Cover Reveal: The Blood Mage

Today is the day everyone! So without further ado, please bask in the glory that is the cover of The Blood Mage. And make sure to scroll to the end for details on how to get a sneak peek and additional launch information!

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Official Launch Date for The Blood Mage is July 18, 2017!

But you can preorder for Kindle NOW!

Annnd if you’re interested in receiving a sneak peek of The Blood Mage, sign up for my newsletter because I’ll be sending out a link next week containing the prologue and first chapter!

Thanks to Fiona Jayde Media for her stunning design and all the work on the cover. I hope you all enjoy!

❤ Aimee

Sales: Months 3&4

Okay, I’m throwing these up quickly because I promised them in my last newsletter (sign up for that, pretty please?). I’ve been super busy with shiny new thing syndrome (pretty sure I lifted that phrase from my editor, so consider this a citation to Katie McCoach) and trying to get ready for the launch of The Blood Mage (it’s coming up so fast!)

Anyway, things to look out for on the blog in the next couple of weeks:

  1. Why I Write YA (spoiler: it’s because I have a lot of things to say to my past self)
  2. COVER and LAUNCH DATE reveal for The Blood Mage (oh yeah, get pumped)
  3. Why I’m looking into hybrid author options and maybe a look into my new WIP (work in progress)
  4. Meet the author (random fun facts about me because it’s been heavy around here lately!)

Now, without further ado, some depressing sales numbers for February and March. Remember that post I wrote about failure? #Relevant.

Sales Period: January 30, 2017 through March 31, 2017

Vendor: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (Kindle)

Copies sold: 6

Territories sold: United States (6)

Royalties: 13.70 USD

Vendor: iTunes Connect (iBooks)

Copies sold: 2

Territories sold: United States (2)

Royalties: 5.60 USD

Vendor: CreateSpace (Paperback)

Copies sold: 2

Territories sold: United States (2)

Royalties: 2.32 USD (fun fact, I did actually get a direct deposit for that amount, where’s the crying so hard I’m laughing emoji?)

Vendor: Personal Sales (Paperback)

Copies sold: 3

Territories sold: United States (3)

Royalties: 15.48 USD

Total Copies sold in months three and four: 13

Territories Sold: United States (13)

Royalties: 37.10 USD

Total combined copies (since launch): 83 (still haven’t broken my 100 book goal, anyone want to help a girl out?)

Territories sold: United States (81), Denmark (1), UK (1)

Total Royalties: 207.41 USD, 2.18 EUR, 1.85 GBP

Moral of the story… this is hard y’all.

Hope everyone has a great rest of their week, and I hope to bring you more upbeat news soon!

❤ Aimee

Self v. Traditional Publishing: It’s Not a Rivalry

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I saw this ^^ meme making the rounds on Twitter recently. It was being shared mostly by writers who are querying for traditional publishing deals or are working toward one.

The comments that went along with it were worse. And in the interest of honesty, because that’s what I do here, I’ll go ahead and tell y’all I cried.

I’m not usually a crier. It’s fine if you are, but I’m not. I was a bit surprised at my reaction, but I was having a particularly difficult day. My sales have been almost zero (I’ll be posting them in early April for those who may have wondered), I’d just returned from a workshop I was supposed to be leading that no one showed up to after putting in my fifth day in a row of working 17+ hours, and I was emotionally exhausted. So I cried. Then I wrote a blog post on failure (well into hour 21 of working) and put the puffin and Twitter out of my mind to get a few hours sleep and start again.

I really didn’t think I was going to come back to the puffin, but… well, here I am.

I know I talk about this sometimes ad nauseum, but I have a traditional publishing education. If you were to look at my Twitter feed, you’d probably think I was a traditionally published author (or aspiring to be one). Most of the books I read are written by traditional authors as are most of the people I follow. The seminar I just attended in Tennessee was full of those on the traditional track (I actually think I was the only self-published author there). And yes, there were a few hurtful jokes made that I chuckled off because at the end of the day I get it.

In some ways, I used to be right there with the people sharing tongue-in-cheek jabs at self-published authors on Twitter. I came into this with bias, and I still have it (hence my TBR pile). But sharing memes like the one above on social media does literally nothing except hurt people who are chasing a dream exactly the same as yours.

Let me repeat that. Writers looking for traditional publishing deals want the same thing as writers considering self-publishing: to have their words read.

Some of us want to be able to make enough money to write full-time (I fall into this category), some of us want a movie deal, some of us want to see our books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, some of us just want to throw our heart onto the page and maybe have some friends and family read it. What we want changes in shade but not color because all of these things share the same base–people reading our books.

And just like in every career, there are multiple ways to achieve the same goal. 

Now, I don’t know of any self-published authors who have big movie deals (if you do, please do share!), so if the shade of your desire is Hollywood, yeah, you should probably query and get an agent and go the traditional route. But if you just want to throw a book out there to say you’ve done this thing, then there’s no reason you need to query for years and sit around waiting to see if a Big Five Press will take your book. And guess what? There are variations of all kinds in between. Maybe you want an indie press because you’re not interested in New York. Maybe you want to be one of the successful big name self-published authors. Maybe you want to be a hybrid author who does a little bit of Big Five and a little bit of self-publishing. Cool. Every single one of these is a legitimate path. But there is absolutely no reason to trash a path you chose against. That. Shit. Is. Personal.

There is garbage in the self-publishing world. I’ve read it. There is garbage in traditional publishing. I’ve read that too. There are gems in self-publishing (I happen to think I’ve created one, but judge for yourself). And there are gems in traditional. And there’s stuff that’s “meh” in both too. There’s stuff for me and stuff for you. There’s four stars and two.

Okay, now that I sound a little bit like Dr. Seuss, moving along.

This industry is hard. Traditional publishing has challenges self-publishing does not and vice versa. We all fail. I’m failing right now. The uncertainty is scary, and sometimes, when we’re uncertain, it helps us bolster our own decisions by tearing others down. It’s easy, I think, to say, “Well at least my work isn’t so bad that no publishing house would have me!” Ahahaha.

Fact: I did not query. Not one single time. I chose this. My decision to self-publish has literally nothing to do with the quality of my work and has everything to do with my desire to have complete creative control because I was sick of having mental illness and addiction and trauma take my voice away. I wasn’t about to hand it over to a Big Five press after I’d struggled to regain it. The fact that my book doesn’t have Penguin Random House on the inside cover doesn’t mean that Penguin Random House “wouldn’t have me” and to say so is to show your own ignorance about what goes on in the self-publishing world.

Don’t be ignorant. It’s okay to listen. It’s okay to come to a conclusion that traditional publishing has its flaws and self-publishing has its flaws and there are reasons to do or not to do either without having to de-legitimize the other. I know we live in a very “this side or that side” kind of time, but how someone chooses to go about getting his/her/their books into the hands of readers really doesn’t have to be that kind of issue. I promise.

So please, don’t let your fears trample my dream.

On Failure

I learned how to fail at this gig a long time ago.

When I was eighteen, the University of North Carolina sent me a letter encouraging me to apply for its coveted Thomas Wolfe Scholarship. They’d seen my accomplishments in some writing competition or other and thought I’d be an ideal candidate. The application process was (in my opinion) more rigorous than applying for admission to the University. It required a fifty page prose packet and additional letters of recommendation. I agonized over my submission. UNC was my dream school. It was the only university I applied to; it was the only-thing-I-ever-wanted. Worse, I’d convinced myself that because they specifically asked me to apply, this scholarship was all but in the bag.

It wasn’t.

The rejection letter came in an envelope with the University’s famous Old Well logo on the front. I ripped it open, sure of my imminent success (in those days, I was still a big fish in a little pond, and I was always successful). As my eyes scanned the paper, my heart fell into my stomach. My chest tightened. My hands trembled. They didn’t want me.

I was inconsolable. I screamed and raged like a toddler. I threw fists and spat hurtful words. My father and I got into a terrible argument. I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to curl up and die, and I was sure I would, the rejection hurt that badly. I was a terrible writer. He didn’t understand. Look, there was a letter here to prove how awful I was at this thing-I-wanted-more-than-anything. I was nothing. My dream was dead. I would never write another word.

Little did I know, but that would be the first of many kicks Carolina would deliver to me over my three years as a student in their creative writing program.

If life has taught me anything, it’s that when you get kicked, you get back up, with a snarl and bleeding fingers if you have to. But you keep fighting.

Writing this, I’m torn between a chuckle and a wince. It sounds melodramatic, and truly, it was, but it hurt too. It tore at my foundation, shredded my already fragile self-worth. For someone who has been through as much trauma as I have, you’d think I’d have been tougher. But I wasn’t. Not about this. I lost a lot of innocence too young, but this was the one thing I’d managed to keep pure. This was the one Truth I thought I knew. I was the best writer. It was the only thing I was sure about. When it turned out to be just another lie, it felt like the last of what I thought I was had been stripped away.

One of my ex boyfriends used to call me his “tiger.” He said I was a fighter. He was too. It was the thing that held us together. We were both good at getting back up. Call it stubbornness or stupidity or maybe both. Whatever it is, it’s ingrained deep.

That day was no exception. I got up. I kept writing. I was accepted to Carolina. And when I got in, I realized you weren’t allowed to enter the writing program until your sophomore year. One of my roommates managed to find a way into the screenwriting track early, however–second semester freshman year. That felt like a kick, too. But it hurt less than the one before. And I got up and entered the fiction track my sophomore year.

The first day of class, my professor told the room full of eager students that if anyone would be happy doing something other than writing, they should do that, and there was the door. Four people walked out of that class. I didn’t. This was still my dream, and if I wasn’t the best, I would break myself and rebuild until I was. Fighter’s instincts.

My first piece was a fantasy short. My professor liked it but advised me that writing fantasy wouldn’t help me move forward in the program (when I was at Carolina, you had to apply for a spot at every level of the program, and the spots were limited). Another kick. I gritted my teeth and adapted. I started to write literary fiction. This was still my dream.

I applied for the second level of the program and was accepted. I met the Wolfe Scholar. She was both kind and talented, and somehow, that felt like another kick. I got up. Because this was still my dream.

Every critique I received from my peers and my professors felt like a kick, too. We were clumsy and competitive. We knew there were limited spots available, and we coveted them. We fought for them. Me more than some, maybe more than most. I was eager to fight, to prove myself tough enough. Every time I was kicked, I got back up, heart bleeding. I pushed through it, honing my armor as I honed my craft. And I failed and fell and stumbled and sometimes succeeded. And every kick hurt less and less, until getting up became easier and easier.

I made mistakes (most notably getting into a political argument with Stuart Dybek at a bar. For the record, I had no idea what I was talking about). Sometimes, my competitive edge got the best of me, and I fought those who only wanted friendship. Sometimes, I was more tiger than human, and my teeth were sharp. It’s a knife’s edge that’s hard for me to walk. Sometimes, I don’t know when to stop fighting.

Still, through that program, I learned perhaps the most important lesson you can teach an aspiring writer–how to fail.

So last night, when I arrived at a library where I was supposed to be giving a writing workshop to teens on how to craft a story, and no one showed up, I was pleased to find the armor I’d crafted years ago was still in place.

Don’t get me wrong. It still hurts. Armor only serves you until you take it off, and years of therapy have taught me that I do have to take it off eventually. But at least in public, I was able to maintain my composure, and the armor blunted the worst of the blow, so when I did later remove it, I was able to keep some semblance of control.

Failing is part of this life. It’s probably the reason that professor in my first writing class offered the door. She was trying to present a kindness to those who saw a different way. We all fail. Traditional and self-published both. In big ways and small. We are rejected from writing programs and literary agencies. Our writing is torn up by editors and reviewers. Our books flop. Our series are cancelled. We face walls of silence and empty rooms.

But we don’t talk about it much. And when we do, it’s after we’re already safe. It’s when we’ve already attained a measure of success. We don’t discuss the empty rooms when we’re facing one, but only when we’re standing before a packed house. We remember our failure fondly, with a different eye. We talk about our happily ever afters, and our hero’s journey arcs, and that’s okay, but it’s not the only Truth.

Someday, I hope to tell that triumphant story, but right now, I can only tell the story I know, and that is the one of an uncertain ending and an empty room. It’s a story about learning to fail, about getting kicked, and feeling lost and helpless and worst of all–silenced. But it’s a story of triumph too, even if it doesn’t have a happily ever after tied to the end.

Because in this story, I still get up.

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On Professional Headshots

Y’all might have noticed I don’t have photographs of myself anywhere on my website. If you check out my author Facebook page, my Twitter, my Instagram, you won’t find them either. I hate photographs of myself. I always have. I imagine I probably always will.

But conventional wisdom says professional head shots are a part of this industry, so I finally caved to said wisdom and had head shots done. I figured I can no longer hide behind anonymity, especially with my second book coming out. I guess I’m really doing this.

Now, as I have mentioned before, I have PTSD. One of the symptoms of my particular brand of PTSD is that I have difficulty being touched, especially by strangers. Because of this, I haven’t had a haircut in three years. So last weekend, I bit the bullet and started with this small step.

Three hours of being touched even by a stranger with the best intentions (making me look like I actually care about myself), was emotionally exhausting, but I felt better having done it. Look at me! I declared to the world. I’m doing a thing! My therapist will be so proud.

Still, I knew better than to try and rush it, so I scheduled the hair appointment a full week before the photo shoot, that way I didn’t have to do everything in one shot. Turns out, this was a great strategy for my sometimes fragile nerves.

The morning of the shoot, I had my hair blown out (forty-five minutes of touching) and my makeup done by a professional (another hour of unwanted but necessary stranger touching and this was especially anxiety inducing because it was close up). By the time I arrived at the studio, I was already exhausted.

Here’s the good thing about photographers, however: they’re artists too and a lot of them choose the side of the camera they’re on for a reason. I was happy to have a sympathetic ear to the plight that is, “Why is this a thing for authors?” Seriously though, can someone answer this for me? Why is this a thing for authors? Does what I look like truly matter?

Buuut, a sympathetic ear couldn’t save me from the studio or the camera. In addition to a tactile issue, I also have difficulty making eye contact. As it turns out, this difficulty extends to looking into a camera. Bless Krista’s soul for patiently repeating 7,000 times to look at the camera (honestly, I had no idea I wasn’t, it’s just a thing I do!).

Another fun fact about doing a professional photo shoot for those who might not have been through it yet: it’s not as easy as it may seem. I used to think the models who did this were just naturally pretty (and they are) but there’s more to it than just looking pretty. A lot of the body positioning is subtle and somewhat awkward feeling. It involves muscles many of us don’t frequently activate, which confuses the body (or at least it did mine). In addition, most of the poses are counter intuitive. You want me to turn my chin down to avoid making it look like I have a double chin? I’m supposed to angle my shoulder in an awkward way to make it look natural? Huh? For a clumsy, awkward, shy girl who is already emotionally exhausted, a lot of things that seemed basic enough felt massively complicated. In short, I will never make comment on how modeling must be so easy ever again.

Which leads me to my point… for me, it was totally worth it to have a professional do these photos. Krista (website here) was sympathetic, kind, easy to work with, patient, knowledgeable and most importantly, talented. When she sent me the proofs later that evening (how about that for turnaround time, right?) it was like receiving my cover art for The Wheel Mages all over again. I got that tingly feeling and a stupid grin on my face. Not because I am enamored with myself (I still am not my own biggest fan), but because these photos said “Author” in the same way seeing my name on the front of a book cover for the first time did. Plus, we artists all need to support each other, right?

Okay, so without further ado… tada! A real life picture of me.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

❤ Aimee

 

 

How a Trilogy Becomes More

Author’s Note: I’m sending out my very first newsletter this week and it has exciting NEWS in it, so if you’re interested, sign up here

At the end of last month (where is time going?), my second manuscript was sent to my editor. I wrote about it (briefly). When I sent it, it was 131,000 words, which is loooong. But I ran out of places to cut words and time to do it in so sent it with fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I was in the middle of a serious argument with the third book in my trilogy. My characters did not want to cooperate with my plan. At all.

All of this, combined with a lot of other things going on in my life, including frustrating book sales, led me to overwhelm which led me to stasis. Something to know about me: When I get overwhelmed, I freeze. I didn’t want to abandon my series, because this is my dream, but I also felt the familiar sensation of losing my way creeping in.

Fortunately, I have a good editor who wasted no time in pulling me off the cliff. Although, I’ll be honest, I was a bit nervous when I received the email from her enclosing her critique. Katie and I have a great relationship, and I trust her, but something about seeing, “You’ll see that I do make a big recommendation that could change a few things” in an email from your editor can really make your heart rate spike.

Of course, my brain started to go into overdrive as I ran through worst case scenarios such as: she hates my new protagonist (who is a character I’ve been developing for approximately… forever); there’s a gaping plot hole I’m not going to know how to fix; the prose is terrible; the whole thing needs rewritten. All fixable, yes, but not pleasant. I should clarify, none of these were the case, either.

What I wasn’t expecting was a suggestion to expand the trilogy because well… the book is too long but parts need a bit more development and there’s nowhere to find 30,000 extra words. As Katie put it, “The story and characters have begged you to.”

My first thought was: Why didn’t I think of that? Why did that not ever seem like an option?

It’s funny how strict you can be with yourself, how solid an idea can be before it’s even formed. In my head, my series was always a trilogy. That’s just how it was. Period. As I’ve said before, I’m not a plotter, so how that one idea became so solid, I’m not 100% sure, but it was. Three books. No more, no less.

I called an emergency “meeting” with a couple of my most trusted beta readers. Frantically, I spelled out to them via Facebook messenger what my editor was proposing. Then I sat back, wincing as I waited.

Here’s something else you should know: My betas are the best people I know, but they can be a tough audience. That’s what makes them good (and my friends). I expected some kind of resistance from them especially because expanding a series is done frequently in fantasy and sometimes it’s not done all that well. They know that. I know that. I expected them to remind me of that.

Surprisingly, they didn’t. “I like it,” said one.

Hm… I thought, then winced again and decided to poke the sleeping bear. “This would help me fix the problems with book three that were making me want to throw the book out the window. I guess I was just dead set on a trilogy.”

The three dots on the message screen blinked, and my stomach flipped somersaults as I tried my best not to grind my teeth down to nothing. “Trilogies are so passe. Ten million books plus ten novellas are so hip right now.”

I burst out laughing. Just when you think you know what to expect, people throw you a curve ball. Which is, of course, exactly what my characters did to me too, sneaky bastards (and I mean that term literally in at least one case if you’ve read book one).

With my betas on board, I decided it was possible to discuss this thing with my editor. So after taking a night to sleep on her critique to digest what her suggestions would look like, I sent her a sprawling, long-winded email that concluded by addressing the elephant in the room: fantasy series that are expanded poorly.

Everyone who reads this blog knows my policy on not tearing down any specific works by any specific author, and I’m not about to break that now. Instead, I’ll say that sometimes authors expand series because they’re popular, and their readers want them to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should. This shows in the writing. The books start to drag or get redundant or the characters no longer seem to be on an arc but more of a flat line path. No one is developing. In short, the writing loses its spark.

This is sort of my biggest fear when it comes to a series. I want my series to reflect the arc in my own writing. Book two should be (and in my extremely biased opinion, is) better than book one. Book three should be better than book two, etc. You’re growing as a writer, and your characters should grow with you. That’s organic. That’s (dare I say it) art.

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of fantasy series have more than three books and are absolutely lovely. Obviously, the most famous fantasy series in the history of the world consists of seven books, and they’re all stellar.

That said, there are plenty of series that could have stopped at book two or even book one and been fine. And I couldn’t quite get my professors at UNC out of my head as I started to contemplate a possible expansion. The famous “six-word novel” hung heavy on my heart. For those who don’t know it, it is as follows:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

It’s often mistakenly attributed to Hemingway, but there were stories like this before Hemingway. It’s true author appears to be unknown.

The point remains the same, however. Less is more. This was always an extremely difficult concept for me to grasp, and though I believe I’ve gotten much better at it, I probably won’t be writing any six-word stories any time soon.

Still, those extra words nagged at me. I could see the possibility on the horizon. I wanted those words. The strength with which I wanted them made me shove through the fear and the self-doubt and dare to imagine what this series could look like if I had the room to really open up and let my characters do what they want instead of constantly fighting me.

Ultimately, the decision to expand was born through a combination of that desire and my editor’s sage advice: “Overall, listen to the characters and the story, and don’t worry about trying to fit it in a certain number of books.”

Now, I might not be able to write a six-word novel, but that is something I can do.

Here we go y’all.

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Valentine’s Day and News

Okay! So… I finally did it y’all. I finally made a newsletter… well… sort of. I made a mailing list, which you can sign up for by clicking on the link to the right of your screen where I joyfully declare I have done a thing. Or you can click here.

We’ll see. I’m still not convinced on the newsletter thing, but I recently had a discussion with a beta reader who told me she does in fact read author newsletters, so I bit the bullet and did it. I’m hoping to send them monthly, and I won’t sell your information and all that good SEC stuff here.

Now, the information that would go in a February newsletter but didn’t because I didn’t create such a thing until today is as follows:

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, people! In honor of the holiday and in honor of my first in I don’t know how long Valentine’s Day single, I will be teasing the new novel all day tomorrow in 140 characters or less. That’s right everyone, #TheBloodMage is going to be rocking it on Twitter. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you can find me @writingwaimee or click here. I’m allll about the links today.

Of course there will be gooey goodness, and the hashtag for the day will be #TheBloodMage. It’s not only about amorous affections though, there will be some other kinds of love on display as well, and I promise it will be spoiler free.

As a preview, here’s one of the fun ones I pulled yesterday that didn’t make the 140 character cutoff but was too good to ignore. This is about one of the new lead’s love affair with the loveliest of all full-bodied flavors—wine.

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Writing Workshop in Reading, PA – My workshop which was originally going to be in mid-February was rearranged, so it will now be happening on March 22nd with details to come (in the new newsletter so go ahead and sign up for that if you want to meet me live and in the flesh, because I’m not going to tell you where it is except in the newsletter!)

The Blood Mage – Comes back from the editor sometime today. In case you couldn’t tell, by all the links and the rambling, I’m a bit nervous. We’ll see how it goes!

And that’s a wrap! Happy V-Day everyone, and make sure to click on some of my fancy new links!

❤ Aimee

 

For Book Bloggers: How to Entice an Author

As you all might remember, I’m in the process of querying for reviews. This is a long and ongoing process, but during it, I’ve come to realize something quite interesting: book bloggers and authors have a lot more in common than one might suspect.

The relationship between book blogger/reviewer and author should be a symbiotic one. From an author’s point of view, the book blogger is a valuable marketing tool who can open the book up to different audiences the author hasn’t been able to reach yet (especially in the case of us debut, indie authors). From the book blogger’s point of view (book bloggers, correct me if I’m wrong), the author is offering a free product the blogger enjoys (hopefully). The relationship also works both ways in that the author is pitching to the blogger, but the blogger is also pitching to the author.

A brief Google search tells me there are as many articles out there about how to develop a good book blog as there are how to market your book to book bloggers. What I didn’t see, though, was talk about this from the author’s perspective. My guess is this might be because it’s sort of faux pas for an author to discuss what she’s looking for in a book blog, but I try to be real here, so I’m going to go ahead and do that, and hopefully, we can learn some things together.

Okay, so for new writers who are reading this who aren’t reviewers, let me set this up very briefly: The author/publisher solicits to book bloggers via query asking the blogger to review the book. If the blogger accepts, the book is provided free of charge in whatever format the blogger desires and the blogger reviews it based on his/her review policy.

The part of this equation I want to hone in on is the part before the query—the part where the author/publisher searches for the book blog to query. This is the part I think book bloggers (especially those who are trying to develop their blogs) might be interested in. Because, just like you choose which queries to accept, we authors choose which bloggers to query to in the first place.

So… you as a book blogger want to attract authors to your blog, IG, etc.? Fantastic. I’m going to share with you the things I look for when choosing which blogs to query.

1. Review Policies – Have one, and make it readily accessible. A review policy is the very first thing I check on any book blog. The reason for this is because there are some bloggers who won’t accept indie authors. If you don’t want to solicit to us indies, that’s totally fine. I understand why you’re not interested, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings, but if you don’t take indies, go ahead and put that right up front. It saves me time and effort, and I very much appreciate it. If you do accept self-published books and authors, make sure to put that in there, too. Also, if you’re not currently accepting requests, please put that in your review policy (and keep it up to date). I keep a list of bloggers to check back with periodically, so I won’t forget you. No need to take on more than you can handle. It sours the experience, and I want you to love reading my book!

Review policies are both our friends. They make everything simple for both parties, and I’ll make sure to follow your policy to the letter. As an aside, I think you’re completely right for rejecting someone who doesn’t, and if I fail to, shame on me.

2. About – The “About Me” section of a book blog is the second thing I check. I personalize every query I write, and I want to know a little bit about you so I can figure out if my work is in your wheelhouse. I don’t want to waste your time (or mine). If you say you’ll read anything, but you actually like mystery, you’re either not going to like my book or you’re not going to read it. There are so many books out there, there’s no need for you to waste your time reading books you don’t like. Tell me what you enjoy. This is important from the author side too, because every book I send out costs me money, so I want to make sure every book goes into the hands of someone who at least enjoys the genre.

In addition to knowing what books you like to read, I also want to know about you—how old are you, where are you from, what are some of your hobbies? I want to learn a little bit about you so I can determine if my work will speak to you. An author who’s doing her homework will do her very best to make sure she presents you with something that’s enjoyable to you. You’re special, and a query should make you feel that way, so give me some material to work with.

3. The Website – I have, at this point, looked through literally hundreds of book blogs. I’ve queried to 22. I strike a lot of blogs at this stage, but because this is the most variable, I can’t really speak to what all authors/publishers are looking for in terms of website. I can, however, speak to what I’m looking for.

  • Links that work. This is important. If I click on a tab that’s supposed to take me to reviews, and I get a page unknown error, I will strike the blog. If I can’t get to your reviews, how are other people supposed to get to them and read about my book?
  • A clean and simple design. I am not a website designer (obviously), so I try not to make too many judgments, but I do like clean sites. If the website is jumbled and confusing or has too many tabs or topics, I will usually pass. Remember, this isn’t only a book I’m trying to sell, it’s a brand, and I want to associate it with clean, simple, accessible, professional.
  • Followers/Social Media Links. The amount of followers you have on your blog is not a deal breaker for me, but if you’re trying to solicit big names (especially publishers), it will be. Don’t despair, there are indie authors (like me) and authors from smaller presses who are willing to grow with you. That said, if you have a bookish Instagram or a Twitter or a Facebook or a Snap-it (sorry, was my disdain for Snapchat coming through there?) absolutely link it to your blog. I check that, too, and if you’re willing to share my work over more platforms than your blog, that’s a HUGE bonus to me.
    • I should probably note, too, that number of followers isn’t the only important thing, I also look at the number of people who are engaging with your posts in the form of comments and likes. Like I said, not a deal breaker for me either way, but I want to add it because if I’m noticing that, it would be a wise bet to assume publishers and agents and marketing professionals are noticing it too.

4. The Reviews – Are you surprised to find these so far down my list? Yeah, interesting that, isn’t it? Okay, so if your blog has made it this far, it’s time for me to really sit down and delve into things.

First, let me put this right out front: I do not expect a five star review from anyone, but I do expect my work to be treated with respect. If I see you trashing other authors from here to Venus, no matter how much I may agree with you, I will not query you. Plain and simple: Every time you trash an author there’s another author reading it and thinking, “That could be my book.” I’ve read this same advice given from very successful book bloggers to new bloggers, and I couldn’t agree with it more. Listen to the people who are doing it well. They’re right. This industry means we have to have thick skins, but we’re still people, and we’ve put a lot of time and energy and money into these books. When we send you a book, we’re not sending you a $10 lump of paper or a $3.99 chunk of internet ether, we’re sending you a piece of our souls, thousands of hours of time and, in the case of indie authors, thousands upon thousands of dollars of our own hard-earned cash. It matters to us, especially to those of us who are new to the industry. Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows how much I care about honesty in all things, but I also believe very strongly that you can be honest and still respectful.

Okay, less heavy stuff:

  • Keep your blog up to date. If you haven’t posted a review in three months, I’ll likely strike you. I’ll also check to make sure the reviews are coming at a relatively steady pace. I completely understand you’re busy and it’s not perfect, and you’re not getting paid to do this, and I’m happy to wait, but if I see month-long gaps in posts happening regularly, I hope you’ll understand when I say there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get around to reading my book, so it’s better if I go to someone who will.
  • Along those same lines, make sure your posts are dated. If they’re not, I can’t determine the above, and I’ll err on the side of caution and hold on to my book.
  • Have some reviews of big names in the genre you’re reviewing. Even if you’re specializing in reviewing indie authors (you’re an awesome soul if you’re doing this), throwing in a few of the big names from the big presses can be helpful to an author trying to gauge what kind of books you like. I write young adult high fantasy so the first reviews I read on a blog are any written on anything by Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer, Kiera Cass, Victoria Aveyard, or Veronica Roth. I’ve read all the works of most of these authors and know how I would rate their work compared to my own, so knowing how you do it gives me a better idea of whether or not you’ll like my work. If you only gave Maas’ Court of Mist and Fury 2.5 stars, I can pretty much assure you that you are not interested in The Wheel Mages, and I won’t send it. That is not to say your opinion isn’t valid, it’s just to say there are authors out there for you that aren’t me.
    • Side Note: J.K. Rowling is not on my list of big names because I almost never read reviews of J.K. Rowling’s work. Everyone loves it, so it isn’t a good indicator of preference for me.
  • Other than what I talked about above, I don’t really care about stars, except to see that not every book is getting five stars but some books are. Like I said, I don’t expect my book to get five stars every time, but if you’re not giving five stars to anyone, I’m leery. That said, if you’re giving five stars to everyone it’s also a red flag to me. I also want to add that I appreciate how hard your job is to assign ratings to something so subjective. It’s not one I think I could do – so kudos to you.
  • If you don’t give stars, that’s almost better. There aren’t many book blogs that don’t give stars, but I really like the ones that simply write a review. They’re refreshing and from the author’s perspective, a little less scary. Of course, readers probably feel differently, and you have to appeal to us both, so it’s all good either way.
  • Make me want to read the book you’re reviewing (if your objective is to say it was really good and everyone should read it). After I check for the authors I know, I will read a review about a book I don’t know that’s received a good review. If I walk away wanting to read that book, I’ll query you. You’ve done your job for me and that’s admittedly hard to do, so I know you’ll do it for others as well. There are tons of ways to accomplish this, but the way I find most persuasive is precise language with a spark of personality. I know, it’s tough, I’m telling you, I don’t envy you guys.
  • Review lists are great. I won’t strike a blog for not having a clickable list of reviews by title or author, but they’re awesome when I see them.

Wow, okay, this post is long, but I’m hoping helpful. I just want to add something really quickly here: This is obviously not an exact formula. Nothing about this industry is exact. It’s simply a set of ideas from the other side of the equation. And please note I realize I am not like every indie author. I’m sure there are plenty of authors who don’t put as much time into querying as I do, but I happen to think the amount of time I put into it speaks to who I am and what my book is. If you like that, this is how to catch someone like me.

Finally, I think I made it clear throughout, but in case I didn’t, I want you to know, book bloggers, that I appreciate you so, so much. I actually think authors might be able to commiserate with you more than most. We’re all writers who love books, struggling to make ourselves stand out in an over-saturated market, driving ourselves crazy in the process. So much love to you.

Keep on keeping on, and if you have anything you’d like to contribute or ask about, sound off in the comments.

❤ Aimee

P.s. If you’re a book blogger interested in enticing indie authors and don’t know where to start, get on this list! http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/

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Seemed appropriate

Second Month Sales

Okay, so I said I was going to do it and here we are.

Things didn’t go well this month, people. I sold only 12 books. That’s NOT exactly going to pay the bills. And with a 130,000 word manuscript currently sitting in the editor’s hands, I’m not feeling super pumped right now.

But, I suppose this is a marathon and not a sprint, right? And things have been a wee bit crazy around the world this January, so I’m wondering if timing might have something to do with it too. It feels a bit frivolous to be marketing my book when social media feeds are dominated with much more pressing concerns, so I didn’t push as hard as I might have otherwise done. I’m preoccupied too. I get it.

Good news is this run-down will be short.

Sales Period: December 30 through January 29, 2016

Vendor: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (Kindle)

Copies sold: 4

Territories sold: United States (3) and UK (1)

Royalties: 8.22 USD, 1.85 GBP

Vendor: CreateSpace (Paperback)

Copies sold: 4

Territories sold: United States (4)

Royalties: 4.64 USD

Vendor: Personal Sales (Paperback)

Copies sold: 4

Territories sold: United States (4)

Royalties: 20.64 USD

Total Copies sold in the second month: 12

Territories sold: United States (11) and UK (1)

Royalties: 33.50 USD, 1.85 GBP

Total combined copies (since launch): 70

Territories sold: United States (68), Denmark (1), UK (1)

Total Royalties: 170.31 USD, 2.18 EUR, 1.85 GBP

So… I have almost paid off the cover art for the first book, and I even received my first check from Amazon and CreateSpace, so that’s pretty cool (fun fact, if you go with the direct deposit option, they’ll send you royalties every month so long as you’ve made more than $10, if you ask for a check, they won’t send you anything until you’ve made $100, also good to note that applies to every currency, so I won’t see any royalties from sales in the UK or Europe until I’ve sold more there).

I still haven’t broken into that 100 copies territory, but I have hope (some days). More important than anything, however, this month I had readers really connect with the book and that to me is worth more than royalties. Royalties would still be cool though.

Here’s to fighting the good fight!

❤ Aimee

A Bit of News

Short and sweet – there are a few things I want to keep you updated on regarding what’s going on in the world of the Sanctum, because right now, that world seems to be less dysfunctional than our own. Who would have seen that coming, right?

Author Interview: I did an author interview with Becca over at Shihtzu Book Reviews which you can check out here. We discuss my writing process (unhealthy), my characters, and some things to look out for in the future.

The Wheel MagesIf anyone is interested in receiving a signed copy of The Wheel Mages, I’m now offering those in limited supply. If you’re interested in receiving one, contact me through the website or send me an email at aimee@aimee-davis.com.

The Blood Mage update: I sent The Blood Mage to the editor yesterday for its first review. Word count – 131,592 (uhhh…). I’ll be receiving critiques on that sometime in mid-February, so things are moving along, and I’m still shooting for a summer release!

Workshop: Some fun and exciting news! I’ll be doing a writing workshop in Reading, Pennsylvania in mid-February (the date looks like it’s going to be February 15th, but I’m waiting on final confirmation). Details about the workshop will be available soon.

Two-Month Sales: I’ll be posting those within the next couple of days. I’ve been swamped with work trying to get The Blood Mage ready for Katie, so I’m behind, but never fear, I’m still committed to remaining transparent with my sales.

It’s rough out there. Please everyone remember to be kind to yourselves and each other.

❤ Aimee