May 30, 2011

I Need Another Weekend to Rest Up from my Weekend

I've had a busy three days. I created a Facebook page to make it easier for readers to find out what's coming up next.

I also had another fun interview, this time with Ashley, who maintains a book blog called Book Labyrinth. She asked me the hardest question I've been asked by anyone since I began writing Between the Lines: "If you had to describe Between the Lines’ premise in a tweet (140 characters or less), what would you say?" Good lord, it took me for-freaking-ever to simplify my entire book into 140 characters. You'd have thought someone asked me to explain the Pythagorean Theorem.

And, of course, I'm working on edits to my second book, the sequel to Between the Lines.

I also took a break yesterday to celebrate my anniversary. Shout-out to Paul - my BFF, baby daddy, life partner, and IT-guy-extraordinaire (Official Title: Husband): We've had some crazy times, and I'm glad to have shared them with you.

May 22, 2011

E-Pub Update: End of Week Three

It's been three weeks since I launched my first novel out into the world. I'm trying to figure out what I've learned in the process that will make next time go more smoothly... and also whether or not I have any words of wisdom that could make the first time less stressful for someone else. At the risk of showing how I really feel about my jumbled knowledge thus far: MEH.

First, there are the different epublishing platforms. According to recent statistics, Amazon (Kindle) currently has 58% of the e-book market, followed by Barnes & Noble (Nook) at 27% and Apple (iPad, iPhone, etc) at 9%. Note: I seriously suspect, based on nothing but personal observation, that the Nook's market share among YA readers is actually quite a bit higher - possibly equal to or even higher than Kindle. (I'm basing this on the fact that 100% of my son's friends who have an e-reader have a Nook. Yes, 100%.)

I've heard (recent writers' conference) that epub (used by practically every e-reader but Kindle) is more "stable" than mobi (used by Kindle only, as far as I know or care). Since my IT Department* handles the programming end of this whole thing, I don't completely understand that claim. However, I do understand the fact that we had far less problems, issues, and bouts of cursing at the computer and fate in general while doing the Amazon version. The Nook epub version was turned in early Thursday morning... but is still listed as Processing with the account In Review for no reason we can fathom.

Which means I've missed an entire weekend of my YA novel being available on the Nook - days after I bought a Nook (for testing purposes, I swear. Not because of the pretty color screen with the bookshelves and the applications... Ahem). The Pubit! Support site tells authors: "Your book will be available in 24-72 hours." Well, we're well past 72 hours, and... no book.

Very. Annoying.

Adding to that aggravation, here's what we've figured out on Apple: Unless you own a Mac, you can't submit to them at all. Hmm. I'd think if I only had 9% of the market share, I would try not being a jackass on for size. ALSO - at the moment, everyone I know who uses an iPad or iPhone as an e-reader uses the Kindle app to do so, which makes me wonder if Apple plans to (1) not really support the Apple e-bookstore or (2) make those Kindle e-reader apps unavailable at some point in the future.

*Again, that would be my husband, Paul

May 17, 2011

Almost Famous

Last week, I walked down to the Dean's office to drop off an emergency course sub form, and the admin asked me to sit for a moment. Then she told me that she and the Assistant Dean had looked up my book on the Amazon site. I didn't even know they knew about my book.

"Uh..." I said. "He looked at my book?" My romantic YA book, the complete opposite of the published scholarly stuff he's no doubt got all over his CV.

"You know what he's worried about, right?" she said.

"Uh..." I said. Going through my head: What? What? He's upset about my use of the f-word? He thinks I'm encouraging underage drinking, drugs and sex??

I was reaching the turn-around point of Hey! I'm not letting someone unconnected with publishing start telling me how to write at this point in my life! when she said, "He's afraid you'll get famous and quit."

"BWWAHAHAHAHAHA... Um, that's sort of unlikely, at this point. But thanks anyway."

May 10, 2011

Fluffy Stuff

As a voracious reader, I'm opinionated where books are concerned. I like a good start-with-a-bang as much as the next girl, but honestly, I prefer to be drawn in rather than hit over the head right away. Seduced, if you will, by the story. There's nothing better than when I'm reading something I think is pretty good and then at some point I have switched over to OMG this is amazing without even being aware of doing so. That moment of Wait. I'm in love. What?

I guess that's simply the type of relationship I desire with the stuff I read.

That's also how I want to write. What I produce might look a little fluffy on the surface, and I'm okay with that. Life is often fluffy (thank GOD, because don't we love it when it is!). But I like the idea of inserting little crumbs of weighty stuff for the reader to chew on while enjoying something (hopefully) fun. Decisions with delicious or disastrous consequences, moments of trust and betrayal - these are (massively important, but) tiny bits of our lives. Most of life is stuff like Do these shoes go with this outfit? and What the hell's for lunch? I'm starving. And the occasional I loooove this song or Wow that guy is too cute.

The truth is, if real life was issues-driven all the time, we'd all be jumping off of bridges or tall buildings. When a book delves into heavy and stays there, it had better be careful of the characters within sounding like whiny lil bitches.* (I'll bet you are thinking of just such a character right now.) I want my characters to say something like, "Hey, what are we wearing to the thing Friday night?" while thinking something like Why are my boyfriend and my best friend making me choose between them? (Ooooh... I may file that idea away for book five...)

*In the spirit of showing what I mean by doing it right, may I present The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I don't know how she managed the serious issues-driven stuff and pulled off hilarious at the same time. I aspire to write something like this perfect book. Until then, fluffy does it.

May 7, 2011

Not-so-Dirty Little Secret

I attended a writers' conference last year and pitched the original version of Between the Lines (which, at that time, had a dumb title I pretend not to remember now) to an agent. She asked for pages. A few weeks later, she emailed a polite rejection with some nice comments like, "I have a current client working on something extremely similar and I don't want to compete with myself," and encouraged me to try other agents.

By that time, I was knee-deep in writing the sequel. It was pouring into my head fast and furious, as though the protagonists were speaking directly to me. At some point I took a breather and reread the first (still stupidly-titled) manuscript, at which point my brain said, "This story needs Reid's POV," because I'd written the entire thing from Emma's POV. Which meant a complete overhaul to incorporate an additional POV. Yeah. Color me not thrilled.

First, I thought, Oh hell to the no, and went back to writing the second book. But the idea wouldn't let go that easily. I started waking up with Reid saying, "Come on. It'll be easy. You know me." It took a few months, but eventually I caved and rewrote the whole thing, adding his POV and deleting a lot of Emma's. I knew it was right the moment I began doing it.

This year's writing conference: I pitched the new-and-revised (and renamed) version of Between the Lines, and after submitting a few requested pages, ended up with another nice rejection -- again encouraging me to query other agents. At that point, I'd been mulling over the idea of e-publishing for a few months and had decided that barring a miracle offer of representation, I was going to do it. I want to write. I don't want to sell myself to agents, who are constantly hounded by would-be writers and bombarded by industry news on what's selling and what's not, all while trying to decipher publisher edicts of what will be hot.

The choice to become an indie author wasn't giving up. It was a choice to move forward. It's been a week since Between the Lines went live on Amazon, and though I'm anxious about the slow build, I'm pleased with everything I'm learning about self-promotion -- what I'm willing to do, and what I'm not. I'm making some good contacts and new friends, which is great for a naturally shy person like me. And best of all, I can call myself an author and mean it for the first time, with no question-marked inflection at the end.

May 4, 2011

Two Not-so-Simple Mistakes Indie Authors Shouldn't Make

I've been buying and perusing a lot of e-published books recently (both traditionally published and indie published) and scouring the reader/buyer comments. There are two things some indie authors aren't doing that will keep their books from doing as well as they'd do otherwise:

(1) EDITING the Manuscript. This means (a) Spelling/grammar errors and (b) Continuity, redundancy, and storyline errors. This is where you can tell if someone had critique partners. I don't believe your partners have to write in your genre, though I think at least one should. You should have at least two regular partners. Because you need to be prepared to return the favor on critiques and still have time to write! I have one critique partner who writes YA and one who writes fantasy/scifi.

I'll be the first to tell you that getting critiqued is not always fun, and can actually be quite painful. You have to be prepared to hear the good and the bad, to rework the manuscript if it isn't working, and to know when to to go with your own gut. If not for my critique partners, I would have mostly happy reviews from friends and family who love me, and that's not a good idea. It's like working out. No pain, no gain.

(2) FORMATTING for E-Publishing. Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc. want you to publish with them, and to that end, they'll all but say you can just throw a word doc or pdf on there and it will work. If you want it to look good, this is NOT TRUE.

I'm extremely lucky in this regard - my husband was a software programmer for years. If you compare my book's formatting to many indie epubs (and I'm sad to say - a few publishing house epubs - WTH?!?), boy can you tell. If an author goes this route and doesn't have personal programming experience or an in-house programmer, they should hire out. It HAS to look professional.

You can't use the excuse - and make no mistake, it is an excuse - that it's "only 99 cents," so it's okay to be sloppily thrown out for public consumption - minimally edited and looking like crap. NO, it's NOT.

Look at it this way: Do you want to build a readership for yourself? Because you can do a lovely job the next time around, and people won't buy it if they've been burned. The idea is to make them look for your next project, not avoid it! Right?

EDIT: In which the Karma Fairy bites me gently, but firmly, in the ass. Reading through the mobi version on my computer , I found one continuity error and one GLARING formatting screwup. Once the file is fixed, it takes up to 5 days to take effect (WTH?), so of course anyone who's already purchased it gets the screwed-up version. So, yeah. Oops. File under: I'm so human and Please don't hate me.

May 1, 2011

Between the Lines

My novel Between the Lines is finally up on! It's YA contemporary, romantic, a little edgy, and only 99 cents. If you don't have a Kindle, the nice folks at Amazon will be happy to provide a free app for your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.

The Send Sample Now button will give you 10% of the book to try. If you like it, you can easily buy it when you get to the end. If you don't, you just close it and delete it! I've started using this button for almost every book purchase I make.

Product Description:

When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always-film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he's confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels-opposite the very hot Reid Alexander-isn't going to advance that aspiration.

Graham Douglas doesn't fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he'll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid's costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance.