Growing Pains…Freelance Writers Wanted? Let’s Give It A Shot!

I recently signed up for a site that trains new writers to become freelance writers. I figure my writing career will take a while. Especially since I am not a celebrity, nor do I have the tools to become the next number one best selling author tomorrow.

I AM HUNGRY AND POOR!!!

I don’t mind, I love writing and enduring everything that comes with all of these new experiences. I hear there is no such thing as a TRUE starving artist…I laugh at that comment. I grew up in the nineties… the Kurt Cobain era. The silliness of the greatest icon of his time complaining of his stardom. I want to complain about being rich and famous. Don’t we all?

 

sad money GIF by ZDI talents
Too much money!!

I am realistic. I will not make money to live on my writing…not right away. Hopefully one day. I am learning quick, and I will learn more. Until I find the right formula, I need to do what I can.

 

I will fall but get back up. I know this. Others have no faith, but I have strength and passion in myself.

I signed up for this freelance opportunity which sounds ridiculous to some, but I have already learned that I will not make much money out of this either. I have even more to learn with that. It might just be a distraction from my original goal. I need to refocus myself. If you are the type that is organized and can set up times for each task, then complete them (honestly), then maybe freelance AND writing on the side is for you. I am not experienced enough to do all at once.

BABY STEPS!!!

I am keeping the program I signed up for. Why? Because the program IS helping my writing skills when it comes to blogging and scheduling. It is showing me what type of jobs are out there. Possibly in the coming future when I get more experienced (at least a month into this career path), I can say “Hey, you know what? Maybe I’ll try it out!”

wonder woman falling GIF by LEGO

And when I fall, it’ll be okay. I will get back up. Like I always do. I will have learned my lesson. I will be like Wonder Woman; I know I can’t fly, but I can use my invisible plane (whatever that means, right now I don’t know).

I will keep writing my books, I will focus on that. I will market them and hope I make more than fifty bucks a month. That would be nice. Maybe I will get a job at another diner, those customers make AWESOME characters for books. mr bean eating GIF

I know how to achieve my happiness and success. I will do exactly what the famous WCW said:

“If they give you lined paper, write the other way.”
― William Carlos Williams

Beautiful Tears by David Duane Kummer

I just finished reading this short story by David Duane Kummer. According to him, it is out of his genre; partly why I wanted to read it. It was a nice quick read, another reason why I chose this piece. His books have great reviews on Amazon. His short stories are free to download, if not less than $3.00.

This particular one was free. I will be reading more of Kummer’s short stories to get a feel of his writing. In the meantime, I would like to hear from you, the readers of this post, what you think of his writing. Did you enjoy this story? Did he keep your interest throughout the story? How was the dialogue? Did it seem genuine for the age of each character?

Growing Pains…Trying to Advance to the Next Level

I thought I was ready. I felt prepared. I was under the impression I could move on from beginner’s to novice level in some of my tactics. My skills are still too green. I read about and educate myself on many new exciting DIY tricks, but I am not quite there.

I have Hootsuite, an app that gives me room to schedule my tweets, my Facebook posts, and my Google+ posts. I could use it for more apps but right now I thought those three were enough. I thought I was using correctly. I was wrong. I have the wrong handle accepting my tweets. I have my page on Facebook accepting my posts but not my group.

Another scheduling mishap I noticed was WordPress. I scheduled multiple works for November. I have not received any likes or followers since I scheduled them. I felt that was odd. I have no drafts so I thought the previous blogs were sent. I have no idea what happened to my posts.

Hhhhmmmm….I’m curious where I went wrong on these. I should check my trash. It’s a shame, I was gaining momentum with followers and likes on my posts (not many, but for a newbie, it was nice to see).

Another next level mishap, not segmenting my email list. Okay, let me explain. You have your giveaways from your book (let’s use mine so we don’t get confused). “Wendy’s Song” is given away for free as long as people sign up on the email list. This information goes to Mailchimp (my email subscriber app that helps keep the names and addresses for me). Let’s say I have another person that found “John’s Journey” and signed up from buying that book. I have that information as well.mailchimp monkey

A person that signed up because of the free giveaway is less likely to be a reader than the one that bought my book and signed up for my reader magnet after the fact. I need to ‘segment’ (separate) these lists and try to weed out the ones who don’t reply to my future emails.

I have read some advice but so far, nothing I have done has worked. I am not sure if it is my approach or if it is too early. I have little patience (we all know this). I can admit I’m a bull in a china shop when it comes to subtlety. I am an acquired taste, like beer. I haven’t seen many replies coming from my readers for a while.

So, how do I hustle these people into becoming my readers? I guess I can’t. I did receive a polite email from one of them. I looked in my emails, I was SO EXCITED! Then, reality hit me. It said: I don’t know how you got my email address but I have never read any of your books. Please take me off your list. Thank you.

Oh my, I thought. There goes my beautiful day. I had a few unsubscribes before, twenty or so up until today. I was upset that this person just didn’t hit the unsubscribe button. I don’t go around looking for unfamiliar email subscribers. That costs money and is a waste of my time. Not that I need to explain to this person. They already made me want to jump off a cliff.

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I have about one hundred twenty subscribers on my list, not counting the other site that I need to import. I will do that tomorrow right before I send my next video.

I try and send video messages on Fridays called “Forbidden Fridays” (my series is called Regrettable & Forbidden). I am encouraging my readers to engage on my Facebook and Twitter accounts with ‘forbidden phrases’ and ‘regrettable selfies.’ I am offering a free forbidden tee for the winner of the best and worst of both.

Tomorrow I will announce the winner of the selfie. I will do this on Facebook Live (another new thing I am trying out). I am also rerunning the contest for a coffee mug of their choice up until the tenth of December. I hope they will get it on time for the holidays. Lord knows with online shopping, I don’t want to promise anything out of my control.

Anyways, I noticed my little engagement may have to do with my approach. I added Snapchat to my phone. I have been placing bizzare pics on to my Facebook group to encourage others to participate. I was adding ridiculous posts before but now it looks as though a few of my friends are having more fun and enjoying the game.

Here are a few of the selfies I posted:

 

I don’t comment about the tee shirt anymore. I just post something up and say hello. I don’t want to saturate my readers with the contest. If they weren’t willing to participate before, they aren’t going to now. I still want them to engage and have fun, even if a free tee or mug is available to them for doing nothing but adding a selfie or commenting with a silly phrase.

I made the rookie mistake of sounding like a salesperson instead of trying to just play a game. I will comment tomorrow and state who won. Then I will say the contest is starting over for a coffee mug. Then add that once to social media. After that, only fun and hello, hahaha, good night (if I feel like saying goodnight).

Less salesy is getting more attention. I knew this but I didn’t realize I was doing wrong.

 

The third and final mistake I will discuss today (I can keep going but we all have things to do), is Audible books. I will just say this, wait until you have the money and the research is in place.

I don’t have the funds for a $200 an hour of a finished product like everyone says. That is the average rate, supposedly. I heard a few auditions and offered $75 per finished hour and I felt that was reasonable. My books are easy reads and novelettes.

I heard a great voice for the first book. The woman sent me a piece based on the script and I accepted. Then she turned me down. She stated she had other things and didn’t want to be spread so thin. Okay, fine with me but then don’t do the second audition. Even if there were other things wrong with the book don’t do it. I am sure there may be other issues if you read further. Possibly the language (I warned the producer), or the content. Maybe the writing isn’t her style. I don’t know but don’t start it, waste both of our time and then say no.

The second book was also in the auditions. I wanted to hear it in a male voice. I listened to a male audition and I loved him. His fifteen-minute piece sounded choppy, as if he stopped at each line, not pausing for a comma or period. It was strange. I gave feedback not sure if he has fixed it. How could someone be great for an audition then not know where a comma or period is in a simple book?

I am worried. I will find out soon enough.

I went to another company to check out other producers/ narrators. I heard a woman for my third book.

Checking out voices is free. I don’t have the money to invest right now but searching for someone so I know how much to save up for is what I am doing at the moment.

I think she could be a good fit for my third book, I might hire her for the first and fourth as well. I can keep it consistent. I looked at the price I would have to pay. $150 per finished hour. That would mean I need to shell out $200 dollars per book. I have to save $600 for her alone. That is on the cheap side, and who knows if she would say yes or even be a good fit after the fifteen-minute audition.

I think the audible books are a great idea to find a new audience but I see why there aren’t as many out there as e-books. This is an expensive and laboring task.

I tried to produce my own audible. Believe me when I tell you it will be easier to save up the money for the other narrators. It was a disaster.

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It took me a half hour to get the ‘name of author,’ ‘title of book,’ and ‘name of narrator’ correct and loud/soft enough in the microphone. After that was complete, I attempted (I use that word loosely) to read the first chapter in Wendy’s Song. This took me about an hour and a half. Mind you, this story is a total of 70 pages if reading the print version of a 5×8 paperback. An average reader could finish it in two hours if uninterrupted.

As I read the first chapter, I heard myself cough. I accidentally burped at one point (probably from all the water), I skipped lines, I reread lines, I started an accent I never had before. You name it I probably did it.

Once I got through the fiasco of chapter one, I look onto the recording. It was on pause. That’s it. I’m done. Let’s look up how to hire someone.

walk human trafficking
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As I am learning and growing in this business, I look back and think “I had it so easy in the beginning. Why didn’t I just stick with the little things? Why am I branching out?”

Then I see how much I know now and how little I knew then and laugh at that thought. I was TERRIBLE and ignorant back then. I am going in the right direction, I need to just slow down a bit before I smack into a tree or wall.

Every level will have its issues. I am happy to be on the verge of leveling up. Soon I will be laughing at these posts like you are now and have my own personal producer to read my two-hour novelettes while I scamper around the world wasting my day away.

It’s nice to dream.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. - Thomas A. Edison

Have a fabulous day newbies. Happy writing!

Growing Pains…Staying Active/ In Shape

The little time I have been writing and blogging have been taking a toll on my body. I noticed a few ( I lied, more than a few) pounds added to my belly and other areas. Even some of my comfy pajamas and sweatpants are becoming less comfortable. My favorite ‘extra large’ sweatshirt is not so extra anymore.

I was talking to one of my friends about this subject last week and she has the same issue. We were unhappy about winter coming but thankful we could hide our bodies for the next few months to do something about it (spoiler alert, I don’t have a plan to stop eating).

Ironically, I found a few author emails on the subject. One really struck a chord with me. The email discussed back pain and aches while writing too long. I write in an odd position. I lie on my belly in bed. My laptop is on a table and, usually, I have my feet propped up on a wall. I live in a small apartment so it may be tough to imagine my position, so here it is:

my position writing My feet look so far away! Oh well, that’s how my camera phone works I guess. Anyway, writing in this position for hours at a time really does a number on your neck and back. Sometimes I get up for a cup of coffee and I can’t stand up straight.

This is why the email from the guru author was so important to me. He discussed running and stretching every day. This is a great point. He mentioned that pain does no good for writing. I agree. Pain is a distraction. I have had it and now I am gaining weight from not moving for hours at a time.

If you aren’t a runner that’s fine. Yoga or a light walk to the convenience store would do wonders. Moving the body helps clear your mind and stretches the muscles so you become a better writer. I know I write so much more and I get more done after a workout.

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Another thing I realized was my diet. I lived off of delivery during my first couple of months in writing professionally (I’m aware it’s only been five months). I was always tired and lightheaded thinking it was my intensity and commitment. Well, last month or so I change from delivery to making sure I go to the store and buy groceries.

close up cookies delicious dessert
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I force myself to get healthier food. I am not saying I am a health nut, I am far from it. I still need to have my cookies and the occcasional churro. What I am saying is living off of garbage food is not good for the writing process.

Writing great books is in the details. Not just the details of your manuscript but also in the details of how we live our lives. We need sleep, we need breaks, we need to move around and we need a vegetable once in a while. I don’t know about you, but I know I need a cookie at least once a week. We need to keep our wits about us (unless madness is your muse, then stick with that).

I tried to stick with schedules in the past. They don’t work, I use lists. I am going to add movement to my list. Something like a walk to my gas station to buy some cookies or coffee. A quick workout when I have writer’s block would be great. My endorphins or anger at the burn could get me some good material. You never know.

Learning is a process, I learned this the old fashioned way with a little help from an email. I love how the internet can read my mind. Good luck newbies, stay fabulous and keep moving!

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. - Colin Powell

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

 

Growing Pains…Learning New Vocabulary

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Once again I was cleaning out my overflowing incoming emails (over 500) and came across another interesting subject: publishing vocabulary. I recall months ago I posted a similar blog. I have learned more terms since then. I am lost on others and some in this email I am confused about to this day.

The email gave the terms but did not give an explanation, nor a definition. The person wanted me to sign up for an educational course. I Googled definition of… If you would like more of an explanation, you could Google or research more for yourself. It’s not that serious. Some of these terms I copied and pasted, others I paraphrased. They are all based on Google definitions.

ARC- (Advanced Reader Copy) an author gives a copy of their book to readers prepublication usually for reviewers and test readers. These test readers can also check for last second typos in the books, give feedback to the author, and when it is out in publication, they are the first to give reviews.
Galley- is an advanced copy or uncorrected proof of a first edition book (similar to ARC) created by the publisher and given to individuals that are important to the author’s book launch.
Netgalley– a digital website that focuses on digital galley proofs to professional readers.
CTA- Call To Action- an immediate response, an example would be ‘click that button NOW’ 
Back matter– index or appendix, any information in the book that follows the main body in the book (side note: I was in a course that said to place the ISBN in the back of the book, some books require ISBN for ebooks so when you have it in the ‘back matter’ your free sample will show more of your writing). 
Offset- Found on Google: Posted by Margaret Rouse. Offset printing, also called offset lithography, is a method of mass-production printing in which the images on metal plates are transferred (offset) to rubber blankets or rollers and then to the print media.
POD-Print On Demand- prints books based on the number of orders. If a reader ordered ten prints of your book, Amazon (or another book company) would print the author’s book ten times and ship it to you.
OOP– Object Oriented ProgrammingObject-Oriented Programming. A programming paradigm that uses objects to design applications and computer programs. It utilizes several techniques from previously established paradigms, including inheritance, modularity, polymorphism, and encapsulation. (I copied this one because I’m still confused about the definition)
Metadata- at the most basic, metadata of a book would be the name of the author, title of the book, and ISBN. Readers are able to find the book online based on how a site (Amazon, Google, etc.) uses the book’s information.
Spine- the outside edge where the pages are bound
Trim The final size of the pages after the excess is cut off.
Bleed- when an image runs beyond the margins of the page. 
LOC-Library of Congress- if you would like to add your book to the library database, LOC and other terms should be further researched. CIP data, for instance.

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These terms are found on Google and other sites. They are very easy to research. I felt this was a good start for everyone who is confused. It took me weeks to figure out what ARC was, that term confused me. I love to research and read up but at the time I was busy with other things and just too darn lazy to bother. I finally looked it up and felt silly.

I thought back to my school days and said to myself “context clues, Robyn.” The many times I hear ARC and reviewers or test readers I should have known. But when there are so many terms thrown at a newbie on a weekly basis, context clues are no help. It can be a different language at times.

abc books chalk chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I hope this list is a beginning and it gives you a reason to look up a little bit more on these words. Metadata is important for discoverability. SEO sounds similar to metadata, but it can be very different. It gets confusing depending on who you speak to so doing your own research before you listen to EVERYONE gives you a bit of a heads up. Just my little newbie opinion.

I need to go look at what the heck OOP means. Maybe I should go clear some more of the garbage emails, until next time.

You have to be able to accept failure to get better. - LeBron James

Stay fabulous my newbie friends!

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

 

Growing Pains…Implementing ‘Easy’ Tasks

I am in my dream career. It has been less than six months but I hit the floor running. Many things stayed behind, I was so excited I jumped at all the tasks that were laid out in front of me. At least the ones that I saw.

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I am a bit calmer… okay, more organized. I will never be calmer. I am less ignorant in the duties needed. There are MANY responsibilities for an indie author. We wear many hats. I still realize this months and books later.

The few jobs I thought I had down reasonably well, I don’t. These actions all have layers. They are forever evolving. I love to learn and grow but there is so much, overwhelm kicks in on a daily basis.

I decided to implement one or two of the ‘autopilot’ tasks to keep my jobs at a minimum and exposure potentially maximized. I’m beginning to realize the word ‘autopilot’ should be banned.

My children’s books’ illustrations are on threadless.com. I use the site as an advertisement. I buy my friends’ children tee shirts with Silly Sally and Alex (characters from my kid books). I added a collection from my series The Regrettable & Forbidden to it the other day (my novelette series).

