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Why did I start my own publishing company? Because my first publisher put out a book loaded with mistakes and my 2nd publisher – who I once called a friend – has not paid me or even given me a breakdown of my royalties/sales that I have been asking for, for over 2 months. Because I’ve made so many mistakes being a newbie in this industry in trusting people I thought were looking out for me.
Through those mistakes I’ve learned a heap of information on how to produce a book the right way. Why give up a huge chunk of your money to someone (in this latter case, ALL my money) to people who are not going to meet your expectations?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge advocate for traditional publishing. But, I’ve learned from my mistakes – and fellow authors – that it’s more important to find the right publisher. The book covers, the book trailers, marketing material, the synopsis, my storylines and writing, the things that have received high praise from the public have been things that have come through the team of amazing people I have found. Jason Vollario, Holly Foreman, Jamie Butcher, Rebekah Montgomery, Jolene Campbell, and many others who work behind the scenes – who take pride in their work and truly are the best. The things that didn’t receive high praise? Are the things that were trusted with the publisher.

I’ve been told over and over again that my expectations are too high. Well, the only people who say that are the ones who have no interest in meeting them. The ones that don’t say that, are the team of people that are saying “Yeah, your expectations are high – and mine are higher.” Quality – that’s what’s happening here.

Yes, we’ll be producing other authors works in the new year. The plan is to produce one hard science fiction and one YA. Half Light Publishing is going outside the box and is truly a 21st century publishing house. We’re not fighting Amazon, we’re using them to our benefit.

I doubt I’ll see a penny of the money from my book sales over the last year and a half, especially considering I can’t even get a report on it. But, onward. I’ve endured a lot of tests this year and I’ll only come out stronger. How can I not? I’m surrounded by some AMAZING folks!

If you believe in me and my team – if you want to see this succeed, then contribute to the campaign. You can start as low as a $1 that will simply say “I believe in you guys”, or the $1 that will say “hey, I’m sorry you got screwed!” Whatever it is, please take a look. We have a few days left and a long way to go to reach our goal.

I Finished (or didn’t) NaNoWriMo, Now What?

Did you make it? If you did, big congrats! If you didn’t, big congrats as well! It takes a lot to commit to such a massive project when we all have so much going on in November.

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Wow, she really face planted

Yes, there’s 3 days left, but at this point, many of you are probably asking what happens next?

Here I come to save the day! (not really, but I like pretending I have a cape)

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What to do next? Follow these steps.

  • Finish your book. 50,000 words doesn’t really constitute a novel. Go through and fill in any plot holes and anywhere else that needs to be cushioned up.
  • Edit. Do a read through and highlight and areas that need any work. Once you’ve done a read through, go back and insert your edits. Do this as many times as needed until you get it to where you think it works.
  • Then send it to someone else to edit. There are 3 types of editing. Line Editing, Copy Editing, and Content Editing. If you’re a first time writer, chances are you don’t have the budget to pay for all 3 editors. (one is expensive enough). Join a writers group or a critique group, a workshop, or anywhere else where you can possibly trade for edits. I have some other ways where you can edit for cheap or free in this blog. 
  • Once you’ve edited it, decide whether you’re going to traditionally publish or self-publish. I cover the benefits of both in this blog post.
  • If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to do a ton of research on how to do this properly. If you want to skip that and order a self-publishing package, Half-light Publishing is offering a comprehensive self-publishing package through the indiegogo campaign.  I’ll be covering a blog post soon on getting traditionally published. Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog! 
  • Market your book! I cover marketing for new authors in this blog post. 

Want more info on writing? Click on the “On Writing” category just to the right for tons of free info on writing, publishing, and marketing your books. ~~~>

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Need new reading in your life? Check out my 2016 reading challenge.

NaNoWriMo Hump-Day Cheats

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We’re approaching the middle of the month and we’re also approaching the half-way mark for NaNo. Needing some pick me ups? Is that finish line looking impossible to cross? Here are some cheats I found that might help us get through!

People are beginning to get hostile – they’re starting to kill off their characters out of spite (guilty) – they’re eating all the chocolate!!!

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Don’t fret!

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Just follow some of these tips and we may save the day after-all.

Here’s a Harry Potter Crawl that was shared on the Half-Light Publishing page

Sign up for the 10,000 word marathon day from the comfort of your own home

Read how this blogger wrote for 464 days straight!

Read this blog on how to push through the middle!

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Need some more tips? Are you a planner? Try pantsing through a chapter. Are you a pantser? Try planning out a chapter. Instead of focusing so much on word count for the day – try doing this 7 day writing challenge.

Day 1: Have your main character do something completely unexpected

Day 2: Kill off an unexpected character

Day 3: Introduce an unexpected character

Day 4: Write an exquisite scene that involves food. Make it so good you can taste it

Day 5: Enjoy any of these writing prompts: War, Parade, Bang, Parade, Apology, Necklace, Poison

Day 6: Have your character encounter an unusual animal.

Day 7: Write an alternate ending

Thanks for playing! Let me know if you try any of my hump-day cheats and how you do! Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo – Why 50,000 Words Isn’t All It’s About

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I’m at Denny’s with my writing buddy, Debbie. I met her 3 years ago at a NaNo write-in and we’ve been meeting weekly since then to write. She has done NaNo every year for 10 years (I think this is her 11th) and has won every single year. Come to think of it, she should probably be the one to write this blog post. This is my 3rd year doing NaNo and I’m geared up to … lose for the third year in a row. And I’m perfectly okay with that – here’s why.

I’m a full-time writer. (I’m also a bunch of other crap, but that’s irrelevant for this post). Like everyone, life gets in the way for me – a lot. I sign up for NaNo every year with the point of using the motivation of other writers writing their butts off as motivation to help me get caught up in my own writing. And it helps – a lot. During NaNo, I may not get my 50k novel done, but I do walk away with a lot more than just the 50k goal. I usually write about 30-40k of edited work. (I edit as I write) Which on a good month, I’m lucky to get 20k in at all. But more importantly, each year of NaNo I’ve walked away with a better understanding of myself as a writer. I usually walk away with a new friend or two as well.

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To say NaNo is a challenge is an understatement. We learn a lot about ourselves and sometimes it’s not things we like to learn. Like how easily one can get distracted by Facebook and Pinterest. (The thorn in my side) And, how forcing yourself through writers block is a lot harder than it seems. And… how for some reason, we compare ourselves to the people doing better than us – instead of just seeing how far we’ve come. Hey, that 500 words you wrote in week 1? That’s 500 more words than you had before.

And sometimes, we have limitations we really can’t get past. This one’s hard for me to swallow because I was raised by parents who told me I could do anything I can put my mind to – and I believe it, to this day. So that means, some nights I’m hating my productivity, my work, and everything else that comes across my plate. My limitation I can’t get past? That I can’t do everything and I need to be ok with that.

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This year, has seemed especially tough for NaNo-ites. It seems like 2015 has just been brutal for everyone. Loss of loved ones, more battles with depression, hey – the economy is improving (Then why the fuck doesn’t it feel like my bank account is improving?), sick relatives, people being diagnosed with pretty devastating diseases that truly incapacitates them, and on and on and on.

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Yet, we’re already working to get through it – we are. Some of us are getting more words done on paper while others are getting through their own demons. We’re learning a lot about ourselves and most importantly, in a world where life is already increasingly difficult, we set out to conquer a mountain of a challenge. I don’t care if you don’t get a single word written, the fact that you looked outside your own comfort zone and said “I think I want to try something different” is already more than most people can say.

writer-moments6If you’re one of those people who are trying NaNo this year and are feeling down on yourself. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP. You are more than the sum of your words. Leave me a comment and let me know what NaNo has done for you and remind yourself of all that you are.

From, your newest fan.

Frequently Asked Questions – Or FAQ You!

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What do you think your best work is?

I think my best work to date is probably CLUSTERS. It took me a year of researching and writing to get it done – which is a long time for me. There were times where the writing was so emotional for me I had to walk away before the darkness settled on me too much.

What do you think your worst work is?

Bohemian Grove. I really had no clue what I was doing when I wrote that. I wasn’t even trying to write a book. I just had this story in my head that needed to come out and it did.

What made you decide to become a writer?

It just happened. I started writing one day and found that I couldn’t stop so that’s what I’m still doing.

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What is your favorite genre to write in?

Whatever one is calling to me at the moment. I don’t like walls or being told what to do. So I don’t like sticking to one genre either. It makes marketing a lot more difficult. But it’s what I love.

Do you listen to music when you write?

90% of the time. The other 10% is because I forgot to bring my earbuds.

Who’s your favorite author?

Dean Koontz and Stephen King. So when my work (CLUSTERS and Anna Hyde) was recently compared to them, I had a little fangirl freak-out.

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Traditional Publishing or Self Publishing?

I still 100% believe that traditional publishing is the way to go for anyone who takes their writing seriously. And the people who don’t take their writing seriously shouldn’t do either. I also believe that once you’re traditionally published, there will be certain manuscripts that will require self-publishing.

If you could make any of your books into a movie, which one would it be?

Definitely Clusters. I just think it’s so aesthetically magnificent that it just needs to be on the big screen. The characters are so real to me that it would be nice to see them three-dimensional. (Four dimensional?) I think Anna Hyde would be fun too, but not sure how anyone could pull it off.

Do any of your characters play off of people you know or actors?

Only one… Jibril from the Bohemian Grove trilogy. That one was Woody Harrelson. Since then, my writing has grown enough that my characters are true to themselves and like all of us, can’t really be ‘played’ by anyone.

Do you ever see yourself in any of your characters?

tumblr_nu9gjlyi8F1tavs5io1_500Gosh, I hope not. My characters are pretty disturbed individuals. I’ve had people say they think Carter is me. But that’s too complimentary. She’s a nice person with no evil intentions.

How do you find the time to write?

You make time. It’s like anything. If you want something bad enough you’ll find a way.

How do you know when you’re done writing a book?

Instinct.

What are you reading now?

Arguably Essays by Christopher Hitchens and a Philippa Gregory story.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on two manuscripts that I’ll be shopping out to agents as I look to take the next step up in my career. One is a straight murder-mystery and the other is historical fiction. I couldn’t decide which one to shop so I’m doing both.

What books do you have coming out?

A zombie anthology, Z Resurrected, next month and Children at the Window – which got pushed back to late fall.

What’s your best advice for aspiring authors?

Everyone has advice and most of it is good advice, but not all of it is pertinent to you. Follow your instinct and ignore the naysayers.

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Have any other questions? Post below and I’ll answer!

To Read – Or Not to Read (Reviews, that is)

“How do you feel if someone sends you a critique of your work?”

everyone else, “I welcome it! I want my work to improve.”

me. “I hate it and avoid it at all costs.”

“How do you feel about negative reviews?”

everyone else, “I welcome it! I want my work to improve.”

me. “I hate it and avoid it at all costs.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t think I’m a good writer. OK – I probably shouldn’t be saying that on my blog post to my readers and author friends because you guys are nice and supportive and will tell me otherwise. But the thing is, I don’t really believe you. It’s not your fault – it’s totally me — and I’m fine with it. It’s just how I function. So, when I hear a negative review or someone sends me a critique – it stalls me. Big time. In my head I’m thinking “I knew it! I knew it! I knew I sucked. I shouldn’t write anymore.”

Why do I share this? Because I know I’m not alone in this and I share things with you guys. There’s no other reason, really. I write as therapy – and this is my therapy right now.

I need it.

A friend picked up one of my books recently and mentioned they’d post a review. I thanked them. I love when people post reviews (I love getting reviews on books – whether they’re good or bad – I just feel really weird reading them). I read ARC reviews and I read book blogger reviews because I feel it’s the least I can do, but honestly – each time I get an anxiety attack.

Then this person said they’d send me the review. I said “That’s ok, I don’t read reviews.”

Well, they didn’t send me their review (although they offered again) but they did go on… and on… about what they hated about my book.

