Thursday, April 17, 2014

Words With Perri Iezzoni

Today I am talking with author Perri Iezzoni as she tells us about the world of writing.  To learn more about her or her work check out on Amazon.
Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure

What have you been working on?
Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure

Are you self-published?  
Yes. I felt it necessary that my work should be made available because I wanted to share what I learned about tango, about homeopathy and about my fear of intimacy and how I overcame it.

Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?
I dance tango regularly and blog about my experiences afterward. Blogging is like psychoanalysis, especially if I put in the effort to construct a well-written essay. Almost always I find that my initial presumptions about everything are wrong. When I read and reread my work, I end up taking my original assumption and reversing it. It is from this process that I gain the most insight into myself, women and people in general.

What has been the most difficult aspect of writting?
Editing, proofreading and finding the time to do both effectively. Finding the right balance is something I've experimented with extensively. There is a critical period of time between the moment of inspiration and the actual process of putting words to the page that must be handled deftly. If an idea gets 'cold' then the editing process needs to be longer. When I am fresh from an new experience, I need to begin writing as soon as possible and restrain myself from spending too much time analyzing what I've done.

What has been the best part about being an author?
I discovered a great deal of satisfaction when I realized that my work was complete. It is as if God had commanded me to tell the citizens to repent and I couldn't rest until I got the word out. Having done it, I experienced a tremendous sense of relief.

What advice can you share with us?
Write to reveal your passions. As a writer, this is your purpose in Life. Your inspiration is part of a natural process to allow others to release their own passions by reading your words.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top Ten Bits of Advice for Indie Authors

I’ve been reading and researching Self-Publishing for over two years now.  Although that doesn’t make me the most knowledgeable person on the planet, I do feel like I’ve come across some gems of wisdom on how to put together and launch successful Indie book.  So here is a top ten list of helpful hints.
1. Choose very specific genre tags.  There are tens of thousands of Romances out there.  There are only a few hundred paranormal/time-travel/suspense/mystery/romance novels.  The more specific the tag, the greater your chance of climbing the Bestseller lists, which increases your visibility and sales. 

2. Do a cover reveal at least 6 weeks prior to your release. This builds interest in your book before you publish it. 

3. List your book with Goodreads when you do a cover reveal so that readers can put your book on their “To Read” list prior to its release.
4. Study books in your books genre to make sure your cover reflects that genre.

5. Make sure your blurb is exciting and enticing. Ask others to proof it and give you feedback.

6.  At the end of your book, make sure the first thing your readers see is a review request and information on how they can connect with you via social media.
7. Set up a mailing list and provide incentive for readers to join.

8. Be flexible with pricing.  Drop your price for sales and promotions or perhaps for the first book in the series.

9.  Get and use Beta Readers to put out the best book you can.
10.  Writing is more important than marketing.  Yes, you need to devote some time and effort to selling your book, but you need to constantly be writing the next book.  The more books you’ve written, the more opportunities readers have of discovering your work.

So there are my Top Ten Tips for Indie Authors.  
Do you have any tips to share? 
Please let us know!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Words With Ellen Mansoor Collier

Today I am talking with author Ellen Mansoor Collier as she tells us about the world of writing and reveals the cover to her newest book.  To learn more about her or her work check her Website, or find her on Goodreads.

What have you been working on?
I just finished 
the last novel in my trilogy of 1920s Jazz Age mysteries set in Galveston, Texas. In each novel, I cover a different vice rampant in Galveston during Prohibition: alcohol, prostitution and now gambling. I've heated up the romance, added some twists and turns and some new characters so I hope readers will enjoy it. Whether or not I continue the series depends on several factors.
Are you self-published?  
Yes. I wasted too much time querying agents during the worst economy, who ended up telling me: “The 1920s don’t sell” and “New Adult isn’t a category.” Now that I see all these Roaring Twenties and NA books on the market, I think we proved they were wrong—or at least short-sightedI have a magazine journalism background, and worked as a magazine editor/writer and also in marketing/public relations, so I thought I’d try it out. I like being in control and making my own decisions re: cover, fonts, price, marketing, etc.

Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?
Your book was great and the Writer's Digest magazine/blogs are also helpful. Mainly I've learning by jumping in and doing it myself--the hard way.
What has been the most difficult aspect of writting?
I only sit down and write when I'm inspired and have ideas, but making time to write and avoiding distractions is difficult. I live in a big city and it often takes all day just to get a few errands done--plus the noise level can be disruptive. Finding a good editor and beta readers you trust and who get your work can also be challenging.

What has been the best part about being an author?
I've made some nice writer friends and gotten lots of positive feedback from readers. The worst part is reading bad reviews or getting low ratings, especially when you suspect that person is a troll who never read your book.
Ellen Mansoor Collier
What advice can you share with us?
Though I've been pleased with Createspeace, I've gotten very negative reactions from Barnes & Noble and indie bookstores who somehow think Amazon is driving them out of business. They don't seem to realize that Createspace is mainly a printer, not a publisher. I'd recommend using Lightning Source/Ingram Spark if you're serious about getting into bookstores.
Be sure to give your books away for free to influential people who can spread the word and bloggers who are willing to review your book.
Set deadlines for yourself or you may never get your book finished.
Also I never force myself to write because if I do, it often comes out as drivel. Let your ideas percolate while you do other things.
For writers, it’s important to stay active---move around and take breaks.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why Series Work

As I am about to release my very first sequel, I'd like to take a moment to talk about why I've written a sequel in the first place.  Why not just write lots of stand alone novels?

When I started to write Land of the Unaltered, I had every intention of writing it as a trilogy.  The move was quite intentional and in response to the overwhelming advice out there for new and emerging writers.  Evey bit of advice I came across told me to write a series. And here is why:
1. People love a sequel.  Take a look at the top box office earning movies last year.  The majority are sequels or part of some kind of series.  Why? When people connect with and invest in characters, they want to see them again.  The Avengers is a classic example.  This is a movie chalked full of characters people already love.  Iron Man has had three films on his own, Captian America and Thor each have two films on their own.  Even Agent Colson has a spin off TV show.  Again, people like to see their favorite characters again and again. 

2. People want loose ends tied up.  If you really have a plan, end a book on a cliffhanger, or at least with some major unanswered questions.  If a book ends that way, and the author has done their job well, readers will want to get their hands on the next installment.  I adore the I Am Number Four series and sure enough, each and every book ends with a crazy cliffhanger that leaves me chomping at the bit for the next book.  I even pre-order them! So yes, a series is a great way to bring your readers in for the long haul.

3. They offer some real writing perks. As an author, you have already invested time and energy creating a world fill with characters.  That time is an investment if you can continue to build that world in the next book instead of starting fresh.  Think about the Songs of Fire and Ice series.  It has, literally, hundreds of characters, many of which have lasting legacies.

4. They help build readership that will pay off in the long run.  Long after you have completed the series, readers will discover the first book, and then delight when they find out there are two or three or ten more books in the series to read!  I know I did when I discovered the fantastic Agency Series by Y.S. Lee.  I read the first, then immediately bought the rest of the books.  Also with a series, if you've self-published, you can sell the first book for a reduced price or even give it away to encourage readers to give it a shot.
So yes, I had a plan in mind when I sat down to write The Confederation Chronicles.  Who knows, I might write a stand alone a some point, but right know I am having way too much fun planning these series.  
So where do you weigh in?  
Let us know!

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Worst Rookie Mistakes

Two and a half years into my Indie Journey, I'm taking stock on what I've done so far. Not to pat myself on the back, but to take an honest look at what I've done wrong.  Who knows, maybe my prior mistakes could help you on your Indie Journey.  
So here is a list of my Top 5 Rookie Mistakes.
1. Launching a book, then developing an Author's platform.  I wrote a book, published it, then thought about marketing it.  I now recognize this as a classic rookie mistake.  If I could, I would have spent some time while writing my first book to establish relationships and make connections.  I'm sure it would have given me a much stronger launch and a clearer idea as to a marketing plan.  The proof is in the pudding.  Each book I release has a stronger launch with better sales than the previous.

2. Not having a Beta Reader for my first book.  I absolutely adore my beta readers.  They have made my last three books shine, pointed out obvious errors and asked me all the right questions. 98% of the time, I whole-heartedly agree with what they have to say and I have written better books because of them.  I only wish I had had more than one beta read my first book, The Inadvertent Thief.  The feedback I have goten in some reviews has told me I could have mede some simple changes for a better book.
3. Not using royalty free images for my first cover.  I did my first cover with a free image from Flikr that the photographer let me use.  I loved the image, but alas, it did not look as professional as it could have.  With just a few dollars spent (and I'm talking under $10), I could have gotten a professional, royalty free image.  I have since changed the image and with some basic Photoshop work to insert the title and byline, I am much happier with the results.  What do you think?

The Inadvertent Thief
  4. Not using an online editor. Everyone says you need an editor.  I refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on one. Unfortunately, I discovered a little too late my serious issues with Homonyms.  I know call them my Nemesis!  The good news is that I love to use Grammarly. It does some fabulous grammar checking that is far and above anything Word can do is is pretty affordable, considering how often I use it.  
5. Wasting time on non-essential marketing.  There are so many gimmicks and tricks out there and people who want to sell you their "fool-proof" book marketing strategy.  I wasted time (not money) on a few of those myself.  Now I spend my time in this order:
 1-Writing/working on my next book, 
 3-Reading and reviewing books in genres similar to mine and 
4-Establishing and maintaining connections with people in the industry.  

That is it.  That is all I am willing to spend my time on.  I have no time or patience for the little gimmicks and tricks that waste time I should be spending on writing my next book.

I sincerely hope my mistakes make your experience just a little easier.  Have you made some mistakes you wish you hadn't?  Please share!  We promise not to judge.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Words With DW Carver

Today I am talking with author D.W. Carver as he tells us about the world of writing.  To learn more about him or his work check out on his website.
Displaying NightmaresAndOtherTherapy_150dpi_eBook.jpg

What have you been working on?
'Nightmares and Other Therapy' is a book I have been working on for years. It details a young man's mental problems and the help and hindrance he encounters trying to resolve them. It is also a love story. His seventeen year-old girlfriend is yet another of my feisty 'in your face' female characters who never gives up.

What genre do you write and why?
I write mystery thrillers I suppose. My stories are about suffering people and how they cope - not as dreary as it sounds. The suffering comes in many forms and there is a lot of fighting back against adversity.
I was a mental health community counsellor for many years and triumphs against the odds were part of my experience.

What is your process?
I start with only the broadest idea of what the story will involve. I often find my characters reacting in a way that I hadn't anticipated when I started the chapter and tend to go with what feels 'right.' Once I start to write I tend to keep going and have to tell myself to stop or let a thundering heradache give me the hint. If a story is going well I can usually complete 80,000 words in about three months.

What do you think is the hardest part about being an author?
There is very little money in it unless one is in the top five hundred or so, in which case what feels like an absolute need usually has to be assigned the role of hobby while one works at something else to pay the bills..

What is the best advice you've come across?
Accept that a story will never be perfect; that one abandons it rather than completes the perfect edit.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Love Beta Readers!

Beta Readers can take a good story and make it great. The are essential to the success of many an author. I have been fortunate to have some really great experiances with my Beta Readers. But how do you find one and then once you do, what next? Here are a few tips to help make your Beta Reader experience a rewarding one.
1. Make use of message boards.  I like to post requests for Beta Readers on appropriate message boards like Goodreads and World Literary Cafe.  Make sure you are posting in the right place, follow the message board rules and be sure to leave a way for potential readers to get back to you.

2. Be genre specific in your request. Be sure to describe your book in detail and let your potential readers know what your book is about and exactly what genre it encompasses.  The last thing you want is someone reading your book who doesn’t appreciate your genre.  The advice will not be as helpful as it could be.
3. Give your Beta Readers some guidelines. After you have made contact, let them know what you need.  It could be feedback on character development, plot flow, grammar issues, ect.  Here is the list of questions I always ask.

 Did you like it?  Why or why not?  What parts in particular did you enjoy?  Were there parts that did not make sense?  Parts that did not seem to fit?  Parts that confused you?  Parts that bored you?  Was the plot easy to follow?  Are there any loose ends that needed to be tied?  Did you like the characters?  Why or why not?  Could you picture them in your head?  Could you hear what they sound like?  Are there any parts or characters you think should be cut?  What would you change?

4. Be polite about the feedback you receive.  Don’t take offense.  Listen to what your Beta Reader has to say.  If more than one is saying the same thing, really listen.  You don’t have to do everything they say, but take it into consideration.  Say thank you and perhaps you can ask your Beta Reader to provide a review when you actually publish.
Want some more information?  Check out the How To Self-Publish tab or the chapter on rewriting in my book, How To Self-Publish: A DIY Approach.  If you have more tips on how to get the most out of a Beta Reader, please share!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Words With Lori Foroozandeh

Today I am talking with author Lori Foroozandeh as she tells us about the world of writing.  To learn more about her or her work, check out her Website, Blog, at Amazon, Bizcard, Publush, Facebook or Twitter. Don't miss her on The Discovery Chanel and Youtube.
Lori's Song: The True Story of an American Woman Held Captive in Iran
What have you been working on?
I'm not working on anything...yet! I have written my true story of being held captive in a POW camp in IRAN the day after 911. This book also deals with childhood sexual abuse, living with bipolar, my lifelong struggle with substance abuse, PTSD etal....if I haven't mentioned a disorder it's because I forgot because my life encompasses them all! :) :)

I also want to add that my profits from the book go to Amnesty International, Humane Society, Drug rehab hospital in Brighton, and Henry Ford Hospital (where they've dealt with my traumatic brain injuries and counseling from incidents in the camp).

Are you self-published?

Yes. Because I was impatient and didn't want to wait on a publishing house to accept my book (not that any of them would). I had the money and went with a reputable publishing company i.e. Outskirts Press.

Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?

Yes my therapist. Without her I wouldn't have any resources to help me deal with my PTSD after my horrific experience. As far as inspiration and know-how, I go to all my fellow writers who share daily something of value that you can learn from. I've gotten to know so many authors that have changed my way of thinking of people online. They are caring, helpful and will go out of their way to help you on anything they are able to.

What has been the most difficult aspect of writting?

Proof-reading. My story was very emotional and horrific incidences happened, so once I wrote it down on paper I didn't want to go back and proof read it. When I wrote, it was a purging of my heart and soul of all the litter that abounded in my mind. So I had my literary agent i.e Tina Foster and my fiancé go back and proof read the chapters once I was finished.
I also have a lot of problems with punctuation and run on sentences if you know what I mean :)

What has been the best part about being an author?

Meeting all the different authors and getting to know their specialties and what they've learned as well as what I've learned from them. Authors are a very special breed of people, and I think they are the most helpful group of people I've ever met online and off.

What advice can you share with us?

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. If it feels uncomfortable and you don't feel right about something then don't do it. Your conscience is your best guide, not only in writing but for EVERYTHING!