What’s Up With PhotoBucket?

Photobucket.com is a cool site that allows people to upload and edit pictures in a library. I signed up mainly because it’s a free service. Plus, I needed to find a way to link photos to my sidebar on my blog.

The main reason I joined PhotoBucket–to resize images for headers and book cover dimension specifications on different ebook sites.

Yesterday I went through the routine of downloading my new Something’s Amiss ebook cover to my computer, then uploading it to PhotoBucket. I appreciated Sandra Giles’s hard work, but I wanted something that conveys the women’s fiction/romance genre. When I see ‘customer also viewed’ tabs on Amazon, the covers looked nothing like mine. I’m all for being different, but when you’re trying to sell books, sometimes it’s best to fit in.

I edited the photo like I usually do by resizing it, then saved the changes. What the–? I got a notification saying the picture can’t be over like 800 pixels. That’s not even close to ebook specifications on websites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. I almost panicked, thinking I can’t use book covers anymore unless I buy some expensive software or use the cover creator on the websites.

Load and behold, I don’t give up easily. I went to my dashboard on KDP (Amazon) and hit the basic cover creator option. I downloaded the image after picking one of the templates. It was fairly simple to remove the text the creator supplied. By saving it, the cover looks exactly how I wanted it. Yea, I found an affordable way to use book covers without having to resize. This will be handy in case cover designers don’t send the right measurements.

For all the writers out there, have you found any secrets useful in publishing your ebooks at an affordable cost?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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A Day In the Life…Celebrating Anniversaries and Making Executive Decisions

TODAY AND TOMORROW ONE BY ONE IS FREE ON AMAZON

How is that possible? Because I decided to take both of my books off of Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. The majority of my sales come from Amazon, so I might as well benefit from their awesome program they have for authors called the KDP program. This means I can determine when I want a book to be free or discounted for only .99 cents with a countdown. My books are also available in the Kindle Lending Library, meaning prime members can borrow it for free.

May 20th was my one-year anniversary of being a published author! So that was also a factor in my decision-making of giving readers a free gift. When I first started, I said that I would never give my book away. The most I would offer is a .99 cent sale. I learned along the way that offering your book free can actually be a benefit.

I lose out on getting royalties from those downloads, but I’ve reached readers willing to take a chance on me. Recently I checked Amazon, and my free ranking was #313–#10 Thriller and #13 Suspense with 762 downloads!!! That blew my mind, considering I hardly promoted the way I should have.

Maybe I’ll get reviews, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll gain fans, maybe I won’t. Maybe by the time they read my book I’ll already have something else available, maybe not. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

I thought it’d be fun to list the things I’ve learned from my first year as a self-published author. Here goes:

  • Appreciate all readers and authors who reach out to you. Staying in contact with authors who write in your genre can provide great networking opportunities concerning guest posts and sharing tips on how to reach readers. And, staying in contact with readers (without spamming) is a good way to get a feel for what they like regarding what type of stories they’d like to see from you.
  • Have patience. It takes time to build a readership. Success isn’t calculated by how many books you sale. Success means you were vulnerable to put yourself out there. You were brave. But trust me, it’s always fun to keep checking  your stats on your dashboard and see readers buying your books!
  • Research different marketing strategies. It’s not a bad idea to jump on the bandwagon if something is popular. However, you must realize that promotion/marketing doesn’t work the same for everyone. Tweak ways to make it fit your comfort level. Remember DON’T SPAM.
  • Respect readers’ opinions. If they took the time to write a book review, thank them. Don’t harass them if you didn’t like what they said. Learn from their constructive criticism and keep it moving. Reviews are for readers, not authors. You wouldn’t believe how some authors go crazy over certain wording of a book review. Not everyone will love your book. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
  • Last but not least, view the experience as a marathon, not a race. Have fun with it! Keep an open mind and you’ll be all right.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

What If A Serial Killer Lived In Your Neighborhood?

Do you know everything about your hometown? Or the surrounding cities? What if everything isn’t as peachy as individuals would want you to believe?

Winchester, VA is only about 30 minutes away from my hometown. Nothing ever happens around here. Or does it?

In the 1970’s, the police department of Winchester were puzzled by several murders. They had a serial killer on their hands named Henry Lee Allen. Did they eventually solve the crimes? Did he turn himself in? Just how disturbing was this guy? Did he put Summer of Sam to shame?

If you’d like to read the frightening details I researched about this real-life experience, please go to Micah Ackerman’s blog. He was nice enough to let me tell my horror story. I guarantee you won’t look at neighbors or strangers the same way again!

Here’s the link:  The Devil’s Den: The Twisted Story of Serial Killer Henry Lee Allen

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

It’s Early Christmas…Professional Editor Offering Reasonable Price: Reasonable Means Deeply Discounted

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I’m always giving the writing forum Absolute Write it’s props. Well, yesterday I found a gem under the beta-reader section. It’s probably every writer’s dream to get their work critiqued by a professional editor, one who has worked for publishing houses, one who has a critical eye to help improve their manuscript to the publishing industry’s standards.

What stops some writers–the high cost.

Well…

Professional editor, P.N. Elrod, is offering to critique 2,500 words of a novel or short story for only $15 (or more depending on what you’re willing to donate). The kicker–you pay AFTER you receive your critique.

If you’re interested, click the link for more details: Critique Your Writing By P.N. Elrod.

I already know that I’m sending my short story Plenty of Fish because I’d like to publish it soon.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

Author Throwing Temper Tantrum…Tsk, Tsk, Tsk

Who would have thought this 4-star review would have caused so much drama (you’ll get why I used this word in a moment)? Last time I got grief from an unprofessional author was for a 3-star review. Now, it’s for a 4-star; what’s next,  someone coming after me for a 5-star…

On Goodreads, first I got a “thank you for your kind words”, then it went downhill with the snide comment about my views on happy endings. Now I got a new message: “I can kind of get a sense of what you like (Drama) and I have a feeling that if you keep your eyes peeled you’ll find plenty of what you need in the near future…Stay tuned…I haven’t had a chance yet but I will be getting into your work shortly.”

Like I said to the last bully, thanks for the heads up. Oh and word of advice–for future readers who read your work, try not to respond to perceived negative reviews.

Geez Louise, some authors need to get a grip. Reviews are for readers, not authors. At least I know this is another author I can add to the list of not working with in the future. He’s not the first to threaten me, and I’m sure he won’t be the last. Good thing I have a thick skin.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

How Do You Find New Books?

I love Amazon! Since I gave a gift card to someone, the site turned around and gifted me $10. Woo hoo! I love free stuff. So what did I do? I bought a lot of books 🙂 Since they were free, I took a chance on authors I haven’t read yet.

11011877157229941614963419392283209355812186332721945683As you can tell, I experimented with different genres as well. I’m excited to get a taste of these authors’ writing styles to see if I’ll become a fan. Some people I know from Absolute Write, others were recommended by my friends on Goodreads, and some piqued my interest on Amazon from the ‘customers also viewed’ tab.

For all the readers out there, how do you find new books? Would you take a chance on a new author?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

Book Review: The Bayou Classic By Marcus Chatman

***I received a free copy in exchange for a review***

The Bayou Classic is a fictional story that describes the lives of a group of inner city kids and their journey from high school, college, and beyond. The story revolves around the girls Areille, Carissma, and Jasmine, three teenagers who are struggling to be good students while simultaneously dealing with the pressures that come along with living in the ghetto. You also have their male counterparts Derek, Bingo, Skeeter, and Stepper. With Bingo being the fearless rebel in the crew, theirs never a dull moment. With Skeeter being the savvy street smart hustler theres never a sure thing, it’s always a gamble. With Stepper being the suave playboy in he crew its always interesting to watch him juggle his many women. Lastly theres Derek, the level headed, hard worker who is struggling to find his way through life without getting into any trouble. Like life, trouble eventually finds its way into the mix and effects the entire group. They eventually find themselves banding together to help each other get through. This story is sure to captivate the reader and draw you into the lives of each individual character. This story is not written from a spectators point of view, but the characters themselves narrate the events that take place, which will effectively connect each reader to the characters in the story. There is also another very interesting twist to this story. This entire story is written in poetry form, meaning the entire story rhymes. So the entire novel is basically a poem. Each page has its own individual character, each page is its very own entity. If you love drama, romance, comedy, action, and suspense, then you’ve definitely pick the perfect story.

18069073I liked this book. The introduction was an overview of the hood as a poem, which was nicely rhymed. I have mad respect for the author. He managed to make the entire story sound like freestyle at a poetry reading. Not only did everything rhyme, but he managed to create colorful personalities and a plot to keep the story going.

The Bayou Classic followed Derek, Bingo, Skeeter, Stepper, Areille, Carissma, and Jasmine through their high school, college, and young adult years. Some graduated. Some ended up in jail. Some were in the drug business. And some manged to create successful businesses for themselves. I love drama, so my favorite sections involved Derek and Areille’s breakup.

Just to give you an idea how the rhythm flowed, here’s my favorite passages from the poem:

1) We could just help them take baby steps, start over as friends, sometimes when you think a story is about to end, it actually begins.

2) I’m already in love with one psycho. I certainly don’t need another.

3) You two have plenty of time to grow, so be careful how you touch, I know I said I like her, but I don’t like her that much!

4) That’s my future baby mama, she keeps me focused and balanced, my girl ain’t mean, she’s just socially challenged.

5) They were looking dead serious, like they was going through a crisis, how these n***** buying cars, and can’t even get a license?

Towards the end, the poem stalled for me–it seemed like everything was happy happy joy joy, especially when they were adults getting married. I wish there could have been some tension or conflict somewhere to balance out all that happiness. Plus, I didn’t like seeing the N-word. It seemed like the male characters used that a lot as a term of endearment. Like I said before, I really love drama, so the beginning really kept my attention when people’s parents were ending up in jail, the heart ache, etc.

If you love poems, I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby