Indie or Trad Publishing? The debate goes on…

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

I had to learn the hard way about indie publishing and traditional publishing. I had to learn about book covers and editing and a lot of other stuff as I learned about indie publishing, but somehow I muddled through. I also had a bad experience with an agent, and have read enough horror stories by traditionally published authors to almost never want one.

My friends and I still query, though, because

  1. Why not?
  2. Self pub means having to master a LOT of stuff that’s not all easy, namely promotions
  3. Doing promotions kinda sucks
  4. Doing ads can spend a lot and not make anything back – ask anyone or almost everyone
  5. The pretense that others like agents and publishers may know more – too many articles indicate otherwise, but still

I had a guy, a friend of a friend, who wanted to rep me and we started down that path. It was going to take, like, 18 months OR MORE to put out a book that was ready to go, so (after 3 months of dicking around with him and nothing AT ALL happening) I eventually said I think I’ll pass, apologized to the friend – and put out 6 titles in the time it’d have taken that guy to do one.

I’m impatient.

I got a #1 bestseller in those 18 months, too. Oh wait, no- I got two.

Look at what's best for you. It's not one-size-fits-all!
Look at what’s best for you. It’s not one-size-fits-all!

There are pros and cons to both routes, so I still look to diversify, but I’m still impatient. I shop my next book to agents for a while and if there are no bites, off it goes to indieland where it’ll do very well. (And they’ll miss out again.)

My friend has a book selling very well that she published as an indie, while her other book has languished – you won’t believe this – for TWO YEARS with a publisher.

Two years! And it’s still not out! While her other book is kicking ass!

Pardon my French, but that’s just fucking stupid. Her indie book sells more copies IN A DAY than many authors sell in a month! Capitalize on that success = easier job for everyone. Duh! Business 101.

You will read stuff like that all the time. There are plenty of articles by traditionally published authors telling you how bad it is, but there are benefits, too. Many trad authors also self pub now. It’s a growing trend. Other BIG TIME authors quit the trad route completely and never looked back.

I will be shopping this romantic comedy soon.
I will be shopping this romantic comedy soon.

So I can go either way with traditional publishing or independent publishing, but being able to do it myself gives me leverage. I get to keep most of my money (instead of the publisher keeping most of it) and I have learned a few things that keep me from being taken advantage of. I’m not desperate. That’s a big advantage.

Self-publishing is a great experience that will give you an amazing education that you don’t pay for and may make money from, but it will also show you reasons why you don’t want to do it. That can help you be a better client for an agent and publisher.

What has been YOUR experience, actual or what you’ve read, and who have you seen as a good example of each?

SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! Amuse and delight your friends! See that “F” and “T” button down below? Click them. Put on your glasses. There they are.

ReBlogging – What’s That All About?

There's even MORE shit I have to do?
There’s even MORE shit I have to do?

While you are building (or expanding) your platform, it’s a great time to polish, edit and add or delete whatever you want added to or deleted from your book. Plus, a lot of the time we have to make choices about what the blurb will say and what the cover needs to look like. Bouncing that stuff off a bunch of Facebook author page friends or Twitter followers or Blog subscribers is a great way to see what the feedback is – and spend no money to find out.

Part of the way you increase your base is by adding people as followers on Twitter, Facebook, and your blog, or whatever other social media you like doing. Most of you have blogs, so let’s focus there.

That's how it feels, yeah.
That’s how it feels, yeah.

Look what happened when I posted and tweeted about my friend recently, and then reblogged one of her posts the next day. Many followers and subscribers came on board. Imagine 20 people doing that over the next few months. Booyah! Big numbers!

Now, if that was easy…

But it’s only as hard as finding them and asking them (and maybe becoming friends for a while first). There are lots of people who have a crazy amount of followers – which is a few hundred more than you, however many you have.

I have an artist friend with 1250 followers to her blog, a good amount. But if she has a personality like yours, and if you were to become friends with her, she might post and tweet and reblog your stuff sometime, like oh, say when your book comes out. Or she might not. I have never asked her to reblog anything, and she may protect the heck out of her brand, who knows. But I’m not the only person with a blog and neither is she.

I can make friends...
I can make friends…

As you make friends with writers and bloggers, you might ask if you can reblog something of theirs, like I did for my friend. Or just do it. Merry Christmas! Look what happened! Many of my followers became your followers, too!

And when they repay the favor, or even if they just thank you, their people see your stuff and some come over.

Your mom was right. Sharing is awesome.

That is what’s in in for other people who would reblog your stuff. It’s a sales thing: show them what’s in it for THEM.

Then what happened? My friend was invigorated! That’s a nice thing, too.

Interact? With People?
Interact? With People?

This reblog stuff works. A LOT. I don’t do it much cos I never had anybody who wanted to reblog my stuff. Oh, wait, why didn’t I reblog their stuff? I don’t know. Didn’t think of it. And the people who would’ve said yes were teeny tiny. Nobody wanted to reblog me… probably.

What the hell did I know? Everybody needs content or wants a day off at times. Or wants a bunch of new followers with almost no effort on their part.

I did a post on race a while back, and a few people reblogged it. I had NO idea what would happen. (Not about the race thing, about the reblog thing.) BOOM, did my follower count jump. And when people stopped in to read that, they said hey, this guy is smart and funny. What else does he talk about that’s interesting and relevant to me? Click, click, click… subscribe.

And maybe they become a reblog opportunity later. Because they obviously have great taste and so would their followers.

My blog is centered around helping others put books out, but that means helping cookbook people and photographers and poets as well as authors. So in a way, everything is relevant. I can reblog anything. Or be reblogged by almost anyone. Which means I can help and be helped by almost anybody.

Which should help a LOT when it’s time to roll out another book – mine or theirs.

.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See that “F” and “T” buttons down below? Click them. Put on your glasses. There they are.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE .

I’m So Lazy: Instagram 101 For Twitter Addicts

I'm too busy for all this social media!
I’m too busy for all this social media!

What I do with Instagram is completely lazy and I absolutely don’t recommend it. Stop reading here if you’re a big Instagram person. You’ll be appalled by my lethargy.

I take the highest rated tweet from the day before (tweets are from Twitter, for the unSM-ed of you out there; SM  = Social Media) and send it to insta, plus whatever interesting pictures happen to occur in front of me on occasion.

(BTW = by the way. Am I going too fast?)

That’s it.

I said it was lazy.

Me, when it comes to learning new social media. Ask Allison. I'm a dinosaur.
Me, when it comes to learning new social media. Ask Allison. I’m a dinosaur.

It takes about 60 seconds a day. I post pictures on insta (I’m not capitalizing it and I’m not spelling out INSTAGRAM every freaking time; I’m lazy) just for the heck of it, to show followers I’m not a robot (like anybody could follow me for more than 10 minutes and still think that).

We saw dolphins in the Keys. Click with the phone, 60 seconds later it’s on Twitter and FB and insta – what could be easier? (And faster, because my wife was tapping her toe the whole time. Are you on your phone again???)

Hopefully, it’s different pics on each social media site, but with something human interest-y like that, it may not matter. So if you follow me on Twitter you’re getting slightly different stuff than if you also follow me on FB, but if you ONLY follow me on one, you’re seeing interesting stuff from me. And there are people who only use one type of social media. Honest.

Come on, tell me that isn't awesome.
Come on, tell me that isn’t awesome. Totally Insta-worthy.

Right now, Instagram is SO EASY to use, it’s hard not to do it all the time. But I think I only follow maybe 200 people over there and have around 100 followers me; I don’t do a lot of insta and I want it to grow like my FB author page – organically from readers who don’t want tons of variation in the content. On my FB author site, you’ll get whatever posts on this blog, and not much else – until I have a book or interview coming out. Fans will know to go there for it, so I don’t inundate blog readers with too many ads. (Oh, you’ll get some, don’t worry.) I created so many different sites (Savvy Stories, The Navigators, Laguna The Lonely Mermaid, 35 Great Recipes, the marketing series site) that I may have over diversified my audience, but I thought my cookbook readers wanted different things from me than my romance readers, so I stand by my decision. Kinda.

Here’s the nitty gritty. (That means something different here in the States, Jenny)

This kind of stuff.
This kind of stuff.

Each morning I see what my top rated tweet was from the day before – highest RTs, favorites, etc. That’s on your stats page. (If you don’t know how to access that, tell me below in a comment. If enough of you need help, I’ll blog about it.)

Then I copy-paste the tweet information WITH THE HASHTAGS and put it in an email to my cell phone. Then I attach the image (insta uses images), usually an inspirational quote, and send it.

From the phone, I save the image and copy the verbiage, then post it in Instagram. This way, insta followers are only getting the best, really motivational, really popular quotes and a short message from me (and my blog link); they can click over and follow the read the blog from there if they want.

Then, like I said, I post pictures occasionally, to show I’m not a robot.

Also awesome - and caused the "BlackFish" crowd to go bananas, which skyrocketd my Twitter feed. Oops. Bwahahaha!
Also awesome – and caused the “BlackFish” crowd to go bananas, which skyrocketd my Twitter feed. Oops. Bwahahaha!

It reads like a lot of steps. It isn’t. It’s actually a little lazy (I said it was!), but it gives me a simple presence. I hate the thought of somebody being only on a certain social media venue and them not being able to find me – almost as much as I hate the idea of being a slave to 50 SM’s.

This method is designed to be FAST and EASY for me while delivering WORTHWHILE content to mainly insta-only followers. That’s a good deal. And they get something every day, pretty much, plus some exclusive stuff on occasion. That shows the the personal side of you, always interesting to fans.

My current target market is largely on Facebook and Twitter, respectively (my demographic for the Savvy Stories book series, for example, was women 35-55 with children), and my upcoming YA book won’t reach a YA audience that way, so we’ll switch gears around that time. More insta and SnapChat for that group. Or, I’m OCD and it’ll be my next obsession. And if I was smart, I’d start building that platform well in advance of needing it. (I’ll have to ask my nieces where all the cool kids hang out over there.)

Okay, if you want me to follow you on Instagram, REPLY BELOW with your insta handle. I’ll try to follow everybody this weekend.

 

What’s YOUR method for using Instagram or your favorite social media?

5 Rules For Chapter One Of Your Book

I... must... read... more!
I… must… read… more!

1. Start the story as late as possible

2. Have a grabber opening

3. Make the reader care, usually via the MC

4. What are the stakes? What can be gained or lost?

5. End with a cliffhanger so we go to chapter 2

Need more info? Let’s read on then, shall we?

(Learn more about writing better stories HERE)

.

I'm already 45 minutes overdue!
I’m already 45 minutes overdue!

Start the story as late as possible

Most authors bury the really interesting stuff a few paragraphs in, or worse, in chapter two or three. What’s the first interesting thing that happens in your story? Start there.

(Learn about tightening your story HERE)

.

Have a grabber opening

Holy cow, am I intrigued by this prose!
Holy cow, am I intrigued by this prose!

I like a “grabber” opening to a story and especially the opening chapter. Stories that hook a reader right away and keep the reader turning pages are stories that get read – and will receive comments like “I couldn’t put it down.” Of course, that’s not always possible, but do your best. Like I said, most authors bury the really interesting stuff a few paragraphs in. At least don’t do that.

(Learn about breaking down you epic saga HERE)

.

Awww...
Awww…

Make the reader care, usually via the MC

Because if readers don’t care… they don’t care. Do you intentionally do stuff – voluntarily – that you don’t want to do? Reading your book is not a job requirement. It’s supposed to be fun, a diversion.

.

.

Poggi cover FINAL
Click image to read two sample chapters.

What are the stakes? What can be gained or lost?

We know a story’s supposed to have conflict. A story were nothing bad happens is a DULL story, as in, nobody’s reading it. Put your character up a tree and throw rocks at them. Tension. Conflict. All that good stuff. But it starts in chapter 1 by letting the reader know what is at risk. You have sample chapters of Poggibonsi available on this website. Go read chapter one and tell me what’s at stake. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

.

.

In a story, conflict is good.
In a story, conflict is good. Cliffhangers are better!

End chapter ONE with a cliffhanger so we go to chapter TWO

Just about anything can be a cliffhanger of you do it right. Ask a question in chapter one that we have to go to chapter two to find the answer. Which we won’t do if we don’t care. Of course, that’s not always possible, but most authors should usually end their chapter a few lines or paragraphs before they actually end it. Instead, we resolve a question on OUR mind, and we stop – big mistake. Leave it for chapter two to resolve it, and readers have to read on.

(Find your story’s voice HERE)

There are more, but this is good to get started. And chapter ONE’s job is NOT to do everything!

What do YOU try to do in your first chapter?

.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Send it as a comment to any post or hit the Contact Me button and, you know, contact me. I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends, too.)

