Friday, August 31, 2018

Paperback Update Stuff

Here's an article on Moving From Createspace to KDP that explains some things.  Mainly, I learned why I can't find the easy way to port my books over.  They don't give you the option, I guess, until they send you the letter.  And I haven't gotten mine yet.  I expect they're doing all the more important, better selling people first.  :shrug:

My proof for Sleeping Ugly arrived yesterday.  It's gorgeous.  Unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Createspace system and I had no way to approve it.  I wrote them a note and they fixed it.  I approved the paperback and it's available for purchase now at CS.  It'll be available on Amazon in 3-5 days.

Here's the paperback cover...
Pretty, eh?  She sends it to me only in PDF, so I had to screen capture the above, but that's basically it.

I'm waiting on the proof for Early Grave.  Here's the print cover I came up with for that...
Fingers crossed it looks as good in person.

Every finger crossed that my paperbacks work out with the Amazon printing process.  If I have to buy a new set of proofs for 12 books, it's going to put a dent in my budget.  And if I have to buy all new proofs, I'll be giving away old proofs.  My friggin' proof shelf is overloaded as it is.

Oh, and I ordered copies of Sleeping Ugly.  When those arrive, I'll do a giveaway or something.

Don't expect a paperback of Blink of an I any time soon.  I had planned to start that process after I did Early Grave, but then the CS thing became real.  It's gone this long without a paperback, it can go a little while longer.

Meanwhile, it's back to manuscript polishing on Unequal for me.  I have about a hundred pages left to go before I send this to AWE tomorrow.  And after I finish this, I will be back to writing new words on Ugly and the Beast

Have a great weekend, folks. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Stuff and Junk

Hey All.

First things first, apparently a bunch of people got notification letters*, so it's official that Createspace is closing.  Don't panic.  I seems like if you do nothing, Amazon will port all your books over for you eventually.  If you'd rather not trust them to do it right, you might want to start thinking about moving your titles over ASAP.

There was also something about being able to move all your titles at once, but I can't find that on Amazon.  I'll check CS.  And something about being able to just move your book without a whole bunch of set-up mess, which I thought I saw the last time I was in there, but last night I couldn't find it.

Okay, with that out of the way, I wanted to remind you all of the immortal words from Galaxy Quest: "Never give up.  Never surrender."  Yesterday morning, I was in crisis about my book.  Several of you gave me advice and pep talks and offers of assistance, all of which I appreciated.  Yesterday afternoon, I kicked my own ass and made myself do the work.  Once I got out of my own way, it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.  After I got rolling, it took me about three hours to fix all the problems with that horrid scene.  And I stopped for the night feeling pretty good about what I'd done.  We'll see what today's editing session brings.

Yesterday, between crisis and resolution, I read.  Which makes me want to remind you all again, find a good proofreader (or an editor who proofreads, too).  The book I'm reading is edited pretty well for all the other things, but it has a problem where an incorrect word is in place of the correct one.  I can't think of any examples this morning.  Oh, yeah, STATING instead of STARTING.  They missed the R and no one caught it because it's still a word and no amount of spellchecking software will catch it.  Now, I know mistakes happen, and if that was the only one, I wouldn't bother mentioning it.  But it's one of many so far and I'm only halfway through.  It's harshing what would otherwise be an awesome read. 

Speaking of software, Elizabeth Spann Craig mentioned a program the other day that helps edit for you - ProWritingAid.  She's not recommending it in place of a good editor, but more along the lines of using it to catch crap before you send to an editor or what have you.  It's only $50 a year, which is pretty reasonable if it helps stop flaws from muddying up your work.  I don't have the $50 to throw around right now, but I'll be thinking about it in the future. 

In a pinch, slogging through Word's grammar-checker will work, too.  Oh, it throws out a lot of suggestions that don't make sense, but it also catches things.  Use whatever tool you can to make your book the best it can be, right?

And that's about it for me this morning.  Feel free to chime in.

*I have not gotten any letters from CS yet, but I expect them shortly. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Lamenting Lost Reviews

Over the weekend, I lost all the reviews from a single reviewer.  That means one less review for about a half dozen of my books.

Since I have so few reviews, I know exactly which reviewer it was.  The name associated with all of the reviews was Linda.  I have no clue who Linda is.  So, she's not a friend or an associate or anything.  She was just someone who read my books and reviewed them.  And now her precious reviews are gone.

I don't call them precious because they were all glorious 5-stars praising the awesomeness of my writing.  In fact, she kinda hated In Deep Wish.  (Or rather, hated Jo in that particular book.  She didn't wait around to see how the character arc worked out.  :shrug:)   I called them precious, because when you only have single digits in the reviews, every one of them is crucial.  Hell, less than a hundred or so reviews* makes them all precious.

Reviews are harder to get than a winning lottery ticket.  (If you figure in the low-dollar winners.)  And I earned the reviews.  It wasn't luck that dropped them in my lap, that's for sure.  Oh, I could probably shell out some money to have my book distributed as freebies to reviewers.  (Not paying for reviews, but paying for the opportunity to get reviews.  Or something.)  Except I can't bring myself to do that. 

I'm not sure, and I have no way of knowing, what happened.  They were there on Friday.  Saturday, they were gone.  I lost some reviews earlier in the year, too.  DE dropped from 30 reviews to 29 reviews.  AD dropped from 10 to 9.  Now, they have 28 and 8.   Poor IDW had 6 and now it has 5.  Even if the star average went up a little, I can't be happy about that.

Whether it's Amazon policing fake reviews, or for some reason the person just deleted them, or somehow the person lost their Amazon account...  :deep sigh:  They're gone.  Probably forever.  Which makes me sad. 

Poor little lost reviews.  =o(

Anyway, if you've read any of my books, please review them.  If you've already reviewed them, thank you thank you thank you!  If you haven't read them, give them a try and then review them.  (Do not leave a review, ever, for a book you haven't read.  That's just wrong.)  Every honest, organic review helps*.


*I'm assuming that once you get more than a hundred reviews, you lose track of them and missing one won't crumple your sales.  I could be wrong, but I have no way of knowing at the moment.

**Okay, even bad reviews.  Because it's the number of reviews, in addition to the star average, that helps with marketing.  And marketing sells books.  And book sales are how writers keep writing more books.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Paperbacks and Formatting

Hey All. 

Since I'm hip deep in stuffs, and part of that is formatting books to become paperback copies, I thought I'd talk about that again. 

Sleeping Ugly is formatted and uploaded and the proof copy is on its way.  It's supposed to be here Thursday.  If all goes well, I'll approve the proof and it'll be available for purchase shortly after.

Yes, I used Createspace again.  Yes, there is a strong rumor that Createspace will be going away as Amazon (who bought Createspace a while back) tries to move everyone over to their print publishing.  I opted to go Createspace again because I am not interested in reinventing my wheels right now. 

I also spent the better part of yesterday formatting Early Grave for print and creating a print cover.  It's uploaded and I should be hearing later today if they accept the files.  Since I made my own cover here, I expect they'll grouse about something.  But I don't expect it to be too awfully bad and I should be able to order a proof shortly.

Next up is finally getting a paperback started for Blink of an I.  Then all my books will be available as paperbacks and all will be right with the world again. 

Once those three are approved and up for sale, I'll started the process of putting all the titles through Amazon print publishing.  The process is supposedly easier if you already have the books up on Createspace.  :shrug:  We'll see. 

I'm still leery of printing through Amazon because they're new and I'm unsure of the quality of their print books.  Then again, Createspace's quality ain't always the best either.  One of my books, they sent the wrong cover on the proof.  As in, the cover for someone else's book was on my proof.  A Christian Romance, if I remember correctly, wrapped around my proof of Fertile Ground.  I'm sure the cover was as shocked as my manuscript.  In another case, the manuscript pages were all printed slightly off.  They said the 'off' was within acceptable parameters.  Acceptable to them, maybe.  :shrug:  I guess, right now, it's 'better the devil you know' for me.

As for formatting, I know it sounds scary. But once you have a system for doing it, it's not really all that bad.  More tedious than difficult.  Which is why I dragged my heels on EG and Blink.  I hate tedium.

Here's my checklist for formatting a print copy:

1)  Type THE END
2)  Find and replace all double spacing between sentences with single spacing
3)  Remove all Bookmarks.
4)  Make sure everything is the font you’ve chosen for the book.
5)  Format all chapter headings as Headings.  Including THE END.
6)  Apply print font for Headings to all.
7)  Format all scene breaks for continuity within book and within series
8)  Create title page
9)  Create Copyright and Acknowledgements page
10)  Add in About the Author Page at the end
11)  Add in back matter.
12)  Create Section Breaks after Acknowledgements and after THE END
13)  Add Pages Numbers to manuscript section centered bottom
14) Verify ‘Link to Previous’ is unchecked
15)  Format Page Numbers to chosen look
16)  Set to ‘Different First Page’ in manuscript section
17)  Delete page number from first page of manuscript section
18)  Verify no page numbers in front matter section or back matter section
19)  Set page size to 5.5” x 8.5”
20)  Set margins to Top .88”, Bottom .88”, Inside .75”, Outside .63”
21)  Make sure margins are ‘mirrored’
22)  Verify all chapters start on right hand page.
23)  Print a few pages to verify it will look how you want it to look.
24)  Upload to Createspace

Feel free to borrow the above, but remember, your process may vary with regard to page size and margins.  There are also reasonably priced formatters out there, if you're not interested in the DIY.  The price I usually see quoted is $50.  I'd rather save the $50 and do it myself, but that's me.  And I have the time to do it, when I actually set my butt down.  Like I said, it takes about a day for me.  (Okay, not a whole day.  Maybe a couple hours over the course of a day.  Again, tedious but not hard.)

I print out the above for each book and then check the items off as I get them completed, so I don't miss a step.  (Like with UWC, which had no page numbers.  Derp.)  And I do all of this in MS Word.  The first 11 items should already have been done during the 'format for ebook' phase, but I like to have them there anyway, just in case.

Woo, that's a long post up there.  Thanks for reading all the way down, or for scrolling all the way down to here, if that's the case.  Any questions?  Comments? 

Oh, and it's not in the checklist, but if you're formatting for print, get rid of your Table of Contents and any hyperlinks.  They're not necessary and totally not clickable in a print book.  ;o)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

An Even Dozen

With the publication of Sleeping Ugly on Saturday, I'm at an even dozen published novels now. 

Five years ago, I couldn't even conceive of having that many book published, let alone publishing them all myself.  Of course, about five years ago was when I sat myself down and did some serious thinking about where my career was headed and how I was going to achieve my goal of being published when I kept running into the traditional publishing brick wall. 

About this time, fourteen years ago, I finished the first draft of my first novel.  Back then, I had been so certain I'd snag an agent and a publisher lickety-split.  (Waits for laughter to subside.)  Nine years of writing books and querying later and I'd had quite enough, thank you very much.  I decided to quit beating myself into a bloody pulp and do all of it my own damn self.

It was scary as hell. 

It's still scary as hell sometimes.

But I wouldn't go back.  I can't even imagine what going back would be like. 

Anyway, it's been a wild ride.  Twelve books.  My first book just rolled over $1K in sales.  I'm hoping to make it to $3K overall by the end of the year.  And I've spent - with the last payments made for Sleeping Ugly - just over $10K.  That's about $833 spent per book on average.

Umm, yeah, following the dream ain't cheap.  But the hope is always there that a book or two (or all of them... heh) will take off and turn my 'in the red' to 'in the black'. 

I keep plodding forward.  Book #13 - Unequal - should be out by the end of the year.  Thirteen books over the course of four years.  Not a bad bit of production there.  And not one I'd likely see if I was traditionally published.  From the time I first send a book to my editor to the time it's available for you to read takes about three months.  Tradpub takes way longer, from what I understand.  Nope, not going back.

I'll keep publishing books as long I have money to pay my editor and cover artist.  And as long as I still have fingers to type.  Good lord willin' and the crick don't rise.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Random Release Observations

In case you missed it, Sleeping Ugly released late Saturday night.   Here are some observations I made this time around...

1)  Sleeping Ugly's cover got washed out a little on Amazon.  It's way more electric than that.

2)  I got a ranking in Australia long before I got one in the US.  But I didn't make any Aussie sales before I had US ones, so I'm guessing someone downunder has KU and follows me.  G'day, mate.

3) I didn't have a 'release day'.  I had a release night.  I slept through most of it.

4) After I got the book uploaded for release, all I wanted was a nap.  No excitement.  No champagne.  No woohoo.  Just a nap.  I settled for no nap because it was almost dinner time and then I went to bed early.  Party like a rockstar.  Woo.

5) Formatting is easy once you have it down.  I have a checklist.  And it doesn't take long.  I spent maybe an hour formatting SU for epub.  I'll spend another hour or so today formatting for print*.

6) Amazon does not like Viner Hand font, which is what the title is supposed to be.  (It is Viner Hand in the PDF version I made, but I'm only passing that out to a few people.)  But it substituted something nice, so no big thing.  I could force it by using a graphic instead of actual font, but meh.  Amazon takes a penny for larger files.  I want my penny more than I want a cool font.

7)  If I put my head down and work like a husky pulling the sled by himself at the Iditarod, I can accomplish things and meet deadlines.  But it's tiring as hell. 

*In case you missed the news, Createspace might be going away within the next couple months.  I'll be shifting my books from there to Amazon's print thingie as soon as I can.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Sleeping Ugly Snippet

After a minor rewrite, which was approved by my editor with a stern admonition to stop rewriting things in this book, here's the set-in-stone* beginning of Sleeping Ugly.

Sleeping Ugly

Chapter One

It was morning. And I was ugly.

Imagine staggering past the bathroom mirror at the crack of eleven a.m. and catching a glimpse of a face even a mother mole rat couldn’t love when you’re used to something that graces billboards and magazines.  Considering every other day I woke up not ugly, which would easily turn into pretty after a gallon of coffee and convert into gorgeous with the judicious application of some war paint, it was the worst shock of my young life. 

I think I screamed.  I know I dropped to the floor, half-afraid some gruesome creature had staged a home invasion while I slept.  But after several moments of sheer panic, where nothing reached through to snatch me, I mustered my courage and rose.  As I peeked into the mirror, the monster did, too. 

When I moved, it moved.  When I frowned, it frowned.  When I ran a hand through my hair, its hand went through its scraggly mane.  No escaping the fact.  That face was mine.

I was ugly.  Ugg-Lee.  South end of a northbound goat ugly.  Beat with a brick and left for dead ugly.  Press my face in dough and make troll cookies ugly. 

To make matters worse, I had no clue what the hell had happened.  Where could my loveliness have gone? And why?  Whyyyyy?

As I dredged my memories, I pressed my throbbing head against the cool glass and tried to figure out if I’d been in some kind of horrible accident and after several weeks in the hospital, they’d released me so the staff could eat a meal without wanting to hurl. 

I came up with nothing.  And a glance at my phone showed I hadn’t lost so much as a day.  All I could recall was I’d gone to the city’s second trendiest nightclub, Spanky’s, the night before.  I’d danced a lot, drank a lot more, and gone home with the first available hottie.  Things got fun for a while and, afterwards, he’d gone on his merry way.  Like any number of other nights in a long string of pointless nights. 

Somehow or other, I rolled over mid-morning the next day with the usual hangover and fuzzy tongue.  And as ugly as sin.  Which was definitely not usual.

Not the best outcome for Jeni Braxxon, twenty-two year old model, to be perfectly honest. 

I had a photo shoot the following week, for petesakes.  I had an agent who kept promising me the cover of Vogue, if my career kept on the track she’d so carefully laid.  Sure, twenty-two is a bit old for a modeling career to take off, but I had hopes.  It had to take off.  It wasn’t like I possessed the skills to do anything else.  I’d managed to graduate high school without too sucktastic grades, but I was no Rhodes Scholar.  I’d gone to college for a semester and a half, but it wasn’t enough to get me a job above minimum wage.  And the minimum wage jobs I knew of?  Even on a good day, I’ve never been fit for fast food or retail sales. 

I pushed myself back and took another good, long look at the face in the mirror.  Which ain’t easy when your eyes want to jump out and run away.  It hadn’t gotten any better, and I had to admit that now I wasn’t even fit for menial jobs.  Who would want to buy food or clothes from a hag?

As the reel of coming attractions and past faults played in my head, I threw a towel over the mirror, shut all the curtains, and prepared for life as a hermit.  I spent the first ten hours of my ugliness sequestered inside my apartment with the phone turned off and the door bolted.  I gathered up more towels and covered every reflective surface in my apartment.  It was like someone was sitting Shiva in there. 

No way was I going to face my face again.  I couldn’t do it, and no one was going to make me.

Until that night when I attempted to get ready for bed. 

Brushing your teeth is an interesting experience when you can’t see your mouth.  So I sucked it up and pulled the towel down.  Prepped for a glimpse of gruesome, I got the second shock of the day.  Other than looking like I had the roughest day of my young life, I was me again.  Same almond-shaped, beautiful blue eyes, if a little bloodshot.  Same killer complexion, if a bit pale.  Same luxurious blonde hair, if lifeless, messy, and needing a good styling.  That thing I’d seen growing on my nose, whatever it was, had disappeared.  My lips were plump and pouty again, instead of a cracked slash above my warty chin.  And the three beard hairs were gone. 

Chalking the entire thing up to a lingering nightmare caused by the worst hangover ever, I swore off booze, turned my phone on to rejoin the world, and went to bed confident in my beauty.  I didn’t remember falling asleep.  I didn’t even remember dreaming.  I closed my eyes in the dark one minute and opened them the next in the soft light of dawn.

I didn’t even have to look at my reflection that time.  I knew.  I was ugly.  Again.  Ugh.

I wish I could say I experienced a tingle or a twitch.  Even a burning sensation in my nether regions would’ve been preferable, because it would’ve provided a warning.  Nope.  I got nothing.

Except ugly.  Overnight ugly.

At first, I totally doubted my sanity.  Nobody gets ugly overnight.  Then again, no one gets pretty throughout the day.  Either a person is always pretty, or they’re always ugly. 

Which meant I’d had a psychotic break.  Either now or one earlier in my life I’d totally missed.  Neither option made me feel any better about myself.  Of course, the only other answer seemed just as crazy.  That I’d been cursed. 

But magic isn’t real.  Curses don’t happen in real life—

Look for this to be out as soon as I can get it done and no later than the 29th (although I doubt it'll take me that long... barring disaster... knock on wood).  I'll splash links everywhere, so you won't miss it.

Meanwhile, go over to Goodreads and 'Want to Read' it.

*Unless someone finds a typo in there before it uploads to Amazon for publication. Or unless I missed a crutch word or two.  Or if I read it again before I've had adequate coffee and the sense to stop myself from tweaking it again.

Edited to add: I did it!  Sleeping Ugly went live on 8/18, like I said it would.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On Reading My Own Books

I was going to post a snippet of the mostly-edited beginning of Sleeping Ugly this morning, but as I sat there, reading it again and deciding what amount of it to post, I saw some stuff that needed changing.  Or I think it needed changing.  I changed it.  Then I sent that part off to AWE to get her take on it.  She may tell me I've lost my everlovin' mind.

They say a book is never actually finished.  An author will always find stuff that they feel needs to be changed - even after it's on the shelves for other people to read.  Which is why, once I upload a book for publication, I don't read it again.  There lies the path to madness.

Oh, I look at it after publication.  But only to make sure the formatting is correct.  I never read it.  Sometimes I get the urge, but I squelch it pretty hard. 

No, Meissner, I says to myself*.  Leave it alone.

Because I know if I ever do start to read the published work, I will have the overwhelming urge to take out the editing tools.  A snip here.  A changed word there.  An entirely re-written passage along the way.  And by the time I'm done, it won't be the same book other people have already read. 

That's why I'm always happy when some reader contacts me to point out a typo.  (As long as they're nice about it.  Which they have been so far.)  I mean, I do my damnedest to make sure there aren't any flaws, but I know one might slip by on occasion.  Except, since I never read my books once they go live on Amazon, I won't find them. 

Not re-reading my books is kind of a sanity saving device.  At some point, I have to say 'This is done.  Finished.  Finito."  And let it be.  Otherwise, I'd never get anything else done and nothing else would be published.  I'd just be editing all the time.  All The Time.  Ugh.

What about you?  If you're a writer, do you read your books again after they're published?  How do you quiet the internal editor if you do?  If you're a reader, have you ever contacted an author and told them about typos?  How'd that go for you?

*I call myself by my maiden name in my head.  Hubs is Sanderson.  I'm Meissner.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Short Stuffs and Mini Updates

I had an idea for Ugly and the Beast the other night.  I didn't get up and write it down and now it's gone.  All I'm left with is the memory of thinking it was really awesome.

Sleeping Ugly should be back to me tomorrow for final edits on my end.  As long as they aren't numerous or lengthy, I should be able to put this up for pre-order sometime before the 25th.  Or would you rather I just put the book up for sale when it's ready?

Part of me wants to put books up for pre-order.  Another part doesn't see the point. As a reader, I rarely pre-order books.  I don't like buying something and then waiting for the cost to come out of my bank account at some future date.  Cuz I might forget about it. 

Obviously, I am not going to have Ugly and the Beast ready to send to AWE any time soon.  So, I'm going to send her Unequal next, in order to have a fourth book come out this year.  From a sales standpoint, I probably should've buckled down and busted my ass to get UatB out next, but apparently that's not how I roll, baby. 

If you're keeping track, Sleeping Ugly will be my 12th published novel.

I had planned to do some marketing for the Once Upon a Djinn series this month, but since the stuff I had planned fell through, I scrapped the idea and went ahead and raised all the prices for those books to $3.99.  Now I have to wait 30 days to hold any kind of sales for those, so maybe next month I'll do something sparky. 

I still haven't done paperbacks for my last two books.  Do any of you care?  Cuz if I thought anyone cared, I'd be more motivated to get that stuff done. 

My cover artist is doing a paperback cover for Sleeping Ugly.  I'm still not sure if I'll go paperback with that book yet, but I'll have the option. 

Okay.  That's it.  Does anyone have any questions?  Comments?  Wisdoms?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Little Marketing Research

I've been doing an interesting experiment lately.  I've actually been scrolling through all the marketing newsletters and FB groups I'm subscribed to, looking for books I want to read.

Now, understand something, I only subscribed to these newsletters so I could see the ads I was placing with them.  I get at least a half dozen every day in email form.  There are at least another half dozen groups I follow in FB that bombard me with book ads throughout the day.

I didn't start this out as market research.  I just had some time and some inclination to look for new books to read.  But the more I flip through the emails and the FB postings, the more I'm learning about the venues I've been paying to market my books.

This is, of course, totally unscientific and all anecdotal.  Your mileage may vary.

The best newsletters for finding books, for me, have been Ereader News Today and the newly-found duo of Book Barbarian (SF/F) and Book Adrenaline (mystery, thriller, suspense).  Clear and concise ads with a big enough font that I don't have to enlarge anything to read them.  And large images. Plus, a wide selection every day.  I'm also finding some good stuff at Reading Deals, Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, and Book Gorilla.  (Although Book Gorilla is sometimes information overload.)

Another thing about Book Gorilla that I've noticed is that they have a bunch of books listed and then a big thing about their ongoing contest to win a Kindle Fire, and after that, a bunch more books.  Sort of a 'below the fold' kind of thing, which makes me wonder where my book would end up if I got an ad there.  I'm guessing below the fold since the 'above the fold' books all seemed to be trad-pub.  I received their newsletter for a while before I noticed there were other books down there.

If you're not familiar with Book Gorilla, I believe you have to pay for an ad with Kindle Nation Daily to get a free spot at BG.  And KND ads are expensive.  And I've been unimpressed with KND's offerings, for whatever that's worth.

ebooksdealsdaily only has like two books per email and they haven't been really interesting to me.  Booktastik is about the same.  The Fussy Librarian has a lot of books, but so far, only one that grabbed my interest enough to download it.  Omnimystery News also has a few books, but their last offering was mostly trad-pub and nothing I found really new or exciting.  (The first book was a "The Cat Who..." novel.  :shrug:)

ReadCheaply has a quality newsletter with some good books to offer, but again, nothing so far that's excited me enough to buy.  I'm a hard sell, though, and I've been looking for some very specific types of books*.

Goodkindles seems to be the worst for me, so far.  Their last offering was mostly self help and the fiction wasn't blowing my skirt up.  At all.

Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Bargains has an okay newsletter, but their main worth is in the FB page, I think.  I know I've gotten some nice sales numbers advertising there and I've picked up a couple books to read.

I follow Pixels of Ink on FB.  Not sure why.  In order to get an ad there, you have to sacrifice a virgin to the gods of internet advertising or something.  And I never seem to see any books in their ads that make me run off to spend money.  

Naturally, the best sales I've gotten from marketing with any of these places were through ENT.  They seem to be doing it right - both from a writer and a reader standpoint.

As always, this is just my opinion and personal observations.  Your experience with any of these places may be totally different.

So, tell me, do you subscribe to any book marketing newsletters?  I'm always on the lookout for new places to find books and new places to market.  Share away.

*New to me and underappreciated - which means less than like 30 reviews or whatever.  And 99c or free.  I'll pick up books that don't meet these requirements, but the cover copy really has to excite me.

Monday, August 6, 2018

I Haz a Sad

Yesterday, I was scrolling through my newsfeed stopping here and there to check out new-to-me books in the marketing listings.  Which I am wont to do on a lazy Sunday morning.  Especially when I had to DNF a book the night before.  (A whole other sad, lemme tell ya.)

Along the way, I saw a book that looked interesting along with a plea from the author with hopes people would find and love their book as much as they loved writing it.  Sounds like a plea I'd make, and I'm always on the hunt for underappreciated authors, so I clicked the link.  No reviews.  Okay.  A ranking approaching 3,000,000th.  Oh, no.  Poor thing.  Read the marketing copy...

First off, the marketing copy could've worked for any generic fantasy novel written by anyone, it was so unspecific.  It told me nothing about the book I was thinking about buying other than it was another brother n sister fantasy book in which they'd be discovering things and fighting things or some such blah.

So, I did the 'Look inside' thing.  First person... okay.  But the beginning reads like a note from the author telling the reader what they're going to find inside and it really didn't sound interesting.  a few paragraphs later, scene break.  Okay, I thinks to meself, time for the story to start.  Nope, not really.  The beginning was a hot mess.  MC goes to find his sister at the mall and ends up somewhere else.  BAM!  There you are at a pivotal moment.  No lead in whatsoever.  Over the course of like two paragraphs.

And here's the kicker.  The book shows it has a publisher* (one I've never heard of, so it may just be that the author made up a publisher name himself - which I hope he has a DBA for) and it's listed at $6.99.

New author, first book, unknown publisher... $7 ebook.  Umm, no.  I'm not willing to take that kind of chance with my money.  And judging from the sales ranking, neither is anyone else.  As poor as my sales have been throughout the past 4 years, I have never had a ranking that low.  Hell, I don't think I've ever seen a ranking that low in all the time I've been buying books at Amazon.

Now, as bad as the sum of my experiences with the beginning of this book were, I might've given it a chance at 99c.  I'm a sucker for the underdog sometimes.  His heartfelt plea tugged at my self-published author soul.  But my pocketbook is a hard-hearted thing.  I can support several other new authors for the price of his book (at 99c to $3.99 ea - which about all I'm willing to pay to take a chance).

All of the above is what gave me a sad.  I can see this struggling new author wringing his hands and wondering why the book of his heart is dying in the cold light of reader opinion.  He may never write another book.  And that makes me sad.  Because even as bad as it was in the beginning, there was something there that made me wonder if, perhaps, it wasn't such a bad book after all.  With some editing.  And a a bit of marketing finesse on the cover copy.  (Kind of like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.  All it needs is a little love to be beautiful.)

I would've told him this in his initial post to the marketing group, but these days you can't be sure when a bit of constructive criticism will make you a target for psycho.  So, while I can't help him directly, maybe this post will serve as a cautionary tale to other new writers.  Don't do the things that this guy did. 

*If the publisher listed is an actual publisher, they should be horsewhipped for what they're doing to this poor kid.  (Yeah, I wouldn't say kid except his bio says something about him graduating high school in 2010.  A year older than my daughter.  So, he's a kid to me.  And another thing - don't put high school stuff in your bio.  Just don't.) 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Coming Soon!

Okay, so for the past couple weeks, you've been seeing a coming soon thing over on the right there.  It's brown and it's boring, but it got the job done until I had a cover to show you.

Well, I have a cover to show you now!

And back cover copy! 

Looks aren’t everything…  And curses aren’t real… Yeah, right. 

Burgeoning supermodel, Jeni Braxxon is all about fun parties, cold drinks, and hot guys. But when she wakes up one morning as ugly as an infectious baboon’s butt, she understands how real this curse business can be. Too bad for Jeni, uncovering the existence of magic in her mundane world won’t uncover who cast this heinous spell or why. With the list of people she could’ve pissed off lately, the possibilities seem endless.

And as if she wasn’t already up shit’s creek, bigger worries keep slapping her upside her ugly head. Like her jerkstick brother’s disappearance, and why the police are trying to lay the blame at her pretty, pink feet. This is all way too much for a gal who lives by her looks, but she doesn’t really have any other choice. Higher stakes are on the line and, pretty damned cursed or not, she’s got to make it right.

Even if it kills her.

I'm still on track to have this out on August 29th.  I'm hoping to get the edits completed in time to put it up for pre-order on the 18th, but that's iffy.  We'll see.

And I'll have a Goodreads listing up shortly.  Stop back later for a link so you can Want to Read it.  Here's the Goodreads link.

I really hope you guys like this one.  It's definitely snarky and fun. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Editors and Editing

On Monday, I said I'd talk a bit in another post about finding a good editor.  This is the other post.

First off, you probably need an editor.  Sure, there are writers who can edit their own work successfully.  Those are few and far between.  I can count the ones I know on a single hand.  And I ain't one of them.  An editor is there to find things you won't or can't see.  Most writers are too close to their work to actually see the flaws in it.  I know that after I've read and re-read and lived a set of pages for however long it takes me to get it from the first paragraph to actual publication, I can no longer see what actually is on the page.  The words as I thought them might differ from the words as I wrote them, but I won't know because the thought words are paramount.  It's a thing.  :shrug:

Plus, you might think a certain scene is really awesome, but an objective eye might see it differently.  They might think that scene is awesome, too, but belongs further back.  Or they might think it doesn't fit at all.  And once they point it out, you might see it, too.  (Or not, depending on your mulishness.)

Okay, so you've admitted to yourself that you need an editor.  Where do you find one?  Well, in my case, for Dying Embers, I asked my writer friends if they could recommend anyone.  And I got a good editor who did well for that book.  She was also reasonably priced.  (We'll come back to 'reasonably priced' later.)  And, if I remember correctly, she edited in a timely fashion. 

She also edited Accidental Death for me, which did not go quite as well for any number of guessed at reasons.  I paid her and then I found someone else to edit behind her and fix what she didn't.  Which is how I got my current editor, by the way. 

Now, on the full disclosure thing, my current editor is someone who I've been friends with for years.  Friends long before I asked her to look over Accidental Death and tell me if she thought it needed more edits than my editor at the time was pointing out.  I trusted her to give it to me straight.  And she did.  And she does.  BUT... I do agree with the traditional wisdom that you shouldn't have friends be your editors.  With one caveat.  If your friend can be objective, they may also work well as an editor.  If they can't, then all you're doing is screwing yourself.  AWE is objective.  She kicks my ass when I need it and doesn't attempt to spare my feelings if they need a little bruising.  I mean, she's sorry when she has to do it, but she knows it's necessary for the success of the book.  She's never mean about it*.

And she's reasonably priced.  Yes, friends pay friends for services rendered.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

On the reasonably priced front...  I ran across a writer asking a question on a FB group recently.  She was asking about pricing for edits because someone had quoted her like $1000 for a 65K word manuscript.  Ummmm.... about twice what I pay.   And about twice what I paid the other editor.  And about twice what a lot of other people are paying their editors.  I'm not sure if the editor giving that double-cost quote had an awesome resume of experiences - like they used to be the editor for Michael Crichton or Nora Roberts or, I don't know, Gutenberg.  But I doubt seriously an editor with super duper qualifications would go pimping their services on FB groups.  About .0075 per word is the general yardstick.  If they're asking .015, run away and find a different editor.  Or ask them why they think they can charge that much.  Maybe they have a Doctorate in Editing Fictional Manuscripts from like Harvard or Oxford. 

On the other hand, you do get what you pay for, so if you've got someone telling you they can edit your novel-sized manuscript for $25, you should probably run away, too.  That one just doesn't pass the smell test.  Sniff, sniff... ewww.

In the end, finding an editor is hard work, but it's oh-so necessary.  And if you find the right one, hand onto them with both hands.  Your readers will thank you for it.

*The other day a writer I follow on FB was lamenting a note he'd gotten from his editor about the climax of his book.  In my opinion, the note was just mean.  And unprofessional.  And unhelpful.  But that's me.