Hair-raising tales from the dork side

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dead Characters Society--by Linda Kozar

Sometimes a story flows from skull to paper with effortless ease. But those times are rare.


Readers are going to totally get what I'm sharing today. Ever pick up a book and connect with the characters and the setting so completely that you cry or even experience mild depression or sadness when you reach the end? You want more, but there is no more.

Authors experience similar emotions. When an author finishes a book or a series, it's a bittersweet moment. We're overcome with joy at finishing the project, but kind of sad having to say goodbye to the characters who've occupied our thoughts. There's an emotional connection, a friendship if you will. Weird, huh?

It takes a while to shake them off. This is especially true of series characters.

I've been writing, or trying to write a fourth installment in my mystery series. (You're going to love the title, but I'm not sharing it right now). The first three books are: Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail. But I've run into trouble.

First, it was difficult to get back into my character's heads. I'd already said goodbye to them. When an author finishes a series, its paramount to a death. Those characters are entombed, no longer active in the mind of the author, except in historical context.

In the process of writing a story, the characters are active and speaking to the author. Sounds crazy, right? But actors experience the same kind of connection. They become the character for a time to more accurately portray the individual.

So it took me a while to reconnect with my characters. For a series to work, the voice of the character has to be consistent. Sure the characters grow, but the voice is the same. That was the first obstacle. And I managed to reconnect, but starting the first chapter with the main characters around a table--eating. It's easy to imagine conversations around a dinner table, the food, the humor, atmosphere. Starting off with a meal kickstarted my creative thought. I soon found myself back in their town and in their heads--writing away.

The trouble is, I made it halfway to Chapter Two and stalled.

Why? I didn't like where I was going. There was no way the plot I envisioned would work. I had to go back to square one. Well, not exactly. Chapter One was a good launching point. But where to go?

Weeks passed. Then, a month. Two months. I posted my stuck status on Facebook and my FaceBook friends offered suggestions. Walk away. Or do something else. So I did. Sometimes it helps to take on another creative project. I like to paint in oils, but didn't feel like taking on such a big project. So I broke out the sewing machine and made a slipcover for a chair instead. And voila! My mind slipped back into gear and I was soon able to delve back into a new storyline, with a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Granted, my idea for a plot line was kind of crazy. Would it--could it work? I began to research my wild idea and discovered it was entirely possible. Yay! No plot is too far-fetched if you fetch the data to prove it is possible.

So now I'm steaming forward. Plot set. Characters alive and well and talking my ears off. The book is coming together and I'm really stoked about this one. Readers are going to be surprised at the mystery in this new installment.

Better start pounding those keys...


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Some of My Favorite Love Quotations...by Linda Kozar



Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind. And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
~William Shakespeare, Mid-Summer Night's Dream, 1595.

I love you - those three words have my life in them. 
~ by Alexandrea to Nicholas III ~

I'd like to run away 
From you, 
But if you didn't come 
And find me ... 
I would die. 
~ by Shirley Bassey ~

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. ~Albert Einstein
Ah me! Love can not be cured by herbs. ~Ovid

Love has no desire but to fulfill it self. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. ~Kahlil Gibran

Do I love you because you're beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?
~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella
Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense. ~Mark Overby

Forget love - I'd rather fall in chocolate! ~Sandra J. Dykes


Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. ~Peter Ustinov


Monday, August 12, 2013

Are We Facing E-Mageddon? By Linda Kozar



Yes, I can draw too:)
Authors, agents, publishers, retailers--are all buzzing about the same thing. The rise of ebooks and the demise of traditional publishing. But is this the E-mageddon of the publishing industry?

Let's look at a comparison that's still fresh in my mind. You and I used to own cameras that required film. We took pictures and brought that film to the local drugstore to be developed. They developed the whole roll--good shots, bad shots--everything. And we paid for it.

But one day another option became available, one that made film obsolete. Digital cameras turned the film and camera industry upside down and inside out. Some companies saw it coming, and jumped onboard, but others didn't move fast enough. Below is an excerpt from a Huffington Post article on the subject: Huffington Post Article


"Steve Sasson was working at the applied research lab at Eastman Kodak when he was asked to look into a new apparatus called a charge-coupled device. One year later, the first digital camera was born. But, while the invention changed the industry forever, it also caused the demise of one of the biggest photo companies in the world. The revolution was going to happen," Sasson says. "I didn't know when, and I didn't know how effective it would be. In the end result, the fundamental business model of Kodak was undermined by the new technology."

While the popularity of ebooks seems to be on the rise in spite of protestations to the contrary, I believe it is in our best interest as authors explore this new opportunity. Ebooks offer authors the chance to have full artistic control over their work--from cover to cover. As exciting as that is, it's also terrifying. But sink or swim, are you willing to give it a try and live with the results?

The following are some notes I took from a meeting of the Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America chapter I attended in August. The guest speaker was Mark Coker, Founder and CEO of Smashwords. He's an engaging, informative speaker. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him, don't pass it up.

What can you do to make your ebook publishing successful?

Traditional publishers are in the business of selling books and manuscripts are only valued in their eyes from that viewpoint.

Smashwords launched in 2008 and became an ebook distributor in 2009--distributing to Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo (which powers the bookstores of multiple other retailers such as FNAC in France and WH Smith in the U.K.) ,Sony, Baker & Taylor (Blio.com and the Axis360 library platform), and the Diesel eBook.


How do you reach readers?
  • Professional publishing (Use the free Smashwords Styleguide Book and Marketing Book).
  • Write a book that markets itself (Honor the reader with a great book). Readers will determine your future as an author. You want them to become super fans and fanatical promoters.
  • A Great Cover--A good one makes a promise to the reader. Be sure the thumbnail image of the cover looks good as well. One author had a really awful cover and was selling five copies a day. When she replaced that cover with a new one, she broke out and became a NYT bestseller (1,000-2,000 copies a day).
Embrace Your Obscurity--You are the brand, an idea in the target reader's mind. Give some books away for free. This is a successful tactic.

(1) Builds awareness that your book is out
(2) Builds trust with readers
(3) Builds your platform.

If you have a series, make the first book in your series permanently free (or for a couple of months). You will gain lots of reviews and you need reviews. Most of our reader's consider their time more valuable than the cost of your book.

Many of the highest grossing Smashwords authors have at least one book for free.

An ebook is immortal, yet changeable. You can alter whatever is necessary to make it succeed.

Maximize the availability of your book

If you restrict it to Amazon for 3 months (select program), you can't sell it anywhere else during that period of time. Diversify your portfolio!. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Some readers only shop at certain places.

EVERY retailer wants to carry self-pubb'd books now.

Build your platform

Social networking--Use all these tools.

Blog--Where you and your audience meet.
Mailing List--Create your own. (Don't share or sell to anyone).

A spike in sales will catch Apple's attention and they will promote you. Apple does merchandizing work, full-page promotions, etc. and you become much more desirable if you have a strong social networking presence. (5,000 FB friends)

Add a "connect with the author" at the back of every one of your books. List your social networking links, mailing list form, etc.

Your currency is in these stats.

Virality

Have your readers spread the germ of your book. The book industry has always been about word of mouth. So pass on the love bug. A Superfan will propel your career forward.

Stars

If you have 3 to 3-1/2 star rating, you need to change your book. Make the changes, fix your book and upload it again.

If you have 1 star, take it down and fix it as soon as possible. You are damaging your brand.

Viral Catalysts

Eliminate anything that gets in the way of readers and your book. 
  • Cover
  • Title
  • Book description
  • Price
  • Formatting
  • Wrong categorization
Unit volume is a fever for your success
  • money
  • readers
What to charge?

A free book gets 100x more downloads.

$  .99--underpriced. Used to be popular.

$1.99 --a black hole. Don't do it.
$2.00--most popular price point. Better. You will sell more.
$3.99--Perfect price. Right now, this price is the sweet spot for all books, fic and nonfic.

$2.99-$4.99 You will sell four times as many copies of your book.

Piracy

Don't worry about piracy--people who download your book off pirating sites. They weren't going to buy your book anyway. But the upside is you are gaining a reader.

Most piracy that happens is accidental piracy. Passing the book to others. Look at it as great marketing. The best way to combat piracy is to make your book easier to purchase. Distribute broadly.

All reading devices are tethered to ebook stores.

Resist the urge to price your ebook too high.

Pre-orders

We are beta-testing pre-orders now. Sell advance copies of your books. The reader can download a sample. Over a two month period, you can accumulate 1,000-3,000 orders. On the day of release, all the pre-orders are automatically credited the moment your book goes on sale. You spike to the top--maybe even make it to the number one slot.

Budget in extra time for a pre-order. Even one week will help give your sales a boost.

Capture the order at the time you capture the reader's attention.

One-third of readers said they would buy the book now (pre-order) as opposed to later. Two-thirds said they would wait.

Give them a discount if they order early. You can also make the pre-order price cheaper ($2.99) and after the pre-order time is up, bring it back to the regular price ($3.99).

Be sure to update all your other books. Add on your last page "Now available for pre-order).

Apple likes 4-6 week pre-orders. There are 1.5 million books in the Apple store.

Upload the full manuscript at the time of the pre-order. Upload book and cover.

Boxes sets of books reach a lot more people. Special bundles at a really low price attract buyers.

Think globally

Apple is now in 51 countries. B&N is adding other countries. Kobo too. Amazon is adding a least a dozen more. Forty percent of Apple book sales is now outside the U.S. and we believe this will trend higher.

Business

You are running a business and business requires profitability. Sales minus expenses.

You can't control your sales but you can control your expenses.
  • Barter services. Instead of hiring a book cover designer or editor, try to barter services.
  • Or reinvest your profits into professional editing and cover design.
Minimize expenses and maximize profits.


#

My ebook publishing experience:

In March of 2013 I published Moving Tales--Adventures in Relocation to Amazon and also to Create Space, Amazon's POD print version of the book. Both are free of charge unless you opt to have a professional download the manuscript, have it edited or have a cover designed by one of their illustrators. I chose a DIY approach and had to face a huge learning curve.

I enrolled in Amazon Select because I liked the option of offering my book free up to five times per month. Eighty-one people took advantage of that offer and downloaded Moving Tales. But to date I only have two reviews.

Though Create Space (the print version) sounded like a great idea at the time, I got stuck with some glitches in downloading the manuscript and had to figure out how to fix things. I disabled the book in April and recently put it up again. But will people see it? Not likely. There's really no advertising for your book on Create Space. On Amazon, the print version will come up under your ebook version, but it looks indistinguishable from the other. Most people don't even know a print version exists.

I mentioned March of 2013, right? It's August 12th and I just finished downloading my final version of the cover and tweaked manuscript for both the ebook and print versions. Just couldn't seem to get things right. Mysterious glitches resisted fixing. Since March, I've changed the cover four times. The first cover, designed by a wonderful illustrator, didn't work for the audience I was hoping to reach. So I put one together myself. Again, that DIY part of me. Maybe I spend too much time on Pinterest. 
The first cover

I've tweaked and downloaded the manuscript fifty or sixty times. Lost count...

But I finally have it looking the way I want  on both Amazon and Create Space, and that's what counts.

To date, I haven't made a dime on the book. But the royalties are accumulating. ((sigh))


The NEW cover



I put all my eggs in the Amazon basket the first time out. But my enrollment in Amazon's Select program ends on September 3rd. On September 4th, I will hold my breath and download Moving Tales to Smashwords. 

We'll see what happens. Look for another post after that. Unless I go viral. Then I won't need to.


Fini



Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” eBooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). Strands of Fate released October 2012 (Hardcover/Ebook, Creative Woman Mysteries) and her nonfiction title, Moving Tales, Adventures in Relocation, released in 2013 (Indie-Published). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild.

In addition to writing Linda is Lead Host of the Gate Beautiful Radio Show, part of the Red River Network on Blog Talk Radio—interviewing Christian authors from Debut to Bestselling, airing the 3rd Thursday of every month. She and her husband Michael, married 24 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands Church, The Woodlands, TX.

Cozy Mysteries by Linda Kozar

Gate Beautiful Radio Show--November 21, 2013

Family Reunion--Oregon 2012

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Meet The Christian Authors--2011

Meet The Christian Authors--2011
@ Barnes & Noble, Houston, TX