Life, writing

I have to do what? Author tasks.

I posted a funny graphic on Facebook a few days ago about what it takes to be an indie author. If you missed it, here it is.

And the headbanging

While I laughed at the statement, it’s 100% true. This indie author thing isn’t simply putting words to the page and hitting publish and the cash flows in. If only. The writing is the easy part. It’s everything else that is hard for me to maintain.

For fun (or torture,) I thought I’d go over the list of things mentioned and let you know how much (if any) I do of each of the tasks assigned to an author (whether we want them or not.)

  1. Read-Yes, authors need to read. Not just their own books, but others in their genre to make sure they are on target with what readers are expecting, but also books outside of their genre to expand the mind and provide fuel for the muse. It’s hard to make time for it because so many other things are on the list, but I always try to have at least one fiction book by my bed.
  2. Write-That’s a no-brainer. A writer needs to write. Seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how hard that can be. Because I work a full-time job, I have carved out one hour a day before I log into work to write/edit, whatever needs to be done. An hour might not seem like a long time, but when it is focused and planned, I’ve found I”m able to keep up with the goals I’ve set for myself. Which is four book releases a year.
  3. Edit-While I do hire an editor for my books, I also do self-edits in the 4-5 drafts of a manuscript before it lands in the hands of my editor. As an indie author, you’ll read your own story so many times that you’ll get sick of it. That’s usually when I know it’s time to send it to the editor… before I delete the entire thing.
  4. Proofread- Once the editor is done with your book you still have to look over each and every suggestion they make to see if you agree or not. Simple punctuation may be an easy thing to accept, but oftentimes, editors will make suggestions about the dialogue or the plot, and you, as the author, have to decide whether to take those suggestions or not. Even if it means a substantial rewrite.
  5. Format the books-If you have a Mac, this is pretty easy, as there is an auto-generated formater you can use. If you’re stubborn or poor and can’t afford a Mac, (like me) you can pay for other services, or go old school and format it yourself in Word. Which is what I do. And that takes time. A good chunk of it. You have to format the ebook and the paperback because each of them have different requirements. Of course they do.
  6. Make Ads-Admittedly, this is where I suck. I know what I need to do, but it’s so time-consuming. I have the books, and I know about the courses, but making an ad shouldn’t be that hard on Facebook and Amazon! If you want people to pay for your services at least make it user-friendly and not this big mystery you have to figure out. Then again, I’m sure they make a decent profit on the idiots like me who don’t know what they are doing.
  7. Maintain Social Media Accounts-This was easier to do before the day job. At the end of the day, all I want to do is be a couch potato. So, another marketing fail. I know I need to get better. I’m trying to make a better plan for that. When I can find the time. Ha.
  8. Blog-What you’re reading right now. I tried for a while to do two posts a week but that has turned out to be too hard to maintain. Blogs are a good way to keep readers in the loop of weekly stuff that comes up, both with writing but also personal stuff. Blogs also serve a functional purpose. It keeps my name active in a search algorithm. It’s a necessary evil for me.
  9. Newsletter-A vital tool for the author. Newsletters can be sent monthly, weekly, or whatever you decide. I aim for 2-3 a month. Content for my newsletter is mostly book-related. Releases, sales, member perk stories, etc., but each author needs to decide for themselves how they want to utilize their Newsletter. Great. More things to think about! Ha.
  10. Graphics– You want to make ads for your books? You want to market them at all?Then, you need to learn how to do graphics. There are several places to use. PicMonkey, Canva, BookBrush… Find one and start practicing your graphic design. For each book release, I make anywhere from 50-100 graphics. No joke. That takes time to create, time to learn the platform and time for mistakes. So many mistakes.
  11. Craft books-An author essential. Writing is something that can always be improved. When I look back at my first suspenseful romance and compair it to my most recent suspenseful romance I can’t believe it is the same writer. The voice is still in both, I think, but my skill as a writer has only grown. That skill comes from practice, sure, but also the lessons I’ve learned from books I’ve read on the craft. I try to get in at least one or two craft books a year. These are the two I’ve been working through this year.
So far, both are solid reads.

If you’re writing anything that requires research, like historical fiction, or you’re writing about a character who is say, a doctor, but you don’t know anything about what it’s like to be a doctor. That means you need to research that stuff. What hours would they work? What does their environment look like? How much do they make, ect. All of this stuff factors into the character and the world you are creating. And that research takes time. You guessed it.

There is also something missing from this list. And that is taking the time to live your life. See family, go out to movies, have dinner with friends… time to experience things so that you have some real-world experience to draw from. The pressure to do everything on the list can easily overwhelm you which can cause you to think that you’re failing. I’m a painful introvert, and even I know I need to get out of the house every once and a while.

Over the weekend, I’ll be losing an admin day (to write blogs, newsletters, make graphics, etc.) so I could take my daughter and her friend out to see a movie and grab dinner, then back here for a sleepover. The writing tasks will fall behind as a result of that outing. But that’s okay. Making memories takes priority. There will be time to write newsletters next Saturday.


Until next week, friends,

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and seeker of experiences

writing

How much spice do you like?

In your romance books, that is? Now that I’ve split my books into Dani and Danielle Bannister, Dani for the romance-heavy titles, Danielle Bannister for the suspense/romance, I’m trying to figure out what readers of mine prefer.

Some of you have been with me for the last ten years and have read all the MANY genres I’ve written from YA, to fantasy, to rom-com, up to and including my spicy and suspense titles.

Now that I’ve narrowed myself to romance and romantic suspense, I wonder about heat levels and if readers are anticipating a consistent level of heat from me, or if they prefer variety. Hence, asking you!

Any feedback on this topic will help me with future books because I want to give you what you want (That’s what she said.)

Until next week, friends, stay golden!

Dani/Danielle Bannister, author and spice questioner

writing

Paperbacks are IN: Order yours today

The road to publishing a book on your own is long and winding. There are covers to have designed, editors, to tear apart your work, formatting for ebook/print (because of course they are different( and marketing plans to create (and implement *cough.)

Typically, I like to have paperbacks on or as close to release day as humanly possible, but trying to time out how fast your distributor will get them to you is a crap shoot. Such was the case for Where You Left Me, Vol. 3.

It may have taken a hot second to get them but they are finally here!

They’re so PINK!

I do have a few back titles on hand of this series and others in my backlist if you want to get a jump start on holiday shopping. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge.


Until next time, friends!

Dani/Danielle Bannister, author and paperback pusher

writing

Writing around the day job

Six months ago I started a new remote day job with set clock in/clock out hours. My previous job was more fluid. As long as I got the work done, it was all good. I held that job for 16 years, so switching to a more rigid schedule was new for me.

At first, I worried that this new job would be the end of my writing. I wouldn’t have my normal mornings of writing/admin time (choosing to do the day job later in the day and focusing on my writing in the early hours.) So, before I even accepted the new job, I planned out (of course I did) what my writing year might look like given these new time constraints. Bear in mind that I’d already started publishing my series, Where You Left Me, and had teased out the fact that it was going to be a rapid release.

Once I started a new job, however, how would my prior writing plan change? I sat down one weekend and mapped out lots of different release dates. What was realistic? What needed to be pushed back? And the big one; did my plan of four releases a year (one per quarter) need to shrink back to two? Not if I had anything to say about it.

Noted.

I’m a morning writer, so I decided to lean into that. But, I also need to get my yoga in, and that ever-important first cup of coffee before the brain can go. I log in at 8:30, which means, waking at 5:00. Coffee and contemplation until 6:00. Yoga, shower, etc, then 7;00-8:00 am writing all the words. Or editing them. Or formatting them. Whatever the day calls for. And yes, I have a plan for what I’m working on each day. It’s what keeps me on track. I have a yearly plan, that I break down into monthly goals, that I then transfer to my daily planner. Meet the daily goals, you meet the monthly ones. Meet the monthly ones and you have your yearly goals.

an example of a mock writing plan for the year/month.

Is it time-consuming to plan in that way? It can take the better part of a Saturday morning, but so worth it for me to know I’m working toward a goal. It takes the stress off wondering if I’ve done ‘enough.’ If I meet my daily goal, I’m golden. If not, I’ve built in buffer days each month to catch up. This sets me up for success, even if it only feels like tiny moves at the moment.

4 releases in 1 year

Originally, the plan had been to release all 5 volumes of Where You Left Me back-to-back. But then, I lost a large chunk of writing time, which meant I need more time to finish those two off. That means for November, I’ll be releasing a project that has been on the back burner for a LONG time. One that’s written, just needs the editor and cover done. So, in order to keep that release plan going strong, I’ll push that one out into the world, and then early next year, Vol. 4 and 5 of Where You Left Me will drop.

That means my 2023 writing plan only needs two more projects. And yes, I already know what those will be. Because, of course I do. I have until 2024 mapped out. ha. Beyond that, however, the plan is a little fuzzy. As it should be.


Until next time, friends!

writing

In one week Vol. 3 drops!

If you’ve not been reading the Where You Left Me series then this post probably won’t mean much to you. But if you have, you only have ONE WEEK left to wait for Vol. 3!

And then there were three

This is part three of a five-part series, of which Vol. 4 is already up for pre-order! If you like steamy (lights on bedroom scenes) that have heart and humor, than this series is for you.

  1. In Vol. 1, Jasmine gets left at the altar. So, she decides to marry a stranger in the church instead. A hot stranger.
  2. In Vol. 2, she takes her new fake husband on a 5-day cruise to The Bahamas. Sharing one small bed. Whatever will they do with all that time stuck together?
  3. In Vol. 3, they are back from the honeymoon. They aren’t technically married, but there was a connection. Right?

BLURB

The honeymoon’s over. What’s next?

First, she was left at the altar. Then, she fake married a volunteer. What could have been torture with a perfect stranger was anything but. The honeymoon cruise with him was off the charts hot, but now the escape from reality is over. The fake relationship has to come to an end, right?

Jasmine doesn’t want to go back to her life where nothing but humiliation, personal tragedy, and financial ruin await her. She wants to stay in paradise with her fake husband. But she can’t. She confessed her feelings and he bolted.

Emotionally numb, she knows that once she gets home, her heartbreak will continue. On top of it all, her ex-fiancé comes sniffing around, wanting to take her back. But does she want to go backward? Knowing what she had with Shawn was possible?

And what will happen if Shawn ever finds out she might be having his kid? The honeymoon might be over, but the real fireworks are about to begin.

Find out the details today in this red-hot lust-to-lovers series in Where You Left Me, Vol. 3.

WHERE YOU MET ME (Free prequel chapter)
https://daniellebannister.wordpress.com/free-story/
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 1
https://books2read.com/WYLMV1
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 2
https://books2read.com/WYLMV2
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 3 (8-9-22)
https://books2read.com/WYLMVl3
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 4 (Pre-order)
https://books2read.com/u/b6Rd6M

Until next time,

Dani/Danielle Bannister, counter downer of release days

writing

Another Cover Reveal? Say what?

One of the things about doing a rapid release (or rapid for me) is that you have to plan stupid far ahead for things. For instance, Vol. 3 of Where You Left Me releases on 8.9.22. That’s all fine and good. It’s got ARC readers, the manuscript is uploaded, I’m working on promo graphics, etc, but there was one slight hiccup with my plans. I can’t actually release Vol. 3 without the link to order Vol 4. That would break the buy-through chain (an author no-no.) Okay. Fine. I’ll do a pre-order link. No biggie. Except, in order to make a pre-order, you need the cover.

Flipping through my planner, I looked for when I’d booked my designer. I’d booked her for AFTER Vol. 3 released. Well, that’s not helpful. In a panic, I asked if she could squeeze me in sooner, and because she’s a rockstar she got me in.

That means I can show you the cover reveal for Vol. 4, which is now also up for preorder!

It’s peachy-keen!

Blurb

They’re in love. Right?

Shawn has left her. Again.

Their love story isn’t traditional, but Jasmine thought it was real. Now he’s walked away. Does that mean he doesn’t love her? Or does he just need time?

Jasmine wants to believe their love will endure, but when a new guy in town sets his sights on her, she doesn’t know what to do. Should she wait for Shawn, or take a chance on a sure thing?

If you like fake marriages, steamy love scenes, and happily ever afters, you won’t want to miss the fourth installment of Dani Bannister’s Where You Left Me.

Reading order

WHERE YOU MET ME (Free prequel chapter)
https://daniellebannister.wordpress.com/free-story/

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 1
https://books2read.com/WYLMV1

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 2
https://books2read.com/WYLMV2

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 3 (8-9-22)
https://books2read.com/WYLMVl3

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 4 (Pre-order)
https://books2read.com/u/b6Rd6M

Until next time, friends!

Dani/Danielle Bannister author and cover revealer

writing

What say you? Character Poll Question

About a month ago, I asked my Newsletter subscribers a question. Who did they see as the main hottie in the Where You Left Me series. I’d confessed to them, that I had two men in mind as I wrote it: Sebastian Stan (because YUM) and Shawn Mendes (because curls rule.) I was curious, however, between the two, who did they, as readers, did they think matched the character better.

Blue suits, black shirts…Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad with either answer

While the results are in for the Newsletter and will be revealed in a few days to my subscribers, I’m curious who YOU would have chosen.

If you chose neither, I’d love to know who you pictured. And honestly, this poll has no losers because I’m all for equal muse opportunities and will happily use the ‘loser’ in an upcoming project for my inspiration. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Until next time,

Danielle/Danielle Bannister, author and searcher of inspiration

writing

Keeping Track Of All The Details

It should come to no one’s surprise that there is more to writing a story then putting words down on paper. There are a lot of details that we have to hold onto and some details slip right through our fingers. So, how do I hold all of the moving parts in my head?

Easy. I don’t. I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone what color I gave a character’s eyes when I wrote them last month. Hell, sometimes even a character’s NAME escapse me. (After 18 books that feels moderately forgivable.) So, how do I keep track of all the details?

I’m old school

I use “book bibles” filled with worksheets I’ve made/researched over the years to hold all of the details together (and still, I forget stuff.) It holds stuff like:

Character details I consider
  • Theme (What’s the lesson you want your MC to learn in this book?)
  • Hero’s problem/want/need (What problem does the MC have at the start of the book. What do they want that they THINK will make them happy. What is it that they actually NEED to reach the theme/lesson?
  • Character Profiles Basic stuff like job, family, age, looks, quirks, flaws, horiscope sign, etc. I’ll use images from Google and paste in a person who matches close enough that I can refer back to when describing the characters
  • The Outline A beat by beat play down of what the story arc will be.
  • Time and Space More Google images or terrible hand drawn sketches of locations and printable calanders for the month(s)/year the story takes place in. Time is something I have a hard time holding onto in the details, even WITH a print out.
  • A Family Tree It’s hard enough to remember a MC let alone the sibling or parent details of them!
Most of this outlining stuff comes from Save The Cat Writes A Novel. A GREAT tool if you’re trying to understand outlining. Highly reccomend. I just turned her ideas into worksheets.

If the book is a trilogy or a series, I’ll have a few other addtional bits in there as well. Such as;

  • Series Details Is this going to be a serial series (must read the books in order) or a regular series (books are lined by characters/locations but each book can be read on its own.)
  • Branding/Vision Basics How many books will there be? What titles will you use? What tropes are you lifting up? What is the genre and heat level for the series?
  • One Page Outline If writing a series, before I begin the first book, I’ll do a one page mile-high look at what the crux of each book will focus on so that I have an idea of where it’s going.
Varing worksheets I use for thinking about branding and vision for a series

Even WITH all of this, I still forget stuff. Hey, it happens. But at least this helps me hold on to most of it. And at the end of the day, that’s the best I can ask for.

If you want to hear more about this, author Marianne Morea and I dive a little deeper into the topic on our Bound By Books Podcast. You can watch that below.

ADD LINK

We’re on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts!

Until next time, keep those pencils sharp!

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and keeper of all the details

writing

When no one shows: A signing story

For the last several years, I’ve been going to Books in Boothbay. A local signing event in Boothbay, Maine. The first year I attended, it was an all-day affair. 9-4. Lunch was provided and about 40 Maine authors tucked in for a day of selling their books. The event is hosted by Sherman’s bookstore (of which there are several in Maine.) Authors don’t need to bring in books, as they arrange to have them ordered and brought to the location. All we need to do, as authors, is show up, talk to readers, and sign copies if they want to buy one. They even handle the sales. When the event is over, they take the unsold books and distributed them to their stores for consignment sales. No pack in or pack out. Talk about a breeze!

The first year I attended, they allowed us to have banners, display racks, swag, whatever.

My first year at Books in Boothbay

Then, COVID hit. No signing. Understandable. Last year, they held the event, but broke the event down into two times (to have fewer people in the room at once) and didn’t want us to bring any display materials or food (presumably for transmission issues.) We had to be masked and windows and doors were open. My display looked a little lackluster, honestly without my bells and whistles, but I was happy to comply.

That’s too many books, Danielle. Next year, do less, m’kay?

This year, the rules were the same. No banners, no swag, but bookmarks, and postcards were okay. I took another crack at it. They limited titles we could display to five. Smart. So, I tried to find five titles that might appeal to the summer beach crowd.

Still not as impressive as the first year, but better than the year prior.

Lunch was still provided for us in the form of a bagged lunch. I opted to try the second half of the signing 1-4 since I did the morning shift the year prior. One immediate downside of this choice? Lunch options were pulled pork or nothing. Ha. The hams, turkey, and veggie options were long gone by 12:30 when I arrived. But hey, at least now I know that I don’t like pulled pork, so that’s something. They did give us a lovely brownie though, so win.

Then, promptly at 1:00 PM, the authors munching their lunch on the lawn assembled for the second slot. We tucked ourselves into the folding metal chairs and waited. And waited. A handful of browsers trickled through as the afternoon dragged on, but no real rush of activity. I chatted with the authors on either side of me. Talked shop and life. Read a book I’d brought in case things were slow. Then, at 3:00 PM, I signed the copies on my table and went home at 3:30 as most everyone had left by that point.

During my time there, no one picked up a book from my table to buy. Does that mean I didn’t sell any? Not necessarily. See, my books were on display during the morning too, and they had some copies of titles by the checkout. So, maybe I sold some. I won’t know until I get a check sometime in the next few months.

Which begs the question: was it worth driving an hour and giving up an entire Saturday? Yeah. Of course. I mean, this is the gig. Signings are a gamble. They always have been. This particular day was a rare, gorgeous sunny day in Maine. Not a great day to be indoors. Maybe there wasn’t enough publicity for the event, I know I didn’t do much because I didn’t have time to make promo images for it (thanks day job). Then again, my Maine readers aren’t really that close to the Boothbay area, so I’m not sure it would have made a difference even if I had.

All that said, if they invite me to attend next year, will I go? Of course. At the end of the day, a signing is an opportunity. An opportunity to meet new readers, to get your name out there, to talk shop with other creatives, and to just be surrounded by books. They won’t all be packed. But they are almost always worth it.

Hope to see you again soon, Books in Boothbay!

Until next time,

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and signer of nothing. ha

writing

Writing Serial Series: Pros & Cons

Last year, I had a crazy idea to write a serial series. I’d written trilogies before (3 books following the same characters/storyline. The Twin Flames Trilogy and The Hallowed Realms Trilogy) I’d also written a series before. (Stand-alone books written in the same universe/world, but with different characters. The Later in Life Series: Doppelganger, Must Love Coffee, Taking Stalk.)

But this was the first time I was attempting a five-part, rapid-release serial series, (meaning you have to read the books in order for the story to make sense.) I’m halfway done with the series and this is what I’ve learned so far about it.

The Pros:

  • You can live in the same character head space for longer
  • You can give your story time to grow
  • You have a steady release schedule to follow

The Cons

  • You have to live in the same character head space for longer
  • You have to give your story time to grow
  • You have a steady release schedule to follow (like it or not)

In short, writing serials are both fun and frustrating. Most of the income you will make on a series won’t happen until the series is done because readers like to binge content. Even waiting a few months for a release is too much for many readers. So, if you’re thinking of starting a series, focus your energy on getting the content done. All of it. Then, you can think about trying to make money on it. Ha.

To hear more about this, you can check out the podcast I did with author, Sherri Hayes on our podcast, Bound By Books, below.

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and pro and con list maker