Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Get Your Vote On at the 2014 eFestival of Words Awards!


So I did a post earlier this year about all the amazing authors I know who had been nominated in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards for 2014. In an awesome turn of events, all the authors I was rooting for made it to the finals this year in one or more of the categories they were nominated in, so I'm going to ask you to help an author out and go vote for these authors. I've read their books and loved them. I am very passionate about them so please, please, PLEASE take a few minutes to vote for these very deserving writers.

The eFestival of Words login/registration thingy is a lot more simple this year so it should take even less time to vote than it did last year when all of you lovely, wonderful people made my first novel a winner in the Best Heroine category.

I urge you to go vote now because as I understand it, voting closes on or about 8/22/14. Winners will be announced on 8/24/14.

So I'm going to make this short and simple for you.

You're going to go to THIS LINK.

And look for the names of these authors:

NANCY S. THOMPSON (The Mistaken) in Best Audiobook, Best Thriller and Best Hero (For Tyler Karras)

CARRIE BUTLER (Strength; The Mark of Nexus series) in Best New Adult and Best Series

MICHAEL INFINITO (In Blog We Trust & 12:19) in Best Horror and I've Been Shamylaned (i.e. Best Twist)

DANA MASON (The Embrace Series) for Best Romance, Best Mystery/Suspense and Best Hero (Johnny Rhay Bennett)

ALEX CAVANAUGH (CassaStorm) for Best Science Fiction

KATIE METTNER for Best Sweet Romance

Hopefully I did not forget anyone!

Carrie has some excellent instructions on how to register and vote which you can see HERE.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Post-Release Post #8: Fear of Disappointing Readers

Two of my most favorite, I-would-probably-pass-out-if-I-got-within-2-feet-of-them-and-sort-of-almost-did -when-I-met-one-of-them authors are Karin Slaughter and Dennis Lehane. This is well-documented.  I discovered Lehane in the last year, but I've been reading Karin Slaughter's books for over a decade. Both writers have a series based on a specific set of characters. I'm a dedicated, passionate fan of their work.




And yet, they've both written one book I felt disappointed by.

I won't say which because plenty of their other fans had the exact opposite reaction (the books I didn't like were considered their best work by others). Plus, although I was personally disappointed when comparing it to the rest of their work, I was aware that the writing was still excellent, the characters still well-drawn and premises still quite gripping. They were still good books. Finally, just because there is one book in each series that I feel wasn't as good as the others doesn't mean I would stop reading their books.

There was one author whose work I read voraciously in my 20s whose books I gave up on because his newer stuff was so far removed from the things that made me fall in love with his work in the first place. It was very sad for me as a reader. I had invested a decade of reading time into this author--and yes, there were some of his titles that disappointed me, but I kept reading his work because on the whole, he delivered.  Until he got too far away from where he started--at least for me. He became mega, super-duper, ridiculous successful so losing one or one million readers probably wouldn't even make a dent in his sales so I didn't feel too guilty.



But as an author on my third book, I find myself worrying about this very scenario--that readers I picked up along the way with my first book will be disappointed by my second book or my third book or any books to come in the future. There actually was a reader who read my first two books and absolutely loved them, but was very disappointed in the last one. I don't know this person. I only know the above is true because of reviews she left. Yet, most people have told me the third one is the best yet--and that third book is the one that finally got me a contract with a large publisher.

This whole business is terribly subjective to begin with. Although bad reviews sting, I don't concern myself much with them because not everyone will like my books and I've been fine with that for some time now. But now at work on my fourth novel, I find myself more and more concerned that I will disappoint readers who were awesome enough to give me a chance three times. Of course, as a writer, I have absolutely no control over this. I always set out to write the best book I can write. I know that in spite of writing the best book I can write that not everyone will like it. Even people who loved my work up until then. All I can do is try to make my fourth book even better than all three before it and hope for the best.

As a writer, you are always trying to get better, to improve, to try new things with your work, but I think the other important aspect of producing good work is to figure out what about your work has kept people coming back and to keep doing it.

