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Nine years ago, something happened in my life. For most people, they’d wonder why a D&D character would make any sort of impact in real life. Perchance I was a bit TOO connected to her. The thing is, that group of friends had been meeting every single Saturday for about 2 1/2 years. We too these characters from game infancy (level 1) to fully fleshed out characters with personalities.
 
When the group wrapped up, in rather unexpected and bad ways (we were all killed or imprisoned), we mourned the loss. We were bitter, hurt, and felt cheated.
 
Out of that experience, my muse was unlocked. I finally started to write ‘Daughter of Hauk’. And I got encouragement from friends and family that gave me the confidence to keep at it.
 
Without that party wipe, I wouldn’t be writing now.
 
As such, I’ve got a certain fondness for The Raven Chronicles and Arwenna’s story. That was my character, after all. I invented her, borrowed (with permission) other people’s characters from the group. Threw in a few of my own imagination. Changed a few things so the makers of D&D wouldn’t sue me. And used writing Arwenna’s story as a way to deal with some of my own issues.
 
So, yeah, it hurts when it goes months without a sale. Because it’s more than a good story. It’s my baby. I’ve written other stories that may be better told, or more engaging, but that trilogy will forever be my favorite. For very personal reasons.
 
What makes things nice is that the wait and patience is paying off. I’ve seen pages read or sales for all 3 books for 3 months running now. Even the fan fic has gotten some love.
 
Will it ever be on the NYT best seller list? Probably not. But my baby’s getting a little bit of love right now from readers. And I’ll take that.

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Hey! It’s Friday! Oldest has been retrieved from college for the summer, and the quiet of the house is disturbed by the sounds of her unpacking and shuffling stuff around.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and thought it was time to get those thoughts down.

Every author needs to maintain a level of professionalism with their publisher, their agent, and their readers. Plain and simple.

At the end of the day, this is a business relationship. That’s it. The publisher and agent are trying to help you get your book out in the world. The reader bought it, read it, and (hopefully) left a review. Maybe they’ve stood in line to get your autograph at a signing.

Being friendly is great. It really helps in this industry. The person who can write a nice, friendly, and polite email will have more done for them than the angry author who makes demands. Readers will have more fun talking with someone who’s humble and approachable and ‘like them’ than they will the grump that can barely look at them or complains that their coffee is cold.

You can be too friendly, though. Watch the subject of your emails. Is it too personal? Is it too vague? Did you forget to include your title? Agents and publishers work with hundreds if not thousands of authors. And millions of titles. Do you really think they’ll instantly remember that you wrote a specific title off the top of their head? Or which of the half dozen you have with them you’re talking about?

So, in emails, keep it short and simple but polite. Remember to include the title you’re asking about. You can ask about how they’re doing, etc, but don’t include the three paragraph story about how your cat chewed up your dishwasher’s intake hose and you had to bail out the kitchen before you could email them with the question. Don’t take over their FB post and talk about how you had it worse than what they were talking about. Don’t go on twitter and tag other authors in your promotions unless they’ve said you can.

Ask yourself one simple question: if this was a 9-5 office job, would I be messaging my boss at 6:30 on FB to ask a work question? Would I tag them on twitter?

If the answer’s no, you probably shouldn’t be doing that to your publisher or agent, either.

BB

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Hey! Are you there? I know I haven’t posted for a while and thank you for not unfollowing my blog because of it.

Life happened.

On May 25th, I had surgery. The weeks leading up to it were full of taking care of things I wouldn’t be able to for a while afterward. Then, it was about recovery. Happy to say things are going really well! Still have a weight limit for lifting, and haven’t been cleared to start coffee again, but I can work with those.

In the weeks leading up to surgery, I had ideas for ‘Guarding Amber’ (the follow up to ‘Guarding Charon’). I just didn’t have the focus I needed. My mind went to a million little things that I’d not done for months (years?) that demanded my attention at last. Even if it only took 5 minutes or less to do. I was organizing our cd cabinet. Preparing the house for the oldest to come home for the summer from college. Heck, I even went out and edged/trimmed our yard.

This weekend, I came to the realization that everything was going to be fine. I’m healing well, not had any big issues, and that’s when it all clicked. I was finally ready to put the surgery, etc, in the past and move forward with life again.

Writing’s not something you can simply do, put aside, and get rich off of. It takes a lot of time to write a story, even more to get it edited and in shape for your publisher. Add to that the hours needed every single week to promote your books and it’s easy to see why a lot of people give up after just one book. Because you’re putting in the work with almost zero monetary payback for up to a decade.

But, if you DO put in the time and the work, then you might actually get that brass ring.

Speaking of brass rings….I grabbed one! I’m going to be doing a book signing at the Federal Way, WA Barnes & Noble on June 25th! If you live nearby, come by and say hello!

Internationally renowned

BB

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Good morning!

So, vacation’s this week. We’re off later this morning to get the a/c fixed in my van. Not a terribly fun thing on vacation, but it also means I don’t sit at the dealership for 6 hours. LOL

The house is still quiet. Right now, it’s just me and the cats awake. And some of the felines may have gone back to napping. That, or they’re into mischief. General rule with toddlers and kittens: if it’s quiet, go check. LOL

A lot of good has happened lately, even with some bad. It’s 13 days until Ayrshire College Comicon in Scotland. Hopeful that my donation to the silent auction does their local food bank some good. I have a surgery date. My 40+ year battle with obesity will be coming to an end, before I develop more serious complications. My desktop died (the fan and/or power supply quit on me), so we went and bought a new tower. Gotta say, the Geek Squad where I got it rocked the data transfer. Original estimate was 3-5 days. I had the new machine home, all files intact, in under 30 hours.

Then, there’s the big news. I’m going to do a signing at a Barnes & Noble in Federal Way, WA! Not only that, they’ll be stocking 4 of my titles!

Internationally renowned

So, yeah. Lots of good mixed up with a little bit of bad. Which is how life should be. Not everything is going to go our way. And,yeah, sometimes things pile on you all at once. If you can take a few deep breaths and remember where you came from, however, you’ll see growth. 5 years ago, B&N was a no go for me. No one in Scotland would’ve asked me to donate to an auction. I’d be trying yet another diet or exercise program. Okay, so my van’s a/c was working then. LOL.

What I’m trying to say is that any success takes time. It doesn’t happen a day after your book goes up for sale, or even a year. It’s growing into yourself as a public person and trying new things along the way. It’s learning who you are, as both a person and an author, and what you’re capable of doing.

It’s not how fast you push the boulder up the mountain, but the way you gather readers to help you move it.

BB

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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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Hey! It’s Saturday! Last week was hectic as anything, but I managed to survive. No one likes almost $700 in car repairs, but they were necessary. Now to try and sell some books and recoup at least part of that.

I had a couple of really good things happen last week. One just came to pass last night. My blog’s now a syndicated one on Authorsdb!

Authorsdb blog badge

The other one…well, it started coming about earlier in the week. But I’m still grinning about it.

I was checking my email late one night. There was a message from a gentleman who was part of a comicon at a community college. They were going to do a charity silent auction at the con, with the proceeds going to a local food bank. And he was hoping I could donate a book or two.

Oh, and the school was located in Scotland.

After I got past my momentary glee and sense of wonder for being asked, I did my due diligence. Made sure that the school was legitimate, that the con was listed on their website on the day he mentioned, and found social media information about the contact person and con itself.

Here’s where things got a little sticky. The con’s on April 25th. In order to get any books there, on time, it was going to cost a lot. I couldn’t find shipping options lower than $35 for a single book. I asked if they could help cover part of all the cost, as the abovementioned van repairs were still pending. Nope. Wasn’t going to be able to help.

So, I thought about it. And asked him what he thought of me doing a digital prize. He loved the idea!

I’ve sent him my covers, bio, headshot, and the Solstice Publishing logo. He’s going to come up with a display using those. The winning bid will be able to email a code to me and I’ll send them .df versions of all 18 titles I currently have out.

To sweeten the pot, I suggested he set a minimum amount (high enough to really benefit the food bank, but not so high that no one would ever bid on it) and, should the winning bid be at that point or higher, I’ll either name a character or dedicate my next book to them.

I don’t consider being an author as a money making scheme. I don’t necessarily want to hire bodyguards or an assistant who screens my emails. Because it’s not all about me. It’s about the stories, the readers, and the good that you can do by being a public person. I’m still relatively unknown. But if I can do something like this and help a food bank out, yeah. It’s worth it.

BB

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Hey! It’s almost March!

Spring’s coming…the lawn is thawing out. Got the pruning done, and the house is getting cleaner. I should be able to open windows and doors soon, which means less time spent getting interrupted by the cats wanting to go in or out. LOL

Let me start by saying there’s a lot of really good authors out there. Both traditionally and self published. I never claimed to be the best author you’d ever read. But I can say my stories are well written, thought provoking, and entertaining.

And then there’s the crap that gets published and sells.

Don’t tell me not to be frustrated when my sales slump and the literary equivalent of toilet paper gets movie deals. Don’t tell me to stay happy and clap for the success of an author who’s so full of themselves that they make outrageous demands just to do a signing and meet readers.

Don’t tell me it’s not appropriate for me to want to punch a wall in frustration.

The battle for readers and reviews never stops. It’s a constant grind to put your books out in front of readers, to make them noticed above the crappy stuff. When you don’t have a huge (or any) marketing budget, it’s even harder. How can a new author survive the years it takes to build that reader base when it’s going against crap that has money?

They survive because they believe. In their stories, in their writing, in themselves. And they scream, vent, and gnash their teeth at the movie trailers.

Then they go home, open up a file, and get to work.

BB

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