Author Don’ts: The Author Photo Selfie

These days, anyone can be an author. You can type gibberish into a document and upload it to Amazon and voila, you’re an author. Which isn’t to belittle those of us who actually put effort into our work, but rather to provide an accurate view of the playing field. Some authors put no effort into their bios/product descriptions, leaving blatant typos/errors for all potential customers to see.12118933_10153258251404091_1352673674225516874_n

The first step toward building a fanbase is to look professional. You’re someone who has set out to convince people to pay money to read your work. It’s important to show that you take pride in that opportunity.

Making an Amazon author profile is important, but also incredibly easy. The whole process can take five minutes if you want it to. The question is, should you want it to?

No.

Of course not. It’s easy to spot the lazy ones. So don’t be one of them.

So where does the selfie come in?

People like selfies. The selfie stick will likely grow to be a billion dollar industry. Chances are, your phone or computers has some selfies on it. When you’re making an author profile, which requires a picture, it can be awfully tempting to put a selfie up there.

And really, why not?

The answer is simple. Professionalism. You know, the thing that shows you’re serious about providing a quality product that people should pay hard earned money for.

Many authors work on shoestring budgets and simply don’t have the money to hire a photographer for headshots. You don’t need to hire a professional to look professional. All you need is an Instagram filter and another human being.

I mean that. If taking an author photo was harder than asking someone to take your picture, I wouldn’t write this article. I get that it’s harder to ask someone for something than doing it yourself, but is that really an excuse?

Am I overthinking this? You may think so. You might have a selfie as your author photo. But consider this.

Would you have a selfie as your LinkedIn picture? If the answer is yes, then fine. Leave the selfie.

Your author picture isn’t really for you. It’s of you. It’s for your readers. In many ways, it’s the first connection you make with your audience. Regardless of what you choose to do, be aware of that.

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Five College Dialogues & Five More College Dialogues Are Live

My first book and its sequel have been rereleased! To celebrate, both books are .99 cents on kindle for the week. Join the fun and support the founder of A Song of Books and Whiskey

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Five College Dialogues is a philosophic comedic treatise on college life told through the eyes of George Tecce, a graduate student working as a teaching assistant for an eccentric English professor. Told through Socratic dialogue, George, his students, and his mentor explore all the ins and outs of college life as they examine the state of post-millennial academia. Humorous and thought provoking, the Dialogues are the perfect resource for students, especially those with a philosophy requirement, as well as anyone who wants to relive their four years in an entertaining fashion.

“A must read for students and nostalgic alumni”

Five More College Dialogues follows George Tecce’s return to academia as he travels to the West Coast to pursue his Ph.D. The intriguing graduate student is teaching a class on his own for the first time. George continues to help students navigate the ins and outs of college life while poking fun at the often-fickle nature of the collegiate system. He mentors them in a range of diverse subjects including social dynamics, resume building, and relationships. The learning doesn’t stop in the classroom as George even makes his way to a party! Humorous and philosophical, the Dialogues are a perfect resource for students to maximize their college experience.

Early Praise:
“Ian Thomas Malone has written the next must have, “how to guide” for college survival. He breaks down complex college issues with simple rapport. I wish something like this was written when I went to college and will make sure my two daughters have it packed in their trunks when they leave for school.”
–Sasha, Amazon Reviewer

“Ian Thomas Malone has written an accessible beginners’ guide for college students – and possibly those who pay the bills – that suggests as much how to ask questions as how to get the answers. Malone shows the continued relevance of Socratic dialogue as a tool to move the reader in small questions, and the choice itself of Socratic dialogue points readers to methods and opinions that beg to be remembered. Through well-penned contemporary dialogue and lighthearted examination of common opinions, Malone offers insights that young and old students will find funny and valuable, if not always comforting. Malone’s captivating style establishes an enjoyable pace, and Malone’s unique, often ironic, exploration of college life in America, and its frightening shallows (of which there are many), enlightens as well as entertains.”
–J. Eric, Amazon Reviewer

“An excellent series of dialogues giving an accurate portrayal of the issues a typical college freshman will face.” –Maura, Amazon Reviewer

About the author:
Ian Thomas Malone, a graduate of Boston College, founded the publication The Rock at Boston College. He is a certified yoga instructor and a Meisner trained actor. Ian will be pursuing a Masters in English Literature at Claremont Graduate University starting fall 2015, where he has been awarded a writing fellowship. A lifelong resident, Ian lives in Greenwich, CT with his golden retriever Georgie.

“I wrote The Dialogues as both a resource for current students and a humorous reflection for alumni. You’ll find plenty of information out there that tells you how to survive college, but few that really tell you how to enjoy it. The Dialogues explain college in a way that no RA would think to tell you.” -Malone

Here are the amazon buy links for both books.

Five College Dialogues

Five More College Dialogues

Stephanie Meyer’s Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined Is Pathetic

I get asked about Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey more than any other books, including my own. Given that Fifty Shades started off as Twilight fan fiction (I kid you not), the two will always be linked. Unfortunately, it appears that with Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, Stephanie Meyer is the one taking a leaf out of E.L. James’ book, who published her own reimaging, Grey, earlier this year.

Though I don’t begrudge anyone who loathes these works of “literature,” I don’t mind that they exist. Anything that gets people reading is fine by me. There’s no doubt that Twilight played a major role in the rise of young adult fiction. In a time where young people have more distractions than ever, it’s good to have books that they’re genuinely interested in reading.

The problem comes with the aftermath. Twilight was a tetralogy (a potentially confusing word to Twilight fans, also known as “Twihards”) and Fifty Shades was a trilogy. They’re finished. Done. Those series had a beginning, middle, and end. Now if you want to go and make more, fine. Hollywood does that all the time.

Was there really a need to reimagine Twilight with swapped gender roles? Granted, Meyer previously attempted a reimaging with Midnight Sun, an unpublished work that was going to retell the story through Edward’s point of view that was abandoned after the first part was leaked on the internet. It’s not like there’s absolutely nowhere to go with this story. Edward and Bella did have a kid.

Some people may point to money as the predominant reason. I’m not buying that. According to several sources, Meyers is worth $125 million. She doesn’t need the money.

Now, I don’t know her, but I’d be willing to bet that she misses the fame. Twilight is what she’s known for. Her only other book, The Host, was a hit, though the film adaptation didn’t do very well at the box office. There are apparently plans to do more Host books, but The Host isn’t Twilight and it never will be.life-and-death-twilight-reimagined

She wants people to talk about her. Mission accomplished. Problem is, the reaction isn’t really all that positive.

This is lazy. Meyer is lazy and what she is doing is bad for the industry. She is drowning out talented authors with this lazy, pathetic, crap. You could argue that everything she does is crap, and I won’t fight you, but she has a right to publish.

She has a right to do this as well, though it’s no different than if I were to not flush the toilet in my apartment after taking a dump when I had company over. I have a right to leave brown trout stewing in my own bathroom, but people aren’t going to like me if that’s the kind of respect I choose to show toward my peers.

People have asked me to do a version of Courting Mrs. McCarthy from Jackie’s point of view, which would sort of be the same thing. I get it. Even though she’s the title character, Mrs. McCarthy probably only appears in about a third of the text. I’m not going to do that. Why? It’s lazy. A sequel would continue the story. Who really wants to backtrack?

I hate that the publishing world seems to only get excited when books like Grey or Harper Lee’s highly controversial Go Set a Watchman surface. Why are we celebrating other people’s scraps when there’s so much out there? It’s sad.

Did I fuel the fire by writing this? Maybe, though I don’t imagine Stephanie Meyer would be too please to read this. If she likes it, maybe I’ll swap genders and write it again wearing lululemon leggings and a crop top.

Are We Really In This Together?

The Internet is filled with inspirational stuff for you to look at instead of doing whatever it is you should be doing. That’s okay. I imagine it works for some people.

 

Being an author is tough, especially in the year 2015. There are a lot of us. The market is flooded and that’s really not a great thing. I’m not suggesting that we should do anything to buck the trend, but the simple truth of the matter is that there’s a lot of stuff published that isn’t worth reading.

It’s true. The only people who can truly be blamed are those who put error ridden crap up on Amazon, and no, I’m not singling out self published people. Which brings me to the question presented as the title of this article.

Here is an image I see on the Internet at least once a week. “Other authors are not my competition. I stand with them, not against them.”

False.IMG_4003

Other authors are your competition. When a person buys a book that isn’t yours, they chose someone else over you. They may not know who you are, but it doesn’t matter. A book was sold and it wasn’t yours. You lost out on that.

The reason I hate that picture is because of the second sentence. It implies that treating your fellow authors as competition means you’re against them. That’s just silly.

I get tons of requests from people who want me to plug their books. If I don’t know the person, I almost always say no. If I do know the person, I almost always say yes. So here I am, Ian Thomas Malone, saying, “other authors are my competition. I stand with some of them, the ones I like.”

Now this might anger you if you don’t know me. “How could he possibly say such a thing? Madness.” Not at all.

Saying “we’re in this together” is comforting for many people, especially since most publishers offer next no marketing support. Your buddies can do wonders for your career. I care about my author friends.

Do I care about the rest? Sort of. I don’t mean that facetiously either. Only that, I don’t particularly care if authors I don’t know succeed. I don’t wish them ill, I just want to be better than them.

The only real catastrophic disaster that would ensue if all publishing stopped for a year would be that bookstores would likely all go under. Readers wouldn’t run out of books. We don’t need any more authors.

That’s not to say I’m not supportive of people who aspire to be authors, though I’m naturally skeptical until they actually start writing. I just acknowledge the facts of the world we live in. There are rankings for a reason. Many of us want to be number one. That means someone else has to be number two.

I love my author friends and know that none of them will take offense to any of this because they know it’s true just as well as I do. The theme song to Pokemon starts off with “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was.” Children’s cartoons are usually right.

Other authors are your competition. That doesn’t mean it’s all out war like The Hunger Games. Although in keeping with that, we can learn something from Suzanne Collins.

You can be friends with your competition. You should be friends with some of them. Learn from them and strive to be better. That’s how you really support other authors.

 

Book Feature: By The Stars by Jessica Marie Baumgartner

Genre: Science Fiction/Space opera

Synopsis: Allie is faced with her worst nightmare as she boards a space ship that will transport her and her children from their home forever. The human population has dwindled to around 15,000 as the Earth’s become hostile. If they stay they will die.
The alien race who’s come to their rescue seem to have no concept of selfishness, but Allie has her doubts. She’s separated from her husband and left to fend for her family on her own. It’s up to her to make sure that they survive the trip across the stars.excerpt1

Author bio:

Jessica is a member of The St. Louis Writer’s Guild. Her stories have been featured by Bewildering Stories, Fiction on the Web, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Hellfire Crossroads, and others. She has a Paranormal Romance novelette titled Tale of Two Bookends through Cobblestone Press LLC, and a children’s book about religious diversity and acceptance titled, My Family Is Different. You check her out at http://www.jessicamariebaumgartner.com

Social media Links:

Author Website: http://www.jessicamariebaumgartner.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicamariebaumgartner
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessmbaum

Book Excerpt:

I used to have nightmares about this. I would wake up scream¬ing as they forced me to leave. People giving up; abandoning Mother Earth. The thought alone caused my heart to race, my under arms to sweat.

Here I stand clutching my children, one on each side, as we pre¬pare to be torn away from everything that’s tangible. Before me, a gargantuan structure glares from above. This beast, this ship is supposed to save humanity, or at least what’s left of it.

I’ve lived through mass devastation. It’s hardened me enough.Jessica Marie Baumgartner

But leaving? It still scares me.

We have no idea what’s out there for us.

My husband has faith in the alien colony that is aiding us. They made contact just in time. Said they had revolutionized their space program and stumbled upon our signal.

I don’t know what I believe.
As the line moves forward, I pull my girls along. They stumble ahead with fright, carrying their backpacks strapped to their bodies. Our packs are the only human luggage allowed on the crowded craft. But that’s not what they’re worried about.

It’s not the new race they fear. Or even the new world. It is the missing presence of their father.

Purchase Links:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/by-the-stars-jessica-marie-baumgartner/1122366009?ean=9781943755035

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stars-Book-One-Embracing-Entropy-ebook/dp/B0128Z4FLE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438352585&sr=8-1&keywords=by+the+stars+jessica+baumgartner

European Geeks Publishing: http://www.europeangeeks.com/by-the-stars.html