Starting a New Series

I returned from the Indie Romance Convention recently, pumped and ready to write. However, reality set in after that and the writing got pushed aside. That happens way too often for me so I’m always trying to balance home life, work life, AVON, and writing.

Most of my writing starts in my head. I hear people having conversations or ‘see’ scenes with my characters involved. Since I released book 1 and 2 in The Vaedra Chronicles (The Abduction and Revenge), my intention was to release book 3 sometime early next year. I’m still working out the character traits and their goals, motivation and conflict (GMC). Once I get all of that done, the story falls into place more or less. If I change a couple of things, the whole story can shift. I want this to be a great story so I’m trying to cover my bases in the set up phase.

In the meantime, I have another series that I started years ago but didn’t submit to publishers. I was so engrossed in getting book 1 out that I didn’t submit anything else at the time. I call it the Angel Series. I looked around at all the paranormal books out there and most of them were about demons, vampires, shape-shifters, and versions combining some of them. I thought, ‘what else is there?’ and realized no one had written about Angels. Yes, there are some fallen angels, but not too many at the time (this was YEARS ago, mind you).

So, my first story is about an angel who manifests in the flesh to save a girl from being the next victim after she witnesses a murder. But in the process, he discovers that he had once been human. While she falls for him, she convinces him to stay ‘in the flesh’ longer so he can discover who he was and how he died.

My research into angels turned up some interesting stuff. For instance, angels are shape-shifters. They can turn into human form or animal form to convey messages for God. After all, they are messengers. Angels are time travelers. They can travel to another place or time in the space of a ‘thought.’ Angels do not feel as we do. They more or less love as God loves us. They also have understanding and knowledge that we don’t. They may see our future or know the outcome of something that we can’t know. And they are spirit beings (same as people) only they aren’t trapped in a body. And they fight spiritual battles.

I try to show some of this in my story, “Between Heaven and Earth.” But before I release it, there’s a lot of self-editing I must do. Then it’s off to the editor, while I have someone design a cover for me. Then with the ‘tweaking’ and rewrites, I’ll send it back to the editor once more. This time, I may send off the pdf to my Launch Team to get their critique on it before the final formatting for both eBook and print book.

I also had a story, “The Quest” which was a re-telling of the story of Tobit, that I wanted to get out first. It’s more or less a setup for the Angel Series world. I thought I had it on my computer, but now I can’t find it. Maybe it was all in my head. In any case, I want to release that story first, so I’ll have to go through all the same procedures for that one as well.

I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me between now and next year. I had planned to go to Illogicon in January, 2018, South Florida in February, 2018, Weekend With  The Authors in March, 2018, the Romantic Times Convention in Reno in May, 2018, and possibly RWA in July. Hopefully, I’ll have more than book 1 and book 2 available.

See you next week with chapter 1 of “Between Heaven and Earth.”

Romancing the Smokies

Those who follow me know I write sci-fi and paranormal romance.

My first book, “The Abduction,” has been out since last April as an ebook and last July as a print book.  

My second book, “Revenge,” was supposed to debut this month but it looks more like April before it’s ready.

With that being said, I will bring my sci-fi adventure romance book to the “Romancing the Smokies” event this Friday-Saturday (March 17th-18th) at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa, TN.  I went last year as a reader and had a blast.  I met lots of authors and other readers at this event.  There were parties, networking opportunities, great food, an auction for a pet shelter in Newport, and many other things I can’t even remember.  I know I spent over $100 in great books (all autographed by the authors).  This year, I will be attending as an author for the first time.

I’m bringing some goodies for the “goodie bags,” a special gift for each attendee for Friday night’s “Gathering on the Emerald Isle,” special goodies for people at my luncheon table, and a special basket for the  “Baskets for Bebo” segment which donates the money to the Newport Animal Shelter.

All the lettering on the glasses were hand-done by Nastausha at The Chest and Chair. www.thechestandchair.com 

Inside the basket, I have AVON products like bubble bath, shower gel, body lotion, sun tan lotion, nail products, a credit card case, water bottle, jewelry, the special wine glass, wine from The Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville, TN, my book, “The Abduction,” and of course, chocolate.

I hope you can join us for a fun-filled event this weekend.  It’s not too late to get tickets.  Go to: www.romancingthesmokies.com.  If you can’t make it, I will be posting some images to this blog and my Facebook page.  You can follow me at www.facebook.com/esterlopez.1

Screenwriting Advice

Looking over some older interviews, I thought I would share some advice from screenwriters I have met. Some of these insights have helped me.  I hope they help you.  Enjoy!

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“The best advice, of course, is to write. Write all the time. Beyond that, get involved. Every community has their aspiring filmmakers and those filmmakers are generally always looking for scripts. Find out how you can work with them to get your name out there. With the opening up of the movie industry, there are so many possibilities. If you can’t find others to work with, make your own film. Just do it! Don’t let any mountain be an obstacle.” Screenwriter, Debra Doggett

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“Two things stand out in my learning process. First, screenwriting is hard but exhilarating. Second, it pays to write both the book and the script as well. James Dalessendro who was one of the speakers at our San Francisco mini-conference told me he does the same thing and encouraged me to continue that process.” Screenwriter, Evelyn Morgan

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“Identify your strengths and make those your mantras, and then persist.” Screenwriter Nancy Haddock

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“It takes a long time to hone your craft. I’ve been writing scripts for only four years and with every script I write, my writing skills get stronger, my structural skills get stronger, and my confidence builds.  I script doctor a little on the side as well.  One of my clients was frustrated with his lack of progress since he began writing two years ago and asked me if he should give up.  My answer was ‘Hell, no!’  It takes years to hone your skills.  I’m not there yet.  Sure, I’ve had some success at this, but you can’t just throw your hands up in the air if you don’t place in a contest or no one ever reads your synopsis on Inktip.  You just have to write a better story, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Get yourself into a writers’ group or form one yourself with other writers, and by writers, I mean screen-writers.  Don’t think for a moment that your family members, friends, or even your fiction writers’ group can give you the type of feedback you need on scripts.  I’ve been with the same group for two years now.  We call ourselves ‘The Strivers’ – we’re all striving for success in this business.  We meet every three weeks religiously, have strict guidelines for critiquing, and really try to help each other move the ball forward.  We talk about our frustrations, we talk about screenwriting in general, we talk about the industry, we celebrate each members’ achievements, and we provide the type of moral support screenwriters need, knowing the odds that face us.  Get yourself a posse.  It’s worked wonders for me.

The other advice I’d give to other writers is that writing the script is only half the job.  Once you write FADE OUT, your job isn’t over.  Phase One is over.  Phase Two, the marketing Phase, is just beginning.  You need to keep in mind that with every script you have, you need to have a business plan for that script, to get it sold or produced.  That’s the end game.  This means time spent with the Hollywood Creative Directory.  This means investing in contest entries.  This means sending out a really well-crafted query letter to multiple contacts.  This means sitting down and putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and creating a physical business plan for each script.”  Screenwriter, Karen Webb

 

Things I Would Do Differently

After launching my first book earlier this year, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Of course, I thought I knew all the steps before I took them, but I also knew I would learn something from this venture.

Even after self-editing, sending the book off to an editor, revising, and proof-reading, I still caught some things that I missed.

Lesson #1 – When self-editing, do a spell check, grammar check, eliminate passive words, check dialog by reading it out loud, then transfer the manuscript to something else (printed copy, ebook, PDF to proofread)

Lesson #2 – After self-editing, use a critique group or beta readers to catch extraneous or overused words, run-on sentences, redundancies, places to tighten dialog or paragraphs, unclear scenes or transitions, tonal shifts, or unnatural phrasing or pacing.

Lesson #3 – Make any corrections or revisions necessary.

Lesson #4 – Send to editor.

Lesson #5 – Revise, self-edit and let someone else proof-read.

Lesson #6 – Make any corrections necessary then send to different beta readers for content editing.

Lesson #7 – Self-edit one final time.

Lesson #8 – Create metadata (everything about your book that is not your book) and use this in the long blurb (back cover) and in the short blurb (used for marketing purposes). Create a text file of these keywords and update every 30 days.

Lesson #9 – Create finished document parts. This is something I wish I had done more thoroughly. I had some of this, but this list is more extensive. Some of these apply to non-fiction as well as fiction:
-about the author
-testimonials/endorsements
-acknowledgements
-dedication
-foreward
-afterward
-personal note
-reader’s guide
-translation key
-index
-bibliography
-maps/tables/illustrations
-disclaimer
-excerpts/previews
-more books
-links/QR codes

Lesson #10 – Notify contractors
-cover artists
-interior graphic designer
-layout draftsman/final formatter
1.formatting – title graphics, scene breaks, cover, drop caps, bleed

Lesson #11 – Notify Influencers
-for testimonials and endorsements
-street team members
-reviewers

Lesson #12 – Line up Marketing Efforts
-Facebook
-Google +
-Twitter
-Instagram
-LinkedIn
-Pinterest
-Press Releases
-Blog Tours
-Goodreads
-Library Thing
-Interviews
-Online Launch Party
-Facebook live streaming parties with giveaways
-Pay for Ads on Release Day

Lesson #13 – Write or Produce something NEW every 90 days!

I’m sure I can learn something with each new book, but this is enough to keep me busy for now. A special thanks to Hallee Bridgeman and Greg Bridgeman for their detailed information in their “Seven Steps to Successful Self-Publishing.” I got a lot of new information on the self-editing process from listening to their talk. If you ever have the chance to take one of their classes, jump on it. You will learn a lot!

Getting the Word Out

The biggest problem in launching a new book is getting the word out. How can anyone buy a book if they don’t know it’s available? How can anyone buy anything if they don’t know it exists, right?

Well, I’ve started working with what I have: A Facebook page, a website, two blogs, an Author Page in Goodreads, and three stores: Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and Writing & Photographic Services, LLC.

Another way is to advertise. After telling everyone on my Facebook page, websites and Goodreads, I decided to get some help.

My book is available for review on Reading Alley (www.readingalley.com). You can click on the link and it will take you to a page where you can select “The Abduction” for review.

You can also enter my Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win one of 25 autographed copies of the print book.
https://www.goodreads.com/giveway/show/202771-the-abduction
I’m also looking into a few other options. So, stay tuned for more updates.

If you haven’t already gotten your FREE companion book, The Vaedra Chronicles, go to my website: www.esterlopez.com and get your FREE book. Once you receive it, you should get a second email with the FREE Preview Chapter of The Abduction.

If you like the book, please feel free to review it on Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, or on my publishing website: www.writingandphotographicservices.com, or on Goodreads.

Six Steps to a Successful Book Signing

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with readers at the Thunder Road Author Rally in Maynardville, Tennessee.
This was my first book signing since my book was released. I learned six things that I can do to make my next book signing more successful.

1. Engage the reader – ask questions
a. What do you like to read?
b. What’s your favorite book?
c. Who’s your favorite Author?

2. Tie in my book to their responses, if possible, by giving comparisons to other books like mine

3. Thank them for their interest

4. Give them something to remember me and my book
a. Bookmark with my book’s title
b. Social Media contact info on back of bookmark
c. Promo pens with my website on it

5. Network with other authors
a. Get their take on book signings
b. Take notes on successful displays
c. Ask questions

6. Follow Up
a. Follow up with contacts I make at book signings
b. Take action on what I learned or apply new knowledge to what I do from here on out

After The Ebook Launch

Now that my book, “The Abduction,” is available on Smashwords and Amazon, my work as a published author is just beginning.

I found an article from Author Media which lists more than 89 book marketing tips.  The article was written by Caitlin Muir.

So, I begin with her first ten tips:

  1. Create a testimonial page on my website–I’m not sure I know how to do that, but I will be looking into it this week.
  2. Add the free “My Book Progress” plugin to my WordPress website to update my visitors about the status of my upcoming book–since I’ve already launched my book, I’ll add this to let people know about my next book, “Revenge.”
  3. Retweak the SEO on my website–now this is something I know nothing about.  Since I changed my website:  http://esterlopez.com to add a landing page for a FREE book giveaway (“The Vaedra Chronicles”), I haven’t figured out how to get people back to the regular website without going back to the landing page.  I have some work cut out for me here.
  4. Ask fans to post their reviews on my Facebook page–I will as soon as someone buys my book (unless I come up with another idea)
  5. Ask fans to post their reviews on Amazon–the same as above, however, Amazon is good at asking for reviews as well.  They ask me all the time what I think about a purchase I made.
  6. Ask fans to post their reviews on Goodreads–I definitely will do that!
  7. Sign up for Twitter–I have been tweeting for some time, so I guess I better get the word out about my book!
  8. Clean up my social footprint–I’m not sure what she meant by that, but I have been posting here about my journey as a writer, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  I can see where I can do more for my journey by going through LinkedIn and Google+.
  9. Create an author Facebook page and use it instead of my profile page–I will definitely look into that.  I heard you can have more friends on an author page than on the regular Facebook page.
  10. Sign up for Google Authorship–now that is something new to me.  I will also look into this as well as the nine tips before.  Stay tuned for my report next week on how I did with all these improvements/tips.

Book Launch

Today is the day I upload my book to Smashwords and Amazon.  Once they approve everything, then the book will be available on their sites.

I’m giving away the companion book to “The Abduction” called “The Vaedra Chronicles.”  This book gives background information about the planetary system and some of the races living on those planets.  There’s information about the main characters, interviews, and graphics.  To get yours FREE, go to my website:  http//:esterlopez.com and sign up for my Readers Group.  You’ll get a PDF download of the book plus another FREE gift for signing up, a first chapter of “The Abduction.”

I’m looking forward to my debut as an author!

 

20 Steps to Publishing Your Book

While this is still a journey for me, there are many more things I will learn as I go.  Here are twenty things I’ve found helpful so far in the publishing end of it.  I’m sure I will have to tweak or add to this list later.  There was a lot of trial and error going into this and for me, the journey started 33 years ago with a lot of interruptions, but this is a simple list.  Use what you can.  Good luck!

20 Steps to Publishing Your Book

  1.  Write, eat, sleep, repeat
  2.  Join a writer’s group (local and national)
  3.  Go to conferences (attend workshops & network)
  4.  Take classes online or in person or at conferences
  5.  Write, eat, sleep, repeat
  6.  Find a critique partner/group and exchange critiques on a regular basis
  7.  Submit manuscript to contests for feedback
  8.  Re-write, edit, tweak that manuscript
  9.  Submit manuscript to publishers  OR
  10.  Find an independent editor (conferences are helpful for this) and submit work
  11.  Go over manuscript and fix/re-write/tweak whatever the editor suggests
  12.  Purchase “The Self-Publishers Ultimate Resource Guide” by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent and implement some of their suggestions:                             a.  hire editors                                                                     b.  hire proofreaders                                                           c.  get quotes from printers                                               d.  find distributors for Ebook & Print Book
  13.  Read/purchase Dan Poynter’s book, “The Self-Publishing Manual” (this is the Bible for Self-Publishing)                                                                         a.  make a plan                                                                   b.  set goals                                                                         c.  determine whether or not to form your own publishing company
  14.  Join IBPA (Independent Book Publishing Association) and absorb all the information you can on self-publishing  (they have workshops, marketing programs, and conferences)
  15.  Take Nick Stephenson’s First 10K Readers program and learn how to market your book — Implement his ideas
  16.  Build a website for your Publishing Company
  17.  Build your platform and web presence if you haven’t already started this
  18.  Get your ducks in a row (make sure your website is ready as well as your book)
  19.  Market, market, market and promote your book (this is where Nick Stephenson’s program really comes in handy)
  20.  Start writing book #2 and repeat

Publishing in 2016

Now that I’ve set up my publishing business, there’s a lot to learn about the publishing industry.  While writing is a solitary activity, publishing usually requires teamwork.

I can write my books, edit them, and re-write them, but to polish them, I need another set of eyes to check for grammar, spelling mistakes, plot holes, and other things that could slip past me.  That’s where an editor comes in.  Then after the editor edits my work, I re-write and fix any mistakes.  The next step would be to have a proofreader check to see that everything is corrected and there aren’t any mistakes left on the manuscript.  Then there is the formatting for the print version and the formatting for the ebook.

But another point to consider is distribution of the book.  Many of my writer friends are selling ebooks and working with CreateSpace for a “print on demand” format.  The books tend to be larger than the paperbacks I’m used to reading and the price is higher than what I would like to pay for a paperback.

I figured that I would use Amazon as one ebook format and Smashwords for the distribution of all other formats of ebooks.  But for the print books, I would like to get the size down to 5 x 8 or 4 x 6 which is more like the books I have in my personal library.  To do that, I have to print enough books to get the price low.  But unlike traditional publishers, that money must come out of my pocket up front to cover the costs.  Then, what do I do with all those books?  I don’t want to store them in a room, hoping to sign them at a book signing.  No, I want to get them into stores (brick and mortar) and sell them.

Recently, I joined the IBPA, The Independent Book Publishers Association. They have a wealth of knowledge to share with newbies like me.  Now I don’t have to fear the learning curve.  Sure it will take time and action on my part, but I think it will be worth it in the end.

The old way involved years of writing, submitting, waiting to hear from a publisher (because they didn’t want you to submit your work to any other publisher until they gave you an answer).  Once I got a response from a publisher ten years after I submitted the manuscript.  Ten Years!!!!  Needless to say, I didn’t wait for that response.  I had changed the manuscript several times by then and had submitted it over and over again to other publishers.

Then, once someone decided to buy your manuscript, you may or may not get an advance.  Now, since I hadn’t officially published with anyone else in fiction, I got this information from my writer friends who did.  If they didn’t get an advance, that meant they got more money per book as they were sold.  Mostly, it was pennies per book.  Pennies!! After spending years working on manuscripts that’s all you could expect to earn.

I am so glad the publishing industry has changed.  There used to be a stigma on self-publishing, but not any more.  And if I do my homework, there are ways I can market my books to earn more than pennies per book. I want to make a living with my writing, so that means I have to write a lot of books and market them well to earn enough money to live on.

Right now I’m assembling my team.  I’ll keep you posted on the next phase.