We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Uncomfortably Dark serves as a vessel to project my passions, and lift up authors from all genre's to greater heights in their endeavors. Below, you will find some tools, resources, and websites that have helped me along my journey. I hope they will do the same for you.
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So, I wrote a book, now what?
The world of indie publishing is not an easy one to navigate, full of authors, all doing the same thing, trying to be seen and heard, tiny rowboats in an ocean full of steamers and cruise ships, hoping not to succumb to the undertow or be eaten by the Great White sharks of the business.
How then, do we compete with Blake Crouch, Iain Rob Wright, Scott Nicholson, Bentley Little, Matt Shaw, Jeff Menapace, and Wrath James Wright, or... gasp, the King? We work. Period. Day and Night. Put in the work. Pay your Dues. Grind and grind harder. And accept, that it’s not a competition, not at all, even though it can feel like it.
Readers, real readers, read thousands of books in their lifetime, and there are millions of readers in the world. There is room for us all. The key is to get those readers to notice you, without the backing of traditional publishing, agents, and PR people. In my recent journey, down this path of indie publishing, I have learned so many things from so many great people that I cannot begin to thank them all. What I can do, however, is pay it forward, which has been my motto since day one. That is what I hope to do with this page.
I will say this to you, congratulations, on getting that book done, or novella, or collection or being published in your first anthology. Congratulations! It’s something to be proud of, but do not let the pride of this first step blind you to the humbleness of the remaining steps. There is a lot to do, so let’s get started!
Why do I need an editor? I am really good with grammar, in fact, I’m awesome. Kudo’s on thinking that, I thought it too. But then, I stepped away from my manuscript for 4 months, patting myself on the back, planning the sequel and began working with a mentor. Less than a week after working with my mentor, he very bluntly recommended that I take another look at my “published product.” When I did, I was mortified and embarrassed, because you see, I AM really good with English and grammar. I went over my book what seemed like a hundred times, and that was after proofreading by my beta readers, and a retired English teacher.
But, after being away from my book for so long, I could finally see it with fresh, objective eyes. And I saw every error, every missing comma, every typo and wrong word, in shocking clarity. I was appalled and immediately started over with a fine tooth comb. Six months after I originally published my debut novel, I held a mini-relaunch, complete with a new cover and a freshly, albeit, heavily edited manuscript, and it was a product to be proud of, finally.
When you are writing your book, you live it, breathe it, sleep it. You edit, and revise, and edit and revise and those words become seared in your brain. You reach a point where you literally cannot SEE the mistakes, because your brain is inputting the correct information for you. This is why you need to take a break, before you finalize it for publishing.
Best advice I ever received, write it, edit it, revise it, then PUT IT AWAY, for at least 90 days. You will be glad you did, especially if you are a NEW author. Walk away! Start building your site, build your audience, begin to promote and build interest. You have a hundred other things to do, go do them.
Go back in 90 days, pull that file back up, then call that editor. You will immediately see why and you’ll be glad you did. Also, here is the hard part, be humble, be patient and be aware that they will rip your manuscript apart, gently, but yes, you will raise your hackles. Just breathe, that is their job and they are good at it. Any good editor worth a dime, will make your writing better and by default, your story. A good editor will become your partner in writing.
Their suggestions are 99% of the time, needed revisions and necessary corrections. They will catch the small things that you do not, they will help keep the story flowing and make sure your reader stays engaged and enthralled and not thrown off because you changed narration style in the middle. An editor is more than a proofreader, they look for ways to improve your readability, your story structure, your plot and help maintain consistency all the way through the novel.
Editing is expensive but there are ways to find great editors at reasonable rates. This is where those Facebook author groups come in handy. Start asking around, develop a good network of authors and you’ll find out that many of them do great editing on the side for great rates. You do not always have to resort to calling an expensive online editing service. At the end of the day, this is your product. Your story is your product, it is only as good as what you put into it. Look at your manuscript right now, is it the most professional representation of yourself? Don’t publish it until it is.
Beta Readers & ARC's
What are they and why do I need one? Great question, so glad that you asked. Let’s start with beta readers. Beta readers can be a great resource, when you get good ones. Start asking around early, as soon as you know you have a manuscript in the works. I am lucky enough to have friends and family that love to read, that were really interested in my book, so I had ten eager readers from the start. The obvious problem with friends and family is: will they tell you the truth? We like to hope so, but the best beta-reader mix is a couple of friends, a few acquaintances, and some readers that you don't know.
If you are already promoting your upcoming novel, put a post up asking for beta-reader interest, in READER groups, on Facebook or Instagram. Do not post these calls in Authors groups, as they are all doing the same thing you are. Sure, a couple of authors might offer to beta for you, but generally, this will be hit or miss and you cannot expect the same author to always beta read for you, because they did it once. They are working on their projects too. Make sure you are respectful of the author friendships that you are cultivating, those can really go a long way over time, you do not want to wear out your welcome by always expecting them to take on your projects too.
If you have a website, blog or newsletter, put a beta-reader call in those too. People will respond, most readers love to get their hands on something new and to be asked their opinion. Most readers will jump at the chance to be involved.
Okay, so what’s an ARC then? Another great question, let’s move on! So, ARC can mean two things. First-Amazon Review Committee. Sounds fancy doesn’t it? It is just what it implies. A group of folks willing to jump out on Amazon the day you release your novel, or at least that week, and BUY the kindle version and THEN leave a review of it. The best way to do this, is enlist your beta-readers to also be your ARC. They have already read it, and are best prepared to do an immediate review of it.
Well, if they already read it, why do they need to buy it? You are on a roll, dear friend, excellent question. They buy it, so the review shows as a verified purchase on Amazon. Less chance of Amazon removing it or not allowing.
As far as the purchase price goes, you control that, so for the debut week, set your price at .99. That way, your beta readers are not spending too much for something they already read, and hey, you never know what financial situation people are in. They’ll appreciate the low price tag, since they are doing you a favor. Also, a word of advice on this method, while it is widely used, when not used properly, it can cause you some issues later on, in Amazon world, namely due to the algorithms that run the beast that is Amazon. When enlisting your beta-readers to also commit to this obligation, make sure to only ask those that truly read the genre you are writing.
Why, if I ask them all, I’ll have more reviews? That is correct, however, it will skew the algorithms that now control who sees your book on Amazon. Why does that matter? Because, if half of your beta-readers, now become your ARC, and they normally only read romance, your book will now be pushed to other readers that normally read romance as based on the reviews and purchases by customers that normally buy romance.
For example: Mom, Aunt Jackie and Ethel all read romance. They all join your ARC and you write horror. You want Amazon to push your book to horror readers. When Mom, Aunt Jackie and Ethel purchase your book and leave a review, Amazon “thinks” your book falls into a genre they typically read and buy (romance), so now your book is being shown to other customers like them, not horror readers.
Okay, so you said two meanings for ARC, what's the second meaning? Moving right along then, the other meaning is just simply Advanced Review Copy. I have seen these produced and offered in a few ways. Some authors purchase proof copies from Amazon, after uploading their manuscript and offer those as ARC’s. Most, offer an edited version on PDF, Epub or Mobi file and just email those to their beta-readers and/or reviewers.
*Rule of thumb on reviewers, it is common courtesy and standard practice to offer your industry reviewers an ARC copy or file. Do not expect them to buy your book if you are asking them to review it.
Websites and Resources
For Authors Only
The below sites are designed for authors to help promote their books, collect email addresses from readers to add to a mailing list and to help them set up newsletters:
You will also need a reader magnet, which brings us to the next tool.
A reader magnet is a free book or short story that you can use to offer to readers that sign up on your list. This can also be the first chapter or two of a novel in order to pull them in and make them want to buy the book to read the rest. You can use the free program, Calibre, to format a reader magnet. It only takes a few minutes to set up.
Free Booksys- you can place an Ad on here for a targeted promotion that goes to a massive audience of readers that will download your book. Your book must be free for the day of the download. There is also a bargain newsletter they run, that you can place an ad for, and your book has to be on sale, must be $5.00 or less.
Stay tuned for my article on my recent success here (not a live link yet)
Try out this site too, join up as a new author. Set up a profile page. Set up a profile page on any free author site that you can. They also have a nice graphic media tool that allows you to create professional Ad's for your books in seconds to post on Instagram or Facebook.
Where to submit?
If you sign up for this newsletter, you will receive emails with lists of open calls from across the writing market. Many writers often cross over into other genre's, don't be afraid to submit to other genre's or poetry markets, if you dabble in verse.
Look for Open Calls being posted in the author groups on Facebook. I see calls being posted daily. Take a chance and submit!
Horror Podcasts-submit to the many great horror podcasts out there, such as Creepy, the NoSleep Podcast and Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, just to name a few favorites. Make sure to follow the submission guidelines for each.
Reviews-How to get them?
Browse the online reviewers, see who is new, send inquiries to see if you can get some new reviewers to review your books. Be sure to browse their site first. Find out what they read and what they do not read. Find out their current backlog and how they prefer to be contacted. Reviewers fill up months in advance; be mindful of this and be patient.
There should NOT be a charge for a book review, from anyone! If they say that there is a fee, move on. Paid reviews are NOT ETHICAL REVIEWS.
Also- Author to Author reviews-I know it sounds like a great idea, but it is not. Again, big red flag for Amazon. They will watch for this and flag you or begin to remove reviews. Ethics at work again, if you are trading a review with a fellow author that you admire, respect or are friends with, are you really going to give them a bad review?
Getting reviews takes time, but with proper marketing and promoting, you will get all the reviews you can handle.
Other things to consider:
A re-launch party: get a website up and running, refresh your online presence and build some hype up around your books.
Try having new covers made; that can go a long way towards refreshing interest.
Do cover reveals for the new covers.
Make sure to start posting your favorite reviews for your books. Let new readers see what your current fans are saying.
Get involved in author groups that offer help and insight. There is always room to improve writing skills.
Network! Network! Network!
Keep it Professional!
David Gaughran Free courses- Great Writer! Tons of free courses about how to promote and market your book. Sign up for his course, sign up for his newsletter. There is a ton to learn from him and it's mostly all free.
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