Tag Archives: indie publishing

#WW The 90-10 Rule for Marketing and Writing, and How To Love It.

18 May

I recently attended the 101st Annual Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference, and a lot of aspiring authors asked about how much marketing they would be expected to do. One instance in particular seemed to shock many. Janell Walden Agyerman from Marie Brown Literary Agency stated most of her authors followed the 90-10 rule. What’s the 90-10 rule? 90% marketing, 10% writing.

This is a standard many writers don’t like to hear, and it’s true all across the board. Whether you’re self-published, indie published, or traditionally published, you should prepare for the 90-10 rule.

Granted, I understand dreading marketing. I understand worrying about getting so caught up in the sales part that you forget the writing part. I understand feeling like you’re not sure what to do or how to do it.

This is why I suggest keeping a writing-marketing calendar.

What is a writing-marketing calendar? It’s a calendar ONLY used to keep track of how much marketing and writing you’re doing and why.

And today, I’m going to show everyone mine. Granted, this method is NOT for everyone, but I swear by it. My calendar keeps me organized, inspired, and motivated. I can see where I wrote, how far I’ve come, and if I need to step up my game somehow. This particularly helps me, because I work a full-time job outside of my writing. Granted, I consider my writing career my SECOND full-time job. Why?

Well, you’re about to see. But my writing-marketing calendar keeps me motivated outside of my other job. It forces me to keep going, even when I’m exhausted, even when I feel like I want to lay on the couch and watch TV, even when I don’t feel like I can go on anymore. So…here we go:

My Author Calendar

In reality, I keep a notebook, but I couldn’t take a picture of it, because I have information in there I can’t release publicly. So, to show everyone what I do, I adjusted my calendar onto the iCalendar. This is my real-life events for April of 2016. That being said, this is the BASICS. For instance, I wrote down when I wrote articles on this calendar, but I didn’t take note of when they were posted or how many comments and interaction I had to do. Why? Well, I always post on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and I record social media stats every first of the month. So that’s an entirely different file I keep. (Can you tell I’m a file person?) Writing is business. Staying organized is key…and below, you can read my calendar key.

If you want a calendar key:

Red is physical work: moving offices, book swaps, shipping, shopping for desks, organizing my stock piles of books, letters, stamps, etc.

Orange is my website only: writing articles, updating links, etc.

Green is meetings: This is the stuff I have to censor. It includes discussions with my publisher, with fellow authors, with bookstores, and other business professionals. I kept some details in there, like my attendance to the Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference and prepping the first pages for said conference, but it’s too complicated to fit and/or get into. This would be where you’re calling bookstores for signings or a beta reader for progress and suggestions.

Purple is marketing: This includes my Twitter series #AuthorinaCoffeeShop, and shopping around for stock photos and creating teasers and book trailers. I include formatting here, since it was visual, but this is mainly where I work on my overall marketing plan for upcoming releases. That being said, this is BY FAR all that I do. I post on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. almost every single day, and I don’t include any of that, because it’s a give-in.

Only blue is my writing…if I got to write that day. You’ll probably notice I don’t write in novels every day, but hey, I went from 27,457 words to 76,617 in one month. I was pretty happy with that. You might notice I have different books, too (S and D). I also include research and editing under this. I probably won’t record any writings I do “for fun.” This is strictly for books heading toward a publication path.

Again, this is everything I do OUTSIDE of my full-time job. You might notice that I’m missing this lovely thing called weekends. Out of thirty days, I either took two days off or I was too exhausted that I didn’t write my days down. It’s honestly hard to say, but if I had to guess, it’s probably the latter. I try to do something every day, no matter what, even if only for an hour.

I highly believe in keeping track of your progress for organizational purposes as well as motivational ones. For instance, if I see I’ve been marketing a lot but not writing a thing, I know I can give myself a day to step away and get some words down, and visa versa. Some might be discouraged by this, but I suggest trying it out for one month before you decide. You might be surprised by how much more you get done or how nice it is to see a physical representation of all of your hard work. I don’t know about you all, but since almost everything is on a computer, I sometimes walk away feeling like I did nothing all day. This helps me see that I, in fact, accomplished a lot. It helps me feel proud. It helps me feel like I’m moving forward and working as hard as I can for a better future for both myself and my readers.

I live the 90-10 rule, but I don’t FEEL like I live to 90-10 rule. I feel like I live the 100 rule. 100% focus, work, and dedication to the thing I love most: writing. And now, after I record this article in my writing-marketing calendar, I’m going to sit down to do just that. Write another chapter.

~SAT

instaThe news is out! Come see me at the Barnes & Noble in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, KS on Saturday, June 11 from 1-3 PM for a book signing and author panel. More info on my Events page.

Did you see this week’s #TeaserTuesday? If not, check out my right side panel. You can also pre-order BOTH Bad Bloods books. A newsletter will go out later this month with more details and prizes, so I hope you’ll sign up for your chance to win.

There’s also a FREE Bad Bloods Prequel releasing on Wattpad, and you can now read Adam’s origin story as well as Michele’s. On top of that, Maggie’s story will release THIS Friday! I hope you’re enjoying it! Don’t forget to pre-order your Bad Bloods books while they’re on sale for a limited time. 😉

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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#MondayBlogs: My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined

9 Nov

Intro:

While many claim there is one publishing formula, there are hundreds, and the more writers you meet, the more variations of publishing journeys you hear. I find them fascinating, and I’m always eager to hear another’s story. Today’s writer is sharing his. Welcome author Shane Joseph.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph

Our times are generating many more writers than demand can bear. This is due to better education, improved health, technology, inflated egos in an age of “me first,” and due to our eternal quest for immortality. The ambition to be a writer usually begins in our formative years and is inspired by our favourite writers. As a teenager, I was greatly influenced by Greene, Steinbeck and Hemingway; I dreamt of sending manuscripts out into the world where they would become best-sellers and make me a reclusive millionaire. I would hide out in some remote island and submit more manuscripts and continue to dazzle the world with my brilliance until I was invited to a cold capital in Europe to accept the Nobel Prize. And I would refuse that honour, making me an enigmatic figure like Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak or J.D. Salinger. It was nice to dream!

The reality, even back then, was different. I had chosen to gloss over the private demons my literary heroes had to overcome in order to achieve their fame: dual lives, alcoholism, drug addiction, persecution, shell-shock (called PTSD today), hypertension, depression, divorce, estrangement, chronic pain, and suicide staring out of the barrel of a gun. Not forgetting the early struggles with rejection and penury that they each triumphed over. These trials gave impetus to their work and are mentioned only in discreet biographies, not on the glossy covers of their books.

My writer’s story turned out differently to my idealized dream. For instance, I didn’t imagine that after hacking away at this craft in my early twenties in a developing country where English was a second language, and after having a handful of stories published, I would pack up my authorly tools and try something easier to earn a living – Greene, Steinbeck et al, be damned! I never realized that the “other living,” at a corporate job, would come so easily, and earn such a handsome income, that I wouldn’t bother with the writing game again for another twenty years. I didn’t realize that it would be the curse of “guilt” that would bring me back to reopen the dusty toolbox and start to catch up to where the literary world had evolved in the intervening years.

Once “Take Two” started however, the stories and novels came easily, and are likely to continue into the future, health permitting. It was like a dam had burst and all that had been stored for years came gushing out. But the publishing landscape had changed, drastically. Prizes sold books now. And the prize money was cornered among the “1% of the 1%” in the literary hierarchy. There was no middle class in publishing anymore – there was a huge gulf between the self-published and the best-seller, and the only way to bridge the two was with a stroke of luck.

But with every closing door there were others opening. There were now many ways in which to be published, I discovered, thanks to evolving technology that had finally demolished the dominant publishing model of eons, which was: publish a large quantity of paper books on ancient printing presses until unit costs become affordable, ship them across the land in trucks into stores that couldn’t keep track of them, receive most of them back after awhile to be shredded, then start the cycle again, and hope like hell that governments or private donors supported this inefficiency in the interest of promoting the arts. That was the model in which my heroes had thrived, and now it was dying, supplanted by DIY publishing, POD, electronic media, subscriptions services, free story sites, social media, and blogs like the one you are reading. And my heroes were dead too.

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

I enthusiastically tried all the models available, traditional and new, and discovered that they all had their pros and cons, but as their readerships’ were distinct, this lack of homogeneity helped plaster me all over the map, assuaging my guilt for having neglected “the gift.” There was also no way I could hide out in a remote island, I realized; I had to be front and centre in the global public domain (a.k.a. the Internet, which also never existed during the time of my literary heroes) selling my wares like a shoe salesman. I even started a publishing house, using the new technology, and have helped bring other writers into print, ones who may have been sitting for years in the slush piles of the Big Five (or is it Four, now – hard to keep track!). The joy of bringing others’ work into the world, to watch them stand on the podium reading from their debut novel at their book’s launch gives me immense satisfaction. I was doing my bit to restore the middle class in publishing. And I finally faced the darker side: the rejection, the shrunken revenue streams, the even further shrunken attention spans, and the need for that other source of income to fuel this one. None of this had been part of my teenage dream.

And so I have accepted that my writer’s story is different from the one I had visualized in my youth. Creative visualizers, take note: it doesn’t always turn out the way you paint it in your mind. But it can be a damned sight more interesting and surprising. Why go on a trip where every stopover is carefully laid out, predictable and boring? Where would the thrill of the unexpected lie? Isn’t that what we try to create in our work – the unexpected?

So Dear Reader, what was your writer’s dream, and how did it pan out?

Bio:

(Shane Joseph is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories, and was the winner of the best fantasy novel award at the Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. His latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador, will be released in November 2015. For details visit www.shanejoseph.com

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday The Sting of #BookRelease Day

5 Sep

Release days are like bees. (How’s that simile?) If you’re like me, you both hate and love bees…and I’m unusually (and pathetically) terrified of them…even though I’ve only been stung once…and even then, I hated them long before one stung me at a bus stop while I was innocently sitting, doing nothing to deserve the pain of a sting. (I promise.) But, despite all of this, bees are necessary. They are BEYOND necessary. Watch one, tiny documentary on them and you’ll know that. Reading The Secret Life of Bees helps the phobia too…not to mention getting a giant stuffed animal bee at the age of seven that you named Whassup-B when it was cool. Yay! The 90’s!

::bangs head against desk::

I cannot, for the life of me, get over my fear of bees, and much like my phobia of the little stingers, I cannot overcome the emotions of book release day. On one hand, I should bee excited—(See what I did there? See?)—on another, I’m petrified it’ll sting me. Sting me with what? I have yet to figure that out. A book release has, in fact, never stung me. I don’t even KNOW what I mean by that. How silly am I? I only know that there is a fear (a phobia) that doesn’t make much sense, and yet, I keep facing it over and over again, year after year.

Shannon wrote this while sitting outside and a bee scared the crap out of her.

Shannon wrote this while sitting outside and a bee scared the crap out of her.

What exactly am I afraid of?

I’ve written about this quite a few times on here, and have yet to get the answer I’m looking for. I think that’s because there are more than a couple of answers that would suffice. Originally, for instance, I used to think that it came down to sales, but then, I realized it didn’t. Not at all. Having just one reader is enough for me. (But having hundreds is great too. :P) I moved on from sales, thinking it must be something else, and went to book reviews, but realized a similar thing. Book reviews aren’t even for me; they are for the readers. So, I moved on to future contracts…and knew it wasn’t that because I’ve been okay thus far, but this did get me thinking about the future in a new way.

Maybe it comes down to not knowing where the next step will lead you. Maybe it comes down to a moment that you know your adventure has ended and now you must take a new one. Maybe it comes down to letting go of the past and moving forward into the future.

A book release is a new adventure for the reader, but it’s the moment of letting go of that adventure for the author.

It’s a very contradicting feeling, one I have yet to fully grasp, but then again, I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s complicated, and messy, and scary, and all-around lovely.

I think I’m ready for all the adventures to come.

Even if they sting,

~SAT

Death Before Daylight releases in 10 days! You can pre-order the last book of The Timely Death Trilogy on  AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, and basically everywhere books are sold. If you want to be a part of the release day, you can sign up for a release day blast by clicking hereI will also be sending out an opportunity to win prizes by helping via my newsletter.

That being said, some big things are happening, and I can’t wait to tell you all about them, but until then, check out the first book in the trilogy. Minutes Before Sunset is free! (AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks.) The sequel is out too. In fact, we’ll be celebrating the sequel, Seconds Before Sunrise, September 7-18 during the blog tour.

That’s all for now. 😉 More to come soon!

10tens

#BookRelease Seconds Before Sunrise Evolution Day!

25 Aug

Holy Dark! We are here! Book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, releases today. (And the last book releases in two weeks!) Before I tell you to check out the sequel here—Okay. Fine. Here’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble—I wanted to tell you a little about my journey up until this point.

You know. Because Pokemon.

You know. Because Pokemon.

Back in 2007, when I started my publishing journey, I left the market almost as quickly as I got into it. I was 16, off to college within the year, and a little overwhelmed with everything. That being said, I never stopped writing, so the first cover you see above was one I included on PDF files I sent to my readers that stayed with me, even though I told them I wasn’t returning. To me, I very much pursued publishing because of my mother’s death. I knew I wanted to be a writer, and that moment broke me. It made me get serious. But I ultimately left because it was too much, I wasn’t ready, and I didn’t find myself facing publication again until my college roommate’s death in 2012. I was 21—and so was she—and we had taken a poetry course together. Upon her sudden passing, I was featured in a poetry collection, and the day we read it at an event, I opened the print up to see the group had dedicated it to her memory. I still cannot breathe when I think of the moment, and I think of Kristine often. I think of so many people often, and the amount of loved ones in my life who have affected me—as a person and as a writer—is breathtaking. I dedicated the first novel of The Timely Death Trilogy to both my college roommates at the time, Megan and Kristine, and back then, only three years ago, I was simply going to release it by myself to show how much someone can change your life. I never expected to be contacted by a publisher back in 2012, and I never expected that same publisher would close two years later. I thought my journey was over. But then you all came in—my readers—and you all found me my new home, Clean Teen Publishing, and my journey has continued ever since. I am at home, and I am happy, and for once, that happiness is what steals my breath away.

