2017 accomplishments & 2018 goals

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It’s that time of year again where I assess what I accomplished in 2017. DNC = did not complete. DONE = accomplished.

At the start of 2017 these were my goals:

  • Find a reliable critique partner. DNC
  • Produce an audiobook of One Night. DNC
  • Secure a traditional publishing contract. DNC
  • Finish current work in progress, a new YA novel. DONE
  • Attend at least one writer’s workshop or conference. DNC
  • Start another novel. DONE
  • Accept praise more graciously. KINDA DONE

I met almost half of my goals. I think I accomplished the two most important which had to do with writing output. I wrote two novels last year while working full-time, taking care of a house, dog, etc. which I consider a triumph.

This year my goals are:

  • Write two novels
  • Publish a novel
  • Focus on scalable, long-term marketing for my books

What about you? What are your goals?

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Behind the scenes of a novel: One Love

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A lot of people ask me how long it takes to write and produce a novel. Here I’m going to break down step by step what I did to write and produce One Love.

  • September 2016: I started getting ideas for a sequel to One Night. I started writing two different potential sequels that I abandoned. The story lines weren’t strong enough and bored me, to be honest.
  • January 2017: I got a different idea and wrote a four-page outline for what would become One Love. The story structure template I’ve used for many years is the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. Technically it is an outline for screenplays but it works great for novels, too. To order Blake Snyder’s book which details each part of the template go here.
  • January-March 2017: I wrote the first draft of One Love. I wrote roughly 1,000 words per day, five days a week (I take a break on weekends if I can).
  • April-June 2017: I did two revisions of the manuscript. This brought me to draft number three.
  • July 2017: I sent the book to my editor. It took about eight weeks for her to review. I also worked with a designer on the cover.
  • September 2017: I got the editor’s report back and spent two weeks making edits. I edited what I could on-screen then printed out the book and did one more edit. If you’re keeping track this would be version four of the manuscript.
  • Early October 2017: After I was satisfied I sent the book to a proofreader.
  • October 2017: I reviewed the proofreader’s changes then laid out the print version of my book which took approximately 4 hours.
  • November 2017: I ordered a print proof of the book. I read it, made minor word changes (I changed maybe two or three words) and updated the print file.
  • December 2017: I released the book. It would have been out sooner except I submitted the book for consideration to Amazon’s Kindle Scout program.

There you have it. I hope this takes some of the mystery out of the writing and production process.

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What I learned from being rejected by Amazon’s Kindle Scout

Most writers don’t like writing about rejection, but in an effort to be helpful I wanted to share the details of my Kindle Scout experience for my YA novel One Love.

I submitted to the Kindle Scout program for two reasons: the possibility of a $1,500 advance and having Amazon’s marketing machine behind me and thus, wider distribution online.

To me it was a win-win because even if my novel wasn’t picked (spoiler alert: it wasn’t) I would still be able to have Amazon alert those who voted for me when I released the book myself.

The campaign went live on October 8, 2017 and ended November 6, 2017. During that time I asked members of my email list to vote and posted on social media maybe three times. Everything I’ve read suggests that Kindle Scout editors don’t really base their decision on nominations, but rather what they happen to be looking for at the time.

My campaign results: 21 hours in hot and trending and 2,800 views.

KS stats

On November 19, my book was rejected. I decided to release the book myself on December 1. I notified Amazon about my release on December 4, 2017. The next day, early in the morning, an email was sent to those who nominated with a link to my book.

Here’s a screenshot of the email:

KS email

The book reached #27 in this category with a rank of 125K overall.

Kindle > Teen > Geography & Cultures > Europe

In terms of sales I did not see a huge spike (we’re talking a handful of sales after the Kindle Scout’s team email went out).

What did I learn?

  1. The selection process is a bit mysterious. I voted for other novels to see how the process works, and several were in hot and trending every day but didn’t get selected.
  2. The data available is limited. It’s hard to tell of the 2,800 page views just how many were actual nominations.
  3. I’m not sure if I would try the program again. I wish there was more data than what Kindle Scout provides. At this point I can’t tell if they helped spread the word about my book or not.

What about you? Would you try submitting to the program?

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Help One Love get on Goodreads lists

Hi all,

I have a favor to ask that will only take a few seconds of your time. If you are a member of Goodreads would you consider adding One Love to these reading lists (links follow below):

Best Long Distance Relationship Books

Clean New Adult

Young adult books set in college or after high school

Filipino writers

Best books by Filipino authors

Adding One Love to these lists would greatly help me in spreading the word about my novel. Since I’m the author I am unable to add my own books, but if you could help that would be awesome!!

Thanks 🙂

ONE LOVE social Thompson share

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Five days left to vote for One Love!

My novel, One Love is being considered for a publishing deal with Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. If chosen, Amazon will publish the digital version of One Love. The way it works is Amazon’s editors consider the concept, story, etc. and also how many nominations the book gets.

Please go here to vote and nominate One Love! There’s only 5 days left in the campaign. You can read an extended preview and if you vote and the book is selected for publication, you will receive a free digital copy of the book. You will need your Amazon login to vote.

One-Love-Book-Cover

Where are all the Filipinos in books?

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I got the idea for this post from my new book blogger acquaintance, Kester. Kester is part of a team who runs Lil Book Lovers. Go check it out.

Anyhow, Kester is Filipino like me and mentioned he doesn’t come across many books that feature Filipinos. I don’t either.

One of the reasons I made Ronnie, Thompson’s best friend in my YA novel One Night, Filipino was because of the utter lack of Filipino representation in fiction. According to census reports Filipinos are the second largest Asian group in the United States. There are over 100 million Filipinos in the Philippines and an estimated 10 million throughout the rest of the world. To which I say, why aren’t there more Filipino characters in books?

Looking at Goodreads’ list of Filipino writers there are twenty-one books listed. There are twelve listings for YA novels set in the Philippines. That’s one reason I set my project, The Other Side of the World, there. A Guardian article from 2015 features Filipino author Candy Gourlay. Her books are great by the way, check them out. The headline of the article is: Growing up I thought Filipinos weren’t allowed to be in books. I would argue that a fair amount of kids today share that sentiment. For the amount of Filipinos in the world they don’t pop up in literature that often.

What’s the solution? Publishers need to give more Filipino authors a chance and readers need to spread the word about books with Filipino characters by leaving reviews online and telling their friends.

What about you? Any suggestions for getting more Filipino characters into books? What books have you read that feature Filipino characters? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Four Reasons I’ve Stopped Using Facebook and Why Other Authors Should Consider It

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I’ve been experimenting with Facebook for over a year since my debut YA novel, One Night, was released. I’ve always known that being on Facebook wouldn’t necessarily help me sell books, but I thought that at minimum I could connect with potential readers who might maybe buy my second or third book (or at minimum “like” my posts). I’ve discovered, though, that Facebook is basically a waste of my time as an author. I haven’t posted anything on Facebook for more than two months which is an eon in social media time.

Four reasons I’ve stopped using Facebook:

  1. No one sees my posts. My following is pretty small, but when I look at the actual reach of posts the number of users who see them is minimal, like 25 people (and usually those are my immediate or extended family members). I know you can extend your reach if you boost posts, but I don’t want to spend money on Facebook when I could use those dollars more effectively elsewhere.
  2. I don’t like the medium. There I said it. One of my author friends, Marilyn Brant, is awesome at using Facebook. She shares recipes, videos, and other tidbits from her life with the occasional mention of writing activities and it just works. A lot of her followers engage with her. She comes across as genuinely liking the tool. I have tried to be as charming as she is in her posts but I always feel like I’m reaching a bit.
  3. I prefer other social media channels more. I love Instagram. It’s easy to use and I get so much more engagement on my posts there. Plus, it’s fun. I’m also a fan of Twitter, where I’ve been able to connect with other authors and a few readers and drive traffic to my web site.
  4. It is a time-waster. When I do login to Facebook I find myself endlessly scrolling the feed, looking for what I’m not sure. Overall it has been a time suck or a distraction so I’ve deleted the app from my phone. I am happier now that I’ve done so.

What about you, are you still on Facebook? Talk about your experience in the comments.

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What I’m Reading, Writing, and Watching this Month

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Hey all! Haven’t done a monthly update in a while, but watched a movie last night that made me want to do one.

What I’m reading:

  • Count of Monte Cristo, unabridged. Still. I am shooting for the end of the year on this one. If I finish reading it in 2017 I will consider that an accomplishment.
  • It Started With Goodbye by Christina June. A very cute YA novel about stepmothers and stepsisters. Some reviews call it a modern retelling of Cinderella. I do love the “fairy godmother” character of Blanche in the book.

What I’m watching:

  • The Prestige. My god. This movie is classified as science fiction horror or something awful, but it definitely held my attention. Two dueling magicians in the late 1800s, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, keep trying to one up each other and steal each other’s tricks. About once a year I see a movie that leaves me thinking, what the hell did we just watch? (In a good way). This movie came out in 2006, but is definitely my wow movie of 2017. It’s also a book that I now want to read.
  • America’s Got Talent. Or as we call it in my house, my weekly sob fest. I love watching creative peoples’ dreams come true. I’ve always thought it to be a shame that there isn’t a reality competition for writers, but know that it would be terminally boring to watch people in pj’s typing away at keyboards.

What I’m writing:

  • One Love, the sequel to One Night, is with an editor. I am excited about this one. It still involves Thompson and his romantic issues, but it’s different than the first book.  More details coming soon.
  • Still tinkering with the YA novel set in Serbia. I’ve heard that if you’re at the tinkering stage it’s time to let it go. We’ll see.

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