Thursday, December 20, 2012

It’s official! I have a new FOUR-BOOK DEAL.

The DOON Series (YA, co-written with Lorie Langdon), Brigadoon reimagined coming September 2013. Read more at Honestly YA!  

Join our journey on Facebook:

Also did a fabulous photo shoot with a young, talented actor at ESSENZA STUDIO this week for the cover of THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE KEEPER. More details soon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

CONJURE - Cover Reveal

Congratulations to my Honestly YA blogmate Lea for her upcoming debut. I am thrilled to be among a handful of bloggers revealing her cover today! It's absolutely gorgeous!!!!

About CONJURE: Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever.

In honor of her cover reveal, Lea is giving away prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Takedown of LendInk: Who Won?

This week marks the demise of LendInk and the end of owner Dale Porter’s American Dream. It’s a sad, yet fascinating, case of ethical business practices. (Disclaimer: Content has been changed to correct erroneous information.)
LendInk: (Previously stated that LendInk did not have a FAQs page, which was incorrect.) LendInk did have a FAQ page asserting the validity and legality of their site.  Although the site is no longer live, you can read some of that content at Indie Author. LendInk appears to have done everything right, so why did they become the target of an indie author outrage mob? Read: What Happened to LendInk? The owner responds.

Authors: Aside from not doing their due diligence to understand the site, they failed to resolve their conflict (real or perceived) in an ethical manner. I’m sure LendInk did get numerous contacts from confused authors but those concerns should have been easy to arbitrate considering that LendInk was legally and ethically in the right. Instead, authors waged a very public campaign complete with virtual pitchforks and fueled by ignorance. Regardless of whether the authors were in the right or the wrong, they made a sizeable mistake: Reaction instead of Ethical Action. Which has led to some ugly backlash and retaliation against certain indie authors. Read: LendInk taken down by A**hole Indie Authors.

It’s a bit ironic that many self-published authors call themselves indie to break away from the ignorant, vanity press stigma and, subsequently, the term indie has grown in negative connotations. Which begs the question, is “Indie” the new “Self-Published?” (Please Lord, I hope not. I hope we are aspiring to do better!)

The point for me is not to lay blame, but to ask: Is there anything worth learning from The Tragic Tale of LendInk that will make me a better human being and a better business person?

No matter what you call your author-self, the basic principles of business ethics are important.  Let’s look to the US Better Business Bureau, whose motto is Start With Trust, for guidance:

What complaints do we handle?

Disagreements between businesses and their customers. However, we reserve the right to reject complaints that use abusive or foul language.

 How do we handle your complaint?
Everything you submit will be forwarded to the business within two business days. The business will be asked to respond within 14 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be made. You will be notified of the business’s response when we receive it (or notified that we received no response). Complaints are usually closed within 30 business days.

It’s useful to note that the first thing the BBB does is to facilitate communication between the customer and the business to rectify the perceived wrong. How can we as self-published authors/small business owners reapply this best-in-class practice?

Do your research. Reach out privately, business to business. Ask for a response within 14 days. If you do not get satisfaction within the requested period, escalate privately using MUSO or legal representation.

Before you wage (or join) a public crusade, ask yourself:

·        Do I know what I’m talking about—have I done my research?

·         What if I were the person on the opposite end? How would I want to be treated?

·        Have I tried to arbitrate privately?

·        Could this damage my reputation?

·        Is this something I want on the internet FOREVER?

·        And finally: What would I advise my child or a relative’s child to do? Is this responsible advice?

Always keep top of mind: A few books sales lost to piracy are not worth the loss of your professional reputation.

(Who may, or may not, work in the Marketing & Sales division of a global, publicly traded Fortune 500 company which happens to be the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Self-published = Salesperson, That’s Crazy Talk!

Hi All,

I’ve been in deep lurk mode as I work on the sequel to THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE KEEPER (sequel to THE GUARDIAN). But as indie-related business articles or posts catch my eye, I’ll try to pass them on.

Back in March, Courtney Milan did an interesting blog post about review ethics and specifically The Ask.
“But I have seen a handful of self-published books, where at the end of the book, there is a brief note that says something like this: If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on Read post here. (Be sure to peruse the comments.)

As I started to comment, I realized I had a post worthy of sharing. So here are my thoughts:

My indie books do have a gentle ask at the end. Honest reviews are critical to an indie's credibility, brand building, and self-owned business. As self-published authors, we are entrepreneurs/small-business owners. And we have to act accordingly. In this brave, new publishing world, not only do authors have to think and act like marketers, they have to be savvy salespeople.

If you think about it from a sales perspective, books = products, readers = consumers. So what do we know about the average consumer and their product experiences?

Sales: Studies show that dissatisfied customers will tell more people (8-10) about their experience with a product than happy customers (2-3 people). Read more here and here (or just Google “dissatisfied customers”).

“About13 percent of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.” (White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC) eCommerce is a game of statistics and the global potential for disgruntled readers to rant is exponential. The first place they go—you guessed it—on line. Here’s a great article from MediaSpace to illustrate the point.

Even more compelling, perhaps, is the data that comes from science:

Science: Psychologically and physiologically, human beings are hardwired to focus on the negative (NY Times article: Praise is Fleeting, but Brick Bats We Recall). "Bad is Stronger than Good."
This data has 2 primary implications: 1) readers are more likely to review books that have made some sort of negative impact on them, and 2) prospective readers are likely to weigh negative reviews stronger than positive ones.

That brings us to The Ask:

If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on” 

The Ask helps level the playing field. It equates a positive reader/consumer experience with a call to action in a very non-threatening way. Genuine, positive reviews build product confidence for potential readers. Think about it for a second…Have you ever looked at the reviews for a product you were considering on Amazon prior to purchasing? Have the rating/reviews ever swayed your decision to buy or not buy? Have you ever looked at reviews for a book that you were considering? What are people saying about this? is a question most consumers are curious to answer, and the greater the risk, the more we want reassurance before a purchase commitment. So why wouldn’t you, as an indie author, do everything within the boundaries of your principles and ethics to get the reviews needed to grow your business?*

It is my theory that so many authors are uncomfortable with The Ask for the same reason they would never consider a career in sales. They lack the constitution/principles/desire needed to succeed as a salesperson. I get that (really, I do). But just about every successful business on the planet has a sales department—even the big six publishers. So who is the sales force behind the self-published author?  * pause for dramatic emphasis* That’s right. I am/you are. So don’t neglect your sales plan. 

It’s like I always tell my kids: “How am I supposed to know if you don't (respectfully) tell me what you need? After all, I’m not a mind reader”—and neither are my potential consumers. 

Happy sales!

(Who may, or may not, work in the Marketing & Sales division of a global, publicly traded Fortune 500 company which happens to be the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world.)

*To clarify, I’m not suggesting that if you have sketchy ethics that it’s okay to solicit false or overly positive reviews from friends and family. Reviews do need to be authentic and honest.  I am merely suggesting there are a broad spectrum of principles and ethics in the field of sales that may govern what you are, or are not, willing to do. Don’t confuse this with comfort level. Think of how uncomfortable marketing can be—but we all agree it has value and needs to be done.

 Difference between ethics and comfort zone: 

Example 1: Is asking for reviews from readers at the end of my book out of my comfort zone? Yes. But is it unethical? No. Does is make sense from a sales perspective? Yes.

Example 2: Is asking Aunt Nancy and her friends to go online anonymously and give glowing, 5–star reviews of my book outside my comfort zone? Maybe not… Everybody does it. Is it unethical? Abso-FREAKIN’-lutely! Does is make sense from a sales perspective? No way!!! If Aunt Nancy and friends are discovered, my credibility will suffer. And the amount of negative comments produced by public outrage will tank my career (as it should).

Example 3: Is my cousin’s unsolicited review, with acquaintance disclaimer, of my book that she purchased with her own money out of my comfort zone? Perhaps… (Family and friends are always tricky business.) But is it unethical? No. Does is make sense from a sales perspective? Perhaps… It’s an honest review from a paying customer. However, widely publicized relationship abuse between authors and their friends/family to promote books dishonestly tends to make this a risky practice. Although it’s not wrong, the more strategic choice might be to ask my cousin to use word of mouth power and remove the review.  

(Hey wait, is this an example where the negative connotations are more prevalent in society than the positive? For every author that engages in sketch reviews practices, there are probably a thousand or more that don’t.)

Bottom Line: This is your career and your business. Don’t lie to your consumers; don’t devalue them. Be honest. Apply discipline and operate with integrity. Which sounds suspiciously like The Golden Rule.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever noticed **If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on** at the end of a book? How often have you noticed The Ask? How did you feel when you saw it?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Passing on Inspiration - words can touch people

I got this quote today from a friend.

From Flavia Weedn's Facebook Page:

"I grew up in Los Angeles during the post-depression years. As a child I developed a love of color and design from my mother who was a doll maker. But it was my young uncle, Jack, who sparked my development as an artist. His great love of life led me to see the same wonder and beauty he found in the ordinary, and to share we must remember everything... i try to, it's all so fragile and precious... the same joy he found in the writings of the great romantic poets.

As a child I disliked my name until I learned from Jack that I was named after a princess in a book. I was embarrassed that we lived in a house beside an alley, across the street from a tire factory, until I learned from Jack that it didn’t matter where we lived as long as we were a family and loved and cared for each other. I had a thousand dreams inside my heart and thought none of them had a chance, until Jack taught me that if I worked hard and believed in my dreams, I could do anything.

I remember sitting in my grandmother’s fig tree, writing and illustrating my stories, and dreaming my dreams. I knew then that Jack had taught me to see life in a different way, and that he had given me a rare gift. What I didn’t know was that he had changed my life, and that what I had learned from him would directly influence my life’s work.

As a young adult I began to paint because I loved it. I found at my first showing that a passion within me was pushing me to express my feelings through my art, and to share the philosophy I had learned from Jack. From that time on, words literally became an integral part of my paintings. My husband and I began selling my work in the early 1960s at outdoor art fairs and open art exhibits. My work was so very different and I was afraid viewers would reject my openness, but I came to realize that it actually validated what many people felt deep inside—feelings they wanted to hold on to.

For more than 50 years, my work has continued to be my passion. I believe that art is communication—a way of sharing who we are and what we feel. I believe that in this life there are no endings, only beginnings; that our lives are journeys and that we grow from our experience on these journeys. I believe we discover through every heartache how to love more and love better, and that life has hidden gifts in its hands—the greatest of which is love.

Today, as the mother of two grown children, Rick and Lisa, and grandmother to my precious granddaughters Sylvie and Stella Mae and dear grandson, Miguel, I stand proud to know that what began as my dream carries on through their lives. Jack’s legacy of love lives on.

Whether feelings are expressed on a large painting or a small greeting card, whether they are shared through technology or in a passing whisper, words can touch people. The power of care can heal and make a difference in all of our lives and in this world we live in. This is my belief, the faith I hold in the human spirit, and the hope I wish to share with you."

Check out her:     Art      Writing

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Who should see your book before you self-publish?

Hi All,

I know I've been a little absent lately. I'm working on my indie sequel to THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN. And I've been in revisions for a traditional pub. project.

This morning I came across a question on the yahoo indie loop (Indie Romance Ink) about who should see a book before you self publish. This question was posed by a new author finishing up her first manuscript. Despite needing to make coffee and pack to go out of town, I felt compelled to answer.

The short answer: Several people and at least one professional!

Here's what I shared:

Congratulations that you are almost done with your book. That is huge! You should definitely stop and celebrate your achievement. But after you pop the champagne, you should think about the revision process as another critical step to being a professional author. One of the biggest mistakes newer authors make is to release material before it crafted to a professional level. It’s soooo tempting, and we’ve all been there. Don’t do it! Usually the revision process, if done right, will take several months of intensive work.

I don’t mean to sound discouraging, by this manuscript is your baby. You wouldn’t take your baby out in public with torn clothes and a dirty face, right? The baby needs cleaning up first. This is what separates the professionals from the amateurs in a deluged eBook market. And it’s worth it, I promise.

In looking for a critique partner, you want to find someone slightly ahead of where you are in your journey, whose experience can help identify the opportunities to strengthen your manuscript. The critique relationship is about building trust – after all, you’re trusting this person to point out flaws in your baby. J Loops, organizations you belong to, local writing groups are all great place to look for a critique partner. In googling “critique groups”, I came  across a fun site: ( *disclaimer* I have never used this group, but their approach is cool.

 As to your question on editing, most newer authors don’t know what type of editing they need. There are 3 standard types of editing in fiction writing and as an indie, you have a fourth. Knowing what type of editing you need is something a crit partner can help you with. At minimum, you will need #s 2, 3, & 4. Chances are, being newer, you will need #1 as well. And unless you have an amazing line editor, you might need a couple proofreaders. I’ve found readers, friends, or family with an eye for mistakes make great proofreaders.

 Here are the types of editing:

1.       Substantive Editing – structural (pacing, plot, characterization)

2.       Copy Editing – (Grammar, spelling, syntax, word usage, punctuation, writer tics, etc.)

3.       Line Editing – proofreading (typos)

4.       Format editing – (finished eBook forms and print pdf look as they should)*

*I would also extend this to any copy (blurbs, bios, etc.) you put on the web.

You might not need to hire a professional for all of them. #1 - Most of us that have been doing this awhile need less substantive editing than we used to (often our crit partner can point out issues and we can fit). #2 Get a professional. #3 and #4 – can be people we know with a meticulous eye for details. Have multiple proofreaders.

This might sound overwhelming, but consider the alternative. Bad reviews, bad ratings, damage to your author brand. And the internet is FOR-EVERRRRR. I’m going to go all cliché, but you only get one chance to make a first impression with a reader. Make it count!

Amanda Brice, my fellow indie YA sister and co-contibutor/driving force behind to the  Eternal Spring YA Anthology *free here* had this to say about when to release your baby into the world:

Congrats on getting close to THE END. Anytime you type that is a momentous occasion, but never moreso than your first time.
However, because this is your first book (and you wrote it without feedback), I'm inclined to agree with Maureen. You're probably not ready for either an editor or a beta reader yet. The first thing you need to do is find yourself a critique partner or critique group (are you a member of your local RWA chapter? Also, Romance Divas is a good place to learn the craft).

Then once you have the ms as sparkling as you can, I'd enter some contests for unbiased feedback. Then you might be ready for an editor. But even still, maybe not. I venture to guess that most of us did not publish our first ms and never will. The stereotype of the "book under the bed" is because first manuscripts tend to be learning books.

Is that the case with everyone? Of course not. some authors do publish their first book and do wonderfully. But most of us were not ready for publication on the first book, and you won't know this for sure until you get unbiased feedback. Hiring an editor will probably be a very expensive way to find out whether you're ready (and some books are unsalvagable), so I encourage you to run it through crit groups and the contest circuit first. This will take several months, but worth it.

Then once you're satisfied this book is potentially publishable (and you don't want to go the trad route), you'll need to find an editor. Since this is your first book, I highly encourage you to get both content editing and line editing, although some authors prefer to skip the content editing stage once they have a few books under their belt (and instead rely upon their critique partners and beta readers for developmental suggestions).

Good luck! I hope this wasn't discouraging, but the worst thing you can do is publish before you're ready.
Carey says: Thanks Amanda!

Now your turn: If you are an author, how many early books do you have buried under your bed?

I have books 1, 2, & 3 under the bed. #4 is my indie, 5 & 6 are with agents exploring traditional options.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Honestly YA Welcomes Erika O'Rourke

Erica O'Rourke talks high school regrets today at Honestly YA. *ALERT* one lucky follower will win a copy of TORN and her new book TANGLED. And if you haven't read Erica's books - you are missing out!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dear Aspiring YA Author

Dear aspiring YA author,

We have reviewed your manuscript and are declining representation with out regrets. Although your writing is exceptionally strong with a unique voice, we believe the premise is a bit too similar to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series. Due to Ms. Meyer’s iconic imprint on teen readership, we are not interested in acquiring manuscripts that contain the following:

·                  Angst
·                  Boys that sparkle
·                  Boys that are serially shirtless
·                  Any manuscript using any form of the word “dazzle”
·                  Girls into fashion
·                  Girls into sweatpants
·                  Girls that read
·                  Meadows
·                  Tall trees
·                  Indian tribe analogies
·                  Vampires, Werewolves, or Shape Shifters
·                  B-list paranormal creatures, such as fairies, shadowhunters, selkies, banshees, ghosts, zombies, mermaids, angels, demons, etc. (because they’re not as cool as vampires and werewolves)
·                  Teens that are really old
·                  Teens that age appropriately
·                  Teens that need to eat
·                  Teens that don’t eat
·                  Floating feathers (to be safe, no birds of any kind)
·                  Extraordinary abilities like mind reading, manipulation of emotions, and seeing the future
·                  Weather (including rain, snow, and sunshine)
·                  Prom
·                  Apples
·                  Forks (in fact, all cutlery is generally to be avoided)
·                  Times of day (especially sunset, sunrise and midday)
·                  Lunar cycles
·                  Red eyes, golden eyes, black or brown eyes (eyes in general have become cliché)
·                  Old trucks, motorcycles, and new sports cars
·                  Love triangles and teen couples (romance of any kind should be avoided especially true love and puppy infatuation)
·                  Relocating to a new town
·                  Living in the same place for any length of time
·                  Windows
·                  Bedrooms
·                  Kissing
·                  Sneaking in windows to kiss in bedrooms
·                  Teens that move too quickly into marriage
·                  Teens who don’t get married in opposition to books containing those who do
·                  Cold and hot (we will not publish any manuscript that references temperature)
·                  Anything with a pulse
·                  Anything without a pulse
·                  Characters that enforce or break the law
·                  Characters with foreign sounding names, old people names, or trendy names
·                  The number 17 (no characters of that age, nor any manuscripts containing the page number 17 or a 17th chapter will be considered)
·                  Manuscripts with short or one word titles
·                  Manuscripts with long titles (too contrary to what’s hot in the current YA market)
·                  Exotic locations like Italy, South America, or private islands
·                  The Pacific Northwest
·                  The Southwest (in fact, probably best if you set your story somewhere other than Earth)
·                  We are also not interested in books set in outer space or alternate worlds

However, if you are able to come up with a fresh YA concept that does not infringe on these areas, we would be most anxious to read it. We are also looking for Dystopians.


Jane Doe Publisher

(Author note: My new young adult WIP is about one ordinary child and one eyeless grownup who don’t live anywhere, go anyplace, or have any adventures of any kind. Estimated length is 16 pages. It’s guaranteed to be a bestseller!)

YOUR TURN: What else needs to be on the list?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Experimental Girl, part 2: More Experimentation

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on promoted prices vs. every day available price. I am taking THE HALO CHRONICLES THE GUARDIAN off sale and back to $2.99.

I decided to let the .99¢ sale go through MLK Day, so I requested the pricing change ($2.99 , 70% royalty) for  on Tuesday. As usual Amazon is taking their sweet time to make the change.

It will be interesting to compare velocity at the higher price with THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER continuing as a free promo vehicle.

As of this morning, here are my January 2012 sales results:

THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN ($.99): 123 128 (as of 1/19 8:30pm)

THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER (FREE): 4903 5056 (as of 1/19 8:30pm)

1/30 Results:

THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN ($.99): 203 (and back up to $2.99)

THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER (FREE): 8007 (in 1 month!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Experimental Girl

December was an experimental month for me. In November, I published a dystopian short story, THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER, at $.99. At the end I included the first chapter of THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN. Then I dropped THE GUARDIAN from $2.99 to $.99 to participate in a holiday promotion called Book Lovers Buffet.

For the purposes of this analysis, I am going to use my Amazon sales.

December 1-24 results:

I decided to make THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER free to promote THE GUARDIAN. It went into effect just after Christmas.

December 26-31 results:

January 1-4 results:

 The results are so phenomenal that I am going to keep THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER free.
Now my dilemma, the promotion for THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN  ends 1/15/12. Should I keep it at $.99 with much lower royalties or take it back up to $2.99.

What do you think?