Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Do You Know That You’re Spamming?

The first thing we’ve been told about marketing is to… TELL EVERYONE! And, authors think that’s exactly what they need to do on the internet so that people will know they exist and for people to buy their book. However, think about how much of what you are doing is actually marketing? Are you going everywhere and only speaking about YOUR NOVEL and not participating in the conversation?

BUY MY BOOK!

That’s what you’re screaming every time you mention your book on Facebook, Twitter, Forums, and all other social internet places. Unless someone has specifically asked about wanting to know about your novel via email subscriptions, one really should be careful on how often you mention your novel.

One should be tactful on how and when to mention one’s novel.

Give to receive.

That old saying ALWAYS works. If you become one of the many other voices ASKING for something and not GIVING in return, then your voice will be on bitter, as well as, deaf ears. Don’t be a Bug-A-Boo.

Remember that the virtual world is full. There are many voices all wanting something from someone. Try not to be one of those voices and you will stick out amongst the sea. Use your other talents to find eyes to your work: your humor, your intellect, your creativity, your ideas, your words, your purpose. And they will come.

But always remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient and keep writing.


Until Next Time!

I just want to write, Darn IT!

I’m so constantly trying to keep up with my weekly blogs (though I now have plenty of time to finish up some novels too while out on medical leave), that I figured I’d take a peek into Wattpad and Scribd. These are also places to promote your free writing. And it’s actually a fun place to be if you’re that type of author who just want to … WRITE STORIES!

Yeah.

How many times do you want to do just that–just write. Authors don’t want to market. Authors don’t want to sell. Authors don’t want to do the network socializing thing. Authors don’t want to market. Did I say that already? Yeah. Authors want to write, darn it! That’s what authors do. And if you’re determined to do just that after getting your book uploaded and your wonderful cover drawn, then you might want to look into marketing in a way that still have your creative juices flowing, and increase your fan base.

Wattpad and Scribd

These two places are THE perfect places to do just what an author want to do. Just write your dreams, your muse’s inspirations, you heart desires, your funny witticisms. Write it all out there. It’s a GREAT alternative to those who just don’t want to blog or Twitter or LinkedIn or Google+ or do the Facebook Page thingy. The reminded me of, Waaaayyyy back in the day (around 2000/2001) when there was a site called Themestream.com. It was a place where authors got paid by how many readers read their material. It was little pennies, but if you got a lot of views, you were able to make some decent money. Unfortunately, it went under, and a lot of writers were really upset about it, not because of the loss of money, but because it had a community that was unique and wonderful for writers to engage in. I think Wattpad and Scribd is creating that environment once again.

Wattpad is a place where a writer can share stories on the web and across mobile devices. You upload your stories in sections. Even short stories are uploaded in sections because the audience is mainly reading these stories from their cellular phones, and reading in parts is much more easier on a little screen.

Scribd is like a huge book club, somewhat like Goodreads, LibraryThing and Shelfari, accept what you read is actually on the site. It’s received a lot of bad publicity on the internet by authors who said this sight had their works, and was sharing them, without permission, but I believe the site has focused on that area and corrected it for the most part. It’s still a place where millions go to read. If you’ve already logged in with your Facebook account, please note that Scribd will automatically set you up an account based on your Facebook account.

So, those are two places an author could look into and keep writing and gain fans. I think they’re great possibility areas where authors can share their craft. As for me, I know I said I will be looking into these two things, but I just took a quick glance, and I’m currently really need to focus on getting more novels on my virtual book shelf. If I didn’t have my job and had more time to write, these are places I would seek out.

What do you all think? Are there any other areas where writers could just write to gain a fanbase? What have your experiences been on Wattpad and/or Scribd? Does anybody out there still even remember Themestream? LOL!



Free Promotions: Smashwords

Smashwords had a coupon promotion last week were the publisher could offer a discount on their novels anywhere from 25% to 100% making the novel Free! It was from March 4 – 10, 2012.

I jumped on it!

And it was fun watching to see how many novels were going to be “purchased” with the coupons. I set my novel coupons to FREE, of course, except The Made, which I put at a discount. No buys on my discounted book. I then went against my first idea of never making my babe, my very first novel (and very long one at that), free. I made it free the last few hours of the promotion, thinking no one would really see it. I got two (2) buys. It made me smile. Cool!

Overall, I only “sold” a total of 67 books, which had a surprising realization.

Most of the books that were snatched up was my novel, The 9th Symbol. What’s so surprising about that, you ask? Well, it made me look at the purchases for the other two books: Irid and Ruby, Flesh and Heart. Those two books were downloaded previously over a thousand times, during the time that they were set free by me at one time or another months and months ago. So, it appeared to look like that the same people who had those novels were just waiting for when I set my latest novel, The 9th Symbol, free so they could get it.

In a way, that was pretty neat to know. In another way, it let me know that the Smashwords audience might just be there mostly for the coupons and promotions. However, if they really want to buy a novel, I guess they could do that too.

Interesting.

I mean, I may be completely wrong, because, grant it, it’s just li’l ole me and I can’t account for all of the novels out there, but it did make me go… Hmmmmm.

Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that they would tell their friends about my novels. And THAT is what I want. I actually got a review on Goodreads from someone who got my novel free on Smashwords.

And she liked it!! She really liked it!! (Okay. Yeah. A pun from Sally Fields Oscar Award speech)

Just the fact that someone took the time to write a review says something. No. It says EVERYTHING!

So, bottom line, the free thing does help promote. I don’t expect much from my Smashwords promotion week with only 67 books taken up, but I’ll keep doing it whenever there’s a promotional time to do it.

Because….

You just don’t know WHAT might happen. DO EVERYTHING!

Until Next time 🙂

Take A Break

After getting that book novel completed, we research about how to find readers. Then we get into marketing and using the social network. Sometimes, we get hung up and forget the small, itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny thing that … we are writers.

Take a break.

And then go back into writing.

That’s what I’m doing now, but unfortunately for me, it’s a “forced” break meaning recovery time from surgery. This also means, once I can get up to more physical strength, I’ll be getting…MORE WRITING TIME!

I’m expecting to get a lot more writing in, more than normal, since my mental state won’t be, and now isn’t, bogged down with my mental stress of my day job. I’m already feeling the relief of not having to get up at a certain time and having to do that 45 min to 1 hr commute. And then there’s the mental stress of programming, troubleshooting, customer service and the basic IT stuff that goes on every day. That mental stress is ALL GONE.

I read a post at The Writer’s Guide To ePublishing, and it was entertaining regarding the definition the author came up with for those who promote, promote, promote. She called them: Promobots. Prombot. It was pretty funny, and it’s funny because it hurts with truth. We become robots to this marketing and forget all the joy and fun of the creativity. That’s why some authors still choose to go the trade route path instead of self-publishing because they think they don’t have to do anything else but write (which I hear is wrong, but I don’t know. I’ve never been trade published before).

So, it’s Break Time.

It’s good to step away and then you get a better prospective of things. It makes things fresh and new again.

And fresh and new is ALWAYS exciting. Get back into that adventure.

Until Next Time!

Novel Marketing BIG Advice

Some days ago, I read a posting on the cheerleader and voice of self-publishing, that REALLY opened my eyes about trying to market my novels. The things he had stated was a whisper of something I’ve heard before

Author are always given advice to talk about what they like to do, and what their thoughts are, to socialize and: blog about your ideas, Tweet about them, Facebook about them, and Forum about them…and They Will Come. The Readers, that is.

But according to J.A. Konrath’s posting (The Value of Publicity), that’s not what works and that’s not what is selling his novels.

Huh?

I heard a few other authors mentioned that they don’t do a thing with online socializing, and just write, and somehow readers find them.

Huh?

“Less Tweeting, more writing,” J.A. Konrath states. With that he emphasizes the basic facts that he’s always state, which is to supply more virtual items for your personal book store. Basically stating that you don’t want to walk into a store that only has ONE item on the shelf. You want to walk into a store with multiple choices. With the pure vastness of the novels you write, and with a good story and great cover, someone will read you and the word would spread.

Wow. More writing, huh?

I do have to admit that I’ve been sidetracked. I’ve been so busy managing my blog-sites and trying to make improvements and coming up with ideas and participating in forums that I haven’t really written anything more on my novels since NaNoWriMo.

Huh. Well. Let’s try it. You know my Motto.

DO EVERYTHING

Time to re-focus.

Time to write.

Until Next Time 🙂

Tools for Self-Publishing

WritingTools
I wanted to post, and also make a page, of actual tools that writers can use for self-publishding. I love lists because lists are easier to use and has step-by-steps to follow, instead of fishing through a lot of blog posts.

NOTE: The majority of the software below can be downloaded all at once at Ninite.com

NOTE of NOTE: After reading the list below and you’re still needing help, check out my Tools Page. It has step-by-step videos on formatting your novels for printers, Smashwords and Kindle.

1) A writing software

– I’ve used Microsoft Word because that is what majority of people use and that’s what came with the laptop. But you can also use Open Office (free tool) for those who can’t stand Microsoft or don’t have the money for it. My current and most favorite tool now is yWriter (another free tool). yWriter helps me jump around from scene to scene; keeps track of: locations, items and characters (with character descriptions); and I can find almost anything, anywhere, so much more easier. It’s a great thing! I have tips on how to get your MSWord document ready before importing into this software. It’s long, but it’s well worth it. Though the software is free, I donated because it was THAT useful to me.

2) A PDF converting software

– Adobe Professional is what I use, but you can get a cheaper version (a poster told me about) that’s hundreds of dollars cheaper called Serif Page Plus X5. Either way, they both are learning curves, meaning you do have to learn the software to know what you have to do…which is basically for all softwares. Want something FREE! Try DoPdf. You can size the pdf to the specific print size of 6×9 (which I couldn’t figure out how to do in CutePDF) and embed fonts. It won’t work for Lightning Source, since they have specific PDF requirements dealing with PDF/X-1a:2001, but you can try it with CreateSpace printer. I looked into PDF995 (also free), but it had like four (4) separate parts and I couldn’t easily just “click a button” to get it working. I’m sure there’s someway to get it to work, but I just couldn’t figure it out. DoPdf was easy and quick. And I’ve heard Open Office conversion worked well with authors too. It has a button that you just click. Give the Freeware a try in CreateSpace first before going to Lightning Source, to save some $$. If it works in one place, it just might work at the other.

3) A photo software

– Here’s where my GIMP comes back in for me. It’s help edit everything that’s a picture, and it’s also free. Need to cut your pictures to 800×600? Use FrameSize. You can NOT keep the entire image when you turn it into this size without skewing the picture, but you can view what will be cut out first before sizing it with this frame tool. This helped me with my Book Trailers. Oh! And make sure to have a photo of yourself, because you’ll need it to post…EVERYWHERE!

4) Web Design Program

– I first learned webdesign on FrontPage and moved on to Dreamweaver. I’ve also read good reviews on a Free software called Kompozer. I downloded Kompozer, exported it to my desktop, and it worked great! I took the code in my Kindle Template, pasted it in the Source tab of Kompzer in the “body” section, and did the Preview to see what it would look like. Watch the Step-By-Step videos on how to use it. There’s also SiteSpinner that’s cheap to buy (less than $60.00).

You should get something faster to upload your files from your PC to your domain, however. I use CoreFTP. Need to learn HTML or remember an HTML code? Go to W3Schools and self-teach. If you’re not much into web designing, just go to Blogger and you don’t have to worry about domains and hosts and html. You just need your Google ID (same login used for YouTube, Analytics, Adsense and Feedburner). A lot of authors have pages with {authorname}.blogspot.com. For more about Web Design stuff, go to my blog: Design a Website for Us Beginners. Oh! Forgot! I purchased my domain name from Namescheap and my host is ICDSoft.

5) Audio software editor

– Whenver I get to this point, I’ll be looking into Audacity (free) for recording audio books. PodCasting 101 has a great list for beginners and what to get, and there’s a Podiobooks 101, so to speak, to help as well. If I ever have another 4-5 hours a day, this would be next on my list to get into, but until then, this is waaaaayyyyy down the list for me.

6) Flip Page software

– You might want to give a nice way for people to get a free peak inside your novel on your personal website. CodeBox and Flip Builder (I use this but it only gives 20 pages) and BookBuzzr are some good options. They use pdf files. Also note, that Kindle and Smashwords allow for a free sample…if you use the checkbox option for it. With Smashwords you can just link to the page that has you book preview and you don’t have to worry about one for your site. You can also make a separate sample page of your novel on your website.

7) Website Statistics

– It’s time to get narcissistic! The best tool to know how many times someone visits your webpage is Google Analytics. I look at this everyday. WebStatChecker is pretty cool as well. Just type your domain in, and click on the underlined hyperlink number for the Yahoo Backlinks. Headkeys gives you an idea of the popular Key Words your website is using that people will search for and possible click to come to your site. Reverse Internet can give you some ideas of who is linking back to you.

8) Book Trailer Tools

– I used Windows Live Movie Maker, which is free, but MAC users can use iMovie. You can get stock photos (images you can use that are royalty free and where someone won’t have a problem with you using their picture) from Dreamstime and your music from AudioJungle. Places like that. Then when you’re done with the Book Trailer, you can post them everywhere like this list below (NOTE: I’ve only done the first five because you get tired of having to create YET another profile/login/password again and again…). Check it out:

  • Your websites/blogsites
  • Your Facebook Page
  • Your Smashbook Book Profile Page(s)
  • Your Amazon Author Profile Page
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Your Myspace MySpaceTV
  • MetaCafe–You have to deal with commercials though
  • Yahoo Video–If you already have an login for Yahoo, then no problem here on having to manage yet another login ID
  • Google Video-But if it becomes popular on YouTube, it will list here. Your google login/Password works here and YouTube and Analytics
  • Media Photobucket
  • Blazing Trailers

9) Backup Your Work Tools

– I use an external hardrive that can plug into my laptop, but mostly I depend on DropBox. After I make changes, I drop everything in here. It’s FREE! And if you don’t have your laptop, but can get access to a PC with internet, you can always access your work.

10) Writing Process and Marketing

  • Help with words

    – Online Dictionary and Thesaurus are my best friends. But TheSage is my blood-brother. Don’t have to be on the internet for this one, though it can work with online help as well.

  • Critique Group

    – Join an online critique group such as CritiqueGroup. I write Science Fictin and Fantasy, so I found a group specific to my genre: Critters.org. For fairness, these sites make sure you critique others and keeps up with your amount of critiques. If you keep a certain average/amount then you can upload your work for critique. If you want to meet physically with someone and/or work with other writers in your area, a local group, try finding one with MeetUp.

  • Getting it Done

    – Have Writer’s Block or just can’t start that book? I HIGHLY recommend NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It takes place mainly in November, but there are writing stuff to do throughout the year as well. It helps you forgive yourself for not being talented, not knowing grammar, and not knowing what to write. Just write without anything stopping you that you think normally would. It has helped me complete several novels. Need a quick boost before sitting down to write? Try OneWord. It’s fast, 60 seconds to write about One Word and it gets the juices flowing.

  • Community of Writers

    – Find a community, rather it’s online or in person. You’ll need the support. You’ll need to talk about writing with those who understand. Find a forum. I enjoy KindleBoards. You can find a community in a critique group as well. Currently, I no longer have a face-to-face critique group, we disbanded after many years (Nothing negative; it just people move one, lives change. That’s the way life goes, you know? A new season…a different reason.). However, I got SO MUCH help from them. They were wonderful people! I now keep track of them on Facebook. I haven’t submitted my work for critiquing for the entire year of 2011, but from 12 years of being in critique groups, I know what to look for now. I also have a reader to look at my novels as well as an editor that I pay for her skills.

  • A Laundry List of Marketing and Promoting

    – See this very long list of things to get into: How To Find Readers and that will keep you busy for a few years while time and more time will get your spiraling to your definition of success!


That’s it! That’s all the brain, downloading/dumping, I can do. Hope it helps!

Later!

How to find readers for your novel–ACTUAL STEPS! Honest Answer

SeeMeEvery time I’ve searched for information on how to get readers and/or how to market or promote my novels, I find a “great title” but absolutely NO REAL INFORMATION on what I should do.

That’s been my frustration and one of the main reasons I started this blog. No one provides REAL steps on how to accomplish things. Either that, Or maybe the majority of people don’t know HOW to give steps, like providing driving instructions– they give just pieces of what to do and where to go and you have to try to make sense of it all or figure it out like a puzzle.

Now granted, I understand that if you follow someone else’s steps that it may or may not work out for you, but at least provide something that DID WORK and give some kind of direction, STEPS, on how it got done. If you do find a site that claims they have the actual steps on how to get fans and/or how they self-published and sold thousands of books, you then would have to pay for it, and usually (though I haven’t paid for any information…but I know this is what would happen because the first part of information offered for free isn’t anything useful) it would be just some “workshop-generic” stuff that just wouldn’t help me, because I found that information, FREE, online somewhere else.

So, what if you’ve already done this list below, which seems to be the basic of what I always find online:

  1. Create a blog
  2. Create a website
  3. Put RSS on your sites
  4. Social media outlets
    1. Create a Facebook page
    2. Get a Twitter account
    3. Sign up for LinkedIn

Then there’s this list that’s practically very hard to do:

  1. Get Book Reviews
  2. Begin an email newsletter
  3. Setup a Book Tour either online or locally

In the beginning, I did dip my toe into sending out to have my books reviewed (just to three places, and yeah, I know that isn’t enough. Like I said, I dipped my toe…and then stopped). And…you know…it reminded me of sending a query letter all over again to publishing houses and agents–the long wait, the rejections, the silent unresponsiveness, the uncertainties. Just like publishing houses and agents, these places that do Book Reviews are SWAMPED. So it’s hard to break in, or to get anyone, to review your book, and to accept you for a Book Tour (You can pay for one of these too, if you like, but see my Slush Pile fear further below). Then, if you DO FINALLY get one or two book reviews, it would take awhile before it’s posted, and they just might not like it, or what if you get a bad review?

I’ve changed my idea on trying to get Book Reviews. And besides, I had always HATED when I went to the bookstore and saw a cool cover, turned the book around and all it had was Reviews and NOTHING to tell me what the book was about. I don’t know who these Reviewers are unless it’s a big name like Stephen King. And the statement about “Best Seller…New York….” review?…this has been sssooo overdone, I’ve just ignore them. I figure, if/when my book starts to get a fan base, my fans will put reviews down for me, and word-of-mouth would be the review. And they did: See Going Free on Amazon…And Book Reviews.

I got confirmation on my new belief on not getting Book Reviews from this person: Brian Spratt. On Number 6 on his page, Letter B, for his Advertising advice, let me quote:

Reviews-They really don’t do as much as one would think. If so, my books wouldn’t sell for The Unsuspecting Mage, my free book, has been eviscerated repeatedly by reviewers. Yet, it is the one that drives all my sales.

Think of it this way, no amount of good reviews will mean squat unless someone can find you to read them. Even then, the climate for reviews is suspect.

Now back to the three-item list above. The item regarding the “newsletter” advice….uh DUH! You need a fan-base FIRST to send them to? Unless you PAY for your novel to be sent by someone who already has a subscriber database. I’m always scared of those because I’m thinking that they would be sending my novel and everybody else’s novel to the SAME PEOPLE (Same Blog sites), and, again, my book would just get lost in the Slush Pile.

However, you can slowly build a email distribution list by having a field/option on your website to subscribe for notifications whenever you get a new novel out. Make sure to add where they can subscribe to the back, or end, of all of your books. However, you do need to have people actually BUYING your book in order for them to want to subscribe…sigh.

Then there’s these additional items to do:

  1. Join forums
    1. Kindle forums
    2. Barnes and Noble Nook
  2. Post comments on blogs
  3. Have friends and family post USEFUL reviews on Amazon
  4. Go to the Author Central on Amazon and sign in to make your Author Profile
  5. Create a Listmania! list on Amazon
  6. Get Car magnets
  7. Do Search engine optimization (SEO) on your website/blog
  8. Make a Book Trailer
  9. Do the LINK thang

I’ve joined author and writing forums, and then realized, though they are also readers, I wanted to now reach people who weren’t authors and writers. I mean, authors and writers got enough on their plate and probably have a back-load of books they’ve been meaning to take time to read…that is, once they get that next chapter finished…and that next novel completed. Plus, they’re doing the same thing I’m doing, and that’s to sell their books. That’s like two salesmen trying to sell the same product to each other. So, I continue the forums to learn something new, but now I’m turning my focus to finding readers. That was the theory anyway. But then I learned something NEW and my theory of selling to other authors changed. Other authors and writers can help to promote you, they can write reviews of your book, they can give you guest posts and interviews on their blogs, share your stuff with their circles and help reach other readers as well. They can help push your book FORWARD. Staying in touch with these forums keeps the sales going.

As for commenting on blogs…if the blog isn’t already FULL of other comments, who’s to say that yours would even be looked at. Besides, the blog-site might have high traffic or even low ones, but don’t want you posting your URL there. You can try to get around it with spelling it out, but people can see what you are doing. The only thing that will benefit is having your link on a popular blog that will help make your website become more popular by the search engines for having your link there.

Friends and Family? Trying to get your friends and family to post USEFUL Reviews besides “it was great! buy it!” is kind of hard. I mean, I feel like I’m dictating to them on what they need to say and how to state it (Now, children, remember to answer the Who, What, When, Where and How questions when completing the review). And more than likely, that would delay them from commenting because that would take too long to type and they would have to find time to type it. Speaking of delay, they may just be that type to delay anyway, late on everything…especially delaying to read your book in the first place (heh. heh.).

The car magnet idea? It might give me some curious bystander once in a blue moon, to come over and inquire, which has actually been pretty fun :). And the Amazon Author Profile is only useful when someone actually finds you. And the Listmania! is useful if people like what you list, which might be connected to what your write. And doing the LINK thing to increase your site’s popularity, goes along with SEOs. You could also create another website on another topic that you are interested in and post LINKS back to your novel’s website as well. But that’s another topic and readers might not be interested in your novel if it’s not related. Or, they might like your personality and be curious about you and buy your novel…that is, if your novel’s topic happens to be another one of their interests. This also goes along with posting on forums (in your signature is your Link Thang) and comments on other blogs. If you write Reviews for anything that you buy, link it back to your Author Name–that is, spell out your first and last name and post it at the end of your review, and put your URL in your profile (i.e. Amazon products that you’ve bought). Don’t put your website at the end of your review because that just changes the mode of your posting–making it sound as if you WANT something and not GIVING something. If someone likes your review, they would Google your name and/or look at your profile to see who you are. Then, BOOM, your URL is right there for them to see.

As for the SEOs? Please don’t pay anyone or anything for it. I’ve got four (4) pages as “top ranked” and I didn’t do anything but post on my blog information that I just didn’t find anywhere else and no one was talking about it. That’s how you do it. Put the search words, you know, words people would type to find sites on Google, and put them in the Tag lines (NOTE: Google Analytics gives the search words used that direct people to my websites and I put those exact words in my Tag listing), but mainly put it in your Title of your site or blog. And that’s it! That’s all I did. No hard-coding html, no looking up of “keywords” or anything. I just posted up simple things that I wanted to share because I couldn’t find it on anyone else’s site. I did the work to do the deed and shared what I found out. Also, my blog has AGED enough (being that I started it in the latter part of 2008) for the search engines to know that my site isn’t Spam. The obvious about getting “top ranked” is that your site just won’t get there if it’s information that’s already saturated. Example: Science Fiction Author. Those keywords just ain’t gonna cut it. So ::shrug:: gottah find another way out of the slush pile of the internet of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, and that is posting something unique that people might want to read about. My unique things was posting stuff about things I could not find readily on the internet to help me…so I figured it out myself and posted it up.

The Book Trailer, though, was pretty fun to make for me. See my posting about it Book Trailers here. But we’re back to square one–people need to know you’re out there for them to view it. I would recommend Fiverr and do a search for jerrylittlemars to get help on increasing your audience on YouTube. He has some ideas, being that I was a newbie and all, that I had no idea about. Some of the ideas may seem like “cheating” to some people, but the tagging thing on Amazon that some authors take part of (Google: Author Tag Exchange), or “liking” each other Facebook pages, or adding Followers on a huge, already populated list of authors for Twitter… all of that may seem like “cheating” to others as well. Just do what’s comfortable to you, which mean, you can use the tools as it’s intentional purpose–it will take longer, but you’ll benefit from it nonetheless. I, for one, will do a little of this or that (more this than that). And I don’t like to support other Authors if I really don’t like what they write…which makes my list very, very, very, very slim. But does Book Trailers bring readers? Not really. It’s one of those “nice-to-haves” for those who want to know a little bit about your book…when they do hear about it. I wouldn’t pay thousands to have one made…it would be a waste, unless you’re already have a huge fan base and you have that kind of money to support your art.

Advertisements(below): let’s not forget the list suggested for that. Most of them you would have to PAY for (and You know I don’t like that word):

  1. Google AdWords $$
  2. Projectwonderful.com $$
  3. local community/city newspaper $$
  4. prlog.org FREE
  5. prweb.com $$
  6. Pay-Per-Click: Google, GoodReads $$
  7. Facebook Ads $$

I’m not using two dollar signs to say it’s expensive, I’m just saying that it costs money. I guess advertisement won’t hurt, but I always go for the FREE stuff (See what I said about PrLog). And then there’s that thing of trying to get the reader’s attention (Hey! Marcel! Are you listening to me!… Heh. Heh. I think that AT&T U-verse commercial is funny). You, again have an ad in a slush pile of other ads. AND from what I’ve read, PAYING for advertisement, just doesn’t quite work most of the time. You end up wasting money. But it has worked for others….

Then there’s the other social stuff that requires a little less effort for those who love to read books where you can do GiveAways and ARC.

  1. GoodReads
  2. Shelfari
  3. LibraryThing

You get involved in these communities and also suggest your book and/or provide free books with GiveAway promotions. Just don’t put up only your books on your read list and only have YOUR BOOKS always on the forefront of your entire profile/login and in your ENTIRE conversation. Be a part of the community because you’re also reading other works. Learn about the community in order to become a part of it. For me, however, I barely have time to write, let alone read books. So, this will come later for me…when I have that time again, to really get into the community, I think it would help–but I did sign up. I listed some books I’ve read 20+ years ago on Shelfari (I used somewhat the same list I have on Listmania on Amazon), only because Shelfari is connected to Author Central. See my “What the Heck” blog on what happened when I did that. I also exported the Shelfari list and imported into GoodReads and LibraryThing. Easy Peasy. Writers are Readers–we love books! So, reading and talking about books you like makes you a part of something fun!

You can also do the GiveAway by providing coupons to people through Smashwords. Do the coupon instead of using your own money of gifting in Amazon, which, though you get some money back, you have to pay taxes on it. And, if you do use Amazon for gifting, use a limited credit card–i.e. gift credit card you can buy from a store. Do not use your personal credit card, to buy it. It helps manage things better, and keep the Credit people from thinking someone stole your credit card (one author posted) for buying items for people overseas. Offering ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) to readers is something you can do too. ARC is a proof of a book prior to full distribution. They are usually not the final copy of the novel and are uncorrected. It’s used for promotional purposes–NOT FOR MONEY. You don’t sale ARC books. But getting people to WANT your ARC is the same as trying to get a Book Review.

Then comes the bottom line about getting readers….

If none of this is working for you, then the last thing you need to do, the online “helpful” people state, is:

  • Make sure you have a polished book (grammar, edited, good cover etc.), and a well written one, because that might just be the problem

What if you’ve already did this (hired the editor, great cover book artist) and you know your book is professionally done and there’s still no one buying your books and there’s still no traffic coming to your blog and/or website?

How do you get those readers darnit!

Sooo…how do you do that?

You might be a bit disappointed of my answer because you wanted answers to that MAJOR question…but if you’ve looked everywhere like me, you’ll see that there isn’t one. You might feel jilted and bamboozled because you read this entire thing for an answer, and that’s exactly how I felt doing this research. THERE IS NOT AN ANSWER. That’s the bottom line. No answer. Nope. No answer. None. Zip. Zelch. Nada. Nothing. Nooooo.

And when I can’t find an answer, then I come up with my own. That’s what you do, and that’s how things happen. During this journey, I’ve come to the end and seen the answer; and though all the things that I’ve stated above sounds negative and pessimistic–and that’s only because none of it will guarantee ANYTHING–my answer on to how to market and get your book notice…?

DO IT ALL!



Do every thing that you can possibly do to be seen. DO EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!

My personal example…

In 2009, I didn’t sell a single book..the ENTIRE year.
In 2010, I didn’t sell but ONE book, and that was in December.
From December 2010 – February 2011 I was selling one (1) book a month on Kindle.
Then starting March 2011, there were four (4) books on Kindle.
In April, it went to three (3) books sold on Kindle.
In May 2011, there were three (3) books sold on Kindle.
In June 2011, there were six (6) books sold on Kindle.
In July 2011, there were seven (7) books sold on Kindle, along with my new book I just added this month, making four published books total.
In August 2011, there were 40 books sold on Kindle, because Irid, amazingly, went free. See my What The Heck! posting. I had lowered my pricing to $0.99 as well to encourage more buys. And at Diesel, through Smashwords, sold six (6) novels. I then raised the price again back to $2.99 before September.
In September 2011, there were about forty (40) books sold on Kindle..and the sales kept up a few weeks after my book stopped being free. (Any sales for Smashwords this month, I have to wait on reporting because they have to wait on the other stores to send them their report).
In October 2011, sales have trickled down to 19 on Kindle, so far this month.

It might sound like very small potatoes and numbers to you…but for me IT SOUNDS GREAT!! I don’t know where these readers came from or how I did it (I didn’t sell anything in 2009 or 2010–well, one book in 2010). It might be when I started giving my books for FREE on Smashwords (i.e. Nook as well), and going FREE on Amazon definitely helped. I have no idea. But, I highly suggest you do that, being a new author, make your book Free, because who can’t pass up a Free Book? And who wants to spend money, and take a wager, on someone they don’t know? Give your book away…for FREE. I know, you want to get paid for all that hard work and all that money that you put into this project, but to get money, you have to spend money/loose money…and build a fan base.

BETTER YET, think of this strategy as NOT HAVING TO PAY FOR ADVERTISEMENT. This is how Word-Of-Mouth helps you out. FREE is a marketing tool. You’ll reach a lot of people this way, and it will save you hours and hours of trying to market it yourself. It’s worth it. Also, just because it is Free doesn’t necessarily mean people would be interested in it–so, don’t be fooled. They might not like the description, or sample, and pass it up. OR, they just might like it enough to actually purchase one of your other books. If you don’t want to do the FREE thing, do the $0.99 thing. Call it a PULL (as Role Playing Gamers call it when positioning a Boss Monster for the kill). Pull your fans to you. Give to Receive. Provide service in order to be served. The yin and the yang. And with each hard step, or fun one, you will reach your goals.

I’ve reached my goal!

Yep, I sure did. These small potatoes of sells have MET MY GOAL! Yep. Yep. All I wanted was a few “strangers” to read my stories. That’s it. I didn’t have a number of “how many,” I just wanted someone to be interested.

And someone was…interested. YEAH! WHO-YAH!
Take that FATE! Take it! Take it!

Yeah! I’m EXCITED with a capital E.T. !

I’ve done the deed and met the goal without the “formula” to do it–because there is no formula.

JA Konrath

Chance. Luck. Randomness. We hate these things, because we want to be in control of our careers. We want to believe that working hard will make us winners.

That isn’t necessarily true. But working hard can improve your odds at success.

No one has a formula of what will be popular. If one Book was popular, someone could take another book, do the exactly same things for promoting it and it bombs. You don’t have to be popular or famous or already in the marketing to know this. Just look around at music and TV shows and movies. Ideas are started, and those who started the idea become shocked with the results when it becomes popular. Case in point: Married… with Children (TV show) and The Simpsons.

Then there’s shows that I really, really liked: Witches of Eastwick, Journey Man, John Doe, Stargate Universe, WitchBlade, The Dresden Files, TheBackYardigans…and they were all cancelled before I was ready for them to go. But shows like Smallville goes on for years (I like Smallville, but not as much as I liked those others I listed that were cancelled). And look at The Bee Movie. Great animation, great line-up of actors, but the story and so called “comedy” was horrible! And how about that famous photo V-J Day in Times Square. Who knew that a photo like that would last for lifetimes! And those other iconic photos: The Kent State Massacre and the Vietnam War, and Marilyn Monroe’s flying dress, and the raising of the U.S. Flag on Iwo Jima. So, you get what I’m saying. No one knows and no one has the golden key. So…

DO EVERYTHING!

DoEverything

And that’s what you have to do. Increase your Odds.

Increasing the amount of stories for consumption would help too.

WRITE MORE BOOKS

Yep. Increase your odds. Get working on those novels, short stories, novellas…. The more works out there, the more consumption, the more readers, and more of keeping it NEW.

And make a few of them FREE!

Aaannnndddd…lower your expectations. Yeah. lower them. Start with small goals and when you meet them, then start another. My goal?…To reach a few strangers who might like my book. DONE! My next goal? I wanted (Past Tense “wanted”) to see those FREE Books on Smashwords numbers continue to increase. I wanted them to keep going until they’ve reach 5,000–for one book, not a combination of them. That was my goal.

It didn’t happen.

What did happen was that I surpassed the 5,000 downloads goal when my book IRID went free on Amazon. Over 8,000 downloads!

Goal met!

My next goal? To keep my trickle of buys per week…UP. How to do that? I’m working on an idea and we’ll see if it works.

Back on topic on goals: Small accomplishing goals. Think Small. Any other way of thinking, you might as well be thinking of winning the lottery (see this blog on Publish your book or play the lottery?). So, really? You’re gonna win the lottery? That’s what is means to be as “successful like Stephen King, J. K. Rowling and Amanda Hocking” is all about. You have to change your mindset…and build gradually…and define your own success. But You CAN make a living, according to Dean Wesley Smith on his blog: You CAN Make Money Writing Fiction. All you need is dozens of books for your store instead of having a store and only selling ONE (1) item. Having a store with MULTIPLE things for purchase can help you make money.

Read: So You Want To Become A Bestselling Author–Here’s How (Part 1)

It might redirect your mental aim a bit and get you where you need to go. Because running after the Lottery would only smother your spirit. And you give up. You stop. And become bitter. Instead of concentrating on increasing your merchandises for purchase, you just stop.

So, continue to do it all. DO EVERYTHING. And after you’ve done everything, then there’s TIME. Yep, time. You have to wait. Let things build up. Just like webpages have to age to be accepted as legitimate sites, so does your name and book titles. You have to wait and wait and wait. And while you’re waiting, you’re writing; and while you’re writing, you’re blogging and socializing. DON’T SELL–SOCIALIZE! Do the things you love to do online and become social. The more you’re out there and become a part of many different communities, the more people get to learn about you and what you do. Then you wait some more, and get more novels out there, and wait some more, and communicate to the online communities, and wait some more. Some writers state it takes anywhere from 9 months to 2 years before your books starts getting noticed and bought.

I don’t mean to disappoint anyone, but that’s the Honest Answer….so don’t go paying for one, because it’s not out there.

You might say, “Well, you’re not successful! You’re not selling thousands of books!” To me, that’s the same thing as saying, “Well, you’re not a millionaire! So, you’re not successful!” And to both of those statements I’ll say, “Successful? Why, yes I am!” Because I met my goal. I have a house. I’m debt free (meaning, no credit cards and everything paid in cash); both cars paid off, student loan is history, a little savings, a daughter, a cat, and a wonderful husband who cooks my breakfast, lunch and dinner (I do the cleaning); and I can travel twice a year for vacations; and we’re not living from paycheck to paycheck. Now that’s successful in life for me. And it took years to build it–from elementary to college to temporary jobs to professional experience, to giving up cable, to saving and not spending on things that are not “needful”, and doing a lot of stuff myself (my hair, my lawn–though now we can afford someone else to do the lawn–ironing instead of dry cleaning, etc. etc.). This is the same as self-publishing.

My novels? I have a few strangers buying…and it’s slowly building. And I got a few more books that I’m working to release. I’ll let you know if I’m still not successful in a few years, and even then, I’ll tell you the same thing: “Why, yes I am!” Because I wrote my first book in 1997 (finished two years later) and didn’t decide to self-publish and do the “Do It Yourself” project and get it out there until 2008. I wrote books over the years, and today I can afford to pay an editor and a Cover Designer, when I couldn’t 12 years ago. And my book is being bought! Something that wasn’t happening several years ago.

You understand what I’m saying now? Remember your first job? I do. Mine was at Del Taco. Am I still working there? Heh. Heh. Not in your life. So that’s why I can honestly say, if you ask if I’m successful in a few years… my answer will still be: “Why, yes I am!”

Your goal is to be successful, and to do that, you have to make your own way and find and define your own answer, because it’s the uniqueness of things that are popular.

JUST DO IT! DO EVERYTHING!

And then let time take its course.

Until Next Time.

Going Free on Amazon…and Book Reviews

In the KindleForums, I always see these HUGE numbers quoted of books being sold, and then I see my small potatoes of sells, and… I’m Happy! Thought I would say I was NOT happy? Huh? Huh? Nope.

I’m happy!

I’ve set my prices free on Smashwords, to make it free on Barnes and Noble some months back. I didn’t upload to PubIt only because I didn’t know about it until I found the KindleBoards forum, but I do like the coupon option and multiple eBook formats given by Smashwords (I might mess around with PubIt sometime later). I didn’t get any sells on my one (1) book that was not free on Smashwords (The Made). But I did get a few reviews on Barnes and Noble and a few ranks (about seven people marked the stars).

Then one of my books went free on Amazon. I didn’t do anything to get it free. The one thing I did do was connect my books with Shelfari, and as soon as I did that, one went free. Not sure if it was related, but that’s what happened (See What the Heck).

I’m small potatoes in sells, not anything that’s been listed on forums, which are hundreds of sales in days and week, but I’ve let you know that I’ve only sold about 7 books a months since this March 2011 (I’ve had the books out since 2009–things changed when I put the books for free on Smashwords/B&N earlier this year and sells trickled then to Amazon). Now that I’ve had one book Free on Amazon (my book IRID), I’ve sold 40 of my other three books. I did set two of my books to .99 for a week (The 9th Symbol and Ruby, Flesh and Heart), and that’s when it really sold. Next week, they’re going back up to 2.99…just to see what happens.

So, since IRID went free on Amazon sometime around Aug 10 or 11, 2011, I’ve had almost 8,000 downloads (over 14-15 days), and I’ve gotten three more reviews added to my one review that’s sat lonely since March 2010. I had about 3,000 downloads on my two free books on Smashwords over a period of 5 months. In the forums, people quote these numbers happen to them in just over a period of days, but mine took a week. Why is that? I don’t know. It might be the genre and my subject matter–the mixture of the two is pretty rare. However, what has happened for me for this month is better than the entire 2009 year! So, that’s why I’m

HAPPY

.

I’ve since changed the pricing on Smashword and the downloads stopped. It took almost 2 weeks for the Free status to change on Barnes & Noble. Now…I’m going to do the waiting game and see what happens.

On Amazon, it was fun being #1 in a genre for a week!! 🙂

REACH FOR THE STARS!

About Book Reviews

I’m currently writing about my new opinion on how to get readers, which includes a area about Book Reviews. It will be posted at a later date. It also includes my new opinion on not soliciting for Book Reviews. But for now, I wanted to say that because of the free books, I’ve managed to get a trickle of reviews on Amazon, as I said earlier. Then, when I registered with GoodReads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari, I saw who had it marked to read my book, who had read them, and saw a few more reviews–just little numbers:

GoodReads – 1 two-stars with a written review, 2 three-stars (1 star is “I didn’t like it” 2 stars is “OK”, 3 Stars is “I liked it”, 4 stars I really liked it and 5 stars is “Amazing”.)
Amazon – 2 two-stars and 2 five-stars (1 star is Awful, 2 stars is Poor, 3 stars Neutral, 4 stars is Good and 5 stars is Excellent).
LibraryThing – no ratings, but a few people have IRID in their queue (Star rating can include 1/2 stars, so it’s like movie ratings)
Shelfari – no ratings but 18 people have it on their shelf (1 star is “I hated it” 2 stars is “I didn’t like it”, 3 Stars is “I liked it”, 4 stars “I really liked it” and 5 stars is “I loved it”)
Barnes and Noble – about 7 ratings averaging 4 1/2 stars–no ratings on The Made (not loaded yet) and The 9th Symbol. (1 star is Poor, 2 stars is Disappointing, 3 stars is “Okay, but not great”, 4 stars is Recommended, 5 stars is “Outstanding”)

When looking at the different rating stars, you have to remember the differences. A 2-star on Goodreads is a 3-Star on Amazon.

There you have it for today. My Book Reviews without soliciting for them. So far, they are pretty neutral. I can’t wait to see more in a few months, once those who have downloaded the free versions start posting their opinions.

Negative Book Reviews

From an advice on the forums that I’ve been reading, an author should NEVER, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever… comment on a negative review. Ever. I read how some authors who have commented, and things got really nasty, and really bad…really fast. Some authors just gave up and pulled all their books off the shelf, just because of this. Just remember to wear your thick skin. People are entitled to their opinions. What one reviewer might not like, another might. Some negative reviews even bring on more readers!

Example, I got two negative reviews (they at least gave me 2-stars and not 1-star), but then a 5-star came around after those and, to me, that blew the other 2-star reviews away by reading like a very thoughtful and in-depth review, in just a few short sentences! I thought, at first, that my story telling wasn’t getting across correctly, and I was discouraged and down for a few days. THEN this review came in (and my down emotions went up and skyrocketed! Thank goodness it came soon), and now I know I’ve reached at least one person on why I write what I do. I also had to remember that at the other book store, I got more 5-stars than not. See what I’m saying?

You’re going to get bad reviews. The only time to start worrying about them is if you KEEP getting bad reviews. And remember there’s different cultures and different types of readers. You’re a reader, right? There are some things you like and some things you don’t like. You might see at one store that a particular item has 5 stars and at another it just has 3 stars.

You must form your own opinion based on everything provided. Let time let you know the overall results, and don’t give up! And keep reaching for those stars!

Until next time!

Book Trailers and FREE eBooks

Yep, I made some Book Trailers and I’m giving away FREE eBooks. You can find the ebooks at Barnes and Noble Nook and at Smashwords

My favorite word…FREE. And why am I offering my books for FREE you ask? Well, just two of them. I just can NOT give me baby, my first born creation, The Made, out for free. But the other two, I don’t mind.

I’m not making any money anyway, so why not build up a fan base with some FREE stuff! As I write this, I currently have over 1,100 downloads/views of Ruby, Flesh and Heart on Smashword…and counting. I’ve been giving them away for free since February and I’m just now posting that fact. Heh. Heh. I have this goal that when, or if, I reach 5,000 downloads/views, then I’ll make them “payable” again. The hubby set that number. I figure that would be a good goal to reach. And who DOESN’T like the “F” word when it comes to stuff?

FREE!!

Book Trailers


Yep. Decided to make me some Book Trailers while I was at it. You can view them all on YouTube under my PenVizion (that’s with a Z) User Name. I downloaded the Windows Live Movie Maker and did some test runs with Microsoft Clip Arts before actually buying some Stock Photos and Stock Music to use. I went to Dreamstime for the photos and bought the music at AudioJungle. I must say, these two sites got some great stuff! I downloaded like 27 images for about $140.00 and the songs were like $14.00 each (with $2.00 added for using PayPal, making them $16.00 each). I just listen to the music just for fun because I love the way they sound. I replay and replay and replay….

My lessons learned on working on Book Trailers?
When I used the Clip Arts and then changed the photos to what I bought from Dreamstime, I had to redo the fonts, lighting and transitions because the photos were just too different, and the “mood” of the pictures changed the entire theme.

Wasted Money?
There was just one (1) song and one (1) picture that I didn’t use. I think that was pretty good. I learned to do the Movie first and then just run the movie and play the music off of AudioJungle before buying the song…just to see how the song looked with the Movie Photos. It took me four (4) entire days to complete them. And I’ve posted them on my Author Page on Amazon, on Smashword, in this blog, on my website, and in Facebook.

Hope you like them as much as I do. THEY WERE A LOT OF WORK! So, of course I’m gonna really like them!

Enjoy the show! 🙂

Movable Type…Again…And Going to Natural Hair

So, I’m continually figuring out little ways that I can do to market online, without having to spend too much time, since currently I just don’t have the time. As I do my baby steps towards marketing, that will be one last thing I need to do when I do have the time.

One thing I learned on my internet research is to put your Second Skill to work. If you put your Second Skill out there, you can drive more traffic to your First Skill. For example, my First Skill is writing and I do have a Second Skill, which is my job, of programming telephone systems and call centers. If I created another blog and/or website about my knowledge of my Second Skill, then on those web pages I can direct traffic to my First Skill with just a link/click away.

But, I’m not going to use my Second Skill, since I consider that “work”. I decided to open up another blog page about my new project: Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair. Remember back when in 2008 I was looking for a Blog site? Well, I put my adventures on this page: Finding a Blog…. And I noted how much of a difficult time I had with installing Movable Type that I placed my own instruction on the internet on how to install Movable type to maybe help someone else.

So, why am I talking about Movable Type since I had such a hard time with it two years ago? Well, since I already had that blog uploaded on the net, I decided to use that for my blogging for my steps from transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. I mean, it was there and not being used, right? I had forgotten how difficult it was to even manipulate the thing. That blog was pretty plain, and so I had to figure out, ALL OVER AGAIN, steps on how to make it more personable. It took HOURS! And when I finally figured SOMETHING out (after resizing a picture file using Gimp, figuring out html tables and widths, learning where the header and banner and styles and widgets for columns were and what they did), I was only able to add a little picture and a short list links.

Then, MORE HOURS went in to figure out the RSS Feed for Movable Type (remember my I thought I knew blog). Well, I didn’t quite understand Movable Type atom thing (which is basically like rss), thinking some mysterious icon will magically appear on my header for people to click — something that indicated “Hey! This Page has RSS” button. No magically RSS button appeared, and I finally figure out that it was just “formatting” for people who use an actual software, or their webpage, to pull in the RSS on their browser. So I went to my Google Feedburner, made a thingy there. And copied a nice little path to make me a RSS button and link back to Google Feedburner, adding it to my Movable Type Banner Header. Side Note: I still have no idea how the atom thingy works since that is somehow directed back to my own webpage. Sigh.

Then I found out I had to UPGRADE the Movable Type thingy!! YIKES! That took me TWO WHOLE DAYS to figure out and complete. Duh! Naturally, I typed up instructions on how to Upgrade Movable Type as well. And along with that, I updated my instruction on how to install Movable type, because, 1) you basically have to reinstall the entire thing in order to upgrade it and 2) my first instructions were back in 2008 and outdated. Man! Uploading and Downloading files took 20-30 minutes. And I did it THREE TIMES because I didn’t see the BIG RED WARNING sign to NOT COPY MOVABLE TYPE FILES WHEN UPGRADING.

I’m SO GLAD that Word Press upgrades are now just a Click of a Button.

Don’t ask me why I’m making myself suffer through learning all this stuff. I don’t know. I get into something, thinking it won’t be a big deal, and get stuck. Then, since I can’t let it go, I have to figure it out until it gets solved. But hopefully, in the long run, what I learn will benefit someone else. That’s what I love about the internet, because that’s what I did to learn about how to transition from relaxed to natural hair. I gathered all the information together, and put it in a structure that suited me. And now I’m sharing that information on my other blog site. And as for “Marketing” I put a Big Sign up top:

Websites! I Like!

So there you have it. More steps in my Self Publishing Process.

Until next time… and oh yeah! Happy New Year!

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