Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Secret to Self Publishing

The secret is output.


You can't write/self publish one book and then sit back and wait. The marketplace is far too crowded now. You must write half a dozen books, pimp them on Twitter, Facebook, and BookBub, and "all the while" continue to write and pump out more books to subsequently pimp.

Just ask Russell Blake.

And get over the notion that you're uncomfortable with self promotion or with selling your work. There's absolutely nothing wrong with selling. If it helps, think of it as something you're excited about (your book) and sharing it with a friend, the same feeling you get when you and a friend are talking about what happened on Game of Thrones last night.

Lack of sales of a professionally edited, well-written book with a professional cover has less to do with its quality and more to do with the fact that nobody knows about it.

Why do you think production companies advertising new blockbuster movies have an advertising budget equal to the cost of the film's production? Tonight while you're on the sofa watching TV, make a note of what movie(s) you're seeing advertised over and over and over again. And then remember that there is a lot of luck involved, too. At the end of the day, this is an odd mixture of art mixed with business. Art is subjective and business (sales) is a numbers game. Which is why some movies flop despite everyone's best efforts (Disney's The Lone Ranger comes to mind; did you see it? I didn't.).

Focus on the writing, the love of the story, write at least half a dozen books, and then reassess.

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

Plus, in a few more years, things will get easier because
A) more people will be reading ebooks and
B) there will be fewer books crowding the marketplace after many hopeful writers realize this author gig thing is WORK, and they give up.

Until then, write for yourself, write for yourself, write for yourself.

And if you want to learn strategies and discover the experiences of 25 other self-published writers, check out my new nonfiction book below. A year's worth of author interviews all in one book. Only $2.99. Subsequent volumes to follow. Thanks.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Game of Thrones

Who here is a Game of Thrones fan (books or HBO series)?

Besides me, that is.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

10 Questions with Fantasy Novelist Jen Wylie (@jen_wylie)

This Author Spotlight
Fantasy Novelist

Jen Wylie

author of

Jen Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her two boys, an Australian shepherd and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate, she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother, she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I started writing when I was in public school. I was also a very avid reader from a young age, so I think all the fantasy books got my imagination going. I didn't look into publishing my writing until about 5 years ago.

I write because my head is full of stories, I need to get them out and I also enjoy sharing them with others J

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love starting a new story, coming up with characters and plots and twists, making new worlds. Endings can be a trial… the characters don't like me to stop writing about them.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I don't start out with an outline, but I make notes as I go along and as I near the end I'll have a page with notes of things that need to happen, loose ends to tie up etc. No daily routine, I write when I can find the time (usually after the kids go to bed)

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I'm rather partial to Sean Hayden (my fiancé <grins>) but really love to read indie and small press authors. There are a number of fantastic authors out there with amazing tales to share.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Inside J

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I find it makes for some interesting sentences when people don't use it.

7.What is your book Broken Aro about and how did it come to fruition?

Broken Aro (book 1 of The Broken Ones) is a YA fantasy, a bit epic and a bit dark, and with a little romance. It follows a young girl (Arowyn) whose city is attacked and she is captured by slavers. She goes on quite the journey, and makes a new family for herself. I loved writing this story as Aro is quite a strong female lead and though she goes through a lot of hardship, she keeps going, keeps fighting and doesn't lose hope. The book also puts a great deal of emphasis on the importance of family and friendship.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I'm currently working on book 3 in The Broken Ones and hoping to be finished soon!

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I'm actually not currently reading anything. Next on my to-read list is Warrior Everlasting by Wendy Knight. (Sadly I don't get a lot of time to read, and I've a very long to-read list)

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

I'm inspired by simple things, or strange things, common things for the most part. Music, the tune or lyrics often gets me thinking, or everyday conversations. My family and Sean are the most wonderful supporters, and Sean is always there to run ideas by or to brainstorm with if I get stuck.

My boys were especially helpful in coming up with wacky ideas for Tales of Ever, and are also harassing me to write more.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Thanks so very much for having me! J I love to hear from readers so invite everyone to stop by my facebook author page or drop me an email!

All of my books are on Amazon

And a select few are available everywhere.

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your book. Let us know when the next installment is ready.

Be sure to visit Jen on her various social media site, join her mailing list, and grab a copy of Broken Aro at the link below.

My website: www.jenwylie.com
Twitter: @jen_wylie

Broken Aro has 95 five-star reviews on Amazon. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

10 Questions with Thriller Novelist Douglas Wickard (@DouglasWickard)

This Author Spotlight


Douglas Wickard

author of

Douglas Wickard joins us for a third time in order to share his latest novel NOTHING SACRED. Douglas lives and writes in Los Angeles, California and is looking to adopt a Weimaraner and call him Blue.

1. How did you become a novelist?
How does one become a novelist? For me, the idea of writing was always lurking somewhere in the back of my head. I love words. I love reading. I enjoy creating characters. I began writing stories when I was a teenager, poems…journaling. It became a way of expressing my inner thoughts, my inner demons, perhaps. But, being a novelist is much different than becoming one. Becoming a novelist keeps a writer in a constant state of insecurity, always-seeking approval -- am I good enough? Will somebody like it? Will I be rejected? Being a novelist takes courage and a healthy dose of confidence. A sense of knowing. Moving past the ruffle of rejection and boldly claiming your space. For better or for worse.

2. How many books have you written to date?
I’ve published four. I’ve written 6.

3. What is your new novel you want to share, and what is it about?
My new novel is NOTHING SACRED. It is the prequel to ENCOUNTER and introduces Dan Hammer as a detective in Charleston, South Carolina working a case involving the disappearance of teenage girls. It also introduces FBI Agent Harry Wright.

4. What is your writing process, and how has it evolved since your first novel?
I write every morning. Since the publication of A PERFECT HUSBAND, my writing has become a wonderful, daily occurrence. I wouldn’t know how to start my day without it. It is as comforting to me as my first cup of coffee.

5. What do you know today about writing & publishing that you wish you’d known when you began?
I don’t think about it. I’m content to get up every day and do my work. That’s enough for me.

6. What advice would you offer to new and aspiring writers regarding writing, editing, publishing, etc., in order to help them succeed?
Success. Ahhh…what is your definition of that word? The answer will vary from one writer to another. Like any creative endeavor, it’s a crapshoot. I try to keep my expectations to a minimum. I concentrate on the work, not the outcome. Whatever happens, will happen. I feel blessed and grateful having found my passion, and being able to live it. Daily.

7. What marketing techniques have you found to be fruitful?
The world is a social media vortex. I market with Facebook and Twitter predominately. Goodreads is also great at promoting author’s work. Nothing beats good old word-of-mouth.

8. Where do you see the world of publishing going in the next five years?
Again, I don’t burden myself thinking about the publishing world.

9. What are you currently reading?
Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. Again. It is such an amazing, sensual piece.

10. What is your next literary project?
PERFECT. The Sami Saxton saga continues. It will be the third book in the series.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add, including where folks can buy NOTHING SACRED?
I am exclusively on Amazon. My books tend to push buttons, so readers shouldn’t expect cozy mysteries or restrained thrillers. My novels are character driven and I go where they tell me to go, whether I like it or not. Just saying…

Thank you, Ryan for this interview.

You're very welcome, Douglas. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on your success as a novelist. Keep up the good work and let us know when PERFECT is ready.

Click HERE to read Douglas's first interview about his novel A PERFECT HUSBAND.
Click HERE to read Douglas's second interview about his novel A PERFECT SETUP.

Be sure to pick up your copy of NOTHING SACRED at the link below:

Monday, June 9, 2014

10 Questions with Science Fiction Writer Roger Venk (@RogerVenk)

This Author Spotlight features New Zealand-based science fiction writer Roger Venk.

Roger is the author of the science fiction COPPERLAND trilogy, which includes CALLISTO (see above), COPPERLAND


As well as the forthcoming DISCIPLE 13.

1.How did you get into writing?
As a youth my Influencing literature was nineteenth century science fiction, HG Wells, Jules Verne. Novels such as The Time Machine and The Great Romance (New Zealand). Also the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Always told stories around the farm about space and aliens. So I thought I would write some of it down.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?
Personal fulfillment that I have written this story about faraway places in space or the distant future. I least like the editing and the grammar.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I write when I am inspired, I could write for days on end, or wait for a month.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Wells, Tolkien and King. An odd but interesting few. I admire what Rowling has achieved also.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I don’t use it.

7.What is your book CALLISTO about and how did it come to fruition?
Lying under the stars for nights on end on the farm in Matamata NZ, it became the beginning of the greater saga, never intended to be but a story that has been with me for 25 years. It’s about Michael Cameron searching for answers to an extraordinary power growing within him, but by chance finds himself hunted by a dangerous inhabitant from a race long hidden in our solar system.

8.What’s your current writing project?
Disciple 13

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?
Memoirs of Chris Hitchings

10.Who or what inspires your writing?
Film, astronomy and science.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
My books are available on Amazon kindle and Publishmeshop NZ.

Thanks, Roger. I'm looking forward to DISCIPLE 13.

Be sure to visit Roger's website: http://www.rogervenk.com

And follow him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/#!/RogerVenk

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

10 Questions with Military Thriller Writer Richard Peters (@OpEnduringUnity)

This Author Spotlight
Military Thriller Writer

Richard Peters

author of

Richard Peters is the author of the Operation Enduring Unity series and a variety of science fiction. He served from 2002-2007 in the US Army. Richard spent 27 months in two tours bringing peace at any price to the post-apocalyptic streets and mahalla's of Baghdad.

He currently lives with his wife and son in Germany and runs his own technical services business.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I guess pretty much like everyone else. Toyed with the idea for years but didn’t know where to start. When I turned 30 though, I realized my life was already a quarter over with. Time to buckle down and make it happen.

Why do I keep writing? No idea. Maybe it’s the addiction. If I go more than three days without my writing “fix,” I get serious withdrawal symptoms. Edgy, short-tempered, shaky… it’s worse than quitting smoking. I know it’s a disgusting habit, but I can’t stop!

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

The best part is surprising a reader. Either creating a unique idea or a great twist that the customer never sees coming. Harder than it sounds, since you have to balance believability and logical consistency with excitement, but incredibly rewarding when you pull it off.

The most difficult part is writing about sex. You can’t really immerse someone in a believable story without acknowledging the roles lust and desire play in real life. On the other hand, most readers are pretty polarized on how they want sexual themes portrayed. Either gritty and “graphic,” or tasteful and romantic. Not much of a middle ground. Trying to craft scenes in the middle just tends to annoy everyone!

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

Writing something every day, even if only a few notes, is crucial. Daily quotas are even better. Nowadays, most readers won’t tolerate long breaks between books before they move on to another favorite series. Three months between releases is already pushing your luck.

As for outlines, yes, everyone should make one. It’s the best method to get the bad ideas out of the way. Once you’re done with an outline, challenge yourself to beat it. Make things even more interesting. Whatever you do, it’s crucial that you arrive at the ending “naturally.” Not planned ahead of time. The end should surprise the author as much as the reader.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

Ralph Peters, Harold Coyle and Robert Heinlein. Authors that downplay the technology and are focused on how people deal with or influence the “big picture” war or social revolution.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Ha! Good one. From a puritanical grammar perspective, outside. However, we aren’t writing business reports. This is fiction. Entertainment, and most customers are more concerned with smooth story-telling flow than grammatical perfection.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Again, smooth style is king. It’s a fine line to walk, sure, but when in doubt, use whatever is least confusing. Whatever doesn’t pull the reader out of the story.

7.What is your book Power Games about and how did it come to fruition?

My Operation Enduring Unity series is a satire of American extremism running wild, which leads to a 2nd American Civil War. Originally, I just wanted to create a realistic military thriller. I was sick and tired of reading about spec-ops teams behind enemy lines. Looking for a total war tale covering the entire spectrum from the home front to combined arms operations in the field.

Eventually, in my obsession with believability, the history behind the war overtook the action part and became the story. I almost junked the whole project when I had veered so far from my planned action-adventure tale. Thankfully a few beta readers convinced me that I had created a story with more mass appeal and real social insight than just a fantasy war. That’s what they say, at any rate. I’ll always view it as just a somewhat funny war yarn.

8.What’s your current writing project?

Three going on side-by-side. Multiple projects at once is the best way to combat writer’s block. Finishing up the last book in the Second Civil War series, starting a new military-themed Sci-Fi series (which takes place around 50 years later in the same universe) and, don’t laugh, trying my hand at a serialized, post-apocalyptic erotic thriller- Surviving with Style.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

Tim Dorsey’s entire Serge Storms series. A master story teller. So much to learn from him. He’s got the perfect combination of snarky humor, gritty action and brilliant side-switching. 

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Definitely the challenge. This industry is about more than just pumping out quality work. You have to run a crafty eCommerce business. Hard as hell, but a lot of fun. There’s (theoretically) nothing holding you back from success. No financing concerns, regulatory burdens or dominating competition putting barriers in the way.

Every sale is a tease. Tempting you with how close you are to breakout success. What a job, huh?!

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I run a free book review blog catering to writers with a military background.
I welcome all fiction and non-fiction dealing with military affairs (everything from space marine sci-fi to serious studies of veteran issues), but first priority goes to those that served. I’m always pleased to read works from our allies as well. The warrior creed is an international club!

Thank you, Richard, for sharing your work with us. And thank you for your service. Be sure to let us know when the next installment is ready!

Be sure to visit Richard's website and social media outlets, and pick up a copy of POWER GAMES.

Should Authors Respond to Reviews of Their Books?

I was conversing today with writer friend Nicholas Rossis regarding book reviews and whether or not an author should reply to a reviewer.

Raymond Chandler had three rules: 

1. Never show or discuss a WiP, 

2. Never take advice, and 

3. Never answer a critic. So that's his take on it. 

I know a RomCom author named Elle Lothlorien whom I've interviewed on this blog and she is adamant about interacting with people on Amazon because in her mind it is simply good customer service. She views her writing as a publishing business and she wants to make certain her customers are happy. If a restaurant patron has a poor experience, the manager usually wants to hear about it in order to comp the meal or offer free desserts or something that enables the customers to come away feeling happy. Same with retailers. They want the opportunity to provide good customer service. 

Personally, I have never answered a reviewer on Amazon. I wrote a reply once, but then deleted it. If someone has a problem with a book's format or something goes awry with their purchase, that's one thing. If it's sloppy and full of typos, that's my problem. But if the story simply isn't to their taste, that's their problem. If I go to the movies with Taliya and the movie sucks the big one, we have no right to a refund. But if the projector takes a crap half way through or the sound cuts out and the presentation of the film sucks the big one, then we absolutely have a right to a refund or complimentary movie tickets, etc, because the theater didn't provide the service we paid for.

I've read a lot about this kind of thing, including the thoughts and reactions of those people who write reviews who then have the author reply. Some reviewers are very upset by the author defending their work. In their eyes, they are not a beta reader or an editor, etc. That time has passed. They are the end user and they are providing their feedback on the product in the hopes of helping others. They usually don't like it when the author butts in. This often makes them uncomfortable because now all of a sudden they're self conscious because the author is reading their reviews and waiting to argue. That's no good. The whole point of reviews is honesty. 

I have read some of Elle's experiences in which she responded in a kind and respectful manner and turned a critic into a huge fan. So that is one possibility if you do it correctly. That way you don't have someone out there running around bad-mouthing you and your books. Instead, you have someone out there running around telling all their friends how they conversed with you via Amazon and you were SUPER nice and sent them a free book and now they're your number-one fan a la Annie Wilkes, so don't go driving your old Mustang on a slippery snow-covered road in the mountains.

Finally, it's important to remember that negative reviews are a good thing. They legitimize the positive reviews. If a book has a couple hundred reviews and they're ALL 4- and 5-star reviews, something is rotten in Denmark, amigo. I saw a book like that just a few days ago. It was weird. Either it's an incredibly-good book, or something is up. No way can a book have, say, 150 reviews, and nothing below 4 stars. Out of ALL those people, somebody had to think it had SOMETHING wrong with it. Plus, when you read the 1- and 2-star reviews, you can determine quite easily if the person writing the review has any friggin' brains whatsoever. When I read reviews, both good and bad, the 1-stars often reference an ideology they felt the author was pushing, for example. In once case, the reviewer complained that it was somehow a weird mixture of environmentalism and right-wing politics. Those don't typically go together. So who knows. You can't please everyone. Nor should you try. My mantra is. "Write for yourself first." I write for myself and for Taliya. If we like the story, I figure others will like it, too. If not, oh well.

And like Joe Konrath says (and I'm paraphrasing), "Do NOT read your reviews. There is no point to doing so. Besides, you should be far, far too busy writing to have time to read your own reviews."

So, for your writers, do you respond to those who post reviews of your books?

And for you readers, how do you feel when an author responds or leaves a comment on your review?

I want to hear from you guys.

Okay, back to the new novel.