Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

July 25th is the one year anniversary of my blog.

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I remember the very first day. I tried to find a theme that would fit the idea that Darkness Falling is a dystopian novel. I wasn’t sure what to call it, so I just called it Weekly Writing News and Updates. I figured that I could at least write one blog a week. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

It all began by writing my posts each week into the endless void of the internet. I was talking but was anyone listening? There are many voices and singaling yourself out among them is not an easy task. Despite knowing that I was talking to myself, I continued to write my posts and link them to Twitter and Facebook.

The journey of writing is often a solitary one. This is something I know very well, and I do well in solitude. The point of writing, however; is to reach others. Little by little, I started to take note of readers coming back. Posts were being liked. Comments were being left. Those are small things, but they are powerful. All writers and artists understand the positive effect of a little feedback and how motivating it can be.

This year was not only monumental for my little blog. When this all began, having a book published was only a dream. The excitement of eBooks and being an indie author was new to me and I was unsure of what to expect.

Over the course of twelve months I have published two books. The story is one that I’ve been telling to myself for almost twenty years. To finally have those words available, read, and responded to by readers is a dream come true.

I’ve written short stories and excerpts. I’m making plans for more projects, new words to share with the world. Book Three of my trilogy is in the first stages of rewriting. Friends are being made in a writing community I never knew existed. I’m discovering wonderful books by writers just like me, all of them dreaming to have their words read.

In the year to come I hope to finish book three, continue my blog, and begin new projects. This first year has been better than I imagined and I hope to continue to have the opportunity to share my stories, tips, and crazy ranting about storytelling in popular media.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me on this journey. Whether through a simple comment or hitting the like button, or to purchasing and reading Darkness Falling, and to leave feedback, all of it has been important to my publishing journey.  It’s an honor to have you read my words and be part of your busy schedules.

 

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Editing.

That’s always a fun word. A lot of times, editing is seen as fixing errors. This is true, but that is only one part of editing. It is through proper editing that storytelling should be strengthened.

Too many errors in spelling and grammar and can ruin a story, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. Good editing also focuses on the content of a story. Writing can be perfectly clear of typos and formatting errors, yet still be diminished by poor storytelling. If a story is drowning in contrivances, caricatures, plot holes, repetition, info dumps, clichés, and pacing the story will suffer just as much from problems in these areas than if it were full of mistakes

Understanding that proofreading and content editing are two different things will help you grow as a writer. Both are important and both require practice. I consider myself a good content editor, but I hate proofreading. I miss things. Being good at both content editing and proofreading is a goal.

Proofreading

A lot of times we see people (including myself) say things like “with more editing the errors can be cleaned up.” I think because of this, many people come to believe that editing is proofreading and nothing more. This way of thinking and talking about editing does a disservice to a lot of people who are publishing their books.

Proofreading is a skill. It’s a difficult job to read thousands of words and clean up all of the typos. Similar to math, not everyone is good at proofreading and some people have a natural aptitude. Practice is always key but some people will always be better at finding mistakes.

How do you practice proofreading? Watching what others write for errors is one way. Picking up errors, whether you point them out or not, will help you. Another way to proofread is to change your format. If you always work on the computer, print out a chapter and read it on paper. Change the margins and look at small chunks at a time. It takes time and effort.

Studying language also helps your proofreading. Learning the rules for commas, dialogue, paragraphs, sentences, and other punctuation will strengthen your writing. If you feel shaky in any of these areas there are many resources online to help you.

Content Editing

Editing content is where you look at the story itself and try to make it better. It requires you to look at your work from different angles. One type of content editing is the commonly talked about word count. Using as few words as possible to tell your story helps with the pacing.

Pacing is a key element to storytelling and is what helps your reader follow along with the narrative and stay interested. With the wrong pacing your story moves either too fast or too slow. The reader either feels they are being dragged along without having a chance to catch their breath, or they are drowning in muck as they try to push through to the end.

Cutting is another type of content editing. Content editors are the ones who rip your heart out of your chest with phrases like “this scene needs to be cut” and “this character servers no purpose to the plot.” Cutting also helps with pacing. Bogging your reader down with too much, repetitive, or irrelevant information leaves the reader feeling bored and confused with the direction of a story.

A content editor should also be able to point out a contrivance or a caricature; both of which make stories unbelievable and result in a loss of emotional investment. Stories require emotional investment to be enjoyable. If a reader can’t feel emotionally and intellectually attached to the characters and their situations, they give up and stop reading

Suggesting changes to these types of situations are not meant to be hurtful, but are to help the author create the best story they can.

Hiring an Editor

For financial reasons, I do not hire an editor. This is my choice and, good or bad, I understand the consequences.

If (or when) I ever hire an editor, it will be important to interview editors the same way I would interview a potential employee for a company. Asking what type of editing they offer is key. Will there be content editing or just proofreading? This is important knowledge before giving someone your money.

You may think you’ve hired an excellent editor, but they only proofread. Alternately, your editor may help you with content but (like me) not be the best at proofreading. If they only do one type of editing, it’s good to know that in advance. If you only need one type, this might not be an issue. If you need both, then that might mean more cost to you, and you might want an editor that does both. Finding out if they recommend someone else to do the proofreading or content editing is also important, or you may need to find another editor on your own.

I would also want to see other works by an editor before I hired them. If I pick up a book and read it only to find it’s a mess, that’s a bad sign. If an editor won’t tell you what they’ve worked on, then that’s also a bad sign.

Beta Readers

Beta readers are an excellent tool for helping you gauge where your story is at, but they can also be a pitfall. They are not editors and should not be treated as such. Sometimes a beta reader might offer to proofread. Perhaps they enjoy doing this, but it should never be an expected service.

The point of the beta reader is to give you a general idea of audience response. If the only person you give your work to is your Aunt Mildred and she loves everything you do, this is not really a beta reader. It can be hard to find people who will read and give you the feedback you need. I have very nice beta readers and they give me good audience style feedback, but ultimately they do not give me in depth feedback that I would get from another writer or editor, even when I ask them direct questions.

This is why you can’t rely on beta readers to know, for a fact, that your story is well edited. The only way is to find readers who are also writers or editors, too, or people who take beta reading seriously rather than just doing it as a favor.

Creative Partner

A creative partner is another writer that reads your work and you read their work. You give each other feedback. Having a solid creative partner is a good way to gauge your writing through constructive criticism, which can include pointing out errors or problems with the content. You still need to be aware that not every writer is good at both. Knowing your creative partner’s strengths and weaknesses is just as important as when you hire an editor.

I didn’t have a creative partner for Darkness Falling, but having a creative partner is something I wouldn’t shy away from. It is important to find the right person or people to ensure collaboration is beneficial for everyone in the group.

You Can Always Fix Things 

One of the bonuses to being self-published is that you can always go back and fix things when you do receive feedback. For example, I’ve received some feedback that Book One has typos and I’m doing another round of proofreading to find them.

Even professionally published works have errors at times, but traditional publishing means rounds of books are printed with errors and they cannot be changed. This is one perk to being self-published over going the more traditional route.

As self-published authors we all need to strive to make our product the best it can be, because we already face stigma. Being aware of your own pitfalls is a good first step to improving your work. With that in mind keep writing, keep practicing, and don’t give up!

Thank you for reading and if you have anything to add please do so in the comments!

Good morning! Today is the big day! Book Two of the Darkness Falling Trilogy has arrived.

Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker is now available on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!

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Here are the links:

US

CA

UK

AU

If you were hoping for a paperback version, I had some issues with CreateSpace. The paperback should be available shortly; within the next week. I’ll post another blog announcement once it happens.

I would like to thank everyone who has followed along with my blog to this point in my publishing journey. Also, a big thank you to everyone who has purchased or picked up Soldiers and Slaves for free. If you do read the book, please remember to review (even if you hate it!) because feedback will help me improve and/or know what I’m doing right.

I am now hard at work at the third and final installment – Darkness Falling: Secrets of Syerset. I hope to have it done by early 2017! I’m also doing another edit of Soldiers and Slaves due to feedback on typos. It just takes some time to get done. After that, I have many other stories to tell and intend to keep writing and publishing.

Thank you again and have a fantastic weekend! *

Today in celebration of Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker, book one of the series Soldiers and Slaves is Free today for Kindle!

Here are the links to different Amazons so that you can pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

United States

Canada

UK

Australia

Thank you for reading!

Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves

Free Today Only!

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I published Book One of Darkness Falling six months ago. It was an exciting time. After 19 years of on again, off again writing and editing I was finally able to put some shine on my story and send it out into the world. As I hit the publish button in the middle of the night, only my husband stood beside me, hugging me at that moment I had dreamed of since I was thirteen years old.

There were no fireworks, torrents of confetti, or bottles of champagne. I didn’t make the circuit of talk shows. Conan and Ellen weren’t calling for exclusive interviews. It was just another book set adrift in a sea of obscurity.

That magical moment was anticlimactic at best. Despite that, within a few hours I had my first sale. There was a rush of joy at the idea that someone out in the world was able to read my words, but that sale was one of only a few in the following days. Announcements on Twitter did nothing. My inability to pay for marketing, or even to fully understand how it worked, was evident.

In the first month of my first book launch, November 2015, I sold five books. Two people borrowed my book and read it through to the end, which I know thanks to the page counter on the Kindle Direct Publishing report. I didn’t receive my first review until December 26th, almost two months after the release date on October 31.

By the end of 2015 8 eBooks were sold, 3 paperbacks, and 30 eBooks were given away for free. Adding in the two borrowed books, that was 48 books.

Expectations vs. Reality

Before publishing, I read  many blogs by successful self-published writers. It gave me a spark of hope that perhaps there was some money to be made. Let’s be honest, all writers would love to live off of their words. During that first month after publication I kept thinking to myself “What did I do wrong? Those other writers made it sound so easy.” Over time I tried some things in the hopes of boosting sales. I lowered the price of my book, I had some free days, and I tried posting little ads on Twitter.

At first I was disheartened. I knew what was wrong, advertising. I knew there wasn’t much I could do about it, and slowly stopped hurrying to check my KDP report each day, knowing what I would find.

Each month I keep a spreadsheet of all my sales. I’ve always had a thing for spreadsheets and data despite being horrible at math. It’s one of my quirky organized disorginizational things. Near the beginning of March I realized that I had sold or given away 98 books.

Does that make me an Amazon Best Selling Author? No! Not even close. It does mean that 98 people in the world have my book.

That’s 98 people who never would have had my book if I never tried. Maybe they’re reading the book. Maybe they’re waiting until they run out of magazines to look at while they wait for the dentist. Maybe, just maybe, some of them are quietly out there waiting for Book Two.

New Perspective

As of right now, 102 books are out in the world. I get a couple of sales a few times per month. I’ve made peace with that, and continue to look into options for marketing. I have 3 reviews, and all three are positive in their own way. I know of two people who are wondering when Book Two will be ready. That’s amazing! It’s something I didn’t have before, and I’m grateful for it every day.

The New York Times doesn’t know I exist and maybe they never will. At the end of the day, that’s not the point. I’m doing what I always dreamed, and publishing Book One was not the end of the story. It was just another step in my life’s work; to be an author creating worlds and giving people the opportunity to experience new adventures with my characters.

Thank you to all of my readers! I appreciate you.

 

That’s right everyone, today is a big day! With the release of Book Two coming in June, I thought I would start hyping it up a little bit more. Without further ado; the cover of Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker.

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If you haven’t read Book One you may be curious as to why that cover has a modern skyscraper while this one has a sword. You’re just going to have to read it to find out! If you have read Book One, then you’re probably thinking “Eep! I know that sword!”

Unlike my first cover, which the original design was by Allix Styers, this cover is my own design and even my own photograph! I found the font at 1001 Fonts by Vic Fieger and you can find it here if you like it.

Now for the synopsis of Shadow of the Seeker:

Captured by the crown prince Kei Xander Kei’Oren and Petor Garinsith, Brosen and Treve are returned to Sa’Toret-Ekar to stand trial for their crimes. Xander continues to struggle under the influence of the Seeker, determined to wrest it back from Garinsith and his Mutilators. At the same time, the Resistance has mobilized and is racing to rescue Brosen before it is too late.

Across the Empire the Darkness looms ever nearer to an unsuspecting populace. The world-wide blizzard continues unabated, and a resurgence of the Sena plague begins bringing about unexpected results for the infected. No one is prepared for the transformations that are about to begin.

Some desire power. Other struggle for freedom. All will be swallowed by the Darkness.

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The anticipated release date of Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker is June 18, 2016. Keep me motivated by leaving a comment.

Thank you for reading. I’ll see you Monday to kick around Fear the Walking Dead.

 

Warning: This book contains explicit sexual content and is not intended for readers under the age of 18. This book also contains a lot of curse words. If either of those things do not appeal to you, this book is not for you.

This review, however; doesn’t contain those things. It is also an unbiased and unsolicited review.

Tales by Rails by Jewel E. Leonard is the story of Rhea (pronounced Ray) soon after settling a divorce from her much talked about but never seen ex-husband Mark. After many years in a loveless marriage, she is out on her own and decides to take a train trip from her home in California to Chicago on a whim. She meets a handsome man whom she refers to as Surfer Boy and they have whirlwind relationship during the train ride.

In general, a book classified as erotica is a book that I would pass by on the shelves. What drove me to purchase this book is that I follow the author on Twitter and she plays along in weekly games where authors share lines from their works in progress. She also likes to say she only writes fluff. Upon observing her lines from works in progress, I came to the conclusion that she doesn’t give herself enough credit. I decided to take a risk and read this novella and was pleased to discover I was right.

Despite the explicit material, this book doesn’t read like a romance. Rhea has suffered quite a bit emotionally and is carrying a lot of baggage. Her time with Surfer Boy is not just steamy encounters, (in fact, those do not start until later in the story.) They have deep, meaningful conversation and share very touching moments with each other. This book is more the fiction of two people who need to heal and happen to meet by fate, and then spend some time steaming up the windows.

The Positives

  • Character Development
  • Excellent Pacing
  • Realistic Storytelling and Setting
  • Excellent writing and formatting

Okay, so it’s kind of funny to say this book is completely plausible but it’s actually true. One reason romance  is often a genre I usually avoid is because of the unrealistic nature of “romance.” It’s hard for me to hold my suspension of disbelief in most cases. It’s not that I never read or watch romance, because I do, but just like this book those romances need to be about more than bosoms heaving, hair blowing back in the wind, and heavy sighs.

The way the characters are developed is what makes this story believable. Rhea could be any woman who has just left a bad marriage. She struggles with her identity now that she’s on her own. This is a real issue that women face. In the process of running away she meets Surfer Boy. She calls him this because she doesn’t want to form an attachment. She’s trying to find herself before a new relationship, even though she admits the marriage was dead long before the divorce papers were signed.

Surfer Boy is not what she expects. Although he’s described as very attractive, he isn’t the impossible Fabio. He’s had his fair share of troubles and behaves like a normal guy, not the impossible dreamboat. Although Rhea tries to cast him as the mysterious man on the train, he really doesn’t fit that mold. He’s too real to be mysterious, and this is a good thing.

Leonard is very blunt and straightforward in her writing. Her characters bare all; body and soul, and you actually care about what will happen to both Rhea and Surfer Boy. By the end you feel like you’re leaving behind two friends who just happen to share too much information about their relationship.

The book is also well written. There were no problems with grammar, structure or formatting.

