Tag Archives: novel

The War Against Self-Published Authors

A definite war has been waged against self-published authors. Sentiments that just because you can take pen to paper and hit submit does not make you an author. In a world when anyone with access to internet can submit a book, what exactly defines an author?

There has even been an argument over writer versus author in this article (Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors, by Michael Kozlowski). The overwhelming amount of snobbery was clear, as it would appear the elite once again do not enjoy “indies” trampling their path. To summarize the article in a nutshell, Mr. Kozlowski states, “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” The premise to most of this article is that self-published authors (or writers) have not honed in their craft and publish, for lack of a better word, crap.

Some would say that self-publishing is for those who don’t want to spend years on perfecting their art in an apprenticeship as stated by Ros Barber in this Guardian post (For Me Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. “…you will be very glad that the first novel you wrote was not the first novel you published, because it will now feel embarrassing and amateurish,” he states. Going on to state in one of his sections that “Self-Publishing Can Make You Feel Like a Fool.”

These are not the exceptions. I searched many different terminologies and encountered several different blogs, reports, and editorials waging battle against Self-Published authors. Take into consideration that many articles were first littered with self-proclamations of their success. After reading articles for hours, I, as a self-published author, felt more like a peasant at the house of the tax keeper begging for mercy. My place is not among the elite. Maybe that was their point: put us groveling self-pub writers, because we haven’t yet earned our stripes through multitudes of failure, in our order on the literary food chain. Can you say, accomplished writers eat their young?

By definition a writer is one who writes in a particular text. This can encompass all types of writers: journalists, screenplay, novels, blogs, reviewers, scientific findings, technical, email. An author is a writer of a book, article, or report. Which makes, by definition, a self-published writer an author. Are there variations of authortude? I would say so. As any person who takes a picture, selfie or otherwise, is a photographer, that does not make them a “professional” photographer. By definition, professional is defined as, “one engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”

To recap: anybody who puts pen to paper (or types) is a writer. I wrote an email. I sent a text. A writer who has written a book, article, or report is an author. I am a self-published author. A professional author makes their living from their writings. Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson are professional authors. I am a  registered nurse by profession and an author by passion.

So why the war against self-published authors? If there is one main theme that runs through the disdain of each article it is one I can relate to the most: poorly edited books. Yes writers, just because you can put pen to paper and easily upload to a publishing platform, does not mean you should. I’ve written on this topic several times, and if you read the comments of some of those articles named above, you will see a plethora of readers agree that poorly edited books have turned them off to self-published books forever. They go so far as to research authors before purchasing books, and I do mean some deep research is going into this.

“… we must all strive to put out the best.”

Readers are most certainly looking for the next best thing, and they do not feel that traditional publishing is the be all to end all in books. They are looking for progressive story lines. Stories that break the rules. They are tired of being dictated to by big publishing houses. They want you! But, as a writer looking to author a book you have the duty to produce remarkable well polished work; inside and out. Yes. Yes. Yes. Readers judge a book by a cover.

You don’t need to build upon failures in order to become accomplished, but you do need to know that self-publishing is not free, requires editing, requires the ability to take criticism, requires writes and rewrites until you want to throw your manuscript at a wall and never see it again. Sometimes it takes years and for others it takes months. Do not be that author that hits submit on a non-edited book, that took no criticism prior to publishing, just because the opportunity is there. These faulty books are damaging the reputations of self-published authors.

self-publishing-cartoonWith all that being said, for every article found on the internet bashing indie authors there is an article praising us. There may be a war waged against self-pub, but there is an army of accomplished and professional authors backing up our industry. We are not alone, but we must put our best foot forward. Sometimes our first book is a jumping off point, one that does not need to be published. I’ve worked with several new authors who bled through their  first book then shelved it. That was the learning curve for them, and they knew it wasn’t worthy of publishing, but it was momentum to do better next time, to learn from mistake after mistake. And some get that award winning novel spot on the very first time. We are all different in skills, in stories, in our failures, but we must all strive to put out the best. You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it your best. And remember, you represent a larger group: self-published authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
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Book Sale Advertising Cost

Not many things cause me to jump for joy, but today as I looked at my book stats on Amazon ranking, I noticed Be Still was ranked higher. How did I get sales? Facebook advertising. But that came at a cost of $30.00. One sale with a royalty of $1.75 at the cost of $30. This is marketing! Welcome.

I’m still not being condescending. As an author and entrepreneur, and non-marketing expert, I have had to experiment with several avenues of advertising. Next month I will try Pinterest as I have found that Twitter has not panned out at all (and was very expensive). Another marketer contacted me today stating they could get my books into the hands of 100 bloggers and reviewers and would only cost $3,500. I asked how many they would guarantee would actually leave reviews and/or blog review, they had no answer. Again, buyer beware.

As an independent author, I will continue to try different avenues of marketing. For now I will set my sights on preparing for the 2017 L.A. festival of Books coming up soon. I did find this venue to be great for making contacts and creating an email list. Sales weren’t fantastic, and I didn’t recoup my costs, but the exposure was fantastic.

Sales to date have been good however, much of that has come at a cost of trial and error. I try and bring what I learn back to my blog but I still haven’t found that ultimate trick to “find readers.” If you have advise on Pinterest advertising, I’d love to hear from you.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

But Where Are the Readers?

After publishing, the real hard work begins. Post a link to your newly published book and you’ll get the obligatory responses and purchases from select friends and family. But there are well over three million books in publication, ready to be purchased or downloaded at any given time. What makes yours stand apart?

Of course you’ll need a social media presence, but be ready. Despite social media interaction, which may devour hours of the day, you may receive one or two, Hey wanna book swaps? Great to at least get ratings, maybe readings, perhaps a solid review, but those are few and far in between. Not to mention you are either buying their book or buying yours and gifting it to them. I’ve had sales off FB and Twitter, and lots of to be reads off Goodreads. Most of those well intentions come from other authors looking for reciprocity.

Where do you get the readers? The following? Some companies offer marketing. I have tried several and gained several new authors as followers. But where are the readers? Your best bet is book bloggers, but good luck getting on their reading list any time soon. The good bloggers are backed up at least nine months. I have tried independent small marketing firms, mostly because I like to support the Mom & Pops out there. However, I have been burned by a few of those and recently disputed a fee through PayPal for one such company claiming they will publicize my book to over 15,000 readers on their blog and even more across social media for $14.99/month. I paid and never heard from them again.

Being listed as a writer on Facebook, I quickly realized that I am now targeted for sponsored ads relating to writing, editing, publishing, and anything interconnected to the industry. I look through the ads, do my research, read the comments, look for reviews and find that most authors are greatly displeased with these services. After all, they can only guarantee exposure not sales. Writers have been targeted by pop-up companies and services in mass this year. Authors are a consumer targeted group.

Then there are free books. Many authors boast, and rightfully so, about giving away 10,000 books on a KDP free day. It’s all for exposure and the cost (but no profit) of gaining exposure. And somehow, and this is just me, I feel like the adage: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I know those readers too. Many only look for free books and will not BUY anything indie. Many readers download free books from unknowns and don’t read them (bless the ones that do AND leave reviews…they are few). One friend shows me her Kindle with hundreds of free downloads, but she admits to rarely reading them, and often erases them to free up memory to download new free books. I ask why she downloads them and she proudly says, “I really do have good intentions.”

baseball1Writers beware! You will pour your heart and soul into birthing characters, plot, and story line. Some writers have only a family following. Some have a very small dedicated following. The greater majority sell under twenty books. This is in no way meant to be a downer but an insight into a whole new world that will take your hope and dreams and make you work harder than you ever thought possible. Many writers give-up, because marketing can consume your day, which in turn means you aren’t writing, which causes a bit of writer depression. There is a vicious cycle that consumes even the brightest of eyes. Those that succeed do so by sticking with their talents: write, publish, market, repeat. As Tom Hanks said in a League of Their Own, “If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is  what makes it great.”

The best advice I have come across to date to sell more books is: WRITE MORE BOOKS.

If you have any great advise for indie authors or have a service you’d like reviewed, leave a comment below.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

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NaNoWriMo Hangover

This is the 2nd year of my participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I am pleased to report this is my nine-year-old daughter’s first participation in the Young Writer’s NaNoWriMo, and her 1st win. This year we have won together.

Thousands of writers, young and seasoned, participate in NaNoWriMo every November. The quest for adult writers is to hit 50,000 words in 30 days. 50,000 has been deemed the minimal number of words to consider a novel, as opposed to a novelette or a novella. Authors from across the globe do this one month marathon for many reason, and to each their own.

For myself, I’m one of those people who loves a good challenge, but put accolades to be won in front of my nose and the competitor in me grunts and growls all the way to the finish line. I love trinkets, little charms, even digital, that show my accomplishments. A trophy for starting. A trophy for hitting 10,000 words. A little digital sticker for writing a specified amount of days in a row. Yep, those are my motivators. I should’ve been a Girl Scout, I would’ve been awesome.

nano-2016-winner

50,000 words, although technically a novel, has never been enough words for me. I’m usually fetal and crying on the cutting room floor when an editor says 118,000 words is just too much. “B-b-b-but, they are my babies. I can’t just cut 10 to 18 thousand words!” Well, with that bit of information, my NaNoWriMo marathon is only the beginning. But after one month of prep, one month if strict writing and focus, an awful lot of inappropriate words, and sheer seclusion from anything other than fictional characters, I am spent.

Plain and simple, the marathon for two years in a row has turned into the death of two stories. I’m just not fit to go on for another 50,000 (at least) words. Oye vay. Yet, there are those finish liners, those gold medal winners who go on and push forward through to completion. I salute you, and think there should be a digital NaNoWriMo golden book sticker for those writers whom complete NaNoWriMo AND actually keep writing their book to completion. Maybe then I would finish a marathon book. I do love my accomplishment awards.

Am I the only writer out there that suffers NaNoWriMo hangover? I’d love to hear your comments.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

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Fiction Based on Reality

I’m writing quite different with this one. Adding journal entries at the beginning of each part. These are the real parts. The dark parts that were true enough of how I felt in those days that turned out to be the beginning of 6 years of lies. This is all hindsight, which lends to a bit of self-loathing as can be noted at the end. Maybe people will heed the warnings: don’t piss a writer or you may get killed in her book.

In the days of knowing I was losing Andy I felt like I was losing myself too. There was a dynamic about Andy, something that out shadowed me in every way. My name was lost at marriage. My days ahead I was known as Andy’s wife, and where I should’ve delighted instead I became abhorrent. If I ever I needed the proverbial knight in shining armor, the time had come. Desperate times and desperate situations also meant loss of reasoning and the ability to see clearly. Eddie Sinolach was just what I needed, when I needed someone, so much that the world around me faded to all things Eddie. Nobody should ever close their eyes so tight.

perfect man

Tania L Ramos RN BSN, author

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Of Suns and Moons

I said I would do it. The story is written as fiction. So many aspects changed. But the story writes its self. My favorite lines from chapter one.

One baby, four years, and a million arguments later, we found ourselves caught up in a very bitter divorce. He tried in his way to make it work, but we were opposites, like the sun trying to marry the moon. Sure, we could occupy the same universe, but we would never occupy the same space all the time. The moon would always be jealous of the brilliance of the sun. He was the sun. I was the moon. I pale beside him, and every day I lost myself just a little more until I disappeared. Those eclipses though, those times we were as one…those were amazing.

sun moon

My Dream Never Gave Up On Me

Why I became a writer is the equivalent to asking an artist why they became an artist, or why a baby was born a baby, or why a cat became a cat. It just is. In this day and age of people pointing out we are born with certain choices and born without others the answers become clear that we just are.

I have ventured in many different paths since the age of twelve when I realized there was something different about me. While others kids were out playing for recess, I was inside the classroom playing with geometrical puzzles and holding the best conversations with the voices in my head. It just was; there was never a choice. I turned every and any situation into something dramatic, larger than life, and exciting, and the constant march of voices encouraged me all the way. I may have been an introvert, but I was never alone. For the most part, I assumed I was crazy and kept this to myself.

I failed every English class in high school and had to make them up in my senior year. However, I passed (with flying colors) Journalism, Creative Writing, Summer Youth Writing at USC, Poetry, and any other writing program thrown my way. My counselor scratched his head and asked me to explain. “I hate the boundaries of English class,” I told him. “But writing a story comes so easy.”

I blew away the instructors at the USC Writing program–I was only fourteen when I was asked to go. At any prompt they gave, I would have three full pages of a story in an hour, where others had half a page. I was disqualified from so many writing contests because my stories were too long. The other kids wrote short stories, I was writing sagas. In nineth grade I wrote a full length novel … there were no junior high writing contests for novels. Other kids were winning awards and off to competitions, I was nursing the callouses on my fingers after typing my 300th page. I didn’t need competitions or awards, I only needed to write.

One fateful day my favorite senior class teacher told me that becoming a writer would be the same as trying to be a rock star, famous model or actress. “Nobody ever really makes it,” he said. And so I stopped dreaming…but we are what we are. Over the course of 23 years I continued to “closet” write because I may have given up on my dreams, but my dream never gave up on me.

I became a writer because I had no choice. I was given a gift. And it may have taken me nearly two decades to accept that gift as mine, but it was always there waiting for me. There were always voices, characters, stories playing in my head. There was always a jotting down of ideas on napkins, the back of my hand, my blue jeans, my child’s diaper, and even the fog on the shower door.

I am a writer because I am.
I am a writer because my dream never gave up on me.

Photo art courtesy of: Daniel Mariano

Photo art courtesy of: Daniel Mariano

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author
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