Where Does Inspiration Come From?

If you are a writer, you've probably battled a time or two with acquiring just the right inspiration for a story. But it was just that dilema that led me to start off OBSIDIAN with a bang.

Let me tell you a fairytale...
Once apon a time, so very long ago, a writer (Me) decided that she wanted to write a mystery, but she was in need of a place to start her story. She'd already decided that she wanted to write a mystery with a Coast Guard officer. This was really important to her since her dad served on Lightships. But she needed a place to start and she was having a problem coming up with ideas.

Enter, the writer's husband, who decided one day that it was okay if his boss put his 24 foot Bayliner in their side yard with a For Sale sign on it without asking his wife.
   "It will only be here a couple weeks," he said, not really thinking it was a big deal. The wife shook her head and consented (reluctantly).

A month later, the boat was still in her side yard and hubby was not answering questions as to the actual time the boat would remain.
   "That boat is worth more than all three of our cars," the wife said with a shake of her head. The stress of having such an expensive play toy in her yard was wearing her nerves thin. It was gaining a lot of attention, some of it unwanted and mostly by strangers.
   "It will be out of here soon," the husband responded.

Two more weeks went by and the boat was still there and the wife's nerves were now at the end of their mooring line.
   "I want it gone," she demanded. But the husband didn't want to tell his boss to get it out of the yard. So, there it stayed.

The wife, being a storyteller by trade, decided to take out her aggressions on the computer generated page. She promptly blew up the boat (fictionally, of course) and felt MUCH better. But the boat was still there.

And then, Fate decided to have a hand in the situation. One day, while the couple was at work, theives stole the VERY expensive outboard motor off the boat. The wife refrained from say "I told you so", but was very happy when the owner came and finally removed the boat from her yard.

Ultimately, the writer (Me) channelled her frustrations into a great opening scene. This scene became the beginning of her very first published novel.

The boat... never came back (thankfully), but you can read all about it in OBSIDIAN....



Happy Release Day to me!


I've waited a long time for OBSIDIAN to find a home on the ebook shelves! Today is the day!



Tune in tomorrow for the real story behind the opening scene!




Covers! Ugh!


Covers. They are the bane of my existence, but without a good one you truly can't do much with a book. It sounds trivial to say, but it's that two seconds of recognition that initially pull in a possible reader. Especially, since the invention of the ebook. There is no more of browsing the local bookstore to read back copy or check out the latest release rack. We lost our only big chain bookstore within a 20 or so mile radius. We still have small bookstores that are great, but more and more I see people carrying around their Kindles, Nooks, Sony, etc. We've become the instant society, and as such, that means those 2 seconds are crucial to grabbing a reader.

This was the original book cover for OBSIDIAN when it was released from Five Star.


The cover Gods were nice to me and didn't put a goat cat or strangely awkward people on the cover. I was very thankful. This time around I needed a new cover. And while I loved the original cover (orange is my favorite color) the rights to it are still owned by Five Star. Now I had to come up with a whole new thing. The problem was that I have no extra money with which to hire someone or to buy a pre-made cover. Besides that, I wanted a cover that would convey what I wanted for the book, not what was someone else's interpretation.

Enter Gimp. Gimp is a free online graphics program that you can use to manipulate pictures. You can Google it. Once I figured out the size I wanted (Amazon suggests a cover that is 1275x1650). Size is important with cover because your image will come across as a thumbnail and you want to have something that will stand out, be readable and convey the right image.



I was lucky that I had an image that would work for the story. In this case, the picture was taken at Land's End, Bailey's Island, Maine. It was close to what I wanted, but I still had change it some to give it a title and a new look. I layer a filter over it that darkened the edges, making the sharpness of the rocks stand out. I also lightened the filter in the center until it drew the eye inward to the picture. I made the title as big as I could without making it look clumpy and the same with my name. I picked fonts that were classic and easy to read when they are shrunk down. I think one of the biggest problems that people have is that they get carried away with fonts and then it just becomes unrealistic.

Before you post it to Amazon it is important that the image is compressed into a single image (basically, this is sandwiching the layers together to make 1 image) and then I save it as a .jpg file.

If this sounds like a lot, then I'd suggest that you have someone do it for you. I've used programs like FrontPage and others when I worked for a publisher. But if this intimidates you I'd see if maybe you can swap jobs with someone. Editing for a cover or such. Or find a good cover designer like Sabrina Foreman. She did my cover for Three Truths and I was very happy with it.



Yeah!

It's Official! OBSIDIAN will be released TUESDAY (NOT Wednesday), December 18th on Amazon as an ebook!

This is where I've been for the last month, editing OBSIDIAN and getting it ready for publication as an ebook. It was originally published in 2007 as a hardcover from Five Star and later in large print edition. In case you aren't familiar with Five Star they are a Maine publisher that deals mostly in the library market. I was lucky to get in at toward the end of their romance line. They've since discontinued it. But I am glad that this book will gain a new life and hopefully new readers, and just in time for Christmas!





How's NaNoRiMo Going, You ask? Look at this--------------->

Well as you can see by the meter in my side bar, it's safe to say that NaNoRiMo is NOT going anywhere for me. I could give you all kinds of excuses as to why I'm not writing much, but frankly it comes down to letting stress interfere with my writing.

Anyone out there got an Amen for me?

When it's going good, it's great! When it's going bad... it sucks! Unfortunately, this has been a year where I have struggled to write more than other years. It's become hard to put the words on the page and it has more to do with my stress level than with anything else.

We all have stress, but for some this means that your mind and body shut down, especially if there is major worry involved. Our brains go into a survival mode and we function on on-dimensional level. This isn't good if you are trying to create stories out of your imagination. This is the holidays. Many writers have a hard time trying to fit in their writing around family committments and the multitude of other things that draw your attention away.

For me, I need to make a renewed commitment to the Nano project. It's a good one and it isn't the content that's holding me back. It's complete and utter worry that has stagnated me. I'm hoping that this week will change that I can get the household back on an even keel. I've still got 20 days to pull my butt out of the fire and get the pages done. I've done more, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make it. I'll just set another goal.

To those of you toiling away on your NaNoRiMo goals I have only the best wishes for you! I hope you accomplish and even exceed all the goals you've set. I'll be cheering you on.

Best wishes to all,



Reality of Being a Writer (Author): Part 2

Not long ago I posted on an article that Jessica Jewett wrote about the Reality of Being a Writer where I address the myth that writers make a ton of money and live in mansions and travel to exotic places and... well, you get the idea. But the reality is that I have yet to meet more than 2 or 3 writers who can afford this kind of lifestyle.

Another reality is that being a writer and being an Writer (note: the title case), especially one that is published, are two very different animals.
But I wrote a book? I'm a writer! I used to think that there was no difference between claimed the title of "Writer" or "Author" when you are writing and actually having a book published. I hated the distinction of "Pre-Pubbed" or "Aspiring" and frankly thought that those pegging me with the titles could just go away. Permanently. However, I was unpublished, at the time. Now, when I look at it I find that the distinction isn't really between writing and being published. The distinction is really between writing sporadically with hope for publication and actively working toward a goal of publication... again, again, and again. And, the reality is that once you are published this widening distance doesn't diminish, especially in light of the tightening traditional markets and the boom of the Indie Pubbing trend.

I've published three books and written twice as many. I actively seek publication from the traditional publishers and I actively publish as an Indie Pubber. The IRS has qualifications for claiming it on your taxes. They want to be sure that you are actively pursuing your work. So, why shouldn't we demand the same from ourselves. I didn't start claiming taxes on my writing until I published OBSIDIAN and THREE TRUTHS. I believe the IRS says that you should go no more than three years without an income from your pursuit. (it may be 5 years. I'm trying not to focus on taxes at the moment.) They will also allow you to continue if you can prove that this is a day to day endeavor. You've done the professional thing and kept records and logs and rejection letters (yes, those count since they prove dedication to publishing). But the thing is that I went over 12 years without a sale. 12 years. That's a long time, even when it's not dog years.

I know that there are a few people who may not like what I'm saying. It really comes down to intention. Even before publication there is a vast horizon filled with people who are a differing stages of their writing career and dedication. The reality is that I've been around this profession for 18 years and I've seen just as many who are actively working toward publication as I've seen those who write because they like the idea of being a writer.

I'll give you another example that isn't writing related, but it does speak to what I'm trying to say. A few years back I was approached about being involved with the local Ghost Hunting group, Maine Ghost Hunters. I really wanted to do this, but I had reservations about whether I could give it a full measure of commitment. After all, I was already working a full time job, writing and had a child that was soon to be graduating. I joined because I wanted to be a part of it, but I also joined knowing that if the time came and I was unable to give it all I had then I needed to step away. I was heartbroken when that time came, but I needed to step away. I couldn't keep up the pace or the commitment and it wasn't fair to those around me. I still miss it, but that's reality.

There are some who will whole-heartedly disagree with me. I wouldn't have liked my stand any better just 10 years ago. But I can also see it from the perspective I'm at currently. I'm not a NYT author. I'm not a even a top 100 writer. But I am a "Writer" actively pursuing my writing.

In the end, you can join every group out there. You can go to every conference and workshop and even write a book, but just how committed to the goal of being a "Writer" are you?



Coming in November to eBook! OBSIDIAN


OBSIDIAN


"OBSIDIAN is a terrific combination of romance and suspense. Teagan Oliver knows how to keep her readers turning the pages!" -- Tess Gerritsen, author of LAST TO DIE: A RIZZOLI AND ISLES NOVEL

"Tangled mystery and touching romance--it doesn't get any better than OBSIDIAN. I couldn't put it down." -- Susan Vaughan, author of PRIMAL OBSESSION.


When a boat explosion kills his best friend, U.S.Coast Guard Officer Jamie Rivard is lured into investigating the connection between his death and an undercover smuggling operation off the coast Maine. But going back to Maine means coming to terms with his brother's death while guarding his heart from a beautiful widow with troubles of her own.

Shelby Teague knows the risks of making a living from the ocean. When her brother disappears while diving, Shelby must overcome her fears and trust in a stranger with a few secrets of his own in order to get her brother back.

Together, Shelby and Jamie must race against a coming storm as they begin to realize that no matter how far or fast you run from your past, you can never outrun your heart.





If It's November, I Must Be Crazy...


I really had no intention of jumping on board this ship. The NaNoWriMo is a month long challenge that involves 30 days of writing, a goal of 50,000 words and over 300,000 writers from all over who are crazy enough to join in.

The idea is really very simple. Get the words on the page. No matter how you do it, get them down. No editing. No revising. Just put your butt in the chair and write. Sounds scary, but if you break it down it's only about 7 pages a day. There is also the idea that in order for form a commitment to making something a habit you need to practice it continually for 20(or something) days. I remember that from a lecture I went to once, but the idea rang true. Want to make something stick. Do it every day. Of course, that would be why the diet and the exercise have been spotty at best. But the writing? That's the one thing I always come back to. In fact, without writing it can feel akin to not being able to breathe. I need it.

So, for a month you will be seeing me making periodic updates on my progress. I'm working on a totally new project (something they encourage). This is a gaslight steampunk set in an alternate history New York City and contains some interesting characters that have been bugging me to write their stories. There are also a few more notable or recognizable names that just might show up for the ride. I love me some good history and the more strange the better. Definitely plan on adding some of that into the mix. The working title is Unwilling Allegiance and I'll post below the short blurb I wrote for the project. Let me know what you think.

When a iron clad warrior washes up on the shores of the Independent New York, Trevor McFane knows that even the iron fortress walls separating the city can't hold back the war going on in the fallen colonies beyond the waters. Not even the unsteady allegiance with a overbearing, manipulative Russian bear of a man named Stroiigard can assure that he will be safe. Already the members of the Tinker Society are disappearing and the only link he can find is to an elusive psychic holding court at Barnum's Museum. But he isn't the only one looking for Madam Petrov. India James, with her shock of white hair and widows garb is as unusual as the other participants, but her wealth of knowledge and astute accuracy with weaponry make her an unlikely partner. India is in search of a legend, the fable key to the Crystal City and she isn't about to let some overbearing, suit, no matter how intelligent he is, get in the way of finding the artifact that will release her parent's souls.

Joining the masses who will be taking the NaNoWriMo Challenge? Post me a message and let me know how you are faring and what your project will be. I'd love to buddy up and help cheer us all on to victory.


In case you hadn't noticed, there's a new page on my blog called Olive U. Actually, if you go to any of my sites or blogs you will find the same information and the same story. The page is all about Information, Compassion, Understanding and Caring. All the things that were important to the namesake of this page. After all, we all need something to stand for... this is what I stand for and I hope you will too!



Of Ghosts and Other Things

It's October, and as such, most find that they are inundated with ghosties, goulies and all kinds of paranormal wanderings as we lead up to Halloween. It always amazes me how many people suddenly find the idea of the paranormal and spirits to be more accepting when we come to this time of year, as if the holiday itself gives them permission to look into a lesser viewed side of our existence.

When I set out to write Three Truths I didn't set out with the idea of including the spirit of Simon's wife. But she became and integral part of the story, another match maker of sorts, for the beleaguered couple. I didn't realize until the story was done how much my own belief system had somehow transplanted into the storyline. They do tell us to write what we know. And, in this case, I know a thing or two about spirits.

I can't even begin to tell you when this fascination with spirits began. From the beginning I was picking out books from the library involving ghosts and otherworldly beings. Stories of hauntings never scared me, only served to imbibe with compassion of those who may be trapped by circumstances or beliefs and, even, a strong sense of history with a respect for the past. But still, this doesn't explain how the shy little girl from a small Maine fishing community ended up wandering through darkened buildings in the dead of night looking for something that would terrify most people. It also gave little warning of the personal journey that the experiences took me on and how it would change my life and my own belief system.

At first, I thought it was the history that got me. I hate vague inaccuracies and the more I researched the paranormal locations in Maine, the more irritated I became by the copy and paste mentality that I found on multiple sites. The same information was dredged up time and again with respect for the legend, location or the accuracy involved. I was just this that I lamented on a local Ghost Hunter message boards and it was this drive that had me attending one of their meet ups. After talking with them I joined their group and spent a very interesting year travelling the state and investigating a number of locations. It was one of the busiest and also the most interesting experiences I ever had. As a child who loved to look through the windows of houses and imagine the activity within, being a ghost hunter took me inside the walls. I found myself exposed to all sorts of emotions, actions and, even, inactions (as some places did not live up to the expectations), but throughout it all I began to realize that this was something I was supposed to be involved in because it continued my journey into discovering that I had another side to me as a spirit intuitive.

Bah, a spirit intuitive... a bunch of mumbo jumbo most would say. My husband was one of those that had no belief in the paranormal... at the beginning. To this day he poo-poos those that claim abilities, even when I point out that his wife is among those with the ability to communicate with spirits. I'm not a medium. I can't do this at will, only be receptive when they come to me. I can't carry on a conversation with them, but I can hear some of them, and I can see some and only sense others. It's randomness and that randomness only leads to doubts among the skeptical. I can only appreciate their skepticism, I'm a card carrying member myself, and tell them what I've experienced. They have to experience it for themselves in order to truly believe.

When I started writing Stealing Darkness I only knew that Minn Sterling was a woman with a psychic ability that she could not control, nor deny. She had watched her mother struggle with her own abilities and it had driven her to her end. Minn lived with the fear of losing her mind and that was what keeps her from getting close to anyone, including the one man who loves her the most.

The idea that this is not a gift, but a calling is not new. As many people as there are that tout their "gifts" to the world, there are just as many who go about quietly and try to help as they can. Most aren't stopping people in the grocery store line and many will never offer up tales of being chased up a stairway by an unseen entity. But that doesn't mean they aren't out there. Because we are. On the rare occasion I talk about my interactions with spirits I'm quick to point out that manyof them come to me for help. I try to do my best to help them, but often it's just a need to be heard. The obvious deterant to this would be to hear them while they are alive so they don't have to carry it with them after. Compassion in life as in death is the key. We'd all do a little better with compassion.



The Reality of Being an Author

When you tell people that you've published a book they automatically seem to think that you are success and have enough money to make the Megabucks seems like a piddly amount. The reality is much different for authors. I've been both traditionally and Independently published and I can tell you that neither one of them is a cakewalk. The upside is that we are doing something we love (or hate. It's a two-sided coin.).

Author Jessica Jewett has posted a great article talking about the reality of being a Bestselling Author. She gleaned much of the information from another blog post, but it's well worth the read. Check it out.

Jessica Jewett; The Reality of Being an Author


New to the Toolbox

I've added something new to my Author Toolbox and to my Associations. I've joined Sisters in Crime. What is that? It's a national writer organization that focuses on women crime writers. This is big. This is VERY big. The way I look at is that the more you align yourself with people who have similar goals, the more likely you are to succeed. That's why I've been a member of RWA for so many years. I've always been adamant about gathering resources and this is yet another great resource.

In Stephen King's book, On Writing, he talks about gathering your toolbox of items that you'll need to succeed. Into that box you put all the things that will aid in the road to publication. I've been published, but that doesn't mean that I stop now. In fact, the need to keep expanding your toolbox grows along with your career. Makes sense doesn't it. It also makes sense that as your career path changes, so does the need for the things in your toolbox. If something doesn't work now, that doesn't necessarily mean that it won't work at a later date. It's like those scenes that don't work for your current work-in-progress, but you go on to cannibalize it for another book. Most of us have done this at one point or another.

So, this is my latest step in my career. I'm actually very excited about it. It's a positive step and I hope to learn from the masters that populate such a fantastic organization. I'll keep you all apprised.



Rejection, Rinse, Repeat...

Odd title, I know, but frankly I'm in the kind of mood. Quirkey, resigned, somewhat off balance, none of these are new reactions for me. But then, I'm no stranger to rejection. This week I recieved a rejection from a well known house that allows submissions of previously published work. I'd submitte it back in August and had no hopes of hearing anything on it until October. So imagine my surprise when I opened my email on one of my truly yucky days this week and found an "R" email.

After comisserating with my friends I feel a bit better. The book is good. I can publish it myself. But I was hoping to find an expanded audience for it that I'm not sure I can get through Indie Pubbing. My friend Diane made the comment that "Instead of hurting less, it seems rejections wound us more", as we progress through the years. It's tough. No one wants their baby to be turned down, especially when it's already found a good home once. It's kind of like an animal being that been returned to the shelter and has to start looking for a good home and someone to love them all over again.

So, after a few days it doesn't smart as well. They didn't take the time to tell me it was horrible and to never send anything to darken their door again. In fact, the email suggests that something else may suit their needs later. But it's still rejection and now I am facing the difficult decision over which direction to turn. The way I see it I've got two options.

1. Try to submit to a house that is more mystery oriented and less romance oriented. But most of the big houses require an agent.
2. Indie pub it myself... and there is another option...
3. Indie pub it and make it a series. I've had a mind to do this for quite some time. There is another book that could easily become the next in the series. But do I really want to go there?

We shall see. I'll keep you all posted. I'm sure you're all on the edges of your seat to see what I'm going to do. But I think I'll chose to look at this as just another opportunity. After all, I'm an optimist at best.



Indie Pubbing: So... Let's Talk Pricing... Again

I can't tell you how many discussions I've been involved in that have to do with pricing your own work for sale. Think about it... you've labored for hours over this baby. You've sweat blood and tears over this work. Now,  you've got to put it at a price that will not only be fair to you, but won't turn readers away. How hard is that?

There are tons of writers out there all trying to gauge pricing and how to maneuver for the best sales. But none of us truly can say what will work and what won't. I've done the KDP select route and I've done the free days and frankly, all it did for me was kill of potential sales. I may have gained a reader, but they've already bought my book. Now what?

Okay, so a lot of this has to do with the fact that without additional inventory to give to readers you really have very little play room with setting prices. But that doesn't mean that you should in any way undercut the value of your work. You spent the hours writing and editing. You've either purchased, or spent the time to create a catchy cover to attract the readers. You've done promotion. You've done it all. Are you undervaluing your work.

I get it. Without readers it really doesn't mean anything. You could put it at hundreds of dollars or nothing and it would have the same effect. (I'd like to try the $100 option, just for the kick of it). But now that some of the bright, shiny newness of indie pubbing is wearing off we have to take a serious look at what is going to work long term.

Let's use Three Truths as an example. This work is a roughly 50,000 words. It's the size of a contemporary category fiction from one of the large pubbing houses. If it went out from them they'd charge about $4.99 ($3.99 if you buy off their site) for an ebook version. I had my book, which was originally intended for the same market, at a price point of $1.99. Sounds like a good deal, huh? But is a potential reader going to look at the price and think that the book can't be good because it isn't priced higher? I've got a friend who consumes ebooks voraciously. She tells me that paying $3.99 for a book or higher doesn't bother her because she knows that she's getting something good for her money. She looks at the price as a value indication. So why don't we as writers and indie pubbers look at it the same way?

My dear, dear friend Nina Pierce, who has graciously guided me and talked me off more than one ledge at a time or two, goes by the Taco Pricing when looking at pricing her work. (By the way, her work is amazing!)

 $0.99 (1 Taco) ? Books less 10,000 words
$1.99 (2 Tacos) ? Books 10,001 to 20,000 words
$2.99 (3 Tacos) ? Books 20,001 to 50,000 words
$3.99 (4 Tacos) ? Books 50,001 to 75,000 words
$4.99 (5 Tacos) ? Books 75,001 to 100,000 words
$5.99 (6 Tacos) ? Books 100,001 words to ???
I'm 99% sure she got this from someone else, but the idea is the same. It's a comparison of tacos to books. How many tacos are you getting for your dollars?

Guess what? I adjusted my prices. I may not be selling much, but I don't want to undervalue my work. That doesn't mean that I won't occasionally be doing deals (hint... hint), but it does mean that I pride myself on my work and I know that it can stand on it's own.

What's your take on pricing?



When Did it Become Fall?

I've been busy. Daughter is now back at college and son is back at school and things should be settling down around here, but they aren't. I love my kids, but I've have also always loved the time when they went back to school (my apologies to the teachers who also have to go back). Somehow, when the dust settles it easier to get my thoughts back in line and think about all the things that need to be done before the upcoming holidays. But this year I'm distracted.

Not only am I getting lots of new things up in my Etsy Shop (shameless self promotion inserted here), but I'm editing a book that I wrote some time ago and that has my mind going in a thousand different directions. Last week, one of my most favorite cities was again in danger. I was in New Orleans in the pre-Katrina era, certainly not long before. I'd love to say that the city won't be forever divided in history as pre and post Katrina, but it would seem that the impact is monumental. For me, the story I wrote was based on the city I saw pre-Katrina. Now, I'm charged with going back and rewriting the history I wrote to include a much changed city. One I can only imagine.

In my book, I wrote about the sounds and smells and the feel of a city where the air was heavy with history and rich with opulence, decadence and especially, elegance. I centered a key twist around a scene in the fabricated Hotel Casteleone. There was no such hotel in New Orleans, not to my knowledge, but the essence of it is a compilation of all the wonderful things I witnessed in the French Quarter. Before going to New Orleans my ideas of grand hotels were based on the legendary Waldorf Astoria in New York and the Sir Francis Drake on Union Square in San Francisco. But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the Grande Dames of the Veiux Carre. The architecture of the city is enough to make anyone swoon with glee, but the history behind that architecture lingers like a viable essence that exudes from every pore of every brick, every chip of stone and every gilded iron balustrade. Ultimately, the Hotel Castelone had the formidable and inspiring entrance of the Ponchartrain Hotel, the formality of the Hotel Monteleone (and a slight nod to the name) and the courtyard somewhat along the lines of the one at the Hotel Dupuy. The Hotel Monteleon and the Hotel Dupuy are still going strong, despite the trials of weather and economy. The Ponchartrain is now a senior living center, an ironic twist for a hotel that once hosted celebrities and travellers who escaped to the city for an often extended stay.

So, I'm off once again to work on my book, hoping to do justice to such a wonderful city and knowing that I could never truly do it justice. Until then, Bonne Chance!





No matter what you take from this article, it's food for thought. From Kindle Review,

New Accurate E- Book Best Seller List ~ Or Big 6 Manipulation & Trickery?


Check it out and let me know what you think. Can there be fair reporting of ebook bestseller status? Or is this something that is still somewhere down the road?



Contractions are Killing Me!

And I don't mean that I'm having a baby. I can't even speak on that since I had two c-sections (too much TMI, sorry!) Anyway, I decided that before I try to submit Obsidian I was going to go back through and see what needed to be edited. After all, it may have been edited professionally and my copy editor is now a multi-published mystery author, but there is always room for improvement. Or in my case, I think there was a mansions worth of room left. Let me explain...

Back in college I took a wonderful writing course from a Professor who was published in Literary Fiction (I gave it caps because that was the way she talked). She was wonderful and gave me tons of encouragement, but she was very specific about the tone of the writing and one of her biggest pet peeves was the use of contractions. Because she was nice to me and encouraging, I wanted to make her happy with my work and so... Yup, I cut all the contractions from my writing. Not a single we're, they've, couldn't or I'm in the whole bunch. But unfortunately it didn't help my fiction writing. I've been told before that I have a good voice, but my sentences tend to be more formal than most editors like. That's because the voices in my head have been well trained to root out any contractions and speak in a more formal tone. Dang!

Now, I'm given the odious task of adding contractions back into my work. Don't laugh! I can hear you. Yes, I need to actually add them. Yesterday I spent the day go through and changing the following:
we are
they had
it would
could not
should have
I am
would have
he had (she had)
I would
You would (yes, I know I could just look for "would" and change them both)
I will
you are
he would

This took me the better part of the day and then I ended up the love fest by condensing a 5 page synopsis to a 2 page synopsis. It's really a love/hate thing. I love the work, but for those who think it's easy... think again. The upside is that if I do these corrections enough I'm hoping that my brain will rewire itself. It's only been *& years. But since I'm stubborn, I'll just keep plugging away it.

What are the bad habits in your writing that you picked up along the way?





Reasons for Backing Up Work and Not Throwing Out Anything

Okay, confession time... I've been sitting on the new version of Obsidian for quite some time. Mostly like a year. I've had the rights back for awhile, but with working on the Darkness Paranormal Series I put Obsidian on the back burner. Time to bring it to the front.

But that brought up a very big problem. The original book was on my laptop which fried itself last year. I've yet to get a new laptop and all the old information is stuck on the old hard drive. I didn't have a digital version of the book. Ackkkk!!!!! The prospect of typing it all back into the computer is a daunting one. And what if I make big mistakes when it's already an edited copy? Worse, I knew that at some point I had made a copy of the book on disk, but for the life of me couldn't find it. It wasn't on my hard drive, my thumb drive and on any of the piles of disks that I still have. This was bad.

But, since I am an optimist at heart I concluded that eventually my copy would show up when it was the right time for me to work on it. Low and behold, today was the day. I happened to look into the box of disks that contain my older ghost investigation information and found a disk marked "word backup". Light bulbs went off over my head, fireworks lit the sky and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing a chorus of Hallelujah! Sure enough, all the copies, included the edited version to the original publisher were on the disk.

But wait... that wasn't all I was looking for. Yup, there was more. I decided that since it was time to repub Obsidian that I would include a partial scene from the original manuscript. One that I had taken out to make it more in line with the original publishers "more suspense, less romance" mantra. Now, where had I put that? After all, I wrote it back sometime around 2002 and Obsidian wasn't published by Five Star until 2007. That was several computers and lots of gray hairs ago. I really thought I was going to have to go back and recreate the scene. It was then that I remembered the huge binder I had been shuffling from place to place in the basement. A folder that I'd threatened to throw out multiple times and burn the contents, but never quite got around to it.

I shuffled off to the dank basement, next to the table I once envisioned as a work space (no more) and dug through the old binder. There is actually original work going back to 1995. Not all of it is good, but it's there and it's was all a great big learning experience. But there, buried in the back was the original version of Obsidian with the scene I'd been looking for. It would seem that the writing Gods are smiling on me today and I really appreciate it.

Did I learn my lesson? I've been learning this lesson since my daughter erased my first novel off my Brothers Word Processor. I'm a slow learner so I figure I've probably got a few more panic attacks in my future. But for now.... I alllllll good! 



All Aboard the Airship!

Happy Birthday to Innocent Darkness and it's Airship Commander, Suzanne Lazear! It's finally here! Release day for the first in her Aether Chronicles Series, a Steampunk Extravaganza that is being release from Flux (one of my favorite Pub Houses!).

Innocent Darkness...
Noli Braddock and her best friend V’s incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she’s sure that her rebellious adventures are over.
   Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the Faerie Queen to bring a mortal girl back to the Otherworld. The magic requires a blood sacrifice every seven years, and only a mortal girl who shines with the Spark—a girl like Noli—will keep the Otherworld from complete destruction.
   When an ill-timed wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld, she’s more homesick than ever . . .  until V arrives to save her from an untimely demise. But who exactly is V? And if he helps Noli escape, who will save the realm of Faerie from utter annihilation?

Suzanne is gearing up for a great launch with plenty of partying to send the book off right. There's an all day party going on at Bitten By Books in her honor. Next the next flight on over and check out all the excitement! Check it out at http://www.bittenbybooks.com/55891/suzanne-lazear-release-party-and-steampunk-contest-88-rsvp-here/

She's also got some great book parties lined up for anyone in the California area. Unfortunately, it's too long of a flight from Maine and and my dirigible can't make the distance. But if you're in the area you check it out. She's promising goodies and great reads and is encouraging everyone to show off their best Steampunk and Fairy attire.

Sunday, August 12
4:00 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
 
There will be cupcakes and swag, feel free to wear your steampunk or fairy best!
 
August 18, 2012
7:00 PM
Kepler's Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, California  94025
 
There will be cupcakes and swag.  There will a steampunk costume contest so wear your steampunk or fairy best!
 
September 15, 2012
6:00 PM
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
480-730-0205
 
There will be cupcakes and swag, feel free to wear your steampunk or fairy best!

But when all is said and done I hope you'll hop on over and get her book! Suzanne has done an incredible job of supporting this fantastic genre and Innocent Darkness promises to be a fantastical read! I'm off to pop an aether port to grab my copy for myself.



Lessons Learned from Marie Force

I've been very busy lately. Very busy. I'm not making excuses because a good amount of what I've been doing has had to do with writing. But I've also been working long and strange hours and I've also been putting together another blog, this one on my other loves... vintage and creative projects for the home. I'll let you in on that one later, but for now I want to talk about some of the writing related things that I've discovered when it comes to formatting your ebooks and books for Createspace.

These are the things that would have been done in-house by a traditional publishing house. I remember when I got my first contract and had to submit a style sheet listing information about the story and the characters and even how we envision our covers. I got none of it on my covers. Want to know how bad it can get? Check out my post here on the evolution of a cover. Thank God for Sabrina's Digital Imagery because she saved my book from the dreaded goat cat that was on the original cover.

Anyway, there is more to making a book memorable then having a great story, giving it a good cover and making sure it is error free. Those are all really important, but if you want to grow your readership then you need to make it as easy as possible for the reader to connect. Marie Force visited a recent Maine RWA meeting and she talked about all the things that she does to sell her books. Here's just a couple... (I'm paraphrasing, but the sentiments the same).

1. You have to have inventory for the customer to read. Write. Write. Write. If you don't have the next book ready when they finish the first will they really come back and get it later? Besides, who needs a store with just one item in it. You've got to have the inventory. 

2. Make it easy for the reader to find your books. Sounds simple, but try picking up one of Marie's books (You can start with Maid for Love from the Gansett Island Series. At the moment it's free on Amazon as an ebook) and taking a look at how she lists her books available, adds links to the where the books can be purchased and encourages readers to follow her on social media.

3. Give them a taste. At the back of each book she adds an excerpt to the next book with a link at the end that takes them directly to the spot to purchase it. It's worked so far for me. I'm on book 4... or is it 5? Either way, I'm making my way steadily through the series. It works.

Then there are some other things that I don't think she mentioned, although I may have been writing furiously and missed them. But I have noticed a few things about her books that make them stand out. 

4. Forgo the boring formatting. I'm not talking about throwing caution to the wind and making crazy indents, but I'm talking about little things like changing the fonts on the chapter headings. Varying the size of the fonts and style. Those little things make it feel more like reading a bound book then an ebook. Take a look at some of the books out there. Not just read them, but take a look at the transition between the chapters, the way the pages are formatted and the over all presentation of the book. Play with the formatting. Nothing is hurt by trying something new.

5. Make them personal. The more you can make the readers feel familiar with you, the more they'll read your books. Make them relate. Make them believe that they know you and you've got a reader for life.

6. CYA: Otherwise known as "cover your butt". Sort of. Make sure that you've got all the legal stuff in there to protect yourself and your work. It's your work, don't give it away because you didn't bother to learn how to protect it.

7. Making it hot doesn't hurt. By hot I mean SMOKING HOT. She doesn't categorize them as anything other than romance, but a good portion of each book is the characters not being able to keep their hands off each other. That's not to say that they have indiscriminate sex. The basis is all there for the hot and sweaty stuff. But that just proves that most readers don't mind a little hot.

8. Consistency. Follow through on all books, not just on story, but on content. Give them all of the information on all the books. The great thing about pubbing indie-style is that you can go back and change and edit to your liking. I'm working on that project now. Maybe that's why my eyes are crossing. ;)

Lastly, there was something else that goes along with making it personal and making it easy. Marie has said that she tries to respond to all her readers, that she acknowledges their comments and makes them feel treasured. That goes a long way with relationship, but it's really important if you want to bring them back.

A debt of gratitude, I offer to Marie. She has no idea how much she's helped me. Well, maybe she will if she reads this post. There is always something new to learn and I thank her for showing me some great new ways to look at my own work. As for me? I'm off to download the next book in the Gansett Island series. After all, who needs sleep...




More Adventures at Createspace

Some of the things you should never do when you are exhausted...

1. Make life altering decisions. No jumping into marriage. Buying a house. Having another child... you get the picture.
2. Drive. As an example, you should never try to drive the almost 10 hours from Maine to Pennsylvania and back in one shot just because you are convinced it'll be no problem... it will probably be a problem and no amount of caffeine and blasting 80's music while you sing at the top of your lungs will keep you awake when you are that tired.
3. Buying groceries... sounds innocent enough, but I can tell you that there are a whole lot of bad decisions that are made when you have to rush into the grocery store after working all day and can't figure out what you want for dinner. Hamburger Helper anyone? How about my friend Bun's choice of sardines in a can or Moxie over ice cream with potato chips. Yes... I'm serious. But he is an original.
And lastly...
4. Don't do anything embarrassing. Never try to proof read simple cover copy when you've been working insane hours at your day job. It won't work well and you'll probably post something to Facebook that you'll be mortified by.

In my case, I misspelled the name of my book and then missed it completely. Duh!!!!! But Createspace was very nice and helpful and had it changed at all the Amazon venues. I'm very happy. And very mortified. But the mortification is dissolving at the shear fact that the book is now available  to hold in you hot, little hands. Thank goodness that Blogger has spell check!

Want a copy? Here's a neat little widget to help you satisfy your cravings....



Adventures at Createspace

I've taken another leap of faith... or should I say imagination this time and gone the route of having Three Truths published in book format through the POD-Amazon-Linked Createspace.com. I've been hearing about it for some time and still I hesitated. When going the indiepub route I find that I sit on my decision longer than usual, mostly because I'm afraid to make the wrong jump. Was Createspace the right jump to make? Only time will tell.

The process is not unlike publishing through the KDP Dashboard (Kindle Direct Publishing). It walks you through the process and there are safeguards in place, such as being to opt-in-or-out of a professional editing service. I opted out since Three Truths has already been out there in print format in another incarnation as The Three Truths of Katie Talmadge. It was originally published through a small press that offered no distribution and little else. But again, that was a choice I made in the beginning of the pubbing part of my writing career. I tend to look at everything as a learning curve and this was one of those curves.

But as for Createspace I found the process fairly straight forward. It walks you through the whole process and gives a handy little check off system to make sure you don't miss any steps. There are optional sizes for your finished product.  I went with the 6x9 which makes for a nice trade paperback size. You want to make the most of your pages. Extra pages means extra cost that will get passed along to customer. Createspace does require that you purchase a proof copy of the book, but this can be a very good thing as I found a couple of formatting mistakes and choices that I wanted to change before the final.

For the cover I was given the choice of uploading an already formatted book cover, but since I had the front cover image, but not the entire book jacket format I decided to go with a customizable cover from their selection. This allowed me to use the great image that Sabrina's Digital Imagery created for me and create a back cover option that optimized the selling points for the book. I did come up with a longer blurb for this than the selling blurb that is required for most ebook sites. Be sure to pay attention to the image guidelines when you upload your image. It needs to be a certain size and file type for it to work. Play around with it for the best options.

Once all that was done and my proof approved it goes to the distribution channels. There are three options (all Amazon related) for free distribution and another three channels that can be had for $25. I opted out on the additional channels since this book had already been in print once before. Plus, being new to Createspace I wanted to see how the process went before coming up with the additional money.

So, the book is set and complete and the distribution channels picked. There are additional marketing options like bookmarks, postcards and sell sheets (also press releases and the like), but these are also available at an additional charge. Places like Vistaprint can do postcards and bookmarks for you at really good prices depending on your level of comfort at manipulating your images. It's all up to you.

Createspace gives your book a page on their site, but I don't see how there is much selling going on directly from their site. In 3-5 business days my print book should be available on Amazon directly. I'll let you all know how that progresses and whether this generates any sales. Until then, it is nice to have the option to hold my book in my own hot little hands. As nice as the convenience of ebooks are there is nothing like holding a book to ground you. But both are nice options when you need an escape.

Want to see how the Createspace page looks? Check it here.



An Over Extending Arc

Last night was one of those nights where the story kept me awake. I should say "stories", since the thing that has been bothering me the most is how to best utilize Obsidian now that I have the rights back to it. This seems like an easy enough thing. After all, the story is already edited and had an audience. I can either choose to find another publisher for it, or I can I can choose to put it out there myself. The problem with a new publisher is that most don't want a previously published work. It's really too bad since it's a good book. The second problem is that I have another book that I wrote as a semi-sequel to the book. I pitched it to the original publisher, but it was too off for them to want to publish it for a line that is primarily a library line. That was okay with me. I loved the characters. But what really threw me off was when I realized that out of the two fulls that I wrote after Obsidian was published, the one that I thought was the sequel wasn't the sequel. And the one that I thought was a stand alone was actually a sequel. Doesn't make sense, does it? It all has to do with the over extending arc of the story.

My haphazard definition of an over extending arc is... a plot in the story that spans the length of a series and slowly unfolds during each novel. The over extending arc is wrapped up (hopefully in the last novel). Case in point is my favorite Nora Roberts' series that deals with the keys. Each heroine in the series has their own missions to accomplish, but there is an over all arcing theme that runs throughout the books and that is how to accomplish all that they need to do and to free the sisters in glass. Nora is a genius when it comes to these series because she tied them all together so effectively that you are dying to get to the end of the series to find out how they did it. She does it with all of her books. As I said, she's really good at this.

So, why was I awake all night? Obsidian has a subplot of the uncle who is not who he appears to be. He talks about his brother dying and how he came to Maine to protect his niece and nephew. He disappears at the end of the book giving a great segue to the next book in the series. Not the book I thought I'd written.

The next book was Irish Rain (or Once a Hero) and this takes place in New Orleans. I start off the book with an explosion and a brother being killed, but the book has another underlying theme of a group of powerful men who have sent someone to kill him. My problem is that I didn't set up the brehon in the first book, Obsidian. What I did set up was a sequel featuring a USCG Communications Officer, Tom Kearsage. It was only when I started working on the over extending arc that I realized that MoonCussers is the sequel to Obsidian and that leaves Once a Hero as the first in a series with a tie in to Obsidian. Anybody confused? I am. I think that's what has always bothered me about the stories. I love all my stories and I love all my characters. That love has gotten me into the mix of it all. I don't see a problem with the tie in to the original book, but they are different series in the making. The Obsidian series is basically a New England setting centered around a coastal mystery/suspense theme. Once a Hero is set in New Orleans and the books that follow it (yes, they are partially written) take place in London and Northern Ireland.

Want to know how this is all going to turn out? Me, too! But I think this is just the beginning of a fantastic and confusing journey. Care to come along for the ride?



How Much is Too Much and How Much is Not Enough?

If you've been in indie-publishing for any length of time and done any kind of research then you know that the market is as fluid and volatile as the river behind my house. One minute things are calm and smooth, flowing along in a steady, peaceful manner and the next a flood of information comes along that makes the current kick up and the urgency levels to rise.

What am I talking about? Pricing.

I was one of those that jumped on the KDP Select Program bandwagon, signing up for a limited three month term with my novella, STEALING DARKNESS. I set the price at a .99, believing that since it was a novella the limited price would make it attractive to buyers. I was also interested in the free days promotion that is part of the Select program, but what I have discovered is that I may not have made the best choice. You see, I undervalued my work. In order to put myself in a competitive place for selling my novella I put my price lower than would be a benefit to me... the person who labored and loved over the work to bring to market. I was also guilty of giving prospective readers a faulty sense of lack of value. What????
Really what I mean to say is that by valuing my work at a lower price I lowered the expectations of my readers. Isn't the work worth more?

About a month ago, around the same time that I put Three Truths up on Smashwords, I raised the price of the book from .99 to 1.99. I did this believing that the difference in price was justified by the size of the book I was offering. If I was offering a novella at .99 I could surely offer a full book at 1.99. It wasn't long after that the Smashwords founder published his own findings on the buyers reactions to pricing. Myself, along with a host of other authors out there began to realize that maybe we had taken the wrong route when it came to pricing our work.

So, as of today, as I prepare my next novella in the Darkness Paranormal Series for publishing, that my prices need to reflect my work. I raised Three Truths to $3.99 and I've raised Stealing Darkness to $2.99 in hopes that this will bring my work more in line with the current market and maybe give them a fighting chance at finding a readership that will appreciate them as much as I do.

It may not work. I may find that it discourages more than encourages more readers, but for now I'm willing to take the chance.

Teagan

Weekly Catch Up

I was going to sacrifice one of my rare days off to painting the trim and base boards in my house. But since it turned out overcast, gray and slightly muggy I decided that you all would benefit from my distraction and I would share a few things I've seen this week.

The first thing is from a post from Jen Talty at Write It Forward Blog. She posted about Promoting your book in iBooks and offered up tips to make it easy for your prospective readers to jump on over to iTunes and download you latest. Thanks to her post, I now have a nifty little button to help me offer Three Truths to my readers.

See...
Three Truths - Teagan Oliver

Isn't it lovely? I wish all the ebook stores had these nifty little gadgets. It would make my life so much easier. There is also another gadget that can be added in case you have multiple books that you want to offer in a scrolling box. Very lovely and handy! I would suggest that if you have a book to sell on the iBookstore that you go grab a gadget for yourself and put it on whatever spot is needed on your blogs, websites... etc...

The second thing that I wanted to post about was an online posting from PJ Media on 10-reasons you should skip the traditional publishers and self publish ebooks instead. I got to this through my link up to J.A. Konrath's blog. It makes some interesting arguments for doing it yourself. I would advise anyone wanting to go it by themselves to take the time to research and to limit your expectations. We all can't be the J.A. Konraths or the Marie Forces and sometimes new authors enter into the field expecting the same big sales. These huge sales are the exception, not the rule. But that doesn't mean that you can't make this way. It just takes time and a whole lot of effort and the ability to multitask... a lot!

Off to stick some widgets on my sites! Enjoy the day everyone!

Teagan

Modeling and Master Groups



I have very little time to actually read, so I'm usually apt to grab something on a whim that appeals enough to me to carry me through a 30 minute lunch break and maybe my 2 15-minute breaks (if I'm lucky). Anyway, the pick this week is a book I've had on my shelf for some time. It's Writing For The New Age Market by Richard Webster (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003). For some time now I've been working on the idea of writing non-fiction. As if I didn't have enough on my plate I thought I'd add something else to the mix. But I have a desire to share some of what I've learned and to help "pay it forward" when it comes to what I've had the opportunity to experience. I'm a firm believer that we are here to learn some very important lessons during this lifetime and part of those lessons includes passing along what we know so that others can be helped. I'm by no means some know-it-all-expert intent on bringing followers to some cause. But I think there could be a definite benefit to helping others.

So, (getting back off my soapbox) I thought I'd share some interesting insight that Mr. Webster shared in his book. The first is MODELING. No, I have no intention of posing for pictures or finding my face plastered to the side of a wall or bus. But what he talks about is using your observation skills to model your experience after someone you admire. If you want to write prolifically, perhaps you'd model your writing behavior after someone like Nora Roberts. Or if you wish to create a following of loyal readers you might want to consider modeling your career after your favorite author.

WHAT MODELING IS: Observing, creating skills and practices for success, and instituting traits and behaviors from people you admire in order to achieve results similar to what you have observed.
WHAT MODELING ISN'T: Stalking, plagiarizing, creating an expectation that is outside of your own karmic identity.

I never really understood that there was a name for this until I read his passage in the book. I'd been doing it for years. I started out wanting desperately to teach classes on writing, but lacking the confidence it took to stand in front of strangers and put myself out there. For years, I watched and waited and when the opportunity came to present to a regional and then a national conference I knew it was going to take a gigantic leap of faith and a whole lot of preparation in order for me to give the workshop without running for the door. I watched how other presenters offered up their pearls of wisdom and I practiced how I wanted the workshop to come from me. I actually practiced visualization in order to convince myself that I could do what needed to be done. In the end, I modeled myself against every presenter that had ever made a lasting impression on me and it worked.

MASTER GROUP  

Master group is the idea that we should surround ourselves with like-minded individuals with whom we can share experiences and offer support. This is usually a smaller group than perhaps a RWA regional chapter, usually limited to enough members that can be counted on one hand. But the idea is that even if you don't talk trade or critique work, you do find support in being around other writers (or whatever is your goal).

When I read this I immediately thought about the group of us that met after the Maine RWA's recent Writer's Retreat last weekend. In the time after the retreat we all gathered together in the lobby for conversation, fun and relaxation. Yes, there was some talk about shop, but it was more a moment to commiserate, celebrate and just enjoy each the company.

If a Master Group offers nothing else, it should offer you a chance to recharge your creative batteries. A chance to relax away from those who don't understand what you do at that computer each day and to feel at home with those who do understand it. It's important.

Do you model your career or your writing practices after someone who inspires you?

Where Have I Been?

Life Stuff...
Where have I been? My first answer would be to tell you that I'm not really sure where I've been. It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but things are finally starting to wind down around here. I haven't given up on talking about Independent Publishing and getting the word out to those that have questions, but since I'm a mom as well as a writer there are times when the "mom" part needs to take over. This was one of those times.

Happy "late" Mother's Day to all the moms out there! We spent Mother's Day weekend making a flying trip to Pennsylvania to retrieve my daughter from her first year of college. I find it hard to believe that it's been an entire year. Parts of it went exceedingly fast and, at times, they felt as if they crawled. I've lost track of how many trips I made to Pennsylvania in the last year. I know it was a lot. But it was worth it for her to be at a great college and have wonderful first year experience. She didn't just do the "experiencing" part. Daughter made Dean's list both semesters, so this was a worthwhile endeavor on all our parts. Her father and I can't be happier.
After the multitude of rain that Maine has been experiencing, Pennsylvania was gloriously warm and green. The fields were verdant and the warmth a comfort to our cold bones. Hubby and the kids took me to Lancaster County and we went to a market and a more touristy area that had beautiful antiquey and vintage finds (not to miss the great food!) We got to have pet some animals at a small animal farm and the kids fed them and petted them and cooed over them. Over all the trip was fast, but great fun. If I could live anywhere else it would be Pennsylvania.

Book Stuff...
But what about the books? They haven't been forgotten. I'm still working on the editing of the second in the DARKNESS PARANORMAL NOVELLA SERIES. This one is STEALING THUNDER and takes place in the Smokey Mountains of Western North Carolina. Another place that I adore. I'm also at work on a cozy mystery series set around a little murder and my love of vintage everything. This has been in the works for awhile, but I'll let you know as it progresses.

STEALING DARKNESS has been out just a little over one month. I'm both amazed and awed by the response that it got. It was much darker than anything I'd written before so I wasn't quite sure the response I'd get. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of my readers (including my boss. Thanks, boss!) The sales are still coming in, but it's slowed a bit. I'm told that the average a book will sell well for about three months before another books should really be put out there. That should be just about right getting STEALING THUNDER to market. I'm looking for a couple of beta readers who are willing to do a read through of it. Free books are always a good thing.

Want a teaser for STEALING THUNDER? Here's a little something to peak your interest...

Straddling the line between modern reality and ancient wisdom, Graham Wolfe struggles to fulfill the dying wish of his Cherokee grandfather as a fierce legendary spirit threatens to extract an unwilling soul. Unable to fight the battle on his own, he enlists the help of Grace Sterling, a psychic dream weaver with a secret past and a warrior heart to help him in a mythic battle that defies his beliefs, shatters his memories, and opens both of their hearts. 

Congrats to Diane Amos!

Winner of a 2012 NECRWA Beanpot Award for Promise Me Forever!
I wish I could have been there to congradulate you in person!

And for those of you following my Independent Publishing posts... I haven't forgotten! Stay tuned for the results of my first Amazon Free Promo. Coming soon!


Free Today! Stealing Darkness!

Check it out! Stealing Darkness is a FREE read today! And, if you like the story, please take a moment to "like" Stealing Darkness on the Amazon page!

http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Darkness-Paranormal-Novella-ebook/dp/B007SH9IHO/ref=lp_B001JP4FUG_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1333975074&sr=1-3

Minn Sterling ran away from Crescent Lake to escape the pyschic legacy left to her by her mother and to protect her heart from the man she was too scared to love. But when three women are mysteriously killed and the only connection the police have is her psychic link to the killer, Minn has no choice but to face her fears and run back into the arms of the one man who believes in her enough to catch the killer.



Yeah!

Independent Publishing: Part 3: Amazon Kindle Continued

Disclaimer: This is part 3 of my Independent Publishing Series and Part 2 of my Epubbing through Amazon Kindle section. I've talked about the prep and I've talked about everything that goes along with it, including loading your baby up on the Amazon KDP Dashboard. In this post I'll talk about the second part of the Dashboard and I'll talk about the Reports tab on the Dashboard. If you haven't read the first post I'd suggest you start there at Independent Publishing: Show and Tell: Part 1. My reason for putting this information out there is to help anyone else looking to make their way through the process of publishing their work. I am not anti-Traditional publisher, in fact, this process has made me ever more aware of just how much they do and the time and effort involved in bringing a work of the imagination to the masses. If you have any questions I would urge you to take a look at some of the links listed on my Independent Publishing page and, as always, you can email me at Teagan@TeaganOliver.com and I will try to help or point you in the direction of help. And, as I've said before... What I don't know could fill a book, but I still might be able to lead you in a direction where you can find your answer.




Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Page 2 -

Rights and Pricing:
Verifying Your Publishing Territory:
Note: If this is a work that was previously published or you have retained certain rights for your work, please review your rights to make certain where those rights pertain to for publishing. This will make this next step easier.

If this is a new work that has never before been published through any outlet and you own all rights to your work then it is here that you would publish your work as "Worldwide Rights - All Territories". This says that the current work will be published in all the territories that Amazon currently publishes.

There are some authors that I've heard from who retained the rights to publish outside the US. Their book may still be available from their publisher, but they have permission to seek publication outside the United States. If this is the case then you would publish your work under "Individual Territories" and pick the territories you rights to publish.

Now comes the big one...
Choose Your Royalty:
You would think this would be an easy question to answer. After all, they give you the choice of 35% and 70% royalties. But how do you decide which royalty?
 
If you work is between $2.99 and $9.99 for the US Market, your work will automatically receive the 70% royalty rate. Any price below $2.99 will be automatically enrolled for the 35% royalty. If you try to choose the 70% royalty on a book under the minimum price it will give you a warning and disallow this choice. 

Once you've chosen the price... In this case, we'll say that you chose to publish your work for $2.99. This price would be entered under the "amazon.com" box. Once you hit enter it will automatically calculate the amount of royalty you will receive on each purchase at the $2.99 price.

Note: There is a .01 delivery cost that is assigned to each book that is delivered at a price between the $2.99 and $9.99 price points. This does not pertain to any book under the $2.99 price.

Once you've put in your price for publishing on Amazon.com you can either check the boxes on the other Amazon venues to have the US price translated into their currency or you can set the price for each individual venue. I'd suggest that unless you have a really good idea of the market for each venue then it's best to let Amazon do the figuring and make the calculations for you.

Amazon has a few notes of their own when it comes to setting international prices. I've listed part of them below, but please see the site for more information. (This comes directly from the dashboard)
  • EUR and GBP list prices that are set automatically based on your US Dollar list price are converted using the exchange rates in effect on the date that they were initially calculated. If the converted list price would be outside of the minimum or maximum list price we accept for the currency, your list price will be converted so that it is equal to the applicable minimum or maximum list price for that currency. List prices automatically set for your existing books are displayed in the above table.  
  • The list price you provide is VAT-EXCLUSIVE. The VAT we will add for sales to customers in EU countries from our EU Kindle Stores will be 3%. VAT rates, where applicable, vary for other countries.

 The last piece of the publishing puzzle for getting your work listed is to pick whether you want to allow "Kindle Lending" of your work. This is part of the "Kindle Book Lending" program and there is more information on this on their site. Basically, if the user is part of the Kindle Book Lending program they can choose to share your work with anyone for 14 days.
 
YEAH! You've made it through the initial uploading process for getting your work into Kindle's listing. There is the requisite acknowledgement of Terms and Conditions. I'd suggest that you read through them thoroughly before choosing to publish on Kindle (or anywhere else for that matter). But once you've acknowledge the T&C you can go ahead and hit "SAVE AND PUBLISH".
 
Now take a deep breath! It's a big thing you've done. You've just put that work out for sale. You've labored over it and polished it and made it your own and now you need to push it out of the nest and see if it will fly. But you will have to wait about 24 hours for it to go live on Kindle. Once it does you can sell, sell, sell.
 
KDP Reports Tab
I really wanted to touch on this because it will be the most visited tab on your dashboard. It's here that you will see your daily and monthly sales totals. You can look up your royalty accumulations and get reports for your files. You can also check to see how you are doing at the other Amazon venues through the small drop down menu. Warning: It can become highly addictive to look at these figures. But it's your best indication of how your work is doing. There are times when the reporting is slow, but usually within a day or so the sales will show up on your reports.
 
Next time: I'm going to talk about marketing that book your just uploaded to Amazon. After that, I'll begin touching on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble and anything else that I can think of that may be of use to you.
 
As always, if you have any question and you can't find the answer here or through one of the references I've listed on my Independent Publishing page you can contact me at Teagan@TeaganOliver.com and I will do my best to answer your questions or at the very least... point you in the right direction.
 

 

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