Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guest post by author/publisher J.D Scott Are you plugged in?

I'm so excited to have J.D Scott on the blog today! She's an author, publisher and mentor to other women and children. 

Guest Blog Post
Are you plugged in?

As a publisher and author I meet a lot of writers, all in different places in their journey. One thing I have noticed is that those that have persevered are plugged in.
There are rogue writers. You know them, they are the literary loners of the writing world. Often their friends are completely unaware that they have one, or several manuscripts completed. Or maybe they briefly mentioned it in passing hoping someone would enthusiastically volunteer to read it, and were crushed when interest wasn’t peaked.  No one, other than maybe a family member, has ever read their work. They keep it guarded like a dragon does gold, but they are completely unaware of its value. They could be sitting on the next number one best seller, or they could be protecting a rough draft that needs lots and lots of work.
Suddenly, after years of writing in the shadows something stirs and there work goes off to an editor. Before you know it they have self-published and the first feedback they get comes in the form of reviews. If this sounds like a big gamble, it’s because it is. That nugget could start a gold rush, or an avalanche of criticism.
Why not plug in with other writers and readers? One huge hurdle is fear. Handing the book over and asking for opinions can be scary. I know, I have done it myself. The cold hard fact is this, if you are going to be an author you will get critiqued eventually. But that’s okay, because you need it and you should learn to want it.

Why do you need it? A writer sees the whole picture, the entire story with all the details in our heads. Often we get caught up in the rush of writing and don’t realize that we haven’t informed the reader of everything they need to know to follow the plot. These “holes” can be distracting and even detrimental to a story. As writers, we need fresh eyes to make sure we fill in the blanks with words not with images left in our mind’s eye.
Why should you want it? Plain and simple it, will make you a better writer. Learning your strengths and weaknesses are crucial to growing. If you can’t handle constructive criticism, I suggest you get over it quick. You aren’t perfect, no one is, so stop pretending you are and face the truth…you have flaws in your writing. Welcome to the human race!
Where should you plug in? A writers group is the obvious answer. If you can’t find a critique group in your area where you can bring your work to share, read aloud and receive feedback, then start looking online. There are websites, blogs, and lots of interactive places you can post your work and hear what the readers have to say. You can print out your manuscript and pass it around to some beta readers. Hopefully you have at least a few friends that love to read. Ask different people in different age groups so you can get a variety of reactions.
Essentially, take a leap of faith and share the gift you have with others. My recommendation is to share it before it goes to print so it can be the very best work you can do, until the next book. Which with a little help from some friends can be better than the first, and so on.

J.D. Scott Bio

J.D. Scott is the organizing member of Abba’s Writers in Phoenix, Arizona. She leads, instructs, and teaches critiquing and story development to its members.
In 2013, J.D. Scott became part of the team at A Book’s Mind as a Publishing Consultant. She enjoys working alongside writers, helping them fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors.
Before being bit by the writing bug, J.D. Scott spent 20 years working with children as a nanny, mentor, camp counselor, and youth group leader. With a heart for today’s youth, she set out to write books that both entertain and inspire them to rise above the current culture and see their true value.
She continues to live out her life’s passions of writing, publishing, and counseling/mentoring women and children.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

My first experience publishing

This post was originally written for a couple of bloggers/friends of mine over at 
Boricuan Book Worms in celebration of their one year blogaversary and for the release of my latest novel, Wake Up! We're No Longer Dead  

But just in case you missed it,
here you go!

After eight months of pouring my heart into my book, This Morning I Woke Up Dead, I typed the words, The End. The most powerful words I'd ever written. Many emotions overcame me. Joy. Relief. Excitement. I was even a little sad that it was over. I remember, gazing at the words in complete awe. It felt similar to having just had a baby. It took nearly nine months. I fell in love with my book, just as I did with my babies. It was a lot of work. It was painful at times. Knowing my job as as the author was finished, and that I had a responsibility to my beloved characters, Hadley, Dominic, Logan and Emerson, I wanted to share their story with the world.

First of all, you need to know one thing about me, one of my flaws is that I'm impatient. This gets me in trouble from time to time. I'd like to think I've gotten better at 'playing the waiting game' as I've gotten older, but I'd also like to think I don't look a day over twenty five either. Anyhow, in March of 2013, and in my haste to get my book 'out there', I self published.  Mistakenly, I never bothered to write a single inquiry letter to an agent or publishing house - until later on and I'll get to that-  but first, back to my adventures in self publishing. Head first, I dived right in! I created an account on createspace.com and they walked me through the process. It was super easy. My nine year old could do it. This is one reason why the business I am in is so difficult to be a part of. Its flooded and hard to shine amongst all the others.

Anyone and everyone can now be a published author.

After I created my account, I uploaded my document and it was approved in about 48 hours. All that was left was to do was hit the submit button. It was live within a day. Wow! My story, my words are now out there for the world to see!
What a shame no one knew.
And that no one cared.

I sold one copy the first day and I'm pretty sure it was to my brother! A week went by. Two weeks. Three. And I had only sold two copies. Two!

Somewhere along the line, I joined lots of groups on Goodreads.com. In hopes of getting others to read and review my book, I posted in numerous forums saying I was seeking reviews and in exchange I would send them a copy of my book. Luckily, my title and the premise of my story stood out and people took notice. I met a lot of great people; readers, bloggers, and other authors. Most of the people I met, I'm still friends with today. From here I did a few book giveaways on Goodreads and gained more exposure. Over 800 people entered to win a signed copy and nearly all of them added it to their reading list. I found out later that it doesn't necessarily mean they will in fact read my book, let alone buy it.

In late April of 2013 I contacted my local radio and news stations and I got spots on their morning shows. If you ever get the chance to be on the news or the radio, I highly recommend it! What a rush! I was also fortunate enough to do a few book signings in my hometown.

 No one really knew who I was. Most didn't care enough to ask. A few were kind enough to stop and chat with me about my book. All the same I had a blast. By this point in the game, I might have sold in upwards to twenty or thirty books.

The months went on.
And on.
And on.

Besides promoting on my Facebook, Goodreads, twitter, and Pinterest accounts, I was at a loss as to what to do next. I knew I had a good product but what I didn't know was how to get it in the right hands. Not to mention, I was spending more time trying to spread the word than doing what I loved, writing. In the day after my book was finished, I started a sequel but it wasn't getting the attention it deserved. Part of me wanted to throw in the towel. The only thing that kept me going was all the great reviews that kept trickling in. They kept me positive and told me I was on the right path.

Talk about validating!

Another thing I did in my pursuit to becoming noticed, I participated in a lot of Facebook love fest's; I liked others pages and in return they liked mine. It was fun to see the numbers grow from 200 to over 800 in just a few days. And again, I met a lot of people this way. Readers. Authors. Reviewers. Bloggers. And even publishers! Bingo! There it is.

Things changed for me when I liked a new up and coming publishing company, Lavish Publishing LLC. I remember it was a Saturday afternoon and, for whatever reason, I was feeling gutsy. I sent a private message to Lavish; I told her a little about my book. She was intrigued and messaged me back quickly, saying she was interested and wanted to read it! I sent her a copy of my book that minute and by late Sunday night, she emailed me back. She was in love with my vision and wanted to work with me! Little ole' me. Just a stay at home mom, turned author. The feeling was empowering. Thrilling. Exciting. I had no negative emotions about it at all. This is how I knew I was, once again, on the right path.

On November 11th 2013 I signed a contract with Lavish Publishing LLC. It felt great to be a signed author and to no longer be going at things alone. Before my book was re-released, changes were made. Things were revamped. I wrote fifty or so extra pages including a new expanded ending, received a beautiful new cover, a profesional press release was written, a book trailer was made, a virtual book tour was in place, and websites and bloggers were contacted. My reviews, number of fans, and networking circle grew.

So have I hit it big yet?
Do I believe I will?

Do I just sit back and let my publisher do all the work? No. I still do a lot of marketing and networking on my own. But I no longer do it all alone. Michelle and I are a team. She bounces ideas off of me, and always has new things up her sleeve for us to try. The best part is that I have more time to write! Since my first novel was published I've written a prequel and sequel and I'm excited to announce that I just finished the third book! Entitled No One Gets Out Alive coming fall of 2014. It will be my last installment of my Pre-Earth series. I've learned not to worry, and to just do my thing, let things be, and allow things to unfold as they will. My motto is always believe and never give up!
Thanks for reading about my publishing experiences. Best of luck to you and I hope you'll follow your dreams as well!