I will be posting the cover reveal on the 18th! Stay tuned for a peek at Heavenfire and the preorder links to get the discounted price!
In the meantime, happy writing!
In Real Life Events
Being an author is more than just writing our stories. We have to get ourselves and our books out there. A lot of that happens online, but you shouldn’t ignore events that you can do in real life. We talked about book signings last time, but let’s look at some other things you can do.
Now talks are great to do as a way to draw people to your event more so than just by your name or claim (or lack) to fame. I talked about book signings in my last post, so I won’t get too into this here.
Talks are great for advertising purposes. Instead of just saying, “Hey, come meet a local author you’ve never heard of and buy their book!” a talk says something more like, “Learn the different routes to publishing and why an ISBN is important.” Which one is going to appeal more to people? So advertise your event as a talk where they will receive valuable info from you to get them in the seats. And after you give your wonderful talk, they may just stick around to buy some books.
If you attract other writers with your talk, they may not buy your book if they are not your intended audience, but they will know your book’s name and tell others who are your audience. And they may recommend your book to those others they know who like your genre.
Book signings can be a bit intimidating. They can be a lot like cold calling in sales. You set up your table and hunker down in the store, praying to snag the attention of those walking by. For any introvert, it can be nightmarish. But they can also be a great success. Let’s look at some tips.
If this is like cold calling, get your foot in the door with some help. Have someone introduce you. Whether this is an employee who works at the store you are signing in or your handler. Having someone say something like, “Still need a Christmas present? We’ve got a local author signing personalized copies of her book. They make great gifts,” will get people to come to your table and start asking about your book. Have your pitch ready to give, and you just may get some sales.
If this is a book signing you set up that is all about you, and not just you sitting in a store or cafe, then I really recommend doing a reading before you start signing. You want to hook the people there with a great excerpt so they are chomping at the bit to buy your book.
When your book comes out, it’s something to celebrate. Planning a release party is a great way to celebrate your accomplishment, but also get your book out to family and friends. Let’s face it, a lot of the people we know are lazy. They don’t want to actually go to a website and click on things to buy your book. And they would rather have it signed and personalized by you. So make it easy for them to support you by hosting a release party where they can buy your book and get it personalized. This will incur some costs, but you have to spend money to make money. Recruit help from friends and family to diy as much as possible when it comes to things like food and decorations. Rent a hall or do a backyard bbq. Set up a signing table and a pretty place to take pictures. And get help. This event is for you, so you don’t want to be stressed making sure everything is perfect and be unable to enjoy your own party.
Conventions are a great place to sell your books. That’s a major point of them in the first place. And they are full of readers looking to pick up their next new favorite. So you can do extremely well at the right cons. Make sure you write in the genre that is represented at the con, and that you have your handler. They will help you with sales and also manning the table so you can do things like go to the bathroom. Most cons will have an estimate of how many attendees they will have, so you can get a good gauge of how many books you should carry. Have bookmarks and business cards for people to take even if they don’t buy a book. Put important links on there, like your website or where they can buy your book.
Instead of a talk, you may choose to do something like run a workshop or writing group. This requires some effort on your part as you have a lot of planning and prep and you have to lead the event. But these can be great fun and really rewarding as you help other authors out.
First, plan what your event will look like. Will you start with a talk? Then move onto writing prompts? Using writing prompts is the best way to get your participants writing. But you will also need to talk about what good critique looks like and how to take critiques like staying silent and not defending yourself. Set up rules before you begin.
Keep track of time. Give them 15 to 20 minutes to write from the prompt and then allot time from there depending on how much time you have for the workshop. Provide plenty of pens and paper for participants, and if you can make the prompts on handouts they can take with them, even better.
And remember, these events are not about you. Yes, you can talk about your books after the workshop, but make the workshop valuable for the participants and not just you talking about you.
Next week we have an interview, but after that we will talk about the nitty gritty details of what you’ll need to set up for these events, so stay tuned.
Hello, I sort of promised I would write about the local book signings I have been doing, so this is me trying to keep that promise. I did a couple of small book signings in a nearby business that wanted to support me as a local author and had my big book signing and talk at the library this last Saturday. So let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t.
The signings at the local business were a lot like cold calling. The people there weren’t there to see me, and they didn’t know I would be there when they came in to do business. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it was more nerve wracking for me. It was a little hit and miss. One day I did really well, but the second day I was there, I had no traffic coming my way. What really made a difference was the owner of the business introducing me to their customers that first day. It got people to come over and see me and got my foot in the door with them. They asked about my book and several picked up a copy as a Christmas present. The second day I didn’t get as many introductions from the owner and it made a big difference. I also had a different setup. I was more in the corner and I also didn’t have as much set up to catch people’s attention. I think that also made a difference.
I really enjoyed the library signing, because the people who attended were there to see me and hear me talk about writing and publishing. I specifically wanted to help local authors and not just do a regular signing. I am just me, and maybe not so great of a draw all by my lonesome, but I do work for a small publisher and have been through the process, so I can impart knowledge to others. And that’s how we advertised it. As a talk about writing and publishing and a way for writers to get their questions answered. We scheduled the signing for two hours, the first 45 minutes to an hour for the talk and Q and A, then the remaining time to sign and talk to anyone who came up to my table.
The library helped a lot with promoting the event. They even set me up with a short radio interview on a local station. They also made flyers and advertised it in their building. I made a Facebook event and promoted it on my social media as well as in the Facebook group for my city. We got a lot of interest, but the day of the event we had a nasty snow storm, so not everyone was able to make it.
But the ones who did come had great questions and paid a lot of attention to what I had to say. It was really a rewarding experience, because I did feel like they were getting a lot of good information out of the talk. And I worked hard to make it a talk and not a lecture, which I have a tendency to do. I was so happy with how the talk went.
Not everyone who came was a reader of my genre, but I did make some sales. And to me, making one sale at an event is a success. It’s an unknown reader you reached that you didn’t even know existed. Also, these people were now familiar with my book, and may talk about it to people who do read my genre. Signings aren’t about sales, they are about making connections and getting your book name out there in the world.
I would really recommend people do local events like signings or talks. They are a great way to connect to people in your community. And people do like supporting locals in their endeavors. It’s nice to be able to say someone from your area did something great, because that means you can too. Think about whether you want to just do a signing or if you want to do an Ask Me Anything or talk on a topic you know a lot about. If there are other local authors in your area, see if they want to team up with you. The more people promoting the event and drawing people in, the better.
And you will have to promote if you want people in the seats. Use social media and local news outlets, like radio or the paper to get the word out. A lot of cities have an events paper that comes out weekly. See what you have to do to get your event listed.
And have fun. What made my talk so successful was that I was just trying to be friendly and genuine. That translated well. If I had been worried only about sales and the number of attendees, people wouldn’t have connected to my talk and they wouldn’t be interested in future events. And yes, I got invited back to do another talk and signing after the sequel comes out.
One big lesson I learned from this is to be careful about winter events. You can’t predict the weather, but it can affect your attendance in a big way. So keep that in mind when you plan ahead. Maybe January and February aren’t the best months to ask people to travel to see you. But don’t give up if that does happen. My next events will be in April and May, and I’m very much looking forward to them. I am not discouraged.
My last bit of advice is to be prepared. But that may be a post for another day. Feeling prepared and ready for your event will really cut back on anxiety, and it will help you to look more professional. So plan ahead what you will need and bring, how you will set up your table, and what you will say. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!
So today I have a special guest post by Stacy Overby, whose new novel, Tattoos, comes out this month. She writes a bit about her writing process even though she’s a pantser and has limited time to write. Here’s a bit about Stacy.
Stacy Overby is a columnist and graphic designer at www.ourwriteside.com. Her short stories and poems have been featured in multiple anthologies, online, and in lit journals. Scath Oran is her first chapbook and is expecting her first novel, Tattoos: A Black Ops Novel, out soon. She is the program director for an adolescent dual diagnosis treatment program by day and an author by night. Her day job provides inspiration for many of her stories. When not at work or writing, she and her husband are playing with their son, hiking, camping, or involved in other outdoor activities – if it is not too cold. She, along with her social media contacts, can be found at www.thisisnothitchhikersguide.com.
And without further ado, here’s her post.
I sat in front of my keyboard for quite a while trying to figure out what to write this guest post about. That’s what happens to me when something is left wide open. I freeze. At least most of the time. Occasionally genius strikes, but not as often as I would like. Mostly this is because I usually have so many things going on even my ADHD brain can’t handle it. But, my novel, Tattoos, releases in a couple weeks and I needed to come up with something fast. Like last week fast. Then it hit me, I could do a post about just this. What is a writing process for someone like me?
To understand what I mean by that, let me give you a quick snapshot of my life, because it’s not the life many other indie authors I know at least have. See, professionally, I am the program director for an adolescent mental health and substance abuse residential treatment program. I have my license as a drug and alcohol counselor and have worked in the field for going on nine years now. As the director, I often work 50 or more hours per week. Some of this is because I have a bad habit of taking on a lot, but some of it also is that I work for a small non-profit. While I’m the program director, I also tend to wear other hats there as well. I could give you more of my professional resume, but I think you get the picture from this on the professional front.
Then, there’s my family. While technically I have not been diagnosed ADHD simply because I have not found a need to do so, my husband has been diagnosed. This means I need to support the challenges he faces, such as time management and organization. These are not always my strong suits, but I’m better than him at them. Plus, I have a six-year-old son who is active and loves to be involved in things. Between the two of them, I have to be a travel agent, chauffeur, home decorator, chef, personal assistant, accountant, and more. Don’t get me wrong. They both do what they can to help me, but all that executive stuff usually falls in my lap.
Finally, there’s my writing. Yep. I manage to squeeze it into the rest of this chaos. And there’s one important thing to know about my writing before we get into the part about my process when I wrote Tattoos. I’m a pantser. Outlines and such are pretty much anathema to me. I did manage a mind-map of a novel idea once. Haven’t gotten the novel written yet, but I’m sure it’ll be nothing like what I’ve sketched out. You’d think that with all the organizational, executive functioning skills I’ve been forced to live on, both to deal with my own ADHD behaviors as well as managing the rest of my life, I’d be pretty good at using them. But, no. I can’t. I get the idea and then I run with it. It’s kind of like watching a movie, only I’m writing the script as it plays out.
Knowing this, it may beg the question—what writing process? If you pants everything, then there isn’t really a process, is there? Yes, and no. On one hand, the process is minimal. I don’t outline. I don’t plan for chapters. I don’t do involved character building, world building, etc. I just write.
On the other hand, there is still a process that happened. The idea for Tattoos came from a couple things coming together. First, I had been reading this series about these tough, ultra-kick-ass guys who form an organization to save the universe from the evils of the government. While there were things I loved about the series, it also was a romance series. Sure, it had sci-fi elements, settings, etc., but some of the most central elements to the plots for each book in the series came down to a romantic relationship. Not necessarily a problem, but not always what I want to read.
The next piece of this puzzle that brought about the idea for Tattoos is that a number of other space-faring sci-fi books tend to be more hard-core with the science part. Sure, there are arguments that even these aren’t hard science fiction because of the whole faster than light travel issue, but it’s bigger than that. These books, again while very good books, leaned heavily on science and the technology parts. It’s as if the technology was really the main character in the book. For me, these aren’t always very relaxing reads.
The final piece of the puzzle came in when I had to come up with something for NaNoWriMo back in 2011. It was the first year I participated in NaNo and I needed an idea. Fast. I’d been late coming to the NaNo table that year and if I wanted any prayer of hitting that 50,000-word goal, I needed something stat (Sensing a theme here? Yes, I tend to end up in a position of cutting things down to the wire no matter how hard I try not to). And the first inklings of what became Tattoos saw the light of day. What if I wrote the kind of sci-fi book I wanted to read? More character driven than technology driven, but with all the fun technological toys. More along the lines of Star Wars than John Scalzi books.
My first draft of Tattoos turned out like most people’s first drafts from NaNo do—pretty bad. I had the bones for a good book and I’d “won” NaNo, but that’s about it. One mistake I made at that point was trying to edit it right away. I got sucked into the temptation of getting it published on Smashwords right away, since being included in a wider distributing catalogue was a prize for NaNo that year. After having written that much on it and then trying to edit right away, I needed a break. I struggled to see the issues in the book and had a hard time figuring out where to go with the issues I could see. So, I walked away from Tattoos for a while.
A while turned into dabbling off and on with editing on it over the intervening years. I wrote two more books in the series, one of which still doesn’t have an ending. The Black Ops universe got bigger and more populated. The characters told me about so many more things going on than I realized when I first wrote Tattoos. I also learned more about writing and the writing process, including that I should not self-edit my work. I do well editing when I am working on someone else’s story, but I am too blind to issues in my own.
Enter Our Write Side into the picture. I’ve been working with the wonderful team at Our Write Side for a while now and figured it was time. Time to dust off my manuscript of Tattoos and bring it out into the light. The OWS team has been great to work with. From editing to marketing to just plain putting up with my crazy life, they’re wonderful. Because, of course, all of this has been crammed in around swimming lessons, choir practice, church activities, Cub Scouts, work functions, family time, and more. They worked with me to put together the book that comes out on December 15th. While I am scared to death to see this novel go out into the world—it means a lot with the history it’s had in my life—I am excited.
In the end, I wanted to share this journey with you for several reasons. One, I hope it helps motivate you not to give up on NaNo projects. Sure, they require a lot of work after that initial draft, but there’s gold to be found in that first draft. Two, I hope it reassures pantsers out there that it’s okay to write like this and you can still get published. Seriously, my first draft of Tattoos was all one long Word document. No chapter divisions, no word count goals, not even a clear end point until I got there. Finally, just because you may have a family and a full-time day job that eats a lot of time, it doesn’t mean you can’t do this, too. I get the added stress and challenges. As I sit typing this, the house is finally quiet after my hubby and son getting home from Cub Scout Camp and excitedly telling me about their day. Look for the opportunities to write and you’ll find them. Honest. I sincerely hope this glimpse into the process that birthed Tattoos has been helpful. Check out the book. Come find me on my website—www.thisisnothitchhikersguide.com—which is also where you can find all my social media. And, as always, reach out. Ask me questions. Let me know what you think. Tell me how I might be able to help you. Thank you, awesome readers, and always know where your towel is.
And here’s a little bit about her new novel.
One hushed cry in the middle of the night, and Eli Thorson’s life unravels. A highly trained Black Ops specialist, he is used to danger, but Eli’s path forces him to confront the illusions he’s been taught his whole life — ones that make him question all the good he thought he was doing.
Unable to work for a command that defiles the oaths he swore, he works to untangle the web of lies and deceit he finds woven throughout his worlds. The tattooed marks of his profession run more than skin deep. As a Specialist it is his duty to protect the people, the laws, and all the United Earth Government stands for, even if it means taking down the entire Black Ops division to do it.
Preorder it today at
So whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, happy writing!
OWS is hosting the 12 Days of Indies from December 1st to the 12th. Each day they will feature different novels on sale for $2.99 or less. Participate in their raffle for a chance to win a prize for both readers and writers, a coffee mug or a lifetime subscription to Missinglettr, which is a great tool for scheduling social media posts. So check out the sale and grab Angelborn for $2.99 at https://ows-ink-llc.myshopify.com/collections/jk-allen-collection/products/angelborn-by-jk-allen
Here’s OWS’s blog post about day one sales here
Be sure to enter the raffle and enjoy the sales!
So with everything going on with Angelborn, I haven’t really talked too much about Glass and Ashes. Glass and Ashes is the anthology that features my short story “Alison’s Wish.” The anthology is a collection of retellings of the Cinderella story and it’s full of twists and even darkness, as all good fairy tales are. Here’s the blurb.
It’s something people love to ponder. Now, OWS Ink has asked the question, “What if Cinderella was a little bit different?”
A different type woman? A different shoe size? A different type of hero? Or maybe a villain? What if she was never even a human?
And our authors answered. Prepare to read Cinderella stories like you’ve never imagined. Stories where Cinderella makes a different choice altogether, where she uses magic to make her own happy ending, and somewhere even magic can’t help her avoid her fate.
So grab your drink and curl up with our new versions of this classic fairy tale.
My story is about a teen girl who gets bullied at school. She finds a way to make wishes come true and gets her revenge. But what else will she wish for? And what will she do when her wishes don’t turn out quite as she expected? Here’s some excerpts.
There’s really something for everyone in this anthology. I was the Head Editor for this book, so I got to read all the selections and really loved so many of them. Check out Glass and Ashes here and snag your copy today.
Hello and welcome to this review! Rebekah Jonesy is a dear friend of mine and colleague, so I talked with her when Moss and Clay came out in May. You can check out her interview here. The second book in the Mab’s Doll series is Clay and Blood, which comes out on Halloween—which is just perfect for this book as you’ll see when you read it. It’s got just the right amount of gore and murder for the day.
I absolutely loved Moss and Clay, so I was really looking forward into diving into Clay and Blood. I was actually lucky enough to be the developmental editor for both books, so I got to see how the stories developed and deepened in each stage. The best part of both these books is that it never mattered how many times I read them, I was sucked into the stories each time and enjoyed them as much as the first time I read them. Which makes an editor’s job both easier and harder. Easier because you enjoy the process more, but harder because you keep getting lost in how good the story is.
It has a lot of the things I loved from book one. Great characters I loved getting to know a little better, a lot of humor and comedic moments to break the tension, and a plot that you had to follow to see where it was going. It’s a super entertaining read and so well written. I read it in just a few days the first time and was sucked right in. It also has some heart wrenching moments as Gillian does some growing up.
Before we get too far along, let me tell you a little about the series and the characters. Gillian is the protagonist. She is a living doll made under the instructions of the goddess Danu by the fae queen, Queen Mab. She has a human father, making her immune to the effects of the poisoned metal fae can’t survive. She is sent to America to search out the rogue fae and bring them to heel. A mischievous kelpie, who goes by the usename Pitch, accompanies her and is her only friend as she tries to navigate the world of modern humans and crazed fae who murder.
Clay and Blood deals with a sick fae who is killing humans, but leaving no trace of the murders behind other than a few scraps of bloody clothes in the ground. Gillian has to figure out what type of fae they’re dealing with and how to stop them.
Here’s the blurb:
Gillian Gilchrist has no time to rest after completing her first missions for Queen Mab and the goddess Danu. There is still the cleanup to do, and that’s how she finds herself following the trail of devastation left by a rogue fae. Somehow this one moves through the trees without leaving any trace of its passing, except for the tattered and bloody clothing of its victims. In the dark woods Gillian can’t tell if the culprit she is tracking is insane, sick, or simply acting out its true nature, but she knows that the only way to find out is to track it, capture it, and question it. Unfortunately, that means following the scent of the victim’s blood soaked into the soil.
Gillian is a great character. She has her parents’ thoughts and knowledge, but not their maturity. She really starts to come into herself in this book, experiencing deep emotions for the first time and insecurities. Her magic also makes its first appearance, much to Pitch’s amusement. And Pitch is my favorite character. He’s hilarious and clever and the perfect companion.
I give this book (and this series) 6 out of 5 stars—I can do that right? I mean it’s my blog, so yeah, 6 stars! I would recommend this book to anyone. Start with Moss and Clay and grab your copy of Clay and Blood on Halloween.
Moss and Clay
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CJWBYTK
Amazon paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946382299
Clay and Blood preorders
And find Rebekah Jonesy online here!
Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Rebekah-Jonesy/e/B00NQ5Z1CS
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1214371635362864/