Planning Ahead – Author Update

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I got four calenders for Christmas. FOUR. There are four rooms in my apartment, counting the bathroom. I have a calender surplus.

With the pug calender my boyfriend got me, I’ve written in important book dates from February to October. I’ve planned out when I need to finish writing Wildflower Crown (cough… cause that’s still not done… cough…), when I need to have the first and second rounds of editing done, when I need to start hyping it, when I need to have the second round of editing for Only in Whispers done, when I need to order my proof copies, when I’ll release them…

If all goes well, Wildflower Crown will come out this summer. Yes, I wrote it after Only in Whispers, and it’s further behind, but it takes place during the summer, and Only in Whispers takes place during fall, so I want to release them in their respective seasons. I know that I said some time ago that Only in Whispers was supposed to come out this month or so, and I lied, so hopefully my new plan works out better. It leaves ample time to get stuff done, and this summer is pretty much open to whatever I decide to write next.

At this point, it’s a toss up between Vica’s story and Enona’s story. Vica’s would be set in the same kingdom as Kiss of the Fey, but before Johara’s time, and Enona’s would be set in a new kingdom. Neither have titles, because the only planned books with titles have to wait. One is a sort of sequel to Wildflower Crown, but I don’t want it to seem like a sequel, since it can stand on it’s own, so I’m waiting a little to start it. The other is Kasmira’s story, so hers will come last after I’ve expanded ALL the ideas for the Fairy Curse Novels.

Beyond that, I have two more books planned, which would make for a total of nine (I think nine) books in the universe. It may end up being way more, who knows. I have sketchy plans for another medieval fantasy trilogy about a witch and a transexual vampire possibly set in the same universe as the Fairy Curse Novels so that I don’t have to make up another continent, and I have more solid plans for a modern paranormal series that I will give no details on >:D

-Charlotte Cyprus

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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.

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.