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What Indie Authors Should Really Be Worrying About

26 Feb

If you didn’t read my post What I Don’t Understand Right Now, you may want to consider it before joining the conversation. Not necessary, but just a little more background info.

What it discusses is my view on the “good enough” situation we’re seeing with a lot of indie publishing. I won’t rehash the whole thing, but I think it’s one of my posts that’s definitely worth reading if you’re a writer and maybe if you’re a reader.

I’ve put some more thought into it as I’ve watched writers tout the successful books that haven’t been edited… the books on the Top 100 lists that are filled with errors and poor grammar and bad writing but have stories that NY isn’t putting out so people are scooping them up like hot cakes (which, have you ever seen people scoop hot cakes?)

The motto seems to be: People will buy horrible products if they’ll enjoy the story. Get more out faster!

Only, people haven’t taken something into consideration: The Acceptance of Indie Publishing.

TAoIP (let’s pretend that’s a real acronym) brings about several changes we’re already beginning to see. First, we’ve already seen Trad Pub writers taking their backlist (typically books that have already been polished, professionally edited, and sold through a publisher) – These books are ready to go. All they need is good formating and a new cover and a whole new generation of readers can pick them up.  

Also, more and more writers who have been working for a long time — honing craft, polishing manuscripts, focusing on the NY standard as their model — are going to move over to publish their manuscripts (those polished, honed, NY standard editing manuscripts) as an indie. Again, they are probably (if they truly are books that slipped through the cracks) only in need of copy editing and formating.

Finally comes the writers watching these other groups do it (or who fit into that group of “do it right, show your pride” I talk about in the link above) who bring NY Standard (I keep wanting to say professional, but there are tons of professional indie writers everywhere) editing and packaging to strong storytelling.

So, look at those three groups. Let’s assume that between all of them, that 70% of the books are also compelling reads.  What happens next?

Well, ask yourself: If you could read a compelling story in a sub-genre that NY doesn’t touch that much that’s done professionally, edited, formated well and copy edited OR a compelling story in a sub-genre that NY doesn’t touch that’s… just a compelling story, which will you choose?

No. Don’t rush. Take a moment. I don’t want you to feel pressured.

Ok, most of us said, “Choice A, Caitie” right?

So, as more and more people join indie publishing the issue isn’t going to be “How will people find me” (which is repeated as the growing issue over and over again on indie sites). The issue is going to become, can my work compete with other indie books in my sub-genre?

If it can’t …. well, good luck.



Self-Publisher’s Letter to Friends & Family

27 Dec

Previously, on Indie Year One (totally pretend I said that in announcer guy voice) I gave you a list of 22 things to do if you wanted your self-published book to be a success.

I got some notes about the list, but I actually got more than one about #21:

Send an email to friends saying how excited you are about this. Share that you’re nervous about doing it without the assistance of a publisher and that their support has been invaluable. I gave my Invisible Posse each a copy. I know what you’re saying, this costs me money and gets me nothing – Dude, say thank you. Always say thank you.

I’m a big believer in saying thank you obviously. If someone works on the book, they get a copy.

But, beyond your writing circle is another circle of supporters: Your friends and family. Those people who have a vague idea that you sit around writing stories, but don’t know much beyond that.

How do you kindly let them know how they can help? I thought I’d give you a little something to work with.


I wanted to thank you for all the support you’ve given me while I wrote and published The Last Single Girl. It meant a lot. Knowing that people believed in me enough to be curious — or nosy in our friends’ cases 😉 — kept me going when the writing got hard.

Several people have asked how they can help me get started on my way to success. Well, a housekeeper and personal chef would be nice, but I’m thinking that’s not what any of you had in mind. Instead, I put together a crash course in Help An Author Friend Out. Anything you feel like doing is appreciated times ten… but, like everything in our friendship… there’s no pressure.

So, here it is:

Obviously people know buying the book helps, but gifting it does too if you know someone who would like it.

And, telling one person about The Last Single Girl grows my circle by a huge percentage. Plus, you won’t believe how many people will buy a book because they “know one of the author’s friends.”

If you’re more into clicking on things to help, check out the amazon page. There’s several ways you can click my page to make me more searchable:

  • You can “Like” the book at the top.
  • If you scroll to the bottom, you can select tags. I’ve already set up tags for:  Contemporary Romance, Humorous Romance, Online Dating, Chick Lit, & Romantic Comedy. Readers have added ones they think are accurate too. Clicking each of those will help strangers find me!
  • At the top of the page you can click on my name. It brings you to my author page on Amazon. On the top, right-hand corner you can hit the “Like” button. You like me, right? 😉

While I don’t suggest friends and family giving me a review (I know you’ll be tainted by your undying love and devotion) if one of your friends lets you know she loved it, suggest she review the book or at least click the star rating she thinks it deserves on Amazon or Goodreads. People really do check those out.

Obviously since I’m entering Struggling Artist World, I’ll be doing all my marketing on the cheap. Helping me out by RTing tweets or linking to contests I throw is great. I always appreciate someone hitting that RT button.

As to the matter of defending my honor: It’s coming. That dreaded bad review is bound to happen. I know what it’s like to watch other writer friends get undeserved bad reviews… Here’s hoping mine is undeserved too! But please, don’t defend my honor. We’ll all rise above and if it deflates me to tears, well that’s just one more reason for us to get together for brownies and margaritas. Every reader has the right to like or dislike every book. My wallet has been saved by more reader reviews than I can say, so I know it goes both ways.

Review sites are a writers best friend online. If you have a favorite site and I didn’t stalk… I mean beg… I mean ask them if they’d like to review SINGLE GIRL, let me know. If you know them, feel free to suggest me. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that but think I really need to get my (spreading from all that time writing) bottom over there, let me know! My writer and reader friends often know wayyyyy more about their favorite sites than I could.

And, just like those darn SAT questions, this paragraph is the None Of The Above answer. While all of those things will help to move me forward, you already helped to get me here. There’s not enough thanks in the world for all of my friends and family for that.

I attached my cover so you don’t have to head over to amazon to check it out, but here’s the link if that’s easier: The Last Single Girl.

Now, about those brownies and margaritas…..

Luuuuuuvvvveeee Caitie

Remember, these are your friends and family. They are not your professional network. Anything they do for you is a favor of love and should be appreciated. Yes! We all have folks we thought would help us out more — or in different ways — but that’s out of your control. You need to just be thankful for everything you’re given and turn that thankfulness into Thank Yous.

We often forget to let everyone know that we appreciate them and that they don’t need to become a marketing fiend for us to know they’re supporting us. Keep it light. Keep it friendly. Let them know nothing is expected.

I highly recommend NOT spamming your entire email box. Send this to only the people who support your writing life or asked. This is true for a couple reasons.

  1. Don’t be that guy – No one loves a spammer.
  2. Don’t write a letter telling people how much you appreciate them if you don’t. False feelings doesn’t make a good friend…or a book sale.
  3. It. Looks. Bad. People talk. Don’t steal the special friendness of the email by letting a friend hear through the grapevine how much you “appreciate the support” of that chick you haven’t seen in three years

So, there it is. A way to get started with your friends and family letter. That wasn’t so painful, was it?

Now, go forth and publish!


It’s in His Kiss – Christmas Freebie!

23 Dec

Merry Christmas!

I am a huge lover of Christmas. The music, the lights, the parties, the seeing people you love… the presents!

And so, to celebrate Christmas this year, I’d love to give away It’s in His Kiss to anyone who hasn’t bought it yet.

KISS is available on Amazon US FREE on Sunday the 23rd. May it give you a break from the shopping madness! 🙂

it's_in_his_kiss_200x300[1] (2)It’s in His Kiss

Jenna’s been letting life pass her by as she works on her career. But, when she needs to do some research of this kissing kind, things may get a little more heated than she expected.
Research has never been so fun.

WARNING: This 11k novella has no vampires, shape shifter or scorching sex, but it might make you snort your diet Coke out your nose.

You can check it out on Goodreads
Read the first scene HERE

I hope your holiday, no matter what you celebrate, is a joyous one.


When The Next Books Are Different

3 Dec

Anyone who has read It’s in His Kiss know that there’s a certain level of… wackiness to it.

Jenna is a bit over the top. Completely by accident. That is probably what makes her so loveable. She doesn’t know that she’s just a weeeeee bit absurd (and to all  you people saying Jenna is me, I say… Um, can we quit asking that while I call her absurd? Maybe just for today? *shifty eyes*)

Plus, on top of that, KISS is 11k words (OR, in NY Publishing speak, 45 pages). It’s easy and enjoyable to read wackiness for an hour (yes, I went and researched Average Reading Speed to figure that out. I am that nerdy.) But, bring that on for a full novel, for 2-4 hours, and it gets exhausting, repetitive, and — yes — boring.

So, while the next three projects (Dec, Jan & Feb – woot!) are still fun and quirky, they aren’t as over the top. Luckily, Jenna has a part in the second two so there will be her sweet, wacky presense… and yes, Ben will be around to even her out. Thank goodness for Ben.

But that brings us to a question. When you’re first story does well and it has a very specific tone, how hard is it for readers to accept a slightly different tone?

Do I worry? Yes. The next story, a 20k holiday novella titled The Last Single Girl, still has zaniness, but Sarah, our beleaguered heroine is much more on her game than Jenna. I’m excited to share her story, and love her for her ability to plow forward through adversity and … well, a lot of craziness I’m not going to spoil here.

I think that’s one of the scariest things about the next book, Single Girl is still funny, still tongue in cheek, still has some absolutely absurd situations, but Sarah navigates them instead of not seeing them and walking straight into them where they blow up on her.

Okay, maybe there is some blowing up. Ridiculousness blowing up is a favorite of mine!

So, the best you can do with any story when it’s done, is love it and set it over there *points* where it can live forever in it’s happy little cover… and understand that the next story might live next door, but every household is different.


When Do You Put a ‘Best Seller’ Note On?

28 Nov

Recently I had an amazing run with my story It’s in His Kiss and had some really great outcomes:

Yup, that’s KISS at #1 in its sub-category! That was a pretty awesome day.

Followed up quickly by this:

KISS made it into the Top 50 in Contemporary Romance, its main category, for both the ebooks and the overall category.

I danced. I shouted. I took screen shots. I just waved when my co-workers looked at me funny during the dancing and shouting.

Someone mentioned I needed to add “Best Seller” to the cover. That got me wondering –> Is this enough? Is this the new Best Seller? Have I been so brainwashed by old-school publishing that I can’t accept it? It was a best seller on Amazon, our number one seller of books. Is that what matters now? Am I qualified to Amazon Best Seller on there?

Should I, I don’t know.

So, I ask you to chime in! What makes a best seller NOW? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments too. I’m famously nosy 😉


22 Steps to Successfully Self-Publishing

28 Aug

There’s a lot to do and consider before Indie Publishing. A friend asked me for my advice and I decided to think it through for a few days and share it here as well.

I put this list together so my friend could make a decision and then start to prepare with as much information as possible. That doesn’t mean I’m blind to the costs. Yes, I had friends who edited. Yes, I have a friend in PR I could go to. Yes, I found a cover for cheap (although, if you follow my blog you know that I waited until I got a good cover. It actually held up publication. Don’t go live with a bad cover, an unedited product, or any other bad corners cut off to spite your face. Also, ignore any mixed-metaphors in this post.)

I worked under the assumption you did all the pre-work. You wrote a good book. You revised and edited and had beta readers and worked that thing until it was so shiny it blinded you. You’ve made a conscious decision to self-publish your book and you asked yourself the two important questions first. Everything on this lists comes after that.

So, here’s the list I came up with. I’m sure as I get further from my original pub date and closer to my next launch, I’ll find a few things to add to it. Right now, I feel pretty confident in handing this off.

Good Luck.

  1. Pay a full service editor. Even with a writing degree and copy editing cert, I want to have the security that it was done and done right. Courtney Milan really convinced me of this.
  2. Edit the book again. Yes, I know. You hired an editor. Some Indie Authors hire two…or three. Maybe you can’t afford that, but hiring at lease one is not the place to skimp. Now, do your writer thing and work through all those edits with your brain on.
  3. Research. Research your genre. Who are they? How are they tagging? Who is selling the most? Why are they selling? What do the best genre book covers look like? Do they blog? What do they blog about? How are they advertising? Don’t move to the next things on the list till you do the research.
  4. A cover. Start looking now. I actually do a run through of some sites to see if I can get another great deal. With the cover for It’s in His Kiss I was lucky to find a double sale for $22 – and I love it. The cover counts a lot.
  5. The Title: Check that the title works for the story, genre and readers. Make it catchy and memorable…If you’re anyone but me, make sure a really, really, really famous author with the same last name doesn’t have a book with the same title *head desk* And seriously, no one in the Invisible Posse picked it up either until I paid for the cover.
  6. Join groups. For example:
    1. Join Kindleboards. There’s a lot of good info and support there.
    2. Romance Divas and the Rom Indie yahoo group. I’m a lurker in both of these places but, they’re great for specific Rom stuff. Find some in your genre.
  7. Join reader forums. No, you’re not going to pimp your book, but you need to be out there where your genre fans are. It’s going to do several things: Keep you in the loop and get your name familiar.Remember, the needs of today’s readers can be filled more quickly by Indie Authors. (To add: If you aren’t a fan of your genre and there anyway for the fun stuff, maybe you’re writing the wrong thing.)
  8. Set up your Amazon author page and author central stuff so you’re ready to go.
  9. Tag your book on Amazon. These help people find your book based on their interests. I also ask people if they liked It’s in His Kiss to please hit the “Like” button at the top. I’ve been told (although I have no proof) this bumps you up the search ranks. Regardless, it is something I look at now – did people like the book enough to come back and hit that button?
    • UPDATE: If they like you as an author, tell them they can also “Like” you personally. If you click the author’s name on any of their book pages, it brings you to their Author Central homepage. Toward the top, right-hand corner is a “Like” button. We’ve been told that magic might happen when you hit certain numbers.
  10. Set up a Goodreads author account separate from your account. I can’t stress this enough. I estimate that about 70% of my sales come from GR reviews and recommendations.
  11. Start blogging and tweeting about it 3 months in advance (during edits) just like you would a trad book deal and share the ride to publication and launch date with your readers. But remember, only talking about your book is boring, rude and exhausting. If you have nothing else to say, maybe just avoid social media.
  12. Write an actual promo plan.
    1. Are you going to advertise? If so, where?
    2. Does your blurb stand alone? Is it well-edited?
    3. Do you have a promo timeline?
  13. Set up a blog tour. Note this isn’t part of the promo plan. Yes, you’ll work it into the plan, but this is a must.
  14. Send out ARCs for review – This is scary, but I’ll definitely do it next time. I had a few reviewers write-up It’s in His Kiss just because. They were so encouraging and I know for a fact their readers tried me because of their reviews.
  15. Giveaways: There are two types of giveaways.
    1. From You: If you have a following, these will go wonderfully. You’re tribe will be looking forward to getting their hands on your book. Do some the week before it comes out and the two weeks after that.
    2. From Others: It wouldn’t hurt to offer free copies to a few places that review or discuss books as reader giveaways. They’ll reach people you’d never be able to on your own.
  16. Schedule your Business Hours. When will you be online networking and marketing? If it’s written down, you’re more likely to do it. Also, you’re more likely to limit yourself to that instead of getting sucked into the *refresh* addiction.
  17. Barter, Beg, Steal… Okay, don’t steal. But, use your resources.

A.  Formatting: This was hard. I stunk at it. On top of that, the wrong version accidentally got uploaded.

If I didn’t have two friends who are gifted come along side me and fix my mess and explain stuff to me, I’d be in a boatload of trouble – One reader told me later (when I mentioned I was having a corrected version uploaded) that she saw the format mess, but was pulled into the story so much that she forgot about it and never let me know.

This was incredibly flattering, but I know the only reason I got away with that was it was a short.

Do not skimp on formatting. Period. It’s the difference between a new reader for life and someone who doesn’t trust you to put out a quality product.

Also, where are you going to publish? I’m currently only on Amazon, but the second check is earmarked for formatting for Smashwords and BN.

B.  Proofing: Yes, even after you pay for an editor the book still needs to be proofed.  At a minimum, find someone you trust to mark it up even as a “finished product” and you’ll be golden. A nice Starbucks card goes a long way here.

  1. Get a cover quote or two. No seriously. If you have the connections or (the you-know-what that rhymes with falls) contact another writer to see if she’d give you one. Who are the successful Indie Authors in your genre?
  2. Set up your budget: How much are you willing to pay total? How much are you willing to pay for each thing? Are you going to do advertising? Where does it work the best (hint: check Kindleboards for this type of data)
  3. Set up a tracking system. I’ll be blogging about this later. But, do not go live without someway to track your expenses and income.

This is a business. Treat it seriously.

  1. Send an email to friends saying how excited you are about this. Share that you’re nervous about doing it without the support of a publisher and that their support has been invaluable. I gave my Invisible Posse each a copy. I know what you’re saying, this costs me money and gets me nothing – Dude, say thank you. Always say thank you.
  2. I’m working on a blog called How To Love Your Indie Friend… because the support needed is more moral. People don’t know how to help and support you if you don’t tell them.

The best advice I can give you: DO NOT RUSH. I know, I know. You can’t wait to get it out there in the world. But do it right and give it the wings it needs to really knock it out of the park (remember, we’re not mocking mixed metaphors today) – So, go forth and be successful.


Back to the Adventure

16 Aug

I’ve been good about posting my weekly numbers…but beyond that, what happened to the adventure?

The adventure lives on.

I’m still learning a lot about indie-publishing. A friend last night pointed me to a blog where the writer went OFF on self-publishers who called themselves “indie” saying we had bastardized (her words) the meaning of the word and basically just a long ranty post meant to put indie (yeah, I said it) writers in their place…and to educate all those poor, poor consumers about why self-publishers are not indie and warn them of the evil that…ok, I’ll stop. The word “evil” may not have actually been used.

What followed was a great discussion (ok, maybe more of me soapboxing) about publishing’s history (dude, it didn’t just start a couple decades ago) and indie music/film tie-ins and the ever changing structure of any industry and how we do not live in the same publishing world we did a decade ago… heck, we don’t live in the same publishing world we did two years ago, or even six months.

We live in a Darwinistic world. Adapt or die.

 Self-publishing is not only here to stay, but it’s becoming more and more viable an option… if done right.

I know people who put more work, editing, copyediting, money, and cover-content focus into their indie book than some mid-list traditional authors get (or do themselves)… Want to hear a dirty little secret?

I’ve had several traditionally published authors admit that they have gotten zero content editing and almost no (if any) copyediting. All of them were at two major houses.

Those gatekeepers? Those ones we’re supposed to trust to turn out great products? It’s becoming more and more commonly known that they can’t always be relied on. I’m not saying ALL publishers or editors. But let’s be honest, some of them.

The responsibility lies with the indie-pubs. We’re going to have to continue to build the indie reputation until the label doesn’t matter. Until all that matters is the product.

So, when trying to stop judging a book by its cover, maybe stop judging it by its source too.

With all these changes in the publishing world, which one do you think is going to shape your world more?

I’d love to know!