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Shared Experiences on Marketing – Meet Dan O’Brien

Just a quick note to share an interesting post on an indie author’s experience on marketing, complete with valuable information on review providers – all from an indie’s perspective. Come and see. Meet Dan O’Brien.

owl-book

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Let's Talk

 

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Success – Your Own Recipe

Nobody respects writers, yet everybody wants to be one. This disturbing thought occurred to me a while ago and is proving to be a very, very stubborn one. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t banish it.

Add to that the relentless bombardment of articles from respected voices in the publishing industry, articles that commiserate our career choice and tell us that we’d be better off buying a lottery ticket – we’d have a better chance of winning, that is, than making a living as a writer.

Even if you’re stubborn enough to ignore all the above and keep working, keep slaving over that book because you believe in that story, you believe in yourself, even then the road ahead is not easy. Don’t write this genre, that one sells better. Not that long, shorter, and not stand-alone novels, but a series. Don’t rush, but don’t take too long. Formats, covers, promo work – all is skill and it all needs to be learned from scratch. As if researching and writing a serious book is not hard enough… There are no signposts, just a knot of roads, some neat and tidy-looking, some hardly walked, and you only have one lifetime to get this right.

So, tell me, fellow writers. Why do we do this? Pride? Stubbornness? Masochism? To teach a lesson? To have a voice? Prove someone wrong? Or maybe because it’s in the blood?

You might want to share your motivation, or you may not. I don’t much care about your reason, either, I know my own. But there is something else I know. I know there is no right or wrong way, no best and worst, no should or shouldn’t. Any obstacles are, really, merely insubstantial, paltry bumps in this road we’ve chosen. In this new dawn of writing freedom, the rules have been tipped upside-down, the waters muddied and somewhat rough, but we can swim. We can barrel right through them. Because the only way that matters is our way. Our story. Our work. Our sweat and tears. Our reason.

So burn those maps. Burn the heaps of advice. The pieces of card that prove you’ve sat and listened to someone else’s theory for years and years, the seminar attendance notes, the videos and presentations. Stop wasting precious time and money on someone else’s idea of ‘how to’. They are destructive and distracting. They pull at the threads of your concentration and stop you from focusing on your one true goal: SUCCESS.

You have yourself. Rely on yourself. Do things your way. Set your own standards. Before you know it, you’ll get there, you’ll achieve your goal. Don’t look at someone else and don’t compare yourself to others. One size indeed does not fit all. Not now, not ever.

Success? If, in fact, it is your goal, then shouldn’t it be your own recipe?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Let's Talk

 

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Waving The White Flag – Revisited

Another post I wrote a little while back. I was split, at the time, unsure whether to look for a publisher or publish independently. I guess I worked it out, somehow. This was a peace offering. Unfortunately, not many people from the ‘upper classes’ came to sit at the round table.

At the present moment, I have one book published by a publisher and one published independently. They were released six months apart. I am considering this an experiment. It will be interesting to see how things progress.

Here’s the post.

I did wonder, right at the very beginning, if blogging was really such a good idea, you know, for me. Not because I cannot spell, or have bad punctuation. No. My biggest worry is that I have opinions.

You remember opinions? Those ideas you feel very strongly about, those firm thoughts you have, the ones you instinctively know are going to cause offence if you so much as poke the mere tip of them out to air.

Yeah, those!

I’ve spent a lot of my life being told that having an opinion is a bad thing. The blander you are, the better camouflage you can find if you hide in a crowd of similarly non-opinionated people.

But what about the times when you simply have to say something? When you feel you would burst if you kept it all locked up inside?

What about the times when you feel your thoughts are so obvious there can’t possibly be anyone left on the planet who hasn’t thought the same thing yet?

The thought bothering me right now, the one I absolutely have to share with you, is about the newly developed dimensions of the publishing industry. Despite the many articles written on the subject so far, there is one very obvious aspect that no one seems to have cottoned on yet: the silly, archaic idea that we can kill a mammoth easier if we work together, as a tribe.

Like a parallel universe a new marketplace has sprouted up and flourished until it completely covered up every far corner of the existing market. It spread its wings like a shadow, oblivious to old rules and standards of etiquette we all took as the only way to do business.

I won’t pretend I know a lot about it. I’m fairly new to publishing, in any form. But what seems obvious to me is a total lack of communication between the two camps. It bothers me when I see people who don’t talk to each other because of their preconception of the other’s status.

Like a war between social classes, traditional publishers don’t want to talk to independently published authors and vice-versa. One is seen as superior, and not just by the opposite camp, and the other is the thorn in the side, the scourges of society who are nothing but a pest, an inconvenience at the best of times.

