"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Friday, March 30, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Dakota Banks, Author of the Mortal Path Series

Kiki, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to appear on Authors by Authors. It’s a pleasure visiting you and your blog readers.

I was inspired by that double Author reference in your blog name to talk about writing experiences today, including sharing the advice of other authors. You’ve probably heard the expression that publishing a book is like giving birth to a child. I’d say it’s more like giving birth to an elephant. That’s 22 months of carrying that critter around and then allowing the passage of a 250-pound baby into the world. It may not literally be like that, but it might seem like that.

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel s**t from a sitting position.” Stephen King

Writing should be a joy to accomplish, and usually is—except when it isn’t. Authors can go through difficult times with their books, times when they begin to wonder if they shouldn’t pitch the whole thing, while simultaneously loving it. Very much like raising teenagers. The teen (book) has to be told what to do over and over (wandering from the plot), won’t clean up its room (bad writing), stays out after curfew (oh, those long, frustrating writing sessions), and gives you no respect (sentences refuse to convey your vision). What can you do? Persist.

“Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...” - Michael Crichton

Putting your book under the knife can be very difficult. I’d suggest waiting at least a couple of weeks after you finish it to let the glow of creation wear off; it will help you be more objective. Don’t rush this process. If you become bored/frustrated/frightened that your work won’t measure up, take a break and work on something else. Editors will know if the editing job has been rushed because there will be a lot of places where the book doesn’t live up to its own standards, the ones it sets in its best moments. Readers will know because the reading experience won’t be enjoyable. Even if you have a dynamic plot and characters with much potential, you can flub things up by not pruning excess scenes, having stiff dialogue, and leaving your manuscript loaded with logical errors. This will give the impression (and it will probably be right) that the book was hastily written and rushed to market. What’s the hurry? Agents and editors want books that will need minimal work to be publishable. Don’t disappoint them. If you’re self-publishing, how are you going to build up a reading audience that will look for your next book if you provide a reading experience that shows that you didn’t care enough about your writing project to take great care with it? If you didn’t, why should readers?

Personally I enjoy editing. I do a lot of editing on my first pass through the book, so what I end up with isn’t a rough draft, it’s a semi-polished one. Making that manuscript better and better is very satisfying, yet I never reach a point where I feel it matches my inner vision for the story. I only come closer. And that leads to...

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.... I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” - Erica Jong

There isn’t much that needs to be said here. You can put away your manuscript out of fear of this or that, and you will guarantee that it is never published. Shipping that 250-pound baby out of the house is the only way. Target your prospects carefully, learn how they want to be queried, and do it right.

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” - Kurt Vonnegut

If you haven’t been living off-planet for the last few years, you’ve noticed the huge increase in non-traditionally-published books. In 2010, Bowker reported that U.S. publishers issued 300,000+ books, but more than 2.7 million non-traditional books were published. Surely those non-traditional numbers have grown since 2010. (Figures approximate.) This is for both fiction and non-fiction; fiction usually runs about 20% of the total, so that means roughly 60,000 traditionally-published novels and 540,000 non-traditionally published novels in 2010. Not all of those 540,000 were original books, because digital reprints have been growing in popularity as authors push their backlists out as ebooks. This means that, considering only the traditional publishing route, there are over 60,000 novels competing with yours in the year of publication.

Who is not suffering greatly from this competition? Brand name authors whose books are highly promoted by their publishing companies. (Don’t detect any sour grapes here; I wish them all well and would love to be one of those brand names myself!) That means each year, the pot of sales for the rest of us gets smaller and smaller as new authors enter the field. Considering self-published authors, many will set a low price on their ebooks to attract attention and try to build sales. If you are traditionally published, you’re stuck with the price the publisher sets for both print and ebook. My $7.99 ebooks have to compete with the $.99 ones. You have to be motivated to spend eight times as much on my book! Also, sales per book may be shrinking if you’re not a well-branded author. Lower sales means lower contract advances across the board, as publishers get nervous about whether the author will be able to earn out his or her advance.

What can you do to get out of this cycle? The answer is increase sales by working your butt off to get your book noticed among all the others in your genre (or in mainstream). Promotion is more important than ever; use social media to the max, spend dollars wisely on advertising, and work closely with your assigned publicist. Communicate and make friends with your publicist. He or she is handling a lot more books than just yours. If you never have any contact, the easiest path for your publicist is to do the minimum prescribed by department’s procedures. I’m not saying that’s bad. They’re very busy people and it’s human nature. But you want your publicist to know who you are and to think of you as cooperative, working hard on promotion yourself, and friendly. The same thing goes for your editor. Be sure to keep your editor informed (without making a pest of yourself) on how your efforts are going—send in a nice review. Even small things can tip the scales.  

If you are an instant success, I applaud you, and will you please blurb my next book? If not, keep writing and keep publishing. The cream does rise to the top.

“Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it's the readers who build that world in their own minds.” - Ursula Le Guin

Authors’ quotes used in this post came from Quotes About Writing.

About The Author: 
Twitter: @dakotabanks or http://dbanks.me/DBtwit
The Deliverance Book Trailerhttp://dbanks.me/DelTrl

About The Book:

Deliverance: Mortal Path Book 3

Harper Voyager
Paperback, $7.99, ISBN-13: 978-0062049988
eBook, ISBN-13: 978-0062049995
Release date March 27, 2012
A demon's assassin for centuries, Maliha Crayne has gone rogue, determined to save a life for every one she's destroyed in order to free herself from an eternity of enslavement, damnation, and excruciating torment. But as the powers that sustained her in the past fade, she is wary of trusting those closest to her-especially her lover, Jake. Should Maliha listen to her heart or the alarms going off in her head? Then her closest friends begin to disappear, one by one. Amid her anger, suspicion, and sorrow, she feels her life spiraling out of control.
Worse still, a beautiful, Renaissance murderess is recruiting Maliha as her new assassin. Maliha is turning into a lethal puppet with an evil Immortal pulling the strings, forced to kill innocents or see her missing friends die horribly. Suddenly trapped in a moral no-man's land, Maliha is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't…and time is rapidly running out. 

A Mortal Path Swag Bag, consisting of a tote bag, 3 signed books, pens, bookmarks, magnets, and a calculator. 
All you have to do is leave a comment below with a way to contact you if you win. Winner will be chosen and contacted in a week. 
Author mails internationally.


  1. I have not read any of this series yet, but it does sound good. I am strictly a reader but the post was very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing with us.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  2. Thank you for this amazing contest! (:

    blissfulrains (at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. great post.Enjoyed reading it.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

  4. awesome post! Ive been wanting to check these books out for a while now. Thanks so much for the opportunity


  5. I have not had a chance to read this series but it does sound really good. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

    pefrw at yahoo dot com

  6. Great Series. Thank you for the giveaway


  7. What a wonderful and inspiring post. Thank you for taking the time to share with us and congratulations on the release of Deliverance,can't wait to read it!


  8. Hi Dakota.....great post! I would love to be an author and actually I have sat down and tried to come up with a great story, but I can't seem to come up with anything that hasn't been done to death!!! It's harder than it would seem on the outside so I applaud you guys for the great stories you put out!!!

  9. Hey Traci,

    You can't get too hung up on the fact that a story idea you think of has been "done to death," because what you're looking for is a fresh slant in telling the story, an exciting world to build around the story, and dynamite characters. After all, it's said that Shakespeare got to all the good plots first! When you boil down the Mortal Path to its basic core, it's about a woman seeking redemption. Talk about being done before! Everything else is Urban Fantasy add-ons and my writing style.

  10. I haven't read this series yet but it definitely sounds like one I would enjoy. I will look forward to reading them. Thank you so much for the excellent giveaway.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  11. Would love to win. Have not read any of Dakota's books yet. Have heard great things about this series, but have not read. I love to read and always looking for new books and authors to check out.

  12. Thanks you a lot for this new opportunity to win your books.
    I hope i will be lucky enough and finally discover them

    all the best


  13. What a totally awesome giveaway!

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  14. hi Dakota!! thanks for another opportunity to win :)


  15. Thanks for the reassuring advice! Your series sounds great, and thanks for the awesome contest!
    Val at valmuller dot com

  16. Thank you so much for the chance to win this books!! I would love to read them!


  17. I'm glad you mentioned editing. As a reader of a lot of self-published books, editing can be the biggest problem. As a writer, it's something I am obsessed with!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake



In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.