Help #StopFakeBooks

I’m Launching a Campaign to Support Authors and #StopFakeBooks, but I Need Your Help

I recently came across an article from Vox, and then the New York Times, that (quite frankly) pissed me off. 

Apparently, Amazon has a problem with counterfeit books. I’m talking about entities that plagiarize an author’s book, print a fake copy (usually at much lower quality), and sell it as the real thing. The result?

The author doesn’t make any money, the reader receives a crappy copy, and the thief walks away richer.

The articles I’m referring to are:

What Can YOU Do?

Luckily, as a reader and consumer of books, you can help fight this! It’s an easy fix.

If you decide to buy a book on Amazon:

  • Always buy directly from either the book’s publisher, or from Amazon.
  • Do NOT buy from any “third-party” sellers.
  • Help spread the word on social media and to your friends using the hashtag #StopFakeBooks.

Many people are unaware of this issue and may purchase a counterfeit book without knowing it. Education and awareness are key. 

It’s personal for me, too.

I am concerned this might have already affected my book, The Apollo Illusion. I see several paperback versions of my book being sold by third-party sellers on Amazon that list it in “new” condition. However, the only place a reader can purchase a new version of The Apollo Illusion is directly from Amazon, not from these so-called bookstores. 

Many authors, such as myself, have invested years and thousands of dollars into the writing, editing, production, and marketing of our books. It hurts, both emotionally and financially,  to have one’s work and revenue stolen.

So help me #StopFakeBooks! Take to Twitter, to Facebook, to text, to WhatsApp, and to book clubs. Share this blog post with your friends, family, and book club members. And support your favorite writers by ensuring they’re getting paid for their work!

Would You Help Me Decide Whether to Open an Online, Used Bookstore?

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Should I open an online, used bookstore via Amazon? Help me decide, fellow readers and writers!

Happy Wednesday fellow readers, bloggers, and writers! I have a question to ask you.

I’ve recently tossed around the idea of opening an online, used bookstore via Amazon to go along with my own writing and publishing. I would carry used books from classics to recent bestsellers, and the hope would be to make pricing competitive. However, I’m trying to determine if the quest is worth my time.

Would you help me by taking one minute to answer three quick questions via the survey I developed about opening an online bookstore?

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Your anonymous feedback will help me make the final decision! And I always figure: who better to ask than other lovers of the literary scene? 🙂 Thank you so much for your time and help. Oh, and feel free to pass this survey along to your other reader and writer friends!

Why I’m Cutting Back on Social Media as an Indie Author

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This is me on a hike with my boyfriend months after getting sick.

A week before Christmas in 2018, a virus attacked my brain stem.

Technically, it was my vestibular nerve, which is responsible for communication between the eyes, inner ears, and brain. The condition is called vestibular neuritis (yes, you can Google it).

The result of this random, weird sickness was the world wouldn’t stop spinning and the horizon constantly quivered like riding a Shake Shack. I couldn’t drive, walk, read, cook, sit in a chair at a table, look at a phone or computer screen–and worst of all, I couldn’t write or work.

I took family medical leave for two months before I could return to my full-time job. And when I started coming back to life, I realized something:

Social media was giving me anxiety.

Which is kinda a conundrum, since I’ve worked as a social media manager. And I’m an indie author, and we rely on social media to help sell books. Nonetheless, every time I jumped onto Facebook, I no longer saw my friends having a fun hike or taking a family trip to Northern Arizona.

I saw activities I could no longer do and feared I would never be able to do again.

So I Decided to Quit Facebook for a Month

I also cut back on Instagram; same with Twitter (to be fair, I stopped using Twitter regularly a year ago).

Slowly, I found myself concentrating inwardly again: on my emotions, on my relationships with close friends, family, and my boyfriend. Life became a constant state of meditation, reflection, and observation as I worked to reduce the immense anxiety that consumed me during the recovery stages of this awful sickness.

And I found myself living in the moment more.

The Science Backs Up My Feelings, Too

Today, I’m slowly working some social media back into my life, but I like the way I feel when it’s not a dominant factor. I also realized that I value my privacy. I don’t mind sharing certain personal stories (like this one), but I want to control how much of my life is discussed publicly.

Maybe my subconscious knew these things years ago, when I wrote the first draft of my debut novel, The Apollo Illusionabout a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology.

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Either way, even though I might need social media to help promote my book, I’ll be more conscious of how much I’m using it in the future. I like feeling better. Don’t you?

An Awesome Tool for Authors to Build Email Lists, Readers to Get Free Books!

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Happy Saturday fellow readers and indie authors! I recently found an awesome new (affordable) tool  to help build my email list as an author. It’s also fantastic for readers who want to get free books from new authors in exchange for reviews.

And no — it’s not NetGalley.

The name of the tool is Voracious Readers Only, and it’s a start-up based out of the U.S. The company found me after I listed my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, in Publishers Weekly last year, and offered me a free trial. After receiving around 20 new email subscribers within two days, I decided to sign up for a few months and was thrilled with the results.

Here’s How Voracious Readers Only Works:

As an author:

  • You pay around $20 per month and choose the book you want to give away for free.
  • Voracious Readers Only finds target readers for you and shows them your book.
  • The readers who are interested sign up for your email list in exchange for a free reviewer copy.
  • Voracious Readers Only follows up with the readers to gently remind them to leave reviews. Then, the company notifies you after the reviews have been posted.

As an indie author and debut novelist, building a readership has been imperative, but I don’t have tons of money to invest in ads. I decided to invest about $60 over three months in Voracious Readers Only.

The result? I went from about 30 email subscribers to about 220 subscribers within those three months.

And guys — I didn’t have to do anything. I don’t know about you, but those $60 were well worth it. My new email subscribers regularly open, read, and engage with my e-newsletter, The Readers Club. They will most likely become future buyers of future books.

As a reader:

  • You sign up for Voracious Readers Only FOR FREE.
  • The company will send you book recommendations based on your likes and interests.
  • You choose which books you want to read.
  • Sign up for the author’s email list and download his or her book for free!

Just remember to try and review the book on Amazon and Goodreads, or even your blog. Indie authors give away their books to help build buzz, which will eventually lead to sales. And we LOVE you guys for helping us get there!

So There You Have It

If you’re an indie author, I highly recommend you check out Voracious Readers Only. I think they still have the free trials going on, so you can test it before investing your money.

And by the way, the company doesn’t know I wrote this blog post. THIS IS ALL ME. When I find a great tool that benefits both readers and indie authors, I believe in sharing the good fortune! And I wanted to help Voracious Readers Only find some new clients too, because they were so good to me.

Best of luck, and Happy Reading!

Yes, You Have to Price Your Books Low if You Want People to Buy Them

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You dedicated two years to working on your first novel (here’s mine!). Spent several hundred dollars (or even a couple thousand) on editors and designers.

And now that you’re ready to publish, you’re being told to price your book LOW?

Screw that, right?

I’m Here to Tell You that Low Prices = Higher Readership

I do not advocate giving your book away for free, unless for reviews or giveaway contests. However, if you’re an indie author and you’re publishing your debut novel, you might have to sell your book for less than what it’s worth.

AT FIRST.

If you’re launching your indie career, I doubt this will be the last book you write. So the goal of publishing your first book should be about building readership. An engaged and dedicated readership, who will then buy book #2, and #3, and so forth …

What’s the best way to get readers to take a chance on an indie author they’ve never heard of before? Remove the risk; price your book low.

Increase Prices as Readership Grows

As you begin to build a readership, and people recognize your value as an author, they’ll be more willing to pay a couple of extra dollars for your next book.

Also, as your reviews and sales accumulate on Amazon, at bookstores, and at libraries, you’ll build enough “social validation” to increase prices of your published works.

In essence, think of your indie career as a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t Forget to Reward Your Most Dedicated Fans!

When the time comes to begin increasing your prices, don’t forget about the readers who launched you to this place of success! Make sure to offer them discounts and benefits for remaining loyal fans.

  • Coupon codes
  • Pre-order deals with special pricing
  • Giveaways just for them

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you agree that indie authors should price their books lower to begin building a readership? Comment below!

Why Indie Authors Have to Stick Together

I’ve heard self-publishing “experts” say time and time again that no big difference exists between an author going the traditional route or the indie route.

Ahem — I beg to differ.

Therefore, here are the reasons why us indie authors have to stick together:

1) We have to pay for EVERYTHING.

Editors, designers, copyright filing, advertising, and yes, book tours.

2) And let’s just admit it. Major traditional publishers have one gargantuan advantage over us: connections.

Connections to major media outlets (like the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly), to librarians, to book store owners, to distributors, and to online influencers.

3) No one takes us seriously when we’re starting out.

4) Those dang literary pirates want to steal and sell our stuff!

5) We’re a bunch of anti-establishment rebels.

Of course, we take on this load because we have SO MUCH MORE CONTROL. Over everything.

  • Creativity
  • Legal rights
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Presentation
  • Pricing

But man, for an indie author trying to make it, you guys know this is an uphill battle! I don’t care what anyone says, going indie is a tougher climb. And this, my friends, is why we all gotta stick together.

While you’re here, did you know I published my debut novel six months ago? “The Apollo Illusion” is a science fiction dystopia about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology. Learn more by clicking here!

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What it’s Like to Be 2 Millennia Old?

The following is a guest post from a mysterious writer. You must read until the end to discover the secretive recluse …

Everyone has their secrets.

Mine is more complicated than most. Sure, I look like a perky twenty-four-year-old with resting bitchy face, but you’d be wrong. At least about the twenty-four-year-old part.

I’m actually older than Jesus and far more cynical.

So, you might be asking yourself, what’s it like to live for two millennia? Allow me to explain in GIFs. They’re the “in” thing now, right?

1) Like you simply can’t deal with the human race’s stupidity for a second longer.

2)  Like you’re in a crowded room and completely standing still.

3) Like getting close to anyone is just another road trip to heartache.

4) Like times and technology might be changing, but really, that’s about it.

5) Like you’d rather slide down a banister of razor blades into a pool of alcohol—than be forced to make new friends.

6) Like you could totally ace any history test thrown at you.

7) Like whenever you meet someone without ulterior motives, you might just faint.

8) Like in all honesty, the majority of the time, it’s just…

This probably didn’t sell you much on the glorious lifestyle of being older than dirt—but deal with it. In all honesty, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Then again, maybe you’re a sadist. C’mon, I know at least a few of you reading this are. If that’s the case, feel free to linger a bit longer in my world. Check out Oracle by Carissa Andrews—but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Wondering who Carissa Andrews is now? Well, you can find her:

How to Deal with Criticism After Publishing Your Book

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No matter how you slice it, reading criticism of your beloved book is hard. Especially when it’s your first book, and a critique can feel like a personal assault on your child.

I get it. As I prepared to read the first public reviews of my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, I mentally put up my “wall.” I’ve been a journalist and professional writer for 12 years now, and I became an expert at letting naysayers be naysayers.

But reading criticism of my first novel as a published author—as a creative writer—was a whole different universe I wasn’t prepared for (even though I thought I was).

You will undoubtedly LOVE some of the reviews you receive. You’ll share them on social media, on your blog, in your newsletter, or in paid advertisements. However, others may feel unfair (or at least aspects of them may feel unfair). But everyone knows, as an author, it’s not your place to defend your work once it’s been published.

Judgement now becomes the public’s job.

So, how do you cope when you have to remain silent?

First of all, understand that by trying to argue with the critics, you’ll appear defensive and immature. People will think you’re thin-skinned or an unsuccessful writer who simply can’t take the heat.

In my opinion, the only time you should publicly criticize a critic, is if the critic attacks you PERSONALLY, attacks a loved one, or makes a statement that is false and slanderous (such as claiming you plagiarized your work, when you didn’t).

Here are the ways I dealt with silently swallowing some of the critiques I received:

  1. Realize the unfavorable or unfair review is just ONE PERSON’S opinion. And people are entitled to their own opinions, right? As writers, we thrive on freedom of speech and expression of ideas. It’s all part of the dialogue.
  2. The copyright of your work belongs to you, but the judgement of your book belongs to the readers. It’s the next stage in the creative process, and you have to understand that YOU DON’T OWN THIS. So let it go.
  3. You will probably receive far more positive reviews than negative reviews, so concentrate on the trends! I know this has been true for me with The Apollo Illusion. When I look at the big picture, I realize that overall, people liked my book far more than they disliked it.
  4. You cannot please everyone. What one person loves, another person will hate. Your reviews will reflect this, so try not to take them personally. What matters is that you stuck to YOUR vision when writing your book.
  5. It takes time to build the emotional barrier against critiques of your work. If you’re on your first or second book, be patient. With time comes experience, and with experience comes expertise. I know that I need to give myself more time to get better at “not caring” what others say about my creative work.

If all else fails, you can always decide to just not read the reviews of your book!

**As a writer or author who has dealt with critics, what would YOU add to this list? Comment below, and don’t forget to share!**

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How One Teacher-Turned-Author Overcame Her Fear of Publishing

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Cyana Scriptora

Hey everyone! So since becoming an indie author, I’ve met some other FABULOUS authors who I’d like you to meet. You might see some of them sprinkled here on my blog, as well as in my Readers Club e-newsletter.

Today, I’m dying to introduce you to Cyana Scriptora, who wrote this fascinating fantasy/historical book entitled Lady of Justice (girl power, anyone?) Here’s the cool thing, Cyana is a teacher whose students helped kick-start her into the world of writing and publishing!

Below, Cyana tells us how she found inspiration to write her novel and overcame her fears of publishing (and she’s looking for some additional reviewers, so if you want to read her book for free, COMMENT BELOW with your email address):

A Story of Make-Believe

By Cyana Scriptora

Lady of Justice came to me while I was playing make-believe in a play tent with my daughter. It popped into my head and a ravenous desire to put words to paper consumed me. I spent one month writing the plot line and several more months editing.

My students are my biggest supporters. I write stories for our class, so they can understand biology. They are all too familiar with my writing. After a few of them read it, they loved it so much, they encouraged me to self-publish.

With no formal education in writing other than the general English classes I took in college, I was terrified to publish, but I had this unexplained passion to share this world and these characters with readers.

I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book that mothers and teenage daughters could enjoy together? A book that branches genres, utilizes perspectives from many characters (not just one), and uses flashbacks and dream sequences copiously to let the reader feel the emotions and become a participant in the experience?”

I’ve been told Lady of Justice has everything a reader could crave:

  • For my fantasy readers, it has immortals and magic.
  • For my mystery readers, a who-done- it? puzzle.
  • A little sci-fi.
  • Sword fights, evil empires, mysterious visions, immortal realms, and just enough romance to appeal to the fairy-tale lover.
  • Because it takes place in the present and past simultaneously, it reads like a contemporary too.

About Lady of Justice

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Can you really fall in love with someone through their journals? Can you truly change the past? What if a powerful goddess is willing to help?

Anna can’t stop thinking about Prince Audax. She feels like she knows him in a way that no one else does. She spends way too much time staring at his portrait and she’s even read his most intimate thoughts.

No, Anna isn’t a creepy stalker.

She’s a historian and her future career depends on discovering the truth. Her best friend Liz is convinced that Anna has brought her obsession to an unhealthy level, but she refuses to give up. She is convinced that the answers to the mystery of Audax’s death are still out there, and the clues lie somewhere in that dusty room.

Anna is willing to do just about anything to understand what happened, but to solve this enigma, she will have to travel a lot further than just her university library. As she delves deeper into the past, the twisted plot is unraveled and it’s worse than anyone ever thought.

Readers are loving Lady of Justice, calling it “fantastically put together” …  “AMAZING! A wonderful read that I suggest to everyone” … and “could NOT put it down.” 

Grab your e-book or paperback copy today on Amazon!

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(And remember to tell your friends!)

Have You Seen these Dope Artists? They Designed My Rockin’ Book Cover

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One of the reasons I went indie with my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, was creative control—not just of my story, but of the cover art and presentation.

I had two artists in mind who I wanted working on my book’s look, because these guys are seriously awesome AF.

Cover Art: Rebecca Lopatin

Rebecca Lopatin_Darrel_charcoalYes, we have the same last name, because yes, Rebecca is my sister. But she’s also a professional, accomplished fine artist here in the blazing hot desert of Phoenix, Ariz. Like, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She studied art in Italy. F’ing ITALY.

You guys, she hand-painted my book’s cover art. Like, the classical way. Savage, right?

 

Rebecca has a garage full of oil paintings for sale that need some serious walls. Even if you’re not looking to buy, you gotta check out her work and give her a follow:

Cover Design: Ryan Quackenbush

Ryan is a sick digital artist and illustrator. I mean, this guy sells his own graphic novels at Phoenix Comic Fest (a.k.a. Phoenix Comicon). His stuff is dark and edgy and just AWESOME.

So naturally, I wanted that look and feel for my cover design, considering the genre of my book. He took Rebecca’s art and turned it into a badass book cover that seriously makes people gasp when they see it.

 

 

If you’re into the graphic novel scene (and even if you’re not), I’m telling you to head over to Ryan’s pages NOW and scan his stuff, or follow him: