Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm on the move - and so are you. Buckle up.

I've recently happened upon some advice that self-publishers need to stop blogging about self-publishing, and instead have an author's blog.  Guilty as charged.  But not for long.  Check out my new blog at  Plans for this blog include weekly short story fiction posts featuring characters from the Akasha Series, sample reads, guest author posts, resources for readers and of course plenty of polls, contests and giveaways.

Now for the hard part; I can transfer all my followers from Twain Wannabe to my author blog.  Problem is, half of you joined for self-publishing tips, half to sign up for giveaways, and half because you are friends or family (ok - my math may be a little off).  But I can't just move half of you; it is all or nothing.  So off you go.  I apologize in advance if you prefer to remain a member of Twain Wannabe.  But honestly, my author blog is, well...prettier.  I plan to make the move by the end of the weekend. 

I also plan to continue posts on Twain Wannabe about book marketing and self-publishing, so please feel free to sign up - again.  See you on the other side!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The First 6.5 Steps for Self-Publishers

Thank the laaawwwd November is over.  That thing I did – with the 50,000 words in a month – I don’t even want to say the name anymore, well – it’s over.  And I won.  I think I get a certificate and the neato badge over there on the left. 

After the high of knowing I accomplished my goal, I hit a very low, well…low.  I had just spent a month doing nothing to market my books already published, and my sales numbers suffered – big time.  I am finding it hard to get back into the whole sales aspect, not to mention one of the most difficult parts of writing (for me, anyway) – editing.  And the crap I churned out in November needs a lot of it.

But in retrospect, November was good for me.  I learned what writing habits work, and what don’t, and most importantly, I was able to set a writing schedule and stick to it.  Now, back to the daily grind.  For all of you Twain Wannabes and new self-publishers, I want to share what your first steps should be:

1 – Write a good book: Already you’re thinking I know, I know.  But if your book hasn’t been edited, by a professional, or at least a critique group – it’s not ready.  My book has been through both, and people still find a few mistakes here and there.  Wow – did I just admit that?  And don’t forget to spare the expense for good cover art – a note about my experience with cover art here.

2 – Get on Goodreads.  This can be done even before you self-publish.  Write reviews, join groups, make friends that are interested in the same genre as you.  These people will eventually be your followers and fans; some of your first buyers, even.  That is after your grandma and best friends bought all their copies.  There is a great podcast by Freisen Press introducing you to the basics of Goodreads, and an awesome blog series about Goodreads by Robin Sullivan, small-press publisher.

3 – Follow some people.  Twitter is a good place to do this.  My favorite, most helpful tweeters for self-publishers include @tonyeldridge, @novelpublicity, @elizabethscraig, @annerallen, and @bookbuzzr.

4 – Do some giveaways.  A good place to start is with I am a Reader, Not a Writer, who almost constantly has a blog hop giveaway happening, and makes it very easy on you to sign up (quick note – you will need a blog or website to do this….ok so backtrack – step 3.5 build a blog or website).  Giveaways are a great way to get the word out and to get some reviews under your belt.  My giveaways usually promise the second book in my series for free if the reader posts a review and send me a link by a certain date.  I have had great responses to this tactic.  And either I wrote a very, very awesome book – or the reviewers are kind because they are grateful they received a free copy – or both.  Yes, I did just admit that.  Oh, by the way, Goodreads has an ebooks giveaway group run by the great Coral Russell.

5 – Send out review requests.  See the post by yours truly about querying book bloggers.  This is an all-important step to boosting the visibility of your product.

6 – Write another good book.  Just remember: series sell, singles – not so well.  Totally made that up just now.  It probably won’t seem so clever when I re-read this post in the morning.  But it is true.  Multiple books out on the market all promote each other.

7 - ???  If I could figure out how to insert a bigger question mark, I would, but it is getting late.  This is the step in which I currently reside.  Welcome.  During the next few months, in addition to the time I spend editing, of course, I plan on doing some research.  Finding out what works with Amazon algorithms, exploring Goodreads more in depth, strengthening my author platform, buzzword, buzzword, buzzword – and I will post all about it.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quit Watching Your Pot

This month, I have been focusing very little on advertising my book as I participate in National Write a Novel in a Month for the very first time.  Truthfully, my books sales have suffered.  But that doesn’t matter so much as I had very few sales to begin with.

What I have done in the way of marketing is plenty of giveaways.  I’ve had one  giveaway or another happening since mid-October.  So far, the giveaways haven’t produced many new sales, and they probably won’t, at least not until I get the next books in each series published.  But what they have produced are reviews, many from book bloggers who aren’t even accepting review requests, and also followers.

I checked in with my numbers today.  My facebook fan page has doubled in ‘likes’, as have my twitter followers and blog subscribers.  I’m sure the experts will tell you this is an all important step in building a fan base (well, duh).

Still, I was amazed at what happened to my numbers.  The old adage, ‘a watched pot never boils’ comes to mind here.  But I am admittedly obsessed with numbers, so I can’t not watch my pot for too long. 

Check out my latest guest post and giveaway at Alexia’sChroniclesMy advice to all of you Twain Wannabe’s?  Give.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo - You are a fickle, fickle, whore. And so is your mother.

I was going to say bitch in the title but I'm trying to keep this blog PG.  Quick update on my writing this month – it is sucking.  Literally.  It is sucking the life right out of me.  Why is one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening so hard?  I'll tell you why – because if you don't accomplish it, you fall behind very quickly.  Then you begin to question your very skills as a writer, and motivation is fleeting.  The first week went well, the second week – not so much.  A few things I have definitely learned:

1 – The month of October needs to be WAY busier than the month of November.  Meaning, October should be filled with researching, planning and plotting.  It is fine if you write well on a whim, but it is soooo, soooo necessary to have a plan for when your muse fails you.  Additionally, if you already have books out, October should be spent pre-marketing for November.  This means blog posts, interviews, giveaways and blog hops all planned in advance so it is a quick copy and paste exercise in November, allowing you to return to your wonderful cocoon-like writing world.

2 – They should shut down Twitter AND Facebook for the month of November.  Unless you are counting your tweets and posts toward your 50,000 word goal, which I do.  The trick to writing is setting aside time, but the secret to productive writing is turning off all the gadgets during your time.  I firmly believe there are little 'time' demons running around, that have some sort of agenda against NaNoWriMo, who cause your phone to buzz when someone @mentions you on Twitter or makes the little red circle next to the Goodreads mail icon to pop up.  In fact, I may write a book about these demons.  The nemesis of whom, will be the angels sending e-mail notifications alerting you someone has bought your book on Smashwords.  Those are interruptions I welcome. 

3 – December is going to suck worse than November.  I am not looking forward to the many hours ahead of reviewing, editing and revising the crap I am producing.  But, I will march on, and at least turn it into polished crap.  Then my editor and critique group will march on and turn it into the most wonderful piece of writing forever and ever.  Well, maybe not forever.  Forever is a long time and I just can't be sure.

4 – Hate mail works!  For some reason, giving myself an outlet to spew curse words at NaNoWriMo about how much this sucks, has allowed me to break though that writer's block.  I was able to churn out this post in less than 10 minutes.  Ain't blogs grand?

So my goals for the third week?  Catch up on my goals for the second week.  And for the fourth week?  This will be the week I use writing as an excuse to avoid holiday get-togethers with my in-laws as much as possible.  I take what I said about you back, NaNoWriMo, perhaps you aren't so bad after all.  Are we still friends?  No?  Fine - you take the bed tonight.  I have writing to do anyway.  

And now I can add another 558 words toward my 50,000.  Score!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More about You

Thanks to my last post, I received great advice on finding my muse - and what to do about it even if she remains MIA.  Soon, I'll combine all the advice with some witty banter and catchy phrases, and make a great post out of it.  In fact, this advice is so great - I was even able to churn out a few guest posts in addition to my NaNoWriMo novel.  Check out the latest one at The Next Best Book Club, and if you missed my previous guest post, it is still up at Indies Unlimited.

Still can't get enough of me?  I have a new page on my blog; just click on 'More of Me'.  But enough about me - let's focus on you.  YOU should check out the latest promotion on 'Water', found under 'My Books'.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Not-So-Lofty Goals

Quick update on my writing this month.  I am closing in on 10,000 words, which puts me right on track for my 2,000 words/day goal.  The problem is, I am running out of inspiration.  At first, I had clear goals what I was going to write.  Goals that I have already accomplished.  So apparently, I need loftier goals.

Which is why I am writing a blog post; I simply don't know what else to write.  But just so you know, each word in this post most definitely counts toward NaNoWriMo totals.

While my muse is on vacation, I do have some semi-helpful writing tips to share:
  • Set aside time.  I do one hour before the kids wake up and one hour after they go to bed each day.  Come to find out, this is not the worst thing in the world, and is a schedule I can conceivably continue even after November; as long as the coffee holds out and the baby doesn't develop some awful form of insomnia.
  •  Turn stuff off.  This includes your Twitter screen, Facebook account, e-mails, etc.  One quick glance leads to several minutes, and possibly hours, of distraction.
  • Check in with friends right before you start writing for the day.  Look at their word count totals, let your competitive side take over – and totally leave them in the dust!  Feel free to add me as a writing buddy (I am Terra Harmony) on the NaNoWriMo website so I can totally leave you in the dust.
  • Use non-writing time to do your thinking and planning.  While you are in the shower you can come up with a name for that new character you just introduced.  When you are driving to work, think of your next plot twist.  If you get stuck while writing, use XXX. This does not mean 'insert extremely vulgar porn here'.  It is a method I use to bookmark places I need to revisit to fill in the blanks.
 That is really all the advice I have.  This is my first year and I'm still trying to figure out what works.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a muse to hunt down, hog-tie and strap to my desk, feeding her just enough water to survive but keeping her weak enough to never escape again.  Oh – just thought of a new scene… 

Monday, October 31, 2011

In a Shock and Awe Sort of Way

Decided to do a last minute post before I delve into NaNoWriMo.  If I do what I'm supposed to be doing, there won't be many blog posts during the month of November.  I'll try to focus solely on writing new material and will be judiciously ignoring my laundry, kids, cleaning duty and most marketing efforts.  I say 'most' marketing efforts because I will continue to participate in blog hops and giveaways.  I've decided to cordon off an upper section of my blog to devote to these announcements.  The Spooktacular Blog Hop Giveaway has led to an increase in blog followers; I have yet to find out if it has led to an increase in sales; I'll do the science later – after November.  No Science in November (NoSciNo).

I will also release another vampire short, a prequel to Gleaming White.  The only thing left to do is cover art – and out it goes!  You may see a tweet or two when it is done.

I find myself at an awkward stage in the publishing process; I have two polished ebooks published that have made ok sales, but certainly not enough to turn a profit (50 or so book sales between the two of them).  Meanwhile, I anxiously await the posting of reviews.  I have certainly expected some to churn out by now, but I am holding off on harassing the reviewers for fear of being black-listed.

I have resorted to other methods of garnering reviews:

1 – E-book giveaways on Goodreads (offered the first of my vampire short story book to the first ten commenter's, then offered the second in the series for free if they post a review before a certain date).

2 – E-book giveaways on blog hops: Same premise – give away the first, offer the second if they post a review.

3 – If a reviewer doesn't have the time to read your book, counter with an offer to do a guest blog post, interview, or giveaway on their site.  I've recently received a lot of exposure this way.

But now what do I do while I sit back and wait for the reviews to flow in, thereby magically increasing my sales numbers?  I write more books...duh!  With all this marketing, researching, and experimenting, it is easy to forget that above all, we are writers.  I am hoping that the month of November will bring me back to that concept (in a shock-and-awe sort of way).

Good luck to all you Twain Wannabes attempting NaNoWriMo, and follow me afterwards to figure out what to do next!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Hi there all – I'm trying to boost sales with a few marketing strategies, including giveaways.  Wha-whaat?  Increase sales by giving away stuff – for free?  Hells to the yes!

This one is hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer I have 10, count them, 10 free e-books to giveaway for my Vampire Short Story, Gleaming White, in honor of Halloween.  And, if the winners leave a review on Amazon by November 15th, 2011 and provide me the link, they will receive a free copy of the second book in the series, Streaks of Red, to be released in November.  Disclaimer: There is adult content in both short stories!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post between October 24th and October 31st.  10 winners will be chosen at random and will be contacted by November 3rd.  

PLUS, you can gain another entry by 'liking' my page on Facebook or Amazon (two extra entries if you do both).  Just leave a comment to this post with your e-mail address, and be sure to let me know if you 'liked' me on Facebook, Amazon, or both so I can account for your extra entries. 

Now go to I Am A Reader Not A Writer and enter the rest of the 400+ giveaways.  Good luck and Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo = NotSoPubRedNo

As I sit here, thinking about NaNoWriMo – I started freaking out.  There was a reported a surge in self-published ebooks that had no business being on the market in December of last year (unsubstantiated, I did no science).  I can only attribute this to NaNoWriMo participants who were naive enough to believe they had a publish-ready novel after a month long 2000+ words/day writing binge (for the sake of this article, we will refer to them as NotSoPubRedNo's).

This scared me as a self-publisher of ebooks.  Would anything I put out in the few months after NaNoWriMo be automatically labeled a NotSoPubRedNo?  Probably.  If I were a book review blogger I might just be inclined to reject all submissions at least until February.  That is probably why I am not a book blogger.

To combat the NotSoPubRedNo plague, I will take two approaches. 

1 - Get out all my review requests for completed works by the end of November.  So yes, I am back to stalking reviewers.  I found a creepy, new method too.  For those that are closed to reviews or those who haven't responded to a request – find them on Goodreads, friend them, suggest your book.

2 -  Start a campaign within the NaNoWriMo community to just say no to NotSoPubRedNo's or in other words...NoNotSoPubRedNo (ok – I am probably getting a bit ridiculous here, I blame the rum).

This campaign will consist of tweeting, facebooking, google +ing, blogging, talking, Morse coding, smoke-signaling (again with the rum) all the steps writers must take after NaNoWriMo to produce a PubRedNo.  See what I did there?  Hashtag it.  Tweet it. 

Step 1:
Finish it.  50,000 words does not a novel make.

Step 2:
Edit it.  Substantively, professionally.

Step 3:
Edit it again.  Grammar, punctuation.

Step 4:
Critique it.  Join a group; get feedback.

Step 5:
Edit it again.

Step 6:
Cover art.  Hire those Mormons - see my post on why.

Step 7:

Step 8: 
Publish then market that bee-atch!  Bee-yatch.  Beetch.  None of those look right.  I'll have to google it.

So there you have it.  Eight steps.  Boom!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Self-Publishers: Take the Twitter Oath

So you are self-publishing...then you need to be on Twitter.  Once you have an account; decide what your message will be.  Make it about your books, self-publishing, your writing process, but pick one and stick with it.  Multiple messages will be confusing for your followers.  My aim @harmonygirlit is to tweet about the self-publishing process.  After you have chosen your platform, hold your right hand up in the air and repeat after me: 

Now that you have taken the Twitter oath, sign up for an account at and start tweeting!  First things first, learn to tweet directly.  Try it by sending me this tweet: 

@harmonygirlit love your blog, took the twitter oath.  

I promise to follow you until I get that first tweet about your lunch.  Then you will be promptly 'unfollowed'.  Putting someone's twitter identifier at the beginning of your tweet will send a direct message (DM) to them and won't be sent out to the rest of your followers.

Follow Someone
Now, go out and find some people to follow.  Try to only follow people important to your platform.  If necessary, create another 'personal' twitter account to follow your best friend and the news.  If you are following dozens of people, make separate lists so you don't have to scroll through thousands of Twitter messages to find something useful.  This can be done under your homepage under 'lists'.

Where it's @
Check the @mentions button on your twitter homepage often.  These are where direct messages from others to you show up.  Don't ignore them!

Remember to include #hashtags with most of your tweets.  They allow you to 'tag' your tweets so they are included on a long list of every other tweet with that hash tag.  Every time I include a hashtag my follower base grows slightly.  For a list of hashtags specific to writing and the self-publishing industry, see my 'Twitter Resources' guide under my resources section of the blog.

Retweets (AKA RT)
My followers also grow every time my tweets get retweeted.  Granted, I only have two retweets – but I did get a boost in followers – both times it happened!  Don't be shy about asking followers for a retweet, but don't be annoying about it, either.

Twitter Conferences (for lack of a better term)
I've also participated in several twitter conferences using TweetChat.  Agents, publishers and writers will set aside a day and time for question and answer sessions via twitter – followable by including a hash tag.  @bradfordlit and @colleenlindsay will often do this and #bookcountry will often host (just a few examples).

Linking Up
Oh, and don't forget to link your twitter feed to your other platforms; Facebook, Amazon author page, Goodreads, etc.

More Stuff
Be sure to download my Twitter Resources guide on the resources section of my blog.  In addition to hashtags, it has websites that help you find followers and websites to help you decipher 'twitter speak'.

Confession time:  I only have 27 twitter followers.  Wait let me check...yep, still just 27.  So you'll have to excuse me while I go follow my own advice – I'll let you know how it goes...

Friday, October 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo - The Devil Wrapped up in a Twinkie. Sounds Delicious.

(The title was just to get your attention.  It worked, suckers.)

When a member of my writing group first asked me, "Are you doing NaNoWriMo?"
My immediate response was, "What'd you just call me?"
He explained.  Sounded like torture.  I said I was in.  My biggest concern, of course, is how it will affect my favorite holiday of the year.  My kids I can ignore, my day job can suffer, my laundry can stay dirty – we will all probably survive the month.  But that feast must go on.

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, we have started to hear a lot of *ugh*, *sigh* and *not again*'s from within the writing and publishing communities.  Many people take umbrage with the fact that a novel can be written in a month.  On SheWrites, an author recently posted a blog 'Just Say No to NaNoWriMo'.  I felt compelled to reply, as did many others.  Chuck Wendig (avid tweeter, writer, creator of Terrible Minds) has many things to say about the NaNoWriMo.  Some good, some bad, some not for the faint of – ear?

As Chuck would say, 50,000 words does not a novel make.  No one participating should be under the illusion they will have a marketable product by the end of November.  The NaNoWriMo website itself says, "The ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output.  It’s all about quantity, not quality.  Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap."

What this will do is force writers to write – perhaps discover the plot, storyline or characters as you type away instead of hashing them out in advance.  It'll get you past that writer's block – in fact, it will force you to punch that block square in the face and that is after you mow it down with a semi-automatic weapon.  Yes, my friends, it will be gory.

But you can do it!  Use resources offered; participate in forums, tweet about your progress (use hashtag #nanowrimo), find local writers and create a group.  But most of all – write!  Aim for 2,000 words a day, every day.  When you get stuck, move on.  Start a different story, introduce a new character, write about how much you hate your life.  Anything!  Besides, if you 'win' (yes, NaNoWriMo has conceded to the gamification of society), you receive special offers from the sponsors.

I am curious to find out exactly how soon after November we see a surge in self-published e-books (or a surge in divorce rates, for that matter).  Makes me want to get out more review requests now.  Just keep in mind Twain Wannabe's, that months of adding to, subtracting from, editing, formatting, cover art and more editing will be in your future after NaNoWriMo.  With luck, you can have all that done by July 2012 – just in time to start prepping for the next NaNoWriMo. 
Damn – I am getting sick of writing that word, acronym, whatever it is.  Did I mention I am a writer?

Anyway, excuse my blog for the month of November while I will mostly be blogging about how much I hate writing.  But follow me afterwards, as we can 'finish up' and tackle the self-pubbin' beast together.

NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words, GO!!!  Yes, go…you really don't have to wait until Nov. 1.