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Category: Kindle

KDP Select Promotion Day 1 Report

As part of the KDP Select program, which I detailed in a previous post, I get five days within each 3-month period where The Redheaded Stepchild is available for free download on Kindle. You can choose to have 5 adjacent days, 5 spread out days, or any combination thereof.

I chose to spread out my days for some maximum effect. The days I chose were mostly arbitrary, the first one being January, Friday the 13th. In case you can’t count, that was yesterday, and here’s how it shaped up…

I tweeted the freeness of the book 3 or 4 times throughout the day, and I posted it on this blog. I also let my Facebook friends know, but more because I knew some of them got Kindle Fires for Christmas, and I feel like a bastard asking my friends to pay money for a book where they know all the characters. That was it. As far as I know, the free-ness wasn’t mentioned in any other tweets (I have a watch on the phrase “Redheaded Stepchild” on Twitter).

Yesterday, I had over 300 people download The Redheaded Stepchild on Kindle. The actual number is somewhere between 307 and 342. (It was 308 when I went to bed and 343 when I woke up, and I know I actually sold one for money a couple days before). I don’t care who you are, that is fucking huge. I mean, I’ve had some sales here and there, but I’ve never had more than 300 even look at my book’s page in one day before, and I usually knew who was buying on any given day. I probably know 300 people, but I don’t know the 300 people who downloaded my book yesterday.

I know, I know, I don’t make a dime on any of those 300 sales. Do I care? No. I know people like free shit. Hell, I like free shit. A lot. The point is, if all of those 300+ people like it, that’s 300+ people who positively review my book, tell their friends about it, or lend it to a Kindle friend. If all those 300+ hate it, I don’t lose any money when they ask for a refund (suckers) and I get 300+ negative reviews, and my book still has the Gigli effect (people will check it out just to see how bad it REALLY is).

But the bottom line is this – I have over 300 new readers, and books in hands is more important to me than money and sales. Not to mention, I still have 4 more promotion days from now until the end of March, so keep your eyes peeled if you missed this first promotional day. Or spend the $3 instead of getting that large coffee.

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Racking up the 5-Star reviews

It’s been a little over 2 months since The Redheaded Stepchild hit the shelves, and it’s been steadily building some great 5-star reviews. Have a look for yerself!

A glimpse into a vivid world

I tend to read genre fiction, so when my friend recommended this, I put it off for awhile. When I finally did start it, though, I could barely put it down. Every chapter flowed into the next one, and I was excited to see which chapter of Cady’s life would open to us next. Reaching the end was the only disappointment of the book; I wanted more!

I guess that’s about the most you can say for a book, right? Once I started reading it, I wanted to keep reading it, and it left me wanting more.

Hitchcock’s real strength lies in her descriptions, vivid imagery evoking the sights, colors, lighting, mood, smells and sounds of her locations: a seedy country bar in the middle of nowhere, a trailer park, a parent’s bedroom.

Relationships also form a core component of this book, and it’s delightful to watch them grow or shrink as we move forward and backward in time, discovering first an effect, then a cause, then another effect.

It’s a quick, delightful, sharp and observant read, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Bittersweet coming-of age relationship tale

Catherine O’Donnell wants what we all want…to be loved. This tale made me want to wrap young Catherine in a hug and tell her it’s going to be OK. Her stepmother is a character you’ll love to hate as you experience those awkward teen years through the lens of a girl who just needs a mother’s unconditional acceptance.

This book is for you if you loathe toddlers & tiaras. This book is for you if you know what it’s like to grow up poor. This book is for you if you, like Catherine, value your siblings and their futures more than you value your own well-being!

This was a quick and comfortable read. I’m looking forward to more from this promising new author!

A great reading treat!

For those of you who have never read a Kelly Hitchcock story you are going to be in for a treat. For those of you who have read one of her stories you will find this one a great read that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it (and I had to read it again to make sure that I didn’t miss anything).
I love Kelly’s stories for the way she paints vivid pictures with her words. It’s almost as though you are there, walking alongside her main character Cady as she heads back to her rural hometown. Her descriptions of the places and people compel you to know them and see them for who they are and the symbolism they hold in Cady’s life.
Even though I grew up in rural Missouri the memories it brought back of my own childhood were like an old comfortable blanket that settled comfortably around me. I can identify with Cady her feelings and her journey. The Redheaded Stepchild is just the first of many stories I look forward to reading from this wonderful author.

From Goodreads

An excellent book from Kelly Hitchcock! I felt like I was journeying through life with Cady, feeling every emotion with her. I couldn’t help but feel hopeful, yet jaded with Cady as she meets her new stepmom, and I understood the love hate relationship Cad had for her stepmom as Cady grew up. Kelly paints vivid imagery of the house Cady lived in, the town, her friends, her relationship with her Mother, and most importantly her relationship with her Father to make the story so realistic. I can’t wait to read Kelly’s next book!
Thanks to all my reviewers!
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The Redheaded Stepchild available on KDP Select!

In case this headline doesn’t mean anything to you, allow me to explain the Reader’s Digest version…

Amazon has a new option with its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program that allows their authors to enroll their titles. For a 90-day period, those titles are available in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, and Amazon Prime members with Kindles can borrow a book a month for free for all titles enrolled in the program.

What does this mean for me? I not only get to offer my book in the Lending Library, I also get to offer my book for free for up to 5 days during this period, getting it into more hands. So if you’ve got The Redheaded Stepchild in your wish list, you can keep your eyes peeled for one of these 5 free days and get it. The only catch is, I have to offer my book digitally exclusively in the Kindle store. Given that I have sold all of 5 copies on my other digital platform, Smashwords, I think I can remove it for 3 months and be okay. Plus, it’s a different way to earn royalties and get more exposure, and this is all trial and error for me, anyway. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

To learn more about KDP Select, go here. To see The Redheaded Stepchild in the Amazon Kindle store, go here.

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2011 in Writer Review

I just got done reading my 2010 review, and now I’m ready to do the same for 2011. It’s been quite a year, and was way different from 2010.

  • I had two manuscripts published in 2011. It was less than 2010, but I’ll still call it a win because I spent more energy on getting The Redheaded Stepchild published and writing my next novel. I also spent more time writing new manuscripts in general than I did in 2010.
  • 2011 came and went, and the two poems that were accepted for publication in February 2010 are still waiting to go to print. And people wonder why print is dead…
  • I forwent the book deal and decided to publish The Redheaded Stepchild myself. I’m still experimenting to figure out what works as far as sales and marketing go, but I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it because I love it and I want to try new things.
  • I tripled my Twitter followers.
  • I once again pimped my writing at South by Southwest. I also submitted a panel proposal for SXSW 2012 which is still under review. Fingers crossed!
  • I used my Kindle to check out works by other Kindle authors. I’m hoping that it’ll be great for you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours kind of sales.
  • I joined a writer’s group, and I’m now leading that group. I look forward to Weird Austin Writers meetings every single time.
  • I began volunteering at my local library. I’m hoping this will help me reach out to readers once I get more established.

Goals for 2012

  • Sell 1,000 copies of The Redheaded Stepchild. I’ll have to figure out what works marketing-wise to make that happen, but it’d be nice to know that my book is in 1,000 new hands!
  • Publish my next novel. I’ve got a lot of rewriting and editing to do, but I’m really excited about the project and I think it’ll be my best work yet. Now if I can just think of a title…
  • Build relationships with readers and other authors. This means I need to keep up with my other author blogs all year round. (Compound goal.)
  • Publish The Other Dentenia Zickafoose. I’ve been shopping this guy around for almost 2 years now. It’s time.
  • Become a contributor on other author blogs. Guest posting, book reviews, whatever I can do. I need to put myself out there.
  • Write 15 new manuscripts. I’ll have the new novel, but I also want to write 10 poems and 5 short stories to add to my repertiore. Can’t be myopic with my manuscripts.

On the whole, I’ll call 2011 a win. I think 2012 is gonna rock.

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Creating for CreateSpace

Long time no see! The holidays did a number on me; don’t worry, you’ll get to hear all about it in next week’s Wednesday Wrant. Lately, though, I’ve been busy preparing The Redheaded Stepchild for paperback format on CreateSpace. CreateSpace, for those who are unfamiliar, is an Amazon affiliate authors can use to create print-on-demand standard size paperback editions of their books. The Kindle edition is, of course, my bread and butter, but we all have those friends and family who refuse to get with the program and want to know “when can I order my paperback?” I’m doing this for them 🙂

CreateSpace makes it all pretty easy, but it has its share of drawbacks, too. I thought I’d write this post to share my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly of creating a paperback on CreateSpace.


It’s free. I like free. Free is good. Free takes more work, but free is worth it. They have a pay option, too, starting around $300 for interior design and $300 for cover design. No, thanks. I’m not afraid of hard work.

It’s procedural. They keep a running checklist on what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you need to do next. If you get tripped up at any phase in the process, you can go right back to it after you correct any issues.

It calculates production costs. CreateSpace automatically calculates how much each copy will cost to print and distribute, and stubs it in as the minimum price you can set for each copy. This takes the guess work out of pricing the paperback.

The preview tools are easy to use. The Interior Reviewer lets you easily check the swankiness of the inside of your book, and the Cover Creator lets you easily design and preview the front cover, back cover, and spine. With the Cover Creator, you can select one of their predefined themes, which are pretty slick if you don’t already have a good cover image, or use your own if you do (which I of course did). You can also add an author photo, back cover text, and pre-place a barcode.

Distribution to CreateSpace and Amazon. I can have my book on Amazon (for a lower royalty share) and CreateSpace just like that.

They provide Word templates. Their downloadable templates keep you from having to manually define the right and left page margins, headers, footers, copyright pages, dedication pages, etc.


The Cover Creator is limited. You don’t get to customize the font set for the spine text or back cover text or set the location of the author photo. You can set the background and text color for the back cover and spine cover, but the palette is pretty limited. I know, I know, you get what you pay for.

The templates are pretty imperfect. The downloadable templates they distribute contain font sets that aren’t supported by CreateSpace (Myriad Pro in the chapter footers) and they can’t interpret blank pages between chapters. So if you want to insert a blank page between chapters, so that each chapter starts on a right page for example, your blank page will still use a header and footer.

The pay services are expensive. I hate formatting in Microsoft Word just as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to pay over $300 for someone else to do it. I suppose if you know nothing about how to use templates and styles in Word it would be worth it, but I’ll do the work myself, thanks.


The front cover. I had to modify my cover image in PhotoShop several times to get it to meet their standards. They don’t like any text too close to the margin, and to get it to look normal with the 6×9 cover I had to do some layer adjustment that took much longer than I would’ve liked.

Copy and paste. To get the template to play nice, and to not lose my spot in the manuscript, I had to copy and paste each chapter into the template, change the text styles, and modify each footer since it used a font style that wasn’t supported. Nothing feels more like a waste of time to me than copying and pasting, lather-rinse-repeat fashion.

So all in all, the goods outweighed the bad and the ugly, and it was certainly worth the time it took to format the interior and the cover. I’ll be getting my proof soon, and I’m ridiculously excited to hold an actual copy of my book in my hands!

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Answering the question “So what’s your book about?”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent years writing your book.  The characters are so real in your imagination that they might as well be walking right beside you, in the flesh.  You’ve added sections, removed sections, rewritten sections so many times you could recite them from memory.  Your book encompasses love, hate, and that which makes us infallible humans…

… and then someone wants to you to simplify all that into a sentence. THE sentence. “What’s your book about?”

You want to scoff at them, tell them you can’t possibly diminish your life’s work to a level they could possibly understand.  But you’re not a pompous asshole, and you want them to actually read it. So what do you do?

You find an answer to life’s great question. You’ll have to answer it the rest of your life after you’re published, so you might as well have a well thought-out, rehearsed (but natural) answer for it. Not sure where to start?  Here are some ideas:

  • Setting. No, you don’t want a Don LaFontaine-esque “In a world where…” statement, but where your story takes place is a pretty big part of the story. If your story’s on a fictional planet incapable of sustaining life, that’s probably something the questioner wants to know about. If it’s just about a small town where escape seems impossible (like mine is), that’s just as crucial to the story.
  • Main character. Bottom line, if they don’t care about the main character, they’re not going to care about your story.
  • The central conflict. If you make your character’s world sound all hunky-dory, then the reader’s not going to see much point in reading a story about everyday life on planet Cilicol or the fun of growing up.

Avoid cliches. Don’t call it a coming of age story (guilty of this myself), a post-apocalyptic survival story, or a sardonic satire. Be unique.  If your elevator answer includes these three elements and steers clear of cliches, then it’ll probably be enough to catch their attention. Here’s one I’ve been kicking around…

It’s a collection of vignettes about a girl who grows up in a small town where everyone wants to get out, but few people actually do. Just as she gets used to life with her younger brother and sister in her father’s custody, her new stepmother comes along and she has to try and figure out how to keep her in her life, even with life around her isn’t so pleasant.

Keep it short. About 30 seconds. After awhile, you’ll get so good at it you’ll forget that it took you years and years to write your epic tome.

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THE REDHEADED STEPCHILD now available on Kindle!

Remember, remember the 5th of November, because it’s the day I uploaded my first novel to Amazon’s Kindle direct publishing and Smashwords! It’s now available for readers everywhere for just $2.99.

Links to buy the book are here. You can also lend it or download a free sample that includes the first chapter.

The process was really easy. I had already formatted a short story for epub format before, so I knew what and what not to do, and of course the longest part of the process was writing and editing. All I really had to do was add a product description, create some tags, upload a cover image, and upload the formatted book file. The Kindle Help is very well written and walked me through the process almost perfectly.

The real question I keep asking myself is why I waited so long to do it in the first place.

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Remember Remember the 5th of November

So, I’m a little drunk as I write this, so bear with me. I’m celebrating, because I just finished editing The Redheaded Stepchild. I began writing the book about 7 years ago, and tomorrow (and by tomorrow, I mean today, after a night’s sleep), I will be publishing it on Kindle Direct and Smashwords. It’s been a long journey, but I’m ready to publish my first novel and get it under my belt.

More to come tomorrow…

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The best laid plans…

My original intention was to spend the month of October polishing my novel so that I could have it ready to publish on Amazon and Goodreads by November 1 (just in time for #NaNoWriMo), but unfortunately life had other plans. I finished 2 rounds of editing, and was getting ready to start a final read-through just before the last week in October before this perfect storm happened:

  • I was assigned a new client’s dating profile to write every. single. night. Not to mention, I usually had to squeeze in editing based on feedback for the one I had done the night before, so my evenings were destroyed.
  • We had friends come into town for the weekend of Halloween, and they had a very erratic schedule, so the time I planned on working on formatting my manuscripts for e-reader was completely booked.

Not to mention, I have a pesky full-time day job and all that noise. So, the book’s not going to come out when I hoped, but I’d rather have it done right than done on time.

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The Joy of Editing

fter years of pimping my first novel to agents and publishers, I’ve decided to quit stalling and self-publish the thing as an e-book. Why? Well, there are lots of reasons, in no particular order:

  • Indie ebook authoring is the way the market is going. Every time I read something from an author who has gone independent and e-book only, it only reinforces that I’m making the right decision.
  • I know my book’s good enough to be on shelves. I got one offer for a book deal from a publisher (it was a really shitty deal, and I was right not to take it), and got requests for a full manuscript from two agents.
  • It will keep me from being lazy and making excuses about why the book hasn’t been published yet. I can’t blame anyone but myself.
  • Every day I don’t self-publish my book is a day I’m not making money (thanks J.A. Konrath), and I could use it.
  • The Redheaded Stepchild is not my greatest work. I have better stories to write and it’s time to get this one under my belt and move on.

So, what are the main functions today’s publisher offers, since I can get my books in the hands of readers without a publisher getting them on pages and on a shelf in a bookstore? Primarily, editing and cover art. I’m doing both of these myself, which may be a cardinal sin, but hey, if I’m going to be a starving independent author, I need to play the part.

In addition, it’s been more than 5 years (seriously? seriously.) since I wrote The Redheaded Stepchild, so I felt like I had the level of dramatic distance needed to be more objective than I would have been right after I wrote it. And I think I do, for the most part. I’ve taken a lot of measures to make my main character a little stronger (she was a lot whinier than I remembered) and I’ve caught a lot of technical errors I am both embarrassed by and know I would have missed years ago.

The first pass of editing is now complete, and I’m moving on to phase 2. In phase 1, I was mostly cutting – deleting details that didn’t add to the plot development, took away from the character’s persona, or were just weird. Now I am adding – adding details that will help make my character stronger and my plot more believable. I think after phase 2, I will be done editing, because I am getting to a point where I think “gee, that’d be a great detail to add,” only to add the detail then find the exact same thing a few sentences later.

Editing is a necessary but thankless task, and the biggest part of every writer’s life. I can’t wait to hire someone to do it for me next time 😛

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