Tag Archives: Indie Author

Pulling Back the Curtain of a BookBub

Last week I discussed a few myths about BookBub Featured Deals. This week, as promised, I’m sharing raw numbers for both of my deals. I hope to help shed light on how great these promos are, even with such a high cost.

A few things to clarify first. Both books are standalones, which means no read-through in a series. They are both in Kindle Unlimited. Both were originally $2.99 and the deal ran for .99 in the US and International markets. As horror novels, both Featured Deals cost $356 to run.

Now, on to the numbers.

My first Featured Deal ran on Sunday August 5th. I was a bit apprehensive of a horror novel being featured on a Sunday, but it turned out fine. I hoped to have a ton of downloads and make my money back on the first day.

That didn’t happen.

screen shot 2019-01-14 at 8.30.43 pmHonestly, I was kinda freaked out about this development. I questioned my ability as a writer. I considered throwing in the towel. It really bothered me. Then I took a walk around Lake Murphysboro and let the stress dissipate. I’ve read all kinds of stories about authors selling tons of books and here I was with a total of 308 copies sold. I ended the month selling 443 copies. That wasn’t enough to cover the cost of the promo. However, I also had 44,751 page reads. Those helped recoup the costs of the promo and were key to a successful run.

It took nearly three weeks for me to earn back my money, but it was well worth it. I introduced a pen name to a world of readers who knew nothing of me before.

Then I had my second Featured Deal run on December 26th. I was super pumped about this and couldn’t wait to see the results.

It started out ok with 312 copies sold on the day of the deal with another 64 on the day screen shot 2019-01-14 at 8.34.38 pmafter. Sweet! I thought. They tapered off pretty quick after that.

Since the date of the promo, I’ve sold 461 copies of the book with just over 22,000 page reads in KU. It’s taken a little bit longer to recoup my costs with the lower overall page reads, but as of this post, I’m nearly there. I have no doubt if these were for a series, I’d have covered my ad spend a long time ago.

So I ask…is BookBub worth it? Yep! There is no service that performs like them. I’ve tried others and they lack the volume BookBub delivers. I’ve read about how they aren’t as good as they used to be which might be true, but of all the email blast promos out there, they are by far the most effective.

Marketing, whether you’re traditionally published or an indie author like myself, is key to long-term sustainability. BookBub can give your efforts a major boost if you’re willing to be patient and let the promo run its course. I plan on trying them again when I can.

How are your marketing efforts? What’s working and what’s not? Feel free to comment below. If you’ve had a BookBub deal, how’d it go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Care to follow me on BookBub? Want to try for an Amazon $100 gift card? Click the image below for a bunch of chances to win by following scifi and fantasy authors on BookBub, including myself. It’s free to enter and who knows, you might win!

 

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BookBub Myths (And What You Can Do!)

Getting a BookBub is every indie author’s dream. It’s a spectacular email blast promo service that shares your discounted or free book to eager readers waiting to buy. There are other services, but none pack the punch of BookBub.

Because they don’t share what really goes into a Featured Deal acceptance, rumors run rampant throughout the indie author community about what it takes in order to get them to select your book.

I’m not an expert, but what follows are my experiences which I hope will help other authors plan and hopefully experience the joy of “Getting a BookBub!” Let’s start with a couple myths.

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Myth #1: You need at least X amount of reviews to get a BookBub.

Ok, so reviews are important. They’re social proof that readers like your book. I work hard to earn honest reviews so hopefully other readers will see how my book might appeal to them.

One of the biggest myths I’ve heard about BookBub is that they need to see at least 50 reviews on a book to even consider it. Umm…no.

I have no idea if they really have a baseline for number of reviews. What I do know is that both of my books selected for Featured Deals had less than 10 reviews at the time of the deal. Actually, they both still have less than 10 (one of them only has 3 reviews!)

From my experience, the thought that you need at least 50 reviews for BookBub to accept your book is flawed. Yes, you want reviews but they won’t hold you back. It’s funny because services that have a much lower ROI than BookBub require a certain amount of reviews and both my books would have been denied on that point alone.

 

Myth #2: You need to be wide (Not Amazon exclusive).

It might actually help if your books are wide (meaning on more than just Amazon) but from my experience, it wasn’t necessary. Both of my books were in Kindle Unlimited and still are.

What’s this mean to you? If you’re comfortable going wide, do it. If you prefer to stay within the confines of KU, do that. No matter what, present the best book possible, which leads to my recommendations.

I think what tipped the scales in my favor were a few factors.

The first was the cover.

For my horror novels under my pen name, I chose a new cover designer that rocked it! They nailed the genre while touching on the material within the book. I think if you want to be considered for a BookBub, make sure you get a killer cover first.

My novel “The Selection” has been rejected like a dozen times from BookBub, but the first time I submitted my first horror novel, it was accepted. I want to recover all three books in my trilogy but…money.

The second thing that helped was a decent blurb. So, I suck at these and always need help. I’m never satisfied with them. However, you want to make sure you create a blurb that leaves the reader wanting more and ready to hand over their money for your book. I think mine weren’t perfect, but they were good enough.

Finally, I think genre had a role. As I mentioned, my young adult scifi novel has never been accepted, but both my horror novels were. I’m thinking maybe not too many apply for that genre? Or maybe it’s a genre that’s growing? I honestly don’t know but I think with the great covers and decent blurbs, I stood a greater chance to get accepted.

Are there other myths you’ve heard that I didn’t touch on here? Please leave a comment below and let’s get the discussion going.

How did my BookBub Featured Deals do? Come back next week for a follow up post where I peel back the curtain and let you know exactly how they did.

In the meantime, why not click below and follow me on BookBub? You’ll always be alerted when I have a new release.

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Grabbing 2019 By The…

Happy New Year!

Say good-bye to the old and let’s welcome a new start for 2019.

I don’t remember if I made any resolutions or goals for last year, but I wanted to approach this annual reset with greater determination and focus.

It actually started the day after my 44th birthday when I walked around nearby Lake Murphysboro. As I trudged up and down the hills, the phrase “Before 45” kept repeating in my mind. I decided then to create actionable goals to measure my progress and force me to work harder. My birthday is December 15th, so it’s close enough to the end of the year to make these annual goals (though I do want to achieve them before I turn 45!)

In no particular order, these are my 2019 writer goals:

Publish 8 books

vintage-1148940_640Yeah, I know that sounds ludicrous, but it’s possible and who says I don’t have a few novels in my back pocket already? Quicker releases don’t mean lesser quality. I’ve got a process that works for me and I feel I can scale it up and increase what I’m doing. I’m in mid-trilogy writing now (it may turn into more than three books) and I’ve got a new novel near ready for my pen name. I’ve been working with two other authors on different series, though it’s still in the early stages of the projects. I’m also contracted with a small press to co-write a trilogy due for later this year, so 8 isn’t that crazy of a number.

 

Grow my newsletter list to over 5,000 subscribers

It’s now less than 900 because of serious culling a few months ago, but it needs to grow. No matter what happens, this has to be a priority moving forward. I believe in the power of a vibrant, healthy email list. I’m already putting in steps to achieve this.

 

Earn over $10,000 in book sales

Honestly I’d love this number to be much higher, but using my past performance as a guide, I’ll start here. If I can be transparent with my sales numbers, my hope is that it will help others learn and grow. Look for a post in the coming weeks with a recap of what I’ve earned so far. It’ll be brutal for me but instructive for you.

 

Grow my BookBub followers to over 1,000

BookBub is an amazing service that I’ve yet to fully utilize. Eager readers use BookBub to find new books to read. Why not try and grow my presence there for the future I have planned? They get notified of my new releases and keeps my name in front of the best kind of audience: readers!

 

Launch a book with over 100 pre-orders

Pre-orders are a point of contention amongst the indie author community, but I’d like to make this happen. My highest has been just under 50, so it’s a stretch but I feel quite achievable.

 

Blog once a week

This one will be difficult to maintain, but it’s something I feel is important. It gives me a place to share my journey and is where I found my first readers. You guys are super important to me and I need to honor that. Expect new posts at least once a week, most likely on Tuesday’s.

 

Attend 8 Cons

This one was tough because I considered doing very few, but with 3-4 already scheduled, I think I can make it happen. I’m looking for a few more Horror cons this year as my pen name has been crushing it and I might as well build the readership as much as possible.


There you have my look into the future. These are my measuring sticks. I expect yours might be different and that’s great! We all have different paths up the mountain (That’s a Craig Martelle reference for those who don’t know!) and no one path is the best. All that counts is that it’s your path. We all define success in our own terms.

So what are yours? What are your goals/resolutions for 2019? Feel free to comment with a few so we can all support one another. Onward and upward!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Dark Hollow Road

I was so excited to get my hands on the newest novel from Pamela Morris. Want to know what I thought? Read on for my review!


Pamela Morris’ latest novel Dark Hollow Road is a psychological horror story that grips you from the start.

The novel follows Mary Alice Brown who we’re introduced to early on as the oldest of four children. They live with their abusive and alcoholic father Clay Brown in rural Pennsylvania. The poor family lives far away from outsiders and sticks to their own.

DarkHollowWhen we first meet Mary, we find she’s the victim of abuse at the hands of her father and this sets the dark, eerie tone for the entire novel. Mary comes across as both victim and monster (as the story progresses) and it’s not hard to sympathize with her plight. I loathed her while wanting to help her. Mary fights for everything she has and wants nothing more than to have her family whole. This passion drives her to do what she does though the madness consumes her.

We’re also introduced to a family that moves in next door. Renee, her son Brandon, and her partner Samantha find a house near the old Brown house and soon experience weird situations, culminating with a visit from the Sugar Lady. Contrary to her sweet name, the Sugar Lady is not someone you want to meet.

One of the unique aspects of Dark Hollow Road is the alternating view points. The chapters from Mary’s point of view are in first person and the chapters dealing with Renee’s son Brandon are in third person. Pamela handles this back and forth with great skill and the chapters are fluid and entertaining.

The overall tone of the novel is dark and foreboding. The abuse Mary suffers early in life dominates everything she does. She’s so wrapped up in preserving her family she doesn’t realize how she’s destroying it herself.

I absolutely loved this book! The characters were well crafted and believable. The setting was perfect for the story. The tone and pace were spot on. Do yourself a favor, if you like creepy psychological horror that makes you squirm, try Dark Hollow Road by Pamela Morris.

(Almost) Average August Recap

It’s finally August 31st and I can back down from posting a bit. If you’ve been following along this month, you might’ve noticed I went on a post frenzy, sharing a new post every day.

I decided in late July to give it a try and I’m proud to say I’ve made it to the end. I think instead of my normal once a week posting schedule I adhered to prior to August, I might up that to three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

calendar-159098_960_720During this past month, I’ve had the most visits, views, likes, and comments since I’ve started this blog several years ago. I was blown away by the response I’ve had and hope to continue offering interesting posts going forward.

So in case you missed it, here’s a rundown of the last 30 days.


New Release: Twilight Madhouse Vol.1: My post about a new horror anthology featuring 10 stories, including my short piece “Achievement Unlocked.”

“Gate” Crashing: My rant on using the suffix -gate for scandals.

Writing Ideas: My tips and tricks when trying to get the creative juices flowing.

Reality Bites Book Awards: I was nominated in four different categories.

Rough Writing: I reminisce about a difficult lesson learned.

Morning Routine of a Non Best-Selling Author: It’s exactly as it sounds.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews: I discuss the latest reviews for my book The Selection.

Review Circles for Authors: I’ve started a Facebook group for authors to give and receive reviews.

Tools of the Trade: A nice discussion about the hardware and software I use to write.

Forgetting to Remember: My terrible problem with remembering names.

Dirty Dish Philosophy: Lessons learned from washing dishes.

5 Posts for Indie Authors: 5 blog posts I thought were informative to the indie authors of the world.

Flash Fiction – “Zombie Says”: I offered a free story for you the reader!

Author Spotlight – Greg Alldredge: An interview with scifi author Greg Alldredge.

Review – “Fire Eyes Awakened”: My review of R.J. Batla’s new book.

“Self To Younger Self, Come in”: Words of wisdom I’d share with my younger self.

Review – “Twilight Madhouse Vol.1”: My review of the horror anthology with my story “Achievement Unlocked” in it.

10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing: As the title implies, 10 lessons learned since I started this journey.

Reality Bites Book Awards – Final Round: I made it to the final round in the category of “Sci-Fi Author.”

Giving Back: I strongly believe I need to give back to other writers in any way I can.

Eclipse Comic Con Recap: I attended an awesome event and met new friends.

Upcoming Events: A list of all the places you can find me in the next few months.

Just Finish Already!: Get that story out of your head and on the screen.

Indie Comic Creator – Todd Black: A super talented creator of indie comics I met at the Eclipse Comic Con.

Musical Inspiration: How music inspires my writing.

Sacrifice for Greatness: What are you willing to sacrifice in order to be great?

Choose Wisely: Important decisions can lead to lasting consequences.

Author Spotlight – Pamela Morris: My interview of Pamela Morris, an excellent horror author you should know.

“The Selection” – Chapter 1 Preview: I offer the entire first chapter of my novel The Selection.

Youthful Dreaming: When I was younger, I really, really wanted to be Spider Man.


 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my month of madness. When you have time, please check out the posts from this past month and please consider clicking “like,” commenting, or sharing whatever interests you.

Thanks for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight: Pamela Morris

Today I’m fortunate to present Pamela Morris author of the horror novel No Rest For The Wicked.


Hi Pamela, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks for having me, Jason. My background is pretty mundane. I grew up in the Finger Lake region of Upstate NY in a town with a population of less than 2000. I have two grown children and am on Husband #2 with whom I just celebrated our 1st anniversary on August 27. I love crows and ravens, miniatures, motorcycles, fake food, and all things paranormal.

 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing and making books for as long as I’ve been able to write! The earliest document I have dates back to 1974 so I would have been eight at the time. It’s nothing more than a thin, spiral notebook that I drew pictures in and labeled each picture. The odd part of it is, I broke it down into specific subjects like people, foods, houses, etc. and finished it off with a full table of contents.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I think writing is in my blood. My mother worked in a library for almost thirty years, which is the same library I work in now. Books were everywhere for me growing up. I have several ancestors who were writers. My great, great grandmother kept a diary for over 25 years and wrote in it almost every day, up until about ten days before her death. Another great grandmother kept a travel journal when she made a trip out to Ohio to visit with family. One of my great uncles wrote a children’s story. In fact, the first story I wrote (and illustrated) was a children’s book called “Bill: The Worm Who Ran Away”. I was all of nine. At ten I wrote my first ghost story, “The Strange Well”.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I’m in the very early stages of my next novel. It’s part two of a two-part series called “The Witch’s Backbone”. These two novels are part of my Barnesville Chronicles. The Chronicles center around the small town of Barnesville and the surrounding towns where many strange things happen. The first two are murder-mysteries, but “The Witch’s Backbone” is more about a local urban legend, how it came to be, and whether any of it is real or not.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Though I was first published in the erotica market, I tossed that all aside about six years ago and dove into my first and greatest love of Horror and paranormal Murder-Mysteries. I love anything that has that Twilight Zone, Outer Limits feel to it.

 

What authors influenced you?

Believe it or not, Carolyne Keene was a huge influence. I was a massive Nancy Drew Mysteries fan. Later, I grew to love Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice. Tanith Lee probably sparked my writer’s imagination the most, though, with her short story collection, “Red As Blood” which is all about very, very twisted fairytales. I love those things and her writing style is incredibly unique.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading “The Selection” by this guy named Jason J. Nugent. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Haven’t gotten too far into it just yet, but liking it so far. I’m also listening to Dean Koontz’s “77 Shadows Street” on audiobook.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

In my dreams, I’d write every day. That doesn’t happen. I shy away from writing after work unless there’s a particularly powerful scene going on. I want to be on my best game when I sit down to write. I try and spend a few hours on my weekend mornings, otherwise.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I’ve discovered I am most productive when I have the Blues on. I think it’s because I find the Blues very emotional to listen to. It’s something you feel deep inside you and when I write, that’s what I am trying to get across to my readers, not just the plot, but the emotions my characters are going through, good or bad.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

Well, I’m 40+ years older now than I was then, so… But seriously, I’ve gone back and read my earlier stuff, and I think I’ve become a lot better at description. I’ve grown better at SHOWING my readers what it going on, instead of just TELLING them a story. I am much better at incorporating all the senses into a scene and placing my readers right there with the characters. I want my readers to feel like they are participating in the action and experiencing whatever is going on.

 

NoRestHow do you create the covers for your books?

The covers for The Barnesville Chronicles were all designed by my husband and myself. At first, I’d just draw up a quick pencil sketch of what I had in mind and give it to him, then he’d work his creative magic on the computer. Now, I’ve learned a bit of the program he uses and can create a much better jumping off point for him to finish up. He fine tunes it and makes it into something that works. The cover for “No Rest For The Wicked” was created by the publisher with a few suggestions and ‘must-haves’ from me.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

Definitely! I grew up being enthralled by Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Night Gallery programs. Love Alfred Hitchcock Presents… along with the In Search Of… series hosted by Leonard Nemoy. The 1963 horror movie “The Haunting” based on Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Haunting of Hill House” is my all-time favorite scary movie. I also grew up always believing in ghosts, something my grandmother instilled in me. She was also the person who first introduced me to the Ouija Board.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

No Rest For The Wicked is available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook. You can also find it at Kobo Books. Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon and That’s What Shadows Are Made Of can be found on Amazon, too.

Where can we find you online?

My website is www.pamelamorrisbooks.com. I post a weekly blog and have some freebie short stories posted there along with links and info on all my novels, even the erotica, if you’re brave enough to go down that dark avenue. I’m @pamelamorris65 on Twitter and over on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PamelaMorrisBooks/. If you’re intent on a thorough stalking, I can also be found over at Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/908656.Pamela_Morris

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Oh, jeeze. That’s impossible to answer! I love so many for different reasons. Tanith Lee’s “Red As Blood” stands out because through it I was first introduced to the concept of taking a common fairytale and turning it into something bizarre and almost unrecognizable from the original. Certain parts of Shirley Jackon’s “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” apparently stuck into my head a lot more than I realized which only just occurred to me when I was enjoying it the second time around a few months ago. But, if you go by the book I’ve read the most often, that’s Bram Stoker’s classic and unforgettable “Dracula”. I’ve read it no fewer than ten times. Why? Because it’s awesome!

 

How do you market your books?

Mostly on Twitter with the little book ads I post and also through my author page on Facebook and the kindness of those who share my page and any ads I put up. I have done a few signings and sales events and have my books available in a small, local bookstore.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure. This is from the soon-to-be released third book in The Barnesville Chronicles, “The Witch’s Backbone – The Curse”.

      The square and its fancy gazebo were all well and good, but that was a place Tara went to practically every day. Today, however, was Saturday and Saturday was garbage day and garbage day meant a trip to the county dump with her dad and, in this case, nearly getting her teeth knocked out by the open mouth of her soda bottle.

The station wagon came to a smooth stop as they waited their turn in line behind a pick-up loaded to the gills with bagged trash. Bob Gunderman, who ran the gate and took the dumping fees, was a talker.

“Can I get out here?” Tara asked.

John nodded. “Just don’t go too far. Stay where I can see you.”

“Cool.” She didn’t wait for him to change his mind, not that John ever had in the past, but he knew as well as Tara that her mother would have a fit and fall in it if she knew he was letting Tara run wild, as she called it, among the mountains and pits of trash. The last thing either of them wanted was for Tara to fall into some forgotten mound and get buried alive. That might be a little hard to explain back home to Mom.

“Watch out for the seagulls,” he shouted just before Tara’s door slammed shut.

She gave him a thumbs up in reply.

The results of last night’s storm squished under the rubber soles of her boots, sucking and splatting her way to where the gate attendant leaned against the battered doorway of the dump station’s shelter, Tara slid on a pair of yellow dishwashing gloves. “Hey, Mr. Gunderman!” She saluted.

He shook his head and chuckled. “Heading in?” he asked, saluting her back with a tip of his Texaco ball cap. When he wasn’t tending to trash, Bob did small engine and appliance repair out of a rusted and lop-sided metal shed set up behind his equally akimbo and well-maintained mobile home. They’d passed on the left, halfway up the road. Tara suspected he got a lot of parts from the dump.

“Yes, sir. Got anything good this week?”

“I’m sure you’ll find a treasure or two. Stay clear of the back west though, it’s been shifting a lot lately.”

“Ten-four, good buddy.” She strode past the pick-up truck, ducked under the wooden security arm that had probably been white once, but now was more a mottled grey-green, and made her way into the refuse-littered landscape beyond.

It stank. It stank a lot, especially after last night’s rain, but it wasn’t anything compared to how it would be once the late August sun rose high and hot. Sometimes John wasn’t so early getting the trash around and that’s when coming here wasn’t as much fun. How Mr. Gunderman could stand it, Tara didn’t know, but he didn’t seem to mind.

“You get used to it,” he’d told her once.

The pick-up passed by at a crawl; the side-to-side motion created by each muddy rut threatening to toss one bag or another of garbage out the back end. Tara paused to watch as it made its way around to the left of the ever-growing ring of refuse. In the middle of it all was The Pit, the massive hole in the ground that was slowly being filled. The road circled all the way around The Pit, which was further ringed by a section devoted to dead washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators next to a heap of lawn mowers and a bunch of vacuum cleaners. Another was nothing but discarded tires. A section of small appliances; lamps, toasters, blenders, small radios and record players lay jumbled together in a mound at least six feet high and twenty feet around. There was a vague sense of order to the place. Tara tried to decide what sort of something she wanted to look for today.

She could use a new tape player, but if it was here, chances were it didn’t work and she didn’t know so much about fixing those. Tara wandered off to the right, away from the man and boy hurling bag after bag into The Pit from the truck bed. Their actions had sent the flock of gulls into a dive-bombing, screaming frenzy overhead. Rats with wings, that’s what Mr. Gunderman called them.

“What are sea gulls doing around here anyway?” Tara wanted to know. “We’re not even close to the sea or a lake or anything.”

“There’s Meyer’s Pond,” Bob had offered. “And Miller’s Pond and …”

“Then these are pond gulls,” Tara interrupted with a laugh.

“Or trash gulls. Just rats with wings, Tara. That’s all they are, rats with wings. If there’s a free meal to be ‘et, that’s where they’ll be.”

Strolling from pile to pile, Tara kept an eye out for just about anything. Sometimes there was hidden treasure. Sometimes there was nothing. Today felt like a nothing day. She’d reached the furthest point from the front gates by now. Her dad’s car was parked near the pick-up whose occupants were finally done and climbing back into the cab. Dad only had a few bags so he wouldn’t be long. It hadn’t really been enough time to look the place over very well, but Tara could always ride her bike up to come back later in the week. Maybe she could even get a friend to come with her. Maybe Danny as long as it was just him and not his annoying brother or, God forbid, his whiney girlfriend, Susan; not Sue, not Susie, but Susan.

With her hands on her hips, Tara looked out across the piles towards the slope of weeds that ended abruptly with a thick line of shrubs and Birch trees a couple hundred feet out. The wind, thank God, was blowing in her favor, lifting the feather of her bangs off her forehead just enough to feel a tiny bit cooler. Something moved along the tree line. It was low and slow and brown. Probably a deer. Nah, too dark to be a deer, she immediately determined. Not much else could have been seen this far away. Its back was hunched up, pausing as it maybe nibbled on some grass or wild berries along its path. Maybe it was a bear. A bear would be a lot more exciting to see than a deer. Whatever it was pivoted, displayed a flash of dark brown or black fabric and a feather on top of its head and stopped. Tara’s jaw dropped. She saw its eyes, small, black, and glistening, staring right at her.

It wasn’t a bear. As Tara turned to run as fast as possible back to the station wagon, she prayed it wasn’t what she thought it was. If it was, she was as good as dead.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

My first murder-mystery was accepted and released by a publisher, but a mere six months after the release, they went out of business. That was a huge punch to the gut. After a year of searching for another publisher and with readers of the first book hounding me about getting a second one out, I gave in and decided to self-publish. I got a lot of encouragement from a fellow writer in regards to “No Rest For The Wicked” so when I saw HellBound Books accepting manuscripts, I sent it out, even though I’d already released it myself six month earlier. They took it in and gave it a new home, so I’m pretty happy about that. I’ll continue to put out my Barnesville Chronicles myself as they are just too near and dear to my heart to hand over to anyone else at this time.

 

Any parting words for writers?

First, don’t write about what’s popular right now, chances are whatever the current fad is today, will be fading away by the time you get that novel done. Instead, write what speaks to you. Tell the stories that come to you in your daydreams, or nightmares, whichever the case may be. Second, listen, truly listen, to the characters that approach you out of nowhere. Tell their stories. They won’t always go where you think they should, so follow them along and try to keep up as best you can. Lastly, don’t worry about that first draft being a mess, just get the story down as fast as you are capable of doing. Tell the story first. Fix the mess it will be after.

 

10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing

When I started this writing journey, I was naive to the complexities of it all. I guess in it’s most basic state, writing is just me and the words on the screen or paper. It’s when I started sharing those words that things changed. Here are ten things I learned since I started (in no particular order).


Editing is your best friend. I didn’t understand the serious need for revision and editing. I knew those things were important, but as I progress in my career, it’s abundantly clear how vital good editing is to my work. And I can’t do it on my own.

Sometimes the first draft is hard to finish. The moment I start revising parts of the first draft before it’s finished, I bog myself down and the pace of my writing slows to a crawl. That’s not good. I need to get that draft out, warts and all, as quickly as possible so I can jump in and fix it after it’s done.

I’ll never please everyone with my work. As much as I love what I write, not everyone will see it that way. It’s ok. Art is never universally accepted. There will be some who it doesn’t work for and that’s fine.

articulated-male-818202_960_720Writing is not a solitary endeavor. Contrary to popular belief, writing is not an individual act. Sure, the writer creates and physically writes the story on their own. However, to make it work, we need other sets of eyes to help us tighten our prose. And once that’s done and you want to share it with the world, you need others to spread the love. It takes a team of dedicated individuals to make that happen. I find it best not to piss off those that can help.

Family and friends don’t always support you. I gotta start by saying I have a tremendous amount of support from a lot of my family and friends. They might not agree with the subject of my stories, but they’re super supportive of my work. Then there are those that can care less. Yeah I spent a ton of time working on perfecting my stories, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Just because they are family or friends doesn’t mean they’ll automatically help or buy the book or leave a review. And thats ok. They are under no obligation to do so. If they sell Mary Kay cosmetics does that mean I have to buy them? No. Same with my writing. It’s cool.

Rejection isn’t personal. Let me restate that: rejection isn’t personal. It’s not an indictment of you as an individual. For whatever reason, the story didn’t work for that person. Cool. Move on. Try someone else. Revisit your story to see where the holes are. Send it out again. And again. And again. Maybe try a different market. Whatever the case, remember rejection isn’t personal.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You hear so many uplifting stories about people leaving their day jobs to become full-time authors. I would love to have that kind of financial success from my writing. However, unless your book goes viral and everyone under the sun suddenly wants to read it, this takes time and patience. Lots of it. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. If you have a passion for your craft and continually seek to improve, your chances of this happening are better, but not guaranteed.

work-1627703_960_720Everybody has advice. Take it at your own peril. Many people mean well, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Maybe they do. Talk to fifty different authors and you’ll get fifty different answers. Sift through this massive trove of opinions carefully. Try different things, but always be wary of the advice given. How to find the best and most trustworthy advice? I don’t have an answer. I take in a lot of suggestions and sometimes I’ll try them, sometimes not. It’s a personal thing I guess. Just be careful with what “rules” you follow given to you by others.

Self publishing is easy, getting noticed is not. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was to get my stories uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It literally was a click or two and *poof* done. That’s it. But that’s also why indie authors are slammed by critics and readers. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I spent a lot of time revising and editing my first collection of stories to leave the best impression I could with potential readers. I still had a few errors in my work. Then when it came to earning eyes on my stories, that was (and still is) a difficult process. I’m basically asking someone to use their hard earned cash to buy a book from an author they don’t know and invest their time with me. That’s a big ask. I better deliver with my work or they won’t come back.

You will have to sacrifice if you want to succeed. When I started writing, I played a lot of video games. One day I came to the realization that the time spent playing games on the Xbox was time spent not writing. How could I hope to grow as a writer and create new work if I spent my time playing games? I stopped cold turkey. I didn’t join my friends on our weekly game night anymore. I didn’t spend hours on a Saturday morning hunting achievements. Instead, I used that time to write more and read more. I’ve whittled down my gaming to two mobile games, that’s it. I miss those gaming sessions, but if I wanted to be serious about my craft, I had to make concessions somewhere.


There you have it, my ten things learned since I started as a writer. As you start your journey or are knee deep in it, how do these compare to your experiences?

Feel free to like, share, and comment. Thanks!

5 Posts for Indie Authors

Indie authors have a tough time getting noticed in the sea of titles out there. Here are five posts to help give you an edge and the motivation to succeed.


Indie Author Finds Success Hitting the Festival Circuit

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Faced with a difficult time being discovered, author Raymond Depew hit the festival circuit to market and sell his books.


@#*&$it – Self-Publishing Does NOT Have to Cost You Anything

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Author K.S. Brooks breaks down how indie authors can publish their work for little to no money–and still turn out a great product!


15 Book Publicity Commandments

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Writer Carolyn Howard-Johnson discusses fifteen top practices when promoting your books.


Please Don’t Buy My Book

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Author David Gaughran breaks down launch success and failure for two of his books.


8 Myths about Book Sales That Authors Need To Ditch Now

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Writer Beth Bacon breaks down myths authors need to eliminate now!


 

Being an indie author, heck any author for that matter, is difficult. The more we as writers hone our craft and work on promoting effectively, the more chance we have to succeed and rise above the rest.

If you found something useful here, please like, comment, and share this post with others. Thanks!

 

Review Circles for Authors

Are you an indie author or an author looking for more reviews? Well, let me help!

I’ve created a private Facebook group to address this and hopefully help us all as we work on our promotions.

Let me get this out there to be clear: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW EXCHANGE! We will NOT review book for book. You will not be expected to review a book from an author who is reviewing you. That would make for a dishonest review (or at the very least, the temptation to leave a higher review since you’d expect them to give you a higher review). I don’t like how that works and I don’t condone it.

In it’s most basic form, it works like this:

Review Circle

 

Here are a few guidelines to consider:

All authors will be expected to buy the book they’re reviewing as long as it’s $1.99 or less. If it’s over that price point, I want the author to gift it to them or send the reviewer a free copy.

I prefer reviewers buy the book to give the review the “Verified Purchase” tag. But I also want people to stick around and if they gotta keep paying more than $1.99 per book for something they may or may not normally read, I feel it’s asking too much.

Reviewers will have two weeks to read and review the books. All authors participating must not argue with the review received. These are honest opinions and if your work isn’t up to par, work on it first.

All reviews are honest. If as an author you get a review lower than what you expect, please do not argue with the reviewer. By submitting to the Review Circle, that’s the chance we take. That’s what an honest review is. This is not an opportunity for us to hand out five star reviews “just because.” It’s meant to help each other gain honest reviews of our work. Honest doesn’t always mean pleasant. Again, please do not argue with the reviewer.

Reviewers, though you are tasked with leaving an honest review, please be courteous. We’re not trying to discourage our fellow authors with negative remarks. You can voice your opinion in a thoughtful and constructive manner. Please do not crush your fellow authors.

For the book you’d like to have reviewed, please make sure your book is well constructed and edited, preferably by a professional. This is not a Beta reading circle. We are working under the assumption your book is a final product. What we read is what any reader would read. Make sure it’s the best representation of your book.

Try to keep all books requesting a review under 350 pages or less. Since this is a fairly quick turnaround of two weeks, longer books won’t work well. If your reviewer is OK with a longer book, go ahead and submit it. If not, please consider a different book.

By participating in the Review Circle, you must be ok with reading various genres. I will try to assign reviewers according to their tastes but I can’t guarantee it’s gonna be in your wheelhouse. If that happens, please keep an open mind and review the book on its merits as a story, not on if you like the genre. We can all learn when reading outside our specific genres.


So that’s it. I’ve run something like this in a Facebook group I’m part of, but I think it’s time to branch out and start a group based solely on this premise. If you’d like to join and are ready to be reviewed while offering your honest reviews, please send over a request to join the Review Circle for Authors Facebook Group. Thanks!

Indie Author Pricing: Ebooks

When you purchase books, what are you honestly willing to pay for an ebook?

Recently I had a lively discussion with fellow authors who participate in the Heggerwood Showcase (If you don’t know what that is, check it out here). The topic was ebook pricing. From that discussion comes the topic of this post.

Let me start off by saying I am not expert. I’m not a best-seller. Heck, I’m barely a seller at all! However I do have two qualifications that inform my thoughts on this topic.

First, I work in sales. I have for the last sixteen years. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I know what a customer is willing to pay, what they’re willing to hand over their hard earned cash for. I understand they need value for their money. I get it.

Secondly, I’m a reader and consumer myself. I know what I’d pay for something. I have my limits. More on this in a moment.

As an author, especially an indie author who has total control over costs and pricing, how do you determine what to charge for your books? In particular, ebooks, though paperback POD books play a role in this as well.

Let me start with ebooks.

When I released my first book (Almost) Average Anthology, I decided the initial selling price was going to be $1.99. Did I feel it was worth more? Of course! We all think our work is worth more and it should be. We spent a lot of time and effort creating these worlds for others to enjoy. However, I had several things to consider.

What were other books like mine selling for? Would anyone plunk down more than $1.99 for a collection of odd stories from an author they don’t know? Would I? Obviously my answer was no, I wouldn’t pay more than that. I also chose the $1.99 price point so I had at least a little wiggle room to go down in price when the time was right or if I was going to run a promo. I could also run a discounted pre-sale enticing would be buyers to grab it for .99 while they could before the price went up. I did the same with my second collection of dark fiction short stories Moments of Darkness.

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Though neither book tops any charts or blazed new trails, I felt justified in my pricing strategy. I wasn’t scamming the buyer. I offered the books at what I felt were reasonable prices. Prices I would pay and felt comfortable with.

I’ve done the same with my novel The Selection. I offered it at a pre-sale price of .99 before going to it’s standard, and higher, price of $2.99. Because it was a longer piece, I felt comfortable with the higher price and it’s something I would pay for an ebook, especially by an unknown author.

I can hear you asking now “What about your costs? Don’t you want those covered so you can make a profit?” Ahh…good question. And this is where I differed from some of my fellow authors.

Let’s go back to (Almost) Average. My costs on that were almost nothing. I didn’t hire an editor. I created the cover myself, and I formatted the ebook myself. The programs I used to create the book were already on my computer. I didn’t buy anything special. So for that book, my expenses were pretty low.

For Moments of Darkness, I did hire an artist for the cover, but that was my only cost. I edited and formatted that one myself as well. In terms of cost/price, I should have charged more to recoup my costs. But I didn’t.

money-40603_960_720When I decided to release The Selection, I hired an artist for the cover and I hired an editor. There was no way I’d release a longer piece like that without having it edited. You may hate the story or think it’s bogus, but you won’t be able to crush me on the editing. So with this release, I had the most cost associated with releasing a book which seems to indicate I should charge a lot more.

But that’s not my line of thought.

Sure I want to recover my expenses, however there’s a threshold consumers are not willing to part with their money. I know, I’m one of them. I’d love to make tons money on my books, I mean that’s what selling is all about, right?

The approach I’m taking is different. I don’t want immediate repayment of my costs (well, yeah I do) but what I really want is a growing base of readers looking for my work as I continue my career. I want long term growth, long term success.

If I priced my novel at $4.99 and sold enough I’d get my costs covered, but how long will that take? How many people are willing to drop that much on an unproven commodity? I wouldn’t. I can’t expect others to just because I have expenses.

Book buyers are a weird lot (I say that with the utmost respect for my readers. You guys rock!) I’m one of you. I buy books too. There’s a line I won’t cross to buy a book. I have a difficult time spending more than $3.99 for an ebook by a big name author like Stephen King or Brandon Sanderson. Why would I spend that kind of money on an author I don’t know? I’m big on supporting indie authors, we’re in this together. But when I feel gouged with a $3.99 price point for something that’s maybe 100 pages long–nope, not gonna buy it. I understand you’ve got expenses but in sales, sometimes you have to go in the negative before the positive arrives. You have to be willing to spend money to make money.

For now, my thought on pricing strategy is this: Get as many readers interested in me as a writer for the long haul. I won’t price a book higher trying to recover all my costs as fast as possible. It’s a numbers game. If I can sell ten .99 ebooks to your one $3.99 ebook, my readership will dwarf yours. That’s what I’m going for–more readers. Do I feel it’s worth more than .99? Sure do! But to the reader willing to part with their money for a little known author, I have to make it enticing enough to earn their trust and deliver on that with the writing. If I’ve done my job well, they will stick with me.

In my next installment, I’m going to cover POD paperback pricing. Come on back for that.


Let me know your thoughts. Am I off base? Is my strategy wrong? What would you do? How do you price your books? I’m open for an honest and constructive discussion so we can all learn from each other.