Posting Reviews on Amazon

Alright, Amazon has made things a little more complicated for posting reviews on books you didn’t purchase. To post a review, you have to use this link http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews?ie=UTF8&action=preview if you haven’t bought a copy. You can mention that you got a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review or just go ahead with your review, whichever. I had a friend who couldn’t find any link other than the “Post a Customer” review link on the book’s page that wouldn’t let her review it since I had given her a free copy, but there might be somewhere else on the actual page to review it that I’m just missing.

Anyways, I’m still giving out free copies of my book to those of you who will review it on Amazon/Goodreads/their blog, so just fill this out if you’d like a copy!

As soon as I figure out Smashwords and get Amazon to cooperate, I shall be back to posting normal blog posts. Until then~

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I’m officially published on Amazon!

As it turns out, Amazon is full of shit when it says “Processing will take 3-5 business days”, so Kiss of the Fey is out a day early. What I will take away from this is that I shouldn’t set hard release dates, because Amazon doesn’t know what it’s doing. I published the Kindle version AFTER the paperback version (like actually clicked the button) but it says that it was published yesterday, even though it was after midnight when I hit submit, but the paperback version says it was published today.

Oh well. The moral of the story is that you can find my book here, so check it out! Also, for the last time, I’ll remind everyone that to follow my author blog you can just hop on over to here.

I’m also looking for people to review my book, both on Amazon/Goodreads and on their blogs! If you’re interested in getting a free PDF copy, fill out your information here and I’ll get that emailed to you.

So that’s that. I hope everyone will enjoy my book! I’ve worked really hard on it. I shall now celebrate being published by climbing a mountain. (Seriously. I’ll post pictures, assuming it doesn’t rain on us.)

How to Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step Four: Marketing

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So, I hear you want to know how to market your book. Well, that’s a mixed barrel of apples. Maybe. I’m not sure that that means what I think it means, it just sounded like it belonged there.

Anyways, I will divide up this post for people with money and people without.

First: People with money.

Clearly, marketing will be easier for you. You can pay to use advertising services, pay Amazon to make your book look good, pay Facebook to show your posts to people. That’s all well and good, but I don’t know much about that area. I just don’t have the money.

Another thing to do would be to get your own website, even if it’s just the WordPress site without the “wordpress” in the url. That will make you look more professional, assuming you’re not using one of the layouts that seem like a bad Myspace profile from back in the day.

Finally, you can market to real people, in real life. Tiny book shops are everywhere (at least around where I live). Go in, ask for the owner, pitch your book to them. Ask if they’d like to put them on their shelves. Not only is this marketing, but they’re buying them from you to put on their shelves, so it’s a profit already. If they don’t sell any they obviously won’t be coming back to you, but hey, that’s business. Doing that sort of thing can get your recognized as a local author, which in turn may get you into the local newspaper or interest piece on the news, which will alert more people to you. This is how they used to do self-publishing back in the day, before Amazon. You can order a box of books from Createspace, it’s like $4 a book plus shipping. I plan to try this if I make enough money from online publishing so that it wouldn’t be coming out of pocket. If that happens, I’ll come back and edit this to tell you how it went.

Now, for the fellow penniless… pennilessers? Don’t you moneybags go away, because this is something you have to do too!

What y’all need are reviews. There are a few ways of getting them. One, force everyone you know to read and review your book. Secondly, have them post a review on Amazon, and make sure they don’t mention that they’re your Auntie.

Two, you can give away free copies of your books for reviewers. Go to any forum or Facebook group and offer the free pdf/mobi/whatever in exchange for an honest review. Keep giving them away until enough reviews appear on the page (not everyone who accept a copy will review, that’s life). If they’re mostly two and three star reviews, you might want to pay attention to what they’re saying. Why don’t people like your book? Is it a legitimate problem? Is this something your beta readers pointed out and you ignored?

Finally, you need to get book bloggers to review your book. Blogs with large audiences would be best, but they won’t always have time for you or accept self-published books. You can just ask your followers to review your book for you or you can look around for all the book bloggers you can find and ask if they’ll review your book. Keep in mind, they might not have the time. They might not get around to it for months. These things happen. The best thing you can do is wait.

Obviously, another good thing to do is to blog about it. If you’re writing a book about cooking and you start a cooking blog that gathers 10,000 followers, that’s obviously going to do better than a cook book released from a random unknown author. However, if you’re on here I’m going to assume that you’re a blogger and move on, because you know what I’m talking about.

Another thing to draw readers in once you have the book out there is a low price. My ebook is going to be available for only 99 cents, which can prompt wary readers into thinking “Well, it’s only a dollar, I guess I’ll try it”. There are also ways to give away free copies of your ebook for short periods. This method will not only get more people interested in your book, but they’ll be more likely to buy any other books you have out, especially if it’s a series.

Which brings me to my next point: You need to write another book. Sorry, but one isn’t gonna cut it. You don’t have to write a series, but you need another book in the same genre. Kiss of The Fey comes out on Monday but I’m already halfway through writing A Game of Madness and in November I’ll write The Wildness Within. I can then publish those as soon as they’re good and edited. More books just makes more sense. If they like one, they’ll try another. That means more sales. That means you’re doing something right!

I hope this helped you professionally publish your book! There’s not going to be a step five, but self-publishing pug will be back. Someday.

Publishing is SO MUCH WORK

It is. Seriously. Like I understand why some self-published books look like poo. A lot of effort needs to go into those books to make them legit.

Here is a gif related to nothing.

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But yeah, if I can’t get a real job after school I’m totally going to start my own self-publishing business. Just basically connecting with authors who want to self-publish and formatting/editing/finding a cover for them at a reasonable cost. I’ll be prepared for it by then, because I’ll have two or three of my own books published by then and also I’ll have worked for two years at my school’s writing center. Let me tell you, you have not seen the decline of America’s education system until you’ve read the ENGL100 papers that I’ve seen.

School starts Monday, and my last day of work is tomorrow. I have to pack all my stuff up for school (and it’s an apartment, not just a dorm, so I also have to shop for food and such) and head there on Friday, I have a job interview on Saturday AND I’m volunteering to answer Freshmen questions for two hours AND my parents are coming up with some bigger things that won’t fit in my car, then Sunday will basically be preparing for school. I won’t be posting a lot until I settle in, probably.

However, this is also a reminder that Kiss of The Fey will be out on the 1st! I barely have any time left. I thought that I’d be set for August 1st and I was like no, I’ll wait just in case, and thank god I did. I’m ordering my (hopefully) last proof copy with all the final corrections as soon as CreateSpace is done approving the files.

Basically there is a lot going on right now. A lot. No time for blogging, only packing.

How To Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step One: Editing

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I posted something similar to this before, but I want to go more in depth now, so we’re going to start with the first part of the story. The content. This is the simplest part, but it’s the easiest to get wrong. Technically step one is to write the novel, but we’ll pretend editing is the first step. (If you haven’t written a novel I don’t know why you’d be here in the first place.)

What you really need for this part is an editor. Freelance editors are easy to find if you have internet access, and if you’ve been blogging about writing or reading for long enough you’ve probably come across some editors in your time here. Pick someone you trust who has good reviews/recommendations that’s within your price range. If you’re not sure about them, ask if they can do a smaller chuck of your work to see if you can work together alright.

Another option is to obviously get an editor that works with an agency, but that will be more expensive and those editors are bound to be more selective. Some won’t take submissions unless you have an agent. However, once you decide to hire an editor, your life is relatively easy. You just need to work with the suggestions they make and correct highlighted mistakes. Bam, you’re done.

Note: Do NOT try to haggle down the price unless it’s $10,000 or something ridiculous. These people are trying to make a living. You wouldn’t like it if someone said, “Oh, you’re self-published, that means your book isn’t worth more than X amount” so why would you do that to an editor?

However, I know that a lot of people who are just starting out don’t have money for an editor, and you know what? That’s fine. We can’t let money stop us from being in the publishing game, so here’s how I prepared my novel.

First off, I finished writing. Then I let it stew for a while before going back and making changes on my computer. For the second draft, I printed it out and looked through for mistakes. I also rearranged scenes, cut out parts that didn’t fit well with the story, and worked on my characterizations. I typed it all up and then read through it another time, again fixing any mistakes I found. By then, it was looking pretty polished. I printed out a proof copy and gave it to my mother to look for mistakes (she’s not really the best or most observant of beta readers, but hey, I didn’t have anyone else). Finally, I printed out another proof copy for myself and am going through fixing all errors that I find, including extra spaces after hyphens, quotes that face the wrong way, saying her instead of his…. all the fun little things that can easily slip by. It will be my last run through the novel. There were other drafts with minor changes in between, but that’s the gist of it.

If you noticed, I wasn’t nitpicking things for my second draft. Or my third. The first thing you look for should NOT be grammar and spelling, though you can fix that too if you pick up on it. You HAVE to look at the content of your novel. Does the plot make sense? Are your characters consistent throughout the story? Are there things that your readers wouldn’t understand? Basically, is it a good story? Does it make you want to keep reading? Are there things you have in there that sounded good while writing, but don’t really fit anymore? It can be hard to cut out scenes and characters that you’ve grown fond of, but it’s for the best in the end.

A beta reader would be useful at this time, but they won’t always want to look at it if the grammar is a hot holy mess. Finding people to read your novel might be hard. You have to make them want to read it, otherwise how will you convince people to buy it once it’s published?

Now, if you don’t know a lot of grammar rules, Google is going to be your friend for these steps. Look up common mistakes or buy a grammar for dummies book. Ask a friend who is English-smart to look over your work (even if you can only convince them to read two chapters at most). If you’re no good at grammar, do NOT say “Oh, it’s okay, it’s just grammar, my story will still be okay.” It won’t. It really won’t.

I read a wonderful story that had little to no editing and it was absolutely terrible. I couldn’t give it a good review because I will not recommend a book that is hard to read. Bad grammar makes a book hard to get through. If on your first page you use the word “alot”, no one is picking up that book. I cannot stress enough how important editing is. If you can’t do it yourself, wait to publish. Either learn about grammar or find someone to help you out (assuming you don’t have money for an editor).

Here are some tips for editing your novel:

  • While reading through the first few chapters in your first draft, make a note of which mistakes you make and how often you make them. If you always forget to use a comma after a dialogue instead of a period, that’s something you know you have to focus on when reading the rest of the story. If you mess up affect/effect a lot, search your document for every instance of those words to ensure you didn’t miss them.
  • Don’t read it through all at once for a grammar run through. For plot/characterization this is fine, but you don’t want to get caught up in the story when looking for errors. Read one or two chapters, take a break, then come back. Each chapter should be fresh. Also, avoid editing while sleepy or drunk. You will not do a good job.
  • Don’t write in all caps, overuse/underuse dialogue, have character react unrealistically to things for the sake of the plot, use words that would be found in the verbal section of the SATs, or write a series for the sake of writing a series (as in, not because the plot calls for it, but because you want to stretch it out).
  • If you don’t have a deadline, set your novel aside for a while. Months, weeks, however long you want. Come back to it and read it again as if it was entirely new. Try to see it like a reader would.
  • Read more. Especially novels in your genre, but any reading will help (assuming it’s news articles and blog posts rather than tweets and craigslist ads). Reading improves your skill in the English language overall.
  • If you have gone through less than three drafts of your novel, it’s not enough. I don’t care if you think it’s the next Harry Potter/50 Shades/(Insert popular novel here), edit it again.
  • Do not treat beta readers as slaves. Beta readers are those people who agree to help you look over your novel. If you’re not paying them, they have no obligation to get back to you. They don’t have to catch every mistake or even read the whole thing. Many beta readers will mysteriously disappear, either because they weren’t that into your story or you were abusing them. Remember that beta readers are an asset. Cherish them.
  • Finally, only send your novel to people that you know you can trust. I’ve personally had my novel stolen (more info here) just from having it on FictionPress. The easiest way to prevent this is to only send it to those you know, but to also only send bits and pieces of it. I put it in a PDF file to make it a bit harder to just copy and paste everything. The best way to ensure that no one can steal your work is to register with the U.S. Copyright Office. To register online is like $35. It will be more once you factor in paper and ink to send in the physical copy of your work, but you have to do this anyways. Get a copyright for your work. Do it. Do it do it do it. Seriously. I’m sending mine in later this week. It’s important. Seriously. (Have I stressed enough that you should do this?)

Next up: Step Two: Cover Image.

Getting closer!

I’m super excited to be getting closer to the release of Kiss of The Fey! I’m reading over the book for some last minute tweaks just to dot my i’s and cross my t’s. I’m really happy with how the book turned out. It’s been a long process, almost four years from the first form of the story until now, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It was worth it.

I’m also working on my second book, and I’m about halfway done with the first draft. I want to get it written as soon as possible. After getting Kiss of The Fey ready for publishing, I realized how much I enjoy all the work! I’m glad I’m publishing right as school starts. All the homework should distract me from the big gaping hole that the editing and formatting previously filled.

I hope you’re all having a great summer!

-Charlotte Cyprus

Excerpt from Kiss of The Fey

Kiss of the Fey

Prologue

Johara stormed away from the balcony, slamming the glass door and making a dramatic entrance into the ballroom. Most of the guests ignored her, but the queen caught her eye and beckoned her over.

“Johara dear, what is this fuss about?” her stepmother asked. She sipped at her drink and kept a smile on her face. The queen was dressed in a smooth silk dress covered in pearls and gems of many colors. Her hair was tucked away without a single strand out of place.

Johara’s dress was ruffled and torn at the strap. She knew that her turban had come askew as well. “A man tried to take advantage of me on the balcony,” Johara said. Belinda shushed her, drawing her back further from the crowd of people.

“Quiet dear,” she hissed. “There’s a party going on. We wouldn’t want news of you losing your flower out on the balcony to spread.”

Continue reading

Sometimes plans don’t work out.

I got the proof copy of Kiss of The Fey today. I was excited… but then I wasn’t.

