Farewell: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my departure from the Naughty Quills blog. Oh, don’t get me wrong. My quill is always gonna be more than a little naughty, but I just won’t be blogging with you on Fridays any longer.

I feel as though the well has run dry for me, as far as useful writing advice goes. I don’t know what else I have to teach you, because.. (and I think I can speak for all of us when I say) we all just stumble through this whole author thing the best we can. That’s why I’ll be passing the mantle on to the absolutely delightful Jules Dixon!  I’m sure she’ll have a ton of fantastic insight and I hope that you learn so much from her.

I’ll still be writing and pimping my books on social media, so don’t be a stranger. Feel free to say hello!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

Horizons: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

Well hey there! I’m back! And with writing advice as promised.

The past year has been pretty chaotic in a lot of ways. The one that’s hitting home the most at the moment is work. I went from part-time seasonal help at a local retail store to management to taking over the customer service role for the entire chain of stores. It’s been a bit of a whirl wind.

Customer service has been a big part of pretty much every job I’ve ever had. Stepping into that part of the role has been relatively seamless. I’m managing things well and nothing has burned to the ground on my watch. Let’s call that a success.

Also, as part of this role, I’ve taken over some additional administrative responsibilities for the senior officers at the company. Sometimes I get thrown for a loop by the small stuff. I’ve never really had to do it, so it’s been enlightening. I’ve learned things. I’ve grown as a person. It’s been hit home for me that even the smallest experiences have value.

And this brings me around to my actual writing related point. Letting yourself get caught in a rut can be fatal. It can result in a couple of different things:

A: Your dialog and sex scenes become ‘by wrote’.. Tab A goes into Slot B. Rinse, repeat. As a reader, nothing disgusts me more than a sex scene by an author that could have literally been from any of their books.

What I mean is… if I can’t pick up on the chemistry between the two (or more) characters in the scene… or if it feels phoned in like a passage of a book I’ve read before, I have to wonder why I paid good money for something that was clearly a throw-away to the author.

B: You bleed the well of dominant biker werewolf alphas their virgin secretaries dry. I get it. You may be into that, but … the same book over and over isn’t nearly as fun to read as you’d think.

In the spirit of this, I’m going to try my hand at a M/M book. Wish me luck. *squeal*  It’s way outside of my comfort zone, but I’m finding that maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

Anyway, I hope that my rambles have given you food for thought about your own work. I encourage you to start a project that maybe you wouldn’t normally undertake. You never know what you’re capable of until try.

Til next week!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

Putting in into perspective.. Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth, @mroth_author

On the heels of the absolutely stunning announcement by All Romance announcing its closure (in three days hence), I’m going to lay down some cold, hard truth about the industry.

This is not a job you do because you love the stability. This isn’t something you do if you’re into job security. You won’t do this so you can have long standing relationships with business who want to sell your wares for a fair price.

The market isn’t stable. Genres and tropes fall in and out of popularity so fast your head will spin. The money isn’t steady, and it’s usually paid quarterly. The companies you do business with will disappear like so much dust in the wind after a bad year… (and they’ll do UTTER BULLSHIT like offering you 10 cents on the dollar for the already shitty money that they’re now unable to pay you. All Romance. Looking right at you, dickheads.)

You do this job at your own risk. You do it because you can’t imagine not seeing the stories scroll through your mind. You do it because you’re compelled to get these thoughts and ideas on the page, no matter the time of day. You don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it because you’ll be the next Nora Roberts. You do it because you love it and can’t picture your life without it.

Until next time, my lovelies!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

The Art of the Giveaway: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

Well hey there! Welcome back to another Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth. It seems like it’s been ages, but… nope. Only a week 😉

So now that we’re done with the whole “What’s Next” thing, I thought I’d talk a bit today about marketing yourself through giveaways. Because we do that, ya know. We have to market ourselves. You’re the sole representative of your own personal brand. (As annoyingly pretentious as that sounds.)

First, let’s talk about the type of giveaway that you’re planning. I’ve seen authors do blog hops, rafflecopters, and Facebook parties, mostly. While all of them are successful at generating traffic.. because, hey. Who doesn’t want to get free shit, right?

Not all of these are successful in getting people to take an interest in your work. You’re giving them stuff, and they might win it.. but is there anything you’re offering them beyond a chance to win something they don’t already have. If they win this thing, will they bother investing in you by buying your books in the future?

Sad to say, but … probably not without some other reason for doing it. I’ve found that most people who attend these giveaways not only want your free stuff but want to know you. They want to feel like they’re a part of your secret author world. You do an interesting thing and people want to know more about it. They want to know where you get your ideas, who your sexy inspirations are and how your mind works. Giving away a purse or a blanket or free books or whatever isn’t the important part.

Live chat tends to work best. That’s why I feel like Facebook parties are so successful. You get a random group of authors together, split the time up however you’d like, and then talk to people. Do a couple of contests. Let people who you don’t otherwise talk to, talk to you. It’s great for exposure and usually pretty fun.

Blog contests are really one sided. Sure, people comment.. but essentially you spew words about whatever you’re talking about until you’re done. There’s not a huge draw for people to interact unless they either feel obligated by some rule you’re put on the contest or you’ve said something really, really profound that touches them. Both can happen but one happens more than the other. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Rafflecopter is a cool little contest platform, but you’re not delivering a message with them, you’re not sharing about yourself. You’re not engaging people. You’re giving them tasks to do in order to win your free shit. You can embed these on your Facebook page and all, but … I feel like you’re not adding enough value to make the free item you just gave away worth it.

I guess what I’m saying is that every contest or giveaway you run shouldn’t just be about you giving a thing away. It should be about sharing yourself in a way that makes people want to approach. Sure they may win the thing, but they should also leave feeling like even if they didn’t win that they didn’t waste a ton of time entering.

I’ll stop waxing poetic about this. Till next time!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

OMFG. It’s release day: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

Welcome back to our last installment of “What’s next?” with me.. your absolutely delightful host, Michelle Roth. I’ll be talking about…. release day!

You’ve written the book. You’ve been through so many edits that you can barely function. You’ve got your cover. You’ve got your marketing materials. Now… it’s release day! The hard part is over, yes?

No.

It turns out that the work is just beginning. Most small publishing houses don’t offer you a whole lot of marketing support, so if you’ve gone that route (or even self published) it’s important to know that you’re now the official marketing team for your books.

Facebook: Share links to your books, snippets, sexy inspiration photos. Get people hyped about what you’ve written so when release day comes around, you’ve only got to remind them.. “HEY PPL BUY THIS”.

Twitter: People like their information in small snippets. Post a tag line for your book, an image, and a link to your work.

Example:

(insert sexy vampire photo here)

Real vamps don’t glitter…Name of book by Name of author  http:bit.ly.url

Yep. It’s that easy

Blogs:  Make friends with authors. Set a group up with your publisher and other independent authors. Get them to share your book release info. Reciprocate. Their audience may not know you.

Use services like Triberr where you can get shared by an entire group.

-=-=-=

I wish there was a fool proof way to sell books but it’s a combination of talent, luck, and getting seen by the right people. These are just a few small tips for you, but there are a ton of other options out there. Quills?  What have you found that works?

XOXOX,

Michelle

Marketing Materials: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth

OMG HI! You’re back! Thanks for stopping in to this week’s installment of “What’s Next?” I’ll be your host, Michelle Roth. Today we’ll be talking about… Marketing materials!

So you’ve submitted your book, signed your contract, tackled some edits, and now… you’ve gotten your beloved cover back. It’s time to start promoting your book. We’ve all pretty much beaten that dead horse a million times, but I thought that I’d tackle something a little bit different today. What every graphic ad that you use should contain:

  1. Title of your book, if not a picture of the cover.

guardian_cover

2. Your back cover blurb or an excerpt in a CLEAR and LEGIBLE font.

3. A CLICKABLE link in the text of the accompanying promotion. Listing links you can’t click on is pretty much useless.

jaysons_excerpt_cover_light

Sample Text telling you what the book is about in 50 words or less followed by:

Evernight: URL URL URL URL
Amazon: URL URL URL URL

I’ve been doing my own graphics over the last little while, so as I practiced, I got to the point where I was able to see what combinations go well together, what kind of fonts hurt the eyes, etc. Admittedly, my early stuff was pretty atrocious. My best advice with regards to promotional pieces? Simple is best, and.. if you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone.

