Don’t Wait to Get Picked, Pick Yourself

It’s been two years since I last blogged. But I haven’t stopped writing.

For the last few years, I have worked on my craft—grinding it out, finishing one new novel after another, editing each manuscript—toiling over every sentence until I was satisfied. Then I would send out queries and wait for literary agents to get back to me—hoping for one of them to believe in my stories as much as I, and my beta readers, believe in them. With every few rejections I would receive, there would be a spark of hope—agents asking for a partial or a full manuscript. And while I held my breath, I would fulfill each request with my fingers crossed. Soon, the replies would filter in, some automated and generic, some even complimenting my writing and my stories—yet all would end with different variations of saying no.

Despite all the hard work I had put into each manuscript, I was back to square one.

Feeling defeated once more, I would take a deep breath and accept the fact—as discouraging as it was, that this was all part of the process of finding an agent. At least based on my research, other people’s experiences, and the information I had gained from writing workshops and conferences. It wouldn’t take long until I would start working on a new story, while emotionally and mentally preparing myself for the next round of writing, editing, and querying.

A few weeks ago, while scanning thumbnails on YouTube, I noticed an interview from Behind the Brand with Brian Elliott called, Seth Godin: Don’t wait to get picked, pick yourself.

I was intrigued. So, I clicked on it. Minutes later, everything made sense.

Don’t wait to get picked, pick yourself. A line that lingered in my head for the rest of the day.

It was clear. By me following the same paradigm year after year, I was no longer pursuing my own goals. I was simply following someone else’s path—hoping and expecting for the same results.

Without me noticing—this way of thinking and pursuing had caused me to forget the one thing I had set out to do: Write my stories and share them with you.

While I stayed cooped up inside my writing box—with one click, people all over the world were sharing their craft, product, or idea through social media and other platforms—finding their audience, building their careers, joining communities, changing their lives and others, and never looking back. People who believe and trust in their dream or idea—enough to let it drive them forward, regardless if they would fail or not.

Seth Godin is right. Don’t wait to get picked, pick yourself.

Follow your own path. Because just as we are all unique, each of our dreams are, too. There is no wrong or right way to achieve your dream. If one path does not work, do not give up.

Instead, move on and create your own opportunities.

I would love to get a literary agent. But it might not be in the cards right now. It’s time I fold this hand so I could get dealt a new one.

In 2012, I self-published my first novel, HIGH (A Caffeinated Love Story). To my loyal readers who have asked me through the years when my next novel is coming out—thank you for patiently waiting. I finally have an answer for you.

HEARTS AND ERRORS will release on January 19, 2019!

Beginning this week, excerpts from my upcoming novel and updates will be posted here and on my other social media accounts.

After all, this is all I ever wanted to do. To write my stories and share them with you.

 

 

Self-Published Authors Night

I think it’s wonderful that there are bookstores out there who support self-published authors. Lauren, the owner of The Reading Bug, had her first Self-Published Authors Night last July 9. I was lucky enough to be part of it.

Three other authors and myself, got to present and read our books to the crowd. Click here to view more photos from the event.
IMG_0608  croppedIMG_0680
The Reading Bug is a bookstore mainly for children, so it was a delight to be able to showcase Sammy’s Books.

As authors, I believe it’s important to go out there and meet our readers—talk to them and engage with them. Participating in events like these really brings us closer to our audience. It’s also a good way to meet and support other authors.

 

 

Novel and Children’s Book Update

So far, the late nights have paid off.

I’m finally done editing my book. Yay! Next step is to format it, and then send it out to print.

I’m also done with my children’s book. I sent my files to CreateSpace yesterday and am now waiting to proof them sometime today.

Here is the cover of my children’s book. It’s a goodnight book designed to prepare babies, toddlers and young children for bed, at the same time, teach and remind them of their first words.

GoodnightCoverBlog

Goodnight World is the first book from Sammy’s Books. I created Sammy’s Books because I wanted to design a collection of beginner books for little kids. With the use of simple and straightforward designs, I hope to help little kids focus and learn, and still fun.

My daughter’s name is Samantha. That’s where Sammy comes from. That’s her on the logo. I am still working on the website.

It’s pouring here in San Francisco—perfect weather to stay inside and write. How’s the weather where you are?

Novel and Children’s Book Update

So far, the late nights have paid off.

I’m finally done editing my book. Yay! Next step is to format it, and then send it out to print.

I’m also done with my children’s book. I sent my files to CreateSpace yesterday and am now waiting to proof them sometime today.

Here is the cover of my children’s book. It’s a goodnight book designed to prepare babies, toddlers and young children for bed, at the same time, teach and remind them of their first words.

GoodnightCoverBlog

Goodnight World is the first book from Sammy’s Books. I created Sammy’s Books because I wanted to design a collection of beginner books for little kids. With the use of simple and straightforward designs, I hope to help little kids focus and learn, and still fun.

My daughter’s name is Samantha. That’s where Sammy comes from. That’s her on the logo. I am still working on the website.

It’s pouring here in San Francisco—perfect weather to stay inside and write. How’s the weather where you are?

Helpful Advice from Indie Authors

I saw an article today on Twitter that I thought I’d share with you.

If you’re in the process of publishing your book, like I am, or have published your book but could use some helpful tips on marketing and self-publishing, check out the link below.

What do you wish you had known when you first started self-publishing?

If you’re already a self-published author, what do you wish you had known when you first started self-publishing?

Helpful Advice from Indie Authors

I saw an article today on Twitter that I thought I’d share with you.

If you’re in the process of publishing your book, like I am, or have published your book but could use some helpful tips on marketing and self-publishing, check out the link below.

What do you wish you had known when you first started self-publishing?

If you’re already a self-published author, what do you wish you had known when you first started self-publishing?

An Interview with Author, Sara Flower

I am excited to have the wonderful Sara Flower as my guest for this interview. Sara is the author of the books, By the Sword and Followed.

Congratulations on your second novel. What inspired you to write, Followed?
SF: Thank you, Corey. Followed was inspired by a lot of different things. I had always wanted to write a dark story set in the Regency era. I listened to a lot of metal at that point in time, so I think that’s responsible in part to the mind-bending plot twist.

If you could describe Followed in one sentence, what would it be?
SF: Four young people from 19th century England discover that being lost in an eerie forest is the least of their worries when they wake up in a research lab.

    

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
SF: I started writing stories in kindergarten, so it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed.

What made you decide to self-publish?
SF: I had queried literary agents for two years, until one kind lady responded and said that Christian fantasy is a tough market to break into, so she was hesitant to request a full manuscript (despite how much she liked the premise). After publishing my first book, By the Sword, on my own, I enjoyed the full control and confidence that comes from being an indie author.

What do you think is the easiest part about self-publishing?
SF: It’s so fun to lay out the ideas of my vision for the cover with my designer.

What do you think is the hardest part about self-publishing?
SF: There is honestly nothing very difficult about self-publishing, but the most challenging thing would be organizing the print book files on CreateSpace. That is a bit of a hassle I have to admit.

How do you market your books?
SF: I promote them on my blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and Good Reads. I also contact book bloggers that enjoy the genre that my book is in. I think the best way to market your books is to keep publishing news ones. Your name becomes better known with the more you do.

Do you do blog tours? Would you recommend them?
SF: I did a blog tour earlier this year. It did not turn out so well, because most of the bloggers did not really enjoy YA fantasy. I think it would be a helpful thing is you are selective of which blogs you appear on.

What do you think about book launches? Do you think they’re necessary?
SF: I just think they’re fun! 🙂

How many books do you think you read a year?
SF: I read anywhere from 12 to 20 books, depending on how busy I am.

What is your favorite book?
SF: The Book Thief

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
SF: Gosh, being a writer defines me. As I wake up and go about doing all these things during the day, I am constantly inspired and thinking of what could make a great story. So, I suppose my ability to daydream and escape reality is what I like most.

Thank you, Sara.

Check out Sara’s blog and her book, By the Sword.  Followed is set to launch in October 2012.

An Interview with Author, Sara Flower

I am excited to have the wonderful Sara Flower as my guest for this interview. Sara is the author of the books, By the Sword and Followed.

Congratulations on your second novel. What inspired you to write, Followed?
SF: Thank you, Corey. Followed was inspired by a lot of different things. I had always wanted to write a dark story set in the Regency era. I listened to a lot of metal at that point in time, so I think that’s responsible in part to the mind-bending plot twist.

If you could describe Followed in one sentence, what would it be?
SF: Four young people from 19th century England discover that being lost in an eerie forest is the least of their worries when they wake up in a research lab.

    

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
SF: I started writing stories in kindergarten, so it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed.

What made you decide to self-publish?
SF: I had queried literary agents for two years, until one kind lady responded and said that Christian fantasy is a tough market to break into, so she was hesitant to request a full manuscript (despite how much she liked the premise). After publishing my first book, By the Sword, on my own, I enjoyed the full control and confidence that comes from being an indie author.

What do you think is the easiest part about self-publishing?
SF: It’s so fun to lay out the ideas of my vision for the cover with my designer.

What do you think is the hardest part about self-publishing?
SF: There is honestly nothing very difficult about self-publishing, but the most challenging thing would be organizing the print book files on CreateSpace. That is a bit of a hassle I have to admit.

How do you market your books?
SF: I promote them on my blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and Good Reads. I also contact book bloggers that enjoy the genre that my book is in. I think the best way to market your books is to keep publishing news ones. Your name becomes better known with the more you do.

Do you do blog tours? Would you recommend them?
SF: I did a blog tour earlier this year. It did not turn out so well, because most of the bloggers did not really enjoy YA fantasy. I think it would be a helpful thing is you are selective of which blogs you appear on.

What do you think about book launches? Do you think they’re necessary?
SF: I just think they’re fun! 🙂

How many books do you think you read a year?
SF: I read anywhere from 12 to 20 books, depending on how busy I am.

What is your favorite book?
SF: The Book Thief

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
SF: Gosh, being a writer defines me. As I wake up and go about doing all these things during the day, I am constantly inspired and thinking of what could make a great story. So, I suppose my ability to daydream and escape reality is what I like most.

Thank you, Sara.

Check out Sara’s blog and her book, By the Sword.  Followed is set to launch in October 2012.

An Interview with Author, Lauren Waters

I am thrilled to have the lovely, Lauren Waters, the author of Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion, as my guest for this interview.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
LW: I wrote poetry since I was very young and I dreamed of becoming the next Jane Goodall. I thought I’d write about my adventures observing animals in exotic locations, but life went a different way and I chose to observe my own little monkeys. A few years ago, I felt compelled to write down the story that was keeping me up at night. Writing my first novel was so rewarding that I knew it was something I needed to do for myself from then on.

    

Tell us about Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion.
LW: Infinite Sacrifice is a reincarnation fantasy about an old woman named Maya who is shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment she dies. What follows is a series of historic vignettes, spanning from the dawn of civilization up to the apocalyptic time of plague, all tied together with the thread of one soul’s journey for spiritual perfection. However, Maya is not alone on the road to enlightenment. She is surrounded by souls who help or hinder her progress—evolving alongside her throughout some of the most compelling events and eras in history.

Maya continues in Infinite Devotion to delve into her past lives after death, as she strives  to complete the tentative journey required to reunite with her loved ones in heaven. Her companions prove truer while her enemies grow stronger as her bygone adventures spin forth. This time she must experience the trials of loyalty and endure the hardships that only supreme devotion brings.

What inspired you to write your book series?
LW: An idea. Many say, “Write the books you want to read and for years, I wished that someone would release a book or movie that explored the possibilities of reincarnation. I came across a few books in this genre that centered on star-crossed young soul mates with only flashbacks of one other past life.  I yearned for one that dug deeply into all of the intricacies of many lives and many relationships. I wanted it to feel real. Therefore, I decided that I would write it.

What made you decide to self-publish?
LW: I queried my first book for six months and I was thrilled when my dream agent asked for a full request. She let me know that series sold well if they were stand alones, since publishers only want to continue with a series as long as it’s successful. She asked me to make it a stand-alone and I tried to think of how I could do that, but this story can never be a stand-alone. It is a true series, and I knew it had to be told as such. I decided then that I wanted to publish it on my own and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Which publishing company did you use and would you recommend them?
LW: I used Createspace for my print versions and I highly recommend them. The quality amazed me and they are very easy to work with. However, I have sold only a hand full of print copies outside my friends and family. The majority of sales for self-publishers will be ebooks sold through Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. I recommend all of these distributors. I know many indie authors who only publish in ebook form, yet I just had to have a physical copy for myself. If your budget is tight, by all means, forgo the print format.

What do you think are the advantages of self-publishing?
LW: Namely, control. You are the one who decides: which editing advice you listen to, cover design (one of my favorite jobs), title, book price, free promotions, which books you publish in the future, your promotional strategy, deadlines. The deadlines are the most important aspects for me since I have two little children who always come first. If I felt the pressure to complete a book by a certain date with a whole team of people relying on me, that pressure would interfere with my more important full time job. This way I can live my life around my passion for writing.

How do you feel about book trailers? Do you think they work?
LW: I had so much fun creating my book trailers. I’m not sure if they sell any of my books, but I don’t think they can hurt. If a reader doesn’t like book trailers then he won’t bother watching them, but if someone is interested, then they might get his attention. However, I wouldn’t pay someone to make one for you though. Here is a post I made so you can make one yourself: http://laurenwaters.net/2011/07/06/phew-the-book-trailer-is-done/. Any publicity is good publicity.

What type of marketing has been the most effective for you?
LW: Definitely making my first novel in the Infinite Series free. It has done wonders for me. I now advise any self-publisher to make something free for a prolonged period in order to get your other books noticed—whether it be a short story, novella, the first of the series, or part of your book. People mistrust self-publishing, so if you give them a free sample of your writing quality, they may invest into other works. Plus, you are seen on the free ebooks lists and on free ebook promotion sites. Again, publicity.

How much time do you think you spend on marketing your book online and offline?
LW: I try to do as little marketing as possible. It’s my least favorite part of the process (right after creating book descriptions!). This is one of the main reasons I made my first book free. That does most of the promoting for me. Every once in awhile, when the rankings slip, I have to get my free book featured on a free ebook site to pick the rankings back up. I also send my book out to book reviewers and give print copies of my second book away on Goodreads from time to time. Nothing sells your book better than word of mouth.

What do you think about blog tours? Do you participate in them?
LW: I have done a blog tour and didn’t see any huge increase in sales that week, but it’s a great way to get many reviews and interviews in a short amount of time. I chose a very inexpensive one, but I don’t think they paired up the reviewers very well with my genre. I have come across a fantastic historical fiction blog tour that I might splurge on in the future.

Aside from writing a great story, what do you think makes some self-published books succeed and some fail?
LW: Not putting enough time and money into it. Without a team of people telling you when your book is ready, you need to revise until it feels like terrorist torture to read your MS one…more…time. Then you need to send out to as many beta’s (hopefully some with writing experience) as you can. Then you need to make changes again. Then you have to pay for the best editor you can afford, and one or two proofreaders to catch all the things the editor missed. Pay for it now and save yourself the negative reviews and embarrassment of fixing typos after the fact.

Would you ever consider traditional publishing?
LW: Of course, I’ve dreamed of high sales that would attract the attention of my dream agent who will not only get my books in brick and mortar stores, and sell the screenplay to Bruckheimer (yes, I said dream). Then, I think about all that pressure and I’m content with where I am right now. My books and fans make me so happy; I don’t need much more. Although, after my children are grown, I might pursue traditional publishing when I can commit to it full time.

What book are you currently reading?
LW: The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840 by Jack Larkin—research for my third book, Infinite Loss.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
LW: The best thing of all is when someone tells me that they loved reading my book. There are no words to describe how great that feels.

Thank you, Lauren for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

If you would like to check out Lauren’s blog or pick up a copy of her books, you can find her at: http://laurenwaters.net/.

Her books are also available on Amazon.

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?