Launch Team Volunteers Wanted

My current work in progress,  A Body in the Belfry, the second book in The First Ladies Club series, releases in mid-December, so now is a great time to join my Launch Team.

Members of the launch team will receive an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of the book (ePub or Mobi) in exchange for posting honest reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble or other outlets of your choice on the release date, as well as spreading the word to all your friends, neighbors and far-flung relations in the meantime via word-of-mouth, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

If you blog, post a review on your blog, or post an interview with the author (that’s me!)

Send an email to jbhawker@jbhawker.com with the Subject: Launch Team and I will add you to the list.  As soon as the completed manuscript is available I will email you the ARC.

In the meantime, I will keep you up-to-date on the progress of the book, including the final cover reveal and promotional snippets to help you increase interest in the book.

Thank you for all your support!

Advertisements

Writing to the Review is like Teaching to the Test

Working in the education field, I sometimes hear teachers lamenting about how the Federal regulations have them teaching to the tests, rather than teaching children the love of learning. They say this is taking much of the joy out of their job, since they aren’t free to be creative, spontaneous and remain true to their gifts as educators.

For writers, there is a temptation to remodel our writing style to fit the comments of reviewers, in essence, to write to the review.

While we certainly need to pay attention to constructive criticism, using reader feedback to improve our craft, if we try to please every reviewer there is a risk of losing the joy of writing and of transforming our unique voice into a counterfeit, or even losing our passion for writing.

When the criticism is about the quality of my writing, I try to take it to heart and keep honing my craft.  But, when a reviewer comments on the content of the story or the personalities of the characters, I try to remember they are simply expressing a personal preference.

I recently began reading a book by a new author, planning to provide a review, but the author’s style and subject matter were so personally off-putting, I couldn’t finish reading the book. Since I was not the person this author was writing for, I chose not to post any review. I didn’t think it would be fair.

Rather than removing the essence of who I am, in an attempt to please everyone who picks up one of my books, I’m going to try to target readers who will appreciate my style by being as clear as possible about that style in every book’s description.

Someone once told me, “Follow your passion, whether anyone follows you, or not.”  If you are one who writes from the love of writing, that sounds like good advice.

Nonfiction

I currently have one weekly Christian devotional guide published and am working on a daily version. These are written under my full name, Jonna Hawker Turek, and are taken mostly from my weekly inspirational blog, Power Walking with Jonna, on WordPress.

devotional guideWriting and promoting nonfiction is completely different from producing my novels. In the novels I can try on and discard one persona after another, but nonfiction calls for authenticity and transparency. With one genre I exercise my imagination and with the other my character.

Publishing anything makes a writer vulnerable, but I am learning to take the critical reviews of my fiction without flinching; looking for the helpful within the hurtful. I haven’t promoted my devotional guide since publishing it a few months ago and I haven’t received any reviews, yet, but I’m afraid I will be completely defenseless when the unflattering ones inevitably do arrive.

This writing game isn’t for sissies.

With a little (or a lot) of help from my friends

I belong to an online support group for indie authors, and the wonderful folks who read them, called The Rave Reviews Book Club. The driving force behind this smaller, more intimate Goodreads-type group is Nonnie Jules, a powerhouse of energy dedicated to supporting and promoting her fellow authors.

This month I have the privilege of being named Member of the Month, and being a focus of social media support from the others in the group. It is a humbling experience and seems to be having an impact on the downloads and sales of my books. The Amazon ranking of my latest release, The First Ladies Club, has jumped over 600,000 places during the first week of the month.

I often read experts who say Twitter and Facebook don’t have much impact on fiction sales, but when it comes to support from other authors, they can’t be beat. At least not with such active promoters as those in the Rave Reviews Book Club.

Check them out here raveand if you like to read fresh new works, or if you are a writer who wants to network with both other authors and impassioned readers, join the group.

First Blog Book Proof Copy on its Way.

I completed the book of weekly readings for leaders of Women’s Ministries. The proof copy should arrive next week.

I’m working on the book of daily inspirational blogs and am up to April. Slower-going than the weekly entries, of course, but very satisfying work. It’s like reading an old diary and seeing how I’ve changed and how I’ve remained the same.

I just hope the books will be interesting and inspirational to the readers.

As you can see, I’m trying out a different blog style. I would welcome your comments on this new format.

Creating a Blog Book

I decided to create a book from the past six years of  posts on my weekly inspirational blog  “Power Walking with Jonna.” (Thanks, Nonnie Jules for the idea!)

Going back to categorize and evaluate this many posts is daunting.

I’m creating one book of daily devotions for women and one of weekly readings for leaders in women’s ministry. I managed to get the posts separated and then began evaluating, rewriting and winnowing the book of weekly readings first (taking the smallest bite from the elephant before tacking the main carcass).

The process has been enlightening, revealing and humiliating, in about equal parts. There’s nothing like reading through years of posts to uncover a writer’s bad habits.

I’m re-writing to remove the most egregious lapses, so hopefully the finished book won’t lay my writing faults quite so bare to the readers.

I think this exercise will probably improve my fiction writing, too, so my current chagrin will be a small price to pay for becoming an improved novelist.

 

 

Write, Promote, Hone

Being an independent author is a juggling act trying to balance creative writing, publishing, networking and marketing.

After completing and launching my last book it was time to switch to promotion-mode and I’ve spent the past month trying new marketing methods.

With my first four books I set a schedule of publishing a new book in the series every six months, leaving very little time for promotion. I felt harried much of the time and decided not to push myself with the current series. My goal was to relieve my stress levels, but in doing so I had a chance to catch my breath and see something else I had been overlooking in my urgency to publish: I had not taken the time to hone my craft.  Rather than a regimen of write, publish, promote, I should be spending time honing my craft as a very vital step. The schedule should be hone, write, hone, publish, hone, promote, hone, etc.

Taking time to study and research writing craft is essential if I hope to grow as a writer, not just amass a high number of books.

To that end, I have been reviewing some of my favorite writing texts and have found they mean more to me now that I have written a few books than they ever did before. The guidance is more real to me. I can compare the principals to my existing works, seeing where I could have improved, and I am excited to apply what I’m learning to my current work in progress.

With the accessibility of independent publishing it is tempting to shortcut the process and shortchange ourselves as maturing authors.

In this burgeoning and competitive field, I believe it will be the excellent craftsmen and women who succeed in the long run; not simply the ones with the most books or the most hits on Twitter.