All posts by lrwlee

Are Authors…Mentally Unstable?

63d33527-3349-4cd8-967c-d8b2f02f2a58I’m just gonna put it out there: After several years in the publishing industry I’ve concluded authors are either nuts or sadistic. There, I said it.

Why have I come to that conclusion? We take a brilliant idea, build a world, add characters and put them through horrendous obstacles. And if we’re good writers, we wrench our reader’s emotions in an oh so unkind way in the process. Why? Because they like it (I’ll not go into that mental disorder at the moment). At some point, we play god and let our characters overcome their obstacles returning the reader to the world from which they wished to escape for a time. But even then, we know the readers, too, are sadistic enough to want to put the characters through another set of equally wretched problems in the future. In fact, we authors hope for it.

If you’ve been mentally unbalanced (I mean, an author) for any amount of time, you know that’s fifty percent of your job. Only fifty percent, you say? (Please ignore the fact that I’m talking to myself. It’s nothing really). Absolutely. Don’t deny you long to prey on increasing numbers of victims (readers, I mean), inflicting your brand of mental instability on them to create an addiction. And there’s only one way to do that… that nasty “m” word (and no, it’s not mental institution): Marketing.

For many authors, especially if you’re indie published and write middle grade fiction, that ‘m’ word causes either silver bullet psychosis or severe depression—both states manifest the underlying malaise in which we authors live. We all want to sell more books, but how do we get noticed? As one who has suffered from this disability right along with you over the last four years, I’d like to share what I’ve found to work for me and my Andy Smithson, MG/YA coming-of-age, fantasy adventure series. A word of warning: you’ll not find any silver bullets. But perhaps you can take away a nugget or two and see if it’ll work for you.

The middle grade fiction market is tough. Our readers, in large part, aren’t old enough tokids-reading be online. Some authors go the school visit route and proclaim success, but I’ve never found those opportunities turn a profit. If your objective is to sell thousands of books and become a full time author you need to scale your efforts.

Since I published the first book in my series back in April 2013, I’ve distributed over 200,000 books. But even with that, I’m unknown to most book buyers. I’m going to assume you’ve been in this business for some time and already follow traditional advice and practices (professionally designed book cover, professionally edited content, write more books, etc).

I’m always looking to see what actions produce the greatest return. Some folks rave about social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc). Blogs are much the same. While I have over 50k Twitter followers, based on Twitter stats, I don’t see much interaction happening there. And Facebook pretty much makes you pay to talk to your followers which I refuse to do. My blog isn’t much better. Sure I post periodically, but a single post doesn’t usually get much traction.

Don’t get me wrong, these tactics used to work, but they don’t anymore. So what’s an author to do to sell more books these days? What I’ve found is as follows:

First, permanently set the price of one of your books to free and use it to give potential readers the opportunity to get to know you and your work at no cost to them. If they like the first book, they’ll buy more.

Second, run promos on BookBub and similar reputable sites. These sites have gathered thousands of email addresses of interested readers and they send them deals on discounted books daily. I’ve run five BookBub promos since I started, all promoting my freebie novel, and I’m never disappointed. The initial downloads get the freebie out there and the follow up sales of the rest of the books in my series make it profitable. The key is to get the freebie novel out there. After that it’s just math that determines success.

email-envelope_originalThird, turn yourself into BookBub. What I mean by that is make building your own email list a priority. As you’ve probably found by now, BookBub is very selective. But what would it be like to have an email list of your own, of readers interested in YOUR books that you can contact whenever you want. You only need a handful or two of raving fans to make a go of publishing as a career. I’ve taken to running Facebook ads, giving away my freebie, book one in the series, as the enticement to sign up. Yes, it’s an investment, but isn’t it worth it if you can build a career?

Fourth, rewrite your weakest book. I think we would all agree that our first book is our weakest. Back in January 2016, when I published the fifth book in the Andy Smithson series, I committed to rewriting my weakest book. It had been four years of learning and improving my craft and I knew I had grown as a writer. I knew that even though I give it away free, it is the determining factor of whether folks chose to buy the next book in the series, or not. Since republishing it in March, I’ve seen book two’s sales steadily increase month over month. In fact, the improvement has rejuvenated sales of the entire series. Now that I’m about to publish book six with the final book seven to follow, my revenue is growing.

A final word: The publishing industry is constantly changing. Strive to do the same. Blogs, free social media, and similar tactics used to sell books. They don’t anymore (except this blog–Emblazoners LOL!). Stay informed as to the current trends by listening to podcasts like The Sell More Books Show or Self Publishing Formula. Join Facebook author groups with authors who aspire to become self employed from their publishing efforts. Take the time to fill your mind with narratives that will help you succeed as an author at this time in history.

If you found this post informative and helpful, I encourage you to join my email list at LRWLee.com. You’ll get the first book in the Andy Smithson series for free at the same time!

Final_300x300L. R. W. Lee is the award-winning author of the Andy Smithson juvenile fiction series of epic fantasy books for kids 9 to 99 including teens and young adult, set in medieval times with knight, magic and mythical adventures. Her characters are young and fearless, but in real life L. R. W. can’t handle scary movies, Stephen King novels, or cockroaches. She knows she wouldn’t last long in one of her books. Nope. But give her a drink and a Hawaiian sunset and she’ll be just fine.

She lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Their two children have flown the coop. One came to roost at Microsoft and the other in the Air Force.

New Release!

Cover_Bk5_200x300When it rains, it pours…or so the saying goes. Yesterday fellow Emblazoner, Mikey Brooks released a new book and today I’m releasing the long awaited book five in the award-winning Andy Smithson epic fantasy series, Vision of the Griffin’s Heart!

Synopsis: The evil Abbadon, king of Oomladee’s northern neighbor Hadession, steps up his attacks on Andy and Mom at home in Lakehills, TX over the next year, unnerving Andy as he overhears speculation that Methuselah may no longer be able to defeat this nemesis. But why?

Over a year later, Andy arrives back in Oomaldee to tensions running high as more and more citizens are turned into zolt. But there’s more going on than meets the eye, for the effectiveness of Abaddon’s strikes reveal he’s getting inside information. Could there a spy in their midst?

Despite the chaos, Andy receives a clue for the fifth ingredient needed for the curse-breaking potion, the claw of a griffin. There’s one not-so-small problem however–griffins guard the land of Carta’s gold and silver mines and don’t take kindly to humans. While away in Carta, fears over an imminent attack materialize and Abaddon with his new mage, Fides, enact a campaign of terror no one could have imagined!

Get book on Amazon

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Final_300x300 L. R. W. Lee is the award-winning author of the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series which will span seven books when complete.

She writes to instill in readers life-principles including overcoming frustration, fear, impatience and more. She also weaves throughout her writing her narrative that true success in life comes from pursuing responsibility, diligence, and dignity.

Visit her at her website at LRWLee.com to find out more.

#ThanksgivingIn5Words

ThanksgivingPic2Recently #ThanksgivingIn5Words trended on Twitter. Among the plethora of submissions a few I thought were particularly fun and poignant included:

Family isn’t here, that’s nice
Real men kill their turkey
Have the Cowboys lost yet?
Stuck at the kiddie table.
Coerced family reunion and gluttony.
Loud music drowns out relatives.
So stuffed, must lay down
Instead of Turkey, Pardons Hillary (referring to POTUS)
First world problems over dinner
Vegan cousin won’t shut up
One day off for chickens.
Today turkey lives don’t matter.
Three hours till Wallmart riot
Turkey, family, dysfunction, xanax, vodka

And a few with a more reflective mood:
Getting together with good friends.
THANK YOU to our Military!!!
Be thankful every single day

For no reason other than pure curiosity, I enjoy researching my family history from time to time. Just this past week, I was able to finally link one branch of my family tree way back to 1480!  Leonardo da Vinci was painting and the age of European exploration had begun. I also found that one of my ancestors, having crossed the ocean in a sailing vessel, was an early settler in Fairfax, CT in 1635, one of the settlements that later became the colony of Connecticut. With the possible exception of two or three notable figures, my “kin” were not famous for brilliant inventions that changed the world, politicians or even industrialists, but ordinary farmers and laborers working hard to get by. Unless you are American Indian or your family came to the United States more recently, you probably have a similar story to tell.

Discovering these ancestors got me reflecting. In every branch of my family tree, one person was inspired to leave what was familiar, get on a ship, cross the daunting ocean, and start a new life in America with only the hope that life would be different. While I’m sure many left because of religious persecution back in the 1600s and more for economic opportunity in the 1800s, a decision to leave everything they knew for a completely unfamiliar situation had to have been difficult. But they did it, nonetheless.

Don’t gloss over that, but take a minute to reflect. What a scary decision that had to have been with significant and lasting consequences. They arrived in America and had to start over—build or find housing, perhaps learn a new language, establish an occupation, endure brutal winters, survive disease, and more. But it is because of these people, enduring all they did, that we are here today, enjoying the freedoms we do in the USA. I’ve been a CPA, a company founder, and now I’m an author. You’ve probably changed occupations multiple times as well. We can be anything we want to be and do anything (legal 🙂 ) we want to do.

Perhaps because of the recent Paris attacks and being reminded how fragile life is, I am drawn to deeply appreciate the struggles and hardships my ancestors endured. I’m clear they did it to improve their lives and the lives of their children, but I am a beneficiary of their actions. So this Thanksgiving, I stop and thank those who came before—those who made that tough decision to radically change where they lived, not knowing what they would face or if they would endure, but with hope alone to guide them.

May your Thanksgiving be one of reflection and giving thanks for the bounty we enjoy every day and for the choices and endurance it took to be able to do so.

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series.

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Final_300x300L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson coming-of-age, epic fantasy adventure series of which four of the seven total books have been released to date. Book five in the series, Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, will be released January 13, 2016.

She writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Her daughter is a senior at UT, Austin and her son serves in the Air Force.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

My Second Father

1949: The boy peered out from his hiding place as the soldiers grabbed Father and lead him away—every fiber of his being longed to cry out at the injustice, but he dared not. Father’s crime: graduating from an American university, St. John’s University in Shanghai, the Harvard of China. And now the Communists considered him a threat to their new power and they imprisoned folks like that. The boy knew what would happen now: his two brothers and three sisters would go to live with Grandpa and Grandma. He and Mother would flee to Taiwan for he was the eldest son, the one the family’s line depended upon.

So began the inspiring true life story of my father-in-law when he and his mother fled to Taiwan to escape the Communist’s takeover of mainland China. We hear many inspiring stories, but few have the opportunity to live beside someone who endured and overcome adversity as he did.

His story: Arriving in an unfamiliar country, he and Mother got along as best as they could on the money she had brought with her. But within a year, she started feeling sick and within two she died of cancer. The boy who was just starting his freshman year of high school, felt completely lost. Despair nearly won, but when things seemed darkest, one of his high school teachers reached out to a contact at the China Daily News and helped him get a job as a laborer. For a year the boy fetched tea, delivered messages and did all manner of tasks in the evenings, while keeping up his studies during the day. His efforts earned him enough to live on and helped him begin building a foundation for his future. As he started his sophomore year, his superiors promoted him to a proofreader.

Graduation brought with it the challenge of passing an exam in order to enroll in university. After much studying, he succeeded and began a two year course in Journalism. At night he continued his work for the newspaper while pursuing coursework during the day. He graduated and the newspaper promoted him to Reporter. He covered all types of events for three years in Taiwan before they sent him to Qimei, an island off Taiwan. While there, he covered one particular story in more depth than usual, for he had met a woman he took a liking to. At the end of a year when the newspaper called him back to Taiwan, he proposed marriage and she accepted.

Upon his return, the newspaper again promoted him, this time to editor. Seeking to improve their future, the young man again enrolled in college, this time to earn a degree in western literature in order to teach English to high school students. For three years he pursued his degree during the day and continued working for the newspaper in the evening. Upon graduation, he began work as a teacher while continuing his role as editor at night. Finally feeling he was enough ahead to support a wife, he and his beloved married.

Life seemed finally to have reached some measure of stability for the couple as they welcomed their first child two years later. But with the birth of a son, the young man’s ambitions grew. He longed to provide the opportunity for an even better life. Considering his options, he believed the United States was that possibility. But getting into the graduate school through which he could ultimately accomplish that, the School of International Law and Diplomacy, was extremely competitive. Only the top five finalists on the qualifying exam, out of several hundred applicants, would be admitted. After much studying, he sat for the exam and against long odds, he finished among the top five!

As the young man pursued his studies the couple welcomed their second child, a little girl. And with her arrival, the young man’s resolve to create greater opportunity deepened further. Just before he graduated, he sat for and passed the exam to become a career diplomat. Upon graduation, the Taiwanese government put him to work in the Foreign Affairs office where he worked until they sent him to be a representative to El Salvador.

The son and daughter, age five and three at the time, adapted to life in a strange country with a strange language and strange customs. Five years later, after the young man and his wife had saved enough to start over in the United States, he resigned from the Foreign Service and immigrated with his family to Kansas City.

Starting over was difficult, but the young man had done it before. And this time he was not alone. In order to immigrate, the young man had to enroll in college and pursue a degree, trading his diplomatic visa for a student visa which did not permit them to work. And so for two years, the family lived on savings that forbade luxuries. The son well remembers homemade clothes of remnant fabrics that begged ridicule from peers, no school supplies, and a lot of going without.

If graduations had become routine for the young man, this one was anything but, for with it he began a new career, a new life. And his children could at last flourish.

While the young man did not know his ambition and choices would significantly impact me, a WASP American, he has, for had he not worked and sacrificed all he did, my life would be nothing like it is. And so this Father’s Day, I salute my second father, Andrew Lee. Thank you for your sacrifices and your dedication to see your children prosper.

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Linda1L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson fantasy, adventure series of which four of the seven total books have been released to date. Book five in the series, Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, is expected in Winter 2015.

She writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Her daughter is a senior at UT, Austin and her son serves in the Air Force.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

(Post originally published on L. R. W. Lee’s blog at https://lrwlee.wordpress.com/)

Exciting New Release!

Bk4Cover_200x300Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace by L. R. W. Lee

When Andy Smithson landed back home from his most recent adventure in the land of Oomaldee, little did he realize the hunt the evil King Abaddon, monarch of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, would initiate to capture and punish him for thwarting his plans for eternal life for yet a third time. Meanwhile, when Methuselah, Andy’s amazong sword, unexpectedly extends in Mom’s hand while in Texas, something it has never done for him, it triggers more revelations about her past.

After a frustrating and, at times, terrifying year, Andy finally returns to Oomaldee and joins the healer, Hans’ quest to locate the only surviving heir to the throne of Cromlech. In the process, Andy and company discover the Giant’s Ring, the center of Cromlech’s healing powers, has been destroyed by Abaddon’s evil sorcerer. The situation grows dire when Andy finds that the phoenix who rose from that land millennia before has returned to be reborn and the evil mage has trapped her inside the decimated Ring. Without the freedom to collect the materials she needs to build a pyre, she will die. Andy knows failure is not an option for he needs a feather from this phoenix as the next ingredient to break the curse. Will Andy and his friends free the phoenix in time? Will they be able to fix the Ring and restore Cromlech’s healing powers? Will Andy collect a phoenix feather?

Purchase in Kindle and Paperback formats

The Buzz

“I really enjoyed this book! The author writes a thrilling action-adventure story that keeps you on the edge of your bean bag chair. I will admit, I stayed up late reading this book – it was that good! L. R. W. Lee has a talent for writing fantasy. The story flows well and has plenty of action to keep the reader wanting more. A great read!”                                                                                                      – Erik Weibel, This Kid Reviews Books (Erik is 14)
Erik awarded the book 5 Bookworms!

“L. R. W. Lee’s best book of the Andy Smithson series to date!”                                                                                                     – Richard Weatherly, Author

Watch L. R. W. Lee discuss Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace on Book Nerd Paradise on YouTube at bit.ly/1DsOOfi