Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Self-Publishing Promotions

One of the things I struggle with in Indie Author Life are the promotional aspects.

1. I make peanuts on my self-published work, so although I think everyone should read them, how do you reach everyone on peanuts?
2. I'm not naturally a "look at me" kind of person (more of a "why are you looking at me?" kind of person), so I don't like to bombard social media with things about my work.

In trade publishing, the publisher often has a marketing and publicity department to take care of promotional things, though an author is expected to promote and market the work more and more these days.

Things I've Done To Promote:

-Obviously, social media.

-Make wicked easy graphics using PowerPoint or, when I have something to promote, like a new story or a Kindle Countdown Deal. People seem to respond to pictures more readily than a block of text on an author Facebook page.
Example of an easy graphic

-A few blogging friends were kind enough to review my book on their blog or interviewed me or shared my posts and news around. Never underestimate the power of Internet word-of-mouth.

-Paid for a very few ads in ebook newsletters. There are a number of newsletters and blogs, for every genre and type of work, but finding them and booking your place in them is often the hard part, along with picking them judiciously because the cost adds up.

The biggest one--and the most expensive and hardest to get into--is Bookbub, but there is also Robin Reads, Book Goodies, ENT Publishing, Great Books Great Deals, BookZio, GenrePulse, Bargain Booksy, Sweet Free Reads...

Seriously. There many of them and they all have their own requirements before they'll take your book, so check any out to make they take your genre, the length of your book, that they don't require a certain number of reviews, etc.

Other Things That People Do To Promote Their Work:

-Giveaways: These could be Amazon giveaways or Goodreads giveaways or Rafflecopter giveaways. Giveaways are popular. Who doesn't like free stuff, right?

-Reviews: Sometimes indie authors spread ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) around to reviewers, in the hopes that those readers will actually post a review of the book somewhere and thus, entice others to buy the book

-Blog tours: I've hosted plenty of authors on this blog as part of their cover reveals or release blog tours. There are companies out there who will organize blog tours for you, but the ones I've hosted are tours organized by the authors themselves.

-Conventions: If an author is writing in a particular genre and that genre has a convention, it's possible to book a spot for a table or booth.

What are some things you've done or seen or would like to try to promote your work?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Upcoming NaNo Thing

First of all, a bit of promotional business:

"When Mary Left" is now in Kindle Unlimited, so if you're in that or have Amazon Prime, you can read it for free! Otherwise, the story is 99 cents.

To celebrate the short story being out, Pearl is on Kindle Countdown for a bit.

So, what's next?

Well, I'm still working on the draft of the Victorian story. It's going to take a bit, I'm going to try not to rush it.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo the other day. Instead of writing 50,000 words of dreck (as I've done in the past), I'm going to write a bunch of short stories, maybe a novella. I plan on revising them and releasing them or submitting them to whatever next year. Basically, I'm writing myself a backlog

I have a few ideas:

-A story about Julius, Pearl's brother.

-A story based on a marriage certificate I found: an Englishman and an Asian woman get married in Nagasaki, Japan in 1895.

-A weird speculative idea I've had in the my head for a bit: when the economy collapses and the government sucks and everyone in New York City lives in a fitting room-sized apartment.

-A sweet romance story, possibly culled from an old defunct story I wrote last year.

-A WWI story

-A story about Miles Keegan's second wife?

Are you doing NaNo this year? What are you going to write?

Monday, October 10, 2016

"When Mary Left": A Short Story is now available!

A new short story is now available for purchase on Amazon!

When Mary Left

In 1793 Boston, Mary Dawkins faces the ultimate turning point: an unwanted pregnancy.

99 cents!

As usual, all reviews are welcome and seriously appreciated!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's #IndieAuthorDay

Today is Indie Author Day!

There were events at libraries across the country talking about indie publishing and since I'm so far an indie-published author, I thought I'd talk a bit about independent publishing.

"Independent from what?" Some ask.

When I was studying publishing in college and grad school, independent publishing wasn't even something we talked about and justifiably so, since this was before the Kindle. The large publishing houses are big corporations. They are mostly trade publishers. Trade publishers publish in the established ways.

Smaller, independent publishers also publish in the established model, but they're often tiny--sometimes they're more niche, sometimes they're more cutting edge than the bigger publishing houses (because they need to be to keep competitive in the market). Sometimes they're associated with larger companies (like the many publishing arms of Amazon or Smashwords or another things).

So when we say "indie author," it can mean an author published by a small press or one who is self-published.

Here are some of my favorite indie-published books:

The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas is a pretty well-established historical romance, YA fantasy, and soon-to-be mystery author, but The Hidden Blade is one of my favorites of hers--the first in the Heart of Blade duology, Thomas self-published this novel about a Chinese girl trained in martial arts and an English boy who leaves home, following his beloved former tutor.

Zero Sum Game by SL Huang

SL Huang writes smart, funny action-adventure thrillers based around the amoral-but-with-a-heart mercenary Cas Russell, who has the unusual power of being able to do all kinds of math very quickly.  Russell's Attic currently has five books in the series, but Zero Sum Game is the first.

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

The Duchess War is the first novel in the Brothers Sinister series, which I've glommed through this year. They are Victorian-set historical romances and Milan really knows how to write kick-ass, smart,  analytical, dynamic heroines--not one is a damsel in distress or too stupid to live.

Collecting The Constellations by Emily Steers

Take a smart, independent, curious woman. Add in a handsome sidekick, lots of adventure, and a very mysterious sapphire knife. It all adds up to a really fun mystery and adventure tale.

Tidewater by Libbie Hawker
Libbie Hawker is a historical fiction author who is mostly self-published. Tidewater, which is about Pocahontas and the Jamestown colony, was published by Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon publishing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG: Story Cooking Time

It's time for IWSG: The Insecure Writer's Support Group comes together every first Wednesday of the month to vent. Check out the group here.

Well. It's October. Let's see what's up in my writing world:

--September wrapped up with a story I was about to get published not being published. My rights have reverted back to me, but I haven't gone through the story yet to see how much of it I want to rip apart and revise. I remember there were parts I didn't particularly care for the last time I read it, which was sometime around May or so.

--The novel draft is still plugging along and still going a bit more slowly than I'd like, but advancing nonetheless. At least I write faster than Diana Gabaldon and George R.R. Martin? :-)

--I have an idea to write four or five short story/novella/novellettes in November for NaNo, then figure out which ones I might want to submit, self-publish, expand into a longer idea...

Which brings me around to the IWSG October question: When do you know your story is ready? 

Stories have lots of levels of readiness. I've only published one thing so far and I can't really remember now when I knew Pearl was ready to be put out into the world-- Was it when my beta's reactions came back positively? Was it my own knowledge and instinct that the story was compelling and the character was great and why not try the self-publishing thing to see if anybody else wanted to read it? Was it when my copyeditor emailed to tell me that a) she was grateful that I wrote cleanly and b) she was so totally absorbed into the story?

The short story that I haven't looked at in a few months--I had a deadline for that one, so that's when it had to be ready by. But I knew it was ready to be written--this after at least a month of mind-stewing--when the first scene played out in my head.

Usually, that's how I know something is ready to be written down past the notes-and-research phase: when I start hearing snatches of dialogue or when I can "see" a scene happening or when I can feel the feels. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Genre, Literary, and Upmarket Fiction

For a while now, I've been aware that I don't write what's known in publishing circles as "genre fiction."

Of course, most fiction fits into a genre or at least, a category--they're not necessarily the same thing--but genre fiction, specifically, means that a book is commerical (so, basically, it has a broad appeal) and it fits into specific, easily-identifiable genres--it's a romance novel, it's a thriller, it's a mystery, it's fantasy, horror, sci-fi, blah blah. They're entertaining reads, they're often fast-paced, they satisfy a reader's genre expectations, they have strong writing hooks, and broad audience appeal. Many of my writing friends write genre fiction and that's awesome.

But I was never really sure if I fit into that.

Historical fiction is a genre, but it isn't necessarily "genre fiction." It's not often published in mass market paperbacks, for one thing, and with the higher word count historicals often have, I tend to see them in bookstores in the General Fiction or Literature sections of bookstores. Of course, there are tons of historical romances and historical mysteries and historical fantasies out there and those totally are historically-set genre fiction. (If you know me at all, you know that I devour historical romances).

Then there's the oft-cited literary fiction, which, like, writers get into arguments about what that term means. In short, literary fiction is the stuff you end up studying in school. It's the stuff college writing programs try to program you to write. Literary fiction tends to be quirky, definitely far less plot-driven, introspective. There's a definite dissection of hefty ideas. And there's a big focus on the actual language of the book--I think of extra-carefully-crafted sentences, twenty-dollar words, prose you could bury yourself in because it's so buttery and poetic.

Literary fiction often wins quite a lot of prestigious awards, but it remains hard to identify in clear terms. It's sort of like what Judge Potter said about identifying obscenity--"I know it when I see it."

When I queried The Keegans of Banner's Edge in 2014, I kept noticing the term "upmarket fiction" used in literary agents' descriptions--usually in terms of "I represent upmarket women's fiction." I kind of had an idea of what that meant; the ones that, if pressed, you'd say were just "general fiction" or "women's fiction" or "the kind of thing book clubs would want to read."

Well, some research has borne this out. Upmarket fiction blends genres, but has a high level of writing that is still accessible and appealing to a broad audience, but it can discuss and illustrate complicated ideas. I've never bought a book and said, "Oh, this is upmarket fiction," but quite a bit of historical fiction falls into upmarket fiction.

Of course, none of this is really up to the writer--genre, commercial, upmarket, literary--they tend to be sales categories. And most readers, I don't think, particularly care: they read what they want to and some may read widely and others not so much.

But--for this writer, at least--I believe I am aiming toward upmarket historical women's fiction with my current thang.

Here's a handy graphic from Carly Watters' website:

Futher Reading:
What Is Upmarket Fiction?

Literary, Mainstream, Commercial: What Genre is This Anyway?