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Archive for June, 2011

Will you be my friend?

Yes, I feel like I’m back in a new school, searching for friendly faces, and praying that I don’t end up sitting at the lunch table alone…again. Actually in all honesty I was so mortified at being seen alone that I would not even eat if it meant sitting alone. So this new blog is so challenging for me! I never was the person that could just walk into a room and start talking to strangers, but luckily I somehow manged to meet people slowly whenever I needed to.

Blogs are a fantastic (and free) way for people to notice your books and gain a loyal following, for both traditionally and self-published writers. So how does one begin a blog and earn new followers?

These are all the hints I’ve picked up along the way and hopefully will pay off soon:

1) Start following and COMMENTING on other’s blogs–I still need to do this more…

2) Post on writer’s forums and partake in active discussions–I noticed every time I post threads my traffic increases vastly

3) Try to write blogs on a consistent and predictable schedule. More people will keep checking for updates if you’re dependable–my goal is to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday regardless of vacations and daily life dramas.

4) Pick a strong theme for your blog and stay on topic. If you write around the same issue it will keep your audience’s attention–my main focus will be my trials, tribulations and (hopefully) triumphs of self-publishing and fiction writing in general.

5) Always strive to keep your blog posts current, interesting, humorous, and colorful–there are many places around the web to find free images to liven up your posts and if you hit a dry spell scanning other’s wonderful blogs can spark inspiration for a new topic of your own.

6) Even though it may seem like no one’s out there you still must express yourself and hope that in the future others will stop by and peruse these achieves once you get your gang going–but until then I will keep staring wistfully at my 0 commentors.

7) When all else fails get your family members and friends to join up to keep you company–I haven’t gotten to this stage yet but if you see 20 commentors all of a sudden than I might have reached this point.

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Beta Readers

This post applies to all writers but I think it is exceptionally important that self-publishers beta far and wide. Since we are only going to pay to have one or two editors look over our manuscripts before publishing, it’s essential to get other writer’s feedback. Now of course, having Uncle Jim and your best pal Sally read through and give you their reader’s critique is fantastic, but there is nothing like having another writer line-by-line critique your novel.

This is especially helpful if you find a beta that writes in the same genre you do. Each genre has different rules (pacing, word count, voice, world building, details, language, etc.) and only someone who writes this will be able to tell you what you’re doing right and–more importantly–wrong.

So where can you find these extremely important people who will read your book, weighing every blessed word and handing you back hundreds of critical comments for free? (Well, some beta read for nothing in return but it’s usually good manners to offer to help them with critiques on their works-in-progress).

The best place to find beta readers is on some of the writers forums offered free of charge. I’ve become a member on Absolute Write and I’ve already found so much helpful information on there. It’s best if you register and get to know all the rules and start reading backlogs of priceless information (many, many late nights spent reading). The moderators prefer that you give feedback and get to know the board for a bit before sharing your work and requesting beta readers–although, you can gather 50 posts very quickly just welcoming other members on the forum.

Those on the board suggest the best way to get beta readers is to post up your first chapter under the genre thread that applies and sometimes people will offer to beta read or if you get a wonderful critique you might private message them asking if they would be willing to read more. I went to their section on beta readers and read through the post of willing beta readers. I found three that sounded like they might like my novel and private messaged them. One got back that they wanted to read something of mine first (I never heard back from them), another never got back at all, and the last one began swapping chapters with me slowly–always best to trade a few chapters at a time to see how you work together first.

Well, she is awesome! I was so happy to find someone who’s work I really enjoyed. Reading her novel was not work for me and I truly loved helping her improve things, and better yet, just enjoyed cheering her on. She has helped me so incredibly much and seen things no one else has picked up that I can’t imagine not having had her input. I know I’m so lucky to have found someone so supportive, observant, hard-working, professional, and critical so soon. She’s not afraid to tell me when something doesn’t sound right, seem plausible, or flow well. She takes my critiques with so much appreciation as well. She flew through my 70,000 word ms in no time and now she’s helping me with the sequel! I know, I’ll stop rubbing it in and get back to this post at hand.

So those are all the key qualities you must look for in beta reader so get out there and search, because even if it takes some time when you find the right one it will do wonders for your book and hopefully your novels to come 🙂

Good luck!

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Okay well this isn’t directly connected to self-publishing but I had to comment on it. I have to tell you when I heard of the countdown to this legendary announcement I was so excited that Rowling would unveil a spin-off of the Harry Potter Series. I was busy envisioning how she could make the saga continue with Harry’s children, possibly Albus Jr versus another of his children who inherited Voldemort’s traits. Harry, Hermione, and Ron could all still play large roles and I would devour the book in a day!

So when I heard the big announcement was that she was choosing to sell the Harry Potter Series electronically it is an understatement to say I was utterly disappointed. I’m sure this was huge news to all the book sellers out there but to me it didn’t deserve this much attention.

Later in the day I read around and someone on a writing brought brought up how this was some distant form of self-publishing since she was only selling this ebook via Pottermore and “publishing in partnership with her existing international publishers.” It made me think what a smart move it was for her to do this, cutting out Amazon, Apple, and book sellers. I’m sure she had the money to fund this all herself and was probably keeping her partners in for good will.

Is this a start for well-known authors with a loyal fan base to take ebooks into their own hands? Is this a great reason for authors to hold onto their electronic rights? I think we may see more of this in the future 🙂

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A Self-Published Cover

So here it is, the cover for my debut novel, Infinite Sacrifice.

The fact is that everyone does judge a book by its cover–well that and the blurb. Well why not? It’s really all we have to go by.Yes, you might still purchase a less than amazing cover if someone you trust highly recommends a book, but most of the time you will trust a gut reaction based on how professional and captivating a cover is.

After reading so much helpful advice about covers it seems that these are the most important things to keep in mind while creating yours:

1) Make sure it tells something about your book.

2)Be sure to study other successful covers in your genre and try to create a similar look

3)Be just as sure to check out unsuccessful self-published covers to avoid their mistakes

4) Make sure it looks good as a thumbnail size since that is what most of your potential customers will see

5) Make sure the title & author name can be read easily (especially as a thumbnail)

6) Be sure to check that it looks good in grey-scale since many reading devices are not in color.

7) If you don’t have graphics design experience make sure you hire someone who is familiar with cover designs

So having no graphics background I knew I was going to hire out. I searched all over the internet for book designers and it was so difficult to find based on all their portfolios. I would say I usually liked only about a 1/4 of their covers. Of course those covers are not always a direct representation of what that graphics designer is capable of since the self-published author is most likely directing them, which makes the choice so much harder.

I narrowed it down to two possible options based on portfolios and recommendations. There was a great price difference between these two and even though I was willing to pay a lot for my cover I decided to try the relatively inexpensive designer first. I had a very strong idea of what I wanted for the first book (and the series) and I even searched through tons of photos on iStockPhoto and other various sites and found one image that just screamed out a scene in my book. I decided to invest the small price and see what I got, if I didn’t like it I’d lose little and move onto the other designer.

So I contacted the designer and detailed two different covers I imagined and sent her the istock photo I chose. She had four options sent to me immediately! I couldn’t believe how fast she worked and I realized right away one of my ideas was not coming across well but the other just needed a little tweaking. The cover designer was so patient with me, trying out various font styles, coloring, and placement. She created the infinity sign and even drew in the thorns, she also was able to completely get rid of some images that came with the iStock photo. She was so accommodating until I was completely satisfied (if anyone would like her name I would be happy to privately email you). I was so pleased with the end result and the price was so reasonable that I immediately asked her to make one for the sequel! Cover creating is so addictive!

After my editor gets through with the ms and the blurb I wrote I’m going to put them both up on the kindle boards to hear feedback before I set them in stone. I think the only thing that can top the feeling I got upon seeing the final cover is when I get that first copy to put in my bookshelf!

Oh that, and maybe outselling Amanda Hocking…haha.

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After finishing another fantastic writer’s workshop and getting back my last chapter from my supreme beta reader (you rock!), I’ve sent off my manuscript to an editor I found through wonderful recommendations. Yay!

It took me awhile to stop staring at my MS for the umpteenth time, checking and re-checking for any last tweaks, and press SEND. It has been two and half years since I began this novel and I can’t believe I’m getting closer and closer to seeing that beautiful copy in my hands. I can’t wait until I read it cover to cover in print version–nice and chunky in my hands– instead of this flat computer screen. This flat screen I’ve been glued to all this time, mesmerized by the same words over and over again. This laptop that has a tired file littered with so many different revisions kept for safe-keeping that I will probably never look at again.

Well, I received an email almost immediately letting me know my editor got my MS and said she could have it back for me mid-July. MID-JULY!! This is really happening! I am so excited to see what corrections she suggests and how she can improve the story. She is freelancing but also works in publishing presently so I have such great expectations for her.

In the meantime, I will force myself to forget about this book for now and begin to start the endless (it sure does feel that way) revisions that the sequel is screaming for and read as much as I can about what’s ahead for me on this self-publishing trail.

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Hello blogging world!

The sun is out, the birds are singing, and I’m self-publishing!!!

I’m so happy to be writing in a time where the author has so many choices. After some feedback from some amazing, interested agents I’ve come to realize that the series I’ve been consumed with the last two years is better fitted for self-publishing. A few agents pointed out that my first book in the series is not a stand alone and being so it makes it less attractive to weary publishers. I tried to think of all the ways I could make it a stand alone with series potential but the nature of the series just won’t allow for that. I definitely have a true series in that each novel is a piece of the whole running saga.

 

I’ve been intensely interested in past lives for years and have held my breath for someone to come out with a movie/novel that would allow the observer to fully delve into the world of reincarnation. With no one attempting this, I decided to roll up my creative sleeves and start conjuring up a past life universe myself. I didn’t want to simplify the whole experience by only focusing on one soul mate or one or two lives (as I’ve seen so many times) but wanted to illustrate the entire rich and complicated experience of a soul traveling with many other evolving souls, through many changing and fascinating times.

 

I’m so excited to have all these options right now; where a writer can stick to their vision and still get their book out there. I will use this blog to discuss my research and experiences in writing and self-publishing my own series. I hope to educate and inspire others to consider this option for themselves.

 

So I would like to begin with all the reasons I’ve decided to self-publish:

 

1) My book is a true series

2) I have the time and the money to invest in quality editing and publishing

3) I’m willing to do my own publicity

4) My main goal is to get this story out

5) This story will not go quietly into the drawer

6) I believe in self-publishing

7) I’d like to get this book out before I have my next child (I’m 7 months pregnant)

 

I intend to describe every step–backwards and forwards–on this pathway to self-publishing, so stick around if you’re curious about the whole process!

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