For Inspiration

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
—Michael Jordan

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I recently watched an interview of J.K. Rowling and loved every second of it. Truly inspiring. It’s amazing to think that she was rejected by so many publishers before she made it big. And boy, did she make it BIG.

Click here to watch the interview.

It’s Been Six Months Since…

…I published my first novel, HIGH.

Whenever I flip through the pages of HIGH, I still can’t believe I wrote those words. I was the one who spent hours, days, weeks, months—even years toiling over each word and each paragraph. I created that plot and made up those characters using my imagination. I wrote that story. For a good while, that story was my little secret. A secret I was afraid to share with anyone. Now it’s out there for the world to see.

I feel that no matter how many books I write and publish from now on, HIGH will always be the most important one. This book and I went through a lot of ups and downs together. In the process of writing and editing it—life happened. I got engaged, got married, got pregnant, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, became a parent, became a stay-at-home-mom, was diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder, had brain surgery—and through it all, I never gave up. Whenever I could, I kept writing. I wanted to finish my book. I wanted to achieve my goal despite the challenges that came my way. And I did it. It wasn’t easy. But I did it.

HIGH will always remind me of what I’ve been through and how strong I’ve become. It will always remind me of how hard I worked to chase a dream—no matter what. Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful HIGH may turn out to be—I will always be proud of it.

HIGH is available in paperback and eBook format on amazon.com.

My KDP Select Experiment

Whew! My HIGH Blog Tour is over. So was it worth it? Well, all I can say is I’m glad I did it. I’ll write another post about the experience another time. For now, I’d like to write about my experience with KDP Select.

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with KDP Select. If you’re not, it’s basically a program for writers that Amazon launched not too long ago. It gives writers the opportunity to list their eBook for FREE for five days within a 90-day period—but they have to agree to sell their enrolled book(s) exclusively only through Amazon.  Some people don’t like this exclusivity, others don’t mind it. After researching online and reading success stories from other authors who have used KDP Select, I decided to do my own experiment and enrolled HIGH in the program in January of this year.

The Advantages of KDP Select 

I’m a new author. Aside from my blog followers, my family and close friends, no one else knew about my novel, HIGH. Other authors have said that giving away their books for free for one day, two days or even five days, have helped increase their sales later.

I wanted more sales. Most of all, I wanted more readers. So as much as it made my family cringe knowing I was about to give away my book for FREE—I went ahead and did it, and hoped for good—if not great results.

My First Try

A lot of the articles I read suggested that a two-day promo was better than one. But for some reason, I couldn’t do it. I was too nervous about the FREE promotion that I decided to try it for one day.

I picked February 20th, a Wednesday. I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m., and by 8 a.m., I checked to see how many units were “sold”. I was hoping for maybe ten or twenty. My eyes grew big when I saw: 192. When I checked amazon.com, I was completely surprised to see this:
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I checked my status obsessively throughout the day, and I must say the experience was exhilarating.

By 10:30 p.m. I “sold” 740 units! This was my ranking at the end of the day:
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For a first try, I thought this wasn’t bad at all.

The next day, I waited to see if my sales would improve. It didn’t.

My Second Try

I decided to do the FREE promo again for HIGH, this time on February 23, which was a Saturday.

By 2:30 p.m., this was my ranking:
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At the end of the day, I was pleased to see a total of 1644 units “sold”. When I checked Amazon, I was thrilled to see this:
2:23:13 11 pm

The Results:
After my second experiment with KDP Select, I began receiving more reviews on amazon.com. I also noticed that my sales improved—not by a whole lot, but it was definitely better than before.

So would I do it again? Sure. The most important thing for me right now is to gain new readers. KDP Select has helped me do that. HIGH is now in the hands of  2,384 new readers. I think that’s pretty fantastic.

There are other perks to enrolling in KDP Select. Click here to learn more.

Have you tried KDP Select? How was your experience? Would you recommend it to other new authors? 

Book Release: HIGH is Now Available

HIGH_book

After a long, but wonderful journey—my first novel, HIGH, is finally published.

The paperback is now available for purchase on createspace.com, and will be available on Amazon.com in the next few days. The eBook version will follow shortly. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you so much to those who have supported me along the way.

Have a Fabulous New Year!

Why We Need Beta Readers and Editors

I recently mentioned to a friend that I was self-publishing my first book this November as an e-book, as well as a printed book. I told him that after I edit on my own, I will be passing my manuscript to beta readers, possibly a proofreader and after that, edit it again and then it goes to an editor.

To which he replied: “The editing process is never ending anyway. With the technology now with e-books, why don’t you just eliminate the beta readers and editors and publish your book now and get the readers out there to give their feedback and then revise your book again based on the feedback you get, and then publish it again.

My head spun a little.  So I said, “What do you mean? Revise my book again, even after I’ve already published it?” A bit confused, I added, “Why would I want to do that?”

He said, “Yes, keep revising the same book and publishing it over and over based on the feedback you get from readers.”

I asked, “The same book?”

“Yes, the same book. The one you have now,” he confirmed.

My head spun again. “You mean, just print what I have now and let the readers read and judge it without having beta readers read it first?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “But once my book is published—that’s it. I’d like to be done with it so I can move on and start writing other stories. Why would I want to keep revising the same book and publishing it over and over again?”

Completely nonplussed, I asked my friend what the advantages are of doing it the way he’s suggesting. To be honest, I don’t even remember what he said because it probably didn’t make sense to me.

For me, it almost sounds like he’s saying:
“Why don’t you rush and publish your book now, even if you’re not satisfied with it and it hasn’t been read by others who can help you polish it. Who cares? You’ll get feedback from readers outside anyway. You can use the feedback to keep revising and keep publishing THE SAME book, over and over again.

To me, it also sounds like: Why don’t you just put a product out there that hasn’t been tested? Who cares if it doesn’t work? You can keep revising the product anyway?

But wouldn’t I be setting myself up for failure by doing it that way?

First of all, why would I risk my reputation as a first time author and publish a book that’s not polished? Just to get it out there because I can keep revising it anyway? It doesn’t make sense. Also, what happens to the printed pieces?

After researching, reading articles and posts from other writers over the last 6 months on self-publishing and e-books, and seeing the results of self-published authors, my friend’s comment didn’t make any sense to me. I can think of a hundred reasons why I do not think his idea is a good idea. For one, beta readers are there to help you. They will read your book and critique it and give you helpful feedback. If I rushed and published my book now and eliminated the beta readers and editors, I would probably get feedback, but none of which would tell me if I made a typo on page 40 and 180, or that I should rewrite a sentence or a paragraph because something is missing, etcetera. Regular readers won’t give the same feedback. They will give general feedback, but won’t go into specifics like beta readers and editors do.

There are many reasons why a lot of e-books fail and why some succeed. I’ve read a number of posts from self-published writers who all give the same advice:

  1. First, write a good book.
  2. Get people you trust who aren’t family to read it and give you honest feedback (example: beta readers) before you publish.
  3. Hire an editor.
  4. Create a great book cover.
  5. Have a marketing plan.
  6. Know your target audience.

I’m sure my friend meant well. Maybe all he was trying to say was take advantage of technology. But even then, some of the things he suggested didn’t make sense.

At the end of the day, I am still sticking to my plan. My manuscript will still be going to beta readers. I personally believe that having them read it and critique it will help me polish my book before it gets published.

Here are links to some posts that I’ve recently read on self-publishing and why beta readers are important:

http://crimefictioncollective.blogspot.ca/2012/08/three-mistakes-you-dont-want-to-make.html

http://jennymherrera.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/four-reasons-why-you-need-beta-readers/

http://saraflower.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/beta-readers/

What do think? Eliminate beta readers? Rush and publish and keep revising and publishing the same book over and over again?

It’s May already?

Yikes. Need to get going on my writing projects. Done with the vacations for a while. Time to sit, write, edit and publish. That’s the goal this month.

What are your writing goals this month?

Why We Don’t Give Up

So you’ve sent out dozens of query letters, sent out partials, received rejection letters, attended writers conferences, and still—no representation. Do you stop trying? 

I met a writer at a conference last year that told me he’s been attending the same conference for years, trying to sell his book idea to agents and editors and have not succeeded. It’s not an easy task and yet he still keeps trying.

There are many possible reasons as to why he hasn’t gotten signed. He could have an excellent story, but his query letter is poor. Or have a great story, but not a sellable one. Or have a great plot, but it’s not well written, or not edited, or he’s been pitching to the wrong agents and editors or his book is simply not ready, or we can go on speculating.

The truth is, we don’t know why he hasn’t gotten signed. But this goes for a lot of us who have patiently held on to our manuscripts for weeks, months, or even years, and have sent out queries and prayed for the perfect agent to give us that phone call that will change our lives forever and sign us and make us millionaires or best sellers, or whatever else we dream of being. In the end, we are writers who want to get published. We want our stories to make it, just like the rest of them.

But how long are we willing to wait…

Before we move on and decide that maybe the manuscript we have now is not meant to be our first book?
Before we move on and write our next story?
Before we say that maybe we don’t want to wait for a Literary Agent to dictate when we will be published authors.
Before we say that our story is good and that maybe self-publishing is the way to go.
Before we say that this is our dream, therefore it is up to us to make it real.
Before we give up.

But you see, we don’t give up. Our stories exist because we were called to write them. Something, somewhere gave us the idea and it was our job to write it down. And we did. There is a reason for that, and that’s why we are here still trying.

The thought of landing a Literary Agent can sometimes be frustrating and discouraging. The thought of self-publishing can be daunting and overwhelming, so what do we do? The reality is, we wrote a book. A book we believe in, and we want it published someday, somehow, somewhere.

And now, we must ask ourselves:
Do we want to be traditionally published or do we want to self-publish?
Do we want to control our destiny or wait for a star to fall?

I say we continue to research, network, educate ourselves, and know our options.

And while we wait to see our name in lights…we keep writing.

An Interview with Dina Silver, Author of One Pink Line

Here it is, as promised, my interview with a self-published author.

I discovered Dina’s book, One Pink Lineon Amazon.com and was very impressed with the rave reviews. I knew I had to interview her. Dina was kind enough to let me do just that.

See below.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve been working as a writer in the ad industry for about 15 years, and I’ve always wanted to write more than headlines and direct mail pieces. Before I wrote my first book, I started writing it as a screenplay, but decided to convert it to a novel somewhere along the way.

What inspired you to write One Pink Line?
One Pink Line is inspired by the story of a friend of mine. Once she told me about herself and her family, I was so touched by what a wonderful and touching young life she had lived, that I immediately asked her if I could write about it.

If you were to tell us about your book in one sentence, what would it be?
A great love story.

How long did it take you to write your novel?
About three months to write, and about seven months to edit.

Who read your book before it got published? Are you part of a Writer’s Group?
I am not part of a writer’s group. I hired a local editor, and had a few friends and family members read the manuscript. Some read it more than once.

Is your book only available electronically or do you also have printed copies?
Printed copies are available through Amazon.

How do you market your book?
Honestly, I spend hours every day trying to market my book. I’m always trying to reach out to book bloggers, reviewers, and other self-published authors like myself. I have found that the “indie” book community is extremely supportive! There are so many writers like myself who have come together to help other writers gain a presence and get the word out on each other’s books.

Did you ever consider getting a Literary Agent or did you always know you wanted to self-publish? How did you decide?
I actually had an agent, and was under contract with her for a year. She was shopping around my first book, Kat Fight, and was unable to find a publisher for it. During that year, I discovered self-publishing, and did a ton of research on it that lead me to believe it was the perfect path for me. So I chose not to renew my contract with my agent, and have been absolutely thrilled with my choice. I will say that I am a complete control freak, and you almost have to be to self-publish successfully, because you do everything yourself. However, I did publish through Createspace (who I HIGHLY recommend) and they will do a bunch of the upfront work for you. But once it’s out there, you need to really work to get your book noticed…and it will be so rewarding when you do.

Describe your experience with self-publishing. How long did the whole process take?
Partnering with Createspace took about three months. But I went through them because I wanted to have paperback copies available too. If you’re strictly going the eBook route, it will take much less time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being self-published?
The biggest advantage, as far as I’m concerned, is that you maintain the rights to your work. The other big advantage is that you can make more money per book, and you can have your book published in record time. Most traditional houses take 18 months to get your book out there.

Would you recommend self-publishing?
I would highly recommend it! However, make sure you have a perfectly edited manuscript, great cover art, and the ability to market yourself. Oh…and a good book!

Have you joined writing competitions?
I have entered One Pink Line in three competitions…results are all still pending. Cross your fingers for me!

What genre does your book belong to?
It falls under Contemporary Fiction & Women’s Fiction. 

What makes you unique as a writer? Describe your writing style.
I hope what makes me unique is my wit. I really try to write a great story with a thread of humor throughout.

Who is your favorite author, and why?
Hmm, I might have to say Jane Austen.

Define a good book.
One that I can’t put down. One that keeps me thinking about the characters as I’m trying to fall asleep.

Define a good writer.
Well, there are so many different types of writers, but I guess they all share a similar passion for storytelling. That’s what really comes through in the great ones.

What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?
Favorite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice. Right now I am reading Mockingjay (third book in the Hunger Games trilogy)

How has being a published author changed your life?
It’s been a gift. I truly believe this is what I was always meant to do.

How do you balance being a writer and a mom?
I have one beautiful boy who is in third grade, so I have lots of time to write when he’s at school.

What inspires you to write?
Great stories.

Are you working on your second book?
Yes! My second book, Kat Fight, will be out in June.

What tips can you give writers who are considering self-publishing?
Here are a few:

  • Edit, edit, edit!
  • If people you trust give you great criticism, take it
  • Hire someone to design an eye-catching, professional cover for your book
  • Get involved in social media
  • Get involved with the site Goodreads
  • Reach out to book bloggers
  • Once your book is out there being read, ask people to leave reviews for it on Amazon
  • Good luck!

Thanks Dina for giving me the opportunity to interview you. It was such a pleasure.

If you’d like to learn more about Dina Silver, visit her website.

One Pink Line is available on Amazon.com.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope my two interviews were helpful.

Everything you need to know about self-publishing an e-book

Okay, so since my last post, I haven’t been able to stop pondering about self-publishing e-books. I wandered around the Kindle Publishing Guide page on Amazon.com and read about the steps on how to self-publish and I must say, it made my head spin a little. There are quite a few steps to take, which is not surprising, just overwhelming at first glance.

If you’re wondering if I’m considering self-publishing, I am…I think. Well, sort of. It’s tempting.

If you’re someone who is definitely considering it but have no idea where to begin, I came across a great blog site that lists everything you need to know about self-publishing your e-book(s). I found it to be very informative. Check it out.

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2011/07/how-i-created-my-first-e-book/

And if you’re someone who has already self-published your e-book(s) and have had some positive results, and feel like sharing your story, please do so. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by.