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 for Kindle and Barnes& 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 (, pubit (barnes&, 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:

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 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:

Barnes and Noble:


Kate's blog:
Kate's Twitter handle:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Respecting the Freedom to Fight

Today is Veterans Day, as I am sure you probably know.  I just thinking about this and want to say a few words about the freedom we have in this country to fight in defense of it or to protest doing so.

First of all, I want you to know that I am very anti-war.  In fact, that is what ultimately drove a wedge between my father and me in the 60's.  I was very young (about 12) when the crack in our relationship appeared and turned into a chasm.  Viet Nam.  He thought the war was right, I did not.  You might think a 12 year old could not have an opinion, but I sure did.

My opinion of wars and "confrontations" we have been in since has not been much different.  I don't believe in sending young men and women to other countries to die.  If you believe differently,that is your right.  I respect that. And that is what this post is about today. Respect.

It frustrates me terribly when people on either side of this issue disrespect the other side. People, that is what freedom is about!  The right to think differently.  An important thing to remember when you think differently is that the "other" side deserves your respect.

So, today I want to remind all of us that the people who do choose to fight, who do go to war, are the bravest people in the world.  To put your life on the line for your belief is the highest standard of courage known to man.  That, my friends, is what a hero is. 

Regardless of how you view war, regardless of what you think of a particular "involvement" our country gets into, the people who believe they are doing right and are willing to die for it deserve our respect and admiration.  I want to tell them today that the bravery they show is some kind of wonderful.  We need more of that bravery in other areas of society. We can admire the qualities and standing behind a belief even if we don't admire the actions.

Veterans of the past, present and future, please know that-while we may disargree-I will never look down on you for doing what you believe is the right thing to do.  Heroes are not quarterbacks, or race car drivers, or actors who put on some benefit dinner.  Heroes are willing to die for what they believe.  Heroes can die in a protest, fighting against war.  Heroes can get blown up fighting in a war because they believe they are doing the right thing. 

Let's not forget that standing up for what one thinks is right is a honorable thing to do. Let's all fight to make sure that right is never taken away from any of us. After all, if we can't believe how we feel in our heart and our gut, what kind of freedom do we really have? 1984 may be my favorite book, but I don't ever want to live it.  We are dangerously close to that already.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Facebook and your book (marketing versus spam)

Facebook can be an important tool for marketing your book.  However, it is very easy to cross the line and become a spammer, destroying any momentum you have built up.

First of all, you should be building a strong list of friends on your personal page. As your books come out, announce them and ask politely for people to share  the information with their friends on facebook.  Ask them to please consider giving a review of work on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Goodreads, etc IF THEY READ THE BOOK.  It is fine to get reviews from friends.  They are readers too.  Ask them to be fair, but objective.  Also, request that they do not say they are a friend in the review.  I don't know why readers don't understand that peoples friends are also readers...but saying they are a friend makes people not believe the review, if it happens to be good!  Using "Anonymous" for their name is even worse.  That makes it look like the author wrote the review (again, if it is good).

You can also share your updates on the process of writing the book (ex: I am on final edit.  Hey, I have just ordered my book cover for.... etc).

The next step is building an author page, a fanpage, or both.  Since I am writing a series, I chose to build a fanpage for my main character, Gastien Beauchamp.  Once you have the page up, invite facebook friends and other friends and family to join by sending an email, asking them to "like" the page once they get there.  Once you have 25 fans, you will be able to have a direct link to the page and then you can stick that link on your signature of all emails, in blogs, everywhere you wish.  Don't forget to include the direct link to fanpage/author page when you send the information to reviewers and book bloggers, along with your twitter, email, and buy links.

Keep people connected with your page by sending out something from that page at least weekly.  Don't barrage them with things or they will unlike you.  For instance, Gastien sends out announcements of reviews, and he sends out a creativity quote every week.  Each time someone joins, he welcomes them and thanks them. You should, too.  You can also ask questions for people to answer to get them involved, but again don't do this too often!

Search in Facebook for pages that would have people interested in your book.  For example, if you write romance, search for:  romance, fiction, read, etc.  Like the pages.  Read their information to see if you can post information about your book.  Ask how often you can do that.  Even if you can post every day (which is rare), don't.  You do not want to be seen as a spammer.  On those sites, wait a few days before posting your book again.  Most don't want you to post more than once a week.  DO NOT POST WITHOUT ASKING UNLESS THE INFORMATION PAGE SAYS YOU CAN!  If you do, your post can be taken down and they may report you to facebook.

If you send out your link constantly to all different pages, facebook may freeze your ability to post at all for several days to a month or more.  They do not share how often is too often, just be aware.  It happened to me once, and I was posting to places where it was acceptable.

Ask the owners of these pages for a book review.  Some will, some won't.  Regardless, if you are using their pages for your own benefit, pay it forward.  Tweet their link.  Put their link on your blog as a favorite.  Mention them on facebook.   Do all of these things on occasion, and not just when it is about something they are doing for you.

Facebook can be a huge marketing tool for you, or it can get you in a whole lot of trouble.  Be thoughtful, courteous and read the instructions for each page.  If you aren't sure, ask them by leaving a message on their page.

Enjoy your search for facebook success.  I have met many wonderful people from book pages and consider many of them friends!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to find book bloggers and reviewers

You have your first book ready to go or it is released.  Now is not the time to sit back!  The most important thing you need to do is keep writing.  Get that next book moving along.  The second most important thing you need to do is market and promote your book.

One of the best ways to get the word out about your book is to have book reviewers and book bloggers review it.  Here is a great list or reviewers:  Read over the list carefully.
When you find reviewers for your genre, make sure that you go to their website (usually listed in the above list) and READ THE INSTRUCTIONS IN REGARD TO ASKING FOR A REVIEW.  Not following instructions will mean you will be ignored.  Some of them are not always taking review requests, as they get behind after so many requests.  If they are not currently taking requests their website says so. 

Make sure that you keep a list of those you contact and actions taken.  You want to stay organized.

Use to find book blogger sites.  Enter in keywords (fiction, reader, romance, mystery, etc) to find these pages.  Some of them let you show off your book on their page.  Don't do it until you ask!  Spamming is not a good way to get attention.  In fact, people hate spammers and will make sure NOT to buy your book.  Look in the pages information page to see how to contact them for both permission to post your book AND to request a review.

There are some pages who always let authors show off their work.  Here is a great one: Authors on the Cheap.  In fact, you can post one book every 24 hours.  They own several sites and sometimes post your book from this site onto their others.  Make sure to read their information on how they want you to post your book.  Look at the other books there and you will see the format.

Hang out at kindleboards and go to their Writers' Cafe on the home page.  Once there, you will often find review and interview opportunities.

When you do get responses from people willing to review your book, make sure to ask them to post to Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads.  Ask them to tweet the review and facebook it.  Also, ask to be let know when it goes live so that you can promote it and them. Be polite, be punctual in providing what they need, and pay it forward.  Mention them on social networks other times besides when they promote you.

Have fun watching the reviews roll in.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Finding ways to promote as an Indie Author.

So, you have written the book, gotten through the editing and formatting, and finally have a published e-book.  The hard part is over, right?

Wrong!  If you think your book is going to magically tout itself, think again!
Now the "hard" part comes.  Marketing.  Marketing and advertising can be overwhelming to a new Indie Author.  Heck, I have over twenty years of advertising experience and I am still learning new ways to market my first book! Let me share just a little bit of what I have learned.

First of all, social media is now your best amie, sigh...I mean friend (Gastien, go away.  I am "talking" now).  Build an author page on facebook.  Or, build a character/book page.  You can also try to do both.  Personally, I am just doing a Gastien fanpage, because there will be at least four books in his series.  You can see my page at for an example (and a bit of shameless self promotion.  Gastien, make sure you look your best.  I know how much you want to impress the ladies.) Once you get 25 people as fans, you can have a unique link to it and start promoting the page with it.

Tweet.  A twitter account is important.  Make sure you tweet at different times of the day.  You need followers, so at first you will be tweeting to nobody.  Start following.  You can follow me at!/Caddyorpims. Enter keywords in the search, like readers, authors, romance, mysteries, etc to find people to follow.  Lots of people will follow back.  There is a lot more to building a successful twitter acount, and I am still learning. I need to build a lot more followers.

Start a blog, and blog almost every day.  Make sure that you use hyperlinks to graduallay increase your visability to search engines.  Again, you will be talking to very few at first.  But it will grow.  Mine is still fairly new.  I don't have many members, but many more read the blog.  After I write a new blog, I facebook, tweet and send it to linkedin.  We will talk about this more in another blog.

Seach out reviewers and book bloggers and ask them politely and professionally if they would review your book.  Some are months out before they will get to yours, but be patient. We will talk more about this aspect of marketing soon. Just a word of warning:  Do NOT pay for reviews.  What good is a paid review? Here is an example of a book blogger that I found on facebook.  Although the review of Gastien Part 1 is not done yet, look what she has done for me underneath the weekly Try Me:  Cost? Free. Be sure to ask how YOU can help THEM! Pay it forward.

Join kindleboards  and be active in their Writers' Cafe.  Haunt it and contribute your input.  Be friendly and polite.  Take criticism with grace, if you ask a question about your book or writing and you get some.  The authors there are awesome and will help you, unless you are obnoxious.  You will find many marketing opportunites there, too.  Here is the latest Gastien got from there: It is a full length interivew with me from Kindle Authors.  Awesome!  Cost?  Free!

Because promotion is such an important part of self publishing, we will talk about this more this week.  As important as it is, though, it is NOT as important as getting that second book out there!  Remember, this is not a quick way to make money.  I have heard over and over that it takes at least three books to see the first book really take off.  This is even more true about a series, because people are afraid you might not write the second book and they will be left hanging.  Yet, series are very, very popular and they can sell very well. A series might be a great way for you to increase your readership, if it makes sense for your book.

Don't spend a bunch of money to promote your book.  You don't need to.  There are a myriad of free opportunities out there.  You just have to do the work to find them.  Oh, and guess what?  Even if you had chosen to find a publisher and finally landed one, you would have to do this.  They expect new authors to do that.  Publishers spend very little mone on new authors.  Not promoting on your own almost guarantees your book by a publishing house ends up on bargain racks.  That means zero (or close to it) royalties to you.  Take a deep breath and get ready to self promote.  It is scary, it is frustrating...and it is hugely fun and rewarding to see things start to happen.

Join me tomorrow for more thoughts on marketing your self published book.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Getting a book ready to self publish

When you say that your book is ready for publishing, that should mean that it has been fully edited.  Fully edited does not mean you used spellcheck and so it is ready to go.  Either hire a professional editor, or if you can't yet afford that, make darn sure that you do a thorough job yourself.

Spellcheck should be used, but it does not catch wrong words that are spelled correctly.  It is also poor at grammar and punctuation.  I find William Strunk's "The Elements of Style" a very valuable tool.  Use it frequently.  Also, if you are going to edit yourself, you must understand the proper use of a comma, semi-colon, etc.  If you don't, research it on the Internet; and refer to your research frequently.

You should have gone through your book line by line several times. You should have looked for spelling errors, wrong words, grammar, punctuation, and story flow. Does the structure sing?  Did you read the book aloud?

Once you are sure, really sure, it is professionally ready you can begin formatting for Kindle and Nook.  Some people use Smashwords to publish.  Others publish directly to Kindle and Nook, etc.  I write my books in a word.doc and have had no issues when publishing directly to Kindle and NOOK. 

In order to have the same pain free experience, you MUST follow their directions carefully.  The directions are not difficult, but missing a step can cause problems.  Once you have followed the steps and downloaded, you will get a test view of your book.  Do NOT assume the book is fine just because the first few pages look fine.  Go through each page in the test Kindle or NOOK that appears on your screen.  Then, and only then, should you accept it.

If later on you find that something needs to be changed, you can download a corrected copy.  That also is easy, but don't rely on that and simply download the first time without making sure it is the best it can be.  Every reader deserves the best you can give them.

If you struggle along the way, there are forums at both Kindle (Amazon) and NOOK Pubit (B&N) for asking questions.  I have never asked a question at Pubit, as the download went quickly.  I did ask a few for Kindle, because that was the first time and place I had ever formatted for publishing.  If you are polite and to the point, people will be very helpful there.

You can also format to for a print on demand paperback.  This is more difficult, but I got through it and have an absolutely beautiful book as a result.  I am almost totally right brained and succeeded, so trust me, anyone can do this.  It takes patience and persistence, but you will get it done. 

Make sure that you format with a COPY of your book for this in case you mess it up.  That way you still have the original.  Again, there is a forum to help you with questions.  They were lifesavers for me.  The first thing they did was send me a download of a L-O-N-G .pdf on how to get your book ready.  At first it overwhelmed me, but when I actually read it most questions were answered.  Those that weren't were quickly addressed in the forum.  Again, be nice.  They don't "owe" you help.  You will find they quickly do help, though, if you treat them like you would like to be treated.

Before you know it, you will have an e-book published and a paperback ready to print each time someone orders it.  Good luck.  You can do it!  I promise!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Taking The Time To Feed Your Soul

I am so excited!  Today is an impromptu painting session at an artist friend of mine's studio and I am going!  Yes, I know I am trying to get Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny published by December 1st.  And, yes, I know there is still a lot of work to be done.

But, I have not painted in over a month!  My soul is crying out for the release...I desperately need to be makin' love to the color!  I already smell the paints, feel the brush in my hand.  That painting that is less than half done shivers in anticipation.  Is this the day that its water finally comes alive?  Will we get closer to the finished stage?  Or will it be forsaken for a new love, a fling with something fresh and young?

Only time will tell.  In about four hours I will be mixing the colors for....who knows?  The only thing I do know if that Gastien was right.  For me, it definitely IS all about the color!

Take the time to feed your soul.  Do what it needs you to do to feel complete. You will find that it energizes you to do the other things in life.  Yeah, I absolutely love writing.  I am fortunate that I have two loves.  The one that feeds my soul, however, is painting.  Gastien and I have that in common.  We need that brush in hand to feel completely whole.

Have you discovered what does that for you?  If so, schedule some time for it now!  If not, schedule some time to think about it.  Find what speaks to you, heals you, makes you feel alive.  Then go for it.  Your soul will thank you for it.

Now, I am off to load things up for the session.  Happy, happy, happy...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why Be Concerned About Gay Marriage?

If you came to this blog hoping to see a post giving you all of the reasons that you should be against gay marraige, you are going to be greatly disappointed.  It strikes me as odd, though, that the phrase"being concerned" about gay marriage seems to only be used by those that are bigoted, moralistic, self-righteous people who seem to feel that God has chosen them to play Him.  Or Her.  Or Whatever.

How convenient that they don't seem to notice the Bible telling them that they should not judge.  Nor do they notice that the good book mentions to love your neighbor.  Oh, wait.  Maybe they do!  Is that why those people are so afraid a gay or lesbain couple might move in next to them?  OMG...they would have to love them!  (Since they take the word so literally, one has to assume that the only people you "have" to love are "neighbors"...right?

You SHOULD be concerned about gay marraige.  Very concerned. The reason?  Because there is a group of people that are doing their best to make sure that a very basic freedom is taken from us.  It is not a freedom that government gives us.  It is a freedom being human gives us.  That freedom is the freedom to love the way that nature wires us.  If two men, or two women, love each other how does that hurt you? 

Gays and lesbians are not somehow different than straights, other than the gender that they are sexually attracted to.  They don't throw orgies in their homes any more than straight people do.  They don't "recruit" children...any more than straight child molesters do.  They don't do anything different, except for how they make love.  And isn't what goes on between two consenting adults in their home quite franky no one else's business?

Note that I said two consenting adults.  The moralistic group that opposes gay rights always seems to say "Next, we will except sex with a child, or an animal...where does it stop?"  Ummm, are they brain dead?  It stops when one of the two parties is not able to give consent.  There is a hell of a big difference between a nine year old and a thirty year old, a sheepdog and a human.  That is like saying if we allow people to live in houses, soon they will want to live in outhouses.  Come on, use some sense!

Gay people go to work, to church, to shop, to movies, out to eat...I would even bet that long term gay and lesbian couples at times only have infrequent sex...just like long term straight couples.  They are not sex maniacs.  They are normal, real people.

Why is this even an issue?  Are we as a people so small minded, so insecure, that we have to find a group to single out and pick on to make ourselves feel superior?  We are supposed to be different from animals because we can reason, and we have emotions.  What happened to empathy, to acceptance, to true decency...not some paper mache decency based on a twisted opinion of what is right and what is wrong?

Yes, you should be concerned about gay marraige.  If you aren't, a large group of our friends and relatives will continue to live as "less thans"...and that is something we need to all be concerned about. Are you secure enough about who you are that you can put this discrimination where it past history?