Wednesday, March 27, 2013

8 Things I wish I knew before publishing on Amazon

This is the guest post that appeared on a few blogs during my recent blog tour:

When I took the plunge and became a self-published author, I thought to myself “How hard can this be?” I quickly found out being a self-published author can quickly become a full-time job, even if the pay isn’t quite there yet. The Hunter’s Son is live on Amazon ( and I’m pretty happy with the finished product. These are eight things I learned right away that I wish I knew before I started:
1. Writing is Lots and Lots of Work- Being an author, whether self or traditionally published is a ton of work. Writing can become an afterthought if you are not careful. Blogging, tweeting, website maintenance, and general promotion can take up all your time. Be prepared to work hard, but in the end, it will pay off.
2. Please don’t make me read it again- I believe I have written a really fine novel and some solid short stories. However, there is a certain point where I simply cannot read them another time. During the novel writing process I think I read my entire manuscript at least fifteen times. I could quote passages word for word and began to get glassy eyed when I saw it on my screen. The thing that helped the most was taking long breaks from working on my novel during the revision process. This might mean a few days or a few weeks. Each time I came back I felt refreshed and found new things to enjoy about my writing.
3. Sometimes I have no clue how to use commas- Revisions are one of the most critical part of writing and probably the most boring part, particularly the edits after the final proof read. Professional editing services are a must and I have a great editor (shameless plug for but spending hours on end placing punctuation can get old. My advice would be to pay close attention during your second draft process and don’t be afraid to read some things to brush up on grammar. There are plenty of great resources online you can look at (you can even use my errors from the post to help you out!).
4. People aren’t just going to buy my book because I think it is great- I never knew how much work promotion would be for my book. It is easy to think that you can put a book on Amazon or Smashwords and people will just buy it. At first this may happen when your friends and family snatch up the book right away, but those sales will dry up quickly. My biggest regret is not starting promotion before my book was finished. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
5. Everyone has a question for me- I never thought I would have to talk about my book so much. At first, I thought I was bugging people by talking about it so much, then I realized I was talking about it because everyone I ran into wanted to ask a question about it. Be prepared to answer “When did you write a book?” more than fifty times in the first month. At some point, this questions is going to be really cool and at some point this questions will get annoying. Just remember that most people are really proud to know an author because so many of them can’t imagine writing a whole book.
6. Everyone judges a book by its cover- Go to any online bookstore and imagine seeing a book with a terrible cover. Do you think the book contained within that cover is good? Do you think the person put a lot of time and effort into their writing? I was guilty of cheaping out on my cover when I first launched. I took my rudimentary skills in Adobe InDesign and thought my cover looked pretty sweet, until a few days passed and I started to hate what I had done to my good friend’s picture. Needless to say, a few dollars and a nice lady named Cheryl at made me feel much better about my book. Unless you are a graphic designer, pay for a book cover. You will make your money back for the cover at some point, and, if you don’t, at least you don’t have to be embarrassed when you show your book to friends.
7. Self-published authors are the nicest people- Think the self-publishing word is scary? I used to until I met some pretty cool people who are doing alright for themselves in the self-publishing world. Everyone is more than willing to share their experiences and tips on how to sell books. The best part is, most of them don’t even charge for it. Since I published my book, I have been in touch with people from all over the world. Each and every one of them is more than happy to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to contact someone who has a good book. Twitter is a great place to do this. In fact, you can follow me @jewellbe. I would love to talk books, sports or anything you want.
8. I never knew I would smile so much over something I created- I felt proud when I finished my first novel. I know how proud my wife and parents were of me when I told them it was done, but what really stuck a smile on my face was seeing the finished product online. I have a book and it is for sale. I have sold books in the US, Japan, Germany, England and France. People in other countries thought my idea was good enough that they would spend money on it. That is a pretty great feeling. One I plan to have more and more in the future.
There are plenty of other things I have learned since I published my novel, The Hunter’s Son (which incidentally is available on Amazon Check it out if you are interested and let me know what you think. If you want to chat some more, reach me @jewellbe on Twitter or check out my blog ( Thanks for reading and best of luck in your pursuit of self-publishing glory.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blog tour update or what the heck is tweeting or twating or whatever you call it

Just a quick mid-week update. The blog tour is in full swing. The Hunter's Son was featured on yesterday and there are a number of book reviews, guest posts, and author interviews coming up. I will periodically post the links the day of each particular blog feature, but if you want to see the full schedule, go to my author page at Orangeberry Book Tours here. Unless the reviews are bad, in which case do not go to the blog pages that day (this is my worst nightmare by the way).

Today, as part of the tour, I did something called a twitter view. It was like an author interview through Twitter. It went alright I think. I'm not certain I really knew what the heck was going on. Which brings me to my next topic.

I'm pretty sure I use Twitter completely wrong.

In the past, before my days as an author, I used Twitter for one purpose and one purpose only: Sports. I found it was, and still is, a great way to connect with local sports reporters. Most of the guys and gals are very accessible through Twitter and will give great in game updates and respond directly to fans. Being a sports nut (mostly Chicago teams) this is have become a fun and eventful way to get information about my favorite teams and players.

That is where my experience with Twitter ended. Since learning more about marketing my book, I have been told numerous times "Man, you have to get on Twitter to sell some serious books". I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I feel like I am completely lost. I think this is how my parents felt, or maybe still feel, when trying to use their computer (sorry Mom and Dad).

I always forget to use hashtags, and when I do, I get the feeling I am using them wrong. I'm not really sure, when I reply, who gets to see my reply verses who gets to see my direct tweets. This is definitely something I need brush up on because I believe Twitter can be a great marketing tool. Some people apparently swear by it.

So I pose this question to any of you who stumble across this blog: How have you used Twitter to market your product, website, book or any other thing you have sold on the internet? Also, can you point myself or any other self-promoter in the direction of some good resources about Twitter?

Hopefully I get the hang of this thing quick because I feel like I'm losing out. I don't plan on tweeting my every movement but I also do not want my followers to feel like they are getting nothing but spam about my book. Maybe some day I'll be able to tweet or chirp or whatever with the best of them.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

These Books Are Not Going to Write Themselves

I have been working so hard on promoting The Hunter’s Son that I forgot the most important part of being an author: Writing. Writing has become a bit of an afterthought in my life and it is starting to stress me out. I’m not sure I will ever be at the Stephen King level of production (read “On Writing”, it will make you want to be an author even if you don’t right now) , but I try to put down at least 5000 words a week plus blogging, Facebook and Twitter. All this plus my full-time job is starting to wear me down. I am battling the voices in my head that scream for sleep when I’m writing and scream for writing when I should be sleeping. I definitely need to find a bit of balance in my personal life, writing life and career. That should be easy, right?
I have taken a few days off from writing The Hunter’s Vengeance (currently about a quarter of the way finished) and am considering pumping out some short stories over the next week to get up on Amazon in the near future. I have some ideas for some short story collections I may try to put up for free or 99 cents to get some buzz going for The Hunter’s Son and because I think I have some pretty good ideas. I figure the more I have online for readers to stumble across the better off I will be.  
I know I need to get my priorities straight with my writing. I decided to become an author so I could share my love of storytelling with the world, not so I could be Don King behind a keyboard. The land of promotion for self-published authors appears to be uncharted at times. That being said, I have run into some really great people out there who are more than willing to share their ideas, experiences and tricks. I figured self-publishing would be like anything else; a cutthroat competition to see who can move the most units the quickest. I have seen over the last few weeks that I was totally wrong.
All the self-published authors I have run into have been friendly, gracious and helpful. It truly is one of the nicest communities of people I have been a part of online. Everyone seems to have the same goal in mind and they are plenty happy to see other authors succeed. I have tried to pass this on to some of the people I have met recently and have had the opportunity to share what I have learned. Heck, maybe my next book should be about self-publishing. Someone has to write the next 99 cent bestseller on how to sell 99 cent bestsellers.
Where did all the sales go?
The Hunter’s Son was doing pretty well on Amazon for a few weeks. I figure this is because my family, friends and Facebook acquaintances were busy snatching up my book as soon as it came out (mostly because I bugged them like crazy until the submitted). Then things started to dry up. I did a free promotion through KDP Select without much outside promotion to get the book in the hands of a few hundred people, which is exactly what happened. For a few days, I was #13 on Amazon’s list of Teen Horror books. That was pretty cool, but I did not enjoy the post giveaway bump (something most authors have been saying has disappeared without further promotion).
At first I was pretty upset about this, but was talked back down to Earth by my editor. Did I really expect to sell 10,000 books because I gave away 400? Part of me answered yes to that question. I mean, my book is pretty awesome so it should just sell. Those crazy ideas are gone and have been replaced by my first Orangeberry Book tour. I am going to hit 10 blogs over the next 15 days and will get some promotion on Twitter. It was a pretty cost effective way to get some promotion and I will update on how things go as it progresses. Hopefully, I will sell a few books, get some more good reviews on Amazon and start getting back to writing.
That’s what this is all about for me after all. I want my life to be about family and writing. I just hope I have the time for both. We shall see.