I have a new author crush :)

I published my very first book in 2012 and I cannot believe that it’s been four years since my journey began. In that time, I wish I could say that I’ve made great strides toward bestseller status, but truth be told, it feels like I’m still only a few steps away from the starting line.

Ugh! What the poop have you been doing all these years, you might ask?

Well, I haven’t been completely holed up in a proverbial cave — only somewhat 🙂 Let me explain.

  • I have an incredibly stressful day job. I used to enjoy this job a very long time ago. Today, having this job is a necessity to support my household. I’m not going to belabor my agonies about my day job because that’s not the point. The thing is that at the end of the day, I’m wiped.
  • While I read books and buy self-publishing and marketing courses, I can’t seem to implement the lessons successfully. (I actually consider myself a pretty smart person, but this… this makes me feel like a complete idiot!)
  • Admittedly and with some embarrassment, I confess I have “shiny ball syndrome.” You know when the latest and greatest becomes your new toy and you forget about the old one? That’s me. I’m like this fat little bee going from flower to flower to collect what I need. But unlike the bumblebee who will actually do something useful with the pollen she collects, I just keep fluttering about until I’m so exhausted I just drop out of the sky, land in mud, and die.
  • In all my past endeavors, whether that be school or the jobs I’ve had, I’ve always achieved success. I was the good student, the good worker. I knew exactly, what I had to do. There was a path and I just had to follow it. I got A’s and I got the promotions and pay increases. School and work came very easily for me. I was successful with very little effort. This same level of achievement has not been happening for me in self-publishing. It’s been incredibly frustrating and makes me want to quit all the time.
  • I am afraid. Since self-publishing, I’ve realized that I’m fearful of everything — success, failure, criticism… When you fear everything, it becomes easier to be unknown. Being unknown is “safe.”
  • I could go on and on, but what it all comes down to is that I HAVE BEEN MY OWN WORST ENEMY! I’ve “failed” because of me. Have I been duped? Sure. I’ve spent good money on stupid products. I was upset about it then, but when I look back… I’m grateful for the consequence. Why? Because, I wouldn’t have fallen prey, if I hadn’t been looking for an easy way. I was an easy target. (So, buyer beware out there.)

Being an Indie and a self-published author is NOT EASY. It takes work, dedication, and patience. Since dipping my toes in self-publishing, I have taken the greatest journey of my life. While I feel like Sisyphus and his giant boulder right now, I have a feeling things are about to change.

If you are thinking about going into self-publishing, be prepared to work. There will be many days you will want to cry, pull your hair out, or make the next pint of ice-cream your new best friend. Be prepared that your passion for words will keep you up at night. Be prepared that self-publishing is a journey and there are no short-cuts. Finally, be prepared, that each time you write a book, you change for the better as a person.

Hang with me, I’m almost done… hahaha!

Why the post title? Because I have been re-evaluating why I’m doing this.

In my four years of chasing the shiny-ball and getting in my own way, I have forgotten and have completely gotten away from why I went into self-publishing in the first place.

In the last few years, the only time when self-publishing has been fun is when I’m actually writing or when I’m getting ideas and I start thinking about how far I could take a story or a concept. But because of my other responsibilities, there has been little time for the craft itself and I’ve been sad about that…

Then today, I came across an old podcast between Tom Corson-Knowles and Hugh Howey and I literally had to stop what I was doing and just listen. The interview was awesome and it reminded me of why I went into self-publishing! I love writing. Bottom line, our success as writers and authors lies within the pages we craft.

Maybe I haven’t been a complete failure. I have been writing in these four years and the fact that my books are not known now, doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way forever.

HUGH HOWEY, you are officially my new author crush. You have brought things in perspective for me when I needed it most. 

 

Publishing-Profits-Podcast-Cover-Image1If you want to listen to the interview with Hugh Howey, click here. I recommend you listen 🙂 it’s so good and it may give you a new perspective like it did with me.

I’ve only been able to listen to a few of the Publishing Profits podcasts, and Hugh Howey’s was one of the firsts, but for the ones I’ve heard, they’ve all been great and I’ve learned something valuable from each of them.

FYI–I’m not an affiliate of Publishing Profits. I just like sharing great content when I find it.

 

Does size really matter?

owlbookLOL! Just in case, you were wondering? Yes, size does matter. Specifically when we are talking about length.

I mean sometimes, a shorty will do depending on your mood, but there are times when full length is what you want to spend the night with.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

I’m talking about book lengths here.

So, this has been bugging me for a while. I hear and see different things on the web as far as guidelines when it comes to how long a book should be. What I’ve gleaned is that there are standards depending on the genre. These standard seem to have come about due to the many years of traditional publishing.

But, indie publishing is exploding and with that comes change. I guess I’ve wondered (as an Indie) if these traditional book lengths still hold water in this ever changing market. Well, here’s what I can tell you based on the searches I’ve done.

  • There’s a “guideline” on how long book lengths should be, but there’s nothing set in stone.
  • The market is changing as evidenced by Amazon’s push towards Short Reads. There’s a short-read option in almost every genre.
  • Ebook readers are growing in sales. This means more books are being read on electronic devices including smart phones. An average person’s reading stamina on an e-reader is not the same compared to a physical book.

I found this table on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count) and thought I’d share it here for a quick reference:

Classification Word count
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words

I also found this article by Lee Masterson and I just LOVE the way she sums up the answer to the age old question every author has probably asked at one point or another, “How long should my book be?”

Masterson says, “The simplest answer is: As long as it takes to tell the whole story.”

Check out Lee Masterson’s article here. She goes into more detail about word count guidelines from micro-fiction all the way to epics.

http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/wordcount.html

Happy creating!

Is there a difference between erotica and steamy romance?

Couple Kissing at SunsetWell… I have been pondering this question for some time now. Why? Because, I admit it, I read a lot of romance novels of all heat levels — all the way up to erotica; and I have noticed that the difference between erotica and steamy romance is very blurred.

I would say there is a difference, but at times it’s really hard to pick out and even harder to explain, but I’m going to try. The differences are based on my observations only and certainly not something I’ve scientifically researched.

So, what are the differences?

  • Descriptive word use
    • In erotica, you get a full frontal assault and there is no questioning what body part is receiving attention and what is getting done to that body part. The body part is glorified in all its splendor and there is no shame in the words used to pay it homage.
    • Steamy romance — the choice of words are softer, more subtle, not actually naming the part, but perhaps pointing to its location. Yes, there is plenty of loving attention to the body part as well, but attention is shown in a more “flowery” kind of way, but with a mix of a good “pounding” when needed. Catch my drift?
  • Frequency of sex
    • In erotica, all the time, all ways, any ways.
    • Steamy romance, there’s a buildup in the story that leads to the sex scene. In some stories, the couple may not get together until half way through the book — the peak if you will 🙂 LOL! I crack me up.
  • Focus
    • In erotica, the point of the story is the sex. The best way to describe this is with erotica anthologies. The focus of each short story is the sex — the how, when, and where, doesn’t really matter, but you know that in each story, that the couple will end up boinking.  Why, because that’s the point of the story. There is no plot twist, except maybe if the alpha male twists something on alpha female, but that’s it. The goal is for the couple to succumb to their lust and have brain numbing sex while they’re together.
    • Steamy erotica, like I said above, there’s a build up to the sexual encounter. The plot moves and winds for the couple to overcome certain things together and sex just happens to be one of the things that brings them closer. In most stories, the sex is the act that solidifies their bond and brings out their feelings of love. That’s where the “romance” comes in 🙂

LL0000A257

Here’s a few more related questions:

Can steamy romance have “explicit” language and scenes? Yes.

Then shouldn’t it be called “erotica?” Perhaps.

So is there really a difference, if steamy romance can have the same type of scenes that erotica can have? The difference may be miniscule and the only difference, may be in the way the author and/or publisher decide how to categorize the story and  market it.

Either way, as a reader, whether you purchase a book categorized under erotica or romance, I think it’s fair to say that you’re going to be reading some scenes that can have you wiggling in your pants — and really isn’t that the point of both these categories because when it comes down to it, a great author regardless of genre, will make you feel the characters — in this case the feel includes pleasure.

Happy reading!

 

Create a book trailer for free

12_Angels_Publishing_1One of the best things that I’ve learned how to do since becoming an author is to make my own book trailers.

Granted, my book trailers are not fancy like what  professional productions can create, but my trailers are decent. And best of all, I have a lot of fun creating them!

So, I’ve made about four of them for 12 Angels Publishing. The first trailer I made for Spirit 101, I did spend some money for pictures, but that was before I learned to scour the net for FREE stuff!

With a little patience and some imagination, you can create a book trailer too for very little to zero money.  For those of us creatives that have not yet figured out how to make money from our trade, free is always good!

I’ve listed the resources and tools I use below.  If you’d like to see what 12 Angels Publishing book trailers look like, please go visit my channel on You Tube.  I used my blue logo for this post, since that’s the same pic I’m using for the You Tube channel.

Click here for my channel 🙂

I have a PC with a Windows based operating system.  My PC came with Windows Movie Maker and this is what I use to put together the trailers. It’s super easy to use.  If I can figure it out, anyone can.  It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but there’s enough effects included to give you variety from project to project.

