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Serpentine Summer|Wrap Up

I know what you are thinking, summer isn’t quite over yet. Still now is the time to reflect on the goals I set out to accomplish this summer and see what still needs a mad dash to get accomplished. If you follow the Serpentine Creative Channel on YouTube you have probably seen my videos about the Hot and Sticky turned Serpentine Summer Writing Challenge. I gave myself three whole months to accomplish a modestly ambitious (is that a a thing?) set of tasks.

So here is the update on my Serpentine Summer Goals!

  1. Complete Secret of Ceres 2 Draft – Done and in editing!
  2. Outline Secret of Ceres 3 & 4 – Still a work in progress
  3. Write 2 “off topic” novellas – One is done and the other is still in progress
  4. Coy Wolf Audiobook “StereoGoals”- Postponed

I may not have gotten everything on my list accomplished but I feel pretty good with where I am. I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew but these past three months have been nonstop fun for the Serpentine Creative Camp.

We participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, hit up a couple of local bookstores to do signings during Bookstore Romance Day, rocked an Instagram challenge, hosted giveaways, and kept you entertained and informed on our blog and YouTube Channel.

Thank you so much for your continued support of Serpentine Creative and Stella Williams! Let’s rock out this Fall together and see what magic happens next!

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Our Winners!

zekainhuman and elainabakernovels

A very big thanks to everyone who participated in the Bookstore Romance Day Giveaway! Winners will receive an email with instructions on how to claim their prize.

Peace, Love, and Happy Reading!

Stella Williams

Know Your Audience!

Today’s post is not only informative but a bit of a rant about the rampant false marketing of books in today’s market.

One of the first steps in marketing your books is to determine your genre and target audience. Take a good look at your novel and ask yourself these questions. I will be answering these questions for my novel Ferocious as an example.

What tropes and themes are prominent in your work?

  • strong female lead
  • enemies to lovers
  • magic use and vampires
  • characters of color

What genre fits your novel best based on these tropes?

  • Paranormal Romance

Are there any secondary genres or niche genres that your work fits into?

  • Urban Fantasy
  • African-American Romance
  • Urban Fiction (PRO TIP: Don’t confuse Urban Fiction with Street Lit, Street Lit is a subgenre of Urban Fiction)
  • Fantasy Romance

Who is your Target Readership?

  • Age 18+ due to sexual content
  • Women & Men – romance and fantasy readers

Now that I have a general idea of my readership, I can look into promoting to those particular groups. That being said there are a few caveats that lend to the rant portion of this article.

Say you are a Non POC who wrote a book that contains a main character of color. Should you market your book in categories specific to that ethnic group? The answer here is complicated. A lot of ethnicity or race specific promotion groups prefer #ownvoices work. Not saying you can’t promote there but don’t be surprised if your work is warmly welcomed into those spaces.

Be mindful that just because your book has one character of color does not make your book of interest to readers of that ethnicity.

I have seen an increase in Non-POC authors including a character of color into their books in order to appear more “diverse” in their writing. Not only that but using said character to promote their work as of interest to POC communities (ie BookBubs African-American Interest category). As a reader I can tell you that most of us aren’t going to be fooled by this. In fact it will more than likely get you slammed on twitter and in reviews than be of any benefit to do so.

These promotion opportunities were created in response to the call for minority representation in the literary world and the #ownvoices movement. You have every right to market as you see fit, its your product and your money but if you are truly an ally to diversity, think twice before taking space in spaces not intended for you.

If you can’t wrap your head around that, think of it this way. My book features magic users. There magic is a part of their spiritual beliefs. With that being said I could market my novel to christian and religious romance readers because my book thinly references spirituality. Would I be wrong to do so? Heck yes! There is literally nothing else about my books that fits that category and would be a waste of my time and lead to pretty poor reviews by the few religious romance readers who chose to read my book because of said promotion.

I say all this to say, know your audience and avoid making the same pitfalls as other authors who chose to reach in the wrong places just for a few sales.

Stereo Goals: Research

I have chosen the novel I want to turn into an audiobook! So, what now? Do I jump right in and start recording? I think not. Now is the time for me to start researching. Much like writing a novel, in order to avoid copious amounts of time editing and fixing past mistakes, you need to have a solid foundation or plan to start.

First, I researched which platform I wanted to use to publish my audiobook. There are several out there including ACX and Findaway Voices. Both give you the option of uploading your own recordings or finding a narrator and producer to create the audiobook for either a royalty share or per hour fee. From a casually glance Findaway voices seems to have more reasonable rates than narrators and producers on ACX but other than that I don’t see much difference in each platform. Since I am opting to record for myself, I am cutting out the narrating and production fees altogether.

I am going to use ACX. Mostly because I am familiar with their process from my first attempt at creating my own audiobook. Second, because I just don’t feel like learning another system. I know that is terrible of me but I have a limited amount of “quiet time” to get my work done so using the familiar is a benefit for me. With my platform chosen I can now look up what their requirements and recommendations are for creating an audiobook.

The Basics:

Your audiobook must meet certain requirements to be submitted:

Consistent in overall sound and formatting.

Audiobook must be comprised of all mono, or all stereo files.

Audiobook must include opening and closing credits (in separate tracks).

Audiobook must be narrated by a human; text-to-speech recordings are not allowed.

Each uploaded file must contain only one chapter or section.

Each uploaded file must be no longer than 120 minutes.

Each uploaded file must contain a section or chapter announcement at the beginning of the audio file.

Each uploaded file must have between 0.5 and 1 second of room tone at the head, and between 3 and 5 seconds of room tone at the tail of each track.

Each uploaded file must be free of extraneous sounds such as plosives, mic pops, mouse clicks, excessive mouth noise, and outtakes.

Each uploaded file must measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS.

Each uploaded file must have peak values no higher than -3dB.

Each uploaded file must have a noise floor no higher than -60dB RMS.

Each uploaded file must be 192 kbps or higher MP3, Constant Bit Rate (CBR).

Each uploaded file must be 44.1 kHz.

Each uploaded file must be no larger than 170MB.

I know that sounds like crazy a lot. Especially if you aren’t familiar with audio recording. Thankfully, ACX has an audiobook academy to help you ensure you meet all the criteria. I highly suggest checking that out before starting your recording. It will definitely save you some headaches later.

This is the point where you will probably start to freak out and think about shelling out the dough for someone else to do the work. That is perfectly okay and totally your choice. I, however, am determined to do this on my own. So now that I have an idea of what it required by the publishing platforms I can start looking at what equipment, software, and other things are required for producing a quality audiobook.

Stereo Goals Redux

If you are a long-time follower of this blog you might remember my first attempt at a DIY audiobook. While I had an awesome weekend hanging out with my dad and cringing through my sex scenes, all in all my efforts didn’t make the cut. Xander’s Claim has yet to make its audiobook debut and while I still have the recordings, I have since revamped the entire novel making them useless.

Oh, the pitfalls of hasty publishing…lol

Xander’s Claim all cued up

Now that I am more experienced and am producing a higher quality of literary work, I have decided to give making audiobooks another shot. Sadly, I have moved too far away to get my Dad into the recording process this time. However, he graciously gifted me with all of the programs and material needed. I am a proud Daddy’s girl and it shows.

The first step in creating an audiobook is choosing which book to read or have read. Since I am a little pressed for time and I don’t want to over tax myself. I decided to take my chances with my latest short story release, Coy Wolf. Get creative with me this August in my first truly solo attempt at an audiobook!

My next sacrifice to the audiobook spirits

Real Talk|Author Politico

In today’s political climate it is almost impossible to keep politics away from your author brand. I say screw being neutral. Art is supposed to stir the emotions, convey the authors world view. It doesn’t matter if you write non-fiction or fiction, romance or horror; at the end of the day your political and moral beliefs will shine through even the most critical of editing.

My words of advice, don’t hide it. Be true to yourself and your beliefs. At least as much as you are willing to publicly defend. I am not privileged enough to be able to separate politics from my daily life and therefore I don’t stress about even trying. It can be a burden at times but mostly its freeing. You don’t have to like or agree with everything I say but I encourage you not to separate the person from the art.

Sincerely,

Stella Williams

Writing Update!

It’s a new month full of new and exciting adventures! Check out the video below to see what I’ve been up to over the holiday!

Spring Into Summer Reading

The following is a list of books I have added to my collection and where to get them. Check out my YouTube Video below for more details!

Write Craft

The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict

Thinking Like A Romance Writer by Dahlia Evans

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes

General Fantasy/Paranormal

Gunship Diplomacy by Jonathan Hanson

Night World No. 3 by LJ Smith

Latino Fiction

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival

Putas Asesinas by Roberto Bolano

Black Fiction

Satan You can’t have my marriage by Aliada Duncan

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (1968-1998)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Stella’s Author Bookshelf

Ferocious (Hardcover)

New Release!

I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave you all without something new from me this summer. I am so excited to announce that not only is the compilation of my Maura’s Men Series available in Ebook format. It also includes the much anticipated origin story for the Evil Vampiress herself, Maura.

Maura’s Men Trilogy

Available now of Kindle Unlimited

After escaping the clutches of the evil Vampiress Maura, three friends struggle with the past in finding a new way of life and love…

Xander’s Claim

Xander’s nightmare past has left him with some serious control issues. Without the burning hatred that kept him going when he was under Maura’s thumb, he had nothing else to live for. Maura had destroyed everything he had once been. Jaded and closed off to the world around him, Xander is completely unprepared for the arrival of Cat.

Claude’s Conquest

Claude is nobody’s hero, yet he finds himself saving another damsel in distress. He should have learned his lesson the first time. The charming and intelligent Gretchen threatens everything Claude has come to accept about himself.

Shane’s Redemption

Shane needs help. His addiction is getting out of control. His friends are on the verge of putting him to ground. Then there is Molly, the love of his life. He’s spent years wallowing in guilt over her death only to find out she was brought back by Maura of all people. Shane is forced to make a choice. Will Shane continue to let his past destroy his future or find a new approach to winning Molly’s heart?

+BONUS SHORT Origins: Maura’s Revenge

#NotHotandSuperSticky

So it has come to my attention that one of the creators of the #HotandSticky Summer writing challenge is a total creeper who preys on young women across social media. In light of this news, I am no longer going to be completing the challenge under the #HotandSticky banner. I have also stopped following the Stripped Cover Lit channel on YouTube.

#serpentinesummer writing challenge
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