Friday, July 24, 2015

Character, personality, empathy, story


How do you create compelling, distinct characters, convey personality, create a sense of empathy, and tell a story...with a limited number of words?

While I can't answer that question, I know it when I see it, feel it, and thought you might enjoy this lovely example.  

We not only get to know the four friends, but the narrator as well....

The Four Friends
Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow,
Leonard was a lion with a six foot tail,
George was a goat, and his beard was yellow,
And James was a very small snail. 

Leonard had a stall, and a great big strong one,
Earnest had a manger, and its walls were thick,
George found a pen, but I think it was the wrong one,
And James sat down on a brick 

Earnest started trumpeting, and cracked his manger,
Leonard started roaring, and shivered his stall,
James gave a huffle of a snail in danger
And nobody heard him at all. 

Earnest started trumpeting and raised such a rumpus,
Leonard started roaring and trying to kick,
James went on a journey with the goats new compass
And he reached the end of his brick. 

Ernest was an elephant and very well intentioned,
Leonard was a lion with a brave new tail,
George was a goat, as I think I have mentioned,
but James was only a snail.

                                      A. A. Milne (1882-1956)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cinderella’s Happily Edit After: My Kindle Scout Experience Part 3 by Jina Bacarr



(You can read my previous posts about my experience with the Kindle Scout program by clicking on Part 1 and Part 2.)

Remember when Cinderella was all aflutter getting ready for the ball? Her fairy godmother shows up and poof! Cindy has a gorgeous gown, a carriage, and the sexiest pair of glass slippers. Next, she meets the prince, loses her slipper, gets it back, and marries the handsomest man in the land.

Then comes a reality check.

Cindy is a princess with a hundred and fifty room castle to manage, servants galore, royal obligations, and a demanding mother-in-law who can’t wait to show her off at high teas.

First, she must learn how to be a princess.

Kinda like putting out a good book. It’s a lot of work. Period.

After my 30-day campaign with Kindle Scout for LOVE ME FOREVER, my Civil War time travel romance, being on and off the Hot and Trending list, then waiting to see if I made the cut, came my reality check.

Edits.

Most writers would rather clean bathrooms for a week than open the Editorial Letter.

I was shaking in my slippers when mine came. I worked more than two years on “LOVE ME FOREVER,” getting the research right, the romance, settings. Not an easy task. My story is over 150,000 words.

Which brings me to one of my favorite things about Kindle Scout: the Kindle Press Team. With everyone jumping into the self-publishing arena, it’s easy to want to write, write, write and get it out there. Do-it-yourself, especially if you’ve been writing for a long time. I can wrap my head around a story pretty well. I’ve written several novels for trad publishers, non-fiction books, kids’ TV scripts, and plenty of magazine columns and stories.

But no writer is an island.

A good editor is as important as Cinderella’s fairy godmother. She/he can wave their magic wand and give you that extra spin on your book, make you dig deeper, cut excess. One thing that drew me to the Kindle Scout program was the idea of receiving editorial input.

I wasn't disappointed. The editorial guidance at Kindle Scout/Kindle Press is awesome.

I’m thrilled to say that my editor at Kindle Press was thorough, gave excellent suggestions, made me think, and complimented me along the way when she particularly liked something. She’s definitely one of the best editors I’ve ever had. The turnaround was quick: a week to complete the edits. I admit I hardly slept and I maxed out the balance on my Starbucks gold card, but the KP Team gave me a heads up three weeks before as to exactly what day to expect the email with the attached files and they delivered.

So here we are at a new juncture in my Kindle Scout experience. Edits done; book in production.

Preorder begins: July 13, 2015. 

On Sale at Amazon: July 28, 2015.

Am I nervous? You bet I am. I put my heart and soul into this story, laughed and cried with my characters every step of the way. I’m anxious to get it out there. But the best part is, I feel confident that as part of the Kindle Scout program, LOVE ME FOREVER is the best it can be.

~Jina

Website: www.jinabacarr.com
Blog: www.jinabacarr.wordpress.com

Next month: Part 4: what happens when my Kindle Scout book, LOVE ME FOREVER, goes on sale.

================
 
Love_Me_Forever_500x798
LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is a Kindle Scout selection and will be published soon!! You can read the first 5,000 words HERE.