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You might not be able to tell, but the font looks bad up close. It looks even worse on the back, but there’s nothing I can do about it because the stock image I used for it was only so big. I can’t make it bigger to make the cover into a higher quality image. So I’m going back to the original candle stock image I had and am using that.

Sigh. Whatever. I want to to look good, even if it isn’t as flashy. I just want to get everything ready and formatted. I’m annoyed because I had at least twenty people who promised to read it and give me feedback and I’ve had one person read almost to the end of the first chapter and she basically said that she hated my main character’s name. I’m releasing it September 1st whether or not I get actual feedback on it, so if everyone says it sucks in reviews I’ll just make the changes and release a second edition, I guess. I don’t know. (Official cover is over on my author blog.)

How NOT to self-publish

I’ve been preparing to self-publish for a while now, and at this point I’m looking to see what others like me are doing to publish their books. Nothing good, from what I’ve seen so far. While I know that there are some good self-published books out there, the ones I’m going to talk about probably aren’t them. I admit that I’ll be harping on appearance more than anything, but that has a lot to do with if your book sells or not.

Without further ado, let us start with the first thing not to do:

1. Don’t make yourself invisible. If you want to be an author, you have to be an author. You need an author page. You need a way for fans to contact you if they have questions or praise. You can’t be a name that means NOTHING.

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None of the first page results show an Ava Langley that may be her. This is what should make you consider adopting a penname. Do you want to be confused with the girl on twitter who posts things like, “You’re a fucking dick go die in a hole.”?

But let’s put author in front of her name, shall we?

Well, here’s a blog, but is this the author? Oh, I guess it is.

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No mention of being an author, and I missed the “my available books” at first. Clicking this doesn’t make it look like this is an author’s blog. You need it to be clear for people to connect to your as an author. I’ll admit that my pen name doesn’t show up on Google yet, but I have barely made any posts and my book isn’t available for sale yet. However, if someone found my blog, they wouldn’t be confused.

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Okay, well I realize that I spelled my name wrong, but whatever. I’ll fix that. MOVING ON.

2.  Don’t let your book covers look like shit. Please, please don’t. Even if you have to spend money on it or use Createspace’s cover maker or make the simplest cover ever, don’t do it. I can pick out the self-published authors by the shitty covers.

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If you click on them their publishers are all listed as “Createspace”.  Visually, the middle one isn’t too bad, but you still can’t see the words on the cover.

Then you have one that could be good, but has been way overdone. It’s not hard to pick out bad covers.

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There’s just too much going on and the fonts aren’t easily readable. It’s a hot mess. If you notice, I highlighted an additional part. It claims to be a top selling fantasy novel…

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6 reviews do not a top seller make. Sure, she may have gone to the top seller’s list once her book went down to free, but that doesn’t make it a “Top Seller” because nothing was SOLD.

3. Don’t try to market your book as something that it’s not. If you say it’s a bestseller but is clearly not, people will notice. People will not be amused.

4. Don’t let the inside of your book look as bad as the outside. The interior has to be professionally done like you would see in a real book. If you don’t know how to use Word to achieve these affects, Google it. Don’t be lazy.

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As you can see, that looks terrible. You open your book and have your copyright notice with the same page as the title and then the beginning of the story. Not only that, but the opening isn’t strong. When you know people are going to be basing the opening of your book on this bit that they see, why wouldn’t you read over it and catch something like this? (I’m talking about all the highlighted ands. Way too many in that short span.) Opening with wild action isn’t enough. It still has to be good writing that people want to read.

Normal books have these kinds of pages before the read novel starts:

.1 .2 .3 .4

Obviously a lot of us won’t have a page for reviews, but you should have a copyright page, and one with just the title, and one listing previous publications (if applicable). That’s just how books are set up.

5. Price your book reasonably. You’re not writing a masterpiece. Even if you are, no one knows it yet. You have to price your book at a price that people will be willing to buy it at.

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Looking at the cover I can already tell that it’s not been done professionally. There is a picture of an eye AND THE EYE HAS RED EYE. I don’t know how some people can overlook these details.  But seriously, $18 for a paperback? This better be an AMAZING novel.

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No. This is a teenager just learning how to write. When I was in 5th grade this is how I wrote. You just have to be realistic when deciding to self-publish. Is your work any good? I still don’t know if my work is good enough for publishing, I’m just going to release it and hope that people like it. However, I’m not writing for a profit. I’m writing because I love to write and I want to share my writing with the world.

In conclusion, make stuff look good. Once that’s over, things have to be good. Really, you should start with the content and end with the surface features. You want your book to look like a published book as much as it can. It should also read like one. You shouldn’t self-publish because you think you’re never going to be published by a real publisher, but because of literally any of the other reasons for self-publishing.