Sunday, August 30, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 79 -- Anything Goes Sunday

I've been pretty busy today. I'm trying to clear my plate of all the things that are going to distract me from driving straight through on Book 4. After Book 4, I've decided to take a break before hitting Book 5 and other romance projects. Time to rest my brain. Of course, I say that now, but a rest usually lasts about a day or two--I'm going to try for a month or two.

But it's funny, though, as I let my mind wander to other things, I've figured out how Book 4 is going to end...and I now know how Book 5 will begin and end. And Ialso know whether or not J.J., Six, and Tony will return in another series after the Spy Catcher series is done--but I'm not gonna tell. At least not yet. You'll have to wait and see. 

I wish my fingers could type as fast as I think this stuff up. All I can say's really gonna be good so hang in there!

I have two events left to attend this year so I had to get my marketing crap...I mean SWAG together. Today I created a banner and bookmarks. Nothing fancy but they'll get me through the next events. 

I ordered my bookmarks (left) from (1,000 for $32) and the retractable banner (right) from ($79, free shipping). 

The kicker is that I got myself into this new romance project--a football romance in honor of my favorite game. It's one of those multi-author book sets for Valentine's Day. Fortunately, it's only a novella (roughly 30-40k) so it won't take me that long to write. But it's due January 6th so I have to get the first draft done and put it down for a few weeks before picking it back up again to edit and finalize. 

This means that Book #4 MAY get pushed to the right a  teeny little bit--closer to the end of December or the beginning of January. I hate to do it, but I don't want to rush Book 4 out with a weak story because I've been so distracted with this rebranding and other little projects.  

Needless to say, it will all get done. It's just a matter of time. 
Now, if I luck up and win the lottery within the next few weeks so I can quit my 9-to-5 job and write my books full-time--everything gets done on time! Of course, I do believe for that scenario to play out, I would probably need to start playing the lottery. I don't because I'm not lucky. I'm anti-lucky. God's message to me for my entire life has been, "If you want something, you're going to have to work for it. I'm not giving you anything." 

But, you have to play to win, right? 

Anyway, I've got to go write and order books. My announcement regarding the conference at which I'm speaking is coming up next weekend. If you're in the DC-MD-VA area, I hope you'll come out. I'll have the NEWLY BRANDED books on sale and you can get autographed copies! 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 78 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- Top 5 Publishing Stories This Week

Indie Authors Need Writing Communities 

Darn tootin'! This is a great article to find others of our kind. We need each other.  

This is an interesting article on a popular British author who diverted his journey to the self publishing route. Self publishing is a great venue to publish works the traditionals don't think are publishable in the mainstream. I think as more authors venture out of their "boxes" they will find this avenue a favorable one. 

Why Story Structure Formulas Don't Work

I love articles on the craft of writing, be they about novel writing or screenwriting. This is a screenwriting article but I do think it has some applicability to novel writing. One of my rules of thumb is -- know the rules...but feel free to break them. 

I think we all kind of know this was a non-starter. But this is certainly as interesting an explanation as any. 

The Jobs 13 Famous Writers Had Before They Became Famous

Everybody starts somewhere. As I continue to seek ways to kill one of my 9-to-5 Book 4, this is motivation to continue the 5-to-9. 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 77 -- Fiction Friday

Fiction Friday -- Shadow Agents

Ethan Miller is an author who specializes in Spy Thrillers which are near and dear to my heart. This is a preview of an upcoming novel from the Justin Hall Series but it SURE piqued my interest! Spies. Tourists. Tel Aviv? And it looks pretty good! I'm going to see if I can get Ethan to do an interview on the site (wish me luck). Click the cover to download the free sample. 

Check it out. This definitely makes me want to start at book 1. 

Amazon bestselling author Ethan Jones returns with SHADOW AGENTS, the new electrifying thriller in the Justin Hall spy series.

Justin Hall and Carrie O'Connor are the best field operatives of the Canadian Intelligence Service, and they are hot on the trail of a Palestinian sleeper cell planning a major attack in Germany. Combat-hardened and ever-vigilant Justin and a determined and ferocious Carrie are able to narrowly foil the suicide bombing of Berlin's Central Train Station.

But one of the cell members escapes and goes underground. Justin--the only one who knows what the fugitive looks like--and Carrie are dispatched to find him, since he is believed to know a deeply disturbing secret. The relentless hunt takes them to Tel Aviv, Israel, where they begin to uncover an unsettling game of deception and betrayal that implicates powerful people. They hit the dangerous back alleys of Amman, Jordan, only to realize they have been looking at the wrong place.

Shocking clues about the fugitive thrust them deep inside the heart of terrorist-infested Iraq. With the help of Mossad, CIA and unlikely allies, yet facing slim chances of survival, they must stop the devious plot. Otherwise, the entire Middle East will explode into an all-out war.

Ethan Jones's masterpiece of suspense is the sixth thriller in the Justin Hall series and follows the bestselling tradition of David Baldacci, Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. It is a fascinating, unpredictable and adrenaline-fueled spy novel.

This is a special preview containing only the first 65 pages of ROGUE AGENTS, which will be released on December 16, 2014. You can pre-order SHADOW AGENTS from this link:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 75 -- Craft Talk Thursday

Craft Talk Thursday -- Solving 9-to-5 Problems

First, can you believe I've now blogged 75 days in a row? 

I didn't think it was possible in my life...with my work sched
ule. Just goes to show that you can do whatever you set your mind to do and whatever you make the time to do.

Which brings me to writing Book 4.  I'm trying to get back my writing mojo in the midst of one of the biggest professional challenges in my career. My patience is being tested in ways it never has by anyone. 

So what do you do when your mind is so twisted with 9-to-5 drama that you can't focus on getting your story written? Kill your co-worker? 

Yes!!! You commit murder. 

That's exactly what you do. You make him a character and then you kill him dead as a doornail. So I'm sacrificing craft for catharsis. There probably will be a completely unnecessary death in my story and readers will see it and think "didn't see that coming." Well, when you see that you'll know exactly who I've whacked...and why. 

My craft will save me from a prison sentence. 

Don't you just love writing? 

It's all about sentence building...and yet it's "sentence" saving. 

See what I did there? 

I'm deliriously tired. Off to bed.  

We'll be having Free Fiction Friday tomorrow. I'm hoping to rope my next author into an interview next week. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 74 -- What's New Wednesday -- Write or Die

What's New Wednesday -- Write or Die

A lot of writers out there may know about this tool already. This one is for those who don't.

For those of us trying to get in word count every day, The. Struggle. Is. Real!

I'm finally back to writing and, in general, my creativity is affected by my method of writing. Sometimes, I can write straight on the laptop. Other times, the words get stuck in my brain when I'm trying to type, but when I use my gel pen and Moleskine notebook, the words flow like water.

Right now, I'm in a notebook and gel pen mode. The words are flowing. But I will have to eventually type these suckers up. At some point, I will start using my Livescribe for the purpose in which it was intended, which is to prevent me from having to type up my notes, but for now the un-fancy notebook will do.

With that said, when I'm in laptop mode, I really go ADHD with the focusing. So, one program that really helps you keep your focus and not diddle around all day is called Write or Die.

What is it?

For the low low price of $20 dollars, you can buy a program that will force you to write--or will seriously piss you off if you don't.

The way it works is, you set the word count you want to reach (for me its generally 1500-2000 words a day--basically a scene). You set the time limit (30 minutes to an hour for me).

Then it presents a screen in which you start to type.

And if you stop typing for a set length of time (depending on how aggressively you set the program), it will start DELETING the words you've typed. Yes--DELETE.

Can you imagine struggling to get out a sentence and then watching the words disappear because you paused to long after you choked it out?

That's write or die.

Let's be clear about this -- Write or Die is not for those writers who toil over every word they the FIRST draft (although one could argue it should be), rather write or die is for those authors that understand the first draft is just a data dump and that getting your thoughts out of your head and on paper for editing later is really the most important part of writing a FIRST draft.

And now they have a Mac version. I used to have the Windows version.

It wasn't as fancy as this.

So, if you game, give it a try. I wrote my first YA novel in 3 weeks using this tool. It works...BOY does it work!

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 73 - Ad Talk Tuesday -- Book #4 Cover Reveal

Yesterday was such a busy day.

Junior is in his second day of high school so I've been busy trying to ensure that he's adjusting okay. Between that and a proposal my writing life blows already this week, but boy do I have the motivation to get it back on track.

Behold! The cover for Book #4.

Catching a traitor in the highest echelons of the U.S. military is complicated...when the FBI's premiere spy catcher becomes the mole.

Can you wait??? 

I can't. 

It's gonna be goooooooooood! 

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Monday, August 24, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 72 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday -- An Indie Author's Story


So this week's author hails from across the pond. He worked as a lawyer and in the London film industry until the writing bug hit...and even after it hit. 
During his 4-hour commutes to and from London, he pulled out his laptop and wrote his little heart out. He had some initial success, getting picked up by a traditional publisher. Even with GREAT reviews, his book failed to take off. He, like another author you might be familiar with (me), used to go into book stores and reshelve his books so they would get more visibility.  

I can so relate. 

He, like most of the mid-listers that never breakthrough, attributes his lack of success to the failure of his publisher to give his book adequate promotion. And it left a sour taste in  his mouth. 

So he quit writing for while. 

But, what he failed to realize that even though you may quit writing, writing never quits you. It doesn't it's like a ghost silently haunting you when you're not doing it. 

Well, eventually his ghost got the best of him and he wrote again. A different series this time. And rather than go for traditional publishing, he decided Kindle would be a better fit. 

And it...he was wrong. It wasn't. 

Sales were still flat as a least until -- the free promotion. He busy going on with life when he decided to check his free book stats. He'd given away 50,000 books in one weekend. It changed the course of his career. 

He decided to write a NEW series, which has since sold 300,000 copies. 

The series is the John Milton series

And the author is Mark Dawson. 

Now, Amazon pays him *cough* $450,000 a year. *cough cough* 

My takeaways from his story...

1. I really need to get on the stick with my writing routine. I've got a lot going on but I can make more time in my day to get my books done. 
2. Free promotions won't necessarily work for everyone, but it will work for the right book, even in today's over-saturated market. Just need the right book at the right time. 
3. Get this--Facebook ads work for him! Actually, my recent experience with one of my books was pretty darn successful, too. I probably need to use that more.  

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 71-Anything Sunday


I'm back to writing! Went back and tightened up chapter 1 and now I'm working on doing the same for chapter 2. I don't know what language I was speaking when I wrote the first draft but I'm almost certain it wasn't English. Which is yet another reason why I'm so late with my blogs. I roped myself not on into getting Book 4 finished. BUT -- I also volunteered myself to develop a new novella for one of those book bundles in the romance genre. Both are due about the same time. So, I'm going to have to be more schizophrenic than usual, killing people one day and making them fall in love the next. This should be interesting.

I hope I don't get them confused.

Wouldn't it be funny if in the middle of their first date, a deadly Russian spy jumps out and kills everybody. Then J.J. McCall comes in to investigate???

I'm not going to let that happen but it would be funny.

In other news, I got the first draft of the cover for Book 4. O-M-G. I love it. But I did ask for a couple of minor changes. We'll see if Dane the Wonder Designer pulls them off. Did I tell you he ROX? If not, I meant to.

Well, that's all for this post -- which appears late but those who follow the blog  know I have until 5:28 pm to get my blogs in.

Motivation Monday is coming right up!

One day I hope my story is the one I'm telling for Motivation Monday!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 70 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- Week's Top 5 Publishing Links

5 Things All Authors Must Know About Book Publishing in the Digital Age

Yes. You need to know everything in this article, especially about distribution and getting into bookstores. This is why I recommend authors NOT use services like iUniverse and the like. You need to be able to set your own discount rate and your own return policy if you have any plans to get on bookstore shelves as an indie author. I did it...with one book...before Simon & Schuster came along. Ingram Spark is the way. 

Building Your Author Platform

Every author needs a platform these days. If you're unsure of how to begin building your platform or you need to grow you current audience, these article offers some great tips. 

How a Book Gets Edited (at a Traditional Publisher)

A debut novelist with Holt discusses the editing process as his traditional publisher.

7 Valuable Insights Every Author Needs to Know

Yes. You should read this if you're an author. Nothing you don't know, but all things you need to constantly keep in mind. 

Why Is the Authors Guild Supporting Publishers Against Amazon—And More Than It Supports Authors?

I thought this was an interesting perspective in the Author Guild's war against Amazon. Who are they REALLY protecting? Read this to find out...

Friday, August 21, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 69 -- Fiction Friday

Happy Fiction Friday! 

It is truly happy for me because the rebranding is DONE and my last three files were JUST accepted by IngramSpark...on the second (not 17th try as per my usual). I owe all credit to getting my copy of InDesign and learning to use templates.

Anyway, I've decided on Fridays when I don't have an author to highlight on my blog that I'm going to highlight one of the FREE espionage spy-related reads in the Kindle FREE Top 100. 

I will be honest and tell you I read A LOT. Almost every night I'm reading something. But I don't read a lot of spy fiction. Having worked in that world, it's too hard to maintain my interest when the story goes too far off the reservation from what I know to be real and true. This is not to say they are bad stories or that they are poorly written or that they may not be worth YOUR time. It's just that I like my spy stories on the rails.

Over the next few days, I've got lots of work to do in this arena. I'm putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a conference I'm speaking at on this very topic -- writing intelligently about law enforcement, intelligence, military, etc. How not to go off the rails. And I'm going to use the TV shows and movies that make/made my eyes roll.

But I'm on a quest to find books that DO NOT make my eyes roll. And I hope this is one of them.

Get it today for FREE on Amazon. 

 First of all -- that's the real CIA seal. The author could get in trouble for that, but I don't suspect the agency has people scouting book covers for their seal. Also, the author has a military that made it a definite pick for me. I worked in a Joint Miilitary environment for almost five years -- military of all ranks and branches--so I have enough background to know what's what.

Apart from that it has a SUPER interesting premise: 

Months after 9/11, a covert arm of the CIA summons young Lieutenant Eric Ritter to Pakistan. Al Qaeda holds an American operative, and Ritter’s history with the kidnapper is key to rescuing the operative before it’s too late. 

While the CIA need Ritter’s help, they consider him an expendable asset and throw him into a battle he isn’t ready for. Deep inside a hostile city, Ritter will learn what it takes to fight the cloak and dagger war against a merciless enemy, or die trying.

The premise itself is within a realm of possibility on one hand--kidnapped American. Yes. Believable. It's happened. Expendable asset vs Al Qaeda in Pakistan? Hmmm...a little bit of stretch but I'm willing to go with it and give it a shot.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 68 -- 15 Rebranding Tips, Lessons Learned, etc. etc.

Okay, friends!

Well, the major efforts in my rebranding work are coming to a close and my brain is finally freeing up  from the business work to actually start getting creative again and finish up writing Book 4.

Before I dump this subject and get back to our regularly scheduled programming, I wanted to share my lessons learned, tips, etc., to help the next author who goes through the task of republishing a series with new titles and covers.

So, I'm just going to start at the bottom and work my way through. If you're thinking about doing this in the near future you will probably want to bookmark this page because it will also serve as a bit of a checklist for the initial work.  I did almost all of this within about 3 weeks...

So, here we go...

1. Lesson Learned -- Get it right the first time so you don't have to rebrand. If your cover idea feels totally self indulgent and something that no one will get except you or somebody who knows how your twisted brain works, you're probably right...your idea is not going to appeal to the masses. Let a designer with experience in YOUR GENRE help you brand your series. If you do not, you are asking for trouble and a whole lot of unnecessary rework down the road.

Also -- this is a great time to get a proofread if your readers have mentioned issues. A new set of eyes will really help point out some glaring issues. I know they helped me!

2. Hire the right graphic designer. Research, research, research, research. The best thing you can do is go to the bookstore and take your cover design to one of the booksellers and ask them would they stock your book and where. If they have a hard time figuring it out, back to the drawing board. has super reasonable prices and a talented staff. I HIGHLY recommend Dane! He ROX!

3. Make sure you have enough ISBNs. Putting new covers and titles on your books means NEW ISBNs on your print books. You cannot use the same numbers.  Also, for free barcodes, use

4. On Amazon -- You can use the same ASIN. As a matter of fact, I've heard that if you try to upload a new book AND keep the same old book Amazon may very well snatch your book down and not allow you to sell either. The idea is to prevent any chance of the customer downloading the same book twice. So, don't create new titles. Overwrite the old ones.

5. Categories on Amazon -- so one thing I did this time around, thanks to advice I read on was to add my book to as many applicable sales categories as possible. I researched other books in my genre, looked down at their categories, and then contacted Amazon customer service and asked them to add me to those. It's supposed to help with discoverability. We'll see. But if you've ever wondered how some author's books have like 10 categories listed in them, it's probably because they contact Amazon customer service separately.

6. Create all new files for createspace and Kindle -- Make sure you change your title pages, your headers and footers, and any marketing at the end of the books.  I forgot to swap out the covers in some of the marketing pages. It's not something you'll remember if you don't look at every single page.  And you will have to relink your new paperbacks to the kindle editions...all over again.

7. You also need to create a set of files with different specs if you're Lightning Source/ Ingram Spark. Here's a another tip if you don't have your own barcodes. If you have InDesign, you can get a FREE barcode with price, just by creating a cover template and having them mail it to you. It's print-ready and easy to copy in paste in other files. (Yes, I have InDesign. Yes, I generally suck at graphic design. Yes, I try anyway.) At IngramSpark, they won't accept the barcode but createspace will.

8. Social Network Banners and Photos -- You have to create all new banners for all of your social networks, websites, blogs. And it's just not the front page of your blog, for instance, but if you (like me) used your book covers as a signature, then you have to change every place your old covers are posted -- that is if you don't want people constantly running into the old covers. I don't. But that task will be a little bit every day until it all gets done.

9. Goodreads, Librarything, etc. etc.  -- Don't forget about changing all of your books and covers on the reader sites. On goodreads, let me just forewarn you, ask for help right off the bat. I am a librarian on Goodreads and my files were jerked up for a couple of days. It's best to leave that to the professionals. But I don't have patience to wait for people--therefore I had to do it myself.

10. Your Book Trailer -- You didn't forget about that did you? Yes, you have to change the covers in your book trailers, too. Thank God, I only have ONE and I created it myself. So, I went into the file and just swapped out the cover pictures. For some of you out there, it will require going the person who created your trailer and asking for a revision. Might cost you. Might not.

11. The next on my list of things to do is ordering new a new books supply and new swag. I need bookmarks, postcards, and new retractable banners. I could probably use one for my romance novels and one for my spy thrillers. Definitely the one for spy thrillers for my upcoming speaking engagement.

12. Your Amazon Author Page. Yep. You will have to update that. Most of my books were missing from my Author page, I had to update the trailer link, as well as all the photos posted on the page.

13. You have to renew your books on all other sales sites and upload new files-- Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.

14. You also have to take your old paperbacks down on Createspace and Lightning Source. On Createspace, you have to deselect the sales channels and they won't be delisted for a few days. I'm still waiting on one to come down and it's been almost a week. But there is no option to delete the file. On IngramSpark, you have to contact customer service. I'm still waiting to figure that one out.

15. If you're like me and you tweet links to your books, blogs, website, whatever, make sure they are all current links! Very important.

And I think that's about it. If you ever have questions, ask away. But if you get these items taken care of and scratched off the list, you will be well on your way to enjoying the fruits of your new brand.

Next week I'll get to talk about writing again! Aren't you excited? For tonight, I'm going to read my Writer's Digest which just arrived and learn something about craft so I can talk about it.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 67 -- My Kindle Unlimited far...

Since I'm tired from a ROUGH week in which I've worked myself to the bone so I didn't feel like doing a lot of research today. Given that Amazon announced the payment for this month ($11 million for 1.9 billion pages read), I decided to share my experience with Kindle Unlimited so far. 

For background purposes, I've published 8 books so far. The rights for one book is still with a major publisher. I own the rights to 7 books, all of which are listed on Amazon. Until a few days ago, only 3 (maybe 4) were actually listed in the KDP Select program. 

With the exception of my young adult books, all of my books are over 300 pages, the spy thrillers between 300-350 pages. 

I'm calculating my earnings based on the .006 cents per page, which I'm hoping is the minimum. 

Here's what I'm finding: 

1. I believe, but cannot confirm, that the Kindle Normalized Page Count is actually HIGHER than the actual page count of my books. The volume of pages read for my two most popular books suggests that either a lot more people than I can fathom are reading my books or the count is higher...I think it's the latter. 

2. I like being able to see how fast people read my books. The quick increases in page counts definitely suggest I've written some page turners...and I think this is ideal for this new program. 

3. Because of 1 & 2 I'm going to make a lot more money this month from my Kindle Unlimited reads than I've ever made in the past in this program. A LOT more. Not millions, but more than the pennies I was getting before. :)  It's also not as much as the purchases but at least 10X more than what I was earning in previous months. That's because under the old system I was earning around 1.30 per book read; now, because of the number of pages read (because they are page turners), I now earn between $3 and $6 per book ready (I do have one 3-book set). 

4. My promotions -- free promotions -- have less of an impact on sales and a much greater impact on KU borrows and pages read. It used to be that your free promotion would increase your sales and give them a bump, even if temporary. I have realized a very small boost in actual sales, but the pages read in KU have gone up EXPONENTIALLY. I mean a 5-figure increase for ONE book. That, I believe, has increased borrows for other books  because when you finish my books (I advertise other books at the end of my books). Even further than that, sales of the book still with my publisher have significantly increased (partly because of their price drop to $1.99 after 2-3 years at $9.99 or higher). But also because when people read the first book, they read the follow-up. 

So, as you can see, I'm having a positive experience with Kindle Unlimited, despite hearing a lot of my author friends quit the program and yank their books. 

The winning formula (potentially)? 300-page, page turners seems to be the winning formula for profiting in KU. 

Anybody have any stories to the contrary? I'd love to hear. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 66 -- Ad Talk Tuesday -- Amazon Paperback Giveaways

You won't believe this.

I just fell asleep with my Macbook on my lap. Hands on keyboard. Mid-word.

It's been THAT kind of day. One of those days when you just want to go to sleep now so you can start over tomorrow. These are the pains of working a 9-to-5.

But I couldn't go to sleep before sharing the new marketing tool I discovered today. Maybe you've heard of it.

So, we all know Amazon allows you to giveaway free and discounted ebooks. But did you know you can now set up paperback giveaways on Amazon?

It's true.

If you scroll to the bottom of your paperback page you will see the link at the bottom.

Click the link to set up a giveaway and it takes you to the below page where you can set up a giveaway one of two ways. Random number giveaways or First Come First Served.

Obviously random number giveaways give you the chance to draw more interest because it takes place over a longer period of time.

And you can use Twitter or YouTube to social network right from the page. I haven't been too happy with Amazon over the past two weeks but this kinda makes up for all the hassles I've endured during rebranding.

Stay tuned. I plan to do a book giveaway VERY soon. Ebooks and Paperback. So keep coming back to find out when. 

Have a great evening, folks. See ya tomorrow. 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 65 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday -- An Control Freak's Story 

Today's story is about an author who also took the scenic route to success. She'd wanted to be a writer from the time she was young but didn't for a multitude of reasons -- time, marriage, family, illness -- she let it fall to the wayside. She went to college and got a bachelor's and master's degree in theology--so she was a thinker. And she used all that great knowledge to open up...a photography studio? 
Yes, you read that correctly. A photography studio. See, she knew she was artsy but she didn't embrace her calling. As far as I can tell (it's HARD to find out a lot of background), she's had a number of illnesses and a ton of medical bills. But she was the breadwinner in the family and so ran her photography studio...until it was time to get back to writing. 

She wrote her first book in that genre and decided to self publish. 

Well, at first she went the traditional route, but she pulled the book back and decided to do it on her own. As a business owner, she had a lot of marketing experience so she decided that hers was as good as anyone else's.  She trusted herself and went for it.  She ran her own business. Wrote her own books. Created her own covers. Published her own books. 

Now...she's quite the artiste! So, of course, she created these self-indulgent artsy covers to sell her books. Sound familiar? (i.e., me? Mine weren't artsy but they were self indulgent). But her books didn't sell as well as she hoped they would. *Ahem* As she looked back on it, when people looked at her books, it was hard to tell what genre she was writing in. *Ahem* (Sorry...had to clear my through. Reality got stuck in it.). People had no clue about what they were buying. The back cover copy didn't match the cover -- so who would trust this? Not many people. 

And it worked. 

Within months, she was on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Number ONE, I might add. Bumping off authors like Nora Roberts.

Her name is H.M. Ward. 

She has since gone on to 5 million copies of her books.


And what's more? She's still an indie author. She's been offered traditional deals -- refused! She's been offered movie option deals -- refused! 

Why? Because she's a self-admitted control freak. And she can be...because she's selling A LOT of books. 

And she's still riding high and doing her own thing--writing YA and in that HOT New Adult genre. And paying all of her bills. Yes!! 

What did I learn from her story? 

1. Covers. Covers. Covers. Titles. Titles. Titles. Now I don't YET know whether the right covers will guarantee any significant success. But what I do know is NOT having the right covers that confuse readers to the point they don't know what your books are all about -- you will surely fail. *Ahem. By having the right covers, titles, and back cover copy, you at the very least remove these factors as barriers to success. 

2. Traditional publishing ain't for everyone. Not everyone is looking for a book deal. Not everyone is looking for a movie deal. Given my experience, I don't know which road I would take. What I will say is this--wouldn't it be GREAT to have the choice???  Especially now that I have SO MUCH experience and I've seen so much good and bad in both. 

3. If you're already writing in New Adult, then write on! The field seems very hot.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 64 -- Anything Goes Sunday -- Unusual tips for Better Writing

Since I'm deep in the rebranding cave, I'm sharing a little writing inspiration from Writer's Write. Love this. And as they indicated, these are tips not rules.

See you tomorrow!!

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S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 63 -- Hot Links Saturday

This Week's Top 5 Publishing Link Picks

Lessons Learned While Self Publishing YA 

 These articles always tend to be part advertising for the book BUT there are definitely some good lessons to be learned for publishing in any genre. What she started with that many other authors aren't fortunate enough to have is a MAJOR platform (i.e., MTV). So, take heed. 

The Man Who Discovered Harry Potter

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I couldn't resist sharing this. This is the man who took a chance on an unknown author who ended up selling 450 million books. Umm...certainly worth a listen. 

How YouTube Can Help Self Published Authors Market Their Books

This article is almost counterintuitive to anything I've ever done. I tend to dwell in the shadows both because of my former life AND the fact that I'm a badge-wearing introvert. But for those who like to dibble and dabble with video, this is an interesting article--great marketing tip! 

Kindlepreneurs -- Authors who have taken the publishing world by storm

 This is always a nice little reminder about the possibilities of self publishing -- so many successful authors who caught the wave and are now earning 6 and 7 figures by publishing their own books. Ahhhh... It won't happen for EVERYONE but why not YOU...or ME? Energizing read!!

How to Get Published -- Traditional or Self 

I gear so much of my articles toward self publishing that I forget there are people who still want to go the traditional route. Heck, I might even try it again the way future. So here's an article that covers both avenues. 

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S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blog-athon Day 62 -- Fiction Friday

I'm in the process of lining up an author to spotlight for next week. So this week I thought I'd share the new full covers for the J.J. McCall Series. The paperback versions should be available within the next week. I just got a proof of the first one back today and it looks AWESOME. They totally make me want to go out buy my own books. LOL Why didn't I do this sooner???

This rebranding process is like being in labor. During the most painful parts, you wonder why in hell you ever considered it. When you get the fruits of your labor, you wonder why you didn't do this sooner. LOL All memory of the pain is gone.

The paperbacks will be available within the next week or two (max). I have to do my quality reviews and release them. Then I'm going to do a couple of giveaways. So stay tuned!!

Here's Book 1

Here's. Book 2

Here's Book 3

And here's a proof copy of Book 1

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