The Advantages of the Indie Press, Infomercial Style

The Advantages of the Indie Press, Infomercial Style

.1Is your book getting rejected because it’s not mainstream enough? Are agents and editors telling you there is no market for it? Is your spouse giving you flack because your scribblings have yet to make money? Well, I have the solution for you.

No longer will you have to use your rejected manuscript to wipe away your tears after using those thousands of rejection slips to wallpaper your room, because it’s in desperate need of re-decorating, and you can neither afford paint nor wallpaper. No longer will you have to flush your money down the toilet because you have no idea what to do with the dang thing, and can’t even get yourself to buy your own book on Amazon. And, of course, you will no longer have to wake up in the morning with a stranger in your bed, wondering what the heck just happened, when, really, you had too much to drink last night and decided to go to a bar….for some reason. I mean, you have almost as much liquor in your house as you do rejection slips.

But it is called the indie press, and it is here to save you–and your starving pets because you have had to eat their food since you can’t afford human food. I mean, you work a freaking 9-5 job! But you’re too busy printing out your rejection slips, wasting all your money on paper and ink, to afford much else. Also, you’ll occasionally browse the internet for vices to ease your heartache, only for your computer to catch a million viruses; then you have to hire someone to operate on your computer, which sinks you into thousands of dollars in medical expenses that you have tried to take out loans for, but your credit sucks. So then you’re eating your starving pets’ food, working a 9-5 job, living underneath your desk in an alley, while looking for the perfect opportunity to write and print your rejection slips so some hobo doesn’t come along and steal your computer for the illegal practice of computer trafficking, all the while papering the walls of your alley with your rejection slips that then send you into a bar, where you wind up sharing your battered computer chair with a stranger. Oh, I didn’t tell you? You don’t actually have your own room. Or live in a house. Or have your own bed.      

So what can an indie press do for you? (An indie press allows niche books to become published into reality, or books whose genres are waning, like dystopian.)

It will make your grandma smile, although you probably don’t want her reading your book because she’s the antagonist, and you kiuntitled (13)ll her off for not buying that pack of Pokémon cards you wanted for your sixth birthday. Also, I don’t think you want anyone in your family buying it, because you kill them off George-RR-Martin style for allowing you to live in an alley in the first place instead of letting you live safely in a cozy house, even though you work a 9-5 job as a secretary who sets appointments for an aging man who constantly forgets who you are, then fires you, then hires you again when you fill out a job application–AGAIN–while going through the same interview–AGAIN.

An indie press will allow people outside of the circle of your friends and family to buy your book. Finally that hobo trying to steal your computer will have your blood, sweat, and tears in his hands. And he will be enjoying it–with a plum! Uh…aplomb! Why does a hobo have your book? Because instead of filling his life with booze like you do, he likes to go to the local library and enjoy a good read. Plus, he lives in a golden cardboard box.

Your contract will give you a certain amount of print books you don’t have to buy (well, you don’t have to do this at a big house, either, but with self-publishing you do)! Now you can sling these books at all your high school enemies in the hopes of severing their heads for ever doubting your writing prowess. And when you need more books to sever more heads, you’ll get a discount! A great discount! You have an infinite arsenal of books at your hands.

Do you know what else you can do with those print books? GOODREADS! Now all of those strangers who have ended up in your computer chair can enter to win your book–as well as all those other people who like to read.

AND EXPOSURE! EXPOSURE! EXPOSURE! THAT’S WHAT THESE FREE PRINT BOOKS ARE FOR! So it might be a good idea to hold off on severing the heads of your enemies for the time being.

GREAT ROYALTIES! There may be no advance, but who cares, not when you’re getting 50% or more. Now you and your hobo can go out on a date to Red Lobster, while the hobo gushes about how much he loves your book, while you sit back eating your filet mignon, wondering why you ever resorted to dog food to begin with. Oh, and you can afford to make your pets not starve. And now you’re in a home, writing your next book without sobbing over the thousands of rejection slips that once filled your alley wall, and wasting so much ink and paper and paying for subscriptions on sites your mother would flay you for. You’re no Stephen King. You’re not even a mid-list author. But your book is in the hands of strangers, people who could potentially be serial killers and wall street bankers.

And marketing! It’s not the budget of a big house, but now you can use your royalties to buy chainsaws, and in your spare time, you can lob off the heads of your enemies and save your paperbacks for the good of mankind. Also, you can re-establish your relationship with your brother, whom you stabbed in the eye with a pen when you were seven because he said your writing sucked. You can also concentrate on writing, while pulling the muscles in your fingers because you now have too much time to write, which then lands you in the hospital with some strange finger disease, wracking up doctor’s bill that you can finally afford–well, at least to pay for the splints the doctor had to put on your fingers.

INTERVIEWS! Now you can let everyone know that you didn’t start potty training until you were ten years old. You can also let the world know that your dad would disappear for days, each time coming back with a new woman you had to call mom. That can be your platform! “See, I have survived the neglect of parents, and you can, too!”

ARCs, ones you didn’t have to format yourself, or pay someone to format, or have to send out yourself, meticulously crawling through sites that leave viruses on your computer, hoping to find that one person who will give your book a five-star rating. You can now just sit your pretty butt back (you used your royalties to buy some nice undies at Victoria’s Secret), and watch the ratings roll in. Oh, sure, you might have a momentary blip in sales, but those reviews will pay off in the end, and you can buy more expensive panties!

QUALITY CONTROL! With the right house, you know your book is receiving the best breast milk possible so it can grow up into an amazing person who gets a degree at Harvard that will earn it–and you–millions! You will never have to wonder if the editor you paid for actually sucks, and is simply giving you suggestions because she wants to use your money to buy those Twilight blu-rays she’s been wanting for months. You’ll know your book is in the hands of experts who know what the crap they’re doing, because these people actually give a monkey’s hiney about your book! They love it, and they want it, and you, to be freaking awesome!

FRIGGIN’ COVER ART! You actually get to team up with your publisher and cover artist to create a cover all parties are satisfied with. So now your dream cover of an old man singing in a tree outside of your bedroom when you were a kid can become a reality. With a big press, they could slap author Ryan Attard on the cover with tentacles coming out of his mouth, and you would have no say! Your book doesn’t even have anything to do with Ryan or octopi, but apparently there’s a market for it!

TRANSPARECNY! You get to know everything, from your sales, to the amount of money you’re making, to where the sales of your books are coming from, to your publisher’s plans to better the house, to the marketing plan, to how many people your publisher’s brother killed to land him in jail, to how many times his wife has cheated on him, to his kids’ abysmal grades because he’s too busying being awesome, and to everything! EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! Even that one time he tried to kill his best friend for stealing his cookies, and then planted his almost-murder on his kindergarten sweetheart, landing her in timeout. Luckily for you, she became pregnant in the third grade from your cookie-stealing best friend, and both of them had to drop out of school and live in a cardboard box to support their pathetic child family of three.

COMMUNITY! You can become best friends with all the authors of that house, exchange phone numbers, stay up all night giggling about boys–including Ryan–and have slumber parties where, instead of pillows, you beat each other’s heads with your books. But, really, you guys can support each other because the house isn’t too large that you don’t even know what author wrote that dinosaur erotica, because at this house, you will know. Oh, you will know. So you can increase exposure by supporting one another, whether it be helping you kidnap that hobo who doesn’t want anything to do with you anymore because you no longer live in his alley, or helping Ryan shave hisimages (2) dad’s hairy back, because it’s thicker than the gases surrounding Jupiter! (But, seriously, the community at a small press is great, because they can potentially stop you from entering child beauty pageants you’re too old for.)

Overall, an indie press can pick up a book that it believes in that a big press has no idea what to do with! There is a market for everything, but, really, no one knows anything about marketing, not even marketing experts. I mean, after all, publishers had no clue that dinosaur erotica could make thousands of dollars!

So get one indie house for the price of three months of waiting! And wait! There’s more. You can get another indie house for the price of waiting one month. Oh, and there’s more! You can’t forget the all-important third offer. Get two indie houses, and you can see two books out in one year, quality and all!

“The Truth About Publishing”

“The Truth About Publishing”

The title has been borrowed from Ian Irvine’s website, which all of you should thoroughly read.

So a lot of writers go into publishing believing they have realistic expectations (I am not talking about the ones who go in and think they’ll be bestsellers or millionaires because they’re with a major publisher). I, too, thought I went into publishing with realistic standards, until I realized my standards weren’t realistic at all, which did depress me for a few days–but I was also depressed about something major that happened in my ballet life; however, rest assured, I haven’t quit ballet, and it didn’t have anything to do with my questioning whether or not I was good enough to continue on doing ballet. So two depressing things thrown at me made me feel depressed again–and heartbroken, mainly a bunch of pointe shoes stabbing my heart. Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t even get out of bed until 10:30, and I just could not bring myself to write. I’ll tell you that ballet was the biggest part of it, though. Publishing was only a small factor. But this post is not about ballet. (I know I deviate a lot, don’t I?)

This post is about having to almost severely lower our standards for what we should expect in terms of book sales and publishing itself: with both small and large presses. I know I have had to lower mine, and I have found myself being able to accept selling X number of books per month; however, I do expect that as I go on, I should be selling more. I have high expectations for a reason, so that way I can strive toward where I want to be. Thus, I am going to use Mr. Irvine’s article to highlight some major points about the truth in the publishing world, a truth that even veteran authors seem to have become jaded to. So you can read the article, but I’ll just make it easier for you by highlighting the major stuff.

  1. You’re not considered published until you’re in print. Sadly, a lot of authors get their hopes up that when an editor falls in love with their manuscript, that they are considered published authors. I think I considered myself a pre-published author upon inception to AEC because I knew any number of things could happen, like, for whatever reason, they could drop the project. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But, in short, and this is for both small and large presses, if your editor gets fired or leaves the job, and your manuscript is passed on to another who hates it, don’t expect publication. Having an agent or a publisher doesn’t guarantee anything. I know one person whose agent never found a house for her book. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from this person in a while, so I’m not sure what happened, but her book seemed awesome. In any case, I want you to be downright realistic upon landing an agent or a publisher because ANYTHING can happen that could lead to heartbreak, for whatever reason. Sometimes an editor puts too much hope in a manuscript and the sales department thinks it’ll be a liability, and, just like that, your chance at publication is gone. Read Lesson 10A for more detail.
  2. Print runs. I can’t say too much on this because I have no idea how much Lightning Source prints for my book, but even with a major publisher, you’re an unknown author with no platform, so don’t expect a large print run. A great author could get a 200,000 run, and you’ll receive an astonishingly low number. Read Lesson 11 for more detail.
  3. You might hate your book. This often isn’t so with a small press, because author, cover artist, and publisher work hand-in-hand to create a cover that satisfies all parties. My former contract manager had her own ideas, my publisher had his own ideas, and I had my own ideas, and all of our ideas copulated and made something wonderful and awesome. Unfortunately, for those at a large press, you generally have no such input on the cover art process, unless you’re a big-time person, like John Green, who is a RARE commodity in publishing. So there is a chance you might hate your cover, and essentially you’ll be embarrassed by it and absolutely terrified to have it on the shelves–or anywhere, for that matter. Read Lesson 12.
  4. Uh…promotion. For big presses, your book might only end up in a book catalogue as far as promotions go: for a newbie author with no established sales record. If a publisher can’t stock your book in a bookstore, chances of sales are low. Remember, there is limited shelf space, and it costs money for your book to be in stores. If you are stocked, book quantities may be low, and your book might be facing spine out. At my B&N, bestsellers make up the brunt of the YA shelf space–or bestselling authors, at least. For a small press, the only person who is probably going to make it in a bookstore is someone who is a bestseller, often with a big publisher previously, because that bestseller alone bolsters that small presses’ brand. But don’t be impressed. Until a small press can get a non-bestseller book into bookstores, then, in my opinion, you can be impressed. Read Lesson 13.
  5. Read Lesson 14. I can’t explain this point that well.
  6. Book reviews. Veteran authors like to tout that books with big presses are going to get reviewed by something big and awesome. Unfortunately, a good amount NEVER get reviewed. Even a great review usually doesn’t bolster sales. Newbie writers simply don’t have the audience to warrant a review by some big newspaper or other review source. One review in a big-city paper could bolster sales, but that’s no guarantee. Really, it’s an ego boost. Read Lesson 15.
  7. Sales. Drop your expectations. Now. Especially drop them with a small press. 15,000-40,000 of mass paperbacks are good with a big press, but most books aren’t going to sell that much. With a small press, selling 1,000 in a year is basically an invitation to a ritzy party. There is also some myth out there that says if you write a trilogy, by the third book, you should be doing well. Not true, at least for some. Your second book will probably not sell as good as the first, at least until you can get a lot of people to love your first book who will then read the second, love the second, and will buy the third. Otherwise, your series will be in trouble. I mean, you can make more sales combined, as well as money, but you ultimately want a successful trilogy. Believe me. I have this fear. I have 51 reviews so far for When Stars Die, and most love it, but there are a tiny few who will not stick around for the sequel. Read Lesson 16.
  8. Literary awards. If your book is literary in nature, really, don’t expect great sales from this because it doesn’t fit with popular tastes. In fact, and I can’t remember where I read this, bookstores were reluctant to stock John Green’s TFiOS because of its pure literary nature. So having a literary award is great and all, but, again, it’s simply an ego booster, not really bought by the public but those in academia. Read Lesson 21.
  9. Years. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not one of the lucky 5% whose book ran out the gate as a bestseller. It’s especially harder with a small press. Even so, you can still find success. It just takes years. Stephen King took years. Look how big he is now. The authors that persist and sweat despite the initial lousy sales are the ones who make it. I had to remind myself that yesterday because I was frustrated with my own sales. And years can pass by much faster than you think. I mean, I don’t want them to because I don’t want my days to speed by, especially because every moment in life is precious, but, again, years go by us at light speed. Before you know it, your persistence could make you as big as Stephen King. Read Lesson 22.
  10. Success. When you do become successful, that’s probably more stressful than being not successful, because now you have to work even harder to stay successful, to make your fans happy, to make your publisher happy, and so on and so forth. Read Lessons 22, 23, and 24.
  11. Royalties. Holy monkey riding a banana. This is my first time reading this, and I am now BLASTED happy about my royalties. Granted, this takes into account possible agents in other countries. Also, I’ll admit that I wished the chart showed more, such as how many books sold to earn said royalty amount. In any case, read lesson 30. Net profits are a good thing with a small press. Trust me on this one.
  12. Just read lesson 30A.
  13. Changing publishers. After reading this, I realized sending ASO off to another publisher isn’t exactly as great of an idea as I thought, especially because I don’t have a good reason, other than AEC having their hands full with The Stars Trilogy (and they probably won’t get the book until 2015–or 2016–anyway!). My PA wasn’t going to talk me out of it, but she thought it strange, too. Now, however, I understand. The explanation presented in Ian’s lesson isn’t why I think it’s a bad idea. It’s just my own reasoning, and why I think it is a bad idea for newbie authors or those with small presses. My publisher is a brand. My book is under that brand. People who subscribe to AEC and are supporters of AEC and buy my book under that brand will expect more from me under that brand, especially if they become my fans. If I publish my book under another brand, there is a high possibility that it could do worse because it is not under my publisher’s brand, nor will it be in their newsletter. For example, if I got accepted by Spencer Hill Press, they’ll include my book in their newsletter; however, my fans will not know I have this new book under a new brand unless they’re actively seeking new books from me that are not in my trilogy. Readers can be fans of a trilogy, so they might expect something similar from an author for another book, as each publishing company caters to a certain taste. For example, I loved Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty Trilogy, but I haven’t bought another book from her since that trilogy, because her other books are not in my range of taste–although I will buy The Diviners eventually because it’s closest to her first trilogy. It explains why there are authors who have books with different publishers, but one book is doing a lot better than some other book. It also explains why a certain press has a bestselling author whose book isn’t even selling in the midlist range. Those fans probably just don’t know about it because that brand isn’t in a bookstore! Anyway…for the other reason, read lesson 31.

After reading all of this, especially Ian’s entire article, if you’re discouraged and want to give up, you probably weren’t meant to be a writer. In fact, this article encouraged me because it made me realize that I AM NOT ALONE. And that is always heartening, isn’t it?

I have no idea what my next post will be, but consider me The Dancing Writer, Undercover Agent for All That is Publishing.

Why Authors Should Not Have a Facebook Fan Page…Anymore

Why Authors Should Not Have a Facebook Fan Page…Anymore

I have something very sad to report. I am no longer using my FB fan page. I have 1,537 likes, but only 32 are actually interacting with it. It isn’t my fault. I know it’s not. Generally when I receive a huge influx of fans for whatever reason, I’ll see about 300 interacting with it, then it begins to drop steeply, despite my continuous updates on the page geared toward my fans (updates on my personal life, writing life, ect). Do you know how I know it isn’t my fault? Look up authors like John Green. He has about 614k followers, and only 54,000 are interacting with it. Big number, right? So what’s there to complain about? Do the math. That, I believe, is about 11-20% (to be frank, I can never remember my percentage formulas, so, math wizards, do the calculating for me). But that is far less than 50%. That is abysmal for someone as prolific as John Green, who has more likes than even Stephen King.  

Zoom in or click the picture for proof.
Zoom in or click the picture for proof.

I’m going to bring in facts from this post–rather thread from AbsoluteWrite–to convince you that having an FB author page is a waste of time. A HUGE one, one that does a disservice to both authors and fans of their pages. And I’m going to tell you what you can do about this, and what I am going to do about it. Everything I’m about to write uses the above post to support my argument, so this is an argumentative piece, not an opinion-based piece. I will no longer be doing opinion-based pieces.

Read this post, too.

Facebook claims it is a free service, and it is–for those who simply want to have an account and socialize. However, things become more complicated if you’re a business owner, social media marketer, run a charity, or are an author/artist of some sort. If you have read the first link, you will see that people have spoken about their experiences with FB before it began to scam its users of fan pages. Before, all fans were able to see the posts these pages created, and these pages didn’t have to boost their posts for their fans to see this. Now that is no longer the case. If your fans are not interacting with your posts in some way, be it likes or comments, they will eventually never see what you post again.

Facebook wants you to boost your posts, so they can make money off of you. So now you’re probably thinking ‘Well, spending the money might be worth it if it means keeping my fans happy and engaged.’ Unfortunately, spending money doesn’t guarantee this at all. In fact, only a tiny percentage of your fans may see it. The rest may be bots who end up liking your page, as proven from the first linked post above, where one user spent money to boost a post, but received zero activity, thus leading up to the assumption that the only things that could have seen it were bots. After all, if you boost your post, someone is going to have to see it, and it may not be actual people. It’s like Weebly’s stats. The unique views stats are not accurate because many of those views could have come from bots.

As I’ve said, I can’t remember the formula for percentages, but probably 5% or less are actually seeing anything I post, and I am not about to spend money on boosting my posts. Those 5% or less are regulars on my page, people who actually enjoy my work, or people who just happen, by sheer luck, to be on when they see my post. So what do I think you should do?

If you don’t have a fan page, don’t even think of starting one. Concentrate your efforts elsewhere. I would go with Google+. I would also find groups on FB that are geared to both writers and readers and have them friend you on your personal pages, because you will always see their posts, whether or not you actively engage with them (and I hope you will, if you are able to see a post from them at the time you are on FB).

If you are an author with a fan page, basically, and I hate to say this, you should just ditch it. For about a week or two, ask your fans to friend you on FB. Probably do this three times a day. Then you’ll have a good grasp of how many people are actually able to see your posts. Those who have never seen your posts again are not missing out on anything, because if they were truly fans, they would look you up on the search bar to see any updates on your fan page. I do this with John Green. I will look him up to see what’s going on because I am a huge fan of his (and I will also do this with my publisher and a few other AEC authors, as well as Month9Books). John Green is probably the only author whose work I actively look out for. I frankly cannot wait to see what his next book will be. As with those who don’t have a fan page, concentrate your efforts on Google+, join non-promotional groups on FB, and instead join groups dedicated to readers and writers, and make friends there. Engage with them on your personal FB page when you are on and see a status from those people. This lets you know you care about them as people, and this will strengthen your relationship with that fan. Readers nowadays expect interactivity with authors now, and it is especially crucial for those building platforms.

So what am I doing about this? Google+ and FB groups. I am also going to let my assistant take over my FB page so it doesn’t disappear into obscurity (because I did work for those 1548 likes), but I will no longer be an active participant on it. I am frankly disgusted that FB would scam and punish those with pages, especially businesses, and punish those who have liked those pages.

I wouldn’t mind spending a few dollars for my FB author page if ALL of my fans could see everything I posted, but as FB is not doing this, I am moving on. And you should, too. Apparently this is a recent development, but I have seen it in the past with me. Masses of people will like my page, and 300 or 400 will be talking about it, but then those numbers start to severely dwindle, and I know it isn’t me, because it is even happening to big-time authors; however, these authors continue to receive likes, so it may benefit them a little, but those interacting with their page are often way lower than 50% of their actual numbers in terms of likes. Look up Stephen King. Look up any big-time author. Less than 30%. That is neither good nor fair. So big authors like that may benefit from having FB pages, but, even then, I think they’re better off using Twitter or some other strong social media that doesn’t scam money out of its users’ dollars, but actually puts those dollars to good use that benefits its users.

facebook-do-not-like-buttonIf you need further proof, let me use my Tumblr as an example. I have 788 fans. Now, not all my fans are going to see what I post because Tumblr is a continuous stream. However, I can tag my posts, and strangers will see what I’ve written. A month ago, I wrote a post about first chapters. Just the other day I checked out how many notes it received: 351 (and I don’t think this occurred over an entire month, but a few days, and then stopped for whatever reason), and the majority of this was from strangers, along with a few of my followers, as a lot of my followers aren’t writers, so I’m going to try to do posts that also lure in readers that I’ve followed. This has happened to a previous post, and it was simply an inspirational post, one from Stephen King: over 500 notes. Do you see where I’m getting at? It’s the same with John Green. Over 500,000 followers, and he’ll receive more notes on his posts than followers.

In conclusion, I URGE you to read what I’ve linked.

Publishing a lot of Books a Year through the Perspective of Ballet

Publishing a lot of Books a Year through the Perspective of Ballet

I have come to accept that I’m probably going to be a one-book-a-year writer, when originally I wanted to do more. I didn’t have the entire Stars Trilogy written out when AEC Stellar snatched up When Stars Die. I’ve finished The Stars Are Infinite and have sent it off (but I spent years on this book and half a year revising when I got back to it), but it likely won’t come out until late next year. Originally, I did want to write more than one book a year because of everything I’ve read among the self-publishing community that the best way to get noticed is to crank out book after book after book. I have one self-published friend who has done 4 since publishing her first book in February. Granted, I am not a self-published author. I am a small-press author. However, here is an interesting tidbit: there is a bestselling author, traditionally, with a small press, and her book is not selling best. At all. Not even Midlist level. I can’t figure out why this is. Is it because her fanbase doesn’t know about it? Is it because her fanbase is finicky about her books? Has her book not been marketed properly? I don’t know, but I suppose this proves that having a lot of books behind you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to succeed. I mean, why crank out book after book after book, when you can focus on just getting the one book out there and building your base using that one book alone? Perhaps some of you authors can weigh in on this.

This is not the real cover art.
This is not the real cover art.

Now that I’ve accepted I will probably be a one-book-a-year author, I’ve come to realize that in spite of having one book beneath my belt, I still have a lot of doubts when writing a new book, doubts that can be sometimes outright terrifying. Back in the summer, I started a book about a suicidal teen rescued by a puppeteer and taken to this place where he can recover from his trauma, and then he’s eventually kidnapped by a crazed psychopath, essentially. The premise seemed promising, at first, but I couldn’t execute it, IN SPITE of having outlined the book twice. I couldn’t convey what I wanted to, so I shelved it and decided to get back to work on The Stars Are Infinite, knowing it’d be an easier task to tackle because I already had things I could work with from having the first book. Now that TSAI is off, I’m back to the book about the suicidal teen. However, I have made an enormous overhaul with the book. I mean, HUGE, and I’ll speak about those changes in another post to coincide with this one. This is why I can’t be a one-book-per-year author, because I make massive changes to my books so that they are virtually unrecognizable from the first draft, and that, in my opinion, is how it should be, because it’s that way for traditional authors and successful small presses who don’t function as author mills. Author mills don’t spend as much time on editing as successful small presses do. But, I dunno. Maybe I just need more hours in a day or something.

I don’t know what self-published writers who crank out a crap ton of books a year do–and I mean publish, not just write a lot of books in a year, and then spend the next year or whatever revising the heck out of each book. Do they write the draft and just basically spend time doing line edits and copy edits and then proofreads? Or do they spend all day writing so they can finish that book in a week or two and then spend the next month completely overhauling the book? I mean, what do they do? I know one self-published author who had published two of his books, but he already had them written before deciding to jump into the publishing waters, and even then he was doing revisions on them. He told me he had been working on both books for six years. Now his next book is going to be published by a small press. The author with 4 books did not have those books written when jumping into the waters. Her first one she did spend a long time on, but it kept getting rejected by agents, who loved it, but thought it too niche. So she self-published it from their validation alone. With the other 3 books, she wrote as she went. At the same time, she now has an agent, and this author will likely be spending far more time on this one book than on her self-published books.

I’m about to dive into some opinion waters here, but just to let you know, I will adjust my perspective if someone can explain something to me. So please do not feel insulted by what I’m about to say. My opinion may be coming from pure ignorance, as I am not among the self-publishing community. I know authors who are self-published, but, frankly, I am interested in those in the small press community since I relate to them more. I feel like those in the big press group are untouchable. Sure, they’ll talk to you on Twitter, but will they ever accept your request? Probably not. So, please inform me. I do want to understand. Lack of knowledge is not stupidity. Lack of knowledge is ignorance, and they are two entirely different things. Am I saying self-published authors don’t work hard? No. Of course they do, but I often wonder about those who crank out so many books a year. Could they have created better products had they spent more time on working on a single book than worrying about cranking out more than one or two books a year? I feel like it should be about the readers, even if they are few.

I don’t think it should take a month to revise a book, which is a complete overhaul of a book. I think it should take more than a month, and then perhaps another month to do line edits/copyediting along the way, then proofreads, then sending off to a beta reader, then to an editor if you’re going to self-publish. I really don’t think it should take such a short amount of time to create a book. I feel like even if that book does sell well, you’re shortchanging your readers by not giving them the best book possible, even if it does get rave reviews. After all, they don’t know they could get better. Sells and rave reviews matter to me, but so does getting the best book out there possible, and I can’t do that by revising a book in a month. In fact, I’d argue, for me, it should take half a year to write the book at my fullest before sending it off to a beta reader, and then probably another month working on their critique, then a few weeks proofreading. Maybe some authors are just more talented than me. I really don’t know. I have no clue.

Not on the box. Not turned out. Sous-sous should be tight. Both heels should be showing when properly turned out.
Not on the box. Not turned out. Sous-sous should be tight. Both heels should be showing when properly turned out and sous-sous is tight.

So why do I feel like you’re shortchanging readers? Let’s look at it this way through the perspective of ballet: The average person who attends a ballet performance knows little about how ballet functions, yet, companies only accept the most polished dancers. So if the average person knows little about ballet, why accept polished dancers when the average person would probably be satisfied with dancers who are less-than-polished? I believe this is because the companies don’t want to shortchange their viewers when they know they can deliver the most stellar performance possible. Ballet is not like watching a movie, where a crap ton of new movies come out each year. Companies already have a repertoire of ballets they can perform, like Swan Lake and the like. Sure, new ballets are created, but they will always dance the classics. And a lot of these dancers have already performed many of the ballets done.

I know about ballet. I am among the ballet community. I have become more critical of the ballets my own studio puts on. They’re still fun, but I have noticed they’ve been casting dancers in difficult roles, roles they can manage, but the technique is sloppy because they haven’t been dancing long enough: toes not pointed, bent knees, lack of core, ect. On stage they can wow us, but in class, they struggle with technique. I wasn’t as impressed with The Nutcracker this year as I was the last time I saw it, not because of The Nutcracker itself, but because of a few dancers whose technique could not compare to the last dancers who performed those roles. I was not at all impressed by the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cavalier (and we all watch The Nutcracker for those two characters). In fact, with the first performance, it was difficult for me to pick who danced best among the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. This time, it was easy to pick: the Sugar Plum Fairy, but she has danced for years and has beautiful technique, as do the rest of the experienced dancers at my school. Could many of them go on to become professionals? Probably not, because professional companies expect a lot more than one pirouette, even if it’s perfect. But they have strong technique, even if they can’t always nail it, which professional dancers can do. However, my fiancé didn’t seem to care about the Cavalier’s performance. He still thought it was impressive, but it’s because he doesn’t know ballet like I do. He doesn’t know that you’re not supposed to do pirouettes on a bent knee, and the Cavalier did four on a bent knee, so I wasn’t impressed. He also did the male version of foutte turns, but his foot was not pointed, and he was improperly aligned. In any case, I would have rather have seen one pirouette on a straight knee than four on a bent knee.

However, ballets are not catered toward dancers. They are catered to your average viewer, who, even if they watch professional ballet after professional ballet, may still not understand ballet unless they are actually among the ballet community. If they see pirouettes on bent knees, they may think that is actually part of the performance. They don’t know you can never have a pirouette on a bent knee, unless they care to research how ballet is supposed to actually work. Then they’ll probably become more critical. Or maybe they can discern a mediocre performance from a professional one, but there is some leeway given between studios that are professional and studios that are not. I give leeway to the younger dancers because the purpose of those performances is to give them performance experience, but I am still impressed by the younger ones because I have seen them grow and become better. But would I pay the price of a professional show for my studio? No, as they are not a pro company. So among professional performances, if a dancer does a pirouette on a bent knee, again, viewers will probably think that it’s part of the performance because, well, those are professionals. And they, the average viewers, simply want to be entertained; however, companies want straight knees in a pro company and won’t allow anything less. This is why professional companies only want the best dancers possible, so that way they know the average viewer is receiving the best possible performance, and that they’re not insulting their viewers by allowing less-than-polished dancers into their companies. This isn’t to say book-after-book-after-book-self-published authors are insulting their readers. Not at all. Some of them may be talented enough that they can create the best book possible and publish a few more titles in a single year.

Even so, I feel like cranking out a lot of books are like those pirouettes. The best authors that I’ve read crank out one or two books a year, and this is among self-published and traditional. I would rather see one book on a straight knee than four on a bent knee, so to speak. And since I am a writer among the writing community, I can tell. Sure, even books trad publishers spend months on can still be mediocre in the market, because for them, it’s about sales, and if a mediocre book can bring in sales, then they’ll keep at it with that author. Even so, they’re still working hard on trying to create the best product possible, even if it turns out to be a flop, even if they end up editing it so much that they accidentally make it worse. But readers won’t know. Non-writing readers forgive a lot of grammatical errors that writers do not. Most readers who think books are mediocre anyway think those books should have been worked on more without knowing they’ve been worked on to death. I got to the point where I was so tired of editing When Stars Die that I wanted to scream, so I knew my book was getting there. So I want to create the best possible book for my readers, and I don’t think that can be accomplished in two months. In fact, the one who self-published 4 books spent only one month on a book before self-publishing it. What if this author could have created a better, stronger product by spending more time?

Simply put, I want my readers to have the best product possible, even if some may disagree, and I cannot accomplish this within three months. I don’t simply want to write lots of books to fast build a fanbase. And cranking out a lot of books doesn’t guarantee that. Certainly that could help greatly with sales, thus earning more money, but, again, I want them to be holding the best product possible, a work they know took more than one year to polish–including publishing people’s input.

So, for those who do aspire to crank out a lot of books a year, what is your process and just how do you do it?

Year in Review: 2013 Edition

Year in Review: 2013 Edition

This is Wind.
This is Wind.

2013 started out with sort of a bang, but it’s overall been a fairly crap year for me, because I spent a lot more time being depressed than not, and have considered, on several occasions, ways to take my own life. Thankfully I didn’t, but as you all know from my last post, I’m still scared that I’m going to, once again, be caught up in those feelings, make an attempt, and have that attempt be successful. But there were moments of light and hope, and I’m going to share them with all of you.

  1. The Roar of Love. I did not expect to be casted in this recital not only because I was an adult ballet dancer and too old for the company, but because I had not done ballet for half of the semester ever since ballet started in August (but EVERYONE can be in this recital, even the alumni who have not danced there in several years). I spent my time being depressed, missing a week because of said depression, missing another week, I think, and missing an entire month because of hospitalizations. But I was casted, and I was so happy that I cried, because one of my dreams was being en pointe and then performing in a recital en pointe. I also didn’t expect to get the roles that I did, and one of those roles was Wind, which involves a lot of bourrees and being en pointe for mostly every scene. It showed me that Mr. Ron, owner of the studio, had the confidence that I would be able to handle such a role in spite of being en pointe for half a year and missing an entire month and a half of pointe class.
  2. When Stars Die. Okay, as you all know, I jumped headfirst into the querying process. It arguably makes me an amateur, but you know what? I knew the risks of going with a publisher who did not yet have a track record of publication; however, they did have authors. But I am no longer an amateur, and you can’t say that I am, not when AEC Stellar has proven to be a very smart, flexible company, with fantastic transparency. I feel like I could ask my publisher how many times he’s been toWSD2 the bathroom in his life, and he’ll tell me (okay, maybe not that, but you get the point). I was thrilled to get the contract because it meant my dream was finally coming true, after 15 years of waiting for it to come to fruition. Now my dream is to be a bestseller, so that is what I’m striving for next. Of course, I know that one trilogy being published doesn’t guarantee other works will be taken on, as ALL writers are freelance, except for maybe those who self-publish, but having credentials under your belt makes the process a little bit easier.
  3. Freelance Editing. It had been a while since I’d flexed my freelance muscles, but it was really nice to be able to edit a sample for someone who was impressed with what I did. That same someone also sent the sample off to a professional editor who works with the Big 5, and our comments roughly aligned, so it told me that I definitely had the skills necessary to be one. I was also able to edit two manuscripts this year for people. My first client wanted me to edit his again because he had a positive experience with me the first time, but I was, once again, struggling with depression and had to recommend someone else for him–but he was grateful. However, the experience with my last client was horrible, but I at least got my money, and I will write a blog post about that, mostly pointing to what clients looking for an editor should expect (and what you should and should not do when interacting with your editor). In conclusion, my last client was unable to handle my criticism, and I did apologize to him that he did not like my feedback.
  4. Ballet Summer Intensive. I was both terrified and excited to take this intensive because I was finally starting the ‘Big Girl’ level, where you really start to begin to dance instead of just doing tiny, short exercises where you worked on mastering the technique of one or two moves. With Mrs. Renee Toole, it was fun and showed me that I had improved since taking juniors the year before–I had been taking the junior class during Roar because I had to since I had rehearsal right after, but the class still intimidated me every time I took it. With Mr. Ron, the class was tougher, and I royally screwed up on the across-the-floor exercise he gave us, but I practiced it and nailed it the next time we had to do it. I was also okay with his center work, but the intensive made me realize that I was indeed ready for the junior level.
  5. Ballet Senior Class. For the longest time this semester I was terrified to take this class–the highest level–because I had no idea what to expect. But I finally decided to dive in headfirst with my junior buddies, and the class was not as bad as I thought it’d be. In fact, it was a million times easier than Mr. Viator’s junior classes, where he gives us ridiculously long exercises I have a hard time remembering. I’ve taken the senior class twice, and I am no longer scared to do so. In fact, I welcome it because I got tired of taking the Petite II class, which no longer offers anything to me any more, other than allowing me to work on technique. However, by the time you reach my level, a challenge class often improves you more than a lower class. So I will be taking it from now on and will take one senior and one junior class starting over the summer. I have no idea what the senior class will be like for Mr. Ron, as he primarily utilizes the Russian technique, something I am not used to, but I do welcome the challenge.
  6. Pointe Work. I am so happy with how much I have improved with pointe work since beginning it a year and a half ago. I can now just about do everything en pointe, including Italian Fouettes. I can’t do regular fouettes just yet, which are included in the video at the end, but hopefully I can at least do a few by the end of the ballet year. Otherwise, I can do just about everything else,even though I have to work on cleaning up some of the technique, like the Italian ones. The funniest thing, however, is it has become a practical tradition for me to fall at least once when practicing a move before ballet class actually begins. And it happens every single class. But I don’t mind these falls because it means I am giving everything I’ve got, even though it’s often too much. But you at least learn your limits by doing it that way, and I am not afraid to fall. Not afraid at all. I am also not afraid of injuries, although I will be in a lot of pain if one happens. But, hey, injuries are part of any athletic endeavor.
  7. The Stars Are Infinite. I am very, very pleased to have finally finished this novel after nine years of working on it. This novel has been such an arduous undertaking, the second most difficult novel I have ever worked on. And, no, When Stars Die was a relatively easy novel to write, to be honest. But I know some1497758_565921593490151_1533230412_n novels are going to be easier to write than others. However, TSAI was so difficult to work on because you want the second book in a series to outshine your first book, and I hope it will, because I REALLY considered the criticism of a 3 star reviewer who is looking forward to the sequel and has faith that it will be better. So I treated her as my number one fan in that moment when doing serious edits to TSAI. When Stars 1465364_666263030061307_580854722_nDie, even though it has only 33 reviews so far, has mostly received praise, and I think that by the time you receive the 30th review, you roughly know where your novel stands–at least I hope. I am waiting for the 70th review to do a signed giveaway of one of my paperback WSD copies. I do know books who have about 30 reviews and have low-average ratings. I consider average to be in the 3 star range, or the 3 point something range. But, yes, I REALLY hope the sequel outshines the first because a lot of new authors like me have a hard time trying to do that.
  8. All Shattered Ones. This book, by far, is the most difficult to write because it stems from something very personal and deep inside of me, that being of depression and suicidal ideation. The basic premise is that a young boy struggling with chronic depression takes his own life, being urged by a haunting voice to do so. After taking his life, he wakes up in another world called Silvaria, a place for people who have lived painful lives, and need another chance in a place that is meant to be a paradise for them. In Silvaria, there are beings called Lightveils who help these people overcome their tragedies. They then help these people become Lightveils themselves so they can continue the cycle of helping those just like them. However, the voice still haunts Gene, and despite being in a promising place of paradise, the voice drives Gene to self-harm, worsens his depression, and makes him wish for a death that is impossible in a world where death does not exist. It originally started out as When Heaven Was Blue, the character having the same name. But Gene was saved from a suicide attempt by a puppeteer who took him to a place called Stolentime that would allow Gene to heal from his mental illness. He was stalked by the same haunting voice, but I didn’t like the set-up, even though I was slightly satisfied with the direction of the story. However, I do draw from bits and pieces of WHWB to form ASO, so ASO is the third draft.
  9. Completing My Last Year as a Junior. I had to miss an entire year of school because of bipolar disorder so I could focus on getting better. Well, when I registered for the fall, I was feeling great; however, when the semester began, I was back to being depressed, so it was a very, very difficult struggle to get through the semester, and I had so many doubts that I would survive it because there were times where I felt like I needed to be hospitalized again. In fact, my therapist told me that if I continued to worsen, I would have to be so that I could be kept safe from myself. But that didn’t happen. I struggled through mid-terms, having several panic attacks and crying spells when studying for these, and flying through finals, when I finally found stability by the end of the semester. Now I am a senior in college, which I should have been a year ago, but I will hopefully graduate one of these days. So I survived despite the intense depression.

Well, this has been my year in review with my most memorable moments in spite of the dark times I dealt with. What are some of your most memorable moments from this year?

Merry Christmas, and let’s all make 2014 our best!

My First Author Visit at Grovetown High School’s Creative Writing Class

My First Author Visit at Grovetown High School’s Creative Writing Class

ImageI had my very first school visit today as an author, and it was so exciting and fun. Time went by so fast that I couldn’t believe it. I had an entire agenda planned out, but I couldn’t get to all of it, like reading an excerpt from my book and having a Q&A session, but at least I got to the important parts.

I’m going to talk about what I did for those curious about how to do an author visit, or for teachers who want their authors to visit and what they can do to prepare. Keep in mind that I did this for a creative writing class, so your presentations are going to differ depending on what type of classroom visit you’re doing. For example, I will be doing a visit in February to an economics class about marketing and branding, using my book as an example.

  1. I did a presentation on The Realities of Publishing, using this cute Pusheen cat to the right to add some spice to the PowerPoint. These are high school kids, and I didn’t want to bore them with some flat PowerPoint with nothing fun to spice it up. I talked about everything, from the expectations they need to have, to the pros and cons of being with big presses, small presses, and self-publishing, and I was pretty even-handed with all subjects. Unfortunately, I was really hoping to have a Q&A session so I could clarify anything the students had questions about during this presentation, but, well, it was a fifty minute class, and it’s so much shorter than it seems. I felt like I had been there for ten minutes! Even my mom was surprised by how fast I came home.
  2. Next, I did a fun dialogue activity, and the kids seemed pretty excited about this because the teacher did say they have problems with writing dialogue. There were 26 kids in the classroom, so I divided them up in pairs of 2. I admitted that I didn’t know how successful the activity was going to be, but they had fun. Basically, they were going to make up two characters. One partner would be a character, and another partner would be the other one. They were to discuss the types of characters they wanted to be, and the scenario they wanted their characters to be in, such as a party or some other event. Then they were to write one line of dialogue each–silently–and pass it on to their partners, getting in as much dialogue as possible in 10 minutes. This was actually a really funny one because I heard the kids putting up some funny scenarios–like doing jello shots– but the point of the exercise was to get them to write the dialogue how they would say it, read it aloud, then I would take it and read it sentence-by-sentence out loud, and then give them advice on how to make it more effective. Hopefully it was a little bit effective in getting them to understand what they could and couldn’t use in dialogue, but it is a process.
  3. Last, I gave the teacher a classroom copy of my book and a stack of flyers/business cards (courtesy of AEC Stellar Publishing Inc.) that she could pass out to her kids the next day. The business cards are so that the students can e-mail me about anything they want to. One student already swiped up the classroom copy, as well as a flyer that can also double as a bookmark, and the teacher is excited to give out the flyers tomorrow.

All in all, I would say it was a success. Now I’m going to give you tips on how to be a good presenter/public speaker. Image

  • Prepare a month in advance. I started preparing last November, especially with creating the PowerPoint. I went through several drafts of this, trying to find the perfect design that would be both attractive and fun, and trying to create the slides with the information to make sure the students would understand it. I also created an agenda, too, for the order I was going to do everything in. I couldn’t get to it all, but I did get to the important stuff.
  • Try to have some formula for the presentations. I didn’t fully use the speech formula I learned in my communications class, where you have the introduction mentioning your various points you’re going to talk about, and a conclusion summing up those points. I eschewed that entirely, especially because of time, so I went right on to talking about what the whole presentation was about. I simply said that I was going to talk about the realities of publishing, some things to consider when starting the publishing process, then went on to talking about the advantages and disadvantages of large presses, small presses, and self-publishing. Since I already had bullet points, I felt no need to have note cards, so I improvised the examples I provided for each bullet point. I hate note cards. They’re so limiting and don’t really show my personality. They can be very boring, too, because they don’t always allow you to establish a sort of connection with your audience. A lot of public speakers, to me, can be very dull because they stand behind a podium, read from notes, and look up from time-to-time. I don’t like to be that way.
  • DON’T BE SHY! Apparently authors are notorious for being shy, but not me. I love speaking in front of crowds. As I said before, there were 26 kids in this class, more than I thought there were going to be, but I didn’t feel pressured at all. I felt really relaxed and just had fun with it. You should have fun with it, too. At any presentation, the people there want you to do well, because if you’re not doing well, they’re not going to have a good time themselves. So these people do not want to see you fail, so keep that in mind. Even if you stumble on your words, just keep going. If you’re prepared for the presentation, then there should be no need for worry. I was certainly prepared–candy included!
  • If you’re a teacher, let your students know in advance that an author is visiting. This can get the students excited, especially in a creative writing class. Don’t schedule a visit within a few days because this leaves no time for neither you nor author to prepare. As an author, even if I have everything prepared a week in advance, I still like to go over everything to make sure everything is solid. So schedule about a few weeks out to a month.
  • If you can, give your students some background on the book the author wrote. This can make the kids even more excited and MAY potentially boost your sales. But, really, it’s promoting you and your book, but is really just a way to get yourself out there more–sort of an ego boost, to be honest. One successful school visit can lead to another. I don’t think Grovetown High School is going to put me anywhere else, but I do have a speaking engagement at a public library, a possible school visit from having a connection from someone who teaches at the school, and another school visit–and if that visit goes well, I WILL be getting recommendations to other schools. I’m also hoping to get into doing Skype visits for classrooms across the nation.
  • If you can, especially if you have the visit scheduled months in advance, have your students read that author’s work. Students can then prepare questions about the author’s work and how said author went about writing it. People think anyone publishing a book is cool, especially kids, because they really will feel like they’re meeting a celebrity, even if you have not reached celebrity status yet.

That’s it! If you have any questions for me, feel free to e-mail me at thedancingwriter@gmail.com.

