Monday, April 15, 2013

10 Self-Publishing Mistakes

With Smashwords, Pubit, and Kdp, it is easy to self-publish. YAY!

However, it is not easy to be successful at self-publishing. What are the mistakes people make when they self-publish?

1. They publish too soon.
Just because you finished the first or second draft doesn't mean you are ready to publish.

2. They think self-publishing is free
Expect to spend money to self-publish. Editing and covers cost money.

3. They don't have a bunch of strangers read their books and give honest feedback.
Your family usually can't give you good feedback. You need a bunch of strangers to tell you the truth. And listen.

4. They don't hire a plot editor
You need someone to check through your book who is a professional. All traditionally published books have editors- you need one too.

5. They don't hire a copy editor
Once you've made all your plot changes, you must hire someone to do copy/line edits. Even with a copy/line editor, there will be a few lingering mistakes. Don't leave this to chance. Have the cleanest book possible.

6. They slap a sub-par cover on their book
Do you know how to use Photoshop? Are you great at it or just okay? Just okay doesn't cut it. Your cover is what sells your books. You better make sure yours is great and not only to your eyes. Ask strangers. Hire a cover artist if your cover doesn't take their breath away.

7. They don't get at least 10 reviews before they hit publish
When you hit publish, you need to get reviews and fast. The best way to do that is to get about 20 people to read and write a review they send to you before your book is published. Then, the day you publish, you send a copy of the review along with link to your book page to review it. That helps give you credibility.

8. They spam everyone over and over again instead of using a team to announce their release 
People like to hear from you once or twice, but no more. You need to gather a team of 20 or so people who will announce everything for you.

9. They expect to be a millionaire with their first book
It may take a year for your book to take off. It may never take off. It may take off when you've written and published your third novel. It may take off right from the start. Make sure your expectations are set 2 years from the time you start. Expect nothing but work for everything.

10. They expect everyone to love their book
There is not a single book that appeals to all readers. Make sure you realize this and market to the right people. The best way to get bad reviews is to get the wrong people reading your book. Market smart.

Make sure you do it right if you choose to self-publish. It can be the best decision of your life or not. You decide by doing it correctly the first time.

Are you tempted to self-publish? Why?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Calling to Write

One of the books I read when I was a little girl was a Readers' Digest Condensed version of Through the Narrow Gate, the story of a girl who decided to enter a convent and then later leave it again. It's been years since I read it so I might not be getting all the details right, but she felt called to become a nun, and then later, felt called to reenter the outside world. She has since become an expert on world religion and lived a remarkable life.

I've been thinking about "callings" today. Some people think of a "calling" as an angelic voice from on high with trumpets and crashing symbols and a thundering voice telling us what to do, and in truth, sometimes we're so reluctant to hear that it does take something pretty dramatic to get our attention. I believe, though, that most of the things we should do are spoken to us softly, without all the fanfare. 

Writing is one of those things.

You've felt that urge to write, or you wouldn't be reading this blog. You've felt stories inside you, you've heard characters talk to you. You see the world through the lens of books, and that's how you know you've been called to write - because the urge is there.

Don't ever question if you're supposed to be a writer. You know you've be less of yourself if that spark wasn't inside you. Don't let the haters talk you out of doing something you love. Don't let the critics keep you from growing and progressing. 

This is you. This is who you are supposed to be. And as for the rest of it, you'll figure that out as you go.

Keep writing, keep being yourself. It's a beautiful thing. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Summer Workshop . . . and Character Personalization

We've got a full schedule for our Summer Writers Workshop
on July 12 & 13, 2013. You can register on the right. ------>

As I write this post, I've also been listening to Richelle Mead's newest contribution to her Vampire Academy breakout series, Bloodlines. This is the third book with Sydney and Adrian. Now, Adrian (a Moroi-- "good vampire" who can do magic and doesn't burn up in the sun but is fatigued by too much exposure to it) is very different than human Sydney (an alchemist whose people help the Moroi but only because alchemists view them as evil and must be kept from humans)

One of the things that strikes me as I listen to these books (I'm a huge audiobook fan) is how well Mead handles the unique and often quirky personality differences between Sydney and Adrian. And I'm not just talking about the fun voice differences the reader provides.

Adrian is a recovering playboy. Kind of. lol He's funny and he's flirty and he's self-denigrating. Adrian's flawed and still finding his way as he deals with his magic (which could eventually drive him insane--literally). Some examples of his comments
“I know how devastated you must be to miss me, but leave a message, and I'll try to ease your agony” 
“Who is he?"
"An idiot," said Adrian. "Makes me look like an upstanding member of society.” 
“You look confused," said Adrian.
I shook my head and sighed. "I think I'm just overthinking things."
He nodded solemnly. "That's why I try to never do it.” 
Now the books are written in first person--from Sydney's POV--so we don't get into Adrian's head the same way, but his comments do a great job of showing the reader what frame of mind he's in at the moment.

Mead has more flexibility with Sydney because of the first person writing, but I think this is where the author excels. The things that Sydney notices and thinks about are so "Sydney." She's brilliant, analytical, and totally a novice when it comes to feelings. Even her battle scene descriptions reflect how she views the world. She's a rule keeper and even her internal thoughts reflect that--if she's trying to break into someone's apartment and the ratty fire escape looks like it needs repair, she'll wonder why someone didn't report it, all while she's hanging two or three floors above the group.

This is what we need to do with our characters. Make sure that we're capturing the uniqueness that is each one. Do you have any tips for doing that?