Posted in All Articles, Dealing with haters, Writer's problems

What to do when your readers and reviewers discourage you from writing?

If you follow Always Inspired Writing regularly, you surely know that I’m rather for writing for audience rather than against it. The reason for it is, I believe that if we want to make it as full time authors or bestselling authors (which I guess is everyone’s dream), we need to adhere to readers’ expectations.

Yet, if you have published more than just one work, you will quickly notice that pleasing readers is nearly impossible. There is always going to be one, or two, or even more readers who aren’t going to be pleased with what you wrote. Of course, as Andrea Schulman pointed out in one of her Law Of Attraction videos, seeking problems is going to make people find them.

In general, reviewers enjoy “being brutally honest”. The review is not about you or about your work, but about them. The reviewer is usually not a popular person. Shitting on you and your work is often the only way to make them shine. Reviewers are selfish and think about themselves; they seldom think about what the consequences of their “brutally honest” reviews have on the author, their feelings, reputation and sales.

Because reviewers don’t care about the author, we authors also shouldn’t care about the feedback that they leave either. Yet, we do. And this makes us:

  • hate ourselves,
  • hate what we write,
  • look down on our skills,
  • invalidate our progress,
  • invalidate our writing journey,
  • undermine our writing career,
  • get severe writer’s block or give up writing alltogether (in worst cases).

Taking this into consideration, you might ask me, Maria, do you still believe that we should be writing for the audience?

My answer is, yes and no.

Yes, because we need to adhere to some rules if we want to make sales. These rules are e.g. writing according to our chosen genre or writing with our target audience in mind.

No, because writing is about us. We haven’t become writers to read someone’s demeaning comments and get depressed. We have become writers to tell our stories. To whom? To ourselves.

“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really — I was alive,” said Walter White at the end of season 5 of Breaking Bad. And if you think about it, it’s what every writer could say as well.

When you focus too much on what readers think about your writing, you need to take a step away. Think about a story that you have yet to write, and are excited about. Feel the passion. Let your characters speak to you. I like thinking about my characters as of real people that are sitting in the waiting room, waiting to play on the stage of your novel. Your characters are your team – and not your reviewers.

When the outside world drags you down by saying this story shouldn’t be like this, or that, find the power to say no.

You are the creator of the story and you are the only one to decide if it is or isn’t perfect. Sometimes, negative feedback might make you reconsider and fix some things. That’s ok. But it’s also ok to reject negative feedback when it brings nothing.

If your perpetually unhappy readers and their highly critical comments bring you down, give yourself the permission to tell them fuck you in your thoughts. I know that the negative feedback affects your sales and your reputation, but you can still prevent it from damaging your self esteem. And you need your self esteem to get up and become victorious in the end.

I would like to leave you with a song at the end of this post, it’s “Save Rock and Roll” by Fall Out Boy. If you interpret the lyrics in the context of being a discouraged author, this song can make you feel better.

I hope this helps.

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Writer's problems

Why is there so much secrecy among authors, especially successful ones?

Have you ever wondered why there is so much secrecy among authors? Are you upset you can’t break the “glass ceiling”? Are you dying to know the true ways which will make your book an instant bestseller?

When we keep doing things suggested by other authors, and can’t succeed, we start to get angry…

We wonder why the successful authors out there aren’t willing to share their secret know-how which brought them massive success. We ask ourselves if they considered themselves better from us, indies at the end of the literary food chain. We want to know if there is an unwritten rule of not sharing anything so that the caste of the chosen “lucky ones” can remain priviledged forever…

Don’t we all love the idea of magical formulas, ancient rituals, ways proven by everyone, no risk / sure-fire gain scenarios?

We do.

But if we look closer at the community of the successful authors, they are not keeping anything secret.

Almost every popular author I know has told the media everything about their writing journey. Or if they didn’t tell the media, they revealed everything in their blog, their podcast, their youtube channel, their book, etc.

Just that, we don’t want to listen.

We don’t want to read.

We don’t want to learn, test different ways, try, fail, try again, fail again and try again. We try one thing, it doesn’t work, we get discouraged and say, “that’s scam, he couldn’t have used this method to succeed”.

The problem is, not everything will work for everyone.

I always spit on Facebook ads, book tours, leaving free copies in the libraries and contacting book bloggers. I tried all of these ways to make my book popular and got nothing. Yet, some authors will point out that those 4 ways worked miracles for them. Maybe they did.

I am somebody who is constantly researching new ways to make my (or my pen name’s) books more popular. And I sometimes get freaking frustrated, you know? I’m tired of listening that I need an author website, that I need to be present of social media, that I need to give out freebies, create a mailing list… blah, blah.

I know it, you know it, they know it, we all know it.

These are basics.

Most authors are going to teach basics because they can’t know that authors who are a little more ahead in their writing journeys are following their blogs as well. They are speaking mostly to writers who are only starting out, trying to write their first book, etc.

The thing is, the writing community is tired of hearing about the basics.

We want concrete techniques that work for everyone… now, not 10 years ago when book bloggers had nothing to read and were grateful for every free book, or when you could message Amazon reviewers directly through Amazon.

However, when everyone in the community follows the same advice, then the target audience becomes immune to it. We install ad blockers, ignore newsletters in our inbox and don’t click on ads for fear of being tricked into buying something we don’t want to buy.

What was supposed to bring success doesn’t bring success anymore, we bump into the glass ceiling, start believing in secrecy among authors, and get angry.

I think that the best solution to this is learning to think outside the box.

  • What can I do that other authors usually don’t do, that will give me an advantage?

This is a tough questions, let’s break it into other questions that are easier to digest:

  • What unique skills and talents do I have that put me ahead of my competitors in the chosen genre?
  • What unique assets and contacts do I have the I haven’t used yet, and that may give me an advantage?
  • If I couldn’t use the standard ways of promoting my book, how would I promote it?

I’m going to tell you something shocking now. Not about book publishing. About St. Valentine’s Day in China. Recently, it’s trendy to give bouquets of red roses wrapped in black tulle. I was shocked when I saw it, as in the western world, black is the funeral color. Not in China, however. Here, the funeral color is white. Black tulle is seen as something sexy, because it reminds people of black lingerie and erotica. Suddenly, everyone’s buying red roses decorated with black. It’s the most popular option this year.

Let’s think outside the box and become creative, rather than relaying on other people’s insight all the time.

Posted in All Articles, Free online marketing

Is it a good idea to enroll your book in KDP Select?

There are tons of articles on whether you should or shouldn’t enroll your book in KDP Select. I am definitely for, but I can also understand authors who are against. All their arguments boil down to the three following ones:

  • Books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited earn an extremely low royalty (4.78$ per 1000 pages).
  • You could sell the book on your website and earn everything that the customer pays, without extra taxes.
  • By putting all your eggs in one basket, you are missing out the readers on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble.

It all makes sense, doesn’t it? If you publish a book that has 100 pages, and price it at 5.55$, your royalty will be 3.88$. But if that same book is borrowed through Kindle Unlimited, your book earns 0.47$. Congratulations! You’ve just lost 88% of your earnings.

But what if your book never gets any sales at all? What if you are just starting out there as an indie author, you have three people on your e-mail list and you can’t ask your friends and family anymore? Then it’s 0.00$ vs 0.47$. Of course that 0.47$ is better.

I want to remind you that people love free stuff, and Kindle Unlimited gives an illusion of a free library, where you pay a small monthly fee you can afford, and can download thousands of ebooks without worrying about their tall prices.

Signing up your book for Kindle Unlimited is like leaving it in lots of different libraries in the world at once, so that the voracious readers interested in the genre can find it and borrow it.

You wouldn’t earn anything for leaving your book in a library, but you can get some cents in your royalty jar, and you are also giving the readers the chance to get to know you.

If you are just starting, nobody knows you and nobody cares about your book. Even if you drive 100 people daily to your website (which is already an achievement), it’s highly unlikely that they will purchase it. Private websites aren’t as credible as huge bookstores.

Then what about Apple? Kobo? Barnes & Noble? My uncle’s alternative bookshop? I agree that missing out on other retailers is a flaw of KDP Select. Yet, from my own experience, driving traffic to ONE SPECIFIC LINK is already problematic. Imagine all that traffic getting divided in 5. 10 people go to Kobo, 10 people go to Barnes & Noble, 10 people go to Apple, 10 people go to your uncle, 10 people go on your website, and 10 people go on Amazon. How high is the probability that any of these people will actually purchase your book from any of these places? Very low.

I learned these lessons after trying my luck with Amazon Associate Marketing. I’ve been promoting links nearly everywhere, got 490 clicks and 2 orders. That means that 0.4% of those who clicked actually bought anything.

So… Where do we go from here?

To the wise words that I have read on another author’s blog (I can’t quote them, cause I don’t remember who they were, I’m sorry):

Enroll in KDP Select when nobody knows you, and give up on it once you’ve grown a huge fan base.

I can tell you that my pen name would be absolutely lost without KDP Select.

KDP Select books are always offered for free, which is likely to attract the portion of readers who have Kindle Unlimited.

You can organize a free promotion as well, and advertise it on the websites I’ve listed in here. You’ll get plenty of downloads and maybe even get a high position in the free Kindle Store rank.

The free promotions are important, because they let new readers discover you without any financial risk. Those readers might leave you reviews, like your fanpage, or in the best case – purchase your other books.

There are also Kindle Countdown Deals, which create a sense of urgency. It’s on sale, buy it nowww! And who doesn’t love a huge discount? Discounts make us buy things we’d never buy otherwise. It manipulates the customer into thinking: “oh wow, this is so cheap, I’ll give it a try, it’s 0.99$ anyways!”

It doesn’t matter that you aren’t earning big money on it. What matters is that your book is downloaded, or borrowed, or bought. 

Each time that happens, your book jumps in the Kindle Store rank. The more free promotions and countdown deals you make, the more your books are going to jump.

My pen name had a book that was listed as 1,000,000 in the Kindle Store. Total disaster. After I had launched the free promotion, the book has landed on the first page in its three categories, and now it’s stuck at 200,000 in the Kindle Store, and even higher in its three categories (from 100 to 3000!).

By promoting just one book, you are promoting all your books. Readers have read your book for free, and now they trust you as an author – and what to read MORE of what you’ve written. So make sure there is something else in your Amazon catalogue, not just that one free e-book.

I can’t comment on Kindle Countdown Deals right now, as I haven’t tried it yet, but from what I’ve seen, there are lots of promotional websites that accept only discounted books.  I’m sure that the right amount of online buzz can create a successful Kindle Countdown Deal campaign, but I have to crack it first to tell you something wise (I don’t want to repeat stuff said by other authors without testing it first).

But those two goodies – Free Promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals – are only available if you are in KDP Select.

I don’t know what other huge bookstores have to offer their authors. So I can’t speak about Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and others. But I know that I’d be lost on KDP Select. I’d have to rely on paid promotions to create a buzz around your books, and while many seem very promising (targetted audience, first place in the newsletter), they don’t always result in sales.

To be honest, I don’t trust websites who send e-mails to their subscribers 4 times a day (or even every day). I bet those people don’t even open the e-mails, cause they’ve had enough of them. And even if they do, they are flooded with so many books that the probability that they choose yours is rather low.

There are also Amazon ads, however, creating a successful campaign that has a low ACOS (aka is profitable) is quite a challenge. I’ll write about Amazon ads another time, as I crack them and actually get some profit.

In my view, KDP Select is best for indie authors who are just starting. You can always opt out of it once you gather a larger audience, and more experience with marketing. However, I definitely wouldn’t miss it if you are an indie author who is only starting to do anything online. It’s going to be tough, and without KDP Select, it’s going to be even tougher. This is why I think that it’s really worth it to give exclusivity to Amazon for some time, in exchange for some great marketing tools that might help you become recognized among the target readers.

I hope that it helps.

Stay inspired.

Posted in All Articles, Writer's life, Writer's problems

The downsides of being a full time writer

Who doesn’t want to be a full time writer? To get up whenever you please, prepare breakfast for yourself, and just write?

Becoming a full time writer was a lifelong dream for me, and then – I was suddenly dragged into it by life circumstances that didn’t go as planned.

Although I really love being a full time writer, there are downsides about which nobody speaks. The main downside is, society seldom accepts lifestyles that vary from the norm.

Here are some challenges that I am facing as a full time writer.

Working long hours in a “phantom job”

On my writing journey, I used to work on writing from as little as 1 hour a day to as much as 15 hours a day. It all depended on how much time I had available.

Now, I’m a college graduate, but because of some visa complications I know I won’t be able to be employed on place for the next 20 months.

It’s a difficult situation that kind of forced me to try to earn an income online; and since writing is what I do best, I started a publishing house company.

Even though lots of people know my situation, and I often work in my company for 10-15 hours a day, I don’t earn a real wage yet. And when you aren’t earning a real wage, people tend to invalidate what you do, as money is the physical proof of success. If you aren’t earning money, then you are just not successful.

What is more, to most people, only the lucky ones can make it as writers, and I’ve totally  lost the touch with reality. In their eyes, I’m just another nini (from Spanish ni trabaja ni estudia someone who doesn’t work and doesn’t study). Because what value could my work have if it’s not bringing money (yet?).

I know that most people don’t believe in me and think that I’m crazy. And I’m ok with that. I know what I am doing. I trust in what I am doing and I know I will succeed. I don’t need others to acknowledge me ’cause I am acknowledging myself.

Yet, it’s not only about comments. Some people in my life will go as far as disrupting my writing routine on purpose. I know that they have mostly good intentions, but it truly bothers me.

Declining invitations most of the time

The main reason why I am declining invitations are my depressive moods. Most often, I am just too depressed to go out. I often use the writing work as an excuse, yet, I do writing work even when I am really depressed, as it helps me pick myself up and gives me energy and optimism. To me, writing is a strong antidepressant that helps so much more than pasting asmile on my face and chit chatter with party people.

Yet often, if I am dragged away from my writing work, which drives me crazy. I’m really frustrated when I can’t complete my everyday duties. People can’t understand this frustration, as they hate their everyday jobs.

We have two different situations, two different perspectives, and suddenly, I just don’t know what to talk to people about.

Being a one-track minded bore

When I was younger, I was interested pretty much in everything (I wrote about it in here). I knew that scattering my attention on too many things at once wasn’t a habit of successful people. So, I narrowed my interests to writing and new age spirituality. Let’s put the new age spirituality aside for a moment, and focus on writing. Writing is tied to mastering your skills, publishing, doing marketing, interacting with readers, reading… It’s all fascinating to me, but to somebody who isn’t into it, I’m probably an incredible bore.

Losing (or gaining) too much weight

I know that slouching all the time in front of your laptop (or phone, or notebook) isn’t healthy, and promotes weight gain. For this reason, I was tweaking my diet for years, until I found the perfect spot: intermittent fasting. I’ve been doing it for 7 months already, yet, I constantly hear people protesting: skipping breakfast is unhealthy, you aren’t eating normally, I could never live like that. The rational arguments that IF’s benefits have been proven scientifically, that I feel better, that I’m not even losing weight anymore – don’t work. Eat more. You aren’t eating enough. 

Not enough time to train sports professionally

My bucket list is full of sports I’d like to try one day, when I don’t have to work so hard on my writing. These sports are mostly martial arts, oriental dances and street sports. I know that being in your 20s is the best time to do these things, however, I’m so busy writing, being a writing coach and running a publishing house, that I just lack time to dedicate myself seriously to anything else. I am trying to be active when I can, yet… You should work out more, why don’t you go out to take a run, it’s unhealthy to sit in front of a screen for so long… etc. Like I didn’t know it. I have only 24 hours, like every single person on this planet. I dedicate them to what matters the most to me at the current moment, and becoming a sports pro isn’t my priority.

Being constantly asked Why can’t you live normally?

You have only one flaw, darling: you can’t live like a normal person. Why can’t you be a normal person, with a normal lifestyle? Why can’t you pay more attention to the mudane things? I always have to put up with your strange choices.

I had actually heard all these words, and yes, they hurt.

So why can’t I live normally?

Well, let’s start from the beginning. I was lonely, isolated and unheard child. My caregivers were very stern. I was expected to excel in everything, and if I didn’t, love was taken away. When I turned 16, I was so disciplined already that I didn’t need any external motivators.

When I turned 22, I went through a deep personal crisis. One of the outcomes was a  realization that I wanted to be free from the system: I didn’t want to work from 9 am to 5 pm for a perpetually unhappy boss and beg to be able to take a free day when I needed it. I didn’t want to be the slave of a minimum wage for 30 years, and then live off a minimum pension.

In the new age spirituality, we believe that thougths lead to actions and actions create the reality. I knew I would never be able to create a different reality for myself if I follow the flock. I wanted to be a writer because that’s what I’m most passionate about. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all had jobs that we were passionate about? What’s the benefit from having an employee who hates what he’s doing?

Of course, creating a job for yourself isn’t easy. It requires much effort. But I’m great at putting effort into things that I care about. I’m programmed this way. Even if I decided to turn back, and follow the flock, I certainly wouldn’t be happy.

And this is why I can’t live normally.

Because I am willing to sacrifice lots of things now in order to get my dream life later. This is called the delayed gratification. I don’t feel like I’m missing out; rather, I’m postponing the fun life for later (although writing is really much fun as well). But you know what I mean.

So yeah, this was my perspective on the downsides of being a fulltime writer. Sometimes it’s hard. But, most of the time, it really makes me happy.

I hope this was interesting for you.

Stay inspired.

Posted in All Articles, Free online marketing

20 actually free websites where you can promote your free e-book

Today a really short, but useful article on free websites where you can promote your free e-book.

Who hasn’t bumped into lists of free sites to promote your Kindle deals, or 91 sites for e-book submissions? And got horribly frustrated, because these sites:

  • only pretend to be free but actually require a payment (and you discover it after filling a form with 30-50 places);
  • want you to create an account without the guarantee that you will actually get the promotion;
  • require you to like and share their posts before they promote you;
  • don’t accept steamy romance;
  • haven’t been updated for months or even years;
  • require 20 reviews (and you have zero);
  • don’t exist anymore?

If yes, then try out the following list compiled by me. I only put websites which are functional, free and actually allow you to promote your e-book online. If you are required to log in, then it’s worthy doing it, as the website will actually allow you to promote your e-books. Hence, you aren’t risking spam in your inbox by creating a new account.

Websites on which you can promote your e-book (regardless of its price):

  1. AllAuthor
  2. Awesome gang
  3. Thirsty author
  4. Wanton reads
  5. Pretty hot

Websites on which you can promote your e-book (if perma-free or on free promotion on Kindle):

  1. Get Free Ebooks
  2. eBookasaurus
  3. Free Books
  4. Free Ebooks Blog
  5. Free Stuff Times
  6. Hunt 4 Freebies
  7. Indie book of the day
  8. E-reader IQ (this is an interesting website that tracks your novel once submitted. If a reader wants to read your book, but want to read it for free, they can track it and if you start a promotion, they will be notified. It’s smart and interesting!)
  9. OHFB
  10. Discount Book Man
  11. Book Preview Club
  12. Book Circle
  13. Freebies4Mom
  14. This is writing
  15. Shameless book deals (it’s better to submit ahead to make sure that there are free places in the newsletter)

With time, I hope to post more lists like these. If you find out that any of the links stopped working, please write me a comment in the section below and I’ll instantly delete it.

I hope this helps!

Stay inspired.