The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Favorite Authors

DSC00444Shadows Wake was published July 15, 2015, and since then I’ve learned so much more about the aspects of getting a book seen. And there is one element of this challenge that is directly on the readers.

Books live or die by their reviews.

Does that surprise you? It’s true. Authors cannot submit their books to book lists without a certain number of reviews with a four-star average (the number varies by list). Amazon’s visibility algorithms don’t work until reviews begin stacking up. Some say 50 is the sweet spot, others set a goal for 200.

The best thing you can do for an author you like is to review their book, whether that’s on Goodreads, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Amazon. I’d encourage any reader who enjoyed a particular book to review it both where they bought it and on their favorite review site (e.g. Goodreads) if they have one.

Authors have more promotional opportunities based on their reviews. And honestly, we write for our readers. It’s absolutely wonderful to read good reviews (and educational to read bad ones).

Buying your favorite author’s book is always appreciated, and borrows are great, but it’s the reviews that make others willing to buy the book you enjoyed. It’s the reviews that allow a book to get more exposure. That’s why so many authors are more than happy to give away copies of their books if there’s even a remote chance a review will come of it. The publishing world is different today. Indie authors aren’t paid an advance and most traditional first time authors receive tiny advances. Reviews help books sell, which keeps your favorite author at his or her desk working on the next book you’re dying to read.

Your review doesn’t have to be fancy or wordy. Just write an honest view of the book in a couple lines if that’s all you feel like doing. It helps more than you know. Also, if you are used to reviewing on GoodReads, keep in mind that a four-star on Goodreads isn’t an equivalent review on Amazon. Often a five-star review on Amazon is equal to a four-star on Goodreads.


 

Think of the last book you loved or that made you feel. Go review it. The author will love you for it.

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Indie ReCon and the Self Publishing Summit

indierecon logo Summit logo final cropped

Two weeks ago I attended the Indie ReCon online. If you are interested in publishing, I highly encourage you to bookmark indierecon.org or get on the mailing list for next year’s ReCon.

The event is a nice mix of video and post and included such indie powerhouses as Belle Andre & Barbara Freethy, Joanna Penn, H.M. Ward, many others. There were also several Twitter Q & A sessions using the #indierecon hashtag.

I believe everything is still available at the indierecon.org website. Registration allowed attendees to enter for prizes and I won two: Indie and Proud by Christine Fonseca and a year’s subscription to the Bublish dashboard, which I’m really looking forward to exploring.

Topics ranged from marketing to income to a wonderful Thirteen Reasons You are Not as Successful as You Should Be.

The Self-Publishing Summit was also ongoing in April, with another set of video interviews put together by John Tighe, author of Crush it With Kindle.  Most of the videos are available on his YouTube channel.

The best part about these free, online events is that you are not required to attend live. Both of them provided emails to alert you to a beginning session or provide you with the link for the playback. I did attend as many as I could in case I had questions for the guests, but watched just as many on playback.

If you aren’t sure you are interested in publishing (writing is a calling. Authorship is very much a business), it’s worth your time to check some of the presentations and educate yourself on what is involved. If you know already that you want to publish, you’ll find information for both beginners and those already on the path along with a nice mix of practical tips and strategy.

I’ll put up another announcement next year when registration opens for those who are interested. In the meantime, check out the contents of these events at IndieRecon.org and Self Publishing Summit.


 

Did you attend either event? What was your biggest takeaway?

Ready To Submit your Writing? Get a Submission Tracker

Ready To Submit your Writing? Get a Submission TrackerA couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of getting your work out there, and a couple months ago, I gave some pointers about submitting to literary magazines. Now that I’ve given you the how and why, you’re at the stage where it’s time to start defining your submission plans. What would I suggest?

Make goals

Aim for one hundred rejections. That’s right. This may sound like a glass-is-half-empty kind of approach, but I’ve put a positive twist on it. If you set a goal of one hundred rejections a year, then that means you’ve submitted your work one hundred times. Think about that for a minute.

But if 100 rejections feels like a little too much your first time out, then lower the goal. Either way, make one. Lay out your plan.

Don’t hang your hopes on one piece

The more work you’ve completed and prepped, the better your odds that something gets published. While one piece is away, don’t stop to wait around for the responses. Put it out of your mind. Work on something else — make it even better than what you’ve sent out. You’d be surprised how quickly time passes when you’re focused on something else.

Track your progress

Keep track of when and where you send your stories. If you’re — like me — ridiculously lazy, then I’ve got great news for you! There are tools out there to help you keep track of your story submissions. Thanks to Robyn, I was acquainted with one some months back, and I’ve been using it ever since, but I’ve since learned of others that I think may be beneficial to share with you all. See below.

Submission Trackers

Sonar: A simple, free program developed by author Simon Haynes. It lets you plug in your manuscript name and when/where you send it. When you get a response, you simply check a box, fill out any relevant information, and Sonar does the rest. It tells you how long the submission has been out, too. This is the one I am currently using.

Duotrope: Not free, but apparently quite extensive. Membership (after a free trial period) is $5.00 a month. They have a search that allows you to sift through the market, which makes finding the ideal submission places much simpler. They also have their own custom submission tracker.

Writer’s Planner: Unlike Sonar, this one is an online tracker. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen it recommended elsewhere, so if you’d rather keep it online, then perhaps this one will work better for you.

The Writer’s Database: This one is also an online tracker, and I quite like the layout of it. In addition to the submission tracker, they have a searchable market database and a word count tracker. It’s free, too.

Matt Bell’s submission tracker: For the Excel lovers, this one is a pre-made template, so if you like Excel, but you’re too lazy to make your own tracker (as I would be), then you’re in luck.

In conclusion . . .

The submission process doesn’t have to be a stressful, daunting task. Using current technology can greatly ease the transition into publication. If you’re dealing with multiple or simultaneous submissions, then tracking your output is one way of ensuring you don’t bite off more than you can chew. And since so much of it is free, there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. So there you have it. Submitting made easy! Get your work out there!


Have a special tracker you use that you’d care to share? Any experience with the ones listed above? Let me know in the comments!

Giveaway for Shadows Wake

Hey there. 🙂 Just a couple of updates. Kirsten’s first novel, An Irresistible Shadow, is now out in paperback. (Click on title for buy link.)

Also, I’m giving away five digital copies of Shadows Wake over at my place. Here’s the link for the giveaway and here’s a link for more information about the book.

Shadows Wake Giveaway

 

Working With An Editor

Photo Credit: Joanna Penn via Flickr

Photo Credit: Joanna Pennvia Flickr

Well. The best laid plans of mice and writers, as they say. I learned a lot this week, and the most important lessons were not, as you might suspect, making sure you upload the copy that was NOT converted from .html back to .docx.  However, Shadows Wake is as flawless as we know how to make it. Watch that formatting as it can change between versions and file types. Whew.

Michelle wrote yesterday about her experience as the editor for Shadows Wake. I am happy to report that we are still on good terms! Today, I’ll try to give the writer’s side of her observations.

Relationship matters more than you think.

Picture yourself seated across from someone as you both tug a manuscript back and forth between you. This is not the kind of relationship you want with your editor. Instead, pull your chair around to sit beside her, and work together. Mutual respect is essential. Trust is essential. Patience is a real bonus. The editor is also working for the good of your story. You are on the same team. If this isn’t the case with your current editor, find someone else.

Editing is subjective.

I strongly recommend using just one editor per round or per project. Slight style differences and mark up methods can add up to a real pain. Agree on a style guide before you start and let that style guide settle any disputes. One part of editing is creating consistency throughout your book. Two or more people acting as editors on the same round or project will leave you correcting one’s preference for the other.

One thing I appreciated about Michelle was her willingness to research and provide documentation for anything I challenged. Fortunately, there were only a few obscure points that needed research.

Swallow the ego.

I don’t have a pocket full of ego when it comes to my own writing, but even so, there were a few moments when I bristled at a suggested change.  If that happens, get up and walk away. Come back later and look at it with fresh eyes. In all but one case, the editor was right and I made the change. A good editor isn’t going to try to change your voice, but they will help clarify your prose. If you feel your voice or style is becoming altered, step away for a while or come back to it when you are fresh. Trust that your editor is working for your story, not against you (and she was usually right).

Something else to keep in mind is that we, as writers, are very familiar with our story. Your editor is reading it from a fresh perspective and is better able to point out the areas where we miss because we see it in our mind’s eye instead of as a new reader.

Know what type of edit you want.

Though most people divide editing into three types, I have added a fourth to the list. These are not comprehensive and descriptions vary depending on who you ask.

  • Developmental edits take place right after the rough draft to smooth out plot holes and address both dead paragraphs and areas that need expansion. If you aren’t sure where your story is going or how to use conflict, a developmental edit is a good idea.  Beta readers or a writing group can serve you well here.
  • Content edits watch for continuity, check description, the balance of dialog to prose, identify spots where you are “telling” instead of “showing,” clear up present and past tense inconsistencies, and generally make sure your story makes sense, flows, and has both character development and conflict.
  • Proofreading works on spelling, word choice, dialog tags, grammar, and sentence structure.
  • Line edits check formatting, grammar, punctuation, spacing, and uniformity.

Fact-checking can take place at any level, so make sure you ask your editor if that is part of the editing plan for your book.

Do a good turn.

Include your editor (and her link) in your acknowledgements. I put my editor in the front matter right under my name as well as including her in the comments. Editing is a business just as authorship is. Promote each other. If you are happy with your editor’s work, recommend her.

What are your suggestions for working with editors and/or writers?