Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Mid-Month Roundup

It's the same old thing around theses parts--having a lot of stuff on the to-do list, and feeling like a snail trying to check it all off. And to have to do it all in unseasonably chilly weather? Please. I've had enough of you, May. You can go home now.

My plan for May was to finish the first revision of In Another Life and finally finish up that novella I put off from last fall. I still have a good chunk of the month to see these things through, but I'm no superwoman (too bad... I'd love to wear a cape like it was no big deal). There are also poetry revisions that I would like to get to, another first draft I would like to finish writing, and of course there's always submissions--I need to set aside more time for that, or I'll end up like Dickinson with ninety-nine percent of my work undiscovered until my ultimate demise.

So that's all I've been vacillating between and not getting completed. What have I actually done? Well, I've developed a huge book crush on Real Artists Have Day Jobs (And Other Awesome Things They Don't Teach You in School) by Sara Benincasa. It's filled with lots of good advice for the artists, writers, comedians and non-9-to-5-ers of my generation. But it's also funny and honest (oh, and here I go again... you can read my review to continue this love fest).

I've also been inundated with free stuff (not a bad gig, if you can get it) and I've been starting to catch up on reviews of all the neat things like mud masks, snacks, lotions and the occasional sleep aid. I've just reviewed the latest Pinch Me box I received and my Influenster Bloom Vox Box review should be up by the end of the week.

And to fill up what little time I had left, I started writing an essay on birthdays. After I start typing away, I realized I had much more material than a single essay could hold. It's turning into a series of essays. Eventually.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Goodreads, Ebooks, and an Unexpected Price to Pay

If you are an author on Goodreads (or an extremely voracious reader like myself) you may have notice over the past couple days that ebook giveaways are starting to roll out. Goodreads giveaways have always been close to my heart--it's what got me started on the road to semi-pro book reviews (not totally pro--I still only get paid in free books). And I own a Kindle, so ebook giveaways just seem to fit perfectly.

Until it doesn't.

There are a lot of people that benefit from the new arrangement, most importantly the readers. The person that gets the short end of the bookmark? Writers. Specifically, independent writers who may have a small or nonexistent marketing budget for their book. Why am I talking about marketing budgets? Because Goodreads charges a flat $119 fee for listing an ebook giveaway for up to 100 copies (print giveaways are still free because the giveaway host has to purchase and ship the books themselves).

What do you get for this fee? The convenience of not having to deal with the whole giveaway thing once you pay up. You don't have to go into Amazon and gift the books, you don't have to do anything but flash the cash. Sounds like a sweet deal... if you have never bothered to do any marketing for your book before. What independent authors know is that this is just another exploitative fee: "Pay us and we'll do it all for you!" When in fact it would probably be easier to gift ebooks myself, if I chose to host a giveaway--and I wouldn't have to give away 100 copies just to get my money's worth.

But surely you get something more for $119, right? These 100 copies will show up as sales!
Uh... nope. Not going to happen.

Okay. Then at least if the giveaway winner reviews the book on Amazon, it will be marked as a verified review!
Again, probably not. If KOLL/KU reviews aren't marked as verified, these won't be either (and reviewers can turn this label off if they choose).

Normally I wouldn't be this outspoken about something like this, because if it isn't for me, I just wouldn't use it. But I want independent authors to be aware of what they are really getting for this fee. Take the case of my haiku collection Unfolding Life. I published it on Amazon and within the first 90 days hosted free days through Kindle Unlimited. Those first free days yielded around 90 downloads, and they counted as sales (only in the free store, but still...). I didn't have to spend time contacting each person to give them a copy, I didn't have to pay any money to promote it, and I was working only with social media promotion as a completely unknown writer. I'll tell you that subsequent free days for this book and my other works have not yielded this high of download numbers, but my point is that you don't need to, nor should you, pay someone to give away your work. Because let's be honest, how many of those 100 giveaway winners are really going to review your book on Goodreads and Amazon? I know I make an effort to read and review all the free books I get, but I am probably in the minority.

This new rollout isn't entirely without merit. It does give authors and readers another option for participating in book giveaways. But it's comparable to traditional publishing deals where authors get cents on the dollar in royalties for ebook sales when it costs the publisher practically nothing to produce and sell. It can get your book exposure, but it's not going to do any favors for your wallet.

These last couple weeks have sucked in general. And when I saw this, I thought I could have another tool to happily add to my marketing bag. Sadly, this news just sucks too. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

National Poetry Month Nearing the End

It's the last week in April, so that means National Poetry Month is starting to wind down. I've been diligent in writing the poetry I've set out to do, but I know that when it comes to revisions, I haven't been quick to get on it. That's why Monday's normal post is happening on Tuesday. That, and the Indiana Comic Con commercial on TV keeps distracting me--I mean, who decided to mix "Shake It Off" with cosplay? It boggles my mind. It's definitely apples and oranges (no offense to T. Swift or cosplayers, of course).

Anyway, once I finally focused on the poetry again, I started playing with alliteration and this is what I came up with:

A Losing Pursuit

Priorities pronounced in pencil
But they can all be pushed away
Pressures take precedence
Puckish people clamoring to use you like a plastic bag
Purposeful in carrying their baggage
Placed in the trash, not even preserved for recycling
Once your practicality is brought to pass

Monday, April 18, 2016

When Planning Goes Awry (Or, How Not to Write a Poem)

Week two of my goal to write 30 poems this month didn't seem to go as well as the first week. It's mostly because I was removed from my notes. During the last week in March I was coming up with these fabulous ideas to poeticize so I wrote them down and kept them especially for this challenge. The problem with all of this planning arose when I went back to those notes, looked at each separate idea and couldn't remember exactly where I wanted to go with it.

I used the notes anyway to do my daily writing, but I know that these ponderings of poetic genius didn't get the treatment they deserved. They turned out poor, with or without editing. Don't fret--they won't be lost to the ages if I commit to a few hours of rigorous revision.

Lesson learned. If an idea for a poem sprouts in my mind, I sit down and I write it then and there. Then maybe I'll get closer to achieving what I want.

On to the part you all are waiting for. The poem I'm sharing this week is a haiku. It comes much closer to traditional haiku with the theme of nature.

Fertile air in spring
Blossoms the waiting flowers
Rain mists down on us

No National Poetry Month would be complete without a pause for some promotion, would it? If you like haiku, I do have my haiku collection Unfolding Life for sale. You can get it from Amazon, Createspace and Kobo. I have it on good authority that more places for purchase will be available soon. ;-)  As always, if you pick up a copy, let me know what you think by leaving a review.

Monday, April 11, 2016

National Poetry Month, Week 2: Don't Dabble #Poetry

The poem I'm sharing this week doesn't have a title yet. Maybe it doesn't need one. I was reading someone's short bio online and I saw the phrase "the author dabbled in film making for awhile before..." and the word dabbled just struck me the wrong way. It actually made me angrier than I thought a word could, especially when there wasn't supposed to be anything malicious attached to it. But, that's what poetry is, isn't it? Exploring the unexplored depths of our souls. And my soul apparently hates dabbling.

- - - -

I dabble.


What does that really translate to?
I have money, I do what I want.
That is, until I'm bored with it.
Or someone says I'm no good at it.
Rolls off my back, you know.

Rolls off, does it?
Down the hill, to a blackened pit
Where you collect all those failures
And tell people you've dabbled.
You took their spot—
The real talent. The ones who plead
To cut their arms off, sacrifice a first born
For the chances you buy.


It's a loaded gun
To wield at those who dare question your value
Without using numbers.