A Contest and a Giveaway

So, I entered my book, Dark Was the Night, into a contest. It’s The BookLife Prize for Fiction. Once you sign up, you receive a Critic’s Report from a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer.

I know this is a long shot, and I don’t hold any pretenses of even coming close to winning. But my Critic’s Report is not shabby, if I may say so myself.

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10″


Plot: Full of drama, intrigue, and intense emotion, Dark Was the Night grips readers from the first page and doesn’t let up until the hard-hitting conclusion.

Prose: The author is clearly a gifted writer, able to convey debilitating fear, create tension, and to elicit a visceral response from readers. There’s a fine balance of detail, dialogue, and action as the chilling story unfolds.

Originality: This is a highly original work with memorable characters and a distinctive plot line.

Character/Execution: The author does an excellent job with characterization, particularly with Lucie, whose paranoia and fear dominate the book.

Blurb: Gripping and suspenseful, Dark Was the Night will keep readers on the edge of their seats.”

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So, if this report tickles your interest, I’m happy to announce that I will host a giveaway of my book until the end of the month. That’s right, until Halloween, which is quite fitting since my book’s story takes place on Halloween Night.

What can you do to participate, you may ask? Well, it’s simple, just like this post. All those who liked it will be automatically included in the live draw that will take place on Saturday, November 5, at 4:00 pm EST on my Facebook page:

Tania Lorena Rivera – Writer

I will be giving away three copies of my book!

Good luck and have a spooky month!


Renovations and Lack of Motivation

So, I’ve been MIA for a few weeks now. Partly because we’ve been renovating our bathroom the whole summer. But mostly, it’s because I’ve been seriously lacking the motivation to keep my social media pages up to date. I’ve not even been writing my second novel, and I’m halfway through, but I haven’t written anymore. Which bums me out because I wanted to finish this summer.

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But life just takes over. How do other writers do it, I wonder. Many of them can write for hours without interruption. But it’s not possible when you’re the primary caregiver to your children and two feathery friends while your husband is working. I have three kids. And at the end of the day, I just want to grab a snack and fall asleep on my couch watching Netflix. I often joke with my husband that I need a maid, a cook, and a nanny for me to write like a real writer.

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So here I am, dusting myself off, taking a deep breath, and diving back in. Because I need the followers. I do. How else will I convince a publishing company that I can sell books? A meme is making the rounds in social media right now saying that most published books sell fewer than 5000 copies while only a handful become bestsellers. It’s actually true. How depressing, right? I’ll be lucky to sell 500. How many copies have I sold, you may ask? I’ve stopped counting. I’ve even stopped promoting it. But if you’re new here and are interested, I self-published a book last year. Here it is:

Dark Was the Night

So, anyway, back to the renovations. If you’re like me and like renovation shows, here are before and after pictures of my bathroom. And yes, that awful olive color was my choice. So we decided to tile the whole place up, making it seem bigger and brighter.

Despite all this, I have been writing. Mostly for Collider. It’s an entertainment website that keeps you updated on the latest news in movies and TV shows. Here are the articles I’ve written for them if you’re interested.


I would like to say I’ll keep updating regularly, but that would be a lie. For those of you who’ve stuck around, thank you. I’ll most likely do another giveaway of my book for Halloween. So stay tuned for that!

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Barnes & Noble Coupon Code

So, I forgot to give you guys the coupon code to get my ebook for free on Barnes & Noble. Oups. Hihi. My bad. But worry not! Here is the coupon and I will extend the free promotion on B&N until the 16th of July to make up for the loss time.

So, here is the coupon code: BNPFREEJUNE

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Free eBook Version of My Book Dark Was the Night!

(So, I’m a bit late on this one. Sorry. But we are renovating our bathroom, and it’s pandemonium right now in our house.)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Something thrilling this way comes!

Care to expand your reading list this summer?

Why not give my book a try?

The ebook version will be free during the month of June 2022! That’s right! The whole month!

