Writer's Blog

Book Publishing Secrets

This is a post I wrote for one of my book tours, but I wanted to share it with you again in case any of you might be looking for some tips! The book I reference is listed below. You can view the original post here: Book Publishing Secrets

A romantic-suspense novel featuring: miscarriage, hot co-workers, cybersecurity threats, and the struggle of defining family.
With only an abusive mother-figure to guide her, Norah has learned everything the hard way. An unexpected pregnancy with her fiancé changed her career plans. But miscarriage and betrayal thrust everything in reverse again. Eerie things start happening at work, and Norah finds herself at the center of the investigation.
Secrets tumble forth from Norah’s father, her ex-fiancé, and the mystery around her adoption, breaking the walls she’s put up to protect her heart. Now, more than ever, she longs for trust, love, and a family of her own.
Bonding with her handsome co-worker, Evan, and his teenage daughter, Ashley, Norah gets a glimpse of cohesive family life. She finds herself falling for Evan and becoming an unlikely source of help and understanding for Ashley. Evan and Ashley have an empty seat at their table, one Norah wishes to fill. Yet the guilt of taking the previous woman’s place threatens to keep them apart.
Can Norah overcome the scars of her past and discover her inner strength? And will the private letter from her father answer her questions or destroy the family, and the man, she’s come to love?
ORDER YOUR COPY Amazon → https://amzn.to/2wYVKLh 
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
I didn’t set out on this journey thinking, “I want to be an author.” I just had stories I wanted to share with others. A Promise in Ash was prompted by the feeling of emptiness and failure I experienced after a miscarriage. It developed into a full story after an interesting encounter with a woman as one of the RV parks we’ve stayed at over the years. Her tales inspired the book to become what it is today. I think it’s important to talk about miscarriage and abuse. The more we do, the less uncomfortable the topics become. I just felt like fiction was a gentler way to go about this than self-help.
Is this your first book?
No, this is my 5th book. I’ve also written three sci-fi fantasies and one holiday romance.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
I’m a self-publisher by nature. I love learning how to do things, so it just seemed like the right fit: doing everything myself. But I also chose self-publishing because I didn’t think I was ready for querying, traditional agents, and contracts. It sounded more serious than I was prepared to dive into. I wanted to figure the system out before I put time and effort into queries.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
My first book was pretty rough the first time around. I’ve edited it a few times since and changed the cover. I’m finally happy with it, but it took a while. But lack of sales came down to a lack of marketing platform and knowledge of marketing in the beginning. I’m much better at it now, but it’s still hard to compete with the pros.
I still like having total creative control. I design my covers too. This can be detrimental in the beginning when you have no idea what you’re doing. I know I’ve learned a lot, but sometimes I still feel like I’m just “winging it.” Eventually, you learn to trust your training and instincts, and then move on when a project is done. Getting bad reviews sucks. But even super famous books have them. So I figure if I get just a few great reviews, the book was a success.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
There is a lot of competition. There will always be the top 100 books to read for the year. But I’ve read some fantastic books by indie authors with less than ten reviews. They’re great writers, but they aren’t included in the top 100 because of lack of discoverability. Indie publishing is great, but it’s led to market saturation. If you want to get readers’ eyes on your books, you have to advertise.
Traditional publishing is getting more competitive. It’s not just enough now to have a superb query letter and a polished manuscript. You have to have a social media following. Yep. I’ve seen people rejected for that very thing. A marketing platform is everything.
I didn’t understand how to narrow down my audience in the beginning. I’m still working on it. But it’s not enough to search for readers in your genre. You have to focus on the subgenre and key interests. I’m finding this issue is surfacing again with my romance. I have a holiday romance and a dark contemporary romance, which I list as romantic suspense because there’s yet to be a subgenre for that. But readers of one book won’t like the other. The themes and content are too different. It’s frustrating to start over with a readership, but it’s important to acknowledge and respect how very particular some readers are.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Sure. I think it’s great to be able to say that you’re an author and have a physical copy of something to show others. People need to share their stories, whether true or fictional. With as much competition as there is now for traditional slots, I think indie authorship is a great alternative. Everybody has a story to tell, even if it’s just their memoir. When we share our ideas and concepts, we discover things about each other and humanity.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Be realistic, which I know is hard when you’re not really sure what you’re getting yourself into. Hopes and prayers aren’t enough to get your book done and seen. You have to be prepared to do a lot of work. Writing is hard. Editing is harder. Formatting is cake. The cover is the frosting; make it look darn pretty. Publishing is eating cake. Marketing is the hardest.
You need a marketing plan before you publish. You need an author brand, at least in concept. You need to know who will support you, what the genre expectations are, and how to avoid all the amateur mistakes.
You need to have conviction. Writing will only be one tiny facet of the business if you choose to become a full-time author. You’re going to spend a lot of money on ads and websites and programs—tons of stuff. Save your receipts. You won’t make a lot the first few years until you start to figure the system out. Don’t quit your day job if you can help it.
Remember why you started writing. Remind yourself of this every day, so you don’t get discouraged. There are going to be chunks of time with no sales. You’re going to get bad reviews. Every author, even famous ones, get them. Don’t pull your book down. Don’t quit writing. You’re going to get better, but only if you don’t give up.
Thanks for having me!
Best wishes!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with Elysia Strife @elysialstrife #books #bookpublishing

