Tag Archives: humor

New Indiot blurb – please help me choose!

We all know the importance of a good blurb – after the cover, it’s the single most powerful marketing tool for your book. So I don’t have an excuse for the current vague Indiot blurb. The good news, I’ve done some research and work on revising it. I’d love your help in choosing the final version. You can either vote:

or let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you like some bits of both, please let me know as well.

NOTE: the final blurb will undergo copy-editing by a professional editor, who will fix all my grammar and spelling issues. I am looking more for feedback on structure, content, and voice. Does either one make you want to read the book? Do they convey the genre and style of the funny, fast-paced, action-packed actual book?

VERSION 1.

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but bad decisions will get you there even faster. Isa Maxwell has both in equal measure when she arrives in Delhi. Driven by the desire to help a mysterious prince and share her newfound wealth, she braves her first plane ride, and even makes two new friends—jewelry-draped Vivien and a bottle of Valium. Too bad she loses Vivien in the airport, and her passport somewhere on the way to the hotel.

Determined to find her way out of this predicament, Isa tries harder and harder to get help, only digging herself a bigger hole in the process. Things go from bad to worse, then worst, and finally to dire, as she encounters one wacky character after another, including a blast from the past.

Will Isa survive this mess with no passport or money or will it be the last chapter in this Indiot’s story?

 

VERSION 2.

What would you do if overnight, you found the wealth and notoriety you’ve been craving your whole life? Well, maybe not the whole life, but at least the first twenty years?

Isa Maxwell decided to jump on the plane to Delhi, to find a mysterious prince and help him win back his fortune from scheming uncles. Not to spend it, mind you—Isa is overcome with fantasies of helping the orphans, or poor, or whoever may need her in India. With Harden gone and everyone else nauseatingly loved up, she is also dreaming of making new friends. She finds two of those in first class—jewelry-draped Vivien and a bottle of Valium. Sadly, her drug-induced euphoria is short-lived, as she loses Vivien in the airport and her passport somewhere on the way to the hotel.

Not that big of a deal, right? The police can help. Or if not, the Embassy? Okay, the bank? Somebody? Isa hits the rock bottom, only to discover that it’s the beginning of a slide into the abyss.

Full of humor and action in equal measure, Indiot is a page-turning wild ride. Hold onto your valuables, as you meet a whole new cast of wacky characters and discover what can happen if you mix enough adrenaline with lunacy and enthusiasm.

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I wrote 2.8Kwords today. And 2.6K yesterday. What’s changed, you ask?

Well, Josh has been asking that. Every time I’ve bragged about kicking my goals the last few days, or that I’ve written almost 20K words in less than two weeks, he inevitably asks what’s changed. That’s because I’ve struggled to deliver on my ambitious long service leave writing plan, averaging only about 500 words per day, with occasional bursts of 2-3 thousand per day. Those were usually followed by days of writer’s block.

So what has changed? I decided to examine the last few months, and these are my thoughts:

1. TOOLS.

I credit Scrivener with helping me get my third novel off the ground quickly. I wrote Shizzle, Inc and Indiot in Word, which is fine, but I can only now appreciate how difficult it was to plot a full-length novel with subplots, multiple characters, and several plot twists, in a linear document. Scrivener, if you’re not familiar with the tool, allows you to chunk and organise your novel, so you have a clear “skeleton” of acts, chapters, and even scenes onto which to add finer strokes of your prose. I’m not sure why I’ve never tried it before, especially because it’s free to try for 30 days, and only costs $40 to purchase outright.

(Note: I googled and found a 20% coupon, so it only cost me $32. The coupon is WORDSWITHJAM and only works on the full version, but it may stop working soon. If that’s the case, just Google another one.)

I have also purchased a much more expensive Dragon Naturally Speaking narration software, but I’m finding that it’s difficult for me to use it at the moment. Some of it is my accent, so I will have to invest some time into training my Dragon. The other problem comes from twenty-plus years of “thinking through my fingertips.” I’m not giving up on it, though, and hey – just used it to type out this sentence!

2.  MOOD.

I had a personal drama unfold earlier this year, which meant that I spent my February crying, and March elated when it finally resolved. Try writing comedy when the world is dark and tears are literally streaming down your cheeks almost constantly. Try writing anything at all when you’re so happy, you don’t care about anything, including your goals and aspirations. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have pressing issues of any kind, concentrating on something else is difficult. All you get are fight-or-flight, not sit-down-and-write response.

Also, while I’ve managed to write about 30K words of Indiot in November-January, I had to eventually conclude that those particular words were garbage, and I was continuously rewriting/editing/deleting as I progressed further with the first draft. So even if I wrote 2-3K on a good day and then deleted as much of the old stuff, the resulting word count was insignificant. And that’s just the nature of writing. I’m thinking what I wrote today is pretty good, but I’m not sure how I will feel about it in another month or two.

3. ATTITUDE.

This is a weird one. Some credit is due to bad reviews and people on KBoards advising me to scrap my cover, scrap my series, and write in a different genre, because chicklit is dead. Those comments hurt, but then they give me some kind of angry energy and desire to prove those people wrong. It also helped that a few days ago I’ve downloaded DMX’s X Goin’ To Give It To Ya and I jump up and down to it whenever I’m starting to feel low. To paraphrase DMX, “Ana’s gonna give it to ya” and “First we gonna write, and then we’ll write more!” DMX is not for everyone, but damn! Listen to it enough, and next thing you know, you just want to drag race and smash things, and maybe challenge strangers to a dance off…like I said, not for everyone.

4.PRIORITIES.

I’ve let my social media stagnate a bit. What can I say, I was an addict. I still reply to messages, but only once a day, and only after I’ve done my daily writing quota. It’s great to have an active following, and I’m not going to let it stagnate into a deadpool, especially not with #ComedyBookWeek coming up, but I think I now have my priorities straight. Writing comes first. Everything else is after.

5. ROUTINE.

Ah, I left the seemingly boring, but very important thing to the last. It’s also related to setting priorities – now I get up early, have my coffee, walk the dog, and sit down to write. Today, I had my first thousand words by 9am. The feeling of accomplishment is like a drug – I had the 2.8K done by 1pm, and then decided to quit for the day, out of fear that I may burn out.  I still had the energy to burn – you should see my sparkling kitchen.

Tomorrow the goal is 3K. Ana’s goin’ to give it to ya!

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#ComedyBookWeek Calendar of Events

UPDATE: THIS PAGE HAS BEEN SUPERCEEDED by the official page. Please visit http://www.comedybookweek.com to view the up-to-date list of events.

 

 

 

 

So wonderful to see everyone excited about the big event! I have started the list of links to what will be happening each day – if you have a post/review/interview happening during 16-23 July, please let me know in the comments below, and I will add it to the Calendar.

Dear book bloggers – please make sure your review is posted on the scheduled date, or advise me if you want the date moved. Once you have a dedicated URL for the post, please advise, and I will update the link (the links are currently generic to your blog).

16 JULY

C (the happy meerkat) review of Shizzle, Inc by Ana Spoke.

Matthew Drzymala’s interview with Ana Spoke.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Russ Colchamiro.

Kirsty McManus review of Mind if I Come In? by  K.L. Phelps and interview with the author.

17 JULY
Barb Taub’s review of Must Love Ghosts by Ani Gonzalez.

Jam (Leaves et Livres) review of Do Not Wash Hands in Plates by Barb Taub.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with J.J. Green

Matthew Drzymala’s interview with Abby Vegas.

18 JULY

Rosa Temple’s interview with Ana Spoke, author of Shizzle, Inc.

C (the happy meerkat) review of Space Adventurer #1 by Carrie Hatchett.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with M.T. McGuire.

Matt Drzymala’s interview with MTM McGuire.

19 JULY

Rosa Temple’s review of How To Cook Up A Disaster by Rachel Elizabeth Cole.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Frankie Bow.

Matt Drzymala’s interview with Portia Porter.

20 JULY

C (the happy meerkat) review of Do Not Wash Hands in Plates by Barb Taub.

Rosa Temple’s blog – guest post by Bernadette Maycock, author of It Started with a Snub.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Scott Burtness.

Kirsty McManus review of Shizzle, Inc by  Ana Spoke and interview with the author.

21 JULY

Jam (Leaves et Livres) review of Can You stiff Your Divorce Lawyer by Portia Porter.

Guest Post by Susan Daffron on Rosa Temple’s blog.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Jackson Lear.

22 JULY

C (the happy meerkat) review of Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Isa-Lee Wolf.

23 JULY

BRMaycock’s Book Blog review of Maid for Love by Victoria Van Tiem

PLANNED BUT NOT YET SCHEDULED:

Ani Gonzalez will be reviewing KL Phelps(Mind if I come in), Leigh Selfman (Haunt Flashes),  Barb Taub (Null City #1), and Shizzle, Inc.

Ingenious Cat will review Kelpie Dreams.

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#ComedyBookWeek – source page for book bloggers

UPDATE: THIS PAGE HAS BEEN SUPERCEEDED by the official page. Please visit http://www.comedybookweek.com to view the up-to-date list of participating books.

 

 

I’ve decided to post all participating books early, to allow book bloggers to easily choose one (or a few!) books for review. If you are interested in reviewing any of the books below, please contact the author directly using their social media contacts, for a free review copy. You can also approach any participating author for an interview.

Once you’ve planned an “event” (a book review, interview, or a guest post), please do the following:

  1. Let me know, so that I can add it to Calendar of Events,
  2. Make sure to use #ComedyBookWeek in your post,
  3. Use the hashtag in any Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook ads of the post – we will be retweeting all posts with the hashtag during the week of 16-23 July!
  4. Use this graphic wherever and whenever you can:humor_book

And now, for the books. Click on the image to visit the book’s Amazon page, to read the blurb or author’s bio.

Please let me know if you’re an author and would like to add your funny book to this list.
  

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The very latest cover series mockup

Thank you so much for all your comments! I have obsessed some more over the photos and composition, downloading mo less than forty fonts and a few dozen cityscapes and curvy women in beautiful dresses. I pushed and tugged the rip this way and that, and I am now excrutiatingly close to being done with it. As per usual, I’m not so sure about the fonts, although I think the title font is now the best I’ve managed to find in three days of going nuts with 1001(literally!)freefonts.com. The author/series name on the first one is exactly the same as title, only not in capitals. The third one has much planer author/series fonts.

As per usual, I’m not so sure about the fonts, although I think the title font is now the best I’ve managed to find in three days of going nuts with 1001(literally!)freefonts.com. The author/series name on the first one is exactly the same as title, only not in capitals. The third one has much planer author/series fonts.

What do you think? And thank you in advance 🙂

All three books together 29 May

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#ComedyBookWeek is coming – do you want to participate or help?

Marketing funny is hard. If you are a humor writer, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are a humor consumer – it may come as a surprise.

Before I started trying to market my books, I naively assumed that funny should almost sell itself – after all, the biggest blockbusters are usually comedies, and isn’t it a natural for the word of mouth? When it comes to books, however, humor is a tiny category, dominated by autobiographies of famous comedians. In fact, most ebook marketing sites don’t even have a mailing list for it, so I’ve had to slot Shizzle, In into Action&Adventure or YA with mixed results.

I was reminded once again of how few comedy writers are out there when I joined KBoards and saw the invitations for author cross-promotion. They were all either for fantasy, paranormal, or romance. Or the combination of the three. That makes sense, of course – those are the largest categories of ebooks on Amazon. I was sad for all of three minutes, and then I did what I tend to – take some initiative.

I decided to start a humor/chicklit cross-promo. I was a little nervous at first – after all, I’ve been a member for all of five minutes, but the response has been overwhelming – so far a total of 24 authors have signed up! Not only that, one of them made a banner for the event, so we are all legit now:

humor_book

So what is planned? At the moment, the main emphasis is on gathering numbers, and starting to promote #ComedyBookWeek as an event designed to help readers discover new Indie humor authors. All funny books are welcome, by the way – chick lit, satire, whatever, as long as it makes people laugh.

The rough plan at the moment is that during the event week, participants will post blogs with links to participating books, post interviews, guest blogs, tweets, and whatever else they usually do with their social media platforms. The aim will be to generate buzz with the hashtag #ComedyBookWeek, to help people connect and find new funny reads. We also plan to approach book reviewers and maybe some outrageous ideas as well – suggestions are welcome!

If you want to participate by submitting your book or by offering to host an interview or review, please let me know, or join us on KBoards!

 

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A simple guide to overcoming 1-star review grief

I briefly mentioned in my last post that free giveaways are notorious for attracting random readers that just don’t get your novel. Also, you may or may not know that the average Goodreads rating for any given book is usually lower than that on Amazon. This may be due to a few reasons, one of them being that people can rate your book without ever reading it.

So it’s not that much of a surprise that someone posted a 1-star review of Shizzle, Inc on Goodreads today. Still, it was a kick in the balls that I don’t even have, to read words such as “heaving pile that’s hard to swallow”, “poorly developed characters and an equally poorly thought out plot”, and finally “I’m sure the author is planning an equally stomach-churning sequel.” Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Normally I think of myself as having thick skin, but the review derailed me, and after a pretty good day, too – I penned 1,300 words of that stomach-churning sequel and even had an idea for another Donald Trump video spoof. Suddenly, I didn’t feel funny at all. Felt like an idiot for taking time off work to do this, and a whole bunch of other very unhelpful thoughts. I had to reverse the nosedive before I crushed. I tried watching TV, but it was all bad news, as usual. I poured myself a glass, but it only made me feel closer to tears. Then I struck onto a brilliant idea, and it worked like a charm. I decided to put it down in writing for future reference, as alas, I’m sure I’ll have even more bad reviews on my path to developing Isa into a bestselling sensation. I hope it may help you, too.

Life is all about perspective, isn’t it? I was actually pondering that just a couple of days ago, as I wrote this sentence in Indiot’s draft:

Everything is relative, and everyone is familiar with that concept – it’s the one that causes your ass to appear either huge or toned, depending on whether you’re in a yoga class or Burger King waiting line.

So for a bit of a reality check, I decided to peruse Goodreads reviews of some of the world-famous books that are known as epic bestsellers. Below are some stats on those books, complete with juicy quotes lifted from 1-star reviews:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling. Number of 1-star ratings: 59,343. Most striking quote: “Awful in every way.”
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) Number of 1-star ratings: 33,017. Most striking quote: “Tolkien can’t write. He can’t build character. He can’t advance a plotline.”
  3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis. Number of 1-star ratings: 15,800. Most striking quote: “Well,all right.I have to say that this book is terrible…In fact I haven’t read this book before but I’ve heard from other people that this book had ruined their childhood… :(“
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Number of 1-star ratings: 96,578. Most striking quote: “If I could give this book a zero, I would. I absolutely hated it.”
  5. The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2) by Dan Brown. Number of 1-star ratings: 68,541. Most striking quote: “Whoever edited this drivel ought to be sewn in a sack with a rabid raccoon and flung into Lake Michigan.”
  6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy #1) by Stieg Larsson. Number of 1-star ratings: 47,572. Most striking quote: “This is a book so bad that it doesn’t deserve a review.”
  7. 1984 by George Orwell. Number of 1-star ratings: 35,943. Most striking quote: “Not really for me. Where’s the action, where’s the romance?”

I was going to do ten of these, but I feel a whole lot better now and would rather return to writing that sequel. I have a lot of work to do before I can earn tens of thousands of 1-star reviews.

Hope you’re feeling a whole lot better too.

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Who wants to beta-read Indiot?

Hi, there, everyone. Whew, what a rollercoaster few days I’ve had! The free giveaway on Kindle is over, with 3,974 copies given away. It’s only been a few days, so it’s too early to give you a full report, but I got my first new review just two days into the giveaway, and boy, what a gem it was!

New review

This is a huge relief, as free giveaways are apparently notorious for attracting bad reviews – people grab freebies without regard to genre, read them, don’t “get them”, and feel disappointed enough to complain. I hope more will come in the next couple of weeks as I have actually seen a huge spike in KENP – more than 2,500 pages read over the last four days. If it was anyone reading this, could you please post a review on Amazon? Apparently I need to get to about 60 to attract BookBub’s attention, and I’m now at 33.

I have no explanation for this KENP spike, by the way. I have contacted Amazon and they have confirmed that during free days people with KU get my book outright – so why such an influx? Sadly, I shall never know, as I have now taken Shizzle, Inc off Kindle Select – I plan to make it permafree in about a month, to celebrate the preorder launch of Indiot.

Speaking of which, I would like to get about 3-5 beta readers for Indiot, is anyone interested? This would be different from an Advanced Review Copy – if you’ve registered for my Permanent ARC list (see the floating banner to the right), you will automatically get a copy. This is more about helping me work through the current draft. I myself have never been a beta reader, and I have not done that with Shizzle, Inc, but I’ve given some thought to who I’d like to help me:

  1. Beta readers get to read and privately review a book before it is copyedited. This could be exciting, or disappointing, depending on how you look at it. You will not have a chance to be surprised at reading the finished book. (By the way, each beta reader will get an autographed paper copy as a thank you, when it’s released in July.)
  2. You generally like humor and chicklit, and you’ve read Shizzle, Inc and liked it enough. If you didn’t “get” it, you will probably be disappointed with Indiot. Not only the storyline relies on the knowledge of the previous events, it is similarly unrealistic and off the wall. That’s just what I do…
  3. You will have time to read about 70,000 words in the first two weeks of May. Sorry for the tight timeline, but I’m only looking for a high-level review, there would be no need to do copyediting – I will hire a professional editor to do that.
  4. You would be willing to critique my work in a constructive way – “this is shit” and “this is perfect” would be equally unhelpful. I’m looking for things like “this did not make sense” and “why did she do X when she said Y just before?” and maybe “you should develop the scene Z more.”
  5. I would give preference to Americans. Sorry! It will depend on how many people express interest, but I might have to make this call, as the novel is set in the US and I need all the help I can get, being a Russian-Down-Under. By the way, comments such as “Americans would say bla-bla instead of blah-di-blah” would be very welcome.
  6. Sorry for the #5. On the more inclusive side, any gender or age is welcome. I’m still blown away by how many guys have left reviews on Amazon – could this be the beginnings of dudelit?

This is all I could think of – if you have any questions or suggestions, please ask away! If you want to beta-read Indiot, please email me on ana.spoke (AT) yahoo.com.

Thank you in advance!

 

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Give it away, give it away, give it away NOW!

How you guys doin’? I’m flying high – not only cause life on [read: near] the beach is sweet, but because my latest promo is doing even better than I expected. In my last post, I bemoaned the lack of sales, which was all my fault, anyway. All writing and no marketing makes Ana a poor-selling author. I didn’t moan for very long, though, before I decided to do something about it, namely stage a massive, promoted free giveaway.

The last time I made Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) free was in September, about two weeks after it was released. I didn’t advertise it, other than on the blog and Twitter, as it was intended to be just a thanks to my followers. With no sequel in sight, giving it away made no sense. Over the two days, about 150 people downloaded it.

This time around, the sequel is so close, I can smell it. Okay, so it still smells a bit raw, but at half-edited 63K words, I’m very close to the finish line. In fact, the plan is to pre-release it in just about a week! So I’m now ready to do what a bunch of authors have done before me – give away the first book in the series for free. I will make it permafree as soon as Indiot is available, but for now, I tried a KDP 5-day free giveaway.

I didn’t know what to expect, so I made an arbitrary goal of giving away 3,000 books over the whole period and sneaking my way into top 100 Free in Kindle store. I advertised it as follows:

11 April: Reading Deals – $15.

12 April: Kindle Nation Daily – $99.

13 April: eBookasaurus – free; Manybooks – $25; AskDavid – free.

14 April: AskDavid – free (they tweet multiple times).

15 April: none.

So what did I get for my investment of $139?

Well, it’s not even finished yet, but I’ve already given away 3,100 copies!

Screenshot (43)

Of course, a lot of people just stuff their Kindles with freebies, so I’m gonna assume that most of these copies will never be read. Of those that will, some will probably not get it and hate it – that’s just the risk I have to take. But then! There will be others, who will get hooked on Isa’s escapades and will buy the next installment at the full price of, say, $2.99. If it’s 10% of the above, I would make my money back, and then some. Will it work? I will let you know, of course…

And how about the rankings? I have a new addiction, a tracker tool supplied for free by Kindle Nation Daily:

KND tracker

You can see that Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) has come close, oh so close, but those thousands of free books were not enough. After this experiment and a lot of stalking of my competition, I am convinced that the only way to get onto the first page of Free Kindle Store is with BookBub. Trouble is, apparently everybody already knows that – the competition for promos with BookBub is fierce. So far I’ve applied twice and was rejected as many times, but from reading other people’s blogs, it seems that the ratio of applications to successful placements is close to 10:1. Those same people have reported anywhere between 20-100 THOUSAND giveaway copies as a result, so I just need to buckle up and keep trying. In the meantime, I’m thinking of printing this for my inspiration board:

Sales rank 108

I know that some of you are against giving your work away for free, and I completely understand why – common sense tells me not to give away something that cost me $3,000 and two years to make. But I slap it back down because the big picture demands that I do just that. Time will tell if it will pay off.

Hey, Ana Spoke from September 2016, what do you think? Have I made the right choice?

 

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Sequel to Shizzle, Inc – title and cover mock up reveal!

I was working on mock-ups for Amir, the winner of the free cover design contest, when it occurred to me that I should go ahead and create a cover for my sequel, even before it’s finished. That way I can do the same thing that Amir is planning on doing – pin the cover over my desk and use it as the motivation to finish the draft. Also, you guys were amazing in helping me develop the cover for the first book, so I feel comfortable revealing the rough draft and asking you for comments.

So here it is, the mock up for the second installment in Isa Maxwell’s escapades:

Indiot Mock up 1

This is very rough, with images I have not yet bought, so that’s why the resolution is bad and there are some remnants of Shutterstock watermark – that will improve once I buy and download full-size images. I would love for you to comment on:

  1. Title of the book. Isa continues to be…let’s say “naive” in India, hence the “Indiot”.
  2. The overall concept for the cover.
  3. Using “diamonds” for title.
  4. Making “N” in the title different. I will make it look like empty settings, from which diamonds have been stolen.
  5. Should I put “Isa Maxwell’s escapades” on the title? I kinda like the minimalistic look and that the covers are not too matchy, but everyone seems to love series covers that look like versions of the same and tell you exactly which book in the series it is…
  6. Anything else!

Thank you, as always 🙂

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