Friday, August 31, 2012

My Experience With KDP Select



Collapse was released on July 6th, 2012.  In the month or so leading up to its release I had made the decision to go exclusively with Amazon in the KDP Select program.  I had done my homework, it seemed like the smart thing to do.  Just before the release, I had several people ask me if they would be able to get Collapse on the Nook.  Not wanting to disappoint them, I figured it wouldn't hurt to make Collapse available on other formats until sales dropped low enough to make the switch to Select.

An acquaintance (more like a friend of a friend, I'm not sure I'd recognize the guy if I saw him on the street) had already self-published a few books the previous summer and I always kept a close eye on his rankings.  I also kept a close eye on his reviews, which were far from kind.  Some of the most horrible one star reviews I'd ever read adorned both of his books.  One of his titles had many accusations of being plagiarized pornography stolen from an erotic fan fiction forum (dressed up as science fiction for some reason).  "This man is a blight on the literary world, his grasp of the English language is tenuous at best" was one of the reviews that I remember most clearly.  He has since taken both of the books down and figured the third time's a charm with his recently released title.  His latest entry is also suffering similar reviews blasting his poor grammar skills and confusing plot. 

Okay, what does this have to do with KDP Select you might ask.  Thanks to the handy ebook tracking tool at Kindle Nation Daily I was able to track the progress of his work.  His work would usually hover around the 60K neighborhood on the rankings.  The days following his free promos, he would skyrocket into the 1-2K rank, even going as high as 692.  The next day, he would very quickly spend the next two days plummeting back to the 60K range.  This impressed me a great deal, clearly there was something to this KDP Select thing.  If the free promotion could propel a very poorly written book (based on reviews mind you, I only read the sample, which was awful) into the top 1000 then it was definitely worth giving a try.

Collapse had been available on non-Amazon outlets for almost a month and it was time to evaluate sales.  Here is where I was at when I made the decision to go Select. (Does not reflect paperback sales)

Amazon: 162 sales
B&N: 31
Kobo: 2
SmashWords: 1

The decision wasn't hard to make.  I had pointed the majority of my promotion back to the main sales page for Collapse here on this blog.   It's quite clear from those statistics that Amazon truly does hold the vast majority of the ebook market.  Going Select just made sense to me so on August 2nd I pulledCollapse from the other outlets and went exclusive with Amazon.

On August 4th and 5th I had my first free promo weekend.  On August 3rd I spent a great deal of time getting the word out to potential readers.  I was very fortunate to have a comprehensive list at my fingertips thanks to Rachelle Ayala's blog.  I made as many notifications as I could and programmed TweetAdder to start informing the Twitterverse of my upcoming promotion.  I also used the very efficient Tweet Teams at the World Literary Cafe to help get the word out.  For more information on how to effectively use Twitter for book promotion, please read my blog entry.

The free weekend was a huge success. Collapse made it to #17 on the Top 100 Free list and stayed at #1 on the Free list in both of my categories (War and Political).  On Monday morning, the instant my eyes opened I logged on the check the final stats - 13,957 downloads. 

The terrific promotional tool of staying on the Top 20 Free list right next to the Top 20 Paid list and staying at the top of my categories' Free lists was great exposure, but did it pay off in terms of sales?

Absolutely.

For the month of July, I sold 191 digital copies of Collapse on Amazon.  In the two days following my free promo weekend, I sold 218 copies and 51 borrows.  That's right, in two days, I sold more copies than I did the entire previous month.  I should note a disclaimer, I priced Collapse at 99 cents for the four days following the free promo.  Some might think that was the wrong move since I was missing out on a lot of money.  Maybe that's true, but I'm thinking long term exposure.  I am writing a series of four books and my goal is to get the first one out there to as many readers as possible so the series will be an overall success.  Also, I'm not financially dependent on my writing in any way at all so I'm free to gamble on my promos to find out what works best.  I was originally only going to keep the 99 cent price for the day following the promo, but darn it if the book didn't keep climbing up the ranks all the way to 1,159 and in the Top 10 on both of my categories.  Once it peaked and starting slipping back the other direction, I raised it to the regular price.

I have no regrets when it comes to Select, best decision I've made in terms of marketing.  As of the date of this post, my rankings have stayed in the 2K range whereas it was in the 15K to 20K range prior to the free promo.


*******************************************************************
Thank you so much, Richard for being here today and letting me post your honest and open blog about KDP Select. There is nothing better for Indie authors to be able to see numbers from another Indie author. 


Be sure to pick up Richard's award winning novel, Collapse
Check him out at his social networking sites!
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making it to the finish line!



Do you know how long it takes for someone to train for a marathon? Do you know what they have to do in order to be in shape to run that marathon?

As a novelist, I DO! We are marathon runners that not only train to write the novel, but bring others along with us. We have to keep our readers in mind when we train for our marathon.

Just like a marathon, there is NO sprint to the end when writing a novel. We have to have an endurance that will last for months. An endurance that will carry a reader all the way through. So in some way, the reader is also going the distance with you. You have to keep the readers engaged, in a pace that sometimes takes them up a hill and then down the hill with a few strides along the way.

This is not an easy feat! We have to take a story line and engage the reader from cover until THE END!

There are a few tips that can help get us trained for the marathon.

1) Write your novel all the way through with out stopping.

I can hear you groan now, but hear me out. This is hard for many of us. It's hard not to revise and edit as you write. I have been one of those that stop and go back to change something, only to throw me off track at where I had truly stopped in order to go back.
This stops your creative process and in turns puts a halt to your writing.

Try to write the entire novel and resist the urge to go back and revise. This allows your mind to keep the story line you had in your head to stay true to the story line.

You will have a better understanding of your novels beginning, middle, and end. You will not have wasted your time revising and polishing when you are going to be doing that when the novel is finished.

I didn't say write fast. I said write your novel all the way through. It takes me three months to get a complete first draft and that is not going back to edit or revise until THE END is written. If you try to  write without going back to edit, you will surprise yourself on how quickly you will get your first draft completed.

2) Scene, scene, scene

Does your scenes tie into your complete novel? The reader is SMART! The reader will know when a scene doesn't advance the plot of your novel and they will put it down or write a bad review.
This is the next step after you write that first draft. You will want to go back and reread your first draft completely.

At the beginning of each chapter, I ask myself several questions: How does this chapter move the plot or story line? Is the scene dramatic enough to hold the readers attention? Does the chapter lead into the next chapter? Is the descriptions vivid enough for the reader to feel like they are placed in the scene? Is the emotions of my characters felt in the soul of my readers?

Not every single chapter is going to have those questions answered, but I do know that my chapter is going to propel the plot of the story.

Make a list of questions. If your scenes/chapters fail to answer your questions, you need to cut that scene.

3) Chapter beginnings

Go back to the beginning of each of your chapters. Do they start the same? Do they all sound alike? BORING!!!

Be sure that you are starting each chapter differently. This helps pique the readers mind, carrying them to the end of the marathon.

4) Mini-Scenes

These are so much fun to write! I love looking for lulls in my first draft. It's the perfect place to add a little humor or mini-scene to your novel. Don't let there be any dead space on the pages for your reader's eyes.

This is where I beef up my quirky characters by making them just a little bit more quirky.

I hope that you really consider these tips when starting your next novel. I think you will be surprised on how effective it is when you can write your story all the way through without going back to revise or rewrite.

Writing a novel is hard work, just like training for a marathon. Some can go the distance and some can't. I know you can! And in the entire process, you need to keep your reader in mind. After all it's said and done, your novel becomes your readers. They claim it for their own and you are running along side them.


Monday, August 27, 2012

8 AWARD Winning Authors On the PR BUDDY TRAIN!

Last week I had announced that Carpe Bead 'em won in the Women's Fiction/Chick-lit category in the eFestival of Words. It's a GREAT honor to me because Carpe Bead 'em was nominated by readers and voted to win by readers. 

There are eight winners that have come together to create a BIG SALE for our readers! All the novels have at least 20 reviews and a 4.5 or higher stars. We want you to enjoy the reward just as much as we have enjoyed getting it! All EIGHT of the winner's novels are on sale for .99 for TWO DAYS ONLY! Monday, August 27 and Tuesday, August 28!! 

This is a great example of the PR BUDDY system that I preach about. Each of us have a strong reader group and each of us hope to tap into each other's reader base by collectively coming together to offer our award-winning novels at a GREAT price.

I hope that you enjoy my blog and would consider reposting the promo below to your blog or other social media accounts. I truly appreciate it and LOVE connecting with you here!




Readers! Eight award winners in the 2012 eFestival of Words "Best of the Independent eBook Awards" have come together to offer you an amazing opportunity. They've reduced the prices of their award-winning novels to 99 cents on August 27 and 28th! Whether you like to read mysteries, romance, horror, young adult, women's fiction, or fantasy, this group has it. Are you a writer yourself? Do you want to learn all about digitally publishing your next masterpiece? They've got you covered there too. Get all eight award-winning ebooks for the price of one single paperback!
Award Winners
Best Mystery/Suspense: Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice
Best Non-Fiction: DIY/Self-Help: Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran 
Best Horror: 61 A.D. by David McAfee 
Best Romance: Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne
Best Young Adult: The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto
Best Fantasy/Urban Fantasy and Best NovelThe Black God's War by Moses Siregar III
Best Chick Lit/Women's LitCarpe Bead'em by Tonya Kappes
Award for Best Twist ("I've Been Shyamalaned"): The Survival of Thomas Ford by John A.A. Logan

Here's a one-stop Amazon shopping link for your convenience: http://amzn.to/MO7qBY


Book Blurbs


Laura Carnegie gave up on the man of her dreams a long time ago. He's fashion designer Jeremy St. James, and not only is he her boss, everyone knows he's gay.

When the woman who holds the company purse strings is found dead in the office, and Jeremy's arrested for the murder, everything changes. If Laura can just solve this crime, keep the cops off her tail, break up a counterfeiting ring, and get the show on the runway by Friday, she might stop being Seventh Avenue's perpetual loser.

If you love Project Runway, or enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, try Dead Is the New Black.



This guide contains over 60,000 words of essays, articles, and how-to guides, as well as contributions from 33 bestselling indie authors including J Carson Black, Bob Mayer, Victorine Lieske, Mark Edwards, and many more.

It covers everything from how the disruptive power of the internet has changed the publishing business forever to the opportunities this has created for writers. It gives you practical advice on editing, cover design, formatting, and pricing. And it reveals marketing tips from blogging and social networking right through to competitions, discounts, reviews, and giveaways.

If you are considering self-publishing, if you need to breathe life into your flagging sales, or if you want to understand why it's a great time to be a writer, Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should will explain it all.



61 A.D. For ten years, Taras has lived in the young city of Londinium, feeding off the city’s underbelly. But now Theron, his old enemy, has come looking for revenge, and Taras’ nights of living in relative peace are about to end.

Yet not even Theron can slip into town unnoticed, and the Council of Thirteen sends Ramah to deal with the two renegades once and for all. But unknown to the Council, a much older enemy is also in Londinium, and this time even the great Ramah might not be safe.

Set against the backdrop of the Iceni uprising in Roman-era Britannia, 61 A.D. continues the story of Taras, Theron, and Ramah, as they fight their way through history.



Nic Lamoureux's perfect movie star life is shattered by a stalker who threatens any woman close to him. When he meets photographer Lauren James, the attraction is instant--and mutual. She's exactly the sort of woman he craves, but the stalker makes deadly clear Lauren is the competition.
And the competition must be eliminated.

"Stock up on ice cubes because this is definitely one sizzling debut. Readers will be hooked from the first sentence- on the book and on Nic! As rich as a white chocolate cheesecake, Cayne's entrance into the suspense genre is invigorating, explosive and simply intoxicating." ~ RT Book Reviews Top Pick



When teen witch Ivy MacTavish changes a lizard into her date for a Halloween dance, everything turns to chaos. And when no one is powerful enough to transform him back except Ivy, it sparks the rumor: Like father, like daughter. Worse, someone has used an evil spell book to bring back two of history's most nefarious killers.

Ivy's got a simple plan to set things right: find the real dark spell caster, steal the book, and reverse the spell. No problem! But first, she’ll have to deal with something more dangerous than murderous spirits: the school’s hotter-than-brimstone demon bad boy, Nick Marcelli. Demons are about as hard to handle as black magic, and Ivy soon discovers it’s going to take more than a lot of luck and a little charm if she wants to clear her status as a dark witch, get a warm-blooded boyfriend, and have her former date back to eating meal worms before the week’s end



Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One.

Her father-king wants war.
Her messianic brother wants peace.
The black god wants his due.
She suffers all the consequences.

"Moses is a fine writer deserving of success, and I think that it will follow ... I really enjoyed Moses's work." - David Farland, NYT Bestselling Author of The Runelords



Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie escapes her hometown and never looks back.

That is, until she’s transferred back to the hometown. Not wanting her past to cross paths with her future, Hallie puts her life on hold.

Aunt Grace is still up to her old tricks, but Hallie finds some sanity at a local jewelry-making class where she uncovers a hidden talent for beading.

Will she keep searching for the happiness she may already have found?




Thomas Ford is the only survivor of the car crash which killed his wife. He is also the only witness who would be willing to identify the young, reckless driver who caused the crash. But the driver would sooner see Thomas Ford dead than ever let that happen. 


Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tips To Indie Success



Last week I had to pleasure of going to the Lowcountry RWA chapter and speak on how to market and promote your novels effectively.

It was great because most of them are just now seeking the Indie way. As a matter of fact, a couple of them are dropping their publishers (and I mean big six) and going the independent route. Of course I still claim that any road to publication is the right road for you, but I'm a big champion in the indie arena!

Being Indie has made so many dreams come true for me. Including this blog! If it weren't for all of the marketing and promoting techniques I used to make it on Amazon's Movers and Shakers, double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and winner in the women's fiction category of the eFestival of Words!

I can tell you to buy The Tricked Out Toolbox for all of my tricks, but no matter what I say, there are three BIG tips that bring about INDIE SUCCESS:

1) Successful Indies don't bash other writers! We help them. When we see something other writers are doing that isn't etiquette, we politely and privately email them. If they take the advice, great! If not, no sweat off the successful Indie's back because they tried to help someone.

If that someone comes back with a bitter pill and begins to publicly bash the successful Indie...guess what, that someone looks like a fool! That doesn't promote our craft, our colleagues, or our passion.

2) Successful Indies don't sit on their laurels. They don't wait around to see if their novel is going to be published. They write the book, establish a relationship with their readers (STREET TEAM),  and continue to market their novels.

Successful Indies put their money where their mouth is and laughing all the way to the bank!

3) Successful Indies don't talk about their ideas, they WRITE them! GASP!!! Yes, to be a successful Indie, you have to continue to write, write, and write. Get the next book out there for the reader.
Write in all genres and get those GREAT stories out there!

Now do you want to be successful? GO DO IT!

What do you think is a good tip to Indie success?

One lucky comment will win a copy of my marketing and promoting book, The Tricked Out Toolbox! Be sure to check back on Sunday because I will be announcing the winner Sunday night!



Monday, August 20, 2012

Togather Brings Readers and Authors TOGETHER?


A very different type of connecting with readers has been brought to my attention.

Last week I received an email from TOGATHER.

As you know from the tabs on top of my blog, I teach workshops as well as book clubs. I travel to do both, and these are set up through the writer's groups or book clubs directly contacting me.

Togather is a global site that will put the author in front of a larger group of readers.

"

Togather is a free, online fansourcing platform that brings authors and audiences together.

We created Togather because giving a talk to an empty room is no fun.
You know how difficult and time-consuming it is to book and promote your own speaking engagements. So why not get some help directly from the people who really want to hear you talk? Using an on-demand fansourcing platform, Togather transforms the way authors organize book tours and bring audiences to events.
With Togather, every talk, book signing or lecture is sold out before you even leave your home. We use a group-buying mechanism to make sure that your fans commit to attending. It only takes a few clicks to show some author love. And with this commitment from fans, a whole new world of possible events opens to you and your audience. We think that's exciting.
Togather was created by authors. We understand the challenges of connecting with your audience. Dear writer, this tool is for you. Now go pack all your belongings in a gingham handkerchief tied to the end of a stick and start touring.
Togather was incubated by Huge Labs with financial backing from Interpublic Group. Togather was founded in April 2011 by authors Andrew Kessler and Aaron Shapiro and is based out of Brooklyn, New York." (Taken from the website.)
Instead of jumping on board, I did a little research to see what it is all about.

Check out the video:



I thought I'd go ahead and sign up just to see what it's all about.

When I signed up it sent me to a screen where I had to pick only one book. I put a price on my presences at three different events: Local Showings, Remote Showings, and Skype Showings.

Togather, along with the author, will help promote the site to their social media sites. This helps my reader in tin-buck-two see that I will come to their hometown for a fee. The reader or reader group will see what my fee is and will pay me the fee to get me to come there.

This is really no different than what I do now. Most of the time I hold a book signing in the location I'm doing a workshop in. Kind of like killing two birds with one stone, only I get paid to do one of those by the organization that is hosting me.

Togather is great because it guarantees that every single person signed up through their site, is someone who is going to show up for the book signing or workshop, not just a poster in a store or a message on a writer loop.

Anyways, there is nothing to lose. I already go around the country and get paid to do workshops. This is just another way to reach the target audience....THE READER!

What do you think about Togather? Here to stay or will go away?

OH!! By the way. . .CARPE BEAD 'EM won ebook of the year in Women's Fiction and Chick-lit for eFestival of Words!! Thank you for voting for me and who ever nominated me! I'm so thrilled!!




Thursday, August 16, 2012

5 Ways to Make Lifelong Fans in Your Own Backyard


These days, when we writers spend the lion’s share of our time behind a computer trying to connect with a worldwide audience, it’s easy to forget that some of the most loyal readers we’ll ever find are right in our own backyard. Since releasing my first novel in February of this year, I’ve done book signings, seminars, readings, and festivals – all of them right here in the great state of Maine. The vast majority of the books I’ve sold, of course, have been online, but being able to have those public events on my resume and reconnect with people I’ve known most of my life has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Additionally, readers here have been spreading the word like gangbusters to friends and family around the country—and I’ve quickly learned that readers who feel they have some kind of personal connection to me are far more likely to review my books on Amazon. 
So, how did I manage to get readers in my hometown interested in my work?  Here are a few tricks you can try for your neck of the woods.
(1)   Promote small business. Have a Mom-and-Pop shop you love? A hair salon you patronize above all others? Consider adding them to your novel. My Erin Solomon mystery series takes place in the fictional Maine town of Littlehope, but Littlehope is set in the very real region of midcoast Maine. Erin’s dog, Einstein, visits the Loyal Biscuit every time he’s in town; Loyal Biscuit is my favorite pet boutique in Maine. Because I’ve mentioned the shop in both books now, they hosted my first book signing, and have promoted the series far and wide. I also include my favorite local coffee shop and Dorman’s Ice Cream, home of the best ice cream cone this side of heaven – which means I’m occasionally entitled to a free cone, when the owners around and feeling generous!

In this particular instance, be smart: make sure that your content isn’t something the owners of the establishment might find offensive or wouldn’t want their name connected with. So, if you’re writing an erotic novel with any particularly racy themes, you may not want to connect it with that nice little Amish farmstand down the way. But otherwise… Let the business know you’ve done this (especially if you have a personal connection with them). Ask if they would consider displaying a copy of your book, or if they might be interested in doing a reading or signing.

(2)   Feature little-known spots the locals love. Whether it’s the swimming hole you frequented as a kid or the best known make-out spot when you were a teenager, including it in your novel is a fun way to give a little nod to locals in the know. The trick in this is to provide enough detail that these places have just as much meaning for non-natives who may never visit your fair home: giving a nod to your nearest and dearest is always wonderful in a book, but make sure it’s genuinely relevant to the story and you’re not sticking it in there just to get noticed.

(3)   Support local charities. Donate a book to a cause that’s close to your heart – or better still, one that’s close to your character’s heart. Volunteer to do a reading at the next big fundraiser. If you really want to drum up some good karma and local goodwill, set aside a specific chunk of time, do some publicity, and donate funds from your little sales drive to the charity of your choice. This could be an animal shelter if your book features animals in it, a children’s hospital, a school… Anything relevant to the theme or content of your book.
(4)   Feature regional lore. Local urban legends and history are a great way to get people to sit up and take notice of your story. If you’re writing any kind of historical fiction, contact your local historical societies, donate a copy of your book, and see about getting on the roster at their next event. Particularly in small towns, these kinds of organizations are always looking for some kind of relevant speaker at their regular meetings. Use that to your advantage in every way you can.
(5)   Include surnames common to the area. My latest novel is set in northern Maine, along the Maine/Canada border. I use surnames like Givrois, Gendreau, Saucier… All names common to that area (many of which just happen to also be names of folks who proved to be invaluable resources during the research phase of the novel). When people see their names in a book, they get excited. They tell other people. They give the book as gifts. Soon, you have an army of fervent supporters singing your praises – and consequently selling your books.
In the digital age, it’s sometimes daunting to get out from behind the computer screen and try to engage with a real, live audience. But, this can also be the most rewarding aspect of the writing journey: the ability to make an impact in your own backyard. Don’t stress about trying all five of the above tactics I’ve listed, but pick one or two and see what happens. You may be surprised just how many devoted fans you find when you walk out your front door!
Jen Blood Bio:
 Jen has been a freelance writer and editor for the past fifteen years, with publishing credits in Bark, Down East, and a number of newspapers and periodicals around the country. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Popular Fiction, and teaches seminars on writing, publishing, and social media for authors. Her first novel, All the Blue-Eyed Angels, has been an Amazon bestselling mystery in Suspense and Women Sleuths; the sequel, Sins of the Father, was just released at the end of July and is already receiving rave reviews. 

Thank you so much, Jen!! I have never ever done a blog or even marketed specifically to my own hometown! I'm for sure going to put these great tips in play! 
Check out all of Jenn's links! 



Smashwords:

Websites:

Twitter:
@jenblood














Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WRITERS~ DON'T EVER STOP!



When Tonya graciously allowed me a guest spot on her blog, I was acutely aware of how creative I’d have to be to come up with writing and publishing advice that she hadn’t already dispensed in spades. Most of what I talk about when I’m talking to people about self-publishing are things you probably already know from having been here before. (And if you’re somehow inexplicably here for the first time because you’re following me, I would direct you to Tonya’s post of August 8, where she nails down the most important points of self-publishing with style and aplomb.) (I like saying “aplomb.”) 
Unlike the myths and rules surrounding publishing, however, the myths and rules of writing can be talked about endlessly and in seemingly infinite variation. So from me to you, here’s the best advice that I think any writer can get, and which I desperately wish I’d gotten back when I was starting out: 
Don’t stop. 
Don’t ever, ever stop. 
Inertia is the single greatest threat that any writer can face. Not rejection. Not poor reviews. Not the personal challenge of constantly becoming better. Not the professional challenge of navigating the equally perplexing worlds of mainstream or indie publishing. Not even the dreaded writer’s block, which you might think is the same thing as inertia but which is really just a lame symptom of inertia. 
All of those things and the thousand other natural shocks that the writer’s flesh is heir to come from outside. And like all pathogens, we can protect ourselves from them with a modicum of care and some rigorous hand washing before meals. 
Inertia is different because inertia comes from inside. Inertia is the killer of wisdom and the destroyer of ideas. Inertia is the scourge of insight and the killer monsoon that quells the most primal spark of imagination. Creativity is like the proverbial shark — it needs to keep constantly moving or it dies. (I know that science now knows most sharks don’t actually need to keep moving. Creativity is like the bus in “Speed,” then. Insert your metaphor of choice.) 
Writing is hard. Everyone who’s ever written knows this. Everyone who’s ever written knows the adage attributed to Dorothy Parker: “I hate writing. I love having written.” Writing is hard. But stopping writing is dead easy, and therein lies the problem. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to deal with the problem of stopping. The following are the ones that work for me. 
1) Have more than one project on the go. Always, always, always have a wide slate of projects in front of you that are in progress or ready to jump into. Even if you’re not one of the many writers embracing self-publishing (and thus thinking like a publisher in terms of the importance of a regular schedule of releases), remind yourself that all professional writers talk in terms of their canon — the collected works, the series, the sequels, the different books in different genres. Professional writers are never just about the singular work. Everyone has a first novel, sure. Everyone has the novel they really want to work on right now. But none of that stops you from digging into the second novel, or thinking about where you want an overall series to go, or working on the short story idea that some bit of research into your current novel inspired. 
2) Watch out for the all-consuming projects. You have a novel, a screenplay, an epic poem that is the Most Important Thing you’ve ever conceived or will ever work on. But it’s an unfortunately short walk from the Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Work On to the Only Thing You’ll Ever Work On Over Fifteen Successive Drafts. And if you’re only working on one thing, you leave yourself open to stop working on it at some point. Give your creativity free reign. See point 1 and find other projects that interest or inspire you, and keep them going alongside the all-consuming project. 
And while you do: 
3) Stay passionate. No matter what you’re working on, no matter how easy or difficult the writing gets at any particular time, try to stay in a place mentally and emotionally where you can remind yourself why you love what you’re working on. Don’t ever let yourself get to a place where finishing something becomes simply an obligation of business as opposed to a mission of love and satisfaction. And if you get to a point where it’s tough to remember why you love Project A because Project A is becoming a pain in your ass, go back to point 1 and channel your love into Project B. At some point, Project A will come back to you, all sheepish and sorry and asking forgiveness, and it’ll all be just like when you fell in love the first time. 
4) Watch out for research, outlining, and editing. I love research, outlining, and editing. I work as an editor and story editor alongside my writing, and always will. I’m the most passionate evangelist for outlining you’ll ever meet, and nothing excites me more of an evening than jotting down novel-setting notes from a good book on medieval history. (Okay, a few things do excite me more. You know what I mean, though.) But be very wary if your love of outlining and research, or your process of editing and revision on a previous work, becomes so central to your creativity that it’s keeping you from actually writing your new work. Back to point 1 again — keep things moving; keep things in process. If it comes down to it, strike a bargain with yourself. No research on your historical novel until you crank out five hundred words of your new short story. For every five pages you write of your new book, you’ll let yourself take a break to edit a chapter of the last book. 
5) BONUS POINT! Kick writer’s block in the ass. The reason this is a BONUS POINT! is that if you do all the above, you’ve already kicked writer’s block in the ass. Because here’s a secret, gleaned from long years of painful experience. Writer’s block isn’t about the ideas fleeing from you, because ideas aren’t hatched wholly from within. Ideas are generated at the interface between the writer and the work, and so writer’s block is about being unable to engage with the work in a way that lets the ideas come to you. 
Writer’s block is a thing that hits us when we nail ourselves down to a single project. When we lose sight of why that project is worthy of our passion. When we deny ourselves the creative freedom of having other projects ready to jump into. Creativity is a process of movement, and writer’s block is the inevitable outcome of only allowing yourself to travel down a single road. But there are always other ways to move forward, and if your road is blocked, just back up and take the previous left. Set aside the novel that’s giving you problems and work on your other novel. Shift it into four-wheel drive and go off-road for a while. Start outlining the novel you really want to right but just can’t imagine tackling because its subject matter seems so daunting. Abandon the car entirely and hike. When you’re jammed up on your ultra-serious book, get out a blank piece of paper or open a new document and start working on the most slapstick short story imaginable. As long as you know the place you want to go, you’ll get there in the end. 
So how do I have all these bits of dubious wisdom at my disposal? Because as a writer, I’ve done my fair share of stopping. When I first started out as a professional writer, I was fortunate enough to break into screenwriting, which I enjoyed and which paid pretty well — so I stopped writing fiction. (This is a process known to many screenwriters, and which some refer to as “the velvet rut.”) 
When I was screenwriting, I fell into the terrible trap that a lot of screenwriters fall into, deciding that my creativity was being wasted if it wasn’t making me money. I had a lot of projects fall by the wayside in those days because even though I loved them, I couldn’t get the people in charge of the option and development money to love them as much as I did. So I stopped working on them. 
When I finally got back into writing fiction shortly after I got tired of screenwriting, I set myself a traditional course with an eye on getting an agent, getting a publisher, and all that. And when those things didn’t happen as quickly as I wanted them to, I stopped. 
Since taking the leap into indie writer-publishing, I don’t stop anymore. I write. I work as an editor and story editor, and I confab with like-minded practitioners of fantasy and speculative fiction whose work inspires me to get better. To keep going. To always look beyond the end of the current project to the next project. 
To never stop.
AWESOME post, SCOTT!!

