Letter From Character to Author

Photo Credit: Impowerable

Okay. My Mondays are typically reserved for posts that I think are most relevant to my readers/followers. They’ve usually been questions about reading or writing that don’t always have the most simple answer. But I’ve happened to read a few posts in which characters write letters to their authors or vice-versa. And I think it’s awesome. So here we are. I’ll have a letter written from me to my character next week. Now let’s see what he has to tell me!

Dear JohnRaymond,

I can call you that, right? Since we’re the same person. I think that makes us family. Boy, do I have some bones to pick with you. Where do I even begin? I’ll start with something I’ve already said. I know you WANT us to be the same. But we aren’t. I’m taller. Bigger. And quite a bit more funny than you are. And let’s not forget that we aren’t even the same Race. I know you want to be a hotshot PI like me, but stick to your life and I’ll stick to mine. Okay? Good.

Wow. I didn’t mean for this to come across as my being so bitter toward you. I’m not. I mean, you created me. You gave me the greatest girl who ever lived and I love her dearly. And you gave me a gun and made sure I knew how to use it. You gave me a strong moral compass that I know can only come from you. You gave me a business of my own that has been successful during its short run so far. And you gave me the ability to help people. It doesn’t get much better than that.

BUT, there’s more. I have some questions that I hope you’ll answer in any returning correspondence because I’d love to hear your answers. First, why is it that you send clients into my office who need the help and assistance of law enforcement? I mean, I’d like to think I’m decent at what I do, but I am just one person. I was lucky to get out of the Vega case alive, and that was my first. You gave me a break with some of the next cases that you didn’t think were good enough to write about and then threw the Giles case at me. Really? A prominent activist known across the country couldn’t afford someone more experienced than me? I realize I’m writing this while still working on that case, but I have no idea how I’ll be able to figure it all out on my own. Lastly, stop me from making Sydney upset all the time. Every other chapter I’ve done the wrong thing or said something stupid. Come on.

JohnRaymond, I know I’ve been critical of you, but the last thing I want to mention in this letter is something of great importance. I want to thank you for the support system you’ve provided me. I’ll always have Fox to turn to for help on my cases, no matter how serious they may be. And Sydney. It’s great that she’s beautiful and smart and independent and won’t put up with any nonsense from me. But that’s not it. There’s nothing she can’t handle. I can talk to her about a case or a decision I’m struggling with and she’ll always know what needs to be said or done. Always. I honestly believe that she’s better at what I do than I am.

Are there some things that I wish you’d do a little differently? Yes. But I have Sydney and Fox and that tells me that I’ll be able to navigate my way through anything that walks in my door. Thank you.

Yours,

Andrew Banks

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100th Post!

Photo Credit: newblood.com

Wow. How in the world did I manage to reach 100 posts? When I started this blog all the way back at the beginning of June last year I did so because I wanted an outlet to discuss the ups and downs of writing my first book. I loved sharing that experience with every one of you who happened to follow along. And now it’s growing faster than I can churn out relevant posts. Before I continue, I would just like to say thank you for spending your precious time reading this thing. I write my posts for me, but I love knowing that there’s always someone out there who will read them.

So, let’s see what the heck I’ve dedicated these 100 posts to.

80 – the number of posts about my own book/writing! Holy crap! I honestly didn’t know it was quite that many. What the heck are y’all doing reading so much about that? Can’t be that great.

15 – the number of posts about reading, publishing, or books in general. These have pretty much all come in the last month or so. And a few of them are way up on my list of most popular posts ever.

5 – the number of posts about miscellaneous topics. I can actually think of all of these off the top of my head.

The most popular post by far, and I mean it’s gotten like five times the number of views as the next on the list was Print vs. E-Book: Which side are you on?

The longest post in terms of its word count was A Valentine’s Day Duel: Ron & Hermione vs. Katniss & Peeta at 966 words.

The second, third, fourth, and fifth most popular posts were:

2. My Book, Divided Within, Available N0w!

3. Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read

4. Self Publishing with CreateSpace: My Experience

5. Cover Art Revealed: Divided Within

I’m currently at 131 WordPress followers and I’ve had 254 Likes on this bad boy.

So that’s it! 100 posts down and oh so many more to come! Thanks for reading! It’s been a blast so far.

Blog Tour Info

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be going on a blog tour to help promote my first book. I also mentioned that I would have the details of said tour at some point. Well, I have them to share.

I’m using Sage’s Blog Tours for my tour and it will span the dates of January 6-27. You might be thinking that I have plenty of time to find tour hosts and stuff like that, but since my tour will have a heavy focus on reviews it really isn’t that much time at all.

Before I give you the link to possibly become a tour host, I’d first like to tell you guys what I’ll be needing (even though it’s clearly displayed if click the link.)

The tour will be 15-20 stops and I’m hoping for at least 3/4 of those to be reviews. Of course, I’m not the one working behind the scenes to make that happen, but that’s at least what I’m hoping for at this point. So should you have some desire to be a tour host then you’ll obviously be receiving a FREE copy of my book for review. So there’s that!

The remaining stops will likely be a combination of guest posts made by me or author interviews. Also, it helps if you currently write reviews, so if you’d like to be a host but you don’t review books then feel free to allow a guest post or schedule an interview. It goes without saying that your blog must be book related to participate.

If you’re interested all you have to do is click here! Check out my cool banner.

Divided(1)

Chapter Four in the Books

Divided Within (Andrew Banks #1)

I’d promised to tell you all about a new chapter either this past Sunday or Monday. Well, obviously I didn’t, BUT I have some extraordinary news for all of you! Really.

I’m sure most of you will remember my offering my book for free a couple of weeks ago. It was my attempt to get my book into the hands of as many new readers as possible, and I thought it was wildly successful. At the time. As we all know, this past Monday was Cyber Monday, one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. I’ll get back to that in a second.

After my one free day a couple of weeks ago I read a book called Winning with KDP Select: 5 Steps to Hit #1 in the Amazon Free Store. This was after I’d sold what I thought was a good amount of books during my free day, 206. This book outlines several sites that really promote Kindle free days, usually for a minimum fee or no cost at all. After reading this book I decided to offer my book for free once again on Cyber Monday because of what I now believed to be a lack luster attempt at utilizing KDP Select my first time. Well, although I chose not to use every tip listed in the book, I used most of what was offered and I managed to sell 6531 books during my two free days! I’ve read stories of authors selling far more and I believe it, but that number is fantastic for me. My goal going in was 1000. I think I reached that around noon the first day.

For those of you wondering what KDP Select is, it’s a program offered by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing that allows authors to enlist their books in the program for 90 day periods. Each period the author is given five free promo days that he or she can choose to use or not. The drawback is that the eBook must be exclusive to Kindle during those 90 days.

Andrew Banks Book Two

I do have a new chapter to talk about with you guys. I mentioned last week that Andrew and Sydney were planning to add to their small family. I won’t elaborate further, but that plays heavily into the chapter that follows. The two of them are literally running around with these giant smiles across their faces and telling any person who will listen. Andrew also comes to realize the importance of the job ahead of him. He’s set to attend a major event with his client and it’s nothing but money, politicians, and celebrities attending.

That’s all I have for now!

Don’t forget that my first book is permanently $0.99 in the Kindle store if you haven’t taken advantage of any of my free days! Get it here! And free for Kindle Owners with Prime memberships!

I’ll have that picture I promised from Andrew’s office for you guys soon!

Lastly, I’ve now come up with the title for the second book! But like I did with the first one, I’ll be revealing that a little later in the writing process. Stay tuned!

First Month Sales Info

Every self published author sets out with some goal in mind as far as how many books he or she would like to sell in a given period of time. I’m no different. My first month has finally come and gone and I would now like to take the opportunity to give you all a little information about my first month goal and where my sales were relative to that goal.

Let’s first start with my first month goal. Again, every author sets his or her own goal, so this may be very different from the next author. I wanted to sell 75 books my first month. And I was well on my way to that number early in November, but I ultimately fell a bit short. My final number as of writing this is 74. This includes my selling books in person, paperbacks on Amazon, and the Kindle version. Normally this might be a little disappointing. But you’ll recall that I had a day a couple of weeks ago in which the Kindle version of my book was free. Well I won’t include this number in my ‘sales’ pile, but I certainly keep it in mind. When I add in that day along with books that were given away to those who helped make the book possible my number now reaches 287. Which is quite fantastic if you ask me. My book is in the hands of 287 readers. And several being in the UK, Germany, Canada, and Italy. That’s just cool.

So yes, I fell short of the first month goal I set for myself long before my book was released, but by no means was the first month a failure. And I’ll take a couple of books with me to work today to see if I can hopefully reach that 75. Wish me luck!

Also, I’ve started work on the next chapter and will have that to share with you guys either tomorrow or Monday.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to speak with someone working in law enforcement yesterday who loved my book! He was able to point out even the most minute details and could easily answer every question I had about his reading experience. I can honestly say that talking with him has been the best feeling I’ve experienced in my short time being a writer. Someone in law enforcement likes my detective story!

Don’t take his word for it, make up your own mind! Take a look at the Amazon product page.

I’m Going on Tour!

That’s right, folks, I’ve already scheduled my first nationwide tour to help promote my new book! I’ll of course be starting in my hometown of Houston, then I’ll have two stops in Arizona, one in California, one in Seattle, and then I’ll be flying cross country for two stops in New York and one in Washington DC and finish up in Miami. Isn’t that so exciting?! Well…it would be if it were true. Ha! I apologize to you if you believed every word of that.

BUT I am going on a blog tour to help promote my book! AND I am excited! We’re still in the early early early planning stages so I don’t have much more information for you at this point. I’ll be sure to share any details with you guys as soon as I have them. It probably won’t start until the beginning of the year, so we have plenty of time to hash out the details. It should be between 15-20 blog stops and most will be reviewing my book. I’ll give you guys the necessary links later on in case any of you would like to participate!

I also would like to talk about my current sales numbers. Before I released my book on October 29 I had a number in mind as to how many books I wanted to sell the first month. I’m happy to reveal to you all that I’m nearing my goal! I’m already more than two-thirds of the way there!

Help me reach it! I know some of you have got to be just a little interested in my book. Only $2.99 on Kindle! Come on! Buy it, buy it, buy it!

Take a look at the Amazon product page! And read the reviews!

Self Publishing with CreateSpace: My Experience

I’ve been promising you guys a post dedicated to my experience self publishing. Well, I’m finally going to make good on that promise. I’m going to go through all of the steps that it took for me to transform my manuscript into a book. The timeline will cover the entire book writing process, even before I began the self publishing process. So, let’s begin.

May 31, 2013 – First chapter complete

Some of you have followed my blog since its inception at the start of June. For those of you who haven’t, now you know that the first chapter of my book, Divided Within, was written all the way back in May. This came less than two weeks after I walked across the stage at my university graduation ceremony.

August 15, 2013 – CreateSpace account setup

After pushing through almost three months of writing my first book and looking into the prospect of finding an agent to represent my work or self publishing, I’d decided to self publish my first book, for a number of reasons. But in deciding this I had to make a decision regarding which self publishing company I’d actually use. There are about a million out there and most have at least one benefit. I was still in the process of writing the first draft of my book, but I’d decided that CreateSpace was the way to go for me.

August 26, 2013 – First draft complete

On this lovely day down here in Texas when most college students were returning to school I’d managed to finally finish my first book. It was a remarkable feeling because there could be no more thoughts coursing through my head questioning whether or not I could do it, I’d done it!

September 15, 2013 – Beta readers offer feedback

My beta readers actually received the second draft of my book. I’d already read through it once and made some necessary changes. The feedback was mostly positive and each reader sent me pages of notes to look over.

September 17, 2013 – Initial contact made with CreateSpace

This was when I first logged onto my CreateSpace account and began the publishing process. At this point in time I notified them that I would be purchasing a custom cover, interior design, Kindle conversion service, Library of Congress Control Number, and 500 bookmarks. The prices for these items is as follows: cover – $399, interior – $349, Kindle conversion – $79, LCCN – $49, bookmarks – $139. The grand total came to $1026 with tax. I didn’t pay this on this date. I’m sure some of you are wondering why in the world would I pay a thousand dollars to publish my book. Well, these services are not required to use CreateSpace. An author can do everything his or her self and pay nothing. At this point in time I wanted my book to be as professional as possible.

September 19, 2013 – Initial consultation with CreateSpace representative to discuss services I’d shown interest in

The woman I spoke with was both friendly and knowledgeable. I had a list of questions that she was able to answer without hesitation. We discussed all of the above services I’ve mentioned and this was the first time I learned that I’d be receiving twenty complimentary copies of my book with my order. I was surprised and happy that I’d get to give the people who helped my book make it this far a free copy. I was unprepared at this point to pay and we settled for my paying the next business day. I paid the full $1026 at that time.

October 2, 2013 – Design team consultation

This first consultation with my design team was meant to give me the opportunity to discuss exactly what I wanted done with my book. The major topics would include the cover design and the interior formatting. But by this point I’d decided to use their free cover generator instead of having them design the cover for me. I told this to the person I spoke with and she told me that based on my responses to the cover questionnaire that she thought it was a good decision made by me. The covers that I’d mentioned were not highly complex and I felt I could easily come up with something using the free cover creator that I would be proud of. She immediately issued the refund for the cover service of $399. I’d prepared for the other services and we quickly decided the interior formatting and the bookmarks. The entire call took about fifteen minutes when they’re typically well over an hour according to the person I spoke with.

October 7, 2013 – Full interior complete

This was remarkably fast. They had given me a two week window in which they would be working on my interior formatting and had it ready only five days after the consultation with the design team. I was greatly impressed. I took this opportunity to read all the way through my book for the third and final time. In doing so I found somewhere around 35 errors that needed fixing. CreateSpace allows for up to 200 textual changes after the initial interior is complete, so I was well within that threshold. I made the necessary corrections within a Word document they provide and sent the manuscript back.

October 18, 2013 – Full interior complete with my changes

This is where it gets a little rocky. Just a little. I received what I hoped would be my final proof of the book, but there was a problem. Not a single one of my changes was actually made. This leads me to believe that no one ever actually looked at it before sending it back to me. I was upset, but let me be clear, by no means do I think this was done on purpose or in negligence. I know that CreateSpace publishes a great many books each year and mine was not the only one being worked on at the time. I called the support number and she expressed concern as to how this happened and agreed to have my changes made within three business days because I’d already had to wait for it.

October 23, 2013 – Final proof received and approved

True to her word, I received my final digital proof on that third business day and every mistake I’d corrected was in fact corrected. I jumped for joy. I was incredibly excited because I thought my book was all set to be released at the click of a button. But no, I’d also be receiving a physical proof. The celebration had to wait just a little while longer.

October 29, 2013 – Physical proof received and book released

I received my author proof and almost cried when I had it in my hands. I’d read countless forum discussions and posts discussing the quality of the books printed. In some cases as much as half the order was said to be damaged. But my book was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I logged onto my CreateSpace account and my book was officially released.

October 30, 2013 – Amazon product page online

The CreateSpace website told me that the Amazon product page would be online within 5-7 business days of my book’s release. Well, like every other timeline they gave me this one was very generous in its time frame. I woke the next morning to the sound of thunder outside my window and found my Amazon product page to be up and running. I was ecstatic. The world finally had the opportunity to read MY book!

November 7, 2013 – Kindle edition published and first book signing

The Kindle edition was said to be released within fifteen business days of the release of the print edition of my book. Well, again CreateSpace outdid itself and got it online within eight total days.

My first book signing took place on the campus of the University of Houston Downtown, where I graduated from in May. They were holding a criminal justice majors day, which was my degree, and invited me back. I’d only been given a two day notice and had to scramble to make a display, but I did and the signing was overwhelmingly successful. I was able to sell 21 of the 25 books I took with me with a number of students and professors expressing great pride in the fact that a UHD alum had written a book so soon after graduation.

November 8, 2013 – Bookmark order refunded

The order of bookmarks that I’d originally placed was refunded because they still had not begun work on them and I didn’t want to wait any longer. Bookmarks are really more of a perk than anything, so I decided to order some business cards instead to give out at signings and events so that people knew how to get in contact with me.

Conclusion

If I had to rate my experience with CreateSpace I would probably give it a 97%. You’re probably thinking about the issues that I described above as lowering the score far more than three percentage points, but I don’t think so. The issue with the interior was quickly resolved and the bookmarks were never a necessity. Every timeline I was given for a service to be completed was easily met and every person I talked to over the phone was able to quickly answer any questions I had. CreateSpace allowed me to price the book fairly, whereas other self publishers force the author to price high in order to make any money. The books printed are no lower quality than what you might find from a traditional publisher. The total cost ended up at $477. And the books are sold to me from CreateSpace at only the cost of printing, which is very low.

I would absolutely recommend CreateSpace to any author looking to self publish. Keep in mind that I only discussed the services I used. They offer editing, marketing materials such as posters, business cards, and postcards. They offer the free cover creator or a cover design service.

I hope any reader of this post feels a bit more knowledgeable about the self publishing process with CreateSpace!

If you’d like to see their work for yourself, then buy my book! It’s available in print and on Kindle! The Amazon page can be accessed here.