#WIP Invasion

WIP2

image source: etsy.com

Can we talk for a moment, writer to writer?

Lookit, I can’t be the only one who’ll be happily plugging away at a highly anticipated novel (that’s code for it’s way overdue and readers are jumping ship by the hordes. *snort* You actually thought I had hordes of readers? Awww, that’s sweet) – and all the sudden a NEW book decides to just plop its big, bony ass right down on top of everything else with no intention of moving. A massive blob of scenes and backstory, brooding hunks, damsels in defiance, whips, chains and garden hoses (don’t ask), all reminding me that I have absolutely no willpower!

I’m not alone, right?

How do you deal with this kind of situation? Do you:

a). Ignore the new story until you’re done with the first one, because you’ve got discipline and the memory of an elephant?

b). Take the detour just long enough to frantically jot down everything you can for the new story, because your discipline’s flexible, but your memory’s a toss?

Or

c). Attempt the juggling routine, because you’re fairly sure the 100th time is the charm?

I made the mistake of thinking I could pull off a combination of options b & c….1 week later… Update: Scavenger (Dark Day Isle, Book 2) will be delayed, yet again. I’m sorry. Please refer to the part where I have no willpower.

How many #WIPs are you working on and what’s your favorite strategy for those invading new ideas?

#HappyNewYear2017!

newyears2017

Dear Indies, Bloggers, Readers and Friends:

This is a virtual toast to express my wishes for you in the coming New Year. Maybe, 2016 was unkind, frustrating or held regrets for you–I hope not. I hope looking back, you will find more joys, moments of gratitude, or achievements to celebrate than anything else.

In 2016, some of us became Indie Authors and released our first self-published book(s). We hopped on the learning curve, taught ourselves how to navigate this bumpy ride through all the various levels of writing, publishing and marketing. One of my greatest fortunes was finding a new job when I desperately needed it, which *bonus* I absolutely enjoy. But my greatest achievements this year have been the amazing connections I’ve made with so many creative, supportive and brilliant writers, bloggers, artists and readers.

Some of you I met here, through my Dear Indie articles, or on one of the awesome blog shares hosted by others. Some of you I met on Goodreads. Either way, we’ve formed some kind of kinship along our journeys and these are things I am very grateful for. I look forward to all the things we will accomplish in 2017. I hope to continue sharing in all the struggles and successes, watching the way our little online community rallies around one another in support.

My greatest wish for all of you this coming year is that you find more reasons to feel happy, accomplished, grateful and loved than you did in 2016 – even if it was a spectacular year for you – may 2017 be that much more fulfilling…

…and may the book boyfriends be extra spicy! 😛

You may now commence with the guzzling of virtual (or real) bubbly.

Cheers & Have a wonderful–safe–New Year’s Eve!

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

I’m happy to announce that I’m officially back online full-time now! Yay, no more missing out on all the good stuff. 🙂

This week, I’d like to talk about REVIEWS, REViews, Reviews… They’re the bread and butter of an author’s career, the key to their success. How many times have you seen similar statements? How many of you have seen Review quotes on the front cover of author’s books? Those are two different kinds of reviews that I’m going to cover today, because the answer is: Yes. You can get reviews on your book before it’s even published.

Note* For those of you already aware, please feel free to skip ahead.

They’re called R2R’s or Read-to-Reviews (if anyone knows them by a different name, please share with us in the comments below, we can never have too much information!) R2R’s are specifically designed for pre-published marketing to hype up the launch of your book.

The best–and possibly only–place to find R2R reviewers is on Goodreads. Check your ‘genre-specific’ groups first, as they’re more likely to have a folder already designated for R2R’s. If you can’t find one or are unsure, I suggest private messaging one of the group Mods and simply asking them nicely. It could be that they’ve never thought of the idea before, but won’t mind adding the folder for the group. Afterward, check the Author and Indie support groups, as well. I posted Avarice for R2R’s back in May on several different sites and only got 2 pre-publication reviews out of it, so the more you post, the better your chances – but don’t be discouraged if no one bites, this is just an extra step that you can take to help promote your book, not a requirement.

Some important things to note if you do choose to use R2R’s:

  • No retail site (Amazon, B&N, etc.) will allow reviews to be posted on an unpublished book, so make sure you have your book listed as a “Coming Soon” on Goodreads so they have somewhere to post it.
  • Whether the folder is blatantly labeled as R2R or not, I suggest specifying that’s what you’re looking for in the post, with a time frame, AND make sure you reiterate it in your emails with anyone who responds, in case they missed that part. Again, be realistic. R2R’s aren’t going to happen if you wait until a week before your book goes live to start asking.
  • If you desire a copy of the review for marketing purposes, make sure you communicate that with your reviewer. Do not just assume they will send you one, because 99.98% of them never will.
  • Unless you got reviewed by a famous author, do not put the quotes on the cover of your book. If you’re going (POD) Print, you can add them to the back cover (unless you’ve already purchased the final cover). If you’re going strictly eBook, a great place to have them is in the front matter (between the copyright page and table of contents is a good spot) because most ‘sample’ and ‘Look Inside’ features only give readers up to 30% preview and having something like: “5 Stars! A must read for all lovers of [insert genre here] – Name of Reviewer” popping up in their face might make them feel more confident about purchasing your book.

Now that we’ve covered R2R’s, let’s talk a little about regular Reviews and what to expect. There are a lot of different opinions floating around out there on how to or if you should even respond to Reviews, good or bad. I think you have to consider what you want out of being a published author and make the choice that’s right for you.

I do not respond to bad reviews, period. But even if a review is only 3 stars and has mostly positive things to say, then I will ‘like’ it on Goodreads or Twitter. I also do not respond to reviews, good or bad, with words. I will like, love and Re-tweet them. If a review is just Amazeballs and deserves more than just a like, I will find a way to (PM/DM) Private or Direct Message the reviewer to thank them.

My main reasons are as follows:

  • I don’t want the bad reviewers to get the impression that their opinion doesn’t matter. These are Honest Opinions by people who have read my works, and the bad reviews can be just as informative and helpful in bettering my craft/style as a bad Beta Read feedback can be. Remember it’s all about flipping it around into something positive and constructive!
  • If When I become a bestselling author and have thousands of Reviews popping up on various websites, how in the world am I supposed to keep up with all of that and still find time to write more books? Yes – I am reaching for the Moon and the Stars and I want you to do the same! – Realistically, no famous author responds to (all of) their reviews. Go check if you don’t believe me. Because, although they may help sell your books, a review is NOT for you. It is intended to help customers make an informed purchasing decision.

The Disappearing Review: This is a mystical being on Goodreads. I’ve had reviews up and disappear on 2 of my books so far and I don’t want you to freak out if this happens. It might not be a deliberate slam against you – it could just be that the reviewer deleted their Goodreads account and therefore all of their information went bye-bye. A good way to know for sure, is to check your Amazon reviews – if they’re still up there at the same number or higher, then the slight is nothing personal against you.

What if the Review is posted as part of my Release Day Tour?
That is a good question and to me, a completely separate beastie in a way, because most promoters won’t allow their hosts to post a bad review. I always thank my tour hosts, whether they review or not – but I will thank them for the review, if they do. This is possibly the only time I actually ‘respond’ to a review.

The last, but not least option is: The Just Don’t rule. Many published, successful authors don’t just bypass responding to their reviews – they don’t even READ them – and advise against the practice. Once again, this is something that you might want to research beforehand, get a feel for other author’s POV’s, and then make the decision that you feel the most comfortable with.

My only advice when approaching Reviews is this: You’re a professional and whether you like it or not, you have an image to protect. Going off half-cocked on a bad review, or even just attempting to defend your work, or explain some issue the reader didn’t grasp correctly, can and WILL hurt your professional image. Just some food for thought – I can’t tell you what to do.

Next week we’re going to discuss the question: To Pre-Order or not to Pre-order?

Weekly Accomplishment: After not getting a straight answer from Amazon for almost a week on WHY they Blocked my book for Pre-Order, then fighting with them to get a straight answer on HOW I could fix the problem, I’m happy to say that Avarice is now available for Pre-Order on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and iBooks (not sure what the hold up is with B&N) but Whew! KDP really needs to work on their customer service skills! What are you celebrating this week? Please share with us in the comments below, so we have another (more valid) reason for that last glass of wine too many – or the next one. 😉

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

IndependentHi everyone! Soooo… I need to backpedal a little bit.  In hindsight, this probably should’ve been my first Dear Indie post, but as with all things in my journey, I’m learning everything as I go.  I’m here to help, yes – but I am far from being the expert!  With that being said, this week’s post is about saving yourself the headache of last-minute deadlines you might not even be aware of (especially, if you’re a brand new author).  Things no one takes the time to warn you about, that should be done BEFORE your manuscript, and definitely before that beauty is ready to publish.

A Few Beneficial Things to Do in Advance

Build Your Platform: It’s to your advantage not to wait until after your book is for sale to finally create a website and social media accounts.  No one knows who you are, so why would they buy your book?  Establishing a relationship with other readers and writers online prior to releasing your pride and joy to the world will help it go a lot further.  I keep seeing this statement posted in the Indie circles and it is so very true: Piracy is not thy enemy, Anonymity is.  Your biggest threat is to remain invisible, for your books and your “brand” (aka your author name) to remain completely unknown.  So, get out there and make some friends, connect with like minded authors in your genre, follow readers who read what you write – and hopefully, what you read – and be genuine, be yourself, just as you would while interacting face-to-face.  You are representing your brand, what you are trying to sell, so make sure you’re giving it the best first impression you can.

Goodreads: I wish, a hundred times over, that I had known about Goodreads 5 years ago.  Indie’s there is no place on the internet better for you to be, than on Goodreads.  Even if you don’t have a book out yet, you can make a reader profile and then switch it over to a Goodreads Author profile later.  This is the #1 place for all of your living, breathing resources.  Join every group you can that supports Indie Authors and you will never have to look anywhere else for what you need.  Beta Readers, R2R’s, people who will critique your Blurb, Book Cover, Book Trailer, etc. nothing is left out – and the best part is that 95% of the feedback is both genuine and like getting an honest survey filled out by potential buyers, so critical to helping your book have a better chance at success out there on the market.

Goodreads is exactly where I found my amazing Beta Readers and my amazing Editor! Yes, they’re all amazing and I never would’ve connected with them if it weren’t for the Goodreads Groups. It is a vast well of resources you can’t find all in one place anywhere else, so don’t wait – most of the groups are there to help you through the writing process, not just support you once your book is published.

Author Newsletter: You see them all of the time, and you probably subscribe to a few. Maybe you only did it because of a Giveaway or to get Free Content (more on this in a moment) and that’s great – because it’s a long, hassle of a process for an author to even get their newsletter created and launched.  My advice: start now.  You don’t have to offer a Sign Up link to your newsletter yet, but get it created and saved with a free provider asap, or you’re going to be scrambling at the last minute to try to have it ready in time for your book launch.  I haven’t shopped around, but I’m sure there are plenty of providers out there.  I go through MailChimp, as was recommended by Nick Stephenson (I covered his details in my first post) – and if you followed his link from that post, then you’re already aware that having an email list of people who actually want to read your books and are interested in what you have to say is going to be your absolute best resource for book sales in the future.

If you’re not computer savvy, setting up your newsletter could take you awhile. I always thought I was very computer savvy and MailChimp made me feel like a novice.  Not sure if it will be the same on other sites, but this is why I’m recommending you start sooner, rather than later.  Maybe if you know someone more familiar with creating and managing linked forms, you can have them give you a hand.

Marketing/Promotions: Just save yourself the last minute rush and type up your Author Bio and Book Blurb right now.  If your book is already edited – go on and select a couple of areas you’d choose for an excerpt and start thinking about which little flashes of dialogue you want on a Teaser or two.  Why?  Because you have to book your Tours, Cover Reveals and Release Day Blitz’s a lot sooner than you think.  Weeks-to-months in advance.  3-4 weeks out minimum, if you’re lucky enough to find a promotional service offering that (Saints and Sinners does).  Most services want 2-3 months warning.  They’re already so booked up, they can’t fit you in any sooner.

It’s hard thinking like a marketer when you’re in creative writing mode, but trust me, booking tours now is better than not being able to book one at all or when you want to. Best case scenario: you have to push your release date back a few weeks or a month.  Worst case, you launch your book without any promotion and you miss out on all of the “YAY!”, and virtual confetti flying around, that glorious echo of cyber-champagne bottles popping in favor of your brilliant work of literature! – Most importantly, you miss out on the exposure and those initial book sales.  If you do your research, you’ll see that most books sell the most at their launch and that’s all due to how they’re promoted.

Scroll down for a short list of Promoters I know of or have worked with. –  Hint: Promoters always promote themselves, so if you’re checking out someone’s blog tour and you like the style of the layout, the banners, etc. just scroll to the bottom of the post and the company’s name should be listed there, if not all over the banners and teasers.

Note: It’s also important to think about budgeting for a Giveaway to go along with your Release Day Blitz, not only for readers but for the bloggers that sign up to host your tours.  Just a little financial heads up.

FREE Content: Everyone likes free stuff, but when it comes to your work this is not (just) a marketing gimmick.  It is showing readers what you have to offer.  If no one has ever read your writing before, then how can they be sure they’d want to read your book when it comes out?  It’s human nature for us to want “proof” of something, before we spend money on it. We do it all of the time, when we’re shopping around for other people’s services, so why would our readers expect anything less from us?  You, Indie, are your own business and as much as you’d rather hunker down in your writing cave and never look up from your laptop – you have to start behaving like a business owner.

So, if you don’t have anything collecting virtual dust on your computer you could polish up and offer as Free Content to potential readers, then you might want to start thinking about creating something while you’re still hashing out the final touches on your next novel.  A short story, a free chapter of a related book that you haven’t finished yet, deleted content from your upcoming novel.  Offer this for free to your readers without any strings attached.  It’s an advertisement of your style and skills, not a gimmick – and best of all, it’s Free for you, too.  If you already have a book for sale, then let people read the first chapter for free, rather than just the blurb or an excerpt.  I’m getting ready to apply this advice to my own published book. Let your work speak for itself and the readers who are truly interested in you, who love your work and can’t wait for more, will be there when your new book is published.  They will sign up for your newsletter, because you’ve given them a reason to trust in you as a provider of something they want. You’ve proven to be a business they can depend on.  (I know, I just want to curl up in my writing cave, too. I totally understand!)

Okay, here is that list of Book Tour Promoters I promised:

My Family’s Heart
We Love Kink
Saints and Sinners Books
Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains
Goddess Fish Promotions
Once Upon An Alpha
Love, Lust and Erotic Pleasures
Xpresso Book Tours
Words Turn Me On

Now, I leave you with one more helpful post I just found this morning, written by Kory M. Shrum, author of Dying For A Living. It’s about Bookbub.  I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea what Bookbub was all about, until I read her post and now I’m thinking it’s probably a very important site to get familiar with as an Indie author.

Until next week, peeps!

Weekly accomplishment: I finally finished the interior formatting for Collar Me Foxy and got all of my author newsletter forms created and linked to my book! What are you celebrating this week?

Alphas & The Ways We Confuse Them

AlphaMale

Image source: theartofcharm.com

I’ve been seeing a LOT of posts regarding Alphas vs. Alphaholes lately.  Maybe, because it’s approaching April, which is (among many other things) Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

I just read this amazing post over on Naughty Quills that I agree with 99%!

There is so much more to it than just Alpha vs. A-hole, though.  The role of Alpha Male has become so misconstrued it’s practically a stigma.  I think much of this has to do with crossing genres – or rather, readers who read a variety of genres and sub-genres – to the point where Alpha has now become a “Stereotype.”  [stares blandly].  So, let’s see if we can clear up some of the confusion.

  • All Alpha Males are bossy, chauvinistic, unyielding forces of nature that are most likely dangerous and rich.  A true Alpha doesn’t gloat, has manners, has the respect of almost everyone around him because he’s not an a-hole.  True Alphas are more like wolves, who take care of their pack, respect their elders, cherish their young and mate for life or at least make a good effort at it.  Alphas don’t announce they’re alphas.  It just comes naturally.
  • All Alpha Males are BDSM Doms.  Um, no.  No, they are not.
  • All BDSM Doms are Sadists.  Uh, no.  Domination is more about control than inflicting pain. Doms come in just as much of a variety as Alphas do.
  • All submissives are masochists.  No.  No.  Just stop labeling!

Okay, got that little rant out of the way.  Now, let’s look at Genre basics:

Contemporary Romance: It’s romance, possibly chock full of sexual tension, but there aren’t really any graphic details about the act itself.  Sex is a byproduct and not the main theme. If the male protagonist is of the Alpha variety, he’s among the most valiant of Alphas, even if he has scars, but most likely he’s just your average male with a balanced personality type that might have some Alpha qualities. Must have a HEA (Happily Ever After).

Erotic Romance: It’s a romance novel with explicit, graphic, detailed sex scenes and a HEA. It covers all of the sub-genres, to include SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) BDSM.  Even if it skirts into the darker areas of Kink, it is Consensual.  These Alpha Males are the widest variety of personality types ranging from Valiant Alpha to starting off as an A-hole, but once you get past his armor of self-preservation, you find a lot of redeeming qualities.

Dark Erotica: It’s not necessarily a romance novel.  It’s not even required to have a HEA.  If there’s BDSM, it’s more than likely RACK (Risk Awareness Consensual Kink) which covers the heavier areas of BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism) like extreme sexual torture and blood play, or sexual slavery / abduction. It might also have non-consensual and other taboo scenes in it.  It’s DARK for a reason. It doesn’t have to play nice and neither does its characters, especially the ALPHA A-HOLE protagonist who may or may not ever show a single redeemable quality. Ever.

Genres serve a purpose.  Most readers are well aware of which they like and which they don’t, but with the astounding influx of Indie authors that fall under the “Erotic” category, it can get confusing on what’s what.  So keep a close eye on those genre listings.  If you don’t like A-hole Alphas, I would seriously avoid Dark Erotica.  If you’re unsure of a genre’s definition, look it up before you purchase the book.

I agree that as writers we should know the layered variety of Alpha Males.  I fully believe that it’s our job to RESEARCH more than repeat, copy or ‘wing-it,’ especially, if we’re diving into an area we’re not really familiar with.  Writing is our passion, so we should always be learning and evolving and digging deeper- but, I also think that readers should take some responsibility for their choices.  If you didn’t like the way an author portrayed their Alpha Male, then don’t read that author or that series, or that particular genre by that author.

That doesn’t mean that every author writes their Alphas the same.  And if you didn’t realize it was a “Dark Erotica” even though it was listed as such, that’s an oops on you, not the writer. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve done this.  It was my mistake, though, not the author’s. I just wasn’t paying attention to anything other than the fact that the blurb sounded interesting and the cover was all kinds of HAWT.  Those can be so distracting!

Now, here’s where it gets even more complicated.  Not all authors stick with just one genre or sub-genre.  I happen to be one.  This is my crazy ass list:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Erotic Futuristic Romance
  • Erotic SciFi Romance
  • Erotic BDSM Fantasy Romance
  • Erotic Paranormal Romance
  • Dark Erotic BDSM Paranormal Romance

ALL of my male leads are Alpha Males.  NONE of them are the same.  They cover just as much a variety of personality types as you would meet in real life.  They are just as varied as my female leads. Let’s not even get into the massive, downright horrible female protags I’ve read over the past couple of years. I’m probably a rare breed who finds more fault in female characters these days than any of the males.  It seems like the focus of personality is a little one-sided, lately.  Both in writing and reviewing.

Another confusion I see is readers/reviewers trying to measure a paranormal ‘hero’ to a human ‘hero.’  Hello, they’re not human!  That yardstick shouldn’t be anywhere near them.  Why in the world would a [insert supernatural creature/alien here] have the same personality traits as your real life idea of Mr. Right?  Come on, now.

Here’s the bare bones truth:  A bad book is a bad book.  A good book is a good book.  That hasn’t changed, no matter how many new authors there are, or which genre is more popular.

Here’s the 1% I don’t agree with from any of the Alpha vs. A-hole articles I’ve read: Telling writers how to write their characters. That should never be our agenda, just as we should never tell a painter how to paint or a musician how to make music. Writing is an ART and art is a form of expression that should NEVER have restrictions put on it of any kind.  Creative freedom should not be meddled with. You maintain your freedom to write a scathing review, if you feel the need. No one is making you read anything you don’t want to.

So, I’m Being a Snob

GoThereBaby

I do feel that I’m being a little naggy, but where do you – as a blogger, reader, writer, reviewer – draw the line?  I like supporting other authors, whether they’re represented, Indie or both.  There are just some things that I cannot bring myself to post.  Does that make me a snob?  I’m sure some people will think so.

One: Teasers that are confusing, rather than tempting, oddly constructed or have grammar/spelling errors. This is the first impression of your book, it should be just as rigorously edited as your novel.

Two: Teasers, blurbs or reviews from books that have so many references to Fifty Shades of Grey, that if I were E.L. James, I would demand royalties.

  • I really feel the need to elaborate here, because I don’t believe in slander – this is not slander.  This is an honest opinion from a reader who has seen far too many tributes to that famous trilogy that it sadly requires mentioning. Two things to seriously consider as a writer…
  1. Though it may seem impossible to you, not everyone is a fan and their eyes twitch, as they throw your book across the room, because words like Fifty, Shades, Christian and Grey are now triggers. They might be able to recover from one offense, but not multiple.
  2. Imitation is the highest form of flattery – for them, not you. It makes you look like a pretentious fame chaser who doesn’t feel confident enough in their own work.
  • Either way, your book is left unfinished on their reading device of choice and you have potentially lost a follower. Which is too bad, when they obviously bought your book because they wanted to read YOUR work and not someone else’s.  Okay, moving on…

Three: Teasers, blurbs or excerpts that make me never, ever, EVER want to read your book.  Ever.  These tidbits of your novel should be worded to reel readers in, not chase them away while making the bitter-beer face.

Four: Teasers, blurbs, excerpts that are an unexpected, horrific combination of any of the above.

If any or all of that makes me a snob, fine, I’ll take it.  I’m aware that not everyone has the same taste in books, that not everyone would ever post any of my books on their blog and I’m okay with that.  To me, it’s a matter of promoting something you feel positive about and if I can’t get behind a product (or a book) then I’m not going to pretend to by advertising it on my blog.  Not that I have a million followers waiting on bated breath for my awesome posts, but still.  It’s about integrity… and mine’s apparently feeling a little cranky tonight, so I’m gonna end things right here.

Have a good weekend everybody & don’t forget your 3 S’s: Safe, Sane & Sexy! Or was it Snarky, Sinister & Salacious?  Eh, I can never remember… just Adlib it. 😉