My indie milestone

I’ve often read that the average indie author can expect to sell 250 books in their lifetime (or their book’s lifetime). If that’s the case, then I surpassed that milestone this weekend with four sales of my first book, Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird (released May 2019).

Four sales is certainly nothing to write home about, but in this case, it’s just enough to write a blog post about.

In order to get those sales, I tried something new this weekend – I paid for my first ever promotional spot on a mailing list. For $25 I ran a one-day ad with Bargain Booksy to promote my book to their YA audience of email subscribers. I had read a few good reviews and a few not so good reviews, but for $25 I thought it was worth a shot. With a mere four sales in that one day, I certainly didn’t make my money back, but those were the first sales I had had in months (!) and it did push my lifetime sales past that 250 milestone marker that most indie books never surpass, so I took it as a win.

There are some things I will do differently next time (and yes, despite the poor showing, I’ve decided to give it another shot). I’ve since learned that a .99 cent price- point and a better blurb should help boost my results, so cross your fingers for me and Hope!

If you’re interested in trying out a Bargain Booksy promo, here’s some good info to get you started: The Best Way to Promote a Book on Bargain Booksy

If you’ve done a book promo with Bargain booksy or another site, comment or drop me a line (you can email me: melcmoore@hotmail.com) and let me know your results. I’d love to do a fuller, more informative post on this type of advertising in the future.

Other book promo sites can be found here via Written Word

…and if you’re looking for something to read, check out my book, Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird!

My love affair with Kindle unlimited and indie books

I have to admit, it took me a long time to convert from paperback to e-books. For many years after e-readers came out, I held fast to my belief that paper was the best, that the real thing was the real deal, that a book must feel and smell like a book in order for me to enjoy it. But then, three Christmases ago, my husband bought me a Kindle, and with it, a one-month free trial with Kindle unlimited. Skeptically, I eyed this plain black, flat, lifeless electronic device, knowing it would make a terrible addition to my carefully curated bookshelf. Still, having recently joined the Instagram writing community of indies earlier that year, the idea of easily and instantly reading my newfound friend’s books was intriguing. So, after all of the gifts had been opened, and the turkey and all its trimmings had been devoured, I sat down with my phone and my Kindle, opened Instagram, and began filling my new electronic library with Kindle unlimited titles written by my indie friends – and that flat, lifeless device suddenly came to life with a whole new world of reading for me. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Every couple of weeks, I go through my saved Instagram posts of indie books I see in my feed and if they are offered on Kindle unlimited, they just about always get downloaded into my reader (and I always make sure to review them once I’m done! Amazon reviews are the lifeblood of indie author’s, afterall). The ten dollars I spend per month on my Kindle unlimited subscription is honestly one of my best investments in myself. I love the ease and simplicity of downloading the books from Amazon for an instant-read and easy support of my fellow indies. My Kindle has become my own private library and one that is always perfectly lit for late-night reading. Seriously, why can’t all books be gently backlit and why did I wait so long to invite such reading splendor into my life??

If you’re an avid reader who hasn’t discovered the joy of a Kindle unlimited subscription, I highly recommend that you give it a shot!

Here’s what made it into my Kindle this week (and keep in mind that I am in Canada and use amazon.ca, so Kindle unlimited book offerings may be different in other countries):

The Raven’s Poison by Braeden Michael’s

After Me, The Great Flood by Jayson Robert Ducharme

The Girl in the Ivory Dress by Steve Griffin

Echoes of the Gidat by Eme Savage

Going the distance as an indie writer

It’s so easy to get discouraged as an indie writer. It’s a tough industry! Writing is already a difficult and lonely occupation, but then throw in the business side of marketing and hustling and self-promoting yourself, your brand, your book – and all for maybe a handful of sales to your closest friends and family and maybe half a dozen reviews on Amazon (if you’re lucky!). It’s little wonder why so many throw in the towel after a year or two. It breaks my heart every time I see a writer friend give up on their dreams.

It’s difficult to see, but I get it. I totally get it. I have been there sooooo many times myself that I’ve lost count.

But, here’s the thing about choosing to be an indie: it means playing the long game.

Writing and self-publishing, marketing and promoting, growing our platforms and our readership: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The end will not be in sight for a long time, but then again, we shouldn’t be looking for an end.

As writers, we should always be writing.

As “authorpreneurs” (“one who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets” – Urban Dictionary), we should always be learning about and growing our business.

And there should never be an end to that.

Trust me, as someone who has been self-employed for sixteen years, creating and operating five (soon six) businesses, there is still and always will be much to learn – and that is a good thing!

Keep yourself busy enough with the writing and the learning and the growing as an indie and soon you ‘ll find that you won’t have any time to become discouraged.

So, keep going!

Some of my favourite websites for writing/ indie inspiration:

www.brainpickings.org

www.writtenwordmedia.com

www.writepublishsell.com

Upcoming webinars for indie writers

I read recently that being an indie author (“authorpreneur“) is 10% writing and 90% marketing (the blog post that described this is a brutally honest, but absolutely spot-on piece about the indie industry and so worth a read on its own). It’s absolutely true that there is a lot to learn and a lot to do (besides writing your books!) in order to be successful as an indie. Knowing this and wanting to understand the process and help other indies find success, I’ve started this indie inked blog to share resources and supports.

Every week, I will share my round-up of webinars (almost always FREE!) that will be of interest to indies, so here we go……..

Limiting Mindsets Roundtable is a free webinar happening on Tuesday, June 29th as part of my favourite Women in Publishing Summit, an amazing yearly event that is chalked full of info and resources for indies. The webinar will focus on how our own limiting beliefs hold us back from achieving success as authors. There are many more webinars happening with the summit and you can find them all here.

“6 Secrets Every Indie Author Should Know” is a free webinar happening on Tuesday, June 29th with New York Times best-selling author, Alessandra Torre. I came across a post for this one on Facebook and am not familiar with the author, but the topic sounded interesting (obviously), so we’ll see how it goes.

My favourite blog read of the week was: The Top Ten Publishing Industry Trends Every Author Needs to Know in 2020. Some pretty interesting and valuable things to know, especially in regards to social media platforms and organic vs. paid reach.

Next blog post is coming on Wednesday (and every Wednesday!) and will focus on website resources for indies and Saturdays will be dedicated to book reviews and author features. Give my blog a follow and, better yet, sign up for my monthly newsletter for all things indie inked!

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Choosing ourselves

We can pour ourselves in, give it everything we’ve got for days, months, years (!!) even, and still come up empty, or worse yet, get spit out, get rejected.

It happens. It happens all the time. We know the risk is there in everything that we do, be it a project or a relationship, but still, it hurts.

Rejection is a bitch. It’s a beast. It’s brutal.

Rejection can shut us down. It can make us stop trying (stop writing, stop creating, stop loving). It can make us turn inward and question and doubt everything about ourselves. It can leave us spinning our wheels, making it impossible for us to go anywhere but down – but, aren’t we there already?

As much as it hurts, as much as it stings, rejection does serve a purpose, because when viewed in the right light, rejection is a redirection. It’s a sign-post that reads “dead end” with a myriad of arrows around it pointing us towards an infinite number of other paths available on this journey.

No matter what direction we choose, so long as we accept and choose ourself, we can’t go wrong.

Innovative Ink

I’ve spent the last two years as an indie writer spinning my wheels, taking my writing, my books absolutely nowhere, but down. In the process, I’ve managed to dig an impressively deep hole for my self-confidence to curl up in and die.

It’s not at all what I hoped for, what I had worked for.

It looks and feels nothing like my dream.

This feeling of defeat despite having written the books, despite having published the books, despite having marketed the books, despite having created the author platform and joined and engaged in the various social media writing communities, and despite having supported and cheered on dozens of other writers and their work – despite all of that I still feel like a failure because my work hasn’t found its audience and I haven’t found my tribe and my books sit forgotten and overlooked on digital shelves gathering dust that will more likely be deleted than simply blown away.

Yet, though the indie dream didn’t come true for me, I do see it coming true for others. I watch them in awe from the sidelines of social media as they gather hundreds, thousands sometimes, of loyal, engaged followers who seem to pounce on their every word and meme as if it were vital sustenance to their very existence. I enviously watch them post their ever-increasing sales and unsolicited (and glowing) reviews and dozens of media appearances, and as I applaud their success, I can’t help but wonder, where did I go wrong?

With our sights set on the same target, how did they make a kill-shot and why was I shooting blanks?

Was it that newsletter that I couldn’t be bothered to write? Was it that mailing list that I didn’t want to start?

Somehow I doubt it, but still I’m curious and so, from that curiousity, Innovative Ink was born

Over the summer, I will be transforming this blog into a resource and support for indie writers, featuring websites and blogs, and apps with helpful advice and tips, and I will also continue to interview indie authors, with a focus on their best advice for achieving success (and hopefully I’ll unearth the magical key to indie success : is it really the mailing list??)

I’m also chasing another dream with this new endeavor. I’m going back to school this summer to get my certification as a copyeditor. I’m going to freelance as a book editor for indies. As a psychology student who loved to write way back in the day, I was offered an invitation into the Honours English degree program but stupidly declined, thinking there’d be more career opportunities for me in psychology. Having worked professionally as a photographer for the last decade (so much for that psych degree!), it’s been one of my bigger regrets in life because my love for reading and writing has never waned and I want very much to give it a more prominent role in my life.

The dream doesn’t look how I imagined it would, so I’m going back to the drawing board (the journal/ my head) and creating something new.

(I’m innovative like that).

The Innovators #8 with….author/poet Jared Kane

This week, I’m excited to feature my favourite author, Jared Kane. His novels (Decline, Mya and The Underside of Wars) are some of the most thought-provoking and beautifully written books that I have come across since my university days studying English lit. He is also an incredibly talented poet who crafts some of the most profoundly dark and stirring poems found on social media today. Read on to find out more…

Introduce yourself and your work.

I’m Jared Kane, a writer of books, short stories, and poetry. I’ve had poetry published by both online and print publications. My novels are currently self-published, and are regrettably in the corner, unwilling to raise their hands to draw attention to themselves. They don’t want to be noticed at this party because they make the most noise, but because they are the most beautiful and profound thinkers in the group. Sometimes those types stay in the corner and are never discovered.

Explain the significance of your Instagram handle, Whirlpool of Crows.

I went through a couple before I landed on this one, and really, I only stuck with this one because it is how many first found me. It’s four syllables of seventeen of a haiku I wrote: a whirlpool of crows / swirls above, justifying / our murderousness. It also features in my first novel, Decline. And I have it tattooed on my arm.

Your first novel, Decline, reads very much like poetry. Tell me why you were inspired to write it like that and why a nameless/anonymous protagonist?

I wanted Decline to differ from all the other post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories out there. I conceived the story before the glut of post-apocalyptic media hit our shelves and screens, but by the time I finished it, a lot of these stories were already out there. So, I took inspiration from a Salman Rushdie book I read once—I’m not sure if I even liked the actual book that much, but the manner in which he wrote it, it felt like you could pull out any random paragraph, arrange it like a poem, and a beautiful poem it would be. At least, that’s how I felt at the time. So, I set about writing Decline with a different mindset: to couch the story in poetic language.

The nameless protagonist is a bit of a shameless homage to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Also, the novel is very “stream of consciousness”, like the reader is inside the narrator’s head, hearing what he hears, and seeing what he sees. I feel like his name would be superfluous, and maybe even colour the reader’s impression of him (everyone knows a John, or a Dave, or a Dominic—maybe less so the latter—and if the narrator was “John”, the reader might see their John’s face or hear their John’s features).

Explain the meaning and significance of the quote “Temporis Destruit Omne – Time Destroys Everything” as it applies to your second novel, Mya.

Temporis Destruit Omne is another one of my tattoos now—I hope there’s no Latin scholars out there who pipe in about how terrible my translation is.

Mya is a very intimate book. Without getting into spoilers, “Time Destroys Everything” guides most of what happens in the narrative. It’s a very intimate belief and feeling of mine: it doesn’t matter what you build, what you create, who you become, it will all crumble to nothing in time.

There is no such thing as history and future, past and present—aside from what your senses are perceiving right this moment (itself an interpretation of the mind), everything else is dust or in a state of either becoming dust. A character in Mya proposes the theory of Eternalism, which is a sort of answer to this philosophy. Eternalism is the belief that past, present, and future all exist at once and are equally real (to put it mildly, this is the nutshell version, and I’m absolutely not an expert). This is reassuring in a way: all those times you had, or wish you’d had, they’re all out there still and possible, even if you will never return to them again.

The Underside of Wars protagonist, Matthew Talbot, is a writer frustrated with the state of the literary world and its inability to appreciate his work or give him his “break.” How much of that comes from your own experience as an indie author?

Underside is maybe my most personal book. This will be a very vulnerable answer.

The main character grapples with a lot of things I do, thinks some things I think, feels some things that I feel. Matthew’s experience does reflect my personal experience to some degree when it comes to personality shortcomings and substance abuse. He’s a bit of a cipher. While Matthew is supremely confident in his abilities, that confidence is so shaky that he’s fundamentally unable to accept being unsuccessful, or for success to look different than he always imagined. I am very confident in my ideas, my writing, and what I’ve created. And it can be very hard to accept being passed over. It’s all the more devastating to accept the possibility that I may never be successful (insofar as I define “success”). If that comes to pass, what else is there? There’s a lot more plot in Matthew’s journey, but those quandaries and principles are pretty central.

You’ve described your three novels as a trilogy. With different characters and storylines, how do they fit in/ mesh together as a trilogy? Do they need to be read in a specific order?

I call them my Apocalypse Trilogy. It’s more like they exist in the same universe, and fall somewhere on the same timeline. There’s no direct connection between them except for some easter eggs in Underside that point to it taking place a certain amount of time after Mya. If there was an order, it would be Mya, Underside, then Decline. They absolutely do not have to be read in that order. Though that’s not a bad order in which to read them. A new reader would probably find the language in Mya and Underside more accessible. Then, hopefully after they’ve read those two, they’d be willing to undertake the challenge of reading Decline.

What role does music play in your creative process? What else inspires your creativity? What bands/artists are currently on your writing playlist?

Music is everything to me. Life without music would be food without taste. I have a psychological dependence on music, sort of the way someone can become addicted to gambling: like a gambler feels a shot of dopamine when they pull the slot lever down, so do I feel a surge of dopamine when I hear the music I love.

I always match up a song with what I’m writing. If it’s a sad moment, I play a sad song. If an action sequence, I play a more aggressive song, and so on. I know some writers have difficulty focusing when they’re listening to music, and especially music with lyrics, but I don’t hear the lyrics. All I hear is mood.

In that regard, I have thousands of songs on my writing playlist—it all depends what type of dopamine hit I need at the time! For example, Decline is a quiet, sad, philosophical post-apocalyptic novel, so my playlist for that book included a lot of Lycia for the quiet, sad moments. For the more heartbreaking moments, the playlist would become more aggressively despondent, like Psyclon Nine’s “Under the Judas Tree”. Mya was very much influenced by songs from Yendri, while Underside is more raw, and had music from Amenra and Black Mare (see Black Mare’s “Ingress to Form”). Right at this moment in the block universe, I’m cycling through those three playlists (I still keep a separate playlist for each book on iTunes) as I write these answers.

What else inspires my creativity? Maybe everything, maybe nothing. I’m usually most inspired when I feel a lugubrious emptiness. It’s a profound need that feels deeply hollow. Ironically, it’s difficult to write at those times, because my mind will conjure up the same words and lines over and over. Instead, I’m most productive during times of (and I’m paraphrasing . . . someone . . . I can’t remember who, and I don’t remember the quote well enough to search it) sober reflection on past inspiration.

I’m sure you’re the cosmic love-child of dead poets. Who do you think they are ? What writing talents have you inherited from each of them?

I love this question. Anything that makes me turn around and consider my bookshelves is welcome. It’s like returning to nature after the city.

I’ll say William Wordsworth and Thomas Hardy, which is starting right at the beginning. From Wordsworth, I gained a sense of wonder at nature and a feeling for romanticism that is much more vast than our current crass concept of “romance”. From Thomas Hardy, I inherited a dark and tragic outlook. One is basically a response to the other. Hardy probably continues to have the most influence on my writing. His books can be one thing for 300 pages, and then deliver a gut punch out of nowhere in the last chapter (or last two pages in the case of The Woodlanders) that makes you completely re-evaluate your feelings about the entire book.

What do you hope readers will take away from your work? Do you prefer they read your novels or your poems or both? If they only read one of your books, which one would you most recommend?

I hope that my work evokes an emotional response from readers. The best books I’ve read, I’ll put down and feel different afterwards. The light will be a different warmth, and everything around me will look a little different than it did before. Sometimes this feeling lasts a few hours, a few days, sometimes it’s forever. I want my writing to land on that spectrum for readers. Honestly, as I veer back to the question of “success” that came up several questions back, that is true success. If I can make a reader feel that way, then let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

If I had to choose, I’d rather my readers read my novels. But I don’t write long-form poetry, so read both! Depending on the reader, they might want to start with Underside or Mya because they may go down easier to start.

Where can readers find you?

Readers can find me on Instagram @whirlpool_of_crows, where I post poems and other blurbs, while The Underside of Wars, Mya and Decline are all available on Amazon.

Thanks, Jared!!

Go check out his books…

The Innovators #4 with………Author Billy Ray Middleton, Jr

Introduce yourself.

My name is Billy Ray Middleton Jr. I am the author of ‘The Silhouette’ and do a podcast called ‘Blabbercast.’ I also occasionally do Instagram videos/podcasts @ ‘AuthorBillyRay.’

When and why did you start writing?

I started writing around thirteen, mostly thoughts, feels, poems and things of that nature. I liked playing with words and getting things out when I felt the urge. It’s therapeutic to spill your mind on pages.

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is important for me since there are so many things I won’t experience, so in my own worlds I can experience anything I want. Also, I like going outside of the box and creating a unique style of art, whether it be writing or working with video. I enjoy the term ‘Chaotic Beauty.’

Tell me about The Silhouette: who or what inspired the story and characters and why a Lovecraftian romance?

The Silhouette went through many phases over the years, and as most artistic works, it kind of becomes like a child to you. I had an idea for a girl who was physically damaged but still very sweet through her trauma when she could have easily rejected the world that was cruel to her. I asked myself a question, ‘Is love physical more than anything else?’ I wanted to open the door to a curious question of the word ‘Love’. I wanted to put two characters in a situation where they never saw each other, but were right next to each other where only their words and little ticks were on display. Basically, loving someone 100% for only them, the real them, not the external sexual stuff.

The book fell into the Lovecraftian style since it was the best fit for it. I wasn’t thinking about Lovecraft as an inspiration when I wrote it. The book simply fell into it. I’ve always enjoyed the not-knowing aspect of his works and others who do the Lovecraft thing. Our minds do well with blank slates and mysteries.

When and why did your podcast start? Who or what is featured?

In 2013, me and my closest friends started ‘Blabbercast.’ My best friend really wanted to do one and since I can never shut the F up it seemed right up my alley since I talk a lot. I enjoy a Kevin Smith vibe or Howard Stern. I don’t like filters, I know people think different and speak different in private, I always say ‘Let it out. Act like its the glorious 90’s still. This era of fake-ness is lame.’

Who or what inspires your writing?

I actually hated reading since everything was so wordy and never got to the point. So my first inspiration was to try to take some of that out and write more screenplay-like. I like dialogue, and I use it. I like fun and scenes that move, not blabbering on for ten pages about nonsense. The indie books — (yours did this great, Melanie {awe, thanks Billy}) — moved at a perfect pace; I really have enjoyed those reads without the corporate machine behind them F-ing everything up. In fairness I have read some I liked that were mainstream. I love William Peter Blatty, I thought the Exorcist was mind blowing. George R. R. Martin is great as well. I found the Game of Thrones books pretty quick since he moves it quickly or makes scenes, at the very least, interesting.

Any writing quirks?

I don’t have many quirks. I never have had writers block, I just have the ‘I don’t like it’ thing and I never write to just write, I need it be acceptable to me, and then hopefully a lot of people enjoy it, but I need to enjoy it and have fun, whatever happens after that is meant to be or not.

Best advice for other indie authors?

My best advice is to have fun. Ignore all the BS writing rules. They don’t exist. Period. Have good grammar and ‘Do you’ as they say. Don’t be put in a box. Don’t worry about reviews so much either. I found most people review poorly and are hypocritical. If their favorite author wrote something incognito and they were told it was an indie author, they would be extra harsh on it. The look on their face when they found out it was their favorite author? Mind blown! LOL Obviously reviews are important as is people’s opinions. I just feel people in the literary world are too constrictive. That doesn’t work on me.

What is your spirit animal?

A dog. I don’t know if my explanation will fit in with the spirit animal thing, but when I see a puppy my heart sings. My black heart turns red, and I smile and must pet it. I love them. Their loyalty is far superior to humans and it is true unconditional love.

Favourite author and book?

George R. R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire, It’s just such a massive accomplishment and I had so much fun reading those for two-months. His dialogue is just so good, and the imagery is fantastic.

What are your upcoming projects?

The newest novel is on the way. The Nicest Parts of Hell – I am not giving too much away. All I can say is I am going to some strange places. Rockstars, psycho’s, serial killers, and blood and love. A lovely Friday night.

Thanks Billy! Check out The Silhouette on Amazon. A highly recommended read that I really enjoyed!!

A season without doubt

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No one doubts my abilities more than me. No one. Every idea that pops into my head gets over-analyzed and shot full of holes, usually to the point of death, before it even gets to see the light of day.

For the past year, one of those thoughts has been about stepping up my indie game and starting to help other independent artists in my own little way through social media promotion.  My doubts about the size of my social media reach and my ability to actually help anyone get noticed (I mean I can bearly help myself in getting my own books sold and my own poems read so what in the world would I have to offer to someone else!?) constantly got in the way.  But then recently, I was interviewed by an indie with her own little social media reach and it made me realize one really important detail that I had been forgetting:  quality is more important than quantity. 

Having one person – just ONE genuine, interested person, offer support to you and your work IS enoughThousands of followers on social media doesn’t necessarily equate to thousands of supporters of your work, it doesn’t necessarily equate to thousands of sales or reviews of your books.  In a world where everything is a numbers game (get more likes, more followers, more comments!) this idea runs contrary to what most people believe, but believe me, it’s true.

For me, that one interview equated to a higher level of support than all the “likes” I had ever received on Instagram. The invitation to be interviewed (someone was interested in me?  In my work? ) was a much-welcomed and, honestly much needed, ego boost that has supported me in a spiritual and emotional sense so much more than in a physical (book sales) sort of way.

Being an indie writer (or musician, or poet or artist in any shape or form) is really hard!  Self-promotion is really hard!  I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now and have often found myself feeling alone and adrift in an ocean of other indies, unable to swim or navigate the waters of self-promotion as well as others seem to be, and sometimes I’ve bearly been able to even keep my head above the water as the thought of quitting the whole indie scene, of giving up my writing, has occurred to me more than once.

So, with all of that said and all of that realized, and with that much-welcomed injection of support and inspiration still running fresh through my veins, I am finally going ahead and doing what I’ve been thinking about doing for the past year now: I’m starting up my own series of indie interviews and social media promotion.

The Innovators will be a bi-weekly series of interviews with indie authors, poets, musicians, and artists and it will start in September via this blog and my Instagram and Facebook pages!

I hope you will join me!