Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Flyer

One of the hardest things about indie publishing is advertising and promotion. I like to write. I don't like marketing. (It's a good thing that I was never a salesgirl; I would've said to a customer, "Are you sure that you can afford to buy the shoes that match the outfit?") But if you're indie published, you are your own marketing department.

The question I keep asking myself is how do I reach readers. I've done interviews, social media, GoodReads, book blogs, etc. But those appear to be reaching other writers (which isn't bad because they're great readers). How do I reach people who don't write?

Amazon used to do more to promote new indie books (three months of promotion), but they've changed their policy to one month. Plus, there are so many indie books now that it's tough to not be relegated to a dark nook in the virtual bookstore.

So I'm trying to think of other ways to market my book. My latest attempt is a flyer. Here's what my Art Department (the amazing graphic artist Tara Rimondi at tararimondi.com) put together.

So now I'm busy trying to find places that will let me put up my flyers. It's harder than I thought. Most community bulletin boards only allow you to put up flyers that advertise things that are free. (I think 99 cents is close, but apparently not close enough.) So far, WalMart said "no." The public library said "maybe." Starbucks said "yes," but I think that's only because the manager wasn't there. My son Luke is putting some up at the university where he's a student. Anyway, I'll let you know if the flyers are successful in reaching non-writing readers. And if you have any suggestions about where I can put up the flyers, I'd love to hear them.

BTW, many thanks to Matthew who transformed the flyer file into something blogger would read.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Revising: A Dark Treasure Hunt

I’m in the middle of the big revision of the sequel. And I’m having a great time when I’m not anxious. In the past, I’ve described writing as riding a rollercoaster. Revisions don’t have the same ups and downs, they’re more like a treasure hunt.

I have to fill in the text with plot baubles. Pretty little bits that fill out the setting, which is especially important in books that take place in the past. Readers want to know the exotic details—what weird foods are there, how would people dress, what are the sights and sounds on the street? Of course, the most important thing is to make these baubles integral to the text; otherwise, they’re not much more than footnotes to the story. In other words, these baubles must become more than pretty trinkets because readers want to be transported to another time and place. And while historical fiction addresses this desire, I think time travel books add a layer—what would it be like for me (a modern person) to be there.

But before you think that the plot treasure hunt is all fun and games, I must tell you that it’s a dark treasure hunt. Dark because I’m not alone. There are stalkers. Black clothed thought figures who hunt me while I’m on the treasure hunt. They exist in my mind, in thoughts that say, “What if you can’t figure out a way to fix this.” They stalk my courage. Always taunting me, until I fix the plot problem. Then I turn and fire on a stalker, nailing it in the chest and watching it explode into dust and blow away.  Afterwards, I blow away the smoke that clings to the nose of my revolver.

Another one bites the dust. Lock and load, baby.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wonders of the Ancient World

I finished my read through of the rough draft of the Screwing Up Time sequel. Today, I’ll be digging into the text editing and revising. I’ve decided to give you a small hint about the sequel. Part of the novel will take place at one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I hope that whets your appetite.

I’ve also decided to start a short story involving some of the characters from Screwing Up Time, and I hope to have it finished and available by Christmas. The short story will be set in the period of time between the first book and the sequel.

Here’s photo of the sequel after my first read through. You can see, tons of work to be done.

I also have a brand new Facebook Author page. And if you're interested in reading about "head in a bag plot devices" or why allergies are really the result of viruses created by pharmaceutical companies, visit my other blog, A Merry Heart.

Also, several friends of the blog have recently published e-books. Check them out. (If you have an YA or middle grade e-book you’d like me to mention, email me.)


Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl


Beyond the Land of Narnia by Joyce McPherson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writer's Bubble

A lot of people work from home, writers especially. And most writers, like me, don’t have a designated office. I’m lucky, I have a small desk.  In the kitchen. Not the most likely place for quiet. I’ve always written in the kitchen—it’s easier to make sure no one burns down the house when you’re nearby.

Non-writers ask how do you do it. How do you write without quiet time? (I homeschooled my kids, so there was never any quiet time when they were “away.”) And though two of my kids are in college now and one is taking dual enrollment classes, they still live at home—noise and chaos still reign. The writers’ secret is the bubble. Though other writers call it other things. It’s an enveloping creativity that isolates you from the rest of the world. My kids made up the term “bubble.” They use it like this, “Mom’s in her bubble. She’s gone.” And that’s what it’s like. I am physically present, but my mind is wholly in my novel. I’m seeing and hearing people that exist only in the confines of my imagination.

So the bubble is great for writing. It’s not so great for being a mom. When my children were little, they took full advantage of it. For example, I’d emerge from the bubble to find myself dripping sweat in January. I’d check the thermostat. It was set at ninety. When I asked my minions who’d changed the thermostat from my favored setting of 67, Jacob said, “I asked you if I could turn up the temperature to 90, and you said yes.” The downside of the bubble. When I’m in the bubble, I apparently (I’m still highly suspicious about this because I have no memory of any of these conversations) give permission for all kinds of ridiculous things. Yes, you may play computer games for the rest of your life. Yes, you may gorge yourself on candy until your face turns green. Yes, you may watch DVDs until your eyeballs melt.

Obviously, this is why I work near the kitchen. My hope is working there was if I ever gave the children permission to start a fire on the stove (don’t laugh, Jacob once told me he was building a bomb—he was little, but still), I’d be there to douse the fire with an extinguisher. But the niggling thought in the back of my mind was “What if I didn’t notice?” I’d love to explain that to the fire chief.
He’d say, “Mrs. Keller, do you know anything about the fire?”

I’d say, “Uh, yes, I was in the kitchen and didn’t notice that the children were playing with matches and torches, re-enacting scenes from National Treasure.”

He’d say, “They told me that you gave them permission.”

I’d say, “Oh. Really?”

I’m so glad that my children made it to adulthood in one piece. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Editing, Part 2

Once I got all my gear together, I started editing SUT the sequel. (Yes, it has a title. But I’m not ready to release it yet because it has a spoiler in it.) I’m about 30 pages into the edit. Which may not sound like a lot, but it is. The first chapter takes lots and lots of work. And the second chapter too. So I’m making good progress, and I really, really hope the book will be ready by summer. Maybe sooner.

I hope you’re not pulling out your hair because I said the word “summer.” This edit won’t be the last one. Usually I do a big edit—the first one—where I fill all the plot holes. For example, I left two characters stranded in the first draft, so I have to rescue them. (I’m sure they’re irritated and will let me know when I get to them.) After the major edit, I’ll do a second edit to polish up the voice—so that it really sounds like Mark who’s telling the story and not me.

Then, I’ll send the book to beta readers. Beta readers are often other writers (not always though) who read the novel and give me feedback on what they think needs work. Then, I’ll make the changes they suggest. And then, I’ll give the book another edit.

After that, assuming it doesn’t need another edit, I’ll proofread it from beginning to end—with the Chicago Manual of Style next to me, so that I can look up any grammar fine points that I’m not 100% sure of. Then, I’ll proofread it one more time—from end to beginning. In other words, I’ll read the last chapter first. Then the second to the last chapter and so on until I reach the first chapter. You see, it’s really easy for the writer to get caught up in the story too. And then we miss things. I don’t want a book with errors that has my name on it. And it’s not just because my name is on it. But whenever there is an error whether it’s grammar or otherwise, it pulls the reader out of the story. More than anything else, I want you to get lost in the story.

I’ll wrap it up here—a chapter is calling my name. Time to edit.

BTW, for those of you who are writers, I did a post on "Writing Style" here