Tag Archives: indie author

Why is the time all gone?

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Summer is nearly half over… I’m trying to let that sink in. In fact, since I leave for Andros on August 7, get back the 17th, then leave for Uganda September 12, I think we can say it’s more than halfway done. That’s depressing, because I love summer! And I had big plans… *sigh*

This weekend, I’m holing up with two friends for a girls writing weekend (and author photo shoot!). I need it! I’ve written some on Darian’s War, but not nearly what I’d hoped by this time. It’s not so much that I’ve been procrastinating, it’s just that there are other priorities. My husband and I spent five days away, ALONE. What???? Yep, five days, no kids, no pets. So yeah, I wrote. But not so much. The August trip is for a youth camp with 50 kids, so that’s taking some time to organize. I’ve got to get visas for the Uganda trip, and (of course) I lost the passport photos I had, so we had to go do them again. I’m setting up an online store that has a bit of a time-dependent deadline. I am desperately trying to get back to exercise.

So all the time is leaking away, and I’m not where I wanted to be by July 9, 2013. And looking at the next month, I’m wondering if I’ll even get close. My hidden type-A is starting to panic a bit, while my outer type -B is passing it a beer. “Chill!” type-B says. “It’s summer!”

I love writing. I love talking about writing. I worked my fanny off over the last year and a half, and wouldn’t change a thing. But sometimes I think I forget how to breathe. The economy isn’t great and maybe I’m a bit panicked, and there’s this thing called momentum that I’m supposed to be riding. “Write the next book!” is great advice, and I followed it. I wrote and published six books in a year and a half. I have the final IXEOS started, a new Quinn planned for NaNo, and a couple of other ideas for early 2014.

And yet… It’s summer. Life is supposed to be slow. I don’t want things to pass by so fast that I don’t appreciate them. My daughter just got married – I want to take time with them while we all still live in the same city. My son is leaving for six weeks to Uganda in a month. I won’t see him for almost four weeks (until I get to Uganda myself), and he just gave his notice at his job so he can have some time off before he leaves. I want to enjoy his company while I have it. My husband will be doing some speaking events starting in August and September, so he’s going to be traveling. Well, we both will, but we seem to be filling all the calendar days with being gone, just not at the same time. So I want to spend as much time with him as I can before then.

The good thing about being an indie is that you’re the boss. You can decide when you’re going to write and when you’re going to work, not just what and how you write. The bad thing about being an indie (or self-employed in any way) is that you end up working all the time, or feeling guilty when you’re not. Time is spreading out behind me, and I can’t get it back. I’m making the conscious decision to grab it for the rest of the summer. Yes, I’ll get Darian’s War finished. Yes, I’ll keep up with the blog and the guest posts I’m doing for tours. But I’m going to breathe. I’m going to live. I’m going to work on my tan, feel the summer breeze in my hair, and spend as much time around saltwater as I can.

Summer 2013 is well under way, and we’ll never see her again. Let’s seize the moment!

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Self publishing, Writers Groups, Writing

Guest post from author Travis Simmons: Top 10 movies

Desolation blog tour

Today we welcome my fellow author Travis Simmons, who has just released his newest novel, Desolation, a zombie thriller. He’s going to share his Top Ten Favorite Movies with us. Don’t forget to enter the Giveaway for a Kindle Fire!

My Top Ten Favorite Movies

​I am not the type of person that stays up on the newest movies coming out. I rarely go to the theatre, I rarely watch TV to see previews. If a preview pops up on Facebook, that is how I see them. Often my sister will say she rented a movie and I will have no idea what she is talking about, even if it is a movie I wanted to see. BUT I do have my favorites, and they will show my true geek colors.

  1. Star Wars ~ I am sure many people will scoff when I say I didn’t like Star Wars until the newer ones came out. Honestly, when the original ones were out I was too young to even remember them. When my mother and brother used to watch them, I was too young to be interested in them. It wasn’t until the new ones came out that I realized what I had been missing.
  2.  Dune ~ I love the sci-fy channel version of this movie. The original one was silly to me because I haven’t read the books, and I the movie seemed to graze over important elements that would fill in the story for me. The sci-fy channel one had that detail in it that made you feel like you were actually watching a story of a different world.
  3.  The Wizard of Oz ~ I love this movie. It is one of my all-time favorites. I would be lying if I said I didn’t side with the Witch though.
  4.  Star Trek ~ This is the new ones. I think this series will go the way of Star Wars for me. I have only watched a couple of the old movies, and that was in response to how much I loved the newer ones. Into Darkness was just so amazing in my book.
  5.  The Little Mermaid ~ I get picked on for this movie all the time, but I really do love The Little Mermaid. When I was younger I wanted to donate my body to science so they could MAKE me a merman. Now I don’t want to do that, instead I will just have to write about them.
  6.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower ~ Awesome movie. In fact, I need to read the book after watching the movie. It just made me feel so happy and reminded me of friends and times past.
  7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show ~ I laugh every time I watch “Sweet Transvestite.”
  8.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch ~ It has been compared to Rocky, but I don’t think there is really any similarity. It was a movie my cousin recommended to me, and when I was first watching it all I could think was “What on Earth am I watching?” At some point during the movie (I can’t remember exactly when) I fell in love with it.
  9.  Interview with the Vampire ~ I loved this book, and I loved the movie. Surprisingly, it was one of the few Tom Cruise movies I enjoyed, and I think he did a great job as Lestat.
  10.  Legend ~ Yet another Tom Cruise movie I love. BUT I don’t like the uncut version with all the singing and dancing.

So those are some of my favorites. What are yours?

Travis Simmons author photo

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Is Self Publishing Really the Wild West?

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As an indie author, I try to keep up with trends in the industry. Since self publishing is so new, it seems like a “trend” is anything that’s been going on for a month or two, or at least that how it seems. There are some really good people doing some really good research into what’s happening in indie-author land, and these people are certainly more in the know than I am. You can read Joe Konrath’s blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Self-Publishing, and get a ton of really useful information, plus Joe is incredibly open about his sales figures. Dean Wesley Smith and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rush have very different ideas on self publishing than Konrath does, especially when it comes to offering (or not offering) free promotions. All of them are successful and full of information, and the indie author needs to take away what suits their personality, style, and willingness to work on areas other than writing.

I read this article yesterday written by Jane Friedman, which was posted in my Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) group, called “5 Industry Trends Requiring Every Writer’s Attention.” One of the suggestions is counter to most advice these days — she suggests that writers do NOT work to build a platform. Here’s the pull quote:

“If you’re a totally new, unpublished writer who is focused on fiction, memoir, poetry, or any type of narrative-driven work, forget you ever heard the word platform. I think it’s causing more damage than good. It’s causing writers to do things that they dislike (even hate), and that are unnatural for them at an early stage of their careers. They’re confused, for good reason, and platform building grows into a raging distraction from the work at hand—the writing.

Therefore, build your platform by writing and publishing in outlets that are a good fit for you, lead to professional growth, and build your network. The other pieces will start to fall into place. It might take longer, but who cares if you’re feeling productive and enjoying yourself? Go be a writer and take a chance on the writing. Writing and publishing good work always supports the growth of your platform—and I’m willing to bet more valuable platform building will get done that way, especially for narrative-driven writers.”

Today, Jane’s friend Dan Blank posted this article called “The Dirty Secret of the Author Platform (Hint: It’s Difficult)” and while he doesn’t totally disagree with Jane, he says this, “No one is more motivated to communicate the value of your book more than you, the author. Why should you consider building an author platform now? Because it takes time to develop meaningful relationships and trust with others.

Should this only be pursued by serious writers? Yes, because this is hard work. Establishing an author platform is about ensuring your book is not just “published,” but finds readers and has an impact in their lives. It is about thinking about a book beyond just an object whose effect is measured by a publication date or a point of sale. That the book is something that lives in the hearts and minds of readers long after it is read.

This is what an author platform delivers.”

So… Platform or no platform? Free books or no free books? Sell only on Amazon, or put your book into every possible outlet the world over? These are only a few of the conflicting questions out there; they barely scratch the surface of the debate going on in this new wild, wild west arena of indie publishing. And don’t even get me started on the vast and varying opinions of Amazon and their ever-changing algorithms.

As a new author — my first book won’t be a year old until July — I can, at times, feel overwhelmed with all of this advice, certainty, even dogma. It’s a lot like when I first started homeschooling my kids. There was so much conflicting information out there, and everyone was sure that they were right. What I came to learn over the years is that a lot of them were right… For their own family and children. For mine? Not so much.

We have to sift through the vast, amazing, and generous treasure trove of shared information out there and seek out those nuggets that really speak to us. Just like we don’t all write the same books, we also can’t run our indie author business the same way. For some people, only listing their books for sale on Amazon works. 99% of their sales come from Amazon, the advertising and promotion outlets for any other book platform is sorely lacking to non-existent, and it’s one thing to check each day. For others, they can’t imagine not having their book on B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, iBookstore, their own website, and print copies available to drop off at libraries and independent bookstores within a two hundred mile radius of their house. They don’t look at low sales on any one channel as a nuisance, but rather see those small numbers adding up to large ones.

Neither one of these is wrong. The Amazon-only person is happy because they don’t have so much to keep up with, and (potentially) they can spend more of their time writing. The be-everywhere author is happy because there is virtually no corner of the globe where his or her book is unavailable.

The same goes for platform building. For me personally, I do three things: this blog, Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I am on Goodreads, too, but I check it about once a month. I find the site difficult to use both as a reader and as a writer, and, at least in my genres, the forums not very active. I do Giveaways on them periodically, and am thrilled they let me do that, and I accept all friend requests, but that’s about it. I joined Triberr and couldn’t figure it out. I get asked to do things on Linkedin all the time, but I have no interest there. Google+… I just don’t get it. I know there are other things that people have had great success with, but for me, either the learning curve is too high (like Triberr) or I just can’t get into it. Even the few things I do sometimes seem like too much work, so I’ve decided that I’m okay with my three things.

But if you love social media, and keeping up with a large author platform is fun for you, then you should do it! Just because I don’t, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Marketing and promotion? Same thing. Blog tours work for me. I know writing guest posts and doing interviews is a big time committment, but I genuinely love to teach and explain and clarify, and blogs let me do that much better than a 140 character Tweet. I don’t put a lot about my books on Twitter or Facebook, mostly just status reports on new projects and word counts, cover reveals, and free day promotions. The rest is about writing. I’m not great at selling things… hopefully, I’m okay at selling myself. I do paid advertising pretty aggressively, and spend a good amount of time on it. Could I find more free stuff? Probably. Honestly, it’s just too much work, when a guaranteed feature is only $5 on so many sites. But is it the wrong way to go? Absolutely not! Free is great when you can get it, and there’s a lot of ways to do it if you’re patient and persistent.

Okay, one caveat. Please, please, please… Do not use Twitter as a scrolling billboard. Honestly. I, and most others, will unfriend you. I try to retweet a couple of things a day, and sometimes it is next to impossible to find something, anything, that isn’t an ad. Do us all a favor (including yourself) and save 90% of your ads for places ads are supposed to go!

The bottom line? No matter what you do, success isn’t a sprint. As my fortune cookie so wisely said, “Success is a planned event.” And true success doesn’t come overnight. It comes with perseverance, with days and weeks and months, and yes, even years, of consistent work. It comes with writing the best books you can write, putting the best covers on them you can find, and doing the best you can to get it in the hands of readers. Amazon change their algorithms just before you were going to put your first book in KDP Select? If you have another book coming soon, do it anyway. It won’t generate a lot of follow-up sales these days, but you’ll get some people who love your work and will buy the next one. If someone tells you not to do it, and you still feel like it’s the right thing to do, then do it! What’s the worst that can happen? You get a bunch of free books into other people’s hands, and you tie up your ebook for 90 days with Amazon. That’s all. The sky won’t fall. The indie author police won’t come to your house.

Be brave and courageous, and stay true to yourself. After all, you published a novel! How awesome is that? You’ve already done an amazing thing by following your heart. Keep doing that, keep taking the advice that speaks to you, and forge your own path. You’re as unique as your book!

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The curse of the to-do list

First, confession. I am not an organized person. I am a creative, cluttered person who writes to-do lists and loses them, who has brilliant ideas and forgets them, and who has sterling intentions and gets distracted. Ask anyone in my family (especially my husband!) and they will confirm it.

The wonderful Calvin & Hobbes by Sam Watterson

The wonderful Calvin & Hobbes by Sam Watterson

So, with three books out now, a fourth scheduled for release in early 2013, a fifth being written, and a long 2013 goals list, I’m starting to panic. (Oh, let me add that I decided to clean up The Hoard of the Doges a bit — there are some typos and missing words, and that drives me NUTS after all the proofreading I did!) I haven’t had a “full time job” since I worked full time in our own business, about 17 years ago, other than a few months here and there to fill in or fix a crisis, so now that this writing endeavor is becoming full time and then some… Yeah, sometimes I have a bit of a freak out.

And here’s the thing about project people like me. I can set up a day planner or a calendar system or a to-do list (I can even set up the Teux Deux app on my phone) better than just about anybody. It’s perfect. It’s organized. It’s darn near pristine. It is a work of art!

And then I pretty much forget about it. The “project” was setting it up. Doing something – anything – day in and day out is definitely not my strong suit. I wait until I have 3 hours worth of ironing to start (hey, pop in a movie and iron away – it’s a pretty good workout!); I wait until every flat surface in my house is covered with papers and magazines and (inexplicably) my son’s size 13 basketball shoes before I go on a tidying frenzy; I don’t do much marketing until I spend about 20 hours over 3 days doing it.

So here’s the thing. At the ripe old age of 47, I need to grow up. (Bummer.) If I am to follow my vision and continue to be an author going forward, and if I am to actually write, produce, and sell books, I’ve got to start treating it like a full time job. I’ve got to dedicate time and stop surfing the internet (I do research for my husband ‘on the side’ which is a bit of a conundrum). I’ve got to guard the time I have as if I was working for someone else. I’ve got to focus, day in and day out. I’ve got to be the employee I always looked for and valued in my own business.

And that really pushes against my nature. There’s a reason that we’ve been self-employed all these years. There’s a reason that I homeschooled my kids. There’s a reason that I have thousands of dollars worth of art supplies sitting around. I’m not disciplined and organized and able to compartmentalize my life. I’m not the 9-5 type. I’m not the dedicated employee of my dreams. At least not naturally.

But now I realize that I really have to be. This isn’t so much a New Year’s Resolution post/thought as it is a “What Color Is Your Parachute” one. (I remember reading that book in my twenties and being completely flummoxed!) I am, albeit accidentally, now living my dream. I have found my passion. I can see books out in the distance as far as I can see. But my current state of laissez-faire about the hours in my day isn’t going to get me where I want and need to be. It certainly won’t allow for much more to be added to my plate, because my plate is currently looking more like one of those soggy paper plates that collapse as soon as you put the pot-luck spaghetti casserole on it.

I’m not good at following through on boring daily stuff. (Yes, I do brush my teeth. And I journal. Other than things that my family depends on, like cooking and grocery shopping, those are literally about the only things I do every single day.) But I have to grow up now, because if I don’t, the death of my dream will fall squarely on the embarrassing fact that I was… okay, let’s just put the word out there… lazy. Unmotivated. Unable to take what is truly a driving passion and harness it.

There would be some benefits to actually getting a handle on my daily schedule. I would probably get my nights and weekends back (or mostly). I could probably put an end to the panic attacks when I am supposed to be doing something — or think I’m supposed to be doing something — and I’m not able to. I might even be less grouchy about editing. Okay, no. That’s a bit optimistic. But you see my point.

So, after, well, 47 years, I’m going to try. I mean really try, not the “oh, this planner is really cute, and I’m sure I’ll be soooooo organized if I buy it and put everybody’s birthdays in it!” kind of try. This is the announcement of actually trying to force myself into a full-time job mindset. The upside is, my job is being a writer. How cool is that? It’s way better than any job I’ve ever had (mom and wife don’t count). I don’t have to have any employees, I don’t have to pay for an office, I don’t even have to get dressed in the morning!

I’ll let you know how it goes. I got my (latest) day timer inserts for 2013 yesterday, and dusted off my old red leather case. I have a marketing calendar, and I’m pretty much done through February. The rest of December will be doing the things I already have scheduled, going on a much-needed vacation with my family, and Christmas, and I plan to be gentle with myself. But we’re having a family meeting during that time, and I’m going to make the announcement: I now have a full time job. Hopefully they’ll all be on board!

How about you? Are you the creative, cluttered, disorganized type, or the to-do list lover? Are you thinking about a change of perspective for 2013? Maybe we can encourage each other over tea!

NOTE:  Several commenters have taken this post as being hard on myself. I’m really not. I am pretty happy with myself overall, but I have now identified something that can keep me back from where I want to go, and this is meant to (start to) address that. As a 5th generation Floridian who grew up sailing, I’m pretty laid back. That’s not going to change — it’s not possible! But I think everyone can improve, adapt, adjust, and possibly exert a tad more discipline on ourselves, without changing into Mr. Hyde. Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

The wonderful Author Marketing Club (subtitle: Marketing makes me crazy!)

I have been doing a LOT of work on marketing, trying to get my free day promos set up, ads for days following the free days set up, ads for things having nothing to do with free days set up… Basically, I’ve been trying to get all my marketing set through January, and a good start on February — this is because a) I re-enrolled Solomon’s Throne in KDP Select due to their lovely bonus money (aka bribe), and b) I have a new release set for late January and need to be able to focus.

I linked to a lot of sites, both paid and free, in this post on marketing the other day. This weekend I’ve found another, called the Author Marketing Club. One fabulous thing about this site (which, of course, I didn’t discover until I’d done a ton of digging myself) is that you can post your free book days to other sites directly from their site. They have links to about 20 sites that feature free books, including their own. One stop shopping – and trust me, if you knew how long it took me to dig up the sites I listed in my most recent marketing post, you’d realize how valuable this is!

What are some other things you can do?

  • Upload your book trailer and get reviews on it. I am in the process of being in the process of getting a book trailer done, so this is awesome.
  • Get a crash course in book marketing. They have videos and articles posted on the site to help you start marketing, correct your marketing if it’s not producing results, and how to build your author platform. Again, if I’d only found this a few months ago, I’d have saved a TON of time!
  • Participate in forums. You can ask for reviews, and chat about tricks and tips for Amazon. Indie authors are an amazing group of people, always so willing to share what works and what doesn’t, so the more input you get, the better.
  • Have your book featured. The Author Marketing Club has an email list of some 3,000 subscribers, and you can have your book featured in those emails. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot more people than I have on my email list!

I’m new to the site, so I’m sure there’s much more to discover, but I can already see that this is going to be a valuable resource. And it’s FREE! I love free!

Let me know if you find any other great marketing sites, either for advertising books, or for how-to’s. I’m putting together my own crash course!

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