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Archive for the ‘self-publishing’ Category

I’ll admit it, I stalk all my review sites. I can’t resist reading what readers are saying about my books. I do searches of my books every once in a while to read kind bloggers who discuss my books. Of course I fly high with favorable reviews and try to absorb any criticism as best as I can. I get such a thrill when I see that I have a new review and hold my breath as I read it. I especially like seeing which lines from my books get highlighted on Amazon. I have to say I enjoy this part of being a writer more than my sales reports. I didn’t write to make money, I wrote because I was inspired and it’s amazing to me when others have enjoyed the little world I created in my head. I don’t know if traditionally published authors follow their feedback as closely as indie authors do, but I would guess that reviews and ratings mean more to indies always in search of validation and reassurance.

There are so many things you can say to a writer that can bring tears to their eyes and make them feel like it’s all been worth while. Yet the one that fills me with so much pride is the compliment that they would read anything I write in the future.

That says to me that they didn’t just enjoy the characters, the plot, or the subject, but that they enjoyed my storytelling and style. This gives me so much confidence since sometimes I worry that I might not create such loveable characters in the next novel after my series or the subject just captivated people and if I switch to a different genre they won’t follow me. The one thing that will most likely remain constant is my storytelling style and, if they said they enjoyed that, then chances are they’ll enjoy the next book.

Thank you to those readers who have said that. It fills me with so much reassurance that I’m doing what I should be doing.

If you’re an author, what compliments have meant the most to you? If you’re a reader, what’s the best compliment that you’ve ever left a writer?

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(Clothing optional)

My latest venture in self-publishing has been something I never thought I’d attempt. If you told me that I’d be creating audio books years ago I’d laugh and show you how I haven’t even figured out my iPhone yet. I first saw a discussion about creating audio books on the Kindlebord’s Writer’s Cafe forum (where I get on all my self-publishing information). I clicked on the thread only out of curiosity and was surprised to hear indie authors report how easy it was to create audio books and if you’re not putting one out you’re leaving money on the table.

My impression was that you needed to be tech savvy to create one or have a lot of money to pay someone else to make one. I knew a few indie authors that narrated their audio books themselves but knew that would never be an option for me. However, these much clever indies had found a site called ACX that helps indies produce their own audio books much like Createspace and KDP have made self-publishing ebooks and print books so simple. I decided to make an account and clicked every tab I could find to answer all my endless questions.

My biggest problem was that I worried my unusual reincarnation fantasy would not make a good audio book due to the fact that I would have to find one very talented narrator who could pull off different accents, different genders, and different ages in a believable way. Yet, what did I have to lose if I put a sample up? So I picked out a few pages of each life from my first book for folks to audition for.

A few weeks went by without any auditions, but then my project got selected for a stipend. I had no idea what that was at first but found out that it is an incentive program that ACX puts on certain books for producers and narrators. Not only will they get the 50%-50% royalty deal, they also get $100 for every finished hour of audio book paid by ACX. Well, the auditions started rolling in. The very first audition I listened to floored me. Completely not what I expected, this narrator took the book in her own direction and I loved it.

What to do now?

Well, I had to read more information on the site about how I make an offer and I was sure to read all the fine print about making an audio book with ACX. I decided I would go with the 50%-50% royalty deal, the exclusive distribution option with ACX that yields more profit for me, and had to select the date I wanted the narrator to complete the first fifteen minutes and the date the whole project should be finalized. Since there was a stipend attached, it was important to see when the stipend time was up since they grant them for only a few months at a time. I checked when mine was up and made sure I gave extra time for my narrator to complete it.

Well, she unfortunately responded that she was busy with another project at the moment and wouldn’t be able to finish it by that date. I was so disappointed and wondered if everyone would sound terrible next to her skill. I listened to a few more auditions and learned that I definitely didn’t like strong accents and glaring voice changes for different characters. The first narrator showed me that subtle was the way to go.

Finally, I got a message from a producer who was interested in my project and gave a list of narrators that worked for him with samples of audio books they’d completed. I picked Jessica Peterson out immediately since she read similarly to the first narrator that I’d heard. The producer had her read my sample and I made the offer which they quickly accepted.

He got to work right away and kept me informed of all their deadlines. It was so nice to work with such a seasoned professional. Since I was so inexperienced it was wonderful to have someone guide me through the whole process. He asked me to go through my whole book and pick out any words that might have difficult pronunciation. Usually there might only be a few words that need to be clarified, but with all my historic names, places, and things this took me a very long time.

An unexpected benefit to making an audio book was soon found out when the narrator found typos (a few missing words here and there). Which was shocking since I’ve had this darn book edited by at least six amazing editors! But since she had to read each word aloud I think it truly cleared up any of those last pesky typos.

The most important step is approving the first fifteen minutes, until then you can walk away from the deal without any penalty. Make sure you like everything: the sound quality, the vocal choices, the pronunciations before this stage since after you approve you’ll have to pay the narrator to end the project if you don’t get along. My first fifteen minutes was wonderful except for the fact that I forgot to specify that my main character begins old and at a certain phrase becomes much younger. It slipped my mind and I felt terrible to tell them that they wasted five minutes at the end since it had to be changed. They were gracious and went back to the studio to change it and I didn’t approve it until it was just the way I wanted.

Now it was definitely happening and I had faith in my producer’s and narrator’s abilities. They finished before the deadline and I listened to every word before I approved the final creation. I had to scramble to get my cover designer to make a square cover for the audition since they would not allow the cover I use for the ebook (so it’s good idea to get that done ahead of time).

It took much longer that I thought before the audio book was up for sale on Amazon (four weeks). I even sent an inquiry on why it was delayed but apparently that is the normal time it takes. I saw that the price was set at $19.95 (they set the price based on how long the audio is), but I wanted to be sure to get the Whispersync deal on there since it gives a huge discount to those who have already purchased the ebook (and since my ebook is free, I hoped it would increase sales). I wrote to ACX and requested the option and after a week the discount was available.

Infinite Sacrifice-Audio Cover(Click here for the link to the audio version)

So there you have it, an audio book was created by someone who never thought they could manage it. I’ve already had a few emails letting me know how much they enjoyed the audio book and were wondering when book number two will be out. I went to work on getting that one made and requested a stipend on that book so I could continue to use the same producer and narrator. They actually granted me the stipend and my producer is up for the project, so now I’m busy looking up all the hard to pronounce words…

Self-publishing is truly an adventure.

indielife7

(Check out other inspiring indie authors’ blog posts by clicking on the icon above)

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So I’ve joined a fun and supportive blog hop that celebrates independent authors that requires you write one post about anything self-publishing once a month. If you’re interested in reading some of today’s posts or joining up as well, click on the icon above.

I came across a fascinating blog post on Kboards from a best-selling, formally traditionally published author, Elisa Beth Naughton. If you have the time, you can read it for yourself here. Otherwise, I’ll try my best to summarize.

Naughton opened up about the struggles she had when she was traditionally published where she used any meager profit she made for her own books’ publicity and claimed a negative income on her taxes (even being on the best-selling list). She brings up the fact that she was so focused on the prestige of being traditionally published that she was unaware of the poor contract she signed for her books. Many times, authors will trade many of their rights and profits just to say that they’re traditionally published. As soon as she got some of her book titles back, she decided to follow a few of her successfully self-published friends and dove into indie waters. She admits it took some hard work to get her books noticed again, but is now claiming possibly seven figures this year on her income tax from self-publishing alone!

She admits that self-publishing isn’t for everyone (and I’m sure having her name well-known prior to self-publishing helped her immensely), but she makes a great point by saying that she is so glad she writes in an age where authors have these choices. It is so important to realize that self-publishing allows every author that choice.

If you don’t get represented by an agent, you have a choice.

If you don’t get picked up by a publisher, you have a choice.

If you don’t get offered a great contract, you have a choice.

If you don’t make much profit off your traditionally published book, you have a choice.

If you get your books backlisted, you have a choice.

Self-publishing gives us all a choice, even if you do decide to go the traditionally published route.  It’s in every author’s best interest to support indies so that they always have a potentially profitable alternative out there (and hopefully publishers will become wary of this and offer better deals to keep their authors happy).

When I was querying agents (and my dream agent actually was interested!) I probably would have accepted anything to just get published. I’m so glad that I did go it on my own for the very reasons that Naughton points out:

“I get to write the books I want to write, the way I want to write them, and I get to release them when I want…not when a publisher can fit me into their schedule. For me, self publishing is a perfect fit and no matter where I go from here, it will definitely be part of my career plan.

Of course, this all seems fabulous and it sounds like I’m making tons of money, doesn’t it? But you have to remember that I wrote for ten years without making a penny. Three plus of which as a published author. If you add up what I’ve made self publishing and divide it by ten years, trust me, it’s not much in the long run. But the growth potential is there, and that’s what keeps me going. There was a time not long ago when I was pretty sure I was going to have to go back to teaching because I wasn’t making any money writing. I was even looking at job postings online, trying to find a science position in my area. Now that’s all changed. I get to keep doing what I love. I get to keep writing the books readers love because of self publishing.”

I’m so happy that Naughton has found such rewarding success in self-publishing, especially after working so hard for all those years. I’m definitely content with my small successes at this point and thank the universe everyday that I had this option available. My series would never have been published and there are many fans that have thanked me for writing them.

Options are always a wonderful thing 🙂

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I’m happy to announce that the third book in the Infinite Series, Infinite Loss, has been released!

InfiniteLossCoverWeb

Book Description:

With lessons and lives of sacrifice and devotion behind her, Maya must continue the journey into her next incarnations as a young and passionate Lakota warrior on the Great American Plains; the dashing British spy Major John André, fighting the tide of a great revolution; and the desolate master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe.

Each life is touched with love but strained by unbearable grief. Maya must experience life’s most trying lesson…the devastation of loss.

I want to thank you for your support and interest in my series by reducing the ebook from $4.99 to $3.99 for the first two days. I truly appreciate all the encouragement and this is my way of thanking you each personally.

Infinite Loss is now available at these locations:

B & N

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords, Kobo, Itunes, and Sony will be up shortly. The print version is not out yet. I will send another notification when it’s released.

To those of you that have left reviews for Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion, thank you so much. I look forward to hearing what you all think of Infinite Loss! Enjoy!

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bookbub.com

Just thought I’d check back in after having the flu for a month and taking a break from the final edits of Infinite Loss to talk about the benefits of Bookbub.

“Bookbub is a daily deal email newsletter exclusively for digital books. More than 600,000 people with eReaders have signed up for BookBub to learn about free and deeply discounted digital books that match their interests.

Authors and publishers pay us to promote their limited-time digital book discounts and freebies to our subscribers. We can advertise promotions running at any retailer including Amazon’s Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, Apple’s iBookstore, Google Play, Kobo, Smashwords, and others.

Like other daily deal emails, BookBub is an “advertorial” newsletter. This means that although our daily email consists of paid advertisement listings, we have an editorial team that approves only the listings they think are the best deals for our subscribers.”

You can find out more information here.

I was leery of putting down money for advertising. In the past I’ve tried all the free promotion sites and a few inexpensive advertising ventures. I’ve learned  very quickly that it’s a waste of time to spend the whole morning writing to all the different freebie websites and focused on the ones that gave a big surge in sales like Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink and Free Kindle Books and Tips. The websites that charge $5 or $10 didn’t seem to make much difference for me.

Bookbub is fantastic since it targets a large readership that has signed up for specific genres of interest. Bookbub sends an email directly to the reader along with a few other deals of the day—some of which were best sellers, which is nice to get on their also bought lists!

Before Bookbub ran my promotion (December 27) my books were not performing well. Infinite Sacrifice was at #5,459 ranking on the free bestseller list and Infinite Devotion at #177,466 on the paid list with no sign of a holiday surge.

The price to run the ad (for a free book in the historical genre) was $125 and they are selective in regards to reviews and ratings. They feature both indie and traditionally published books.

Here are the results:

  • Author rank reached #16,901.
  • Highest ranking for Infinite Sacrifice ever #36 of all free books, gave away over 20,000 free copies, and it stayed under #2,000 since the promotion.
  • Infinite Devotion reached #12,646 of all paid and stayed under #40,000 since the promotion.
  • Practically doubled my review numbers and mailing list subscribers
  • I’ve sold four times what I normally bring in a month (not just on Amazon, but across all vendors)

I will definitely do it again and hope that more sites like this crop up to assist readers and authors. I can’t wait to run another ad again, since Bookbub doesn’t allow you to list the same book within 90 days. That gives me some time to decide if I should pick another genre my book falls under since it’s just been seen by the historical fiction subscribers. It might be smart to send my book out to the fantasy readers next (plus it’s much cheaper).

So, if you have a some good reviews under your belt and a nice star rating, I would definitely suggest reducing the price of your novel in order to purchase a promotion with Bookbub. The ad paid for itself in a few days. Hurry though, because prices are rising. The same ad will now cost me $130. Bookbub has steadily been increasing their fees as readership increases.

Even if you aren’t interested in investing in an ad or maybe don’t have a novel ready yet, it’s a great program to sign up for. I’ve joined and I’m filling up my kindle quickly!

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Just wanted to share my recent book trailer. They may not sell books, but they are so much fun to make!

If any of you are interested in making one for your novel, I re-posted an old instructional blog below.

Phew! The Book Trailer is Done!

July 6, 2011 by laurenwaters | Edit

Wow! That was so much easier than I thought and I’m so pleased with the results. I’ve posted it up on my Book Trailer page and please let me know what you think!

Even though I’d been searching and collecting images for a bit before, the actual process of creating the video clip took me about a day and a half. I never used iMovie before so this was learning completely from scratch. I wanted to let everyone know exactly how I did this so anyone can create one themselves–and I’m no techy so seriously anyone can do this.

Step 1) First, I opened up a new project on iMovie and titled it. Then I downloaded all the images I collected free and some I purchased to iPhoto (not sure if there is a direct way to just download it to iMovie, but remember I’m figuring this all out on my own and this way worked). When I clicked on the camera icon on my iMovie page there was all the photos I wanted when I highlighted last months photos. I was able to just drag each photo to the desired placement of my new project.

Step 2) Once I got them all in the order I wanted I went to Kevin MacLeod’s website, searched the mood I wanted, and I sampled some fantastic choices. I knew immediately which song I wanted to go with and I downloaded it to my iMovie. I clicked on the musical note tab to drag the song to my project. The music shows up as an encompassing highlight around your pictures. It will go as long as you have pictures or when the song ends. I found I had to delete a few images to fit the song time (click on the clip and press delete).

Step 3) Now I tried it out with the music by hitting the play button. I realized I needed to change timing to get each image in time with the music. Each image gets a default time of 4 seconds so in order to change them you must click on the image until clip duration pops up and you can type in exactly how long you want the image to appear. If you want all the images that duration you check the box to apply to all clips, otherwise leave it unchecked to specify this one clip. I found I needed to tweak each time to fit perfectly with the music and this did take some time.

Step 4) When doing step 3 be careful not to be completely exact since you need to put some transitions between clips to make it all smooth. Next to the camera icon and the musical note icon is an icon for transitions. Click on that and you can highlight each option to display how the transition appears. I decided to use two different transitions to decipher between the lives and within the lives. I used a flash between the lives and the cross dissolve between the others. Drag the transition and place between the desired clip and click on it to set the timing of the dissolve.

Step 5) Hit the play button again to perfect the timing EXACTLY to the music. This takes some time.

Step 6) To finesse the look further you can apply cropping, Ken Burns effect, and even video effect. Click on the image and under the clip duration box you see Video Effect. It defaults to None but when you click on it you get so many options to play with such as flipped, black & white, dream, sepia, and so many more. Once you choose the desired effect click on the cropping icon next to the microphone. On the side bar of your clip you’ll see three options Fit, Ken Burns, and Crop. I mostly chose the Ken Burns since it allows you to zoom and move the image however you want. This looks wonderful since it adds movement to the stills. When you click this effect a red and green box appears on the image. If you click on the green ‘start’ box you can control the size and placement of where the image will begin. Then you do the same for the red ‘end’ box and by overlapping or separating them you get as much movement as you would like. This is another part where you need some time to get it just the way you want.

Step 7) Now you’re ready for text. It’s best to try to be as laconic as possible. Write out a script on a piece of paper and try to remove any unneeded words. Your job here is to give your potential reader the impression and feel of the book. A brief outline of what’s in store for them and to entice them into going to your website to read more and hopefully buy. You’re trying to grab them, so the fewer words the better. Go hit the upper case T button between the camera button and the transition button. You’ll get some different placement options and text effects. Once you’ve picked the one you want drag it to the clip. Click on the clip and the text box will appear where you wanted it. Type in desired text and if you’d like to change the font, click the font button that appears above the image your working on. You’ll get some options of text, color, size, style and alignment to play with but if you want more text options you can click on System Font Panel. It’s a great idea to always include your cover, website, and planned launch date at the end. You can always go back and take the date out later to use after the launch.

Step 8 ) Watch the whole project again and perfect everything. Once it’s exactly the way you want it go up to the File button and select finalize clip. This will take about 40 minutes. Once that’s done go to the share button and select the YouTube option and upload it (you’ll need to sign up for a YouTube account before this step if you didn’t already have one). Make sure to specify if you want this clip viewed privately or publicly. Since most of us want as many people as we can to see it, most will choose the public option. Click the view option as soon as that’s done and you’ll see your original, amazing book trailer up for everyone to see!

Step 9) You want to be sure to give the specified credit under the descriptions box on YouTube for Kevin MacLeod’s music–and if you haven’t already donated to him for the clip you should do so now.

Step 10) Now it’s time to send this link out to friends and forums to get feedback if anything needs to change. Once you feel confident that it’s as fantastic as you can make it. Email it out to all your contacts, post it on your blog, send it out to guest blogs, feature it on your Facebook account and every possible place you can send it! Let this be your calling card!

So that’s it! Hopefully I made this easier for everyone–remember a special note–I’m not tech savvy and this might have been completely round-about way to do this, but I did it and if you need help follow this and it does turn out pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

Good luck to all you out there and feel free to comment here if you have any questions. I’ll try my (technologically-challenged) best to help :)

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abna-badge_250

Just wanted to let all of my writer followers know that entries have begun for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. The cash awards and publishing deals are pretty amazing, (not to mention the publicity!). I don’t think you have to be published yet to enter, so those of you who are looking for another way around the query process, this contest is for you! Oh, and best of all, it’s FREE!

For contest rules and guidelines, click here.

Hurry, they will stop taking entries on January 27th or after they receive their ten thousandth entry. Why are you still reading this blog post…go!

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