What I Have Done and Learned

4 H emblemThat title cracks me up. It was the name of the workbook we had to finish every year for 4-H Club in elementary school. My sisters and I used to laugh about it. I’m sure the wonderful 4-H people weren’t think of native rural Southern dialect. At least I hope not. “I’ve done gone and learned this!” “She’s done gone and got hitched!” “He’s done and learned how to play the geetar!”

But I digress. (How trite!)

I really have learned a great deal in the past two weeks. I always knew that nothing promotes an author’s books like writing another book, but I have actually proven it to myself. When I published Forever Yours, Yours by Design, Book 3, the other books in the series began to sell again. I’ve already started writing a new series which I hope to publish at the end of the summer.

I’ve also learned that having great betas (editors) is very important. People like the story, but many of them comment specifically on how well the books are edited. Readers are distracted by mechanical and grammatical errors, plot deviations, over-exposition, and stiff dialog. They want limited narrative sections and more interaction between the characters. They don’t like stumbling over extra words carelessly left in a passage after the author has edited.

book banner

Better covers attract more readers. With the advent of smart phones and Kindle Fire, even e-book readers get that cover, and a great cover just jumps out of that library. I like color and drama – in book covers. Not so much in life.

Which series would you buy? This set which doesn’t match?

Or would you prefer this set which does?Accidentally Yours kindle cover

Pricing is a great big hairy deal. I don’t pay more than $5.00 for an e-book (unless it’s a runaway best seller), so I don’t charge more than $4.99. As an indie author, I can’t control the price of my print books. I make the books cost as little as I can, and I put them in the Kindle Match program.

Sincerely Yours, KDP coverForever Yours, KindleIf the reader buys a print copy, she gets a Kindle copy free. To me, that’s fair. People have gotten away from having shelves full of books. Open concept modern design is all the rage, and stacks of dusty books don’t fit into that design scheme. I view it as a great compliment readers buy a print copy of my book. They are allowing my work to take up precious space in their homes.

Good formatting is essential. I don’t like to read books in which the font types and sizes are all over the place. I stopped reading a book that I really liked because the font was so huge it was distracting, even when I adjusted it as much as I could in my smartphone. There are also tricks regarding ellipses and dashes which indie authors (and traditional publishers) should learn and use so that there aren’t big chunks of space at the ends of lines. The look should be uniform throughout all the books of a series. I made those mistakes on my first series (The Guardian Trilogy) but corrected them in my second (Yours by Design). One day I’ll go back to The Guardian Trilogy, do new covers, and reformat, but that will have to wait.

I accept that there will be people who don’t like my work. I accept that some of those people will give me bad, even unfair and cruel, reviews. Most of those people have never written a book, and they have no idea how difficult it is. I’m a freight train, and I refuse to let those people derail me.

In writing, sure and steady wins the race. I’m not the type of writer who can churn out a book every two months. That saps my creativity. However, I rarely take a break from writing. I write, edit, rewrite, edit, and continue the cycle until I have something I would enjoy reading myself.

If you are a fledgling writer, hang in there. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

Incidentally, don’t forget to enter the Forever Yours giveaway!

9 thoughts on “What I Have Done and Learned

  1. Laura Hile

    I appreciate the “slow and steady wins” lesson. Why it takes me so long to write a book I do not know. Page by page I get there.

    Congratulations on your growing success. Your fan base, it is a-growing!

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  2. Susan Kaye

    Congratulations on the latest edition to your “family.” For my part, Churchill’s best quote came from a book he wrote on taking up painting later in life. “But if, on the contrary, you are inclined–late in life though it be–to reconnoitre a foreign sphere of limitless extent, then be persuaded that the first quality that is needed is Audacity.”

    Audacity and steadiness go hand-in-hand.

    Onward.

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      Thank you, Sue! There are so many great Churchill quotes that I had difficulty choosing just one. That man is a well of “not quitting” quotes. He was one determined gentleman.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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