Episode 116B – JP McLean – Hiring Services

Overview

JP is back to talk about her experience with hiring book services, especially an editor. We discuss things new authors should know and think about and how that may change as you become more experienced.

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Transcript

All righty. Which I have author questions, but let’s go back to earlier. What we, what you were talking. Which, what was that now?

I forget it was Paning.

[00:19:46] JP: That was Paning 1 0 1. Yes. You’d take a scene. I, like I say, I didn’t ever anticipate I would be a full-time author, so I hadn’t gone the traditional route in terms of learning the craft. I have since taken tons of courses on writing. But at the time I thought I’ll never have an idea big enough for books.

So it just didn’t occur to me to do that. So starting with one scene in hindsight was absolutely the way to go. And I would actually, that’s what I recommend to people who are in that stage where they wanna write, but they don’t know if they can do it, or they don’t know if they’ve got a good enough idea, because I could not believe how the ideas came to me after I had that one little nugget in place and that nugget didn’t even end up in the final book.

Bits and pieces of it did, but not that final nugget. So that’s definitely a good way to start writing. And it’s a pastor way. And I did pants that first book entirely. I pants part of the second book, I pants less of the third book. The more I got into the series, the more I needed to depend on an outline.

And now I outline, I wouldn’t say extensively, but I do know where the story starts. I know where it ends. And I know most of the major scenes in between. OK. Most of the major ones, I there’s still room to Go off and explore a little bit, but but much more structured now.

[00:21:20] Stephen: Okay. Several things with all of that.

First of all, I totally agree. I love the fact that you just sat down and started writing and you didn’t, weren’t worried about a book and even a story. It was just a scene. And I think that type of thinking takes off all the pressure and I, a lot of times, myself, a lot of the author friends, I have. It’s that internal pressure of, oh my God, I gotta get a story.

I gotta make it good. I gotta do the right sentences. Take all that away and just write something. It just keeps going. I think that’s sometimes our own biggest hurdle is that that’s there you go. How to start, just write a scene, do that.

[00:22:01] JP: Yeah. Most of us have a scene in us.

[00:22:03] Stephen: yes.

Yes. And now you, that you also said that now you’re doing a lot more outlining. And this current book, you said it was won several awards. Do you think your writing has improved because you’re outlining or that you improved because you started outlining. Does that make sense?

[00:22:21] JP: Yeah, it does. I don’t think the outlining has anything to do with the awards.

I think that people have different ways of organizing their thoughts in writing. Whereas my strength might be the way I do it now. It took me a while to get to the point where I am at now, where I do it. So I think that in the end it’s just good writing. It’s good storytelling and it’s good writing in the end.

So I don’t really think it’s the outlining for me. It’s how I function best to tell a story. Now it wasn’t during the first book, but I think that all authors are individuals and they will find their own path.

[00:23:02] Stephen: Okay. Alright. So with your writing, what services, what software, that type of thing do you use?

[00:23:10] JP: I use word. Okay. It’s the only thing I’ve ever used. I do have Scrivener. It’s a very old version, but I couldn’t figure it out. And I was too anxious to write. So I didn’t wanna spend the time figuring out the software when I knew words. So I just stuck with word and I actually format myself as well. And I used word to format the books.

So a word is my go to, for sure. I use other services for the publishing part of.

[00:23:40] Stephen: Okay. And you’re on your second series, your seventh book. What are some things you’ve learned that you’re doing different besides the pantsing versus outlining? Is there anything else that you’re, you’ve learned that you’re you’ve changed since you started?

[00:23:56] JP: Yes. , I’ve changed so much. I wanna mention first, before we go any further, the one thing I haven’t changed and I would so highly recommend it is if you can afford to have an editor. Get an editor. I have learned more from my editors and even my proofread than I have learned from all my grammar and writing combined.

So that nice. My first thing I, and I try different editors too, so that I can learn more . The other thing that I’ve learned is how important reviews. When you’re launching a book I encourage people to try to get as many reviews as they possibly can write out the gate. It is important. It does give your book higher visibility.

And I use reserve review services. I use two of them. I use one that’s called book sprout, and I use another one called hidden gems. Those are the two I use right now. So definitely do that. And The other thing that I do is I use a company called book funnel and book funnel allows me to send my book to our creators, the advanced reader, copy readers and not worry about whether they can load it up on their particular platform that they’re using.

And it’s also how I gift books to people. And it is also how I distribute the books that the short stories I give away on my newsletter. Sign up.

[00:25:32] Stephen: Yeah. Book funnels pretty easy and can do quite a few things for what you know it is. I like book, funnel myself, used it a couple different ways.

They have audio now that they offer that’s right. And they’ve used.

[00:25:49] JP: Pardon me? They’re reasonably priced too.

[00:25:51] Stephen: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So this kinda leads right into our main topic today. And that’s a problem. I think a lot of authors have and that’s, we can’t necessarily do it all and we shouldn’t do it all.

We should hire out. You mentioned an editor. I know somebody that wrote a book spent four and a half years researching and writing this long book and. Said I’m not going to give it to an editor because I don’t think the editor would get what I’m doing and they would just wanna change too many things.

And the book wasn’t really super. So you said an editor. Did you always plan to have an editor or did that, was that something that you like realized afterwards when you started using one? I was very lucky. My husband’s brother, my brother-in-law Is retired now, but he was an editor at a newspaper.

[00:26:50] JP: And I gave him the book first. It took every ounce of courage. I had to give it to him and he came back and he said, you need an editor. And I hadn’t even occurred to me. And so that started me on the path of using an editor. So I had an editor from the very get go, but it wasn’t like I thought of it myself.

It was him mentioning it to me. So thank goodness he did because every single book. When I first get the editor’s comments back, I usually curse and I go, oh, they don’t know what they’re talking about. And I throw it in a drawer. And then a couple days later I pull it out and it’s oh yeah. Okay. I knew that.

I knew that needed fixed and oh, wow. That’s a really good idea. Oh geez. I wish ID thought of that. And then you end up with a book that is so much better.

[00:27:38] Stephen: I absolutely agree. And I agree. I’ve learned a lot from a couple different editors. My first book had no plan, no real thought didn’t really even have an, a whole story.

It put some things in there as I went along. And then when it came back from the editor, it was like 20 pages of notes. And at first I was. Oh, my gosh, they’re ripping me apart. It was either this editor’s stupid. And then it was like maybe I just really suck. But I calmed down and put it aside.

And when I put it back out and read it with a more critical eye, I’m like, yeah, everything that the editor pointed out were those areas that I was unsure of, or that I really wasn’t comfortable with, but, oh, I’m gonna do this. And. Yeah, I agree. And I ended up like ripping half the book out and it literally cut it in half with what was left.

Yeah. So I’ve learned a lot from editors. I don’t always agree and I don’t make every single change that they want occasionally, but I think over time, my writing has grown and I can make that choice a little better. And I don’t just off the cuff. Oh, I’m not gonna do that. It sometimes there really is a good reason to make the change.

Yeah,

[00:28:53] JP: I agree. And I think that the more you write and the more you go through that process, the more you the quicker you can make those decisions. Like now when I get the edit back, I know which ones resonate, which ones I’m gonna go with. And the ones that I know I’m not gonna go with it’s instant.

I just say, that’s not the character that wasn’t like, that’s not right, but all the rest of it, I take everything. Yeah. And yet I did learn which I didn’t know when I first started and I do now. I can’t remember at what point I finally twigged to it, but I was using a substantive editor, so I was getting big ideas back the overall arching ideas like this character, isn’t doing enough or.

The scene isn’t doing an offer. You can probably cut this chapter, start the story here rather than where you started it. So that stuff I was getting, but what I wasn’t getting was the copy edit. I did the proofread and the substantive edit, but the copy edit in between I wasn’t doing and granted it’s extra money.

I didn’t have extra money to spend on it anyway, but now I do. And I am more aware as I’m writing of the things, the copy editor points out, like when I’ve repeated the same word in a paragraph or within two or three paragraphs. My strengths, my weaknesses in writing and sentence structure.

So that’s strengthened me as well is copy editing. I think that’s another important thing. It’s an extra step. If you can afford to do it, I would recommend you do.

[00:30:26] Stephen: Okay there you go. And what are some other things that you. Could do on your own, but you feel it’s easier and better to use somebody else.

What are like your cover? Did you do those

[00:30:39] JP: yourself? No, that was one thing I learned when I was starting off there weren’t a lot of prefab covers at that point, or I wasn’t aware of them if there were, and the cover designers wanted a lot of money. So it was either you did it yourself or you paid a lot of money for custom cover.

And so I hired a graphic designer. To do the series originally, I think I had four books in the series with a different cover and realized that the cover wasn’t doing me any favors, it was beautiful, but it wasn’t a book cover the book cover designers, know what they’re doing, they know what the font should look like.

They know the treatment on the front. And they know how to get the attention of people who read your genre. So that was one thing I learned. And I now have a cover designer that I work really well with and we do, we’ve done all the covers. Including blood mark. And the other thing that I can’t stress enough that I have benefited from enormously is finally getting myself a publicist and that’s because in order to get.

Word of your book out, you have to spend time finding the best places to either talk to other, like a podcaster like yourself, for example, or other vlogs or other authors that you can do newsletter swaps with and share. and getting press coverage in the newspapers, local newspapers and such, and I was bad at it.

I hated doing it. And I wasn’t confident in my ability to present my ideas or even the synopsis of the books. And so I hired Mickey of creative edge publicity, and he has taken me from not being able to. Speak very well at all about my books to being quite confident and enjoying talking about them and enjoying talking about the writing craft.

And he has found lots of opportunities and he I’ve put them all on my website and you can flip through them. And it’s just rolling down pages now of all of the opportunities that he has found for me that I’ve been able to take advantage of. So if you don’t like doing that part of the job, definitely get yourself a public.

[00:33:01] Stephen: Got yeah, absolutely. Totally agree. So you got a publicist, you have a cover designer, you have an editor. Is there any other service that a lot of authors may do themselves that you would recommend? They don’t?

[00:33:18] JP: The review service is the one that is you can ask all of your friends and relatives and all of their friends and relatives to, to write reviews for you.

A you’re not supposed to be putting reviews on there that are written by anybody that is not at arm’s length from you. You won’t know enough people, you won’t know enough people. So if you can get on book sprout or hidden gems and set up a time slot where you will provide your free review copies.

To get reviews on all of the retailer book Bob good reads Amazon Cobo nook, as many reviews out there as possible. So that’s another resource that I use. What else can I say for resources that I have farmed out?

[00:34:08] Stephen: Do you think that your sales. Are helped by using all these different services and professionals, or maybe not.

Obviously you wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t helping. But did you actually, as you added these, did you see the sales go up? Did you see interest go up?

[00:34:27] JP: I’ve seen the sales go up since my collaboration with Mickey, for sure. The sales have gone up with the exposure. There’s no question about that.

But the other thing that has happened is when I was first starting out, of course, you’re trying to do it all yourself and it is exhausting and overwhelming to the point where sometimes I used to sit back and say, I just, I can’t do this anymore. It’s too much keeping up Twitter, keeping up Facebook, keeping up.

The social part of it. And then the writing part, like the writing seemed to fall off and that’s the most important part. And I ended up having 20 minutes in the morning where I could write, cause the rest of the day was completely absorbed and everything else. So having a few things like this in place gives me more time to write and it takes the load off.

And I say Mickey in particular, because that was my biggest load at that point in. Trajectory in my career was trying to get that exposure. And it was just so frustrating cuz I didn’t wanna do it. And when I did it, I felt Ugh I at different points, if you find yourself overwhelmed, I would suggest you take a look at what you’re doing and see if you can farm any of it out.

Any of it like right now I would like to farm out the social part of it, or at least one or two of the platforms, cuz I wanna stay on the platforms, but doing it once a day is becoming problematic. I guess I’m ready to maybe take a look myself and see what else is it that I can farm out and do.

And the more books you can sell, the more you can afford to farm out this stuff. And it’s like that vicious circle I was just gonna say that it’s kinda a, you’re caught in that vicious circle. You start farming things out to write more, and then you have more books. You have to farm more things out, then you, so it’s you get caught, but that’s a good problem to have.

[00:36:15] Stephen: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:36:17] JP: I also wanna say just in, I just don’t want there to be any misconceptions. There’s no getting rich in this game. I don’t really think unless you’re Victoria Avard or Ann, Charles, there’s no huge financial payoff. It’s just an awful lot of hard work and you really gotta love writing to, to be in this.

[00:36:40] Stephen: And so do you have any services that you have used maybe not by name, but anything you’ve done or used that, that didn’t work out, that you changed or got rid

[00:36:51] JP: of? I don’t do Facebook ads anymore. I tried very hard and I just couldn’t get them to work. So Facebook is. Not something that I’m on and I enjoy the conversations I have with people on there, but I don’t do advertising on there anymore.

So that’s one that didn’t pan out. Other words? No, the more yeah, I couldn’t say that there was one that I am not using anymore that I started to use.

[00:37:24] Stephen: All right. And before we sign off on our author section and you’ve got a chapter you wanna read do you have any last minute advice for new authors?

Yeah.

[00:37:36] JP: Other than that one scene start with one scene. The one thing that I would say is that a lot of times you get in your head that you’re in competition with other author. And I just can’t say enough how that is not true. You aren’t in competition. The people who are authors are the people that are gonna lend you a hand and pull you up and you and tune are gonna turn around and pull someone up else behind you.

So when you have the opportunity to share other authors work or recommend their works. You should take that opportunity again, that’s not a competition. People read more than one book and they read more than one genre. So I, as much, and as often as I can, I recommend books that I’ve enjoyed. I will give those authors a hand up and then pay it forward.

[00:38:19] Stephen: Nice. Great. All right. JP, I appreciate talking about your book, talking about the author stuff. So everybody listen up for part three, cuz we’re gonna have a little chapter read.

[00:38:31] JP: Okay. I’ll get right into it then. So this is blood mark. It’s the story of Jane Walker and the marks that have formed her life.

And this is August 8th. This is the first chapter.

Jane Walker might have been the only person in Vancouver, not afraid to be in a downtown alley at half past midnight shadows, clung to fishers and corners, morphing into nightmare shapes as she. A warm breeze, stirred the scent to brought in garbage, along with her gag reflex rescuing Sadie was getting old.

One of these nights Sadie’s unique way of punishing herself would be the death of them both and maybe Jane’s bike Jane Park next to Ethan’s fat boy in the hopes his reputation would spill over and protect her cherished Honda to 500. But the caged bulb above the back door worried her, it bled a weak circle of light that pulled near the bike.

It was a toss up, whether it would draw attention or act as a deterrent. She said a prayer for the ladder and removed her helmet, a slamming door, punctuated, a heated argument drifting down from a nearby apartment. She raped her long hair forward to hide the worst of the birthmark on her face and walked around the corner.

Bypassing the drags, a RipTide’s nightly cue, a bouncer. She knew manned the door, his steady gay slid sideways at her approach. Booze from the lineup he held at bay, prompted him to inhale, emphasizing the girth of his chest. He flexed bicep larger than her thighs tipped his chin and let her path. She nodded her thanks and stepped inside a cocktail of perfume and stale, sweat assaulted her pumping music reverberated in her chest.

As she scanned the bar for Ethan Bryce and found him pouring shots, a seasoned bartend. He worked the room like a ringside bookie at an illegal fight, smiling with one eye and watching for trouble with the other. Thanks for calling. Jane said pressing into the bar. Where is she? Ethan held or gaze a moment longer than necessary.

Then swiped his head to the lap. Jane followed his line of sight to the dance floor where her roommate swayed out of step with the. Sadie had gone with tasteful tonight wearing her L B D as she called her little black dress. Her client must have been a high roller. Unlike the Reed up jock strap.

Now keeping Sadie upright with a hand on her ass and a sure bet. Smile on his face. Jane stro through the dancers and stopped short of her Sadie. She shouted over the music. Sadie lifted her head from jock straps shoulder and struggled to focus. NA. She blew it. A stray blonde curl. Jane winced at the nickname.

Sadie rarely used in public. Her jock strap asked. Sure. Tim meet narc hands with us. Sadie reached for Jane. Her mascara had SMUD leaving charcoal shadows under her eyes. It’s what, two lines of Coke and a few too many vodka chasers look like Jane shook, her hand, took her hand. Let’s go home. She’s with me tonight, honey.

Jock strap said tugging Sadie’s arm away from Jane. She looked down to Sadie with a smarmy smile. He looked down to Sadie with a smarmy smile. Aren’t you baby? Sadie squinted up at him. When she looked back at Jane Sparks of awareness surfaced, she pushed against his chest. I gotta go gotta go. He said, dragging her back.

Stay with me, baby. We’re having fun. Aren’t we. How about to bring her back tomorrow. Jane said, when she’s not wasted, Sadie stumbled as jock strap twisted to put himself between the two women. I’ve made an investment here. Charming Jane thought recoiling from a stale bill, ear, spittle. She was quick in a fight and had the advantage of being sober.

But jock strap had a hundred pounds on her and a hard on with a destination. She knew Ethan wouldn’t tolerate her, pulling a knife in rip tide. So she’d have to dissuade jock straps some other way. She looked to the floor. Mercedes she’d expose her marks. Only Mercedes an eye full of ugly often gave her a split second advantage.

He was already wobbling. Shouldn’t be too hard to knock him on his ass. She shifted the grip on her helmet and widened her stance during drawing a calming. Then in one swift motion, she swung the curtain of hair away from her face. She’s going home. Jane said pressing upward into jock straps, personal space to ensure he got a good look at the thick blood red birthmark that slashed an angle from her forehead to her temple.

It looked like the work of a medieval battle, a acts. He shrunk back with a familiar snarl of revulsion. Already prime. Jane was ready to launch when a firm hand landed on her shoulder, halting her everything. All right here. Ethan asked squeezing harder than he needed to. Jane felt a pinch of resentment as his interference, jock straps, gaze darted to the figure standing behind Jane Ethan wasn’t big, but his reputation was, he didn’t cross him unless you had generous sick leave benefits, shock straps, nostrils, flared.

He pinched his. Neither men moved long seconds later, jock strap, haltered, and blew out a deflating breath, his bravado, and sure bet. Attitude faded along with his hopes of getting laid. He released Sadie with a little shove go on. Then he said, take out the trash. He stalked away and called over his shoulder.

And it’s Tom not fucking Tim. Yeah. Jane mumble, not fucking Tom. With the shake of her head, Jane settled her hair back into place. She wrapped a steady arm around Sadie’s shoulder and turned her around, bumping into Ethan who stood in their path. You okay? He said that his expression was a warning. She’d forced his hand and he didn’t like that.

Yeah. Watch my ride. I’ll come by in the morning to pick her up. Jimmy will keep an eye on her. Ethan said before he swaggered back to the bar. Ethan’s faith in the stubble faced panhandler who hung around the bar was a mystery to Jane. She opened Sadie purse and fished out her keys. Rick new chapter, Rick Atkins kept his back to the dance floor and gazed at Sadie reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

Not that Sadie would recognize him in glasses, in a full beard, but Lance had served him well to this point. He wouldn’t tempt fate when he was so close to his end. He watched the woman who called herself Jane flasher markings, like a Blowfish in the face of a predator shark who groped at Sadie. Jane had no inkling of the damage.

She was capable of inflicting, but not for long ripped down his beer and slinked out the door. And that’s it.

[00:45:42] Stephen: I turned my mic off. So any noises wouldn’t interrupt and bother. Great. I usually put that as a I do an B and a C episode. So C is the chapter read. So I’ll put that as a C nice. I, that gets some people interested and they wanna pick up the rest of it. That’s good. Me too. Great. All well, JP, I appreciate you taking some time.

I’ll let you know when this goes live. It’ll be probably close to the end of July, I believe. Terrific. The schedule.

[00:46:09] JP: Thanks so much for having me, Steven really appreciate it.

[00:46:11] Stephen: Yeah. I appreciate you being.

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