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I’m not going to mention any names here. The purpose of this post isn’t to ball out anyone specific or be mean. But yes, obviously I have someone in particular in mind when I write about the subject matter of today.

Typically indie authors aren’t media or marketing gurus. It’s just not in our nature. But to be a successful indie author, we have to learn some marketing techniques and do our best to be our own PR guy. It’s not always fun but it’s what we must do for our books to be a success.

But there comes a time when maybe we cross that line from being a marketing genus to being a little creepy and if you do that, it could cost you some fans.

If you are lucky and write a great book that people love and more over fall in love with the characters of the book, you want to build on that and maybe you will do even better and hit big with a successful trilogy featuring those beloved characters.

That’s great! That’s beyond great … that’s freaking fantastic! That’s what we all strive for. But when you are done with those books and some time has passed, is it really a good idea to continue on with those characters or just let them die out as you work on your next series of books?

Let me be more specific … I once read a great triology that featured a male character that everyone loved and swooned over. Some people were like omg he’s my favorite book boyfriend. Okay so the author started pushing promotion of this character, I assume to further her sales of the trilogy.

Then I noticed she started having items made up featuring quotes from the book. Okay not bad. Then having items made about that character in general. Then all of the sudden it went a little further and the character suddenly had a facebook page all his own. Next thing I know I read happy birthday (character’s name).  Suddenly this fake character from a book was celebrating his birthday in real life?

This got me looking at the author’s own facebook page and I counted more than 32 different little items she had made up – various products with the guys name on it or about his character in the book. 32? Really?

The books have been out for a long time now and the author in question hasn’t released a single NEW book in well more than  a year. This whole time all she’s talked about was this fake male character from her last book. And for Christmas she wrote a short story about him.

It was all just so creepy and really made me wonder about the mental stability of the author and quite honestly I even stopped following her on Facebook and Goodreads over it. She didn’t seem to get that the time for this character had long since passed. Marketing is wonderful but there comes a time when you need to move on and write a new book already.

So the point I’m trying to make is, there comes a time when you can cross the line from smart marketing to mentally unstable. It’s just creepy the way she posts as him and wishes him happy thanksgiving and merry Christmas like he’s real. It’s not like the books came out last month or even 6 months ago.

So before you decide to develop some sort of marketing campaign you should really stop and ask yourself … is this brilliant or am I just being way to attached to fictional people?

Because if you do it wrong then those marketing efforts could end up costing you fans instead of getting you new ones.

This is a subject that drives me up a wall. I hate when I am reading a book and I start to hear the same words over and over. To me it’s just lazy writing and a sign of really bad editing.

Using the same a few times is common in your first draft. But by the time your book gets published you shouldn’t have the issue.

Your character walks to their car, gets in their car, and then drives their car. How many times do you really need to say car? It’s annoying and distracts the reader.

Out of the last 20 romance novels I’ve read this year, at least 15 of them had them problem and all but one of them were from real publishers, not indie’s.

So how did that even happen? I think (and again this is just my theory) that writers get it in their head that if they get an agent and a “real” publishing deal, that the publishers will take full responsibility for every little bit of editing your book, but in the end it is your book with your name on it, so you can’t leave it up to someone else.

The best thing you could ever do is to HEAR your words. Sometimes hearing your written words spoken out loud, will help you spot mistakes you just don’t notice when reading it. What I do is use a TTS (text to speech) program on my iphone called Voice Dream. I think I paid $1.99 for the app. I load up my entire word document and then have it read it back to me, chapter my chapter. I close my eyes and just listen.

If you don’t do this for your book then you are making a huge mistake. While your publisher will no doubt do their best, it is still your book and you want it to be perfect, right?

SO STOP REPEATING WORDS. Seriously. You don’t need to say door 3 times in a single paragraph.

NA romance stands for new adult romance, just as YA romance stands for young adult romance.

While young adult romance covers those teenagers (or young adults) in love, NA or new adult romance novels covers those who are typically a bit older, as in legal age (18) but still new to adult hood, so under 25. Usually those who are in college, not yet out there experiencing the real world and still figuring out their lives.

New Adult isn’t about young adults having explicit sexual encounters because there are quite a few NA romance novels without those. No it’s more about a classification of age. Young Adult = 18 and Under. New Adult = 18 to 25 (or so).

But again keep in mind there aren’t any hard and fast rules and it could vary from story to story, author to author. In the end it’s really just a marketing classification. A way for retailers and book bloggers to easily classify material for the type of reading it includes.

Oh and for the record, someone else asked me this recently too…. HEA means Happily Ever After. Most people who read romance novels expect them to have a HEA or happily ever after. It sort of defines the romance genre. Life can suck in your book, you can brutalize your character but in the end, most people who read romance novels of any sub-genre usually want that happily ever after.

Today’s writing tip is a simple but tried and true method to improve your writing. Simply put, avoid words that end in ING. But why? Typically that is because those words are weaker than their active counterpart.

Passive voice turns your characters into bystanders, casually allowing the story to happen to them while the active voice makes them active participants. So let’s look at a specific example ….

“She was standing in a red room” is not as strong as saying, “She stood in a red room”.

She was standing is passive. It sounds almost like it was something happening to her, whereas she stood is active, it is her doing it.

You don’t have to delete every sentence in your entire book that uses the passive voice or a word that ends in ING, but do look at them and consider if maybe that line would be improved if you did change it to an active voice.  Just remember that words that end in ING often weakens the sentence, so consider alternatives.

Writing Tip: Show don’t tell

Show don’t tell is something you hear all of the time, in terms of a writing tip, but what does it really even mean?

Well it has everything to do with emotions. Whenever you are writing you shouldn’t be telling us how you character feels, we need to experience it for ourselves.

Imagine your book was a movie. There is no narrator in a movie. You can’t say my character is sad. You have to show us that the character is sad.

It’s easy to say hey my character is excited in a book, but what you should be doing is showing us that the character is excited. What are they doing exactly what would make me the reader realize the character is excited? Are they jumping up and down? Talking way to fast?

Don’t tell me that your character is scared, show me their fear through shallow breaths and tense shoulders.

Anyone who self publishes knows that hiring an editor can be costly.  I’ve seen people offering editing services for as low as $.02 per word or $1000 for a 300 page novel. Some charge per hour and they change $20 an hour and do an average of about 10 pages an hour. Some editors charge per page and I’ve seen those range in cost from $2 to $5 per page. Then there are the freelancer options where you can go on a site like FreeLancer (or a similar site) and hire someone from another country and get a 300 page novel done for around $150 or go the Fiverr route and with them a good editor will cost you about $5 per chapter.

I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that hiring an editor can be expensive. But as everyone will tell you, it doesn’t matter what it costs, in the end if you want to publish your book it’s something you have to do. Everybody needs an editor for their book, period.

So what can you do to get your book edited for free? Back in the day people used to barter. You do for me, I’ll do for you.  With a site like Fiverr you can pretty much do just that.  Let me explain how it works.

When you do a job for someone at Fiverr they pay $5 for it. You get paid $4 of that $5.

So what I did was offer my services as a beta reader. I would read up to 10,000 words of a person’s book and tell them my thoughts. I charge $5 for said services. I ended up doing about 20 of these jobs and had $100 credit in my Fiverr account.

A good editor at Fiverr cost you about $5 per chapter. My book had 15 chapters. If I was to buy the services it would cost me $75. But since I already had the $100 credit in my account, I got my editing services for free.

So basically again how this works is, you offer your services (of any kind) on Fiverr and then use the money you earn to get your book edited for free. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

I was on Google+ today and seen a story about a circle master and one about a lady who calls herself the circle queen. Then there are the guys who are all part of team follow back or follow trains on Twitter. These people all promise you a ton of “real” friends and followers for your social media accounts. And you know what? They actually work. You really do get a ton of them. But they are all 100% worthless to you.

All that does for you is boost your ego and lets you say “Hey I have 15,537 followers on twitter”. Umm okay. Good for you. But they aren’t fans of your work. They aren’t interested in buying your book. So what is the point?

Tell the truth … do you know what this says? “곰인형 눈 달고 옷감에 홀치기 하고 마늘까고 방법은 많음

Because when you join those team follow back people on twitter you are going to get a bunch of people tweeting out stuff like that. You won’t have a clue what they are tweeting and they probably won’t have a clue about what you are tweeting either. So really again I ask, what is the point? Other than the bragging rights. Because being able to brag about how many twitter followers you have makes you cool apparently.

I don’t know about you but I would rather have 200 real fans follow me than 10,000 fake ones who will do nothing for my career. Why in the world would anyone waste their time posting messages on twitter, Google+ and Facebook to people who don’t have THE slightest interest in your work? That’s just silly. All they wanted is the follower count.

So next time you are on your Google+ account and see someone telling you tricks to get more followers in your circles, ask yourself, WHY? What you want are people who are like you and it books and writing. Not a bunch of people who just want bragging rights about having X number of friends on the internet that don’t give two shits about what you have to say or what your next book would be about.

Take your time. Do it the right way.

To get more twitter followers (REAL FOLLOWERS) do this ……

Tweet every day at least once a day but sometimes as many as two or three times a day. The more the better. Tweet about real things that interest you, not just promotional messages. Tweet about books you are reading, TV shows you are watching and things you bought while shopping. Be a real person with real interests.

Follow others like you. The more people into books that you follow, the more others will be recommended by Twitter to follow you. Try adding 20 or 30 other authors and then find out book review blogs to follow on twitter.

Google+ is easier. Just search for author or book review blog and then add those people to your circles. Typically they will add you back. Again like with Twitter, post personal things. Talk about your writing but also talk about other things. Be a real person, not just a social media spammer.

How to be a successful author

So you want to be a successful author? That’s great. But the only way you can really do this is to … WRITE! I know that sounds to simple, but it’s true. The more work you have out there, the more likely you are to be noticed and gain new fans.

Write a series of short stories and offer them for free. How many stories do you need? Well there is no set number but there is no reason not to release several stories this year. When you finish each story and they are with the editor getting your final spelling / grammar checks you can be on your social networking sites promoting the story that will be released soon.

Being a successful author is about building your brand. To build your brand than you need to get out there and be seen.

In every book do you provide a way for your fans to find you? Do you include links to your Facebook page, your Twitter and Google+ account? Do you tweet often and post updates on your Facebook and Google+ account at least 2 or 3 times a week?  If you build up a big following, every time you release a new book, you can send out an update and get instant sales!

I read a review recently that said they typically avoid contemporary romance novels because they often walk to closely to the line of chick lit books and that reader apparently doesn’t like that genre of books.

Chick is slang a common slang term for a women or girl and lit is the shortened version of literature. But then together and you have a genre of books that experts call Post Feminist Fiction. Which is simply a high brow way of saying, these are books about female empowerment. Sometimes the story is about romance, but not always. Sometimes the stories in the chick lit genre are about friends and family.

Think about Sex and the City, that is a perfect example of a chick lit type story. You have a strong female lead – Carrie Bradshaw and then her three friends. Their stories deal with every day women issues.

Today there are a long list of sub-genres of chick-lit books as well including Romance which is the most obvious but there is also Gothic, Christian, Young Adult and many more. The main idea though is the the book have a strong female lead who deals with whatever issue in a way that is empowering, making the female character more than just some poor helpless victim.

While it is true, there has been a major decline in physical book sales and a massive upswing in digital or e-books, there is still a very good reason to offer your book in paperback.

While most people will opt to buy your book in the e-book format because it’s cheaper and they get it now instead of waiting for your “real” book to ship to them and with an e-book they also don’t have to pay shipping charges. But they dones’t mean you should ditch offering it in paperback all together. Some people feel it’s not a good book if it doesn’t exist in the other format. It’s a strange yet popular belief that a book isn’t at least available on paperback, then it probably isn’t worth checking out in the first place.

While I agree that may seem strange, there is no explaining the consumer mindset and well, why even try? If offering your book in paperback can help increase your e-book sales, why not do it?

There is also another distinct advantage to doing this, especially with Amazon because they take the list price of your paperback book and then show the e-book version of the book as a discounted price. For example,

Digital List Price: $0.99
Print List Price: $5.97
Kindle Price: $0.99
You Save: $4.98 (83%)

Who doesn’t want to save 83%? I mean come on … that’s a great deal, right? People love bargains and if it looks like you are saving them 10%, 20%, 50% or 83% in this case, it makes them feel like they are getting a good deal and that has been proved time and again by marketing experts as a great sales tool.