aliciareneekline.com

Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

Give Me a Boost

Some of you have noticed that I took a short break from blogging, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I’ve been slacking off on this side of the keyboard.  I’ve been busy working on preparing my upcoming release for preorder and early review.  Now that the sales links are up and the ARCs have been emailed, it’s back to normal for me.

One of the last posts that I published before my mini-absence was entitled “Help Wanted”.  Unlike most of my contributions to this site, I opted not to share this particular post with my author/blogger friends during Monday Blogs.  Reason being:  it felt a bit too self-promotional, even though I’m really being quietly promotional every time I share because all of my books are prominently displayed on my website.

Anyway, the point of this post was drumming up interest for people to review my new book prior to its release.  I already had a couple of bloggers and readers in my back pocket, as well as my traditional marketing plan mapped out.  But for this novel, I also wanted to offer the option to review to those who had never heard of me before.  In essence, Monday Blogs wasn’t exactly the best platform for this to happen, so I wasn’t shooting myself in the foot by not sharing there.

Instead, I turned to my Facebook author page.  I posted the blog link (which I hardly ever do because most of my readers never read and/or care about my blog) and boosted the post.

This was my first experience with boosting posts, and it was a worthy experiment to throw $5 at.  I certainly wouldn’t do it on a regular basis, but I’d probably do it again under similar circumstances.  It’s worthwhile if you’ve got something important going on; not so much if you’re ranting about your kids forgetting their lunch money.

Keep in mind that my following on Facebook is anemic compared to that on Twitter, but there’s not much overlap.  Twitter is where I connect mostly with bloggers and authors, and Facebook is more for readers.

Here’s what happened:

I boosted my post for one day only, to fans and friends of fans.  At that time, my likes totaled 259 or so, if I’m remembering correctly.

A total of 1,357 people were reached.  55 of those were organic and 1,302 were paid.  I received a few new likes.  One person out there hid all of my posts.

But more importantly, I connected with 5 people that likely never would have been introduced to my work had I not boosted this post.  These are new-to-me readers.  At $1 per pop, that’s not a horrible return on investment in my opinion.

Of course, I also had takers who had already connected with me, sometimes across multiple platforms.  Boosting my Facebook post helped me reach them, too, because we all know that only a very small percentage of your existing fans usually see your content there (sigh).

By far, Facebook was the most successful outlet for me getting my message across.  I also posted this offer on Twitter and Tsu.  I got one hit from Tsu, where I have a supremely tiny following – but they see everything; none on Twitter, where I have the most presence.  But Twitter was not all for naught – one of my blogger friends retweeted one of my teasers and within seconds, I had a message from someone else that they wanted to read my stuff.  So they ended up with an ARC.

As much as I despise Facebook in general, even I have to admit that it does serve its purpose once in a while.

Sandbagging

It’s a new year, and with that comes a myriad of goal setting.  I’m not too big on the whole resolution making bandwagon, but this year I did decide to set a goal on Goodreads for their annual Reading Challenge.

I wasn’t as involved with Goodreads at the beginning of 2014, pretty much being there in name only.  As last year progressed, I forced myself into a new habit of reviewing every fiction book that I read.  By the time I phased into that mode, it was really too late to set a reading goal for the year.  So I didn’t.

But this year is different.  One of the first things that I did when I logged into Goodreads come January was to set my goal.  Which is?  A measly 50 books.  In comparison with some of my friends on the site, this goal makes  me look almost illiterate.  I have a friend who – no joke – has set her goal this year for 175 books. Knowing her, I trust that she can do it.

In all honesty, 50 books is a lowball number for me.  I was thinking about going with 52, just to make it one book a week.  That is very easily doable for me, but I cringed at having a silly random number up there for public view.  And I certainly didn’t want to set some pie in the sky number and have others watch my epic fail.  So 50 it is.  We’ll see how quickly I reach that, and how much further I go past it this calendar year.

As it stands right now (January 4th), I’ve already read 2 books towards this goal and have ceremoniously started the third.  What this entails is scrolling through my massive collection of unread books and deciding what is up next, then committing to it.  This means that I’m already 4% of the way there.

It’s not uncommon for me to read three books a week when I’m on a roll.  Sometimes the book gods smile down on me and grace me with a streak of pageturners and I’m in the zone.

In the same vein, it’s also not unusual for me to fall into a book slump.  Since I hate leaving things unfinished, I’ll muddle through to the bitter end of something that’s not a good fit for me.  Undoubtedly, these books take me longer to complete and sometimes require a cooling off period before starting something else.

And let’s not forget that I’m still going to be creating some masterpieces of my own. The release date has been set for Book 4, so I’ll be working on perfecting and marketing that, as well as writing the final installment of the series (sniff!).    Couple that with life in general:  family time, our annual summer vacation, my 9-6, and it’s frankly mind-blowing that I have enough hours in the day to sleep, let alone read for enjoyment.

But somehow I do manage.  And while I’m sure my tally come December will surpass the 50 book mark, I’m just as certain that I won’t reach 175.

Have you set a goal on Goodreads for your Reading Challenge?  Is it conservative, optimistic, or just plain crazy?  I’d love to hear how others decide what number they post for all to see…

Help Wanted

I need your help.

As some of you already know, the fourth installment in my series is releasing on April 7, 2015.  I’ve got that familiar nervous excitement that’s building in my stomach, tempered by the knowledge that I’ve been here, done this before.

This time around, Amazon has their preorder option available.  Obviously, I’ve done the whole preorder thing at B&N, iBooks and Kobo, but since there’s a vast majority of readers who are still loyal to Amazon, there’s a whole new world of opportunity there for me to explore.

The bottom line is that I want buzz on my book during the preorder period.  And on release day at Amazon, I’d like to have a minimum of 25 reviews.

In order to make this happen, I’ve already enlisted the help of my favorite promotional company to coordinate my release day event.  I’m also planning to do a preorder event of some sort with them, the details of which are being worked out as we speak.  I’ll no doubt be contacting  my blogger/reviewer friends personally and letting them in on the action.  But I know that’s not enough.

That’s where you come in.

See, I’m going to be giving away up to 75 ARCs of Changed to readers like you who agree to the following rules.  Trust me, I’m not going to make you jump through hoops.

1.  You must be on Goodreads.

2.  You must add Changed to your bookshelf.  Here’s the link:

Goodreads link for Changed

3.  You have to track me down (here, on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter or Tsu and let me know you’ve done this.  I will check, so please make sure that I can see your shelf!  Also, when you contact me, let me know what format you want this in:  mobi, epub, PDF and where to send it.

4.  It goes without saying that the ARC is for your eyes only.  No sharing of the ARC, but you can certainly share this post if you know someone else who would be interested.

5.  Please post your honest review to Goodreads as soon as you finish the book.  I’m talking 1-5 stars here people; no need to worry about feeding my ego.  And I want reviews to go up during the preorder period, so don’t be concerned about posting too soon.  I will ask that you copy and paste to Amazon once it goes live there.

6.  If you love the book – or hate it, but think it’s a great fit for someone else – please don’t hesitate to talk about it.

7.  I will email all who participate periodically.  What I’m thinking is a total of four times:  the initial sending of the ARC, a reminder email halfway through the time period between the ARC being sent and release day, a reminder email a day or two before release day to copy and paste to Amazon, and a wrap up email after release. I promise not to be too annoying or pushy.

Yes, I know that this is a Book 4 and that scares people a little bit.  However, out of all of the books in the series, this is the one that I would consider being most standalone in nature.  The main characters in this one have been secondary characters in the others, so there’s not a lot of backstory that you need to know to get into their lives.  In fact, the hero is little more than a bit character in books 2 and 3.  The heroine has sort of a cult following from the other books, but that’s because of her tendency to have the best one-liners in all of them.

That being said, I want a wide variety of readers’ opinions.  From those who are die-hard fans of the series (and there are a few) to those who have never heard of me before.

I will not send ARCs to anyone until my book has been uploaded to Smashwords, at a minimum.  Likely not until preorder links start to roll in, which will be approximately the first week of February.  This is simply a security precaution on my part.  I seriously doubt anyone will leak my book, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.  Realistically, you’ll have about 8 weeks to read and post a review.

Enticed, but not sure what you’re in for?  No problem; here’s the first chapter:

Changed Chapter One

Sound good?  Have any questions?  Give me a shout and let’s make this happen!

 

 

 

Pay for Me

I might have been inspired by Korn’s “Prey for Me” when I named this blog post, and that might be the reason that particular song has been stuck in my head for the past couple of days.  But I digress.

This week’s blog post is about ebook pricing.  Yes, I know that this has been covered before by countless other people, but it’s been front and center in my mind as of late.  As most of you know, I’ve recently joined social media network Tsu, which right now is more or less a happening place for book bloggers and authors alike.  A side effect of this has been my one-click finger getting a massive workout.

Like most readers, I’ve always been enticed by a sale.

As an author, I’ve always questioned the practice of offering up something that you’ve worked long and hard on for nothing, or for rock bottom prices.

Since I’m not Amazon exclusive, I’ve not been able to take advantage of their free or countdown days.  But I have experimented with coupon codes on Smashwords, offering the first book in my series for free.  The first time I did this, I received a respectable amount of downloads – and my book got pirated.  Each time since, I’ve experienced diminishing results.

As my series has progressed, I’ve debated pricing the first book at perma-free, as has been suggested by multiple sources.

Popular opinion in the self-publishing community indicates that the allure of free has lost a bit of its luster.  But it’s still a widely used marketing tactic by many people to get their book on the Kindles of others.  Whether or not they’re actually read once they get there is another story.

Myself, I’d rather just charge a respectable price for my books and get fewer downloads if it means that the people that do purchase my novels will actually read them.  An impulsive download at free will likely get pushed to the bottom of the stack when a reader has a choice between it and an ebook that they’ve paid money for.  I know that’s how it works for me.

That being said, I’m seriously considering putting out a free companion book once my series is completely finished.  What’s the difference here?  My intention wouldn’t be to attract new readers, but to cater to people who are already fans.  What it would include would be every single piece of bonus content that I’ve written for each one of the books:  character interviews, top ten lists, alternate scenes.  Things which have already been posted here, but which readers may not remember or might not know about.  It would be simple to put together; it’s already on my computer and I would just have to curate it.  I’ve even got a name for it and a cover concept.

If that idea flies – which I’m almost positive it will – I’ll report back on the success of it.  I’m curious to see if a free book at the end would have any effect on sales of those that have come before it.  It may piss a lot of people off that will download it just because the price is right.

Then again, I might not be the only one who thinks backwards.

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Sucking

My Amazon sales rank absolutely, positively sucks.

Let’s just get that out of the way right now.  I won’t sugar coat that, or entertain you with bogus claims that my books are best sellers or that I’m raking in the royalty checks.  I’ve never claimed to be a publishing guru, and those who have stopped by my blog often know I’m my own harshest critic.

Let’s also preface this post with a disclaimer:  I’m not complaining.  In fact, I wonder how much sales rank really even matters.

Gasp.  Yes, I just typed that.

To us author types, sales rank is a metric that we tend to live and die by.  Especially on Amazon, because it’s so readily visible.  We go to our dashboard on a regular basis, checking that damn graph for new sales.  We troll our own book pages, looking for how those elusive sales affect that almighty number.  But in the end, does it really matter?

Back in the olden days, before I tried my hand at publishing, I was just a mere reader and I didn’t give a rat’s ass about what that number was when I scoped out my next read.  Sure, titles that did well were certainly easier to find when I scrolled through the Kindle store.  But if I found an author that I liked, I would search by his or her name and get my fill of their works.  I never continued on down the page to see the sales rank and the publisher.  (Self publishing?  What was that?)  I’m betting that my tactics aren’t that different from most current readers’.

I’ve made my peace with Amazon.  I’m never, ever, going to be one of their featured authors because I detest their practices of handing out perks to those who pledge to be Amazon exclusive.  I’m not; nor will I ever be.  So I’m not allowed to use things like free days or countdown pricing or Kindle Unlimited to my advantage.  That’s fine.  And unless something really major and unexpected happens, I don’t see myself taking the romance world by storm and getting a movie deal or anything.  That’s cool, too.

I won’t lie.  Now that I do this myself, when I download a new book for my Kindle, I do look at the sales rank.  99.9% of the time, it’s way better than mine.  Sometimes, that makes perfect sense, because I enjoy books by majorly popular authors just as much as the next person.  Other times, I shake my head because even though I’m biased, I just don’t get the popularity of some things over my own.

People (authors included) tend to see the ebook market as Amazon dominated.  But a low sales rank on Amazon – or none at all – isn’t necessarily a testament to the quality of the product.  Here’s some food for thought from my personal experiences:

1.  When I sell multiple books in a day, it’s usually spread out among all of the books in my series, not just one title.  So while each book’s individual sales rank climbs, there’s never a boost to one particular novel worth writing home about.

2.  I also sell on other Amazon outlets, usually Canada, UK and Australia.  Those numbers, while making me happy, don’t reflect in the ranking on Amazon.com.

3.  It took me several months to get anyone on Amazon.com to purchase the third book in my series, though it was selling well (by my standards) on other outlets.  That first Amazon sale?  It was returned the same day.

4.  In 2014, I sold more copies through iBooks, B&N, Kobo and Smashwords than I did on Amazon.  I don’t even have a clue how you look at sales rank on iBooks, and they were my personal top performer.

I’m tired of the snobbery that’s found on message boards about books with low sales ranks being pieces of crap and the few copies sold being to family and friends.  Hell, I can’t get the majority of my family and friends to read my books or my blog, or like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.  They don’t give a flying poo about my author life.  And they certainly haven’t written any reviews for me.

Here’s what I see from my perspective as one of those so-called crap authors:  awesome reviews from people I don’t know, a small but growing loyal fan base, people who take the time to post unsolicited plugs for my books on social media, and over twice as many books sold in 2014 as in 2013.

If that’s the sound of sucking, I think I’ll continue doing it.

Stay tuned for 2015; there’s some exciting news coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Newbie

I’ve gone and done it now.

Over the course of the past week, I joined (one of?) the newest social media network(s) on the internet, Tsu.  To be honest with you, I hadn’t even heard about it until somebody that I respect posted about it on her Facebook group page and invited people to join.  So I filed it away in the back of my mind and looked into it before signing up myself.

From what I read, Tsu is gaining popularity, especially with the author crowd, because it’s a cross between Facebook and Twitter.  Face it – most of us are on both anyway.  From my first impressions, it reminds me slightly more of Facebook, with one big plus:  those who friend or follow you actually have the stuff you post show up in their newsfeed.  No more 2-6% of the people who’ve liked your page getting your message; everyone who’s connected to you does.  How awesome is that?

You probably noticed the terminology “friend or follow” because you have options.  “Friend” is what it means on Facebook, a mutual acknowledgment of each other on the network.  Your friends see all of your posts, just like you see theirs.  You can also “follow” someone, meaning you can see their posts, but they don’t see yours.  You don’t need to do both, so if a person that you’re following eventually sends you a friend request, or accepts yours, you’ll want to stop following them because your number of follows is limited to 1,000.

I kind of like the differentiation between friending and following.  One of the caveats to Twitter is your following to followers ratio, which makes a lot of people think twice before following celebrities or other “names” that you know will never follow you back.  Personally, I’m using my follows for book blogs and the like.  In my limited time on Tsu, I have one-clicked so many new books that have been on sale that it’s ridiculous.  Good thing I read quickly.

You can also search for posts by other members who you’re not connected to by using hashtags.  So yes, you can get visibility by posting content with #author or #romance or whatever, and maybe even find some new friends or followers that way.

But with any new network, it’s got its critics.  The most vocal ones are shouting that it’s a scam, or at the very least a social media Ponzi scheme.  Yes, there is a monetary side to Tsu, which promises that users will share in the profits from their postings, unlike what happens over at Facebook.  And there’s a sort of convoluted family tree thing that comes into play, too.   In order to sign up for the network, you have to be “invited”, which really isn’t as exclusive as it sounds.  It means you have to click on someone’s link who is already a member.  Then you register for your own account and they become your “parent”.  Likewise, any people that sign up using your link become your “children” and so on down the line.  Eventually, the idea is that if you are sitting on top of a big network, you will end up making (a very small amount of) money off of everyone in your network’s posts and shares.

Me, I don’t expect to see a dime from posting on Tsu, so that’s not why I’m there.  I’m not about the hard sell, so I’ve nicely asked people to join that are already connected to me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and have gotten absolutely no results.  Yes, according to Tsu, I’m pretty much completely barren.  You’ll notice my friends and followers list is nothing to brag about either – certainly not like the person who gloated that after three days on the network, he had 500 friends.  Considering that I can’t convince my in-laws or some of my beta readers to like my page on Facebook, my experience with Tsu is exactly what I expected.  (I still love you guys, though!)  But don’t think that I’m crying in my Vanilla Coke; my first Tsu friendship came about 30 seconds after I joined and was to a book blogger who I don’t recall meeting anywhere else.

From there, I’ve slowly been looking up people that I know from Twitter and Facebook, and if we already have a connection, I’ve been sending them friend requests.  But I’m not expecting this to be the magical balm that will propel me into superstardom.  At the same time, I can’t ignore getting in on the ground floor of something with good potential.  So I’ll play around with this and market on Tsu, Twitter and Facebook and see where it takes me.  But the main focus in this writer’s life is always going to be on creating the next book, as I think it should be.

So if you’re already lingering around Tsu and want to hook up, or if you have an urge to try it out, here’s my link.  We’ll be newbies together!

 

On Borrowed Time

So perhaps the single most awesome thing in my writing career happened for me recently.  Nope, I didn’t hit the bestseller list for thirty seconds, or get closer to achieving my goal of luxury car ownership via royalty checks.  In fact, my monumental feat has absolutely nothing to do with sales.

My books are now in my local library.

My husband told me that it would be unseemly to go visit them, so I just have to take the online card catalog’s word for it.  I believe it; here’s the link.

For some reason, this is more validation for me as an author than having an Amazon page, a Goodreads profile, or a Facebook fan page.  Maybe it’s because growing up, I never dreamed in a million years that something I wrote would be placed on those shelves.  Shelves upon which I discovered my love of reading.  And in the library setting, it’s somewhat of a more level playing field, in as far as my fiction books are alphabetized right in with traditionally published works by big named authors.

As you might recall, in November I was one of approximately 70 authors who took part in an Author Fair held at our Main Library.  As such, we were encouraged to bring copies of our books for sale.  This event pushed me to create paperback copies of my already published ebooks so that I actually had something to show off while I was there.  Though I sold a few books there, I did come away with some inventory.  Which got me thinking – what if I donated a couple copies of each book to the library so that readers in my community could enjoy them?

So I asked.  And I got a quick response back.  One that shocked me.  It went something like this:  “Of course we would be happy to accept your contribution.  But we’d like you to know that we’ve already got the first book in your series on order and it should be stocked shortly.”

Yes, they had already purchased my book.  Without me asking them to, or me getting down on my hands and knees and begging them to.  And I had no clue. Which I found to be even sweeter than them agreeing to take some free ones off my hands.

I’ll likely never see the proceeds from that book, because my net royalty on that particular sale is only 50 cents.  And I seriously doubt I’ll see an influx of paperback purchases that will help me cross the payment threshold.  But I don’t care one iota. Because they showed me with that order that they believed in me, at least a little bit.

I promptly dropped off copies of Books Two and Three, as well as two additional copies of the one that they already bought.  Now all three novels are in circulation, and as of this posting, over half of the copies available have been checked out.  I’m really curious on how they are being displayed, or if library staff is recommending them or what.  Other than a quick post to Facebook and Google Plus and a mention to some coworkers – who I seriously doubt are responsible for borrowing them – I’ve told no one that they are there.

I’m excited to see what the future holds, and I’m cautiously optimistic that this will have a snowball effect.  A common take away from people that I met at the Author Fair was that it was cool that I based my books in Fort Wayne.  And now, the community that serves as my setting has the chance to check them out, very literally.

Though I know not everyone in our city of a quarter million people has a library card, our library system is county wide.  Even though the copies all originated at the main library, since readers can return them at any branch in the county, they may find their way to other locations in the area.  Or if there is enough demand for the copies that they already have, the library may purchase additional copies to shelve at some of the more frequented branches.

Any way I look at this, the potential to reach a new set of readers is nothing to sneeze at.

 

 

 

 

 

Piercing Presence

I miss sleeping on my left side.

There’s a work around that I’ve come up with recently which is sort of convoluted and involves me putting my pillow a few inches away from my husband’s and sticking my left ear in the gap between them, balancing my head on the edges of both.  Understandably, this position doesn’t last long, and it usually only works when I’m trying to fall asleep anyway.  Sometimes I also try propping my ear up on my arm so that it doesn’t touch the pillow itself, which doesn’t work much better.  Invariably, I wake up on my right side, or if I’m feeling really adventurous, on my stomach.

Back in the spring – I’d say around May or so – I got my left ear gauged.  For the uninitiated, what this means is that I got the cartilage at the top of my ear pierced by a hollow needle, leaving a hole into which was threaded a small hoop earring.  It hasn’t yet completely healed, which isn’t out of the ordinary.  It certainly doesn’t hurt nonstop, but it is still sore when bumped into or when I smash it against a pillow.  But I like the way that it looks and that’s just the price that I have to pay.  I’m hoping at some point it will be as though it’s not even there and I can go about sleeping (or putting on my winter hat) as I did before.  But not quite yet.

This is the second piercing that I’ve had done in relatively the same location.  The first time I got it done was at the mall, with a traditional ear piercing gun when I was about eighteen or nineteen.  I had loads of problems with that one, so I took out the earring and let it grow shut.  I later learned that one should never get a cartilage piercing done with this method, and in fact, the state of Indiana has outlawed this practice.  You now need to go to a tattoo / piercing parlor to get this done (with the needle method) by a licensed individual, which is what I did the second time around.  So far, so good.

As you might have gathered from reading some of my previous posts, this was not my first trip to a tattoo parlor or my first piercing.  So the thought of having to go back to one of these establishments certainly did not discourage me from getting a cartilage piercing done (like it seemed to do to the lady at the mall who told me to simply cross the state line and get it done in Ohio, instead of going to the tattoo place that’s approximately seven minutes away from my home).  Last time I checked, Ohio was more than seven minutes away.

My first experience at a tattoo parlor was actually getting a tattoo done.  This happened prior to children, and most of the time I forget it’s there.  A pretty vine of flowers along my lower back, which I will catch in the mirror from time to time when I’m getting dressed and still have no regrets over it being there.  It occasionally shocks people when they learn that I have one, though to look at me it shouldn’t, because though it’s my only tattoo, I didn’t exactly stop there with the modifications.

Next I got my navel pierced.  This one I had to think long and hard about.  And I also waited until I was done having children before I did it, because I just didn’t want to consider the logistics of it.  I mean, I was the pregnant lady that completely lost her belly button, as in it became totally flat as things progressed.  Both times.  So when I was in the clear, it took a small dare from my husband before I grabbed the keys to the minivan and drove myself to get it done.  Though I love the end result, it was the most painful addition I’ve made – both during the actual piercing and the healing process itself.  If it ever closed up (which I won’t let happen), I would not get it done again.

Then came the nose.  It’s the one that most people are curious about, maybe because it’s right there in the middle of my face.  It’s also my favorite one of the three that I have.  I’d admired other people’s nose rings before, but being in the banking industry, it was always a sort of pipe dream for me since that look was definitely not work appropriate for a conservative institution.  When I quit the bank and moved on to insurance, I found myself working in a much more laid back environment, so I got the green light to have this done.

Nose piercing number one did not work so hot.  My first nose ring had a habit of migrating out of my nose, which sometimes happens.  I tried a shorter nose screw after the initial healing period, which actually got embedded into my nostril and had to be pulled out the other side.  Yeah, that was about as fun as it sounds.  After a few more pieces of jewelry, it closed up overnight when the nose bone I had in came out in my sleep.

I was sad.  Of all the piercings I had, the nose  was the one that I felt was a part of my personality.  I went bare for about a year or so before getting it redone.  This time, no problems at all so it’s here to stay.  I did have a dream this morning though, where my nose was horribly stuffy and I ended up waking myself up by taking the nose bone out, likely to solve my problem.  Luckily, I still had it in my hand, so straight to the bathroom I went to put it back in with very bleary eyes.

To be honest with you, apart from the occasional “How do you blow your nose?”, most people don’t even seem to notice the tiny sparkle on the side of my face.  The answer, in case you were wondering, is just like everyone else.  With a tissue.

I’m happy to report that I’ve never gotten any rude comments from people because of the way I present myself.  I’m beginning to think that as time rolls on, people are growing more and more accepting of those who choose to adorn themselves in a permanent manner.  This is a wonderful thing in my book.

Case in point:  I went into the same bank that used to employ me over the summer to attend to some business.  The head teller there had a nose ring, small and delicate, just like the one I sport.

Kind of makes me wonder if I should have pushed the envelope before I left.

 

 

 

Thankful

Since this post is going live right before Thanksgiving, I’ll be a bit cheesy and embrace the holiday.  Unlike those who proclaim their gratefulness for things like family, a place to live and food to eat – all good sentiments – I’ll keep mine strictly writing based.

Here’s my list of things I’m thankful for:

1.  Self-publishing – Because without it, I wouldn’t be an author at all.  I never once had the inclination to query an agent or a publisher.  Not because I didn’t believe in myself or think I was good enough to be published, but rather because I didn’t want a string of rejections to dissuade me from trusting that I was.

2.  Readers – Not so long ago, I never thought that anyone else would be privy to the tales I was weaving in my head.  Every person that chooses to pick up one of my novels (especially when there are so many worthy options out there) is one more person than I dreamed would ever read them.

3.  Reviews – Though sometimes I question how crucial they are to the bottom line, I still enjoy hearing feedback from readers.  Yes, I know that reviews aren’t for authors – they’re for other readers – but sometimes I’m surprised at what has resonated with others.  Case in point:  a certain scene from one of my books keeps getting quoted, when I had actually considered removing it from the final version  completely.

4.  Time – I’ve devoted countless hours to this endeavor, and I’m lucky that I’ve been able to do so.  Just a couple of years ago, with two small children, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do this writing thing justice.  So I didn’t even try.  Now that they’re older, I’m able to squeeze in this second career.  It’s still not easy with a full time job, but I joke that I don’t sleep much.  When I do, I sometimes dream about story arcs.

5.  Social Media – Without it, no one would have heard of me.  At all.  It’s still not far from the truth, but at least I’m kinda sorta respectable.  It’s a small victory that when you Google my name, you now actually get me instead of being redirected to “Alicia Klein”.  I know I don’t market my books as much as I should, but when I want to, it’s mine for the taking.  I’m much more likely to make an irreverent statement on Twitter than to post a book link.  Or anything about my book, actually.  On my Facebook fan page, though, I’m all about the books.  Or at least romance.

6.  Ideas – Because without them, I’d have a serious case of writer’s block.  I’m in no way an outliner, but I already know how the final installment of my series is going to play out.  That’s two releases away, if you’re keeping track.  And I’ve got the basis for three stand alones after that.  I hope I come up with more soon, or I’ll be screwed in about three years.

7.  Characters – They write themselves in some ways.  I want to be friends with most of them.  Others I’d like to strangle.  But I’ve shocked myself at how easy it is to immerse myself in their lives like they are living, breathing people.

8.  Freedom – I ultimately answer to myself and no one else.  I’m not confronted with deadlines or expectations from outside sources.  I don’t release a novel until I’m happy with it.  The final product is something that I can be proud of (and should be), because it has me written all over it.

9.  Stability – I don’t rely on writing to pay my bills.  I don’t have to.  This means that I write what I want to instead of jumping on the trend bandwagon in hopes of becoming popular.  I’d rather be obscure than feel like I sold out.

10.  Sales – Every. Single. One.  Enough said.

Us Versus Them

I’m about to go on a rant here.  Hopefully, I won’t come across as an unholy bitch.  That’s not my intention at all.  But seriously, I’m sick and tired of a couple of bad apples ruining things for the entire bunch.

Most of us author types are professionals.  And by professionals, I don’t mean we rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars while practicing our craft.  I mean that we act like adults and are courteous.  We treat others like we want to be treated.  Of course we are also human, so our feelings get hurt.  But by and large, we think before we act, because we all know that in this day and age everything we do is public.  The majority of us do not have online hissy fits on social media or stalk people that give our books 1 star reviews.

But every time an author (self or traditionally published – because it happens in both camps) oversteps their boundaries, the rest of us are made to feel like we should hang our heads in shame, too.

It reminds me of high school, and an online version of us versus them.

So now we have bloggers mad at authors and vice versa.  Lines are drawn in the sand and generalities have been made.  And what everyone seems to forget is that we are all supposed to be on the same side, right?

A recurring theme that I’ve heard from both sides is “they don’t appreciate what we do for them”.  Granted, these are the people whose opinions are at opposite ends of the spectrum and who in turn are the most vocal.

Let’s recap:

Bloggers – read authors’ books on their own time, generally don’t get paid, post honest reviews on many outlets, provide a means of promotion for authors, do their best to pimp out the stuff they like.

Authors – generally provide free copies of books for blogger review, do interviews, write bonus scenes, character interviews, etc. that become content for other people’s blogs, provide prizes for giveaways.

Just like in any relationship, there’s a mutual give and take if this is to work correctly.  And when both sides do their part, it’s beneficial to all involved.  But when hard feelings enter the picture, it’s difficult to have shiny happy people on either side of the fence.

How about we get back to basics and realize that no one owes anyone else anything?

If a blogger doesn’t want to read books and write about them, then they shouldn’t.  If the time that they are devoting to blogging should be spent instead at work or with family or whatever, then that is what should be done.  For most bloggers, this is a hobby and it should be at least halfway enjoyable.  If this starts feeling like work (the dreaded kind) or a chore, then it’s going to come across that way to readers.

If an author doesn’t want to give away books to bloggers for free, then they shouldn’t.  At the same time, they shouldn’t expect a bunch of review coverage for that upcoming release.  And certainly if a review or ten pop up, don’t have a meltdown if they aren’t favorable enough.  Even bad reviews spark interest.  Don’t want to do a giveaway?  Hate writing bonus content for other people?  Fine.  No one is holding a gun to your head and making you do those things.

And while we’re on the subject of criticism (constructive, not the threatening or attacking kind) , here’s my take.  If you can’t handle it, you shouldn’t publish anything in the first place.  Sure, pass your Word doc around to your mom or your friends, who will tell you how awesome it is, then stick it in your closet and forget about it.  If you can’t put on your big girl panties, you have no business selling your writing to the general public.

I’ve had some great interactions with bloggers myself.  I certainly can’t be the only author who has had a blogger (on more than one occasion) actually purchase the next book in my series because they enjoyed the one that I gave them for free.  And goodness, if I would have known that they were that into my writing, I would have handed over coupon codes for all of my releases.

I’m lucky enough to have one blogger who doesn’t even ask for book descriptions anymore – I simply let him know that I’ve got a new novel ready and within five minutes I get an email back saying “send it”.  Those are the relationships we should all strive to have.  And if I, a literary nobody, have already fostered this, then I’m sure there are plenty more instances out there.

But we never hear about the good, which happens a lot more than the bad.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Why are we wasting our efforts on people who are drawing attention to themselves in the wrong way?  Shouldn’t we be ignoring them instead?