Thursday, May 28, 2015

Indie-ana Kim and the Temple of Self-publishing

What up, y'all? (Wait, I'm from Jersey).
What up, yo? (That's better)

I thought I would blog today about how my young indie career is progressing. Not because I'm narcissistic and I want everyone to look at me (See me, please!) No. But because if I were a newbie writer thinking about self-publishing, I'd like to know what it's like out there. The following blog post is not going to be some long treatise on indie publishing. I'm just going to talk about my experiences the last four weeks.

If you had asked me a year ago if I had ever imagined self-publishing, I would've told you no. First, I didn't think I'd be able to afford to self-publish. And second, I really wanted a traditional publishing deal. But then I found KBoards Writers' Cafe, a forum for indie authors. Not only was I was floored by the work ethic of many of these indie authors, but I was amazed at how willing they were to share their collective self-publishing knowledge. I devoured all the posts about publishing schedules, pricing, vendors, promotions, and cover art. Suddenly, I wanted to join their club -- write all the stories I had ever wanted to write and publish them. For the first time, I felt energized about my writing career.

A month ago, I published a novella, a spin-off story to my small-press published book, called The Lady in Blue. I was hesitant about publishing the book myself as plunking a few hundred dollars into my writing wasn't something I could do lightly. I don't work full time anymore and I don't earn outside money either. But I had written a novella and I was anxious to get it out to readers. I budgeted $300 for the project (which included editing and cover art), but I spent $450 because I bought Vellum, formatting software (aka a godsend), for $200.

I created accounts on all the vendors (not Google Play), and did a soft launch -- meaning I didn't release a publication date on social media because I wasn't sure how long it would take to get my novella up on the vendors. I didn't want to say May 1st and get stuck in review until May 2nd. My novella went through review on Amazon within hours, but it took much longer to get it up on Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. I assume because I didn't have accounts set up on those vendors yet.
And it was a weekend. Note: BN doesn't work weekends.

When I announced to readers on social media and on my mailing list that the book was released, I had 11 sales on Amazon for the first day. To compare, when Grunge Gods was released, I had 40 Amazon sales on release day, but I did a big release day blitz. For the rest of the week, I had a trickle of sales -- three, zero, five, two, three, four, three, one and then radio silence for a week. From May 10th to May 17th, it was like my book didn't exist. There was no movement on it at all. After only getting five sales on BN and none on the other vendors, I pulled The Lady in Blue from the other vendors and enrolled it in KDP Select so it could be in Kindle Unlimited (along with Grunge Gods). Since doing so, I'm getting a trickle of borrows now as well. Currently, I've sold 40 units and my Amazon earnings are roughly $80. Also, I couldn't be more thrilled.

Right now, I'm working on getting reviews. I've sent my book out to bloggers and I'm delighted with the response so far. I'm also hoping to gain more reader subscribers for my newsletter/mailing list. I will do a promotion as soon as I get more reviews.

Despite my low indie budget, I strive to put out my best work. And despite my meager earnings, I am not dissuaded from self-publishing. I've already commissioned cover art for the first book in my new YA mystery trilogy (coming Fall 2015). I'm hoping to have all three books published by this time next year, but we'll see. I have three kids and all.

Anyway, so that's my indie update. As you can see, there's no real money to be made at first. But that's okay. I'm writing and publishing and I'm incredibly content.

Do you self-publish? How goes it?


Monday, May 25, 2015

Forty-one Candles

Today is my 41st birthday, so I thought it appropriate to somehow tie my blog post to a birthday related theme. I had initially thought about outlining various birthday celebrations depicted in the literary world, but my mind wouldn’t budge from the most epic birthday movie ever made.

Sixteen Candles.

If you are young enough to have missed out on this epic classic, then you must go to your preferred movie retailer of choice and watch immediately.

As I thought about Sixteen Candles, I got to thinking how a sequel would play out on Sam’s 41st birthday. Here’s how I envision some of the moments from her 16th birthday would link up with her at the age of 41.

 “Chronologically you’re sixteen today. Physically, you’re still fifteen.”

At 16, Sam looks in the mirror the morning of her birthday hoping for a dramatic change in appearance. She wants to look like the woman she is becoming, not the child she is leaving behind.

At 41, Sam steps in front of the mirror, eyes closed. She’s afraid to look. She’s no longer hoping to look a year older, but rather praying that the aging has stopped. She takes a deep breath, opens her eyes, and looks in the mirror—instantly she wonders what the hell happened. Her red hair is now infested with strands of gray. Her once pale, smooth complexion is now marked with wrinkles. Her years of eating carrots had eventually paid off, however now she wishes there were a vegetable that would make them stop sagging.

Suddenly, that 15 year old body doesn’t seem so bad after all.

“They forgot my birthday.”

In the original movie, Sam’s entire family forgets that it’s her birthday. Ouch. At 16 she’s disappointed and hurt—as she should be.

At 41, Sam is hoping that people have forgotten her birthday. She’s thinking that maybe if it goes uncelebrated then it won’t really happen. She’d still be 40. But no, her kids are on it. They remember for one simple fact:

Mom’s birthday means they get to eat cake.

“What’s happenin’, hot stuff?”

16 year old Sam is forced to take her grandparent’s exchange student, Long Duk Dong, with her to the school dance. She is not pleased by this and quickly attempts to ditch him.

For her 41st birthday, Sam would like to get a new car. She wants a sporty new BMW, but doesn't want the price tag that goes with it. Long Duk Dong owns the BMW dealership in town, and he's still not over the way she treated him. She's hoping that her lunch date later in the day with his wife, Lumberjack, will smooth things over.  

“Am I turning you on?”

The Geek, or Farmer Ted, has a major crush on 16 year old Sam. Although Sam is not interested in the younger geek, she tolerates himand even lets him borrow her panties for a bet!

At 41, Sam no longer tolerates The Geek’s behavior. He still tries to get that pair of panties back, and he manages to maintain a one-car-distance behind her everywhere she goes. And, even though she changes her phone number every year, The Geek still finds a way to call her to sing, “You say it’s your birthday! Da-na-na-na-na! It’s my birthday too!”

Sam finally recognizes his behavior for what it really is: Stalking. Instead of handing over her panties, she slaps him with a restraining order.

“Make a wish.”

16 year old Sam has a huge crush on Jake Ryan, but he doesn’t know she exists—until he picks up the survey that Sam drops in class. Sam’s answers to the survey questions are enough to make him take notice, and he sets of on a quest to learn more about her. Then he shows up at her house, and her sister’s wedding...


At 41, Sam is happily married to Jake Ryan. He is still just as romantic as he was at 16, and every year they sit on the kitchen table with a cake full of candles between them. However, as each year passes and the number of those candles increases, it’s harder and harder for them to kiss over the cake without catching their clothes on fire.

Any other birthday favorites out there? If so, how would you envision the sequel?


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Accepting Your Desperation and Enjoying Coffee

I'm going to step out of my resident reader role for a moment to tell you about what I thought was going to be my own personal hell. Trust me, it has something to do with both reading and writing. I recently had a lengthy visit with my integrative practitioner to talk about dietary and lifestyle choices that could have an impact on autoimmune stuff happening within my body. We decided it was time to try an elimination diet for three weeks- no corn, soy, gluten, or dairy. Some of that wasn't so bad. After all, we switched to a mostly paleo (think caveman) diet in March 2014. However, I still had a firm grasp on my beloved French vanilla coffee creamer, which is obviously dairy. Because coffee is necessary to my life. In fact, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to it (found here) and another for fun mugs I'd love to use with said coffee (found here). Imagine my horror when I realized this elimination diet would seize that creamer from my fist and strip it away. I mean, really. I need it to function. 

My first thought was to quit coffee altogether. I'm serious. How was I to drink it without dairy? I'd previously tried almond creamer and couldn't do it. Well, with the help of many Facebook friends who took pity on my new predicament, I tried a few different things, all involving organic vanilla coconut milk (not coconut creamer, which contains carrageenan). Cinnamon and vanilla extract with the coconut milk was disgusting. Excuse me while I scratch the memory from my tongue. Maple syrup with coconut milk was better, but still nothing like my beloved creamer. Then I tried organic, non-GMO pure cane sugar with the coconut milk. Well, a few things happened. First, I was able to finish my cup of coffee for the first time in days. Second, I realized there's a fine line between the shade of coffee and not being able to taste the coconut; darker is better. And third, I was desperate enough to enjoy it. 

Of course I had to post about this newfound glory on Facebook, to which a friend commented that it was impossible to enjoy dairy-free coffee. So, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation and you need to find a way to accept your desperation, I've outlined a few simple steps. I'm sure this translates easily to other things, so feel free to apply it elsewhere. 

First, become desperate. That's key. Second, realize your options: make dairy-free work or go without coffee. This should inspire some crazy images to pass before your eyes of what life without coffee would be like, thus making the dairy-free option clear. Third, go light on the vanilla coconut milk and add a bit of non-GMO pure cane sugar. Fourth, drink and appreciate the fact that you still have coffee in your life.

How does this apply to reading and writing, you ask? Well, considering my focus is no longer tied up in mourning my loss--and the fact that coffee and I are friends again--I'm able to enjoy the reading I do with my morning coffee and I have this strong urge to continue in the drawn-out process of revising my MS (by the way, I'm now accepting applications for a long-term CP). I even found a few writing groups in my area. I'm able to function and actually get stuff done because coffee equals productivity in my life. 

Have you accepted desperation anywhere in your life recently? How did that work out? I'm also curious to know how you take your coffee. 

--Brianna Lebrecht 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Farewell from Leandra

I am very sad to say that this will be my last post on Across the Board. It's been so much fun, and I've had lots of smiles and chuckles from my fellow Boarders. I've learned from their posts as well, which is always invaluable.

So before I go, here are some things I wish for you all!

I wish many, many stories and books for you all. I wish no writer's block, and fast first drafts that aren't messy disasters. I wish revisions that are easy as pie. I wish Amazon best seller lists, and NYT's ones as well. I wish agents and book deals and successful independent book sales. I wish movie deals! And cover reveals, and blog tours, and finding fulfillment in our careers as story tellers.

And last but not least... I wish you cake without the calories.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bink and You'll Miss It

A Post By Jonathan

If you caught my Back Jacket Hack Job you know I have a thing for sharks. Not really, but they're becoming a bit of a theme for me so what the heck, right?

Anyway, I was watching Shark Tank on ABC the other night (if you've never seen the show, basically a bunch of entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of billionaires trying to garner investments) and these two people from a company called Beneath The Ink come on talking about a product for authors. They unfortunately didn't get a deal, but their idea was interesting enough for this writer to take notice.

The gist is, Beneath The Ink can imbed internet-free links (called "Binks") into e-books to enhance the reader experience. The links are bits of information that can include pictures, pronunciation notes, maps and pretty much anything else. The company leaves it up to the author to add the content they want, then markets their book as a Beneath The Ink version, potentially boosting sales and readership.

Obviously, the Sharks didn't like the idea enough to invest in, but I thought it was a cool concept. I don't know if I'd enjoy the product as much as a reader (I prefer to stay as far away from the real world as possible when in my book world(s)), but it's neat to think that, as an author, you could contribute something other than words to your work.

My current work in progress takes place in some real places and some imagined. Just for kicks, here are some of the images you might see in a binked version of my book.

A planet of fire and ice
Space Camp Habitat

A space station disguised as a meteor

What do you think about having pictures and notes and other "binks" in your e-books, either as a reader or author? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Acronyms and Abbreviations of the Literary World

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Publishing, like any profession, has its own jargon which can seem dense, confusing, and even malodourous at times.  It's important before you attempt any literary endeavors to understand what exactly agents and publishers are looking for.  You'd look awfully foolish if an agent was asking for SFF (Science Fiction and Fantasy) and you sent in your Serialized Foot Fetish novel, wouldn't you?  In the spirit of keeping you informed, Across The Board Writers Blog now presents a handy list of some common:


MS - Manuscript
WC - Word Count
MSWL - Manuscript Wish List
BBB - Burn, Baby, Burn
K - Thousand
SFF - Serialized Foot Fetish
ALA - American Library Association
ISBN - International Standard Book Number
DDAW - Dat Dank Ass Weed
ASIN - Amazon Standard identification Number
MSRP - Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
UPC - Universal Product Code
KTJKTA - Kill Them, Jimmy.  Kill Them All.
STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
IYCJ - Ignore Your Conscience, Jimmy.
PITR - Pain Is Their Reward
SRMJ - Stop Resisting Me, Jimmy.
TOWTMTVSITMTA - The Only Way to Make the Voices Stop is to Murder Them All
ARC - Advanced Reading Copy
BITB - Bathe In Their Blood
DTAWYSITBP - Don't Tell Anyone What You See In This Blog Post
CP - Critique Partner
YHBTPH - You Have Become the Perfect Horror
NOWBY - No One Will Believe You
GATTABTYTDI - Go Ahead, Tell Them a Blog Told You To Do It
SHFTGY - See How Far That Gets You
AITNTW - Alone in the Nuthouse, That's Where
SASE - Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope
IAYOFN - I Am Your Only Friend Now
ITYNTCMS - I Told You Not To Call Me Satan
WIP - Work In Progress
BMNIJ - Because My Name Is Jimmy

And there you have it!  Hopefully from now on you'll be able to tell your ASINs from your ISBNs and impress all of your author friends.  Notice any literary abbreviations I missed?  Stick 'em in the comments below!  After all, YOLO (You Only Live Once), LOL (Laughing Out Loud!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Hola amigos!

It's May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, also known as KGG's favorite day of the year. I love a good fiesta. And Mexican food. Actually, I'm very much in love with Mexico all together. You wouldn't know this, but in college I wrote an original research paper on Jewish colonization schemes in 1920s Mexico. I have a minor in Latin American studies and I've been studying Spanish since I was 12 years old, although I am terribly out of practice now.

I remember watching an interview with Madonna in the 90s (it was during production of her "Take a Bow" video) where she said she must've been Hispanic in another life. That's kind of how I feel. Perhaps in another life, I lived in a Spanish-speaking country because it might explain my love for a culture that is not represented in my ancestry.

That's why when it came to doling out identities to my characters in Grunge Gods and Graveyards, I decided to make Lainey Jewish, like me, and Danny Mexican. I wanted a Latino character in my book.

I used to teach English as a second language in the public schools in New Jersey for five years and all of my students were Hispanic. Many of my students came from Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. My students struggled against poverty, language barriers, neglect, and an education system that, at times, seemed to be actively working against them. I left teaching in 2007 because I was burned out. But I always loved teaching my students. Sadly, being a teacher nowadays isn't so much about instilling learning as it is about about pressuring kids to perform well on standardized tests. But I digress....

Anyway, I hope that if any of my former students were to read Grunge Gods they might see themselves represented in Danny and be proud.

As a Cinco de Mayo treat, Grunge Gods and Graveyards is on sale for 99 cents on all platforms.  If you haven't read it and would like to, click here to buy.

The Lady in Blue: A Grunge Gods and Graveyards Mystery has just been released for $2.99 and is on Amazon and Kobo.

And my YA spooky short story, One Night Is All You Need, is free on Amazon until Thursday.

Enjoy a margarita on me!

Friday, May 1, 2015


Okay, so I'm an awful blogger. I was supposed to post yesterday, but (and I have a valid excuse) my kid broke his wrist. Actually, he fractured it the day before at the park, but because I claim to be an MD, I took one look at the wrist, which was devoid of bruising and swelling, and declared my son totally fine. Then yesterday I noticed he wasn't using his left hand as much and it was swelling some. So off to Urgent Care we went where they x-rayed it and found he had a buckle fracture (super common in kids). My son, by the way, is a super trooper. Kid didn't cry at the doc's office and was crazy polite. Of course, at home he's all demanding.

After we got home, I reread my manuscript for the billionth looking for proofreading errors. I'm formatting it in Vellum and, holy hell, it's so easy to use I'm contemplating marrying it. Seriously. I was up until 11pm re-reading everything and now I have to schedule an appointment with the orthopedist so my son can have a proper cast (in the color of his choice, I'm assuming). And upload my book to appropriate vendors so it's available for next week.

Anyway, I'm going to have a proper, jazzy post up on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, for my Lady in Blue release and Grunge Gods sale.

I'll see you on Tuesday, when I hope to be a much saner human being. Until then....

Hasta luego,
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