I’ve been a voracious reader over the past few months. Now, since I’m a writer, I expect you to think I read for pleasure all the time, but the truth is, many times I’m either editing unpublished manuscripts for work or reading fellow author friends’ material (awesomesauce), while also picking up a book here and there for research, while also working on my own books. But lately, I’ve been doing all the above, plus reading every YA novel I can get my hands on.
Want to know the most common questions I get as an author? Well, here they are!
What is the first book that made you cry?
The first book that made me cry is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’m not a crier, really! It takes a log to make me cry, so when I do, you know the book is an emotional roller coaster. Not only the book, but the movie is a tearjerker too! For once, I liked the movie and the book equally, which isn’t something I say lightly.
Let’s talk about inciting incidents! Revising one of my old manuscripts, I realized it was missing something. It’s a manuscript written years before I learned the important details of writing a good book. Why does that matter? It was missing a strong inciting incident. This scene forces the protagonist on a new path and gives the reader something to anticipate. It hooks the reader for the first time!
What’s your destiny? I used to think mine was to travel the world and physically help people (similar to Red Cross). But as life goes, my path moved, curved, and changed with time.
What constitutes a serious author? In my book, it’s a person who wants to make a living with their writing, and it’s also someone who takes the necessary steps toward publication (be it Traditional or Indie).
I was advised twice this week, in so many words, “If you’re ready to take your writing seriously (again), then ....” Ouch, right? One person who said that is a leader of an organization built for authors, and the other was an USA Today Best Selling author.
It happened. My newsletter list reached dangerously close to 2000 subscribers. Three months ago, I’d be ecstatic. This is a great problem to have, but once I reach 2000 people, I have to start paying for MailChimp’s service on a monthly basis.
Why Clean Your List
I don’t mind paying for a newsletter service if I thought it was worth it. But if my newsletters are reaching inactive subscribers, then why would I want to pay for those people to be on my list? So I decided to clean my list by removing all inactive subscribers.
Definition of inactive: A person who has received my last five campaigns, who has not opened all five of them, and who has not clicked on any links in all five of them. If this is the case, then they are not interested in my newsletter, and I DEFINITELY do not want to pay to have them on my list.
Short and sweet. It's close to the holidays, but I wanted to give you the results of how my promo ad with The Fussy Librarian turned out!
Promo Date Details
The KDP discount promo began running on Nov 29th. Though I used The Fussy Librarian to spread the word on the first day of my promo, I also placed a small Facebook ad. The days following The Fussy Librarian ad, I utilized newsletter swaps with 6 other authors. Overall, during the KDP promo that lasted from Nov 29th – Dec 5th, I sold 41 books (Scythe of Darkness)! Which means I profited $28.41 ([$0.99 x .70 royalty] x 41 books).
Kindle Promotion Choices
There are two choices when setting up a Kindle Promotion. You can make one of your KDP Select books free for 5 days, OR you can discount the price of a book for up to 7 days. This is a choice made separately for each book; it doesn’t affect them all at once.
You can toggle with the price to fluctuate throughout the 7-day period, but I suggest you keep your book at one price the entire 7 days. By doing this, it makes it easier to cross-promote with other authors, and I’ll explain why below.
Paid Advertising for eBooks
I’ve been looking forward to writing this post! Albeit, I was hoping for better results.
eBook Marketing Services
One month ago, I had a bit of extra money, and I used that money to reserve a promo spot with BargainBooksy. Why them? I regularly listen to many podcasts that offer tips on writing and publishing. From those recommendations, I discovered these paid marketing sites: FreeBooksy, BargainBooksy (FreeBooksy’s sister site), and BookBub. Any author can use them. These sites offer book marketing for self-published authors as well as traditionally published authors.
For BargainBooksy, all I had to do was reserve my spot and submit the requested material (summary, [discounted] price), money etc). The process was simple. The allure of using them meant even though I didn't have a huge fan base, they did. And they would place my book in their daily newsletter that targets a specific genre of readers. The day my promo ran, my book was 8th in line of 12 other books in their newsletter. That’s A LOT of discounted books to compete against. Here’s what my promo looked like:
Yesterday, launch day for Scythe of Darkness, my book skyrocketed to the Top 30 in two Amazon categories. One of the steps that’s not listed below is the video ad that I created for my book. I posted this ad on my Facebook profile and page, and it got numerous shares. From there, accompanied with the 10 steps, my book had a great launch.
Below are the 10 steps that I took to launch my book.
This morning, I sent a press release to three local news stations. Will they do anything with the PR? I don’t know, but it couldn’t hurt. To view this release, click here. Maybe it’ll help you with yours.
I first came across a LIVE video feed when I was on Instagram.
Up to this point, I had done a couple of LIVE videos on Twitter, but after being involved with one on Instagram, I realized I went about them all wrong.
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.
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
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.
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 was 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.
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, your group will be 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 I write in. And the idea is for the group to be filled with similar 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.
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.
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'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
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