This post focuses on the importance of using an editor and enlisting beta readers if you are an independent author.
Let’s start by comparing/contrasting independent and traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, an author receives an advance (if he or she is lucky). This advance is usually a fairly small amount. The author may then receive royalties for books sold after a certain number. The royalties can vary from pennies per book to dollars if you are a bestselling author. In exchange for allowing the traditional publisher to publish your work, you receive editing, formatting, publicity, and marketing services. The quality and effectiveness of these services can vary depending on how much the publishing company believes it can make from your book. In the end, very few published authors make a living wage from traditionally published books.
Independent authors know that their world is a different one. All of the services mentioned…
Increasing your self-understanding is an essential part of using your knowledge to help others. You cannot be effective working with others unless you thoroughly understand yourself. Take this time you have off work to spend some time with yourself. Sit alone. Log off. Take a walk. Treat yourself to the peace of solitude and organize your thoughts. Write. Read. Pray. Embrace the quiet and the revelations that come with meditation. Be still knowing you are still moving. Listen and act on what you hear by responding. Seek a deeper understanding of yourself. What characteristics were you born with versus what you acquired throughout your life? What is going on in the world around you? How do you fit in? What can you do to better yourself and the world?
Here are six harsh truths to take with you until we meet again.
If you don’t know yourself, you cannot run a successful business because you won’t know what your goals are or what your purpose is.
You can’t run a successful business with low self-esteem. You cannot grow obsessing over what people think. You will never please everyone. Someone somewhere will always see something wrong with what you are doing. You can lay down and let people walk all over you and there will still be someone complaining you are not “flat” enough.
You can’t genuinely be there for others if you don’t know yourself. How can you give me what I need if you don’t even know what you need?
If you don’t know yourself, you will always be a victim constantly blaming other people for the things going on in your life / it’s always someone else’s fault.
You will unconsciously set limitations that aren’t necessary. This will hinder your growth.
It will be hard for you to be yourself when you don’t know yourself. This will most likely cause you to imitate others. This is unhealthy.
Photos of this weekend’s signing at the Greenbriar Mall are now uploaded to the site!
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sharon Cathcart. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
I’m Sharon E. Cathcart. I was born in Portland, Ore., but now make my home in the Silicon Valley, Calif. In between, I’ve lived in Lawrence Township, Indiana, and literally all around the San Francisco Bay.
Are you employed outside of writing?
I’m the global grant coordinator for a major medical device firm.
Wow. That’s neat! What was your childhood dream?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals, and that was the best way I could think of to help them. However, I have dyscalculia (which is like dyslexia, but with numbers) and so my math marks were not high enough to qualify. I still help animals, though, by volunteering with our local humane society and caring for a colony of feral cats. I also donate all of my royalties from “Hugs and Hisses” to Humane Society Silicon Valley.
I love that. Speaking of writing, when did you publish your first book? What was that like?
In 1995. I was still working for the DoD and was tasked with writing the history of Sixth U.S. Army, which was decommissioned that year. The resulting work, “Born of War … Dedicated to Peace,” was given as a souvenir during the closure ceremony. It was kind of amazing, to be honest. I’d said for years that I wanted to write a book and suddenly I was holding one in my hand. However, when that job went away, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer for a very long time. I didn’t publish anything again until 2009 (that’s when my first novel, “In The Eye of The Beholder,” was released).
I’m glad you got back on the wagon. What skill would you like to master?
I would like to be able to draw (I can manage stick figures, and a passable horse head, but that’s about it). I would also like to be a better swimmer. I get claustrophobic when my face is in the water, so I’m really lousy.
I get it. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
Indiana. I lived there whilst attending the Defense Information School (I used to work for the Department of Defense as a public affairs specialist), and I tell people the same thing whenever they ask: “There were three things I loved about Indiana: the Connor Prairie Living History Center, the Indianapolis Zoo, and seeing Indiana go away under the airplane.” The main thing that sticks with me about living there was the day I looked something up in the phone book (remember those?)
Lol. I do.
…and found the KKK openly listed. I don’t remember what I was trying to find, but I sure remember that. It colored my feelings about the entire state – and not in a good way.
Doesn’t surprise me. Since you brought it up let’s go there. What are your views on racism?
Racism is a systemic thing, to me. It is about policies and laws that punch downward against people who are not in the majority. Any damn fool can be prejudiced/bigoted, but it takes political power to create racism.
By the way, I firmly believe that any white person who doesn’t recognize that the US is a white supremacist system is deluding themselves with willful ignorance. We all need to speak up against injustices like racism. If “social justice warrior” is an epithet, it’s one I’ll wear with honor. I spend a little time tackling racism in “Bayou Fire,” where my hero is an abolitionist in Jacksonian-era New Orleans – an unpopular position at the time, to say the least. I firmly believe we need to be speaking out today, and that’s why I created that personality trait for him.
Nice. I’d like to read this book. You said it takes political power to create racism. How so?
One has to be in a position to create systems designed to keep others down … and that means political power. We see numerous voter suppression laws being enacted, and attempts to roll back hard-won civil rights … because those holding the power are afraid of losing their hegemony. Holding the power to back up bigoted beliefs with action is what creates racism.
What songs have you completely memorized?
Just about everything by The Beatles and David Bowie. I’m not kidding.
So I guess I don’t have to ask what kind of music you like…
I have found something to like in every single genre except Chinese opera (which, even according to fans, is an acquired taste). My love show tunes, classical, bluegrass, just about everything you can imagine. My favorite artists are David Bowie, Ramin Karimloo, and The Beatles.
What’s your favorite color?
My long-time favorite is purple. However, I’m also fond of teal, which is the color of most of my author branding.
Are you married Sharon?
My husband, Jeff, and I have been together for 18 years and married for 16. It’s a second marriage for both of us.
Congrats! What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
My favorite film of all time is “Tom Jones,” starring Albert Finney. It’s the story of an 18th Century English rake, and is absolutely hilarious. You need to watch it just for the scene where he and one of the female characters are eating dinner; no one says a word, but the tension is fantastic!
What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
Please don’t get me started on TLC. I remember when it was “The Learning Channel.” Now it seems like it’s “The Lowest Common Denominator.” I’m not a fan of so-called reality TV, with the exception of cooking competitions.
I love cooking competition shows! I have to ask. Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen. I kind of adore Gordon Ramsey. He puts on an enormous display of temper, for sure, but you can tell he really cares about food.
Ha! I am in the middle. I love Top Chef but I just got into Hell’s Kitchen and I can tell Ramsey is fair in his decisions.
Speaking of Ramsey’s temper, what do you think of the bullying in our schools? How can we do better?
I was one of those kids who was bullied, pretty much from 6th grade on until high school graduation. Teachers need to take it seriously rather than blowing it off as “they’re just jealous” or “they’re teasing you because they like you.” Kids are not stupid; they know the difference between a buddy teasing you and someone being actively cruel. Parents need to teach their children to be kind rather just laughing off their aggression as “kids will be kids.” The teaching has to begin at home, and classrooms need to reinforce it.
We agree there. What advice would you give your younger self?
It is going to get better. Find the drama kids sooner. Don’t hold people at arm’s length because you’re afraid; everyone is struggling and you will discover that most people are genuinely kind.
Thank you Sharon for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Sharon E. Cathcart is an award-winning author of fiction featuring atypical characters.
A former journalist and newspaper editor, Sharon has been writing for as long as she can remember and always has at least one work in progress.
Sharon lives in the Silicon Valley, California, with her husband and an assortment of rescue pets.
I came across a question posed on Twitter from an author I follow. The answers to her question may shock some of you but I don’t want to give it away. First, I want to conduct my own study. Then, I’ll reveal what most readers (who weren’t authors themselves) said in response to this question on twitter along with the results of my own study (your commentary). I will reveal this first in my next email issue and then on this blog (my final email of the year will also include a copy of my goal-setting chart which you can use to set your goals for 2019. Click here to subscribe). If you are an author, please put your reader hat on. Think about your reading habits when you’re just buying a book to read for leisure. Be honest and be real.
The question is: “Do you read reviews before buying a book? Why or why not?”
Comment your answer below! Go, Go, Go! Please? Lol.
Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Larry Garner. Let’s get started!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Larry Garner, and I’m currently living in a small town called Hooper in the south-central Rockies in Colorado.
Cool beans. Larry, tell us, what would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
I like a warm, cozy room with barn-wood panels on the walls, hardwood flooring, and southwestern area rugs. A nice old roll-top wooden desk and a word processor hooked up to WiFi would make it complete.
Sounds comfy! Are you employed outside of writing?
I am retire, but still keep busy with various endeavors to make some extra money for my old car addiction. I paint signs, do some welding, have even built a food truck and a taco wagon.
Nice. What was your childhood dream?
I’ve been crazy about cars and speed since I can remember. I always wanted to be a race-car driver. I’m lucky enough to have been able to fulfill that dream.
Okay. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I published my first novel, D-E-D, Dead, in late 2012. It was a crazy adventure. I had been told for years that I should write a book about all my stories I tell, but decided to go full-on fiction, and that allowed me the freedom to just let it flow. I’ve had no formal training, don’t use an outline, just let the characters tell me what’s happening. I didn’t even plan to publish, thinking I’d pass the manuscript around to friends and family for fun. My wife said it needed published so that was a whole different set of things to study and learn. I’m glad she persisted until I got it published and shared with a broader fan base.
Who is your favorite writer?
I read three or four novels a week. I have many favorite authors, but my all-time favorite is Robert McCammon. His body of work is eclectic and always leaves me happy I read it.
Three or four novels a week? You better gone and read then! Lol. Are you married Larry? Children?
I am married to a wonderful woman named Marcia. We will celebrate our thirtieth anniversary in January. We have 29-year-old twin sons.
Get outta here Larry. I’m a twin too! And congrats on the 30-year anniversary. That is amazing! Now, Larry, what takes up too much of your time?
It depends on who you ask…but I feel I spend too much time worrying about things I have no control over.
Ooh wee. I think we can all relate to that one. What kind of music are you into?
I’m a rock lover, mostly hard rock. I like the old stuff, but also listen to current artists like Disturbed, Volbeat, Halestorm, and others. I also really enjoy southern rock and especially Blackberry Smoke while I’m writing.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
To me, the most difficult thing about being a writer is making sure I give the reader the best story I can produce, something they will appreciate. The most exciting thing is having readers take the time to contact me and tell me they enjoy my writing.
I love that. Why is writing important to you?
It probably sounds cliched, but I feel it’s important to give back, to provide more material for constant readers like myself. I have enjoyed so many hours of reading since the age of five that I honestly feel a compulsion to make a contribution to the books available for others to pick from.
Well said. What do you love / don’t love about yourself?
Probably the fact that if I decide to do something, I just do it. I don’t listen to the nay-sayers and critics. I do things my way, and feel that if I am pleased with the result, that’s what is most important. I have a tendency to feel that my opinion is the only one that matters. I’m working on changing that, but progress is slow.
Ha! You crack me up Larry. What genre do you write in, why?
One of my novels was a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards in the Crime/Mystery category. The second novel was a finalist in the CBA’s as a Thriller. I call them action-adventure or action thrillers. I write as I do because it is the style of writing I most often like to read. Lots of action, unforgettable characters, and very little fluff.
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
Family first. Friends a close second, followed by community. Then there are the cars, the motorcycles, racing, driving fast, and generally anything that turns money into noise.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Climb down, don’t jump!
Lol. Okay. Thanks so much for joining us Larry!
Larry “Animal” Garner is a lifelong gearhead, an avid reader, and author. A U.S. Navy veteran, Garner has worked as a welder/fabricator, auto body repairman, custom painter, farm mechanic and farm equipment designer/builder, and sign painter among many other jobs over the years since his fourteenth birthday. He has designed and built custom cars, motorcycle, race vehicles, and farm equipment. Garner has founded three different charitable organizations involved with raising money to help families of sick or dying children and other community projects. A talented fund-raiser and promoter, he is well known throughout the areas he’s lived. Garner’s first novel, “D-E-D, DEAD“ was a finalist in the 2013 Colorado Book Awards in the Crime/Mystery genre. His second novel, “DED Reckoning-Vengeance takes a road trip“ was published in October 2016 as the second book in the “Hammer” series of action novels. It was named as a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards in March 2017. The third novel in the “Hammer” series will be published in early 2019. Larry is a Colorado native and still lives there with his wife Marcia in a mountain valley in the south-central part of the state.
Note: This is just my personal experience and has nothing to do with anyone else. I must also note that I do believe some promotion is necessary. If people don’t know your book exists they can’t support you.
Not that this is a necessarily good thing but I pull back when I see that people are not interested. I don’t like feeling like I am forcing people to support me. That’s like forcing someone to love you and I refuse to do that.
I noticed that Social Media is cracking down on Spam. Promoting your book all day every day does not work without a strategy in place. As Angela J. Ford, puts it, “Instead of just publishing a book and hoping to sell a few copies, you should have a business strategy in place to help you to consistently grow your fan base and sell more books.”
I see no proof of the “see it seven times buy it” rule. Not saying this doesn’t work. It’s just that in my experience constantly pushing books in people’s face just seems to piss them off. Generally, people have already decided whether they want to buy your book. Asking them repeatedly to buy it won‘t change their minds.
I noticed that promoting less gives a better result (for me personally….not saying this for others.) For Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, I have promoted it today on my Instagram for the first time since September 4th (not counting my business account). The last time I promoted it on Facebook was September 19th. I promote it more on Twitter but that‘s because Twitter is a fast-paced platform where tweets get buried. You can post several times on Twitter and not be spammy. When looking at my data, I have sold books both times on IG and Facebook. I believe it’s because by spacing out the promotion the posts are a fresh reminder and not a spammy irritation.
I have edited this part to give you some examples. I don‘t care about likes but when it comes to my book promos, I do care because it goes into my data for understanding what‘s working and what‘s not working. Are the people liking the post supporting or just “liking?” Are people getting tired of me? Is the promotion working? So far I have done 4 Book Promotions for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar on Instagram since August for the preorders. Just four. Below are the results for the new novella promotion on IG:
August 1st – First time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder:
48 Likes, 9 Comments
Obviously, everyone is excited to hear of the new book. That explains the number of likes and commentary. Readers bought books on the first, second, and third of August.
August 10th – Second time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder:
27 Likes, 2 Comments
People are still excited but the core supporters already have a copy of the book. Books sold on this day and 8/23.
September 4th – Third time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder:
34 Likes, 2 Comments
A good month has passed, people forgot. This was a good reminder. Numbers went up. Books sold the first of this month, the 10th, 17th and 18th.
September 26th – Today. Fourth time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder preorder:
10 Likes, 0 Comments
Nice reminder but some people haven‘t seen the post yet, core supporters already have the book, others are not part of my audience or just don’t care. Currently no books sold for 9/26.
Update: Post ended with 25 likes on 10/1. Books also sold on 9/30. I attribute this to the days that passed, new readers who saw the promo, and payday for those getting paid end of the month.
I don’t want everyone to buy my book. Negative reviews and feedback are sometimes the result of people who bought and read our books who were not members of our target audience. If someone doesn’t like the genre I write in or are not interested in the book in general, I don’t want them to buy my book and I don‘t care how many reviews I miss out on.
I’ve learned not to care so much about how much I make from my books. I don‘t mean I don’t care about money. Who doesn’t care about money? But money has never been and is not my motivation. It’s also difficult to make a sustainable income from selling books alone. It’s possible but challenging. Instead, I have decided to focus more on building my business which involves more than just writing books. I have decided to focus on the vision and my purpose for writing, my messages and how those messages can change and empower lives. To focus on ways, I can interact with people face-to-face through public speaking, events, programs and services I can offer and other things I can do to build and nurture my small business. For me being an author is not just about writing and publishing books but so much more. One day, I hope to become a full-blown entrepreneur who influences and empowers others to do the same. With this, of course I also hope me and my husband can quit our day jobs in the process, if we wanted to. I believe that by focusing on the vision everything else, including money, will come.
I’ve learned that when promoting books to promote what the book is about, not the book. I learned this from The Stella Trilogy. Stella was not the most perfectly written book. It had typos and I could have done better with the covers and formatting. There were also typos in Renaissance. I am sure you can find mistakes in every book. But these books did well because people cared about the story. When you get people to care about the story that’s when they will care about the book.
Will Wanda secure the paperwork necessary to secure her and Abby’s freedom? Find out next week on the release of my new short novel, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar. Available now for preorder in eBook. Into African American Literature? Short Fiction? Young Adult or Women’s Fiction? Buy it now for 99cents on Amazon here.
Saturday, I attended another live book signing event, the inaugural Atlanta African American Book Festival. It was not my first signing but it was my first festival. Here are some things I learned.
Spend Modestly on Your Decor
I saw many beautiful, grand banners and signs at the festival. The authors did not come to play ya’ll. They DID that. I couldn’t stop smiling. Of course, my main focus was on my table but I wouldn’t be EC if I didn’t observe the environment around me, if I didn’t seek out a learning opportunity.
I noticed that the tables that were neat but modest sold at the same rate as the tables that were elaborate and fascinating. While captivating, without the personal appeal of the author talking and engaging with the people, the large banners and signs didn’t add anything extra far as I could tell. Not to mention that many of these banners are very costly. I took this lesson from it:
Spend modestly on decor. It’s nice to go big (go big or go home right? Lol) BUT, if you can’t afford it, don’t overthink it.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to attend a live event. I got lots of comments on this poster:
I got it made at Walmart for less than $20. You don’t have to have a boring table but you don’t have to spend a fortune. Between Walmart, Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and, surprisingly, Ross Dress for Less (go in the area with all the household stuff, usually in the back…you’re welcome) you can find some expensive-looking stuff that’s actually pretty cheap. Also, don’t forget that you are a big part of the experience. You are the star. Without you, it’s just expensive plastic. I didn’t even get to use my card-reader and no one paid much attention to the bookmarks. I am not saying to have these things is wrong. There are some very basics (like a card-reader and apparently that cash app is hot) you must have at a live event. I am saying not to stress out if your table isn’t grand.
Don’t Overcharge Your Readers
I was surprised to discover many books in the $20 range. For non-celebrity Indie Authors people never heard of, I thought this was a bit much. Personally, I wouldn’t charge over $10 for a copy of my book at an event. I say this not to indicate you should just give your work away, but I think it’s a good idea to give your readers the exclusive by offering them books at a price lower than if they had to pay for shipping. By showing up readers can purchase a discounted copy of some of their favorite books of yours in paperback. They have probably traveled to see you and you probably bought your books in bulk at a discount anyway and you don’t have to ship the book to them. I think that’s deserving of the people who choose to support you. People may pay $20 for a book at a celebrity signing or for a book direct from Amazon or your author website, possibly, but I think it’s a good idea to give readers something special at signings.
Live in the Moment
I did something different this time around. I didn’t post images of the event until I got back to the house. I didn’t live stream or rush to upload anything. I enjoyed the moment laughing with my husband and friend, talking to the authors and guests and taking pictures. We are so caught up in “Live Streaming” our lives these days so that other people can “see us” “in” the moment that we forget to enjoy the moment for ourselves. I had a much more enjoyable time selling books, practicing my pitch, mingling with guests and passing out my business cards than I would have trying to add hashtags to an Instagram post as someone walks past my table, buying nothing because my head is down. Personally, I attend live events because I enjoy networking with the people and creating memories I can look back on in pictures, not because I think I must. We only have one life to live and I want my children and grandchildren to look back on these pictures as proof that they can do anything they want to do if they only believe they can.
View all the festival pics plus more on my author website here.