he did not like was Santa!
One day he was playing with his friends and his friends asked him, "Do you believe in Santa?"
He said,  "No. Your parents are Santa."
"Do you believe in the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, or anybody?"
He said, "NO!" 
So one day his friends were thinking of a plan for him to think that Santa is real. So they sent a letter to Santa saying...
"Dear Santa,
I know Steven has been a naughty little boy, but can you please come to his house cause he thinks your not real!"
Love, Tommy & Jake
So on Christmas night Steven was thirsty, so he went down tot get a bottle of water and when he came up he....saw Santa!
He pulled his beard - it did not come off.
He said, "I'm going outside." - and he saw Santa's reindeer! 
He said, "You're real, you're real!" 
So Steven gave Santa a big hug and went back to sleep.
***

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I Got For Christmas (Christmas Alone)

We are celebrating Christmas alone this year.  It is not the first time, nor will it be the last.  We did not decorate or put up a tree.  We have only exchanged gifts with each other three times in almost forty years.  We have always bought what we wanted during the year.  The times we bought gifts, most of them were exchanged for something else or put on a garage sale a few years later.

People want to feel sorry for us when they find out we "aren't doing anything" for Christmas.  They assume we must be depressed or Grinch's because we have not decorated (it has been a couple years since we have).

Not so. We are perfectly happy and we have Christmas spirit inside.  We just don't feel like getting out a bunch of "stuff" and then having to put that "stuff" away to get out the regular "stuff".  We are extremely busy and that is one chore we have eliminated that last couple of years.

Oh, we will decorate again.  Now that we have Gideon in our life we know the importance of making Christmas magical for him.  Once he is old enough he will want to see decorations when he comes over to Grandma and Grandpa Rowland's house and that is just fine.  Right know we just need a break.
As far as being alone, we treasure that time together.  We don't always want to be alone on Christmas. But, when we are, it is a time to just enjoy the person we love the most.  There is no pressure to be anywhere (most everything is closed).  We can stay up as late as we want, sleep as late as we want and don't have a long drive.  We don't have to clean like maniacs for company.  We can eat whatever we damn please.  We can even make love on the kitchen table if we want, because Santa ain't coming down our chimney! Yeah, people in their 50's (and later!) have sex.  Damn good sex.  Get over it. You can only hope you are that lucky when you are older.
Gifts?  I got mine early this year.  Gideon arrived next door on August 20th.  I have already blogged about our love for him.  We are now "grandparents" and I treasure every moment with him.  What better gift is there than new life that I am not responsible for 24 hours a day? We are childless by choice and grandparents by choice.  Those choices have proved perfect for us.

I also received the gift of "no cancer" in regard to the biopsy I had this fall.  When you have had cancer once that is an even bigger gift!

I got two books out this year, my first two.  It is quite a gift to hold a book in your hand that has your name as author.  The Gastien series is alive and well. I love being an indie author!

It looks like Christmas won't be white here and we both consider that a gift.  It makes the Minnesota winter a but shorter.
Lastly, I am going to be "making love to the color" (as Gastien called painting) from now until January 2nd.  No writing. Just a little promotion of my books and lots of paint and canvas.  Yeah baby!  Like Gastien, that is why I am here.  That and the writing.

I found out that my nephews 8 year old daughter wants to be an author.  She writes things and asks her mom to send them to publishers, so I am going to turn this blog over to her tomorrow.  You will be hearing from Kaylee tomorrow with some Christmas thoughts.  It would be nice if she got some comments to encourage her.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year or just plain old have a great life...depending on your belief.  I am off to make love...to the color!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Really, Redneck? No Fat Chicks?

Ok, I am going to warn you right at the start: I am feelin' snarky today.  Not gonna apologize, either.  I am not sorry...but at least I am honest.  Yup. Today this indie author is one snarky gal.

Ever notice those decals some males have on cars that say "No Fat Chicks"? They have been around now for years, all kinds of them.  What has amazed me all of those years is how the guy looks when he gets out of his truck (cuz you can bet he is drivin' a truck.  No question.  Hands down.).


One would think that in order to be choosy about a potential mates looks, that person wold have some looks himself.  I have yet to see a good lookin' guy with the No Fat Chicks decal.  I am not saying some good looking guys don't want to date fat girls.  I am just saying that those who feel it is their right to advertise their extremely discriminating "good" taste seem to seldom look in a mirror.
Every single one of these guys that I have seen sport at least one of the following: beer gut, teeth missing, acne, balding, greasy hair, unkempt clothing, t-shirts advertising beer or NASCAR or heavy metal (and not washed in decades), or they are spitting snuff. 

Damn!  Let me tell you, fat girls across the country breathe a sigh of relief when they see that decal.  One less ahole to worry about in their life.  The day suddenly seems a bit brighter.
Hey, redneck, here is a newsflash for ya: You would need to tie a T-bone to your trousers to even get a bulldog to sniff you.  No need to worry about a fat girl.  You think you deserve a fashion model?  Well, I used to look like one when I was younger.  Let me tell ya, you would not have had a chance in a million years.  And guess what?  Now that I am 56 and have a big ass, you still would not stand a chance in a million years.  So dream on, darling.  All men want the pin up girl.  Most, though, don't look like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp so perhaps they need to get over themselves a wee bit.

Gals, I think it is time that we get a few decals for our cars.  How about "No Missing Teeth?" or "No Hairy Ass Crack Sticking Out Of Jeans?"  or maybe
"No Rednecks With IQ of 20?"
Sorry, guys.  The funny thing is, most rednecks don't even know they are.  I am going to end this with my favorite song. 

"If you're redneck but don't know it, clap your hands!
If you're redneck but don't know it, clap your hands!
If you're redneck but don't know it, well don't worry
You sure show it!
If you're redneck but don't know it, clap your hands!"

Later.  Gotta go thank my lucky stars that Joe Redneck down the street is not attracted to me.  Damn.  I have always fantasized about how his big gut must bounce when he's doing the "wild thang". Be still my heart!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Two Computers, Two Work Emails, One Brain!

My head is once again ready to explode!  Ain't technology grand?  Yeah, it is...but sometimes I swear one brain is no longer enough if you engage in the myriad of technology available.
I have a pc that I wrote my first two books on as an indie author.  Then, last spring I bought a laptop so that I could edit and write outside during the spring and summer.  Trust me, in Minnesota you want to soak up every nice day in preparation for 4 months or more of cold!

The only problem is I am constantly needing to back up and transfer or else I don't have what I need at whatever computer I am working on!  Yesterday I tried to get a bit more organized by moving more files to my laptop.  I hope to eventually use that exclusively.  Once this pc fails I won't replace it because I love my laptop; however, I do like the 24 inch monitor of my pc.  It is easier to read.  So I find myself here blogging and other things.
Don't even start about email addresses.  I have so many that I don't remember some of them!  My original one was so full of spam I put box trapper on it...and now many people are rejected even if I set up filters.  So, that one if just for some friends and family that are lucky enough for the damn filter to accept them! That filter is much more choosy about friends than I am.

Then I started one for my art and for other friends, etc.  That was great, and I started requesting book reviews etc from it.  All of a sudden I realized that it would be easier to have one email address for all things "author" related.  Great.  Except some promotions and reviews are stored in files under the art one.  Sigh.

I find myself going back and forth, usually screwing up what I send.  Misty gets the .pdf and Katie gets the .mobi...and then I realize it should have been the other way around...well, you get the picture!

Dear me.  Then there are all my "favorites" or "bookmarks" on my pc from when I wrote the first two books in my series.  Except now I write on my laptop.  So I need to look up each of those for the laptop...my head is so mixed up I can't think straight.

You know what?  I have only one place where my favorite Cabernet sits waiting.  That is not at all stressful or confusing.  I think maybe it is time to go say hello to Louis M. Martini.  He and I seem to frequently see eye to eye...or should I say mouth to bottle?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At Long Last, Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny

I usually blog about other things instead of specifically dedicating a blog to my books.  However, today I am just so happy that I am going to promote myself.  Please forgive me while I do a celebration dance!


Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny is now available on Kindle and NOOK!  I will be formatting for paperback and that should come out in January.  This picks up where Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream leaves off.  It is the romance my fans have been waiting for.

This is NOT a typical female romance.  It is definitely still a story for men as well as women!  This book shows that "being in love is wonderful, but true love refuses to be confined by any boundaries."  Gastien is a true nonconformist, yet he finds himself loved in spire of his terms.

Don't forget Gastien's fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/Gastien.Beauchamp

Now, off to formatting the paperback.  :)  Then I need to get this to reviewers/bloggers and do some other updating of profiles.  After that, I am going to take a couple weeks around the holidays to "make love to the color" as Gastien and I refer to painting.  My hand is itching to hold a brush again.

The second week of January I will start writing more of book 3 in The Gastien Series.  Of course, I will still be blogging during my painting time.  Did you think you could shut me up that long?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sometimes Nice Things Happen For No Reason


We had something really nice happen to us this last weekend.  Isn't it fun when something cool happens to you for no reason other than serendipity?

All day Saturday my husband was busy "mouse proofing" our house.  (If you remember, I blogged about finding evidence of a visitor about a week ago).  I spent the day cleaning the house.  Not one of my favorite chores, but it sure is nice to have a clean house once it is done.

We decided to go to Famous Dave's for dinner.  We love Famous Dave's.  We usually go about once a week and get the ribs on the Early Bird Special.  It is just the right amount of food at a very reasonable price.


Famous Dave's has been running a promotion where you get a scratch off ticket with your bill.  You bring in the ticket the next time and scratch it off to see what you won.  Most prizes are free appetizers or desserts.  We seldom order either. My husband is not a dessert fan, I am too much of one.  Appetizers are great...if you want to ruin your appetite for your entree!

About a week ago we scratched ours off and to our surprise, we won a free entree!  That was very nice.  On Saturday I almost forgot that we had a scratch off.  Remembering, I dug it out and scratched while the server watched.  It was kind of dark in there (yeah, ok...I need reading glasses...get over it!) so I could not quite make out.  "Something about 2nd and All American" I said.

The waitress grabbed it and lit up.  "Oh!  You just won the All American!  That is only the 2nd time that has happened here.  It is a very nice prize...our $58 All American Feast!"  Huh???? Wow!  It came and we could not stop laughing at all of the food.  It is really for four.  Honestly, it should be for six. It is so large it comes on a garbage can lid!

We got 12 ribs, brisket, a WHOLE chicken, 4 corn muffins, enough fries for 8 people, a ton of coleslaw (they have the BEST), Wilber beans, and their chips instead of corn on the cob!  Needless to say, we could not eat even half of it.

This was perfect because we had not found time to get groceries that day. We now had 2 more meals to take home.  Last night we had the chicken, etc.  Tonight the ribs and brisket that was left over.  These "leftovers" are full meals.

We made sure to thank the manager and we also made sure to tip the servers as if we had paid for it.  (For those of you who use 2 for 1 coupons, you are supposed to tip on the full amount, not on one entree.  The server should not be punished for your savings.).

Walking out, I commented to Dave that we needed to remember that even though bad or irritating things happen all of the time (remember the mice?), good things happen for no reason, too. And what a nice surprise it is whenever that happens!

Thank you Famous Dave's.  That was very cool!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fa la la lala la la Formatting gets easier!

As an indie publisher, I do my own formatting for e-book and for paperback. I started the formatting for paperback yesterday afternoon for Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny.  I have to say that it is going much smoother for the second book!  The first book (which was the first time I had tried to do any of this type of thing) was tough.  Some days I wanted to open a bottle of cab by 10am.  Other days, I wanted to throw a bottle of cab against my computer screen.

I am sure I will run into a few little glitches, but it is nice to see (at least so far) that this formatting gets easier once you have a little experience under the belt.

As far as formatting for kindle and nook, I have that ready to go.  That is now second nature to me (now watch the file get rejected when I decide to submit...).  I want to wait until further into December to submit, as I want to be a new release for a few weeks after people open their gifts and get those new kindles!
I thought those of you who are getting ready to self publish your first novel, and those of you holding back because of formatting fear, would like to know that it does indeed get easier after the first time.  Make sure you ask questions in the communities for the formatting you are working on.  More importantly, bookmark the answers!  You will need those the next time!
I copied the answers to my questions on a word.doc since there were various bookmarks from different days questions.  I now have that word.doc up and available on my laptop for referral as I work on the paperback formatting.

Formatting for paperback has different requirements than for e-books, so you need to go slow and be careful.  Always, ALWAYS keep a copy of your finished manuscript separate from the one you are formatting.  That way, if you really mess up you have not lost your work.

Time to get back at it.  I want to make sure that I have done everything possible to assure my readers a quality book!
Kindle Direct Publishing community board: http://forums.kindledirectpublishing.com/kdpforums/index.jspa

Createspace (print on demand paperback) community board: https://www.createspace.com/en/community/index.jspa

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Spirit? Or Same Old Rudeness?

I have noticed something sad lately while I am out at the various stores and running errands.  For a season that is supposed to be so jolly, people sure are anything but.

Hey, I know a lot of us are unemployed.  I get that kind of stress.  But, for all of the talk people do about how they "love" Christmas and how they get the "real" meaning, they sure appear the opposite.

Too many people at the stores aren't smiling.  No, they are too busy yapping on their cellphones to even be in the present (no Christmas pun intended).  If not on their phones, they are bitching at their children or pushing others out of the way with their carts.  What happened to all of that holiday jolly?
In supermarkets, people are as rude as ever.  They barrel through the aisles, and you just better stop and let them through...even if you are already in the aisle they want into.  When did everyone decide they are the most important entity in the universe?  Is it really that hard to say "excuse me" or "I am sorry"?

Same in the parking lots.  People see that you are pulling out so they hurry to slam into gear and get out ahead of you.  Never mind if you are halfway out of your space.  You just damn well better wait for them to leave.  After all, they are far more important to you.  What happened to treating others with decency and respect?
No, I am sorry.  I just can't believe that those people "get" the meaning of Christmas.  Peace, love, and forgiveness don't jive with "get the hell out of my way, because I could care less about anyone but me".  We have become a nation of self centered, rude egotists.  No wonder other countries don't like us.  I don't like us much at times, either.

People, slow down a little.  Look into the eyes of other people out shopping and parking their cars.  If you really look, you will see another human being there.  What a surprise!  You aren't the only person in the world!

Let's all take a little inventory and start practicing what this season is supposed to teach us.  Love. Patience. Generosity. Forgiveness.
That also includes me.  I guess I need to practice that with all of the people that treat others poorly.  Hard as it may seem, they need love and forgiveness, too.

Ho Ho Ho.  Have a nice day!  And try to make it a nice day for others!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Christmas Mouse? No, thank you!

Yesterday my husband and I planned on having a totally relaxing day of watching TV and lounging on the sofa.  He had worked hard all week and was looking forward to watching the Vikings (yeah, he must like torture) and then some movies. I had stayed up until 4:30 am Thursday morning, working on some guest blogs and interviews that were due.  I got 3 hours sleep. The life of an indie writer/publisher.

Then I opened the silverware drawer and saw them.  Little "gifts" from what could only be a visiting Christmas mouse!  Oh, no!  Yuck!  Is there anything better at making you feel sick than seeing mouse droppings in your kitchen drawers or cupboards?  I opened the drawer next to it.  More gifts!
ALL of a sudden, the afternoon of pleasant idleness had evaporated.  Now we were facing the daunting task of removing every item from every cupboard, disinfecting the items and the drawers/cupboards, and setting peanut butter traps.  Do you have any idea just how much "stuff" one has for entertaining, etc after decades of adult life???

That was not all.  Once everything was cleaned, it could not be put back.  No.  Because the mouse (mice?) would be back.  So, we needed to put those items all over the house, keeping the drawers and cupboards bare except for the traps.  Sigh.

The good news?  All of our cupboards got cleaned.  Even better, only 2 drawers and 2 cupboards had any evidence at all of the visitor(s).  Thank God!  That meant he/she had only recently invaded us.  That also meant we only had the items from those 4 places to keep out while we plant our stealth killing devices.

I feel bad for them.  I really do.  Honestly, mice are quite cute.  I understand that they are looking for warmth and food, which all living things are entitled to.  However, they carry a lot of diseases!  So, cute or not, they are never welcome in our home.  Still, I can't set the traps.  That is Dave's job.  He will carry the blood of those murders on his hands, not me.  At least that is what I tell myself. 

Poor Christmas mouse.  He picked a bad home to invade.  No piece of cheese set on a plate for him on the eve of Christmas in this home.  Instead, he will have his neck snapped for pooping on our knives and forks. 

Ho ho ho.  Merry Christmas, Mr. Mouse.  :(

Friday, December 2, 2011

Indie Sex & Violence (Sometimes Rock 'n Roll)


Some indie authors/publishers feel the need to put a "warning" in their book blurb if their book has sex or violence in it.  I find that puzzling.  To me, it makes them look like they are not taking their authorship seriously.  Or maybe too seriously? 

It sounds like they are apologizing for writing the story how they felt it was best told.  Kind of like  "Oh, gee, I try to be a good puppy, but look what I have done!  I have peed on the carpet!"
The reason I say this is that the playing field needs to be even in regard to writing freedom for both indie authors and traditionally published authors.  When you walk into a bookstore and browse the backs of book covers, do you EVER see a warning? 

Of course not.  Yet, major authors write steaming, graphic sex scenes and such graphic violence that some of it makes me ill.  People are cut up, burned, sawed apart, eaten...but no warning.

Nor should there be.  Look, if you are buying a book that is not in the children's, teen, Christian, light, or cozy category you have to assume that the story might have sex and violence.  Sometimes a lot of sex and violence.  Sometimes a lot of very graphic sex and violence.

I am not saying graphic sex and violence are good or bad.  What I AM saying is that, if you choose a murder mystery or horror story, you should be prepared that it may gross you out or scare you in parts.  If you pick a romance or literary fiction, the sex may (or may not) burn the fingerprints off your fingers.  There may be violent scenes that are graphically written to show the horror of what happened. Characters may use crude language or curse.

Some authors never write sex or violence and that is fine.  They usually put their work in the genres I mentioned. But to say sex and violence is gratuitous, or needs to come with a warning, is just plain crazy.

First of all, you can read part of the book to find out the authors style. Even online, you can read a sample.  It won't tell the full story, but it gives you a hint.  Still, if you decline a book because there is crude language or someone has hot sex, you may miss out on a truly great story.

People have sex and people are violent. When writing about the head of the mob, for instance, wouldn't it be more gratuitous to have him say "Gee whiz, you have kind of upset me.  I feel like raising my voice to you!"  Some characters have crude facets to them.  Writing them differently makes them hard to find believable.  Saying "he swore".  sixty times in a novel is redundant. 

Nor should people assume that an author is like their characters!  Some filthy mouthed people write clean stories.  Some who never cuss write characters who cuss like, well, hell!  I have to tell you that if I had sex as often as my main character in Gastien did, I would not have time to sit here and blog.  Do not confuse a character with the author.

Indies, don't feel the need to apologize or "warn" people about your work.  We ALL have the freedom of speech.  No matter how you write, some people will love you and others will not.  None of us can get every reader as a fan.  I guarantee you, though, that writing honest, real characters and not acting apologetic about it will garner more respect than not.

Like John Mellencamp said: "This is serious business; sex & violence & rock & roll."  Use it when the character or scene calls for it to make it real.  Don't look back.  Life is sexual; life is, at times, violent.  Just tell it, baby, and make no apologies. Life sure doesn't.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Taking My Own Medicine (Fixing My Blurb)

Indie authors, as we know, take care of alsmot everything in regard to their books. Yesterday, I blogged about the importance of a great blurb. I also mentioned that I was in the process of writing the blurb for my second book.
Well, after that I put my blurb up on the kindleboards for suggestions.  I got some wonderful suggestions and am now happy to say that I feel my blurb is ready!

Not only that, but I realized that the blurb I had for my first book was just too darn long!  Talk about saying one thing and doing another! So, I changed it.  Yup.  That blurb I worked so hard on for the first book got ditched.

I realized it would not make me buy the book.  It gave too much information and I was probably losing some people.  That is what is cool about blogging.  The whole process makes you think.  Thinking makes you realize that you might need to make some changes yourself!
Now I have what I consider to be a concise blurb for my first book that should intrique people; make them want to know more.  Here it is.  Tell me what you think!

One Man: Stunningly handsome; with desires that burn relentlessly inside of him.

Two Dreams: Become a great artist; an even greater lover.

The scene: For an artist, Paris is a hotbed of new ideas. For a lover, nineteenth century women can only dream of a man who cares if he actually satisfies them.

The problem: No training, no money, no connections. In nineteenth century France na├»ve young men, hoping to achieve impossible dreams, die in the gutters of Paris every day. And, he is a virgin…so far.

The tools: Raw, natural talent. Willingness to learn. Incredibly irresistible. The vow to stop at absolutely nothing in order to achieve his goals.

Gastien Beauchamp, Paris is yours for the taking.

Sometimes, the “impossible” is possible. But the cost can be extremely high.
Do you like it? Do you think it sucks? I would love to hear your opinions. Give me a shout!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The All Important Book Blurb (It Makes "Em Buy Your Book)

As I head into the final stages of preparing my next novel for print, I begin thinking about my book blurb.  The blurb is the product description (Amazon) or Overview (B&N), and the words that are on the back cover of an actual book.

Make no mistake, an indie author cannot take the blurb lightly.  It is the thing that will make readers decide if they will purchase your book or not.  The story itself must be great, or people won't buy another book from you.  The cover must be great, because that compels readers to look at the blurb. But the blurb?  That baby had better sing, and sing well.  It can't be too long, but it has to grab their attention. 

Think of it as advertising.  That is really what it is.  After over 20 years in adverstising sales, I can tell you that a good ad gets a customer (reader) to take action.  That is ALL it does.  It does not tell them the story. It does not give them all of the facts.  It simply gets them excited.  Like a carnival barker.

Readers don't want you to take up much of their time with the blurb.  If you don't capture them quickly, you lose them.  If you capture them, but then start blabbing on and on about the story (which they can get if they read the free sample), they will grow impatient.

Why should they buy it?  What is mesmerizing about it?  Hook them.  Pull them in.  They will then either buy (if it sounds like something they would enjoy) or read the free sample (if they are online and not quite sure yet).  The free sample is where your great novel steps in.  If the novel sucks in the first couple of chapters, they walk away.

The blurb is the romance.  It is the candy and flowers; the violins and promises.  The blurb damn well better get them to take positive action, or you will get caught holding the ring in your hand.

I write the first draft of the blurb several days before I need it.  The first draft will suck.  That gotten out of the way, I can now hone it off and on other the next few days.  My gut tells me when it is ready. 

I have the "suck" draft on my computer right now.  It is being worked on constantly in the back of my mind, even though I have no idea what my mind is deciding.  I will attack it again today at least once. 

The words will come together and it will sing.  I will once again be ready to make romance to the readers.  I will hope that they like my choice of flowers; my box of candy. I don't want to have to keep this "ring" for myself.  My book is like a precious gem to me. I want others to "wear" it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Indie Publishing Means Play It Again, Sam!



If you are considering publishing your first book as an indie author, or if you have just published your first indie book, you are probably hoping that you will be an exception to the rule and your book will sell like green beer on St. Patricks Day.  We all have that dream.  It is good to believe that your book is great.

However, in reality, that seldom happens.  Many books don't sell at all.  Certain genres are more popular than others. Some people just don't have many friends that buy their books and help get the word out. But, most importantly, your book just does not get seen by many people.  It gets buried very quickly after coming out as a new release.

I have already blogged about how important book reviews are.  The more reviews you get, the better chances you have that your book will be recommended on Amazon and B&N as a "customers who bought this item also bought" book.  You don't need all 4 and 5 stars, either.  It is great to get 5 star reviews, but when a book has 20 5 stars and no others, it appears that the reviews were "fixed" somehow.  So, don't worry if you get a few 3 star reviews.  3 is a bit better than average anyhow!  Even one or two 2 and 1 stars won't hurt, as long as they are fair.  Sometimes, what one person hates in a book is what another person is looking for. Lower reviews can also show you if you are weak in certain writing areas.  Then, you can improve.

However, even when you get lots of reviews and use social media to the best of your ability, chances are you are not going to make livable income (or part time livable income) from your first book.  You are a new author and people are skeptical. Are you going to write one book and fade away, never to be seen again?  Why should they invest emotionally in you only to be left in the dust?  This is especially true for a series.  On one hand, readers LOVE a series.  On the other hand, that first book in the series by a new author may sit there without selling.  People are afraid to read the first in a series because, again, what if you don't continue to write?  They will be left with an incomplete story.

The most important thing you as an indie need to do is: do it again. Write and release the second book.  Then, the third.  Get the picture?  I received a comment from another author yesterday who said the same thing.  Just keep going.  Always look forward.  You must keep putting quality books out, doing your marketing and showing people that you are here to stay.

The odd thing is that, from what I have been told, your first book starts selling more with each book that comes out.  That is if you are writing interesting books, of course.  This is true even if your books are not a series.  People who buy each new book are not necessarily that same ones who bought book 1.  If they like what they read, they will look for other books by you.

To recap, put out your best possible work, get a compelling cover, write a dynamic blurb (book description), do your marketing and get reviews...and then you simply have to play it again, Sam.  Play it over and over, creating new, exciting stories and showing the reading world that you are here to stay.

Happy writing!  I need to get busy. Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny is  almost ready.  Book 3 wants me to hurry up, stretch my fingers, and play it again.  The melody has been started and it is dying to become a full out symphony.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Birth To A New Book (Indlie Publishing)


When I released my first novel as an indie author, it was extremely exciting!  It was also very stressful.  I had never formatted a novel for Kindle or NOOK before.  I wasn't even considering paperback...just getting the darn thing ready for e-readers seemed an impossible climb.

I was surprised when it went smoothly.  Sure, I had questions.  However, the community boards with KDP really helped me.  Before I knew it, I had Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream released to Amazon.com for Kindle and Barnes&Noble.com for NOOK.

Dare I think about a print on demand paperback?  Since I had several friends who did not have e-readers, I decided to give it a try.  Plus, I wanted to hold my own book in my hands.  I used Createspace.  I am not going to lie and say it was easy.  It wasn't.  I am not at all left brained.  Several times I almost gave up. But, again, the community board with Createspace was always there, helping me with answers to my problems and the resulting questions. 
Before I knew it, I was holding a proof paperback in my hand.  No, it was not easy.  But it was not as hard as you might fear.

Now it is time to release my second book, Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny.  I am 5/6 of the way through the out loud reading.  I am half done with the final tweaks.  There will be one read through after that.  I am on schedule for a release by December 15th or so.  I really want to make sure it is out there getting exposure as a new release for travelers over the holidays and people unwrapping new e-readers over the holidays.

The cover has been decided on, Robin Ludwig Design has finished it, and I have the files on my computer.  The cover is beautiful! It is starting to go into labor.  I still have to write the synopsis, or the blurb.  Then, it will be time to fomat.

Stress is building.  But, this time, the excitement far outweighs the stress.  This time, I know I can do it.  I have done it before.  Plus, truth be told, I kept the answers from those questions I submitted on the different community boards.  If I run into those problems again, I have solutions at my fingertips.

The labor will last a couple of weeks yet (thank God humans are not in labor that long!) before the book is "birthed".  All that is left are the final preparations so that the book can come into the publishing world knowing it is loved by me and that all of it's needs have been taken care of so far.

Once it is born, there will be more work.  All of the marketing starts once again.  Social networking.  Asking bloggers and reviewers to read and review it.  Hoping friends and previous buyers purchase this one.  But, this too will be easier.  I know what to do now.  I have contacts for reviews from my first book. This baby will be well taken care of. 

Finally, what I have to hope for is that others will love it as much as I do.  I would really hate to see it sit on the sidelines, an outcast.  I love it too much for that to not hurt.  It will be nurtured and guided to the best of my ability.  The rest will be up to the public.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful For Self Publishing Becoming "Normal"!

Before I take a break from blogging for the holiday weekend, I wanted to say that, as an indie author, I am very thankful that self publishing has moved "out of the shadows" and into mainstream.

Because of kindle direct publishing (amazon.com), pubit (barnes&nobles.com), smashwords, lulu, and createspace, there is now a plethora of good reads for under $5.00.  Yes, I agree that there are still a good number of poorly edited books in the indie arena.  Still, more and more, we are seeing good reads that are decently edited by indie authors. It is wonderful to be able to pick up a good read without having to take out a second mortgage!

As an indie author myself, I am thankful for the freedom self publishing has given me.  No more do I have to bow to the moods of a publisher.  My book does not have to sit for months on someones "desk", waiting to be read.  No more do I have to wonder if they even read more than two sentences before saying "thanks, but no thanks".  I know my book is a great read.  My gut is sure of it. It does not matter anymore that they don't have time, or feel a genre is too saturated, or feel that a genre is not popular.  I can write it, publish it and then (to a large extent) control the destiny of my work. 

The only thing I can't control is if readers buy it, after I have done my best at marketing.  After doing everything possible to market my work, I still have to rely on some luck.  Still, the same would be true it I had gone the traditional route.  If I am going to end up relying on luck anyway, why not take care of my 'baby" myself instead of depending on others to "raise" it?

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream has done "ok" for a first book. Gastien sells copies weekly.  It should do even better when Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny comes out.  By Part 3, I will know if Gastien is as loved by others as by me.

If you are thinking about self publishing, don't hesitate.  You will find it fun, challenging, rewarding, frustrating, and very much worth your time.  You will find people to help you every step of the way at the sites I mentioned above. 

You know that book that keeps knocking around in your head?  Why not make a new year's resolution early this year?  How about commiting to writing that book and getting it out where readers can enjoy it, too?  You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain in knowledge, sense of accomplishment, and-perhaps-in some additional income. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Travel safe, eat lots...and find some time to read!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fun Blog/Site Interviews Fictional Characters

This is a very unique blog today.  I had so much fun that I just had to share!

I need to tell everyone about this cool site called The Plot.  "Where All The Characters Are" is their tag line.  Here is their url: http://theplotline.wordpress.com/

This site gives authors a chance to first introduce their book, a synopsis, excerpt, and author bio one day.  The next day an interview with one of the characters in their book is featured.  The character can be interviewed by the author, by another character in the book, or by "Rose" from the site itself.

What fun it is to read interviews by fictional characters!  It gives authors a chance to show off a favorite character from their book and offers them the opportunity to have a little creative fun. Indie authors should take advantage of this opportunity to promote their work!

Today, the main character from my first book is interviewed.  Go see Gastien Beauchamp's interview and, if you would be so kind, leave him a comment.  I would love to help drive ever more traffic to this unique site!  Jaime deserves to see a lot of action there for her efforts.

While you are there, check out other character interviews. You just might be intrigued to buy a few new reads. 

Don't stop visiting after today.  Mark this site as a favorite and check in every once in awhile. After all, it IS the place where "all the characters are"!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Bloggers & Reviewers Need To Edit, Too.

Today I can blogging about book bloggers and reviewers.We indie authors love book bloggers and reviewers.  Their reviews are very important to us, especially if we are indies.  We provide our books at no cost in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.  We don't pay for those reviews. (At least you shouldn't.  How fair is a paid review?).  But, we do expect to be able to use snippets of those reviews for marketing our books.

Let me stop to say that MOST reviewers and book bloggers do a very good job.  They are careful to present a well written review.  But, as more people join the book blogging arena, I see quality slipping. Are some people pretending to be book bloggers so that they can get free books?

How disappointing it is to get a great review, only to see that it is filled with misspelled words, poor grammar and poor use of punctuation.  How do you use a quote like "He don't want to.." or sentences with "by" instead of "be", commas instead of periods, and sentences that don't start with a capital letter?  Hey, I can even forgive one mistake.  They get by all of us.  But all of these things in a two paragraph review?

Here is the unfortunate part: While the kind words can still help us, what these bloggers don't realize is that is makes THEM look bad.  If they want people to come to their blogs and read their reviews, they need to show professionalism.  And, while the words help us authors some, the review does not hold the credence it should.  It is hard for readers to believe that the review was done by a professional.

Professionalism means that you know the difference between "does" and "don't", a comma and a period, and that you use spellcheck!  Spellcheck will not catch the "does" and "don't" or (usually) the poor use of punctuation...but it WILL catch a word spelled wrong. If you are not a good speller, type out your review in Word first and use spellcheck.  Then check for wrong words spelled right and change it to the right word.  Check punctuation!  There are many good sources for punctuation online.  Please, bookmark them and use them if you are unsure of punctuation.  Punctuation is not abstract art.

While we indies are very grateful to people who review our book, we wait for weeks or months for that review to appear.  If we have presented you with a well edited book, could you please take the time to do the same with your review?  And, please...keep in mind that one or two misspelled words in 500 pages is a whole lot different than one or two misspelled words in two paragraphs. 

Both parties should do their best.  Please don't rush to get your reviews out, ending up with a posting that looks like a junior high drop out wrote it. 

Also, if you are a book blogger or reviewer posting a review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or other websites, please include name of your blog with your name.  That way people know that the review was indeed impartial instead of done by a friend.  "Cathy" does not have the same impact as "Cathy from Book Lovers".

Reviews should be worded a little differently for each site, or else Amazon pulls the review down.

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, please understand that I am not ungrateful.  Truly, the only reason this post should upset you is if you are guilty of submitting poorly edited reviews.  I don't like editing, either. Still, I understand that editing means the difference between being taken seriously or not, being successful or not.  The same is true for you.

I want to see you succeed and become a blog or review site with hudnreds, or even thousands, of readers.  That helps you and it helps me.  The only way to become that successful is to offer quality product. Please don't just slap together a few reviews in a haphazard fashion and call yourself a reviewer so you can get free books.  Authors work too hard for that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Limbo Is A Terrible Place To Be

There are many terrible places to be, but limbo ranks right up there.  We all go there every once in awhile. Some to wait and see if their marriage is going to work out after an affair; some to wait and see if a loved one is going to pull through a horrible accident or illness. Others are waiting for the ax to fall at work, watching as one friend after another gets the dreaded notice: You are not needed anymore.

Some, like me right now, are waiting for test results.  Do I have cancer again or not? Do I get to go on with my life without making hard decisions (at least for the immediate future) regarding single or double mastecomy, going "flat" or implants?  Or am I going to get a call that says "Sorry, but the cancer came back.  Life itself may not need you anymore."

I had outpatient sugery Monday and came home the same day.  We think it is a duct filled with debris and water.  It hurt some, too, which is good.  The doctor says cancer does not hurt.  There is only a very small chance it will be cancer.  Still, I heard that once before, one and half years ago.  It was Stage 0 and my doctor told me afterward that I should plan on eventually dying of something besides cancer.  Everything looked good.

Now, there is this.  It takes one to three days to hear.  Today is the second day of waiting.  My stomach hurts so bad that I wonder if I have an ulcer, and I go from extremely postive to scared as hell.  I just can't sit here and wait for the phone to ring today.  I will go and paint for three hours.  That is my escape.  Unlike my body, the color never betrays me.

As I said, we have all been in limbo.  You all understand exactly what I mean.  And, if the news is bad, I will wish for even limbo again.  Still, as we all know, limbo is a terrible place to be.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Little Things You Can Do To Promote Your Book



First of all, let me say that this blog will be a "duh" for any seasoned indie author.  It is written for those who are new to self publishing, and is one blog of several where I blog about different ways to market.  Still, sometimes it surprises a seasoned veteran when they read over these things because they find a few things that have gradually been overlooked.

None of these things are going to send your book to the top of the charts.  Each of these things are simple ways to get the word out and perhaps pick up a few sales.  Things you should do every time you release a book, because they cost very little and take almost no time to do.

-Make sure that you list your book, the buy links, your fan or author page link, and your blog link in your email signature.  There is a way to set it up automatically, so that every email going out from you has it.  Each email program is a bit different, but none of them are hard to figure out.  Look under "tools" or "options" in your email program.

-I already blogged about the fan or author page, so I won't go into detail on that one. Just let me say if you don't have one, you should.  Now.

-Consider using your book cover as your photo on blogs and boards that you frequent.  Add it to your profile on any of those pages.  Note that I said "consider".  There are some reader forums that do not want authors to actively promote their work.  Read their instructions and rules.

-When you publish for Kindle, you get an Author Profile page in Author Central (through Amazon).  Fill it out, add your book cover and set it up so that your blog feeds into it automatically.

-Start a blog. Blog about anything and everything, or just about writing, but do NOT blog about your book.  It can be mentioned once in awhile as an example of something you are talking about, or because something great happened for it, but people will get sick or hearing about your book constantly.

-Get business cards with your cover as the photo and feature the buy links on it.  These an be purchased online for under $100, sometimes under $50.  Just like your book, though, the cards don't work if they just sit on a shelf.  Use them!  Give a bunch out to friends to give to friends.  Give them to servers, at doctor's offices to workers you interact with, etc.  Don't be afraid to mention your book at an appointment.  If you are afraid to talk about your book then you must not think you have a very good one.  I am not talking hard sell.  Let it flow out of a natural conversation.  Once you have said a few things about it and given your card, change the subject.

-Think of fun stuff that may or may not sell books, but does not cost much.  I have a bumper sticker that says  "Who in the World Was Gastien Beauchamp?"  and then his facebook fanpage.  I have gotten a lot of comments on it.  Has it sold books?  I don't know.  However, it only cost me a little under $10. 

-Send press releases to local papers of places you live or have lived.  Consider doing the same to radio stations.  I am getting two interviews featured in two small town papers after doing that.  I may get more, who knows?

-Join kindleboards.com and put your photo in your signature.  Become involved in conversation in the Writers' Cafe there.  I am not saying to always talk about your book, I am saying to become involved in author's conversations and posts.  As you become known there, people will notice your book.  Authors are readers you know.  Some who come there are not authors, but do read a lot. Some may buy it, some will talk about it or promote it.  All kinds of cool things happen there.  Just remember, you are not there to sell your book, but to learn how to become a better writer, find ways to promote your book outside of the board, and help other authors. 

-Join other boards that talk about your genre. Talk about the genre, not your book! Once again, as people get to know you, they will check out your profile and possibly your book.

-Find other places to sell your books besides Amazon and B&N.  Type in keywords for your genre on google.  For instance: "Mystery Fiction" etc.  You will find sites that sell your genre.  Read how to apply to sell yours there.

-Open your mouth!  Even if you don't have business cards you can still tell people about your book.  Don't hog the conversation, just include a little big about how excited you are to have your first (second, etc) book out.  If they ask more, answer.  They will ask.


Don't forget to keep writing.  I will promise you that it is difficult to balance all of this.  In spite of that, you need to find a way to do some marketing, while at the same time writing that next book.  Be patient.  Don't be overbearing.  A first book seldom does well.  It takes about three books (from what I have been told) to find out if all three will be decent sellers.  Oddly, the first book starts selling more as more come out.  That is not odd for a series, but it is true for other books, too.


Write on, baby!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Interview:Meet November Indie Author Rockstar Kate Ellison!

Welcome, Kate!  I want to congratulate you on being picked as one of two Indie Author Rockstars for November.  I absolutely loved the free sample of The Curse Girl.  It will be the first book I purchase when my Kindle FIRE arrives.  I can't wait! Let's talk a little bit about how you became an author, your book, and you. First of all, I am curious as to what made you personally decide to write your first book, why you decided to go "indie", and when the first book went "live".

My path to publication is a bit meandering. I actually wrote my first book back in 2008, but I never queried it or tried to get it published because it was more of a practice novel (and it wasn’t very good). I started looking for an agent with my third novel, and I got a few good responses and requests for full manuscripts, and I started querying a second novel as well, and I got a good response from several agents with it too.

But the path to traditional publication is a long and grueling one that can take several years. Right around the time I was querying, all the self-publishing news began to hit (Amanda Hocking’s success, John Locke’s, etc), and I was deeply intrigued by the whole indie author thing. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to try self-publishing if I did get an agent and started on the traditional path, so I put a hold on querying and decided to self-publish a book I’d written for a friend that I’d never planned on trying to sell. It was TheCurse Girl. The book went live on May 15th.

I mentioned the agents because I think there is a notion out there that the only people who self-publish are writers who can’t get agents or who can’t get a traditional publishing contract because they “aren’t good enough.” That’s completely untrue. I self-published after much consideration and discussion with others in the industry, and I did it because I wanted to, not because I didn’t think I could ever get published the traditional way. I knew if I didn’t try self-publishing I’d always regret it, and now I’m so glad I did. I’ve learned a lot, and I relish the absolute control and the fact that I can write and sell whatever I want, not only what an editor thinks will sell.
I may not always be an independent author, who knows? But I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far.

Was this your first book?  If not, what are the other titles and genres?
It wasn’t! I think The Curse Girl is my 9th book (most of them are sorely in need of revision and rewriting), but I don’t keep a very strict count since I have about fifty partially finished novels on my hard drive and I occasionally finish one and the number goes up. The first book I ever wrote was called Chrysalis, and it was a space opera/paranormal/vampire story that I wrote for my friend. I’ve written a lot of books that weren’t (as far as I could tell) something an agent would be interested in (either the market was “dead” or “swamped” or whatever… the sort of stuff the agent actively requests that you DON’T send them), but now that I’m doing the self-publishing thing I’m planning to dust a few of them off and see if they’re worth revising for publication.

When is your next book coming out?  What is it about?
I am working on three books right now, and I’m not sure which will be finished and ready for publication first. Whiteout (tentative title) is a sci fi/paranormal mystery about a girl with amnesia who’s on the run from kidnappers. Nocturne is a young adult paranormal mystery with superhero overtones, and I’m also working on a yet-untitled companion novel to The Curse Girl.

What advice would you give other people who are thinking about writing their first book, but then that self doubt comes in?
My advice is to write even when you don’t feel like you can do it. Don’t give up just because you think your writing is bad. All writers feel that way sometimes. Everybody, even famous authors with numerous successes, write terrible first drafts and experience loads of self-doubt. Don’t give in to it!

What do you think are the five most important things a new author has to "take care of" to give them the best chance at success?
For indies specifically…
1. Write the best book you can. Edit, revise, polish. Make sure you have a tight plot, strong characters, and good pacing.
2. Proofread. Hire a copyeditor if you need. Make sure there aren’t errors or typos. There’s always about fifty more typos than you think there are!
3. Make sure you have professional formatting—no wonky stuff like paragraphs that split for no reason, missing indentions, or weird symbols in the middle of the text.
4. Be sure you have a professional-looking cover. No crazy colors, cluttered images, or amateur fonts. Take a look at what other books in your genre look like, and try to make yours fit. Be original, but also easily categorized into a specific genre. People will look at your cover and make a snap decision about whether or not to click to read more. Entice them.
5. Learn to market effectively. Tweet or blog if it comes naturally to you. Seek out free advertising (or paid ad space if it’s in your budget). Nobody can read your book if they don’t know it exists. Also, a lot of your infrastructure should be in place before you publish—like a blog, a Twitter account, Facebook, etc.

Let's talk a little bit about you as a person now. Tell me, what about life never fails to make you laugh?
How I so often end up doing things I swore I’d never do. Case in point, going indie. I used to say I’d never do it.

What has surprised you about life that you were not expecting that is good?
The first thing that comes to mind is the support I’ve received from my friends and family. I wasn’t expecting them to be so wildly excited for me. I’ve been humbled and delighted with the unconditional love and support they’ve shown me over the last few months.

How about same thing, but bad?
I think I’m still taken aback at how petty, competitive, and downright mean some people can be. Especially when it comes to writing… I am blown away by the way some people bash their fellow writers. It’s not a race. It’s not a catfight. Some people feel like they can’t succeed unless others fail, and that really distresses me.

What do you enjoy doing besides writing?
I seem to stumble across a lot of writers who don’t even own a TV, let alone watch any of it, but I’m the exact opposite. I love stories in any form, so I’m a TV junkie! I also love playing board games, composing music for the piano, scouring thrift stores for treasures, and gardening.



What book by another author do you wish you would have written and why?
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Her books are all so densely woven, with carefully crafted fantasy worlds and subtle love stories.

Finally, let's play the old genie in a bottle game. You get 3 wishes. They can't be general wishes, like "peace on earth", or all disease cured. No I wish my family, etc would stay healthy.  We all wish those kinds of things.  These 3 wishes are for personal, material things. What three things would you wish for?
Hmmmmmm. I’d wish for 1) a horse and a stable to keep him in, 2) a house up in Maine or someplace cool in the summers where I can escape to write, and 3) a skating rink in my basement complete with a disco ball.

Any last things you would like to tell people about you or your writing?
I just hope that through my books I can inspire others the way my favorite authors inspired me. Whenever someone writes to me and tells me they enjoyed my book, or whenever someone writes a glowing review on Barnes & Noble or Amazon, I am speechless and humbled. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Thanks, Kate.  Be sure to go to Kate's links, where you can read reviews, a description, and a free sample of The Curse Girl. I think you are going to add her to your list of favorite authors!

Buy Links for The Curse Girl:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Curse-Girl-ebook/dp/B00512ZWUU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321221239&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/curse-girl-kate-ellison/1102099125

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59665

Kate's blog:
http://thesouthernscrawl.blogspot.com/
Kate's Twitter handle:
@Katiewriting