Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance Books.
Having an ARC of your book and finding readers go hand-in-hand. As an indie author, it's all up to me. And if you're reading this, then you're probably in the same boat. So how did I find readers for my book? Well the process started months in advance. Here are the five steps that I followed.
2-4 months prior to the release of my book, be it through Facebook or Twitter (for me, I used Twitter more), I began following Book Bloggers that I thought might be interested in reading a copy of my book. For weeks and months, I actively communicated with them, either by retweeting their posts or commenting on a book they were reading. This is important! Be GENUINE. Communicate on a personal book-reading level. I kept track of the bloggers I followed until I reached a 100.
CreateSpace Expanded Distribution
One of the complicated decisions for me when I chose to publish through CS, was to decide whether or not to choose the Expanded Distribution option. It's free, but it means the price of my book will have to increase. So is it worth it?
In my opinion, the only advantage I see is that my book would be available for libraries to purchase. However, after talking to a librarian, just because my book is available doesn't mean that they will purchase it or even know to search for it. The library in my town finds books numerous ways. One is by attending a Texas Authors Conference, and another is by looking for recommendations in Voya magazine. From there, they purchase books through Baker & Taylor.
Writing Chapter One can be tricky. I’ve been there. I’ll be there again.
With each new book, crafting that opening scene is hard. After reading it over and over, my mind is left a jumbling mess. No matter how many people read my manuscript, I still question myself, but the process has become easier with time.
I searched the top 6 books on Amazon, the category: Amazon Best Sellers in Teen and YA Books. I thought it would be interesting to look at their opening lines, as well as their opening scenes. Do they have anything in common?
For more tips and advice, check out my interview with ML Keller in the YouTube video below. Her nickname is "The Manuscript Shredder.” She observes tons of opening pages and critiques them. During the interview, she gives a prime example of what not to do, plus how to fix it.
The Top 6 Books
Below is an interview with the cover artist for my book. If you ever wondered what's involved in the process of finding a designer, you can find answers in the interview below. Ammonia Book Covers is who I hired to design my cover for Scythe of Darkness.
I know how scary it can be for a new author to find a cover, sometimes wondering if the artist on the other end of the internet is real, hoping that you're not about to be scammed. Yvonne Nikolova with Ammonia Book Covers is very much real, and she was efficient when answering my inquiries.
As an indie author, I have to be up-to-date on the latest news regarding publishing. Two of the most important pieces of advice boil down to picking a category for your book, and choosing the keywords for said category. This post is in reference to publishing on KDP, however, I'm using the same strategy for other digital platforms as well.
Why do Keywords Matter?
While building a book on the KDP site, you are given the option to pick 7 keywords. But what you may not know is that these keywords coincide with the categories you choose. According to KDP, this enables your book to be listed under certain sub-categories.
Proofreaders shouldn’t be mistaken as an editor. Proofreaders should be reserved to read the polished manuscript (after it's been thoroughly edited) in the months/weeks prior to publishing.
As an indie author, my job is to find an editor AND proofreaders, because nobody else is going to do that for me. This is the business side of the process. At least that’s how I think of it.
If a reader begins reading my book and finds themselves pausing over mistakes here and there, their opinion of my work will not be as good. Which means they're less likely to eagerly share my book with their friends. And word of mouth is a huge part of reaching new readers.
You can find the corresponding YouTube video at the bottom of this post. The information below is for indie writers who are using Microsoft Word to format their print books.
Using Times New Roman is a sure way of shouting “newbie” when publishing your book. Did I use this when I published my first book? I hope not. Either way, I definitely won’t be using it for this new one, Scythe of Darkness.
By searching through other books in the similar genre, I was able to get an idea of the type of font they used. I chose Garamond, 12pt, for the body. This font size combined with the margin spacing created the perfect amount of words per line that I was aiming for.
You can also access this information by watching my YouTube video at the bottom of this post.
It took a lot of research to have my paperback book formatted. My goal is for it to look and feel as professional as the traditionally published books.
For the printed version, I’ll be using CreateSpace. I wasn’t sure where to begin in regards to formatting the interior, so first I searched online and found this PDF Submission Specification form. It covers everything from the interior to the exterior in regards to formatting.
The editor that I hired for my book was Kelly Hopkins. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a professional editor.
A true editor is going to turn your manuscript into a beautiful piece of work. Now, my book flows smoothly in such a way that it hadn't before.
Prior to editing, my manuscript had been revised many times, but it still wasn’t the best it could be. Being an indie author means that I have to make sure my books are up to par with the others on the market, better even. If it’s not edited well, the reader won’t stay fully engaged with the story.
Pitch Wars is a wonderful contest that helps writers. Brenda Drake is the creator. To find out more, click here.
By entering the contest, I found a critique group that I’m still a part of today. The video at the bottom zooms in on this aspect more.
What is a Critique Group?
Mine is a group of writers that write in a similar genre as me. Which I’ve found works best. By partnering with other writers this way, the group is filled with people who are focused on what readers want in that particular genre.
Yes, I read in multiple genres, but I also read a ton within the one that I write in. And the idea is that the group I’m involved with is filled with writers doing the same. But even if your critique group is filled with writers of different genres, overall you want partners who know how to construct a story (pacing, characterization, character arcs, show vs tell, etc). These people aren’t just readers, they’re writers as well. They know what problems to look for and usually have suggestions on how to fix them.
I’ve created a YouTube channel that follows my journey to indie publishing my newest novel, Scythe of Darkness. This channel will be for other writers who are curious about the process. By watching the step-by-step videos, be it something big as marketing and promotion, to the tedious details of interior formatting or picking a genre-specific title, I hope that my journey will help you.
When launch day happens, I’ll share with you whether or not my new marketing strategy increased book sales, especially how it compares to the first time I released a book in 2013.
Writing a query letter can be tough. After all, there’s a ton of advice on the web. Below is an example of the query that I used for my book, Scythe of Darkness. When I was querying last summer, I had been using a different title: The Art of Kissing Death. So don’t be confused.
In the fall, I sent that query to a professional editor who revised it for me. This polished version is on the bottom. I didn’t query with this one until last January, but a couple of weeks later, I had decided that I wanted to indie publish my book instead. Of the 10 queries that I sent out in January, there was a small press interested, but they ultimately decided that my book was too dark for their taste. No problem. Because I do write dark and twisty things, so I understood. Either way, my book will be available in May/June. And I’m excited!
On a personal note, I just finished fixing the first round of errors in my novel. I’m waiting on feedback from two more proofreaders before completion. My heart raced while making corrections in three different formats.
In this post, I'm focusing on backstory and how it affects plot.
I learned a lot at the SCBWI Conference. And I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve never been to a conference like this. And it wasn’t too big, about 50 people in the audience, which meant I wasn’t a tiny spec in the crowd.
I had no idea what I would learn, but I had my pen ready.
I attended my first SCBWI Writers Conference this past weekend. I live in a small town, and chances like this don’t come around often. From what I was told, a local conference of this size is the first one to happen in many many years.
My goal for the conference was to learn as much as possible. It was a broad goal. I also had the chance to meet with an agent, pick her brain, and receive a critique for the first ten pages of my manuscript, Kissing Death.
The other day, I came across a tweet where someone was told they weren’t a writer. The writer’s response: Are you not a breather?
Yesterday, my mom informed me that she started writing a book again, one that she’s been writing off and on for two years. But she whispered to me that she didn’t think she could write it, because she doesn’t have a college education. My response, who cares if you don’t have a degree. She said that her grammar isn’t great. I told her, “That’s what editors are for.” If you want to write a book, then write it.
If you are reading this and have toyed with the idea of writing but are scared. Well, I’m here to give you permission to write your damn book. Don’t wait for someone to make you feel “more than.” If you’re waiting, then you might be waiting forever. The only way to be a writer, is to write.
Every author starts somewhere, and every author has been on the roller coaster in Writersville. We’ve all had the little voice in the back of our heads telling us that we can’t do something. I hear it weekly. But then I write anyway.
I’m hanging off the edge, deciding whether or not to indie publish Kissing Death. I’ll make a final decision after I attend the writing conference this weekend. My goal is to put the book in your hands, because I’m dying for you to read it! And if my muse allows, I’ll publish another novel six months after that.
While weighing the decision (I’m a Libra, can you tell?), I’ve been searching for book cover designers. I found one cover that’s absolutely beautiful. If I choose the indie route, this is the one I’m leaning toward. I can’t reveal the cover to you just yet.
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes info for Kissing Death.
While you think on that, help choose a tagline for my book (to get the anagram answer, cast your vote below).
If I indie publish, this tagline will go on the cover. You can help decide which one! After you vote, comment with your name and email address, letting me know you voted. When the book is available, your name will be added to a drawing for a chance to win a free signed copy.
WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK: Every book contains a theme, sometimes multiples. Knowing your book's theme can help keep you on track when creating the "big picture" plot. For a list of themes by Grace Fleming, click here. Using the theme is also helpful for taglines.
I've always felt deep down that my dream is to secure a traditional publishing deal. This means waiting months/years for an agent to pick my book, waiting for said agent to submit my book to a publisher, and then anticipating the day that the publisher chooses to release that book.
But as I wait and write more stories, I can't help but listen to that little voice whispering, “Get your book out in front of readers now.” Meaning indie publishing. The one thing that's stopping me is knowing that I made the wrong choice before, years ago when I was a newbie writer.
So which voice do I listen to? I’m no longer a newbie. And this is the question that won't leave me alone.
The book this post is referring to is Kissing Death. Not only has it been revised and given to an Editor to make it shine, but the feedback from people who have read it is what placed this itchiness to publish in my veins.
Being a writer, I’m constantly learning, whether it’s from reading/writing more, or listening to podcasts with advice from other writers in the position to give advice. Podcasts such as Book Launch Show, The Creative Penn, and Writing Excuses. If you haven’t already, add these shows to your list of amazingness.
Right now, I'm waiting on eight replies from agencies that I queried toward the end of January. I also sent a couple of submissions to small publishing houses that accept un-agented inquiries. I'd love to have an agent, someone that knows this side of the business better than I do. Or nab a deal on my own with a publishing house. But an agent has the right connections and they're basically a specialist in this arena. The right agent works hard for the author they represent.
Meanwhile, while I wait for their replies and maybe submit to a few more, I'm putting together a marketing plan and searching for book cover designers. I'm the type of person that likes to plan for all scenarios.
Writing Tip: Listen to those podcasts mentioned above. Writing Excuses is a panel of writers with tons of advice about different elements of writing.
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I’m thrilled to share with you a project that I’m working on right now!
It'll be a self-help guide for Stay At Home Moms, How-To Write Your First Book (Workbook Style). The idea came to me last month, and it never left. That’s when I knew I had something worth exploring further.
There’s many How-To books out there, but most are written with the notion that the reader already has some knowledge in the writing field. Eight years ago, when I began my writing journey, I had ZERO knowledge, which is why I made hundreds of mistakes. I’ve spent years honing my craft and reading and writing, and reading and writing more. I have one published book, and have written a handful of others that are still in my drawer; I learned a ton from writing these, and then moved on to writing the next.
My non-fiction book will be a step-by-step guide for moms (or stay at home dads) that have been thinking about dipping their pen into the writing arena, but don’t quite know where to start. I’ve written about 20 pages so far.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in reading, subscribe to my email list for updates.
Next week, I’ll reveal more about a young-adult book that I’m in the middle of writing as well. If Ten Things I Hate About You had a book-baby with Sixth Sense, mine would be the creepy offspring.
I started querying THE ART OF KISSING DEATH (young-adult urban fantasy) last summer, before it was ready. At the time, I thought it was as good as it could be. But once I entered an online contest, I gained great critique partners who write in the same genre. From there, my book was revised 2-3 more times, and then handed to an editor. I officially began querying the polished version in the middle of January. So cross your fingers! Enter the poll below. I’m thinking of shortening the title. Please vote and help me decide!
Writing Tip: First Chapter Do’s and Don’ts
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I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by talented writer, Phyllis A. Still.
*Download my favorite recipe below.*
I haven’t met Phyllis in person yet, we’re more social media buddies. She messaged me one day after her daughter noticed my website-decal on the rear window of my Expedition. I was momentarily in East Texas, driving to Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma for a kayaking trip. Somewhere along the way, my car was spotted. And from there, we’ve stayed in contact ever since. Phyllis is the author of the Dangerous Loyalty series. Here’s a little more about her.
Phyllis A. Still
I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother, living my dream as an author in a small East Texas town.
7 THINGS ABOUT ME THAT AREN’T IN MY BIO
8. My favorite recipe to cook is Cajun one. For the recipe, click here.
THE RULES FOR NOMINEES
Writing Tip: Which Versus That
Being straightforward, blogging terrifies me. Why do I find it scary? I like to write books, but that process is a roller-coaster all by itself and will be reserved for another day. But when I write a story—after being drafted and re-drafted—it’s read by beta readers and critique partners, and then revised numerous times before seeing an editor. A blog isn’t. Blogging allows the public to see my imperfections, my personal life (which I enjoy keeping separate ). I’m not the best at grammar and I don’t really know what I’m doing. So remember this, just because you may find errors or ramblings about a ridiculous subject, these mistakes don’t reflect my books.
I tried starting a blog twice before, but then I realized it was taking too much time away from drafting and reading, so I stopped. I needed to make most of the time I had and spend the rest of my day with my family. Third time's a charm, and that’s exactly what this new journey of blogging is.
I’ll be posting weekly rambles and notions about Gawd knows what else. Being a Libra, I pride myself on a well-balanced nature. I see all sides of an argument, and that hinders me from making decisions sometimes. At the end of each post, there will be a Writing Tip.
Don’t forget to subscribe for updates.
Weekly Writer Tip: Brenda Drake's Contest Schedule for Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars
Great Tool for Writers