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Topics - H.M. Ward

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GIVEAWAY! Have you ever dreamed about going to the south of France and writing in a really cool chateau? If so, here's a chance to go. I have a $3,600USD slot for 1 writer + 1 guest that I can't use (I'm having surgery instead), so I'm giving it away! I know it's super last second, but this trip could make someone really happy. I was super excited about it and I know a bunch of other author's were too. Anyway, I didn't want it to go to waste. Good luck!

For full details/ to enter, head over here:

Writers' Cafe / Marketing, Book Launches, and Info
« on: November 11, 2016, 04:34:48 pm »
If you're interested, I have a new private FB group that is dedicated to marketing for writers. You can be indie or trad, so still writing your first book. The group is fairly new, but there are already several posts about marketing and visibility in there. More coming soon. :) Based on the number of ppl that still message me from over here, I thought some of you would be interested. Just make sure I can tell you're an author, since the group is restricted to authors. Have a great weekend. :)

Please make sure I can tell you're a writer by having WRITER or AUTHOR as your occupation, or a book cover on your banner.

About me (in case you'd like to get the run down without searching):
Is a 100% Indie author (self-published).
Has independently sold almost 13 MILLION books since 2011.
Ward was on the front page of the NEW YORK TIMES.
DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #1 bestselling Indie Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace title of 2013.
DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #14 bestselling Kindle title on Amazon of 2013.
Ward's had 21 different titles on the NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers list.
Ward has appeared on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller's list.
Ward has appeared on the USA TODAY bestseller's list over 33 times.
Ward has appeared on the WALL STREET JOURNAL bestseller's list.
She hit #1 on DIGITAL BOOKS WORLD's bestseller's list.
Had multiple titles hit #1 in the paid Amazon store.
Had multiple titles hit #1 in the paid B&N store.
H.M. Ward was a top 100 Amazon author every month of 2013 & 2014, often in the top 10.
In 2016 she is releasing a new title about every 2.5 weeks.
Her formal education is in theology.
Ward's titles tend to focus on elements of the human condition such as poverty.
DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was in the Amazon top 100 kindle titles for over 100 days.
H.M. Ward owns H.M. Ward Press (Laree Bailey Press).
Ward is a nationally acclaimed professional photographer.
H.M. Ward has appeared in articles in  the New York Time, QUARTZ, USA Today, Huffington Post, Forbes, and The Washington Post to name a few.

Writers' Cafe / A new TV show about writers
« on: November 10, 2016, 06:14:21 pm »
News! While working things out for my Ferro family to get their own series, I found out about a new reality, competition based show about authors, and they asked me to be a judge. OMG it sounds like so amazing. Think American Idol, but for writers. Yeah, I'm a little bit excited about it. We filmed a segment in my office yesterday. Long story short, if all goes well, it will come to your TV in 2017!

I thought I'd post about it in here because there are so many writers looking for help with their career and trying to figure out how the big sellers did it. If this goes well, then you'll get to hear from tremendously successful authors, how they did it, and hear the advice given to the contestants. You can use all that info! Plus, some people will get to be the contestants. That's the one thing I craved early on--practical career advice from people who know the ropes. It was hard to find. Successful authors tend to move on and it's so hard to get started/ restarted. It can be discouraging and frustrating. This is cool because I'm a resource nerd and like to learn everything I possibly can, so something like this sounds amazing. It has so much potential, and the way it's being presented is entertaining too. I wish I could say more, but I can't yet. I thought you guys would like a heads up. More to come!

Writers' Cafe / NYT Children's List - No Indies Allowed?
« on: November 09, 2016, 02:46:12 pm »
I'm trying to dig up info on the NYT CHILDRENS MIDDLE GRADE EBOOK LIST. I heard (a while back) that indie authors were getting snubbed on these lists. Is that still true?

If you have info, I'm all ears!

Thank you!

Writers' Cafe / Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
« on: February 25, 2016, 09:16:14 am »
Within the past few days I started hearing from dozens of reviewers who are having their reviews removed. It started with a few here and there, and then Amazon issued a violation of their ToS form letter, without further explanation. This week 3 heavy reviewers were all banned from reviewing further. Before you try to figure out what they did, there was no obvious violation. I've been talking to a group of 3 dozen (not all are my readers) who are having this issue. Many are book bloggers, and others aren't. Verified and unverified purchases were removed. No links, no promo, nothing obvious. The only commonality at this point is the reviews were all for books. Reviews for other products were left intact on several accounts.

Needless to say, having 100's of reviews wiped was very upsetting for these readers. That was a massive amount of work and something they took pride in. One had nearly 1000 reviews, which are now all gone. Is anyone else hearing about reviews being struck and reviewers getting banned? I'm not really in the blogging/ review community, and was wondering if there's chatter over there? I would have thought they'd be seething about it.

Writers' Cafe / The Grass Takes Time To Grow - Don't Pee on It!
« on: February 17, 2016, 02:46:49 pm »
I know several people who wrote a book and have virgin status when it comes to selling that sucker. They ask me lots of questions, and some pretty not helpful preconceived notions. Everyone hopes to rise like a shooting star, sign a million dollar deal, and then jump up and down. The truth is, it doesn't work like that. You're more likely to be struck by lightening five or six times than have that scenario occur on your first book. Even the superstars that did shoot straight to the top took 6-9 months getting there. That's a significant amount of time.

I hear new authors asking for an easy way to gain visibility and they turn to KU because they don't know what else to do. That's a major mistake. Consider the limitation put on your book by restricting it to one platform. You miss out on what's going on elsewhere. Some people think the other platforms are too small to matter, so they don't even consider it. But I'm pretty sure if you became a Kobo rockstar, you would feel it. I mean, #1 bestseller at Kobo is still more sales than most people ever dream about. At one point in my career, B&N led my sales because that platform took off. With each platform you're on, you are given the chance to be a superstar. Why the hell limit it to one? Also, if you take off on another site, odds are Amazon and the rest will follow. It's not like, 'DAMN! I hit #2 on Nook!' No one says that. Holding a top 10 slot on Nook is enough to break into 6 figures ON ONE SITE.

Back to the virgin authors who are deciding how to proceed: Don't limit yourself. Visibility is about exposure, so give yourself as much as possible in a tangible, measurable way. If you really want to try KU, go ahead, but do it with a sister story or something that you know is a loss leader. I've had zero luck with KU lending more visibility, which was bad for me to discover (b/c I shot my sales in the head), BUT IT'S GOOD TO KNOW. It means you can be successful without KU.

You can organically make your own fandom. I did. You can too. But you have to work for it. AND IT TAKES TIME. The first three years I was writing, I was doing good as a midlister and happy to stay there. I gave up on being more and then it happened. Part of hitting it big and not being a one shot wonder is building your fan base. IT'S TIME CONSUMING. It doesn't happen over night. And growth is exponential, so it starts so damn slow. I mean it's like watching grass grow. For the longest time your yard is a few seedlings that might vanish over night, but one day you have a grassy lawn! More people come because you get easier to see. Then you have a big ass jungle that you have no idea how to manage. True story. That's a real problem.

The issues author's face change over time, but there's a path. At the start it's finding readers. There's no magic bullet, and it's not riding on luck (my luck is usually pretty sucky, so hooray!). It's planning, plotting, research, failure, and then do it all over again. Determination goes a long way. So does knowing the basics before you jump in.


Most authors will only sell about 200 copies of their title. Ever.

Most people have about 200 friends on Facebook.

Most people have confined social circles and it takes effort to move beyond them. I'm shy. Believe me, I know.

Your debut novel is the one that friends and family will buy to be supportive.

Book 1 is where the most people will watch to see if you take off or fail. If you're shy about it, you shoot yourself in the head.

You HAVE to OWN it. You wrote a book. We should be like, 'bring it on b*tch!' but most of us are too timid to even say we wrote something. The first thing I did when I finished my first novel was make a facebook page. I told everyone. It made me sick to my stomach. Public failure is nauseating, but shyness has no place here. How can ppl read your book if you won't admit you wrote one? You can't act like it sucks either. No one wants to read self-professing suckage. So grow a backbone. Own it. 

Use the train wreck theory to your advantage. Everyone loves to watch stuff go up in flames. It's human nature to rubber neck and stare. Likewise, we are inspired by people who try. We share hope when we succeed. If you fail? Do it again. That's what I do. People like to see others that won't stay down. It makes them want to try harder too. Tenacity is contagious. If you don't have any, go follow Hugh Howey. That dude makes me want to buy a boat and sail away. :)
By book four, you're on your own and if you didn't break that social wall, you're screwed. That's why you can't just write the next book. You HAVE to engage with people. That can be online or in person, but it's the kiss of death to be stuck in 200 land. I avoided that obstacle before I published my 1st title. I made sure that 200 number was behind me from the get go. That's not possible if you hide, so stop hiding!

READ. Holy mother of frig. Pick up a book. Read a blog about selling, business, something! You can learn ANYTHING online. You don't have to stumble around in the dark wondering what ROI and P&L means or why it should matter to you. It should if you're here to make a living and put food on the table. I go on reading binges about every 9 months. It lasts about 6 months, or until I've exhausted new information. Right now I'm in that phase. Yes, it's time consuming, but at the end of the day no one cares more about your books than you do.

Do the math. So, book 1 is likely to sell 200 copies. You paid $600 for your cover and $1400 for editing, plus another $100 for formatting. And another $100 for paperback proofs. If you only sell 200 copies, you need to net $11 per book. We have a mathematical problem here. You're upside down. I have my own staff and do just about everything in-house at this point, but book 1 was me and hubby. We used skills we had and called in favors for the rest. It cost me $200 to publish. It made it possible to turn a profit by the 2nd week that title was out. So did the price. At that point there was no KU to fathom, but math is math. Less than 1/2 a cent per page vs. 99 cents vs. $3.99 or $4.99? This is the part that gets trippy. Most people admit they can't sell. They don't know how to market. It's Greek.

With pricing, it's simple - the lower your price point, the higher your volume HAS TO BE. There are tons of threads in here about it.

At 99 cents, you have to sell 340 books to make $100.

At $2.99, you have to sell 50 books to make $100.

At $4.99, you have to sell 30 books to make $100.

If you have no clue how to do mass sales, why assume you can? It's hard for me and I know how to sell. SELLING MORE IS ALWAYS HARDER THAN SELLING LESS. There's an assumption that ppl will buy cheap stuff if they see it, that it's easier to sell. It's not. It's harder to sell because you already have your product priced as low as it can go, so there's no way to promo it. You can't do a 1 day sale, a new reader event, a coupon code - nothing. It's like hobbling up to the starting line of a marathon with a zombie chewing on your ass. You can't go 26 miles like that! Even if you knock him off, you're hemorrhaging and bleeding all over the place. Yes, that happens with books. You can help a title or shoot it in the spine and have it hobble along until you repair whatever you did. The zombie on my ass is KU 1. I knocked the thing off, but a year later and I still feel it.

You'll make mistakes. We all do. Be ready for them. Plan C, D, Y - they're all coming your way and it's not a bad thing. Keep getting up. Don't stay down. And for the love of God, don't pee on your grass before it's a lawn. You have to be patient and intentional. There's no way around that part, so lets do this! Indies rock! Keep on truckin'.

Writers' Cafe / WTF***ery? KDP takes down 4 titles in 1 week! Go 'zon!
« on: November 12, 2015, 07:00:05 pm »
So, some of you may know who I am. If not, quick intro:

I started in 2011 as an indie author, walked away from trad pubbing. It wasn't my thing. Long story short, break out book hit the NYT list after sleeping for 9 months, then I had a novel hit the top 100 of amazon and stay there for over 100 days. I've sold over 10 million copies and work 100+ hours a week. Writers work their asses off.

