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Category Archives: Work/Life Balance

Busy bees and other stuff

Those of you who regularly stop by may have noticed that I haven’t been seen around these parts for a while. “Is she pregnant again?” some of you may be asking. “Has she gone missing in action?” “Is she a recent casualty in the war of words between indies and legacy published authors?” The answer to all of these questions is “No.” Although I have to admit to a certain amount of “hmmmpffff” about the first one, as my daughter is starting to settle into the comfortable notion that she might be an only child. We shall see about that!

The real reason for my absence has been the establishment of the Indie Review Tracker website and my involvement in the excellent Indie Chicks Cafe site (blogging once a month or so), as well as a huge pile of editorial tasks I’m working through so I can get back to writing my own WiPs.

I’ve mentioned the idea of Indie Review Tracker on her before, but haven’t, as yet had a chance to formally announce that the site is up and running over at www.indiereviewtracker.com

With more than 200 reviewers, book bloggers, advertisers (both free and paid) and indie service providers (editors, graphic artists, designers and formatters) listed, and more being added by the day, I hope it will be a useful resource for self-published authors and help them easily find reviewers or bloggers, by genre, to help them promote.

It sure was a lot of work getting it up and running, and it is a lot of work to maintain (sourcing content, liaison with my awesome guest bloggers, finding and adding sites). but I *think* it will be worth it in the end. I also invite indie authors, reviewers and bloggers (and practically anyone associated with the indie writing community) to submit their blog, website or author page for free using the Submit Your Site form. So if you would like to be part of it, please do. You can also showcase five-star reviews of fellow indies for free on the IRT Showcase page. You can also submit an idea for a guest post, should you wish. So far, in one month, we’ve had more than 4000 visitors. So please do join in and use the free opportunities to promote your work. The more the merrier.

As loyal followers of this blog (which I will continue to post on sporadically, depending on my content demands for the IRT blog), I’d like to offer you $10 off an annual membership, which means you’ll pay just $4.95 for one year’s membership. You can quickly and easily search for promotional opportunities, create a to-do list of promotional tasks, and be active in the forums. To receive the special offer, just type in the coupon code IRTeasy when you register.

And if nothing else, be sure to pop on over and check out the great content from yours truly and some excellent guest bloggers and indie success stories. www.indiereviewtracker.com

Cheers

Karin

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Promotion and other evils

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Cage Life has had a facelift

Promotion is a funny thing, isn’t it? So time consuming. So draining. And yet, so very necessary for indie authors. I tallied up my total sales last night from the time I first put Cage Life out there on display as a kind of e-publishing experiment. With three books for sale, less than a year after my “experiment,” I have managed to place more than 29,000 books in the hands of readers. To be fair, the vast majority of those (easily 90%) were giveaways, with Growth having always been free and both Cage Life and Hey, Little Sister enjoying good free runs (either as part of Select or pre-select in the FREE boom days).

While that may look like a lot of books, my earnings have been less spectacular, hovering at just over $120. Part of that is because of the freebies, part is that I priced at $0.99 for a long time before I decided to trial a higher price, and part of it is that I’m far from selling the number I would like to be shifting each month. Had I released a novel by now, I might see more of an upswing in sales. It is difficult, I think, to sustain interest in short stories, poetry and children’s books, and the only solution is to ensure I take more time out for me to write. But … I have been countering that with consoling myself that if even one percent of those readers return when I next publish a book, that will be 290 readers I might not have attracted before. I’ve also changed Cage Life’s cover a little in an effort to boost sales, and have been busily sending off more review requests. As a result, I’ve received some wonderful reviews this week (which couldn’t have come at a better time, as health issues have made it a tiring, long and emotional week for me). The lovely mother and daughter team over at Parent’s Little Black Book of Books have reviewed both Cage Life and Hey, Little Sister for me and have given both five-stars, which was a fabulous surprise. You can see the review for my children’s book here, and if you write for kids, young adults or adults, I highly advise you to contact Loretta or Karen, who are both extremely quick and professional.

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It’s been a tough week, but 5-star reviews for Hey, Little Sister have helped put a smile on my face.

To counter my own little promotional dilemmas, I’ve also been hard at work compiling information for the free review sites ebook (which keeps getting pushed back but should now be a goer for June) and also the Indie Review Tracker Website, which is under production with a web guru at present. It should make it much easier for everyone to find reviewers, relevant forums and facebook pages, advertisement space, indie service providers and a whole lot more … yes, it just keeps getting bigger and better, and I just keep getting tireder and tireder. No matter, it will be well worth it when it comes out and I really hope others see it as a valuable tool that reduces their promotional time and “takes the puzzle out of promoting.” I’m currently looking for authors willing to guest post about their promotional experiences, so if you’re a strong blogger and you have great advice for authors, email me on karinwork@hotmail.com with “Indie Review Tracker Guest Blog” in the title.

The question is: would I have it any other way? The past ten months have been among my busiest ever (not least due to motherhood), and I’ve written more work for me and been more proactive at promoting my books than ever before. I’ve given a lot of thought this past month to what I aim to achieve with self-publishing. It started out as an experiment, and to be honest it still feels like one some days. Sometimes it feels incredible. Sometimes it feels like the goalposts are constantly shifting. Sometimes it feels like a crapshoot. A recent survey I wrote for indies discussing promotion, which you can go and complete here if you like, currently shows that of the more than 100 respondents 86% were either Extremely Satisfied or Moderately Satisfied that they self-published. (Note: All results of the survey will be published on the Indie Review Tracker site as soon as it goes live.) At present, I fall within the Moderately Satisfied crew. I know there is more I can to do to push my level up to Extremely Satisfied (more guest blogging, for instance, paid advertising, and more blogging in general, forging stronger connections, being involved in more indie community initiatives, and writing more books!) and that my promotional efforts will win out in the end, and if they don’t, I also know that books that ten months ago were available only on my computer hard-drive, now grace the libraries of 29,000 ebook readers … and surely that is worth something. 🙂

 

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And that’s why it’s called fiction

Grab yourself a copy please. Just .99c to help me feed my child!

Yesterday I took another tentative step in the direction of e-book self-publishing and put a collection of two short stories out there into the ether. At present, they’re only on Smashwords and you can check the collection out here. My intention is to put them up on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing too.

One of these stories, the eponymous Cage Life, has been published before under the title Still Life by [untitled] magazine here in Australia. When it was released, published in print in a slim volume with a garish illustrated cover, I passed copies around to several people to inspire them to admire me (it didn’t work!) although several lovely people even coughed up for a copy.

The story is written in first person from the point-of-view of a young wife and mother and, without giving too much away, starts off charting her carefree, drug-taking university years and spirals into tragedy. My intention was to explore the gamut of a woman’s feelings about liberation and love. How often women feel trapped by their own choices, how often we overlook the signs of love and mistake them for something else, and often we inadvertently fail to prioritise the most important things in life, even while simultaneously trying to put everyone and everything else above ourselves. But when the book came out, so many times the reaction from those who don’t know me well—or well enough to realise that I am begrudgingly unmarried (yes, I know! Talk to my hesitant loving partner and baby daddy folks) and my daughter is just 15 weeks old despite the story being written more than two years ago now—is, “It’s so sad. It’s not based on real life is it?”

My answer is, that it is fiction. I made it up. As a writer I am an incurable liar and I make shit up all the time. It’s what I do. So while it is entirely fictitious, it is, of course, based on real life. The events that take place in my character’s life are in part based on some of the experiences I have had. “The Cow” couch in the story, for instance, really did exist. Some of my best ideas were formed perching on its “furry flanks.” But now I get my inspiration the old-fashioned way (read: wine, or insomnia). I did, at some point, have an ex who was a lawyer and I did live in the “Dolls House.”

Having said that, the “crux” of the story, the tragedy that unfolds, thankfully never happened to me or to anyone I know and love, although such tragedies happen to families around the world every day. I suppose the story is a cautionary tale of just how easy it is to lose sight of the important things for just a few seconds in the midst of a busy life. Sometimes I need to remember that. Sometimes we all do. But hopefully it is a lesson none of us ever have to learn in such a painful and pointless way.

As for the second story … well I hope no one ever mistakes me for an 80-year-old!

 

 

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The power of connection

Even writing can't compete with this little wonder.

Yesterday several people read this fledgling blog and shared my “Indie publishing: perspectives on abundance” post with others. I was thrilled, and it got me thinking about the power of words and how we use them to connect both thoughts and relationships.

Words have so many purposes, but, for me, the real reason for writing, and the true power of words, comes in connection. If I can make a reader relate to my words and connect with them, to the extent that they feel something, be it joy, wonder, nostalgia, humour, surprise or fright, then I am satisfied. Generally speaking, I’d prefer my readers felt, joy, wonder or humour than anger, disgust or disdain, but when writing fiction I know it is my job to make them experience the gamut of emotions so they can live vicariously through my characters and empathize with them. It is harder, in my experience, to coax a tear than it is to conjure up a smile, so making a reader connect enough that they will cry for a character, or for a concept, is a talent indeed.

Yesterday I read a post by Cheryl Shireman that made me weep. It untapped a well of emotion in me partly because of its subject matter, and partly because it was so beautifully, honestly written. It made me stop and think about my life and how my desire to fit so much into every day, and to connect with others through my writing and through social networking, may have been compromising the one connection I hold most dear: my relationship with my baby daughter.

Sure, I do most of my work when she is sweetly sleeping, her little lips drawn up into a slightly parted cupid’s bow, tiny eyelashes shadowing a flushed cheek, and dainty little baby snores floating up from her port-a-cot at my feet, but at other times, times when I’m balancing her on my shoulder while I blog, or jiggling her bouncer with one foot while I edit, I feel guilty about multitasking. I feel guilty for being out there in the world (however virtually) when in truth my world is right here gazing adoringly at me. Right now.

Sometimes, even if I need just two minutes to finish an email, I force myself to stop. I step away from the laptop, and I devote my attention to a little heart that needs a hug.  My writing will always be there, but she will not always be this tiny, this vulnerable or this much “mine.” The world, with it’s many connections, will one day take her away from me. Perhaps not far—maybe just to playgroup, to school, to ballet, to pajama parties, to university, to a nearby suburb, to another city … but maybe to Europe, to Africa, or to America. God forbid circumstances ever lead her to places where I cannot follow. Who knows where her connections will one day take her, but for now her major point of connection is me.

I know my success as an author, as an editor, even as a friend, comes through making those external connections, but my success as a mother comes from putting this, dearest of all connections, above all others. So while I’m thankful that the internet allows me an untold number of ways to connect with others worldwide, I also know that each thread can unravel to another, and then another, until it seems almost impossible to escape the labyrinthine web even when there are other things to do or the one hour I’ve allotted for networking has slipped away.

Online connections are all well and good, but to maintain a real connection with his or her audience, a writer needs to spend time in the real world. Time sipping coffee. Time chatting with friends. Time helping an old man at the post office struggle with a large box, and time wondering what it holds. Time sleeping. Time reading. Time cuddling babies. Time making babies. And, most importantly, time writing. How else can a writer really connect with the minds of his or her readers?

For that reason, for the next week I’m checking my facebook, twitter and forums for strictly half an hour each morning so I can concentrate on two of my most important connections: my family, and my writing.