Archive for September, 2012

Part II of Another Fantastic Author, Amy McGuire

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , on September 30, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Amy had so much information to share that I couldn’t get it all in one post. So I am happy to present the other half of her interview:

Dawn Ross:  Do you have any technical writing tips?

Amy McGuire:  Get your work professionally edited if you can afford it and get at least five or six of your friends and family, writers and readers to edit it before you put it up for sale if you can’t afford professional editing.  Yes, you can edit your own work and probably should to a point, but make sure you get other eyes for things like grammar, spelling etc.  I learned this one the hard way.  I had my first edition of The Heart’s Discovery out with some grammatical and typing errors and the reviews reflected it.  My second book I won’t be making the same mistake.  Crazy thing is, I thought I went over it with a fine tooth comb.  Unfortunately, even reading it aloud (which I highly recommend you do by the way) didn’t get all the errors.  When you’re the writer of a manuscript and you’ve seen the same scene over and over again, your mind will start to fill in any blanks and change any errors.  The mind is a sneaky thing.  This is why I highly suggest you get an editor, whether professional or a friend or family member to give your manuscript a good looking over before you put it out.  Especially in the self publishing field writers need to be extra careful to make their manuscripts look as professional as possible before trying to sell them.  Take the sentence I just wrote.  It’s grammatically correct and spelled correctly, but it kind of reads awkwardly, doesn’t it.  Now I’ll take the sentence and rewrite it.  Writers need to be extra careful to make their manuscripts look as professional as possible before selling them, especially in the self publishing field.  We are scrutinized more heavily because we don’t have a traditional publishing house backing up our work.  We also have to be head and shoulders over all the really poorly written books in our field.  It drives me crazy when I find a book for free or .99 on Amazon because I can almost guarantee it’s poorly written or edited.  Yes, that seems like a bit of a biased statement.  I know there are many out there for that price which are edited and written well.  Sadly very few readers will buy them because they know about the other poorly written and poorly edited books out there for the same price.  I also think it’s frustrating to have to sell your book for cheap when you’ve been a lot of effort in, just because everyone else is trying to undercut you, but that’s another topic for another time.   My final advice is this; as an indie author you are not in an easy field, but if you’re going to self publish, do it well.

Dawn Ross:  In which venue do you sell the most books? Amazon, Smashwords, or other?

Amy McGuire:  Interestingly enough, my website has garnered the most sales.  Perhaps because I push it so much.  I guess I figure, if I’m going to put so much effort into my site, I may as well use it as a major marketing tool.  My book is on Amazon and Smashwords as well and I send people who buy my book off my site there to write reviews sometimes, but mostly, it’s been my own site.  So I guess I’m not typical of all the self published writers out there.  Or maybe I am.  I’m not sure who to compare myself to at this time, still being a bit new to the game.  I guess you could say I’m the opposite of John Locke in that very few sales came from Amazon.  If I was to use a pie chart to say how many of my sales come from each distributor it would probably look something like this: 5% Smashwords, 10% Amazon, 85% my site at www.shesanauthor.com.

Dawn Ross: What do you do to market your self-published books?

Amy McGuire: I use Facebook mostly, with my own group, multiple groups I belong to, and my own page.  I use Twitter a bit and have been greatly helped in that area by members of the groups I belong to who generously tweet for me every once in awhile.  I also do a bit of word of mouth when I see people.  I actually had a stack of business cards made up that I give out to people or post in public places as well.  I don’t know if I’ve made any sales using those tactics yet, but time will tell.  It’s also nice when someone you meet says, ‘You’re an author?  How do I check out your site?’ or ‘How do I buy your book?’ and you can just hand them a card with all your information on it.  I have my website, twitter account, Facebook account name and email on there along with the name of my current book and the saga.  My books (paperback format) are also in the store of a friend with a little display.  I haven’t seen any results from that yet, but probably because I haven’t advertised it as much as I should be.

Dawn Ross: What was the most difficult part in self-publishing your books and how did you overcome it?

Amy McGuire:  Believe it or not, it was the actual motivation to do it.  There is such a stigma around self published books because they have been done so poorly in the past, that I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I did it. I overcame it with the help of a wonderful author, Jason Matthews, who wrote How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks-All For Free.  He has been my mentor through the process and beyond.  Sometimes you just need a little nudge and encouragement when trying something new and scary.  That was the case with me.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Dawn.  If any of your readers are interested in purchasing my book they can do so at any of the following locations:

My site: www.shesanauthor.com/apps/webstore

Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hearts-Discovery-Valley-Volume/dp/1475265115/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1348239315&sr=8-3&keywords=the+heart%27s+discovery

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Discovery-Hope-Valley-ebook/dp/B0077IUEX6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348239315&sr=8-1&keywords=the+heart%27s+discovery

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/146706

You can also reach me at shesanauthor@gmail.com

Amy McGuire

Thank you, Amy! :0)

Meet Another Fantastic Author – Amy McGuire

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , on September 29, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Welcome, everyone. I’d like to introduce you to another great author, Amy McGuire. Who is Amy and what does she write about? Read about her here today and come back again tomorrow for more!

Dawn Ross: Tell me about yourself.

Amy McGuire:  Well, I’m the last of three children born to missionary parents who worked in East Africa for most of my childhood.  I was born in the tiny town of Campbell River, British Columbia during one of their furloughs and about two and a half years later they returned to the mission field with me and my two older siblings in tow.  My first published book is infused with some of the experiences I gained as a missionary kid and the culture I grew up in is a very big part of who I am, both as a person and as writer.  I have written stories and poetry almost from the moment I learned how to form a complete sentence, and can say without question that writing is my passion.  I’ve been married to the same amazing man for over eight years now, and I have to admit that the dark hair and light eyes combination of some of my male characters are inspired by him.  I am also the mother of a darling four year old angel who makes me smile and believe in the power of imagination on a daily basis.  I guess you could say my titles are as follows: Wife, Mother and Author.  I love being all three and wouldn’t have my life any other way.  Romance is my personal weakness.  I love to read it, write it, talk about it, experience it when I can, and live it.  If I ever ‘make it big’ I want writing to be my career and the ‘job’ I do until I can no longer type or come up with stories.

Dawn Ross:  Tell me about your writing process.

Amy McGuire:  When I first started writing The Hope Valley Saga it was one book.  I had a notebook I took everywhere (this was pre-laptop) and I wrote as often as I could.  Whenever I was able to find a moment, I used the desktop to type all the chapters I had written in my notebook into Microsoft Word.  Sometimes just ideas, and not whole chapters would come me and in that case I would enter them into my notebook in Microsoft Word when I got the chance.  As the story developed I ended up with multiple drafts, all saved in a special file on my desktop.  For my birthday a couple years ago I asked for a small, lightweight laptop that I could use anywhere instead of constantly typing from my paper notebook.  Now I use that almost exclusively but occasionally when I am away from it, such as I was when I went camping with my family about a month ago, I go back to my paper notebook and scribble whole chapters or just ideas.

Dawn Ross:  Where do you get your inspiration?

Amy McGuire: I was once told by a very wise person to ‘write what you know’.  So a lot of the scenes in my first novel are loosely based on actual events I experienced.  As my story has progressed and I create the saga, I find my main inspiration is simply the world around me.  I can watch a movie, or show or people in a crowded mall and get inspired.  In fact, one of my upcoming (hopefully in the not too distant future) books which is sci-fi was inspired by another sci-fi show I watched recently.  I find certain books I read will inspire me.  Sometimes just being on vacation and ‘getting away from it all’ can have a huge affect on what I write.  For instance, there is a scene in book three of my saga which I wrote entirely while on vacation in Florida, again, based off actual events.  A thing as small as being bitten by fire ants while taking a walk with my family or as big as a horrific event on the news can be inspiring, depending on my mood and what particular scene I want to write.

Dawn Ross:  Do you have any creative writing tips?

Amy McGuire:  I don’t know that I’m very technical, but I guess my advice to anyone working on a novel they want to get published is this.  Make sure you watch your points of view, that you don’t head hop.  This is something a lot of the more famous writers get away with, and while it’s fun to know what everyone in the story is thinking, it’s not wise to play God as a writer.  You need to look at it from the reader’s perspective.  If this were real life, would they be able to know what everyone’s motives are all the time?  Of course not.  Besides being a bit annoying to jump from so and so’s thoughts to someone else’s without any breaks, it is also incredibly confusing.  I have found myself many a time having to go back a few pages because I don’t know whose head I’m in.  If you must tell the story from different points of view, use two line spaces between the paragraphs of each character and try very hard not to jump back and forth.  A rule of thumb I try to follow is that there should really be no more than two points of view in any chapter.  I’ve been told that one per chapter is best, but it can be very restricting in romance to write like that.  If there are more than two I have to rethink whose point of view is the most important.  I actually rewrote an entire scene in The Heart’s Discovery based on this principle and discovered that the scene was in fact stronger because it was in Gabriel’s perspective and no one else’s.  It also can be lazy writing to just let your readers know what everyone is thinking all the time.  You aren’t forced to show the emotions, but simply tell the reader so and so feels this way or that way.

