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You Sit Down to Write… and “Got Nothing.”

nothingToday I was given a gift. My husband took my son to the beach and my daughter just wanted to chill out and watch Netflix all morning. I was given hours to simply write and work on my latest WIP, Book #3 in the Kelsey Porter series.

Well, I sat in my favorite writing spot (on my bed with the laptop on a mini desk on my lap) and opened the story to the latest part, put my fingers on the keyboard and…. nothing. I stared at the screen in shock. Nothing? I couldn’t have nothing – I had three hours to write and I couldn’t come up with anything. I couldn’t waste this precious time!

But waste it I was starting to do. I wrote a line, deleted it and then was so bummed I clicked on Twitter to complain about my ridiculous first world problems.

My tweet: My family just gave me a full hour to write – it’s quiet, in my favorite spot, been staring at the screen for 10 minutes. I got nothing!

And then I sat there waiting for responses, because I still had nothing and what better way to waste time then stare at twitter and wait for some of my 29K followers to respond. True to form, my lovely twitter peeps didn’t disappoint. Some of the best replies?

@elysesalpeter Just keep your butt in the chair & stay off twitter! It’ll come.
@elysesalpeter i usually watch the documentary channel for a book inspiration?
@elysesalpeter Blow something up. Start a fire. Give your characters a different mind set. Always works for me.

So what did I do? I listened to my tweeps. I got off twitter, I opened the WIP and I simply started writing an argument between two main characters, then someone went missing and then I added a scene about how two characters felt about each other… I don’t know if they are any good, but after having nothing all morning, I cranked out over 2,500 words after that.

We all go through moments when we “got nothing.” I think the trick is to “find something out of nothing” and just muddle through. To be honest, that’s what a first draft is all about. We shouldn’t stress about first drafts. They’re supposed to be rough, garbage, stepped on, ripped apart. The trick is to just get the story down and the framework laid.

So this post goes out to my twitter peeps who chimed in and gave me some cool advice. You guys rock!

So what do you do when “you got nothing?”

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Authors, Really, Don’t Do These Things….

postNow, before I begin this post, I need to declare that I’ve probably committed a few of these less blatant faux pas myself during my start in publishing. To a new author, you think it’s not quite a big deal, but they really are. The more you’re immersed in the publishing social media industry, the more you learn the do’s and dont’s. What irks me are not the newbies, but the people who have been publishing for years who continue to make these mistakes or these “not cool” actions. I’ve spoken to authors directly about it and many of them have listed why they do them. One told me “they were too lazy to do anything else.” Another told me that they were too desperate and figured “why not?”

Well, the why not and too lazy won’t help any of us be successful and more than that, it won’t help us with our other fellow authors helping us. So here are some things I see, some of my biggest pet peeves. If you see yourself consistently doing any of these, please just take a moment and rethink them.

#1) For goodness sake, on your author page, please don’t guilt readers, friends or family to buy your book. Please don’t tell everyone you’re broke and that you need to pay your bills and it would really help if you could purchase a book for them. This is your public author page. Be professional and respectful. It’s one thing to suggest they buy your book and explain you’ve just launched it and would love their support, or ask for reviews, promote blogs and other things, but when you start resorting to guilt to purchase? Not cool and you certainly won’t get a fan base invested in your work.

#2) Please don’t go to another author’s page and promote YOUR book or services. (someone did it to me yesterday – an author I actually know on social media) You want to tell an author you now do book covers? Then email them or IM them – don’t go to their author page and put a big photo of YOUR book or services on their page. Just not cool and you can be sure I’ll delete it pronto. That page is mine. Meaning, if I want to promote another author, I do it because “I” want to, not because someone else used my platform to meet new people.

#3) Please don’t spam your twitter followers with ONLY “Buy my book” tweets or a post about your book. Or for that matter, just post other people’s book tweets. It’s lovely of you to do that to support them, but you want to be known for more than just being a book spammer. Follow some conversations, ask questions, retweet other people. Work with the hashtags. Anything, but just spamming. Talk to people. You must do this if you wish to have more engaged fans.

#4) Please don’t ask someone to retweet your book if you’ve NEVER once done anything for them. If you don’t speak to these people ever, you don’t buy their book, you don’t promote them, you don’t do a review, don’t expect them to just do a dedicated campaign for you. And then if they don’t do this “dedicated campaign,” don’t then stalk them on social media and ask them WHY they haven’t looked at your book yet. Trust me, my reading list for author friends, which is 15 deep, comes first. And another thing, when I read a friend’s book, I do not expect them to buy and read mine just out of courtesy. I chose to read that book. My time is so limited between work, family, commuting, and my own writing that I simply have no time.

#5) In the same vein, please don’t ask another author to do anything for you on twitter if you don’t even follow them back. I have so many authors asking me to do things for them, retweet their books, BUY a book, review a book, yet they don’t follow me and have never once engaged me, promoted me or listed me. Am I petty? No, it’s a courtesy. IM me on the side, go to my web page and seek me out and email me if you have a question – but tagging me so my followers see you just to promote yourself? Not cool. I’ll respond much better privately, trust me.

#6) Please don’t send me publicly anything dirty, racist or ultra religious. Even if it’s a joke and you think the joke is funny and I’ll enjoy it. I have a great sense of humor… but PRIVATELY. But, if it’s on my public feed, I’ll delete or block it. My son saw something really lewd on my feed last night as I was doing a tweet and when I checked it, this photo was right below it. He was appalled and fled the room. I was utterly embarrassed as I stared at the blatant close-up of a woman’s naked “hooha” being “serviced.” I had to assure my son that it wasn’t my post. He didn’t quite believe me thinking that if it was on my computer, it must be mine. BLOCKED and REPORTED.

#5) Lastly, this is a biggie on Facebook and it bothers me the most: FOLLOW THE RULES ON A PAGE. If it is a tweeting page, please make sure MOST of your requests are tweets. If it is a likes page, make sure most of the requests are likes. If it is a horror blog and they don’t allow book promotions – DON’T PROMOTE YOUR HORROR BOOK. It’s one thing if authors ask other authors on those pages occasionally to help them do something because they’ve become friends and they’ve all supported each other, but it’s something else when people continually abuse the rules on a page for their own self promotion yet the admins are too kind to do anything about it.

Maybe I’m just overly sensitive. Maybe I’m a just a stickler for rules. But, I do think with the internet being so impersonal we must put the “personal” back into it.

Thoughts?

You Found an Error in your Manuscript… and it’s been LIVE for a Year…

I’m going to tell you a little story. Last Friday I had a mini-meltdown. No, seriously. There was ranting and raving. I think I may have thrown something… there were even a few tears. I questioned why I even bother trying to write and publish and the sheer impossibility of ever being able to put something out that’s error-free.

You see, when you’re indie-published, you have this overwhelming need to make sure everything you do is “perfect.” We don’t have the resources of a huge publishing house, their personnel list of umpteen copy editors, proofers, etc… we must do everything ourselves, we must hire our own editors and proofers, then work with beta readers, then possibly even beg and plead with friends, to help proof our books. I sometimes feel like it’s all just too overwhelming, to be honest.

So, back to the meltdown… It all started with me trying to figure out what makes people want to buy my novels. I’m on a lot of social media outlets and trying different things on different sites. I tackled instagram this month and started a hashtag contest for readers to upload my novel THE HUNT FOR XANADU with the hashtag #xanaduquest, and they will be entered to win one of five signed hard covers of the next novel in the series, THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB. It’s been going well so far and I made a “Fan Shout-Out” page on my website at http://www.elysesalpeter.com if you’d like to check it out.

So, on Friday, I copy/pasted the first two paragraphs of Chapter One of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, loaded it to Paint, adjusted it and put it on instagram. I was thinking it would be a cool way to entice people to read the first part of the novel and maybe interest them enough to want to read more. Here’s what I posted:

xanaduinstagram

I then promoted it on twitter, google+ and then to my author groups on FB. Well, lo and behold “eagle-eye” editing/proofer friend, Bob Nailor, side emailed me and told me laughingly that I had a few edit problems with this paragraph. I went “stone cold.” Edit problems? How can there possibly be any edit problems? I’ve had this book out for over a year and it’s been scanned through meticulously. He HAD TO BE WRONG.

But he wasn’t. Can you see the errors above? I couldn’t. It actually took me THREE reads to find what Bob was talking about – and he even told me what they were. Apparently there should be a comma after the word “drugged” but more importantly, there should be the word “be” after “reckoning it would” – which I obviously missed. Not to mention I see a spacing issue, too, between “an impressive.” But you know what kills me? What made me have my mini-meltdown? I published this book December of 2013. I had an editor, a proofer and six people sifted through it before it went live. I read it myself easily fifteen times. I had six updates I put on both Kindle and Createspace because people kept finding errors. But no one found this… until Friday. No one found this error IN THE FIRST CHAPTER, until Friday. The mini-meltdown happened for about twenty-five minutes where I decided I was going to quit writing, that I was an utter hack and maybe the books hadn’t gotten traction because they are “riddled” with mistakes.

And then my writing friends talked me down. My book isn’t RIDDLED with mistakes. It’s missing a “be” and it’s one of those words the mind actually adds as you’re reading the copy. Most people probably never even noticed. (well, unless you’re Bob Nailor). I’ve calmed down, fixed the document and re-uploaded the fixed document to both kindle and createspace – I’ll have to figure out how to fix the copy on ibooks.

What I learned? You can’t be perfect. I can’t tell you how many errors I find in mainstream published books coming out of big publishing houses, but yet as Indie Authors, we feel this need for perfection and I wonder if I simply have to stop expecting myself to be perfect, because I obviously am not. I may be putting too much stress on myself. Mistakes happen, and we are all human. The good news is since I am indie-published, I have the control to be able to fix these errors when I find them. If I had a mainstream published book, it would not be as easy. In less than 25 minutes I re-uploaded the novel without these mistakes and I moved on with my life… (of course, I try not to cringe, knowing how many people purchased my novel with this mistake, and the hard copies sitting in my closet that I use for book signings have this mistake, but what’s done is done)

FYI – Do you need another pair of eyeballs to proof your work? Maybe give Bob a call – he’s also a proof-reader, author and editor by trade, and obviously a good one. You can reach him here and he’s very reasonable: http://www.bobnailor.com/index_b.php?type=b

And, if you’d like a copy of the novel WITHOUT THESE ERRORS, (sigh), feel free to get it here: http://amzn.to/1JXHtul and hey, come join the contest – I’m giving away five signed hard copies of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB. It’s at the formatter right now. Launch date: 2/28. I’m trying not to obsess what mistakes I possibly missed in THAT. Sigh…

How would you like to win one of 5 signed copies of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB?

The Hunt for Xanadu - Book #1 in the Kelsey Porter Series

The Hunt for Xanadu – Book #1 in the Kelsey Porter Series

Hello lovely readers,

Here’s something totally fun! How would you like to be one of five lucky winners to win a signed hard copy of Book #2 in the Kelsey Porter series? I’m launching THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB on February 28th and doing my first Instagram/Twitter contest to kick it off. All you have to do is upload a snapshot of yourself holding a copy of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, or of you with the cover showing on your Ipad or Phone and UPLOAD it to Instagram and/or Twitter with the Hashtag #xanaduquest Don’t forget the hashtag #xanaduquest as that’s how I’ll find you. I’ll keep a record of all the names and FIVE people will win a signed hard copy of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB in a random drawing. Contest ends on 2/21/15.

Don’t have an instagram or twitter acct? Then feel free to flood my Facebook author page at http://www.facebook.com/elysesalpeterauthor with the photo and hashtag and TAG me! Good Luck! (and yes, I’ll ship to any winner, wherever they live throughout the world)

Want your photo up on my website at http://www.elysesalpeter.com? Check out my “FAN SHOUT OUT” of folks who have already given me their approval to put their photos up. Let me know if it’s cool for you and you, too, can be on my webpage.

Don’t have a hard copy or ebook yet of THE HUNT FOR XANADU? Come on over and grab one here on amazon at:

US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1CEvEab
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Cp2awz

Twenty-two year old Kelsey Porter has dedicated her life to avenging the death of her parents, murdered in their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. Before she can locate the murderers, she has to discover their motives for the brutal crime and finds herself at the epicenter of a Buddhist mystery as old as time. With the help of her companion, Detective Desmond Gisborne, she hunts the killers across the globe and discovers a darkness in her spiritual past that tests the very limits of her soul. Soon she realizes that it is not she who is doing the hunting, but the one being hunted. Kelsey must find a way to survive, while ancient demons attempt to destroy her.

Come join the fun, I’d love to see you and feel free to follow me here:

Twitter: @elysesalpeter

Instagram: elysesalpeter

http://www.facebook.com/elysesalpeterauthor (give a like to the page)

http://www.elysesalpeter.com for more details.

Soooo, want to hear what THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB is about? Where XANADU took you to Tibet, QUEST is taking you to…. EGYPT!

On the heels of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, Kelsey returns from Tibet with Desmond to begin a new life in New York City. But peace is not to come to her. One night, a stranger appears at her door with a note from a man from her past, begging for her aid. It involves her parents and Kelsey leaves for Egypt to learn the truth. But the truth is more than she bargained for. What secrets did her parents hide? Why is she now plagued with odd aches and pains and why is she having nightmares again? Kelsey must find answers and the only way to get them is to confront her demons and solve the ultimate mystery: The Quest of the Empty Tomb.

See you all on social media!

Stop Getting Upset When You’re Unfollowed on Twitter…

twitterunfollowWhen you are new to social media, and specifically twitter, it’s all about gaining followers. The question begs, WHY are you following people and why are you gaining followers? Are you an author and wish to reach readers and other authors who will in turn do tweets for you to get messaging out? Are you an interviewer or reporter and want your words and messages heard? Are you a reader and want to tell people about the books you’re reading? Or, are you what we lovingly call a voyeur who simply reads the tweets of the people they’re interested in, never commenting or posting on their own? People on twitter will generally follow like-minded people and others will follow people because of what they’re posting.

No matter how people start following you, stop staring at your follow numbers and WORRYING ABOUT PEOPLE UNFOLLOWING YOU. Really, just stop. I used to check all the time. When I first started building my follow list, I’d be devastated and confused when I discovered people unfollowed me. I mean, why would they do this? “I’m not provocative, I’m funny. What did I do? Don’t they like me?” The reality is, they stopped following me for whatever reason they wanted. There are just so many things you can control in life, and other people’s actions are NOT one of them.

Want to hear the #1 Follow Rule on Twitter? Follow people who follow you or seek out new people to follow. Retweet people, comment on people’s tweets. Participate in twitter hashtag parties. It is the simplest and most direct way to gain new followers – and these are like minded people for the most part. That said, I still get unfollowed all the time. For this example, right now I just went to www.justunfollow.com and checked the recent amount of people who unfollowed me since I last checked, which was yesterday. In that time period four people have unfollowed me. It’s usually as high as twenty. EVERY ONE of these people are authors. I no longer get upset when I see this. But don’t think sometimes I’m not tempted to actually tweet an author and ask them WHY they unfollowed me. But that sounds a little “stalky creepy” and I’ve decided against that tactic. And don’t get me started if I discover I’ve been blocked. That ALWAYS freaks me out a little, but in an effort to stay sane, I let that go.

Now that I have over 26K followers, what is happening is many times people will follow me in order for me to follow them back. THEN they unfollow me. It’s a tactic they do to gain followers, but not have a high following count and a tactic they will do hoping I will do a tweet for them to my high follower list. It’s not nice and it’s sneaky and doesn’t sit well with me, but it is what it is. With justunfollow.com I now have the ability to see who just unfollowed me and I go and unfollow them right back. I don’t confront, I don’t retweet, I just do this non-passive aggressive thing and move on. NOW, that said, there are people who simply don’t follow others, and they have great content to share – so remember, YOU are in control of who you wish to follow at every moment.

Sometimes an unfollow is a mistake. I have had a few very good friends suddenly disappear from my lists. When that happens, I call them out on it and they are usually surprised. It really is only a simple click and someone is unfollowed.

So, I leave you with this. Stop worrying. You don’t know most of these people, you’ve never met most of these people, you’ve never interacted with most of these people. They are strangers. Stop worrying if they don’t follow you or unfollowed you. Return the “favor” and let it go. Then go follow 50 new people, commenting on a few great posts, find a few you haven’t supported in a while and retweet them, and then call it a day.

Life is way too short to be offended by people who you’ve never interacted with in the first place. My favorite phrase? “Don’t let it rent space in your head.” Post great comments and your peeps will find you. Or they won’t. It’s all good.

Social Media – It’s Not A One Size Fits All World

one sizeYou see a lot of people on social media posting the same thing over and over, across multiple platforms. It could be book links, or promotional blogs, or here’s what I made for dinner, or the same rant about the world. You know, the tweeter who only posts his books and then on google+ does the same thing. The FB friend who only posts photos of her daughter and discusses her beauty over and over. There are definitely people that after awhile when I see their posts, I cringe, because I know what’s coming. You don’t want to become that poster.

The fact is, social media is not a “one size fits all” world. People go to social media for different things, the same way readers love different genres, and magazines are niche. Here’s a quick synopsis of some of the social media outlets and what their participants are looking for.

Twitter: A great place for small little 140 character tweets. You can do a book promo, ask a quick question, do a cute game – but people want something quick, fast and then… you’re outta there. I will tell you – consensus is if you only post book promo tweets you are assured of getting blocked fast. Do two to four a day, but no more and spend more time interacting with people or doing different kinds of posts. And be nice on twitter – I can’t tell you how many people think this anonymous world gives people the right to be mean. Arguing with people on a public forum like twitter is never a good way to make friends.

Facebook: To me this is a more personal place where it’s totally acceptable to talk about your family, what you ate, things you did, ask questions, polls, play games. People expect it. Just mix it up. And, if you expect anyone to see your posts and comment on them, you have to interact with people. There is no way around it. You don’t comment or like any of your friend’s posts, Facebook will shove you down in analytics and folks won’t see your post for hours.

Instagram: This is really Facebook, but in pictures. People don’t really want to talk on there – they just want to post photos. Comments are ok, but liking their pictures is what people are going for – to show you enjoyed their photo post.

Google+: My newest obsession. This is different – people want to read a bit more content and it’s appropriate to give them a bit more – not an entire novel’s worth, but definitely leave more than you would on a tweet. Photos are great on here, but explanations of why that photo is there, or why you are sharing a particular link, is even better. Add hashtags so that google analytics can pick you up. This is a great link on How to Make an Awesome Google Post: http://dustn.tv/perfect-post

In every one of these mediums above, conversations are key. Answer people’s questions, comment on blogs. In every one of these, continuous and sole self promo to excess is bad. Unless you are on a “Facebook brag group” no one, including your good family and friends, wants to see a book promo post over and over. I heard this cool ratio to do FOUR fun tweets/posts to every ONE promo post. You still need to promote your books, but it shouldn’t be every single post.

Love to hear what you think!

Virtual Friends… Are they Real Friends? You Bet!

Like to Read? Join a virtual book club.

Like to Read? Join a virtual book club.

One of the most amazing things to come out of this explosion of social media is the friendships that you can make. We teach our children that you have to be careful on the internet. That these “friends” they meet on chat, gaming or fan boards may not be who they think they are. They could be trolls, adults posing as kids, or just completely different personas. How you can’t give out personal information or passwords and that you must be very careful.

All of that is true. But we’re not 12 year old kids. We’re adults and we are on platforms where it becomes very easy to interact with a host of people based on our interests. While true that your first encounter with a virtual person may be fraught with the unknown, one of the wonderful things about social media is that you can regularly interact with these people and filter out the ones who are not who they say they are (or who you simply find you don’t bond with or share their values)

I’m on special Facebook groups filled with individuals who are on there based on our shared interests. Right off the bat I have something in common with these people and I’d call many of them friends. And some of them really good friends. These are people that if I’m frustrated or bored or just want to chat, I feel very comfortable simply IMing them and saying hello. If I need advice, I just do another message and lo and behold, they respond. We regularly play FB games as well and do the little chat sections there too. These people live all over the country – heck, some on the other side of the world, but I can call them friends.

On Twitter I get to interact with peeps on a whole different level. It’s usually funny little quips and comments back and forth. It’s very hard to be “intimate” in 140 characters, so you glean from a person just enough based on what they share. But after a few dozen interactions over months, you start to know people and can chat with them. That’s where specialized lists on twitter come in. You can select a smaller group of people and just visit those lists to see what they’re up to.

You see, each of us seeks things we might be missing in other areas of our lives. It’s why we have friends in the first place. We might have the one friend that likes to go out and party, we have the friend we can have private conversations with, the friend that likes to cook, the one that will let you cry on her shoulder and never judges. The friend that gives you the attention to simply speak to them about your feelings and they don’t walk away or do something else – the ones that make you feel valued and worthy and that what you have to say is important enough to give you the attention you deserve to simply listen. At least virtually. 🙂 Now, with social media, you have outlets for all these things.

So for people frustrated that they are not being heard in their personal lives, seek out new friends online. There is absolutely no reason in this day and age to remain sitting in your house alone with no one to talk to. While real life interaction is always preferred, this is a very fine second option. Find a like-minded Facebook group, go find a cool hangout on Google+, play games on FB, interact on Twitter. Respond to people. If you’re an author and want advice, there are literally thousands of authors on FB in groups – groups to tweet, groups for blogs, groups for advice. Do you love a certain writer? There are groups to obsessively drool over them. Do you like to cook? Are gluten-free? Groups for those. Just be aware, though. I’ve found on some groups the “flavor” of the people wasn’t to my personal liking. I’ve actually left some groups because they were filled with people with a different value system than I had. Or they were angry people, or complainers. You see, a virtual group really is like real life cliques. They morph into their own category of people and you could choose to remain with them or leave. The great thing about social media is it’s a simple “stop notifications” button, leave group or just delete and you’re done and ready to find another group that better fits your needs.

Yes, you need to be careful, yes you must remember that sometimes people are not how they appear, but after a while, just like in real life, you will be able to recognize the real friends you are making. So your lesson for today is go out right now, type in your hobby in a search button and find a new friend. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Love to hear your thoughts.