Indie Book Club discussion

Kings of the Red Shell (Kergulen #2)
This topic is about Kings of the Red Shell
29 views
Self Promotion > What I learned from Book One.

Comments Showing 1-36 of 36 (36 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments This is only kind of self promotion, but I don't think it would have fit anywhere else. Anyway, Underground Book Reviews recently published this little bit about the mistakes I've made and the things I've learned in the publishing process. Newbies might want to learn from my experience. Others might want to laugh at me. Either way, you're welcome to read, and I'd love to hear what kinds of things other writers have learned the hard way. Maybe it will make me feel better.
http://www.undergroundbookreviews.com...


message 2: by David (last edited Feb 09, 2014 12:46AM) (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 48 comments Some good points made there, and I'd agree with them all. A good beta reader is gold, and can make all the difference. Like you I have had little success with R2R groups, and have come to realise that there is no better promotional material than a review from a reader who has come across your books and then loved them with a passion. They are the kind of reviewers that can't wait to tell others. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those readers, without them I'd still be floundering with only a few sales.


message 3: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 54 comments David wrote: I have had little success with R2R groups, and have come to realise that there is no better promotional material than a review from a reader who has come across your books and then loved them with a passion

I agree, David. Although I've had favourable reviews from R&Rs, many people never actually review them, and you're left with just giving books away for free without any return. I've recieved good reviews from people who have just brought the book off their own back and these are nice to see, and I appreciate them so much.
Jacqui


message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch I just self-published my first book in December and the whole thing has been a learning experience for me. But the biggest lesson so far is to never take a copy editor for granted again. I've always considered myself solid in the grammar department but I was shocked by the number of mistakes that slipped through after three drafts and multiple readings. I just finished going back through the published work and reading every chapter aloud, slowly to catch the mistakes. Quite the eye-opening experience.


message 5: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 48 comments I have a first in English studies, Karen, but can't seem to spot my own mistakes. When they're pointed out to me, I just can't believe I put them there.

Maybe I didn't! "Who's been messing with my computer?"


message 6: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch It is humbling for sure, David. Thankfully, my readers have been very gracious and not dinged me much in their reviews. Hopefully, my latest update will take care of most if not all of them.

What is the general consensus about using a copy editor? I wouldn't know the first thing about finding one for my next book.


message 7: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 54 comments Completely agree, Karen, and I am a copyeditor! I found so many mistakes in my first novel, but then I guess that's what happens when you get so close to a story. After my third draft I got another editor to look through it to make sure I'd got them all. I think we all become a little blind in the end to things. I must have read the same sentence several times in one of my first chapters before actually noticing a serious typo!

I agree with David...I'm sure there's a little PC goblin who tinkers with things when I'm not looking! :)


message 8: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments David wrote: "I have a first in English studies, Karen, but can't seem to spot my own mistakes. When they're pointed out to me, I just can't believe I put them there.

Maybe I didn't! "Who's been messing with m..."


Is that what it is? I'd been wondering where those missing sentence segments went. I wonder if the PC goblin is related to the sock snatcher?


message 9: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Brink | 38 comments Oh yeah, we are definitely blind to our own mistakes. Whether that's due to goblnis or not I couldn't say. :)

Can I ask, where do you folks find your golden beta readers? How do you find and convince perfect strangers to volunteer for such a trying task?


message 10: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments I've seen listings for them on goodreads, but mine are people I know. They aren't any sort of professional, and I throw out a lot of their suggestions, but they make me look at things I hadn't noticed, and catch a lot of mistakes. One girl is great at finding plot holes and big picture issue. Once that's been fixed, the others cut out all my commas.


message 11: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 48 comments My beta readers are people who have enjoyed my first books. Some of them are fantastic at spotting typos and grammatical errors, others a great at spotting continuity errors or sentences that don't quite work for them.

I simply asked them, but made it clear that there was absolutely no pressure to agree.


message 12: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 54 comments I have a couple of people I know who read for me. Luckily they are completely objective and don't just humour me because they know me. They will tell me when something doesn't work or needs revising, and they pick out any mistakes etc. Although I'm a trained editor myself I'm well aware it's never wise to final edit my own work.


message 13: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Brink | 38 comments Thanks for the beta info, guys. You would think I'd have a fleet of friends would could do that, considering many of them read in my genres and one was even an English major, but... not much help. Have to find another way, I guess. Thanks again.


message 14: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments It's strangely funny how often the people we'd think would help us aren't any help at all. For my first book I passed copies around to about eight or nine people, and the ones I thought would be really helpful did nothing but say they enjoyed it. So now I have four people who I trust to at least try, plus my mother. She's no help, actually, but it would really hurt her feelings if I didn't include her.


message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch R.A, I know exactly what you mean. I gave mine to a sister and a friend and it was the friend who gave me more feedback. Of course, neither of them caught a single one of the editing mistakes. :-) I have loads of people offering to read book 2, but I am going to be very selective and I may get someone not as close to me.


message 16: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments Maybe you could have them write a little something about why they would make good beta readers? Then you'd know how good a grasp they have of basic English. It might also weed out those who were only looking to read it for free without actually doing anything.


message 17: by David (last edited Feb 11, 2014 07:40AM) (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 48 comments The thing is a beta reader doesn't necessarily need to be good at English, in reality that is proof reading. A passionate reader can intuitively pick up what works and what doesn't, what passages tripped them up etc, for them as a reader. To me that's worth even more than spotting typos and grammatical errors. It gives us as writers something we can never achieve for ourselves; reading it as something completely fresh.


message 18: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments David wrote: "The thing is a beta reader doesn't necessarily need to be good at English, in reality that is proof reading. A passionate reader can intuitively pick up what works and what doesn't, what passages ..."

Yes, of course you're right. Any proficient reader should be able to do it. It's just that lately I've been coming across writers in other groups that would not be able to identify problem areas because they...well, anyway, I'd want to make sure the person had at least a basic understanding so he/she didn't throw me off.


message 19: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Brink | 38 comments I really miss my writing classes in college when we did workshops and everyone (well, most everyone) was there because they wanted to write, knew what they were looking for, and gave valuable feedback. I agree that proofreaders are easier to come by than "beta readers" -- what was it Stephen King called those trusted readers, RA? (I'm also a big fan of *On Writing*.) Seems like the few people who did get back to me could tell me I was missing a word or misspelled something, but not how the language had gone to hell in this section and didn't make sense, or give a suggestion as to how to make the character more likable in that scene.


message 20: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments I don't remember what he called them, but the practice stuck with me. I think it's great to have people who notice different things. For sure, I'd rather find out I'd published a typo (oh, yeah, been there) than to find out an entire plot point didn't make sense or that, as you mentioned, people just can't feel the characters. I probably should read On Writing again. I like to listen to it on audio, because I love hearing him tell the stories. What was the baby sitter who fed him eggs until he popped? I laughed my head off. And now, I have a son who has done similarly gross things. Not long ago he ate a huge dinner and then an adult serving of creme brulee(sp), but he didn't quite finish the desert because he vomited it up. He's only three, after all, and can only fit so much in his stomach. But don't try to tell him that!


message 21: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 48 comments Wise words, Madison.


message 22: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch Well said, Madison. It really is a continual learning experience and we will all make mistakes. But most of us write because we can't imagine not writing and because our heads will explode if we don't tell that story clamoring to get out.


message 23: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments Madison wrote: "A few things that I have learned from book one:
*Believe in my story and don't waiver. If I don't believe in it, no one else will.
*It's a continual learning process
*Mistakes will still be found
*..."


How right you are. I was happy with my first book, but I was happier with the second. I think the third will be the best of them all, mostly because I'm learning to take my time, and since it's a series, I'm able to dig deeper into the world and explore new parts of it. Beginning is so hard for me.

Karen, there would definitely be exploding. I get real cranky when I haven't written in a while.


message 24: by Mark (new)

Mark Bondurant (mbondr) | 22 comments R.A. wrote: "I've seen listings for them on goodreads, but mine are people I know. They aren't any sort of professional, and I throw out a lot of their suggestions, but they make me look at things I hadn't noti..."

I've been reading them out loud in my writer's group, half a chapter at a time. You receive many varied opinions. Just the act of reading it out loud is helpful.


message 25: by Mark (new)

Mark Bondurant (mbondr) | 22 comments R.A. wrote: "Madison wrote: "A few things that I have learned from book one:
*Believe in my story and don't waiver. If I don't believe in it, no one else will.
*It's a continual learning process
*Mistakes will ..."


Though my books are in the same world, I haven't tried a series yet. I'm improving as I write and I would hate to have my series judged by the first book.


message 26: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 54 comments It is definitely a learning process, in all aspects. But I agree with Karen that you can never lose sight that we write for ourselves. My first novel went through many changes on its road to publication, but there was always the underlying plot-line that was based on a rather taboo subject. I worried over and over what the reception to this would be by readers, but then decided that, hey, this was my story that I had to tell...it had been floating around my head for a number of years, plus it was paranormal bordering on horror so figured that if it belonged in any genre it would be that one!


message 27: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments Mark wrote: "R.A. wrote: "Madison wrote: "A few things that I have learned from book one:
*Believe in my story and don't waiver. If I don't believe in it, no one else will.
*It's a continual learning process
*M..."


I recently started to wonder about that potential problem, myself. I think my style is evolving a lot, so it might appeal to different people, now. I think about famous authors who wrote dozens of books before they were ever published, and I understand why. Stephen King must have learned a lot from that stack of rejections, the same as Dean Koontz and scores of others. I wonder if I would have been a better writer if I'd just kept writing and submitting, but it's hard to say. I certainly wouldn't have been able to write a series, and I think I'd rather have a few readers now than the slim chance of being published by a big house some day.


message 28: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch I wrote a bunch of books over the years but none that I would even consider submitting to a publisher. It was all about honing my craft and I saw my writing maturing with each one. I don't think you need to submit and get rejected over and over to become a better writer. The only way to do that is to write everyday. Now that I have my first published work under my belt, I can breathe a sigh of relief, but I also know the next one will be better because I continue to grow as a writer. It's the same for all of us.


message 29: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments So I shouldn't feel bad about a comment left on my facebook page, something along the lines of, "I really enjoyed this book especially since I don't usually read fantasy and considering that it was her first book."? :) I knew she meant well, but it kind of made me cringe.


message 30: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch Actually, I love those comments and I have a bunch of them in my best reviews. People are always wary of trying out new authors, especially self-published authors. My kindle book Relentless sells for 99 cents and I've had more than one person say they were not sure what to expect from a 99 cent book and an unknown author. I love it when they say they are pleasantly surprised. These are the people who usually tell their friends about you. Soak it up. You probably just made a fan.


message 31: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments Yeah, I'll probably bawl the first time I get a truly negative review. I have to suck it up when people mention the things they didn't like when giving a 5 star review! Intellectually, I understand that we all like different things, and that I'm not the world's best writer, but it's kind of like when someone says something about my son. Even if I know it's true, it get's my hackles up a bit and I have to shut my mouth. :)


message 32: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch I know exactly what you mean. I got my first 3 star review on Amazon a few days ago and it bothered me all night. I had to go read some author blogs about how to deal with bad reviews and they pointed out that even the best selling books get terrible reviews and I'm not even close to one of them. But you have to look at all your other great reviews and weigh them. Or try not to read the reviews (which I simply cannot do). I guess this is something else I learned from my first book - how to handle reviews.


message 33: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments Yeah, it will bother me too. And your author friends are so right, even those who I would consider to be America's best fiction writers get plenty of low star reviews. But if you get a thousand great reviews and twenty less-great ones, it probably doesn't feel so bad. For those of us who don't have thousands of reviews (or even dozens), it hurts more. Plus, those people are established and probably have a fair bit of confidence in their craft. While I'm confident that I like my own stories, I'm not as confident that they're 'worth' publishing. Sure, some people read them, but I spend so much on producing them that I'll likely never get it back. So that's what I mean by worth. I told my husband he shouldn't mind, I spend less every year on this hobby than most people do!


message 34: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch I just looked at Kergulen on Amazon and you have a 5 star rating with 15 reviews. Plus an independent reviewer gave you 5 stars. That is awesome! I've been too nervous to approach a reviewer. It also has a 5 star rating on goodreads. I'd say you are doing pretty damn good.


message 35: by R.A. (new) - added it

R.A. White (rawhite) | 131 comments The problem is that I've had those same 15 reviews for a looooooong time. I saw a few sales after I released book 2, but not enough to mention. I looked you up too, and you seriously need to submit to some reviewers. You can put your sales rankings in your pitch to get their attention, since they get way too many submissions. You could probably get several to review you! I went to http://www.theindieview.com/indie-rev... to find review sites, and while I was 'accepted' by several, the only one who has read it so far was UBR. Most of them make no guarantees to actually read your book even if it passes their screening process, so I imagine mine is burried under a million others, by now! But seriously, take some time to submit to them. No way will you come back empty handed!


message 36: by Karen (new)

Karen Lynch Thanks! I am checking that out right now.


back to top