ZOO – TV Show Review (episodes 1-2)

If you follow me on Goodreads you already know my thoughts on the novel that inspired this TV series.

All in all, Zoo is a good premise but in the book, at least, it was executed poorly. I was hopeful for the TV series because things that are glaring in written word can sometimes be less obnoxious on television.

Unfortunately, two episodes in and I already found myself questioning and rolling my eyes more than I should have for a story of this type.

For me, with stories like this, the key is realism. If I don’t feel like this could ACTUALLY happen, I can’t enjoy it. Having characters that make questionable decisions is one thing, having things happen that simply couldn’t happen is another.

I don’t want this review to have spoilers, so I’m not going to specifically name the moments that made me roll my eyes and go: Riiiiiiight. Instead, I’ll let you either find or not find those elements for yourself.

Without the eye rolling I would probably enjoy Zoo. I think the premise is interesting and entertaining. The suspense is very well paced.

It’s just those dang eye rolls… they get me every time.

All in all I WOULD tell people to give this one a try but just know if you’re like me you’ll probably be too annoyed to really get into it.

Peace!

Why You Should NEVER ask the KDP Community for Help

If you’re unfamiliar with what the KDP community, it is the place where Amazon Authors congregate to ask for assistance with Amazon’s features. There is also a place where you can ask for formatting assistance.

My word program, unfortunately, is crazy about quotation marks. It sends them every which direction at will. Search/replace does not work to fix this issue so I went to the KDP community to ask for assistance.

My initial post explained my problem, along with a screenshot (I didn’t know which version of Word I was running and so posted my menu in hopes they would be able to identify which version of Word it was via the toolbar).

The first reply was some rude person pointing out that they can’t help if they don’t know what version of Word I’m running. I CLEARLY stated I didn’t know, along with a toolbar screenshot. When this was pointed out (or repeated, I suppose) they continued snarking at me about how EASY it is to check what version it is and BLAH BLAH. Completely ignoring my issue and not helping in the least.

The next person started with telling me how useless smart quotations are, but finished with saying I was the problem, I was the one messing the formatting up and… basically, that I was wasting their time. Very polite, very useful response /sarcasm font.

This community is one of the most toxic and least helpful I have ever encountered in my writing journey. I have been monitoring the posts and have now posted twice, both times asking fairly simple questions and getting outright rude and useless responses. This place is NOT the place to get answers. There also seems to be many users who are either offering BAD advice and/or outright WRONG advice and/or just being rude to be rude.

If you are a self-published author looking for assistance, I highly suggest seeking a different community. I have had GREAT experiences in online writing groups (on Facebook). Generally the groups there have moderators who make sure all members maintain a certain level of basic human politeness. KDP does not seem to have this feature.

Now, if you’d like a name of Facebook groups I think you should AVOID, send me a message. I’d rather not name them publicly, there are quite a few. Over the last several years I have been monitoring and ‘testing’ a majority of groups.

In my experience, the best Facebook group I’ve found so far is called Writer’s United – Author’s Group. It provides a safe place to ask questions and for the most part even the simplest questions aren’t treated with rudeness (although there may be exceptions to that rule).

I feel like this blog is becoming a self-publishing tips and tricks blog or something. Haha! I just want to help my fellow self-pub authors by sharing the things that worked for me and the things that didn’t.

 

Peace! ❤

Thunder Clap Campaign – Worth it?

In this journey I made a conscious decision to make notes of all the online advertising I do and to share with everyone what worked and what didn’t. When I made the decision to try self-publishing I saw there was tons of information out there but a lot of it was a bit too vague for my liking so I wanted to provide something that just gave hard numbers. That’s all, just numbers.

What is Thunderclap?

It’s a very simple concept – it’s spam en masse. ‘Supporters’ who join a Thunder Clap campaign agree to post one advertisement on the authors behalf on a specific day, all at the same time. I think the point is to somehow trend but I think most self-pub authors aren’t going to have enough support to do that.

What did I like about it?

It was actually fun to see people signing up to ‘support’. It gave me warm fuzzy feelings.

What I didn’t like.

The day the Thunder Clap went live I had an epiphany… this is spam. This is exactly the thing I dislike when it comes to online advertising. It’s an impersonal message that 100 people tweeted on my behalf… but it’s 100 of the same message over and over… it’s like a spam email.

What are the numbers?

I’m an unknown author. This is my first work. And this Thunder Clap rustled up exactly 3 sales. 3. I feel like my dignity is worth more than that. LOL.

Now, I have other friends who have larger fanbases who managed more sales but nothing ground breaking and nothing that couldn’t have been rustled up in other ways, I’m sure.

Should you try a Thunder Clap?

That’s entirely up to you but think about what it is, what it does and ask yourself: Do I want 100 people to spam the internet? Or do I want to inspire them to talk about my book in their own way in their own words?

For me, I hope people read my story, like it and tell their friends. That would be the ideal marketing/advertising.

So that’s it for me and Thunder Clap. It was a brief affair and now it’s over. Good luck Thunder Clap… and good bye. *tips hat*

Peace!

 

Publishing a Paperback Novel Through Createspace

Now, before you do anything else, I need you to ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Are you legally cleared to use the cover you’re going to use? Are all the images properly licensed and acquired? Grabbing an image from google image search and slapping your title on top of it does not a legal cover make. You can check out my post here for some tips on cover making: https://t.co/TrZK0BYrMV
  2. Do you have time for the proofing process? This can take anywhere from days to weeks (depending on how you proof).

Okay, got the legalities cleared? You’re ready to start?

The first step is simply to fill in all the information. You can have Createspace automate an ISBN, if your book is already on Amazon you just tell Createspace as much. My biggest advice for this part of the process is just READ EVERYTHING. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

There are 12 steps to completing the publishing process on Createspace.

  1. Enter your Title information. PLEASE NOTE, your title needs to match your KDP (e-edition) perfectly. Subtitle would be the series title and title is the title of that individual novel. For example my series is Children of Dreki and the novel is TYR. I SHOULD have placed TYR in the title section and Children of Dreki in the subtitle but I was stupid and didn’t. This is also where you enter author info (also must match your KDP profile) and etc.
  2. ISBN. This is where you can have Createspace automate an ISBN.
  3. Interior. This is where you upload the file for your novel. If you are using special fonts I would suggest creating a pdf file of the document, this will ’embed’ the fonts and force them into the document. Otherwise you can upload your Word doc or whichever other format they allow (I’m not sure. I only use Word). Please note, there IS an interior reviewer. USE IT. It’s fairly accurate. You can check to make sure paragraph indents and page layouts are correct. It will take time, but it will SAVE you time and money if you go through this process.
  4. Cover. I have more notes on the cover process below, but this is simple. Just upload your cover. If you have your own cover just go into the Cover Creator and click on the appropriate layout for a self-made cover (I forget what it’s called but search through the templates and you’ll find it!). Then upload your cover. I would suggest testing the cover by adding the spine elements (IE: Tell it to add the name and title to the spine and make sure YOUR name and title on your cover match, then make sure you remove those elements before continuing).
  5. Complete Setup. Just what it says. 😛
  6. File Review. This is the process where Createspace reviews everything and make sure it meets their standards. Once they’re done reviewing it moves on to…
  7. Proof Your Book. On this page you can choose to order a proof copy of the novel. The first time you use Createspace I STRONGLY suggest ordering a physical copy. You can use this copy to ensure the cover worked out correctly but also to search for any editorial mistakes that were missed previously.
  8. Channels. This is where you choose where you want to make the novel available. Just click the channels you want to be part of. This is where you determine if you want your book to be available to bookstores and libraries or not.
  9. Pricing. Just what it sounds like! Choose a price! Createspace will give you the minimum and then you decide from there what you want to charge. I suggest doing some research. See what books in your genre generally sell for in paperback form. Don’t price too high or you won’t get ANY sales…
  10. Cover Finish. Matte or Glossy. I personally used glossy. My cover is dark and it looked HORRIBLE on the matte finish. The matte finish is REALLY soft though. It makes me sad I couldn’t use it.
  11. Description. This is the blurb of the novel! Remember to enter keywords so people searching for your genre can find your book.
  12. Publish on Kindle. THIS might be where I went wrong. I filled this page out thinking it wasn’t a big deal. I’m not sure… but I think if you fill this section out then approve your proof it’s automatically published. So don’t even TOUCH this page until you’re ready to publish. And don’t approve that proof until you’re ready to publish, just to be safe. If you’ve already published the ebook on Amazon, let Createspace know this. It WILL link the two novels together, if you titled them properly.

