What To Do When You Get a One-Star Book Review

 

sadCam

It’s really up to YOU what you do when you get a one-star review, but I can tell you what I did.

I announced it on Facebook and Twitter – “Just received my first one-star review on Amazon. I have ARRIVED!”

I really try to make it a habit to tell the truth about my experiences, both on my personal Facebook page and on my writing-related social networks. Yes, I will surely post online if I get a great review from a book blogger or if by some miracle I ever become a bestselling author, but I also make it a point to be totally upfront about my shortcomings. I think this is helpful for other writers to know that they’re not alone.

Getting a one-star review is simply a fact of life for writers. Since the day I published my first book on July 9, 2014, I knew that it was inevitable that I would get some bad reviews. I knew that, eventually, somebody was going to hate my book and have no qualms in telling me about it. My biggest fear was that the first review I received would be negative. That fear was unfounded, thank goodness. The first review I EVER got was a five-star review from someone I did not know. Believe me; I’m still excited about that.

Readers sometimes give one-star reviews for no good reason. If the book was well written, but simply not a reader’s cup of tea, he may blame you for it. She may one-star it if there’s too much violence in your book or not enough, or if she’s offended because you used a naughty word or two. Sometimes he just did not like your book, and that’s okay. Not everyone will. You might totally disagree with the reader, or you might even think the she has a point. If the reader is upset because there are typos and grammatical errors in your work, then you’ve got a problem that you really need to address if you’re hoping to succeed as a professional writer.

Some writers don’t read their reviews, and that’s fine. Personally, I do read mine because I think it helps to know what my readers like and what they don’t. Great reviews are wonderful, but critical ones can actually help you improve your writing.

The book in question here, QUEEN HENRY, has a somewhat controversial ending. Although the book does contain a male/male relationship, I never said the book was a gay romance novel. It’s not – rather it’s LGBT Fiction. (SPOILER ALERT) The book has a somewhat bittersweet ending, as the lovers do not end up together due to circumstances beyond their control. I can completely understand that a reader might be disappointed if they read this book thinking it’s a romance. A reviewer for Baltimore OUTLoud (an LGBT newspaper) gave the book a terrific, front-page review. I met the reviewer, Steve Charing, in person and he told me that he had initially been disappointed in the ending, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that was how the book needed to end.

Madam One-Star Reviewer was ANGRY about the ending. Her review was entitled OMG I AM SO UNBELIEVABLY ANGRY RIGHT NOW! I FEEL LIKE I WAS ROBBED OF MY PRECIOUS TIME AND ENERGY! She even said “I plan to diligently avoid this writer from now on.” (I’m pretty sure she got the book as a free download, so I’m not exactly crying in my beer over that loss….)

Sure, it made me a little sad to get a one-star review, but I really wasn’t too upset about it. I understand why she feels the way she does. She called the book a gay romance novel (again, it’s not, and was never marketed as such). She was not the only one who was sad about the ending, but the vast majority of readers understood the point of it. The story is about a homophobic guy who takes a strange pill and becomes temporarily gay. He falls in love with a man and learns an important lesson in the process, but then the effects of the drug wear off. He and his boyfriend still love each other, but are no longer lovers (Reviewer said just because he’s not gay doesn’t mean they can’t stay together. While this is true, that’s not what my character chose to do. )His boyfriend ends up happy with another man and Henry later has a girlfriend, so it’s not a horribly depressing ending. Some readers were disappointed that Henry turned out to be straight after all. However, I didn’t want to tell the story of a man who was struggling with his sexuality and realizes he’s gay. I wanted to tell the story of a straight, homophobic guy and who becomes temporarily gay so he could undergo a life-changing experience.

The thing is – this one-star reviewer CARED. She cared for Henry and Thomas, and was mad that they broke up. She even claimed to like most of the book until the end when she threw a tantrum and posted her opinion online. It’s nice to know that my book emotionally resonated; that’s better than indifference.

It can actually be a good thing to get a one-star review. First of all, people know that at least some of your reviews are real and aren’t just from people you know. I can’t help but be curious about one-star reviews, and I tend to click on them to see what the reviewer hated about a book that I’m thinking of reading. If a one-star reviewer rants that there’s bad language and too much sex in the book, that’s not going to be a deterrent to me. In fact, it just might make me hit that one-click purchase button!

Whatever the reason, when you get a one-star review (and you will) know you are in good company. Look at any author, even bestselling ones. They ALL have some bad reviews.

When you get a bad review, take a few minutes to think about it. Do you agree with what was said? If not, move on. If you think the reviewer has a point, think about what you might do differently in your next book.

Whatever you do, don’t lose any sleep over it. I know I didn’t.

 

Linda Fausnet

 

 

My Adventures with Learning How to Use Scrivener

Tech Support

Well, I took a few hours to take the Scrivener tutorial and I have this to say about it:

I didn’t cry once.

If you know me personally, you understand why this is a big deal. Six Tips for Writers for Dealing with Icky Technological Stuff 

I am terrible with anything technological, but I’m trying really hard to embrace it. It’s important for any writer who is serious about the business aspect of writing not to shy away from the tough stuff. Like a lot of writers, I’m an airy-fairy creative type, and I find technological stuff quite intimidating. I am generally a patient person, but I freely admit that when I’m learning something techy and complicated, I well, I absolutely lose my shit. However, I know in the long run, technology can often save a significant amount of time. As you know, time is invaluable to a writer.

So! I was fortunate enough to have some down time between when one day job ended and another one began, so I decided to take some time to learn Scrivener. If case you don’t know, Scrivener is a drafting program designed to help writers organize their material as they write. It works for novelists, screenwriters, thesis-writers, and pretty much any other kind of writing that requires research and organization. It’s surprisingly affordable, it’s only about forty bucks and it’s available for both Mac and PCs. Check out Scrivener.

I spent several hours going through the tutorial, and I found it amazingly easy to use. I loved that it was a written manual, not a video one, so it was easy to start at stop at my leisure. I felt my brain getting kind of full at around the 45 minute to one hour mark, so I was able to stop when I felt like I needed a break. The manual is clear and explains things in an easy, step-by-step method. If you give yourself a little time to learn it, you’ll be a master in no time. I am now using Scrivener for both my blogging and my novel writing and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.

Briefly, here’s what it can do for you:

– You can keep all your research for your project all in one place. Your files are all kept in a Binder on the lefthand side of your screen.

– You can break your work down into as many files as you want. I am currently writing a paranormal romance series, and many of the characters and locations appear in all three books. So, I have my character bios – broken down by each character in a different file – and my research on locations, facts, and more are located in the binder.

– You can easily break your book down into an individual file for each chapter. When you’re done, you simply export the book and it will combine all the chapters into one.

– You can keep your outline (if you’re an outliner/ plotter like me) there for quick and easy reference.

– You can easily split the screen and work on two docs at once. I LOVE this feature when I’m working with a beta reader. I keep the critiqued chapters on the bottom of the screen while I work on the draft at the top.

– You can save all your work on the whole project all at once. I used to painstakingly save all my individual docs that I had open (which was a lot) one at a time, first on Google Drive then on my key as backup. Now ALL the docs are in one place and you get to save the whole project all at once.  ** a word of warning. So far Google Drive doesn’t play nice with Scrivener, nor does One Drive. You DON’T want to save your project on the C Drive because your drive could crash and you could lose all your work. Dropbox is a great place to save your work since it’s a cloud. I use Dropbox then save it on my key once in a while as an extra backup. **

– When you’re done with your book draft, you can export it to another format, such as word. You can even export it to ebook format, though I haven’t tried that yet and I’m sure it would need additional, manual formatting after that.

Believe me, if I was able to use Scrivener successfully and immediately, a blind, deaf, monkey with its hands tied behind its back can do it. The authors of the Scrivener tutorial seem to realize that they are dealing with right-brained, temperamental, writerly types and offered encouragement accordingly throughout. Every once in a while, they encourage you to take a break and enjoy some tea and a biscuit (if you’re in the U.S., substitute with coffee and a donut).

All I can say is that I have found Scrivener to be well worth the relatively small amount of time and money investment. Now that I’m back to work full time while raising two kids and running a household, it’s really saved me time and gotten me organized.

What about you? Have you used Scrivener? Do you love it as I do??

  • Linda Fausnet

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Making Your Book PERMAFREE – How and Why You Should Do It

 

Fiction

There’s no one right way to market your book, and pricing is definitely one of those hot-button issues among writers. Some insist that they wish to charge a higher price for their work, reasoning that they spend months or even years on their book and don’t want to devalue it by giving it away for too cheap. For others, their goal is to get their book into as many hands as possible, and therefore have no problem charging as low as 99 cents or even giving their book away for free. It’s best to determine exactly what your goals are as a writer, and then go from there. As with everything else in self-publishing or even business in general, don’t be afraid to experiment with different prices and it’s okay to change your mind!

The price of your print book is based on the actual cost of production, so you don’t have as much leeway there. With an ebook, you can change the price as often as you like. As a relatively new author, I am embracing the idea of giving some of my books away for free. Right now, my main goal is visibility. I want to get my name out there and I want to find *my* readers – readers will enjoy my specific kind of writing (mainly romance, some bad words, a fair amount of sex). My writing style isn’t for everyone – nor should it be – but I know there are readers out there who would like my books. I just need to find them.

One of the most popular permafree strategies is to give away the first book in a series for free (Which Book in Your Series Should You Discount). This is my plan for my upcoming paranormal romance trilogy – the Gettysburg Ghost series. However, the first book, SOMEBODY’S DARLING, is not slated to come out until January. My other book sales are sluggish now (that’s an understatement. FLATLINED is more like it.) I’m tired of seeing goose eggs for my “sales” figures, and I just want people to read some of my work right now. My plan is to give away my debut novel, QUEEN HENRY, for free for a while to see if I can get some new readers and hopefully some email list signups.

An added benefit to giving your book away for free is that it can show up under the Also Boughts on Amazon, thus increasing your exposure even more.

To make your book permafree on Kobo and Smashwords, you simply set your price to zero and go along your merry way. For Barnes and Noble and Amazon, it’s not quite so simple. For B & N, I never did figure out how to do it. In fact, it may not even be possible. Amazon is still king when it comes to self-publishing, so you gotta get your book free over there if your plan is going to work. There are two ways to get your book permafree on Amazon:

  • Enroll your book in Kindle SELECT (different than KDP which is Kindle DIRECT publishing. That one just means you’re published on Amazon). SELECT means you can ONLY publish on Amazon and nowhere else. If you’re enrolled in Kindle Select, you can do a free book promotion for a total of 5 days for every 90 days you are enrolled in KDP Select. I did this, and got about 400 free downloads of QUEEN HENRY. Not bad. I hit #9 on the free list category in LGBT fiction, which was exciting!
  • If you are NOT enrolled in Select (I’m not anymore) the only way to get your book free on Amazon is to get them to price match when you’ve got your book free elsewhere. Put your book for free on Kobo and/or Smashwords, then get someone to report it to Amazon by clicking on Tell Us About a Lower Price on your book’s Amazon sales page. Sometimes Amazon will price match right away and sometimes it might take a while. If you need someone to report your book to Amazon for a price match, you can shoot me your Kobo/SW free links and I’ll be happy to do it for you. Also, the friendly folks on KBoards are usually willing to help. I had someone from KBoards and my wonderful mother report my book for me to Amazon. It took my book about three days to get priced to free on Amazon.

Though not for everyone, making your book permafree can be a great strategy to help new authors break into the publishing scene and it can be an excellent way for established writers to launch a new series and get some new readers. I’m amazed at the number of highly successful authors who continue to use this strategy long after they’re making good money.

What about you? Have you tried giving your book away for free? What were the results?

– Linda Fausnet

 

 

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The Empowerment of Self-Publishing

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This week I was reminded of why I love self-publishing and why I do not miss the elusive chase that was pursuing traditional publishing.

I recently self- published a middle-grade novel. It’s harder to promote a self-published middle-grade book online than a genre book for adults. One hurdle I’m facing now is that it’s difficult to get book bloggers to review a middle-grade novel on their websites.

My first book was LGBT fiction, and it wasn’t too hard to get book bloggers to review it. I suspect that for my next two books, chick lit and paranormal romance respectively, it might be even easier. There are lots of open-minded, book-loving bloggers who readily review quality, self-published works.

Not so much for middle-grade books. I wasn’t sure if there were too many middle-grade bloggers out there, but I did find a whole list of them online. When I started looking over the review policies on the websites, I found that the vast majority of them specifically refuse to consider self-published works.

The more I read through these sites, the worse I felt. Each one felt like a rejection, and it reminded me so much of the hopelessness of the traditional publishing query process. I remember reviewing site after site of literary agents whose submission policies said things like:

  • We will ONLY considered previously published writers

  • Submissions accepted by referral ONLY.

  • Please contact us ONLY if you have met us personally at a writer’s conference.

These agents and MG bloggers seemed to say: If we don’t already know you, we’re not about to give you a chance to prove yourself. One of the bloggers even stated “I am not interested in any books you had to publish yourself.”

Ouch.

It didn’t feel good to read all those depressing NOs. The whole experience left me with that icky, helpless, degraded feeling I used to get when contacting agents. I know most of agents are probably nice in person, but the websites always seemed to say GO AWAY. YOU SMELL LIKE DESPERATION AND FAILURE.

Look, I get that many pros in the business have been burned by self-published authors who waste their valuable time by submitting sub-par, poorly written, and/or badly formatted manuscripts, but I am not one of those authors. It’s unfair to lump us all into one category.

I almost didn’t finish the blogger’s list, but I forced myself to. So far, I did get one “yes” to a review and another lovely pro-indie blogger said I could do a guest post.

Anyway, I was glad to get that done and get back to my regularly scheduled indie writer life. As a self-published author, I get to call the shots. I can try all sorts of marketing strategies – social media, paid ads, emails, etc. Some will work, some won’t, but they’ll all up to me to try.

I don’t have to wait for a Yes.

I’m the writer and I approve this message. Thankfully, that’s all I need!

– Linda Fausnet

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Four Things You’re Doing to Ruin Your Self-Publishing Career

 

Papa

There is an immense freedom that comes with self-publishing your work. You can write whatever the hell you want and publish whenever the hell you like. You don’t have to wait for the approval of an agent or a publisher. You are in control of your own writing career!

To paraphrase a quote from a certain arachnid-themed superhero film, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

I repeat – You are in control of your writing career. You are also capable of ruining it before it begins. Here are some ways you may be sabotaging your chances of success:

1. Editing the Book Yourself – I don’t care how well you write, you are incapable of seeing all the errors in your own work. You know what you meant to write – readers will see what you actually wrote. It’s so easy to omit simple words in a sentence because your writing brain mentally fills them in when you’re reading your own work. As for grammar and punctuation rules, there are millions of them and you’re likely to get lots of them wrong. I know I do! I would be terrified to publish a book that hadn’t been professionally edited.

2. Improperly formatting the manuscript– Formatting is something you may be able to do yourself. I can’t. I am utterly techno-phobic and wouldn’t even attempt it. It is possible to teach yourself how to properly format your manuscript for eBook and/or paperback, but don’t do it unless you’re sure you can do it 100% correctly. Don’t kid yourself by saying things like “Ah, the formatting’s only slightly off, nobody will notice.” Yes. Yes they will. It’s the first thing I look for in a self-published book. If it looks unprofessional, I won’t download it, even if it’s free.

3. Ignoring page and word count guidelines – If your book is fewer than 150 pages, it’s not a novel (at least not an adult one). I don’t care if it’s a free giveaway. If a reader settles down with a book you’ve marketed as a novel and finds it’s only 100 pages, he’s going to be disappointed. Angry, even. Angry enough to give you a bad review on Amazon. Writing shorter works is great! Just market them honestly as short stories or novellas, whatever the case might be. You also may want to price the story accordingly, perhaps .99 or 1.99.

4. Having a Bad Cover – This doesn’t just refer to the professionalism of the cover, though of course that’s critical. If you’re not good at art and graphic design (I’m not. As you can tell, there’s a long list of stuff I suck at…) don’t attempt it yourself. Whether you do it yourself or not, make sure you do your homework. An attention-getting design isn’t always better, believe it or not. Your number one goal is to attract the right readers –those who read your genre. If you’re marketing a romance, it’s important that your cover screams – this is a romantic book! That way, it will catch the eye of readers looking for a romantic read. If your cover grabs attention but doesn’t make the genre clear, readers will pass on it. Likewise, you want to make sure the cover matches the story. If the cover is pink and bright but the story is tragic and violent, your reader will be the one who’s dark and stormy.

I hear lots of self-publishers making excuses for not following these common sense rules of professional writing.

But I got good reviews! – If you have only a handful of reviews, enjoy them. You won’t be getting many more. When your book first came out, you may have had a few readers willing to overlook your errors, but this good fortune won’t work long-term. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and most readers will not recommend poorly written or badly formatted books. Also, no professional book blogger is going to bother to review a book that is incorrectly formatted. Sure, you’re not getting bad reviews that complain about that badly written book – that’s because most people won’t buy or read the book in the first place.

I can’t afford an editor, a formatter, and a cover artist! I filed for bankruptcy the year I published my first book .Guess what I did first? Paid the editor, the formatter, and the cover artist. I worked too damn hard on that book to make it look unprofessional. Times are tough, no question about it. But you’re tougher. Sell your blood, have a lemonade stand, I don’t care what you do. You owe it to yourself to do right by your book. Don’t sabotage yourself by taking shortcuts.

I know some of my Wannabe Pride articles sound harsh sometimes, but it really is because I care about indie writers. I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED.

I’ve dreamed for twenty years of being a published writer, and I finally made it happen with my debut novel in 2014. So far, I’ve gotten a positive review on the front page of an LGBT newspaper as well as several great book blogger reviews, been invited to give two public talks about the book, sold about three times the number of books that I had expected, and got my novel accepted into my local public library system.

I teared up as I wrote that last paragraph, because I still can’t believe that all that happened.

No, I’m not a huge success and I’m not ready to quit my day job, but this whole experience has been a dream come true. I want all this and more to happen for you.

None of this would have happened if my formatting had been even a touch off the mark or if my book contained grammatical errors. The library would have rejected it, no professional would have reviewed it, and I would have only gotten a handful of book sales.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Push yourself to be the very best you can be.

I believe in you.

You need to believe in yourself.

– Linda Fausnet

 

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Why Authors Should Answer Their Fan Mail

Snob

If you’re new to self-publishing, it may be hard to imagine that someday you might have actual fans – people who really love your work and are excited to read more. It will be really exciting when some of those fans are passionate enough about your work that they actually reach out to you, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or even in an email.

It may tempting for you to play it cool. You might be jumping up and down with excitement that you’ve actually got some fan mail, but perhaps you decide not to answer, preferring instead to act like you’re too busy and too important to answer back.

I don’t recommend that course of action.

As a newly self-published author, one who has spent over twenty years wallowing in obscurity, I treasure each and every sale that I get. It makes me so happy when someone buys my book, or even downloads it for free. I’m honored that people take the time to read my books, and if a fan ever contacted me, I would be more than happy to write back. I realize that it’s easy for me to say that now. I don’t have people sending me emails every day, so of course I could respond easily to anyone who contacted me.

As authors, we’re always bombarded with so much information on marketing and social media. Ya gotta advertise on Facebook! Tweet five times a day! Use Pinterest and Linked in! It’s easy to forget the SOCIAL in social media. It doesn’t work for me to have you throw marketing in my face and walk away. If I’m a true fan (which is what you want, after all. That’s why you’re marketing), I might want some kind of personal response.

My advice is, if a fan writes to you, write her back. You can wait 24 hours if you don’t want to appear overeager. Of, if you’re fortunate enough to have lots of fan mail, write back but make your responses quick. Even if a fan writes you a ten-page love letter, you can still write back with only a few sentences, and you don’t have an obligation to keep the conversation going after that. Fans should understand that you’re busy, but it’s not too much to ask to get some kind of response when they send you a nice message about your work.

Sean Platt, one of the authors and self-publishing gurus behind Write, Publish, Repeat (a great resource for indies if you haven’t read it) wrote me back and answered my question about publishing middle-grade fiction. It really meant a lot to me and I never forgot it.

And guess what? I never would have plugged his book as I just did if he’d ignored me. I wouldn’t hold a grudge I guess, but I would have been disappointed and wouldn’t go out of my way to promote his work.
I had a similar situation with an indie author whose books I LOVE. I’ve only read two so far, and I couldn’t put them down. They were just the type of book I love to read – sweet, sexy, tender romance with an excellent plot, so it’s not just lovey-dovey stuff. I loved her first book and made it a Wannabe Pride Book Pick of the Week. I just read her second book and did the same thing. I loved that book so much that I deliberately read it slowly so that it wouldn’t end. I said this on Twitter and tagged the author. To be fair, she did answer back on Twitter to say thanks.

She has a Contact Me email address on her website, so I did. I wrote her a nice email and told her how much I loved her books, and how I admired her for her success. I told her she was an inspiration to me. She somehow managed to get a review in The New York Times of her self-published book, and I asked how she managed such a great accomplishment.

As you can probably guess, she never wrote me back. I’m not gonna lie; it kinda broke my heart. I really don’t have the enthusiasm for her work that I once had. I loved her books – she was really my favorite author – but now when I see her books, it kinda bums me out. I’m not trying to be petty, but I just don’t have much interest in reading her stuff anymore. So I haven’t read any more so far.

I’m sure it’s no big deal to her if I don’t buy her books, but this loss of sale(s) could have easily been avoided. If she had taken the time to write me back- even two sentences – that would have been enough for me. As my readers know by reading Wannabe Pride, I have a real passion for helping other authors. I really feel that we need to look out for each other. If you’re ahead of me on the success ladder, I hope you’ll reach down, give me a hand, and help pull me up. It’s what I would do.

I also feel it’s a little unfair to encourage your fans to Contact Me if all you want is for us to tell you how great you are. Even with traditional publishing, gone are the days where the publishers do all the publicity for you. YOU need to be your own best advertising advocate. Taking your fans for granted is just not wise, no matter how successful you are.

Okay – one more rejected-by-an-author story. Through an acquaintance, I’ve met a  traditionally-published Young Adult author. I’ve met her once in person – when I attended a book signing of hers – and we’re friends on Facebook. I’ve responded to several of her posts on Facebook. They were posts about writing, and I commented about my own experience. She never answered back, even though there were usually only one or two other comments on the thread. I definitely get an “I’m better than you” vibe from her, though I could be wrong. After all, I drove to her book signing, listened to her talk, and bought a copy of her book (and not the Kindle version, either). This woman knows who I am and knows I have self-published a book, but she really doesn’t bother to give me the time of day. It’s frustrating, because if the shoe was on the other foot, I would have been excited to see what I could do to help her. Kinda annoys me, too, when I think of all the literary agents who will only considered a new writer if she is referred by a published author. So what happens when published authors treat you like garbage?

She has a three-book series out now. Guess how many I bought after the book signing? Again, I know I’m small potatoes, but a sale’s a sale. And she’s lost mine, and any other publicity I might have given her.

One last story. I promise.

Jodi Picoult is an internationally-renowned, traditionally-published, New York Times bestselling author, who has had several movies made based on her books. If you send her an email, she usually sends you a brief yet very friendly response within 24 hours.

Do you want to be a classy, humble, appreciative author, or play it cool and aloof, even when it means losing followers?

  • Linda Fausnet

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AuthorRise – A Great Resource for Indie Writers – is FREE This Week Only!

I’ve been a beta user for this emerging program, and now they’re ready to go live. There’s typically a subscription fee, but they’re letting people sign up free for the next week, so I recommend you take a look. The website is https://www.authorrise.com/.

Chris Weber, CEO of AuthorRise, guest blogged for Wannabe Pride a few months ago.
How To Create Your Social Marketing Strategy (for Writers) by Chris Weber, CEO, AuthorRise.

AuthorRise basically helps you navigate social media marketing campaigns for your books, and helps you track your success. It boasts the following services:

It can help you set social media goals. It’s so hard to know what to tweet and when, and this program helps guide you through the process. You can start slow – one or two social media message per day – then work your way up.

You Can Create “flyers” – These are like free, mini-ads that you can create easily. Flyers eye-catching, visual messages you can create by adding a brief message, a link, and an image (like your book cover). These flyers are shareable/ tweetable and take just seconds to create. I am utterly techno-phobic, and it was easy for me to do. Here’s what one of mine looks like:

Flyer

Helps you track book sales. You can easily track book sales with the program, and you even get an email notification when there is a spike in your Amazon ranking.

Helps you track the success and reach of all your social media outlets. I think this is one of the coolest aspects of AuthoRise. You can plainly see which social media messages work and which don’t. You can see how many people clicked on your website or Amazon page and what message sent them there. This is valuable information for any author to see which social media platforms work best and which messages garner the most attention.

So far, it seems like a useful service and the customer service help has been top-notch. Whenever I’ve had questions, Chris Weber himself usually answers back, and rather quickly. The folks at AuthorRise seem to really want to help indie writers, so it’s worth taking a look.

– Linda Fausnet

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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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You MUST Write Every Day! Unless You Can’t….

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Most how-to books, blogs, and writer gurus tell you that you absolutely MUST write every single day or you’ll never amount to anything as a writer. After all, practice really does make perfect.

Yeah, well, there’s no such thing as perfect, no matter how much you practice. While I agree that the most efficient way to become a great writer is to write as much as possible and to get your work critiqued so you can figure out how to improve, sometimes a little thing called life gets in the way.

I do write every single workday and I write on as many nights and weekends as I can. I rarely have a problem getting motivated and I write even when I’m not motivated. I get up between 5am and 5:30 every day to ensure that I get, at the very least, one hour of writing in every single day.  One rule of mine is that I write for one hour Monday through Friday – pretty much no matter what. My other rule is that I never HAVE to write on evenings and weekends unless I want to. Well, the truth of the matter is, I almost ALWAYS want to, but stuff like homework and kids and dishes and laundry get in the way to the point where I will get overwhelmed quickly if I write every night instead of taking care of those other things.

I almost never have a problem writing. I have a problem STOPPING. The hour between 6:30am and 7:30am seems to be the fastest of the whole day. It’s almost painful for me when I have to stop doing what I love after only one hour so I can spend the next 8 hours doing someone else’s bidding at my day job.

However…

I understand that not all writers feel this way. Many, many writers – GOOD writers – have trouble getting started or feeling motivated to write. This is normal and completely understandable. For sure, you will have to force yourself to write on a very regular basis if you want to have a chance at truly making it as a successful writer, but is not writing daily going to spell the end of your career before it begins?

Not necessarily.

There are two important factors that may determine how often you write:

How serious are you really about pursuing writing as a career?

How much time do you actually have available to write?

The answers for me are – I’m EXTREMELY serious and driven when it comes to my writing career and I don’t have a ton of time available, but I carve it out wherever and whenever I possibly can and this includes a firm daily writing schedule.

There are really a number of factors to consider when it comes to the time and energy that you choose to devote to writing. Do you want to self-publish and/or submit to agents as many books as you possibly can?  Or are you trying to finish one book just to see what happens? Are you writing a memoir for personal reasons – to tell your own story – but you don’t plan on making writing a career?  Are you independently wealthy or do you work a 40-hour work week? Are you single or are you married with three kids? Are you caring for an elderly parent or do you suffer from a disability that makes it more difficult for you to find the time and energy to write? Do you fit in three hours of television watching a day? Are you in school and studying for finals?

Each writer’s career trajectory is different and to make blanket statements that you MUST write every day or you’re a terrible writer and just don’t care about writing seems unfair to me.

Figure out what you really want to do and make a plan to do it. Life can legitimately get in the way sometimes, and it’s okay to give writing a break when you feel totally overwhelmed. If you’ve decided that you really want to write a book, all you have to do is just one thing.

WRITE THE BOOK.

In two months or two years – even in two decades. It’s all up to you.

– Linda Fausnet

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The Stages of Self-Publishing

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger KENDALL BAILEY!

I was born and raised in northeastern Vermont. I now live in southwest Minnesota with his wife and son. I’d been interested in writing for a decade or so and finally took the leap (wrote my first novel) the beginning of this year. I’m enjoying my experience as an independent author and am currently working on the second draft of my second novel.

A self-published author is a small business owner, it’s true. Some of us will be non-profits, making church cookbooks or maybe a family history, but the rest of us want to sell our work to anyone who cares to read it. This post is geared toward the second group, though the non-profit folks could benefit from it too, I hope. As usual, I am going to use myself as an example throughout the piece.

I am a small business, manufacturing a product. The stages of writing a novel aren’t so different from the stages of a new product launch.

I start with R&D – plotting, researching, basically the knowledge phase, trying to figure out what I want the story to be. For example, with my first novel I knew I wanted to have a teenage boy living in a haunted hotel, and there had to be a girl. Not a lot of detail, just the plot in broad strokes.

Then comes the trial run, my first draft. I have the shell of the story with a few details sprinkled here and there. While writing a first draft I am learning what the story is. I think it’s common for these first two phases to overlap for many writers. For me they can overlap to the point of almost occurring in tandem. (My current book is happening this way. I decided one afternoon to write a YA novel from the POV of a 14 year old girl who is into nerd things. That’s not even a plot! I am a little over 10,000 words into the manuscript now and have a much better idea where I’m going.)

Phase three is product testing. Do you find yourself grinning like an idiot when you read your manuscript for the first time? I know I do! That first read is my favorite part of the writing process. It’s during the initial read-through that the story crystallizes in my mind; I can see what needs to go, change, or be added. Editing is the second part of the phase. Love it or hate it, it’s a necessity.

After editing I think very highly of my product, but what will others think? Let’s find out. I give my manuscript to four or five people to read, find mistakes, and get their opinion. Then more editing! Oh the joys of rereading my work five or six times, going blind during the predawn hours in an endless search for my shortcomings and oversights.

Phase five, mass production begins. Let’s launch this bitch! Remember all the hours you poured into your novel? They don’t mean Jack if you’re not going to make an effort to sell it.

Marketing a self-published novel can be a real pain in the ass, no two ways about it. I began by selling copies to family and friends. I have a hunch a great many authors begin their careers in the same fashion.

I’ve had the best luck selling books in person versus online. Aside from a few paperback orders when I first released it and a scattering of ebook sales, the internet hasn’t been the best marketplace for me. Part of the reason is I am asking $4.99 for my ebook and there are a ton of ebooks available from $2.99 – free. Why pay more, right? And what the hell is the matter with me asking almost double for my work?

The answer involves both strategy and not a small amount of ego. First, I refuse to devalue my work to compete with other self-published authors. The way I see it I am not in competition with only self-publishers, I am in competition with everyone. From Disney, to Random House, to Viking, to Comet Press, to Linda Fausnet herself, and whoever is reading this right now; we’re all competing for a share of the same book money. So I set my ebook price in a competitive range for the entire field of competition, not just the indie world.

Second, I am willing to work my butt off to sell my book (even at its seemingly elevated price) because that’s precisely what a traditional publisher would expect me to do. I need to be able to prove to a publisher or agent that my work can sell at an average retail price. If it won’t sell, then I need to either get better or find a new obsession. (Like that would be possible!)

My best sales day, by far, was a book signing I did in my old hometown. I’d ordered 60 copies specifically for the event and sold around 40 of them. Not to worry, there were people who couldn’t make it or completely forgot but still wanted a copy, so they are mostly gone now. The remainder will be put towards my newest venture.

The town I live in has a program for local authors that is run by the neighborhood fine arts council. For a percentage, the FAC will sell the author’s book in their gift shop. It’s a 75/25 split, with the 75% going to the author.  I’m excited for the opportunity.

I stated above that the internet hasn’t been a productive marketplace for me. While that’s true it has been the best sales tool I have at my disposal. In particular, I’ve used Facebook to sell my book. I take a personal approach, send someone I know but don’t see often a message like, “Hey! Been a long time. How’s things?” They usually respond and ask how I’m doing, and ker-boom; I mention that I just wrote a book.

That brings me to my last point. I think it’s important to have these kinds of conversations. They’re good for building a strong and loyal customer base. I talk to as many people as I can about my book with multiple hopes. One is that they’ll buy a copy, obviously. But if the book doesn’t sound like something they’d enjoy, maybe they’ll tell a friend who’s into creepy novels. My plan is to bring a pack of rabidly loyal fans to whichever agent or publisher agrees to take me on as an author.

Kendall Bailey

My Facebook page
Twitter – @KBaileyWriter
Goodreads Author Page

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