I second everything Joann says here. Pirating ebooks is a stinky thing to do. But it’s a fact of life in the computer age, and in truth it only takes even a novice a few minutes to figure out how to do it. I still say that if you can’t stand the thought of your book being pirated, don’t do an ebook. Stay paperback. Otherwise it’s like moving to the boonies and hating the country. Just don’t do it.

With that cheery thought, read on!!

Joanne Phillips

My original title for this post was: Ebooks – Free or not be… free. OK, I’ve been reading a bit too much Shakespeare lately.

This post was instigated by an innocent comment from a friend who recently acquired a Kobo. Surprised at the price of ebooks, her husband told her not to worry: he could find any book she wanted and download it for free.

Free! I cried. But how will the author get paid? You see, we’re not talking about ebooks whose authors have made them available on Kindle or Smashwords for free, as part of a publicity or marketing campaign. We’re talking about brand new, bestselling titles being offered by certain websites – illegally – for free download.

Of course, this is nothing new. It’s been happening in the music and gaming industries for years. This does not make it OK. When I was drafting this post, I…

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Getting back into the swing of things

I’m writing again! Yes! Or I will be, as soon as I diagnose my computer. It wouldn’t boot yesterday except once. And I made a backup. Those take FOR-EVER, by the way. Determined my hard disk is a-ok. Good. But now, is it a registry issue? Or a case of Windows needing to be reinstalled? (They didn’t give me a Windows install disk when I bought the laptop. So mad.)

But, something else happened, too. A fan found me on G+. I’m so stoked about that! So, I’m back to writing the Swift Codex again. Just got my first handwritten page done. Determined the theme. The antagonist is going to be about lust, but I don’t think it is only going to be in the sense of physical attraction. I saw a meme on the net some time ago about how as a child you learn the bad guy because he looks ugly and wears a cape, but in real life the bad guy is very likeable, attractive, and makes you laugh. Just to let you get a flavor for my antagonist.

But, word of warning: Learn from my mistake. If a file is important to you, send it to your email or the cloud as soon as you save it!

That is all. My guru techie brother is here to save the day.

Dearest Nicolette.

Family Emergency

The Kings Mutt won’t have much progress done on it for at least a few days. My mother went in for a pretty common surgery, though I don’t want to say much about it. I’m going to be helping out by taking care of meals for the men folk and figuring out a good dirty for her for the next couple of weeks. On the plus side, I think I’ll open up a new blog for this time, one that deals with the nutritional requirements and suggested recipes for someone who has gone through surgery. There isn’t very much info on this, and what I’ve gathered had come from talking to others who had the surgery, one squidoo lens, and a lot of crappy doctor generalizations. Basic plan is to put recipes on this new bog, and also put the recipes together for a short ebook, should anyone be saved the hassle I went through and want to help me out in return.

I have a nurse cousin, and a phlebotomist cousin, and a nearly nurse friend who can double check ingredients to make sure I don’t overlook anything.

The short is, I’m going to keep writing, but it wont be on my fiction works. My focus is elsewhere right now. Hoping to resume TKM soon as I can.

21+ Books that Belong on Your Writing Shelf

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Some books are good, some books are mediocre. The following is a collection of the books that I have purchased over the years—and I spend hours agonizing over which book I should buy! These aren’t even all of them. I have a few more kicking around that have not managed to round up yet since our most recent move. Never fear, these I shall post, too.

What books are on your shelf?

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

Mostly aimed at the novice writer, but it never hurts to be reminded from time to time.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Because the internet just doesn’t work when the power is out.

 

Book in a Month (BIAM)

How to get that new idea down quickly.

Nonsense: Red Herrings, Straw Men, and Sacred Cows: How We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language

Because no other occupation requires logic as much as writing.

Painless Grammar

Need I really say why you need a good grammar book? Or two or three?

You Can Write a Novel

Because everyone needs some motivation…and wow! The cover I have has a floppy drive on it! Wow…DATED!

Guerrilla Marketing

 Who needs cheap marketing more than aspiring authors?

Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus

No need to get carried away with strange words, but sometimes you need a different word other than “tall”. Perhaps “towering” would be better?

Technical Writing

This is dry and anything but fiction, but the essentials you can learn by writing down-to-earth pieces will carry you far in writing what you really enjoy.  

Idiot’s Grammar and Style

We all have idiot moments.

Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us

Pitching it to the right publisher, not losing hope, and how to fix why you are being rejected.

Self-Editing for  Fiction Writers

Love, love love.

The Power to Write

Motivational book.

Finding Your Voice

From back in the day when I didn’t think I had one.

20 Master Plots

Makes for an interesting read, good for giving you ideas. Though I never stick to them.

Make A Scene

Love it. Need to read it again.

The 5 Love Languages

Because everyone feels love and shows it differently–and so should your characters.

Webster’s Instant Word Guide

Handy little book.

Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary

 Rhyming in your copy isn’t the best of ideas, but what about when you need to make up a catchy slogan or place name?

Latin & English Dictionary

No fantasy writer is complete without one

Strunk and White The Elements of Style

Most all of the things you need to know about writing well is in this slim volume.

The 38 Most Common Writing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

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I wish I were so clever as to write this list! But, no, this is a bit of a book review. This is by Jack M. Bickham. I bought it several years ago, read it through a few times, and am reading portions of it again to help with The King’s Mutt edits.

As I’m writing this from my phone, I’ll keep my post quick.

I like this book. I’m glad I got it. I would buy it again. I think it should have been required reading in my creative writing class.

As I can’t provide the list because that would be wrong, I will tease you with the ones I highlighted to read.

5. Don’t Warm Up Your Engines
9. Don’t Duck Trouble
22. Don’t Ignore Scene Structure
34. Don’t Waste Plot Ideas
35. Don’t Stop Too Soon
36. Don’t Prejudice Your Editor

OK  the last one I’m curious to read what he has to say. It’s not because I have issues with editors. But the others…yeah, I’m quite curious.

Most of these I’m interested in for the last quarter of TKM.  I find middles easy to write, but the start and the end, not so much. I think I’m in the minority there.

Specifically, I want to know in 35 what his 12 step revision plan is.

Anyone else read this yet? Have I made you Google the book yet? Good luck, and keep writing!

Your Dearest Nicolette.

Just editing

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My blog has been more quiet now that I’ve been really buckling under and doing edits. During classes, I would always find more to change than anyone else. Actually, these random pages are light edits. I usually have much more pen marks, and the other pages do.

The first thing I do is eliminate adjectives. Then I look for repetition, too much information, not enough information, confusing sentences, pacing checks, irrelevant information, checking that characters make sense, and looking for plot holes. There’s really more that I check for, too, but this is the start.
The final chapters will go into their own documents. I’m going to see if that helps with the page break problems I’ve been having with the EPUB format trials.
Later, I’m going to talk about a POD printer that Barnes and Noble will accept. I’m excited to try it. I’m sure the local bookstore would set up an author signing, seeing how I grew up in the area. Not sure if I’m ready to go that far, though! I get nervous all too easily.
Back to editing. I’m procrastinating now.
Your Dearest Nicolette.

How the Free Give-Away Went—And Did it Work?

I know you’re all very curious to know how effective it was for me to give away my ebook Feral Magic for free for five days.  We Indies always want to know what another person did, and if it worked.

Many other Indies suggest that free give-aways don’t work that well because you only have so many people in your target audience–and once they’ve spent their money (or didn’t), that’s it. And there is a level of truth in that. I’ve heard a very good idea that once an Indie has a series, they should put the first book for free, and mark up the others in the series to about $5. I’d say it works well. If you don’t have that option, there is an option to write a short story featuring your main characters, and put that story for free.

So, the concept of giving away your one and only book for free doesn’t seem like the best idea–or is it?

It can be. It certainly has helped me out!

I made a couple of mistakes. The first was not having a list of places that promoted free kindle books. The second was waiting until I was 8 days from the end of my 90-day choose-your-days-to-be-free gig. So, I improvized. I chose to start the book on a Friday and end on Tuesday. I thought the weekend sales would be the best bet–and they were. I wish I would have started on Thursday and ended on Monday. Lesson learned.

I notified people along the way about my book, trying to give them as much lead as possible (it seriously was not much, and I wish I could have given them more!). FYI, the more days, the better, but at least 5 days notification is comfortable for them. I will include a list, both of those who helped me promote, and those who I have found since then. These do not include Nook communities, though I will one day (soon? I hope?) be looking for them as well.

Before then, how did I do? I gave away about 1,070 copies in a 5 day period. I was in the top 100 for all of those days and I reached the top 20 once. That. Was. Amazing. Especially considering two weeks before, I was number 521 thousand-some-odd-hundred on the rankings. It was a definite morale boost to say the least! (Note: my husband said that one of his coworker’s mother got my book during that period. Small world, huh?) If only for the knowledge that people found it interesting, it was worth the free giving away.

After the boom, I sold about 12 books the last week of that month. Before, I had sold 8 copies in a 3-month period. And now, I’ve sold 9 copies in 13 days. I’m so very eager to keep on putting out books now. It’s addicting, and I’m curious how an illustrated cover will influence sales on a new book.

As you can see, it’s not a lot of money that is being made. But it is increasing. And I think a major reason for the increase is this:

Once your book sells about 1,000 copies, the Amazon algorithms start to put your book into the stream of “Others Also Bought…”

This attracts more people. Obviously.

I am very happy with how the free promo went. Would I do it again? For a new title, yes. But for the same book a second time? I’m thinking, probably not. But if I can’t figure out how to format for Nook by the time The King’s Mutt debuts, I’ll enroll TKM into Amazon Select and plan for the free give away right off the bat, if only so it gets into the algorithms faster.

What do you say when you ask people to plug your book?

Ok, I started out with a brief intro. Something like, “Hi, my book is on promo for free starting on XX and ending on XX. I know this doesn’t give you much lead time,  but if you could slip me in sometime, that would be fantastic. If you can’t, I understand and thank you for reading this. My book is: Feral Magic. It is an Urban Fantasy with twists of mystery and romance featuring a strong female protagonist. It normally sells for $2.99, but I would like as many people as possible to take advantage of the promotional pricing (free). Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Nicolette.” If they ask for the book blurb, I copy-paste what I have on the Amazon page. If they ask for a picture, I link to the image URL on Amazon. This message seems to work well. Do NOT make them work! They are doing you a favor, and you owe it to them to make it as easy as possible. Don’t waste their time.

So, places that you can find free promo books/contact the people and ask them very sweetly if they could slip your book in:

On the Web

http://thefrugalereader.com/ The gal who runs this site is just AM.A.ZING. I gave her NO lead time whatsoever, the poor dear, and she squeezed me into a post! If you only plug one of these links, plug hers, please! I’m trying to spread her site out to as many people as I can.

http://www.freebooksy.com/

On Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/KindleDirectPublishing OK, maybe not the best venue for promotion, but you should get their posts if you are on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Books-for-Kindle/136225579732999

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paranormal-Romance-Urban-Fantasy-Book-Lovers/277066277373  Ok, so I was after this more for the Urban Fantasy, but they seem to specialize more in the Para Romance. Look up your genre if you aren’t one of those two–I’ll bet you’ll find a few pages to help you out.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kindle-Author/168316526565998 Kindle Author does a lot of plugging. Personal experience dictates that it is a little kinder to message the page and tell them about your book rather than post a message to their page. All pages seem to appreciate having the opportunity to choose if they want to plug your book—not many books posted to their wall make it into their posts, and I haven’t been denied yet from my messages.

On G+

There are Indies who hang out on G+. Look for “books” in the public stream, and you’d be surprised how many authors surface. Also, you can post as yourself on Public, and hashtag #books, #ebooks, #free, and #freestuff. There are also a couple of book clubs on there right now–I’m part of them, but my internet is irritatingly slow and I am writing this while waiting for links to load. Hence why this post is so thorough.

Other Places

I’m sure there are groups on Diaspora and Twitter, but I haven’t been very active on D, and I just barely set up an account that I haven’t yet used on Twitter. If you know of them, or other places on the web, please leave a comment with a link so other people can find them, too.

In conclusion, should you decide to put your book on promo, then promote the daylights out of it. Start notifying all the people you can the week before the promo hits. Then keep finding people and keep posting. Do not fall through the internet web. Be the brightest darned butterfly to get caught, and you’ll attract lots of attention. Particularly if you keep on flashing your stuff.

Keep on reading and writing!

Written with love,

Your Dearest Nicolette.

On Conclusions – The Redeeming Antagonist

I love it when an antagonist can find a way to redeem themselves. Some are truly evil and wicked—such as Voldemort from Harry Potter—but others are tormented souls with a misguided sense of direction. Take Gollum, for instance. He isn’t evil. He just  is, and he has a bit of an addiction problem with The Ring to Rule Them All. Gollum both loves and hates the ring, which has granted him the curse of longevity. He is a lonely, wounded character who has come to live only for the ring, which he resents but cannot resist. Throughout the journey, Gollum assists and “assists” Frodo in destroying the ring. In the end, when Frodo stands at the mouth of the volcano to toss the ring in, Frodo is overcome by the ring’s power. Gollum can either take the ring for himself, or fight Frodo and destroy it. Gollum destroys the ring, taking Frodo’s finger as well, but in the end, it is a dual victory. Frodo has shown Gollum love and trust, and perhaps that sunk in and Gollum saved both of them from the fate of the ring. It’s so hard to say with Gollum what his motivation was, but he did the right thing.

It is so easy to squash the villain. Stab them in the heart, lock them up, drop them off the edge of a building, do any number of things to kill the antagonist.

But how does one measure victory? School tests are by percentages. Society will measure victory over life based on socio-economic factors such as cars, houses, family members, and income. But what about victory over something as intangible as an idea? As happiness? As a book ending?

I think that there is a universal desire we humans have to know that, even when we mess up real bad, we will be able to “fix” it. That we will still be loved. That maybe, we can regain what we lost by slipping up.

Who is your favorite redeeming antagonist?  What are your thoughts?

With thoughtful contemplation,

Your Dearest Nicolette.

The King’s Mutt Now Has a Cover

 The King's Mutt by Nicolette Jinks
Coming soon!

Bet none of you thought it would turn out like this! That’s the funny thing about art. It starts off so terrible, then clicks together.

I’ll probably go in and correct the bridle a little later. But the truth is, I’ve spent 10 hours yesterday and 7 hours today doing this, and I’m ready to break away from the computer for a while. I think I’ve earned it. The cover is miles better than my first attempt at doing Feral Magic, so I’m very pleased with my developing skills as a cover artist. Most often, I encourage writers to seek out artists to do this sort of thing, but in my case…well, I have a software suite that retails over $3k, a very nice Wacom Intuos tablet, a pricey gaming computer, and art history that goes back ten years. My bet is that most Indie authors don’t have all that. So…yeah. I’m going to muse about it being pretty before I put it to the mirror image and do fine tuning on it.

If that’s fine with you, I’m going to enjoy the sunshine now…

Your Dearest Nicolette.