Be sure to visit Scott at his website and check him out!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tips To Pay It Forward To Other Authors

We spend so much time promoting our own novels, we sometimes forget that we have some really great author friends who also have novels they would like promoted.



I'm a big fan of PAYING IT FORWARD. I mean TRULY paying it forward! The kind of paying it forward when you help someone without expecting anything back!

Here are some tips from an AUTHOR'S point of view:

1) AMAZON
Go to your friend's novel and click the like button. The more 'likes' they have, the more visual they become for more readers to find them. Don't ask me how algorithms work...they just do.

If you have read their book and agree with their tags, go ahead and tag them too.

As a reader, you can create a LISTMANIA LIST. Add your favorite authors to it. This helps new readers find new authors, your friend's book! Be sure to TAG and LIKE books that you do like by your author friends. 

2) TWITTER
Give your friends a shout-out or two on the day of their release and be sure to link to their book so it will be easy for your tweets to find.

3) FACEBOOK
On the day of your friend's release, be sure to give them a shout-out on your Facebook pages.

4) BLOGS
If your writer friends have blogs, be sure to follow their blog. It's always fun to share their blogs with their target audience.

Tell me, how do you pay it forward?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shameless VS Shameful Self Promotion

Confession time!

I LOVE MARKETING AND PROMOTING! I love teaching other writers how to market and promote. What I teach is hopefully the shameless type of self promotion. not SHAMEFUL self promotion.

When we release a book we really want to sell 1,000 copies the first day out, or more. We spend all our time refreshing the page to see if we even sold one or ten within the last time we had refreshed the page. Or as a traditional author, you try not to obsess on checking the stats.

When you don't see the numbers you want. . .PANIC SETS IN!

What do you do? You rush to Twitter and tweet your release a few times, head over to Facebook and update your status (for the tenth time) that your book released that day, you send out mass emails to your writer friends and beg them to promote your book.

STOP!!! Move away from the social-media. Step away from the computer. RETHINK your SHAMELESS self promotion that will effectively help you sell more books!

1) Do you have an opt-in newsletter on your website or blog? I do! And I have over 600 people who have subscribed to it. Creating a newsletter about your new release and sending to your subscribers is a great way to spread the word.

They opted in to receive your news, so they obviously want to know what's going on with your writing career. Do NOT email everyone in your contacts from your email list, only your opt-in list.

2) Do you belong to Facebook groups that allow you to post promotions? Be sure to visit those groups on the day of your release. When you receive a notification that someone left a comment, DO NOT go in right away and comment back a thank you, wait.

Why wait? Because every time you comment on a group page, it brings that update back up to the top of the group page. If you have three comments about your release from others, go in and thank each one, but make sure you thank them an hour apart. This way your release status you posted earlier in the day continues to go to the top of the group page and is visible to the group throughout the day and doesn't get lost.

DO NOT send a group message to your writer friends on Facebook to ask them to spread the word! That's rude and completely SHAMEFUL!

3) Do you belong to any tribes on Triberr? Of course you do! So yes, on the release day you can use your blog to promote your release. When you belong to a tribe on Triberr, your post will automatically go to your tribes where your tribe team will help get the word out. BUT you have to be sure that you are participating and paying it forward on your tribe too.

4) A great way to get the word out about your other novels is to make sure you put a plug in the back of each book. If the reader bought your book, they will be interested in knowing what else you have out there. Or if you have a PR BUDDY that you trust for LIFE, ask them if they would like to promote their novel in the back of your novel and vice-versa.

