Monday, April 29, 2013

The Benefits of Goodreads

Goodreads is a social reading platform that allows readers to track everything about books from choosing what they want to read, to rating and reviewing those books, to interacting with authors. It's also a great platform for authors to connect with readers. (For a better description, click here to go to their About Us page.) 

Recently, Goodreads has been in the media a bit due to the fact that Amazon has now purchased Goodreads and, according to many authors and readers, the jury's still out on whether or not this union will ultimately be beneficial. Some say it will be the same as before; others have already deleted their accounts; some are convinced having Amazon on their side can only be a good thing; and many authors, like me for instance, are willing to wait and see what actually goes down as things change over before deciding how they feel about it. This point of this post isn't to open up that whole can of worms, however. It's to enlighten fellow authors (especially indies who tend to have to do so much more of the interaction/publicity themselves) on the benefits of Goodreads, because, let's face it,  the site does offer authors great ways to get their books in front of readers in a timely and organized manner. 

We're going to go over a few ways to maximize your readers' viewing potential, but first, if you're still unsure about boarding the Goodreads train, allow me to share some stats straight from their website: 

There are currently over 15 million members23 million reviews, and 525 million books on Goodreads.

Wow. I'd say those stats alone are pretty good reasons to check Goodreads out from an author standpoint, wouldn't you? And now, for the breakdown:

1) In 7 Splendid Articles on Using Goodreads As An Author (link), Iain Broome points out the best articles regarding maximizing the benefits of Goodreads according to Writer's Digest, Writer Unboxed, The Indie Exchange, Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary Agency, and more. It is definitely a good read (pun not intended) and worth saving to refer to later.

2) Goodreads giveaways: This is mentioned in the above article but I think it should be mentioned again. The simplicity alone of doing a giveaway makes it worth the few minutes of set up. The facts that readers see the giveaway on Goodreads (you can easily share it on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, your website, et cetera via one simple link or by using a widget) and the giveaway gives the option for readers to add it to their Goodreads shelves (thus showcasing your book to all of their friends as well) are just bonuses. (You can view the giveaway form here.) 

3) Goodreads' Author Program (link) suggests and explains how you can maximize your potential using not only their giveaways, but publicizing upcoming events, participating in discussion forums, sharing excerpts of your writing, advertising, writing quizzes, and more. There's even a video for those of you who appreciate a visual description, not to mention a video on pretty much everything they offer (reviews, giveaways, groups, advertising, and so on). (link)

Bottom line, readers interact. They share what they love, what's stuck with them, what they want to read, what made them think, who they love to read and would love to read more of, and much, much more. Considering the fact that Goodreads' potential can only grow larger, it makes sense for authors to use this social reading platform in their favor. 

Feel free to share your Goodreads experiences in the comments!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Hey Everyone!

One of our very own has just released her second novel, Anomaly. This is a kick ass vampire book, the first in a series, that brings together the paranormal vamps so many love, a bit of romance, a lot of mystery, and a whole lot of self discovery.

Book Blurb
How far would you go to save your sister?

Life as a college senior is stressful enough. Between mid-terms, stupid boys, and a rare blood condition, Eliza Landry is just trying to figure out what normal is—whatever that means—when she discovers that vampires aren’t just a thing of legend.

In a matter of moments, her life changes forever when she and her older sister Kate suffer a vampire attack which leaves Eliza with two puncture wounds on her neck and an allergy to sunlight. But she’s still human, or at least she thinks she is. It doesn’t really matter—her main concern is that her sister is missing.

Sorrow turns to obsession, leading Eliza to piece together the puzzle of that terrifying night. Even stumbling upon a millennia-old vampire assassin named Luke Conrad who either wants to kill her or kiss her (she can't decide) cannot deter her.

When bodies start piling up and one of them is supposedly Kate, Eliza and Luke set out to discover who is behind the attacks. Soon, Eliza is drawn into the dark and dangerous world of the undead, with no guarantee she’ll make it out alive, and no doubt that she won’t like what she finds.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Accountability for the Indie Author

It is a known fact that majority of people do better when they have some form of accountability. Trying to lose weight? Having a gym buddy or personal trainer will make you twice as likely to stick with it. Have a deadline or a business partner waiting on something? You get it done faster. Project where others are relying on you? It becomes more of a priority. You get my point.

Writing is no different. For the traditional authors, they have dead lines for agents or publishers. For indies, we have each other. Seriously.  I know that, for me at least, if I have someone counting on me to write, I write. If I don’t have goals or if I don’t tell anyone about them, other things constantly get in my way. (Or you know, posting on accountability because a really amazing book distracted me ALL DAY LONG!)

Find a writing group, a critique partner, or just post your goals for the day on Facebook or Twitter. Nine times out of ten, someone WILL ask if you made it and no want wants to admit to slacking off.  If you ever see a post like that, ASK them. You will be helping them.

Other ways are word sprints or write chats, where you promise to write at the same time as other authors. Even if you do screw around and don’t write, you are giving your writing buddy a chance to feel that accountability themselves and write what they can.

I have said it before and I will say it again and again, Find your people. Find those special people who encourage you and help you. Don’t deal with the hate and the negative presence out there.

So, feel free to add me on twitter or facebook because I post all the time about Word Chats or Word sprints and I would love to be your person to feel accountable to :D

Friday, April 12, 2013

Business Planning: Your Production Schedule

Part of the joy of self-publishing is the ability to set our own schedules. We can determine how many books we release in a year, how far apart they are to be spaced, and when they will hit the virtual shelves. We are not limited by publisher scheduling that only allows one title a year, nor are we contractually obligated to deliver manuscripts by a certain time. 

Have you ever heard that old saying, "Given enough rope to hang yourself with?" The freedom that comes with being completely in charge of our own schedules can also become a hindrance to us. Without a set schedule, it's easy to slack off . . . or as may be the case for many writers, it's easy to set publication dates that we can't reach without skimping on editorial time. 

A Production Schedule should be a major part of every author's business plan. By taking the time to plan out when you are going to release titles and the timing for the steps along the way, you are setting yourself up for success. Not only does a production schedule give you something to go off of for your own benefit (say, in helping you plan your finances around the release), it also allows you to pre-schedule with editors and cover designers. If you have a date scheduled with your editor from the start, you won't have the last-minute scramble to find an open editor when you finish your draft. You also have added incentive to get your draft done on time - there's nothing like missing a deadline when someone's waiting to get your manuscript from you. 

So how do you go about setting a production schedule? The answer to that is the ever-infuriating it depends. Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you and your business, but I do have a few suggestions:

  • Look at your past work. How long did it take you to draft the book? And how long did you then spend in edits? You can't base your production schedule off anyone's work but your own. Maybe you can write and edit fast enough to release several books a year; maybe you need much longer and will only be releasing one title a year. (And don't let anyone tell you that you have to release a ton of titles to make it. More titles may help, but releasing early just to get them out there will only hurt.) Whatever your schedule looks like, make sure it is something that works well for you and your working pace. This isn't a race or competition, y'all. 
  • Make sure you plan in time for edits. You know how long it takes you to write a draft, and you know how long it takes you to get through edits. When you plan your schedule, make sure you also plan in enough time for your editor to work on your project. I work as an editor, and I can tell you: it is possible to turn edits around for an author really quickly, but work is much more thorough and less likely to have mistakes missed with enough time allowed. (Also, most editors will charge extra for rush edits, so do your bank account a favor and work time into the schedule.) All editors are different, so contact yours to see how much time she needs. 
  • Plan enough time for publicity and marketing. Hype can't build overnight. Give yourself enough time to get word out and give your baby the best chance you can. 
  • Plan for something to go wrong. My time as the editorial coordinator for Month9Books has taught me one very important thing: something is bound to come up on every title. Make sure you are ready for that eventuality. Personal example: I had plans to get the most recent draft of my book done and to an editor at the end of March. Then all the things happened. A bunch of Month9 work came up; I had a few freelance projects come my way; the farm, in a truly farm-like way, demanded so much time to fix fences (always the fences); and then I got sick. So, yeah, draft didn't get done. And while it was a hassle to have to reschedule with my editor, I had the time built into my schedule, so it won't change my release date at all. If I hadn't scheduled buffer time in, there's a very real chance I would have to push that date back. 

I can't tell you what your production schedule should look like; I don't know your work habits, and I don't know how many rounds of edits your title will need. My schedule is probably a little more detailed than many; chalk that up to scheduling for a publisher. :) Here's what my schedule for Incubus, my December release, looks like:

  • Rewrite delivered by 31.July.2013
  • Full beta read by 7.August.2013 (I have awesome fast readers.)
  • First revisions by 14.August.2013
  • Send to publicist and editor by 15.August.2013
  • Content edit returned by 31.August.2013
  • Revisions and edits by 15.September.2013
  • Copy edits returned by 30.September.2013
  • Revisions by 14.October.2013
  • Pre-proofing by 21.October.2013
  • Formatting by 31.October.2013
  • Second proof by 7.November.2013
  • Send files to Lightning Source by 10.November.2013
  • Final proofing (both eBook and print) by 24.November.2013
  • **Cover needed by 3.September.2013**
  • Release date: 3.December.2013

Yes, I know there are three proofreading rounds in there. I am neurotic like that. I read my books forward, backward, and totally randomly, trying my very best to squash out any proofing mistakes. Your schedule may not be this detailed, and that's okay. The important thing is that you have one. I write a schedule like this for each book I plan to release, plus a master schedule of my releases, so I can look at the big picture and know what to expect for my business.    

There you go - the nitty gritty of scheduling your titles. Take some time to figure out a schedule that works for you. Then get back to writing - that's the fun part anyway!

Your turn: do you schedule out your books, or do you let things run as they may? Leave it in the comments. 

(I'll be back next week to talk about big, bad finances!)



Friday, April 5, 2013

Business Plans for Authors

I think it's safe to say that many of you lovely readers are writers. We love words and creating and art. We spend hours, days, weeks, months, and (for some of us) years crafting our perfect book. Sweat and tears (but hopefully not blood) are poured into our work, and we let that creative side roll. It's fun and beautiful and wonderful. 

But, unfortunately, that's not all there is to being a writer - at least, that's not all there is to being a published author. Whether you publish with a major Big Six (Five? Four? I can't keep up with the mergers anymore) House, a small press, an eBook exclusive house, or chose to go it alone-ish and self-publish, you are now a businessperson. Yep, that analytical, chart- and list-loving side of your brain finally gets to come out and play. (And if you are one who thinks that side of your brain lay down and died many moons ago, prepare to resuscitate it, because you'll need it now. But don't worry, it won't be too hard.) I'm going to be focusing on indie authors, because - hello! - this is an indie author blog, but I think a lot of this will apply to authors with big houses behind them as well, just maybe with a little tweaking.

Why does an author need a business plan? 


Good question; I'm glad you asked. As nice as it would be to be able to just sit at home and churn out words, the reality of indie publishing is that you are no longer just a writer; you are now a writer and a publisher, so all the major business decisions fall on you. I wrote a business plan for my massage studio*; I wrote a business plan for my alpaca farm; it only makes sense that I should write one for my writing and publishing. 

After all, this is a business. (Have I drilled that in enough yet?)

So what goes into a business plan? 


That really depends on you and how thorough you want to be. My business plan for Metamorphosis Books is twenty-one pages long. Plus I do an additional plan for each individual title. But I'm neurotically organized. It's likely you won't have quite as much in yours as I do in mine. (But if you want an idea of how detailed mine is, check out this blog series by Denise Grover Swank. She laid it out so well, and all I'd be doing is basically regurgitating a lot of stuff she said, and what's the fun in that?) At the very least, I think you need to focus on: 

  1. A vision for your business. (below)
  2.  A production schedule. When will your titles be released? When do you have to reach writing and editing milestones in order to make that happen? When do you need your cover by, and when will you start with promotions and publicity? (I will cover this next week.)
  3. A financial plan. How much is this going to cost you? What will you charge for your books? Where do your profits go? (I will be covering this in two weeks.)
There are a ton of other things you could add, but at the very least I suggest these three core items.

Let's talk about vision.


What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you just putting out one book, or are you setting yourself up for the future?  This is the part of your business plan where it's most important to be totally honest with yourself. Where do you really see yourself going with this adventure? It's okay to shoot high here and to plan for big things to happen. We're all dreamers, and while the nitty-gritty of business planning will ground us a bit in later weeks, we can lay out all our grand ideas here.


Please take the time to reflect and be honest with yourself about what YOU really want. Don't base your plan on anyone but yourself. It's easy to see what everyone else has and to try to go for that as well, but is it what you truly want? Example:

A bit more than a year ago, I was writing up my business plan for our alpaca farm. During the research phase, a lot of really cool things popped, and before long I was incorporating those numbers and ideas into my plan. The alpaca business was so cool! And, man, these people were making BANK.

But they were also dumping a ton of money into their business, giving ultrasounds to their pregnant dams, paying multi-thousand dollar stud fees just so they could get the best names in their pedigrees, traveling around the country ALL THE TIME to go to shows. They were performing monthly weigh-ins on their animals and sending fiber samples off to labs to get histogram readings. (It's okay if you don't know what that means.)

It was easy to get caught up in the excitement and pull of those big numbers, but when I made myself be completely honest about what I wanted, that lifestyle was not it. My husband grew up on a farm and has a livestock background; alpacas are livestock, but these farmers were not treating them this way. I didn't need - or want - the fancy gadgetry and hand-breeding; my animals know how to do the dirty just fine on their own, and their offspring are just as great. I don't need to win awards at shows and to have a piece of paper saying how great my animals' fiber is; the spinners and knitters I sell to don't care what the judges say - they just know good fiber.

Sorry to go all farm-talk on y'all. The point is: it was easy to see what others have and put those ideas into my plan. But when I really thought about it, I realized those weren't the things I wanted. Sure, they were great for those other farms, but just not for me. So now I run a very laid-back alpaca farm, very different from all those I researched before business planning, and I couldn't be happier with it. (Well, I could be happier if that one devil alpaca would stop eating our dog food, but that's beside the point.)

So take some time and think about what you really want out of your writing and publishing. It's fine to look at what others are doing and have accomplished**, but when it comes time to actually write your own plan, first try to put all of those other authors out of your mind so you can meditate on you. Once you figure yourself out, you're ready to write out the vision for your business.

Okay, I think I've gone on about long enough for one blog post. I'll be back next week to talk about production schedules.

Your homework for this week: if you've not yet done this, take some time to sit down and envision what you want from your writing and publishing. Where do you want your plan to take you? (And if you've already done this, take some time to read over what you have and re-evaluate. Are you still in line with what you originally planned? Business plans are fluid. Don't be afraid to change course.)

*This was before I destroyed my right shoulder and effectively squashed a steady massage career.

**It's actually really great and beneficial to research what others have done, and that research will come in handy for later parts of your plan. Just try to ignore the others for this part.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

COVER REVEAL: The Trouble with Goodbye by Sarra Cannon


Title: The Trouble With Goodbye

Author: Sarra Cannon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Age Group: New Adult

Cover Designer: Okay Creations

Reveal organized by: AToMR Tours

Expected release: May 2013




Book Description:


One night can change everything…

Two years ago, Leigh Anne Davis shocked everyone in tiny Fairhope, Georgia when she broke up with her wealthy boyfriend to attend an Ivy League university a thousand miles away. At school, she finds a happiness and independence she’s never known.

Until one terrifying night takes it all away from her.

With no place else to go, Leigh Anne heads home to reclaim her old life. A life she worked so hard to escape. On the outside, she seems like the same girl everyone has always known. But deep inside, she’s hiding a terrible secret.

That’s when she meets Knox Warner, a troubled newcomer to Fairhope. His eyes have the same haunted look she sees every day in the mirror, and when she’s near him, the rest of the world fades away. But being with Knox would mean disappointing everyone all over again. If she wants to save what’s left of her old life, she has no choice but to say goodbye to him forever.

Only, the trouble with goodbye is that sometimes it’s about courage and sometimes it’s about fear. And sometimes you’re too broken to know the difference until it’s too late.



About the Author



Sarra Cannon grew up in a small town in Georgia where she learned that being popular always comes at a price. She is the author of the young adult paranormal Peachville High Demons series, which she first began self-publishing in October of 2010. Since the series began, Sarra has sold over 120,000 copies and recently signed a contract with Sea Lion Books to create a graphic novel adaptation of Beautiful Demons, the first book in the series.

Sarra lives in North Carolina with her amazing husband, her new baby boy, and her teeny tiny Pomeranian, Snickerdoodle.


Author Social Media links:





Review: INVISIBLE by Cecily Anne Paterson


"Today I'm officially brave, which is what you are when you're scared but you still show up."

Blurb from Goodreads:

Jazmine Crawford doesn’t make decisions. She doesn’t make choices. She doesn’t make friends. Jazmine Crawford only wants one thing: to be invisible. For Jazmine, it’s a lot easier to take out her hearing aid and drift along pretending that nothing’s wrong than it is to admit that she’s heartbroken about her dad dying. She’s been drifting and ignoring her over-worried mum for four years now.

When bad girl Shalini and her mates adopt Jazmine, she quickly finds herself involved in more than she can handle. Sitting in disgrace in the principal’s office, Jazmine is offered a choice: help drama teacher Miss Fraser in the upcoming production of The Secret Garden or face a four week suspension.
It’s Miss Fraser who clinches the decision. “I believe in you Jazmine,” she says. “I know you can do this.” And Jazmine, terrified, disbelieving and elated all at the same time, joins the play.

For a while it’s all good. Drama star and chocolate lover Liam is friendly and Jazmine realises that making friends, talking to her mother and feeling her emotions isn’t as scary as she thought. In a final happy twist of fate, acting diva Angela quits the play and with only a week to go, Miss Fraser asks Jazmine to take on the main role of Mary.

But then Shalini returns from her suspension. She’s out for payback, and she has just the ammunition she needs to force Jazmine to quit the play and go back to her old ways.

Will Jazmine be confident enough to stand up for herself against Shalini? Will Liam still like her if he finds out who she really is? And does she have the strength to face the truth about her father’s suicide?

I came across INVISIBLE while perusing Amazon a few weeks ago (it was and currently still is available as a free ebook). Seeing as it was

1) a young adult book


2) written by an indie author

I knew I had to check it out and, to be honest, I wasn't prepared for the kind of story Cecily wrote. The blurb pretty much explains the jest of the storyline; the only difference is, when you read INVISIBLE, you feel how Jazmine feels. You get how numb she's become, how lacking the relationship between her and her mother is, how sad it must be to not allow herself to feel. (Sidenote: Cecily is from Australia, so there are a few references that kind of throw you off if you're from the US, but they're hardly worth mentioning.)

I don't want to give anything away, but this is one of those books where you want to applaud for the MC at the end because you're so proud of how much she's learned. Cecily does a great job of getting you inside Jazmine's head. The Secret Garden references are neat, but most of all I truly enjoyed watching the little bubble Jazmine kept around herself expand and grow wider, allowing more people and feelings in the further the story goes. The book is a little slower paced through the first half, but as these types of stories go, it wouldn't work if it wasn't. You have to get to know the "before" Jazmine in order to see how far she's come.

One last quote:

Later, as I'm supposed to be copying safety rules for using the power drill off the board I'm secretly and strangely happy. I never realised before that when someone says 'see you at lunch' it feels like sunshine.

add to Goodreads

get INVISIBLE free on Amazon

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Adult Sleepover Weekend information!

So with the NEW ADULT SLEEPOVER WEEKEND getting more involved we figured we would do something fun!

For those sitting on the fence about attending and securing their spot early… we have a tipping point!

If you register by June 15th we w...ill enter you in a special drawing to win one of 5 special VIP baskets for you and your roommates to enjoy! So what’s in the VIP baskets?

Just like they do at awards ceremonies, VIP’s get perks! For NASW the winners of these baskets will be treated to entering their room where they will find a huge basket of goodies, including waters, a bottle of bubbly, snacks, chocolate, goodies from area merchants in Savannah(anything from merchandise to gift cards), Some great bath stuff and of course, candles! Everything you need to make an evening of reading that much more special!

And to sweeten the deal, every VIP winner also gets an extra 5 entries in your welcome prize event, where attending authors will be giving away tons of awesome prizes, including meals with them, drinks at the bar and other awesome things!

And guess what? Several of our featured authors have donated books for these baskets! So not only are you treated to the NASW royal treatment, but you’re going to get awesome books outta the deal too!

So what are you waiting for? A weekend with awesome NA authors, parties, prizes, books and memories that will last forever!

Register Here: