Archives for posts with tag: self-publishing

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I am constantly amazed at how many errors there are in my manuscripts.

And I don’t mean the first draft.

Nothing is more frustrating for me than finding errors in my books, or worse, having others point them out. As well as being patently unprofessional I feel it shows a lack of respect for the work, not to mention the reader. I suppose this could be resolved by hiring a professional copy editor.

Bookbaby’s Copy Editing services include, “A word-by-word edit that addresses grammar, usage, and consistency issues.” My soon-to-be-released novella, Cold-Blooded, The Mattie Saunders Series Book II, is about 100 pages and would cost $700.00 to have it copy edited by Bookbaby

If I sell the e-book edition of Cold-Blooded for $3.99 on Amazon my royalty will be $1.40, which means I’d have to sell 500 copies to pay for the copy editing alone (in my dreams). So I’d rather recruit non-professionals who are committed to making my work error free.

Beta readers can be anyone, though I tend to shy away from friends and absolutely won’t use family. I’m not asking them to review or comment on the story (though I don’t discourage it), just read it and make note of the errors. Right now I have two who had previously reviewed my books (favourably). I contacted them to see if they’d like to beta-read my new works. The other one is a friend. None are professionals and they all do it for a free copy of the finished book with their name on the acknowledgements page.

Prior to sending the manuscript to my beta readers, I’ve developed a process to make it as error-free as possible.

1. Each time I sit down to write I re-read and revise what I wrote during the previous session.

2. After I finish a rough draft I revise it thoroughly, then let it rest.

3. After I’ve got the story out of my system, which means I no longer have instant recall for each line written (minimum three months), I pull it out and revise it again with fresh eyes.

4. Then comes the computer spell-check.

Then I send it out to my three beta readers.

I used to be pretty confident once I’d done all that I’d caught at least most of the typos and filled in the dropped words, but it’s embarrassing how many errors they still find, and it’s also remarkable how what one misses the other catches.

Once they get back to me I do the corrections which entails another revision. Finally, uploading it to Smashwords, Kindle and Draft2Digital gives me another opportunity to check it since I always do a visual review for formatting glitches.

I strongly urge other indie authors to begin recruiting beta readers – from your email list, through your website, on social media, a supportive friend, a note pinned on the bulletin board in the local library, or like I’m doing here in a  blog (see below). You simply cannot have too many and they tend to fall away.

If you’re patient, methodical and persevere you can self-publish a respectable, error-free (fingers crossed) book.

Besides, there are no guarantees a professionally edited, self-publish book will have any more success than one that is carefully vetted by a group amateurs committed to making your work the best it can be.

Plus you’ll save a lot of money.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

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If you’d like to become a beta reader and have an opportunity to read (and improve) my new work free, please send me an email at rod_raglin@yahoo.com

 

Web links associated with this article:

Bookbaby Editing Services https://www.bookbaby.com/book-editing-services

Kindle Direct Publishing https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US

Draft2Digital https://www.draft2digital.com

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com

Rod Raglin’s Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1638581/post

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I recently received an promotional email (no personalized salutation) from an indie author saying she noticed I’d reviewed a book similar to one she had just written and if she sent me a free e-pub edition would I be interested in reviewing hers?

What interested me was how she went about selecting reviewers? It must be an onerous task to go through reviewers on Amazon, even after applying the appropriate filters in regards to genre, and extract their emails. And once you have them there is no guarantee they’re going to review your book, or for that matter give you a good review.

So I agreed to review her book on the condition she tell me how she got my email address and any other tips she might have on marketing. To sweeten the deal I even purchased her book, very uncharacteristic for me.

She responded favorably and has been very forthcoming. Here’s what she has undertaken so far in producing and marketing her novel.

She says she wrote this book, her second in a series, taking into consideration the requirements and preferences of traditional publishers because she thought she might approach agents and traditional publishers with it.

“In the end, after reading several articles and consulting with the other authors in my two writers’ groups, I decided that self-publishing is actually the better option. If you’re interested in my reasoning, let me know.”

I am interested and will be asking her why she’d turn down a traditional publisher to become a self-publisher? Her previous book was also self-published so it’s not like she switched.

So how did she come up with my name and email address and those of other reviewers?

The answer is she bought a Book Review Targeter app for $200 (lots are available on the internet).

It works like this – you choose as many books as you want that you feel are similar to yours and receive what’s essentially an excel list of all the people who reviewed those books. The vast majority don’t have an email address but there are plenty that do.

So what to do with those email addresses?

She down loaded an app called Group Mailer because it makes sending out group emails easy.

So how is she doing?

“In about three days I’ve had about forty-five people agree to read and review a free version of the book and an additional twenty who declined the free copy and purchased the book to review it.”

Now that’s impressive, not the forty-five who agreed to review it, but the twenty who declined a free review copy and bought one. Who are these people?

She says she has another three or four lists (from additional similar books) she has yet process.

She’ll be running a 99¢ campaign for the e-book edition for two days on Amazon and one day free book promotions on Pretty-Hot Books and Discountbookman, spending ten dollars for a featured promotion on bookreadermagazine and running a giveaway on Goodreads.

She also has had no problem asking friends, colleagues and clients to buy her book and she anticipates reviews from about twenty percent of them.

She’s asked the other writers in her writers’ groups to share information about her book on their Facebook pages and has started looking for blogs to ask bloggers to mention it.

If that isn’t enough, and it probably isn’t, she’s considering spending $720 to have BookBub promote her book. BookBub claims the campaign will sell 2700 books, and the members in her writers’ groups unanimously support these stats saying they’ve received three times the return on their investment with such a promotion.

There’s a caveat here – BookBub only accepts professionally produced, error free books. They seldom accept new releases, preferring you have a proven track record with reviews. If you qualify be prepared to cut your price to the bone. Even if you want to promote with BookBub you may not make the grade.

To produce her book she hired two beta readers at $50 each and got a book cover artist from her writers’ group to design her cover for $65. No editor was needed as she just happens to be one herself.

So far her hard costs have been $375. Results are pending.

A lot of what she’s doing I’ve done:
– I have an Advance Reading Team e-mail list of a little over 200 who receive my new books free to stimulate buzz and encourage reviews.
– I have offered giveaway promotions on Goodreads, LibraryThing and BookLikes.
– I send a press release to local media offering them a book in return for a review
– I blog, and promote on Facebook and Twitter
– I have three beta readers who read my books free and are recognized on the book’s Acknowledgement Page.
– I edit my own books and design my own covers

Some of what she’s doing I’ll never do.

I have never solicited family, friends, colleagues or clients to buy my books. In my opinion it’s unprofessional. Besides I want my books to be bought because they’re well written and entertaining, not out some misguided obligation or as as way for someone to ingratiate themselves to me.

My hard costs on my last book were zero.

And so have the results.

Of course, there’s always the elephant in the room – the quality of the book.

I’m watching how this book launch does and hoping I can learn something. Maybe you will as well.

Speaking of book marketing…

CreatorCollabs Boosted Tweets
So out of the blue I get a promotional tweet about CreatorCollabs (CC) Boosted Tweets. Basically, post a tweet and share it on CC. Other CC users see your Tweet and share it with their online audiences. In-turn, you need to share content created by others to ensure your points stay high to continue to get access for your tweets.

There’s a free and paid plan. Of course, I used the free one.

For a week I loaded Tweets about my plays, Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope, available free on Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin until December 31, 2017. In return I retweeted content about the books of other authors.

They have a stats bar so you can check how many people you’re apparently reaching. Here’s the results of one of my tweets.
– The number of retweets my tweet received from my own twitter followers = 0.
– The number of retweets my tweet received through CreatorCollabs Community = 7
(increase 700%)
– Number of my followers my tweet reached = 50
– Number of followers my tweet reached through CreatorCollabs Community = 10,131
(Increase 20,262%)

Increase in books sales in response to this enormous increase in reach = 0
Increase in activity on my website and book sales platforms = negligible.

Just another case of nobody being interested in anyone (or their books) but themselves – including me.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

Web addresses associated with this article:

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/home/overview.php
Book Reader Magazine http://bookreadermagazine.com/
Discount Book Man http://discountbookman.com/
Pretty-Hot.Com http://pretty-hot.com/
Groupmail http://group-mail.com/

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Author Amazon Page
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013287676486

 

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According to Michael Kozlowski, Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader, the leading news website devoted to digital publishing, e-books, and e-reader news I’m a bad writer.

How does he come to that conclusion? In his own words, You are only considered a real author if you can make your living solely from the book sales. If you can’t, you are merely a writer… the industry needs to define the good writers from the bad. The primary way we can do this is by sales figures; if authors make their living from publishing, they are often considered good writers.  Once we can define a good writer from a bad, we can start to segregate them.”

Which brings us to another of his suggestions, segregating self-published books according to sales.

“My suggestion is for all major online bookstores that take submitted indie content to create their own sections for self-published writers. These titles should not be listed side by side with the traditional press.  Indie titles should have their own dedicated sections until such time as they reach a certain threshold in sales. Once they can attain an arbitrary sales milestone, they are drafted to the big leagues and listed in the main bookstore.”

Why, you ask, does Kozlowski think this is necessary?

“There are a copious number of online self-publishing companies that promise aspiring authors the opportunity to distribute their e-book all over the world. Millions of authors publish with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Draft2Digital, Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press and Smashwords. Most “authors” who self-publish an e-book never sell more than a handful and over seventy-five percent of all authors never earn a living through their writing.”

And the result of this plethora of self-published dreck (my word) is that “We live in a world full of terrible e-book titles that ruin e-book discovery and make it difficult to find a good book. It is no small wonder why e-book sales have plummeted in recent years.”

The comments on Kozlowski’s blog https://goodereader.com/blog/author/michael-kozlowski on this topic are mostly specious in that they don’t respond to the problem he’s addressing. They range from outright denial to dismissing his ideas because there’s a typo in his text. As one who actually reads and reviews the work of unknown, randomly selected indie authors I’d have to agree with his assessment and his solution.

When I decided to write fiction about ten years ago I had about forty years of journalism as a formative base. But even though I’d written hundreds of thousands of words up to that point it, fiction was a different style of writing. To learn how to write fiction I attended writer’s groups, joined online critique sites and read dozens of books and I continue to do so.

Writing fiction is a craft and it can be learned and mastered, to some degree, by learning the fundamentals and then practicing – a lot. It’s evident that the vast majority of the indie authors I’ve read haven’t even bothered to learn the basics and have spent no where near enough time practicing.

As Kozlowski says “Indie titles have no quality and control, often they are merely submitting a Word document to Amazon and clicking publish.”

Kozlowski’s not suggesting all self-published books are crap and all traditionally published books are classics, just that “there is some expectation of quality” in reading a traditionally published book”, and that’s definitely not the case with reading a self-published work.

From the beginning of my venture into writing and publishing fiction it became apparent to me the only way to measure success was with book sales. This is an industry of illusion and delusion and the majority those involved are, as Kozlowski suggested, subject to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

“Unskilled individuals that suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.”

I have come to accept that I am “inept” until my book sales prove otherwise.

Accordingly, I’m prepared to have all my books segregated in “dedicated sections until such time as they reach a certain threshold in sales. Once they can attain an arbitrary sales milestone, they are drafted to the big leagues and listed in the main bookstore.”

I’m sure there will be very good books that never attain that threshold (mine?) and I’m just as sure there will be those who, rather than hone their craft to the point they can write a good book, will find ways of attaining that threshold fraudulently.

However, this is a solution I am prepared to considered in hopes “the cream might rise to the top”.

If Kozlowski’s is right that by 2020, fifty percent of all digital books will be written by indie authors and that will account for 25,000 new titles a month being submitted to online bookstores than something, indeed, has to be done.

So just how many books would you need to sell to meet the threshold and advance to “the majors”?

Amazon has author and sales ranking graphs that are updated hourly. On Sept. 5, 2017, someone purchased one (1) e-book edition of my novel Saving Spirit Bear. That single sale boosted the novel’s ranking from 8,787,432 to 201, 692 an increase of 8,585,740 points. My author ranking subsequently increased 582,673 points from 825,278 to 242,605.

What do these numbers mean? I’d say a few sales a month and an indie author would be among the top 100,000 selling authors on Amazon. Would that get you into “the majors”?

Who cares, you’d still be making peanuts.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

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Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my eight novels and two plays at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, and discounts regarding my books

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013287676486&fref=comp

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

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This is my canned interview (you ask the questions and you answer them) on Smashwords, one of the self-publishing sites where my books are available https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin

Anyway, I finally updated it and thought you might want to take a look at it. It begins with this question:

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I became an indie author because I couldn’t get traditional publishers to publish my work.

That’s probably the reason most writers became indie authors.

I published my first novel, Saving Spirit Bear in 2010 with an E-publisher after my attempts with traditional publishing houses had failed. At that time E-Book publishers were on the rise, hungry for content and they were eager for at least two more books form me. Over the next two years they published Loving the Terrorist and Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients to complete my ECO-WARRIOR series.

Environmental fiction (Eco-fi) proved not to be a big seller with them, their catalogue being geared more to erotica, werewolves, vampires, and erotic werewolves and vampires. My stories were contemporary romances with a subplots that addressed an important environmental issue.

Since sales were not exactly stellar with my E-publisher and my contract with them was restrictive as to how I could promote these books I decided to investigate self-publishing for my next novel, The Big Picture – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic if my attempts at acquiring a traditional publisher failed.

They did, and so I became an indie author.

Since then I have self-published three more novels: Forest – Love, Loss, Legend, Abandoned Dreams and The Local Rag and two plays: Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope. When my contract ended with my E-publisher I yanked my first three novels and re-released them as self-published works. Have they done better? No, but they haven’t done worse and it’s been more fun.

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT BEING AN INDIE AUTHOR? Glad you asked. I can offer promotions, sales, giveaways – I have total control over marketing my work. No sales, but still total control. And I like the creative aspect of publishing – the page design, the cover design, choosing fonts, all that stuff.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT BEING AN INDIE AUTHOR? There are now too many of us and unfortunately most of us don’t write well, and that’s putting it mildly. So for you, the reader, it’s almost impossible to tell if an indie author is worth reading or just a waste of $3.99 (the price of my e-books). I know this because I make a point of reviewing the work of indie authors (see my YouTube channel Not Your Friend, Not Your Family Book Reviews)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

This is frustrating not only for you but for me and it’s only going to get worse. With no gatekeepers and so many sites making it easy for anyone to publish anything, self-published, indie authors have lost all credibility.

To be an indie author now is to be a joke.

This state of affairs has made me rethink my role as an author – indie or otherwise.

I love to write, I love the research that goes into developing my characters, plots and settings, but I also want to connect to readers. The likelihood of this happening, of making this connection with readers in any significant way for an indie author is virtually nil.

After seven years, and seven novels and two plays I’m going back to the old fashion way. I submitted my last manuscript, East Van Saturday Night – Four short stories and a Novella to a traditional publisher and am now waiting for a response. If I get rejected, and I likely will, I’ll send it to another one, and another one and so on.

I don’t need to self publish to enjoy the writing and the research and this method of getting my work out there is not fulfilling my other need – connecting to you, the reader, in a meaningful way.

So it’s back to the future for this author.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

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Smashwords 2017 Read an E-book Week Promotion

March 5 to 11

Thousands of free and discounted E-books

Authors and Publishers enroll now at

https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos

Promotional catalogue at

https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1)

My free E-book as part of the promotion, FOREST – Love, Loss, Legend

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515038

Other discounts from my bibliography at

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin

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I want you to take a look at some research I’ve done and see if you come to the same conclusion I do.

Lets start with two novels I reviewed that are written by local Vancouver authors.

The first is The Continuation of Love by Other Means by Claudia Casper.

It has one, two-star review on Amazon.com, which I wrote, and two reviews on Amazon.ca, one of which is also mine, averaging three stars.

Lucky by Kathryn Para, the winner of the second search for the Great BC Novel, has two reviews on Amazon.ca, one mine and one that appears to be by a personal friend who “visited her at home”. The average is four stars. On Amazon.com Lucky has five reviews (including mine) for an average of four stars.

Not so stellar I’m thinking when you compare them to my latest novel, The Local Rag which has seven reviews on Amazon.com (none of which I wrote, paid for, or pleaded with friends to review) for an average of four stars, and one on Amazon.ca of five stars.

So how come both these women are getting paid reading gigs and interviews with main stream media and I’m getting nothing?

Upon further investigation I discovered local poets who are garnering the same acclaim with the local literati but zero with Amazon reviewers. Some didn’t even have their books available on Amazon or at the VPL.

I’m not disparaging these other local writers and I’m happy for their success, even though it would appear, at least on Amazon, that my latest book is more popular then theirs.

So what’s the difference between them and me?

One thing. They all have traditional publishers.

Sure, their publisher may be some small press operating from a barn just north of Nowhere, Saskatchewan, but these authors didn’t self publish. One way or another they got their manuscript accepted and published by a bona fide (?) Canadian publisher who’s likely getting significant grants from the Canadian government just for existing.

I’ve traveled the submissions route before and it’s like living in suspended animation. You send out your manuscript and wait at least six months. By then maybe you’ve heard something, maybe not. You decide to continue to wait or accept that the recipient of your work is not even gracious enough to let you know they threw your manuscript in the garbage, and you move on.

You have no idea what’s going on, you have no control over the process. You are, in a word, powerless. No wonder so many authors choose to self-publish their work.

Unfortunately, you’re very, very unlikely to receive any critical acclaim if you follow the self-publishing path and that’s because there’s a stigma attached to self-published books and regrettably it’s deserved.

With the increasing ease of self-publishing and the complete lack of gatekeepers self-published books have become an anathema to the serious writer. It’s estimated Amazon carries 37 million self-published titles, up 438% since 2008. Most of these books are terrible or mediocre at best. Finding a well written, good story among all this dreck is near impossible and every one has come to realized it including credible publishers, agents, reviewers and even readers.

For me to self-publish another novel is futile. I’ll garner a handful of positive reader reviews, fewer sales and that’s it.

So I’m going back to researching potential publishers and submitting my manuscripts, the first being East Van Saturday Night, four short stories and a novella.

It’s deja vu all over again only this time I’m older (not necessarily a plus), smarter (at least in this arena) and a far better writer.

It’s time for real critical acclaim and credibility as a writer – or not.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

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Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

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So how was your year in writing? Mine was, as always, interesting though not commercially successful.

I’ll list my publishing credits for 2016 at the end of this blog that way you can skip them if you like.

I’d rather talk about what worked and more often what didn’t. I want to tell you what I learned and how I feel about it. Perhaps by the end of this accounting a way to move forward will become evident – a more positive, less frustrating one.

To complete and self publish two novels, as well as resurrecting and self-publishing two plays means, if nothing else, that I’ve been busy. I’ve also tried to keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry including the new publishing platforms and book marketing techniques.

After the launch of The Local Rag in October, I once again revisited that dark place, the one where I feel the only way I’ll achieve publishing success is by divine intervention and how likely is that for someone as undeserving as me?

I had used every iota of publishing savvy I had gleaned from a myriad of sources and, though more successful than previous launches, it came up short – way short.

To continue what I was doing and expecting a different result, well, that’s a definition of insanity, or at least severe delusion.

The only thing I had yet to attempt that is highly touted by the book marketing gurus is the internet connection – becoming chummy with groups of writers and readers online. The theory is if you’re sincere and share something of yourself a relationship will bloom and from relationships evolve all good things, right? Anyhow,  you get the picture.

What did I have to lose? Say again, what did I have to lose?

Nothing. All, right maybe dignity, but how bad could it be?

Goodreads is a big proponent of the benefit of participating in groups. I joined three; two were dead and the few active members of the one that was functioning were so ostentatious I couldn’t stand it.

Internet group snobs – who’d have known.

I registered with Amazon’s Write on, “a place for all the people who make great writing happen. Here, you can get support and provide feedback at every stage of the creative process.

Very quickly it becomes apparent this site is populated primarily by new writers – very new writers, many whom have no desire to go further. They write their stories, post them on the site and receive positive, if specious, comments that feed their delusion.

Go deeper into the site and there are some very toxic groups – interesting but not illuminating.

Then there’s Wattpad and Inkitt.

Both these sites are primarily populated by teenagers – seriously. However, moving forward with the “what have I got to lose” attitude I decided to participate.

I began writing a story for the target audience just to see what kind of response I’d get. It’s actually been fun, submitting chapters and seeing how many hits you get – not many. Here’s the link to The Rocker and the Bird Girl.

https://www.inkitt.com/stories/romance/85760?ref=a_f0008a76-bbb3-4b9e-b291-bd01bbc0e8ce&utm_source=share_author_reminder

I also contributed mini reviews for a number of works posted on Inkitt. It’s safe to say very few writers on this site understand the basic structure of a story – though some have been less hostile than others in regards to learning about it.

This sojourn into internet socialization has been exhausting and fruitless. My time is better spent trying to sustain my Advance Reading Team e-mail list which seems to diminish with every campaign I send out – a disturbing trend.

You can help bolster it by signing up if you like and get free e-books, discounts and interesting links to other writing stuff from time to time. Click here to sign up.

http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

In 2017 I’ll focus on East Van Saturday Night – four short stories and a novella, currently being considered by a traditional publisher, and re-releasing under my own name Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients, the third book in the Eco-Warrior Series, when my publisher finally relinquishes the rights.

I currently have two works in progress that are introducing me to fascinating characters including an asexual politician, a passionate ornithology student and a ass-kicking rock guitarist who studied at Juilliard. I’m learning new things and visiting exotic places.

And they say a writer’s life is lonely.

Achievements (?) in 2016

Self-published Abandoned Dreams (March 22)

Resurrected and self-published two plays, Harry’s Truth (July 15) and End of The Rope (August 16)

Self-published The Local Rag (October 8)

Read and reviewed 12 books

Wrote and posted 34 blogs

 

Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs

30

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

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How I came to write my sixth novel, Abandoned Dreams

Son or daughter, sibling, spouse, parent, employee, employer – these are just some of the roles we have either been born into, had bestowed upon by us by others or have even sought out for ourselves.

But do these roles, these facades really represent the person we are – our hopes, dreams, fears, and insecurities. In accepting these roles are we masking our real personalities – intentionally or otherwise.

Sometimes roles are thrust upon us because of circumstances or our own mistaken actions.

When I was eighteen my best friend got his girlfriend pregnant. Today you would say my best friend and his girlfriend got pregnant, but back then it was different. Quickly, and not necessarily of his own choosing he took on the roles of husband and father.

This is a theme that has haunted me for a long time and one I took on in my sixth novel Abandoned Dreams. Here’s the story:

At twenty-seven years-old, George Fairweather is “the voice of his generation”, a poet whose talent has garnered him accolades from the literary establishment and homage from the disenfranchised “hippie” youth of the late 1960’s.

George is the embodiment of the times with his long hair, rebellious attitude and regular use of mind-expanding psychedelic drugs.

Then the sudden and tragic death of Fallon, his friend, his muse and his lover shatters his world, his sanity and nearly ends his life.

Katherine is the one person who stands between George and destruction. A hanger-on, a groupie, a go-for, she’s a woman George never considered – for anything. Katherine idolizes George and makes it her personal mission to keep him alive, doing whatever it takes, twenty-four seven.

Because of Katherine’s sacrifice and devotion George slowly begins to mend his soul and rebuild a life. But guilt and gratitude make it a much different life then he’d previously led.

Thirty-seven years later, George Fairweather is a husband, father and grandfather and a successful copywriter at an advertising agency. Another death, his wife Katherine’s, is about to change his life again.

Can dreams be resurrected? Can a life abandoned be taken up again?

Will they let him? Is it worth it?

I wanted a challenge with novel. I wanted to stretch myself as a writer. Because of the nature of plot I decided that the narrative would almost entirely be told by people other than the protagonist, George Fairweather. I wanted George to be an enigma. Different characters would see him differently depending on the role they cast him in – father, grandfather, lover, friend.

In the end, his true personality would emerge – or not. I wasn’t sure.

I wanted to present a scene and then have different characters interact and reflect on it in their own voice. To achieve this I needed to develop deep character profiles apart from the novel.

The characters I created were complex and multi-dimensional as well as being different ages and genders and having different motivations.

Then I outlined the plot, dropped them in and hung on.

Abandoned Dreams apparently didn’t wake anyone up. It has garnered less response than any of my previous books – and that’s saying something.

 Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

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Visit my Amazon Author Page for a list of my complete works, reviews and buy links at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

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This is my seventh novel, you’d think I should know something about launching one by now. Right?

Because I write this blog and facilitate creative writing circles I continue to read books and participate in webinars on book marketing hoping there’ll be something new I can pass on.

There isn’t.

There’s stats, graphs, media mixes and the occasional ridiculous suggestions like:

– include the title of all your books in the header photo of your various social media sites, and

– post photos of five covers of your books on your Facebook opening page – bottom left column below your intro.

As if this preaching to the converted (since they’re already on your site) will make a difference.

Currently, the Holy Grail of social media marketeers is “the e-mail list”.

Building the email list should be the primary objective of authors and this is done through giveaways, signups for your newsletter and any other way you can get a person to divulge their email address.

Then, if done right – right timing, content and frequency, these lists can apparently be mined for gold.

Without exception these social media marketeers, authors and webinar presenters all have their own marketing company and will be happy to further enlighten you with an online course or program (for a fee).

Armed with the experience of six previous launches and now buoyed with all this new(?) marketing information I set forth on October 1, 2016 to launch my seventh novel, The LOCAL RAG.

The first thing I did was to enroll my book in Kindle Scout, Amazon’s “reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com

There’s a forty-five day exclusive agreement stating you’re not selling your book while it’s part of the contest.

In essence this is an electronic slush pile, but it’s free and easy though it provides little indication if your book is popular since, like most internet polls, it can be easily skewed by nominees who rabidly recruit votes from everyone they’ve ever come in contact with.

Then I sent an email with a free Advance Reading Copy e-book.

For the first time I used MailChimp. They offer a free service for lists less than two thousand subscribers. I have two hundred and thirty-five emails from people who at one time or another expressed and interest in my writing. MailChimp is worth investigating and certainly beats sending individual emails.

https://www.mailchimp.com

I enrolled the e-book edition of The LOCAL RAG in Kindle Select. For a ninety day exclusive Kindle Select offers me greater royalties, wider distribution, participation in Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and the opportunity to offer my book free on Amazon for five days during that period. I chose five individual free days more or less spaced equally apart.

I’ve used this program for some launches and not for others. The results have been the same – zero.

https://kdp.amazon.com/select?ref_=kdp_BS_TN_se

By the end of the month I had sent out two follow-up emails urging people to vote for The LOCAL RAG on Kindle Scout and read and review my book.

Once the Kindle Scout promotion had expired (results pending but not holding my breath) I scheduled a giveaway from November 7th to December 4th on Goodreads for two paperback books, and on BookLikes and LibraryThing for the same duration for one hundred ebooks each.

http://goodreads.com/

http://booklikes.com/

http://librarything.com/

I set up a pre-order on Smashwords for January 7, 2017, ninety days out and once my commitment to Kindle Select is over. I’ll likely offer it for free for a couple of weeks just for exposure. Smashwords is another non-starter, but what the hell.

https://www.smashwords.com/

I’ve joined four Goodreads groups and will endeavor to engage in meaningful and civil discussions during the next three months as well. Social media gurus insist joining and participating in online groups will increase sales – at least indirectly. This by far is the most difficult and time consuming part of the launch.

My goal is to get at least ten reviews and sell at least fifty books within six months of the launch.

With about one month down I’ve so far received three reviews (all five stars) and no sales.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Stay calm, be brave watch for the signs.

 

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Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When it comes to my writing and friends and family I’ve established clear boundaries. Here they are:

– I don’t talk about my writing even if asked. Those enquiring are usually only doing so to be polite and aren’t really interested. In any case, listening to someone talk about their writing is profoundly boring – even for me and I’m a writer.

– I don’t solicit reviews or ratings from them. I try to avoid even the faintest hint of conflict of interest in the support and criticisms I get.

– I very rarely give them my books. If they’re interested they can buy one.

I once went to a birthday party  where a friend’s partner had rented a gallery and had a show professionally mounted of her paintings. Needless to say, most of those attending bought some of her art. She was thrilled.

This to me is not a measure of artistic merit. I didn’t buy anything,  in fact, I was surprised and not a little offended. This was hardly better than  a Tupperware party.

I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to take advantage of my friends and family. I don’t want to demean myself and my work.

The independent publishing industry is rife with nepotism, gimmicks, and chicanery – all geared toward reaching bestseller status. I don’t care if I’m a bestseller, but I do want to become a better writer. I think these practices prevent that from happening by creating a false sense of accomplishment.

You think you’re good, but your not. You’re delusional.

I don’t know if this stand has hurt my sales or not. If it has it hasn’t been significant because I’m just not that popular – with friends or family.

I’ve also developed guidelines for social media.

I don’t solicit followers on Twitter, don’t “friend” people on Facebook, and don’t appeal to viewers to “like” or “subscribe” to my YouTube channel.

I do encourage comments and criticisms which I faithfully respond to and hopefully learn something from.

Amazingly, some people chose to follow me which is gratifying because it definitely is not reciprocated.

I had one expert tell me “social media is not for you”. Really? Maybe just not her kind of social media, the kind where friends and followers are little more than meaningless numbers and bare no resemblance of reality.

I still believe a social media following can be built by someone who has something interesting and original to say regardless of whether he’s a friend, follower or subscriber.

Later this month I’ll be waiting with Linus in the pumpkin patch.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

30

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

 

 

Layout 1The Big Picture – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic, was the first novel I knew I would publish independently.

I wanted to explore a number issues and without the constrains of genre I had no idea where they would take me. I was excited.

I wanted to examine the creative process – and how the art and the artist are influenced by the marketplace.

I wanted to delve into the intensity of family dynamics – how wonderful it is when it works and how damaging it can be when it doesn’t.

I wanted complex characters and authentic relationships.

As a journalist, I’d covered stories that couldn’t be reported. I knew what was going on but I couldn’t get someone to go on (or off) the record to admit it. It was frustrating, but what could you do?

Well, you could use it in fiction. The plot of The Big Picture is comprised of some of those unsubstantiated stories and also my investigation into the influence of drug money on our lives .

To get at my protagonist’s inner journey I went deep inside myself, rooted around, and came forth with not so much the truth about a life I’ve experienced, but one I’d hoped (still hope) to live.

Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe said, “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” I wanted Freyja, my heroine, to be that person. I wanted to see where her blunt refusal to compromise and her intolerant attitude toward those who did would lead her.

Here’s what I came up with:

Young, talented, ambitious, Freyja Brynjarrson’s a photographer struggling to crash the art establishment, the challenges presented by her family, and still keep true to her uncompromising ethic.

Fate places her on the front line of a political demonstration where soldiers open fire on civilians. She photographs death for the first time and likes it.

Because of the sensitive nature of her pictures the current government, facing an imminent election, tries to suppress them. But someone far more unscrupulous than government spin-doctors also wants those images destroyed.

Gunnar Brynjarrson, Freyja’s eldest brother is the head of an illegal narcotics empire. He’s concerned about the opposition party’s platform to decriminalize drugs. His sister’s photographs could influence the outcome of a close election and put his business in jeopardy.

As events unfold, Freyja slowly becomes aware of the far-reaching impact the billions of narco dollars have on the government, the economy, friends, family and even herself. Something insidious has infected society and like a super bug it’s resilient, opportunistic and appears as a mutation in the most unexpected places.

Freyja refuses to compromise and is intolerant and unforgiving of those who succumb to this evil or are complicit in their acceptance of it. If she stays at home she’s afraid she’ll be infected and never attain success on her own terms.

She takes an assignment with an international agency photographing the chaos and casualties of Mexico’s drug war. Freyja soon discovers she’s shot only one frame of ‘the big picture’.

The Big Picture focuses on dramatic action, zooms in on political intrigue, and takes a candid snap shot of modern romance. The plot also reveals how narco dollars, overtly and covertly, influence every level of our lives; the wars we fight, the governments we elect, the impact on healthcare, and most importantly and tragically, our personal relationships.

When The Big Picture was finished I set about self-publishing it. I used Kindle Direct for the e-book and Createspace for the paperback, both Amazon platforms.

I know a little about publishing having been (and still am) a community newspaper publisher for nearly four decades. Mind you, with the speed technology is evolving past experience doesn’t count for much, if anything. In any case, I didn’t find the process that difficult. The most difficult part was, and still is, making sure my original manuscript is error free.

I loved this book. I did everything I could to promote it – used social media, sent out advance copies, ran giveaways, sent forth positive thoughts.

I allowed myself to hope. It was a mistake. The Big Picture was self-published without acclaim, reviews or sales. I was disappointed. I felt bad, not so much for myself as for the book. I felt I had let everyone down – meaning my characters.

I regrouped and focused on why I write – because I love to, to learn new things, and to pass my view of the world on to others. Two out of three – not too bad.

Upon reflection I realized The Big Picture had done no worse than the first three books I had published with a publisher. I enjoyed the independence of self-publishing – and the responsibility. So when it became time to renew the contracts with my publisher I said I would if they would publish all the books as paperbacks. We compromised – they published Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients and I yanked the other two books, Spirit Bear and Eagleridge Bluffs.

I subsequently self-published and released Spirit Bear as Saving Spirit Bear – What Price Success, and Eagleridge Bluffs as Loving the Terrorists – Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs. My re-released books have fared no worse than the one remaining on the publisher’s list, all have done terrible.

Next month I’ll retain the rights of my last book under contract and plan to re-release it as a self-published book as well.

The next novel I wrote, Forest – Love, Loss, Legend came out of the residuals of the previous one – war, drugs, and murder combined with my love of the wilderness – it’s splendor and it’s mystery.

 

For more information on all my books and plays visit my Amazon Author Page at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

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