I’ve always said that Twitter was one of my most important marketing tools, and I could have been doing better lately. Here are some tips on using some new Twitter functions:
First of all, Moral Hazard is back from the story editor, and the re-writes have begun. This is roughly the speed I’m going to attempt in order to get the book out ASAP. Plus any excuse to add a Big Bang Theory video….
Now on to the tips.
One of the most frustrating aspects of working as an indie author is dealing with iffy technology for uploading and managing books and accounts. Just this week, I’ve had to contact support for two issues in particular that really should have been explained on their websites or in their User’s Manuals. I mean, I can’t be the only person who has had these problems.
Kobo: If your epub won’t upload, you will receive the message that the file could not be uploaded. The only information on the page or User’s Manual says that the file must be below 100 MB and of a certain type. Well, those are not the only two reasons for upload failure. If your epub will not upload to Kobo and it’s smaller than 100 MB, then you most likely have an epub error. Go to an epub validtor, check it, correct the problem, and then try again.
Overdrive: I’ve been trying to log in to my account there for months. I was told to use the “forgot password” function to do this. However, each attempt yielded the following message: “The information entered is incorrect.” This is because Overdrive requires the use of Explorer. You can’t log in with another browser. (I finally got a message that says this after a month of incorrect info messages.) So if you’re having this problem, try Explorer.
While Moral Hazard is at the story editor, I have a bit of downtime. But just a bit. There’s always something to do, like create the cover, write the back cover copy, and, oh, start another project.
After weeks of irregular barn visits, I have gotten to ride Darcy twice so far this week. It’s been glorious. There’s something wonderful about being totally focused on her. It helps clear my mind.
I also started watching the first season of Person of Interest. I really enjoy it so far, but what’s with all the gunshots to the legs of armed threats? I get that Reese’s not interested in killing all these people, but it’s getting a little difficult to believe that these wounds prevent all the bad guys from firing their own weapons back at him. It’s like Alias: everyone got knocked on the back of the head while walking down a dark hallway. Did none of these people learn to check behind them? Or the Walking Dead: close a door behind you, people! But I digress….
I hope you’re getting a little downtime too. What have you been up to?
Anyway, I found the following article by Anna Davies about ghostwriting YA novels. I know that not everything in the publishing world works the way people think it does. For example, when you sell your book to a publisher, you sell your book to a publisher. That means they can basically do whatever they want to it. Depending on your contract, it’s possible that they can turn your book into something totally different from what you wrote.
But I’ve never worked on a project as large scale as juggernaut YA fiction. I knew ghostwriters existed, but I didn’t know it worked like this:
A lot of the major young adult series you see on the shelves — and the ones that have been translated onto the screen — are created by a group of editors, who come up with an outline for the story. For the first few books I wrote, I called out sick from my day job (sorry, work!) so I could head to a conference room and hash out plotlines along with three editors and the “real” writer — who did exist, and who approved all the books once they were written. Click here to read the whole article.
These books that began as the product of one mind can become the products of a group of editors and writers in a way that goes far beyond the author/editor/publisher partnerships that I’ve experienced.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. But it can put things in a more realistic perspective for indie authors. To whom are we comparing ourselves? We might be comparing our one-person enterprise to a team of people who focus group the plots of their series before publication. Or to a writer who doesn’t even exist as an individual.
The cool thing is that indie authors can attain the same feats as these big name authors and writing teams. But remember not to compare yourself too harshly to them as you look out at the aisle of merchandise, movies, and TV shows.
I write a monthly post on Indie Jane, a website that caters to writers and readers of Austen-related works. Over the past few months, I compiled tips and advice for hiring and working with freelance editors, and I’ve been meaning to link them here.
So here they are:
1. Introduction: Let’s Talk about Editing
The most critical part of the pre-publication process is editing. In reviews, readers can leave all sorts of opinions about your characters, plot, and style, but those facets of a book are subjective, open to interpretation. But reviews can also contain objective, provable feedback about typos and spelling and grammar errors. Poor editing stands out, but writers can take simple steps to prevent embarrassing typos by hiring professional editors. Click to read more.
2. Author/Editor Relations: Don’t Treat Your Editor Like a Supercuts
Editing is hard work, and it requires a great deal of time, focus, and concentration. An editor does not approach an editing job as if it is a pleasure read. This is meticulous work. As such, a book that may take the average person 8 hours to read for pleasure will take far, far longer for the editor to edit. And by far, far longer, I mean weeks, or in the case of nonfiction manuscripts with footnotes, I mean months (really awful, horrible months…but I digress). Click to read more.
3. Rates and Services: What to Expect from Your Editor
When your work comes back from the editor, you should be able to recognize it. That means, the editor should not send you back a rewritten or completely reorganized version of your own work. Every suggestion should be made in such a way that the author can either approve or disapprove of it. The author is ultimately responsible for every change made to the manuscript. Editors can only make suggestions. Click to read more.
4. Going Pro: So You Want to Be a Freelance Editor
Thanks to the explosion of self-publishing, the demand for good copy editors and proofreaders is high. Freelance work is far more readily available than it was five (or even two) years ago. That means this is a good time to take on a client and see how the job suits you.
“But how?” you ask. Click to read more.
5. Becoming a Freelance Editor: Corrections and Egos:
There are two things that all equestrians must remember if they want to have a good ride:
- Always relax!
- Never relax!
Here, you might be asking two questions:
- What does that even mean?
- How does it apply to editing? Click to read more.
When researching the science of fear for Riding Fear Free: Help for Fearful Riders and Their Teachers, I learned many surprising facts about how fear works in the brain. As a recovering fearful rider myself, it helped a great deal to learn that fear was the brain’s way of keeping the body safe. One of the most crucial aspects of overcoming fears is learning how to tell if feelings of fear are based on actual circumstances or if you have created a “what if” situation. Is the horse actually about to spook or am I just wondering what would happen if she does spook? Learning to ask good questions about the circumstances that have caused the fear has helped me ride with confidence and have a lot more fun with my horse.
I liked learning how the brain was working, what actual, physical, chemical processes were guiding what was I feeling. So when I began to have trouble motivating myself to write, which is unusual for me, I wondered what was going on in my brain.
I learned some interesting facts from the video embedded below about productivity. Here are the bullet points that helped me:
- Willpower might be a limited resource. You can’t always grit your teeth and muscle through a task. You can’t always force yourself to try harder. (You can’t do that with fear either, btw.)
- Break down each task into small steps. Riding Fear Free encourages people to start where they feel no fear and take the smallest step possible so that they do not induce fear. By adding up these small steps, you can ride fear free. It’s the same with productivity. Have an overall goal–finish Moral Hazard–but then break it down into small chunks that will not overwhelm your brain–today work on chapter 30.
- Get started on a task, and you will be more motivated to finish it. The Zeigarnik Effect shows that starting a task actually makes your brain want to finish it. The brain doesn’t like to leave a task unfinished.
- Work more deliberately. Work hard for a certain period of time and then take a break.
- Give yourself a deadline and document your progress. Tracking your progress will be a reward in itself because you will be able to see and celebrate each small step, which is often forgotten in the bigger picture, as it contributes to the larger goal.
Let me know if this video helps you as much as it has me.
- The Fine Art of Saying No
- Good Fences/Good Neighbors
- Admitting Limitations
I chose “Setting Boundaries” because it most adequately describes today’s topic: deciding what to do with your time and what tasks would be better to delegate or turn down. For me, this is a difficult subject because I’m a people pleaser, and I want to say yes to everyone. I want to help as much as I can, and I want to make the task in question easier for you.
When I first started my independent publishing venture, I said yes to every offer that came along. Would I post on your blog? Yes. Would I order 50 books for your store? Yes. Would you give me advice about editing? Yes.
As I’ve released more books, my workload has increased accordingly. Now, I still want to say yes, but I just don’t have time to do everything. In some cases, I cannot do as good a job as a company or person that may specialize in the task.
Here are some tips for helping to establish boundaries:
- Make your blog useful. I often get questions about self-publishing, editing, and book marketing, and I want to share what I know, so I created categories on this blog to share my views and strategies (for what they’re worth) here online. This means readers can look up the information at their leisure, and I have links to which to direct people who need help.
- State policies and procedures on your website. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there. For example, if you need 10 days to fill an order or if you only take Paypal, then you need to have that on your website so that no one will be surprised that they can’t get their order overnight. People should know what to expect.
- Find specialized help and direct people to it. There are just certain things that I cannot do as well as a business that exists for that purpose. For example, I’m a very small publisher, not a book distributor. While I’m thrilled if people express interest in selling my books in their retail locations, I personally cannot get them the best wholesale deal, guarantee returns, or even get the books shipped in the most expeditious manner. I do have a distributor that can do all those things, and I send interested parties there.
- Realize that your time has value. If you have an interest in mentoring others or, for whatever reason, someone wants to do something that could otherwise be done by them or someone else, then consider billing them for your time. Your time has value.
- Just say no. It’s not always possible to say yes, and when that happens, you should be able to turn down offers without feeling guilty about it. You cannot do it all.
It’s not easy to learn to manage time effectively or to decide when to delegate or turn down offers, but these skills will benefit publishers–and other businesses–in the long run.
I love my job, but one of the more difficult aspects of self-publishing for me has been organization and time management. People who know me will be shocked. On the organizational scale, I fall somewhere between hyper-organized and seriously anal retentive. And as far as motivation goes, I’m the anti-procrastinator: extremely self-motivated with good time-management skills.
So it came as a shock to me too when I began forgetting basic things, like paying Darcy’s board at the end of the month or going for my allergy shots on time. These slips never happened before. And that’s not to mention the fact that my email is backed up, my websites haven’t been updated in ages, I’m behind schedule on Moral Hazard, and I can’t seem to find the time to produce the audiobooks of Southern Fraud.
My old to-do list system isn’t cutting it, and in a world where one email can derail my plan for an entire day, I can’t schedule out my time by the hour and expect that itinerary to work Monday through Friday. Heck, I have a hard time taking “vacations” or even just not thinking about work during my off hours because in self-publishing (and many other vocations these days), there are no official working hours. I’m working all the time. Publishing decisions have to be made on weekends or while on vacation from my phone or laptop on Starbucks Wi-fi. What about grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the toilet, laundry….? Forget about it. I haven’t ridden Darcy regularly in months, and I feel guilty when I’m watching TV or taking a walk because I have so much to do.
And that’s not right. I should have free time, but my schedule is totally unbalanced.
My head–and my house–may explode if I don’t get things under control.
So the remainder of this week is going to be about organization and changing up my system to something that will work with my current work life. I have got to find a workable way of organizing my projects so that I have a balance between work life and the rest of life.
That also means establishing boundaries for my business and personal life. I have to ignore personal phone calls or messages while I’m working and call back later. I have to delegate certain aspects of publishing to companies that specialize in that field, and then I have to direct the appropriate people in those directions. I cannot do everything myself, and if I don’t stop trying to do so, I may lose my mind.
Case in Point: I planned to spend my morning organizing, but instead, I have been researching a brand new opportunity called Kindle MatchBook in which I can now offer discounted Kindle editions of my books to people who have purchased paperbacks through Amazon in the past or desire to do so in the future. I’m super excited about this because I believe you shouldn’t have to buy full-price copies of books every time the technology changes. If you bought a paperback from Amazon and want the Kindle edition, you shouldn’t have to pay full price.
Now you don’t have to! (Or you won’t have to as soon as Amazon’s pages update!)
You can get the Kindle edition of all single-title Whiteley Press, LLC, fiction books for only $.99 with the purchase of the paperback. You can also get the Kindle editions of The Personages of Pride and Prejudice Collection and Riding Fear Free for only $1.99 with the purchase of the paperback. This applies to paperbacks purchased now or in the past!
Was setting up MatchBook discounts time well spent? Heck yeah! But I have to have an organizational system that lets me drop everything for important opportunities without feeling as if I’ve destroyed my progress on all the other projects on the list.
When the first reviewer mentioned that there was a different level of swearing in At Fault than in the previous two books in the Southern Fraud Series, I didn’t think much about it. Then another reader mentioned the amount of swearing on my Facebook page. This morning, I found another review that mentioned swearing in Absolute Liability. Three is a pattern, and so I decided to look more closely at the language I had chosen for the Southern Fraud Thriller series.
That’s right, I counted the swear words in each book. I’m not going to break it down word by word for you because that would be boring, but after a count, it was clear that At Fault had twice as many expletives as the previous books.
I never intended my books to be “clean” mysteries with no foul language, violence, or gore, and I am comfortable with the precedent set by Absolute Liability with regard to language and description. Bad guys swear; cops swear; that’s the way it is. But I do believe that because the books are in a series, I set up expectations in book 1 that needed to be followed in all subsequent volumes. Readers should expect the same type of language and descriptions in all the books in the series based on what they read in the first novel, and I had inadvertently given them something different in book 3.
This morning, I edited At Fault so that the language matched the precedent set by the first two books. In fact, it now has fewer swear words than Death Benefits. I apologize for failing to maintain the precedent I had set and promise to do better in the last three books of the series.
Updates to the ebook versions of At Fault and the box set of Southern Fraud Thrillers are in progress, so please check for them at Amazon, BN, and Kobo in the next 48 hours. Updates take longer at the other retailers, but they should be there in the next week or so.