For a time traditional publishing houses were able to coast, to rely on previous contracts of authors already on their books to make it through the financial year. Slowly, though, the cracks started to show. There are only so many cook books Jamie Oliver can cobble together before things become repetitive, no matter how you doctor the cover and the retail price.

Author lists stagnate and the readership reacts accordingly. Technology advances and all of a sudden readers have a choice.

Meanwhile, authors who had something to say went along and said it. They found a way, because they believed in themselves. They may have been told their work is not up to scratch, or that the market they are aiming for is not sufficiently developed, or that if their book doesn’t fit into a clear genre they have no chance of selling it, or they may not have even received an acknowledgement, something to say their work is being looked at.

The condescending way in which authors are treated when they dare pitch to well-established publishing houses is clear evidence of the upstairs-downstairs class philosophy of the publishing industry.

Authors, like readers, are not stupid. They are not simpletons to be brushed aside with a mere gesture, they can’t be intimidated by class or indifference. The mere detail that they created a complete story should be evidence of the fact that authors are actually thinking human beings.

They know what you are going to ask, they know there is no book like theirs out there but still you stubbornly ask them to supply a list of the closer-fitting titles, they know there isn’t a clear genre for it, but still you ask them to label their product, they know all that before they even send in the query letter – all they ask, if you don’t have time to read the customary three chapters, is that you give them five minutes of your time to let them explain their story.

I’ve recently seen a conversation between two traditional house editors who were asking each other whether they noticed, again, a drop in submissions from new authors. Wow! Traditional houses have been turning authors away for years and the trend has only just become a concern? I guess the lower classes are just quicker at grasping opportunities.

The way I see it, we’re all part of the fabric of life. We all have a role to play, a job to do, a need to fill.

So why don’t we just bury the hatchet?

Traditional publishers are struggling without new blood, their customers are already losing confidence in their ability to fill their need for fresh thinking. And I am pretty sure many self-published authors would be happy to enter into conversation with experienced people, be they editors, cover artists or market strategists.

But none of them will do that when they don’t feel on an equal footing.

It’s time we stopped seeing traditional publishers as stuck-up dinosaurs and a waste of space. And it is high time independent authors are no longer seen as a plague of simpletons crowding up the marketplace.

War is not pretty. Even amongst friends.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Let's Talk

 

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Anticlimax

As many of you already know, I’ve had a very busy three or four days. No, busy doesn’t cover it. I’ve had the kind of days where you spend a twelve-hour shift in front of your computer and limit your food and drink intake to the absolute minimum necessary for basic life function, and after a short and screamingly necessary break you return to do just a little bit more work.

I went to bed tired and wrung out and woke up exhausted but determined to keep going. It took two solid days’ editing, but finally I was happy with the end result. One more half day to check for the millionth time that no errors could have crept and hidden between the lines overnight and then another half day playing the self-publishing game, first by Smashwords‘ rules, and then by KDP’s.

Ta-dah! By the end of the third day the ‘Publish’ buttons had been clicked and there was no turning back. No more worrying about formatting, the copyright page, any table of contents links or acknowledgements and dedications. The typos (though I don’t believe there are any) and too-English turns of phrase are there to stay now. No point worrying about details anymore.

I spent the fourth day making it known to all and sundry that my book was available for download and I am very happy with the result. I wouldn’t have imagined the number of people interested to run into three figures in just the first twenty-four hours. If only ten percent of them would post reviews, I would be hopping about with joy.

Today I’m feeling a bit like my balloon’s been punctured. THE BIG JOB has been accomplished and now I can go back to my editing and reading and reviewing business. Sure, I have a backlog, but that’s not going to get in my way for more than a week or so, and then what?

Yes, I plan to publish an author resource book in September and a sequel to Blood Is Heavier in December, but those plans are far away kind of plans. Right NOW is when I feel lost. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wasting time. I’m reading with a view to writing a book review tomorrow. It’s not put the sadness of saying goodbye to my baby out of my mind yet. Up until now, Nick Hunter’s story was my secret. Now it’s out there, open for everyone to pick up with one click. In a way, it feels like bereavement. I’m not sure my reaction is entirely logical, but there you are: that is me.

Has anyone else felt that way before? Is it normal or am I losing it? I would appreciate your comments. Thank you.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Just A Thought

 

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The Independent Writer or The Story Of Being HUMAN

Not a day passes by without there being several links to articles about self-published authors in my twitter stream.

Some are smart, most are funny, but the one universally recognisable watermark that runs through them all like a uniquely spun gold thread is the fact that all these people are passionate about their work. They keep going and going despite the numerous spanners thrown in their works and no matter where they are along their treacherous journeys, they don’t seem to mind talking about it.

So what? A lot of people talk – mostly because they like the sound of their own voices.

That may be so, but not in this case. Because people who talk for the sake of talking are easily found out. They are the shallow ones, the ones who never listen, the know-it-alls and sun-rotates-around-own-axis ones.

What sets writers aside is their purpose. They don’t just write, they share. They teach, they listen, they learn together and they unconditionally love what they do. That is not just writing. That is drive, determination, tenacity and a strong sense of community. Nowhere else in the many walks of life I have experienced (and believe me, I have tried a few!) have I seen such a strong resolve to be helpful, attentive, empathetic and just plain human.

And I think I know what the difference is.

Writers are happy to be individual people. They have acknowledged the fact that they have different voices and that is not just ok, but a welcome thing to have. And most of all, they aren’t so blinded by the prospect of seven-figure returns on their investment that they forget to be human.

Over time, writers have developed their own support network, and social media has proven an indispensable tool to this aim. Free promotional streams appear everywhere pretty much on a daily basis and you can usually rely on the writers’ community for help with every stage of editing, reviewing and even cover design.

But none of this would be possible if writers weren’t primarily human. Can you imagine asking for help in any of these fields from a large publisher? What would their answer be? Would that answer involve the action of reaching for your wallet? My point entirely.

Here are a few sites and links I have found helpful. They won’t all fit you like a glove, but there is no harm in asking a question. To these and the many others that I missed, THANK YOU. I attach below an example, just one of many, of quite how easy it is to work together when you are not blinkered.

Good luck and happy writing!

http://www.facebook.com/groups/356620871049132/

http://www.facebook.com/groups/ParaYourAbnormalAuthors/

http://www.facebook.com/groups/157960580960255/

http://worldliterarycafe.com/

http://www.goodreads.com/

http://www.indieauthorsnetwork.com/

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/author-services.html

http://www.epublishabook.com/#axzz1r4gtpoTe

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Just A Thought, Let's Talk

 

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Keeping The Ball Rolling, by John Abramowitz

One of the nice things about being an indie writer is the creative freedom. You don’t have to worry that a publisher (or all of the publishers) will reject your story because it doesn’t fit into some well-known, easily-marketable niche. The market you have is the market you create. The only limits are those imposed by your imagination and your skill with words. It’s really quite liberating.

Of course, it’s also really terrifying.

There’s no one to tell you no. There’s no one to stand in your way. There’s also no one to keep you from falling on your face, which is a fear most indie writers face with every book they release. Or, at least, I hope they do — I’d rather not be the only one. In any case, it’s a fear I confronted head-on when I wrote my most recent novel, Atticus for the Undead.

When I set out to write the book, the idea that it might not attract a large following didn’t bother me much. I didn’t have high expectations going into the project. Mostly I wrote it because the idea of putting a zombie on trial for eating brains tickled me, and also to give my brain a break between volumes of The Weaver Saga. (I try not to write two books in a row in the same world, to make sure I don’t burn out on that world.) In other words, I wrote it on a whim.

But as I settled down to the (frustrating, tiring, headache-inducing) business of writing, something happened: I fell in love with the story a little bit. Then a lot. I got four chapters into the writing before I realized that it was no longer acceptable to me for Atticus to sit quietly on Amazon’s e-shelves, collecting dust. But it was an urban-fantasy legal thriller. How was I supposed to market that? I wasn’t even sure a big marketing firm could market that.

I finished the book and sent it out to some review blogs, waiting on pins and needles for the results. To my shock, the reviews came back glowing — 4 and 5 stars across the board. Mentions were made of the book’s cross-genre appeal, which was my first glimmer of hope that I might be on to something. I had started the snowball rolling.

So I decided to keep it rolling. I offered the book to fellow authors and bloggers for free in exchange for their reviews. I didn’t discriminate based on gender, genre, or country — anyone who would read and review it, I sent it to. The reviews still came back glowing. People who were not fans of the paranormal praised the book anyway. People who dreaded legal fiction gushed about how much fun it was to read. I was definitely on to something. The snowball was getting bigger.

So now, here I am. I’ve got 21 reviews on Amazon’s American outlet, with an average rating above 4 stars. I’ve developed a community of friends among authors and book bloggers who are helping me to make Atticus a success. But promoting a book — any book — as an indie is still bringing the mountain to Mohammed.

If you’re still reading this, I’m hoping that means you have some interest in my little novel. I’m hoping it means you’ll take the chance those authors and bloggers I talked about took.

Let’s keep the snowball rolling.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Guest Posts

 

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