Indie Author

The Writing Gardner

After being attacked by what may be one of the world’s nastiest bugs, I’m happy to report that I’m on the mend – AND – ever so grateful for good health!

I wish I could say that all of my down time wasn’t wasted – that I had used that time to write.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  My body hurt.  My head hurt.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  And that’s pretty much what I did – from the couch to my bed.  I didn’t realize one person could sleep so much…

Needless to say, when Saturday rolled around and the afternoon high topped out in the upper 60’s, I took advantage of feeling better.  I started my first container garden.  In the past, I’ve always planted the old fashioned way – tilling the soil, preparing the rows, etc. Containers were for city folk…

Or are they?

Having fresh vegetables is important to me – especially ones that haven’t been sprayed with boo-koos of pesticides.

And

Finding time to prepare the garden, work my job, and write… There just wasn’t enough time in the day.

So, I’ve decided to give this a try.

Container Gardening

Not sure how this is going to turn out but hoping I’m working smarter (not harder)!  Keep your fingers crossed – because I don’t necessarily have the greenest thumb.

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Flash Fiction – Because She Loves Me

I open the window, allowing a light breeze and the neighborhood noises to come inside.  The curtains flutter, a horn sounds and I am reminded of another time.  Slowly, I make my way around the bed, stopping when I reach my chair.

“There was a time when I was just like our neighbors—always in a hurry, needing to be somewhere, trying to make a dollar.  Yep.  But that was a long time ago.  Back then, I thought I had it all figured out.  Work hard.  Pay the bills.  Take care of the family.  It’s what my father did so that’s what I did.  Hell, it’s what I taught our boy, John, to do.”

My easel is situated by Martha’s bed, across from the window, which offers a surprisingly wonderful view of a dogwood tree. Picking up the paintbrush, I dip the fine bristles into a dab of paint and smear it around on the pallet before gently adding the color to my canvas.  I pause long enough to look at Martha, hoping that maybe I’d see a glimmer in her eyes.  I don’t.

Martha was my high school sweetheart, the first girl I ever kissed.  As faithful as the day is long, that’s my Martha.  I think she deserved better than me.

“Remember how we always talked about going on that vacation?  You wanted to go to Paris and I wanted to see the pyramids…” I chuckle, patting Martha’s leg with my free hand.  “I should have taken you to Paris…”

I continue to dabble paint onto the canvas.  “I called John, yesterday.  But he wasn’t home.  Laura said something about him working overtime.  Said she’d have him call.  Maybe she forgot to give him the message…”

I glance at Martha, her eyes have become window into the bleakness of Alzheimer’s.  And once again, I feel the loss of her companionship, her quick wit, her constant support.  Tucking my hurt in a little box, I lock it away and focus on my painting.  “You know, Sweetheart, sitting here with you, painting and all—I reckon I have time to wonder what our life would have been like if I had followed my dreams.  Who knows?  We could have lived in Paris—me painting and you learning to cook French cuisine…  Who am I kidding?  You probably would have taught the French a thing or two about cooking!” I smile to myself.  “You deserved Paris.  Instead you got me…”

coupleI remember how pretty she looked, standing at the train station, waiting to welcome me home.  It was thoughts of her that got me through boot camp.  It was thoughts of her that accompanied me to Korea and it was thoughts of her that kept me going during my time in that frozen hell.

Laying down my paintbrush, I turn to her, lifting her soft, delicate hand to my lips.  “I must be the luckiest man in the world, having you for my wife.  I don’t know why a girl like you would have ever wanted someone like me.”

Clarity.  I see it in her eyes.  No matter how fleeting, I pray for these moments.  “Lo-ve you,” her voice croaks.

“Martha,” I cry as the spark fades away…  And this is why she deserved Paris—because she loves me.

-Deb

(Originally written in 2014)

Who’s Selling My Books?

For those of us who self published, we took on the responsibility of marketing our books. Whether or not they get noticed falls on our shoulders and it’s a daunting task.  It’s kind of like hoping someone will notice a single snowflake in a blizzard.

wp_ss_20160320_0006I pulled up my book on Amazon and realized that other sellers are offering it as low as $5.15.  To be honest, I can’t really figure out how that is happening especially since nearly all my sales have been e-Books and Amazon is getting it directly from CreateSpace.

Locally, my paperbacks are available in a couple of stores and at festivals that I attend.  I realize that the world is small but I can’t imagine how one of those books have ended up across the ocean and as far away as India.

What I know is this – I keep a small number of books on hand. There hasn’t been a huge printing because I’m the publisher and unlike big publishing houses, my printing budget is quite limited.

question

Hmmm…

I wouldn’t have a problem with finding my book in a used book store or at a yard sale. I figure I’ve been paid and the buyer is free to do with it what they will.  Okay – I’d rather it not end up in a bonfire…

But if it does, hopefully someone from the press is covering the burning…

I just have to assume that I’ve been paid for the books these online sellers are offering.

Being self published, I don’t know or understand all of the contractual details between writers and their publishing houses.  I haven’t a clue as to how they work out the difference with books that don’t sale.  It’s something I’ve never given much thought to until recently.

At my local Dollar Store, books – both hard and soft covers – can be purchased for (drum roll please) $1.00.  I always assumed these books were out of print, that instead of the publisher sending the books to be shredded/recycled, they chose to sell them for cents on the dollar – hoping to recoup some of their investment.

On a whim, I purchased three books.  Two were hard covers, one was a paperback.
When I got home, I visited Amazon and received quite the surprise.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness was available in either print and or e-Book.  With only 20 paperbacks left in stock, I feel pretty safe in assuming that the publisher has essentially removed the book from print and perhaps tried to recoup some of their investment.

Shame by Greg Garrett was available only as an e-Book. (Other online sellers were offering it for as low as $0.01 plus shipping.)

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Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan:  Amazon had 16 paperbacks left in stock. Like the other books, private sellers were offering it for as low as a penny (plus shipping).wp_ss_20160320_0005

That’s the thing, just because a book is out of print doesn’t mean it’s out of print as far as e-Books go.  And while I don’t have a dog in this particular fight, it does seem a bit unfair to the authors that their hard cover/paperbacks are being sold for a buck and they aren’t being compensated.

I guess you have to consider the potential trade-off. A reader who isn’t familiar with an author and buys his/her book from a dollar store and likes what they read, might be more likely to purchase another book or e-Book at full price. In a way, its kind of like a weird marketing plan. The same might be applied to used book stores and online sellers. Maybe dropping $10.00 on an e-Book written by an unfamiliar author is out of the question for some readers.  Whereas, we might be more inclined to pay that price for a book written by someone we trust to tell a good story. Seriously, it’s that line of thinking that has many authors choosing to offer a book for free.

As for the online sellers offering my books – they probably aren’t having much success. It’s hard to compete with  a 99 cents e-Book.  And while my books aren’t free, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m virtually unknown. I’m just holding onto the hope that someone notices this snowflake in the blizzard of published books.

-Deb

 

My Writing Mantra

One of the blogs I try to follow is WRITERS IN THE STORM. Their Jan 01, 2016 post What Word Will Guide Your Writing in 2016 by Orly Konig-Lopez was awesome. Click here to read.

When it comes to my writing, last year left a lot to be desired.  I worked on two manuscripts but failed to complete either. As for my blog, well let’s just say I could have done better. With each disappointment, determination seeped away. Procrastination took the place of discipline. Writing became a chore.  I felt edgy and unfulfilled.

I decided my word would be:  REFOCUS

I recently finished reading a novel by Greg Garrett called Shame.  Without going into detail, let me just say this was the perfect end of the year read. One line from the book stuck with me:

 What could have been is the greatest enemy of what is.

I had a choice – I could continue to carry the weight of all those unrealized goals and expectations or I could let it go.

2016:  A new year.  A new slate.  A chance to refocus, to give myself permission to selfishly guard my writing time. And I did it.  Sunday, I set aside three hours and I wrote.  It was wonderful and I felt like I could breathe again.

So how about you?  Have you chose a word or phrase to guide your writing?

 

 

 

So You’re Booking A Virtual Book Tour?

Imagine if you will:

You’ve published your novel.  Your mom, sister and best friend have purchased it. Your cousin smiled and asked for a free copy while your neighbor has studiously avoided you since you announced your happy news.

Your sales report from KDP is nothing short of humbling.

Now what?

You’ve checked into several options and seeing as how your marketing budget is quite limited.  You’ve decided to take your book on tour – a virtual tour.

STOP!

Before you go any further, before you sign on the dotted line, let me share a little of my experience as both a touring author and hosting blogger…

thinkingClose your eyes and picture yourself sitting at a table in your favorite bookstore.  There’s a line of people eager to meet you, patiently waiting for you to sign their copy of your novel. Of course, you smile.  You schmooze. You pull out your trusty pen and you sign your name with a flourish – just as you’ve practiced so many times before.

Now:  Open your eyes and let’s talk about your virtual book tour.  Because while they are much the same, they are uniquely different. Instead of a line of people physically standing in front of you, there will be countless people sitting in front of their computer screens.

First:  Do your homework.  Make sure that the tour organizer you’ve selected is a good fit for your book.  This is easy enough to figure out. Sometimes, you can tell just by the name.  (ex:  Deb’s Chic Lit Tours) Other times,  the name won’t give you a clue. (ex: Deb’s Virtual Book Tours) This is when you need to look at the books that are currently touring and those that have previously toured.  Is your book’s genre well represented? If so, go a step further.  Visit the host sites.  Note the visits/interaction on the site or the lack there of. Remember: It’s up to each individual blogger to sign up to host your book. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to be featured on a site with heavy traffic. However, a blogger who wants to increase their traffic is going to do their best to help generate views by sharing the post on various social media sites.

Next:  After you’ve selected your tour organizer – you will receive requests for book excerpts, author interviews and guest posts.  Meet the requirements.  If a blogger is willing to participate with your tour, offering you space on his/her blog – then kindly oblige with the requested guest post or interview.

Finally:  This is important.  Be selective in the dates you choose as tours are time consuming.  Just like with a face to face book signing, virtual book tours require that the author be present.  This can get tricky especially when juggling jobs, families and other obligations.

On occasion, I participate with virtual book tours as a host.  What I’ve seen has left me scratching my head.  I share a post featuring the author and their novel.  My readers comment with things like:  This sounds interesting!  Or Sounds like my kind of book!  

And the author’s response:  imagine

Seriously?  Potential readers are being ignored.

While the author has paid for the tour, he/she must remember that is more of an organizational fee.  It isn’t the hosts job to sell your book.  The hosts offer you, the author, a seat at the table, a place at the podium, a little time in the spotlight. But – it’s up to the you to take advantage of the opportunity.

How?  That’s easy:

*Stop by and thank the host for having you on their blog.  (You may have to get up a little earlier than usual to make that early morning visit.)

*Check in periodically through out the day.  (Lunch, breaks, after work)

*Share the post on your social media sites.

*Enlist the help of family and friends by asking them to follow your tour and share the posts.

*AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE – Acknowledge the comments!  Those comments were made by people who found something interesting about the book, interview, etc. Failing to do so isn’t any different than getting up and walking away from that table in your favorite book store, paying no attention to those folks in line.

ChirpDon’t forget – The people who take the time to read the posts and comment are potential book buyers…

And ultimately, isn’t that the point of doing a virtual book tour?