Friday, May 25, 2012

Rest and Relaxation Friday--Well Sort Of

Today is TGIF! Yippee! Horray! Well I finished editing my competition novella for the Black Orchid Competition. Almost 18,000 words.

I read it aloud to my family group last night after dinner. Consensus was entertaining with a weird twist like most of my stories.I had them glued with one of the high speed chases in the story and an Evil Kenevil type stunt.

Either way the decision on the winner will be in December. Wish me luck.  If I lose I'll publish it myself. If I win I'm headed for NYC. It's a win-win for me either way.
  I enjoy playing with words almost if not more than I like playing with food.

If you read my Wednesday post, you'll know that I unpublished the Kindle version of "Escape from Second Eden." I'll start on the reformatting and editing this weekend. But today is Friday. I'm taking the day off from writing and letting my fast and furious working muses rest. The only thing I have on the agenda is ONE wedding for a local doctor and then I'm done. It will be the first one wedding Friday in about four months.

I plan on hitting the hay early and getting a fresh start on Saturday morning. First I have to upload my copy of "Eden" off a CD-ROM onto my new computer. Since most of my stuff is in two places still (my old office and the new one) it may take some searching. I really need to get myself organized better. But that's a project for another weekend not this one.

This weekend I'm focusing on editing and formatting. Since it is a long weekend I can't mail my entry out until Tuesday anyhow.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Decision Made

Well, it's been in research and discussion for a while now. I don't do anything without a critical thinking process. I'm pulling my first three books off of Amazon Kindle for reformatting.

Escape from Second Eden

The Sacrificial Lamb

Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption

Will all get a face lift over the next couple months. I'm going to work on the kindle versions and possibly give them new titles. If you want an e-copy I'm going to ask my readers to get their copies from Smashwords and the paperbacks will still be available through Amazon and CreateSpace. Only the Kindle version will not be available on Amazon.

It will take about a month for each copy. Starting next month with "Escape from Second Eden." This has been an arduous decision for me, but like anything else...this is a learning process.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Mayhem & More for the Indie Author

Well folks it's Monday again. Had a long weekend of weddings and assorted other things go on during the two day break. I started writing a novella for the Black Orchid Awards a couple months back. It's coming together nicely. The deadline is fast approaching and I hope to get all the tweaking done in time...if not there is always next year.

What's a novella? It's a short book. Longer than a short story but over 15,000 words. I'm finding with self/e-publishing shorter is better. It sells cheaper, it's a fast read, and I can plan, finish, edit, and write them much faster than their novel counterparts. It would be the only writing I do that I would even consider offering for $0.99 to $1.99. It's not that I value my writing higher than anyone else, it's more like I worked hard putting my works together and as such I should be paid for it.

Pricing your work is one of the most difficult things you will have to do as an indie author. But honestly, no matter what you charge for your books, they may not sell. With the rush to e-publish that I've seen in the past couple years...there is just too much free stuff available for readers. Some of it is total trash while others are quite well done. While I may be plugging away between $0.99 - $3.99 for e-versions of my books, I'm not a household name like say Critchton, Gabaldon, Brown, or Clancy. The fact is millions out there have no idea who I am, that I am writing novels and nonfiction, or where to find me. Via all the social marketing sites I may hit 1/1,000,000,000 of readers out there. That's a pretty small market. My odds are better winning the lottery.

So why do I persist? Because I have to. I know that sounds trite, but it's a fact. Without writing something everyday, I feel lost, disorientated and like I'm not doing anything but standing still. So, I move forward and write. While I might never get notoriety, it's enough that I tried. Sometimes you just have to accept "enough." If you don't love what you are doing, if you are doing it for someone else, or if you are doing it just for the are writing for the wrong reasons.

I'm also getting ready for the Southeastern Writer's Workshop next month. I didn't enter any of the manuscript categories for a possible prize, not really sure which classes I want to many to choose from. While I have manuscripts ready for possible publication to show an agent or editor...I'm not pitching one. So why in the heck am I spending a few hundred dollars to attend? It's a chance to touch actual physical bases with other authors. An opportunity to share ideas. I am, after thirty years in this business of writing, still a novice. Okay maybe not a novice, but I can always learn new things.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More Self-Help for Indie Authors- Market Shares

On Tuesday and Wednesday I talked about the business ends of self-publishing and being an indie author. I'll continue that thread today. Today's focus is more about the entrepreneurial spirit of being an indie author. Today's topic is analyzing data and market shares, and why you should care as a writer.

I know many of you have tried being traditionally published. I'm not knocking it. I traditionally publish also or at least did in the past. I know there is a swing towards being an indie author with traditionally published author. So much so that traditional publishers are hurting financially to the point of lawsuits and bankruptcies.

As a child and young adult, I spent hours in brick and mortar bookshops and libraries. Now, the internet makes it so much easier to find what you want from the comfort of your home. With electronic media such as twitter, Facebook, and Google+ you don't actually have to meet up with friends to chat.

I had another author friend ask me about GoodReads. I've been a member there for about a year now like most of the social medias. GoodReads is a different animal all together. It's all about the reader. You can promote your books as an author, but more importantly it ties you in with other readers. For me, I developed a fan page there also. It's not getting a whole lot of activity but that's okay for me. I'm chatting away with other readers about books I read and write.

It's market research. I know many writers do research into the markets they are writing in whether they are traditionally published or self-published.

It shows the writer who reads what and what they thought about it.  This is important. In the old days you'd have to hire a market research firm to get this valuable information for big bucks. I know I've done it and charged the big bucks to do it. It's like Google Analytics. With GoodReads I can speak to readers one on one as well as other authors. What works and what doesn't. It saves time. You can develop an email list of those who are reading you as an author for your next novel. It's a back door look into the publishers' confidentiality clause. It's what standard publishers do so well.

Do you know the market for your books? Okay, say it's romance. Ah, but what kind of romance is it? Paranormal? Historical? The Barbara Cartland type? The steamy erotica type? There are a whole host of sub genres in one category. Do you know who your market is? Doh! Women, right? Yes, but what are their age brackets? What nationality reads more romances than any other? What is their educational background? This is data all necessary for you to figure out who makes up your readers' market. You wouldn't sell a teenie booper romance to an elderly woman, would you? No of course not, you would hit the tween market.

Wouldn't you want to cultivate that particular market? This is what most agents say "know your market." This is not necessarily a broad area. It could be a specialized market niche. Say you write a military based how-too book. Housewives on average will not buy it. The language you use in the book wouldn't be warm and goes over most men's heads. You'd get this kind of look from them. ----------->

As an indie author you have to know who your audience is and how to reach them. It's building your "platform." It's creating a mailing list. It's letting those who would possibly buy your book know who you are and what you've written. Most writers do not see the sense in wasting their time on twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, Google+, etc because they don't see results instantly. Social media is not about's about the possibility of future sales and building relationships with readers. Like this blog does for other writers. You may have few viewers at the present time, but it grows.

For traditional publishing a successful internet platform is 5,000 hits a day is optimum. But for the indie author it's a growing experience.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Real Wednesday & the Indie Author

Yesterday I posted my blog early which I'm usually a day late and a dollar short so this is an improvement. The issues I spoke of is true and couldn't wait in my mind. But today, I'll continue the theme of entrepreneurial spirit as an indie author. I will hit each issue in the following weeks in entrepreneurship as an indie author. and am looking at hitting this side at least once a week.

As an indie author you are an entrepreneur. You are self employed and as such, you are responsible as any other business person out there. Like it or not this involves a number of hats you wear that you didn't count accounting, marketing, and branding yourself to you customers. It's a whole 'nother ball game.

In The Author Business: The Practical Guide to the Business of Being a Self-Published Author. I talk about some of these pitfalls and other hats. For example taxes and accounting. There are tons of books about how to write and publish a book, but after you get your first royalty check you become a sole proprietorship. Or if you are a larger entity, a LLC, or INC (limited liability corporation or incorporated).  For this blog I'll focus on the Sole Proprietorship. That's what most of us are to begin with anyhow. Many of you new readers may not know that I have a MBA and worked as a marketing and accounting consultant for fifteen years. So I wrote/write this with experience.

When you uploaded your first book with Amazon or wherever, they asked for your social security number, didn't they. You had to choose what kind of taxable entity you were. They issue 10-99's at the beginning of each year for all those royalty checks they sent you. I use the US equivalent here because I live in the US. It is important to know your tax laws or it will come back and bite you in the butt, if you are not prepared.

I'll use my figures here as an example. I had four books published with Amazon,CreateSpace, and Smashwords (Barnes and Noble, Diesel, etc are part of my Smashwords accounting)last year. My income from my books was almost $5,000. Not a lot but just enough to put me in a higher tax bracket or two. Considering I'm an unknown quantity as far as fiction goes...that's not too shoddy.

I belong to an organization which donates books to military overseas for free. It's just my way of supporting the armed forces and their families which I strongly believe in. The purchase price of the book remains the same even though I donated them for free. This is counted as a deduction from my income. I do this through Smashwords coupons. This also goes for books you buy for reviewers, friends, and family...remember one person will tell ten. It's all advertising, promotion, or a charitable donation.

The cost of internet, which is how I write, promote and publish my books comes off as an advertising expense. If I drive to a book store for a book signing...another deduction under mileage or actual vehicle expenses. When I buy photo paper for bookmarks, printer ink, regular paper, etc it's an office expense. When I bought my new computer and monitor they were deducted and depreciated over the next five years. My writing software, Word, was a straight 179 deduction. When I attend conferences, it's a straight deduction under professional/trade. When I teach a seminar, that's income but it also has its expenses also like travel, meals, lodging etc.

Now, yes, if you make over $500 profit you will have to pay self-employment taxes, but there is a little line on page one which allows you to take half of that right off the top before your adjust earned income is calculated.

Keep every receipt whether it is income or a possible deduction for your end of the year accounting. Now, if you are a hugely famous probably have an accountant. For me, I save money and do it myself. The total amount I earned was zero taxable dollars from last year. Want to see how I did it? The pamphlet is available at and will cost you $0.99, but it wills save you hundreds. I know tax season is officially over as of April 15th, but you need to start planning for next year. While I'm not against paying my government for the privilege of living in this country, I also want to keep every penny.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wednesday's Wisdom for the Indie Author

Wisdom may be a strong word, but justly so about today's topic. Wisdom and patience is needed when looking at a career as an indie author. Just like any entrepreneurial endeavor, it takes hard work to succeed.

  • As an indie author- you have to plan, monetize, and market each and every book you write and publish. 
  •  As an indie author- you are in it for the long haul.
  • As an indie author- the initial cost layout is as small or as large as you want it to be.
  • As an indie author- you are in control and in the driver's seat with your book going in the direction you want it to go.
  • As an indie author- you are the boss. You may hire outside editors, cover designers, proofreaders, and format specialists, or do it yourself.
  •  As an indie author- you will EARN every penny you make.
If you do not have an entrepreneurial spirit. If you are not an adventurer. If you are not confident in yourself. You probably shouldn't try being an indie author.

I've said it before you need a thick skin to be an author. There will be people out there who will call your book ugly, badly formatted, or just not done well when compared to another author's work. They will nit pick and leave bad reviews. They will let you know each and every mistake that was made. This goes with the job. Accept it, move on, and grow a thicker skin. By the same token there are typos and grammatical errors in standard published books too. Nobody is perfect.

 As any self employed person, as an indie author the buck stops with you. You write a bad book and it doesn't sell.

Or at the very least a reader is not ready to take a chance on an unknown author. Figure out a way to get yourself known. That's a major problem with doing something for first time...nobody knows who you are and you have no track record.  I've spent the last few months looking at the covers of my published books and trying to figure out if they would sell better with a new cover. I still haven't changed anything yet.

I've been looking at formatting issues which were mentioned to me and considering pulling my books off of Kindle. This too is my decision to make. Which is worse; a poorly formatted book which is getting low stars because of these issues, or leaving it alone? This is currently in research.

Yeah as a self-employed writer, you will be the one to make all the decisions. You will be the one to face whatever comes with your babies just like any parent. It's growing pains. A learning curve. And you will learn new things each and every day. This is a must.

It will take wisdom on your part to realize whether it can all be done by yourself or if you need outside help. No, I'm not talking about family, but a stranger with a new, fresh take on the situation. In the chart above there are few who have reached the pinnacle of "Guru" in self-publishing. I can only think of a handful at best.

For myself, I fall between the Freelancer and Contractor stages. I'm not ready to acknowledge the Contractor stage or move into the Expert stage. That's a huge jump. Maybe by the time I hit over 100,000 books sold I'll be comfortable with the jump to expert. While I've hit the Guru stage in many fields over the years, I really doubt I'll get there in writing, but that remains to be seen. I don't have a crystal ball to foresee the future. All I can do is hope for the best.

So where do you fall on the Self-Employment Hierarchy chart?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Again and Marketing

Well, not to shoddy of a weekend for sales of my novels and books. I went up into Pintrest today and noticed others are pinning my books which helps get the word out about them.

Most Mondays for me is spent in reviews; reviews of sales, reviews of twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, etc. I answer emails which to date are close to 300 per day.

I'll browse Facebook for messages otherwise I'll wait for an email that someone has sent me a message. When I first started with Facebook it took up a lot of my day instead of writing. Twitter is just insane with my screen rolling faster than I can read...mostly about nothing.  Is MySpace still alive? I haven't gone into it in a almost a year.

My Google + account gets checked about once every two weeks. I know I'm just being slack. But I'm juggling like a mad woman working, writing, marketing/promotion as an indie author. I could spend all my time just on the marketing, but my love is writing.

Today my daughter (my pastry chef) got a phone call from a five star four diamond resort about possibly coming in as their executive sous chef of pastry. She called me all flustered. Then reality hit when she heard the salary. Keep in mind an executive pastry chef can earn way upwards of $35K a year and salaries of greater than that are often considered the low end of the scale. The salary offered was in the medium bracket for this field.

After she got off the phone with them, she immediately called me. She told me she was scared. I asked why, I mean she had worked on Sea Island's Cloister Hotel which is five star and five diamond in the past. She knows the pressure of the job, the time, and more importantly it was all reinforced with college classwork less than a year ago. She is afraid of disappointing others who recommended her for the position. She's afraid of not being able to do the job since her brain tumor took out a large portion of her memory. In other words, she's afraid of failure.

Aren't we all afraid of this when we put ourselves out there? I say failure be damned! If you don't try then you will never know. While by a lot of other people's standards I'm a failure at writing because in the past year... I've had mediocre sales by publishing standards. I haven't promoted myself much as an author. Done two book signings. Attended no special events. I really haven't branded myself to one type of literature. I'm just out there sometimes, by choice. This isn't a 9-5 job for me. I can spend days in front of my computer not focusing on writing or promotion. Just playing around as it were.

So what's my point? Basically you have to do what you love to do and makes you happy. I love putting words together into sentences. I love writing scenes and dialog. I love playing what-if games with my characters. As far as my daughter goes, I asked her if she still loved what she does with wedding cakes, pastries, and chocolate. She said yes, of course. My answer to her was, "What are you waiting for? Grab the bull by the horns and ride that sucker! Momma wouldn't be a writer if she didn't. Have faith in yourself and the Power Above."

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Launch Day!

I know it's not my regular day to post, but today is launch day for "Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper?"

I'm semi-sort of excited. It will be a few days before the paperback copy is ready on oversight on my part. But the electronic versions are Smashwords and Kindle for $2.99. It is still waiting approval for Barnes and Noble and other e-book distributors.

A paperback version of this book will appear on Amazon in a few days. Or you can grab it  here at now for $5.99.

It includes photographs in both versions of the my homemade Rocket Stove, the 3-sisters method of planting, and my water catchment system.

I also created a video trailer for this book. Enjoy.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

If You Were Writing a Sequel...

If you were writing a series of books would you A) Continue where you left off, B) Take up several months from where you left off, or C) Create a whole new scenario?

As I said in my last post I'm going back to square one with my second zombie novel. The beginning of the other copy takes place off the coast of Hawaii and it wasn't my intention of reviving the old cast of characters. About halfway through the second edit, the original characters started screaming at me. They had things left undone and were still alive. If nothing else, this is what promoted the whole story rewrite of "Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers." The premise of the story is still the same...survival against flesh eating zombies.

If I take the story up a few months, there could be a lot of back story. I'm fighting that urge by only writing a sentence or two sprinkled here and there as minimal fillers or only adding them as the story dictates and the reader needs to know the information. In other words I'm bringing the reader up to speed by the spoonful. Yes, in this case I'm following the rules. Long, wordy back story passages are boring and doesn't move the story forward. So the way I do it is to take ten steps forward and one baby step back.

So I begin anew with "Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers." I'm bringing back the old cast of characters and adding the new bits as I go. It's like being a welder trying to put together two sheets of metal with a torch. Wish me luck.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Ugly Child

While I sit here pondering what I'm going to do about my Kindle books, it occurs to me that I haven't written anything about editing in a while.

What is the Ugly Child? It's your first draft and possibly even your second. It's the bones of editing your novel or book until it is beautiful. Now, I've been editing my own and a few others for almost twenty years...that's a long time. Even with all that time, I still make mistakes...doesn't everyone? I'm currently looking at my new zombie novel, "Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers."

Wow, this is painful. It sucks. It is so ugly in the second draft that's I've decided to scrap it and start over. The opening is banal, the middle mediocre, and the end while awesome leaves too many questions. No amount of editing or even plastic surgery would make this child even halfway passable as beautiful. No worries, being a creative sort I know how to make it better. Now, I'm shaking my head and wondering what I was thinking of while writing it.

Now, I could kick myself for six months down the drain, but I'm not. I'm a Jill of all trades and master at none. Everything about creation is a learning experience.If I was a master, I wouldn't have anything else to learn. I'm a firm believer of death being the absence of learning so I relish the chance to learn more.

I am now five months to a year behind my self-imposing  publishing schedule. Am I worried, nah. I'll get there eventually.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Bit Puzzled About Kindle

I have sold almost 500 copies of my novels via Kindle format and Amazon. I hear from many of you who have bought them...raves and not-so-raves. What is puzzling to me is why some can download a great copy of my books and others get copies which are corrupted with sentences jumbled, punctuation duplicated, etc?

Now, I format each and every book using the same font, font size, and everything else in Kindle following their guidelines to the letter. I'm so anal compulsive about it, I reread the instructions each and every time I upload a book. I want to get things right. When I browse the conversion with PDF everything looks right. When I check it out with E-Pub, it's right. I know it is right in Word. I painstakingly edit and tweak until almost every word and spacing is correct.

Why is it only some copies which come out skewed and not all copies? Of course if someone really wanted the MOBI format they could download it from But Amazon is a strong contender for sales. I am concerned about the lower stars because of the formatting issues from these corrupted files. I'm hearing comments like..."Really enjoyed your book, but the formatting sucked" and "Would have given it five stars if it wasn't for the punctuation and sentence jumbles."I've gotten a handful of emails and messages on this and am considering pulling all my Kindle uploads which would hurt sales.

It's those handful of people who sent me a message that concerns me. How many more out there did not get a clean copy and just haven't said anything. This does not bode well for me trying to break into the fiction market. Right now I'm kicking myself in the backside.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.