In this blast-from-the-past interview with Lucy Pireel in her Author Spotlight blog, I discuss several facets of authoring and how I handle them. Click. Read. Enjoy.
Time truly flies when you’re having fun–and when you are busy. I apologize for the long delay between updates; it has been a very busy and productive last few months. I plan to post a lot of pictures, videos, and news in the coming weeks.
As 2017 reaches the halfway point, I am repointing and refocusing my efforts on current research and writing projects, and fewer ghost investigations. Not that there is anything wrong with ghost hunting, but planning the investigations, the travel involved, and spending weeks reviewing evidence takes a LOT of time. And so does writing. Finding the time to investigate hauntings, research cases, and write books, all at once, and hoping for the proverbial “big bang,” is daunting at best. Any more ghost investigations? You betcha–but just not as frequently (for a while). It is now time to catch up on my writing projects.
I have several works in progress, some of which are near completion. In my queue is a new, revised edition of “The Bell Witch: The Full Account,” a sequel to “Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” entitled, “More Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” and two new, first edition books: “The Outlaws and Ghosts of The Natchez Trace” and “From Turkey Creek – A Memoir.” The Natchez Trace book is in its early stages, and Turkey Creek is almost finished.
You will be hearing much more about these titles, as well as release dates and upcoming appearances, through more frequent updates of this web site/blog. I will also be sharing pictures from various ghost investigations and my travels.
In the meantime, I leave you with a video from a ghost investigation near Jackson, Tennessee, conducted on January 21, 2017. Three of us investigated an 1850s-era church building and Masonic hall, and the graveyard behind it, which dates back to the early 1820s. Activity was fast and furious, so much that we brought a much larger group for another investigation on June 24th; we encountered the same results. The area is chock full of history. Watch the video and read the captions for more information!
Thanks for watching. See you soon!
The Facebook pages for two of my three upcoming books are now online. They’re new, and I’m still moving in, but please feel free to “like” those pages. By doing so, you will receive periodic updates on the progress of each book, as well as release dates, signings, and other events! Just click on the title.
And not just Facebook, but web site and blog friends as well!
It was a busy 2013, with lots of promotions, writing, editing, and new research–the usual stuff. Ok, I’ll take some of that back. I didn’t do much writing this year; instead, I chose to concentrate on editing and promotion. Promoting my current titles and platform will build a stronger base from which to release my 2014 and 2015 titles. Likewise, editing moves those titles along to completion. Yes, my eyes are on the future. With 2013 being a paradigm-shifting year for authors, publishers, and most of all, readers, it was important to reevaluate, redesign, and rebuild my author platform. The REAL “three R’s.” I hope other authors have done this, too, as times are changing.
The final edit of From Turkey Creek – A Memoir is now complete, and I’m still looking for a suitable cover. I’ve been searching the past three years and haven’t found anything that comes even close to visually capturing the “Turkey Creek experience.” But then again, that’s why I’m writing the book in the first place–it was the most unique place on earth! I’m not releasing the book until I “get it right,” which includes the front and back covers. Regarding other titles, the new and updated Bell Witch book is coming along nicely; I’ll continue writing until June, and then I’ll do the pre-edit before sending it to a REAL editor. Also, several awesome short story and research opportunities have surfaced lately, and I plan to become heavily involved with all of them.
Over the next few days, however, I’ll be in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to research another haunted location–one that’s completely INFESTED with ghosts–and I might do a little writing, as well.
Ever thought about writing a book? Ever wonder what it’s like being an author? Have you wondered what’s involved with writing and publishing a book?
Do you know the best ways to promote a book? Do want the lowdown on book signings and how to make them work for you?
Whether you’re an author or an author wannabee, come join historical fiction author Lori Crane, myself, and four other authors as we discuss our careers, our thoughts, our processes, our books, and the secrets (and pitfalls) that all aspiring authors need to know about!
Saturday, November 16, 2013 – 4p-5p Eastern, 3p-4p Central
Go to TweetChat (www.tweetchat.com) a few minutes before the chat, to sign up. Then, simply enter the following hashtag to follow and participate in the chat: #ellyhays
This is Part One of my pseudo-sarcastic series about destroying one’s credibility as an author. I’m not being mean, and I’m definitely not pointing my finger at anyone; I’m just tired of seeing the same old unsavory practices all day, every day. Writing a book is hard, I know. But who said writing is an author’s only job? Granted, writing is the most important part of an author’s job, but non-writing responsibilities, such as promotion, time management, financial management, and public relations, also play a role in achieving success as an author, especially if you’re an independent, or “indie” author.
The manner in which independent authors perform the non-writing aspects of their jobs speaks not only for the individual authors, but for all independent authors. When many authors make the same mistakes again and again, the book-buying public lumps all independent authors together. And that’s when you read such comments as, “Oh yeah, invincible self-published authors and their massive, vapor-filled ego bubbles,” or, “Our publication no longer reviews self-published books because the authors lash out at us if we give their books less-than-stellar reviews.” Sound familiar? And speaking of reviews… Part One of my series deals with handling bad reviews.
~ How to Mishandle Bad Reviews and Destroy Your Credibility and Reputation ~
1) When you receive a bad review, immediately “lash out” at the reviewer. Call them a jerk, and insist that they don’t understand the book or, alternatively, that they had read the book through their eyes instead of your eyes. If the review noted spelling or gramattical errors, simply tell the reviewer, “Nobody’s perfect! A few errors aren’t a big deal.”
The reality: Reviews are for readers, not authors. The author’s job is to create a reading experience for the reader, and then back away. Commenting back on reviews is authorial intrusion at its worst, and in addition to eroding your credibility and reputation as an author, it will likely earn you more bad reviews and/or a spot on one of the many “misbehaving authors to avoid” lists. To put it bluntly, when you receive a bad review, suck it up and move on. Unless the review contains profanity, racism, or a very explicit personal attack, nobody is going to remove it for you.
But, what if a competing author, their publisher, or someone who hates you submits a trash review? Sadly, it happens all the time. It has happened to me twice, plus a third review came from someone who exploded when I didn’t support their relative a local election. There’s nothing you can do about it, although karma usually wins out over the long run. I’ll tell you that story some other time. Now for the good news… Readers are smart! Most readers can spot a “rigged” review faster than you can spot one, and they often vote down bogus reviews as being “not helpful.”
Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s suppose a valid customer submits a bad review and goes into detail. Send them a check! Really. They’ve done what most people won’t do without a fee. They’ve pointed out things you need to work on. Such bad reviews are invaluable in developing and furthering your writing career.
2) When you receive a bad review, vote it down and ask your friends, relatives, and forum buddies to vote it down or leave nasty comments. You can easily bury the bad review, and potential customers will see only good reviews unless they spend oodles of time digging–and most won’t.
The reality: Again, reviews are for readers, not authors. Also, a review’s helpfulness rating influences book-buying decisions. Voting down (or up) a review is manipulating, or “gaming” the system to make one’s book appear better or more popular than it really is. It is a deliberate and willful misrepresentation of a material fact, for the purpose of achieving financial gain. And yes, the F-word applies here: Fraud. Gaming the system not only damages your credibility and reputation as an author, it also calls into question your integrity as a human being–by making you appear as someone who will “do anything for a dollar, even if you have to mislead people.”
3) If a competing book is more successful than your book, or if you’re afraid it will become more successful, visit every review site on the internet and give it trash reviews.
The reality: Much has been said about this practice, but nothing good. I can’t think of anything more unprofessional or unethical than an author’s trashing of a competing author’s book. Sure, authors have the right to an opinion, but sometimes opinions are best left unsaid, especially when an obvious conflict of interest exists. As I said earlier, readers are smart. If you trash the work of your competitors, readers will catch on and your plan will backfire.
Now, a few parting words. You shouldn’t over-analyze reviews; weigh them and move on. If a reviewer gives useful tips, take them to heart. If you receive tons of great reviews, pat yourself on the back, but don’t think you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. If you get lots of bad reviews, take a close look at your writing; you might need to develop and hone your skills. And remember that reviews aren’t about you; reviews are about your books, by readers and for readers. Step back. Don’t intrude. Allow readers to give their opinions and to judge for themselves the merits of other reviews.
The bottom line: If you get a bad review, don’t make an ass of yourself.
Up Next Week: Part Two – Getting Sucked Into the Virtual Whirlwind of the Internet, aka, the ClickFest
#amreading #amwriting #books
The findings of some interesting studies about book-buyer behavior were released this past week. One study found that book-buyers “discover” books and authors most often through word of mouth. The study also found that most people go online to buy the books they discover through word of mouth. Let’s put these two findings together.
Sally will tell John, perhaps at dinner, “Hey, I just finished reading a GREAT new book by so-and-so!” And John will surf to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order a copy. Simple enough. Or is it? Let’s think about it. John listens to a verbal book review from someone he knows and trusts, and he goes online–where millions of book descriptions and reviews already exist–to purchase the book Sally had recommended at dinner.
John represents the many book-buyers who, according to the recent study, discover books and authors through friends rather than the internet–but then go online to buy the books. The internet boasts millions of books, each with an inviting description and a list of reviews. There are also author and publisher web sites and blogs, and thousands of daily tweets about every type of book imaginable. Why are people so reluctant to use the internet and its many book descriptions and reviews to learn of new authors and books?
Enticing book descriptions and over-the-top sales pitches fall flat without validation. Book hype comes from authors, publishers, and booksellers–those who cash in when a book sells. That’s why many book buyers turn to word of mouth and reviews for the lowdown. Enter authors, publishers, and booksellers–yes, again.
The lack of credible, unbiased reviews online has created a disconnect between discovery and purchase. Customers are left not knowing what to believe when they ponder a book purchase; making an informed decision becomes a game of roulette.
At one end of the review continuum are authors and publishers who, using fake names, litter competing books with vague, unfounded one-star reviews in hopes of redirecting would-be customers to their own books. Such literary smear campaigns cheat readers out of potentially good reads, and rob authors and publishers of potential sales. At the opposite end of the continuum are authors and publishers who, again, using fake names, shower their own books with glamorous five-star reviews in hopes of boosting sales. Such embellishment usually leads to buyer remorse, which, in turn, leads to bad reviews. Can you spell “Backfire?”
For a book review to be credible, it must be written by someone who has actually read the book and who doesn’t stand to gain financially from the book’s success or failure. Very simple. However, with the many profit-driven fake reviewers on the internet, and with all the one- and five-star reviews (but nothing in between) given to many single titles, it’s difficult for book-buyers to go online and make informed buying decisions based on reviews. It’s no wonder why people prefer to discover books and authors through word of mouth rather than through the internet. People are more inclined to believe people they know and trust.
Some online booksellers have taken measures to ensure review integrity, but none have succeeded. In fact, one retailer, who routinely deletes five-star reviews believed fake, but who doesn’t delete fake one-star reviews, openly states that people are not required to purchase or read a book in order to review it on their web site. Say what? Yes, it’s true. Quality and integrity controls for online reviews are needed across the board. Customers should be able to read genuine book reviews and make informed purchasing decisions without getting sucked into the invisible whirlwind we call bookbiz cut-throat drama.