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

12 Days of Utterly Loved In Time For Christmas Delivery Event & Giveaway

Hello, everyone.

Thank you for helping make the Release Week of Utterly Loved with Foreword by Sylvain Reynard a success.  Due to your purchases for yourself and gifts for others, Utterly Loved remained a #1 Amazon Best Seller in New Releases Love Poems almost the entire week.

We have only just begun, my friends.

The mission of Utterly Loved is…

To share love with those who read it…
To inspire those to feel it…
To help those who desperately need it.

Join me in igniting a wildfire of purchases for Utterly Loved and donations for the charities Utterly Loved supports, World Vision and Covenant House.

The 12 Days of Utterly Loved in Time For Christmas Delivery Event & Giveaway

The 12 Days of Utterly Loved In Time For Christmas Delivery Event & Giveaway begins at 12:01am EST Saturday, December 8th and runs for 12 consecutive days.  Each day, a winner will be selected from the eligible entries by Random.org.

The Prizes…

Each day one lucky winner will receive two items:
~ A signed copy of Utterly Loved for which Sylvain Reynard has also offered to send signed bookplates.
~ A $25 Amazon Gift Card, large enough to buy copies of both Gabriel’s Inferno & Gabriel’s Rapture, for instance. ;)

Grand Prize Drawing (one winner from the 12 winners):
One very lucky winner will receive the Grand Prize ~ A Kindle Fire

11 Daily Ways To Enter, Rules & Requirements…

Each day is a separate contest and there are several ways to enter:
~ Buying a copy of Utterly Loved that day earns an entry
~ Donating to World Vision or Covenant House that day earns an entry (Donate to both that day? You get two entries.)
~ Tweet that day asking followers to buy Utterly Loved earns an entry (Tweet again every four hours for separate entries-6 total)
~ Facebook post asking friends to buy Utterly Loved earns an entry
~ Blog post asking others to purchase Utterly Loved earns an entry

11 possible entries each day. Please purchase and donate responsibly:  Give only what you can and share news of Utterly Loved to inspire others to do the same.  Together we will help those in need.

Help me count your entry. @ me on Twitter or comment below with:
~ A photo of that day’s purchase receipt of Utterly Loved
~ A photo of that day’s donation receipt to either charity
~ Tweet your promotion to buy Utterly Loved with my @ AND Amazon’s Utterly Loved Page
~ If your FB posts go to your Twitter timeline, @ me so I can see it.  If not, get creative…like screen shot and send me the pic… ;)
~ If you blog about Utterly Loved,  link this page and comment below so I know about it.

The requirements:
~ You must provide evidence of purchase, donation, Tweeting or FB posting to be eligible for that entry (see above.)
~ When you Tweet, FB or blog post, you must ask others to buy Utterly Loved and provide a link to the Amazon Purchase Page of Utterly Loved << (like this one)

Disclaimers:  Each daily giveaway runs for 24 hours beginning at 12:01am EST until midnight EST that day. The first day of the giveaway is Saturday, December 8, 2012 and the last day is December 19th, 2012.  Giveaway is international where allowed.  Winners of the 12 daily giveaways and the Grand Prize drawing will be chosen by Random.org. (All giveaway prizes, for this giveaway, and all the Release Week giveaways, are being donated by myself and Mr. Bastion.)

The bottom line? 

You help with every purchase.  You help by spreading the news of Utterly Loved so others purchase.   You help by donating to World Vision and Covenant House.  Your small acts of kindness make a world of difference.  Thank you for being a part of the difference.

Thank you for helping make the lost in this world feel… Utterly Loved.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

Buy Utterly Loved on Amazon

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

First Winner of a Signed Copy Giveaway of Utterly Loved

Thank you all for your wonderful support of Utterly Loved with Foreword by Sylvain Reynard.

Please continue to purchase copies (they make perfect holiday gifts), share the news of Utterly Loved with your friends, family, and social worlds, and give what you can to those in need.

The first winner of a signed copy of Utterly Loved as chosen by Random.org is:

     Drpharmgirl

Please contact me through my Kat’s Connection’s page with your mailing information.

Oh, and did I mention… ? Sylvain Reynard has generously offered to sign custom Utterly Loved bookplates for each receiver of a signed copy.

Still plenty of ways to win a signed copy.  See Utterly Loved Release Week Giveaways & Schedule for more ways to win your signed copy of Utterly Loved.

Thank you again for all your support.  Standing together we can make a world of difference.  We will make those in desperate need feel… Utterly Loved.

Your humble shoe,

Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

12 Reasons to Buy Utterly Loved ~ Plus Giveaway

Utterly Loved Book Cover

 

In the season of giving, where abundance trumps the daily grind, Utterly Loved has been released on Amazon to brighten your life and change the world.

 

Are you fond of lists for checking them twice?
Twelve reasons Utterly Loved is so nice…

1.   Charity funding. All Proceeds, less costs and taxes, go to World Vision and Covenant House.  The mission for Utterly Loved is to help those lost in the world, those who’ve never had a chance to know love, feel… Utterly Loved.

2.   New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Sylvain Reynard wrote the brilliant foreword on humanitarianism.

3.   The books make excellent gifts for your loved ones.

4.   There are 21 love poems… 14 have never been published before.

5.   23 inspirational quotes are sprinkled between the poems.

6.   Utterly Loved fits into a stocking… a big stocking…

7.   You’ll have the perfect holiday party exchange gift for under $10.

8.   It’s an Amazon #1 Best Seller. (All the cool elves are buying it.)

9.   The poems touch on all aspects of love.

10. Nature is threaded through many of the poems.

11.  The cover art rocks.

12. Charity awareness.  Every book you buy, every gift you give, every person you share the news of Utterly loved with, sends ripples of love globally.  Your small act will make a world of difference.

Utterly Loved went on sale on Amazon on November 29, 2012.  Due to the overwhelming support for the project, it skyrocketed to #1 New Releases Best Selling Love Poems, hit #4 New Releases Best Selling Poetry and hit #1 Best Selling Love Poems.

No dollar will ever line my pocket. All proceeds, less costs and taxes, will be donated to selected charities. So far, I’ve chosen World Vision and Covenant House.

I hope you find plenty of reasons to buy Utterly Loved.  Please tell all your social worlds and everyone you know about Utterly Loved.

Buy two copies. Buy twenty.

Standing together around the world we each do a small part to have a big impact. United we can help those who desperately need it to feel… Utterly Loved.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

Purchase Utterly Loved on Amazon

And now… For the signed copy giveaway…

There are several ways to enter. The more you participate, the more entries you will earn to win a signed copy of Utterly Loved.  There are 8 possible ways to enter.  Multiple entries are encouraged.

~ Comment below to share about your purchase of Utterly Loved.

~ Copy the below phrase and post onto Twitter or post any comment sharing about your purchase of Utterly Loved (you must include the hashtag #BuyUtterlyLoved)

     I bought Utterly Loved with Foreword by Sylvain Reynard. Romantic poetry with proceeds to charity. #BuyUtterlyLoved http://amzn.to/SsmarW

~  Tweet again at least 4 hours later with the same #BuyUtterlyLoved hashtag and you will earn one separate entry per every 4 hour Tweet.

~ Post on FB so the hashtag #BuyUtterlyLoved hashtag appears onto Twitter and earn another entry.

That’s 8 possible entries.

Disclaimers:  The contest runs for 24 hours on December 3rd, 2012 from 07:01am EST to December 4rd, 2012 at 07:01am EST.  Winner will need to email proof of purchase to receive the signed copy.  Giveaway is international where allowed.  Winner will be chosen by Random.org. 

The bottom line? 

You help with every purchase.  You help by spreading the news of Utterly Loved so others purchaseSmall acts of kindness make a world of difference.  Thank you for being a part of the difference.

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Utterly Loved Release Day!

In true Utterly Loved whirlwind fashion, Utterly Loved with Foreword by Sylvain Reynard surprised us all with a release day less than ten hours after submission instead of 5-7 business days.

Please see the new page on this blog dedicated to Utterly Loved, which can also be accessed under Menu on the left sidebar.

On the page you will find the latest information about Utterly Loved, links to purchase the book, and links to the charities Utterly Loved will be helping.

Please share, like, and comment on the page.

Please share the news of Utterly Loved with all your social worlds.  Together we can make those in desperate need feel… Utterly Loved.

Thank you for all your help and support.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Poetic Warrior ~ Power As One ~ Book Title Reveal

Poetic Warrior

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

 

A poetic warrior is what I have become. I awoke on another early morning with fire flowing from my heart, scorching my veins, and commanding my thumbs as they rapidly typed on my iPhone. In my dark bedroom under warm covers, the compelling story ricocheting through my mind and haunting my thoughts had to be released.

I blinked unbelieving at the latest poetry creation. It had become my second riotous tribute in a row waging war to save the fallen that, in ignorant bliss, I never knew existed.

After twenty-one poems of love and countless uplifting quotes, my sword rang out as I withdrew it from a scabbard that, unbeknownst to me, had always been strapped to my back.

A deep lungful of fresh air filled a newly risen warrior with purpose, ready to do battle for the greater good.

{smiles slowly}

In three weeks, a book of poetry will be released that has the ability to change the world.

Do you believe you can make a difference?

Do you have faith that a single book, through love, can reach those in desperate need of it?

I do.

In the perfect marriage of the haves and have-nots, the purchase of a book about love shares our love with the world. In a truly serendipitous chain of events, I’ve been given the inspiration and ability to write poetry and an internal need to share my unexpected gift to help others.

No dollar from the sales of the book will ever line my pockets. All proceeds, less costs and taxes, will go directly to help selected charities. So far, the charities I have chosen are World Vision and Covenant House.

The book title?

It is how one feels when they’ve willingly lost themselves to another.

It is the words you express to the one who captured your heart.

It is how every soul in this world should feel.

Utterly Loved.

How great of an impact can one person have?

Infinite… when you stand strongly together among millions.

Next week, I plan to share more exciting information about the book, as well as the book cover. Meanwhile, please enjoy the first poem I’ve written post Utterly Loved that expresses how I feel in my heart.

 

Power As One

Echoes ripple
Resonate through the heart
Cries from fallen
Helpless souls torn apart

Lightning pierces
Urgent fire fueled from need
Warrior rises
Beckoned to act in deed

Hero searches
Charting land of the lost
Soldier battles
Pays exorbitant cost

Mountain towers
Danger etched in granite
Climber conquers
Needing to tame a planet

Leaders follow
Shoulders forming a wall
Weapons unsheathe
Saviors answer the call

Together we have an amazing power to make a worldwide difference. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements regarding Utterly Loved, and please share news about it with your social worlds.

 

Your favorite shoe,

Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Why Writing Contests Matter

Why Writing Contests Matter

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

For those of you following me here on my blog or on Twitter, you likely heard the news on Saturday as I vibrated in excitement.  I’d become a finalist in the Lone Star Writing Contest. {vibrates}

Or perhaps, you’d heard the additional exciting news yesterday.  I’d become a finalist in The Catherine Writing Contest. {vibrates more}

So what’s all the hoopla about contests anyway?

Well, I can tell you one thing for certain.  I would not be here writing this blog were it not for the contests that I entered when I finally had a piece I thought was worthy.

It turns out I did… and didn’t.

My entry didn’t final in that contest.  Nor in the several that came after that.  What I did get was invaluable.  It was the first qualified feedback I’d ever received on my writing.  One of those very first judges took such great time and care in pointing out every flaw in great detail.  She also commended me on my strengths.  I am forever thankful for both.

What did I do?

I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.  Made changes.  Listened.  Learned.  Improved.

The First and Best Reason To Enter Writing Contests:  Feedback

Since that first contest back in the fall of 2010, I’ve been working on a new manuscript that has my creativity flowing.  With my new gem, I entered about eight more contests in the fall of 2011, and I’ve entered seven so far this fall… and counting. 

Last year, those first few contests helped me see what was completely unnecessary in the story (several judges told me to ditch the first page altogether), what the story didn’t have that it very much needed, and where I shined naturally as a writer.

I analyzed every single comment.  Of course, I disregarded the ones I felt had been generated by a lack of caffeine, but I took to heart the feedback that had very good points I either hadn’t considered or lacked the skills and experience to know.

   Some Rules on Contest Feedback:

  • There are no rules for you on feedback. 
  • Everything is subjective.
  • Judges volunteer their time.  Take the time to listen.
  • Comments are suggestions to use if you want.  It’s your story.
  • If multiple judges make the same comment, they may have a point.
  • Judge qualifications vary from trained and unpublished to authors.
  • Read the contest score areas.  Is your entry well-suited for them?
  • Scores are a quantitive way to rank something difficult to judge.

Don’t let negative comments get you down.  Use them to your advantage.  Almost every comment I’ve received has been constructive.  To me, that feedback is worth every penny I paid to enter.

Keep in mind that why you did not score well, may have absolutely nothing to do with your writing talent.  Your judge may not like your writing style, may not connect to your voice, or may have given a valiant effort to judge your piece, but really aren’t familiar with your subgenre.

My area, paranormal romance, is particularly challenging with judges.  In paranormal romance there are vampires, shape-shifters, witches, magick, ghosts, mediums, time-travel, and fantasy.  That is a very broad spectrum.  Mine is a time-travel that has Highlanders and magick.  I may get a judge used to reading vampires.  Even with my recent finalist feedback, one judge commented she doesn’t normally read time-travel.  Another indicated she stumbled a bit on the Scottish brogue.

Bottom line?  Comments and feedback are so valuable to us as fledgling writers.  Use them in the best way possible; to learn and grow as a writer.

Contests As Mini-Reviews

It occurred to me this week, that contests are excellent training for the reviews we will receive as published authors.

Not everyone will relay comments in a constructive fashion.  Many may not relate to our work.  Some will think what you wrote has been done before.  {whispers} Even if you are certain it has not…

What do I focus on?

The rave reviews.  The praise.  The gushing.  Words like, stunning, spectacular, fabulous, and powerful.

Do I ignore all of the not so stellar comments?  No way.  I simply look at them, decide if they have merit or not, and apply them or discard them and move on.

It’s the positive that keeps me energized.  I use every single bit of praise to fuel the motivational fire that keeps me writing. 

Those supportive comments?  They will come from my supportive fans someday.

The Big Payoff

If you’ve honed your craft well enough, if your entry is well suited to the contest you’ve entered, and if the planets have actually aligned for you, a phone call (or occassionally an email) will come with the phrase, “Congratulations!  You’re a finalist.”

Now we’re at the endgame.  We have hit the main reason contests are so beneficial for us as a writer.

Your entry will now be read by acquiring agents or editors.  If you’re lucky…both.

The interesting thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to win a contest to get a request for a submission.  Some final judges have such quality entries to judge, they may grant a win to one entry, but request a submission from both.  Last year I won two contests and was a finalist in a third.  Of the three, I received one request for my full manuscript from an editor at one of the big six publishing houses. 

What do I tell myself?  It takes only one.

Many contests post the results in the RWR (Romance Writers Report), list the results on their websites, and announce the contest news on their email loops.

Fame, baby!

What To Look For When Entering Contests

One of the first things I look for when entering contests is the final judges.  Are they an agent or editor that I would be interested in submitting to if they request my final manuscript?

I also look at the rules of the contest.  My entry is seen in its best light if it’s the first three chapters, but not all contests are designed the same. 

Some contests judge the first 7,000 words, which takes me through half of my third chapter.  Some ask for the first 25 pages or 30 pages.  Some are 50 pages.

Most contests ask for the first part of the story, beginning at page one.  One I’ve seen asks for only page one. 

Other interesting contests, like Reveal Your Inner Vixen, ask for up to twenty pages of the part of your manuscript that best outlines sexual tension.  {smirks} … Now we’re talking…

   Absolute Musts Before Entering A Contest

  • Read the contest’s entry rules.
  • Read the contest’s formatting rules.
  • Follow above said rules exactly if you don’t want to waste your time by being disqualified.
  • Print off all the rules and check them off as you go to make sure you don’t miss one.
  • Mark your calendar to be sure you make the entry deadline.

My suggestion?  Enter the contest early if you can.  I usually enter them a week or more before their entry deadline.  Why?  Sometimes I’ve had questions, and it takes a day or two to get an answer.  Most entrants enter at the last minute, myself included, and technical difficulties can, and do, occur.

What Happens After You Hear The Results?

If you hear that coveted “Congratulations! You’re a finalist!” you often have a week to revise your entry based on the feedback you’ve received.  Then, you re-submit.  You wait.  You hope your entry is the one that judge has been waiting their entire career to find.

If you hear back you didn’t final, print off those score sheets and comments.  See what areas you need to work on.  Make that entry shine for the next time.

Either way.  One very important thing to do as soon as you can? 

Write Thank You Notes!

Write thank you notes to both the judges and the contest coordinator.  Again, they’ve volunteered their time in their very busy lives and writing careers to help you with yours.  Show them your appreciation for doing so, even if they didn’t rave about your entry.  They may be buying your book off the shelf later and smiling in remembrance.

If you final, be sure to triple-check what you do next.  As I mentioned, some allow you to revise the entry.  Others require you to add a synopsis to the entry that may have been optional in the first round. 

Ask when you’re allowed to share the news on social media.  Last Friday, I was asked to wait until the following day.  On Monday, I was asked to wait two days, until Wednesday.

When you can share the news?  Shout it from the rooftops!  You’ve worked hard to make it this far.  To be a  finalist in a writing contest means you’ve risen to the top of a very competitive area and it’s an accomplishment to be proud of and share.  Those who have been supporting you and cheering for you along the way will want to share in your success.

Am I still entering contests?

Absolutely.  I am always learning and growing.  The feedback is unmatchable.  When you final or win, the accomplishment feels amazing.  {vibrates just thinking about it}

I truly hope you enter your writing in contests that suit your work.  Let me know how it goes! 

Meanwhile, I have to go.  I’ve an entry to revise for re-submission and thank you notes to write… ;)

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and good luck in your contest submissions!

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 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

The Twitter Trap – Social Media: Blessing and Curse

The Twitter Trap – Social Media: Blessing and Curse
© 2012 – Kat Bastion

Have you been sucked into the Twitter Trap? How to use this valuable social media tool to your advantage as a writer may seem like a straight-forward concept, but there are writers who get it and those who don’t. In the social media craze too many are missing the point.

Who am I to say so?  {WARNING: Self-promotion moment…dusts off and puts on my marketing-major hat} Besides creating and implementing successful marketing campaigns for businesses, I’ve expressed a keen interest in all things marketing; specifically what works and what doesn’t. This post is my opinion and is based on observation alone.

Now, back to Twitter…

If used correctly, Twitter is a fabulous place for networking with like-minded people. It’s a quick and easy way to connect with many who have the same interests as you. If your followers like what you have to say, they’ll RT (Retweet) your post to their followers. Then, they’ll tell two friends…and so on…

Ahhhh…but therein lies the key to success, doesn’t it?

1. You have to network. That means talk to people. Carry on meaningful dialog. Post about your favorite books, the melting of your keyboard at a steamy love scene you’re writing, or a survey about who is hotter: Jericho Barrons or… well… just that Barrons melts your panties.

2. Dialog is two-sided. Check out the person replying to your post. If their bio or timeline seems interesting, follow them back, so you can see what they have to say and engage them on occasion. No one enjoys being the only one to strike up the conversation, or you come off as stuck-up. #JustSayin

3. Have something interesting to say. Provide your followers with something of value. An inspiring poem. Your favorite quote. Something funny that happened to you that day. Your amazing very first blog post that you’re so damn proud of. {gestures up and down along the side of this post with a hand flourish}

Where do so many go wrong?

Some rarely or never engage other people and only post about themselves. Their timelines are filled posts that say: Love me. Buy my book. Like my Facebook page. Love me. Buy my book. Like my Facebook page. Over and over…and over again.

Others may engage your replies with a comment back, but never follow you. No matter how many times you talk to them. If they aren’t famous and don’t have a million followers who buy their books, songs, movies, etc. purely for the love of their work, they appear unapproachable after a while.

Oftentimes, the only interaction some narcissistic people have with other people is thanking people for loving them (RTing their self-love.) Who’s their target market? Zombies?

If all they post is repetitive regurgitation of how much they love themselves, I have to wonder…who’s paying attention? Duplicate boring posts get blurred into the background of the timeline. Like flier-blindness at an overcrowded bulletin board, no one reads what you have to say when nothing is fresh or new. The poster of the mundane loses followers, or a discerning person looking at their timeline never follows at all.

The goal is to get people to buy your amazing book, right? Does following 25,000 people and having 25,000 followers translate into people buying and loving your book? Maybe the zombies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a decaying eyeball falling onto a page I’ve carefully crafted—the undead are not my target market. 

No matter what social-media train you’re on, it’s important to spend the time to make quality connections. Very busy and famous rock bands, actors, and authors make the time to connect with their fan base on Twitter, because it’s so easy to do. More importantly, they see the value enormous value in it. It makes them human and relatable.

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! …. We all have to be careful of our time on Twitter. The lure of escaping into another realm can be addictive, and the time-suck can deaden creativity. In order to keep our writing flowing, we have to watch how often and when we visit social media. Make sure the time you allot to Twitter counts. Engage others, follow people that you like, and have something interesting to say.

Think about your goals. Are you trying to gather the largest number of followers and likes? Or, are you trying to write the best book, novel, short-story, poetry?

Most importantly, make sure most of your creative time is spent polishing your work to be the very best piece ever written. Because at the end of the day, nothing sells a book faster than rave reviews spreading like wildfire across the meaningful network that you’ve successfully created.

I hope you enjoyed this first blogpost of mine! Please comment, share and RT if you enjoyed it. {nothing wrong with a touch self-love…smirks}

Kat

© 2012 – Kat Bastion