A Newbie\’s Guide to Publishing: Reality Check

A Newbie\’s Guide to Publishing: Reality Check.

Awesome post by J.A. Konrath about what to expect with self publishing and what you need to be willing to give!

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Get to work, Ms. Shea

Ah, the power of a review…I just read the second review left about my book Elementary Magic and the parting comment was: “Get to work, Ms. Shea”.  I am happy to report that I am indeed getting to work (and have been, faithfully) and am planning on releasing Destructive Magic in early summer…I would put my deadline here, but I have commitment issues about those things (and that’s a whole different blog post!).

That brings me to the point of this entry:  Why we write as indie authors.  The positive feedback does more to spur us on than anything could – but when we stare at the blank screen, with fingers hovering over the keys, the little voice in our head whispers “but what if it’s not good enough?”

Yet we push that aside and we write…because we just have to get the story out.  We write to the exclusion of everything else in our daily lives, we write our way out of bad moods (or into them), we stuff down the frustration and the sense of pressure to finish the manuscript.  But finish it we do.  Then we heave a sigh of relief and experience the angst of editing, followed by the nervous rush over publishing, and the anxiety of waiting for the reviews.  But we write…because the story keeps us up at night and we feel we have something to offer.

So here’s the therapy for today:  Get it out!  Whatever the story is, put it down on paper or type it on your computer, but GET IT OUT and don’t worry about the outcome…yet.  It’s a first draft (or a third) and the only person who is ever going to truly know if it’s done/perfect/what you planned is YOU.  Nobody (except your characters) lives in your head, and if you don’t write it and take that chance you will forever wonder if you should have, could have, would have been successful.

With the brave new world of independent publishing, anyone has a shot.  I know that I have made two total strangers (and I hope a lot more) spend a few enjoyable hours with my story and because of that I will write furiously in the hopes of duplicating that.

Thank you if you read and enjoyed my book.  I enjoyed writing it. I’m enjoying the next one just as much…and it’s coming but now, I have to get back to work!

Publicity Experiment – 7 hours in cyberspace

Ah, spring is in the air and book sales have slowed.   I’ve been poking around the kindle boards, and decided that now is the time for action.   People have been discussing ebooks vs. traditional books and a few indie authors have generously admitted ebooks account for the majority of their sales.

Why would that be?  The answer is simple…they’re SIMPLE.  You can store all of your reading material on an ereader, you don’t have to go to a store to buy a new book, they’re reasonably priced, and there’s an endless variety of ways to score free books.  It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

With that being said, this is still relatively uncharted waters (for me, included).  It’s getting increasinly easy, though, and it seems like I’m finding new ways to market ebooks every time I go on the Internet.  Because of that, I’m increasing my presence in cyberspace in an effort to sell more books (because for every person who says they wrote a book for the self satisfaction, there are thousands of us who nod and think “and it’s nice to earn a little money off of it, too.”) and introduce readers to my work.

Here’s what I did over the past week:

1.  I went to www.indepentauthors.org and posted my book and commented on someone offering free reviews.  I then checked out the reviewer’s site and it looks legit. (I’m still considering that, though, because between writing, my “real life”, my other hobbies, and researching stuff for this blog, I’m a little too scattered to focus on that.)

2.  I went to the kindle boards and saw a plea for goodreads friends – sent a friend request to another indie author (no more feeling like the kid eating lunch alone in the cafeteria on goodreads!)  I have a friend!

3.  I also sent a link to someone on the kindle boards who was offering to give free reviews if they wanted to read your book.  I also commented on a few other topics on the boards because there’s a slew of us out there trying to figure this whole thing out.

4. I stumbled upon https://sites.google.com/site/1500authors  and submitted a link to my book.

5.  http://www.theindiespotlight.com filled out questionaire and will e-mail it back later this week.  It took me about an hour to complete it since I’m a perfectionist and wanted it to be in my “author voice”.

6.  Updated my goodreads pages and managed to finish off two books that I’ve been reading and posted reviews on Amazon (for one that was only available there) and the other on goodreads.

7.  Reblogged a great post by Kate Policani about posting free ebooks.

8.  Started formatting Elementary Magic so I can put it on smashwords when my “exclusive” with Amazon is up (May 12th it should be there!)

9.  Broke down and created a facebook page (Ug!).  I think it’s part of our culture and future and despite my earlier reluctance, you can now find me on facebook (I think, if I did it right).

10.  Updated my author page on Amazon.com.

I hope you found this helpful.  Keep writing!

Places to Post a Free Ebook!

Found a great post by Kate Policani! It’s great information and this is how we indie authors operate…if we’re sharing information, we’re changing the face of publishing…one indie author at a time.

Kate Policani

I looked around and found several places to post my free ebook! Here they are:

http://www.freebookspot.es/ This one I had trouble figuring out just how to get my book up. I skipped it to move to easier uploads.

http://www.getfreeebooks.com/

http://www.scribd.com/

http://www.globusz.com/

http://www.bookyards.com/

So call me a dunce, but I didn’t know you could upload books on Goodreads. Derp!

I also learned where to post videos on Smashwords. There is a link on your book page on the right side underneath the “total downloads”.

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Short Story: Choosing Sides – Part 2

Coyote walked down the still rain-shiny street with his hands in the pockets of his jeans and his nose lifted into the air.  He sensed the prickling before his awareness focused in on the presence.  He smiled and continued walking, a new lightness to his step.  He walked so casually, that he couldn’t resist the urge to try whistling…an art he had never quite mastered.

The air thrummed with the magic, for although the woman who tottered toward him on too-high heels looked anything but magical, she couldn’t disguise herself from those who shared her abilities.  She stumbled a little, caught her heel on the uneven pavement and leaned a hand against the brick wall of the building to steady herself.

Coyote was only five steps away from her, pretending not to notice.  The woman giggled and Coyote felt his face fall into a smirk.  He stopped mid-stride, three paces from her and checked his watch – realizing he wasn’t wearing one, he quickly manifested one on his wrist and tapped the face of it as one might do if he suspected the watch had stopped.

Tilting his head to the side as if perplexed, he took another two steps and tapped the watch again.  He held it to his ear to listen for the whispered tick-tick-tick.  From the corner of his eye, he watched the woman lean down and grab the heel of her shoe.  When she had freed her foot from the sling-back pump, she held it to her face and examined it closely.

“Damned shoes wobble…but they’re so pretty.”  She whined, wiping her arm across her forehead to brush the hair out of her eyes.  She staggered as if drunk.

Coyote continued to check his watch as he advanced on her.  In mid-stride, he quickly reached out and grabbed the woman’s wrist, pulling it to his face to peer at her bracelet.  It shimmered and became a watch.

“That’s odd.  Yours doesn’t work either, Kalali.”  He said, pulling the woman closer to him by her wrist and peering down into her wild eyes.

“They never work for me.  I only work for them.”  She spat, flinging her hair back over her shoulders and fixing him with a defiant stare.

“Perhaps you should find a new occupation, then.  It doesn’t look like they respect you very much, sending you out in the rain to track a Bokor.  It’s only a matter of time before they kick you out.  Ask the Bokor.  He’s experienced it.”  Coyote said, pushing her hair out of her eyes and watching her shiver with delight.

“You’re playing at a dangerous game.”  Kalali whispered.

Coyote noticed her eyes dart around, as if she were checking to make sure they were alone.

“This is no game, child.”  He said, setting his hands on her shoulders, but keeping her small form close to his.  “This is for our very survival.  If it were a game, they wouldn’t have bothered to send you to watch him.”

Kalali looked at him with such fear that for a moment Coyote expected her to just pop out of existence.  The minor fae were unpredictable like that.  One never knew what would happen with their kind.  It was odd the Alliance would send one to watch the Bokor.  Coyote smirked.  The Bokor had been contemplating something but Coyote had managed to insure that the Bokor was properly… inspired.  It hadn’t taken much of a push to do it.

Kalali remained silent, her eyes flickering with conflicting emotions.  Wordlessly, Coytoe pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her.  Channeling the energy into a loop that fed between the both of them, he soothed her while carefully burning out the traces of their conversation.  He felt her relax against him and he set her back against the building, propping her back against the rough brick.

She leaned there with a blank look on her face.  The shoe she had been complaining slipped out of her hand and dropped to the ground with a thud.  Kalali slid to the pavement, breathing steadily.

Coyote smiled down at her.  She had provided him with valuable information.  Her employer, The United Coven andAlliance must be worried about the Bokor, but not quite worried enough.  They’d been curious enough to send Kalali, but arrogant enough not to send one of their best.  Coyote shoved his hands back into his pockets and resumed his whistling, walking away from the crowded bar and the slumped woman.

The United Coven andAlliance had made three errors that night: They underestimated the Bokor.  They overestimated Kalali.  And most importantly, they didn’t even bother to consider a little divine intervention from one of the ancient ones.

Coyote smiled.  Yes, it was time to return to the old ways.  Bureaucracy doesn’t mix well with magic.

OMG – Facebook Experience Part 1

I’m pretty handy with a computer.  Not a day goes by that I don’t use one for the basic everyday tasks like writing or posting to this blog.  I can find almost anything through the Internet.  I’ve published a book and a short story on Amazon.com.  Family members call ME when they need (free) tech support.  I’ve set up a goodreads account, linked my blog to my author page on Amazon, and put my goodreads widget on this blog…yet for the life of me I can’t figure out Facebook.

How embarrassing!  I’m an educated person…I can drive, balance my checkbook and cook gourmet food but I can’t figure out how to find people on facebook???  I don’t have a little search box that lets me look for people and because of that, I’m trapped staring at my own page.

It’s tragic.  I managed to find one thing to like, but I can’t figure out how I did that…and I’m too frustrated to keep looking.  Am I the only one in the universe who gets in to facebook and starts drooling and babbling and smacking my forehead on the keyboard?  I’m going to be the only person in the world who can’t make a facebook friend and that is so sad because I’d be a good friend who would post nice things on people’s walls (whatever those are) but nobody will ever know that because I can’t find anyone!!!!

So I’m trapped and alone on a deserted facebook island with only myself to talk to…tomorrow I’m going to draw a face on a golf ball and call him “Noodle” just so I’m not lonely.

AND the problems I having are delaying the marketing post I’ve been promising because really, who would want marketing tips from the only friendless person on facebook?  I’d have to sell copies of my book to myself because I HAVE NO FRIENDS AND CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THEM!  I’m going to go console myself now – maybe I’ll call a friend because at least I know how to use a telephone.

Discouraged? Maybe…

I admit it…I’m a little discouraged today.  I was lurking on the kindle boards last week and saw several posts about April’s sales numbers being sluggish.  That made me feel a little better because I was thinking I was the only one whose sales nosedived after March ended (I noticed the drop immediately on April 1st, so I can time it to the day).  In an attempt to make myself feel better and drive sales up, I put the short story up for free this past Sunday.  There’s good news and bad news…

The good news:  It did relatively well with almost no push from me.

The bad news:  It did absolutely NOTHING for sales.  Nada!  I’ve checked every day (that would be two for those of you are paying close attention) and there are NO sales.  Hmmm…discouraging, yes…devastating…well, that sort of brings me to the point of this whole near-rant.

You see, I downloaded my own short story for free – it’s been a while since I read it and I read it with fresh eyes…and I really liked it.  I liked it better than half of the books I’ve downloaded from Amazon with the intention to review them.  Most end up archived or deleted because they just don’t grab me.  My story was good…entertaining, fast-paced, engaging…and yet: NOTHING.  So while I’m a bit discouraged that it didn’t surge ahead and sell me tons of books, it did serve another purpose.  It has made me take a hard look at what I’m doing to promote my book and what I could be doing better.  After all, I said from the beginning that this is a learning experience so I need to analyze what’s working and what’s not and change things.

If I submitted to a publisher, I’d no doubt get rejection notices (because nobody I’ve ever heard of got an immediate YES from their first submission).  So this is just part of the process.  I could give up, delete my half-finished stories or I can devote two hours every night this week to doing something to generate interest.  I’m choosing the two hours.  I’ll post here every night with my tactics and let you know how it’s going.

Oh, and if you’re following my blog – THANK YOU.  I’m hoping to ease someone else’s journey as I travel this precarious path.  Good luck all, and I’m off to figure out my next move.

Short Story: Choosing Sides

Coyote sniffed the air, flicked his ears, and felt the breeze ruffle his fur.  He padded down the quiet street with ears pricked forward and his bushy tail held high.  It would be a good night, of that he was certain.

The night air was damp, but nature had provided nicely for his comfort.  He felt the rush of adventure and his tongue lolled out because of his excitement.  Yes, this was the proper time, no matter what the others said.  The world had been ignorant far too long, and unless someone gave it a nudge the old ways would stay hidden in the shadows.

Coyote snorted.  It was time to regain some of the power and the only way to do that was to stop hiding and step out into the world once again.  Who better than he to dare such an undertaking?

He ducked into an alley, his paws making a soft noise on the pavement.  It had rained, and the dampness made all of the scents of the alley come alive.  Rodent and human smells caused his nose to twitch but he resisted the urge to follow any of the trails.  Slinking behind a tall trash bin, he shook his thick coat one final time and blinked before sliding effortlessly into his human form.

Running his hands through his thick dark auburn hair, he glanced down and realized he needed something more appropriate than the buckskin breeches he usually favored.  When he clad himself in appropriate jeans and soft cotton shirt, he stepped out from the alley and followed the noise of the crowd in the bar.

Why people found magic so distasteful was beyond him.  Once, a very long time ago, people told stories about his exploits to their children.  He was revered.  Since magic went underground, those stories had nearly been forgotten.  It was about time someone reminded the humans that magic still existed, and who better to do that than the infamous, bold Coyote?

The restaurant was abuzz with so many voices that for a moment Coyote felt overwhelmed.  He hadn’t been out in a while.  The others discouraged such meddling and mingling with humans – not to mention associating with those that were gifted enough to channel the energies that fueled magic. No, the others just didn’t see the potential in making an effort to bring back the old ways.  They were content to slip into obscurity, have their stories forgotten; not Coyote, though.  Oh no, he wasn’t the type to let himself slip out of the minds of humans and magical beings.  He wanted to be front and center – and damn the consequences.

The men scattered around the bar watched the game on the television, sipping their drinks and talking loudly about batting averages and the great players who were now retired.  He felt a prickle of resentment because that was what happened to him and his kind, wasn’t it?  They were the greats of the past, retired now…replaced by science and technology.

At the end of the bar stood a large man with shaggy hair and a scowl that was near deadly in intensity.  Coyote wedged his way into a small spot next to the man and ordered a single malt scotch.  He leaned his back against the bar and looked up at the screen behind him, sipping the liquid with relish as he plotted his next move.

A crackling of electricity surrounded the dark man, and Coyote noticed that the man’s skin was neither black nor white, but instead was that shade of almost dark olive that made his ancestry impossible to discern.  His hair was also an enigma, neither black nor brown, but some shade in between with a texture that couldn’t be categorized easily.  The man was notable only for two reasons: His imposing size and the intricate tattoo across his collarbone that told of his profession.  Coyote could just see the center of the design peeking out from beneath the man’s shirt.

Outside of a fewCaribbeanIslands, one did not often come across a man such as this one.  Coyote glanced at him, assessing the power.  Coyote focused his sight on the man’s back and tapped very lightly into his own power.  The energy of the man glowed and sparkled, like tiny flecks of obsidian flowing around him with sparkles of garnet red and deep indigo swirling in the currents.

“Bokor.”  Coyote whispered and gave a satisfied internal smile when the man’s head whipped around to glare at Coyote.

Coyote felt the magic surge as the man took his measure.  It wasn’t so easy for those who practiced the arts, dark or otherwise, to see a purely magical being like Coyote.  The Bokor needed a moment to register the fact that Coyote had no need to pull energy from the elements.  The smaller man with the dark auburn hair just was magic, the currents flowed around Coyote as if feeding off of his energy and not the other way around.

The man’s dark eyes narrowed and his energy shimmered with sparkling black shards as his voice rumbled.  “What do you want, ancient one?”

“Just a chat.”  Coyote grinned and stood straight, taking his drink with him.  He walked toward one of the high tables that surrounded the bar and glanced at the two humans who were sipping martinis, obviously on a first date if the nervous glances and stilted conversation was anything to judge by.  As Coyote neared their table, the hostess approached, ushering the couple to their waiting table.  Without glancing at the auburn haired man, the human trio headed over to a table in the corner and Coyote hoisted himself onto one of the now vacant chairs, gesturing to the other with his half empty glass.  The dark man sat, leaning his elbows on the table, his bottle of beer between his two enormous hands.

“Have you ever wondered how long it will take before humanity accepts magic again?”  Coyote said, taking another sip of his drink.

“They know it exists.”  The man hissed, leaning back to get a better look at his companion.

“That wasn’t what I asked.  You do not listen well, Bokor.”  Coyote said, narrowing his own eyes.  “I asked if you wondered how long until they accept it.”

“Some do.”

“Most do not.  If more saw the truth of magic, perhaps a Bokor would be more valuable.”

The man paused and leaned in closer.  A hard glint was in his eyes.  “What do you suggest?”

Coyote leaned back in his chair and grinned.  “Certainly there is something one of your particular talents could think of that would make them take notice.”

The man frowned.  “You know that is not possible, spirit.  There are consequences for bringing magic into view.”

“Ah, yes.  Consequences.”  Coyote waved a dismissive hand in the air, causing all sound to become muffled as he pulled an invisible veil around the table.  “You are already paying those consequences; that is why you are here.  What if there were another way?  What if instead of hiding in the shadows and serving the few who still believe, you were to step out and shed light on that which is confined to the recesses?  What then, Bokor?  After all, what benefit have you earned from doing as they demand?”

“You know they watch, spirit.”  The man spat with such disgust that Coyote tilted his head to one side, as if weighing the truth of his companion’s words.

“Indeed.  But they only watch those they fear.”  Coyote swallowed the last of the amber liquid and set the glass back on the table.  He stood and grinned at the man before turning and dissipating the curtain that kept their conversation quiet.  “The question, Bokor, is do they fear you?”

Knowing he had said all that was necessary, Coyote walked back out in the night, without bothering to glance at his prey again.

So many stories, so little time!

This will be a short post because I’m busy writing my second book and I have set the ambitious goal of 5,000 words today.  That might be over-reaching, especially because I’m offering the prequel to Elementary Magic for free today and that means I tend to hop over to Amazon.com to check the numbers.  As I said yesterday, I’m in the April doldrums with sales slowing so I was looking for a way to boost myself out of that.  Maybe a free promo will do the trick – it seemed to work last time.

It’s hard to keep perspective when you’re an indie writer and you’re the only one you answer to.  I set goals, and I generally reach them because there’s nothing I would rather be doing than sitting next to my dog and getting lost in my own world for a while.  It decompresses me in ways that I can’t explain, especially since tomorrow it’s back to the day job and all of  the stress that comes with that.  Because I have a very busy and demanding (but rewarding and fun) day job, I refuse to let my writing become stress producing – but that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

These are the top 5 things I stress about:

1.  Plot and pace

I deal with this by using my “down time” to work out the details.  Driving to and from work; showering; folding laundry; cooking dinner – these are all times when I let myself think things through in a guilt free environment because I’m multi-tasking already and not taking time away from the people who are important to me.  PLUS, it lets me roll things around my brain before putting my fingers on the keyboard.

2.  Sales

I admit that I am obsessed by how well my books are doing on Amazon.  I surf the net to find ways of marketing my writing, and join groups to develop a presence.  I also blog and comment on the kindle boards from time to time.  Then there’s the free promo thing.  I’ll be adding my books to smashwords next month, and  I think that may help.  I do think I’ll stay with the three-month Kindle Select program at Amazon for the next book, though.  I think I found some moderate success with that.

3.  Cover art

I did a few mock-ups of the cover for Destructive Magic yesterday.  I’ll probably post them here to get feedback at some point in time, but for now I’ll just page through the folder on my desktop and evaluate my own work.  Since my background is in Art, I’m resisting the urge to have someone else do my covers.  I like playing with it too much, but found out the hard way that I need the cover done before the book.  I finished Elementary Magic and then had to wait to finish the cover…that nearly put me over the edge.

4.  Side stories

Every story leads me down a slightly different path, and I tend to write the side stories while I’m constructing the main book.  It makes it clearer to me, so I’m going to post those here – hey, why not, right?  Then maybe I will turn it into a collection at some point in time.

5.  So little time

When I first started seeing decent sales on Elementary Magic, I would rush home from work to write…until I realized that I was unintentionally working TWO full-time jobs.  I dialed it back, and now Sundays are my main writing day, with a few short forays into my world during the week.  I don’t want to get to the end of the book, start the next one, and realize someday that my writing completely made me lose sight of those things that are important – my family, dog, painting, and general enjoyment of my life.

A kick in the (sales) pants

The April Doldrums have been in full swing and my sales numbers on Amazon are steadily falling (*sigh).  My ability to write brilliant scenes for my upcoming novel – Destructive Magic – is declining with my lagging sales (*deeper sigh).  What’s a girl to do when she wants to write, but is feeling a bit defeated when she checks her rankings?  Go on vacation!

That’s exactly what I did – I went away for a few days, cleared my head of the cobwebs and decompressed and now I’m back and I’ve already written 3,000 words this morning and made my short story “Unplanned Magic” Free tomorrow (April 15, 2012) for one day only so I can generate some numbers and help myself find some additional inspiration!

I’m now going to ignore the temptation to post another entry, surf the Kindle Boards, or check out good reads and get back to writing.  Download Unplanned Magic – It’s short and entertaining (and it’ll help blow me out of the April Doldrums!)