June 28, 2012

How to send books to your kindle or kindle app!

I get asked this question all the time because I tend to send people direct Kindle versions of my books when they're reviewing them, reading them, etc. 

But no one ever knows how to send the book to their kindle device, or their kindle app.  I've written it all down for you- so here goes!  :)

  1. Go to amazon and log in
  2. Click on YOUR ACCOUNT
  3. Click on MANAGE YOUR KINDLE
  4. On the left hand side, there is a list of options.. click MANAGE YOUR DEVICE
  5. Your kindle email address will show up in the center of the screen (or towards the right hand side if it's the kindle app for your cell phone, ipad, etc)!
  6. Click on the link under your kindle email address that says "manage your personal documents" 
  7. Then add your personal email address in the "Approved Personal Document E-mail List".. you can add any email address you want your kindle to be able to get email from. For example, my kindle gets email from my personal email and from kindlegraph. This helps stop spam and other icky stuff from getting on your kindle.   
    NOW you can send documents, ebooks, pdf files, etc! :) PHEW! sounds like a lot, but it's super easy, promise!
So whenever an author, like myself, sends you a MOBI file of a book, you just need to save it on your computer and then email it to your kindle/kindle app!  It will show right up. It's the coolest thing. 

Alright y'all, have a great weekend!  I'm about to head to So Cal. I'll think of you while i'm lying on the beaches of Malibu looking at all the beauty and hotness that is Southern California.  :)  xoxo


June 26, 2012

So you want to self publish?

First of all, let me say to you... GOOD!  AWESOME!  EXCITING!!!!!

I'm excited when anyone tells me that they've always had a dream to do something and they are taking the steps to actually FOLLOW.THAT.DREAM.  :) 

If you've always wanted to write- there is no better time than now to do it! We don't need agents. We don't need publishers. We just need the internet and we can publish our own books!!! So freaking cool. And there is enough room out there for all of us. There are tons of readers with all different styles, tastes, preferences, etc- it's not a competition... because there is nothing to compete over. It's not like someone reads one and only one book for the rest of their life. Right?  Right.

So you want to self publish and you're totally overwhelmed because you're like... NOW WHAT?  I'll tell you all the questions I get fairly often, and then i'll answer them the best I can- and with my experience only.  :)  Ready?  Course you are.

Did you make paperbacks of your books, or only E-books? What should I do?
I did both formats. Mostly because I didn't have an e-reader (kindle, nook, ipad, kobo) at the time and I was still reading paperbacks. And because I wanted a physical copy of my book. There was no way I was writing a book and not having it on my bookshelf!

I use Createspace for my paperbacks. I researched a lot of other sites and createspace was my favorite. They are super easy to use. They have templates for all your formatting needs in whatever book size you choose. And they let you order as many or as few copies of your books as you want. Their cost is reasonable and they have distribution through their own online stores, amazon, barnes & noble, libraries, etc. My only gripe with them is the cost and time of shipping (meaning it's expensive to ship and it takes a long time). But otherwise, my books always come looking beautiful and i've been very happy with them.  :)

You should 100% make an e-book, but whether or not you want to offer paperbacks is up to you. I will say that the only people who bought my paperbacks in the beginning stages of my career were my friends and family. But it was nice to have copies for things like bloggers, giveaways, auctions, donations, libraries, and readers who have been amazing!! Even in the age of E-Readers, people still like getting a signed paperback in the mail!  :)

Is it hard to format everything? How do I do it?
It is not hard to format everything. It's a pain in the ass, but it's not hard. It's time consuming, but it's not hard. It will make you want to throw your head into a brick wall sometimes, but it's not hard.  Each site requires a different way of formatting. You have to check with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc for their requirements. 

Or you can go to Smashwords and if you are graced by the smashwords gods and you actually format your ebook properly, they will distribute to ALL the internet book selling sites for you. I like smashwords a lot for it's convenience, but it's formatting drives people to jump off bridges.

If you don't have the patience for Smashwords or you can't seem to get it right, I'd suggest you upload to Amazon and iBooks and call it a day. If you only want to choose one online site for your book- simply choose Amazon. They are by far the e-book sales leader, but why would you limit yourself to only one retailer? I personally, would never suggest that. Put yourself on as many sales sites as possible.

Will you read my book and give me feedback?
I read a lot. I read a ton of Indie author's books. Why? Because I love them. Because I love supporting them and reading good stories written by awesome people. And when I'm not reading someone else's book, I'm writing my own. And being a mom. I simply don't have the time to read your book. But you should find some beta readers (people who will read your book and tell you anything that didn't work for them, story inconsistencies, etc). Yes, your beta readers can be friends or family, but they need to be able to provide you with HONEST feedback. They shouldn't be afraid to hurt your feelings. And trust me when I tell you that your feelings will get hurt because it's really hard to hear criticism of your work. But I promise you that it will help you in the long run and your writing will benefit from any constructive feedback. It's things like that that help you grow. You should always have people read your story before you put it out there.  And you should definitely have it professionally edited.

I don't have any money to pay for things like an editor. It's so expensive. Do I have to?
Trust me, I've been there. I have SO.FREAKING.BEEN.THERE.  But listen to me- if there are two things you pay attention to in regards to your book (aside from writing a good one), it's the EDITING and the COVER.  I know you don't have the money to pay thousands of dollars for an editor. No one does when they're first starting out. But there are editors out there who don't cost an arm and a leg. And I promise you... you want to have your book professionally edited. Not edited by a friend who's really good with word... or a friend who likes to read... or someone who is a good editor of documents... it's NOT the same. You need someone you can count on to follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Someone who knows what they're doing.

I released In Dreams (my first novel) without it being professionally edited and I got my ass handed to me. My heart felt like it was ripped from my chest, stomped on, tore into a million pieces and then tossed into the garbage. And I sat there, struggling to breathe while it all happened.

I couldn't sleep because I wasn't satisfied with the state my story was in (you see, some of those really negative reviews and comments were right- and I needed to hear them). They haunted me. And it all could have been avoided had I had it professionally edited before I released it.

Don't let your book haunt you. Cause trust me, it will.  Research editors. Ask other Self Published authors who they use. Find books that you love and see who edited them. It's worth it. DO NOT put your book out there without doing this.

I don't know how to design a book cover. I suck at Photoshop. What do I do?
The cover is the other important factor to your book. I wrote a crazy blog post here that you need to read because I can't even begin to tell you how important the cover is. You can go to sites like Dreamstime or istock photo and buy pictures to use on your cover. My only suggestion if you do that is to RESEARCH FIRST. Make sure someone else in the same category as your book, isn't using the same photo. For example, if you write Young Adult Romance books, go look at the other YA Romance books online and check out their covers, look what's selling, etc. There's nothing worse than seeing "your" cover on someone else's book.

I have a designer who does my covers (http://www.facebook.com/IndieBookCovers). You can research, ask around, look into cover designers on facebook. It can be done, you just have to look.  :)  Do not underestimate the power of a great cover!

How do you market your book? How do you get it to sell? I want to be a best seller overnight!
Awww, that's cute. But not very realistic. lol  We all want our books to sell well. We all want readers to connect with our story. But reading is very subjective and people's opinions tend to vary... vastly. There is NO magic formula to what sells and what doesn't. What worked for one author, might not work for another one. What worked 3 months ago, most likely won't work today. We all have different target audiences.  What works for a guy writing sci-fi, won't work for a woman writing chick-lit. Know what I mean?

It's a huge hit and miss project. It's all about finding what DOES work for YOU and YOUR audience. I had to work my ass off for well over a year to make myself known- to get people excited for my books- to have a following. It's not something that will just be handed to you, so don't expect it to be. Social networking is the BIGGEST and most time consuming part of your day. But you have to do it. It's how you connect with people... other authors, fans, readers, etc. 

My helpful suggestions for you are:

Build a website/blog. This doesn't have to cost you any money. You can build a website through Blogger or Wordpress. Blogger is awesome and super easy to navigate and build. They have tons of professional and pretty looking templates that you can choose from. You can make pages for different information, etc.  For example, this entire website is a Blogger site (although I own my own domain name as well)... Pretty awesome, right?  :)

Speaking of domain names, you can get a .com site with your author name (which I recommend if possible vs doing a .com for each book you expect to release). It's definitely worth looking into so that you can establish your online presence, as well as having consistent branding. YOU are your brand. And owning the domain of your author name is IMPORTANT to your brand. (thanks Kevin for this reminder).

Set up a facebook fan page for your author name, or your books. I chose my author name because I didn't want to set up a separate page for each book I wrote. Other authors do a page for each book. I don't know how they keep up with it, but the choice is up to you. It's all about your preferences and how you want to market yourself. In the interest of saving time (and my sanity) I find it's easier to represent everything you write all in one place- under your author name.

Set up a twitter account. You can easily link your facebook to your twitter so everytime you update one, it updates the other. I have a twitter, but i'm SUPER bad at using it.  Actually, I suck at using it. I'm probably the worst. I should win an award for suckiest twitter-er. 

Read JA Konrath's blog. Why? Because he posts about every.single.thing. you'd ever want to know about self publishing. He's really open and honest and forthcoming about his sales numbers, what he thinks works, what doesn't, etc. He's a super resource for anyone just starting out. Prepare to lose hours in your day reading that site. Search his archives. Have fun.  lol

You can (and probably should) join Goodreads. Many authors have had fantastic experiences there as those readers can truly MAKE your book (talk about a word of mouth frenzy). But the flip side is, it can be a truly brutal website. So put on your thick skin and your big girl panties and go log in. There are tons of groups available with people willing to read and review your book on goodreads, you just have to find them. 

You should definitely research book bloggers. But only reach out to the ones you think would really like your story. Don't waste their time (and yours) by asking someone who doesn't read YA, or self published books, to make an exception and read yours. It's rude. And will most likely land you on their "never read" list. 

Please remember that when you ask someone to read your book (book blogger, beta reader, etc) that you make sure they are willing to leave a review as well. Amazon reviews are a HUGE help to any author, so you want to get as many of those as you can.  :)

Make friends with other authors. Especially the ones who are just starting out at the same time you are, and write in the same genre. There's nothing like making friends with people who are going through the same things you are. And you both should be willing to help each other out (pimp each others release dates, contests, etc). Self published authors are some of the coolest and most helpful people I know. I've made friends with many after I read their books, fell in love with their stories and HAD to know them! I've been really fortunate to become friends with some of the most talented and successful writers out there. :)  Read Indie books. Friend the authors of stories you like. Get to know them. Get to know your readers. Join author groups. Join reader groups.  Connect. 

**Additional New Writer Note- it's unrealistic to assume that a best selling author with years of experience will help promote a brand new author they haven't read anything by yet. And it's rude to ask. So don't. I know that when you're first starting out, it doesn't seem like it's a big deal, but the best selling authors have their brand, their fans and their publishers sometimes to consider. They can't (and won't) promote everyone who asks them. Many have worked for years to build the audience they have now and it didn't happen because someone handed it to them. You have to work hard to make yourself known. It is a full time job, and more.**

And my #1, biggest suggestion for you? 
Write a good book.
Word of mouth will be your biggest and most influential friend. There is nothing that you could ever do that could compete or compare with what other people can do for you. Word of mouth. It's the thing we all strive more.  It's what makes us.

Good luck! I'll add to this as needed.  :)

June 24, 2012

writing.cave.

I'm going to disappear for a few days!  It's a good thing!  It means I AM FINALLY WRITING!

I haven't written a single thing since the release of Chance Encounters. Ahem, that was 2 months ago. 

I feel like a bad author, but then again- i've had a lot of stuff going on. I lost my house, had to find a new one, pack up and move all in a 28 day time span.

May was a very stressful month.

But May's over! 

And hell, June's almost over!  Which is crazy because I am so not ready for summer to EVER end.  Like, ever.  lol

So anyway, I have some time- and i'm going to use and abuse it. Here's to hoping I make some serious progress on Before the Dreams.  I really am hoping for a September release, but knowing me... that means it will be freaking November. HA...

I will tell you it's been extra fun in my head lately. Cooper, Austen and Katherine have been around more than normal lately.. they are dying for me to tell you the rest of their story.  Well the lifetime that happened BEFORE the one you already know about. Everynight they sit there harassing me. Cooper and Austen mostly. Katherine's so polite. lol

Wait, you haven't read In Dreams yet?  Silly rabbit, go get it while it's still only .99 cents!!! 
http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-The-Dream-Series-ebook/dp/B005F0FXKM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340596327&sr=8-1&keywords=in+dreams

Alright-  i'm out!  See if you in a few days!!  wish me luck.  Gosh I wish my books wrote as quickly as I thought of them!  :) 

June 21, 2012

For the love of pete...

Yesterday I broke my blog.

*hangs head in shame*

I was just trying to add those buttons at the bottom that let's you share each post- and when I copied the code for it, I accidentally deleted my entire template code. 

I'm probably speaking crazy to some of you right now.

Just know that I broke my mother f'n blog.  So i've been working on a complete redesign.  You know, if you couldn't see that already.

And in all honesty.........

I like it better than anything i'd ever designed myself.  These are all Blogger templates.  Who knew they were so cute?!?!  Clearly, not me- since I enjoy spending days on end designing buttons and codes and colors and WHY THE HELL HAVE I MADE IT SO HARD ON MYSELF ALL THIS TIME?!?!?!

Anyway, I'm sort of happy I broke my website.

Because it's going to be better.  And prettier. And way neater than I could have done.

Eventually.

Just hang in there.  And go read books while I work on this crap.  lol

:)

June 18, 2012

I'm PROUD to be Self Published!

If you log onto amazon right now-  go, i'll wait-   you'll see a super bitchin piece talking about the uber-fabulous Jessica Park, and her equally fabulous book, Flat Out Love.

I hope that you can realize, even if it's just for a brief moment, how incredible this is. How inspiring. And how freaking amazeballs Amazon is!  Dear Amazon, I heart you in a big way.

The first thing people say to me when they find out that i'm an author is, without a doubt, "I've always wanted to write a book." Did you realize that 90% of the people you know want to write books?  I didn't either. Half of them probably never will.

But do you know what I tell them?

I tell them IF THEY'RE SERIOUS, THEY SHOULD DO IT.  And they should 100%, SELF PUBLISH.

I'm not trying to offend anyone out there who has or is traditionally published. Good for you.  I'm sure that it's the right decision for you and I sincerely hope your experience makes it totally worth while.

It simply no longer is the right choice for me.

Don't get me wrong, when I wrote In Dreams (my debut young adult novel), I naively tried and tried to get signed with an agent. I simply assumed that was what you were supposed to do. I'd heard of self publishing. I saw the sheer amount of people doing it. I just also naively assumed that only shitty books were self published. And that it meant I had failed as an author.

Self publishing meant I wasn't good enough. My book didn't have enough appeal to sell in a mass marketplace. My characters sucked. My story sucked. Everything about what I was trying to do, S-U-C-K-E-D.  And as the rejections quickly filled my inbox, I started to agree with that theory even more.

I had two choices. I could quit and give into the belief that my book wasn't good enough to be read by anyone other than me.  Or I could forge ahead and publish on my own. I looked into self publishing more and more. I researched for days on end, read hours of blog posts, chose the sites where I would self publish (amazon, hands down) and where I would sell paperback versions of my books (createspace).

And then I made the decision.

Or rather, it was made for me. (Thank you to every single agent and publishing house that rejected me. I sincerely cannot thank you enough.)

I decided to self publish. Not like I'm really a quitter anyway, so we all knew what was coming.  :)

But I can tell you, almost 10 months after putting out my first book... Self Publishing has been the coolest and best thing i've done in terms of my career. Amazon has been spectacular and I have very few (if any) complaints. They are responsible for 95% of my sales. I'm sure that has a lot to do with the fact that they simply blow their competition away, but hey, it's good for my business.  :) 

I love the control and the freedom I have self publishing. And I love Amazon's reach into places I only dream about. I cannot imagine having published through a traditional publisher and I don't recommend it to anyone who asks me for my opinion (granted, I don't have anything to compare it too, but still- I am happy to be self pubbed). At this point, where sadly it seems like bookstores are going the way of music stores, it's simply a waste of time to query and submit. And it's a hit your ego doesn't need to take. Trust me, when your book is out for public consumption, your ego will take enough punches.

So yeah. I love being a self published, independent author. I love the community i'm a part of. I love the talent. And I freaking love Amazon. (even though right now they're pissing me off cause my book is supposed to be "free" and it's not lol). And I want to thank them. Because they gave me a platform, a chance, an opportunity to NOT give up on my dream. Had this been another place and time, being rejected by agents meant my dream would have been crushed. Limited. Over. And now, because of places like Amazon- we don't have to give up. We don't have to keep our stories to ourselves. We have the choice to share our words with the world. We have OPTIONS.  Amazon has changed my world.

But they aren't the only ones.

Amazon may have changed the world for us writers..... but it's writers like Jessica Park who have changed the world for us readers.

Go read.  :)

June 17, 2012

interesting

So it's taken almost 2 months exactly for sales on Chance Encounters to start falling significantly. I still feel new to all of this self publishing author stuff, even though i've been working my ass off and trying to learn, market, etc for about 9 months-  The only REAL way to try to figure out sales trends, or how things sell, or when.... is to actually RELEASE a book.  And that takes time.

So it's been 2 months.  Sales are falling.  I suppose that means that people have stopped talking about it?  Probably.  New, amazing, incredible books are released everyday!  LITERALLY!  And it's hard to stop reading them to actually write! I can't help it- there are some good books out there people. :)  lol

Maybe I have to plan promotions or stuff to keep the book in the public eye?  It's all so freaking hard to have consistancy with sales.  Maybe it's just hard for me?  It doesn't seem to be that hard for tons of other authors.

Whatevs. 

I know I just need to  K-E-E-P  W-R-I-T-I-N-G.   That is the key. 
Keep writing good books.
Keep writing better.
Keep telling better stories. 
Keep growing as an author.

I hope to do that. I strive to do that.  The biggest thing is... I don't want to stop writing. I want to keep doing this for as long as I can.  And I really, really, really, want to make more money writing books than I ever could have made at my last job.  You know, the one I got FIRED from?  Yeah, that one. I want to shove my author paychecks in that stupid jobs face and be like, "SUCK IT BITCH! WHO NEEDS YOU??? NOT ME!!!!!!"  and shake my ass as I walk away, waving my paycheck in the air.

I'm totally normal. 


June 11, 2012

dammit mother something or other

I KNEW I shouldn't have posted about money on here!  Ever since that post ... sales have dropped.  LOL  Nothing crazy significant, BUT STILL.  My sudden part time job is becoming more part, part time.  Or wait, maybe I just got a demotion?  A pay cut.  Yeah. that's more like it. 

No more money posting ever again.  lol

June 8, 2012

I bet you'll think this post is about you

Okay, so I know i've talked about this topic before... maybe once or twice (of 50 times, knowing me)... but clearly it's something that plagues me.

Or i'm trying to figure it all out. 
Or make sense of it all. 
Or explain it to your brain. 
But most likely to mine.

I write YOUNG ADULT books. I write my books for a TEENAGE audience.  That's who my books are for. If you aren't a teenager and you like my books, I am thrilled!!! 

T H R I L L E D! 

Because you're outside of my target audience, but you still enjoyed the story I told.  I'm incredibly happy when that happens.

Because it doesn't happen all the time.  I'm not sure it even happens 50% of the time.

At least not for me.

I see a lot of the other YA books that ARE being loved by adults in their 20's, 30's and 40's-  and when I try to figure out where my stories lack in comparison (in a learning way, so I can become a better writer/storyteller)- I realize that their stories are told in a way that strikes a chord with us grownies (my new made up word for grown ups) because we have more life experience. We see, read and interpret things in a completely different way than a teenager would...or more likely even could. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that a teenager wouldn't love those books as well, i'm just saying that the people who ARE reading and loving those books-  most likely are not teenagers.  And I'm really starting to think that we 20, 30, 40-something year old women rule the marketplace. (dur)  And us marketplace ruling women tend to rant and rave about books everywhere we go. We post about the books we love on facebook, goodreads, email...we tell our friends, our neighbors, our book club, strangers, etc.  (And that's fan-freaking-tastic.  For reals. I sincerely think that's awesome. Please don't stop doing that for the books you love. Especially if they're Indie books- don't ever stop.)

But teens don't tend to do that. They aren't posting about the books they love on facebook. They aren't sending emails to their friends telling them to read a book. They do tell their friends face to face. They do recommend books when they're in social settings. But as far as spreading things like wildfire- no one holds a candle to us WOMEN.

So here's the thing. If mostly adults are buying and reading YA books- then who is the true YA audience? And have we forgotten about our teenagers? Do we not write for them anymore? Or have we forgotten about them because we don't know where the hell they are?  Because they don't interact with us on Facebook, or Goodreads, or write Amazon reviews...

Everyone wants YA books to appeal to them- no matter their age. Because so many of them nowadays do. Indie YA is all I pretty much read at this point. The books are really, freaking good. The stories are incredible. They may not be pulitzer prize winning novels, but they're enjoyable. And I like enjoyable stories. I don't sit there ripping a YA book apart if it doesn't appeal to me in the same way that I expect (or want) an adult book too.

I swear I had a completely different point to this post.
See? Easily distracted. 
I think my point was that I get a lot of reviews places that say things like;
this book is for a teenager...
if you're a teenager then you'll probably really love this book, but I couldn't stand it... 
the dialogue is annoying...
this book has an immature feel to it...
this book was so unrealistic, unbelievable and just plain stupid...
this book made me roll my eyes more than once...

But you see, I read those reviews and SMILE. Because while you sit there all pissed off and irritated that my book sucks unless you're a teenager- I sit there shaking my head while saying, "well, no shit." And while you're all mad that you hated my book, I want to reach through my computer screen and scream at you, "YOU READ A BOOK FOR A TEENAGER! I'M SORRY YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT, BUT IT WASN'T WRITTEN FOR YOU. GO READ A GROWN UP BOOK!" 

I guess my point is. Ha, maybe I have 2 points. Or none, depending on how you see things. lol  That our expectations for YA books is changing, growing, evolving. But that's an adult perspective. An adult shift.  An adult want.

Personally, I'd love to know what the teens want. But I can't freaking find them.  If you see one, send them over.  :)

June 5, 2012

Thankful and Happy

I'm not sure if i've mentioned it on this blog yet.. probably not, cause i've been super busy moving and crap.  Have I mentioned that I LOATHE MOVING?!?!?!  Probably. I enjoy complaining.  And I'm easily distracted.  Holy crap, I realized during this move how easily distracted I am! 

It's probably a disorder. 

Or something.

See? I already forgot what I came to blog about and I had to look at the title of this post to remember.  HA

Since I released Chance Encounters, I have been making enough money each week to replace the income I no longer have.  You know, cause I got fired and all.  Wait.  I just totally wrote that wrong. I mean, I have been making enough money as if I was working a PART TIME JOB.  *knock on couch pillow*

FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

Which freaking RULES people! 

And I swear to the Goddess that if I just freaking jinxed it all, i'll never blog about money again!

Okay, so- seriously.. I AM SO THANKFUL that this is happening!!!!  I am SOOOO happy that this is happening!  It's helped me realize that the financial goals I have for myself (to replace my old, full time salary) is TOTALLY POSSIBLE!

I can reach my goals to WORK FOR MYSELF! I CAN LIVE LIKE I WAS PRIOR TO GETTING SHIT CANNED-  and not have to deal with idiot bosses who suck at life. 

Do you have any idea how incredible that feels?! 

Well it feels freaking amazeballs!  And I owe it to every single one of you who reads my books and likes them. Every one of you who PAYS for them (doesn't download them for free, or read them and then return them- which totally freaking sucks by the way. stop doing it. it's stealing too.), tells other people to read them, etc. 

I just wanted to say thanks!  And I hope beyond all hope that this is just the beginning. That my star is still rising-  my success, still growing... 

I'm so freaking excited to go on this ride with all of you.  :)

oh yeah- and on this ride.. i'll be riding this: