Author Etiquette - Social Media Management: Before Your Release

by Jennifer 30. August 2017 08:47

I keep saying on this series that being an author is a lot of work. Quite a few people don’t understand that. The perception is, once a book is written, it gets published, and then people buy the book and the money rolls in. But that’s only the very basics of what happens. There’s a thousand other steps in becoming a published author. And one of those is managing your social media.

 

Most of us are very familiar with social media. We use it to connect with old school mates, co-workers, and family. But social media can connect you with even more people than just your close circle. It can connect you with people all over the world. Many of which could be potential readers. It is a tool that you can use to increase your readership, which is very important for any author.

 

But how do you manage it? Do you just blurt out your news every hour of the day? Do you set up some kind of schedule? Do you have to be online ALL DAY?

 

Well, it all depends on where you are at in your publishing schedule.

 

There are three main phases of social media management: before your story comes out, during release, and maintaining your presence after the release. While some of the steps overlap, there’s some definite differences in how you approach social media during those time.

 

Today we are going to discuss what to do before a release.

 

Getting Started

Before you have a release out, you need to make sure you have a social media presence in the first place. What this means is, you have accounts set up, you are actively using them, and you have followers. This can be a very difficult step for some authors but it helps tremendously when you are trying to promote your work.

 

First, if you do not have any social media presence at all (which I have encountered before), open up a free blog (if you don’t have a website already) and sign up for the most popular social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a few of the most popular for authors. Look up friends, family and some popular authors and friend/follow them. Join some groups. Interact with other people on the internet. This will gain you a presence in the platform you are using.

 

Next, if you haven’t already, create a professional page on Facebook. Lots of reasons to do this but some of the most important are:

  • Keeping your private and personal spaces separate

  • No limit on followers

  • The ability to promote your work without being slapped on the hand by Terms of Service issues.

Lastly, use them. Social media is useless as a tool if you are not posting and connecting with people. Post something on your blog once a week, even if it’s an update on writing progress or a photo you took with your phone. At least once a day post something on Facebook and Twitter, even it’s liking a few posts or retweeting.

 

Now that you have those setup let’s take a look at some of the things you need to do before a release.

 

Before

Every author should maintain a social media presence, even if it’s a minor one. This assists you in a variety of ways, but mostly it’s to attract attention to you. If you have no presence at all, you are fighting an uphill battle to get noticed by readers as well as publishers. And in this day and age agents and publishers look to see if you have a presence on social media channels.

 

So what do you do before your book comes out?

 

Simple. Interact with people. While you are writing the book, post about some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered. Join some groups that discuss promotion ideas. If you have other hobbies, join and interact with those as well. Go ahead and announce when you write “The End.” Grumble about edits and how you didn’t notice that HUGE plot hole the beta readers caught. Post photos of your pets or what you saw on your daily walk. Be a person, however you might define that.

 

When and if you get an acceptance, contract or representation OR decide to publish your work yourself, announce it (if you are allowed to, please read through your contract carefully!). And THANK the people who respond. Then you need to think about your game plan to help promote your book.

 

If you are self publishing your work, you, alone are responsible for promotion. If you have a publisher, they may or may not have a publicist to handle promotion. If by chance, your publisher has a publicist, talk with them to see what plans they have for your work and then …

 

Promote your work.

 

Do not depend on a publisher or publicist to promote you. They may put forth only a minimum effort. Sure, they might have connections that you don’t have and might get you spots for guest posts and interviews, but in the end, they are only going to do so much for so long. It’s up to you, to keep the ball rolling. And that means you need to have a game plan.

 

Your game plan for social media  should consist of things like content, when to promote, how often and where.

 

Content

Content is the things that will attract people to your site. It can include things like updates, press releases, cover reveals and personal posts. But this doesn’t all have to come from YOU! You can gain some excellent content by appearing as a guest on someone else’s blog, appearing on a postcast or video and answering questions in an interview. By planning ahead and putting forth a little bit of effort, you can have some great content leading up to your book release. Contact book reviewers, friends, other authors and even family to see if they’d be willing to help out.

 

When to Promote

The next thing you need to do is decide how often to promote your work. If you are a few months out, you probably don’t want to post too often about your work but as release time gets closer, you will want to pick up the pace.

 

If your work is 2-3 months out, posting once or twice a week about it keeps things fresh in your reader’s minds. But don’t just post a “BUY ME NOW” plea. Mix it up with updates on revisions, publishing deadlines, and when you’ve seen the cover. Some important things you can post about include:

  • Receiving edits

  • Returning edits

  • First peek at the cover

  • Cover reveal

  • Announcing final publishing date

As your publication date nears, you’ll want to post more often, and include links especially if you have a pre-order going on. Hopefully once you reach the during phase, one to two weeks before release date, you’ll have content in the form of guest posts, interviews and spotlights lined up to attract even more interest.

 

How Often

If your social media feed is full of “BUY ME NOW” posts twenty-four hours a day, more likely you are doing things wrong. Depending on where you are in your promotion cycle, you will have crests and troughs in how often you promote your work, but it NEVER should fill up all of your feed. If you are a few months out, posting a few times a week is about all you need to do. That can be easily scheduled on your professional Facebook page or by using a social media manager.

 

As you move towards your release date, gradually increase your promotional posts. By two weeks out, you should be posting at least once a day about your upcoming release. But you still need to keep a balance of one promotional post to ever four regular posts. Do make sure you vary your message. Don’t annoy people by privately messaging them or tagging them in promotional posts unless they have something to do with the upcoming publication.

 

Where

In social media there’s lots of places to promote your work. Do a search on Facebook for promotion and you’ll come up with a huge list of groups. Go ahead and take a peek at them and join them if you think your work will fit with the genre or theme of the group. Do read the rules and descriptions as to when it’s okay to post promotions. Many will ban you if you do not heed them.

 

You can also make good use of hastags (#) in your posts. This will help your entries show up on searches in many social media streams. You’d be surprised at how useful hastags can be.

 

Be sure to utilize your Professional Pages. Try to post new content there first then use your personal page to boost the signal.

 

You can even create character accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter or professional pages on Facebook. It is more work, but it works really great for some authors especially if they have a long running series.

 

If this seems like a lot of work, it can be but it can help you gain readers. And that’s what what promotion does. By working ahead of a release date, you’ve given readers a head’s up about upcoming releases, hopefully attracted new readers, and increased potential sales.

 

We’ll be discussing what to do during your release and after in upcoming posts so stay tuned!

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Interview with Ivan Ewert

by Jennifer 9. August 2017 09:18

Interview with Ivan Ewert, author of Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls Omnibus. Pre-order here.

Ivan Ewert was born in Chicago, Illinois, and has never wandered far afield. He has deep roots in the American Midwest, finding a sense of both belonging and terror within the endless surburban labyrinths, deep north woods, tangled city streets and boundless prairie skies. The land and the cycles of the year both speak to him and inform his writing; which revolves around the strange, the beautiful, the delicious and the unseen.

How did it feel to finish up the series finally?
To be honest, it was an unbelievable relief. Finishing every book gave me a little shot of joy, but the series as a whole was like removing a ton of bricks from my shoulders. As you mention below, some of the story elements weren’t very pleasant to dwell on – and I carried them around in my head for over ten years. My procrastination and masochism seemed to enjoy joining forces for this process.

Of course, relief’s not the only feeling, and the project was worth its weight to me. I was very proud of finishing three novels and several short stories. While there are more writers today than ever before in our history, many of whom are far more prolific than I, it still felt like a great accomplishment. My father had encouraged me to get something printed on the way to his deathbed, so there’s a great deal of emotion tied up with that as well.

The one thing I’ll certainly miss is an excuse to work directly with Apocalypse Ink Productions. Nothing I’ve done would have seen the light of day without their encouragement, professionalism, and understanding.

 

Where did Gordon and the Ghouls come from? (Inspiration)
Gordon’s got a lot of me in him. Probably more than was wise, but I started this series when I was young and (more) foolish. I wanted my protagonist to suffer from self-doubt, especially after he unknowingly takes part in such a terrible act, rather than the kind of cocky swagger so many of my protagonists have manifested. Making him Catholic let me reflect that great snowballing guilt – from one sin to another, and with little means of confessing to anyone who would listen after all he has done.

The origin of the Ghouls themselves is in the little towns that dot the Illinois prairie. Towns like Mahomet, Lick Creek, Kinmundy... all these tiny places that seem wrapped up in something older and more terrible than a rail stop, a bar and a lone crossroads. I pass through them driving south to Georgia, or west to the Quad Cities, and I can’t help but cast them with terrible secrets.

On top of that, there’s my sense that America has been devouring itself for centuries. The constant, rapacious hunger of the American character turns itself inward and perverts its original drive. Making the Ghouls some of the first inhabitants let me play with that idea.

 

How did you choose your settings?
Google Maps. I mean, I started in Madison, Wisconsin because I’m very familiar with it and its surroundings; but after than I had to locate places that were far enough off the grid that a group like the Ghouls could actually function without too many questions being asked by neighbors.

You would not believe the trouble I went to in The Commons to find Carol’s house. I’ve still got it pinned to my personal maps, with notes on where the cul-de-sacs end, which forests are where, the location of fast food establishments. It’s a really remarkable tool, though it’s no substitute for actually being there.

In terms of broad geographical settings, I only intended to tell the story of The Farm at first, in the region I’ve lived all my life, the one I know best. When I was asked to expand New England, the South and the West were the most obvious divisions across America, the different tribes at war. Moreso now than before, but regardless.

 

What's your writing process?
It’s what you’d call scattershot. I don’t (yet) have a standard time of day to sit down to write or revise – so I write when I have some time to myself, and plenty of time in the day. Solitude is important, I’m not a coffeehouse writer, partly because I know too many people in town. Every time I’ve tried it, I run into a friend, and writing time turns into catching up. Which is lovely, in its way, but not conducive to finished product. By the same token, when my family’s in the house, I feel like I should be present for them rather than sequestering myself in a writing den. So it’s mostly early mornings or evenings after dinner when everyone has a movie to watch.

I typically turn on music and attack the next chapter in order of appearance. I can’t write jumping from chapter to chapter or scene to scene, things get too chaotic and the connecting scenes take much more work to re-write if I don’t get them down organically. Sometimes something in the future will come to me, and in that case I try to write it down and stick it in a different file, then paste it in for edits later. For the most part, though, it’s always 1-2-3-4-etc.

I’ve become a planner rather than a pantser. I want to know what needs to happen in every chapter before I sit down to write them, to construct at least a skeleton. In short fiction that’s less true – I’m happy to be surprised in those cases – but for long form novels I need to know.

 

How did you handle revisions?
I print out the entire work and read it through, line by line, usually tracing it with a red pen. I’ll mark the document up that way, then fix the work in the computer. That’s mostly just for typos and minor edits.

After that I print up a second copy which I read, aloud, on my own. That lets me catch any awkward dialogue, runs of my beloved alliteration or too much poetry in the prose for this work’s taste. While I’m doing that I will mark up areas that need to be stronger, sharper, or entirely rewritten. Then it’s back to the computer to do that work.

After that it goes to beta readers. I immediately fix any additional typos or grammatical issues, and file away any comments on things they don’t understand or disagree with. Once everyone’s comments are in, I look for common threads and attack those first, then go through individual commentary to see if I understand or agree with their issues.

After all of that is set, it’s off to Apocalypse Ink’s editor for the final go-round. I’ve been fortunate in that most revisions at that stage have been relatively minor, and relatively agreeable to me.

 

You didn't flinch at some of the story elements, how did that make you feel?
The technical term is “squicky.” The final scenes of the trilogy were very, very difficult to write and keep my head on straight – not to mention keeping my appetite. Gordon’s experience in the Pen, his solitary anguish in the north woods, the perimeter around Carol’s house, probably more. All of these were difficult to push through, and required me to recognize the darkness I carry around. I work hard to repress that darkness in my everyday life, so in some ways, fiction is a nice release valve. On the other hand, I’ve kept myself up nights after writing some scenes.

It’s a curious thing, writing horror, when you identify more with the innocent victims than the “interesting” killers. I’ve always felt more pity for those in trouble than excitement around their plight. I never had the fascination some do with serial killers or mass murder. I’ve never watched Dexter, Hannibal... I’ve never even watched Silence of the Lambs, which seems strange when I say it aloud, but it’s the truth. I’m not a fan of watching horror. I enjoy reading it, but seeing it visually creates more of an issue for me; and when I write I have to see the images in my mind. So it causes a certain amount of queasiness.

 

Do you think there are more Gordon stories out there?
I know there’s at least one: The Chainfields lay in the Southeast, the final bastion of the Gentleman Ghouls.

However, I’ve grown a great deal since initially coming up with that concept and that name, and I’m now keenly aware that I am not the person to tell that story. Even if I were, it’s a story that hardly needs to be retold and recast, particularly at this stage of history.

While my wife and her family are from the region, I’ve got no ties to it aside from them. My family has always been north of the Mason-Dixon line, and as such we only have the ties to slavery that all Americans everywhere must carry. It’s not something I can expunge with a horror novel, and I’m not about to try anytime soon.

 

What's next?
I’m working on a young adult urban fantasy which should be lighter in tone than Famished: The Gentleman Ghouls. One of the neighborhood kids has been asking why he can’t read my stuff, so I promised him something he’d be able to read. It would be nice to have something my wife and mother could read as well!

Aside from that, I’m also working on monologues to be delivered live. I’ve performed in a number of one-man shows and truly enjoyed them, and would really love to be able to present my own work onstage one day. So I’m studying people like Spaulding Grey and Mike Daisey, working to see how they transformed their own experiences into spoken word. Of course, they’ve had more interesting lives. No matter. Just means I have to work at spicing things up a bit.

 

 

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Interview with Wendy Hammer

by Jennifer 2. August 2017 09:50

Today we have a quick talk with author Wendy Hammer about The Cross Cutting Trilogy.

Wendy Hammer lives in Indiana with her husband, a collection of books, and a stockpile of tea. Her fiction has appeared in Urban Fantasy Magazine, Evil Girlfriend Media Shorts, the Shapeshifter Chronicles, and elsewhere online. You can find her trying to keep it reasonably weird on twitter as @Wendyhammer13.

 

How does it feel to write "The End" on the series?
Pretty awesome, actually. Though I loved writing the characters, I’m really pleased I got the chance to finish the main storyline and tie the three novellas together. The challenge of making each novella both a full story on its own and a part of a larger arc was one of the most interesting and daunting aspects of this project. I learned a lot from it and that feels good.

 

How did you develop your characters?
I tend to develop characters by daydreaming. I walk or drive or sit around and think. Sometimes I chew on questions. Sometimes I look for images or music for inspiration. The Cross Cutting trilogy began by thinking about city-based magic. Who would wield it? What would happen if they didn’t have a territory they’d bonded to? I started to play with locations and an image of Trinidad took form. I first imagined her on the walking trail in Indianapolis with her knife in her pocket, ready to hunt down some monsters. After that, I needed to fill in her world. I looked for balances—complements and opposites.

Fireman Dan started from a memory from my college days. Iris was inspired by a picture I found during an image search for pink hair and tattoos. I liked the idea of Trinidad’s romantic interest being soft-spoken and sensitive despite looking fierce and formidable. I originally envisioned Ache with electric blue Liberty Spikes, but that didn’t last long. The daydreaming trial and error process is all part of the fun.

 

What was your initial inspiration?
I’ve always had a soft spot for the “making camp” sections in quest stories or games, and one of my favorite parts of that is when magic users set wards, people stand guard, and all that. It’s a cool bit of magic and has the potential for both danger and juicy character interactions. So, I guess the interest in location magic has been roiling about in my story-brain for ages.

The inspiration moment happened while I was walking around downtown Indy around GenCon and I saw a group of crime scene vans parked along the path. I knew then I wanted to write a story featuring those vans and figured what better foe than a protagonist most comfortable with her feet on the ground?

 

Why choose Indianapolis/Lafayette as your setting?
I picked Indianapolis for two reasons. First, the vans and the path I’d been walking felt like the best match for the story and I liked the immediacy of the experience. Second, I wanted to write an Urban Fantasy set outside of one of the genre’s mainstay locations.

I wanted to move the primary location to the Lafayette area in part because I live there and I know it better. But, really, I picked it because it has so many liminal spaces and contradictions. Lafayette/West Lafayette are joined but distinct. It’s urban and rural, industrial and agricultural, farm and factory. It’s also a college town. Purdue University is this delightful mix of scientists, engineers, and creators. It has a huge population of international students and they help transform the community in all sorts of exciting ways.

Lafayette felt like a solid choice for my found family of characters to live. And it’s my way of saying that even in one of those states many may only see in the red mass on a map, we’re here.

 

What happens when your editor says "Do more x" on revisions?
Most of the time, I’m happy to get confirmation that something wasn’t quite right and I see what needs to be done right away. I can brainstorm, rework, push, and pare back because I have a better idea of where the story’s weakness is. When it isn’t quite as obvious I reread the whole story. I think about what I was trying to do and take a look at how the pieces fit together. I try to see how deep the problem goes. I plan as best as I can and then leap on in. Sometimes I nail it. Sometimes I need another pass or two.

 

What was the best part about writing The Cross Cutting Trilogy?
It’s hard to choose, but I think it comes down to the satisfaction of getting the pieces to come together. The Cross Cutting title is partly a play on “cutting cross” or taking a short cut (appropriate for a Walker), a nod to the cut between worlds, and a reference to a filmmaking technique that interweaves separate scenes. Taking this journey with these characters, managing two points of view, and creating monsters and menaces that could work both independently and as part of a larger threat was wonderful.

 

What was the hardest?
Aside from learning some hard lessons about managing deadlines with work and life stress—I’d say one of the most difficult was appropriately handling the voice of the characters. The trilogy is basically written in a fairly close third. It’s my sweet spot most of the time because you can have some distance but still weave in lots of flavor in the narrative language outside of dialogue. At the same time, what can make prose vibrant runs the risk of falling into overkill or just sounding off. Trinidad is Caribbean and Irish—she’s a fighter, a POC, and not an American. Ache is a man, a musician and a body builder. Trying to see the world through their eyes and find language that reflects it meant a lot of research, a lot of open tabs for specialized dictionaries and websites, and a lot of conversation. It didn’t always make for speedy writing, but it was certainly rewarding.

 

What's next?
I’ve got a handful of short stories I’m working on, but my primary focus is a novel. It’s my first secondary world fantasy—with heists, magic, performing arts, rogue healers, and a whole lot of buried secrets threatening to rise up and turn everything upside down. I’m both terrified and exhilarated—which feels just about right.

 

 

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Author Etiquette - There Are No Shortcuts in Publishing

by Jennifer 26. July 2017 15:01

Today we are going to talk about something the more experienced writers already know; however, there’s a lot of new authors out there who desperately need to hear this.

 

There’s no F’n shortcuts in publishing.

There’s no magic formula for writing a bestseller. No easy way to make it to the top of the list. There’s a lot of work, time and effort involved in creating GOOD stories.

 

And there are however a lot of people trying to scam you out of your hard-earned money.

 

Take for instance, a publisher that guarantees your book will be accepted and placed in bookstores across the nation, for the low price of a few thousand bucks.

 

Or the Fiverr “editor” who does a few simple find and replace of a few things, has it back to you in just a few hours, then tells you that your work is ready for publication.

 

Or the “How I Earned $40K On One Book” instruction manual that someone put up on Amazon. Sure you bought it for $100, but it’s filled with stuff you can find on the internet for free.

 

Or the “graphic designer” who charged $50 for a book cover, that either doesn’t look right now that you’ve inserted it into (insert self pub venue here) or you discover it’s an exact copy of someone else’s cover.

 

Or … You get the picture right?

 

But it isn’t just publishers, editors, and artists that scam people. There’s a lot of authors who run scams out there too.

 

Like the author who copies someone else’s book, does a few find and replace name swaps and some minor plot changes then tosses it up on (insert self pub venue.)

 

Or the ones who use click farms to increase their page reads.

 

Or the authors who fill the first few pages with a somewhat decent story then you discover what amounts to cats sitting on keyboards.

 

Or the authors who give presentations on how to do X (usually something to do with publishing), but it’s really just a 30 minute pitch to buy their book.

 

And so on and so forth.

 

News flash. Publishing is work, and if you are going to succeed, you need to accept there’s no fast way to get to the top.

 

There are a few authors who seem very successful from the very start. They get lots of professional sales seemingly right off the bat, but what you don’t know is they’ve been writing stories for nearly twenty years, or have studied creative writing for the past ten. Or that they’ve got a stack of rejections and false starts taller than a house. They just hadn’t been published in some of the higher ranking publications before.

 

A vast majority of the writers out there start at the very bottom with poor grammar, purple prose, and wandering verb tenses. They have cardboard characters and the stories they write are probably very similar to the first few that you’ve written. And they too probably thought that what they wrote was excellent, and worthy of publication. But if you ask any of them now, they’d probably cringe and tell you that those stories sucked. And they probably do.

 

Becoming an author is a process. It’s a lot of learning, research, self-reflection, doubt and, hopefully at some point or another, success. It’s not something that you can learn out of a book in just a few days. It’s also not something that’s going to make you loads of cash right off the bat. It’s a series of growth spurts—sometimes quite painful—that pushes you forward with each story, critique, professional edit, and class and helps make you someone that writes something other people would like to read.

 

And I admit, it’s scary and long and hard and complicated. Having your work torn apart by a better writer is heart-wrenching. Seeing the flaws in your grammar, characters, and plot structures can be disheartening. Knowing that you are probably going to have to completely rewrite a story that you love, because it stinks, can put out the creative fire in even the most hearty soul.

 

But your next piece will be better for all of that. The story itself stronger. The characters more relatable to your readers. There are things that even the newest writer out there can do to help make them more successful.

 

Learn the Rules of Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.

This really should be a no brainer, but it is. Even if you did poorly in school, it doesn’t give you an excuse not to learn how to use words, how to spell them, and to use proper punctuation. Start with the simple stuff like basic noun-verb sentences and build up from there. Learn when to use commas, periods and exclamation points. Spell-check can be your friend, but it can also cause you to use the wrong word. Some great places to assist you are Purdue OWL, Butte.edu Tipsheet, and other sites.

 

Get a Thick Skin.

Publishing, especially at first, is round after round of rejection. It’s not personal when an editor turns down your story. It’s not personal when a beta reader or editor finds a dozen plot holes in your novel. It’s not personal when a reader only gets through the first few chapters before putting a book down, saying “It’s not for me.” Have a few tears if you really need to, but either resubmit that story to another market, or write something better. Don’t sit around moping because those rejections, critiques and reviews are there to help you become better.

 

Research - Get Used to It.

You may not want to spend hours or even weeks researching particular elements of your story or novel but for accuracy’s sake you had probably resign yourself to the fact that details are important. And if you are writing certain genres, those details can be very, very important. Editors will point out inconsistencies and so will readers. You really don’t want to be on the wrong end of readers picking apart your story because of either science or historical details that can easily be found out with a bit of research.

 

Not only that, but you have to research markets, editors, publishers and even contracts. Don’t ever take anyone at their word, even if it’s your best buddy. Remember that the only person who can protect you and your work IS you. Make sure that any publishers you consider submitting to are legit. Check the credentials of an editor that you hire. Short story markets open and close regularly so be sure to read the guidelines. If you want to take a class, be sure that lecturer is someone you want to learn from and has professional credits to their name.

 

Always Remember Yog’s Law.

Money should always flow to the writer (Yog’s Law.) Except for instances where you contract out work such as cover creation, editing and formatting (mostly for self publishing), publishers should always give the author money. If a publisher asks for money to cover printing, distribution and publicity costs, DO NOT SIGN WITH THEM. This is a common scam, even if they are offering the moon on a silver platter. Many an author has spent thousands of dollars on a book and received only minimal if any returns.

 

No One Owes You Anything.

You have to make your own way in the publishing world. Sure you might be besties with award-winning authors and editors, but it doesn’t mean you can use that as leverage. Unless said author personally urges you to submit to their publisher or agent, it’s a big faux-pas to use Big Author’s Name for favors. This includes getting other people to read your work, trying to elbow your way into projects, or getting people to grant you special favors. If you work hard and are polite, people will begin to notice you on their own for your own merits. This creates much stronger friendships which could lead to open doors later on.

 

I know this is a let down to newer authors, but it is the truth. Becoming an author takes time, effort and sometimes money (as in taking classes). It’s not something that happens overnight. For most authors it takes years.

 

So be patient, don’t take shortcuts, and learn all you can, because it will make you a much better writer in the end.

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The Cross Cutting Trilogy Cover Reveal and Pre-Order Link

by Jennifer 12. July 2017 09:44

The Cross Cutting Trilogy by Wendy Hammer will be released on 15 August 2017.

Pre-order on Amazon.

This gritty urban fantasy by Wendy Hammer is an omnibus of three novellas: The Thin, The Hollow, and The Marrow, and features two new short stories.

The Thin: Strange vans roam the streets as people go missing or turn up dead. The city can’t fight the monsters alone. Trinidad O’Laughlin is a guardian looking for a territory to bond with and protect. Indiana’s distress call may give her a chance at one—if she can survive long enough to take it.

The Hollow: Ache Vetrov is clairvoyant and a caretaker of secrets and lost things. When a mysterious wave of violence threatens to overwhelm the city of Lafayette, Ache begins to investigate. He and Trinidad O’Laughlin uncover creatures with concave faces devoid of feeling or mercy. Ache, Trinidad, and their friends must hold strong if they hope to find a way to stop the monstrous invasion before it erases everything.

The Marrow: Trinidad O’Laughlin has people to love and a city to watch over. Lafayette has become a true home. Her newfound peace is shattered when another cut opens in her territory and unleashes the malevolent force behind the previous invasions. Trinidad and her friends must defeat it before the whole world falls to its hunger.

 

 

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Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls Cover Reveal and Pre-Order Link

by Jennifer 12. July 2017 09:38

Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls by Ivan Ewert will be released on 15 August 2017.

Pre-order on Amazon.


Hunger.
It’s the driving force behind survival.


The Velander bloodline carries an ancient secret: power and immortality. But that power requires a key to unlock: human flesh. Gordon Velander finds himself an unwilling participant in a play for survival - but he won’t be powerless for long.


It’s the driving force behind passion.


The Gentleman Ghouls have survived for centuries due to cunning and careful planning but their world in unraveling. Gordon has vowed to take the Ghouls down no matter what, but he’s fighting a war—both within and without. The Ghouls, on the other hand, are not waiting patiently for the end to come.


It’s the driving force behind revenge.


With the Farm and the Commons destroyed, the Ranch is the last outpost of the Ghouls. With the bitter end in sight, Gordon must face his greatest challenge yet—claiming his own fate as other forces make their moves.


Revenge is sweet.
Passion is fulfilling.
But survival trump all.


This rural horror omnibus of cannibals, dark pacts, and ancient power by Ivan Ewert contains three novels: Famished: The Farm, Famished: The Commons, and Famished: The Ranch, and features two new short stories.

 

 

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Author Etiquette - How to Take an Extended Break

by Jennifer 29. June 2017 07:28

Welcome back to Apocalypse Ink Products. It’s summer and you know what that means: VACATIONS! Time to take some time to relax and have some fun.

 

Yeah right.

 

If you are like many authors, you’ve figured out that the work on creating books and stories never ends. There’s the thinking up part of our creative endeavours. Then there’s the writing part. Followed by the editing and wanting to torch the whole thing phase. If you think you are finished you don’t know much about publishing. Next up is the submission phase and all of those nervous habits tend to come out and play. If you get accepted great! If not, then lather rinse repeat that submission phase until either you get accepted somewhere, decide to self-publish or trunk that puppy.

 

Oh and hey, if you do get accepted, awesome! But then you might have a few (or a hundred more edits) before your story or book is ready for reading. Except, unless you put on a publicist hat, no one’s going to know you have books out. And then here comes the mad rush to get interviews, guest posts and reviews along with pleas to purchase the book.

 

And that’s just if your work is published by a legitimate publishing company (large or small.) For those of you who self publish, you need to add in cover art, design, formatting and proofing.

 

Some of this happens quite slowly, at times over the course of a year or more. But other times, this is a fast paced bullet train that takes just a few months.

 

And it doesn’t even include book signings, online events, conventions and guest speaking engagements.

 

No wonder some authors get tired, sometimes feel as though they are burnt out, and get writer’s block. They never take time to rest. And that’s not good.

 

Even the most steadfast of authors realize they’ve got to take a break. Mostly because it’s for their own well being. Creative wells run dry. Exhaustion and it’s many complications can put you at risk. Sometimes you have to take a break because of outside matters.

 

Breaks can be short or long, depending on the circumstances. A short break is easier to deal with. A day, two or even a week, can help an author feel refreshed and ready to hit the word mines again.

 

But what happens when an extended break is necessary?

 

That’s where things get a little more complicated.  

 

There’s an unspoken belief that taking time off can have a devastating effect on their income. If they are not actively writing, editing, and promoting themselves, their name and books can fall in sales. And it’s kind of true. Newer authors and authors with indie presses often feel as though they are rolling a boulder up a hill in order to get their name “out there.” As they become more well known, the boulder seems to get smalleror maybe it’s just that they are getting stronger. But a break, especially a long one, can find them back at the bottom with an even heavier burden.

 

So what do you do if you find you need a long break, but still want to keep your name out there?

 

First, take a look at how long of a break you are going to take. A week? A month? Longer?

 

If you are able to plan how long you are taking a break, you can alert friends, family and fans that you will be either gone entirely from the internet or will have limited access for a time. Plan things to do that have nothing to do with writing, promoting, or editing. Go experience life outside the writing cave. For a lot of people, this can revitalize their creative well and give them a much better outlook on what they are doing.

 

Next, decided if you are going “cold turkey” on book related things or are you going to be working a little bit. Prioritize what HAS to be done against what you’d like to do.

 

Say you are on a deadline, and the novel you are writing is due in 6 weeks, but you feel yourself stretched too thin. Drop the social media, the interviews, the promotion and finish the book. DO NOTHING ELSE. On the other hand, if you don’t have something pressing. Dropping off the face of the earth (not really) for a couple of weeks or month can be very refreshing.

 

Third, see if anyone can take over some duties, automate your promotion, or hire someone to take a load off.

 

If you really need a break, but find you just can’t let go of some of the duties, figure out a way to do them until you get back. Give someone admin rights to your professional page so that updates can be posted regularly. Use a social media manager program to automate promotional posts. Even better, hire someone to take over some of the duties you must have done while you are gone.

 

No matter how long you decide to be gone, it’s a good thing to notify your close friends, family, and professional contacts such as your editor and your publisher, that you will be gone for a little bit. This way, if something important comes up, they will either know how to contact you or will be able to handle things until you get back. A quick note on your website or professional pages will alert fans that you are unable to respond but will get back when you can. But don’t put out personal information such as where you’ll be, or if you will be gone from home. A quick note saying you are deep in the writing cave and unable to respond until project x is complete is fine.

 

Taking a break is necessary for everyone. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are weak or irresponsible for wanting to just drop everything and walk away. Everyone feels like that on occasion. Realize that breaks are healthy, especially for creatives who tend to overload themselves with various activities easily.

 

Take care of yourselves out there. Have some fun. Then, when your vacation’s over, get back to work refreshed and revived.

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Author Etiquette - Social Media: Whats, Whys, and Hows

by Jennifer 30. May 2017 12:11

Welcome back to another edition of Author Etiquette.

 

No one ever said being an author is easy. On the production side you need to come up with stories, edit them to the best of your abilities, cringe at what your beta readers tell you, edit again, and then try to find a publisher. If that isn’t enough, most authors have to gain the attention of readers in a way that will lead to sales and reviews.

 

While in person author-reader connections are awesome (and should never ever be discounted), a great deal of author-reader connections are online, namely social media. Social media are online platforms that people use to connect with each other. They can have a variety of features or be very simple. The most common are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. There’s also other platforms out there. Some are video based, some photo based, discussion based and so on and so forth.

 

The main reason for people to use these social media platforms is connection with people. Who hasn’t felt alone even in the middle of a crowd? Who would like to talk with people who share the same interests? Social media provides people with a way to connect with the gaming community, other writers and readers.

 

The Whats

As said above, social media platforms are used to connect with people, but each has it’s own way of doing things.

 

Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world. It allows people to post photos, carry on discussions, announce events and create business pages. By using professional pages, using your promotion wisely and growing a fanbase, many authors find Facebook to be a very useful tool.

 

Twitter is probably the second most used platform used by authors. Unlike FB, all posts are limited to 140 characters. This greatly limits (and challenges) the user. Ideas and discussions are possible, although it’s often broken up into several posts.

 

Instagram is a photo sharing platform. While you can manage Instagram on your computer, the program is optimized for phone and tablet use. Photos taken with smart devices can be directly posted and then sent to other platforms for sharing.

 

Pinterest is another image sharing program. Unlike Instagram, Pinterest allows you to post images (including photos and scanned or created images) to your account and place them on different walls. Authors sometimes use the pins for character or setting creation, research, or finding a great recipe for chocolate cake.

 

Lastly, Tumblr is another platform that like Facebook and Twitter, allow users to post ideas and brief discussions along with photos. Unlike the other two, Tumblr users often post short segments of what they are doing. It’s not uncommon for an artist or author to share a segment of what they are working on currently. It’s also a great place for a short serial.

 

The Whys

So now that you know a little about some of the social media platforms, next is reasons to use them. Some authors cry foul at being asked to promote their books. After all, they are too busy writing right? In this day and age, even large publishing companies require authors to do a certain amount of promotion.

 

Social media is an inexpensive, fairly easy way to promote your work. Most platforms offer free accounts. They provide a platform for your work. Many also give you the opportunity to run ads so that you can reach more people. You don’t have to go anywhere in particular to use the platforms—your only requirement is access to the internet. And, for some people this is really important, you don’t have to actually socialize.

 

Social media also allows you to find people who are interested in your work. Not everyone is able to go to conventions or able to make a trip to a bookstore across the country for a signing. Your book might not even be available in a brick and mortar store, which lessens the chance of people finding you. However, on social media, a user can run a search on space opera, or vampires or steampunk, and—if you’ve set up your pages right—find you.


That reason right there is worth the sometimes annoyance of having a social media account.

 

The Hows

Now that you know a little about some of the social media platforms and why they are useful, we now need to move to the how to use it category. Each social media platform has different rules. To learn them, either find a quick guide or look at other people’s feeds and see how they are using it. Pay attention to the professionals in your field. If they state that some behavior is inappropriate, LISTEN.

 

While you may be eager to promote your book, don’t be in a hurry. Spamming, or posting mostly “BUY ME” posts, isn’t going to help move your books—most people will simply block you. The best thing for your promotional plan is to be you. What this means is post about your pets, interesting articles you’ve found, and ideas you want to share. Post only a promo once every 5-7 posts or 2-3 times a week.

 

Why? It’s simple. People are not on social media for advertisements. They are on those platforms to connect with people. They want to like you. Your books are just a bonus.

 

If you are new to social media, find one platform that you think you’d like to try. Make an account. Find people you know and begin gathering friends. Join some groups. Participate in discussions. Be you for a while before you start promoting. If you’d like, join a few other platforms and see if they fit you. You do not have to join everything (although it’s occasionally useful) or be active on every account.

 

I hope that you’ve found some insight on social media in this post. Remember that the most important thing is to be you, have fun, and don’t hurt other people.

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Author Etiquette - Professional Writer Organizations

by Jennifer 27. April 2017 08:39

Welcome authors, editors, and other publishing professionals to another Author Etiquette.

Beginning authors often concern themselves with putting their stories on the page, but as they grow and network, hopefully they begin to learn there’s more out there than just a bunch of writers struggling on their own.

Writer groups abound. You can find them online and even in your own home town. Some are simply loosely grouped people with the common goal of writing. But others are chapters of higher level organizations with rules, regulations and a hopeful roadmap that leads to the future.

Today, we are going to look at professional writer organizations, what they are and what they represent as well as how you can join them.

What is a Professional Writer Organization?

Professional Writer Organizations are groups that have clearly defined rules and regulations and are there to help authors of all types. They can be large or small and cater to a narrow band of authors or have a very general appeal. Many professional writer organization organize under the rules of not-for-profit status. This means that they have to follow a set of strict guidelines to keep their business license and follow certain guidelines.These guidelines provide the basic structure for organization, governance, and growth.

One of the most important guidelines of these organizations is to protect the interests of the profession (which would be writing), further the interests of those involved (authors) and connect with the public on behalf of the profession. This means that the goals of the organization is to promote conditions which is beneficial to authors, publishers, and to our readers.

They are often run by a governing body that can consist of boards and officers. While the governing body does make many decisions, they must still follow the rules and regulations, and the collective will of the membership. To become a member you must fill out an application and usually pay some sort of fee. Those fees then go into different services that help authors.

What does a Professional Writer Organization Do?

As said above, a Professional Writer Organization promotes conditions which is beneficial to authors, publishers and readers, but what does that mean?

Depending on the organization, a Professional Writer Organization can have many different responsibilities. Some promote a standard of pay for professional grade publications. Some provide educational opportunities. Still others provide guidelines for contracts. An organization can provide some or all of these and perhaps many more services to its members.

No matter the size of the organization they all provide a few basic things. First is a way for members to network. Being a member of a Professional Writer Organization opens up the opportunity to speak with other members, either through forums, emails, or face-to-face meetings at yearly events. This can allow authors to find mentors, get advice, and even coordinate on new projects. Networking usually helps increase exposure for your work. It can also open up opportunities that you might not otherwise have.

Another thing a Professional Writer Organization does is provide education. Education can be as simple as a column in the newsletter or it can be as complex as a week long seminar. The topics can range from publicity to contract negotiations. Organizations can even arrange online workshops for their members, or have specific speakers during conferences. Educational opportunities strengthen the membership and help promote better conditions for all authors, even if they are outside the organization.

And lastly, Professional Writer Organizations offer warnings about publishing gone wrong, and can help authors resolve issues. I’m sure that all of you have heard horror stories about authors who were trapped in contracts that were exploitive, or publishers who didn’t pay. These predatory practices harm all authors. Many Professional Writer Organizations have clear guidelines on the standards of qualifying markets. Those standards can include pay rates and other standards such as on time payment. If problems arise, then issues can be brought up for mediation, maybe saving both sides from lawsuits.

Oh, I almost forgot. What organizations would be complete without awards?  Many Professional Writer Organizations organize and coordinate some sort of award. Some are limited to members, but others people outside the organization can win. Watch for information throughout the year as the award cycles don’t always correspond to a certain time frame such as the beginning of the year.

How can You Join a Professional Writer Organization?

Depending on the organization you want to join, it could be as simple as filling out an application and paying your fees, or as difficult as proving you earned $X in the previous year on your writing. Different organizations have different guidelines on who can join. And almost always, there’s a fee involved.

 

Many Professional Writer Organizations have different levels of membership. The full members (sometimes called Active Members) are usually those who have met all of the qualifying criteria. It could be a number of short story sales to professional publications or that you sold your novel to a qualifying market. Some limit full membership to only professional markets while others welcome self published and indie market sales.

 

Other levels include Affiliate and Industry members. These are often members who have a professional involvement with authors. Affiliate members include publishers, editors, illustrators, and publicists. Industry membership covers libraries, schools, and film organizations. Often these members have less privileges than full members.

 

Most organizations also welcome family members and have special rates for seniors. For those who have served the organization for a number of years, lifetime memberships are also granted.

 

Professional Writer Organizations are essential to the world of publishing. Without them, professional standards of publication would not be possible. They provide the structure for much of our current market and push for improvements. They allow members to network and provide warnings if necessary. They educate not only authors but the public as well on many matters that face authors and publishers. They welcome a variety of industry professionals into their membership so that a wide range of ideas can be found.

 

If you would like to know more about some of these organizations, please feel free to look at the links below.

And there’s many many more.

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THE MARROW has been released!

by Jennifer 18. April 2017 09:01

Apocalypse Ink Productions | Amazon
DriveThruFiction | Barnes&Noble

Trinidad O’Laughlin has left her Nowherian days behind. She’s got people to love and a city to watch over. Lafayette has become a true home and she’s discovering how brilliant that is for her particular sort of magic.

Her newfound peace is shattered when a third cut opens in her territory and unleashes The Marrow. The malevolent force behind the previous invasions has ambitions to feed. Trinidad and her friends must defeat it before the whole world falls to its hunger.

At the same time, an ancient power is stirring, attracted to what Trinidad has been doing. She needs to figure out what it is and if it is an ally… or yet another enemy.

The Marrow is the exciting conclusion to the Cross Cutting trilogy by Wendy Hammer.

 

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