Archive | April, 2013

People Want To Know

17 Apr

First off, I’ve written and deleted about 9 posts on what happened here in Boston on Monday and my love and disgust for different reactions from my fellow writers. For me, it became important to just delete those drafts and get back to the week as “normal” even as continued reports roll in.

Thanks to everyone who sent their best wishes.

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NOW, back to our regular scheduled blog post!

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People are starving for information about entry-level Indie publishing. They’re looking for help and opinions and a calm head. They’re looking for people other than the Cult Figures to maybe give a bit of a more rounded view. They’re looking for people at their same level to tell them what’s going on down here.

How do I know this? I know it through my hits and blog follows and retweets and the occasional “I don’t read romance, but your blog/tweets ABCd for me so I bought it. Thank you.”

No. Thank you!

Let’s be honest. I’m nobody important. I’ve written a couple shorts the do fairly well. I have a category length coming out this summer. I have a Super Secret 3-Book Project I’m amazingly excited to share about. But, really – that’s nothing. Not in the world of Indie publishing.

People aren’t coming to my blog/tweets/etc because of my books. They’re coming (lately) because I’ve been posting about what I’m seeing and what I’m learning. They’re coming because they’re looking for like-minded writers who aren’t trying to sell them a process or a gimmick or an idea. They’re coming because the NOISE out there is getting to be too much.

People want to know not what to think, but what to think about.

They want more than the “publish a lot, price low” or whatever your specific mantra is. They want to know about the business of publishing and what it means to them.

It’s great what it means to the Cult Figures… or even what it means to me. But people need the info to know to be able to stop and think, “What does this mean to me? How should I think about putting my books out? What are other people at my level doing?”

Honestly, let’s say I did make it to CF levels? By the time I get there, EVERYTHING will have changed anyway. To say, this is how it’s done in such a fast-moving environment is insane.

To say: This is how I did it this time makes far more sense.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, research is ongoing. But, luckily, we also live in a world where it’s easier to get information.

And that’s were all these hits and tweets and emails come in —  People want it. They want to know more than what’s going on at the Best Selling Level. They want to know how to get there now, not what worked 2 years ago to get people there now.

So, share your thoughts! What’s your personal best practice? What’s the top 1 or 2 things a first timer should be doing now?

~~Caitie~~

Research: Everyone Needs To Do It

12 Apr

Ok, I’m going to be frustratingly vague here, but something keyed me off and you all know what happens next:

BLOG POST!

Someone just pointed out a book about a specific group who lives in a specific place and has a specific culture.

Let me be very clear up front: My family has been part of this specific blah blah blah for 14 generations.

Hey, when I promise “frustratingly vague” I mean it, right? 😉

I clicked on this book because it wasn’t just incidentally taking place in that area but trying to sell off of it. The entire premise is based around it… and the author got it completely wrong. So wrong that for once, I’m actually angry about it.

Let me give an equivalent: If you live in Hyannis Port that makes you a Kennedy, right?

Wrong.

Now, I’m looking at this book and all it’s great reviews and I really just want to scathe. Just want to be like, have you ever even driven through XYZ, because your character wouldn’t be a ABC nor would anyone care if she was. You got your PREMISE completely wrong. I don’t mean details (which we’ve all had to suffer through books that get details wrong (there is no “tall waterfall” on the Charles in Boston)), I mean the PREMISE. The big “This Is The Idea Behind The Book.” And I’m even more horrified to find out this author is writing a SERIES around this town/community/group when he has no flipping idea what he’s talking about.

When I read the blurb (and then some of the reviews) it became obvious he continued down this path with details too.

Here’s the problem, folks: Contemporary authors need to research. Don’t lie to yourself and think every place is the same. I’d shoot you down for stereotyping people… I’ll shoot you down for stereotyping a place or era as well.

This author… Well, I’ll never pick up anything by him. I’m ridiculously ticked off just reading the premise, I can’t imagine reading his book. BUT! CAITIE! What if he writes about something else later? you ask.

What if he does? He’s shown me he has absolutely no care or concern for his craft. He doesn’t care about anything other than The Big Idea. I don’t trust authors like that to honor their characters, setting or story… especially if those things are based on very real things.

Your job, if you want to take a page from real life, is to honor it. I don’t mean copy it or nail it, I mean honor it. This story is so insulting to the community by pigeon-holing it in a way that isn’t even true that I’m disgusted.

So, don’t lose your writers before they hit buy. If you want to write about somewhere/someone(s) real, do your research. Go there or talk to people from there… not outsiders. Don’t let someone outside a group tell you who the group really is. No one knows the inner workings of a community from the outside.

I’ve crossed this author off my To Buy list forever, not just because I’m personally insulted by his premise, but because he’s lost my trust as an author.

~~Caitie~~

The Anti-Marketer

10 Apr

That’s me. The anti-marketer. Maybe I should cap it like a title: The Anti-Marketer.

Everytime I try to do some type of marketing thing, it turns into a big fail. I mean like, zero sales for that period. Obviously, not the point of marketing. I actually bought a fairly large ad on a big romance site and was put on a page with some heavy-hitters…. sales drop to zero. I did an interview with someone who focuses on hand selling indie books she liked…. sales drop to zero. It goes on.

I stopped doing marketing for this reason. I’ve actually been asked not to RT someone’s launch kiddingly… Geez, I hope it was kiddingly!

Now, here I am in April, traditionally the worst sales month for me, with horrible sales and an eh-showing in the Best Indie Romance Novella finals (go vote! go vote!) and wondering, what’s an Anti-Marketer to do?

I can tell from my sales when there’s been chatter or a good review from someone with a following. Readers trust readers. I know that’s true for me. Most of my book purchases are based on word-of-mouth or reviews. But, word-of-mouth (true, honest WoM) can’t be bought, brought, or bribed for. I don’t believe in spamming or “casually” bringing up my book places that are meant for readers not writers.

So, here I am, riding out April and wondering if there’s some secret Marketing Club where any attempt to share the word about your book doesn’t kill your sales. Sometimes, just writing the next book is all you can do… not for the marketing (although so many writers swear by that) but for the sanity.

This is one of the reasons I think it’s important to track sales. I know April is not my friend. Maybe I’ll start naming all the antagonists April and just get it out of my system that way.

My point? If you don’t know when your downtimes are, when they hit they’re always going to hit hard. They’re always going to feel like the end of the world. They’re always going to give you something to worry about. And, if you’re an Anti-Marketer, it forces you to stop and ask, what if this time was different? What if this time I tried something and it worked.

Me, I have two books due to editors in the next month. I think I’ll go focus on that.

Good luck with that darn April, everyone.

~~Caitie~~

When It’s Embarrassing to be Indie

7 Apr

I know most of you are guessing the answer is: When people ask who your publisher is.

Nope. Although, I always think that’s funny because how many people can name the publisher of the last ten books they’ve read? Right.

No. Lately I’ve been embarrassed to be an Indie because of all the anger and arguing.

I really don’t care who has what opinion about each topic. Personally, I like to look at things from every angle and make my own decision. Do I need an editor? (Yes) Will I have someone do my covers? (Yes…and your welcome (I have no talent)) Do I have an agent? (Yes) Will I only write full length novels? (No) Will I only write in one genre to build a niche audience? (No) Do I think self-publishing is the only/fastest/best way to be successful? (No) etc.

There are tons of questions that get bounced around the indie world. I work hard by researching, asking people I trust, using my own business consulting background, and thinking long-term to make each decision… FOR ME.

Maybe I should bold those last two words too.

The amazing thing I’m seeing in the Indie world right now is how right everyone wants –needs– to be. Or needs their Celebrity Indie Author of Choice to be.

I’m betting this is because there’s so much going-it-alone in the business (if you haven’t found a safe haven of other writers), but this isn’t really what embarrasses me either.

It’s how people handle it. On twitter, review comments, forums, loops, articles, comments….anywhere you can have a voice. Indies seem to be responding with loud, aggressive, trash-talking, emotional attacks. No. Not all indies. There’s a ton of writers handling difficult conversations with grace (or not getting involved) but just like any thing, the loudest, most embarrassing replies always get retweeted (or the equivalent) until they’re seen as the norm.

Just ask anyone of any faith in this country how quickly one or two crazies who claim their faith as their own has the entire country thinking they’re all nuts… That, my friends, is how I’ve been feeling about being Indie of late.

Here’s one place where I don’t think there’s a lot of give: If you wanted to be treated like a professional, you must act like a professional.

That goes beyond how you produce your books and pay your taxes. That goes right on through to how you behave in public, represent your brand, and treat others.

So, to everyone who is judging Indies as unprofessional based on some of the brouhahas you might have seen lately… look deeper. There’s some talented people who know the best way to “win” is to not engage and go work on their next book.

Peas and carrots, out.

~~Caitie~~

Going Indie: What They Don’t Tell You

5 Apr

This is one of those posts that’s going to tick off a large majority of inde writers.

I seem to write a lot of them.

Anyway, I’m gearing up to go on a fairly large publishing sprint (New Theories in Love stories and a surprise series coming out this summer.) But, with all that going on, it’s kind of a game changer.

My expenses are going up (paying editors for each series and proofers. A new cover artist. I’m going to hire a formatter because I figured out I’m talentless BUT I want to put the new stuff out on Barnes & Noble, Kobo & Apple) as well as (hopefully) more income means I have to stop, drop and roll.

I mean, stop and figure out a lot for my new business… because, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.

But, the more I dig, the more I realize I just wasn’t ready. There’s tons everyone knows they need to do (edits, formating, etc) but the “other stuff” can really add up. I feel like you don’t see these talked about as much. You see a lot of “make sure it’s clean” and things like explanations of KDP Select, but then there’s this whole other business world side.

Here’s the things I’ve found I need to look into:

  • Finding a second editor to balance the workload (5 books in 5 months – who has the time?)
  • Finding a cover artist who really can make gorgeous covers AND brand the books (I’m SO excited about how this one is moving. I can’t wait to share in *glances at calendar* Okay… so about 1.5 months.)
  • Business structure. If I’m going to make enough to deal with taxes on a higher level, then I should figure that out now. I had no idea that some of the carriers won’t let you move your sales history from your personal tax number to your company tax number when you make that decision.
  • So, a company name to go with that business structure…. I’m pretty sure I’ve nailed this down. It makes me kind of giggle.
  • A formatter — Still looking!
  • Getting people involved in reading your stuff. I do like to have some beta readers, but I can see I’m going to burn my Invisible Posse out soon (and feel like I’m taking advantage) if I don’t rethink how I do this.
  • The mailing list. I’m really glad I set this up. It was an accident. A reader emailed me and asked to be put on my list. Of course I wrote back, Sure! No problem! Thanks for the interest, that’s so sweet! (INTERNAL: Mailing list??? Crud! I don’t have no stinking mailing list!)
    • If you’re interested, it’s not that little link on the left hand side 🙂
  • Websites: Yes, plural. I want to formalize this one a bit, make it a bit more visitor friendly and still have it tie into the one I’ll have to create for the other series (you starting to ponder the secret yet?)… Not my skill set.
  • Which means domain names and switching to WP.org and finding themes that I can somehow figure out how to put on my site and magically learn how to make them pretty and useable.
  • ISBNs – when do you need them? When do you want them?
  • Copy right – Again, when and when?
  • Barcodes – Wait, what? Barcodes for Createspace? *adds to research*
  • Oh yeah. Taxes. I have to figure that out this weekend.

Who knows what’s NOT on the list. Maybe I’ll have to come back and update it a week or two… or when I get home from work.

But the point is, to make the decision to run your writing career like a small business, there’s tons that pops up to consider. Giving yourself enough time to deal with it as it comes (and lucking out to have some go-to people for help) is vital.

If you’re even considering going indie, start thinking about these things now!

Now, I’m off to check my to do list.

~~Caitie~~