Friday, March 29, 2013

Thanks and Happy Easter!

The week has come to an end, and what an eventful week it has been! The Pearls of Wisdom Tour continues next week with a number of posts from amazing authors. I hope that you have been enjoying these posts and that you've learned something in the process. At the end of the tour we are going to host a live chat on the LitPow Writer's Network Group Wall to discuss the different posts and answer any questions that you may have. So come armed with questions and comments to share. The chat will be on Tuesday April 9, at 8:00 EST. 

On a side note, this blog ~ Thoughts From a Literary Agent has hit an all time high in visitors since I started blogging.  I'd like to  give a huge THANKS to all of you for reading this blog regularly. It means so much to me that you share your time with me so generously. I will always strive to keep this blog interesting and constructive. 

Lastly, I would like to wish you all a HAPPY EASTER, and even if you don't observe this holiday, I wish you many wonderful beginnings and joy! 

Happy writing my friends!

Guest Post: Best Selling Author Monica Murphy

Welcome to the Pearls of Wisdom Blog Tour! Today's guest is Best Selling Author Monica Murphy. Monica is the author of the wonderful One Week Girlfriend. She is represented by Kimberly Whalen at Trident Media Group. Today Monica will be sharing her caveats about self publishing. Like many other self published authors, even those that like Monica became best selling sensations, they all made mistakes along the way. Here is your chance to learn from their mistakes and take an easier road to success. 

Monica's Post: Be Grateful

When Borders closed down a few years ago, I remember authors and readers were tremendously sad and worried.

How will we discover good books, the readers cried.
Who will hand sell our books to readers, the authors cried.

It was a legitimate worry. Word of mouth is important, from books to TV shows to movies to music. Discoverability is everything.

But then came along the explosion of the e-reader. And with it, the stigma attached to self-publishing lifted. The world has changed, people. There is so much content out there for readers to try and rake through. A book can get lost pretty easily.

So when I set out to self-publish One Week Girlfriend, I did it all wrong. I should’ve had more build up. I should’ve sent out more review copies to bloggers. I should’ve done a big cover reveal.

I did none of that. Not at first. I uploaded the book onto retail sites and chewed my nails hoping people would discover it. Watched my sales figures obsessively. Threw myself out there on social media sites and chatted it up with bloggers, other authors, reviewers, a handful of readers. Gave the book away to a few of those bloggers and reviewers and hoped for the best.

Girded my loins and prepared for the worst. What if they hate it? What if the book bombs? It was a chance I had to take. I love my characters. I wanted readers to discover Drew and Fable in the hopes they’d love them too.

Within days something really cool happened. I had readers contacting me on Goodreads. Where can I find your book? Is it out? I want to read it. They said this again and again. I had bloggers contact me. I had other reviewers contact me, asking to host me on their blogs. Heck, I had a wonderful woman (hi Christine!) from the Shh Moms Reading blog offer to coordinate a blog tour for me. That she was so generous with her time and cheerily arranged the entire thing blew me away.

And then I put the book on sale and somehow, it hit the USA Today Bestseller list.

It’s been a surreal ride, one that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. It’s hard to believe this has all happened in the span of two months. It feels like a lifetime ago that I put One Week Girlfriend out there and hoped for the best while secretly preparing for the worst.

So why did I entitle this post be grateful? Because I am eternally grateful to all the bloggers, the reviewers, the readers and how their word of mouth helped One Week Girlfriend gain traction. Without them, I would be nothing. They are so generous, so enthusiastic, telling their friends to read my book. Engaging with me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, sending me emails…

I love them. There are some really wonderful, supportive people out there and if I could hug them all, I would. I find that I smile a lot for absolutely no reason. I’ll be chilling on Twitter and a reader will tweet me they’re ready to give up a body part to read the next book and I’m stunned. They send me pictures of what they think Drew and Fable look like—and they’re spot on with my imagination. They message me to say they re-read the book (blows my mind people!). It’s amazing. I’m humbled by their support.

So don’t forget them, my fellow writers. Don’t forget the readers out there who could fall in love with your books, your characters, your writing. They are why we do this. Don’t get lost in your own little writing world. Don’t be afraid to reach out and contact someone. They are dying to read your work and fall head over heels in love with your books, your characters.

I just know it.

About the Author

Monica Murphy is a writer, a wife and a mom. She drinks too much coffee and spends too much time in front of her computer. She likes to read, she watches bad reality TV and she sometimes acts younger than she really is. Though most of the time she's sure her kids think she's a complete buzz kill.
One Week Girlfriend, a new adult/contemporary romance, is Monica's first book. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Lets give a special thank you to Monica for sharing her Pearls of Wisdom with us. Be sure to check out her second book, Second Chance Boyfriend  available April 9th.  

Happy writing my friends!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post: Best Selling Author J. L. Mac

Welcome to the Pearls of Wisdom Author Tour! Today's guest is USA Today and Amazon Best Selling Author J. L. Mac. Jaimi is the author with a marvelous book series titled Wrecked. The first book, WRECK ME, was self published and achieved great success hitting the lists and selling like hotcakes within a month of its release. I am now representing Jaimi's entire series and we hope to find this priceless work the perfect home to grow. Jaimi also has a number of other projects in the works. One of them is a co authored novel with Best Selling Author JB McGee. If you remember JB was our guest yesterday. Her Guest Post was like an awesome crash course on Self-Publishing 101. Because of their friendship and collaborations they have decided that their guest posts here would complement each other. So here is Jaimi's post also meant to help you publish successfully. I hope that you enjoy it!

Jaimi's Post:

I could sit here and lay out my advice in a nice neat, pleasing way but that simply is not my style. So I’ll tell you a few things I know like a normal person would if we were face to face. 

As an Indie author you venture down this road and bump along haphazardly until somehow you arrive at the end, usually intact. The ride can be crazy and stressful but oh so gratifying in the end. I can’t say that it is always work and no play because that would be a lie. For me, the most fun during the process of self-publishing is choosing my book cover.

If I had to break down the percentage that would represent the importance of each aspect of the cover between the image, title, and blurb, I’d say it’s 20% title, 30% blurb, and 50% image. The old saying about judging a book by its cover applies here. No pun intended. The fact remains that society as a whole is pretty damn shallow. Let’s be honest here. Sex sells... Every... Single... Time. 

People will always harbor a deep fascination with sex, money, danger and adventure. Excitement is the name of the game, and John and Jane Doe want in. You may be wondering why I am explaining this. I’ll tell you why. If your cover is boring, sub-par in quality, or does not really apply to the book; congratulations you’ve just sunk your own ship before it has even left port. As an Indie we face enough challenges. Don’t make the mistake of subconsciously sabotaging your success by not giving your book an amazing cover. 

That being said, here are my tips for choosing the right cover for your book... 

1.  Understand that stock photos are available to anyone and everyone. Often times the photo you choose may have been used at least once. Do your homework when you’ve found a photo that piques your interest. Check to see if anyone else has used it. It’s okay to reuse the same photo, but make sure to inform your graphic designer of the other covers and show them to him/her to avoid too much similarity.

     2.  Find a great graphic designer. Do yourself a favor and ask your designer how they create. Ask what their process is. JB McGee is the head honcho of The Indie Pixel Studio. Before she was a Best Selling author, she was a fantastic graphic designer. She has done all my covers and has a unique creative process. Once I relay the general plot to her she asks a few key questions. Once she has the information she needs I STEP AWAY. Many people make the mistake of hovering. Allow your graphic designer space to think and create. They are artists too. A great graphic designer can create magic for you if you don’t try to micromanage them. Give them a little freedom. Hear them out when they make suggestions and make every effort to work cohesively.

     3.  Have a vision for your cover and make sure to relay that vision accurately. Too often, an author comes to a designer without a defined vision for the cover of their novel. The designer is not a mind reader and can only guess so much. Don’t hop around from idea to idea. Make your decisions, picture the cover in your head and go for it. If you find yourself having trouble imagining your cover I am afraid that perhaps you have greater worries than a cover. If you can’t visualize what you want, you may want to revisit your manuscript. Reread it and make sure that you have a solid story that moves you. If you have that, seeing the cover should be easy.

4.  Choose a cover that you can stand by. Make sure that whatever you end up picking is one that you can be proud of despite what others say or think. It’s very difficult to change your mind in the Indie world. If you pay for a cover, then reveal it, then change your mind two things will happen. You’ll be out of more money and you will be confusing readers. Do it right the first time. Stick with it.

Never underestimate the importance of formatting. It’s simple really; women like pretty things. The most kick arse cover in the world will never make up for the fact that the inside is a big mess.  Make the inside of your book just as pretty as the outside. It’s amazing how small changes to your formatting can make a novel really stand out from the crowd. You will need to find a reputable, skilled formatter and they can give you more ideas on making those pages look snazzy. I personally use Fictional Formats.  It’s extremely helpful and important to be able to see a clear juxtaposition between all your media outlets and your book(s). The formatting selected becomes part of the branding.  For example; my twitter page matches my blog and my website. I have the same little symbol on the cover and on the inside of my books. These are small things that people begin to associate with me. I want someone to see my signature color scheme, style, and symbol and know that this must be J.L. Mac.

When it comes to marketing, anyone who has been a successful Indie author for any fair amount of time is a marketing genius capable of making it in corporate America.  Success comes from working hard to make a name for yourself. Sell yourself; your face; your name and your books. It’s a package deal. Be creative. Be willing to invest in your popularity. Find ways to draw the attention of your audience without clogging their news feed on social media. Be interesting. And for the love of literature, please make sure you have a nice author photo. No bathroom mirror cell phone pictures, please. That just screams unprofessional. No one will take you seriously if you won’t even take yourself seriously. Offer incentives for readers to buy your book. Momentum is key. 

Build on it and you’ll gain sales. It’s a fact of life that people can be bought. Take the movie Indecent Proposal with Demi Moore and Robert Redford, for example. He threw enough incentive wrapped in a pretty bow her direction and she couldn’t refuse. It’s a great example of what I mean when I say people can be bought if you do it right. Bait them, reel them in by being interesting, and hook them with a really great book, and voila! You’ve earned yourself a “fan”. This is invaluable information for a debuting Indie author. 

Finally, before you make a run for your therapist because you feel so overwhelmed; let’s talk reviews, specifically, about negative reviews.

Whether on Amazon, Goodreads, or someone’s personal blog a negative review feels awful just the same. It’s crappy across the board. The thing you must think about is whether or not you plan on reading these types of reviews. Everyone gets them regardless of popularity or publishing status. Indies and authors with publishing deals get reamed just the same. Some authors refuse to read reviews. Others read them with hopes to grow as a writer while trying to not allow the harsh words ruin their creative mojo. 

You’ll have to really examine who you are as a person to determine whether or not it is smart for you to read the things people say. I am a pretty thick skinned individual but there have been some reviews that sucked the creativity and drive right out of me. It’s worse than writers block. It’s more like writers coma. 

In short, negative reviews feel like crap. Make sure you can stomach them before you read them.

These things are my best advice to new Indies. I am proud to be in a community of such talented, driven people. It’s hard work self-publishing but beyond gratifying when you click that ‘publish’ button. 

Best of luck,
-J.L. Mac

About the Author: 
J.L. Mac is twenty-six years old and currently resides in El Paso, Texas, where she enjoys living near her parents and siblings. She was born and raised in Galveston, Texas, until she married her husband in July of 2005. She has two young children and is married to a soldier in the United States Army. J.L. and her family have lived all over the United States and have enjoyed each new experience in each new place. J.L. admittedly has had a long and sordid love affair with the written word and has loved every minute of it. She drinks too many glasses of wine on occasion,and says way too many swear words to be considered "lady-like." J.L. spends her free time reading, writing, and playing with her children.

About her book: 
Life can be cruel. People can be ruthless and evil. The world can be cold and uninviting. No one knows these things better than Josephine Geroux. By her own definition, she is a twenty-five year old “nobody with nothing,” and she is content to stay that way. Growing up an orphan has made her tough and indifferent to the people around her until she meets a strangely familiar man with a face that haunts her for reasons she can’t understand.

Despite the pain that will inevitably ensue, she makes it her mission to discover what parts of her tragic puzzle she is missing. On her journey to discovering why the she feels an alarming connection to an absolute stranger, her greatest fear is reawakening the demons and darkness from the past that will surely overtake her if she lets her guard down. 

Little does Josephine know that the past should be the least of her worries. She is toying with a man who has already broken her heart once. She just doesn’t realize it.
Although she makes it a point to avoid interactions with others, Josephine’s life becomes entangled with the enigmatic stranger. Before she realizes it, she has given herself over to the one person who is close enough to wreck her.

We'd like to give J. L. Mac a special thank you for sharing her pearls of wisdom with us. Check out her book Wreck Me and then you'll see what she means by a sexy cover... After reading it, you will probably agree with me that negative reviews is nothing she should be worried about. Well done Jaimi! Keep up the good work!

Happy writing my friends!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest Post: Best Selling Author J.B. McGee

Welcome to the Pearls of Wisdom Author Tour! Today's guest is Best Selling Author J.B. McGee, author of BrokenMending, and Conspiring (This Series), among other great titles. JB's advice in this post is super informative about the self publishing process. Read all the way through... And feel free to ask questions. 

J.B. McGee's Post: 

As a self-published author, I get asked a lot about the process of publishing your first book.  Honestly, for me, writing the book was the easy part.  I wrote Broken in two weeks.  Even being a computer nerd and graphic designer, the part that scared me was this new world of technology.  How would I find a reputable editor?  How would I turn this precious Microsoft Word document into an eBook?  I had never designed a cover.  I had no idea what size I needed to make it.  Maybe it was the graphic designer in me or the perfectionist, but I knew I didn’t want my book to look “indie”.So I have made three pearls of wisdom for you.  Because we are co-authoring a series,  J.L. Mac and I thought it would be nice to have our posts complement each other’s.  I hope these tidbits help you with your journey to becoming a published writer.    

1.   Treat your name like a business. I mentioned that I am a graphic designer.  Long before I ever wrote my first word, I was an entrepreneur.  I’ve run successful businesses and helped many others see their dreams  of running their own business come to fruition.  One of the best things you can do for yourself is treat your name like a business.  You are the brand, and your books are your products.  You are your own store.  Make sure that you act professionally, but more importantly, make sure that you have brand recognition.  I recommend finding a graphic designer that you work well with and sticking together.  Pick a couple of fonts that you like, at least three colors, and a pattern.  Make yourself a logo.  Use this theme on all of your promotional items, including graphics on the internet.  This will help people know that when they see that, it’s you.  First impressions mean everything.  Make sure yours are professional.  Make sure they are consistent, and make sure that you use them every opportunity you can.  I always say there is no such thing as too much good publicity.  

2.     Getting ready for publication

Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon.  Most people call it KDP.  Don’t be confused by KDP Select.  KDP Select is a 90-day program that you can sign up for when you publish.  It gives you select free days on Amazon and offers a few incentives.  But you must be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon during this 90 day period.  I am not saying this is a bad program, but think long and hard before you sign up for it as to whether it’s a good fit for you and your book.  Amazon utilizes the .mobi format.  You can preview it when you upload it into the system and even download a copy.  The cover size for Amazon is 1800px x 2700px. 

Smashwords:  Provided you don’t enroll into KDP Select, you will want your books in other retailers, especially Barnes & Nobles.  I initially used Smashwords for distribution to all other retailers.  It’s convenient to up load your book in one place and know it’s going to so many other places.  While it can seem convenient, I have discovered that without digital rights management to protect my work, some of the many places my writing ends up are piracy sites that give away my books for free.  Another downside is that although the books uploaded on Smashwords are available for download within the hour in most cases, the distribution to the premium catalog and other retailers can take weeks or even months longer. Because of this, changing prices to reflect sales and offering promotions can be incredibly difficult to organize and manage.  I do have my manuscripts available at Smashwords for download. You can also pick which retailers you would like to utilize in their premium catalog.  I recommend using all channels except Sony (Many authors have had trouble getting the pricing adjusted during sales), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and maybe Apple. is Barnes & Noble’s direct publishing website.  You can sign up for an account here much like you do KDP.  It’s very similar and easy to set up.  You will upload an .epub document to this site.  Take your Amazon cover and make the longest side 1400px while maintaining proportions.  Uploading to Barnes & Noble directly allows you greater freedom over pricing for sales and promotion.  It also will become available to your readers much more quickly.

Kobo’s website is  This is the easiest system to work with in regards to uploading books in my opinion.  You will also create an account here.  Your cover for Amazon will work nicely and your .epub that you used on Barnes & Noble is all you need.  

Apple is tricky.  If you have an Apple computer, you can sign up to be a publisher and download their Producer software.  If you don’t, then you can either use Smashwords, or you can use All Romance eBooks.  All Romance eBooks distributes the books once every two weeks.  You can upload a variety of formats to this platform.  I usually just do .mobi and .epub.  The cover for their site is 200px x 300px.  The cover for Apple will be 1400px x 2100px.  Again, just maintain proportions on your Amazon cover and change one of the sides.  It will automatically adjust the entire image for you.  If you don’t maintain proportions, your cover will be distorted. 

Paperbacks are done through Amazon at Createspace.  You must have a different format for this and a different ISBN number.  You aren’t required to have an ISBN for Amazon’s KDP, but at Smashwords you can get one for free for your eBook and use it across the other retailers.  I recommend always having an ISBN and copyright on your books. Createspace also requires a different cover image, a jacket (which includes the back and spine).  You can’t have this designed until your final format and you have an exact page count.  Createspace offers a free Cover Creator software.  I highly recommend that you do not skimp on your cover.  Remember, first impressions are everything.

3.  Being found and interaction. Lastly, you can have the best everything.  None of that will matter if no one knows who you are.  Make accounts on every social media outlet you can find.  Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.  Again, there is no such thing as too much good publicity.  You want your name plastered as many places as you can.  Especially if it’s free!  Make sure that you interact with fans.  You will have them.  Be nice to them.  Take time to talk to them.  Remember that even a person who writes a bad review still bought your book.  They are still a customer.  They still pay your salary.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, EVER.  Learn from your bad reviews and move forward to bigger and better things.  Don’t look back and wonder what you could have done differently.  Keep moving.  Keep growing and learning.  And most importantly, keep writing.

About J.B. McGee

J.B. McGee was born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina. After graduating from South Aiken High School, she toured Europe as a member of the 1999 International Bands of America Tour, playing the clarinet. While attending Converse College, an all-girls school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, she visited Charleston often. It quickly became one of her favorite vacation spots. She met her husband, Chad, during Christmas break her freshman year and they married in 2001. They moved back to her hometown. In 2005, the couple welcomed their first son, Noah. J.B. finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 2006. During her time studying children's literature, a professor had encouraged her to become a writer.In 2007, she welcomed their second child, Jonah, and she became a stay at home mom/entrepreneur. In 2009, they found out J.B. and their two children have Mitochondrial Disease. In 2011, a diagnosis was also given to Chad. Please take a moment and learn more about Mitochondrial Disease. Raising awareness is the key to this disease as it has no cure or treatments. J.B. McGee and her family now reside in Buford, Georgia, to be closer to their children's medical team. After a passion for reading had been re-ignited, J.B. decided to finally give writing a shot. The This Series is her first series.

Coming Soon
Forgiven ~  Coming April 19, 2013
Dig Deep, The First Book of The Deeper Series, co-authored with J.L. Mac ~ Coming May, 2013.
Falling, the companion novella to Conspiring  ~  Coming Early Summer 2013.
Blinded  ~  Coming Late Summer 2013.

Stay Connected with J.B.Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  Pinterest

I'd like to give J.B. McGee a huge thanks for sharing her pearls of wisdom with us today. I love this post, and feel like I just took a self-pub 101 course. This are great basics for anyone to get started.

Just to add a quick note on the Amazon exclusivity info... my suggestion is to always read the fine print. As an attorney I can tell you that there is nothing more important than to always know what you're getting into. Also, this is important as to timing because if you can't publish anything anywhere else, you will not be able to use these other great resources such as Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, and that can hurt your sales and availability. When you release a book it is super important to have all of these things that JB mentioned here. It is very important to have your book release on all of these mediums at the same time. That will guarantee that your sales numbers are higher and will enable you, or make it easier for you to get onto those best seller lists.

Happy writing my friends!