Recently, KDP decided to pull my books from 2013. I'm well known with a KDP rep and filed my copyright papers. No one asked for them--they simply pulled my titles with no notice. 4 times.

I'm willing to say the first three could have been a glitch. Book 4? Unlikely. Will more follow? Probably?

I got no response from my rep or from amazon saying why it happened.

I posted this on FB:

 Dear Fans,

Amazon pulled 4 of my titles this week because they didn't believe I was me. Yup, that's right--even Facebook was able to verify that. You'd think with, I don't know, social security numbers and banking info that it'd be clear I was me, but alas--they want proof.

So I log into my email saying that my book has been pulled from sale on Amazon, despite the fact that I own the copyright, they know I'm me (for taxes), and I asked them to research this 'problem.'

I played nice and thought the first three times was a glitch, because I received no warning, no notice--nothing--before my book was scrubbed from their site.

The copyright is public record. They could have found it or requested it long before now!

The book that was removed tonight was THE ARRANGEMENT 7. If you have any love for me, Sean Ferro, or authors--tell Amazon/  Amazon Kindle that this is NOT a good way to treat their authors. Tell them that they shouldn't treat new writers this way--they shouldn't treat anyone this way! ...

This post will probably kick me in the ass. No one speaks out against Amazon. Ever. In all honesty, in the past I couldn't find a bad thing to say about them if I wanted to, but over the past few months--holy crap.


That sums it up, but wait! There's more!

Have you heard of authors being extorted by people? It's the newest thing and Anazon's policy works right into these peoples evil hands. The word on the street is this: a writer gets their book put in amazon copyright jail. It can perish there (I'm sure you've heard the tales), and suddenly there's a message from an evil citizen asking for money. They say they can lift the copyright infringement claim if you send them $X today.

What the heck is going on?

I'm serious in saying there was a time KDP did nothing wrong. I was a nobody with no rep. I earned enough money to feed my family and pay my bills. I worked my ass off and they watched out for their writers in a way that NY publishers never could.

Amazon people reading this post--why did you toss that away? You had hundreds of thousands of writers praising you. Now we have this. :(

Writers' Cafe / NEW YORK CITY Author Biz, Marketing Meet Up - Dec 19th
« on: December 14, 2014, 02:04:37 pm »
Anyone want to meet up at the Ritz (Central Park) lounge on Dec 19th in the evening? We can talk shop, marketing, plans for next year, etc. After the one in Cali, I thought I'd offer the East Coast peeps a chance to chit chat. If you are interested post here. It's easier to get a head count if everyone is posting in the same place.


Writers' Cafe / Gonna be in California THIS SATURDAY -author meet up
« on: December 06, 2014, 07:32:05 pm »
I'm gonna met up with a few authors in Oxnard, CA on the 13th. Time TBA. If u r interested in talking shop, let me know and I'll get you the specifics. :)


I'm thinking we can meet up at Starbucks and chat for a bit about business, market changes, and stuff.

669 Town Center Drive Blvd
Oxnard, CA

Let's say at noon so I can find the place. :)

If you plan to come, let me know so we don't start w/o you. :)

Writers' Cafe / Anyone use Dragon?
« on: December 01, 2014, 08:29:21 am »
Since my little leaky battery incident, I'm trying to figure out the best way of writing with minimal touch. I'm still recovering from that whole ordeal, but thank God it's finally over. Long story short, if you use this (I thought some of you do) which version are you using? It looks like Pro is what I'd need, but I wanted to ask you guys 1st.

And for those of you who have been using it for a while (or gave up on using it) how long did it take to get it to be faster than typing? I'm assuming not too many of us are doing hunt and peck. :) I'd love to hear what you guys think about Dragon.


Writers' Cafe / KU Crushed My Sales :(
« on: November 28, 2014, 11:10:11 am »
Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses.  :o My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn't compliment each other, as expected.

Taking a huge ass pay cut while I'm still working my butt off, well that's not ok. And KU effected my whole list, not just KU titles. :( At the time of enrollment I had about 60 titles total.

I planned on giving it 90 days, but I have a kid in the hospital for long term care and I noticed my spending was going to exceed my income-by a lot. I couldn't wait and watch thing plummet further. I pulled my books. That was on Nov 1,  & since then my net revenue has gone up. I'm now at 50% of where I was pre-KU. During the time I was in KU, I had 2 new releases. Neither preformed vastly different than before. They actually earned far less (including borrows).

This model needs to be changed for it to work. Authors shouldn't be paid lottery style. For this system to work we need a flat rate for borrows, borrowed or not borrowed (not this 10% crap), and it needs to be win win for the reader AND the writer. <-- That is the crux of the matter.

Id like to see Amazon create something new, something better instead of falling in step with Scribd and Oyster.

Example: subscribe to an AUTHOR. Easy, clear. When Author X has a new book it automatically gets sent to your kindle, & the card provided is charged.

As a reader, I'd want that. As a writer, I'd want that.

Amazon, stop following other companies and break the mold.

Ok, I'm done ranting. Back to writing.

Writers' Cafe / Has Your ACX Revenue Plummeted?
« on: October 26, 2014, 01:13:50 pm »
Has anyone else watched their ACX royalties plummet after the changes this spring? Even though my titles are grandfathered in at the 90% rate, my earnings from them have dropped by 60%+ since the change. :( I'm wondering if it's an anomaly or others r seeing the same issue. I feel like I'm missing something-like a rate change. I spent over $50K this year converting titles to audio (lots of books). At 90% it was a nobrainer. Now it's not. Thanks!

Writers' Cafe / The Secret to Success (Shhhhh! It's a Secret!)
« on: September 23, 2014, 02:33:57 pm »
First, do NOT donate. That's not why I'm posting this here. :)

I'm doing something new. Again.

I wanted to give a heads up so you guys can watch me take a chance. It might work, it might fail - but I hadda try it.

Last night I launched a kickstarter to create an instant video/ DVD series for the first season of THE ARRANGEMENT. I spent the last nine months researching and talking to agents, directors, producers, etc and decided that the traditional way wasn't for me, at least not on this project. So I pulled on my producer pants and jumped in. I spent months making that 3 min video at the top (go ahead and laugh, I'm not an actress) and an equal amount of time arranging prizes for backers.

At the start of this I thought it'll either overfund or fall way short. I don't know which. I do know that I had to try it, just like I had to try publishing my 1st book. Maybe it won't amount to anything and I'll fall on my face (it's happened), but maybe not.

Part of being self published and working for yourself is being willing to take chances, some of which are very public and very intimidating. Am I worried about the public failure part?


Will it stop me? Hell no.

Some people call the secret to success 'having balls,' while others think it means having no fear. Well, last I checked I'm not a dude and since I'm scared to death, it's not the latter choice either.

This is my secret: TRY. If I can see how to do it, I'll try it. It's simply trying. That's it. Sounds lackluster and too simple to work, but it does. Try it. If it doesn't work, change something and try it again. The point is to TRY.

I still get nauseous on book release days and this kickstarter has me a nervous wreck. Do I wish I never tried to go it on my own? Hell, no. I'm glad I tried. I'm glad I didn't listen when people told me I was nuts for turning down a sure thing when pubs offered me over 1.5 million for my MS. And maybe this will work. Maybe it won't. But I will have the satisfaction of knowing I tried my best, and that's good enough for me.

So if you've been wondering what's the secret to success, it's a dirty, scary little three letter word: TRY. They can't stop you if you keep trying. Failure is a stepping stone. Screwing up is a teacher. She's a b*tch, but you'll learn fast and hard what to do the next time. And with me, there's always a next a time. If something doesn't work, I analyze why, fix it, and try again.

How do I feel about the kickstarter right now? Excited and nervous. I'm excited b/c it's not even been 24 hours yet and we already have over 100 backers and over $10,000 raised.

Do I think we'll hit goal? I know we have the fans to hit it, and I know they're nuts about this series. Gut impression is if we hit it, we're gonna blow past it.

Do I think I'm unstoppable? No, I just think given enough time I can learn and try.

How will this affect my writing? It adds another facet to the endless layers that make up my characters. I can see them in my head and it will be spectacular for the fans to see them too.

I interviewed myself. lol!

To sum up: If you don't try, you'll never know. And when ppl say you're crazy, you're on the Holly path. Welcome! It's a wild ride. Trust your gut and when you see the right cliff, jump*. I'm inviting you to watch the 29 day jump and see what happens with me. Eeeep! It's crazy, I know!

*HM Ward does not advise literally jumping off a cliff, nor is she suggesting you can defy gravity. She does suggest that you are awesome with awesomesauce tendencies otherwise you wouldn't be hanging in here.

Writers' Cafe / Video Book Trailers & Sales
« on: September 17, 2014, 09:17:58 am »
i've seen you use trailers for your books.

how do you use them?
are they as static widgets on your blog?
do they generate reader engagement?

Since a bunch of people have been asking me about this recently, I'll post it here for everyone to see.

A little bit about me: I came to the market 100% indie on my own- total newB. I landed an agent quickly, and was planning on going trad. When my book was being shopped I realized I was going to lose control, and that they were using marketing methods I disagree with, so I took my ball and went home. I told my agent to pull it while it was being shopped, which sounds unheard of based on her reaction at the time. (I currently have had 3 agents, and am agentless again by choice).

I started by writing YA PNR, was butt poor due to debt from a ministry degree and a progressing illness that was eating every cent we earned. In Jan 2013 my 1st book hit the NYT list. The book was written 9 months prior. I had some issues switching genres (mainly b/c NA wasn't identified at that point, and that's what I was writing). More about that over here:

Since I began I've sold over 5 million books, 4 million were last year. Last count was in the 1st quarter of this year, so it's probably gone up. I usually check quarterly, but I'm still dealing with an illness that knocks me on my ass. So I focus on writing and marketing.

Since I hit the big time (that sounds weird) I've been offered over 1.5 mil in advances from trad pubs and declined. Here's a post about that and my reasons why:

I'm about to publish my 60th title, all of which were written in a 3 years time. I've recently started a co-author program for talented authors to get a shot at writing with me, lists, and they get paid a nice chunk of change. We BOTH write the book, bringing both pools of talent. It's been fun. The second co-authored book is about to come out in a few weeks. Cover below:

So back to video trailers for books:

how do you use them?
I use them as a marketing tool. When done correctly, the video should be a teaser for the book and give the readers cues so they know what to expect. So on a book that's defies my norm, it's important. It works as a heads up so they know what to expect. The more they know about what to expect, the better experience they'll have with your book.

This one is the most recent example:
#Invalid YouTube Link#

It's WAY different than the other books I'd written. It's about a modern mom that's suddenly widowed with a baby. She lost the love of her life. It's a story of redemption, like my other books, but it's told differently. If I didn't give them a heads up, they would have been p*ssed. It's nothing like my other books.

are they as static widgets on your blog?
I use them on Facebook, direct upload works better than linking to youtube. I encourage them to share the video. It appears on my Youtube channel so bloggers can grab links. I'm under utilizing my YouTube channel. Video is a POWERFUL tool if used correctly.

do they generate reader engagement?
Yes, and they help with reader excitement. It gives them something to chatter about and makes them feel like they have a really good idea of what the book will be like. This creates WOM, which can translate into sales.

Here are a few of the other popular videos I've had made:

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="//;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="//;version=3&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="//;version=3&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="//;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

#Invalid YouTube Link#

FYI: DAMAGED, which is my bestselling novel to date, had no trailer. So you don't need one to hit the big time. But if funding allows it, and you have an ongoing series that people enjoy, it offers them an easy way to share the awesomeness. If I only had $1000 and had to choose b/t a paid promo and a video - I'd choose the promo slot.

Video is one facet of the marketing gemstone. Marketing has many sides, and the more you can incorporate, the better. Does video help sales? Indirectly, I think they do, b/c they create WOM and make a visual for your book to attract readers IF THEY ARE WELL DONE. If they suck, you have a problem and will have to damage control. You don't want that, so pick someone good. These were created by BookCandy. They struck the emotional chord of the book perfectly, which was what I needed.

If you have questions about videos, feel free to ask. Do they help sales, yes. Is this the primary way I'd build my fanbase, no. I'd do that with limited time promotions and help spread the word via social media, bloggers, and paid ads.


**I'm a dork and can't seem to figure out how to embed the videos, lemme know how and I'll fix it so you don't have to click all over the place**

All of my trailers are here:

There's a great one for MG PNR - RISE OF THE OLYMPIANS :)

Writers' Cafe / How many sales needed to hit NYT MG List?
« on: July 30, 2014, 04:14:16 pm »
Does anyone know? If you've hit that list, I would love to know.

I've also been looking for stats on number of units to hit the list for picture books.

I just had to post this, because its INSANE. Okay, about a year ago I was trucking along and thought - I'll publish DAMAGED even though I'd had it sitting on my laptop (in the dead to me folder) of unfinished stories that I'd lost interest in writing. I added swing dancing and finished it - hit publish. That was the tipping point for me. I'd hit the NYT once before that and it was so weird. I never expected to hit it, not in a million years. And when I first went indie, they'd said over our dead body would an indie ever grace our prestigious list. So they weren't an aspiration of mine. Like, at all.

This week I had my 16th NYT bestseller. I feel like I should get a fluffy dress and have a party. Maybe swing dance?

Dream big. Keep on truckin' b/c you never know which book it will be. Long live fankenferro! Bwhuhahaha. And that book had a nice guy hero. It was a total wtf. Seriously. No alpha male. No sex. And it was NA. *blinks* It musta been the swing dancing and the saddle shoes. Saddle shoes are sexy. ;)

Just had to share. Talk about weird milestones that I never thought would happen. Indies can do anything! Go us! Go us! Eat cake trad pubs! Bwuahahahaa!!!!

Mmmmmm cake.

Okay, I'm supposed to be finishing a series and I'm procrastinating. That said, go indies! Saddle shoes are sexy! Men who can swing dance are sexier! And I need some cake!

(PS - a little tip - brand the hell out of EVERYTHING!) :)


Writers' Cafe / My 15th NY Times Bestseller
« on: June 03, 2014, 05:36:35 pm »
Just a little post. I was talking to someone at BEA and they asked how many NYT bestsellers I had. This last book made the 15th title to hit the list. 15. That's nuts. Hitting a list--any list--wasn't even on my radar. When I started self pubbing, they'd said 'over my dead body.' I recall that vividly. Most of my books hit the NYT list starting in Jan 2013-present. I'm 100% Indie, always have been. I started from nothing and now I have this crazy little empire. It's really weird b/c I don't consider it any different than what I'd been doing before. I just kept going. Something didn't work, I changed it and tried again. Anyway, I just wanted to share. A lot has changed in 3 years, and it's only been 3 years.

About 3 yrs ago, there was someone who predicted the demise of the big 6, which are now the, uh, 3.2?  He was laughed at. A lot.

And 15 years ago, emails were 'uncivil.' I queried by paper way back then. That sucked. Those were picture books for children that I'd illustrated. I had to print and mail dummies. I talked to my rep at BEA and will add those to my books by the end of the year. His eyes lit up and he wanted to know how many I had. I don't even know. I assumed something was wrong with them b/c they got rejected and wrote another, then another. There are at least a dozen sitting in a folder, several of which were already illustrated.

It's amazing to see how things have changed. :)

Writers' Cafe / More in indie news...
« on: May 29, 2014, 05:08:08 pm »

Here's an interview fm Buzzfeed:

Don’t ever tell bestselling author HM Ward she can’t do something because she’ll prove you wrong. That’s what I learned when I connected with the Scandalous author who, although she may have sold over 5 million books in less than 3 years without a publisher, only did so because she was rejected and told she didn’t have the talent to write.

Ward reveals that and more in my interview with her.

What negative words did naysayers say to you when you told them you wanted to be a writer or to indie publish?
Doing anything with the arts was greatly discouraged from an early age because of the whole ‘starving artist’ notion. When I said I was going to self-publish, my agent at the time had been shopping my book.

I told her to pull it and that I’m doing it myself. Why should I saddle up with a company that doesn’t think they can sell 8,000 copies? At the time, I already had over 10,000 Facebook fans – and publishers were worried about an 8,000 copy initial print run? I was pretty sure I could sell 5,000 books. It’s funny now. 5 million pretty clearly beat the mark.

When I had my first Indie mega-hit and it topped out and held #1 on Amazon for a week, I got six-figure offers. People told me I’d be stupid to refuse them, “People” mostly being my agent at the time. She put a lot of pressure on me to take the deal. My family told me to go with your gut. Turning down six figures was HARD because we were still strapped and drowning in medical bills and student loans. I said, “no”, anyway. They offered twice more, increasing their offers, and I said, “no” twice more. Accepting any of their offers would have been a tremendous mistake.

And have you heard from them since?

What would you like to say to them now?
There’s an assumption that when your book is a success that it’s only going to be fifteen minutes of fame, and that the flurry of fans will fade away—that you’ll be forgotten. That’s simply not true. I’ve watched my contemporaries sign deals and not one has expressed utter joy at doing so a year or more after they signed. They signed traditional deals, and I haven’t seen their names hit the top of the lists in a long time. They lost their momentum and are fading from memory. Ironic, isn’t it? Just because you have a New York address, doesn’t mean you have a New York business mind (I’m a NYer myself). Sustainability is key. Most indies that hit the top of a list are better off keeping their rights. You’ve achieved the impossible. Ride the wave and kick them off your coattails, because that’s all they can offer you at this point.

Who specifically rejected you when you first tried to get published?
One editor told me that I didn’t have what it took to be a good author, that my grammar and strange sentence structures were too out there. Her name is Mary. I’ll spare her from embarrassment, but the reason she despised my books are the exact reason that the readers love them. They’re written in common-speak and don’t sound like a thesis paper from a doctoral candidate.

Original story over here:

Writers' Cafe / RT ppl - Did you see...?
« on: May 20, 2014, 11:26:31 am »

I paid for ads at RT and then couldn't attend at the last sec b/c of health issues. Anyway, if you stayed onsite there should have been a doorhanger on your door knob at some point. I've heard rumors that crap was slipped under the door. I'm hoping they didn't do this with my stuff. Can anyone confirm seeing an HM WARD door hanger on the hotel room door? Or anywhere? Thanks.

Writers' Cafe / The Roses are Dead (Too Much Manure in Publishing)
« on: March 10, 2014, 03:22:22 pm »
Okay, I tend to rant when I think ppl are getting screwed with and there's been a bunch of stuff that's been floating around so long that ppl think its FACT. Dude, here we go...

These are the things people will tell you that you’re passing up if you don’t sign on the traditional line, and I’m calling it. It’s [bullcrap]. Seriously stinky stuff, and a lot of people don’t know, so here’s my post.

This is the stuff that’s been spread far and wide by the publishing industry for years and most of it is BS. I’m gonna be blunt, b/c you’re assuming the grass is greener on the other side, but they don’t even have grass over there. Things are that messed up.

An advance against royalties – Have you heard how many of our peers didn’t get paid? They entered into a multi book deal like you were offered and well, the pub didn’t think book 1 went very well, so books 2 & 3 were cancelled. No money for you.
There’s the appearance of stability when working with a publisher, but they cannot offer you job security. All of a sudden, your 3 book, 6-figure deal ends up earning you $30K over 2 years and you want to poke your eye out with a fork. True story – just not mine, thank god. Ask around.

Passing up Print distribution.
PRINT IS DEAD. There’s no money in print. Why do you think the big 5.5 are buying up Indie ebooks? Why don’t we see the stores stocked with these titles? Where’d they go? I know for a fact that one publisher’s plan was to acquire enough Indies to release 70+ new titles in one season and NOT PRINT A THING. But that’s not what they told me. Print is dead and the pubs are noticing that isn’t where the money is. Which is also why you’re getting any guarantee of a print run when you sign that six figure deal.

My books will not be in bookstores.
Mine are and have been since day 1. If enough ppl ask for your book, they will order your book.

My books are likely never to be found in a library.
Also, not true. If enough ppl (usually 6 or so) ask for your book, they will buy your book, Indie or not.

I will never have an editor who will work with me to develop the book and the follow-ups because she loved it enough to acquire it for her house.
Bwuahahhaha! I’m sorry, but you’re assuming that they know better than you. Dude, they’re part of a dying breed, and they’re dying b/c they don’t want to change. No one jumps up and down and screams, “oooh, ooooh! pick me!” to be the next casualty of the publishing industry.

I gave up the chance to grow as an author under their (NY editor’s) tutelage.
Again, they can’t tell their ass from their elbow and you’re gonna look really weird at parties trying to sit on the wrong one.

A team of marketing and publicity experts with contacts.
FAKE! Guess what? The experts are few and far between. If the market has shifted to primarily selling intangible goods and you have a panel of ppl who rock at selling paper, then you have a serious problem. The experts aren’t there. They’ll put you on a mailing list with 2K subscribers that’s WAY past it’s heyday, and then tell you to buy a bookbub ad (on your dime.)

Authors are expected to market themselves, traditionally published or Indie. If you fail, even after being picked up by one of the big boys, it’s your fault. It’s never their fault. That’s not the kind of people you want to work with. Ever read an article where the publisher goes, “Our marketing effort just didn’t connect with readers.” It’s always the author under-performed, or the title couldn’t cross over to print.

The branding a big name publisher can provide.
They have no idea how to do this. The authors who have brands sold scads of books and the pubs rode coattails. You make your brand. You ARE your brand. This is one of those shiny things they dangle to get you to sign, and then you find out it was never there. How do you market intangible goods (goods you can’t touch)? I know, and I’m very aware that they do not.

I gave up the opportunity to learn from marketing and publicity experts as well.
No, you didn’t. When a big publisher did research on serials, guess who they looked at? When the publishers want to check the market to see what unexpected stuff is going on, do you really think they’re looking at each other? No, they’re looking at us – Indies. Why? Because we take more risks, and understand the market better b/c we have to. They still get paid even if they’re sitting on their elbows. We don’t eat if we don’t sell our stuff. Poverty is a motivator–it’s a bonus really.

I gave up being branded alongside bestselling authors who have been publishing for many years and have many readers.
I’ve had the big 5 come to me (after refusing over $1.5 million in contracts) to ask me to blurb their book. I’m 100% Indie and pretty much told them that they have no idea how to do anything when I turned them down. They still came asking. You are in good company, and we tend to be more forthright and supportive.

I am less likely to ever make a national bestseller list.
Everyone says that. Statistically, this is inaccurate as the list has been taken over by Indies. As an Indie, you’re more likely to make a list IMHO. You have complete control.

I am less likely to sell my other rights, such as audio and foreign translation. Some might counter that I can self-publish my books in audio form, but this is now much more difficult due to recent changes in royalties provided the primary providers of indie Audiobooks, ACX.
Don’t even get me started on ACX, but to counter your point – you WILL get audio offers for your book. They’ll be around $1K, b/c ‘audio just isn’t worth that much.’ Which is BS. Take it if you want or do it yourself and use a different platform. There’s more than just ACX out there. You will get offers on foreign too. Take it if you want. They will find you.

I have most likely lost the chance to sell movie rights.
Not true. Several indies sold film rights.

I may have damaged my chances to become a hybrid author.
Hybrid is a term that the industry made up so they won’t get left behind. They want you to think they’re relevant and still have something to offer. They don’t.

When I walked away from my auction offers, I was told, point-blank, that I would be a “hard sell” to any New York editor after this.
That’s [bullcrap]. Money talks. See above reference of me blowing them off and then being asked to blurb a book 2 weeks later. That was a pressure tactic and it’s BS.

The cachet of being associated with a big publisher. Being invited to publisher parties at big writers conferences. Networking with industry professionals in a concentrated setting and with a common goal in mind. Being sent on book tours or participating in book signings.
You can still do that and laugh at them as you walk by b/c you’re making more money and have more freedom. Ta ta!

If I ever accept a NY contract, I’ll never be marketed as a “debut author.”
They wanted to mark me as a ‘debut’ author after publishing 40+ books. I don’t think that’s a good thing. It’s the newB stamp.

I have lost the opportunity for a traditional publishing house to establish a brand for me.
You said this twice. THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THEY INTENDED ON MAKING A BRAND FOR YOU. Branding things is difficult, branding people is even harder. That’s not what they do. They know how to print paper and they’re abandoning that in an attempt to remain relevant.

I have no idea who got under your skin, but most of these concerns are BS fed to Indies by agents and editors. It’s a sales technique called ‘fear of loss’ – look at everything you gave up by leaving us. Meanwhile, they’re telling you about the Indie side of things and they have no clue. A dog can’t say what it’s like to live as a cat, you get me?

Pay attention to where you hear things. This is part of them tainting the market and making us afraid so we’ll sign away our rights for a song. They’re taking advantage of people and it’s wrong.

It’s hard to make an ‘informed’ decision when the trads are blowing so much smoke up our butts. Seriously.

To those who trad-pubbed and signed on the line, I’m not slamming you. People have to do what they have to do, but please be aware that the industry is crumbling and there are so many false concepts and things that will be offered if you only ‘sign here! Sign now! Don’t wait!’ If anyone treats you like that, run the other way. Fast.

I copied it fm my blog b/c it took me a LONG time to figure out this stuff was crap used with a high pressure sales technique. Writer beware.

Writers' Cafe / If you had a question to ask me, what would it be?
« on: February 18, 2014, 03:59:37 pm »
If you could ask me anything about publishing, what would it be? I'm totally serious, so ask me. I'm planning on doing a series of podcasts on self publishing, and am wondering what the peeps wanna hear about, so lemme know.



In case you have no idea who I am, here's the fast facts:

•Is a 100% Indie author (self-published).

•Sold 4 MILLION books in 2013.

•Started self pubbing in in 2011 with no industry ties or former publications.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #1 bestselling Indie Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace title of 2013.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #14 bestselling Kindle title on Amazon of 2013.

•In 2013 alone Ward had 11 different titles on the NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers list.

•Is a NYT, WSJ, USAT bestselling author.

•THE ARRANGEMENT series sold over 1 million copies in 2013.

•H.M. Ward has been a top 100 Amazon author every month of 2013, often in the top 10.

•In 2013 she released a new title about every 2.5 weeks.

•Formal education is in theology.

•Ward's titles tend to focus on elements of the human condition such as poverty.

•Had multiple titles hit #1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was in the Amazon top 100 kindle titles for over 100 days in 2013.

•H.M. Ward owns H.M. Ward Press (formerly Laree Bailey Press).

•In a previous life, Ward was a nationally acclaimed professional photographer.

I posted an announcement on my facebook page last night and had several ppl nudge me to post it over here. So here we go. Plus I'm adding more info, b/c info is king and it's good to be king. bwuhahaha.

Over the past year I've been offered over 1.5 million bucks in advances offered by huge publishing houses. I told them to show me a marketing plan that knocks my socks off and I'd consider their offer. I had this notion that they knew what they were doing and could do it better than I could. They said they had all these ideas and they're gonna blow my mind, which was a requirement for the deal, b/c the pay was too low.

About the money - if you have a book that hits #1-10 on the Kindle store, tons of people have the mistaken notion that it's gonna blip and fall and you're fun in the sun will end...unless a trad pub picks you up.

It's math time! A book in the top ten sells around 5-10K copies per day. Let's take the average and give the book some wiggle room and say it's selling 7K copies a day @ $2.99. In 7 days you'll have made (net, not gross) over $100,000. So BIG TRAD HOUSE offers you $200,000 for a three part series.

'Sign here,' they say. 'Sign fast! You want to strike while the irons hot.' 'A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.' 'It's a sure thing and if you don't sign, then you could loose everything.' <--They actually said all the crap to me, and its crap. If the book nets $100K in a week, what will it do next week? What about next month? What about next year? Never mind those other 2 books. Bad deal.

The most recent offer was for a high six figure deal on my next novel, on spec, sight unseen from one of the big 5. I gave the same terms - show me a kick ass marketing plan and I'll consider it. They were excited and on it! They were going to wow me. Like I was gonna be so wowed that I'd die of the wowness. True story.

Dude, the marketing plan I got back was the equivalent of, 'we're gonna do stuff.' Their email list - yeah, they don't personally have one, but this archaic place does - had 2K people on it. That was the bulk of their plan.

My email list has over 30K ppl on it and I do a ton more stuff than they presented. There's a post in here about my release day marketing plan, most of which is free and time consuming. I still do that. It's listed in here with details.


I said no. And laughed. A lot. It was so weak.

My point - do NOT think that they have any clue what they are doing, because they do not. There is a marketing method that is called 'see what sticks' where you take a plate of spaghetti and toss it at the wall. There's no planning, no nothing. Just take it and throw. That is what the big houses are doing. Every marketing plan had that element of 'fate' and hoped that I would be the lucky piece of pasta that stuck.

Screw that. I want someone who knows what they're doing. Apparently, that's me. I'm good at selling intangible goods. I know that, but I assumed there would be better things that I hadn't thought of. I still consider myself 'green.' Yeah, it turns out that I'm not.

Everything you do should have a purpose. All ads should be directly targeting your demographic for your book. 'Toss it at the wall' is very costly and honestly, it gets you a very poor ROI (return on investment).

Here are some of the highlights of my Indie career since I started. March marks my 3 year Indie anniversary. I was not previously published. I started at zero. I was a photographer, with a theology degree that cost a frickin fortune.

•I sold 4 MILLION+ books since 2011.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #1 bestselling Indie Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace title of 2013.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #14 bestselling Kindle title on Amazon of 2013.

•In 2013 alone I had 11 different titles on the NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers list.

•I'm a NYT, WSJ, USAT bestselling author.

•THE ARRANGEMENT series sold over 1 million copies in 2013. Dude, they're serials. People hate short books. Riiiight. ;)

•I've been a top 100 Amazon author every month of 2013, often in the top 10.

•In 2013 I released a new title about every 2.5 weeks.

•My formal education is in theology.

•My titles tend to focus on elements of the human condition such as poverty, hope, grief, and loss.

•I had multiple titles hit #1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was in the Amazon top 100 kindle titles for over 100 days in 2013.

•H.M. Ward owns H.M. Ward Press (formerly Laree Bailey Press). Other indies thought that I was trad b/c of my press. I'm not.

•Prior to this I was a nationally acclaimed professional photographer. I shot the covers for Demon Kissed 1-5 and Catalyst before I retired from photography in Fall 2012. Until then, I was a FT photog and a PT writer.

I started by using facebook and only facebook to connect to readers outside of my social circles. There are other ways to do that, but I'm a big believer in don't wait for them to come to you.

My first book cost me $125 to produce. I was butt poor from a theology degree that cost well over six figures. I didn't have extra money to mess around with.

I had a big NY agent for my 1st book and was looking at the traditional route. I told her to pull it--I wanted to publish it myself. (Many thanks to Joe Konrath and his awesome blog).

I work about 80 hours a week. I have two assistants that help me manage paperwork. I just hired them b/c I had been going nuts trying to do everything myself. Hubby helps me with all the numbers stuff and when I get sick (I've been fighting an illness for the past 3 years) that knocks me on my ass periodically.

If you forget everything else in this post, remember this:

If you don’t have the gall to believe in yourself and your work, no one else will.

Bring it.

Own it.

And don't worry about mistakes, because they're the stepping stones to success. I notice I never say 'I failed' - I say 'well, I jacket that up,' and try to figure out where it went wrong so I can fix it. Failure is an excellent teacher. Learn from it and try again.

I feel like crap today, so forgive my typos and such. I wanted to take the time to share this b/c stuff like this helped me. I'd see ppl's posts about how they were getting ahead, buying a laptop with their earnings, or read Joe's blog and seeing his income, and it made me keep going. I'm glad I did.

Being an Indie completely and totally rocks. ;)

Writers' Cafe / Happy News, Milestones & Millions
« on: December 17, 2013, 12:44:15 pm »
So, I lost count of how many books I've sold this quarter, but I passed 3 million. :D Party! I'm talking to the fans about where to hold FerroFest, cuz we need to do that and party like its 1999!

Then the other day I heard that DAMAGED was in the top kindle books for 2013. I was floored. Then Amazon released that overall rank for 2013 was #14! Eeep!

But wait! There's more! Then they said that... the 2013 best-selling independent book, published via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and CreateSpace, is Damaged by H.M. Ward! Now, I'm dying. You guys know I've been through hell this year with nonstop medical problems, so any happy news is super awesome.

But wait, there's more! More, you say? That's right! I have FOUR titles in the top 100 list for kindle for 2013. My face is frozen in a smile of disbelief. No freakin' way. WAY, DUDE, WAY!

This year has been so weird, filled with super highs and super lows. I lost a loved one to cancer, and spent way too many weeks in the hospital with my own medical problems. So is life. I've been trying to roll with it, but it's been really rough. Thanks to KBers for their support and advice. Thanks to everyone who writes posts and shares info.

If you're wondering, I started this crazy adventure 2 years ago and during that time wrote 42 titles, had 10 NYT bestsellers (all were this year), and no one knew who I was when I started. Everything has been 100% Indie and I was making a great living being a midlister in 2012. If you're banging your head into the wall, I've been there. Just keep going. It gets better. :)

I thought I topped out at #2, but a few people told me that I debuted at #1 last night on my newest release. Total sales for 24 hours was about 7000, which was a lot lower than the number needed to hit #1 in April and June. I don't have my list next to me (I tracked it hourly in April), but I think April was around 9500 sales in 24 hours to take the #1 slot back then.

Current Book:
Genre: New Adult
Format: Serial
Length: 20K words
Price: $2.99

Book in April:
Genre: New Adult
Format: Novel, part 1 of 2
Length: 60K words.
Price (when it hit #1 - I jerked the price around on this one a lot): $0.99

Book in June:
Genre: New Adult
Format: Novel, part 2 of 2
Length: 60K
Price: $3.99

The book that hit #1 in June had to outsell that 9500 number. I was trying to patch together sales/ market trends to see how much you had to sell to hit top 100, top 10, and #1 in various months, and compare them to previous years, b/c I'm weird like that. :) If you have stats on top 100, feel free to share.

Writers' Cafe / Glitchy? NookPress and KDP
« on: September 23, 2013, 01:13:35 pm »
Anyone having issues with KDP and NookPress being fussier than usual in the past 24 hours? I have new releases on both sites and both are having issues. :( Amazon has a book thats 15+ hours with no rank, and NookPress must have squirrels in their pants, b/c it never even showed up over there.

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