NaNoWriMo Update *FB Giveaway*

*Whew*

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I’ve been trying to get to 30,000 words by the end of October so I can knock out the other 50,000 in November during NaNoWriMo. As of yesterday, I am at just over 16,000 – I did 3,000 just last night.

This one has been going a little slower for me. The plot is a little more complicated than most things I’ve written – and then on top of my complicated¬†plot, I have all that romance arc to weave in. I do like plot-driven romances a lot more than I like the ones that just jump straight into the sexy stuff – and I was having a hard time finding some balance.

The outline I usually use for plotting can be found in the book The Plot Whisperer – and it works great! Then I discovered a book the other night called Romancing The Beat. It was exactly what I needed to keep the tension and romance high while also keeping my story moving forward. I’m super excited to see how it plays out.

If you haven’t seen on my Facebook page I have this super awesome gift up for grabs:

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All I’m asking for entries is that you like my page, or follow me on Goodreads and leave a comment. No tagging. No sharing ūüôā Head on over and get your name in the drawing today ‚Üí HERE

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Self Publishing 101: Part One

Since I began self-publishing, I’ve had many friends and colleagues ask to pick my brain about “how to” go about self-publishing. The truth is that it is all at once WAY easier than I thought it would be, and daunting all at the same time. There is a lot to learn, and while this post is not going to be all-encompassing, it’s a start-so buckle up, you’re in for a journey.

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*this was going to be a You-Tube video. But I’m sick. The kind of sick where you can’t sleep at night because you can’t breathe and you can’t say more than ten words without taking a sip of water.*

Step One: If it isn’t obvious enough. WRITE A BOOK! While you’re at it, write a damn good book.

Nothing is more cringe-worthy to me as a self-published author than reading book reviews of other self-published authors and the reviewers make remarks about the bad writing and poor editing – noting specifically that they are self-published.

Around this time you should also start looking into a cover for your book.¬† It’s a big decision and an important one, so it shouldn’t be put off until the last minute. We all say we don’t judge a book by its cover, but in the literal sense, we do. A good cover will make someone click on your book to read the blurb or move on to the next one. (More on covers and blurbs later)

Step Two: Edit your book. You have a choice here, after all, you are self-publishing so the world is your proverbial oyster. You can edit your manuscript yourself, or you can hire a professional editor.

Editors can get expensive. Really expensive and the prices go up based on what kind of editing you want done. But they also kind of know what the fuck they are doing. You can pay someone to just go in and fix your grammar, misspelled words and poor punctuation – all the way to basically rewriting, reorganizing and deleting sections of your work – all to make your book baby shine like a diamond.

Be prepared for the editing process to take some time. Possibly even longer than it took you to write your book. Start contacting editors and establishing a rapport with one BEFORE your book is done, and get on their calendar. (You aren’t their only client)

You can go the route of DIY, but it’s also hard to be objective about your own work. It’s also easy to glaze over words you’ve read hundreds of times. For budget reasons, sometimes this is the choice you have to make. If you go the route of self-editing I would suggest buying a subscription to Grammarly and using the Word plugin, sending your manuscript off to trusted (and smart) friends and relatives and asking your beta readers some tough questions – and using their advice!

Basically, if you aren’t so sick of your book that the idea of reading it one more time doesn’t make you want to vomit-it’s not ready. I STILL can’t read The Island.

Step Three: ISBN’s. International Standard Book Number. Again, you have a choice to make here. ISBN’s are yet another expense you need to plan for BEFORE your book is even released.

So now you need to figure out what forms your book is going to be published in, because you will need a different ISBN for each one. That’s right. If you have an e-book, a paperback, and a hardcover, you need a different ISBN for each one. Then to complicate matters further – you need different ISBN’s for each e-book version you offer. So if you plan to sell your ebook at more stores than just Amazon – yep, more ISBN’s. And lemme tell ya, ISBN’s aren’t cheap – but you do get a “deal” if you buy them in bulk. In the US Bowker¬†is who you purchase them from.

Now. Amazon, Nook, Kobo and CreateSpace (probably more, but I’m not 100% familiar with those platforms, so I can’t speak to them) do offer free ISBN’s. Great on the budget, for sure.

The drawback to a free ISBN is that YOU are not the publisher. You’re self-published, but the publisher is the platform who gave you the ISBN. Now let’s say your book makes it BIG. Everyone is talking about it, and a brick and mortar store wants to carry your book. Do you really think they are going to purchase bulk books from Amazon? Hell no. What if, by some crazy chance someone wants to make a movie based on YOUR book. Well who owns a little piece of your book by giving you a free ISBN?

A likely scenario? No. But it is something to consider, especially if you want your books to be sold in an actual, physical store someday.

Step Four: Set up an account at your publishing platform(s). Do some research here and figure out what is going to work best for you. Amazon, SmashWords, Bookbaby, Ingram Spark, Create Space, iBooks – there are so many and each one is different.

Due to time restrictions, I did not use Create Space for my last release, Rocking Autumn and instead I directly uploaded it to Amazon, Kobo and Nook. For my upcoming Spring book release, I will be using Create Space and possibly doubling up and using Ingram Spark as well. (we can go into the why’s another time) But basically, do your research.

To set up an account is a fairly simple process, you will need to enter in your tax information and banking information.

Step Five: Format your book! You will need to format your book for e-book and paperback. Myself, I did not use a template to format my books, instead I googled tutorials on the internet. THIS is a good one that I have saved in my bookmarks. For formatting templates DIYbookformats.com is another one I have saved in my bookmarks.

Recently I’ve been playing around with the Beta Version of Kindle Create, a Word plugin that formats your book. While it has some cool features, and I might re-install it when I am done writing – it made Word a little buggy and it kept crashing. *sigh* So much for easy.

Now that your book is ready to be uploaded, we will leave it here. I will pick this back up next week and dive into loading your book, setting categories and pricing and everything else that happens behind the scenes.

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Plotting or Pantsting?

Pantsting: writing by the seat of your pants and letting the story write itself.

Plotting: planning every chapter, every scene and basically write a book with a structure.

This is a widely debated topic among author circles. Should you plot or write by the seat of your pants?

I suppose I should start off by saying, I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert on the craft of writing. I’m a tryer. I’m a researcher. I’m an observer. I’m a learner.

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I’m a little of both. I plot my theme, my ending, my twists,¬†my high and low points and conflicts both internal and external. I plot out what I want to have happen at certain points in my novel based on my expected word count and I’m done. I use a piece of graph paper (super old school) and I pencil everything in. Then I sit down with my coffee and write.

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Why?

One. I hate rules. If I plotted out every chapter and every scene I would feel too confined to be creative.

Two. Inspiration comes to me at the craziest times in the craziest places. I jot it all down and add it to my “outline”.

Three. Sometimes my story surprises even me. When I wrote The Island, it was all by the seat of my pants. I had a general idea of what the story was, but as I wrote it, it changed completely. My perspectives on WHO they were and WHAT motivated them changed. It changed everything I thought was going to happen. It changed my twist.

So where do I sit? Right in the middle.

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I write with a basic: if this, then that theory and let the story take me where it will, within my plotted ideas.

Now, as an admitted previous¬†pantster,¬†it’s not without its drawbacks. I used to completely write by the seat of my pants. Any guesses on how many unfinished novels there are on my hard drive? (I’ll never admit to it) Because while I sat down with the intent of writing THE BEST NOVEL EVER I ran out of steam. My plots got lost. I had no ending. My subplots took over. I had no high and low points and no real direction other than I had great ideas but no end game.

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So authors, writers: what are you? A plotter, a pantster or a fine mix of both?

 

Things I have learned about being a self-published author

Before I published my book The Island, I knew absolutely nothing about the self-publishing world. I googled and researched everything Рand I wound up WAY more confused than I had been before. Formatting, converting your files, choosing to do it on your own or use one of the hundreds of companies who will do it all for you. What the hell is an ISBN and what the F#@K  is metadata?

My head was swirling with too much information. (By the way, this is not an informational post – like seriously it took me a week to realize my book was formatted improperly and I had a few spelling errors that snuck through.) (ps, those are fixed)

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Other Indie Authors are helpful and a wealth of information! I’ve found my way into some great groups of Indie’s who share their knowledge, share their experiences and share what has and what has not worked for them.

If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I’d get on Goodreads and find some groups. Learn things before you do it, and find groups that celebrate each other’s successes rather than treat everything like a competition.

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It’s endless self-promotion. Like, endless.

You don’t have an agent or a marketing team. You don’t have people working to get your book into the public eye while you get to work on your next book or prepare for book tours. The only way people are going to know about your book at first is through YOU. After you’ve exhausted your friends and family as potential readers; you’ve got to put in the work.

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Websites….blah blah blah…it’s work!

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There are a lot of vulture companies out there. There are tons of websites claiming to get your book in the public eye. All you gotta do is fork over some cash and they’ll Tweet the shit out of your book, or put it on their blog or whatever it is they claim to do. And they will Tweet the shit out of your book – but if you look at their list of followers – it’s almost always just Indie Writers and no actual potential customers.

I get DM’s from tons of these places daily.

Now hey, there are some super legit sights and I’ve used a couple of them with a success. But before I forked over my hard earned money – I consulted with the been there done that’s in my groups and by reading the blogs of successful Indie Writers and what to look out for and how to spot red flags.

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If it doesn’t work, try again.

Tags, metadata, blurbs, covers, categories. Promoting, blogging, handing out copies of your book for reviews.

It’s all trial and error. What may seem like the cleverest blurb to you, doesn’t actually draw attention. So you try again.

You hand out twenty free copies of your book, and only get 5 reviews.

No one follows you on Facebook or Goodreads or Twitter.

You buy an ad and no one buys your book.

So fucking what? You keep trying, you keep writing and you keep doing what you’re doing. Why? Because we’re writers. We constantly invent and re-invent and we can do it with ourselves too.

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Location Research

 

I’ve chosen a¬†location for a story, and now I’ve begun the research. This might be one of my favorite parts of creating.

Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska. The biggest city in the Aleutian Islands and the largest commercial fishing port in Alaska. I’m finding this town incredibly fun to research, and the landscape so unique to describe.

I love choosing places I have never been to, I suppose it’s my endless thirst for knowledge that pushes me!