On KOBO, Barnes & Noble and Google Books.

Hope my book adds a little chill to your summer!

And just for the heck of it, here is my book’s trailer in case you’ve never seen it.



New Gig, BookLife Indie Author Forum and Book Update

I know I’ve been MIA from my blog for some time now, but I’ve been quite busy looking for a writing gig. Times are hard, and finding a good remote writing job with a flexible schedule is challenging. But I managed to find a gig for Collider. If you’re interested in movies and TV shows or are an avid gamer, check out Collider for the latest news. I am a huge movie buff, so this opportunity seemed quite fitting.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Here are my first two pieces with the online publication, if you’re interested.

10 Cringey Yet Charming Lines From The ‘Twilight’ Movies

10 Funny Episodes of The X-Files To Watch Over and Over

So, apart from that, I’ve wanted to write this post for some time now. I realize I may be late for the show. Really late. People are cleaning the aisles, but I attended the BookLife Indie Author Forum last March, and here is my takeaway from the event.

Is Self-Publishing for You?

For this, you can check out my own post on the subject. It’s a lot of work and time-consuming. So, I suggest you read up on the subject before going down that path.

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Is Amazon Worth It?

In short, yes. It is the primary online bookseller. If you want to sell your book, that’s where to do it. The caveat? You need an online marketing strategy, and you need to understand Amazon’s complicated ad formats. Luckily, they have free online courses once you register with KDP Amazon to help you navigate through all of that. It is where I’ve seen most book sales of my book Dark Was the Night.

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What’s in a Book Cover?

In essence, everything. Your book cover is the first thing potential readers see when shopping for a book. You’ll be stuck doing your own book cover if you’re like me and have a limited budget. But if you have the money, invest in a professional book design. One interesting tip I got from that session is that the title should not be separate from the rest of the design. Incorporate the title to your image to make your book cover more organic and make it pop out. 

Here’s an example I found online done by CreatIndieCovers.

Your Book Blurb

Like I say in my own blog post, you need to be able to summarize your book in a way that is more catchy and sparks interest in a reader. But the book blurb is only one part, and your author bio should also be interesting to read. Here’s an example from BlurbBitch.

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Beyond Amazon

This was an interesting segment as Amazon might not be the only avenue for us, indie authors. Hybrid publishers are more and more prevalent where the author contributes financially to the making and publishing of their own book. This is an exciting option if you have the money to go down that route. A simple Google search will help you find many but be careful to distinguish them from Vanity Presses, where the main goal is just to take your money and print your book without any additional services traditional publishers offer: copywriting, editing, printing, marketing, and promotion.

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Final Note

Was it worth it assisting the forum? I say it was. You get to interact with other indie authors in a chat during the sessions, and many sponsors reached out with emails to all attendees with extra days of FAQs after the forum. I recommend it if you can spare the 149$ US. 

Update on My Second Book

I am halfway through. I have been procrastinating a lot, and I am mad at myself because I should have been done by now and should be in the process of querying publishers. I’m writing a semi-biography semi-fiction novel about my grandmother, and it’s a drama. Hopefully, the damn thing will be done by the end of June if I write every day. Ha! Don’t hold your breath, people! 

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The Story Nobody Wanted

Besides being a self-published author and trying to be a traditionally published one, I’m also an essay writer. I’ve been more successful in that department, mostly writing about parenting. If ever you’re curious, here is my portfolio:


I’ve been in that game for three years now, and I’ve become pretty good at guessing which essay will get published and which one is a long shot, and I rarely get surprised anymore. You develop a sixth sense about these things because you become so in tune with your own writing and what people will connect with more.

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But of all the essays I’ve sent in for submission, there is one that has been consistently rejected for the past three years, and I cannot for the life of me understand why. It’s a funny anecdote that happened to us throughout one summer. I’ve probably sent in this essay well over twenty places, and they’ve all rejected it.

