Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Publishing Top Ten Wish List

Everyone has their own wish list. It’s no different in the indie publishing industry. We all have things we want to see come about, and I’m no exception.

Somewhere in my forays I read an article, and in it, the writer spoke a profound truth. He said something to the effect of the fact that everyone wants a blockbuster bestseller, but that’s not common. Even if you manage that, when the dust settles, what’s your long-term goal, your five-year goal, followed by your ten-year goal? Most indie writers don’t even think about that. Instead, they write a book, slap a cover on it, and hit “publish” on Amazon without thinking any farther than that, except, of course, about the vacations to Cancun and brand-new Jaguars they'll buy with that fortune they're going to make.

Gotta admit, the guy had a point.

I have my own wish list. Call it my “Top Ten” if you’d like. Let me share it with you. As I do, I hope you’ll give it some thought.
I want to make a living at this crazy vocation. It’s unlikely that I will, but I’d love to be able to, or at least supplement our income. Right now, I’d take making enough money to cover the book covers, formatting, proof copies from Createspace, swag, banners, mileage and gasoline, all of that. It’s a dream, I know, but I’d love to be able to do that.

I know you're thinking, "Wait! Making a living as an author is her number ten? Seriously?" Yeah. Serious as a heart attack. Read on.

I want to wake up every day happy that I’m a writer. I’m not talking about being an author; I’m talking about being a writer. I am an author, but before, during, and after being an author, I was, am, and will be a writer. I want to remember why I’m doing this in the first place and fall in love every day with the freedom of expression that I have. If I get too lost in the commercial side, I’ll forget all that. I don’t want to do that – ever.

We've got a lot of frickin' "authors" out there, people. We need some writers.

I want my family to finally be proud of me. I know that’s asking a lot – what kid wants their friends to know their mom writes “porn?” – but it would be nice. I’m not expecting them to like my books, but I would like for them to acknowledge how hard I’m working.

I’d like to meet more interesting people, talk to them, get to know them. I love doing that. Yeah, I’m scared shitless, but I’d still like to do it. I get really, really nervous when I’m in a crowd, and especially a crowd of people I don’t know, but I like to laugh and smile. I’d like to share that with others.

I’d like to find a way to really help other authors who are just getting started. I’m no expert, but I share anything I can with anyone who asks. I’m just that way. Sometimes I get taken advantage of, true (someone always tells me I’m too nice, and I’m sure she’s right). But I still will help if I’m asked. And, for the record, I’m not talking about these airheads who have glaring grammatical errors in their book titles, for the love of god, or the ones who think the past tense of lie (as in recline) is lied. I don’t have time for that – at all. I’m working here. Stop being sloppy and lazy or don’t expect my help. I’ll help anyone, but I want to know they’re helping themselves.

And by the way, that old saying that everyone has a book in them? Not true. And even if they do, perhaps for some of them it would be better if they kept that to themselves.

I’d like to be recognized as an author. I’m not talking about winning all kinds of awards, or being on magazine covers, or any of that stuff. One of the most thrilling things that happened to me lately was when I posted a picture of my family and me at a local winery and had someone on Facebook say, “I thought you looked familiar! We were sitting at the table on the other end!” I told her she should’ve come on down and had a seat with us. We were acting stupid and having a good time. We always do. And the more, the merrier. Plus if they recognize me, I want to be approachable and to show them that we’re not “rockstars,” as so many people have said. We’re just people who want to share a few good stories with the world. That’s all

I want sales, but not in the way most of my peers think. Sure, I like a high sales day. Who doesn’t? That’s nice occasionally. But actually, I’d rather have something that builds and grows steadily, not something that comes in a rush and then dies down. I’d rather sell ten books a day than fifty in one day and then only one or two, sometimes none, the other days of the month. Why? Because I know that once I’ve sold ten books a day, it’ll go up to eleven, then to fifteen, then to twenty, and after a while I’m doing very well. I want sales that are sustainable. That’s what I’m patiently working toward.

I want to surround myself with creative people. I hate Facebook, but that’s the one thing I love about it. So many of the people I know on there are ridiculously talented, and I love that. Creative people need to be with other creative people. There aren’t very many other authors around here, so being in an environment, even a virtual one, with so many more is a dream come true. A writer’s life can be pretty solitary, but now it doesn’t have to be.

I want to craft the absolute best stories I can and make them the absolute best finished product anyone could manage. I agonize over every word, edit until my eyes bleed, and even read them out loud to myself at least three times to make sure I did my best. So far, I’m told I do an excellent job of it. I’d like to think so. I strive for quality, and I hope it shows. When people read my work, I want them to laugh and cry and maybe even want to slap their mama sometimes. I want the characters to leap off the page for them. Mostly, I want them to enjoy themselves with my work. That’s why I’m doing it.

The thing I want most is . . . well, let me explain like this.

I was having a conversation in a private message with a member of my street team; for the record, she’s someone I highly respect. Here’s what she said to me, as I recall. She told me she couldn’t understand why my books weren’t flying “off the shelves” because they’re good. She said I was the hardest-working author she knew. And she said that, because of me, she had faith in the industry, and that if I ever gave up and quit, she’d completely lose faith. I should just tell you, when the conversation was over, I sat and wept.

So here’s my promise: I will never quit unless finances or health require me to do so. I have a team behind me and they believe in me. And I would never, never dishonor their faith in me by being a flake or a quitter. Never. If they’ll hang in there with me, I’ll most definitely hang in there. Thanks, Construction Crew. You’re my lifeline. You keep me humble by not treating me like I’m anyone special, and you keep me going with your encouragement. Sometimes I want to quit, but I won’t. So thank you. And thanks to the best promo person in the whole word over at DRC Promotions. She’s outrageously talented, spectacularly organized (which is a really, really good thing for me), and supremely efficient. I’m in awe, and I can’t thank her enough. And her sidekick is pretty damn special too.

So what’s my number one thing? I want to last. I want to be here when the rest have given up, become disillusioned, and finally admitted it’s not an easy way to make a buck. In ten years, when you come here and check on me, I’ll still be doing this, and I’ll still be loving it and having fun. I'm not talking about getting rich; I'm talking about being successful. I want to be successful and to know that my success has helped others become successful too. That’s what I want most of all.

Here’s to ten years. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Reads: Been Loving You Too Long by Seraphina Donavan

I’m trying to do something that will help my readers possibly branch out in their reading repertoire, and I’m trying to help the authors whose work I feature, primarily because I like their books. As I’ve said so many times before, THESE ARE NOT REVIEWS. If I don’t like a book, I won’t even give it a place on this blog because, whether I liked it or not, that’s still free advertising. (*This disclaimer has been given because I've been INUNDATED with people asking me to review books. THIS IS NOT A REVIEW, AND I'M NOT A REVIEWER! How hard is that to understand?)

SURPRISE!!!! With that said, I have a book that surprised me when I read it. I received it from the author as a giveaway at a conference last year. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to it, but I saw it there one day, beckoning to me, so I picked it up to give it a try, and I’m certainly glad I did. Today on the blog I’m featuring Been Loving You Too Long by Seraphina Donavan.

As it started out, I was a little worried about whether I’d finish the book or not. It’s a familiar trope: Rich guy who’s about to come into some money (or not) falls for the hired help. Along the way some other familiar tropes fall into the story but, as always, no spoilers here for me. So let me tell you what I liked about this book.

First off, it wasn’t rife with mistakes. Sure, there were some punctuation issues that I would change personally, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t correct, just my personal preferences (and yes, there is more than one way to punctuate a great many things, and none are necessarily incorrect). The rest of the mechanical stuff, grammar, punctuation, spelling, missing/extra words – this was a very clean text. That alone is enough to make me clap.

My biggest selling point on the book was that I found both of the main characters, Vincent and Ophelia, to be extremely likeable. Yeah, there was angst, of course there was angst, but it was realistic and palatable. But what I usually hate about these kinds of storylines is that the leading man is usually a real douchebag. This story wasn’t that way at all. I found Vincent, the main character, to be tragic in his reactions and my heart broke for him and the way he couldn’t bring himself to accept his own feelings. I also loved the fact that, while she had every right to be, Ophelia never turned into a four-door, brass-plated bitch, but instead just tried her hardest to keep her heart and self-esteem intact.

But I also liked the supporting characters. Thomas was likeable, as was Justin, but Kaitlyn was just a scream – I love her. Ophelia’s friend, Brenna, is a hoot too. And the “bad guys,” Claude and his daughter, Melina, are just about as sour and unlikeable as any pair I’ve ever seen. And you know how I feel about characters. If I can’t like them or hate them, if it’s a take them or leave them, I’ll leave the book. This book delivered characters I loved.

I have a rule that no word is too dirty to use in my books. With that in mind, I found Been Loving You Too Long to be a softer read; not cooler, just softer. It’s still plenty steamy. You’ll enjoy that factor. Overall, the writing lent the book a vintage feel, and I loved that about it, especially given the setting (not telling you; you’ll have to read it).

The ending is, as with all tropes, predictable, but there was still a feeling of complete satisfaction. I don’t get that with many device-laden reads, but this one did it for me. I was impressed. If I understand correctly, there will be more books in this series. I’ll be looking for them, and I certainly hope one of them is Kaitlyn’s. I’d love to hear more from her! If you get a chance, buy a copy of Been Loving You Too Long and enjoy it, because I know you will.