Tag Archives: author

Absence Makes the Author’s Heart Grow Fonder

IMG_0383   So, I’ve been working on lots of things lately. Lots and lots. Do you ever have, like, a billion projects going on at once and none of them feels close to being completed? Once upon a time, I used to work on one book at a time. Not so anymore. I’m sure I could if I wanted, but, after publishing the Underground Trilogy, I found myself in a perpetual state of writing, plotting, planning, and editing…all at the same time.

It helps because I like to leave books alone for a little while (like the brilliant Stephen King suggests) so I can stop being so attached to the story and re-read it from a reader’s point of view. I also like to do this with trilogies and series because I have found that when I’m writing them one right after the other, I grow tired of the characters and the world. Not because it’s boring or anything, but because I’m a fickle Gemini that is obsessed with change.

For instance, I’ve been working on a trio of books called the Halo Trilogy, which is about a race of half-angels called, you guessed it, Halos, who’ve been called upon to save the world from the fallen angel known as Caducus. Two of the Halos–Aurora and Gray–find themselves unnaturally attracted to one another. They later find out that it actually has an otherworldly explanation.

I love these two characters. I love them because they are different from what I was used to writing. Aurora is headstrong and tough and, at times, even cruelly cold. For reasons wrapped up in her past. Gray, on the other hand, is gentle and kind and helpful. This is different for me because I was used to writing guys with dark secrets and brooding attitudes. Bad boys who wished they were good and all that. Gray sort of shattered all of those stereotypes. He balanced out Aurora and I loved him for it.

But, for some reason, writing these books began to drain me. I don’t know if it’s the world building or the depth I explore each character, but it has literally taken me three years to get through this trilogy. That may not seem like a lot to some writers, but since I’ve begun plotting, I can write books in only a few month’s time. What I’ve been doing with the Halo Trilogy, though, is finishing the books during NaNoWriMo. Something about the competitiveness and tight deadline helps me finish the novels.

And after this past year’s NaNoWriMo, when I finished the second book and started the third, I was so ready for a break from the Halo world. Now, it’s only July, and I’m so freaking ready to return and finish it. I’ve found myself thinking about Gray and Aurora, hating that I’ve left them hanging. I’m itching to come back to them.

Guess what they say is true. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

So, my advice to you, if you happen to find yourself in a place where you are bored with your characters and story…take a break. Maybe even a long one. Your readers and characters deserve a story you’re excited about. Your boredom will be evident between the lines. So, take a break. Eventually, the story will pull you back to it.

And, if not, maybe you were bored for a reason.

10 Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing Your Novel(s)

13413031_10104215777569918_790572402972533774_n

So, if you’ve read my older posts, you know that I took Bethany Claire’s class on self-publishing. It was…eye opening to say the least. As a USA Today Bestselling author, she knows her stuff. She’s got this down.

I thought I knew my stuff. But I didn’t. Like at all. I mean, I had the basics down and that was about it. But now I do. Thanks to her amazing class. And she was kind enough to give her permission to share her wisdom.

When self-publishing for the first time–or even the second or third–you are kind of going in blind for the most part. Unless you are friendly with another author who has done it before you and is willing to share their wisdom, then you are having to do the research almost all on your own.

Some people just want to publish one or two books, just to have them. And that’s great. But some people want to make a living out of writing. In that case, it’s important to look at self-publishing as a business. These 10 things are more for the latter.

There are SOOO many things to consider before clicking the “publish” button. But here are 10 of the most important ones:

1. Decide whether or not you will use a pen name

This is not a mandatory thing at all. I don’t personally use a pen name, at least at this time, because I love the sound of my real name and I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Some people think that it’s best to use a pen name so you can keep your professional life and personal life separate. Either way, decide this before all the rest of the steps. Because if you are using a pen name, you’ll want it to be attached to everything related  your business.

2. Buy your domain name

Hopefully, it’s not taken. If your name (or your pen name) is Bob Bobbington, then you’ll want to see if the domain name bobbobbington.com is available. If it is (YAY) then you should consider laying down the $100 or so to own it. It just looks more professional to have your name with .com at the end of it than to include a blog site title in there as well.

3. Set up your email account 

Once you have your domain, you’ll want to consider changing your address from @gmail.com to something like contact@bobbobbington.com or something like that. Also more professional. Fake it ’til you make it! 😉

4. Meet with an accountant

Whether you are wanting to establish an LLC or a Sole-Proprietorship, it’s important to meet with your accountant to discuss your intentions in regards to your business. They will be able to advise you and help you along the way.

5. Open a Post Office Box

This is mostly for those of you who plan to have a mailing list (which should probably be all of you if you want to keep readers coming back). Most sites like MailChimp require a mailing address, and it’s just best not to have your personal, home address listed at the bottom of every newsletter. Especially if you took the time to create a pen name!

6. Get a business bank account

This is mostly for those of you who decide to go the LLC route. It’s best to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses. It also makes it easier when tax season rolls around.

7. Open a PayPal Account for the business

Most of the services you’ll be paying for will accept PayPal. You are able to set up a Business PayPal Debit card, which will pull from your business account. They even have some cool features like money back and such. This also helps if you set up something on your website that people will need to pay you directly for (like signed books, etc.).

8. Plan to set aside 30% of royalties received for taxes

Your accountant will tell you more about this. All I will say is that you really don’t want to have tax season sneak up on you and not have enough money in your account to pay what you owe. As my mom used to say, “That money is not yours! It’s the government’s!”

9. Write a series! (Or at least think about it)

One of the secrets to making it big as a self-published author is writing a series. If someone buys book one and loves it, then they will probably buy book two and book three and so on and so on. The more books you have in a series, the more they will likely buy. If you aren’t a series writer, that’s okay. But know that, to make the money self-publishing some of us dream of making, it is necessary to keep producing a product. It sucks to call our babies (books) “product,” but that’s what it is.

10. Make a business plan

If you’re going to treat self-publishing as a business, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Know what you intend to make, know what you want to do in regards to how much you are willing to pay for covers, editing, formatting, advertising, marketing, etc. A lot of the time, you will have to have money up front. Hopefully, though, you will make back what you spent. And then some. 🙂

I will say that, no, I did not have all of this in place when I first self-published. But I SO wish I had. Again, not all of this is mandatory. But each one is something to consider and ponder before clicking “publish.”

 

Subscribe to Melody's Newsletter

West Texas A&M Writers’ Academy

Every year I escape to a writer wonderland in Canyon, Texas. The Writers’ Academy. It’s a week-long, intensive workshop setting where writers come in as one person and leave as somebody completely different.

When I completed my first novel, I didn’t even know there were other people like me out there. I mean, I did. But I didn’t know there were any close by. I reached out to a creative writing teacher I had when I attended Wext Texas A&M in 2009 and asked her for some advice on publishing. She gave me the contact information for a local writer named Jodi Thomas.

I did some research and learned that Jodi really knew her stuff. She was a New York Times Bestselling author and she was living only a few hours from me. I emailed her, not expecting to get an immediate response, but within a few days, I’d received a follow-up from her. She said that she would be in Lubbock the next week and asked if I wanted to meet for dinner to talk about writing.

Um. Yes, please!

So, we met and I got to talk to someone who was just like me. Someone who breathed writing like it was her life source. Then she told me about the Writers’ Academy. I had to come, she said. It would change my life.

And it did.

Imagine. An entire workshop of 50 or so people that are obsessed with the same thing you’ve been obsessed with for years. People who don’t think it’s strange to carry around journals or to jot down interesting names to use for a character. People who are filled with words just like you. This was my idea of paradise. And now I return every single year.

This year I will be taking Bethany Claire’s class on Self-Publishing. As a self-published author, you might think it would be pointless for me to take such a class. But I know I have so much to learn about this craft that is truly a business. Sure, I can write a book. I can write several books. But getting them out there when no one knows (or cares) who you are is more difficult than I ever imagined.

I’m excited and nervous. Nervous because I know I’m going to learn about the things that I should have done with my first four novels. I’m nervous because I know this class will be the catalyst I need to get my email list up and running and all the other stuff that goes along with publishing a novel. Self-pub or traditional.

I’m nervous. But I’m ready. 11048719_1092639154083643_1582680029528583240_n

 

That is SO overdone. (Shut your face.)

You know what annoys me? When people say “stop writing things like this” or “characters like this are overdone.” Then YOU stop writing things like that and YOU write about different characters.IMG_0581

If a writer, especially a new one, wants to write a YA story about a teen girl that gets saved by the dark, handsome, misunderstood, brooding, and totally unrealistic guy…then let them.

I’ve written eight books. My first book is admittedly WAY more juvenile than my eighth. It is riddled with cliches and crappy dialogue. But that’s how you learn to write. By spitting out what you are used to, what you’ve already read in a thousand other books a thousand times. Quit telling people what NOT to write. If they are writing ANYTHING at all, then they should be proud of that. I’m honestly tired of all the articles whining about how nothing is original anymore and that “so and so” characters are tired and overdone. So the eff what? Things like this make new writers second guess their stories and maybe even give up on it entirely.

We can’t all write the next great “wherever you live” novel 100% of the time.

Just write.

Let writers write.

Giving it All Away (Free E-Book Option on Amazon)

IMG_5044

Okay, maybe not giving it ALL away. But I did set OAKEN to FREE for 3 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still don’t know how all of the math-related statistical whatchamacallit stuff works on Amazon. I just decided to set my book to free when I released my second book, ASH, blindly hoping that maybe some people would download it and then go on to get the next book. Maybe. What happened, though, blew my mind.

IMG_5051 IMG_5053

People started to download it.

I’ll admit, the first day I probably refreshed the “sales” page and my book’s page a million times to see the numbers go up. By the end of the first day, 2,844 people had downloaded Oaken.

IMG_5074

Then, somehow, I managed to go to sleep. I randomly woke up at 1:33 AM, and, of course, checked the page to find that Oaken was #1 in the FREE Paranormal Fantasy category. What’s very strange to me, though, is that I never put my book into that category…because it’s not really paranormal in any way. This is one of the things I need to find out more about because it’s truly fascinating to me. It was almost as if Amazon was putting my book into the category it would do best in–the category where it would be ranked the highest.

IMG_5068

In the Young Adult Fantasy category, I reached the #2 spot and stayed there for the next two days. (Damn Relic wouldn’t budge.)

IMG_5064

And in the TOP FREE 100 I reached #46! MY MIND WAS BLOWN.

IMG_5072

On the very last day, I received an email from ebookdaily.com that my book would be featured that day in their Fantasy selection of free e-books.

IMG_5149

I’m telling you guys, I have whiplash from how fast and hard all of this hit me. So, I wasn’t making any money off of Oaken? So what? Look how many people saw and downloaded my book with the potential to buy my other books later. It was so incredible to experience. Truly.

IMG_5170

By the end of the last day (and apparently 49 units after midnight) 7,414 people downloaded OAKEN. 7,414 people that, let’s face it, probably wouldn’t have taken the leap to actually purchase the book for $3.99. I get it. There is a lot of self-published crap out there. But there are also a lot of jewels, hidden in the mountain of books online. It’s an overwhelming thing, really. So, I get why people wouldn’t want to take a chance on a self-published author like myself. But there is nothing to lose when they can download the book for free. And, if they like it, maybe they’ll keep coming back. 🙂

One of the coolest things, though, is that, even after the FREE period ended, I saw an enormous jump in sales. (45 PAID units total by the very end of the day on the 20th)

IMG_5186

As it stands–wait, lemme go refresh the page and give you the latest–Oaken is #82 as of 9:00 AM the morning of June 22nd in the Top PAID 100 of the Young Adult Fantasy category. (This number changes every hour. Yesterday it bounced around from 98 to 117. This morning it was 76) The top 100 is golden, though, y’all, because this means your book is visible. Amazon only displays the top 100 books per category and many people won’t venture much further than this.

IMG_5224
So, if you are self-published, or thinking of self-publishing, and are unsure of whether or not you should take advantage of the FREE book promotion Amazon offers, I can say from personal experience that there is NOTHING you can lose by doing this. It’s basically free advertising for you, thanks to Amazon. Whether 100 or 1,000,000 people download your books, that’s just that many more people who now know who you are, who know about your books. By setting your book to free, you have nothing to lose and SO MUCH to gain.

Trust me. Just do it.

Revelations

IMG_4904

Hello, all!
This will be a quick post because it’s nearly 1am and I have to wake up bright and early tomorrow morning! We are creeping up on the mid-week-hump of the WTAMU Writers’ Academy (longer post on this later) and I am soaking up every ounce of creative energy I can this week. While plotting my Zodiacal Dystopian story, I had the realization that really had nothing to do with it–or with the story I am currently writing.

Do you ever just feel like a story is calling to you, asking for attention? Well, that’s how I felt today about the third book in The Underground Series, Alder. It’s the last of this series. My favorite of the three. And I feel like I need to dedicate more time to going through it. I think I got so caught up in the whirlwind of this past year. First writing a book in 6 weeks, then writing another book in 3 months, then finishing another book in ONE month (NaNoWriMo). Then, of course, I published Oaken and jumped into editing Ash and getting it ready for publication. All of these things somehow made my writer’s brain think that it always has to be moving forward, pumping out product, delivering something and in a timely manner.

But the fact that Alder is pushing at my brain when I’m really “supposed” to be writing Soren (the second book in The Halo Series) has to be a sign of sorts. I realized…it’s okay to not always be producing. I’m not a machine. I’m not a publishing house. Creativity will run dry like a once-damp rag that’s been aggressively twisted into a tight cord, wringing out all of those juicy ideas. I’ve always been–well, except for my first book–a tight writer. I’m an English teacher and a grammar freak. I make sure that my book is at least grammatically clean the first go around. So, I’ve never done much deep editing.

But I feel like I should take a closer look. Go a little deeper. I feel like Alder is telling me to do that, and I feel like that’s why Soren has been such a pain to write. I don’t think I’m supposed to be writing it this moment. I thought I was supposed to be writing because it’s been a whole–gasp–six months since I’ve completed a novel! That just won’t do! I must write! I must produce! I must deliver! Well, I must also deliver a quality product. Forcing my creativity and skimping on editing in favor of more writing will not deliver quality.

We live in a world where people feel they can demand artists to create for them because they are used to binge watching/reading things now. In the age of Netflix, we crave that. We don’t want to wait. “Give me more books!” “When are you going to put out your next one?!” “Hurry up and write the next one!” But I think instead of saying, “Okay, okay, I’m working on it,” I’ll calmly say, “All in good time.” Because that’s what each of my books deserves. Good time.

I’m Melody. Nice to Meet You.

Hello all–or perhaps no one,

I’m Melody Robinette. 27-year-old author and wife to a very handsome and equally kind beer-expert/musician.
204b

Writer of young adult, new adult, fantasy, paranormal, lgbt, contemporary, all sorts of fiction. I’ve recently self-published and I am so happy I made that decision. It has put the power in my hands and I can make every decision for my book every step of the way. You can visit my Amazon author page: HERE. I already have a blog on my website, but it has very little activity or traffic, and a fellow writer friend recommended wordpress. So, here I am. I’m sure this blog will be as random as I am. I’ll likely post about writing-related things, maybe personal things, random musings, short stories and blurbs and flash fiction. You know…all that jazz. But, anyway. Not today. Just wanted to say, nice to meet you…and I’ll talk to you soon! 🙂 ❤

Melody

DSC_6973