Writer, Gardener, Nacho Lover

Tag: writing resources

Going beyond lip-service. How to really support authors you love.

Well, lip-service is a big part of it, actually. Active lip-service?  You’ll see.

I’ve spoken before about how to support authors — reviews are key, maybe even more than just you buying a copy of their book, and WHERE you should put your reviews — but I read another writer’s post that goes into the serious nitty-gritty of the publishing world, and it just hits home so much harder.

book reviews authors readers

Guys, we’re not making a lot of money here*. If your name isn’t something like Rowling (or Kardashian or King), you’re making a small percentage of a few hundred (or hopefully a few thousand) sales. If that’s a 10,000 print first run–pretty decent for a standard Big Name publishing contract–and you sell out in a year, that author made $20,000! …before taxes. That becomes $16,000. For the year. Those are poverty level wages in the USA, if not accompanied by any other income.

Keep in mind that I just posited a Big Name publishing contract. When you talk about smaller presses, you’re in the 1000 printed copies for a first run range. Big difference, huh? Hey. It’s a business. It’s how it works.  (This doesn’t include eBooks, but the number of sales and the percentages are the same.)

What tips all of this over into a livable wage (which, anyone who writes would love to make their living writing stories. That’s the dream! Most of us have second jobs.), is when more people beyond our small social media scope begin to read our books, either through a purchase at a bookstore, online, or through a library.

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But how do other people HEAR about such and such author? From you.

From the article by Kristen Lamb:

Reviews are more important now than ever before, especially for the indie and self-published author. The reason is that with the change in the publishing paradigm, the slush pile (unfortunately) has been dumped into the reader’s lap. There are a lot of bad books out there. But even then, that really isn’t all that big of a problem.

With the Internet and social media and the explosion of books there is SO MUCH content. This means consumers are overwhelmed with choices. Reviews help writers sell books because if readers see a book with no reviews or five reviews versus a similar title with thirty reviews? Who will they choose?

Instead of sending me an e-mail about how much my book changed your life? Put it on Amazon and change MINE! 

Readers are essential to our success beyond just the sale. If you love our books, your promotion means a thousand times more than any ad I could pay for. Ads and marketing don’t sell books. Never did and never will. Only thing that sells books is word of mouth.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful for those private messages I’ve gotten about how much you’ve enjoyed my books. I am so, so grateful for them. I keep them safe and warm and pull them out on days when I think about giving up (something that happens a lot, to be frank).

But you know what really helps? What makes me feel like maybe I can do this, maybe I can put another story out there, maybe work a little harder at this whole “being a professional writer” thing? When I see reviews out in public.

book reviews readers share

Who doesn’t love knowing that people are willing to stand by you publicly? Privately is nice, but publicly legitimizes your work in such a magnificent way. It not only means so much emotionally, but it means a lot to the bottom line, and that, my friends, is what will enable your favorite authors to continue to give you stories you love.

The sad truth is that until a book gets at least 50 reviews on Amazon, Amazon won’t advertise that particular book. But once you hit that magic number? They start promoting the hell out of it. You know when your Kindle goes into the home screen? That’s a big one.  Or when you buy a book and they do the whole “people who bought that liked” thing?  Oh, yeah. Or when you click onto Amazon and they have a book title as the banner?  [salivates and makes ungentlemanly noises]

That means more exposure for an Indie author, which means more likelihood that they’ll be able to give you more stories.

writing books typewriter vintage

It’s a symbiotic relationship. We need each other to keep this beautiful, crazy cycle going. Your reviews are crucial. They can literally make or break a book.

Reblogging and liking posts on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook is awesome. Even more awesome is going to a place like Amazon and sharing your thoughts. Talking about books you love to the general public is how people decide what to read. It’s been shown that people tend to buy books based off of trusted reviews from people they know/follow.

So you guys sharing your favorite books with the public at large? Yeah, that’s the stuff. <3

*and this doesn’t even go into the serious damage that pirated books cause. Yeah, I know, we all hate how Lars from Metallica and Taylor Swift were griping about losing money from their stuff being pirated, but those are multi-millionaires with multiple revenue streams. Authors are hundredaires. You pirate their books, and you’re seriously harming their careers to the point where they can’t afford to keep writing you books. See the difference?

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19th Century Mexican Feminists You Should Know

My upcoming novel BITTER SPRINGS is set in 1870’s San Felipe Del Rio (Del Rio, TX it’s called now), and it follows Renaldo Valle Santos (I use Spanish-naming protocol, in which the mother’s surname is added after the paternal family name). Renaldo has a twin sister Calandaria, a bit of a spitfire. And by a bit I mean a lot. And it’s on purpose, and it’s not anachronistic.

In the latter half of the 19th Century in Mexico, revolution was brewing. Within the past hundred years, they’d already won their independence from Spain, fought nasty, long battles with Texicans (Tejanos were people who separated from Mexico in that they lived in Texas, the “border lands/buffer zone” that Spain established, didn’t want to become American, didn’t necessarily want to be Mexican even though that and the Native Americans of the region were their heritage; they just wanted to be left alone), and some nasty battles with America–still ongoing.

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Dolores Jiménez y Muro, 19th Century Mexican Feminist and all around awesome person of whom you should know.

Some of the most important Mexican feminists in history were born at this time, and man, they kicked butt. Continue reading

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Why Should Writers Love Libraries?

librarian in library,libraries

This is the face of someone who wants you to find the right book.

Here’s a wild tidbit for you, there are more libraries in the United States than there are world-wide McDonald’s restaurants. (The American Library Association says that there are 119,487 of them, and there are 35,000 Micky Ds in the world.) Here’s an even wilder fact for your face: library book sales don’t count towards your book’s ranking in those ever important BestSeller lists.  Isn’t that… weird? I think it’s weird, but then, the NYT didn’t ask me, so there you go.

So you have an author wanting to build and maintain a career, and that means selling books, and anyone buying a book is a saint. This also means building a reputation as someone who produces an excellent product–that’s how you make your money, on the come back.

Which brings us back to the library. Let’s say your local library is super awesome and buys four–four!!–copies of your latest book. They’re going to keep that on the shelf for years, and hundreds (I’m being optimistic) of people are going to read it!

…those originally purchased four books. Welp, that’s a loss.

NO. IT ISN’T. And this is why we’re here: libraries are amazing sources for authors. You should love and thank every dang library that buys your book, and I’ll tell you why: Continue reading

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On Buying Books and Supporting Authors

The original post I made about this has gotten a lot of wonderful attention on Tumblr, so I wanted to put it here, as well.  It’s a good insight into the world of publishing, how you get paid as an author, and how you can build a career. I received the following question a while back:

“I want to buy your books, but wanted to ask how you preferred them purchased because I think I’ve read that Amazon shorts its authors on e-book sales and I want you to be fully paid for your work. I can buy e-books or physical copies.”

First off, let me inform you that you have jumped past my kids in my Last Will & Testament, because not a one of them have tried to buy my book. 😉

Oprah overcome with gratitude, gratitude for fans,thanks

Second, I’m traditionally published, which means I have a publishing contract, and my publisher is contractually obligated to pay me x% of each book sale based off net proceeds for the price THEY set the book to be, be that a physical book or an eBook. (When Amazon temporarily slashes book prices, they still have to pay publishers the agreed upon price.)

NOW. Whether this is true for self-publishers, I have no idea.  But I do know this: Continue reading

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Wait, who’s talking?

Dialogue tags. Super important, can be controversial, and can be used in ways that invoke madness. (In me.)

pubLIZity Nick Kroll show

We could talk about how you need to cut out using adverbs and how that’s tell, not show, but if you ever want to really get why you shouldn’t use so many dang adverbs with dialogue tags, go on a road trip with nothing but the (truly delightful) audiobooks to Harry Potter. I prefer the ones voiced by Stephen Fry.  But every single bit of dialogue is:

“What is it, Harry?” Hermione shrieked quite panickedly.
“Professor Umbridge’s hairy ankles,” Harry groaned vomitously.
“Merlin’s pants!” Ron moaned decidedly.

It’s, uh, it’s a lot. Lot of adverb abuse there.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about.  No, what really chaps my hide and makes me tear out my hair is when I can’t figure out who the heck is talking. Let’s look at a few examples. Continue reading

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Why you should love the Editing Process

Personally, I love working with editors.  I’ve learned more about myself as a writer–and more importantly, how to improve as a writer–through the editing of my two novels than in any other capacity.  I’ve heard of writers bursting into tears, of feelings being hurt, and some writers up and quitting the whole shebang from frustrations regarding the editing process, and it leaves me baffled.

Lisa writing is hard

Listen to me: everyone needs an editor.  Everyone. And if you’re smart, you’ll get to a point where editors want to work with you–and you’ll be eager to work with them. God knows I get excited each time I hear who I’ve nabbed as an editor on my books.

Here’s how it works (and YMMV, depending on your publishing company, etc, but this is pretty standard): Continue reading

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Straight (and white) -washing of the Old West

My dad’s side of the family is filled with bona fide cowboys, ranchers and farmers, their established lives out west going back to the late 1840s when my great-great-grandfather converted to Mormonism and took his young bride to the Promised Land. He became a High Priest in Salt Lake City, was a choir master, landed more than one wife–several were his sopranos–a whole lot of land for sheep, and established our family’s Western roots.

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One of my uncles was the President of the National Rodeo Association and hermits his days out on his sprawling Wyoming ranch. Another uncle and his wife (goat roping and barrel racing queen, I thank you) have their quiet ranch with all of their animals out in the Unitas. Their lives have been anything but easy–managing land and animals never is–but they’ll be the first to tell you how those moments of solitude astride a horse who trusts you is one of the great things in life.

I say all of this because when I told my dad–who grew up on a farm/ranch in the middle of nowhere, Utah and remembers watching his dad get double back-hoofed right in the chest by a pissed off bull–that I was writing about gay cowboys (well, mesteñeros) who lived back in the 1800s, he laughed and said there weren’t any.

Welp. That’s not true.
Continue reading

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Writing Wednesday – On Diversity

Before I fell headlong into my next book project, I mapped out a general outline–as per usual for me–and detailed my Character Bible. This is when I put together the characters obituaries and physical descriptors. (Basically, what would the paper say about them when they’re gone. It’s just a weird thing I do.)

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I looked at it and realized: everyone was white. It was my default. Basically it was me being lazy, trapped in a comfort zone of absolute boringness. I was determined to change them from white to anything else, but I couldn’t just magically make them not white and still tell the same story, could I? Short answer: no. That’s even lazier. Writing colorblind, or rather, “I can just interchange the color of someone’s skin or their race without changing who that person is!” is some bullsh*t white utopia stuff. Because it does matter. It does. Continue reading

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Writing Wednesday – Research

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Or as I like to call it, the Sarlacc pit of writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love research. Love love love. My former life as a burgeoning scientist meant nothing but research. And learning? Who doesn’t love learning! Not this gal! *counts the negatives*

Uh, you know what I mean.

I just often find myself in an inescapable vortex of book after citing after Wikipedia page after online research paper. And man, g-bless Google books online, because that can be a goldmine for research papers that are maybe out of print, or ones you can’t normally access without being an academic or having an in with the author of the published paper as there is only the one copy and it’s on their grandma’s shelf, displayed proudly. (As it should be!)

But my question for you is… Continue reading

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