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Results 1 - 25 of 427
1. How to Support an Author Beyond Buying Their Book

The last book in my Taken trilogy, Forged, released last week! (Such a bittersweet moment.) I heard from lots of readers through social media, all of whom were excited to get their hands on the final installment and see how things concluded.

I am so very grateful for all the readers who pre-ordered Forged or went out and bought a copy during that first week. Pre-orders and first week sales are hugely important for authors. The pre-orders help publishers gage interest in a book and determine first print runs. Opening week sales are a continued display of reader interest and, for best-seller hopefuls, an important sales window if the book is going to hit the list.

But as many of us know, success in the publishing world is a marathon, not a sprint. While out-of-the-gate performance is important, authors’ careers are dependent upon continued sales and steady growth in readership.

So how can you support authors beyond buying their book(s)? 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and have a compiled a short list…

1. Post a review to a major retail site.
I think this is one of the best things you can do after purchasing a novel. Reviews on goodreads are great, but only the super-passionate-uber-book-fans are on goodreads. Your average online book shopper is not. By leaving a review on Amazon or B&N, you are increasing a book’s chance of being seen by others. The reasoning is two-fold: Many ‘you may also like’ algorithms consider a book’s popularity when making suggestions to consumers, therefore more reviews means more potential for exposure. Additionally, a greater number of reviews has a more positive impact on shoppers. What seems more enticing to you: the book with three reviews or the book with three-hundred?

2. Tell others about the book.
Plug the book to anyone and everyone—friends, family, your followers on social media. Word-of-mouth is huge for authors and simply talking about a title you loved can have a ripple effect. A friend picks it up because you were gushing about it. They love it and recommend it to others, and another person picks it up. And so on and so forth!

3. Gift the novel.
It’s a well-known fact that books make amazing gifts. If you think a certain title would be great for your sibling/cousin/parent/friend/etc, consider buying a copy for a birthday or an upcoming holiday. Authors are grateful for every extra sale!

4. Donate a copy to your local library.
Was the book fun, but not something you plan to read again? Head to your local library and donate your copy to their collection. Loved the book so much you can’t part with it? Considering buying a second copy specifically for your library (sort of like point #3). Either way, this ensures that new readers continue to find the title!

5. Read the book in public.
This is like the silent version of #2… If you have a physical copy, flaunt that bad boy in public spaces—the coffee shop, the park, the train ride to/from work. Book lovers are always noticing what other folks are reading, and someone might pick up a copy of the book just because they saw you enjoying it.

6. Recommend the title to booksellers and librarians (when you don’t see it on the shelves)
If you notice the book isn’t part of the collection, tell someone who works there! Simply knowing that readers are interested in a title will put that book on the bookseller’s and librarian’s radar. The store might order a few copies. The librarian might snag one next time he/she expand the collection. Shy? Put a hold on the title through your library’s catalog system. They’ll get a copy (one for their shelves or through ILL), and you won’t have to say a thing in person. ; )

Aaaand… that’s about it.

Personally, I do #s 2 and 4 a lot, and I feel like I can safely say they have an overwhelmingly positive impact! Are there any other suggestions you’d add to this list? Share ‘em in the comments, please!

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2. Monday Mishmash 4/20/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Monroe County Book Expo  Thank you to everyone who came out to the Monroe County Book Expo. I had a lot of fun talking to the readers and other authors. 
  2. Mobile Websites  I hate mobile websites, and ALWAYS opt for the web view if it's available. But…Google is changing their SEO and now you pretty much have to have a mobile website, so I made that change over the weekend.
  3. New Adult Scavenger Hunt  The New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins on April 23rd, and I'll be participating as Ashelyn Drake. I'm really excited to be part of Team Blue! I'll be sharing an exclusive scene from Looking For Love, told from a different POV, which is always fun. I'm also giving away a paperback of Campus Crush.

  4. Reviewing  I have two books I agreed to review soon. One book I'm finishing up and another I have yet to start. So it looks like I'll be busy with that this week.
  5. Revisions  I'm working on revisions for one of my manuscripts. It's always fun to pull out a book you haven't looked at in a while. It adds a fresh perspective to the story.
That's it for me. What's on your mind this week?

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3. Friday Feature: The Prophecy and The Outlanders by Erin Rhew


Today I'm featuring two books by Erin Rhew!

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.


Buy links for THE PROPHECY:  




With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.

Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.

Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.


Buy links for THE OUTLANDERS 



  


Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.   

Find me online:

Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks
           




Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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4. Monday Mishmash 4/13/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Monroe County Book Expo  I'll be at the Hughes Branch of the Eastern Monroe Public Library this Saturday from 10am-3pm selling copies of ALL my titles (both Kelly Hashway and Ashelyn Drake titles). If you're in the Stroudsburg area, please stop by to see me and a bunch of other local authors.
  2. Scholastic Book Fair  Someone help me. I'll working the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school again this week, and it's a BOGO sale! My poor wallet. I just can't help myself when it comes to buying books.
  3. New Adult Scavenger Hunt  I'll be participating in the New Adult Scavenger Hunt April 23-26 as Ashelyn Drake. I'm Team Blue! I'm promoting Looking For Love and giving away a copy of the Campus Crush paperback, which includes ALL the books in the series—yes, even Looking For Love. Find out more about the hunt here.

  4. The Monster Within in a B&N Ad?  I was on my email last Friday and this was the ad that appeared in my sidebar. That's The Monster Within! No idea how this happened, but woo hoo!!! Totally made my day. I hope others saw this ad in their email sidebars, too. I'm just going to tell myself they did. ;) 
  5. New Picture Book Released  I had a new picture book release through Guardian Angel Publishing. It's titled A Lion's Song and you can purchase a copy on Amazon or the publisher's website. Right now the paperback is available in both places, but the ebook version is currently only up on the publisher's website. Robert Lee Beers did such a great job with the illustrations. Just check out the cover: 
    Amara is the only lion who can't roar. Every time she tries, it comes out like a song.  She doesn't know what her purpose in the pride will be if she can't be ferocious. But when a Nile crocodile threatens her family, Amara's song just might save them.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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5. Writer Wednesday: Nothing Is One Size Fits All


Something I've discovered in this industry is that there is no such thing as one size fits all. What works while drafting one book, may not work for another. I've written some books completely out of order and had to piece them together. Others I've written linearly. The same goes for revision. Some books make me want to pull my hair out during revisions because I have to track so many things and keep lists to make sure there aren't inconsistencies anywhere. Other books go so smoothly during revisions that I get a little worried because I feel it should have been more difficult.

And even after the writing and revising stage, things still aren't one size fits all. What works for one author while promoting a new book may not work for another. I'm talking about the exact same efforts yielding very different results. So how do we know what to do? Honestly, I think it's all trial and error. We have to try new things and old things to see what will work for that particular book. Time consuming? Absolutely! Frustrating at times? Absolutely! Necessary? Absolutely! Well, unless you don't care if your books sell or not, but let's be honest. We ALL care. ;)

Have you ever experienced very different results from the same strategies?

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6. Monday Mishmash 4/6/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. The Darkness Within Blog Tour  Spencer Hill Press and I are looking for people to take part in the blog tour for The Darkness Within. ARCs are available for review too. Interested? Sign up here
  2. Holidays/Spring Break  I hope everyone enjoyed Easter and/or Passover, whichever you celebrate in your family. We are also on spring break here, if you can call it that since most of it was taken back to make up snow days. ;)
  3. YASH  The YA Scavenger Hunt is officially over as of yesterday. As always, it was a lot of fun. :) Congrats to all the winners!
  4. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out today. If you aren't signed up to receive it, but would like to stay up-to-date on my books and writing tips, sign up here.
  5. Perfect For You  This Friday, I'll be sharing more info about my YA contemporary romance Perfect For You. Long story short, I took my rights back from the publisher and I'm relaunching the book this month. It's now available as an ebook AND as a paperback. Yay! And it got a new cover. Check it out. If you're interested in reading the book, you can find it on Amazon or B&N.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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7. YA Scavenger Hunt


Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize—one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAMbut don't forget about all of the other teams and the chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number in gold. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD TEAM, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Today, I'm hosting Julie Cross! JULIE CROSS is the author of the international bestselling Tempest series. Julie lives in Champaign, Illinois.

Find out more information by checking out her author website or find more about Julie's book here!

Now time for some EXCLUSIVE CONTENT!

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex. While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana. But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won't let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

Spotlight Excerpt

And then I see me. The pictures Eve took and pretended to be capturing shots of the view out the window. It’s just my profile and there’s a shadow over my face so you can’t really tell it’s me. I’m also hunched over like I’ve forgotten to stand up straight. Eve catches me staring at myself. She’s now wearing jeans and the pink shirt she yanked from the closet a minute ago. She’s morphed back into College Eve. “Is it weird that I have pictures of you on my wall?”

“You can’t really tell it’s me,” I say, but it is a little surprising. Not weird, just surprising. I don’t have pictures of anyone, including myself, in my room or in my shared apartment at all. 

Eve moves beside me and taps the picture I’m looking at. “I like this one a lot. You look human.”

I laugh. “As opposed to alien?”

“As opposed to supermodel.”

“I get it. You’re against Photoshopped models and all that,” I say. It’s a tired argument—though I’d willingly have it with Eve—but it’s not like I can change the world or anything. It’s not like I have any say in what’s done to my pictures.

She pulls two rubber bands out of her long wavy hair, letting it fall loose from the tight bun. I immediately smell her shampoo. “It’s not Photoshop that makes me hate fashion pictures. I edit too. I’m just not as intrigued by images where the subject knows they’re being photographed. It’s like being on trial. You’re going to hide all your vulnerability, all the raw emotion that you get in a real image.”

“So what you’re saying is, if I were to replicate this pose…” I tap the picture in question. “But this time I knew you were taking a picture, I couldn’t make it look the same?”

She’s still staring at the image. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m too biased to answer that since I’m the one who took the photo. Maybe it would only look different to me.”

Just hearing her say that makes me realize how much of her goes into her pictures, and how little of me is actually in a photo from any professional shoot I’ve ever done.

“I think I get it.” I scan all her photos again. “If you don’t include the entire subject in the picture, then people are free to fill in their own blanks.”

I’m not even sure where that came from. It sounded like a Freudian analysis or something. The air must be different on a college campus than in the rest of New York City, and it’s gone to my head.

Eve turns her eyes from the picture and stares at me. “Maybe.”

Her proximity to me becomes the only thing my mind is able to focus on. I didn’t come on this date just so I could kiss her, and I didn’t come into her room for that reason either. Which is why I know for sure, the second her head turns and her eyes meet mine, that it’s exactly what I should do.

I only have to lean in a few inches before my mouth is on hers and her eyes are closing. And there’s nothing to look at or think about, nobody watching us or taking our picture. It’s as easy and natural as taking my next breath, and I know I’m already addicted to kissing Eve before my tongue has even moved past her lips. My hands are going to insist on living in her hair forever, even if it’s really hard to walk around anywhere. And I’m pretty sure my heart is going to beat at this much faster pace for good.

I should have done this five days ago. And every day since.


And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Kelly Hashway, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD TEAM and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, LAURISA WHITE REYES!

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8. Writer Wednesday: Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon

Lately I've been wondering what drives people to Barnes and Noble as opposed to Amazon or vice versa. They both have books in paperback and ebook formats, so what prompts someone to pick one over the other?

I'm an Amazon girl, but oddly enough I used to purchase all my books through Barnes and Noble. I don't know why I changed. It sort of happened one day without me knowing it. But let me share something with you from an author's perspective—something that has me admittedly perplexed.

I released an Ashelyn Drake title (Looking For Love) this month. It's a new adult romance, and I mention the genre for a reason. I've heard (not that I know if this is true or not) that romance sells better on B&N than Amazon. Well, for this book, that's true. My B&N ranking continues to get better every day, while my Amazon ranking is going in the opposite direction. Checking my sales numbers, I see a drastic different between the two sites. Now here's why I'm baffled. I don't use the B&N link to promote. I always use the Amazon link. Sure I have the B&N link on my website, but I don't actively promote it.

That's not the only reason I'm confused. You see the other Campus Crush novellas, before they were packaged as one book—Campus Crush, all sold better on Amazon. Hmm… So what is making this book different? I have a clue!

So I'm asking you all, which site do you gravitate toward—Amazon or B&N—and why?

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9. What Are We Really Promoting?

This week I'm starting a new schedule that involves doing promotion/marketing on Mondays. So it's appropriate, I think, to talk today about this terrific promotional article, What It Costs to DIY A First Book Tour. In it, author Katey Schultz discusses her year-long promotional tour for her book, Flashes of War, which was published by a small university press.

Interesting points:

  • Schultz spent $12,000 on her tour, split pretty evenly between hiring a publicist and tour manager and travel expenses. It was money she'd inherited or saved, not borrowed. She wouldn't go into debt for the book. This caught my attention because several years ago I attended a NESCBWI event at which a colleague said she didn't want her family to lose money on her writing. Something writers need to consider--writing can cost you money.
  • Five thousand books is too large a goal for a year. Schulz had to lower her expectations and spread that goal over three years. She's been told that the 1,500 books she believes she's sold over one year is a good number. Good numbers are still small numbers.
  • Some booksellers were not very supportive. I don't know if her experience is common. I can't help thinking, though, that within writers' circles there's so much commitment to booksellers. So...
  • Schultz hasn't made back her financial investment, but feels the work she's done has been good for her career overall, preparing the way for the promotion of a second book. And that's often how things work with writing. You have to think in terms of the career, not any one particular book.
We're always promoting ourselves.


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10. Monday Mishmash 3/9/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  I'm still booked with edits. I've been a busy editor this year.
  2. Taxes  My taxes are finished! Yay! I hate sitting through having them done, so I'm glad this is over for the year.
  3. Looking For Love Blog Tour  This weekend I finished my posts for the Looking For Love blog tour. I can't believe this book is releasing in 8 days!
  4. Good New I Can't Share Yet  I know that's cruel, but I have good news. No, it's not a book deal. This is different, but I'm equally excited about it. I'll share as soon as I can.
  5. The Darkness Within Trailer  Last Friday, Spencer Hill Press released my new trailer for The Darkness Within. Here it is if you missed it:
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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11. Writer Wednesday: Setting Up Author Events

Today's post topic came from Katie Clark, who posted this on last week's Monday Mishmash:

Can you do a post talking about how you go about arranging those author events? Do you do the legwork, or is it done for you? What goes into it? What kind of relationships do you develop beforehand, or do you cold contact stores? How do you find out about the local events and festivals where you set up a booth?

Okay, there are quite a few things you can do to set up author events. First, make sure you get your press release into papers. I get requests for school visits because teachers see my press releases in the newspaper and contact me. However, there is nothing wrong with contacting the librarian at a school and letting him/her know you are an author and you're available to come speak to the students. I also let them know that I don't charge for visits to local schools. It's hard for schools to turn down a free opportunity like this.

As for local festivals or events where I can have a booth, I search the library website as well as the local paper. Once you get on a list, the organizers contact you the following year to return. So really the legwork is only necessary for that initial foot in the door. Also, local organizations attend each other's events. I've booked other events through them. For instance, I do a local book expo every year at the library. At that event, I met the state representative, who asked me to attend a local event she runs every year. Now I have two local events that I participate in each year. Not bad.

As for bookstores, I personally go into the bookstores with my information in hand. You need to speak with a manager, who will most likely look up your book immediately to see if it's in the system and can be ordered. From there, setting up the signing is easy, and the store usually works with you to promote the event, which is great. I've also found that teaming up with other authors can get you in more stores. That's how my book tour this fall was set up. I contacted stores in my area, and the other authors contacted stores in their areas. Before we knew it, we'd booked several signings. 

So that's my answer, Katie. I do a lot of legwork, but it's time well spent.

Does anyone else have a question they'd like me to answer in a Writer Wednesday post? If so, leave your question in the comments and I'll get your answer scheduled.

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12. Some Serious Book Product Placement

Anyone watch Scorpion on CBS Monday night? The Christmas episode where everyone starts feelin' the season when a child is trapped in a cave with the water rising? In the course of the show, Katharine McPhee's character (I don't remember her name, we always call her Katharine McPhee) says that her son only wants one thing for Christmas, something called I Want an Alien for Christmas. Later in the episode, he gets it! And it's a book!

Well, I was on-line by the time the closing credits were running. I Want an Alien for Christmas appears to be a self-published book available on Kindle and Smashwords. Except for those two sales pages and its placement in Monday's episode of Scorpion, there doesn't appear to be any marketing for it.

What's particularly interesting about this situation, assuming this book turning up in an episode of a nationally broadcast television show is interesting enough for you, is that the author, Nick Santora, is also the creator of Scorpion. He's written for other TV shows and has written another book.

You'd think that a couple of mentions in a network primetime show would create some buzz. But two days later, I'm still seeing next to nothing about I Want an Alien for Christmas on-line. The book is mentioned in a Forbes piece, but that's from back in September.

Marketing is a mystery.

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13. Monday Mishmash 12/29/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  I'm editing for clients again this week. The book I'm editing now is seriously hot. I may have blushed a few times. ;)
  2. Goals for 2015  I'm thinking about my goals for next year and how to make sure it will be a better year for me.
  3. House Construction  We are almost finished. I mean really close! The bedrooms are being carpeted today, and then we can start moving furniture upstairs. We are still waiting on the railing for the stairs, but we need to get the furniture upstairs first.
  4. Holidays  We had a great Christmas. My daughter got the Monster High Catacombs from Santa, which was the top item on her wish list so she's a happy camper. I'm not thrilled that it's 4 feet tall, but she loves it. :)
  5. Changes to FB  As you've probably heard, FB is no longer allowing promotional posts. That means I can't share all my book info with you on my FB page anymore. So if you want to stay up-to-date on my book releases, sales, etc., here are some ways you can:

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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14. Caution: Witch in Progress 2014 Award Winner!

Caution: Witch in Progress, The Book Awards runner-up for printed book of the year and gaining highest number of votes for a fiction title 2014!

2014PrintRunner-Up

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15. Monday Mishmash 1/19/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Another Campus Crush  So last week I mentioned that fans asked for another Campus Crush story for Mike since he didn't get his HEA. I thought I was going to write a novel for him, but this series insists that it's made up of novellas, and that's what his story has turned into. More details to come.
  2. Friday Feature  I have some Friday Feature spots available this month and next (and beyond, actually) so if you have a new release or upcoming release and would like to be featured email me khashway(at)hotmail(dot)com.
  3. Spotlight and Giveaway  The very sweet and awesome Megan McDade is hosting me on her blog this month and in addition to interviews and guest posts, there's a giveaway (winner's choice of a paperback of Touch of Death or The Monster Within). Check it out here.
  4. Winter Ball  My daughter attended her first school dance last Friday. It was three hours of me sitting on a hard cafeteria stool, but seeing her dance and run around with her friends made it worth it. She's only in second grade, so seeing how outgoing she is really makes me happy. That girl is not afraid to be who she is. :) I'm a proud mom.
  5. Winter Blues  Anyone else have the winter blues? Some of my 2014-year-of-ickiness has carried over and I'm hoping to be finished with it by the end of the month so I can get back to life as usual. And I could really use some sunshine and warmer weather if anyone can make that happen. ;)
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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16. Writer Wednesday: Writing Vs. Social Media

We all know that part of what we do as writers is interact on social media. We need to be available to our readers so they are aware of when our next book comes out or when we get a new contract and of course so they can get to know us as people and readers, too. I'm going to admit that lately, I've been so busy that I haven't been online much.

Yup. I've been a bad social media author. Here's why. Over the past month, my husband and daughter have been home a lot. A lot. I've always tried to balance my writing life and my personal life. So when my family is home, I like to spend time with them. Nothing unusual there, right? Right. So that means my time to actually work is cut down significantly. And that leads to me deciding what's more important—writing or being on social media.

I chose writing. I worked on a new novella and I revised two books. That's not to mention editing for my clients, too. So you see, something had to give. For me that something was social media, and I'm hoping you'll all forgive me for being quiet online. I'm hoping the promise of more books from me will make up for it.

Do you ever go social media quiet? Do you find you lose followers, or are they forgiving?

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17. Sub It Club Interview with Roberta Baird

sic-badge-square1Sub It Club is a blog/community that supports writers and illustrators to get their work “out there”. Whether you create illustrations or are a writer of kidlit, adult novels, non-fiction, screenplays, or poetry, Sub It Club provides the knowledge and inspiration to keep going strong.

In my interview, I get to talk a little about the process of creating a promotional postcard. If you’re interested, here’s the link!  https://subitclub.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/the-postcard-post-roberta-baird/

post card

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18. Monday Mishmash 2/2/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  I'm booked with edits again this month. The end of 2014 must have been very busy for a lot of writers because I'm editing book after book. :)
  2. Scholastic Book Fair  It's still going on thanks to all the snow days last week. I was a little sad because books I was looking forward to weren't there. My daughter's school only goes to fifth grade so some of the MG books weren't at our fair. :(
  3. Making Book Trailers  I'm working on the trailer for The Darkness Within. This one is proving to be tough! Wish me luck, please.
  4. Busy Month  With Looking For Love (Ashelyn Drake NA romance title) releasing March 17th, I'm busy getting everything ready. Look for a cover reveal on February 13th.
  5. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out today. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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19. Writer Wednesday: How to Use a Book Trailer


Today's topic came by request from Kai Strand. Kai wanted to know how to use a book trailer for marketing. Now this is just my opinion, but here's how I think you can use a trailer.
  • Host a trailer reveal  Get some bloggers on board to post your trailer on a specific day or week. This will drum up additional interest in your book and get the word out there between the cover reveal and release day.
  • Start a YouTube Channel  Tons of people are on YouTube, and trailers give you material to post to your channel. Why not be a part of this huge platform?
  • Post your trailer to your website, blog, Amazon author page, etc.  Just about every social media outlet online has a place to upload videos, so go nuts! Get that video up everywhere! Plus if you post to FB or Twitter, others can share your video, too.
  • Post a link or embed the video in your author newsletter  Newsletter subscribers love to get sneak peeks at what you're doing, so reward them with an exclusive first look at your trailer.
Now, do I think book trailers help sales? Not really. But they are fun to make, and they are another way to spread the word about your book, so why not utilize this method of getting your book out there?

Have any other ideas for how you can use a book trailer? Please share in the comments.

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20. A Writer Gets All Techie About Her Website

This weekend we relaunched my website after some work that I originally thought would "just" be cosmetic. Cosmetic. That's tweaking, right? How long can that take? Well, it took about two-and-a-half weeks, though we're not talking two-and-a-half weeks of eight-hour days. My computer guy ended up using a lot of his snowdays on this project.

Many of the issues we ended up dealing with in this revamp are the same kinds of things we'd be considering if we were starting a website from scratch. So if you're thinking of getting started with a site or you've been wondering if it's time to do some touch-up work, yourself, you may be interested in what we've been doing these last few weeks.

What Got Me Started


My website is quite old, going back to 1998. We've made many changes since then, of course. Recently, though, I'd been feeling that my site was very white. That's not ethnic commentary. My website was very white meaning that its pages seemed to spread across computer screens, which are now often quite wide, in an unattractive manner. But what to do about it?

Last month I happened to read some articles in More on personal branding. The two issues I was particularly interested in:
  • Using color to help brand. Color has attributes it communicates when it comes to branding. Yellow is supposed to communicate creativity and intellect, as well as energy. I most definitely am not a pastel person. Any pastel. But I thought I might like some kind of gold in my website, maybe an autumn-type color. Yellowish.
  • Finding ways to unify your brand message across your social media platforms so readers/viewers begin to recognize you, wherever you are. Color can be a unifying element. 

 

What We Did And Why It Took So Long


Originally, all I wanted to do was create a colored border around the pages of my website. Because I was interested in gold, which is similar to the theme of this Blogger blog, we would immediately be providing some unity between these two platforms. But once we placed the gold color around each page, the color we'd been using for the hyperlinks clashed. All the color on all the links had to be changed. (By  the way, we changed the theme on my Twitter page to conform with the color of my website's hyperlinks, thus creating some uniformity with that platform ,too.) Then Computer Guy started really getting into this and gave the space behind the text a little hue-like color, so we really were rid of the white. This was also more in keeping with the blog's appearance.

All this had to be done to every single page in the site. In case you weren't aware, I have a very big website. It's deep, meaning it's multi-leveled. A link from the homepage leads to another page and there are links there that lead to still more.

While we were touching everything, anyway, we were careful to bring any outdated material up to 2015.

And, Then, Fonts


Things were looking better, but now I wasn't happy with the font. Fonts, it turns out, have attributes, just as colors do.

Serif fonts, for instance, are associated with artistic, intellectual, and warm attributes. Sans serif fonts  are considered technical looking. Computer Guy loves sans serif fonts, which are very straight and have little embellishment. I, however, have always been a Times New Roman woman because it looks like the text in a book. TNR is a serif font. Serifs have little extra bits at the end of letters and, like TNR, look like what we'd expect to see in books and other publications.We decided to go with a serif font for the text, which would require more reading, and a crisp sans serif font for headings.

Sounds as if we're done with fonts, right? No! Why not? Because a certain number of fonts are preloaded onto every computer making that computer capable of rendering text accessed from the Internet onto its screen. There are fonts that are commonly used. If I were to choose an uncommon serif font for my website, one that many computers couldn't render, they would have to use a fallback font that may or may not look the way I planned it to. Thus, I needed to choose common fonts.

Some Things We Didn't Change

 

Believe it or not, I have some very specific views on websites. These views are related to communicating messages and making communication easier for people receiving my messages.
  1. My homepage, my users' first stop when they come to my website, includes real content. I want my users to get something immediately for having made the effort to come to www.gailgauthier.com. I don't want them to have to click again to "enter website." I don't want them to be faced with just a menu.
  2. I'm not into bells and whistles. Things that move and pop are slow to load. I value my users' time. As a user, myself, I sometimes leave sites while I'm waiting for gimmicks to load.
  3. I avoid distracting clutter. I want to make the reading experience on my pages comfortable.
  4. I try to keep content short. I believe the reading experience on the Internet is supposed to be different from other kinds of reading experiences. Is is supposed to be fast. That is not a bad thing. We can read long in other places. That's true of blog posts, too, by the way. If I can't keep a blog post short, I use sub-headings, the way I am today, so users can pick and choose what they want to focus upon.

In Conclusion


This was a fun thing I hope we don't have to do again for a while. "A while" meaning "years."


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21. What Would Garrison Griswold Do?

BookScavenger3d(This post is cross-posted from EMU's Debuts)

I've been in the midst of making promotional plans for Book Scavenger. I've sought out advice from other authors on what they recommend and don't recommend for your debut book, and the only bit of advice that everyone seems to agree on is this: The best thing you can do to promote your first book is write your next book.

Okay, cool, I'm doing that! I have two more books scheduled to come out in 2016 and 2017, and I'm currently working on both simultaneously. One is in the outline/first draft stage, and the other is nearing the end of its second revision. (I feel like those last two sentences make me sound very organized in my writing process. I am not. I wrote "working on two books simultaneously" but really it feels more like spinning in circles while juggling cats.)

But still, even if everyone agrees the best thing you can do is write the next book, I can't do nothing for my debut. If for no other reason than I'm excited about it! I want people to hear about it. So many people have had a hand in shaping the book--early readers and critique partners, teachers, my agent, my editor, the art director, production editor, copyeditor . . . And the illustrations! Sarah Watt's work is so freakin' cool and takes the book to a whole other level. The book that will be in bookstores and libraries has been a team effort, and I'm proud of it. Even if readers hate it, I want Book Scavenger to have a fighting chance of surviving in the retail world, and that won't happen if readers don't hear about it in the first place.

So I wanted to do something fun to celebrate Book Scavenger and spread the word about its existence. What to do, what to do? That's where Garrison Griswold comes in.

Illustration by Sarah Watts
Garrison Griswold is a central character in Book Scavenger. He's this larger than life, eccentric book publisher who's a huge game and puzzle fanatic. He thrives on thinking up elaborate games and making them happen--something that has earned him the reputation of being "the Willy Wonka of book publishing." A reputation, by the way, that he loves to play up. Book Scavenger is one of his game creations. It's a website and a real world book hunting game where players hide used books in public places and then upload clues to the website for other book scavengers to solve in order to seek out the books. (Kind of a mashup of Book CrossingGeocaching, and Little Free Libraries, with a dash of influence from video games I played as a kid.)

I wanted to do something in the spirit of Garrison Griswold, but I couldn't go all out Garrison Griswold because that guy has resources that I do not. (He rented out the San Francisco Giants stadium in order to break the Guinness World Record for largest group Bingo game, for example. I can't do that.)

But I did come up with something that's big, by my standards at least, and fortunately my publisher was on board. I hope it will be fun and will make Mr. Griswold proud. I'll be putting this plan into action on Wednesday and will update here with the info, but for now here's a teaser video (which offers a clue--something I know Mr. G would approve of):



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22. A Book Marketing Truth Few Experts Will Admit

Book marketing is tough, especially when it comes to self-publishing. The good news is there is no shortage of experts, books and websites out there to advise authors on how to market. The bad news is that while some offer content brimming with strong, helpful advice, others impart ‘wisdom’ that belongs in a primer on what NOT to do. It takes time and the willingness to work hard to sort good ideas from bad and come up with a plan that is best for you.

But here’s a cold, unpopular truth about book marketing: you can do everything experts say to do, and still feel you are not getting a good ROI (Return on Investment).

There are a number of reasons for this. Here are some of the biggies:

Unrealistic expectations.

bookstoreIt’s human nature to look around and compare one’s book to that of a similar one and weigh the success of each, but the reality is this is an unfair comparison. Every book is different, so how readers connect with the characters and story of each will also vary. And readers aside, each author will have a unique platform and marketing focus. So while outwardly two books rest in the same apple cart, they might not belong together, and authors should not expect them to perform the same.

(image: Geralt @ pixabay)

Industry and market shifts.

amazonNot only do readers’ tastes change as trends reach a saturation point (people grow tired of reading about X so change to Y), so does the online retail market. Going exclusive with Amazon used to be a golden ticket, but now? Not so much. Same thing with the power of free. In the early days, free was the fast track to downloads, exposure and shooting up Amazon lists. But technology is fickle. Algorithms shift. Subscription services enter the picture. And BAM, just like that, the playing field changes…what used to work no longer does, or the value of marketing a certain way lessens. So depending on when you release a book and what is happening in the online marketplace at that time can affect your ability to reach those big sale goals.

(image: Roadrunner @ pixabay)

 Luck.

Anyone who says luck has had nothing to do with their success is either lying or naive. Luck is ALWAYS a factor – the right book, the right time, the author connecting with the right influencers to help boost their reach, and finally, being discovered by readers who will become super fans…this all requires an element of luck. Sometimes, people just can’t catch a break. But, that said, authors make their own luck by putting themselves out there. If you want to hear a knock at the door, you have to be close by.

Playing the game, but not getting why.

social mediaI know many writers who “do everything right” by pricing appropriately, paying for a professional cover, designing a website, blogging, getting on social media, running visibility events, book signings, speaking engagements…and they still don’t feel it’s working. A person can do every strategic thing right and still fail if they don’t understand and respect that their number one goal should be to connect genuinely with readers. Readers aren’t dollar signs, or Facebook likes, or book reviews…they’re people. It means treating them like people, caring about them like people, and enjoying that relationship without strings. It is about providing them with value when we can, and entertainment, a listening ear or whatever else is within our ability to give.

Being on social media is not the same as “getting” social media. Tweeting and blogging and posting to Facebook in ways that are strategic, not social, means one is not using the platform as it is meant to be used. And if you don’t come across as genuine and interested, if it feels like a job to tweet and share…people sense it. They will (maybe) friend you and (maybe) retweet because it is the polite thing to do, but the depth of the relationship will only ever go so far. They won’t really care about what’s happening with you. That level of connection won’t be there.

(image: Nominalize @ pixabay)

Marketing to the wrong audience, or focusing on only a niche.

AudienceIf you are marketing your heart out trying to connect with people who love and need hammers by hanging out with golf enthusiasts, your efforts won’t yield much. Understanding who your exact audience is and what they need and want is key to improving your chances for success when it comes to finding readers. Think beyond genre. And in the same wheelhouse, if you are targeting the right audience, don’t focus on too small a group. A typical way authors do this is by concentrating marketing on other authors who write in the same genre. Yes, writers are readers, but at best, this is settling for a tiny slice of pie when the whole pie is available. At worst, you are damaging relationships with your fellow writers who may feel put off when you promote at them.

(image: openclips @ Pixabay)

A sub par book.

Simply stated, a lot of books are published that aren’t at the caliber they need to be to do well. Learning strong writing craft takes a lot of time and dedication. Some writers understand this and by applying savvy marketing to their quality book, they knock it out of the park. But with the ease of self-publishing comes a subset of writers who are hoping a quick upload to Amazon is their shortcut to success. Or they think quantity wins out over quality, and seek to get out as much product as possible to have a larger revenue funnel. But, if one is more focused on quantity than making each book better than the last, the saturated market offers a sobering reality: unless there is something special about a book, it generally doesn’t gain a foothold that lasts. There are just too many other good books to read.

 So, does this mean we should all give up? That the cards are stacked against us? Not at all!

I’m no expert and have plenty to still learn. But I’ve picked up a thing or two, so here’s a few sound bites:

senses 1) Write a book so good it fills you with pride. Never stop learning your craft. Always strive to do better with each new book.

2) Be genuine. Talk to people, start conversations. Build relationships and be present. This takes time and energy, but it’s worth it.

3) Only do what feels right via social networks. If you hate twitter, don’t use it. Remember to be social. Provide value in some way and be part of the community.

(image: john hain @ pixabay)

4) Figure out who your audience is, and find them online. Don’t just focus on other writers…unless that is your exact audience.

5) Learn to love what you do…not just the writing part, but the connecting with people part. Yes, even you introverts! The more you do it, the easier it gets, I promise. And when you connect with people, you find friends, supporters, and influencers, making your own luck!

6) Understand your personal strengths and what you have to offer, then offer it the best you can. Are you funny? Let it out. Have a knack for finding interesting content your audience will like? Share it! Be yourself, and be awesome.

7) Talk to other people about marketing. Ask for help. Offer help in return. Collaborate. We’re all in this together.

8) Try new things, take risks. Look at other industries and how they connect with their audiences. Don’t fear mistakes because they are simply opportunities to learn. Not everything will work and that’s okay.

caring9) Make it about your audience, not you. Put yourself in their shoes…shoes that are probably overworked, stressed, underpaid and over-promoted to. Do they need more spaghetti promotion thrown at them? Probably not. So how can you use social media to make a positive difference in their day to day lives? How can you provide content that entertains, supports or adds value? How can you make them feel valued?

(image: PublicDomainPictures @ pixabay)

10) When you give freely, it comes back to you. As self-publishers we have many hats to wear, and only so much time, which is why some authors struggle with the idea of doing something so labor intensive as “building relationships.” But taking the time is well spent, because when you form real connections with people and care about then, they care about you in return, and about your books and your success. Many end up helping in little ways, including telling others about your books. Word of Mouth is the most valuable marketing currency there is.

 Have any tips to share? Please leave them in the comments.

The post A Book Marketing Truth Few Experts Will Admit appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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23. Monday Mishmash 3/2/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Migraines  Last week I had two awful headaches. One was a migraine that left me unable to do anything and up all night sick from the pain. I'm hoping this week passes without any headaches, because I have work to do.
  2. Editing  More edits on my plate this week. :)
  3. Taxes  My tax forms took a long time getting to me this year. I'm usually finished with this process by now. I need to schedule an appointment soon.
  4. FREE Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out this evening. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here.
  5. Thunderclap  I still need help reaching my goal off 100 supporters for my Thunderclap campaign for Looking For Love. Click "Join this Thunderclap" on the image below and sign up to allow Thunderclap to post this message for you. Once you're signed up, you don't have to do anything else. It's that simple. I hope you'll consider signing up. If I'm short of my goal, the campaign won't post. :( 

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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24. Writer Wednesday: Wattpad

2015 is the year of branching out for me. I'm trying new ways to reach readers. My latest venture is with Wattpad. I wasn't very familiar with this platform, but I know a lot of readers are there grabbing free samples of books. So I thought why not?

I joined and got permission from the very awesome people at Spencer Hill Press to upload my two FREE Touch of Death series companions, which are also available on the SHP website. 

The first is Curse of Death, which is the myth behind the series. It shows why I love Medusa and feel she was wrongfully cursed. 
The second is Kiss of Death, which is a prequel novella told from Alex's POV, because I just love Alex and his story needed to be told pre-Jodi.

So what does this mean? I'm not entirely sure yet, but I'm hoping to reach new readers and introduce them to my work. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Wattpad here and to read my free stories.

Are you on Wattpad? Feel free to leave your link in the comments so I can follow you. If you aren't, what do you think of a site that allows you to sample an author's work?

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25. NESCBWI: Marketing Your Brand

Oh, Look! Suddenly I Can Add Captions!
Yesterday I attended a New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' program, Marketing Your Brand. Jen Malone was the program leader.

Now Jen's first book, At Your Service,  was published just last year, though she has several others under contract and coming out soon. What she brings to the table when it comes to marketing is that she is the former New England Head of Publicity and Promotions for 20th Century Fox and Miramax Films and has sixteen years of experience teaching film marketing at Boston University. 

This was a very good program. I try not to go into too much detail regarding events like this, because the content is the presenter's. But I feel comfortable discussing workload and blogging.

Workload

 

You cannot exaggerate how hard many children's and YA authors are working at promoting, the time they are spending going to events, planning presentations, traveling, contacting people, all on their own dime. They may hold jobs of one kind or another and have families. It is just huge. And then they need to be writing their next books.

 

Sigh. I happened to be reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki today. Suzuki says, "The driver knows how much load the ox can carry, and he keeps the ox from being overloaded. You know your way and your state of mind. Do not carry too much!" It seemed appropriate.

Blogging

 

The feeling among the people in attendance yesterday was that blogging is a bit yesterday as far as "Authors must blog!" is concerned.  Some authors in that room were vocal about disliking blogging. What does that mean for long-time writer/bloggers like myself?

I'm thinkin' good news.

The Internet began to buckle under the weight of all the blogs that were created by writers from, say, 2006/7 to date. The pool of blog readers couldn't absorb them all, so many of us saw our readership drop and drop. If writers no longer feel compelled to blog, that could mean more readers for the rest of us.

That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

The caption under the picture of Jen Malone? The capacity to caption appeared out of the blue. Computer Guy is mystified.

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