Indie Publishing: How to Handle Inappropriate Messages

So, you did it. You published a book! Congratulations! And your author photo is on your site, and you look professional, well-kempt, maybe a little hot.  Good for you!

At least, good for you, until some random person finds your photo on your author page or your website. And you’re new to this, so there are not 200 messages sitting in your author inbox. In fact, that guy who just messaged asking to be your significant other (maybe a little more crudely) might even hurt the response rate on your Facebook page if you ignore the message. *beats head into desk*

You have a few options. You can respond politely thanking people for their interest and then direct them to your latest publications. It’s a response and can be a form one that you copy into those messages. Maybe you’ll get some sales, too? I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. Maybe that’s the end of the weirdness.

You can also just not engage. You’re an author. You’re probably a recluse who wants minimal social interaction. Why on Earth would you invite conversation with a cretin? People know authors are not going to respond to messages promptly. We’re tempestuous and creative and introverted. But it might not be the best decision for your business.

So, you decide to send the information about your book to the weird person. And now you’ve gotten a dozen messages you weren’t looking for. Somehow you’re this guy’s poetess and angel and who knows what else. Why can’t he even spell your name correctly?! I’ve heard about women in my writing community who had actual stalkers who found their address, about people who created new profiles to get around bans, and about unsolicited pictures messaged to authors.

And you might be thinking, This isn’t Tinder! It’s my professional page. Why?! First, you can always respond to those pictures with a microscope emoji. Just sayin’. And second, all jokes aside, it’s a good idea to just ban people who look like they are headed in that direction before they get the chance to continue. You don’t have time for that, and chances are good that someone who can’t spell your name probably isn’t going to appreciate the word “phoneme” in the first chapter of your book.

The goal is to sell books. So, keep that in the front of your mind when navigating messages. If the harassing messages don’t stop, then make them stop. Ban the sender. You have writing and marketing to do. Don’t engage if it isn’t helping you reach the goal. Good luck, and I wish you an inbox with raves about your book and no misspelled compliments about your hair.

 

Indie Publishing: Book Dedications

Let’s talk book dedications. They are a little bit like tattoos. Once they are out in the universe, that one moment is there forever, for all to see. I didn’t realize what an issue this was until I was newly divorced, and many of my would-be suitors thought they’d order a copy of my debut novel–dedicated to my ex-husband. Oh, the hell I was given and the blushing that ensued. *facepalm* I thought, at least his name isn’t on your arm. You didn’t tattoo your wedding band on, Jessi, so there’s that.

I got more cautious on round two, dedicating to my kids. I’m always going to love my kids. No one will give me hell for that dedication. Phew. 

Round three: After my attack, I was diagnosed with PTSD. The people who held my hands during panic attacks and talked to me when I was at my most unstable got the dedication. Crabb and Alexander are friends who didn’t leave my side. Their faith in me was unshakable when I wasn’t sure I would ever be better than I was at that moment after my attack.

So, how do I pick which people get the dedication when I have been surrounded by a bounty? I start thinking about which people fit with which book’s themes. It’s not a gratitude list put into emphatic order. For me, it’s about which person fits into a slice of my life that belongs with the book.

Do I have to dedicate books from here on out to every friend and family member I’ve got, skipping men like they’re faithless and ephemeral? No. I don’t.

Would I dedicate a book to a significant other again? Absolutely. I’d do that all over again. Those people are already tattooed on me whether anyone can see it or not and whether they choose to stay in my life. I don’t care what anyone thinks about that. 

Dedications are my arm sleeves; they’ve got a hell of a story, too. And I won’t erase a single one, though I easily could hide any from future readers. I hope if you write your own, you write it like it’s in stone and in you. One author to another, I’ll admire your tattoo.

 

Hell and High Water: Proofs Are In!

It’s been quite a week here with two sets of proofs arriving within three days! I feel spoiled getting to hold the results of years of writing all at once. And this little book is a rollercoaster of love, failure, PTSD, violence, and the South surrounding me.

Hell and High Water will be available on August 25th. You can pre-order ebooks before then, but the print version goes live on publication day.

Continue reading

How to Help Your Favorite Indie Authors

Some of you have asked how to help an indie author, and I’m flattered that I wrote words that made you want to push for my success. “How Can I Help?” is such an awesome question.

So, here are a few things that one person can quickly do to help their favorite self-published/indie authors.

  1. If you love the book you read, write a review. I usually need reviews on Amazon and Goodreads if you feel so inclined. (No spoilers!) It lets people who don’t know me–and don’t know I have a graduate degree in English–see that I know what I’m doing, that I can craft a story.
  2. Like their social media pages. I have Facebook only for now, but am considering Instagram. It’s the best way to stay informed about any new updates with my books.
  3. Like their posts and comment. Having a dialogue on a business page is important. If you thought a blog post was amazing or if it gave you insight into being an author, interact on the page.
  4. Share posts about upcoming book releases if you think your friends might be interested. I had friends who shared pictures of my book and tagged me after it was published. It is pretty thrilling to see the hard work of a novel in someone else’s hands.
  5. Favorite their website if you’re not really into Facebook or social media.
  6. Facilitate introductions. If you think your book club would love the author’s book, arrange a Q&A session with the author. It can be amazing for your group and will likely make the author’s month.
  7. Attend book launch events. Pre-coronavirus, this would have been a book signing or book launch party. It is beautiful to see people show up to buy your book. And many of these events are virtual now with Facebook live parties and launch events, so it’s easier to attend than ever. (No make-up or nice clothes required.)

Iron Shards Audiobook

The Iron Shards audiobook is now available! It’s narrated by Jennifer Pinkley. You can get it on Amazon here through Audible or find a copy at Audiobooks here. Happy listening! 

For those interested in self-publishing, I went with Author’s Republic over ACX because the terms are much better, and as an author, I have more control over where the book is distributed. The only complaint I have so far is that I didn’t know when the book went live. There was no email from Author’s Republic or individual distributors letting me know when it was available. So, keep an eye on your Amazon page to get that information quickly. 

Affirmation

My latest book has an inseparable thread of artistry woven throughout. My main character is a sculptor, and as a writer, I know some of the madness of art. I’ve been inspired by many of the quotes I’ve found about sculpting

Matisse quoteand art in general, a few of them even found their way into the novel. I found this one inspiring today.

I find myself often forgetting as I write which events have already taken place. Sometimes I am a week removed from what happened in the book, and 7,000 words later, I reintroduce a character everyone’s already met. In Iron Shards, the most egregious instance of this was when I killed the villain off on one day and then killed him off again on the next. I don’t read my work for coherence when I write, I just get the story out and worry about logic and coherence later. So, I found out during editing that I’d killed a character twice.

The editing process takes much longer than writing the novel. Dwelling on every painstaking detail, trying to find my own mistakes, and acting as my own sanity check is grueling. I lose sight of the whole work again as I perfect fragments, and I begin nitpicking my choices. I doubt myself and wonder why I thought I could publish something I wrote “a lot” in.

But I have stubbornness issues. I think all novelists must to persist. And we have an obsession with the stories spilling out of us. I don’t know how to stop, even when my words are inadequate, even when rejections roll in. As I have begun my final round of checks on the latest novel before it goes to my beta readers, I read lines that sound so amazing that my eyes jerk back to the beginning. Did I write that? That description rocks! And I remember why I push forward. All of the affirmation I need is here. All 98, 069 words of it.

Apologies and Iron Shards Out Loud

I’ve become more comfortable with my craft as I penned my latest novel. (Which is finished and being edited in my abundant free time. Ha!) I don’t know if any of you like Jim Butcher, but I am a fan, particularly of the Dresden Files. As a reader, it’s maddening to me when Mr. Butcher writes more Codex books or a new series altogether. Honestly, Jim, I need some Dresden closure here! And one of the things I most loathe as a reader is cliffhangers that I have to live with for a year or more until an author releases the next installation of a story (looking at you, Karen Marie Moning). I sought to imitate J.K. Rowling’s level of closure as she brought each school year in Harry Potter’s life to a close. I always wanted more, but didn’t feel like tracking Ms. Rowling down and demanding answers. Instead, I waited, like a kid watching cookies rise in the oven.

So, I’ll begin with apologies. I sat down with good intentions and a trilogy outline–Iron Shards, Iron Spirits, Iron Truths. I swear! I wrote a chapter or so of Iron Spirits. And I hated it. My spouse hated it. I wanted to print a copy just so that I could wad it up and toss it into a trash can. But I did the mental equivalent, and I wandered looking for inspiration. I found it and wrote a new standalone novel, one I’m still editing. So, Jim, I understand now. Sometimes we just follow the whims of our muses.

In the meantime, while the new book was still percolating in my mind, my friend and fellow author Jennifer Pinkley offered to narrate Iron Shards after our local book club selected it to read. Since my plate was rather full with raising kids, exploring caves, and embarking on learning a new skill set, I was thrilled to accept. So, keep watching. Iron Shards will be available as an audiobook soon.

–Jessi

 

 

 

Iron Shards Goes Larger Than Life

I recently had the pleasure of seeing my book cover on a rocking awesome poster.

Book-Club-June-2016

The Mountain Home Air Force Base has chosen Iron Shards as their pick for the month. It’s strange seeing my work on a poster, a surreal thrill after the tears, rewrites, and rejections I went through with this book. But no worries, readers. I won’t let it go to my head. *winks*

I am off to work on my latest project. I’m just the medium for those characters’ lives, after all. Happy reading, bibliophiles of Mountain Home!

 

 

Book Signing

I recently returned to my hometown for a book signing, and I enjoyed a good turn out in the tiny Southern community. The owners of Humphrey’s Mayders and Tayders were excellent hosts. It’s bizarre to imagine selling books in the mix of this store, but it has a jumble of everything from ferns to crayfish to nice blouses. I was relieved to be given a table apart from the crustaceans. Don’t people know those are actually in the arachnid family? Why are they all merrily eating spiders? There’s an xkcd comic that describes the situation perfectly. It’s called “Alternate Universe”.

Alternate Universe

Just extend the situation to all crustaceans for me. And since no one came close to me with the insidious clawed creatures, it was a pleasant event. And I was thrilled to sign books for old friends and new fans alike. I am excited to see my favorite genre gaining traction in the town whose library ran out of  young adult sci-fi/ fantasy books for me to read as a child.

Here’s a picture from the event.

Thanks to all who showed up and supported a local author.

 

 

Iron Spirits Begins

 

Publishing as an indie author is an ankle-rolling, uphill scramble. Traditional authors can probably expect decent sales when their books are released. An instant boom. And perhaps that’s what I thought would occur when my book was released, though I had my feet firmly planted in reality. No visions of thousands of copies instantly sold here. But as a self-published author, I can expect my work to build an audience over time, rather than grab immediate attention on book store shelves.

I tried to be sensible about this week’s agenda after publication. Put the house in order. The other mommies are judging you. The Normal Nancy in my head prodded. The realist in me snorted. Please. They long ago decided we were too weird for words. Polarizing. People already love us, or they can’t stand us. Normal Nancy conceded.

So, I headed back to my usual writing haunts to see what would happen. And I was astounded to see that the ideas still poured onto the paper, straight out of my head. Thoughts flowed so quickly that I felt more like a medium for plots than their creator. Two young adult book ideas fought for space in my head, including the sequel for Iron Shards. I have toyed with the idea of taking a break from it, writing something else, and coming back to it. But my brain is already full of lines, a title, quotes, and themes. John, Quinn, and Amber are begging me to tell their stories, so I am acquiescing to their strong pleas.

Other ideas were pushed aside, and I forced myself to sit and type this morning. I’ve been enduring the doldrums of formatting and editing for months. There’s so little creation for me in that. I half-worried that the stories wouldn’t flow unbidden once more. What if I only ever write part of that story? When I clearly heard Amber’s ideas in my head, getting a feel for her skin and perspective, I knew that my magic was still there.

At such times, I am reminded of a J.K. Rowling quotation:

“Words are […] our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

And I heartily agree.