Hello my lovelies,
The first Tales of the Pale podcast has been posted on Substack. Please check it out and be sure to share it with your friends.
Hello my lovelies,
The first Tales of the Pale podcast has been posted on Substack. Please check it out and be sure to share it with your friends.
Okay, building a mailing list was one of those things I should have done at the beginning of my self-publishing journey. But I didn’t. I’m not even sure why I refused to ask for emails from readers who enjoyed my books. All I can say is that in 2010, back when ebooks were starting to really take off, it was just so incredibly easy to attract readers on Amazon. If it had been harder, I would have thought seriously about nurturing a mailing list.
In 2020, Amazon’s platform is filled to the brim with competing titles, and readers are inundated with choices. The choices potential readers are typically shown are weighted by Amazon’s ever-changing algorithm. Established writers with name recognition and publishing houses behind them have an easier time of it. Indie authors, however, have to really get into the nuts and bolts of tag words, editorial reviews, verified reviews, and the number of times a reader finds a review helpful to get any tangible traction in this very competitive field.
Hence the importance of a currented mailing list. A list I don’t have.
I’m told…an author’s email list should be comprised of past-readers, potential readers, readers who enjoy your blog post, your social media followers who find you witty or just want to support you, and your immediate friends and family.
I don’t have that list. But I now have a way to begin one.
Whereas Patreon is geared toward everyone who produces art content in various forms, Substack seems specifically geared with writers in mind. The Substack platform is similar to Medium in that you can write articles, fiction, or poetry and publish it yourself. The difference in Medium and Substack is how you are paid. Substack offers an email subscription set-up for readers who’d like to support you as an author.
(Follow me on this short side tangent for a moment and it will become clear why I moved to Substack.)
Medium recently changed its payment paradigm. It when from claps, reads, and highlight-engagement to the overall read-time of a published piece. This rather simple change affected lots of Medium writers who saw their monthly revenue drop. (Like off a cliff.) The switch also changed what writers chose to produce. Suddenly longer how-to articles seemed to be the way to go if you wanted to get paid. I tended to write poetry on Medium so overnight I stopped making back my $5 membership fee plus enough for a few fancy coffees. Instead, I was making nothing and paying Medium $5 a month despite working just as hard as I ever had.
Here’s my Substack page: https://tarrant.substack.com/
Like Medium, there’s no limit to how much work I’m allowed to produce. I own the rights to all my writing. But unlike Medium, I don’t have to pay a monthly fee to put my work behind a paywall. If I want to get paid for my efforts then I can offer readers a paid subscription for anyone willing to sign up for my weekly newsletter/publication, Tales of the Pale. It can be a little as a few dollars a month if I want. It’s my choice to charge or keep everything free. Substack will simply take their cut from any money that comes in for my particular publication. So that’s pretty simple. And of course, this system works well if you, as an author, have a large following and already have a substantial mailing list to start with.
However, I’ve got two pressing issues at the moment. Firstly, I need to build a mailing list from scratch. That’s not easy. Second, I’m not sure I’d ever produce enough extra-valued material to justify ever asking anyone for $5 a month to receive my exclusive newsletter. (I’d be better off creating a Go Fund Me page, I think. lol)
So, what I’ve decided to do is use Substack as a platform to create an email list I can use to build buzz for my paranormal romance series. I have already imported all my writing from Medium into Substack. They made this so easy to do.
Here’s the cool part… I also get to produce my own podcast using this platform. That’s right, a whole new medium to master. Whoo-who! For the first few podcasts, I plan to do readings from the books. I might even produce a short story or two just for my weekly Newsletter/Publication. I could interview myself. Interview a character. Reveal a newly-written poem. The possibilities are endless.
I truly am excited about Substack. The first issue is 10/23/20 Click here to subscribe to the (FREE) Tales of the Pale.
I did a double take. “Who? I thought Georgiana Fields..”
“No she’s the finalist. You won.”
I stood. I was flustered and totally unprepared. I had come to the awards dinner last night under the assumption that my competition would win the category. I had come to the event prepared to congratulate her. And I was happy about it. She’s fabulous!
To make matters worse, I got emotional as I stepped on stage to accept the 2020 Independent Author of the Year Award in the category of romance. It was for my first book in the Legends of the Pales Series, The Love of Gods. To those that know me, none of this will come as a surprise. I’m usually wound pretty tight where events are concerned, book-related or not. Faced with friends and family who’d come to support me, I cried at my very first book signing. (Ugly cried. Red-faced, runny-nose, and fanning my face cried.) And when I read my work to the Madison Writers Group the first time, I had secretly fortified my courage with two large glasses of wine. (That first reading was awful BTW!)
As for last night’s event, I had consumed only a glass and a half of wine because I’d promised my husband that I would face the night relatively buzz-free. I did manage to recover and utter a coherent thank you as I hurried from the stage to keep from embarrassing myself any further. I do remember wishing I had had the foresight to invite my editor to the dinner. Not that she can edit me in real-time, but it might have helped.
I went to bed happy but exhausted last night.
Then, this morning I watched the video my husband had taken and the Live Feed Vickie had posted on the Southern Pen Bookshop Facebook page. Oh, boy! Basically, I am too busy critiquing what I looked like and how I sounded to bask in the glow of my achievement. Why didn’t I wear my hair up? And that dress! It makes my knees and legs look ugly. I should have worn the longer rose dress and a shorter heel. Do I look chunky? I sound way more Southern than I thought. Of course, none of my craziness matters to the people who love me.
Obviously, I have some self-image issues. Thank the gods I can write!
Why can’t we as humans, as women, and as writers just enjoy the good moments when they happen?
When I figure that out, I’ll let you know.
On Friday, September 18thThis special price will continue until Oct. 31st –
The Love of Gods
will be discounted to
$ .99 (Ebook)
If you’ve yet to try this Paranormal Romance series, now is the time. Book 1, The Love of Gods, is the perfect introduction to a complex and oftentimes dangerous world known as the Pale. Follow the exiled god, Lugos, as he solves the mystery surrounding a prominent witch’s death and uncovers the truth behind a rumored shifter-plot. Navigating the various supernatural communities and their politics is always tricky. But this time, Lugos will have to do it while protecting the woman he loves.
The Love of Gods is a 2020 Georgia Independent Author Award Finalist and received Literary Titan’s Silver Book Award in 2019.
Promotion starts Sept. 18th!
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/mZByNy
I’m back! The creative block I was dealing with is gone and I’m back to working on my next book. I’m not entirely sure where this new avenue of inspiration will lead me, but it doesn’t matter. Eventually, everything will become clear in time.
And blind faith in my storytelling abilities kind of sums up what this entire self-publishing journey has been for me. Over the past ten years, I have wandered down paths that didn’t work and ones that did. My sales have been fabulous and sometimes dismal. But I kept going. I kept learning. I kept searching for new ways to move forward.
Exactly how much I’ve learned about the self-publishing industry astounds me. I now have writers coming to me for advice on how to publish their books. What are the steps? Where do I start? There are just so many questions! I talk with them or exchange emails and I’m always reminded of how overwhelming the process can seem the first time around.
My Marketing page gives all sorts of advice and tips for after the book is published, but it doesn’t address any of the steps indie authors need to tackle before they publish. Today I’d like to begin a series of posts that might help. And yes, do your own homework. Goggle ‘how do I self-publish my book’ and read everything you can find on the subject. I just want to add to the conversation and share how I publish my books in the hope that it will help new authors in their own journey.
Okay, you have written a book and you’ve opted to go the self-publishing route. Where do you start?
(My personal formatting notes are at the end of this list)
My book formatting notes look like this: (applies to all my novels)
Book overall size: 5.25 x 8
Mirrored Margins .4 top, .4 bottom, .5 outside, .75 inside (gutter)
Centered and Bold all Headings: Chapter and all Titles
Chapter headings: 12.5 pt. – no line-spacing from the top of page
Title: 16 pt. 3 lines down from the top of page
Indent first line of prose/paragraph: .24
Body Text: Justified
Text font: Perpetua 12.5 pt. (all but Book Title which is Viner Hand ITC)
Spacing between paragraphs: .0
spacing between lines: .0 (Microsoft Word will automatically make it .8 if you don’t check this in your Paragraph formatting menu)
Page numbers: outside of page
That should give you plenty to work on! Next post, I’ll walk you through Amazon’s publishing process.
Until then, keep writing and learning!