Today, I am reminded of all of the lovely souls that have touched my life, influenced my work, and encouraged me to push forward, and today, I thank you from the bottom of my writer’s heart. (I say that a lot, and that’s because I mean it. Deeply.)

Without you, my journey might have ended. Because of you, it marches on into the Dark. The Dark lives on. I especially want to thank the blogs helping me today (the bold one won a swag pack from me for helping!): Legends of Windemere, Crazy Beautiful, Endless Reading, Just Amy, Chris Pavesic, Macy Loves Stories, Books for Thought, The Book Forums, Gnome on Pig Productions, Mel’s Shelves, and A Reader’s Review.

I hope you’re having as much fun as I’m having. Either way, I’m grateful.

Love to all,

~SAT

Now…for some book nerd information:

Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”
Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.
Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

All three!

All three!

If you haven’t checked out the first novel, Minutes Before Sunset, don’t worry! I have you covered: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads. And, remember, you don’t have to wait a year for the last book! It releases in TWO weeks. Two weeks. (Double Holy Dark!) I cannot fathom it.

Happy reading!

Stay Dark,

~SAT

When to Stop Writing

26 Oct

When to Stop Writing

This post is inspired by a comment that happened on my Facebook Author Page recently. The other day, writer – Angie Neto – asked me a fantastic question I’m sure all writers can relate to:

“Were you nervous when you published your first novel? I have edited, rewritten and changed chapters so many times now and still doing last minute searches for errors. When do you say enough?”

My Facebook answer:

“I still get nervous. I think that’s natural. You’re working hard to share your intellectual creation. It’s nerve-racking, knowing you will be judged off of it, but it’s well worth it. But I do think – at some point – you have to step away and have beta readers and editors deal with it, and eventually, you have to turn the manuscript in, and one day, you have to know you can’t change anything anymore (even though you’ll be dying to!)”

Special shout out to Angie Neto! Because of this conversation, I wanted to expand on this topic. That being said, I believe writing is always unique to the writer. Hemingway liked to drink while writing. I couldn’t write drunk if I wanted to. But I have been found writing in a dark closet before. (Don’t ask.) So I want to take a moment to share three times that I stop writing.

1. When I’ve spent WAY too much time editing and re-editing and re-editing

I’m only starting with this one because that was the main reason of writing this post. Editing is vital. Don’t get me wrong. But it can also be destructive, and I know this because I’ve been there before. I’ve hauled myself page over page over page over year over year – only to realize I’ve been editing this manuscript to death. At this point, I’ve basically butchered the entire manuscript because I’ve sliced my confidence apart a million times. What I mean to say…well, let me describe a sad recollection of events: Shannon writes book, Shannon edits book halfway through, Shannon decides to rewrite the entire script, Shannon edits that book, Shannon edits it again, Shannon edits again, Shannon still finds the wrong “you’re” in a sentence, and Shannon breaks down about how awful of a writer she could be to miss such an editing mistake five times in a row, and now Shannon believes the entire manuscript is this way, so she deletes it and starts over…Do not – and I repeat – DO NOT do this to yourself. Edit it as many times as you want to, but always remember that other editors are out there for a reason. Let them assess it. Let them help you. Breathe. Put down the red pen. It will be okay. If we don’t learn when to stop editing, we will – literally – never stop editing. A manuscript is like a person. It will never be perfect. The imperfections give it character. (Just don’t give it too much character if you know what I mean.)

notestop

 2. When I’m physically ill

Sadly, I do not mean that I have the flu. I can admit that I – in fact – have found a pen in my hand when I was bedridden. Safe? Healthy? Probably not. But I’m a writing addict. That being said, I don’t actually mean to say the flu is the problem. The problem is when I CAUSE the flu to happen in the first place because I’ve stressed myself out so much over writing that I stop taking care of myself and – in turn – I get ill. Stress ill. Headaches and body pains from sitting at my desk for too long ill. Don’t do that to yourself. In this case, strain is not gain. Strain is sickness that will only put you behind schedule even more, and it will only cause more pain.

 3.  When I start losing my love for writing

I never lose my love for writing – not entirely anyway. But I do have days where I step back, and I realize that I am struggling. In fact, I can confess that I went through this yesterday. I’ve been so focused on the edits of Death Before Daylight that I have forgotten to give myself time to write in a current novel I am very much emotionally involved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m involved in Death Before Daylight as well. Very involved. But working on something new is quite the refreshing energy boost that I need to keep powering through edits of a novel. Although I love editing, working on the same project for long periods of time can be draining, especially since I’m more focused on the publishing side of things rather than the writing side of things, so I have to return to the “just writing to write” part of me often because that part of me is the most important in terms of enjoying my writing. I only have to remind myself of that.

In the end, you might have noticed that I don’t necessarily “stop” writing. I simply change my focus of writing or a take a moment to step back in order to relax. In fact, I was very serious when I said I’m going through the last one right now. Between my car and my laptop breaking down this week, my stress level peaked (and not in a good way at all). Writing is my coping mechanism, but working on edits was the last thing I needed. I had to shelve Death Before Daylight, and I had to do what I wanted to do the most desperately, so I worked on a new novel I’ve referred to before on here as TGO, and I felt much better afterward – almost like I learned to breathe again, and in all honesty, I might have to do this again next week. I’m still not sure I’m over it. All that matters is getting back on my feet again one way or another.

Do you have any times that you stop writing?

Feel free to share below! It’s also that time again – expect Website Wonders and October’s Ketchup to be posting soon.

~SAT

Why Are Authors “Hating” On One Another?

21 Sep

Website Update: We hit 9,000 followers on the 19th! That means a HUGE giveaway is coming soon. If you’d like your book to be a part of it, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. Other than that, THANK YOU for all of your dedicated support and heartfelt encouragement. 

There are many authors and writers out there, sharing their works with the world, whether it be through books, blogging, or another form of communication. But I’ve come across many who astound me—and these people are preaching hate at one another. This post is my attempt to bring light to why this needs to stop.

Although there are many kinds of publishing, I’m focusing on the three main ones I often see verbally assaulted. 

  1. Traditional
  2. Small Press
  3. Self-Publishing

Unfortunately, I’ve seen hate from all sides, and I’m sure most authors have. 

I’ve seen hate from traditionally published authors, generally saying anyone else is not “good enough” for bigger publishers. Ironically, a lot of these authors have admitted to previously knowing someone in the industry. Even worse, they don’t seem to consider many authors aren’t comfortable with traditional publishing houses monopolizing the market. I’ve seen hate from small press published authors, saying almost the exact same thing about self-published authors. But I also see hate from self-published authors, saying they don’t like traditional publishing houses for the reasons above but also hating on small-press published authors, because they aren’t “capable” at marketing themselves and, therefore, have to rely on someone else by means of payment.

This is ridiculous, and it needs to stop now.

It seems to me that many of these authors have forgotten why we’re all authors in the first place (and, YES, we are ALL authors.) We share the same love of expressing ourselves through words. We love writing, whether it stems from fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or something else entirely. We love words. So why do some use their words to preach words of hate about others who love the same thing?

The most honest explanation I can come up with is insecurity (although I want to clarify that this isn’t the only reason I’ve seen.) Either way, who cares how another author is sharing and publishing their works? Just be happy that they are living their dream and/or chasing after it. Support their decision to bravely share their works of art with the world. It is not your responsibility to decide who is “ready” or “good enough.” Let the reader decide, because, after all, they are the people who are reading our works. You don’t have to support every author out there, but you shouldn’t put down every author out there that isn’t like you. It’s the basic rule to respecting others. You may not respect their work, but you should respect the fact that they are a human being, working hard to follow their dreams—just as you are, no matter what kind of publishing you are in.

 … 

Some comments from my Author Facebook page about this topic:

Scott Collins: Anyone willing to spend that much time and energy to put their book to paper deserves support and encouragement.

Nicole Castro: This is why I use the #writingfamily hashtag on Twitter.

Quinten Rhea: Part of our job is to encourage, support, and help promote each other.

Kyle Garret:  I think the book market is perceived as so crowded, especially these days with ebook “shelves” constantly getting more full and fewer lucrative traditional deals going out, that it naturally conditions authors to turn on each other because there’s this perceived idea that only one can “make it”. I don’t agree with it – and think it’s downright odd given how people in similar markets like music, gaming or film treat each other – but it’s my take.

Feel free to discuss your opinion and/or your experiences below, especially if it includes ways we, as a writing community, can prevent this “hate” from continuing any further.

~SAT

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