organization · Writing

On Doing Things Wrong as an Author

Let me preface this by saying this is not a how-to on how to fix your screw ups. This is a post about things I screwed up that I didn’t realize were even a problem until I did them [repeatedly].

There is no right or wrong way to do most things as an author, especially in regards to writing. There will always be people who are really into your niche genre or dying for this very specific type of character you’re writing, but on the business end of things, there are, let’s say, less desirable ways of doing things. Things that don’t benefit you/the writer or the reader/your audience.

How I F-ed Up My Newsletter

I am incredibly guilty of doing those less desirable things because I’m either a) tired or burnout b) didn’t know better c) didn’t want to bother anyone. I bolded and italicized the last one because not wanting to bother anyone has been a lifelong mode of operation that I probably need therapy for, but we will not get into that. The problem with that mindset is that you treat everything you do as a chore for others. I only send emails to my newsletter occasionally because I don’t want to bother them. Or I don’t want to advertise my book because I don’t want to bother people. This means I am treating the books that I love and spent hours and hours of my life working on as something unworthy of attention, and in the long-run, I am setting myself up for failure because people don’t know I have books or think I’m only reaching out to sell them something, which is not a great look.

So what I’ve been working on is creating a monthly newsletter that will cover the following things:

Join my monthly newsletter for: sneak peeks, freebies/deals, book recommendations, life updates, pet pics, and book research
The background is grey with teal writing and there are 2 bats flying behind the words.

If you join my monthly newsletter, I’ll share things I’m working on, some cool research (and let me tell you, writing historically set books, there is a lot and it is weird), pics of my dogs, and books that I’ve read and loved and think you’ll love, too. When you sign-up, you’ll also get a free prequel short story, and over the next few months, I plan to send out another free short to subscribers. After the initial thank you emails, you will get monthly emails, which will be sent out at the end of every month.

I decided to change this to a beefier, monthly email because I was doing a disservice to my readers/subscribers by “not bothering them” except when I had book updates, and when I thought harder about that, it felt wrong to only send messages when I published. You could just follow me on Amazon or Bookbub if you wanted that kind of bare bones update.

How I F-ed Up my Back Matter

The next giant thing I screwed up is not keeping up with fixing my back matter. Back matter is the about the author, also by the author, newsletter/social media links, etc. that are found at the back of your book. Between changing laptops several times since 2014, switching writing programs, and just being overwhelmed at the prospect of going through like 10 Word docs, I put off updating all of these things for YEARS. This means that my first book had an “also by” list that only went up to like book four of the series. I facepalmed hard when I realized I hadn’t updated my back matter since 2017.

Something I would also recommend other authors doing is going back and formatting their docs, so the chapter headers are in a heading style and the body text is one uniform style. This makes it easier for the Kindle and eReader software to convert your book to something that makes sense. Guess who went back and properly formatted all 10 documents? And I was shocked to find that once I got going, it took significantly less time than I expected. I was able to do all of them over the course of a week and reuploaded the new files to my distributors. Amazon/KDP also has a new bit of free software called Kindle Create that is a lot like Vellum or, if you’ve used D2D, their autogenerated software, which will break your book into chapters and add pretty flourishes if you’re so inclined. Once again, very easy, highly recommend to make your books look spiffy.

If you’re an author, this is your sign to fix your back matter and formatting as it won’t take you nearly as long as you think once you finish the first book.

How I Forgot to Publish an Entire Box Set

The last thing I did to get my work back into shape is to add a new box set for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. A while ago, I made a box set for books 1-3, which is 20% off the cost of buying the books individually, but I thought I’d wait until a year after book 6 came out before I made the next box set. Well, then I got overwhelmed with life and then enough time passed that I forgot. A couple weeks ago, I reached out to my cover designer (Lou Harper at Cover Affairs), made the file, and got it all listed, so if you’re interested in getting a box set of books 4-6 for 25% off buying the books individually, now you can. Both sets are available on all major retailers, BUT I had a little hiccup with Apple Books and Kobo. They have the set as a preorder that releases January 29th. I’ve reached out to fix it with no answer, but the 29th isn’t that far away, so if it doesn’t get fixed immediately, you will get your books by the end of the month.

TL;DR

If you’re an author, research best practices instead of assuming you’re being annoying because you could be in a totally different way than you though.

You may also want to join my monthly newsletter as it starts up in earnest this month.

If you’re an author, fix your back matter and formatting.

Check out my latest release, which is a box set of books 4-6 in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series for 25% off the cost of the books individually.


Let me know in the comments what kinds of things you like to see in author newsletters!

Personal Life · Writing

The Steampunk World’s Fair

On Friday, I attended the Steampunk World’s Fair for the first time and gave my first reading outside of the university.  The SPWF was a blast. It was like stepping into an alternate reality. There were fantastic costumes everywhere, leather, brocade, rainbows, tulle. Women in corsets, men in waistcoats and gauntlets. The gamete ran from highly realistic to fantastical, and I don’t think there was a bad one in the bunch. Along with the fair-goers, there were also bands, panels (I attended a fantastic one about Edgar Allan Poe, which makes me really want to go to the Poe Museum), and shops.  My boyfriend and I stopped at the haberdashery, and I finally got a pith helmet.  What I find funny is that I always wanted a white pith helmet, and it turns out that the white ones are from the Anglo-Zulu War, which is mentioned in The Earl of Brass.

pithI ended up not getting too decked out this year. I went as a hybrid between modern and Victorian instead of all steampunk because, as the Awkward Authoress, I was afraid being in a full, rather uncomfortable costume would set my anxiety off. It’s amazing how clothing choice can aggravate anxiety. Instead I wore my corset, black pants, and a biker jacket. Probably a bit more cyberpunk than steampunk, but I was comfortable in my own skin and actually enjoyed myself.

My reading itself went a little less smoothly. I ended up being scheduled at midnight as one of the last events of the night, and by then, most of the fair-goers had cleared out apart from the night-owls and revelers. It made me wonder if I screwed up AM/PM on my sign-up papers. Either way, I wasn’t expecting a crowd since I’m a brand new author with a small following. I knew three people were coming for sure, but I was quite pleased to see a few more come.  The weirdest part was that my anxiety really wasn’t too bad. I made myself a little outline of what I wanted to cover before I gave my reading, and while I didn’t have a podium, my audience was very attentive and forgiving of the late hour. Then, it got weird.

What I can only describe as a New Orleans style band marched past my door followed by a parade of revelers from the courtyard. I could feel myself beginning to sputter. The band was so loud that I had to stop and wait for them to pass and ended up losing my place. Of course my stress level jumped, and I was embarrassed that I had to stop my entire program for a few minutes. Then, I said to myself, “Would it be better to pretend the band wasn’t there and shout over them?” No, it wouldn’t have worked anyway. As my aunt said when I told her, this would only happen to me. If something weird is going to happen, it’s probably to me, and a brass band marching through during my reading was not something I anticipated. Oh well.

The best part of the night was that a reader vacationing from Canada came to the fair and attended my reading. I knew she was coming since we message back and forth on Facebook, and she brought me a bag of goodies from Canada. All of the nights woes and anxieties melted away. It didn’t matter that the band played over me because someone actually: A) cared enough to come B) wanted to hear me read C) brought me a present when she obviously did not have to. I’m eternally grateful to her because she was able to squelch all of my fears and regrets and ended my night on a high note. Thank you so much, Lois!

spwf goodiesEither way, if you ever want to do a reading or present somewhere, take a chance. Even if the night went a bit awry, it was worth it to get the experience under my belt.


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