Friday, December 21, 2012

Vacation Time and Reflections on 2012

Tip of the Day: I'm participating in a blog hop & giving away a ton of Amazon money and ebooks. Check out the giveaways here and here.

Wanted to let y'all know at the top of the post that Author2Author is going on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Plus, our format is changing a bit in 2013. Instead of hearing from us on a daily basis, we will be blogging only when we have interesting, informative, and fun things to pass on to our readers. You are guaranteed to hear from each of us at least once a month and please email us with and questions or topics you want covered.

Wow, so 2012 was kind of crazy year for me professionally. In January, out of the blue and a total surprise to me, my books kind of exploded. The amount of ebooks I sold in January was half the total of what I sold in the entirety of 2010. Talk about a bit of spike! Sales only continued to climb through April, then held steady until August 6th, when inexplicably, my sales on Amazon were cut in half. I never recovered that high of the first half of the year. In fact, just this past Tuesday, I had my lowest sales day on Amazon in a year.

This crazy rise in sales led to agent interest. Very few outside my inner circle know that I was contacted by some pretty big agents (who shall remain nameless), possibly interested in repping me. It was exciting and scary. But, just like my sales, those fizzled out. Even the one who was most interested in me ended up rejecting me with a form letter. Depressing!

So while you're reading this, you're probably thinking, Gee, Megg, your career was great and now it sucks. Guess you're going back to querying. If you thought that, you wouldn't be the only one. Friends keep asking me the same question. While I've tossed the idea around in my head, I really can't see any advantage to sending out queries now. Look at what I accomplished on my own - and I got to keep 70% of the income. I made more money this year self-publishing than I've ever made at any job in my life. Plus, I'm inching ever closer to that 50,000 sold mark. Not too shabby for a nobody self-pub.

I've got a new book in the works already for 2013. I'm not telling a lot about it now, but if you're interested, you can follow here to get updates.

Enjoy your holidays and see ya in 2013!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tip of the Day: Katie Klein is giving away a copy of The Paparazzi Project on her blog. Go here to enter!

The Paparazzi Project is out and available on Amazon for $3.99! Makes a great addition on those Kindle Fires you're getting from Santa. ;-)

And stop by my blog to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of all four of my books plus swag!

Even Santa gets followed by the Paparazzi. Merry Christmas!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's the End of the Year As We Know It (or I Feel Busy But Fine*)

*with apologies to REM

Tip of the Day: Check out THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker for a great adult book with teen appeal (I hope it makes the Alex Award list). The earth's rotation is slowing, making the days and nights longer...will it stop or be the end of life as we know it? (And will it happen to us on Dec. 21??? :))

Happy Holidays, A2A Readers!

Lately I've been swamped with a few things:

1. Christmas preparations, including making the house decent enough for my bro and his wife to stay with me and attending various holiday soirees (aka Festivus).

2. Revising the end of a MG novel I hope to query agents with by February.

3. Reading the Morris Award nominees, some adult novels that may be Alex Award contenders, and two books to review for VOYA.

4. Using up my vacation time at work, while still trying to pull together a teen art opening and reception tomorrow night.

My post today is lacking real concrete content due to said busy times, but I promise in January to recap my top five reads of 2012 out of 200 books read (yes, I will hit 200 by Jan. 1; am at 196 now).

Until then, enjoy the days getting longer and the New Year!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peanuts for Christmas

Tip of the Day: Make out a wish list for your characters. And a wish list of what they'd like to get that significant other!

Since this is my last post before Christmas swallows me up, I wanted to post about something fun, but I couldn't figure out what. Then I got a text from my brother. "Did you send me a package?" Ha ha, I did. I sent him peanuts.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was able to send him peanuts. The Internet is a wonderful thing.

Probably everyone has a stupid in-joke with a sibling. He used to get me a Chia pet every year. My Chia pets tended to run into accidents, but one did very well and I had it growing for months until I ran out of seeds. He's also bought me past life cards so I could figure out who I was in a past life. Hint: not a Viking, to my disappointment.

Also, we had a wise guy. He was a wise man in our nativity set whose head broke off. We used to carefully balance his head on his neck and ask people to reach for presents we tucked behind the wise man. When his head inevitably fell off, we'd cry that the set had been in the family for generations. I think that's how my husband met my brother.

I think some of us like writing humor so much because we remember and cherish these silly things. My father never let us miss The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The dog cracked him up every year, and now the dog cracks me up every year. My daughter, on the other hand, has always been terrified of Frosty the Snowman. I'm sure her brother will send her Frosty figurines when he's my age.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 14, 2012

Secrets Galore!

Tip of the Day: Get your pets Bob Barker'd (for those of you who aren't familiar with The Price is Right - spay or neuter your pets). That's my baby schnauzer, Tanu. She just got spayed on Monday.

I feel like I'm filled with secrets these days. On Facebook I get invited to groups all the time. Probably 47 times a day, if I bothered to count. But within the last couple weeks, I've been invited to two groups, both secret, and I plan to actually stay in them and participate.

The first was started by two of my fellow writers. Peeps I know, but don't know well. Writers I already admired. We chat about publishing in general, but there's no spam. Refreshing.

The second group came about just a couple of days ago. Again, started by a writer-friend I like a lot and totally trust. She wants to find a way for us indies to band together and help each other out. It looks like it might be fun, if nothing else.

Did you know you can create secret boards on Pinterest? I did and I thought it was dumb. What's the point of a secret board? Then I started seeing these great fantasy pics in my Facebook feed and I took screen shots. I thought What will I do with all of these pics? Ding! Ding! Ding! Secret Pinterest board. Why secret? Well, they aren't credited to an artist. I want them for inspiration, but I don't want to get sued for posting something I don't own the rights to. Plus, I now have my inspiration with me at all times via my iPhone, iPad, or iMac. Woot!

It's pretty incredible that it's possible to have secrets online. It seems like everything is open to everyone. Luckily, that doesn't have to be the case.

I think back to nearly 20 years ago when I was just starting college in the fall of '93 and I was assigned an email address. I had no idea what it was - or how it would change my life and the lives of everyone around me. I think that's another reason I'm so into e-publishing. I was learning to program in html and creating websites before most people knew what they were (just for fun - my degree is in medieval history). All of this awesome techy stuff keeps me young. :D

Have a great weekend!!!!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Exciting week! Contest Alerts!

Tip of the Day: 11 shopping days until Christmas! Get those online orders in!

It's been an exciting week! On my blog I talked about The Espressologist being purchased for film (yay!) and I'm running a contest for one more day. Check it out. Five winners will received a signed copy of The Espressologist and a $5 Starbucks gift card.

And I'm really excited about The Paparazzi Project coming out on Saturday! And another fun giveaway will launch then. Check back on my blog then and enter!

What are you guys excited about this week?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Songful Reminder (or Driving Music of the 90s)

Tip of the Day: Check out Winter Escapes for free and cheap YA fantasy ebooks as well as other giveaways!

There are certain songs that will come on the radio that immediately take me back to middle or high school. Usually it's because these songs:

1. were in heavy rotation on 90.5 WBER when I first started driving and listened to the radio all the time in the car, or

2. were one-hit wonders on WBER in my early driving years so that is the only association I make with those songs, or

3. were in heavy rotation on 98PXY during middle school when that was the "safe" station for the school bus driver to play.

So, do you all remember:

A. "Wonderwall" by Oasis (my gym teacher would sing this, making a whiny vocal even worse)

B. Marilyn Manson's "Sweet Dreams" (I was a fan of the Eurythmics' original, and when this version debuted, my emo high school self couldn't get enough)

C. The Rentals' "Friends of P" (never a true fan, but always seemed to be playing in the mid-90s)

D. "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts" by Less Than Jake (the beauty of the jump-around-dance-music -- ska! -- whatever happened to this band?)

And to end with a Christmas song...

E. OK, granted I was only five when this song came out (1984), but it still reminds me of middle school (the 98PXY effect) and would be stuck in my head all day when I got off the bus in the morning for the entire month of December: Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" You gotta love Bono's passion in this epic feel good tune.

(For more amusement, also check out "We're Sending Our Love Down the Well," a The Simpons classic, circa 1992 (skip to 1:00).)

What songs take you immediately back to driving around after school?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A season for writing

Tip of the Day: trying to get inspired this winter? Try some of these creative writing prompts from Litbridge.

Not sure if it's the cold weather and snow covered roads that force me inside during the winter or if it's just the perfect time of year for writing, but winter seems to be my prime writing season.

Even though winter is always busy with events, the holidays, etc., it still seems that I have more ideas for stories and get inspired to write more than any other time of the year. Maybe it's the NaNoWriMo tradition or maybe it's something else. Whatever it is, it's Writing Time for me.

What's your favorite time of the year to write?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, December 10, 2012

YA Internet Meme Fun

Tip of the Day: Miss your pumpkin coffee treats? You can still get Starbucks VIA pumpkin spice packs at Target!

Today's post is for my 14-year-old daughter. What do 14-year-olds like? Internet memes of course! And talking about books. See, those worlds can mix.

Which one is your favorite?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 7, 2012

Creating Your Own Book Trailer

Tip of the Day: Need to get in the Christmas mood? This video from The Muppets always does it for me:

Today I'll be spending some time creating a book trailer for my Hell Bent Heaven Sent series (under my other pen name, Isobel Lucas). So I thought I'd give you guys a quick and dirty outline on making book trailers.

I actually start with the music. Why? Because the music you choose typically determines how long your trailer's going to be. My favorite place for royalty free music? Neosounds. It's amazing. I could spend all day long listening to music there. It's awesome. You can sort by length, genre, and even emotion. I love it there. I generally choose music approximately one minute in length.

Next, buy some stock photos that fit the themes of your book. I get mine from Dreamstime. This is usually where I find my cover models, so I buy additional pictures of those models, as well as generic shots that I want to use under text for the trailer.

Write your script. You want to include the pertinent parts of your book. Use your blurb, or your elevator pitch, and split it up over a few frames. Make sure you include a spot for your cover(s), as well as where to buy.

Then you just put everything together in a movie program. Okay, okay, I know that makes it sound easy. It was a big learning curve for me when I made my first trailer. It took days to make Anathema's, but like with anything, the more you do it, the faster and more efficient you become. It takes a bit of time to learn how to use the program, but trust me, if I can do it, so can you!!!!

I'm going to be using iMovie tomorrow, but for my other trailers I used the movie program that used to come with PCs through Microsoft. I don't own a PC anymore, so I can't look up the name, sorry. But if you have a PC, it should be there on your hard drive, pre-installed.

Book trailers aren't necessary, but they are a lot of fun! I haven't made one in over a year, but I really wanted to do one for the Isobel Lucas series, so I'm going to give a whirl.

Here are the trailers I made for Anathema, Oubliette, and The Initiate last year. Hope you like them! :D

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas-Themed YA!

Tip of the Day: 10 days until The Paparazzi Project comes out! So excited!

I've talked about my obsession with cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies over the years and if you're a fan too you'll have to agree this year is the BEST! For weeks now they've been playing the movies one after another continuously. My DVR is so dang full right now. Happy sigh. :-)

What about Christmas themed-YA though? I've been working on one for awhile and I love it. And hopefully one day people will get to read it. In the mean time, here's a list of some Christmas-themed YA:

by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

From Goodreads: "Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses."

by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman, Nina Malkin

From Goodreads: "Snuggle up beside the fire with this juicy collection of four different, but equally sizzling, winter romances.

Glittering white snowflakes. The handsome blond ski instructor. The sparkle on a cashmere skirt. Hot cocoa and kisses in front of a crackling fire. The holiday season is the ESSENCE of magic...and romance. Four of today's bestselling teen authors -- Melissa de la Cruz (THE AU PAIRS), Aimee Friedman (SOUTH BEACH), Hailey Abbott (SUMMER BOYS), and Nina Malkin (6X) -- bring us delectable tales of love and lust and holiday cheers (and tears) in this one-of-a-kind collection that teens will devour faster than a plate of Christmas cookies."

by Kate Brian

From Goodreads: "Two Exes. One holiday adventure. Merry Ex-Mas? 

Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.
Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau — a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.

It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?"

by Kate Brian

From Goodreads: "Ariana Osgood has everything an Easton Academy girl could want: straight A's, the perfect boyfriend, and a coveted spot in exclusive Billings House. But on the first night of Christmas vacation, a blizzard traps her on campus with irresistible bad-boy Thomas Pearson. Alone. Instead of snuggling with her boyfriend next to a cozy fire in Vermont, she's huddling for warmth with Thomas in Ketlar House.
As the snow transforms Easton into a winter wonderland, Ariana finds herself falling for Thomas. But someone is watching their clandestine romance unfold, someone intent on turning their holiday weekend into a nightmare...

Last Christmas reveals the secret of what really happened before Private began -- and the shocking truth will change everything for fans of Kate Brian's bestselling series."

by Sabrina James

From Goodreads: "A tale of love, romance, confusion, and Christmas perfectly timed for the holiday season.

Noelle, a hopeless romantic, just knows that her gifts have to be from her senior crush! And geeky Froggy thinks the game is the perfect way to get super-popular Celia to fall for him...except she thinks his gifts are from Jake, the school's resident bad boy, and starts to crush on him! Romantic mishaps abound, but all is revealed the night of the Winter Dance, where there's more than one surprise waiting under the mistletoe!"

The Twelve Dates of Christmas
by Catherine Hapka

From Goodreads: "Lexi's feeling a little holidazed this winter....
Lexi's been going out with Cameron for way too long. Sure, he's a nice guy, but there's a spark missing between them. So she comes up with the perfect plan: get him to fall for another girl so she'll be free -- and guilt-free, too.

But when Lexi sees Cameron looking awfully cozy with Jaylene, her heart melts, especially when her budding psychologist best friend tells her that once a new couple has gone out a dozen times, their relationship is pretty much set. Cameron's twelfth date with Jaylene -- the Christmas Ball -- is coming up. Can Lexi find a way to rekindle her relationship with Cameron in the (saint) nick of time?

Happy Holiday Reading!

Kristina Springer

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

eReading v. Paper Reading (or We Are Living in a Digital World and I Am a Digital Girl*)

*With apologies to Madonna

Tip of the Day: Check out these YA for NJ ebay auctions for more chances to get cool stuff for donating to NJ's Sandy relief efforts!

Last Christmas, my mother bought me a Nook Simple Touch.

I was excited to own an ereader because a) I wanted firsthand experience with the new technology that we'd be promoting at my library with our OverDrive ebook lending platform, and b) I wanted to easily read some ebook-only novels on a nice matte screen.

Skip ahead 11 months into ereader ownership. Do I prefer digital words to printed? Let's find out.

1. When flying (lighter packing)
2. When on the exercise bike/elliptical machine (easier to hold onto with sweaty hands/less finger strain)
3. When a good sounding book is only epubbed
4. When reading in bed (easier to read with less moving (yes, I'm lazy right before sleepy time))
5. When I want to read something very fast (it's easy for me to skim with one-touch page turning)
6. When I want a book immediately (wifi connection!)

1. When flying (can still read during "no electronic devices may be turned on" period)
2. When at the library/bookstore (can easily/quickly flip through, read random pages, see if the book is for me)
3. When the cover is gorgeous and I want to look at it again and again
4. When the formatting of the ebook is messy/hard to read (has happened with self- and trad-pubbed books)
5. When reading picture books (I like the images big and bold)
6. After I've been staring at a computer screen all day at work (need a break from screen time)
7. When doing book talks to teens (they can see the whole package of what they're getting -- length, tone from book design, etc.)

From these lists I can easily say that both types of books have a place in my life, and I don't want to see either go away any time soon.

What do you prefer about each type of book/reading experience?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Real vs. Fake Settings

Tip of the Day: since I've talked a lot about procrastination on this blog, thought I would point out this post by Laura Murray on additional ways to combat it. She has some excellent ideas (though--not sure if I'm ready to commit to implementing them just yet).

This weekend, I got to take a very brief trip to visit my sister and some other family members on the east coast. Prior to the visit, my mother had happened to read an article that Nora Roberts lived in a nearby town, and the town itself was featured heavily in one of her latest trilogies: Inn Boonsboro (which incidentally Roberts herself owns the actual inn and refurbished it after a fire).

Anyway, we decided to take a bit of a field trip to visit the town and check out some of the places featured in the books. I hadn't read any, so I just went along for the ride. But while in town, I stopped at the bookstore owned by her husband and picked up one of her books to give it a try.

And I have to say, I probably never would have bought the book had I not been there, but now I'm completely intrigued with the idea of reading about the local pizza place that we lunched at that's featured in the book or learning more about the inn itself.

In my own books, I tend to stick with fake settings. Primarily because it usually doesn't work out to use real locations for the purposes of the novel. Or I can't research locations well enough that geographically work were the novel is set.

However, I'm completely re-changing my thought process on this. It was so much fun to visit a real place featured in a book and it sort of added to the entire experience. Plus, if you use real settings and businesses (especially in a small town) you have an instant revenue source, built in businesses that will sell your book, and everyone in town will want to read the book.

As for Nora Roberts, she's clearly a genius  Not only to write about her town, but to include several of the place she owns in her books, which create instant tourism buzz. Nothing like cross promoting!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, December 3, 2012

For the Super Busy!

Tip of the Day: Kefir whole milk yogurt drinks are great for kids on antibiotics.

I. Am. So. Freaking. Busy.

Hours and hours of freelance writing committed to. A couple of books I'm editing are due to the publishers. A request and resubmit from a fantastic agent. Christmas shopping. Christmas decorating. Kid with strep throat. Mother-in-law wants to be driven places. Husband working all weekend. Mom angry at me for not calling. Teen girl also wants to be driven places. Christmas cards (ha!). Christmas outfits. Holiday piano recitals. Car repairs. Doctor's appointments. Dog. House. Cat. Laundry. Cooking ... I can't take it any more!!

So when life keeps you running the treadmill (except not actually exercising, who has time for that?) how are you supposed to feel like a writer?

Because the thing with writing is it never ends. Story ideas. Promotion ideas. Social networking. Revisions. Critiques. Always, always behind, even in the best of times. But now? Can't even type complete sentences.

But every Christmas, I re-read Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I watch It's a Wonderful Life. I try to go to bed early (not nursing a cold, I can't afford a cold) and read. And while I'm driving around, my mind is wandering, too. I'm that lady wandering aimlessly around Macy's trying to remember why I'm there, but getting some character's backstory straight.

Somehow Christmas dinner will make it to the table. Right?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages