Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Picture Is Worth One Thousand Words

I have had my author page for about two and a half years now. I post sporadically though I am trying to work on being more consistent. It also helps when I post to my author page because that automatically updates on Twitter which is another promotional tool I have yet to master. It isn't that I don't have the time to post here on my blog, update my Facebook page or scroll through and tweet everyday but I either end up distracting myself or I get overwhelmed with all of the ideas in my head and find myself hiding away.

When I do remember / am focused enough to write a blog post or update my page I run into an entirely new set of issues. Often times I will stare blankly at the page because I feel there is nothing interesting in my head to share. That is why many times it is just a to do list or a general statement of what has been happening recently. I know I see others doing the same but I think the eternal self doubt so many artists struggle with has a way of making us believe that others can get away with things we cannot. 

Partially because of this thought process and the relatively safe posts it leads to I do not have thousands of followers on either social media platform and my posts only reach a limited number of people. I have noticed over time, and more significantly this past weekend during a small experiment, that I get far greater views and interaction when I post pictures instead of just text. I understand the psychology of it. Visuals are far more intriguing than one text post after another. The pictures make us stand out from the crowd by bringing our audience into our world like a sneak peek. 

When people feel connected they tend to be more interested. My problem is that I not only do not post pictures very often, I rarely even take them. With my trip I was trying to see how my interest levels would be by posting pictures of my airline ticket, people I was hanging out with and different elements of the show. Every time I posted a picture or tagged someone I was with the reach jumped exponentially. With this knowledge gained, and mostly confirmed, I will be revising some of my methods and working to involve more pictures and videos in my upcoming promotional efforts. Now if I can just learn some better photography and teaser making skills...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Learning From Every Opportunity

This past weekend following my shift at my day job I jumped on a plane and flew up to Seattle, Washington. It was a trip with multiple purposes. I wanted to attend a book show that was being put on for Indie authors like myself. It was important to me to go and see a show that was just starting because I am working hard to help plan one as well. I also was of course attending to sell my books as an author working to promote my work.

On a more personal note I also went to finally meet some of the authors I have known online for years but had never seen in person. It was an incredible learning experience even though it was not financially lucrative it was a trip I wouldn't trade. Even though I have been writing for many years and published for the last two and a half years I am still in the infant stages of the doing this as a business.

Some of my friends are much further along in the learning curve so by getting the chance to sit down and speak with them I was able to get some ideas of things they are doing to be successful and ways I can reach out in order to get better exposure. Some of the things I found was that working with a partner at the table not only makes the time more enjoyable and go by faster but it truly is easier to work in tandem to sell each other's books instead of just your own. I read recently in a book written by authors I met at the show that is all about working shows exactly like that. They wrote about being able to cross sell and I noticed that it really was easier to talk about other books I had read and recommend them as well as answer any questions about my own work.

Just as the organizers learned from feedback and observations of the event I tok note of things that worked and ideas that could be improved upon as well. I also found some things I need to learn how to do such as creating teasers and posting promotions more often for my current books. I need to readjust my name on my covers in order to make it stand out more, and I badly need to find a way to get more reviews to help make my work visible.

I discussed with my good friend Chelo that it is important to have honest reviews so if there are things that need to be fixed I would be aware of them. Because of that I want to find honest reviewers and get as much feedback as I can to help me improve my craft. There was also a discussion about the difference between being a professional and being a hobbyist. There is nothing wrong with either but for me wanting to be a professional it is vital that I keep learning and improving my abilities. It was been an extremely fruitful trip and one I am looking forward to doing again as soon as possible.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Look Ahead

As I am going through all of my files I am getting excited for the books coming up. I have talked about a few of the in the past but I wanted to highlight a couple of the ones that I am looking forward to the most. Some of them are reaches for me either in genre or because they require a large amount of work that I have never had to do before. Both aspects have me very intrigued and I am preparing for the next books as soon as possible.

For the first time I will be venturing into the land of series writing with both my Voices books and my Syn series. Voices is a trilogy and with the first one finished I will soon be outlining the second book featuring the best friend and neighbor of Chelsea Perella, the main character in Voices In My Head. Samantha will be continuing the adventure Chelsea began for better or worse and I am thrilled to see where is leads.

The second series began with my book Welcome to Syn and is a seven book series. Persyphone Syntel is the matriarch of a family of beautiful daughters that meets with one disaster after another as she tries to piece her life back together after the death of her husband Michael. The next book will centered around Persephone's oldest daughter Lucasta Syntel and her relationship with her fiancĂ© Hunter and his family. 

I have two books that will be using a significant amount of research based on a town named Pioche here in Nevada. Even though the books have different characters and are in different genres, romance and action, they take place in the same location during the same era so much of the research will be related between the two books. I need to make sure I look into communication and transportation of the day along with layout of the city and in one of them I am considering adding in elements of true events that took place in the town.

Another book that will require a lot of research, possibly the most of any book I have written so far is Mother Said No and is set during the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. It is set in London and I need to again have the setting, chronology and elements of the crimes as they are involved in the story. I have read extensively on the subject but I still have a great deal of studying to do. Because it is set during one of the most notorious true crime sprees ever I am just itching to get started on this book.

The last one that tops my Can't Wait To Write It list is a book called Just Deal With It - Interesting Observations & Entertaining Anecdotes From The Casino Floor. This book is a collection of short comical stories broken up by three categories Management, Dealers and Players. I love what I do for a living and am looking forward to sharing with the world some of the hilarious things we see and experience while working.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Learning Something New All The Time

I was flipping through Facebook this morning and saw a post by a member of the Nanowrimo group. He was talking about how being a writer means he has had to learn a few different languages as well as some history for different books. His post got me thinking about some of the things I have had to look through and study for my own works. The most recent was learning about photography which is a passion for Jasmine Byers of both Survivor and Sharing Strength. I have friends that are photographers but I never learned more than the basic point and shoot part.

Now as I am going through the files for all of my upcoming projects, and wishing to God I was better at doing series, I am noticing how many will involve research of new topics. Some of my lessons will be cursory, just a simple look through to make sure speech patterns  are correct or have a few specifics to mention about a hobby. Others will require dedicated library time and note taking as though I was back in high school preparing a report.

Because I am a procrastinator as well as a highly developed A.D.H.D. candidate I am pulling away slightly from these particular projects. I love to learn new things but I know that I will begin my research and go off on some interesting side tangent forgetting all about relevant information for my books. Two in particular I can see it happening with. They are both being set in a city north of me back during the peak of mining here in the Silver State. I already know I am going to need to know the layout of the city, historical information about the town as well as specific buildings and laws from that time period, general history of the west during that era and learn about mining. That is just what I have come up with already for two books and my list of stories is nearly thirty long.

I am excited to dive in to all of these books and in a way it is like going back to school while getting to choose just the subjects I want to study. At the same time it can be overwhelming so I am trying to map out all of the books and have a way to writing them that will keep me interested by varying my focus while also keeping me on track to use the information I gain through research. Once I have my schedule and study list it looks like I will be getting far more acquainted with my local library staff!

It Isn't All About The Money

Of course in the grand plan of getting our writing to the point that we can sustain our lives through the revenue of book sales, making money is one of our primary goals. From the customers that come to us at shows and conventions to discuss and purchase our work to the royalty checks we get from our publishers we are in business and along with getting our work out into the world it is ultimately about making money.

Because of this primary objective it is understandable that when it comes to events we may participate in there is always a pro and consist we make. It could also be called a profit and loss statement for those more attuned to accounting practices. We take a look at the potential sales we stand to make and compare it to the costs of being a part of the event. Most of the shows I do are a simple how much is the booth fee vs how much do I stand to make. Though occasionally there are more things to consider.

The most recent show I took part in was Authorpalooza in Mesquite, NV. Located about an hour and a half north of my home in Las Vegas I had a decision to make. I could wake up early and hit the road to get up to the show in time for set up and save the money for a hotel but would have to risk traffic and possibly rushing in the morning (I am not a morning person in any way). Staying in my own bed would allow me to sleep better and save some money but as I stated there were potential concerns. On the other hand  could load my show stuff the night before to make sure it was all there and ready to go then I could leave from my day job and drive up the night before and stay in a hotel nearby. This would allow me far more time to get ready in the morning and I wouldn't have to worry about running into anything unexpected on the way there. Of course it would add to the cost.

I did end up staying in the hotel and the show was quite slow so I only made back my investment but nothing more. Now I am preparing for a show this coming weekend that I can guarantee will be a financial loss for me but I am excited to go anyway. I will get the opportunity to network and meet in person so many other authors I have worked with online and research things that work or don't to help improve my own appearances at shows. The cost of flying this time all the way up to Seattle, WA and renting a car, eating and participating will cost hundreds as well as my sleep for just over forty-eight hours but it will be worth it. Learning and networking can be far more valuable than a few sales here and there.

Eventually I hope to reach the financial level of being able to write full time but I am more than happy to put in my time, effort and yes at this point my own money as well, to learn as much as I can to one day achieve that level. For now, here I come Capital Indie Book Con!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Outlining My Goals

Almost anytime I have gone to an interview for a job or even back when I was in school I was asked repeatedly, where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years. Because I am a pantser, not just in writing but also in life I have never had an honest answer for that question. The truth is I could happily be almost anywhere in the world doing a variety of jobs and I would be very happy. The only thing I can say for sure is that I would still be writing.

A good friend of mine posted recently that she has over twenty books that she would like to and is planning to complete in the next five years. She was outlining all of them with at least major character and plot points for each story. At first her count of over twenty books made me think wow that's just crazy but then I started looking at all of the books I have waiting in the wings and realized the only difference is that she has a time frame in place for when she wants to complete hers.

I have now decided to also go through and make a list of my books and also create a file for each book. I have a checklist when I am working on a book that I keep in the file. On the checklist are things like character bios for all of the major characters as well as any secondary ones that feel like chatting. Also any pictures that I take to help remind me of characters or settings or even for cover ideas I may have as I progress. One of my favorite and most important parts is the playlist. Music is a vital part of my writing process so I will probably spend as much time making the playlists as I will the rest of the files.

Some of the stories are entirely made up in my head. They have to do with topics I am extremely familiar with and are set in either locations I know well or have been made up completely. For others though there is at least some amount of research involved. Sometimes I need to go and look up speech patterns or get some ideas of clothing for a particular era. In other cases I need to actually understand a real historical event and location right down to a period map or walking through the town I am planning to use as the setting for that book.

I have notes in my files as well for anything I may have forgotten about previously but will need as I go through writing that story. Once I have finished all of my files and get a better understanding of all of the books waiting to be written I will be doing my best to create a schedule and timeline to have at least the first drafts of each written. As I complete them I will be working on editing along with writing and get into the submitting level after I have a few edited to my satisfaction. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I am looking forward to it and thank her for her inspiration.