I’m not really sure what this person said. Because as soon as I started reading/skimming what they said I felt like I was having a heart attack — really. This was 4 days ago and I’m still reeling from it. In fact, I’ve yet to write a single word on already seriously past due manuscripts. I just know that they started listing all the things they didn’t like. I remember things like “didn’t like your character, didn’t do anything for me” etc…

Yeah, it was awful. Here’s the thing. I’m already not a fan of this book this person read – but still. It’s my baby. They all are. They’re all my babies and I don’t care how ugly my baby is, it’s my baby.

I’ve seen people post in groups that they sent so and so a critique of a book that said person asked they read and this person flew off the handle, or blocked them, or had some sort of emotional reaction. Everyone comes to the rescue and says how unprofessional it is and so on.

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Then, here I am in the corner thinking – I don’t really blame them and know how they feel.

See, the book is in print. There’s not much we (as authors) can do. There’s nothing I can do. It’s different for someone who has an e-book and can quickly edit and throw it back up on Amazon. That’s not the case for me. Even if it wasn’t, I don’t want to hear negative things from others. The bottom line of why is I already know all the negative stuff. Because I’ve thought it myself, times 10.

So, if I don’t hear critiques, how do I improve? I read — a lot. I’m teaching myself and if you read my books from my first book to my most recent, you’ll see I’m improving – and part of the reason why is because I am so hard on myself. Besides that, I have editors and beta readers and writing buddies and a publisher and… yeah – I have professionals and experts telling me what they love and don’t love about my work. It’s a lot easier for me to handle this (and I welcome it) as I’m working on a project. But once THE END is up and the book goes to print, I’m done. I don’t want the critiques.

Also, I can see why author Jane doesn’t want their random friend messaging them on Facebook to hear all the typos and mistakes they’ve made. It’s one thing to brace yourself and head over to Amazon and Goodreads to read reviews – or to pick up the paper or click on the blog link. You have time to prepare and emotionally take a deep breath before reading that review with one eye closed.

But when you’re randomly messaging someone to say what you don’t like about their baby, you just don’t know where they are or what their situation is.

Did I add that this friend messaged me about my book minutes after I received pretty terrible news? Yeah – it was truly like pouring salt into a wound.

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So tread lightly my fellow readers. Us writers have hearts and some are more fragile than others.

Leave your reviews for the official sites and a little tip if you’re telling someone what you don’t like about their work. Email them and put in the subject line that review is attached. They may just hold onto that email for a time they’re prepared to read it. But please, if you’re a personal friend, don’t just throw them bad news. It sucks.

I’m still working on getting back to my writing – but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve felt like doing everything but writing since this message. But, I promise, I’ll get there.

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Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing? That is the Question

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So you’ve completed your first manuscript – or tenth. Now you need to get it in the hands of readers – but what’s the best way to do that?

I’ve reached out to several published author friends and wanted their take on self-publishing and traditional publishing. The tables have turned recently and I hear countless authors say there’s no point in traditional publishing. I wanted to put this debate to bed. (Hey, no one ever said I didn’t have lofty goals.) So which is best; self publishing or traditional publishing? The short and simple answer is it depends on the author.

Consider this more of a guide and before you knock traditional publishing completely off the table, take a look at what it can still do that no one else can.

I’ll be breaking down self publishing, small/medium press, and big 6. (or 5 or 4…) I’ll also touch lightly on agents.

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Self-Publishing

This is the easiest one to speak about since most people are familiar with it – so I’ll tackle this first. The benefits to self-publishing are pretty clear. You have almost full control and get to keep a higher chunk of the commissions. These are the benefits.

However, while you’re keeping a large chunk of the commissions – you’re also putting upfront money into the publishing. If you’re not? You’re doing yourself and your fellow self-published authors a huge disservice.

The costs of self-publishing will usually include Editing (Between $400 – $5000), proofreading ($400-$1000), Cover design ($100-$5,000), Formatting ($150-$400), Print Run ($100-$1500), and then marketing – which easily goes into the thousands. Are these numbers out of your budget? Don’t feel bad, they are for most people. There are ways to raise money for book publishing like crowdsourcing, fundraising events, pre-orders, etc – but that’s another topic for another day.

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However, the most difficult part of self-publishing is getting your book into the hands of readers. Along with all the cash you’re fronting you’ll also need to cough up a huge chunk of your time to self-promoting, begging (yes, you’ll probably need to beg a lot of book stores, libraries, bloggers, etc to give you the time of day, but I’ll explain why later)

I have a few self-published novels and my #1 reason for self-publishing these manuscripts was control and sellability (new word). I was writing something that wasn’t sellable to agents and publishers because it didn’t fit mainstream and I wanted to have control from beginning to end on these books. I did it realizing I was going to be investing a lot of money into it.

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Small & Medium Press

Are you really tight on budget but don’t want to spend months (even years) querying out agents and publishers? Don’t want to write several novels per year or deal with the commitment of working with a major publisher? Small & Medium press publishing houses are middle of the ground between big publisher and self-publishing.

The smaller houses won’t have the same pull as a big publisher but they have benefits that the big publishing houses necessarily won’t have. They’re more apt to taking a more risky genre or cross-genre, a unique style of writing, etc. They also will probably give you more control over the end product and more of a say in general.

They’re also hit and miss. I’ve worked with two small press publishers so far and the first was a disaster – but boy did I learn some lessons.

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Either way, when looking up publishers – do your research. One useful site is the Preditors and Editors site. Although they don’t seem to have updated their site in about a year, they do have some relevant information. Be weary of print on demand publishing houses (also called vanity press). This is glorified self-publishing and most vanity press houses tend to majorly overcharge. A traditional publisher won’t charge you anything and will only take a percentage of commissions, generally.

The Big Publishers (Also known as the Big 6, The Big 5, The Big 4, etc)

The so-called Big Five publishers — Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster.

I spoke to Jeff Mariotte about the benefits of being with one of the big 5 and this is what he said.

Back in 2004-05, Simon & Schuster published (under their Simon Pulse YA imprint) a 4-book YA/horror series called Witch Season. They published the books in mass market, and included the series in their YA print “magazine” that went out to their mailing list (now they just do an email list). A few years later–after things like Twilight came around and changed the landscape for supernatural/paranormal YA–they repackaged the whole series, retitled it (as Dark Vengeance), allowed me to do some updating of the text, and put it out in two trade paperbacks with new covers.

They placed 25K copies in Walmart first, then did an exclusive set for Borders, an exclusive set for B&N, and a non-exclusive set for everybody. They’re still in print, and still selling once in a while. Virtually none of that would have been possible for me on my own, or for a small press.

I know what it’s like to have reached a sort of cap as an author with a small press company and I can only imagine how much harder it would’ve been as a self-published author. I’ve had local book stores, the big Cons, and others turn me away simply because I’m not signed with one of the big 5. It means I haven’t proven myself as a writer to them and they don’t have the time to read my work (along with the thousands of other authors trying to get their foot in the door) to see if I’m worthy. Who can blame them?

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One of the best reasons to go traditional is because more and more authors are self-publishing crap and no matter how good you are, you’re still thrown into the mix. I see my friends who have fantastic contracts with big publishing houses and friends who are doing fantastic as self-published authors and then everything in between.

If you’re someone who only wants to write the one book and publish it then don’t stress yourself out over all the options. Self-publish your book and ride the wave. However, if you’re someone who wants to be a full-time author, then think seriously about traditional publishing. It’s much more difficult to get your foot in the door with them, but that door keeps a lot of other doors from slamming in your face.

Plus it’s hell of an awesome bragging right.

How to Get Your Book Edited For Little to No Cost

I’m in quite a few author groups – whether it’s on social media or in person – and one of the most common, beating a dead horse, topics is editing.

I find it interesting that this is even the case or that it’s even an issue that’s brought up. But most established authors I’ve spoken to, in fact — all of them — agree that editing is one of the most important things to a book and is usually one of the biggest problems for indie authors. They think they can get away with editing the books themselves or having their Aunt Betty who happens to be an English teacher edit the book.

No. Just … no.

Ok.. so you probably already agree with this, which is why you’re here, right?

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Yes, you know editing your book is important but you are on a tight budget.

First, let’s break this down.

Let’s say your budget is only $200. (If even that) I don’t know any professional editors who will edit a 40,000 word + book for less than $400. So that’s out. Right?

Maybe.

But we’ll get to that in a second.

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Let’s say you don’t do this the right way (which many don’t). You decide to edit the book yourself, do the cover yourself, etc and save yourself $500-$1500. (or more)

Chances are, you’ll never make more than $500 on that book. Ever. Because with the amount of books that are on Amazon today and the amount of books being pushed up on a daily basis from new authors and publishers who are upping their game as well as the established, beloved authors already out there, your chances of getting noticed by the public is less than .001%

Don’t believe me? Do that math. According to askville.amazon.com Amazon has about 5,000,000 titles and 800,000 Kindle books.

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Bowker reports that over one million (1,052,803) books were published in the U.S. in 2009, which is more than triple the number of books published four years earlier (2005)

Which means that there are at least 2,000,000 books published in the US alone, each year.

How are you feeling now? You need a little edge, don’t you?

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So you don’t have the Big 6 connections or even small press hoorah, but you need to stand out. More and more readers are becoming savvy and able to see who’s indie or not. There’s a percentage of readers who love giving indie authors a chance but most readers don’t want to risk their hard earned $10 on an author they don’t know.

I talk a little about marketing and the things that an author should do on another blog post – but this is about editing.

First, 3 mistakes new authors make with editing.

1. Thinking they or their smart friends can edit the book for them. Your English teacher doesn’t understand the writing craft. Chances are, she’ll be able to tell you your grammar is on the money or not, but she can’t polish up your sentences like another author, editor, or publisher can.

2. Putting the book up  before it’s ready thinking they can easily pull it down and fix it. Don’t do this. It makes you look like an ass. That’s all there is to it.

3. Only doing one round of edits. I hate editing. I do. I think I hate editing more than anyone else. But, it’s a necessary evil and you owe it to your readers. Do your first round of edits before you even send it off to a professional.

Now, how to get it to a professional without paying an arm and a leg.

1. Join a critique group. This will help you figure out common mistakes you’re making.

2. Do editing exchanges with another author. This one’s tough because it’s almost the blind leading the blind. I’d almost say bring in a third author to try to smooth it out even more. But it’s better than editing yourself.

3. Seek out students studying literature, interns of publishing houses, or anyone in the industry that’s trying to get in and looking for experience but also a little extra money.

4. Fiverr.com – Ok, this is my least favorite suggestion. But it’s a suggestion and I think you guys need to see what’s available. Fiverr is a site where you pay $5 (fiverr) for whatever services you find listed. Everything from logos, to trailers, to editing. Yes, editing. Granted, the $5 is not getting you a full length novel edit, but it’s super cheap. Drawbacks, you don’t really have any quality control over it. It’s usually only line/grammar edits – and it can get pretty sleazy. If you go this route (which I don’t recommend) make sure they have enough positive reviews and have been around long enough that they’re not just a scam.

5. Craig’s List – This is another one like above and an even bigger shot in the dark. But again, it’s another option.

6. Attend writers workshops. You’ll get great tips from already established authors (hopefully), sometimes you can even get your work critiqued there, and even better – you can meet other aspiring authors who are willing to exchange work with you.

7. Join writers groups on Facebook. There are tons of groups on Facebook and even genre specific. But, don’t go in there expecting to be able to spam the group or just jump in with automatic feedback. Like anything, you need to build a relationship and the group needs to know they can trust you as much as you can trust them.

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8. Find someone who loves to read to be your beta reader. Find someone who is a voracious reader and have them read your book. Hopefully they’ll be honest with you and tell you what they like and don’t like and don’t expect actual editing from them. But they’ll be able to help you with plot holes, pace, congruency, and actually might catch some editing errors.

9. Join groups on Goodreads. Same as the Facebook one, it takes to build a relationship and find the right group.

10. Read. The best authors are avid readers.

The New Amazon Author Program and What it Doesn’t Mean

It’s madness! Amazon made a major (not really) change to their set up in how they pay every single author (wrong) and everyone is up in arms (yeah, this part is true).

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Here it is in the simplest form of what is really happening:

Amazon has a Kindle lending program. Amazon customers who own a Kindle device (not the Kindle app) and are a member of Prime ($99 a year) can borrow from a library of about 800,000 books of which authors have enrolled their books.

This is direct from the Amazon site

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Ok – so before I tackle the misconceptions I want to share a bit of history.

In a nutshell, authors who enrolled their books into the lending program where Prime members could borrow their book for free were in a pool with other authors where they shared a percentage of the profits made from Prime members. This was already in place. Authors who opted to enroll in this program were not getting paid on these books like they traditionally get paid on any book.

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Important, read this ~> Here’s what happened. A large group of people figured out a way to make the most of this program and started creating these ‘books’ that weren’t really worth their weight in water and created a marketing campaign around it. It went something like this. “Sign up for my newsletter and get my weight loss e-book for free!” Not only were they creating a hefty size mailing list of people but they were getting an EQUAL percentage of these sales from authors who were genuinely putting books up to be read.

These people who received these books for free would most likely never read even the first page and if they did, realized it wasn’t worth anything and just left it at that. It didn’t cost anything to them so they didn’t create a fuss about it.

Unfortunately, I know some of these people and they thought it was the greatest sales promo. (I disagree, but that’s another topic) There were other types of ‘books’ going up taking advantage in similar ways and thus taking away from the profits of legitimate authors.

Anyway… Here are the changes.

Now, instead of paying all these authors equally a percentage of the sales like they have been they made some changes. These changes will most likely get rid of these sales scams and scam authors but it will improve the overall quality of the books that are going up into the program because you get paid based on pages read.

Is it a perfect program? No. But it’s important to remember that it’s 100% volunteered. There’s 800,000 books in the program which means that a small percentage of books are enrolled. If someone on Amazon (or even someone with a Kindle) purchases your book, you get paid like you always have. 

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This is only for borrowed books!

I repeat

This… is only… for borrowed… books!

Ok, so stop freaking out everyone.

Yes, there are drawbacks to it. Maybe someone borrowed your book from the program and had good intentions of reading it but never does. Do you get paid? No. But, as authors, we want people reading our books. This is really how we will get more sales. Because people who read books tell others about said books.

If you’re enrolled in this program and you see your sales drop, then it’s good to note that your book is intriguing enough to be picked up – but something happens that people don’t read it. This is an important thing for us authors to know. Use it as a marketing tool to better understand how to improve yourself and in the end, if you’re still not happy – drop out of the program. It’s really that simple.

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As for those saying, how does it help author with sales? It doesn’t. Amazon is a consumer site and their priority is their customer, not us. We need to stop expecting so much from places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble because they sell books to the readers. It’s our job to find out how to increase readership, not theirs.

So here’s a brief recap for those of you who like to pick and choose what you want to read out of an article or blog post: 

1. If someone purchases your book on Amazon, you get paid like you always have. Nothing has changed in the purchasing of books.

2. Amazon is not keeping money. At least no more than they have before. In fact, with the release of the program, they added approximately $11 million more to the pool.

3. Authors are not forced into this. This is 100% volunteered.

4. It’s not a perfect program – nothing is.

5. This will only affect those who borrow books through their Prime membership for their Kindle device.

Happy reading!

10 Ways To Get Reviews For Your Book

The million dollar question almost every author asks (one which I’m continuously battling myself) is how to get more reviews short of shaking your friends by the collar and yelling “What’s wrong with you fool?! Don’t you know this is as good as money for me? You can’t take 30 seconds of your Facebook time to write me a review on Amazon or Goodreads? I’m not desperate, I’ll even take one over the other if it’s too much work…”

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Yeah… that might now work. (or it might, I haven’t tried it — in its entirety)

But seriously, how to get reviews? Well, we’ll go by what I’ve been told – because thousands of book sales later and I’m still short on reviews. But hey, I have reviews? From what I’ve heard and my own personal experience is you’ll get 1 review for every 500-1000 book sales. Yikes!

But here are some shameless ways to get those reviews

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  1. Ask your friends, in a private message. Hey, try picking up the phone and asking them. Seriously. If they’ve read your book ask them if they’ll leave a review. If they say sure, say “Great! As soon as we hang up, I’ll send you the Amazon and Goodreads links so that you don’t have to hunt them down.” Here’s another tip, let them know you’re not looking for a NY Times type review. From what I’ve heard from my own friends and why they spent so long before leaving reviews is because they didn’t want to just leave some lame review. They didn’t realize that anything is better than nothing. So help them out. “I’m not looking for anything crazy – something as simple as “good book!” or “this was decent” will work!” (Please don’t ask for a 5 star review. Let them know you’re looking for honest reviews and let’s just hope they give you 5 stars.)
  2. Do a Goodreads giveaway. You can giveaway as many books as you like (they need to be in print of course) – but no need to go more than 5 books. Most Goodreads reviewers are kind enough to leave reviews (just not kind reviews in many cases).
  3. Have an ARC sign up. Don’t know what an ARC is? See my post here This is a great way to get reviews before your book is even out
  4. Send your book out to official sites like Kirkus, MakeUseOf lists off some of the official sites (it’s also worth nothing that the comment thread actually almost provides better info than the blog link itself) Also, places like Kirkus are costly – but hey, it’s another way to get reviews, you asked.
  5. Blog tours like Xpresso Blog Tours, etc are official sites that set up blog tours where a lot of the bloggers will review your book for free. (The tours aren’t free though)
  6. Book sales – I know, this is redundant. But really, that’s what it comes out to. It’s a numbers game. The reason why Harry Potter has over 3 million reviews is because 400 million copies in 68 languages have been sold. (Whoa) The book world is a slow one – from writing it, to publishing, to reviews, readers, and sales. It really should be called Turtle world – except I think turtles move faster.
  7. Review exchanges. This is my least favorite. Mostly because I hate reading things I wasn’t compelled to read in the first place – but not everyone is like me. Find other authors who are wiling to do a review exchange and just hope they hold up their end of the bargain. (Hopefully they’re not like me with a pile of books from friends that have been waiting to be read)
  8. Review giveaways – Host a contest. First 25 people to leave a review for …. book will be entered into a contest for … signed book, or something. Remind them to leave reviews once they’ve read the book and not leave a review just to be entered into the contest.
  9. Remind your fans you need reviews. Post on your fan page that you’re looking for reviews and remind them how it helps you out.
  10. Network and ask. The #1 key to success is networking. The best thing to do is ask around. “Do you know anyone who would read and review my book for me?”. Keep asking, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help out.

    BONUS: Rank on Amazon. The higher you rank on Amazon the better sales you’ll have which will result in more reviews. (read #6 again) But just to help out with some stats, here’s what it takes to rank according to MakeUseOf:

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Amazon Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 – selling 5 to 15 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 – selling 15 to 25 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 – selling25 to 70 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 1,500 to 3,000 – selling70 to 100 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 750 to 1,500 – selling 100 to 120 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling120 to 175 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 – selling175 to 250 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 200 to 350 – selling 250 to 500 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 35 to 200 -selling500 to 2,000 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 20 to 35 – selling 2,000 to 3,000 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank of 5 to 20 – selling3,000 to 4,000 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling4,000+ books a day.

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AUTHOR REVIEW ETIQUETTE

In case you’re new at this (and we all were at one point) you might not have been warned about review etiquette. Here’s a brief review on reviews.

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  • Do not ever ever ever comment on a review of your book — ever. I don’t care how tempted you are to correct the 1 star reviewer that your book is not a Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings knock-off (which would be cool, by the way) but a true fantasy inspired by the likes of Joe Abercrombie instead. Here’s another key, don’t even comment on the positive reviews. Those reviews are for other readers – they are not there for us. I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT COMMENT ON REVIEWS!
  • Don’t comment about reviews on your blog, Twitter, etc. Are you seeing a pattern here? Basically pretend reviews don’t exist. Just don’t comment on them. Reviewers hate this and it makes them feel awkward.
  • If someone sends you a review (be it positive or negative) which happens with official reviews from bloggers, newspapers, etc – thank them profusely for reading your work. (regardless of what the review says)

Have any other tips on how to get reviews, please let me know in the comments! Happy reading!

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