Hello! Hello! I am excited this week! My schedule is full and I’m having to block out time to dedicate it to my different jobs. When you work from home, you never really leave your job. So when you get a half an hour you are overcome with guilt about the four “rush” manuscripts you need to edit for Christmas books that you could/should be doing. There’s always something I need to do. I started to have an anxiety attack this morning, just trying to figure out which task was the most important to work on. Then wrestled with myself for worrying about it on a Sunday anyway. I need to MAKE myself take a day off. And then, of course, I learn things all the time about marketing and how to write better books, and I want to incorporate them in my work. Whether that’s what I was doing or not. That befuddles everything.
I have decided that the problem with my first book was that it was written before I was in the industry and I didn’t know what I was doing, so it’s a very simply-written story. I know it, the reviewers commented on it. So, I thought, now that I am self-published, and I am editing other people’s manuscripts, what’s stopping me from going back and fixing the story then hitting “publish?” Nothing. So This week I started doing that and I’m almost done. But my first book will be completely new when I hit publish this time. I AM REALLY EXCITED.
The other thing I remembered, is that this entire blog series is about the journey to a bestseller, so it doesn’t really matter if I am exactly where the outline is. I promised to tell you the essentials. So let me finish them up for you:
We got through the dark night of the soul, where everything seems to be going wrong for the protagonist, they have no idea how they are going to win or even if they can. Then they get a dream, possibly; or find a hidden journal or map. Maybe they receive a pep talk from someone important to them or get a strange key in the mail, but they decide they can do this. Even though all their plans have turned to crap, they believe that they can win this and they are going to give it their best shot.
Next, have them react. Remember we said after big action scenes, you need to let the characters react to keep the pacing at a good flow. This time they react, though, have them find items they need to defeat the bad guy. They will need to gather help, and guns, and money. Use this time to fill in any plot holes.
Now we are ready for the last essential point: the Final Battle. There is now nothing left to lose, the MC has given up on ever going home, they’re ready to fight back with no hope of winning. Maybe scenes flash before your MC’s eyes and they remember a crucial fact, or something that didn’t make sense before now shows the MC the truth. Or they tap into a power or full knowledge to learn the truth. This is also the time for the love interests to get made up, or mend a misunderstanding, etc. so they can bond and defeat the bad guy together.
Next is the scene where the protagonist wins over the antagonist, but there’s more. To make it impactful, have your protagonist give up something of great value in order to win. i.e. They make a sacrifice. I was thinking of giving Wyll a really cool smooth stone that his mother had given to him on a special trip when she told him about being a hero. He would rub it throughout the book to comfort himself, but in the end, a distraction is needed and he throws the stone to get the bad guys off their trail. It’s a great idea, but I don’t think it’s going to work with the epic conclusion I have planned.
With triumph comes knowledge, so, in your resolution, tie up any loose ends and make sure it is clear to the reader what is being solved. Don’t just make a jumble of concluding sentences that don’t relate to one another. In the beginning you gave us a glimpse of their normal life before the inciting incident turned it upside down. Now give us a little time to see how they function in their new normal. It doesn’t have to be long, but answer any questions that might be left regarding, “when everything is solved, this will happen…” Let us know if that did indeed happen, or if something even better occurred.
So far in the Clockwork Pen, we have just completed the second battle with the bad guys and they are supposed to lose and have it be the protagonist’s fault. But I did a little something different. You will all have to tell me when you read the book if it works, But I had them get most of the prisoners out, but Wyll’s group gets cornered and he convinces a woman to go with him down a storm drain, though she can’t swim, and she doesn’t make it. Am I giving too many spoilers? I don’t know.
I tell you what though, not only am I trying to write a fantastic book, and go back to rewrite my first book, and editing manuscripts for the publisher, I am also trying to market my first two books and get ready for my third launch. MARKETING NEVER STOPS- ITS A FOREVER JOB. The thing that makes me nervous about the launch, is that there are a few promos I would like to run the first week of launch, but they require a minimum of ten reviews.
So, how do you get reviews on a book not published yet? There are much fewer options now that Amazon does not show reviewer emails anymore. Every program out there to find reviewers was looking up the email addresses of reviewers on Amazon. Now, nobody knows how to get real, legal reviews. I mean, if your friends and family review you, aside from screwing up the algorithm for your book, once Amazon connects you as acquaintances, they will remove the review anyway. Which kind of sucks if it took you a very long time to get someone’s review and it’s a great review, and Amazon deletes it. You feel betrayed. I earned that review.
The way most people say sells, for them, is through their newsletter. I have a newsletter, and let me be honest, I NEVER know what to say on it. I can write this blog once a week, no problem, but the newsletter makes me break out in a cold sweat. I changed it from twice a month to once a month, but now I REALLy feel the pressure to give them something of value. And I freeze. Every time. I don’t want to just repeat my blog posts, even though I think I have good info here, they deserve something else since they signed up for the newsletter. What do you write in your newsletter? Give me some tips… PLEASE give me some ideas that aren’t just: be yourself. :^P
Anyway, I got my initial followers from Booksweeps, who is currently under construction. But I paid a reasonable amount (about $35-$55) to enter a giveaway with other books in my genre. Any of the people interested in receiving my book left their email address for me. At the end of the contest, I sent ebooks to the two winners and I was given a list of over 400 emails specifically from people who were interested in my book. It is a super cool deal.
Here’s where that comes into play with reviews. Of course, you can always just ask for reviews, but the number you get back can be deceiving. I try to hook them as fans in the beta round. First, with this last book, when I needed a beta reader or twenty (LOL), I asked my newsletter group and got 23 beta readers volunteer. Now, I hope they all agree to read the manuscript and give me critiques. I have two already. And I have also asked them to write me a review. When I email them to tell them about the book launch in March, I will also send back their review so they can copy/paste it to Amazon.
Now, you have to understand, that although I have nearly 800 people on my newsletter list, only 25% of those people open the emails. This is to be expected. The average is 17% I believe, of expected opens. Can you imagine what I could accomplish if all my newsletter subscribers read and interacted with me? If they all wanted to beta? That would be beyond awesome. Even those 23, will probably dwindle to 10, if I’m lucky. And out of that 10, I know it will be hard to get all of them to post a review by the time I need it. So, what do I do?
I’ve got to ask everyone who reads YA for a review. People who write reviews for blogs, people who look for books to Instagram, school libraries, your babysitter, etc. Basically, ANYONE who reads YA. Let me stress that– anyone who READS YA. Not everyone you know and beg to leave you a review. Let me see if I can explain this…
People will tell you not to have your friends family give you reviews. That is true, and let me tell you why it’s a bad idea. If your mom generally reads cozy mysteries, and your grandma is a Hallmark romance fan, and your dad reads business books on how to do his taxes, and how-to books on carpentry, and your brother reads all horror and your sister-in-law reads women’s fiction, but your book is a young adult fantasy, then if you get each of them to buy your book, the Amazon algorithm goes nuts.
It doesn’t know now if it should list you with other cozy mysteries, or Hallmark romances, or horror, etc. But if it lists your book with ANY of those categories, no one will read it, because it isn’t what they are looking for. Amazon will think, “Hmmm. People who love cozy mysteries must like this book. Then they show your book to those people. However, if a cozy mystery lover sees your Young Adult Fantasy/Romance in their feed, chances are they will not click on it. Or maybe they like your cover and do click. This convinces Amazon that it does belong in this category. But the customer sees what it is and doesn’t buy it, so no sales for you, because you were put in front of the wrong people.
I’d love more ideas. Add your two cents and email me or comment some of your best ideas for finding qualified reviews. Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to do it yet. That will have to be another day. I have also joined sites before, like AuthorsXP (Authors Cross Promotion), where you make your book available to their review teams and the readers pick which books they are going to review. So when one of them requests your book you send it to them over email or send them to your book funnel or whatever, and then hopefully they review your book, on Amazon and/or Goodreads. It sounds like a perfect deal, and she guarantees eight reviews for the price you pay. Unfortunately, out of the nineteen readers who requested my manuscript, only two of them have left me a review. I sent the story to the people with an approx deadline, then sent at least two reminders a few months apart, to no avail. The lady who runs the sight, Amy, is super great to work with, though, and she will try to help where she can.
I just want to show you that there is a realistic part to all this dream marketing. People with services will make you completely realistic promises. Things may sound like a great deal. They may sound perfect, logical, and without room for disaster. But one thing I’m learning is that you can’t count on people. People don’t get the book in their email, or they get it and don’t read it, or they start it and don’t finish it, or they finish and are too lazy to review it. You just have to cast your nets out W-I-D-E and pick up that tiny percent you can. You don’t have to be negative Nancy, but look for the tarnished lining in every promo offer, because there is one. And if you can identify what it is and if its worth your while, you can decide how to spend your marketing money wisely.
There are a million things I want to talk about today, but I need to get some writing done. Mon-Thurs are for editing and consulting, Friday is to write on Clockwork, Saturday is my time to choose, and Sunday I write my blog. And when I’m done, as long as it’s still the weekend, I can do side projects. I have also been painting up a storm lately! I think I will add my new paintings to this blog post in between the paragraphs. So if you’re to the bottom now, you’ve seen almost all of them. What do you think?
I love, love making these paintings. In fact, I promised myself I would paint tomorrow, so I’m excited. It’s a wonderful release for me. I’ve also made hangers for the rear-view mirror, circles for the Christmas tree, heart magnets, ladybug chip clips, lighthouse bookends, and little picture frames. I have a tone of it now and don’t know what to do with them or where to sell them. Would that be tacky to sell at a Christmas time book fair? Really, what do you think?
For those writing along with me, my word count this week is: 47,354. This is the end of the Series: Essential Scenes in Every Story. I’m sorry there were a few weeks in there where I went brainless, but that’s okay. I wanted to write along with the essentials as I told them to you, but I just need to tell you what they are first and then tell you how I did each one.
Speaking of that, I did complete the second battle, that I was talking about earlier. I had my MC decide to take charge and organize the rescue as best as he could, in order to prove to Sira, he wasn’t the loser she thought he was. He’s starting to grow a conscience. He’s starting to care what happens, and after this rescue fails, and he pulls the dead girl from the water, he is overcome. He’s never been this close to death before and it makes him miss his family. It makes him regret the way he’s treated them. He decides he’s ready to go home, and he’s not leaving without Sira, which requires him to find a way to conquer the king so they can leave.
But at this point Sira still has her back turned to him. She tells him she forgives him, but he’s lost any real chance at her now. Remember, with our story, we are just heading into the dark night of the soul. I need some more things to go wrong. Maybe the girl who died was someone important’s daughter and they cause trouble out of their grief. That’s a good idea. I’ll have to think about it.
Since this is the end of the “Essentials” series, I thought I would do a rundown real quick for you of all the points. If you need more explanation, and you go back to read previous posts, but I don’t cover enough, let me know what I should expand upon.
ESSENTIAL SCENES FOR EVERY STORY:
- Ordinary world– starts with a “lack” or a “need” for something or someone. Give us a little time with the character in their own environment so we know what their “norm” is.
- Inciting incident– this is also termed the “call to adventure“
- First plot point– This is where the character thinks, okay, I’m in this now, it’s the point of no return.
- First pinch point– this is the first altercation or battle with the bad guy, and the MC feels devastated when they lose and its the MC’s fault
- Mid point-this is the time of the big reveal where the problems become personal and the MC begins to have a stake in the story and begins the shift from victim to warrior
- Second pinch point– this is the second battle or possibly the first with the bad guy and they will lose again, probably because of the protagonist. They decide to fight and confess their un-returned feelings.
- Dark night of the soul– basically shit hits the fan here. Everything that can go wrong does
- Planning– This wasn’t a point by itself but I think it should be. After everything is so desolate, the characters need to pull back and plan how to win the battle, they need to hunt for guns and manpower, find the map, have the dream, hear the song, whatever is their clue to the truth. Fill in any plot holes
- Final battle– here the good guy wins, gets the romantic interest, wins freedom, etc. etc.
- Resolution– Now that everything is the way the MC wants it, or some things, at least, give us some time with the character in their “New norm.” Let us know how life has changed for the better for them. If it’s a series, things may not end all wrapped up with a bow, or resolved at all. Stories NEED a resolution, however I am also guilty of ending books with cliff-hangers, so… it happens. But try at least on the last book to let us down easy.
Next week I’ll talk about where I am in the Clockwork story, and what I’m doing to market the first two books and what’s happening to launch the third. We’ll get back into making this happen. So, if you’ve taken a week or two off while I’ve been busy, you’d better get your typing fingers ready because we are writing a bestseller here!
Oh! and finally…don’t forget the A-S-K! What does that mean? In all my work trying to find groups of people who might possibly want to review my book, I forget sometimes to just *ASK* readers. I know book swaps among authors gets your reviews deleted by Amazon, so that’s not what I’m suggesting. (Though, if they delete a review you liked, add it to your “editorial reviews” section. They can’t take it down from there.) But when you are chatting in a group of your genre’s readers, ASK if anyone wants to review your book. It helps if you offer an incentive, but beware here as well, Amazon will delete reviews that have been “bought” with a prize, or a contest, etc. And I have sent free swag to “reviewers” even overseas, that people have never sent me a review for. Which really bites, but that’s the way it goes.
Just keep asking. And if any of you have not yet read my trilogy, I would LOVE your review.
So…if you read YA fantasy/romance, give me a few days to upload the new manuscript (It’ll definitely be done by next weekend) and purchase one of the Freedom Fight Trilogy books!
The Key of F www.amazom.com/dp/B07XWVSH2B $0.99
The Queen’s Heart www.amazon.com/dp/B07XWTH6ZB $2.99
(out with betas now) Here is the first review for The Final Rescue:
“If you have read books 1 and 2 of the Freedom Fight Trilogy then you have been waiting with baited breath for this book. If not, then you might just want to read them after this one. Picking up where Queen of Hearts left you, It takes you through some intense emotions as the heroes Keron and Fale prepare for the final rescue of Fale’s people. There is training, lots of magic, lots of intrigue and lots of battling. There are plenty of people who meet them along their journey and every one they meet helps them in some way. There is a magical beast or two to add more suspense to the story. Lots of action and lots of love too. I found that I could not put down the book once I started reading it. It is so packed with action that there was no place where I could say, “Ok time for bed now. I’ll finish it tomorrow.” A must read. The trilogy would make a wonderful gift for a young reader . My granddaughter loved the series too.”
~ Elouise Lord
Well, have a great week, keep writing, and share all your tips with me!!