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My best guess is that maybe the essay is too specific, and editors feel no one will relate to it. But who doesn’t enjoy a somewhat funny story where the people misjudged a situation?

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you The Story Nobody Wanted, or how I like to call it, The Toy Store.

The Toy Store

Back when we were the parents of just one child, there was this toy store we liked to take our then seven-year-old daughter to. It was in a big shopping mall, but the store had a local, small-town feel. It was neatly kept, and the toys were beautifully arranged. And it had one of those wonderful display windows through which children stared endlessly and marvel at all the pretty things.

So, whenever we visited the store, my husband and I could not help but buy something for our daughter. The store was so appealing it almost beckoned us to grab something. And we always did. It was never anything too expensive or too extravagant or too big, just a little something. We liked to think we were teaching our daughter good values. Certainly, a small toy every now and then could not spoil her. Of course, we had our doubts because what started as an exception soon became a habit, and she had come to expect something every time. But whatever doubt clouded our minds quickly vanished when we saw our daughter’s face as she took home a little piece of that heavenly place.

One summer day, the toy store displayed a beautiful, red, shiny toy car in its window. The type where children can sit and ride in. And like dozens of people there, we stopped and admired it. And like all the children there, my daughter asked for it. She knew better than to ask for something that size on a regular day, so she smartly specified that she would like it for Christmas or her birthday. We exchanged glances with my husband, and we explained to her that the toy was too big and too expensive. Our child has never been difficult, and she was content to take home something more reasonable.

I could only imagine what my parents would say if we spent hundreds of hard-earned dollars on a toy. How my big brother would joke and say our daughter had a better car than her parents. I smiled to myself thinking of this, and we walked away, leaving the nice toy car where it should be, in the toy store.

A few weeks later, the car was still there, but right next to it, there was now a sign with one word on it: Reserved. I scoffed at the sight of this. Why would anybody spend this much money on a toy that would soon be forgotten in a garage somewhere? And once again, in my head, I pictured my parents’ frown of disapproval. I heard my brother’s mocking voice if ever we were the ones offering such an extravagant gift to our kid.

The car stayed up with that sign almost all summer, and each time we passed by it, we wondered, who was the mysterious buyer, and why in the world had that person not picked up the car yet? Was it a surprise and the store was keeping it till then? Or perhaps, the buyer was paying by installments because he couldn’t afford to buy it all in one shot. And I shook my head at this thought. I purchased my appliances by installments, certainly not a toy. If my brother were here, he would be mercilessly ridiculing the situation, I thought.

Later that summer, my brother invited us to his house one afternoon. I could tell on the phone he was excited about something. When we arrived at his home, that something was smack in the middle of his living room, staring back at us. We immediately recognized it, and we gaped in disbelief at it. It was the car from the toy store.


Five Months After I published My Book. So, What Now?

So what now, indeed? That is the question that has been dancing in my head since the Holidays. What more can I do to promote my book? I’ve done promotions. I’ve shared my good reviews on social media. I’ve done giveaways. I’m running ads on Amazon and Facebook/Instagram. I published the book trailer on YouTube, and I still have not sold more than 30 books. I’m scouring libraries in my city to see which ones would like to have my book on consignment.

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I guess I can submit it to more reviews by other well-known websites, but that costs money, and I’ve long run out of review money. I can host another giveaway as I did on Goodreads. Yet, the interest in the book did not turn into a considerable amount of sales. There are still around 2000 people who have it on their to-read shelf, so hopefully, those people decide to buy the book.

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I’m trying to score a BookBub Featured Deal. Notoriously difficult to get, having your book featured on their newsletter is a guaranteed success, or so I’ve heard. So, what’s the catch? You have to offer your e-book (the only kind they will take) at a significantly lower price or give it away for free to be considered for the gig. That’s right! Give away your novel for free to potentially thousands of people. Give your work away. For free. Now, I know what you’re going to ask me: what’s the big deal, Tania? You already gave several paperback books for free. Yeah, but I didn’t spend close to 500$ USD to do so. Ouch, right? Five hundred buckaroos if you want to have your book featured in what could potentially turn into some sales later on. Read that again, folks. The operative word is ‘potentially.’ There are no guarantees. The only guarantee is that you’ll be out 500$ USD, and you’ll be giving your novel away for free.

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I can see how this deal can work for authors who’ve written a series. You put one of the books up for free, and it draws attention to the series. People have one book free and buy the rest of the series. But I’m interested in seeing how it works for authors with just one book.

Anyway, I’ve been rejected twice so far, and now, I’m debating whether or not it’s worth it. On the plus side, it will attract more readers to my book. Decisions, decisions.

So, that’s pretty much where I’m at with my quest. A little bit discouraged, but it’s only been five months. Right now, on Amazon, I’m selling, on average, maybe one book every ten days or so. So, I’m trying to find the right combination of bid versus daily budget versus running time of the campaign. It’s all very technical, tedious, and frustrating but necessary.

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So, if ever I happen upon a magic formula that boosts sales, I’ll make sure to share it here. But, uh, don’t hold your breath.

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Christmas Book Giveaway

I’m hosting a Christmas Book Giveaway event on Facebook for all my followers! How to participate? First, follow the link below to enter the event on my Facebook page, then, read the following paragraph for all the instructions. I hope to see you all there!


Enter for a chance to win one of three paperback copies of my book, Dark Was the Night! The event starts on Wednesday December 15 at 09:00 a.m. Eastern Time and ends on Monday December 27 at 11:45 p.m. Eastern Time. The winners will be announced live on my Facebook page on Wednesday December 29 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And they will also be notified via Facebook Messenger in case they can’t attend the live event. Only the followers who enter the event will be included in the draw. Good luck! 

Just for kicks, and to jog your mind a little, here is the book trailer for Dark Was the Night.


The Evolution of a Book Cover

Whoever said ‘don’t judge a book by its cover ‘ never had to sell one. This is the boring story of the cover design of my book. How it started, where it went, and how it ended. Exciting stuff!

So, I knew I needed a kick-ass cover in self-publishing my first book. I scouted a few places that did professional book design. And, of course, they charged an arm and a leg to have a polished, professional-looking book cover. I decided to make it myself and to look for a stock picture that could convey as best it could the mood of my book. I chose this one.

It’s a nice picture of a house taken during the night. My book is a thriller/horror (it could technically fit both categories) about a home invasion. It was good enough. However, after I downloaded the picture on Amazon’s Kindle book cover templates, the software didn’t like it. The picture’s format didn’t fit the model I chose for my book cover, and so I had to settle for this book cover.

I initially liked it, and I thought it was unique, but I was delusional. How can you have a book without its title on the front cover? That will not fly on bookshelves!

After opening an account on Barnes & Noble, I was pleased to see that their book cover templates did accept my picture. I was then able to insert the title on the front cover. And this is the result.

I then used this template on Amazon Kindle, and to my surprise, it accepted the format. I later changed the font because I found this one to be too soft for a thriller. FYI, the printing quality of Barnes & Noble is better than the quality of Amazon. But Barnes & Noble does not send author copies to Canada. And buying my books full price was not an option economically wise.

Scouting bookstores here in Montreal for consignment contracts, I soon realized that ordering my printed copies from Amazon was not the way to go. The quality was not good enough to compete with the beautifully printed books of publishers.

I searched for a printing company with a good quality/price ratio in my hometown. After a few days, I found this little press above a viaduct with no place to park around. But their inconvenient location was soon made up by their print quality! Far better than Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My book looked professional and gorgeous. They were a dollar more per book than what Amazon charged, and their delivery time was 6-8 days, whereas Amazon was three weeks. It was perfect!

I had the choice between a glossy and a matte finish. I liked the glossy because it immediately catches your eye, but it breaks more easily. I settled for the matte finish, even if the colors were not as bright. I think it fits the genre and the smooth texture of the cover is pleasant to the touch. It was more expensive than the glossy one, but after reading articles on the matter, here’s what I found. You go with a glossy finish if you have a beautiful art design on the cover. The colors will pop out more. You go with a matte finish if you have anything else than a beautiful design on the cover. Or, you can go with whatever gives you joy, like Marie Kondo says. No one reached a clear consensus on this. Sorry, I can’t be of any more help if you are in the midst of this hard decision. You can always order two proof copies of each and see which one you like best, and to hell with mainstream ideas.

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I ordered 10 copies to start. They are all gone! Each one of them is in bookstores or in the hands of clients already, and I’ve placed the order for 15 more.

Here’s hoping I won’t have to make any changes again. Unless it’s under a publisher’s advice! *wink, wink*

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Reality Check

It’s been about two and a half months since I released my book, Dark Was the Night, on ebook and printed formats. I’ve submitted my novel for several reviews, and they have been good. I’ve been posting ads on Amazon, Bookbub, BookLife, and Publisher’s Weekly, which have resulted in precisely one sale. I’ve promoted my book on Facebook, Instagram, and my website. I’ve opened a Twitter account just to have another platform where to promote the darn thing. I’ve even had a book trailer made, which has garnered maybe 30 views. Granted, I’ve yet to promote it on YouTube, but still.

And what have all those efforts yielded? How many book sales to my name? Well, let’s do the math, shall we?
Twenty-one books (a mix of ebooks and printed books) sold on Amazon, and seven of those I bought.
Two ebooks sold on Kobo. I bought one, and my best friend bought the other.
Two printed books sold on Barnes & Noble, bought by yours truly.
And who the hell knows what’s happening in Google Play.

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Right now, I’m scouting bookstores in my city that would be willing to display my self-published book. I sent emails to 15 of them. Two replied. One to tell me they don’t care about indie authors. The other said they liked to help local authors, but self-published books don’t get prime real estate in his bookstore. Hey, I’m not picky. At this point, any real estate will do!

Encore Books and Records. Actual bookstore in Montreal, Québec where my book is sold.
Image Source: Biblio.com

Next week, I will physically present myself with my book to the other 13 places that didn’t bother to answer me because that’s what you do, right? You keep trying, and you keep pushing. But this is a full-time job, people. One I have been doing since my book came out on October first between the hours of midnight and 3:00 a.m., sometimes 4:00 a.m.

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I’m exhausted and overwhelmed at the amount of work this is turning out to be. And if I’m being sincere, disappointed at the little results I am getting.

There are piles of laundry in every room of my house. I’ve been ordering take-out three times a week for several weeks now. I feel like I am neglecting my family, and the guilt is eating me raw.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

But then I remind myself that many authors started out this way, and then one day, they hit gold. It’s a long shot. I know. But it’s what keeps me going.

I will not sit here and pretend that I write just for the sake of writing. That what matters is the story. If the only thing that mattered was the story, I would keep a journal and keep my personal essays to myself. I want to make something out of this. Otherwise, I would not be here blogging in the middle of the freaking night to the ten people who were gracious enough to follow a nobody like me.

Having said all this, I am well aware that the odds of my book not being forgotten in the dark corners of the self-publishing world are stacked against me. Yet, every time I look at my name in print on the spine of my book, I smile. I wrote a book and published it! How many people can say that?

It turns out, a lot of people can say that! According to Amazon, around one million individuals can proclaim the same thing each and every year.

Check your ego at the door of the book publishing business and grab a number. You’ll be waiting longer than Beetlejuice in the Neitherworld Waiting Room before your number comes up.


Fear of the Dark

And I thought writing query letters was hard. It turns out, answering questions about my thought process in writing this book is even more challenging. I hope I did it justice.


Tania Lorena Rivera
Tania Lorena Rivera Author Interview

Dark Was the Night follows a woman whose home is invaded by intruders and she’s forced to face her fear of the dark to save her daughter. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for my story is two-fold. The main events of this story happen during one Halloween night, and the idea for that came to me many moons ago when I was home alone giving candy to trick-or-treaters. It was a Friday night, and Unsolved Mysteries was on TV. Already, the mood was gloomy. Every time the bell rang, I would get up, grab the big bowl of candy and open my front door without looking who was knocking. And then a spooky thought entered my mind. What is to stop anyone from barging in here the moment I fling that door wide open? How would anyone know…

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Book Reviews

Here are my latest book reviews for my novel Dark Was the Night. For those following me on Facebook, I know it’s the same stuff I posted there. I’m sorry, but I had not posted these reviews here, and I have followers here too. Albeit, they are only ten, but still. For the ten of you who’ve decided to follow this blog, you are very nice people.

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These book reviews can also be found on my Books page, but I wanted to elaborate on one of them.
I was riding the high five-star wave with the first few reviews, and how smug was I to assume that this review would be no different. But the book earned a four out of a five-star review. A solid review and I agree with the reviewer saying I didn’t really go into depths with the physical descriptions of my characters. I’m not big on descriptions. In fact, I hate long, elaborate descriptions that only drag the story.

Reading Tolkien was a torment for me until we got into the main plot of the story. I know, some people love descriptions. But I am of the position that some deduction must be left for the reader.
In writing my story, I found that I struggled to describe my characters physically. I really had a hard time integrating their physical description without disrupting the natural flow of the story. I found it to be awkward and clumsy. What good is it to know that my protagonist has brown eyes if it doesn’t advance the story? If a part of their physical appearance is essential for the plot, I will mention it, but the rest can be easily deduced. A character with a kid who is 18 years old can easily be imagined with salt and pepper hair. Do I then need to enter into more specifics? I don’t believe it’s necessary unless that character had the kid young; therefore, I would mention that because it’s important to the story. But I think that characters also should be open to interpretation. Each reader has the right to imagine them as they see fit. I believe they can relate more to the characters if their physical appearance remains vague on the page but becomes well-formed in the reader’s mind.

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But I understand where the reviewer is coming from. Some readers do like the visual specificities of characters. I will keep that in mind for my next book. And this is not to say that I am not pleased with the review. On the contrary, it’s a solid, honest and good review. I just thought I would comment on what the reviewer said about my lack of physical descriptions.

So, here you have them. The reviews from The Book Commentary and Literary Titan.

Dark Was the Night is an exceptional suspense that shines in its prose and stylistic elements, a story that will keep the reader guessing at every twist and turn.” – Jane Riley for The Book Commentary

“Although I loved the plot and premise of this story, I would have enjoyed more details around the characters to give them more depth. That was especially the case when it came to their physical appearance. But I am glad to say this is my only complaint, and it does not affect my feelings towards the story as a whole.” – Literary Titan


Dark Was the Night: A Novella by Tania Lorena Rivera

My second review is in! Thanks to The Prairies Book for this great review!

For those who missed my first review by Readers’ Favorite, here is the link:

The Prairies Book Review

A fast-paced and nuanced suspense thriller…

Rivera crafts an absorbing thriller around a woman’s nyctophobia in her engrossing debut. Lucie Arnold seems to have it all: a solid marriage, a happy, energetic child, and a satisfying career. But her acute fear of the dark is wreaking havoc in her life. When three dangerous intruders force themselves into her house on Halloween night, Lucie knows she must get ready to face her fear if she wants to see her daughter again. Rivera layers her story with hidden depths, expertly mining Lucie’s nyctophobia, and her long-buried memories that refuse to come to surface. She does a skillful job of gradually unraveling Lucie’s tortured past while deftly juggling the fast-paced narrative. A mystery that starts with Lucie’s inability to face darkness quickly turns into a nail-biting, cat-and-mouse game between the violent intruders and a mother determined to protect her child. Fans of page-turning…

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The Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing

If you’ve known only rejection by every publisher and agent under the sun, and you’re wondering what to do next with that book you wrote. That story you poured your sweat, your blood and tears over. That kept you up day and night, away from friends and family gatherings. That plot hole that had you downing Pepto-Bismol like it was the antidote. That made you gain or lose 20 pounds, depending on your constitution. Had you staring at a bright, white screen or a dull white page for hours on end, forcing your mind to produce a smidge of an idea, and have it swim by that gelatinous goo that had become your brain. Then you most definitely do not want to toss all that hard work away, right?

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So, here you are, thinking the hard part is over. You finished your book. To self-publish will be child’s play compared to the self-torture that is writing a book.
Ha! Think again, sunshine! There is a reason, and a good one, that several players enter the arena when publishing a book. There’s your editor, copy editor, blurb writer, book designer, photographer, marketing expert, and probably a few others I’m forgetting. When you self-publish, guess who gets to do all of that work? That’s right! You! Tiny, insignificant you against the Titans in the business to try and get your book noticed.
You might think, well, easy; I’ll hire all of those people. Unless money is not an issue, all of those beautiful people cost a pretty penny. So what to do? Well, not that I’m an expert or anything, but in the interest of full disclosure, here’s how I went about it if ever you’re interested.

Editing is a long and painstakingly annoying task. Now, some of you might try to edit as you go along writing your book. Don’t. Do it when finished. When the creative juices are flowing, do not slow them down by editing. This is probably what’s going to take most of your time. My advice? If you can afford an editor, hire one. Or at least find a beta reader. I did neither. I edited my book alone. It took months. Months.

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Copy Editing
I don’t know how many times I reread my manuscript on my laptop, but you would think I would have spotted all the typographical errors present in my writing. Boy, did I have a surprise when I bought my first copy of my paperback book after it was published! Yeah. The book was out with all those embarrassing mistakes that I only noticed once my copy arrived at my house. I can only thank my lucky stars for not advertising early in the sea of books that Amazon publishes for anyone to notice. So my advice? Print your manuscript! Yeah. Sounds crazy, right? But believe me, it’s much easier to spot mistakes on paper.

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Book Design
The design of your book should reflect the story it carries. It needs to catch the reader’s eye. It needs to tell information about the mood and style of your book. It needs to stand out on a bookshelf because you’re competing against professionally manicured books.
In my case, my book is a thriller that tells the story of a home invasion that happens one Halloween night. I had a clear vision for my book cover. And so, I naively thought I could pay for at least the book cover design. Guess what? I couldn’t afford it. So to the stock images, I went. There are several websites out there selling stock images. Heck, I sell stock images! So I selected a picture of a house at night with all the lights inside turned on. If you read my book, you’ll understand why I chose that picture—wink, wink, nudge, nudge. See what I did there? No? Sigh. Nevermind. Where were we? Ah! Yes. The cover picture. The image I selected gives you the impression that someone is spying on the house from the outside. It’s a good image for my book. Not exactly what I wanted, but it will do.
For reference, here are some stock images sites where I might or might not sell images myself.
Getty Images
Can Stock Photo

So once you have your picture selected, what now? Well, depending on where you’re publishing your book, you can either use the website’s templates for the book cover or create your own. However, there is always a risk the picture you selected will not be compatible with the book cover design you want. That’s what happened to me with Amazon Kindle. The stock image I picked didn’t fit properly with the book design I wanted. Therefore, I had to either change the image or change the book design. I settled for the book design. And it turned out pretty good. True, the title does not appear on the front cover, but it makes it more interesting. Besides, on a bookshelf, you only see the spines of books.

Curiously enough, Barnes & Noble also has templates, and I couldn’t transfer Amazon’s one onto their platform. I had to create one using their models, and this time, I was able to put the title on the book cover. And yes, I used the same stock image. That paperback edition is still in review, and once it’s published, I’ll let you know. The only slight downside was that I had to assign it a new ISBN. No big deal.

The book design also includes the back cover, usually containing a brief author bio and book blurb. Both those items need to attract the interest of a potential reader. I am of the position that your author bio needs to include something whimsical or funny about yourself. You want your readers to be able to relate to you. As for your blurb, it needs to contain enough of your story so people would like to read it but not so much that you give anything away and still add a little mystery to the mix. It’s a delicate dance, and not all writers are good at it. I don’t think I am. But for my first time writing a book blurb, I think I did okay.

Another fun aspect of self-publishing is that different self-publishing platforms accept different formats of your manuscript. Swell, huh? Some take Word documents, others only PDF. Some insist you convert your file into an epub before submitting it. You need to make sure you have your manuscript under at least those three formats before you start hunting for a place to sell your book. It’s a lot of tedious and technical work, but you need to do it if you want your novel to appear on several book websites. And trust me, you do. The more exposure your book gets, the better. Remember the Titans? Yeah, there’s hefty competition out there.

Your Author Picture
Your photo will appear on your book’s back cover for all to see and judge unless you’re publishing under a pseudonym. Again, this is an area if you can afford the expense, hire a professional photographer. You want a clean, neat picture that says: “Why, yes, I write interesting stories, and you should read them.” Since I’m somewhat an amateur photographer, I took my picture with my old Sony camera. I added a black and white filter to give it a little panache, sophistication, augustness. Either way, I’m proud of that picture that I took against the brick wall of my parent’s balcony right next to their garbage can. Fancy, huh?

And we have come to the whale of self-publishing. The mighty beast you need to tackle and defeat to get you and your book noticed out there in the raging sea that is the world of published books. Now pay attention because this is the most critical advice I can give you about self-publishing your book. Do not go into self-publishing if you do not have a budget established for marketing because you will get crushed by the competition with deep pockets. Announcing on your social media accounts that you published a book will get you nowhere unless you have an insane following. It’s time to swim in the big pond with the big fish and market your book where the Titans do. And to do that, you will need to lay down the cash.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Where to market? Amazon Kindle has an ad campaign for authors. Barnes & Noble has partnered with BookTrib. There, you can get your book reviewed and have it appear on their social media, where they have thousands upon thousands of followers. Kobo has partnered with BookLife, where you can have your book reviewed by a Publisher’s Weekly professional reviewer. Goodreads has book giveaways that put your book front and center to their followers. The options are endless. What you need to determine is how much you’re willing to spend on them. Who knows? You might end up with a bestseller.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

To conclude, read as much as you can about self-publishing. See what worked and what didn’t work for other authors before you head out there. But most importantly, have faith in your novel and your ability as a writer. And have faith that an audience does exist for your story. If not, well, the good news is you’re a writer, and you can always write a better story.

Oh, and if you do all of this, remember, there are no guarantees that you will be a successful self-published author. There is an element of chance that enters the equation as well. I mean, I’m not. So far, I’ve only sold 13 books and five of those I bought.

Good luck out there!


Goodreads Giveaway

Are you in Goodreads? If so, I am hosting a giveaway starting today! Enter for the chance to win a paperback copy of my book, Dark Was the Night.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dark Was the Night by Tania Lorena Rivera

Dark Was the Night

by Tania Lorena Rivera

Giveaway ends October 31, 2021.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway

That’s all I got for this post. I know! The shameful self-promotion! Disgusting, right? Bear with me this month, folks. I promise that by November, I will have moved on to other subjects. American Thanksgiving at the latest. Maybe after Christmas. New Year’s Eve, tops!

Photo by Buse Doa on Pexels.com


Google Play Store Promotion

And let the self-promoting continue!

My book is now available in Google Play Store! I am hosting a promotion for all my followers starting this coming Monday, October 4th, and ending on Halloween day. You will be able to purchase my ebook via the Play Store for 50% off. Here is the link to use the promotional code:


Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.c

Why not give it away for free, Tania? Good question! And to that, I will give the same response someone gave me when I asked something for free: because I can’t live off love and freshwater!

I thought that was funny.