Why I'll be unenrolling from Kindle Unlimited: One Author's Horror Story

So, I was scrolling down my facebook feed as I usually, do until I came across something which made me feel sick to my stomach. Physically sick. So, what did I see that was so horrifying I hear you ask? Well, it was the story of a fellow author, who had been having a VERY bad day. Now, let’s be honest, most indie authors know the hassle that amazon can cause, and because we’re not giant publishing houses with legal teams and pots of money to back us up, amazon normally get away with whatever crap it is they’re trying to pull. But this time I feel like they’ve gone too far. So, I’m speaking out, and telling the story for all to hear.

 

So, for those of you who aren’t authors or familiar with amazons KINDLE UNLIMITED programme, I’ll give you a brief overview.

An author enrols in KDP Select- meaning that their book is considered AMAZON EXCLUSIVE (Aka. That their e-book is not available with any other online retailer.) In return, the author is enlisted in Kindle Unlimited, where for a set monthly subscription readers can get their book for free. The author is then paid a set amount (which varies from month to month depending on the value of the KU stock) per page read.

Seems pretty simple, right?

Well, I thought so, hence why all my titles are currently enrolled in KU. However, that is about to change. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

 

So, I’ve heard about the consequences of claiming your book is AMAZON EXCLUSIVE but actually stocking to other online retailers. It can vary from fines, having books removed from amazon, account suspension or even in some cases, legal action. So, that all sounds bad? So why on earth would any author risk this? That’s the question most of you will be asking yourselves. So, when I sat down today and read that a fellow author of mine had had her work pulled down off amazon and given only five days to regain her ‘exclusive’ status, I was intrigued. Then I realised that in fact, this author wasn’t in violation of Amazon’s terms and services at all. Her work had been stolen, PIRATED and made available online for free. This is what Amazon are claiming is her violating their terms of service. Even though, considering that the author is Amazon Exclusive, it’s probably Amazon’s security which isn’t good enough to prevent piracy.

So. you’re all thinking huh? I don’t understand why this puts the author in violation of Amazon’s terms of service, I mean, obviously the author had nothing to do with the pirating of her own work. It’s insane and I don’t understand how they can justify this claim either. As if piracy wasn’t bad enough, now it’s threatening our ability to sell in legal ways by which we can profit. Amazon of course, as always, have been reasonable and by reasonable, I mean insane in their response. They’ve given my friend five days to get the pirated content removed. Seems fair, right? Well, not exactly, especially when you consider that the pirate who first posted the work has to willingly do this. Even if the author sends the obligatory DCMA, which she has done, it means little if the pirate doesn’t comply, or if they don’t comply quickly enough.  It’s madness.

 

So that, in a nutshell, is why I feel obligated now to unenroll my books from Kindle Unlimited and return to selling wide. It’s a shame, especially for those readers who rely on KU to be able to afford to read my work, but I have a feeling that after word of things like this gets out, that many authors will be doing the same. After all, why risk getting fined, or having your work pulled down, to be exclusive to a company that consistently proves it isn’t willing to work with indie authors. Why put yourself on the line for a company who penalises you for their shortcomings in security and piracy prevention?

 

I really hope this gets resolved for my author friend soon, and most of all, that this article will act as a warning to future and current authors about the kinds of things in which amazon are not willing to compromise on when it comes to indie authors. I don’t know much, but If I know one thing it’s that the indie community are getting hungry for a new platform on which to sell, and that whoever is smart enough to take on the task and succeed will be in for a giant piece of pie. And by pie, I mean money. 

My Top Five Reasons you shouldn't Dismiss Indie Publishing

Dear Reader,

So finally after several months of being holed away writing my third book the cogs at Kristy Nicolle Inc are finally back in motion. As i've been oiling the machine and tending to each of it's constituent parts, I've been thinking about why i love being an Indie Author. There is something to be said for being your own boss, writing your own rules and not having to rely on anyone. So, here's my top five reasons you shouldn't dismiss Indie Publishing if you're considering starting out as an author.

1. You call the shots.

That's right, from the cover art and formatting all the way to which ending you go with for the final book, the calls are all yours to make. Without the constraints of a traditional publisher it can be refreshing to publish what you want, when you want, how you want. It also means that nobody can censor what you write, which means the book will remain your vision from start to finish.

2. You're going to come out of the experience with a butt ton of either skills or contacts, OR both.

Even if you don't become the next J.K Rowling, being an indie can put you in a position where you are forced to sit and learn how to run a business or other areas of the book creation process yourself such as formatting and cover art. This isn't just great for keeping costs low, but also gives you a butt ton of skills for your next CV or Resume if writing doesn't work out. If you choose to hire people to do these types of jobs for you, it also gives you connections with people in the book community you would never foster being a published author.

3. You get to REALLY know your readers. No. Really.

This is one of my most favourite things about being an indie. Because i'm on a small scale i get to interact daily with my street team, readers and reviewers who i love. Being an indie means that in order to get exposure you have to be accessible to your readers in a way published authors aren't always. This can be awesome, especially when you get direct messages from people who really love or enjoy your work or when you're able to find out what parts of your books people love or didn't love so much first hand. As well as this you can also reward readers more personally, via giveaways and other cool stuff!

4. Slow built success can sometimes be the best.

As an indie building a reader base takes time. This means that if you do get successful you know you can write consistently well, as well as knowing you're fairly good with plots over several novels. This is because when you go through a publisher your book is BAM right out there. This can be good, but what about if it doesn't sell and then the agency or publisher decides to drop you? With indie publishing, there's a lot less pressure to write a NYT bestselling novel first time out. You can build your presence over several books, seeing what works and what doesn't work for you, in your way, on your own time and you don't have to worry about being dropped if you don't make back your advance.

5. It puts you in a position of control if you ever should want to go traditional pub.

So this one is a big one for me personally. For example, if i ever was approached by a publisher because i was becoming popular as an author in my genre, as an indie i stand to be able to bargain a contract a lot easier because i already have a following. I've also already proved i can sell, AND i'm getting a big fat percentage royalty from amazon. This means any potential publisher would have to up their stakes to get an indie to sign, because an indie who is selling thousands of books at 70% royalty has no cause to go with a publisher anymore for less percentage royalties. As an indie, if you do make it big, you stand a much better chance of getting the deal you want out of a publisher, because you've already proved that you don't need one. Funny how that works huh?

 

So that's it from me. Being an indie is awesome, and i know after this year that it would take a lot for me to give up this kind of creative control and self-sufficiency ever again, so these are my thoughts on why Indie Pub is great for new authors, or authors like myself who didn't want to go through the expense of getting an agent and publisher. Thanks for reading!

Kristy Nicolle x

 

 

Common Courtesy- The latest victim in mass extinction.

Dear Reader,

Hey all, i know it's been a while since i've posted but it's been a hectic few weeks. Leaving Sapphire Press for health reasons has mean't i've had to sort paperbacks and stuff out, regardless, i'm back, and i want to talk about a little thing called common courtesy. So, here's the thing. A few months ago i was solidly against sending out personalised emails to bloggers. It's time consuming and can take up hours of valuable writing time. So why bother, right? WRONG. Okay, so i didn't realise the big thing about personalizing your emails to bloggers until i started to look through my own emails. Emails from bloggers to be exact. Reading a little something like this: DEAR AUTHOR.....

So, yeah... that's all i'm disclosing because that's as far as i read. It made me think, perhaps if it's not catching my attention being so lovingly referred to as 'author' then maybe, just maybe, bloggers feel the same way. I sat there, reading the request for free ebooks for a blog giveaway that was being run, and you know what? I got kinda pissed off. Mainly because i realised that I 'AUTHOR' wasn't being asked because the blogger had read my books, liked my books or even knew who i was, they just wanted free stuff. It made me think, perhaps this is that thing that bloggers are always going on about with mass emailing? My mind was... well BLOWN. It got me thinking, crazy as it may sound, perhaps bloggers and authors, perhaps well we're not so different. Perhaps, like authors, bloggers are getting annoyed with being used like, not book, but promo factories, never being asked if they are alright, or good, or how they are, but instead being asked to promote you, spend time setting up the posts to do so, then reviewing your book and watching as authors disappear off the face of the earth until they have another release. I am guilty of this, authors are busy people, but maybe, just maybe, not full on contact 24/7 but at least making sure you know the blogger's name might make you come off a little less like you're using them, and a little more like you know that bloggers are actually people behind their computer screens. Now, i'm not saying it's just authors at fault here, oh no, i've met my fair share of bloggers who just want a free book and nothing else and refer to you as 'AUTHOR'. But it got me thinking. If we lived fifty years ago, we wouldn't be going to conventions and shoving our stuff at people without so much as a 'hello' first, would we? I mean, i know the internet is INSTANT messaging, but when did this start meaning that we INSTANTLY start asking for what WE want rather than getting to know the person on the other end as an individual. I know it's hard, i know it's difficult, especially when you're busy, but i really wonder if manners are a lost art sometimes. I wonder where the art of conversation has gone, and whether we are just being reduced to what we want from someone or what we're worth to someone rather than interacting like two human beings. I contacted a number of blogs this week, and you know what, some of them were so fucking happy that they had received a message that was specifically worded for them, as individuals, it made me kind of sad. So that's my advice to all the authors out there, befriend the bloggers as people, treat them like you would your best friend, be kind, be personable and never forget to try and call them by their names. Because courtesy takes but minutes to put into action, but really, can pay dividends in the long run. Thanks for reading... READER. See what i did there? :P

Kristy Nicolle x

 

And the Oscar Goes to...

Dear Reader,

So here’s the thing. I’m the world’s greatest actor. In only one aspect of my life to be sure, because we all know I’m absolutely not one for keeping my mouth shut if I have an opinion on something. I always speak out. Pretty much always, because if you don’t, you have no one to blame but yourself. But that’s the thing. I am blaming myself a lot lately, and it’s because people expect a lot of me. It’s my own fault really. People never fail to tell me how amazing I am, because I deal with chronic illness, and write, and edit, and market, and do every other damn thing under the sun to get my books out there. But here’s the thing, people don’t realise what goes on behind the scenes. Mainly because, I don’t want to talk about it. As I said, it’s my own fault people don’t realise, because I am not one for complaining about my pain, about my exhaustion, about the fact that recently I’ve been about two seconds away from putting down my books for good because it feels like too much. The doctor told me I shouldn’t work, because it would be bad for my health. But that’s just the problem, I still ended up working, the only difference is, I suffer because of it and don’t get paid for that suffering either. Like I said, this is all my fault, because I never complain. I don’t want to be that person who kills a conversation by saying I’m sick AGAIN. I don’t want to be that person who makes you feel bad by not being able to meet up, or make my deadline AGAIN. But somehow, despite the fact I don’t moan, I still end up being a disappointment. Because I’m sick, because I have a disease. I am a disappointment. The problem that people seem to forget is, I’m to no one more of a disappointment than I am to myself. I am tired. But I get up every day and I do what needs to be done. You see my statuses, that I’ve cranked out 10,000 words because I’m behind, because I’ve had flare days where I can’t get up. The thing you don’t see is me sleeping for 15 hours afterward and waking up unable to move, my partner brushing my teeth because afterwards I can’t raise my arms, or him carrying me to bed the night before because I’m too tired to walk. Me temporarily losing my sight because I’ve been staring at a computer screen for too long. My partner doing the cooking, cleaning, washing and everything else I should be doing because I can’t live my life AND work. The two just don’t happen together. I am the world’s greatest actor when it comes to my pain, and believe me, what you see online isn’t me dealing with chronic illness, it’s me not dealing with it, putting on a smile and saying fuck it, I have to do this, or I’m going to go nowhere. It’s my own fault, I should be more upfront, but as I said, nobody wants to be friends with a whiner, or a crier, or someone who is on a million meds and can’t drink, with someone who can’t go out clubbing, or wear heels, or do anything because everything hurts too damn much. I don’t complain, but sometimes it hurts me that I have to complain to get people to remember I am only human. I am sick. I hurt. Sometimes it hurts when I’m doing the best I can, but there aren’t enough spoons in the day. Even to the people who are closest to me, people who see me on a day to day basis like my partner, I end up putting a smile on to them, putting on a brave face and acting okay, when actually all I want to do is scream. To curl up in a ball and not be awake because being awake is too painful. But if I keep on complaining, keep of admitting how bad everything feels. I worry I’m going to drown in my own misery. This is why I’m the world’s greatest actor. Invisible illness is invisible, but it’s not that way without a lot of effort on part of the person suffering. I’m sorry if this seems over dramatic, or even like it’s directed at any one in particular. It isn’t. As I said, it’s my own fault because I don’t speak up. I can see it’s easy to forget. I can see it’s easy to look at me, cranking out x number of words a day and think, yeah she’s fine, she’s got it all together. I haven’t. If you could see into my life, what my days are like, you’d understand. But until you’ve had fibro, or EDS, or chronic fatigue, or lupus… or any of these invisible illnesses, you don’t realise how much acting is required of you to fit into normal every day society. So anyway, thanks for reading.

Kristy Nicolle x

To the reader who read my book and hated it... i'm sorry. No. Really.

Dear Reader.

To the person who hated my books, I’m sorry. No really. Hear me out here. Over the last 9 months since I’ve been published I’ve noticed one trend, and it really makes me quite sad. That trend is when friends close to me feel like being my friend and loving my work are synonymous. They aren’t. I feel like it’s not said enough, but there’s a way to remain friends with an author, even if they aren’t your cup of tea. It’s okay not to like my writing, and when I say that I’m deadly serious. Some people will never ever get to grips with certain stories, certain styles or certain writers and that’s okay. I hate Stephen King. Not in person, I’m sure he’s lovely. But in terms of his books, I just can’t get to grips with them, and the thought of sitting down with one of them makes me want to throw up. But as you can see, I am not thinking this means we can’t sit down for a cup of tea and a crumpet together, merely that he’s not my favourite writer. I still respect him, and if he asked me what I thought I’d be honest and say, yo Stephen, your shit just isn’t for me. That is OKAY. I feel like I’ve started to see this thing with friends and family whenever I see them. It’s known as the book avoidy dance in my head. I get the whole, ‘oh it’s been a really busy year’, or ‘oh yeah, I’m waiting until the entire trilogy is out.’

Just cut the crap people. If you hate my work, it’s okay. It’s okay to have an opinion. If something isn’t for you, move on and read something else, you aren’t who I write for. I write for the other people, the ones who do like my stuff. I feel like there’s this pressure put on friends and family of an author whereby you HAVE to like and read everything they ever produce. Not so. Just the same way I don’t expect every stranger who reads my stuff to like it. I am however sorry you feel like you’re obligated to lie to me about your opinion, I’m sorry you feel like you need to avoid me because of it. I’m sorry that my career makes friendships hard, or uncomfortable, because people just can’t cut the shit and say, you know your new book. UTTER SHIT. I hated it. I know it’s hard, but the truth is, it’s also hard for the author, hearing these excuses and knowing the true reason you’re not saying OH MY GOD I FINISHED IT IN A NIGHT AND LOVED IT is because it just wasn’t for you. It isn’t even that you didn’t like the book, most of the time, and I mean the majority, I feel bad for making people feel obligated about something as awesome as reading. I love reading, however, reading something out of obligation, as most of us learn when we get assigned reading in high school, kind of sucks the fun out of it. So just to be clear. If you don’t like my books, that’s okay. You aren’t obligated to read, or enjoy them just because I wrote them. You don’t need to explain yourself, or make excuses. I don’t expect you to buy everything I write, or even one book. If you do great! I’ll rush out and yab your ear off about my next book, but if it’s not for you, we can still talk about boys, fashion, books you do like, and other normal crap that friends talk about. Being an author doesn’t change any of those things about me. So that’s that. I just thought I’d let you know, even if you don’t like my books, it changes nothing between us. I love you anyway. Thanks for reading x

Kristy Nicolle

My Names Kristy, and i'm a Workaholic.

Dear Reader,

I am an organised person. I have a planner, and sticky notes and highlighters. I am an organised person. Yet, with the amount I’ve been wishing I had more time this week to work you’d think I’d have been running through life like a headless chicken with no direction recently. It’s funny, it happens every year, I think I have lots of time, I get into a routine, then BAM something hits that puts me off course. Something makes me sit up, sweating in the middle of the night and go: Oh damn, I forgot to do this today. This has been happening to me more and more recently. I was thinking about it earlier today, wondering what I could do to make more time for writing, especially seeing as how this manuscript which is meant to be done by the end of September still has 100k to go on its word count. It got me thinking about how I’m spending my time. That’s when I realised going to the movies to see finding dory was the first time I’ve taken for myself away from work in about a month, maybe more, and the time before that was me crashed out with a fibro flare, so you know, the super fun stuff that I obviously love doing. Not.

Before my last release it was when my publisher went bankrupt, before that it was getting fibro, so I have to wonder. Am I cursed? I sat back and looked at what’s been going on recently. Then I realised, nothing has happened to put me off course this time, for some reason, I’m just spread thinner than normal. I looked at my to-do list which is crazy of course, and it has 17 things on it for TODAY. One of which is to write ten thousand words. You have to wonder when I decided to become a workaholic, and that’s when the truth hit me, I’m spread thin because I've set myself these goals, I’ve taken all this on. It hit me that I like a challenge, and that me challenging myself recently has gone from writing 5k a day to 10k a day, plus editing 6k a day for a client and marketing for at least two hours. I said to my press partner… I think I have a problem, I think I’m a workaholic. She replied; Well yeah? Didn’t you know that? I looked around at everything and I realised that nobody, despite sometimes feeling otherwise, was making me work. I was doing it, 14-17 hours a day, BY CHOICE.

 

When did I become a workaholic? When did this happen to me? What insane person, with FIBROMYALGIA no less, becomes unable to put down the plotting, marketing, writing or editing and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I’M TAKING TIME FOR ME. Well, I’ll say it, it’s me. I’m Kristy and I’m a workaholic. The thing is, whenever I hear people say that you’re addicted to something, I used to think it’s a bad thing. But I sat back today and realised that maybe I’m a workaholic because I LIKE working… I know that makes me weird, but I guess I’m doing the job I’ve always wanted to, with amazing people who are right there alongside me and giving me the support I never thought I’d find online. So yes, to all the people who tell me to slow down, to take the day for me, to enjoy life, maybe this is me doing that. Maybe me enjoying life is doing what I love, and maybe that just so happens to be my job? Thing is, I have fibro, sometimes I don’t have a choice but to shut off and sleep for days at a time, so maybe me pushing myself when I do have the energy isn’t the worst thing in the world. So yes, I’m a workaholic, and maybe, just maybe, I’m a little bit proud of that.

Thanks for reading!

Kristy Nicolle x

 

An Author's Quest For The Holy Grail.

Dear Reader,

Hey guys, i know it's been a while but as you may have seen online i've been going through a bit of a stressful time, i've redecorated my mermaid lair, had my hair cut off and been trying to wrangle book 3 into submission in the process while also getting ready for my upcoming cover reveal! (It's on September 21st, my birthday, in case you missed it!)... anyhoo, where was i. Oh yeah, this post is all about the author's quest for the holy grail. That is, GOOD QUALITY AFFORDABLE EDITING. If you don't like to hear a hard truth, this post ain't for you, so i suggest you stop reading right now, because what i have for you folks, is a horror story today. Yes that's right, HORROR. Anyhow, this all started a few months back when a friend of mine came to me in tears. I got a message from her, curious one night about the nature of how i edit my stuff. I told her about my editing qualifications and how they taught us to edit on my degree course in first year, i told her about how time consuming and long winded it could be. So then, ladies and gentlemen, she asks me if it's normal for an editor to be done with an 85k manuscript in under thirty six hours. YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT GUYS, THIRTY SIX HOURS, FOR EIGHTY FIVE THOUSAND WORDS. So i'm thinking, okay, perhaps it's just you know she's really quick, especially because for this manuscript editing my friend was charge SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS. Yeah, so i kinda wondered. I offered to take a look at the manuscript for her, and i did. I WAS HORRIFIED. The fact that the piece had been edited fast might have surprised me, but the fact that from the whole manuscript the only things which had been picked up were things i found underlined by grammar and spell check became increasingly worrying. Especially when the main characters name was spelled wrong on two occasions, and then again when suddenly the location of one of the scenes changed midway through with no explanation. This is in no way the author's fault. World building for a fantasy novel is complex and hard, and it's really easy to miss things when you're writing. That's why we have editors. It's your work. You will ALWAYS miss things. HOWEVER, an editor missing things like this has no excuse. Editors are human, and they make mistakes it's true, i do it, Stephen King's editor does it... we are all susceptible to human error. But to make such a slapdash attempt at editing, charge an indie author $600 and then claim you did as thorough read through as possible in thirty six hours... well, that's just bullshit. It is. I'm sorry. I don't care who you are. If you are doing this to indie authors, taking their money and letting them publish something less than pretty much perfect, you're a scam artist, and in my humble opinion deserve to be shot in the face with a potato gun. So then my lovely friend comes to me and tells me that this same editor charged her for a prior short she had written. My heart filled with dread, and so i said to her i'd take a look. I found more errors per page in this 7000 word piece of work than i had in the first draft of the full length novel i'd been sent, and this story had been PUBLISHED. The author was horrified, humiliated and felt absolutely awful about this as you can imagine. No author wants their work to go out less than perfect, particularly when we've paid through the nose to ensure otherwise. I asked her about editors and then came the next blow to my confidence in indie service providers. This short story i'd edited had been through not one, but TWO separate editor's hands. You think this one editor who went through an 85k document in 36 hours was a fluke, but i'll tell you it's something i'm seeing more and more of. Unfortunately, and i know this to be true, the indie author community doesn't have a great reputation in certain publishing circles. Why is this? Perhaps it's because authors are taking up editing as a way to fund their next release when they have no training and no actual proof that they can edit other than the fact they write. I have a degree in English literature and language and i self edited for years, but i don't claim to be perfect at editing even still, i know i have a lot to learn AND i would never dream of editing my own stuff either. However, i certainly wouldn't spend thirty six hours on a project and hand it back claiming to have done my job. The indie community needs a stark wake up call when it comes to editors, cover designers and formatters. Not every one of these people who charges a lot of money for their services is value for money. Editing is expensive, so is cover art and formatting, so before you dive head first into business with someone who claims to be something they aren't, check out their references, ask around about what other people think of their services and above all look for books they've previously worked on and check out the quality for yourself. The indie community is full of people looking to make a quick buck, so heed my warning fellow indies, and make sure you know you're getting bang for your buck, or you'll only end up outlaying more money for re-edits, not to mention the fact that your reputation might well have suffered a blow in the process.

Thanks for reading 

Kristy Nicolle x

#FightingFibro&Fabulous

Dear Reader...

To the woman staring at me in the mirror with the tear stained eyes and the flushed complexion. This is it. The worst has happened. The world you have so tenderly nurtured like a garden has been run through by an asshole on a tank, decimating what you have built and slowly tearing your heart out with it. This is it. The big one. The one you never thought could be and yet is. Yet here I am, still breathing, still surviving, not hold up in a ball like I thought. Not lost. But me. Still. After everything. I guess that’s the thing about the worst, you say you could never survive it, and yet we have no choice. No choice but to carry on. That’s what my diagnosis felt like all those months ago. I had worked my whole life toward a stable income, a career, and in one day that idea became a far off dream that seemed impossible. To those women out there with invisible illness. To the woman even in the wheelchair who’s illness is out there for all to observe. You got this. You do. People don’t see it, people don’t know. Not until they’ve been there. But I see it, I see you all. Those of you who were handed the shit stick, the short straw, the cosmic crapbucket, I SEE YOU and YOU FUCKING ROCK. Yes. I said it. You, there with the pain and the hiding from social engagements because your feet kill in heels and you don’t want to look short. YOU ROCK. You rock because you got out of bed this morning, despite all the odds. You got up, you stretched those achy motherfucking joints and you put two feet on the floor. You stretched up to the sky and creaked like an old haunted house, but you fucking did it. Just like you do every single other day. That. Is. Warrior. Strength. You know what else, the most amazing thing of all, you do it every. Single. Day. And nobody but those who have the special experience lenses in their glasses would know. Well I know. And I’m saying that I see your struggle and I see your pain, but more importantly I see your survival and more than that the way you motherfucking THRIVE in a body which says otherwise. In a body that says FUCK YOU. I DO WHAT I WANT. Or BODY SAYS NOOOOO like that stupid receptionist off little Britain. If you’re having a day where you can’t stand it, where you feel like your life isn’t your own. Be water, be as fluid and fucking strong as your body won’t allow you to be and carve a path that meanders, that might take a little longer, but gets you where you want to be. I know you can do it. All you need to do is know you can do it too. I stand here on one of the worst evenings I can recall in front of the mirror, fighting fibro and still, after everything, fabulous.

Kristy Nicolle xxx

The Free Book Phenomenon

Dear Reader...

So today I want to talk about something really interesting that I’ve noticed over the past 8 months. The Free Book Phenomenon is what I’m calling it. This phenomenon is where authors offer up their work for free in order to either gain exposure, gain mailing list signups, get reviews or other perks. So, the free book phenomenon isn’t new, it isn’t something that’s startling, but I think it’s what’s killing off our industry in part. Hear me out, there’s nothing wrong with offering up your books for free, EVERYBODY DOES IT, but maybe then that’s part of the problem? Now, it’s expected. When an author offers up their work for free, they’re setting a precedent, even 99c sales have the same problem, you’re sending the message to readers that your books will probably be available in the future for less than full price, so why would they pay for it on release day when they can just bide their time, reading the hundreds of other free books until yours is free too? I’ve started to notice a horrifying trend at my favourite blogs and takeovers as well, they get their best reach on posts, or best engagement, when they’re giving away a book for free. I get it, reading habits can be an expensive, but perhaps then this is also part of the reason that piracy is so prevalent. Perhaps the people who are winning and buying these free copies are in fact PIRATES? I mean, odds are if they’re pirating your work they don’t agree with having to pay for it, so wouldn’t it make sense that they’d go for the free copy you’re offering in exchange for mailing list signups, or just to get someone new to read your work? I’m not saying never offer up your work for free, but I personally am doing it sparingly. You will never see The Tidal Kiss Trilogy books 1, 2 and 3 for free on amazon, even for a countdown promotion, I can promise you this now. I do the occasional giveaway, I admit to giving away of free copies of my book (I think i've given away 5 copies total in giveaways since book 1 launched), but I vow to you now there will never be an occasion when any of my full length books in the Queens of Fantasy saga, which are my only source of income, will be put up for free indefinitely. I just can’t do it. As for the book community, I have to say it makes me sad to see engagement with blogs diminish to readers only looking to score a free book. Think about when you go to work every day and you slave away at your desk in the office, well imagine if you left and your boss said, sorry, but you don’t deserve to get paid. That’s what the reality of being an author is most of the time. To the bloggers who receive free ARCs and then disappear off the face of the earth, I also have to address this issue with you as well. You say that you’re not paid to blog, you say that you’re blogging out of the goodness of your heart and because of your love of authors and their work. That might be true, but please remember two things. A) You receive most of your books for free, whether you eventually decide to review or not (which is probably about 300 words, let’s be honest NOT THE LENGTH OF A NOVEL REALLY IS IT?) and B) Author’s don’t just write for free and donate time, WE PAY to publish. We’re not just doing this for no money in return, but often we’re in the negative. This means that if you’re accepting ARC copies and not posting reviews in return, you no longer have my respect, because reading a book and putting together even a rating for a review takes a lot less longer than putting a book together, I assure you. My question to you- the blogger who accepts my work for free and doesn’t review it as agreed- is this, how many bloggers do you think would be in business still if the indie community collapsed because of a lack of sales and reviews? How many of you would be approved by one of the big five for a free ARC, or in failing that, how many of you would be willing to put yourself thousands in debt to keep up the rate that you’re currently reading at, because authors are giving you content for free weekly that you can’t keep up with. We need you, but you need us too try not to forget! I’m not trying to single anyone out here, or make out bloggers are unreliable, most of them are freaking wonderful and I love them, but there’s always one who can’t do what everyone else is doing, and at least give you the courtesy of knowing WHY they can’t follow through, or even sending you a ‘sorry’ for being over extended. My next point is this, we as authors need to really look at the concept of giving away our work for free. I know it’s disappointing, I know it’s disheartening and you’re thinking, well if I don’t give it out, people will pirate it anyway, but in all honesty I think that we’re devaluing books ourselves. The pirates do this enough, so perhaps offering up books for free isn’t the answer. Perhaps if all the indies currently doing this banded together and said, NO ENOUGH, we would all mutually benefit because readers wouldn’t automatically go to browse the FREE books section, they wouldn’t browse through party pages just for the giveaways, and they wouldn’t only get to see blogger’s post if a free book is up for grabs. I know this post won’t be popular, being an author today is a desperate state often, and we are willing to do anything to get our books into reader’s hands. However, perhaps if we were willing to take a chance in demanding a little more respect and were willing to put a little more confidence behind our releases and charge what we feel they are worth, readers would follow suit, and the indie community could flourish once more.

Thanks for reading!

Kristy Nicolle x

Experience is everything

Dear Reader,

So it’s just a quick one from me today, I just got back in from the beach. It got me thinking about my job. About being a writer. It’s interesting to hear people’s opinions on what I do, mainly because a lot of them are completely off base and founded in stereotypes they’ve seen on TV. I’ve heard it all, from Oh that’s so glamorous to Well that’s not a real job, is it? So onward I troop, moving forward into writerness with both eyes open, knowing full well that this IS a real job, and that whatever anyone says, it’s not all that glamorous. However, there is one perk people seem to get right away, and that’s that I can take my work anywhere. The problem with this is getting the means to actually go places. I can’t drive, and I’m a bit strapped of cash as of late. (So buy my books mkay?) so I haven’t been getting out that much. Tonight however my parents took myself and my partner to the coast. I had a really great time and I came back feeling ready to tackle Azure’s narrative for chapter eleven of book 3 in the tidal kiss trilogy. I wasn’t out that long, maybe an hour or two, but it made me realise the importance of looking after yourself and taking care of your human needs when you write for a living. I’ve been stuck in my house, baking for the last few days and I’ve been churning out words slowly and in stagnant bursts. However, after being near the sea for only a few hours I’ve gotten my mojo back, I’m feeling good and refreshed and ready to jump in. Writing is all about capturing life, particularly when you write from a first person perspective like I do, so it’s got to help when you’re actually living while working. I’ll be honest, my life is a mess. I’m living with my parents, my partner is out of a job and I’m struggling with my health. But I forget sometimes when I’m slaving away over the keyboard that I’m capturing life. So in order to do this I need to observe it. So writers, if you’re having a tough day, a tough week, writers block or feeling crappy. Get out! Go and take a stroll in the country or along the shore, go and sit and watch the world go by. I don’t claim to be an expert, but the world has far more inspiration to offer than the inside of your office, or your blank computer screen. So go! And have an ice cream on me!

Thanks for reading, 

 

Kristy Nicolle xxxx

A letter to the reviewer who hates cliches.

Dear Reader...

So, this is my third attempt at writing this blog post because my internet has been increasingly shitty this week. I’m out in the countryside, so sometimes this can happen. Anyway, I’ll start again, because I feel this is a really important point to make with regard to reviewers and clichés. So here we go. This week my friend sent me a review of a book she liked, and I was appalled. The reviewer in question had pretty much taken a buzz saw to this person’s work, but the thing that irked me wasn’t the horribleness of what was being said. It was the subject of what this reviewer was attacking in particular. Cliches. The dreaded word that every author wants to avoid hearing when it comes to reviews. This got me thinking, as I read down the list of each cliché the reviewer had listed and ripped apart, about a simple fact of this job. Authors can’t win. No really, hear me out here. You might think I’m biased, you might think that this is a load of horse hooey, but really listen to what I’m trying to say here. This isn’t a poor author sob story type argument, and it’s built off the back of some facts I learned recently. These facts came to be known to me because I was at the library last week, taking out some books on creative writing theory. One book I borrowed was called ‘The Hero’s Journey’ and it really did make for some interesting reading. The book talks about how every story you’ve ever read, no matter what genre it’s in, is built of one of several skeleton stories. That’s right, every single story you’ve ever read, Fifty shades, Harry Potter, Lord of the rings, Star Wars, Jurassic park, E.T, all come from the same few concepts, just with details changed and the odd rearrangement of the phases mentioned in ‘The Hero’s journey’. So this got me to thinking about Cliches. What are they? Well the dictionary says this:

 

-a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.

 

Yep, that’s what the oxford dictionary says about clichés. So this made me start thinking about the idea of Cliches and the fact that in order to become a cliché in the first place, an idea has to be used many times over. This brought me to a revelation, a revelation that was so mind blowing I had to stop for a moment to contemplate it. Cliches are used a lot because they portray ‘everyman’ characteristics in action. This isn’t about the author being unimaginative sometimes. I think it’s because HUMAN NATURE is the one thing we cleave to as authors to make a story what a reviewer is also looking for, and that is believable. When I think about it now, here are some of the most overused clichés:

 

The hero goes on a journey, has obstacles which he overcomes, and succeeds.

 

Boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back again.

 

Girl is shy and inexperienced, meets millionaire with dark past who she ‘changes’ forever, but only by letting him have his way with her first.

 

Child is orphaned, discovers they have extraordinary powers, saves the world.

 

Teenage girl thinks she is boring and unattractive, meets boy who has supernatural powers and falls in love.

 

Hero dies and becomes a martyr for their cause in dystopian society

 

Detective solves unimaginably impossible crime.

 

So there’s just a few clichés that are littered throughout literature as we know it. Now the one I want to draw attention to is this one, because it was actually brought up in the review- Teenage girl thinks she is boring and unattractive, meets boy who has supernatural powers and falls in love. <- Yup that’s the one. In the review I saw the reviewer ripped into the author for making her young adult female lead self-conscious and unable to see her own beauty. This makes me wonder what kind of young adult women the reviewer knows, because I don’t know many teenage girls who are totally happy with how they look. I mean if anything, if the author had made the main character completely in love with herself, wouldn’t that have been ripped apart for being too unbelievable? This is what I mean when I say Authors can’t win because here you have a classic no win situation. We have option A) where you go with what is normal and believable for your main character and are accused of being Cliché’ OR we have option B) where you go for something utterly unique and get totally ripped apart for being non-believable. A few months back my close friend released a title which I absolutely adore. It was completely original, unique and spectacular in its premise. And yet the reviewers just DIDN’T GET IT, because it was a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy. They said certain aspects weren’t believable. They said they didn’t understand how characters could live on this one planet because it’s supposedly got gas everywhere, in spite of the fact that the author clearly stated everywhere she went that this isn’t SCI-FI it’s FANTASY. So there you have it. You can’t win. You do something fitting to genre tropes and you’re too cliché, but you do something unique and people claim that it’s too ‘out there’ or ‘requires a suspended belief in that which is not believable.’ So what is an author to do? If you’re a reviewer, think on this, put yourself in the author’s shoes and ask yourself what you would do differently. Also make sure to remember that clichés SELL. It’s how they became clichés. So of course we must not forget that publishers will also be publishing clichés left right and centre, because they WANT TO SELL and get back what they invest on a book.

 

So that’s my little rant for today, thanks for reading!

Kristy Nicolle xxx

Whoever said imitation was the sincerest form of flattery was a twatwaffle.

Dear Reader...

Hey guys, another completely original post here from KristyNicolle.com (C). I'm typing this post because a few moments ago i had to unfriend and block an author I've known for a long time. I mean i watched her debut a few months back and i was really happy for her. She's a little eccentric and one of those people who is quite full on, but I've enjoyed having her on my feed. That was until about a month ago. It started out as little things at first. The odd status that looked similar to something myself or my colleague had posted. A few ideas in her blurb that looked slightly familiar to something a close friend of mine had published. But recently, well recently it's become a lot more obvious that i'm being used as inspiration for how she markets her books. Let's just say this person suddenly and 'magically' by some complete coincidence scheduled a live stream Q&A only days after i announced mine, and then UNDERCUT ME by several days. The stream in itself wasn't good either. So as if blatantly copying my marketing ideas wasn't bad enough, this individual also made a complete hash of the event. So today i'm sitting, scrolling through Instagram, and i see something really interesting. This particular author has now announced a new blog she's running.... CALLED DEAR DIARY... hmmm sound familiar? I mean it's not bad enough that she can't come up with her marketing plans and branding ideas, but she's been lazy enough not to even try to cover up that she's nabbing my ideas. It's shameful. It hurts. It isn't flattering! It makes me pissed that someone thinks they can 'get big quick' off my ideas which have taken me months to put together. The thing that makes me laugh too is that this individual came to me about editing her 60k manuscript. She wanted me to edit it in 5 days. Yes five. To go straight out for release only a few days later. I gave her my opinion on this and told her she needed to give it more time, did she listen? Who knows. But i notice she had no problem taking note of what i was doing when she thought she could rip my ideas off. So just so you know readers, and any potential authors out there, if you're going to be lazy and copy someone's strategy or branding, at least do the freaking polite thing and wait until the keys on the author's laptop are cold before waltzing in, and you also might want to try using a name that isn't so completely and obviously COPIED from the authors original work or brand. I mean, i get that we all have to make a living, but we're supposed to be AUTHORS. That means having something called IMAGINATION and that means you should be able to come up with your own image, your own ideas and your own marketing. If you want advice i'm always happy to give it, but don't rip off my ideas and then act like you're all brilliant because you have this totally unique take on writing an author journal which isn't actually yours. *Drops Mic*

 Peace out.

Kristy Nicolle x

Dear Reader, Today is my final confession.

Dear reader...

Last night i was approached by a close friend of mine, I've known her for a long time and she wanted to know if i'd help mentor her as she's decided to start writing. I was thrilled as you can imagine, but then i was less thrilled. I was less thrilled because of something she said to me after. She told me she was scared to come out as an author online. When i asked her why, she said this to me:

"Well, every week i see on Indie Author confessions what being an author can be like. It's so vicious. I don't know if i am ready to be put in the firing line like that."

This made me really sad. REALLY sad. It made me realise that i needed to make a blog post about Indie Author Confessions. I need to shed a little light on what this weekly ritual is actually doing in the most part to new authors, new bloggers and the like. Now this isn't a personal attack on the people who run the confessions, i'm sure this all started out as something fun. I'm sure it started out innocently enough. That is how it started out. That is not, unfortunately, what it is today. I confess, that i don't actually follow the page anymore. I got to a stage where i realised there was enough hate in my life. I didn't need to see it spouted from totally random strangers. Now, confessions are anonymous, it's true. The post-er is always kept anonymous. Which is great. But you know what aren't anonymous, the comments underneath. When i started enjoying some of the weekly banter involved it was hilarious. It was a bit of fun. Which is how i'm sure most people take it. But then i looked closer, i started watching the comments. I started watching this divide between authors and bloggers grow WIDER AND WIDER. What the bloody hell is this? I'll tell you something, now i was only a child at the time, so i'm not sure how good my memory is on this one, but before the internet we had this thing called COMMUNICATION between people, as in you actually sat face to face and talked to someone. Now, guess what, if you didn't like someone, you didn't go after them in a hate filled anonymous confession, you didn't screw with their way of making a living, you didn't stir up the shit. You just... didn't talk to them. How simple is that eh? I feel like i'm talking about the land before time here, because it's pretty damn obvious to me that people don't know when to keep their mouths shut. We're writers. WE'RE PROFESSIONALS! You wouldn't go into a company meeting and sit bitching about your co-worker for an hour and getting everyone riled up about it would you? This isn't a dog fight people. It COULD be a community if everyone would stop mud slinging. It could be a place where Indies help one another. But instead we've got indie author confessions, which gives a public stage to minor grievances, blowing them up into completely ridiculous and out of proportion arguments. It gets other people involved in situations that have nothing to do with them. It gets people riled up about issue's they haven't even experienced. In some cases i've even seen it foster a hate filled mob mentality where people commenting will go after authors and trash their books online. Yes, some of the confessions are funny, but clearly not that many, because this phenomenon is now actually being given to me as a reason why new authors don't want to get involved with being an author in the indie community. It's making authors look like a bunch of backstabbing, mud slinging, attention seeking, shit stirrers. And that, in my oh so humble opinion, is BAD for business. It's really a shame that so many of the whiny confessions end up get posted. It's a shame we aren't using this type of platform to help one another, to recommend a good author, book or blog. I've seen this happen, sure. But i've also seen the majority of the confessions being about Bloggers who feel the need to sling mud at authors, or vice versa. I'm sure this won't be a very popular opinion, but rather than putting it up anonymously, i'm owning my opinion, like an adult. I'm owning the fact i think this practice has outlived it's usefulness. I'm owning the fact that in the choice between going public and slamming someone or quietly unfriending them and not talking with them, i'm one of the few who doesn't want to tell the whole world who i don't like, but then not want to even put my name next to the confession. I could have put this long ass rant in a confession, but something tells me it would never have seen the light of day. So that's my thought for today. To all the new authors out there, those of you watching in silent horror from the secret writer closet, i want you to know something, Indie author confessions shows the ugly side of this community, it's true. But there's also an amazing side. There's also a side where you might even find one or two special people (like i have with Sapphire Press) who understand you and who you consider true friends. It's not all bad, and being an author can be wonderful. My advice to you is to stay clear of the hearsay and the shit stirring, to stay clear of the mud slinging and to just do what you came to do. Which is write what you love. This concludes my final confession.

Kristy Nicolle x 

Like a puppet on a string.

Dear Reader...

Hey all, it's been a pretty weird weekend for me, as you'd probably expect in the life of a writer. I go through these phases where i'm in love with everything i write, before quickly turning around and promptly deciding it's all complete and utter crap and having a ceremonial burning session to my goddess and mother of darkness Hecate. I had one of these moments today. I got up, stared at my computer and chapter seven, before sighing loudly several times and deciding that i have no business writing anything. (In case you're wondering this is still happening and this is my fourth draft of this blog post) Lots of writers in the past have been known for a kind of dark moodiness, a sort of tortured-ness. I used to think this was a stereotype just like any other reader, until i became a writer. The pressure in this industry is incredible, to outdo yourself time and time again. My latest release has done amazing and 99% of the reviews I've had back so far are 5 star and glowing. I'm balancing on a razors edge between pure joy at my prior success and mind-numbing fear that i won't be able to perform again. I guess in that respect you could say i'm the writer's equivalent of a flaccid penis. They say being a writer comes with self-doubt, this is completely true. Before i published i never questioned myself like i do now, now i'm wondering how i've made it this far, how i come up with my ideas, even stupid things like how do i remember to always put a full stop. It's ridiculous. I've been thinking about it and there is only one conclusion i've come to and that is to not give a shit what other people think of my work. I know that sounds bad, but i think if i write with the intention of pleasing everyone, i'll please no-one. Once upon a time before i was an author online, before i had readers, before i had a street team and a facebook page and all that other malarky i had one thing, my gut instinct. I wonder now if readers, and more importantly hearing what people want from the plot constantly makes you forget those instincts, makes you become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the desires of those who buy the material. So that's my thoughts for today, i'll be in my writing cave most of this week, battling it out with some rather feisty Italians, so i'll get back on here and update when i get the chance. Now to go and see about putting this self doubt to rest.

Thanks for reading!

Kristy Nicolle x

The benefit of the many outweighs the needs of the one.

Dear Reader...

You see that title up there floating in blogger space^ Yeah- THE BENEFIT OF THE MANY OUTWEIGHS THE NEEDS OF THE ONE. That was the slogan posted beside the illegal torrent of my new release last night. My book has been out FOUR days and I've had 150 copies stolen already. In real terms that's £300. That's £300 i don't have, £300 i don't have, more specifically, to put into creating my next book. So what if i told you then that because i don't have this money that i WONT be publishing my next book? That Callie and Orion's story will be a forever cliffhanger, just hanging out there, unappealing like a plumbers butt crack? Would it make you sad? The few of you who are my precious pearl readers? Well, sorry guys, but the benefits of the many outweigh the needs of the one, and the needs of the many is for me to not get paid. Suck doesn't it? Yeah. It really does. You'd think i'd be prepared for this, I've heard the horror stories, I've seen friend's posts about this very thing. But you know, it's a very special feeling to watch money that you desperately need disappear before your very eyes, because of something someone else has done without a second's thought for the person behind the screen. So, this is the message i left this wonderful perky individual, who doesn't seem to realise i am actual person who needs to make a living:

Hi, this is Kristy Nicolle- THE AUTHOR of this book which you are ILLEGALLY PIRATING. THIS IS STEALING. Did you know that 150 downloads of this equate to £300 in royalties to me? So how will you be paying? Cheque or direct debit? People like you are the reason that authors are going out of business. What the fuck gives you the right to offer up my hours of hard work for free? Also, did you know i have chronic pain? Did you know i can't work? So you're stealing from the disabled, you're stealing from a young woman who is trying to get her life together after being straddled with a life altering and devastating diagnosis. How fucking dare you offer up my ideas, hard work and thousands of pounds worth of investment into putting this file together for free. You really are the sum of the earth's fucking problems right here, telling me i don't fucking deserve to get paid like every single other hard working individual out there. I hope you're really proud of yourself, because one time it's gonna take all the pride you've got to stand up in a court of fucking law and plead not guilty to ruining people's livelihood and fledgling careers you ignorant motherfucker.

Yes, that's the lovely little nugget of sunshine i left whichever dickberry decided to put my work up for piracy. What can i do about it other than that? I could sue them you say? With what money? With the imaginary money i've just watched disappear? So you see my problem, not getting paid for putting in a sixty hour work week, which would otherwise pay to stop my work getting pirated, but not getting paid because i ALREADY AM being pirated. It's a vicious circle, and it's one not even the big five can escape. My wonderful friend Ali Winters reminded me that they're 'dead sales' anyway, that these people pirating my books would never pay for them in the first place. So i suppose that's something. In the end, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who actually does pay for and read my books. I love you. Every one of you for respecting my right to earn a living in the only way i can because of my chronic pain. Thank you for your support, thank you for not torrenting or pirating my blood sweat and tears. To the rest of you, those of you pirating, those of you stealing. I will just say this. Fuck you. The person typing 'The benefit of the many outweighs the needs of the one' is the person who can feed their family, who can pay rent, who can afford their medication. And you know it's really nice to know that some people are so ignorant that they can't even contemplate what it means to be the 'one'. Because if you'd have slaved for 6 months, when you could barely get out of bed because of the physical pain i'm in everyday, when you had gone without everything you needed to be able to afford to put a book out, then you'd know why i'm sitting here. Seething. 

Thanks for reading, (but please pay for what you read m'kay?)

Kristy Nicolle x

 

The Hand We're Dealt

Dear Reader...

So today's post is gonna be a little personal. Today i got my final cover mock for book 3 through from the amazing Ali Winters at Red Umbrella Designs, and i'm in love. The cover she's made me is fantastic and there are no words to express how thrilled i am with the outcome. I had known this cover was going to be my favourite from the get go, because the concept is so awesome, but Ali really brought my vision to life. It also made me realise something else. I got up this morning, had a shower, got dressed, brushed my teeth, came downstairs and then sat down in my study to work. Now, that's not an awful big deal to someone who's on the outside looking in, but today something about this was different. I got up and got through my whole morning routine, without any pain.

Now, i don't know why this morning was different, whether it was the fact i knew i'd be waking up to see the final installment of The Tidal Kiss Trilogy with a cover, or whether i'm so in love with my work that i was distracted thinking about what i'm going to be writing today, but it did happen. I got up, and i didn't hurt for a whole hour while i got ready for my day. I sat in my study afterwards and looked upon the shelf that holds my stock of books one and two and that's when i realised it. Right now, i'm living my dream. I wanted to be an author since i was old enough to talk i think, but then i got older and i realised that it wasn't financially sensible and i gave up on the dream. I realised i was able to do so many more things that would give me financial security, so my writing career sunk into the depths of an ocean full of dreams that are impossible because of how the real world works. It got me thinking about how i ended up here. I went to university to study biomedical science and cure cancer. So how the hell did i end up here? Well, i'll tell you. I went to university and lived with five roommates. Those roommates were the first people out of high school i really thought of as friends. But after only 3 months of living together, they turned around and told me they didn't want to live with me anymore, because i don't like the same reality tv shows they like, because i make them feel stupid and because i just didn't fit. At the time i felt like it was the end of the world. I felt like i just didn't fit anywhere, and that no matter how hard i tried to fit in, nobody understood me or was willing to take the time to get to really know me.

So i came home Christmas of 2012 and i was miserable. I was sick of people, i was sick of trying to understand people, i was sick of nobody understanding me. I was just tired of people's crap. So you know what i did? I realised that i wanted to give up university all together. So i sat down with my mum and told her this. Do you know what she said to me? She said 'You shouldn't want to leave university just because of a few people who are making you feel like crap. You've worked so hard to get there, so you must have more of a reason for not wanting to stay. Really think about it before you make this decision." So i did, I thought about it, and i realised she was right. My course, biomedical science, didn't make my heart sing. I was good at it, but i wasn't passionate about it. So that's when i made the choice to go back, to live in the flat with people who hated me and were already trying to rent my room out to someone of their choosing, and to change courses to be where i belonged. English.

So that's what i did, I went back and i changed courses. That was when it hit me. The writing bug. Those nights when i was hearing my 5 roomies go out to nightclubs without me were the nights when i produced my best work, the nights where i churned out thousands of words and where Callie Pierce came to life. Skip on 3 years and i was graduating, proud and with a book in tow that was readying itself for release. I sat in graduation next to two of those same roommates, who asked me

'how did you do it? how did you find time to do a degree and write a full novel?'

I replied,

'That's what happens when you have no social life, you start to become productive.'

This as you can imagine made them shut the hell up.

So yes, everything was going swimmingly, i was accepted onto a masters course and i was ready to tackle the academic world, and the publishing world in one flail swoop. Except, it didn't (as these things often don't) turn out that way. I had been experiencing pain from early May, but my holiday in the sunny state of Florida had eased the symptoms, this however, was temporary. Come September i was in the doctors office once a week, being booked in for scans, tests and the rest of it. I have had problems with my spine my whole life and it finally seemed like my body had had enough. One month later i sat in an office with a doctor once more, the head of neurology to be exact, who told me there was nothing wrong with my spine that was causing my pain. I had something called Fibromyalgia, that would continue to give me pain and for which there is still no cure. This devastated me. I had to quit my masters degree as a full day of lectures left me bedridden for days after, the pain was so intense i didn't want to write, i didn't want to work. I just wanted to sleep. There were days i didn't get out bed, because i couldn't even walk to the bathroom without hurting. It was horrible, but it was the hand i was dealt. Now i look back on my diagnosis, as it was then and is now, i realise something. If it weren't for my diagnosis, i never would have been forced into writing full time. I never would have been forced to slow down and ask myself what really made me happy. I was given another chance to choose the path my life would take, and this time i chose right. Living with pain is never easy, but i sat back today and realised that by my one year publishing anniversary in December this year, i will have published half a million words. I'm only 22, and i'll have a whole trilogy published. It makes me insanely proud to think that 8 months ago i thought my life was over, and now i'm here. My point is, no matter what happens, or how bleak things seem, events beyond our control are often leading us to where we're supposed to be. We can't always control the hand we're dealt, but we can always choose how to make the best of it. 

Thanks for reading,

Kristy Nicolle x

The Face of Fiction

Dear Reader...

Hey all, another night i'm sat up at my computer surfing Facebook. I've been sat here for a while now watching my notifications as i just did a really cool takeover at Kylie's Fiction Addiction. So while i've been sitting here talking with some awesome readers i decided to change my profile picture. I do this often when i do takeovers because sometimes i have promos up and i think people are more willing to trust in an author if they can see what you look like... anyway, that's not the point. My point is that for the last two or three days i've had THE KISS THAT SAVED ME promo up as my facebook profile picture. Today i changed it to a picture of me:

So, yup that's the photo. A nice photo for sure, but again not the point. Anyway, so i changed my profile picture to this one right here and suddenly PING... a few seconds later... PING.... another second later PING... all likes. I've had my profile picture as the new promo for book 2 for a few days now and it's had maybe 12-13 likes.... MY FACE GOT OVER 100 LIKES. OVER 100. Now, i'm all for people liking my stuff and telling me i'm pretty, but i find it mildly frustrating that people will pay more attention to a face that i was naturally and by chance born with, than to a book which i purposefully slaved over for 6 months. It's frustrating, but i'll tell you something. It reminded me of something that a new author said to me a little while ago. This particular author sent me a promo to check out for their first book. Now i was quite harsh with this person and told them to go back to the drawing board. The promo was no good. But you know what they said to me? They said, 'But it doesn't matter, people are paying for my story. Not my graphic design skills.' Um, hate to break it to you fledgling authors out there, but that's called fantasy talk. Not real life. The truth is, you can write the next great work of fiction, you can write an epic, heartstoppingly good book, but if your cover and your promos and the look of that book doesn't grab a reader in 5 seconds, you're dead in the water. The thing about reading a book is, you have to want to pick it up to even get to page one, and that means needing to have a flawless presentation online. ESPECIALLY in the indie market. If marketing a book now was only about writing skill, i know a hundred authors who would top the NYT over night. It isn't. Writing a good book ISN'T enough anymore. I'm sorry, you can string me up, but you have to have a professional look. And i'm not just talking about the books either. I'm talking about YOU sat there behind the keyboard. People need to trust you, and if your author photo looks like you just walked out of the local correctional then you're probably not going to get people buying your stuff. People want clean, they want pretty and they want professionalism. Looks matter. It's a sad fact. But it's true. The world is wired this way and appearances, now more than ever, DO MATTER. I see a hundred badly photoshopped covers and hacked together promos a day. And the excuse i hear? I can't afford it. You can't afford NOT to have a good cover designer, or great promos. If you can't monetarily afford these things today, learn to do it yourself, or save up, but don't put the book out without everything being top notch before you press launch, because it will effect sales, and it will effect your reputation. We get one real chance to make a first impression, especially with a market as competitive as the one today. So make it count. 

Thanks for reading,

Kristy Nicolle x

Night on Release Mountain.

Dear Reader...

Hey guys and gals! I have returned from the world of book release, where stress levels are high and you are constantly checking amazon every five minutes! Firstly, i want to say how absolutely amazing release day was! I moved a lot of books, the reviews I've seen so far are positive and the live Q&A i filmed midnight my time was awesome! I actually said about 'a girl riding a guy' on camera... to the whole world. I woke up this morning, and as predicted did a giant face palm like, Did i actually say that? I've taken this day to chill out, take a step back and admire the view from the top of release day mountain. Now though, life goes on and i will board the cable car to the bottom of that mountain and begin again. Only this time i'm going for release mountain's big brother- Final Book Release Mountain. Yes it's a thing (i'm dubbing it a thing so it's definitely now a thing, i'm a writer and so can make this shit up if i want to) This mountain that i'm staring up at right now is freaking huge. I MEAN HUGE. Like 200k huge. And here's me at the bottom stood like... SHIT. What have i gotten myself into? Sitting here typing this right now i'm looking over the plot for book 3 and i'm starting to wonder... when the hell did this little fantasy romance story about a guy and a girl who become mer people turn into this? When did it morph into the blob of logistical frankenstein-ness? So, i shall begin again. I shall now abandon the 35 word documents of the past (book 2) and move on to the future, which is book 3. It's harrowing at times, realising that my work will never really be done. But it's also awesome. I'm building something i can work on forever potentially. These places and characters have walls and pasts that speak to me in the dead of night when all is quiet and the only noises that can be heard are on in the inside of my skull. The other thing i'm realising is that i may not be ever be completely satisfied with something i've written. I got a constructive review today about book one, and i agree with a lot of the things that have been said. I was repetitive in book one, i was young and unexperienced when i wrote it and i've grown so far from that now that in some ways i'm unrecognisable. Would i change book one? No. I wouldn't. Because those little errors, those little weaknesses in that work make it what it always be. MY FIRST BOOK. But getting this constructive review today made me think, it made me realise that there's a bigger picture here than spending one night on Release Mountain. There's more to this than any one release. This is about THE BIG PICTURE. Not the amount of mountains climbed. But the amount of experiences had and the amount of progress i've made from only six months ago. So you know what, bring it 200k mighty mountain. I'm not going to stop pushing myself. I'm not going to stop learning, or bettering myself. And i certainly don't want to be one of those people who get's a review with a few negatives and then says NOPE, there is nothing about this that i can do. I am perfect and this person is wrong. Because i'm not perfect, and i never will be, however i can get close (i think) but that will only happen by learning, by trying and failing. So thanks to all you readers for sticking by me, for watching me succeed, and more importantly fail, because it's only through failure and what comes after that i can grow as an artist. I hope that is something i will never forget.

Thanks for reading,

Kristy Nicolle x

Facebook- The REAL house of commons.

Dear Reader...

I woke up this morning and opened my curtains. Everything looked the same. I went down to my kitchen, still nothing out of place. But from the time i'd gone to sleep, to the time i'd woken up. Everything had changed. I had gone to sleep with my country being a part of the European Union and awoken to the result that we will shortly be leaving. Now, i voted yesterday. I voted and what i voted is probably pretty obvious, but i'm not going to talk about that. What i do want to talk about is something i think is more important than any one vote. That is political education. This country's politicians have been running their campaigns and going around telling us all what we should vote for, but the problem i see here is that they are pretty much the only source of information on the subject. I want to know why we aren't covering this in school. I mean, it's all very well giving an 18 year old the right to vote, but alot of eighteen year olds i know don't understand what the hell is going on around them at home, let alone in the country at large. So here's my question, where's the unbiased information? Where's the information that isn't from party X or Y? Where is the goddamn education on these issues for the normal person who lives down the street and not the oxford graduate with a 10k trustfund? The majority of people in this country are proud to mouth off their political views all over the internet, but how many of them ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND what it means to exit the EU in the long run? Do we cover this in school? No. We learn Pythagoras Theorum. How useful is that? I'm not saying whether i agree with the vote or not, what i'm saying is that there isn't enough unbiased factual information out there. There is also little to no effort in this country to reach out and put politics in terms that regular people can understand. Today my Facebook has become the house of commons for poorly educated decisions, misinformation and hatred between people that used to be friends. It's a sad state of things, but at the end of the day i'm proud to have voted, regardless of the outcome.

Thanks for reading!

Kristy Nicolle 

Waiter, there's a typo in my soup

Dear Reader...

So today i'm going to rant town. Why? Because I've just had the most awful conversation and it's screwed my mood for the entire evening. I have to say this is a real low point for me as an author and i feel like i wanna talk about this to you guys so you realise a cold hard fact about the publishing industry. First the fact for you guys:

Typos happen. 

I know it's shocking. I mean what the hell are authors doing putting out something less than perfect right? Right? WRONG. So here i go with fact number two:

The publishing industry standard for the big five regarding typos is that any book gone to print can have no more than TWO PER PAGE.

When i tell people this fact it surprises them, i mean it surprised me when i first heard about it. Now though i look at it differently. Why? Because now i operate within the bounds of Sapphire Press, i see first hand the actual processes behind the creation of a book. My first point stands, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE TYPOS, that in itself is exactly why we have this thing called a SECOND EDITION. 

So, onto my afternoon. I am fine with receiving comments from readers and feedback in general, and this afternoon i had two readers comment to me about the new edition of book one in the tidal kiss trilogy. There is an error, whereby half of one of the lines of text (about 6 words) has been deleted in either the printing or formatting of the book. This wasn't what made my afternoon bad though, what made it bad was how one of said readers decided to send me a personal message, basically attacking me because her book wasn't perfect. I was called pathetic and told i wasn't fit to publish. To clarify, this person said i should have better editing. Now, i remember seeing typos in books before and thinking the same thing, but that was before i was an author and that was before i knew what i know of my own work. I'll tell you something right now, short of releasing the book in draft form for the entire world to read i couldn't have had more highly trained eyes on my book. I have TWO EDITORS yes TWO. I have 6-8 beta readers who also screen for errors. I have a PROOFER and i have myself read and re-read The Kiss That Killed Me probably over a hundred times. I edited it on the computer and in paperback form. It's had line edits and grammar edits and special super sparkly edits. So before anyone says i can't just slap any old thing together and put it on amazon i want a say a giant fuck you. You as a reader aren't qualified to judge how many rounds of editing a manuscript has been through based on the final product. For a start i'd also like to point out that we use HUMANS for editing. This opens us up to a little thing called HUMAN error. It happens. Even to the best of us. I'm not perfect. The other thing i want to point out is the process by which errors are corrected. Not many people know this but the way in which my books are formatted means that to correct the errors the entire formatting needs to be stripped bare and redone, which can take HOURS and is too much to ask for only ONE error. Every few months i'll take a compiled list of errors to my formatter (who is fabulous by the way) and we'll sort out a handful at once, this is how it's always been done in the publishing industry whether traditional or indie, and it's how i plan to keep on doing it.

All this being said, i do appreciate being told about errors. However, there is a RIGHT way to do this and a WRONG way to do this. Going in all guns blazing and telling me i'm pathetic and not fit to publish is a definite resounding NO NO from me. I'm a human being. I make mistakes. I don't deserve to be attacked online and i CERTAINLY don't deserve to be told i shouldn't be publishing. I have a degree in english and have written most of life. There are a lot LESS qualified people out there publishing than me i assure you, just as there are many writers more qualified than I. So, the moral of this story is, when you want to tell an author about a typo, don't make them feel like a piece of dirt on the bottom of your shoe. Or they might just stop writing the stories you so claim to love. I'm not just an author or a name on a page. I'm a real human person with feelings.

Stay Classy,

Kristy Nicolle