In a world of niche marketing the question remains. Where do I fit in? It seems simple enough to answer, but I’ve found it increasingly difficult to pick sides for my first release. The Alpha’s… More
A month ago, I published for the first time ever under my own name. I’m still freaking out about it.
I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t my first published work. The thing is, it’s very different publishing under a pseudonym or as part of a collaborative work. Taking ownership of my words is something I’ve always struggled with, and thus The Alpha’s Dream is no small creation for me.
There are tons of things I learned on the road to writing it, but what I want to discuss today is what I’ve learned from dreaming it period. Here are five things wanting The Alpha’s Dream has taught me.
Career changes are risky.
When I first decided to write The Alpha’s Dream there were only two things of which I was certain. I wanted a career from writing my own books and I would have to cut back on my ghostwriting. That great book you love, it took hella long hours to write. There was no way I was going to be able to keep the pace of my ghostwriting and add in the creation of my own original work. I had to cut back my hours, which translated into missed income from my home. At the time, I had two littles and had just discovered my third pregnancy. I wanted to put it off longer. Collecting great premises that I would one day flesh into novellas or novels had become a hobby of sorts. After weeks of quietly deliberating, I talked to my husband. His response was for me to go for it. We would restructure and figure out how to make it. I was terrified anyway and rightfully so. Our budget was already stretched to it’s seam, but then the first certainty kicked in. I knew I wanted to publish my own work, and there was only one way to get there. I would have to take the chance and pull away from creating for others to build the life I wanted for myself. I had to face the risk of it, or I would never know what could come of it. Thus, the Year of the Leap was born.
Plan. Execute. Repeat.
I have limited time. Balancing wifehood, motherhood, and writing full time leaves me short of hours. If I was goin to do this I would need to be sure from the beginning. I took a couple of weeks to determine what premise I would use for my first release, then the plotting, and writing came. I’m more of a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl (pantser) but I couldn’t afford the writers block I inevitably end up with when I do that. I had to make the hours count. So I took the time to research the best outline methods and crafted one that worked with my writing style. Then, I went to work. Executing is by far the hardest part of this process. There were times I would fall asleep at the keyboard, or scrap an entire chapter. There were also moments when I doubted I’d find my idea market and question whether the work would sell. Ultimately, I just had to get up everyday knowing I am an author working on her latest release and see it through. Not always fun, but worth it now.
Have faith or fear, but not both.
I am naturally a worse case scenario person. I have a hard time visualizing success, and am actively working to change that about myself. The base for my doubt is always fear, and I couldn’t afford to e afraid any longer. I was taking the biggest risk of my life, with the oldest dream of my heart. I had to pick faith in my God, my work, and myself over the fear. Fear is a powerful emotion. Faith is a strong counterattack. I’m still learning to shift my focus. It has been important to me that I don’t inflate with hyper positive but unsubstantiated ideas. Instead, I honor that I have to work hard by giving voice being uncertain there will be a payoff. I have faith that with every published work, I will build and grow a little more. That is what I hold on to when things are murky. It is a work in progress.
Find your market, or be fearless in creating one.
Initially, I wasn’t sure there was a market for shifter romances with both hero and heroine as African-Americans. The norm seemed to show a comfort level for BW heroes and WM shifters as well as Caucasian hero’s and heroines. I knew I wasn’t the only brown woman who loved shifter romances, but there didn’t seem to be a recognizable market. I searched for months and didn’t find anything. There was more doubt, more fear that the risk I was taking was not going to work. After a while, it didn’t matter that I didn’t see the market. I saw the characters, and their stories. I believed that would be enough to attract readers, even if they were checking out shifter romances for the first time. I found my niche and I am working it like it has been heavily established. I am a reader of the books I write. I am my own market. As it turns out, so are you.
You don’t have time to wait for the “perfect time”.
The time you are in is always the perfect time. Don’t get me wrong. There is an ideal setting in which i would have liked to start writing. Ideally, we would have been financially sure from other endeavors. The market would be fairly established and my darlings would have a lovely routine that allowed them not to miss me when I was writing. Suffice to say I am still working on that part of the dream. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would have to make time, I would have to have faith, and just start. Start. I couldn’t spend anymore years waiting for my ideal scenario to make it easy for me to pursue my dreams. I had to begin right in the thick of my uncertainty. I had to start where I was and hold steady until something great happened. It is happening now.
As I celebrate The Alpha’s Dream very cute and meaningful milestone, I am happy that I took the chances I did. I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, and produced a work I love because of it. There will only be more from here.
Comment below with your thoughts on The Alpha’s Dream.
I’ve been working on my blog as part of my author platform for a while now. The truth is, it’s become so much more.
As I write this, I’m already thinking of what other things I will add to my blog to make it more interactive for my readers. Not just those who read my books, but those who drop by on occasion to keep in touch. I love the alerts when someone likes a post I’ve read or when they send me a message about something I’ve written. It feels good to be connected.
So, I want you to come here more often. I want you to send your friends, your frenemies, and the all that you believe will be interested to my website. I’m more than just books and here are five reasons you should subscribe to my blog and keep in touch.
Mama Stories/Wife Things
I’ve only been a mother for three years. I’ve been a wife for nearly eleven years. My years alone with my husband are a very telling part of my being a romantic. My years with my children were the catalyst for me to stop ghostwriting. Already, I’ve gained a lot, learned a lot about myself and the world around me that I didn’t notice until my children were born. Their births kicked my writing into gear and I love it. Often enough, I found myself writing about their influence as I blogged. It has now become a permanent and intentional writing point. I’m a #MamaAuthor. It is a major factor to my work. If you are a mama/ wife who has found yourself influenced by your children or your spouse to commit to your other passions, these stories are for you.
Book updates, snippets and conversations on publishing
My blog came to exist because I am an author. It is a place for readers to connect with my books. So of course, there will be updates for what I am working on, new release information, and soon there will be snippets of works in progress. I write shifter romances with African-American leads. If you are into that sort of thing, subscribe! keeping in contact here will allow a greater chance that you will see what’s coming next, first.
This is a big thing for me. I’m always working on other projects. It’s not that I just prefer to be busy, but I prefer to expand on my purpose. My blog deals a lot with my goals from the stand point of an author. However, the tools and methods I use can be applied to anything. I’m all for accountability. When I’m writing to you, I am asking you to hold me accountable for the dreams I have made public. When you comment, you are inviting me to do the same. It is a small thing, but a very useful one. Together we can inspire each other toward the lives we all want.
Exclusives and Giveaways
Now that I am getting the hang of this blogging thing I’m offering a lot more. My writing career is officially kicked off and while establishing my dream team, I’m in the process of developing exclusive swag for those who join. In addition, the excerpts and #freshpress work that you find here is exclusive unless otherwise noted. When you come to my website, I want your experience to be one fluid invitation into the creative space of my life. I aim to make that as seamless and welcoming as possible.
We’re All Family Here
You may have stumbled upon my blog. You may have gotten here through a search engine or some other method of funneling. Whatever the way you got here, it is because you were looking for something. So is everyone here. I’m writing African-American centered shifter romances because I couldn’t readily find them when I was looking. Maybe that was what drew you. Stay for the coffee and conversation. Stay for the insights on publishing, and the struggles I face while trying to write what I love. Comment with tips for dealing with anxiety or other ways to balance work and wife/mama life. We’re all connected here. We are all here for a reason and I am working to nurture those reasons for all of us.
There you have it. Five good reasons you should subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already. You can simply follow me from the site or you can sign up for my newsletters for updates on the latest going on here and with the books I am publishing. I’m sure you have your reasons for coming. These are reasons to stay. Don’t break my heart. Leave a comment below about some of the things you’ve liked about my growing blog so far. I love to hear from you.
Writing is an act of art. It is a statement of creativity. It is open to criticism.
I am not above a bad review.
Common knowledge. For some writers, the first review where a reader expresses discontent with their work is akin to having their heart plucked out while still alive. It is a shock to the system, feels fatal, and is often callous. Yup. All of that is still true for someone like me whose worked behind the scenes on several projects. Anything below a three star writing is definite grounds for improvement.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been stalking my ratings and reviews. The very first moment I noticed the below three star ratings on The Alpha’s Dream my heart sank like a stone in a pond. I read the written review carefully. I analyzed it for days looking for some hidden bias. The hidden bias? The reader didn’t like my writing style. She just didn’t like the book. Fair. NOT FUN, but fair.
I’m bringing to light these ratings because I believe in their credibility. This isn’t about knowing the reviewer, but about knowing the process. I believe the ratio to readers and reviewers is something like 5 or 6 to 1. Out of 50 people who read a book only about 10-15 will leave a review. So every review counts. Every review also represents multiple people. The reviewers who left the 2 star ratings represent other readers who ultimately decided against leaving a rating at all, rather than leave bad one.
Deep breaths. Long Sighs. Honesty is rarely pleasant.
However, I am not one of those authors who feels that every review must be a positive one. I am not lost in the fallacy that everyone who reads my books will fall haplessly in love with my work. It is unrealistic, no matter how badly I would like it to be true.
As an artist, it is difficult to read that someone doesn’t like the work I’ve spent countless hours developing. Art requires thick skin. Art requires respect for the audience just as much as for the authors. I suspect over the life of my work there will be even more unflattering reviews. I’m prepared-ish for that, and I will face it with grace.
I want all my readers to know that their reviews, ratings, comments are honored. I hear you. I’ll work even harder to give you a product that you enjoy. We’re in this together and for the long-term.
Comment below with characters or stories you would like to see written.
Some of the best advice I was given as a writer was to write everyday and to read everyday. Words to live by.
After the birth of my children, I found myself thinking a lot about books. From all the research and studies conducted, the impact of reading to children during their formative years is lifelong. Education is big our home. Knowledge and access to information are things we openly discuss and advocate.
It was a no-brainer for us that we would incorporate books into daily life of our children. The result is my littles love to read. They enjoy a good book as much as I do and a trip to the library may as well be the state fair. It’s an ordeal. I love that.
As an author, I feel a lot of responsibility in nurturing their love of books. I want their relationship with literature to be one that thrills them for the rest of their lives. With that being said, I’m pretty critical of the books I read to them. There are several criteria I look for when establishing a reading habit for my littles. I’ll discuss those in a later post. This post is all about them being readers period.
When I was a child, the library was a sanctuary for my siblings and I. I wasn’t a fast reader, didn’t eat up series after series like my sister did, but I did love the process of choosing books and what they represented for me.
It was more than just a way to pass the time.
The cliché is that it became an escape. There’s a lot of truth in that, but as I think about it now I’m sure there are deeper levels. What I found in books was exposure. In the small town that I grew up in, there were very firm ideas about identity, race, and cultural norms. In books, I was able to expand my vision of those things. Writers have been critical in shaping my values, my belief systems, and my personal identity. I want that for my kids.
There are things that I cannot teach them, because I don’t have the experiences to accurately express them. Even though I don’t have the tools, these lessons are still things they must learn. By nurturing their love for books, I’m giving them another resource to turn to when their father and I don’t have the answers. I’m also giving them autonomy, teaching them responsibility in seeking answers to their problems/ questions, and allowing them the freedom to live beyond the natural circle of our lives.
Raising readers, isn’t just about expanding our children’s ability to read and process information. It is about giving them access to a larger world that they may not otherwise experience. Teaching empathy toward fights they may not have to face, and still giving them authority over what they learn.
They are getting older and will soon take more ownership over the books they read or that are read to them. By then, I’m hoping to have firmly rooted them in the power of taking authority over the information they receive, among other lessons. Hopefully, what they will come to recognize is that books are an expanded universe of their own and all they have to do is be brave enough to dive into it.
Is storytime important in your home? Comment with some of the ways you share books?
There were mistakes made in my launch. Here’s how I feel about them.
Alright, so you’ve seen my excitement about The Alpha’s Dream being released. It is heaven to see my work finally published and available to those who wanted it. I’ve been stalking my sales, and pages read through Kindle Unlimited almost hourly. Seriously. It’s to the point that my husband has put me on a schedule. He gets me, but he also knows I’m crazy. It’s true love.
Now that I’ve had a little time away, my feelings for my launch are finally sorting. Here comes the part where doing it all on my own takes its honest toll. I worked for months in writing of The Alpha’s Dream. It was originally only supposed to be a 20,000 word novella to open my career. I was nervous about attempting more.
In the end, Nathaniel and Euphoria took on a life of their own. They knew what they wanted, and their story. They desired depth and space to come to terms with the lives they were living through the pages. I was honored…am honored to have done that.
As with anyone, I realize there are limits to talent. So, even in my writing there were things I had to prepare for in order for my book to be a success. So, I made a plan.
I would write the book. I would then do a secondary edit of the book to fill plot holes and catch minor grammatical errors. I would then hand the book off to a great editor who would fine tune what was missed. They would return the book to me to make final adjustments.
It was a simple plan with modest expectations and nothing extravagant in terms of what other authors are doing.
I am prone to Murphy’s law. Everything that can go wrong will generally go wrong when it comes down to the wire.
My editor bailed. My secondary choice was great, but not as good. In the 25th hour I ended up doing a lot of it myself. I’m not an editor. I am a writer. It shows in my work.
As I proceeded to go through the work, I cleaned it up as much as I could and pressed forward. It would not be perfect. The flawless finish I wanted did not come. Editors, like authors, have very specific skills. I know my role well, and I know the limits of that role. What I offered was not the pristine product I’d hoped.
To further exacerbate my anxiety, the placeholder copy I used for the pre-order setup was even less perfect. It took several failed attempts to submit the first edition final version of The Alpha’s Dream. However, it was too late to prevent some of the pre-orders from receiving the completely unedited placeholder copy.
I was mortified.
My big launch, my debut to the world was marred by a completely jumbled amateur move. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Immediately, I went into recovery mode. I researched and reached out to those that I could about the copies they received and offered edited versions. I hoped for the best.
The feedback I’ve been getting for The Alpha’s Dream has been predominately positive. When I look at the reviews, I realize that I wasn’t the only one looking for books like I’ve chosen to write. It heightens my desire to create a great work. At this point, all of the Amazon reviews are glowing. The GoodReads ratings, not so much. I Love GoodReads. I love the people represented there are truly just there for the books. So even a two star rating ( at this point I have 2 two star ratings) has a significant purpose.
I see the complaints in my writing and the calls that there are grammatical errors still. It is embarrassing to work so hard and still have some prominent flaws. I sigh. I cringe. I know there is still more work to do. I’m up to the challenge.
In the coming weeks, as I prepare for even more changes in my personal life I will be looking for another editor to see if I can finally get it right. I want a flawless project and the second edition of The Alpha’s Dream should be that.
Overall, I am still in awe of this process. I’ve learned some hard lessons and have come to terms with my shortcomings. I take my work very seriously.
This isn’t a hobby anymore. It isn’t simply what I do to pay the bills, and when that work is complete it is my responsibility to make sure it is done right. I don’t take that lightly.
As I move forward, looking down the barrel of a new baby, second edition to The Alpha’s Dream, and plot future works I keep in mind that nothing is without hiccups. I love that The Alpha’s Dream is doing well. I hate that it isn’t perfect, but I am not intimidated about plucking away until I get it right.
What are you guys working on? Anything you’ve taken a second look at? Comment below.
I feel like I’ve just graduated into the big leagues. LOL.
For those of you who absolutely don’t know, GoodReads.com is a site connected to Amazon for readers. It’s sole purpose is about connecting authors, and readers to each other through books. Literally, every genre and subgenre is represented in an inviting way.
In addition to seeing the descriptions of The Alpha’s Dream, it is a great way for you connect with me. Ask me a question about my process or the book. Check out my bookshelves as I slowly fill them with things I’ve read or plan to read. You can even recommend books to me and keep me accountable to my 2017 reading goals. (I’m already 20 books behind, technically.)
I’ve finally added The Alpha’s Dream to Goodreads. It feels both strange and wonderful. The network itself is not complicated. It’s social media for book lovers. However, it is so fun to think about this huge network of readers who will stumble upon my book because of it’s presence on Goodreads.
If it is not clear, I love the process of publishing and seeing my work pop up in these often common book places. It brings a huge smile to my face. Book love is real. So, make your way to Goodreads and add me to your bookshelves. Follow my author page for even more updates!
I’m firmly on baby countdown time, but there are still a few things on my list for the month.
After finishing April off clear and my launch going pretty well, I’ve been thinking more about what the rest of the year looks like in my writing. As all of us know, we can only take one month, one week, one day at a time and so on. I’ve been trying to be realistic about what to expect from myself since my earlier goals seemed a bit loftier than I was able to accomplish.
My aim every month is to execute every goal that I express to all of you. It isn’t just for the surge of success from getting the work done. It is because I believe that one of the best ways to motivate each other is by sharing in success. With all of that being said, here are the things that I hope to accomplish during the month of May.
May Goal List:
-Focus on blog growth and promotion
-Begin a Shifter Short Series
-Continue Promotion of The Alpha’s Dream
-Have a healthy and happy baby
-Throw a wonderful birthday party for my oldest little
Just four short things on my list right now. The bulk of my energy will definitely be going to being a new mama all over again. Every time I give birth, I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. It’s the same awe, and sleeplessness that I had the first time. My goal list reflects this in my workload. I can’t stop being an author because I am a mama. I am both. They both need my energy and attention.
I will accomplish everything on this list and keep you updated. Keep your eyes peeled for my special delivery posts once baby is here. In the meantime, stay occupied by reading The Alpha’s Dream and signing up for my newsletter. Don’t forget to leave a review!