After promoting other people’s debuts here, it feels weird to be promoting my own, but here I am. Save My Soul: Book One in the Kemmons Brothers Baseball Series was released March 25. What I like most about this book is it’s not what normally passes as category-length, contemporary romance for me. When I wrote it years ago, I was heavily influenced by paranormal’s popularity, and honestly, I was in a confusing space in my life.

Rather than prolong this self-promotion, I’ll leave with this. Nicole said it best: “If you like vivid writing, sparkling sexual tension, and emotional reads check out Save My Soul.”

Save My Soul by Elley Arden

Buy it now at: Amazon and iTunes (BN.com to come)

For more about Elley and her books, visit her website.

When you’re a writer you read for more than enjoyment, which means you often get stuck in ruts of reading the same type of thing because it’s what you write or it’s published by a publisher you’d like to write for. That’s been me lately, reading only mainstream, contemporary romance. So I decided, enough is enough.

My first step outside the usual was easy. As a Downton Abbey (PBS) fan, I could no longer put off reading a book by an amazing friend, T.J. Brown. So I downloaded Summerset Abbey. It’s a historical trilogy (Edwardian), surrounding the lives of three young (unconventional) women. Even the cover is sumptuous!

Then, I dove into a biker book (an advanced reader copy) with an uber-alpha hero. I didn’t even know such a hero existed. Lol. I don’t always like the hero’s rough edges, but I find the whole thing compelling. It makes me think as a reader, makes me realize I’ve been reading as a writer too long.

Have you read outside your comfort zone lately?

Elley

Because I was a public relations minor in college, I always figured PR would be the least of my worries when I finally sold a manuscript. As a result, I didn’t think much about marketing while I wrote my earliest manuscripts. I did sign on to various email lists and frequent writing/publishing websites, but I did so more to learn craft than to start the recognition ball rolling. Soon, I was reading emails and posts about getting a jump start on branding, so I scrambled over to Twitter and dipped a toe in. God, those waters were choppy. I had no idea what I was doing over there. And more than once I wondered if I was simply wasting my time. Shouldn’t I be writing?

Years later, I have a little hindsight, certainly not enough to make me an expert on the subject, but enough to share. As far as publicity goes, here’s what did and didn’t work for me at various stages of the game:

Before the manuscript was even finished…

• I worried too much about doing everything everyone else said they were doing. Twitter, tumblr, instagram, Pinterest. (How I avoided Facebook, I’ll never know. Lol.) I thought it was all so critical to building an audience, and yet I had no idea who my audience was. I hadn’t written enough, submitted enough and received enough feedback to know.
• I didn’t give enough thought to real vs. penname. I wasted a lot of time and squandered some publicity by switching names mid-stream. Looking back, I wish I’d spent less time being social online in an effort to build a brand I eventually changed TWICE.
• I wasted money on domain names and hours on brainstorming ideas for gimmicky branding that no longer fit by the time I actually sold a book.

Bottom line: At this stage in the game, writing is more than enough. Seeking to better your writing in the form of workshops and critique partners is the next step. You’ll get to know people this way, too. And knowing people is a big part of publicity.

During the submission stage…

• I really engaged in social media, hoping to find the key to who was publishing what and how I could get picked out of the slush. But instead of finding that, I ended up worried too much about doing everything everyone else said they were doing—AGAIN. (***This is a big pitfall of social middle.) She submitted here. I wanted to submit here. This one submitted there. I wanted to submit there. Read about an editorial call—Count me in! Contest announced—How do I enter? It was ludicrous. I got so damn confused I was taking 80K-word manuscripts and cutting 20K words just so I could respond to one of these impulses. Not only wasn’t I building a brand, I didn’t recognize my manuscripts anymore.
• On the other hand, engaging in social media meant I had other writers to commiserate with while I was waiting to hear back on submissions. These other writers have been a huge boost to my ego when it was flailing, and they’ve stepped up over and over again to help me promote my successes.
• I built a website, because, heck, why not? I was WAITING, and I hate waiting. Building a website seemed more productive than checking my inbox a million times. Of course, writing would have been most productive, so this one could go either way—positive or negative. I’ve had several incarnations of my website since I started on the publication path. That tells me I started with the websites too soon. And you know what? I yanked a site down when I settled on a penname, and I went without a website for many months. So what was the point of it all in the first place?
• I started this blog, another commitment that took me away from writing, BUT it also gave me a place to gather my thoughts and connect with likeminded people.

Bottom line: There were some positive marketing steps taken during this stage, ones I surely don’t regret, but once again, the best thing I did while I waited to hear back on works out on submission was write more manuscripts and work with my critique partner to polish them.

After I sold a manuscript…

• I built my current site.
• I joined another group blogging effort.
• I opened up to my friends and family in greater detail about my writing, including them in my publicity efforts. (I’ll talk more on that in a later post.)
• I ordered author cards (business cards with my name, genre, and website listed) and stickers to affix to the back of the cards. (The stickers have the book name, release date and location availability.)
• When my other group blog asked for authors to donate prizes for various promotional efforts, I ordered personalized items, like pens and post its, and I assembled “swag packs” to giveaway.
• I joined Facebook. (Gah! I’m soooo clueless over there.)
• I paid more attention to my Twitter account (that is, until I needed to finish the second book in the series I sold) and Goodreads.
• I accepted invitations to guest blog.
• I created a contest to run during my release month.
• And I’m sure there’s more and there will be more…

Bottom line: Nothing can really prepare you for the branding blitz that happens when you sell a manuscript. You can think about it. You can observe what others do. But until you’re ready to implement the plan, it’s all just speculation…speculation that takes you away from writing.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but if you’re early in the publishing game, don’t stress over what you should or shouldn’t be doing as far as publicity goes. You SHOULD be writing. 🙂

Save My Soul will be my first published book, but it was my FOURTH completed manuscript. Change My Mind, the second book in this series, will be my second published book (unless something crazy happens!), and it’s my EIGHTH completed manuscript. No rhyme or reason, huh? Just another reminder that writing is the name of the game, and nothing—not even building your brand—should take you away from that.

Elley

I’ve heard writers and editors say the key to telling the most compelling story is asking yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen to this character, and then making that happen. It seems like easy enough advice to follow, but I’m not sure I pulled it off until yesterday. Oh sure, I mess around with the idea…Will she get her theatre? Won’t she? Of course, in the end she does. I’ve never destroyed a character’s dream. I’ve never taken the one thing the character wanted and ripped it from his or her grasp never to be seen again. It’s agonizing—for the character and me.

In my life, I avoid negative emotion as much as possible. I will walk away, shut down and completely delude myself into thinking the worst case scenario isn’t happening. I’m a focus-on-the-positive kind of gal, and my writing reflects that. Therefore, I don’t suspect the rest of my books will involve destroying my characters. But, I’d love to know what you think as a reader…

Do you appreciate a story more where the characters are brought to their knees before they get their happily ever after, or do you prefer a lighter read, where there are bumps in the road, but nothing bad enough to cause an emotional wreck?

Elley

The Trouble with Older Books

February 13, 2013

I’m reading an older book by Rachel Gibson. She is a must-read for me, and how I missed this one, I’ll never know. I’m especially excited, because this older book jumps i the basis for her more recent books. I like the familiarity involve in reading series. (But that’s another post.)

As I’m reading this older book, I’m neither loving it nor hating it. I’m reading it, absorbing it, enjoying parts of it, skimming other parts. That’s the way I read EVERYTHING except a chapter I’m editing, revising or critiquing, or a book that manages to knock me out and earn a five-star rating. But last night, as I was really thinking about the pages I’d just read I realized this book might not “fly” today, at least not with reviewers and other writers. The heroine keeps a big secret from the hero, and it drags into critical parts of the book. I can just hear the outrage on Goodreads. Worse, there’s a word used by a teenage boy to convey to his mother something’s not cool. Today, in a cultural increasingly aware of the hurt caused by homophobic word choices, that word sounds like acrylic nails on a chalkboard, especially when the mother doesn’t even flinch.

I should say I’m not the most politically correct person. I certainly didn’t put the book down when I read the word, but I did wonder why the editors didn’t change it. It wouldn’t have hurt the story in the least. The word wasn’t making a statement or being used as a definitive descriptor of a character’s personality. I suspect it was tossed in there much like it was being tossed around by society at the time the book was written.

Maybe I’m wrong. (It happens quite a bit.) Maybe I’m describing a type of censorship, and I’m not onboard with that either. Maybe I’m just worrying about what I’m writing now and how it might be construed (or misconstrued) in the future. These words live on…especially in the age of the Internet.

It’s something to think about.

Elley

I wanted to combine my usual Friday post on my publishing journey with my release day post, because this is a blog for writers and this book went through A LOT to get here. And, yes, this was supposed to go up Monday, but that’s just another lesson in things not going *exactly* the way you imagined, and that being totally okay.

So, anyway, here we are. Here being RELEASE DAY! Seven-Night Stand is out and about in the world. Last year at this time, I’m not sure I thought that was possible. In fact, in February of last year I got my second rejection from this book. Of the handful of agents I’d queried, none were interested in reading even a partial.

I thought this story had merit. It had been an honorable mention in the contest it was written for, and I just…liked it. I liked my hero and his dysfunctional family and I liked my heroine who wasn’t quite sure what to do with feelings. I liked my little private airfield in the middle of nowhere Kansas.

But, I didn’t know where to go from where I was, so I set it aside for a few months and focused on other things.

In May, I’d heard enough about Entangled and their success that I figured submitting my sexy category was worth a shot. An editor was interested, gave me some revisions, and I was excited. I worked with this editor on a full set of revisions and then I waited to hear back.

And then, months later, I got an email telling me my editor had left. I was definitely bummed, but these things happen and, hey, I had a contract. I waited for a while, was finally assigned a second editor and then before I even worked with her, she left (twice).

The hardest thing about changing editors is not working with someone new (editors are a pretty awesome, friendly bunch in my experience). It’s not even changing something you’d already changed once or twice. The hardest part (for me) was managing my own insecurity.

I knew my third editor had not chosen me, so to speak. She didn’t read my story in the piles of slush and think, yes! I want to work on this. And no matter how often she told me she loved it, no matter how many times her edits helped streamline the story into something strong, it was hard to let that voice go. She didn’t choose you. You’re screwing this up.

Somewhere around the billionth revision I just let that go. I stopped worrying over it. Because, here my book was. Good. A good book that some people will like and some people won’t. And it didn’t matter that my editor didn’t choose me, because she’d worked really hard on making the book the best it could be.

Publishing is a business just like any other. People leave and move jobs for a wide variety of reasons. Chances are, if you become a multi-published author you’re going to have, at some point, two different editors on the same project. It will be a challenge, but it will work out, because the grand majority of people in this business want your book to be as good as you want it to be.

In my experience, patience, asking questions when you’re confused, and having someone you can whine to (thanks, Elley!) are imperative if a situation like this happens.

Seven-Night Stand

Because what else is there to do if you want your book published? Not a whole lot. And more often than not, the challenges are worth it, and you get to look at something as pretty as this and know it’s yours.

So, nine months, three editors, and a whole heck of a lot of revisions later, here is my book. A book I am proud of and so excited to see out in the world (or at least the internet world).

Amazon

Kobo

Goodreads

Check Back Monday

February 1, 2013

Hi, All!

The next installment in Nicole’s publishing series will be pushed to Monday, when she’s also blogging on her RELEASE DAY! Seven Night Stand, an Entangled Indulgence, is one of my favorite reads from Nicole, featuring a sassy, reality tv scout heroine and a yummy Kansan pilot/airfiled owner. Check back for more details on Monday.

Elley

Little Free Library

September 5, 2012

I stumbled onto something the other day that I wanted to share. As readers and writers, we have a vested interest in the sharing of books. Sharing books ultimately sells more books and more books sold means more books published. Win win!

Unfortunately, sharing books has become embroiled in the ebook revolution. Libraries are facing declining numbers of users and declining funds. Ebook lending is struggling to create universally accepted and beneficial parameters, leading readers to buy digital and not pass along the books they love. Boo!

What can we do to keep the sharing alive? This.

Little Free Library

 

This is a “little free library.” It sprouts without pomp or circumstance from the grass between two front lawns in a neighborhood not far from my house. It’s hard to tell whose handy work it is. There are no identifying markings. The only directive is what you see…Leave a Book. Take a Book.

Good God, it makes me cry.

Imagine my emotional response when I did a little research and discovered this is part of a movement. Little libraries like this are popping up all over America. Couldn’t your neighborhood use one?

To find out more, visit Little Free Library online.

Did you know about this or stumble onto a little free library in your neck of the woods? I’d love to know. Share your comments below.

Happy Reading! Happy Sharing!

Elley

Yesterday, I ran into the drugstore to buy some soap and passed the book rack. I picked up a paperback book by an auto-buy author, read the cover copy, decided it was something I was anxious to read, and then put the book back on the shelf, thinking I’ll download the digital when I get home.

Well folks, my transformation is complete. Digital has gained control of my reading brain without a struggle. Oh, I still go into Barnes and Noble with my daughter, because she thinks, “it’s not a real book if it’s not a real book.” (Mom rolls her eyes at this.) But when I’m there, I buy tea, look at journals (love me some leather-bound blank books), check the end caps to see which lucky ducks have books in prime promotional spots, and note interesting covers, titles and authors in case I want to buy books—when I get home. It’s so strange, such a complete conversion, with very little regret. (I do worry I’m contributing to the closing of book stores, and I hate when my digital devices crash and I lose books. Two big negatives, friends!)

I’m not saying I’ll never buy a hardcopy book again. I’m simply saying digital has become my first choice. Aside from a stack of paperback, non-fiction books purchased many months ago and still unread, I’m not buying print. I’m reading even less. Currently, I’m consuming my books 100-percent digitally. How about you? Now that e-readers have been around long enough to make a major impact on the publishing industry and our reading habits, what’s your print vs. digital consumption?

Elley

About a year ago, before I became a contributer to From Fact to Fiction, Elley asked me to be the first participant in Writer Wednesday.

Today, my first book releases. It’s been quite a year. I had my second child, turned thirty, and have truly begun to think of writing as my career. This may be my first book published, but I’m determined it won’t be my only.

It’s kind of amazing what can happen in a year, but when I look back at my answers to last year’s post only two things have changed: where I write (now it’s usually one handed on my tablet while I feed my one-month-old) and my worst rejection (an editor viewed a technical glitch (which was totally my fault) as my inability to proofread and rejected what she said was a good story based on that). Why I write is still very much the same. I love it. It makes me happy. It’s a part of who I am. I can’t imagine that ever changing.

All’s Fair in Love & Politics releases today from The Wild Rose Press, and I’m very proud of this book. It’s come a long way from its first draft, and so have I. Also, this was the first book I worked on with Elley as my critique partner. It is absolutely because of her help that All’s Fair has gotten this far.

Here’s a blurb and excerpt. I’ve also blogged over at my own site today about some of my inspirations.  I hope if it looks interesting to you, you’ll consider having a read!

All's Fair in Love and PoliticsShe’s a politician from a political family with big secrets. He’s a journalist for a political magazine. Love won’t be easy.

Blurb: When sexy reporter Doug Kapshaw shows up on Abigail Fortman’s doorstep to cover her state senate campaign, Abigail knows to keep her guard up. Doug’s not after her story. He’s after an expose on Abigail’s U.S Senator father. Though Abigail’s relationship with her father is tense at best, she’s not going to be the pawn that brings Grant Fortman down. Despite his assignment to use Abby, Doug can’t help but be attracted to her mix of strength and vulnerability. When Grant gets Doug fired, Abby is ready to take a stand against her father. Working together to bring Grant down, Doug and Abby can no longer fight the attraction between them. Attraction turns into much more, but while the secrets they uncover promise to revive Doug’s career, the ugly truth poses the biggest challenge to Doug and Abby living happily ever after.

Excerpt: There was something arresting about the picture. Some uncomfortable déjà vu feeling. Which was absurd. She’d certainly never been to the Kapshaw farm, and she’d known Doug for little more than a week.

And yet there was a feeling she’d been there before, watching the cool breeze ruffle the waves of his dark hair, her heart beating quicker as she took a few steps towards the house. A feeling that this was something… important.

Foolish. Ridiculous. Utterly insane. Even as she took the first stair of the porch, her heartbeat still wasn’t steady.

“Why did you bring me here?” Abby demanded. Something in the way his green eyes watched her added to the unnerved feeling.

“You’d never been to a farm. That’s a pretty egregious disconnect if sustainable agriculture is your pet issue.”

Because he stood there, leaning against the post of the porch just as casual as could be, Abby took the last step, putting herself only inches away from him. Though it did nothing to ease her erratic pulse, she was determined to stand her ground and get to the bottom of this puzzle.

“It’s not your job to correct my egregious errors. It’s your job to exploit them and make me look like a fool.”

His eyes studied her mouth for a moment, and Abby refused to analyze why heat crept through her center and up to her cheeks.

“No, it’s my job to make a story out of you. I only have to make you look like a fool if you are one.”

A voice in her head scoffed. That voice told her reporters lie, all people lie. No one was as good or honest as they seemed. It was her father’s voice, and it was surprisingly weak against the force of her heart that wanted desperately to believe Doug’s words were the truth.

***Elley and Tari would like to congratulate Nicole. She’s the first of the trio to have her fiction published! Let’s hope she starts a trend around here. 🙂