Monday, September 15, 2014

Authors Anonymous Review


"Authors Anonymous" is a mockumentary about an author group and how they handle it when one of their members gets a book deal.

It got terrible reviews on rotten tomatoes. In my opinion, it's because "Authors Anonymous" is not a movie that people outside of the writing community are going to understand. They might on a superficial level understand the things that the writers are experiencing and doing, but we've all been in similar situations or seen people in similar situations. Ironically, it would be nice to have an author group that I could have watched it with and discussed it afterwards.

I thought it was one of the best representations of writers in movies. Of course, it was mocking us and it's going to make you cringe several times while you are watching it (because it's showing the worst side of writers) and maybe even shout about how it's wrong (about things like self-publishing), but that's because the jokes are written by someone who's been through all of it before. So they know how to hit really close to home.

It showed how narcissistic, yet insecure we all are. The constant rejection we face. And even how sometimes, when we're doing really poorly, we'll cling to any little inkling of success like we're dying and it's a lifeboat.

I was happy to see that the cast included several familiar actors and actresses. They played their parts well.

If you saw the movie, what did you think of it?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why I Am Thankful For Kindle Unlimited

When I released Medusa's Desire, it was with the eagerness and excitement of a newly published author. I wanted to try every marketing trick because it was all new and shiny.

Book Tour? YES!

Offering a free copy of my novel to any book blogger or reader who wanted to review it? YES!

Contests on my blog? OF COURSE!

Author Interviews? THROW THEM AT ME!

Guest Posts? ANYWHERE I CAN!

And the evidence of this is available when you google "Medusa's Desire" and get several pages of blog posts related to my book.

A short time later, I released Pandora's Mistake. I wanted a free book to do my advertising for me and I have to admit that it gave me pretty good results, so I thought,"Hey! I don't need to market anymore. My free book will do my marketing for me."

I gave all that extra effort up and my days went like this:

Social Media. Social Media. Write. Rewrite.

I thought that all I needed to do was get to know people on social media and then maybe if they enjoyed my posts online, they might try reading my book.

Soon, it turned into a routine. Social Media is fun, so I go on there and call it "work" even though I'm usually just using it to entertain myself. I checked my downloads and sales on Amazon. They were pretty much the same every month. I grew complacent because I knew what to expect.

Then Kindle Unlimited was released and the days kept rolling by with zero sales. I was in denial. The sales are just slow right now. They'll speed up eventually. They always speed up.

But they didn't speed up and near the end of the month, I only had one sale. I realized in horror that things weren't going to pick up.

I thought,"Oh my God! This is the end. I tried to be a self-published author and failed. Kindle Unlimited has defeated me."

It felt like my heart was being crushed. This was my dream. I honestly don't know who I am to some degree without it.

So I mentally slapped myself and said,"Hell, no! You get up and you fix this!"

So I googled everything I could about Kindle Unlimited. I wasn't selling many books on Barnes and Noble, Itunes, etc., so I decided it was worth a try. Nothing can hurt when your sales are basically zero.

And so far, it's brought me back to the sales that I had before. That should be great, right?

Except it's not good enough for me anymore. Kindle Unlimited showed me that everything could be taken away from me with one simple change. I have to work hard to finish my manuscripts, but also work hard to promote each book I release.

Everything's new and shiny again! It's time to have fun promoting my books!

Friday, September 5, 2014

What To Do If You Make A Fool Of Yourself On Social Media

Things go viral unexpectedly and some of those things are humiliating. I think, as authors, we are always terrified of saying something stupid or making a typo (it happens to me all the time and it's no big deal) and looking like an idiot in front of a bunch of people because of it. Most of us are authors, rather than actors, because we don't like to be the center of attention. We prefer our characters to be. So being in front of all those people on social media is unnerving.

I will admit that this is even difficult for me. My books aren't me, so if you hate them, we can still be friends. But if I post something and you declare that everything I say is stupid and how could someone so horrible be allowed to live, then it's probably not going to lead to a deep friendship.

While, so far, I haven't had anything humiliating go viral, I have angered people with things I've posted and even had people threaten me because of it. Trust me, anything can anger people. I've even had someone rant about my cat pictures. In the past, as a regular person (and not an author), I've been flamed, bullied, stalked, and had my picture posted other places with rude comments. But I got over it every single time.

It's the internet and those things happen. Here's what to do if you find yourself in the situation:

STEP 1:

BREATH AND STEP AWAY.

Here's the great thing about the internet. You can shut it off and never log on to it. If your life lands on the news, you'll have reporters stalking you and harassing you. But when you anger the internet? All that you have to do usually is shut it off.

So take a moment to breathe. You're emotional right now and of all times in your life, you need to be in the most control of yourself right now. If you need to scream or cry, do it to people you know in person, but online, you must think before you type or say anything to fix this.

Making a fool of yourself online is actually the best place you can make a fool of yourself. I know people scare people by saying things like,"The internet is forever." But in real life, when you say something stupid, you're usually stuck trying to fix it right away and stuttering through the whole thing and failing to make anything better. And it's not like that person is going to change their mind about you later. You messed up their opinion of you forever as well.

When you mess up online, you can step away while you are still emotional to think before you type. If need be, type your whole message, with emotions in it and all, up first, and then delete it and write something else that you think will calm the situation down.

The fact that it's typing instead of speaking makes it easier to deal with at your own pace.

STEP 2:

DELETE AND IGNORE.


Even if what you said is getting passed around, deleting it will make it so that less people will see it because they can't find it at the original source.

It might feel like the whole world knows about it, but I guarantee you that there are still people out there who have no idea what is happening.

I know people worry that it will make you seem remorseful about what you posted and like you back down on your opinions, but that isn't true. Think of the last celebrity or CEO who said something that offended you. They probably took those words down and apologized. If so, did you believe the apology? Probably not.

Deleting isn't about apologizing. It's about calming everyone down. It makes it harder for people who are dwelling on the issue to come back and comment on it. While it's still up, people can keep replying to the original post and each other. It keeps getting worse.

A lot of times they are waiting for a reaction from you, so if you say nothing, then they'll quickly run out of things to say as well.

You can't control what people pass around, but you can control what is and isn't posted on your accounts. So surround yourself with positivity by focusing on the positive things, instead of the way people are tearing you down.

Because a lot of times when you try to defend your actions, you wind up looking more stupid to people and making them mock you more. The goal is not to win the argument. It's to make everyone forget, so you can be in peace. You likely can't win the argument. But you can make people forget that they were arguing with you in the first place.

All this reminds me of the time that I saw an author respond to a book review, flaming the person and insisting that they take the review down. At first, it was just an argument between the two of them. But she kept coming back, kept trying to defend her book and how the review was unfair.

Instead of winning people over, more people heard about the fight and started to join in, mocking her as well. If she had just shut up and deleted the first comment, it wouldn't have escalated to the point it did.

STEP 3:

APOLOGIZE.

If you hurt someone's feelings, sometimes the best thing to do is apologize, even if you feel like right now that you weren't in the wrong. Try to see it from their point of view and own up to what you might or might not have done.

You don't even have to retract what you said completely when you apologize. Even just wording the same thing in a nicer tone and apologizing if your tone came off poorly can sometimes calm people down.

It's humiliating, but sometimes we just have to own up to things and try to make people feel better. Your goal is to sell more books and that means meeting people at their level.

And it means more if you apologize to the person through a message rather than publicly. Doing so publicly makes it seem like you are just trying to win people back over. Unless you offend a large group of people, then this rule doesn't apply. But if it's a single individual and they are posting what you did everywhere, then go to them privately and see if you can calm them down.

STEP 4:

MAKE IT INTO A JOKE.


If you're the butt of a joke, sometimes it can help to go along with it. Mocking yourself shows that you have a good sense of humor and also makes people feel closer to you. Because you haven't made enemies out of them, you've joined in on the fun.

And they start to get to know you more for your awesome personality and not just whatever stupid thing you may have said.

But you should probably wait to do this until a significant time has passed and not when it's still fresh in people's minds.


STEP 5:

REMEMBER THAT SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE MAKE IDIOTS OF THEMSELVES.


Famous people make idiots of themselves online all the time. How many celebrities have gotten into twitter fights and it been all over the news? Think of CEOs who have said controversial things and people have boycotted their companies.

Eventually, everyone forgets about it and moves on. The companies and celebrities rarely lose their jobs over it, so you'll likely be fine, too.

And the best way for this to happen is for you to stop dwelling on it and stop beating yourself up over it. If you stop talking about it online and instead talk about other things, people will get to know you for those other things. You'll stop being just the person who made a stupid mistake, you'll become more than that.

The only reason people are replying and getting angry at what you are saying is because it's relevant to them. Relevance is actually a good thing. It means people find you important.

Do you know how many people say horrible stuff on twitter and facebook every day and no one cares?

If they care about you, it means you are special and are given an opportunity to either sell a product or even deliver a message if you want to about something that's important to you. Because people listen to what you have to say.

It hurts, but it's also a gift.

Because sometimes you can take the lemons of life and make lemonade out of them. This is one of those instances. So don't be afraid of it. Embrace it.

----

I just want you to know that sometimes, even when you are not making a fool out of yourself, you might get into arguments with people online. That's okay. Just breathe and take breaks if you need to, like I said in step one.

Don't worry about whether or not you win an argument. Almost no one wins arguments online, we just make one another angry.

But it's part of openly expressing yourself. Everything is an opinion. Even this blog post is an opinion. And if you have an opinion, there is someone out there who disagrees with you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thoughts So Far On Kindle Unlimited

I can't say for sure at this point if the effects of Kindle Unlimited will be long term with my book, but so far, things seem to be going good.

My sales (including the kindle unlimited sales) seem to be back to what they were before.

So I wouldn't say that my book is doing better than it was before Kindle Unlimited happened. I wouldn't (at this point in time) recommend it unless you've seen a significant sales drop and aren't currently selling well on other sites like Barnes and Noble and Itunes.

I've actually been receiving more regular sales than Kindle Unlimited sales since I joined (I was getting very few regular sales before), which makes me think that if you are in Kindle Select, Amazon does things to make sure your book is more visible than those who aren't exclusive, even to customers who are not using Kindle Unlimited.

I would also recommend using either your free days or the discount days to help boost your rank, but if you are using the free days, it's probably a good idea to spread them out and only schedule one day at a time, since the free downloads natural drop after the first day.

I'll let you know more about it as I learn more.

And in the mean time, feel free to share your thoughts on Kindle Unlimited with me as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kindle Unlimited

One of the frustrating things about being a self-published author is seeing your sales fluctuate and not knowing why. We have data that tells us how many books we've sold and when, but not data that tells us why these facts are true. That part is a guess.

This month has been the worse month of sales for me thus far. Parts of July were pretty bad, too, but not as bad as this month. In total, I have sold exactly one book this entire month. It's better than nothing, but only slightly better.

I'm not going to tell you what I usually sell, but I have a free book and people download that a lot. Pretty consistently, I've been selling about 10% of the amount of free downloads I get. But for this month, for some reason, I sold a lot less than that.

I am working on writing my novels daily and I know part of the problem is that I haven't released anything new in over a year. But part of the reason for that is because when I release my next book, I will be releasing two books at once (or at least in a relatively short period of time.)

I'm not very good at writing book series. With the Greek myth books, they are stand alones that only mildly effect one another, so I can release them as I write them, but with most books, I need to write the entire series before I release any of the books or I will write myself into plot holes.

I thought I was done writing these books about 8 months ago, but then I showed the novels to my critique partners and their advice basically equated to "rewrite both of them", so now, here I am, starting from scratch with these two novels. I also plan to go through another round of critiques before I publish and send the stories to my editor. All in all, it will take me at least a few more months before they are done.

Anyway, it might be a coincidence, but I noticed that my drop in sales occurred around the same time as Kindle Unlimited happened. I get that if it's what caused it. Who wants to buy a book that costs 1/3 of their subscription, when they can get many more books than that with their subscription!

So after weeks of thought, I have decided to take down Medusa's Desire from everywhere except for Amazon and enroll it in Kindle Unlimited. You can officially download it for "free" with kindle unlimited, in fact, as of yesterday. (Thank you Smashwords for being so quick to take my books down from all those sites! It makes me sad to do this to you because you were so cooperative!) I was selling virtually nothing at the other sites anyway.

But I did it with a heavy heart, I will admit. Part of being a self-published author is enjoying the fact that you are free and in control of what happens to your novels. So therefore, I'm going to be pretty reluctant about throwing all my eggs in one (Amazon) basket. It feels like I am giving the reins of my career over to them. Because as they showed with Kindle Unlimited, they can change everything in a short period of time.

I don't even know for sure if Kindle Unlimited caused this. I don't know how many people are using Kindle Unlimited. (I know that as a reader it sounds like a wonderful deal to me and I am thinking about using it, which is weird and gives me conflicting feelings inside.) I also don't know how many people are actually going to read ten percent of my book.

It's kind of hard on the ego, worrying about that. When I make a sale, that's all I have to worry about. Someone bought my book and even though I'd like them to read it, even if they don't, at least they gave me money for it!

Are they going to treat my book like a lot of them treat my Pandora's Mistake novel? It doesn't bother me, but I know a lot of people download Pandora's Mistake just because it's free and never read it.

But when it's my paid book and the only way I can get income, it sort of does bother me. Will people even be motivated to read it if they don't feel like they had to spend that much money on it? Will they get bored before they reach 10% and I'll never see any of the money?

On Amazon's part, I think they're being genius by doing this. I think they're going to make a lot of money with Kindle Unlimited.

But what will it do to me? Will it help to enroll at all? Will it hurt me because my book is no longer available on Barnes and Noble or Itunes?

And it makes me want to write more short stories. After all, if you write a short enough story, then pretty much they only have to turn one page and they've already read 10% of your book.

Being a self-published author is a lot about experimentation. This is my latest experiment in publishing.

I know a lot of you don't want to try this, but seeing how bad my sales were this month, I am willing to be the guinea pig.

And I hope to tell you how it's going later. (But I might not mention it again if things go bad. That's not exactly what you look forward to admitting to in a blog.) I won't have maps and charts and numbers the way some authors do, but I will have a general idea of whether or not it's helping anything.

So how do you feel about Kindle Unlimited?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When You First Started Writing Versus Now

The more you write and publish, the more you improve as an author and the more your viewpoints on things change. Here's some examples:

1. When you finish the first draft of a novel...

The First Time: "Oh my God, you guys! Let's celebrate with some champagne! I just finished writing my first novel!"

Later Times: "Oh my God, you guys! Do you want to grab a beer? I just started writing this novel and I have a headache thinking about how much work it will still need before it's finished."

2. When you think of your strengths...

At First: "I'm such a wonderful writer! People will be amazed at my vocabulary and grammar! I will be on every bestselling list as people bow down and worship me!"

After Many Query Letter Rejections And One Star Reviews: "People hate my writing, but I love their hatred! Your mean words can't hurt me because I'm used to rejection, Neener-neener-neener! I dare you to write a one star review with more curse words than that last one. It's like jumping off a cliff, it gives me an adrenaline rush!"

3. When you get critiques back...

The First Time: "Everything is marked in red! Does this mean I'm terrible at writing?"

Later Times: "Wait, what? There's a whole page of my novel with no critiques on it?! You have to rip my story to shreds or I'll look terrible in front of my readers."

4. When you start selling books...

The First Time: "I am going to make thousands of dollars a month!"

Later Times: "Yes! I made $20 this month! That's a dollar better than last month!"

5. When you talk about your muse...

The First Time: "I sit down and try to write, but my muse doesn't come to me. I have to be in the right mood. She's so fickle."

Later Times: "The muse is my bitch! I hold a gun to her head and make her work with me every day or we don't get paid."

6.  Regarding Social Media...

The First Time: "You mean, I have to actually get online and talk to people sometimes? *gulp* I just want to write and not bother with that stuff!"

Later Times: "You mean, I actually have to get off social media and write sometimes? *frown* But I love talking to people and they need to see more of my cat pictures!"

7. Talking About Characters...

The First Time: "I created this character. She's so cool! Let me tell you about her."

Later Times: "I'm writing about this character and she keeps changing the story in ways that she's not supposed to. I'm the writer, but it feels like sometimes she's the one writing through me. Wait, don't go. I swear I'm not crazy! I only argue with my characters sometimes!"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Memory And Writing

Something that frustrates me is that when I watch movies and television shows, I forget a lot of the details soon afterwards. I have a terrible memory when it comes to these things, especially if I only watch them through one time.

I have seen all the episodes of Bob's Burgers, for instance, and I have a friend who is obsessed with that show and quotes it all the time. I laugh and pretend I know what she is saying, but in my head, I go,"What episode was that again?"

This extends to my writing as well. It's a gift on one hand. If I take a long break from writing a certain story, I can come at it with fresher eyes than many authors can because I've already forgotten most of what I was saying. But it's bad when I'm trying to write a book series because while I am writing it, I easily forget details sometimes from previous books (and have to re-read those) or my stories get riddled with plot holes.

Last night, I drank a caffeinated beverage. I never drink caffeine because I have anxiety problems, but I couldn't seem to help myself. I also decided to do this at midnight, which is a wonderful idea, especially since I'm not used to caffeine anymore and should have been going to sleep.

So I sat in my living room, wide awake and jittery, in the dark, with my kindle.

I was going to re-download my books. I keep hoping that re-downloading them will somehow update them on my device (but it never does), so that I can read what you guys are reading and make sure that the formatting is going well. I always preview the formatting, but I don't trust the preview for whatever reason. I make little changes on the formatting sometimes and I need to make sure those are translating the right way.

So I start rifling through Pandora's Mistake and instead of just glancing at every page, I start re-reading the story. And pretty soon, I am engrossed in reading it because I can't remember anything that I wrote the first time around.

I start laughing hysterically and going,"Pandora's so naive!" And I feel like a crazy person because I wrote this book and I can't even remember anything that I wrote. And people would probably think I was crazy if they were reading it outloud and I was going over and over again,"Oh yeah! I forgot that I had written that!" Because I finished writing it a little over a year ago, so how have I already forgotten the entire thing?

To me it's like looking through one of those old photo albums with your family while you nudge each other and say,"Remember when we did that!" And you go,"Oh yeah! I forgot about that!"

So I finished re-reading Pandora and will likely have to re-read Medusa as well. Because I am hoping that as soon as I finish writing these "God Of Light" books, that I can start working on my Sisyphus novel. (I wrote one chapter for it one time and that made me excited.)

 But I'm also trying to finish up critiquing two things and have a lot more work to do on the "God Of Light" books, so it might be awhile before that happens.