A couple of notes:

  1. You cannot set a paperback to pre-order unless/until you join this special doodle club thinger. I know nothing about it so I can’t help you with setting a paperback to pre-order. Sorry. ):
  2. Your cover is going to be tricky, especially if you’re doing it yourself. If you’re not doing it yourself your cover artist just needs to know the page numbers and book size (I used 5.5×8.5 personally). If you ARE creating your own cover, you can download a handy dandy template here: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do. I used the template as a layer over everything so I could make sure it all lined up. There is a bleeding edge. Make sure NO writing, or important elements (logos, etc) fall into those red edges.
  3. If your paperback and ebook editions don’t link up on Amazon (meaning, they don’t show up on the same page) just contact Amazon. Give them the ISBN of each novel and the rest of your novel information and they will link it up for you.

See how easy that all was! SUPER EASY!

This part isn’t the hard part. The hard part is making SURE your novel is ready for public viewing. Edit. edit. Edit. EDIT. Get people to advance read. Get as many opinions as you can. Hopefully people will be honest and tell you if it’s not ready for publishing. Hopefully they’ll be equally honest if it IS ready for publishing.

As a self-publisher it is our duty to do our due-diligence. We don’t have a publishing team to be our quality control so we have to figure out how to be our OWN quality control.

Take pride in your work and do what needs to be done to make it SHINE.

Good luck!

Peace!

How Many Pages Should a Novel Be?

Screenshot 2016-04-23 09.19.09
HOW MANY PAGES IS THAT???
While I was editing this morning I popped up my stats and it made me think of my writing groups.
 
I often see questions about how many pages should a novel be? How many pages should a chapter be? How many words? Etc.
 
The thing is… it doesn’t matter. There is no absolute rule.
 
How many pages should a novel be?
The number of pages will vary depending on formatting. My novel, for example, is 351 pages when formatted for publishing but only 176 when on a full 8.5×11 page setup. Page numbers do not matter, word count does.
 
Well, then, how many words should a novel be?
Depends. On your genre, on your audience, on the age group you’re writing for. The general rule is novels should be at LEAST 70K (a safe zone for most genres). But if you’re writing in fantasy or sci-fi the bottom line is 90K and if you’re writing for YA it can be 60K or even lower. So, know your genre. A good rule of thumb is to look for a publisher who publishes books like what you plan to write, look at their submission guidelines and use their minimum word count as your goal.
 
But… how many pages should my chapters be?
That’s entirely up to you. It honestly doesn’t matter. Martin writes chapters that vary from one page per chapter to 20 pages or 40 pages per chapter. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to end your chapters you can end them when you finish a ‘scene’. I, personally, like the ‘each chapter is it’s own story’ method. They begin and end with a question (for example, character A is looking for a cup. At end of chapter she’s found cup but in finding it she realized she also needs a spoon so now she has to figure out where that’s gone). BUT, you can do whatever feels right for your story.
 
Should all my chapters be the same length?
Nope. They don’t have to be. There is no rule. There is no chapter god who will strike you dead because your chapters weren’t all the exact same number of pages. Trust me. 😛 Chapter One of my novel is 30 pages (when formatted). After that chapters vary from 10 pages to 20.
 
Final Thoughts
Don’t worry about all this stuff. Not when you’re drafting. When you’re writing that story down JUST WRITE. Who cares about the mechanics. Who cares about any of the rules. Just tell your story. Once you have your first draft you can start worrying about word count and page numbers… but trust me, you WILL meet your goal. It will be hard work, and it will require making some painful choices (but I don’t WANT to cut that scene out. I loved it!!!!) but if you’re willing to do the work your draft will turn into a dazzling manuscript.
 
Keep working!
 
You’ve got this.
 

 

The Little Engine That Couldn’t Get Out of Bed

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I have always been sad. From as far back as I can remember. The sadness that envelopes me is like a heavy blanket that weighs me down and makes me want to quit. I can function, I can push through it and keep moving forward, but it’s always there tugging on my shoulders.

I can’t speak about clinical depression but if you too are sad, I have some advice for you.

Don’t.

Stop.

Moving.

For me the key to overcoming sad has been to simply refuse to give it power.

The sad in me tells me I will fail. I ignore it and do the thing anyway.

The sad in me tells me my life will always be bleak. I strive for better anyway.

The sad in me tells me that everyone hates me. I love people with all my strength. If they won’t love me, I will love them.

The sad in me tells me everything I do is pointless and stupid. I tell the sad to get a life and keep doing the things.

No matter how the sad pulls and tears and rips apart at the core of me, I keep moving. It’s when I stop moving, even for a second, that the sad takes hold and I find myself sinking away into isolation and deeper sad.

The sad is like an undercurrent in life. As you swim, it’s there, ready to pull you under and drown you if you let it. So don’t let it.

Keep.

Moving.

Don’t ever listen to the sad. It’s lying to you. You CAN do the thing. You ARE loved. You WILL carve a life that makes you happy. You WILL succeed. The sad can’t stop you if you don’t let it.

My second piece of advice is… bring other people joy.

The single most effective way I’ve found of combating the sad, is to become joy for someone else. It can be cracking a joke, giving a hug, laughing, smiling, being kind … just small things that make other people’s days brighter.

Do you wonder why most comedians suffer from depression? You shouldn’t. Bringing joy to someone else counteracts the sad. It’s a coping mechanism, but it’s also my way of trying to stop the sad from consuming others.

If I can help someone else battle the sad, then I’ve accomplished something.

Strive to make yourself happy too, but don’t shy away from being a light for someone else.

My final piece of advice is…

You are worth it.

You’re worth all the stress of combating sad.

You’re worth all the tears of combating sad.

You’re worth all the struggles in the world.

Don’t ever give up on you.

Fight for you.

Don’t ever let sad win this battle.

THE WRITING PROCESS – in handy dandy point form

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1st Draft: OMG THIS IS GONNA BE SOOOO FREAKING GOOD! *writes with the speed of lightning*

1st Edit: This is so horrible… it’s all junk! I have to rewrite the entire thing!

1st Despair: I suck. I should just quit.

2nd Draft: OH YEAH! This is sooooo much better!!!!

2nd Edit: … OMG HAVE I LEARNED NOTHING! It’s almost all junk! Crap. I’ll just… I’ll rewrite most of the scenes.

2nd Despair: *eats copious amounts of ice cream and stares at other writers who seem content and perfectly mature* Jerks.

3rd Draft: These scenes are SO much better! YAS! I think I’ll actually get to keep them!

3rd Edit: Yes… Yes! I think… I think this is coming together! But… something is still missing?

3rd Despair: None yet. Just lots of uncertainty.

BETA STAGE

I am going to send this to alllll the people who want to read it. The feedback is going to be SO USEFUL and will help me perfect this beast!

Beta 1: It was nice. Now read my story!

Beta 2: It was fine. Now read my story!

Beta 3: Well, this didn’t work and this didn’t work and you need to fix this and *laundry list*

Beta 4: Yeah, I liked it. Now read my story!

Beta 5: GIVE ME THE NEXT BOOK IN THE SERIES! RAWR!

4th Edit: Gotta fix all the things the betas pointed out… well, the one beta pointed out.

4th Despair: This is as good as I can get it… what if this isn’t enough? WHAT IF IT’S STILL CRAP? WHAT IF ALL THOSE BETAS GAVE NO FEEDBACK BECAUSE IT JUST SUCKS THAT MUCH!? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

5th Edit: HOW AM I STILL FINDING MISTAKES?

6th Edit: OMG. This is… this is ridiculous. THERE ARE STILL MISTAKES!

7th Edit: *cries bitter, bitter tears – speechless with despair*

7th Despair: I suck. I suck. I suck. I suck.

FINAL SUBMISSION TO AMAZON AND/OR TO AN AGENT OR PUBLISHER

AMAZON: It’s done. It’s out there. There’s nothing I can do now… *checks the file* OMG! There are STILL mistakes!!! And I can’t fix them now. ): Crap.

AGENT/PUBLISHER: WHY AREN’T THEY RESPONDING?! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

And that, ladies and gents, is exactly how the writing process goes down. So be prepared and don’t give up!