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It worked!

Some times things do go well. Or at least, they don’t go awful. It’s so easy not to notice when that happens.

I’ve been holding my breath for months now (metaphorically) as I worked to release my first novel with a new title. I could hardly be blamed. The first title had an exponent in it. (Yes, as in the letter x raised to the power of zero.) If you’re not mathematically inclined, trust me it was clever, but no one could fault me for wanting a title that was easier to pronounce, market and search for.

However, this meant I had to get a new cover with the new title on it, and resubmit this all to Amazon, and I wasn’t sure what would happen, in spite of a helpful SFWA mentor who’d assured me this could be done. To complicate matters more, the book got a couple of edits to clean it up while the new cover was designed (why not) and much to my surprise it tells the same story in pretty much the same words and yet is about 20,000 words shorter. Amazing. No original reader would ever miss what was cut. Even I had trouble finding it.

So what happened when I republished? Here’s my process and how it went.

I had taken all versions of the book off the market in December. I went back into KDP, and gave my old kindle version the new title, cover, manuscript, and the new variation of my name I’ve decided to go with. (I’ll be publishing under S.R. Cronin instead of Sherrie Cronin. More marketing.) I gave it the new price. I hit the publish button. No sirens went off. So far so good.

Then it asked if I wanted to publish in paperback. Oh yes, I did. Back when I started this adventure, paperbacks were done through Create Space, but that’s changed. I have to say this is easier. I created my new paperback with its new ISBN number and hit publish.

My dashboard showed the two books as linked and under review. I went off and had a glass of wine.

A day or two later both were approved. Wahoo. Then I went into Amazon to find them. It took the full title of my book and my name to get there because Amazon wasn’t used to finding this. That’s okay. Under books, there was my paperback, with no kindle version and no reviews. Hmm. Under Kindle, there was my kindle version, linked to my previous x0 paperbacks being resold by who knows who and with all of my reviews. (27 of them.)

Be patient, I told myself.  It takes a while for these things to shake out.

Almost two weeks later, nothing had changed, so I did something radical. I called Amazon. (Yes, you really can call them. More accurately, you can request they call you.) I got an immediate call from someone with a heavy accent and a helpful attitude. I explained my problem. She laughed aloud at the idea of a book with an exponent in the title and assured me she could fix things. And she did.

Minutes later, One of One in kindle showed up right along with One of One in paperback. Excellent. Then I looked closer. This new combo had 17 reviews. Odd.

I went to the old paperbacks of x0 that somebody out there wants to sell. (I understand there is nothing I can do about this. Amazon will let anyone sell any book.) My old x0 paperbacks had 11 reviews. Hmmmm.

I looked closer. It appears that reviews are attached to either the kindle copy or the paperback. When the two versions are linked, all reviews appear. Once the nice lady on the phone severed my kindle version from the old paperbacks, the reviews got split. As fate would have it, my less favorable reviews were attached to the old paperbacks, including my one and only one star review which still makes me cringe. (She won a free copy! For heaven’s sake don’t read it if you don’t like it….)

So now, I not only have a beautiful new book with a new cover and a new name, I also have a 3/10’s of a star better rating (4.3 instead of 4.0). Those of you who are mathematically inclined could have noticed that 11 plus 17 is 28, not 27. You are correct. I gained a review because the new book already has a brand new review of it’s own — 5 stars from a happy reader. Wahoo again.

Like I said, somethings things go well, even when you don’t expect them too. It’s good to take a moment and appreciate the good fortune.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in One of One, writing

 

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In 15 Days

I feel like I’m building a tower of blocks. I started putting pieces in place last spring, and I’ve slowly been adding block after block to get to where I am.

Get my first novel edited one last time. Check. Come up with new book title. Done. Then done again. Get a better cover. Done right. Proofread one last time. Check. Have someone else proofread one last time. Just completed.

The pieces are in place and more or less stable. All that is left is formatting for kindle, one last eyes-on-every-page look, and then the process of going into KDP and trying to rename the book, change my name to a new pen name, and resubmit the cover and the manuscript.

It’s like placing that last block on the very top. Something in you can’t help but be afraid the whole thing is going to come toppling down. Only in this case, something in me can’t help fearing Amazon will say “you can’t do that.”

I’ve been assured I can, both in person and by other authors who’ve done something similar and shared their experience online. I can think of no good reason why I shouldn’t do this. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t be allowed to do this. But, you know. Amazon.

Until I hit the publish button on January 17, I’m going to be holding my breath.

 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2019 in One of One, writing

 

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Bitchy Editor says this is it!

I’m obsessed with my new alter ego, who I’ve come to call Bitchy Editor. I’ve asked her to step forward out of my subconscious and oversee the re-issue of my six novels. So far she’s sunk her teeth into this first book with a blood-thirsty zeal.

She pushed for want she wanted from the fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design, leaving me with a cover I love. Check it out.

Most of her efforts, though, have centered on giving the book itself what I thought was going to be a quick once over. You know, get rid of some of those lingering adverbs. Reduce the he saids, and make the he pondereds, he chuckleds and he exclaimeds go almost completely away.

She has been doing that, and found more than I expected, but that wasn’t enough. She’s decided to look at every sentence and demand to know what it is doing in my book. Does this matter? Who cares about this? Why is this in here?

But it shows my characters development. It’s so cute. I worked so hard on that paragraph. Bitchy Editor has little sympathy for any of that, and she wants me to stop starting so many sentences with but while I’m at it.

The result is I went from about 119,000 words down to 95,000 and it’s a better book. Maybe a little less charming here and there, but readers will never miss those cute detours I took.

I gave her a chance to do one last read after I cleaned up the blood from the first mess she made, just to check the continuity on what she cut, and she’s already loped off another 3000 words and she’s not even halfway through the book. Yikes. I had no idea she lived within me.

Of course, merely eliminating words does not make for a better book. (It does make for an easier to read bad book, but that isn’t my intention.) Eliminating the right words does, and damn if Bitchy Editor doesn’t seem to have a good feel for what needs to go. She’s also added some stuff, tweaking the plot slightly to make motivation more clear.

Why didn’t your original editor do this, you might ask? Well, he did much to improve the book, and he tried to do more. I ignored too many of his suggestion and he was a little too polite with me. Bitchy Editor has no such restraint.

The good news is I’m proud of this new product already, and excited to be releasing it sometime in mid-January. I’ll post more details here.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in One of One, writing

 

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x0 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

On December 1, 2018 my firstborn novel will die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book has been part of my life for a while.

I wrote the first draft in just six months in 2011. After several rewrites, professional editing, and more feedback and corrections, x0 became available on Kindle in 2012. The paperback version followed.

I’ve never totaled up the sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I guess I’ve been paid for about four hundred copies, and gifted at least as many more. I’d hope for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.

Times change. Sales of x0 have gone from small to nearly zero.

A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This guy pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.

I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 800 humans who already read this story.)

And …. I need to kill x0. That is, I must take it off the market completely.  No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.

Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I have. The original x0 came in at just under 119,000 words. The leaner new version is under 96,000. I’ve broken the chapters into smaller chunks. I’ve given more attention to point of view. I’ve taken the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’ve done my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.

I’m pleased with the result.

So while x0 will soon cease to exist, it will give birth to a new and better novel. I’ll be blogging all about it soon.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2018 in One of One, writing

 

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Family and friends: the best or worst people to read your book?

Shortly after I published my first novel, x0, I was surprised by this question. “Did you let family members read your book before you published it?” Of course I did. What kind of question is that, I thought. I mean, maybe if I wrote certain kinds of books then no, but ….

I realize that I am lucky that my family is fairly open minded and mature and I was able to rely on my husband, my sister, my three children, a cousin and a handful of friends for encouragement and plot hole hunting before I ever sent my first manuscript off to a professional editor. I couldn’t, or maybe wouldn’t, have done it without them.

beautiful life2Now that I’m in the home stretch of putting my fifth novel, d4, out on kindle, the question makes a lot more sense to me. I am lucky in that I didn’t have to avoid the obvious problems caused by dysfunctional friends and relatives sabotaging my efforts, but I have learned how even the best of loved ones don’t always make the best of beta readers.

For starters, those close to you can be too encouraging. If they truly care about you, they will be so proud of your work that you may be lulled into not giving it the harsh scrutiny that it needs. It is a delicate balance between letting loved ones help you be confident and letting them convince you that every odd phrase you produce is golden.

If one is persistent about this writing thing, like I turned out to be, one is also likely to wear people down. One book was fun to read. The second less so. By the time you send your fifth book off to them, at least some of these caring souls will have decided they are not willing to drop everything yet again to meet your deadline. Expect people close to you to avoid your phone calls and ignore your text messages. It can be a little painful all around.

I discovered that those who remain enthused can cause other problems when they go recruiting for you. With this latest book I had a couple of family members talk others into reading, and the coerced aren’t always so helpful. Yes the old high school friend did have a great background in investing, which was useful for a beta reader of d4. However, as he pointed in in his critique, he rather hates books about paranormal abilities and therefore a novel about the havoc wrecked on the stock market by a clairvoyant didn’t exactly interest him. The feedback went downhill from there and ended with him asking why I bothered to write books anyway.

Good question. Among the many answers is the truth that writing novels has been a journey of growth for me. Just the technical abilities I’ve acquired have made this well worth the effort, but the personal growth that has come from handling bad reviews and gushing fans (yes, I do have some) and the self-discipline needed to make it all happen — well, that eclipses the factual knowledge. Yes, some of that personal growth has come from letting those closest to me be part of the process. Good, bad, or indifferent, my family and friends have been a facet of my journey. I’m glad that I included them, because the journey so far has been quite good.

(Visit my post Time Traveler Looking for a Good Time to read about my strategy for thanking beta readers, and check out my post on whether strangers make the perfect beta readers instead. Also please drop by the Facebook page of Your Beautiful Life and give them a like for the great image used above.)

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in writing

 

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x0 gets a makeover

cleaningI’ve been quiet lately, hard at word on my own personal version of spring cleaning. Top priority has been to get out the feather duster and my high-powered vacuum and make my original creation x0 somewhat shiny and new.

To that end, I’ve created a second print edition of x0, which has been edited to work better as a hard copy. Underlined links and the references to them have been removed, along with a little too much factual material that was included in the original text. As my writing has evolved, it made sense to take this out. All of this information is available here on the book’s website, after all, where it can be updated and better maintained.

I’ve also added more clearly delineated breaks for scene changes and a list of characters. A small number of corrections have been made, but the story itself is unchanged.

I’ve gone ahead and carried some of those tweaks back into my Kindle version as well, and in a few days both Create Space knightand Kindle should be selling the new and slightly more reader friendly x0. I’m excited! I hope that my story will now be more accessible to those who may enjoy it.

The next step is Smashwords.com. This site distributes all of my books to Barnes and Noble, Itunes and others. Because it must comply with so many different formatting requirements, self-published author’s like myself know that it is a bear to get a new version of a book through the Smashwords autovetter. However, it can be done and in a week or two I will put on my best armor and attempt it.

zen2zany 3Within a month or two, the new and improved x0 will have made its way out to all of the various distribution channels and then I will start a renewed publicity campaign for this, my first novel.

Funny thing. As life has gone on and reviews have come in and people have started reading x0 and never said a word about it and all the other usual nonsense that goes with a creative endeavor like this, I’ve come to think of this first book as “not as good as my others”.

Spring cleaning forced me to reread it carefully and to be more objective and less emotional about it. I found mistakes, of course, and things I did not particularly like. But I also found more that pleased me than I expected. This book was written with my heart wide open, and it shows. I’m going to enjoy spending some time with it again, and giving it another chance to dance in the light.

(Read my thoughts on giving my second novel, y1, the same sort of once over. It was a very different experience.)

 

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2014 in writing

 

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My own peaceful place

outlines 3The last two weeks I’ve been living underwater  — or at least that is the feeling I always have as I put the last little pieces of a novel together. I call this process my first edit, but in reality it is more like fitting tiny puzzle pieces into the right slots as all the miniscule components of the plot get checked and triple checked for consistency, correct order and believability.  Most my awareness goes where it needs to, and that’s into the world of the book itself. I thank the wonderful people who tolerate my lack of presence here.They know who they are 🙂

But I’ve come up for air today. I’m just over half done, and know from past experience that the first half of the book takes considerably more time. Apparently by  the end of the story, I have a better idea of exactly where I am going with it. The good news for me is that I am pleased with my latest creation. It’s called c3, and it is the story of youngest daughter Teddie’s out of body experiences. I hope to get it to my first beta readers over the next couple of weeks, and to have it out on kindle at least by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, my blog tour for novel y1 has just ended, and a couple of the guest posts I wrote seem worth posting on my own blog. Below is my favorite, about the peaceful place that helps me write and my appreciation of those in my life who provide me with such support while I do it.

How to Create a Great Work Area for Inspiration
porch1 (2)I think that a good work area is so important to writing that I’ve gone ahead and made three of them right in my own home.
Work area number one is a living room chair designated as my writing chair and used when I just have to get something out of my head quickly and I don’t care who is talking or how loud the TV is. I keep little notes strewn all around it and the whole family knows not to touch anything on “my chair”. It’s a little indulgent, but they humor me and having it there lets me feel like I can stop and get an idea down at any time.  I suspect every once in awhile my daughter walks by late at night and finds things like “Jeb must meet Tasha sooner!!!!!” scribbled on a paper towel with a red marker and just shakes her head.
Then there is the small spare bedroom upstairs that I have turned into my official office. The walls are lined with inspirational sayings. I go there when I need lots of time alone.  Four things make it special.  A closed door. Its own attached bathroom so I don’t have to emerge even for a minute and risk anyone interrupting my train of thought. A very comfortable chair. And, a second power cord for my laptop so I don’t have to run downstairs for that either. When I go into my office everybody, including myself, understands that I am very, very serious about getting some writing done.
Finally, there is the place where I actually write.  At least I’ve written over eighty percent of each of my three novels in work area number three, which is my front porch.  It is clearly where I most enjoy writing, even though the workspace has to be set up fresh every time.  Two pillows cushion the rough wicker chair and a third softens the small table turned into a footstool. The roof overhang protects against all but the worst of rains, especially if I turn around and face the house, and lean over to protect my laptop while I let the raindrops bounce off of my frustrated back until the deluge stops. I live in Texas, so in the winter, which lasts about two months, I bring a blanket and a space heater out with me.  In the summer, which lasts about seven months, I work in a tank top and blast one and sometimes two fans at myself. It’s coffee in the morning, ice tea in the afternoon, and sometimes a glass of wine as the sun goes down. That’s about the time when my husband will stick his head out of the front door and ask “are you still out here writing?”
“Yeah. I’ll be inside in a minute.” He shakes his head and half an hour later he brings my dinner out on a plate.
It’s good to have at least one work area that you love. It’s even more important to have people who will let you love it.

This post appeared on:
June 11 at Blog-A-Licious Authors
June 17 at The Unending TBR Pile
June 30 at Reading the Dream Life
Check these blogs out for a wealth of information on reading, writing and publishing as well as leads for many fine books you aren’t that likely to hear about elsewhere.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in writing

 

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