Imposter Syndrome, A Snarly Dog

Imposter Syndrome is a Snarly Dog. I decided it was time to write about this, after mentoring one of my author friends on Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt. I realized this is something we don’t talk about enough. If we did, writers would not view it as unique or unexpected when it happens to them.

Mention Imposter Syndrome in a room full of authors and ask them to raise their hands if they have ever encountered it and you will see almost every hand go up. It is as common as typing THE END. Think about that for a minute. Let this sink in – Imposter Syndrome is so common to writers, that almost everyone has experienced it at one time or another. I don’t know any authors who haven’t experienced it and it’s been ten years since my first novel was published and I’ve been in author circles for over twenty years. Imposter Syndrome is universal and seems to be part of the author’s journey.

I like to picture these doubts as snarling dogs, because that’s what they do. They ask the question who do you think you are? And it’s always with that snarl.

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I like to say Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all out alpha on it to show it who the alpha is.

Imposter Syndrome is a form of self-doubt and is fear based. Fear of being judged as an author, fear of having your book judged, fear of being found wanting, fear of someone saying – who do you think you are to write that book? You may experience one of these or another from the same snarling dog family.

You may experience this snarly dog with your first book or your twentieth. When writing, you may experience it halfway through, in those moments when you think the good pages you wrote yesterday which you thought were such good pages now totally suck and the whole book totally sucks so much you’d like to shred it, burn it or delete it. That one is a very nasty snarly dog. You can’t let it win. You may experience a snarly dog after hitting the bestseller lists multiple times; with readers saying they love your books. Some writers experience it on book release day and don’t feel like celebrating, because that snarly dog is winning. You may experience it when being asked to read from your work or when asked to speak or to be in an interview or on a panel. So, what can you do about a snarly dog?

First, know they can pop up at any time and be ready to face one. Acknowledge it and face it. No hiding in your house, or cancelling or destroying pages. No posting all over social media, wallowing in it and being a victim of it. Tell an author friend or mentor privately if you need to talk about it, but then face that snarly dog.

Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all alpha on it to show it who the alpha is. Your words and your voice and your stories have value. When it snarls, say out loud, “I am (your full name) and my words have value. My book has value and people want to read it.”

There is power in “I am” statements. Great power.

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Now go write your awesome books, never let the snarly dogs win, and boost and encourage your fellow creative friends. I’m fine with you quoting me and hope this article helps.

To learn more about Debra Parmley and her books, or for her writing classes check out:

Website www.debraparmley.com

Facebook personal https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debraparmley/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

Writing Blog https://beautifuldaytraveler.wordpress.com/

Debra’s poems on https://ko-fi.com/debraparmley

 

Celebrating Ten Years as a Published Author and a New Box Set

I am celebrating! This year marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of my first novel in print, A Desperate Journey.

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This is me, holding the first copy of my first book, A Desperate Journey, which came out in March 2009. – Photo by Monica Parks. This was the original book cover.

My western historical romances have been described as “gritty.” The west could be a rough place for a woman, or a man, and I started out writing my first novel, A Desperate Journey, as a western. It started with a challenge. I was attending the Ozark Creative Writers weekend and Dusty Richards, a well-known western author, issued this challenge. “Write your first novel, make it a western and if it wins my contest, my agent will read the full manuscript.” I’d been writing short stories and poetry up to that point, never a full novel and that challenge was too good to pass up.

I sometimes will take a challenge or a bet and when I do, it can be life changing. For instance, I asked my husband out on a date, on a five-dollar bet, back in high school, but that is a story for another day.

Well I wrote that western, set it along the old Chisholm Trail in 1867, and along the way, as I wrote, the story turned into a romance. A Desperate Journey is a blend of romance and western. If you pulled the romance out, there would still be a lot of story. It’s interesting to me that men enjoy reading the story and I think that is one reason.

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This is the new book cover.

Now you might wonder what happened with Dusty’s challenge and the contest. I finished the book by the following year and entered it in the contest. By then Dusty no longer had an agent, but he sat with me and went over the first chapters, giving me advice. I will always be thankful for his advice and his challenge. I revised the book and entered it the next year in a contest that western romance author Bobbi Smith held at the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention in St. Louis, where it won third place. Bobbi sat with me afterward and said, “Debra start your story in chapter three.” (I was giving too much back story and not getting to the action soon enough.) I rewrote the story and the next year entered it in the American Title II contest, where it was a finalist. During that contest I signed with an agent and a year later he sold my first book to Samhain Publishing. A Desperate Journey would be in e-book in 2018 and 6 months later be in print in March 2019.

After Samhain published A Desperate Journey, my editor invited me to write a novella. Another western historical romance for a new anthology to follow the first book was a good idea and to meet that call, I wrote Dangerous Ties. This one starts out with the heroine strung up over a mineshaft and the rope is breaking. I’d paid attention to my mentors and started my next story with action. Jumping right in. I thought this would be the first of many westerns with my publisher. But then my new editor turned it down and wanted me to write erotic romance instead. A third book, a contemporary romance I’d written right after I finished A Desperate Journey was turned down next. In the seven years I was with Samhain, I had five editors, but later editors were not as enthusiastic abut my work as my first two, who I’d enjoyed working with.

Dangerous Ties went on to be published by a different publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing. But now, writing a third book to connect the two books was going to be impossible. Because different publishing houses held the rights to the two books. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have those rights back, and to have republished both books through Belo Dia Publishing Inc. It has also enabled me to be able to publish a third book to tie them all together. My readers deserve that and it’s exciting to be able to do it the same year I am celebrating of ten years of publishing.

I am celebrating the tenth anniversary with the release of a box set of the three westerns. A new book, Deadly Adversaries brings together the daughter from A Desperate Journey and a son of the couple from Dangerous Ties. The box set, Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection is available now on Amazon.

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Dangerous Ties is also on sale for 99 cents for the e-book up through June 15th. That’s the breaking rope after the mineshaft one, if you just want a nibble of one of my westerns to see if you like them. It’s a quick novella. It is also available in audiobook and in print.

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Deadly Adversaries, the newest of the three westerns is up for pre-order and releases Tuesday May 7th.

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I hope you will join me in celebrating my tenth year. To my readers, thank you for your support and for your love. It has been a wonderful ten years and I look forward to many more and can’t wait to share new books with you.

Over on my Debra’s Beautiful Day YouTube channel you will find my First Chapter Reads playlist where I read from the first chapters of my books, and I have many other things there as well. I am always adding new content there. You’ll find the link to that site and many more below.

Check out my books on these book sales pages and read a sample:

Debra’s books on Amazon

Debra’s books on Barnes and Noble

Debra’s Audiobooks on Audible

Debra’s ebooks and audiobooks on itunes

Debra’s books on Kobo

Debra on the web:  www.debraparmley.com

And on social media:

Facebook fan page

Facebook group

Facebook personal page

Goodreads page

Debra on Instagram

Debra on Pinterest

Debra’s Cover Model Corner blog – interviews

Debra Parmley’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel

Debra Parmley on Book Bub

Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

Here is what goes into the making of an audiobook if you go through ACX.

First you’ll need to set up your account. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay a flat fee for the narrator, or if you are going to do a 50/50 royalty split. If hiring a SAG narrator, the minimum is $100 per finished hour with a 50/50 split. This was the option I chose for my first two audiobooks, Check Out, and Trapping the Butterfly. I hired professional SAG narrators to do my first two audiobooks.

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You also have to decide whether to go exclusive through ACX or non-exclusive. With exclusive your audiobooks are available through Audible, Amazon and iBooks. A non-exclusive contract allows you to distribute your audiobooks through any vendor you choose.

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I chose to go non-exclusive for my second two audiobooks, Dangerous Ties, and Aboard the Wishing Star, and I hired a narrator who is also a musician who could  add music to the audiobooks, which I felt was a nice touch. He charged a flat fee with no royalty split and he can advise me on putting the books onto CD’s or other media so I can sell them at book signings. The options are wide open.

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The process of listening carefully to each tape which is sent, chapter by chapter and making sure the audio matches the words on the page is a slow and time consuming one. It is also a slow process for your narrator to narrate the book. Then when everything is done for the narration, you will need an audiobook cover, so that can be an additional expense if your cover artist charges extra for that form which is a square and changes your cover some.

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So you have your audiobook done and now it’s time to promote it. ACX will give you 25 free download codes to send to reviewers. But be careful how you use them as those codes can be used for any audiobook in the store, not just yours. In the wrong hands and you won’t even see any reviews. Vet your reviewers.

Things were going well, I had the new audiobooks finished and out there, sales were coming in slowly, reviews were coming in, and then Audible came out with their romance package. Similar to Kindle Unlimited, this allows readers/listeners to listen to audiobooks if they pay for the romance package. Instead of royalties on a sale, authors would get paid when the books were listened to.

Neither KU or this romance package are in favor of authors, if you look closely at them. This is akin to …let’s say, you are a peach seller, selling cans of peaches. But you only get paid when someone opens the can and eats them. Cans of peaches can sit on someone’s shelf a long time. So can an ebook or an audiobook. The one who benefits the most is the seller of the KU program or the seller of the romance package. Authors, not so much. Like that can of peaches, the book may be a good purchase, a yummy purchase. But until someone opens it and takes that first bite, we don’t get paid one dime. And they have to eat all the peaches or read all the pages for you to be paid in full for your book. I doubt we could get any sellers of canned peaches talked into this kind of a deal. But authors went for it.

Initially I’d said yes to the romance package and tried it for a year. My audiobook sales plummeted. People are busy. They might “buy” your audiobook but that doesn’t mean they have time to read/listen to it. People are busy. This is not a good situation for the author.

After trying the ACX romance package, I sent ACX a letter and pulled my books out of the program. You’d think sales would then have picked up. Enter the next problem.

Pirates. Yes, audiobooks are pirated too and some pirates are so bold they’ll even post Youtube Videos telling readers where to get those books for free. So now we’re not even getting paid for page reads or page listens. Now we are getting zip. Zero. Nada.

Readers keep asking me when I am going to put out a new audiobook. I’m giving a straight answer to this. I’m not. Not until these four audiobooks earn out the costs of producing them. Until that day, I can’t afford to put another one out there. Publishers need to be profitable to stay in business. This is true of Indie authors and Indie publishers. When my audiobook sales pick up, then you will see more of my audiobooks.

Here’s some straight talk, JA Konrath style: I have $1,810.00 invested in the production of these four audiobooks. The shortest one was $310.00 to narrate. I’ve sold a total of 128 audiobooks since 2016 when I put the first one out and brought in $236.57 so far. Not even enough to cover the cost of producing the smallest audiobook.

This morning I spent time sending take down notices on pirated copies of all four audiobooks. Pirates suck. They just do. And if you are a reader/listener who downloads from pirated sites, then you are in receipt of stolen merchandise. You might as well be holding up banks and liquor stores, or fencing stolen property, all of that is theft and helping people steal and you suck. I don’t want to hear your excuses, because no excuse changes the fact that you are a thief. I hope the karma bus comes fast and hits you hard with what you deserve.

Newer authors often ask me about putting their books into audio. Well, here are the facts as I have experienced them so far with my audiobooks. Two of those books were RONE award nominated ebooks and that’s a reader vote. In case anyone was thinking my books might suck. It’s not my books that are the problem and I have those reader votes to back me up. What sucks are the pirates and the systems of paying authors and narrators for their work. Remember on a 50/50 royalty split, the narrator is getting screwed by these pirates too.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I will take this time now to say I am truly, eternally grateful for my readers and reviewers who have purchased my books and left reviews. You are why I continue to write and put my books out there. You are the treasures in this pirate filled world and I thank God for you.

