Blogging about how far you’ve come

WHAT DO I DO ON TUESDAYS NOW?

Brent Riggs (Brent@brentriggs.com) said to write a post about how far you’ve come, and how blogging has changed since you started: I’ll look at the period since I started posting Pride’s Children, February 12, 2013.

To ‘Write about where your blog was “X” numbers of years ago.’

He said, in an email: ‘People often become discouraged about blogging because they think those who are successful did it with ease and very quickly. What they do not realize is that it most likely took many years of hard work, perseverance, and setbacks.

Tell them about the hard work, setbacks, and commitment it took to get you from “A” to “B” (today).

This is the first Tuesday post in a very long time in which I don’t have a scene to announce, and it feels odd.

WHY DID I START THIS BLOG?

I started this blog to see what blogging was about, and found I like to blog. I’m an opinionated sort, and stubborn, and chatty under the right circumstances. By the time I started my own blog, I had been reading and commenting on other writing blogs for over a year, and could see how it worked.

At that point, September 9, 2012, I took the plunge.

WHEN DID I START POSTING Pride’s Children?

Five months later I decided I was ready: on 2/12/13, I had 40 scenes in hand as a buffer, and I figured that would be enough to provide me space to write the remaining ones before I’d use up my buffer – never checking out my own data (what did you keep all those notebooks for then, Alicia?), which when examined showed that some scenes had either taken months to write, or were surrounded by periods of time where I had external or internal reasons for not writing.

So I started. And I’ve missed only one Tuesday (by about an hour – had the scene ready, just forgot to post) since I started.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Writing is temporarily over, at least on Pride’s Children scenes in Book 1.

Now I’m having weird withdrawal symptoms which I’ve realized are entirely normal: if you intend to self-publish, and have used all your energy for writing, when you get to the ‘publish’ part, you haven’t finished all those things you could have been doing as you went along.

You haven’t finished with one task, not really (there will be whole-book editing, and cleanup of a few known problems), but you now need to learn and do all those things you’ve been putting off.

People in general have been lovely and supportive, and other writers in particular have been helpful (I’m just one of a long line of newbies coming after them.

How long does withdrawal last?

Only until you get thoroughly into the next phase: it took me about this past week to really get going.

There will be a hiatus of sorts between ‘last scene posted’ and ‘available for sale’ because I barely made it to the last scene, and it’s going to take time (a month may be too optimistic) to do those tasks I have some control over: cover, description, formatting, final editing.

The ‘Soft Launch’

Getting Pride’s Children, Book 1, up on Amazon without making a big fuss is called a soft launch, and the idea suits me: put it up there, buy a copy and make sure the formatting works for at least one device (I have a Kindle and the Kindle app on my computer). Edit/fix/reload.

Decide the cover is awful in some particular way. Do something about that. Change the cover in the online store.

Learn more about descriptions – decide you MUST change it. Do so. Throw book up on Amazon again.

Repeat until the obvious mistakes are taken care of; pray there aren’t TOO many. Just for personal sanity, not bragging rights.

Hope you haven’t accumulated negative reviews.

Then think about a proper launch. The kind that gets reviewers to look at your book, and arranges for ads in various places. Realize what I just said. Hide.

Ebook is up and running, then what?

Get template for paper version. Learn all that stuff. Create paper version.

Think about audiobook. You’ve got to be kidding! Nope. More stuff to learn.

The bad part about a soft launch is that you give up some of the ‘New’ time Amazon provides for exposure of new titles. Why do I remember ‘new this month’ or something like that? Must go look up.

After an adjustment, I’m back to work

I promise to get back to blogging about the pieces of this ‘publishing puzzle’ if I discover new and uncommon ways to do it; if not, I’ll just link to the places I found my information if they seem to need some visibility: I am extremely grateful already to the DIY-ers who write free blog posts and inexpensive ebooks about ALL this stuff.

I am reading all this information, filling in the little forgotten corners. Amazingly, I remember most of it, if not in detail, at least that I read it somewhere, which reassures me that I’m not starting from scratch. Phew!

Task 1: DESCRIPTION

The current task, following JM Ney-Grimm’s wonderful advice (http://jmney-grimm.com/2015/04/what-happens-after-the-manuscript-is-complete/), is to get a description that will:

1) tell people exactly what they’re getting if they buy Book of the Pride’s Children Trilogy.

No, this doesn’t mean reveal the plot – that they have to read for. But there has to be enough information in the part of the description that shows up on the page when you click on the cover image, BEFORE you decide to click on SHOW MORE (if you do).

That little piece of real estate is the most crucial of the whole description.

You want an action on the part of the potential reader: preferably ‘Buy now,’ but almost as good will be ‘Show More’ and ‘Look inside the book.’

2) let a potential reader see a bit of the writing style, somehow, because that is the main thing they are buying and will be spending a lot of time with: characters, plot, and everything else, will come at them from THAT writer, and there are a lot of things a reader knows for sure he doesn’t like (typos, sentences that begin with ‘ing’ constructs, incorrect dialogue punctuation, pet peeves of all kinds).

That style will be much more obvious in the sample, but a reader won’t get to the sample if the first bit of the description turns her off already. I’ve seen it done – I’ve left my share of descriptions, knowing I didn’t want to read further.

Let’s see if I can do better, and I hope people will tell me – rather than just get out of there – but I can’t count on it.

3) Give readers a good feeling if they do the next click – I know when I’m being taken care of, as a reader, and I assume everyone else knows what they like to read.

Orient the reader and get the reader started, and lead her to wanting to find out what happens next.

I’m pretty sure that after cover, keywords, description, and sample, readers will know if they want to continue: I want to give them enough information to make that decision in an easy and complete little packet.

Doing something I’ve never done before, seeing if I can take all that advice and information I’ve gotten, and put up a professional package (you up there in the peanut gallery: stop laughing).

That is just the very start, as I’m following JM’s path – description only until I feel it’s perfect, then cover, then description again (you didn’t believe it is really perfect, did you?), then cover again…

What lies ahead?

I don’t know how much I’ll blog about this – I am such a rank beginner at this that even as entertainment it will pale.

I just don’t know what to do with myself on Tuesdays yet. Expect me to be erratic, and ecstatic, and static, and confused.

But trust me: I’m having great fun.

This is a time to make all and any suggestions. While the concrete hasn’t set.

What say you?

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17 thoughts on “Blogging about how far you’ve come

  1. livelytwist

    Congratulations on how far you’ve come and for your persistence. All the best with Amazon!
    But isn’t/wasn’t it difficult to blog and write a novel at the same time?

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Actually, it wasn’t so bad.

      I decided that I needed to have a blog BEFORE I decided PC was ready to start going up as a serial. So I blogged for a year first, and found I liked it.

      After that, one of the posts every week was that week’s scene, and the other(s) were things I had figured out about writing during that scene (plus a few CFS and other posts), so it arose organically. I’d figure something out for myself ABOUT writing, write it up in a blog post, and then post the scene.

      If you have logorrhea – a tendency to extreme loquacity (write too much), it has to go somewhere. I like it, and blogging is the opposite of writing fiction. Sort of balances things out a bit.

      Thanks for your good wishes!

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      Reply
  2. Alice Audrey

    A soft launch sounds like a real good idea to me. I’ll do it when I get around to self pubbing my own books. Knowing me, there will be a dozen things to fix after I think I’ve fixed it all.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Exactly. And if you look online, you will find how to go to Author Central and jazz up your description with HTML.

      I have spent the afternoon reading description after description of novels my potential readers might like. Many of those used their description space well, other didn’t – but only a few seem to have caught on to the ability to used formatting.

      I plan to – it isn’t hard, and the very basic stuff (headings, bold, and italics) makes the description visually appealing.

      Keep it clear and simple. Promise only what you will deliver. Do not try to tell the whole plot in your 400 word space. Etc.

      I am raring to rewrite my placeholder descriptions (I’ve known they were woefully inadequate for a long time, but have used them as experimental gauges).

      That nice space that is visible the minute someone shows the smallest interest (by clicking on the cover), that is the key to getting someone to take the next step.

      I didn’t like the testimonials placed there – my choice is the ones which pull me into the emotional side of the story. Other people may prefer the testimonials – if they are from a reviewer or writer the reader would know and respect. All stuff to ponder.

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    2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Note: You also get about 40 characters right under the cover, with NO click required – enough space for Title, and a tiny bit of the subtitle – but worth thinking about how to maximize (I think I’ve seen that tip somewhere – not claiming originality).

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks! As usual, I’m impatient, rushing things. Worrying because my brain is having trouble focusing on the next tasks. Worrying about being extra tired – because Easter and Holy Week.

      I’ve been out of the house every day of the last week – and some of those days twice and for many hours – something I CANNOT do and function. So I’m not functioning and wondering why I’m not – I just have to laugh at myself a whole lot more.

      The singing was glorious, and I’m so glad I did it, and I shouldn’t worry so much about the aftermath I knew I was taking on when I signed up for it. I always worry it will be my last year singing at the Princeton chapel because of stairs and moving somewhere else and not being able to put in the effort…

      We humans have an enormous ability to ignore the obvious.

      I’ll be fine. I’ve gotten this far, the next pieces WILL happen eventually. I have gathered way too many different opinions on ‘the only way to write the description,’ but they will eventually sort themselves out. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.

      It is lovely not having the angst of the querying and the waiting and then the ‘supervision.’ I am not particularly worried, just slow – so what else is new? All my friends who self-publish, like you, have survived.

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  3. Sandra Manning

    One of the panels I went to at Killer Nashville involved self publishing, and the authors there pretty much universally suggested hiring someone to do your cover art and your blurbs. It requires very different skill sets from writing a novel, and it’s a very important part of launching your book. My Dad was great at writing ads, but couldn’t write longer material. I have most of my notes from Killer back in Jersey – next time I’m home – end of the month or so, I’ll be glad to see if I can find some names.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks, Sandy – I’ll look forward to those.

      But for sheer fun, I will do my own first attempts. Then, if the jobs get handed to pros, I will have some idea of where I want the finished product to be. And an idea of how hard it is.

      The fact that you can examine thousands of professionally-produced descriptions and covers by going to the online stores and checking out what they have on display for the big writers is hugely helpful. IF it turns out you have a gift for writing short (I do haiku all the time), you won’t find out without trying.

      If not, well, I have pretty high standards because of all the reading I’ve done. And nothing I’ve done so far is there yet.

      Or if it takes up too much time, then hiring a designer and copywriter is the logical choice. I’m a writer, not a graphic designer.

      It’s not the money – investment in a career is a good investment.

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