I hope this gives you a place to start with your own pieces! Till next week!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth

Today’s ramble was supposed to be about promotional pieces and the like, but with this being the day after Thanksgiving for the majority of my family and friends, I’d like to talk a little bit about being thankful and how it applies to us as writers.

189242

We’ve all got lives outside of this writing gig that we’re trying to get into/stay in/succeed at/etc.  We have work, friends, and families. We’re often required to make tough choices. Do we spend the evening hanging out with hubby on the couch or do we crank through another chapter? Do we cuddle the cat that’s pacing on the desk in front of the keyboard on the desk, or do we keep working on those cursed edits? Do you go out with your friends and drink copious amounts of wine?

Anyone who has any level of seriousness has asked themselves one of those questions or one very similar to that. We make tough calls, and sometimes.. the book wins. We don’t have a million hours in the day so some things fall by the wayside.

In this season of thankfulness, with more holidays right around the corner… I thought I might remind you to be thankful. Your husband loves you and supports your craft. Your cat will want to cuddle in an hour when you’re through.. and your friends think it’s completely badass that you’re writing a book!

Thank them for it. ❤

Happy Holidays to one and all!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

Edits: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

Welcome back to my “What’s Next” series. Today we’ll be tackling edits. .. So here we are. You’ve written the book, edited the book, farmed it out to various betas, submitted the book. Hell, you’ve signed your contract and even started on the cover work. So all that leaves is… the dreaded edits.

But really, they’re not a thing to dread. Sure, someone will be picking apart your baby, but only in the interest of making it better. Usually, that falls under two umbrellas.

Developmental edits, which go over your story line to make sure that it makes sense, is consistent, and really strikes a chord with the readers. You’ll typically see comments in the margin of your document about these, highlighted paragraphs, or overall suggestions at the beginning of certain sections.

Listen to them. Read them. Don’t freak out. Take a couple of days to think about them. Though you might be stuck with a ton of rewriting to do, in almost every case it will add something to your story that was MISSING.

Next, line edits. These are grammar and punctuation edits, corrections of overused words, etc. These make the book readable. I will admit, I typically accept all of these. My punctuation is shit and I have tons of crutch words that I try to weed out of my books only to find that I’ve developed another.

Feel free to debate a certain point with your editor if you feel strongly about it, but overall, they almost always know better. There will be certain instances where, in the middle of a fight scene, the editor wants to talk about a cat that made a small cameo at one point, and … maybe it breaks up the continuity of the scene. (This totally happened to a friend of mine). It’s your right as an author to stick to your guns if you really believe there’s an issue with a suggestion.

However… and this is a big however. Your publisher often has the final say. So, if you have an issue with an edit, be polite. You can be honest, but don’t be a dick. It may impact your future contracts. Just sayin’.

Once you’ve edited, take final read through. Out loud if you can. It will help you to catch small errors that your brain just automagically corrects as you go along. This might be the last chance to polish your baby. Take every opportunity to make it great!

Next week I’ll talk about promotional pieces!

XOXOX,

Michelle

Cover Art Questionnaire: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

Freaky Friday

Oh, hello! It’s Michelle Roth again. Today I’ll be continuing my “What’s Next” series by talking about… the cover art questionnaire!

In my experience, this is actually the one of the most difficult parts about the process. You’ll be asked a few standard questions:

  • What does your hero look like?
  • What does your heroine (or other hero) look like?
  • Do you have a third you need to describe (in menage a trois, quatre, etc)?
  • Are there any scenes that stand out in your book? (A zoo, a park, the beach, the city, the country?)
  • What descriptors or “fair warnings” would you give your book? (MM, MF, BDSM, Menage, May-December – as examples)
  • What do you picture on the cover of your book?

These look like some pretty standard questions, right? What does everyone look like? What’s your image for the book cover? But these are hugely important.

The majority of us readers are usually more interested in substance vs. shiny packaging, but I can tell you first hand. COVERS DO MATTER! When someone is choosing whether to invest in your work, it’s the first impression. A cover that is poorly put together, that doesn’t really give any sort of indication as to what your book is about is much less likely to make someone pick it up and read the blurb.

Next time we’ll tackle what to do with your 1st edits. See you next week!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth

 

Tuesday Thoughts with… Michelle Roth? Wait a minute!

Hey there. It’s Michelle Roth, stepping in for the lovely Doris O’Connor today on this Tuesday Thoughts. I really drop some knowledge on you guys since I’ve got some rather large shoes to fill this week! I thought I’d start my ‘What’s Next’ series.

Vin Diesel in Riddick after he kills the Lord Marshall in Chronicles of Riddick. Yes, I know this is a direct rip off of a Conan scene, but.. I couldn't find a good screen cap of that, so sue me.

Vin Diesel in Riddick after he kills the Lord Marshall in Chronicles of Riddick. Yes, I know this is a direct rip off of a Conan scene, but.. I couldn’t find a good screen cap of that, so sue me.

You’ve written your novel. You’ve edited it copiously. Your betas have no more feedback to give, you’ve polished it within an inch of its life. You subbed it to a publisher and they’ve said yes! Congrats! But the work isn’t nearly done.

Now, let’s talk a bit about what comes next… THE CONTRACT!

In my experience, you’ll typically get a the contract a day or three after your work is initially accepted. This happens via electronic delivery. The bigger publishers might send you hard copies, but.. in the small press world, it’s almost always electronic.

Read the contract. Review it. Make sure that you understand it. None of my publishers have been unscrupulous, BUT… they do exist. I know of one that stopped paying their authors on time and then said they were able to do it based on the verbiage of the contract.

contract-types-id-100349132_freedigital

Don’t let this be you. Seriously. Look at the payment schedule. If it’s not spelled out that you receive specific amounts of royalties from specific sources within specific time frames, that’s a red flag. Ask for clarification. In writing.

There will be a contract period.. Five years, three years, etc. All facets of the contract will be in force during this period. Don’t get roped into a 20 year contract, a lifetime contract, etc. If you’re unhappy with the publisher, then you’re stuck. If the contract renews on a month to month basis after a certain period of time, figure out how to opt out of that before you sign.

Make sure that any rights that are not explicitly granted to the publisher are granted to YOU, the author. It should be in writing. If the contract doesn’t specify, you can translate your book to other languages. You can make your book into an audio book. Seeing dollar signs yet?

The publisher will usually grant promotional copies for the author. Some publishers also provide unlimited electronic copies for review. Read this section of your contract carefully. You’ll be promoting your own work, and it’s important to know your rights as the author.

keep-calm-and-know-your-rights-4

Most of the time there will be an “first right of refusal” option for future works in your series. That means if they say no, you may take your work elsewhere or self pub. This is important because if you are unhappy with your publisher after book one, you’ll be stuck with them unless they drop that series.

Insolvency. There should be clause about this that states that rights revert to you in the event of insolvency. If there isn’t, run far and fast.

Sale of publisher. If your publisher gets sold.. which happens often in this business, it’s best to have a clause that either states that the new company will fulfill the promises of the old one or revert your rights back to you within a specified amount of time.. (Say 60 days?) If they don’t, then you might be in limbo.

sold-stamp-750xx1200-675-0-63

There should be a clause that states that the publisher will publish your work within a certain period of time. That way, they can’t keep you in limbo for 5 years.

Every part of your contract will be important. I tried to pick the things that were URGENTLY important. Be sure that you’re picking yours apart. You’re signing a binding agreement.

bound-by-the-rules

When I’m back on Friday, I’ll be discussing the back cover blurbs, cover art questionnaires, and the like. See you then!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth