Category Archives: Authors

Can’t sleep-creative insomnia

Now on Amazon

2:45 am Tuesday and I’m wide awake. A storm is heading my way promising 18 inches of snow. Everyone in the house is sleeping and my brain is on overdrive, no I haven’t had any coffee…yet. I think the few brain cells I have left would melt if I did.

My current book Tombyards & Butterflies is doing  fantastic in its first week of release, but that’s not what’s keeping me up. The second book is nagging the hell out of me. If you are creative you know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea that wont be quiet. The plot point that just wont stop. The character that whispers into your ears when you are driving, showering, doing the dishes or any other activity where a pen and paper( or phone) is out of reach, forcing you to stop and hurriedly get that idea down. And you do, because like a wisp of smoke, if you dont it vanishes and taunts you, remaining just at the fringe of conscious thought.

So I’m up and I haven’t blogged in a while because this latest book has demanded I write-hard and fast. It pushes me to write to the exclusion of everything else and so the blog, like a secret mistress, gets my visits in the dead of night when I can’t sleep. But the story,implacable, unrelenting, is there looking over my shoulder, pacing and tapping it’s foot. It gives me the stink eye and then floods my brain with ideas as if to say,”try writing that post now.”

I manage because I enjoy my blog and writing. My brain is always writing, always dealing with the alchemy of words, spoken and written. A part of me seriously believes that all creatives are slightly mad and unhinged-it’s what drives us and fuels our creative expressions. I can only speak to my experience. Writing a book is mad work. You sit down and have a conversation with the voices-in your head. You weave a story around that conversation and then invite others to jump into a world with you. Sure… totally sane.

Taking a blank page, canvas, or pick your medium, and transforming it into a book, a painting, a piece of music, a piece of you, is the ultimate form of creation. To bring forth something from nothing is the both the most empowering and frightening thing you can do and you must do it. To refuse the impulse is  an act of abnegation and the fastest way to insanity.

In an effort to stave off my impending madness I am going to go wrestle with a story that just wont quit. I’ll see you on the other side.

Montague & Strong-An Interview

NYC home to Montague & Strong Detective Agency
NYC home to Montague & Strong Detective Agency

A few nights ago I managed to conduct an interview with one of New York City’s premier supernatural detective agencies: Montague & Strong. They graciously offered to sit with me, drink some coffee (and tea) while I asked them about their work and lives.

Here is the interview:

I’m sitting at a large table in the back of The Last Gasp Brew- a coffee and tea shop located in lower Manhattan when they walk in. Right away you can see the contrast.  Simon stands around six foot tall and has a casual air about him. He’s wearing a leather pea-coat, black jeans and a light gray sweater. His bronze complexion is off-set by the shockingly white hair that sits atop his head.  He looks around for a few seconds, sees me, gives me a wave and a smile as he approaches. He slides into the chair opposite me.

Behind him glides in Tristan who looks like he just left a martial arts class. His eyes scan the room and he exudes a quiet danger as he enters the shop. He’s wearing what appears to be a black loose-fitting tai-chi uniform. He’s not as tall as Simon, but his presence makes him appear to fill the space around him. His complexion is darker than Simon’s and his hair is a deep black with gray at the temples.

They sit at the table opposite me, both facing the door. Simon and I shake hands, Tristan gives me a curt nod.

Orlando: Thank you both for meeting me here tonight. I know your schedule is usually busy working cases.  I really appreciate it. By the way the coffee here is excellent.

Tristan: You only say that because you haven’t tried the tea. It’s our pleasure. Thank you for having us.

I notice that Tristan has a slight English accent while Simon sounds very ‘New York’.

Simon:  No one drinks tea anymore.

Tristan:  Except maybe most of the civilized world.

Orlando: Thanks again. I didn’t realize how difficult arranging this interview would be. You two must have some of the busiest schedules in the city.

Simon: Well it’s not like we had a choice – what I mean is you are… you know?

Simon makes some gestures I don’t understand with his hands and Tristan sighs.

Tristan: What he means is that he’s  happy to be here answering questions. You’ll have to excuse him, sometimes he’s as tactful as a brick.

Simon looks at Tristan and chuckles. He takes off his coat and reclines in the large wing-back chair. His laugh is infectious and I find myself smiling. Tristan responds with a brief smile, but remains mostly serious and vigilant. I get the impression he has assessed everyone in the shop and found no imminent threats. 

Simon: What the worst he can do, Monty? He did make me immortal you know. Try and relax.

I look down at my notes and prepare my first question.

Orlando: About that- you’re immortal?

Simon: The technical term is ‘cursed alive’.  Apparently Kali-

Orlando: Kali as in the goddess Kali the destroyer? Shiva’s consort?

Simon: Yeah that one. Well I was on this job for Shiva-

Tristan: Which I told him not to take. I distinctly remember advising you against getting involved with those two.

Simon: Anyway- Shiva asked me to get some information, things I’m not at liberty to discuss. Kali found out what I was doing and lost it. She went ballistic and marked me with this.

Simon shows me  the back of his left hand. An intricate design is etched into his skin.

Orlando: What is that?

Simon: It’s called  an endless knot. She basically stopped me from aging.

Orlando: I’m not seeing the downside. She made you immortal. You don’t age. This may sound odd, but can you die?

Simon: Can you?

Orlando: Well yes, I haven’t been cursed by an angry goddess.

Simon: Well so can I. The problem is that I wont stay dead.  Even worse is that I don’t know how I’ll come back. It’s not something I’m eager to test. You know?

Orlando: I can understand your reluctance.

Tristan: His immortality may be conditional, is what he’s trying to say. He could very well die and return as a goat. Which would be an improvement if you ask me.

Simon: He didn’t ask you, Monty.

Orlando: So you don’t know if you’re really immortal?

Tristan: All the indicators are there and several prominent entities have alluded to his altered state-some more violently than others.

Orlando: What can you tell me about the mark Kali gave you?

Simon: It’s part of the curse. As long as I have this-

He shows me the mark again and it seems to reflect the light around us with a subtle golden hue.

Simon: I’ll be hunted every time I use it..also every time I use it, it gets ‘her’ attention.

Orlando: Her meaning Kali?

Tristan looks up at the ceiling and sighs loudly.

Tristan: Here we go. It’s not every time. Your delusions of grandeur are astounding. The universe doesn’t revolve around Simon Strong.

Simon: Her meaning Karma. I don’t even like saying her name out loud. I never know if she’s close.

Orlando: Karma is female?

Simon: You’ve never heard the saying: “Karma is a bitch?”

Orlando: I think everyone has heard that one.

Simon: You have no idea, trust me.

Orlando: Does it do anything special, the mark?

Simon: Yes it’s a source of endless grief. See what I did there?

Tristan: It causes temporal stasis, but we cant really go into much detail.

Orlando: I understand.  So Monty?

Tristan: Tristan please.

I take a moment to check my notes.

Orlando: My apologies I have it here that Simon calls you Monty.

Tristan: Because my friend is a bloody idiot.

Orlando: I see, sorry about that, Tristan. You’re a mage. A magic user?

Simon: Oh not just a mage. He’s a ‘Golden Circle’ mage.

Simon makes air quotes as he says golden circle.

Orlando: A Golden Circle mage?

Tristan: The Golden Circle is the oldest of the mage groups on the planet. They have devoted their lives to the deep study of magic and its connection to all life for the betterment of humanity.

Orlando: That’s some mission and quite admirable.

Simon suppresses a laugh.

Simon: I’m sorry. It’s just that Monty can’t stand them because all they do is study. The mages are forbidden from entering and being part of the world or modern society. Monty is currently AWOL.

Tristan: I’m on extended sabbatical. I believe magic should transcend just study and has practical applications as well.

Simon: That’s what you’re calling it now? How long is the extension-forever? I’ve never heard of a sabbatical lasting ten years. I’m just saying.

Tristan: Next question please.

Orlando: What is that you both do?

Simon: We’re a paranormal detective agency. When things go south, sideways and inside out they call us. We take the cases  no one else can or wants to take.

Tristan: We provide a unique service to the city and the supernatural community. We investigate matters our clients prefer to keep discreet and on rare occasions prevent catastrophes.

Orlando: That would be the Montague & Strong Detective Agency? Who named it?

Simon: It was going to be the Strong & Montague Agency for Paranormal Investigations, but Monty bought the sign. I still think my titles sounds better.

Tristan: It doesn’t and also M comes before S.

Orlando: You two have an interesting chemistry. How did you meet?

Simon: A few years ago I was working a case- this was before the whole Kali thing- turns out Monty was working the same case from a different angle. We were dealing with some sorcerers who were kidnapping  homeless people for a  human sacrifice ring. The Dark Council asked me to look into it and stop the kidnappings. Monty and I teamed up and stopped it. I haven’t been able to get rid of him since then.

Orlando: This is the Council that governs the community of supernatural beings in the city? The one led by Michiko Nakatomi the vampire?

Tristan: You’ve done your research. That information is incredibly difficult to obtain. Yes that’s ‘his’ vampire.

Simon: She’s not my vampire. She is a good acquaintance.

This time it’s Tristan who tries and fails to suppress laughter.

Tristan: The Dark Council is a dangerous and ruthless organization made up of Vampires, Weres and other assorted supernatural beings. All of which can be a threat to humanity. The last thing they do is make ‘acquaintances’. He is madly infatuated with her to his and our detriment.

Simon’s phone rings. He looks down at the number and scowls.

Simon: Excuse me I have to take this. Ramirez- que pasta?

He stands and looks at me apologetically as he begins walking away and speaking.

Orlando: Is that urgent?

Tristan: When it’s Ramirez, it usually is.

Orlando: One last question. Why Simon? It’s obvious you two come from very different circles. Why do you stay together? I’m sure as a Golden Circle mage you could have your pick of partners or join any mage society.

Tristan takes a sip of his tea before speaking. He glances over at his partner who is still on the phone and nods.

Tristan: It’s quite simple really. You’re right I could be in any number of organizations, but I’m here with Simon. He can be and usually is a right pain in the arse. The simple truth is that he’s my friend and I’m his. We look out for each other.

Simon returns, downs his cup of coffee and puts on his jacket.

Simon: Hey, I’m sorry, but we have to roll. Some rogue vampire is terrorizing midtown. Can’t have the tourists be on the menu-bad PR for the city.

Orlando: I understand. Thank you again for your time and sitting with me. Maybe we can do this again when your schedule is less busy?

They both stop, look at me and laugh. 

Tristan: I’m certain we can fit it in. Once we sort out dealing with the Dark Council, Ramirez and the NYTF, stopping the random deranged being bent on starting another supernatural war and any other fresh horrors that crop up.

Simon is at the entrance holding the door for Tristan. He has the phone to his ear again.

Simon: Monty, let’s go. Ramirez is having a fit.

He gives me a wave and heads outside.

Tristan and I shake hands as he prepares to leave.

Tristan: Try the tea, you wont regret it. Oh and stay out of Times Square for a few hours.

He heads out of the coffee  shop. I watch them jump into a 1967 midnight blue  Pontiac GTO parked in front. The engine roars to life and then settles into a purr followed by the screeching of tires as they speed off.

I decide to stay in the Last Gasp a little longer, seeing as how my next assignment was in midtown and order the tea.

 

Hope you enjoyed the interview! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!blogdragonfly

 

 

 

Tombyards & Butterflies- An Excerpt

Nanowrimo 2016
Nanowrimo 2016

In an effort to embrace writing here regularly I wanted to share a part of my current work in progress, but first… its Nanowrimo ! This is the month thousands of people get together and try and write a 50k novel in 30 days. Yes, its as hard as it sounds. If you haven’t tried it I seriously recommend it. You will be part of a great community and can share in the experience of focused writing for a month. I wish all the would be authors out there the best of luck in getting to 50k before the 30th!

Now for that excerpt .This is a little different from what I usually write but I wanted to go in a different direction, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Here it goes:

I remembered my grandfather, my sister, and various aunts and cousins, in their coffins and gone forever in the tombyards where the butterflies settled like flowers on the graves and where the flowers blew away like butterflies over the stones.-Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing.

 

ONE

What’s more exciting than chasing a rabid werewolf? Chasing that rabid werewolf in downtown Manhattan. The Village as a neighborhood is a warren of intersecting streets and dead ends. We had been at this for thirty minutes and I was getting aggravated.

“This is what the English did—who lays out a city like this?” I said as we ran down Sixth Avenue. “A grid, Monty would it have killed them to use a grid?”

“The Dutch were here first,” he said. “The English didn’t arrive until 1664. That’s how you get the name New York.”

We chased it down Minetta Lane off Sixth Avenue. The wet dog smell punched me in the face as soon as I turned the corner.

“There’s something wrong with that smell,” I said. “God, he reeks!”

“I didn’t realize you were a werewolf scent expert,” Monty said as he caught up.

“I’m not, but this guy smells like he hasn’t bathed in a year,” I said. “Did you see his eyes?”

“I did,” Monty said. “He seems to be suffering from some kind of reaction.”

“Reaction?” I said. “He tore that poor woman in half. That’s not a reaction. That’s a full-blown infection.”

“It does seem he’s unstable,” Monty said as he looked up and down the street.

“Just a bit, yeah.”

We followed the scent to the end of Minetta and on to Macdougal Street when a large furry blur shot past us.

“Shoot it, Simon! Shoot!” Monty said.

“What do you think I’m doing?” I said as I fired several times.

“Shoot it harder!”

We jumped behind a parked SUV. The license plate read RUFFRDR. It was one of those huge things that wasn’t quite a tank, but could never pass for an ordinary car. I figured there was enough vehicle to protect us from the Were’s razor sharp claws. That theory evaporated as it sliced through the metal and plastic with ease, rendering our cover useless. The SUV fell apart like a block of Legos and I couldn’t help thinking that RUFFRDR was going to wake up in the morning and have a very bad day.

“Really, that’s what you’re going with, Monty? Shoot it harder?”

“Strong,” rasped the creature on the other side of what used to be a perfectly functioning mode of transportation. “I’m going to rip out your intestines and eat them while you watch.”

“Wow,” Monty said. “He’s pissed. What did you do to him?”

“Now would be a good time for magic,” I said. “You know a fireball or two? Or some Were melting spell?”

“Can’t—he’s wearing null proximity rune,” Monty said. “I don’t understand why the silver ammo isn’t affecting him. You did switch out for silver ammo, right?”

“Silver…ammo?” I said, “Of course I packed the silver—shit.”

I forgot to switch the ammo.

“You forgot, didn’t you?” Monty said exasperated. “We’re out here fighting a werewolf, Simon.”

“I know,” I said. “It’s a little hard to miss.”

“I’m going to die,” he said as his voice hiked up an octave. “Out here on the filthy street alongside you, wonderful.”

“No, I just misplaced it,” I said with feigned indignation. “Hey, I had to pack all of the bags while you did your meditation thing to charge the magic you’re currently not using.”

Monty narrowed his eyes and glared.

“Are you saying this is somehow my fault?”

“I’m just saying a little magic would make this go smoother, especially since I forgot to pack the silver ammo.”

blogdragonfly

Sepia Blue Sisters

Sepia Blue Sisters
Sepia Blue Sisters

I have been away from this blog for a few months due to my insane work and writing schedule. That has since calmed down a bit and so I will be posting regularly.

Its been an amazing few weeks. I had an incredible summer.  I have also taken on training seriously. I realized that a healthy body facilitates a healthy mind which means I can write more.

500lb deadlift
500lb deadlift

 

That’s me doing a 500 lb dead-lift and making the only face possible when lifting that much-we call it a squat face lol.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Sepia Blue series and it has been a blast to write. Book Two(cover above) will be released this month and the story is twisting in some unexpected and surprising ways. By the time you read this-Sepia Blue Sisters will be available. Grab a copy and let me know what you think.

I’ll be releasing some new content soon. I have a new kind of story rolling around in my head and I would like to bounce some ideas here, before I pursue them elsewhere. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.  I truly hope you have had a pleasant and exciting summer.

Keep reading!

blogdragonfly

 

 

 

Why Indie Authors need Reviews

words are art
words are art

This is my latest rant so forgive me if I get frothy at the mouth and spittle smacks you across the face.

Reviews. We all know what they are. They govern our purchases and our actions. You wont get that item on amazon if has little or no reviews, no matter how good you think it is. Or worse if the reviews say its bad then, forget it–next product.

It’s social proof I get it. I understand it really I do. Here is what I dont understand. Let’s switch gears for a second, You see a book you like or its recommended to you. You purchase and READ the book. You ENJOY the book. Why is leaving a review to that effect so monumentally difficult(Still dont have the answer to that one)?

Indie authors NEED reviews. They are the engines that drive sales. Yet if you ask every independent author out there they will tell you that the hardest part of marketing is getting those much needed reviews.

So what is the solution?

Have an email list. Yes its that simple. When I released my last book: A DREAM OF ASHES, my launch team was amazing. I had reviews the same day the book went live.  This is what having an email list can do. If you arent generating a list of subscribers to your work you are missing a key component of your marketing strategy.

Its a fight against human nature I think. I  have been guilty of it as well. I mean to leave a review then the phone rings or I have to attend to something or an email pops up and I get distracted. I forget or worse I think my buying the book was enough of an action of support. Now  have to leave a review too? Yes.

The review is what will get others to take a chance on the book. Enough of them will get the book noticed and create momentum giving the author and the work recognition. The review is that important.

The next time you read something you enjoyed-leave a review. As an independent author I thank you.blogdragonfly

How do you go from writer to author? Try the Self Publishing Formula.

The Author Helper
The Author Helper

I am eyeballs deep into a new course being run by Mark Dawson(Self Publishing Formula) but I will get to why that’s important a little later.

I know I have touched on this topic before but in this post I wanted to go into more detail.

So first a few facts:

From January to December of 2015, the entire calendar year-my books generated…$56.81.

From January to May of 2016 (to date) my books have generated over $2k and Im on track to gross over 5k for the year.

In plain math, in the space of a year( really a few months), I will be making 100x what I made last year.  This is mind shattering.

So how did this happen? I got help. Not help as a writer. I got help as an Author.

See last year I was firmly in the camp of “If you write it they will buy.”  My books didn’t sell well( most days they didnt sell at all) and I was oblivious to the marketing aspect of being an Author. Until I met John (you will meet him later).

Prior to getting help I had heard of Mark Dawson but I didn’t know who he was or what he did. You have all heard me mention my amazing uber editor Lorelei Logsdon, well she introduced me to John, her husband and the other half of this power couple.

John’s first question to me was “Have you heard of Mark Dawson?”

To which I answered “Not really.” This was back in December 2015. So he points me in the direction of Mark’s free videos which of course( if you are familiar with Mark Dawson) present me with an entirely new perspective to marketing and selling my work. I followed these videos and would ask John for tips here and there.

Another question John asked me was “How large is your mailing list?”

Now I knew mailing lists were important and I had one and in 2015 my list had a grand total of 11 members.  At least 4 of those were family.

To date my mailing list in 2016 has 1709 subscribers with a smaller subset being part of my launch team, which is a group of committed fans who have taken on the  role to help me launch my books and make them a success. I had never heard of a launch team before I met John. Now I  frequently add between 15-30 people a day to my main mailing list.

So where did I get this help and how did I make these changes?

Free videos from Self Publishing Formula and The Author Helper. This site is a treasure trove of information and videos for those willing to learn and apply the lessons contained within.

Where did John learn all of this? With  Mark Dawson and the Self Publishing Formula system.But here let John tell you himself.

Watch this video I promise its worth the 3 minutes you will invest.

You still have time to sign up for this course.  Its affordable and more importantly its essential to your growth as an Author. My reasoning is that if I was able to learn a great deal with the free videos from Mark Dawson and the Author Helper site.  I now I have an opportunity to learn even more from the Self Publishing Formula course.

You can sign up for Mark’s course HERE. It will be closing soon so I suggest you sign up and get this information !

Consider it an investment in your writing career. Just as importantly visit the Author Helper if you find yourself stuck or with questions.  Chances are they will have the answer you  need. The site is a resource for all Authors and I still drop in almost daily to listen to the podcasts and to increase my knowledge.

blogdragonfly

 

An update

Sepia Blue New Cover
Sepia Blue New Cover

I’ve jumped back into the world of Sepia Blue and i’m currently on book two of her series.  There is no cover reveal(yet) and the title is a working one so I wont share it yet.

I have to say I have mixed feelings about this trip back into her world. I became so invested in Ava James that I didn’t want to write about anything else. On the flip side I really want to find out what happens in Sepia’s world since I last visited. It’s a great world to write about, a lot darker than the world of the Warriors of the Way and this gives me the opportunity to explore some ideas I have had rolling in my head for while.

As of this post I’m about done and will soon give it to my readers and launch team to enjoy before handing it over to my uber editor. Once I have the cover I will let you see it.blogdragonfly

A new thriller you have to read

Comorbid
Comorbid

I just finished a new book by an excellent new author.  You need to get this book and read it.

Here is the synopsis:

The debut psychological thriller that challenges your assumptions

James Davis is born into a life of strife and discord. His father is violent, his mother helpless—until a man calling himself Alistair breaks into his home and kills his abusive father in front of his eyes, protecting him from a final, deadly beating. As soon as the man appears, he vanishes mysteriously into the night, passing from sight and down into the murky depths of memory. Sixteen years later, James is still trying to cope with the events of that night. He has a normal life, a normal job, and normal friends—but he fears his childhood has left him a broken man from a broken home.

And then, just as suddenly as he had all those years ago, Alistair reappears and throws James’s life into paranoia and chaos. Does Alistair’s reappearance promise deliverance from evil once again…or this time has he come for James himself?

This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It will have you turning the pages to find out what happens next.

I dont want to give anything away. Just go out and get the book. You wont regret it.

blogdragonfly

10 things Indie Authors do wrong and 7 things they do right from Derek Murphy

10 Things Indie Authors do Wrong

 

I read this post over at creativindie and felt I needed to share it here because Derek shares some important knowledge here with indie authors.

Its a long post but worth the read. Enjoy!

Firstly, let’s define “wrong.”

A lot of indie authors are motivated by passion and say things like “it’s not about the money.”

But if we can’t agree on the goals of publishing, we can’t agree on the best practices.

I think, no matter what kind of book you’re writing, we should be able to agree that it would be nice to get some people to read it, and it would be even nicer to get lots of people to read it. And even if it’s not about the money, few authors would refuse it if it started pouring in.

So let’s start there: indie authors want more readers, and possibly more money, and are trying to do things that bring both. The problem is, the methods they are using do not produce the results they’re after.

So by “wrong” I mean, “inefficient” – as in, these are things indie authors do, but that they should stop doing because they don’t produce positive results (and can actually do more harm than good).

Not considering the market

Most indie authors write the books they want to write, and don’t think about reaching readers until after they’ve finished writing. That’s OK for experienced writers who are writing in popular genres. But beginner writers don’t even bother to learn what kind of stories resonate with readers, and they think they don’t need to learn.

Which means, they are producing a product that won’t be enjoyed.

And most indie authors think “fine, I don’t care, I write for myself and my enjoyment.”

But beginning from the belief is a fundamental flaw in the writing behavior of anybody who actually wants to make a living with their writing. You must consider readership if you hope to please and entertain readers. You must read in your genre to recognize what type of writing and stories are successful to readers of that genre.

And you must give a shit about being as good, or better, than those kind of stories.

If you are willing to face this idea, you can deliberately craft commercially successful books.

If you are unwilling, you’re relying on luck and chance, and frankly you don’t deserve success, because it’s nobody’s responsibility to fund your hobby.

Ineffective website

Does your website get traffic? Do people sign up or buy books? Then what’s it for? Most indie authors try to model their website after major bestselling authors. That’s a problem.

Bestselling authors are already famous. People are searching for them by name. They don’t need to worry about being found; they don’t need to use their website to sell books or build credibility. They just offer a cool space for fans to learn more about the author.

If you’re an indie author, your website needs to be a workhorse. It has to pull in the right readers with natural traffic (to reduce your marketing and advertising costs). It has to build trust, attract the right readers, and get them to sign up for a free offer or sell a book well enough to get strangers to take a chance on it (with lots of reviews, an excerpt, and amazing cover, etc).

Ugly book cover

How many indie authors have ugly covers? At least half. Probably more.

Book covers are such a trivial and silly thing: you spent a ton of time writing your book, but that simple JPG will make or break your success. People won’t read your description if your cover doesn’t hook them. The cover has to appeal to the right readers enough to get them to read the description – that means it has to convey mood and genre immediately. I understand it can be too expensive to hire a professional designer, but there are plenty of super cheap options to getting a cover design (fivver.com, wordswag, canva.com) that are still better than the majority of crappy, homemade book covers I see on Amazon.

Spamming people

If you’re not sure you’re being spammy, read this post. Lots of authors just copy what they see other indie authors doing. The majority of indie authors rely on spam, and consider it “book marketing” – which sucks because it makes us look unprofessional, desperate and annoying.

Anytime you talk about, mention, or link to your book to a stranger, you’re being spammy.

When you Tweet quotes of your book, when you share your awards, or sales, or special offers, or new reviews, you’re being spammy. It’s OK to do it to YOUR followers, if they really followed you because they liked your books, but YOU DON’T NEED TO MARKET to those people, because they’re your fans.

So just stop.

Instead you need to be building relationships with peers and fans, because it’s OK for them to share your news, but not for you to share your news.

Marketing, however, is getting NEW fans – and strangers on the internet don’t give a shit about your book.

You need to make them care first, by producing great content that gets in front of them; cool and interesting stuff that isn’t spam and gets shared. Then people come back to your website to find out about you.

Think about everything you post or share: are you giving or taking? If the purpose of what you post is to ask for a sale, you’re taking. If you don’t care anything about whoever is reading it, other than hoping they buy, it’s spam.

You need to be giving 90% of the time.

It’s OK to share a book launch, for a new book, and talk about stuff you’re doing surrounding the launch, but you shouldn’t keep talking about it for months after (you should have produced a lot of content during launch that brings in continuous traffic.

Another easy test of whether you’re being spammy: do you know who you’re talking to and what they want? Or are you just “shotgunning” the internet, hoping somebody accidentally takes notice and buys your books?

PS) On any platform that is mostly spam, your own spam will be ignored. That’s why paid Book Blasts by Twitter accounts with tons of followers won’t work, because they post that stuff all the time and people tune them out. You need to find people with a specific, tailored audience, who have readers who trust them, to share your book.

PPS) Advertising is annoying, but it isn’t spam: it’s OK to advertise your book directly to your target readers and make it look and sound good, just make sure you either put your ad on a very targeted, genre specific website, or you use Facebook advertising to narrow your audience. Don’t just advertise your book anywhere, for anyone, without knowing who is going to see it.

Being Overprotective

I get that you want to safeguard your work, and plagiarism sucks. Here’s the truth: if you make it big, sites will pirate your books. And even if you don’t make it big, some sites pretend to pirate your books so they’ll get clicks from people, even if they don’t actually have your books. And sometimes, although it’s extremely rare, some crazy author will actually just take your work and claim it as their own.

But the legal fees to correct such a thing are probably more than you’d ever earn from the book itself, and for the vast majority of authors, none of this stuff matters because your book is invisible anyway. Don’t be worried about sharing your book with editors or beta readers. They’re doing you a favor. Don’t make them sign NDAs.

Just sell so many damn books that everybody knows it’s your story.

Paying too much

Indie authors are usually overwhelmed by “publishing” and feel more comfortable signing with a small press, even if they have to pay for it, because they think it’s like being “really” published instead of self-publishing.

Vanity and small presses charge big fees for publishing packages that include doing things for you.

But to publish a book, you really only need cover design and formatting (and probably editing, but that’s your choice). Then you have to learn how to upload your files, and maybe build a website.

If you sign with a publishing house, it’s fine – you’re paying extra for hand-holding. It’s like paying for an author assistant (and if you need one of those you could probably hire one for less). It is really nice, and does save a lot of time, to have someone on call who can just answer everything and explain everything to you.

But the truth is, most of those companies selling packages outsource all the work, so the critical pieces like cover design are marginalized. They do an adequate job, which might look professional to you, but probably isn’t good enough to be successful. Most small presses (and even big companies like Createspace or Lulu) show at best very boring cover design samples, and at worst tragically ugly ones (and those are their best examples!)

If you self-publish, it means you can choose the best designer and give them the money directly, instead of paying someone else who is going to take a big chunk just for administrative work. Educate yourself, learn to self-publish on your own, and use your money economically to get the best design you can afford.

Promoting without reviews

You can’t launch your book, or do marketing or advertising, if it doesn’t have any reviews yet. I think you need at least 15 before you can even begin, so I hate seeing indie authors who have had books out for a year or two and are still struggling with marketing, and still have less than 10 reviews.

Yes, getting book reviews takes a lot of work and effort, and it kind of sucks to ask people (especially strangers) to take  chance on your book. You’ve got to suck it up and do it anyway. If you’re sending out requests and nobody will review your book, it’s probably a sign that your book cover sucks (they never even started reading) or the writing isn’t good enough. Also, read this:why people won’t review your books.

Betting the farm

Most authors go all out for their first book and spend lots of money. It’s understandable, so I’m not saying don’t do it. Just keep in mind, since you don’t know what you’re doing yet, you’ll probably waste a lot of money and not see the results you want (trust me I’ve been there).

Firstly, your first book probably isn’t your best; secondly, a profitable writing career is usually built up by launching a dozen or so books, as quickly as possible. So do the best you can on your first book, but make sure you also have ideas ready for your second, third and forth. Each book you publish will probably do a little better, because you’ll be learning and improving all the time, and growing your author platform (unless you’re one of those writers who is completely ignoring your author platform, not learning anything about marketing, and just hoping to get lucky).

Asking people to like their page

It’s cute when indie authors trade likes and all support each other by liking each other’s pages.

But it’s also pretty useless.

Yes, you need more likes on your author page. Until you have about 1000, new readers won’t take you seriously. You can get a bunch of likes quickly by running book giveaways (and you should totally do that). But you shouldn’t ask people to like your page.

Why should they?

They either like your page because they like you and your writing, or you’re asking them to lie and pretend to like your page. That’s a terrible, self-serving practice; everybody only likes your page so you’ll like their page, and nobody actually gives a shit about each other (I’m being dramatic, actually indie authors are very supportive and nice, but I’ll talk about that later).

You want to get readers of your genre to like your page.

But actually, having lots of likes is still useless, because when you post content to your page only 10% or less will actually see your content (Facebook is funny like that). Instead of scrolling through a thread and liking dozens of other author’s pages, you should be focusing on growing your email list.

EXCEPT FOR…. it’s a good idea to like the fan pages of other authors in your genre, and share all of their great content on your page. Instead of needing to think up new content ideas all the time, if you follow a hundred awesome indie authors, with or without big platforms, and reshare all their content, your own platform and followers will grow quickly and those authors are more likely to share your content out of gratitude.

So yes, liking and sharing can be smart marketing.

But don’t just ask people for likes. It’s lame. Post remarkable content. Be helpful and useful. Follow others and get on their radar by sharing their content.

Complaining that people don’t value books.

Indie authors sometimes complain about how low ebook prices are devaluing literature, but they’re really just grumpy because nobody is buying their books. But people don’t buy based on price.

Readers value books and are willing to pay for them.

They just don’t value your book yet.

Convincing them that your book is worth 2.99 or 9.99 is your job. If you can’t convince anybody to buy your book even at 99cents, then give it away for free.

But when you say “Buy my book! Support indie authors!” you’re asking for charity to support your writing habit.

7 Things Indie Authors do Right

OK, maybe that was harsh, but I’m trying to be helpful. The nice thing is, so many authors are doing so many things wrong, publishing successful is actually pretty easy when you do everything right.

Here are some of the reasons I’m proud to be in the indie publishing community.

These are really cool things that some indie authors are doing, or should be doing.

Try

Indie authors believed in their books enough to self-publish them, even ifthey tried to go traditional and couldn’t get an agent or a publisher. That takes guts. I love that we can now publish and reach our readers directly, even if the traditional industry doesn’t think our book would be profitable enough to publish.

I know authors who have a lifetime of manuscripts tucked away in a drawer and hundreds of rejection slips. Keep trying, and if nobody else will publish you, publish yourself and get it out there.

Support Each Other

Some indie authors are weird and crazy, and I think writers are naturally awkward people with poor social skills (I certainly am)… but there’s a tremendous amount of support in the indie publishing community, with organizations and watchdogs and bloggers trying to help one another.

The only danger is hearing a bunch of other authors “support” you when you’re making big mistakes (like when you ask for feedback on an ugly cover and everybody says they love it). It’s true you need a lot of support and encouragement, so it’s awesome that indie authors are so kind and friendly. But make sure you’re getting expert advice on the things that matter. Remember, only %.000625 of authors are actually making any money.

Find the ones that are making money and learn from them, or imitate what they’re doing.

Are Willing To Learn

Indie authors have a ton to learn and do the best they can. It can be really frustrating, especially if you hate computers. I had to force myself to learn ebook formatting and then InDesign when I got sick of paying others to do it for me. The more you publish, the more skills you’ll learn. The more skills you have, the cheaper and easier it will be to market your books and make a profit.

Are Grateful

I think all readers probably love their fans, but indie authors are grateful, because they’re overcoming a lengthier period of insecurity. When you’re traditionally publishing, you already know that somebody found some value in your work. It’s nice to hear from fans, but you’ve already gotten paid. For indie authors, you often have no idea whether your book sucks or not until you’ve published… so when you start getting actual feedback from strangers who enjoyed your books… it’s a powerful feeling.

Are Patient

 

If you’re self-publishing, it’s good to be patient…. as long as you’re building your platform and publishing more books. Things take time to catch on. However, don’t think, if nothing is happening and you aren’t selling, that things will just magically happen later. If you aren’t selling, you probably have a problem with your platform (either no visibility, or nobody wants it because it isn’t presented well enough). You need to be patient and think long-term. Be flexible with deadlines, and don’t freak out at your editor/formatter/designer. These things take time, and everybody is dealing with their own crises. Try to keep positive, and relax, even if things seem like the end of the world.

Are Fast

The first book might take years to write, but I have at least a dozen friends who can (and do) finish a book a month (both fiction and non-fiction). Most successful indie authors publish every three months. It’s important to keep Amazon ranks high and engage with our fans. Of course this is easier if you’re writing series and know what happens next. But if you want to make a living, you need more content, and you’ll need to be producing quickly. Traditionally published authors waste years sending out queries, waiting for answers, then trying to sell the manuscript, then preparing it for publication….it’s one way to do things, but it’s much slower.

Take responsibility

 

Taking responsibility is probably the key to success in any field. Don’t blame others. Don’t complain. Everything is under your control, but only you care enough to take action and make things happen. It’s not enough to want it really badly, you need to be willing to learn what it takes to succeed and do what’s necessary. I know a lot of authors whose only limiting beliefs about money or art are crippling their success.

You CAN do this – there are people lazier and dumber than you (not that you’re lazy or dumb) who are making money with their writing. You’re a smart, likable person (I can tell). If you want to make a living with your writing, you can do it, but it won’t be handed to you, and it doesn’t happen by luck.

A Dream of Ashes-My new book

A Dream of Ashes
A Dream of Ashes

So Warriors of the Way is done. It only took four years to finish the series( huge sigh). I’m currently working on the Sepia Blue stories ( on book two of five) but in between those two worlds I got slammed into this one-A DREAM OF ASHES.

First of all look at that awesome cover!

Big thanks to Carl Greaves at Extended Imagery. This is an ongoing series of books-Chronicles of the Modern Mystics with each one being a standalone. read. You can find it here.

Here is the description:

Mystics. Magic. Murder.

Ava James is a fire mystic with the Mystic Investigative Division. As a branch of the Enclave, a worldwide mystic organization, the MID is feared, respected and reviled.

When the half-charred body of a Mystic is found, the Enclave sends her to investigate the strange death. Ava finds that all the clues point to the killer being a fire mystic, one of her own. Accused by the Enclave of working with the killer she must solve the case before a secret buried in her past is revealed and destroys her world.

Can she save herself? Will she find the murderer?

If you like hardcore, fast-moving action, complex mystical powers and an unstoppable heroine, then you’ll love Orlando A. Sanchez’ thrilling new series, Chronicles of the Modern Mystics.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself writing this book. Its a darker story than my other books, but also it flowed faster and easier. Ava’s story was easy to tell and the momentum ramped up pretty fast near the start of the book. Pick up a copy and let me know what you thought.

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