Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Experience with a Facebook Book Release Party

Okay, I'll admit it.  I've never really gotten into Facebook before I became an author.  I never really had a reason to.  Now that I do, I still don't "get" it.  But last week, my PR Director (my wife) thought it would be a good idea to sign up to be part of a Facebook Book Release Party on a site called One More Chapter, a site that does book reviews and promotes a lot of different books.  I had no idea what it entailed and was a little apprehensive about doing one. 

I spoke with Jamie over at the site who walked me through what it was and what I would have to do.  So I signed up for the 5-6 time slot and then plotted my plan of action.  When the time came, I was a little nervous, not knowing how I would be received or what would happen.  It turns out that I had a great time.  The people on the site were friendly and very interested in what I had to say.  They became even more interested when I told them my story.

The hour went by incredibly fast, but not before I got to chat with a bunch of friendly and interesting people, a lot of them authors just like me.  I ended up getting to promote my book and gave a way a few copies as well as an Amazon gift card.  It was a wonderful experience and I can't wait to do it again really soon. 

Because of the release party, Jamie has honored me by spotlighting Vacant Hearts on their site starting this weekend.  It's a thrill to see my work being recognized.  Hopefully it will bring about more attention to my book. 

It should be another fun experience, to say the least!  Well, that's it for now.  Good luck and happy writing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vacant Hearts Status Update

From time to time, I'd like to show you how my book is doing now that it's been released.  The whole purpose of this blog is to show you what a typical first time writer goes through.  It's been 10 days since my first book was published.  In that time frame, I've sold exactly 18 books.  I've given away a few as well.

Is that what I expected?  Pretty much.  I think that the one thing a new author needs is exposure.  If the book is good enough, it will sell - as long as people know about it.  I currently sit at number 426, 668 on Amazon for all Kindle Books.  I'm just a little bit away from best seller status.  That's ok.  The beauty of ebooks is that they are timeless.  There's no limit on how long it can be on a "shelf".  Perhaps it takes a year for it to take off.  Maybe once books two and three are done, readership will explode.  I think my book is good.  So far the reviews have been very good.  Time will tell the rest.

But in the meantime, I will look for ways to promote it.  I'll find ways to get the word out somehow.   And all the while, I will not give up.  Even if Vacant Hearts ends up not being "successful" I'll continue to write what I love to write.  I've got ideas for many stories.  Writing is my passion, not my job.

Would I love to have a best seller?  Sure.  Once you do, it makes selling your other books very easy.  But it won't define me.  I will continue to write if no one buys my books at all.  So write what you love, and don't worry about the rest.     

Good luck and happy writing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Do You Write?

How do you write?  Do you have a desk in an office where you can close the door and not be disturbed?  Or do you write in a completely different way?  There is no correct answer other than you should be writing.

I write in one of several ways.  My primary vehicle for writing is Google Docs.  I use this for my rough draft before I switch to Microsoft Word or Libre Office to finish.  The primary reason I use Google Docs is portability.  I can use it on any computer that connects to the Internet.  In fact, when I'm at my daughter's gymnastics practice, I'll use Google Drive on my iPhone with a bluetooth keyboard.  It's the ultimate in portability.

When I'm at home, I use a laptop in bed.  I don't have a desk or office.  If I can, I'll put on my noise cancelling headphones and listen to my Music for Writing playlist on iTunes.  Otherwise, I'll just write while I make sure that the kids aren't fighting or destroying the house.  When I'm at work, I can sit at my desk and bang out a few sentences while I'm on break or lunch.

What do you do?  Some people need music but I've heard of at least one famous author who can't stand any noise whatsoever when she's writing.  I find it fascinating that we can all be doing the same thing but we all have different methods to do it.

That's all for now.  Happy writing!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Published My First Book! - Now What?

So on March 10, I self-published my first book.  There was the initial thrill of pressing the "publish" button, then the agonizing wait as it went through the vetting and reviewing process, then the final exhilaration of seeing my book for sale on Amazon.  The culmination of seven months of work was finished...  Now what?

Well, in my dream world, I sit back and watch my book sky rocket to the top of all the bestseller lists.  Then it's a matter of which Brinks Truck I need to deliver all that money to the bank.  In reality, it won't work that way.  Your book will have a decent first day as your friends and family (hopefully) support you.  After that, your sales will most likely be small or non-existent for awhile.

So rule number one is that after your book is published, you are not done.  You're only beginning.  You've got to get the word out to people.  Hit the review blogs, do whatever it takes to get your name out there.  Unfortunately, that book won't sell itself.

I have a theory about how an indie author ends up with a bestseller.  The answer is first, the book has to be good.  If it isn't, forget it, no amount of marketing can change the fact that a bad book is not going to sell.  Second, it takes a certain amount of luck.  Books that hit the bestseller lists, especially from unknown authors do so because of events falling into place, I believe.  It takes hard work, but if Amazon suddenly displays your book prominently for whatever reason, you can be sure that your sales will take off.  If Apple promotes your book as an up and coming author you are well on your way to being a bestselling author.  All it takes is that one break to get you going.

So while I market and wait for my chance, I'm still writing.  The more books you have for sale, the more books you can sell.  Now it's just a matter of selling enough to buy me that Tesla Model S!

Good luck and happy writing!

Monday, March 10, 2014

On Publishing - Or How to Make Newbie Mistakes

Today is the day that I released my first book to the public.  It was a trying weekend, trying to get the formatting down and making sure to find as many errors and typos as possible.  This leads me to today's post about my publishing experience.

I chose to publish my book on both and Amazon for reasons I mentioned in a previous post.  Over the last week, I worked on getting a preview up on Smashwords so that my readers would have a chance to look at the book before they bought it.  Before that, I was testing the book on kindle and iBooks to test the formatting.  I've come to realize that the two are not the same.

Smashwords will include a table of contents if you set up the text properly (use a header 1 format).  Amazon will not.  I had to include a table of contents for that one to show up.  Also, Smashwords was able to make my chapters start a new page, Amazon did not.  I had to manually add page breaks for those to work.  All this is the curse of the newbie novelist.  It didn't help that I set a deadline that was fast approaching.

To say the least, it was stressful.  I urge you to learn from my mistakes and make sure that you test all of this far in advance of your book's release date.  It will only help things go more smoothly.  Good luck and keep on writing!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Excerpt from Vacant Hearts for my Facebook Audience - Caution Contains Adult Content.

  “You know, a shower can be the ultimate sensual experience if done right.  How’d you like me to show you?”
     My eyes light up in anticipation.  “You can show me anything,” I say huskily.  Right now I’m feeling hot and wet and it isn't because of the shower.
     “Turn around,” he orders.  He puts my head under the shower until my hair is thoroughly soaked.  Then he takes some shampoo, squirts it onto my hair and begins to rub it in.  He has both of his hands in my hair, fingers massaging my scalp in slow long strokes.  It feels so good, that I have to moan out loud.  I move my head back and he takes his fingers and rakes them through my scalp from the top of my forehead to the bottom of my hair, which reaches the middle of my back.  I never knew that the simple act of shampooing my hair could turn into something so erotic, so hot.  He does this several times before he helps me wash it out.  Next, he does the same thing with the conditioner, working it into the bottom of my hair.
     I’m a little light-headed after that so he takes a break from me to wash his own hair quickly.  I lean up against the wall and watch him hungrily.  My eyes follow the suds as they drip down his body and I wish it was me tracing my fingers down instead.  He quickly rinses off and spins me around so I’m facing the wall away from the shower head.  “Don’t move,” he whispers into my ear.  I tremble with anticipation.
     I feel his hands on my shoulders, rubbing in some body wash.  He lathers me up and works his way down to my breasts, circling my nipples with his fingers.  He takes his time, soaping them up until I go weak at the knees.  Then he moves down, making slow circles on my belly.  Lower and lower he goes and I start to breathe heavily the closer he gets to my clit.  He puts his hands on my hips and slides them inward and down until he reaches my labia and then goes back to my hips.  He repeats this action several times until I push up against him in ecstasy.  Now he moves one hand to my clitoris, circling it, using the soap as a lubricant.  He presses down and alternates rubbing, circling and pinching.  I fall forward against the wall.  I can barely stand, my knees are trembling so violently, but he doesn’t stop.  He speeds up his motion and the sounds of desire escape from my lips.

Making the Important Decisions - Update

In the course of writing a book, I've come across many important decisions that need to be made.  Which places do I publish it?  Do I look for an agent or an editor?

There are a ton of choices that I must make before I finally publish.  Over the months that I've been writing and re-writing my first book, I've made nearly all the decisions that I've had to.  Here are some and an explanation why.

Where will I publish?   

Amazon (duh), and through Smashwords.  Smashwords gets me to almost all the ebook sites other than Amazon and at a really good commission (royalty) rate.

Do I look for an agent or an editor?  

At this point, I've not thought about an agent for a couple of reasons.  One, it would probably be hard for me to find one.  Since the ebook craze took over in earnest, there are tons of authors out there looking for representation.  I feel my time is better spent writing my book than searching for an agent.  At least at this time.  Once my book is published, then I can think more about an agent.  Remember an agent can open opportunities for you that you could never do yourself, but they will also take a decent percentage of your royalties.  For a first time author, it's too early for me to try to find a good agent.  It's a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly, however, and your experiences may be different than mine.

As for an editor, I think that all books would benefit from them.  The reality is, however, a good editor is fairly expensive.  For a first time book with no expectations of income, it's more than I'm willing to pay.  I did check into it, and the price of nearly $900-$1300 for a book of my size is way more than I can afford.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I chose to self edit at first, and then have a grammar expert (who happens to by my wife) edit it some more.  Is it ideal?  No.  But at this point, it's what I can do.  In the future I hope to be able to hire an editor for my works.  It will only help.  Be sure to look other options as well.  Writer's groups are a good way to get started.

There are many other decisions as well that must be made.  We'll talk about them in future posts.

On Deadlines and Release Dates

Forgive me my lack of entries.  Between kids, a job and editing, most of my time has been taken up.  I will endeavor to add entries much more quickly in the future.  Today I want to discuss deadlines and release dates; a subject I'm far too obsessed with right now.  My first story is done, with the exception of a final pass through.  I will be releasing it on March 10.  At that point, it's no longer my own and I will face all that comes with publishing a debut novel.

There is one thing I should mention when you come up on your own deadlines.  If your story is not ready, don't force it.  The only thing worse than missing a deadline is releasing a book that's not ready for consumption.  I'd rather disappoint my readers with a two-week delay than disappoint them with a crappy book.  One they can forgive, the other, not so much.

So remember, in your excitement to release a book, make sure it's ready.  Read it over and over again.  More importantly, have others look it over for mistakes and typos.  You don't have to be Hemingway as a writer.  Most of us aren't.  You don't even have to be an English major.  If you can tell a good tale, it will make up for a ton of flaws.  But what you should never do is release a book that's riddled with errors.  That is within your control.  Don't rely on spell check, rely on other people.  You'll be glad that you did.