Did I Forget to tell You Something Important?

How do I make a Meme?

So Yesterday I said you should be using Memes as part of your marketing arsenal, but I failed to tell you how, or rather point you to a program you can use to make one.

For the budget friendly option, I would suggest using a program called GIMP.

This free photo manipulation software is comparable to photoshop but won’t break the bank. It will take a bit of playing around to get used to it, but once you do, you’ll easily be able to create all the memes you need for use with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc…

A quick search on YouTube will give you plenty of tutorials on the use of GIMP. Honestly. It takes minutes to make them once you get the hang of it. You'll be making so many memes people will be sick of you. Wait.. strike that. You don't want people sick of you, so choose wisely which ones to post. But, have fun!

Another budget friendly one to try is Googles Pixlr Editor. http://apps.pixlr.com/editor/ I have no experience with this one, but I have heard for simple things like memes it will do the trick and won't cost you a penny. Worth checking out. 


For those who want a little more oomph, you can always purchase a monthly subscription to Adobe Photoshop. Plans starting as low as $19 a month might be in your budget, especially for those who are planning to do more than just make memes. Photoshop is the heavy hitter and does so much for photo manipulation. 

A Simple Marketing Tactic You Should be Using

Memes
Those cutie pictures with funny sayings. They spread around the web like wildfire and all it takes is a quick “click” for readers to share with their friends. And they’re simple to make too.

Take your cover image, take a quote from your book, post it with a link to buy, and BAM!


Post them on Facebook. Post them on Twitter. Pin them. You can see how easy these would be to use. When it comes to marketing your work, free is best. Memes are eye catching and really cost nothing to make. So, if you're not using them, start now. 

Here are a few I’ve used in the past.  If you’ve got some, share in the comments section.  Maybe we can start a sharing chain. 







It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.

I keep telling myself that... not a sprint! 

I’m not on Twitter very often these days, as I just don’t seem to “get it,” but I do pop on every now and again. During one of those quick pops over to Twitter I met another author who had mentioned after 15 books, they had to end their publishing career due to lack of sales. It’s not uncommon these days. Many indies are finding it’s just not cost effective anymore to continue on with their dreams of being an author.

I’ve talked about this before. The market is flooded. There are thousands of books being published every day and it’s very hard for indies to stay afloat amid the swelling tide. I too feel I’m in over my head more often than not. Even with ten books under my belt and a few more under a pen name I feel like I am being pulled under.

Five years since publishing my first novel, I do understand that being an author is not a race to riches. I know that famous authors are few and far between, but authors can and have made a living from their words. I’ve been working towards that with every book I publish. I don’t need to be rich. Just comfortable enough to pay the bills.

The old adage, It’s a Marathon…, is something I use a mantra.

But with sales dwindling with each new release, and bills piling up at home, is it time to throw in the towel, or maybe reinvent myself?  I’m going to try the latter, and cross my fingers.  But, I’ll need 
your support too! Likes, shares, tweets, reviews, etc… It all ads up.

I started with re-releasing the covers of my Immortalis series.

Next I’ll be trying out a new genre that I had previously not wanted to touch… YA. With a new Werewolf novel, Pretty Little Werewolf.


I’d rather not give up. I've never been a quitter. I love writing. I love all the wonderful readers I have met along the way on my journey. So, I am hoping things turn around. There are other indies doing well. I’d like to be one of them. 

Bad Reviews


You can be a renowned Pulitzer prize winning author and still get a few bad reviews, so before you let yourself get too down when you see a low star rating appear on your book, take a step back and breathe.

Now, don’t read the review. Don’t do it. It’s never worth opening up that Pandora’s box. Trust me… Just. Don’t. Do. It!

You opened it, didn’t you? And you read it. Stings like the fires of a thousand Hells, doesn't it? 

See. Told you it wasn’t worth it.

Well, like ripping off a band-aid, the hardest part is over. Now it’s time for healing and doing something constructive with that negative review.

First. Let the pain subside. Then, ask yourself, was there anything of merit in the review?
Not all criticism is destructive. You could find some gems of wisdom to help you in making your writing that much stronger in the future.

Of course, a good majority of what you’ll see in reviews is pure opinion without much to clarify, so you have to take it all with a grain of salt, or two… maybe a margarita glass with salt rim… you know, whatever makes you feel better.


Whatever you do with the review in question, do not publically call out the reviewer or post the review publically online. That’s a major no-no. Bad reviews make you want to lash out. Of course they do. You poured your heart and soul into this work that someone shredded in a few paragraphs. Feel that pain, but do it in private, with your author friends, and that margarita. No good comes from highlighting that review. 

Put it behind you and move on. There will be more good reviews in your future, best to focus on those when they come in, and ignore anything else. You don't need that negativity in your life. 

Are you a Writer, Author, Professional Author, or Professional Writer? Do the titles really matter?



Another author friend of mine wrote a blog this weekend that got me thinking. Here’s the original blog, and here is the blog that blog references… confused yet. I’ll wait while you go read…

Back now? Great! Let’s continue.

The topic of discussion is about titles and if someone should hold it or not. It’s a topic that comes under debate between the two factions of Indie and Traditionally published authors. Who really deserves to be called what and why. Personally, I think we all need to quit sticking our noses into other people’s businesses and get to the business at hand… just keep writing. But, because it’s such a hot button issue, why not take a moment to suss out the bottom line.

Writers write things. Look it up. That’s the definition.

Authors write books. Again look it up.

So the part that bothers people is the fact that anyone can write a book these days and publish it online and POD (Print On Demand).

My assumption is that there is some inferiority complex at play here. Those in the camp of “Indie authors are not real authors” are somehow threatened by the fact that there are more and more people publishing these days. That perhaps it somehow devalues their own work.

Writing is tough work. Bottom line. To pen a novel of 60-80k words takes a lot of effort. The time involved in crafting a story is no small feat. It is time consuming. Even at a paltry 500 words a day, the time to write just a first draft would be 160 days. That’s just a first draft. Revisions, editing, layout and formatting, not to mention marketing of the book, all of these are time consuming. Those that get into this business don’t do it for the money, because it just isn’t there. They get into it because they love to tell stories. They want to share those stories with the world.

And I’ll bet that same bottom line is true for the Traditionally published authors as well. Their road to published work is very similar. They too take the time to craft the story, edit, revise, before submitting it to be published.

We’re all on the same team, no matter how different a road we take to getting our words out there. So, why the hate? Why do we have to squabble over labels? So there are plenty of us out there? Does it really make a difference if I call myself a Professional Author or a Writer?


Nope. Not one damn bit. I’ll call myself whatever I want, and so should you. Now, quit bickering and get back to what matters… crafting your story. 

Go Write something. 

#Free Book Alert

Here;s a few freebies to get you started this weekend.


This amazing 6-book set contains the first books in six different supernatural series. In this collection you will find vampires and volkaanes, demons and angels, light and dark faeries, and so much more. A great introduction to some awesome sagas by award-winning authors Scott Prussing, Lizzy Ford, Katie Salidas, Kim Faulks, Deena Remiel and Alexia Purdy.

Breathless: College freshman Leesa Nyland has been fascinated by vampires since she was three years old, That’s when her mom began acting strangely, claiming she had been bitten by a one-fanged vampire. Fascinated doesn’t mean she believes, however. But when her beloved older brother mysteriously disappears, she is catapulted into a supernatural world she never dreamed existed.

Damian’s Oracle: Caught in the war between the White and Black Gods, Sofia and her rare gift bring victory to he who grabs her first. Her difficult transition from human to mythical oracle forces her into a new world filled with danger and the supernatural. She struggles to adapt to her new role, to understand the sexy god who claims her as his and to help a mysterious man who’s supposed to be dead. Sweet paranormal romance.

Dissension: In the aftermath of the great cataclysm, vampires are enslaved by humans and used for blood sport as gladiators in the arena. Mira is undefeated, uncompromising and unbreakable, but when an escape attempt leads her into the path of the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever.

Reclaimed: Alexander Ash has been waiting for the perfect moment to make his move, his love for a woman has spanned an eternity, and an eternity is a long time for a vampire. Natalie, an Australian ex-soldier now turned bodyguard, gets more than she bargained for when she takes on a new client. Will she fight Alexander's allure, or given in and be reclaimed once more?

Trinity: Emma Livingston, has been through hell—and back so she thinks. While dealing with the night terrors and active imagination of her five-year old daughter, she attempts to lead a normal life. That is, until the demon from those nightmares pays her a visit, too. Can she, her daughter, and Michael, a Brethren angel, form the Trinity needed to overcome the evil ready to annihilate the world? Angels really do exist. Evil better start running!

Ever Shade: A dark twist on faeries. For Shade, a chance meeting with a powerful Teleen Faery warrior who wields electrical currents and blue fires along his skin, has her joining him on a treacherous mission for the good Seelie Faerie Court across the land of Faerie. Magic and malice abound and nothing is what it really seems to be.




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

Newbie vampire Alyssa never asked for this life, but now it's all she has. Rescued from death by Lysander, the aloof and sexy leader of the Peregrinus vampire clan, she's barely cut her teeth before she becomes a target.

Kallisto, an ancient and vindictive vampire queen – and Lysander's old mate - wants nothing less than final death for her former lover and his new toy. She's not above letting the Acta Sanctorum, and its greatest vampire hunter, Santino, know exactly where the clan can be found.

With no time to mourn her old life, Alyssa's survival depends on her new family. She will have to stand alongside Lysander and fight against two enemies who will stop at nothing to destroy them.




Weston College freshman Leesa Nyland has been fascinated by vampires since she was three years old. That's when her mom started acting weird, insisting sunlight hurt her skin because she'd been bitten by a one-fanged vampire. 
But fascinated doesn't mean Leesa believes. Any more than she believes in blue fire, people who live for centuries, and kisses that can kill. But when her beloved older brother suddenly disappears, she is forced to consider all these and more. She also has to figure out what to do about her mysterious new boyfriend. She knows Rave likes her a lot--so why won't he kiss her? 
As Leesa draws closer to finding her brother, she faces some gut-wrenching decisions. Should she risk her mom's life trying to "cure" her? Should she continue seeing Rave, after he reveals his dangerous secret? And most terrifying of all, should she make the ultimate sacrifice-give up her humanity-to save her brother? 


11 Tips for Marketing Your Series



If you look to the right, you’ll see I have two series currently available. I tend to lean toward series rather than standalone books, so with that in mind, here are some tips on how to maximize the marketing on a series.

1. Make your first book free!
Yes, you spent months perfecting your first book and it deserves to be priced to earn you something for your time, but when you have two or three books trailing it, consider the investment opportunity. Getting readers to try your series before they dive in will give you the opportunity to hook them early and guarantee sales on the rest of your books.

2. Keep your books at a reasonable length to publish quickly and still tell a good story. Aim for 40k-60k length.
Longer books take longer time to come to market (with all the prep involved in cover art, editing, formatting, etc…) so get the rest of your series out quickly to make sure you keep readers engaged and ready to pounce when that next new release comes out. Just be sure that while you are sacrificing word count, you're not sacrificing story. You still need to tell a good story.

3. End your books with genuine cliffhangers
Cliffhangers make readers need, not want, NEED to continue on. Give them something to look forward to. Make them want to pounce on that next book when it comes to market.

4. Make sure the covers look uniform.
You want your books to look like they belong together. Make it easy for readers to see they are part of a series.

5. Make sure your books are available everywhere!
Amazon, Google, Apple, Kobo, BN, Smashwords, D2D, etc… The more channels you belong in, the more available your book is for readers to find.

6. Advertise your FREE book.
Spend the majority of your advertising budget on your free book in the series. This will capture the most interest in readers, and if they love your book, they will look for the rest of your series.

7. Make sure your other books are listed in front and back matter in each of the series books.
Make it easy for readers to find all of your books in the right order. In the front matter of your books, be sure to list all titles available. And again, do the same at the end of the book, so readers don’t have to go hunting for the information.

8. Include chapters of the next book at the end of current books.
At the end of book 1, put the first “teaser” chapter of book 2. Same applies for book 2, 3, 4….
Give readers a taste of what is next.

9. Create audio editions
Use ACX to hire narrators and produce audio editions of your books. Royalty share is the easiest and lowest cost option here.

10. Create POD editions
Createspace is the easiest and lowest cost method of getting your books in print, and you’ll have paper copies to bring to author events.

11. Create bundles
When your series is complete… Make a boxed set to sell separately.  


Go Away! I’m Writing!



We’ve talked about this in the past. Writing is a solitary effort whereas publishing is more of an “it takes a village” thing.

But unless you’re a writer, it is really hard to understand that need for quiet space and time to think. Writers are always writing. It’s in their blood. They might not be penning their next novel right in front of you, but that far away stare and the odd facial expression they give while zoning off are a clue that the mind is working.

Constant interruptions however, kill the writer’s mental state and can stall out a novel just as fast as writer’s block. Now, we cannot all write 24/7. We store our ideas, maybe jot them down, or make mental notes throughout the day, but when it comes time to sit down and start dumping them on to the page, there needs to be quiet!  Peace. Alone time. With no distractions!

Nothing derails a great writing session like constant interruption. And it doesn’t have to come in the form of kids, dog, or husband bugging you. Sometimes you need to do a quick bit of research for a scene and you just want to pop on to the internet for a moment…. Three hours later after Facebooking, Twittering, and whatever else you’re doing on the internet, you see that blank page staring you in the face with nothing written down.

Even now, I have this happening. In the span of writing this 400-ish word blog, I have had children interrupt me, and I dared to open facebook and enjoy a lively discussion on Vaccines… So, rather than a quick half hour to jot down my topic… here I sit nearly two later, struggling to finish it.

What’s the answer… Shut the internet off and lock myself in a room where no one can find me? Probably not feasible. But maybe a little more self-discipline is in order. Shutting down the internet is key. That’s the biggest distraction. Setting ground rules for the kids not to bother mommy when writing might help too (but they’ll just ignore that as they always do.)

You have to find your own fit for writing and have a little self-discipline to go with it. If you know the kids will be at school mid-day and that is when you will be able to write, set that time to be internet free and don’t let distractions stop you from hitting your target word count. If writing time comes later in the evening, like for me, you have to store your ideas all day and prepare to dump them the moment your fingers hit the keyboard. Same rules apply. Make some internet free, kid free, distraction free time and do it. Thirty minutes to an hour a day is sufficient to get in a decent word count and is not that long a time to be away from your precious internet. Trust me, I’m cringing as I say that. The internet is calling me as we speak… but, it can be done.

Now, go away! I’m writing….  


Synopsis Writing. Otherwise known as, Please Kill Me Now!



If you've never had to write one, you do not know the pure hell it is to try and distill your 60+k baby into a 100 to 200 word synopsis, taking into account the fact that you don’t want to give too much or too little detail.

You don’t want to spoil the plot, but you want to make sure your readers know who the important people are and what struggles they face.

You need to make sure that there is a great tag/log line that readers can latch onto. Something catchy and instantly engaging.

It sounds easy.  I mean, it’s only 200 words, right? Wrong. Those 200 words have to be so carefully chosen. You will write and re-write. Think you have perfection, then re-read it and instantly hate it. 

You’ll ask your writer friends and they will rip your 200 words to shreds and send you back to the drawing board. If they are good friends, at least. They want you to be your best, so they will be hard on you. That’s a good thing.

And that is the hell I am in right now. So, I’m going to let you decide. Here’s an example of how different a synopsis for the same book can look. You tell me which one is better and I’ll use that one.

#1
The great cataclysm wiped almost all life from the face of planet Earth, but tiny pockets of survivors crawled from the ashes, with only one thought: survival, at any cost.
But not all survivors were human.

In the dark, militant society that has risen in the aftermath, vampires, once thought to be mythical, have been assimilated and enslaved. Used for blood sport their lives are allowed to continue only for the entertainment of the masses. Reviled as savages, they are destined to serve out their immortal lives in the arena, as gladiators.

And there is no greater gladiator than Mira: undefeated, uncompromising...and seemingly unbreakable. When an escape attempt leads Mira into the path of Lucian Stavros, the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever.

Lucian, raised in a culture which both reviles and celebrates the savagery and inhumanity of vampires, finds Mira as intriguing as she is brash. An impulsive decision - to become Mira’s patron – changes more than just Lucian’s perception about vampire kind. The course of his life is altered in ways he could never have predicted – a life that is suddenly as expendable as hers.

Can Mira prove to Lucian that all is not as it seems? Can Lucian escape centuries of lies, bloodshed, and propaganda to see the truth? Or will the supreme power of the human overlords destroy them both?

 #2
When the world as we know it ends, the real monsters are revealed. In this new world weaknesses will end you, playing fair could kill you, and trusting anyone is simply not an option.


Mira is survivor, at all costs. A vampire imprisoned by humans and forced to fight gladiator style in arena for her masters, she struggles daily with the dream of one day escaping and finding her freedom. But, after thirty years of servitude behind the Iron Gate, She never thought a human just might be her saving grace.

Fighting Writer’s Block



We all get it from time to time. It’s that mental block that prevents you from writing your book. It can come in many forms. Maybe you are afraid of your writing not being  good enough, so you just stall out mid-novel. Maybe you wrote yourself into a corner and have no clue how to get out.  Maybe you just don’t know where your story is going. There are all kinds of real reasons to not continue on with your novel.  But, excuses will only stop you from moving on. How do you push past it?

Try writing something different.
I often have two or three side projects I’m working on. If I am stuck with one, I might just put it on the back burner for a moment and move to another. Something works. Maybe not on the story I want to finish, but word count is word count. And, while your mind is on other things, you might find inspiration.

Outline.
I’m not an outliner, but even I stop and jot down ideas on a separate piece (or a few) of paper. Sometimes looking into the background of your characters will help you push past your current block. Maybe you have a side story for a character, or you need to look deeper into a scene you just wrote. Take a step back and focus on story details rather than word count for a minute and see if that gets the muse talking again.

Read good reviews.
Now this goes against everything I normally tell authors, because reviews can be a Pandora’s box. But, If you’re an author who already has books out and a few good reviews, sometimes reading the good ones will help bolster your self-esteem again and get you back on the writing horse.


There are plenty of reasons not to write, but if you want to be an author, you  have to look beyond that and find your reasons to finish your story. 

Movie Review - Fifty Shades of Gray. What BDSM?


Let me start by saying I have not read the books… yet. I will, because I need to form my own opinion on the story and writing. There is so much  mud being flung around the internet about these books that I am almost obligated to at least take a peek. Seriously, fights are breaking out, friendships are being lost… over a story. It’s fiction people. Remember that.

Now, that said, I went to the movie with no prejudice in mind. I knew it was a movie centered around a BDSM-ish relationship.  Kinky… sure, why not. Girl’s night at the movie. Let’s go have a few giggles and popcorn.

Giggles there were aplenty! But I fail to see why people are fighting about this movie and it’s book franchise so fervently in every corner of the internet. Sure, there is sex, and the idea of a BDSM relationship, but what you got on screen simply a bit of kink with an odd love story.

Story-wise, I think the angle the writers and producers went with was perfect for the general adult movie going audience. It was something new. Not the standard Valentine’s day romance fair. Inf fact, it ends on a break up note. Definitely not lovey dovey, guy gets girl, romantic.

Now, remember, I have not read the books. I am going off of what I saw on the big screen only.

This movie is, at bottom line, a story about a woman trying to crack the shell of a broken man who has, for no real reason (call it love at first sight syndrome), latched on to her as an object of desire. She, despite many red flags to his emotional issues, tries to dig down deep and find the heart she believes he does have and get him to accept normal relationship-y things. Along the way they engage in some new sexual grounds for her, but none of what was shown on the film crossed any real taboo lines. I daresay it wasn’t even really BDSM they were showing. Some light bondage, sure. Some gentle flogging… more like tickling, yes! And, there were some titillating scenes with her strung up while he teased her. All of which were not really crossing any lines as far as I could tell. Certainly not abuse. Everything that was done was consensual. Even that last bit with the belt was ordered by Ana. Watch closely. Gray, for all his “I’m a Dominant,” posturing really never did anything without Ana’s okay.

Some interesting points I noticed while watching. The initial mousey appearance of the main character Ana was just that. While she spoke with a simper and constantly bit her lip, she was not completely a doormat. She never once signed the contract and quite regularly kept Mr. Gray on a chain waiting for her to give him what he wanted. She demanded negotiations on the contract, and despite his very forward advance, left him in the cold that night. Despite his anger at her trip to Georgia, she did not cancel plans. Despite his consistent reminders that he was not a romantic person, she whittled him down to agreeing to all of her demands. Dinner and dates, bringing her home to the family, sleeping together in bed. These were all things Ana wanted and demanded in her own coquettish way. She forced her hand and her “Dominant” gave in each time. She managed to get everything while she was being wined and dined by her new beau. I’d hardly call this being a doormat.  Also, not to be the one to spoil it for other moviegoers, but she did walk out the door on him at the end of the movie. Great cliffhanger, and another example of how she really held her own when it came down to it.

