Change of Scenery

Today my family is off to visit the Smokey Mountains for a few days.  Even if I wasn’t a nature-lover, I would be happy.  For three weeks, I’ve been stuck in my house.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed using the time to both write and catch up on my reading.  Still, I’m going a little crazy here.  Hopefully the change of scenery will be inspiring and spark my imagination!

Chapter 6: Marketing Strategies

This chapter is dedicated to the part of my character that you’ve yet to read about: my inner businesswoman.  I foreshadowed this event in an earlier post when I mentioned my major in Finance.  The degree required marketing classes, and as such I’ve come up with a list of suggestions for authors who choose the self-publishing route.  I should note these items are in no way guaranteed to work.

~ If a multi-book series, publish books about three months apart. This is when big websites greatly lower their advertisements of your book unless sales have done remarkably well.  Although it may take you longer to finish a novel, simply wait to publish the first until you feel comfortable that you’d complete the second in time and so on.

~ Once Book #2 sales decline past your personal desired level, donate only the first book to libraries. This will force them to buy your other books once they’ve fallen in love with your series.
* Choose cities you donate to based on the population demographic (look for your books’ target group)
* You can add more books to the library once

~ Optimal dates to sell eBook by genre:
* January-April: Romance, Self-help, Business books, Cookery
* May-August: Adventure, Fantasy, Travel
* September-November: Academic, Horror, Paranormal
* December-January: Children, Cookery, Illustrated, Quiz, Dictionaries and quirky fun books [1]

~ Every three books, offer a deal for set.
* Example: You’re selling each book for $2.99. Sales are starting to steadily
decline for Book #3.  Offer Books #1-#3 for $4.99.
* Example: You’re selling each book for $2.99.  Sales are starting to steadily
decline for Book #6.  Offer Books #4-#6 for $4.99.

~ Use every avenue to promote Publishing Date. Examples:
* Twitter
^ use trending hashtags and relate to your story
^ create unique hashtag and try to get it trending
* Facebook
* Instagram

~ Reach out to freelance book reviewers. The standard is that you give them a free copy for an unbiased review.
* Continue going back to the same reviewers each book. Build a
professional relationship with them.  They might eventually let your books
“cut lines” when you reach out to them.

~ Listen to feedback.  If your readers tweet or ask a lot about a certain character or pairing, take note. Use that popularity and see if you can create a standalone about them.
* Do not sacrifice quality to try to force a sale. This will only anger your
readers, especially since it was one of their favorite characters you just
ruined, and you may lose loyal regular buyers.

~ Create and/or utilize website. Your author persona should already have one of these, so now use it.  Post about the books.  Ask your followers questions.  Give them something to interact with where possible.
* Subscribers List. Once they sign up, you’ve got them trapped for any news that you feel is relevant about the series!

~ Hold fan art contest about book’s characters. Offer appropriate monetary rewards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
     * Utilize social media to promote

~ Post a serial/short stories on your website in the same world/universe as your series. Again, do not sacrifice quality.


[1] Rooney, Mich. “Reaching Readers: Best Timing for Book Launches.”  SelfPublishing Advice Center.  N.p., 22 Nov. 2014. Web. 31 May 2017.

Chapter 3: Me Vs. Them

We’ve all heard it.  “Oh, you’re an artist?  Draw me.”  “You’re a singer?  Sing something?”  “You’re an author?  Make me a character in your book.”  If I’m being honest, the closest I can offer is killing a character that reminds me of you.  (That sounds quite graphic, but if you’re an author, chances are you understand.)  Then, there’s the somehow even more popular one to hear: is the main character based on me?

Now, I think it’s safe that George R. R. Martin is not quite as murderous as his set of characters, and as far as I know he doesn’t have ambitions to claim any thrones.  Nor can J. K. Rowling relate to the “Chosen One,” and I sincerely doubt she has the stomach of Ron.  However, I would be rather big-headed if I compared myself to the king and queen of modern literature.

So, what do I do?  I take a part of myself and morph it into its own person.  For the book I finished last year, I had four main characters.  Their names will mean nothing to you now, but for the sake of clarity, their names are Logan, Abigail, Trevor, and Makenna.  I have Logan’s sense of always wanting to do what’s right, Abigail’s need to always be right and be the smartest in the room, Trevor’s dorky awkwardness, and Makenna’s inability to completely open up to anyone.  I started from there, and then worked towards creating them into their own three-dimensional characters.  However, that’s as close as it gets.

Otherwise, I have to take the time to get to know my characters like in any relationship.  They’re as real to me as anyone else.  There’re characters I naturally click with, and then there’s one who I have to put in effort to open up to me.  A good portion of the time, when I have writer’s block, it’s because one of my characters is being difficult.  I need the plot to go a certain way, but they’re not reacting how I want them to.  Some people might say, “You’re the author.  They’ll do whatever you tell them to do.”  But, they won’t.  That’s the start of a very poorly written novel.

Something I struggle with is the male perspective.  They’re like a whole different species to me.  I understand them as much as I understand quantum physics, or in other words not at all.  All I have is observations I’ve made throughout my lifetime.  I don’t really think my male characters are girlie or anything, but I always feel like I don’t make them as strong as they could be.  As a feminist, I believe in equality.  But, that means that I want all of my characters to be strong – not just the females.  (With that said, you will not find a single of my works without a strong female lead.)  Whenever I want to develop them more, I’m always hesitant.  Do their minds work anything like ours?  Hell if I know.

I’ve an entire world in my head – multiple actually, thanks to a long history of unpublished work.  They’re worlds that I want to share with this one.   However, anyone I share it with can never see it quite like I do.  It’s basically like they’re looking through a window that hasn’t been washed; they can see enough to connect some dots but everything’s still a little blurred.

So, no.  I’m not my characters, and they aren’t me. I’m merely the person in between, trying to make the window that much cleaner.  Maybe one day I’ll even be talented enough to open the door.

Prologue: Introductions and Inspirations

All stories have a beginning, middle, and end. As such, I’d like this blog to have the same. It seems rather logical, but the only problem is this is the story of my life; and as such, I’m only a character within a far too complicated plot – not the author. I have no idea what to point out as significant, or what details to put emphasis on as a foreshadowing of the future. Instead I’ll simply say it as I see it.

It’s only polite to introduce myself. My name’s J. E. Brand, and what those two letters stand for is a secret for only me to know. I’m in my last year at college – a full-time student trying to balance a part-time job and writing. I’ve never been the best at juggling, and it shows in the slowness of my writing. Slow but steady wins the race, I’d like to think.

My major has nothing to do with my creative passion. I’m getting my Bachelor of Science in Finance with minors in Mathematics and Education. Why? Because, aside from being a geek, I also pride myself on being a nerd. (Yes, they’re different.) I can’t quite explain what it is about the stock market that really gets my adrenaline pumping.

Why am I writing this blog? It seems to me that we only hear about failure in hindsight. “I was rejected by hundreds of agents but now I’m a full-time author living financially stable.” It’s easy to look at those moments after you’ve succeeded in your dreams, but while living them out you go through a whirlpool of emotions. This journal will be dedicated to embodying such, so that my fellow struggling authors realize that we’re not alone.

Me? I finished my first novel last year. It was rejected by nineteen agents altogether before I decided to move onto another story series. I know that number might seem rather low to some, but every single one felt like a bullet straight to the heart. I’ve completed five short stories since then, and each of them has been sent back to me with an email that begins with “Thank you for submitting ‘So and So.’ Unfortunately…” It’s all rather discouraging, but luckily I’ve a support system unparalleled by many.

First, there’s my sister: Kristen Brand. She’s an Indie author (Links to her books are below! I simply must recommend them, as is my sisterly duty. If you have ad blocker off, you might need to enable it. I promise Amazon links are the only ads you'll see.) and taught me most of what I know. I still remember the days when she was in high school, and I was in elementary school. I would beg to read her stories while I was attempting to be just like her and write something that at least vaguely could be called a story. I never could write past twenty pages before I moved onto the next plot. Now, I give her all of my stories to read, and she returns them with edits that help me give them depth, magical scenery, and basically just completely transform them into something I can be proud of.

Then, there’s my best friend Nick. He’s just an overflow of support. Whenever I doubt my abilities, he’s my own personal cheerleader. A day doesn’t go by where he doesn’t ask about my progress or characters. Whenever I’m excited about a new development, he listens with genuine intrigue and asks an overflow of questions showcasing his interest. Not only does that get my creative juices flowing, but it lets me know at least I have one person rooting for me (two if you count my sister).

I’m going to combine my final two mentions into one paragraph: Kaitlyn Lunceford and Niki Potosky. Why do I use their full names and why are they lumped together? Because, aside from being close friends, they’re also my professional co-workers that I want to brag on. You have Kaitlyn to thank for this beautiful website layout and whatnot. As for Niki, you haven’t seen what she can do yet. Soon to be added this site will be an upcoming comic book, and she’s the master behind the beautiful art. She takes my words and turns them into epic-ness, to say the least. You’ll see more of that in time! Yes, that’s your cue to get really excited.

So, I suppose my first suggestion to all of you struggling authors such as my self is this: find people who support your dream and surround yourself with their uplifting energy. When the world is only feeding you rejection and misery, it’s nice to have a sibling or friend that you can sip a cup of tea with while they remind you that you’re awesome. What’s the best way to make sure you’re not annoying them with your constant mentions of the fictional characters that dwell in your imagination? Support their dreams, too. It becomes a web of positivity, and then you and the people you care about are able to fight the odds and not give up.