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/author/debra-parmley/id411082477?mt=11

Audible:

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Romanc_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Debra+Parmley

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509300092&sr=8-1

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For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

Indie Marketing Tip #1, part 2 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot – Glamour Shots vs. Author Headshots

Branding is – always being yourself.

Remember when I said in Indie Marketing Tip #101 how you could sum up branding by figuring out exactly who you are and then acting like it? Well, it’s a good thing if you look like it too. This was my first professional author head shot and it was taken by Studio at an RWA convention in 2006, not long after my first manuscript, A Desperate Journey, was in the American Title II competition. We all had to have a website before we even had books out and the first photo I had up on my site was a quick photo my husband had taken in the kitchen on our little camera. That first photo didn’t have the clarity a professional shot had and it was a bit fuzzy when picked up by my hometown newspaper for an article they ran, so I, along with many other authors at the convention, signed up and paid for professional photos.

For the photo shoot we were to bring a couple outfits to get some different looks, so I picked three of the outfits I’d packed and did my makeup, basically got all dolled up. The shoot proceeded with lots of shots, three outfits which meant some quick changing, and a lot of posing here and bending there to get the angles the photographer wanted. He was a great photographer and he was creative. He was also used to shooting models. In this shot he moved the lighting to go for “something different.” He liked the way it turned out and called it his “fire shot.”

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The photographer called this his “fire shot” and it was used in their marketing. 

While it was very cool, the photo pulled attention to my hair and the light behind it which lit up. The photo was also touched up in the same way photographs are touched up for fashion magazines. Notice, not one freckle showing. So while it is me, it’s just like the photos you see in fashion magazines – touched up. I don’t believe my skin ever looked that flawless. This photo was used in some of their marketing materials, people would tell me about it even when I wasn’t at an event and so this photo was around for a while, which was quite flattering, but – did it help me sell books? I suspect it mostly helped sell photography services.

For years, when my husband would hand out my bookmarks, people would say, “Is that your wife?” Yes, that’s probably a compliment. But maybe, the ones who had met me were thinking – she didn’t look like that when I met her. The idea here is to sell books, not sell my face, since I’m not a fashion model. The idea is not to sell my hair in a fire shot, cool as it is. Eventually I caught onto the fact that people weren’t recognizing me at large book signings with many authors and I knew I needed to use a different photo.

Of course we want to look our best, but remember, your reader needs to recognize who you are in the photo and who you are at a signing or anywhere else you’re appearing so that you aren’t lost in the crowd. If your photo doesn’t match your regular appearance, they might have a little more trouble recognizing you. Yes, it is your image, your face, but let’s think for a minute about what you are selling. Try to keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author head shot, so no fancy makeup or hair is needed.

Watch out for that author ego. We all have one. Not enough of one and you’d never put a book out there. But don’t let it take the wheel and go veering off in a different direction. Would it be tempting to use a glamour shot? Sure. Would it be tempting to use a picture from 2006 instead of 2018 because I was twelve years younger? (And who doesn’t look better in younger pics – most do.) Sure. But that choice would not be the best one.

When you choose a head shot, try to select one that looks like you do now so your readers can find you. And if you change your look drastically as we sometimes do, it might be time for a new head shot.

– Debra Parmley

Visit my website!

 

 

 

 

Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

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Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.

Adapting and Adjusting is an Author’s Life: Mine Might be Titled “Survivor”

If there was one skill set or one set of tools I would recommend every author carry in their author tool box, it is the ability to adapt and adjust.

I would go so far as to say it is the one set of tools every person needs to survive and to succeed in life. I am blessed to have acquired these abilities or skills and very thankful for them.

If there is one constant in the author world today, or in our modern world today, it is that things change and they often change fast and unexpectedly.

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As an author I’ve survived more things than I can count. I’ll attempt to list the major ones.

I’ve survived many rejection letters, and competing for a publishing contract with a major publishing house (Dorchester Publishing) during the American Title II contest. Similar to American Idol, readers voted online and each month two authors were kicked off the island. During that contest, my husband flatlined for three minutes. They were to put a stint in (a simple surgery they said) and he reacted to the dye. I nearly lost him. Three minutes is a long time to flatline. Seeing him on total life support in the operating room (the Dr took me inside without having me gown or wash my hands – the first shock of that before seeing him – and then the nurse saying ‘You can touch him if you want to’) shook my world. Split it in two.

My world split into the before, and the after. When this happened during the contest and my focus moved to sitting by his side in the hospital, instead of asking for votes, my writing world shifted. I had made it to the second round of the contest but was soon “voted off the island.” With all the other authors pushing for votes, I suspect I had very little chance of winning at that point. The before and after of my life pushed my writing career into the background. When life happens we do what we have to do.

This period of time in my life is part sharp focus and part blur. Somewhere during that time I obtained an agent who had been enthusiastically pursing several of us who were competing. Three of us signed with him.

The agent sold my book to Samhain and I survived receiving “the call” for the sale of my first book, while looking at the letter on my desk which would sever the contract with my agent. The list of reasons to split from him had grown too long to ignore. I later learned from my editor that she had never received the last chapter of the book. They bought A Desperate Journey though it was missing the last chapter. They must have liked my writing enough to take a chance on me. I’m still surprised by that. This experience made me gun shy of agents and I didn’t pitch my books to any others. It’s true that no agent is better than a bad agent. The least they can do is submit the full manuscript for you.

I then survived what I call the editor revolving door, as I was passed to five different editors at that house and the house sitting on two of my books before being orphaned at my publishing house. Being orphaned is hard because you no longer have an advocate in house and communications slow til you don’t know what is going on at your publishing house. With no agent, I also had no advocate anywhere. I was going it alone and that is no easy road.

I’ve survived firing two PR people, one after my father passed after eight months on hospice. They had done nothing to promote my new book launch. My new book came out, it was release day, and there was no promo beyond what could be done that day at the last minute after my frantic messages.  When I asked where my promo was, I was told my PR person had left the company. She’d left and no one had told me. Though the company tried to make it up to me, the lack of promo did hurt sales. I decided no PR company was better than one who didn’t do what you paid them for. Once again I was going it alone.

I survived being with five publishing houses, juggling deadlines. Not wanting to put all my eggs in one basket so as not to be orphaned with no books coming out again, I tried writing for too many houses. It was a lot to keep up with. It also meant I had many different kinds of stories out there and would not be branding with just one type of romance. I could write what I wanted, and at one house was able to sell on proposal. My publisher said she would publish anything I wrote. That was a far cry from being turned down more than once at my first house as editors revolved. I was riding the roller coaster author life up and down. I learned to adapt and adjust quickly and to write fast to meet deadlines. I often met them by missing sleep. (Not something I advise doing as it will affect your health.)  I was proud of never missing a deadline, a carry over from working at the Collierville Herald newspaper.

Of those five presses, three are no longer in business and one discontinued the line I was writing in. In some cases I was never paid my royalties. I never received my advance from the first house. Though the royalties covered that advance, so it’s not like they robbed me, the advance would have helped.

I’ve survived internet trolls and bad reviews, slings and arrows, things people fling at you when they want to pull you down. I refuse to be pulled down and focus on staying up and staying positive.

Through it all, I survive. Beyond that I am determined to thrive. To succeed. To do what I love and to share my stories with the world. I write because I love to write and I love stories. I protect my writing with a ferocity few realize and which has even surprised my husband at times.

Recent news reminded me it was time to adapt and adjust again. And that is exactly how I see it. Kindle Worlds is closing. We just got the word this week and my email came while I was in the hospital with pancreatitis. Boy, talk about timing. I had three more books scheduled to come out in two different Kindle Worlds. This affects my writing and publishing schedule for 2018. It affects my today and my tomorrow. The next book was to be out in June. I’m now readjusting my planner and turning to work on a different story.

This is what authors must do if we are not only to survive, but to thrive. Not just on a financial level but on an emotional level as well, for our happiness as writers.

Happiness is important and life is short.

Minutes matter.

How much time do you spend on the negative curve that has just been thrown your way?

Change can propel you to better things or it can bog you down. Don’t let it. Adapt and adjust as quickly as you can. The past is the past and needs to remain there. You are in charge of your tomorrows. Make them good ones.

Today I am working on book three which will be in this box set, tying my first two westerns together. Tying them together and wrapping up the past into the future where good things can and will happen. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection containing A Desperate Journey, Dangerous Ties, and Deadly Adversaries. Look for it soon.

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Calculating Pages and Word Counts

How long is your book? My first book had to meet a 100,000 words goal to be submitted back in 2007. (Picture of me with my first book A Desperate Journey by Monica Parks Photography.) Much has changed since then but figuring your word count has not.

For the length of your book here is a guide to page counts and word counts.

How many pages have you written today? Keep writing!

How close to finishing your book are you? Keep writing!
The industry average is 250 words per page (pages of course vary with more dialog or more narrative)

Pages              Words
50                   12,500
100                 25,000
150                 37,500
200                 50,000
250                 67,500
300                 75,000
320                 80,000
350                 87,500

If you wrote 7 pages a day in 50 days you’d have 50,000 words. You can do it!
How fast do you write? How many pages a day can you get in? This chart may help you to estimate how soon you can be done with your book and reach the goal of your page count for the book.
Now get going! How many pages can you write today?

 

 

My new radio show Book Lights – Shining a Light on Good Books!

I have a new job working for Circle of Seven: Readers Entertainment and a new radio show!

Book Lights – Shining a Light on Good Books!

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Every Tuesday night at 8:30 eastern, 7:30 central, 5:30 Pacific I am live on the air interviewing authors and chatting about their books. The interviews are taped and turned into a podcast later that evening after the live show winds down.

Here are the interviews I have done so far! Enjoy!

Interview with Sheila English:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/05/04/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-sheila-english

Interview with Lydia Michaels:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/27/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-lydia-michaels

Interview with Sharon Sayla:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/13/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-sharon-sala

Interview with Ariel Burns:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/06/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-arial-burnz

 

On Drive, Writing and Achieving Goals

I have drive. When it come to my books, my writing career, I have drive.

My husband calls it tunnel vision and perhaps it could be called that too, because when I am that focused on the goal, it is an extreme focus which fades things in the periphery of my vision. But whatever one chooses to call it,  it have it and when I am that focused I will not be redirected elsewhere, by anyone, even in the most extreme circumstances. I call it drive.

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I have drive. This has allowed me to achieve what I have achieved in my writing career so far to this date. No matter what has happened to me and to my books I keep pushing forward. Set backs happen. I have to get up, dust myself off and start again. I have to adapt and adjust. This is not to say I have not had those nights when it seemed impossible to get up and do it again and to start over. This is not to say I have not had nights when I cried bitter tears of frustration and sadness and loss and felt like giving up. I have had such dark nights and gotten through them, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of a friend. But I have gotten through them. I get up, dust myself off and I begin again. Because I have drive.

When students who are serious about their writing ask me what it takes to get published (usually they mean with a publisher not self publishing which nearly anyone can do these days if they apply themselves) I tell them the things they must know to get published and I teach them the skills and pass along the information they will need to achieve that. But that drive, that is the one thing I cannot give them or teach them. Drive comes from within. I can motivate. I can ask them how bad do they want it. I can ask them any number of questions which will motivate them, but it still has to come from within. They need that inner fire. That drive.

Drive accepts no excuses. It does not care what is going in in your life. It does not care if you are tired. It does not care about anything other than achieving that goal. Drive is unstoppable, unrelenting, ruthless. If you have ever once tasted drive within yourself you will know this will be true. You will understand what I am speaking of.

I have drive. Sometimes this means I drive myself too hard, too fast and for too long. I am often too hard on myself. Often this means I will crash and crash hard. Just last night I had such a crash. I had been driving myself too hard, living on fours hours of sleep, pushing hard to get books out with rights reversions back from three publishers and many books to get out under my new publishing company/private label and an all day book event yesterday where I needed to have books ready to sign. I had been pushing myself hard for about a month, and pushing the month before, not as hard but pushing. So when I came home from the book event last night I crashed and crashed hard. I slept for twelve hours straight. Then I got up and four hours later napped for an hour. I had reached a point of exhaustion and my body said, enough.

This is what drive can do. So when you have it to the degree that I have, it is important to learn to manage it, to control it. To find some sort of balance between allowing that drive to fill you to the point where you push on through to your goals and between reigning it in so you can rest and recharge and be ready to push on through the next day. Often when I have a set back in my writing career, after the dark night of drying those tears, I get back up with a fierce sort of drive which pushes me hard. It is my way of fighting back against the twists of fate the publishing life throws at me. It is that fierce determination which doesn’t listen. It is the dark side of drive or tunnel vision because it does not listen.

What follows a crash and burn with me is a quiet, a silence. A time of evaluation. Of assessment and of looking all around and listening. The drive is sated then, quiet. Not gone, just quiet and still enough that it waits until I need it again.

Drive is something that allows us to achieve our goals and sometimes achieve things we had never dreamed of. I believe it is a necessary part of achieving a successful writing career and of achieving any sort of dream. I am thankful to have it and would not want to be any other way than I am. Writing is not a hobby for me. Never has been and never will be. I have the drive which will take me there. The part I must learn is to balance that drive and to live a more healthy lifestyle. That is the challenge that I see. Typing these words my next thought is, challenge, now you have set the challenge. And this… this is the beginning of setting any sort of goal for which you will need drive.

Oh yes. I have this drive. It just needs some direction, a goal to point it to.

I have drive.

The Five-minute Book Review and Why You Should Write One

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The five-minute book review and why you should write one.

Why should you write a five-minute review? Why am I asking you to write one?

Because you liked the story. Because it helps the author. Because it might lead to the author having another story out which you might like as well or better. Because if you don’t you may not find another book by this author. Or a book similar to this one, in the same genre or writing style. Authors sometimes switch to other types of stories and low reviews and low sales are one reason why.

Reviews are getting harder and harder to get. I am hearing this from traditionally published authors as well as Indies and hybrid authors like myself.

Have you ever had a favorite food, brand, or store? Maybe it was one of your favorite things but suddenly the store no longer carries the food or brand or the store is no longer in business. I’ve had this happen to me. It left me wondering what happened when I liked it so much.

This can happen to books and their authors as well. Books need reviews. Fewer reviews mean fewer sales. That hurts authors. It hurts their books. And it hurts you, the reader, because that author you like, that book you like, and they may not stay around long if you don’t support them.

Can you speak up for the things you like? And I do not mean clicking like on your face book feed. I mean taking five minutes out of your day to write a short review, which basically says hey I liked this book. A few sentences. One paragraph.

So you’re not a “book reviewer”. Well neither am I. But each of us can say in simple language hey, I liked this book. Or hey I liked it but I wish it had more of this thing. Or I am not sure what to think of this book. Or even this was not my cup of tea but it was well written. Or even I didn’t care for this book and this is why. Just the honest truth of what you think of the book. That’s all. One simple review. A few sentences. Five minutes.

One sentence. I liked this book.

Two sentences. I enjoyed this book. I hope to read more by this author.

See how easy that is? Simple. Might take you less than five minutes.

Five minutes. You can do it. I bet you can even write a better review than one of my examples.

And if you do write a short review, I thank you for it. On behalf of every author and every book you review I thank you for it. We need you. We love you. We appreciate you.

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If you would honor me with a review here are two sites for where it’s easy to do that.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2279340.Debra_Parmley