Dawn Ross:  This is not the end of the interview. Come back again tomorrow. In the meantime, check out Amy McGuire’s books at:

www.shesanauthor.com/apps/webstore

Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hearts-Discovery-Valley-Volume/dp/1475265115/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1348239315&sr=8-3&keywords=the+heart%27s+discovery

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Discovery-Hope-Valley-ebook/dp/B0077IUEX6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348239315&sr=8-1&keywords=the+heart%27s+discovery

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/146706

Amy McGuire

Thought Provoking Questions for a Writer

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2012 by Dawn Ross

As promised from yesterday’s post about Cassidy Cornblatt’s blog, I wanted to share my answers to more thought provoking questions for writers.

1.    What keeps you writing when you have writer’s block? Forcing myself to sit down and write is the most difficult part. If I can just get passed that, then the mood usually comes upon me. Sometimes a good story, TV show, or movie will inspire me… even if it is one I’ve read or seen before.

2.    Most writers have a literary counterpart—a character from their stories who reflects themselves. Tell us about yours. I do not have a character that represents me. I think I am boring. But I will base characters on some of my flaws or make characters the way I’d like to be myself.

3.    What are your passions? Art, writing, and dogs. I love dogs. I have two. And I run a business related to dogs.

4.    You’ve had a fight with your significant other and you want to fix things. What do you do? Apologize for my own wrong doings then try to behave rationally – emphasis on the word ‘try’.

5.    What’s one injustice you see in the world that you would fix in a story? Politics. For once, I’d like a leader to act selflessly instead of selfishly. For once, I’d like to see a politician tell the truth instead of what they think people want to hear. For once, I’d like for them to compromise with their opponents instead of badmouthing them. Politics is ugly.

6.    If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? I’d like to figure out how I can manage my time better.

7.    What’s important to you at this point in time? Besides my wonderful husband and my two precious dogs? As far as my primary focus goes, I am working the hardest on my pet business, PetAutoSafety.com and related blogs and websites.

8.    Who is your hero/heroine? My dad is my hero.

9.    Do you make it a habit of telling others what you thought of their work, even if your experience wasn’t good? No. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and I don’t want them to retaliate by saying something bad about by work.

10. What is good will? Trying to act in such a way that doesn’t irritate other people as well as doing things for other people. Just little things are beneficial. Hold a door open for someone, smile at people, let someone in traffic merge in front of you, send someone a card, be nice to people in general even if they do something to irritate you, etc.

11. What would it take for you to make friends with an old enemy? If they apologized to me, I can forgive and possibly forget depending on the reason they are my enemy and how much time has passed. I don’t think I could approach an enemy unless I strongly felt that I was in the wrong.

These questions were proposed by Whitney Carter’s blog, Invisible Ink.

My Liebster Award from Cassidy Cornblatt

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by Dawn Ross

What is the Liebster Award? It is an award that anyone can issue and is generally issued among bloggers. The purpose of the award is to share your favorite bloggers. Those bloggers answer the questions you propose, and then they nominate their favorite bloggers. This can go on and on. There are two major benefits to this award. One, by checking out your favorite bloggers, you get to learn more about them and find other great bloggers. Two, word-of-mouth. If you are lucky enough to be nominated for a Liebster Award, other people learn about your blog.

I have been lucky enough to be awarded the Liebster Award by Cassidy Cornblatt. Thank you Cassidy! I am very happy to have been given this award. Unfortunately, I am not able to continue the Liebster Awarding at this time. I have a lot of favorite bloggers, but because I am currently focusing on my pet industry retail website and blogs, any awards I give will be to pet bloggers, not fantasy or book author bloggers. I honestly don’t know that many bloggers. I’d like to, but I just don’t have time at the moment. Selfish, huh?

What I can do is answer the Liebster Award questions and share my opinion of Cassidy’s great blog. Besides Whitney and Cassidy, perhaps you, in turn, could recommend some great fantasy and/or author bloggers to me?

1. Why are you a writer? I have always had a vivid imagination. My imagination is the place I often went in order to get away from it all. As I daydreamed, my fantasy world grew and developed. Several years ago, I felt like I had a story so great that I had to write it down.

2. How do you come up with your ideas? I think of sci-fi/fantasy movies, sci-fi/fantasy books, brainstorm fantasy ideas, imagine complicated human interactions, contemplate the personalities of real people, just to name a few.

3. Where is your favorite place to write? Computer. It keeps me focused because my brain associates sitting at the computer with work. Writing is fun, but it is also a lot of work.

4. What do you do besides writing? I am an artist, a dog trainer, I make crafts, and I run a pet-related online business which is really fun. As stated above, my current focus is on my pet business.

5. Is writing a hobby for you or a career/career path? Hobby

6. Do you think writers should have to be decent editors of their own work? I think it helps. It is a hassle having your book professionally edited only to find there are tons of errors. I’d rather try to do it right as much as possible the first time around.

7. What do your friends/family members think of you writing? They are envious. No one else in my family has my creativity or imagination.

8. Do you have any inhibitions when it comes to writing? Yes. Will people like it or think I am a stupid amateur?

9. What type of main character do you prefer to write/read about? I prefer male heroes with few flaws. Richard from The Sword of Truth series, for example, is my most favorite fictional hero.

10. Do you prefer writing or reading? I read more than I write but only because reading is easier and I have more time for it.

11. How often do you write? Lately, not much. I want to get back into it, but life is pretty hectic.

Okay, if you haven’t gotten bored yet please read on about Cassidy Cornblatt’s blog. As you may have guessed, Cassidy likes to write too. Not only has she written a fantasy novel titled “A Broken World“, but she shares some great writing tips on her blog. Some of my favorite blogs posts of hers are

Guide to Symbolism in Literature – http://ccornblatt.hubpages.com/hub/Guide-to-Symbolism-in-Literature

How to Be Critical Without Offending Anyone – http://ccornblatt.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Be-Critical-Without-Offending-Anyone

Learn How to Write a Novel – http://ccornblatt.hubpages.com/hub/Learn-How-to-Write-a-Novel

The Recency Effect – http://cassidycornblatt.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/the-recency-effect/

Be sure to stop by Cassidy’s blog. Check out her fantasy novel too!

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I wanted to answer some questions that Whitney Carter asked on her Liebster Award. Even though she didn’t ask me those questions specifically, they were thought provoking questions and worthwhile for any writer to think about. Come visit me again tomorrow!

Invisible Ink – A Blog Worth Checking Out

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , on September 15, 2012 by Dawn Ross

MC900437263 Dragon Eye

One day while perusing the net, I found this great blogger. The website is http://whitneycarter.wordpress.com/ and it is called Invisible Ink. The blogger is Whitney Carter and she has put together a great fantasy blog. It’s so good, I’m envious.

The article that had first brought me to it was “WorldBuilding: How to Create a Currency“. You don’t think about things like this when you read a fantasy novel. But if you write one, it can be essential. How did people pay for things in your fantasy world? Did they use coin or did they barter? If they used coin, was it called money? The word money is a modern term, so it would probably be out of place in a fantasy novel. This blog post gives you an insight to the kinds of details that a writer needs to think about.

Once I read this article, I couldn’t help but to check out the rest of the blog to see if it had other insightful information. To my delight, it did! Check out the BattleCraft tab, for example. There are two great articles there. One is about archery and the other is about how swords were made. Both of these can be exceedingly helpful in writing a fantasy novel.

Another great tab to check out on this blog site is the WorldBuilding tab. This tab covers topics like Components of a Religion, How to Write Dragons, How to Write Taboos, and more.

Then there is the Author’s Scripts tab. This is where Whitney shares some of her writings. I enjoyed every single one of them. My favorite was the one called “Royce“. Within the first two paragraphs I was drawn in with the emotion of the character. I also liked “Strange Tracks“. This one is very short, less than 100 words. I liked it because it was written as a writing exercise. Write a story that says as much as possible in a creative way using only 100 words. What a great way to hone my own writing skills.

Whitney Carter is my hero! I haven’t been inspired to write much lately, but her blog Invisible Ink has helped reignite the spark. If you like to write, especially if you like to write fantasy, I encourage you to check it out.

Another writers blog worth checking out is http://cassidycornblatt.wordpress.com/articles/. I will write about this one next week.

Two Sources for Book Reviews

Posted in Marketing with tags , on September 8, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Look at a novel from a book store. Most likely it will have a one or two-sentence blurb from the New York Times or a famous author. These blurbs can be important in marketing your book. But book reviews are very difficult for an Indie Author to get. From what I have found, most places like the New York Times, or Chicago Times, etc. won’t even bother to look at a self-published book. So how can you get one?

I found two sources so far in my research. One source is an article written by Jason Matthews who is a leading expert in self-publishing books. Check out this article HERE.

Another source I found is called TheIndieView.com. This place lists several people who are willing to provide book reviews. Most of these people are individuals so their reviews might not carry as much weight as the New York Times. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get feedback and good reviews from several people. Many of these people will also post their review on their blogs, thus spreading the word about your book.

One important thing to know about reviewers is that they should be relatively free. Some may require that you send them a copy of your book, which will cost you a little bit of money. And I have found some bigger name reviewers will charge a very small reading fee. This is acceptable. I would certainly never pay the $100-$400 or more reading fees charged by some so-called reviewers. These types of reviews will probably not be taken seriously as people would think you paid for a good review rather than an unbiased review.

Once you get a few good book reviews, feel free to print a couple on your back book cover or within the first page or two of your book. You can also ask some of the individual reviewers to post their review on Amazon or Smashwords, or wherever else you have your book for sale.

So if this is so helpful, why haven’t I done it? I did it for my fist book, “The Third Dragon“. I got one good review which really helped me in boosting my sales for a few months. I haven’t worked on getting more reviews since because I am so busy trying to keep up with this blog, my two dog blogs, my web business for PetAutoSafety.com, working on a finance degree, and my art work (see NatureByDawn.com). I am satisfied with my book sales for now and will definitely work to increase them at a later time.

If writing is your passion and you have time to focus on marketing your book, be sure to add getting book reviews to your to-do list. It really is helpful.

Self-Publishing Your Book on Amazon & CreateSpace

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Writing a book is a very difficult task. The better you want your book to be, the more difficult it is to write. Getting your book published used to be just as difficult, but not anymore. Amazon makes self-publishing your book as an ebook very easy. CreateSpace, which can be accessed through Amazon, makes publishing your book as a paperback just as easy.

Formatting Your Ebook
This was the most difficult part for me. It is not as easy as downloading your word document. Your files have to be in a certain format. For the ebook, you don’t want to use tabs. You want to use indents. Centering should be set up in styles rather than paragraph. Don’t justify your paragraphs. Don’t use page breaks, page numbers, headings, or footnotes. There are a few other things to consider as well. The best way to figure out how to format for an ebook is to go through this step-by-step process from Smashwords. Download free instructions on Smashwords by clicking HERE. Incidentally, you can also sell your ebook on Smashwords.

Formatting Your Paperback
Creating the document for your paperback is much easier. Most of the things you don’t want to do in the ebook format can be done in the paperback format. The most difficult part I had was the page numbers. You don’t put page numbers or headings on the ebook version, but you definitely want them on the paperback version. You want page 1 to start on the first page where your story starts so you have to set up your word document to start counting page one on page 7, for example. You can also have headings where the left pages show the author’s name and the right pages show the book title. Or the left page says the book title and the right page says the chapter name. The tricky part is getting all the left pages to say one thing and all the right pages to say another. Your page numbers can be centered in the footing. Play around with your book until it looks like what you want it to look like. Then download it onto CreateSpace.

CreateSpace
CreateSpace takes you through the download process. It also lets you preview how each page of your book will look. Flip through each page to make sure it looks right. If it doesn’t, fix it in word and download it again.

Book Covers
Ebooks and CreateSpace also have different formats for the book covers. When you go through the process of creating your ebook or paperback, be sure to look carefully at the instructions for the proper size and format. Ebook covers are smaller in size while paperbacks require a larger size with a higher dpi. This is because an ebook is viewed on a smaller digital screen which generally requires a dpi no higher than 72. A paperback book is larger and the dpi should be at least 300. Don’t forget, on your paperback version you will want to make sure there is room for the ISBN and barcode.

Traditional Publishing v. Self-Publishing
Before, publishing your book required soliciting an agent. One could solicit hundreds of literary agents and possibly never finding one, or risk finding one that took advantage of rather than helped a new author. If you are lucky enough to find a good literary agent, you have to wait for the agent to solicit a willing publisher. This could take several months, or even years. Or your agent might never find a willing publisher. Self-publishing guarantees your book will be published. But it doesn’t guarantee your book will sell. The benefit of having a literary agent and a publisher publish your book is they do all the marketing and distribution. Once you get a publisher, you just sit back and wait. With self-publishing, you have to do all the marketing yourself. This can take a lot of time and money, and a possibility of little return.

Whether you self-publish or choose the traditional method is a personal choice. For me, I tried the traditional method but found it exceedingly difficult to get my foot in the door and unfortunately found a bad literary agent. Instead of trying the traditional method again, I chose self-publishing because it was more important to me to get my book published than it was to make money and have wider distribution.