*****

Also, as a follow up to my last post about the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards for 2014, the finalists were announced July 1st and I'm thrilled to say that all my favorite writers made it through in at least one or two categories. I'll have more on this later. I just wanted to do a post that was less promo-sounding and more about writing since I hadn't done one in ages.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 eFestival of Words Nominations

I'm way late to the party but better late than never, I suppose. In May, the eFestival of Words Best of Independent eBook nominations for 2014 were announced. I was super thrilled to see so many talented and deserving authors on the list this year who also happen to be friends or acquaintances.



As you may or may not know, the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards is a "peer-nominated awards program designed to highlight the best of the independent community from both indie authors and small, independent presses." They are part of the eFestival of Words Virtual Book Fair which takes place each August and is sponsored by Bards and Sages Publishing.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout-out to the following amazing authors who were nominated this year. Finalists will be announced July 1st!

NANCY S. THOMPSON'S THE MISTAKEN



- Best Audiobook
- Best Thriller
- Best Hero (Tyler Karras)
- Harvey Award (Book we most want to see made into a movie)

MICHAEL INFINITO, JR.'s 12:19



- Best Horror

MICHAEL INFINITO, JR.'s IN BLOG WE TRUST



- I've Been Shamylaned Award (i.e. best twist)

CARRIE BUTLER'S MARK OF NEXUS SERIES



- Best New Adult (Strength)
- Best Series

DANA MASON'S DANGEROUS EMBRACE & PRECIOUS EMBRACE




- Best Mystery/Suspense
- Best Romance
- Best Hero (Johnny Rhay Bennett from Precious Embrace)

CASSIE MAE'S REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND


- Best Young Adult

Also nominated is Michelle Brownlow's In Too Deep for Best New Adult & Best Villain (Noah); Katie Mettner's Sugar's Song for Best Romance and Nicky Wells's Sophie's Turn for Best Cover Art and Best Heroine (Sophie).




I am also thrilled to announce that my second novel, Aberration was nominated this year as well in the following categories:



- Best Thriller
- Best Novel
- Best Villain
- I've Been Shamylaned

Good luck to everyone nominated! I hope to see all my brilliant friends in the finals!!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Another One of My Favorite Books Is OUT NOW!

I promise this blog is not turning into a promo site. The problem is that I know so many amazing writers who keep churning out these amazing books. It's a heavy cross to bear (*winks, smiles*). So the lovely, kind, funny, crazy-talented Dana Mason has just released the third and final book in her Embrace Series. Now look, by now you guys should know I don't really do romance. I do give a lot of romance books a chance each year but usually don't make it through any of them. Dana Mason's books are romance but they also have thrills, chills and suspense for readers like me who need just a little something extra with their romance!



Now here is something important: You can read any one of these books as a stand-alone. They do not need to be read in order. They're all excellent and although characters in each one overlap, you can still read BROKEN EMBRACE today and not be confused at all. I personally love when a series is able to do this. I remember that when I first discovered Karin Slaughter and Dennis Lehane, I chose the book that looked most interesting to me in each of their series and read that one first. In Slaughter's series it was #2 and in Lehane's it was #5. Those were the ones that hooked me and I went back and read every single one of the others. May this happen to you with Dana's Embrace Series! What I'm saying is that if you read what's below and say, "Well that sounds interesting, but I don't have time to read a whole series right now and catch up to this third one", you don't have to worry about that! Get BROKEN EMBRACE now, read it and be totally blown away!

So here's the skinny:


The Past...

As childhood sweethearts, Brian and Melissa's plans were simple: finish school, get married, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, life didn't go as planned. Melissa went away to college, and Brian married her best friend.

The Present...

Seventeen years have passed and Brian's stable family life has come crashing down around him. His wife's a cheater, his teenage daughter is hiding things from him and Melissa is back in town to remind him of what he lost all those years ago.
Melissa's returned home, ready to forgive and focus on her future, but that all changes the day she gets a desperate phone call from Brian's daughter, Erin. Thrown back into Brian's tumultuous life, Melissa struggles to move beyond the pain of his broken promise.

The Future...

While working together to save Erin from the evil web she's caught in, Melissa and Brian fight to fix the past or face losing each other all over again.

Here is my review:

I've read and loved both the previous books in this series, Dangerous Embrace and Precious Embrace and I think that this one is the best one. Mason plunges the readers immediately into the action with some pretty shocking twists really early on in the book. From that point on, it is just addicting. As always, the writing is smooth, elegant and engaging. The characters are wonderfully complex, the "good guys" both flawed and lovable and the "bad guys" so subtly chilling they will make your skin crawl. Then there are a couple of characters who fall somewhere in between--characters who I thought would be really hard for an author to pull off believably and Mason just nails it. There is plenty of suspense to keep you turning pages. There is also what I cannot live without in any book and that's emotional depth. I was rooting so hard for Brian and Melissa. Mason really teases you with this one and just when you think that things are wrapping up, there is more excitement and more twists to come. As always there are wonderfully written steamy sex scenes as well. Mason's got it all and she absolutely delivers! This book was awesome. Don't waste anymore time, get it! And while you're at it, grab her other two in this series--you won't be disappointed.


Get BROKEN EMBRACE here.

You can also get the first one, DANGEROUS EMBRACE here. ONLY 99 CENTS NOW!


And the second one, PRECIOUS EMBRACE hereONLY 99 CENTS NOW!


Friday, May 30, 2014

Otherborn Has a New Cover!



You guys might remember my post on the Otherborn series earlier this year. I was blown away by both books. Anyway, Otherborn has a brand new cover which I'll be sharing with you here. Please check out these books. They are totally awesome!

  



   

Author Bio:

Anna Silver is an author and artist living in the greater Houston area with her family, pets, and overactive imagination. Her art has been featured in the Houston gallery Las Manos Magicas. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. She's freelanced for private clients and small publications like the Hill Country Current. OTHERBORN, her first published novel, has been featured on 2 of Amazon's "Bestsellers" lists. ASTRAL TIDE is her second published novel.



Author Links:


Otherborn

London and her teenage friends live in a reprocessed world.

Confined within Capital City’s concrete walls, London has done the impossible and the illegal. She’s created something New- a song. But her mentor, club owner Pauly, is not impressed. Since the historic Energy Crisis forced everyone behind walls generations ago, the Tycoons have ensured there is truly nothing new allowed under the sun. Pauly warns London to keep her song to herself, if she knows what’s good for her.

What he doesn’t know is that London is keeping an even bigger secret: she dreams. And she’s not alone. London’s band-mates and friends have begun dreaming as well, seeing themselves in “night pictures” as beings from another world. As Otherborn, they must piece together the story of their astral avatars, the Others, in order to save their world from a dreamless, hopeless future.

When Pauly is murdered and an Otherborn goes missing, London realizes someone is hunting them down. Escaping along the Outroads, they brave the deserted Houselands with only their dreams to guide them. Can they find their friend before the assassin finds them? Will being Otherborn save their lives, or destroy them?

Book Links:


Otherborn book trailer on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fiWzY-jTRg


Cov

Otherborn first five chapters on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/story/12024518-otherborn

Author Blurbs:

"Anna Silver weaves a dark new world full of taut suspense and characters that leap off the page." –Sophie Jordan, NYT bestselling author of the Firelight trilogy

"Travel to a world where dreaming is a radical act that can save the world… Anna Silver’s post-apocalyptic vision is rich with imagery and metaphysical ideas, grounded by vivid, three-dimensional characters. A truly fresh take on dystopian." –Nina Berry, author of the OTHERKIN series

“Silver built the right amount of conflict and tension to draw readers into her dystopian world, and created characters who are leery, yet determined to embrace New.” –Natasha Hanova, author of Edge of Truth

***

There is also a short prequel called DREAM BRAVE and the second book in the series, ASTRAL TIDE.

Check them out!






Thursday, May 22, 2014

Something Else Amazing Happened

So you guys might remember my What if Something Amazing Happens post which is my second most popular blog post ever. (The first most popular is the one about the Finding Claire Fletcher launch). At the time, I had finally found an agent after 4 years of rejection and I had been on submissions for over a year (and had 6 more months to go!) You can go back and read the post, but basically it's about not giving up even when going forward seems like utter madness. 

As you guys also know, my first two books, Finding Claire Fletcher and Aberration did finally get picked up by a publisher--a new, small press called Sapphire Star Publishing. I was ecstatic to have a publisher, and I've been extremely happy with SSP. I had a third book sitting around, waiting to be revised. I would have happily gone with SSP once more for that title, but last year they closed to submissions. Meaning, I'd have to do something else with my third book.





The success of my first two books, although extremely modest in the grand scheme of things, was still beyond all of my expectations. I felt like I had some momentum with the first two, and I didn't want to lose it. I didn't want to lose the interest of the readers I had picked up along the way. If I went traditional again, it would likely be years before the book would actually come out. There would be months of waiting for my agent to read it and suggest revisions. Likely years on submissions to publishers (I know, you're thinking why would you spend years on submissions to publishers when you've got two books out that are doing reasonably well for an unknown newbie, but let's not forget that this is ME. My history has taught me that whatever it is I'm trying to do--there is a greater likelihood of it taking years than not). Then if I was lucky enough to snag a publisher, I'd have to wait on their production schedule which, again, could be years. I didn't want to wait what could potentially turn into a half a decade to put out a book that was already essentially finished. So after many months of mulling it over and a couple of email exchanges with my agent, I chose to self-publish my third book, Hold Still.



Did I make a big announcement? A proclamation? No, I did not. Was I trying to hide my self-published status? Not at all. Since the most frequent question I got when I did get published by a traditional publisher was, "How much did that cost?" I figured that most people already assumed that I was self-published. When I did actually try telling people that I had decided to self-publish my third book, my announcement was usually met with a puzzled look, a shrug and an, "Oh. Okay. When's it coming out?" (Readers don't care nearly as much about the ins and outs of this industry as writers do. Readers just want a good freaking book. Period.) Since no one seemed to care one way or the other, I didn't feel the need to make a big thing of it. Also, I hadn't entirely ruled out using a publisher in the future, so I didn't want to make a big old declaration of independence since I had no idea what would happen. I might love self-publishing or I might hate it and swear it off forever. At the time, self-publishing was the fastest way to get my book to readers, so that's what I did. I published Hold Still and officially became a "hybrid" author. 

I did like it quite a bit. There's no beating the absolute control of publishing your own work. It's pretty amazing. I would say it's 70% joy and 30% sheer terror. The terror comes from the fact that you have no buffer between you and readers. If something in the book is horribly off, there's kind of no one else involved in the process with you to say, "Hey, you can't do that." You can do anything you want. Of course Hold Still went through a bunch of critique partners, beta readers and a few editors too, so by the time I was ready to hit publish, I felt pretty good about it. I was pretty happy having self-published. I liked it so much I figured I'd definitely do it again. 

Then something amazing happened. 



I got this email from a senior acquisitions editor from Thomas & Mercer, the mystery/suspense imprint of Amazon Publishing. She had read Hold Still, enjoyed it and wanted to acquire it for Thomas & Mercer's 2014 publication list (with an option on my next book). There were negotiations. There was a lot of re-checking my email inbox to make sure that email was still there and that it was actually real. There was some pinching myself. There was some waiting. Then there was a contract. And signatures. More pinching. And now . . .


WOO HOO!!!!

I can't wait to see where this amazing journey takes me next! Thank you to all my fabulous and wonderful family and friends who have been with me every step of the way! You guys are the greatest! And especially all of my amazing writer friends--you guys are the very, very, very best!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Post-Release Post #7: Marketing (Blog Tours)

I've had this post sitting here for a long time, waiting to be published. So here goes!

This post should really be called Marketing for the Indie Author because I'm pretty sure everything I'm about to say does not apply to authors published by Big 5 publishers or their imprints.  Although to be fair, authors pubbed by large houses still have to do a lot of marketing work via social media if they want to be successful.  I was going to do one post on Marketing but it turned out to be way, way, way too long, so I'm breaking it up into a couple of posts.  This one will focus on book bloggers/blog tours.

Anyway, since I am published by a small press that is not a division or imprint of a larger house, I'm considered an Indie author.  As I said in my Post-Release Post #5, most small presses offer little or no marketing. I'm not knocking them.  I'm just telling you.  That is a fact.  Believe me, if they had the budgets, they would want to offer a lot of marketing support, but they simply do not.  They also have limited distribution--meaning that your paperback will not be in bookstores or anywhere else unless you or someone you know goes through a lot of hoopla at each individual store to get them to carry it.  This was never really an issue for me because I think ebooks are where it's at. The only people I know who want paperbacks are my friends and family and that's only because they waited so damn long for me to be published that they like having a physical book in their hands--and almost all of them bought it and actually read it in ebook format anyway.  As I said in my Post-Release Post #6, when I am at signings and events, 9 out of 10 people who stop to peruse my books ask, "Is this available in ebook?"  Of course, royalty rates are higher on paperbacks because they cost more to produce.  Would I make more money if I sold a lot more paperbacks?  Absolutely.  Would I sell more paperbacks if I had them on the shelves of every bookstore in America?  Of course.  But I'm an Indie author.

So, what does this all mean?  It means that you, as an author, will be largely responsible for your own marketing.  I'm not saying small presses do nothing.  Plenty of them offer some marketing/advertising, including my own.  But if you want your book to get into the hands of more people, you'll end up looking at new avenues, new ways to promote it.  Some of these things will be free and others will cost money. If you're lucky to make a few bucks in royalties, I recommend putting it right back into your book.  Use it to buy an inexpensive ad or something.  See what happens.  You have to be careful though.  You don't want to spend more than you make.  At least I don't.

So what's out there for us Indie authors?

Well there are book bloggers.  Many of them can be approached directly by authors.  They will accept a free copy of your book (usually in ebook format) for a fair and honest review.  This doesn't cost you anything, but it is time-consuming to troll the internet for book bloggers and approach them.  Also, there is no guarantee that they really will review your book.  I would say out of 30 book bloggers I approached in the last year on my own (meaning they were not part of my paid blog tour) who agreed to read and review my book, four of them actually did.  Free is great but it can be time-consuming and unreliable.

There are blog tours.  If you're a regular blogger and blog visitor, you can set up your own at no cost to you with your blogging friends.  We all try to help each other out in this business so this isn't usually a problem.  I've never known any of my writer/blogger friends to let me down in terms of posting things.  I've heard so many conflicting things about blog tours though.  A lot of people say they're worthless.  But I really felt that all of mine were worth it.  Incidentally, I did my own blog tour with blogging/writing friends for my FCF launch and sold a lot of books.  I chose not to do that with my second novel, opting instead for a blog hop which was way more fun and a lot less work but I didn't sell nearly as many book as I did with the blog tour launch.  Can I really accurately attribute the difference in sales to the blog tour?  I don't know.  But I know when I did one, there were sales.  When I didn't, there were not.

Then there are paid blog tours.  I like the ones that offer reviews.  I had two for Aberration, one with a company that only offered 2 reviews in the entire 30 days and one with a company that offered 18 in 30 days.  The first company was all guest posts and interviews.  I had a lot more success with the 18 reviews than with the guest posts.  My advice in terms of blog tours is to ask around and see who has used which companies and whether they were satisfied with them. Shop around.  Look at authors who are currently touring with the company.  Are they in your genre?  Click through to their Amazon page.  What's their sales rank?  If they're halfway through a 30 day tour and their Amazon ranking is 500,000, that's not so great.  There are a ton of blog tour companies out there now.  Just make sure you shop around and do some research before you turn over your hard-earned money to one.  As I've said, a lot of people swear off blog tours, but I've always had success with them.

In my next posts on Marketing I'll talk about ads and then social media.