Today is one of those days I’m not getting anything done. For the past three day’s I’ve been binge-watching a new TV show on Netflix, learning to speak Spanish from an app on my phone, and researching all the reasons I should consider making the move to veganism from vegetarianism. And why not? It’s only is a little more complicated and socially awkward for friends and family. Yeah, I know veganism is on the rise. Getting dairy substitutes isn’t all that difficult. But still, I’m not sure I’m ready to cross that rainbow bridge quite yet. My husband, bless his heart, is still getting over the day I announced I was never buying meat again. That was five years ago, and I had to backtrack almost immediately afterward. Because of him, fish makes an appearance twice a week at our house. So technically, I’m pescatarian not vegetarian. But I could be, and that’s the point.
I tell myself that I can take a day off from my writing—especially this year with the pandemic. The pandemic is a good excuse for anything. Want to change your hair? Pandemic cut. Want to redecorate or work through a list of home projects? Sure, you’re at home because of the pandemic. Why not? Want to start a new business from home? Kind of a must, cause maybe your job doesn’t exist anymore.
But writing is my job and I love it. And I know why I’m procrastinating. I’m totally stuck. Not creatively—not exactly. I know where the book is ultimately going. My dilemma is I have a logistic problem that only occurs when a writer doesn’t fully understand her character’s strengths and weaknesses. Just how much can he/she take? How much will kill them or drive them mad? And then what? What will happen if they just lose their shit? How am I going to fix it later?
I know from experience that there is nothing worse than digging yourself into a plot hole that no amount of rewriting will fill. And I hate cutting multiple chapters after I’ve written them. You do it so your character can travel to the past in order to make a different choice, take a different path. Of course it can be done, but I’ll always retain the memory of the events that didn’t make it into the book because that storyline/time continuum offered no clear endings. I think having all these partial outcomes floating around in a single person’s head is what drives writers to drink—a lot. Drink a lot. Like lots. It’s also why time travel is so tricky.
So, I’m watching tv, learning Spanish phrases I might never use, making vegan-friendly grocery lists, and blogging about not writing. Maybe tomorrow my muse will show up to work and give me the answers I’m missing. I hope so. But until then….
So many writers I’ve talked to hate the editing process. And for a long time, I did too. But I learned to love the benefits. I treat the task as an adventure, a game, a series of levels my work must travel through to become better. It sounds a bit silly, I know… but if you want to improve and produce your very best work, a writer has to find a way to accept the necessary time and effort it takes to edit their manuscript/ book. Having now published eight books, I’ve got a few pointers I’d like to share with any budding authors who care to listen. Here are the reasons we all dread the editing process and how I’ve learned to handle it.
Unlike the rush of discovery that occurs when creating your first draft… editing the first, second, third, and fourth effort is a slow, time-consuming, and soul-sucking endeavor. Or is it?
The editing process requires rereading. Over and over again. And again. And again. Eventually, you begin to dread the work. Sometimes.
Allow your book/manuscript time to sit undisturbed between edit efforts. Edit one, two, and three are fairly easy to accomplish back to back because the mistakes are obvious. That’s not true by the time you’ve read your book from beginning to end four times. Allowing distractions between the fourth, fifth, and even sixth’s edit is your friend. You might even get hit with an OMG moment!
Your last planned edit-pass needs to be read aloud. After this pass is complete, you have to stop tinkering with the book. Really.
Lastly, have your polished manuscript edited by a professional after you have done everything you can as the author to improve the book’s writing.
When you get your book back from the professional…
Writing the first draft of any book can take as little time as a month. Editing a book from first-pass to publish-ready often takes a year or more.
This time paradigm is just something every author has to accept. Whether you choose to self-publish or traditionally publish, producing a polished manuscript takes time. Rushing this process can only harm you. Readers expect quite a lot from authors. They want to be hooked. They want to be surprised. They want to escape into a world different from their own. Crafting those unique worlds using only words takes time and dedication. It also takes a willingness to admit to your mistakes. A willingness to accept criticism. Correct what you can. And then, be willing to accept more corrections by a professional.
The goal of editing is to reach a point where the reader can no longer feel the author’s presence behind the story they’re reading. That’s the best sort of magick and well worth your time.
The summer of Covid has been anything but fun. Thank goodness I have my family and characters to keep me motivated on the writing front!
The fourth book of the Pale series is going to be delayed because my editor simply can’t get to it until the first of September. However, this has given me one more chance to improve the book’s writing and storytelling. I always do my best to give readers more than what they might expect in a romance. This book is no different. As of today, The Souls of Witches will still be released this year before Christmas. I’m shooting for mid-November. Let’s hope I can pull it off.
I just received word that the first book in the Pale series, The Love of Gods is a finalist in the romance category of the 2020 Georgia Independent Authors Award sponsored by The Southern Pen Bookshop located in Monroe, Georgia. It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be considered. I have stiff competition in Georgiana Fields, author of the Crimson series. If you haven’t checked out her books, here’s a link to her Amazon Author page. The winner will be announced at a banquet dinner on September 26th in Monroe, Georgia.
I’m hard at work on two more books for the Pale series. They’re both coming along well. And, I almost have my poetry book pieced together and formatted for its late January 2121 release.
Knowing that I’ll have a book coming out at the first of the years has taken some pressure off the need to blast through the first drafts of book 5 and 6. The longer I write and produce books, the more I realize that rushing to publish is the worst mistake an author can make. It’s much better to finish a thoughtful draft and let the manuscript sit for a month or two before revisiting it. Fresh eyes are what’s needed during the rewriting stage.
You may have noticed that I’ve recently pared down my website and changed the landing page to feature the Pale novels. Each series has a single page that gives a brief blurb, shows the cover, mentions any awards, and has a buy it link. I like the clean look and this process has eliminated a slew unnecessary pages.
I had have played with the idea of setting this platform up as an eCommerce site due to COVID and the impact the pandemic has made on sales this year. After a good bit of thought and experimentation, that idea isn’t going to happen. Instead, I’m taking a middle of the road approach.
At the end of last year, I went wide with my marketing. I realized that not everyone likes Amazon, nor is Amazon always an indie author’s best friend. So, all my books are widely available. Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iBooks, Kobo, and many more. That is why when you click on a universal buy it link, you will find yourself directed to a site that gives the buyer plenty of choices.
Cool platform, right? I thought so. I still publish my paperbacks with Amazon, but I distribute my ebooks to all the other booksellers through Draft2Digital. Books2Read is their sister site.
If you are spending part of your time reading this year, whether it’s my books or another author’s, please leave a brief review on the site that you purchased the book/ebook. It doesn’t have to long or read like a book report. All it needs to be is thoughtful and honest. If you loved it, say so. It doesn’t take much of your time, and it helps spread the word to other readers. A review is the best gift you can give an author. So give often. We all appreciate it. 🧡
“The Dreams of Demons is the most unique book I’ve read this year in that it is set in modern-day, but involves gods and demons who have lived for thousands of years, so there is an ancient feel to it as well. Smith has been able to not only braid these two times into one, but the lives of mortals and gods as well, and she has done it exquisitely.
Smith gives a bit of back story here and there, but not too much that would make the reader bored if they had already read the series in its entirety.
There are only so many ways you can describe the act of love and lovemaking. But Smith has breathed new life into the classic romance genre, with steamy scenes enhanced by the raw power of a demon and a mortal who may have otherworldly blood in her. While reading you can feel the magnetism between Murmur and Gabriella. Their relationship was an enthralling escapade of emotions that I looked forward to.”
To read the entire review on their site, click here.
The Readers’ Favorite review is in and The Dreams of Demons, book 3 in the Legends of the Pale Series, has been awarded five stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Murmur is one of my most favorite characters to date and I am thrilled that readers and reviewers are enjoying The Dreams of Demons as much as I loved writing it.
If you just want the highlights, I have them here.
“Tarrant Smith’s The Dreams of Demons, while part of The Legends of the Pale Series, can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel, as the author provides a cast of characters as well as a summation of preceding events in the story.
Smith’s characters are well-defined and complex, and the relationship between Murmur and Gabriela is thought-provoking and troubling at times. One can’t help but get involved in Gabriela’s story and wonder if becoming the possession of another vastly more powerful being is really what she wants or needs.
The plot is marvelous and filled with unpredictable beings, plots, and complications.
The Dreams of Demons: The Legends of the Pale Series is well-written and bound to please paranormal fantasy and romance fans. It’s most highly recommended.”Jack Magnus reviewer for Readers’ Favorite
To visit their site and read the entire review, click here.
I am still waiting to here back from Literary Titan on their review, but in the meantime, Readers’ Favorite has given me a reason to put 5-star stickers on this books cover. 💖