Tag Archives: independent author

In Memory of Walker Newton

Writing about death is practically an everyday occurrence for me, but I now find myself writing about it from a completely different, and very unexpected perspective.

Several months ago I was attending the Inspired Mic, a monthly “open mic” night for authors here in my town, and there was a newcomer in the lineup.

Walker Newton read an excerpt from one of his novels, and by the time his six minutes were up he had morphed from a writer I had never heard of, to the guy I wanted to be friends with.

 

Walker Newton 1

Maybe it was his style of writing, which was very similar to mine. After the event several people approached me and commented about the similarities in our styles.

It could have been the fact that he was also a musician, often combining his musical performances with his book signings. I thought that was too cool.

Most likely it was his cool, easy manner.

Walker Newton 2

Unassuming, modest, easy-going and humble.

I liked him immediately.

When I learned that he was from neighboring St. Augustine, and that his books were set there, I thought How do I not know this guy?

 

Walker and I had a couple of conversations and were featured together at a signing held at a local winery, where we exchanged books.

We were well on our way to becoming friends.

Sadly, that friendship has been put on hold.

 

Walker Newton 4

Rance “Walker” Newton passed away on Monday April 13, 2015 at the age of 70.

After serving as a submariner in the US Navy, Walker received a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree. He traveled extensively and had a very successful career in hotel development.

He was a talented musician and writer, but far more important, he was a friend to everyone he met.

His legacy will live forever in the hearts of all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

Walker Newton 3

I’ve never written an obituary, and I didn’t know Walker well enough to do him justice, but I can say that he was taken far too soon.

Walker Newton works Walker Newton on Amazon

 

As always – Thank you for reading…and Godspeed Walker

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Hiring an Editor is Not the Place to Cut Corners

Back in 2003 I left a really well-paying job to start my own home improvement business. It was a questionable decision at best, and I quickly learned that whatever skills I possessed as a carpenter were trumped by my complete inadequacy as a business man. Despite the inevitable failure of my business, I did learn several lessons, some of which translate nicely to my writing endeavors.

One such piece of “tool belt wisdom” came to mind recently when another author friend of mine was complaining about the cost of hiring an editor.  tool belt

You’ve heard the old adage any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client? It’s the same for authors who try to self-edit.

Every author needs an editor – this fact is non-negotiable.

The reasons you should always hire a qualified professional editor are numerous, and not the topic of this post. The important thing here is that you do.

Anyway…before I go off on a tangent, let’s get back on point.

While I was a self-employed home improvement contractor I was hired to remodel a kitchen. The client was a single woman in her late 40s/early 50s who told me exactly what she wanted down to the smallest detail. This was fine with me, because it left very little ambiguity.

A problem did arise, however, when I was nearly finished installing the granite tile countertop she wanted. She decided that she didn’t like the fact that there were no grout joints. countertop

The ensuing argument began with the debate over my lack of foresight, since I had been unable to predict that she would not like that which she had told me she wanted…

It escalated to her extreme displeasure at the amount of time it was taking me to complete the project.

I reminded her of the conversation prior to the signing of the contract where she assured me that, since it was a vacant rental property, and since my price was so good I needn’t worry about time.

Apparently I was wrong in the assumption that she actually meant what she had said…

So the argument ended when I told her that there were three options when it came to getting the job done:

  • You can have it good
  • You can have it fast
  • You can have it cheap

BUT

You can only pick two of those options.

She didn’t like that answer.

At that point I really didn’t care what she liked, and I told her so in no uncertain terms.

She fired me the next day.

 

The point of the story is that those rules apply to just about anybody you hire to do anything. It’s almost a universal law.

If you want it good and cheap, it’s probably not going to be fast.

If you want it good and fast it’s not going to be cheap and if you want it fast and cheap it’s not going to be good.

Back to editors…

edits

As I stated, you should definitely hire an editor, but pay attention to the aforementioned rules.

Editing a novel properly is a laborious and time-consuming task. The level of quality of YOUR book will suffer if it is hurried. Allow your editor the time he/she needs to do the job properly. Rushing them will never result in a better product.

A qualified editor is a professional. Expect their fee to be commensurate with their experience and ability. Editing is not the place to cut corners. By all means, you should shop around and find the best price to fit your budget, but don’t go to the extreme of hiring your high school English teacher who says they’ll do it for a hundred bucks and a case of beer.

You spent months, maybe years, writing your manuscript – proper editing will make your work better. Believe it or not…there is room for improvement in your work, and you should want the finished product to be as good as it can be.

One final point to illustrate my own experience with editors.

Living the Dream My first novel, Living the Dream, was not professionally edited.

I labored over it for more than a year. It was re-written at least 4 times. I had three people beta-read it for me, and I corrected everything they found. When I finally submitted it for publishing I was fairly certain it was as tight as it could be.

Now, it seems that every time I pick the book up and flip to a random page I spot a typo…or I read a sentence that could have been reworded to make it better…or I notice a misspelled word.

The story itself is (in my somewhat-biased opinion) excellent and I wouldn’t change it at all, but there are a bunch of little “mistakes” which would have been eliminated by a good editor.

All of my subsequent books and stories were rigorously edited, and it shows. Naturally I paid for it, and as every independent author knows, there usually isn’t a lot of money in the budget for such luxuries. My books took a little longer to get from manuscript to finished product, but what’s a month or two in the big picture?

So the moral of the story is – yes, editing is an additional expense and it will add some time to your schedule, but if you really care about the quality of your book it’s time and money well-spent.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Indie Author Spotlight – Lilo Abernathy

I would like to introduce you to one of my many writer friends.

Lilo Abernathy is a somewhat eccentric, deep-thinking, warm-hearted young woman of at least 43 years. She started out as a restaurant chain hostess and worked her way up to the exciting world of global mergers and acquisitions. She has enjoyed an on again/off again relationship with formal education and has been affectionately referred to as information hound. In the evenings, she fills her writing breaks by scanning the internet for answers to provocative questions, such as: “What causes diamonds to be formed in different colors?”

Lilo Abernathy

One thing that never changes is Lilo’s ongoing love affair with books. A born bibliophile, by age ten she finished all the children’s books in the house and started devouring the adult section. By age 15, she was working her way through grocery store book aisles and libraries. Just as Picasso had his blue period, Lilo had her own periods of readership–urban fantasy, paranormal romance, Gothic novels, etc. Now she’s planning on creating a bookshelf for you to enjoy.

For fans of paranormal romance and urban fantasy here is a good place to start:

The Light Who Shines
When Supernatural Investigation Bureau agent Bluebell Kildare (a.k.a. Blue) arrives at the scene of the crime, it’s obvious the grotesquely damaged body of the deceased teenage boy was caused by far more than a simple hit and run; and she vows to catch the killer. Using her innate sixth sense, Blue uncovers a powerful magical artifact nearby. She soon discovers it acts as a key to an ancient Grimoire that was instrumental in the creation of the Vampire breed and still holds the power to unravel the boundaries between Earth and the Plane of Fire.

Blue and her clever wolf Varg follow a trail that starts at the Cock and Bull Tap and leads all through the town of Crimson Hollow. Between being sidelined by a stalker who sticks to the shadows and chasing a suspect who vanishes in thin air, the case is getting complicated. If that isn’t enough, Dark Vampire activity hits a record high, and hate crimes are increasing. However, it’s Blue’s growing feelings for Jack Tanner, her sexy Daylight Vampire boss, that just might undo her.

While Blue searches for clues to nail the perpetrator, it seems someone else is conducting a search of their own. Who will find whom first?

Danger lurks in every corner, and Blue needs all her focus in this increasingly dangerous game or she risks ending up the next victim.

Iron Horse 2LA

Meet Blue:

Bluebell Kildare: Blue is a Supernatural Homicide Detective and a gifted empath who has a pure spirit and a will of steel. She was orphaned at a young age and has had a tough life so far. Yet, she continually picks herself up by the boot straps and fights to do what is right, regardless of the cost. Just how high will the cost be?

Buy it here:

Connect with Lilo:

SOCIAL NETWORKS
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lilojabernathy
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lilo_Abernathy
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7789942.Lilo_Abernathy
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/liloabernathy/

SITE AND BLOG
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/lilojabernathy/home
Blog: http://lilojabernathy.blogspot.com/

Please support Independent Authors

 

As Always – Thank you for reading

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My Thoughts About Marketing for Independent Authors

My friend Becky and I seem to have this running “discussion” about marketing our books. She recently shared her thoughts on the matter in this blog post, to which I added a brief comment.

Then I decided a more lengthy response was in order…so here we are.

My Thoughts About Marketing for Independent Authors

Step 1; Write the book

Seems pretty self-explanatory and definitely obvious so we won’t go into any detail about it, other than to say if you ever want sell a book, it’s the only place to start (plagiarism notwithstanding).

Step 2; Sell the book

This is where many authors drop the ball.

In fact, when I released my first novel, Living the Dream, way back in the day, I made the very mistake(s) I’m about to tell you to avoid – so pay attention, because I’m speaking from experience.

First, let’s start with some assumptions;

Assumption number 1 – you didn’t write your novel for fun.

This is not to say you didn’t have fun writing it, I’m sure you did (editing – that’s a different story!). No, what I mean is that your ultimate goal was to sell books.

I wrote a blog post about this very topic a while ago (Do We Write for Love or Money?)

There may be some who are insulted by the concept of producing any form of art for money, but as Dr. Samuel Johnson said ““No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Let’s face it, you spent months, maybe years, writing that book…did you do all that work just so it could take up space on your hard drive? If so, you can stop reading and go do something else…there’s nothing for you here.

Assumption number 2 – you don’t have a publicist or a PR firm at your disposal.

I once entertained the thought of hiring a publicist – until he told me how much his services would cost. I don’t remember the exact amount, but it was far too expensive…especially when he wouldn’t promise me any results. I was of the opinion that if you’re going to charge me hundreds of dollars to increase my sales, you should at least promise me tangible results, or, at the very least, work on strict commission.

He didn’t share that attitude.

Assumption number 3 – you get tired of people asking you if you’re making money yet, and you’re even more tired of telling them that you aren’t.

This can be very annoying, and somewhat demoralizing for independent authors. When people learn that you write books the conversation usually goes from “Wow, you’re an author? That’s cool!” to “Are you making any money?” pretty quickly.

Not that they’re trying to be rude or inconsiderate, they’re usually just curious.

And of course we try to find creative ways to answer, like “I’m not getting rich, but it’s getting better.

 

The take-away from this is that you need to sell your book.

I’m no expert. I can’t tell you that doing this, that or the other thing will result in a sudden influx of cash. If I could, I’d be writing this from my yacht. What I can offer are a few tips of what NOT to do and a couple of suggestions that might help you a little bit.

First – some do’s:

Do:

  • Be aggressive. How aggressive is up to you. I like to strike a balance that is not too passive, but not obnoxiously aggressive either. I’m still experimenting.
  • Be supportive of other authors. The independent author community is huge, and growing every day. Mutual support helps all of us. If you can’t buy books by other authors, at least help promote them – they will usually reciprocate.
  • Utilize social media. Things like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, blogging, etc are FREE and provide access to millions of people. Take advantage of it (again, I’m still experimenting with different methods, but it works). (Side note: some people seem to get offended by “paid promotions” on facebook – but I use them. Once or twice a month I create a “buy my book” post and pay to promote it. I never pay more than $10 and it reaches a few thousand extra people. In my mind…it’s $10 well spent. Of course you can spend hundreds if you want…I don’t want.)
  • Block out time for marketing. Writing time is precious for all of us, especially if you have a day job, but it’s critical to save time for your due diligence. Believe it or not, I probably spend 2 hours on marketing for every hour I spend writing…maybe more.
  • Steal ideas. That’s right, I said it. If you see another author doing something to sell books that you think might work for you, it’s okay for you to do it too. Hey, there’s more than one commercial during the Super Bowl, right?
  • Monitor your sales on Amazon. If you don’t know how to do this…find out. It’s easy and it’s the only way to figure out what is working and what isn’t.
  • If something isn’t working, stop doing it. Pretty simple. Try a new promo idea…run with it for a week or two, while monitoring your sales numbers. If you don’t see results, move on.
  • Remember – the only stupid idea is one you don’t try. Getting your book cover tattooed on your butt and posting the picture on Pinterest may seem idiotic, but you’ll never know until you try.

 

And now the don’ts:

Don’t:

  • Sit around waiting for your book to sell itself. Believe me, it won’t. Books are notoriously lazy.
  • Assume that what you’re doing is enough. Unless you are interviewing chauffeurs and body guards…keep pushing.
  • Do the same thing over and over. Marketing is a continually evolving endeavor – that’s why you don’t see the same TV commercials for Coke and Pepsi today that you saw when you were a kid (unless you’re 11).
  • Listen to the naysayers. There are people who will tell you that marketing is a waste of time. Ask them how many books they’re selling.
  • Be afraid. Remember the old saying…If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done. Maybe you’re shy and don’t want to get out there and sell yourself. Too bad – nobody is going to do it for you.
  • Be aloof. I don’t want to hear any of that “I’m an artist, not a salesman” crap. If you’ve ever gone on a job interview you were selling yourself – this is no different. Well, maybe a little different…but you went on that interview because you needed a job. Think of marketing the same way.
  • Pretend you don’t care if nobody reads your book. You do. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have finished it…or even started it for that matter. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your work with the world…warm up to that concept.
  • Believe me. Don’t take my word for any of this…find an author who sells a lot of books and ask them if I’m right or wrong (if I’m wrong, please let me know).
  • Give up. There is an audience for every book…keep going until you find yours.

 

I think that’s about all I have.

As I’ve said many, many times…I am no expert, but I have learned a few things in the past 5 years. Hopefully I can save you some time by imparting these nuggets to you.

Conversely – if you have any tips for me – lay them on me—I am definitely not too proud to listen to your advice.

 

Oh – one more thing…my newest book, Eyewitness Blues is now available in paperback and digital formats…buy it! (too pushy?)

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Support Your Local Independent Author

I wanted to open this post with a video.

It would have been about 90 seconds long, but so agonizingly painful to watch it would have seemed like an hour.

A mournful voice moans over a lonely acoustic guitar…fade in…your favorite Independent Author sits at his/her desk. Their clothes look like they’ve been slept in. The desk is littered with papers, fast food wrappers, an overflowing ashtray and a two-day-old cup of coffee.

If it’s a man – he hasn’t shaved in three days – if female, her hair would need to be primped for an hour to look as good as bed-head. Their eyes plead with you for rescue.

The image dissolves into pictures of other authors in similar states of down-trodden-ness…the voice of a familiar actor speaks;

“Every year thousands of Independent Authors spend countless hours in front of their computers, forsaking their families, their health and their hygiene in an attempt to bring you that next book—to give you a piece of themselves. You are the one they live to please, you are the one they will lose sleep for and you are the one they think about when trying to decide which word will fit the best.”

The voice goes on and on until you just can’t stand to watch or listen anymore and you switch to another website where you can see the latest viral images of sidewalk art or lol-cats.

I wanted to make that video, but I lacked a couple of key ingredients…including, but not limited to the equipment, the talent and the money.

That means I’ll have to deliver the message of this post in words. Hopefully I’ll be able to tug at your heartstrings sufficiently before you decide to surf the web for the latest meme.

I’d like to talk to you on behalf of your favorite Independent Author.

The reason for this post came after a recent conversation with one of my readers. It’s a conversation I have quite often, as I’m sure the writer in your life does.

My friend asked me how my book sales were going. I gave my usual answer…”I haven’t been able to quit my job, yet.”

We laughed (because it’s true) and then my friend said she was surprised my books hadn’t caught on yet since she enjoyed them so much, as did all of her friends. She then encouraged me to hang in there because it was most certainly only a matter of time. Then she said something that I’m sure was said with great sincerity.

“I wish I could help you.”

I told her not to worry; things were getting better all the time. It wasn’t until later that I realized what I should have said—and I’m sure your favorite Indie Writer would like to say the same thing to you…

You CAN help!

In fact – you are our best shot.

The vast majority of Indie Authors usually face a monthly choice between spending money on marketing or some other nicety…like food or gas. We don’t have big PR firms securing shelf space for us at BAM, we sell books out of the trunks of our cars (when we have enough gas).

But what can you do to help? I’m glad you asked.

You’d be surprised at how easily you can help – for example…

Buy the books (sort of a no-brainer)

Obviously, the best way to help is to buy our books. If you don’t want to read it, give it away as a gift. Every sale helps more than you can imagine.

Give Us Feedback

Be honest with us, it’s what we want. Don’t be afraid to hurt our feelings – we’d rather have a friend tell us that our protagonist is a wimp than learn it through abysmal sales.

Ask Us About Other Writers

Chances are we know lots of other writers, from a wide range of genres. If you’re looking for a good horror writer or a new romance novel ask us, it’s like a free dating service – we’ll match you to the writer of your dreams.

Ask the Library/Bookstore

The next time you go to the library or bookstore, ask them if they carry our books. Suggest they contact us to secure copies and tell them you’re sure we’d be more than happy to do a signing (trust me – we would).

And perhaps the most important – and easiest thing you can do…

Tell People

Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers. Spread the word in person and on-line. If your fave writer posts about a release on facebook, share it. If it’s a tweet about an appearance, re-tweet it. Then encourage your friends and followers to do the same.

There used to be a shampoo commercial about telling your friends. It was the perfect illustration of viral networking  – 30 years before the internet.

It started with the image of a single woman, then it doubled to two images because she told a friend, then those two each told two friends and it went to six images. When those six each told two it went to eighteen and so on, and so on, and so on…

That’s how easy it is.

Every time you tell somebody, encourage them to tell people.

After a share or re-tweet – remind people to do the same.

Word of mouth is the absolute best marketing medium available to Independent Authors – and you never know where the message will end up. Your co-worker may have a hair dresser who cuts the hair of a man whose son went to high school with a girl who is now married to a limo driver in Hollywood who talks to movie stars and directors on a regular basis.

Well…that may be a little far-fetched – but you get the point.

Support Independent Authors – You’re our best chance!

(Obviously your first assignment is to share this blog post)

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