Is it me writing this blog post right now? Are you sure? I mean, someone at my house might have borrowed my computer and decided to pretend to be me for a few minutes and write a blog post. That’s pretty unlikely, though, since the computer scans my face for security. My child looks kind of like me, but not enough to access my computer. And my husband would just, well, never do that. So it’s probably me, right? Sure. I assure you today that it is me. But what if someday, it’s not? I could go to an AI app and put in a few key words about what I want in my blog, and the AI would spit out a full article, most likely saying the gist of what I want it to say. Boy, that would save me time, wouldn’t it? I could be a writer, but I wouldn’t even have to write! I wish they had AI for social work, too. I could just stay in bed all day while the AI counsels people and provides them with resources. Oh, what’s that you say? You say that you can do text therapy now, and the AI therapist just responds appropriately to what you tell it? Uh…
I like the idea of AI for some things. It’s kind of fascinating. It would help for some of the drudge work of research, for one thing. I mean, do we really even need to learn how to do research anymore if there is a mechanized way to do it? It would open all sorts of time for other scientific projects and thing. But I draw the line at the AI writing up the paper after the research is done. There is, and always will be, a human side to experimentation and learning. I don’t want to read a paper that was produced by a machine. I want to know who it was that wrote it, and I want to know a bit about their background. It would be like I decided to become a writer, plugged an idea into AI, let it take off and write the story, and then let it market the story on its own, by producing ads and videos. Then all I would have to do would be to show up to book signings. Maybe. I mean, maybe the AI can somehow make that work, too. Does this sound appealing to you? Because it doesn’t to me. My brother Jonathan decided to give it a try recently. He plugged the main premise of my newly released book (May I Have Your Attention Please, found on Amazon) into an AI app and set it free. The idea was, a boy and a girl are reunited after being in different schools for a year, and they fall in love. It is 1984. They both have some issues they are dealing with at home, and they are also dealing with the ups and downs of growing up and falling in love. So my brother read me what the AI wrote. And it was pretty close to my story. Not perfect, but close. It took the story in another direction, but it probably just needed a bit more information to get it right. Ok, that scared me. Is my talent as a writer going to be obsolete in a few years? Are writers going to be a thing of the past? I can see committees sitting in a room coming up with story ideas, and then passing them off to AI. I really, really don’t like that idea.
What else can AI do? It can produce images from key words. So that means that pretty soon, once everyone has access to these resources, stock photos will be a thing of the past. We can all create our own images, and they will belong to us. So far in this post, I have shown you two pictures of girls. These are images that I produced with AI yesterday in an experiment. I plugged in a description of my main character, Sally Bachman. Here is what I asked for:
“Sixteen-year-old white, Jewish girl in 1984, pretty, full length image, blue eyes, shoulder length brown hair, solid pink button-down shirt with puffy sleeves, wearing blue jeans, 1984 style hair and makeup, 34-inch chest. Show all of the girl.” And here is what I ended up with (in addition to the two photos above):
The first girl, on top of this post, looks like a mannequin. There is no escaping that fact. The second one looks like she is at her own murder trial. The third looks like some sort of weird portrait from the 1800s, the fourth is missing a face, and the fifth is most definitely possessed by the devil. NOT ONE OF THESE GIRLS LOOKS LIKE A REAL PERSON!!!! And none of them are wearing the clothing I specified. And what is the AI definition of pretty? Apparently not the same as mine. I might have been able to be a bit more specific, but not one of these girls has a 34-inch chest, amiright?
The next picture still isn’t right, but it’s at least, right-er:
She doesn’t look like I’d imagine Sally, but she looks more in the area of what Sally would look like. And why no blue jeans??? Maybe AI just can’t make real people. I have seen some drawings and other images that were pretty cute with cartoons. I might be asking too much. Just for funsies, I’m going to show you a few I got of James. The clothing is pretty good, but, ugh, the boys:
What, may I ask, is going on with those eyes? ALL of those eyes!
These next two are pretty decent. I changed James’s age from 16 to 17 and specified wavy hair, which made it a bit longer.
But still, someone needs to work on making the AI eyes a bit more realistic. These two guys look like people I might have actually gone to junior high school with. And James’s appearance is actually based on one of those people. Okay, so one win for AI images.
So that is all I am going to show you. I also tried to make some images for my future book covers (although I have an excellent cover designer. I was just goofing around) and they weren’t bad. I am thinking, AI just not good at faces. At all. But I’m glad a had a chance to play around. With Dall-E, you can get a free account with fifteen credits and month. I used up all my credits just trying to get Sally and James right, so no more credits until a month from now. If I want more, I have to pay. That doesn’t seem right. Maybe for fifteen results. You couldn’t have to use your credits for an image that doesn’t come out anything like what you were looking for. Heavy sigh. I just hope that AI keeps having problems. I guess it will be really good for my job(s) security. Small blessings.
Okay, so I dragged my 54-year-old butt on two 90 minute college campus tours this weekend. That’s an hour and a half each time, for those of you that are averse to math problems. Three hours of walking over two days. With a 17-year-old. Nothing makes you feel older than the point where you grab your lower back and moan, “I’ve got to sit for a minute.” Oh, no, actually, I’m wrong. There is something worse.
We were walking around the University of Oregon on our tour, and our charming and wordy tour guide stopped to let us know that the building we were standing in front of was featured a great deal in the 1978 super comedy, “Animal House.” All of the parents made OOH and AAH noises, and we all squinted at the building to get a glimpse of something that looked familiar. Then we all looked at each other with expressions that spoke of great coolness in our general vicinity. Then I heard a mom say to her son, “that’s so cool that they filmed ‘Animal House’ here, and his reply? “What’s ‘Animal House’? Of course, much discussion ensued where this mother and I told him all the wonders and beauties of this classic movie, and told him that he needs to (choke) stream it when they get home. So I looked at this kid and I said, “Surely you’ve heard of ‘Stripes,’ right?” And he looked at me in confusion. At that moment, my age caught up to me and I turned to gray dust on the ground and later was blown in all directions by the four winds.
What? Kids don’t know about “Animal House?” What kind of world do we live in where this is not mandatorily shown to all Americal children when they enter high school? Like, they should be holding assemblies, and passing out hot buttered popcorn! I can sort of understand never seeing it, but never even having heard of it? That’s just outrageous. So, anyway, in my shock and dissolving into powder state, I still managed to market my new book to the mother. Here’s my line:
“So, you look like you might remember the ’80s…”
I’ve been using that one a lot. I went to a concert the other day with my husband, and I would say the average age of patrons in the place was 71. Not kidding. So I was pretty sure that most of the people there remembered the ’80s, or were in their 80s, either one. So I felt more safe saying it to them. But I’ve also been trying that line at other places. At the ramen place. I asked a woman if she was from the 80s, and then I realized that that statement might have been slightly offensive to her. It turns out she was, and I gave her my bookmark with all of my information on it and told her to buy my book. I’ve gone through quite a lot of bookmarks in the past two weeks, but I don’t know if they have let to any sales. Marketing is tricky.
I’ve tried other things, too. The picture above was taken at Oregon State University. I have apparently learned to photo shop, sort of. I have learned to create stickers to put on my pictures, and one of them is my book. So I am putting them everywhere. Not too bad, if you ask me. Looks like a sandwich board, right? I’m looking forward to what else I can stick my book into just for funsies.
I’ve been doing lots of videos on TikTok. I love it, it’s lots of fun. Then I also share the videos on Facebook and Instagram. I still don’t get Instagram. Out of all the social media platforms, Instagram is the only one where I have gotten tons and tons of solicitous messages trying to sell or review my book, in addition to the “hey beautiful, I couldn’t help but notice your smile” messages. I don’t really enjoy looking though Instagram either. Maybe it’s an old person thing? But I love TikTok. I don’t even care if anyone in China gets information on me about my book. Maybe I’ll have a market in China for my book. Probably not, though.
I’ve also been walking around with my book everywhere. I take it on walks, so I can pose it with the scenery. That’s fun. I’ve also posed by Kindle, open to my book cover. I take my book on the bus and train and when anyone asks me what I’m reading, or tries to talk to me in any way, I manage to ask them if they know who wrote the book I’m reading. Then I show them the author picture on the back. Then they get confused, because I’m wearing a mask and they can’t see my face, so I hold my breath and lift my mask for 5 seconds. Then they’re impressed? Impressed enough so they’ll buy my book? I don’t know. Jury’s still out. But it’s still pretty cool. I had two guys in the train talk to me for 15 minutes and then tell me they were proud of me for publishing my book. Someone else told me they wanted to tell me they were proud of me, but it would be weird. I immediately told them it wasn’t, and made them say it! Hey, I’ll take pride from strangers any time I can!
So, all that being said, I’ve sold 55 books on Amazon in the past two weeks. I’m not sure how I feel about that number, but I think it’s pretty good. There was another book released in the Coming of Age genre at the same time as mine called “I’ll Stop the World,” and it was published by Mindy Kaling. So it was number one for two weeks. How could I compete with that? Mindy Kaling? How do I get Mindy Kaling to publish MY books? But I was number 77 in coming of age new releases for about two hours, so that was nice.
So, how do I tie all of this information together? Well, here’s the thing. I’m old. I should retire soon, right? So I can write full time, and enjoy my happy “golden” years (I guess golden years come in about 10 years) but at the same time, I have a kid I need to send to college for the next four years. And right before I started to write this blog post, I looked up how much it would cost to send my daughter to college for four years, at an in-state rate. And guess what? It’s a whole lot! So, in conclusion, buy my book. Buy a few. Buy one for yourself, and one for your sister. Buy one for your mother, your aunt, your daughter (over the age of 16 please) and even for your uncle or son. People seem to like it. All sorts of people. You’ll buy 10-12 copies of my book for Christmas and birthday presents this year, and then when I put out book 2, you’ll be looking forward to buying that one too. And just think, the more you buy, the more you’re helping put my daughter through college without me having to get a third and fourth job. Wouldn’t that be nice? And it’s really a good read. Check it out on Amazon. I’ve already got 6 five-star reviews! Okay, maybe I might know most of the people who reviewed it, but some of them, not too well. They didn’t have to do a review, and they did. And I’m also on Goodreads. Just so you know.
As always, thank you for reading my blog to the end.
My book, “May I Have Your Attention Please” can be found on Amazon, in both paperback and ebook! I plan to release my second book, “I Just Can’t Say I Love You,” in September 2023. Please check it out, and if you do read my book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It would mean a whole lot!
I had never heard of this genre before I started communicating with Meg Stratton a few months ago. We met in a Facebook group for independent writers, and we decided to check out each other’s work. Meg has given be some great information about self-publishing and has been instrumental in helping me get to the point of being able to publish my book. So I decided to ask Meg for an interview, to learn more about her writing process and her genre. The following are the questions that I sent Meg, and she was kind enough to send back to me, all answered!
Tell me a little about yourself.
So I am a mom, coffee lover, native Washingtonian. I have lived in Washington my whole life and even though it gets more crowded every year, I still enjoy my drive to work where I get amazing views of Mt. Rainier when it’s out, or Lake Washington or even downtown Seattle. This is home for me. One thing I don’t enjoy is my two hour commute back and forth to work every day. I could get so much more writing accomplished with that time!! But I have 4 kids to take care of and a wonderful husband who actively encourages me to write and publish. So I do 12 hour days and then come home to write in the night and on my weekends. Other activities I enjoy is baking, gardening, and reading. Oh my reading that is where this all started for me. The reading.
I had never heard of your genre before. Can you tell me a bit about it?
So I started my Covid lock down reading romance novels at a very rapid rate. Somewhere in that manic reading frenzy I found the reverse harem section. Just an FYI, many people want this genre to change to ‘why choose’ romance. I agree for the many reasons people say the word harem means in other cultures. So you may see more ‘why choose’ usage in the future but today reverse harem is the most common name for my genre. Regardless, I read a book by Stacy Jones that was something new to me. Sci-fi, why choose, romance with aliens!! Oh my goodness I was hooked. I read everything she wrote for that series, book 5 just came out last month, read it in 2 days, on working days! So good.
So ‘why choose’, is when multiple mates partner with one female. MMFM is an abbreviation that is used on Amazon. My book has MMFMMM, so there are a lot of guys with one lady. Sometimes the men are intimate with each other but many times the focus is all on the lady. My books are that way. Each guy in my story brings a quality that my main character needs to move on in her role as the Oracle. The Sci-Fi part in book one of my series is that aliens attack, the world is challenged, and my main female character is part of the action with her guys.
When did you start writing? Is it something you always did, or did you just start recently?
So I haven’t always written. I wrote a blog thing while on a trip I took about 5 years ago, but I never posted it anywhere. It’s was just for me. I didn’t even have my husband read it and he went on a trip with me. So this is new to me. I will say that I didn’t intent to write a book or publish anything. I just started writing.
I read your book, Oracle: Mia, and I loved it. Tell me about what gave you the idea for your book.
Well, I was reading all those romance books and had finished a few of Stacy’s books and my overactive mind sent me a dream. Honestly the dream was only a tiny snapshot of my overall story, but it got me started on my book. I am a pantser, for those that don’t know it means there is very little planning for my books, I just sit down and write. So, I started with that kernel of a dream idea, by the time my husband suggested I self-publish, I had 300,000 words down. Don’t get me wrong, not all of it was good and I had too many words for one book. But I wrote and had a good start.
How did you get started with writing your book?
Well, it started with me just writing down the dream I had. I wrote first in OneNote, I like this as I can add pictures of my characters to help me describe them and give them life. I can add multiple chapters as pages and graphs, charters to keep track of my characters. As a pantser that is important because I forget who I have where without this structure. when I had too many words to be one book, I split up my main characters into books.
How did you organize your book? Did you have an outline, etc.?
Ugh, structure, outlines, charts. I wish I could give you some magic sauce here, but I’ll just be honest and say I am a hot mess with that all. My suggestion: try everything! My first way of building a book in OneNote, adding a new page for each chapter didn’t work out so don’t do that, but OneNote is still a great way of getting a visual on your characters in the same place that you rough draft. Then I copy and paste it into Word where I do edits, cut the fluff and add more as needed. I know I am getting better and more efficient with each edit and book that I write. Just remember that there is no perfect way to do this. Every one of our minds works differently. Just sit and write into Word if that is something you are comfortable with. Some authors have said that they write into a note on their iPhone, whatever gets the words out of you and into the black and white for later reviewing.
How long did it take you to write your book? Was it straight through, or stop and go?
Holy smokes, the first year was amazing for writing. June 2021 to the end of April 2022 was when I wrote 300,000 words. That was when I decided to self-publish. Then it all slowed way down. I was no longer writing. I was editing, revising, learning the self-publishing rules, trying to find new people to mentor me, setting up my business (because when I do something I go all in), made websites, found artists for my covers, and a million other small things. It took me from April 2022 to November 2022 to get my book published. So for the first part of actually writing in a rough draft format took almost a year. To get it to a place where I could launch was 7 months later.
That being said, I still write. Almost every single day. But I have to sit down now and think about it. It has not been as easy as that first year was.
How did it feel the first time you held your book in your hands?
Oh my goodness! Well that was great but what was amazing for me was when you, Debby, sent me the first picture of someone holding my book in their hands ready to read it!! That was the most special moment for me. I think I told you that I squealed when I got that picture, well I did much to the concern of my husband because I am not known for squealing. But wow all the feels in that moment.
What was it like for you after finally pushing the publish button?
So no one knows that I write books, especially spicy romance except for 3 people in my immediate family. 3 of my kids only know that I write, not what I write about. (too young for all that). So pushing the button was a quiet affair. But I will say that there was a LOT of relief. While writing is fun and meeting new people is fun, pushing your words out there for other people to read is the scariest thing I have ever done. But it was such a relief to say it is done, it is gone, I have published something.
What is your most effective means of marketing your book?
So I would say BookFunnel promotions. If you don’t know what that is, I will give a bare bones break down. It is a site that for a cost will keep your completed work on file for your Beta readers, Arc readers and their group promotions. Honestly you can send a copy of your book to anyone you want to review your work if you wish through BookFunnel. They have a sales portal too, but I haven’t looked into it. The thing with BookFunnel promotions is that you can’t give away your book if your book is in Kindle Unlimited (KU). So then you have to have a free prequel that you upload like you would your book that you enroll into promotions to get people interested in your writing and joining your mailing list. Once you join a few of those promotions, people look at your style and see if it is interesting to them and if they want to go get your other book. My book that is free on BookFunnel is my prequel to Mia’s story. It is called Power of the Moon, is about 12k, and set in the early 1900’s.
You are working on your second book. Are you doing anything differently with this one than you did with the first?
So many things!! I am starting earlier with Beta readers. Beta Readers are the best thing ever!! I had 4 Beta readers for my first book. One 1 is a fabulous first-time author for England who put out her first book 2 weeks before me, we have learned so much from each other in that time and keep in touch regularly still. One turned into my editor. She is a great lady in South Dakota who I have recommended a few people to for her services. She put up with all my new kid questions. And one who gave me the best advice on the genre I am in and how my book could be better aligned with that genre, she was from Australia and is a new writer too. But wasn’t afraid to dish out the real talk.
I am more active on social media than before. I will continue there to build my brand. Including new promotions in BookFunnel and trying some other areas to promote my book as I find them.
What advice would you give new or aspiring authors?
Get some 3rd party people who aren’t connect to you as a person, to read for you. They will be the most honest and then take whatever they give you and grow. Are they maybe saying tough stuff about something you spent a year or five years writing? Yes, they are but they as readers that are further away from the work and can see the flaws that you have decided to overlook. They aren’t out to hurt you; they are telling you need to grow.
MORE social media!! I have been working hard since my first book launched to build up my social presence. There are some awesome people in the Bookstagram world. There are some wonderful authors who will help lift you up as you are growing your audience. Get out there and meet them and ask questions! This will help you when you launch your next book. But it takes time, start it early.
Are there any items on your bucket list that you can’t wait to get to?
Oh man this is tough. I want to write books for a living. But I don’t make any money doing this. So that is why this is a great hobby with good feels when you get a positive review, it is not a living. So I want to get my books out there when I can and be supportive of other authors as they seek this world with me. I want to lift up others and help with their questions. I want to see all of this series and my next one (yes, I already have a next series in mind) grow and mature like fine wine. Other than that, live one day at a time.
Anything else you would like to tell the readers?
First, I appreciate that you gave me this time to talk about my journey to self-publishing and writing strategy. My greatest advice so far is to find that one person you can talk about your writing. Even if they don’t understand everything you are talking about, that you have a support person is so very important. Then get on FaceBook, Instagram, or TikTok, join a writing group, another author’s page, or Bookstagrammer engagement groups. Look for other people at your level or beyond to ask questions. Promote yourself earlier than you are ready to. I know that it seems as if you don’t have much to contribute but you need to be able to share your story when you are done writing, then again when you are done editing, then again when you need betas, etc. Before that, be an advocate, share others wins when they are happy about something, find your book friends.
I can be found on FaceBook, Goodreads, Instagram, and TikTok. Email me, I will do my best to answer questions!!
1st Book: Oracle: Mia (The Oracle’s Journey Series) Available for free on KU
Thanks so much, Meg, for sharing all of this great information with us! I can’t wait to read your second book (full disclosure, I already BETA read it!)! I wish you all the best going forward with your writing!
On another note, my book, “May I Have Your Attention Please” is now live on Amazon, in both paperback and ebook! I have a great launch party last night, and now I am looking forward to more sales and more writing, with plans to release my second book in September, 2023. Please check it out, and if you do read my book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It would mean a whole lot!
It’s finally here! The launch date of my first book, “May I Have Your Attention Please” is March 4, less than one week away! And I have finally gotten everything ready to go for the actual launch, such as the book being able to be ordered and printed. Now I’m working on my launch party, which will be on March 4 at a really cool book pub in Portland. If you’re in the area and you want to come, it’s the one on Fremont Street, and it’s from 3-6pm. I guess I’ll be doing a short reading, giving away some books and prizes, and generally having a good time. And there will be cake. You can’t turn down cake, can you? No.
Now what? Deep breaths for one thing. Thinking of all the things I might have forgotten. Finding typos and reloading my manuscript. Over and over (but it’s all good). Inviting people to the party. Other marketing things. Oy, I’m so tired of marketing by now, and I’m just at the starting line! It’s fun, but sometimes, I run out of ideas. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure.
In honor of the pending launch, I’m going to include an excerpt from the book. I try to be so careful about my excerpts not giving anything away, but I have to remember, it’s out of context. You will still have to read it in context.
This excerpt is during a dinner that James and Sally have with Sally’s adult sister, Andrea, and her Army husband, Derrek. He’s in town on leave and wants to see his favorite (albeit only) sister-in-law, and meet her new boyfriend. Here it is:
They reviewed the menus. When the waitress returned with their drinks, they were ready to order. Everyone ordered shellfish and salad. When the salads arrived, they paused momentarily from their conversation to dig in. Then James turned to Andie.
“So Andie,” he said, dabbing the corner of his mouth with his napkin, then putting the napkin on his lap like his mother taught him to do in fancy restaurants. “I met Sally in Junior High. We were both totally awkward back then. No offense Sally.”
“Oh, none taken,” Sally said enthusiastically. “I completely agree. I was totally awkward back then. Well, until like a month ago!”
James smiled fondly at Sally and turned back to Andie. “So what was she like as a kid?” he asked. “I bet she was a cute baby.”
“Oh, she was!” Andie agreed. “I was seven when she was born, so she was my little baby doll. She had these springy curls and round pink cheeks that always looked like they needed to be pinched! Mom was still pretty busy with our brother Nathan, who was two when she was born, so I would entertain Sally with my stories and songs and puppet shows. She had such a laugh, so I was always trying to do things to make her laugh. She had a short attention span so I had to come up with new things to do to make her happy all the time. If I didn’t, she would cry.”
“Is she like that with you, James?” Derrek joked.
“I’ve never seen her cry,” James admitted.
“Take her to a sappy movie,” Derrek advised him. “But bring Kleenex. And bring Andie too, she could use a good happy cry.”
Andie nodded. “It’s true,” she confided. “I really could.”
“Sally may have been awkward at school,” Derrek said, “but at home, she was always the life of the party.” He looked at Sally. “Remember? You were always singing, dancing around, trying to get everyone’s attention.”
Sally blushed. “Oh God, that was such a long time ago!”
He turned back to James. “And she loved to bake with her Mom and Grandma.”
“Yeah,” Sally said, “So you always had cookies and brownies to eat.”
Derrek grinned. “Can you still bribe her with chocolate?”
James raised an eyebrow. “What?”
Andie laughed. “We learned that if we gave her a chocolate bar or a cookie, she would let us watch whatever we wanted on TV.”
“Or give us some alone time when we needed it,” Derrek added.
Sally gave a little shrug. “Well, I guess I still respond pretty well to chocolate.”
James caught her eye and smiled. “Good to know.”
He remembered the shy version of Sally at Randall, who was separated from her friends in class, and relied on him and his friends for some friendly interaction each day. He thought about how easy it would have been for them to ignore her, and how grateful he was now that they didn’t. She must have brought out the best in them, even back then.
“Sally has been a godsend for Andie too,” Derrek continued, “I was deployed in Germany for a year before I was assigned to Fort Benning, so Andie really needed her family. And when Josie was born, Sally was really there for her. She’s more like a second mom to Josie than an aunt. Sally, even if Andie had another sister, you would still be my favorite sister-in-law.”
James looked at Sally, and noticed her wiping a tear off of her cheek with the back of her hand. On the other side of the table, Andie sniffed. He was struck by how similar Sally and her sister looked, with their brown hair and sparkling pale blue eyes. They had similar facial expressions, and both appeared to wear their emotions right on the surface. “Well,” Derrek said, reaching out to take Sally’s hand, “now you’ve seen her crying.” They smiled at each other affectionately.
The entrees were served, and they all composed themselves to eat.
James took a bite of shrimp, and felt it melt like butter in his mouth. Everyone else was quiet as silverware clinked on plates.
Well, if that doesn’t make you hungry, I don’t know what will! Thanks for reading this far, and I hope if you buy the book, you will enjoy every scene!
…It’ will be fun, they said! Fun??? I am moments away from ripping my hair out! Or throwing my computer across the room! Or screaming! But I think the other patrons in the coffee shop where I am sitting would not appreciate that so much. So I will just stop what I am doing, take a few deep breaths, and chill. And write a blog post.
The good news is, I got my manuscript back from my copy editor this week, and it was in pretty good shape. I wasn’t expecting it back until March, and I was planning to release my book in early April. But now, there’s no reason to wait. I went through the edits and approved or rejected them, added in the chapter header images I wanted, and then I was all ready to upload my book and cover.
Except no. It was so easy to save my Word file as a PDF. This is so easy, I thought. So I went through all the steps on the Amazon KDP website, and pushed the button. Then I hit the “next” button, and ended up on the page where I was then told all of things that were wrong with my document and cover. Not much I can do about the cover, so I sent that problem to my cover designer. Then I went back into the Word document to change my margins. Saved to a second PDX. Then it was accepted. So I am supposed to review and make sure everything is okay before hitting publish, which I can’t do anyway until I get the cover fixed. So I look. And I find some blank pages that weren’t there before. Must have come from the margin changes. Back to the document. Fix. New PDF. Then, I found a spelling error in on of my headers. Back. Fix. PDF. This went on for 11 PDFs, and a miracle that I didn’t just fall on the floor and cry. So before I went to bed last night, I finally had the proper PDF in KDP. Yay. Still waiting on the cover, but that’s okay, because my designer is in a totally different time zone than me. I can wait until morning.
I woke up this morning feeling good about myself. I’ve finally got my book in pre-sale! Yay! What an experience! Now, I need to set up a launch party, visit local bookstores to see if they will carry my book, and then sit down and upload my PDF one more time, this time to Ingram Spark, a distributor, or the people who the bookstores order their copies from. I sat down on my comfy (read hard) stool at the coffee shop, get to the right location on the web site, and upload the PDF. Oh, for God’s sake. My fonts are not embedded! How does one embed fonts? They research it on Google. Ten minutes later, with the 12th PDF ready to go, I upload. And I get the same error message. Fonts not embedded. Yes they are! I did it myself! I was there! There are witnesses! But no. So back to Word, push one button, then push a different button, then save as a PDF, and load again. No change. Email everyone I know about what to do. What do they tell me? How to embed the text. Like I just did!
I wish this had a happy ending, but the story isn’t over yet. I’m still at the coffee shop. All of my hair is still strongly embedded (see what I did there?) in my head, my computer is intact, and I do not have a sore throat from screaming. But it’s still a good day (day ain’t over yet!). Why is it a good day? Because I can finally see the finish line. For book 1 of 7.
So yes, please, everyone, even if you choose not to buy it, please take a look at my author page on Amazon! See my book sitting there in eBook pre-sale! Read the blurb! Read my bio! Hit the follow button! Because I’m going to do this all again in September with book 2! I even know the date. It’s the birthday of one of the main characters! Yeah, I know. I can’t help it. I’m just like that!
Buy my book! If you buy the eBook, it will be delivered right to your device on March 4th. The paperback will become available on March 4th.
Recognize that March 4th is the most optimistic day of the year! March Forth, oh warriors of peace and truth!
Follow me on Amazon.
When you read my book, leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Even if it’s just the stars, and even if it’s less than 5 stars. However, I ask that if you did not love my book, you don’t just leave one or two stars, but you tell me what it was that you didn’t like. If it’s just not your genre, that’s one thing. But if it’s something that is just off for you, let me know. I still have 6 other manuscripts. Maybe your feedback would help me to improve them before publication.
And so the games begin! I am getting much closer to my goal of self-publishing my first book, May I Have Your Attention Please. I am hoping I can push the publish button on KPD in about six weeks if everything goes as planned. As I may have mentioned before, writing the book is the easy part. Editing is tedious, but it is necessary to perfect (as much as possible) my art before I get it out to the public. Formatting seems like kind of a bear, but I’m figuring it out. So what is the hard part then, Debby? Please do tell?
It’s that part where you know that some time soon, your book is going to be released into the wild. And wild it is. No one knows what’s out there in the dangerous world of books and book sales. What becomes a best seller? Will people read my book, and if they do, will they like it? Or will they find out the horrible truth about me: that I am an imposter.
Imposter syndrome is a real thing, and it is very common in writers and authors. According to Wikipedia, “Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or impostorism, is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud…Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon do not believe they deserve their success or luck.” Yes. Who am I to believe that others could like words that came out of my brain? But I do have one thing on my side: I have enlisted Beta-readers, several wonderful people who have read my first book and given me feedback. And guess what? They didn’t hate my book. As a matter of fact, they really liked it, and some of them weren’t even people I knew or family members, and I wasn’t paying them to like it! So, I know I have some good stuff, but now I have to convince millions of people out there that I have good stuff, and they should shell out their hard earned money to buy and read it. I mean, I could just give it away for free, but to be honest, if you pay for a book, you are much more likely to read it. Seriously. A lot of the time, I don’t even read the books I do pay for. You should see my To Be Read pile. It’s up to my waist.
So how do I let people know to buy my book, and the right people? First, I have to decide who I think the right people would be. My book takes place in a high school, with high school kids. Does this make it appropriate for high school students? Well, maybe. I mean, they can relate to the kids, even though the setting is the 1980s. Kids are kids. But not all kids might like it. I think a lot would. There is some, shall we say, intimacy, in my books. It’s not explicit, but it’s there, and it’s clearly implied. That is why you never let your family read your books. Just kidding. They did, and I was horrified. But I digress. So high school kids, young adults. Ok. But as my series progresses, my stories start in high school, move out of the high school setting, into college, and in some, beyond college into adulthood, with adult issues. And my books start delving into some pretty serious subjects, like grief and loss, mental illness, substance abuse, religious abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse. Not graphic or horribly described, but the topics are there. They are a main part of the story. So new adults might enjoy these books as well. What are new adults? They are part of a new genre of readers that have turned or passed the age of 18. They are learning their way out there in a world full of responsibilities. They are coming of age, just like my characters. Who else can relate to my characters? 1980s kids. Generation X. My characters were mainly born in 1968. If you were born around that time, and you read my series, you will get a nostalgic feel from them, and you might be thrown back in time for a short while. Hopefully your 1980s were not filled with angst and pain. If so, maybe skip my books, or rewrite your own 1980s story, like I did with mine. And the last group of people I know enjoyed my books? Men in their late 40s-late 50s! I had four of these men read my book, and they all enjoyed it. That was a pleasant surprise. So maybe my books are for everyone (over the age of 14).
But to be honest, when people look at my book cover and read the blurb on the back, I am guessing they will think teen love story, and they are not wrong. It is a sweet love story about Sally Bachman and James Newell. And it has a happy ending, at least for the main characters. So it’s probably best that I market toward young women, YA and NA genres, Coming of Age Romance readers. And hope that their moms and dads pick up their copy someday and get hooked. So here’s the 15 million dollar question: where to you find these young people who would maybe want to read my book? And the most obvious, and truest answer, is TikTok. I mean, all social media, but have you been to TikTok? I hadn’t. I knew my teen child is obsessed with it, and always has their eyes glued to something on the screen, but I wrote it off to being a kid magnet, and never even bothered to look. But then I did. And you know what? It is a kid thing. But I’m absolutely hooked now! I love it! I found Booktok, a group (millions of people) who love books and reading and love talking about books and reading. And these people? THEY BUY BOOKS! Lots of them! And they review them! And they have thousands and thousands of followers! So if you can tap into these people (primarily young women) you have found a gigantic door to best seller heaven.
But the 20-million-dollar question is how do you tap in? And that, my friends, is where TikTok loses me. I have posted videos of me talking, of funny things my pets do, of text, and now, today, I made one of me coming to the coffee shop to show my writing process. Some of my posts have gotten 600-700 views and close to one hundred likes. Some others, which are similar have gotten around 100 views and maybe 15 likes. I know some of the formula. You need to use hashtags. You need to find out what is trending and get on that trend. Ok. Each time you put in a hashtag, you get to find out how many times that hashtag has been used by others. So you want to choose the ones that have 13.4 million uses, as opposed to “created a new hashtag.” So I do that. Then, there is the music. You can attach a clip to your video or post, or not. TikTok will automatically attach one if you don’t, and then you will have to either switch it to one you like or delete it. So again, you want songs that are trending. What do you do if your brand is the 1980s? You want to use 1980s music. It is very distinctive, and as soon as people hear it, they know where it came from. But unfortunately, most of it isn’t trending. I tried using “Running Up That Hill,” which I never even heard in the 80s, but apparently was very popular. It was trending due to the show “Stranger Things.” But I guess I missed that bus, because it didn’t seem to help me much. But, seriously, the music that’s trending? Like my mother used to say about my Eric Clapton CDs back when I was a teen, “that stuff hurts my ears!” Ugh. I’m old, I know. But 2020s music does not go with a pitch to sell a 1980s themed book, and series. I asked my followers what they thought would help. I was told little snippets from my book. So, I’ve been doing that. And I included the first few in this post so you can see and be intrigued, in case you are one of everyone, and might like my book. And I did the “behind the scenes at the coffee shop” that I am going to post later in the day, after I attached a trending noise song, but turn the volume all the way down so it can’t be heard, a trick someone told me about yesterday.
So, my plea to you is check out my TikTok, see my pitches, and buy my book, for your teenage niece, your Gen X sister, and your 55-year-old male coworker. But if you give it to him, maybe put in a discrete brown paper bag. He has an image to maintain, you know!
Here it is at long last! The cover of my upcoming book, “May I Have Your Attention Please.”
I am hoping to release this book into the wild by the end of March or early April. I will post a link to the Amazon location as soon as it becomes available.
I thought I might drop a little excerpt here just to keep you entertained until the book release. Please enjoy!
“What do you think of the Great Gatsby so far?” Sally asked, glancing at the novel as she set it down next to her tray.
“It starts off a bit slow,” James admitted. “I’ve never been much of a reader, so I hope it picks up the pace soon.”
“That’s one thing I’ve always been,” Sally responded. “A reader. I have always loved to read fiction. I get in the zone and sometimes hours go by before I know it. Like on Saturday night. I read before bed, and next thing I knew it was almost two am!”
“That’s exactly what it’s like for me when I play my guitar,” James said. “In the zone is a good way to describe it. When I learn a new song, or a new chord, I stay on it for a long time, until I get it just right. My parents know not to knock on my door when they hear me playing in my room.”
“I can’t wait to hear you play,” Sally said. “I wish I could play an instrument. I tried to play the flute when I was younger, but I never practiced. I wanted to, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how to get started. I’d be watching tv, and get anxious that I wasn’t practicing, but I still wouldn’t do it. My mom finally told me that if I didn’t get with it, she’d stop paying for lessons, so that’s pretty much what happened.”
“I was like that with karate in third grade,” James disclosed. “My friends were all doing it. I liked the idea of doing it, but at each class, it was obvious to the teacher I hadn’t practiced since the last class. He told me practice was a discipline I had to develop, but in the end I decided not to. It was too hard for me to stay focused.”
“It’s so weird we both do that,” Sally said, shaking her head. “Some things we can totally focus on for hours without anything stopping us, and others, we can’t even get started on. I wonder what that’s all about?”
Here it is, my first teaser for my upcoming book, “May I Have Your Attention Please,” which will hopefully be available for sale in late March or early April. It all depends on when it gets back to me from the copy editor, and how many corrections need to be made! Then I have to fumble through the formatting for both e-book and paperback and hope it all turns out the way I want it! But at least, by the end of next week, you will all know what to look for as far as a cover when you are searching for my book on Amazon. Soon.
So not a long post today. I am busy writing away on book 6 in the series, and I also completed a 5035-word side story for book 5. It was fun! Now, I am concentrating on making videos for TikTok and posts on my face book author page, to promote the cover reveal. My designer made some nice graphics for me, and I look forward to sharing them. I am also spending an ungodly amount of time on TikTok and Facebook following people, so they follow me back. I am close to 500 followers on Facebook, which is hard to do, because Facebook puts restrictions on you when you try to follow pages too quickly. They think you’re a bot. I mean, it’s great that they check for these things, unless it’s happening to you. I get logged off of my page at least 20 times per day lately. Find followers, Facebook tells you. But don’t do it too fast, even though we didn’t tell you this before you started! TikTok limits how many people you can follow, but you can come back shortly after and follow more. I’m at about 2200 followers on TikTok. Please be one of them! Oh, also, I was restricted from Instagram, and I have no idea why, except for not using it for months. I had to send them a selfie of me holding a paper with numbers on it to prove I was actually me. Ugh, I hardly ever post anything on there anyway, but I thought it might be fun to put my cover reveal teasers there. Not so fun after all!
How much information does an author give away before the book comes out?
This is an interesting question. Obviously, an author doesn’t want to give away too much about the plot. No secrets, no twists. But it’s still important to market your book. How do you market your book? There are only so many ways you can tell people that you have a book coming out. You know who else has a book coming out? Pretty much everyone. There is a lot of competition. And not everyone is like me. I have pretty much bought every book that I ever found even mildly interesting, and I have a huge “to be read” pile. It starts on the floor and is up to my neck. But that doesn’t stop me from buying more, much to the chagrin of my spouse and my bookcase.
So now you know I have a book coming out. So, what sets my book apart from the millions of others, and what will make you choose to read my next book after you read my first? Well, you have to like it. You have to not only like the way I write, but also the story I present. Is it captivating? Are the main characters likable? Are the antagonists just the worst, or maybe even someone you can sympathize or empathize with? Is the story interesting? Is there conflict, and does it resolve in a way that is satisfactory? You are not going to learn any of this by looking at my TikTok videos (although you can still visit them at dbmquick or follow me on Facebook at Debby Meltzer Quick, Author). You need to see a sample, or several samples of my writing. That is one reason I write a blog, so you can see my writing style. But blogs are not stories. They are snippets into my mind at the moment I am writing them.
So, I have decided to give you a taste of my book. A very small taste. A nibble, if you will. It shows a bit of the state of mind of one of my protagonists, without giving too much away.
So, with no more ado, I give you a little piece of chapter one. Setting: McKinney High School in Eastboro, Massachusetts, first day of school, junior year, 1984. James, Chris, and Carl are standing by the water fountain before the first bell (although they would call it a bubbler). They are dressed in jeans, and tee and baseball shirts, two of them in brand new wicked cool black leather vests. And here’s what happens next:
The boys were checking their schedules to see which classes they were in together, when Sally Bachman came in through the door. James coincidentally looked up at exactly that moment. It was a moment that years later he would later remember happening in slow motion. He didn’t recognize her at first. She was at least two inches taller than she had been when he last saw her at Randall Junior High, and definitely much curvier. Her straight brown hair fell above her shoulders and was softly layered around her face. She wore a button-down pink shirt with ruffled short sleeves, tight blue jeans, and white sneakers with pink stripes. She had her eye makeup done in a way that flattered her pale blue eyes and long lashes. She looked around with wide eyes and seemed unsure of what to do for a moment. She hadn’t been a student at McKinney Sophomore year, and James remembered she had gone to private school after ninth grade.
She caught his eye and smiled, making all of her nervous energy seem to melt away, replaced by relief. “Hey, Jamie!” she said walking toward him. “How are you?” She didn’t wait for an answer as she checked out her surroundings. “I’m so glad to see you! It’s my first day here and I have absolutely no idea where to go. Can you tell me where the office is? I’m supposed to check in there when I get here.”
James smiled back, amused at remembering how talkative she could get. “Hey, Sally,” he said, pointing in the correct direction. “Yeah, it’s just down the hall past the lockers, to the right.”
“Thanks Jamie,” she said, and she touched his elbow lightly. “Maybe I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah, see you later,” James responded, watching her as she walked away toward the office.
James glanced back at his friends, who were both looking at him oddly. “What?” he said to them, shrugging.
“Hey Jay-mie,” said Chris mockingly. “Hey, man, pick your jaw up off the floor!”
“Was that Sally Bachman?” Carl asked. “Wow, she’s grown up a lot. Like really,” he gestured toward his chest area. “She must have been a late bloomer!”
James glowered at his friends to hide his embarrassment. “Shut up, you dufuses,” he told them. “Look, Chris, there’s Rhonda.” Carl and Chris became distracted by Chris’s girlfriend and her friends coming through the door, and James quickly turned again toward the main office to try to catch another glimpse of Sally walking away.
Spoiler alert: She likes him, too. But you’ll have to get the book when it comes out to learn about how things go for these two amorous teens, and to find out about their adventures.
I hope you liked the very short, very benign section of “May I Have Your Attention Please” that I have shared with you. I may share more later, I don’t know. If you like what you see, remember to buy the book when it comes out. And then buy a few more for your friends!
Look, I got my very own QR code. Isn’t is cute? It’s strange how things like QR codes make our lives so much easier, but in the 1980s, we didn’t even have computers! In high school, I had to write all my papers by hand or use an electric typewriter. It all seems so primitive now. I guess time marches on. I don’t know how I would get through a day now without checking my social media sites or having my cell phone everywhere I go. Technology is a wonderful thing!