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Archive for October, 2011

I’ve been connecting with a lot more people on both Twitter and Goodreads lately. Social media is such an important part of the new Author Paradigm, as Karen Baney pointed out here recently, and it comes with pleasant surprises and support.

Author Norma Budden took the time to pick up my book and give a very nice review of it on her blog and on Amazon. We also had a chat and she has posted an interview of me today.

Back to the edit/rewrite closet I go 🙂 This week is devoted to writing 8 chapters (mine are all 3-5 pages) that were not in the first draft. I’m the backwards lady that always has to add…. 🙂

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I’ve read multiple lines that all say the same thing:

The second novel is much harder to write than the first

I breezed through the first draft of my second novel, Red Sky Warning, spending almost one less month writing it than I spent on the first book, Come the Shadows.

Great, right? Commence back-patting.

But the hip-hip-hoorays were short-lived. Only when I dove into the editing did I see the true nature of the idea that the second novel is harder than the first. Writing is more than just the first draft. It’s a process with many stages, layering onto the piece everything that makes it a good read in the end, and frequently ripping out a bits – large and small – in the process. In those changes the work truly takes flight, but it’s work, plain and simple.

I am finding that, contrary to what I hoped, editing the second book is far more challenging than the first. Come the Shadows was an inspired idea while Red Sky Warning is a much more cerebral exercise of continuing that story. I knew how I wanted book two to end but not exactly how I wanted to get there.

I took a few other ideas and added them in. Some of them I am now having to take out. The overall story has worked out very well, and I think it is a great follow-up piece, but it needs…refinement… that the first book did not need, or at least did not require to the same degree.

So yes, I must agree with the statement that it is much harder to write the second novel than the first, but what an experience! I know my craft grows and with challenge comes improvement. It will only get better (even if it won’t get easier) from here.

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Today I bring you the very first guest post on this blog, written by Indie Author Karen Baney. She and I are both participants in Melissa Foster’s big book launch on November 1st and she has a lot of valuable insights into the self-publishing world.

Okay.  So, I don’t really know the sure-fire way to double your sales as an author.  But, I can share with you what has been working well for me over the past three months—months where I’ve double my sales each month.

First, and most importantly, none of the following suggestions will be successful if you haven’t written a great novel and you don’t have a good cover.  Those two things are absolutely critical for your success as an author.

That little disclaimer aside, here are the three things that have helped me the most in the past three months.

Twitter

After much nagging from my hubby, “Are you on Twitter yet?  You need to be on Twitter.” I finally broke down and got on Twitter.  The first month I was on it, I could hardly figure out what to do with the thing.  I mean 140 characters is frightening to a word smith.  How was I going to say anything in that short space?

So, I started reading other people’s blogs about Twitter.  I learned about hash tags, how to schedule tweets, what kinds of things to tweet, and how to engage with others.  The first month I was on Twitter, my Amazon sales ranking went from somewhere around 108,000 to hovering around 35,000. Pretty good, say you?  I thought so.  And I doubled my sales from the previous month.

(Yes, my hubby was right – just don’t tell him I said so.)

But that wasn’t the only front of my marketing efforts.

Blogging

Yes.  I just said the dreaded “b” word.  But, let’s get real.  Blogging does help.

I’ve finally got in a routine with blogging.  I started a series highlighting the main characters from my Prescott Pioneers Series.  This blog series runs every Wednesday.  I include a photo (purchased for less than $5 at iStockPhoto), the character’s stats, and a few insider secrets that only I as the author know about the character.  My fans love it.  It also gives me a chance to promote my books in an interesting way.

The other blog series I started was a Friday post just for authors about various writing topics.  This is a great way to network with other authors and some of them may even buy my books too.  If nothing else, they will have learned something from my posts.

I’ve also recently added an author spotlight series on Mondays, where I feature interviews with other indie authors.

During this time frame, my Amazon ranking went from 35,000 to about 11,000.  Oh—you guessed it—I doubled my sales from the previous month getting very close to that 1,000 book a month barrier.

Then, the next big thing hit…

Cross Promotion

I finally had enough money coming in from my sales that I could spend a little extra on marketing.  So, I started snooping around to find some cheap ways of marketing.  Well, in that process, I connected with Melissa Foster, best-selling author on Amazon.  I was invited to participate in a big promotion (coming very soon).

This promotion hasn’t even launched yet, and I’ve seen tremendous benefit.  I’ve connected with 36 new author friends.  We’ve been helping cross promote for each other over the past month.  I’ve also learned from them ways to work smarter and not harder (like scheduling tweets, getting my book on various websites, etc.)

Since meeting this great group of people, my Amazon sales rankings have jumped from 11,000 to hovering around 2,500.  Wow!  I call that a success.  And… I doubled my sales from the previous month, finally breaking the 1,000 books a month barrier by a significant amount.

While I can’t guarantee you’ll see the same results, I hope I’ve given you a few ideas on how you, as an indie author, can market your books and reach out to new readers.

Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer.  Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing.  Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs.  She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Check out Karen’s blog at http://www.karenbaney.com/

Join us and over 30 other great authors for the 99 Cent Book Event, in celebration of the release of Melissa Foster’s latest novel COME BACK TO ME, Tues., Nov. 1 – Thurs., Nov 3. ALL BOOKS 99 CENTS, ebook giveaways, and more! www.womensliterarycafe.com

 

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November is going to be an incredibly busy month! I release Red Sky Warning at the end of the month on November 29th. Just before it I will have appearances on other blogs, TBA (and very open to invites 😉 ).  I also hope to release a short story in the middle of the month if I have the time. And to start it all off, at the beginning of the month I will participate in this launch party, hosted by the Women’s Literary Cafe!

Busy, exciting, wonderful times ahead!

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I finished a complete re-edit of Come the Shadows this weekend. I tried to stick with straight up errors (like fixing ‘out’ to ‘our’, as it should have been written) but made a few improvements too. I couldn’t help myself. I hope it’s much closer to error-free now and that readers continue to enjoy it!

As a writer, though, I have to look forward! Last night (after a drama-filled Monday that involved emergency room for me and loss of a baby tooth for my son – unrelated) I began the rough-and-dirty work on Red Sky Warning. While my husband works on the cover, which I can’t wait to unveil <happydance>, I have begun rewriting the opening of the novel. This will necessitate some rework of a few of the following chapters and then the general edit will commence. It’s exciting! I have a self-imposed two week deadline to get it to the point where I’ll let other eyes view it in its entirety.

Yeah, two whole weeks.

It seems like such a tiny window of time but I would never get ANYTHING done without deadlines. I’m a PROcrastinator. I know some authors will edit for months, or even years, but I simply can’t do that. If you told me I had 6 weeks or 6 months I would still take about 4 weeks to actually edit it and if I did, by some miracle, take 6 whole months to edit it I’d literally write so many drafts I wouldn’t know up from down. It just doesn’t work for me.

So, November 29th stands. Book two will be out and available. I will be on to the next….. 🙂

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It’s time to play catch-up.

Or drag my feet.

Whichever way you want to look at it.

Thursday evening I completely finished my massive typing job. I was disappointed to find out the book is currently only 48.5k words (Come the Shadows is 66k, almost exactly average for the genre) but know that editing turns into ADDING for me, instead of taking away. I write so quickly, with my mind jumping from one thought to the next, that I frequently leave out everything but the bare bones. That leaves me putting in the softer bits as I edit.

Here’s where the feet dragging starts. I love the results of editing. I know every change makes the book better. However, I really don’t like editing. And, well, I haven’t started it yet. I’m putting it off until Monday.

Before you go getting ideas of pedicures, days in the sun, and lazy naps I have to point out that I fill my feet-dragging time with more work, thank you very much. It’s a personality flaw.

So, while I drag my feet on editing Red Sky Warning (which comes out Nov 29th) I am doing other important stuff.

I am re-editing Come the Shadows.

Yeah, the girl who hates editing, is reediting the first book.

I’m not changing characters, plot or any other information. But I have found some errors I need to get corrected. Most people probably won’t notice them, but some will, and it’s my duty to give the most error-free work I can. If you have purchased an earlier copy and you find errors, please accept my apologies. I hate them, but find it very hard to catch them all even with numerous pairs of eyes looking for them. No excuses, just know that I hate them and I want to destroy them 10x more than you don’t want to see them. (Confused? Sorry 😉 )

I am half way through that process on Come the Shadows. I committed to finishing the full read and mark-up tonight, and actually implementing all changes and updating 4 different sites tomorrow (with different files) to ensure that moving forward there are fewer errors. I wish I could say it’s error-free but how often is a book completely error-free? Yeah.

That leaves me with the set-in-stone commitment to start the diligent, sweat-inducing editing of Red Sky Warning this Monday and gives me seven weeks to complete it. Yahoo. I love deadlines. Without them I’d never get anything done.

I’m not working alone this weekend, either. My lovely husband is hard at work on the cover for Red Sky Warning and I hope to share it with you all soon.

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The extended typing project is going well and by mid-week I will have the first draft of my second novel complete. Then it’s on to the editing! I have several pieces of news to share soon. October will be devoted to editing almost exclusively. November…..that’s another story. I will be polishing and polishing and polishing but I will also have a lot of great things going on, from day 1 through the 29th (when I am publishing the sequel novel), and beyond!

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