Why not? I have a cute young guy on one cover, I have phrases to help with my email list and it will go well with the ‘autopilot’ idea. I had no idea how long it took to add. Not to mention, I spent money buying a shirt or two. Sure, I get free shipping and a discount, but I think I spend more money than I will make.

Oh, and if any of you read my other post about the videos for my emails…I still can’t get my ‘forbidden fridays’ video fixed. I think I am going to have to get creative, show an awful version and add text stating “what’s your worst video/ selfie?”

opened mouth black haired boy in gray full zip jacket standing on grass field taking selfie
Photo by Darcy Lawrey on Pexels.com

That might be the best way to go. My email list keeps growing. I love my growth. I am enjoying that I’m learning so much in such a little amount of time. Now if my talent in marketing could catch up with everything else.

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I feel like the sixth grader that grew six inches in one summer. She is starting to look like a teenager but walks into walls and trips on her own feet every five steps.  That is my impatience talking. I will get there. We all survived puberty. I am growing and learning. This is my self-publishing childhood and I should embrace it.

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As for me not calming down, I am doing something that I’ve read is a no-no in the industry. I am writing two books at once. Technically, I am letting my book breathe for a minute before the next edit. While this is going on, I am working on an MG interactive fiction.

I had grand ideas about this interactive fiction story. Holy Cow! This story is going to take a lot longer than I anticipated. I have the organization, so far. Let’s wait and see how long that goes.

I remember reading a few of the interactive fiction stories when I was young. In case you’re not familiar with the term, they were called “Choose Your Own Adventure.”

Essentially it is a book that gives choices to the reader. A quick example would be: Johnny is walking down a path. He notices a creepy old house with the door ajar. What does Johnny do?

page 31– he walks through the door

page 42– he runs into the forest

Well, this is basic, but you get the idea. Considering the reader has choices throughout the book, the author needs to create a variety of scenarios for one story. This means my typically shorter versions of a story will be tripled (or larger) in size.

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They are a lot of fun to create and read. I am having fun but I need to keep organized. As of now, I have postcards paperclipped together with post-it notes all over the place. I keep my phone on silent and make sure I have nothing to do the days I am writing the story.

The pages need to be precise, I am already off on my document. One issue that I am sure will be huge during formatting.

I have been reading “Writing Interactive Fiction” by Deb Potter. It has been helpful, for the most part. If you’re considering writing this type of genre, I suggest you check this book out. I am attempting to write a hard copy version as of right now but Potter discusses writing an ebook version.

Well, I need to get back to business. I have so much to do. Only three tasks on my list but you know they will take me all week to complete. The life of a newbie, what can I say.

Have a fabulous day and keep on it, we got this!

 

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

 

opened mouth black haired boy in gray full zip jacket standing on grass field taking selfie

Growing Pains…Crowdfunding for Authors?

I am reading my emails and I come across one from Reedsy. The title is “How to crowdfund your way to success.”

Personally, I have never heard the term, crowdfunding. I typically delete multiple emails that I find uninteresting but this one I wanted to find out more. I opened the email. Oh my goodness!

Crowdfunding is basically a go fund me. In this case, an author requests investors for writing a successful book. The money can be used for an editor, cover design, formatting, advertising, etc. (according to the email).

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The email also mentioned when you ask for money in a go fund me, you get email addresses. This adds to your email list of readers/ fans. I have never donated to a go fund me site. Are the people aware they are attached to the author’s reader’s list?

I will be honest here, I do not think this is a way to go (for me). In no way do I see this as something I feel comfortable doing. Then again, according to the article I linked below, it is a new concept that is taking off.

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The article and the email both agree that crowdfunding is a way of pre-selling your book and growing your email list. A primary argument that the article loves to make is, readers love to be involved in the processI agree with this thinking when it comes to opinions on book covers and test reads. I don’t agree by taking advantage with a go fund me.

I will take the slow and steady route, finding emails from those who read my books I have ALREADY written. I will find my own money, do what I can to pay for my covers, watch videos on the best covers, self-edit before sending it away, and advertise when I can. I may not become a best seller right away with these tactics, but I will feel good that I did it on my own.

A pre-sale launch on a book site is a different story (if you’re wondering how I feel about that). The book is already complete, or close to it. You have the book uploaded to the website and your readers are aware of the date it will be out. The cover and the blurb are on Amazon (or whatever site you choose). You are accountable for the sales, you don’t get that money unless you present a product. It is not a ‘promise’ of a product with the money in hand.

From what I read in this email and the sites that are around, crowdfunding seems to be the new thing so if this is something that you’re interested in, here is an article with sites listed:  The Best Crowdfunding Platforms for Authors.

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness. - Oprah Winfrey

Stay fabulous newbie writers! If anyone has done crowdfunding before, please tell me more, I’m curious to know what I am not understanding and why it is such a common practice.

Robyn Branick

aka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robbie Ellie

 

Growing Pains…How-To & OverWhelm

I have been writing since June 2018. So far, it’s been a fabulous ride and I am grateful and blessed. There are a few things, however, that I need to work on.

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That is why I watch videos and read how-to articles. This information gives me tips on marketing and branding. Most of them seem easy as I am watching/reading. I get excited and try to implement them right away.

I create my to-do list on my whiteboard and get to work. Here’s the issue: the three minutes I think it takes usually takes hours.

Many newbies are told: get an email list!  That is great, I did that after months of trying. I was so focused on getting this list, I didn’t know what to do after I had it. I went to the internet and researched. I saw some tips and then realized, great! Seems easy enough.

The video says, email your readers with a video including a thirty-second welcome message. Tell readers who you are. Offer them an extra incentive if they share your reader magnet to friends. Give them the info of your author’s Facebook page (not the personal page). If the reader does not respond to any of your emails after four attempts, delete them from your list. They are not interested.

Another great tip was to have your readers/ email lists have a contest with them responding to phrases for a tee shirt. If that reader/emailer replies with the best phrase, you use that in your shop. I plan on using it on a tee shirt. Oh, let explain this next step of our how-to market.

I do this with my children’s books but didn’t think to do it for my novelette series: a printify shop for your books. They are free for the author to set up and it takes minutes to download our already made book covers. I created my covers on my own. I have the copyright to my pictures, I used canva.com to design my covers. I own them so there are no issues for me. If you used a graphic designer, you need to find out yourself what the deal is for you.

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The name of my series is called The Regrettable & Forbidden so I created some shirts that say Forbidden Fridays and other shirts that say Regrettable Mondays. I used a quick graphics app for that too. It’s straightforward. I am not sure if anyone will buy them but if they don’t, I didn’t spend money. I just spent a few minutes of my time creating two designs for shirts and uploading a few of my covers for the website.

Now for my email list, I get my readers involved and have a contest. They give me a great phrase and if there’s is the best, I’ll give them a free tee shirt with their phrase on it. It will promote my shop and engage my email list. I am not ‘selling‘ anything to them. Not to mention, you’ll create a better connection with your fan base.

The email engagement should not be more than once a week, according to this video. The readers are also welcome to be on your Facebook page. This you need to be connected to them here more often. A fan that becomes a ‘friend’ is more likely to buy a book. Please don’t hound your personal page. I started to do that when I first started and I’m sure I annoyed the crap out of my friends but they didn’t say anything. They were supportive.

I would like to apologize now, for my friends and family that read my blogs…thank you for your patience.

Okay, this was all great advice. I was CRAZY EXCITED about what I heard in this video. There was more but let’s start out with this little bit first.

I started my attempt at the videos. My first one, I said hello and stared into my phone for ten seconds, forgetting what came next. Granted, the guru mentioned it was okay to stutter, say ‘um’ and ‘uh.’ The videos don’t have to be perfect. They will make us human and it’s probably better if we’re not.

If my mom could predict the video, she would tell everyone I would say “You know what I mean?” fifteen times in thirty seconds. It’s my go-to phrase when I’m nervous.

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I highly doubt my readers want to watch me spaced out for that long. “Hey, my name’s Robyn………”

That won’t work. I deleted that one. The next one was DEFINITELY NOT perfect. It was far from it but I thought maybe it was doable. Nope, forgot to mention to share, forgot to welcome anyone. Delete again. The next one I spaced out and deleted right away.

This video thing is a lot harder than I thought. I started another one. I think I did okay but when I saw the beginning, the picture of me looked like a toddler ready for a meltdown. I don’t want to introduce myself looking like I’m about to cry. I deleted before looking at the rest. I noticed a pattern. I make that toddler face a lot. Videos might not be for me. I knew I was horrible at selfies, but videos are ten times worse!

I decide to set up a Pinterest account. That took a few minutes, not very long. I had one from years ago apparently. I had to create a new password. I want to make a business page but I need to research this first. I’m sure it’s a lot different than Facebook.

So, I look at what time it is. I think it’s only been a half hour from when I completed my ‘education’ on the how-to marketing tips. This has been about three hours.

Where does the time go? I need to set up my timer on my phone because it gets ridiculous at times. I can begin to write a story and next time I look at the time, it’s 8 at night. I’m sure now that the sun goes down earlier that won’t happen as often, but this is absurd.

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I believe that’s why the blog has been written less often. I have the email list, I have been writing my fourth book, and I need to step up my marketing game. Sure, it’s easy as a newbie and you have little to work with.

I see self-publishing as a video game. The first few levels seem easy. You write the book, you publish the book, you think it’s going great but you have no clue about the secret powers you can use on these levels, even though you pass the basics.

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The next few levels are getting harder. You still have no idea what you’re doing. You look online for tips or secret hidden codes. You find out that there are simple ones you could have used all along. Oh crap! That’s fine though, you try them out with these next levels. If you have the opportunity, you go back to those other levels and replay them.

That’s when you can revamp a book cover and a book blurb. You can add the ‘here’s a reader magnet, join my email list!’ at the end of your ebooks. I’m still in the beginner’s levels but at least I’m learning new codes and some super tips.

This is actually a terrible analogy for me. I’m awful at video games.

I’ll give you one other tip that was on the video. It is incredibly interesting but a bit expensive so I can’t use it. I forget what it was called but what you do is buy 15-24 ads on book site newsletters on the same day for 24 hours. It will shoot up your discovery on insane levels like you won’t believe (according to the educational video, don’t take my word for it).

This is the mini version that is out of my budget. I would love to see how well this works for someone so if anyone ever does try this, please contact me afterward and give me your thoughts. I recall with my first book doing one or two ads on the same day and it working well for me. Don’t forget to have that information in the back of the book. That was my one major newbie mistake I will regret for a long time from now.

In case you don’t know what that information is, you should have the thank you for reading and if you’d like…. please visit…then the link to your landing page where they can sign up to your email. Once they sign up, they are sent the book or given a link to click that lets them read the book. Typically you provide a free short story, novelette, novella,(prequel to the book, something related to the book) to get them to sign up to your email list. I know one of the gurus that are big on thrillers give the confidential psychology breakdown of his protagonist. I think that’s a great idea. Honestly, you’re the author so it’s up to you.

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Just remember, as a newbie, we need to focus on so many different things so when we consider how to market we can’t get too crazy. The overwhelm will get to us. I love the psychological breakdown idea but that will take me forever to figure out. I need to research, write, find what half the phsychological words are and how to use them, what papers would be used in the medical field or in that sort of scenario. It would take me weeks, if not months. I have too many other aspects of my career to worry about. I’m better off writing another book and giving away the first book in my series.

I could write a short story prequel, eventually. I may do this once I feel things calmed down.

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Until then, I will stick to what I have. I am beginning to see some ups in my rollercoaster ride. I know I have a fall, twist or turn coming so I am getting prepared and holding on to the bars. That’s the best I can do. I am enjoying it instead of crying and feeling nauseous.

Well, thanks for reading and stay fabulous. Keep with it, newbies. We will get there!

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

Growing Pains… The Self-Editing Process

I completed my fourth book in my novelette series. I have been neglecting this blog. I am sorry. I had trouble trying to find the ‘perfect ending.’ Well, I decided that my stories are not perfect. That’s what makes them awesome. They are raw, dirty, unpredictable and jaw-dropping.

I couldn’t decide on a character and if they were going to be good or evil so I played around with them a few scenes. Then let it come naturally. I did my darndest to plan out this book, at first, but it always turns out I write the way I think. I let it flow and it happens naturally.

When I plan, I tend to write myself into corners and look around aimlessly. If I don’t plan I can crawl out a window or use the back door. Weird analogies but I am hoping you all get it.

I recall hearing the famous quote by Hemingway Write drunk, revise sober.” 

two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer
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Well, I am very uninhibited with my writing. This time was different. I tried to plan. I tried to be sober. It took a little longer until I decided that doesn’t work for me.

My revising and self-editing is another story. This process I need to do many times before I consider giving it up to a professional.

I have Grammarly in my Word Doc so I can pick up some flaws that Word doesn’t see; if I overused a word or if I need a comma. Usually, it’s because I used a comma too many times (I think). Grammarly loves to use commas for the words but, and, so, yet. I was taught these words connect phrases so that you don’t need a comma and Grammarly loves to try and add them. I am always second guessing myself while self-editing.

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I also have Hemingway set up in my laptop but it ruins my formatting if I integrate the document and app. I must have downloaded it wrong. The way I use Hemingway is I have the document open (messed up format) on the app and my original Word (better format) open in another window.

I look at the phrases or sentences they highlight as ‘hard sentences’ or ‘very hard sentences’ and reword them. They also highlight how many adverbs used in the document along with word count. Hemingway tells you your goal to match or stay under.

Weak phrases and words are in both apps. I do my best to reword these. As I am working on the self-editing with these two apps, I see how much I have to learn. I notice I am getting better at grammar but still have a way to go as a professional.

Once I go through these two processes, I read the story again. I make sure I didn’t add to the story or delete an essential section because my grammar was poor. This area is touchy. I wrote it, I read it a few times already, sometimes I can’t remember what is still in the work or in my head.

I give a copy to my mom. She reads it and gives me feedback. She asks me questions or tells me if there’s something missing. If anyone is not afraid of telling me the truth, it is my mother. She is my biggest supporter and can be an honest critic. My mother knows success comes with honest feedback. I consider mothers to be true test readers.

I have others that I can go to. I use them once in a while, but many of my friends and family have little ones to care for, so it is difficult for them to find the time.

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So, I get my feedback. I write down the questions and reread the manuscript. As I read, the story may change again. This means some other areas might change. I should mention here I have a printed copy of the manuscript and three highlighters.

The highlighters are to keep me updated on where and what I changed or what I kept the same. The yellow highlighter is used first. This is used to show where the significant changes are needed. The blue is where the main plot and scenes are. The orange is for the subplots and twists or turns. A pen is used to just cross things out entirely and rewrite in the margins.

After I read the hard copy, I take it and go back to the laptop. Sometimes this is more tedious than the original writing. I think this fourth novelette edit will be no different.

Jerry Jenkins has a 21-part checklist you can download for free. I read over it and if you don’t have any apps that are integrated into your laptops, I suggest you check it out.

Here are four of the suggestions in the checklist:

Deleted that, except when necessary

Omitted needles words

Chosen the simple word over the complicated one. Anywhere I could have simplified, I have.

Deleted the word literally when I actually mean figuratively.

One thing I found interesting is he said to omit overuse of adjectives and adverbs. I agree with this, I see it in my work. I noticed he uses adverbs in his checklist which forced me to recognize how he could have omitted the needless words.

I tend to do something so I need to add this to his list. Tense…I change the tense in my work without realizing. I go from past tense to present, and vice versa.

I would like to omit one from the list. Jenkins mentions using the word ‘said’ as opposed to any other option. I have found that an annoying word while reading if it is there too often. I feel it is not an ‘invisible word’ as many call it.

I know many disagree with me. I had a debate in my free writing class with my professor on this (years ago). I write a lot of dialogue in my stories. Half the book would be the word said (or says) if I did this. I would not want to read my own work if I went with the rule.

Most of the checklist is awesome and I use it. I believe in it. It will make me a better writer. Don’t get me wrong. I suggest you print one out for yourself. check out his website

After all of your self-editing and the checklist, more editing/revising is complete you pay your editor(s) to go to work. I can’t afford to go to multiple people on my stories. I know many go to a content editor, a proofreader, and the others to get the most out of their books.

My accomplishment is one editor. I am happy to afford one. Test readers will be another, thank goodness they are not paid. The ups and downs of newbie writers. Good luck, I see many posts on editing which means many are at that final stage. I hope to see some great stories out there soon!

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. - Colin Powell

Have a great weekend and stay fabulous!

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

 

 

 

Growing Pains…I Have an Email List, What Next?

I have been so focused on the goal of getting an actual email list of readers, I have neglected to figure out what to do with this list. There are so many questions I have:

What do I do with this list?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard
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When do I contact them?

How do I thank them for signing up?

When do I do all of these things?

How do I do ANY of these things?

mailchimp monkeyI have so much to read on e-mail lists. I guess I never thought I would ACTUALLY get anyone to sign up. Maybe I was so focused on getting readers, I wasn’t thinking of the next step.

In any case, I need to step up my game. I have to figure out how to NOT bother these people AND not ignore them. They are signed up because they are interested in my work. That is a compliment. I guess I can officially take my own name off of my list. I probably won’t. I still need to see if I’m sending crazy information or sending something more than once.

I send my other account the test preview but I still need to check four times before I know. I still don’t know if my thank you template goes to my readers right away. I want to fix something in my thank you template but I am not sure if the original thirty will get it again on top of the new subscribers.

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I can’t afford to lose the thirty I have right now. That number may not seem like a lot to some of you, to a newbie that just went from four to thirty in a matter of three days…it’s a lot.

I am in promotions and giveaways. That is how I received the jump in readers. The advertisements on AMS and Facebook hasn’t worked for me. When I first wrote “Wendy’s Song” I had an advertisement on one of the free weekend five dollar deals online. It gave me a jump on Amazon. I had almost a thousand readers download the book.

I thought that was great because my book was top five in my genre for a quick minute. My big mistake with that is I didn’t have any information or giveaway in the back of the book to entice readers to review the book or sign up for my list.

I learned my lesson. That is why it is better to research and read before you act. I have said this before, a professor used to tell me “If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

The funny thing is, I remember the infamous line AFTER THE FACT.

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This is why I need to read up on email etiquette. I cannot let the readers down. I am in the process of completing my fourth book in my series. I want to notify the readers of this but I can’t just say “Hey, how are you. I am selling this book.”

That sounds kind of crappy. I know of an author that did that to me and I unsubscribed from her right away. Honestly, I gave her three chances to NOT sell to me, but that was all she did.

I understand it is a business but I saw she was collaborating with other authors and she was the only one that sounded shady with her email. I am signed up with her associates as well. They offered advice on various things. She offered to sell me things. While her associates offered their friends links, she did not. I felt that was a little shady.

Something to remember, don’t forget your friends/ fellow authors. I would think if you felt comfortable enough to work with someone, it could only help your business to send some work their way, no? I know it didn’t help to ignore them.

What I did on my thank you list is I offered the promotions links from both websites and said there are some great authors here (I’m not lying, there were one or two books on there that were really interesting). I also said I will offer a test reading if they’re interested. It’s not required. I mentioned more free promotions will be available on occasion and thanks again. Drop me a line on what your favorite type of reads are and hit me up on twitter and facebook.

I am hoping that one is the one that went through. If not then I have the generic thank you that I didn’t really mention my details and just the free ebook promotions. Not good for me but free ebooks from Bookfunnel and Prolific Works are available.

I am not sure if either email sounds good. I am going to have to research. I should not have done anything until I knew for a fact what was right. After I find out exactly what is the right thing to do, I need to make sure I don’t email anyone more than once with a thank you email.

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Then I have to find out when the best time is the next time I can contact my readers. Would it be when I see more free stuff for them? I don’t want to bother them, I have three hundred unopened emails on my one account because I can’t deal. I don’t want to be one of those people.

Well, if anyone here wants some free ebooks, one is any genre and one is biography/ memoirs type of books. Below are the links:

dear diary on bookfunnel

group giveaway on prolific works

Thanks for reading and good luck with your email lists.

Stay fabulous,

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

Growing Pains…Finding Out the Hard Way

I have spent some big bucks doing things the wrong way. I assume many authors in their newbie days have done the same. That’s not my point. My point is, I found a way that is not that hard and much cheaper. Okay, I will explain what the heck I’m talking about.

E-mail lists and how to get them.

I tripled my e-mail list today. Granted there were four of us on it (yes, one dropped me like a hot potato, and yes I am still on the list). The struggle is real! If anyone tells you differently, they are either lying or not authors.

Well, I prepared the reader’s magnet. I had the book funnel. I updated the covers on my e-books to make them fancy and professional. I got excited about it, I even did my third book which has nothing to do with the promotions (but I’m sure someone might want to read it one day).saving lisa ebook cover design (1)

Granted, I don’t have the means to hire anyone, but I know how to work a computer and canva.com is a free service. I fake it ’til I make it. 

I also set up my last page to link up to my email. It looks professional, in my mind it does. I did some testing and it works. Bookfunnel is set up and so is Prolific Works (previously Instafreebie).mailchimp monkey

Originally I had an ad on Facebook thinking this will get me some leads on a growing email list. Before I purchased advertising, I researched (I love to study up on as much information as possible, even if I think I know what I’m doing). Well, Facebook started me out with two or three e-mails and I spent seventeen dollars. I was not happy with my investment.

In the past, I spent money on AMS (Amazon) ads and they did get me tons of clicks but not much else. I spent more money on that than on Facebook.

In case you’re wondering, a click means the reader clicks the link to see what the book is about but they don’t purchase the book. Usually this means there is something with the book.

The click is what you spend the money on, not the reader just looking at the ad. If you would like to know more about AMS advertising, click here:

https://dragonrealmpress.com/editing/ams-ads-101/

Considering my first book in my series is permafree, I am looking to get the word out to the public AND grow my email list more than waste any more money. I understand I will be spending but I don’t want to be wasting. Who does?

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I received an e-mail from Bookfunnel (or Prolific, sorry I can’t remember) about promotions or giveaways. I read about authors collaborating. I have never understood the concept…until now.

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Both websites have promotions on them. Your free book can become part of a giveaway with other authors. The giveaway I’m in with Prolific has no genre and they request the whole book (no chapter or partial read). You also need to promote on your email list and social media. I am fine with that. I will be sharing the links of the promotions at the bottom of this post.

The best part of this is, IT IS FREE! My Bookfunnel promotion began today and so far I tripled my email list. As a matter of fact, I am recieving notifications that subscribers are signing up AS I AM DRAFTING THIS POST! Exciting stuff, huh?

I could have saved myself some money weeks ago if I understood this collaboration thing when I read about it. Well, here are BookFunnel and Prolific Works pages if you’re interested in learning more about adding your ebooks on their sites and working with other authors.

Bookfunnel

Prolific Works

The life of a newbie is up and down but the ups feel pretty good.

Another thing I have learned is I need to NOT compare myself to other authors. I am part of a few author’s groups and there is some that discuss their lists. They ‘only’ have a hundred on their list. I don’t comment but I cringe when I read it. I would love to say I only have a hundred email addresses.

Some authors discuss their twenty reviews for one book and say they can’t advertise on Bookbub. I don’t have fifteen reviews for my ten books. Then I read on. Some of the authors have been in this business for years. I can’t imagine the frustration they are feeling. I am just beginning.

I read the criteria for Bookbub and I was in shock! I don’t want to get into what there is to do. I have a long way to go. I am taking this journey one step at a time. Today is a good day. I am getting my list closer to my hundred emails. I will be finishing up my fourth book in my series soon, I can ask my Forbidden list if they would like to test read. First I should ask if any would like to be on my Forbidden list.

I have lots to do, it looks like. The life of a newbie writer is never quiet. Let the chaos continue!

Whether I have four or one hundred fans on my email list, I am living my dream. I am lucky to have this opportunity, fifty reviews or five. Bookbub will have to wait, for now. I may not ever need to advertise on them (probably a lie, but that’s what I’m telling myself for now).

Below are the links for the giveaways/ promotions. The e-books come in various forms for all to enjoy. If you have a chance, I’m sure an aspiring author would love a chance for you to read and enjoy their story:

Dear Diary on Book Funnel Now until October 29

Prolific Works October 13-November 30th

Good luck to anyone trying to get on to Bookbub, if you have, congratulations, you have my respect!

Stay fabulous

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

 

Growing Pains…Reviews and Emails

The two most important (besides sales) goals an author strives for…a large email list and massive amounts of reviews. From what I read, the formula is simple. Give away a tempting freebie. This freebie is only if the reader gives you an email address. After they read, they will be willing to purchase your books. They may even be ready to be on launch teams.

The review tactic is not that difficult in theory either. At the end of the story, ask for a review, explain how reviews are essential for EVERYONE (including the reader) and provide the link (in e-book) for easy access for readers to click.mailchimp monkey

Okay, first off, if you have BOTH of these in your ebook, they click one and not the other you might lose a review or an email address. I think placement is key. Second of all, theory  NEVER goes as planned.

I had a small push with my email list for a week or so when I set up Bookfunnel and Instafreebie. They went in my MailChimp list (or they’re supposed to) and we were set. For some reason, my email campaign came to a halt. I felt like my list was the marathon runner that hit the brick wall.

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Not that the names were flooding in. They might have been one a day but at least they were coming in.

Now, not only have the names stopped, one name unsubscribed. I do not like this at all. I am doing something wrong and I can’t figure it out. I am not writing as much as I’d like, I am ignoring my downtime, and I am tearing my hair out because I am too busy trying to get this email list thing down. Did I do something wrong?

I feel like the teenager waiting for a date but not sure if the phone works so calls her friend to have her call back to make sure it works (old school reference). I think my date just never called. I am home this weekend. I should stop trying to see if the phone is broken, it’s me and not the phone.

As for the reviews, I hear that for every thousand books there is one review. Okay, well that’s fine and all but how can I get any decent advertisement on my full priced books if I don’t have any reviews?

The reviews I do have at the moment are not great. The general consensus is ‘not what I expected,’ ‘this made me sad,’ and ‘a book with two endings.’ These three comments are actually not bad compared to the stars. 

 I have two 5 star reviews and the three above. Not a great start for my career.

I changed covers and blurbs to explain more about the books without ‘telling’ the story. The readers are surprised by the story and I get poor reviews. I have a few five stars, but I like to concentrate on the two and three stars. I need to know more about why.

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Did they expect to ‘know’ what I was writing? Did they want a happy ending? Do I annoy them with too many twists or turns? They didn’t say, the above comments are what I have to work with. ‘This made me sad‘ also mentioned it was ‘well written’ so I am confused on the two-star review.

I want to call them and ask more questions. I can’t. They did not sign up for my email list. They opted to give a review. One mentioned she took it out of her Kindle library.

Reviews are not upsetting to me. The lack of depth in the critique. I have questions. I want to know WHY. I know I said this a second ago. If the websites are going to use reviews as the IT factor, then guess what…I want more information on why you said what you said.

Well, besides my five reviews for my four books (One book doesn’t have a review), I can’t create lists for reviews or emails hence, no sales.

On top of that my concentration for these two things, I am giving away two of the books so I can grow an email list. I feel ridiculous that I can’t GIVE my book away.

I need to go and find a vlog and reevaluate everything I have done. I should look up Joanna Penn. I am sure she has a great guest podcast with somebody. I haven’t seen any of her videos in a while.

Derek Doepker might have something or Mark Dawson. I could just look up something on Reedsy. I like their articles lately. I am too tired to read. I worry myself into exhaustion for no reason.

A Facebook group might have someone that has been in my shoes. I will read some of the posts and hope I comment and ask a question or two. I am getting better at it.

Stay fabulous

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie