The Truth About Writer Moms and Deadlines

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

It seems as though we live our lives by deadlines, and this is a good thing. After all, they keep us focused and productive, which is essential if we ever want to move forward in our chosen professions.

Deadlines are especially important for us writers–whether we’re writing an article for a major magazine or self-publishing a novella, it’s imperative to take our craft seriously, and that means sticking to deadlines–whether they’re self-imposed or not.

I never had a problem with deadlines; during my school days, my assignments were always done on time. During my stint as a pharmacist, I would stop at nothing to make sure that people had their prescriptions ready by the promised time. When I transitioned into my career as a self-published author, I created my own deadlines. Suddenly, I didn’t have teachers or patients breathing down my neck, and I was able to be totally self-directed, which I loved.

For the first year, I churned out one new book per month, sometimes two if I released a box set, and I stuck to my deadlines religiously. When Antonio and I were blessed with our daughter last October, I set slightly less aggressive deadlines, and was able to meet them all… that is, until about a month ago when I had to ask my editor for my first-ever extension.

Even if your clock is this cool-looking, it's still reminding you of the dreaded deadline. :)

Even if your clock is this cool-looking, it’s still reminding you of the dreaded deadline. :)

 

Every muscle in my body tensed at the mere thought of an extension. I felt like I had failed–my editor, my readers, and, most of all, myself. Yet there was no way that I could’ve submitted my book by the promised date. I’d been traveling, but I’d thought I’d have plenty of opportunities to make up for lost time while Xaviana napped. However, when she began teething, her naps (i.e., my writing time) became irregular, and I just couldn’t catch up.

The good news was that I set a new deadline with my editor, and was able to meet it. I released the book, and am now hard at work on the next one–and hoping to meet the next deadline haha. Xaviana is napping well again, I’m writing, and all is right with my world. :)

This made me think about how work for a writer-mom is constantly evolving–just like our babies themselves. As I’ve told myself so many times, we just need to be flexible, and I suppose our deadlines have to be, too. Writer-moms (and dads) out there, what do you think? What experiences do you have with deadlines? Do you always meet them, or do you find that it’s better to keep them a bit loose sometimes? What about those of you with older kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Judging a Book by Its Cover: Changing Cover Designs of a Published eBook

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 18
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

You’ve written your eBook, had it professionally edited, finished your own spin on the edits, and composed a dynamite description. So you’re all ready to publish right?

Wrong! The book cover is one of the most important–and most often overlooked–aspects of an eBook. A professional-looking cover can make or break your sales. And furthermore, the cover must capture the unique flavor and mood of your book, as well as appeal to your audience. If the book is part of a series, the cover must create unity with the other books of the series. That’s a lot to think about!

Sometimes, no matter how polished and well-written a book is, it may not sell because its cover is just…wrong. Either it’s not eye-catching, the audience thinks it looks lame-o, or it appears amateurish. I have experienced this firsthand. Back in 2011, I designed the cover for my first ever eBook, Unlucky 13. At the time, I was writing and publishing as a hobby, and it showed. The book only sold to my family, friends, and a few totally random people who stumbled across it. This was due in part to the fact that I did zero promotion, but another huge reason was because the cover looked unprofessional. Last year, I had a new cover designed for the book; although Unlucky 13 is still far from a best seller, the sales are a whole lot better than they’d been with the first cover!

I encountered a similar problem with Book 1 of the California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Curse. I loved writing the book; in fact, I’ve never felt so inspired. Yet, when I published it, sales and borrows on Amazon were lower than I’d expected, despite the fact that I marketed it the same way as all my previous best selling Amish books. This was partly due to the fact that I was dabbling in a new genre, but Antonio, my hubby and expert professional cover designer, had another theory: perhaps the cover was turning people off.

I loooove the original cover of The Mermaid’s Curse. To me, it captures the essence of the book: the mermaid caught between two worlds under the full moon. However, when I evaluated it critically, with the target audience’s eye in mind, I realized that it is too dark; it draws your eye in, instead of popping out at you. Sales of Book 2 of the series, The Mermaid’s Wedding, have been much better than The Mermaid’s Curse. Since I’ve been promoting it the same way, I can only guess that the hike in sales is due to the more colorful, girly cover. The hot pink lettering and couple bathed in sunshine are vibrant, and very appealing to YA and NA mermaid fantasy romance readers.

So, Antonio and I decided to create a brighter, more beachy cover for The Mermaid’s Curse, using the same font and basic design as that of The Mermaid’s Wedding. I will be monitoring sales, and, of course, will keep you posted on how they are impacted by the change! Incidentally, I just changed the cover last night, and the rank of the book has already risen from around 100,000 to 84,000–still not where I want to be, but we’re taking baby steps here. :)

Here's the original cover of The Mermaid's Curse--very dark, and perhaps not as appealing to readers of the YA mermaid fantasy romance genre.

Here’s the original cover of The Mermaid’s Curse–very dark, and perhaps not as appealing to readers of the YA mermaid fantasy romance genre.

 

Here's the new cover of The Mermaid's Curse... What do you think?

Here’s the new cover of The Mermaid’s Curse… What do you think?

Authors out there, have you ever changed the cover of your already-published eBook, and if so, why? Did you see an increase in sales after you changed your cover? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode #9

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 8
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 8, 2014 at 10:41 am

This past weekend, Antonio and I shot the latest episode of our BPL vlog! In it, we share a business tip specifically for writers about diversification in products and pricing. We also share a publishing tip about DRM versus non-DRM. And finally, in our life tip, we unveil a surprise from our 1-year wedding anniversary. It’s a super-fun episode, so you should definitely check it out!

BPL 9 Thumbnail

Writers, what so you think of the tips? Have you found the business and publishing tips to be true in your own careers? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Overcoming Fear: Unleash Your Inner Lion or Lioness

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 11
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

One of my favorite Sunday pastimes is attending church with Antonio, where we recharge our spirituality and find inspiration for the coming week. Yesterday, the priest’s sermon was particularly touching–he talked about fear: the way it can hold us back, and how so many people are motivated by it, when instead we should be driven by love and faith.

This really struck a chord with me. Fear impedes so many of us in our quest for self-actualization, and if left unchecked, it can prevent us from ever reaching our full potential. And fear affects even the bravest among us. In fact, it’s so sneaky that we may not realize it has caused us to fail until it’s too late.

I consider myself a pretty brave person–unless there are spiders or mold around. Then, all bets are off. But seriously, I have never been one to shy away from challenges, “scary” amusement park rides, weird new foods, or relatively adventurous activities. However, career-wise, I was always a play-it-safe kind of girl. I followed the prescribed path of academic success: high grades and a loaded extracurricular resume in middle school and high school, the accelerated and demanding Doctor of Pharmacy program in college, and, finally, the lucrative job as a pharmacist. I felt stifled in the box of the pharmacy, and felt that my very active creative side was begging to be unleashed. As a result, I packed my time outside of work with artsy activities like writing, piano, chorus, drawing, and various dance and fitness classes, but felt as though there was a schism between my real interests and my full-time career. I dreamed of becoming a successful published author, but fear of never being “discovered,” as well as fear of giving up my secure, well-paying job, prevented me from taking the risks I’d need to succeed.

I was forced to face my fears when Antonio, who was then my fiance, was offered a great new job in San Diego. I knew in my heart that San Diego would be the best choice for us long-term, with its near-perfect weather and healthy lifestyle, as well as the lucrative and personally fulfilling position Antonio was being offered. Yet, I was incapacitated by fear. I was deathly afraid of venturing into the unfamiliar territory of California. I wanted to launch a new career as a YA author, but I was secretly afraid that I’d fail and be just another “starving artist.” Finally, I was afraid of leaving all the friends we’d made in Chicago, and of being so far from my family in Pittsburgh. The list went on and on.

At this point, I knew that it was time to manage my fear, not the other way around. So after my several-month-long period of incapacitation, Antonio and I finally arrived at a brave solution. We maintained a long-distance relationship for a year before our wedding, during which time we attended writing conferences together and focused fully on launching my career as an indie author. I continued to work full-time as a pharmacist, and the year was incredibly busy. But by our wedding last September, I had learned enough about the publishing process to feel as though my career leap was warranted.

I am so glad that I faced my fear, because now I’m happier than I ever thought possible. There is no longer a schism between my career and my innermost desires. I determine my own schedule, and the pace at which I release my new eBooks. I can work from home, which is ideal because we’re expecting our first child in October. And, for the first time in my life since teenagerhood, I feel creatively fulfilled.

This period of struggle taught me so much about facing my fears and unleashing my inner lioness. As the week begins, I urge you to examine your life and identify your greatest fears, and perhaps how they’ve held you back from your dreams. Like me, many people let their fears stand in the way of realizing their full potential and achieving their career goals–no matter how nonsensical those goals may seem to those around them. Morphing from pharmacist to writer seemed weird to some people, but it was the best decision I could’ve made!

An unwavering support system is essential in unleashing your inner lion or lioness.

An unwavering support system is essential in unleashing your inner lion or lioness.

So, here are some ways to overcome fear and unleash your inner lion or lioness. After reading this, I hope you want to ROAR!

  • Identify your greatest fears - Sometimes, fear is so sneaky that you might not even realize it’s holding you back. Identifying it is the first step to overcoming it.
  • Visualize your ideal life – Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then, visualize a day in your ideal life. Are you working in the same career, or a totally different one? Do you live in the same city and have the same relationships? When you open your eyes, compare your vision with the reality of your life. Maybe your dream career is the exact opposite of the one you’re doing, or you’re in some pretty toxic relationships. Identify the elements that differ from your ideal life, and pinpoint why they differ. Is it because you’re working toward change, but it just hasn’t happened yet? Or is it because fear of failure or change is preventing you from even trying to turn your life around? If this is true, then you’ll have to…
  • Set goals - Write down the goals that will transport you from your real life to your vision. This will make your goals more real and plausible.
  • Have a support system - Once you’ve identified your goals for change, share them with your significant other and trusted friends or family. This increases accountability and helps to alleviate your fears about making the change. Antonio was my biggest supporter as I launched my new career. Not only did he believe in me, he’s been with me every step of the way, helping me to build my platform, attending conferences and networking events with me, helping me to learn about marketing, and even designing book covers. In the end, I had to overcome my own fear, but his unwavering and loving support was instrumental in the process, as well as in my success.
  • Become comfortable with the unfamiliar - As you’re working toward facing your fears and achieving your goals, try other things outside your comfort zone, like unfamiliar vacation spots, new sports, and exotic foods. The stimulation and newness will increase your fearless factor, guaranteed!
  • Make the change - Change is slow, and it can only be achieved with hard work every day. Armed with your goals and support system, you can face your fear of change head-on. Change gradually. Just as I didn’t launch a new career overnight, you shouldn’t expect your change to occur instantaneously. Be patient, but work constantly.
  • ROAR - Soon, you will begin to see the fruits of your labor. And when that happens, make sure to celebrate! Maintain a balance between hard work and celebration. There’s nothing more exhilarating than facing your fears head-on and conquering them. Now, go forth and ROAR!

Evolution: 5 Ways to Evolve as an Indie Author

by Kristina Ludwig
May 12
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 12, 2014 at 8:30 am

Being a self-published author is hard work. The industry is constantly changing, the author is responsible for his/her own marketing and promotions, and, like an old car, a career as an indie author needs constant maintenance.

I’ve found that one of the most rewarding parts of being an indie author is the fact that our careers are constantly changing, and there’s something new to learn every day. As is the case in many new industries, the field is wide open–to those who have the perseverance and drive to take it!

I’ve realized that the greatest key to success as an indie author is evolution. Just as our careers are constantly evolving, so must we, as writers and people. Here are 4 ways I’ve found to evolve as an indie author.

Evolution is key for a career as a successful indie author! Image courtesy of challenge2.com

Evolution is key for a career as a successful indie author! Image courtesy of challenge2.com

  1. Start a new blog -  Most of us have blogs centered on our expertise as writers, but what else lights up our lives? The more we blog–in different places–the more we build our author platforms, increase our discoverability, and, most importantly, practice our writing skills! Plus, starting a new project makes us more creative. It’s inevitable, with the surge of fresh new ideas. I just started a pregnancy blog, Prego in San Diego. I had an amazing time discovering a new WordPress theme, customizing it, writing my first post, and interacting with all the almost-mommies out there who commented on the blog. If you don’t want to start another blog, guest post on other people’s blogs, and encourage them to do the same on yours.
  2. Expand your services - It’s not enough to write and blog–ask yourself what else you could be doing to help other writers. Maybe it’s starting a YouTube show, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to get into writing coaching. I speak from personal experience on both matters; last month, Antonio and I started a YouTube show called Business, Publishing, and Life, and it’s been a great way to connect with friends and writers. I also joined a collaborative office called Hera Hub, and have connected with several women who are interested in meeting with me to discuss writing and self-publishing–hello, beginnings of writing coaching!
  3. Learn a new skill - There are so many different skills that go into a career as an indie author. Not only must we be awesome writers, we must know social media, business, marketing, editing, and book formatting. Learning any of these skills takes time, but it’s totally worth it. Think of the time and money you could save by doing these tasks yourself. Of course, editing is not something I’d recommend doing by yourself; an editor and/or a group of beta readers is essential. But many of the other skills can be accomplished alone. My latest example of skill building is learning to design an eBook cover. I have artistic background, but zero graphic design experience. To fill in the gaps, I took a cover design course on Udemy. Skillshare also offers a variety of courses. I’m finishing up the course soon, and am planning to design my own cover for my next book, “Amish Scholar: Samuel’s Book.”
  4. Read - One of the best ways to become a better writer is to read more. Read fiction books, non-fiction books about writing or indie publishing, whatever you want. Reading is the perfect way to expand your mind and improve as a writer.
  5. Discover other publishing platforms - I’ve been singularly focused on KDP Select, and love Amazon as a platform for indie authors. However, I realized that it might be time to expand my reach by discovering other platforms. I’ve started researching Google Books and Apple Books, as well as Smashwords. So far, I’m still exclusive to Amazon, but I’m doing my research and, after all, that’s the first step. :)

Indie authors, what do you think are the best ways to evolve? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode #3

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 28
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 28, 2014 at 10:08 am

After a brief hiatus, Antonio and I are back with a brand-new Business, Publishing, and Life vlog, BPL Episode #3! We share three motivational tips for success in business, publishing, and life.

Do you prefer working for a large corporation, or have you always wanted to own your own company? Our business tip applies to both kinds of people, so be sure to check it out. In the publishing tip, I reveal my strategy for writing one novella per month. And our life tip will help you feel more centered and productive today, and all week long.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 10.00.45 AM

Are you interested in being a guest on BPL? If so, feel free to comment below or email me at info@kristinaludwig.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode 2

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 31
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 31, 2014 at 6:22 pm

This week has already been an exciting one. I was interviewed for the My Fire Point podcast, and will be sharing that with you as soon as it’s posted! This show is extremely motivational and fun, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

And, in keeping with my new Monday tradition, here’s the episode of BPL that Antonio and I filmed this weekend. We share 3 more tips in the fields of business, publishing, and life.

My publishing tip is about using free days on KDP Select, and I can’t tell you how valuable that has been for me. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject.

What do you think of BPL? Are you interested in being a guest? If so, feel free to comment below or email me at info@kristinaludwig.com. I’d love to hear your tips.

How to Know if You Love Your Job…and Other Reflections

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 27
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’m pleased to announce that my newest Amish YA eBook, Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book, is free today only! Download it if you’re looking for a fun new read.

And in other news… I celebrated my birthday earlier this week. I don’t know about you, but birthdays make me excited. I haven’t reached that point of thinking of my b-day as “just another day,” or, heaven forbid, hating it!

I doubt I ever will because, for me, birthdays have always been times of reflection as well as celebration. As my “year” draws to a close, I reflect upon how many things I’ve accomplished, and celebrate them. I also visualize my next year of life, setting goals and imagining new ways to evolve.

This past year was a huge one for me, since I experienced basically every major life change possible–I got married, moved cross-country, and switched careers. I remember back to my birthday last year, when I was working as a pharmacist. I did not want to work on my birthday, In fact, when my scheduler said that she might not be able to find coverage for me, I had every intention of calling in sick. Luckily, she was able to find an extra board pharmacist to work for me that day, so I didn’t have to resort to plan B. :)

I share this little anecdote with you because on my birthday this year, I did work–at writing. Much to my chagrin, it was a cloudy day, so the beach and pool were out. :( Luckily, I enjoy many indoor activities, and was able to do most of them during the day on my birthday: yoga, piano, shopping, and, of course, writing–my new career, which should be work, but feels like fun!

Snoopy knows what's up. Writing rules!

Snoopy knows what’s up. Writing rules!

The contrast between last year, when working on my birthday was something I eschewed, and this year, when I not only chose to work on my birthday, but enjoyed it, confirmed what I already knew: that my career change was the best possible one for me. Sure, there are “occupational hazards” that go along with a career in writing, but it’s my passion. If you had asked the “me of last year” whether I’d ever work on my birthday, I would’ve answered with a vehement, “No way!” But ask me now and I’ll say, “Sure. I love to work.” And it’s all because we might call it work, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

Is writing your passion? If so, go for it–you won’t be sorry! And if you have any questions along the way, don’t be afraid to ask me or another author. I think the best thing about the indie author revolution is how collaborative the formerly “closed shop” of publishing has become. There’s never been a better time to be a writer. :) Who knows, by this time next year, you might be working on your birthday…willingly!

Introducing: Brand-New Vlog About Business, Publishing, and Life

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 24
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

Last week was an exciting one, with the launch of the Amish in College series and a weekend full of early birthday festivities for me! Antonio and I also started the project we’ve been talking about for months: our new YouTube show.

The show is called Business, Publishing, and Life (BPL for short), and we will be filming a short episode every week. We will interview special guests in a variety of fields, and each speaker will offer up his or her best tips on business, publishing, and / or life. BPL is an ideal show for writers because of its publishing flavor, but its heavy business and motivational components will make it a great fit for anyone looking for inspiration!

The idea of BPL came to Antonio and me during one of our reflective sessions in the hot tub. We’ve always found the hot tub to be the perfect place to come up with awesome new ideas, or even just to reset ourselves to conquer the week. We wanted to do a YouTube show that combined our areas of expertise: self-publishing and writing for me, and business and information technology for him. And voila: BPL was born!

Click here to watch Episode 1. In it, Antonio and I share our own tips for business, publishing, and life. I hope you enjoy it! If you’re interested in being a BPL guest, email me at info@kristinaludwig.com.

bpl pic

The Beauty of Box Sets: 5 Reasons to Combine Your Series into a Box Set

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 30
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 30, 2014 at 9:54 am

Yesterday, I released my first-ever box set on Amazon! It contains the first three novellas of the Amish Hearts series: Rumspringa Break, Amish Summer, and Mercy’s Fall.

Here's the book cover of the new Amish Hearts boxed set!

Here’s the book cover of the new Amish Hearts boxed set!

Naturally, before I released my box set, I did some market research–and couldn’t believe how many box sets are out there in the Amish fiction genre alone! Box sets might contain anywhere from three to 45 stories (in the case of the prolific Becca Fisher). Some are priced near $10.00, while others are only 99 cents.

In such a diverse market, it’s often difficult to decide how to price, design, and promote a box set, and I’m learning more about those things every day. I decided to price my box set at $2.99–low enough to be appealing but high enough to reap the rewards of the 70% royalty, and I’m using word-of-mouth (and social media) promotion during the launching period, much as I did for my other eBooks.

Why do authors like box sets so much? And why do readers love them? If you’re writing a series, should you jump on the bandwagon? Here are 5 reasons to combine your series into a box set.

  1. There’s more likelihood fans will read all the books in order - Many times, fans will read the eBooks of a series in no particular order, especially when they’re discovering a new author. But let’s face it: it’s always a better experience to read the books of a series in order, and box sets ensure that will happen.
  2. It’s one more product for your list of books - The best way for authors to build more fans is by putting out new material; your discoverability as an author will increase with each new book released.
  3. You can release a new revenue-generating book without actually writing new material - You’ve already done the hard stuff: written the books, had them edited, commissioned the covers. Creating a box set is quick, easy, and profitable. It’s really the only time an indie author can be lazy. :) That’s why everything from books to music to movies is available in box sets.
  4. It gets fans pumped for the next book of the series - If your fans read and liked the first books of your series in the box set, they’ll be hanging–and eagerly awaiting the next one. Or, if you’ve included your entire series as a box set, make sure to attach an excerpt from one of your other new books at the end. Reading is addictive, and you should always give your readers their fix.
  5. Fans see bundles as cost-effective - Fans like box sets for the same reason shoppers like BOGO deals or buying in bulk at Costco: they see them as economical!

So there you have it…5 reasons to combine your books into a box set. Authors out there, have you ever released a box set? How were the sales of your box set compared to the stand-alone books? Can you think of any other reasons to love box sets? As always, I welcome your feedback!