5) Be sure to watch your Twitter feed throughout your release day. If someone mentions you, be sure to tweet them back and thank them "for mentioning my new release A Charming Cure". The tweet will go in their streams and that is NOT SHAMEFUL self promotion.

By watching your manners, doing SHAMELESS promotion will not only make you stand out from all the other authors out there, you are building on your image of an amazing author with great marketing techniques that work!

Do you have any SHAMELESS promoting tips to add?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is Self-Publishing For You?


I wanted to continue the blog with the self-publishing theme. We have all had to come to a cross-roads in our publishing career. Whether it's starting out as a traditional author and deciding to self-publish novels you have your rights back to, completely self-publish, self-publish along with traditional publish, or even traditional publish while letting your agent's self-publishing model publish your shorts (we will talk about this on Monday), everyone's experience is different.

I have to say that I have never heard one self-published author say a negative word about the benefits of self-publishing after they have done it. Granted it takes a little bit of a learning curve to self-publish correctly, but the benefits out-weigh the freight they have when they first thought of the idea of self-publishing. 

I was excited to get an email from self-published author, Seumas Gallacher! Seumas has made some great strides and paved the way for many self-published authors! His thriller novel, The Violin Man's Legacy reached the UK's number 3 best seller list! 

Seumas was rejected many times but held true to the words of his hero, Winston Churchill: NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

Please let me welcome Seumas to my little ole blog today and how he discovered his journey to self-publishing. 

I'm going to be giving away a Kindle copy of his latest novel, Vengeance Wear Black to one lucky comment!!  


…I don’t care what they’re sayin’ about me, just so long as they’re sayin’…


 
She gave her name to the flotation ring for shipwrecked mariners, and that had nothing to do with her Olympic swimming prowess, but more with the triple-alphabetic measurements of her upper body underwear…she gave us the innuendo of the pistol-in-the-pocket guide to allure of the opposite sex…her response to the young buck waiter’s question when he asked, while pouring her a Scotch, “When”, was simply “When? Just as soon as I’ve finished this drink!”…the unforgettable Mae West, as sassy a broad as ever strode across the old cinema screens…

A hundred years ago to the date, she was already a megastar in vaudeville and well on the path to film stardom too…So what’s that got to do with us, and with social networking?…

Elementary my Dear Watsons all…she knew about ‘buzz’…about getting the message ‘out there’…and it wasn’t flyers stuck on the wall in supermarkets…she was everywhere that it mattered… Familiar yet? 

I am a late recruit to the insane band of scribes who derive pleasure from creating things with words…worse than that, I’m probably the worst type of computer Jurassic on the planet…I bought my first ever laptop four years ago, and even had to learn how to switch it on (seriously!).

Social networking meant a couple of pints down the pub with my mates, and a business cocktail party or three. 

My word, how that’s changed!

I climbed aboard that wonderful pink cloud we all find on finishing my first ever novel over three years ago, then I was off to make my fortune in print. Right? Yeah, right. 

We all know how that works don’t we? Forty agents letters equaled precisely forty rejection slips in very short order. Then along came the miracle. The epiphany. 

The avalanche of whispers in my business ear, as distinguished from my author-ly ear 'Self-publish'. 'Get on to Kindle'. 'You can’t push something into a void'. 'You need a market'. 'An audience'. 'A following'. 

Duh?? You mean, they won’t just turn up in millions and demand my work? 

What a bloody revelation. 

So started the sleeves-rolled-up campaign. The getting on to Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and insight of all insights, the miracle of blogging. 

God, I'm LOVING IT! And d’you know what? Even if nobody reads the darn things, I enjoy writing them! 

The side benefit has actually turned into the main benefit, namely the friendships and camaraderie I’ve discovered in this remarkably generous-hearted universal writers community. I wouldn’t swap it for quids.

My advice for what it’s worth to any author/writer/dabbler in words, is jump aboard and get immersed in this…it’s a blast. And always remember your manners.

Is there anything holding you back? Was self-publishing one of your career's greatest decisions?


Seumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called ‘bad old days’ which were really the greatest of days, where everybody was a real character of note.
 
An early career as a trainee banker led to a spell in London, where his pretence to be a missionary converting the English fell on deaf ears.
 
Escape to the Far East in 1980 opened up access to cultures and societies on a global scale, eventually bringing the realization that the world is simply one large extended village.
 
The lifelong desire to write resulted in THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, the first in a planned series.
 
Seumas' sequel novel, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK was launched on Kindle in early July 2012, with three other books to follow in the same vein.

You can find Seumas all over the web: 

Twitter: @seumasgallacher