Why my book title had to change…

Hi, guys!

I finally announced the official title for World for the Broken this past week, and today, I thought I’d explain why I changed the title, to begin with.

Originally, World for the Broken was called After.

It was simple and easy to remember. It fit with the post-apocalyptic theme as well as the themes of coping and resilience.

But then the After series by Anna Todd hit it big. Then, it became controversial and absolutely blew up.

And I knew my novel would be buried under the avalanche of posts about her books.

I wen’t back and forth on whether to change my title or not. I toyed with the idea of keeping the title simply to have it show up in the same searches, but the people looking for her books (contemporary romance, possibly YA)…probably aren’t looking for a visceral, intensely dark post-apocalyptic romance.

Then, when I came up with World for the Broken, I fell in love with it. This title stands out quite a bit more. Obviously, it still fits the post-apocalyptic narrative.

And I’m so glad I changed it.

I had a similar thing happen with Salt and Silver. Not exactly the same, because the title wasn’t exactly the same. And the other book has yet to be released.

But I want my books to be unique, just like any other author.

So, here are a few quick tricks for making sure you have a good title for your book.

First of all, get feedback.

Just like every other aspect of writing, working in a vacuum without any outside influence isn’t the best idea. You need more eyes on your work and more opinions than just your own.

If you have a few potential titles in mind, don’t be afraid to ask other writers or perhaps book club members for their opinion. They know books. Of course, it’s best if they know the genre you’re working in, but ask away.

Second, think about which one embodies your book best. Genre, themes, and all.

Abandon catchy and trendy for just a second and dare to twist words around for effect. Words are so versatile. Double meanings abound. Maybe use a contradictory double meaning to your benefit, if both meanings fit your book.

Swap words around. Try synonyms. Try different variations of whatever you’ve come up with.

Okay. It’s time to go back for the catchy, trendy shit. Consider it briefly. After all, trends are trendy for a reason. People like them. And they work. Look at titles within your genre. Is there a pattern that tends to pop up a lot?

There are a lot of books out there that are “blank of blank” (City of Ember, Crown of Conspiracy, House of Night). Lots of book titles lately have just been a list of three things in the book, often with the first two obviously fitting together but the third being “random.”

Do those formats fit your book? If they do, use the shit out of them.

They obviously work.

Now, the advice lots of writers hate when it comes to the actual book, itself. Cut unnecessary words. For the love of everything good, there’s a reason book titles aren’t usually a full paragraph. It’s too hard to remember and no one wants to type a 14 word title into a search bar to pull up a book they heard about and were sorta interested in but wanted to look it up to learn more about it.

There’s a good chance that’ll drive away buyers that were on the fence.

Last but certainly not least, type it into amazon or google. Make sure there aren’t an absolute fuck ton of results. If there are, I don’t care how good your title is…you probably need to change it.

If a couple hundred things come up, your brand new book is not going to be at the top of the results. Not without a shit load of work on search engine optimization, a ton of build up before launch, and probably some paid ads.

Believe me.

I didn’t think about it when I titled my novella, Annabelle, and it DOES NOT show up unless it’s typed in with my first and last name.

Because…well, you know. Ghosty-possession movies or something. Some doll. I don’t know. Lol. I don’t watch horror movies often, so I haven’t watched them.

Anyway.

Picking a title is hard. I know.

But it’s important. Which means it’s worth doing it well.

Now, to hold myself accountable for the past week…

I’ve been alternating between knocking out some more edits on Where Darkness Leads and writing my new novel. I think I wrote about…3,000 words? So, nowhere near as much as I wanted to. That was only two good writing sessions.

But I have to keep editing so I can get these other books out. Lol.

I also sketched a quick map for the new story, made a gif and a trailer for The Gem of Meruna. I’ll be unveiling the trailer soon. I already posted the non-looped video from the gif.

All in all, not a bad week.

For now though, I’m exhausted. Work was…well, exhausting. Lol. It’s time for me to sign off and get some sleep.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A different path, perhaps?

Hi, guys!

So, I figured I’d get back to writing related topics today. I don’t know if you guys will be relieved or disappointed by that (let me know in the comments below), but that’s what’s happening.

I been trying to make a pretty important decision regarding publication, this week. I think I’m going to publish my books through Ingram Spark instead of KDP.

Now, that may not sound like it would be make a difference to anyone but me. But it does mean something important to readers.

Ingram Spark allows the option of… *drum roll* …

Hard back books!

KDP doesn’t have that. At all.

Ingram Spark also allows me to do a couple different types of ebooks. So basically, I can offer my book in more formats, so people can read it however they want. Now, to save myself some money, I’ll be using KDP specifically for the Kindle ebook.

That brings me to the impact for me.

Amazon KDP generates its own ISBNs and Barcodes…for free.

Ingram Spark does not provide free ISBNs. And let me tell you, they aren’t cheap. I never expected a little number on the back of the book to cost so much.

But, at the end of the day, it’s an investment in the career I want, an investment in my dream. And if that’s what it takes to get my book out in every format (fucking hard back books, guys!), then so be it.

Another plus side to Ingram is that they offer preorder for all formats. Amazon KDP only allows preorder on ebook. :/

Which is dumb.

Ingram Spark also seems to concentrate more on expanded distribution (bookstores, libraries, etc.), which is nice.

With Kindle, it’s just kinda…there. Lol. Just an afterthought. It’s an Amazon company after all, and brick and mortar stores are the competition.

Amazon keeping their competitors afloat by having their stuff sold in stores? Stores keeping their competition afloat by selling Amazon stuff? Not super likely.

So, while this did just become a much more expensive endeavor, I’m psyched to get a hard back option for my books.

And I’m glad I made this decision now, because I’m almost done with the final edits of Soul Bearer.

I’m within 20 pages of the end!

Granted, there’s an adjustment that I need to make which may add a page or two, but still!

It’s so close!

I got to this point a couple days ago, but I had 12 hour shifts both days since. They were only 12 hours apart, so I had to go to the store, eat, take care of animals, shower, and sleep. I never get to do book stuff on weekends.

(Side note, don’t work in a tire factory over the summer. It’s fucking miserable.)

So, all day at work, today and yesterday, my head was stuck in the ending of my book, circling, waiting, begging me to get back to it…

And, tomorrow afternoon (I still have yet to sleep since getting off work and have to run errands in the morning), I’ll have it finished.

Then, I just have to do formatting, make final adjustments to the cover, and learn how to navigate a new publishing process. Lol.

No big deal. Just a bunch of shit that’s gonna be difficult and tedious.

The formatting is what I’m looking forward to the least. KDP has these helpful little plug-ins for Word…Idk if Ingram has that. We’ll see what happens, there. Lol. But I’ll figure it out.

I always do.

Anyway, after that, I’ll be looking for ARC readers. (I have a list of reviewers to ask.) Then, I need swag for giveaways.

Yeah, you heard (saw) that right. Every book release will have giveaways. I’ll choose winners from IG, FB, and from my email subscriber list. (Participate/subscribe on all three platforms for extra chances to win.) A grand prize winner will be selected from my subscribers, btw. So make sure you subscribe. Don’t forget. (It’s down at the bottom of the page, btw. Lol.)

I’ll announce more details on the prizes (and subscriber grand prize) closer to time.

So, if you’re an indie author trying to decide between the two, maybe this will help. Maybe not. You may like ebook better, and not care about hard back books at all. Maybe you don’t want to buy your own ISBN for your book, which makes complete sense.

You may have stock in Amazon. I don’t freaking know. Lol.

If my post wasn’t thorough enough for you, or didn’t hit the points you were curious about, there are plenty of reviews out there.

But for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

It’s a Trap!

Hello, all!

So, you’re probably going to think I’m being wishy-washy, but I swear, I’m not. I’m going to have to edit The Gem of Meruna.

Now, hear me out.

Last week, I said I would only edit it if I found a lot of grammar errors or problems, and I cannot, in good conscience, rerelease it in its current state.

Not that it’s bad, but I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing over the past five years, and the state this book is in just…falls way short of the mark.

For those of you who’ve read it, don’t worry. The story isn’t changing. It’s just sentence structure and stuff like that. It needs tightened up. Honestly, it could probably stand to lose about 5,000 words, over all, just by fixing the lengthy sentences and losing the few instances of passive voice.

But this is a good thing.

It means that I’m learning more and more about writing as time goes by.

Which, in my opinion, is how you tell a good writer from a bad one. Good writers keep trying to improve.

Bad ones…think they don’t need to. They think their work is the best in existence, a gift to the world, and to edit or tweak it, or change their process at all is tantamount to blasphemy.

But that’s bullshit.

Bad writers can write good stories, and good writers can write bad stories. That’s not what I’m getting at, here.

The day you stop learning and growing as a writer (or as a person) is the day that you become a bad writer. Even if your stuff is gold, there is always room for improvement or experimentation.

And there is always room for editing.

Of course, at some point, you have to pull the trigger, and release your work upon the world, but it needs polished, first. I’ve read several books lately that could have stood to undergo one or two, or five, more rounds of edits. (I won’t name them, because I’m not here to trash talk other writers. My point is…edit your fucking books. Lol.)

Anyway, this will be the last rerelease I do. Any future books will be edited, published, and left the fuck alone.

The first time around for Meruna was a train wreck, though. Lol. (And I need it rereleased under my married name so it’ll be on my Amazon Author page with the rest of my books.)

You see, I went through a vanity press, because I didn’t know better. At that point, I didn’t know what that meant. I assumed it was a normal publisher, and that everything they did was, well, normal.

But…no.

Not at all.

They did no professional edit.

I arranged the cover art myself. (A.K.A. My husband, an incredibly talented artist, did it.) A traditional publisher (what I thought I was doing) would have done editing and had a cover done by their own artists.

They formatted and printed the book, and charged me for their services. Since I didn’t know that isn’t how the publishing industry is supposed to work, I gladly signed and paid.

Then, I regretted it when…nothing happened.

Because, unless I paid them more money, they weren’t about to do any marketing.

All this was in the contract, of course, making it completely legal.

But I didn’t know, at the time, that that wasn’t how it would have happened with a traditional publisher.

The big difference is that traditional publishers and self publishers make their money off sales.

Vanity presses make their money off the authors.

Which is why I still get calls from them, five and a half years later, trying to talk me into paying them for more (subpar) marketing, primarily by talking over me and not letting me get a word in edgewise.

The worst part is that…once I realized my mistake, I was super embarrassed. I didn’t know any better. I was just a noob, trying to get a book published. But I was mortified. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was terrified that someone would ask how I got published. But I should’ve talked about it.

I’m certainly not the only person who’s done this. I know of others who’ve had much MUCH worse experiences with vanity presses than I had. So, I’m definitely not alone in this. I could have been commiserating with them so much sooner, helping myself to feel less awful about it, and actually dealing with the problem.

Now, this isn’t where I intended to go with this blog, but I think people need to know that vanity presses are not the same as self or traditional publishers. People need to know how/why they’re different. (I’ll talk about what I was going to talk about next week.)

So, learn from my mistake.

If a publisher requires money upfront, run.

They should pay you, not the other way around.

Of course, if you self publish, the cost of editing, cover design, formatting, and a copyright is on you. Some of those things, you can do yourself, but the cost is on you regardless. But the printing and distribution costs come out of the purchase price of the book. Not your pocket.

Keep that in mind.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S. – Fun fact, for those of you who came here via my IG or FB…The picture I chose for this is especially fitting for me this week. I got bit by either a tick carrying lyme disease or a brown recluse spider…eight goddamn times. Two of the bites did that whole…bullseye thing. Red ring with bruising around the outside (one the size of a fruit can, and the other the size of a half dollar coin). Feels great…

Antibiotics are helping, though. So, yeah.

But yeah, the two things have the same symptoms, apparently, and look pretty similar. The main difference is that tick bites usually have a tick in them, and brown recluse bites usually happen in pairs (at most) and turn necrotic. None of those things happened. I found no tick. There was no necrosis.

So…who fucking knows. All I know is that I want to rip the skin off my legs to stop them from itching. Yay!

Bye.

Lol.

*waves*

Decisions…

Hello, all!

Since I know the aforementioned announcement is what likely brought most of you here, I will, of course, keep you waiting.

Lol.

After all, what writer in their write (see what I did there?) mind would give away the goods at the beginning?

None. Not a single one.

So, I’ll start with a progress report. The rewrite of the first half of Salt and Silver is done, and I have officially moved forward into writing the rest of the story. This supernatural romance has taken a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. But I love it.

When I started the rewrite, I had roughly 40,000 words across 100 pages (ish). Now, I have 49,547 words over the course of 128 pages. 🙂

I’m pretty happy with how it’s going, and I’m super excited to keep pushing forward.

I also managed to do the alchemy photo shoot I mentioned last week. If you haven’t seen it, head over to my Instagram or my Facebook author page, and check it out. (Links for both are at the absolute bottom of any page of my website.)

Anyway, I really like how it turned out. It took so long to do, but that’s okay. The sigils on the necklaces (which I sculpted and painted) took about an hour and a half to make, and turned out awesome. Set up for the shoot took about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, and the shoot itself took maybe an hour?

But it really brought Ness’ potion making livelihood right into my living room (literally). It brought her to life even more than she already was. In doing so, it contributed to Salt and Silver in a more…ambiguous way. Because now, I’ve been in her “home.” Lol.

Now, though, to bring this around almost to the main topic.

Over the past week, I’ve been doing more research into the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Some of these things are obvious.

Traditional publishing means you have teams of professionals doing some of the work for you, which is nice, especially when it comes to marketing (which I suck at). It also means unbearably long wait times.

The query/submission stage of any book project is maddening. Each agent or publisher has their own list of things they want you to write about the book to send along with the manuscript, and they all have their own formatting requirements.

Some want a one sentence summary, including the ending, of the story you’ve just spent 70,000 to 120,000 words telling (which is incredibly difficult), along with a query letter, and the first three chapters of the manuscript. Another might want a three page synopsis, a cover letter (yes, this is different from a query letter, though in very small ways), and the whole manuscript. Others want all of the above, as well as market research, and five year plans.

And every single submission item, be it a one sentence summary, a query letter, or a synopsis, is both an art and a science, in and of itself.

Needless to say, submitting to one agent or publisher can take hours. And all of this is after you’ve compiled a list of people to submit to who are, at that exact moment in time, accepting unagented submissions in that genre, with no theme or subject matter restrictions which would eliminate your work.

Then, you get to wait.

Anywhere from two weeks to an entire year.

Some of them require that you submit nowhere else while they consider it.

So a manuscript can just be placed on hold in someone’s inbox for a year, and you can’t do a thing with it.

Then, there’s the fact that offers are only made on 1-2% of submissions at any given publisher…

All told, the submission process is riddled with grueling hours in front of a screen and waiting and rejections and waiting and heartache and yes…more waiting.

Then, more rejections…

And, for a while, I thought it would be worth it.

Not for the prestige of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Don’t get me wrong, getting an offer for a book deal would be fantastic. The validation of it would be magnificent.

But I just kind of assumed it would be better. I assumed that my work would do better with a traditional publisher, and that the money would be better, thus I’d be able to be a full time author much faster.

Over the course of my research this week, though…I discovered that this isn’t really the case. I was watching a video on Youtube by Alexa Donne called Traditional Publishing Book Money 101, and learned some rather shocking things about the publishing industry.

Apparently, advances (predicted royalties paid ahead of time in good faith) are paid out over the course of a couple years, not all at once. As of 2017 (when she made the video), the average advance was between $1,000 and $10,000. Sounds good, right?

Except, that it’s then halved by agent fees and taxes (which are 40%, because Uncle Sam treats it as freelance/contractor work). So…$500 to $5,000…over the course of a couple years…

Not quite quit your day job money.

And since it takes so long to get a book deal, often years, there aren’t going to be many of those small checks coming in.

So…it seems…far less worth it to wait out the submission process.

Now, self-publishing can work very well for people who write quality books quickly, and who can market themselves.

I suck at marketing, but I learn fast.

And I write quickly, with high standards.

So, if you haven’t guessed where this is leading, I’ve decided to stop putting time into submissions. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the final rounds of edits, formatting, arranging cover art, and self-publishing.

I’ll be re-releasing The Gem of Meruna (likely first, because it needs updated and I can assign a lower price on kdp than that assigned by the original publisher).

Then, I have three standalone novels to release. Where Darkness Leads is dark fantasy romance. Soul Bearer is sword and sorcery/fantasy romance. After is post-apocalyptic, and a bit of a roller coaster.

By the time all that is done, I hope to have Salt and Silver done, as well as The Regonia Chronicles. And the thriller I got an idea for over the past week, tentatively called Second to None. Plus all the other ideas I have, and the stories I’ve begun, but haven’t had time to finish just yet.

So, long story short, the decision to self-publish is a very exciting one.

After and Soul Bearer are each still submitted to a couple agents and publishers, so, of course, I’ll await their responses before moving forward with this. It wouldn’t make sense to throw away the work of submitting, my time, and the time of the people reading through them.

But, given the 1-2% odds, they’ll likely be self-published. Lol.

Anyway, the future looks rather promising. I’ve got a lot to do, and I can only hope that my day job doesn’t mandate me for too much overtime. :/

But, for now, I’d better be going. I’m off work tomorrow, but I have an unfortunately early morning calling my name.

So…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.