Sunday, March 23, 2014

Amazon Author Central

So, as you may have heard (understatement, much?) MY FIRST NOVEL -- PRIMAL INSTINCT -- RELEASED THIS WEEK!! I've had friends send me pictures from stores all over the country: Georgia, Texas, California. I even have friends in Europe and Australia who hope to see it on shelves when it releases there the first week of April.

And, just today, I got to see it for myself on the shelves. At Walmart, no less. :-)

It's been an exciting week, clouded only slightly by the fact that Primal Instinct's release was sandwiched between two deadlines for my next books: Book 2 of the Omega Sector Series was due March 17, and the first three chapters of Book 3 is due April 1. It's a busy time.

So... deadlines and promotions and excitement, and in the midst of it, a terrible, frightening discovery:

Amazon Author Central. 

Cue evil music: Dun. Dun. Dunnnnnnn.

I thought Facebook was the greatest time-sucking force in the universe. I was wrong, at least for authors.

Author Central is really a pretty cool tool, it allows authors to add promotional and biographical info readers might want. I was able to add a quote from the wonderful Romantic Times review for Primal Instinct, as well as some other professional reviews and info about myself. So anything you see on an Amazon page that says "Editorial Review" or "More About the Author" stems from what an author has put in from Author Central. (Here's mine - click then scrolled down below to below "product details")

Harlequin actually handles the other stuff that readers see on the amazon page: front cover, first chapter, back cover. The reader reviews I can see, but can't do anything about them.

All this was great, until I discovered that I could see my "Author Rank" (where I stood in terms of all authors on Amazon).

Or, where Primal Instinct ranked in terms of romantic suspense suspense books:

Or where it stood in terms of all the books sold in the Kindle Store. Here it's #7,029; the highest I've seen it was in the 6000s.

Now, #7029 out of over 1,000,000 books is not too shabby.  I was thrilled. But then I realized this number was updated every hour.

Every hour I had a new rank in Amazon. Every. Hour.

Can you see where I'm going with this? Cue evil music again.

It didn't take long before I had to cut myself off cold turkey. It's easy to "just check" every time you sit down at the computer. Only takes 5-10 minutes. But I quickly figured out that 5-10 minutes lost each hour leads to 1-2 hours of lost productivity per day.

As someone so eloquently put it: Ain't nobody got time for that.

Plus, there's nothing I can do about it, really. I have already forced all my poor family and friends to buy my book. I've promoted it on social media and different blog tours.

I'm a new author. Primal Instinct is my first book, and a category romance besides. I'm not holding my breath for a NY Times or USA Today bestseller status any time soon. But maybe some day.

Until then I'll take the advice that bestselling author B.J. Daniels gave me: The best promotion an author can do is to keep writing good books that people want to read.

And stay off Amazon's Author Central.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Agony of the First Draft

So, this is how I've been feeling for the past two weeks, as I've struggled to finish Book #2 in the 4-book Omega Sector Series:

I'm pretty sure I've even looked like that guy in the last few days. But now, with no intent to be sacrilegious whatsoever, I can honestly say: It. Is. Finished.

The first draft, that is.

As I write more (this is the fourth complete novel I've written) I'm beginning to understand more about my personal writing process.

My process evidently involves writing a painful first draft, sobbing the whole time that:
I'm not a "real" writer, 
Nobody understands how hard this really is,
I'm always behind schedule, 
This is the worst book that has ever been written. Ever.
I just want to watch TV!
I have no intrinsic talent,
I'm sure I have permanent spine issues from sitting at this computer for so many hours,
My editor will laugh when she reads this book and burn my contract,
Why am I doing this again? 
All of these things run through my head -- constantly -- when I am writing. Capt Awesome (my poor husband) and a few of my friends take the brunt of the crazy most of the time during my first draft period, making it safe for me to be around other humans.

I reach a stress level while writing every book where I do this laugh/cry thing. I'm overwhelmed with stress but then Capt Awesome says something funny and I just totally lose it: laughing hysterically and sobbing uncontrollably at the same time. It's quite funny and yet very disturbing at the same time.

Just doing my part to make sure my kids have something to talk to their therapists about when they get older.

But then I finish the first draft, and realize that, somehow, everything is going to be alright.

Because once I finish that first draft, I have something to work with. I no longer have a blank screen in front of me, taunting me with it's emptiness -- reflecting my own inadequacies.

Instead I have something that can be molded into, hopefully, a pretty decent story. It may take a bunch of reworking, changing, or even eliminating: but it's never as scary as the first draft.

But if I had stopped and camped out in the hysteria of my own mind during the first draft, then I'd be stuck there. I'd never realize how a first draft can so easily be turned into something actually readable. By other people, even!

But it has to be written first. First drafts are unavoidable.

 I'll try to remember all this next month when I'm back in the throes of the first draft of Book 3. But somehow, I doubt I'll remember.