My Notes

I have two reasons I gave this only four stars. Both are more opinions and do not reflect the writing. First, the story is too short. Maybe that’s normal for the genre. I have nothing to compare it to as this is my first book in this genre. I would have preferred it to be longer and find out what happens next. Although the book ends in a good place, it only feels like half a story.

I know it’s a novella. I know a second book is in the works. I would have just preferred the story to have been a full novel instead.

My other note is with Rhea’s name, although not the name itself but the pronunciation. My book is full of names that are unusual. My theory is, even if the reader is saying the name wrong at least they will say it wrong consistently.

I was pronouncing Rhea as “REE-uh” because I used to know someone with that name. Well, at the very end of the story it’s revealed that her name is pronounced Ray, and Rhea hates it when people say it the other way, the way I was using. It made me feel bad, because as I said these people feel realistic. My note, therefore; is this should have come near the beginning somewhere. It’s a little thing, and my own personal thing and basically more of a nitpick.

I give this book four stars!

Four Star

If you would like to read this book you can find it on Amazon. You can also follow Jewel E. Leonard on Twitter @JewelELeonard  or on her blog.

Before I published two months ago, one of my biggest questions was: Is it worth it for a new author to sign up for KDP Select? It’s also a question I couldn’t find an answer to on the internet. There were arguments both for an against the program, but in all cases it was established authors or authors who had previously been enrolled. That left it up to me to decide for myself.

I saw both pros and cons to the idea of being exclusive to Amazon. The biggest pro was having my book eligible for Kindle Unlimited. I liked the idea that Darkness Falling would be free to anyone who was enrolled in the program, but I’d be paid for pages read. This is a big deal because as a new author it gives people the chance to read without having to risk anything but their time. If they read three pages and hate it, then I haven’t asked them to make a big contribution.

On the other hand, I’m a person of low means when it come to income. It would be nice to make some money on my book, and although the amount you get per pages read is something like half a cent, it’s better than nothing.

Of course, two months later only five-hundred pages have been read for free and all of them were on the same day: November 27th. According to the book’s page on Amazon for the digital version, it is 257 pages long. I’ve learned that if you borrow a book from Kindle Unlimited and then go offline with your Kindle, it won’t count the pages as you reconnect. Approximately two weeks prior to the 27th someone did borrow the book and read one page. That solitary page vanished on the 27th, which I assume means it belongs to the 500 page dump that appears on my graph. I’m guessing this was one borrower who read the book twice, or loaned it to someone.

Granted, I don’t have a large advertising budget. I don’t expect to loan out many books, just as I know my sales numbers have been small in comparison to those who have money for advertising. Despite that, I’m still really surprised that actual sales are 80% higher than borrowed books. I thought it would be the other way around.

This made me curious about borrowing. How many people really enroll in Kindle Unlimited? I decided to run a Twitter Poll to find out. I received exactly one response.

At this point I have one month left of being enrolled in KDP select. It does offer a few other pros, such as being able to have a free giveaway day. On Black Friday I gave away 30 books, which is a big number for me. My goal is to have my book read by as many people as possible, and that free day was a big boost.

The biggest con I have to staying enrolled is I know there are people who hate Amazon, which  means my book isn’t available to them in any format. I’d like to be able to reach those people, too.

I’d run another poll to ask my followers which platform they use to read, but right now I don’t think I’d get any data from it. If my borrowed books do not increase in the next month, and if my next free day doesn’t go as well as my first one, I most likely will be offering Book One on more platforms in February.

Thank you for reading. If you’ve had any advice on this matter, please feel free to leave a comment.

Happy Halloween!

Today is not only my favorite holiday, it’s now the day that my lifelong dream of publishing a novel has come true. It’s especially wonderful because I’ve made this journey with a story that I began when the idea of becoming published was almost as unrealistic as being chosen to be a professional athlete or movie star.

Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves

Available Now for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

I’ve learned a lot in the past few months. I’ve learned how to publish an eBook, about images and fonts, and about marketing and branding. Most importantly, however; I’ve learned that it’s not too late and to not give up on myself.

Thank you to everyone who follows my blog and keep chasing your dreams!