Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: publishing

Post Con Collapse

Two Conventions in less than 10 days. That’s what I did last week, folks. June 17-19 I attended Denver Comic Con (awwwweesome!) and then June 22-26, I flew off to Nashville for UtopiaCon 2016. Another awwwweesome.

While not everyone who reads this is an author, I wanted to share some of the wisdom I gleaned from these hectic ten days.

1. Plan in advance, and actually DO the things on your to-do list. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything done. If you have to fly to a convention, make sure you have the right luggage to get your books, marketing materials and display items to the venue. Otherwise, you’ll end up scrambling for appropriate luggage and sweating over the weight limits.

You really don’t want to know how I know this.

2. Find the balance between taking too much, and not enough. It’s not easy – but talk to people who have done the event before. Look on Facebook. Is there a group for the people going? I was fortunate to find a group dedicated to authors heading to UtopiaCon. I didn’t really need to ask questions because so many other people did it before I even thought of any. But I did read the discussions and follow them, and it helped me tremendously in deciding what I needed to bring with me. When you have to travel to the venue, the logistics of what and how much to bring are paramount.

3. It’s okay to sell out of a product. I sold out of HEART OF THE GOBLIN KING, and I took orders for it. I added a small fee for shipping, and boom! Done! So bring the amount of product that works without hurting you logistically (thank goodness for Southwest and their two bag allowance!). You can still sell and be successful if you have overwhelming demand beyond how much product you have in hand that day.

4. Prep your display before you show up for the event. I hadn’t done any conventions as an author, and nothing on the scale of either of the two I attended. So I researched table set up, and made notes about what has worked for other creative people who are selling at these events. You know what? It worked. I found a great blog that broke down how people decide you’re not the artistic equivalent of a used car salesman. Set up your table beforehand and look at it as dispassionately as you can. Does it appeal? Is it cluttered? (Side note: Give yourself time to set up at the venue and eyeball your table as well. De-clutter. Make everything visually appealing. If you’re not sure, bring a friend for set up to help you look at your display objectively.)

It worked. BUT – and this is a big but – it’s work. You cannot spend the time and money that working conventions takes without committing yourself to hard work. Comic Con started on June 17, and I was home and done by June 27 with both cons, and I am EXHAUSTED. Be prepared for that. Have help so you can get something to eat and drink, and the ability to go to the bathroom. These things matter as much as anything else you do, people!

5. Come up with a one line description for your work. People are moving by. They don’t want to stop and hear the entire 5 page synopsis. Make it quick, intriguing, and snappy. What would interest you as a potential reader? That’s how I developed my descriptions.

6. Don’t hard sell. People don’t mind being sold, in my opinion, if you lead them to it logically, and without a baseball bat. No one likes the used car salesman. Don’t be that guy for your book. People will nod, take your swag, and scurry away, sorry they made eye contact. That’s not the kind of impression you want to leave with them. Practice how you’re going to talk to people. This is important if you’re not really a people person. Let’s face it, writing/creating is a solitary profession. So if you’re not comfy with it, stand in front of a mirror and practice.

That leads to my final takeaway-

7. Always put yourself in the place of your audience.

I’m a reader. Most authors are readers as well. It’s part of why we write – we want to transport others as we ourselves have been transported. So what would work for you, as a reader? What sort of table display at a convention would draw you in? What kind of chat from the author would inspire you to take a chance on an author you aren’t familiar with?

What would turn you away? Think about what sort of message you like to see from those selling a product, and what works and doesn’t work for you, as the audience.

I find that if I think of my audience at all times, I tend to do things that they like. Because they’re things that I, as a reader and a fangirl of various fandoms, like.

You do all these things, and you’re probably going to have a pretty fantastic time. No voice at the end of it, but who cares? You had fun losing it!

Holy Joseph, It’s A Newsletter!

For 2016, one of my writing goals was to get my Newsletter in order, and send it out. I have a nice mailing list. I put some work into it in 2015, and it’s respectable. If you’re on it, THANK YOU! If you’re NOT – well, I’ll make it easy.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1NE9IiJ

While I am a lover of the technology, it usually takes me some time to figure out how to use it all. A mailing list and what you’re supposed to do with it is no different. It’s taken me longer than I thought because I’ve been slowly working out my organization on how to work effectively at home.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway, I have my Newsletter done. It’s good. I like it. If I got it, I wouldn’t roll my eyes. I’d open it. We’ll see how it does.

But I’m pleased, and I’ll tell you, if you’re just starting out, try MailChimp. There are other services out there, but this one is not overly difficult, and it’s free, initially. Once you hit a certain number of subscribers, it becomes a paid service, which is appropriate. The service walks you through each step, one at a time.

I had a couple of steps I needed to complete before I sent it out. I’m waiting on the last one now. But the rest is done! Once I get this last bit from the third party, I’m ready to roll!

I’m excited.

With that, I’m off. I’d love, however, to hear how some of you have managed your mailing list. Have you used MailChimp? If so, do you like it? If not, what are you using?

Cheers!

Book baby thoughts

So in two short weeks, my literary baby will be heading out to stand on its two little feet. Like any parent booting the kid out, I’m nervous.

Now that it’s finished, I know it. I KNOW it. My editor asked me a flurry of questions the other day. I knew the answers to every single thing. Some of it wasn’t anything that was in the story, but it was part of the arc that I knew. Know. By heart. After the amount of time it took to get those details sorted, that is a thrilling feeling. I’m all atwitter even as I type it.

Like a child, I know so much about Book Baby. I know the whys, and there are things that are non-negotiable. No, my character will not be buying a vowel (I used medieval spellings for some of my characters names. I’ve gotten a little…flack for that). No, I will not change that name. (Another character.) There are things that when I’ve gotten suggestions to change I think…eh. It doesn’t change what I want to share and makes the work flow smoothly, so sure. Why not? There are other things I get absolutely stalwart about and WILL. NOT. CHANGE. I’m always surprised by both.

And while the writing of it was a solitary thing, the getting the book out there is NOT. Not at all. My editor has been invaluable. My bestest critique partner has been as well. My critique groups (I have two, I know, I know, but they both kick ass, so there it is) have shown me things that I wouldn’t have considered. They’re also completely unafraid to tell me the truth. It’s couched in the criticism sandwich, but they say it.

I’ve wanted to finish and publish a novel for…oh…years. I did some serialized bits last year, but it’s not the same. Technically, it is, but it sure doesn’t feel the same. I’ve been in a daze since I concluded that I was done. And ready for the editorial eyes to latch on like a lamprey.

I was reading a blog somewhere else – it was Hugh Howey, I think – and he said that he never wanted to lose the joy that came from publishing something new. I agree. I never, ever want to lose how wonderful this feels. Of course, being able to speak coherently in full sentences would be nice, but I’ll live.

So if you have that novel lounging around in your head, waiting to get out, time to get to it. I won’t lie – getting this finished – to the point where I was no longer saying, ‘Oh! Just one more thing!’ is not easy. But it is easily one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.

So there it is. tl;dr – Go write your own Baby.

Late Night Rambles

What. A. Week.

Kids are back in school, thank god! and oh, how I miss them! Seriously, trying to keep to my writing schedule with the shorties around is going to take some work once summer hits. And it’s not like I toss them bread and scare them off with evil glares and fist shakings.  We do stuff. This spring break, we skied. Oh my lord, the best snow hit just in the last week… and I am on a deadline. I MUST find a way to get a day up there….ah. Ehem. Sorry. Got distracted.

Anyway, scheduling for summer is something that will take some consideration. Right now, we’re considering camps, LOL. Can I be squeal-ly mom for a moment? My oldest wants to take the week long sailing camp! I am so excited! He and I got out in October and had a wonderful afternoon, and we saw kids his age heading out and he was instantly intrigued. I am thrilled that at least one of my kiddos is going to (hopefully) love the water as much as I do. The younger one wants to do roller hockey. I’m totally in favor of it, as long as there’s a mouthpiece. And drama. Whatever they are interested in. We’re still searching for the thing they really love to do. I didn’t find mine until my twenties. So if they don’t, it’s fine.

Okay, enough with the distractions. I dumped quinoa on my work space this week. An entire bowl. And I was all pleased with myself because I was going to finish reading something and eat and be ready for a conference call. Ha ha! Not quite how it went down. But the quinoa is gone.

Here’s the baddie – I lost 7,000 words this week. I don’t know what happened – it’s like I didn’t even work that particular day. Nothing I worked on saved. And I saved throughout the day. I searched for the lost work, but no joy. It’s a bit alarming. On a positive note, I rewrote everything that I lost, and it was tighter, and had a better flow (like how I’m doing that?) and I moved myself into the next piece of Exciting Plot much more easily than I expected to. So that’s good.

My turn-it-in-or-you-get-banned date to Amazon is this Friday. I’m going to make it, and be in good shape, but Amazon is sending an email a day, and it makes me nervous. But I’m glad they send out the reminders. If I was still working outside the home, I’d need it.

Speaking of which, how did I get anything done when I was working? I am glued to a schedule now, and I don’t have to do anything other than shop, the errands, and some doctor appointments. All things I did when working. But I try and put in at least five hours a day on writing/writing related concerns, so I think I get edgy when I feel other non-writing things intrude on my work hours.

What else? Oh. I LURRRRVE my editor. She is a copy editor by trade, but as she reads the genre I’m writing, I asked for a reader POV. Her comments are hilarious. I scrolled through just the comments yesterday. At one point I was practically crying. And yet she swears she doesn’t like to write. But she’s so funny!

I joined another critique group. It has a different vibe than my original group – which is not bad. I really like it. It’s why I decided to keep going when they invited me to stay. I am so fortunate that I don’t have the words to express how fortunate I am. I have two groups of talented writers that I get to work with. I can tell you that even with the looming deadline this week, I’ll come home refreshed and stay up too late after each group. Because you leave there fizzling with ideas. It’s marvelous.

So I’m off. Just took a break because I can’t make my girl go where I want her to. I figured a break would be good for both of us. Maybe she’s a little less sulky. Maybe I am too.

writers block 2

Free Kindle!

Do I have your attention?

Good.

I’m sponsoring a Kindle giveaway. You’ll need to pop over and visit the site. Take a look around.

Click here!

And may I just fangirl for a moment? My lovely Thea’s Tale is right next to A Brush With The Moon of Raquel Lyon’s Foxblood series that I really enjoyed. It’s rather surreal to be parked on a bookshelf, as it were, with authors who are on your Kindle.

*sigh*

Life is good. Now go and win yourself a Kindle!

Using Tech…for everything

Sooooo……I have been getting myself together, so to speak. As you might have noticed via the Welcome page, my book is FINALLY about to be released. AKA I FINALLY got off my duff, wrote the thing, and took the steps needed to get it out into the public eye. Let’s be honest here. I’m the only one holding myself back.

However, there is a road block. And it’s technology.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some techie stuff. Not that I USE it as much as I should, nor do I maximize the technology available to me. I am well aware of my shortcomings. But good grief! The things one must learn to set up an internet presence – I used to think it was easy peasy.

To an extent, it is. But then, you get into specifics. And certain pages/software/programs are not friendly with others – which means you must find a go-around to accomplish what it is you want. It means for every item on your To Do list, there are four or five more items in subheadings underneath.

However, I do feel that I have come to a place where I look out over my internet playground, my massive presence (stop laughing!), and feel pretty damn good. As much as I love tech, I remember when the first personal computers came out. We didn’t have computers in the classroom when I was in school. You took a separate class for Computer Science – even in college. I had a desktop in college, and I was considered fortunate.

Now, my kiddos use tech to sign in each morning, order their lunch, communicate with their teacher (seriously, my kids have Google accounts so they can send Docs back and forth to the the teachers), communicate with each other, with me – and these kids are not in junior high! It’s amazing.

I’ve tried to embrace it, and I think on a slightly deeper-than-superficial level I have. But learning what I need to do business primarily online has been like going back to school. This means pulling out my reading glasses, and reading the How To pages several times over to make sure I am doing it right.

Usually I am not. At least the first time.

But I get there.

Today, my kiddo asked me, since his iPhone was offering an update for an Apple watch, when he was getting his. He was taken aback that no, it didn’t come automatically. Tech to the school aged generation is something completely different than it is to my slightly older Gen X self. It’s not as automatic to me, whereas to my kiddos, they don’t even see it as a thing. It’s just there.

I’m sure my parents felt the same when I moaned and carried on about where was my boom box, and how I just needed one.

boombox

(Have a cookie if the dude carrying the box means something to you as well!)

Thoughts on Publishing

So my publication date is just under 2 months out. I’m so excited, when I can get a chance to think on it. I am awash – awash, I tell you, in things that need to get done. (Gratuitous plug – See my Welcome page for my gorgeous cover of Thea’s Tale, the first book in the Sisters Of The Curse series. That is a real woman used as the model. She is HAWT. Seriously.)

Edits, fiddling, edits, more fiddling, and the big one – Marketing. So I have done what many before me have done – headed to Dr. Google, to see what I might find.

One of the reasons I have decided to go indie is because I love the idea of charting my own course, steering my own ship, captaining my own destiny (I think I miss sailing!) – even if I don’t have insta-success. I look at this as a marathon. Part of that whole chart/steer/captain thing is how to prepare your book to be read by the crowds and how to get your book to them.

There are many authors who are willing to help you with this. I have found an absolute wealth of information on the Writer’s Cafe in the KBoards forums. There are pros and cons as there are with all public forums but you can lurk and read to your heart’s content. I highly recommend it. You’ll learn a lot, even if you never make a single post. The authors there are wonderful. And they discuss everything, so poke around.

Compare that with the services you, as an indie author, might need. There are some services you should pay for if you can’t do it yourself. For me, that was a cover. I can barely manage Paint. Another is editing – I love commas and long sentences. I also love to begin sentences with ‘So’. I need help. I don’t mind paying a reasonable price for it.

Here’s where Dr. Google comes in. Do your homework. If you need a cover, go and seek out cover artists. Read the KBoards, or Absolute Write, and see what other authors are paying. Same with editing. Or blog tours, or whatever aspect of publishing assistance you need.

As I have been working through the things I need to do, and need to know, the scams I come across are wretched. Absolutely wretched. Most of us get into this with a small budget. We don’t have tons of cash to throw, and have to manage it carefully. So do your homework before signing up for a service that promises to do it all for you. As referenced above, I have a few things I am absolutely paying for. But others – I am doing it myself. I’m still going for commercial quality and a professional product. That doesn’t mean I have to pay tens of thousands to someone to get that.

This was brought on by reading some of David Gaughran’s blog posts. He’s a great resource if you are going indie – and he consistently champions ethics in the author services industry. Go read his blog. You’ll find lots that will be useful.

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/

This is kind of a ramble, I know. I mentioned that I am overwhelmed, and that’s not an exaggeration. I keep reading that there has never been a better time to write, and I think that’s probably true (I’ll give you more of an update on that after I publish). I know that I have been able to find out more about the mechanics of it, and how to make it happen for me than I ever thought possible.

The tl:dr shortcut – do your homework. Don’t just throw money at it. See how others have done it before you. See what may work for you.

And keep writing. Today was a bust (I was hauling some tasty items that I scored on the local yard sale site) but yesterday, and Wednesday – 16,000 words. Shoved my girls across a bridge of hell in terms of plot. It left me wrung out over the keyboard, but hey! More words, and the girls are now where they need to be.

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