Wednesday, June 10, 2015

ONLY SIX MORE DAYS to Win a Signed Copy of EVERY UGLY WORD!

ENTER NOW!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly Word

by Aimee L. Salter

Giveaway ends June 10, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to Win

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Publishing: Living in the World of Worst Case Scenario

I've been musing a lot lately on where I am in my career, and what I thought "here" would look like versus how it actually sounds and smells. It occurred to me that a few years back if you'd described to me the events of the past year and said "That's going to happen to you!" I would have turned into a human firecracker.

After all, it's exactly what I've been working towards most of my life.

So, why doesn't it always feel like success? (Note the always in that sentence because, let's be clear, sometimes it does.)

I've come to the conclusion that my writer-brain (Read: Where emotion and rationale converge) hasn't changed as much as the circumstances of my life.

In other words, I still have the same fears, same insecurities, same tendency towards self-doubt as before.

I was looking over this list I wrote FOUR YEARS AGO, and darned if I didn't still feel these ways, just in a different context.

So I'm going to share these again because, frankly, the words still ring true. And I'm going to read it with you, because sometimes I still need to hear them:

ON THE FEAR OF FAILURE (First published February 2011)

 - Do you sit at the keyboard (or page) determined to write, yet equally convinced your words are worth less than the empty coffee cup next to you?

- Have you finished a manuscript, yet find yourself paralyzed when it comes to querying?  "I'll just read it through one more time..."

- Do you attend a writer's group and engage in passionate conversation about other people's books, but figure you'll let them read yours next week... or maybe next month....

- Do you read all the industry blogs, enamored by other authors who are clearly more talented, more accomplished, more deserving than you and your book? 

- Are you sitting on a great idea because you can't figure out how to deliver it - certain no agent or editor is going to take you on anyway?

If so, I want to help you clear away the cobwebs: 

The very worst thing that could happen (in this equation) is that you could spend months or years polishing up a manuscript, send it to every agent in the known world, and end up with nothing to show for it except an inbox full of "Sorry, not for me."

What then?  You'd be left with a story you love that no one else cares about.

But if any of the statements above are true of you, then that's already happened.  You're already living your worst-case-scenario.  You already have a story no one else cares about you.  You already have a nothing.

You're living your worst nightmare.  Right now.

That means the only possibility from here is for things to stay the same (which you already know you can survive), or for things to get better.

So... go finish the story.  Gird your loins.  Let other writers tell you how to make it better.  Revise.  Polish (and maybe repeat all of that half a dozen times).  Then get advice on how to properly and effectively query an agent.  Then send your baby out into the big wide world.

Because the worst thing that could happen has already occurred.  But maybe it's time for the best thing you can imagine.

(And then, right here, in 2015, I'll add that, even when the best thing you can imagine happens, it'll probably happen in ways you never knew existed, and have consequences--good and bad--you could never have predicted. And that's okay too. That's not failure, that's freaking life.)
Your Turn: What's your greatest failure to date?  Are you letting that hold you back from succeeding now? What could you do this week to take a step towards your definition of success?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Best. Writing Advice. EVER.

Zadie Smith's is my favorite. But there's a lot of Gold here:

http://www.clickhole.com/article/we-asked-8-famous-authors-most-important-advice-th-2562

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Unique Opportunity for the Young Writer in Your Life!

Tweet it on #MyAuthorandMe !!!

Do you know a young person (14-18 years old) who wants to be a writer? Who lives inside their own imagination, and aims to one day share stories, poems, or insight with the world through the written word?

As the paperback release of Every Ugly Word approaches, I don’t just want to spend my time trying to sell books, or raise my own profile. I want to do something that matters. I want to connect. And predominantly, I want to connect with the audience I always intended for Every Ugly Word: Teens.
So instead of asking you to enter competitions, or tell other people about the book, I want you to tell me about the young writer in your life, the one who is maybe struggling to believe in themselves. Because I’m going to give ten (10) of these young people a free, signed copy of my book, and offer one (1) teen a very special opportunity.

In August one young writer will receive a signed copy of  Every Ugly Word and a letter offering them an opportunity to be mentored over the fall semester. That mentor program will include:
-          Advice and input on a piece of their writing.
-          Email and private message access to me on social media.
-          Personal coaching and one-on-one time with me each month.
-          Behind the scenes access through the publication of a new book.
-          Insight to both the highs and lows of the publishing process.
-          Opportunities to blog with their insight to YA literature on my website and Facebook page.
-          Other free books and author swag as it comes across my desk.

Sound good? Here is where you come in: I need to find young people who would enjoy this opportunity. To nominate the young writer in your life, follow this link. And yes, if you are a teen, you can nominate yourself.
On this page you’ll find there’s only five pieces of information I ask for: Your name, the name of the nominee, how old the young writer is, why you think they could use input from someone like me, and how I can contact you if your teen is chosen.

It’s that simple! I won’t use your contact details for any other purpose, and if for some reason the first teen chosen can’t take part, I’ll just choose another.
The comments on this page have been disabled to ensure that all nominations are collected at the one point, on this link. However, if you have questions you’re welcome to contact me on aimee@aimeelsalter.com, tweet me on @AimeeLSalter, or message me via my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AimeeLSalter

I look forward to hearing from you and the young writer(s) in your life! And don't forget to tweet a link to this post with the hashtag #MyAuthorandMe to tell others about it!
Aimee

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Celebrating 100 5-star Reviews!

You guys! YOU GUYS!!! I can't believe how generous you've been in sharing your thoughts and feelings about Every Ugly Word on Amazon (and Goodreads!) I am genuinely touched. I'm not sure you realize how much it means to authors like me to get reviews of any kind, let alone 5-stars.

To recognize your amazing-ness, I'm giving away an early copy of Every Ugly Word, inscribed with whatever you choose. That's right! You'll get a paperback copy, signed and inscribed by me, two weeks before everyone else!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

And, thank you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Best (and Funniest) Explanation of Book Design You'll Ever See

When I tried to figure out how to explain why this colorful TEDtalk by a book designer who's been around since the '80's is crucial watching for any author, I was stumped.

All I can say is, this not only made me fall in love with books all over again, it also made me wish I had this guy on my team. (Not to mention I suspect he'd be a riot at Friday night cocktails, but I'm getting off topic....)

The Mr. Kidd's barely-repressed hostility towards e-books aside, whether you design your own books or not, you've got to watch this:


 

Monday, January 5, 2015

VLOG: Getting Real in 2015 - A Challenge!

Wishing you a happy new year in all my authentic glory, folks!

Join me!


Your Turn: Questions? Comments? Or post a link to your own VLOG so I can link it on Twitter!

Monday, December 22, 2014

When Authors Speak Truth

I was going to blog about this, but the incredibly talented, and equally kind Cora Carmack said it better than I could:
 
 
Your Turn: Do you think writers/authors should criticize books online? SHOULD there be different etiquette for readers and writers?

Friday, December 12, 2014

FOR WRITERS: Amazon Rankings vs. Sales - Some Not-So-Simple Truths

I had an interesting conversation with a friend earlier this week about amazon rankings and what they mean in terms of actual sales. Having been self published prior to becoming traditionally published, I had the questionable advantage of knowing what most of the rankings equate to, at least broadly, in actual sales.
 
I say questionable, because while I know when my book's doing well, I also know when it's not.
 
Now, don't get me wrong, EUW had sold really solidly. Almost 5 months after release my ranking has only dropped into the sub 15k in the month of December. I have zero complaints about what's going on with my book. But I have found many around me have very high expectations about what an Amazon ranking means in terms of overall sales. And as for what that means for my income, well, let's just say I've had to set some people straight.
 
So I'll tell you what I know (or believe) to be true about Amazon rankings. Someone else may have had a different experience. But I think it's time to peel back the veil a little on this stuff, so I'm just going to dive in.
 
WHAT MAKES A RANKING?
 
Before we talk about actual numbers, it's important to know what contributes to your Amazon ranking and what doesn't.
 
Number one contributor to a books' ranking is the number of books sold in that format. This is an important distinction because each have their own ranking, and are calculated separately.

HOWEVER, there's some evidence that strong sales in one format may contribute to a boost in rankings for the other. Is this because the books sell each other, or because Amazon's algorithm has a point at which it says "Selling 10 books in hardcover in a 2 hour period will raise the corresponding ebook X points"? I don't know. I don't think anyone does except some people at Amazon who aren't talking. But regardless, be aware that foundationally, your book's amazon ranking is established by the number of books sold in that format over the past hour, day, week, and month, etc.
 
Secondarily, your ebook ranking is also boosted by KU (Kindle Unlimited) and KOLL (Kindle Owners Lending Library). Regardless of your royalty program (something I'm not going to comment about), Amazon counts every time a book is "shelved" on KU, or "borrowed" through the KOLL, as a sale. (For those of you considering going exclusive with Amazon in order to take advantage of these programs, be aware that a) Not every "sale" will give you a royalty and b) these programs actually contribute only small numbers to your overall sales. They do however, raise your profile. So....you decide).
 
Please note: Neither of these programs applies to hardcover/paperback formats.
 
 
HOW DO AMAZON RANKINGS GET CALCULATED?
 
When someone clicks "buy now" or "1-click" on your book's Amazon page, it counts as a sale.
 
Amazon then runs batch updates on books every hour, or two, or twelve, or whatever it is. I can't be sure of the firm timeframes, but I can tell you from obsessive experience during a self-pub release, and a traditional release, that as a general rule, as long as your book is selling at least a copy a day, you should update roughly every 2 hours. Hourly updates usually only occur (in my experience), when you get very high in the rankings: i.e. sub 1000.
 
Each update will count the number of books sold during the batch window. Roughly. Again, in speaking to someone who knows what they're talking about in terms of the back-end of these kinds of algorithms, we can't be 100% sure that every update catches every sale (i.e. the update may catch every sale from 10am-12pm, but not actually update on the page until 20 or 30 minutes later--during which time you've possibly had more sales. Or it might catch everything. Or it might be two hours out of date. It's impossible to know without talking to the person who wrote it. BUT, you can be sure that a chunk of your sales have been captured, and your information at the time of update is pretty close to real-time.
 
However, there's if a book returned within the same update window (ebooks can be returned for up to seven days after purchase--don't get me started), it negates a previous sale. In other words, when Amazon's algorithm runs it's batch update for your book, if it sold one and had one returned, it would count as if there were zero sales.
 
I know this because as a self-published author I had real-time sales figures. There were MANY updates where I sold only one book, and some where a return occurred during the same period. Trust me, this is real.
 
 
WHAT DO RANKINGS MEAN IN ACTUAL SALES?
 
Okay, so this is where I have to put my disclaimer: I have sold a lot more books as a traditionally published author than I did as a self-published author. I have insight from self-publishing updates, from other author friends who are self-published and who sold more than me in that format, and I have monthly sales figures from my publisher for the first couple months of my sales after release.
 
What I'm telling you here gets vaguer as the ranking gets higher because it's harder to pinpoint. Personal and anecdotal experience varies to a certain degree. But I can definitely give you ballparks:
 
So, strap in. Ready?
 
If your ranking is approximately....
 
180,000+ - You probably haven't sold a book in a day or so. If you hit the millions, it's been over a week.
100,000-180,000 - You've sold 1, possibly 2 books in the last 24 hours (or since the last update*)
50-80,000 - You've sold 2-4 books in the last 24 hours (or since the last update*)
30-50,000 - You've sold 5-7(ish) books in the last 24 hours (or since the last update*)
10-20k range - You've sold between 10-40 books in the last 24 hours*
5-10k range - It gets difficult. But you've probably sold 50 books (ish) in the last 24 hours, possibly more*.
1k-5k range - you're getting up in the dozens of books per day range. If you're sustaining those numbers, you're probably selling 100+ a day*.
If you're in the hundreds for your ranking, you're in the hundreds for your sales. Sub 100 usually equals 1000+ or close to it, especially if you're sustaining the number*.
 

*THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HITTING A RANKING AND SUSTAINING A RANKING:
It is REALLY important to acknowledge the difference between hitting a ranking, and sustaining it. That's because, while we don't know exactly how the Amazon ranking system works, we do know that it updates many times a day--and your ranking changes every time. That means that somehow it's counting not just the sales you've had since the last update, but also weighting your prior sales against the prior sales of other books the same update batch.
 
This next paragraph is just my opinion: I believe what happens is that most books on amazon are selling less on Amazon than we think--between 1-20 a day. Given that there's somewhere in the vicinity of 8 million books to be found on amazon, and over 2 million different books making sales in any given week, there are going to be LOTS OF BOOKS that sell the same amount in any update window/24 hours/week/month. So I believe what happens is:
 
Say between 7pm and 9pm tonight my book sells 3 copies. But there's also a thousand other books that sell 3 copies. Another thousand that sell 4. Another thousand that sell 5... you see where I'm going with this. I think Amazon ranks all the books by number of sales since last update, then within each group of books that have sold the same amount in that update, it weights the number of sales in the prior 24 hours, then the number of sales maybe in the last 48 hours, then maybe in the last week, and so on, and so forth. In that way, it knows the difference between the book ranked 12,310 and the book ranked 12,309 is two sales one week ago. It also knows the difference between the different formats of the same book, etc, etc, etc. But this has just been my opinion.
 
I base that opinion on two major factors: 1) An unknown book can come out of nowhere and jump to the top 100 in a single day--ergo, Amazon clearly weights the very recent sales much higher than previous sales, otherwise bestsellers which sold a million copies in 2012 would still be sitting in the top 100. But you'll also see an unknown book, which has a price drop and a great promo for a day, drop out of the top 100 just as quickly. Ergo, there is some weight given to the previous sales, because a book which sold less, but continues to sell the next day, will stay higher in the rankings. 2) When I had one particularly good day of sales (EUW hit #114 on Amazon! Woot!), both preceded and followed by weeks of very solid sales, I watched my ranking take a noticeable dip every week on the anniversary of the sale. (I.e. My promo happened on a Friday. Every Friday after that the ranking I had been sustaining all week would take a noticeable hit and not recover). I also saw it take an even large dip on the fourth Friday after that sale, leading me to the believe that the weighting in the algorithm has something to do with the 4 week period. This is speculation. I want to be clear on that.
 
Confusing? Probably. But that's my opinion.
 
What I do know for a fact is that a book which sustains a ranking is selling a lot more over days and weeks, than a book that hits a higher ranking then drops.
 
For example: When my self-published title went on sale earlier in the year, it climbed from 85,000 to 7,000 in the course of six hours. The sales then petered out, and my ranking dropped back below 50,000 by the following morning. During that time it sold about 35-40 copies (yeah, you read that right--keep in mind what that means for ACTUAL CASH IN HAND).
 
Conversely, the a day a friend maintained a ranking of 10,000 (give or take +/- 1,500) for a full 24 hours, she sold somewhere in the vicinity of 60 copies.
 
So, when I talk about "sustaining" a ranking, I mean, if a book sits between 6k-9k for an entire week, it's selling, on any given day, more than a book that hit 7k one time, on one day. Because sales have to keep coming in to keep the ranking steady. I couldn't tell you exactly how many books you have to sell to sustain a ranking, but if you're talking about the 5-10k mark, I personally think you have to be selling roughly double what you'd sell to hit the ranking once, then drop.
 

DISPELLING SOME URBAN MYTHS ABOUT RANKINGS:

We've all heard of the Hunger Games. We've all heard of The Fault in Our Stars. We see these books and they're consistently in the bestseller lists, consistently in the top 100 of Amazon. Consistently selling huge numbers.

We think that most books either do that, or don't. Either you're a "successful" author, or you're not.

But the reality is, the vast, vast majority of authors will never hit a "real" bestseller list (and by that I mean the Amazon Top 100, the NYT, or USA Today lists). Most authors are what we would commonly refer to as "midlist". I.e. The author is making an income, but they've probably got another job, or a life partner that financially supports them / their family to varying degrees. This is because it's normal for books to sell in fits and starts, to languish at 50k for a month, then jump to 15, then drop to 75...

The other reality is, it's actually fairly easy to hit the top 10 or top 100 of a somewhat obscure Amazon category list. So, sorry, I don't applaud the "#1 Bestseller in Amazon Kindle-ebooks-Romance--Fantasy and Sci-fi--Space Adventures--Aliens" with the same gusto that I applaud "#124 Amazon--Books" They just aren't in the same league, friends. It isn't my desire to take away from someone's achievement. (I still dance when I hit #3 in Teen books about bullying, and it's hardly a serious contender for a major category). Hitting any bestseller list is a great boost. It just doesn't necessarily mean that your book is selling tons of copies.
The good side of this is that as authors, we probably have much higher expectations than our publisher in terms of what our amazon ranking should be in order for our book to be considered "selling well". Even books with big coverage and lots of promotion from the big Six rarely sustain a ranking higher than 20k for more than a couple months. Don't get me wrong, some bestsellers go mental and stay mental. But most books hit a peak soon after release and just drop from there.
 
 
IS MY BOOK DOING WELL?

If you're obsessing about your ranking, and it's keeping fairly steady, that's a really good sign. It means that word of mouth is keeping your sales going, which gives you the chance to bust out at some point. What you don't want to see is your ranking dropping to 80k+ and staying there. That means you're grounding out.
 
The other thing I've been told by authors who've been at this game longer than me, is that books from the same author sell each other. It's way harder as a debut author because you've got one product out there. BUT even though second books in series might not sell as many as first books, second books boost sales of first/previous books, so at each release the author is selling more books overall.
 
This also applies to different versions of the same book - your hard cover might be selling 10 a day, and your kindle edition 20 a day. Each format page rankings aren't super-high, but together they're selling strongly.
 
In other words, when "they" said this is a marathon, not a sprint, they meant it. Don't let yourself decide that your first book is bottoming out, therefore your career is too. Publishers are WAY more patient than authors when it comes to building an audience. If you earn out in the first year, you're Golden.
 
 
AMAZON ISN'T EVERYTHING
 
The last thing to keep in mind is that while Amazon is a really good indicator of the audience for your book, it isn't the only place that you can be successful. If you have even a modest deal with a major distributor, you won't live or die by your Amazon ranking. In fact, in my humble opinion, the real value behind the big publishers isn't the marketing budget they may or may not put behind your book. It's their reach in terms of distribution, whether they hold table space at the front of bookstores, or have publicity teams that know how to position you as an author...but that's a post for another day.
 
I think that's everything, folks. If your experience varies greatly from this, please weigh-in in the comments and let people know. The more information we all have, the better!
 
Your Turn: What is your expectation of an amazon ranking for a "good" book? What do you think determines a book's success?


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Celebrating 100 Amazon Reviews--A Sneak Peek at IN MY SKIN

You guys are awesome. That's all I have to say. Not only has Every Ugly Word hit 100 Amazon reviews, but it's averaging 4.4 stars. Thank you!!!

In celebration, I'm releasing this sneak peek at my next book. So first, I'll introduce you to "Tully". Then you can see what she has to say at the beginning of her story.

Thanks again for all your support. I'm humbled.
 

IN MY SKIN (Working Title)
(c) Aimee L. Salter, 2014

Since Tulip "Tully" Harden was little she's known two things for certain: That she hates her real name, and that there's something wrong with her.

No, seriously.

Tully's not the kind of wrong that talks too much stupid, or looks like a douche. She's the kind of wrong that shouldn't exist. And worse, whenever she touches someone else, they feel everything she feels. Every dark, decaying inch of her sick. Every ounce of her pain.

No one wants more pain in their life, so no one wants more Tully.

Until she meets Chris.

If Tully had known people like Chris existed, she might have fought the darkness longer.  But now the blackness in her past is threatening to swallow her and even Chris can't shine enough light to push it back.

The only person who can save Tully, is Tully. And maybe she doesn't want to.


1.

 
I have to put it down to the fact that the first time Chris saw me, I wasn’t me. He saw someone who didn’t exist. My ugly got in through the back door. Slipped up behind him like a thief. And by the time he figured that out, he didn’t care anymore.
 
He should have cared.
 
He cares now.
 
We’re in my room. Dust motes hang in the air so thick I can smell them. In the half-light of my pitiful bulb, everything looks gray. My narrow bed is unmade, sheets shoved back to the wall. The quilt mom stitched when I was two lies twisted, half-on and half-off the mattress, its corner flung across the floor, towards the door, like it too would flee this room if it could. The rest is bare – the drawers, the closet door, the walls. Even the clothes strewn over the chair and rug on the boards are plain and dirty and blank, and that’s never bothered me before.
 
But Chris is here and alive, and so much, I can’t help feeling the room should bust wide open for him.
 
The black inside me stretches and I tamp it down.
 
I can only see the side of his face. His eyes are closed, those burnished lashes quivering because he’s screwed so tight, everything’s shaking under the pressure. The little muscles in his jaw twitch. His hand is a white-knuckled fist. His shoulders… oh, Lord, help me, those shoulders that have lifted things I can’t carry and swept me along too…they’re hunched. Knotted. Pressing in on themselves. On him.
 
There’s so much of him that I always feel small beside him. Yet he’s become the place where I can breathe.
 
At least, he was.
 
My insides are in freefall because I did this to him.
 
I shouldn’t have that power over him. I shouldn’t have that power over anyone. But he gave it to me and refused to take it back.
 
“Chris?” My voice is barely above a whisper, but he flinches as if I screamed. My throat is raw and full of sharp angles. “It wasn’t about–”
 
“Don’t.” It’s a hard syllable. A word bitten off. He doesn’t even open his eyes. “I swear, Tully if you say one word…” His fist becomes a hammer.
 
I am ugly. I am black inside, rotting and putrid.
 
I have told him this. Many times.
 
But tonight, finally, he believes me.
 
And as he turns on his heel and stumbles out the door, I can’t even call after him.
 
Because when he gave me the power to turn him inside out, I gave him mine. And even though I knew this day would arrive, even though I knew he was wrong about me, he gave me hope.
 
As I watch him walk out the door, turn down the hallway and disappear, my hope begins its death throes.
 
It doesn’t die quietly.
 
It screams and curses and shoves at me.
 
And for the first time ever, I am grateful for my life, for my father, and for this house. Because if it’s taught me anything, it’s how to take a blow.