100% off Coupon for “Breaking the Reflection” – Psychological Realism Novel

Running a free promo on “Breaking the Reflection” eBook version until next Sunday, November 4th! Simply visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/228608 and use coupon code: FB69D during checkout!

 

Rejecting the upbringing he received from an impossibly demanding father and an inappropriately affectionate mother, Benjamin Thompson has spent his life chasing the numb silence that dancing with heroin affords him. Disgusted with himself and unable to move forward from the ways his parents hurt him, he will do anything to get the drugs that kill his thoughts.

As he falls further into the darkness that his addiction sends him to, he unexpectedly finds hope for his redemption in the form of a young girl that reflects back to him the best and worst of himself. Driven by the need to possess her and make her understand the pain he has experienced, Benjamin’s actions become increasingly violent and unstable as his addictions and obsessions take him over, threatening to destroy them both and anyone that may come between them.

“Breaking the Reflection” takes the reader on a journey through the life of a young man as he goes from an inexperienced and lively child with a world of potential before him to an aged and destroyed adult with a heavy dependency problem and an ever-narrowing window of opportunity to save himself. It’s a story of betrayal and love, regret and addiction, and the undying belief that no one is beyond salvation.

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Indie Author Success “SOCIAL MEDIA BLOWOUT” Review

As we’ve established, I’m doing a lot of research and practice in my quest to become a successful Indie Author.

One thing that I did, as soon as I discovered that I needed reviews in order to get anyone to care that I’ve written a novel is type “Indie Author” into Google – it is pretty much our modern God, after all.  One of the suggestions that Google search came up with was “Indie Author Success.”   Well, as an indie author looking to become successful at being an indie author, I decided that yes, that was the search for me.

What pulled up was a twitter page: twitter.com/IndAuthorSucess, which leads you to the website: http://www.iasfreekindlebooks.com

I was curious, so I clicked the link and checked out the webpage. The main draw is that they compile a selection of free indie books to draw readers in. Let’s face it, people like free stuff!  They also provide 4 different promotional services for indie authors whose books aren’t free for a nominal fee:

1. For $20, your book will be on their homepage in their banner carousel for a month with clickable links to your books information and for sale page.

2. For $15, your book will be on the side of their home page and their “All Free” pages for a month with the clickable links to book information and sale page.

3. For $10, your book will be featured on the bottom banner of their home page and their “All Free” pages for a month with clickable links to book information and sale page.

4. For $40, you will purchase their “Social Media Blowout!”  For 72 hours, their entire team will promote your book on all of their social media sites, “Including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and Linkdin”

That last one piqued my curiosity, not so much for the potential advertising I could receive, but for the complete and utter lack of information provided on their site on including how many people were on their team that would be promoting me and what any of the facebook pages, twitter pages, or blogs are called.

I decided to do a Google search trying to get a review on “Indie Author Success” to see if anyone has had any sort of experience they would like to share with the rest of the indie author world. The results were lackluster. Perhaps it was late and I was tired, but I came up empty handed on getting any information about this service.

I’d just got paid and had some spare cash, so I decided to buy one of these services.  Go big or go home, right? The most expensive service was only $40 and I was curious, so I decided to sign myself up. Best case scenario, sales flourish! If nothing else, I figured I’d write a blog about it and let other people what to expect!  Either way, my curiosity would be sated.

The actual setup is quite easy.  There’s a link to paypal on their page next to each of the services you can buy from them.  Simply click the link, log into paypal, send your money on and grab your transaction ID.  Hop back on over to the Indie Author Success website and fill out the form on the bottom of their page.  They want some pretty basic info: your name, name of the book, link to the book (either on Amazon or Smashwords), picture of the author and an author bio (I provided my author page on Amazon), and the paypal transaction ID.

Simple enough.

About 12 hours later, I received an email from Indie Author Success asking for more information such as if the book was available in the UK as well and if I had any specific days I wanted the promotion to run.  I provided a link to the Amazon UK page and told them I had no specific dates in mind, just that I wanted to be notified when the promotion was going to happen.

Things were quiet for a couple of days, then I received an email letting me know that I was live on their website (wasn’t even aware I was going to be put onto their author page – bonus!) and that the team was ready to go for the 30th, 31st, and 1st.

I immediately began my monitoring of social media.  It was going to be a blowout afterall – I was promised a SOCIAL MEDIA BLOWOUT!

Facebook: not a damn thing got updated on Facebook. I searched my name and I searched my ASIN.  Went to their Facbook page and looked around – it left much to be desired.  Facebook, the most used social media website today didn’t update in the entire 3 days to mention me or my book at all. A little weird, a little frustrating. If you’re gonna hit up social media, I’d think that Facebook would be involved.

Let’s jump over to Linked In.  I personally don’t use Linked In, but I registered and followed up on it searching my name and my ASIN – absolutely nothing.  Much like Facebook, you would think that my novel didn’t exist.

Myspace, maybe? Well, searching Myspace gets you my long abandoned profile and blog that I haven’t used since 2009, but no, it doesn’t get you any sort of promotion about me. *Side Note: Please don’t go looking into that – not some of my best work!*

Blogs? Alright, I Googled myself. I admit it. I googled “Danika Dierhart Blog”.  No shame if it’s in the name of research (we’ll just ignore the infinite number of times I’ve Googled myself before…)  Surely, if I was being blown up in the social media world on blogs, then something would be pulling up after three days, right?  No such luck.  Sure, some results pull up, but none of them are compelling anyone to buy the book.  Mostly just the Amazon pages, the Shelfari pages, Barnes & Noble pages, etc. Nothing new, nothing exciting. No bloggers hyping how awesome my book is.

Is all lost on this Social Media Extravaganza?

Not quite.

Way back in the beginning of this tangent, I mentioned that the first thing that pulls up when you Google “Indie Author Success” is their Twitter page.

So, let’s look at that social media outlet.  Sure enough!  Twitter blew up.  Searching the ASIN for my novel on Twitter resulted in 65 posts directing people to Amazon to purchase my book over 3 days.  That’s a little over 21 posts a day – almost one an hour!  I’d consider that a blow out on Twitter, definitely.

Pros & Cons with these posts:

Pros – they provided a link to Amazon, they hyped that I’m only asking $0.99 for the book (I’m not greedy),  and there were a few different copies of the text that went with it so if people ignored it the first time, they might’ve gotten drawn in on the second go. That’s about it.

Cons – they misspelled “reading” in their post. And reposted it several times.  I was promised their ENTIRE TEAM (still no clue who’s on this team) would be on top of promoting me on their twitter accounts, yet the only mention was on the actual Indie Author Success Twitter (yeah, 65 posts in 3 days on 1 account – something tells me they get ignored a lot when you’re posting several times an hour), somehow they got the impression the book was a romance. Unless you consider a child molester a romantic hero, it’s not really a romance and I would NEVER want it billed that way.  Total false advertising there. Another con is that they took random fragments of the description and used that to hype the book with a link to Amazon. It often didn’t make sense, and I’m the one who wrote it!

What people really want to know, I’m sure, is was this promotion a success? Did my sales flourish?

No.  Not at all. In fact I didn’t make one sale on the kindle version of my book the entire 3 days.  I’d be very upset and calling myself a failure as a writer, but I did sell a copy of the paperback version in that time to someone I don’t know, so I consider the weekend a success as an author, just not for the promotion.

Overall, the setup of getting the service was super easy. I love a Paypal link, I love the incredibly easy form to fill out and the easy email answers that get me promotion.  I work a full time job in addition to doing this author thing, anything that makes it easier is awesome.

Things that need to be improved would be a little more info on who they are. They have a page saying why you should choose them, but they never say who they are, what their references are, what their credentials are, a link to any of their blogs, or twitter accounts, or facebook pages, or really anything that you can follow up on to see what exactly you’re paying for.  Also, if they’re only going to promote you on their twitter page (and not even tag you in the posts) they should probably remove the “SOCIAL MEDIA BLOWOUT” quote, and say “TWITTER BLOWOUT”.

Would I pay for the service again? Probably not. I think the idea behind what they’re trying to do is a good one and I appreciate that there are people that want to help indie authors succeed, but I don’t think that they are prepared at this time to give people what they’re advertising. I was promised Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and Linked In.  I got Twitter and nothing else.

Maybe in a few years they will be more staffed (and will let us know who this staff is) and prepared for a “blowout” that they promise, but at this time, the service is amateurish at best.

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Branding

Marketing really is one thing that I never thought about while writing a book. While piecing together a complex little world with multi-faceted characters, I never thought about having to sell them to the world.  For some reason, I thought that everyone would automatically love them (and in some instances, hate them) as much as I did.

Now that the actual writing process is over and I’m facing the world with my brainchild in hand, I’ve discovered that marketing is everything.  Not just for the actual product, but also for myself.  I keep seeing the word “brand” everywhere I look.

Developing your brand.

Marketing your brand.

Promoting your brand.

I never planned on being a “brand.”  I thought about “write the book” and “sell the book,” but I never thought about selling myself. Writing anything “about the author” is nerve wracking for me; does anyone really want to know about me? Thinking about all of the books I’ve read, there has usually been a small “about the author” section in the print books, so apparently people do care and it’s super important to sell yourself, sell your brand.

So, how do you develop a brand? I think it’s really as simple as establishing what it is you write, what it is you are trying to say, and to whom you’re trying to say it.

Well, I’m a nihilistic, psychological realist. That’s my philosophy and writing style in a nutshell. Could it really be that easy to develop a brand? As long as I continue to write in the psychological realism style and expound upon my nihilistic beliefs, then I am branded as an author?

Alright.

I can accept the label and have a lot more writing in me to develop the brand.

Now I need to figure out how to market that in a way that other nihilists and literary fiction fans would care.

The work of a struggling author is never done!

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Excerpt from “Breaking the Reflection”

She was shaking.

I was shaking.

Too much existed between us. Too many emotions, too many memories, too many thoughts and fears. Separate, we were ugly, broken, shattered, but together we fit together and created something real and beautiful.

And I hated her.

And I loved her.

And the demon screamed and raged at me to make her realize it like I did, to make her realize that we were lost without the other, empty reflections, closer to death every second we struggled with the loss.

But I was an addict.

And she was my addiction.
I couldn’t help but try to grasp what I needed, her in my arms, her pressed underneath me as I sought pleasure and solace out of her form. I’d slept with so many girls over the years, sluts and whores alike, but it had never been as meaningful, as passionate, as pleasurable, as real, as it was with Christine, with my broken reflection.

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I Wrote a Novel…And Nobody Cared

I think every aspiring novelist had a dream that they would finish their book and it would instantly become a success. The Oprah show, book tours, signings, the fame, the movie deals, etc. After all, isn’t that how it works in the fiction world? Our protagonists are always overcoming the odds and reaching the stars, why should we, their creators be any different?

Most likely, it has to do with the fact that there are so many of us out there that had the same dream.

Let’s count the number of aspiring actors in Hollywood. Yeah, they’re about on par as the number of aspiring novelists on the internet.

So, I wrote a book. I self-published it and put it on Amazon in print and kindle format. I announced it to family and friends on Facebook…and then I waited for something to happen. And I waited. And I waited…

Where was the fanfare? The glowing reviews? The accolades? The sales…?

Hell, the fanfiction I write gets a better response than the first novel I put out into the world.

A sign that I should give up? Realize my failures as a writer and move on with my life?

Hell no! DId I mention that my fanfiction gets good reviews? Those are reviews from people I don’t know in any way because only a handful of people who actually know me know that I write fanfiction at all and not one of them has ever read those works. The point is that I know that I have some skill as a writer, the problem is actually getting someone to read your book. Sounds easy, but it’s really not.

Fanfiction does well because you post it in specific places where people looking for certain characters to interact. Novelists have Amazon and SmashWords. We’re all competing with each other to capture the reader’s attention. They can only read so many books at once and every day the indie market is flooded with new books vying for the limelight.

What’s an indie author to do?

Well, I tried the Kindle free promo route and I am happy to say that I could give away copies of the book. I’ve also sold a few copies of it. Yet, it’s still not the response I desired.

I started thinking about it and I realized that reviews were very important to the writing process. When I thought about how I chose a fanfic to read or how I chose a new book to read on Amazon, I looked at the reviews. How many did they get and what were they saying? Books or fanfics with low reviews, I wouldn’t give my attention. Indeed, I had loved a movie and decided to buy the book, but after reading the reviews, I decided against it because apparently the book couldn’t live up to the hype.

So, odds are, I wouldn’t buy my book either if I wasn’t me. Fortunately I am me and I got in on that free promo deal I did so I have my book on my kindle. In any case, if I was searching for a new book, I don’t think I would choose mine because there aren’t any reviews on it. How frustrating. How can I expect people to read my book when I wouldn’t myself when presented with the same criteria?

When I started this blog, I mentioned that it would be a journey through the self-publishing process, and now we’ve reached our first hurdle since the publishing. It’s too bad I wasn’t doing this for the editing process, that was a real fun time. Perhaps we can have a flashback episode one day heralding back to the time I spent with mugs of coffee and multiple highlighters and pens. We’ll save that for another day, though.

Reviews. How to get them? Well, apparently there are several people willing to review your book and write an honest review for you. They just need to know that you exist. They need to be found by the serious authors who are willing to query and beg instead of just waiting for the miracle to happen.

These reviewers are EVERYWHERE! However, the most detailed list I have found so far would be:

http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/

This website compiles a list of reviewers, the types of books they enjoy reading, and their submission guidelines for review requests. It can’t get any simpler, just scroll through the hundreds of options and choose the ones that stand out for your style. Read the submission guidelines and query away to your hearts content.

I have decided that I will be querying 4-5 reviewers a night. That way I will be hitting up a steady stream of people to get reviews from. Hopefully 1/5 will decide to read and review my book.

When you think about it, reviewers have essentially become the new publishers for indie writers. No matter how you look at it, to be successful, you have to query!

We’re going to stay positive and realize that although the reality doesn’t match the dream, it doesn’t mean that we have failed, only that we’re more aware!

-Danika Dierhart

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Starting Out As a Novelist

I’m reminded of the “Goodfeathers” from Animaniacs legends as I think the line “For as far back as I can remember…”

For me, that long time coming goal was to be a novelist.  Oh, I’ve always had the ideas.  Ideas that are truly cringe and laugh inducing as I reread excerpts and look back on the plans that I made.  I completed my first “novel” when I was eleven.

I remember how proud I was taking the printed copy to my elementary school and showing it to my classmates. I wrote something.  I completed something.

That book, and it was truly a book, not a novel, was some of the shoddiest writing I think anyone could produce.  The plot had something to do with two teenage sisters moving in with their friends who’s parents were dead.  Someone turned out to be a killer in the group. Then something about ghosts. Then something about vampires. In the end, I do believe time travel happened.

Thinking about it, it might have done really well in today’s market of sci-fi. It had all of the elements that make good modern sci-fi, sans the aliens.  We could throw a few in there, though, for posterity’s sake.

My writing suffered during my teen years. An idea took over my brain, a world began to form that I could never quite nail down in the way that I wanted to.  I spent years developing characters and scenarios, learning the ins and outs of people with thoughts and motivations sometimes beyond me. Rapists, killers, victims, acquaintances, friends, family, lovers. I learned them all, learned what drove them all, but I could never quite get the storytelling right.

Shelving the idea in my twenties as something that I would never finish, I moved on to other projects.  The ideas started flowing easier again, I learned new characters and figured out their motivations.  

Then came NaNoWriMo 2011.  

For those not aware, NaNoWriMo is an annual event in November where writers undertake the challenge of writing a novel, at least 50,000 words in 30 days.  It doesn’t seem like that many, but when you’re stumped on where to go and you’re working around your everyday life, time can slip away from you quickly.

I’d competed in the challenge two times before: in 2009 I attempted to write an auto-biographical account of the last year of my father’s life and I failed the challenge as the emotional toll of writing about a man that had died two months before became too much for me; in 2010 I wrote about a woman whose view of reality would shift before her eyes, characters behaved differently towards her, people who were dead suddenly entered the room as if nothing had happened – the 50,000 word goal was completed, but the story was not.

NaNoWriMo 2011 brought a new chance at a challenge, and, for kicks, I decided to dust off the shelved story of my teen years and approach it from a different perspective.  I realized that my main problem with the story and why it never felt right to me was that my protagonist always sounded so pious and perfect. It was hard to care for her when you wanted to throttle her. I decided to challenge myself to writing the story from the villain’s point of view. Let someone who is clearly a “bad guy” explain his thoughts and motivations, explain why he makes the choices he does.

The words flowed so easily this go around.  Was it the changed perspective? Was it simply the age difference between my child self and my adult self?

Whatever the difference, I reached the end of the novel and the 50,000 word mark without much struggle. The 50k words came quicker than the end of the book, but by the start of January, the book was finished.

For the first time in 16 years, I held a completed manuscript in my hand and felt that pride that came from knowing that I did it. I went full out in the editing process, scrapping large portions that didn’t fit, correcting phrasing, adding new ideas, all for the hope of coming up with one perfectly sculpted novel that I could share with the world.

CreateSpace, which I had heard about through the NaNoWriMo process, offered the perfect chance to share my vision, this brainchild with the world.

So I self-published the book.

One thing that you don’t think of after you write a book is the “now what?” of it all.

I’ve read the encouraging words of other do-it-yourselfer’s who have had success due to their marketing strategies and the great online resources out there. This isn’t one of those blogs.

I am truly 1 week into the self-publishing phase.  I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m sure as hell going to be writing about my adventures and misadventures as I head out into the wonderful and mystical world of self-publishing. 

It’s gonna be a long ride…

-Danika Dierhart

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