Tag Archives: self-publishing

Rejection= what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (or so we are told…)

8 Oct

At one point or another in one’s life, we all have been rejected and there is no other way to look at them other than: rejections suck. Whether by a boy/girl, by a parent, by a friend,  you name it–rejection hurts. One can’t ever sugarcoat a rejection, no matter the delivery method: sandwiched, wrapped, bluntly. Bottom line, it’s still a rejection, a door closed, end of the road.

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Today’s post focuses on rejections I, as a writer, am familiar with and how I deal with them. It’s no right or wrong way to do it, it’s just my personal take on them.

I started writing summer of 2009. I chose the self publishing path for several reasons, one of them being my insecurity about how many stories would I be able to write. Was there more than one book in me? Would I be able to deliver quality work, handle deadlines?

Since then I published several novels (5 to be exact) and have several other stories in different stages of being finished. Beginning of 2016 I decided to look for an agent, confident writing is as part of my DNA as the color of my eyes. And so the query stage begun . . .

It’s still vivid in my mind the first query I sent and how fast my heart pounded in my chest, my clammy hand pressing the “send” button, as if I was releasing a nuclear bomb, no less. The empowering surge (me, the little immigrant now a proud American who turned writing from a dream into reality) combined with OMG-what-did-I-do feeling and topped with an incredible overpowering vulnerability. Let me tell you, such a powerful cocktail of emotions brought me on the verge of . . . throwing up.

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That one query letter was followed by several others. I even made myself a beautiful spreadsheet with agent’s names and email addresses, agency’s websites, date I queried them and an empty column at the very end titled “YES/NO.” I wasn’t expecting that column to fill out too soon. All agents warn you about how long it takes to receive an answer (if any). And so the waiting begun . . .

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I remember the first rejection and the hurt it brought. The second, and the third… the deep and dark hole I was spiraling down into… the self-doubt and the acute need to be invisible so people won’t see my bleeding heart. The one rejection I received within exact 15 minutes after sending it, not as one of those automated response but written by the agent from his Iphone, as the end of the email stated. And the list can go on. Every single rejection delivered one blow after another and my hope diminished accordingly.  Somehow, by the 4th rejection something snapped in my brain and the blow, while still disappointing, it’s not hurting as bad.

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To date I’ve accumulated ten rejections. Some of my author friends burn them. Some frame them. Some use them as background for dartboard.

I’m by nature a control freak and shy so putting myself out there was never an easy thing for me, afraid people will judge me and I’d never rise to their expectations. This whole querying process is one of the hardest journeys I’ve embarked on that has taught me a lot of things about myself. My mind is my own enemy so I have to constantly talk myself out of (or in) something but one day, I’ll learn to stop self-doubting myself or so help me whichever power reigns over this universe!!!

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Living in the fast lane @ Arizona Dreamin’

3 Jun

Wow! What a weekend I had. And not just any weekend, a looooong/ incredible/ fun/ energetic/ interesting/ educative/ relaxing weekend which started on Thursday with the official release of my newest historical romance BORN IN SIN, and a virtual party on Facebook to celebrate  it.

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Later in the afternoon I met the committee organizing the AZ Dreamin Conference, Arizona’s FIRST Romance Reader Event and began preparing to welcome the attendees. Beginning Thursday night I didn’t get home until after 10pm only to do it all over again the next morning starting at 8am. I have to admit that while my energy level sunk progressively toward the afternoon I operated on Carmel Machiattos which gave me the exact needed boost. Whoever invented Carmel Machiatto: God Bless You!

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Friday morning during the Buildin’ The Dream Event I took some interesting workshops about The Pitt falls of Self-publishing with the sassy Morgan Kearns, Creating Your Brand with the one and only Kris Tualla, and Characters To Love and Hate with Erin Quinn and Erin Kellison.  I also wanted to attend Deena Remiel‘s workshop about Marketing your books, but it was given at the same time with Morgan’s workshop and unfortunately my clone wasn’t there to join me. I’m humbled and honored to have spent hours in their lovely companies while learning more about the crafts of writing and publishing.

While I met old friends I made new ones. Loved catching up with everyone, and being introduced to new authors. Sharon Hamilton is one of them. Not only is she a sweetheart, but Sharon is also a mother of a SEAL, which brings both of us on common ground since I’m a sucker for all things army. Tami Vinson, KC Klein, Amber Scott, and so many more have also been added to my fave list of new authors.

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photo-3The highlight of Saturday night was the contest “Man Of Our Dream.” Tall, handsome, packs of muscles, corky, funny–you name it, the guys had it all. They gave us a ton of reasons to laugh and enjoy the view while entertaining us with their sexy persona and not only. And that’s as far as I’m going to disclose what happened there… I would only add that James D Magnussen won. Look at the photo below and you will understand why…

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Sunday morning’s author panel brought everything to a point we all dreaded: saying goodbye. I already miss “my girls”, but I also look forward to keeping in touch and seeing them next year at the 2014 AZ Dreamin Conference.

For those of you interested to meet new authors, make new friends with the same passion for books you can also join us. Kris, Morgan and Deena are hard at work organizing already the next event. For more info click here. Check regularly for when tickets go on sale. I know this year we were sold out at least a month in advance so get your ticket in time.

Goodbye AZ Dreamin 2013. Hello AZ Dreamin 2014!

Guest Post and Author In The House–Jon Thomason with Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

21 Mar

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Today I have author Jon Thomason stopping by with his newest release Max Zylander and the Island of Zumurrud. Aside from the book presentation, a short bio of Jon’s and a guest post regarding self-publishing there is a $50 gift card rafflecopter associated with his book tour. For your chance to win it please click here.

Blurb:
Max has anger management issues. But she has a secret, too. She can make things happen. Like magic. She almost killed a loser skate punk and nearly used it on her stuck up older sister. The question is, can she do anything other than blow things up? Can she learn to control it? And is it really possible that an obscure teenage girl is the key to keeping all of humanity safe?
Philip just got his ring back. He got it taken away for messing with his teacher’s mind so he can cheat on a test. Now that he has his ring, he thinks he should be able to use his power to make his life better. A lot better. The problem is that people want him to be responsible. But if you could do magic, wouldn’t you use it to escape work in any way possible?
Aaron wants to be a soldier. He knows there are lots of people who would try to take over, and he’s determined to stop them. The problem is that there’s this new girl. And she might be not be on the right side of things. She’s really talented and pretty, but she might be able to destroy everything he believes in. Whatever the case, he knows he needs to learn to be world class with the magic sword while he figures out what to do.
Brynn never gets out. Her grandfather won’t permit it. Her only access to the outside world are high fashion magazines, so she has an unusual idea what she should wear. She’s dying to get out and travel. And adopt animals. Any kind of animal. Is she a lonely future granny with cats or are her ridiculous clothes actually the next fashion craze? What possible role could she play in the destiny of the world?
Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is a fast-paced fantasy adventure for all ages (10 and up)  and is the first of a planned trilogy. Fans of magic, swordplay, secret agents, and conspiracies set in a modern everyday world will not be able to put the book down. Jon Thomason is a debut author and paints a vivid world of magic right under our noses and delivers rapid-fire action that keeps the pages turning.

Author Jon Thomason

Jon Thomason lives with his family in San Diego, after many years living in the beautiful Seattle area. He has a successful career in high tech where he’s been fortunate enough to participate in many big-name industry releases.

Storytelling permeates everything he does. In the moments when Jon is not helping build the story of the tech world, he can almost always be found working on a project: writing, photography, videography, graphics design, or 3D art.

And he’s always careful to conceal his jinni magic abilities, though perhaps might slip one day and be discovered…

And now to the guest post regarding the self-publishing process.

Jon, the stage is your!

Hello Readers, my name is Jon Thomason and I’m the author of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud.

Once upon a time (not that long ago!), a budding novelist toiled away on a manuscript, and when it was finished, sent query letters in the postal mail to agents and publishers, dreaming of someone not saying no and who wanted to read your manuscript. Once in awhile, often after much perseverance, it worked. An agent took you own or a publisher decided they had to have it. A deal was signed, and after a year or sometimes two or three, the book would show up on store shelves, and hopefully sold.
 
Self-publishing and particularly electronic books turned this process for many people on its head. The writer still toils over the manuscript, but instead of sending off query letters and the manuscript, the writer decides to publish it themselves. Nirvana, right? As you’ve already deduced, not exactly. Sure, there are some advantages: no one will tell you that you can’t publish it, but if you think that the second you push the publish button on Amazon.com that suddenly the world will flock to your book, you might be in for a rude awakening from that pleasant fantasy.
 
Let’s back up a few steps, though. Unlike working with a publisher, when you self-publish, you are responsible for several things: a camera-ready book, cover art, and your own marketing.
 
Producing a camera-ready book is more difficult than you might think. First, editing and proofreading are virtually impossible to do by yourself. Trust me, you really need someone else to criticize your book. It will hurt your feelings and you may even hate your editor (briefly, hopefully), but it will improve your book. And I guarantee that you cannot proofread your own book. You will not find all the typos in your own work. Depending on your available resources, you should consider hiring an editor and a proofreader. Remember: there’s no publisher and editor backstopping you. What you push publish on will go up, spelling errors, bad grammar, and all!
 
Designing covers can be very difficult. Some people have the graphics arts experience to do their own covers. If you do, kudos, and get to work! But even for them, it’s a time consuming piece of artwork. It does matter what your cover looks like. Again, you may need to pay for an artist to do a cover for you. Do your homework and know what aspect ratio (mine is 6″x9″) your cover is. You’re best off if you have a concept to pitch to the artist. But even if you don’t, you can hire someone to help come up with concepts. Remember that people do judge books by their covers, no matter what the aphorism says.
 
Finally, marketing. You’ve come up with the ultimate concept, have edited and proofread and have the perfectly crafted novel. You even have the best cover known to man. You upload your book, Amazon says, “congratulations!” And then you let it go a day or a week, and you’re surprised that there are no sales. Or maybe your Aunt Mabel took pity on you and you have one sale. I believe that a self-published author has to spend even more time promoting than they do writing. There are a dozens of things you can do, but mostly be creative, and try things nearly every day to get the word out there.
 
Selling on Amazon itself is a bit of a catch-22. You won’t sell until you have lots of sales. User reviews are key. Give away books to everyone you know and beg them to write a review. Do a giveaway on Goodreads.com. Approach every blogger who will answer you. Do ads on facebook and promoted posts. Do giveaways, give prizes for hitting milestones like numbers of reviews posted or referrals. Give the book to local book clubs. Talk to librarians. In short, do anything you can think of to get your book out there! Your free giveaway days on Amazon.com are valuable tools to getting your book out there.
 
And don’t forget to keep writing. The only way to make money self-publishing is to have an entire catalog of books. When someone reads one of your books, if they like it, they might read all of yours. With this model, whatever marketing you did to get them to read one book essentially sells all your books at once!
 
Unfortunately, all this marketing costs money. This is the price of entry to self-publishing. Note that it’s self-publishing, meaning that you need to do the same things the publisher would do for you. You need to sell, sell, sell, and write, write, write!
 
Thanks for listening, and I wish you all the best in your writing and reading, and I’d like to introduce my novel, Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud to you.
 
Jon Thomason 

Links

Facebook * Amazon * Goodreads * Twitter

Self-publishing. My journey–Chapter 2

28 Sep

As I promised last week in my post about self-publishing, we are going to discuss each subject individually. Today’s pick is Critique Partners or CPs as authors refer to.

I doubt there are any authors out there that don’t have a group of CPs. And if they don’t it’s because they are established authors with dozens of novels under their belt, experienced, and so forth. But we aren’t talking about those authors. We are talking about the ones like you and I, starting on our own down the road to publishing.
If you didn’t find your CPs yet, stop writing and go out and find them. Your work will improve drastically. The more you critique their work, the better you’ll become at yours, recognizing weak plots, boring characters and the ability to strengthen your voice. The best places to find CPs are online, on any sites for authors as well as your local book club if you have any in your area.
After I finished my first novel—the first draft of it—I set it aside, spending lot of time on the internet looking for ways to publish it. I found out about the (in)famous query letter, agents, writer loops, critique partners, editors, publishing houses, blogging, creating your own webpage, networking—you name it. My head spun form so much information, which I wanted to absorb all at once.
I tried my hand at writing query letters and each one of them landed in the trash. Nothing I wrote was good enough. Think about it, you write 80,000 words novel that you have to summarize into a paragraph or so. Catch the agent’s attention with your first phrase. How can one do it, beats me, but…
Desperate I couldn’t write a query to save my life, I turned to Writer’s Digest online and found out they offer various classes, including one that helped aspiring authors on how to write a query letter. I was on cloud nine, thinking there was my chance at becoming one of the most famous authors in the world, right? The key to success was only a click away and … you guessed it, I signed up immediately.
The class lasted for a whole month with one assignment per week. If I remember correctly we were five people in that class. Never met in person, knew them only by their screen name. We each submitted our QL and had to critique each other’s work. Well, there is the critique part coming into play. Up until then I have never told anyone what I thought about their work. Had no idea what to look for. I was shy, afraid to say much, for fear to hurt someone’s feelings.
As the class progressed, we became more comfortable with each other’s style. I got two amazing things from that class:

At the end of the class we had the choice of remaining in contact with one another, exchanging emails. I asked everyone, nervous to see if they were interested. I got two people responding that turned out to become incredible assets for my writing, trusting work partners and most of all—friends forever. They are Cindy and Jeff.
Our critique was quite shy in the beginning, exchanging chapters one at the time, critiquing then sending back along with one of our chapters. For each chapter I sent, I critiqued two. Not overwhelming, not hard to do when your heart is in the right place.
Two years later and a total of nine books written in our group, I can’t imagine my work without the input of my peeps, as I like to call them. We reward one another for well-done scenes but we also argue, we point out what works and why, where there are holes in our plots visible from a mile away, characters that are so boring they put us asleep, speed up the pace, too many / too little details, whatever we need help with, we count on each other’s review.
We all write different genres, but that’s exactly why it works for us. We see in each other’s work what other writers from the same genre don’t. Sometime we send chapters on a daily basis, sometime weeks pass before one of us has a chapter ready. We do what works for us.
Cindy writes incredible YA and is really good with grammar. I call her the “Comma Queen.” She’s kind in her reviews, like a mother hen, but points us in the right direction with only one word.
Jeff writes a combination of dystopian/sci-fi, and he’s creative, and very poetic in his writing. He’ll tell me where my hero sucks (“No real man thinks like that, Cami”, he’d say), or if my heroine should put her big-girl panties on and stop whining.
Recently we added another member to our group, Sherry. She’s too kind for now, reminding me of myself in the beginning, when I was too nervous to point out Jeff’s scene drove me crazy, or Cindy’s heroine came across as a spoiled brat. I laugh at those memories…. I hope Sherry will stick around long enough to feel comfortable with us and kick our butts when we deserve it.
I’ve heard stories of people that have tried several CPs until they found the right ones. I’ve heard stories of people frustrated with their CPs because they gave everything and they received nothing.
The main point in this story is, you have to find the right people for yourself. You have to try and try and if it doesn’t work for you, say it and move on. Don’t give up and trust your instinct that you will find the right CPs, the people that will bring so much joy to your life, and so much growth to you as a writer.