Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What the Hell is an Author Platform, Anyway?

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today, we're gonna talk about that little thing called an author platform. Everyone uses the term, but few take the time to tell you exactly what it is and how to build it. Well, I'll rectify that! Get your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

When you think of a platform, you think of something you can stand on, right? Either to get a better look or to boost you up, support you. It's the same when referring to an author platform; only for authors, this also entails reach, or how loud your voice is in the social sphere.

Your platform is that which you may climb upon and scream a message to the masses that gets heard. Obscure sites don't really count when you're calculating reach--unless those obscure sites have rabid book fans that belong to you and you alone.

Social media sites, personal websites, blogs, and newsletters all add up to author platform, but a couple have more impact for you personally. Here's an example:
  1. Twitter--4k followers
  2. IG--13k followers
  3. Blog--2k subscribers
  4. Website--200 visitors per day
  5. Newsletter--20k subscribers
  6. Quora--2k followers
  7. Facebook Page (public)--4k likes
  8. Facebook Page (personal)--3k friends
  9. LinkedIN--300 connections
  10. Google Plus--2k connections
  11. YouTube Channel--150 subscribers
Now, you're probably looking at that and saying, "Wow. That's an amazing catch of numbers at around 105k!" You'd be right, but let's break it down further. Out of those followers, subscribers, and connections, how many people actually engage with your content?
  1. Twitter--5 to 10
  2. IG--50-60
  3. Blog--20-30
  4. Website--2-4
  5. Newsletter--100-200
  6. Quora--2-4
  7. Facebook Page (public)--2-5
  8. Facebook Page (personal)--20-30
  9. LinkedIN--1-3
  10. Google Plus--2-5
  11. YouTube Channel--50-70
That hit pretty hard, huh? On the lowest number, that took you to 254. Out of 105k. Well, you can break that down even further when you look at sales generated from each method. IG has high likes, but how many true sales?

Your bottom line number is your true platform. For every comment, click through to buy, share, plus one, like, or question asked, that's an engagement, but not a sale. You can't simply count opens of a newsletter--it needs to produce clicks. That's where the value of your platform lies.

As you can see, you need a HUGE platform to get enough sales to make a difference. This is why cross-author promotion is so helpful--but it only helps if your base platform and theirs are interested in the same genre. Imagine doubling or quadrupling those numbers above.

I know, right?

Anyway, I hope this helps to clear some of the fog off that vague "platform" term. When an agent asks about your platform, they wanna know how loud your voice is--they're looking for that second set of numbers.

What number would you say your platform is at?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Pre-Formatting Your Book - The Dos and Don'ts Your Formatter Wants You to Know

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'll be talking about something that not many folks discuss: How you should format your word document before you send it off to your formatter for typesetting and digital readiness. Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, a notebook and pen, and let's get going!

I'm just gonna hit you with a couple of lists. Easy peasy.

  • Use "normal" style always.
  • Add some indicator when creating a scene break (most authors I work with use *** for this).
  • Keep it simple. If there's a place you'd like a photo, don't embed it, mark the spot and include the photo with the manuscript.
  • Everything set in one font, and don't use anything that's not standard on a computer. I suggest Times New Roman in 12pt.
  • Use paragraph styles for your indents.
  • Include a title page, copyright page with all relevant info, and author bio page at the end.
  • Break your pages between chapters ONLY. Use Ctrl (or Cmnd) + Enter (or Return).
  • If you have a section you want set in a special way, note it in BOLD and use [brackets]. Tell your formatter beforehand that it's there. 
  • Title all your chapters the same way (whatever you want the end result to be: Chapter 1, Chapter One, Ch1, etc...).
  • Do not use tabs (see above note on paragraph styles).
  • No LARGE or special fonts. This will get stripped out anyway.
  • Don't hit enter a bunch of times between chapters to force the next one down.
  • Don't just add extra carriage returns between scene breaks. This looks like a mistake and could be removed on accident by your formatter.
  • Nothing fancy. Your MS should just be words on the page.
  • Do NOT use TABS. Yeah, it bears repeating.
  • Don't make assumptions that the formatter will know anything you intended in your head. Give them instructions. Be specific if your book calls for special treatment.
  • No colored fonts, please.
  • No wingdings or emoticons. If you want a smiley, let the formatter know in the email where you attach your manuscript.
If you follow these guidelines, it'll speed up production of your book tenfold. Special things the formatter misses the first time around causes a re-do, and it just leaves you both stressed.

I hope this helps in some small way. Your formatter is there to make your dreams a reality. They're the ones that polish your baby before you show it to your friends, family, and the world. Help them help you!

If you're looking for formatting services, take a gander at IBGW.

Are you guilty of any of these?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Barnes and Noble Yanks Books - Smashwords Offers Solution

Happy Thursday, everyone! Well, what an interesting month it's been, eh? Let's get to the publishing news, just in case you haven't seen it. Strap in, grab your coffee, and let's get going!

Over the last month or so, B&N has pulled several Indie erotica titles off their platform. Authors who were hybrid experienced an interesting effect when their Indie titles dropped off, but their publisher titles stayed up. What are they worried about? Well, if you caught my post from a while back that tackled the subject of what content would be allowed in books, you'll know. If you missed it, take a look here.

So, it seems the taboo topics are under fire. Namely:  Age play, bestiality, dubious consent, incest or pseudo-incest, non-consensual sexual slavery, rape for titillation, underage, snuff, scat, necrophilia.

Some of those have "never" been allowed.

Or have they?

According to the Smashwords blog, few retailers will take incest or pseudo-incest, and iBooks won't take them at all.

I beg to differ. After a quick search on B&N, I found the time-honored (even made into a movie) Flowers in the Attic series. I read that series. Not only do the children locked in the attic (the elder brother and sister) experience a coming-of-age sexual happening, but their mother slept with her uncle to conceive said children (which is why the grandmother wanted the kiddos to disappear). Sorry for the spoiler for those of you that haven't read it and had planned to.

Once I checked that out, I went over to iBooks. Guess what?

Yeah. There it is, but iBooks doesn't take books with incest in them?

By the way, it's also available on Amazon.

Doesn't it seem an awful lot like it's just Indie published books that are being targeted? Why not yank V. C. Andrews' books from those same platforms? If there's a taboo topic, she covered it. I've read several of her series, and MANY of them have incest happening across all arms of the family.

Guess what else? There are no "warnings" of sensitive material on ANY of those.

But JO! Those are referring to EROTICA titles.

Are they? Now, since the Great Blocking of Indies, if your book is erotica or not, you have to say whether you used one of those taboo topics. Yeah, even for sci-fi or paranormal.


Do the publishers get to skirt all that? They do. It's obvious by what I've shown above. I'm positive there are others.

Smashwords is trying to provide a solution for Indies and restore trust with their retailers. Read about it on their latest blog post here, which is where the list of taboo topics above came from.

But, the bottom line is, Smashwords shouldn't have to. It's getting out of hand, and something needs to change.

If you publish fiction with one of the taboo topics listed above, please go update your books on Smashwords. It's now part of their ToS, and if you're caught not labeling them, you'll be banned from using them as a distributor.


Can you name a trad pubbed book with one of the above topics?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is it Wrong to Expect Readers to be Active Participants in the Story?

Happy Thursday! Today, we're gonna talk about description, how it might impact the reader, and what authors might or might not expect from the consumer. Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

So, I'm on the phone yesterday with an author friend of mine, and we got into talking about what we expect from our readers. Both of us agreed that we write with the assumption that the person picking up the book has a brain and understands the basics of the world they live in.

For example: If you say someone walks into a bedroom, do you need to write out to the reader that there's a bed, or is that something you can expect them to infer by telling them it's a bedroom?

Several writers will go into great detail about the room's furniture, but those machinations are usually reserved for the times that it matters, right? Say, if there's something "off" about the decor, or if the bed is an antique and should be admired for a moment. Even if the scene calls for a description to tell the reader it's a male's room or a sex cave, that's okay. But if the character is just walking into a bedroom, is it really necessary to bog the reader down with minute details right off the bat?

Here are some other ways to work those details into the story without having an information dump--again, unless the character is actively admiring, or scrutinizing, the decor:
  • As the person is active in the room, they run their hands over things like the brocade on the chaise lounge.
  • When they tell someone else to sit, it could be noted they made the choice of where to place the person based on potential comfort level.
  • If the character lies on the bed naked, the satin sheets could feel cool on the skin.
  • While they're being made to wait, they can then notice one thing about the room and scrutinize it to give their brain a distraction.
There are several ways of describing a room's contents without going into infodump mode, as you can see above. Unless you're actively trying to slow the story down, is it really necessary to tell the reader everything that's in a common room (bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, etc...)?

I think, perhaps, we should give our readers a little credit and assume they have brains in their heads. If I read that someone is sitting at the bar in the kitchen, I have a pretty good idea of what that room will look like.

I've gone into description and when it's useful in this post, and I went into how to paint the scene in this post. If you're looking to heighten tension with description, here's a post I wrote a while back that breaks it down (this post also compares showing and telling).

What do you think? Do you expect a more active participation from your readers, or do you spoon feed them all the things?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Sprints - What and How

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today's post is informational. If you already know what writing sprints are and how to do them, then feel free to scroll on down to the bottom for the 411 part. For those of you that aren't familiar with sprints, let's get going!

With NaNoWriMo only a month and a half away, authors are gearing up to write furiously for the thirty days of November by plotting their novels and planning how to write 50k words.

Writing sprints are a solution! What's a writing sprint? Well, let's go into that.

A writing sprint is when you write as many words as you can in a set amount of time. Usually, they're set up like so and are done on some form of social media so everyone can comment their word count:
  1. You find a group of authors willing to sprint.
  2. Someone volunteers to be timekeeper.
  3. You set an amount of time (usually 15-30 minutes).
  4. Whoever the timekeeper is tells everyone to GO and starts the timer.
  5. Everyone writes like crazy people.
  6. Timekeeper posts STOP and requests word counts from participants (and posts their own).
  7. There's a five to ten minute resting period, and it happens again.
  8. Whoever has the most words gets a huge thumbs up (there are no prizes usually).
  9. It repeats for one to two hours (usually--I've seen folks do three or four).
That's it. So easy, right? I've seen people log upwards of 6k words during these sprints, so I know they work. Your word count isn't really the target. This is to get you writing, to get words on the page. Progress is progress.

So, to make it a little easier to sprint, I created a group over on FB. It's kinda quiet, but I'm hoping that will change--I have big plans for that group!

If you'd like to join up, here's the linky: Writing Sprints Group on Facebook

I hope to see you there!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

CRAY-Z Weeks - Updates and Such

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Holy crow, what a nutty few weeks it's been. Today's post is just a little what-not about what's been going on and why the blog has been so everloving silent. Ready? Grab your coffee (or tea), and let's get going!

So, after my London trip, I know you've noticed things have been rather quiet around here. It's hard to get back into the groove after being bombarded on all sides by people, but that wasn't the only issue. My husband was overly stressed, and he had to travel to another state to be with his father in his last few days.

Let me tell you what, trying to concentrate on anything when you wish you were with someone you love while they're going through a hard time isn't easy. I'd just come "down" from the overseas trip, and I thought I was ready to get back on the pony, when all this started.

Sad to say, my father-in-law took his last breath on September 11. I jumped right on a plane, and just returned home Saturday. Now, I sit here, wondering if I'm going to be able to get back on my schedule. I believe I'll be tweaking it today and starting fresh tomorrow. Some things worked, and others, not so much. But you never know until you try! I did well for a month or two, but a couple of things just weren't given enough time (like my blog), and I found myself scrambling to get it done in the short time I'd allotted. If you have suggestions for new topics, drop them in here.

That all changes this week. If you've been following me a while, you'll know I have two events at the end of October. I'll TRY to post during that week I'm on the road, but I'm making no promises. Keep up with my Facebook page, because I intend to have live video happening when I do my keynote speech. Yeah, it won't be me manning my device, but I promise it'll be live--October 20 at around 9am EST. WHEEEEEEEEE!!

On another note, Utterances is about 20-25k from being complete. That story is draining as hell. Very emotional. I'm gonna try like hell to have it out before Christmas. Send me good vibes! LOL!

One upside to all of this is that my road trip is with another author, Tia Bach, so we'll probably spend a good amount of time writing in the evenings. Maybe even plot new novels together. How exciting would that be? *grin*

As for events, these are my last for a lonnnnnng time. I'm only doing Roanoke Author Invasion next year, so if you wanna see me, you'll have to either come to OIBF or GLBB this year, or RAI next year. After that, I'm giving it a rest for a while and getting back to what I do best: WRITING.

November is NaNo month, and I'm planning to get back on my serial killer novel then. Anyone else going to write all the words that month?

Drop your NaNo name in the comments, and I'll give you a friend request/follow before then. Or, you can friend me here.

Well, I've chatted your ears off long enough. Time to get to revamping my schedule! That's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Great Lakes Book Bash 2017 Ticket Sale

Happy Saturday! Now, you know I wouldn't be bugging you folks on the weekend unless it was really important, right? If you're planning to attend GLBB in October of this year, you'll want to read this! Ticket prices are insanely low! Get your clicking fingers ready, and get going!

 ✬✬✬ ➡ TICKET SALE ⬅ ✬✬✬

Are you planning on attending Great Lakes Book Bash this October? Have you purchased your VIP tickets yet? Single day tickets?

Take advantage of our FINAL ticket sale of the year to save 50% off your purchase.

That makes your VIP ticket only $10!!!

VIP tickets gets you…
* A GLBB 2017 tote bag
* Admission to the event on Friday
* Admission to the informational sessions on Friday
* EARLY admission to the event on Saturday

Ticket link: http://bit.ly/GLBB2017

Discount Code: BOOK

Sale price only valid 9/2-9/4/17.

Great Lakes Book Bash
October 27 & 28, 2017
Radisson Plaza Hotel
Kalamazoo, MI

For more information visit www.greatlakesbookbash.com

Attending Authors…

Abigail Grey
A.D. Saddler
Alora Kate
Amazeballs Book Addicts – 2017 OFFICIAL GLBB SPONSOR
Anjela Renee
Anna Reanult
Becca Vincenza
Bev Davis
CC Dragon
Charles Stern
Christina L. Barr
City and Book
Cover Me, Darling – 2017 OFFICIAL GLBB SPONSOR
D.B. James
Deedle Miyares
Delphina Henley
Diana Plopa
Donald Levin
Dora Badger
Elisabeth Popolow
Elizabeth Meyette
Ellie Wade
Emily Goodwin
Emma Shade
G.S. Scott
Heather Mullins
Indie Books Gone Wild
Janet Brown
Jen Cousineau
Jennifer Friess
Jimmy Leonard
✬✬✬ Jo Michaels ✬✬✬
Kacey Hammell
Kathy Coopmans
Kelsey Fox
K.L. Roth
KS Adkins
Kyleigh Castronaro
Linda K Sienkiewicz
Lindee Robinson Photography
Mark Love
Meg Farrell
Melanie Jayne
Melissa Keir
Misty Provencher
M.R. Polish – 2017 GLBB Keynote Speaker
N.J. Ember
Rachael Brownell – 2017 GLBB HOSTESS
Sanzaki Kojika
Samantha Cole
Sara Fiorenzo
Sarah Grimm
S.E. Brown
S.E. Summa
SF Benson
SJ Maylee
Skye Falcon
Stacey Rourke
Sylvia Hubbard
Sylvia Stein
Terri George
Tia Silverthorne Bach
Victoria Scott
Zoe Blake

As you can see, I'll be there! LOL! Will I see you?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!