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Blog – Page 3 – Darby Rae

Seven Deadly Sins of Self-published Authors

The list below contains common editing and marketing mistakes made by self-published authors.  It could also be called “The Biggest Mistakes I Made or Almost Made.”  Self-published authors have the onerous task of writing, editing and marketing their books.  From a business perspective, we are the Production/Operations department, the Sales/Marketing Department and of course the Finance Department.  Few entrepreneurs can bring all that to the table, and as a self-published author, you are most definitely an entrepreneur.

SIN ONE:  Unrealistic expectations of revenue and expenses.

-The cliché it takes money to make money remains true with self-publishing.  The list of expenses you receive from self-publishing companies is a good start.  However, even if it includes some promotional items such as business cards and mailers, there is so much more to promoting your book.  Take a look at my May and August calendar.  Every event costs money, in one way or another…tent, tablecloth, give-aways, marketing to promote the event, new outfit… it all adds up.

SIN TWO:  Editing your own manuscript or having a “friend” do it for you.

-Punctuation issues, grammar errors, tense jumps and POV shifts are distracting to a reader.  You and your mom may think your novel is ready for print, but if you haven’t had it professionally edited, you’re wrong.  I thank my publicist for not letting me make this mistake!

SIN THREE:  Having a lousy website or no website at all.

-For self-published authors, your website is likely the stop your potential readers make before buying your book.  A lousy website is as bad or worse than no website at all.  It is a reflection of you as an artist.  Would you take a fitness class from an out of shape aerobics instructor?  Connect the dots.  If the image on your website isn’t one of a professional writer, get back to the drawing board.  Or better yet, hire a professional.  I’m an author, not a web designer or a marketing guru.  So I hired an expert in Marketing, Collective Alternative, and had them develop a site that would reflect my image and promote my book…and future books.  Visit my website and see how they did.

SIN FOUR:  Winging your book’s marketing and promotion.

-For many authors, marketing is the big black hole because we don’t know what we don’t know.  Should you promote your book using traditional marketing or social media?  What are some easy or inexpensive ways to start?  Consult a writer’s guide, like this one.  Even traditionally published authors are doing a lot of marketing these days.

SIN FIVE:  Spinning your wheels in the Social Media circuit.

-I was the over-achiever in this particular sin until I saw a post that summed up what I was doing wrong, Twelve Twitter Mistakes You Should Avoid.  If you are going to use social media, there is a myriad of information on how to do it right—and how to do it wrong.  Invest a few dollars in doing it right.  I bought Twitter Dummy from the website above and went from 22 followers to almost 200 in less than two weeks.

SIN SIX:  Information overload.

-When you are asked about your book, do you oblige by giving the never-ending answer leaving your listener with bleeding ears and no desire to ask a follow-up question?  Consider consulting The “Secret” Formula for Creating a Short Synopsis for Your Book by Mike Wells.

SIN SEVEN:  Not enough time or energy left to promote your book once it is completed.

-Have a plan.  Gain some knowledge.  Be prepared to invest time, energy and finances in the success of your book.  If you are waiting around to be discovered, it will be a long wait.

Twitter is for Twerps

I’m not interested in up to date Tweets regarding where people are eating lunch or who was mad at their friend…and why…nor do I believe anyone would want to know the same about me.  But my agent insisted I be a part of Twitter.  (She reminds me occasionally, I’ve hired her to tell me what to do).  So she set up my account and said, “Tweet.”

Well, perhaps she gave more helpful instructions—and perhaps I wasn’t wearing my listening ears.  So after a couple months of scattered unproductive tweeting—mostly posting links to my blogs and upcoming appearances—I was ready for a change.  As luck would have it, the perfect Tweet appeared!  (One thing I did right was follow some great people.)  Admittedly, I was guilty of a half of these mistakes, but my number one issue: lack of clarity.

John states in his intro, “…That’s why you need to have your end goal in mind…(to) stay focused and on point and not get sucked into wasting unproductive hours on Twitter.”  His words were spot on.  Twitter is about relationships: give-and-take.  You have to decide (1) What you want to know (2) Who you want to know it from (3) What you want to share (4) and Who you wish to share it with.

Once I clarified my goals, it was time to learn the ‘how.’  Unwilling to waste time (again) figuring it out, I sought more expert advice from John Aguiar (  His guide teaches everything from setting up your Twitter account, to finding followers, to making money with Twitter.  I’m 1/3 through it, and it’s awesome!

Twitter is for Twerps.  That’s what I used to think before I had direct access to industry gurus…and before people I never knew began to follow me.

Is Your Point of View Flawed?

When my saintly editor sent her first edits of Merciful Law to me, there had to be thousands of corrections.  Bless her heart!  (And I mean that sincerely, not the way Southerners use the phrase bless her heart… “Bless her heart, she’s just the worst cook within 100 miles.”  Or, “Bless her heart, she isn’t as smart at a twig.”).  My editor, bless her heart, was St. Patience, the patron saint of writers who forgot how to punctuate a sentence containing dialogue and who jump from past to present tense three of four times in one page.  (Did you notice—I just jumped tenses!).  St. Patience also corrected countless typos and some awkward wording, but in over 500 pages edited she only noted three times “POV shift.”

Remarkably, POV was something I successfully executed (mostly) without knowing what the heck a POV was.  St. Patience answered my email asking her to explain POV.  She said I changed my “point of view.”  In a few scenes I inserted Emmet’s “point of view” when I had been speaking from Annie’s “point of view.”

“Point of view” refers to the source of the narrator’s voice in a novel.  There are several options (amazingly, I stuck with just one—unlike my tense shifting).  Novel Publishing does a great job explaining each.

Merciful Law actually had three voices, Annie’s, Lawrence’s and I won’t tell you the third—you’ll have to read it to find out!  So here’s the question of the day:  In what POV was Merciful Law written?  First Person POV, Limited Third Person POV or Multiple Third Person POV and why?  The first correct answer wins a free download of Merciful Law!

Need Some e-Help!

So…along with being less than proficient with technology, I also have commitment issues with technology.  Why?  Because it changes so quickly!  By the time I figure out what to buy, buy it and learn how to use it…a better, faster, easier to use, etc…one is released.  So this is one area in life I just want someone (technically savvy) to tell me what to do.  What advice do you have for me and others like me out there who need help with their e-reader purchase?

If you are one of the countless e-reader user/owners, tell us what you have and why you would (or wouldn’t) recommend it?  Would you make the same purchase today?  Below are some of the features and functions this Consumer Reports video talks about.

What features are important to you?  Here are the ones I think are important to me:

Must be easy (for ME) to use.

Must be able to read outdoors in bright sun (would that be e-ink vs. LCD?)

Must be able to connect easily to the internet without additional expense.

Must be able to download books easily and from a variety of locations.

Would be nice to share e-books.

Would be nice to check out library books.

Not sure about battery life, screen size and page turning…is there that much difference?

Not sure what else could be important…color?

The online comparisons seem to favor the Kindle, but one-on-one conversations I have favor the Nook.  What advice do you have for all the ‘non-e-reader owners?’  If you were buying an e-reader this weekend…what would you buy?

And of course your first download should be Merciful Law!   (Had to get a plug in there!)

Excited to be a part of the Indianapolis Book Festival!

Take a look at their Facebook page to find out more info on the event.  Looking forward to it!

My Dragon Ate My Blog!

Last October (after frying my Blackberry when I was in England), I bought a Droid 2.  When I showed it to my oldest son, he remarked, “Mom, you’re not qualified to own that.  Do you know what that phone can do?”  I gave him a dismissive wave and swore I would learn how to use my phone myself.  I also vowed to be more proactive in learning and using technology, which seems to advance in dog years.

In January I bought the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen.  I use it as a digital recorder when I‘m in the car, but the Smartpen records what I hear and write when I’m at conferences or meetings.  The recorder, which looks like a fat pen, integrates the notes I take with the audio (recording).  Its functionality also makes sharing easy enough that I can do it.  After months of use, I collected hours of recordings.  So, the next obvious addition to my technology toolbox was a transcription accessory.

For my birthday in May, I bought myself the Dragon, a sassy piece of software that does more than just transcribe.  It will create emails, documents and spreadsheets simply by speaking.  I can literally control my laptop with the Dragon (with a little more training).  Proudly, I report, I went through the initial tutorial in its entirety before using my new gizmo.  Then I dictated my Father’s Day blog and commanded the Dragon to move the text (blog) to an email.  That’s when he ate my blog.

Pride has kept me from asking one of my teens for help in coaxing the Dragon to release my blog from his clutches.  After all, Father’s Day has passed, and I have nearly a year for the beast to burp up my blog.  With a little more training, I’m confident the Dragon and I will have a productive coexistence.

Check out the Smartpen and the Dragon but if you are able to train your Dragon before I train mine…no fair bragging about it.

It’s getting hot…time for a good book and a pool!

One of my favorite summer past-times, sitting next to a pool reading a good book! There’s lots of good books coming out this summer, but one I know for sure is Merciful Law! Get your copy…and go enjoy the sun!

Congratulations to Tammy Hornek!

Tammy Hornek is the winner of the Barnes & Noble Nook Electronic Reader! Thank you, Tammy, for participating and congratulations! Enjoy!

Merciful Law is in New York without me

While I am in Indiana this week winding down the school year with my teens—helping them with finals and final projects, my book is experiencing the excitement of New York City without me at The Book Expo America (BEA) Conference.  Doesn’t seem fair.

I’m sharing my days with our house of teens and creatures—reptiles, dog, cat and now a ferret—and my book is in the company of John Lithgow, Julianne Moore, Roger Ebert and a host of other writing celebrities.  Seems I may have to plan better for the 2012 Expo and join in the fun with my next literary creation (that would be Killer Coordinates).

Even though Merciful Law is hundreds of miles away I am certainly excited it is a featured title in the New Title Showcase.  The entire showcase of authors ranges from previously published authors to newly published authors, best-selling to first-time/up-and-coming authors and represents a full spectrum of topic areas.  Also attending the event are publishers, librarians, domestic and international buyers and of course, avid readers.

Next year’s event is June 5th through June 7th.  I will hire a house sitter for my little house of creatures.  “I want to wake up in that city that never sleeps…New York, New York!”

The Weekend Sloth

Last Monday my teens wrangled me into adopting a charming and energetic ‘free ferret’ from the pet store…complete with food, cage and toys.  They begged, pleaded and promised; I denied.  They pledged; I vetoed.  They appealed and negotiated; I hesitated, then firmly counter negotiated.  They agreed to my five non-negotiable terms, each signed in permanent black marker, and voila…newest member of the family: Nixon the ferret.

This past weekend, however, I was not energetic like our new family member, Nixon.  I was a sloth, the world’s slowest moving mammal, moving only when necessary; perfect description of me this weekend.  They move 6 to 12 feet per minute, depending on the species.  I moved 6 to 12 feet per minute depending if I was entering or exiting a restaurant (12 fpm for entering…6 fpm for exiting).  Saturday was Ruby Tuesday’s all you can eat soup and salad (nothing that begins with ‘all you can eat’ is good for me, by the way).  Sunday was Bob Evan’s country fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, country green beans…oh yes.

My omnivore diet varies from the sloth’s herbivore diet, but I am certain more similarities exist.  As much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth’s body-weight consists of the contents of its stomach, and the digestive process can take a month or more to complete.  So much for bathing suit weather…maybe I should create my own “Sloth-line Swimwear,” a tad catchier than the tank-ini.

Sloths rarely come down from their tree; I barely came down from my room.  Sloths can sleep up to 18 hours a day and I can read and write for easily that long.  I caught up on some emails, read a few blogs, and did some research for Killer Coordinates (my next novel).  But in the spirit of total relaxation and rejuvenation, I read fiction most of the weekend.

Anybody else rejuvenate sloth style last weekend?…anyone?…anyone?…just me?