Indie Spotlight on YA Author Piper Templeton

Rain Clouds and Waterfalls, is a coming-of-age novel told in linked short stories, with each story/chapter named for a Beatles song, that sets the theme of the chapter.  NOW AVAILABLE as an audio book as well.  You can get Rain Clouds and Waterfalls at Amazon and Audible.

The Beatles – Timeless Icons Who Influence Pop Culture Across Multiple Generations

The Beatles continue to influence pop culture as their music inspires and delights multiple generations.   I’ve been a witness to this phenomenon as I’ve seen three generations of families soaking up the unadulterated joy experienced at Paul McCartney concerts.  Their songs are part of our broad pop culture, and they also serve a more intimate purpose to many individuals:  The songs deliver comfort, wisdom, poignancy, and lots of smiles at the memories they invoke.

Their songs are embedded in our collective conscious and plant themselves into ordinary, everyday facets of our lives.  I pass a street sign every evening on my commute home from work named Blue Jay Way.  I often see salads on menus named Strawberry Fields. I have a container of popcorn sitting on my desk right now that I ordered from a Youth Group fundraiser.  The name of the popcorn?  Sergeant Salt & Pepper.

The Beatles have been a recurring presence in movies, whether through dialog, one of their songs playing, or actual footage. As a very recent example, in Twin Peaks:  The Return that recently aired, one character starts telling his work buddy about a dream.  After he recaps his dream, he starts telling the other that he woke up, and then he recites the middle part of “A Day in The Life”  “Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, found my way downstairs…”  The characters give each other a knowing grin.  In Boyhood, there’s a great scene where the dad makes his son a composite of Beatle solo songs that he calls “The Black Album” and walks his son through the rhyme and reason of it all.

Beatles songs play in the background of many films.  One of my favorite examples is the unforgettable parade scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.   Who can forget Ferris dancing away on a float to “Twist and Shout”?  In a somber example, the use of John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the end of The Killing Fields seared our memories and hit the perfect emotional note.

 

How could Forrest Gump guide us through the 1960s and 1970s without bumping into a Beatle?  I love the scene of the old Dick Cavett footage in which Forrest is superimposed over Yoko One, and he finds himself seated next to none other than John Lennon.  Through Q&A with the host, he then inadvertently inspires the lyrics to “Imagine.”  It’s priceless!

You can check out a detailed, lengthy montage of Beatles references in film from the SgtPepperChannel on You Tube.

On a more personal, intimate level, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’ve found that many of their songs function as a Greek chorus to my life.  “Take a sad song and make it better” from “Hey Judge” automatically plays in my head when I’m going through a difficult time.  One day I was driving to work after experiencing a crushing loss.  Weeks had passed since the ordeal, but when alone, I could not get past the crying part of the grief.  I would think about the loss, and the tears would surface.  One morning as the tears started filling my eyes, “All Things Must Pass” came on the radio, as if in direct response to my personal grief.  It helped put matters in perspective and offered me a handle on my grief.

When I think I’ve got my day and week all planned out, and chaos instead ensues, I hear John Lennon’s lyric from “Beautiful Boy” floating through my head:  “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”   When life deals blows that seem to come crushing down on me, I hear my Greek chorus again:  “Bang, bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer came down upon her head.”

The Beatles’ music has always been playing along either in the foreground or deep in the background as I journeyed through life.

BIO: Piper Templeton lives and works in the New Orleans area. A Liberal Arts graduate from the University of New Orleans, she loves writing fiction that mines beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary people’s lives. She combines her love of children and books by tutoring second graders in reading.

Other passions include animals, music, nature, long walks, and good laughs.

She developed a love for writing fiction in childhood and forayed into self-publishing in 2014 with her Beatles-inspired novel, Rain Clouds and Waterfalls. If you’d like to know more about Piper you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indie Spotlight Gothic Horror & Non-Fiction Author – Julie Ann Greenawalt Hacker

What Scares YOU!?

 

Someone recently asked, “As a spiritual-metaphysical-mystical author and life coach… …what scares you?

What I’ve noticed in life, is that many people freeze in the name of FEAR. I’m not referring to your everyday type of fear like the fear of death, or car accidents, or getting sick, spiders, or the dark, not phobias or catastrophic type of fears (these nemeses we’re born into and they appear on the outside of who we are in a physical sense); but un-explainable fears hidden in the deep wells of our sub-conscious—you know, that subtle torture you don’t even know about because it creeps up on you like a soft teddy bear in the night. And suddenly, when you finally wake from your deep slumber, you realize you’re snoozing alongside an angry, ravenous black bear.

  • This bear doesn’t care that you’ve ignored the deepest parts of you. He just wants to eat your fears as they pulse inside your body.
  • He wants you to be unaware of those dark crevasses so he can continue to feed, day-after-day, year-after-year; perhaps life-after-life. And, if you can picture your very own ‘Self’ or soul being an endless supply for the angry black bear because of the unwitting ways this world teaches us to survive and live…yeah, it can get pretty intense.
  • Now multiply that fear by billions of people and you’ll get the idea.
  • But yet, we still walk around everyday either ignoring it or not being able to identify why something is “off.” This is the hidden fear.

Unidentified, this silent enemy caresses the soul deep inside and lulls us into an obscure manipulation of what we call reality. These fears creep out all over the place without our acknowledgement.

Now, picture that nasty black bear as another human being. FEAR of succumbing to the belief that another being, whether human or otherwise, would willingly suck the soul right out of your mind and body, if left to do so, is pretty scary. (This is one of the few things that used to scare the hell out of me.) And I believe these are our most ultimate questions:

Why does this happen?

What is doing it?

And how do we stop it?

The process used by these people or unidentified forces can be very clever, unless you learn what to look for.

I know, I know. This all sounds a little esoteric and whoo hoo. But, when you take the time to inspect it, I mean, get really close to it, and someone can guide you there so you’re not all alone, the sting of fear diminishes.

The headlines of my own life drove me to contemplate those very questions. And, what I found out about myself and the world blew my mind.

This is why I write Gothic horror, non-fiction/self-help, blog, and coach people just like any one reading this who can’t identify the reasons why they’re stuck in life keeping them from Stalking their own life PATH!

So, my ultimate message for this post is:

You exist in time, but you belong in eternity’s loveliness. Find the fearful secrets that keep you from being free, then, don’t be afraid of releasing them, they’re not your friends, and allow them to disintegrate forever.

Best in all your Re-WILDing & Path STALKing,

Julie Ann

!!BIG HUGS & THANK YOUs to my dear friend ANITA RODGERS for giving me this opportunity to guest post on her blog!!

If you’d like to know more about Julie Ann, her books, or her Wild Beautiful You movement connect with her on her website and facebook.

Free gifts for you!

As a special thank you to my readers, Julie Ann is offering a free PDF copy of Re-WILD Your ‘SELF’ & Stalk Your PATH! web-book, which you can get by signing up at her website.

And a free PDF copy of The Dead Dance Faster: Unsacred Awakening her awesome scary Gothic-horror novel, which you can get by emailing her at: julieann@wildbeautifulyou.com  (or by contacting her me via WBY!’s contact form on the site).

Indie Spotlight on Traci Sanders: Ten Tips I Learned About Publishing a Book

Today’s guest post is from author Traci Sanders, on the topic of publishing. Her new book, Beyond the Book” is currently available at Amazon in both print and digital. Take it away Traci.

At the time of writing this book, I have self-published eight books in various genres. (romance, parenting, children’s, and now nonfiction/tutorial) Each book that I released taught me a little more about the industry, my strengths and weaknesses as an author, and relationships with my friends and family.

Here are a few things I have learned since becoming an indie author:

1.      Writing the book, for most authors, is the easy part.

2.      Some authors edit their own work, and do a great job. But I have learned that professional editing does pay off, and IT’S NOT THE SAME as general (or even college-level) editing. These guys know more about comma splices, fused sentences, correct tense, passive and active voice, and the use of single and double quotation marks than most authors. Most of them became editors because they enjoy the technical side of writing, whereas most authors simply enjoy the creative side. This is not to say that there aren’t some excellent author-editor superheroes out there. But chances are, they either received formal training on editing, or they took the time to research the process and became better with each book they published.

3.      The cool thing about researching editing tips is, once you learn them, you tend to not forget them, which saves you time and money on future published books.

4.      Most authors are too close to their own work, and too emotionally invested in it to be able to edit thoroughly. Many times, it’s because they know their story inside and out, and tend to skip right past common errors – such as passive voice, proper tense, and omitted words.

5.      Asking for reviews from friends and family is like asking them to help you move. They love you, and want to help, and even want to be able to come visit you in your new home from time to time (i.e. – read your book); but if it conflicts with their lives or schedule, it’s probably not going to happen.

6.      Friends and family are not always going to tell you when your book needs work, again, because they love you.

7.      Marketing is an everyday endeavor that most authors dread; however, the greater level of online presence and engagement you have, the higher your sales will be. And you will receive more reviews.

8.      Success doesn’t usually happen overnight, but new connections that lead to success, can!

9.      Supporting others goes a long way in the industry. One hand washes another. Eventually, YOU will be the one with clean hands! Until then, you must keep digging in the trenches.

If writing is your dream, just keep at it. Passion tends to be an infectious thing … it eventually spreads to others. If you write what you are passionate about, eventually, you will find others who share your passion!

From Writer Chick: If you have any questions about indie publishing, please feel free to post them in the comments and Traci will respond.

 

Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies.

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

 

From conquering fear to business models that don’t react – best reads of the week

It’s been a while since I’ve done a link post – and I think I want to get that back in on this blog. The holidays and general craziness is over for now, so time to get back to basics. Following are some super reads that I wanted to share.

Overcoming Fear by Jo Eberhardt. This has to be one of the best things I’ve ever read on overcoming our own doubts about ourselves. I actually cried as I read this heartfelt and often funny story. Do yourself a favor and read it – it will make your day, put a little bounce in your step and lift your head just a little higher.

THE E-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION IS DEFINITELY NOT OVER (Regardless of what you’ve heard)
Literary Agent Laurie McLean, is pretty sure the ePub revolution is not over and that Indies still have some serious say in the world of books.

75 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. Yup that’s right WiseInk has 75 resolutions from which to choose that you could conquer this year. I have to admit, there were quite a few I think I’m going for.

9 Ways To Make Your Author Resource Box Sizzle by Publicist Joan Stewart. You know she has some great examples of the mini bios that authors can do for various platforms. Some of them really quite good.

Business Musings: The Reactive Business Model by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It’s a long read and there was a lot of ‘back story’ to get to the point but when she gets there, it’s worth the trip. And I couldn’t agree more with her.

As a little bit of further inspiration, I tossed in this trailer for a movie called, “Joy,” which I just saw this afternoon. If you are someone with a dream, I highly recommend the film. One of the most inspirational stories I’ve seen in a long time.

Have a great week.

Annie

The Unvarnished Truth – Do We Want it?

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Porter Anderson wrote a very thought-provoking post on Writer Unboxed the other day: Truth Be Told? Truth Is on Thin Ice.

He opens with a formula for ‘authenticity’ as developed by branding expert, Marc Ecko, which is this:

Authenticity is equal to your unique voice,
multiplied by truthfulness,
plus your capacity for change,
multiplied by range of emotional impact,
raised to the power of imagination.

And then Porter uses this formula to springboard into the main topic, which is truth in publishing. And poses these questions:

How good are you at truthfulness? Why don’t we tell the truth more in publishing? And especially in writing?

He answers them in part by using his own experiences from an event called Author Day that he put on in London. Long story short, during the conference things were said that were kind and encouraging, afterward criticism was launched from the same people that was not so kind.

And then he makes the point that many of us have made. We say things that we don’t mean about books we don’t read, to be nice. Or write reviews that a more glowing than they should be, and so it goes. And it’s of course, something that all of us have done. We have our reasons. Maybe to be nice. Maybe to avoid conflict. Maybe because we’re worried that if we are totally truthful, someone may turn around and do the same to us. And each person has their own version of truthfulness, and some versions can be quite devastating.

The Truth Bureau – are we ready for it?

Ultimately, Porter suggests developing what he calls the Truth Bureau. A group of anonymous readers who agree to give the unvarnished truth about books that are submitted for their critique. The books of course would be anonymous too, with no clue as to the author or any other identifying data that might give a clue. This would then ensure that we could learn the real truth about our books. It would possibly be set up as a service for which authors would pay. All from the view of course, of improving their work.

I found this to be a very interesting idea. Certainly on the face of it, there is a lot of potential to opening the doors of truly improving our work. And I don’t know any writer who is serious about their craft who doesn’t want to be better than they are. It’s a natural desire for any artist to strive for improvement – otherwise, you are in essence just phoning it in. And what writer worth their weight in words wants that?

Of course there is the bugaboo of having yet another thing that we indies must pay for. And you can’t swing a dead cat (sorry cat lovers) without hitting some guy with a service that guarantees he will realize your writer dreams. There’s even one guy out there promising people he will make you a best selling author on Amazon – even if you hate to write. Think about that one for a minute. Gives one pause, doesn’t it?

The other main stumbling block, I believe to something like the Truth Bureau is I think, human nature. We can be quite cruel to one another, especially when anonymous. The Internet is teeming with trolls and flamers and people who love to visit their hatred on poor unsuspecting strangers. The whole review system online is problematic. There are so many concerns people have; if they are authors they know that whatever they say online can be found and used against them; writers are cautioned against responding to negative reviews; and conversely I’ve seen writers attack reviewers, which only ends up making people think twice about writing them. And the list goes on. And what’s to say that people wouldn’t sign up to be an anonymous reviewer just to get their hate on?

Likely a service like this would have better oversight than Amazon, where anybody can lob hate bombs with impunity, but there would still probably be damage done before they were removed from participating.

What about a co-op?

Personally, I do like the idea of a Truth Bureau because it has great potential to help authors and thusly readers. Perhaps a co-op of writers and readers who are not completely anonymous but instead are committed to truthfulness. With a list of criteria to follow in their critiques, to avoid the feedback from becoming personal would work. The names of the authors could be left off, so that wouldn’t act as influence and perhaps the reader picks a genre that they read and gets a choice of 3 or 4 titles to choose from. Or perhaps I’ve just described a critique group. Not sure.

I do agree with Porter though, who I believe to be one of the good guys out there, telling the truth as best he can. We need more truth online in general, and in publishing specifically. The current review system is broken. Is is unpoliced and you honestly have no idea what you’ll get. Good. Bad. Hate. Love. It’s all up for grabs. And a crap shoot at best.

In the meantime

But in the meantime, given the way things are currently I will probably still continue to give overly nice reviews. Sorry but I’d rather be safe than sorry. Even with authors I don’t know, I am ever aware of the fact that if I’m too honest I will be attacked whether by the author or their fans or someone else. So, for now, I won’t write the unvarnished truth. Is this wrong? Perhaps. But in my experience, it is the rare person who wants the total truth about their creations. And sometimes a little truth goes a long way.

What about you? Are you totally truthful in critiquing another’s work? Are your reviews/critiques overly nice? Short and sweet? Any ideas on how a Truth Bureau could work? Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments.

Note: I’m offline for a few days but will happily respond to any comments when I return.

Annie

What to expect when you self publish

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Self publishing is a new thing to me. Very new. But I have to say even in a few days I’ve learned a lot. I humbly pass what I’ve learned onto you:

Things will go wrong. For example when I sent the check to the formatters to have my files converted to digital files, little did I know that Florida would have a week of heavy rain, flooding and delayed mail delivery. It set my schedule back nearly a week.

You’ll learn what sleep deprivation really means. I haven’t slept in two weeks. My dog is afraid of my cat hides and me whenever she sees me coming. Although the hallucinations are interesting and might make for some good inspiration for a horror story somewhere down the line.

You’ll have energy you don’t know what to do with. All the hype all the anticipation all the worry, excitement, and jitters do not go away after you press publish. Actually, it is set free and you’ll find yourself wandering around thinking you have something to do when you don’t. Everything you attempt to do will go unfinished and your attention span will have reduced to that of a gnat.

Your expectations won’t be met. You’ve told yourself you won’t expect anything. You’ll publish and see what happens. But you do expect things. No matter how hard you try to act casual, you won’t be feeling it. You’ll wonder why your aunt Myrna didn’t buy a copy of the book. Why everyone you ever met hasn’t called or sent you a congrats email, why everybody else is going about their business as though nothing has happened.

You’ll have yet another thing to obsess about. Yup, just what you need. A new obsession. That shiny object is known as the Amazon author dashboard. In real time, you can watch your sales and page reads change. Or not. Or not fast enough. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll only check it twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But you’ll check it every hour. Every half hour. Every five minutes. It’s too cool not to be obsessed by it. It’s the magic of technology.

You’ll want to cry – if you’re a guy, you may want to punch something. You won’t necessarily know why you want to cry. And you’ll resist it. You’ll try to reason with yourself. Convince yourself there is nothing to cry about. That everything is going fine. But it won’t matter because all that stress, worry, anticipation will have you hopping around like a Mexican jumping bean. Let yourself. Cry. Cry it all out. Or punch something – not a human of course, but walls can be repaired, punching bags are made for such things. You’ll feel a bit better afterward. Really, you will.

You’ll feel like you should be doing something but you won’t know what it is. Leading up to publishing you’ve had a list and you proudly checked off each item as you accomplished it. Now, you don’t know what to do. Should you keep tweeting and face booking your carefully constructed promos banner one more time? Should you do the laundry that has been piling up for a month? Should you try to get your cat out from under the bed. Chances are you’ll just check your sales dashboard again and alternate that with playing online solitaire or mahjong..

You’ll think of details you should’ve added to the books, or edited out or changed. You may even be tempted to take the book down and do another round of edits before re-publishing. Your mind is a cesspool of shoulda, woulda, coulda.

How to get some perspective

Okay so this completely new world of self-publishing is exciting but now that you’ve done it, clearly you’ve got a case of the crazies. And if you don’t get hold of yourself, you may end up

It’s understandable. You’ve spent months maybe even years preparing for this and now that’s it has happened you don’t know what to do with yourself. The following may help:

Tear yourself away from all of it. Yup. Go to the beach, go hiking, check into a motel in the mountains for a couple of days. Unplug. Leave your devices at home, or at least locked in your trunk – and forget about all of it for a little while. You may go through a little withdrawal, but after a few hours, you’ll feel better.

Stop stalking your friends and relatives with helpful suggestions on how they can buy your book. Chances are, most of them probably will – eventually. But people resist being told what to do. If you leave them to their own devices, they’ll come around. And some of them won’t. And you have to be okay with that. Though this is a milestone in your life, it’s just one more detail that buzzes by them in a blur.

Come up with a plan. After you’ve gotten some sleep, some space and some decent food, sit down and come up with a rational plan on how you will promote your book (if you haven’t already). Even if you had a plan before publishing, now that you’ve had a taste of the reality, you may need to tweak it. If you simply don’t know what to do spend some time on blogs of those who have blazed the trail already: Anne R. Allen, Hugh Howey, Chuck Wendig and Joe Konrath all have great blogs filled with useful advice for self publishers.

Start your next book. This may sound crazy. You’ve just spent months, maybe years writing the book you just published and I’m suggesting you start your next one? Yup. That’s right. If you are in this for the long haul, the next book should be foremost on your mind. When readers discover you and like your work, they’ll want more. Be ready for them. It’ll also give you something to focus on and pour all that crazy random energy into and likely be a calming influence in your life.

Keep notes. After you publish, keep a log of all the promo actions you do – large and small. Because I guarantee if you see a spike in sales, you’ll want to know what caused it. If you have a record of the actions you’ve taken, you’ll be much more able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Above all else, don’t become discouraged. Nothing happens overnight. Even though it may appear to be that way. It just isn’t true. There may always be the exception to the rule, but chances are you won’t be that exception. Chances are you are going to have to work hard, go through a lot of trial and error, fail and succeed continually to get to that sweet spot. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good, that your books aren’t good, that people don’t want to read them. It just means there is a learning and experience curve. Slow and steady wins the race, or something like that.

Be proud of yourself. You did it. You had the courage and persistence to write that book, polish that book and publish that book. Of the millions of people who ‘want’ to write a book, you are one of the few who did. Be proud. That is an accomplishment. Now go write the next one.

Annie

Who Won the Hugos, Why it Matters & Other Good Stuff

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Who won science fiction’s Hugo Awards and why it matters. By Amy Wallace. A very long and detailed article about the controversy leading up to the Hugos and the results. For me, it provided some clarity on what all the ‘debating’ has been about over these last several months. Good read, but it’s a long read, so get comfy.

Simple Promo Tip: Nailing Your Email Subject Line by Sharon Bially. Nice, straightforward advice on email marketing for authors.

The Holy Grail for Authors. 5 Reasons to Self Publish by Sheri McInnis. Trad published author is going indie – she tells us why.

Six Magic Phrases You Can Use to Sell More Books by Sandra Beckwith. Yes, yes, and yes.

Best Colors for Book Covers. Is a great little gem that discusses basic design, color choices and images for book covers. Highly recommend. 😀

Meanwhile, I’m on track to make my August 30th deadline. Stay tuned.

Annie

Like a chimp in a china shop

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So in my quest to actually get my books published and introduced to the world this week, I endeavored to put together an email, announcing the same.

If you’re like me, with little to no design experience or savvy you’re probably smart to set up one of those email services. They have templates with simple drag and drop functions and/or themes so it’s just a matter of putting your marketing email together and moving on to the next step in your marketing strat.

And that’s just what I did. I set up a Mail Chimp account and played around with a few elements and figured it’d be a slam dunk. Easy-peasy. I had a nifty little promo piece I was going to slide in there with a little copy and that would be it. Bada-boom,bada-bing, right?

Not so much. The ‘simple’ drag and drop method of building an email template turned out to be not so simple after all. I was dragging but the components weren’t dropping. Or they were dropping in the wrong place. And I couldn’t get my promo piece to look right. And the pictures of the books had to be resized but they looked all wrong.

So I scratched my original concept and went with one of their ‘themes.’ Piece of cake, right? Not for me. The templates are comprised of a text blocks, images, and elements with certain specs. If your text and images don’t fit, you have to cut, resize, drag, and pray it’ll work. In my case – it didn’t. Certain things just didn’t want to drop or drag where I wanted them to be, so in frustration I’d delete the element. But then it would leave a white space that I simply couldn’t get rid of no matter what I did. I think I tried every theme and template they had but nothing came out right.

I’d also forwarded a few of the test emails to a couple of friends for feedback. One of my friends couldn’t see the images and had just big gaping blank spaces to look at.

After eight hours of fiddling with emails and sending test emails to myself to see how my emails looked (dreadful) I was about as coherent as a monkey who’d over indulged in banana brandy and a box of chocolates.

But I wasn’t willing to give up because I have many other things to do and wouldn’t have time to deal with it later. As a last ditch attempt I went with a simple text template and that was better. Still there was work to be done.
So this morning, I figured it out and I think I have a simple, easy to read email that looks pretty good. Well…okay, anyway.

The take-aways

If you’re like me and really don’t know or understand design, even the simple drag and drop method can be daunting and yield crappy results. And you can spend hours driving yourself mad and still not get the results you want. What worked for me was:

  • Use the simple text template. You can still add images, text blocks, social sharing buttons, etc. But since it’s very bare bones you won’t have to worry about getting rid of or reordering things that exist in a theme or dealing with a predetermined layout.
  • Resize you images in another program. If you don’t have the software on your own computer, there are a couple of online sites where you can effectively resize images that look good. Pxlr and iPiccy were the two that worked best for me.
  • Use no more than three images. Part of my problem was that I was trying to put too many images in one little email. The result was a cluttered mess. When I let go of the idea of having to use my existing promo piece and just used the cover images for the books, the email instantly looked cleaner and more focused. So pick the three best images you have or want to use and save the other images for other venues.
  • Design your layout before you start working on it. I found that simply opening a Word Doc and rearranging the text, headlines and images until I found the layout I liked made it much easier to put the actual email template together. I just kept it open and referred to it as I was building the email.
  • Less is more. When you’re anticipating releasing a book or a product that you’ve spent a long time working on, it’s natural to want to make a big splash. But let’s be real. We all get a bazillion emails a day, most of which is some type of advertising or another. So don’t turn your email into a web page. Just give them the basics – some nice images, a couple of snappy headlines, good interest-peaking text, and how they can get what you’re offering.

How about you? Have any tips on putting together a nice email to promote your book? Ever sent one that was a disaster? What happened? Tell us in the comments.

Annie

Writing, secrets and self-publishing

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Much of the creative world is built around secrets. Creatives and those who market, manage, and leverage them are very hush-hush about projects – lest someone steal it or leak it. Surprise I suppose is the proffered reason. And controlling the message. And probably most important – ensuring no one else beats you to the punch.

The publishing industry is no exception to the rule. Which may be why so many authors find it exceedingly difficult to break in to the inner circle of successful authorship. And even of those authors who do manage to break in, the majority of them:

  • Make little to no money
  • Don’t gain a strong readership
  • Lose their rights to their work for life
  • Never get to quit their day jobs

Although many mainstream best-selling authors offer advice, write books, create courses, and espouse formulas that they followed to become successful – as far as I can tell – these offerings do little to nothing to help hopeful authors actually succeed.

Independent authors exceptions to rule

Then Amazon did this wild and crazy thing – they created an eReader. And then created a platform for writers to publish and sell their own works to a practically limitless audience. And authors started to succeed on their own where the publishing industry had let them down.

Say what you will about indie authors and criticize them all you like but in my mind there is a significant difference between them and mainstream traditional authors. They talk. They don’t keep secrets. Most of them will tell you everything they did, with copious details, to succeed. Because they aren’t beholding to a publishing company or contract. They are free to create and share any and all of their experiences. Often with wild abandon. Because they want to help other authors succeed. And they want readers to have more choices. Secrets by and large don’t seem to matter to them. Go figure. More books, more choices, more readers seem to be the priorities.

Indie author up close and personal

I’m about to self publish a 3-book mystery series and as part of my prep leading into the release of the books I have a list. One of the things on that list was to pick a successful indie author and study them. So last week I picked a well-known indie author and read his entire blog. It took me about five days to read five years of blog posts. I was totally immersed in this fellow’s world and journey for nearly a week and I have to say I learned a lot:

The good

The good news is that anyone who is willing to do the work, can publish and succeed. And that success can be and should be defined by the author. You want to be a best seller? Great then go for it. You’d be happy to be a working author who can quit your day job and live on your author earnings – you can do that too. As long as you do the work.

The bad

You have to do the work. You have to make choices. Sacrifices. You won’t get there by turning out one book every two years. You won’t get there by sitting around playing video games. If you don’t approach it as a business and accept that you are also a publisher and have all the attendant duties and obligations of a publisher it won’t happen. And it can and probably will take years. It ain’t a sprint, it’s definitely a marathon.

The elating

There is no editorial censoring. You can write the stories that you want to write. The stories you feel you were meant to write. You don’t have to write formulaic drivel because that’s what sells. You can maintain your own true voice and creative integrity. And you can find a readership who wants to read your stories.

The frightening

It’s all on you. There are no editors or publishers to blame. There are no agents to bitch about. There is only you, your work, the quality of your work and your own marketing efforts. And luck too plays a part. Being at the right place at the right time. That is something over which you have no control.

The take away

I believe the one thing that all indie authors have in common is a pioneer spirit. Though they may be nervous or afraid they are still willing to explore the unknown. To blaze new trails. To go in their own direction and take a risk on themselves. To invest in themselves. And to accept each step as its own lesson, even if that step fails. They may not succeed but it won’t be for any want of trying. And if they do then that success is all the sweeter because they did it their way. They bet on themselves and won.

Is self-publishing for everyone?

I don’t know. But I don’t think that it is. There are some authors who want the security of a publishing company. They want to have someone else provide the infrastructure and follow a game plan that in large part is set by someone else. Or perhaps they need someone to keep them on the path, to issue deadlines, to insist they do the work. When you self-publish that all falls on your shoulders. There is no one watching to make sure you do what you’re supposed to do. That you keep writing, that you continue to produce, sell, market and do the work. And that’s fine. All authors should follow the path that works for them. If you want a publisher then absolutely go that way. If you’re willing to take all the risks yourself then go that way. The great thing is that you can choose and aren’t forced into choosing a path you don’t want.

So as I approach my own self-publishing adventure, I look forward to it with elation and fear. I truly have no idea what will happen. Or if anything will happen. Not one clue. It’s a crap shoot for sure. And I’ve already started the next series because that’s what I do. Write. Will I ever be on that list of best-selling indie authors? It’s anybody’s guess. But like they say, go big or stay home. Right?

How about you? What do you think about indie authors? Are you an indie author. Do you plan to self publish? Or have you already? Any tips or lessons learned you’d like to share?

Jane Friedman Gives us the Lowdown on How Your Book Becomes a Movie – and other cool stuff

movies
How a Book Becomes a Movie by Jane Friedman. Dream of your book someday becoming a movie? Jane gives you the lowdown on how the moon, stars and Hollywood all have to align to make that happen. Excellent read.

The Future Is Freelance by John Bond. Mr. Bond gives us five good and sound reasons why more and more the publishing biz will be and is using freelancers. I say hooray.

Japanese readers spend the most on electronic books from Business Insider. Interesting, the favored book format in Japan is eBooks. Can’t say that doesn’t make me happy.

How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health by Michael Grothaus. “Reading doesn’t just improve your knowledge, it can help fight depression, make you more confident, empathetic, and a better decision maker.” Fascinating and insightful article about some heretofore unknown (at least to me) side benefits of reading.

A few thoughts on new writers and “doing everything right” by Kristen Painter. Sage and straight from the hip advice. Good one.

Just for fun: If you’re stuck trying to come up with a super villain, this villain generator may be just the ticket or a time suck. Up to you.

Meanwhile, I’m working on getting my series release ready to shoot out into the universe. That could be fun. More details later.

Have a great week everybody.

Writer Chick