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Tag Archives: indie author

Swirling Vortex of Life

We have one of those amazing and entertaining new washing machines with a window on top. There is no agitator, but it sure does spin, scatter, and swirl the clothes around so they cling to the edges, like those stand up spinning rides at traveling carnivals- you know, the ones that make you want to vomit and leave you feeling as if you are still spinning even after you flee the ride?

standupwhirlride called life

This has been my life this last year. Every time I feel I may be gaining control and pulling the pieces together, everything starts spinning chaotically again.

When my life spins out of control, my writing habits spin out of control. I like- no, I NEED- to have a plan at all times. I’m a bit of a control freak. Don’t get me wrong. I do not need to plan every minute detail in life. I can respect and even enjoy some spontaneity, as long as I can still do what I already planned.

A year ago, I was publishing my second book in the Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl series, preparing for a mission trip, and enjoying a whole lot of freedom.

During the summer, my whole world changed as my husband and I took in a 4 year old family member with no time to prepare. We had only ever had cats and dogs… now we had a human.  Along with that came many personal and family conflicts and issues, so my writing took a back seat to it all. I always tell aspiring authors/writers to write at least a little every day to keep up in the craft, but I was no longer able to do it myself (of course, that’s partly because I need huge chunks of time to write). What a hypocrite I’d become.

Finally, I was at a place where life was gaining regularity and I could see writing on the horizon again… until another life-changing event took place. I began to feel hopeless in ever being able to write again, and even though it’s always been an outlet to me, I just wasn’t able to do it, even in the moments when I had time. I couldn’t feel it in a way where I could make the right words.

My protagonist, Drew, is a bit of an inspiration to me (and oddly she is a good deal of a younger me). The book title would have readers believe she is ordinary, but she is the hero because she is actually anything but ordinary. I don’t think anyone is truly ordinary, but she is relatable, because she struggles with issues we all struggle with. It’s her personality and how she reacts and views these struggles that make her extraordinary.

I’ve had a tough year, and I’m still learning to deal with everything as it comes, but I found time recently to write a couple posts on this neglected blog, and I’ve gotten back into the planning phase of Drew’s sophomore year of high school, with a plan in place to start writing it out this fall. I began to lose hope and just give up my passion and my dream, feeling like maybe it just wasn’t important in the midst of my current struggles, but I realize I need to hold onto that part of myself, no matter what. You should always hold onto your dreams and your passions, even if you have to put them on hold from time to time; when you do achieve them, they will be that much sweeter. Most people will never know what you will go through to get to where you’re going, but you will.

Life happens around you and to you, and there isn’t always much you can do about that; it’s how you react to it that counts.

Getting into More Shuffles

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There is an over-saturation of self-published, or “indie authors.” I know this because I am one of them. Many are good and the changes in the publishing industry can be seen as a blessing for us getting our books out into the world. However, there is an unfortunate number of these authors who really aren’t any good, like the train wrecks we see audition for American Idol and wonder how they could possibly think they had a chance. There are also some who have great potential, but they lack polish and editing. These last two types are bringing us all down, and the good ones are getting lost in the shuffle. People are afraid to take a chance on an unknown because they may have been burned by one already.

It’s all about who you know, the supporters you have, and self-promoting savvy, apparently. I am sadly lacking in these areas, and I’m shy about my work when I am face to face with people. I imagine most writers are introverts, as I am. After all, that is the nature of writing. We tend to be great at expressing ourselves through the written word because we are more internal thinkers. If we were extroverts, we probably wouldn’t take the time to write it down, but would just blurt it all out verbally. Of course, I know there are exceptions, but you get my point, right? So I need to get more extroverts on my side.

When I published my first book, Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages, on Kindle 2 1/2 years ago, using the free giveaway option was a great way to get a book noticed, get readers, get reviews, and get more sales. I tried this a few times more recently and didn’t notice any new traffic or increase in sales. I certainly got no new reviews from it. Why not? So many authors are just giving it away now in the same desperation I had in getting noticed, that even in that, we get lost in the shuffle.

I have been published exclusively through Amazon in order to take advantage of the KDP benefits such as the free giveaways and the countdown deals, but I have come to realize that if I’m going to get lost in the shuffle anyway, perhaps I just need to get into more shuffles.

Every 90 days, my books were set to auto-renew into KDP, but I was able to recently rescue book 2 from the exclusivity trap. Book 1 will linger there until mid-April. I have now made book 2 available through Smashwords and Nook as well as Amazon, and book 1 will join as soon as it can. It’s a bit awkward to only be able to offer the second book in a series through these two new formats, but I have hopes of more shuffles.

 

I’m a Writer, Not a Conversationalist

Confession: I am an introvert, as I imagine the majority of writers must be. This makes the tasks of self-promoting, public speaking, and the ever-dreaded networking nearly insurmountable for me. While an extrovert views a room full of strangers as a room full of potential friends, I use the spy skills I’ve acquired from watching Alias and all the Jason Bourne movies to scope out all the escape routes. Alas, I am not as agile and quick to escape as Sydney and Jason; thus, I usually find myself stuck in awkward small-talk. I despise small-talk. It’s so…small… and insignificant. I only want to exchange verbal words that have meaning. And don’t get me started on having to talk about myself to strangers.

All of this is to express to my readers the fear and anxiety I felt going into the huge book signing and author event I was part of on Saturday. There were around fifty authors and random people coming into the Veterans Memorial Library in St. Cloud, Florida that day. I felt like part of an assembly line, or worse, part of a speed-dating event. Authors were lined up at tables with our books, business cards, and shining smiles on display. Potential readers journeyed from table to table, judging our books by their covers, occasionally asking us questions about ourselves and our books. Whenever I had the chance to talk, I felt like I was vomiting incoherent strings of words.

Yet, I felt a value in all of the torture.  It was a chance to be seen, to tell about Drew, my dear protagonist/me, and to see what other authors do. We all had a chance to learn from each other, spanning across the genres. Yes, this was a valuable experience, even if it made me feel as out of place as an adult at a Justin Bieber concert.

I also just gained access to my interview from the event. 

Elle Klass As Snow Falls Tour 2014

as snow falls banner

Elle Klass is on tour, and she’s stopping here today!

(Be sure to enter to win a free autographed copy at the bottom of the post)

Elle Klass Bio:

lisa hair

Elle was born into this world in Redwood City, California and spent her childhood growing up in the fabulous San Francisco Bay Area. She is an avid San Francisco Forty Niners fan. She has raised two beautiful daughters, and currently resides in Florida. For fun she reads, spends time at the beach, travels, and enjoys time with her favorite friends, and family. She is a night-owl known to be a hermit during rainy days, as she has a love for sun, and is mostly found poolside over the hot, humid summer months.

As Snow Falls

snow falls

It is the 20th century in California and the main character, a woman, has lived her life to the fullest. Nestled in her favorite spot during a snow storm she recalls the events of her life from her earliest memories of resisting birth and losing that futile battle to finding her true love and their beautiful family. There are monkey wrenches thrown in at every turn as she struggles to find her place; demonic teachers, cliquish students, her nightmare job, a love lost, and an earthquake that threatens her family. Life continues to dismay her until she can’t take it anymore and sets off on a journey. She is a lost soul with no destination, a wandering heart until something happens, something so incredible she could have never imagined it! Through her harrowing and dark story she finds light, justice and true love. She is a humble and lovable character who is quite ordinarily extraordinary. Her story is anyone’s story.

Excerpt:

Jacob had grown into a very handsome young man. The girls adored him. He was quite a lady’s man from an early age. Having an older sister, he was used to the attention he received from her and her friends. They always thought he was adorable, and they mooned all over him. When he was twelve, one of Natalie’s friends, a cute blond girl with bright blue eyes, fair skin, and rosy cheeks, had the biggest crush on him. He had a crush on her as well. He wasn’t shy around girls at all, and when they flirted with him he flirted back. Anyway, Nikki found him and the girl kissing in the backyard one Saturday afternoon. As Reese tells it, Nikki went white as a sheet, her eyes rolled up into her head, and she almost fainted. He had to catch her to keep her from hitting the ground. He thought it was hilarious, but Nikki kept a very close eye on Jacob after that. I don’t think she let him out of her sight for more than thirty seconds at a time. He was a very good-looking boy and charming, and the girls couldn’t keep their hands off him. They chased him everywhere. I knew one day, when he found the right girl, she wouldn’t be chasing him. He would be chasing her.
 
My simple 5-star review for As Snow Falls:

Enjoyable. Relatable. Romantic.
As one woman looks back over the events and people of her life, the reader is made aware of the importance of love, relationships, and family. It’s interesting to see how the characters and events connect, and it is this connectivity that shows a greater plan. The story is enjoyable, relatable, and romantic- a good sort of sentimental.

Click below for a chance to win in Elle’s Rafflecopter Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Buying links:

lisaAmazon- http://www.amazon.com/As-Snow-Falls-Elle-Klass/dp/1482779706

Barnes and Noble- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/as-snow-falls-elle-klass/1116394702?ean=9781482779707

Smashwords.com- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/345088

Youtube Trailer- http://youtu.be/VHm5FX2mqWg

Social media links-

http://thetroubledoyster.blogspot.com/

http://elleklass.weebly.com/

https://twitter.com/ElleKlass

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7216745.Elle_Klass

https://www.facebook.com/ElleKlass

Aint too Proud to Beg Book Blog Tour DAY SIX

This is my final stop on my blog tour.  Thank you to Willow’s Author Love Blog for hosting me for my final day and many thanks to all the great bloggers who allowed me to “stop by” to promote my new release.

http://willowsauthorlove.blogspot.com/2014/06/terri-klaes-harper-blog-tour.html

The Best Intentions versus Follow Through

Sometimes I avoid honesty and give vague responses when asked specifics.  I’m going to use brutal honesty this time, embarrassing and sad as it is.

“How’s the book launch going?” I’ve heard (or had it messaged to me) several times since last Friday.  My responses have ranged from, “Hard to tell yet,” to “Could be a bit better.”

Lies!

It’s not hard to tell when books are sold on Kindle or CreateSpace (both part of Amazon).  I can look it up in almost real time.  I just didn’t want to believe the results myself, let alone admit to anyone else how much my brand new baby book is not selling. One of the most puzzling things is that my first book, which nobody even knew about until after I launched it, did slightly better than this one, the one people were excited and supportive about…until I launched it.

Of course, that’s not quite fair.  People are still excited and supportive, all the way to the point before purchase.

I have sold exactly 20 books right now.  Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate those 20 sales.  I truly do.  And I’ll appreciate them even more if the buyers read and review them on Amazon and Goodreads.   I guess I had just set my sights higher for this book and I’ve put so much in to not only the writing and editing, but also the promotion, which is the hardest part.

I never wanted to be the whiny baby about my book sales, at least not publicly.  I usually keep a smile about it, and maybe crack jokes, even if I’m kicking my feet and throwing a tantrum on the inside.  I’m not an all caps kind of girl, so this must be important:

THIS IS NOT A PITY PARTY. IT’S AN AWARENESS INTERVENTION.

Yes, I’m feeling down about my book not hitting number one overnight.  Actually, my personal goal was 100 sales on my opening weekend.  What can I say? I’ve learned to set my goals often higher than a reasonable result should be expected.  But with the support I was feeling on the way into the launch, it seemed reasonable. Something went wrong.  Maybe a few things went wrong.

My theories:

1) People generally do have the best intentions, but may lack follow through.  Life is full of distractions, and we’re surrounded by life on a daily basis.  I believe with all my heart that there are several people who tell themselves when they see something that reminds them about my book, “Oh, yeah, I want to get that.” And they really do want to, but then life happens and they simply forget.

2) People just assume the book is doing fine.  Unless you have gone through promoting a book yourself, it’s unlikely you would really comprehend how much work and how hard it is.

3) People tell themselves they’ll do it later. Because of number 1. Or maybe they are reading other books and decide they’ll get mine when they’re ready.  That’s what I would probably do because I already have so many books I want to read.

4) People want to be supportive because they think it’s really cool that I wrote two books now, but maybe the book content just is not appealing.  Not everyone is cut out for reading about a teenage girl, after all.

My solutions to the theories:

1) This is the hard one.  Write it down on a to do list or something.  It’s actually super easy to do just about any time because you can order from home, right from your computer, at any time of the day or night, and it hardly takes up any time.

2) It doesn’t matter how well-written and witty my book is.  If people don’t know it exists, they cannot buy/read it.  I need everyone I know to be part of my marketing team. Word of mouth recommendations are huge!

3) I appreciate that people who love to read are generally in the middle of one, two, or ten books at once already.  It can become overwhelming.  I would ask that if you know you want to read it at some point to go ahead and make the purchase now.  The better my book performs in sales right now, the better the chance I can keep the momentum rolling longer.  Then help me out with a review once you get a chance to read it.

4) I could argue that the book is entertaining no matter who you are, because I believe anyone who has ever experienced being a freshman or who lived during the early ’90s can relate, which is true, but some people just aren’t going to believe me.  That’s fine, but you know people who would enjoy it.  If you’re not going to read it, pass the word on to others, or buy it a gift form someone.

I’m not going to lose my passion and optimism.  My book is good and I believe in it.  I think once people read it, they’ll feel compelled to tell others.  I just need to get it into some hands for that to happen. I’m grateful for the people who have bought my book and those who are spreading the word.  Please don’t stop. I need you.

 

selling books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover Reveal (ooh’s and ahh’s here, please)

Drumroll… *insert horrible noises made by the Griswolds in Christmas Vacation here*

 

Drew's new cover.  Judge away.

Drew’s new cover. Judge away.

 

When Sydney Schake, the cover’s wonderful artist, and I brainstormed the original book’s cover for Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages and I then saw her interpretation, I was thrilled.  The second book’s cover has pleased me every bit as much, and I owe her my thanks and gratitude.  She is also threatening to continue making some changes (artists!), so this may not be the final version, but I like it.

I wanted the feel of the covers to be similar since this is now a book series. They had to match each other, yet reflect the personality of each book as a separate entity.  Once again, it models the paper bag book covers that were so common in the days when I was Drew’s age. The doodles, scribbles, and scrawls take me back to that time and each is somehow featured through words within the book’s pages.

Having this artwork brings me that much closer to the release of Drew’s freshman, or “Fresh meat” year. I’m excited to share.

The book is set to release May 30 through Amazon as both an ebook, and trade paperback. I’m just finalizng the details now.

My Book Series is Going through Puberty

The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest is dedicated to those who write for children and teens, so I did my ill-coordinated happy dance when it arrived and jumped right in.  According to what I read, I’m right on the mark where I need to be, and since Writer’s Digest says I’m doing well, I’m certain others will soon figure this out about me too, and I’ll become a rich indie author.

Ok, but I am where I need to be, I think.

I felt like my book was homeless when I finished it, which is part of why I decided to forgo all the jumping through hoops in search of an agent who would then search for a publisher.  I figured my story didn’t really fit anywhere well, so it would have to do as I have always done, and non-conform, see who might pick up on it anyway.  But as it turns out, my book does fit as a piece of Middle-Grade literature.  Between that and Young Adult fiction, my story Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages falls into the middle, Middle-Grade that is. Yet somehow most of the readers I know of have been adults, and not necessarily all even female.  I guess I’ve told a timeless, possibly genderless, story. We’ve all gone through the tortures of middle school, right?  Also, I don’t often get feedback from that age group because they don’t really do that. I need to enlist the gatekeepers, their parents, teachers, aunts… My book fills the criteria properly, but I still need to reach them.

But even after checking on my word count and the appropriateness of my characters and content, I felt pleased.  But what of my soon-to-be-released sequel?  My middle schooler protagonist is moving up to high school, my word count is increasing, and some more serious issues will arise, though Drew always tries to keep it light.  So, now my series is moving into the Young Adult world. Will that make it hard to categorize my series? It’s moving from one age group to another.  I guess I hoped my readers could grow along with Drew, but is it an awkward change? Is my book series going through puberty?  Is that even allowed?  J.K. Rowling got away with it as everyone read about Harry and his buddies as they grew up.  This worked well for her, so here’s hoping (I would cross my fingers, but I already type slowly)

I plan to launch my sequel at the end of May.  I’m both excited and want to throw up.  I had no idea what I was doing the first time I self published my book, but now I’ve done a little more research and publicity, though all the free kind. Last time, I put the book on Kindle and then started telling people about it here and there.  This time I’m planning to shout it from as many rooftops (social media) as possible ahead of time, and to enlist my friends and fans to help.

I’m proud of my sequel.  My writing and content have matured and it’s more polished. I also think Drew, my semi-autobiographical protagonist, is a fun, interesting character.  In the same Writer’s Digest issue, I also read an article by Jacquelyn Mitchard on “Standout Series Characters” and I think Drew fits this concept:

“One of the most important characteristics of a character who’ll become part of a teen or a kid’s life for several years has a simple, relatable likability.”

Of course, I also read this gem about the fine balance of writing a sequel, a tedious task:

“One of the most difficult things in the word world is to write the second book in a series.  The challenge for a good writer is finding the balance– appealing to the reader who’s meeting these characters for the first time and making sure the reader who knows the character already isn’t utterly bored.”

I think I got it right, and soon readers will be able to confirm this for me.

 

Mommy, Where do Free Books Come from? or How to Help Feed an Indie Author

When an author and words love each other, they create a book. But a free book comes from a special place.

It’s trite, but it’s true.  Nothing in life is free.  Book giveaways are a way for authors to promote their books and there is an etiquette for it.  There is a tacit agreement when you accept a freebie book in a giveaway that you will help out that author. You see, in all honesty, we are hoping that the free book recipients will be appreciative of our giving up our precious work for absolutely nothing by reciprocating in the form of a review or word of mouth advertising. If you receive a free book from us, we get nothing for it unless you help us get the word out about our works. We hope you love it so much you want to tell everyone you know about it, and then they will tell their friends and family about it, who will then tell everyone they know about it… You see the pattern, so that’s enough of that.  The point is, word of mouth and reviews can grow and spread exponentially, especially with social media, unless you keep quiet about it, in which case, the possible momentum of a great (or even mildly enjoyable) book dies with you.

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Consider this: A few months back, my husband and I and a friend of ours were out shopping and beginning to consider a place to grab some dinner. We just happened to walk past a restaurant that was doing a practice, pre-opening night and they invited us in for a free meal.  The food was amazing and experience and atmosphere was impressive, so we told everyone by posting on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  By the restaurant (MShack at St. John’s Town Center in Jacksonville, FL) hosting this free dinner night they got free advertising and were able to practice making and serving the food, as well as get feedback from us and the other lucky free dinner recipients that evening.  Written reviews of free books do the same thing as they not only spread the word and inform those searching for a good book that this is one to take a chance on, but the author also gets to read some feedback.

review an author

Tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, the girl ringing up your groceries. Write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or basically any social media outlet you choose.

Do you know many authors?  The majority of us are not rich off our royalties.  In fact, the number of authors able to live off the income from their books alone is minute, as one grain of sand on the beach or a single screaming girl at a One Direction concert.

We can write our hearts out and produce a masterpiece, but unless someone voices to another how extraordinary the book is, nobody else will ever know and it will die in obscurity.

So help a brother or sister out!  Read it. Review it. Let the author know how you feel.

If you’re interested in helping this starving artist click here.

No Publicity is Bad Publicity: Mixed Reviews

I cannot believe I’m putting this out there, drawing attention to it.  Part of me wants to sweep it away under the dusty bed skirt where the broom and vacuum don’t even reach- but it would still be there.

The unthinkable has happened.  Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages got a review of 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  My first C on a mostly A report card. Gasp! (Thankfully, my Amazon rating is still excellent)

5 stars

This was a reminder of what I told myself before I released the book, yet I had forgotten.  You cannot please all the people all the time and this world is made up of people of all different opinions and preferences.  It was always only a matter of time before it happened, especially once my readership began to grow. I should be thankful for that part.

I know I had much to learn from the experience of publishing this book.  I was totally on my own when I did it and really a bit clueless.  I’ve learned much since then that will help me improve for the next, and criticism has to be a helpful part of the growing experience.  We learn from mistakes, right?

Most of the issues mentioned by the reviewer were merely matter of opinion.  She didn’t connect with my character or like some of my choices in style, seemingly thinking I had done them by mistake when I had been quite purposeful.  Many adults have read my book and enjoyed the nostalgia factor, but my true target has always been tweens, so if an adult didn’t connect with Drew, I can live with that.  My reviewer didn’t like that the book seemed like short stories all tied together, but I told the story in vignettes on purpose to follow the fashion of a memoir, since that’s what the title says it is (though a fictional one).  All this means is this particular person just didn’t connect with the book.  Not everybody will.  I knew it would happen eventually.  Not everyone likes chocolate or dogs either, and though I cannot fathom it, I accept it.

The funny irony about this particular review is that it came from someone who won my book as a giveaway I did in order to call some attention back to the book on Goodreads while I prepare to release the next installment. I’m glad winning the book didn’t make my reviewer feel obligated to give a five star review if she didn’t believe in it though. Seriously, I can respect that, but I do have two genuine complaints that I hope anyone else planning to review any author’s book will keep in mind:

1) A 3 star review isn’t bad because it keeps the ratings well-rounded and shows people are being honest; however, if you give someone a review over one or two stars, instead of only highlighting what you do not like about the book, try to find a few positive things to say as well.

2) It was mentioned that there were errors in grammar and such, but if there were it was likely done purposefully (the title alone is incorrect).  In the early editions of the book I did find a few typos that horrified me, but I (and others) went back though it meticulously in various formats so as not to miss anything. That is the former English teacher in me coming out. I cannot say it is 100% perfect, but at least 98%.

My last bit of advice today is to other authors out there.  Use my lesson to learn to also accept what you cannot change.  Even if I rewrote the issues this reader did not like, there would always be someone else out there who wouldn’t like it.  Not everyone will love your book, but do you love it?