Self-Publishing - Start-up costs and budgeting advice



Though self-publishing suggests DIY (do it yourself) most of us are not able to do all of the things required to create a book. That’s ok. In most cases you won’t be able to do it all, and for some things, like editing, you shouldn’t.  You’ll probably have to contract out for things like cover art, editing, (in some cases) layout, etc...

All money you spend toward the production of your book is a gamble. Remember this. There is no guarantee your book will sell no matter how much money you throw into it. I’m not trying to suggest that you won’t make any money on your book, but you do need to be very realistic in your goals and keep a very level head where costs are concerned. You should never go into these separate contract works with a blank check mentality.  Spending $1,000 on a book cover might not be the smartest decision even if the artwork is spectacular. That $1,000 will have to be made up in sales (along with all of your other production costs) before your book can begin to make you money.  All cost need to be weighed out carefully. You should always be on the lookout for "the best bang for your buck."

Before you take any steps in the production of your book, sit down and create a budget. Set a limit on how much money you're willing to invest in your book and use that limit to help you budget out each of the cost involved in production and marketing. Make sure you have marketing money in your budget. Often time’s authors forget to factor the post production money into their total costs. There are plenty of ways to bleed cash when it comes to marketing. Setting a spending limit beforehand will help you to avoid sinking more money than you wanted into the cost of the book.

When setting your budget you need to be realistic about the book's cost to publish and sales goals. It is going to cost you money. Don't think that you can get away too cheaply because you are afraid of the gamble, and on the other hand, don't overspend expecting to make millions. This budgeted number is not only the limit to your spending, but it will also become your break-even point.

The break-even point on any published work is the total of all monies spent getting to that point plus any additional marketing costs. Only after sales have netted you enough money to reached that break-even point do the books actually start making money.

Take a good look at the genre you write and the market for your books. Look at how other books are selling. Talk with other indie authors and get a clear picture of how long it took them to establish regular sales and reach their break-even point.

I've found that other indie authors are very willing to discuss things like cost and sales. You may be thinking that we're all competitors, but really that's not the case. Sure, we're all after the same goals: To sell books. But we're also on the same team, we're all striving to take away the stigma of poorly produced self-published work. It's because of this that you'll find other indies more than willing to offer advice and tips to help you succeed. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Kindle Boards is a great resource for information. Check it out!

So, do your homework and set out a realistic budget before diving into the self-publishing pool.

Deciding to Self-Publish.

Now that we've finished the series on self-editing (Notes from Writing Class), I want to move on to the next phase: Self-Publishing.

Photo Credit


Self-publishing has come a long way in recent years. It used to be thrown around like a dirty word.  Many people still think of it as a scapegoat for those of us who cannot get traditionally published.  But, it’s no longer the last resort of an author who has exhausted all traditional routes.  Many authors are turning to self-publishing  first for the freedom it allows them and the level of control it gives them in their work.

Is self-publishing right for you?

Only you can answer that.

I am not here to tell you what you should do. Each writer must take their own path.
But chances are, if you’re reading this, then you’ve already got a pretty good idea of what you want to do.

The first thing you need to consider when looking at self-publishing is what you want out of it. Why are you publishing and what are your goals?

Are you doing this just to have a book in hand? Are you looking to establish yourself as an indie author? Are you looking for fame and fortune? Is this a one-time book or a series you’re working on? Are you expecting millions?

Self-publishing is not the fast track to easy money so please do not let the recent news about indie authors “selling millions” fool you. Just like with traditional publishing, this is more the exception than the rule. You can however make a living wage from your writing, but you’ll have to put the effort in. It can take years to establish yourself in the market.

Before you take any steps toward creating your book, sit down and have a real heart-to-heart about what you want and what your realistic goals are.

If you’re just in this to have a book in hand, and that is just fine, then I’d suggest going the vanity publishing route. Places like iUniverse or Trafford will package your manuscript up, and give you exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll have a bright, shiny new book with your name on it!

If you’re in this to truly become an indie author, then you need to treat your book like a business venture.

In essence that’s exactly what self-publishing  is, a business venture. You might want to consider setting yourself up as a DBA or LLC, but we’ll touch on that later. Your business is the creation of a product, your book(s). You’re putting this product out into the market with the hopes of making money from it. You have to take all the financial risk in this venture with no guarantee of a return on your investment.

Self-Publishing or “Indie” publishing is not for everyone. You need to go into this with a clear head and the willingness to give it your all. If you can’t do this, then you might want to reevaluate your goals. 

In the next post we'll talk a little about start-up and budgeting concerns. See you then.

Becoming a vampire is easy. Living with the condition, that's the hard part.


I’ve always been a fan of vampires and have read as many books about them as I could. When it came time for me to write my own, I wanted to try and take a slightly different approach. Most books gloss over the actual transition from human to vampire, but I wanted to really focus on that change. I wanted to try and depict the actual hardship involved in the transition.

How could a regular person, who for all intents and purposes is “good, be able to kill another human being for sustenance? Would hunger alone do it? Many might just starve themselves at the idea. From there I had to ask what might motivate a person to finally make that kill? What would the bloodlust be like and how would that kill ultimately affect my main character?

For every question that came up, I found an answer and the scenes began to play out. Over time, Immortalis took shape and with it, the reader gets to experience Alyssa’s journey through the transition to this frightening new world, first hand.

If you’ve read the books, then you know how she ultimately deals with it, but here’s the question: Could you? If you were in the MC shoes in this world, would you be able to deal with the need to drink blood? Would you be able to kill to survive?

Immortalis (Books one & 2)




ParaYourNormal Radio Show!


Listen to internet radio with ParaYourNormal on Blog Talk Radio


Today (at 3pm PST)  I'll be chatting with the lovely host of ParaYourNormal about my latest release, Karma & Melodies.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/parayournormal/2011/03/28/katie-salidas-author-of-karma-melodies

Please stop by, have a listen, or even call in with a question. I'd love to hear from you.

Author Spotlight with Jamie DeBree (And giveaway too)


K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

J.D. Thanks for inviting me, Katie. I'm happy to be here. Let's see...well, I write, but you knew that. When I'm not writing or doing writing/publishing-related things, I'm either at my day job developing and maintaining web sites, or I'm spending time with my husband and our two dogs. We also have a fancy goldfish, two fire-bellied toads and a leopard gecko named Cleo. I live in Billings, Montana, where I was born, and I'm happiest with a book close at hand.

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

J.D. My only real writing quirk is that I can't know the end of a book before I start writing. Once I know how the story ends, it's finished in my mind and I lose interest in writing the rest. Needless to say, the last 10k words of any draft are the absolute hardest for me.

Other than that, I'm a pretty boring writer. Procrastinate, write, repeat.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

J.D. I've wanted to be a writer forever, seems like. I started my first novel either my last couple years of high school or in college (I forget, it's been a long time). I started reading when I was five, and had read many of the popular classics plus a ton of genre fiction by the time I started high school. I couldn't think of a more perfect career than penning stories for other people to lose themselves in, though I was 34 before I finally decided to go for it.

K.S.  What genre do you write?

J.D. My main genre is romantic suspense with an action/adventure feel (think Indiana Jones). I also write erotic romance novelettes as Trinity Marlow, and I'm working on the first draft of a thriller/suspense novel as Alex Westhaven. I like variety.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

J.D. I've had a lot of inspiration in my writing life, but none so potent as that of my readers. There are a few who are constantly cheering me on, waiting for the next serial installment and/or book to be released, and that really inspires me to keep going, and keep improving my craft.

I can't pick a favorite author – there are just too many out there to choose from!

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

J.D. They're all very supportive, though none of them read my work, which is amusing to me. My husband's afraid he won't like it (not a romance fan), my books are too spicy for my mom, and my dad doesn't do romance either. I'm pretty sure my parents still consider writing a hobby for me, but my husband is cheering me on, preparing for that day when he can quit working and my writing will support us both. We dream big around here.


K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

J.D. It never ceases to amaze me how much better my subconscious is at writing than I am. When I just sort of sit back and let the characters act and react in their own way to what's going on around them, the story always turns out far better than when I try to force them into what I think the plot should be.

K.S.  What inspires you?

J.D. I can be inspired by anything, really, though more often than not, it's people. Not usually people I know (because I know too much about them for my imagination to kick in), but normally people I've never met, but see across a room, in a photo or out somewhere. Something in the way they look, or their manner will inspire me, and many a character has been "born" in that manner. The trick for me is not to meet them or talk to them – that ruins the "magic".

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

J.D. Certainly. Here's the blurb for my latest novel, Desert Heat:



When Marie Simco finds out that the money for her research is about to be cut, she’ll do anything to keep her lab funded. Pitted against her former professor in a race to publish on deadline, she finds herself in a desert oasis fighting sabotage, drug lords, natives and her attraction to one very hunky lab tech.

Darren Newbury is ready to follow Marie deep into the New Mexico desert if it will finally get her to acknowledge the connection between them. Determined to help her win the competition against his former employer, he fights to protect their work and break down the barriers around her heart.

K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

J.D. My books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and several other online retailers in paperback and ebook formats. Purchase links are available at my publishing site, BrazenSnakeBooks.com.

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

J.D. Web site is http://JamieDeBree.com
Blog is http://varietypages.jamiedebree.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NovelistJamieDeBree
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JamieDeBree

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

J.D.  Read a lot. Write a lot. Don't be afraid to share your work, and don't be afraid to hold your ground when you don't agree with criticism. Find out how other authors do things, and experiment. Don't be afraid to find/develop your own personal method of writing, because in the end, only you will be able to know what's best for you.


Now for the fun part.  
Jamie is offering up a free copy of Desert Heat 
(Print or Ebook, winners choice.)
To enter:
Leave a comment for Jamie
Make sure to include your email so we can contact you if you're the winner.
Winner will be chosen by Random.org and Jamie will email you with your prize info. (Make sure you give us a valid email address).
It wouldn't hurt your chances to Tweet about this giveaway or share the link with your Facebook friends either (hint, hint, wink, wink.) =)

Author Spotlight with Jennifer Hudock

 

 
Jennifer Hudock is an author, podcaster and freelance editor from Northeast Pennsylvania. Her first full-length novel, The Goblin Market, is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. For more information about Jennifer Hudock, including updates on upcoming fiction, visit her official website: The Inner Bean.


K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

J.H. Thank you so much for having me on your site. My name is Jennifer Hudock, and I'm an author, editor, freelance writer and podcaster from Northern Central Pennsylvania. I just recently released my first full-length eBook, the Goblin Market, but I've been a career writer for just over five years now.


K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

J.H. I am obsessed with writing dream sequences into every story I pen. I've always been fascinated with dreams, and exploring deeper plot points through the dream world is a favorite pastime of mine.


K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

J.H. I started writing when I was about ten years old. I got a Playskool typewriter for my tenth birthday from my Nana and the stories just started to flow. I think what really sparked my desire to write was the ability at the time to explore my fantasies by writing myself into stories.


K.S.  What genre do you write?

J.H. I write fantasy and horror, and sometimes I meld them together into dark fantasy.


K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

J.H. My favorite author is Neil Gaiman. I started reading Gaiman when I was in high school and the Sandman comic book series was still relatively new. I fell in love with his storytelling ability and his knack for historical resonance. All of his plots and characters are just so imaginative and well thought out that by the time I get to the end of a story I am breathless because of how well he pulls it all together.



K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

J.H. My family is incredibly supportive. My husband, James Melzer, is also an author, so we share a lot of the same dreams and goals. I also have a sixteen-year-old daughter who used to think I just sat on the computer all day, but now thinks it's kind of neat that her mom is a writer.


K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

J.H.  It's incredibly hard to let go of a story and send it out into the world. As writers, our stories are a lot like our children. We put the best of ourselves into them, and when it comes time to complete them and let them go, it isn't always easy.


K.S.  What inspires you?

J.H. As I mentioned above, I am obsessive about dreams. The bizarre and twisted nature of the subconscious mind fascinates and inspires me. I have written several stories over the years that were inspired by a dream I had, or a dream someone else told me about.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

J.H. Fantasy, faeries, goblins and a twist of romance, The Goblin Market was inspired by the Christina Rossetti poem of the same name. Beyond the Goblin Market lies the remains of a lost and broken kingdom divided by war. The war has been over for centuries, but the kingdoms still stand apart, overrun by a creeping goblin darkness known as the Darknjan Wald. It has been written that only one holds the power to destroy that darkness and reunite the kingdoms, but she has no memory of her former life.

Meredith Drexler must save her sister, Christina, from the wicked goblin king, Kothar, who has kidnapped the girl in order to convince Meredith to uphold an ancient commitment Meredith doesn't remember making. Sent Upland disguised as a human child, she has no recollection of her former faerie life, or her uncle's promised marriage betrothal to Kothar.

When she ventures back Underground in search of Christina, every step Meredith takes brings memories of her forgotten past back to the surface. As the pressures of her former life entangle with her quest to save her kidnapped sister, Meredith's predetermined fate is revealed. Will she embrace it, or walk away forever from a life she barely remembers as her own?


K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

J.H.  The Goblin Market is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for just $2.99

Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/The-Goblin-Market-ebook/dp/B004L2LL1A
Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39402 )

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

J.H.  You can visit me at my official website, The Inner Bean (http://jennybeans.net)


K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

J.H.  Write stories you would want to read. There is nothing more fulfilling for a writer than sitting down to read your own novel or story and feeling as though you created something the reader in you will want to read again and again.

A man is dead, and a horse is the only witness to his murder...

Title: The Witness Wore Blood Bay
Author : L.C. Evans
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: (print, ebook, or both) Both
Links to buy: Amazon  http://amzn.to/hvksEn   Amazon UK http://amzn.to/e1EgoP


Tell us the story behind the story. What inspired you to write this novel? 

This book is the second in my Leigh McRae horse mystery series and I wanted to write about someone being wrongly accused of murder.


Tell us about the book cover. How does it represent your book? How did you choose the artwork? 

I wanted something simple and my cover shows a blood bay horse, the only witness to the murder, and the gun, one of the weapons used by the killer. Paul Coleman at bookpumper.com designed the cover.
Synopsis: In Talented Horsewoman, the first book of the Leigh McRae horse mystery series, main character Leigh McRae discovers a body. She also ends up solving a murder. Along the way she helps her cousin Sammi, who is dating a burglar, and she manages to get out from under the control of her overbearing ex-husband.

Now Leigh's friend Candy, a fellow horsewoman, finds herself accused of murder. Who else would she turn to for help except Leigh? After all, everyone in small town Del Canto knows Leigh has body-discovering experience. Never mind that Leigh is busy finding out who's poisoning dogs in Sammi's neighborhood and she's trying to renovate her home without going broke. Or that her ex-husband Kenneth and former ranch hand Doug Reilly have become roommates in Leigh's guest house.

There's a murder to solve. And her friend won't take no for an answer.

Sample from Chapter 14
Leigh's cousin Sammi has come to visit Leigh. Sammi's dog, Jeeves, is staying with Leigh temporarily because Sammi thinks someone is trying to kill him:

But I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, as well as lonely. Jeeves must have been lonely, too, no doubt missing Sammi. He lay under the kitchen table with his head on his paws. A couple of times he sighed deeply. Very uncharacteristic of him to be so still. I decided to call and ask Sammi to come over. After all, I hadn’t
finished updating her on all my news and her dog needed her.

Sammi readily agreed to the visit. She said she figured she needed some Jeeves time even if she weren’t already dying to find out my news. She showed up at my door a half hour later armed with popcorn and a DVD we could pretend to watch while we chatted.

Fine with me. Now that Adam had decided to waltz off into the night, I certainly didn’t have anything else to do with my time. But if he thought he could neglect the woman in his life for long, he was headed for trouble.

“Admit it,” she said, handing me the popcorn. “You are soooo determined to find out who killed Richard Swale. My cousin the deeee-tective. And after I warned you to stay out of trouble.”

“Hey, I thought you came over to visit and see Jeeves, not to harass me about helping Candy. Besides, Sammi, I'm not the only one. Everyone in Del Canto wants to know if she really did it. As for being a detective, if I go to the police with what I know, then all I’m doing is being a good citizen. First I have to question people to make sure I actually have something important to tell them. That’s not getting into trouble and it’s not real detecting.”

“It is so. But why are you helping Candy when you told me to spy on the Barkers by myself?”

“Not fair. I did go over there and pretend to be Sarah Goddard for you, remember?”

“Under protest. Now where’s my baby? Jeevesy, say hello to Mama. What’s wrong with you, silly boy, have you forgotten me already?"

Adam and I had put the dogs out while we ate, but then he’d let them back in for me when he went out to get George. Heidi had bounded around the room, while Jeeves had first lain under the table and then, moving like he'd suddenly matured, he climbed onto the couch and settled quietly. Maybe a few days at my place had instilled some manners in him. 

I brought her up to speed on the fight between Rebecca and Doug, which she said she was sorry she’d missed. Then she'd yawned politely.

“Is that all you can say? Didn’t it register when I said Rebecca is the Barker’s daughter?”

“Of course, it did and I’m sure you were dying of shame.” She shrugged, dismissing my feelings as if I were nothing more than a common garden slug.

Hah. I’d have bet she he wouldn’t have felt that way if Rebecca had made the connection between us and figured out we were cousins. But when I told her about the suspected intruder at the house while I was out riding, she was even less impressed.

“I can’t believe you let yourself get so worked up over what was probably a possum trying to get into your garbage.”

“You hush up. It was not a possum. I told you I saw lights in my driveway and possums do not have lights. Or cigarettes. I really think it was only a person looking for directions." I hoped so, anyway. After all, by now I was surely on Rebecca Young's bad people list. She could have been out here to work me over with a pot the way she'd done to Doug. "You’re one to talk anyway, Miss Afraid of the Dark.”

“Don’t make fun of my phobias or I’ll throw you to the roaches.”

"But get this. According to Brenda, the rumor about Richard having an affair with a waitress is true. And the woman is married."

"So that gives Francine a motive and it gives this woman and maybe her husband a motive." Her eyes bugged out so far, it's a wonder she didn't dislocate an eyeball. "Oh, my God, Leigh, this is huge. What if her husband had Richard murdered for messing around with his wife? Or what if she got mad at him for breaking it off and killed him?"

"I know, right?" Finally, I had a solid direction to go with my investigation.

"What are you going to do? It's not like you can ask her."

"No, but the police can. I told you, Sammi, I'm not a detective. All I want is a good solid lead to give the police. You know, something that will break the case wide open, so they'll know Candy didn't do it."

"Good for you, babe. Honestly, I don't know why Brenda didn't tell the police herself. Any dope could figure out how important this is. So when are you going to the police?"

"Soon. I'm hoping I can pick up a little more evidence first."

Sammi popped the movie into the player. Then she sat on the couch next to Jeeves and scratched him behind the ears. In my opinion Jeeves should have been lying on the rug with Heidi while Sammi and I got the furniture all to ourselves. Instead she let him take up half the couch and put his big head on her lap.

Deciding that this was one argument I wouldn’t win, I didn’t say a word about being squished uncomfortably into the couch corner. After all, Sammi missed Jeeves or she wouldn’t have come over to see him.

She fiddled with the remote until she got the movie started. It was a thriller with a little romance thrown in. Not new, but something I hadn’t seen yet. I dug in and started munching on popcorn as soon as the opening credits finished rolling. Sammi was too busy oohing and aahing at the vision in front of her to notice anything such as popcorn. The first scene featured one of her favorite actors stepping into the shower. They showed him from the back only, but it was enough to keep Sammi’s eyes glued to the set.

“Can you believe it? Isn’t that the most gorgeous rear end you ever saw in your life?” She leaned forward to get a better look, and I knew she was wishing I had a sixty-inch high def instead of my plain old nineteen inch, circa 1980, hand-me-down from Aunt Dorothy.

I snorted. “Drag your eyes back into their sockets, woman. That is soooo a stunt butt.”

“Is not.” She snatched the remote off the coffee table and hit pause. The picture froze and the well-tanned butt in question took up so much of the screen it looked like a ripe peach.

“Is. Stars past the age of forty don’t do their own stunts and they don’t show their butts on screen. His real butt probably looks and feels like a deflated marshmallow.”

“You are so mean.” She would have continued the argument. I knew she would because she was too infatuated to believe her crush could have a saggy rear. But Jeeves at that very instant lifted his head, eyed her soulfully, and opened his mouth to deposit chunky barf all over her thighs.

“Oh, no!” I shuddered and leaned away. Nasty. Dark brown and very stinky.

If it had been me with the barf lap, I would have leapt to my feet shrieking, but Sammi sat very still, staring at Jeeves as if she were afraid he’d melt before her eyes.

“My poor Jeevesy. He’s sick, Leigh.”

“You've got that right. Probably ate something that didn’t agree with him, like a lizard or a frog he found in the back yard. I’m sure he’ll be fine now that he’s gotten rid of it.”

“No, he’s really sick. Look how sad his eyes are and you saw how quiet he was when I walked in. And how he's drooling more than usual.” Tears rolled freely down her cheeks and she didn’t bother to brush them away. “My God, I was afraid of this. The Barkers must have followed me when I came over here Sunday and they saw where he was hiding out. Then they sneaked over while you were at work today and poisoned him. It was probably them you heard lurking around your house looking for their chance to murder my dog. If he dies, I’m going to see that those vicious freaks go straight to jail for the rest of their lives.”

She was so distressed I didn’t bother to point out that her story about the Barkers was absurd. They certainly had no logical motive to want to kill Jeeves so badly they’d follow Sammi to my place to commit dogicide.
I gathered an armload of old rags and sopped the worst of the mess off her clothes. Though I didn’t believe the part about the Barkers, I had to admit Jeeves definitely seemed in worse shape than he had earlier. He’d gone completely listless and his breathing was fast and shallow.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Bio:  L.C. Evans' writing career began with short stories and humorous essays. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Woman's World, and Ladies Circle among many others. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband Bob, their three or four Chihuahuas, and a grandson, the Boy. When not wrangling the Chihuahuas and the Boy, she writes novels. She is the author of the Amazon bestselling Kindle book, We Interrupt This Date, as well as several other titles. See her website: http://www.lcevans.com or her blog: http://lcevansauthor.blogspot.com/

Writing Notes - The Articles - A & The

So, I'm doing a lot of critiquing lately and as I spot certain elements, I earmark them to use for writing tips. Here's another one I ran across recently that has been giving not only me, but others a bit of trouble.

The articles.

In English we use two articles, A/An and The. These are used to refer to something: the table, the chair, a pencil, a piece of paper. But when do you use them in writing?

You could say “the pencil” just as easily as you could say “a pencil”, right? So how do you make the distinction?

When an item has not been established, it should be "a."  A/An = indefinite article. It’s not very specific.

If the item has been established then use "the." The = definite article. It is more specific what we are talking about.

Let’s look at some examples.

I want to read the book. = There is a specific book the person wants to read.

I want to read a book. = Nothing specific here. The person just wants to read any old book.
She looked at the table, cluttered with books and papers. = We are referring to a specific table and its contents.

I’d like to watch a movie. = Any old movie would do. Nothing specific here.

I want a bottle of water. = Any bottle will do, I just want one. (Counted nouns usually have the “a.”)

He spilled the milk! = As an accusation, we are referring to a specific container of milk that “he” spilled.


So, does that make sense? If you want to talk about something specific, use “The,” otherwise, “A” is your article of choice.

Notes from Writing Class - Echo









Disclaimer: This is a recurring and random series of posts. I'm currently enrolled in a basic writing/editing class and felt that my notes might be helpful to others. Please note, I am not an editor. I'm just an author trying to learn more about the craft to improve my own work, while sharing the things I learn along the way.   Enjoy.



What the heck is an echo?


An echo happens when you use the same or similar word in close proximity. The echo is one of the easiest things to do in writing. You will do unconsciously echo many words in your first draft, and may not even see the echo when you start revisions.

(see how I snuck in a quick example? Echo is the "echo" word. How many times did I use it in those three sentences?)

This is something you want to avoid doing whenever possible. When you're tempted to use the same word twice, think of ways to reword or restructure the surrounding sentences.


Example 1 (echo)


I surveyed the café, noticing that two strangers had sat down at one of the card tables along the painted mural wall. They didn't seem like the type that frequented coffee houses, especially not a vintage café like this.


See the echo here. The word cafe is used twice in close proximity.


Example 2 (revised)


I surveyed the café, noticing two strange men sitting down at one of the card tables along the painted mural wall. They looked too clean cut, definitely not the type who would frequent a vintage place like this.


The simple fix to echoes it to get out your thesaurus and see if a synonym will fit in the echoing word's place. However, that doesn't always work. In those cases, sometimes a little reword does the trick. Take a look at the sentences where the echo is occurring and try to recast the sentence (or sentences) so that you can omit one of the echoing words.

You're never going to get rid of them all, but you can snip out quite a few by doing this. It will make your writing look and feel more polished.


Now, the biggest culprit of the infamous echo happens when we write what a character is doing.


In first person, it comes out I, I, I, I, I.

In third person, it comes out he/she, he/she, he/she.


It's so easy to fall into the, I or He/She trap. You're probably saying, "Well, how the hell am I going to tell you he did something without saying he?" The trick is to reword and rework sentences to that you stretch out the gaps between words so that the reader doesn't hear the echo so prominently.


Let's look at some examples.


First person


I knew it was inadvisable to walk around the streets alone at night, but I did not have a car so I was forced to do it anyway. I carried my keychain of pepper spray, for defense, just in case I ran into anyone dangerous. I naively believed in its ability to protect me from any attacker.


Do you see all the I's? It's like an annoying drum beat after a while. I, I, I, I,...


Revised First person


It was inadvisable to walk the streets alone at night. I knew this but didn't have a car, so there was no other choice. For defense, I carried a key chain of pepper spray, naively believing in its ability to protect me from any attacker.


Remember what I said above about reworking your sentences? Sometimes it is necessary to remove unnecessary I's, or bury them inside the sentence where they are less noticable.


Third Person


Sasha downed her drink. She winced as the liquid burned her throat. A warmth was building in her stomach. Two shots down in less than twenty minutes. She knew she needed to pace herself or this night wasn’t going to go very far. She knew Tequila was a dangerous alcohol. She'd heard stories of people doing crazy things when they drank a little too much of it. She made a quick mental note, not to have another drink for a while.


See all the she's?


Revised Third Person


Sasha downed her drink, wincing as the liquid burned the back of her throat. A warmth slowly built in her stomach. Two shots down in less than twenty minutes. Sasha knew she needed to pace herself or this night wouldn't go very far. Tequila was a dangerous alcohol. She'd heard stories of the crazy things people had done after drinking too much. Setting the glass down, she made a mental note not to have another drink for a while.


Mixing in her, with she, and the character's name helps to smooth out the echo. You'll never completely avoid it, but by reworking the sentences you can make it a little less noticeable.


The rule of thumb with the I's and She's is to make sure that you don't have two sentences in a row starting with that specific character reference. Widening the gap by at least a sentence length will help to smooth out the echo and will make the story flow a lot better.

Notes from Writing Class - Proof Your Work.


Disclaimer: This is a recurring and random series of posts. I'm currently enrolled in a basic writing/editing class and felt that my notes might be helpful to others. Please note, I am not an editor. I'm just an author trying to learn more about the craft to improve my own work, and sharing the things I learn along the way.   Enjoy.


All manuscripts need to be edited before they are published, but before you send it off to an editor, make sure you've done your best to prepare it.

Proof your work first. Here are three ways to do this.

1) Print it! I can't explain why, but seeing something in print somehow makes you look more closely at it. I can spend hours staring at a computer screen, reading my work, and still miss things. As soon as I see it on paper, I find more errors.

The problem with doing it this way though, is cost and waste. If your printing a full-length manuscript, that can be hundreds of pages. Try to print double-sided where you can but don't try to go single spaced. Trust me, your eyes will thank you for that.

2) Read out loud! When we read silently, especially our own work, our brain plays tricks on us. We know what we "meant" to say and our brain substitutes the correct sentence or words in for the ones we might have goofed on. Reading out loud, stops your brain from this sort of "auto correct" function. You'll find lots more errors this way.

Quick tip: Try having the computer read to you. Sounds kind of silly, but will definitely help you pick out any problems. Look for free software to help you do this like Natural Reader.

3) Have someone else read it! Hey, sometimes we're just blind to our own mistakes. A fresh set of eyes works wonders. When you have agonized enough over your own words, toss your work to a friend and let them read. I bet they still find things for you to fix.

Cheap Vampires! *Don't Miss This Sale*


Due to a slight mix-up, I ordered too many print copies of my Immortalis series. Since I don't want to sit on boxes of books, I've decided to mark them down for quick sale. For a limited time only, print copies of both Immortalis Carpe Noctem, and Hunters & Prey will be marked down to $5.50 That's 50% off of what Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com is selling them for.

Get yours today. $5.50 per book or $11.00 for the series (+S&H International shipping available). Just use the Paypal link below.



Available Books




Immortalis Carpe Noctem:
Becoming a vampire is easy. Living with the condition... that's the hard part.

Alyssa was having the worst day of her life: she just lost her job, her friend ditched her, and while walking home, she was brutally mugged. Beaten, bloody, and moments from death, she thought her life was over, but this was only the beginning.

Rescued by the most unlikely hero, Lysander, a two thousand year old vampire, Alyssa is initiated into a frightening, eternally dark world she never knew existed.

Stricken with cravings of blood, and forced leave behind all she knew, Alyssa is struggling with the change. And Lysander, her sexy but aloof sire, is the only one who can help guide her.

There's no turning back now. It's either, Carpe Noctem, or final death.



Hunters & Prey
The exciting sequel to Immortalis Carpe Noctem.

Becoming a vampire saved Alyssa from death, but the price was high: the loss of everything and everyone attached to her mortal life. She's still learning to cope when a surprise confrontation with Santino Vitale, the Acta Sanctorum's most fearsome hunter, sends her fleeing back to the world she once knew, and Fallon, the friend she's missed more than anything.

Alyssa breaks vampire law by revealing her new, true self to her old friend, a fact which causes strong division in the group that should support her most: her clan.

Worse yet, her revelation entangles Fallon in the struggle between vampires and hunters and the Acta Sanctorum is ready to attack again, with a new army of hybrid creations: the Frenzy Soldiers.

If Alyssa hopes to survive and keep her mortal friend safe, she'll have to be willing to make a deal with the enemy, and regain her clan's support. It will take everyone working together in a precarious truce to fight against the Acta Sanctorum's new threat.

Author Spotlight with R.A. Evans

K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

Well - first and foremost, I'm a prostitute. No, not on street corners (not yet anyway). I sell my soul a little bit each day to the advertising industry. It's not glamorous but it pays the bills and lets me write in my free time. When not involved in the oldest profession on earth or writing my dark stories, I can usually be found playing with my kids, reading, and lamenting my ever-increasing waistline.

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

Well, most people are shocked when I share that I write each morning from 3-6am. It all started after the birth of my second child. Her 2:30 a.m. feedings provided me the perfect opportunity to try my hand at writing a novel - which I did. Just eight short months after that first writing session I had completed my debut thriller Asylum Lake.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

I entered the Young Author Contests in grade school and fell in love with the writing process. Of course, it took 30 years of thinking about it to really convince myself I should give it a real try. I was working for the public mental health department here in Michigan and would from time to time visit state psychiatric institutions. The Kalamazoo State Hospital is located on the Asylum Lake Preserve and the name just stuck with me. My mind just spun at the possibilities of what dark memories must lie dormant beneath the surface of that murky lake.  

K.S.  What genre do you write?

I cringe as I answer this - horror? Even I don't know what I write. Asylum Lake is a horror, thriller, suspense, mystery novel with romantic undertones.  Honestly, I write about the darkness that rests within each of us. And sometimes zombies, too.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

I wish I could write like Peter Straub. His novel Shadowland was a huge inspiration for me. There are so many layers to his characters and storylines. I'm both inspired and completely jealous by his writing.

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

I'm the youngest of six so my siblings are both ultra-supportive and still committed to making sure that I don't get too full of myself.  All kidding aside, my family has been great. My ten-year-old son has basically been a walking billboard with his Asylum Lake t-shirt.

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

Funny story - in the original draft of Asylum Lake an integral part of the story involved manufacturing methamphetamine. I did a ton of online research. One afternoon I found the county sheriff's department on my doorstep. Apparently law enforcement runs some of those drug-related websites to monitor what people are doing. I showed up on their lists. I explained my book, let them walk through my house, and even gave them an early draft of the novel.  About three weeks later I received a phone call and they "suggested" certain edits to the sections related to how to "cook" meth. In the end, most of the drug-related content was edited out.  Just goes to show how important research is when writing a novel. My current project - FLIGHT - involves a U.S. Air Marshal and an overseas flight with a very dangerous cargo. I'm convinced that because of my research on the Air Marshal Program and airplane crashes that I am surely on a no-fly list.

K.S.  What inspires you?

Everything. I am constantly asking "What if...". Just the other day I found myself wondering "What if machines rules the world..." and then debating whether I could survive a battle to the death my with toaster.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?






Memories are like water. Some float on the surface bright and clear. Some lie deeper, blurred by time and distance. Others rest far from the light in the depths of the darkness. These memories are best forgotten.

After the sudden death of his wife, Brady Tanner moves to the small Michigan town where he spent summers as a youth. But he soon learns that small towns can be stained by memories...and secrets too. As Brady is drawn into unearthing the secrets of the town and of the abandoned psychiatric hospital on the shores of Asylum Lake, he discovers a new love in an old friend. But there is an evil presence lurking beneath the waters of the lake. What is the source of this evil--and what does it want with Brady Tanner?

K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

Autographed print copies are available at http://www.schulerbooks.com/product/asylum-lake

Download e-books from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/40725

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

You can follow my dark musings, 7 Deadly Questions author interview series, Book reviews, and other fun stuff on my blog at www.raevanswrites.wordpress.com

My facebook fan page is www.facebook.com/asylumlake

Find me on twitter @raevanswrites


K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

There are now so many options now to publish that there really is no excuse not to write, write, write. Just be prepared that building your author platform will quickly take up much of your time. Writing the book will seem like the easy part of the process.





Author Spotlight with HD Hatcher



About HD:


Author HD Hatcher is no newcomer on the literary scene.

He is author of In the Heart of the Closet, a

piece nominated for both the 2006 Stonewall Book

Award and the 2005 Lambda Literary Award. He is

an avid supporter of gay and lesbian causes, suicide

prevention programs, as well as Animal Rights.

Hatcher currently resides in the Grand Strand area

of South Carolina, near his hometown of Conway,

with his Life Partner of ten years, Jerry.

K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. Share with us any interesting writing quirks or stories.

H.D.  I love to interject humor into my work. Humor keeps the story from bogging down and helps give comic relief to a highly charged situation. If you read something in my work that you get a little chuckle out of, it is because I am about to hit you with something that is mentally intense.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

H.D. I never wanted to be a writer per se. Writing has always been a healer for me. Honestly, I don’t know where A Cold Dark Place came from. When I was writing it, it was like someone was reading it off to me and I was just getting it down on paper for them. For whatever reason, I started pecking away at the keyboard until the story was finished telling itself.

K.S.  What genre do you write?

H.D.  I am identified as a gay writer. I am fully aware of the stigma that surrounds gay themed literary works. I am sure that a lot of people assume that between the cover lies nothing more than a rehashed drug habit, a promiscuous adventure with countless faceless strangers, and a two hundred page circuit party that never seems to end.

I have read gay themed stories such as these, and the one thing I wanted to do, was create something completely different. I am not a fan of most gay works for this very reason. I am not saying that all gay writing is this way. But, the vast majority of it is. I am not naive enough to think that readers will rush out and buy a copy just to see what the difference is. I am however, hopeful that if someone that has never been exposed to a gay literary piece in the past, will be able to read A Cold Dark Place, and find themselves forgetting that this is a love story between two men.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

H.D. I would have to say that life in general has been my inspiration. The people in our lives can either be a healthy compliment to us, or they can be a toxic drain. Trust me, I have witnessed both and some of them are represented in my writing in one form or another.

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

H.D. Well, they seem to like it.  My family has always been really supportive of my writing. They maybe blinded by biasness, but that’s okay, I’ve put up with them for the last 38 years and the least they could do is blow some smoke. Just kidding, My family is wonderful.

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

HD. I learned that I have a truly twisted sense of humor. That’s okay though. I think that humor has a place in every aspect of our lives. This comes through in my writing more than I realized. But hey, sometimes laughter can be an anesthetic for a broken heart or a frazzled nerve.

K.S.  What inspired you to write your novel?

H.D. I wrote A Cold Dark Place because the market place is currently crammed with thousands of gay themed books and movies that are filled with anonymous and meaningless erotic encounters. I wanted A Cold Dark Place to focus mainly on the emotional side of being gay. I wanted to write a story that would enlighten, entertain, and break stereotypes.



K.S.  Can you tell us a little about your novel?

H.D.
On a chance meeting, (at a mutual friend’s house) Luke finds the love of his life. Andy is what Luke has been longing for all of his adult years: the perfect man. But, this perfect man is not only straight—he is married to a woman who is more devilish than Satan himself.

In a bittersweet journey that will change his life forever, Luke must reach deep inside and find the strength he never knew existed. A Cold Dark Place is the story of a man who must pick up the pieces of his broken heart after a lifetime of heartbreak and betrayal.



K.S.  Where can we find your novel?

H.D.  A Cold Dark Place can be found at online retailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles, as well as the publisher itself: www.passionatewriterpublishing.com

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

H.D. I most certainly do.  Readers are more than welcome to stop by www.hdhatcher.com (which is currently being revamped. So, please pardon the mess). I also have a Facebook page, a Twitter page, and a Myspace page.
http://www.facebook.com/hdhatcher#!/profile.php?id=1091919710
http://twitter.com/HDHatcher
http://www.myspace.com/HDHatcher
Feel free to stop by and say, hey!


K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

H.D.  Let me offer writers this tidbit of advice. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Everyone is not going to love your style of writing, and not everyone is going to give your book a “stand on their head and clap” review. So be it. But, in the same breath there is someone out there that will. This is who you write for.

Overpriced Ebooks

As an Indie I struggle to gain new readers. I’m virtually unknown in the market, so I must use whatever tools are at my disposal to draw in new readers. Price is one of those few tools that help to do this.

The lower prices you see on my books are not because I don’t value my work. I’ve put in countless hours into each of those titles. Many of them spent 4-6 months being rewritten and revised, and that is before an editor looked at them. No, the low price is not measure of quality; it is there to attract readers who have never heard of me before. The market is flooded with thousands upon thousands of books by both traditionally and indie published authors. If my book is up next to another book in the same genre, the price “might” be the deciding factor for a customer. It’s for that reason alone that I’ve set many of my titles to $0.99. People are a little more willing to take a chance on you when the item they are purchasing is priced in their comfort zone. If they like the book, they’ll be more willing to try another, or maybe even suggest it to their friends.

There is a huge debate about the $0.99-$2.99 price point among indie’s, but that’s not what I want to talk about here.

Price in general is a big concern when making a purchase on anything, whether it is books or groceries. Let’s face it; the economy is not that great right now and people are holding tighter to their money.That plus the fact that we "indie authors" want to be more attractive to you the reader, is why we price our books so low.

So with that in mind, I have to wonder why traditional publishers have adopted a more expensive model for pricing their ebooks?

I’ve said it many times before, I’m a huge fan of Patricia Briggs. I adore her Mercy Thompson series. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of River Marked (book 6 in the series). Now that I finally have my Kindle too, I was even more excited because ebooks WERE generally priced better than print.

So today I had a few free moments and was browsing Amazon.com. I pulled up River Marked and to my horror, found that the ebook price was $12.99!!!

Oddly enough, the hardbound edition was only a few cents more at 13.86.

This makes no sense. And it will make no money from me either. I love the series. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Patricia Briggs or her books. I’d been waiting for the next book to come out, and now that it is available I’m angry that the publisher has priced it so high.  I’m not paying that price. Period.

Please don’t think I’m being cheap. I’d easily pay anywhere from $1-$6 for an ebook.

Ebooks themselves are cheaper to produce and do not require any form or printing or warehousing.  By that reasoning alone they should be priced lower than the print versions. So why is it that major publishers are moving to a higher pricing model, putting the ebook titles at or above the cost of hardbound books?

The whole Agency model for ebooks makes no sense to me. It seems almost insulting to me as a reader to be forced to pay more for a product I know cost less to produce. For readers like me, who are unwilling to pay these high prices, sales are lost.

Now, maybe down the road when the paperback version is released at a more reasonable price, say $7.99, I’ll go ahead and buy it then, in print. Why then and why paper when I have an ereader at my disposal? Because the print version can get more use. I can legally lend it to my friends; I can put it on my shelf to re-read later. With a DRM protected ebook, the book in question becomes a one-time use commodity.  I may read the book once and then not again for several months-years. With technology always changing who knows what ereading device I may have by the time I want to read the book again. DRM prevents me from storing it on my hard drive and uploading it to the next ereader I get in the future.

With thousands of ebooks out there at reasonable prices (remember I said I’d be willing to pay $1-$6 for an ebook) it makes no sense to spend more for the same type of product. It has no additional value, it has limited sharing/lending capabilities, with DRM it is limited to the current device I have today (but maybe not tomorrow), and it cost the publisher less overall to produce.

I hope (but seriously doubt) that the Big 6 will get their acts straight and consider their customers when pricing their books. However, on the flip side, their ridiculous pricing is helping to drive the indie self-publishing movement forward. Customers appreciate value and that will ultimately give our books a little more consideration.

Notes from writing class -Similes









Disclaimer: This is a recurring and random series of posts. I'm currently enrolled in a basic writing/editing class and felt that my notes might be helpful to others. Please note, I am not an editor. I'm just an author trying to learn more about the craft to improve my own work, while sharing the things I learn along the way.   Enjoy.



In writing we often employ similes to call attention to how similar or different things are.

Her eyes were as blue as sapphires.

Her eyes twinkled like the stars in the sky.

Similes draw a direct comparison using "like" or "as."

It's tempting to use similes to help describe things to your readers, It's a quick and effective way to get your message across. The problem is they are too easy to use. Overuse of similes can make your writing seem a bit immature and cliche.

Imagine describing your character like this.

Her skin was as pale as fallen snow. Her eyes were as blue as sapphires. Her hair was like spun gold. She was as thin as a flag pole.

Would you really want to read a book full of character descriptions like that? Probably not.

As with all things, moderation is the key. It's okay every now and again to throw one in, but you really want to strive for unique ways to describe things. You want your writing to stand out, not be "like" everything else out there.

A quick way to determine if you are using too many similes in your writing is to use the find/replace feature in word and search out "like" and "as."

The Blood Moon of Winter - Review

The Blood Moon of Winter (Land of Makayra (Volume 1)
Courtney Conant (Author Website) http://www.courtneyconant.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Moon-Winter-Makayra-ebook/dp/B004KZORHI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1300248322&sr=8-2
Available in both Print an Ebook

Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Courtney A. Conant (January 28, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615439403
ISBN-13: 978-0615439402



When the survival of a world is at stake, what choice is there?

Lilyana searches for the answer in the thrilling new world she has found herself in. Choosing between what she already has and what is needed will be the hardest decision she will ever have to face.

Lilyana Makay, a young woman who prefers to be alone with a good book rather than spend time with others, finds herself in the middle of quite a conundrum. She is the reincarnated Goddess of the land of Makayra, yet this fact is completely unknown to her.

Lilyana has never wished for anything more in her life, but life has other plans. When she finds herself in this new world, she comes across an albino panther who helps to bring about her awareness of what and who she truly is. Only passion and experiences can awaken the sleeping Goddess within, not all of which are enjoyable. Lilyana must dig deep within herself to see if she can handle what is to come.

She is the only one who can save the dying land. Yet, to do so, she must leave all she has ever known. She must choose whether her new found love is enough to keep her from performing a duty that has been thrust upon her. Playing the role of Goddess might be more than she bargained for.

My Thoughts *Spoilers ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you*





Lilyana Makay is a bit OCD and introverted to the max. She would rather spend her days sitting and reading books than interacting with other human beings. The only people she can really stand to be around are her sister and the twins. The author does a great job of really nailing down this character. Even in the narrative voice, you can really feel how much Lilyana desperately wants to be left alone. She enjoys her peaceful and structured existence. But that wouldn’t make for much of a story, now would it? Of course not. That’s just getting to know the character.  And once you are firmly rooted in this character it becomes even more enjoyable to watch her ordered world, flip on its side! The author did a wonderful job really putting this character through the paces.

So, Lilyana’s perfect, albeit somewhat boring, life gets shaken up by the introduction of Jason Caurns. He’s not only one of her favorite authors, but an available bachelor too. Despite her need to be a loner, she’s drawn to him, as if fate is telling them to be together.  For the first time in her life, though she tries very hard to fight it, Lilyana finds someone who she could see herself spending the rest of her life with.

Ah, But fate is always a fickle friend and one never knows what its real purpose is. Jason’s entrance into her life is also the catalyst for the ultimate change yet to come. The moment Jason is introduced, things begin happening. Their very first outing, an innocent motorcycle ride in the desert turns deadly when a snake bite, sends Lilyana to the hospital. While she’s there she begins to have what she thinks are hallucinogenic dreams of another world—a world that is waiting for her to save it.  Only these aren’t dreams. As she and Jason work out the truth, Lilyana learns fates plan. From that moment on Lilyana is split: torn between revelations that she is the long awaited goddess who can save the land of Makayra, and the new love she’s found with Jason.

Without spoiling the rest of it for you, I have to say, the ending was not predictable at all. Kudos to the author there! That’s pretty hard to do these days.  I did find myself angry when I got to the last page, though. Not because I didn’t like the story, far from it, I loved it. I was mad because it left me with such a cliffhanger; I needed there to be more. That says quite a lot for the author that she made me so emotionally invested in the characters in such a short time. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be adding book two to my TBR list when it comes out.

The Importance of Tagging.

What is a tag?

Well, when we are referring to our novels, a tag is a descriptive word or phrase that can help describe the book. This tag can refer to topic, genre, sub-genre, type of character, etc… Think of it as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your novel.

So what tags should we use?

Amazon.com allows each person to use up to 15 tags on any given product. Use every one of them for your book.

Here are the basics:

Book Name – If people are looking for your book, they might just type that into the search bar. Having this as a tag means it should be the #1 thing to come up under this search.

Author Name – Same reason as book name. Let’s say they remember you wrote a book, but can’t remember the title. If they search by your name this will be one of the first things to come up.

Genre – People often search for things by genre. Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Modern Gothic, etc... These are the search terms a reader might put in while looking for a book. Make sure you’ve covered all of your book’s genres.

As a side note… On amazon.com tags are associated not only with products but with discussion boards too. Appropriately tagging your book to the genre or genre’s it belongs to will also help link it to the right discussion board. Go ahead and take a look at your book’s product page, scroll all the way down and you will see suggested discussions. This is more for you than for readers, it points you to the people you want to talk to. The people in these discussion boards are the potential audience for your book. Go say hi. But beware, amazon forums are strict about advertising. Don’t do it unless the forum specifically asks. Just go in and be friendly, get to know the readers.

Theme – are there any interesting themes to your book? Coping with depression, Overcoming adversity, Quitting smoking, Fighting for survival, Alien invasions. These can be keywords as well. Once you have the genre covered and your title and name tagged, move on to the themes that describe your book. Remember, you get 15 tags, use every single one of them.

Creative but Obscure references – Sometimes the genre tags and theme tags are so full up of books or products associated with them that even if you had hundreds of votes, your book would not appear on the front. This is where creativity can come into play. Does your book have sex? Well doesn’t that take place in the bedroom (sometimes)? Did you know there are only 79 books tagged with Bed Sheets? If people are searching with that as a keyword then your books stands a better chance of being seen among 79 vs. the some 6k books tagged with Urban Fantasy.I'm not saying you should tag your book with bed sheets (unless you're writing erotica) but consider some of the more creative tags you could use.

Ok, so I tagged my book, now what?

As I said before, tagging is kind of like SEO. It will help people find your books if they search but to make your book more visible, you have to make sure your book shows up at the top of the search.

Let’s say I have my book Hunters & Prey tagged as Urban Fantasy. Well, currently, there are about 6,269 results that come up on Urban Fantasy, I need to get my book to show up within the first few pages for it to be effective.

The more votes you have on a specific tag, the higher it shows up in ranking on Amazon.com. So if you want your book and its tags to get recognition, you will have to do a few things.

Join a tagging community. No not one of those street gangs out painting graffiti on the wall. A group of authors who help each other out by tagging each others books. (This means you have to participate, don’t just expect to get tags for nothing.)

http://tagmybookonamazon.wordpress.com/tag-me/ - Tag My Book on Amazon (A great place to start your search for tag assistance)

Kindleboards – Join the community and visit the tagging thread in the Writer’s Café.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amazon-Tags-Author-Assist/10150118359785515?ref=ts Facebook Tagging group.

You can also ask your friends and family to help tag your books. It’s as simple as logging into their amazon account and clicking the check box next to the tags you’ve already set up.

So there you have it, tags are important for your book’s visibility. Now go out and get your tags done.

And while your at it… Want to tag mine?
http://www.amazon.com/Katie-Salidas/e/B003APXXWO/ref=sr_tc_ep?qid=1300138506

Post your link and I'll tag you back.

Notes from writing class - Pacing


Disclaimer: This is a recurring and random series of posts. I'm currently enrolled in a basic writing/editing class and felt that my notes might be helpful to others. Please note, I am not an editor. I'm just an author trying to learn more about the craft to improve my own work, while sharing the things I learn along the way.   Enjoy.

Pacing refers to how fast or slow your story reads. A multitude of things can affect the pacing of your story: Sentence length, chapter length, unnecessary scenes, too much or too little dialogue, etc…

It’s harder to nail down than other issues in writing.

Some things you might consider looking at when trying to aim for the right pacing are:

1. Look at white space. Do you have long, dense paragraphs of description and narrative, with very little dialogue or action? You may have an area where you’ve slowed your pacing.

2. Look at sentence length. On the average, are your sentences long or short? Long sentences will slow the pace of your story where short sentences will speed it up. Depending on the type of scene you are writing you may want to lean more one way or the other. (Please note that over all, you should strive for a nice combination of varied sentence length.) Actions scenes are meant to be faster paced and will usually have short, snappy sentences. This makes your reader feel the pace of the events happening. On the other hand, in love scenes, you might want longer, more poetic sentences so you draw out the beauty of the moment.

3. Look at dialogue. Is it necessary? Does the characters conversation move the story forward or are you providing unnecessary information to “fill pages?”

4. Look at the scenes in your book. Be ruthless here. Are they really necessary? Do the move the story forward? If not, cut them. Many manuscripts suffer from a saggy middle where there are a lot of “fluff scenes” that take up time but don’t really take us in the right direction. It might hurt, but cut them for the betterment of the story.

Author Spotlight with Sommer Marsden





K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

S.M. Hi, Katie! Thanks for having me. I’m Sommer Marsden and I write erotic fiction and erotic romance. Basically, I spend waaaaay too much time with imaginary people. =)


K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

S.M. Asking me if I have quirks is a loaded question. I talk to the dog and ask his literary opinion more than I’d like to admit to myself. I act out scenes. I outline stuff aloud when I run (or walk). Oh yeah, I go to the library almost every day whether I need to or not to walk around and take a breather from being at home and commune with books. Is that enough weirdness for you? How about writing entire books based on the mental images created by a single song. That I then play over and over and over again until I’m done writing the book? I could go on…


K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

S.M. I was about four. There were crayons and a Winnie the Pooh coloring book involved. I pretty much knew I wanted to be a writer when I learned to read. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.

K.S.  What genre do you write?

S.M. I write and have written just about everything barring Westerns. However, I focus primarily on erotica and erotic romance. That includes contemporary, chick lit-ish, paranormal and literary sub-genres.


K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

S.M. Favorite author award has always gone to Stephen King but there are some new front runners of late. Chuck Palahniuk, Nate Kenyon, Jennifer McMahon, Gillian Flynn, Stacia Kane and a whole slew of other have recently stolen little pieces of my heart.

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

S.M. They think it’s great and accept me 150%. They are very a patient with sudden and unexpected bouts of writing and “be quiet, hold on, where’s a pen!” My mother is not surprised at all at my career choice, my man is an inspiration and my daughter wants to be a writer. Both of my kids have been published already, so maybe it’s genetic =)

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

S.M. That if I shut up and got out of my own ways, so to speak, they flow like water.

K.S.  What inspires you?

S.M. Pretty much everything. My man, people in general, other books. If it captures my interest and sticks in my head, it’s an inspiration. It can be a song, a snippet of overheard conversation, an item, an image. Whatever makes me stop and take note gets recorded in a notebook somewhere and used at some point.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

S.M.  I’m going to list a paranormal given my lovely hostess’s genre! This is the blurbage for Base Nature.

When Garrett Gustafson breaks from his pack, it’s all about distance. He doesn’t expect to meet a long-tortured woman or someone he wants so bad his teeth damn near ache. He most definitely doesn’t expect to meet a woman he’d even consider changing. Changing is frowned upon and dangerous. But Liv McCoy not only captures his heart, she tempts him. Tempts him to take her, to change her and even to love her.

Liv McCoy has been the weak one all her life. All she wants is a little power. When Garrett shows up she feels an unspeakable pull. Not just to give herself over to him in bed, but to offer all of herself—heart, body and soul. Garrett can give her power. She just needs to convince him that she can handle the change. And his love.


K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

S.M.  I’m all over. I currently write for Ellora’s Cave, Excessica, Xcite and Pretty Things Press. The excerpted novel can be bought at http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9099-base-nature.aspx on the Ellora’s Cave site and at all the other usual suspect sites (Kindle, Are, etc.) in both paperback and ebook formats.

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

S.M.  My blog Unapologetic Fiction is at http://sommermarsden.blogspot.com My website is long neglected, I’m trying to simplify! But you can find me all over on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

S.M.  Never give up. Write every day if you can—yes, even if you think it sucks. And never buy your own hype. That is my personal motto. I say it to myself whenever I feel too proud of something. Take ten seconds of fierce pride and then  move on to the next project. Because you’re not really a writer unless you’re writing.



Check out a few more of Sommer Marsden's titles!!