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How to Manage Contracts Efficiently

How to Manage Contracts Efficiently

Hello Lovely Writers, 

As an indie author, you become more than just a writer. You must manage every aspect of your business. Part of that is managing book contracts. You need to protect your rights and your book. You also know as a savvy business owner that you cannot do all the work yourself. You will hire many different contractors based on your budget, time, skills, and needs. Everything from editors to cover designers to marketing support and Personal Assistants. 

You can hope that the people you hire will be professional enough to manage contracts, but in my experience, a lot of them work on the digital handshake method. This leaves you hanging if things don’t work out. You do not want to risk your masterpiece this way! You should have contracts drawn up for each project and have them signed before any money exchanges hands.  But if you are working with contractors all over the world, (my cover artist for The Hunters Saga is based out of Greece.) How do you manage contracts? Do you let your work wait for a contract that was sent via certified mail and requires notaries? That could delay project start dates up to a whole month. In the publishing world, that is a long wait. Why not send a digital contract? They are considered as viable as a physical contract, and in a lot of ways are more secure and don’t require a notary because proving who is who becomes a lot easier! Digital contracts are as viable as paper contracts with less hassle.

I Sign Here is an electronic signature company that you can utilize month-to-month (only $15 a month for a single user) and will provide your e-signature needs. Get your contracts all lined up, and ready to go, get a one-month service contract, send out your contracts and get them signed, and then keep them on record. Or you can get a one-year service contract for only $180. That contract comes with 24/7 support services, unlimited contracts signed each month for one user. If you anticipate needing more than 4 contracts (typically 1 book per year) then this is a wise investment to protect your asset and is far cheaper than alternatives such as Docusign, or .E-signature by Adobe 

I’ve used I Sign Here for several years now and absolutely love the service and Karl Ward has been great. It really is a fantastic deal and a great way to help you save money.  Want to learn more about I Sign Here? Visit their website or contact owner Karl Ward. with your specific questions. Ready to get your own ISignHere Contract going today? Sign up and mention that Heidi Angell sent you to Karl. He will get your account set up within a few hours. Any questions about digital contracts or I Sign Here? Let us know in the comments below. 

Until next time, 

Keep Writing!

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Happy New Year and Resolutions Galore

2019 New Year Resolution
This post was updated 1/11/2022

Hello Lovelies, 

Happy New Year! For many of you, I know you’re bailing on Resolutions. I’ve already seen all the millions of posts regaling how resolutions don’t matter and it doesn’t work and they just don’t like feeling like failures. I totally appreciate that struggle. But I fully believe that I am able to achieve all that I do because I set New Years Resolutions, goals, and evaluate quarterly while having a beautiful reminder front and center on my desk. I have also found that accountability goes a long way in that as well. After all, we follow what we focus on, right? 
So, I have some fantastic New Year’s Resolutions for you, and some pretty pictures for me to help me stay focused on my dreams. I share these with you so that you can know what to expect from me in the coming year. Here are my resolutions: 

 

 These are my dreams for this year. They are a tighter focus than my 5-year dreams or my Someday I See Myself As dreams. (Sorry, not sharing those with you. Have to have some mystery!) But they feed those dreams and support those goals. Where I do my nitty-gritty smarter goals are in my quarterly goals designed to achieve those resolutions. Yeah, I have a handy print-up to help me keep that front-of-mind as well. 

Heidi Angell 2022 Q1 Goals

 See how each of those can tie back to my Resolutions? They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable Relevant, Timely, Evaluated, and rewarded. (those that don’t seem to be, do have additional tracker sheets and SCRUM tables to achieve it, but I need an easy to print and hang on my wall thing. So… This reminds me to look at those things.)
 Let me know what you’re New Year’s Resolutions are if you’ve made any.

If you struggle with setting and achieving goals, be sure to check out the Dreammaker Challenge. It is a great 7-day challenge to help you make a focus on your personal development and guides you on how to set your goals. 


Until Next Time, 

Keep Reading! 

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90 Days Q4 Check-in and Annual Wrap-up

Q4 90 day check in

Hello Lovelies,

For those who recall, at the beginning of 2018 I set some very public author goals for the year using the 90 day plan. And revised and tracked them in Q2. And again in Q3  And now it is time for the Q4 author goals check-in and annual wrap up. I know, many of you are probably thinking, but the year isn’t over yet! True, but to be honest, I started planning for next year back during Black Friday. Can’t plan without looking at last quarter stuff. Sure, there’s a bit of overlap but we know about where we were with things, don’t we?

Here’s a refresher of my goals: I’ve put my progress in italics at the end of each section a bit to show where I am with these goals.

  1. Publish 4 books in 2018—The Survivalist Bible Serial launched (I have the first part of the serial in an anthology with M.L.S. Weech, and the second segment released in November, but with chaos ensuing I did not do the December release. Prepping to do better in 2019 though.), Clear Angel Chronicles 3, Hell School 2, and Hell School 3. (Hell School 2 and Clear Angel Chronicles are getting moved to next year. It’s been very emotionally difficult writing the Hell School series and I really need to remember that before setting goals for it. ). So with this goal, I only achieved half of it.
  2. Increase my social reach by 50%. This one is a bit messy for you to see in action. I created a lovely graph in Excel (that I am not going to share, because it’s really not that lovely) with my starting point for each of my social media platforms’ current reach. I will track each stat weekly. This is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I’m actually not going to mess with this one because it’s a good goal.  

(I didn’t increase all of them by 50%, but I did with my Facebook groups that I manage, my Facebook page got close at 48%, my Youtube page hit 35%, Twitter and goodreads were not great this year which is weird as they used to be my fastest growing platforms. Instagram exceeded my goals.)

90 Day P:lan Q4 and annual Wrap up
  1. Re-release my specific previous 5 titles that fit the OWS brand under OWS as part of my partner contract. We’ve only missed The Hunted as part of this goal. So I’m gonna count this solidly as a win.
  2. Expand my OWS-U course offerings by one course each semester. Well, I released 3 courses, but they weren’t in the order of semesters like I’d hoped. OWS U is a big focus for me for next year as well and I’m planning on releasing at least another three courses so I call this one a win as well.
  3. Increase my book sales by 25%. I hate setting monetary goals. Truly, I do. Yeah, nowhere close. However I’ve got solid plans for next year now that everything is re-released on Ingram Spark and we’ve got merchandising on our OWS Shop. I’ve got some crazy goals monetarily for OWS as a whole, and me personally.  

I am definitely on track with Q3 to achieve most of my author goals for 2018.

90 Day Plan Q3 goals and Check-In

My goals for quarter 3.

  1. Plan and execute tours for the books I have re-released through OWS- I will plan a week long tour for Hell School to re-fresh it’s SEO as soon as we get it on Ingram Spark, and a tour for Clear Angel Chronicles as soon as Angel’s Dance is back up. I will also look at doing local book store promotion in August as I should be all healed up from surgery by then. This didn’t happen. I was so focused on getting the new shop site up for Black Friday and the releases we had scheduled that no tour stuff for me happened.
  2. Keep Building that Social Media Platform- I will keep using the social media tracker, though pairing back to once a month because I am re-launching my website on WordPress and that will have me quite busy this month. Did this, despite my own website not getting transferred to WP like I’d hoped.
  3. Write 2K words a day on my WIP- Man, being a publisher has you running so many different directions and I am really bad about getthing my word count in on MY projects. I am going to start making writing my first activity of the day before things get hairy, going back to the way I was doing it when I had a full time job, because being a publisher is MORE than a full-time job and my authoring dreams are kind of getting pushed to the back burner. This didn’t happen either.

And guess what? It is that time of year again, to start planning your New Year’s Resolutions and planning your year. I will be updating all of last year’s posts to reflect goals and plans for this year, but if you would like some extra personal support, come join us on Patreon for $5 a month. Not only will you get great exclusive content from the board guiding the magic at OWS (Amanda Lynn Hester, Rebekah Jonesy, Isa McLaren, JK Allen and Your’s Truly), but I am also starting a 90 Day Year Support group where we will share and support one another’s goals. Join us today!

The reality is that in a lot of ways, 2018 really sucked. If I just looked at what I missed out on (about half my goals, if we’re being honest.) it was a crappy year. But reflecting on OWS’s goals and mine, I realize I achieved a hell of a lot, even with a back injury that left me working at half steam for more than half the year. Even with surgery, family crisis, financial struggles, and the drama of the national stage. If I didn’t have my goals to reflect on, I might really feel like a failure (might, yeah, right. I totally was feeling like a failure 2 days before Black Friday as I was mad dashing and still trying to get the site set up.)

And that is a huge part of what these goals are all about. Because we all dream of making millions as writers. We all dream of being famous. We all dream of making a difference. But if we’re so busy focusing on the top of the mountain and that dream, we might not see how far up the mountain we have actually made it and get discouraged and slide back down. I know, I’ve done it. I would’ve done it again this year if I didn’t have this to reflect on. So stay tuned for the first week of January where I will have an update on the 90 Day year. And if you don’t want to wait, go check it out on our Patreon.

Until next time,

Keep Writing

  ​    
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90 Days Goals: Q3 Check-In-2018

