Tag Archive | mistakes

I Still Make “Newb” Mistakes… Simple, yet Obvious Publishing Game Changers

homerUGH!!! I’ve been publishing actively since 2011 and I STILL make newbie mistakes where I just want to smack myself upside the head. So, I’m going to offer a few little tips (obvious to most, but probably not to everyone) that may make your social media life a bit easier.

#1… Your blog has a dedicated URL. I have been publishing my blog posts to Google+, Facebook and Twitter for years. I write the title and then write “check it out at http://www.elysesalpeter.wordpress.com.” Do you see the problem? This is the general blog post URL. If anyone searches my topic and finds the post, they will click the link and it will NOT take them to the blog they want, but the most RECENT blog post I wrote. I may have just lost a person who actively searched for me. So, do this. Each blog you write has a dedicated URL. Click the title and then look at the top and you’ll see a dedicated URL. Paste that one to all your posts. You can make it prettier and shorter by going to bitly.com and shortening it there. This morning I just updated 44 posts on Google+ with the correct blog post URL links.

Example: “Yes, I Lived in a Haunted House” click http://www.elysesalpeter.wordpress.com

WRONG!!! – This will take you to the blog I just wrote, this one. BUT, put the correct URL in and you will see it like this:

“Yes, I Lived in a Haunted House” https://elysesalpeter.wordpress.com/?s=i+lived+in+a+haunted+house

MUCH BETTER!

#2… Use Bitly.com (I mentioned it above). It’s integral when you post and copy a long URL because it sometimes gets screwed up in the translation… the phrase “it will get truncated in ellipses” is used. Think of it like the game telephone – it’s just too much at once to get it right in the end. Not to mention that it looks unsightly with this huge amazon link, or url taking up all the space on a post. Go to bitly, copy past the long url into their shorten link box, click and then copy THAT link to your post. Game changer.

Here’s an example to my book link on Amazon for THE HUNT FOR XANADU:

Long Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Hunt-Xanadu-Kelsey-Porter-Book-ebook/dp/B00H6TM1MI/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1431960166

Shortened Bitly Link: http://amzn.to/1ESPbRa

MUCH BETTER!

#3… Another Google+ trick. Please make sure all your posts are going to the right people. For a year I only had it going to my private groups, not even realizing I could click public. I didn’t know I had to click the box and select public in the scroll down menu. Game changer with the amount of views I got. Though you open yourselves up now to comments from people who will discuss your hair, who will hit on you, who will amazingly self promote on your post, or who will simply write ridiculous or blasphemous comments. Monitor them, delete, spam or report them.

#4… Don’t thank everyone for commenting or retweeting your tweet (unless you’re having a conversation). A “thank you” every time someone comments will just clog up your feed, and theirs. Step it up a notch and instead go to their page, see if they have a pinned post and tweet that. Or even better, go to their page and join in a conversation they’re having. That’s like a whole other thank you right there. And follow them too – they were kind enough to comment? They check out your blog? Go check out theirs. Take 10 minutes every day to return the favors.

#5… Update your web page. I went back to mine recently and read the “about” page and realized I was two books behind. THEN I went to my amazon bio page, my goodreads bio page and all the other bio pages I have out there and they were ALL old… update them. Right now.

#6… Not including a link to your next book on your kindle editions. Seriously, someone just read your book and enjoyed it. Add a section… “Want to read more by Elyse Salpeter? Check out her novel The Mannequins here…” and offer the link there, and then give the first chapter and then offer the link with all your other books listed at the back. Give them a way to stay with you after they’ve read the book. If you are self published and haven’t done this – it’s a simple add and re-upload.

#7… Your book’s key words on Amazon. You have to do this. On KDP when you are uploading your books, you are given an area to tag the book. Consider that a way for people to search for your books easily. You have a chicken wing recipe book? Then “Chicken Wings” are in that key word box. Make sure your key words are good and specific to your book. You want someone to type something about your book in the search box and you want to pop up on at least the first three pages of the search. For instance, you type in Buddhist Thriller, my novel THE HUNT FOR XANADU pops right up there on page 1. You type in Egyptian Star Gods and THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB shows up on page 1. You type in “living dolls” and THE MANNEQUINS pops up on page 2. Find key words so that when people search for very specific things, your book pops up.

#8… This is a good one. Check your amazon author page and SEE what it looks like. Do you have your blog or twitter linked to it? I was shocked that my twitter feed was linked to that page because now my fans searching for me saw all the random ridiculous conversations I was having on twitter. My advice? Get rid of twitter on there. Go to your settings on your page and edit it out. That’s a personal recommendation, but once I did, my amazon author page looked a whole lot better. Now it’s just my books, my blogs (which are general enough for the masses) and not the random, untargeted conversations that happen on twitter.

Ok, I could do five thousand tips here because I figure I’ve made all the mistakes and I still continue to do so. Sometimes I’m floored that I’ve missed something so crucial and feel like I’ve wasted all my time and effort, but I have to be kind to myself. I don’t have a team of people doing any of this for me (a publishing house, an agent, a PR person, an assistant). It’s just me, learning like everyone else. So, if you’ve made a mistake, fix it. Easy peasy.

Now, if someone will teach me Scrivener. I just can’t do it and I’ve heard it’s a game changer. For me, not so much… yet.

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…

Why I Edit as I Write… Gaffes – did I really write that?

reallyThere’s an ongoing question authors ask each other about writing. “Do you edit as you write, or just write?” Me? I write, then edit, then edit, then write some more, then edit. Why? Because as I’m writing I have a tendency to add, or change things and I need to reread for consistency. It’s the way I self edit myself and it works for me.

The problem is, sometimes my issues have nothing to do with consistencies at all and have to do with gaffes. You know, those editing nightmares as you’re reading a book and the character in one paragraph is eating pancakes and two paragraphs later they’re staring into their cereal bowl? (this actually happened in book #4 in an extremely popular YA series that ended up being produced into 5 films. I’ll let you figure out which one – hint: think vampires…)

I had one of those gaffes in my new WIP and it was a doozy. My characters are in Egypt. There is an Englishman, an Italian, a Frenchman and an American in the bunch. I have my characters running from bad guys. The Englishman is saying all these sayings like gawd blimey, and bloody hell, and stuff (I was researching English phrases to get it right) and to get away from the bad guys, I have my people escape into the Underground. You know, the equivalent of the NYC subway system, but in London? I continued the chapter where they got off at their stop, queued up in line to get a taxi, and then were dropped off on a quaint country road.

Did you catch the gaffe yet? My characters are in Egypt, not London! Why in the world would they be in the Underground and what in the heck was I thinking as I wrote this chapter? I do remember thinking, “Wow, this is moving smoothly, the words are flowing easily.” Sure they were, because I WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE. When I reread what I wrote, because I always go back and reread what I did the session before, and noticed this, I stared at the screen in disbelief.

I love when I gaffe a description of a character as well. My protagonist stared into her boyfriend’s “beautiful amber eyes, flecked with yellow making them seem to sparkle and shine.” Nice, but the guy has blue-green eyes in book #1 of the series. Funny how in book #2 his eye color changed – and it wasn’t from contact lenses.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only author to experience something like this, so this week I asked authors Sara Barnard and Diane Rapp to chime in on this topic.

Question #1) Do you edit when you write, and why?

Sara Barnard: The more I write and the more I learn, the more I edit as I go. Not only does it save time when the manuscript goes to my totally awesome editor, but it has become habit. I like to think it makes me a better, more efficient, scribe. Writing a sentence or a paragraph then going back through and quickly reading, looking for errors or omissions helps keep me on track, too. But as a lesson, I also let it sit before sending it in and read through it at least one more time. It’s amazing the mistakes you’ll find when you let it rest then go back to it later.

Diane: I’m a “stream of consciousness writer.” I think about a scene and how the characters interact before I fall asleep each night, and my subconscious works on it. When I’m ready to write the scene, I type as fast as my fingers will move to put it into the computer.

After I write the newest scene, I wait a day and read through everything with a critical eye. At that point then the editing process starts. The first draft of the book is flexible, so I make changes and fix problems along the way. Sometimes I redo a scene three or four times until I’m satisfied, at other times I’m surprised that I already like what I created. It’s that sneaky subconscious doing a good job.

After the first draft of the book is complete, I reread everything straight through. That’s when I hope to spot inconsistencies and major errors. I also take time to check a thesaurus for more effective words. The third time through, I concentrate on punctuation, grammar, and incorrect words. This is the most boring part of the editing process, so I find myself daydreaming. I can’t count how many times I speed along, enjoying my own narrative, when I realize I’ve stopped paying attention to editing.

Question #2) What is the most major gaffe you found editing?

Sara: I’ve found numerous mistakes in my self-edits. One was in A HEART ON HOLD … Charlotte’s horse, Achilles, was written to be a gelding. Well, later, I had him as a stallion. That may not seem like much, but it was certainly important to Achilles! In my forthcoming Amish romance Rebekah’s Quilt, I had my heroine’s little brothers named something different in almost every chapter!

Diane: My worst mistake was using the wrong name for my heroine in a full chapter of a first draft. It was understandable. I just finished writing a Mystery with a heroine named Kayla, and the character in the new Science/Fantasy is named Krystal. My brain got mixed up, or maybe it was my fingers. Suddenly Kayla appeared on the planet Drako to confront an evil villain. The worst part was that I didn’t notice the error at first. One of my Beta readers sent me an e-mail asking, “Who is Kayla?” She had not read my mystery, so she didn’t understand the mistake. I was so embarrassed. At that point I realized many of my characters had similar sounding names. I reconsidered the character names and made major changes. I discovered that characters behaved differently after I changed their names. It’s true. I got in a few arguments with those characters, but they won in the end. Darn!

Ladies, thank you both so much! I think everyone can relate to the gaffes above – I know I do! I think I’ve done all of them at one point or another, as well.

If you’d like to learn more about Sara and Diane, please check out their links below:

Sara is the mother of four small children and wife to an awesome and supportive husband. Now that her husband is out of the Army and she is done following him around to various military bases around the world, they’ve settled down in their shared hometown in west Texas. Sara’s debut historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart, consists of four books: bestseller and 2012 RONE award finalist for Best American Historical Fiction A Heart on Hold, A Heart Broken, A Heart at Home, and the forthcoming final book in the series A Heart Forever Wild. Her debut Amish historical romance, Rebekah’s Quilt, will be released November 16th, 2013. All of these are from 5 Prince Publishing. Sara also writes children’s books: Chunky Sugars was her debut children’s book from 5 Prince Kids, with Little Spoon coming in September 2013. Sara independently publishes a nonfiction children’s line as well, all of which have remained on Amazon’s bestseller lists since being released. Those titles are: The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants, The ABC’s of Texas Plants, and The Big Bad Wolf Really Isn’t So Big and Bad. She can be reached at twitter at @TheSaraBarnard, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sarabarnardbooks, her website at http://www.sarabarnardbooks.com and lastly, her blog at sarathreesuns.BlogSpot.com

Diane Rapp is a split-personality author, who writes a Mystery series and a Science/Fantasy series. She particularly enjoys works by Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle. As an animal lover, she always includes animals such as telepathic wolves, flying dragons, or poison dart frogs (as a murder weapon) in her novels. For more information about both series, visit her website at http://www.quicksilvernovels.com. You can also reach her at her author’s FB page at: http://www.facebook.com/quicksilvernovels and on twitter at @DianeRapp