Tuesday, March 15, 2016

From dreams to print: a writer's tale.

Ahoy everybody! 

I want to thank you all again for making last week a fantastic book release week! Reverie started off stronger than Lucid did, spreading the love far and wide! I hope those of you who are reading it are enjoying the second installment of Devon's story. 

And if you haven't bought it, get to it! As a reminder, it's sitting pretty on Amazon waiting to be bought ;) http://www.amazon.com/Reverie-L-E-Fred-ebook/dp/B01CRRS168/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458097820&sr=8-1&keywords=reverie+l.e.+fred 

I've gotten to do a lot of neat things with my writing lately, one of them being participating at my high school's career day. Truthfully, if you would've told me a few years ago that I would be asked to speak about being an author at my alma mater, I would have laughed. It was a nice little reminder that acting on your dreams, even the wildest ones, is never a bad thing. 

me after talking to my fellow UA girls 

And I also got to provide a service to the youngsters that I would have greatly benefited from in high school, when I realized I wanted to do the whole author thing. I gave them the low-down on the writing to publishing process. 

Now, I've done a few blog posts about editing, reviews, etc. but I'd like to condense the steps on how to publish into one, nice little post. 

SO, if YOU wanna be a writer, you've come to the...write place! 

and I wonder why I'm not a famous author

Step 1: WRITE!

Back to business. 

Of course, this step is a given for all aspiring authors. But it's a hard one to follow. Think of how many people you've heard say that they wanna write a book one day. I bet it's a lot. That, acting, and opening a restaurant are the top three aspirations most people have (I think that's a stat. Idk, go Google it yourself.) Actually writing a story already puts you a cut above the rest. 

So, if you're writing, you're off to a great start. Yeah! 

Step 2: Revise and beta test! 

This part is equally as important as the first one. 

So you finally got your novel? That's great! But that draft is probably gonna read like crap. 

Think about it. Writing is exciting. You have this great story and all these wonderful characters and you rush to get everything that's going on in your head out into written form. Think about the thoughts that go through your head on an average day. If they're anything like mine, they will make sense to no one other than yourself. 

And that's how most first draft novels read. So, as painful as it sometimes is, revision is just as important as writing the damn thing. Get in there and constantly ask yourself the question, "Will others get it?" It'll help you sort through your story and make the best version it can be. 

Beta testing your novel is also crucial. I'm gonna assume you'll have some degree of love for your pride and joy that is your novel. It's human nature to be proud of our own work. It's also human nature to overlook our own flawed products and have this idealized impression of our own stuff. You gotta get some feedback to make sure your novel is as great as you think it is. 

There are a few rules regarding beta readers. First, get someone you trust. The Internet is a shady place with quite a few plagiarizers running a muck. Keep away from strangers, and go with a close friend or relative who will give you constructive criticism. Make sure they enjoy reading your genre, too. Grandma might  not be the best person to read over your erotic Western. 

Or maybe she is, I don't know your grandmother's life. 

Step 3: Find your agent or publisher!

You've written your story, you've revised it a bajillion times, and you made sure to include your grandmother's feedback to make it a swell novel. 

Great! On to the next process: finding an agent or a publisher! 

While you're querying for someone to take on your book, you're gonna want to submit your stuff to both agents and publishers. There are pros and cons to both, but it's best to read up on the individual agents/publishers you want to see what they can offer for your book. 

The best way to find all of these people in the book business is by purchasing The Writer's Market. A new edition comes out every year, so it's best to replenish your copy every so often. 

Speaking of, I need to get a new one to replace my outdated 2013...

But, anyway, you're gonna want your own copy of this thing to mark and highlight while you're going through the list. Not every agent/publisher will want to review your YA sci-fi manuscript. (In fact, a lot of the people listed in my version of the Market explicitly stated that they won't consider YA sci-fi, as it had been exhausted in the early 2010s.) The Market also includes tips on how to write a query letter, synopsis, and other neat things to really make your submissions emails stand out. 

Gandalf used the Market to find the perfect publisher for his erotic Western. 

It will take some time, but once you've marked out all the ones accepting stuff from your genre, you'll have a smoother time for your next go-around, I promise! 

Step 4: Don't give up! 

This is, by far, the most important step. I don't know about my fellow authors, but I thought once I got a publisher that it was only a matter of time before I became the next J.K. Rowling. 

Boy oh boy was I naive. 

Not that it doesn't happen! Your story might be great, and you'll snag the perfect agent/publisher to help your book take off like a rocket to the moon. I honestly hope that happens if your story can bring about some goodness in this world. But you also have to have a reality check. 

Like all creative businesses, the writing one is tough to crack into. Chances are that you'll start off small and build your reader base and reputation to eventually make a mark in the writing world. 

So many famous authors have books from their past that no one's heard of. If your first book is rejected a million times or your first published book is somewhat of a flop, do not let it discourage you! You'll be stronger and wiser for it, and it'll make your autobiography that much more interesting ;) 

a message from your future novels

And that's what I told a bunch of high schoolers today! Was I too real? Too optimistic? Too boring? 

Let me know in the comments section below! 

And don't forget to enter my Lucid giveaway if you haven't already! You can enter to win a free copy of my first e-book here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/ffc734ba77724d5b?ref_=pe_1771210_134854370#ln-fo 

Stay tuned for more fun stuff! 

And keep readin' and dreamin'! 


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Dream Continues! Reverie is OUT today!

Ahoy lovely readers!

Today's the glorious day where my Lucid trilogy continues with its second installment, Reverie! You can view the beautiful Amazon page here: http://www.amazon.com/Reverie-L-E-Fred-ebook/dp/B01CRRS168/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457630865&sr=8-1&keywords=reverie+l.e.+fred

What a beaut, eh?

Being the good little author that I am (see: try to be) I took this day off to devote solely to my new book. I've learned a lot about the publishing world since my start two years ago, and I've written a lot about the publication process. But I've realized that I haven't written that much about my actual stories.

So, today, for the first time in blog history, I'm gonna fiction feature myself.

Promasturbate if you will ;)

I'm not gonna bore you with re-posting my excerpt or blurbs. I'm gonna give you my synopsis, my explanation of this story.

Ever since I was a teenager, I've suffered from this annoying thing called sleep paralysis. The first time I had had an episode, I thought I was going to die. When it happens, I'm either just falling asleep or just waking up. That's what inspired the no-man's land that Devon, Kyle, and Mitch have to walk before reaching Leona's resort area.

Anyway, in this in-between universe is where the fear begins. Your body does this neat little thing during sleep where it paralyzes itself. This is actually good, and it's the reason why most of us don't go acting out our dreams with our eyes shut every night. However, during your slip phase, the paralysis is on, but your consciousness is too.

Most people who suffer from sleep paralysis experience hallucinations. These are usually negative, as the sleeper is already spooked by being paralyzed, Demons, ghosts, and other hideous entities are often attacking the defenseless sleeper, making for a real nightmare of a time.

And that's where my Nightmares come in. I thought about all of the things people are usually afraid of: shark teeth, horns, gravelly voices, and put them into one spooky being. If I could draw, I'd sketch what I was thinking of in my head. I'm sure readers probably consider them walking sharks...oops.

We all know Devon, Kyle, and Mitch are the Three Stooges of my books! 

But the monster beings aren't what bother me about sleep paralysis. What's worse is having to wait out being trapped in this pseudo-dream world while I slowly untangle myself from this sleep prison. Sometimes during this limbo, I think about the possibility of being stuck like this. What would my mom do if she found me immobilized on the couch? Would doctors be able to fix me? Would they think I was in some inexplicable coma?

And that's where I got the idea for Lucid. The blood-sport resort motive behind Leona's enslavement of humanity was purely fiction, but it all sprouted from my fascination with the Dream World being a separate reality. I've always had a huge fascination with fantasy worlds and stores, so transitioning from a sci-fi horror to a world of magical beings and fascinating lands was a no-brainer for me. It was my paying homage to the things that inspired me the most!

Fun fact: I value inspiration over any other virtue in the world. It's one of the most personal things you can do for someone, and it only takes a smile or a well-worded remark to set the inspiration in motion.

If someone can inspire DiCaprio to get an Oscar, you can inspire someone to do something great today!

Lastly, people are probably wondering why I chose to tell my tale fro ma 15 year old boy's POV. That's got to do with my personal history.

No, I was not once a 15 year-old boy. But I did work at a summer camp where all the CITs were tween boys. One, in particular, was a gem. He'd always do what was asked of him and rarely complain. But when no one else noticed, he'd have the sassiest comebacks and retorts for the jerk counselors. I caught a few, and when he saw me chuckle, he'd open up more around me. This wise-cracking kid is Devon, in my mind, and I wanna thank him for being my camper-turned-counselor-turned-book protagonist.

And that's about all I got for you today! Maybe I'll post more of these author insights in the future. Maybe not. Idk, I don't like talking about myself.

Go away and read now!

And remember to keep readin' and dreamin'


***And if you haven't or someone you know hasn't read Lucid yet, I'm doing a giveaway on Amazon! Enter to win here! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/ffc734ba77724d5b?ref_=pe_1771210_134854370#ln-fo

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Prepping for promotion: a panicked writer's take.

Ahoy lovely readers!

Here's yet another installment of my writing journey blog posts. With my sequel well on its way to the e-shelves, I've taken some time to reflect on a major part of keeping one's novel alive.

If you're a part of the vast majority of writers, you're gonna get your start with a small publishing company or self-publish. This is completely normal and, I'm told, a great and humbling way to start your budding writing career.

Small house publishing companies come with tons of perks, too. You get your feet wet in what's usually an accepting community of writers who sincerely wish their fellow pub writers success. Before Lucid came to be, I had a slew of authors from my publishing company offering me advice and spots on their blogs. I've said it one, and I'll say it a million times: I am grateful every day for my publisher, and I wouldn't change anything about my intro into the author world.

But that doesn't make self-promotion any easier.

Like starting a garden, marketing and promotional skills help fertilize your book before it takes root on the market. You need to sew the seeds by creating blogs, author pages on social media, and joining a crap-ton of writing groups you'll probably forget your username for and never log in again.

Most other authors are probably vastly more successful at promotions than I am, but I was never a stellar gardener, either ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Me after Lucid promptly plummeted in ranks. 

But, like all things, you can get better with time, practice, and a little sweat. So, if you're a newly published author, or you're an old dog up for learning some new tricks, here's what I've found has helped:

Make a media kit ASAP 

This is especially true for small house publishers and indie authors with tight communities. In the beginning, I felt really self-conscious about asking people to host Lucid on their blogs. I didn't want to bother my author superiors by pestering them to host me. It wasn't until I started meeting new writers and having my own blog that I realized the blog hosting works both ways.

People are gonna wanna host you. Not only does it give you exposure with people you never would have thought of reaching out to, it'll also give that author some foot traffic on his/her blog. Think about it: you'll share their blog post, they'll share their blog post. It's like an amoeba and a clown fish. Y'all are both helping each other.

Don't give me that look, that was witty.

So, it's really important to have information ready to give to these authors who're so kind to host you. A media kit is about 1-2 pages of book and author information. You'll usually include a blurb/synopsis, an excerpt, your buy links, your (short) author bio, and your personal links.

Oftentimes the buy links won't be available til the day your book comes out, so I've found it handy to create a little book website. I used Wix, which is totally free for their basic site, and made the first page all about Reverie. Once Reverie comes out, the authors who are hosting me will post my Wix page, which the readers can go to and find all of my buy links sitting pretty for them.

If you want an example, you can check mine out here: Simple, no?

Twitter is your friend

When I was younger, I hated Twitter. I mean, hated it. I remember sitting in my Intro to Mass Comm class, listening to the professor gush over this new social media tool. Here were a few thoughts I had in Fall of 2008:

What am I supposed to do with 140 characters?

Facebook lets you write more than that, and it has fun games to play!

This will never take off. So stupid.

Actual photo for my freshman college ID

It wasn't until much later, and long after Lucid came to be, that I realized how much of an impact writers can have on Twitter.

The # is an all-powerful tool that can connect you with hundreds of potential readers and followers. 

For example, I started posting #scifi on all of my posts about Lucid. I gained about 10 followers in one day (which is a lot for someone of my humble reputation) just by doing that.

I also try to tweet each day with a trending hashtag. Not only does it give me exposure in new demographics, but it also serves as a nice little writing exercise each day. Sometimes, in the midst of all the marketing and social media, I forget that I'm doing this because I am a writer. Weird, right?

Try a new outlet (but don't stay if it's not your thing)

The world of social media, book promotions, etc. is constantly changing. The Internet basically turns us all into middle schoolers who are ready to jump onto the next fad train whether it's a good idea or not. Authors constantly have to chase their fanbase from one social media platform to the next.

Which can be an exciting thing, if you have a gratuitous amount of time on your hands. Most of us do not, however, so it's important to move on to something new if something isn't working for you.

For example, I know that Facebook and Twitter are gonna be my bros for a long time. I have all of my family, friends, and fellow authors on my Facebook page, so that's a standard. Twitter, despite my beliefs 8 years ago, ain't going anywhere either, and is great for attracting new potential readers. I'll keep my author stuff active on those social media sites for as long as they're around.

But, some other social media have not drunk from the fountain of immortality, and you have to know when to leave them for another thing.

Did authors promote stuff on MySpace? I was too busy worrying about my Top 5 and sweet layouts to care. 

And some social media works better for other genres. I tried out Google+ with my YA sci-fi/fantasy a few months ago. That was a flop. I didn't get a significant amount of new views on my blog, and my book still sat at the bottom of the barrel on Amazon's ranks. So, instead of hanging on to something that was dead, I've moved on.

After this blog, I'm gonna try Tumblr. I see all the whipper snappers on there nowadays, and I wanna be hip with the cool kids. Wish me luck!

I didn't know my image and likeness were in so many memes. I'm famous! 

Any other authors care to chip in about promo prep and social media sweet spots? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!

And until next time, keep readin and dreamin!