Dealing With the Book Baby Blues

After months, or even years of incubating, brainstorming, plot forming, typing away your days, and sacrificing precious morsels of your life for the greater good of your project, you put the finishing touches to your book baby and sent it out through Amazon’s birth canal…

Now what?

If you’re like me, it goes a bit like this:

*Rides tsunami publishing high for 24-48 hours*

*Refreshes Amazon every 3-5 minutes to check ranking*

*Until that moment when the numbers start to get bigger again*

*rank plummets as if book baby were an anchor in the Mariana Trench*

*cue depression, self-loathing, heavy drinking perhaps, followed by tantrums, whining, tears, more drinking, etc*

Somewhere around a week postpartum, suddenly, that shiny and new, precious lil book cherub starts to keep you up at night. You feel inadequate, worried that you may have overestimated your abilities. You wonder what in f*ck’s name you were thinking when you decided to become a book-mom-or-dad in the first place, because you obviously aren’t fitting the bill. You aren’t rich yet. Your ARCs bailed on you, or a lot of them did. You let people down because your baby didn’t come out the way they wanted. They were hoping for curly locks, but yours came out with straight, black hair and a funny birthmark that looks like a middle finger. Who knew? You curse yourself, embarrassed because you should’ve seen it coming. You should’ve prepared better. Maybe you should’ve paid the extra bucks for one of those fancy genetics Docs to enhance its DNA with bells and whistles and curls and what-have-you, so that he and she and they would all be happy and love you and all your book babes for all eternity.

But alas, the realizations come.

a) You did the best you could do, and that’s all you could do,

OR

b) Maybe, you didn’t.

Both of these realizations are difficult to swallow. With the first, it’s both frustrating and empowering, because DAMN. There is nothing more you could’ve done. How your baby is received into the world is out of your control. But also–> DAMN! You did a hell of an amazing job, because you did everything you could do. You ate the right foods, you did water aerobics and took your prenatal vities. You read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting (a new book baby)” and you did your new-parent homework. You painted the room, got the crib, bought the clothes, purchased the toys, the whole shebang. Meaning, you had it professionally edited and formatted. You got a nice, professional-looking cover that was eye-catching and fit your genre. You had it correctly formatted, you set up your marketing and book promos ahead of time, you did your Thunderclap, HeadTalker campaigns, etc. You played nice with other authors and readers, treating them with kindness, and respect. You had every single base (that you knew of) covered. You should be proud of your amazing accomplishment. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back for all of this awesomeness, because you are an absolute rockstar.

Before we move on to the book baby blues, let’s address b: Maybe you didn’t.

I read a post the other day in a FB group I’m in, where the author was pleading for help. He was suffering from a big case of Book Baby Blues, and needed some direction. Upon reading the comments and checking out his books on Amazon, a few things clicked into place. This author had been so focused on quantitypublishing book after book after book as fast as humanly possible–that he had let quality slip, big time. His books were not edited; they were riddled with errors. His covers were not great. His characters were flat and lifeless, IMO, a byproduct of not enough incubation in the writer-womb. Oh, and he didn’t have a mailing list, which is a huge must-have for success as an indie author. (More on building your mailing list to come)

I’ve also witnessed talented authors with great books, or aspiring authors, be total asshats to others, not carrying themselves in a kind and professional manner, and I just cringe, inwardly, because that is not good for business. Would a store manager have repeat customers if he was a jerk to everyone who came in his store? That old adage,  “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is true. For the most part, people are attracted to others who are kind, thoughtful, honest, and don’t try to cheat them. I can’t express enough how utterly important integrity and respect are in building your brand, your network, and your fan base. If you want to be successful, you have to cultivate some gosh darn people skills, mmkay? Even if people are ugly to you, you have to conduct yourself in a professional manner, otherwise Karma will come back one day and bite you, and you will regret your a$$hole ways, I promise.  Here’s a good book to help with that. 😉

Being successful at anything is a delicate balance of light and dark. Patience and realistic expectations are key, as are willingness to see your faults and weaknesses, and learning from your mistakes. In order to improve your craft, these are vital. If something isn’t working for you the way you’d like for it to, then perhaps it’s time to try something different. SLOW Dooooooowwwwnnn. Take your time with your book babes to ensure you’re outputting the best possible product you can. YES, getting a book professionally edited, formatted, and covered is expensive. YES, it is worth every penny in the long run. You’re building a brand, and you want your readers to expect quality products from you with faith that that’s what you’ll deliver. The answer is not always ‘more books, faster.’ Sometimes the answer is ‘more patience,’ or ‘more time.’ Only when you are truly honest with yourself will you see what that ‘more’ is for you.

But for those of you who have done this, and have still arrived at the Book Baby Blues, my answer is this: Give yourself a break. Maybe take a day off–you deserve it. Give credit where credit is due. Keep your expectations reasonable and realistic. Building a successful business and brand takes time, sacrifice, patience, more time, money, tears, sometimes blood, perhaps therapy, more time, immense passion, determination, and SCREW YOU GUYSit-doesnt-matter-how-slowly-you-go-as-long-as-you-do-not-stop IMA DO THIS THANG  NO MATTER WHAT stick-to-itiveness.

You’ll get there.

One step at a time.

Progress, not perfection, is a reasonable expectation.

Most books do better when they are first released. Just because your rank is falling now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. With each new book you publish (that is quality), your overall sales will increase. Books do sell books, yes. But not if they aren’t quality books, which is why that is so important. Your rank will ebb and flow, but as long as you continue to put your best foot forward, you’ll continue to build a business and brand–and publish book babies–that you’re proud to put your name on. Enjoy this journey, even the hard parts, because one day you’ll look back and see that it was in those darkest moments that you were pushed to grow, to believe, to persevere, and to perhaps, choose a better path. It’s in those times that we are driven to search for the light, to move toward it, and to shine in this world in a way that only we can. And THAT . . . is what’s most important.

 

Do you have experience on this topic? Spill your thoughts in the comments below.

***

Check out my new website!!

And you can check out my books on Amazon here:

 The Treemakers (Book 1 in the Treemakers Trilogy) (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror)

The Soultakers (Book 2 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Seeker’s Keys (Book 3 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure novelette)

Introducing: The Twisted Book Curmudgeon Indie Review Group

cranky

Today I’d like to welcome a very special group of people. The Twisted Book Curmudgeon has done spectacular deeds for the indie community in the past year, in the form of a multitude of well thought-out, honest reviews, and they do so gracefully, skillfully, (insert more adverbs) for their one love of the indie community.

Joining us as the Cranky spokesperson, and an indie author herself, is the lovely and talented Neeny Boucher. She’ll be answering a few questions, then you’ll be able to find out more about them in the bio following the interview.

Why do you do what you do? What led you to organize this amazing group of reviewers?

Reviews are really important for all authors, but especially for new and indies. They’re a way to increase visibility.

We started this group because we’re in the indie community. Authors were always seeking reviews and sometimes, found it hard to get them. We thought we could help.

Sooooo, we sought out people who loved reading and encouraged them to review for our crew. Our reviewers are really good. We’re lucky to have them and I know people are surprised at the size of our group.

I think one of the reasons we work well is that we all have different genre preferences and come from different backgrounds, but we function on the basis that this is fun. Fun – is a good thing.

How many reviewers do you have currently? How many did you have when you first started?

Currently, we have twelve reviewers. When we first started out we had about four, but the team has grown and keeps on expanding, which is great.

Are there any genres you won’t review?

We review all genres. Our reviewers are a great mix and are diverse in their book tastes. Someone is always going to prefer one genre over another, which makes our team work really well together. What one doesn’t like, someone else will love.

What are some qualifications of reviewers you bring on board with your team of Cranky reviewers? Must they be “cranky”?

The main qualification is that someone is a book lover. We check out their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to see if they will fit in with us.

In saying that, experience is not essential. We are more than willing to help someone structure their reviews until they’re confident. I think reliability and enthusiasm are what we look at.

Cranky people… they are definitely our tribe, but we’re not mean people. To be honest, the group is filled with lovely people – kind and generous and extremely helpful.

Where did the name come from?

Logan Keys and I came up with it. We liked the word “curmudgeon” and the image it invokes. It conjures up grumpy librarians and battle-ax grandmas.

How many books would you say you review per week, on average?

I’d say on average, our crew reviews about seven books a week. I’ve discovered that there are peaks and troughs. Sometimes, we’re inundated. Other times, there are less books to review. We try to spread them out and post a maximum of two books a day on our page.

We also try to manage how many books our reviewers get. Most of our group consists of working women with jobs and families and responsibilities. They do this in their spare time and out of the goodness of their own hearts.

What is it, exactly, that you love about the indie community, and about reviewing in general?

I like the people. I’ve met some great people in the indie community. I’m a bit of a rebel and an outsider. I admire people who give things a go and step outside mainstream avenues to achieve their goals.

What’s your favorite thing about being a Cranky reviewer?

My favourite part is our review crew and also, knowing we’re helping people in some way. I’ve discovered wonderful people and books through this experience.

I’ve made great book friends and I buy a lot of books on the basis of Cranky reviews now.

What are your future plans for The Twisted Book Curmudgeon? Where would you like to see it in, say, five years?

We’ve made great strides in the year we’ve been going.  At the moment, we have achievable goals – increasing our ranking and visibility, become a preferred reviewer in the field.  I know people enjoy our reviews and we love the feedback we get from authors and readers.

We keep growing and changing. We meet new people and other bloggers, readers, and groups. We’ll continue to make connections in the community and be a work in progress.

I think when you stop evolving and reaching for something – the fun ends.  We started this group on the basis it would be fun and we aim to keep that promise.

The Twisted Book Curmudgeon

cranks

“I’m not Cranky!”

We’re a group of twisted sisters from all over the world who love to review books. Our crew includes people from the US, UK, Europe, and New Zealand.

We formed because of the need for reviews in the indie community, but we read traditional and indie books. We know it’s tough to get reviews, so we sought out people we knew who loved to read and review. They then brought friends.

At first, it was slow, but steadily, review requests climbed. We just posted our 300th review on Amazon and we’ve only been going a year.

We read all genres and are open to authors who are established or just starting out. We’ll give you a chance – no matter what. If you are interested in submitting a review request, all our details are in the banner above.

We are always open to people who are interested in reviewing for us. At the moment, we’re looking for a reviewer who reads YA, fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian. If anyone is interested, please send us a personal message on Facebook.

Get in touch to request a review, or to apply to be a reviewer by messaging these Cranky ladies on Facebook >HERE<

The Path to Becoming an Author Isn’t Straight- Guest Blog by Sarah Noffke

article pic for Sarah N.

The other day during a routine office visit, my doctor asked me what I was doing these days.

“Writing YA sci fi fantasy novels,” I told her.

I could tell by the blank expression on her face that this was not the answer she was expecting. I was supposed to say, “Working in the accounting department at XYZ” or “Managing a few accounts for XYZ.” Fessing up to being a writer makes people pause I’ve noticed.

My doctor then asked, “So did you study journalism in college?”

“Management,” I informed her.

Another pause. She actually furrowed her brow at me. “How does that happen?” she asked.

The short answer is I got bored. Bored of spreadsheets and meetings about meetings. I loved the people. The mission. The product. But the day-to-day was draining my creative vault more and more each year. I wanted to do something that was creative. Something that gave to our society in a different way. So I took down my diplomas and replaced them with a bulletin board which I quickly filled up with notes and ideas.

However, I still have a real job. One that makes me sound normal. I’m a college professor. Often I have students tell me they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. They’re in college, taking classes towards a degree, and one day they’re going to have to use it…but for what? Some of the college students aren’t young either. They have returned to school after raising kids or retiring from the job they never really liked.

These students must think that because I’m qualified to teach them how to write, that I might know something about advising them on the future. Or maybe like all those searching for answers, they’re just asking anyone who might have an answer.

These lost students of mine are thoroughly afraid that they’re going to earn a degree in something and then not like it. They’re even more afraid that they’ll end up getting a degree in one thing and do something totally different. “That would be a total waste,” they tell me.

A waste? Or is it the path to get you to where you want to be, even if it’s not where you were headed? The thing is that if you’re true to yourself then you’re going to grow up to be “you.” No matter what path you choose, it will take you there. I have a Masters in Management. Without that degree I would never have gotten to that crucial place in my life where I became unbelievably and painfully bored out of my mind. Maybe if I’d gotten my graduate degree in psychology (as I intended) then I would have been content in that profession and never become a writer. Maybe. Hard to know for certain.

So what advice do I actually give to my students when they ask me how to figure out what to do with their life? “Pick a path. Recognize you might not end up where you expected. And until you arrive, enjoy the ride.”  If they don’t like this advice then I follow it up with saying, “Do something that makes people pause.”

Sarah Noffke writes YA and NA sci-fi fantasy and is the author of the Lucidites, Reverians, Ren and Vagabond Circus series. She holds a Masters of Management and teaches college business courses. Most of her students have no idea that she toils away her hours crafting fictional characters. Noffke’s books are top rated and best-sellers on Kindle. Currently, she has eleven novels published. Her books are available in paperback, audio and have been translated into Spanish and Italian. Learn more about Sarah Noffke here: www.sarahnoffke.com

‿➹⁀How to Sell More Books on Facebook‿➹⁀

computer-snoopingSo. You’ve spent the last four hours spamming twelve thousand FB groups that inhabit only others doing exactly the same thing. How’s that working for ya?

Have you ever bothered to go back into one of these promo-only groups and check the response?

Chances are, you just wasted four hours of your life you’ll never get back. No likes, no comments, and I guarantee no sales, for the most part. In fact, I’d say all you got from this ordeal was an achy click-finger, bug-eyes, chair-ass, and a sour mood.

Never fear. I’m here to help.

*Hangs top hat and cane on wall rack, straightens suspenders*

*clears throat*

Imagine for a moment that this is real life. And let’s say your book is a beautiful, rare, only-found-in-the-shark-inhabited-waters-of-Fiji fish called … Le Bookuri. So, there 8sassoondock croppedyou are in a crowded marketplace, telling everyone how great your Le Bookuri is and that they should buy it, but the problem is, they also have this rare, precious Le Bookuri. Why would they need any of yours? And why are you trying to sell it to them in the first place?

So what do you do? You go to where the hungry people with no Le Bookuri are. You must hunt these people down. They do not generally travel in packs, no … that would be too easy. They are rogue, traveling the vast plains of Facebookland, hungry for their next Le Bookuri … Will it be yours? Chances are, if you’ve taken care of the following items, your Le Bookuri will be exactly what they need to wet their whistle and whet their appetite.

Make your Le Bookuri stand out from the rest.

Everyone has it. You have to do something different. Shine its scales, season it, remove the bones, fry it up and serve it with some tar-tar, but whatever you do, don’t expect a hungry person to jump at some flopping, wiggly thing that’s still half-alive. Make sure it’s finished, prepped, and served up proper. Spend time on this—don’t rush. Seriously. If it takes a year or longer, then that’s what it takes. Just because the lady in the next stand over can whip up five at a time twice a week and sell them at half-price to the street beggars, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do. Create an exquisite dining experience that you can be proud of. As long as it takes.

Make connections.

You can’t expect to be hand-picked out of the crowd of Le Bookuri fisherman unless you have made connections. Those hungry folks are going to feed you in return, yes, so it’s important that you sell your Le Bookuri to them, of course. But make them remember you. Give them a free Le Bookuri, even. Because if they like it and they like you—because you were generous enough to give without expecting in return—then they’ll be more apt to go tell their friends and family about this wonderful Le Bookuri experience they had, and they will send more hungry folks your way.

Quitcherbellyachin’.

Nobody wants to hear your sob story about how you didn’t sell any Le Bookuri last week. It’s annoying. They have enough problems of their own. They have a sick kid or bills they can’t pay. Their igloo is about to get repo’d or their sled has a rusty runner. They can’t figure out how to get that stupid childproof lid off their meds and they have a bunion. And the like. You never know what’s going on in other people’s lives, and I guaran-flippin-tee-ya your lack of Le Bookuri sales is not a burden others want to shoulder as they navigate the icy slopes of Facebookland. (I’m not sure when it started snowing, either, but just go with it people—focus.)

Nextly and lastly,

Don’t be an asshat.

Nobody wants to be around somebody who obviously thinks their Le Bookuri is the crème de la crème and is not afraid to display an array of snobbery to prove their position as high above the rest in the Le Bookuri marketplace. Unless you are one of the few big guys who can easily sell their Le Bookuri to other, lesser Le Bookuri fisherman, quit being a jerk and be nice to people, even other Le Bookuri fishermen. They may take a liking to you and share some of their customers with you, and they may even be nice enough to point out that squiggly black hair protruding from the half-baked mess on tarnished silver resting in your lap, there. Get back to work. Get humble. Say thank you. And for goodness sake, put your hair up.

So in short: quit wasting time with the spam-bot promo posts, and instead, spend that time polishing up the most amazing Le Bookuri you can, and make genuine connections with other humans. It works. I’ve experienced this magic myself over the last year since I first published.

What about you? Do you have any experiences on this topic you’d like to share? Spit it out in the comments below, if you dare. 😉

And until next time, fellow Le Bookurians,

Write on ❤

★★★If you’d like to check out my mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror bestseller, “The Treemakers,” click the cover.  “The Soultakers,” (book 2) releases 12/3. You can check out some early reviews on Goodreads for now by clicking on the cover.

UPDATED EBOOK COVER WITH TAGLINES smaller

TST EBOOK at 50 percent

 

It Began in NaNoWriMo: One Writer’s Debut Journey

As we approach the frothing mouth of the great NaNoWriMo, many of you are gearing up to spew those sexy words like machine gun wielding cheerleaders. Hell yes, game on! Sure, the peanut gallery is across the field bitching about how NaNoWriMo is a waste of time because you’ll have to rewrite everything anyway if you want it to be worth a damn, but get your game on anyway and plug cotton in your ears. Don’t listen to the naysayers. We’ve all got to learn what works best for us, and we can’t spend our lives letting others decide what we should or shouldn’t do. The truth is, YES, you will probably do some rewriting. But that doesn’t mean National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time. My self-publishing journey began in NaNo, and I’m happy to say I now have a novel I’m proud of that bounces around on the Amazon bestseller’s list from time to time, and currently sports 84 reviews and a 4.7 star average. Did I rewrite? Yep. Was NaNo a waste of time? Absolutely not.

I had a blast! I learned who my characters were and what I wanted my story to be, and I also learned a ton about myself as a writer. I learned that there is this frigging amazing community of writers out there, whom I have grown to love and adore tremendously.  But perhaps most important was learning that I can write every day, no matter what, despite the excuses I had let hold me back in the past. NaNoWriMo gave me my very first taste of being a word-slinging BADASS, and I spread my tattered Dystopian Scifi wings and soared into action. NaNo jump-started me there.

If you’d like to watch my journey, you can here:

If you’d like to check out reviews or purchase my NaNoWriMo-spawned debut novel, “The Treemakers,” (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror) you can by clicking on the cover. 
UPDATED EBOOK COVER WITH TAGLINES

So, happy writing NaNoWriMos!! You can do it!! And here’s a nifty little calendar I found for making sure you hit that daily goal. Good luck!!

2015_nano_calendar___tardis_by_margie22-d98fgll

And as always,

Write on ❤

Don’t Water Yourself Down

It’s the home-stretch for publication of “The Treemakers,” my YA Dystopian/Sci-fi, and I’ve been super squirrelly. This is a special kind of limbo. Admittedly, yes, it is a fabulous problem to have, a complex, beautiful conglomeration of fears, hopes, and worst-case-scenarios, replaying in my mind continually. Yes, most of these fears are irrational, but being new at all of this, it’s easy to run with them, not yet having seen the actual outcome of publication. Here are a few:

What if everyone hates it?

What if I’m delusional and it’s not really as good as I think it is?

What if people are just being nice to me when they say [fill in blank]?

How will I handle bad reviews?

What happens when friends, family, and others read this story and it doesn’t meet their expectations?

What if I let everyone down?

What if I am not successful?

There are likely hundreds, if not thousands more fears writers share when faced with putting their work in the hands of the masses. For me, I’m thinking, “I labored over this for a year, scrapped 103K words and started over from scratch. I put my heart and soul, both the dark and light of me, all into this, and if it falls flat, maybe I’ll fall flat, too….”

Truth be told, there are a ton of themes/events in “The Treemakers” that can–and will, probably–make certain people uncomfortable. I’ve doubted myself over the past few days, afraid that people, particularly, ones I know personally, might raise an eyebrow and wonder WTH I was thinking. Also, it has been quite nerve-wracking waiting for word back from my advanced reader/reviewers that may never come. They may hate it. They may not even finish reading it.

BUT.

I saw this meme yesterday and it gave me an “AHA!” moment.

Don't water yourself Down

How on Earth could I ever please EVERYONE? It’s not possible. I told the story that was in me to tell, leaving out nothing, and that’s the best I could ever do. Be true to myself.

Coming from a bleak past into the light where I am today has given me a unique viewpoint from which to tell a story. This is why I enjoy writing and reading fiction that shines a light in the dark, is fearless, honest, makes me feel, provokes thought, and pushes the limits. I pull very few punches, because I believe the punches are where the magic’s at.

It’s when we are faced with life’s toughest trials that we are given the opportunity to rise above and shine brighter, and brighter, and brighter still. Yes, at times things get dark in my fictional worlds—as in reality—but there is always that inherent hope and light, urging, yearning, pushing onward.

So, no. I will not be watering myself down because others can’t handle me. I’ve seen some sh*t, have had experiences in my life others could never imagine, or have only seen in movies. I have been near-death and seen death. I’ve been dangerously close to permanently losing my children, have struggled with psychological malfunction, and addictions of all sorts. And I have overcome. (With help, of course. 😉 )

Though those themes aren’t blatant in “The Treemakers,” the quest for love, strength, freedom from bondage, the yearning to rise above and fly up from the rubble–it’s all there. I can’t help but write that, it’s what I know. It’s me. And I can’t water down or sugar coat me or my fiction out of fear that there are people out there who won’t like it.

The fact is, my life is a miracle. I should not be sitting here writing this to you right now with children watching Sunday morning cartoons in the background, and a toddler continuing to bring me random items from around the house because mommy’s at the computer and that means it’s time to bug her now. 🙂

Most people who experience the bleak past I came from lose their children, end up in prison, or dead. The number of people who actually make it out, heal, grow, get their children back, and THEN go on to be any sort of successful, is so small, it’s super sad.

That being said, of course there will be themes in my fiction that make people uncomfortable. But the gift I have to offer is that on the other side of that there will be hope, discoveries, redemption, justice, and magic. Because on the other side of even the darkest night, there is always the precious, living dawn.

So, as I wait patiently these next ten days, in hopes that my fictional baby will do well, I also have to let go and have faith. And move on to the next project. Letting go is difficult, but it has to be done. I’ve done my part.

I hope that you will not water yourself down, either. If we worry too much about what is “right” or “acceptable,” or what everyone else is doing, we are selling ourselves short. This is why I believe so many writers are unhappy in their craft. Maybe they’re afraid to dig too deep, unearthing the story inherent in their soul that begs to be told. It can be scary. It can be very uncomfortable. It can dredge up all sorts of emotional baggage. But it’s so cathartic, and extremely fulfilling, like scratching an itch that has pleaded for relief, once it is written, it is seen, heard, validated.

Be true to yourselves and your stories. Tell the story that begs to be told. Don’t worry so much about what everyone else will think or what everyone else is doing. Do your own thing. Your readership will find you, and they will love you for this. These are the things I will continue to remind myself over the next few days, as those fears try to creep in and cast shadows on this glorious moment. Because this is no easy feat. Writing and self-publishing a novel that you’ve worked on for a year is something to be proud of and excited about.

So, let’s do that. Focus on the positive.

To thine own self be true.

Until next time,

Write on! ❤

***UPDATE 11/13/15*** The Treemakers is now an Amazon Bestseller! And you can one-click it right here for currently only .99: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015DC4Q5E/

Book 2, “The Soultakers,” will release 12/3/15, and you can check out early reviews on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26206748-the-soultakers

The Treemakers Trilogy Teaser Gallery

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