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Shit into fuel

Hello friends,

This has been an interesting week for me. Full of ups and dooooown(er)s.

The ups…

I’ve accomplished a lot with my novel, and I’m moving forward at an incredible pace. Also, I’m discovering I really enjoy the story. I may get through draft four or five before I start getting sick of reading it. (You writers know what I’m talking about 😂) Another plus…I can see a great deal of improvement in my first draft over those of my previous novels. I correct/change a lot less (let’s hope it’s because I make fewer errors and not that I’ve gotten worse at editing. Ha! But I’m going to be positive this year. So we’re going with improved writing skills.)

The downs…

I’ve still got a pretty severe case of imposter syndrome. I go from thinking that I’ve forgotten how to write to feeling like everything I write is complete crap anyway, and I don’t deserve to call myself a writer. But, as I’m trying to be positive this year, I thought about my imposter syndrome as I was walking and I realized it might be a good thing to have. After all, every writer I’ve ever exchanged chapters with that had (in my opinion) horrible stories/writing could not accept any criticism. The best I can figure is that they only trade work to gather praise and are confident that every word they write is gold. I have a hard time sharing (insert imposter syndrome here), but I appreciate constructive feedback. I got the most amazing (not because it was all positive) feedback from a beta reader (you know who you are!) and I feel better for clearly seeing my errors and being given the opportunity to fix them. Imposter Syndrome is good for me. It can be painful at times, but it makes me better and shouldn’t we all be trying to get better?

Another down of this week, I let an individual interfere with the way I feel about myself. I allowed them to reinforce my imposter syndrome by making me feel like the only reason anyone reads my stuff is my looks. Ugh! And maybe it was true for that person, and I’ve had things like this happen before. I even momentarily considered changing my name to A. Compeau or Al Compeau and putting up a male avi on my social media. Geez, I don’t owe anyone anything other than a story. I don’t have feelings for you. There isn’t anything “between us.” You may have noticed I stopped sharing book lines from Distant Spring while I was letting this person bother me. But I was quickly back to it.

To make it positive…

I realized I can’t change what other people think or do. I can’t even change how it makes me feel. So often people say, “don’t let it bother you” or “you shouldn’t care what other people think.” But I can’t help how things make me feel any more than I can help the things that others do. I can, however, turn that shit into fuel and let it drive me forward.

There is nothing wrong with the way I feel. There is nothing wrong with me. The reason I am the way I am is the same thing that makes me capable of doing the things that I do.

I won’t change me. Overall, I’m starting to love me.

But I will work to change the way I use what tries to drag me down.

Though I waver in feeling like I’ll ever be good enough, I firmly believe that I’m stubborn enough to do almost anything I set my mind to. It may take years and years, but I know I won’t give up! 2019 may be the year I see things start to happen, but if I don’t, I’m going to remember that every experience propels me closer to my goals.

Cheers!

Allie.

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Avoiding Bad Reviews

Hello friends,

I’m excited that award-winning author & experienced editor (and also my editor) Christina Kaye has agreed to write another guest post for my blog.

Thanks, Christina!

Avoiding Bad Reviews by Christina Kaye

“Not a bad story, but the editing is virtually non-existent!”

“It was a struggle to get through this book.”

“Editing was poor…grammar, spelling, and punctuation was so bad I could not get past page 5!” 

“It felt like I was reading a first draft of a book written by a middle school student!” 

These are a few sentences pulled from actual reviews left for real, published books on Amazon. They are painful to read, to be sure, and I feel badly for the authors who got these reviews. However, they could have easily been avoided. None of these reviews mentioned bad plot, character development, etc. They all referenced the lack of editing specifically. 

No one…I don’t care how proficient a writer you think you are…can self-edit and catch every mistake. Hell, even editors miss some things when working on your books. The commonly accepted industry standard is that we’ll miss about 5% of your mistakes, no matter how thorough and meticulous we try to be in our work. 

That’s why my advice to all authors, especially new ones, is to find an editor BEFORE you even think about self-publishing. I know, I know. Editors can be expensive and not everyone has $500 – $1,000 lying around to invest in their book. But keep in mind,  you get what you pay for. By seeking out bargain basement prices for editing services, you risk hiring some random person who just up and decided to be an editor one day, rather than an experienced, educated editor with the right background and the credentials to warrant their rates. Not to mention, nowadays, many editors (including myself) offer and accept payment plans for their fees.  True, you’re still paying that “high” amount, but keep in mind the risk versus reward payoff. 

Risk – if you do not hire an editor, you might possibly wind up with reviews such as those listed at the top of this post. Sure, you may sell a few books here and there to friends and family who support you and your dreams, but once reviews like this are posted, especially when it’s more than one, you will see that your sales suffer.

Reward – if, however, you invest in a quality, professional editor, yes, you have put up some money in the beginning, but the odds that you will get much better reviews and thereby higher sales and more royalties increase exponentially.  You are investing in your book and though nothing is guaranteed in life, you certainly stand a much better chance of succeeding with a professionally edited, polished book.

Once you have found a brilliant editor, my advice is to go through the MS one last time before you turn it over. Why? Isn’t that like cleaning the house before the maid comes over? True. But I can’t tell you how many books I’ve edited that are in such poor shape, I wind up basically ghostwriting rather than editing. Going over the book one last time before turning it over will help you and your editor. Keep in mind, a lot of editors (including me) will charge less the better shape the book is in. So, you could potentially help yourself by simply taking a few hours to go through it one last time. 

So save yourself some embarrassment and do your book a favor…hire an editor before you publish your book and while I cannot guarantee your book will be a best-seller, I can guarantee you will be more likely to avoid these kinds of negative reviews and you may even see that your sales and royalties are much higher than they would have been had you not hired one.

For anyone interested in learning more about how to find the right editor, how to work with an editor, or what to expect during the editing process, please reach out to me via email. You’re never bothering me. I’m here to help.

And anyone interested in speaking to me about my editing services offered, rates, payment plans, or reading testimonials, please visit my website at www.xtinakayebooks.com and reach out to me ASAP as my schedule books out usually 2 months in advance.

Thanks and good luck!

Talk soon.

Christina Kaye

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Searching for beta-readers

Hello friends,

I’m toying with the idea of independently publishing an adult romance with light sci-fi elements that I wrote.

To get it in the best shape possible before sending it to the editor, I’m searching for beta-readers to give me constructive feedback.

If you’re interested, please email me at kalicecompeau@outlook.com and let me know you’d like a copy.

Here is a quick blurb…

Hearts Mingling

Cory Winters finds herself in an out-of-this-world romance when she meets a man from another galaxy, who leaves her feeling used, and when she questions the reasons behind her feelings for him, realizes that she was overlooking true love closer to home.

Thank you!

Allie

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Traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing

Hello friends,

As you all know, I’ve been sticking it out in the querying trenches, and it’s been hard on my heart. I know I need to develop a thick skin and over and again I’ve heard, “Remember, this is a subjective business.”

Yes, I know. I completely understand that. I know market trends matter. And I also know that nothing makes sense. Seriously.

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Listen to this…

I have a friend who works as a literary intern. So basically, she wades through piles of query letters to sort through those the agent may be interested in and she also reads manuscripts for the agent as a screen before the agent reads them. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say I know that nothing makes sense. My friend read a book that, although it wasn’t her favorite genre, she couldn’t put down. It was a page-turner and was incredibly well written. She passed the book on to the agent who said that she really gobbled it up but wasn’t going to take it on. Why, you ask? Oh, because the author had approximately 11 books published through small presses. The agent actually called him a hack even though she agreed the writing was very well done. But it doesn’t stop there, friends. The intern asked if he could publish under a pen name. The agent said he definitely should but still wasn’t going to take him on. In the same conversation, the agent asks the intern to read another book. The agent had already read it and said it was “a mess,” written by a debut author. A MESS people! And why was she willing to take on a manuscript that is a mess? Well, because the author was a District Attorney. Goodness knows no one can write things unless it’s true to life. Good thing when I wrote my middle grade fantasy about witches, I really was one.

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So here’s the point of this blog post. I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter what I do or how many years I spend writing new books. I can continue querying agents until my heart cracks one too many times and just becomes a pile of dust ready to be blown away like a fart in the wind.

Since I started this blog and started working hard on my social media presence, I’ve had countless people ask me where they can read my writing, tell me they enjoy my blog, and ask me when they can buy my book. Am I missing out on sales and sharing my work because I’m so wrapped up in worry about the stigma associated with being a self-published/indie author? One, who by the way, makes 75% of royalties rather than 15 or maybe 35%. It’s no secret that authors have to do their own marketing whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. Does it really matter that my book isn’t available in a bookstore? I can’t remember the last time I went to one anyway. I buy everything on Amazon.

Just out of curiosity I did a poll asking whether or not people buy books from self-published authors. While it isn’t a large sample, I was surprised by the results.

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Most people said they do or would read a book by a self-published author. I tried to think back to the time before I thought about publishing any of my work at all and wondered…did I have any bias against self-published books? No, I didn’t. Not at all. If I perused books on my kindle, I would pick whatever sounded interested. I didn’t care who wrote it. I didn’t check the publishing house. I didn’t even look to see if it was a self-published book.

So where did I get this idea that there was a lot of bad stigma surrounding self-published authors? I realized it was from other writers, authors, and traditional publishing.

As I query and collect rejection letters, I’m reminded again of all the times someone has said to me, “I love your blog, where can I buy your book? Or do you have anything else I can read?” And I’ve had to say no. Why? Oh, because it’s sitting on my computer where–quite possibly–no one will ever see it.

I know that there are quite a few (especially romance) indie authors who have done quite well for themselves. So why don’t I try?

I know I need to

  • Pay for proper editing
  • Pay for good cover art
  • Pay someone to format things correctly
  • Invest in marketing myself
  • Maybe hire a PA

But two of those things I’m going to have to do anyway. I’m not going to slap some poorly crafted, first-draft turd up on Amazon and call it a day. I’m going to work hard to showcase my work in a way that I can be proud of. Something that when I sell, I get to keep a large portion of royalties for myself, to invest in myself and future projects. I’ll also have more control over…EVERYTHING.

Yet here I am. Still questioning what I should do? But why? Perhaps it’s the validation. Maybe it is me wanting to be accepted by other authors as a “real” author. But I can tell you, I’ve read a lot of self-published, indie press, or yet unpublished work that I have adored and I’ve read traditionally published crap that I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

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I would love to know what you all think. Please leave a comment below.

And as always…

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What Every Author Needs To Know About Editing A Manuscript

Hi friends,

As you know, I’ve finished my book and I’ve begun the long process of editing it. I’ve been fortunate to have award-winning author, Christina Kaye, work with me on the edits. So, I’ve invited her to make a guest post on my blog to help all of you who are going to be editing or are currently editing your novels.

The blog is all yours, Christina!

***

What Every Author Needs To Know About Editing A Manuscript

Author: Christina Kaye (author of the Award-Winning Flesh & Blood Series)

You’ve finished your manuscript. Congratulations. Now what? Time to send it off to agents, right? NOT SO FAST! SLOW YOUR ROLL! HOLD YOUR HORSES!

This is one of the biggest mistakes newbie authors make when trying to get their book published. They want to rush straight to querying agents the moment they type THE END. I get it. It’s exciting. You’ve spent weeks, months, or even years pouring your heart out through your fingertips and creating your “baby.” You know you have written THE book…the next best seller. Come on, don’t deny it. You know you’re thinking it. That’s okay. All authors have had the same feeling. But you can’t rush the process. You can’t skip the most important leg on the journey to book publication…editing.

It is essential that your novel be thoroughly edited before you even consider querying agents. But most authors, especially newbies, aren’t sure how to go about editing their manuscript. Either that or their intimidated by the idea of having someone “tear apart” their work. So let’s discuss some key points regarding editing so you can hopefully ease your mind about this absolutely crucial part of the writing/publishing process.

Why Hire an Editor?

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but there are so many authors who believe they can simply type up a manuscript, review it themselves, and call it a day. But that is super risky. Why? Because everyone becomes blind to their own mistakes. You’ve spent so much time focusing on getting your story down on paper that you probably weren’t thinking so much about grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and even those pesky little rules of writing that go above and beyond what we learned in high school and college English courses. You need an experienced, trained, and objective set of eyes to check your work and make sure the manuscript is in as good a shape as possible. If you send an unedited manuscript to agents, no matter how great your concept may be, you will be done before you even get started. If an agent asks to read a manuscript because the query has piqued their attention and then they begin reading only to find the script full of errors, or not properly written, they will stop reading immediately and write the book off. I’ve seen so many manuscripts come through my email based on an amazing query and then had my heart broken because it’s clear the author didn’t bother to have the manuscript edited before sending it to me. Don’t do this. It’s not worth it. Hire an editor.

What Exactly Is Editing?

There are a couple different types of editing for manuscripts. Which type you choose is completely up to you, but I highly recommend you go for broke and have your manuscript edited as thoroughly as possible. Here are the two main types of editing:

Copy Editing (sometimes referred to as Line Editing)

This is where the editor will focus solely on the words in your manuscript, not the bigger picture, plot, characters, etc. Your editor will correct any spelling, grammar, sentence structure, or punctuation errors. A good editor will also keep an eye out for all those annoying little writing rules, such as dialogue tags, overuse of adjectives/adverbs, dangling modifiers, passive voice, and so on. Again, these are the kinds of issues an author typically either doesn’t know, or doesn’t catch on their own because we are so focused on the story and characters. Even if you think you’re a good self-editor, trust me, you’re not. No offense. You may be more highly skilled with the technical aspects of writing a novel, but as I said earlier, I can guarantee you can’t catch even half of your own mistakes. It’s just human nature.

Developmental Editing (sometimes referred to as Content Editing)

This refers to the work an editor does on the “big picture” aspects of your novel, such as plot, consistency, timeline, plot progression, pacing, and character development. This can be done in lieu of or in conjunction with Line Editing. Again, as with technical writing, there are so many rules we authors have to follow to please editors and publishers. For example, where you start your novel is one of the most important things an author can consider. If your book starts with a dream sequence, description of weather or setting, or too little/too much dialogue, then you’re going to lose the reader’s (and the agent’s) attention on page one. Also, slow pacing is a huge deal breaker for agents. If your book moves too slowly, if you spend too much time describing a person, place, or thing, you will lose their attention and put the book down (which means an instant rejection). These are just a couple of things a good editor can help you with.  In my opinion, you should always pay a little bit extra for good developmental editing. Not only will you learn so much more and progress as an author, but your book will be so much better than you ever imagined possible.

How Much Does Editing Cost?

Depends. Like any professional service, editing can run the gamut from super cheap to painfully expensive. You don’t have to hire the highest charging editor. There are plenty of affordable options out there if you take the time to research. But keep in mind, you get what you pay for. If you settle for the lowest possible price and put cost above all other considerations, think about what and who you are paying to work on your baby.

I’ve seen editors out there charging upwards of $1,000 or more for an average length manuscript. To me, that’s just ridiculous. Now, maybe if you’re Stephen King or Nora Roberts and you have money to burn, you can hire a top of the line editor and pay them an arm and a leg for primo editing. But most of us are struggling artists and very few of us have the funds to pay that much money. I argue that you don’t have to break the bank in order to find a quality, experienced, and professional editor. Most reasonable editors will charge you something like this:

.007c per word (80,000 word MS would run about $560.00)

Be prepared to spend anywhere from $250 to $600 (or maybe slightly more), depending on novel length, editor’s fees, and type of editing desired. You will typically pay less for line editing and more for content editing. Some editors will ask you to pay this all up front, but I strongly urge you to seek an editor who will consider either payment plans or splitting the fee (half up front, half upon completion). God forbid you pay someone $500 to edit your book and either you don’t get your work back, or they don’t do amount of work you have paid for. Trust me, this happened to me once, so I now only work with editors who will split the fee half and half. This keeps everyone honest and relieves some of the financial burden, making editing more affordable and less painful for the author.

How Do I Find/Hire An Editor?

This can be a bit tricky. How do you know you are hiring the right editor? Look for editors with experience, testimonials, and even better, published authors on their resume. To find a quality and dependable editor, reach out to your author friends and do some networking. Ask around for recommendations. Another way to find a great editor is to join groups on Facebook for authors and editors (just search Groups for those words). Or follow the #amwriting and #amediting hashtags on Twitter and tweet that you’re looking for referrals. There are also databases you can find online that list professional freelance editors, their requirements, what they offer, and their fees.

This is super important! Never, ever hire an editor without first asking them to provide a sample edit for you. Most reputable editors will offer you a sample edit (5 or 10 pages) so that you can get a feel for their skill level as well as if you will work well together. I repeat, NEVER pay an editor the full fee up front without at least checking their references, getting a sample edit, and doing your research on them. Once you’ve narrowed the editors down to your top choices, ask those editors not only for the sample edit, but for names of authors they have worked with in the past. Ask if you can reach out to them and DO IT! Ask the other authors if they were satisfied with the work the editor provided, did they work at a reasonable pace, etc.

TO SUM IT UP:

Now that we’ve gone over the important aspects of hiring an editor for your manuscript, it’s time to get the ball rolling!

If you are seeking a reputable, experienced, and affordable editor, please keep in mind that I do offer editing services to authors of all genres and categories. I have testimonials from past clients posted on my website. I offer reasonable, competitive rates you’ll be hard-pressed to beat. I have a fast turnaround time and I offer unlimited free communications by email, phone, or social media messenger during the process. And also important – I’m an author, too, so I know what my peers need/want and I treat all my clients with respect. I am very thorough and honest, but never rude or condescending.

If you would like to discuss working with me to edit your baby and get it in the best shape possible, please check out my website. Read my Bio Page so you can get an idea of who I am (author, editor, literary agent intern), then check out my Editing Services Page for rates, guidelines, and contact info.

www.xtinakayebooks.com

Best of luck to you. Any questions, comments, etc. can be directed to me at the following email:

xtinakayebooks@gmail.com

I never charge a dime for advice or guidance. I love to help fellow authors navigate this exciting but demanding industry.

Christina Kaye, Author/Editor

***

Thank you so much, Christina, for sharing that important and useful information with my readers. I can’t tell you what a difference you’ve made with my  novel!

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Procrastination Queen

Procrastination Queen

Hey, friends,

So, as you know, I finished writing the first draft of my novel. YAY!!!! As much as that was a huge accomplishment for me, the hardest work is ahead.

Editing! Over and over and over, I’ll have to read this novel and find plot holes, inconsistent character traits, sentences that don’t make a lick of sense (oh, man that happens more than it should), wrong word usage, etc. This part is tough for me. I think the biggest reason is that I keep saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m such a crap writer!” and I will tinker with the same sentence over and over and over. Remove the comma. Stare. Add the comma back in. Take it out. Turn the sentence into two. Make it one sentence again. Add the comma. Stare. Delete the entire sentence.

This may be why I’ve all of a sudden become the crowned Queen of Procrastination.

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I got off to a good start on the first day. I edited the first two chapters, but then I really earned my crown.

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What did I do to earn my crown? Well, I sat around watching movies. It’s so important to clear those movies off my Netflix list, you know. I’ve been tweeting and playing hashtag games. I’ve watched Youtube videos. I’ve researched screenplays (like I need anything else to work on right now). Oh, and I’ve suddenly found Snapchat filters to be a very important use of my time.

I feel so much better now. Glad I got that done.

Sigh.

I know I need to sit my ass in the chair and edit these chapters. Once I get the second draft done, I’ll be able to turn the novel over to my first reader. And that might be another reason I’m dragging my feet so hard. It’s terrifying to share my work. Even though my first reader is someone I trust completely and someone who has been honest but gentle with feedback on my other novels, I’m still scared. I’m scared to reach each new step.

I’m scared of sharing with betas and critique partners. I’m scared of rewrites. I’m scared of querying and the rejection that will come with it.

But I’m going to take a deep breath and stop with all the procrastination. I’m going to take off my crown and remember how much I love my stories and how good it does feel when I finally do share them.

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

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I’m tired.

I’m tired.

When I was writing my first novel, I felt so alive. I enjoyed every single moment. Words flowed out of me and problems seemed to solve themselves. I fell in love with my characters and I still find myself thinking about them and wondering how they are doing. I cried while writing the end of my story. It was one of those wonderfully cleansing cries that make you feel like you can face the world again. Best of all, along with creating a story that I loved, I felt like I rediscovered my lost soul while putting those words on the page.

Now, the editing part wasn’t as much fun. I still enjoyed (most of) the process because I felt like I was improving my story. Over and over and over again, I poured over my manuscript making change after change. Feeling like it was getting better with every correction, I remained energized and determined.

Then, I started to research how to query. And, I did some querying. I got rejections and had no reason why. All I knew was that my story wasn’t good enough or desirable. Was it my writing? Was it my querying skills? Was it the premise? I followed all the submission guidelines…yet with crickets chirping, the silent rejections flowed.

I finally started to share my work with more people. I even hired an editor. The feedback I got was pretty positive. Still, I’m left wondering, what is so wrong with my story?

I’ve been scouring the internet, searching, searching, reading, seeking answers. What I found is that books like mine are “a tough sell.” I’m not even sure if that is true. There is so much stuff on the internet, who knows what’s true and what’s not. I am even more confused now than ever.

I thought more than once about shelving my novel…or just sending it into my trash bin altogether. What is the point after all? Why write a story if it won’t get published and no one ever reads it?

Ugh! What got me to this point? I was in love, and now I’m ready to throw the thing I love in the trash (and not just the book, my will to tell my stories.)

I just feel so tired. I’m tired of the frantic internet searches to answer the question “why.” I’m tired of people giving me pitying looks and telling me to “just self-publish” as though it is a consolation prize for those who suck (me. A rejected writer must be a shitty writer.) I’m tired of thinking I should just write something marketable that will be an easier sale, even though my heart won’t be found anywhere in it. I’m tired of feeling like a talentless hack.

Once a balloon floating high and proud. I am now a sad little thing, shriveled and hovering just above the floor. I hope to find my high point again. Maybe it’s so hard to continue because I do care so much about those characters I created. It feels like I invited all their friends to a party and no one showed up. All of us sitting there with our party hats on,  noise makers poised and ready, staring at a door that never opens.

I don’t know how to move forward. I guess I put my dreams of publication up on the shelf and just write for me.  I’m too deflated to do anything else at this point.  Plllllllllllfffff.

ground-orange-balloon-deflated

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