You’ll meet both my heroines and both my heroes in the excerpt. It’s a saga of love and romance and war. Believe me, I walked every road, fought every battle with my characters, even walked around in a hoop skirt to “get it right.”

This is a book of the heart…any questions? Please ask!!

I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:

www.facebook.com/JinaBacarr.author
 
And on Vimeo you'll find my videos--all 71 of them covering my books, poems, etc.:

https://vimeo.com/user216350/videos

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Ad Results From KDP Select Free Days by Kitty Bucholtz

We all like to know what kinds of promotions have worked for other people so that we can decide which promotions we’re going to try for our own books. With that in mind, here is my experience using the KDP Select free days in May 2015.

My chick-lit book, LittleMiss Lovesick, first came out in 2011. Recently, as I’ve focused on my superhero series, sales have dropped to almost nothing for Lovesick. I decided they couldn’t go lower than zero, so I removed the book from other distributors and signed it up for KDP Select.

In the interest of experimentation, and because I was busy getting my online class on self-publishing ready, I did nothing to promote the book after I put it into Select. (That’s the same amount of promotion I was doing before it was in Select. ;) ) For the first 2 1/2 months of the 90-day program, the book did about the same as it had been doing. I had a total of one Kindle Unlimited borrow and one sale in eleven weeks.

I decided that to get more downloads, and therefore more reviews, I would use the free days rather than the Countdown Deal. I set five days free in a row from Tuesday, May 19 through Saturday, May 23, the middle of Memorial Day weekend. And to see how that affected borrows, I renewed the book in KDP Select for another 90 days.

A week or two before the free dates, I used the BookMarketing Tools auto-submission form ($14.99) to apply to 32 websites that accept submissions for free books to be placed in their daily newsletter. Using this tool, I was able to fill out the required information for 32 websites in 20 minutes! (Definitely worth fifteen bucks to me!)

As luck would have it, my main computer’s hard drive died in the middle of my sale and I no longer have all the information about what I did and what happened. But this is at least 90% of the information I was tracking. :)

Monday May 18:
- day before sale started, no borrows, no sales
- guest blog at Kathleen Rowland’s blog 

Tuesday May 19: 1002 free downloads today
- first day of “free” sale!
- guest blog at Alina K. Field’s blog 
- Indie Author News “Free Ebook of the Day” ad ($25) – an ad with the book’s cover stayed on top left corner of EVERY page of their website, and they tweeted about it at least 5-10 times (I’d definitely do this again!)

Wednesday May 20: 1389 free downloads today
- there were SO MANY TWEETS from Linda (perhaps automated? I forgot to ask, but on that blog it shows 54 people tweeted about it!), and many people in her circle retweeted her tweets (I definitely want to get Linda’s help again! She should sell a service or something! Haha!)

Thursday May 21: 2517 free downloads today
- InD'tale Bargain Books ad ($25) to 10,000+ subscribers; my book was listed first this time (at the top) in the email that went out. I didn’t receive the email until about 4pm Pacific, so I don’t know how many people who saw that ad clicked on it Thursday or didn’t see it until Friday.
- Fiverr promo w/BKnights ($15) – I heard about them on the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. I bought three $5 promotions: promoted to 4800+ active on Facebook page (over 7 days), promoted on website w/2000 visitors (1 day), and included in daily newsletter to 2500+ subscribers (1 day)

I know the InD'tale ad did well last time I bought it, which is why I used it again this time. But my numbers this time are significantly higher, so I’m assuming the BKnights promotion did well, too. I’m going to try them both again next month.

Friday May 22: 1407 free downloads today
- first day of Memorial Day weekend; had no idea if that would be good or bad
- Tracy Reed posted a guest blog at The Romance Studio about my book and sale 
- Choosy Bookworm Premium ad ($38) to 40,000+ subscribers, “all week” but I don’t know the start and end date

Saturday 5/23: 972 free downloads today
- no known promo, except possibly Choosy Bookworm as part of their “all week” promo with the premium ad; possible that one of the 32 sites I submitted to earlier ran the book on this day
- I was enjoying the holiday weekend and didn’t do anything except look for tweets and reply and retweet

Over the next week, through the end of May:
There were 25 more freebies downloaded early Sunday morning before the price went back to $2.99, for a grand total of 7312 free copies downloaded in five days. I thought it was quite funny that two copies were returned – they were free, why take the time?! Haha! But even so, that’s a negligible percentage.

On Sunday, the first day the book was back at full price, I sold 15 copies. I sold 11 more copies over the rest of that week. It’s more than I'd sold for any other non-sale week, but it’s not much. Then for the whole month of June, the book sold 5 copies. No copies were sold during the first eight days of July.

Now since it’s KDP Select, and that means Kindle Unlimited, everyone wants to know how many borrows I had. As I mentioned earlier, I had one borrow in the 2 1/2 months before the book went free. In the eight days of May following the freebie period, I had 71 borrows! :)

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that borrows don’t show up on the “Prior Six Weeks’ Royalties,” so I didn’t think to make a screen shot of June’s Month-to-Date Unit Sales on June 30. And when the borrows went from books to pages on July 1, the history no longer has borrowed books. Bummer!

Oh, wait! I am using the beta version of BookTrackr! I just went through all my emails and, though I’m missing a few days, it looks to be around 63 or so borrows in June. Excellent! Remember I had ONE borrow before I did my five-day free promo. 

[UPDATE: Debra Holland kindly mentioned in the comments below how you can find your prior month's sales. Thanks, Debra! So the borrows in June were 88 rather than 63. Nice! :) ]

So in the 7 weeks since the free book promotion, Little Miss Lovesick has had 7312 free downloads, 31 sales, and about 138 163 borrows. Total spent on promotion - $118. Total earned – about $339 $389, approximately $63 from sales and $276 $326 from borrows. This is FAR MORE MONEY than I have earned in one month so far from all book sales combined. And if you're interested in rankings, I think I hit #49 or 47 in all of the Kindle Free Store as my best rank, plus several #1 and #2 category rankings.

If you’re interested in how this compares with my last book promotion, see this post about making Unexpected Superhero free over two periods in October. I spent $80 that month, had 3710 free downloads, 59 sales, and 15 borrows over about four weeks, earning about $88.

I can think of at least three things that contributed to the difference. One, I did five free days in a row, which is what Debra Holland and many of our other friends strongly suggest. I wanted to try two weekends in October, and perhaps that accounted for less momentum. Two, my mailing list has almost doubled since October, and I have more fans. That may have contributed to increased sales and borrows. Three, these are different books in different genres. It’s impossible to replicate something exactly due to that alone.


I hope this gave you some ideas for places that might be good for you to try for your own promotions. And I hope you’ve gained some insight into how the whole process works. Remember, your results will not only vary from mine, but they will vary from one of your books to another!

I'm going to do another free promotion for Little Miss Lovesick next month. I'm going to try to replicate exactly the ads and promotions that I did in May, but also try to come up with additional ideas to increase visibility as well. I'll let you know what happens!

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding and Unexpected Superhero, and the free short story, "Superhero in Disguise," are now available at most online retail sites. You can also find more advice on self-publishing and time management for writers at her new website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

FLING:NEW ADULT BOX SET

I am so excited to be a part of my first box set. I have heard a lot of people talk about box sets. I’ve heard the good and the bad. However, the amount of good far outweighed the bad for me. I am having a ball working with the six other authors in the FLING: NEW ADULT BOX SET.

It’s great watching everyone push, encourage, inform, help and teach each other. The box set is on KDP Select. As a new Indie Author, I was a little apprehensive about trying KDP Select, but the box set gave me the perfect opportunity to try it. So far, I love it as a vehicle for my novellas.

False celebration. Being new to KDP Select and the borrow or loan program, I reviewed my sales and thought I had over 200 hundred borrows. Reality stepped in and slapped me when I realized the pay structure changed on July 1st. What I thought were units borrowed, were actually pages read. Still not too bad for the first day.

THE GOOD GIRL, is my contribution to the box set and I have to admit, I thought writing a novella
would be a piece of flourless chocolate cake. And it was sort of. Originally, I was only going to write ten thousand words, which I did in a week. However, I wanted to also have a print version, so I set out to double my word count. Talking about stretching, but once I did, it was a little difficult to stop. So now my little novella, is book one in a series.

I’m very grateful to be a part of this box set, because it forced me to do some things I should have done. First, it made me implement a production schedule. Second, it forced me to write a novella. I have been wanting to write a novella for a while. I loved it. I am definitely adding more novellas to my production schedule. Third, it gave me a filler book. My next full length book needed quite a few revisions [I’ll share about that book later] which meant the gap between books was not good. So instead of almost nine months, it’s more like six.

This venture gave me six new writing friends. Thank you, Bonnie, Elena, Geralyn, Kathleen, Michele and Tina.

FLING New Adult Box Set is available at Amazon.com

So meet my Fling Box Set Mates:




Entangled Summer by Michele Barrow-Belisle
Nora Dultry has dreamed of a mysterious guy for years, but when he walks into her waking life, she must untangle the past from the present to know if he’s her dream come true, or her waking nightmare.


Love Me Like You Do by L.Kirk
Daisy Philips jumps to the defense of mysterious loner. Jason Lancaster is a lost soul. Their budding romance hits a snag when a tragedy pulls them apart. Can they find a way to mend their broken hearts?


Chase by Elena Dillon
Rylan Maguire has run from danger…right into Chase Sullivan. But his past tangles with hers, making Rylan wonder if she’s strong enough to love him.



My Best Friend’s Ex by Tina Gayle
She loved him first, but her best friend married him. With their divorce, Brooke must choose between her best friend and the man she loves.



Betrayal at Crater’s Edge by Kathleen Rowland
Marchand wants to show Yardley he loves her, but he has bigger problems. Venus is heading for a catastrophe, and only he can save their world.


Random Acts of Violet by Geralyn Corcillo
Cautious loner Violet Parker needs a new playbook when her quiet summer on campus collides with an unexpected eight year-old, a monster in the attic, and Noah…



The Good Girl by Tracy Reed
When Gabriella accepted her new assignment, she didn’t know it also included a chance for love with her boss, the hot and elusive, Phillippe Marchant.


Tracy Reed
readtracyreed@me.com
www.readtracyreed.com

Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July President's Message

Greetings OCC!

What a fantastic meeting we had last month. Our guest speaker was Jess Michaels and for the morning session she spoke on “The Great Agent Search” and in the afternoon she spoke on “Finding and Rediscovering the Joy of Writing.” It was such a great meeting. It was also exciting to give out over 20 flowers for contracts and pins! This month we will have Dee J Adams in the Morning session with “Itching to Pitch.” The afternoon session will consist of chapter networking.

This year’s October Birthday Bash! The theme will be Once Upon a Time. We’re hoping everyone will join us in costume with his or her favorite fairytale character. More information will be shared later.

OCC needs volunteers! We can’t function without you, so please…please volunteer. It is rewarding, believe you me. The job as president and programs is a volunteer position and I have loved every bit of it. There are plenty more positions that need to be filled and can be made into committees so that one person isn’t doing it alone.

Mary Kozlowski has decided to step down as coordinator of the online classes. Please if you’d like to takeover get in touch with Mary and let her know.

Decorating Committee (Programs), Ways and Means (Programs), Welcoming Committee (Secretary and Membership), and online class moderators contact Mary Kozlowski @ onlineclass@occrwa.org.

Bash info:

If you’d like to help Marie Loggia-Kee (Louisa Bacio) with the pajama parties please contact her. Also Tari Porter Jewett is head of the decorating for the Bash if you can help her with decorating I’m sure she’d love it.

We’re also looking for fresh new articles on craft and the business of writing for the blog and the newsletter. In addition, we’d like to celebrate special days with you such as your birthday or anniversaries. If you’d care to submit those items please send them to Annette Macias. You can contact Annette Macias (communications@occrwa.org ) for articles for the newsletter and Marianne Donley (occblog@occrwa.org ). If interested please get hold of anyone on the board and we will steer you in the right direction.

Once again, my fellow authors thank you for all that you do and your commitment to OCC RWA where our motto is: “One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.”

Best,

Nichelle Scott-Williams

Aka Nikki Prince

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In My Day...

I was looking for a pair of normal jeans and not having much luck.  So I went into the giant Levi shop (All Levis All The Time) filled with hope!  Surely Levi would be able to deliver a pair of regular jeans.

Think again.

Fabric dark, cheap feeling, and like ever other jean product available on the market "stylishly" torn, big holes at knees or strange white blobs of wear on the legs in places that would never, naturally, get worn.


Or multiple peculiar holes all over, as if they'd been left hanging in some automatic weapons firing range and had been peppered good. Or both...



I look at the young clerk and confessed: "You know, I just feel it is my job to wear out my own jeans.  It doesn't seem right to have it contracted out to some machine or child laborer."

He nodded sympathetically. (The customer is always right).

Yes, in my day we had active lives.  We did stuff.  We wore holes in our jeans without any outside help. Yep, not even from our disinterested non-helicopter parents.

Our jeans were authentic.  Artisanal.  Indeed the work was just about as local as you could get.

When you look at the language being used now to market and enhance our present possessions, foods and lifestyle, beneath the words, you can hear this wild, inchoate cry against the virtualness of much of our present existence: instant, effortless, convenient.  But somehow insubstantial, unsatisfying.

Unearned.

Isabel Swift

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cinderella at the Ball: My Kindle Scout Experience Part 2 by Jina Bacarr




Hi, everyone,

I’m finally settling in to my Cinderella experience with my Kindle Scout book selection, LOVE ME FOREVER, though the fairy dust makes me sneeze and my feet hurt from the glass slippers.

I wouldn't change it for the world, but I admit I wear my fuzzy, worn-out pink slippers when no one's looking.

So here we are and I wanted to give you an update on my Kindle Scout experience since Love Me Forever was selected at the end of April. If you missed last month’s post CLICK HERE. 

1.  I took the full 30 days allotted after my campaign was over on April 27th (my book was selected 2 days later) to go over my book before handing it in for copy edits. I found minor errors—punctuation, missing words, etc. I had to re-do some paragraphs, fix transposed sentences, develop a few things, and worked on my timeline and events from 1862-63 for 100% accuracy.

The m/s is 142,000 words, so you can see why it took me a month.

2. Soon after I received a phone call from the KS editorial staff. The editor said my m/s was “very clean and the team loves LOVE ME FOREVER, it’s solidly written, filled with intrigue, both romantic and non-romantic, and we love the story of two heroes and two heroines interconnected.”

3. She also said they have a Civil War buff on staff who couldn’t believe the layering and historical information being so spot on. He loves my book. Needless to say, I’m thrilled.

4. I get my book back from the copy editor around June 29th with any suggestions the staff has (style changes, anything I missed, etc.). I then have one week to accept the changes (using Track Changes)
5. My book goes on pre-order on Monday, July 13, 2015. Everyone who nominated my book should get a link at that time where you can download your free advance copy.  

6 .LOVE ME FOREVER goes live on: July 28, 2015. Tuesday. 

Unbelievable how quickly things move. Three months after the campaign ended, LOVE ME FOREVER will be on sale! 

7. I received the $1,500 advance—digitally wired to my bank account. It takes a while to fill out the payee forms since you have to do one for each country, but otherwise, it’s a very smooth process. 

8. The Kindle Press editor also indicated my book would be eligible for Amazon promotions a month or so after its release. Wow, now that is cool. I’ll be busting my butt with promo to make my book look good.

What’s next? I’m writing a sequel to LOVE ME FOREVER. To be honest with you, I couldn’t let this family go…I have to know what happens afterward down the line, so why not follow a family through the decades who just happens to time travel? A new heroine…a sexy new hero…and a whole new time travel adventure in a different era.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say: “Time Travel...it’s the family business.” 

Before I go, I want to say the Kindle Scout program has been an amazing Cinderella experience for me. If you're an author and you're wondering if you should try it, I hope my posts will help you make your decision. The KS team is awesome...the other authors are like old friends. If you're a reader, please nominate the books you'd love to see published. You'll receive a free advance copy if it's selected.

So I'll say au revoir...auf wiedersehen...arrivederci...till next month when I’ll have a new update for you.

And in case you’re wondering about the graphic in today’s post, the hunky guy and the luxury castle aren’t part of the deal, but hey, that’s the stuff dreams are made of…

Best,
Jina
Love_Me_Forever_500x798
LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is a Kindle Scout selection and will be published soon!! You can read the first 5,000 words HERE. You’ll meet both my heroines and both my heroes in the excerpt. It’s a saga of love and romance and war. Believe me, I walked every road, fought every battle with my characters, even walked around in a hoop skirt to “get it right.”
This is a book of the heart…any questions? Please ask!!

I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:

 
And on Vimeo you'll find my videos--all 71 of them covering my books, poems, etc.: