Author On The Ledge!

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Your humble host

 

You’ll know it when you see it.

An author friend has started the downward spiral of doubt.

Here’s an example from a blog post of an obviously dismayed author friend, followed by my reply:

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…it seems as if I’ve just wasted the last (fill in your number here of the weeks, months or years) of my life writing a story no one will ever be interested in EVER. It should be printed off only to be burned in a barrel and then bombed with a nuclear warhead. I have THREE chapters left to write. THREE. At the end of the summer, in September, I had FIVE.

 This week I sat down to write and . . . nothing happened. I stared at a blinking cursor for six hours. Well, that’s not entirely true. I checked my email. I went to town on Twitter. I cleaned the house and did two loads of laundry. I watched a few cat videos on Facebook.

 AND I deleted two thousand words from my latest draft

This is what we call the ledge.

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Is this you?

Occasionally I’ll see a writer out there and talk them back in through a window. Just as often they let me know they’re out on the ledge and I talk them down. But on rare occasions they get out there and start deleting thousands of words and then it’s more a matter of getting them to hit the net when they jump.

Or if they slip.

You don’t strike me as a jumper so we’ll say slip. Yeah, that’s it. The ledge needed cleaning and next thing you know you were out there on it. It happens.

In fact, it can happen to any of us. You’re chugging along thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your writing, and then you reread the latest chapter of your GAM (Great American Novel) it and you’re like whaaat? Or a trusted CP (Critique Partner) starts asking if you wrote you latest submission while under the influence of prescription cough medicine.

Okay, so what do we know, and what do we do about it? Cos if you think I’m gonna hold your hand, you might have shot me a Facebook message (I have messenger now, too; it rocks) BEFORE you deleted thousands of words – and managed to write a thousand on your blog lamenting… your inability to write? Do I have that correct?

Well, I love irony as much as the next guy. Heck, maybe more. I even have sympathy for anybody buried under a foot of snow while I contemplate whether I’ll wear a sweatshirt with my shorts as I go buy chlorine for the pool. (I decided yes on the sweatshirt, but only because it was a little windy.)

Okay, sister, time for the tough love.

If you think this is the hard part, you are wrong. This writing stuff? This is the easy part. Even when it’s hard, it’s easy. The hard part – the part we refer to as the abyss – that’s when you press the “publish” button and a few weeks go by and nothing really happens. Or you get three or four bad reviews in a row. Or your sales drop for some unknown reason. Or you have no sales and you suddenly realize it’s been quite a while since you did have some.

We talked about the emotional roller coaster that is authordom, HERE.

You’ll want to crawl under a rock and question your right to exist because nobody anywhere wants to read your story. Or review it. Or recommend it to friends. Or any one of a thousand other ways your shiny new manuscript will bring harm to your delicate little writer psyche.

But there’s good news! I can help you avoid the abyss!

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This does not have to be you!

And I could have helped you avoid the freaking ledge! Do you not know how to get ahold of me? Facebook, Twitter, the Contact Me button on the blog, Instagram, Pinterest… You can call. I’m in the book, for pete’s sake. There’s like two guys with my name in the whole United States and I’m not the radical priest in Texas.

Okay, okay, here’s the deal:

  1. You have probably written a pretty good book. You may still f*ck it up, but more than likely it’s completely readable and interesting. (Amazeballs in Jennyspeak.) How can I say this? You’re here on my site, which means you have a clue and you give a damn, and you know the difference. I don’t say that to everybody – check the array of carcasses in my critique group that got a “better luck next time” card from me. My readers have, almost without exception, been good writers. (I say almost because nobody bats .1000)
  1. If it was easy, everybody would write a book. 80% of US Americans want to and the vast majority don’t.
  1. Of those who attempt to write a book, MOST SUCK. Your book probably does not suck. (See #1)
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for that help when you’re blocked. (And I don’t mean constipated, but I’m sure you know somebody to call about that, too. It’s not me. I wanna get on the record about that right now.)
  1. You are beautiful, funny, interesting, and a nice person. And your family loves you. Probably friends, too; I only know you online. But let’s give you that one, too.
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Sometimes that means goofing off with them for an hour on Facebook chat (now messenger; I upgraded and it’s totally addictive) until they prod you to get creative and clear the logjam. After all, you managed to put down tens of thousands of words in a mostly cohesive string so far. Odds are a few more thousand are in you. Here’s proof, click HERE.
  1. This was not going to be a list but what the hell, it is now.
  1. As a list, it needed to stop at three or five, but once we sailed past those, ten seemed to be the magic number.
  1. Have a drink. (Like I need to tell you that.) Try writing drunk, like Hemingway said – write drunk, edit sober. It’s worth a shot (get it? Shot?) You may come up with something really interesting. You may not. But at least you’ll be drunk. And cut back on the cat videos. They obviously aren’t helping.
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

Whatever way is needed.

WHAT EVER way is needed.

You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

Get it?

Let them.

SUBSCRIBE TO MY FREE NEWSLETTER! Get a FREE copy of “25 Great eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew,” FIRST SHOT at new stories, and exclusive behind the scenes access!

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Your humble host

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great upcoming sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

YOU GUYYYYYS!!!!!!

Look at this! How did this happen???

You are no doubt reading along enjoying today’s post, “20 Questions With Author Barbara Tarn” – as well you should be –

1000 blog followers 994 as of 02022016
It looks like this.

and LOOK what’s also happening today

(more or less).

LOOK!

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Do you see it?

What, you don’t see?

Step closer to the glass, Clarice.

Closer, please.

Closer

1000 blog followers 994 as of 02022016 c

What?????

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???

We are almost at 1,000 followers? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

You remember a few weeks ago I was talking about this and saying we might have a party at 1000 and we’d probably get there in March (I hoped; maybe by the end of March)? It’s freaking February second! And I honestly questioned whether we’d ever reach 1000 followers.

And, to be honest, I’m still pretty sure WordPress has made some huge error in calculating all this. The real number is probably around a hundred, but

scorecard, baby!

We will probably reach 1000 today! Or this week! 

Can you believe it?

I can’t. I mean, I can, but I can’t. It’s crazy.

I don’t know why this has me so excited. Except it does.

My little blog that just over a year ago had NO followers except a spambot and a confused but sympathetic friend, now has almost 1000.

I’m probably jinxing myself for posting this now, but after I saw 994 I was pretty sure I’d miss 1000 when it happened and as a result you’d all miss the party!

Well, party on, people!

I think if a lot of you guys re-blog this to your followers, we’ll hit 1000 today. That’s kind of how this stuff works. Otherwise it’ll happen in a few days and we’ll all miss it. That’s kinda like missing the ball drop on New Year’s and watching it on the news the next day, or not seeing you car’s odometer roll over to some big round number. Not nearly as exciting. Hell, I’d gone dark, remember? I wasn’t even paying attention.

Anyway, we have a little bit of time to plan a party. If you want to come over to the house, I’ll be home most of the day compiling The Navigators into one file. (I should probably let you guys see a few sample chapters of The Navigators, too. Hmm… and the cover. It has a cool cover. And a really fun story. Remind me about that later and I’ll do it.)

I can run out and get some champagne but otherwise we have plenty of wine. Do you wanna bring stuff? We only have either two or four beers, but we have LOTS of chips for some reason. And a little leftover hummus. It’s red pepper style. Do you like hummus? The red pepper is good. We just opened it Sunday, so I’m pretty sure it’s still okay to eat. Oh, and cheese. We have a lot of cheese. because we have a lot of wine. And because we like cheese. But bring whatever you like if we don’t have it. I think there are frozen meatballs in the fridge, too.

Anyway, what I’m saying is it’s a party!

And it’s be cause YOU amazing people have read and commented and reblogged and followed and subscribed. (And because of me a little, too.) But now I get to stand here looking smart as a result of all YOUR hard work getting word out there about this blog. (And mine, a little, too.)

Let’s face it, you guys make me look good. So you deserve the cheese and hummus. And a lot more

THANK YOU

(in advance, I guess, but still.)

You’re the best bunch of folks I’ve gotten to know on the internet. I love you guys.

Probably.

No, really, you’re the best.

You really are. I promised myself I wasn’t gonna cry.

Let’s Celebrate!

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Your humble host with almost 1000 followers.

 

 

Thank you for being there. Remember, your blog can do this, too. And a lot more.

You guys rock. 

 

Author Profile: Claire Fullerton

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Your humble host.

As we try to meet new authors and expand our literary palate, we will meet folks who write in the same genre as us and those who write something other than what we write. I personally believe that a well written story can (and maybe should) contain elements of multiple genres. A drama should have a dash of offsetting comedic relief.  A mystery might have a romantic underpinning. You can’t be all things to all people but you should read things outside of your normal sphere to broaden your talents.

We also get a glimpse into how other authors work, how they started, where they get their ideas. Each one we learn about teaches us more information we can use down the road.

With that in mind, meet a fascinating, intelligent author who brings a broad spectrum to the table – Claire Fullerton.

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DAN: What is the working title of your next book?

CLAIRE: My next book? The working title is “Mourning Dove,” and nobody has seen it yet because I’m still going over it line-by-line. But “Dancing to an Irish Reel” was released six months ago.

00 claire fullerton 3Where did the idea come from for the book?

With regard to “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” I once lived as an outsider in rural Ireland, but it didn’t take long to grow accustom to Ireland’s social and cultural nuances. I lived in the region of Connemara, in what is known as the Gaeltacht, which is where Irish is spoken as a first language. The village I lived in is called Inverin. It has one grocery store and no traffic or street lights. Everybody there knew I was a single American woman living out in the wilds of the bog, but, I had no idea everybody knew this. It was a wonderful, yearlong experience where everything was new and different. When I got back to America, I started formulating the idea for a book.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? A year, but this doesn’t mean the first draft was worth seeing! The book went through many edits.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Jonathan Reece Myers as Liam Hennessey, Emma Stone as Hailey Crossan, Keith Nobbs as Declan Fenton.

Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

Donna Tartt, but I’m not sure she’d be good company. Seems a little dark, edgy and cynical to me, and maybe not the best personality to ply with drink! But I find her books incredible for their unusual plots and structure. And there’s a woman who knows her way around the English language.

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Author Claire Fullerton

What makes you so damn interesting anyway?

I’m a dyed in the wool Southerner living at the beach in Malibu, California; let me spell the damn part of this out for you: Nobody in Malibu can get a handle on where I’m from. I can’t open my mouth without someone asking me if I’m from Texas, which is terribly disappointing for a Southerner from the Mississippi Delta. If this isn’t enough for you, I’m so damn interesting because I’m a ballet dancing German shepherd owner who was once a rock-n-roll DJ at a station on Beale Street in Memphis, before I was offered a job in Hollywood to work in the record business, in which I shopped a band named Better Than Ezra for a year and a half (more Southerners- not so easy to do in LA.) Then I worked in a post-production facility, where I met every movie star known to man ( name someone; I’ve rubbed shoulders) then moved to rural Ireland for a year, before fate landed me back in sin-city until I met my husband and moved to Malibu.

What is the best part about being a traditional author for you?

I have two books out with Vinspire Publishing, which is a medium-size press. The best part of this has been that they’ve literally walked me through everything I didn’t know about marketing and promotion, and I can’t stress enough how little I knew. I knew how to write and that was it, but after two and a half years, I now understand the game.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

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Supermodel and Entrepreneur Cindy Crawford
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Olympic Athlete Greg Louganis

I taught Pilates and Ballet barre to Greg Louganis and Cindy Crawford. Seriously. They both repeatedly came to my class. Cindy is so good looking you can’t even look her in the eye, and nice beyond measure. And Greg is Malibu’s hometown favorite. A lovely guy.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I can’t wax enough about our two German shepherds. I spend a lot of time entertaining them. Believe me, if you don’t give a shepherd something to do, they’ll find it for themselves, so I’m outdoors with them a lot, either at the beach or in the woods. Beyond this, I keep up with ballet.

Why do some authors sell well and others don’t?

I think the question is best looked at from the vantage point of where an author is in their career (assuming, of course, that they’re good.) A writer’s career is “a marathon not a sprint” ( I’ve heard this forever) and so much of it comes down to constant, let me repeat, CONSTANT marketing and promotion. The way I see it, it’s all a build, and one has to tap themselves in with readers to prove they exist! But at the end of it all, it all comes down to the quality of the work and the ability to keep producing.

What’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea?

The lobby of the La Playa Hotel, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, which is on the Monterey Peninsula. It was the strangest thing: as my husband checked us into the historic hotel, my eyes scanned the vast, opulent lobby, where there was a stone fireplace on one end and a sweeping Mediterranean tiled staircase on the other. I noticed a hallway flowing to the back of the hotel, which faces the ocean, and as I walked down it, I saw sepia-tinted etchings and old photographs taken of the area dating from 1900. People were in period clothing standing beside horses at hitching posts, the streets were unpaved, and everything looked eerie. In looking at one photograph, which was the architectural plan for a house, I realized the La Playa Hotel started out as a private resonance.

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Nice place!

This put a different spin on the stairs I saw in the lobby, so I walked back and imagined myself, at the turn of that century, walking up to the level above, where I assumed there must have been bedrooms. When I actually did walk up the stairs, I saw a cathedral, wooden door at the end of the hall and knew it must lead to the master bedroom. I imagined there was a bay window looking out towards the sea, and imagined myself standing before it purposefully. “A Portal in Time” was the book I wrote that led me to that imagined window at the top of the stairs!

 

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

00 claire fullerton 2For “A Portal in Time,” I had no idea in which genre it belonged; I just thought I’d written a good page-turning, rather off-kilter story with an unusual ending. But when I submitted it to Vinspire Publishing, I said it was paranormal, because it had to do with the idea of past lives. For “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” I told the story in the first person and made it all a true to life commentary on how I experienced Ireland, although the story is fiction. This makes “Dancing to an Irish Reel” literary fiction, which is my favorite genre. My third novel is also literary fiction.

Can you wash light and dark clothes together?

Have you even turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer? Can I now moan about the nature of my husband’s socks? Lord, have mercy. They’re of the white sporting variety and he tends to wear them around the house without shoes, which turns what was once white to the grossest color you’ve ever seen. I’m talking dirt-brown. With dog hair from two German shepherds. Have I turned anything pink in the wash? Maybe not, but I’ve never mastered the art of removing filth.

What “person” do you like to write in? First Person, Third Person, etc. – and why?

First person. I don’t think I’ll ever write in third again. I find other’s points of view too tricky, and if I write in the first, then there seems to be more authenticity in the telling. I prefer reading first person as well because it give me a person with whom to connect.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

00 claire fullerton 8.jpgYes! I submitted the epilogue to my third novel to Southern Writer’s Magazine’s 2015 short-story contest, and it is a runner-up. It’ll appear in their next edition. I’m actually still adjusting the 81,000 word manuscript- going over and over it- you know how it is. But I thought I’d submit the epilogue to the contest, even though it’s not technically a short-story, but it does stand on its own. I’m thrilled Southern Writer’s Magazine saw its merit.

How did your blog start?

I have a blog on Goodreads, which I’ve kept current with these past few years. It’s a great spot from which to start a blog because so many readers are on the site. For an author, it’s a ready readership.

How do you decide on a title for your book?

“Dancing to an Irish Reel” came to me because it describes what goes on in the book between the American outsider and the local, Irish traditional musician. The young lad, Liam Hennessey, has never been in love before, so when he meets American, Hailey Crossan, he doesn’t know how to handle himself or the growing attraction between them. He can’t decide whether to draw closer or run away, because he’s an Irish musician, married to the music, and not sure how this woman can fit into his life. But the attraction is clearly there and building, and in Hailey’s eyes, she’s involved in a dance and trying to find her footing as a stranger in a strange land.

00 claire fullerton 9What do you do for cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist (you can name names if you liked them), or purchase premade?

Vinspire Publishing hired Elaina Lee: For the Muse Designs.

 

Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position! Both!

I know the beginning and end first, then I write down highlights, plot twists, and building blocks that I want in the story, and perhaps a few lines I want the characters to say in dialogue, which will shed light on their personality as well as move the story forward. I also answer these questions: what is the theme or themes of this book; what am I trying to say? What’s the point of this story? In my opinion, there’s very little point in writing a book if you don’t have something to say! I consider all this the scaffolding of the story, and from here, I fly by the seat of my pants. Writing a novel will avail plenty of opportunity for side-trips during the process, so to speak, and if I’m not boxed in with a concrete structure, then I’m free to explore.

 

What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

I’ll put these two questions together here and report I’ve learned the imperative, in writing of any kind, and it is this: after you think you’ve finished, walk away and go back to it later. You’ll catch all kinds of things then. I’ve heard it said that writing is re-writing, and it is true.

What was your road to publication like?

Ah! Great question, which I spelled out in detail on The Story Reading Ape’s website in October, which is how I was lucky enough to find you!

What advice can you give new authors?

00 claire fullerton 4If you think you should, then you should! Writers learn as they go along, but it starts with getting in the traffic. There is no “there” to get to, only the willingness to stay the course with commitment. A writer’s career will create itself if a writer allows it to. It is typically unpredictable, so one has to stay loose in the saddle and persevere. And never, never, never compare yourself to others.

Who or what helped you the most getting started?

Not a soul. I dove in the waters alone! But then Dawn Carrington of Vinspire Publishing believed in my first novel and treated me with such guiding respect that it ramped me up in my own esteem and gave me motivation to continue.

 

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Always first thing in the morning, coffee in hand, which leads me to the answer of the next question on this interview: my fear is if I didn’t begin each day with coffee, I’d go into withdrawal.

 

 

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

I’d go where ever asked and make it my mission to tell other authors how to plot their career. I’d answer any question because I know there are legions of great writers out there looking for an open door. I’d like to point the way.

Best book to movie you’ve seen?

“The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy- the book, not the movie. There was no way to capture the lyrical, insightful flow of this great Southern novel in the movie. The book was all about the flow of past and present and how they beled into each other. It is the ultimate “sins of the father” book and so masterfully constructed I’m still not over its genius!

What are you three favorite books by other authors?

After “The Prince of Tides,” “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt, “The Mermaid’s Singing” by Lisa Carey and “Peachtree Road” by Anne Rivers Siddons.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

00 claire fullerton 1There was never a time when I was not. I say this because I always felt the need to keep a journal. I documented everything that went on in my life from a very early age because it just seemed the thing to do, to keep a running monologue, if you will. My career has been an outgrowth of this process. The only difference between what I’ve always done and publication is at one point, I started submitting.

Do you hate cats?

No, I do not. I have one black cat named La Chatte. She’s a left-handed cat with way too much to say. The dear thing understands paragraphs. And our two German shepherds still chase her, yet she remains completely unruffled. You’ve never seen such stoic confidence in a feline.

 

What was the most fun interview you’ve done and why?

Now why would I be stupid enough to say any other interview other than this was the most fun? And it seriously has been. But Ronovan Writes’ interview was unusually creative, and Chris of the Story Reading Ape is a star!

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Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Literary Fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is a four time, award winning essayist, a contributor to magazines, a five time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, and a former newspaper columnist. Claire grew up in Memphis, and now divides her time between Malibu and Carmel, CA with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.

http://www.clairefullerton.com/

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00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

 

 

 

MAILING LISTS: Why Authors Need Them, How To Build One (It’s Pretty Simple!)

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Your humble host.

We all know there are dozens of things we’re supposed to be doing as authors in addition to writing. We talk about it here all the time.

One of the important items is building a mailing list. That way, YOU are the source for information on your books and not a website or online retailer or agent or anybody else. YOU let fans know when the next book is coming – or anything else you wanna share, and THEY become connected with you and your writing. That’s  a huge asset when it comes time to sell them another book.

Okay, that’s the why part. But how do you do it? And what do you mail to the subscribers?

Today, author and friend of the blog  Al Macy explains how he saw the light and what he did to gain a solid mailing list with an active readership – and shows how you can do it, too.

Here’s my chat with Al.

DAN: How did you come to conclude you needed a mailing list?

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Author Al Macy

AL MACY: Many of the authors on the Kboards forum have stressed the importance of having a mailing list. I wasn’t completely convinced, but I was willing to give it a try.

Right. That’s what I saw. Lots of people say you need a mailing list but they don’t say why – or what you’re supposed to do once you start getting emails. That was me; I accumulated about 500 emails but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do except announce the next book when it was ready. But let’s start at the beginning. How did you get yours started?

I realized that it wasn’t enough just to have something at the end of my book saying “If you liked this book, please sign up for my mailing list.” That may have worked in the past, when lists like this were novel, but now, you have to give the readers more of an incentive to sign up. By giving you their email, they realize they may be opening up the floodgates of ads for marital aids, so you have to make it worth their while.

At that point I only had one fiction book out, Contact Us. I considered giving away a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate or a Kindle as an incentive, but was told that if I did that, subscribers would simple unsubscribe once the contest was over.

Nobody wants that. So what did you do?

I wanted to give away a free book, but since I didn’t have one of my own available, I gave away another author’s book.

Brilliant. Who’s book did you use?

Jay Falconer gave me permission to give away one of his books as an incentive.

Why him? Is his writing similar to yours?

On the Kboards forum, I’d heard that he was looking for other authors to cross promote with. The book of his I chose, Glassford Girl (which was not free at the time) was more paranormal than sci-fi, but I read it and enjoyed it.

Note that I was warned by one Kboarder that offering someone else’s book was a bad idea. The argument was that I the readers might enjoy this other author’s writing more than mine. I figured the advantages of gaining subscribers would outweigh that risk.

By the way, if anyone wants to offer The Antiterrorist to their readers, just let me know!

What kind of contest did you run and who did you run it through?

I just gave everyone who subscribed to my mailing list the link to the free book. This worked well, and I gained an average of one new subscriber per day. Now, remember that I did that as a stop-gap measure. I wanted to offer my own book as a giveaway, and I dropped everything to start work on my short book, The Antiterrorist. I wrote it in two months, which is fast for me. It was 15,000 words, and its sole purpose in life was to be an incentive for newsletters signups.

That’s really a whole second step to the mailing list. Now for The Antiterrorist, you had a cover made or did you make it yourself, or what?

I did it myself. I’m a do-it-yourselfer and I’m frugal. All of NASA’s photos are free (we paid for them, after all), so I downloaded some shots of the International Space Station, the stars, and the earth and put together a simple cover. You can see it here:

 

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I’ve recently decided that covers are so important, I should have them designed by experts. I had my cover for Contact Us done by Damonza.com, (and I’ve since revised the cover for Antiterrorist to match that look).

 00 al macy contact us.jpg

 

I’ve found that I although I like (okay, love) the covers I come up with, I can’t really trust my judgment. But that’s a whole other subject.

I suffer from a similar affliction. If I like a cover, it’s a dud. I have to rely on my fans. They’re never wrong.

00 d r rBack to the marketing and free book ideas, note that I also made my non-fiction book, Drive, Ride, Repeat, a permafree book. Everyone who downloaded that book, got an offer to sign up for the mailing list and get a free Antiterrorist.

So, in summary, I got exposure through my permafree book, so many readers would see the mailing list free-book offer.

Any other ideas on how to get more people to see your offer?

Yes. One thing I do, is I have my offer page at the start of the book. That way, any one who uses Amazon’s Look Inside feature or downloads the sample will see my offer. Readers may think they are sneaky and clever to get the offer without buying anything, but that’s fine with me.

So now you have two incentives working for you.

Once The Antiterrorist was complete, I put it up for pre-order on Amazon, with a lead time of ninety days. That way, I could say to my potential subscribers, “This book is not available anywhere, but you can get it for free for signing up.” In other words, don’t think of it as just saving 99 cents, think of it as the only place in the universe that you can get this book.

I take it that was a PDF they would get?

No, I offer it as a mobi (Kindle) file. Once they sign up, the reader gets an email with a link to the mobi and instructions on how to get it to their reader. Sometimes people ask for a PDF or ePub file, and I email it to them.

This shows how my mailing list grew:

 

00 Al Macy mail list growth

Eight months to go to 500 – not bad! Plus, I see a big jump from October to November. What caused that?

I participated in a promotion at FreeKindleGiveaway.com. I paid them $20 to be a sponsor of one of their giveaways. In return, they had a link to my book, and site visitors could enter their contest by signing up for my mailing list. It was a little more complicated than that, but I got 180 new subscribers that way, and they didn’t simply unsubscribe once the contest was over.

That’s an awesome gain for twenty bucks.

By the way, I learned a lot about this newsletter strategy from a book called Reader Magnets.

Awesome. After I got a bunch of emails, I didn’t send them anything. Like, almost never. That’s backwards, right? How often do you send out newsletters?

When I started, I was thinking, “I don’t want to bother these people with a lot of newsletters. I’ll just save the email addresses, and send something out when I have a new book available.” But I learned that would have been a big mistake.

That was totally my mindset. Why is that a mistake?

00 Al Macy 0 author pic srWell, as someone explained to me, if you don’t send out regular emails, your subscribers will forget who you are. Then, when you do send out something, they’ll think, “Oh, there’s some spam!” Click, they’ll delete it. Or worse, they’ll unsubscribe.

I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened to me. (Dammit!) Lesson learned. But you found additional reasons to stay in contact and develop a relationship with your subscribers. Stuff that proved extremely useful.

I hadn’t appreciated my subscribers until I sent an email to them asking for ten beta readers for my newest book, Yesterday’s Thief. The response was overwhelming. Literally! I was overwhelmed, and had to sit down and have a drink. I got over fifty responses.

More than that, their responses showed me that these were people who really enjoyed my books and wanted to read more.

That’s HUGE. That’s exactly what you want as an author.

I got so many responses explaining why I should pick them as a beta reader, that I had to give in and choose twenty-one readers.

The first reader finished the book in only three hours. I wish I could read that fast. One reader read the whole book twice! They all had great ideas and caught some plot holes.

00 Al Macy 0 author pic csThat alone may have been worth the effort of gaining followers. In the past I’ve had beta readers who aren’t that motivated. They might take a month to read my book and have few comments.

With this revelation, I decided I should work harder to come up with fun newsletters.

So, you aren’t like I was, sitting in my house trying to send mass emails. Who do you use to manages that for your newsletter?

Mailchimp. (Apparently there are two main options: Mailchimp and Aweber. I know nothing about the latter, but am very happy with Mailchimp.) As long as you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers it’s free.

We all like free!

Unfortunately, there’s no tech support for a free account, and there’s no support forum that I’ve found.

But it doesn’t take too long to get used to Mailchimp’s interface, and it can be fun to design your newsletters and other emails. I’ve even used Mailchimp to manage my Christmas videos.

I saw those. I was impressed. Nice job.

How would you say a newsletter compares with a blog or Twitter postings?

I’d say they’re variations on a theme. They are all ways to connect with your readers. I found that with my bike trip and my piano sight-reading blogs, I got similar engagement with readers. I have 5,000 followers on Twitter, but I must be missing something because I get almost zero engagement there.

So as my readers venture forth to create their all-important mailing lists, where should they start?

First, one good idea is to sign up for a bunch of newsletters from other authors. That way, you can get some ideas of what people send out.

Second, I have a feeling that newsletters are becoming less effective now that so many people are doing them. It’s rare to go to an author’s web site without being asked to sign up. Many of those requests come in the form of annoying popup windows. People hate those. Don’t use them, please.

I was actually going to have a popup on my blog to ask for an email address. Now I know not to.

Are there downsides to doing a newsletter?

00 Al Macy 0 author pic bIn a way it’s like getting lots of new friends. It takes time to interact with them, and that means less time for writing and other activities.

That’s fun, but it can become time consuming, too, so as always: balance.

So, you like your newsletter subscribers. What’s the most interesting email you’ve received from any of  them.

No contest. When I first got the following email, I thought it was some kind of scam from a non-English speaker.  But it wasn’t, and now it’s my favorite email:

Greetings, Mr. Beach

We here on Bubble One enjoyed reading your Amazon Kindle, but didn’t encounter her in the story, though she would have fit right in, we believe. Please consider adding her in your up-and-comings because she could provide love-interest competition and enhanced flavourableness to reading experiences of beings such as we, who are ideal market force for increased production volume and enhanced status size for you.

We have sent a copy of your excellent otherwise literature to our space-rovering neighbors, who also are lacking in excitement possibilities. We hope you will not be displeased by this undertaking of ours and we will sent you a percentage of saleable recuperations. Please advise in what format you want these. We offer many potentials.

Yours, most sincere beings, also likeable,

Prothus IV, for itself and others on craft which themselves are not advanced totally in Englishableness

.

That’s freaking awesome. Al, I can’t thank you enough for walking us through a difficult topic and making it simple.

To sum up the incentive steps:

  • Al created a giveaway using another author’s book.
  • He made a book of his own, Drive, Ride, Repeat, permafree, and
  • Gave downloaders of Drive, Ride, Repeat an offer to sign up for the mailing list and get a free copy of The Antiterrorist.
  • Told new potential email subscribers they could get The Antiterrorist free for subscribing (it would not be available for 90 days)
  • Participated in a sponsorship/promotion

00 Al Macy 0 author pic yt 

I’ll be working on Al’s suggestions during my down time this holiday season, and so should you! Get creative, like Al did. Don’t have a book of your own to offer? Ask another author if you can use theirs!

Here are Al’s links, and be sure to preorder his latest book, Yesterday’s Thief on Amazon!

Contact Us: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V73HKOI

The Antiterrorist: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZS51IJE

Yesterday’s Thief: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018UOTOEA

Sign up for Al’s Newsletter  http://pages.suddenlink.net/almacystuff/signupantiterrorist.htm

Al’s Amazon Author page  http://www.amazon.com/Al-Macy/e/B00HS3BO2U

Al’s Facebook page Facebook.com/AlMacyAuthor

Al’s Twitter ID @AlMacyAuthor

Al’s author web site AlMacyAuthor.com

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00 Santa Dan
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

Hey, check me out!

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Stop beating yourself up over low blog traffic!

I got featured on Indie Plot Twist! How cool is that?

There are lots of ways to find followers and get a little recognition. Indie Plot Twist is all over Twitter because they have an innovative way of incorporating your post with clickable tweets that send out the highlights of your message.

 

I found the site because one of my author friends posted on it. They mentioned it, so I checked it out and submitted. Now Indie Plot Twist is running my guest post and I’m mentioning it to you.

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There I am!

The site is good for many reasons but posting there couldn’t be easier. They have a button; you use it to contact them. Send your thoughts and they’ll let you know in a pretty fast manner. That’s it. If they like it, they schedule you and ask for some additional stuff, like links.

 

curious-woman
I do need to stay current.

Now, when you see your blog post on their site, you tell the world like I am. They get more readers, you get more readers. Everybody wins.

 

After you read a few posts on their site, you’ll see what they are looking for in content. Subscribe, and you’ll always have the latest tips.

 

It’s a good way to get your name out there, and guess what? There are lots of sites that will let you do a guest blog post.

 

Like this one.

 

00 santa hat writer
Me? A guest blogger? SURE!

For example, we will be featuring author interviews but we also have our friends of the blog post stuff we all need to know about. Al Macy is doing a few for us about building an email list (how to do it, why you need one) and using Kboards to get input on covers, blurbs, and titles. When his new book comes out in early 2016, we’ll be featuring him in a fun interview. Al gets a little exposure for his books and he becomes a trusted commodity by being a guest blogger here. You learn stuff you need from somebody who just did it. It’s a win-win.

 

That’s what you want, too.

 

So give Indie Plot Twists a shout, and send me an email (use the Contact Me button) to tell me what you’d like to guest post about.

 

Then, when it runs, you tell everybody – giving you an excuse to talk about yourself and your new book, drive traffic to your blog, or whatever!

 

It helps us; it helps you. And not every great idea has to come from me.

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00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

 

Still Stuck? How To Unstick Your Unmotivated Writer’s Brain And WRITE

burned out womanSometimes a story gets stuck. That sucks, because we’re the ones who drove into the tree, but it happens. (This is not a post about that.)

 

When the story is fine but the writer is stuck, that’s different. That’s a mental thing, or an organization thing, or whatever, but if you are stuck and unhappy about it, here’s another method to re-engage your motivation.

 

BTW, if you have read my other piece about this and NOT tried EVERY solution offered, DO NOT complain that you are still stuck. You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

 

1 finish line c
You’ll get there.

First, don’t worry about “finishing” the story. That’s a thought too big for your unmotivated brain right now, like trying to swallow your whole Thanksgiving dinner in one bite.

 

Instead, let’s work in reverse.

 

(Ooh, math. Already, writing your story sounds good, doesn’t it? You’re welcome.)

 

How many chapters do you estimate you have to go to finish the story? I used about 1 chapter per plot point.

How many words per chapter? I use about 3000.

How long does it take to write a chapter? That depends, but you know and I don’t, for you. Using me, I’d say 3 days per chapter DEPENDING on if I have some plot points I have to work out or logic problems, etc.

 

In my fantasy romance story, The Water Castle, if Philip marries Gina and stays in Florida, he dies a year later in an Indian raid. If he doesn’t marry her and goes back to Spain, he lives. What was the option if he didn’t marry her and stayed in Florida? Oops. I guess I’d better make Spain mandatory. But then he’d live regardless. Oops. So he ONLY stays if he marries her, otherwise he has to go back. Staying is defiance. Okay. And she can’t go with him to Spain? Oops. Nope, I guess not.

 

See? All that thinking will stop the writing!

 

woman-stressed-pulling-hair-out

Anyway, if I have 6 plot points remaining (Philip has the meeting, Philip goes back to castle, Gina sees the book, Gina breaks up with Philip, Gina and her mom reconcile, Philip leaves, that’s about it.) 6 plot points. None of those is probably a whole chapter but let’s say they are.

 

6 “chapters” x 3000 words per chapter, at 2 chapters a week for normal speed = 3 weeks until I’m finished. (Again, your mileage may vary)

 

Add 50% to 100% for holiday interference and I’d say 6 weeks. Six weeks from now is, what, early January?

 

Okay, now I have to decide WHEN I’m going to write. (If you do not have a set writing time, there are ways to find time and schedule time HERE and HERE) For me, it’s usually 4am to 6am, plus 1 hour in the early evening and a few after dinner evenings, plus 3 hours on Sunday morning and 3 hours on Saturday afternoon, plus ALL DAY BLACK FRIDAY. Otherwise, whenever I can, since holidays mess things up.abacus

 

* Crunches numbers *

 

Yes, I can meet that January 7 deadline.

 

Now, if I finish before January 7, I will feel really good, but just knowing January 7 is when it’ll likely be finished, that’s GREAT. All I have to do is ensure I get my 2 hours in each morning.

 

Walk through that exercise for yourself. Be realistic, not ambitious. You’re not going to become SuperAuthor just because you wrote down some numbers.

 

Break down the numbers and have a weekly goal, with a daily estimate. A weekly goal might be 6,000 words but there will be days when I don’t write 1000. Maybe I’m rereading or reviewing – and my critique partners can usually tell when I haven’t. So I’ll go for a weekly goal but after 2 weeks if I’m only hitting 4000 words a week, guess what? REVISE THE DEADLINE or increase the weekly word production, or both.

 

0 punch
Don’t do that.

Right now, you’re beating yourself. I’d adjust the deadline. If that means March 31 and I hate it being that far away, I’ll get motivated – but the idea is to have a system to get where you want to go because right now you are NOT getting there without a system right now, are you? The system you’re using ain’t getting it done!

 

THEN take your plot points and list them:

Philip has the meeting,

Philip goes back to castle,

Gina sees the book,

Gina breaks up with Philip,

Gina and her mom reconcile,

Philip orders castle destroyed and leaves

 

Then take your favorite one and tell in 1 paragraph what happens in that part, or why it’s your favorite. Just sum it up. A few sentences may be enough, but feel free to explain the intricacies or details you want to hit.

 

Then, do that for the other points.

 

o spark
Feeling it yet?

Even if you wrote one paragraph for each of 6 plot points, you’d have written probably 1000 – 1500 words, and probably re-sparked your interest in your story. I defy you to write 1000 words on a story you love and NOT get restarted on it. But if you don’t, then set it aside and start something new. Maybe short stories or Flash Fiction challenges.

 

Me, I’d FORCE myself to write if I had to. I have written and discarded tens of thousands of words for The Water Castle. There have been a few strolls down interesting paths before the big ending that were later discarded. There was supposed to be a big dragon chase that evaporated. It’s all clay until it’s baked into a pot.

 

HappyChild_large
Me! Me! Me!

But if the story has left you, it’s okay to dance with a new story – as long as you don’t marry the new story. You don’t need 20 stories lying around that are half finished (and if you DO have 20 half-finished stories laying around, consider partnering up with others to finish them. Co-authors. Give ‘em your outline and notes and publish the thing, then split the royalties.)

 

They say if you have to wait for a muse, you’re a not a writer, you’re a waiter. Do you want that? How does that feel, to say that about yourself? You don’t want that.

 

Nobody wants that.

 

That’s why Hemingway said bite the nail every day and write. (Although he did shoot himself.) Sometimes it’s work. Build those writer muscles so next time it’ll be easier! You are not a quitter!

 

AB19725
You’ll get there!

I think breaking it down this way will help you see what you want to work on. You know what happens in the story; you just need to get it down. Also, as the end gets close, it’s hard to finish, so don’t let that get in the way. Finishing is difficult the first few times. You’ll be sitting there wondering if you tied up all the loose ends. Don’t. Just finish it. THEN worry about that stuff. Because clay. You can add to your story or change it. You can’t edit a blank page.

 

Write SOMETHING EVERY DAY, or even just reread a favorite part of the story. Do these exercises. Pretty soon the old fun feeling will be back.

 

And you’ll be writing again!

 

If YOU have ever been stuck, what worked for you? Tell us!

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Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

4 Important Things Every Aspiring Author Needs To Know

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

Pushing that PUBLISH button is a big moment, and your life is different – for better or worse – from that moment on.

 

Writers need to get over the fear of publishing.

 

I was lucky, I started by writing family humor essays and my stuff was out there for a years on Facebook where friends read it and enjoyed it and shared it with strangers and encouraged me, so I knew what was funny and how to hook readers and how to get an audience to cry before I ever sat down to create a book. Still, pushing that PUBLISH button is a big moment, and your life is different – for better or worse – from that moment on.

 

I know each new story is better than the last one and believe it will be well received, but getting past that initial fear, worrying that I was about to humiliate myself, was hard for me and is hard for most writers.

 

What I can tell you is DO IT.

 

Publish book one and get book two out as soon as possible. There are very few Harper Lee’s. Most of us are going to have to write a few books to get good at it.

 

Here are the FOUR most important things every aspiring author needs to know:

 

  1. Don’t polish it forever, put it out there.
  2. At some point the changes aren’t improvements, they’re just changes.
  3. Believe in yourself and start achieving your dream. It waits for you on the other side of the publish button.
  4. Mobs do not show up with pitchforks and torches if your book is bad, and odds are you didn’t write something bad.

 

  • From an interview with Cathleen Townsend in her blog The Beauty Of Words when she asked me “What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?”

 

When chasing after your story, KEEP AFTER IT!

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Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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