Category Archives: pros and cons of self-publishing

KLAW TV Interview

Hey there! Just a quick post to let you know that my interview with Kitsap Literary Artists and Writers for local access TV station BKAT is live on YouTube. You can watch it here:

Looks like I’m about to strangle the interviewer, doesn’t it? Well, you should watch it to find out if I do 🙂  Interviewer Mark Miller went a tad off script, which made things interesting, and I had a blast (even though I was fighting an epic case of allergies that day…)

 


Winning

Home Office, Workstation, Office

Here’s an interesting post from Nathan Bransford that asks the question are you really doing what you love, or just trying to win?  For someone who is quasi-competitive (when I feel like it, basically, which isn’t all that often), it brings up some good points. The last few years have been a whirlwind of writing & promotion & connecting with readers & traveling and it felt like I hadn’t taken a deep breath in a long time. I write 2 books a year, which is a great pace for me. But I’ve been reading about authors getting caught up in the whole, “you need to publish 6 books a year” (or 3, or 12–take your pick) or readers will forget all about you and you’ll fade into obscurity.

And I thought, “In the great scheme of things, does that really matter?”

Don’t get me wrong. I love having people read my work. LOVE it. But I don’t want this gig to become just another day job. Because boredom. Because unfulfilled. And if I gave myself over to “winning” this game, that’s what would happen. (YMMV) It would become just another thing I did, rather than a vocation.

When I asked myself the questions at the end of Bransford’s post I realized I seriously love to write and will do it as long as I can string words together in a coherent fashion. I have goals that I’ve achieved and some that I haven’t. I’ll keep working toward them as I’ve always done–that’s just how I roll. But it’s good to occasionally remind myself why I do this–yes, most definitely for the wonderful relationships that have come from being a writer (readers, other writers, etc.)–and yes, for the money I earn from creating something out of a seriously twisted imagination–and a big, huge hell yes for the love of the craft.

Not the love of the game.


The Smell of Cordite Hung in the Air

Woman with Smoking Gun by Clarence F. UnderwoodSo I’m reading away on the first in series of a new-to-me thriller author, enjoying the story line and the protagonist (tortured male assassin–one of my favorite kind of characters. Cliché, I know, but I still love ’em) and I come to the line “The smell of cordite hung heavy in the air” (or something like that).  As I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post, there just might be something wrong with that.

Well, yeah.

Back when I was a newbie to the crime genre, I read as many crime novels as I could find, and it didn’t matter what year they were published. Often, I’d come across the cordite reference and I wondered, “what the heck is cordite?” So I looked it up. Turns out, cordite was a propellant much like gunpowder, used mainly in the UK.

Notice the past tense.

That’s because cordite is no longer around and it hasn’t been used since WWII. Now, I’m not trying to be all snarky about accuracy in books, since I’ve made mistakes in my own fiction (like using the word clip for magazine. Got called on that one a couple of times.) But the author claims to have several experts read their work for accuracy and it makes me wonder how “expert” those folks really are. This author is independently published, but I’ve read a few books by traditionally published, well-known thriller authors who used the same reference in fairly recent books. Aren’t they supposed to have fact-checkers? Or at least a good editor?

Oh, well.

I’ve also read books where the character flipped the safety off on a Glock. A Glock doesn’t have an external safety . After reading the most recent book with that reference I gave the author the benefit of the doubt since guns weren’t their forte, and because it didn’t throw me too far out of the story. I do that with most of the books I read. Being an author myself, I realize how hard it is to make sure unfamiliar subjects are accurate, and the best you can do is research and try very hard to get it right. If the rest of the book is compelling, then a mistake here and there isn’t a deal breaker, at least for me.

The one thing that does make me throw the book across the room, though, and I’ve touched on this before, is when a male writer tries to write a female and either makes her a one-dimensional, convenient character, or puts lipstick on a dude and calls it good.

Ugh.

But, then again, being female is one subject where I have plenty of experience  🙂

How about you? Do you give authors the benefit of the doubt when you notice a mistake, or do you throw the book across the room? Better yet, do you tell them?


More From the Author Earnings Report

Thought I’d follow up that last post on Author Earnings with this one that includes both Kris Rusch’s and Passive Guy’s assessment of the data:

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/10/2015/kris-rusch-on-author-earnings/

Takeaway? Taking into consideration the obvious pro-indie bent of both Rusch and PG, the data apparently supports the idea that if you want the best possible chance of making a living as a writer, then Indie is the way to go.

…but we already knew that, didn’t we? 🙂


Author Earnings Tracked over 7 Quarters

Interesting news…well worth a read if you’re considering “going indie” or taking the traditional route.

http://authorearnings.com/report/individual-author-earnings-tracked-across-7-quarters-feb-2014-sept-2015/


Where Did Summer Go: Part 1?

Holy cow! Where did August go? That’s the first time an entire month whooshed by so fast I was caught unprepared for the next. When I finally lifted my head up and realized it was September, I decided to take stock of the month to see why I was stumbling around in a daze with my coffee cup held out as I blinked from the blinding sunlight. (I’ve now switched to straight espresso and wear sunglasses…hasn’t helped.)

Cargo 3DAugust 1st saw the release of CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller. Book launches always seem to consume more time and energy than I remember from the last one, and CARGO was no different. Add to that putting the finishing touches on the new website, signing off on new covers for the series, and making SERIAL DATE permafree, not to mention my parents being here for an extended visit, and the first week barely registered.

The second week of August had me scrambling to get everything into place before the big promotional push for SERIAL DATE, which was August 11th. I was lucky enough to score an ad with both Bookbub and EreaderNewsToday and can I just say, WOW.  The amount of downloads was stunning, with sales of the second, third, and fourth books shifting at a brisk pace (including print, eBook, and audiobook). Peripherally, the Kate Jones series also picked up several new readers. I’d decided to make the first in the series permafree across all platforms, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Sales continue on all of the sites, as do new reviews.cover for Serial Date

Which brings me to the one caveat I have in doing this kind of promotion for a free book: you’re opening said book up to a LOT of people who will download and read it, even if it’s not in their preferred genre, which is great and all, but keep in mind that book is, in all probability, going to start racking up some not so great reviews. As of this writing, the book has garnered a few 1- and 2-star reviews from folks who, in no uncertain terms, REALLY did not like the book. I’m absolutely fine with that, since SERIAL DATE has a boatload of profanity and some seriously twisted scenes. Unfortunately, I can’t control what people think (except in my books 🙂 ) and always expect differences of opinion, most obviously with this book. But, be prepared–especially if you’ve written something that isn’t exactly all kumbaya…

Next, I took a break from August 14-16 to drive up to Mount Rainier with my family, where we stayed at Paradise Inn for two nights. We all had a fabulous time: the food was great,

dining room at Paradise Inn

photo of Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainierthe weather was phenomenally clear (we saw the mountain all three days, which is unheard of–she makes her own weather and her peak is generally obscured by clouds),

photo of Mt Rainier

and the hiking sublime.

DV hiking

The first night we went to to a presentation by a couple of visiting astronomers and it was clear enough to see the Milky Way and several different constellations–we were at the tail end of the Perseid meteor showers, too, and saw a plethora of shooting stars. The next day Mark & I hiked the Skyline Trail and got up close and personal to Nisqually Glacier. As an Eagle Scout Mark had hiked the trail many times with his troop, and hadn’t seen the glacier for several years. He was shocked by how much it has receded. Still and all, it was an amazing visit.photo of Mark on Skyline Trail

A day after we got back from Rainier, I flew to Appleton, Wisconsin to attend the fabulous Writers’ Police Academy. Stay tuned for Where Did Summer Go: Part 2 tomorrow…

 

 


The Body Market: Prepare to Launch

Cover for The Body Market

I’m ecstatic to announce that The Body Market is now available for pre-order on Amazon at the SPECIAL PRE-ORDER price of $ .99 (iBooks, BN, KOBO coming soon) After release day (January 8) the price goes up to $3.99, so get yours today 😀

You’re welcome.

Holy crap is getting a book ready for publication a LOT of work. Like anything painful, you forget in the interim how much hard work each book takes. Fun, yes, but a helluva lot of details. Not only do you have to keep track of the twisty plot and sub-plots, and all those pesky character details, but once all the writing’s done, there’s an effing checklist you have to go over (and over) in order to get your ducks in a row to publish.

Especially when you’re attempting a pre-order. As we all pretty well know by now, I am NOT a patient woman. Waiting for much of anything drives me to drink (short drive) and I will do anything, ANYTHING to keep from having to do so. The microwave is my best friend and I’m known for finishing dinner waaaay before anyone else at the table. (Okay, that may be a holdover from when I worked in the restaurant industry. There’s only so much time to take a break so you can stuff food into your mouth during a busy shift.) So why the hell did I decide to do a pre-order?

I have no idea. It sounded like fun at the time.

Ah, the halcyon days when I thought all I had to do to when I wrote The End was to make sure the book was edited, dream up a description and a suitable cover, format it so it would work in Smashword’s meatgrinder, do a couple of blog posts, and voila! Published book!

Now? Not so much. As they say, the more you know, the more you know.

Ack.

So now, in addition to stuff like work with my (awesome) editor, create a cover, write the description and tagline, and format the eBook, I get to:

  1. update the back matter in all of my other books with links to the new title–on Amazon, Smashwords, BN, etc.;
  2. re-format my other books because I’m doing things a little differently now, and want to be consistent (which I’m beginning to think is HIGHLY overrated);
  3. change covers in the series to more effectively ‘brand’ them (don’t you just hate the word brand? These are not steers, for crying out loud);
  4. get my newsletter ready and generate coupons, write copy, etc. (you too can participate in coupon therapy: join my newsletter and I’ll send you exclusive subscriber stuff, too! The next one’s due out Saturday…)
  5. work on blog posts and contact virtual book tour companies to set up something because, you know, I’m actually ahead of the game this time. Sort of… ;
  6. contact reviewers and send out Advance Reader Copies (ARC) for release day reviews. **Note: If you’re interested in reading and reviewing The Body Market by January 8 and will post your review on Amazon and/or any of the other sites on that same day, shoot me an email at dvb (at) dvberkom (dot) com and I’d be more than happy to send you an ARC in any e-format you’d like 🙂 ;
  7. create a print cover and interior files so the print version will be available around the release date;
  8. Do a GoodReads giveaway;
  9. update my website, blog, and a bunch of other places where I’ve listed my books;
  10. develop an advertising plan of attack–which I should have done last summer, apparently.File:Cinderella - Project Gutenberg etext 19993.jpg

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something incredibly important, but there’s the gist of it. I knew when I went indie that I’d be responsible for everything–in fact, that’s why I  became an indie. I love the whole hands-on aspect of self-publishing and I find the challenge invigorating.  But, there are days I wish my fairy godmother would come down out of the ether, whisk me away to some Zen-like retreat, and hand me a glass of wine as she murmurs in my ear, “There, there, Dear. Don’t you worry your little head. Leave the details to me…

If you’d like to pre-order The Body Market (Leine Basso Thriller #3), click here. I’d be ever so grateful. The description is below:

A retired assassin is called in when a celebration south of the border turns into a nightmare.

Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, who was last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body stuffed inside the trunk, and is then warned away by the local cartel, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse.

In the dangerous world of organized crime, there’s always a worse.

As time runs out, Leine races to uncover the real reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance and learns powerful interests are willing to go to great lengths to keep her from the truth.

***The Body Market is the 3rd book in the Leine Basso Thriller series, but can be read as a stand alone.

 

 

 

 

 


10 Beliefs that can block success in self publishing

Number tenA little late, but here’s a link to a great post on 10 obsolete beliefs that can block self-publishing success by Anne R. Allen.

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2014/08/10-obsolete-beliefs-that-can-block-self.html


Editing Your Manuscript

CreativeHere’s a dandy post on Anne R. Allen’s blog by Ruth Harris explaining types of editors and why you need one.


Awesome Authors– Polly Iyer

picture of the authorToday on Awesome Authors I get to interview the lovely and talented Polly Iyer.  As fellow suspense authors, Polly and I have crossed paths through the years and tend to be members of many of the same groups/forums. In that time if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Polly, you definitely know where you stand with her–and believe me, in this biz that’s tres refreshing 😀

Here’s her bio (from the author): Polly Iyer is the author of six suspense novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and two books–soon to be a third–in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games and Goddess of the Moon. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. She grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. After living in Rome, Italy, Boston, and Atlanta, she now makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. She spends her time thinking of ways to make life difficult for her characters. Learn more about her at PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.

“The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really.”

D: Hi Polly! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.

P: Thanks for having me, D.V. I started out as fashion illustrator when department stores actually employed people to draw their ads. I worked for Fairchild Publications out of New England, which included Women’s Wear Daily and W. Then I switched to commercial art when I moved to Atlanta and drew storyboards for television commercials. When my husband and I started an import/design business, I stopped drawing. I’m really not sure artists do what I did back then anymore. Computers have taken over that field. The import business led to a home furnishings store, along with a custom frame shop. So I still worked in the arts. Then the writing bug hit, and goodbye store. I promise this is my last career.

D: Sounds familiar 🙂 Tell us about your latest release in two sentences.cover for threads

P: Threads took 13 years for me to write and publish. It’s about a woman’s worst nightmare.

D: You write in a few different genres, including mystery/suspense and erotica. How difficult is it to switch gears between the different genres? How do you handle writing under a pseudonym as well as your own name (e.g., marketing, fans, etc.)?

P: This is a tough one, because my erotic author persona is the forgotten stepchild. I started out paying attention to her, but after three books I really haven’t promoted her as much as I should. Actually, I kind of let her go. I do have another book half-finished, and I may start bringing her back. She doesn’t feel like me, so that’s a problem. Besides, she’s cuter and younger and makes me jealous.

D: LOL. Why did you decide to “go indie”? What was your road to publication like?

P: I wrote my first erotic romance because I thought it might be a way to break into publishing, though I’d never read the genre. I was right and found two great epublishers for my books while my agent tried to find publishers for a couple of my suspense novels. When that didn’t happen, I decided to publish them myself. It was a good decision, and I’ve never looked back. I now have six books on Amazon with a couple of others on the way.

“Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor.”

D: What kind of marketing has worked best for you?

P: I’m really not sure I can pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. I love Facebook for the camaraderie, but I try not to pimp my books unless I have a reason. I don’t like Twitter. I do it, but I don’t like it. Does it work? I have friends who swear by it. Of course, they have 40K followers. That would take too much time for me. Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor. That meant my books would be on all the platforms—B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.—libraries, and foreign wholesalers. I wish I could say that worked, but it didn’t. I gave it a year and feel now that I lost a good bit of revenue by doing that. I went back on Select. I made more on borrows in the first month than I made in any month with the distributor. I offered a couple of free books, and my sales have definitely increased. So that has worked for me better than all the social media, and I didn’t have to do much pushing my books or me down anyone’s throat.

D: I totally get not wanting to force books down people’s throat. Readers don’t like it.

What’s your process like? Do you sit down with an idea and just go with it, or do you plot the story, do character sketches, etc., or something in between?

P: I get an idea and just go with it. I don’t plot, but I know where I want to end up. The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really. I get into their heads as if I were them. I had wanted to be an actress when I was young, so maybe that’s my way of acting. All I know is it works. I edit as I go because as the story develops, earlier plot points have to be changed, and I’m afraid I’ll forget to do that. I don’t trust myself to do it later. Things come up in my stories that I know I never would have thought of if I’d plotted. I’ve written ten books that way and a few I haven’t finished, so it works for me.

D: As indies, we need to know about every facet of publishing from self-editing to marketing to formatting to cover design to accounting. Which of these do you tackle and which do you hire out, if any?

P: I mentioned self-editing, but when I’m finished, I turn it over to an editor who’s a writer and a grammarian, Ellis Vidler. She’s a critique partner and friend, so we keep in touch on a daily basis anyway, and we’re there for each other when needed. I also have another excellent critique partner, Maggie Toussaint. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I do my own formatting for ebooks and for paperback. I also do all my own covers. After a career in the arts, it’s one way of keeping my tired old hands in the visually creative part of writing. Besides, it’s what I did, and I doubt I’d be happy with anyone else’s vision of my books.

“Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know.”

D: What are you currently working on?

cover for BacklashP: I’m working on the third book of the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Backlash. This one has been especially difficult because I’m a stand-alone writer and love to develop the characters. That’s harder to do as a series progresses, which is why series get tired unless we can find something new to write about the characters. I’m almost finished. It’s also hard to keep the quality up to what readers of the first two books expect. I would hate to disappoint them.

D: Which writers have inspired you?

P: I’ve always been a reader of dark novels. I love Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, early Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Robert Crais. For lighter fare, I love some of the writers of the 70s like Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Leon Uris, and Judith Kranz. They wrote good stories I loved reading.

D: What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?

P: Worst? Write what you know. Why would I? Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know. Now if I were an ex-secret agent or an adventurer, maybe I would. But I’m not. I have a good imagination, and I use it. Best advice? Write what I want to write the way I want to write it. I can’t write to the market just to sell books. I don’t play safe, and that’s the way I like it.

“Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know.”

D: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

P: Get readers who will tell you the truth to read your manuscripts. And get an editor. Join groups. Keep up with what’s going on in the publishing business. Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know. I sure didn’t, not that I know everything now.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

P: Doing what I’m doing now. This is my most fun career because I can become so many other people.

D: Where do you think publishing is headed?

P: If publishers and Amazon can stop their silly power plays, the future of publishing should embrace both electronic and paper books. I’d like to see new respect to indie authors instead of the distinctions being made that separate us into two camps. I just went to a big conference and was barred from being on a panel because I wasn’t traditionally published. I saw first-time authors on the panels who had no portfolio of reviews and rankings. That should stop, and I hope it does.

D: My sentiments, exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Polly–good luck with Backlash!

P: Again, D.V., thanks for having me. Your questions were fun and made me think.

D: Here’s an excerpt from Polly’s book, Threads:

(Begin EXCERPT:)

The artsy crowd packed the gallery’s opening night. Once inside, Alan grabbed two champagne flutes off the tray of a roaming waiter, giving him the eye and getting one back.

“Half the city’s here. Hey, check out that couple,” he whispered in Miranda’s ear. “I’ll tell you all about those two tomorrow. Scandalous. Clue―that’s not his wife. In fact,” Alan cupped his hand around her ear, “she’s not a she.”

“Huh? You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Oh, there’s Jeffrey. Mind if I go over and thank him for cluing us in on this?”

Miranda waved him on. “I’m a big girl, Alan. I can take care of myself.”

“Be right back.”

She stole another peek at the object of Alan’s gossip―sheesh, who’d’ve thought? After stopping to chat with a few acquaintances, she continued her stroll around the gallery, listening to varying reviews of the art.

The paintings, displayed on white walls with halogen spots, hung in three different abstract groups―figuratives, landscapes, and paintings the art world might describe as “what the fuck.” The artist had wielded his brush with thick, vibrant color, creating an impression of movement and energy. Miranda stood back, sipped her champagne, and squinted at each one. The portraits were easy to distinguish as were the landscapes, but she couldn’t for the life of her define the subject matter of the third category, and their titles didn’t help. Dream #1 was anything but dreamy. More like a nightmare.

“Well, what do you think?” a deep, slightly accented voice from behind her asked. “Do you like them?”

She turned to the tall, exotically handsome man who asked her opinion. He wore his dark brown hair long enough to partially cover a small diamond stud, and his smile revealed unnaturally white teeth. But his most riveting feature was his eyes―black and piercing and intensely focused on her. Heat rose on her face as those same eyes flashed with amusement at the obvious impact he had on her. She couldn’t help herself. The man could have been a movie-star idol.

“I haven’t had a chance to study them all,” she said, “but I like a few.”

“And the others?”

She stood back, deliberating, then faced him square on. “Suck.”

Gorgeous burst out laughing. People turned to see what happened. “I love it. A breath of fresh air.”

“Well, I mean, take that one.” She pointed to a large canvas with a black figure embracing a red figure. “Who are they supposed to be? Fred and Ginger?”

“The black figure is Medea.”

“What’s she doing? Is she―” Miranda stopped when she figured out the action in the painting. She shuddered. “Now I know I don’t like it. The artist―what’s his name, I forgot―must be a whack job.”

“Hmm, could be.”

“Where is he anyway? Point him out.”

A subtle bow accompanied his offered hand. “Stephen Baltraine, at your service,” he said with a playful smile. His gaze remained on her face, exactly where it had been throughout their conversation.

Miranda’s cheeks flamed. “My father always said anyone asking my opinion better be ready for it.” She forced a smile. “I should learn to keep my mouth shut until I know who I’m talking to.”

“I’m just glad you spoke softly.”

“I don’t suppose I could start over and say it’s fabulously frenetic and original, could I?”

He leaned into her. “Not a chance.

(End EXCERPT)

You can find out more about Polly Iyer at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Audible.

 


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