Should I Enroll My Book in Kindle Select?

 

EbookSometimes I worry about Amazon taking over the world. It’s not a good thing for any one company to have too much control over any kind of market, but you can’t argue with results. For the moment, Amazon pretty much rules the world of self-publishing.

I published my first book, QUEEN HENRY, on Amazon Kindle, Createspace (Amazon’s paperback book service), Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The book sold far more copies with Amazon than the other venues by a wide margin. I found Smashwords difficult to use and their customer “support” snarky and rude. I don’t plan on ever using them again. Barnes and Noble (Nook Press) was easy to use and their customer support was first rate, but I didn’t sell many copies. (Two. I sold two, so it wasn’t worth the thirty dollars I spent on the special formatting).

I sold a fair amount of paperbacks through Amazon Createspace – more than I expected – and I have been asked to give several talks about my book and have sold some books in person that way. Overall, I’ve sold the most books – by far – on Amazon Kindle. That’s why I decided to publish my upcoming book via Kindle Direct (different than Kindle Select) Publishing, meaning Amazon has the exclusive rights to the book for a set period of time. You can always remove your book from the Direct program after that time period and publish it anywhere you like, so it seems to be worth a try.

Publishing with Kindle Direct means the following:

  • You may only sell the digital version of your book through Amazon during the period of exclusivity. You can’t sell your eBook anywhere else, including on your own website.
  • Your book is automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited – the program where subscribers can read as many books as they like by paying a monthly fee. It is possible you will lose some money on this deal, though it can increase your exposure.
  • Your book is automatically enrolled in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where users may be able to borrow your book. See earlier comment about money and exposure.
  • You will be permitted to give your book away for free for up to five days during each 90-day period of enrollment. You can do one day at a time, all five at once, or anything in between.

After having QUEEN HENRY available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords for about six months or so, I yanked it from those outlets and enrolled the book in Kindle Direct to see what would happen. The first month or so, two people downloaded the book under the Kindle Lending Library program. As I see it, that’s two more people I’ve reached that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

I then tried the free giveaway thing for two days. I got 200 downloads and reached as high as #9 in Free Kindle Gay Fiction, which was pretty cool. As a self-publisher, especially a relatively new one, I’m concerned as much with reaching new readers as I am with making money. Therefore, I consider 200 downloads in two days a great success. However, be advised that the free downloads have little to no effect on your paid sales ranking with Amazon. They used to, but the algorithms have changed.

An important caveat – if you’ve had success on B & N, Smashwords, and so forth, and plan on pulling your book in order to try Kindle Direct, you will lose your rankings on those sites. If you decide to put your books back later, you’ll have to start over from scratch. If possible, it may be best to try Kindle Direct first, then you can add the other sites when you’ve done the exclusive Amazon run.

Whatever you choose, remember that it’s only a 90-day commitment, not a billion-year contract. The worst case scenario is that it doesn’t work well for you, and you simply move on to other avenues when the time is up.

Keep in mind that you don’t ever want to rely exclusively on any third party venue, whether it be a distributor like Amazon or a social media outlet like Twitter. If you haven’t already, launch your own email list where you can always keep in touch with the most important people in your writing life – your readers.

As with all self-publishing advice, (which can be overwhelming), there’s no one right way to do anything. If you’re interested in Kindle Direct, or any other business strategy for that matter, weigh the consequences and make an educated decision about what to do.

Try stuff.

Make mistakes.

Learn.

Do it again.

Happy Publishing!

– Linda Fausnet

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Can You Pursue Traditional Publishing AND Self-Publishing?

 

Novelists

The short answer is, “Sure, why the hell not?”

There are a number of pros and cons for each type of publishing, and there really is no right or wrong choice. You just have to determine what your goals are and what works for you. Do you crave the prestige and validation that comes from traditional publishing? Is it important to you that you see your book on library and bookstore shelves?  Do you have a niche type of book that might not have huge audience appeal, thus is better suited to self-publishing? Do you just want the freedom to write whatever you damn well please without “the man” telling you what to do?

If you’re at all interested in getting traditionally published, I would advise trying that route first before publishing your work yourself. The alternative is to publish your book yourself and hope your sales are impressive enough to get the attention of an agent or publisher. Then again, if your self-published sales are unusually high, are you sure that you want to fork over a large percentage of your royalties to third parties? If your self-published book takes off, you might find yourself less interested in a traditional deal after all.

Overall, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to self-publish, then query. An agent will represent you based on how well she thinks your book will sell in the future. If you’ve already self-published and sales are less than spectacular, that doesn’t look too great to agents. Also, it’s usually recommended that you don’t mention the fact that you’re self-published in a query letter to an agent or publisher, unless your sales are really off the charts.

If you’re interested in getting traditionally published, then write a kickass query and send it out to all the literary agents who are open to new submissions and who are interested in your book genre. Then, if everybody turns your book down, you can still go on and self-publish it. If it turns into a runaway bestseller and an agent or publisher comes knocking, great!

I can certainly understand the lure of traditional publishing. Believe me, I was in the “Never shall I self-publish, evah!” camp for a long time. It was a lot of wasted time, if you ask my opinion about it now. The fact is that getting traditionally published really is a crapshoot, a lottery. Luck seems to matter as much as hard work and talent. You have the catch the right agent at the right time on the right day. It’s all incredibly subjective, and agents have to turn down an awful lot of good books.

Remember that when you start the querying process.

If you’re getting a lot of rejections, you’re in good company and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of your writing. If you’re not getting *any* responses, form letters or otherwise, check your query and make sure it is professional and error-free. Also be sure to carefully follow the agent’s submission guidelines. Don’t waste their time  – and yours – querying with your horror book if they’re looking for romance (books, that is…).

Thus far, I’ve self-published one book and I have two others that are ready to be self-published in the near future. All three of these books had been turned down by the traditional world. I’m currently writing a paranormal romance, and I’ve been debating whether or not to try the traditional route at all. I’m really loving the freedom that self-publishing has provided. I’m not a runaway success, but I do have readers, which is more than I ever got from the query-rejection-query-again route. It takes time to build up a readership, and I’m more than willing to do that work over the long haul.

I’m at the point where I’m writing books much faster than I can afford to publish them. Finances are really bad at the moment, and that’s primarily the reason that I’ve only published one book so far. For that first book, I’m donating all the proceeds to the Harvey Milk Foundation, so there’s no income there to help pay for editing, formatting, and so forth for the next book.

So, with my current novel, I’ve decided to send out some queries just for something to do while I scrape together the cash to publish it, while somehow keeping the lights on and food on the table. It would be funny if, this time around, I actually got an agent when I’m at the point where I don’t care as much.

Believe me, there’s something to be said for not caring. I’m sure the rejections will still hurt, but for the first time in my life, they aren’t the end of the road. I used to query extensively, get rejected, then sadly shelve my book and then go write another one.

Not anymore.

If everybody says, no, fine. I’ll publish the book myself, and it will be exciting and wonderful. I don’t have to say goodbye to my characters anymore. The best part about the way publishing is nowadays, agents and publishers no longer have the final word.

You don’t have to take NO as the final answer anymore.

I sure as hell don’t.

  • Linda Fausnet

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How to Organize a Blog Tour for Your Self-Published Work

Today, Wannabe Pride welcomes Guest Blogger, Kendall  Bailey!

I Am A Writer

Blog tours are a common way for self-published authors to get word out about their work to a broader audience. There are people you can pay to organize a blog tour for you. If you go this route, instead of organizing your own, make sure you use someone reputable. Anyone can call themselves an expert or a professional, so ask for a couple of references.

I organized my blog tour on my own. This post is geared toward the other do-it-yourselfers out there.

The Process

Find 8-10 bloggers, more if you want to do a longer tour, fewer if you want a short tour.

Each of these bloggers will construct a post about whatever you are promoting, I’m going to use the example of a novel. The post may be an excerpt, a review, and interview with you, a character interview (you answer questions as a character from your novel), an original piece by the blogger, pretty much whatever you can conjure up.

Most blog tours have one stop per day for however long you want the tour to be. A blog tour stop is what we call the post the blogger does about you. When I did my blog tour, I spaced the stops every other day. I did this for two reasons. One, I only had 5 stops and wanted to drag it out a little. Plus, I could give each blog I stopped at two days of promotion instead of just one. Two, I started the blog tour the day the Iditarod started (The story I was promoting was called Sled Dogs) and was hoping the race would end the same day as my blog tour. It didn’t.

That’s it. Blog tours are a simple thing… to an observer.

What You Need To Know 

Choose the bloggers you work with carefully. Ideally, you want a blogger who is into promoting their site. Some write a post, publish it on the blog, and expect people to come to them. Unless you’re seriously famous, that isn’t going to happen. You need to go out and get the readers to come to your blog. I schedule multiple tweets for my blog almost every day. I also put new posts on Facebook. Full disclosure, I’ve neglected my Facebook page in recent months and my numbers show it.

Speaking of numbers, I don’t think it’s rude to ask the bloggers you plan to work with how many hits their blog usually gets on a day when a new post is published. When I am not being lazy, Uncommon Sense pulls around 200 hits each time I publish something new. Keep in mind that a “hit” could be something as simple as a person who refreshed their web browser while looking at the page. (That would actually be 2 hits. 1 when they first navigated to the page and another when they refreshed.) I have had a lot of trouble finding what a normal number of daily hits is for the average blog. If you know where or how to find that information, please let me know!

Get creative with the timing of your tour. I did my blog tour for Sled Dogs during the Iditarod because the two were clearly related. Have you written a supernatural novel? Start or end the blog tour on the next full moon. And make sure people know this was intentional! I think most people enjoy little fun facts like those.

Get creative with the posts you ask the other bloggers do for you. I am lucky to know some very creative and accommodating people. For my five-stop tour I received an excerpt with a piece about strong female lead characters, an original piece by Linda Fausnet from Wannabe Pride about using short fiction as a form of promotion, an interview, a video review, and a short story inspired by Sled Dogs.

And that’s blog tours!

– Kendall Bailey

Sled Dogs on Amazon:

 Blog:

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Four Things I Never Thought Would Happen When I Self-Published My Book

It’s been almost nine months since I self-published my debut novel, QUEEN HENRY. The last few months have truly been a dream come true. Thus far, the whole experience has surpassed my expectations, which I purposely kept on the low side…just in case.

I had spent twenty years as a writer, both as a wannabe screenwriter and novelist. I’ve had close brushes with success and a whole lot of rejection. Just the idea of having my work FINALLY out there was absolutely thrilling. The notion that just ONE person, ONE reader would finally crack open my book and experience my story was an amazing thought. It’s never been about the money for me (good thing..) or fame or anything like that. I would honestly rather have people remember my characters’ names than mine.

The experience of self-publishing has been full of surprises, that’s for sure.

What I DID expect to happen, has. People have actually read the book. After years of bouncing around the traditional publishing world and all its disappointments, it’s still a strange and wonderful feeling to know that I actually have readers. Not a huge number thus far, but people who have actually read and experienced my characters, my story, my world that has been kept hidden for far too long.

Several things have happened that I never expected.

1. I Sold More Books Than I Expected – Again, I kept my expectations low. I figured I’d be happy if I sold 50 books in the first year, and that includes my friends and family members. After so many years of rejection, just having a handful of people I didn’t know read the book would have been rewarding enough. I’ve heard that the average self-published book sells about 100-150 books in all. Thus far, I’ve sold 153 books in nine months. Hardly a runaway bestseller, but far better than I’d hoped for!

2. I’ve Gotten Great Reviews – I fully expected to get some bad reviews. Again, I’m no stranger to rejection and I know bad reviews are part of the life of a writer. I haven’t really gotten any bad reviews (so far!) and I’m amazed at how many good ones I’ve gotten. My biggest fear was that my first review would be a bad one, thus souring a lot of the excitement of achieving my lifelong dream of publishing a book. I was stunned when the first review I got was a five-star one – from someone I did not know! I’ve gotten several great reviews from online book bloggers and got a front-page rave review from a Baltimore LGBT Newspaper.

3. I’ve Given a Talk About My Book – Since my book centered on LGBT equality (with all the proceeds being donated to the Harvey Milk Foundation), I was invited by a local PFLAG chapter (a group of LGBT Allies) to give a talk about my book. I spoke to a group of several dozen people, some of whom had already read my book, about the story and how it came to be self-published. I also got to read excerpts from the story. It was such an incredible feeling to be able to read parts of my story and some of the characters’ dialogue out loud. People laughed when they were supposed to, which was immensely gratifying. Someone asked me a specific question about the story, and I told her that in order to answer the question, I would have to reveal the ending. I asked the group if I should do that and the ones who had already read the book yelled out “No! No! Don’t give it away”. That means they cared. They cared about the characters and were engaged enough by the story that they didn’t want to ruin it for other people. After the talk, I spoke individually with some members of the audience, many of whom who bought the book and had me sign it. That was a surreal experience, to say the least.

4. My Book Is in the Library – I submitted my book to my local library, promising myself that I wouldn’t be too disappointed when they turned  it down. There are now two copies of the book on the shelf in the New Adult Fiction section. Seeing those books, complete with the official library barcode on the back, is an experience I never thought I would have and I’ll never forget.

QHLibraryQUEEN HENRY has always been my favorite story, and to see it be successful, even on a relatively small scale, has been an extraordinary experience. I’m getting ready to publish another book soon, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Whatever happens, it will be enough just to have people open my book and read my story.

Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

– Linda Fausnet

 

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Self-Publishing Short Stories

One of the biggest challenges for self-publishers is simply getting their name out there. Many new readers are hesitant to take a chance on a new writer – even if it only costs them $2.99. Many writers opt to give away their first novel for free, either for a limited time or they may even make it perma-free, meaning it’s always free. Many writers go the perma-free route when they’ve written a trilogy. Like a drug dealer, the first hit’s free. The next one’s gonna cost ya…

Another option is to test the waters with a short story. Again, it can either be a free giveaway or it can be priced at .99 or so. Readers may be more willing to part with a smaller amount of both their time and money – a short story and a measly dollar – to give a new writer a shot. If they like what they see, they just might get hooked.

Kendall Bailey is one such writer giving the 99 cent short story deal a try, and Wannabe Pride recommends you check out his story – SLED DOGS.

Alia’s summer fun turns to fear when her dad’s dog sled team escapes the kennel. Fear becomes terror when the dogs return. Sled Dogs is a gory romp through the wet, southern Alaskan wilderness.

Sled Dogs 2

Author Kendall Bailey:

I wrote Sled Dogs a few years ago. It was the first story I finished that didn’t end up being a disappointment. It sat on my computer, unpublished, until I realized something—but to tell you that story I need to tell you another one:

When I published my first novel, The Bad, I made more mistakes than I can possibly relate here (some of which I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet). I have another novel due to come out late this spring and I am changing my approach to publishing and promotion.

This time I am going to get it right. I’ve created my own Media company – a sole proprietorship containing my name so I don’t have to pay to file as a DBA. I am changing from Lulu.com to Createspace and KDP, the novel will be available exclusively through Amazon. There are many other things I’ve changed but those are the two biggest. Sled Dogs is the dry-run before I get down to serious business. That being said, it’s a solid story and I’m glad it has seen the light of day.

Sled Dogs is a campy horror story. It is an 80’s horror flick put into prose. I wrote it with the intent of creating a guilty pleasure for people, like me, who enjoy a little blood and guts sometimes.

I hope you enjoy it!

Sled Dogs on Amazon:

 Blog:

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Wannabe Pride’s DON’T DESPAIR Self-Publishing Advice for Actual Human Beings

 

Rich

Have you ever read a parenting book by a so-called expert and you think to yourself – there’s no way this person actually has kids? Sometimes the advice is so unrealistic you want to throw the book down in disgust.

I find myself feeling that way about certain advice for self-published writers.

Look. Self-published writers are real people. We are real people with real jobs, real families, and we often have really limited budgets. Every day when I turn on the news I’m reminded that I am far from alone in feeling this economic crunch, and even talking to non-writer friends I’m reminded that we all feel time pressure when it comes to taking care of our families.

Let’s do a little reality check on some of the conventional advice that’s offered to self-published writers.

THE BEST WAY TO SUCCEED IS TO WRITE AT LEAST 2-3 BOOKS A YEAR.

Reality check – Unless your last name is Gates, Kardashian, or you are otherwise anonymously yet fabulously wealthy, you’re likely working a 40-hour-workweek. Throw in a bad commute and your writing hands are tied up for most of your day – and most of your life. Maybe you don’t get a chance to write every day because you’re just plain exhausted from working so much and you really beat yourself up about it.

Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip– You’re not a terrible person if you can’t write every day. Making enough money to put food on the table and a roof over your head is essential. Like it or not, that must come first. It’s only natural that, after working all day, it can be hard to squeeze in enough time to work on your dream. Keep in mind – that, too, is essential. It’s essential for your peace of mind to carve out any time, no matter how small, to keep your dream alive and to stave off the soul-suckingness of having to work so hard to make somebody else rich. Even if it’s 20 minutes, grab that time. You’ll feel so much better if you get something – ANYTHING – accomplished. It’s not a damn race. Focus on one book, one chapter, one sentence at a time. Eventually, there will be a book – YOUR book – where there were once blank pages.

PUBLISH AS MANY BOOKS AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN

Reality check- Have you become independently wealthy since you read the first tip? I didn’t think so. It costs MONEY to publish books, even eBooks. You have to scrape together the money for an editor, a cover artist, a formatter, and so forth. Personally, I find it endlessly frustrating – heartbreaking, really – to toil for months to finally complete a book, only to have to wait many months more because I simply do not have the money to publish it. Times are very, very tough right now. The reality is, my work ethic is much more robust than my bank account.

Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip– It is true that the faster you publish multiple books, the faster a success you may become. But life just doesn’t always work that way. You may not be able to publish a whole pile of books quickly, even if they’re already written. It’s hard to be patient, but do try. And however tempting it may be, DON’T cut corners. You really do need to pay an editor and make sure you have a good, quality book cover. Otherwise, you’ll look like an amateur. You’ve worked far too hard for far too long to let that happen. You’ll get there eventually, and it will mean so much more because you did it the right way.

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Reality Check- Like so many things in the self-publishing world, this is easier said than done. It is extremely difficult for a self-published author to break through, particularly when they only have one book out there in circulation. Promotion can include book bloggers (free) and advertising (still not independently wealthy here). There can be a high rejection rate for submissions to book bloggers due to the volume of requests they receive. Even if your book is accepted and reviewed, it’s debatable about how much good it will do you. Thus far, I’ve had three book bloggers give my book pretty good reviews, but it’s really had very little, if any, impact on my book sales. You can even get rejected for paid advertising! BookBub can be a wonderful resource with their paid email blasts which are sent directly to readers, but they accept only 20% of books submitted to them. So far, mine are not among them….

Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip – Nobody can ever really predict which books will really take off and which ones won’t sell well. That goes for highly-publicized, traditionally-published books, too, so don’t despair if you really can’t get any high-profile publicity for your book.  Free publicity, including smaller book bloggers, reader reviews, and social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+) all slowly but surely contribute to getting the word out about your work. Once again I say, it’s not a race. Just because it takes a long time to gather momentum and readers for your book doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen.

My best most heartfelt advice to other writers and to repeat to myself is DON’T GIVE UP. You can do it. I can do it. It’s hard to spend your days toiling for somebody else and it hurts when your bank account can’t keep up with all your hard work, heart, and perseverance. But you can and you will find a way to make it all work if being a writer is truly what you want.

Hang in there.

Find some way – ANY way – that works for you. As long as it results in you finishing that damn book and then sharing it with the world.

DO IT, and then be proud of the fact that it didn’t come easy, but you did it anyway.

–          Linda Fausnet

 

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Prose – An Innovative New Platform for Indie Writers

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger Henry Augustine!

Henry oversees business operations for Prose. His dream of becoming a professional writer ignited in the fourth grade, and eventually led him to getting published by Integral World in August 2009 (Integral Philosophy) and by Integral Publishing House in January 2014 (The Coming Waves, “The Biggest Taboo”) – as well as to co-founding Myrtle Street Publishing and Prose as a means to transform the publishing industry.

“Prose” is an online reading and writing platform on a mission to inspire and empower writers globally and level the publishing industry playfield. The key to fulfilling this mission is technology. Prose’s technology aims to redefine the experience of literature for readers and writers spanning all skills, genres, and locations.

In particular, the technology emphasizes three primary elements:

1) Simplicity, 2) Community, and 3) Entertainment.

The platform is simple so that creating/discovering writing is intuitive and efficient. The platform is social in that the interaction experience feels like a small, real community. It’s entertaining in particular through its “Challenges” feature, enabling users to create writing challenges, invite fans and friends to participate, and interact in whole new ways.

While as a platform, Prose enables new forms of author-audience interaction, as a cause, it is in the process of joining forces with as many publishers, authors, and readers as possible. The vision is an ecosystem of literary distributors spanning all shapes and sizes from around the world – blogs, indie publishers, magazines, established publishers – connected with a diverse, abundant pool of fresh literary talent spanning all shapes and sizes from around the world.

Prose, as a technology platform, will integrate this ecosystem of distributors with its pool of talent as a means to minimize the global publishing industry gap between literary talent and demand on one end and literary distribution on the other.

The ultimate problem that Prose is attempting to solve is there being significantly more literary potential, literary talent, and literary demand than there currently is literary distribution. Prose will also connect readers with the writing and writers matching their unique literary taste, almost like a “Pandora for Writing.”

In short, the vision driving Prose is a win-win-win – a win for authors and literary talent, a win for readers and literary demand, and a win for publishers and literary distribution.

The Prose iTunes app launched September 2014 and the web app, for non-iPhone users and desktop use, launched in December.

You can experience Prose at https://theprose.com.

You can download the mobile app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prose./id911216930?mt=8

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On Doing Writerly Research : Ancient Greece

 Today Wannabe Pride welcomes author Kayla Jameth!

Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio. An unrepentant tomboy, she baled hay and raised cattle, and her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school. She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her far away from her rural roots. But it wasn’t all hard work for her, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title “Sir” and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies. After declaring for years that she was not an author, Kayla now finds herself writing m/m erotic romance outside of Houston, Texas. While you can take the girl out of the country, you can’t turn her into a city slicker. Kayla would still rather be outside getting down and dirty with the boys. She shares a full house with her favorite animals: a cat, two guinea pigs, a gerbil, three guppies, as well as her husband, son, and daughter.

Probably the single most common question I’m asked is: What made you write about ancient Greece? In college, I minored in Classical History, but my love of the ancient goes back even further than that. As a child, I enjoyed the sermons about the historical figures in the Bible and this translated into an interest in the civilizations of the past. The more mysterious the better.

I am probably one of the few people who have owned a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology since their early teens. I read about Paris and the beauty contest between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, and counted him a fool for his choice. Athena made the best offer to my way of thinking. 

Judgment of Paris

I didn’t limit myself to the Greco-Roman myths. Egyptian and Norse epics were fair game as well. And more recently, Babylonian tales have made their appearance. There was something magical in listening to my professor read the Iliad in the language it was written, his voice ringing with the power of the words.

I also still love fairy tales, which are more or less an extension of the tradition of mythic tales. Because of this, I have a pretty firm base on which to build my world. My Apollo’s Men series takes place in the world that the ancient Greeks believed they lived in. A world
not unlike the epic tales that Homer spoke of, filled with deities and daemons (any of the lesser beings,NOT demons).

Blackbird

In researching the details that bring my world to life, Google is my friend. I often start with Wikipedia for basic details and to find other terms to explore. Google books will give you a look inside many scholarly works. Plus excerpts or even the full text of scholarly journal articles can be accessed through several sites.

There are numerous ancient Greek and Spartan reenactment societies that are also great resources. Anything from how to make your own authentic gear to what to expect an ancient Greek to own. And more importantly, what he wouldn’t have. I also use an online etymology site to see if a word is suitably ancient or can trace its roots back to a Greek word before I use it in the document. There are days when I wish I could use any word I wanted, but I can’t use things like “piece de resistance”. And just try to come up with the equivalent to “shit” and “damn” etc. without using the same old tired “By Zeus!” It’s especially frustrating as the Greeks would have actually said the Greek word for some of it, but the readers act like cussing is a modern construct. There’s nothing new under the sun. Some of the contemporaneous comedies were especially vulgar: lots of potty humor and scandalous discussions of sex in the crassest words imaginable.

Unfortunately, I can’t always find a source for certain details. Some things were just too commonplace for any of the ancient authors to waste time on. Even archeology sometimes lets me down. If I can’t find proof of something, I either find a way around it or go with what was common in that time and general locale.

Sparta has been a particular challenge, as the city-state often refused to conform with the other Greek poleis. In addition, the Spartans were laconic by definition and only committed to writing the really important stuff, leaving everything else unsaid. This is further complicated by all the bad press Sparta received from the city-states that were in conflict with her, especially the Athenians who were very vocal.

So writing about that era has been a challenge, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

The Apollo’s Men series:

Body Language(free download on Smashwords)

Body Language

Alexios’ Fate

Alexos Fate

496 BC (in the Lust in Time anthology)

Lust

 

A Spartan Love

A Spartan Love

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Writer Seeks Beta Reader for a Long-Term Relationship

sandwichI’m looking for a compatible beta reader for a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship. My ideal beta reader, in addition to enjoying long walks on the beach, should be someone who is:

  1. Honest. I really do want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to your critique. Will you tell me what works? What doesn’t? Are my characters well-developed? Do they have unique voices or do they all sound the same? Does the plot make sense or is it too far-fetched? Grammatical corrections are welcomed, but not critical. At this beta stage, I’m more focused on the story as a whole.

  2. Respectful and Kind. Instead of saying “Oh my God, you’ve already said this so many times I wanted to put an ice pick through my forehead,” a simple “you’ve already mentioned this a few times” or just “repetitive” will do nicely.

  3. Serious about the craft. Ideally, you’ve already written a few novels or at least have a fairly regular writing schedule. There are a lot of people who want to be writers, but kind of crap out when the going gets tough.

  4. A fan of romance novels, as well as chick lit and other more light-hearted works. If you tend to write serious, hard-hitting literature, you probably won’t be a good fit to critique my writing. I also write lots of LGBT characters, so if you’re prejudiced in any way, you can hit the road.

  5. Able to stick to a reasonable turnaround time. I tend to seek critiques once I’ve finished the first full draft of a novel, rather than a few chapters at a time. I figure a month to read the full novel is fairly reasonable.

In return, I can offer, free to a good home, a critique partner who:

6.  Is all of the above things, and really wants to help other writers succeed.

If you’re interested, please contact me at lindafausnet@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

How to Create Your Social Marketing Strategy (for writers)

Chris Weber“Marketing is so haaaard.” is the collective whine of so many grown-ups that have chosen the unfortunate career of author.

Here’s the deal, people. You’re thinking about it all wrong. Marketing isn’t something you do to sell your book. It’s not a pain in the butt that takes away from your writing time. Marketing is writing, and you’re a writer.

It’s an opportunity to practice your craft, just in a different format. As Hemingway said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” If you’re marketing is failing, chances are you’re not bleeding quite enough outside the pages of your book.

So here’s the deal. Stop “marketing your book” and start connecting with your readers. Write non-book content that people will enjoy reading. Do a podcast or video posts that invite new and old readers alike into your world. True fans are the ones who like you and your outlook on the world. It’s great to sell books in a blitz, but not at the expense of true audience building.

Case in point: John Green didn’t grow his fan base by posting on Twitter that his book was for sale. He did it by keeping a video blog with his brother for years. It was something he clearly loved doing, and a lot of other people loved it too. The videos weren’t promotional material, but he sold a whole lot of books because of them.

So let’s talk nuts and bolts on how to get that strategy in order. This is where a little bit of time being business-y goes a long way. So make a few decisions, make a list or two, and stick to them. The categories outlined below should get you started:

How often:

Decide how often you’re going to post and write it down. This is a schedule for every single day, all year, not just the day before your book comes out. Remember, don’t market your book, connect with your readers.

A good basic schedule is:

  • 5 short posts on social media every day
  • 1 blog post a week
  • 1 toss-up (this can be a video, a guest post, a short story, a piece of fan fiction…whatever your heart desires)

Social: give it 30-45 minutes a day. Post 1 or 2 things of your own, and use the other 3 posts to share things from your community.

Blog: One post a week can do wonders for your sales. It keeps you top-of-mind with your readers, and gives you something to talk about on your social networks.

A note on blogging: A blog to help your book sales needs to be focused on your readers, not other authors, so while it’s great to share tips and personal writing experiences, make sure that you’re also writing about the things that you personally love, and that you write about. At AuthorRise, we call this “complimentary content.” If you’re a romance novelist, this could look like writing about your views on modern romance, love, etc. If you’re a non-fiction writer, it’s even easier, just share your research and process. Simple!

Toss-up: Treat it like a blog post, do something once a week or once every other week. This is your chance to explore new mediums, help out fellow authors, and take risks with your writing that you wouldn’t take in a book.

What channels

Which channels you use will depend on your experience, your subject matter, and your personality. The important thing is to make a conscious decision and stick to it. So, what’s your combination?

Ideally, you’re working with a subset of:

  • social media
  • personal website
  • podcasting
  • video,
  • in-person work

If you’re just getting started, pick two: a few social media outlets, and your blog. Why do you need to pick your channels and stick to them? Because if you’re jumping from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest every week, or giving up on something too quickly, chances are you didn’t give it enough time to learn the ropes, grow your audience, and evaluate your progress. Before you switch from podcasting to Youtube videos, give it at least six months of focused effort.

Picking your content categories

This is a big one, and a tough one. If you want to create great non-book writing, you need to pick a few things that you’re going to write about. These are 3-5 big topics that form the foundation of all of your marketing. It’s important enough that if you can, write them down really big on a piece of paper, and put it up by your desk.

So what’s a content category? It’s a deep well of content that resonates with you personally, is appealing to your readers, and is something you can keep coming back to rather than having to decide every day “what am I going to write about?”

An example will help here: Say you write historical adventure novels. Your categories might be:

  • Interesting tidbits and facts picked up in research
  • True stories of real-life adventurers
  • Profiles of modern-day adventurers

These three categories alone should provide enough material for at least a year of blogging, and most importantly, are just the kind of thing that readers love when they need something quick to read.

Tracking

Finally we come to tracking. This one’s the most business-y of them all, but it’s also one of the most important. Set a few simple goals for yourself, and then keep track of how well you’re meeting them. If you don’t honestly measure your performance, how can you hope to improve?

Three basic goals that we always encourage with our members at AuthorRise are “posts per day,” “audience growth per week,” and “reader engagement.” (reader engagement is a measure of how many of your posts your readers are re-sharing or commenting on)

These three basic stats are easy to track and help you stay committed to doing a little bit every day rather than a big push at the last moment. And if you’re looking for a place to track all of that in one place, I can’t help but shamelessly plug my company AuthorRise!

Rinse and Repeat

Phew! We covered a lot of ground in a little space here, but the overall message is a simple one. Putting together a strategy for how you’ll grow takes a little bit of work, but doing the work to meet those goals every day adds up, just like your back-catalog. So keep at it, think long-term, and get busy!

Chris Weber, CEO, AuthorRise

chris@authorrise.com

authorRise