Friday, March 29, 2013

The Many Roles of an Author

Authors wear many hats (a term I learned from watching the show Scandal with Kerry Washington.) This is especially true when you're a self-published author. These are the roles I've been forced to adopt.

1. Writer

This one is obvious-to be an author, you need to write. Unfortunately, most self-published authors feel that because of our other roles, we don't get to dedicate the amount of time to our writing that we'd like to. We need to write faster than other authors to keep up and in this day and age, we need to write even more.

After all, right now, I'm writing non-fiction. While most fiction writers in the past didn't spend their time writing non-fiction, I usually do so at least once a week for my blog.

2. Editor

No, I'm not saying that self-published authors can depend on their own skills as an editor and bypass hiring one.

What I am saying is that I spend a lot of time critiquing other people's books. Generally, they're helping me by critiquing my book as well. But since I usually have five critique partners looking over my story, I have to take a month or two off from writing to read their five novels as well.

I spent hours for months on end correcting run-on sentences, crossing out the word "just", and discussing how to make plots stronger. You know what though? I love it. I love reading other people's stories and helping their stories become stronger. It's fun and I learn a lot about my own writing mistakes from it.

3. Marketing/Social Media Expert

Authors do a lot of their own marketing. I have a facebook, twitter, blog, and pinterest account. I socialize with other people. It is fun (and it makes you feel quite lazy spending hours on it), but it takes large chunks out of your life sometimes.

I also do a lot of things behind the scenes like filling out forms and sending e-mails, so I can get reviews for my books, interviews, guest blogs, or my book featured on various sites. When Medusa's Desire came out, I took a month off of writing and critiquing to hire a publicist for a book tour and get my book on as many sites as possible. It's a lot of endless work and even though I'm back in writing mode right now, I haven't been able to ignore marketing my novel completely.

I go through a cycle-I write quickly for up to six months (but I try to be quicker than that), get critique partners and take a few months off of writing, publish my stories and take a month off to market. Then I start all over again.

4. Website Designer

Hiring someone to design a web-site for you can costs thousands of dollars. Luckily, I've been able to find web-sites that help make the process much easier.

But that doesn't mean I get out of using HTML completely. I formatted Medusa's Desire in HTML and have to use it occasionally to get the desired posts on my blog. I have certain basic codes memorized and am learning new ones all the time.

I have to design lay-outs and banners, searching through stock images from hours to days for the right picture, doing the same for the font, and paying money for all of it. I have to edit it and organize it all in a way that's pleasing to the eyes.

I'm constantly updating and working on my web-site. Whenever I release a new novel, I have to spend the first day making sure my blog, website, goodreads, and all other social media reflect that fact.

5. Accountant

As self-published authors, we fund ourselves and our own endeavors. This means keeping careful track of our money, what we can afford and what we can't. We need to keep records for taxes of our expenses and .

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will Macmillan Jones, Author of "Bass Instinct"

Today, I have a special guest on my blog, Will Macmillan Jones, Author of "Bass Instinct."

1) Tell us three unique things about yourself.

 I don’t think I’m unique at all.  There must be loads of other people just like me out there.  If there aren’t then I’m in trouble – who on earth am I going to find to laugh at my jokes?  My teenager is happy to do that, but she extracts a fee in return.

2) Why did you become a writer?

 I love entertaining people.  But I can’t sing, can’t dance, and when I pick up my guitar even my dogs run for cover.  That doesn’t leave me many choices, does it?  This is the easiest of the remaining options!

3) What do you want to tell people with your book?

I don’t really have a message as such.  Oh yes, wait: I’ve just realised what it is!  Long Live Rock N Roll! Rock N Roll ain’t noise pollution.  Johnny, be Good.  Now will you vote for me? Er…. 

4) What authors are inspirations to you?

The Humourists in fantasy have always floated my boat.  Holt, Rankin, and the quite brilliant Sir Terry Pratchett. But the one author who really made me first pick up a pen was Alan Garner.  I read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and wanted to be able to write like that on the spot.

5) How do you make time to write?

I don’t have to make time to write.  If anything, it’s the reverse.  As soon as the computer is on in the morning, the ideas start fizzing and my fingers are itching to get on with it.  The times my day job gets pushed to one side and ignored, are, well – most days if i’m being honest.  Oh dear.  That’s a real confession.

6) Do you have any writing rituals that you must always perform in order to write?

The only ritual I really have is to get some music playing, and a drink at hand (not necessarily alcoholic, despite the rumours!) and I can be away.  The characters all live inside my head, and it’s a bit cramped in there so they are normally eager to get out onto the paper.  Unless they are drunk.  Or have hangovers.  Or they are having a party…

7) When not writing, what do you do with your spare time?

If I’m not writing, or being busy single parenting my teenager, I’m either practising my guitar in the hope I can improve enough to be merely bad, or out on the hills, walking.  I do love getting into the wild places whenever I can.

8) Where can people find you online?

I’m all over the place online.  Facebook, Twitter (@macmillanjones) and of course my two websites: and  I’d like to say I understand all of the technology, but that would be a wild fantasy, so I won’t.

9) Where can people find your book?

I’m very pleased to say that my fantasy series is available very widely.  Amazon, of course: but also both paperbacks and ebooks are on sale at  and also available through the Waterstones and WHS book shops.


Dai the Drinking Dragon has been kidnapped by the Dark Lord for nefarious purposes, and by his receptionist for even less reputable reasons. Without their bass player, The Banned Underground are now in deep trouble with their record label. They have to produce the recordings for an album, and someone has stolen the tapes from the last gig. Can they make some more recordings, or will Freya, the renegade dwarf bass player, distract the boys whilst the Dark Lord's evil schemes come to fruition?

The Dark Lord has found some thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the Dwarf Mansion, but they have other things on their minds - like looting and pillaging the locals, and it's all going wrong again.

Will record-producing Adam set his Ants on The Banned? Or will it all come good in the end? Time is Tight on this one for The Banned Underground...

Thank you for including me as part of your blog tour!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's over 9,000!

So I don't usually post about how many twitter followers I have, even on twitter, but I've been waiting for the day when I would have over 9,000 followers, which happened yesterday. For those of you who don't know or weren't around for it, "It's over 9,000" was a meme started a long time ago because of a dragon ball z video clip someone edited and posted on you tube.

And yes, for those of you who are wondering, I am annoying my family and fiance by asking them,"How many followers do you think I have on twitter?" And when they say,"How many?" I can shout,"It's over 9,000!"

The original clip:

A remix of it (Because I love when people remix videos with music!):

The edited video that started the meme:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coming Out

My name is E.B. Black and I'm a writer.

This sentence should be easy for me to say to people I know in person, but it's not. E.B. Black isn't my real name, it's a pen name I go by because deep down inside, I am afraid of the people I know in person and what their reactions to my writing will be.

I went to church again recently. It's been a long time and I got to see many people that I haven't seen in awhile. I got hugged and I felt deeply cared for. It was wonderful, until they asked me,"What have you been up to lately? What are you working as?"

Stutter.....stutter....I wrote a's hard to explain...stutter.....pause.....But it's about Medusa....mumble.....I'm self-publishing it.....

"Well, you'll have to tell me all about it once it's published so I can buy it!"

I should be jumping for joy, right? But I'm not because all I can think about is.....

Yes! I can't wait for people I went to church with to read my detailed descriptions of an ancient Greek whore house or about Medusa's sisters making genitalia into eating utensils. I'm sure they'll get a kick out of the scene where Medusa performs oral sex in a room full of people under the table. *hearty laughter* She's not even married for any of the sex scenes.

Uh-oh. What will they do when they find out about this stuff? Will I be kicked out of church? Will those loving people stop caring about me?

I respect their beliefs. I'm positive that at the very least when they find out what I wrote, they will disapprove of my writing and that's okay. I'm not trying to force anyone to read it, but I'd like it if they'd still see me as the same nice person because I still am. I just have a crazy imagination to go along with it.

I have cousins who have achieved a lot. One of my cousins, in fact, is a doctor, is married (her wedding was featured in a bridal magazine), and she recently had a baby. I'm very happy for her. She's a wonderful person and works hard for all she got.

But there's that terrifying fear. Am I going to be the freak in the family who self-published a novel that everyone is going to be ashamed of? I'd like it if my Grandmother is proud of me and bragged about what her granddaughter did like she does of my cousins, but deep down inside, I have to realize that she might not accept it once she reads it.

People I don't even know might read my book and hate me because of it. People that I care about could change their opinions about me. Because people judge authors by what they write. They stereotype them.

Being a writer is hard. You have these characters who live in your head and these scenes that flash in your mind. You type it out alone. You dream about it alone. You struggle with it alone.

But it's all so you can share it with other people. It's so exciting! Until you realize you have no idea what the reactions of those people might be.

When getting into a new relationship, I've always nervously had to come out about the truth to the person I'm talking to. I am a writer and sometimes I write about weird things like necromancers and corpses and stuff. Will they think I'm gothic? Will they be frightened? Why does something as silly as coming out about being a writer have to be so dramatic for me?

J.K. Rowling was called a witch who worships the devil by many people I've known just because she wrote about wizards. E.L. James' mental health and morality gets called into question for writing 50 Shades of Grey.

Authors are much more than their books and maybe with social media around, we can teach readers the truth of who we are as people.

It's why I have this blog and sometimes talk about my insecurities, fears, and thoughts. I'm just a normal person with an overactive imagination.

Monday, March 11, 2013

10 Ways To Get More People To Read Your Blog

1. Read other people's blogs.

When I first started blogging, I was obsessed with reading other people's blogs as well. It was how I got most of my followers.

I don't have the time to read blogs the way I used to, but the times when I make the time to, I usually get more page views and comments than the times when I don't.

People want to get to know you when you take an interest in what they have to say first.

Also, sometimes you get the opportunity to link to your blog post in comments (when it's relevant) and that can drive more traffic to your blog as well.

2. Tweet your blog posts and post them to facebook. 

No one will know you updated your blog unless you tell them about it.

3. Exchange Links.

Exchanged links is an easy and passive way to advertise your blog to other people's followers.

In fact, if you'd like to exchange links with me, just add a link to this blog on your site and e-mail me at with the link you want to exchange and I will add you as well. There are directions about it if you scroll down and look at the menu to the right of this post.

4. Write about relevant issues and popular entertainment.

If you write about things that people are already discussing in other areas of life, your words will be more real to them. Because they want to read more information about that popular movie or that item on the news, they will be more likely to read your blog posts. Also, people searching for those things on google might get your blog as a result.

And if those popular movies or news items are similar to what you try to blog about regularly, then that's even better!

5. Find your audience.

Know what type of people you are blogging for. When you know your audience and what they like, it will be easier to hook them and know where to find new readers.

6. Be quick and don't repeat yourself.

Sometimes when we want to explain a point and feel it's very important, we'll reword our thoughts over and over again. The less words you use to express your ideas, the more people are going to read your entire blog post.

7. Make lists.

If I had written all this information as one giant chunk of paragraphs, your eyes would be glazing over right now. Because I made it a list, its quicker and easier to read (because there's so many breaks between each idea!)

8. Use pictures and memes.

Pictures are a quick way to entertain people. Most people have shorter attention spans on the internet than they do other places, so inserting images randomly can help keep them focused and reading.

9. Be personal.

Talk about yourself when you blog. Give examples from your own life when explaining information to people.

I used to try to keep personal stuff out of my blog as much as possible. I wrote about writing and how to do it without involving anecdotes or feelings

When I changed all that, by far, people started reading my blog more. In fact, the post that blogger tells me is my most viewed post is the one I wrote about Ten Random Facts About Me.

10. Participate in other blogs and host other bloggers on your own blog.

Don't just read other blogs-participate in the activities they have going on! Whether it's contests, guest posts, or interviews. I've formed friendships with other bloggers when we've exchanged interviews with each other or guest posts.

Being featured on another blog will expose you to readers you wouldn't already have and when you feature other bloggers on your own blog, they often post links to it on their social media sites, which also drives traffic to your blog.

They often start to read my blog on occasion as well.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Parents and Publishing

On Thanksgiving of 2012, I decided to self-publish my novel and here was how I announced the news to my parents:

"I self-published my Medusa novel. It's called Medusa's Desire, but you're not allowed to read it."

It was similar to what I said when I created a blog, a twitter, and a facebook.

"Guess what? I have thousands of followers on twitter, but you're not allowed to read anything I tweet."

I made my mother promise that she wouldn't allow my Dad to read my novel. My Mom and I have had honest discussions about sex, so it wasn't as bad if she read it as if my Dad read it. Although I was pretty sure I would die if she did because guaranteed, she would come up to me later and say something humiliating about it. She might even start mentioning a scene over and over again in public places just to embarrass me because she thinks its funny.

Like,"Haha! Remember when Perseus and Medusa fooled around under that table?"

And then I'd die a little inside.

The reason I don't want my parents to read the stuff I write is because I would start censoring myself and not being true to my writing style if I felt they might read the things I wrote.

But still, my Dad is so proud of me that he monitors my book's page on Amazon every day. He checks it more than I do! He always knows when I have a new review. He even looks at my ranking. Sometimes he comes up to me and says,"You just sold a book today, didn't you?" And he's always right about it.

The day I got my first one star review, I was fine. I read it and felt like I could sympathize with the reviewers points. I had prepared for awhile for my first one-star review and it really wasn't that bad.

But then I thought about it for a moment and remembered that my Dad reads all my reviews. He's always bragging when I get a five-star or four-star review to me the next day. So how is he going to handle it when I get a one-star review? I panicked.

I think for many authors when they get their first one-star review, they seek out comfort for themselves. I immediately wanted to find my Dad instead and make him feel better.

"Dad! Dad!" I shouted when I found him.

He looked kind of confused. "What?"

"I got a one-star review. Did you read it?"


"Are you okay?"

"Yes, but only because I read that post on your blog that you wrote about how you were okay with receiving one star reviews. You're right. Without one star reviews, the reviews on Amazon aren't balanced."

That post is located here.

At first I was relieved, my Dad was okay and wasn't upset about my one-star review. But then realization hit me and I crossed my arms. "Dad! Are you reading my blog? You know you aren't allowed to!"

"I only read that one post, I swear!"

I eyed him skeptically and I'm still a bit skeptical about it, but I decided that I have to stay true to myself as a writer regardless and still write blog posts uncensored.

But being a writer and dealing with your parents definitely complicates things.