My Self-Pub Journey

book marketing 2

Regardless if you self-pub or not, you will be responsible for the marketing of your book.

That was one of the most depressing things I discovered as a new author. I naively believed that once I wrote an amazing story my publisher would take care of the rest. Unfortunately, unless you are an A-list client, the marketing of your story rests upon your shoulders. If I swore, I would probably drop a stronger phrasing of “dang it” right now.

OK, so we have to market our books, how do we do it? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but writing isn’t exactly a social activity. But, to sell books, we have to be social. Dang it!

Alright, I just ate a batch of cookie dough and now I’ve accepted the fact that I must not only write, but I must learn how to market. That’s what this series on my blog is going to be dedicated to. I recently came off the fence and decided self-publishing was for me. There were a number of things that influenced my decision, but the fact that I was responsible for marketing my book with or without a publisher was the deciding factor.

As I progress along the road of self-publishing I will share what I learn along the way. I’d love to hear your feedback about what has worked for you or what has failed. Also, I’m open to new ideas about marketing.

Without further ado, I welcome you My Self-Pub Journey. Let’s do this, dang it!

Step 1: Claim Your Domain
-Where do I begin? Create a Blog and Claim Your Domain

Step 2: Build an Email List (coming soon)
-What is an email list and why is it important?
-Creating a budget friendly marketing campaign using welcome and follow-up emails.
-Begin your campaign.

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Why a Blog?

blog

We hear it all the time, set up a blog. And we think, that’s all nice and fun, but I’ve got nothing to say. That, I have learned, is a big fat lie. We are writers, we have a ton to say.

But why is a blog so important to a writer? The answer is, platform.

Platform is a word we hear thrown around all the time in the writing world. A platform is a basically how you let the world know about you. It’s a base you stand on and say, “This is me. Read what I have to write. You’ll like it, I promise.”

There area a thousand ways to promote your work on social media, but before you head into the world of Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, you MUST start a blog and here’s why. A blog is a landing point for all of your fans. Your social media accounts should lead people to your blog. Your blog is your home and your social media accounts are the road signs directing people so they don’t get lost trying to find the party.

You don’t have to be some computer whiz to start a blog. Go to WordPress.com and get started. You can find tuturiols all over the web about how to create a blog. I personaly prefer WordPress. I’ve used Blogger in the past but WordPress allows a little more freedom, which I like.

Things to consider when starting a blog:

  1. Responsive Program: Choose a program that is responsive, meaning it’s formated to work with a cell phone. WordPress is reponsive.
  2. About You: Create your “about” section first. Then consider what you’ll blog about. You don’t have to blog right away, just get your site set up and your posts will come to you.
  3. Use Pictures: Always use a high-quality picture with each post and put it at the top of your post. Posts with pictures get read more than posts without pictures.
  4. Be Human: Show Don’t Tell.
  5. Have Fun: It’s a big world and there are millions of blogs out there. Don’t worry about followers just play with it for a while and make your mistakes when you don’t have anyone watching. When you feel like you’ve got it figured out, begin promoting your site.
  6. Publishing Options: WordPress has a few options I always like to use before I publish a post: “Sharing” & “More Options.” I will cover how to use these options in a future post.
  7. Keep People Reading Your Blog: In a later post I will discuss how to use links to keep people reading your blog, or how to link people to resources you want to recommend.

That about covers it for now. Go out and create your blog. If you would like, go ahead and post a link to your blog in the comments below. And feel free to share other tips you might have.

Nicole L. Ochoa #RevmyBio

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Woo Hoo! Super excited to enter my manuscript in #RevPit.  Under Western Skies is a inspirational romance complete at 97,000 words, but the editors will get to learn more about Sarah’s story when I submit.

Five fun things about me that have nothing to do with writing:

I’m a HUGE Kon Mari Fan
I have completed the entire Kon Mari de-cluttering program.  It took 8 months but it has changed our lives.  Marie Kondo: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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My hubby sorting his tops.  I do not love this shirt, but it brings him joy.

I’m Wyoming Born & Raised
I grew up in Wyoming and my family works in the beef-cattle industry.  Thanks to my parents, I am a proud owner of a cow named Pumpkin.  When Pumpkin was a calf she liked to climb into the feeder to eat.

2016-3-10 Wyoming H

Pumpkin in the Feeder

I’m a Clydesdale Wogger (Super Slow-not-so-skinny Walk/Jogger)
I formed a running group a few years back and helped 50 women cross the finish line of a half-marathon…I was five months pregnant at the time, so it’s fair to say it wasn’t my fastest run.  Check out our blog:  The Pacific Coasters

pacific coaster

I love seeing our bracelets and t-shirts running around town.

Cookie Dough, YUM!
I am a huge fan of cookie dough, raw eggs and all.  Friday’s at our home are called, “Movie and Cookie Dough Day.”  The Movies are old school westerns and classics like The Princess Bride and The Man From Snowy River.

dough

Kinesi-what?
I have a degree in Kinesiology /ki-nee-see-ol-uh-jee/…exercise science, but I ended up becoming an elementary school teacher.  I only taught for two years before I left the workforce to raise my family.

2015-7-17 Newman Family Pictures M Ochoa's.JPG

With six people it’s hard to get us all acting normal.

 

That about covers me.  I look forward to getting to know the #RevPit editors and meeting more people in the writing community throughout the coming weeks.  I recommend checking out KJ Harrowick’s blog hop for other #RevmyBio’s.

“Do the thing!”

do the thing

List of Common Writing Errors and How to Fix Them

I am studying, The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing, by Bonnie Trenga.  This are my notes from her “Top Ten Writing Misdemeanors.”

it’s vs. its
The only time it’s should be used is if you can substitute the words “it has” or “it is” in the sentence.

who’s vs. whose
who’s means “who is” or “who has”
whose is possessive:  Whose book?  Whose car?

Cliches:  Here’s a list of cliches to avoid like the plague (see what I did there)

Similar Sounding Words
similar words-2.jpg

Hyphenated Compounds
A hyphenated compound come before what it is describing.  It doesn’t need to be hyphenated if it comes after what it describes.
1.  Example: The red-haired children jumped on the trampoline.
2. Example:  The children who jumped on the trampoline were red haired.

Fewer vs. Less

  1. Fewer is used when an item is countable.
    1. Example:  There were fewer pencils in the drawer than before the party.
  2. Less is used when and item is uncountable.
    1. Example:  There were less stars visible in the city sky than the country sky.

Generic Vocabulary & Phrases the Bore Readers

Generic Phrases:
is able to
there is
it is
this is

Generic Vocabulary
people
man
thing
good
interesting
different

More Writing Resources

Microsoft Word - VagueWordsList.doc

Wordy Writing

I am studying The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga.  These are my notes from her chapter on Wordy Writing.

How to Tighten Up Wordy Writing

Take the wordy phrase and convert it using the formula below.

More Writing Resources

Wordy Writing Subs-2

Super Duper, Extremely Lengthy Sentences

I am studying the book, The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing, by Bonnie Trenga.  These are my notes on long sentences and how to correct them.

Long Sentences and How to Correct Them

  1. Instead of using and or but, create a new sentence by substituting the following words:
    1. And: “in addition,” or “also,” (also should be added within the sentence)
      1. Incorrect:  The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together, and he dusted off the twigs.
      2. Correct:
        1. “in addition”- The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together.  In addition, he dusted off the twigs.
        2. “also”- The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together.  He also dusted off the twigs.
    2. But:  “however
      1. Incorrect: The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together, but he forgot to pick up some more twigs.
      2. Correct: The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together.  However, he forgot to pick up some more twigs.
    3. What out for use of these words often:
      1. Incorrect:  The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine which was so big he had a hard time flying because he was a small bird, when realized after he began stitching together his nest that he forgot to pick up some more twigs.
      2. Correct: The small bird had a hard time flying to his nest with his mouth full of heavy twine.  After he began mending his nest he realized he forgot to pick up some more twigs

Long Sentences

  1. Find the MAIN IDEA and make it your 1st sentence.
  2. An em dash announces a break in thought.
  3. Keep the subject next to the verb, separated by no more than one extra thought.
    1. Incorrect:  The bird, with a mouth full of twine, who was small, had a hard time flying to his nest.
    2. Correct:  The small bird, with a mouth full of twine, had a hard time flying to his nest.
  4. Place no more than three ideas in a sentence.
    1. One Idea:  The small bird flew to his nest.
    2. Two Ideas:  The small bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of heavy twine.
    3. Three Ideas:  The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of heavy twine and he barely made it to his nest.

More Writing Resources

Modifier Placement-Help Please!

Did you know modifiers can be misplaced, dangle, and squint?  Writing is hard.

In the book, The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier:How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing, Bonnie Trenga provides a lesson on how to make sure our modifiers are utilized correctly.  Here are my notes from that chapter.

Modifier Placement

Beginning of a Sentence:  Keep the noun next to the modifier.

  1. The noun should come right after the comma
    1. Dressed in a purple gown, the elephant walked onto the stage.
      1. Noun:  elephant
      2. Modifier:  dressed in a purple gown
    2. Clues that a misplaced modifier begins a sentence:
      1. a past participle (past tense verb) begins the sentence
        1. Incorrect:  Dressed in a purple gown, the stage was bright that the elephant walked onto.
        2. CorrectDressed in a purple gown, the elephant walked onto the bright stage.
      2. as, like, or unlike begin the sentence
        1. Incorrect:  Unlike the ring master, the elephant walked onto the bright stage, who waited in the shadows.
        2. Correct:  The elephant walked onto the bright stage, unlike the ring master who waited in the shadows.
      3. if, it, or there occur after the comma
        1. Incorrect:  The ring master raised his arms, it was quiet.
        2. Correct:  The ring master raised his arms, the room became quiet.
        3. Better:  The room quieted as the ring master raised his arms.
      4. an -ing word begins a sentence or is the 2nd or 3rd word following a word in the chart below:
        1. Incorrect: After snapping his whip, the elephant bowed.
        2. Correct:  After snapping his whip, the ring master got the elephants attention and she bowed.
        3. Better:  The elephant bowed when the ring master snapped his whip.
          Words that Often Precede a Misplaced Modifier that Ends In

Middle/End of a Sentence

  1. Clues that a modifier has been misplaced within a sentence:
    1. a phrase begins with that or who
      1. who: describes people
        1. Incorrect: The ring master directed the elephant, who was wearing a top hat.
        2. Correct:  The ring master who was wearing a top hat, directed the elephant.
        3. Even Better:  The ring master, wearing a top hat, directed the elephant.
      2. that: describes things and animals
        1. Incorrect:  The elephant followed the ring master’s directions, that was wearing a purple gown.
        2. Correct:  The elephant that was wearing a purple gown, followed the ring master’s directions.
        3. Even Better:  The elephant, wearing a purple gown, followed the ring master’s directions.
    2. a phrase that could start with that or who, but doesn’t
      1. Incorrect: The ring master the elephant followed was tall and handsome.
      2. Correct:  The ring master who the elephant followed was tall and handsome.

Other Resources

More Writing Resources
Grammar Girl:  Misplaced Modifiers
Grammar Bytes:  Rules for Finding and Fixing Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

6 Ways to Identify Passive Voice

cookies

I love cookies, correction, I love cookie dough, but I do not love my passive voice.  I am currently reading the book The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga, a copy editor, to learn how to change my passive writing into words that jump off the page.

What is a passive voice?
A passive voice is a sentence in which the recipient of the verb’s action is the subject instead of the object. Let me clarify with the following sentence:

The cat spilled the bowl of milk.
Verb:  the action happening in the sentence (spilled)
Subject:  the person or thing performing the action (cat)
Object:  the person or thing receiving the action (bowl)

If we gave each part of the sentence a symbol:
Verb: = (spilled)
Subject: x (cat)
Object:  y (bowl)
We would create this equation x=y, or cat spilled bowl.

I know the equation doesn’t make sense mathematically, but I like how is shows the = separating the x and the y, or in other words, how the verb separates the subject and the object.

In a passive sentence this equation is flipped:  y=x (object verb subject)

Example:  The bowl of milk was spilt by the cat.  (bowl spilt cat)

By making this sentence passive we shift the focus from the cat to the bowl.  Please note that not all passive writing needs to be corrected, but it should be used sparingly.

6 Ways to Identify Passive Voice

I.  Weak Verbs
Weak verbs are a common indicator of passive voice, especially the verb forms of “to be” (see chart below).

Example:

  • Passive Sentence:  The bowl of milk was spilt by the cat.
  • What is the “to be” word used? (was)
  • Let’s get rid of the offending word and rearrange the sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The cat spilled the bowl of milk.

Weak Verbs

Weak Verbs to be.jpg

II.  Past Participles
Past participles are a past tense form of a verb that usually end in -ed, -d, -t, -en, and -n.  They can be used as either verbs or adjectives.  Here is a nice resource of irregular past participles.

Example:

  • Passive Sentence:  The cat was washed by the boy.
  • What is the past participle word used? (washed)
  • We can keep the past participle, but by getting rid of the “to be” verb and rearranging the sentence we can create an active sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The boy washed the cat.

III.  The Word “by” In a Sentence with a Past Participle
If the word “by” is in a sentence with past participle, you might have a passive sentence.

Example:

  • Passive Sentence:  The boy was scratched by the cat.
  • Do you see the word “by“?
  • Let’s get rid of the offending words and rearrange the sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The cat scratched the boy.

IV. The Word “that”
When the word “that” is used with a form of “to be” you might have a passive sentence.

Example:

  • Passive Sentence:  The cat that scratched the boy was hissing.
  • We see the word “that,” so what is the “to be” word used? (was)
  • Let’s get rid of the offending words and rearrange the sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The cat hissed as he scratched the boy.

V.  Nominalizations
A nominalization is a verb that has been turned into a noun, generally ending in -tion or -ing.  A nominalization can occur at the beginning of a sentence or can be hidden within a sentence.

Example 1:  Nominalization That Starts a Sentence

  • Passive Sentence:  Loathing was evident on the cats face after the bath.
  • What is the nominalization (or verb turned into a noun)? (loathing)
    • loathing is now a thing we can see on the cat’s face
  • Let’s get rid of the offending word and rearrange the sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The cat loathed the boy for giving him a bath.

Example 2:  Nominalization Hidden Within a Sentence

  • Passive Sentence:  A loathing of the boy was evident after the bath.
  • What is the nominalization? (loathing)
    • The phrase structure “a loathing of” or “the loathing of” often idicates the use of a nominalization in the middle of the sentence.
  • Let’s get rid of the phrase a loathing of and rearrange the sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The cat loathed the boy for giving him a bath.
    • Do you see how we gave this sentence a subject.  The passive sentence didn’t let us know it was the cat who loathed the boy, the active sentence brings the cat into the scene.

VI.  Vague -ing Words
A vague -ing word is often associated with a sentence that is difficult for a reader to follow.  It can often be changed as the sentence is rearranged, creating an active sentence.  Vague -ing words often occur after one of the following words:

Vague -ing Words

Example:

  • Passive Sentence:  The cat walked away while shaking off the water.
  • What is the trigger word and the vague -ing word? (while shaking)
  • Let’s get rid of the offending phrase and rearrange the sentence.
  • Active Sentence:  The cat shook off the water as he walked away.

More Writing Resources

#Pitchmadness Peeps

If you competed in #PitchMadness 2017 I would love to learn from you.

If you are willing, please post the following in the comments:

1. Title
2. Genre
3. Category
4. 35 Word Pitch
5. Twitter Handle if you’d like

Here’s Mine (greatly edited after all I learned during the week)

Title:  Under Western Skies
Genre/Category:  YA Sweet Romance

35 Word Pitch
When Sarah’s boyfriend dies she’s left with a broken promise and a dwindling faith.  Searching for peace, Sarah travels to California where a brooding surfer challenges her heart and a Mormon missionary tests her beliefs.

First 250
My foot tapped on the floor of my cousin’s car as we wound our way down the coastal highway.  I’d been waiting for this moment since my fifth grade state report on California.  Despite my being sent on this trip as part of an emotional hiatus, I found it hard to not feel some excitement.

“It’ll be a minute,” Brian said, annoyed by my tapping.

He was going to college in the town that was to be my new home for the next sixth months and got the lucky job of being my chaperone.  I could have stopped the tapping, but I didn’t.  He should know better than to conspire with my parents.

Using my boot to make a little more noise, we continued up the canyon.  It wasn’t until we reached the top that my tapping stopped and it came into view like a gigantic, blue, jack-in-the box.  Even though I’d been expecting it, the sight of the Pacific took my breath away.

“What do you think?” Brian asked as I stared out my window.

The sight of the waves beating against the cliffs and the gull sailing low across the endless landscape held me mesmerized.  “Is there a beach?”

Brian laughed.  “Do you plan on going swimming?”

“You make it sound like its cold.”

“Sarah, this isn’t San Diego.  You need a wet suit for this part of the ocean.”

I hadn’t accounted for that and turned my attention back to the sea.  A short while later Brian exited the highway and wound his way down the narrow streets toward a pier.

Responsibilities of a Beta Reader

o-open-book-facebook

“You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book.”

-Margaret Atwood

A “beta reader” is a person who will read your story to see if it is a fit for the market, and they will also provide valuable feedback to fix problem areas in your manuscript.

How to choose a Beta Reader:

  1. Find a person who reads your genre…a lot.  It doesn’t hurt if they are writers, but it is not a requirement.
  2. Find a person who is opinionated, but also knows how to express their thoughts without killing your dream.
  3. Find a person who is close, but not too close…we want them to speak their minds.
  4. Find a person who understands that this is still a book in process.
  5. Fina a person who might be able to offer insight into setting, ways of life, or technical terminology.

Guidance for your Beta Reader:

  1. Provide a Clear Deadline
    1. I usually contact my beta readers a month before I send them my manuscript.  I don’t want to burden them if they don’t have time.  I usually ask that their critique be returned withing a month.  I also send a reminder a week before the deadline.
  2. How does the Beta Reader want your manuscript?
    1. Paper Copy
    2. Electronic Copy (Microsoft Word, Google Doc)
    3. Both
    4. Note:  I like to mail some fun office supplies with my manuscript, gel pens, highlighters, sticky notes, etc.
  3. How will the critique be returned?  (Provide Reminders)
    1. About a week before the deadline I send out a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if I sent a paper copy of my manuscript.
    2. A good gentle reminder is to send a thank-you card with maybe a small gift card or thoughtful message a week before the deadline.
  4. What your Beta Reader doesn’t need to do:
    1. Line Edits (grammar, sentence structure, spelling, etc. unless something is obvious…this will take place once every piece of the manuscript it in place)
  5. Things for your Beta Reader to address:
    1. How is the Title of the book?
    2. Is the main character likeable?
    3. What are your thoughts on the other characters?  Who stuck out and why?  Is there anyone that needs work?
    4. Are there places where the story drags?  Are there parts of the story where you forgot you were supposed to be editing because you were so caught up?
    5. Where did you laugh, cry, feel anger…etc?
    6. Where did it sound more like a journal entry rather than a story?
    7. What things do you remember from the story?  Was there a favorite part?  A least favorite part?
    8. How did you feel about the ending?  Did you feel like everything was resolved?
    9. Did you have questions about certain things?  Or maybe there were things that didn’t make sense.
    10. How did you feel about the book’s length?
    11. Did the story keep you guessing or was it predictable?  Please use examples.
    12. Any other thoughts or suggestions?