The World is a Vampire – and Some Writers Are, too

First of all, let me apologize for not blogging much lately. I am so far behind with everything. The kids started back to school on August 8th, I am desperately trying to finish book two of the Celadon Circle series – Refracted, I have at least five #bookreviews to write up, and a #newsletter that is due to go out on August 27th that I have not made a single dent in. Yeah; as usual, my plate runneth over (and not in a good way).

With all this going on I have found it difficult to even decide on a topic to blog about, but one kept coming back to me, showing itself in examples (both good and bad), and I knew I needed to “talk” about it.

I have discovered during the past few years of my writing career (yeah, it’s a stretch to call it a career, but let’s go with it) that people you can depend on come and go, even among #Indie authors. For those who have stood by me through thick and thin, I consider them my closest friends, even though most of them I have never met.

Most of my friends live in my computer in a group I admin (along with a few other peeps) called Books Untamed. This group is mostly #IndieAuthors, some #readers, and a few #bloggers. We support one another, share good news, talk each other off ledges, and learn from each other. Members come and go, especially when they learn that we don’t allow very much promotion, but the core group that started it all has basically stayed the same. They are my best friends, my second family, and I love them dearly.

I am lucky to have such a strong foundation to lean on. Some authors don’t and yes, I have been in their shoes and do know what it feels like to give, and give, and GIVE, and barely get anything in return. From the members of Books Untamed, I learned the value of “Pay It Forward,” and that is what we do – not only for each other but for other authors, as well. Still, we remember that there must be balance. Everyone must pitch in to make it work. There are some authors who love to milk the cows dry and move on. I am finding that many of these type also band together in groups. They love getting new members to share their promos and books, yet rarely give anything back.

One positive in all this is that, eventually, some members of these groups wise up. I recently had a conversation with an author who had such an experience. Week after week, I would see her promoting the authors of this group, yet rarely seen any of them reciprocating. I felt it wasn’t my place to say anything. I was once a member of the same group. Thankfully, my extent as one of their “cows” didn’t last long. I saw what was going on and (pardon my French) shagged arse. All I will say is that they used her to an extent that went beyond their norm and I am so happy that she is no longer among the vampires.

Another incident I witnessed was not surprising, seeing as how I know how this author “works” (in actuality, she doesn’t – not really), but was sad nonetheless. This particular writer loves to ride coattails. She will be your best buddy as long as she is gaining something (promotion, free services such as illustrations or editing, or POSITIVE feedback), but the moment that stops, she is off and running to the next person she can use. I noticed via Facebook that she had become chummy with the vamps and knew it was just a matter of time before she joined their clan…and she did. You see, the vamps still have plenty of members (cows) they can milk and of course, this appeals to those who ride coattails. You would think by now that “seasoned writers” would know that in order to make it in the publishing business, you have to work, and work HARD. All of this running has gotten her nowhere. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends.

Now, what does all the rambling mean? I guess my point is that, as writers, we all have the choice to decide what type we want to be. Do you want to be an author who pays it forward? Do you want to surround yourself with positive people who strive for success without compromising their principals? Or do you want to be a vampire who takes and takes and never bothers to give back? Which do you think will be more productive? I try to be the best person I can be no matter the context. I’m not perfect but I do know the value of having people share my work, and I try to return the favors. It’s only right. We all want to be successful. We all want to make a name for ourselves. The question is, what are you willing to sacrifice to make that happen? Your time? Your friends? Your morals?

It’s your choice.

 

 

No Misconceptions Here

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Recently, I was asked for an opinion on small press publishers by a fellow author looking for a company who might be interested in graphic novels. I have decided to republish this post I originally published on Oct. 31, 2013. This was right after I left my former publisher. I hope it gives some insight into what I think authors are or should be looking for in a small press publisher. :)

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Am I confused? I would have to say that I am…about some things. It has only been a few days since I made the decision to return to Indie publishing and I must admit, I expected the assumptions, rumors, and half-baked theories as to WHY I made this decision to spring up sooner. I take my hat off to those who have managed to control themselves. For those who do not know how to act like professionals, felt the need to gossip, and bored many of us to tears with your capacious yet erroneous blog posts, well…at least you managed to spell the words correctly.

I will be the first to admit that I am not versed in the field of ‘professional publishing.’ Most of what I know regarding small press and traditional publishing companies has been gained through conversations with other authors and owners of such operations. One important thing I have learned is that while publishers may have different ways of doing things, those who are honest, knowledgeable, and deserving all follow a few sacred rules.

1. They will offer assistance with marketing.
Note: I did not say that they will spend a truckload of money marketing your book nor will they focus solely on YOUR book. In the publishing world – small press and traditional – authors will always be responsible for a majority of the marketing. However, in my humble opinion, if a publisher signs you as an author after reviewing one (or more) of your books, then that must mean they think your work is worth putting their name on it. It would also lead one to believe that they would make a minimal effort to market your book in some way other than posting a few tweets on Twitter and sharing on Facebook with the small numbers on their friends list – most of which are also signed with their company or other authors. Now, color me stupid here, but I cannot comprehend the advantage of trying to sell a book to other authors. Put simply, a good publisher will try to think outside the box and, at the very least, advise their authors on a few ways to get their books out to readers and try to stay abreast of marketing techniques.

2. They will provide professional editing, formatting, and cover design if you choose not to provide your own cover art.
Professional editing means that your book should be as clean and polished as it can be. There should not be so many glaring errors that you get bad reviews or have readers/friends/authors/editors send you messages listing numerous mistakes they found while reading your book.
If a publisher offers ‘professional formatting’ for paperback copies to be sold of your book, they should be available for readers and for you to purchase for book signings, giveaways, etc. in a timely manner. A timely manner is not almost four months from the original publishing date of the book.

3. All authors signed with the publishing company are treated fairly and equally.
A few examples that just ‘popped into my head’ are:
*When a publisher sets a date for the release of a book, that date is held firm. If problems arise, they release the book as close to the original date as possible. They do not push back a release date of a book three times because they are too busy handling the affairs of authors they deem more important to their company.
*A publisher will not go on an internet radio show and announce they are working with one of their authors on an interactive project for Apple iPads centering around a new release while another of their authors is waiting for a problem with their cover art to be fixed for months. I imagine it would be a bitter pill to swallow knowing that one author is getting all this wonderful attention for their new book while you can’t even get paperback copies of your own. Just a guess there.
* If a publisher gives one author a password so they can check their sales numbers via computer anytime they like, then their other authors should be given this same opportunity instead of being left in the dark due to the fact that the publisher never informs them of this information. Most writers will agree that they do like to know the number of books they sell – even if they only get a report on this once a week or month. If their sales are poor, they can analyze the reasons why and try different tactics to increase them.

I could give many other examples on the subject of fair treatment but I don’t have all day to write this. :)

4. Small press publishers are more likely to have a small staff, and owners will almost always be directly involved with the books and authors. This means you will be important to them in a way you probably would not be at a larger publisher.
The only exception to this is when the publisher does not have the resources or staff to take care of the authors signed with them and yet they keep signing more and more. Eventually, some of their authors are pushed to the back burners and their books are not given any attention at all. Often, this contributes to poor sales, low moral and aggravation on the part of the author and, sometimes, leaving the company.

5. You do not work for the publisher, nor does the publisher work for you. This is a partnership by which you both hope to make money.
I don’t think I need to define the word partnership. When one of their authors is not doing well with sales, the publisher (once again, IN MY OPINION), should talk with the author and try to come up with ideas on how to hopefully remedy this situation or at least improve it. What they should NOT do is make up excuses and use the economy as a scapegoat. Sure, the economy is not at its best right now, but it is hard to shove this excuse down an author’s throat and expect them to swallow it over and over when other authors (some signed with other publishing companies and some Indie) are having better sales on a continuous basis. As a matter of fact, some authors may actually doubt this pitiful excuse when they continually see some of their coworkers within the publishing company getting better marketing experiences than they do.

In closing, if one is going to have a publishing company and sign authors who trust their words and contracts – authors who sign over books they worked extremely hard to write – then perhaps one should know how to run a publishing company. They should not provide sub par editing, have bare basic of knowledge of formatting and no fortitude to deal with problems in a timely manner, provide no marketing assistance at all, treat some of their authors better than others, and then get upset when an author leaves and take no responsibility for their part in that decision. They should not discuss an author’s decision to leave with others and make up lies to make themselves look innocent. Lastly, they should not sign authors to their company just to have more books on their website because they believe this makes them look bigger and more important in the publishing world. If a publisher does not like an author’s work, believe in them, nor plan to do anything with their books other than use them for ‘shelf decor’, they should be honest and let the author know that perhaps they would be better off looking for a different company.

I can only speak for myself, but I believe that authors looking for small press publishers only want to be signed IF the publisher believes in their work. I don’t think that is too much to ask. After all, why would a publisher want to sign someone they don’t believe will work out for their company? In the end, the only results gained are hurt feelings and a massive cluster**** that could have been avoided. My reasons for the decision I made are my OWN. Any words I have shared with others were weighed after careful consideration and backed by documented proof. No author should ever be put in a situation where they feel they must defend decisions they make concerning their livelihood. However, not every person handles themselves in a professional manner.

Author Spotlight on Jerrid Edgington!

Recently, I won a #freedownload of a second book in a series while participating in a book release event. The author was kind enough to also give me the first book when he discovered I had not read it. And that was how I fell head-over-heels in love with The Reaper Series by Jerrid Edgington.

Now, I know many of you are thinking that, from the title of this series and the fact that I love all things spooky, Edgington must write in the #horror or #paranormal genres. Nope! His books are actually nail-biting #dramas with #medicalsuspense and tons of thrills, twists, and unexpected turns to throw you off balance. Not my usual cup of tea, but the fact that the author used his personal experience and knowledge as a paramedic made for a very gripping read.

 

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After a life altering accident that nearly leaves Jacob Myers paralyzed, he feels his life is meant for something greater than the boring grind of an office job. Through his recovery process he comes to a decision to become an EMT. 

In the fast paced world of emergency services, Jacob makes one mistake after another. Is the stress of holding other lives in his hands just too much for him? 
Things go terribly wrong when a former patient stalks him and accuses him of sexual assault. 

Will Jacob clear his name and rid his life of this mentally unbalanced woman or will he be trapped and imprisoned for something he didn’t do? 

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Here is my review for the first book, Racing the Reaper:

I received a free copy of this book from the author after winning a copy of the second book in this series at a book release event. Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy it – not because the author is one I’ve read before or from word-of-mouth, but because I normally don’t read dramas or medical thrillers. After finishing the book, I still can’t say I’ll buy more books in those genres, but I WILL read more of Edgington’s books. Yes, I am hooked.

What I liked:

1. The Characters: They are authentic. None of that working-class hero crap. The author paints his characters with a plain brush. They are honest, genuine, and flawed, but they care.

2. The Medical Calls: You can tell Edgington knows his stuff just by the vocabulary used but the action and heart-pounding descriptions are what drew me in. Like the main character, my pulse raced and I felt like I was right there in the middle of each call, waiting to don a pair of gloves and check some vital signs. Talk about a thrill ride!

3.  The Plot: This is the ultimate story of not giving up on one’s dreams. Jacob, the main character, is thrown for every single loop there is and yet, each time, he gets back up and dusts himself off, ready to climb up on the horse again. There were times when I wanted to shake him for being so careless or jumping to conclusions but I couldn’t help but cheer him on.

What I Didn’t Like:

I did find a few editing issues in the book but do not hold them against the author. He is not an editor and is signed with a publishing company that provides the editing he receives. I’ve noticed editing mistakes seemed to be common-place with this particular company from the books I’ve read signed with them. I did mention some of the mistakes I found to the author and he thanked me for pointing them out.

I read this book in one day. I had a hard time putting it down and I can’t wait to read the second, which I plan to start right after I post this review! So happy to read a book that held my attention until the very end. Well done, Mr. Edgington!

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After being stalked by Becca in Racing the Reaper book one, paramedic, Jacob Myers moves to Idaho to find Bridgett and start a new life. Things go drastically wrong for Jacob from the moment he steps off the plane. Bridgett’s in a relationship with a handsome young doctor, someone wants to ruin Jacob’s career, and then the threats to his life begin. Can Jacob survive long enough to unravel the tangled web of deceit? 

Resuscitation, book two in the Racing the Reaper thriller series lives up to the fast paced style the author set in book one. Hold on tight for the ride of your life. 

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Here is my review for Resuscitation, book two in The Reaper series:

Holy crap! Will Jacob ever get out from up under the dark cloud that has apparently followed him from one state to another?  The hits just keep coming (literally), and the second book in Edgington’s The Reaper series will leave you breathless.

What I Liked:

1. The Characters: From the good guys to the ones you want to run over with a car, these characters are well-written and different. I really love James in this book. He is caring and a good friend. He brings balance to a cast that is a mixed bag of likes and dislikes. I must say that I wasn’t too crazy with the protagonist in this book, especially where his father was concerned. I hope he pulls his head out of a certain orifice before it’s too late.

2. The Plot: In the first book, Racing the Reaper, we have a psychotic leech who is bound and determined to lay claim on the protagonist, and goes to outlandish lengths to try and make this happen. In Resuscitation, there is a controlling doctor and a disgruntled husband of a patient and both seem to want nothing more than to place a toe-tag on Jacob. The only question is which one will get to him first? Very intense!

3. The Medical Calls: Once again, Edgington easily drew me in with the action of the medical calls. They were gritty, fast-paced, and made me want to scream at times. The book actually starts off on one such call and I just knew I would have a heart attack before it was over with. I honestly never knew what paramedics, EMT’s, and fire fighters go through on a daily basis. I will never take them for granted and have a new-found respect for them and what they do to save lives.

What I Didn’t Like:

As with the first book in this series, I found some editing issues that, in my opinion, should have been caught by the editor of the publishing company the author is signed with. However, I don’t hold these against the author. I think he did a wonderful job writing the story.

The only problem I have now is waiting until book three is released! Is it fall yet???

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I gave both of these books 5-stars. You really should read them so I am including the Amazon links for both.

Racing the Reaper (Book One in The Reaper series)

Resuscitation (Book Two in The Reaper series)

I’ve done my part, now it is up to you to click on the links above and grab these excellent books for yourself. Get to clicking!