FOLLOW ME! I’m this helpful and funny all the time. Probably. Don’t miss another valuable bauble that falls from my fingertips. You read this far; you may actually need this stuff. SUBSCRIBE/FOLLOW TODAY (click the follow “Follow” button, above) and if you send me your email through the Contact Me button I’ll send you a free copy of my amazingly cute book “The Short Years” plus we’ll probably become friends and start hanging out and stuff.

If you benefit from this blog, share it with your friends!

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure” – yeah, we know. We tried to convince him to change that title. He’s sticking with it. Check out his other works HERE  and check back often for interesting stuff.

8 (Eye Opening) Tips For Bloggers From One Who Knows

I always like it when a more experienced person steps up to share their thoughts – good or bad – on a topics you guys are interested in. Lots of authors want a platform to connect with fans, or because they think they are supposed to blog, or whatever. Here, a veteran sheds some light on the facts of their experience. I think you’ll enjoy it. I did.

Diane Holcomb blogged about it after reading the original post by Nina Badzin. Be sure to check ot BOTH blogs by these smart ladies. – Dan

.

-from the terrific blogs Squirrels In The Doohickey by Diane Holcomb and also Nina Badzin’s self titled blog.

doohickey nina badzin

I’m a sucker for reading blogging tips, because:

1. They distract me from blogging.

2. They distract me from blogging while educating me on how to make the process easier or more efficient or somehow better for me and the reader and quite possibly the aliens who excavate this blog in the year 5000.

So when I peeled back the writing curtain of a fellow scribe and discovered Nina Badzin’s post from 2011 titled Blogging Tips: What I Know Now, I eagerly read it.

Here, paraphrased, is what this now-seasoned blogger thought she knew about blogging when she started out, versus what she discovered a year later.

#1. She thought she needed a cute or catchy blog name, and now knows: “You don’t.”

Uh-oh. I’ve got the cute or catchy blog name. But I must admit, I love forcing people to say “squirrels in the doohickey” aloud, especially the folks in technical services when something goes amuck on my server. However, I don’t like having to spell “doohickey,” so she might have a point.

#2. She thought family and friends would read her blog, and now knows: “They mostly don’t.”

Boy, is that the truth! Other than my aunt, it appears my family and friends have better things to do than read about the nutty stuff I do when confronted with the stuff that drives me nutty. Which, come to think of it, makes it fair game to blog about them regularly.

#3. She thought the blog would suck up every minute of writing time, but now knows: “It doesn’t.”

What!? How is this possible? Well, according to Nina, she posts once a week so she can spend the rest of the week on fiction. I noticed she’s also an advice columnist and contributing writer and essayist and WAIT A MINUTE…how does she find time for all that writing!? I post once a week too, but by the time I’ve drafted a piece in my head, typed it up, revised it fifty times, and realized the revisions are worse than the original draft, I’ve blown a good five hours. I need a time management plan. But who’s got the time?

#4. She thought her readers would return to her blog to see her response to their comments, but now knows: “Most do not.”

Since my aunt is the only person leaving a comment, I don’t have this problem. Okay, I’m lying. More people than my aunt leave comments. Three. Okay, I’m downplaying the truth here. There’s five. And two of them are friends, so I lied about that, too, and while I’m coming clean, my pops reads my blog, and comments via telephone. But I digress.

While I’m digressing…

I usually get somewhere between 1 and 70 hits on my blog per day. And then, on Friday, August 21, 2015, I had 928. That’s nine hundred and twenty-eight hits! Was this spam? Was this some underpaid computer genius in the Ukraine wasting company time? Or was this one of those five commenters checking back to see if I’d responded to their comments? No, these visitors came from Facebook. I’m not even on Facebook. But someone who is on Facebook and has a ton of followers (or a ton of aunts) ,“liked” my post (the one about introverts wanting to avoid becoming party poopers), and 450 more introverted Facebookers “liked” it, and the whole thing snowballed. And continues to snowball! Now, before you tell me this is a Facebook glitch: don’t. Let me bask in the delusion that 928 people other than my aunt actually read my work on Friday, August 21, 2015. And if you, dear reader, are the fairy godperson who initially started this snowball effect, please announce yourself so I can send you a lifetime supply of gratitude.

But did any of those 928 people leave comments?

Uh…no.

#5. She thought she would be the kind of blogger who offered giveaways, displayed badges, sought ads, etc., but now knows: “I’m not.”

READ THE REST AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

http://squirrelsinthedoohickey.com/8-tips-for-bloggers-from-one-who-knows/

– “8 Tips For Bloggers From One Who Knows” from the terrific blog Squirrels In The Doohickey by Diane Holcomb

and Nina Badzin’s original post on her blog

http://ninabadzin.com/2011/05/16/blogging-tips-what-i-know-now/

.

And folks, this is what’s great about technology today. We can have an amazing person like Nina Badzin check in and help us out. She is a freelance writer, an advice columnist at The HerStories Project, and a contributing writer for Kveller.com and Great New Books; her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, and have been syndicated in Jewish newspapers across the country. She is also a co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio.

And she still found time to pop in to say “Hi” to us here (see below)! Thanks, Nina!

.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

This Is THAT Month

capote
That might be a little excessive.

When you are all finished with your manuscript, and you’ve run it through your critique partners, there is a big temptation to tinker with it. To have one more once-over, do some fine-tuning, and see about how much more to tweak it.

Maybe don’t do that.

Don’t fine tune your book into oblivion eternity. At some point, it’s not better, it’s just different.

What I do is send it out to beta readers.

(Read about writing drunk, editing sober, and breaking rules HERE)

On Poggibonsi: an Italian misadventure, I sent the “finished” MS out to 20 people to read and give me the general feedback. I wanted them to read it like a regular reader would. (Yes, there were some typos. Sue me.)

I must polish! I must obtain perfection!
I must polish! I must obtain perfection!

The finishing of the manuscript is a very difficult time for a writer. (Apparently it was for Mr. Capote.) Some people want to keep polishing book one forever, and that prevents them from ever putting out a book two.

Others (like me) tend to think as soon as the first draft is done, it’s ready for the world – and they launch it before it’s really ready.

Obviously the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.

However, you have to be able to take some time away from your baby, to be able to be objective about it. Now, I will not pretend that any author is ever fully objective about their manuscript, but I will say that sticking it on the shelf for a year and then looking at it – with not ever having looked at it for the 364 days in between- you will be much more objective.

And I was not in a year long coma, either.
And I was not in a year long coma, either.

I actually did that once. Me. Can you believe it? (It’s called An Angel On Her Shoulder.)

But a year is too long, so I wait a month. I’m pushed hard to even wait that long. While my book is out with the betas and before we look at publishing it, this is THAT month. We wait. We develop what will be fresh eyes for it again.

Yes, I’m working on my blog and other stories, but I’m trying very hard not to look at my finished manuscript, so when my beta readers are finished I can look at it a little more objectively – and hopefully put out a better product.

Wish me luck.

What do YOU do to put your baby down and walk away or to develop objectivity for your MS?

.

2012 b2

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See that “F” and “T” buttons down below? Click them. Put on your glasses. There they are.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

5 Reasons To Self Publish – From A Traditionally Published Author

Here are some highlights from a blog post at The Passive Voice. The remarks come from a traditionally published author.

5 Reasons To Self Publish (Edited for highlights I fund interesting, emphasis added – Dan)

Author Sheri McInnis
Author Sheri McInnis

Unless you deliver an ‘approved manuscript’ your book won’t even be published. That means there’s subtle pressure on you to take your editor’s notes – whether you agree with them or not. Notes will come from your agent, the editorial assistant, even the publisher. And their input can range anywhere from the helpful – to the heartbreaking. Even the marketing department gets in on things.

The book wouldn’t hit the shelves for at least eighteen months – probably more. It would be crazy to request a particular release date from a publisher. They have hundreds – if not thousands – of titles carefully staggered over many seasons.

The (2008 economic) downturn… resulted in less money for promotion. Book tours, launch parties and flashy displays are for only a lucky few writers. So whether you self-publish or not, you still have a huge job of promoting the book yourself – both in terms of time and money.

Neither of my novels were disasters but they didn’t perform as well as expected. What’s worse, I turned into an emotional wreck after the books flopped.

Indy writers have changed the game completely. Today every writer on the planet has the opportunity to reach millions of readers – and there isn’t the same stigma to self-publishing there once was.

What I find most interesting is that even with a big contract, (Romance writer Jasinda Wilder, who recently signed a 7-figure book deal with Berkley) Jasinda is going to continue to self-publish some titles.

From author Sheri McInnis via Gordon A. Wilson. Original link: 

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/08/2015/the-holy-grail-for-authors-5-reasons-to-self-publish/

from The Passive Voice

.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! Amuse and delight your friends! See that “F” and “T” button down below? Click them. Put on your glasses. There they are.

 2012 b2Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE .