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Hello! It’s a Sunday afternoon. House is quiet, though not writing quite yet. Need to transport the youngest to hang out with a friend soon.

As a writer, an author, I give a lot to my readers. I give a small piece of myself in every book I write. Each and every word, character mannerism, name, is a gift of my soul to my readers. And I hope they appreciate it.

Readers give back to us by buying our books, leaving reviews (good or bad), standing in lines to meet us at events. They tell their friends and co-workers about our books, bid on them at auctions, and help authors grow.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

There are some readers who say one thing and do another. They promise reviews and never come through. Or they clamor for a sequel then don’t buy it.

Not to be outdone, authors don’t always keep their end of the bargain. They let their ego take over, ignoring criticism, and demand things for signings. Specific brands of water, luxury suites, first class airfare to cons. And then they do interviews and talk about all the work they did to get to that point, ignoring all the readers who DID leave a review. Buy their book, and the sequel.

Like any partnership, that between author and reader needs to have some give and take. Appreciation on both sides for what the other does, work to bolster the other up and make them feel like the time they invested (hours writing and editing, or standing in line) was worth it.

When you’re starting out as an author, you need to shrink your ego to the size of a flea. Why? Because you’re about to spend the next 5-10 years wanting to pull out your hair. You’ll have days where you doubt what you’re doing is worth it. Times where reviews simply won’t happen, no matter how many are promised. Months where you won’t get a single sale. You’ll spend money you really can’t spare on promotions that may or may not work. On contests that give you little beyond bragging rights.

There’s no magic formula for us to find our readers. No more than there is one that readers use to find that ‘new’ author that they have to get every single book ever written by them.

All we can do, as author or reader, is hold up our end of the bargain. And hope the other side does, as well.

BB

Author.to/katemariecollins

 

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Morning, everyone! It’s spring! Which, around here, means it’s raining. Still. Just a little warmer than it was last week.

People often imagine the life of a published author as one filled with red carpet invites, cavernous offices where we sit in a comfy chair. A maid or butler bringing us lunch on a silver tray so we remember to eat. And so much money in the bank that we don’t blink if our children want to go to Europe for a summer. Or Yale for six years.

Um, nope. This is work. Hard work. Our house is modest. My husband’s job pays the bills. Mine helps with groceries and, currently, the rest is being funneled each month to help make it so our daughter doesn’t start college knowing she’ll graduate with a mountain of debt. That’s the COO salary, anyway. The royalties? I get to go to my favorite coffee place once a month on sales.

Writing is hard work. It’s not glory. It’s trying not to sound pitiful when you beg for reviews. It’s not screaming in frustration when you look at your sales and wonder what you’re doing wrong. It’s making decisions between a free promo that may or may not work or paying hundreds of dollars that still has no guarantee of increasing sales.

It’s knowing you write good books, ones worth reading, and wondering why no one else seems to think so. Why they can’t spend a couple of dollars on something you spent years working on. It’s balancing family time, writing time, working, and sleeping. It’s chanting a mantra about how ‘this too shall pass’ when you get asked by someone you went to grade school with for a free copy “because you know me!”.

It’s hearing from writers who want to be published say they love your blog, but never bought your book. Or, bought the book and couldn’t find 5 minutes to leave a review on Amazon.

The hard work isn’t the writing. It’s staying positive, hopeful, and taking the deep breath before venting online. It’s reminding yourself, sometimes every minute of every day, that the next day could be the one where a review will be posted. Or sales will start to pick up.

It’s savoring that one extra cup of coffee for the month, the one that your royalties paid for, and dreaming that your sales go up where you can visit once a week. Or once a day.

It’s the never ending dream that, one day, the hard work of now will pay off.

BB

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Good morning! I’m a little scattered today. Muse the Purrbot is hurt in some way, which makes me unhappy. Trip to the vet is happening in about an hour or so. We don’t think it’s serious, possibly a pulled muscle or such, but she hissed this weekend. Muse never does that.

As authors, we tend to crave attention of a sort. It may not be finding papparazzi outside our home, but we do need some sort of acceptance or approval. We want to know our hard work is welcome and appreciated. The thing is, there’s a huge difference between the two words.

To be accepted, to me, means my work has merit. Peers point to me as an example of what can happen if you put in the time/energy and have the patience. It means my failings as a person aren’t the focus. Rather, the focus is positive and on the story I’ve crafted.

Approval is a different ball of wax. And I don’t know that I need someone I’ve never met approving of what I write. If they don’t, it means I’ve hit a nerve. There was something in the story that made them uncomfortable, made them think. We need to write the story that must be written, not the one that makes everyone feel safe. Bad things happen to good people in life, and literature should mirror that. We overcome obstacles and come out stronger for it. Why shouldn’t our protagonists go through the same struggle?

This is my viewpoint. Your mileage may vary. There are some authors who will do very well writing feel good stories that readers can escape into and ignore the chaos around them. I’d rather write about the chaos and create characters my readers can relate to.

And what’s the one way I know I’ve been accepted? Reviews. That’s the single best way for readers to communicate to their favorite authors that their work touched their lives in some way, good or bad.

BB

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Good morning!

I hope all is well with you today. Our week ahead is going to be interesting, but good. I hope. LOL.

There’s a single problem with social media. It encourages you to vent. Get out frustrations, rant about being mistreated, etc. This can be a good thing. It really can.

Unless you’re an author who chooses to slam your publisher in public over things you haven’t addressed privately.

Now, there’s bad publishers out there. Don’t get me wrong. And they deserve to be exposed and have pressure put on them to pay their authors what is due, etc. That’s not what I’m talking about.

It’s when someone points out a problem with your story in a review, and you blame the editing in public. Or you take the words and, instead of thinking ‘how can I do better next time’, you talk about how disappointed you are with your publisher.

Um…most publishers give the author the chance for a final review of their work before it goes up for sale. And sometimes formatting errors happen when the file is converted. If you gave the go ahead to your title, or it’s a file conversion issue, that’s not on your publisher. If those aren’t the case, have you contacted your publisher directly before ranting online?

At the end of the day, authors are responsible for their words. And the order in which they’re listed in the book. Be an adult and at least contact your publisher about possible problems before you go ranting online about how horrid they are. Why? Because it’s only going to make you look bad.

If you’re looking to move up the ladder in the publishing world, that means you’re following other Houses. They might be following you back. Who knows? Do you honestly think screaming about how horridly you were treated without any corroborating evidence is going to make them look at your submission with a favorable eye? That they won’t contact the other House and find out what you’re like to work with?

I try my best not to rant online. I don’t always abide by that rule, but I try. I take a step back, calm down, and wait for the emotional attachment to die down. Does the reviewer have a point? Could it be something I should address directly with my publisher? Is it possibly a formatting problem that can’t be fixed?

If at all possible, you want to only say good things about your publisher online. Why? Because it reflects favorably on YOU. If you’re constantly whining about this, that, or the other thing, you’re seen as a complainer and hard to work with. If you don’t say a word and address your concerns with them and not air them openly…compliment how well they communicate…you’re going to be seen as co-operative, pleasant, and easy to deal with. You’ll be seen as an adult and not a child.

BB

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Some of the best writing advice I ever got was from my recently departed mentor, Nick Pollotta. Granted, just about EVERYTHING he imparted to me was worth listening to! Today, though, I want to talk about the importance of knowing when to keep your mouth shut.

We all know we should remain positive as a public figure. Keep the chin up, be disappointed in a rejection but go after the next brass ring. But what about public forums? While some are fine for a bit of grousing, make sure they’re private forums and not filled with people who work where you do. 

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a publishing house, a retail store, or an aerospace manufacturing plant. You do not grouse publicly about them. Yes, you want to vent because you didn’t get the vacation time you put in for, or you got passed over for a promotion. But doing so in a public forum (a blog, FB, etc) is going to backfire.

More and more companies are forming social media policies, and will monitor their employees online. If you’re constantly complaining, don’t be shocked if they call you on it. 

Nick’s advice to me was to always be polite and professional. No matter what. Sales could be catastrophically bad for six months to a year at a time, but I should always, ALWAYS, maintain a positive vibe about my publisher in any forum they’d potentially see me posting in. In doing so, I’d gain a reputation of willingness to work with my publisher, not against them. I’m not sabotaging my own sales.

There are some that will disagree with me. I realize that. My opinions are just that, opinions. The benefits of holding my tongue, though, outweigh the risks. Reputation is EVERYTHING in the business, second only to your skill as a writer. And it can make people overlook that talent if I were to be snarky.

Everyone has bad days. There are days, yes, I’ve wanted to pull my hair out for various reasons. But I take a step back, walk away from the computer, regain my composure. Then I’ll calmly talk to the person who’s driving me to the brink of insanity. I won’t give up my principles and professional ethics. The high road’s sometime’s lonely, but the view’s a lot better.

In other news….

Things are moving forward with ‘Mark of the Successor’! I’m looking for a few reviewers willing to read an ARC and post their review within 1-2 days after the ebook is available. If interested, drop me a note at katemariecollins@gmail.com.

I’ve got a blog tour starting soon, to promote the upcoming release. The grand finale of the week is a visit to Authors on the Air (google them – Pam’s got a fantastic show!) and a virtual release part on FB. Should be tons of fun!

BB

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