***In Other News***

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AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. is holding an e-book launch party on Facebook. That can be found here. Prizes will be given away, including a Kindle Paperwhite.

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The e-book of When Stars Die is already out, but it “officially” releases tomorrow. You can currently find it on Amazon and Smashwords–Smashwords contains all formats, from Mobi, to EPub, to PDF, among others. It’s $3.89, so it’s very affordable, and you can read a 20% sample of the book.

 

Amazon Versus Brick and Mortar Bookstores

Amazon Versus Brick and Mortar Bookstores

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Photo credit: theunquietlibrary)

As I was perusing Facebook yesterday, I came across a status from John Green’s author page that said that the print version of The Fault in Our Stars was written by Holt McDougal, an author who actually creates math textbooks–so, obviously, John Green is still the author of TFiOS. One can find the blunder here, assuming the blunder is still present by the time you read this. Nonetheless, believe me when I say that possible drones changed the author from John Green to Holt McDougal on the print version, which, I must admit, is quite amusing. Who knew John Green was secretly THE Holt McDougal, who writes math textbooks to aide students in their mathematical pursuits?

Going through the comments was amusing to me, but one comment that troubled me was a commenter who said that people should not support Amazon and should instead flock to their local bookstores. Now I agree we should support our local bookstores, but bookstores are not any more innocent than Amazon. For example, upon distribution of a new book, that new book has roughly fifty days to sell out. Since the average sale of a book in bookstores is somewhere between 200-500, one can assume that the shelf lives of many new books expires, and so those books go back to the publisher, never to be seen on bookstore shelves again. One can argue that these books just weren’t good enough, but having a great product isn’t enough. Many publishers will neglect the publicity of newer authors in favor of pushing publicity upon their best authors. Oh, certainly these new authors receive some form of publicity, as being in a bookstore is publicity itself, but bookstore publicity has obviously proven that it should not be the only form of publicity.

In fact, many newer authors I have met online that come from traditional houses are not in my bookstore. They may be in others’ bookstores, but these bookstores are often larger and can take in more books. But, again, if a book doesn’t sell out within that 50 day time frame, it gets axed.

Before Amazon and the e-book, the books that were axed gave their authors no chance of being discovered or being publicized ever again, unless that traditional house was willing to take on another one of their books. But I have read stories of authors who were published by big houses, just weren’t doing well at all in terms of sales, their books went out of print, and then they inevitably moved to self-publishing, where they found more success.

Now that Amazon and the e-book exist, books that are removed from bookstores now have a chance  on Amazon, both print and e-book alike. So, they have an infinite “shelf life,” so to speak, especially through the e-book version. Not only this, but authors frustrated by the submission process to literary agents or editors of large houses can now turn to self-publishing. One used to have to go through a vanity press to receive self-publication, and would have to go door-to-door (kind of in a figurative sense) to get discovered. The only book that was successful in this endeavor is The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Otherwise, most other books didn’t have a chance. Oh, certainly authors could go through Createspace and Lulu, but the price of the print book is often high and unaffordable for many book buyers–after all, books are an impulse buy, not a necessity for many people. Amazon now owns Createspace, so a lot of self-published authors do use Createspace for both print and e-book–but it’s really the e-book version of a book that outsells the print version due to its cheaper price.

Amazon has also given rise to small press publishers, who are able to devote publicity to their authors. And there are some successful small publishers out there devoted to even their newest authors. This allows readers more books to choose from and I’m certain readers delight in having many, many books to choose from now.

All in all, it does bother me when people protest buying books on Amazon, because Amazon has made self-publishing a very viable option for many self-published authors. This attack on Amazon, to me, is almost an attack on self-published authors, who can now make their dreams of publication come true. It is also an attack on authors published by small presses, which either do not put books in bookstores–yet!–or only put the books of a small percentage of their authors in a store. It has also allowed books to be affordable to many readers through the Kindle and its e-book. I can buy books like candy now, and I love that. Reading has never been more pleasurable for me.

I say support Amazon, because the supporting of the book side of Amazon is the supporting of many authors who can become successful through Amazon alone.

When Stars Die Release and Cover Art Contest!

When Stars Die Release and Cover Art Contest!

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Welcome all my Stars! Today is the official release day of When Stars Die, and I hope you all will consider buying a print version of it. It’s a very beautiful book, gorgeous and everything. The cover is matte, so it has an extremely nice feel to it. Click on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to order it or at least add it to your Wish List. For those who want the e-book version, you will have to wait for some time in December. I will keep you all updated on that. I plan to have some book blitzes, a blog tour, and a hopeful promo release party either created by me, or created by a hosting PR. Because of this, I would love it if you added me as a friend on Facebook.

A decent amount of people have added it on Goodreads, so I encourage you to add it there, too, as I will have a print giveaway going on for one copy. Signed too!

***SYNOPSIS***

Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

Also, here are all my current media links of interviews, guest posts, and a few reviews:

AEC Stellar Publishing Press Release

AEC Stellar Publishing Author Page

Charles Yallowitz

Spot Light: Amber Skye Forbes–The Dancing Writer

Author Interview: Amber Skye Forbes

When Stars Die and the Motif of Stars: Guest Post

The Book Town: Interview of Amber Skye Forbes

Reading…Dreaming: Author Interview (When Stars Die)

Charlotte’s Tangled Web of Books: Author Interview

Unputdownable Books: Guest Post

AEC Stellar Publishing Press Release

Above the Sea Fog: Amber Skye Forbes

Guest Blog Author Spotlight

Spotlight: An Author Interview With Amber Skye Forbes

Guest Blog Book Spotlight

ZB’s Blog of Awesomeness: Special Guest Amber Forbes

Sharing Mondays 

Author Spotlight, Amber Forbes

When Stars Die Spotlight

When Stars Die and Its Concept of Witches

When Stars Die (Books-New Release)

Review of When Stars Die

Once Upon a YA Book–Book Review of When Stars Die


Young Adult Book Madness–Book Review of When Stars Die

I WILL BE HAVING A SORT OF BLOG TOUR IN NOVEMBER, SO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THAT!

***IN OTHER WORDS, LET THE COVER ART CONTEST BEGIN!***

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 Some of the covers are smaller than others, and I didn’t do this on purpose to say that these covers are lesser than others. In fact, the covers I did make smaller are covers I thought would still be able to jump out and catch your attention, despite their size. But here are the authors you will be voting for:

Waterborn by Kimberly James

Like Falling (Surfacing Book One) by Jaden Wilkes

The Prodigy of Rainbow Tower by Charles Yallowitz (Cover Designer: Jason Pederson)

Ashes and Ice by Rochelle Maya Callen

Awakening (The Watchers Trilogy) by Karice Bolton

Cole by J.B. Hartnett

The Scriptlings by Sorin Suciu

Illicit Magic by Camilla Chafer

Blood Slave by Travis Luedke

The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Paul Baer

Kinetic (The Luminaries) by S.K. Anthony

Now Vote For Your Favorite One

The contest will end in two weeks, on November 5th!

My Reaction to Constructive Criticism from Reviews

My Reaction to Constructive Criticism from Reviews

When Stars Die has had mostly favorable reviews, but it has also had some not-so-favorable reviews, but they were written in a way that was very considerate of my feelings and had some valuable criticism. While I may not agree with it currently for When Stars Die, I think the advice is very valuable for the sequel, Stars Will Rise.

Let us begin.

1. If you are not a published author, I advise you that once you are published to take into account every bit of criticism you receive through your reviews. I told myself I was never going to read my reviews, but, well, Goodreads changed that, and it’s like it’s impossible to not see your reviews on Goodreads, especially when you’re curious about how many people have added your book. But I have read the reviews, and while some of them stung slightly, they were also very valuable. While many seem to like Amelia, a few think she falls flat. Even though I may disagree with this, I can work extra hard on the protagonist in the next novel to ensure she doesn’t fall flat. Others think the book also starts out on a slow pace, and I can see that, but the pacing doesn’t seem to have affected their overall enjoyment of the book. However, I am going to use this criticism for the next book to ensure the pacing is faster.

2. If you are a published author and haven’t yet read your reviews, I would.You want to become a better writer, don’t you? Oh, certainly your editor can help you become a better one with each book you write, but editors are human too, and if you’re working with the same ones, they eventually get used to your style of writing. Readers, on the other hand, are a mixed bunch who will likely never get used to your style of writing. Many of them who offer constructive criticism are doing so objectively, and that constructive criticism can really help you develop future books. IT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER WRITER!

3. Criticism is inevitable. It isn’t just inevitable from your publishers and editors and whoever else works on your book, but it’s inevitable from readers. Those who take the time to write a review deserve your attention. Take each one into consideration, and please, please, please, use it as a stepping stone to further your career. I think the more authors consider the criticism from their readers, the better they’ll become. I see a lot of authors stagnating in the quality of their writing because they don’t seem to consider the criticism they’re given, so each book they write has roughly the same ratings: 3 point something. Try to strive for a 4 star book. Or a 5 star book. When Stars Die is currently sitting at 4.21, and I hope it either stays that way or rises, but if it doesn’t, I want to ensure that Stars Will Rise is even better and is a 5 star book. Or at least a 4 point something.

4. Appreciate the criticism you are given. I greatly appreciate the people who took the time out of their day to read my book and review it. Even if it was okay for them, or they couldn’t finish it, I still appreciate that they read it and wrote a review. I don’t ever want to get to the point as an author where I’m jaded when it comes to writing and taking criticism. I want to make sure I am grateful for every little thing that happens in my career. I am grateful for every review written, every interview I’ve done, every reader comment on my book, and even my Amazon ranking (which I’m doing my best to stay away from. I just accidentally saw it when copying and pasting my book cover from it for an interview).

5. This one doesn’t have much to do with criticism, but I think it’s important nonetheless. Do not get obsessed with your Amazon ranking. If you can, avoid it entirely. First books, on average, sell about 500 copies. I don’t know how many books I’ve sold. All I know is that when I checked my ranking a few days ago, I was sitting at the 400,000 mark. Now I’m at 180,000 and am ranking somewhere in the 1,000 for either paranormal or romance. And, as I’ve said, I accidentally saw this. I was not deliberately looking for my ranking, but it nonetheless spurred my confidence. All you can do as an author is keep writing, keep seeking interviews for your book, and, if you can, pay people for book blitzes if you’re not into the whole e-mailing everyone for an interview and such. I am currently having Juniper Grove Book Solutions doing a book blitz on my release day. I am also having a three hour promo release party that I won from Lady Amber. Along with my AEC book tour, I should receive some fairly good publicity. I do not mind spending money to make money on my book. I see my first book as a promotional book. I’m also going to have another book blitz at the end of this month from YA Bound. And I think I’m going to continue seeking monthly blitzes to keep my book in the know. I am certainly having a large book blitz once the e-book comes out. So I am doing all I can do to get my book out there, so stressing about the Amazon ranking is absolutely pointless. Do all you can do and do not look at that dang ranking. MANY FIRST BOOKS OFTEN DO NOT SELL WELL, SO WHEN PEOPLE LOOK AT THEIR RANKINGS, THAT DETERS THEM FROM EVER WANTING TO WRITE. DO NOT LET THIS BE YOU.

***In Other News***

When Stars Die will be in a store. I found this out through Shannon Thompson’s blog. Fluente Designs will be holding this book in store, so if you live in Tullahoma, Tennessee, I suggest you check them out!

When-Stars-Die-Banner

As I’ve said, Juniper Grove Book Solutions will be doing a book release blitz on October 22nd, the day of my release.

At the end of this month, YA Bound will be doing a week-long book blitz of When Stars Die. 

As I’ve said above, Lady Amber will be hosting a three hour promo blitz for my novel, When Stars Die, on the release day. It will be held on Facebook, and I hope all of you will participate. I will be giving away two signed copies of When Stars Die, as well as a few e-ARCs. There will also be other prizes, so it promises to be a lot of fun. I will keep you updated on all of this.

You can add When Stars Die  on Goodreads. It’s been getting some adds everyday, which is pretty thrilling because it means people are finding out about my book somehow.

You can also order it on Amazon, which I totally recommend doing so. The physical copy is beautiful. It is a matte cover, so the feel is very nice.

And, last, I have a Media page on my website, which contains all my interviews and guest posts, and a review or two. I am going to have a splurge of interviews and guest posts coming at the end of October and early November, so it will sort of be a mini book tour, and I’ll keep that scheduled.

That is all I want to say! I’m eventually going to start scheduling daily posts, hopefully once my mental health begins to balance out.

Writing a Short Story by Rachelle M.N. Shaw

Writing a Short Story by Rachelle M.N. Shaw

In many ways, short stories are just like longer pieces of fiction. Both follow a general plot structure, establishing a clear setting and characters within. They then build tension and conflict before resolving it. However, with short stories, the length is limited—usually to 5,000 words or fewer. Not only that, but they capture one snapshot in time and portray a message through that event. Needless to say, it’s important that every piece of a short story propels the plot.

The biggest question you’ll have to tackle when writing your short story is why you’re telling it. What does your protagonist want? What stands in his/her way? Similar to long prose, you’ll need to make the first few paragraphs engaging and captivating. You can do so by establishing a distinct and detailed environment, strong characters, and a clear initial conflict. Just remember to build up to an even bigger encounter at the climax of the story.

The second tip to creating a stellar short story is don’t make the plot too complicated. You’ll need to be able to unravel it by the end. That’s not to say it can’t be intricate and interesting; just keep the subject matter down to something worthy of a short tale, not an entire book.

Another way to make sure your tale stays short is to limit yourself to one or two main characters and a handful of side ones. Any more than that, and the plot quickly becomes too complicated to resolve within a short time frame. However, with a minimal number of characters, it’s even more important that you build well-rounded ones. Give them distinguishing characteristics. Include meaningful dialogue, especially with accompanying actions. What your characters do and say will resonate more with the reader than narrative backstory will.

The middle section of your story will probably be the richest. It includes the climax, which hinges on the answer to a crucial question: What significant choice or change does your protagonist undergo? It’s at this point that the reader will see significant character development and the start of a resolution to the overall plot.

For the resolution, the protagonist needs to either succeed or fail at what they were trying to achieve in the beginning. If they succeed, at what cost did they do so? If they fail, what did they gain or lose by trying? Your resolution can be a bit open-ended (meaning it doesn’t have to be completely black and white), but it does need to have a defined direction. In other words, if your protagonist faces a choice in the end, you could hint at the fact that she’ll pick choice A over choice B without directly stating it.

If your story still doesn’t seem to be working, try experimenting with point of view or tense. Short stories lend themselves to a wide range of POVs and tenses that work well, something that doesn’t necessary ring true for longer pieces of prose. A first-person narrative told in present tense, for instance, is often better suited to a short story than a novel.

Finally, keep an eye on the structure. Don’t make your story character-based or plot-based; it should rely on both! In other words, the specific situation you write about should only happen because of the exact characters, timing, and circumstances involved. If the same story could be told with different characters or a different setting, try reworking it. The end result should be something that is totally unique.

***Links***

Website: http://rachellemnshaw.com/

Blogger: http://rmnsediting.blogspot.com/
Tumblr: http://dreamwriter12.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RMNSediting