So, How was Your Weekend?

A common question usually asked on a Monday morning, and the perfunctory answer is usually something along the lines of, “Great,” “Good,” “Fine,” or “didn’t do much; stayed in the house and chilled.”

I remember running this gauntlet Monday mornings at work. Truth be told, I live a reasonably uneventful life, and now that I work for myself at home, the weekend is like any other day. Why, I’ve been known to take a weekend in the middle of the standard work week.

This past weekend, however, was pretty darn special.

A Marketing I Go

For the past year, I’ve been stepping up my marketing of my written work using the guidance of The Write Services, LLC. I have a social media plan for each month with a specific, themed post for each day. (Mine go to Instagram, my Facebook Author Page, and Twitter. I’ll have links for each of my accounts, in case you want to follow, at the end of the post.)

This past Saturday (July 15) was National Give Something Away Day. I, and a lot of other authors, decided to give away a book. For the 15th and 16th (National Ice Cream Day), A War of Deception was free for Kindle.

Whenever you give anything away for free, there’s always a lot of interest. I was hoping for a modest boost into the top 100 of Free Kindle Books on the Espionage list. Actually, the top 100 would have been more than a modest boost. It would have been a moon launch.

Don’t Look!

I’m not one of those authors who checks on sales by the hour. If I did, I’d likely give up writing. In fact, I’ve avoided looking at the sales rank of any of my books. Midday on Saturday, however, I decided to take a look at how the giveaway of A War of Deception was doing.

Seventh in Espionage; 51st in thrillers; 125th in YA Thrillers. The latter, frankly, was a big surprise. There are no YA characters in my novel, unless you count the twenty-year-old college student.

To me, 7th was that moon launch. To see my book up there on the list with the Harlan Cobens, the Clive Cusslers, etc., was pretty exciting. Readers in search of a bargain downloaded 300 copies of my novel. I was content and pleased.

Excitement in Starbucks

On Sunday morning, I went to have breakfast at Starbucks and do a little #coffeeshopwriting. At about ten in the morning, I thought, “What the heck. I’ll go have a look and see if I’m still in the top 50.”

My gasp brought attention from a guy at a nearby table.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“Would you do me a favor and look at something?” I asked, showing him my computer screen.

“Sure,” he said. “What?”

“The book at number two, would you read the title?”

He gave me that, okay-I’m-talking-to-a-nut expression, but he looked and said, “A War of Deception by P. A. Duncan.”

“That’s me. That’s my book,” I said.

“Wow. Cool. I’m sitting next to a best-selling author,” he said, and went back to his phone.

In My Wildest Dreams

When you decide to be a writer, when you have work published, that phrase “best-seller” or “best-selling author” nags at you. It’s what you want to be, but you know the state of publishing; it’s never likely to be your book or you.

Of course, I imagined this for myself, but I’m a realist. I don’t call it pessimism. Rather, it’s a lifetime of things not going the way I anticipated or wanted. It’s not a pity party; it’s life. I suppose that’s why I’m not a big fan of romance novels or rom-com movies: It doesn’t always happen that way in reality. So, I’m a realist. I have stories to tell, I tell them, they get published, and that’s enough for me.

But, always, in the recesses of my brain are the two words that drive every writer: What if?

I got a great answer to that question this past weekend. For forty-eight hours, my book was a best-seller (Yes, technically, it was free; I’m using dramatic license.), and I was a best-selling author.

I’ll take those forty-eight hours, much as I did the screen shot of my book at Number Two, and keep on writing.

Which all means, when you’re the one who has to do your marketing, do it.

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Social Media Links:

Instagram: @paduncan1
Twitter: @unspywriter
Facebook Author Page: Phyllis A. Duncan, Author

I’m an E-Book Author!

I finally cracked the code on uploading my manuscripts to Amazon Publishing without formatting errors. Tucked away on an obscure “Help” page is the phrase, “Converting your file to .htm will help with formatting errors.” What? That couldn’t be in big, bold letters (capital letters) up front? That would have saved a lot of sobbing, hair-pulling, and disconsolate DM’s to writer friends. But discovering that it worked made me do a happy dance. (Good thing the web cam was off.)

Regardless, both books–Blood Vengeance and Fences–are uploaded, and if you look at the sidebar to the right, you can buy them both by clicking on the image.

If you happen to buy them, I can send you a message and a signature through Kindlegraph–who’ll be first?

So, now off to send self-serving Tweets begging people to buy my books. 😉

G&P They Ain’t So Bad

I learned grammar and punctuation a couple of generations ago from teachers who’d learned them a couple of generations before that. My approach to both, then, tends to be on the old-fashioned side; some might say pedantic. I even learned how to diagram sentences–not that I ever used it after that classroom exercise in 9th Grade.

As a result, I’m not forgiving of “experimental writing styles” and just see that as an excuse poor writers use when it’s obvious they haven’t taken the time to proofread and correct glaring errors. “A good story will shine through,” others like to say. Well, not if you can’t see the forest for the trees of bad grammar and incorrect punctuation.

If this all sounds familiar, I’ve beat this drum before, especially regarding indie or self-published authors. You can’t succumb to the lure of instant publishing and slap up a story scribbled in your journal on Amazon then wonder why you get one-star reviews for the mess. Worse than that is when friends give you five stars because they’re your friends and not necessarily editors. That fools people into buying the mess, and where that might get you a check from Amazon, I think it’s deceptive.

The counter argument comes: Oh, I’ve seen typos and grammatical errors in traditionally published works, and they still sell.

Yes, I’ll concede that–one or two per book; I’ve spotted them myself. That’s not in the league of ten or twelve per paragraph, as I’ve seen in some Indie books I’ve read.

Of course, grammar and punctuation go out the window in dialogue, especially if that fits the character. If you’re writing in first person from the point of view of an uneducated person, then precise grammar doesn’t ring true for that character.

I recently wrote a story I submitted to a contest that is all dialogue, but without quotation marks and dialogue tags. I know my 9th Grade English teacher is spinning in her grave, but for this story, it worked. And it’s grammatically correct and properly punctuated otherwise. That’s about as experimental as I get.

Grammar and punctuation don’t stifle your writerly voice. They’re icing on the cake. They make what you’ve written “look pretty” and, more importantly, read sensibly. They make you, the author, appear to readers as a true writer, someone who has taken the time to do it properly. If that makes me pedantic, so be it.

Don’t forget, go to Saturday’s post and vote for the cover of my new e-book.