Sunday, December 3, 2017

Things I wish I would've known about 40 self-published books ago

I think I've written posts like this before, but I'm always reminding myself of the different things I've learned over the last five or so years. I also saw something on Twitter recently asking what you would tell your younger writer self, which of course got me thinking.

I'll start out by saying that I don't have an official editor or proofreader for my stories. I know, most will tell you it's a must, but my budget restrictions make it difficult when I write so much to pay for services. I assume many people are in the same boat, so this list is kind of my guidance if you're trying to go it alone.

1. Don't rush into publishing
I know you've got your lovely book written and you've read it a few times and think it's ready to be shared with the world, but chances are it's not, and more importantly, chances are you're not really ready. Why? Well, I guess that's what this list is - a checklist of things to consider before you hit the publish button.

2. Make sure you have at least one unbiased person read your book before publishing
This one is key. Having your husband, sister, best friend, etc read your book and tell you it's great doesn't always mean it really is. Unless of course those people are professional editors or something, they probably won't give you honest reviews of your work. Seek out a critique partner, or maybe a few, to read your book. I've found these people in different writing communities over the years - places like Scribophile, Wattpad, Goodreads and Ladies Who Critique are places I've personally met people, but there are hundreds of other out there. You can also find beta readers that maybe won't go as deep into the story as a critique partner, but can help you find plot holes and give you clues whether your book will have the reaction you're looking for from an audience.

3. Listen to your book as one of your forms of editing
It took me a few books to figure this one out. As you edit your book, it's easy to read the words as they should be and not necessarily what's there. I've found taking my Word document and converting it to a pdf, then opening in Adobe Acrobat Reader and activating the Read Out Loud feature under the View menu helps me to hear what's there when I would otherwise read over mistakes.

4. A cover needs to catch the readers eye
There is much to be said about covers. I've seen many people use the cookie cutter cover generators out there, and when you see the same background over and over, it doesn't exactly entice a person to click. I personally find free images from sites like pexels or pixabay and see how well they fit into a template I have in GIMP, a free image editing software. I also find free fonts on Font Squirrel to pair with the image for a unique combination. Make sure the font is big enough that the cover is readable in thumbnail size and sticks out from the image. Also, if you're using different fonts, try to keep it to two.

5. What you write for your description is almost as important as the book itself
It feels kind of strange typing that, but when you think about it, your cover and description is what people see first. If there are errors in your description, people won't have a lot of confidence that the book isn't also riddled with them. So, get a second set of eyes on your description. It hopefully goes with out saying that what is said needs to catch the reader's attention. Don't give the story away, obviously, but find the right combination of enticing and explaining what the book is about. Ask questions that will be answered in the book that will pique the reader's interest.

6. Where are you planning on publishing and what's the right price
This one has a lot of different opinions. When I started out, I used Smashwords and Amazon's KDP to publish. Smashwords allowed me to upload in one place for almost all retailers other than Amazon, so this combination worked well. I still have books published in bother places, but only have my free books on Smashwords now because I enrolled pretty much all my paid books in the KDP Select program. There are a lot of people who say this limits your royalties, but I've done so much better with the page reads from folks with Kindle Unlimited that I can't see myself changing back anytime soon. That may not be the case for everyone, but it has been working for me. As far as pricing, this is a tough one, especially depending on the royalties you want to earn. I've been known to go on the low side of things, being that I'm not someone people are already out there talking about. For self-published books, I tend to see them around $1.99 or $2.99, which has always felt right to me, but others will say that's too low and start out at $3.99. In the end, as far as price points and distribution, it's ended up being what works best for an individual. There's a lot of trying different things that go along with that, which I definitely recommend. I haven't really mentioned anything about paperbacks, because I don't make one for every book, but those I tend to do through Createspace, which I currently recommend, even though I have tried out the KDP version as well.

7. Have a marketing plan
Okay, so this is the one I tend to fail at. I don't do enough to market, again that limited budget hinders some options for me here. I am good at making promotional items, like bookmarks and advance sheets and shareable images/gifs. Right now my marketing is pretty much solely sharing on my own social media accounts, but there are tons of places you can advertise if you have extra money. Ads on sites that have large reader populations, like goodreads and amazon, might be smart. There are also all sorts of book blog campaigns and social media accounts that will share your "ad" if you pay them. Another aspect of marketing should be thinking about getting reviews on your books. Sites like goodreads have whole community groups dedicated to authors looking for reviews. These come in handy because some advertising services require you to have so many four or five star reviews before they'll consider your book and a reader is probably more likely to read a book from a new author if they can see other people are already enjoying it.

It feels like there's more I could say about each of these and that there should be a few more things added, but I think I've reached my blog post word limit for the day (this is a fictional number in my head and really just means it's time to go to the grocery story).

I hope you find this useful and would love to hear of other things that should be on the list. Also, only 11 days left to nominate Blocked Shot on Kindle Scout.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish everyone who's celebrating Thanksgiving a happy one. I'm hanging out at home today with my hubby and the dogs, spending most of the morning trying to decide on what huge TV we're going to buy. With hubby's vision still an issue, he's been lobbying for something he won't have to go stand in front of to be able to read it. I think we've finally decided on one after looking at them for at least a week. His birthday was Tuesday, so we'll call it a birthday present.

In other news, I've been doing this writing thing for over five years now. It's been a learning experience all the way and I've shared my experiences here and there over the years, but I'd really like to start helping other authors more. I'm not a marketing genius or anything along those lines, so I can't give you the secrets to selling thousands of books. But, I love formatting books, making book covers and general graphics - and I'm always up for giving a little constructive criticism.

If you're an indie author looking for any of those things, let me know. I'd like to build up a portfolio, so I'm looking to do some work for free on those kinds of things and see how it goes. Just contact me at and we can see if I can help you. Here are some examples of my covers, if you're curious on that aspect. I can also provide examples of paperback covers.

While I've got my Kindle Scout campaign running, I'd be remiss if I didn't take a second to promote the Blocked Shot campaign (}

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New book currently on Kindle Scout

So I'm going to have to ask for your help again. I know, I'm so needy. But, any book that is shortlisted on Kindle Scout in November or December is supposed to get some editorial feedback and I would love to win that - the publishing contract usually offered if selected wouldn't be too bad either.

Ready to support this independent author without going any further? Here's the link:

Need to know a little more about the book before jumping over to nominate? Well, the link does have a short description and almost the first three full chapters, but here's a little fuller description for you.

Blackmail, lies and unprotected sex. What could possibly go wrong in a relationship built on those things?

Hannah Williams has a system. She doesn't sleep with a guy who rates over ten on a little scale her friend invented for her in high school. It sounds stupid, especially since she's still following the system ten years after she graduated. It's led her to live a rather boring but safe life.

That all goes out the window when she shows up at her ten-year high school reunion and Curtis Power starts whispering in her ear. The man was a hunk in high school and years playing professional hockey hasn't changed that. If anything, it's made him even more desirable.

Hannah never imagined she'd have a chance with someone like him. The scale doesn't even go high enough to rate Curtis, but that doesn't stop a Hannah from letting him show her everything she's been missing in life.

When secrets start pouring out, Hannah's world is rocked. Will Curtis' love be enough to put things back together? Or is she destined to live a meaningless life with strict rules to keep the dangers lurking in the world at bay?

And clearly, you need to see the book cover to make sure you're in the right place.

Oh, how about seeing the social cards I made with some quotes from the book?

Still not convinced to nominate? Did I mention that if the book is selected, once Kindle Scout publishes it, you get a FREE copy? Yes, a free copy of the fun and sexy tale of Hannah and Curtis. Need that link again? Here is is:

While I'm busy trying to promote and drive nominations, I've started working on the sequel. For those of you who follows me and my random ramblings, you know that means I've got a working cover going. I can't really say what I think the book is going to be about yet, because that would be a big spoiler to Blocked Shot, but I think it's going to be a fun, quirky little story.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Adulting is hard

I'm in my mid-thirties, so I like to think I've been doing this whole adult thing for a while now. I will say the word adulting gets on my nerves a little, but it's kind of how I feel right now.

You may have noticed I've been silent for a while - okay, a long while. I've continued to publish books, but my personal life, which you may know I rarely talk about, is a little rocky. My husband's vision has been funky for months now and we finally found out this week that it's because he's not getting blood to his eyes, and chances are good it means his arteries are on the no-blood-shall-pass side of things.

My hubby is a Scorpio, which if you are one or have had to live with one, I hope you know it generally means there's stubbornness involved in any decision-making. Surgery is not something he's game for, so I'm trying to get him to do some adjusting to his lifestyle. Believe me, that is almost a full-time job in itself.

I am still hard at work. I put a story I've had sitting around for a while (The Gray Side of Eden) up on Kindle Scout last weekend to see how it does. I haven't had much success there, but I'm sort of a glutton for rejection it seems.

I've also been working on two other books. Splitting the Defense is one of my contemporary romances that has a tie to my most favoritest sports, hockey. I'm hoping to get that published on Amazon this week.

The other book is the one that has probably suffered the most from my split focus. It's still in the early stages - even though I think I've finally played the plot out in my head. It's also my first real kind of YA or teen book, as the main character is in high school (even though she's over 200 years old). Can you guess this one isn't a contemporary romance?

I'm hoping to get some more time to work on writing, but I may be a little behind my goal for the year. Thank you all for your continued support!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Constantly moving forward

So, I think it's safe to say I have a problem. I can't stop writing things. That's not a bad problem to have when you've decided you like writing stories, but I seem to be easily distracted.

Case in point, I've recently been absorbed in various states of three different stories. I've heard other people do this, but I'm usually a work on one story until it's published, then move on to something new kind of person. I think it'd be better if the three stories were all in a series, but these guys cover very different story plots.

I'm sure you all know that I had From Earth to Oblivion in Kindle Scout for the last month or so, something that sadly didn't turn into a publishing contract, but that was fine. As I waited to hear what would happen there, I started a contemporary romance of the hockey variety that I've completely fallen in love with. That story has finished, gone through my first edits and a critique partner's perusal.

In the week or so since I liked where it was going, I had a dream that was so vivid I had to start writing about it, and have gotten about a quarter way through what I believe that book will be. It's in the sci-fi world, but my main character pushed for it to be written in first person, present tense, so it's been a lot of fun going back and forth between these three books.

Thankfully, I did publish From Earth to Oblivion, so one book is off my plate.

I've posted Delay of Game on WriteOn to hopefully get some more feedback. If you're interested in giving it a read, but don't want to click through the WriteOn site, let me know and I'll send you a copy.

Here's the very short blurb on the story:

Jason Miller’s life has been tilted on its axis, and then kicked to the curb for good measure. To say things haven’t gone his way would be an understatement, but eventually something has to work out for him. That’s what he’s hoping when he gives a cute bartender his number. He isn’t looking for more than someone outside of his teammates to spend some time with, but Hope may give him a little more than he’s expecting.

I'll say upfront that it's steamy. Here's the cover I'm working on for it, which hopefully gives you that idea.

Well, that's my update. I'll hopefully be checking in again soon.