Author: Artistikem

The Tale of the Missing Tail

Wow. This week’s been a roller-coaster of emotions! If you follow me on Twitter or if we’re friends on Facebook than you know my cat Jin-Jing was missing for five straight days. I posted about it on social media and was ready to start hanging fliers all over my neighborhood when, come Monday morning, I heard her meowing for me to let her in through the back door. Exactly like she’s used to do every morning (she was rescued from the streets and even when she’s spayed, she’s remained an outdoor cat).

She was home, safe but not entirely sound. She was walking funny and when I got a look of her tail, that was when I had to take my hands to my head. She’d lost all hair and skin and muscle right around the middle or her tail, with a bit of bone exposed. We’ve come to the conclusion that whatever happened to her happened the same day she disappeared since the lower half of her tail already reeked.

We had to run to the vet so he could tell us what we already knew: there was no way he could save her tail.

It was heartbreaking but we knew she was in good hands. Hours later, we went to pick our redesigned JJ.

JJ back from the vet

Of course, like any vet procedure, this came at a price. One we couldn’t afford just now. So I decided to set up a gofundme page and that’s when both Hubby and I were floored. The response from family and friends was overwhelming. So many sent JJ good wishes we can say the good vibes have helped her recover from her surgery pretty fast. We have to thank each and every one who helped us spread the news while she was missing, cover the cost of her surgery, and have been keeping JJ in their thoughts. We’ll be forever in debt with you. <3

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And yes. She’s grounded. For life.

On Book Reviews

I’ve been writing this blog post for days and thinking about writing it for even longer because I know how touchy this subject is. Still, I’d like to address it, to write about it through the eyes of a not-so-seasoned author that is still developing some thicker skin.

Googling the term “what is a book review” brings this up:

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_review)

Book reviews have become the modern day/virtual version of word-of-mouth. Readers can post them to retail sites, blogs, and places dedicated to them like Goodreads and Librarything. For a writer in this digital era reviews are crucial, since a huge percentage of readers will base their decision to buy your book or not on them.

Thing is, book reviews aren’t always a writer’s friend. As an author, you need to have in mind the fact that not everyone will like your book, that some people will hate it while others will be telling their friends about how much they loved everything about it and how much they need to read it, NAO. However, our books are like our children. We love them to death and are ready to fight anyone that dares tell us they’re not as pretty as our eyes see them.

“They are all my children. Maybe some are cross-eyed, but I love them all.”

~ Carlos Fuentes on his books

You still haven’t explained the pic of the running girl above.

Last time I blogged I talked about how I was going back to my running days. It’s still going strong and I’m super happy about it and how it has also sparked my CrossFit workouts. My core’s still shaking from working on them overhead squats! But when it comes to running I’ve noticed how much outside things influence me, more so than when I’m lifting heavy weights.

Back when I still had a smartphone (my Note 2 died on me a week ago and I still haven’t been able to replace it) one of the first things I used to do when I woke up was check KDP and my latest release’s Amazon and Goodreads pages. Bad, I know. Whatever feeling I got from that, either good or bad, permeated towards my morning run. Especially when it came to bad reviews, which in turn made me run like a madwoman, almost punishing myself for whatever it was I had done.

I have a really nice network of friends and supporters and I can summarize all the advice I’ve either received from them or read about the whole authors and reviews dilemma with:

“Don’t read them.” “Don’t take them personally.” “It’s just some asshole who hates everything and doesn’t deserve your attention… or your tears.”

The problem is that when you self-publish you can’t have the luxury of not reading your book’s reviews. The problem is that when you self-publish you also become your publicist, marketer, agent, all of the above, and you can’t ignore the fact that people are writing things about the product (your work) you’re selling. You have to be on top of all that stuff so you can design marketing strategies or even writing strategies for future works. You have to read the reviews so you know what’s happening with your book after releasing it into that big, dark, and scary wilderness called The Internet.

Thanks to Nikki Nelson-Hicks for this. ;)

Thanks to Nikki Nelson-Hicks for this. ;)

Weeks ago my book The Last Superhero got an awful review on Goodreads. It was a 3 star one which isn’t that bad, but the language the reviewer used was rather inappropriate. As I read it I thought “well, okay, he pretty much hated the book. Whatever.” I can live with people hating my books, hating on my characters, hating the plot, the settings, the covers, whatever they want to hate.

What I can’t live with is someone calling me “a lazy cunt.” The Last Superhero’s first chapters are filled with curse words so reviews with strong language don’t bother me. And, as I said before, I can totally get it if you hate my characters or story, but personal insults? That’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed by any reviewer, ever. We self-pubbed authors work really hard. Our families think we’ll never do anything worthwhile (unless we hit a bestseller list, if we ever do), we battle with characters that populate our minds and are fighting for our attention All. The. Fucking. Time. And then there’s the whole business side of things with the edits and the formatting and designing and marketing and STRESS.

Of course, not everything’s bad. I’ve gotten some glowing reviews for The Last Superhero that have helped me cope with the whole I-wanna-die ones (like this one from Reading… Dreaming or this one from Indieberlin). And, yes, I know this is part of the process of developing that armor all artists need once they decide to come out into the world, yet, as an author, I beg to all the reviewers out there to treat us authors as they’d like to be treated: with the respect we all deserve. Is that too hard a thing to ask for?

In the meantime, I’ll be out there running while muttering under my breath about those reviews. Oh, and writing, because no amount of bad reviews can ever stop that.

I know the Paper Rats agree with me on that. ;)

Hello 2015… Or is it too late for that?

13 days into the year.

2 consecutive days that I’ve hauled my ass out of bed early in the morning to go to the track. I really really need to go back to my exercise routines after the whole chikungunya and all-you-can-eat Christmas affair. I’m not starting a diet, I know myself too well for that, I’m just going to start watching what I eat and exercise regularly doing both running and Crossfit. Like last time, because I was seeing results and I was so happy with myself before the chikungunya got me good and left me unable to lift a weight without having to endure horrible pains during the night. Last night I had no pain at all, I’m hoping tonight’s the same.

I don’t make resolutions, that’s setting myself for failure. I only try to keep up what I’ve been doing, stay with what worked last year and add to that, nothing more. That’s why I ended 2014/started 2015 with some book promos. The first one was a Kindle Countdown Deal for The Last Superhero that was a mild success. The book went down to 99 cents on Dec 28, got 12 downloads, then up to $1.99, 5 downloads. It’s a new book, had only a couple of reviews, and it’s in a genre I’m not known for so I’m not banging my head against the wall for those numbers. The best promo sites used were bknights and Just Kindle Books although I wouldn’t recommend bknights for paid books, it’s not their forte, fact that I knew about thanks to Kindle Boards members that had used the service before but I still wanted to try it.

Now is the part where I give you some proof, right?

I decided to start the year with a promo for The Caregiver (Book 1) so I booked promos for it with bknights (Jan 5), Genre Pulse (Jan 6), and The Kindle Book Review (Jan 7-8). The results were great and, once again, bknights took the trophy.

TC promo resultsJan 5: 441 downloads, Jan 6: 275, Jan 7: 73, Jan 8: 171.

Oh, and I was a tad clever before the promo and added a link to the second and the third book right after THE END on books 1 and 2 respectively, which is probably why I’ve gotten downloads for Torn (Book 2). *pats own shoulder* Also, Amazon.co.uk finally caught up with Amazon.com and now the book is free over there too. Woot!

Something else I’m doing in 2015 is starting a mailing list. This is huge because I’ve always been against it although I’m subscribed to hundreds of them. Whatever. I haz succumbed to the pressure. Feel free to join, I promise not to spam you.

I’m getting beta reader feedback on Turmoil (Episode 1 of The Caregiver Prequel) and will be working on that. Of course, feel free to pre-order it if you want, or don’t, if you don’t want.

That’s pretty much it. I promise to blog more frequently and less incoherently during this year.

Onwards.

Bye bye 2014!

This year has been something all right. Since last Christmas’ terrible outturn, I had promised myself I’d turn things around and I think I managed to do so.

Publishing The Beast was a labor of love after what happened but we made it. My lovely editor (Stacia Rogan) was there for me every step of the way and has been my go-to person whenever it feels like life’s eating me raw.

Then came The Last Superhero and that was an even bigger accomplishment in the personal department since it was a story I’d written years ago and only now did I gather the courage to rewrite and publish it. It was also a challenge for Stacia, so it’s kept us both on our toes through the whole editing and pre-ordering and promoting and running around in circles process. [Signed copies still available over at my website]

It was a fun ride, this year. One in which I learned enough to believe I’ve got a clear idea on what 2015 should bring. And that’s more books, of course.

Right now I’m bouncing off some ideas for The Caregiver that involve a series of prequels. When I wrote the first book it was meant to be a standalone short story. You all know that didn’t happen. Three books later, we’re close to finishing the series and there’s been a real interest in knowing more about Scarlett’s past. Where she comes from, her family, her previous relationships. Adrian. Xavi. Jin-Jing. Bobby. Vinny. Romulus. Ferdinand. Young. So many characters are begging for me to give them more page time that I’ll be publishing the prequel one episode at a time. They’ll all be novel length and only 99¢.

Prequels 1and2

Early cover concepts

Why in episodes? Nothing to do with the recent KU debates and stuff and all to do with how emotionally charged the story is. I feel like if I, the writer, need to walk away and breathe after 20-something chapters, I’m not putting my readers through 60 grueling ones. Also, lots of characters! I’m already experimenting with pre-ordering Turmoil (Episode 1 of The Caregiver prequel) since the book is written and ready for edits.

So keep your eyes peeled for more books. Let’s kick 2015 in the ass!

Second Day of The Last Superhero Kindle Countdown Deal!

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‘Tis the second day of The Last Superhero’s Kindle Countdown Deal!

Dec 28 – get it for only 99¢

Dec 29 – get it for $1.99

Dec 30 – back to regular price, $2.99

Head over to Amazon.com and download it now!

The Last Superhero Kindle Countdown Deal!

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Just a friendly reminder:

The Last Superhero’s Kindle Countdown deals on Amazon.com start today!

Dec 28 – get it for only 99¢

Dec 29 – get it for $1.99

Dec 30 – back to regular price, $2.99

Check out yesterday’s post about it!

Save the dates!

These last 9 days have been a roller coaster ride for me and I do love roller coasters, so I don’t mean it in a bad way. Ups, downs, but mostly ups since launching The Last Superhero on December 18 after a successful (at least to me) pre-order campaign.

I had debated whether or not to put The Last Superhero on pre-order since the moment I knew I was publishing it on December. KDP’s pre-order feature had been up and running for some time and the hive mind had a lot of information about it, especially this thread over at Kboards. I went back and forth with the idea, presented it to my editor, and we both came to the conclusion that talking publicly about a book that technically doesn’t exist yet doesn’t bode well with everyone. It’s mind bogging how quick people forget about stuff in this information-overloaded era and having a pre-0rder link while we worked on the last round of edits sounded like the best way to go; a place where we could direct people who showed interest about the book to and not have to rely on praying they didn’t forget how excited they were about it when they first heard the news. Also, it helped make it a bit more real for us… and a lot more nerve wracking.

I wrote blog posts. I ran an ARC copies Goodreads giveaway and a Rafflecopter one for signed copies. I made a Facebook event for the launch. I tweeted and FBed the hell out of it.

I’m not one of those authors with huge sales numbers so, for me, The Last Superhero has done reasonably well (27 pre-orders and a couple of sales trickling in daily). However, I know that with some more promo it can do a lot better.

In comes the Kindle Countdown Deal.

The Last Superhero is enrolled in KDP Select for the moment because I want to take advantage of both the countdown deals and the dreaded Kindle Unlimited. I don’t plan to keep it in Select forever so I’ll try to use it to my advantage while it’s there.

December 28th will be my 10th wedding anniversary. Yes, we’ve survived ten years together! And I thought it a great time to run a two day promo. I could go on about how the main characters resonate with my life but I already did that here. Needless to say, Giana and Steven, as well as Scarlett and Armand from my Caregiver Series, are May December romances, just like Hubby and I. Although, Steven’s 102, which could sound a bit hardcore but hey, he’s a superhero and they age slower so, yeah, age is only a number.

You’re over a hundred years old?” And you’re not a vampire!

Yes.”

Cool.”

Cool?”

Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. And, well, you look better than most of the hundred-year-olds I’ve met.” And you definitely don’t shag like a hundred-year-old either.

That makes him laugh, lightens the mood, makes the flame on the candle sway with his wine-infused breath.

- Excerpt from Chapter 11

*ahem* The deal?

Oh, yeah, that.

The Last Superhero will be $0.99 on Dec 28, it’ll then go up to $1.99 on Dec 29 before settling back to its original price of $2.99 on Dec 30. This will only be happening on Amazon’s .com site. I’m trying to make it happen on the UK one too but I had to do a price change for that and I don’t know if it’ll be set for tomorrow.

Sites/services I’ve set promos with:

1. eReader Utopia

2. Awesome Gang

3. Just Kindle Books

4. Bargain Booksy

5. Bknights

1 and 4 I’ve used before while 2, 3, and 5 are new to me. I’ve found these sites through web searches, Kboards, and Lindsay Buroker’s awesome blog. I’m still trying to figure all this out since marketing isn’t my forte but I’m confident I’m on the right track, even if it’s only to give the book a bit of a ranking boost.

Another fantastic service I’ll be using is Booktastik, where TLS will be featured as a New Release on January 2nd.

There are other places I’d love to be able to feature the book (i.e. BookSends) but alas, it doesn’t have enough reviews to pass their submission requirements. Another one I want to try is BookBub but that’ll have to wait until the budget allows it (that if they don’t reject TLS once I can submit). This is why reviews are so important to authors. It’s not only a thing of validation, it’s a necessary evil for marketing and therefore, sales, and therefore, surviving as a scribbler in this big bad world.

Save the dates!

December 28 – The Last Superhero will be $0.99

December 29 – The Last Superhero will be $1.99