Saturday, June 18, 2011

A motivational moment

I've recently gone back and perused J.A. Konrath's older blog posts on his Newbie's Guide to Publishing. If you're an indie author and haven't read Konrath's blog, I highly recommend doing so, otherwise, you're missing out on some great information.

During my reading, I've come across several posts where he talks candidly about the emotions new authors experience when they first start out in this business. It's refreshing to know that I'm not alone in my self-doubt and frustration. Nor am I alone in my obsessive tendencies to Google my name and check my sales stats on my various distributors' websites repeatedly throughout the day. While these affirmations are nice, the most valuable insights are learning from his experiences with self-promotion.

While I'm ignorant about advertising and marketing, it's nice to know I can go somewhere to learn from someone else's mistakes and successes. Especially, someone who is succeeding in the field of writing. More often that not, when I feel depressed about my low sales, feel like I'm a voice quacking in the void, or that I'm just another face in crowd, I can read Joe's posts and begin to feel better about the things I am doing, gain a sense of motivation, and know I need to stay the course.

An update on what I've been doing

Forgive me. It's been a while since my last blog post. Why does this sound like a Catholic confession? Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been *insert time here* since my last confession. Maybe I feel guilty for not blogging more frequently.

Lately, I've been working on a new novel. The working title is called Pass the Buck and, of course, it takes place in Atlanta. I'm not delving into details at this point as the story is still in its infancy, but from the feedback I received when I pitched the idea to friends, I'm very excited about it. I hope I can do it justice and deliver a highly entertaining story my readers. Time will tell.

My college hit man novel, Majoring in Murder, is still in the editorial phase. I've gone through it several time and felt comfortable enough to give it to two of my beta readers (one of those being my wife, who is marking it up as if I was one of her students). Hopefully, she'll be finished with it soon so that I can make my revisions and give it to some different beta readers. This is always such a daunting process for me. I hate editing, as do most writers I know. Also, the honest feedback can sting sometimes and make any writer doubt themselves. But, it shouldn't be too long until I can offer up the book to the readers.

I pitched the idea to a fellow writer friend to co-author a book together. Since he writes science fiction and I enjoy writing crime fiction, we have to come up with an idea that will appeal to both of us. I've got one fairly solid idea and the seeds for another. He's supposed to be brainstorming about some ideas too, so we'll see where we are after July 4th when we reconvene to discuss whether we really want to go through with writing a book together. So, stay tuned for that.

As you may know, and in case you don't, I released my anthology, An Adverse Anthology: Strange & Disturbing Short Stories ,earlier this month on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. If you haven't yet purchased a copy, you're missing out on some really entertaining stories. Also, I've lowered the price from $2.99 to $2.25, which is quite a bargain for 8 stories. Did I mention they were very entertaining? In addition, I've uploaded a more professionally formatted version for both Kindle and Nook on Amazon and B&N. Unfortunately, I have yet to try this Smashwords. This brings me to another point...

I recently came across a series of posts by another indie publisher, Guido Henkel, who gave quite a lot of insight into professionally formatting one's eBooks. His series is definitely worth a read if you want to make your eBooks look their best. The information he presents is priceless, in my opinion. I will warn you ahead of time that it gets fairly technical if you're not familiar with HTML.

In the past, when I uploaded my manuscript, I would simply submit a Word document that was complete and polished. The frustration came when I would upload it to Amazon, view it in the Kindle emulator, tweak it to make it look as I wanted, and then do the same at Barnes & Noble, only to discover that it needed more tweaking to look right for the Nook Color. Once it looked nice in the Nook Color, I would view it in the older Nook emulator and see that it looked hideous. Talk about wanting to pull my hair out! And then there's Smashwords "meatgrinder" where they highly advise you to upload a Word document and adhere to their style guide specifications. Guido's series will eliminate that frustration (at least for Amazon and B&N) and make your manuscript look like you want it to on any eReader device.

I've reformatted my anthology using his steps and tested it on my Nook for PC app, the Kindle app on my smart phone, and the Nook Color I own, and I must say, it looks stellar! I still need to test uploading an ePub version to Smashwords to learn how well their meatgrinder handles the format and I'll do a post to tell you what I learn. I plan to incorporate these techniques into every eBook I publish from this point forward.

Now that I've added another, professionally formatted, title to my repertoire and I'm struggling with self-promotion and experimenting with price points. I've sold several copies of my latest short story collection, but nothing like I was expecting. Of course, I don't have an extensive back list or anything, so I imagine what I'm experiencing is just par for the course. Hopefully, things will pick up as I build my oeuvre. Again, time will tell.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another title released!

I released a collection of short stories today that I've been working on polishing for quite some time. Well, I finally finished. This new book is called An Adverse Anthology: Strange & Disturbing Short Stories, which you can see in the sidebar to the right. It contains 8 short stories that I hope will stir your imagination and emotions. Here is the jacket description:

"From the mind of J.R. McLemore come eight strange and disturbing short stories:
When the Dead Whisper - If the dead had a secret, would you want to hear it?
Jason's Last Wish - Can a cancer-stricken boy get a second chance at life?
Western Justice - Do the sins of our fathers come back to haunt us?
Hush, Hush, My Love - When a relationship sours, is it wise to look for love elsewhere?
Paranoia - Is a retired cop suffering from severe paranoia, or something else?
Sweet Charlotte - Can someone save Charlotte from her abductor before it's too late?
The Show Must Go On - Can a death-row inmate's nightmares give us a glimpse into the hereafter?
Footprints in the Snow - Can a young man learn a life-altering lesson on a rural stretch of road?

At the time of this blog post, it is available on Smashwords here. I've uploaded it to Amazon and B&N, but it is still in the approval process by those distributors. When it is available there, I will update the links in the sidebar, on my website, and everywhere else I can think of.

So, if you've come by, stopped and read this blog, I do hope you'll get a copy of my book. I doubt you'll be sorry you did. Also, for $2.99, it's less than a single copy of most popular magazines.

Oh, one more thing, if you do happen to get a copy, please rate and/or write a review for it. It doesn't matter if you hate it, leaving a review makes my day. Thanks for stopping by.