Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun

Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

June 19th, 2014 by Olivia Boler

A Writers’ Conference to Remember

I’m coming down from a cloud called the Book Passage Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. It took some doing to get there, some wrangling of schedules and such. I want to thank my “Team,” as the big Hollywood stars do when accepting their Golden Globe statuettes.

To my husband Paul for having to cut out of work early to pick up the kids from camp.

To Paul’s boss Jim for letting him do it.

To my mom, for hosting my daughter for a sleepover, then shuttling her to the first day of a summer reading program (and for having to be the one to receive my daughter’s shocked accusation, “This is SUMMER SCHOOL! This isn’t FUN!!”).

To my in-laws for not only letting me spend the night so that Paul could have our one car at his disposal, but for also taking me out to a delicious dinner, AND picking me up and dropping me off at the conference.

See what I mean by Team? It takes a village to raise a writer.

I won’t go over everything I learned at the conference. I’m still grasping at the wisps of that cloud, and my brain is full of swirls. Here are some highlights:

  • Some literary agents think the new New Adult genre is a passing fad, while others take it seriously. For more on New Adult, see this primer at NA Alley.
  • If you want to know the differences between Middle Grade novels and Young Adult novels, take a look at the Harry Potter series, which moves from one to the other (the transition happens in Book #4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Thank you, Shirin Bridges of Goosebottom Books for that.
  • Show, Don’t Tell. That’s what writers are taught from day one. Not so fast! Author Lewis Buzbee says sometimes it’s OK to do a little telling (I agree with this). But don’t go overboard, especially if you’re a newer writer.
  • It’s OK to skip some of the seminars, especially if you’re a bit fried. Plus, you might make a new writing friend, get stunningly helpful advice from an editor who offers to look at your manuscript over yogurt and granola (thank you, Susan McCombs), or simply zone out over a bottomless glass of iced tea.
  • No doubt, Mac Barnett is as hilarious in person as he is on the page. And I love that he’s also a former camp counselor. Totally makes sense.
  • Children’s publishing is probably the friendliest of the publishing realms.

That’s it for now. The dates for next year’s conference are set if you’re interested, June 18 to 21, 2015.

Until next time, beautiful cloud!

April 25th, 2014 by Olivia Boler

Why Does KDP Hate Me?

Unfortunately, there was a snafu with my Kindle Direct Publishing account, and my special sale was cut short today. I hope to have it up again, but here’s what I take away from the experience:

When I decided to independently publish my novel, I went with Smashwords first because they have a wide distribution, not just on their own website but also with other major retailers—iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc….They don’t have a deal with Amazon, so I put up my book there later, unaware that Amazon had this KDP Direct program. What is it? Basically, if you publish your ebook exclusively with Amazon, you can do a couple of promos. One is a free giveaway of your book, run for up to 5 days. The other is discounting your book, again for 5 days. You also apparently get a slice of some profit-sharing that I only vaguely understand because I find such things tedious, even though they’re important.

I hesitated to take my book off Smashwords. They are great to indie authors, and they don’t ask for exclusivity. But sales had become non-existent, and I wanted to get some traction and exposure, that would be simple to run and not too time consuming. I took the book down and signed up for KDP Select. That was a mistake. I should have waited a couple of weeks because it takes a while for all of Smashwords’ partners to take down your book from their websites. KDP immediately sent me a warning. They have creepy crawlers out there, just looking for you to mess up.

When I was sure that I was in the clear, I went ahead and put the book up for free in March. It was great! Tons of downloads. Then, yesterday, because KDP has some kind of time constraint on when you can offer the Kindle Countdown Deal (the discount), I put the ebook up for 99 cents. Yay!

This afternoon, I got another robot-like email from KDP that “our records indicate that we previously informed you that submitting non-exclusive content to KDP Select is not acceptable and may result in loss of KDP Select benefits” and “as a result of repeat violations of the KDP Select exclusivity requirement, we have removed all of your books from the KDP Select program. Your titles remain available in the Kindle Store.”

WTF!?! (Deep, calming breaths. But why is it suddenly so hot in my brain???)

They sent a link (so helpful!) to the offending site, and sure enough, there’s my book on a French site—FNAC, actually, where I used to go shopping when I lived in Paris 20 years ago. How do I like them pommes? Not very much.

I contacted Smashwords about this, and got an immediate (human!) email response. They are going to work on getting this down, and they didn’t even call me a traitor for leaving them. Sniff, sniff!

Back on Amazon, my discount promo was taken down within an hour.

So, word to the wise, if you want to play with KDP, go ahead, but take advantage of KDP Select before you upload to Smashwords. Your iTunes, B&N, etc. friends will grumble, but it will definitely save your grief and time.

April 24th, 2014 by Olivia Boler

Kindle Countdown Deal

I’m putting on my retail cap to tell you that from now through April 30, 2014 (that’s a Wednesday), the Kindle version of The Flower Bowl Spell is only 99 cents. That’s 2 bucks off the regular price, a 67% discount. What a deal! So tell your friends to buy up and enjoy the wonders of Wiccan Memphis Zhang and her crazy supporting cast members.

Click here to go straight to The Flower Bowl Spell Amazon page. Happy reading!

March 9th, 2014 by Olivia Boler

First Post of 2014 (Yeah, I Know It’s March)

Oh blog, I did not mean to forsake you. Simply, I have been busy avoiding you. Do I offend?

Whine time: Busy with freelance work, busy (sometimes, not often enough) writing or editing “real” work, family emergency, shepherding our 25-year-old cat to his next plane of existence, PTA, kids, blah blah blah.

But lately: I might have a piece or two in a new anthology due out in the near future. Exciting! Possibly a poem and/or a personal essay-story-memoir thing. More details soon…

And…

I might edit a friend’s picture book. (We’ll see. It’s nice to be asked.)

And…

A 6th grader might interview me  for a school assignment as I wear my Published Author hat…

And…

 The Flower Bowl Spell will soon be featured on the awesome online magazine Underground Book Reviews. I am too excited! They only review one book a week, so, whether it winds up being a positive review or a critical one, it’s nice to know they’re selective.

Seems more folks are checking out my blog, including those around the proverbial water cooler. One person asked me about progress on my latest project (which feels like a cracking of the whip), and another asked for advice about publishing his personal story with the help of a professional author. (It’s a juicy one. The story, not the author.) All of this means I need to be more on the ball with ye olde blogge.

And…here I am, rolling it along.

Happy Daylight Savings, folks! Must hup-two.

May 3rd, 2013 by Olivia Boler

ForeWord Reviews & Me

I’ve been writing reviews for ForeWord Reviews magazine for about 100 years, ever since they were kind enough to write a nice review of my first novel, Year of the Smoke Girl. I’ve since moved on to writing for their offshoot, Clarion, and have become a de facto poetry reviewer. I’ve always admired poetry, have lots of friends who are poets, but am myself not a master (or mistress) of the genre.

This week, the Executive Editor of ForeWord Reviews, Howard Lovy, featured me in his weekly newsletter. To see it click here.

 

foreword cover 2

 

Yay, fun! And Happy May.

 

January 25th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Happy Anniversary Giveaway!

 

My Book—My Kindle

One year ago, I uploaded my novel The Flower Bowl Spell to Smashwords. It quietly “went live,” and I was the first person to download it. How thrilling to see it on my iPad amongst my other books! The next day, I put it on Amazon, and bought it a second time, this time for my Kindle. Wow! There it was amongst Little Women and The Passage. What a trip!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a Giveaway, powered by Rafflecopter. One lucky winner will get a $25 Amazon gift card. Answer one question to enter. Like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, tweet about the giveaway, and/or buy a copy of my book for more chances to win. The raffle closes on February 10, 2013, which happens to be Chinese New Year’s day. Click here now to enter for your chance to win.

By the way, this coming year is the Year of the Serpent. “Steady focus and attention to detail” will be the name of the game according to HanBan.com. Sounds like a plan.

January 9th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

The Next Big Thing

Happy 2013! This post is a chain self-interview about my next book project. I’ve read the blog chain started on She Writes a few months ago. My author pal Dina Santorelli tapped me to take part, and I want to thank her for thinking of me. In return, I’ve asked my writer friends Siobhan Fallon and Roger Colby to post their own interviews next week, so be sure to check out their answers.

  1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?
    I have a few irons in the fire including a short story collection, an upmarket women’s fiction novel, and a sequel to The Flower Bowl Spell. I’ll talk about that even though it’s in the crappy first draft stage. The working title is The Flower Bowl Ghost.
  2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
    The idea comes from my first book about Memphis Zhang, The Flower Bowl Spell. She’s an intriguing character, and there were some unanswered questions in the first book. I think it’ll be fun to find out what happens next.
  3. What genre does your book fall under?
    Good question! I guess it falls under urban fantasy, although I’m not really sure. It’s too plot-driven to be magic realism, I suppose.
  4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
    A fun thought. I think Memphis could be played by Olivia Munn. Bradley Cooper could be Cooper! (Kismet!) Harry Shum, Jr. would be fantastic as Tyson.
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    A young, powerful San Francisco witch discovers her dark side—and likes it.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
    Self-published.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
    Um, too long? But I was able to get it all out with the help of NaNoWriMo last November.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    A Discovery of Witches, the Sookie Stackhouse series.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    My fount of inspiration bubbled up from my Wiccan research. I wanted to get to know that culture beyond what I had seen in TV shows and books. Then I decided to write my own fictional account of a Wiccan. It seemed fun, and it was!
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
    I published The Flower Bowl Spell almost a year ago as an e-book and then later as a paperback. To celebrate the upcoming first anniversary, I’m planning a giveaway. Stay tuned!
October 26th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Been There Done That: The Agent Search Revisited

I’m starting the quest for an agent again. Why would I do this to myself? Why would I endure this agony? This time, I’m looking for representation for a children’s chapter book I drafted over the summer. I won’t say too much about it (no jinxies, please), except that I think it has a shot, yet I can’t really say why. And that’s why—it’s been said, but I’ll say it again!—authors should not be relied upon to promote their own work!

Someone I know and respect in the biz read my query letter and said I need to point out what makes my book special. What makes it different from all the other children’s chapter books out there? At the same time, how is it similar? Why would kids want to read it, and why would a publisher want to buy it? What’s commercial about it?

This is the stuff that drives me crazy and makes me want to call it quits. I went for a walk/errand-run this afternoon, which is often how I work things out that are bugging me. But my brain is tired. I imagine what it would look like if I got an MRI. There would be this dark, dead zone where creativity and problem solving happen. I’m pretty sure of it.

I should try to end this post on a positive note, so I’ll put this out there: Maybe all I need is a nap.

Go, Giants!

August 13th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Holding Pattern

Ever since I got back from a week of camping (bliss: no cell phone or Wi-Fi access!), I haven’t been writing, or promoting, or much of anything. I’ve been reading, trying to find a book that will hold my attention and get me jazzed, but that’s been tough too. As far as writing goes, I’m at a bit of a standstill. I finished a draft of a children’s chapter book, and my first readers (my kid and the husband) gave it a thumbs up. My writing group will critique it later this week, and I’m going to a workshop in a couple of weeks at Book Passage with Amy Novesky, so I hope to get some good insight there as well.

What I Did on Summer Vacation
What I Did on Summer Vacation

Here’s the brutal truth: sales have slowed way down on The Flower Bowl Spell. I know I can only hold myself responsible for that. Most sales have been to friends, family, and the occasional acquaintance. I doubt a total stranger has bought the book (not counting the freebies downloaded during E-book Week on Smashwords back in March). If I could “break in” to the stranger market—sounds weird, I know—then maybe sales would take off. But for now, I’m dialing back promotion because it hasn’t really paid off. I did two blog tours this summer, working my butt off writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions and visiting the host blogs. Yet there wasn’t a pick-up in book sales.

Consequently, at this point I can’t justify the cost (editing, book cover) it would take to put out a second book. I’m in a wait-and-see mode. A holding pattern.
Part of this limbo has to do with my non-author life. My kids are about to head back to school, which means soon there will be more of a routine in place for us all (although more stress as we navigate homework and after-school activities, among other things). Another part is my freelance-writer life, and thank goodness it’s alive and kicking to help with the bills, etc.

Things are bound to change—of course I want to put out a second book! Most likely it will be a short-story collection, because that’s what is the most ready and polished. I also hope to query agents about the children’s chapter book sooner than later. I would love for it to be out there, published by a traditional press that can support it as a series.

We shall see. Time will tell. It always does.

July 18th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Writing Dangerously

Marissa Mayer’s new job has been front-page stuff the past few days. If you happen to live in a cave, Mayer is the new CEO and President of Yahoo!, having been poached from her Google post. I know pretty much nothing more about her except that she’s photogenic, she’s 37, she wears pretty ball gowns to gala openings at old-school venues like the San Francisco Ballet or Opera, and she must be (this is my assumption because I have yet to Google her, ha ha) pretty damn smart. She’s also 6 months pregnant with her first baby, due in October, and today’s NPR brouhaha was about whether she’ll be fit to run Yahoo! while on maternity leave and in the months after that. Why not ask about her fitness now? I was already getting mushy in the head with my first pregnancy as I noted in a San Francisco Chronicle Magazine article way back when. Anyway, I wish her all the best. And I wish she’d fund my next book project.

Marissa Mayer headshot

Speaking of, a couple of days ago, I decided to try to raise money to write for one night this coming November at the NaNoWriMo Night of Writing Dangerously. A nice person posted about it on one of the stops of my Bewitching Book Tour, so I did a little research. Since it takes place in San Francisco, looks like there’s some nice swag, and seems non-intimidating and fun, I thought, what the hey? Plus, if I can get you lovely people to help me raise the money to go (all proceeds are plowed back into NaNoWriMo’s non-profit do-goodery The Office of Letters and Light), that would be the cat’s pajamas, or whatever the saying is. If you’re interesting in sponsoring me, click here and thank you in advance.

In the meantime, there are a few stops left on my Bewitching Blog Tour. Go here to see the schedule and please tell your friends.

Question of the day: Can today’s working mom have it all? What is “it” anyway?

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