Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Few Thoughts. . . .

In light of the explosion that was Jacqueline Howett yesterday, I feel the need to comment on a few things. In case you missed it, you should go here

Warning: it's ugly.

In a nutshell, Ms. Howett's book was reviewed by Big Al over at Big Al's Books and Pals. Al had nice things to say, overall. The problem? Grammatical errors. Ms. Howett was subsequently offended by said review, and decided to lash out irrationally at Al, which culminated in her telling everyone to "Eff off."

Okay, so here's the root of the problem. We have a self-published (or indie) author who can't handle criticism. Writers: it's NEVER okay to respond to negative reviews. We all get them. Focus on the positive and move on. The link to this outburst was posted on Kindleboards, Twitter, and Facebook within a matter of hours. (I'd actually love to know how many hits Al got on that post.) 

The comments from the readers, however, were nothing to be proud of, either. Yes, there are serious grammatical issues with her writing, yes Ms. Howett needs an attitude adjustment, but sometimes I feel we forget that there are real people on the other end of these computer screens. I'm in no way condoning Ms. Howett's behavior, but I'm not condoning some of the comments made about her, either.

Something else happened, too, though. And this upsets me more than any negative review: people are using this as a way to "prove" that Indie writers are somehow inferior to the authors who are traditionally published. I am both, and I am seeing significantly more success as an Indie than I ever did as a traditional writer. 

I generally try to avoid the haters, anyway, but just when I thought that the world was becoming more accepting of Indie authors, there were comments posted of this nature: "this is exactly why I don't read Indie books" or "this is why I don't review self-published authors." And then, of course, the Indies fight back because we don't want to be lumped into a category spurred by one writer's unprofessional behavior.

I know that not all Indie writers are created equal. That's what sampling is for. You read a chapter or two, and if it's not for you, move on. Eventually those writers are going to fall to the bottom (and this isn't only for self-published authors; the fall can happen much faster in the "traditional" world). This forces the writer to either call it quits, or to continue to hone his/her craft and put out a better product.

It sounds like Ms. Howett had an okay story. Good grammar can be learned. It just takes effort. 

In the meantime, Indie publishing is not just for "writers who can't make it" in the real world. I'm not naïve enough to believe that every story uploaded as an ebook is worthy of being read, but there are some of us who take pride in the work we do. I read Cross My Heart from beginning to end dozens of times. I printed out thousands of pages. I listened to it at least three times. I did one round of edits that focused solely on punctuation. I put out the best product I possibly could. That doesn't mean it's perfect, but indie publishing isn't something I rushed into because it's the "cool" thing to do right now. I'm serious about my writing and I'm hoping for a long and prosperous virtual shelf life.

I guess what I'm saying is judge an Indie by his sample. A story is a story, and a reader a reader. Don't give up on us because of a few bad seeds.


P.S. Big Al, always the perfect gentleman, has shut off comments to the initial post. Eventually this will blow over, but I doubt Ms. Howett will ever be able to publish under her current name again. The internet never forgets.

Friday, March 25, 2011

YA Indie Spotlight: Talia Jager

Hi Everyone!
For today's YA Indie Spotlight, I'm pleased to introduce you to Talia Jager. Talia is the author of two YA indie novels: Teagan's Story: Her Battle with Epilepsy and Damaged: Natalie's Story.
Teagan Kavanagh’s life is shattered when her parents are killed in a car accident. She must move in with her brother and is forced to attend public school for the first time in her life. As if starting a new school her junior year wasn’t hard enough, she continues to battle epilepsy and the constant unknown of when and where her next seizure will occur. As this new chapter in her life opens, she gets more than she bargained for. Torn between playing it safe and risking her life to be normal, Teagan must make a life changing decision.
RATING: PG-13 for a brief sexual reference.
You can purchase this novel for Kindle or Nook.
Now's the perfect time to sample Teagan's Story. It's on sale for $.99 (it's typically $2.99). Check out Talia's other novel while you're there!
I have been a writer for as far back as I can remember. School summer vacations were spent writing stories. Bedtimes were ignored when I hid under the covers with a flashlight, notebook, and pen. I even kept whatever story I was working on under my classwork in school. I am now a wife and mother of five. I continue to write YA drama.
She blogs here.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Talia!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

YA/Indie Links

I have a couple of links for you today!
First, Vivian Marie wrote an excellent piece on why she reads/writes YA novels. I have nothing more to add, because she covers it all. The YA genre has literally exploded in the last ten years. The books available today weren't around when I was a teenager. So yeah, I'm totally writing the books I would want to read if I was a teen again. She posted her list here.
Also, J. A. Konrath posted a piece on his blog the other day: a conversation with Barry Eisler and why he turned down a $500,000 advance to self publish. It's long, but they cover a lot of misconceptions surrounding legacy (traditional) publishing. If you're on the fence, it's worth it to take a look. I'm thinking about pulling a few ideas and blogging about them in the next week or so.
You can read the transcript here.
Rumor has it that Amanda Hocking has a traditional deal in the works.
And finally, the Cross My Heart cover has disappeared from the Barnes and Noble website. You have no idea how exceedingly angsty this is making me. Here's hoping that the glitches are fixed soon, because you know I'm going to be checking obsessively for the rest of the day.
(runs to check)
Nope. Still not there.
Enjoy the links!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The First Review is In!

I try not to check Goodreads obsessively, but I do want to post the first official Cross My Heart review, especially since it's (gasps) five stars! Among the writing community, it's known that Goodreads Readers are a tough crowd to please, sometimes. This makes my first review (from Alex) even more exciting.

So without further ado:

"I snuggled up on the couch and read this book in a day. I couldn't put it down! Immediately I was intrigued by Parker. He was so mysterious, I wanted to know what his deal was. His secret. And I must say I was surprised. It's not often that I'm completely blind-sided by a plot twist but that was the case in cross my heart.

I also loved Jaden. She was so driven, her goals so clear that in some ways I envied her, the way she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. But having said that, life isn't always perfect...

The family dynamics were interesting and felt very real as did the friendships and relationships. Speaking of relationships, this book certainly satisfied the romantic in me. Overall this is just a wonderful, wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance. Not just for young adult readers!" 

This review alone makes those 75 agent rejections worth it. Now I need to find some ice cream to celebrate!

Yes, I'm totally up for ice cream at 9am.


P.S. I've double posted for the day, so if you missed my weekend sales/stats update, scroll down. (Or, if you clicked directly on this link, go back to my main page and then scroll down.) :) 

First Weekend Numbers

I know how much indie writers love to crunch sales numbers (it's the only time we liberal arts majors like math), so I thought I'd post the first week/weekend sales stats for Cross My Heart.

The BN Nook link went live on Tuesday, March 15th. So from March 15th to March 20th (Tuesday through Sunday), I sold 33 books for Nook and Kindle.

Twenty-eight of those copies were sold for Nook. I don't know what it is about the battle between Nook and Kindle, but some authors have explosive sales on Kindle and nothing for Nook. I seem to be the opposite. The remaining five of those CMH sales were for Kindle, and one was for Kindle UK.

I'm not quite sure how to get the Brits' attention, yet. :)

At any rate, I am *very* pleased with the numbers, and the fact that readers seem to be enjoying it (based on the ratings). 

The Guardian is still selling steadily, too. I'm on pace to break 100 overall sales for the month, but am cautiously hopeful. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

YA Indie Spotlight: Ben White

Hi Everyone!

For this week's YA Indie Spotlight I'm pleased introduce Ben White.

Ben is on the blog promoting his YA Fantasy novel Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns.

This novel is priced at $0.99, and is the first in a series.


For Princess Miya Black, home is Clover Island, a tiny dot of a place not even named on most maps. Founded fifteen years ago by her parents, ex-pirate Tomas "Boots" Black and ex-princess Lilith "Lily" Brightburn, it's a place for second chances and new beginnings. It's there that Miya was born, there she grew up, and there she now lives, spending her days riding with her best friend, practising swordsmanship with her fake uncle, sailing with her father, and avoiding book lessons with her mother. To Miya it's the best place in the entire world, and she knows how lucky she is to have it.

So when her home is threatened Miya doesn't just sit around around sulking. She's the princess of Clover Island, with the blood of pirate legends running through her veins, and she'll do whatever it takes to protect her kingdom.

RATING: A mild PG for minor violence and mild swearing (damn, hell, bloody).

(This rating leads me to believe that this could be a good choice for some middle grade readers, too.)


I'm Ben, Benjamin Joseph Kuniyoshi White if you're not into the whole brevity thing, Ben White if you're somewhere in the middle, and I write books. Books about pirate princesses, books about would-be greatest superheroes, books about gloomy girls bashing zombies about with baseball bats. Most of my books would fall squarely in the sub-sub-genre of 'Girls Kicking Arse', and if you had to choose a section of the library to put them in, Young Adult would be the safest bet.

I live in Nelson, New Zealand with my wife and two busy young daughters, and in pretty much every spare moment I have, I write.

Readers: You can find Adventure Dawns on Amazon.

Check out Ben's author page while you're there. You'll find the second Miya Black book and a few others there, in addition to the paperback links.

Thanks for stopping by, Ben!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The links are live! CROSS MY HEART is officially available for Nook and Kindle. It's actually been available for Nook for about 24 hours. I'm kind of floored at the response so far, especially since I've barely done any promotion.

That's great news for "newbie" indies, though. You don't need to be established or have a following to be successful. Put your work out there and let the readers find you. They're looking. Trust me.


Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Coming!

I literally just hit the submit button for my latest YA novel: Cross My Heart.

It's currently in processing for both Nook and Kindle. 

Part of me is relieved. I love this story. I've been working on it (off and on) for more than two years, and I feel like a weight has lifted. 

The other part of me is convinced I sent the sorriest, most pathetic book ever out into the world. But I'm a writer, and we're neurotic like that. 

At any rate, I will return with details as soon as the links go live.


Friday, March 11, 2011

YA Indie Spotlight: Michelle Muto

Hi Everyone!

I'm very pleased to have YA author Michelle Muto on the blog today. Michelle is promoting her newest YA urban fantasy novel: The Book of Lost Souls.

Isn't this cover beautiful? This book is hot off the presses and priced at $1.99. How can you beat that?


When teen witch Ivy MacTavish changes a lizard into her date for a Halloween dance, everything turns to chaos. And when no one is powerful enough to transform him back except Ivy, it sparks the rumor: Like father, like daughter. Ivy has heard it all before - that her father, who left when she was seven – was involved with the darkest of magic.

Making the rumors worse, someone uses an evil spell book to bring back two of history's most nefarious killers. Ivy's got a simple plan to set things right: find the real dark spell caster, steal the book, and reverse the spell. No problem! But she’ll have to deal with something more dangerous than murderous spirits that want her and her friends dead: the school’s resident bad boy and hotter-than-brimstone demon, Nick Marcelli. Nick’s offering Ivy more than his help with recovering the missing book – he’s offering her a way to ditch her scaly reputation as a lizard-lover. Demons are about as hard to handle as black magic, and as Ivy soon discovers, it’s going to take more than a lot of luck and a little charm if she wants to survive long enough to clear her status as a dark witch, get a warm-blooded boyfriend, and have her former date back to eating meal worms before the week’s end.

RATING: PG-13 for very mild language (the b-word), some thematic violence.

Link for Nook

Link for Kindle

About Michelle:

Michelle writes young adult urban fantasy and young adult horror. She loves scary books and funny movies, sports cars, chocolate, and changes of season. Michelle lives in NE Georgia with her husband and two dogs. Currently, she is preparing to release a second book and is busy writing her next novel.

She blogs here.

I hope you'll check her out!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Cover Reveal!

I have to admit, this kind of makes me nervous. But I did promise that I would reveal the cover of my newest ebook (Coming Soon! As in: ideally in the next two weeks, soon). For those of you who prefer realistic YA contemporary over fantasy/paranormal: this one's for you. Again, I want to thank Gemma Hart over at Deviant Art for letting me use her beautiful image.

So, without further ado:

True love can blossom in unexpected places. This is Jaden pretending not to notice. . . .
Jaden McEntyre and Parker Whalen are a wrong fit from the start. Jaden is driven and focused; Harvard Med School within reach. Parker has a past—a reputation—and the rumors about his mysterious habits abound. So there’s no reason why, when they're assigned to work together on a project in English, they should discover they have anything in common, or even like each other; and they definitely shouldn't be falling in love.
As they bond over Edith Wharton’s tragic novella, Ethan Frome, the “bad boy” vibe Parker plays begins to dissipate. Soon, Jaden finds herself shedding her own “good girl” image: sneaking around to be with him, confiding in him, and ultimately falling hard for this leather-wearing, motorcycle-driving loner who plays into the rebel stereotype.
Still, Jaden can't shake the feeling that there's more to Parker than he's letting on. He's hiding something from her, and discovering the truth means reconciling the Parker she's grown to love with the person he really is. Because it's possible that his life inside the classroom—everything Jaden knows—is one, massive lie.
More details to come!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Guest Blogging Today

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to drop a quick line to let you know that I'm guest blogging on Jennifer Hudock's blog (The Inner Bean) today.

You can read my post here.

Also, check back in the next few days . . . because I think it's time for a cover reveal for my next project. :)

Happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Sales

If there is one thing that, as indies, we love, it's knowing each other's sales numbers. So, on this first day of March, I leave you with my official February numbers:

US Kindle: 33

UK Kindle: 2

BN Nook: 32

I mentioned in my previous post that I met my sales goal (50 books) about five days early. I'm hesitant to post another goal, because sales are so unpredictable from week to week. In fact, over half of these sales dropped in the last half of the month. Still, it's something to work toward, and motivates me to get my name out there. So . . . I'll say that, for March, I'd like to sell 100 copies. :)

I will be releasing another book this month, so maybe that will help. (Stay tuned for more info!)

I know a lot of authors are playing around with their prices (especially lowering to 99 cents) to build readership. I can't say that's something I'll never do . . . but it's not something I'm going to try yet. I seem to be gaining readers with the $2.99 price point, and I'm happy with the increase I'm seeing. If it ain't broke . . . you know. :)

And yes, my February numbers outsold December and January combined.

I'm sitting at 67 sales for the (short) month. :)