Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Commenting Conundrum

In my last post I experimented with returning comments directly using the reply feature. It's a very handy feature Blogger introduced this year that makes direct responses to your post comments easy and efficient.

Drawbacks are that I'm not sure people have the time to click back and see if I replied to them or not; and also, it seems crowded with my own comments. Another drawback is that if you reply to one you should reply to all and then if you get distracted and don't do that, it's like you're ignoring people.

Don't think I'll keep it up.

Another way to respond is email directly when a comment shows up in my email. Drawback to this is that many bloggers have the noreply@ ________ address, so you can't reply. Otherwise, emailing back would be my favorite method to respond to comments.

I used to try to return the favor. If someone comments on my post, I'd click over and do the same on theirs. Only lately so many go straight to Google Plus and it's a big hassle finding their blog link, especially if I'm not in their circle and can't see anything. So forget that.

Wouldn't you know it. After three years of blogging, I'm more confused than ever about how best to respond to comments. That is messed up.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Social Media Burn out?

If you've followed me here for very long you've heard of CeleryTree. Curious about what's going on there? Then click to the CeleryTree blog and read, She Who Will Remain Nameless.

And while there, check out the newest post from the CeleryTree blog. Bottom line: Social media can be tiring! Writers can burn out and drop out and be left behind. CeleryTree wants to help with that!

"Our website is meant for you, the writer, to assist you in selling and promoting your books."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Angel Wings and Fairy Dust

This moment is like seeing the first robin of spring, like getting the first peek at your newborn, like kissing your husband after the wedding vows are spoken. And I can't wait to share it with you! (the book not my husband)

To be released September 18, contemporary women's fiction, Lighting Candles in the Snow (WiDo Publishing):


 Summary:

Newly divorced Karoline London needs to heal and find her normal again, as older sister Suzie keeps reminding her. But what does Suzie know about divorce? She has the perfect husband and seven gorgeous children, while Karoline had six years married to a man tormented by addictions.

When Karoline meets handsome Zac Kline, things just might be looking up. Until she learns about a tragic event in ex-husband Jeremy’s childhood that explains old complications, while creating new ones–complications that threaten to further obstruct Karoline’s difficult path back to herself.

Lighting Candles in the Snow is a novel of hope and redemption, about new beginnings and fresh starts. It is about the weak finding courage, and how shared grief in times of loss can create unbreakable bonds within families.

And to celebrate, there are ARCs available! They'll be going out first to advance reviewers, but by the first of September ARC's will also be available to interested readers. Mobi for the Kindle, pdf. for Nook and computer, and a limited number of print books.

Let me know if you would like an ARC! I'd love nothing more than for my blog followers to get first crack at this novel. It's a departure from my previous books, not at all autobiographical-- it's grittier and has some language, violence and sexual situations because of the nature of the themes. Nothing graphic but compared to my other books, there's a real difference.

I imagine there are readers who liked Farm Girl and my Diamond novels who will dislike this one, and vice versa. It's a little nerve wracking to wonder if you will alienate your demographic but this is the novel that came out of me last June, when I was doing BuNoWriMo and spent 12 hours in the passenger seat of a car driving across Wyoming.

When I got back home and reread the first draft, I realized it was completely different than what I'd set out to write. But I loved it. And I loved the process of revising it this past year to polish and get the story and characters portrayed exactly as they wanted to be told.

Writing this novel was the most amazing experience, and I am hoping the wonderful angel on the cover (photography by Tracy Jo Blowers and design by Lisa Marek) will bring good fortune to everyone who was part of the creation of Lighting Candles in the Snow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Silly Reviews

I read a lot of book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It's an obsessive practice I have that inspires me to write. (novels, not reviews) But some of them puzzle me, leading me to ask the following questions of certain reviewers of silly reviews:

Why read a memoir if you only like happy books? No one writes a memoir about their joyful, pain-free life. No story in that. When I see a comment like "This was a depressing book" I think, And what did you expect?

If you disliked the first in the series, why did you read the sequel? Seriously, a reviewer who gives a low rating to ALL the books in a series?

Why be mean? Are you not clever enough to write a review about a book you didn't like without resorting to catty, snide, sarcastic and just plain hurtful statements? (Meanness annoys me so much it gets two questions.)

Who paid you to say that? And on the other hand, there's no need to gush. When I see, "This is the best book I ever read!" I think you are either lying or being sarcastic. Either way, it has no impact and doesn't make me want to read the book.

Why use your review on one book to tell us another book is better? Of course there are better books! There are zillions of better books than the one you just read. That's not the point. "I didn't like this book, such and such was better." That's the dumbest thing ever to say in a review.

Did you really think that just because Oprah recommended it you should shell out $10? Don't blame the author for that one, sucka.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Why I Am Here

I've been thinking about the recent blog post by Damyanti Is Blogging Obsolete? It has made me think about why I am here. As one commenter said, "We should call it Writing on the Internet." Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? And sounds prettier than the word "blog."

First, why I am NOT here:

To be controversial. I'll never write one of those posts everyone talks about and links to and goes viral due to its debatable and controversial nature. I'm a peacemaker. I like everyone to get along. Just ask my kids.Which is why I never talk politics in person or online. Can't stand contention.

To promote my books. My personal opinion is that writers need to spend more time writing and improving their craft than trying to convince people to buy their books. Do enough to get the word out then back off, that's my policy. Not saying it's the best policy for selling a zillion books but it feels right for me.

To become a better writer. Blogging doesn't help my writing skills. In fact, I think it hurts. There's a part of my creative brain that switches off when I go online, and getting it back is tough when it's time to work on the manuscript.

Then why am I here?

Because I like it and can't seem to stop myself.

To learn about what's happening with writers and publishers. Online is where the news hits first. It's where trends are started and I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the writing industry.

I love my laptop and feel happy when I use it and I can't be writing all the time, silly.

This is my writing club. I don't belong to one in real life so I come online to get inspired, informed, encouraged and understood.

That's me. Why are you here?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Boom Boom Boom

I've not really been on a blog-cation, more like a life-cation-- yep, that's when life takes over social media for a time. hehe. Came back today and noticed announcements for my blogging friend Carol Kilgore's new release. Exciting things happening Under the Tiki Hut! Yay Carol! This one's going on my to-read list.

I get frustrated trying to keep up with everybody's books and stuff. After three years blogging with other writers, progress happens and people get contracts, or agents, or make new decisions about how to get their books out there and the books come faster than I can follow.

This speed of publishing (ha, whoever thought we'd see speed and publishing in the same sentence) is a new trend. Compared to the old days, it is super warp speed. More books coming out faster boom boom boom.

How to keep up with it all? How to find one's audience in the midst of this publishing boom? How to stand out above the crowd and get noticed? That's a lot of pressure on authors as well as publishers and everyone in the industry.

As my own new novel is preparing for release in September I think about it. When I'm writing I don't think about it, except as a general concept. But then it comes time to put your own baby out there, it's no longer general but extremely personal.

I feel a headache coming on.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cracking the Kindle Code with WiDo Publishing

I've spent the past ten months trying to crack the Kindle code for WiDo Publishing. (For some reason I keep typing code as coke. Excuse me while I go get a soda.)

Okay, back again. *slurp guzzle*

I've learned a few things (my TOP TEN). Later I'll explore them all further as I need fodder for posts.

MY TOP TEN DISCOVERIES ABOUT KINDLE SALES

1. One bad review can drop sales and ruin the book's Kindle ranking for a really long time--until a few positive ones pop up to counteract.

2. Summer is lousy for book sales, except for the bestselling author releasing a long-awaited blockbuster in the making. Ebooks are no different. Fortunately, sales pick up come winter.

3. Christmas is great for book sales. Publishers will fund their entire year on what sells during this season. After the holidays is also fantastic for ebook sales as people with their new Kindles look for stuff to download. I guess what I'm saying here with #2 and #3 is that ebook sales are cyclical just like regular books, or any kind of retail sales.

4. Enrolling books in KDP Select brings higher exposure and greater sales that more than compensates from lost income from Nook sales and other venues. When WiDo Publishing put its titles on KDP Select, income from Kindle downloads and borrows increased tenfold almost instantly and has maintained a steady level even with the summer doldrums. Yes, it would be nice to accommodate people without Kindles, but when you're a small publisher trying to survive in a competitive market, you go where the money is.

5. Keep tweaking that book description. Imagine one million potential buyers viewing your book's item detail page on the Kindle Store. Getting it right brings immediate results, i.e. increased downloads.

6. Don't assume a book is being ignored because people can't find it. Hundreds of potential buyers are searching for something to read on their Kindles. There are reasons a book isn't selling-- fixable reasons. (See #7)

7. If a book isn't selling, it's most likely due to:  a. Poor description (see #5 on this list)  b. The sample chapters have a major problem with the writing, the editing, or the formatting, or perhaps all three. c. There's one or more reviews that are killing sales. (See #1.)

8. Covers can be changed easily on the Kindle. If everything possible has been fixed and it still isn't selling, try changing covers.

9. Low price doesn't guarantee high sales. Try giving away a book that has problems and you'll see what I mean. Dropping the price isn't always the solution. First, fix the problems. (See #7.)

10. Certain books sell better on Kindle than others and so what? I write contemporary women's fiction about family life. Am I going to throw that out and write erotica since it's selling like crazy right now? No, because I write what's in my heart. If I tried to write about a shirtless Scottish guy with a ripped kilt, it would come across as fake and lame and no one would buy it because readers can recognize false writing in the first paragraph.

***

This list can apply to both self-published and traditionally-published authors. Authors have a lot of power to impact marketing, it's not just the self-published who should be involved in improving their books' sales and visibility.

Please share your own ideas and experience! Feedback and sharing in the comments will make this post better, and I thank you for it.