Elysia Strife is a self-published author of science-fiction fantasy and romance novels.
Adopted by two educators, Strife developed a deep love for learning new things. In 2012, she graduated from Oregon State University with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health and Human Sciences: Interior Design and Exercise Sport Science. Her past wears fatigues, suits, and fitness gear, sprinkled with mascara and lace.
“I like to question everything, figure out how things work, and do tasks myself. Experiencing new things is fun but also helps with writing raw and genuine stories. And I’m always trying to push my comfort zones.”
Strife likes the rumble of her project car’s 350-ci V8. She enjoys the rush of snowboarding and riding ATVs on the dunes. But nothing brings her more solace than camping in the mountains where the stars are their brightest.
Strife enjoys connecting with readers and welcomes all feedback and questions.


Website: elstrife.com
Writer's Blog

Reblog: Author Interview on My Book Launch

You can find the original post here:


After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?

I actually never “launched” my first book, Stellar Fusion. I did with my others but was too nervous to call attention to myself with the first. I wanted to figure out the publishing system, learn how everything worked before I started running ads and setting up an email list.

Now, my launch starts firing up long before publication. I send out Advanced Review Copies of the book to my subscribers. A few weeks later, I set up an ARC giveaway on Prolific Works (for all stand-alone books). This seems to work well. I give out several hundred copies for free and usually get a few reviews. It would likely be more effective if I was a little more patient! I get too excited to put my book out there and start working on the next!

After that, what was your next step?

I usually run a couple of ads and utilize my KDP Select free days sometime soon after the release to get the book attention on Amazon. If I can, I try to figure out who posts reviews and thank them via email. I also send out a thank you to my subscribers who picked up the ARC and a reminder that they can post their reviews. (This one is hard for me because I feel bad asking. I remind myself that they got a copy of my very hard work for free. Clicking on stars isn’t torture. It’s okay to ask.)

Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

I always add links to images of the book, usually including a quote, something (hopefully) enticing. I also add them to my book rotator gif, which I post on social media. Moving pictures/gifs are more eye-catching and definitely draw more attention.

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

I took a PR class, because DIY is how I do basically everything. I could set up press releases, but don’t because I can’t remember the last time I encountered an announcement about someone’s book that wasn’t posted on social media or on a talk show. And (let’s be realistic) heaven knows I’ll never be on a talk show.

Was finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?

Absolutely, and ARC copies are the best way I’ve found to get reviews, specifically through people I have one on one contact with whether digital or in person. I love Prolific Works for handing out mass amounts of copies. Those reviews usually show up on Goodreads. I’ve tried other social media giveaway programs, even with paperbacks and they just don’t work as well as a site for free ebooks. Those visiting Prolific Works know they want books to read, so it’s just a matter of being appealing and getting into some of the group giveaways for related genres.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

It’s great for getting likes, meeting fans, connecting with other writers, and for personal validation, but not for sales. I might get one or two sales from a paid ad, but usually end up giving away an ARC to someone that messages me. It’s not really cost effective to run SM ads in my mind. But having a presence in multiple places is important for people to know you’re legit and to find out more about you. So in a different way it’s useful.

What social media has worked best for you?

Twitter is best for meeting other writers and connecting with critique partners and beta readers. Goodreads is essential for getting your books in front of the eyes of readers. Facebook has lots of groups you can get involved in, but sales are limited. Instagram is great for likes of book covers and for doing visual research, like Pinterest. So I guess I can’t say any of them are the best, just that each has its perks. I am most active on Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch?

I always make sure my pre-order books are listed and that my info is up to date so when readers check out my page they can see everything I have and everything coming up.


Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?

I set up free book giveaways in related categories. So say I’m running an ad for free copies of my first book: Stellar Fusion, I’ll also make the other scifi books free (permitting my Select enrollments line up). That way, readers can get all the good stuff they’re interested in at once.

Did you set up book signings and, if so, how did that work for you?

I didn’t set up book signings because I heard they weren’t a great use of time or money (due to traveling). I did, however, do a holiday arts and crafts show and signed a few copies there and afterward. Sold out of one of my books! So I suppose it’s the crowd that makes the difference.

Did you create a book trailer?

I didn’t, but Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book did! You can view it here:


Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday?

I like to publish romance in the spring, scifi in October, and Christmas/childrens in fall/winter. But, to me, a book is a living thing that sometimes demands something else. It’s ready when it’s ready.

What was the best money you ever spent on your book launch?

Pump Up Your Book and Written Word Media have been the best investments by far. Great for blog exposure and ads with ROI, respectively.

Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

  1. Give yourself a few months between when the book is finished and when you plan to publish so you can use that time to set up Advanced Review Copies, ads, book tours, etc. I know it’s hard to wait, but it will serve you better in the long run to kick off your launch with reviews and a plan.
  1. Get an email list started and a website. The more people willing to support you when you publish means more network chatter and therefore more exposure.
  1. Good book covers and blurbs are crucial. Sell your customers in 2-3 seconds or lose them forever.
  1. Don’t give up on your book if you don’t get sales day one. Marketing is an ongoing thing. Hang in there!

Thanks for reading!

Writer's Blog

Critique Cheat Sheet

In preparation for a guest post on Critique Partners that I’ve been asked to do by A New Look on Books, I’ve finally compiled all of my critique partner questions onto one sheet. I hope this helps you as much as it does me.

During the post, I’ll talk about what Critique Partners are, where to find them, and how to make the best of that relationship. It will post later this summer.

You can find Rae, fellow author, and freelance editor, here:


Twitter: @anewlookonbooks

This isn’t a complete list, but it’s a long one. I haven’t included any genre-specific questions because I critique lots of different works. You can download the PDF here: Critique Questions via ELStrife

Framework for Critiquing

General things to discuss upon swapping samples of writing

Is this a finished book or a work in progress?

Is this the genre you like to read?

Is this the genre you write in?

Have you done critiques before?

How long have you been writing?

Who is the target audience?

What are you looking for in feedback? General (plot/scene setting/characterization) or more detailed (voice/structure, line edits/copyedits)?



If you’re doing a group critique, don’t read others notes while critiquing. You run the risk of bias.

Remember to provide professional and polite feedback

Point out what you liked as well as what you found problematic

Read through these questions before you begin the critique to help you hunt down critical issues and answer them as thoughts come to mind

Leaving in-text notes can help you with a final (overall) assessment and also point out specific problem areas to the writer


Critique Questions

First Chapter/Opening

Do the first few lines hook the reader with the main character and their problem/conflict?

Can you visualize the environment, the main character, and the problem?

Is the manuscript starting where you think it should?

Is there enough tension and emotion to draw the reader in?

Does it start with a cliché, or is it a unique and intriguing beginning?



Was there a major resolution to the main conflict? Or did you feel something was missing at the end?

Were the stakes enough?

Did the tension ebb and flow in a way that made you want to keep reading?

Were there tense hooks at the end of each chapter?

Did the beginning of each chapter give you the premise with a subtle hook as well?

If this is a series, is there a bit of conflict left unresolved for the next book?

Could you understand the internal/emotional battles the characters were fighting? Did they contribute to the progress of the plot and the character’s overall change (arc)?

Did any details or events seem convenient/contrived?



Were the chosen names, dress, and ages appropriate for the genre and setting?

Could you follow along with the emotional journey of the character? Or did it feel glossed over or forced?

Did the characters encounter enough struggles, including between characters, to complete a transformation at the end?

Do you understand why the villain/antagonist is a protagonist in their own mind?

Does each characters’ behavior seem believable?

Are the characters three-dimensional in personality?

Do they experience all emotions?

Do they improve the story?

Do they have flaws/limitations?

Are their goals, morals, and desires understandable?

Are they relatable to a level that fits the genre?

Are their back-stories compelling and well-rounded?

Did you find the characters’ changes satisfying at the end?

Were the social relationships among the characters genuine and supportive to the story?

If any, was the hierarchy presented believable and beneficial?

If this was a character-driven piece, do you feel the work was appropriately saturated with detail?

Did you find the characters motivating, compelling, or inspirational in any way?

In general, were the emotions, actions, and dialogue shown effectively?



If this was a plot-driven piece, do you feel the work effectively tackled this as a priority?

Do you know what the main plot is/was? Was it consistent from beginning to end?

Is the sequence of events consistent and believable?

Were there too many dreams or flashbacks that detracted from the clarity of the plot?

Were any aspects predictable?

Were any events dwelled in for too long or not long enough?

If there was more than one plotline or any subplots, were they constructive to the storyline or the character arcs?

Is the influence of any “daily life” in the work helpful?

Are the twists realistic? Surprising?



Can you clearly visualize where and when the story takes place?

Do you understand the cultural norms?

Is each change of scene distinguishable?

Were there any environmental descriptions that were overwhelming?

Does the setting/world frame the plotline effectively?

Is the history/back-story of the landscape fitting and believable? (Why are we here?)

Was every scene necessary to the plot?



Are the colloquialisms effective or overwhelming?

Did the language seem to fit each character?

Was the dialogue constructive in moving the story forward?

Were there too many formalities? Hi/Bye, Thank you/You didn’t have to

Any dialogue dumps?

Any moments that needed more?

Did it evoke emotions or thoughts in you as a reader?

Did the dialogue reflect the displayed emotions of the characters?


Point of View – Format of narration for the book

Is the point of view effective for the story?

First person – “I am telling you.”

Second person (rare in novels) – Narrator tells story *to* another (the reader). The “you” perspective.

Third person (limited) – Narrator is outside of character minds. “He read it to her.”

Third person (omniscient) – Narrator is in characters’ heads. “Josh hated the concept. This sucks, he thought. But he read the book to his little sister anyway.”

Was the point of view consistent? (Especially between third person limited and omniscient?)


Perspective – Comes from all characters telling the story as we meet them throughout it. This is their view on situations because of their pasts, prejudices, attitudes, and personalities.

For works with multiple perspectives, do the changes from character to character seem fitting or does the story head-hop too quickly?

Are there too many perspectives?

Is there a character whose perspective you’d like to see?




Did the writing carry you along smoothly?

Were there any problematic slow/fast areas?

Did any sections of backstory/info/descriptions slow the story?

Are the transitions helpful in moving from one scene to the next?

Does the pace fit the genre? (ie: Action Adventure vs. Historical Romance)


Show vs. Tell

Any clichés used? Once upon a time…

Does the work show things where it is needed?

Are the moments of telling appropriate?



Are the chapters broken up appropriately by scene/perspective/time changes?

If there are breaks within chapters, do they seem fitting? Or could pieces be joined?

Were any sentences or paragraphs too long or short?



Did the voice flow along with the story or did it seem choppy in calm moments and too calm during action?

Is the tone fitting for the genre? (ex: Humorous, dark, melodramatic, literary, mechanical)



Was punctuation used correctly? (comma splices, run-on sentences, not too many ; or !)

Any misplaced modifiers?

Are there too many adverbs?

Are the sentences sticky with too many conjunctions?

If there are curses, were there too many?

Are there vague filler words?

Is the writing concise?


At the End

Did the beginning fit now that you know the ending?

Did you notice any inconsistencies in plot/character/scene?

Does the author have any redundancies, catchphrases, or go-to words?

What was your personal take on the story? (Keep this separate)


Thanks for reading! Hope this helps!


Blog, Writer's Blog

Master List of Colors

Though it’s often not the most important part, the right color can invigorate any description. I made these lists for myself, to help me pick color names that were exactly what I was searching for. Depending on the content, you might consider selecting recognizable names within a specific category to supplement your theme.  Continue reading “Master List of Colors”

Writer's Blog

Self-publishing is Hope

When self-publishing, you do everything from write the story, find and work with an editor, select a way to publish, format and market your book. You research the hell out of the process only to find contradicting information. Stellar Fusion is ready, but I can’t hold my breath for something that might never happen.

I sit here drumming my fingers, waiting for the final piece to fall into place. Then it’s, hope I tagged it effectively, hope people look at it, hope they like it, hope I uploaded everything right, hope, hope, hope.

Stellar Fusion has been in the works since 2012. And now I have 17 other books lined up. hearttinyAnd I’m wondering if it’s going to have been a futile endeavor.

Part of me says ‘no’ because there’s still that element of hope.
The perfectionist in me disagrees. But I’m not perfect. Never was, just strive for it.

It’s a crapshoot really. But I refuse to cross my fingers, because I want to believe if it does become something, that I worked for it, earned it, that I’m capable of being more than just a shadow of a former self.

I hold two Bachelor’s degrees. Took me nearly 8 years to complete, but I made it. When I set my mind on a goal, it’s hard to break me of it. I can push through a lot. But sometimes I let that goal blind me to the truth.

My self-doubting, judgmental self clashes with my unending faith that there’s an ultimate plan for every life. Some days they fight hard, other days they sit and mope in separate corners.

For now, I’m ensuring things are in line and ready. And after, I’ll have to take it for what it’s worth. Even if that’s nothing at all. But I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I tried, gave it everything, and it’s mine.

Many of us won’t fit the ‘mold’ of traditional publishing because we don’t publish cookie-cutter books. It’s the same reason I won’t ever live in an HOA.

I make my rules. I have my own standards. I like to be in-charge of my life. I feel the same way about my books. I want the cover to look a certain way, the text to flow quickly, and to post about my book when and how I like. I do not like the idea of having to get permission to link my book to a website. It’s my book!

This is why self-publishing is so wonderful for us. Anyone can publish anything. But doing everything on your own means those not really committed will be weeded out. It’s hard to get all your pieces in line and marching the same direction. But it is an opportunity, an open door to anyone. You can get through this emotional struggle too. Just breathe and remember how far you’ve come since yesterday.

That’s it; one day at a time.

Hard-work will pay off… for all of us. You must have faith in yourself and in your dreams. The only failure is giving up.

♥ Elysia