goodreads

What Everyone Who Loves Books Needs to Know

This is your writer speaking.

And what indie writer Ninie Hammon has to say is what EVERY writer–famous our not–would love to say if they weren’t worried about coming off as pushy, demanding, ungrateful or off-putting.

In today’s world, your open and vocal support has become something we cannot do without.

Once upon a time, a writer could just leave it up to the Fates whether their book caught on or not after the usual period of publisher hype. Now, there IS no hype–particularly for indie authors like myself–without the help of readers who like our work. If those readers don’t talk about us on Facebook, add us on Goodreads, review us on Amazon or rave about us on Twitter, we will most likely go nowhere very fast.

I didn’t realise just how much things had changed until my publisher recently informed me that without more reviews on Amazon, I could not ‘unlock’ better promotional support from Amazon itself.

Most people indie or self-publishing now don’t even realise the game changed last year, six months ago, even last month.

Think you’ll get traction by joining Goodreads? Maybe. If you give away a lot of books you might get a few reviews back, and thank your luck stars for those. Now let’s just hope they liked it.

Twitter freak who can charm anyone in 140 characters? Guess what? There are more writers following those writing/reading/publishing accounts on Twitter than readers. Yup. You’re mostly likely trying to sell your book to someone else who’s trying to sell you their book too. And in any case, are you really more charming than Neil Gaiman or Chuck Wendig? ‘Cause they’re your real competition.

Great blog you worked on for years? See Chuck Wendig’s site. Then go cry in a corner. Oh, and don’t be surprised if your blog followers are interested in…you know, your blog. People don’t usually follow other people just to buy stuff from them. In other words, be grateful if your followers love you enough to give your book a read. Be over the moon if they review it. A blog isn’t a marketing tool to readers and just talking about your stuff is no guarantee anyone will buy it.

Think you can join Wattpad and get more attention that way? Traditional authors are already way ahead of you. If you weren’t there already, building up a loyal fan base and adding friends and getting down with the community, prepare to roll up your sleeves before you see any real results. And if you do adult scifi like I do, then you run into the wall of YA love that puts every paranormal, urban fantasy or contemporary YA a la John Greene way ahead of you in the queue. Don’t expect millions of readers no matter how good you are. Do expect to compete for attention with long established writers like Cory Doctrow.

Facebook master? Good for you. I hope you have a lot of friends. Because whatever that number is, divide it by 1000 and that’s how many will actually share your writing updates or requests for reviews. And the writers groups are usually about supporting and critiquing and not cool with promotion, so you make a nuisance of yourself and end up getting kicked out if you try the hard sell. And if you do join a group that’s cool with promotion–you’ve most likely just entered the same game that Twitter has going.

Giving your manuscript away for free on NetGalley and LibraryThing so you can get more reviews and buzz? Even if you book is amazing, the number of reviews is usually quite low because EVERYONE is doing the same thing, and overwhelming the good-hearted readers on those sites. While we’re at it, sending off requests to people who joined sites and offered honest reviews in return for free books no longer works either. They’re even more overwhelmed than the NetGalley guys.

What about paying to get reviews from sites like Kirkus or sending your book to Publishers’ Weekly? Standard practice. For everyone. Kirkus reviews do nothing for most people in terms of sales. And even if Publishers’ Weekly likes you, that doesn’t reach readers as much as it reaches the industry.  Readers see those tags on the backs of every book they pick up–and their eyes go right over it.

So spend a little and pay to get on a email list like BookBub then, right? Nope. BookBub has so many people banging on their doors, they’ve become very select and more traditionally published books are on their lists than indie books now because traditional publishers usually have the Goodreads and Amazon ratings needed to meet their high standards and they have the cash to take the big deals too. Indie books generally get on if they have hundreds of good ratings–and they’re offering the book for free. Which sort of defeats every purpose except maybe hoping to get a review back. But since these lists operate to give readers cheap new books, not authors new reviews, a review is a possible and hoped for by-product, not a guarantee.

Well, the great God Amazon will be your saviour.

Wrong. Amazon is in business to make money. And if you’re not part of their imprints, you are a distant second. So those ‘recommended’ listings you see, those ‘people who bought X also bought Y’ ratings, even your place in the rankings after sales–they can all be paid for by traditional publishers. Indie and self-publishers can’t depend on that. And remember how you could just put out a good book with a nice cover, get a bunch of high ratings, climb the charts and reap the extra attention all the way to Hugh Howey sized success?

No longer.

Amazon changes their formulas regularly just to make sure they can’t be gamed again like they were in the past by those guys who sell review packages. It’s a constant battle between unethical authors, shady review providers and Amazon that has led to draconian measures like not letting authors review for other authors, and even deleting reviews from close family, usually the only guaranteed reviews authors can count on. Thanks a lot, RJ Ellory and friends.

I could go on and on. As a recently published author, I can tell you I’ve tried just about everything in terms of marketing and promotion. Some things worked okay, some things not at all. Nothing has been a sure-fire winner. And the advice other authors and sites give about how to market is already outdated or has been taken by every other author out there competing with me, so by the time I try to follow it, the paradigm has changed and it’s no longer effective.

Only one thing hasn’t changed. The power of the reader and word of mouth.

If you love a book, if you think it was good, if you enjoyed something recently, then help a writer out. Talk about it. Leave reviews if you can. Follow a blog. A twitter feed. A Goodreads account. Tell your friends. Pass the book on. Say a few words on Amazon or Goodreads. Whatever little you do, it multiples for that writer a thousand-fold and it will be appreciated so much you won’t even understand.

Readers, your casual mention is the difference between us being able to write the next novel, and having to give up so we can work another job. We authors understand that like us, you have busy lives with your own concerns. We don’t expect reviews or social media campaigns. We know it’s not even realistic for most people. But just walking into a Barnes and Noble and asking for a book can make a difference. Passing your copy on to a friend makes a difference. Dropping a rating on Goodreads makes a difference.

On behalf of Ninie and other authors out there, I want to say thank you to all those who have done these things and more for their favourite authors. You are helping deserving writers keep their heads above water in a world inundated with books, good and bad. And what I want to leave you with is the idea that if you want to see more work from someone you read recently, consider lending a helping hand in some way.

Because it’s a new world and the rules are different every day and the only thing that hasn’t changed is that readers and writers both want more good stories out there.

Red Letter Day!

This morning I had a first.

My first ever radio interview! Cheryl Morgan of Ujima Radio in the UK took the time to chat with me about ‘Lex Talionis’, my life as a West Indian and my science fiction influences, among other things. I was so nervous! Hope no one hears it in my voice.

In any case, Cheryl assured me she would edit it so I didn’t sound like an idiot, so I’m going to rely on that to save me.

In other news, I’ve been busy updating around here. You’ll find that the first chapter of ‘Lex Talionis’ is up on this website for your reading pleasure. If you want to know why Publisher’s Weekly called it a ‘stunning debut’, feel free to take a gander. If you like what you see, go ahead and follow the links lying around here to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

If you don’t like either of these sites, you can check out my other links on my newly updated ‘Lex News’ page. All the sites that sell ‘Lex Talionis’ are now listed there, as well as all my recent interviews and reviews.

I also have a great new reader review up on Goodreads, for which I must profusely thank the writer. It has excerpts and everything and she clearly put a lot of time and effort into explaining why she thought ‘Lex Talionis’ deserved five stars. It made my day!

And now back to slacking off a bit, because I’m on a short vacation and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The World Cup is on, guys! Go Brasil! Go Germany! Go Argentina! Go every African nation in the Cup! I’m rooting for you all!

But mostly for Brasil!

Stay thirsty, my friends.

New Stuff!

Hey!

So it’s been terribly exciting around here lately. I have a new Facebook page for Lex Talionis which you can find here.

I’ve also updated the blog–as you probably noticed!–and added links to all the places you can find the book.

As soon as it’s available for pre-order, I’ll let you know.

I also had a whole bunch of Very Important People agree to read the book and say nice things about it if they liked it. Shockingly, one of them did like it. Even more shockingly, this very nice important person went over to my Goodreads page and left a short review.  You can find that here.

And just because some people are truly awesome, that person told the world about my book in a lovely tweet some of you might have seen. If you haven’t, here it is:

So I promptly fainted away.

And then when I woke up, I wrote this post. Just so you know every little thing that’s going on.

And I promise it’s the last time I dance around here blowing my own horn and getting drunk.

At least until my birthday. Which is in two weeks.

🙂

 

My First Review Is Up on Goodreads!

I can’t believe it!

Someone read my book–it’s on NetGalley if you’re a blogger and want to review it–and decided to post a review.

Icing on the cake? Four stars!!!

*Faints with joy*

Is that even possible? To faint with joy? Oh who cares! I’m pretty sure I just did it :-).

You can read the review here.

They never tell you how great it feels to know that someone in the world liked it. Even if no one else ever does, I know someone in the world was moved by my story.

That’s just priceless.

Thank you, awesome reviewer!

Excited reaction gifs

‘Lex Talionis’ Is Now On Goodreads

Feeling very proud of myself as I took the first step yesterday toward posting my novel Lex Talionis on Goodreads!

I totally figured out how to do this on my own.

What? It’s hard! You try it!

In any case, I’m waiting for them to let me join the author programme now, so I can update my profile and everything.

If you want to take a look at it being half-way official and everything, you can head over here. Feel free to add it to your ‘to read’ list, or like it, or say nice things about it if the spirit so moves you.

Seriously, I feel so accomplished.

High five reaction gifs

Now I only have to get a Facebook page going.

Lord, I hate Facebook ::sigh:: But I don’t hate connecting with people, so wish me luck!

 

The Next Big Thing

I’m participating in a fun author blog hop called The Next Big Thing.

I was tagged for this exercise by the talented Susan Elizabeth Curnow, who has a wonderful science fiction novel out called Game of Adversaries.

I was lucky enough to read this book at the beta stage and I’m so happy I get to finally see it in print and check out the published ending!

She blogs at http://susanelizabethcurnow.weebly.com/games-of-adversaries.html. Her scifi novel presents unforgettable characters and inventive alien societies clashing over the future of an incredible world.

What is my next big thing?
A science fiction mystery novel coming out in the fall of 2013.

What is the working title of your book?
Lex Talionis (The Law of Revenge).

Where did you get the idea for the book?
Several things came together in my head one night while I was lying in bed. Bats in the roof were keeping me awake, and I’d just seen what my 9 year-old mind thought was one of the best movies ever. A made for TV romp called Ice Pirates. I started thinking about mercenaries flying around space, and how cool it would be if the leader was a tough-as-nails girl.

What genre does your book fall under?
Science Fiction Mystery. Is that even an established genre? No idea.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Lex: Well, that’s a tough one. She’s not classically pretty to my mind, but she’s arresting. I must have dark hair, even if I have to give up her green eyes. I recently discovered Rachel Nichols in Continuum and I like her because she reminds me of Lex, but she’s a bit older than I’d want.

Elena Satine isn’t bad either, but she’s also older. Chloe Grace Moritz and Hailee Stanfield can act the part, and they’re young enough, but are they too young?

And I’m taking this waaaayyy too seriously now.

Michael: Tom Sturridge

Colin: Matthew Morrison might be okay

Anton: Idris Elba in lieu of someone bigger. If I could have someone the size Michael Clarke Duncan and with Idris’ acting chops I’d be in heaven.

Andor: Steven Amell  or Sam Worthington

Ru-ad: Ben Kingsley or Bill Nighy

Oux: Andy Serkis ::grin::.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young woman searches for the her identity–and the men that murdered her–with the help of the alien that brought her back from the dead.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Dragonwell Publishing. http://publishing.dragonwell.org/

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s been in existence in one form or another since I was a teenager. However, I sat down and finished the first real draft over a period of about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not sure I have a genre to compare it to.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I came up with Lex, there weren’t a lot of kick-ass leading women in science fiction. I wanted to write about a real person, with problems, flaws and loves, and I wanted her to be strong and unique, but vulnerable too. I wanted a kick-ass woman I could relate to.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
At its heart, it’s about revenge and the consequences of choosing that course of action. But the universe Lex lives in has humans practically on the bottom rung of the ladder, and I also explore the future of eugenics and how it might influence warfare.

Next up, I’ve tagged awesome authors to participate and tell you about their Next Big Things:

Walter Williams http://renakuzar.livejournal.com/ has a historical fantasy novel coming out from Dragonwell this year called The Garden at the Roof of the World. I had the pleasure of seeing early drafts of this book, and I can tell you, he’s captured the past in beautiful passages that make our history as interesting and wondrous as an alien world.

Tara Maya http://taramayastales.blogspot.com/ has book 6 of her Unfinished Song series launching soon. If you’re looking for a fantasy with a unique magic system, these books are for you!

Welcome

Hello and Welcome!

This blog is about me, you and the stories in-between. I’ll be talking about what moves me, what inspires me, what frustrates me–anything and everything about the craft of writing. As I’m also in the middle of publishing my first novel with an indie publisher, expect to see some of the process as well.

I will probably update this once a week. I’ll only do more if I find I have more to say. But sometimes the blog will be about other things I like too–for example, movies, books, and my mostly quiet life in the Caribbean with my extended family and my shared puppy, Loki. (How is he a shared puppy? Well, he has two mommies, a grandmother, a grandfather and a daddy to start with!)

Feel free to check out the rest of the site. I’m most excited about the area called ‘The Trunk’. There, I’ll post free stories that are finished, but unpolished, polished but never sold, even stories that sold. I’ll also have stories from different stages of my writing development (let’s just say I started a looong time ago). I hope that it will tell you something about me, what I write and where I’m coming from as a writer. Some of those old stories are unsalvageable. Others might be. You, dear reader, get to choose which is which. There is a poll under the stories and if you like an unfinished or old story, then vote on it and I’ll finish the story, just for you. Or re-write it, if that’s what you want. I won’t do so until I get more than a few votes so feel free to vote away.

That’s it for now. Don’t be a stranger.