Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Writer’s Block and Getting UnStuck

JoyofWritingYep, I’m one of those bad writers that seem to not write when she’s suppose to. I’m supposed to complete one (1) novel a year, but here it is, going into October, and I haven’t written anything!!


I’ve kind of worked on editing some older work, but that was only a few times this year. Ok. Ok. Just three (3) times this year I’ve looked at the novel which has fifteen (15) chapters and I’ve edited up to Chapter 10–on three different days.

I’m pitiful!!


I wish I was all HAPPY about writing like the woman on this blog picture, but I’m not. And what gets me even more depressed is that I know my writing skills, with every day of NOT writing, is going down the tubes!!

So… I went online to figure out how to get me back into writing.

A few things suggested were:

  • Take a break
  • Read a Book
  • Attend writing functions
  • Join a Critique Group
  • Write fun stuff!

I think my break is Loooooong enough.
I did read a book. Sex Zombies was a fun read.
I attend the Houston Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers monthly dinner via Meetup.com
I don’t have a Critique Group anymore

And writing FUN stuff? Uh, duh. I DON’T WANT TO WRITE!

Thus…sigh…I still don’t write.

My next thing was to go to Google for MORE help!

I love the writing contests that give either a topic or provide a small portion of the story that should be used in your story. One of them is WriterWeekly’s 24-Hour Contest. The story has to be completely written within a certain time frame, like 24-hours, and thus the story becomes unique and original. This site you have to pay $$ for though….

I also love NaNoWriMo which happens during the month of November, where you have to type 1667 words a day to meet the 50,000 word count by the end of the month.

I’ve heard of other writers talk of Write or Die where, on a serious level, the program starts deleting what you write if you procrastinate too long. The Web App is free, but for $10.00 you can buy a desktop version.

If you like pictures of kittens, after so many written words, you can have a cute cat pop up every time you meet your writing goal word count. Written? Kitten! is the place for that.kittens


Lots of fun stuff on the internet for online tools to boost those creative juices!


Hopefully something will help you if you’re in the same mess as I am. As for me, I’m still trying…..


I think I’ll wait until November. Hmmmm.


Until Next Time!!



Why I LOVE the GURU Website!!

timeworrylateNo knowledge? No Skill? No Time?

a) One of the above?
b) A couple of the above?
c) All of the above?

That’s exactly where I was with two (2) of my websites.

One of the websites has been sitting on my mind for YEARS, and the other website, yeah, a few years too.

They needed to CHANGE!!

Website #1

I had typed up these really specific details for Website #1 which was on the Movable Type platform. When I first started looking for places to put blogs, I thought Movable Type was the best option…until I started working with it. Then I wanted to discard it, but then used it anyway. I kept HURTING myself for no reason! I even mentioned in this blog: WHY did I do this Movable Type AGAIN?!! And I had NO IDEA. Besides, just trying to get something to work that was already created and activated, there was no sense on continuing with it. It was a HEADACHE! So much so that I LOST all my comments on it by accidently deleting the WRONG THING!!! UGGGGGGGGgGggggggghhhhhh!!!!!

I needed Website #1 to be moved from Movable to WordPress, and the information on the internet looked too hard and too time consuming for me to do it myself.


Website #2

I tried to quickly put together a website that was REALLY informative, but use a FREE template website design to create it. All those hours of making How-To videos for Website #2 was just wasted on a very, very, ugly, unsightly, silly looking site.

But I just didn’t have the time to convert Website #2 to a better look and feel.

Da-dada-Daaahhhhhh!!!! GURU to the RESCUE!!!



I don’t know WHY I didn’t do this before! But I was talking to a friend of mine on how he could update a business website, and make it look really professional looking. I gave him the advice to use GURU and FIND someone to do it for him. Well, he decided to use templates and a lot of time to try to fix it himself. I kept telling him to use GURU, and he simply refused–still peddling along trying to do it all himself.

Then it clicked! I’ll SHOW him how EASY it is to just get someone else to do it for him.

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE???!!!!



So, I started off posting a project for Website #2 on Guru with a title: WEBSITE UPDATE. I explained what I needed, and how HORRIBLE my existing website was, and I got over 40 requests with ranges of costs from $100.00 to $2,000.00. The time I would have taken to try to redesign the website myself was placed into the time to go through the suggested cost quotes and resumes of the skilled WebDesign companies and individuals. Actually, it was a lot less time. I simply took my time to go through them.

Guru has change A LOT since I had been on the site and found my Cover Designer and Editor. Using the Web Design category this time, I got quite a slew of requests–mostly from India. Not only did I get so many responses, I also got the same requests sent to my Facebook Page, my LinkedIN, my Twitter, and my personal email!!

MAN! I understand persistance, and trying to stick out from the competitions, but that took the CAKE! They had looked at my website I wanted to redesign, got my contact information from i,t and found me on every platform they could find to send additional contact information on their interest on re-designing my website.

Needless to say, I developed an elimination strategy. Grrrrr!!!

  • Those who called me: Dear Sir (eliminated!..If they would have included “Madam” in the title, I would have left them on the list, but NONE of them did)
  • Those who just sent general “canned” information about their company and nothing specific containing information about my website (eliminated!)
  • Those who just sent two-line sentences that basically said: We can do that project (eliminated!)
  • Those who quoted above the $0-$250 range that I submitted (eliminated!)
  • Those who did not have samples of previously designed websites or references (eliminated!)
  • Those who sent me a list of websites and I couldn’t connect to them (eliminated!)
  • Those whose profiles stated they were based in the United States, but when I went to their websites, they had signs that they were NOT in the U.S. (ELIMINATED! — I don’t like misrepresentation!!)
  • Those who couldn’t reply to my questions in a way I could understand them or replied without answering all of my questions (ELIMINATED!!)

Next, was to rate the quotes of the ones I wanted to take a 2nd or 3rd look over their designs. Then, I took into consideration their price quote. Finally I settled on a designer.

I was so excited about getting my Website #2 redesigned that I remembered Website #1, and how I wanted to changed it to the WordPress platform.

I started another project with the title: Movable Type to WordPress–Blog Website

All-in-all, I paid $250.00 for Website #2 (which I could have gotten done at a lot lower price, but I decided I wanted to work with this particular designer because I liked his designs, and he was going to give me the files, like I wanted, for me to continue updates on my own via Dreamweaver)

I paid $160.00 for Website #1 (which, again, I could have gotten lower, but this designer answered all my questions, wanted to do EXACTLY what I wanted, and got it all done within a DAY!!).


Here is Website #1. Before and After. It doesn’t look like much now because I need to go find a cool skin that I want to put with it, just like the skin on this current blog that you’re reading now.

Before After
oldBlogWebsite NewBlogWebsite
Take a look at the actual Website #1



Here is Website #2. And it looks AWESOME compared to what it looked like before. I’m just SO VERY happy for this update. Also, now, I don’t feel so sheepish when directing people who saw my YouTube video and then went to my website, only to see some silly-looking, amateurish website that wasn’t very easy to navigate. It looks SO VERY PROFESSIONAL… NOW!!

Before After
OldToolsWebsite Mock2
Take a look at the actual Website #2



So, the moral of the story??? Get the extra help when you:
Don’t have the Time.
Don’t have the Skill.
Don’t have the knowledge.

The relief to get something COMPLETED… FINALLY! was one big Awesome SIGH for me!!

…and my friend? Well, I told him my story and showed him the results.

He’s still twiddling with his business website.


Until Next Time!




Is my Book Cover included in the copyright protection of my book?

I just went through the CopyRight Office for my last two books, and they are now buckling down on their procedures. Before, I just had to send electronic works, but now, if there’s a paperback version of my work available to buy, I also need to provide two (2) physical proofs of that as well. If my novels were selling in eBook format only, I wouldn’t have to mail the CopyRight Office proof of the work just upload the digital format.

So, then there was this thing about my Book Cover and if I Own it. I had two choices, which they emailed to me and let me know how I should answer.

CHOICE ONE: If I didn’t make the Book Cover, then the registration record must contain an explanation of how I obtained the copyright book cover designer. I can then say it was transferred “By written agreement”.

CHOICE TWO: Alternatively, if the artwork was done on a work-for-hire basis, and that I, the author of the text, was the employer, then I can say that. When a work is made for hire, the employer is considered the author, and not the individual(s) who created the work. I can then authorize the CopyRight office to name me as the author of the “for hire” artwork.

So, if you pay someone to do the cover for you, just let the CopyRight office know that the artwork was “for hire” and that says that you own it and it will also be copyrighted, belonging to you, along with your novel.

Just wanted to pass along that bit of new information. I always learn something new in this business.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

On a personal note…. Yeah, yeah, I haven’t been posting like I used to. I’m working on a novella and as well as a sideline of marketing, which is also fun for me. I’m still doing some testing on this marketing, which I really don’t do much of, or rather very little of–marketing, that is. So, I’ll let you know how it works.


Until Next Time!



Novel’s A lot of Work! Thank you Templates!

I forgotten how much work it was to get a novel together for people to buy. Man! I was like, “Did it take this long to format last time?” And, “Maybe I’m missing something….” And, “I can’t stop at this part…I need to keep going.” And it took HOURS and HOURS to format my novel Jetta from yWrtier to an edit form for my editor; then I had to go over the edits of my editor, and format it again for: the Kindle HTML, the Paperback Format and Smashwords. I had to first start off by putting my novel in Notepad to get rid of all the formatting so that I can use my templates and have a fresh copy.

Geez!

When I thought I knew how to do something, it didn’t turn out right and I had to go back and figure out which step I missed and what went wrong. As I continued on, I begin to see why some authors have choosen just to pay money for someone else to do it. It took me a few days to figure out stuff again and get things right.

Next, I’ll have Creations to do! And then the process starts all over!

Thank the Heavens for TEMPLATES!

If it wasn’t for my Smashword, HTML Kindle and Book Format templates, it would have been even longer. I just had to place my format codes around the formats for my fonts (i.e italics, bold, underline. center), copy and paste the novel in Notepad, and copy each chapter, one-by-one, into each of the templates I had open. I then had to put my formatting back into each area by searching the code and making the correct updates.

Remember these codes?
Bold: <strong>^&</strong>
Italics: <i>^&</i>
Underline: <u>^&</u>
Centered: <c>^&</c>

Yeah, the faithful codes I can put around my formatting and then remove them. It was a lot of tedious work, but I got it done, and hopefully, the next one will go faster. If it hadn’t been so long since I had done all of these things, I think it would have gone much smoother. I’m so glad (and I know I’m repeating myself) that I had these steps and notes to help me along, because this can become frustrating…very fast.

I sometimes wonder if this site has actually deterred some authors from doing the Self-Publishing route…. It does take some time and effort to complete. Hmmmm.

But, when you have a business, and that’s what this is, there’s a lot of work you have to put into it. And in the end, it is always fulfilling.

Until Next Time!

What Do I Need To Do Next Again?

I love written down instructions. When there’s A LOT of steps to do, then “words that stay” (as mentioned in The Dark Crystal on defining what “writing” is), written instructions, are there to help when you need them.

I’m back to doing my self-publishing steps for two more books which I have finally finished writing and self-editing. Now, the 2nd and 3rd books of The Calling Series (Jetta and Creations) are ready to go for my editor. She has Jetta right now and we’ll start on Creations in a little over a month from now, after Jetta is done. I’ve also contacted my Book Cover Designer, and she’s off to creating the cover for Jetta as well.

I kept forgetting, “What do I need to do next again?” and I’m so glad that I have this blog to go back to figure out what I missed. My Step to Self Publishing has those necessary layers that I just forget how to do:

  • BookTrailers – Got to get my pictures at Dreamstime and music at AudioJungle
  • Copyright – Will go to website after getting Book Cover and Editing done
  • ISBN – Check! Already have a block of them, BUT, I got to update the title with the associate book for Bowker
  • Format for Paperback – Will do Steps here. And Uploade to CreateSpace
  • Marketing – I wanna do the PRLOG again, just because I want to DO EVERYTHING!
  • Update Social Media Sites – Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Facebook Page – once everything is uploaded and submitted to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords

Hmmm. Is that it? I th-think so…. Oh well, if I missed something, I’ll just go back to the blog page and retrace my steps.

Until Next Time!



Need an Editor? Need a Book Cover Designer?

Pst! Pst! Hey. Over here? Need something? I got you covered.

The place to go to help you on your book designing and self-publishing path are sites where other self-publishers hang out. They’re the “been there, done that” crowd who has paved the way to make it a bit more easier for yourself.

I go to KindleBoards.com.

You can ask any question and you’ll get a slew of opinions and different point-of-views and different tastes in tea and coffee. And getting various types of ideas and opinions always helps me on making a decision on what to do.

All types of opinions help you formulate your own way and your own path.

You can take a piece of idea here, and take a piece over there, and a piece right around the corner, and a teensie, weenie piece from that person you just don’t like (but that part of the idea was pretty good). Just post and ask your question and you’ll get answers.

It’s like looking into a crystal ball.

Until Next Time!






Paperback or eBook?

I spoke at a High School about Self-Publishing earlier in February. It was a small school with about 500 students. I say it’s small because my Senior graduating class in California was 900 students. For me, this was a small school. While there, I watched and listened to some of the students after my presentation was finished and answering questions (and before the bell rung for the next period), and it reminded me that not everyone has the privilege of having internet access, let alone the funds to purchase an eReader. Some of them didn’t know what a “blog” was, but they have heard of Facebook and Twitter, though most didn’t participate in it.

I’m going to repeat what I wrote in a comment…

When I travel, I’ve been trying to count how many people in airports use print versus eReaders. It’s been about even in some areas, and then there were all eReaders, and then some mostly print. It’s still a mixture of both depending on where I was. Plus, when I speak to people about my book, the first thing I still hear is, “Where can I get it?” When I tell them it’s online buy only, they’re like, “Oh” and that means, “Nevermind…not for me.” I then tell them they can order the print version from online too. I see their face lift for a moment, but I still get that feeling like, “Oh..I don’t do that much internet shopping.” LOL!!

I had to change my mindset about digital taking over print…and it will, but it still will take some time.

For me, I still get money from eBooks than Paperback, so I focus there. HOWEVER, it’s really easy having paperback available via CreateSpace which is owned Amazon. I have not sent my latest book (The 9th Symbol) to Lightning Source yet (a lot more work and money needed versus Createspace which is very easy), because I just don’t see any revenue there. YET, I do have the files available when I am ready to put it there. It’s just that Barnes and Noble doesn’t have a paperback copy of my latest book…just Amazon does. Yet…hmmm… CreateSpace now has a way to get my paperback to Barnes and Noble for just $25 (see CreateSpace Expanded Distribution), which wasn’t available before, but it is now.

So, for those who want paperback, it’s easier to go down that lane now using CreateSpace.

Doing both format does require some work, but I’ve made templates that you can use…free (you know my favorite ‘F’ word 🙂 ). Just go to my Tools Website and download it.

Either way, make sure you’re putting out the best product you can, because people will be looking and tongues are slick and harsh on the internet world on reviews. Having a good product would at least avoid some of that, and increase your sells when word spreads on recommending your book.

Until Next Time!

NaNoWriMo and yWriter

Of course I figured out AFTER THE FACT (after NaNoWriMo) how to use yWriter during NaNoWriMo.

What’s NaNoWriMo? For those who don’t know, it’s National Novel Writing Month where participants take on the challenge to write 50,000 words (approximately 175 page novel) by writing from November 1 and end on 11:59:59, November 30.

Is it a Contest? No. Do you win anything? No. It’s a self-perseverance experience to help those, like me, who need that extra help and reminder to… JUST WRITE. No worries of spelling, or grammar, or plot, or character names, or anything that gets a writer hung up. The point is just to WRITE. This activity has helped me with two novels in the past and with the almost completion of the 3rd novel of The Calling series. People chat on forums, meet-up with fellow writers in their local areas, orchestrated by the local Municipal Liaison (ML) who volunteer to help cheer people on to their goals to reaching the 50,000 word mark. The ML also coordinate write-ins where you meet up and all write together.

There’s parties too 🙂

This year, since I’ve been using yWriter on all new materials now, I wanted to use it’s word count to keep track of my progress. Also, I heard that it’s programmer used it specifically for NaNoWriMo as well. As mentioned earlier, I missed out on the feature during the November time-frame. I was busy looking at the bottom of the yWriter window and trying to jot down the “Added Today” word count into a Excel spreadsheet instead of looking around the software to find a much easier way to see what I wrote for every day of my novel project.

DUH.

Heh. Heh. You know me. Silly, silly.

I wanted to share how to use yWriter with NaNoWriMo for those of you, like me, who wanted to know, but just didn’t look hard enough for the answer. There’s an ongoing, running tally of your word count under: TOOLS > DAILY PROGRESS LOG (picture below).

yWriterDaily

In the picture, it also tracks the days you just open up the software and didn’t do anything. Notice my Zero counts on the first three rows (Dec 4, Dec 2, and Nov 29). The word count goes all the way down to the very beginning of the start of the project (which I don’t show in the picture, but you get the idea).

PRETTY NEAT HUH?

You can also set a target of when to complete your novel and it’s word count. The picture below, is just some kind of estimate that I’m most likely am NOT going to reach, but I added it in there anyway.

I put a Start Date for Dec 4, 2011 and an End Date of February 5, 2012 for 75,000 words. The green bar gives my status on my goal.

So, yes, I’m a cheerleader for yWriter. I can’t help it. It has REALLY helped me with getting around my novel, knowing what characters are in what scenes, what items are used, where I use certain locations in the scenes…EVERYTHING, that I think a writer needs. It’s awesome, and I did show my much appreciate by donating…because it’s FREE you know 🙂

Before I go, if you noticed, I don’t have Winner! as my picture for this blog, but just Participate. Yep, I wasn’t going to complete the 50,000 word count…at all. But I participated because it helps me, and I met my goal to add at least 10,000 more words to my current novel Creations. Last year, I believe I only wrote about 3,000 words during the month of NaNoWriMo.

It’s okay though. My local ML said to me in 2009 to just participate for the writing and that I didn’t have to really reach the 50,000 word count. It stuck in my head, and I decided to give it a try for 2010, and I did it again this year.

I enjoy it!

Maybe I’ll reach the 50,000 word count in some future time as when I first participated in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. But for now, I enjoy the experience.

Until Next Time!

Tools for Self-Publishing

WritingTools
I wanted to post, and also make a page, of actual tools that writers can use for self-publishding. I love lists because lists are easier to use and has step-by-steps to follow, instead of fishing through a lot of blog posts.

NOTE: The majority of the software below can be downloaded all at once at Ninite.com

NOTE of NOTE: After reading the list below and you’re still needing help, check out my Tools Page. It has step-by-step videos on formatting your novels for printers, Smashwords and Kindle.

1) A writing software

– I’ve used Microsoft Word because that is what majority of people use and that’s what came with the laptop. But you can also use Open Office (free tool) for those who can’t stand Microsoft or don’t have the money for it. My current and most favorite tool now is yWriter (another free tool). yWriter helps me jump around from scene to scene; keeps track of: locations, items and characters (with character descriptions); and I can find almost anything, anywhere, so much more easier. It’s a great thing! I have tips on how to get your MSWord document ready before importing into this software. It’s long, but it’s well worth it. Though the software is free, I donated because it was THAT useful to me.

2) A PDF converting software

– Adobe Professional is what I use, but you can get a cheaper version (a poster told me about) that’s hundreds of dollars cheaper called Serif Page Plus X5. Either way, they both are learning curves, meaning you do have to learn the software to know what you have to do…which is basically for all softwares. Want something FREE! Try DoPdf. You can size the pdf to the specific print size of 6×9 (which I couldn’t figure out how to do in CutePDF) and embed fonts. It won’t work for Lightning Source, since they have specific PDF requirements dealing with PDF/X-1a:2001, but you can try it with CreateSpace printer. I looked into PDF995 (also free), but it had like four (4) separate parts and I couldn’t easily just “click a button” to get it working. I’m sure there’s someway to get it to work, but I just couldn’t figure it out. DoPdf was easy and quick. And I’ve heard Open Office conversion worked well with authors too. It has a button that you just click. Give the Freeware a try in CreateSpace first before going to Lightning Source, to save some $$. If it works in one place, it just might work at the other.

3) A photo software

– Here’s where my GIMP comes back in for me. It’s help edit everything that’s a picture, and it’s also free. Need to cut your pictures to 800×600? Use FrameSize. You can NOT keep the entire image when you turn it into this size without skewing the picture, but you can view what will be cut out first before sizing it with this frame tool. This helped me with my Book Trailers. Oh! And make sure to have a photo of yourself, because you’ll need it to post…EVERYWHERE!

4) Web Design Program

– I first learned webdesign on FrontPage and moved on to Dreamweaver. I’ve also read good reviews on a Free software called Kompozer. I downloded Kompozer, exported it to my desktop, and it worked great! I took the code in my Kindle Template, pasted it in the Source tab of Kompzer in the “body” section, and did the Preview to see what it would look like. Watch the Step-By-Step videos on how to use it. There’s also SiteSpinner that’s cheap to buy (less than $60.00).

You should get something faster to upload your files from your PC to your domain, however. I use CoreFTP. Need to learn HTML or remember an HTML code? Go to W3Schools and self-teach. If you’re not much into web designing, just go to Blogger and you don’t have to worry about domains and hosts and html. You just need your Google ID (same login used for YouTube, Analytics, Adsense and Feedburner). A lot of authors have pages with {authorname}.blogspot.com. For more about Web Design stuff, go to my blog: Design a Website for Us Beginners. Oh! Forgot! I purchased my domain name from Namescheap and my host is ICDSoft.

5) Audio software editor

– Whenver I get to this point, I’ll be looking into Audacity (free) for recording audio books. PodCasting 101 has a great list for beginners and what to get, and there’s a Podiobooks 101, so to speak, to help as well. If I ever have another 4-5 hours a day, this would be next on my list to get into, but until then, this is waaaaayyyyy down the list for me.

6) Flip Page software

– You might want to give a nice way for people to get a free peak inside your novel on your personal website. CodeBox and Flip Builder (I use this but it only gives 20 pages) and BookBuzzr are some good options. They use pdf files. Also note, that Kindle and Smashwords allow for a free sample…if you use the checkbox option for it. With Smashwords you can just link to the page that has you book preview and you don’t have to worry about one for your site. You can also make a separate sample page of your novel on your website.

7) Website Statistics

– It’s time to get narcissistic! The best tool to know how many times someone visits your webpage is Google Analytics. I look at this everyday. WebStatChecker is pretty cool as well. Just type your domain in, and click on the underlined hyperlink number for the Yahoo Backlinks. Headkeys gives you an idea of the popular Key Words your website is using that people will search for and possible click to come to your site. Reverse Internet can give you some ideas of who is linking back to you.

8) Book Trailer Tools

– I used Windows Live Movie Maker, which is free, but MAC users can use iMovie. You can get stock photos (images you can use that are royalty free and where someone won’t have a problem with you using their picture) from Dreamstime and your music from AudioJungle. Places like that. Then when you’re done with the Book Trailer, you can post them everywhere like this list below (NOTE: I’ve only done the first five because you get tired of having to create YET another profile/login/password again and again…). Check it out:

  • Your websites/blogsites
  • Your Facebook Page
  • Your Smashbook Book Profile Page(s)
  • Your Amazon Author Profile Page
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Your Myspace MySpaceTV
  • MetaCafe–You have to deal with commercials though
  • Yahoo Video–If you already have an login for Yahoo, then no problem here on having to manage yet another login ID
  • Google Video-But if it becomes popular on YouTube, it will list here. Your google login/Password works here and YouTube and Analytics
  • Media Photobucket
  • Blazing Trailers

9) Backup Your Work Tools

– I use an external hardrive that can plug into my laptop, but mostly I depend on DropBox. After I make changes, I drop everything in here. It’s FREE! And if you don’t have your laptop, but can get access to a PC with internet, you can always access your work.

10) Writing Process and Marketing

  • Help with words

    – Online Dictionary and Thesaurus are my best friends. But TheSage is my blood-brother. Don’t have to be on the internet for this one, though it can work with online help as well.

  • Critique Group

    – Join an online critique group such as CritiqueGroup. I write Science Fictin and Fantasy, so I found a group specific to my genre: Critters.org. For fairness, these sites make sure you critique others and keeps up with your amount of critiques. If you keep a certain average/amount then you can upload your work for critique. If you want to meet physically with someone and/or work with other writers in your area, a local group, try finding one with MeetUp.

  • Getting it Done

    – Have Writer’s Block or just can’t start that book? I HIGHLY recommend NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It takes place mainly in November, but there are writing stuff to do throughout the year as well. It helps you forgive yourself for not being talented, not knowing grammar, and not knowing what to write. Just write without anything stopping you that you think normally would. It has helped me complete several novels. Need a quick boost before sitting down to write? Try OneWord. It’s fast, 60 seconds to write about One Word and it gets the juices flowing.

  • Community of Writers

    – Find a community, rather it’s online or in person. You’ll need the support. You’ll need to talk about writing with those who understand. Find a forum. I enjoy KindleBoards. You can find a community in a critique group as well. Currently, I no longer have a face-to-face critique group, we disbanded after many years (Nothing negative; it just people move one, lives change. That’s the way life goes, you know? A new season…a different reason.). However, I got SO MUCH help from them. They were wonderful people! I now keep track of them on Facebook. I haven’t submitted my work for critiquing for the entire year of 2011, but from 12 years of being in critique groups, I know what to look for now. I also have a reader to look at my novels as well as an editor that I pay for her skills.

  • A Laundry List of Marketing and Promoting

    – See this very long list of things to get into: How To Find Readers and that will keep you busy for a few years while time and more time will get your spiraling to your definition of success!


That’s it! That’s all the brain, downloading/dumping, I can do. Hope it helps!

Later!

How to find readers for your novel–ACTUAL STEPS! Honest Answer

SeeMeEvery time I’ve searched for information on how to get readers and/or how to market or promote my novels, I find a “great title” but absolutely NO REAL INFORMATION on what I should do.

That’s been my frustration and one of the main reasons I started this blog. No one provides REAL steps on how to accomplish things. Either that, Or maybe the majority of people don’t know HOW to give steps, like providing driving instructions– they give just pieces of what to do and where to go and you have to try to make sense of it all or figure it out like a puzzle.

Now granted, I understand that if you follow someone else’s steps that it may or may not work out for you, but at least provide something that DID WORK and give some kind of direction, STEPS, on how it got done. If you do find a site that claims they have the actual steps on how to get fans and/or how they self-published and sold thousands of books, you then would have to pay for it, and usually (though I haven’t paid for any information…but I know this is what would happen because the first part of information offered for free isn’t anything useful) it would be just some “workshop-generic” stuff that just wouldn’t help me, because I found that information, FREE, online somewhere else.

So, what if you’ve already done this list below, which seems to be the basic of what I always find online:

  1. Create a blog
  2. Create a website
  3. Put RSS on your sites
  4. Social media outlets
    1. Create a Facebook page
    2. Get a Twitter account
    3. Sign up for LinkedIn

Then there’s this list that’s practically very hard to do:

  1. Get Book Reviews
  2. Begin an email newsletter
  3. Setup a Book Tour either online or locally

In the beginning, I did dip my toe into sending out to have my books reviewed (just to three places, and yeah, I know that isn’t enough. Like I said, I dipped my toe…and then stopped). And…you know…it reminded me of sending a query letter all over again to publishing houses and agents–the long wait, the rejections, the silent unresponsiveness, the uncertainties. Just like publishing houses and agents, these places that do Book Reviews are SWAMPED. So it’s hard to break in, or to get anyone, to review your book, and to accept you for a Book Tour (You can pay for one of these too, if you like, but see my Slush Pile fear further below). Then, if you DO FINALLY get one or two book reviews, it would take awhile before it’s posted, and they just might not like it, or what if you get a bad review?

I’ve changed my idea on trying to get Book Reviews. And besides, I had always HATED when I went to the bookstore and saw a cool cover, turned the book around and all it had was Reviews and NOTHING to tell me what the book was about. I don’t know who these Reviewers are unless it’s a big name like Stephen King. And the statement about “Best Seller…New York….” review?…this has been sssooo overdone, I’ve just ignore them. I figure, if/when my book starts to get a fan base, my fans will put reviews down for me, and word-of-mouth would be the review. And they did: See Going Free on Amazon…And Book Reviews.

I got confirmation on my new belief on not getting Book Reviews from this person: Brian Spratt. On Number 6 on his page, Letter B, for his Advertising advice, let me quote:

Reviews-They really don’t do as much as one would think. If so, my books wouldn’t sell for The Unsuspecting Mage, my free book, has been eviscerated repeatedly by reviewers. Yet, it is the one that drives all my sales.

Think of it this way, no amount of good reviews will mean squat unless someone can find you to read them. Even then, the climate for reviews is suspect.

Now back to the three-item list above. The item regarding the “newsletter” advice….uh DUH! You need a fan-base FIRST to send them to? Unless you PAY for your novel to be sent by someone who already has a subscriber database. I’m always scared of those because I’m thinking that they would be sending my novel and everybody else’s novel to the SAME PEOPLE (Same Blog sites), and, again, my book would just get lost in the Slush Pile.

However, you can slowly build a email distribution list by having a field/option on your website to subscribe for notifications whenever you get a new novel out. Make sure to add where they can subscribe to the back, or end, of all of your books. However, you do need to have people actually BUYING your book in order for them to want to subscribe…sigh.

Then there’s these additional items to do:

  1. Join forums
    1. Kindle forums
    2. Barnes and Noble Nook
  2. Post comments on blogs
  3. Have friends and family post USEFUL reviews on Amazon
  4. Go to the Author Central on Amazon and sign in to make your Author Profile
  5. Create a Listmania! list on Amazon
  6. Get Car magnets
  7. Do Search engine optimization (SEO) on your website/blog
  8. Make a Book Trailer
  9. Do the LINK thang

I’ve joined author and writing forums, and then realized, though they are also readers, I wanted to now reach people who weren’t authors and writers. I mean, authors and writers got enough on their plate and probably have a back-load of books they’ve been meaning to take time to read…that is, once they get that next chapter finished…and that next novel completed. Plus, they’re doing the same thing I’m doing, and that’s to sell their books. That’s like two salesmen trying to sell the same product to each other. So, I continue the forums to learn something new, but now I’m turning my focus to finding readers. That was the theory anyway. But then I learned something NEW and my theory of selling to other authors changed. Other authors and writers can help to promote you, they can write reviews of your book, they can give you guest posts and interviews on their blogs, share your stuff with their circles and help reach other readers as well. They can help push your book FORWARD. Staying in touch with these forums keeps the sales going.

As for commenting on blogs…if the blog isn’t already FULL of other comments, who’s to say that yours would even be looked at. Besides, the blog-site might have high traffic or even low ones, but don’t want you posting your URL there. You can try to get around it with spelling it out, but people can see what you are doing. The only thing that will benefit is having your link on a popular blog that will help make your website become more popular by the search engines for having your link there.

Friends and Family? Trying to get your friends and family to post USEFUL Reviews besides “it was great! buy it!” is kind of hard. I mean, I feel like I’m dictating to them on what they need to say and how to state it (Now, children, remember to answer the Who, What, When, Where and How questions when completing the review). And more than likely, that would delay them from commenting because that would take too long to type and they would have to find time to type it. Speaking of delay, they may just be that type to delay anyway, late on everything…especially delaying to read your book in the first place (heh. heh.).

The car magnet idea? It might give me some curious bystander once in a blue moon, to come over and inquire, which has actually been pretty fun :). And the Amazon Author Profile is only useful when someone actually finds you. And the Listmania! is useful if people like what you list, which might be connected to what your write. And doing the LINK thing to increase your site’s popularity, goes along with SEOs. You could also create another website on another topic that you are interested in and post LINKS back to your novel’s website as well. But that’s another topic and readers might not be interested in your novel if it’s not related. Or, they might like your personality and be curious about you and buy your novel…that is, if your novel’s topic happens to be another one of their interests. This also goes along with posting on forums (in your signature is your Link Thang) and comments on other blogs. If you write Reviews for anything that you buy, link it back to your Author Name–that is, spell out your first and last name and post it at the end of your review, and put your URL in your profile (i.e. Amazon products that you’ve bought). Don’t put your website at the end of your review because that just changes the mode of your posting–making it sound as if you WANT something and not GIVING something. If someone likes your review, they would Google your name and/or look at your profile to see who you are. Then, BOOM, your URL is right there for them to see.

As for the SEOs? Please don’t pay anyone or anything for it. I’ve got four (4) pages as “top ranked” and I didn’t do anything but post on my blog information that I just didn’t find anywhere else and no one was talking about it. That’s how you do it. Put the search words, you know, words people would type to find sites on Google, and put them in the Tag lines (NOTE: Google Analytics gives the search words used that direct people to my websites and I put those exact words in my Tag listing), but mainly put it in your Title of your site or blog. And that’s it! That’s all I did. No hard-coding html, no looking up of “keywords” or anything. I just posted up simple things that I wanted to share because I couldn’t find it on anyone else’s site. I did the work to do the deed and shared what I found out. Also, my blog has AGED enough (being that I started it in the latter part of 2008) for the search engines to know that my site isn’t Spam. The obvious about getting “top ranked” is that your site just won’t get there if it’s information that’s already saturated. Example: Science Fiction Author. Those keywords just ain’t gonna cut it. So ::shrug:: gottah find another way out of the slush pile of the internet of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, and that is posting something unique that people might want to read about. My unique things was posting stuff about things I could not find readily on the internet to help me…so I figured it out myself and posted it up.

The Book Trailer, though, was pretty fun to make for me. See my posting about it Book Trailers here. But we’re back to square one–people need to know you’re out there for them to view it. I would recommend Fiverr and do a search for jerrylittlemars to get help on increasing your audience on YouTube. He has some ideas, being that I was a newbie and all, that I had no idea about. Some of the ideas may seem like “cheating” to some people, but the tagging thing on Amazon that some authors take part of (Google: Author Tag Exchange), or “liking” each other Facebook pages, or adding Followers on a huge, already populated list of authors for Twitter… all of that may seem like “cheating” to others as well. Just do what’s comfortable to you, which mean, you can use the tools as it’s intentional purpose–it will take longer, but you’ll benefit from it nonetheless. I, for one, will do a little of this or that (more this than that). And I don’t like to support other Authors if I really don’t like what they write…which makes my list very, very, very, very slim. But does Book Trailers bring readers? Not really. It’s one of those “nice-to-haves” for those who want to know a little bit about your book…when they do hear about it. I wouldn’t pay thousands to have one made…it would be a waste, unless you’re already have a huge fan base and you have that kind of money to support your art.

Advertisements(below): let’s not forget the list suggested for that. Most of them you would have to PAY for (and You know I don’t like that word):

  1. Google AdWords $$
  2. Projectwonderful.com $$
  3. local community/city newspaper $$
  4. prlog.org FREE
  5. prweb.com $$
  6. Pay-Per-Click: Google, GoodReads $$
  7. Facebook Ads $$

I’m not using two dollar signs to say it’s expensive, I’m just saying that it costs money. I guess advertisement won’t hurt, but I always go for the FREE stuff (See what I said about PrLog). And then there’s that thing of trying to get the reader’s attention (Hey! Marcel! Are you listening to me!… Heh. Heh. I think that AT&T U-verse commercial is funny). You, again have an ad in a slush pile of other ads. AND from what I’ve read, PAYING for advertisement, just doesn’t quite work most of the time. You end up wasting money. But it has worked for others….

Then there’s the other social stuff that requires a little less effort for those who love to read books where you can do GiveAways and ARC.

  1. GoodReads
  2. Shelfari
  3. LibraryThing

You get involved in these communities and also suggest your book and/or provide free books with GiveAway promotions. Just don’t put up only your books on your read list and only have YOUR BOOKS always on the forefront of your entire profile/login and in your ENTIRE conversation. Be a part of the community because you’re also reading other works. Learn about the community in order to become a part of it. For me, however, I barely have time to write, let alone read books. So, this will come later for me…when I have that time again, to really get into the community, I think it would help–but I did sign up. I listed some books I’ve read 20+ years ago on Shelfari (I used somewhat the same list I have on Listmania on Amazon), only because Shelfari is connected to Author Central. See my “What the Heck” blog on what happened when I did that. I also exported the Shelfari list and imported into GoodReads and LibraryThing. Easy Peasy. Writers are Readers–we love books! So, reading and talking about books you like makes you a part of something fun!

You can also do the GiveAway by providing coupons to people through Smashwords. Do the coupon instead of using your own money of gifting in Amazon, which, though you get some money back, you have to pay taxes on it. And, if you do use Amazon for gifting, use a limited credit card–i.e. gift credit card you can buy from a store. Do not use your personal credit card, to buy it. It helps manage things better, and keep the Credit people from thinking someone stole your credit card (one author posted) for buying items for people overseas. Offering ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) to readers is something you can do too. ARC is a proof of a book prior to full distribution. They are usually not the final copy of the novel and are uncorrected. It’s used for promotional purposes–NOT FOR MONEY. You don’t sale ARC books. But getting people to WANT your ARC is the same as trying to get a Book Review.

Then comes the bottom line about getting readers….

If none of this is working for you, then the last thing you need to do, the online “helpful” people state, is:

  • Make sure you have a polished book (grammar, edited, good cover etc.), and a well written one, because that might just be the problem

What if you’ve already did this (hired the editor, great cover book artist) and you know your book is professionally done and there’s still no one buying your books and there’s still no traffic coming to your blog and/or website?

How do you get those readers darnit!

Sooo…how do you do that?

You might be a bit disappointed of my answer because you wanted answers to that MAJOR question…but if you’ve looked everywhere like me, you’ll see that there isn’t one. You might feel jilted and bamboozled because you read this entire thing for an answer, and that’s exactly how I felt doing this research. THERE IS NOT AN ANSWER. That’s the bottom line. No answer. Nope. No answer. None. Zip. Zelch. Nada. Nothing. Nooooo.

And when I can’t find an answer, then I come up with my own. That’s what you do, and that’s how things happen. During this journey, I’ve come to the end and seen the answer; and though all the things that I’ve stated above sounds negative and pessimistic–and that’s only because none of it will guarantee ANYTHING–my answer on to how to market and get your book notice…?

DO IT ALL!



Do every thing that you can possibly do to be seen. DO EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!

My personal example…

In 2009, I didn’t sell a single book..the ENTIRE year.
In 2010, I didn’t sell but ONE book, and that was in December.
From December 2010 – February 2011 I was selling one (1) book a month on Kindle.
Then starting March 2011, there were four (4) books on Kindle.
In April, it went to three (3) books sold on Kindle.
In May 2011, there were three (3) books sold on Kindle.
In June 2011, there were six (6) books sold on Kindle.
In July 2011, there were seven (7) books sold on Kindle, along with my new book I just added this month, making four published books total.
In August 2011, there were 40 books sold on Kindle, because Irid, amazingly, went free. See my What The Heck! posting. I had lowered my pricing to $0.99 as well to encourage more buys. And at Diesel, through Smashwords, sold six (6) novels. I then raised the price again back to $2.99 before September.
In September 2011, there were about forty (40) books sold on Kindle..and the sales kept up a few weeks after my book stopped being free. (Any sales for Smashwords this month, I have to wait on reporting because they have to wait on the other stores to send them their report).
In October 2011, sales have trickled down to 19 on Kindle, so far this month.

It might sound like very small potatoes and numbers to you…but for me IT SOUNDS GREAT!! I don’t know where these readers came from or how I did it (I didn’t sell anything in 2009 or 2010–well, one book in 2010). It might be when I started giving my books for FREE on Smashwords (i.e. Nook as well), and going FREE on Amazon definitely helped. I have no idea. But, I highly suggest you do that, being a new author, make your book Free, because who can’t pass up a Free Book? And who wants to spend money, and take a wager, on someone they don’t know? Give your book away…for FREE. I know, you want to get paid for all that hard work and all that money that you put into this project, but to get money, you have to spend money/loose money…and build a fan base.

BETTER YET, think of this strategy as NOT HAVING TO PAY FOR ADVERTISEMENT. This is how Word-Of-Mouth helps you out. FREE is a marketing tool. You’ll reach a lot of people this way, and it will save you hours and hours of trying to market it yourself. It’s worth it. Also, just because it is Free doesn’t necessarily mean people would be interested in it–so, don’t be fooled. They might not like the description, or sample, and pass it up. OR, they just might like it enough to actually purchase one of your other books. If you don’t want to do the FREE thing, do the $0.99 thing. Call it a PULL (as Role Playing Gamers call it when positioning a Boss Monster for the kill). Pull your fans to you. Give to Receive. Provide service in order to be served. The yin and the yang. And with each hard step, or fun one, you will reach your goals.

I’ve reached my goal!

Yep, I sure did. These small potatoes of sells have MET MY GOAL! Yep. Yep. All I wanted was a few “strangers” to read my stories. That’s it. I didn’t have a number of “how many,” I just wanted someone to be interested.

And someone was…interested. YEAH! WHO-YAH!
Take that FATE! Take it! Take it!

Yeah! I’m EXCITED with a capital E.T. !

I’ve done the deed and met the goal without the “formula” to do it–because there is no formula.

JA Konrath

Chance. Luck. Randomness. We hate these things, because we want to be in control of our careers. We want to believe that working hard will make us winners.

That isn’t necessarily true. But working hard can improve your odds at success.

No one has a formula of what will be popular. If one Book was popular, someone could take another book, do the exactly same things for promoting it and it bombs. You don’t have to be popular or famous or already in the marketing to know this. Just look around at music and TV shows and movies. Ideas are started, and those who started the idea become shocked with the results when it becomes popular. Case in point: Married… with Children (TV show) and The Simpsons.

Then there’s shows that I really, really liked: Witches of Eastwick, Journey Man, John Doe, Stargate Universe, WitchBlade, The Dresden Files, TheBackYardigans…and they were all cancelled before I was ready for them to go. But shows like Smallville goes on for years (I like Smallville, but not as much as I liked those others I listed that were cancelled). And look at The Bee Movie. Great animation, great line-up of actors, but the story and so called “comedy” was horrible! And how about that famous photo V-J Day in Times Square. Who knew that a photo like that would last for lifetimes! And those other iconic photos: The Kent State Massacre and the Vietnam War, and Marilyn Monroe’s flying dress, and the raising of the U.S. Flag on Iwo Jima. So, you get what I’m saying. No one knows and no one has the golden key. So…

DO EVERYTHING!

DoEverything

And that’s what you have to do. Increase your Odds.

Increasing the amount of stories for consumption would help too.

WRITE MORE BOOKS

Yep. Increase your odds. Get working on those novels, short stories, novellas…. The more works out there, the more consumption, the more readers, and more of keeping it NEW.

And make a few of them FREE!

Aaannnndddd…lower your expectations. Yeah. lower them. Start with small goals and when you meet them, then start another. My goal?…To reach a few strangers who might like my book. DONE! My next goal? I wanted (Past Tense “wanted”) to see those FREE Books on Smashwords numbers continue to increase. I wanted them to keep going until they’ve reach 5,000–for one book, not a combination of them. That was my goal.

It didn’t happen.

What did happen was that I surpassed the 5,000 downloads goal when my book IRID went free on Amazon. Over 8,000 downloads!

Goal met!

My next goal? To keep my trickle of buys per week…UP. How to do that? I’m working on an idea and we’ll see if it works.

Back on topic on goals: Small accomplishing goals. Think Small. Any other way of thinking, you might as well be thinking of winning the lottery (see this blog on Publish your book or play the lottery?). So, really? You’re gonna win the lottery? That’s what is means to be as “successful like Stephen King, J. K. Rowling and Amanda Hocking” is all about. You have to change your mindset…and build gradually…and define your own success. But You CAN make a living, according to Dean Wesley Smith on his blog: You CAN Make Money Writing Fiction. All you need is dozens of books for your store instead of having a store and only selling ONE (1) item. Having a store with MULTIPLE things for purchase can help you make money.

Read: So You Want To Become A Bestselling Author–Here’s How (Part 1)

It might redirect your mental aim a bit and get you where you need to go. Because running after the Lottery would only smother your spirit. And you give up. You stop. And become bitter. Instead of concentrating on increasing your merchandises for purchase, you just stop.

So, continue to do it all. DO EVERYTHING. And after you’ve done everything, then there’s TIME. Yep, time. You have to wait. Let things build up. Just like webpages have to age to be accepted as legitimate sites, so does your name and book titles. You have to wait and wait and wait. And while you’re waiting, you’re writing; and while you’re writing, you’re blogging and socializing. DON’T SELL–SOCIALIZE! Do the things you love to do online and become social. The more you’re out there and become a part of many different communities, the more people get to learn about you and what you do. Then you wait some more, and get more novels out there, and wait some more, and communicate to the online communities, and wait some more. Some writers state it takes anywhere from 9 months to 2 years before your books starts getting noticed and bought.

I don’t mean to disappoint anyone, but that’s the Honest Answer….so don’t go paying for one, because it’s not out there.

You might say, “Well, you’re not successful! You’re not selling thousands of books!” To me, that’s the same thing as saying, “Well, you’re not a millionaire! So, you’re not successful!” And to both of those statements I’ll say, “Successful? Why, yes I am!” Because I met my goal. I have a house. I’m debt free (meaning, no credit cards and everything paid in cash); both cars paid off, student loan is history, a little savings, a daughter, a cat, and a wonderful husband who cooks my breakfast, lunch and dinner (I do the cleaning); and I can travel twice a year for vacations; and we’re not living from paycheck to paycheck. Now that’s successful in life for me. And it took years to build it–from elementary to college to temporary jobs to professional experience, to giving up cable, to saving and not spending on things that are not “needful”, and doing a lot of stuff myself (my hair, my lawn–though now we can afford someone else to do the lawn–ironing instead of dry cleaning, etc. etc.). This is the same as self-publishing.

My novels? I have a few strangers buying…and it’s slowly building. And I got a few more books that I’m working to release. I’ll let you know if I’m still not successful in a few years, and even then, I’ll tell you the same thing: “Why, yes I am!” Because I wrote my first book in 1997 (finished two years later) and didn’t decide to self-publish and do the “Do It Yourself” project and get it out there until 2008. I wrote books over the years, and today I can afford to pay an editor and a Cover Designer, when I couldn’t 12 years ago. And my book is being bought! Something that wasn’t happening several years ago.

You understand what I’m saying now? Remember your first job? I do. Mine was at Del Taco. Am I still working there? Heh. Heh. Not in your life. So that’s why I can honestly say, if you ask if I’m successful in a few years… my answer will still be: “Why, yes I am!”

Your goal is to be successful, and to do that, you have to make your own way and find and define your own answer, because it’s the uniqueness of things that are popular.

JUST DO IT! DO EVERYTHING!

And then let time take its course.

Until Next Time.

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