Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why a Negative Review isn't Bad

When authors see a negative review, their first knee-jerk reaction is to curl up in a ball and cry. If they can contact the reviewer, they might even request the review be removed. Let’s talk about why this is not a good idea.

I had this happen to me earlier this year. I wrote a 2-star review on a book that broke down why I personally did not like the book. The author asked me to remove the review and I made the mistake of doing so. It is now a policy on my site to never remove a review again. Why? Because negative reviews aren’t bad.

In the short amount of time the review was live on my site, it attracted a lot of attention. Maybe it was because I rarely post 2-star reviews. No matter the reason, I was told by several people they wanted to buy the book and check it out for themselves as the idea of the book itself intrigued them. Once they discovered the review had been removed, they immediately backpedaled, took note of the author, and immediately decided to never read any of their books again. So the removal of that review hurt the author more than they know.

What authors need to keep in mind is that a review is the opinion of a single person. The book wasn’t my cup of tea and I said so right out. However, it had a lot of positive reviews across the board and I admitted I was obviously the odd man out and the book should be looked into. 

In a discussion that ensued after I commented on removing the review to a group of writers, I learned something. Most people, when they’re looking at an indie author, ignore the 5-star and 1-star reviews. They go looking specifically for the 4, 3, and 2-star reviews. Why? Because they see those as the most HONEST reviews of the group. They love the 2-star reviews because they can scan why the readers gave the book that rating. If someone mentioned they didn’t like it because of certain scenes, but those same scenes don’t bother the potential reader, then they’re more likely to buy the book and read it. However, if someone mentions something like animal cruelty, and the potential reader agrees with that statement, then they know to steer clear. Same goes with comments about excessive errors in the book. Readers will steer clear of those as well. The only time they will overlook those is if the review goes on to state that the story line was still so amazing, it was worth it. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Very few authors are talented enough to overcome that one.

So while a 2-star rating might stab at the author’s heart, NEVER request the reviewer remove the review. NEVER get into an argument with the reviewer over it. Let it stand on its own merits. While it might sting, you never know when what the person said in that review is the exact thing that makes someone buy your book. Those so-called “negative” reviews hold more power than you realize, and it’s not all bad.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Insanity that is the Holidays!

Looks like I'm in charge of the blog this week. I hope you'll forgive me for not posting this week. In fact, I challenge you to unplug and spend some quality time with your loved ones. No matter what your religious beliefs may be, family is more important than anything else. Always. Not just this time of year.
I'm going to enjoy doing all kinds of fun things with these folks this week. In fact, we are unplugging from the internet and putting our phones in a drawer Wednesday through Saturday! Hopefully we won't die from the withdrawals, but when life doesn't give you the time to relax drastic measures MUST be taken.

Today we started making yummy things for our neighbors. We just moved onto a new street and thought this might be a fun way to meet them...
And yes, my new house currently doesn't have a kitchen with: floors, countertops, or a cooktop stove. :)

Seriously, my kids love doing this. Nothing is hard. All you need is various chocolates, butterscotch chips, whatever, and a microwave. We've got three kinds of dipped pretzels, dipped graham crackers, peanut butter on Ritz crackers dipped in chocolate, and homemade peppermint bark. Tomorrow we'll make cookies and then spread some holiday cheer.

Hope that you have a wonderful season filled with love and joy!
See you next week.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Miscellaneous Tips

In my non-writer life, I have a small handknit business. (Shameless plug. Here's the link to it.) Recently, I got new book on social media marketing.

 Online Marketing for your Craft Business

As I read, I realized that many of the outlined strategies would work for marketing an author and/or a book. The basic ideas are the same, really. Anyone can go on Twitter and constantly tweet, "Buy my book." But that's not going to get us anywhere.

The book was packed with a bunch of information about online marketing that I'd never heard before. (It also went over some ideas that I was quite familiar with.) I've only managed to share a small portion of the ideas this week, so if this has whetted your appetite for more information on online marketing, be sure to look for other resources.

There were a few other ideas that don't merit their own post but were things that I found to be useful.

  • When choosing a link for your profile page on a social network, link to your blog or other website. If you just link to your book, people are more likely to click away. On your own blog, people are more likely to stick around for a bit.
  • Set realistic goals as to how much time you have to devote to networking. If you only have an hour every couple days, make that time work for you.
  • Find the "influencers" and engage with them. Influencers have highly engaged followers who can be useful in getting the word out about your book. 
  • "If it feels spammy, it probably is."
  • It's a good idea to schedule posts for different times of the day. Once you figure out when your ideal readers are online, you can make sure to have new posts for them.
Whether you have a book out right now or not, you can start networking and building your platform. These are a few ways you can begin.

What have I missed? What other tips do you have to share?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Marketing Goals

In my non-writer life, I have a small handknit business. (Shameless plug. Here's the link to it.) Recently, I got new book on social media marketing.

 Online Marketing for your Craft Business

As I read, I realized that many of the outlined strategies would work for marketing an author and/or a book. The basic ideas are the same, really. Anyone can go on Twitter and constantly tweet, "Buy my book." But that's not going to get us anywhere.

How do you know if your efforts are paying off? You need to set specific goals for your social networking and then track them.

Google Analytics is a good place to start.

What are your social networking goals? Of course you want people to buy your book, but you also want to keep them engaged with you so that they're around to buy your next book and the book after that. Engaging with people on Facebook, Twitter, or any other site is good. Getting them to follow your blog is good too.

But one thing the book was big on was newsletters. And newsletters make more sense for writers, really. You can send out snippets, scenes, deleted scenes, and short stories. You can let your followers know when you're having a sale on your book and when you have a new book coming out.

How many people sign up for your newsletter is something you can track.

By tracking your efforts, you can see what things work for you and what things don't. You'll have hard data. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Building a Relationship Online

In my non-writer life, I have a small handknit business. (Shameless plug. Here's the link to it.) Recently, I got new book on social media marketing.

 Online Marketing for your Craft Business

As I read, I realized that many of the outlined strategies would work for marketing an author and/or a book. The basic ideas are the same, really. Anyone can go on Twitter and constantly tweet, "Buy my book." But that's not going to get us anywhere.

Once you've targeted potential readers, you want to convert them into fans. And this is a process. It takes time.

It does not involve frequent "buy my book" posts.

The key is engagement. Answer questions posed by other posters. "Like" things. Comment on others' posts. "Retweet." Share.

Be interested. Participate.

Be yourself, but a professional version. It's fine to offer a glimpse of you, in fact, it's what will connect more people to you.

Share things you find interesting. Remember your reader profile? Share things that person might find interesting.

And the "buy my book" posts? They can happen. Just not frequently.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The ABCs

In my non-writer life, I have a small handknit business. (Shameless plug. Here's the link to it.) Recently, I got new book on social media marketing.

 Online Marketing for your Craft Business

As I read, I realized that many of the outlined strategies would work for marketing an author and/or a book. The basic ideas are the same, really. Anyone can go on Twitter and constantly tweet, "Buy my book." But that's not going to get us anywhere.

Once you have some idea who your ideal readers are and where you can find them online, you'll want to get them to interact with you. The end goal is for them to buy your book (and hopefully leave a glowing review). You're looking for those who will become your fans.

But this is a process. The idea is to create a relationship. In marketing-speak, the steps for the formation of this relationship are the ABCs. Acquisition. Behavior. Conversion.

Acquisition. You want to find people who may like your book. You want them to follow you.

Behavior. You've got followers, but do they really read your tweets? You want people to engage with you. You want to draw them in and get them to pay attention to you.

You want to get a conversation going. Virtually. Get them to read your blog posts. Comment. Perhaps subscribe to a newsletter. Get them to "know" you, so when you publish a new book, they feel invested.

Conversion. You've drawn them in, and now they want to buy your book. They want to review it for you. They want to tell their friends about you.

These are the steps you take as you build your online presence. Having lots of followers is great, but it's much better to have fewer committed followers than a lot of random "likes" from people who never pay attention to anything you post. It's like making friends in the virtual world.

One of the big things in getting someone from A to B to C is to be a part of the conversation. Social media is about access. You want to get to know your readers. (More on this tomorrow.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Ideal Reader

In my non-writer life, I have a small handknit business. (Shameless plug. Here's the link to it.) Recently, I got new book on social media marketing.

 Online Marketing for your Craft Business

As I read, I realized that many of the outlined strategies would work for marketing an author and/or a book. The basic ideas are the same, really. Anyone can go on Twitter and constantly tweet, "Buy my book." But that's not going to get us anywhere.  

One way of targeting the sort of people who might want to buy your book is to create an ideal customer reader profile. Of course, we would like everyone to buy our books, but in reality there are some people who will not enjoy them. So, why spend time trying to get our message to those who won't want to buy our books?

To create the profile, you answer a few questions based on who you think your book will appeal to, such as: 
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they care about?
  • Hobbies/activities
  • Occupations
  • Ambitions & dreams
  • TV shows they enjoy
  • What irritates them?
Of course, you might have more than one "ideal", and it's fine to create a couple different profiles. What should get your attention are things like hobbies/activities and what TV shows they enjoy. Why? Because that's one way to find possible readers.

You want to find readers who may not be familiar with your work. Where do they congregate online? This is one good place to start.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Marketing Fails

You can write the perfect book, pick a perfect cover, and format without mistakes. But marketing your book like a shopper on Black Friday at Target won’t get you where you want to be.

Social Media. I like Facebook for family, friends, news, and postings. Plus I do a little marketing also. I belong to several groups like Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors, Book Trailer Videos, Aspiring Authors, and Book Promotion. Information is traded, advice given, views exchanged. I enjoy them and comment, offering back in full measure what I am given.

But some don’t use these sites as an introduction. They plaster their books onto the sites then leave without giving back to the community.

Like the crows on my front lawn, they squawk a couple times, leave their deposit, and fly away.

Twitter is worse. There’s hardly any conversation at all over there. I’ve stopped cruising that social media except for breaking news.

If you are a writer, join these groups, participate, become a “name” and active member. People will remember you and behave accordingly. To drop your pile and fly off is rude.

In the same vein: Over-marketing, or plastering your book on all groups on the same day. Too much is never the way to go.

Politics and Push Button Issues. I have an uncle who is set in his ways. His mind is made up on all issues, and he is the reigning authority in all ways...at least in his own viewpoint. He isn’t above telling everyone how wrong they are on any subject, especially politics. Arguing with him takes both of you down a dark, circular track with no end or beginning. 

To my way of thinking, expressing opinions on red-hot issues of the day or stupid things said by presidential candidates goes down that same path. It isn’t productive.

I loved one author like mad and bought anything and everything he wrote. Then he started preaching. And not just a page or chapter but the whole book. I titled my review of his last book Shut Up and Sing and stopped buying.

You can bet that half of your fans think differently than you do. Why alienate them? I have very strong feelings about certain issues and candidates. I do try to keep a handle on my effusions but sometimes those opinions eek out.

Tips for the Professional Writer.

If you really want good stuff to read—and who doesn’t—help and encourage writers. Offer to critique. Be ready with advice when asked. 

Our reward is books that keep us reading until 2 am.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

History, Indies, and How to Kill a Career

I am a professional writer. And an Indie. 

I arrived at this stage because my small publisher went out of business last spring. At that time, I had to make a decision: research other small publishers to submit my books. Or self-publish. I chose the latter.

I started this journey in 2009 by writing an 110,000-word manuscript called Of Oak and Dragons. I submitted to various agents because THAT was how it was done. It didn't go as planned. After I received fifty rejections, I wrote a second manuscript. I quit counting the no thank you responses after 144. 

My writing career was going nowhere so I took a chance on small press and hit a ground-rule double into the right field. But Musa Publishing closed their doors suddenly and I was out of a home. Unless I made one for myself.

Six years ago, self-publishing was no different from vanity press in the eyes of literary agents and publishers. Small presses met with curled lips and disgust like the popular kids judging a new girl. Definitely a hierarchy with a touch of snobbery. Writers who weren’t published received no interest...because they weren’t published. Submission rules stated unpublished writers need not apply. 

Print was still big. BookSurge and Createspace were in the process of merging. Amazon was just realizing their behemoth status. Out of the roiling sea, E-books were rising and shaking the foam from their hoary crowns.

Then Amanda Hocking hit the scene. In 2010, she self-published My Blood Approves and started a mega-business all her own. It was the right book, the right genre at the right time.

Self-publishing pushed aside the popular kids, ignored their huffing, derogatory comments, and became an industry.

What a great time to be an author, to have the choices we now have.

But many don’t have patience. They see the success of a few examples and ignore the failures. They write a manuscript and publish without betas, critique partners, grammar, and creative writing ability. They want it all. Now.

When I stop reading:

Way Too Much Makeup, aka Adjectives and Adverbs. First-time writers think adjectives are the main event. They pile them on like too much rouge. 

Too Much Information. Backstory. Explaining every detail rather than letting the reader’s imagination fill the picture. Find a way to get the story rolling without laying on the verbiage.

Less is more. Always. 

Little Action. You want the reader drawn into the story from the very start. Scenery, no dialogue—or too much dialogue. A bond must form or the reader quits. Use the exercise from Monday as an example of what excites a reader, in this case yourself.

Really Horrible Book Covers. Individual tastes determine what constitutes professional and what is not. In my case, anime turns me off. Amateurish drawings especially of people. Pink. I know I shouldn’t judge but a good cover is the first marketing tool and it needs to be outstanding for me to take the next step.

Using all the above tips, consider this from Ilona Andrews, Clean Sweep
Brutus was dead. His body lay under an oak on the Hendersons’ lawn. A small group of neighbors had gathered around his corpse, their faces sad and shocked.
Go here to read why the first two pages caught my eye. 

Note how the book opened with:

  • Action
  • A sprinkling of backstory
  • Nailed the MC’s appearance and name 
  • The weather and location 
  • And that Brutus “...hadn’t been what you would call a good dog...But no matter how annoying he’d been, he hadn’t deserved to die...”

An Exercise in Writing Professionally:

Remove all adjectives and adverbs from your first two pages.
Eliminate cliché and ho hum verbs and nouns. Substitute out of the ordinary and see how it tightens the story and creates interest.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Why Indies Are Killing Professional Writers

I hate reading.

And that statement is to me as profound as saying I hate breathing. But that is what has happened.

Then...a revelation. 

I hadn’t changed. It was the material. And I came to a conclusion:

Publishing is too easy for some people. 

Writing is hard. Time consuming. Heartrending. Getting published though is not the crucible it once was, that fire through which we must pass to arrive at Author-ville. CreateSpace and quickie e-books are killing us. It is drowning the public in horrible writing and lame storylines.

The authors are too quick to publish and doing so without proper research and grammar. Without studying. Thinking it’s a get-rich-quick scheme.

Our society believes in instant gratification, the need for acknowledgement. Hey, we all have it, thinking that widdle baby is soooo special, that everyone will love it, all 200,000 plus words. Waking dreams of New York Times Bestseller list, talk shows, and movie scripts appear. 

Rejection hurts. Criticism stings. But it is part of the journey. 

Unfortunately, too many want to bypass this most important rite.

This week, it’s about first sentences, first paragraphs. Because Authors/Writers, if you want to gain an audience, you must get this part right. Get it wrong and you might make a few bucks but no one outside of family and close friends will know your name.

An Exercise in Writing Professionally

  • Pick a favorite book. 
  • Copy or highlight the first two pages. 
  • Note the exact moment when it caught your interest. 
  • Why? Be specific.
Use this example on your first page.

Later this week, story killers and how to avoid them.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dear Late-Blooming Writer

I got the idea for this one after many people commented on Dear Young Writer and said they started writing later in life. This one is for all late-blooming writers.

Dear Late-Blooming Writer,

Whether you’re young or old, age doesn’t matter when it comes to chasing a dream. Let me quote C.S. Lewis real quick: “You’re never too old set another goal or dream a new dream.”

Image from Pinterest

There is nothing truer than that statement. No one should ever let their age stop them from doing something they really want to do. If you want to be a writer, don’t second guess yourself. Don’t say you’re too old to begin a new career or, God forbid, that you’re too old to get published. While writing, editing and publishing a book does take time, it is possible to do at any age. There have been authors to get published at eighteen and eighty, and all the ages in between.

So if you want to be a writer, and this revelation is coming to you at an older age, don’t hesitate but march onto that path with your head held high. Don’t let anyone make you feel as though you’re being silly or unrealistic. There is nothing silly about following a dream. And if you think reasonably about your responsibilities, and don’t quit your job on a whim, then you’re not being unrealistic.

Here are a few things to remember:

  • It won’t happen overnight.
Writing a book usually takes about a year (less if you’re quick), editing adds on another possible 3-6 months. If you self-publish, you’ll see your book in print sooner, but getting an agent and then a publisher could take years. Don’t let this deter you, though. Be patient!

  • It won’t be easy.
Not only does creating a good book take time but effort. Keep that in mind when you struggle, but remember that everything is surmountable.

  • It won’t be impossible.
Nothing ever is. People write all the time and a good chuck of them get published, so it’s not unthinkable that you can do it too. Say instead, “I’m possible!”

Image from Pixabay

5 Things You Can Do Now:

1. Take writing courses or workshops to brush up on the rules and techniques you may have forgotten and will need to write your book.
TIP #1: Check your local library for classes.
2. Join a writer’s organization to build connections.

3. Find a critique group in your area to help you perfect your story and brainstorm with other writers.
TIP #2: Run an online search for writing critique groups in your area. Many meet once or twice a month. You may have to travel if you can’t find one close by.
4. Start a blog to build even more useful connections with authors and writers from all over the world.
TIP #3: An easy way to do this is to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post every first Wednesday of the month and we have a long Linky List.
5. Decide which route you want to take: traditional publishing or self-publishing.

For more advice on what you should do to get published, and so I don’t have to repeat myself, check out: Dear Aspiring Author.

And before I end this, let me say how fabulous late blooming writers are. It takes courage to choose a new journey when you thought you already knew what you wanted to do. I started writing at twelve. My mom started writing in her thirties, but stopped after having kids. Now in her late sixties she is back to writing and pushing for publication. I admire her and everyone like her.

Let’s raise a glass to late blooming writer’s everywhere!

QUESTIONS: If you have a job/career on top of writing, what do you do? If you weren’t a writer or pursing writing, what career would you want?

I would be pursing photography. 

See Also:

Author of Hurricane Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

'Twas the Night Before the Deadline

I've got a fun post for you today. I'm reblogging this from my blog Write with Fey.


‘Twas the Night Before the Deadline


Chrys Fey

‘Twas the night before the deadline when all through my writing room,
not a pencil was scribbling, not even a pen.
The books were all put away with regret,
while I hoped my writer’s block would soon end.

The notebooks were all stacked neatly on my desk,
with my next creation invisible on their pages.
My cat Rosie and I behind my computer,
had just clonked out after a long writing attempt.         

When out on the road there arose such a commotion,
I rocketed off my swivel chair to see what was occurring.
Away to the front door I ran like a jock,
yanked off the chain and jerked the lock.

The moon on the leaves of the tall palm trees;
gave witness to the blowing wind from sea.
When what to my drowsy green eyes should hover,
but a giant bookcase and eight cherished novels.                

With a beautiful fairy as lively as a lit fuse.
I knew in an instant she must be my muse.
More quick than agents her directions they flew,
And she hummed and sang their titles on cue.

Now MacBeth, now Moby Dick, now Jane Eyre, and Huckleberry Finn.
On David Copperfield, on Frankenstein, on Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:
To the top of the shelf, to the top of the bestsellers list.
Now inspire, inspire, inspire all writers!

As dry pine needles before the happy parade swayed,
When they met with the writer’s block in my brain,
So up to the rooftop the path they hurried,
with a bookcase full of books and the writing fairy too.

And then in a second I heard in my thoughts,
The whispering and musing of a new story plot.
I was pondering my idea and thinking with all my might,
when the writing fairy materialized before my very eyes.

She was dressed in lace and silk from ears to toes,
And her dress glittered with diamonds and pearls.
A pile of books she held in her hands
and she looked like a goddess with a deep love of literature.

Her eyes how they glowed, her skin was like gold.
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose was elegant.
Her lips were shaped into a kiss,
And the hair on her head was as soft as mist.

The scent of peppermint lingered on her skin,
it circled me and awakened all of my senses.
She had a lovely face and two sparkling wings,
that fluttered when she walked so gracefully.

She was tall and slim, a fabulous imagine,
and I smiled when I saw her in spite of my writing trouble.
A skip of her feet and a twirl of her dress,
soon put my worries to rest.

She hummed as she danced to my writing room,
and laid the books where my cat snoozed.
Then twirling around she shook glitter off her wings
and vanished from her place in front of me.

She popped into her bookcase, to the novels gave a deserved, “Well done!”
And away they flew to spread more writing love.
But I heard her sing as she returned to her realm of creativity:
“Happy imagination to all, may you never stop writing!” ©