Monday, August 29, 2011

Tour of My Reader Site

My READER SITE is an answer to the problem I see of writers mixing their audiences with writer blogs. The only cost we've spent on the site is hosting space on Go Daddy. I am using Wordpress. My logo I created with Gimp. You just go to File, Create, Logo, and this is a Glossy with purples and pastel gradients. 

I picked a very simple design because as I add pictures, links, and posts, the simple design will help minimize the clutter. I am using ZeeCorporate for my theme.

CHAT: I installed the plugin for Chatroll and signed up for an account at It's free for up to 10 people chatting at a time. I want to offer a weekly chat with readers as a modern day update of the Meet the Author events. You can pick the color and size of the chat window, as well as if people can share links. What's nice is people can log in with Facebook, Twitter, or their own Chatroll log in.

Extras: I installed the plug in Pages Post to allow me to create a page that shows posts of a certain category or tag. I created the category Extras: Behind the Scenes CANCELLED. Each book will have their own page under the parent of Extras. You have to create the page first, then go into the Pages Post setting to say designate the page as a display of posts with a certain category. Pre plan this out to keep things organized. To password protect the posts, I just changed the Visibility (it's a setting in the top right corner) to Password Protect, then picked a password and saved.

I didn't want my password protected posts to show up on the front page. They're supposed to be kinda secret for people who have read my books. So I needed another plug in. Front Page Category lets you check mark which categories you want to show on the front page of your site, the main area. I just unchecked Extras and the child categories underneath it, and voila! No posts of extras on the front page.

I will add more to this as I develop the site. But this is the under the hood walkthrough for any other writer who wants to create a reader centric site.

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Free Advertising On My Reader Site

I just overhauled my reader site because we changed to Go Daddy for hosting. I have 4 spots for 125x125 ads on I would love to feature other indie authors/resources for readers. This site is NOT for writers, so if you are trying to sell a book about writing, this isn't the right venue. I know one spot will be taken up with a spot for the But I am open to other suggestions. I will be leaving up the first set at least through the middle of October. 

For individual books, I would like to read a copy first (and no, it doesn't have to be free, if your summary grabs me, I'll buy it and read it). I am making this site personally for my readers and don't want to recommend books I myself did not enjoy. It's nothing personal. I am not charging for these ads, and my site will be a link at the front and back of each of my ebooks. There will also be weekly chat. The ads do show up on every page. Also coming is super secret behind the scenes information for my readers to access via password in the ebook.

If you're interested, please email me with the information on the contact page.

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Small Victory, 30 Days to Publication

Since dancing animals went over so well yesterday, this is for you @Christinenolfi!

I detabbed my manuscript and removed all extra spaces!!! If could Irish line dance, I'd be doing it! :) The above clip is from a show my daughter and I watch called Shaun the Sheep. It's by the same people who do Wallace and Gromit. From a mother's POV, this show is awesome because NO ONE TALKS. Yep. That's right. Everything is communicated through music and sound effects, but no talking. I wrote many scenes of CANCELLED to the background noise of Shaun the Sheep.

It feels awesome to have the file ready for ebook formatting, even though I still need to edit more. I couldn't help myself reading a little as I went along, and man, I'm still in love with this story. I still laugh out loud at parts. It's a little surreal, because *I* wrote it. But when I read it, I feel like it's some other author's work I'm deliciously getting a sneak peek at. (Don't worry, it's really, really mine. I have the 20 plus different files showing the progression of the story, LOL). Anyone one else get that sometimes when they read their own work? Like it's not theirs?

Goals for this week:

Finish up the editing. 

Get my husband to move my reader site to a host so I can get my links straight.

Make reader site 100% ready to go!

Setup a reader email address I'm willing to make public.

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#ROW80 Check In: "I Like to Move It, Move It"

This isn't a pun about my move to Connecticut, although it works on that level, too, I suppose. No, this is the theme song for the next month, our last month in this round of A Round of Words in 80 Days. It is direct response to my perfectionism/procrastination blog post from Friday. If I'm moving it (getting stuff done), I'm NOT procrastinating. If I'm moving it, I sending a big, fat raspberry to my crippling perfectionism. PPPPPPPPPPPPFFFFFTTTTTT!!!!! ;)

To start, today I am moving over the entire .txt file of my manuscript into the ebook formatting master and fixing the tabs and formatting in one fell swoop. ****TABS are EVIL. NEVER, EVER use them! Use the ruler at the top to set your indentations, TRUST ME! (PSA over)**** Then, I will go back and start making the penned edits into the computer. I still have about 14 chapters to pen edit. 

I think the methodology might work better for me. I was going chapter by chapter with the copying and pasting from the .txt file, then editing. It's too easy for me to self-congratulate myself that way without seeing how much work to go. This way, I can see the final page count (200) and still go chapter by chapter editing. I can still be proud of myself when I finish each chapter, but still see I'm only up to Page 36 out of 200, or Page 57 out of 200, etc. This gives me a more realistic sense of a progress bar.

So, goals for today: get whole kit and kaboodle tabs fixed.
Finish making computer edits up to Chapter 7
Work on pen edits tonight, get up to Chapter 20.

THAT would put me at about a full 35% complete for both a clean copy AND an ebook file. Remember, I'm doubling duty. I have two weeks to finish so I can print one more time, and pen edit during my move when I will be without Internet (might be a good thing). Then, I will make last few changes and VOILA! I'm ready to publish an ebook!!! 

:Singing:: I like to move it, move it.  

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Crippling Perfectionism Is Killing Me

I have a perfectionist streak a mile and a half long. For those with this same problem, you're nodding your heads in sympathy. For those of you without a perfectionist streak, you're raising your eyebrows and thinking "But that's a good thing!"

No. No it's not. There is a very big difference between working towards your best and settling only for perfection. The later is next to impossible to achieve, so it derails your best plans. When you CAN'T be perfect, you quit. It really doesn't help when you've been blessed with mental abilities higher than the average person in the same way some people are blessed with athletic skills higher than the average person. If I could play football as well as I can problem-solve, memorize, and complete academic work, and if I was male, I would be a millionaire. 

Here's two examples from the last two days. See the picture above? I created the gold sticker on the right side. I *almost* squashed it completely. To me, it looks awful because it's NOT perfect. See how the "e" in AVAILABLE is just a little too shadowy? Yes, I know, I'm being Thankfully, I had a friend over just as I finished it, right before I trashed it completely in frustration. She saw it and said "Girl, that looks like a sticker on a print book. It looks good!" completely unprompted. This made me do a double-take. Maybe I was holding myself to a slightly impossible standard, especially given the fact I have never taken or studied graphic design (on my to-do list).

Another example is I was going through the first three chapters that are extremely polished. I was working on them to put them up on Scribd with the new picture up there as a sample for readers 1 month out from my publishing date. I'm STILL finding not really errors, but places to improve the writing. I'm thinking this is never going to end. I lost my patience last night and my husband was next to me thinking something was truly wrong. I let it out, how I kept finding things to change and improve and he told me I had to stop. That if I didn't let them go I'd never finish editing the rest. 

First book, Elizabeth, not last book. 

On top of all of this stress, my children are both home and we're moving in exactly two weeks from today. In 14 days I will lose about 6 days to travelling up to CT and unpacking. A week. That means I really NEED to finish editing in two weeks, 22 chapters. 

Okay enough blog posting, I need to get to work. I'm sorry if I sound offensive to anyone, it isn't meant so. This isn't false humility making light of a strength into a weakness. My strength is my intelligence, and I am very thankful for those skills. But with it came a psychological hiccough. I love to procrastinate to the last minute and this is shameful to admit why.... I love to procrastinate so that when I finish at the last minute, I can feel proud of being faster than most other people even if the work isn't perfect. You see, one way perfectionists overcome the fear of making a mistake is to artificially create a situation where mistakes are acceptable, such as a last minute project. 

You can even see it in my manuscript writing. I dragged my feet, dragged my feet until I was LATE, then jammed out 18,000 words in 3 days. What is that? I can't even say that I wish I didn't have these issues, as I said, they are a package deal with my creativity and knowledge. But just like others work with other weaknesses, these are mine that plague me and I am just feeling more aggravated about them than usual with this whole editing process. 

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I feel like a little kid, running around shouting "WWEEEEEEWOOOOOOOO WWWEEEEEEEWOOOOO." :) I can't believe we're half way to the end of the A Round of Words in 80 Days Round 3 (#ROW80). I am so very thankful for the program of like-minded authors, with very different goals, urging and encouraging each other through blogs, tweets, and other positive messages.

I have been away for about two weeks because my family's move to Connecticut from South Carolina just jumped up the timetable by 2 months! No worries, I'm not letting it derail me! :)

So where am I in regards to publishing my first novel, CANCELLED? Am I about half-way there? Yes. Yes, I think so. 

Whoa. That's pretty cool, isn't it? I did have a few changes to the itinerary along the way. I am still editing, but it's finally going really well. I now have two chapters I'm very proud of, and now that I know what that takes, it will be easier with the other 26. My reader website has most of the major components I wanted, and just need the outlines filled in. 

How am I still going to make it by September 22? Well, one time saver is I am formatting for an e book as I edit, stripping each chapter of all formatting before pasting it into the final document. Another is rather than give my pre-readers a month to read, I'll just give them the book when it comes out. That way they can leave a review on Amazon etc. if they so choose. 

There is still a big unknown and that is my move to Connecticut. I will lose regular Internet on September 2, and probably won't regain it until the middle of September. Yikes! I am going to need to plan around that, but I can do it. I'm hoping to make a final print of the manuscript for a last look for typos and the like. That will be very good to do, unplugged. :)

What about you? How is your mid-point in the #ROW80 process going?

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Other FANTASTIC A ROUND OF WORDS IN 80 DAYS PARTICIPANTS! Check out their blogs and leave them some encouragement!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Self-Published Author: Making Tough Calls Like Moving a Publishing Date

Self-publishing is all about you. You the author; you the publisher; you the marketer. When the tough calls come, the pressure and decision stops with you. This is the predicament I find myself in, trying to publish my first book.

My husband is in the military and we have two children. My oldest is my super-stepson and he lives with us. Unfortunately, the reason he lives with us is because the other home is not very stable at the moment. Poor kiddo has seen too much. He is starting the 6th grade, and originally our move this year from Charleston, SC to Groton, CT was going to happen in October after he finished a 9 weeks here. Well, Navy housing completely let us down, and we have to rent out in town. I didn't want to risk waiting until the end of October for something decent to be on the market, and keep my oldest out of school for 2-3 weeks while we found something and moved in. So, I jetted up last weekend to CT to house hunt, and the hunt was fruitful.

We have the perfect house, and I love the little town and schools. We're going to live in Niantic, CT. The downside is me and the kids are moving Labor Day weekend now, and my husband can't follow us until the middle of October. Yep. Me, alone, with the kids, moving 900 miles. Good news is the Navy moves us, but I'm not 100% confident in them putting the bed back together, me hooking up the washer and dryer, etc. Other good news is my mother is coming with to help and just flying home to Virginia after staying with us a week or so. We're picking her up on the drive up. 

But that's all personal life stuff. The real question is how will this affect my publishing schedule. I admit, I was tempted to just move my publishing date to October. That's the easy answer, right? But let's think about this. I have a few irons in the fire that this will mess up. First, I gave my word to an editor with a small indie press that I would be published by the end of September so that I could recommend his author's book for October. If I publish in October too, then it becomes a competition thing. This relationship is important to me, too, and I want to be as good as my word. Second, my poor cover artist is waiting in the wings to finish the POD cover. She just needs a final page count. I can't get that to her until I format for the print book, and I can't format for the print book until I format for the ebook. 

And this is the big issue. I need to publish in September to get my writing career rolling. This is my first book. That's all. Not my last book, my first of many. I just need to get it out there, take my punches, and work on Book 2. I am getting caught up in this idea of perfect, perfect, perfect. I am human, far from perfect, last time I checked. This move is a bigger burden financially than we expected since we have to rent out our Charleston house. I would help my family out a great deal just by bringing in an extra $100-$200 a month. That's what I wanted when I started this, and then my eyes got bigger and bigger the more I learned about others' successes. You know, it's great that others sell hundreds, or even thousands of their books. I hope one day to have that success. But for me, I need to remember, even if it means telling myself over and over again, I only need small success. Yep. Small success for each book and keep writing. That's all.

So I'm going to keep pushing myself to publish by September 22. I'm not going to take the easy excuse out and miss my deadline. That isn't how a professional behaves. A professional keeps her head down, plugging away, even if it doesn't look like she'll make the deadline. A professional keeps working to deliver even if the deadline comes and goes, because that's what she said she would deliver. And I want to be that professional author.

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

#ROW80 My Move Exploded....

I've known my family was moving from Charleston, SC to Groton, CT for many months. I spoke with the private-public venture people for Navy housing since early this summer, always assured we'd have very decent housing. When it came time to file paperwork last week, suddenly there was no housing except an 1100 sq foot house. So, at the very last minute last week, my daughter and I drove from Virginia Beach, VA where we were visiting my parents to Groton, CT to frantically house hunt. As a result of us now living out in town, we are moving the first week of September.

How this will affect my publication schedule, I don't know. It's a lot of work between now and then. Did I mention I'm sick of driving up and down the East Coast with a 2-year-old yet?

However, this is a picture of the house that is the #1 candidate right now (albeit, our furniture situation will have to drastically change...)

Did I mention it's 2 blocks from the beach?

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If Everyone Is Offering Free eBook Contests, Are They Still Novel?

Every thirty seconds is another Tweet of "free ebook" and it's a drawing for people who leave comments on an author's blog. I don't click these links anymore. 

First, I see a fundamental problem with most of these sites: they aren't FOR readers. They are the personal blog of the author and most of the posts are about writing, marketing, being an independent author, etc. Occasionally, there are features for a reader, such as book reviews, background information about a character, etc. I have authors I love. As a reader, I don't care about their daily goals, word counts, or their marketing plans. 

As a reader, I care about their personality, what they're into, what's the latest project they are working on (just that, not daily updates about it), other authors they can recommend, sales on their books, and maybe where I can discuss their book with them. Most of that is not addressed on an author's blog.

My next dilemma is what is the point of a "free ebook" contest?

Get more comments/followers on a blog? Are they really good comments? Do you need to give away a book for an extra ten or twenty comments on your blog, or would it be better to just write content that encourages comments? What do the extra comments get you if the blog is not even geared towards readers?

Increase exposure for the book, maybe the people who don't win will buy it! This is probably not likely. First, readers who follow an author's blog probably already BOUGHT the book. Second, anyone entering the contest is probably just willing to get a free ebook, not waiting with bated breath to WIN your specific book. Especially books priced at $.99. I mean, it's not a commodity people save up for. Like a car. Or an ereader....

But wait, every day one comment gets my ebook free and then at the end of the month/week there will be a drawing from every daily winner/everyone who entered for a $25/$50/$100 gift certificate/ereader of their choice.... ::slaps forehead:: Let's do the math shall we? Assuming a $.99 ebook and the cheapest $25 gift certificate grand prize, and even just a week long contest. Overall, the author gives away 7 ebooks, for a loss of $2.38 ($.34 commission on each book) and $25 in a gift certificate. Grand total author cost = $27.38

To break even on this promotion, for a $.99 novel, the author would need to sell 81 books as the result of this promotion alone. If your contest see a sales spike that large, I'm impressed, but the ones I've seen have maybe 10-20 people leave a comment to get a free ebook. For a $2.99 novel, it's 20 sales. Not 20 comments/entries, but 20 sales. And if you don't make up the difference? Well take how much money you are out and divide it by the number of entries you received. That's how much you paid per comment. Ask yourself, if someone spammed you on Twitter and said "Free comments on your blog, just $1 a piece!" would you buy it?

Lesson? Give away your book for free, don't add a grand prize. And if you aren't getting traffic/sales to make up for the free ebook giveaway? Find a better way to market. 

Oh and contests with like 6 things a reader must do to "enter?" Like comment here, add link on their blog, like you on Facebook... and so on. Give them the book for free.

I think these contests were very effective originally when the idea of winning a free book from the author was exciting and new. Today, with nearly every indie author/reader blog throwing a free ebook contest, it's just a spam thing. If you're doing an interview somewhere, give a free ebook to everyone in the audience (the people who leave comments). Oprah did it, and look what happened to her ratings? LOL. 

Put yourself in the reader's shoes. What makes YOU want to buy a book? This is probably the answer: an interesting cover, great hook, and a decent price. If a book doesn't have an interesting cover, you aren't going to read the hook. If the hook is exciting to you, you won't even look at the price. And if the price is too high, you're not going to buy. This is why digital advertisements work on reader blogs to spike sales. Readers know the book will fit into their price range (whether it's $.99 or a under $3 blog etc.), the print ad with the cover grabs their attention and then it comes down to the hook. 

Advertising and marketing that plays to these strengths -- a visual image of the novel, a great hook, and decent price -- those are the marketing campaigns worth the money. Intent is just as important with advertising as it is in writing. Intent can be increased sales, exposure, or both, but make sure the effort and money is worth the results. 

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Indie Authors: How to Beat the Agents to the Punch

The buzz around the indie world this week is agencies offering self-publishing services. Worries about ethics and what this means for the agency's current traditionally published clients abounds. However, one very important component of this deal isn't talked about, and that's the lower cost of doing business on a larger scale. This is what is meant by the term "economies of scale" that has been thrown around on a bunch of blogs here and there. If you're like me and slept through most of your 8:30 AM MWF Economics class, here's a good practical example.... is a digital galley distribution system. Publishers pay a monthly fee, and professional readers can request galleys of the latest books to come out for their review sites. I learned about this site by reading popular book review sites when I was performing marketing research. I have a list of blogs I would like to ask to read my book and review it, and many of them have on their About page how they use to get free copies of new books. 

So I began looking into myself. Turns out, for publishers it's a dream. Not only is your manuscript listed for review, but the interface keeps track of who requested it, when, and where the review is. 

I became excited. I wanted to be a part of this. After all, looking at the lists of publishers, it's all the big names! If my book could be put into the pool for professional readers with the traditionally published books, it might help break down just one more wall between the two camps. So the next issue was cost.

Per an email from Susan Ruszala, Director of Marketing, there is nothing preventing a group of independent authors from signing up under one name and splitting the costs. Currently, for 2-5 books uploaded, it's $225 per month. I looked at that number and sucked in my breath.

Then I did some math. Let's pretend I made a loose co-op with three author friends in my genre. We decide to call our account "An Independent Romance" because that is the genre we all write, and I would insist we start with an "A" so we are at the top of the publisher list alphabetically. So under "An Independent Romance" professional readers can find books independently published with a romantic theme, though actual genre might be paranormal, cozy mystery, women's fiction, chick-lit, etc. 

Author A has been in the game the longest, she has 6 books out and publishes 2-3 per year. She wants 2 spots for book reviews. The rest of us are happy with one spot (and we can all change out the book to be reviewed at any time). The breakdown would be $45 a month for the three of us only wanting one spot, and $90 for the person with two books up for professional reviews. 

For one author using only one spot, that's $540 a year. does require a year subscription. Now, isn't just good for advertising, as in just for professional reviewers to stumble on your book. You also get a widget to put in emails or on websites and you have a strong interface to let readers read your book and review it for free. You still have to approve the requests, so that prevents just anyone from getting a free copy. It also builds a listing of reviewers, so when your second or third book comes out, you have a list of reviewers interested in your work to email blast. Maybe they don't review your second book, but I'm sure they'd like the news that an author they positively reviewed before is releasing a new book...

Here's what it comes down to: if we don't want agencies to crop up and confuse new authors by providing self-published services for 15% and fees, then we need to do a better job of working with each other. We all complain about collusion in the publishing world, how coincidentally the "boiler plates" all look the same...If we're all in this together, we will be stronger for it. 

If I can find 3-4 writing friends to create a membership with me, I'd be interested in joining in September or October. $45 a month for advertising, I would only need 23 sales each month to be the result of reviews to make up the money. The exposure is harder to quantify.  

If anyone is interested in banding together to create a account, let me know. I think it's a great way to start taking the mystical professional review process out of the hands of a select few and putting in the hands of authors straight to readers. I also think it will be a great value in time-saving, as the professional reviewers come to us, giving authors more time to write and edit.

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Making Up Time #ROW80

I'm NOT as behind as I thought I was!

I know I'm a day late in checking in and I missed two check ins this last week. I had dental work go awry (way too much pain) and traveled to Virginia Beach to visit family. I'm still in Virginia until next Sunday. 

In my race to publish by September 22, I was late out of the starting block. My manuscript was 9 days late. It was a relief to finish that first draft, but it was a little demoralizing to begin off pace. Now, that said, the race is just a metaphor. If CANCELLED is not the absolute best book I can put out at this moment in time and 9/22 rolls around, I will delay the release. Period. I will not publish a book I think is below my standards just to make an arbitrary publishing date. That said, it won't be good to miss that deadline as I will have various marketing plans in place around that date.

Today, I checked my progress against where I had hoped to be. I set aside roughly 1 day per chapter for first round edits. The overhaul. And believe me, it has been an overhaul. I've cut entire chapters, killed anything extra that isn't necessary, and struck anywhere I jumped into another character's head who isn't the POV character for the chapter. I can edit 2-3 chapters per day, I've learned. After that, I notice I"m not making as many red markings. Not because the mistake aren't there, but because I'm not seeing them. I should be on chapter 14 by today, and I'm on chapter 8. NOT terrible. 

I've narrowed a 9 day lag behind the schedule to a 4-5 day lag!!!!! 

I am also working on an awesome marketing avenue for indie authors, but I can't say anything more right now until I get a little more clarification. 

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

Check out some of my fellow A Round of Words in 80 Days participants and their awesome blogs!