Goal Setting 90 Day Check in Hello Lovelies, For those who recall, at the beginning of 2018 I set some very public author goals for the year using the 90 day plan. And revised and tracked them in Q2. Can you BELIEVE it is already time for the Q3 author goals check-in? Man, this year is really flying! Here’s a refresher of my goals: I’ve put my progress in italics at the end of each section a bit to show where I am with these goals.
  1. Publish 4 books in 2018—The Survivalist Bible Serial launched (I have the first part of the serial in an anthology with M.L.S. Weech, and it will release in October), Clear Angel Chronicles 3, Hell School 2, and Hell School 3. (I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to write with everything going on. As it is, I will be pushing my luck to get Hell School: Sophomoric Sadness finished and released in December. So I am taking out Clear Angel Chronicles 3 and Hell School 3). Survivalist Bible: Genesis will launch in October as part of M.L.S. Weech’s POWER of WORDS anthology and that is coming along perfectly. Survivalist Bible: Exodus is pretty much done, just needing line edits, and Survivalist Bible: Levi is almost finished. Hell School, I need to pick up the pace on. 
  2. Increase my social reach by 50%. This one is a bit messy for you to see in action. I created a lovely graph in Excel (that I am not going to share, because it’s really not that lovely) with my starting point for each of my social media platforms’ current reach. I will track each stat weekly. This is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I’m actually not going to mess with this one because it’s a good goal. I’m just going to have to work harder because I haven’t really been working on this goal the last 90 days, so I’m a bit behind. It’s impressive how much I’ve been able to catch up by working on this weekly. 
  3. Re-release my specific previous 5 titles that fit the OWS brand under OWS as part of my partner contract. This is already in progress and shouldn’t be too difficult to finish. Hell School should be coming in May, Angel’s Dance in June, and both books in The Hunters Saga are underway, so this is looking good. Hell School: Fresh Meat is releasing this month, thanks to Rebekah Jonesy. I’ve honestly lost track of the others, but Jonesy is on top of it! I know she is still planning The Hunters Saga to be re-released in October, and Angel’s Dance will probably be this month or next. But I have been so busy with everything else that I’ve really been trusting her to knock this out. She’s been pretty busy too with all the awesome books coming out through OWS. I don’t know how she finds the time! 
  4. Expand my OWS-U course offerings by one course each semester. Ah, did you know about OWS-U? It is this awesome venture that we are doing to provide masterclasses to authors on topics that will help them grow as an author-preneur. I am all for having at least one of my goals focused on giving back. The first semester starts in February, and I am teaching two of the five courses being offered.  A lot has changed about this goal, as we’ve decided to go with Teachable and offer the courses year-round, rather than by semester. I am still looking to add 2 more classes to the line up this year, though. The courses are re-releasing on Teachable this month with an awesome promo sale July 15th of Buy 1 get 1 1/2 off. Don’t miss it! I’ve already started developing The Business of Authoring, which will hopefully be added to the lineup in September, but man, creating courses around everything else we are doing is tough! I am hoping to have another course by December, but still trying to narrow it down between three that people are asking for. 
  5. Increase my book sales by 25%. I hate setting monetary goals. Truly, I do. But they are important. I probably should set this one higher, as my sales took a hit when I joined the OWS executive team back in July 2017. But we’ve got a lot of goals going on with OWS as well, so I want to keep this attainable. This will be easier to attain once we get the books up on OWS Ink. I am sitting at about an 8% increase right now. Definitely could be better. 
I am definitely on track with Q3 to achieve most of my author goals for 2018.
90 Day Plan Q 3 Check In
90 Day Plan Q2 goals and Check-In
  My 90 Day Year- 2nd Quarter Author Goals Report
  1. Preparing The Survivalist Bible Serial for publication– I am totally on top of this and feeling really good about it.
  2. Track Social media reach– I’ve been checking in weekly on this (mostly) This got way bigger than I expected because I am also doing it for OWS Social Media, so am tracking 13 different accounts! But each one has seen growth in both followers and engagement. I am pleased with the progress and hope to see it keep growing. 
  3. Get Angel’s Dance and Hell School: Fresh Meat re-released through OWS and onto Ingram Spark for distribution into bookstores. This actually works towards goal 3 and 5. Once they’ve been re-released through OWS-U, I can start marketing them again! Fortunately, Ingram Spark is running a special promotion in July for Camp Nanowrimo so we will be able to achieve this, no problem!
Now time to set some goals for 3rd quarter.
  1. Plan and execute tours for the books I have re-released through OWS- I will plan a week long tour for Hell School to re-fresh it’s SEO as soon as we get it on Ingram Spark, and a tour for Clear Angel Chronicles as soon as Angel’s Dance is back up. I will also look at doing local book store promotion in August as I should be all healed up from surgery by then.
  2. Keep Building that Social Media Platform- I will keep using the social media tracker, though pairing back to once a month because I am re-launching my website on WordPress and that will have me quite busy this month.
  3. Write 2K words a day on my WIP- Man, being a publisher has you running so many different directions and I am really bad about getthing my word count in on MY projects. I am going to start making writing my first activity of the day before things get hairy, going back to the way I was doing it when I had a full time job, because being a publisher is MORE than a full-time job and my authoring dreams are kind of getting pushed to the back burner.
It’s never too late for you to join the 90 day plan. What are your goals for Q3? Share with us in the comments below. Until next time, Keep Writing  
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90 Day’s Author Goal Second Quarter Check-in

Q2 Check in

Hello Lovelies,

For those who recall, at the beginning of 2018, I set some very public author goals for the year using the 90 day plan. Well, life fell apart a little bit for many reasons, not the least of which is that I am dealing with a back issue that probably will need surgery and left me laid up for the first month of the year and is still significantly limiting my work time. Then there were a host of business-related issues for Our Write Side (I’m sure you’ve noticed our blog has been a bit sparse of late. No worries, we’re regrouping and getting ready to bring you more great content!) that come with explosive growth, which I had not anticipated. It’s slowed me down, but it hasn’t stopped me! I hope this is how each of you responds to adversity in your own life. Don’t let it throw you off kilter and quit. It happens to all of us, and it’s a great opportunity to revise and reconfigure your author goals. So, we’re doing that today. Here are the goals I set for 2018. In italics, I am listing revisions for the 2nd quarter. 

  1. Publish 4 books in 2018- The Survivalist Bible Serial launched (I have the first part of the serial in an anthology with MLS Weech, and it will release in October.), Clear Angel Chronicles 3, Hell School 2, and Hell School 3.  (I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to write with everything going on. As it is, I will be pushing my luck to get Hell School: Sophomoric Sadness finished and released in December. So I am taking out Clear Angel Chronicles 3 and Hell School 3)
  2. Increase my social reach by 50%. This one is a bit messy for you to see in action. I created a lovely graph in Excel (that I am not going to share, because it’s really not that lovely) with my starting point for each of my social media platforms’ current reach. I will track each stat weekly. This is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I’m actually not going to mess with this one because it’s a good goal. I’m just going to have to work harder because I haven’t really been working on this goal the last 90 days so I’m a bit behind.
  3. Re-release my specific previous 5 titles that fit the OWS brand under OWS as part of my partner contract. This is already in progress and shouldn’t be too difficult to finish. Hell School should be coming in May, Angel’s Dance in June, and both books in The Hunters Saga are underway, so this is looking good.
  4. Expand my OWS-U course offerings by one course each semester. Ah, did you know about OWS-U? It is this awesome venture that we are doing to provide masterclasses to authors on topics that will help them grow as an authorpreneur. I am all for having at least one of my goals focused on giving back. The first semester starts in February, and I am teaching two of the five courses being offered. A lot has changed about this goal, as we’ve decided to go with Teachable and offer the courses year-round, rather than by semester. I am still looking to add 2 more classes to the line up this year, though.
  5. Increase my book sales by 25%. I hate setting monetary goals. Truly, I do. But they are important. I probably should set this one higher, as my sales took a hit when I joined the OWS executive team back in July. But we’ve got a lot of goals going on with OWS as well, so I want to keep this attainable. This will be easier to attain once we get the books up on OWS Ink.

My 90 Day Year- 1st Quarter Author Goals Report

  1. Preparing The Survivalist Bible Serial for publication– I already have the first three serials ready to go to the editor. I will focus on 2,000 words a day to get this finished up in the first 90 days.
  2. Track Social media reach– I am not going to do much on building this right now. Too much other stuff going on. So I will just focus on tracking this first 90 days of author goals.
  3. Get Angel’s Dance and Hell School: Fresh Meat re-released through OWS and onto Ingram Spark for distribution into bookstores. This actually works towards goal 3 and 5. Once they’ve been re-released through OWS-U, I can start marketing them again!

Ha, ha, ha, didn’t hit these author goals. Well, I did get some of part of them. Survivalist Bible is coming along. I now have 6 sections ready for the editor. I need to figure out what to do with the cover because of adding it into MLS Weech’s anthology as well as losing my graphic designer. Sigh So that will get added to this quarter of author goals. Angel’s Dance and Hell School are on the schedule for this quarter. Re-edits are done and it’s just a matter for formatting them and re-releasing. Hell School is even getting a new face for the cover, courtesy of Rebekah Jonesy!

And my happy social media tracker is sitting there waiting for me to use it. Which I will use and will report back next quarter, at the ACTUAL BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER, hopefully 😉

How are your New Year’s Resolutions and author goals coming? Did you try the 90 Day Plan like me? Tell us in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

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How to Monetize Your Blog

How to Monetize Your Blog

Hello Lovelies,

Every author always hears how they “have to” have a blog to build their platform. Well, I don’t subscribe to the “HAVE TO” of anything, as you know. But I sure do love blogging. Unfortunately, I know as well as you do that it is a huge time-suck and can be a financial drain as well, especially between book releases. Well, I wanted to share with you a really cool program to help you monetize your blog that I’m excited about after years of following Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins (who you’ve probably seen me mention more than once on the blog!) I met the man behind helping these awesome men monetize their blogs, Matt McWilliams, and he is teaching people how to do affiliate marketing. He’s got some awesome freebies for my audience.

The internet is an amazing invention

It has made so many things possible that our grandparents and great-grandparents couldn’t even imagine.

I mean, heck, you and I might be thousands of miles apart, and yet I wrote this blogpost and you received it within a few minutes!

The internet has also made thousands upon thousands of people very, very successful.

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Larry Page and countless others all made millions because of the internet…

But for every Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg there are thousands who struggle every day to monetize their online platform.

Maybe you’re one of them.

Or maybe you would just like to make a little bit (or a lot) more money online.

If that’s you, I want to share a BRAND NEW guide that you HAVE to read!

My friend, Matt McWilliams just released his brand new ebook, Affiliate Freedom: The Quick Start Guide To Making Money Online Without Creating a Product and it. is. AWESOME!

Get it free here

In this guide, Matt breaks down why you should be doing affiliate marketing and even gives you his “START” method to help you monetize your blog immediately!

I have to tell you, I honestly think Matt should be selling this book…there is that much great info inside it!

On page 5 Matt says “Businesses monetize. Hobbies give away content indefinitely” (Sound like your author blogs?) And the things Matt shares in this guide will show you how to monetize YOUR business immediately!

Start Brainstorming

Now, this isn’t focused directly at authors. This is for anyone interested in running affiliate programs. But when he’s talking about programs you can target, let us give you a hand in brainstorming:

You’re targeting readers, so you can use affiliate programs like Amazon Associates when you do book reviews. But that doesn’t pay a whole lot. So why not look at something like Owl Crate or any of these awesome book subscription boxes?

Kindle isn’t the only e-reader. Often if you can get an affiliate position, you can get the product for review for free.

Reach out to the top publishers in your genre. Notice that Booktube BLEW up with Sarah J. Mass’ latest book? That wasn’t an accident. A lot of booktubers make their money through affiliate links.

Do you write about interesting locales? Reach out and become an affiliate to a BnB, local businesses, or travel agents who your readers might contact to go visit that location.

With a new perspective, I bet there are lots of ways you can think of to incorporate affiliate marketing into monetizing your blog.

If you’re tired of not making any money with your blog, go grab this book right now.

If you want to diversify your income and cover your monthly expenses, go grab this book right now.

If you want more freedom to live the life that you dream of, you need to go grab this book right now!

Grab your copy here:

https://npnp.mattmcwilliams.com/quickstart?affiliate_id=1147346

And after you take the course, if you want additional help brainstorming specifically for your blog, let me know in the comments below. I’m always happy to help!

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

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Why My Blood, Sweat, and Tears Are No Longer Free

Why My Blood, Sweat, and Tears Are No Longer Free

Hello Lovelies,

I’m going to go on a tiny rant today. I recently read the latest Smashwords Yearly Report. The most depressing finding:

“Free books get about 41 times more downloads than books at any price….”

Now, one author blamed Smashwords for this, but I was quick to come back that Amazon started the whole free craze. Is it Amazon’s fault? Not really.

Readers will take a free book from an author who they have never heard of but are not as willing to spend $1.99 for said author. Is that the reader’s fault? Not really. We’ve conditioned them to expect free stuff.

Marketing advice says to use a free book to garner reviews, to hook readers into reading more of your books, and to get them to sign up for your blog. Is it the marketers’ fault? Not really.

Authors place their books perma-free or use “free days” to try to be competitive. Is it the authors placing their book for free who are to blame? Ok… a lot yes, but still, not really. (Yes, because if we as the publishers refused to play this game and stuck united to show that it is not ok to devalue our work, then this might not be such a prolific problem.)

So who is to blame? All of us.

Would you be willing to work for free? It just cannot be done. Yet authors are giving their books away for free right and left. Publishers are paying a pittance for royalties. It’s bad, people.

I work 80+ hours a week, writing, marketing, creating free content to entice readers, calling radio shows, podcasts, libraries, bookstores.

You don’t even want to know what I get paid. It is tragic. No one in their right mind would do this! All the great reviews in the world do not feed and clothe my family.

Why do authors do it?

Because we are led to believe that if we just push hard enough, get a good grassroots campaign going, build a big enough reader base, that someday we will be like Stephen King!

I know, we cannot all be Stephen King. But when I am being told that readers are not willing to pay less than they pay for their daily cup of coffee for something that took me longer to create than my son… Wow.

When artists are not supported by society, art dies. That is why we get cliche movies at the box office, mindless video games sucking at our souls, and trite TV shows that my 13-year-old can guess what will happen next.

We consumers tolerate it. In fact, some of us revel in it. Which is why the capitalist machine that drives the industry of art keeps slinging the same old garbage. And we complain. We bemoan that there are no original ideas left.

But there are. You just aren’t willing to pay for them. You aren’t willing to promote them. That is why they languish in obscurity under the oppression of “Free”.

Think I am being too harsh? Well, I understand. But this is not the first time I have said something along these lines!

I advocated not giving work away for free back when I first started publishing 7 years ago!

But I buckled under. I gave my books away for free.

I have given away five times the number of books I have sold. Would you give away 50,000 hours of counseling for free, in hopes of getting 10,000 billable hours?

Would you give away 5,000 ice cream cones, to sell 1,000?

No! It is not a sound business model!

But society expects authors to do so. And if those freebies resulted in something, maybe it would not be so bad.  I gave away 75 copies of Hell School: Fresh Meat for reviews. If I had gotten 75 reviews for it, then that would have been worth it. Go ahead, take a look on Goodreads and Amazon.  One could say I got 19 reviews, but if you pay close attention, more than half of those reviews are overlaps. I probably got 15, if I was lucky. And I know that a few of them were reviews from someone who bought the book (THANK YOU!!) So I gave away 75 copies of my book to get maybe 12 reviews…

I gave away copies of The Hunters for those who signed up on my blog. I am trading a book that took me a lot of work to produce for their email and tons of FREE content I provide to them each week. I got over 3K downloads. 856 remain on the list. I have 49 reviews. 49!

Seriously, people. When we create a world of givers and takers, the givers will run out of things to give. (or starve to death.)

Then what?

Art will die. It is already dying, slow agonizing gasps, pleading for people to support it.

But why support art when you can get so much of it for free?

Well, we all know what readers can do. What can you as an author do?

Stop giving your books away willy nilly. Are you getting reviews from it? Are you keeping subscribers from it?

Don’t do it. I am done giving my blood, sweat, and tears away for free. I have a new policy. I only give away a handful of copies of each book a year to people who aren’t book reviewers/ bloggers. Book reviewers and bloggers, I will give those away and I will track their reviews. When they post mine, I share the crap out of it to support their work. Even if it’s a 2 star review.

What else can I do?

I am done taking other authors’ blood, sweat, and tears. Every author interview, every book review, and now on my Patreon.  I use part of those funds every month to buy books from authors and gift those to my Patrons. It’s a win/win/win. My readers get that “free” book, the authors get paid, and I have patrons.

I have been getting A LOT of kickback about my Patreon account. There are a lot of readers who think that authors on Patreon are being unreasonable. Don’t believe me? Here’s a pretty tame thread on Goodreads discussing it. I’ve gotten far worse. But unless we as authors and reviewers change the dynamics, it will only get worse from here.

We cannot let our artists starve.

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

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Building an E-Newsletter Part 3 of 5: Who to Ask to the Dance

Building an E-Newsletter Part 3 of 5: Who to Ask to the Dance

Hello Lovelies,

Who’s excited about what e-newsletter provider to use? *Crickets*

(If you missed out on the rest of the 5 part e-newsletter series, it is as follows: the importance of having an e-mail newsletter,  the broad planning of what you will offer, choosing a Service Provider, and What goes in the Welcome Email, Just Because You Build it, Doesn’t Mean they’ll Come. be sure to see the whole series.)

I know. The thought of picking an e-newsletter provider is just overwhelming, right? I wasted almost a YEAR trying to decide. But I made a New Year’s resolution to break free of the Perfectionist Trap and took this quote as my inspiration:

There are hundreds of different email marketing providers out there. Probably more. Now, before you think “Can’t I just email them from my google/ Yahoo/ Outlook?” please keep in mind that in this case you can’t because of this lovely thing called the CAN-SPAM act. There’s a lot to it, but the important points are that if you are sending mass transmissions (IE, an e-newsletter) then the person on the receiving end has some rights. 1. They have to have subscribed. You can’t just add everyone in your list. 2. They have to be able to UNSUBSCRIBE at any time that they choose. And about seven other important things that you really should read for yourself. Go click on the link above. I don’t have a lot of space here, people!

Which E-newsletter Tool to Use

So now that you’re back, we need to talk about what e-mail marketing provider to use. This is tricky, and the thing that hung me up for about a year. Getting an e-newsletter set up is an arduous process. I know, I did it for my old job. But I didn’t have the budget to go with the provider they went with.

However, because of working with the Lambo of e-mail marketing services, I knew all the cool bells and whistles I wanted/needed and most of the other guys don’t provide them all. Which is a little sad. We work with the budget we have, though, right?

So, you do want to know what bells and whistles you want. You also want to know what you can afford. You need to have a good sense of how technically inclined you are, and how technically challenging the software is.

Here is a great Top Ten Mailchimp Alternatives list so you can look at features and compare in-depth, but his graphic is really amazing:

Also, Tim Grahl and several other big-name authors are big fans of ConvertKit

I researched them all, over and over and over until I couldn’t remember who offered what. I created an ugly excel spreadsheet version of the pretty graphic above and listed every single feature listed on every single platform.

But at the end of the day, I chose Mailchimp. It lets you have 2k subscribers free. I figured it was a good test run and although the cost after that is higher than many of the other plans, it offered the features I was most interested in (Automation, A/B testing, advanced segmentation, social media ad integration, online store connection, and incredible analytics!) so my e-newsletter could grow as my business grows. A test run proved to be pretty user-friendly. (Secret Confession: I am technically illiterate and am just really good at faking it! I’m like that dyslexic kid in 4th grade who always carried a book around so people thought she could read, but technology really is a huge struggle for me and NEW technology, NO, PLEASE, NO! My husband holds my hand A LOT, techno whizz that he is!)

Even after Wix (My website provider at the time. I told you I am techno-illiterate!) stopped supporting the Mailchimp subscriber plug-in (NO!) I changed my blog to WordPress, because while it was arduous, I would rather do that than change from Mailchimp

Now, if all that stuff I just said is a bit overwhelming, don’t panic. Those are all really advanced features that you might not need right now. So let’s unpack the things you do want to have, whichever provider you choose:

Must Haves for an Author Newsletter

  1. You want the provider you choose to offer a subscribe form to allow people to automatically subscribe. It’s even better if that button can be used in multiple places. Every single one of the options on these lists offers this. Even MailerLite. (For the super techno-illiterate who also knows little about marketing. This is like riding a trike. No harm starting here if that’s what you prefer.)  Why is this important? If they can’t subscribe, you can’t email them, right? And if you have to create a form yourself, you will have to regularly import all those people into your mailer. My workaround on my website was that I used Wix’s blog subscription, which meant that every week before I sent my e-newsletter, I would have to import all of those people into Mailchimp. It was a pain. If you can avoid that hassle, do it at all costs.
  2. You want an auto-responder as soon as they subscribe. This allows you to make sure that you don’t end up in their spam, thank them for joining you, and if you give a sample away, it sends it to them automatically. Why? Well, when I first started with Mailchimp, they didn’t have that for free. Which meant that I had to send an email every time someone subscribed giving them that information. I didn’t do it at first, and found I was losing a lot of subscribers on their first email. Why? Some of them forgot a week later that they had subscribed, or didn’t understand what they were signing up for. Since I added my autoresponder my unsub rate has dropped from 30% (Kinda high!) to less than 2%. We’ll talk more next week on what to put in the autoresponders, but for those who want to see how mine works. Feel free to subscribe. You’ll also get awesome bookish e-news in your inbox once a month!
  3. Fits your budget. A lot of these offer free features up to XX numbers of subscribers or XX number of emails sent. You have to weigh out when your list might become profitable if you need your book sales to pay for your project. For me, Mailchimp allows 2K free subscribers before you start getting charged. There wasn’t a limit on the number of emails. That was important to me as I was sending weekly e-newsletters and most of those weren’t selling my books. I know that I only publish 3-5 books a year, and even with sales, that list wasn’t going to be able to support sales for awhile. (Keep in mind that the average sales conversion rate is less than 24% of your audience. And I doubt they will be buying each book more than once. It’s complicated math. My husband did it for me.)

Those are the three basic things you really must have. (Besides the Can-Spam requirements, but I don’t remember coming across a single company that didn’t provide those, and certainly all the ones mentioned here do.)  

Extra Features You May Want

If you are a multi-genre author or offer multiple services besides your e-books, you might want to include:

  1. List segmentation- This means that you can have a subscriber list for each genre. I plan to do this in the near future because I’ve learned that not everyone wants that weekly e-newsletter, and not all my readers cross all my genres. I will put the e-newsletter sign up for those segments in the back of each genre to match that segmentation so I don’t lose people. I’m still in the world view stage working on those.
  2. Good Analytics- Authors do not spend enough time looking at analytics (except maybe their sales and KENP charts, I think!) I get it. I’m not a fan of stats. Trying to understand what everything means is a bit of a brain wrap. But those analytics let you know if what you are doing is working people down the sales funnel. For example, just because you send an email out to your 500 subscribers, doesn’t mean they all open it and read it. Right? It also doesn’t tell you if after they opened it, they clicked on anything inside it, let alone what they clicked on.  Mailchimp offers analytics, but they are based on open rates as reported by e-mail providers and that’s spotty, at best. I linked google analytics to my Mailchimp and according to Mailchimp, I only have a 24% open rate (A little above average) and a 2% click-thru (A little below average.) However, thanks to google analytics, I know that my click-thru on most emails is actually closer to 15%, which is really high! The key to this information is that you have to direct people to your website link rather than your amazon link if you want to be able to track this information. But it is definitely worth it!

Now, are you a social media hound and do social media advertising? You want social media ad integration to grow your list. (Yep, I cared, and Mailchimp has it.)

Do you have a webstore? You want the online store integration. (This is a paid feature on Mailchimp, but I know one day I plan on having this, so I wanted it with Mailchimp too.)

Are you ready to flex your marketing muscles? A./B testing allows you to send out slightly different e-newsletters to different parts of your list to see which one performs better. This allows you to improve your content to get better analytics and constantly up your e-newsletter game!

I know, this is a lot to  unpack, and we only had a little bit of space, but if you have questions go ahead and drop them in the comments below. I’m always happy to help!

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Exclusive Networking Isn’t Snobbery- Why You Need to be Picky

Exclusive Networking

Hello Lovelies,

We, especially in the Indie community, are always told to be inclusive. Don’t get me wrong, I am big on being inclusive. But when it comes to networking, it is a good call to be a bit more exclusive. Now, I don’t mean to shun people, by any means. But when you are looking for readers, you want the right readers who will most appreciate your book. Pitching a sci-fi adventure to a group of romance readers will almost always fall to deaf ears. So when you are networking, you want to connect with people who are most likely to help you get in front of an audience open to your books, and who will most appeal to your audience.

Be a Genre Snob

Focus on influencers in your genre. Whether that be authors, book reviewers, bloggers, or publishers, make sure they are in your genre. As you build out, you can look at genres that have a good cross-over audience (for example, Fantasy and Urban Fantasy have a good cross-over. Romance and Women’s lit have a good cross-over.)

Book Queen.jpg

Focus on People at Your Level or Above

At least, to start. This is the same principle as the lobsters trying to crawl out of the pot. It sounds harsh, but let’s be real. How much help can you as a struggling author provide a newbie? Not a whole lot. You have to get more than halfway up the visibility chain before you can try to pull others along with you, otherwise you are all just a bunch of lobsters trying to pull one another to get leverage, and none of you are getting out of the pot. Sarah Vermunt in 3 Reason You Should Network Less has a great point in number 2. If you’re talking to people who can’t help you, you’re talking to the wrong people.

However, if you can follow and connect with people at your level or above, follow their advice, and build up your following, eventually you can become an influencer and help build up those at the bottom.

Practice Quid Pro Quo

This doesn’t have to be literally “I do an interview for you on my blog, and you do an interview for me on your blog” or trading reviews, or newsletter swaps. But don’t find yourself in the trap of doing things for others all the time, and not getting anything back. I did that for quite a few years. There were people who were constantly asking me to do things, but when I needed something and asked there were crickets. Not cool. It’s hard to keep that balance, especially if you really connect with someone on a personal level. Always be the person to offer help to someone before you ask for a return, but also keep a mental tab. If that person doesn’t return the favor when you ask for help, don’t be so available next time. The flip side of this, when someone helps you out (by doing a review, giving an interview, etc.) be sure you do your part. Say thank you (even if you feel they left you a bad review.) Share that post on your social media pages, link that post to your blog to give them greater credibility with google. Be there when they need help. Don’t be a user, and don’t get used.

 And that leads to our final tip:

Be Exclusive With Your Time

Michael Hyatt has a great podcast about saying no without feeling guilty. All the top entrepreneurs of the world say what sets them apart is knowing when to say no. It’s really hard, especially when you are low on the totem pole. You want to say yes to everything. Suddenly you find yourself overextended with no time to work on your own projects. So before you say yes to that guest blog post, that takeover event, that proofreading project, ask yourself two important questions:

1. What will this require of me?

2. Does this help me get to my overall goal? If the answer to the first question is greater than the impact to the second question, pass.

We’ve learned today that it isn’t bad to be exclusive with our networking time and energy, that we have to be careful to weigh the balance of helping others vs helping ourselves, and that it’s important to be able to say no without guilt.

Now, go get to networking, build those alliances that will help achieve your goals and your alliances’ goals. Questions about networking? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

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Crank It Out Detailed Review, and Should Authors Do This?

Crank It Out Detailed Review, and Should Authors Do This?

Hello Lovely authors,  

I have debated and debated how best to address this issue that I have been struggling with and it really came to a head after attempting to read Crank it Out: The Surefire Way to Become a Super Productive Writer by C.S. Lakin.

I want to preface this with stating that I am actually a huge fan of C.S. Lakin. I have been following her blog for writers, Live Write, Thrive for over a year now. She provides a ton of great advice (especially for new writers) and I find it a great tool for refreshers and to reference for fellow author friends.

I was really excited when I heard she was releasing a book called Crank it Out, geared around a hot button topic for a lot of authors right now, the “need” to publish more books, more quickly, in an effort to make a living.

I’ll be honest, I want to make a living as an author. We all do, right? But I, like many authors I know, make a living another way.

I KNOW that we can make a living. I see indie authors in the 20Booksto50K  Facebook group reporting it ALL the time, but I’m not there. I tried updating covers, based on recommendations to that effect. I tried marketing strategies, I tried advertising, I have tried A LOT.  

The old adage used to be that it took 5 books before an author was able to build enough of a fan base to make it. But at 8 books, as of this article, I’m still not making enough money to cover my bills. If I let up on marketing every single book even a little bit, my sales plummet. (Like, I can go months without a sale on books. It’s brutal.)

The hot advice out now is to publish more often. So, I’ve been trying to figure that whole process out. How do I write more, edit more, afford more covers, promote more, and make more money?

CrankItOut.jpg

Hence, Crank it Out, and my excitement to read it. But I couldn’t even finish the book. Why? Because, even though she makes a big deal about creating quality books, this book felt like she just vomited words onto the page. Offering most of the same advice seen in every life hack, tip, trick, and Motivational Speaker I’ve seen in the last couple of years, and just adding “to be a great writer” instead of entrepreneur. The structure was lacking, there was a lot of repetition, the chapters felt disorganized and cluttered, and I didn’t get anything new. I gave up reading it once I hit the 80% mark.

Perhaps I am suffering a bit of cognitive dissonance, but I feel like I am hearing the same advice that was thrown out to bloggers about five years ago. “Content is King, you need to produce more content!” and then the market got flooded with crappy content (and is still being flooded with crappy content, TBH) and more content is being produced in a day, than the world could even consume. (Yup, I know, very few people will probably even read this blog post.)

And that has been going on with books for a while now. According to the latest Bowker Report (September 7, 2016), more than 700,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2015, which is an incredible increase of 375% since 2010. Whereas 2.71 billion in units were sold, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) Mind you, those billion units sold, include books published since the dawn of time, not just the units published in 2015.

I’m not sure if these figures are only tracking traditional publishing, ISBNs, or all books (including the millions only published on KDP, or using free ISBNs offered from direct publishing outlets like Smashwords and Draft2Digital) But any way that you slice it, the overall sales did not grow, even though the number of books published did grow by leaps and bounds! And the new advice to produce more books for that market of limited readers, I fear, will lead to an ever increasing supply to a dwindling demand.

As more and more authors rush to produce faster, the quality will drop. I’ve already gotten reports from readers that quality is dropping. As a reader myself, I am seeing it. (And not just in indie books. Traditional is taking a hit with the mad rush as well.)

A thorough search doesn’t show where Amazon has reported the number of readers using KU, however, I’ve heard from several readers that they are cancelling because the books aren’t good, there are too many errors (Amazon has made strident efforts to change this, with removing user-reported books from the program) and the cost isn’t worth it as they cannot consume enough books to justify the $9.99 a month.

On the author end, so many authors have jumped on the bandwagon that those who were once making a decent living through KU are now struggling. Many authors who see a bump in reads thanks to promotion, are getting their accounts shut down and books removed, and have to jump through horrendous hoops to get their rights re-instated.

That will only get worse as more authors pump out more books, flooding the market.

So what is the point of this incredibly long post? To be honest, I am sharing the many things flying through my mind, and through the minds of many other authors that I know.

I will admit that I don’t know what I’m doing any more than anyone else does. However, in my gut I don’t feel that the right answer is to throw out more books at a rapid pace, as there isn’t enough demand as is.

I have taken a hard look at my publishing plans and schedule, what I need to do to build up my audience base, and to sell more books.

I chased the idea of publishing more books more quickly, but I feel like all that does is spread my writing too thin. When someone in the 20 Books group asked for those members with more than 20 books on the market, who weren’t making $50K to raise their hand, I was devastated by the overwhelming number who chimed in, confirming my gut instinct.

I have decided that none of that will help me get to my goal. I don’t want to be a flash in the pan, a hack writer chasing the hot thing at that moment, or a NYT Bestseller because I bought thousands of copies myself.

I am going backwards. I am going to re-build my base and publish as wide as possible, getting e-book, paperback, hardback, and audiobook all under the same ISBNs. Then I am going to market as wide as possible, setting up book signings, targeting radio outlets, traditional media, promoting with flyers, at conventions, renting a booth at flee markets, whatever it takes to get my books out there.  

Stephen King talked about selling books out of the trunk of his car when he first started. I’m going back to that. I’m going to focus on pressing the flesh and meeting the readers, engaging, and promoting.

And for the writing side of it, I will wait until it’s the best that I can produce. I will focus on telling the story in my heart, not chasing the story that I hope will sell. Will this make me money? I don’t know. I was pursuing this approach for nearly three of the seven years that I’ve been publishing, and was losing money at every turn.

But I know that I can’t stop writing. I also know that I don’t just write for my personal pleasure. I want the world to read. I have to find the way for the world to see me, to know me, for me to stand out in the ever growing crowd of authors who are searching for the same thing.

Will this get me where I want to go? I don’t know. But the one thing I do know is that I cannot give up. I cannot quit. It isn’t in me.

Until next time,

Keep Writing!