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I wanted to pass on this link for an ebook sales report just in case some of you missed it:

http://news.yahoo.com/e-books-sales-soar-2011-063045986.html

I think this is extremely positive for self-publishers who have trouble selling their print books. Even though the type of publisher is not specified, I’m assuming they surveyed the big publishers. I would love to see a study if self-publishers’ ebook sales are up as well. Any ebooks sales help out self-publishers though, since it shows that the public is drifting from shopping in the big chain bookstores and searching online where self-publishers like me stand a chance.

The future of publishing will still be a mix of traditionally published and self-published novels, and print books right now still dominate, but it’s good to see that ebook sales are steadily increasing. If you are a self-publisher or debating self-publishing, this increase will only work in your favor. This is especially promising if you are a young adult novelist.

Well, off to the beach 🙂

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I’ve mentioned work-shopping on my blog before, but I realized I haven’t described what goes on in one and why I think it’s important. Back when I was considering one, I would have appreciated someone letting me know what to expect. I already finished my first novel and wanted to get some feedback before I self-published. I found a promising writer’s workshop fifteen minutes away from where I lived that meet once a week for a few hours. They had so many different classes ranging from the basics of writing to advanced courses. One class offered feedback on finished novels and the time it meet at night worked out for me.

I was a month pregnant a the time and knew that I would be going through the worst of morning sickness during the workshop, but I knew I needed this help if I was ever going to release my debut novel. I was so nervous. I had no idea what I signed myself up for. Was everyone going to be more advanced than me?

I got an email a couple of weeks before the first class requesting that we send everyone our first ten pages. My finger hesitated over the send button since no one outside of my circle had read my book. But if I was seriously thinking of publishing I was going to have to get used to it.

*click send*

I was both impressed by my fellow workshopper’s first ten pages, and assured since I saw that each person could improve. I wrote all my comments on the side and printed them out to bring with me. Yet it didn’t dawn on me until I walked into the small, crowded room that I was actually going to have to say those criticisms to their faces! All nine of us sat down with the teacher who immediately began with the person to his right. He wanted to go around to table and let everyone give their impressions and improvements out loud…while everyone was watching you. It was strange to match up each writing piece with the face, having learned intimate emotional details before you’re casual acquaintances.

Of course, I could only mention my positive critiques. I curled up my page slightly so no one could see my real notes on the page. However, the negative criticisms rolled off these workshop veterans tongue. I kept my composure long enough until the workshop ended and then I shut the door of my car. I called home and cried like a two-year old. I almost didn’t return. But I decided to lift my chin and steel myself for more. I quickly learned that it was better to hear these things in the workshop and not on the review page. It took me a few classes before I flattened the paper and said it all. When the first class ended I signed up for more. I needed to be sure that my whole book was looked over.

The most important things I learned there:

  • Exposure: You need to have many eyes look over your MS before sending it off to agents or self-publishing. If you were only writing for yourself than it would be fine to keep it to yourself, but if you are writing for the market than you must get as many different types of people to let you know if something isn’t working.
  • Revise, revise, revise: I remember when the teacher actually held my MS up and proclaimed, “This is a great first draft.” I replied like Milton from Office Space, “mm…mm..m…my final sir.” I laugh now because it really was a draft, not even close to finished! But I truly thought I had revised it to death at that point. I sent it to all the best agents! How could he say, “first draft”? So I learned that lesson. Now matter how many times you think it’s done…you need to hear that it’s looking good from others…so many others! Each time I sent in those ten pages I picked through it, measuring every word, changing a comma to five different places before I settled! You do some great revisions when you think a whole table-full of writers are going to nit-pick it.
  • Workshop teachings last: I can’t write anything without the echos of all their lessons rattle around in my brain.
  • Negative criticism: This is the most important thing. I wouldn’t have been ready to handle the reviews and judgements of readers before these courses. I’ve reached the point where I’m ready for anything. I actually enjoy a critical review since I’m so open to how different people interpret my story and I know I can always improve something. I usually say, “You have a good point there. I’ll try to fix that going forward.”
  • Positive reinforcement: Yes, I actually received just as much positive support, but I seem to remember the negative things more. Only when someone is dishing out improvements left and right can you be assured that the positive things they see are indeed true. I have no doubt those people would have looked straight into my eyes and said, “This isn’t any good.” But they didn’t, they said things like, “If you just changed this, this, and this, you could really have something here.” I really trusted their opinion and if they thought I was ready to publish at the end, I knew I was.
  • Problems: They let me know when something was missing, where there was too much explanation or where there was too little. They let me know when a scene needed more description and even voted that they thought first person present was the way to go (I originally had it in first person past). They were right. It helped make my readers feel like they were experiencing everything themselves and I haven’t had one reviewer say they didn’t like the first person present and it’s usually not thought of well.
  • Camaraderie: There were so many times we just laughed. Laughed at the process, at ourselves, and the struggles we were all facing. We all got to know each other and at the end it was like we were a writing family. Writers NEED support of other writers. We are all facing so much rejection, so much self-criticism, so much outside criticism. The reassuring word of a fellow writer of simply telling you that they’ve been through the same struggles are golden.

I really miss my workshop and the fantastic writers I met there. If I had the extra money and time to invest I would, but for now I need to put that time and money toward bringing my next book to market. Thankfully, though, I have all my writing friends on my blog to help fill the void (I love you guys!) I appreciate what that teacher and fellow classmates taught me and I’m sure my first novel is better for it. I can only hope I’ll take what I learned from that class and apply it to all my future projects.

So all of you out there, if you’re close to sending your first project out or if your creative well has run dry, I strongly recommend looking up your local writing workshop and see if you can afford it. It is money well spent 🙂

Have any of you taken a workshop before and how was your experience?

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Hey everyone! Sorry I have been absent lately, but I’m knee-deep in author interviews for a little blog tour this week. My blogging pal, Sara Flower, let me know about this inexpensive blog tour site, Full Moon Bites. If you’d like to check any of the stops out, here’s the schedule:

June 3rd- The Jeep Diva (Review) (Author Interview) (Book Review/Author Interview)
June 4th- Erotic Romance With a Bite…Leigh Savage (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 5th- What’s Hot? (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 5th– Heart Of A Wolf (Book Review/Promo Post)
June 6th- Simply Infatuated (Promo Post)
June 7th- The Book Connoisseur (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 8th- D. VonThaer (Book Review/Author Interview)
June 9th- Turning The Pages (Promo Post)
June 9th- A Page Away (Book Review/Promo Post)

 

 

Be back soon 🙂

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Okay, so I’ve promised some hard numbers to let you all know if it is a good idea to make your first book of a series free and here it is. Due to so many different price points were experimented with, borrows, and different royalty rates, I’m only going to report the quantity sold to avoid confusion.

(Please bring your expectations down a bit before I divulge since I’m in no ways a bestseller at this point, but I’m so pleased with the progress this promotion has brought.)

Before this free promotion, I’ve sold a total of…

(wait for it)

9 ebooks of Infinite Devotion since publishing in mid-February to mid-March!

(I know pretty underwhelming.)

Since publishing Infinite Sacrifice since mid-November—not including free promotions—I’ve sold 50 ebooks.

So, up until my prolonged free promotion, that’s a total of—hold on I need to whip my calculator out to compile such a monstrous number—59 sales!

Since the free promotion began mid-March I’ve given away 7,070 copies of Infinite Sacrifice.

Yay!

I’ve sold 73 ebooks of Infinite Devotion since the promotion, with an additional 2 copies of Infinite Devotion and 6 copies of Infinite Sacrifice in the UK (still hasn’t price matched there yet).

Yippee!

So, I’ve sold more and made more money this month than I have since November.

Plus, I’ve received stellar reviews and ratings on Amazon, Goodreads, and Shelfari. (Priceless!)

Wahoo!

(It doesn’t take much to make me happy)

I saw increase in the second book immediately and the sales have been steadily increasing. If even 10% of the 6,700 people who have downloaded it this month alone, return to buy the second book that will be 670 sales!

Well, I probably shouldn’t count all my eggs yet, but I’m hopeful that this trend will only improve.

This only makes me wish I had Infinite Loss to release since my sales would probably double, but I can’t rush it out. It is motivation to finish it since the more books I have out, the better my sales. If sales continue at this rate (or increase *crosses fingers*) then it will chip away at the $3,000 expense of getting both books out. Once I pay that all back, the rest will be profit from then on. That is the beauty of ebooks, once you pay back your investment it can continue bringing in income without additional expense.

So will I be continuing this free promotion?

Yes, I’m going to keep this up. It’s getting my book out there.

Now if I could only make it free on Amazon UK!

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One of the best things about making my first book free for the last three weeks (full promotion report due out at the end of the month!) has definitely been the increase in ratings and reviews.

Yes, these are gold for reader confidence and promotion, but they’re priceless for restoring my faith that this was all worth it. All the hours I stayed up late after putting my kids to bed; all the hours I spent researching; all the time in writing workshops; all the forums I joined and books I bought seeking out self-publishing advice; all the money I spent on getting the best product out—all had to be appreciated by someone.

I honestly never expected my books to make much money. Never expected to be the next Amanda Hocking. I would be very happy if I could just pay back the expenses. But the one goal I’ve had this whole time was to simply hear from a fan that appreciated all the things I set out to create. I worried that maybe the series was too complicated; that readers might not like tracking each character through time; that people might not like the fact this was a true series.

Besides my friends and family, I didn’t know how the world would see my book.

Well, I cry every time I read a kind and thoughtful review. I don’t think I truly felt like a writer until someone completely enjoyed what I set out to deliver.

I’m actually connecting to strangers through my story.

After reading these reviews, I wish there was some way I could personally tell these people how much it’s touched me. The only thing I can do is print the reviews out and frame them to start a little inspiration collection over my writing-table.

Anytime I have any doubt, I’ll just look up and they’ll be there. All my fans 🙂

The more these reviews come in, the more I want to write! Even if negative reviews come in, it only matters that some people are fans and those are the people I’m envisioning when I write my next book. Some of them haven’t left many reviews for other authors, and that has meant even more to me since they probably read my plea for reviews in the forward and went out of their way to help me.

If they’re reading this, truly, thank you. You have no idea how much this has meant to me.

It’s so important to tell a writer after you enjoy their book. Let them know what you loved and how they’ve touched you. I’ll never put down a book again without leaving a note for the author. It’s extremely rewarding.

For those who have published, has a fan ever inspired you? If not published yet, who has given you confidence?

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How many revisions does it take for your MS to lose its spark?

“Let’s find out.

One…

tWoo…

thhhhreee”

*CRUNCH*

I wish I only had to do three revisions. Three, and I might still be gushing about it for launch. But I find when I’m reading my novel for the twentieth time my MS loses its spark.

Finish the MS—Wow, this is the best thing I’ve ever written! Perfect!

First revision after letting it sit—Wow, this needs work but what great scenes and dialog! I love it!

Second revision—Wow, I can’t believe how many mistakes I missed after that last edit, but it’s still awesome!

Fifth revision—Wow, still so much work. I’ve got to rewrite a few scenes, but it’s pretty good stuff.

Tenth revision—Wow, I think I need glasses since I’m still finding mistakes! Eh. It’s okay.

Fifteenth revision—Wow, another revision, I don’t think I can read it again. I hope I’m going in the right direction.

Nineteenth revision—Wow, this has to be the last revision! I’m so sick of it! That’s it. I’m done.

Twentieth revision—Wow, is this even any good anymore?

I’m sure this happens to every author, but I imagine it must be harder for the self-published author since you have to feel confident about the piece you’re about to release to the world—on your own. You don’t have team cheering you on from behind. A team that has thought so highly of your project that they have invested in it.

Of course, even LOTR and Pride and Prejudice would lose its spark after twenty reads within a short amount of time. So what do you do when you start to question if your MS is still good when you have worn it out like a pair of comfortable sneakers?

You must have rounds of beta readers. You need someone at every stage of processing to tell you that you’ve got something there. You need someone to see your twentieth revision with fresh eyes. You need them to tell you it’s amazing and which parts they laughed and cried at. Then they tell you two or three small things that they would change and you’re back to revision twenty-one:

Wow, they loved it, so this must be good. I just have to fix a few things and it’s off to the editor who will be so impressed with how much work I’ve done this time.

After the editor—Wow, I can’t believe I missed all these mistakes. Am I ever going to learn comma placement? *bangs head*

So what about you guys? How many revisions does it take before your eyes bleed and doubt sets in?

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You may have noticed my new spiffy link over on the right—thanks to David Gaughran’s post introducing his followers to the wonders of Mail Chimp.

At first, I glanced over the idea of a mailing list. Why would I need a mailing list? I have a blog where I can send out promotional news to my followers. But then I put the first book of my series on extended promotion (5,000 downloads in one week!), and I realized all those people were my market. How would they know about the next release of the series?

Most self-publishers don’t have a promotional team with a brick and mortar marketing budget, who can spread the word of a new release to the world. In a year, when my third book is planned to release, my readers most likely won’t be waiting with bated breath. I needed a way for those fans to ONLY get the announcement of releases.

The majority of my blog focuses on my self-publishing journey and the struggles I face as a writer. Most fans wouldn’t want to follow my blog. They usually VISIT my website for the historical background information, book trailers, and my bio page. So, I needed to find a way to get release news to these readers.

Mail Chimp.

As usual, David Gaughran is ahead of the game. A self-published author NEEDS a mailing list. You must have an option for fans to sign up only for release news. You need to capture these readers and continue to market to them. Um, and have I mentioned that it’s free!

Go to Mail Chimp’s website and follow the simple instructions to create your own mailing list. Remember, I am NOT tech-savvy. If I could figure this out you can. Once you’ve signed up and put the link on your widget, Mail Chimp sends you emails over the next few days, slowly introducing you to how the mailing list operates. Very easy.

Just be sure to specify that the mailing list will ONLY be used for release notifications. Folks are so  spam wary now-a-days and don’t want to be notified every time your book changes price, interviews on such-and-such’s blog, or the you’ve just received a rave review. If they did, they’d follow your blog.

This is especially a good idea before a major promotion or free day. You want to hold the attention of that new market and have a way to advertise to them later.

If anyone has any questions, shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to help you out.

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