If you don’t have Windows Movie Maker, here’s a link you can check out. Windows Movie Maker.  Remember read the descriptions first and make sure it’s something that your PC can handle and pay attention to your PC’s security and firewalls before you download. I can’t guarantee safety of any of these downloads, I simply want to show you where you might find them for free.

For free stock pictures:

For free stock video:

For free royalty free music:

This list is not all inclusive and there are more free sites out there. Make sure you read the licensing rights and understand what kind of credits need to be given.  For me, I like to go ahead and include the artist names and/or website names of the sites I used to get my material.  I don’t mind giving credit where credit is due.

Again, I cannot guarantee any of these sites and I have no affiliation with any of them. I just happen to have found them and thankful that there are generous folks out there willing to share their work for free.

Here are the steps I take to create book trailer.  You might develop a different process and that’s ok too! Do what’s fun for you 🙂

  • I pick which book to create a trailer for. I know, obvious right?
  • Decide what kind of feel you want for the trailer — serious, dark, happy, whimsical.
  • Choose your pictures, images, and videos according to the feel you want to convey. Pick relevant images. I know, obvious — again 🙂
  • Choose your music according to the feel you want to convey
  • Arrange the order of your images. There’s lots of flexibility with this — you can always move them around in Windows Movie Maker.
  • Draft some text or caption that you want to include in the trailer.
  • Decide where you want those captions to show in the trailer
  • If you’re really savvy, choose SEO rich words to use. I don’t worry so much about this (at least not right now). I just want to have fun creating 🙂
  • Layer all your content together in Windows Movie Maker and then decide on the transitions and special effects that might smooth out your presentation and give it some “ooh-ahh” moments.
  • Have fun!

 

From a reader’s perspective

19 Jan 2005 --- Row of Old Books --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisI’ve read a lot of great books in my time and though I have a tendency to read a specific genre more than others, I can fairly say, I’ve read a little bit of everything.

I like to keep my options open and often times, my reading is ruled by my moods. Reading has always been a big part of my life and it is where I find solace in the craziness of the world.  When I was younger and had more time, I reveled in these escapes.  For me it was better than watching a movie. I felt more connected to the pages of a book where I could imagine the scenery and the characters and make them exactly as I saw them in my head.  I thought it was better than watching TV.

Now, that I’m pursuing my writing dreams, I don’t have as much time to read. Well not because I’m writing, but because I’m older and have more responsibilities and obligations that often require my full attention and unfortunately reading often takes a back seat to everything else that needs to be done first.

But, here’s the thing, in order to write better, I have to read. Not only to get ideas and inspiration, and learn about style and flow and all that great stuff, but also to remind myself what readers love about reading in the first place– readers read for the pure love and pleasure of the story.

The story is the vehicle that transports the reader to the world that the writer just created. Without a good story, even good writing practices, like perfect grammar can fall flat. The story is the life of the book.

I know, you’re probably saying, “Uh yeah! That’s a no brainer.” Yes, this is something that all writers are aware of, but sometimes, it is the most basic thing that needs to be brought up, so that people can be reminded.

I was recently reminded of this because, I promised to do a review of a book. I figure I have a little bit of free time right now and can read a short book pretty quickly. Well, here’s the thing… as I’m reading this book, I am looking at it strictly from a reader’s perspective and removing that writer side of me from the equation.

How’s it going? Well, reader-me is having an incredibly hard time reading. Why? Because, often times, I can’t tell whose character perspective I’m reading from. I feel like I’m jumping from one head to another and although, I’ve gotten used to it, I’m still struggling, especially when there’s dialogue.

This is really unfortunate because had I not promised to review, I would have probably put down the book chapters ago! But the one thing that is saving my attention from completely wandering is this –there is an interesting story that is building beneath all the head jumping. At this point, I feel committed to seeing it through… and so, I read on.

As a reader, I think there’s a lot of things I can overlook and imperfections I can forgive because for me it is about the story.  Does the author’s tale have the ability to take me away to another place and make me live the lives of his or her characters? If the answer is YES, then I’m captured and I’ll be a fan, and I’ll buy all your books without even reading your blurb 🙂

Sometimes it’s good to step back and see things from the other side 🙂

Happy reading, happy writing 🙂

Leaning forward

MC900303033[1]I was at a meeting yesterday at my day job.  The meeting had nothing at all to do with books or of my own personal goals to build my book biz.  But then there came a moment when the presenter felt like he tapped into the wanderings of my mind and began talking to me directly.

Of course, that wasn’t the case, but I had one of those instances when I felt like I was being given a divine message.  I’ve been questioning my abilities, skills, and even my desire to really stick this out and figure out what I need to do to become successful.  It’s been a year since I’ve published my book, but it hasn’t gained much traction.  I can blame this or that for this stall in progress, but I have to be honest with myself and claim the problem as me!

I’ve been afraid.  I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to take the steps I need to take the next leap of faith.

I can see where I want to be, but I can’t figure out the path I need to take to get there, but then in my meeting, the presenter said these things… “blah, blah, blah, and in order to build a program, you will need these…”

I woke up from the drowsiness that was sure to have me nodding off and I was like ‘hey, that makes sense!’  You know what he said?  Here it is:

  • Logo
  • Brand
  • Mission Statement
  • Integrity/Action Triggers
  • 3-5 year plan

Logo/Brand–this is how you will be identified.  Put this on everything you do to 12_Angels_Publishing_2associate yourself with your services and your products.  Your logo/brand represents you.

Mission Statement–what is your mission for doing what you are doing.  Why is it important?  What do you hope to accomplish? Put your heart into this statement.

Integrity/Action Triggers–what is the basis for your decisions?  These will be the guiding tenets of what you do.  For example, “I will only produce quality work.  Anything less will not be published.”

Plan–must have a plan.  What do you hope to do at the end of year.  What do you need to do each month, each week, each day to get closer to your goal? Adjust accordingly.  Plans sometimes don’t work out the way we like or anticipate.  Be open to adjust and to re-work the plan.

Good stuff right?  I thought so, but the most important takeaway from that meeting was the presenter’s emphasis on “leaning forward” and not giving up–ever! Perseverance is the word!

Even if you can’t take a step, just lean into it, push into it, and eventually you will move forward.  Every little thing that is done, is something done.

Creation takes time.  Building things that will last takes time.

Where does this leave me?  I’m back to the drawing board–again 🙂

 

 

Kindle Publishing

Magic bookI have one book published so far… and much to my dismay, it has taken much too long to follow up with a second book.  This is not to say, I don’t know what to write about because I certainly do.

It’s just I want to do things right the next time around.  I am learning so much since I first published Spirit 101 and there are some things I am definitely going to change when my follow up books are released.  I’m back at the drawing board–so to speak.

I’m not going for perfection–not yet, I’m going for better.  I figure each time I do this, it’s going to be better and more refined from my last efforts.  This is the great thing about Kindle Publishing, it is forgiving in the sense that the platform allows for do-overs.  How many other businesses allow for this type of growth and learning without too much loss?

Sure, it’s competitive, but at the same time the opportunities are so large that (in my humble opinion) there is plenty of room for everyone to experience evergreen success.

I want to build my book business not only to make my dreams a reality, but ultimately I would like to be able to help out other authors as well.  There is so much creativity out there and I think it is an incredible time when we authors have had tremendous doorways opened for all of us to succeed.  The kindle platform is probably by far the most ginormous doorway yet.

For those considering self-publishing, going through Amazon’s Kindle platform is a great way to go.  If you want to learn about how to put together your books and how to publish, here are a couple of free books (direct from Amazon) that tells you exactly how to do it.

Building Your Books For Kindle

Publish on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing

Other benefits of Kindle Publishing?

  • Most trusted marketplace in the world and growing.  This means built in consumers 🙂
  • Kindle is continually expanding
  • Amazon promotes you.  This isn’t an automatic, but if you do things right, you got the biggest book seller promoting your work.

If I can share any words of wisdom with you, I would say this… beware of gurus selling products that promise the world.  Do your research.  There are treasure troves of free information ready for the taking (like the manuals above)–you just have to be patient, sift through it all, and look with very discerning eyes.

Thanks for coming by!

 

 

 

 

Next steps

Conceptual Image - Stairway to change/freedom/creativity etc.Well the good news is that I’ve been busy writing.  However, now comes the time to edit and clean up and really start to polish the story to get it ready for publishing.

The funny thing is that even with all the work and love that has been poured into my story so far, the big work (at least in my opinion) is still yet to come…  Promotions and Marketing.

This is the part that really stumps me.  I don’t know why, but it’s like my brain has an aversion to it.  Maybe it’s because I don’t understand internet marketing and I know that for me, I need to understand the whys and the hows before I can show any remote interest in a subject–any subject.

Alas, this is something I cannot avoid.  As a “selfie” publisher, I don’t have a big publishing house to do my marketing.  This is something I need to learn to embrace and make my own.  I cannot be afraid of it.  It’ll remain an “unknown” until I get over this hesitation or perhaps fear that I have to tackle it head on.

I can’t do worse.  At this point, there’s only up, up, and up.  I was chatting with some other author friends today and they mentioned having a system in place.  I think that is sound advice and I have to find something that works for me and my schedule.  I may not be able to climb up the success ladder as fast as I’d like and I don’t need to run up the darn thing, I just need to ensure steady progress.

I need to forget about giant leaps and bounds and concentrate on baby steps.  I will reach my goal, one small step at a time.

If I don’t post for awhile, this is what I’ll be working on:

  • Set aside focused time to study Marketing and Promotions
  • Review the materials I’ve gathered on how to promote and market and hopefully find a process that works for me
  • Apply the lessons
  • See if the process/lessons worked
  • Re-work the process if needed

I’ll be back with an update 🙂  Wish me luck!

 

Keep on writing…

Yellow Autumn Leaves On TreesWhen I first started this blog, my goal was to share all that I’m learning in the journey I’ve undertaken as a new author.

It’s been full of ups and downs.  Mostly downs because when you feel like you are nothing but a little seedling that has yet to crack open, it is hard to imagine what that one day will feel like when your trunk has finally grown solid and strong and has soared to heights that was only imagined.

There are many “grown trees” in the forest, which sometimes feels like a jungle.  But, it’s just a matter of finding those trees, planting yourself near them, and hopefully with their help, the seedling will also grow into a strong, abundant, thriving, tree.

I think by now, you know that my analogy relates to my experience so far.  But this is what it feels like to be surrounded by authors who make it look so easy and effortless.  They make the process look like magic.  They write a book, publish, and bam they’re making lots of green!    My experience has not been like that.  Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been a bad experience at all, in fact it has been eye opening and I hope to one day reach the skies with my branches too like so many successful authors who have paved the way, but for now I’m still trying to figure this out.  But I believe that the sky is limitless and there’s plenty of room at the top.  I’ll get there too 🙂

Here’s what I want to share with you if you are thinking about going into self-publishing:

  1. Write, write, and write some more.  This is your product.  Make sure it is top quality.  There are lots of bad material out there and you don’t want to get pooled with that group.
  2. This is not an easy business.  There is lots to learn.  Be patient and be flexible.  Mistakes will be made, but the important thing is to find the lesson within the mistake.
  3. Make sure that you learn as much as you can about INTERNET MARKETING.  Because whether you like it or not, if you are a self-published author you are also an internet marketer.  (This has been my biggest stumbling block.)
  4. Learn about e-PUBLISHING and what it takes to publish your work on the very many platforms that are now available to authors.
  5. Find groups and forums that will help support your journey.  There is wealth of knowledge out there and I’ve found that the author community is very giving and helpful.  Check Twitter and Facebook for these groups.
  6. Invest wisely.  Seek out resources.  You won’t be able to do everything yourself.  Eventually you will need assistance and there are lots of freelancers out there who are more than capable of delivering to you what you need.  Figure out where you want to invest your time and money.

Alrighty then!  Till the next time 🙂

 

 

 

 

Still writing

A few posts ago, I informed you that I’ve started working on a fiction story.  I’m  still working on that story and having a great time doing it, but I am finding that it is a different experience from writing non-fiction.

From what I’ve learned so far, writing non-fiction was a very linear process.  I had my concept, I outlined, wrote, cleaned-up, edited, published and I was done… Well, not completely done, this list should actually conclude with marketing and promoting, but I have done very little of that.  You notice, I didn’t write “marketed and promoted?”  That’s because when you are self-published it seems that marketing and promoting need to be a constant and consistent effort in order to assure that your work is getting noticed.

Yes, there are those success stories who have achieved best-seller status without much effort in “advertising,” but that seems to be a rarity and perhaps one of those events where the cosmic powers have to be in just the perfect alignment in order for the book gods to bestow graces upon thy work.  Anyways :), it is possible, but realistically speaking, effort towards marketing and promoting seem to be a must.

At this point… I want to focus my efforts on writing.  I don’t have a lot of time to do everything that I need to do to fulfill the other responsibilities I have.  The writing, the books, that’s the product right?  The way I see it is like this… consumers want variety.  I only have one book.  I don’t have much of a product line.  My theory is that when I increase my inventory, I’ll have much more of an offering–theeeen I’ll do more marketing and promoting.

MP900255382[1]In all honesty, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but I’m following what feels best for me right now.  One day I know I’ll have more moments like the woman in the picture, where I’ll be peacefully sitting on a rock, (but I’d prefer a beach), watching the sunset as I contemplate my next great novel. In the meantime, it’s back to juggling my day job, being a wife and mom, and pursuing my dreams as an author.

Happy writing and best wishes to you.