Questions, Answered!

It’s National Author’s Day!

Ellie the Author tagged me in a challenge for this special day and since I’m a better writer than speaker, I thought I’d do a blog post instead of a video, to answer her questions. Here are my answers. Thanks, Ellie, for including me!

How did you get started writing?

Within a period of 10 months, in 2012-2013, I lost 4 people in my life. 4 people who passed away from completely unrelated events, 3 of which were sudden and unexpected.

It shook me, hard.

At the time, I was working a good, solid job managing a medical clinic, but even though I was appreciated and treated well, it was a job that I just sort of fell into through the course of my career in healthcare administration, and I had lost my interest it.

Because of these shocking losses, I began to think about how short life actually is, and how tomorrow is never guaranteed.  We all know this in our logical minds, but sometimes, it takes a horrible loss or life event for it to truly sink in on a deep, cellular level.

I thought about all the things I told myself I’d like to do “someday”.  One of those things was writing a book.  I had recently recaptured my childhood love for reading and was reading a book every few days until there finally came a point where I said to myself, “I want to write a book of my own.”  If I didn’t do it “now” I may never have had the chance.  Because I could be gone tomorrow. 

So, I sat down in front of a blank Word Doc and started typing. I didn’t have a plot outlined.  I didn’t know where the story would go.  I didn’t know anything about the characters yet. All I had was a scene in my mind. 

Six months later, the first draft of The Fine Line was finished. 

Writing this first book was not easy. I am not a prolific writer. It took time, effort, and determination. It was emotionally draining because I felt like I was living through what the characters were experiencing. And if you’ve read it, you know it was a roller coaster of emotion! At the same time, I learned what it means to be truly passionate about something because when I was deep in the writing zone, hours would pass like minutes.

Writing and publishing The Fine Line was intense, scary, and exhilarating. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life!

What got you to where you are at in your career?

I’d love to say I’m happy with where I’m at in my writing career. Hopefully someday, I’ll get there. But the reality is…I’m far from where I’d like to be! 

I made mistakes when I published The Fine Line.  I knew I wanted to self-publish, but I didn’t know how to market effectively. Looking back, I would’ve waited to publish until I had a few books already written because once I hit publish, I became immersed in trying to get this book in front of readers.  I spent so much time and energy on marketing that I no longer had any time or energy for writing.  And because I didn’t have any books to publish in the near future, The Fine Line lost momentum fast, and I became discouraged.  

I didn’t expect the outpouring of love from the readers who did read this book, and at the same time, I didn’t expect the harsh, downright mean, criticism that came with it either. I also didn’t expect the shame or backhanded remarks in my personal life that came my way because of the genre (steamy romance) that I like to read and write.

Unfortunately, my mind fixated on the criticism and judgment more than the love, and I convinced myself that I suck at writing. This made it quite difficult to finish my next book because instead of focusing on the story, I focused on what readers would think of the story and whether or not I was writing a book that would not just be “respectable” but that would also sell, because, at the end of the day, I asked myself how could I possibly justify spending this level of time, money, and energy on something that had no ROI? Full disclosure…self-publishing, done right, has upfront costs, and at this point, almost seven years later, my ROI is still in the negative.

The bottom line is, I’ve been GTS, you guys! Goin’ through shit. For the last several years, to put it as vaguely as possible (because some things need to stay personal)…I’ve been struggling. In a whole slew of ways.

But this damn passion! I LOVE writing! I can’t get the stories in my head out of my mind and I really want to be able to write them! I know there are many supportive readers out there who are patiently waiting for my next book. (Thank you to each and every one of you!) And I know that if I just get over my insecurities…I can have a successful writing career.

I’m currently working on my writing confidence. Here’s to hoping this year’s NaNoWriMo will be the push I need to get back in the game.

Where do you want your career to go?

I’d love to be able to make a living from writing, but at this point, I need to set small goals for myself. Expecting my books to the source of my income gives me a feeling of overwhelm and ultimately paralyzes me. Eventually, I’d like to publish at least 3 books per year, but for now, my expectation has to be one that my mind perceives as attainable.

So, I’m challenging myself, this month, for NaNoWriMo, to write 500 words per day. I’m challenging myself to focus on the story I’m telling, not the opinions of readers (whether they be positive or negative). And, to make it happen, I’m challenging myself to LIMIT MY TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!! Lol. 😉

What now?

I’m going to be working hard to bring a new story to you. In the meantime, I could really use some cheerleaders! If you’re interested, there are so many things you can do! Here are some ideas:

*Subscribe to my newsletter for updates! (You’ll get a sample of The Fine Line when you do!)

*Join my readers’ group on Facebook, Kobishop Korner Cafe.

*If you haven’t picked up my books yet, please do! The eBooks cost less than Starbucks! And they are FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Would you prefer signed paperbacks? Get those HERE!

*If you’ve read my books and enjoyed them, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Your positive reviews can boost an author’s career!

*Words of wisdom, encouragement, or advice are always appreciated. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Thank you all for your support while I try to get my sh*t together and get the words written! I love you all!

7 Ways to Help an Indie Author

Most of my previous blog posts have been about my personal journey, or have promoted my book.  Today, I’d like to try something a little different.  Something a little more informative.

Since writing and self-publishing The Fine Line last year, I’ve learned a great deal about book marketing.  My friends, family, and acquaintances–people who are not familiar with the book reading/publishing/blogging community–have been incredibly supportive and have frequently asked what they can to do help promote me and my book.  I have come up with several ideas on how supporters can do just that.  Most are quite easy, most are FREE, and most would only take a few short minutes.

(If you can think of more, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment at the end of this post!)  

1. Buy the Book–On Release Day

Okay, this one isn’t free.  But it’s the most meaningful.  We all know how important it is to support your favorite authors by purchasing their book.  And with most self-published eBooks being at a reasonable price of $3.99 or less (sometimes even FREE), purchasing your copy can be more affordable than a movie ticket, a Frappuccino at your favorite coffee chain restaurant, or even a pack of gum.  And what’s more rewarding–a stick of gum that runs out of flavor in 10 minutes, or 5-10 hours of a great read?  Also, with the help of Amazon’s “one-click” resource, the purchase itself can be easier than–well–breathing.

Let’s take it one step further.  Sure, we know you’ll buy the book because doing so is the best way to support your favorite author, and you’re excited to read their next masterpiece.  By pre-ordering your copy (when available), or buying it on release day, you can help the author move up in the rankings of lists such as Amazon’s Best Sellers, hence making their book visible to other readers who may not have ever heard of said author.  High rankings bring buzz and attention.  Of course, if you missed release day, don’t let that stop you from one-clicking.  🙂

One MORE step further you say?  Awesome!  How about buying it as a gift for a friend?  And if you can get it signed first, even better.  Many authors will sign books that are mailed to them as long as you include a return (postage paid) envelope.  I know I will!

(Please check with the author or representative before sending a book to them.  And don’t forget the prepaid return envelope!  Without it, you may not get the book back).

2. Recommend the Book to Family, Friends, Acquaintances, the Mail Man, etc..

Social media is amazing (see #3).  You know what’s better?  Face to face communication.  Having lunch with friends?  Going to a wedding shower?  Bachelorette party?  Family reunion?  Try making a quick mention of this awesome book you just read.  It will not only “plug” the book you’re trying to promote, it’ll also be a great conversation starter.

Checking out at the grocery store, or post office?  Browsing the book section at your local Target?  Why not make this time a little more interesting?  Talk to someone.  Even a *gasp* stranger.  Participating in friendly small talk with strangers can make everyone involved feel good.  Try asking the cashier this: Do you read?  Or fellow book-browsing-customer this: Do you like (book’s genre)?  Then continue with something like: I just read this amazing book by (author’s name), and it’s only available online.  If they seem interested, write down the name of the book & author for them.

3. Spread the Word on Social Media

If you haven’t followed the author on their Blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever other social media networks you like to participate in, please do so!  If you haven’t signed up for their newsletter (if they have one), go for it!  “Like” their pages and recommend them to your friends.  It’s a great first step.

When the author posts information about releases, sales, contests, or anything else interesting, the best thing you can do is to share their post. Share it on Facebook or Google+, re-tweet it on Twitter, re-pin it on Pinterest.  Every little bit helps.

Want to make it more meaningful to your friends or followers?  When you share the content, include a small personal note about why you like the book, or author, or why they should click on the post.  A short message from you makes a huge difference!   

          (Note: Facebook is weird.  In order to make sure you see all of the author’s posts, click on the “like,” “follow,” AND “get notifications” buttons on their page.  Feel free to ask me if you have questions on how to do this.)

          (Note #2: Because of Facebook’s algorithms, page posts only get shown to 5-10% of page followers.  This means the likelihood of you NOT seeing a page post on FB is 95%.  So when you DO see it, “like” it, share it, and comment on it.  Interacting on the page in this way will make the post visible to more people.)

4. Spread the Word on Goodreads

Goodreads (GR) is a fabulous resource for authors and readers.  The reason I separated this from other social media networks is that there are so many awesome ways you can spread the word on GR.  A few are listed below.  If you can think of more, please feel free to comment at the end of the post!

Become a fan or friend of the author

Nominate or vote for the book on Listopia

Personally recommend the book to your GR friends (Click on the book you wish to recommend, then click on “recommend it” on the top right side of the page. Finally, choose the friends you wish to recommend the book to.)

Nominate the book for a “Group Read” in the related groups that you belong to

Talk about the book in your groups.  Just talking about it brings exposure to the book.  Recommending the book in your groups is great, too!

“Like” the 4 & 5 star GR reviews (Ignore the other ones.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.)

Haven’t read the book yet, but want to?  Look for someone on GR to do a buddy-read with you!

Post book status updates.  How far are you in the book, and what do you think so far? (And link the updates to your other social media networks)

5. Leave a Review

One of the best things you can do to support ANY author, indie or traditional, is to leave an honest review.  It can be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and/or anywhere else the book is sold.  The more places you post it, the better.  If you wish to include a description, or plot-points, feel free.  However, it’s totally fine for a review to be short, sweet, and to the point.  Simply including what you liked and/or what you wish would’ve been different in a few short sentences is wonderful.  I can’t say it enough…if you liked the book, please review it!

 6. Request or Reserve the Book at Your Local Library

If an indie author chooses to utilize “expanded distribution” with their print books, they make their books available to brick and mortar stores like Target and Barnes & Noble.  That being said, print on demand books are non-refundable in most cases which means the likelihood of a Barnes & Noble stocking an indie book is slim to none.

However, if you request an indie book at your local library, the chances are very likely that your library will order the book (if the author makes use of the expanded distribution option).  If the library is able to order it through their book vendor, they may just do so at your request.  Why not try it?  The library is a great place for readers to discover new authors (like the one you want to promote)!  And if you’re short on cash, or don’t have an e-reader, the library is a fabulous option.

Browsing your library’s website is great way to find out which books they have available before you make the trip.  If the library already has the book, place it on hold to make sure it will be ready for you when you get there.  If they don’t have the book yet, send an online request.  It’s easy and quick to do from the comfort of your own home.

7. Attend Author Events

Whether it’s a release party, a reading/signing, or multi-author event, you presence and support is what makes the sleepless nights, the time away from family, and the absolute terror of releasing your heart and soul to the world, all worth it for many authors.  Grab a friend, grab your book to be signed (if you have it) and go…have a great time.  It will mean everything to the author you want to support.

 

***Wow!  You made it to the end?  Thank you!  If you liked this post, I’d be ecstatic for you to share it! ***