The Amazing Power of Readers- A Peek Behind The Curtain

 

 

As a reader, why should you care what goes on behind the scenes in book publishing? As long as you can find affordable books to suit your interest, things like book piracy, book stuffing and fake reviews won’t affect you. Right?

Wrong.

It may not affect you personally, but those factors, and much more, have already had an effect on authors, especially indie authors.

Scandals Galore

2018 has been a year of upheaval for the publishing industry, and the romance genre in particular. Authors and others related to the industry have been deeply concerned about several issues and forces that, if not resolved, may mean many authors will simply quit writing, rather than continue the often uphill battle that is book publishing.

If unfair practices and scammers overrun the marketplace, it will become much more difficult for readers to find the books they want to read. If authors quit writing simply because they can no longer afford to fight the tide of scammers, pirates, and automated, indiscriminate policing from retailers, there will be less books for you to choose from.

Want to find out more about what Indie Authors face today? Click here

Why Now?

Not caring about any of this is a valid viewpoint. Authors do not expect readers to know how much work it takes to bring a book to market and keep it there. But in my experience, and from what I have been hearing on social media and on blogs, a majority of readers do care what happens to their favorite authors, and by extension, authors in general. Many, up until recently, have been unaware of some of the challenges authors have been facing. But the frustration over what appears to be ongoing unfair practices has caused things to come to a boiling point, and the voices of dissension have been getting louder.

Readers really should care, because what has been happening has already begun to affect their choices.

This blog post by Author Jami Gold spells out clearly a few of the issues, including Trademarking common words and book stuffing on Kindle Unlimited.

You Are Powerful

There are several other issues authors face daily which can have a severe impact on getting their books to market so you may read them. If even a few readers take the time to find out what is happening and learn how to (properly and respectfully) report the unfair practices that make their reading experience less than desirable, we may see positive change. We are a consumer-based society, and consumer habits and preferences are very powerful.

You deserve to read only the best quality of your chosen reading material. Most authors want to provide this for you. Those who are in it only for the money will always find ways around the system, or to fool unsuspecting consumers, and quite often they trade quality for quick, easy money.

On the other hand, ethical authors agonize probably way more than is even necessary to bring you a quality product, and that requires much time, effort and expense. Several authors I know are already pulling their titles from Kindle Unlimited. It comes down to a business decision, and many cannot afford to continually fight.

Transparency and Gratitude

The purpose of this post is simply to let readers know they have a stake in what happens in this industry. In the days of traditional-only publishing, readers were far removed from the behind the scenes machinations of book publishing. Most didn’t have regular contact with their favorite authors. But it’s a different world now, and you can help. The curtain is wide open, as it should be. Talk to others, both readers and authors. Research the hashtags #Cockygate and #Bookstuffing. Support ethical Indie Authors who play by the rules and want to bring you the best stories possible. We do this writing gig for many reasons, but the main reason is you—the reader.

And for that, we thank you.

 

 

 

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The Amazing Resilience of Indie Authors

On the wall in my office

Just when you thought it was safe to finally self-publish your novel, a new challenge rears its’ ugly head to join the long list of problems facing authors today.

Writing a book and having it published is quite an accomplishment, no matter how you get there. Accomplishing that and having a successful career as an Indie (Independent) Author, is a whole other ball game.

Don’t Get Cocky

The latest challenge which played out on the internet recently was over Trademarking. Just search the word, “Cockygate” and you’ll find dozens of posts and articles describing what happened. The issue may take some time to fully resolve, but the bottom line is this case has the potential to forever change the way we use words, and how we as authors (and maybe even the rest of the world) can advertise.

Hopefully, it won’t be the worst-case scenario that many fear. But, it simply adds another brick to the growing wall of obstacles one faces when publishing on the internet.

What else, you may ask? Here’s just a few of the everyday challenges I see when talking with other Indie Authors on social media:

Pirates– illegal copies of books on websites, either for free or for sale (someone else making money off your hard work)

Troll reviewers– leaving bad reviews on books they never read, or due to shipping problems, or revealing spoilers

Retailers (especially the really big one) stripping pages read, stripping reviews, shutting down accounts with no explanation, accusing authors of breach of contract due to pirates having stolen their work, or scammers using their books without their knowledge, page reads suddenly dropping off, sales suddenly dropping off, not changing or correcting issues in a timely manner—all with no notice, little recourse and scant communication options

Losing money on pre-scheduled ads and promotions because of the above

Possibly unscrupulous readers obtaining books through giveaways and then selling them online, or returning them for money (when gifted online- of course they have the right; but did they get it for free to read, or just to get something for it? We never know).

Purchasers reading an entire series, and then returning all books for a refund (try that in any other industry. Not talking here about accidental purchases, but systematic read and returns).

 

I may have missed a few, feel free to add your own. This doesn’t even cover the subject of how e-books have been devalued due to so many free books on the market, but it bears consideration when looking at all the things which affect a career. Indies put so much time, effort, and money into their books, and get relatively little for each book in sales. So, any and all of the above challenges chip away at what could be profits.

However…

Despite all of the above, I have found the Indie Author community to be some of the most helpful, patient, kind, supportive, and resilient bunch of people I have ever come across. They love writing so much, they keep going despite all the problems. They share information on social media, in blog posts, and in craft books, to help other authors fight the good fight to get our work into the hands of readers.

Yes, there are a few bad apples, or those who inadvertently piss others off, even though they mean well. But the vast majority of authors know this:

WE ARE NOT EACH OTHER’S COMPETITION!

We are stronger banding together. The beauty of writing books is, readers keep reading.  Just because a reader has read every vampire romance novel out there, doesn’t mean she is done. If you write a good one, she’ll probably read that, too. So, having books that look similar, sound similar, have similar stories (tropes) are a good thing. It helps the readers find what they are looking for. Just because someone buys another author’s book, does not mean they won’t buy one of yours.

In fact, it usually has the opposite effect of spurring more sales, overall. Readers find new authors, authors find new readers.

Most Indie authors know this and strive to give the readers what they want. Yes, we all do “copy” each other—to a point. Except for plagiarism, of course. Don’t ever do that.

I was proud to be part of the Indie Author community this week, as I witnessed how creative the support for each other was. From sharing links to buying books, to joint promotions—Indies banded together like never before. There was even a hash tag, #ThisIsHowYouIndie.  It was solidarity at its finest. A few of us had been affected by the Trademark issue, so all of us were.

So, go find your Tribe, and love them hard. How else are we going to face all the challenges of Indie Publishing, and celebrate our wins?  We are all in these trenches together, so we may as well help each other.

Giveaway Contest- The Secret and The Law of Attraction

Are you aware of the power of your mind?

I was using the power of my mind, and the so-called “Law of Attraction” before I ever knew it had a name. I’m a writer, and my imagination has always been my best friend. It has helped me cope with tough times in my life, and looking back, I can see how it helped to shape my experiences. I have consistently visualized and wrote about the circumstances and experiences I desired, and I can honestly say, most have come to fruition.

It’s A Real Thing

I first wrote about the movie “The Secret” and the Abraham-Hicks books on the Law of Attraction in a previous blog post, but to summarize, they both explain what the Law of Attraction is and how to use it. How the universe responds to our “vibration” or thought patterns, because our thoughts (and the emotions that cause them) actually do affect the vibration of everything around us. Basically, what you think about is what you attract, so it’s better to have an understanding of how it works, so you can influence what happens, right? If you’d like to learn more about how to do this, and manifest what you want in life, I have good news!

I accidentally purchased a duplicate copy of the book, Money and The Law of Attraction, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and an instructional 2-CD set of one of their lectures, as well. I also have an extra copy of the movie, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, and I’d like to give them away here on this blog.

Paying It Forward

It is important to me that the book, CDs, and movie DVD end up in the hands of those who truly want to learn about the Law of Attraction. They have helped me immensely, and I want to pass this knowledge on. I am holding a contest, with two winners- one for the Abraham-Hicks book and CD set, the other for The Secret movie DVD. Both are a great introduction if you are just starting out, or as additional knowledge if you have been studying. If you are interested, and want to enter for the drawing, here’s what to do:

Post a comment on this blog before April 15, 2018, explaining why you want to win, what the Law of Attraction means to you, or why you are eager to learn about it. Winners (one for each prize) will be chosen at random from the comments on April 16, 2018. (Open to U.S. residents only, WordPress is not responsible in any way).

If you are interested in metaphysical topics in general, I have compiled a mini-eBook on posts I’ve written which you might find informative. It’s FREE if you sign up for my newsletter at reneeregent.com/newsletter. There are four more free mini-eBooks there for you to download, too, if you like.

I have read the book and listened to the CDs, and watched the movie, many times. If I feel negative thoughts taking over, it helps me to get back on track. This really has made a difference in my life, and I am eager to help you do the same.

So, what do you think about the Law of Attraction? Good luck!

What To Do If Your Characters Won’t Talk To You

Or do they talk too much?

 

Is there a “right” way to communicate with your characters?

I pondered this question late one night when I couldn’t sleep (the places a mind can go at three in the morning!). The topic was on my mind due to a Facebook discussion, where an author was concerned she had a problem because her characters wouldn’t “talk” to her. She had heard other authors say they had regular and vivid conversations with their characters, and she felt left out because she didn’t.

Many in the responses assured her she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Several authors, myself included, said their characters don’t communicate with them like disembodied entities. The consensus at the end of the thread was, like most aspects of writing, there’s no one right way. How your characters communicate with you is part of your writing process, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Whose Head Is This?

Personally, my characters don’t talk to me, they talk through me. I do a rough character sketch before I begin writing a story, but the characters, whether main or secondary, reveal themselves to me as I write. They don’t get inside my head, but I get inside theirs. When I am writing in a character’s POV, I am that character. I inhabit their mind, see what they see, feel what they feel. I think that is why I am able to write in deep point of view, and also why I can’t stand “head hopping” (alternating POV in the same scene). It may also be why I write slower than some writers, because it takes time to get into, and out of, character. The only downside is, when I write from the POV of an antagonist who is psychologically messed up, or a villain type, it sometimes creeps me out and takes a while to recover!

My reviews have cited “a wealth of character development” and now I know why. I didn’t even realize that I was, so to speak, “inhabiting” my characters until I thought about how other authors communicate with theirs.

Characters Are Crucial

Characters and their motivations, quirks, and personalities are extremely important in fiction. No matter what genre you write, character development is what makes the reader care about what is happening plot-wise. Some genres have more emphasis on character development and interaction than others, but knowing your characters is crucial for all fiction.
So, what can you do if they aren’t jabbering?

Here’s a few tips I have heard about getting to know your characters:

Write a character sketch– it can be a few paragraphs, a list, or a dossier. Some writers swear by this, and it helps them to know what food the character likes, what astrological sign they are, what happened to them when they were six, etc. Much of the information may not be used in the story, but serves as background, which helps to develop the character’s motivations and quirks.

Interview your characters– pretend you’re a journalist or a psychologist, and grill them with questions. Many writers find this helps when they are stuck, to ask the character what he/she wants to happen.

Try deep POV– even if you are not writing your story that way. Really get inside your character’s mind, and figure out why they behave the way they do. Writing a scene or two, which you may or may not use, can trigger you to discover aspects about that character you were missing.

Map it out– use a structural template, such as Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, or something similar, to map out your character’s development and arc. Sometimes breaking it down like that can trigger all sorts of ideas and provide insight into the character’s psychological makeup.

Brainstorm- talk it out with another author or a trusted beta reader. If you feel disconnected or blocked from a character, talking it through with someone else can also trigger understanding. Sometimes just voicing your concerns out loud can make the character more “real” and you can gain insight into what they want or should do in your story.

The bottom line is, there is no one right way to communicate with your characters. Whether they are noisy or quiet, how they get the story through you and onto the page is highly personal and individual. While it is a good idea to try new methods, don’t compare yourself to other writers. If your way makes you comfortable and works for you, bravo!

Do your characters talk to you? What’s your process for finding out what they are all about?

Meet Mark Tiro- Author of Implicit, Soul Invictus

Did you ever read a novel that stayed with you for days, months, even years afterward? That went way beyond merely entertaining you, and changed your life?
An intriguing, gripping plot, and relatable yet interesting characters are the hallmarks of a good novel, in any genre. But when a story unfolds in such a way as to take you along with it, and literally change your perceptions not only of the world, but of what life on this earth really means? That is another experience altogether.

An Impressive Debut

Author Mark Tiro began writing because he loved books like that—and he wanted to contribute to the expansion of reader’s minds, as well as to entertain them. After studying metaphysical literary phenomena such as The Celestine Prophecy and A Course In Miracles, he felt he was ready to write the story he was born to write.

Mark’s writing style has been compared to authors Paul Coelho and Richard Bach, and his debut novel, Implicit, Soul Invictus, has been well received. Here are a few of the great reviews:

“An emotional tour de force and breathtaking adventure in forgiveness!”
“Engripping! It’s a novel so novel it takes a new word to describe.”

Released November 1, 2017, this fast-paced yet deep novel follows the past and future lives of Maya Lee, and her epic journey on her last forgiveness adventure. The sequel, All These Things, Maya Invictus, followed a month later, on December first. Both novels are available on Amazon or can be read for free through the Kindle Unlimited subscription service.

The Inspiration

I recently sat down with Mark to find out more about these fascinating novels:

How did you get the concept for your novel series, and when did you begin writing?

I hit upon an idea to write about one woman’s epic journeys through her past and future lives. And I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t bore readers to death.
Readers either love Maya or they hate her. She’s brilliant, and tenacious. She’s the kind of person you’d love to have a drink with. But she’s also angry, and when people screw her over, she’s driven to get even. I wanted to show how this plays out—not just in this lifetime, but as Maya goes from lifetime to lifetime. She doesn’t check her desire for revenge at the door, and at some point—you know it’s going to catch up with her
So, this is my take on Maya’s epic journey—and it’s quite an adventure.

What was it that drew you to the concept of reincarnation?

It’s like a dream we all have at night: we’re in our bed, sleeping, but dreaming that we’re running around in our dream. Someone’s chasing us. We’re chasing someone else. And always—we’re the hero of our own dream. We never realize it’s a dream though—at least while we’re dreaming it. But every morning, we wake up, safe in our bed, and the dream is just… gone. Disappeared back into the mind which thought it.
And we may feel out of sorts from our dream, at least for a little while after we wake up. But once we’re awake, it’s pretty easy to accept the idea that all the people we dreamed about, everything that was important to us, the figures, the characters—everything in the dream—was just that. A creation of our mind.
That’s the entire universe.
That’s reincarnation. Whether we dream we live one lifetime or a hundred—none of them is any more real than the dream we dream, while we’re safe asleep in our beds at night. And the only way to wake up is to look straight into our dream world, and to forgive what we see—specifically because it’s not real.
That’s how we return to our true home in perfect love.

Maya, the main character, journeys through many lifetimes in Implicit. Did you have to conduct much research for the various time periods?

Even though she’s fictional, Maya’s more real than just about anyone I know. She doesn’t seem to have the ability to hold back. She’s the kind of person people are drawn to, but you might wish you hadn’t been. She’s got an irresistible spirit, which in the end, is why I called the series the ‘Spirit Invictus’–the unconquered spirit.
No matter whether she’s an unfairly fired professor, or a Roman senator fighting a doomed battle out on the Northern frontier, or she’s a 16-year-old computer genius whose unrequited love for a young revolutionary student lands her right in the middle a coup to take back power for the people of her country—she’s always the same person at her core.
The form we take appears to change in each of our dream ‘lifetimes’, but the content stays the same. And it always comes down to the same choice: Are we going to choose love and forgiveness, or are we going to stay stuck in fear, anger and revenge?
There’s a podcast by a guy named Mike Duncan. It’s the History of Rome podcast. I loved that, and I couldn’t resist incorporating it into Maya’s past lives. One of Maya’s future lives in the book bears an uncanny resemblance to a lot of what went on in the aftermath of the French revolution. And of course, there’s Maya’s lifetime as Yoshio, when she was a soldier on a remote island in World War II.

What are you working on currently?

It’s the third and final book in the Spirit Invictus series. The working title is ‘Maya’s Magic List’ (shortened to just ‘The List’). It covers the time period in Maya’s life, from the flashback she had in the last book (All These Things) when she was a little girl, and goes through to when we pick up with her in that book as a confident young college student. Here’s the blurb:

Maya’s vision lasted for an eternity. In her mind. In the world—it was over in an instant.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself alone on the floor in her room, with just an empty piece of paper and a pen sitting next to her.

The list.

A comforting spirit and a revelation beyond this world had given Maya peace after the most traumatic year of her life. Now it had gone, but she had been left with the list as a reminder of what was possible.

A magic list.

Anything she wrote down on her list that night would come true. And so she did what any girl would do. Maya filled up her list with everything she wanted in life. At first it was exciting as the things she put on her list started coming true.

But now everything’s coming true fast. And Maya’s starting to panic.
When she’d made her list, she’d filled up the end of it with things everybody knew could never happen.

Or so she thought.

The last wish threatened to change not just her life, but her entire world.
And now Maya’s in a panic to do anything she can to stop it.

Where can readers get in touch with you?

I love it when readers want to talk about the ideas, the books—and pretty much anything else. My home on the web is my website at http://MarkTiro.com, and anyone can always connect with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marcustiro .

The Bottom Line

I am so excited to have discovered Mark Tiro. It is refreshing to read stories that are well-written, original, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining, to boot!
I’m looking forward to reading more books from this talented and imaginative author. What books have you read lately that made an impact on your life?

Goodbye, 2017—It Was A Strange Year

Dawn of an Era?

As 2017 winds down, I can’t help but think about how strange it was. For me, personally and professionally, it was a year when everything got turned upside down or thrown out completely. And somehow, it all turned out to be for the better.

No Status Quo

I used to study Astrology when I was younger—mostly for fun and to satisfy my curiosity. I wonder if there was some type of weird planetary alignment this year, because it sure felt like outside forces were at work. For example, every holiday this year, my husband and I just couldn’t bear the idea of doing the same thing we’ve done for the past eight years. We went to a different restaurant for our anniversary. We didn’t host Thanksgiving. We went on a trip for my birthday instead of going out with friends and family. What felt like a comfy tradition last year now held no interest for us, and we couldn’t even explain why we felt that way.

I sold some properties I’d been wanting to dispose of for years. They went quickly, too. I had the overwhelming urge to clean out closets, cabinets, and even my garage. I made so many trips to the donation center, they know me by name. I even bought a new sofa to replace the twenty-year old leather set I had.

Serendipity Rules

As far as writing goes, I had released my three-book series, the Higher Elevation Series, in 2016, so at the beginning of the year my schedule was wide open. I had started writing the fourth book in the series, but switched to writing a contemporary romance with the idea of beginning a new series. Then I got the inspiration for my holiday novella, Running In Snow, and dropped everything to work on that so it would be out in time for the holiday season.

It worked out, and Running In Snow is doing well, but it is a case in point that even with writing, I did something spontaneous and completely out of my norm. For the past three years I had methodically worked on each book in my series, preparing to release them back to back. But this year, “methodical” went out the window!

Was 2017 an oddball year for you, too? Any Astrologers out there with some insight?
It makes me wonder just what 2018 will bring. I hope it brings you all your heart desires!