Growing Pains…Contemplating a Publisher’s ‘Self-Help’ Course

I have stated in previous blogs that I published eight books since the beginning of June. Not a great strategy for a brand new writer, but I felt that it was my way of getting noticed. I think I should have spent more time letting them ferment. Let the books sit and let me look at them a while later to revise one more time. I am very new at the game and I wanted to push out my work. I am not saying I don’t like what I write. I am saying there is always room for improvement.

This being said, I have two other works I did not publish. I kept them as my ‘lead magnets’ or ‘funnels’ for my e-mail lists. My extra large, extravagant e-mail list that is two members long. That being said, I need to work on my email list.

I have been reading material e-mailed to me. You know, the easy ways to get A BILLION FANS and A ZILLION DOLLARS. Why is this advice not working? I know, I am understanding only half of what the experts are saying. I have too many cooks in the kitchen. I have no idea what I am REALLY doing.

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Maybe it is all of the above, perhaps it is only one of these. What I do know is, SOMETHING is not working. I decided that while I take a break from writing my next big blockbuster book, I am going to grow my brand. I need to let my books have a chance to be seen.

As many of you in the business know, multiple emails come each day with offers to join exclusive courses for publishing your books, growing your businesses, and branding your products. I read some, delete others and unsubscribe to many.

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Today, I read up on an article that compared four great names in the business and what their courses had to offer in comparison to each other. There were pros and cons, who they were best suited for, and why. Dave Chesson wrote the article. It was extremely informative and helped me out with many questions. I only had one question that I didn’t ask, I decided not to bother after reading the comments section.

Honestly, the comments are the best place to go after an article. That’s where I always find the good stuff.

I was torn between two of the courses. I have already written eight books but in a short period of time. Am I considered a beginner or novice? Which category would I fit? The two courses I was teetering between had great attributes between them. I have two people on my email list. I have some experience, but with little to no effect. Is this because of time? Is this because I am too new and inexperienced?

I look in the comments. I find that the one course is a bit outdated. Okay, now it makes little difference. I will not spend my money on an outdated course. A reply states that respected author of the course will be informed. I will reconsider at a later date.

The other course is not being held at this time. Many of these courses are live for the authors to give you one to one instruction or some form of interaction (you’re paying for a service, they give you their time).

I keep reading the comments, a reader posted something about AtoZ publishing. It is a totally free course. You sign up with your email address and receive an offer for a writing course for $26. If you choose to say no to the writing bonus, you still get the totally free AtoZ publishing course.

I decided to check it out. What do I have to lose? So far it is relatively basic. If you are brand new to the game, this is for you. I am ready to move past the section I am in. I have the option to, but I wanted to see what I was looking at first.

If you know someone with little to no money and is BRAND NEW to self-publishing, they can start with this as a foundation. The first few segments tell them, how it is. One line says: as a writer, you’re going to suck. We all do. I love it! Reality is the name of the segment, and that’s what I got.

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I didn’t get much further than that but so far so good. I see there are more advanced segments, I am hoping to find out about my email blunders and how to figure out my weakness with keywords. I hear the same lectures over and over, but I don’t get it. I think if I hear it from somebody else (again), it just might click (at least that’s what I’m hoping).

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Time will tell if this works out. In the meantime, I ordered a microphone to record my own audiobook so we will have a lot of fun talking about that real soon. Another great article I read from Dave; creating my own audiobook. I just love trying new things.

Have fun writing, I know I always do!

Robyn Branick

Author Central

aka

Robbie Ellie

Author Page

 

Growing Pains… Gurus Have Issues Too!

Non-stop reading, listening to advice, and attempting to implement the tools given for all these months has been a struggle for me. I have done my best. Yesterday I went to my local library and donated all of my books to their collection. A part of me feels I can’t afford to do this, another part of me thinks that the exposure will help get my name out there.

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I made an appointment with the children’s librarian for next week. We will be going over the dos and don’ts of my books. I am hoping I get a lot out of it. She definitely has seen a lot more books than me. She is more exposed to the tastes of today’s children. I believe this will be helpful. I did not get this advice EXACTLY from a guru, I took a bit from one, and a bit from another and sort of meshed it together. That’s what I like about having so many voices of expertise in this industry. Many are always in a discussion/ interview together.

It seems indie publishing is a tight group. Everyone knows each other or at least heard of one another in some way. Everyone is a bold word, I know, but it seems this way.

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Earlier in the week, I signed up for a webinar which includes a favorite guru of mine. I love to sign up for Joanna Penn’s offers. I enjoy her endless storage of knowledge when it comes to publishing, writing, marketing, etc. She knows an awful lot. What she doesn’t know, she will interview another expert. Her podcasts are entertaining because she cracks herself up. I like when people can make themselves laugh. I am the same way.

I have listened to her podcasts while I am doing chores around the house. Granted, I can’t sit and listen for an hour, I am the type that always needs to be doing something. It is in my nature. I still get a lot out of her words. I made it a habit to put my buds in and wash my dishes or cook a meal while she’s interviewing another guru of her caliber.

The other day she had a woman discussing children’s books (episode 388 if you’re interested). I just started writing children’s books so I am unfamiliar with many gurus that are out there in this field. I know of one so far.Add heading (2).jpg

I enjoyed hearing this interview, it gave me some useful tips to take with me to another level. Between this interview and another woman that was in a different webinar, I got the idea to donate my books to my local library AND ask the librarian for advice.

I received an email later on about another guru I am familiar with. He is not known (to me) with writing children’s books but I have heard him on other interviews and I have read a few things he has written. I was pretty excited to be a part of the webinar where BOTH the Penn and the Nick Stephenson will be speaking (the first 10k reader).

I went to the webinar and I thought it was my wrongdoing. After a few minutes, I clicked out of the webinar. The next morning, I checked my emails. There were a couple emails from both gurus apologizing. The technology failed them. One part of me felt sorry that they weren’t able to have their webinar. Another part of me realized…they fail too.

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Things go bad, even for the experts. I hate this happened to them. They may have lost some potential clients (hopefully not). This fail gives me hope that I can overcome the messes that I have made. I am new to this so I am supposed to royally fail. When I have established myself I will still fail; hopefully, LESS OFTEN, time will tell.

I just completed another MailChimp attempt this morning. It was simpler than the past ten that I tried to make. It actually worked when I tried it out. I was able to add a document and URL to the email I am sending out. I was barely able to figure out how to add my email address when I first started.

I will have these growing pains, but they will be less of a pain. This is indeed a rollercoaster. I see that even the best in the business still have their share. I am not an evil villain out to watch anyone fail, but I feel closer to the Penn and Nick for seeing that even the greats have their share of moments.

I have to wait another week for the webinar, that’s fine. I will wait. I’m sure it’ll be worth it. In the meantime, I will go back and reevaluate my AMS campaigns. I watch and reassess but still have trouble with my clicks, impressions, and sales. I watch the rocket videos all the time but my inexperience is always my downfall.

There is a lot to learn. I will get this. When I have one of those days where nothing goes right, I will tell myself even the experts have bad days. Then I will carry on with another task on my to-do list.

I am sorry that your webinar did not work out but thank you for your honesty. It helped the little guys in the industry. Somebody like me that needs to see you are vulnerable to the madness and chaos of everyday frustrations.

Keep up with the fantastic writing, I hope whatever you’re reading is as fabulous as you.

Robyn Branick

amazon author page

aka

Robbie Ellie

amazon author page

Growing Pains…I am Growing as a Writer, My Fan Base is Not

It is a rough feeling when you see you have more books than fans. I am pushing out two books a month, I am on my third month. Sure, I have a pen name for my children’s books. That shouldn’t matter (I think it does).

As an author, I love to write more than market, most authors do (I’m guessing). I am also an illustrator for my children’s books because I love to draw and paint. This takes a lot out of my marketing time. Not that it matters much, I still don’t like that side of the business.

I am lucky enough to have good friends and family that share some of my annoying posts and blogs that flood facebook. I am relatively positive some FBFs have either unfriended me or listed my name in the see less of this person’s posts category. I am okay with that, not offended, I have done the same with some of my FBFs. I am not one to like everyone’s posts (I don’t believe everyone should, honestly).

Since I have two books out, I need to get the word out for sales. I posted on Facebook. I tweeted, I mentioned my books on Google+, I added the links on my websites. I read up on marketing this weekend. As I read up on the marketing, the same information continues to come up.

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I know the majority of the information, I still don’t understand some of it. I can’t comprehend, or maybe I just can’t work it properly. Am I too new to the game? Am I not implementing the tools correctly? What am I doing wrong?

Well, I was FINALLY able to add a landing page for my children’s book to begin an e-mail fan base. I can’t be sure how it will work out, I need time to see. This is the link to add email addresses to get the free ebook: how they met free book I read up on funneling and a reader’s magnet, I will implement that in a few days with my Regrettable & Forbidden Series, next week. I need to finish the short story, and then I will use Wendy’s Song as a free ebook.

Wendy’s Song is free today (8/12/2018) but not perma – free just yet. I need to modify the last page to add the free e-mail. I messed up on that. I just wanted readers to get hooked to the story so they might buy the other two books.

I know I am new, this is why I can’t make silly mistakes. I can’t afford mistakes like this. I find myself making too many of them. I see them too often but after the fact. I either make these ridiculous mistakes, or I absorb information that has little to no use for me (at least I don’t think it does for weeks at a time).

Once I realize I am doing so many wrong things, I think to myself Should I bother with this career? Is this what I should be doing? Everyone else seems to know what they’re doing but me.

I always go to my rollercoaster metaphor. This ride is making me dizzy. I have so many ups and downs. The twists and turns are crazier than I expected. I have little patience and two to three months of experience is nothing compared to those who have it all together.

Today’s post is not a pity post. It is about a frustrated writer that went into a business thinking of the glamour of the writing; not thinking of the struggles of marketing and sales.

Growing pains have a lot of naivety. So far I have learned to be smarter about who to listen to. As I read emails, if they just try and sell, delete and/ or spam them. Unsubscribe immediately. If they give a bit of info, free information on how to spot something that doesn’t seem right, you have someone decent (obviously my opinion and personal experience).

If they don’t say it is for sale or free in the comment, I don’t bother clicking. I delete, spam, and/or unsubscribe. I believe you need to be upfront with me. If you’re not up front, you have something to hide.

This is a slow process, too slow for my taste but I will get there. I read something from a friend that mentioned, “If you are taking one step a day, you are still moving faster than the person lying on their couch.” This has something to do with going to the gym, but I changed it to mean something for me. I am not sure if these are the exact words, but you get the idea.

Whenever I get frustrated, I need to think, I am taking that one step today by, writing another story, writing on this blog, reading someone’s blog, watching a video on marketing, reading more on marketing, figuring out how to sell more of me (my books, my merchandise, my brand, my children’s site).

The most critical piece of this journey is to stay positive and keep going. Thank you for reading, I hope you’re writing something fantastic. Whatever you’re reading today I hope is as fabulous as you.

Growing Pains…My Head is Spinning!

Okay, last night I didn’t go to sleep until I finished the cover the way I wanted it. I think I did a pretty fantastic job. I went on to Amazon and what a surprise, it didn’t work. Oh well, a few hours go by, and I tweaked it again to get it done.

I get so excited I decided to finish the other cover. That one doesn’t work either, so I fix that one too, of course. My eyes probably don’t work at this point, but I must carry on! I am not one to leave a job undone.

I have both covers finished, I have the manuscripts complete, I have everything in place. Oh, look…I can have my work sold to other countries. I will sign up for Amazon UK and Amazon Denmark (I don’t speak or write in German but hey, free money if they read in English). I was considering signing my works up in Japan, but I decided to experiment with these two first.

The decisions I make on no sleep are adventurous ones…let me tell you. My proof copy of the children’s book came in while this was all happening. I went over it and saw nothing wrong (of course not, sleep deprivation impairs vision). I approved my work on CreateSpace and let my book go on its magical journey.

Of course, I need to ‘read’ about marketing the industry. Oh boy, do I need a nap! As I read the articles on the best places to investigate, I click the blue links. Majority of the sites are no longer available. Thanks for the great info buddy! I came across one magazine that was pretty cool. Not available for my publication or review but really inspiring for future writers of America.

It is called Stone Soup. It publishes works of future artists, writers, and poets. There were some incredibly talented young people out there. The children must be 13 and under so if you have an aspiring writer, look into it. This could encourage them to continue a dream of writing or drawing. I wish I had this when I was a kid. I emailed the company and told them I love their concept and keep up the good work.

As you can see, my focus gets a little off track at times. This is why I am not the best marketing manager. I create lists for myself every day, not that I complete the lists, but at least I have them. I only have three tasks to finish tomorrow. I believe I will get at least one done. I will attempt another on the list and most likely push the other one off until Thursday. I know for a fact I will get distracted again and add something ridiculous to the list just to say I completed it ( I will add it after I did it).

I finally fell asleep well into the afternoon hours, woke up three hours after that. I am still a bit sleep deprived but my eyesight not blurry, thank goodness.

I am still a bull in a china shop when it comes to this author/ marketing thing, but I can’t help my passion. I have always gone all or nothing. I will be this way for a long time. I will go for days with no sleep, extra focus until the job is done, crazy hours on one project and a messy house until the task is met. Then I will take the one or two days off, ignore everything and start this process over.

I love it, and from the emails and blogs I read, I see that many of you enjoy it as much as I do. Hopefully one day soon I will be as organized as some of you seem to be. Good luck with your writing today and I hope the book you are reading is as fabulous as you.

Robyn Branick

aka

Robbie Ellie

Growing Pains…Affiliates and Associates?

I just learned how to become an associate and affiliate of a few big named companies. Let me tell you, it sounded so simple. It took me about three hours (not including my internet interruption from the storm) to set it up, and I still could not get it right. I give up on the one company.

I am okay with it. I am not supposed to have more than one company on my blog anyway (according to one particular company). I will deal with the other company until I figure out what I am doing.

To be honest, I am not even sure I will have anyone on my sites at the rate I am going. It sounds like easy money to me. If I could only figure out how to get this easy money started. I know how to copy and paste a GIF, I can link text to send it to another page, what is wrong with these copy ads?

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As usual, the common denominator in this scenario is me. I am quite aware. Thank you for pointing it out.

It just so frustrating when I hear a bunch of different ways to make money while writing and implement them thinking they’re so easy to do. It is obvious I can’t do all of the techniques. I don’t have a self-help, non-fiction book out so I will not be going on tour anytime soon coaching to a mass audience.

I only have two books published in my series so a box set makes little sense. The third will be offered soon, but I would like to give it time so I can be free of my contractual obligation from a particular company before creating the set.

I am now in another genre, children’s books. As much as I love it, it takes a lot of time away from my original genre. I don’t mind so much, it is part of the money making process.

More ways to make money will come soon (I hope). I added my children’s book to another company, they will be distributing the books to a global market, other bookstores and libraries and such. This will help with my name (Robbie Ellie) getting out to more than just one small circle. I hope to make this a career so this makes sense (to me).

Add some great keywords and utilize Google analytics wherever available, I am learning that at a snail’s pace.

Along with my new genre, I created a blog specifically for the children’s series Silly Sally & Alexsally and alex.jpg

It has stories based on the book series and I will be adding Sally telling Silly jokes. I will not be on that as often as I am on here, I will spend a lot of time illustrating for stories and such. I also have a site to sell merchandise based on the children’s book. I am not sure how well that will fare, we shall see.

Those are some of my updated money making attempts while I continue to write more books. I will be marketing, but on my terms. I am too much of a small fish in this big pond to make a real difference spending money on my books to become best sellers.

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The best way to advertise is to keep writing. The keywords don’t hurt either. I am getting so tired of thinking about keyword strings. Honestly, I should start a list of keywords for each book I have and keep it in a journal. I think of this when I am not writing the keywords on some site, I think of it when I am making a pot of coffee or when I am grocery shopping.

I am sure many others have similar issues. Reading other blogs, I feel better that I’m not alone in many frustrations in this business.

Thank you for reading, it helps to know one day when I figure out affiliate or associate or whatever A word it is, I might be able to make a buck or two. Good luck with your writing today and I hope whatever you are reading is as fabulous as you!

Robyn Branick

aka Robbie Ellie

 

Growing Pains… Children’s Book Blues

Impatience, I never learn. I created a website for merchandise based on my children’s book characters, I created a standing site for an email list that will giveaway a secret story ( I am in the process of creating the illustrations, ugh), and I updated information on a few of my social media accounts ( i think? can’t remember..i should have made a list). gee gee and sally phone cover

I am in the midst of writing my other novella for my series for my older audience. I think this is all exciting. Let me get back on track, another one of my quirks, I lose track…my mind is always all over the place.cropped-pexels-photo-958164.jpeg

I have no patience and I jumped the gun on publishing the kindle version of the Sally & Alex book. I thought my ducks were in a row, but I believe someone is feeding them bread because they began wandering about. I was forced to recreate a new site. The children’s website is the same as last night but the e-book was approved yesterday morning. The information is wrong in the Kindle story. That needs to change.silly sally cover kindle

My children’s book site is only halfway set up. I have merchandise on it as though it’s being sold through my website, it’s not. I need to fix that. The marketing area needs to be adjusted in so many areas that I barely have time to fix the formatting issues on the print version…another area I am still having trouble.silly sally go to zoo book cover preview purple

To top it off, I have a promise on my site that if you sign up to my email newsletter, you will get the secret story…the one I am in the middle of illustrating! Thank goodness I am not very popular, there would be tons of disappointment (even if I just added the link on here).

My hands are in too many cookie jars and as much as I love cookies, I get distracted from the real meal. This is a TOUGH business, crazy genre. It could be me, it must be me. I see all these other bloggers looking like they have their stuff together.

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I see these GURUS of writing trying to sell us NEWBIES their knowledge and expertise as if they have everything made and it is easy as pie. They are on their yachts, having fun, they are on vacation in Europe, they are living the life with their “six-figure incomes” as most of them declare.

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I am sitting on my laptop complaining to anyone that feels like reading how I can’t suitably format my embedded fonts for five days or how my bleed isn’t exceeding the paper set up for my manuscript to be accepted.

After days of trying, most of the pages have less ‘X’ marks on them. I do feel better about this. My novellas were simple to format, it took about a half hour or so to create and send. They were all (two) accepted right away.

As I say in many of my posts, I will learn. As I say in some of my posts, I will still worry and be all over the place, but it’ll still be fun for me. I love this craziness I call writing.

Who knows? I might even get this blogging thing down one day too. I’ll have to eat my words “Growing Pains” sooner than I think.

Once again, I see too many food references so I need to stop and find something to eat.

Imagine Dragons: Whatever It Takes is my motto for this week… for those who are not familiar with the song, click on the italics for the lyrics.

Thanks for reading. I wish you luck with your writing this week. I hope the book you read today is as fabulous as you!

Robyn Branick

aka Robbie Ellie

 

 

 

 

Growing Pains…Children’s Books? Yeah, They’re Tough To Format!

I thought this would be cake. Boy, was I wrong. I thought I would be slick by taking the techniques from South Park and cutting the heads off my characters, using the same backgrounds multiple times, only creating a few different body parts. Nope, that was only half the battle.cover idea 1 silly sally go to zoo.jpg

I LOVE to paint and draw, for fun. The same when it comes to writing stories. I LOVE writing, for fun. When something turns into an income, things change. When there is money to be made, expectations are on the line. Frustrations grow. It is not just my eye that will be seeing these works. It will not be my close family and friends critiquing every line and stroke of paint.

If you thought adults notice everything, walk into a first-grade classroom for one day. You will hear every single mistake you have made since you were born. They will remind you of EVERYTHING and not let it go. They will also give you some sweet dirt on their family, which is something I used to think was cute (I’m sure the family wouldn’t appreciate it).

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Youth is entertaining, but it also comes with a yearning for telling you everything they know. If they know something is wrong, they have no problem calling you out. It is a double-edged sword.

I was just discussing my favorite television shows with a friend today. I couldn’t believe the silly sitcoms I loved as a kid (Saved by the Bell and Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and how corny they were. I was saying how I can’t even get through one of the episodes now. I wouldn’t miss one back when they were new.

If I am going to be successful as a children’s author, I need to be corny, silly, and authentic but not get called out for mistakes that drive my audience away. That’s a lot of pressure. I love the primitive style of my illustrations. Are they enough not to get criticized by my audience?

Are they ‘Teenage Witch’ enough? If an adult doesn’t approve, it’s not that big of a deal, that’s not my target audience ( I hope I’m not wrong in that statement since the adults buy for the kids). silly sally cover kindle

I am still excited to write and draw the books. My Kindle version is out on Amazon.

I totally know it is a cute book. I have a new website out just for the books, and I have a site for the merchandise based off of the characters.gee gee and sally phone cover

I am learning how to market a little more. I will get an audience through children’s books. I like to write my novellas too so I will continue that (when I need to relax). I think I found my niche in this genre.

As usual, I have my worries. I will always have my concerns because that is how I am wired. Just like I exaggerate 24/7, I worry 24/7.

I finally learned about embedding fonts after five days (that was NOT an exaggeration). I am hoping the pdf. is accepted for print tomorrow. I really want to sell the print version of my book soon. Silly Sally & Alex Go To the Zoo. That is the name of the book.

Just like all writers, I will improve. I will learn from this crazy experience and it will become easier. I will stop worrying about each and every child that potentially reads my story and I will enjoy the process. I will clean up the mistakes I don’t see at first and by the fifth or sixth book, this writing thing will be cheese.

I’m using too many food phrases, I must be getting hungry. Thanks for reading. Good luck in your writing endeavors and I hope the next book you read is as fabulous as you!

Robyn Branick

aka Robbie Ellie