Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FIVE Things A Writer Should and Shouldn't Do NOW!

I'm not saying that I know a lot about anything, but I can say that I do know a lot about what has and hasn't worked for me in this writing gig.

I decided five years ago that I was going to give my writing career a big ole kick in the butt and get it done. I traveled every road possible to make it to publication which finally happened one year ago with my debut release Carpe Bead 'em. Granted, I started marketing my career FIVE years ago and I have come across some things that a writer should do and shouldn't do.

THINGS YOU SHOULDN'T DO NOW: (let's get these over with since they are the most painful)


1. Stop quitting!
There is nothing more annoying than a quitter. This is why my post HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT is the most powerful post on this blog to date. If you are a writer, you are going to have to keep going because your novel is NEVER going to finish itself.

2. Stop treating your body bad!!
Keeping your body healthy is crucial to your writing career. Eating well and exercising will keep your mind healthy. It will help you focus and keep your creative juices flowing.

3. Stop writing what you hear is going to sale!
How many times have you heard that vampires are HOT and only being sold? If you don't write true to your heart, you aren't going to write the best story for you and your heart will not be in it. Forget about marketing something that isn't close to your heart.

4. Stop dreaming and start doing!!
I'm not saying to stop following your dream, I'm telling you to start taking the steps to make that dream possible. I want to be published every possible way. That means self-publishing and traditional. While I'm working on my traditional publishing endeavors, I'm continuing on my self-publishing career. It's a great time to be a writer! Make it happen!

5. Stop worrying!
Worrying has never gotten anyone anywhere! It gives you wrinkles! Don't worry about what other writers are doing. Don't worry about the mistakes you are afraid to make. Make them! LEARN! Don't worry about the market. Don't worry about self-publishing stigma. Don't worry!! It takes all the creative flow out of you!

THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING NOW:

1. Recognize that you are a writer!
The more serious you take yourself the more writing you will get done.

2. Read more!
The more you read, the better your writing will get. Read outside of your comfort zone or genre. It's fun to see how different dialogue tags are used or character descriptions are different across the board. You'll be surprised at how much you will learn.

3. Give back to others!
There is nothing more rewarding than giving back without expecting anything in return. It does wonders for your creative flow. There are many simple things you can to do give back and most of them are free!!

4. Work hard!
Okay. . .well I said quitting was the most annoying thing a writer can do....well I lied! Being LAZY is the worst! I can't stand someone who tells me they are a writer and they write a couple pages a month. THAT IS NOT A WRITER!!!! This is a job. It needs to be treated as such. And there isn't a job out there that has survived with a boss who is lazy. Write! Write! WRITE!!!!

5.  Just do it!
Nike has it right! It's that simple.

I could have written at least twenty in each category, but I'm curious. . .what do you think a writer should start doing TODAY and STOP doing today?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Many Hats Of Self Publishing

Ahh. . .did the title catch your attention?
As a self published author we wear many hats from writer, editor, copy-editor, typeset, plot-editor, lay-out designer, graphic designer, etc..AND we do it alone. (most of the time)

WRITER:
Without being the writer, you will not be able to move forward on your dream of publishing. You must focus and write every day. It doesn't have to be a mountain of words, but it must be a few in order to get those words on a page and tell your story.

EDITOR:
So you might have a great final editor, but what about the journey to getting it to that final editor. After the first draft, you have to go back and re-edit what you just completed. AND then again, and again until you are positively sure it's ready to go to your editor. THEN the editor will send you edits back. IF you have a wonderful editor like me, JUDY BEATTY, your editor will look over those edits to make sure you got them all or that they got them all.

DESIGN ARTIST:
What? You mean to tell me there is NO cover fairy?? HELL NO!! You have to put on your designer hat and either hire someone that can transform your ideas into a great cover OR try your handy work on your own. I use Laura Morrigan for all my covers. BUT I have the idea in my head and will relate those to her and maybe give her a picture or two to let her know what I'm thinking. Then we collaborate as a team to come up with the best cover! And she makes a home-run every single time.
(A CHARMING CRIME June 12)

FORMAT QUEEN/KING:
Oh, yeah! If you are going to be doing your own formatting, you will need to learn the in's and out's of each on-line ebook distributor. Some take epub while others take the word document. And it's up to you to figure that out. UNLESS you want to spend lots of cashola to pay someone to do it. AND trust me, if I can do it, so can you!!!

ACCOUNTANT:
I know. . .I'm NOT great with money, but I do know that you have to factor in all the above when self-publishing into your budget. You might not be paying for an editor (which out of all of this I HIGHLY recommend), or a cover artists, but you will have expenses. Whether it's formatting software, the latest graphic program or just the coffee that is going to keep you sane through it all...you will spend some money. So make sure you budget before you start down this journey of self-publication.

MARKETER:
Hahahahaaa!!! Did you honestly think that with that cute cover and big ole confidence ego I have is going to get my name and book out there??? TEEEE HEEEEE!! HELL NO!! Can I get a collective HELL NO from the audience???
This might just be the biggest hat of all that you wear.You will need to market and promote not only your book, but yourself from the time you write CHAPTER ONE until you die. This hat might not look that great on you, or might not fit just perfect, but you have to wear it. LET ME STATE THAT AGAIN. . . YOU. HAVE. TO. WEAR. IT!!!! (if you want tips on how to be a marketing machine. . .read through my blog posts....)

WAREHOUSE WORKER:
I know you don't work for Amazon and I know that you don't like heavy lifting. I don't even like lifting my butt out of my chair. BUT you have to get the author swag or your print book out to people. You have to do this! (I know that Createspace and others will physically print and ship your book) If you want a career as close to a traditional published book as possible, you are going to have to buy some of your books and host your own book signing. OR do give aways or have one for yourself....

BUSINESS MANAGER:
What, you don't have an agent?????? YOU ARE YOUR AGENT! Even if you get an agent, you have to be the captain of your ship. You know better than anyone and I mean ANYONE what you want from your career.

Self-publishing is NOT an easy job. But if you keep a positive attitude and occasionally laugh you will be just fine:)

Today, I'm going to wear my writing hat! 

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!!





Friday, May 25, 2012

Not In Your Face Marketing. . .Content Marketing

There is nothing worse than going into a department store and the sprinkler effect of getting sprayed by the cologne lady! Is there?


What about those authors who constantly market their books on Facebook or Twitter or their blog?

We become a little numb, don't we? I'm an author and I even get so sick of it.

CONTENT MARKETING 

This has been a big buzz word for authors lately. And it's super important we all fully understand what CONTENT MARKETING is and how it will increase your sales and on-line presence.

What is content marketing? Simple. . .it's the content you put out there that offer something to the reader, your readers. Not 'buy my book' posts, but something that truly gives back to the reader and helps you make a connection to them that will keep them coming back.

I do this in several ways. I have a STREET TEAM I give back to each month to let them know how much I appreciate them. I don't release a new book every month, so it's evident I'm not pushing my books on them. We talk about what they are reading, some of their favorite author swag, and just life. It helps them see that I put my pants on one leg at a time just like them.

I use this blog to reach out and give back to writers. All the blog posts might not apply to you, but I try to cover different topics that has helped me over the past few years in this roller coaster business. All the post come from my heart and they are as truthful as I can be. My only intent is to pay it forward without expecting anything back.

I have two profiles on Facebook (besides my STREET TEAM). One for writers and readers is my LIKE page and the second is a more personal page. But I accept all friends on my personal one. I opened the LIKE page recently because the personal page has a 5k person limit. It's been great because I mainly post writerly things on the LIKE page and put personal pictures up of my three teenage sons, two dogs, and other silly stuff my family does. Readers love it! I don't push my books or buy me. Every so often I will remind readers I have a STREET TEAM  and want to give back to them. I will definitely post a new release or any awards my books might get.

Twitter I post inspirational posts with hashtags on gratitude, payitforward, happiness, inspiration...you get the point. I also belong to a tweet team where I promote other authors. Of course I still throw a few of my blog posts in there or promote my books, but it's not the main content of my Twitter.

As you can see, the few things that I do is to connect with readers and writers on a completely different level than just me being a writer. If people like you, they will buy your books. They will invest in you as a reader.

Here are the questions you need to ask to build your CONTENT MARKETING strategy:
1) What is your expertise?
2) How do you use your website?
3) Who is your audience?
4) How will you make money?

How can you use Content Marketing to increase your on-line presence and sales?




Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Author + One Published eBook Per Year = SLACKER?

In today's society it seems that everything is better FASTER!
And if we don't keep up, we feel like we are left behind. Or at least I do...

Especially today in the Ereader age!

Just think about it. In the "old days" (two years ago...) the average reader had to get dressed, put on shoes, get into the car, drive to the book store, find a parking spot, walk into the store, spend hours browsing shelves, and then buy a $10.99 book or even higher price.

Fast forward to today.

Now the average reader (One in six Americans have an Ereader.) has to get their Ereader from the kitchen counter, click a couple of times, and have an ebook of the new release of their favorite author in a second for DOLLARS cheaper than going to the book store.

Ereaders readers have given a jolt of caffeine to the world! It has made non-reader become avid readers. I know because I hear from my readers all the time that tell me I have created a reader in them! LOVE IT!

But as an author, I've found this little shot of adrenaline a BIG shot of panic/fear in my soul. What happened to the day when we could publish a book every six months even one a year?

Readers are getting use to having the luxury at their finger tips and aren't so willing to wait a year. I know because my readers are always sending me emails, Facebook messaging me "hurry with the next book."
I know it's all in good fun, but there is always some truth to joking....right?

With that comes fear....if I wait longer than four-six months between novels, am I going to be forgotten? Are the little short stories, prequels, or mini-mysteries I publish between novels enough to wet their pallet?

One thing I know for sure. . .



The excited readers has lit a fire under me! It's given me a new ambition. Put a little more oomph in my muse. Not only has it gotten me writing more, my writing is getting stronger and stronger with each word typed. Staying motivated to please my readers had taken my novels to a whole new level.

What about you? Do you feel the pressure of getting more books out there?

Monday, May 21, 2012

When Editing Is NOT Enough!

A couple of weeks ago I blogged on about editing, Whiz With Words. There were so many great comments! I had gotten a lot of private emails on editing software and what I use. 
I don't use any editing software, but one of my regular commenter does! She graciously accepted to do a guest blog for me!! Lets give a round of applause to author Mila Ballentine!!


Laura has received her manuscript from an editor, after spending about $0.016/word for a 10,000 + manuscript.  She feels confident; a proclaimed specialist in editing has gone over her manuscript with a fine toothcomb. Laura accepts and rejects suggestions in the manuscript and WHALA, the book is ready for the printing stage.  The book is available for purchase and the reviews start to come in.  Her eyes eagerly read a review for the book on amazon.com, “It’s a good read, but it has too many errors.” 


Comments like this can knock the wind out of a writers sail. A writer has to have tough skin to survive in a world where everything written is critiqued.


Still, authors are sensitive and their stories are like a beloved child.  I think many writers can relate to Laura’s experience.  I found that doing a visual edit was not enough. So, I tried using  the Natural Reader 10.0 software and it has become a crucial part of the editing process.  


Arguably, the more mistakes a manuscript has the easier it is for the editor to overlook mistakes.  Natural Reader is a synchronized text to speech software that reads and highlights the words spoken.  When actively listening, you can hear when a word is missing, discover plot holes, and find out of sequence scenes.  


The software is easy to use, and reads MS Word, PDF and emails. The only down side is getting use to listening to a mechanical voice, but the benefits are priceless. Disclaimer: Reader software’s do not take the place of an editor.  Once, you have gone over the text without hearing any errors, send it to an editor.  


Now, it is up to you to test the software and experience the benefits.  I have included a link to a free Natural Reader 10.0 download. An upgraded version is available with realistic voices. http://www.naturalreaders.com/download.htm

In addition, I am including a link to my blog, http://www.milaballentine.blogspot.com  and eStore, https://www.createspace.com/3849242


I cordially invite you to visit my blog, get to know the author, and available titles.    


*************************************************


WOW!! Thanks so much, Mila for coming by and telling us about the edit software that you have found useful to you! 
Will you use a software to help with edits? I know we have all been there with the ugly reviews, but anything that will help out is GREAT!!
Thoughts?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Is Self Publishing Still A Stigma?

Literary Karaoke? Really??
I read the Huffington Post article going around the past couple of days and it made me pause. Sort of dumbfounded really.

It's no secret that I want a traditional publishing contract. It's a dream of mine to be on the shelf at Target. BUT I absolutely LOVE having my indie career. I will NEVER EVER stop self-publishing. So when another author sent me the article, I about choked on my RED HOTS!
I'm assuming I have had my head buried in the sand over the past few months because I was under the assumption that agents (or at least the agents I'm working with) are really embracing the indie author. AND a lot of traditional authors are either publishing both ways or dumping their agents and going indie.
And hearing that some authors have an all out campaign against indie authors, it made me sick.

Indie authors work much, much harder than traditional authors. I'm NO WAY putting down traditional authors, but I know a ton of them and I can tell you that hands down I do WAY more for my career than they do.

1) I attend conferences just like them.
2) I have book marks, tote bags, business cards, author swag just like them.
3) I have print books just like them. And I get the final decision on my COVER, not like them!
4) I have ebooks just like them. Though I get to set my price to the market, not like them!
5) I tweet just like them. Only I'm on several tweet teams to get my name out there!
6) I'm on Goodreads just like them. I connect with my readers on a personal level!
7) I blog just like them. Only I pay it forward without expecting anything in return!
8) I'm on Facebook just like them. Only I'm on Facebook a lot more working on my marketing!
9) I write one word at a time to make a novel just like them. And PUBLISH four-five novels a year $, not like them!
10) I have book signings just like them.

What I have that they don't:
1) A STREET TEAM of readers that would do anything for me!
2) A GREAT group of blog followers.
3) I market way more than them!
4) I promote way more than them!
5) I keep my title!
6) I'm hungry! I want to connect with my readers.
7) I set my own deadlines.
8) I control my career. Plan and simple.

Will all the things I do stop once I have a traditional novel? NO! I know the value of hard work on the marketing and promotional side of this business and will only make me stronger!

At the end of the day, there are so many readers out there and with the world of ereaders, reading has gotten so popular! There is enough for everyone! Oh. . .a little secret. . .readers have NO clue if you are traditional published or self-published. They just want a great book and great prices.

What's your thoughts? Still a stigma?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Write Smarter, NOT Harder!

If you are anything like me, writing does not stop at writing your book. You tweet, write blogs, status updates on Google + or Facebook, responding to blog comments, guest blog. . .the list goes on and on. But how present are you? I mean really present?

Yes! Sometimes we are just DEAD TIRED!!! (no pun intended because I am a mystery writer!)

Anyways. . .the more time you are on-line, the less time you live in the real world. And the real world is how you became a writer.
At least that is the case for me. Over the past couple of years I have worked endless on my writing and on-line presence. Both are very important for success in this industry and we still need to maintain the presence.
Can we maintain it without living on it?

Over the past couple months I have been finishing my novel, A Charming Crime. It's the first book in a new series, Magical Cures Mysteries. Along with this I decided to do a blog tour and send out ARC's (advanced reading copies) to several review blogs/sites. This all takes time, a lot of time to set up.

I was exhausted by the time I got my writing, edits, and blog posts written, not to mention keeping up with all the on-line stuff. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my on-line groups and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. But it was leaving little time for my family, friends, and getting my blog tour nailed down.

So I came up with a plan. I made a list of items that needed to get completed for the week. This also included everyday life things like pay a bill or go to the grocery, tweet team, streat team. It isn't a list with times or days, but two columns. One for to-do today and a to-do for the week. Daily I set a timer for twenty minutes and do all I need to do on Twitter and Facebook. I could spend HOURS on these two social medias, so when I have to get my work done, I set the timer!
Under pressure or timer, you'd be surprised how much you can get done and NOT stray.

What have I learned? A TON!
I have become more proficient with my tasks during the day. I'm getting more accomplished including writing and leaving time for family and friends! It's also boosted my creativity. Without looking up everything and anything under the sun or clicking on a link from the yahoo mail page (yes! They suck me in!), I'm living my everyday life and that includes my writing career! I'm more fulfilled and satisfied instead of scatterbrained about what and when I need to do something.

I'm happy to say that I'm writing another book, the blog tour is all ready to go, and I get to close my laptop before dinner to be with my family and friends. It's nice to be back in the present!

What about you? Are you a PRESENT writer? If so, what do you do? If not, what can you do to be present?

Great article on successful writing tips!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness BLITZ!



A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. 
Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community


Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. 
The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.


So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!
To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!


I'm BLITZING Author Gerri Brousseau! She is amazing and helps writers with marketing and promoting their blogs through the group WRITERS on Facebook. She's always willing to help and promote other authors. I love being able to recognize her for her unselfish act of paying it forward.

Gerri, for my RAOK, I'm offering you a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus! You are going to love it! I use this information in a lot of my writing.
I really appreciate Gerri, who blogs at Nights of Passion. If you have a minute, please stop in and tell her how awesome she is!


Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)
Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.
Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Whiz With Words!

When you decided to become a writer, did you know how to write? Were you a whiz with the words?


If you are anything like me and most writers, it takes time and practice to get the right words on the page using all the right "rules."

I'm not claiming to be perfect. . .(YES! I know, it's hard to believe it. I'm less than perfect! Humor here!) 

1) Read, read, read! 
A healthy dose of reading really does help you with content writing. Reading is more available now then it was a few years ago (phones, e-readers, computers, books, news papers etc. . .). It's not just to read great stories, but it will help increase your vocabulary as well as give you ideas. I'm always looking for different way to create character tags and dialogue tags. 

I especially love my Kindle where I can highlight a passage and remember why it struck a cord with my writing muse.

2) Write, write, write! 
The old saying, practice makes perfect, really does hold true with writers! Effective writing does not happen overnight. You have to work at it like any other craft or job. Just like any job, you need to write daily. It may only be a few words a day while you are in line at the grocery, but at least you will words on a page and practice your writing techniques.

With every edited novel I receive from my editor, I learn something new. 

3) Thick skin!
We hear this all the time. "WRITERS HAVE TO HAVE THICK SKIN." Really, what does that mean?
It means that you have to learn to take criticism and not get mad. Our writing is like our baby. It's the cutest baby we have ever seen, our pride and joy. We will lay our life on the line for our baby. But sometimes our baby needs braces to fix their teeth, a cast to fix a broken bone. . .you get the point! 

I live by the power of three. If someone says something three times or three different people say the same thing about my story, my ears perk up and that's my clue that something needs to be changed. Sometimes my editor tells me to change it and I believe her:)

4) Read out loud!
There is nothing more powerful than reading your book out loud. You will catch so many things that your trained mind will not catch if you read it in your head. Reading out loud helps you find grammatical errors, punctuation issues, and plot holes. It gives you a good sense of the flow of your story. 

5) Edit! 
That is one word that I should type and you completely understand. Whether it's a blog or your novel, you know that you have to go over and over it. This is the hardest part about self-publishing! I have paid GREAT money for each editor that I've hired. . .and there are still so many mistakes in my novels! Currently I am having every single one of my novels re-edited. AND as you can read. . .I'm not the best editor with this blog either, but I keep going and I get better with each blog.

So. . .are you a whiz with words? What do you do to improve your writing?

I'm giving away a copy of The Tricked Out Toolbox to one LUCKY commenter!! You have to come back and see who won. I will post it in the comments section on Sunday, and you have ONE week to claim your book!
AND. . .I'm so excited to announce that SPLITSVILLE.COM is a finalist in two categories (Mystery AND Humor) in THE NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS!! 
I'm beyond thrilled! The awards ceremony takes place in June at the Book Expo of America, where I will receive a medal!! How cool is that?? Plus SPLITSVILLE.COM will be listed in the library catalogs across the country. 
SO. . .these writing tips really do work to get your work noticed! Keep at it. It's your passion!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Gifted Writer

Putting together a marketing and promotional plan for you novel is one of the hardest things you will do. Many of us would rather have a root canal instead of asking people to buy your novel.

There are several ways to get your novel in the hands of readers that will help spread the word. But you can't just start when the novel comes out. You have to start when you begin writing the novel.

WHAT? GASP
YES! There is nothing better than giving back to your readers before they give back to you! We need the reader, and the reader needs to be respected by us. After all, it's the reader that keeps our drive going to write the next book.

I'm talking about simple things.

1) Street Team.
How many times can I stress the STREET TEAM concept? I have over 100 people on my STREET TEAM and it's only been up and running for one month. In that month, I have connected with my readers. We have discussed books, other than mine, what author swag they like to receive, and what is going on in their life.

I have truly invested in them. I host a give-away each month and it was so much fun sending the first one in the mail. But I know that when A Charming Crime is released next month, I can count on them to help me spread the word.

2) Author Swag.
I came up with author swag a few years ago before I had a novel out! I made blog swag to give out to commenters on the site or different holiday contests. Readers love to feel value and I VALUE THEM...A LOT!!!

It can be simple and inexpensive. Vistaprint.com has a lot of great deals and some of them are free!!
Or what about The Dollar Tree? YES! I'm not kidding!! I recently purchased large, nylon beach bags in four different colors for $1 each!! They are huge and I ironed on my STREET TEAM LOGO!! The iron-on paper was the most expensive item for $20 from Hobby Lobby! I will use those for reader swag give-away.

Oriental Trading has great items too! For my novel, Splitsville.com, I purchased mini-magnifying glasses and hot-glued them a postcard (I got the postcards from Vistaprint for FREE!!)

3) Thank you!
A simple thank you is always appreciated! I get a lot of reader mail. I make sure to take the time to read each one and write a personal note to them. It's so important to let them know how much we value their time.

Think about that! TIME! Do you have any?? The reader gets up in the morning, goes to work (or stays at home with kids, etc...), does their daily duties like we do, get their kids to extra-curricular activities, cook, laundry, cleaning, etc....They take the time to sit down, open their e-reader/book, and invest their precious time in your words. WOW! I'm so honored they spend any time on me...and so should you.

What do you do to give back to your readers? I'm always looking for new ideas.

REMEMBER: You can find more marketing tips and tricks, plus great websites for reader swag in my craft book THE TRICKED OUT TOOLBOX!

Great articles:
The Top 7-ways Authors Mess Up Marketing
To My Wonderful, All-Knowing Readers


Monday, May 7, 2012

Make your novel a page turner!

Readers. . .the almighty reader. That is why we are here, right?!
And it's up to us to keep them turning the pages of your novel and NOT close the cover before they read "the end."



1) Character tags
We take so much time on trying to figure out a dialogue tag that fits the words of our characters, but we should really take the time to to invest in our characters. And I mean all our characters.
Think of it as a memory tag, a way for the reader to remember that character. Of course we can write about the secondary character in passing, but it's so much more memorable if that secondary character has a distinctive tattoo or scar. Something that makes your main character pause and take notice of everything and everyone around them.
Or give them a little conflict too. If your main character is in a store, maybe the store clerk is having an argument on the phone with an ex.
These little tags are easy to incorporate, even you wait until the last round of edits.

2) Character Quirk
Every single one of my novels has a quirky character. I even have that as part of my author tag-line. Quirks give the characters a lovable quality that the reader enjoys. A snark of a crazy grandmother like Grandma Mozer in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, or my quirky Aunt Grace in Carpe Bead 'em.

Readers remember them, even if they are the secondary character's characteristic.

3) Character Thinking
Does your character ever think in his head? It's easy to let the reader see the action of your character, but it's an all together different experience to go deep in their head. They can do one thing, but think another. It helps the reader really get to know the inner workings of your characters.

4) End each chapter with a bang!
I'm not saying throw in a big train wreck at the end of a chapter, but maybe a thought or two that would make the reader stop and go hmmm. . .
For my mystery novels, I love to add a little red-herring to end the chapter on or a clue to solving the crime. It makes the reader continue to read so they can use the clue to help solve the mystery.

Analyze the book you are reading. What keeps you turning the page? Take note and try to incorporate those into how you can keep your reader hooked!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Agent or not, the writer stays the same

A few months ago I announced that I accepted representation with an agency to represent my entire career in my I'm A Hybrid blog.

Why would a successful self-published author sign with an agent? Easy...
1) It's part of my dream to see my book in Target, Walmart, any book store.
2) It has nothing to do with money. . .obviously.
3) I can still self-publish.
4) Self-published authors have so many options now.
5) It's still my DREAM!

Well. . .I've learned a lot over the past few months. I gave my agent my straight cozy mystery series, The Divorced Divas, Strung Out To Die novel to shop around.

But that didn't stop me. I didn't rest on my laurels and drum my fingers until I heard who she submitted to, I wrote another book, A Charming Crime and started the second Olivia Davis Paranormal Mystery Novel. I didn't pay attention to The Divorced Divas series because I had committed to that series as my debut traditional series.

I heard from my agent that they decided they weren't going to represent PARANORMAL STUFF, but straight cozies, inspirational, and women's fiction.

Hmm....I was in a pickle.
I had a decision to make. It is my career! The Divorced Divas is a straight cozy and I write women's fiction, but a major part of my career is my cozy mysteries with paranormal elements. I wasn't upset or mad. I still really like my agent, but I had options. That is something writers didn't have a few years ago.

1) I can stay with the agent and traditional publish my straight cozies and women's fiction. Self-publish my paranormal novels.

OR

2) Tell the agent thank you, but I'm going to step away and look for another agent who will represent everything I write. AND continue to self-publish.

If you noticed, both of those include self-publish. HOW GREAT IS THAT????? This is why I wasn't upset or angry. My career is and will always be in MY hands and choices are there that weren't a few years ago.

My decision. . .I walked away.

Some writers shudder at the thought of getting an agent and then even think about letting them go. But I wasn't going to settle. I've been writing too long and had too much success to settle for second best.  I know I'm going to continue to be a successful self-published author. I will continue to live the true life that I set out to live with or without an agent. And it is so reassuring to know that I did the right thing.

What I learned out of this...I have a clear vision of MY career. I value my work. I value myself. AND I won't settle. Embrace the options that we have because those options weren't here a few years ago.

I'm still on target to self-publish the four novels and two short stories this year. SPLITSVILLE.COM is contracted and in the hands of a producer to make it into an audio book. Plus I started my STREET TEAM.  AND still on the agent hunt. I didn't let grass grow under my feet! Strung Out To Die is in the hands of four agents and I'm still going to pursue my dream of filling the traditional route.

Would you be able to walk away from an agent?
I'm giving away a copy of THE TRICKED OUT TOOLBOX to one lucky commenter. Check back to see if you won! You have one week to claim your prize.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Keep Your Readers One Series At A Time

Do you write series? Some authors say they don't write that way, but let me tell you a little secret. . .READERS LOVE TO INVEST IN SERIES!!



They want to know what happens to the secondary characters, the nosy neighbor down the street.

Once they find a series, they invest in that series. As an author of a series, I know how hard they are to write. Everything has to be exact from the town street names to the secondary character's eye color. Once the first book in the series is written, it's much easier to write the following. But what about the marketing of a series?

Marketing a series is much different than marketing a stand alone novel. Here are a few tips to help you market your series effectively.

1) STREET TEAM. If you don't have a street team, you should. This is a group of readers who have invested in your novels. They love to talk about your series and the characters in your series not only to your other readers, but other people who might like your series. Plus it's a great way to give back to your readers. Show your appreciation and how much you love them.

2) Keep writing. It might take you three or six months to complete a novel, then you have to get it edited. It could take you longer than six months. For me, it takes me about four months from beginning to end to get the book up for sale. Four to six months to a reader can sometimes seem like a lifetime.

My readers start emailing me. Asking me when the next book is coming out. So I keep writing. SHORT STORIES! Yes! Short stories have become a great marketing tool for me to use. They are short and sweet little stories about different characters in my novels to tied over my readers.

(Thanks to Nerd Quirk for the great comics!!)

Your short story can be about any of your characters. Let your reader get an up-close and personal glimpse into your characters life.

I wrote a short story, Bead of Doubt, to introduce the characters of my new series, The Divorced Divas Mystery Series. And I wrote a prequel, A Superstitious Christmas, to the third novel in my Grandberry Falls series, Never Tell Your Dreams.  Color Me Love is an Olivia Davis Mini-Mystery to hold my readers over until the second Olivia Davis Paranormal Mystery Series is out later this summer. They are a great way to reconnect with my readers between novel releases.

3) Publish the next book in the series! Get the next book out! There is nothing that gets your readers on board than getting the next book out.

4) Newsletter. Do you have a newsletter? You should! I love to send my readers upcoming events, novels, or tid-bits about their favorite characters. I use MYNEWSLETTERBUILDER.COM to reach my readers. You can think outside the box when doing a newsletter. Let one of your characters take your newsletter over. I have an upcoming newsletter where one of my silly psychics from my new novel, A Charming Crime, is taking over! Talk about fun!!

What do you do to tied your readers over until your next novel comes out?