Transparency in Self-Publishing Series: Extraordinary Book Bloggers

Wow. I am overwhelmed with how amazing the welcoming group of book bloggers (and reviewers) are.

I don’t even know where to begin with the gratitude I feel toward such a generous breed, but like all good stories, the beginning is usually a good place to start.

An Incorrect Prediction

The past is not always an accurate predictor of the future.

At the writing conferences I attended in 2010 and 2011, several workshops on social media wrinkled their noses at blogging. Back then, apparently something I’d not even become familiar with had already run its course. The prediction and advice with regard to an author blogging was: don’t bother.

Blogging was old hat. Not beneficial for an author’s career. A waste of time and effort.

Boy, have things changed. Rapidly.

Thankfully, I chose to look beyond the dated advice of a few and created my own blog in July of 2012. Meant to be a means for sharing publishing adventures and news about my upcoming books, it has grown into an opportunity to reach readers, other bloggers, and make connections and friends.

Fast Forward to Present day

Book blogging today has become a vast network of readers and reviewers connected by one thing . . . a love of books.

A vibrant community of book bloggers has blossomed, flourished, and continues to grow. Not only are book bloggers a trusted source of reviews and book recommendations for readers (and us authors who love to read), for many readers, book bloggers are the only source of recommendations for both self-published and traditionally published books.

The Brave Solicitation

As the upcoming release of Forged in Dreams and Magick approaches, I’m having more and more interaction with book bloggers. Initially, as a naturally shy person (yes, believe it or not it’s true), I felt enormous relief when I’d secured tour and promotion slots with AToMR Tours to gain reviews and exposure for before and through the release. After all, I didn’t have to ask all these people I don’t know directly. AToMR Tours would do it all for me.

Which they have and did, an invaluable service that I’m immensely grateful for.

But . . . I decided to become the brave warrior I depict in my novel and throw myself out there to solicit book bloggers who might not work with AToMR Tours. I crafted a professional letter, but tailored each email to the individual blog I was soliciting. If their interests in books fell in line with my own, I sought common ground with them in the very first paragraph of the email.

A Humble Approach

My request to the hundred and fifty (or so) bloggers I contacted was very humble. Because I was asking busy people, most who have kids and/or jobs and a TBR (to-be-read) book pile that rivals Mt. Everest, for something very valuable—their time and opinion—I was thankful they were even reading my email. I’d be thrilled for them to request my book.

In fact, after carefully reading each and every site’s review policies and scanning through their blog (which took 5-10 minutes, and I believe is the very least a requesting author should do when asking for hours and hours of their time reading your book and crafting their review of your hard work), I didn’t expect a response from many of them. Some specifically stated they would only reply if they were interested.

In anticipating my book request being among thousands they read through with bleary-eyed apathy, I set my expectation bar low.

The Unexpected Response

Replies began to populate my inbox. And it was not only what the overwhelming majority said but how they said it that surprised me.

First of all, a few responded with a line or two telling me how they really loved the book description, but were too buried under books that they were already committed to reviewing to have the time to review mine. I appreciated their even taking the time to respond.

A couple of the blogs said they wouldn’t have the time to review, but wanted to help me with the promotion of my book.

{blinks}

This was my first clue that I was the new kid on the block. I ask them for a favor, and even with their busy schedules, they want to help me. Incredibly grateful for space on their calendar, I resoundingly replied with excitement that I would love to included in a guest post or interview (or whatever they’d suggested) and thanked them for the opportunity.

Those that did reply requesting an ARC copy to review?

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for giving them the opportunity.

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for thinking of their blog.

And many? Asked me to also provide them with links once the book goes live to share and help promote the release to their social media networks. And they hadn’t even read my books yet.

Again, all I have to say is . . .

Wow. I am overwhelmed.

Above and Beyond

A small group of bloggers I’ve become close to over the last year (about six or so) have always cleared a place on their schedule for me. You know who you are, and I love you for all that you’ve done and continue to do to support my writing endeavors.

With other bloggers, we’d followed each other on Twitter for over a year, and although we’d only talked once or twice, the moment I struck up the heart-racing conversation with my request, they pulled me into their welcoming arms like I was long-lost family.

{takes a deep breath}

Wow.

And now that some of those bloggers have reviewed my book? They’re touting it on Goodreads, Twitter, their blogs, and even on other author’s blogs. And together we chat. And laugh. And commiserate. And swoon. It’s so amazing how coming together through a book can bond book lovers. I’m overwhelmed daily by the generosity of strangers who embraced me so readily as a friend.

Wow.

Speechless in Gratitude

Yep. This writer has gone speechless. The repetitive monosyllabic word “wow” keeps coming out. The medical diagnosis for my condition is “mind blown”, but I’m pretty sure they don’t make a pill for being humbled by such awesomeness, and frankly, I wouldn’t want the cure.

I guess that’s what happens when in today’s self-centered society, a class of people show you their hearts first. In my experience, book bloggers are leading by example, rewriting history about how people should treat one another. With kindness, acceptance, and grace.

~~~

So when eloquent words fail, and you try to describe how you feel the best way you can, sometimes simple words become the best.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the generous-hearted souls that you are.

In my opinion? Book bloggers are awesome! You all rock!

Your greatly humbled and appreciative shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Talk to the Shoe One-Year Blogiversary ~ Celebration and Giveaway

Hello, my friends.

{tosses confetti and streamers}

Shutterstock Celebration with Champagne and Confetti

Happy Blogiversary
Talk to the Shoe!

Has it been an entire year already? So many incredible events happened over the course of these first 52 weeks, it feels like my first blog post went up only yesterday.

To commemorate a bustling year for a blog meant to chronicle my adventures in writing and publishing, I’ve decided to highlight memorable and favorite moments.

{sips champagne with you all and starts the slide show}

My First Blog Post

I was recently asked an interview question by Debra on her blog Words from Across Oceania:
“What do you think about social media as an avenue for getting independent writers out there?”
My answer: ” I think it’s unparalleled.”

On July 20, 2012, I penned my very first blog post:
The Twitter Trap – Social Media: Blessing and Curse.

It’s wonderful to look back at the thoughts and suggestions I gave after being on Twitter for a short six weeks. I’m forever grateful for learning the ropes while trusting my instincts.

Twitter is an unrivaled virtual coffee shop filled with friends just waiting to meet us and chat over a coffee and zero-calorie online danish about the latest web happenings and favorite book boyfriends
. . . or Highlanders . . . or shoes.

And let’s not forget the #StilettoSports discussions!

I’ve made wonderful friends on Twitter in the past year, lasting connections with kindhearted, generous, and supportive people who are there to interact, laugh, and share love.

The Most Popular Blog Post

On August 29, 2012,  something seismic happened . . .
I posted The Lure of the Great Alpha Male.

Wow.

That would be the post that had over 170 hits on my fledgling blog in one day. It also had 46 comments and a fun debate that spilled into Twitter over which of our alpha males was the hottest, resulting in a dead heat between Jericho Z. Barrons and one Gabriel O. Emerson, The Professor. And I still had yet to meet The Professor . . . {laughs}

It was my first post to be reblogged on a fabulous new-to-me back then blog Bookish Temptations. The Lure of the Great Alpha Male is still the most popular daily and weekly post on my blog. It has multiple daily views, and is often the first or second in views for the week. It seems the Lure of the Great Alpha Male is quite undeniable indeed.

Aftershocks from those great alpha males still occurring daily . . . ;)

My First Poem and Utterly Loved

September 12, 2012 brought to the blog and the world a most unexpected development. I created and shared my first poem Heaven… Found. Surprised to have poetry flow from my heart onto the page, I was thrilled when it was reblogged, liked, and shared on Twitter with everyone raving about the sensual poetry.

A burst of poetic creativity followed, which led to the publication of Utterly Loved, a book of romantic poetry for charity which includes a brilliant foreword written by the inspiring humanitarian and New York Times Bestselling Author Sylvain Reynard. Several other poems not included in Utterly Loved can be found in the poetry category on my blog.

A Most Uplifting Post 

On October 17, 2012, I gave a glimpse into who I am and how I live my life along with suggestions on how to increase your optimism in the post Adventures of an Optimist.

Throughout that day and the next, people contacted me on the blog and social media to let me know how my post brightened their day. To know that I helped others by sharing how I strive to be and stay positive made my day . . . and then some.

My First Guest Blog Post

By October of 2012, I’d posted just over dozen blog posts when I received my first invitation to write a guest post on another blog. The guest post, Embracing Sensuality, appeared Tamie’s blog Bookish Temptations for her one-year blogiversary celebration. I was and still am deeply honored to have been included.

A Glimpse of Heroes

In April 2013, in the wake of the devasting bombing at the Boston Marathon, I was invited by Jenn at Argyle Empire to participate in their fundraising efforts for the Red Cross in support of the bombing victims. As a part of those efforts, I shared an experience from my past with the American Red Cross. I revisited that heart-wrenching night and made a plea for donations to the American Red Cross and the Boston One Fund to support those charties in A Glimpse of Heroes. Jenn and Argyle Empire, thank you for wanting me to be a part of such a worthwhile cause.

Charity Support and Awareness Pages

In June of 2013, I became more involved in using my author platform to benefit charities, especially those that fight against human trafficking, by launching the Charity Support and Awareness pages on my blog and website. The page shares my thoughts and feelings, ways we can all help, and links to their various pages.

Highland Legends: Forged in Dreams and Magick

Throughout the entire year, hints and teasers have been posted about my upcoming release, from the series and book names, to the book description, and ultimately to the Cover Reveal on July 9th through AToMR Tours.

Take a peek at the cover described as “lush” and “stunning” and the description one said “hooked me immediately” for my debut Highlander, time-travel, paranormal romance novel Forged in Dreams and Magick.

~ ~ ~

And . . . there’s one more post I’d like to share as we step off memory lane into the future . . .

Teaser for Forged in Dreams and Magick

I’m thrilled to announce that an exclusive teaser for Forged in Dreams and Magick will be posted on Bookish Temptations on Monday, July 22, 2013. In just two days, that teaser post will mark the two month countdown to the release of Forged in Dreams and Magick on September 23, 2013.

Blogiversary Giveaway

I’m giving away a few party favors to commemorate my Blogiversary. Four winners will be chosen by Random.org. Each of the four winners will win a $25 Amazon gift card AND a signed copy of Utterly Loved!

It’s easy to enter. All you have to do is leave a comment on this Blogiversary post OR leave a comment on the Bookish Temptations’ Forged in Dreams and Magick teaser post. That’s it!
And if you leave a comment on each post? You’ll be entered twice! (Only two entries allowed per person.)

Comments until midnight EST on Thursday July 25, 2013 will qualify for entry to win the giveaway.

~ ~ ~

So leave those comments! I’d love to hear about your favorite moments from my blog over the year.

An enormous thank you to all my friends and followers. Your excitement, support, and love along my adventures on the road to published are deeply heartfelt and tremendously appreciated.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Beloved Beta Readers

Hello, everyone.

As you all know, or will now be finding out, I’m a paranormal romance writer that stumbled into poetry accidentally with Utterly Loved.

I’m back in the saddle (my office chair), my fingers flying on the keyboard with a new paranormal romance story.  My new work-in-progress (WIP in writer lingo) is a holiday novella woven into the story lines of the series.  After that, it will be on to writing the second in the series.  I can’t wait to write the amazing stories unfolding in my head.

You’re probably all wondering:  What happened to the first story?

It’s currently a polished manuscript.  I’ve scheduled a freelance editor to edit the piece in the beginning of February.  If all goes well, the book will be published early to mid-summer.

In the meantime?  It’s with four beta readers.

Who are these beta readers?

They are dear trusted friends who love to read.

Collectively, they…
Held my hair in college when I hurled at the bar
Were the first to tell me, “That’s the story you need to write”
Consoled me when I was frustrated
Wiped away the tears
Cheered the successes
Sometimes know me better than I know myself

These are my people.  The ones I rely on.  My closest confidants.

I only decided last week to take each of them up on their offer to read my story.  This  project has been a part of my life for two years.  They are the ones who’ve shared my ups and downs along the way.  

I finally got the courage to let go and give my heart and soul to them.

Why now?

I had an enlightening hour-long conversation with a best-selling author who shared with me the value of her beta readers and why they’re so important to her.  She said they’re the only ones who truly know her.  Her most important goal was for them to be honest with her and, where warranted, tell her, “This sucks.”

We both laughed.  But the impact of what she said sank in.  She further explained how they will see things we can’t.  We writers are too close to our work to see certain things we need to know.  If we want to publish a page-turning story, one the reader can’t put down and thinks about long after they have, we have to know if there are slow sections, missing parts, or extraneous, excellently written fluff.

I decided she was right.  My friends wanted to be a part of the process.  Each of them had voiced that sentiment to me.  I also realized no one else would do.

They will all laugh when they read this blog post.  I impressed upon each of them to please relax, read, and enjoy the story.  But they had better tell me if they hit a slow part.  I demanded they tell me if any part of it sucked.  I have every confidence they will.  If it’s ever really bad, I hope they please break it to me gently over a drink. {laughs}

The really amazing thing for me?  They’re all from different backgrounds.  I’ve got swamp and city.  All are highly educated and intelligent, but some are analytical and some are creative.  Only one of them reads books in my paranormal romance genre.  One tells me they will give me their opinion when they are finished reading.  (I’m dying of suspense.)  Another is telling me chapter-by-chapter her thoughts.

So far? My chapter-by-chapter (non-paranormal-romance) girl is giving me such incredibly exciting feedback, I’m having to repeatedly ask her, “Are there any slow parts? Anything missing or extra?”  She’s replied with a resounding “NO!”

Her texts have said…
“I am speechless…”
“Never saw that coming!”
“You have this supernatural ability to take the reader to the edge of a heightened emotion and then drop them immediately into another.”
“I’m having to force myself to stop reading.  The flow…epic! Just when one scene is finishing up, another one, just as vital, comes into play.”
“It’s the perfect flow of detail and plot movement.”

She’s even dubbed the hero, a Highlander, “Scotty McHotty” … I just… {dies laughing}

I’m very interested to hear my other beta reader opinions.  I value them all. 

Thank you, my beloved beta readers.  I’m so very grateful for your friendship and support.  Don’t go easy on me.  Find me something that sucks…please!

It’s important to mention, that I have a fifth beta reader, my husband.  He read my manuscript months ago.  As my best friend, he told me where it sucked.  He also pulled me up out of my office chair the moment he finished, grabbed me by the shoulders, and stared at me hard as he said, “Anyone who ever tells you that you don’t have what it takes has no idea what they’re talking about.” 

Damn, I love that man, for both telling me where it sucked and convincing me I have talent.  That is why I love my friends.  They excel by having my back in every way needed… The love and the tough love.

My goal is to give you, the reader, the very best story possible.  I hope to transport you into an amazing story filled with medieval Highlanders, ancient Picts, magick, and a few other surprises I’m not yet ready to spoil for you.

Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming release and my adventures in writing, editing, and publishing along the way.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

The Writer and The Industry – David and Goliath

The Writer and The Industry – David and Goliath

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

This week another deal was struck, causing major ripples with readers, writers, and reviewers. Oh. My.

Penguin’s imprint, Berkley, purchased Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno series, including a first printing of 500,000 copies of each book, and the purchase of world and audio rights. The deal inked went into seven-figure territory.

Reynard’s writing began as fan fiction. Thousands of readers loved his books enough to rave about them. And they told two friends, and so on. Sound familiar? Fifty Shades ring a bell?

{stands up and applauds the authors} Good for them. I whole-heartedly support the successes of writers in this difficult to break into industry.

What does this amazing deal mean for us writers?

Nothing.

…and everything.

The publishing industry suffered upheaval in the last few years with self-publishing and e-books shaking the brick-and-mortars. Those that rely on the success of the authors don’t take chances. They want dead-ringers. The beast is an animal we wish we could tame. Alas, we cannot.

The formula hasn’t changed for a writer. Write the best story possible. Get the story out to agents and publishers. Catch someone’s eye… and away we go.

Ahhhh… but therein lies the secret of success. We must catch someone’s eye.

What did Sylvain Reynard and E L James do differently than so many others? The Marketing Fanatic in me is fascinated by their stories.

They started small. They used networking, websites, and social media to gain exposure for their work. When support for their writing flooded in from fans, they were encouraged to reach a broader base through publishing.

Isn’t that what we’re all doing?

Are there critics upset about the wild successes of an author’s quick rise to fame? Of course. There will always be naysayers. Debates and discussion are fueled by opposite points of view.

What does all the excitement mean to me?

{smiles wide}

A grass-roots writer rising up into the big time means that the world is filled with possibilities. Starry-eyed writers, working diligently as they spin stories flowing from their hearts, can have their books published and share their dreams with everyone who wants to escape in them.

There is plenty of room in the industry for the big successes. Some are literary masterpieces and some are wildly popular due to their raw cult appeal. Some are game changers.

Reynard and James are not pioneers in breaking out due to their preliminary accomplishments. Amanda Hocking and John Locke are recent indie-author icons. Don’t forget James Redfield who self-published The Celestine Prophecy, selling 100,000 copies from the trunk of his car—and then the publishing world took notice.

It matters not to me the reasons why someone garnered all the successes that came their way. I’m thrilled and motivated by their rags-to-riches fairy tales. My role as a writer, beyond writing the best novel possible, is to support other authors. I celebrate their successes and support their dreams.

They are my successes. They are my dreams.

I am David. The barrier into the industry is my Goliath. All it takes is one small effective stone to bring that giant to its knees.

{looks at the stone sitting on my desk}

…the ripples of casting that stone … go on infinitely.

I look forward to the day when our time comes, my friends.
Keep believing. Keep writing. Keep supporting.

Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion