Saturday, 29 June 2013

Perseverance: 1.Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. 2.Continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

Well as of late, I've found myself a bit uninspired.  I've been wanting to write a blog post but having no interesting thoughts to write about, blogging has been pushed to the side.  This in itself has finally given me something to write about... perseverance.

Having recently self-published my first book, I find myself a bit discouraged at times with my lack of sales.  I know there are millions of books and authors out there and to stand out amongst the crowd is a tall feat in itself.  Self-promotion seems exhausting when it feels so pointless.  But... I know that if this is something I really want to do, I must persevere.

Silly me, before I published my book, I had all these great ideas about how many copies I would sell.  I reasoned with myself that because I had so many different groups of friends, they would tell their friends and word would spread like wildfire... not so.  I know most authors don't like to share how many copies they've sold but I'm not embarrassed, I've sold 13.  However, probably half of those have been gifted in exchange for honest reviews, which I haven't received yet.  Now if only I could sell 1988 more, then I might be able to get an agent's attention.  Yes I just laughed aloud at myself, it's okay you can too. :)

When I first self-published, I was so excited by the response and I had such high hopes.  It seemed like quite a few people said they would purchase a copy, now I don't know if they forgot... but it didn't happen.  As for my facebook page, I must say, that was a bit disappointing at first too.  Again, I depended on my friends 'liking' my page and actually found myself a bit insulted by those who didn't.  However, after joining some groups on facebook, with one little request, other authors showed me so much support and seriously spiked my number of likes.  Authors really are supportive of one another!

On top of all of this, the one review I have received was so disheartening, as I mentioned in another post.  All the reviewer did was summarize my book, which bothered me because she basically gave away the story, and responded with the same three stars I'd given her.  With that, I'd rather have no review at all, instead of a false, ego-based one.

So, my whole point of my little rant is that self-publishing is easy, self-promotion seems to be the tough hurdle, but perseverance must be the key.  I keep hoping that the more I persevere, the more I will get the word out about my book and once more people are talking about it, perhaps more sales will be generated.  One can hope at least.  Right?

Anyways, on a side note, in celebration of Canada Day, since I am Canadian, my book will be free on Smashwords from today June 29th, 2013 - July 1st, 2013.  I hope you'll stop by and grab a copy. :)  Here's the link.

And to all you other self-published authors, keep pushing on, I have faith we'll all get there some day. :)

Monday, 17 June 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having finally taken the plunge into self-publishing, I'm slowly beginning to realize the challenges that come along with self-promotion.  For that reason, I hope to help other indie authors get themselves out there and possibly find new readers. 

With that being said, I'd like to introduce you to Ella Medler, author of Blood is Heavier, a really exciting and captivating read.

Blood Is Heavier

Did you seek agent representation before self publishing?  Or do you have an agent now?
Back in the days when I believed in doing everything by the book I did look for agents. I began querying one agent a week and kept going for twelve weeks. Not all even bothered to answer, but of those who did only one saw the potential in my book being contract-worthy. Unfortunately, they didn’t ‘do’ my genre. I lost patience and began querying publishers directly. It took a year, but in the end I had three contracts to choose from.
I've heard of a lot of writers who began querying publishers when querying agents wasn't going so well, most of them seem to have been successful.

What made you decide to self publish?
I’m an impatient person who needs to see the results of my hard work pretty much right away. Traditional publishing tends to work at a very slow pace. To give you an idea, I was offered a contract for my second book end of 2011, and I wouldn’t have seen a pay check from it until sometime in 2014. The contract option was kept open for me throughout 2012, but I never exercised that option. Instead, I re-wrote the book so it developed into a trilogy, published book one, and I’m about to publish book two.
Wow that is a long wait!  Self-publishing seems to have so many positives. 

It seems like a bit of a daunting task, did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
It is a really straight-forward process, much easier than I expected. If you can read a booklet of instructions, you can self-publish. By far the most problems were caused by IRS requests for foreign authors. Jumping through hoops doesn’t even come near! For an American, it should be easy as making a cup of tea.
I agree the IRS forms were somewhat scary to me, I felt so lost I haven't even bothered with them yet.  I'm sure minus these pesky forms the self-publishing process must feel a lot less stressful.

Have you done anything to promote your book?
Nope. I only had a facebook account at the time my first book was scheduled for publishing. I set up a twitter account and I think I had about 20 followers by the time the book became available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I bought a domain name and a software package and learned how to make a website from scratch. It went live about a month after the book’s release. Later on, I expanded into wordpress, LinkedIn, and a few others, but promo-wise, I still do nothing. Occasionally I post excerpts from my books on my blog. That’s it. Does that count? Some of my fans offered to do interviews, but I could probably count them on the fingers of one hand. Thank you for having me around on your blog, by the way. I appreciate it.
Always happy to help. :)

Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now, or is it something that even interests you?
I am not interested in an agent by their old job description. However, there is space in the market for an agent of sorts, someone who has the author’s interests at heart, and if someone like that came around, and was able to prove their worth to me, show me exactly how they could improve my writing business, so to speak, I would like to talk to them. Just a word of warning: I can smell a fraud a mile away!
It's nice to see that so many authors are completely comfortable with taking charge of their own career and recognizing they have a right to choose a perfect agent if they want.  I like to think that authors are winning the control a bit.

What was your first manuscript?
The first is an un-named teen spy story and it’s gathering virtual dust in a folder on my laptop. If you’re referring to the first published one, it’s Martin Little, Resurrected. It’s a light-hearted fantasy satire which mocks our current way of life. One of my readers described it as complete escapism. I’m ten thousand words into its sequel, Martin Little Takes Epic Action.

How long did it take you to write it?
Oh, I played around with the first three chapters, writing and re-writing to makes sure agents – see the conditioning? – liked the beginning. All the way through the summer holidays, I’d take the children to the beach and keep writing whilst watching over them. Then the new school year started and I completed the rest of it in about a month. I had to! I had sent the first chapters to agents and the book wasn’t finished yet! What if they had asked for the whole manuscript? That was a hell of an incentive!

Did you have it professionally edited? 
Yes, I did.

Did you have any critique partners?  If so, how many?
I gave the manuscript to all and sundry – people I knew and people I’d met only once. Never kept track of them all. Not all the copies I gave away returned to me. I take that as a good sign. I took all the comments seriously and, indeed, I found them all helpful. I’m sure the book is so much better because of all these people’s input.

If you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
Maybe... I remember feeling so high for having written a book, so happy I’d signed a contract... And then I submerged myself deep inside the writers’ community and realised one book is nothing. Promotion takes time and skill. Or a lot of money. Time to write books two, three and so on is limited as soon as you begin to promote book one. If I could turn back time, I’d write ten books, and hit the market with all at once.
That's an interesting thought... makes sense though.  I've seen this so much, the more you have out there, the more likely you are to get noticed.

This is my most touchy question and a lot of authors choose not to answer, but how many copies have you sold?
Enough to pay some bills with the money raised, but not enough to retire. And even when I do retire, I’ll still be writing! My definition of success doesn’t involve figures.
I think it's very important that the definition of success doesn't involve figures.  I personally, and I think most writers would agree, just want to move someone with my writing, I want people to fall in love with my characters and got lost in my world.

If you want to find more information on Ella Medler and her books, you can check out her blog or Facebook page.  The sequel to Blood is Heavier is coming out soon.  I'd be interested in reading it and seeing where the story goes and I hope you'll take a look too.  All the best to a great author on her exciting writing journey.

On a side note, IndieAuthorland is helping me do some promoting by featuring me in an interview on their blog tomorrow June 18, 2013.  Here's the link: I hope you'll check it out. :)

Monday, 3 June 2013

Ineffable: 1. too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable 2. too sacred to be uttered 3. indescribable; indefinable

Having finally published my first book, beyond the excitement is the exhausting exercise of self-promotion.  Knowing that a lot of readers rely on reviews when making their purchases of choice, I have been bothering a multitude of reviewers.  Not having much luck, I was excited to be offered the chance at a review exchange.

I went in with a completely open mind, a bit of excitement and a purely positive outlook on the whole thing.  By the end of it however, my experience is something that I would consider completely ineffable.

Reading through the book of my 'review partner', I was a bit disappointed.  There most certainly were some good parts to it but there was also a lot I didn't like.  And the amount of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes was somewhat appalling.  As I read through, I became more and more concerned with the review I would have to give.  The last thing I wanted was to hurt another author.  So... I focused on the positive as much as I could, assigned the book a three star rating, and gave my explanation.  Knowing how sensitive authors are about their work, I mean come on now, it's like another child to us, I was a little worried about the other reviewer giving me a low rating simply to get me back.  Therefore, I waited until she had posted my review first.

I was astounded, disgusted, and disheartened to discover what came next.  This lady sent me an email telling me that it is customary to simply give each other five stars and focus only on the positive.  Well what's the point of that?  What's the point of even reading the book then?  Man was I bothered.  If that's the case, then all those reviews that readers look to are worthless.  And on top of all that, why would any author want to just be handed an undeserved five star rating?  I certainly don't.  It would just feel so empty.  I want to earn those five stars.

Anyways, once this woman realized what I'd done, you know told the truth and all, she said she would 'adjust her review to a more honest one'.  Oddly enough, a few minutes later I found myself with a three star review instead of the original five.  I just had to laugh.  Honestly, I really did laugh out loud.  Okay it was more of an irritated snicker of disbelief over the lack of maturity from what I expected would be a mature lady.

The worst part was, the write up in her review was nothing but praise and simply didn't match the three star rating she gave me.  Which led me to the obvious... she'd simply reciprocated out of hurt.  The ol' tit for tat.  The thing I had been fearful of from the very beginning had come to fruition.  I guess there had been no point in me waiting to post my review then.

I am curious to hear what your thoughts on this matter are though.  The whole thing just left me with such a sick feeling.  It's just so dishonest.  Would you gladly exchange five stars for a sub-par book to receive five stars yourself?

On a side note, at least being let in on this little secret of 'protocol' made things a lot clearer.  Having read the book, I was quite shocked to find that it had received mostly four or five stars.  But now, after being alerted to the falsity of it all, I see it's all empty anyways.  I am open to the idea that this was strictly my opinion and perhaps others truly did see this writing as exceptional, but with such a thing as false reviews, how will I ever know?