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Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on December 28, 2015
2015 is at its end and it was a good year, an existing year and one I will look back at with fondness. I learned a lot about my job as an author, about how to get a book ready for publishing and how to get it published. I learned about marketing and the hard work that is involved in publishing indie.
However there is still a lot to learn, and so much more to experience. What will the next year bring, what have it planned for 2016 so far?
Well first thing I will do is publish my Bio, when I have finished it of course. If nothing goes wrong I should look a date somewhere in February.
Then I’m planning on working on my NaNo Novel again, getting that one ready for publish for around summer I guess.
At the moment I have the first book of my Utopian Saga with someone who will do the first edit for me. So I can go over it one more time before deciding what to do. At the moment I’m leaning on trying to get them published the traditional way. Meaning I have to write a lot of query letters and synopsis… which is why I’m hesitating, I suck in keeping it short and to the point, or showing all the aspects and facets of my story in just a few sentences.
What else, well you will find more cover designs on Nicole’s Word and Art World, as well as more promotional tool designs. I know I haven’t done much in that are lately, but it’s hard to work on a book and on designs at the same time.
Otherwise I haven’t made any plans yet, but I’m sure as the year unfolds I will find more to do, more ways to promote, and write many articles for my blog to share those things with you.
I wish all of you a Happy 2016 and all the luck you can get for the New Year.
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on November 15, 2015
Well…, I haven’t written anything for the Blog in 15 days. Why? Because I had the most fun writing in a long time, participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Meeting other authors from Manitoba, connecting with them, working alongside them, was exhilarating and still is even with me being done with my draft already. I’m going to continue working on it, while keeping the contacts I made alive, and hopefully encourage others to keep on going.
However, NaNo was not only inspiring to my writing, but also sparked several ideas. That and other factors that wiggled their way in. But more to that a little later.
The first thing I realized when I came near the end of my draft was, that I don’t want to lose the connections I made when NaNo is over. Another thing was that I know there are even more authors out there, but not everyone is willing or interested in taking up the challenge NaNo is. So I decided to open up a community on Google+ that will be open to any Manitoban based author, writer, blogger, editor or publisher. It’s not in existence yet, but will be soon and I hope that many of the NaNo writers will join me there. That way we all have the benefit of networking, and keep the encouragement and support alive outside of NaNoWriMo.
What else happened in those 15 day’s that I vanished into the word of NaNoWriMo? I had an interview with the local newspaper, and well it didn’t quiet go as I had hoped for two reasons. First of all, I live in a church going community and my book entails explicit, detailed sexual intercourse and some BDSM. Not that I really see a problem, but apparently several other people do and the newspaper has to go by what people want to read. So that was one of the reasons they can’t feature my book Waiting in the Wings and I have not really a problem with it, understanding where they stand. After all they are a business. Yet during the interview another reason was named and that one I hated to hear.
I’m dyslexic as most know, and have to place my trust into others when it comes to editing my uncountable spelling mistakes, grammar chaos and punctuation horrors. And thanks to my dyslexia I can’t really check if they do a good job. So when the nice journalist told me my book still is filled with mistakes, after I had it edited by a professional, it stung a lot. The thing is I can’t even find those mistakes and say to the editor, see… here that was a mess up by you. I contacted her and complained but well… apparently my formatter thought he was doing me a favor by correcting mistakes that in his words “jumped out” at him. So that the version published isn’t the exact version I got from my editor, and I have no way of telling whom made the mistakes the journalist is talking about.
It’s annoying and I wish I could assign blame but it won’t get me anywhere if I do. So instead of crying about spilled milk, I decided to work with what I have and decided to start the Waiting in the Wings spellcheck game. Still working it out, but the basis will be that every sold copy, paperback or digital will add an fixed amount into a pot, that I the readers can win three times a year, so every four months, in the form of a Visa gift card. How to participate? Well, first of all you need to purchase a copy of Waiting in the Wings, because in order to enter your name into the pot, you will need to read it. How to win? By sending me a list with all the spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes you could find. Out of those lists, one will win the amount that came together in the four months the competition runs. How exactly it will work, all the details, I still have to work out. So stay tuned.
What else… Ah… right… A big thank you to Novel Suite Publishing who added me to their raster of artists. You rock guys… Thanks a lot.
Then thanks to NaNo I realized how much time and effort goes into researching all those way’s to publish and what is connected with it. So in the next few days, weeks, I will be writing some articles concentrating on the companies I work with and their benefits and drawbacks.
Well, isn’t it amazing what 15 days of NaNoWriMo can spark in someone’s brain? Now all I need is let those sparks grow into fireworks, right? So let’s get to work.
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 18, 2015
Since Waiting in the Wings was republished after being professionally edited by 3Pediting, I tried to get local stores to sell it for me. Not that I had much success with that but besides that I got the most ridicules excuse this week. You know I can life with, “sorry but I don’t want to take the risk.” Or something like, “sorry but your just not known enough to make me any money.” I get that, I grew up in business and know the risk they take, by placing me in their inventory. But I got the most amusing and ridicules excuse a little while ago.
I live in a small town of around 2000 people, out in the prairie, where you find more churches then schools and kiddy places together. It’s a quiet town, peaceful, and yet there is always something going on it seems. Anyway, it’s your average town, and the population is mixed in age.
One of the businesses I talked to, that serves mostly customers in the age group of 30 to 90 looked at my book. They sell from several other independent authors from the area. I left them a copy so they could read through it, and came back a little more than a week later.
The store owner then informed me very nicely, …drumroll… “I didn’t read it, I just opened it to one side and well… it was quit sexual. I since most of our customers are pious, God fearing folks, and many of them older, I think they might be offended. You know they are just too old for something like this.”
I was quiet torn when he looked at me apologetic, because for one the upper range of customer age in statistics is around 54 years of age. I also know that the main age range of his customer is around that age, it was one of the reasons I hoped to sell there. The other reason was, I had 10 books on my backseat destined for delivery in the old folk’s home. All of the people who had ordered one over the age of 75.
When I delivered them I had to bite my tongue not to tell them what the store owner thought of them.
Here a link to one of many statistics https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=582
To fellow authors, I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going advertise more in old folks homes, so far I had my best sales there.
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 17, 2015
Fellow authors will most likely know what I mean right away. As and author the feedback of readers is one of our most important tools, only with feedback can we improve.
When our readers don’t tell us what they like or dislike, we operate in a void. A very frustrating void, especially when sales a low, or none-existent.
Any review is helpful, even when it’s telling us that we suck… sigh… because it might be the reason we don’t sell. We can’t improve if nobody tells us what we are doing wrong.
I call it operating in a void, because the silence is deafening and the daily look into the reports frustrating, making us wonder if we suck so much that there is no chance to ever sell a book.
When I first published Waiting in the Wings in April, it was the review of a reader that alerted me to the fact, that the person I had trusted with the edit, didn’t do a good job. Since I’m dyslexic, I knew that I couldn’t correct that, so I hired a professional editor to help me out.
I didn’t want to take the book completely of the market, so I put an info post in each description, warning the reader of the problem and promising to correct it as fast as possible. It took the editor and me four months, but we are finally done and the book is out again, fully edited. Yet contrary to the first publish, nobody is saying anything about it, and I live in a void when it comes to Waiting in the Wings.
It’s like torcher, wondering if the editor did a good job, if the changes made it better or worse, and if the story speaks to anyone. In my case, because of health issues, my writing, cover design and print work is all I have as income and this void is frustrating.
I talked to several people for the past view years since I was first published 2006 in Germany, and heard very often that they don’t want to write anything that is negative, but don’t feel like pointing out only the good without the bad. Well, hell… as an author I grow from both, the good and the bad. Sure I would love to read, hear nothing but praise, but that will never happen. I read a lot, many books are bestselling novels, yet I always find something negative.
I hope fellow authors agree with me, when I tell you to leave your opinion, even if you only read the sample, even when all you have to say is “it sucks because….” stop leaving us authors in a void, it would be highly appreciated. At least by me.
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 12, 2015
What is mental abuse?
It was one of the questions I had to ask myself while writing Waiting in the Wings.
And why aren’t the woman who get abused like that, simply walking away?
In the end I answered the second question first. The woman didn’t walk away because emotional abuse is like waves, it erodes the soul slowly, as waves erode the coast over hundreds of years.
I’m no expert, all I know is from articles I read and what I imagine happens.
Just like in any relationship that becomes physically abusive, I would think emotional abuse, develops over time as well. I simply can’t imagine that any person, male or female, would fall in love with a partner when the abuse is there from the beginning.
Now, where a physically abusive relationship would leave bruises, broken bones, lacerations, and other visible evidence, emotional abuse is invisible.
Its words, comments and behavior of the abusive partner that causes the damage, not his fists. Comments on how you look, move, act, or talk, voicing dissatisfaction on a constant basis, chafing on self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. In time the person entering that kind of relationship, becomes someone else, someone who measures their worth on the reaction of their partner.
“You went out of the house like that, you look like a slut. But I guess you wouldn’t know better, since you don’t pay attention to much.” Would be something that hurts, yet the abuser would see only his effort in correcting a perceived mistake, even believe he is helping.
“I gave you the responsibility of the finances so you could learn to be responsible, shouldn’t have thought you could manage it.” Another thing is that often the abuser will hand over responsibilities and decisions to the one abused, so he/she can see you fail, can rub it in and help you better yourself.
Physically the abuser will use the abuse victims’ desire, sexual longing and intimacy against them.
Where in a physically abusive relationship sex might be used as punishment, going as far as rape, in an emotional abusive relationship it’s often the other way around.
The abuser will reduce intimacy to a minimum, or refuse it totally, he might say things like, “I don’t feel like touching you tonight, I rather wish I had someone attractive around.” Making the abuses partner feel not enough, unattractive and unwanted.
What I read and learned is, that there is one big difference between a physically abuser, and an emotionally abuser. The difference is that the physically abuser often regrets his doings, and when calmed, knows that his doings were wrong. Yet the emotionally abuser, seems to believe himself as actually helping, caring and supporting his victim. “I’m telling you that not to hurt you, but so you can work on your flaws and become a better person.”
With time the abuse victim will believe that he/she is flawed, needs to change to become a better person, change her looks, her behavior, losing herself in the process. While they fight for their marriage, relationship, partner’s attraction, they change only to fail again and again in the eyes of the abuser.
I can see a person recovering from physical abuse, the wounds heal, and the person might have trust issues, be more careful, maybe even avoid a new relationship for a long time, but I can see them recover.
Yet I have trouble imagining anyone coming out of an emotional abusive relationship even close to the person that went in. The abuse victim lost him-/herself during the time, changed in so many ways, that the original person might not be existing anymore. Yet I also know that if the abuse victim isn’t totally isolated, she might have a chance to maintain some parts of her/himself. Then if they ever free themselves, or are freed by a tragedy like in my book, there is therapy, and years of it might restore some of what was lost.
The things I learned while researching the topic, for Waiting in the Wings, inspired me to look into programs offered to those victims. Which is why I decided to spend $0.50 of every sold paperback to a woman’s shelter or organisation helping those victims to find themselves again. I will donate it twice a year, so if you know an organization that needs that money, please feel free to contact me. Canadian or Canadian based organizations only please. Only organizations that work with abuse victims.
Waiting in the Wings by Nicole Kiefer available on Amazon, Barns & Nobel or Lulu.com
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 10, 2015
When reading a paperback, many of us use a bookmark if we have one. Bookmarks come in all forms and sizes, different colors, motives and messages.
To an independent author it’s one of the cheapest and most powerful promotional tools. Every customer of you can use one, since he/she just bought a book to read. If that person likes your book the bookmark will remind her/him of you, every time it ends up in their hands.
Now nothing against the traditional bookmark made of thick paper or thin carton. They are cheap, mass produced and still fulfilling their intended use. Yet they never last long, at least not for me. I read in the bathtub, they draw in moisture. I push my book in a corner, they bend. I need to write something down, they get used as notepad. In short, they are easily abused, and quickly done for.
From the first book I sold to today I put one bookmark in each book I sell. At first I bought them, but they weren’t personalized enough for my taste, or too expensive. On top of that I find them easily abused and discarded.
Now I design them myself, specific to the book it’s supposed to end up in. Considering tax + shipping and handling, I actually end up spending less on them then when I order them online. On top of that mine are laminated. No problem with water, bending or getting written on. I know not every author has that opportunity, that’s why I offer it to other authors.
The benefits of a specialized bookmark is that you can say thanks for buying your book and promote another. You can promote your website or distributors, or your shop if you have one. The laminate gives the bookmark a nice gloss effect and makes it stable and water proof. Hell, you can drop it in the sink and nothing will happen to it. Do that with a standard bookmark.
Cost wise, it’s like with everything else, the larger your order the lesser the price per piece. I sell mine for as low as $0.72 a piece, tax and shipping not included.
Bookmarks are one of those promotional tools no author should miss out on. You can find my prices here, http://www.nicolekiefer.com/Author-service/author-service.html
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 9, 2015
Waiting in the Wings and emotional abuse in a relationship.
I always get asked how I was inspired to write Waiting in the Wings, and I always answer with the story of how my husband had a hernia, tried to hide it, and ended up in emergency surgery. While I was pacing the empty waiting room.
Now that is how it started, but not the gist of the book. While mostly writing to sort out my emotions about that night, I also thought about how good I have it, and how bad my life could be. Most of all of how life changing it would have been, had he died that night.
I don’t plan books or stories, I don’t plot them out, they just spring into existence. Like a woman faced with the fact that her husband suddenly dies after 16, 18, or 20 years of marriage. That is a long time, people change in that time. Now if the marriage was good, she will grieve for some time, then get herself together and live on with good memories and a healthy attitude to going on. What if the marriage wasn’t good?
That’s how it really started.
Not long before that night, I had read a book about bullying and emotional abuse in relationships. There is a large number of woman out there, trapped in relationships that are not healthy, that make them physically and mentally sick, and they often don’t even realize it. Their friends, neighbors, and family don’t see it, don’t know of it, because it’s like cancer or aids, it’s silent and hidden.
Emotional abuse is nothing that bruises the skin, doesn’t brake bones, or make you scream in fear.
It breaks the heart, soul and spirit. It destroys hopes and dreams. But most of all, it changes fundamentally how a person looks at themselves. One of the phrases I read, researching the topic was, “Strong on the outside, broken in the inside”
What I found the most disturbing while researching was, that many abuser don’t even realize they are abusive. They think of themselves often as direct, honest and encouraging by pointing out their partner’s flaws. They don’t get loud or angry, they don’t hit.
They simply tell you, “that you screwed up again, but that they shouldn’t be surprised since you don’t understand clearly how the world works. They should have known better then let you handle it, and that it’s ok to be a screw up, it’s simply unavoidable with the amount of smarts you have.”
How nice this insult sounds…, imagine your partner talking to you like that for twenty years. I would have killed him, metaphorically speaking.
The more I researched the topic, the more I wanted to make a statement with my story, yet I didn’t know how. Since I was bullied as a child and teen, I could imagine how Henry would talk to Sara, how he would treat her, and how she would feel. Yet imagining a decade or two in a relationship like that, I couldn’t imagine her coming back from that. Couldn’t imagine her still being strong, accomplishing anything on her own.
But that wasn’t the statement I wanted to make. I wanted her to be the one with the last laugh, so to speak. The winner in the end, not just over Henry but over his abuse.
Then I remembered something I read once. “Without hope we are nothing, when we lose hope we lose ourselves and any chance of surviving.” I can’t remember where I heard or read it, but it was my solution.
If I give my abuse victim an anchor, some person who still believes in her, someone she can hold on to, she might not lose herself completely. And what is stronger than the hope of true love?
I went through different ideas, but in the end decided to go with her first love. To use him not just as her anchor, but also to demonstrate how she had changed.
In the Benjamin from twenty years ago, we find the usual abuser. A man who loves but has his own demons, he drinks and changes. He is loud, or depressed, he gets angry at times, and reckless, even close to violent. She loves him, but sees how unhealthy their relationship is, and breaks it off. Sara walks away from the danger of getting to deep into something, which will most likely end badly.
Benjamin loves her, that’s why he lets her walk away. It also is the point where he begins to realize he has to change. True love will do that to a guy, even if he is messed up.
He becomes her anchor in the following years, the only one encouraging her, telling her that she has worth, that she is smart and strong.
While he only slowly learns and realizes in what kind of relationship Sara is trapped in. When he offers to help she threatens to cut all ties to him, because she is not only trapped by a piece of paper, or the finances, but by her own insecurities, fed by her husband.
While I wrote and the story progressed, I watched the story unfold. (As I said, I don’t plan much, if at all) I let Henry die, I gave Sara a contradicting character, I send Benjamin to her, but then I realized that charm alone wasn’t enough.
By using Benjamin’s past as comparison of the two kinds of abuse, I also gave Sara good reason to never entrust her heart to him. She needed a push, because if I would have been her, I would have blocked him until Armageddon.
So that’s what I needed, Armageddon.
Well, I don’t want to spoil more of the story then I already have. The point is, Waiting in the Wings is not just a simple romance, with some hot sex scenes to keep it interesting. It’s about enduring, fighting and surviving a kind of abuse nobody can easily see. It’s about getting physically sick because of it, about being cornered and coming out fighting and winning.
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 8, 2015
That’s the mantra of any hard working independent author. There are many ways to promote your latest work, or yourself, and your work in general. Most of us know the social network channels like Twitter, Facebook, Linkin and so on. Yet there are ways outside of the cyber world, and those are just as important. Connecting face to face with the reader is (at least in my opinion) the most important and the scariest thing you have to do.
How do you connect with your readers?
I go to any and all trade shows I can reach and afford, sometimes team up with other authors to lower the cost for each of us. As long as our genres don’t collide too much, that always works out fine. Yet even when not on a trade show, farmers market or book fair, there are always situations you can use to promote. One of those I want to talk about today, the business card.
Business cards are a great tool, and easier to bring under the folk as you might think. How often are you asked at a checkout for your phone number or email address? How often do you have to give your name, address or phone number to, for example a handy man, contractor, doctor, dentist and so on? Sure you know those things by heart, can spell them out for whoever is asking, or could just write it down yourself, but why would you? Why not use the opportunity to inconspicuously promote your work?
Most business cards you get handed have a front, sometimes with picture, but almost always with nothing in the back. What a waste of space.
Most of us know that pitching is one of the most important things, an author should be able to do. Surmise your work/book in one or two short sentences. Bait the reader, publisher, agent with just that one short combination of words. Then pray they bite.
You can use your business cards as a fishing pole. In the front like all business cards are your information, with the cover of your book / latest book worked within. A nice little arrow, heart, infinity sign, pointing to the backside, letting the one you hand it to, know there is more. On the back of the card is your bait, your pitch or blurb.
When the cashier asks for your phone number, hand him a card, tell him to keep it. Same when you fill out an application, when you get asked for your postal code, or hire a contractor. Even if the person you gave it to has no interest, he has seen and most likely read it. The cashier might leave it at the till, and the next shift will find it and be interested. Perhaps the handyman puts it on his desk, and his secretary finds it, or your dentist’s assistant keeps it, and your dentist is your next customer. Another might take it home to his wife, daughter, sister or mother. Don’t underestimate the power of the business card. Always throw the fishing pole (business card) and dangle the bait.
Posted by: Nicole Kiefer | on October 8, 2015
Thank you to all of you who have voted for The Immortal Druid. Thanks to you I made first place during this first stage of the contest. Now it’s all up to the judges and I can only hope they see it the same way you did.