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Ten years ago, I wasn’t writing. I still listened to the voice in my head that said I would never do anything close to good enough for a publisher, so it wasn’t worth trying.

And so my muse stayed quiet, locked in her cage.

We’d been playing in a Dungeons and Dragons game for over 2 years. With no warning, the entire party was either killed or imprisoned. Saving rolls weren’t allowed, escape impossible. Characters that had been part of our lives once a week for over 130 weeks were suddenly no more.

It hurt. For all of us in the group, it was a shock. We mourned not just the game closing but not spending our Saturdays together any more. My husband, who did a smaller scale campaign, invited everyone over to our house. We used that second session as a way to take the bitterness of the night out of our mouths.

A few weeks later, he worked it so that my character was resurrected in his game. In the context of the day, we couldn’t really explain everything that went on. As we headed to bed, I said I’d write an email the next day to everyone so they were brought up to speed.

When I finished the email, I was terrified. What started as an explanation ended up being a short story. From that one short story, a career was born.

Last week, my 20th title went up for sale. “Guarding Amber” is out. My first book came out in March of 2012. My only regret over the last decade is listening to those who didn’t know what they were talking about.

We can’t go back and change the past. Even if that was possible, I wouldn’t. The past is what makes today possible. The things I experienced, good and bad, shape my writing today.

If you’re discouraged, keep trying. If sales suck, shrug it off. If your family or friends try to cut you down, find the strength you have inside. You have to find your faith in yourself, in your talent, to weather the storm of being an author. Having a way with words isn’t enough. You’re going to have years where you’re wondering why you started on this road. This is not a job for everyone. Because you’re not going to be paid enough to support yourself for close to a decade.

Over the last decade, I’ve come out of my shell. I’ve stopped listening to those who said no and found the way to say yes to myself. I’ve gone from someone who hid in the shadows to being able to talk to a room full of people who wanted to get where I was. I’ve been told I inspire people to keep trying.

I’ve learned so much since I found the key to unlock my muse from her cage. I think ‘Guarding Amber’ is an example of how much I’ve grown as an author. I hope you will as well.

myBook.to/guardingamber

Guarding amber v 10

BB

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Happy New Year! Took last week off for the holiday, head back to work tomorrow, but I’m more relaxed now.

Update for those of you who read my books! ‘Guarding Amber’ is done with editing! I hope to have it up for sale before mid-January. It’s my 20th title, which amazes me.

I want to talk about the business side of things. Most new authors sign a contract and don’t understand what it says. They only think that they’re with a traditional publisher and not a vanity press, so all should be good.

This is a business. Publishers invest money in your book, pay up front costs like making a cover, having it edited, and sending it past a proofreader. As such, they want your book to be successful because the only way they’re making back that investment is if it sells well. They take a risk on a new author, hoping that what they put into the book will be recouped once it’s up for sale.

Reputable publishers spell this out in the contract. It’s up to the author to read and understand it before they sign it. Percentages are spelled out, what each party is responsible for, etc.

Publishers don’t have to give you your books for free. They’re a business, looking to pay their operating costs and salaries. They do this by selling books. Screaming at someone that they’re ‘cheating’ or ‘stealing’ from you simply because they made money off your book shows your ignorance of the business. Your publisher making money is not an act of piracy. Any comparison along that line only shows that you’re a jackass.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like the idea of somebody else making money off of your book, then don’t sign with a traditional publisher. Self publish, or pay a vanity press, and go it alone. Signing a contract with a traditional publisher means they’re going to make money off of your book. Period.

For most first books, it won’t be much of a profit if any. The majority of first time authors won’t earn back what the publisher invested in the lifetime of the initial contract. An author who starts to complain about the publisher making even a dime off of them doesn’t get renewed.

Being a published author through a traditional house is a long term commitment for both parties. Authors have to keep promoting and writing if they want their sales to increase, and the publisher to renew their contracts. Publishers have to be up front and timely with both statements and payouts. It’s a system built on mutual trust.

Think of it this way. When you go to a bookstore, do you really think that the full amount goes to the author? Of course not, because the bookstore needs to make a profit or it wouldn’t be in business. So, they must buy the books at a discount. How can the publisher pay their editors or staff? They have to make a profit off of what they’re selling. Which is books.

This is a business, not a something for nothing scam. Sure, those exist. Friends of mine have been inundated with emails and such lately for them. Everything from ‘we’re starting up a library and want to feature your books – but I need your information and you don’t need mine’ to ‘enter our contest – there’s a modest $250 fee – please ignore that it’s brand new/no history of it online/no one’s ever won/the payout is exposure or $15’ emails.

Educate yourself before you sign that contract. Because, once you do, you’re bound to the terms. Even the ones you don’t like.

BB

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Hey everyone! It’s gearing up to be a super busy weekend. 6 days until we see the new ‘Star Wars’ movie!

Yeah, that’s my fandom of choice. We can discuss that another time, though.

Everyone talks about being creative, finding inspiration from the things around them. You can read countless stories on social media about how a writer looked at a situation, did a mental, ‘what if’, and turned it into a story.

The thing is, inspiration isn’t enough to make it as an author.

You need the self discipline and determination to sit yourself down and finish the story.

You need the critical eye and willingness to realize that the first draft is just that – a draft – and changes need to be made. Some will be minor, others major. But no manuscript is print ready from the gate.

You need the fortitude to do your research and compile a list of agents and publishers.

You need courage to submit you m/s to said publishers and agents.

You need patience and the ability to put your ego on the shelf when edits come back.

You need the mental stamina and strength to promote your book.

This is work. Plain and simple. It’s not as easy as sitting down to a computer or notebook and vomiting words onto a page. If you can’t get find that strength within yourself, you’ll not like the job.

Don’t get me wrong. The highs of being a published author are AMAZING. Having someone get excited because they met ‘a real author’ or seeing them hug one of your books after you signed it gives you some of the best warm fuzzies you’ll ever feel. And this is one of the few industries where the nice guy finishes first. But you have to be strong, have to draw on a mental toughness every single day. Bad reviews are going to undercut your confidence. Months without sales will make your stomach fall to your feet. Authors pour our souls into our books. We breathe life into our characters and work hard to create worlds that readers will be lost in. When those bad reviews or no sales months come, they hurt.

You can’t simply wait for inspiration to strike. You have to roll up your sleeves and work if you want magic to happen. If you seriously think all you have to do is write, you haven’t been reading my blog long. LOL.

BB

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Hey everyone! Really glad right now that there’s no video involved with this blog. LOL. Just got finished with some time on my bike, and I’m a hot, sweaty mess. LOL.

While I was pedaling, I reminded myself that I don’t like to live my life by excuses. Not with my weight any more. In the last six months since my surgery, I’ve learned to embrace the need for exercise each day. Even adjusted my sleep schedule to fit a 15 minute bike ride in every morning before I get working. Why? Because I have to do the work if I want to get to a healthy weight. It didn’t come on overnight, and it’s not going away that way, either.

The same ideal can be applied to promoting and writing books. I can list dozens of excuses why I didn’t promote today, or put off writing, without even thinking about it. But that’s what they are. Excuses. There’s hardly a good reason among them. It comes down to two hard and fast rules.

Books won’t write themselves. I have to sit down and do it.

Books won’t magically start to sell overnight. I have to promote them.

That’s it. If I want my books to sell, I have to promote them. Me. Not my publisher. Not my friends. Not any store or con I get a table at. I have to do the work.

Authors simply can not rely on anyone else to do the work for them. Even if we had the money to hire a publicist, I’d still be doing some promotion. Why? Because I should be.

Success, however you define it, isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, sweat, tears, trial and error. It needs me to push forward, work that extra five minutes every day. Ignore the doubt in my own head and get on Twitter.

It takes the same amount of effort I’m putting into my health.

Stop making excuses for why your book isn’t meeting your expectations and put in the work. Try something new, or polish up an old website. Take a deep breath and do a cold call to a local store about hosting you for an event.

Rearrange your life so you can start making being an author a priority, something that has to be done every single day. Because it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take years. And the longer you sit back and make excuses, the longer it’s going to take.

BB

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Hey everyone!

So, the Whole Life Activation awards were this past Friday. While I was deeply honored to be on the short list, another author won. I have no doubt that she is talented and deserving of the honor.

And, despite all of you that voted for the cover for ‘Guarding Charon’, it didn’t even place in the final round in the AuthorsDB cover contest.

For a short time today, it hurt. I freely admit it. Authors are still human, after all. We want to be told we did good and win contests. Have that validation that all the months of crappy sales or writer’s block was worth it. So, when you come close to that brass ring, it hurts when you get told no. You weren’t good enough.

The thing is, I am good enough. I write good books that are entertaining. I’m not a total jerk to my publisher or readers (at least, I hope I’m not. If I’ve been a jerk to you, please let me know and we’ll hash it out). I’ve come too far to sink back into the mindset of I’m not going to be good enough.

I’ve survived rape.

I’ve survived a parent who was narcissistic.

I’ve survived being bullied.

I’ve survived crippling self-doubt.

I have gone through some really bad crap in my life. And come out on top. This isn’t the last award I’ll be up for. It’s not the end of my career. It’s the beginning. It marks another step forward because my work is being noticed now.

You can not let a single event dictate your future as an author. Ride the wave of hurt and disappointment, then find your resolve again. Because there’s no way to change the past. All we can do is look to the future.

BB

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It’s Monday!

It’s been an interesting week since I last posted. In some ways, I’m still processing everything. And it was all good things!

First off, I found out I’m now on the short list for Author of the Year from Whole Life Activation, a group in London, England that celebrates women making a difference. I’m beyond humbled and honored. With a fair amount of excited in there as well. LOL. The ceremony takes place on November 10th. As much as I’d like to go, it’s not feasible right now. When you have college bills to pay for, spending $2k to go to a gala in London isn’t being fiscally responsible. No matter the outcome, I’m thrilled. While I don’t know the other three finalists, I’m certain that I’m in amazing company.

Today, I found out the cover for ‘Guarding Charon’ is a semi-finalist for the Authordb.com cover of the year award!

If I can be so bold, I need votes! You can go here (https://authorsdb.com/2017-cover-contest-results/23632-cover-contest-2017-guarding-charon) and vote/leave a review! Even if you think one of the other semi-finalists is a better cover, the votes are crucial. You don’t have to vote for me…just do it!

Being an author is a lot of highs and lows. You spend days/weeks/months/years even trying to get your name out there. All but begging for reviews. And then you get weeks like this last one. Where you find out that maybe you really are making an impact in the pond. Where you get hope that those small ripples will continue to spiral out and widen your readership.

And that maybe, just maybe, all the struggles to get there will be worth it.

BB

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Hey! It’s Monday! I hope your weekend was a good one.

Almost three years ago, I wrote a post about the myth of the book store signing (here’s a link if you want to read it:¬†https://katemariecollins.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/the-myth-of-the-book-store-signing/). Now that I’m doing these on a monthly basis, I wanted to talk about the reality of these events.

First off, don’t go into one expecting to have a crowd of people waiting for you. Most often than not, people will think you work for the store initially. At my first Barnes & Noble event, I barely sold more books than I got asked where the restroom was. LOL. I turned it into a game at one point.

Second, expect to have long blocks of time (could be an hour straight) where no one comes over and wants to know who you are. You shouldn’t be on your phone much, or reading a book. Basically, don’t do something that makes people think they would be interrupting you. You’re going to have to sit there, smile, try to engage people who keep walking past you, and be bored.

Third, be nice to the staff! Don’t be that jerk author who is demanding that they announce you’re there every 15 minutes because there’s people in the store but no one’s paying attention to you. Don’t sigh, look bored, and snap at staff who are really there to do their job. Which doesn’t include catering to you and your whims. They gave you a table, chair, and ordered your books (or let you bring your own). They don’t get paid to fetch you water, or manhandle customers into talking to you.

Think of it this way. If you walked into a book store and saw an author, how would you approach them? How would you expect them to respond to you? Would you go up to someone who’s got their face in a Kindle or a phone? Who wore a look of utter boredom and exasperation?

In order to draw in readers, you have to be the type of author you’d want to approach. Yes, it’s a major accomplishment to get ‘big enough’ to get a book store signing. That doesn’t mean you get to unleash your ego and let it run amok. Put your ego aside and be humble.

Oh, and make sure you’re not bathed in perfume or cologne. You want to be clean, but a lot of people have allergies to scents. They won’t come closer if the aroma’s so strong that they can taste it from ten feet away.

BB

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