There were some issues I did have with the movie, and I can’t say I wasn’t 100% unbiased. I’d been warned before watching and the warnings did prove true, to some extent. The chemistry issue was definitely apparent. But, only in about the first half of the movie. So, I have a feeling it wasn’t the actors at fault. I felt they (the movie producers) were trying way too hard to show how different the two characters and their worlds were before delving into the kinky relationship that develops. They are essentially from two different worlds. One is a rich business man hiding his inner demons behind work, working out, and his kinky bedroom fun. The other is from a multi-family divorce home trying to work her way through the world. She’s used to disappointment in life and having to work through it. She wears her demons on her sleeve. The two though, initially, were so horribly awkward in the beginning I wondered how they would ever pull it off. Also, Christian was giving off the worst stalker vibe in the hardware store. It was off putting in the worst way. The characters did mellow out at about the halfway point and the awkwardness and stalkerness was much more tolerable. The characters did begin to feel more real at that point but it was a knock to the movie’s credit that it took that long for them to become likeable.

Another point I didn’t quite feel was right was Christian as a dominant. Not knowing what a Dom should look or act like, I am only speculating here, but during the scenes where he was the Dom, I just didn’t believe it. It felt to me like playing around. Sorry.  That part just never became “real.”
So, all that said. I found the movie an enjoyable 2 hours. I laughed, I oohed, I gawked, I enjoyed. And in the end, I don’t see the BDSM angle as much of a problem. There wasn’t a real representation of BDSM in this movie as I could tell. Just a bit of kink.

As for those screaming abuse.  I don’t understand the abuse link either. The characters themselves have their own issues, but what transpired in the scenes was not abuse at all. Maybe I am missing something.  I do feel that people like to find things to complain about and with its popularity, FSOG is a fashionable thing to throw mud at. Maybe that’s all that is happening. I’ll just leave it at that.
I will read the books to see if I might be missing more, and when I do, I’ll come back and post the review as well.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie. Did you see it? Did you like it?


Do You Read?


Rant time….

One thing that really grates my nerves is when I hear someone say, “Oh I don’t read.” Now, when we were all kids, forced to read standard issue school approved text, reading sucked. I get that. Many people were turned off by it. Read to get through school requirements and then never have to touch a book again, right? Wrong. Reading is not something to dread. Reading takes you into the farthest depths of your imagination. Reading unlocks doors, it breathes life into new people, and allows you to escape from the doldrums of reality, if only for a short while.

When I hear people say they don’t read, it makes me sad. Because reading isn’t a thing to dread.  There is a book out there for you. There is a story that will capture your imagination. If you sit and watch TV all the time, you’re missing out. All of those stories are out there in some form in a book. 

And you know what? The stories in books are far better than the ones you see on the big or small screen.

So, there’s my little rant. Don’t be one of those people who say, “I don’t read.” Pick up a book. Do it. 

Do it now!!!


Rant over. 

Writing and Self-Publishing. It takes a village.


As a mom, I am well versed in the old adage, it take a village to raise a child. And honestly… I keep wondering where my village is, because I have three and could definitely use the assistance. Writing, or more to the point, indie publishing feels the same way.

The writing part is pretty self-explanatory. But the rest of publishing process… not so much.
Beta Reading
Formatting
Editing
Cover Art
Marketing

Yes, these things can be largely taken care of with a little bit of cash for some and a little know-how for others.  But,  even throwing money at things will not always make the difference when your book is ready to go to market.

What you need is your village. Cultivate friendships with others in the indie publishing industry. It will do so much for your mental health and career.

Make friends with artists, other authors, editors, etc… not only will you be able to cheer each other on in your business ventures, but you can help each other out too.


In the years since I started publishing, I have made some wonderful friends. We share in each other’s successes, as well as stand in when needed for moral or technical support. I will regularly trade formatting and beta reading with cover artists and editors. I help in their promotional efforts and in turn they do the same for me. It’s that community aspect of it that not only makes you feel like you’re not alone being an indie, but helps you to gain a better foothold into the market with new releases. Remember, you can shout all you want about your book, and no one will listen, but if someone else says something good, people take note. 

Size! Does it matter?



There has been a recent backsliding in book sizes over the last few years. Yes you still have your epic novels and series that run 10+ books. But the average size of a new release from an indie author these days is leaning more toward the 60k word range than its previous 80k word average.

Of course smaller books are not a new thing. In fact, the whopping 80-100k average we had become accustomed to is actually a newer trend. We're sort of on a backslide to the old norm now. 

Animal Farm 29,966 words
Slaughterhouse-Five 47,192 words
Lord of the Flies 62,481 words
Brave New World 64,531 words
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 70,570 words


With literally thousands of books being published each day (That’s right… day!), a lot of the current
reduction in word count has to do with the speed in which the market is moving. Longer books take longer to edit, revise, and prepare for publishing, and these days you have to be quick on your feet to compete in the ever expanding ebook market.

Readers today have a slush pile of free and deeply discounted anthology packs filling up their ereaders. Books they’ll actually read fall into one of two categories: Authors they absolutely love and will read no matter what, and books that have taken their time on the wait list and now look appealing.  For your book to have a chance, you not only have to get into the market quick, but you have to either capture the reader’s love immediately, or have a freebie that will need to wait for its eventual place in line. That necessitates a fast entry into the market with a quick succession of follow ups, because when you do finally get your place in that reader’s TBR list, if they love you, you’ll need to have a backlog of goodies for them to scoop up too or you might lose your time in the spotlight.

But, don’t cut your novel down too short in an effort to get that coveted spot in the marketplace. Readers are not as happy with novellas as you might think.  While quickies work for erotica, many readers still want plenty of meat to a story and slimming down to make a quick release or releasing as a serial novel could backfire on you. 


Let’s hear from you. What size/word count makes the perfect length for you? Do you like serials? Comment below. 

What Are People Saying About Your Book?

I’ll start by saying this. It is best not to read your reviews. Just let them rack up but do not read. Good or bad, let a review be what it is and only pay attention to your overall rating (when promoting your work).

Reviews matter. That’s the bottom line. Your book needs to have some reviews. Good, bad, or even… meh. What other people are saying about your book counts. You can shout to the rafters all day and night about how wonderful your book is, but if no one else is saying anything about your book, it doesn’t matter. Advertisers will not accept a book without a good batch of honest reviews, and many readers will not pay attention to a new unknown book if it has no reviews to back it up either. So, bottom line, you need to get some reviews.

So, how do you go about getting people to review your work?

The easy way is, obviously, to give away copies. Hand out as many as you can and hope that people will read and review. Understand though that of the copies you give away, probably only 10% will result in a review. That is due in part to the fact that many people will jump on a free book, but have a huge backlist already to get through. That means your book might take a while to get to, if they get to it at all. Also, many people will take a book and offer a review if they can post something positive. If they like your book, you’ll get a review. If they don’t, they may not want to post anything at all in fear of insulting you or they simply may just not like to post negative reviews. Just be prepared that when you do hand out books, they might not always come back with a response.

Of the ones that do review, be prepared for honesty. Not every book is for everybody. You may have a mixed bag of reviews. Be prepared for all.

Now, how you go about giving away books for review is up to you. For me, I like to have spreadsheets and signup forms and make it all formal-ish. So, with that said, I have a Read to Review program open to anyone who wishes to try my work. 



Sign up HERE and pick a book to read. If you like it (and post a review) you’re eligible to read and review more for free.



What Makes A Cover Stand Out?



After re designing the covers to my Immortalis series, I asked this question on my facebook page and no one could give me a single definitive answer.  Sure, people could tell me what they liked on a cover, but I wasn't really hearing an overall indicator of what worked and what didn't.

To be completely honest, I don’t think there is one specific thing that works for cover art. Genre has a lot to do with it, and age range as well. Kidlit, Middle Grade, YA, NA, and Adult all need a little something to distinguish as well.

As for individual preference…  Some people go for flashy covers. Some like and respond to any cover with a hot man on it. (Yeah… me too!) Some prefer there to be no faces on a cover. Others prefer there to be a face that matches the character within. Some enjoy more symbolic  covers, while others like something more face-value. As you can see, there is any number of directions you could go with this.

After talking with readers and looking at what is available and selling well in the marketplace, I've found two key elements to cover art. There is no magic bullet that will make your book sell, however these two elements are crucial in making your book stand out on shelves.


Strong Font
And when I say that, I don’t mean flashy, swirly, artsy fonts, though they are pretty. What I mean is something easily read. Large enough on the cover that it can be clearly read at thumbnail size but not overpowering whatever image you choose.  In print or on the ebook shelves, you want people to easily see what book they are reading and by whom. No second guessing.


Simple and Compelling Imagery
This is an area that seems to be in flux. Sometimes you see covers that are flooded with visual imagery, and it works. Then there are other times where it just looks like a cluttered mess. While I have seen it work and not work, I tend to lean towards the cleaner and simpler of things. Make your cover stand out with an image that begs the reader to look deeper, rather than filling the cover with storytelling pictures.  And if possible, avoid faces. Above, I mentioned readers being split over character lookalikes and just using bodies. Overall I believe people want to use their own imagination, so avoiding faces and using body images helps this. Readers can still imagine who they want.

I’d love to hear your own input on the topic. Feel free to leave a comment below.





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From today forward, all new subscribers to the Rising Sign Books newsletter will receive a free copy of Dissension: Chronicles of the Uprising - Book 1



To sign up, either CLICK HERE, or use the Newsletter link at the top of the blog. New Subscribers will be sent a special code to download their copy after confirming their subscription.

Newsletters are sent out monthly on or around the 15th of the month, and include a subscriber only giveaway! Please share this link with all of your friends!

Thanks so much for reading!

#Free Book Alert!!!

It's the weekend! Yay. Time to kick back and relax with a few good books. Here's a quick freebie list to get you started on that nice relaxing weekend.



All titles below are Free (At time of posting)



Supernatural Six - Anthology

This amazing 6-book set contains the first books in six different supernatural series. In this collection you will find vampires and volkaanes, demons and angels, light and dark faeries, and so much more. A great introduction to some awesome sagas by award-winning authors Scott Prussing, Lizzy Ford, Katie Salidas, Kim Faulks, Deena Remiel and Alexia Purdy.

Breathless: College freshman Leesa Nyland has been fascinated by vampires since she was three years old, That’s when her mom began acting strangely, claiming she had been bitten by a one-fanged vampire. Fascinated doesn’t mean she believes, however. But when her beloved older brother mysteriously disappears, she is catapulted into a supernatural world she never dreamed existed.

Damian’s Oracle: Caught in the war between the White and Black Gods, Sofia and her rare gift bring victory to he who grabs her first. Her difficult transition from human to mythical oracle forces her into a new world filled with danger and the supernatural. She struggles to adapt to her new role, to understand the sexy god who claims her as his and to help a mysterious man who’s supposed to be dead. Sweet paranormal romance.

Dissension: In the aftermath of the great cataclysm, vampires are enslaved by humans and used for blood sport as gladiators in the arena. Mira is undefeated, uncompromising and unbreakable, but when an escape attempt leads her into the path of the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever.

Reclaimed: Alexander Ash has been waiting for the perfect moment to make his move, his love for a woman has spanned an eternity, and an eternity is a long time for a vampire. Natalie, an Australian ex-soldier now turned bodyguard, gets more than she bargained for when she takes on a new client. Will she fight Alexander's allure, or given in and be reclaimed once more?

Trinity: Emma Livingston, has been through hell—and back so she thinks. While dealing with the night terrors and active imagination of her five-year old daughter, she attempts to lead a normal life. That is, until the demon from those nightmares pays her a visit, too. Can she, her daughter, and Michael, a Brethren angel, form the Trinity needed to overcome the evil ready to annihilate the world? Angels really do exist. Evil better start running!

Ever Shade: A dark twist on faeries. For Shade, a chance meeting with a powerful Teleen Faery warrior who wields electrical currents and blue fires along his skin, has her joining him on a treacherous mission for the good Seelie Faerie Court across the land of Faerie. Magic and malice abound and nothing is what it really seems to be.




The Fall of Sky (Part One) - Alexia Purdy

Sisters Audrey and Liv Westing find that living on the edge turns out to be a bit different than what they thought.
This singing duo hoped to be discovered as the next big thing while fumbling through their turbulent existences. Each one is struggling to come to terms with their addictive personalities, a trail of destructive relationships, and the consequences of every misstep they unknowingly take.

When they attract the eye of a deadly but powerful Cartel family, Liv’s flighty decisions send the sisters spiraling into a world of sketchy music deals, sexy assassins and unfathomable demands from those who want nothing more than to own every piece of them.
In a place where love will kill, it demands a steep price which may be too high to keep Audrey and Liv’s fragile world from a swift crash and burn…

THIS IS A SERIAL NOVELLA SERIES!
THIS IS PART ONE OF FOUR.






Initiation - Chronicles of the Uprising (Prequel)

The great cataclysm wiped almost all life from the face of planet Earth, but tiny pockets of survivors crawled from the ashes, with only one thought: survival, at any cost.
But not all survivors were human.
In the new world order being a Vampire is a crime punishable by eternal servitude in the arena as a Gladiator of the Iron Gate. Mira, a newly turned vampire, must prove she has what it takes to survive in the human's world. It's kill or be killed. Immortality is not guaranteed.




Want your book added to the Free Book Alert Saturday post? Click HERE.

DRM - Pirate-Proof Protection or Placebo?



No one likes to talk about piracy. But, it happens. And as an author, you want to protect your book from being illegally downloaded and spread around the internet.  So, naturally when uploading to a sales channel and you see that little checkbox or button labeled DRM, you might insta-click it with the belief that it will protect you. In theory, it will, sort of. Let’s take a look at what DRM is.

Digital Rights Management is a technology intent to control the use of digital content and devices based on the vendor they are purchased from. Simply put. If you buy a book from Kindle, it cannot be used or transferred to a Nook. The idea there is to make sure that you have a legitimate copy and it will work for only the device you bought it for. No pirating.  

But, what if you purchased a book on your kindle, but wanted to read it on another device that cannot run a kindle application? You still purchased it. You still hold the rights to read it… but if you wanted it on another device, DRM protection prevents you from doing that. You have to purchase another copy for another device.  In this case the DRM protection is a double-edged sword for the genuine consumer.

There are ways around this however. Programs exist out there to help strip away the DRM protection and allow consumers to make their ebooks available to other devices.

And that is where the placebo effect comes into play. You click that little box with the general good natured hope to keep your work safe. However, the ease in which that protection can be undermined makes the idea of using it pointless. Add to that the aggravation it causes readers who might wish to have flexibility in the devices they can read legitimately purchased books on, and you have more reasons not to use it.

If you ask me, it’s just not worth using. Forget clicking the checkbox. DRM will not provide the protection you want.


What do you think? Do you use DRM on your books? 

The Secret to Making time for Writing



With all of the other things that need to be done to build your author platform, how do you make time for actual writing?

It’s a question I’ve struggled with. Being a work at home mom, I am constantly chasing down two toddlers who can wreck a living room faster than you can blink. They’ve dumped every bin of toys, upended the train table, and knocked over all the books on their bookshelf in the time it takes me to make a quick potty break. Yeah… kids are fun! There is no such thing as down time during the day when they won’t nap at the same time either. Daily chores, playtime, feeding time, and tandem naps means my day is swamped with domestics.  That leaves precious little time each night, when those adorable little terrors cherubs are fast asleep in their beds, reminding me, after a day from hell, how sweet they can be.

I get roughly 4 hours from the time the littles are in bed until I pass out at the keyboard. I used to be able to handle all-nighters, but after celebrating my 30th birthday a few times, I find it harder and harder to make it past midnight. So, with that time crunch in mind, making time for writing, marketing, and social media-ing (notice I separated marketing and social media… Think back to previous posts on the topic.) is a careful balancing act.

I’m not telling you all of this for sympathy. I am showing you that if I can do it, so can you. Take a look at the side bar. See all those titles? Many were written and published during multiple pregnancies and while enduring teething, sleepless nights, and fighting many bouts of writer’s block.

The secret? It’s nothing really. Commit yourself to 500 words a day. 1,000 if you are feeling really frisky.

Doesn’t sound like a lot, and in reality, it isn’t. But, it adds up over time.


Average sized novel is between 60-80k. Writing 500 words a day (which should take no more than an hour to do. Just free write, first draft style, word spew) takes 120-160 days. If you write 1,000 words a day that’s 60-80 days for a first draft. See how easy that is? Just commit yourself to a small goal every day and you will find your story begins to take shape and you still have time for other things. 

Should I Hire A Publicist to Market My Books?


We talked about having a PA a few blogs posts ago, and also about doing some cheap and free marketing, but what about hiring the big guns? A Publicist! Is it worth it? What exactly does a Publicist do?

Well, for starters,  a Publicist’s job includes but is not limited to:  creating ads, setting up book signings, sending materials to author events, arranging blog tours, sending press releases, crafting bookmarks and other SWAG, making ARCs available to reviewers, etc…

I could keep typing until my fingers fall off. Publicists do a lot to help gain exposure for an author’s book.

Of course I have to say it… No book is a guaranteed best seller, no matter how much marketing is done for it, but it does not hurt to have some heavy hitters in your corner, if you can afford it.

With all those wonderful lists of things they can do also comes a very hefty price tag. I’ve seen publicists offer package deals of upwards of $500-$1,000 on ongoing monthly packages.

The benefits to hiring a publicist are not in the items they can do for you. PA’s and of course, you yourself are perfectly capable of making media kits, contacting blogs, hiring an artist to do Bookmarks or other SWAG, etc… The true benefit is in their knowledge of the market.

A good publicist should bring to the table their own lists of trusted contacts that they have cultivated over the years. That means the difference between cold-calling various media outlets and handshaking with the right people to talk about your book. It’s the knowledge and experience you are really paying for.

However, with that in mind, you want a publicist who works with your genres too. You need to do a bit of research. If you’re writing a crime drama and the publicist you’re wanting to hire works primarily in Romance, they might not have the same connections with the proper media channels, blogs, and social media groups as someone who works well within your genre of choice.

And again, let me say it for the record.  No book is a guaranteed best seller, no matter how much marketing is done for it! As an author, the best thing you can do is continue to produce good quality books!

Have you hired a publicist? Who did you use, and what was your experience?

Where do you see your story going?



To write a novel takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. And that is the chief reason that there are so many people out there who are shocked and amazed when you do it. I cannot tell you the countless times I have heard, “Oh I’ve always wanted to write, but….” (Insert any excuse you like there).

The difference between a writer and a wannabe is actually doing it. Sitting your butt in the chair every day and logging in the words, that’s what makes you a writer. And (shhh, don’t let this secret out) it is really not that hard to do. If you make it a habit, 500 words a day should take no more than a half hour’s time. You don’t even have to write well. Just 500 words every day. Eventually something will form and you will have created a story. But, I’m not here to tell you how to get over the “I wish I could write, but…”. Honestly the writing is the easy part. It’s the revising and editing that might make you go insane.
So, after you’ve written and published your work, what then? Are you done, or do you try to expand into other entertainment avenues? It’s something I’ve been daydreaming of for a while now.

I think my Chronicles series would make an excellent Television show. Why TV and not movies? Because TV series can take the time to really develop your characters and explore smaller plot lines that tie into the major ones whereas Film has a limit to squeeze in all the details they can. I love movies, but I find TV series to be a much better avenue to give a book series time to show all the goods.

Right now, it is just a dream, but one I’d love to see come to fruition. You hear that, universe? I’ve also discovered a site that, from what I can tell, lets you play around with creating a dream cast. I assume if you get enough support, someone will take notice. For now, it’s fun to imagine. Click the link and toss your support in if you’d like. Maybe even suggest an actor of your own too.



So, Movies, TV series, etc… Ever considered that for your book? If you have, post in the comments below and tell me about your journey.


What can a PA do for your Books?


I was asked about using a PA after last week’s post about marketing options.  So, let's take a closer look at what a PA is and can do for you and your books. PA’s are a wonderful resource to use to take some of the pressure off of an indie author’s writing/marketing workload. 

This is a work for hire position with rates to be negotiated by the author and the PA prior to work beginning. It is always suggested that before any work partnership is started that some form of written contract be in place. This protects the Author as well as the PA from possible legal issues down the road.

The responsibilities of the PA are, but not limited to the following:

1.  Social Networking assistance. Update Facebook page and Twitter account with teasers, sales, and other promotional items related to the author’s work. (All teasers and other promotional graphics will be provided by the author. Any other graphics must be approved by the author before posting.)

2.  Maintain calendar for the author (blog takeovers, promotional events, and other miscellaneous items).

3.  Keep track of giveaways, schedule and document winner addresses for the author to award prizes.

4.  Answer questions from fans as reasonable, regarding future releases, promotional events, signings, etc. or forward inquiry to the author for a response.

5.  Assist author in organizing tasks for her street team, including sharing posts made on the author’s FB fan page with the street team for them to share on FB and Twitter.

6.  Assist author in writing monthly newsletter.

So. As you can see, a PA can pick up as much or as little of the author’s workload as they both agree on, significantly reducing the time spent away from writing. However, as it is a work-for-hire position, the cost can become high if you rely on them too much. If you find that is the case, you might consider a publicist.

More on that in our next post.