What I’m Reading: Laundry Man by Jake Needham

I recently turned to a Kindle book that was offered as a free download via Bookbub: Laundry Man by Jake Needham. I’ve had it for over a month, but since the Kindle app on my phone kept downloading it (multiple times) every time I opened the app, I figured I might as well read it so that the downloads would stop. 😀

 

Laundry Man Jake Needham

 

 

It’s interesting so far, but I’m not even 1/4 of the way through. The book is about an expatriate named Jack Shepherd, an international finance guru who has left the stress of Corporate America in the United States behind,  to live in Thailand and teach at a university there.  He gets a phone call from Buddy, a former friend and colleague whom he’d long thought of as dead–only to find out that this friend faked his own death to take advantage of a lucrative, yet unsavory, financial opportunity. When Buddy’s opportunity is in jeopardy of going south due to missing funds–and the possibility of his real death looms–he turns to Jack and his financial expertise to get him out of the jam.

The book is set in Thailand, and so far Needham does a good job providing local color, as well as the perspective of an ex-pat. I am drawn into the story because I want to see how/if Jack can pull this off (even though his reluctance to get involved is clear), and also because I sense a double-cross or three on the horizon (I have my suspicious eye on three characters). The characters themselves are, thankfully, three-dimensional. The fact that the book is set in the financial world (albeit one primarily overseas, and specifically in Asia) is very interesting; I’ve grown weary of all of the Wall Street-oriented novels out there.  Still, though Needham doesn’t bombard readers with financial terms, the ones he does include can make your eyes cross if you’re not used to the world of international banking and finance. Anyway, though I got the book free, it’s worth giving it a try  so far.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Weight of The Brand

I’ve been kicking around a post on branding, and how it’s affected me, but the draft I thought I’d saved is not there. This post isn’t flowing the way I’d like, but I’d better get it down before I forget the gist of what I want to say.

ANYway…

Not too long ago, I told a sorority sister on Facebook that she had built a brand without even realizing it, and that she needed to utilize this brand as she moved forward with writing and publishing her inspirational book. By virtue of her Facebook statues, she had created an association between her faith in God, the sorority, and her strong family ties.

Just the other day, I heard the COO of a nonprofit speak on branding , and how it was important for people to develop their personal brand. As an author,especially a self-published one, I see how true that is.

Branding goes beyond appearance. By dint of the nature of the job, most authors are pretty reclusive. We aren’t identified by what we wear (unless we look a hot mess at public book signings, in which case we will be known as “that author who can’t dress him/herself”), and prefer to be identified by what we write. Most authors who have come into their own have a signature style of writing, and avid readers can usually identify said writer (or a clone) just by reading a few passages. Few of us authors, however, give a lot of thought to how we are perceived overall. This is crucial for self-published authors to do.

We are in an increasingly visual society. It’s not enough anymore to write a good product. Now, more than ever, we need eye-catching book covers, thumbnails suitable for attachment in social media, a significant internet presence. Video is even becoming a must-have for some pages. The transparency afforded by social media means that authors can only be reclusive to a certain extent. Readers want to see you, hear you, know who you are before they pick up your book.

So who are you? What do you want the world to think when they hear your name, your publishing company, see your face? It’s sad to say but once you have put yourself out there as a public figure, EVERYTHING you say can and will be used against you. This is doubly true for current local and world events. While readers primarily pick up your book for entertainment (if you are a fiction writer), or edification on a specific subject (if you are a nonfiction writer), they will be paying attention if you are seen to take a stand (or not) on something other than publishing-related issues (e.g. Amazon/Hatchette). I’ve found that even on my personal Facebook page, I have tempered my normal “I say what I want, it’s my page” speech laissez-faire. Yes, most of the people on my personal page are friends and acquaintances, but they are also readers, and readers talk to other readers. And, on the business end of publishing, my job at the end of the day is to sell books. While I will not curtail my sentiments for the sake of selling a book, I can temper the way I say them. I do this with the understanding that some people will or will not read my books for whatever reason, regardless of what comes out of my mouth/keyboard. Still, for those who are willing to purchase my books, there is no need for me to deliberately antagonize them. In contrast, I keep my public fan page clean, as well as my “formal” FB account.

Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s maturity, wisdom, or business sense that makes me pause at the keyboard. I do know that it can become wearying to self-censor. However, that’s the price to be paid for entering the public arena.

Thanks for stopping by.

It’s HERE! And new directions

It’s here! It’s here! Or, to be more grammatically correct, they’re here: the hard copies ordered during the pre-release offer of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille (informally known as The Camille Chronicles).

 

The Camille Chronicles shipped box 080614

I have been basking in the wonder that occurs when your published book is held in your hand. This is a culmination of a lifelong dream, and of over fourteen years of active and not-so-active work on my craft. And it’s here, in my hand.

Of course, part of my joy is dulled by the anxiety of hoping that the book is well received, but that was already covered in a previous post.  So I’ll move on. 🙂

I have more books on the way (the pre-release did REALLY well), so my weekend will be spent autographing books and packing them for shipment. The autographs will be personalized, of course, and will be emotional because I will try to convey to each person who ordered a pre-released copy how grateful and appreciative I am for their support and love. Most of the people who ordered have known me for at least ten years, and most have known me for over twenty. That’s a lot of sentiment to squish into relatively few words. But gratitude is good for the soul. 🙂

In other news, one of my character’s story started gelling in my head, and I had to get it down. And then a plot twist came to mind, so I abandoned the draft of what I’d initially planned to be the next release, to work on this one. A writer’s work is never done, and we cannot control when The Muse decides to visit. It’s when S/he doesn’t visit, that there’s a problem. 😀

 

Thanks for stopping by.

The Business of Writing and Publishing

I have been caught up in the pre-release, and now official release, of my book The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille (informally known as The Camille Chronicles). As part of that pre-release, I’ve had to step out of the writer zone and into the business zone.

As creative folks, we don’t really sweat the details of the business side. Indeed, that’s what makes signing a publishing contract so attractive: someone else deals with all that other stuff (marketing, accounting, etc) while you create. If we as artists (as a writer, I’m definitely addressing other writers but the same applies to other artistic media) are to really gain control over our work and reap the monetary benefits accordingly, we have got to get into the business of things.

From calculating shipping costs, to the amount of discount I could give without going broke,  to how could I compete with Amazon…all this required a stretching of skills I didn’t know I had;  there was a reason I wasn’t a business major in college!  Even the cost of publishing: purchasing ISBNs (even if you do it through Amazon), the cost of graphic design, the cost of editing, the cost of website design…these things add up, and since writing is my primary livelihood right how, I have to figure out how to make it pay the most to cover my basic needs, and then some.

God forbid if I need an attorney, for whatever reason. Attorneys need to eat too and while I probably won’t hire anyone who bills $500 and hour and up, even $100/hour can be daunting, especially when you tack on the price of a retainer.

Then there’s the question of hiring an accountant. I am a writer, but I am also a small business, publishing under my own imprint. I need to be aware of various tax breaks, the benefits of forming a corporation (or not), and things like that. Business accounting is  a lot different than personal accounting, especially when it comes to tax time in April. And I am not trying to end up on the wrong side of an IRS audit.

I don’t yet know how successful my fledgling business acumen will prove to be; I am just focused on getting the book out there and hoping that people like it enough to 1) recommend it to others and 2) want to buy the next one. But this is definitely an education, and I am understanding now why publishing services, etc charge what they do.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Dress You Up In My Love: The Appearance of Your Self-Published Book

While I’m technically not releasing my book until Monday, August 4, it is actually listed for sale on Amazon/CreateSpace, Kindle, and Nook (shhhh…). Some of my friends did their own searches and found the links, and purchased the book (both versions, in some cases) anyway. Gotta love proactivity! I and my royalty statements thank them. 😀

Anyway, I asked one of my friends how the actual book looked, since my copies won’t arrive until next week. She told me that overall, it was a very solid, professional-looking book (and as an avid reader, she would know), and pointed out some things that, while not glaringly obvious, that she noticed. One of those things she mentioned irritated me because it would have occurred on the production end of CreateSpace, being that the proof looked just fine on my end. Grrrrr…

Which goes to show that the (free) digital proofing system isn’t always foolproof. One can always order a copy of a physical proof (for a small fee), but I would suggest this if you only have minor changes to make and have plenty of time before your publication date.  One of the things I love about today’s self-publishing technology is the ability to do everything online. But in light of my friend’s comments, I’m thinking that for the next book, I may go for the physical proof to see how it really looks and feels in the hands. Which means that I will need to finish the book (including rewrites, extra eyes on it by my pre-publication reading group, cover design, etc) way before I plan to release it.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, it’s best to go analog in a digital world.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Moving right along…

Today was the pre-release of my first solo novel, The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille (informally known as The Camille Chronicles).

Camille ebook cover

I’ve had a pretty positive response (and sales!) so far, for which I am grateful. I got teary-eyed when I saw that one of the purchases was from someone I haven’t been in touch with for over four years…yet he took the time to buy my book. I felt so loved at that moment. I’m also getting some buzz in various college alumni groups, sorority groups, and the like. Whee!

(In case you missed it, the pre-release event is going on through Saturday, August 2! Free autographed copy of the book; you just pay shipping.)

Anyway, even though the official book release isn’t until August 4, I am already working on the next book in the series. I have lived and breathed Camille Bastille since November 2013 and, quite frankly, I’m tired of looking at her. 😀  Time to move on to another sibling; I already have drafts for two of them, plus a secondary character, so I will let my reading public decide which will be published next. I am also working on the stand-alone Bastille Family novel, which I started as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. And planning my upcoming book tour this fall. And keeping up with my exercise regimen. And taking naps.

Life is good. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

It’s Almost Here! The Camille Chronicles Pre-Release

Hi all,

It’s almost here! The release of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille (informally known as The Camille Chronicles ) occurs on August 4, 2014

 

Camille ebook cover

I’m excited, nervous, and glad. It’s been a long time coming…fourteen years, to be exact. The print copy will be available via CreateSpace/Amazon, and the e-book versions will be available in Kindle and NOOK.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I’m giving my readers the opportunity to get a FREE autographed copy of The Camille Chronicles. You just pay shipping, and I will send it to you as soon as the book arrives to me from the printer.

On the day of release, the regular price will be $14.95, no autographs. Or $16.96 plus s/h, if you want it autographed.

Free…$14.95…no-brainer! 🙂

If you’d like your FREE autographed copy (you just pay shipping), you can order securely here. Please make sure that you specify the proper shipping address, and how you’d like your name spelled. Please understand that this offer will ship after the August 4 release date.

You have six (6) days to take advantage of this offer!

Offer expires Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST

**the listed shipping price is for USA orders only. If you are ordering from another country, please send me an email so that your shipping costs will be calculated accurately.

Thank you all for following my brain droppings over the past couple of months and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

The Camille Chronicles: Quick Announcement and A Favor, Please…

Hi all, I am putting the finishing touches on The Camille Chronicles: A Bastille Family Novel, and I am so excited! *Snoopy dance*  While I have previously contributed to anthologies, this is my first solo effort. It’s fourteen years in the making, so I want to make it the best it can be.  The Camille Chronicles will be released in August (yep, I’m moving up the release date), and a book tour will follow shortly.

 The Camille Chronicles is the story of Dr. Camille Bastille, a forty-something top-notch neurosurgeon in a family of surgeons (and one nurse). Camille is a classic overachiever who bends over backwards to display her intelligence, even as she struggles with the formidable legacy of her surgeon grandfather. Unfortunately for her, she becomes the target of a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) audit led by Andrew Paxson, a DEA field Agent turned Diversion Investigator. Andrew is fighting demons of his own after getting shot while undercover, and tries to piece his life back together in the aftermath. A little suspense, a little romance, a little humor….there’s something in The Camille Chronicles for everyone!

I like to know who my readers are, so that I can make sure to give you enjoyable content that you would recommend to friends, family, a stranger on your morning or evening commute, and in a format that is most comfortable for you. To do this, I need your help.

Please take a few minutes to answer this short survey, about your reading preferences.

 

As a special thank-you, I invite you to meet the Bastilles. 🙂

Thanks for all your help and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Back in the Saddle! Camp NaNoWriMo–Day 17

Target goal: 50,000 words

Target daily goal: 1,615 words

Today’s word count:  1,477

Total words written:  5,717 words

 

WHEEEEE!! I have finally gotten The Camille Chronicles in the paddock, and am awaiting the upcoming pre-launch. Now, I have turned my attention back to Camp NaNoWriMo (as well as Clarion Write-A-Thon, but that will be a separate post).  I obviously need to focus on one major project at a time; my writing suffers, as you’ve seen, when I have it scattered hither and yon.

Today, while waiting for my mom in a doctor’s appointment, I actually got some writing done (Shoutout to the Samsung Galaxy Note!). I found that joy again, in the pure creation, and it was good. It was a nice respite from the business of self-publishing (you know: setting up distribution rights, EINs, royalty calculations, etc).

Anyway, I’m still delving deeper into the character of Lucien Bastille. I’ve figured out my betrayal moment and am working my way to that moment. His character’s backstory also requires a lot of research, as the time period and location lend to certain weather conditions, illnesses, and all that.

I’ve done 1,477 words so far, and I’m still writing. I may be up very late tonight because the book is flowing. Reunited…and it feels so good!

Thanks for stopping by.

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I’m so excited!

I got the final cover for my book today. WHEE!

 

Camille ebook cover

I am so excited! I have been nailing down the details for my pre-launch, and regular launch. I just added another spot for my fall book tour.  And I’m back to exercising regularly.

As you can see, a lot has been going on.

I’ve only done a few hundred words on my Camp NaNoWriMo project, and none on the Clarion project. Camp NaNoWriMo ends in two weeks; I highly doubt that I’ll make the 50K mark. I have a little more time with Clarion, and half as many words to achieve.

I plug away bit by bit, but I have not worked on them as I should have. Accountability has gone out the window.

Right now, I’m basking in the closeness of the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Won’t you join me? 😀

Thanks for stopping by.

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